Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Brilliant Beyond Brilliant Idea by the Dutch

Photo by Mary Vee, Kinderdijk near Amsterdam

This is an idea on steroids. Why am I especially excited about what I am about to share? 

In my newsletter, distributed earlier this week, I took readers on a virtual tour of an old style windmill. We climbed the interior floors, touched the sails, watched the water pumped from the land out to the river. The water was then pumped out to sea.

We had such fun. (You can get a copy of the newsletter and take the trip with me still by going to this link and signing up: Virtual Tour of Netherland's Windmills  )

Anyway, today's brilliant idea is the restoration of a famous painting. Rembrandt's Night Watch.

Ah, I hear you saying, BORING. 

Not so.

This is different. Way different.

The artist/s commissioned to do the work will begin July 2019 and work in full view of the public in the Rijksmuseum located in Amsterdam. Right on the main floor of the museum. Talk about ultimate pressure. BUT there is more! This restoration will be streamed so that anyone with internet, anywhere, can watch the process!

Click in, watch a bit. Leave. Come back another time.

The marketing is truly amazing. Thousands will plan trips to watch the process. I would.

Imagine witnessing the rebirth of a 1642 painting that spans 12.5 feet by 15 feet. This massive canvas weighs 743 pounds and is considered one of the most famous paintings in all the world. The director of this Amsterdam museum says it belongs to us all so everyone should have an opportunity to view the process.

Why is this painting so famous? Rembrandt broke the established rules of the time. Subjects in typical pieces of the day were posed, standing or sitting. Rembrandt painted his figures in action. Subjects pointed, discussed, played drums. 

Movement in the painting draws us in. We ask questions. Walk to the left. To the right. There is so much to see. 

Rembrandt's masterpiece will be protected in a glass chamber throughout the process.  I would imagine the artist/s will set up their studio, including palettes filled with paints, brushes, drop clothes right there for all to see. Perhaps it will be sound proof so when that finite stroke is started no one will startle the artist. 

How exciting to witness!

Even more than Disneyland.

Plan a trip sometime to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam sometime between July 2019 and, oh, I don't know, I'll guess 2022. The estimate is that the work will take years. Hopefully not as long as it took Michaelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, four years. 

For more information about this exciting event go to:

This post has been brought to you by the
one-word: Brilliant Idea

Speaking of brilliant ideas my new book is on sale for the holiday season. Hop on over to Amazon and pick up your copy. 

And this year my Christmas book is about Peace on Earth. Just released: “Christmas with the Enemy.” Grizzlies. The Rocky Mountains, and a family only Scrooge could have sent. Kindle version on sale for $0.99 or the Dickens’ classic look in paperback.

Click Here for ebook or classic Dickens' style paperback

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

All Things New- I Have Two!

This week I would like to tell you about two exciting "new." I leave the period there because I don't want to spoil what they are before you look below...

First, I found a new restaurant--the Old Christmas Station located in downtown Frankenmuth, Michigan.

I walked in the main door on the side of the building and found myself magically stepping into Europe. Music from France, Germany, and Italy, played with interludes from a German radio announcer. My German is a bit rusty, so I'm not exactly sure what was said, and I didn't care. This cozy restaurant transported me to one of many restaurants I'd visited in France, Switzerland, and Germany. 

A waiter came to our table. He was dressed in a white shirt, black pants as many waiters do in Europe. He didn't carry paper and pencil but slighly leaned forward as if fully engaged in the dining experience. We listened to his question and while we considered what we would order to drink, he stood with straight leg, patiently waiting our answer. European dining, even for lunch, is never rushed. Always appreciated.

We started with coffee served on a silver tray. Notice the small creamer. The plate including sugar, cream, spoon, napkin alongside the cup and saucer is typical fare even for a coffee shop along the Rhine River.

We chose a three course meal. 
I ordered a salad and was pleasantly surprised at the presentation. Notice how the ingredients are gracfully clumped over a bed of lettuce. Insodoing, dazzling red, orange and green colors woo diners to begin their meal. I gently drizzled dressing from the cup and tasted. Ooo. Such vibrant, balsamic flavor! Not too oily or vinegary like what is made in Italy.

For the second course, my hubby ordered a German dish, wiener schnitzel with house made spätzle. He lived in Germany for many years and his heritage is German, so his expectations were based on what his mother used to make. From his first bite, I could tell the gravy-coated breaded pork and delicate house made spätzle transported him even farther back to his grandmother's home. There was not one word of conversation after that point. He was far too enraptured with savoring authentic flavors from his youth. Needless to say, he will order wiener schnitzel here again.

I ordered Italian. Spaghetti Marinara. Thick, rich, tomatoe sauce with just the right amount of garlic, basil, onion, and other flavors matched what I'd eaten in Italy. Do you know the story behind spaghetti? An Italian told me spaghetti was considered the poor man's meal. In the old days, Italians took remnants of meat left over from the meal before, added it to tomatoe sauce, and poured over noodles. LOL! And now look. Spaghetti has been refined as a dish served in nice restaurants!!

The Old Christmas Station also serves handmade ravioli and, well, I'll inlcude a sample of their menu below rather than listing them. Keep in mind, any prices shown may not be current when you read this.

For dessert, hubby ordered traditional tiramisu. By the way, he is a connoisseur of this dessert. The unreachable bar set by this dessert once enjoyed in Venice. Did you know tiramisu was invented there? While the texture from The Old Christmas Station's dessert was smooth and creamy, and the favors comparable to the Venetian dish, he thought it needed a tad more coffee.

My third course was the apple strudel. Light. Warm. The gentle sweet apple melted in my mouth delightfully lingering as a memorable last note of a symphony. Absolutely perfection.

As is done in Europe, the menu is posted outside behind a glass.

If you have a chance to visit Frankenmuth, Michigan, I highly recommend this authentic European restaurant. Please note, the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

Now for my Second "New"

My new book has just been released
is now available on Amazon!

The cover for Christmas With The Enemy was designed with the classic look of Charles Dickens' days, including the spine decoration. I wish I could have had a hard copy made to complete the look for my library. Maybe someday. For now, the book is available in paperback and ebook.

Christmas With The Enemy: 
If Ebenezer Scrooge had descendants, the Chicago Windermeres and Montana Tuckers would be them. As a result,Christmas doesn’t turn out as planned for either family. A glacier helping of Scrooge's spirit invades their festivities, leaving a wake of an impossible Romeo and Juliet story. Even the McCoys and the Hatfields would be surprised. The question remains: can there be Peace on Earth in this Rocky Mountain blizzard? This is a blizzard of a read.

Here are the links:

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: SomethingNew

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Fourth Castle Ghost Story Heard on the River Rhine

Today I will share yet another ghost story told on the River Rhine. When you think about it, most ghost stories technically are told like an Aesop Fable. They are short and have a lesson. The slight difference is: the fable's lesson is spelled out while the ghost story's lesson can be interpreted by the listener.

So, here is the fourth ghost story I heard on the River Rhine:

PHOTO by Mary Vee
Vineyards along the Rhine River

Once upon a time, seven beautiful virgins lived along the Rhine. Their beauty was known throughout the land. 

They tended their vineyards in the day and celebrated life at night singing and dancing, never once inviting anyone to join them.

Young men longed to see even one of these beautiful women and dance with her. None received the opportunity.

Photo by Mary Vee
Armor room in a castle on the Rhine River

One day, seven Knights known for their kindness and heroic acts heard the story. They rode their horses to where the seven beautiful virgins lived, seeking to win the favor of even one. 

For many days the Knights visited the vineyards and asked to speak with them. "Please," they said. "We only wish one dance." For they thought: if the women would agree to meet them, and see their sincerity and kindness, they'd win their favor. 

The messenger returned each time with their answer: no.

The days dragged on. Each day the Knights faithfully went to the vineyards and asked to meet the beautiful virgins. They left messages stating they only wanted one dance.

Each day the messenger returned with the reply: The seven virgins said no.

"Are they searching for a certain man?" the Knights asked.

"No." The messenger then said softly, "They choose to reject all."

And so the knights gave up. They rode away with sad hearts.

Photo by Mary Vee
Rhine River

Not long after, word had spread throughout the country that seven new islands appeared in the River. They were small and beautiful. 

The truth was then told that the cold hearts of the virgins had turned them to stone.

Ever since that day, boats weave around seven islands in the river.

And now for my news:

My Christmas Story is due to be released. October 8 is the date. The cover was designed with a classic look to match Dickens' story, A Christmas Carol because if there ever was a descendent of Scrooge, Cal and Gil would be the ones. This is what the cover looks like:

Paperback and ebook versions will be available from your bookseller

This post has been brought to you by the one word: RhineRiver

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The City Of Grand Rapids is Alive with Art Prize

Grand Rapids, Michigan is hosting Art Prize. It is a downtown event. Streets are lined with amazing art ranging in tens of categories. The exhibits are free to view. You only need a good pair of walking shoes.

This particular entry captured my eye because I could also capture city buildings in the photo. 

More than the interesting photo, the concept driving this piece amazed me. So creative. So inventive. So well executed.

The artist interviewed random individuals in Grand Rapids, recording unique snippets. She chose short clips then printed the phrase on a piece of clothing. What I liked was how the clothing items matched something about the quote, for example: one spoke of older days. The message was printed on an early 60's pleated skirt. You might be able to zoom in on the next photo to read some of the sayings. 

Hundreds of people walked through the clotheslines, reading messages, laughing for some, serious for others. This interactive piece, received my vote for their category.

This is another amazing piece. Hung in the convention center, it was a huge piece. Easily fifty people stood in front when I arrived, giving me only this odd angle to take the picture. They pointed to objects, showing and discussing with whomever was with them an intriguing portion. This was not a piece viewers glanced at and walked on. I'd say they stayed at least several minutes or more.

These two pieces seemed the most complex, intriguing, thought provoking to me. Although I truly enjoyed the Phoenix, and the immense carving/photo of Michigan.

There were many other amazing pieces as well. I understand some light up at night!

The artists who presented their work for this year's Grand Rapids Art Prize deserve kudos.

All three photos are by Mary Vee
Grand Rapids 2018 Art Prize

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: CheckOutYourLocalFestival

What festival is held in a town near you?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Western Hurricanes and Eastern Typhoon Bully the Land

As you know, hurricanes and typhoons are the same storm but are given different names based on the location. While I had about three different ideas for today's post, my mind refused to walk away from these storms. 

I've never lived or happened to visit an area during either of these storms, but I've lived through four tornadoes. Maybe you haven't experienced either of these but you've endured something else. It seems that every place on the earth has a unique issue either from earth, fire, or water. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, Fire, Such a list.

Typhoon over the Philippines
Photo Courtesy: NASA
user rights: labeled for reuse

Hurricane Florence
Photo Courtesy: Department of Defense
user rights: labeled for reuse

At times such as these, we feel our dreams may not come true. Ever. Much is lost. Much feels like it can never be regained.

Doors slam in our face or collapse, seemingly impossible to go through again. And the windows, well they just seem too small.

Thankfully, we're truly never alone. Heroes come to the rescue. You know the ones. Those who not only provide for our basic needs, medical, food, water, housing, but the ones who do more than listen. They encourage us to keep trying. They stand by us. Walk with us. Cry with us. Hold our hand. They set goals above what we feel we can reach then help us meet them. They distract us from the sorrow and the I can'ts and watch us unknowingly reach the bar.

So let's talk about the heroes.

I'll start the list, then you add.

Food Banks
Blood Banks
Schools converted to temporary housing
Good Samaritan
Nationwide volunteers
Truckers who transport needed supplies
Loved ones who stayed back with those unable to evacuate. 
In the Philippines, I'll add the diggers who painstakingly work to uncover those trapped.
The food preparers for workers
Those who donate food, money, medical, and other supplies
Those who organization distributions
Businesses like Waffle House who fly in workers and provide food. 

Okay your turn. Help me talk about the unsung heroes who help us move past the bullies. 

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: UnsungHeroes

Daring to Live
Never Give Up Stories

Dedicated to the people from the Carolinas and the Philippines

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Third Castle Ghost Story Heard on the Rhine

Today we share a third castle ghost story heard on the River Rhine. To read the first two, scroll down to the previous posts. 

Ehrenfels Castle, Rhine River
Photo by Mary Vee

There is a legend told about the archbishop who owned two buildings. A castle, the Ehrenfels Castle 

Mauseturn built on an island
in Rhine River
Photo by Mary Vee

and the Mauseturm (Mouse Tower). The castle stood high on a hill across the river from the tower.

There once was a very evil archbishop who had a castle built on a high hill on the eastern banks overlooking the Rhine River. The castle was called Ehrenfels. He forced ever ship sailing the river to pay tolls before being allowed to sail past his castle. To deal with the crew who refused to pay, the archbishop had a tower built on a small island across the river. There he stationed archers and commanded them to fire upon the crew of any ship refusing to pay.

Ehrenfels castle ruins, Rhine River,
photo by Mary Vee
Long about the end of the first century, a terrible famine rage through the area. By this time, the archbishop had accumulated and stored a vast amount of grain in his barns. The citizens begged the archbishop for food. He raised the price of grain so that only the rich could afford to buy any. 

The workers of the castle and the poor from the village around begged again. When he refused to feed them, they gathered together and planned a revolt.

The archbishop heard about the citizen's plan and devised a cruel idea. "My people, go to the empty barn and wait there. I will bring you food so that you may fill your stomachs."

The people rejoiced and cheered for the archbishop. The healthy helped the sick up the hill to the barn where they entered and sat waiting for the food. Their stomachs growled. Parents told their children of the coming food and to patiently wait.

The archbishop and his servants walked up the hill to the barn. He heard the people laughing and singing on the inside, joyfully awaiting their food. "Barricade the doors," he ordered. The servants did as ordered.

"Light the barn," the archbishop ordered.

Again, the servants obeyed.

The peasants inside rushed for the doors. They banged and cried to be released while the archbishop stood and watched. He said to his servants standing nearby, "Listen to the mice squeak."

The archbishop returned to his castle (Ehrenfeld) and walked through the gate. Due to the hour, the gate was closed for the evening. The archbishop walked the corridor toward his chamber. As he did, a horde of mice crawled out from the walls. Thousands poured into the corridor. They surrounded the archbishop biting him until he ran. "Quick, ready my boat!"

The island where the Mauseturn is located in
the Rhine River, Mary Vee across the river
to the right, out of view of this photo, is the
Ehrenfeld Castle.

His servants prepared his boat and pushed off as his last foot leaped inside. The archbishop prayed the mice could not swim. Many could not and drowned. Still, thousands poured into the river following the boat. The servants oared using all their strength under the bellows of the archbishop. They crossed the river to the island tower where he'd stationed archers. "Leave at once," he ordered them.

The tower was sealed and sleeping quarters set up for archbishop on the top floor. 

The mice remained determined in their goal even though many drowned in the continued pursuit. They chewed on the tower doors, eating a hole through the wood. In mass, they crawled up the tower stairs to the top floor where they found the archbishop's bed suspended in the air. They crawled up the walls across to the ropes and down to the archbishop's bed where they enveloped him and ate him alive.

Although this is a Rhine River legend, this sort of story reminds me of Grimms Fairy Tales. Stories that drive home a point in a very sharp way. Have you read any of the Grimms Brother's tales?

This post has been brought to you by the one word, GhostStoryOnThe RiverRhine

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Day The Troll Kissed The Yooper

 Suspension Tower, Mackinac Bridge
photo by Mary Vee

Labor Day is the one day each year the Mackinac Bridge is closed to all motor vehicle traffic from 6am to 12 noon. This annual event began back in 1958

The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the lower peninsula of Michigan with the upper peninsula. To the east, Lake Huron flows, to the west, Lake Michigan

The people who live on the north and south sides have a fun rivalry.

Photo by Mary Starting the walk

If one lives in the lower peninsula that person is called a troll because he/she lives "under" the bridge.

If one lives in the upper peninsula, that person is called a Yooper, a distortion of the word upper.

On Labor Day the Yoopers and Trolls along with a host of visitors walk the 5 mile Mackinac Bridge. The ceremony always starts with the governor of Michigan leading the walk. One year President Bush walked with the then governor!

An announcer called out to people, asking where they were from. Walkers from Georgia and all around the country came to walk the bridge. 


Well, to say we did it.

To meet many new people.

Bridge Light
Photo By Mary Vee

To take photos that could never be taken otherwise 

Photo By Mary Vee, Lake Huron
eastern view from the bridge

And this year, to witness a young man propose to his girl. I cheered with the crowd around them when she said yes and hugged her man.

Another new component of the bridge walk this year seemed to be a genius cost-cutting idea.

Previously all participants walked the northbound side from north to south. Busses ran all morning ferrying people to St. Ignace. Car/truck traffic also continued to move across the bridge on the southbound side.

sheriff 4 man horse patrol
Photo by Mary Vee

This year, organizers closed the entire bridge for the safety of the walkers. Participates starting on the troll side walked to the halfway point on the southbound side of the bridge the turned and walked back on the northbound side. Likewise, participants starting on the yooper side walked to the halfway point, turned and walked back. Safety was paramount. Sherrif boats in the water, helicopters overhead, sniper police on top of the towers, armed police stationed every twenty feet, ambulances, patrol cars. One walker asked the armed police what was in his bag. The officer said, "Medical equipment." Looked more like a weapon to us.

police sniper on the ground with rifle pack
Photo by Mary Vee

police sniper on top of the tower
Photo by Mary Vee

In the middle, the trolls and yoopers met. We waved and cheered each other on to finish the walk. If one truly wanted, they could sneak past the heavily armed police and steal a kiss. 

Sunrise on 127, Photo by Mary Vee

Photo by Mary Vee
Leaving at sunrise got us there in time to take over a parking spot abandoned by an early walker, and comfortably walk the bridge. 80,000 are estimated to have attended this year's event. Many, like us, came home with four slices of Mackinac Fudge and a certificate.

To me, the most enjoyable components were: 

Watching the monarch butterflies flutter over and around the walkers

Photo by Mary Vee

Standing on the grates and looking down at the water 554 feet below.

Neither could be done from a car.

Want to join me next year? 

Labor Day Monday. 6-12noon. Either start at Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula or St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. You'll have a blast. Not to mention an opportunity to buy Mackinaw Fudge. Yum.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: TrollsAndYoopers


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Second Castle Ghost Story Heard on the Rhine

This is the ghost story of the Enemy brother castles.

The white castle to the left is the Liebenstein Castle.

The brown castle to the right is the Sterrenberg Castle.

Because of important accomplishments, the owners received Imperial Knight Status.

Like many families, the children didn't get along. Two sons in particular.

Although the younger was considered the braver, he was expected to stay home and care for the land.

The older brother, a shy fellow, went to war.

The older brother's war journey took him to Greece where he met a beautiful woman with whom he fell in love and married.

The older brother brought his bride home.

By this time the two brothers had separate castles. Due to their warring, a wall was built between the two, which can be seen in this photo.

When the younger brother met the older brother's wife he immediately fell in love with her and she with him.

But because she was married to the older brother, and because couples did not divorce in those days, she chose to live in an Abby. Unhappy.

The younger brother so desperately loved the beauty that he died early of a broken heart.

When the beauty heard the news, she too died shortly afterward of a broken heart.

The older brother was unable to handle the distressing news and committed suicide. Their ghosts live on, forever brokenhearted over a lost love.

Sounds like a story Shakespear would write about, eh?

This story has been brought to you by the one word: GhostsOnTheRiverRhine