Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cozy up on the Mosel

This past weekend, we decided to make our first trip of the year, my husband and I, and our dog, Shakespeare. We looked up places where we could drive to and decided to head on over to the Mosel Valley. The Mosel Valley runs through Northern France, Southern Germany, and Eastern Luxembourg and its center is the Mosel River. There’s much history along the Mosel River. Dating back to around the 1300s, many of battles were fought between the Roman Empire and France, to name a few. Now, it’s a valley filled with prosperous vineyards.

Within a 2-1/2 hour car ride, we made it to our first destination, Cochem. Cochem is mentioned as early as 886—developed during the Celtic and Roman times. Many parts of the town were destroyed during WWII. Unfortunately, it happened to be a dreary weekend, so the pictures don’t truly express the beauty of the town and ruins.

This is artwork we found near the marketplace. I couldn’t find any information on it, but if you zoom into it, you can see different dates and names. My guess is it somehow signifies the history of Cochem.   

Here is the Enderttor. It’s one of the lasting city gates of Cochem—built in 1332. 

We walked up to Cochem castle, so here are a few pictures we took along the way. 

In my opinion, Cochem castle looks impressive from afar. Once we got up there, I wasn’t in awe of its structure. Here are a few from far away and up close. 

The view from the castle was nicer. As you can see, there are many vineyards setup along the castle. What’s also interesting is there are two schools within the vicinity of the castle. How interesting would that be to look out your school window and see this castle on the hill?

By the time we came back down from the castle, we decided to drive to another one. I read a suggestion by Rick Steves to visit the Burg Eltz. It took us a bit to find it, due to its remote location, but this castle was worth getting a bit lost. It’s one of the few castles that has not been destroyed, and is still owned by the same families—33 generations later. 

The next day, we left Cochem and drove to Trier. These are a few pictures we took along the way.

Trier is presumed to be one of the oldest cities in Germany, founded in 16 BC, and previously occupied by the Roman Empire. Below is the Porta Nigra (black gate)—the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. The name came from the darkened color of grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. This was the main reason I came to Trier. I wanted to see the Porta Nigra. Unfortunately, it was the off-season, so we couldn’t see any performances done inside the it. 

Although this town was suggested by many, I can’t say it was a favorite of mine. Many of the sites had costs, so my husband and I took a pass on several. We’ve learned over our traveling years that not all things of cost are worth it. Plus, we had Shakespeare with us, and he wasn’t allowed in many of the places. Below is a plaque of Karl Marx and his birthplace. 

We walked around Trier and found the Emperors Bath. They were charging 3 Euros to get in, and blocked some of it with brick columns. We could see much of it, so we passed on going in and took pictures from the outside. 

Here are some pictures we took walking around Trier.

Have you gone on some travels lately?

Mosel and My Loves,

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Share the Love!

I am happy to introduce and share with you a poetry book by a talented writer, Jennifer Howard. Jennifer’s book of poetry has just been published—a perfect gift for those Valentine lovers, or anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Love.

A mutual friend of ours, Nick LeVar, who I met on LinkedIn, introduced Jennifer and I regarding a business venture. Jennifer was looking for someone to format her book, and I was eager to help. Jennifer’s new poetry book, The Fume of Sighs:
A CompilationDedicated to Love, Love Lost, and Love Redefined is now available. Without wasting any more time, I’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Howard, writer, poet, and one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.

1) Tell us about The Fume of Sighs.

The Fume of Sighs is a poetry compilation dedicated to: 1) Love, 2) Love Lost, and 3) Love Renewed. It contains twenty-seven years worth of poems that regard my own run-ins with all three. Each section represents a different way of looking at love. The first section, is all about that first,explosive, stars-in-your-eyes kind of love that we all experience. The second section, Love Lost, deals with when that warm, fuzzy love changes, dissolves, or turns into something that you didn’t expect. Finally, the third section, Love Redefined, revisits love, but with new eyes, and a more mature heart. It gives love the second chance that it deserves. 

2) What made you write a poetry book?

I have always adored poetry, be it through the reading of it or the writing of it. Throughout the majority of my life, poetry has been a medium for expressing myself and my thoughts, dealing with issues, or placing my emotions into words. This has been a very personal and introspective journey. I truly never expected to put these words of mine out for public viewing. But, I decided to embrace the fear and step outside of my comfort zone. So, I did just that, and voila!

3) What type of poems can a reader expect to find in your poetry book, traditional or free verse?

I love and write all types of poetry, but for this compilation, expect to find free verse. It is my favorite form, because there is so much freedom. I love the lack of restrictions that free verse provides. It gives the author a chance to be completely creative.

4) Is The Fume of Sighs traditionally or self-published?

The Fume of Sighs is self-published. I am very proud to be an indie. I absolutely appreciate traditional publishing, and truly hope to endeavor into that world someday. But, for now, regarding the intent behind Fume, I am so grateful that self-publishing exists. It is more intimate and less restrictive than traditional, and this is exactly what Fume needs. I simply want my words to be out there, and hopefully someone else, besides me, will enjoy and/or relate to them.

5)  What poet influenced you?

This is a toughie! :) I adore and appreciate the styles and the words of so many. A person can find poetry anywhere from a book in a library to a song lyric to a passage in the Bible to the back of a cereal box. I could write VOLUMES about who influences me. But, to name a few, I would say: William Shakespeare, (The title of my book actually comes from a quote of his. The quote is located inside of the book. I’m gonna keep my lips zipped, though. If you want to read the full quote, you must buy Fume. Muahahaha! But, I digress...) Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, the apostle Paul (1st Corinthians Chapter 13 is the essence of both love AND poetry), and a contemporary, Tyler Knott Gregson. These guys all bring me joy and make me think.

6)  How long have you been writing?

I have been writing pretty much all of my life. I still possess a copy of the very first short story that I ever wrote, How the Hippo Lost His Snowshoes. I believe I was six, at the time. Mom immortalized it on the fridge for way too many years to count. Haha! That is one of my favorite childhood memories. I actually dedicated Fume to her. We would sit many afternoons in our recliner in the living room, and read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses together. I’m sure the tradition began with her reading to me, but I very soon took over and began reading to her. Those afternoons and that book made words come alive for me. I’ve been a word-junkie ever since.

7)  Is this your first publication?

No, it is not. I have self-published three other books, as well. In 2009, I released a children’s book entitled Lucy and the Land of Lost Socks. In 2013, I released two adult contemporary romantic fiction titles, The Healing Heart and The Steps to Karma. These works, as well as short stories, my blog, and other featured indies can be found on my website: http://www.jennifer-howard.net

8) Any future projects in the works?

Yes!! I have tons of “voices in my head” just waiting to escape onto paper! :) The project I am currently working on will be a romantic/mystery series set in 1936. It is entitled: Two Strangers and a Train. I plan to release this in probably five parts in e-book form, with a paperback containing all parts to come at the culmination of the e-book series. I am soooo very excited about it. FYI, there is a sneak peek of it at the end of The Fume of Sighs.

I want to thank Jennifer for taking the time to let me interview her.

Writing and Friendship,

Monday, February 10, 2014

What a Great Feeling!

I can’t even remember the last time I watched the Olympics. Sure, I’ve caught some events here and there, but this year, I’ve had the television on all day. Living in Germany, it helps that I get to watch them live. As much as I don’t like Putin, I was impressed by the opening ceremonies.

I cheer for the Americans, and when they’re not competing, I cheer for the Germans. Watching all this talent from different countries just takes my breath away. It also makes me wonder how we can compete and be fair about it, yet still fight and stab each other in the back.

Anyways, back to the Olympics. It’s so inspiring to watch these athletes compete. When someone falls, no matter where they’re from, I feel so bad for them. These people have sacrificed years of hard work to accidentally fall or lose focus. It’s sad and I feel for them, but when they do great, I can’t help but think that it’s gotta be an awesome feeling. To be able to say you competed in the Olympics, represented your country, and left as a winner has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

Here’s a video of Sage Kotsenburg who won 1st gold medal for snowboarding. I know nothing about snowboarding, but watching these guys was amazing. This isn’t the run that got him the gold.

And we have Jamie Anderson, who also won gold for snowboarding. I didn’t even know women did this kind of sport. It blows my mind. And my husband couldn’t believe how cute the competitors are.   

If you haven’t had a chance, try and catch a little bit of the Olympics. It will lift your spirits, and all the talent will amaze you.

Olympics and Pride,