Street Art by Markus Janista, Oberursel

Our popular local graffiti artist, Markus ‘Canister’ Janista, passed away last summer. His life has come to an end, but his art lives on.

I’ve only known him as the artist who beautifies the grey and smudgy junction boxes (German: Stromverteilerkasten) around town.

Ladybug – Street Art by Markus Janista

 

Dragonfly – Street Art by Markus Janista

Christmas Cards from Germany

Sending Christmas cards is not a common German tradition. As a matter of fact, the only cards I get from Germans are sent by the ones who had lived overseas and are familiar with this tradition. In most German homes, they are neither hung up on the door, nor strung over the fireplace, with the latter being a rare commodity in this country anyway.

When I was a child, the only cards we ever sent were to aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived out of town. Calling each one would have been too expensive then, so a Christmas postcard was sent.

The tradition of sending Christmas greetings originated in Great Britain in the early 19th century. It was common practice to write seasonal messages on calling cards and then deliver them on the next call. Then there came the postal system and that was the beginning of sending one’s festive greetings by regular mail.

Over the years, the then rather plain German Christmas postcard has evolved into some finer Christmas cards sent in envelopes. Some of the most beautiful ones are done by the artist Allmuth Gutberlet, who paints seasonal images of the towns such as Kronberg, Bad Homburg und Oberursel.

We do appreciate her cards as they depict wintery scenes of places we know so well. This one shows St. Ursula Church.

A. Gutberlet

 Seen from the corner of the Oberursel Market Square (Marktplatz)

A. Gutberlet

Oberursel’s Historic Town Hall (Historisches Rathaus) dating from 1479

A.Gutberlet

Again, this is the Oberursel Market Square with its fountain and the street leading up to the Historic Town Hall.

A.Gutberlet

These cards can be purchased at various Christmas Markets around the region. Some of the local stationary shops sell them as well.

Is sending Christmas cards by mail bad on the environment? Should we only send digital seasonal greetings?

I do care about my personal carbon foot print in most respects, but when it comes to cards, I will stick to the non-green tradition. Call me a romantic, if you like.

1970s at Camp King Oberursel

Camp King’s former Hausmeister had collected publications and photos related to his work place. These binders have just been donated to the Camp King archives.

Most of the inquiries I receive about Camp King are by former residents (personnel and family members) from their time here in the 70s, and so I took a few photos of the binder’s 70s’ content to share them here with you.

Below are two photos of the LTCs serving from 1973 – 1976.

Colonel Glunn

Colonel Glunn

Colonel Henderson

Colonel Henderson

The binder included various local newspaper articles, such as this one about German guests at the Officers’ Club at Camp King.

Steak & Pizza Night at the Mountain Lodge Camp King

Steak & Pizza Night at the Mountain Lodge Camp King

*Photo on top – caption reads: German guests were invited not only to the monthly parties, such as here in May 1975, but  also to  “Steak – and Pizza Nights” at the Officers’ Club.

From left,  Mr. and Mrs. Gabler, Mr. Withe, Mrs. Sindy Withe, , LTC Leeper with Mrs. Gajdosch, LTC Rostigan, Mrs. Leeper on the right.

*Center photo (seated right to left) – caption reads: Mrs. Joshida, Mrs. Gajdosch, LTC Rostigan, Mrs. Rostigan, Mrs. Leeper

*Bottom photo: Cpt. Don Remey and Mrs. Emi Remey

Thanksgiving at Camp King Oberursel 1975

Thanksgiving at Camp King Oberursel 1975

This article states that Col Henderson invited the kleinen Leute (lower class ranking German personnel) to Thanksgiving dinner. The little people included the mail carrier, the city librarian, the receptionist and others working for Oberursel city hall. This was arranged to improve relations between the locals and the occupation force.

The caption below the bottom photo reads: Thanksgiving was celebrated earlier for its guests on Tuesday. Numerous representatives from the local government, fire department, police, library, German Federal Railways,  and postal service as well as other institutions sat together enjoying turkey, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and pumpkin pie.

The town councilors refrained from the feast – they sent their secretaries instead.

If any one of you would like to see a much bigger version of this photo, let me know and I can mail it to you. I had to downsize the photos to e-mail format to put them on the blog.

 

How to Beat Homesickness

On GoOverseas I read the article 19 Ways to Reduce Homesickness When Living Abroad, which reminded me of  my own battle with it at times while I lived in the U.S. and Japan for close to ten years.

These 19 pointers are definitely worth reading, and yet, I’d also like to add a few of my own.

20. Don’t blame your host country when things go wrong

Remember we had rough days in our home country too. But it is so easy to point the finger, e.g. at a U.S. regulation flaw or the Japanese bureaucracy. There are things you probably disagreed with in your country of origin as well. Keep that in mind when confronted with challenges.

21. Volunteer to make friends and contacts

While waiting for my U.S. work permit, I opted to use the university library to use my time wisely. I was able to help others less fortunate in language skills to navigate their way around. OK, this was unofficial volunteering, but I made some wonderful friends along the way.

In Japan, e.g. I volunteered at a children’s home and made sure to limit my time to 6 weeks. That way, if paying work came up, I’d be free and without hard feelings for having to stop.

22. Learn how to cook some local food

In exchange for English conversation, I learned how to make some home-cooked Japanese food. We chose recipes with easy to get ingredients and I really enjoyed the process. I kept the empty packets, so I’d know what to pick up from the supermarket the next time around. It also gave me a sense of self-sufficiency.
A full stomach with good food, good company, and a sense of accomplishment is at times more satisfying than a night out.

23. Blog about it!

This is your chance to share your writing and photos.You will be making more friends along the way. I have since I’ve kept this blog. And I’m not even in a foreign country, but after all these years of living abroad, even Germany can seem odd to me at times.

24. An opportunity to discover your strengths and weaknesses

There is no better time to take a look at yourself than when you are living abroad. You think you know yourself? Try again. Under normal circumstances, our reactions are predictable. But add language confusion and different cultural expectations, then you will get to see a new you.

What used to annoy you before, you will suddenly find quaint. And vice versa. You do not have to reinvent yourself, your new environment will do this for you. Be prepared for some surprises.

——

Living abroad can be a very fulfilling experience if you are willing to contribute.

Our son has just recently moved to the U.K. to attend college. The first two weeks were difficult as he had a bad cold and was room-bound most of the time while being homesick. I shared some of my advice with him and since then we have not heard from him, which was two weeks ago…

The other 19 pointers can be read here at  GoOverseas 19 Ways to Reduce Homesickness When Living Abroad

Oberursel Reforestation Project

Time for planting!

A healthy stretch of forest in Oberursel

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Frankfurt International School (FIS), the school has begun a partnership with local forestry authorities to join in protecting local environment, while at the same time using it for teaching opportunities.

Today, the grade Grade 7 students got the opportunity to apply their science knowledge about deforestation and the importance of trees, and then joined forces to take action.

On a slope in the forest about 1km above FIS, a storm has caused some deforestation. Students and teachers collaborated with foresters to plant trees in that location. FIS donated the funds for 400 trees and students participated in the planting.

In the future, FIS will continue to help maintain the reforested area and integrate this action in their science and environmental citizenship curricula.

Today, all seventh graders walked into the woods and planted seedlings together. They helped with digging holes, planted trees, and learned about the forest in guided tours with the foresters.