Sunday, January 31, 2016

Visit to Hanau - Birthplace of the Brothers Grimm (9 Jan 2016)

Wilhelm Grimm and Jacob Grimm
Hanau is close to Frankfurt. We went with several other couples with no clear objective in mind, but we had some really good experiences. We went first to a museum that is actually a working art school for gold and silver smiths. The area has a long history of this kind of work -- not jewelry but the making of other kinds of objects out of metals. Pictures from some of the exhibit are below. We were greeted by an employee whose name was James. He is from New York but has lived in Germany for more than 20 years. We talked to him about the church and our work here. He said that he had met with the missionaries for a while and even attended church there in Hanau, but he ultimately decided that he is happy where he is as a Catholic. We assured him that he is always welcome to visit and meet with us.

He gave us a full overview of the museum and told us about other things in Hanau that we might want to see. More on that in a minute.

Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus (German Goldsmiths' House)

Originally built as a city hall in the 1530's, this building now houses the Gesellschaft für Goldschmiedkunst (Society for Goldsmith Art). Picture from
The entire building functions as a school and as a gallery for the display of artwork by current artists and students.

The building interior is modern and has an elevator, but we elected to walk the stairs

The resident artist had a lot of work on display

made of individual silver balls made one at a time. The patina comes from some process we didn't fully understand.

It's a bowl, but creates an illusion that makes it look like a flying saucer

Can't drink from these as there are spaces between the thousands of tiny silver balls that make each cup.

One piece, but it looks like a stack of bowls

Made from a single large piece of material something like Silestone. This was probably 18 inches or more in diameter and sitting on the floor.
Student pieces. These are "jewelry" items made entirely out of currency. This origami can be unfolded and spent. 

Fanciful copper "pipe"

Janet liked the little sparrow

We weren't sure what this was supposed to represent.
Old church across the street through the old glass windows

Wavy glass made for nice views from the upstairs windows.

After our visit to the museum, we went in search of the birthplace of the brothers Grimm. It is marked by a plaque on an otherwise unimpressive building, but we never found the marker. However, we did wander into the main plaza near the "new" city hall -- you will notice that the "new" city hall is old, also (completed in 1733, destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in the post-war period).

National Memorial to the Brothers Grimm erected in 1896
We drove a few minutes away to Schloss Philippsruhe. This castle was built by counts and princes starting in 1702 into the early 19th century. It now houses a museum and meeting rooms. It is a popular spot for weddings. The museum was a fascinating look at 18th and 19th century living for the nobility. It also included an entire exhibit dedicated to Paper Puppet Theater. These were puppet theaters made from paper. The artwork was splendid in these puppet theaters, and some were very elaborate. This must have seemed a revelation in the days before movies and television.

We couldn't get the scale of the palace without borrowing a website picture: Schloss Philippsruhe Website
Entry gates

The center section where the tower is houses the museum

The wings contain ballrooms that are available to rent for weddings and parties

Much of the museum prohibited picture taking

The castle had elaborate ceilings in every room we visited.

Chandeliers had been removed from many rooms, but the remaining ones are beautiful examples of the work of area goldsmiths

A relief above a door

Many rooms have these ornate fireplaces

The tired ones found a long bench

Best night shot we could get with our little camera
Elder Kirk and Elder Jarrard talked to a woman in the museum shop and asked for a recommendation for some place nearby to eat. She directed us to the Red Lion across the street from the castle. It was quaint, and the food was delicious. We had a minor incident on the way there. Elder Jarrard was hurrying to cross the street, caught his foot on the curb, and fell down face first on the cobblestones. He scraped his forehead, skinned his knee, tore his pants, and wounded his dignity.

Elder and Sister Stevens are capturing records in Wiesbaden and have photographed more than 400,000 documents during their mission

Elder Mumm is serving in member and leader support in Friedrichsdorf with his wife

We were blessed to sit with Elder and Sister Matheson at dinner. He is retired from BYU and they are working with LDS Family Services out of the area office supporting the entire Europe Area.

Janet's large spinach filled crepes.

Jeff's dish of delicious meatballs.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The End of 2015

Main River on a late December afternoon - It gets dark by 4pm

On December 21 (Happy Birthday to Jeff), Janet had surgery in a German hospital called Krankenhaus Sachsenhausen. We discovered that she had an ovarian cyst just before we left home, but she had no symptoms. Unfortunately, after we were in Germany for a short while, she began to feel some discomfort, fatigue, and other symptoms. Sister Castleton, our mission nurse, found an English speaking gynecologist and we made an appointment. We found that the cyst had doubled in size. They checked for hormone markers that might indicate malignancy and the results were borderline. Dr. Andrejevic recommended arthroscopic surgery to remove the cyst, and it was scheduled for Jeff's birthday.

The German medical system is different. Let's start with hospital admission. We had an interview with the surgical staff the week before the surgery. During that rather long process, an attending surgeon performed an exam and reviewed several documents with us having Janet sign again and again. But it wasn't legalese like in a US hospital. It was more focused on making sure you understood exactly what they would do and what the potential risks were. We also made a trip to the management office where they informed us that they couldn't accept our insurance. However, they would take our credit card. And because we are "privat" -- that is not part of the German socialized medicine -- they would assign the chief of gynecological surgery and the chief of anesthesiology to us. We were in good hands. And, even though we paid the entire bill up front, I'm guessing that it was a third or so of what it would have cost in the US.

The hospital was definitely a no frills event. It was spotlessly clean, and it didn't look old, but there is a sort of do-it-yourself atmosphere. During her stay, Janet would have nurses stop by, poke their heads in the door and ask if she were doing okay, and then when she answered yes they would say "Gut" and then move on. Even the surgeon left it to her how long she would stay. She was anxious to go home, so she stayed two nights and then said that she wanted to go. On the morning she left, we walked out of the room only to be stopped at the nurses station when they said they were working on her "Entlassungsbrief" - a release letter that said really nothing except goodbye. We were asked to wait, but when we returned to the room (less than 5 minutes after we left) they had stripped her bed and were mopping the floor. You have to admire efficiency.

Anyway, she was home for a week and felt progressively better. With the intervening holidays, it took about two weeks for us to get the final word on the histology. We were at peace with the outcome, whatever it would be, but we felt a great relief when it was all negative. She is now fully recovered and back to normal, for which we are deeply grateful.

Jeff had the opportunity to ponder life without Janet, and he could not imagine it without her. For him, especially, a great weight was taken from his heart.

During her second day in the hospital, Janet slept most of the time. Jeff read for hours on a hard chair. He finally slipped out for a bowl of chili at a shop next to the hospital, and then later in the afternoon went for a walk. The hospital is at the end of a footbridge over the River Main, and he wandered across and found himself at the Römerplatz which is the heart of the old city and where the Christmas Market started.
Courtyard of the hospital - not a very subtle sculpture given this is a gynecological and maternity facility

Walking bridge over the river - it is festooned with locks of all shapes and sizes.

View of the city side of the river

View of the Sachsenhausen side of the river
Sachsenhausen Evangelische (Protestant) Church steeple. Light is fading at 4pm and the moon is out.
A few street scenes from the Frankfurt Christmas Market - it goes on for blocks through the old city center and into the high end shopping district called the Zeil.
Hard to see, but the nativity figures on this pyramid were beautiful.

Crowds near the old city hall in Römerplatz. The tree was the Christmas tree for the market and was covered with lights and decorations.

Janet loves carousels. Sad that she didn't get to ride this two-story one.

At the entrance to the modern art museum was this art installation. No idea what is represented, but it looked kind of cool.

Entrance to an Asian bistro had this fanciful woven "awning" made of bamboo.

Christmas markets are fun places to eat. This stall had all varieties of "belegtes Baguettes." You could walk away with half a large baguette topped with just about anything. Some of the options were weird. They also didn't appear to be too popular.

Large carved elephant rear ends seemed to be pretty frequent offerings. Wonder why?

At an area called Hauptwache (Main Guard) that is mid-point on the Zeil shopping thoroughfare.