The Bad Liz

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Liz and Tricia's Great Adventure 1981

In the spring of 1981, a co-worker of mine asked me if I would take a trip to Germany with her that summer.  Her sister was stationed with the US Army outside of Darmstadt.  I don’t think it took much convincing for me to say yes.  Little did I realize this would be the beginning of a life-long love to travel.

My family had always gone on a “summer vacation” – camping our way to such places as Florida, North Dakota (my grandmother lived in Fargo and we stayed in Minnesota, just across the border), the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada and Yellowstone.  Thinking back on these trips, while they were a lot of fun, they were also educational.  Dad taught us how to swim, fish, and look at the constellations in the stars, taught us about plants, animals, driving, campfires and more.

Trish and I were co-workers, we’d been out a couple of times, but this was the beginning of a great adventure.  I only had 2 weeks of paid vacation and took one week of unpaid time off.  This was a big deal.  

My mother found through adult education offered in Dearborn Heights a beginning German course that she and I signed up for.  It was fun to do something like that, and we did go to a German restaurant in the area.   I don’t know that I learned much, but it did put the language in my ear.

Trish and I thought we would save some money by joining the Youth Hostel society, we became members so that our lodging costs would be decreased.   We decided that we could rent a car, but most of the cars were a standard transmission (automatic transmission rentals were very expensive).  We didn’t know how to drive a stick shift!  My older brother helped us with that, he taught us on a Dodge Omni how to use a stick shift.  We went to AAA and received our international drivers’ licenses.  We made our reservations and away we went.

We found travel books about Germany, the AAA was a great resource for us.  We plotted and mapped, made decisions and settled on a basic plan of what we wanted.

I had only flown once before this trip.  My grandmother was in a Fargo nursing home and we flew there over Easter break.  I remember that my mother dressed the siblings in our dress clothes and it was very exciting.  I think that I was about 11 or 12 at this time.

This trip had our plane landing in London – and it was a very hard landing.  Many of the oxygen masks popped out of their overhead containers and scared the crap out of me.  The pilot did come on the in-cabin radio and apologized for the hard landing.  Whew, nothing was wrong.  Our next landing had a different shock for me.  Police.  Not just police, but police with machine guns.  Sure, I am a Detroit girl but I never saw police with machine guns.

We stayed a couple of nights with Tricia’s sister and her husband in a small village, Wolfskehlen which is just outside of Darmstadt.  As we wandered through this small village, we were greeted by the people we passed on our walks.  “Guten morgen (morning)”, “tag” (day), and “abend (evening)” became very familiar to us as we walked around.  In the Detroit area, people didn’t talk to strangers on the street – you just didn’t do that.  It was hard the first few times to answer back, but slowly became more natural.  The people on the street actually made eye contact and acknowledged that you were there.  Inconceivable!

Then we started our travels.  To Burg Frankenstein to Strabourg to Austria and Switzerland to Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Munchen and Dachau.  We saw castles, churches, cathedrals, walled cities, wild boar, and frog crossings.  We ate in cafes, gasthaus, bought food to go at bakeries.  We used our menu finder to try different things.  I mistook schinken for schnecken and learned that I loved snails in garlic and butter.  I drank different beer and wine, tried Spezi and love it (still do!). 

Why this long trip down memory lane?
Because on this trip, I bought a pair of shoes.  I loved these shoes.  They were a white clog with a wood base made by the Danish company, Ecco.  I loved these shoes from the minute that I put them on.  I wore them until they couldn’t be worn any longer.  They were an extension of my feet.

Recently, I purchased a pair of Sanita clogs with a wooden base.  And they make the same noise when I walk in them.  The exact same noise.  And the noise took me back to 1981.  And I thought about Trisha and my great adventure.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Year so Far

2016 has been a different kind of year.  Full of political innuendos and campaign truths and lies (and sadly, the average voters just don’t make the time to figure out what is the truth).  This sparked my Facebook post on September 1st:

Political rant: We all know that to some degree, politicians have their own agenda and are looking out for their own interests. ALL politicians. It's up to us, as informed voters, to figure out who is going to be less harmful to us, our town, state and our country.

You are not a Republican or Democrat because Mom or Dad were one. Make an informed decision as to where you are in the big picture.

Your homework for the time between now and Election Day is going to be to find this out. 
Not just watching the mud-slinging commercials on the television. Go to web sites, read, and investigate.  And to watch this movie: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Face_in_the_Crowd_(film).

Play close attention to the character that Andy Griffith plays. Watch the things that he says and does as the movie progresses. Pay attention to any parallels that you see.

Then vote in November, an informed, honest vote.  Rant over.
 
I’ve been voting since I was 18 years old and 9 presidential election.  One of the first things that I remember hearing about voting is my mothers’ voice “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” and I have voted in all the presidential elections since then.  I have voted in most of the primaries.  Do you know how many people don’t bother with the local elections – these are the people that will make the most difference in your lives. 

Look up the word dilemma in the dictionary:  “a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones” is one of the definitions that I found in my search.  A grade school teacher once said that a dilemma is a “decision between two evils” and I like that definition.  Because we know that all politicians have their own agenda – it’s searching for the “evil” that is going to be best for each of us.

It’s up to all of us to make a sound political decision based on what is important to each of us; based on the candidates personal experiences, their expertise in their field, their ability to surround themselves with experts that know what is important in their field of expertise.  Not what the information/entertainment channels deem is important in their eyes.  This needs to be important to YOU.

I am not going to tell you who to vote for, it’s actually none of my business.  But I am going to ask that you really make certain that you know why you are voting for your candidate and that you know that your candidate can successfully complete the job before you mark your ballot.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tintern Abbey AKA Abbey Rose Pendant

About this time last year, I designed a small pendant with 8mm Chatons and metal round beads.  The pendant turned out pretty wonderful (even if I do say so myself).  I made a couple of versions and wrote up the instructions.  I taught Tintern Abbey locally several times, and beaders really seemed to like it.


I took the instructions to the Bead&Button show to sell.   While there, it caught the eye of one of the editors of Kalmbach Publishing, who encouraged me to submit the piece for publication.  Yes, I have been published before:  I have had several works published in the Your Work section, one piece in the gallery of Amy Katz's "Seed Bead Chic" book and a couple of bead embroidery pieces in

Nicole Campanella's "Flatwork".    In the interim, it was also time to submit for the 2016 Bead&Button show, and I submitted the pendant for a possible class.


To my surprise, it was accepted for both!  The Abbey Rose (the name was changed at the magazine level) was published in the February 2016 Bead&Button Magazine – my first pattern to be published.  Perhaps the magazine editors and show organizers didn’t realize this, but I have the go ahead to teach it at the show.

The class at B&B will be on Friday, June 10 from 5-8pm.  Class will be a great learning experience as we will also discuss how to join pieces to make a larger necklace, how to use different size chatons, and more.  Can you imagine a belt made of these?  It would be stunning (not on my waist).  Or a hat band?  A bracelet!  Great possibilities are out there!

Here are a couple pictures that were completed by others.  Thank you Sharon, Angela and Isabel for letting me use your picture.  Sharon used a different color bead and I think it really accentuates the shape of the design.  Isabel used slightly different sized chatons and made it work.  Angela's is made with 14mm crystals and is a stunning piece.

Made by Isabel Rowen
Made by Angela Bachelor
Made by Sharon Hessoun

Monday, December 28, 2015

This Pensive Time of Year

I don’t know about everyone, but at this time of the year, I become pensive (engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious thought; "a pensive mood").  I think about many things in my life – including people who are no longer in my life, persons that I thought that I would have never lost touch with.  I do know that friendship is a giant revolving door or roundabout (a type of circular intersection or junction in which road traffic flows almost continuously in one direction around a central island); friends and even family members come and go throughout one’s life (family members are always family but the occurrence of their association with a person does change through the years)

An example would be “K” who I have been friends with since 8th grade.  She and I were inseparable for several years, until later in high school, when I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with or walk to school.  I know that it was new friends that she made – I made new friends also, but was hurt seeing her walk home on the opposite side of the street that I walked on.  We managed to get over that by the time graduation rolled around and we planned our senior trip together to Florida.   Throughout the years, she made it clear that she didn’t like the life I was living as a young adult and didn’t want to associate with me during this time.  Looking back, I know that I made some really stupid decisions, but nothing that was damaging, lasting or terminal.  She would come back into my life and leave with the wind.  I truly believe that it was hard for her to have more than one friend, one person to hang out with at a time.

In our 40’s, we again became close friends.  During this period of time, it was pretty bleak for “K” – she ended up losing her job, and in desperation asked my husband and I to loan her some money.  We weren’t much better off, but we had credit and offered to do a cash advance on a credit card with a really good interest rate, which she agreed to.    After taking more than 6 years to pay back the money that was charged, she bristled at the interest that was on the card, but paid it back mid-2013.  Following that, I received a few emails about her brother who wasn’t doing well physically, and a phone call in the fall of 2013 letting me know that he passed, and she would call me back when the memorial service was scheduled.  I am, sadly, still waiting for that phone call.

There was a time when I would have said that nothing would have gotten between the two of us.  I was wrong.  My husband and I now agree that we are no longer the “Bank of Thompson” – that has closed.  He firmly believed that “K” thinks we ripped her off with the interest and that is the problem.  I don’t know if I believe that, but something did – and I don’t know if anything would ever be the same.  Hell, she had a major medical issue that I only found out about because her boss mentioned something to me thinking that I should know (as a close friend).  “K” never told me.

I had another friend, “J” who I did everything with for years and years.  We drank together, went to bars and clubs and danced and hung out.  We did so much together when I left my practice husband; he told my father that he believed that we were lesbians and that’s why I didn’t want to stay with him (the truth was that I didn’t love who I was when I was with him, but men like their own version better).  She even visited when I was living in Germany and we traveled around together.  When in Paris, my husband fell asleep in the hotel room early and “J” and I looked at each other and left the hotel.  We walked the streets until the wee hours of the morning, stopping for a drink or coffee in several bars or cafes.  We learned that “woo woo baby” means the same thing in French or English!  What a grand night!

Soon after I moved from the area that we both lived in, I learned that she wouldn’t come north 20 miles to see me and if I wanted the friendship to continue, I would have to drive down all the time.  So, slowly, as I made new friends, it fizzled out.  I last heard from her because she was in the hospital and she wanted me to get some medical information for her; shortly after getting it for her, I never heard back, her phone was disconnected, and multiple attempts to find her were unsuccessful.  I wish her well.

As girlfriends got married and families, I seemed to have less in common with them.  It’s the “you don’t understand because you don’t have kids” phase in life.  Through the years as the children grew, the friends and I seemed to have widened that gap and it’s hard to cross.  Or it’s the gap when a friend marries and their husband really doesn’t like me (or my husband) and you just separate because it’s less stressful.

When the internet because popular and on-line interest groups developed, a number of on-line friendships developed.  As interests changed; those friendships also waned.

I was deeply involved with a bead society locally that I thought would never change as long as I was involved with that medium of art.  The leadership I started with and deeply connected with has changed and new leadership is now in place and I don’t connect with it any longer.  I have a different outlook than some and it was a time for me to remove myself from the leadership, as much as I didn’t want to; the time was right.

At this time of year, I think about those friends that I am close to now; don’t worry about when they will leave my life as I don’t have control over what might or might not happen.  I think about old friends and what we had then and what we have now.  I think about the friends who made the decision to leave my life; and I don’t worry about their decision.  I can’t do anything about it and I can’t make them stay connected to me.


I am just grateful for those who are in my life.  Past.  Present.  Future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Flashback to Germany - it happens in the Autumn

Many of you know I spent the majority of my first marriage in Germany from 1984 through 1987, while husband #1 served in the military.  I loved living overseas and might have stayed if I could have figured out how to do it, but things called life happen.  If I did, I would not have married Al and met many of the people that are really important in my life.  Things did turn out the way they should have.

But I was feeling a little nostalgic this morning and looking though Google Maps at roads that I walked and seeing if restaurants I knew were still in business.
Cute little apartment building with a small balcony.  Great for beer storage in the winter
With Lou and Vada at the wedding reception party - it was 31 years ago this month
I lived here – first on Lammakerweg (on the third floor with the slanted ceilings and skylight windows) and then on Andreas Fauser Strasse (on the third floor with the great balcony off the front room and the tiny balcony off the kitchen that over looked Martinskirche) in the village of Mohringen.
Andreas Fauser 24 apartment building
It was a nice suburb of Stuttgart and I really enjoyed walking through the village and the orchards surrounding it.  We had a lot of restaurants and bistros within walking distance.  For the first months there, Tim did not own a car.  Many of his friends did, and with a great system of streetcars and buses, a car wasn’t truly necessary.

The Italian Ice shop is still there - we would walk up for gelato in the eveing

The flower shop where I would treat myself to flowers

Martinskirche where there was a small farmers market on the weekend.  I would walk over for fruits and meats, fresh from the farm.
Sadly the Bier & Brezel is closed.
One of the first places that I had dinner out with friends was Bier & Brezel – where a ton of military guys frequented.  It was located at a main intersection between two fairly large US bases.  Another local place was the Terrazino for “teller pizza” – which is a pizza that was the size of a plate (or teller).  Note: if you are in Germany and ordering a meal, anything that says teller means that it’s big (teller schnitzel, etc).  Gasthof Anker was another place, and my parents stayed there during an extended visit.

These photos were taken from Google maps of houses I remember seeing as the streetcar went up and down Degerloch Hill


The tracks used to be in the middle two lanes of the road, which made it really hard to drive as you had to get out of the way


Since my ex was working all day at Kelly Barracks, he made certain I was comfortable with the streetcar system, buying tickets and traveling on my own.  One of the things I loved to do was to take the straβenbahn up and down Degerloch Hill.  I loved to look at the view over the city of Stuttgart and look at the glorious old apartment buildings as the straβenbahn got closer to Stuttgart.  I would wonder how many were still as glorious on the inside as they were on the outside.  Many times I did wish I lived in one of those houses with the 10 foot ceilings and plaster walls, terrazo floor tiles.  There was still an area where you could see some of the damage from the bombs from WWII.
I remember the umbrella and leather store was in this first group of shops
After a time, I was pretty familiar with downtown Stuttgart and I loved walking on the Konigstraβe and go through the shops.  I bought a wonderful leather purse I used for years and a wallet that I still use occasionally.  I bought a great umbrella with a duck handle and a shoulder strap (How freaking handy is that!!), and a scarf that I wore European style for years (until it fell out of the sleeve of my coat and it was lost forever).  I do still mourn the loss of that scarf.  I remember the time that I was browsing the shops and was asked for instructions to the train station.  As I was searching for the German words in my mind, the gentleman said "Oh, you are American, you can tell me in English."

I know for many of the military guys the Konigstraβe was a different experience.  They would prowl the Konigstraβe and side streets for the clubs and bars in the evening and pick up the German girls.  If they were completely drunk before a certain hour, it was called “getting ugly early!”  That expression is still one that I use today to describe certain situations in life.

Perhaps I am nostalgic because this is the time of the Oktoberfest in Germany and there was a huge one in the Stuttgart area.  OMG – I remember being so drunk at some of these festivals, but especially this one.  Beers were the size of a barn and the schnapps!  But we had the best time at these events.  One especially entertaining evening was when the schnappsfrau was trying to hit on my father in the beer tent!  He was tickled pink.  The laughter and fun from these days are forever in my mind.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Ink, Ink, Ink

It's been since January 2012 that I last had a tattoo.  I tend to think long and hard and it this what I really want.  I almost had one added when I was in New Orleans, but I didn't want to make a snap decision and regret it.

My first tattoo was when I hit 50 years old (and I actually have now said that outloud), and it was a hummingbird that was inspired by Native American art from the Pacific NW (Haidaa), it's not your grandmothers' hummingbird.  This was in May 2010, after I returned from a cruise to Alaska and fell in love with this image.  The picture was taken minutes after the tattoo was finished which is why it's still shiny in places.  It isn't small, measuring just over 6 inches long from tip to tail.  Pretty big for a first tattoo.  My second tattoo is another hummingbird that is facing this one, about the same size.  My thought now is to get something to tie them together that is not a black tribal band.

The Love
Tattoo #3 took some work researching, Several of the residents that I work with showed me pictures and I knew that I wanted a word in Arabic - love or peace - something sweet.  I ended up with this in January 2012:  The love or الحب.  this of course is a stylized calligraphy version, and I do love it.



So I have been playing with the idea after one of the doctors wrote my name in calligraphy many years ago - that it would make a great tattoo.  Another doctor suggested the Gujarti script which is really pretty, but not for the first one.   I would have to find a new tattoo artist as the person who did the first three moved across town, seemed unstable, make a comment about fat ladies on an airplane (actually it was just that comment that made me decide that he didn't deserve my money - it reinforced to me that while I am overweight, he's an ass-hat and I can lose weight).  The second artist, who has been working with my husband on several tattoos was really good, but he wanted to do this in black and I didn't want black.  One of the new interns this year suggested white, which was also was my friend Fiona had and I really liked the idea of that.  So I went back to my original shop and talked with one of the artists Jay.   He said that he was booked up for the next day, but no one left a deposit - if you are serious about a tattoo, carry $50 for a cash deposit - I was scheduled for the next afternoon.

Jay did a phenomonal job; I didn't want black, he wanted a black outline as a minimum, I wanted lighter, he thought fading would be good.  I didn't want the blue of the hospital, we agreed on a turquoise blue and to make me really happy, he shaded in some white at the top. The black shading at the bottom actually just looks like a darker blue fading upwards to white.  I didn't know that this was what I wanted.  I love it!
It's perfect for me - Elizabeth

 Now the next question is "Why Arabic?"  Why not?  It's an old culture, it's beautiful script, it's me.  If I see my name written in another script that I like just as much - Hebrew, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Nigerian, Hindi - I would probably do it again.   So send me my name (Elizabeth) in a beautiful script - I will add it to my wish list for a future tattoo.

(p.s.  On the inner forearm, this tattoo hurt - way worse than the others WAY WORSE.  About 15 minutes into the project, I was forgetting about the pain and watching the process.)

Friday, August 07, 2015

Musings from the Campground

Thursday, August 6th - 7.30am

We are so connected with each other via all the different social media, that it's really hard to accept a sudden and total disconnect as I did this week while camping.  I found myself very jealous of the limited connectability that my hubby had, and I would sneak glimpses on his phone to see what was happening with our friends.

As the week progressed, a curious thing happened.  I found myself looking less and less at his phone.  I wasn't even carrying my phone - I picked up my real camera instead and took pictures.  Not just pictures to be posted on Facebook to say "Look what fun I am having", but pictures that had a shape and form that I liked - and that pleased me.

Alan and I did a lot of nothing this week.  Lake Hudson State Park is a beautiful spot and I would come back.  The campsites are large private.  There are massive hedges of shrubs, small trees and branches, separating each site so you can't see your neighbor.  The sites are also off-set so you can't see someone directly across the road.  Lake Hudson is a "Dark Sky Preserve" and has no exernal lighting - no street lights.  No building lights.

Above - camper in the moonlight.

It's also low on ammenities.  There are two outhouses (one for each loop) - they are new, but still outhouses.  There is one water pump.  You know, a hand pump.  The only modern ammenity at the campground is electricity.  As it was put in the park, it was done thoughtfully - the electric stations are tucked away into paths cut in the brambles so many of them are not seen from the road.




It's very quiet.  Very little street noise - only when the breeze is at the right angle.  There are very few planes.  Even with weekend campers, the park was quiet well before quiet hour.

Aside from the night when the largest storm of the summer came through with rain, thunder, lightening lasting clost to four hours; the weather has been good - perhaps a little too hot and muggy.  But that storm!  It might have been the second worst storm I have camped in - and I have camped in some bad ones.  The thunder and lightening was so fast and furious that it just all rolled together and you didn't know if the thunder was starting or finishing.

But it was a good week.  I finished a few UFOs, put away a project that has been frustrating me (I will pick it up later) and started another that I sketched awhile ago.
Beki Haley's "Tango" necklace