Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Late Summer Crafting....Howlets and Ghouliwogs!

I Heart Howlets!
You may ask...What is a Howlet?  It's an old Scottish word for owls or owlets that I discovered during my "I Heart All Things Scottish"!  I think I first saw it in the lyrics in the liner notes of a  Dougie MacLean CD...either that or it was in a Robbie Burns poem...I forget.  But I really, really like it!  I thought I would make some "Howlets" for my front porch. 
I usually turn to my old stand-by crows and sunflowers for late summer.  When I dug out my "remarkably realistic crows wearing plaid scarves" I noticed that their feathers had faded even more than I remembered.  It was time to send them to the Old Crows Home in the Sky.  Or I could give their feathers a dye job with some black paint and give them another year...we'll see.
Kitchen Junk Windchime 
Used a four-sided cheese grater for the base.
The large holes look like feathers.

Rusty wire and odd bits make a face.
Jar Lid Howlets
I got the idea for these from Pinterest...of course.
Super easy...the hardest part was finding the old lids.
The red and yellow things were from my pal Paula's booth at Treasures.

Late Summer Door D├ęcor! 
Sunflowers and Howlets.
Wreath with Ghouliwog.
"Gouliwog" is my new made-up name for whatever that is.

Old rusty cheese grater and assorted junk.
I love the toothy mouth.
I am making a few more for Halloween.
More Mushrooms...
I was a little late to the "Toadstools in the Garden" party.
But they look really cute under the lilac bush.
Tallest is about 24".
Found wooden bowl at thrift store and red pots at Hobby Lobby
for 80% off.  Too lazy to paint spots...they're vinyl.
The kids in the neighborhood went back to school yesterday.  I don't know why that makes me happy, but I'm already feeling my "Fall into Halloween" good crafting mood.  Of course it's rained for two days...but the acorns are starting to fall off some of the scrub oaks in the Highland Glen park.  I will be picking up pocketsful on my walks around the "wee loch" in the glen.  Maybe I'll see some Howlets with's been known to happen.
Happy Fall Crafting!
A Few Interesting "Howlets."  For Whoooo?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Made In Germany...Geoffrey Georg Hatfield!

 Made in Germany! 
Little German Baby...Little German Sweater.
Looks a bit like Winston!

Geoffrey Georg Hatfield was born August 4, 1980 in Bremerhaven, West Germany.  We were living in Edewecht, a rural town not far from Oldenburg in the state of Neidersachsen...or Lower Saxony.

Map showing location of Edewecht.

The hospital, PX and Commissary for the U.S. Army were in the port city of Bremerhaven, a couple of hours drive from Edewecht.  We traveled there several times a month for shopping and doctors appointments.  Bremerhaven means "Bremen's Harbor."  The two cities make up the Free Hanseatic City State of Bremen.

Beautiful thatched building in a nearby park when we lived in Delmenhorst.

The scenic drive throught the little country villages took us past windmills and barns with thatched roofs.  Some homes had nests of storks on the chimneys...very good luck!  Occasionally we would pass a chimney sweep in his top hat, a jaunty red scarf tied around his neck.  Or we'd see a solemn-faced old farmer trying to ride his bike while wearing wooden shoes; weaving his way along the cobbled street to the Backerei  for fresh rolls.

Ferry on the Weser

When we reached the Weser River, we had to wait for a ferry to carry us across.  This was fun on nice days, but choppy waters and morning sickness do not go well together.  The ferries ran several times per hour during the day, but made only a few trips at night.  My doctor felt that it was too risky to make a 50 plus mile trip with a river crossing thrown in, so he recommended that I check into the hospital two days after my due date.  I was certain it would only be for a day or two.  I've never been so wrong.

US Army Hospital Bremerhaven

The army hospital in Bremerhaven was a large forbidding structure with high ceilings and drafty hallways.  Someone told us it was a former headquarters of the Waffen SS...but I have since learned it was opened in 1938 as a "Marine Lazarett" or German Naval Hospital.  It was turned over to the US Army forces on June 28, 1945.

Entrance Gate Carl Schurz Kaserne 1980

The hospital was located on the Carl Schurz Kaserne...the American base in Bremerhaven.  In 1992, the Cold War was over and the US decided that they no longer needed the base.  It was reverted back the Germans.

"Radio City"

I have so many memories of the Kaserne...especially Radio City, the community recreation center.  It housed a snack bar, bowling alley, gymnasium, photo lab and a movie theater.  The snack bar was the place to go if you were craving a real hamburger and a chocolate shake.  I remember seeing at least one movie there...I think it was "Star Wars."  It is now the training center for the local basketball team..."Eisbaren Bremerhaven."    Go Polar Bears!

July 1980...before leaving for Bremerhaven.
Don't you love the ugly German wallpaper and our collection of windmill prints?

Meanwhile...back at the hospital.  If those dark, depressing hallways cold only talk!  The steep tiled roof sported the white crosses that symbolize a hospital, but my vivid imagination replaced them with swastikas.  Throw in a squadron of sadistic German nurses and I felt just like Melanie Griffith in "Shining Through."  I spent many sleepless nighttime hours roaming the stairs and hallways of that old building.  It's a weird feeling to be in the hospital when you're not sick.

At first it was like a kids or husband to wait on.  I had my own room and use of a television.  American TV programs were a rare treat after two years of German TV and re-runs of "Taxi" and "Raum Schiff Enterprise," where Spock and Kirk spoke fluent Deutsch.  The food wasn't bad, but soon the days began to run together.  I was soooo bored!  George could only come to see me every three or four days...he had enough on his plate trying to find day care for our two little girls.  My mother was thousands of miles away and I had few other visitors.  An acquaintance brought me a wind-up rabbit to hop around my dinner tray.  That got old quickly!

Birthday at last!

The lazy baby had no intention of leaving his cozy hideaway for the outside world.  Free food, a little napping and a lot of calisthenics were how he spent his days.  Meanwhile, I was shuffled from ward to ward as the beds were needed for "real" mothers.  Every time a new baby was born, it was a real hard night for me.  Two weeks had passed, but still no baby.

After 18 days in captivity, the doctor finally agreed to give me that wonder drug that starts labor.  This was administered through an IV drip attached to a vein in the back of my hand.

Endlich...Das Baby!

Right before midnight, our 9 1/2 pound  baby was introduced to a strange new world in a country far from home.  My doctor did not believe in pain medication during delivery...a fact he never shared with me.  This was not a fun experience; I had received no Lamaze training.  It was kind of like a Bill Cosby routine, "Breathe in!  Breathe out!  Find your focus!"  Focus indeed!  My focus was fantasizing the deaths of both my doctor and husband...who was chatting up the nurses.  "So," George said to the nurse, "how long did it take you to go to nursing school?"  Couldn't they see I was in pain?  But at last it was over.  Welcome to the world, Geoffrey Georg Hatfield!

Home at Last!
Beautiful Downtown Edewecht
Nowadays this sleepy-looking village hosts summer tractor pulls and American rodeos.

Setje...our hometown market!  
German version of a "General Store" they sold just about anything.

Our apartment building, located just off the Haupt Strasse...Main Street.
Only Americans lived here.

Almost three weeks to the day, they finally let us go home.  The best part of the ordeal...according to George...was the cost of my three week "spa vacation."  The bill came to $205 dollars...$5 a day for food.  Amber and Missy were glad to see me.  They weren't too impressed by the baby, though.  They didn't feel he was worth keeping their mommy away from home for so long.  To assuage or feelings of guilt we bought them their own "babies."

Amber and Missy's "babies"...Fisher Price Dolls from the PX.

Missy wouldn't be placated...she stuck to my side like a conjoined twin, screaming bloody murder if I tried to get her to go outside and play.  She lay on the floor in the stairwell, kicking the door and yelling her head off.  It was a relief to us all...and the neighbors...when Missy finally got used to the new baby.

Our Family...Edewecht 1980

Geoff's Name
We chose the name Geoffrey Georg, George chose the name.  When we were dating he told me I could name the girls, but he already had the boys' names picked out:  Geoffrey George and Gregory Emerson...our other son.  In honor of his birth on foreign soil and his dual birth certificates, we made one small change.  George became "Georg" which is the German spelling.  The schools always assumed I misspelled the name on registration forms.  Sometimes I forget myself just how it is spelled.

There was a darling toddler named Sascha who lived in our apartment building in Delmenhorst.  Sascha had curly blonde hair and the rosiest of cheeks...the iconic German baby!  I wanted to name our next child Sascha, but George insisted it was a girl's name. Did I mention that my cute little neighbor was a boy?  Although Sascha was a boy's name in Germany, I would have to wait until 1983 to use it when our next little girl was born.  Her name is Sascha Anna Hatfield.

Geoff and Daughter Alena...Daddy Daughter Date Night!

This is your story, Geoff.  Your birth was quite an adventure...but I wouldn't trade a minute of it.  You have grown to be a fine man and a wonderful father.  We are so proud of you and love you more than you can ever know.

Happy Birthday, Geoffrey!
Mom & Dad

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer of '76 and the Bicentennial Baby!

The Bicentennial Baby! 

Happy 200th Birthday, America!

George and I were married November 13, 1975.  After less than a month of marriage we discovered that we were expecting our first child.  We were so excited to be parents and began making plans for our growing family.  George was in the Army ROTC at Brigham Young University...on track to becoming an officer at graduation.  One day he came home and gave me some kind of upsetting news.  George would be going to Fort Lewis Washington in June for ROTC Advanced Camp, which is basic training for officers.  The bad news was that he was scheduled to be gone until after our baby's due date, which was the end of July.

Wedding Day!

This was quite a disappointment!  George would probably miss the birth of our first child.  There is only one first child.  But we decided to make the best of things...who knew, maybe the baby would be late.

So George packed his gear and went off to basic camp and I prepared to spend the summer without him.  We wrote a lot of letters that summer.  I forgot all about them until I found them recently.  Those letters are a window into our young married life that I am so grateful to look through again almost 40 years later.

George's letters to me.

Amber's 38th birthday is this Saturday and I have transcribed all the letters and put them in order with pictures as a birthday gift to her.  I won't be including the letters here...maybe just a few excerpts here and there.  But I have a few pictures to illustrate that summer of 1976.

Our cozy first home in American Fork.

Our first home was a cute one-bedroom trailer nestled on a tree covered lot on 400 east in American Fork, Utah.  I loved decorating it with vintage items I found at the thrift store and patchwork pillows and quilts.  I loved my cute little "bug" and made patchwork seat covers for it.

Max the cat and friend Moses

George knew I would be lonely without him so he got me a cat that we named Max.  Many of my letters referred to Max as a "she."  I didn't discover Max was male until later that summer.  My letters spoke of missing him, doctor appointments, bills I paid and cute things Max did.  I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but I found out that we were living on just $200 a month!  We didn't know we couldn't afford to get married and start a family...we just did it!

GI George

George's letters gave me a good picture of what life was like for him.  He spoke of the great guys in his platoon and their nemesis, Captain Corey who...according to them...made it his life's mission to make their lives as miserable as possible. 

The Barracks

Life in the barracks with his squad wasn't miserable at all.  They ate well and had a lot of time to joke around and share news from home.  George told his bunkmates that his wife looked just like Audrey Hepburn...and after showing them a picture of me they agreed.  He was so sweet!  I don't resemble her at all...but I did try out for "My Fair Lady" in high school.

M-60 A-1 Tank

 I got to hear all about the latest tanks and weapons that they got to fire.  George reminded me of a little boy who got a lot of really cool toys for Christmas and invited a whole bunch of other little boys to come over and play.  They ran a lot and had difficult maneuvers at night.  Some of the tests sounded terrifying to the "girl he left behind."  But he was having the time of his life.

Log Walk Drop

Rappelling off 60 ft. Tower

The Viet Nam War was over by this I really have no idea what it was like for those families waiting for their boys to come home.  But I just know that I missed him so much I could hardly stand it.  He missed me too and told me so in every letter.  He ended one letter like this:  "I have a few requests:
    A.  Write me every day on the day and NO EXCEPTIONS.
    B.  Send a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.
    C.  Don't forget me.

I love you and don't worry, it's not bad at all here.  We'll see you in 5 weeks and take it easy.
Love,  Cdt. George"

The "Uglies of Pregnancy."
How I described myself at the time.

 And so it went...the weeks passed by and I became more and more anxious that he wouldn't make it home in time.  In my letters I worried about whether I was being selfish, wanting him to come home no matter what.

What Happened Next...
The letter dated Monday July 19 was the last letter I sent to George.  On July 25, I started having labor pains that wouldn't go away.  I think it was Mom who took me to the hospital.  George's mom got on the phone with the Red Cross and was able to contact George in Fort Lewis.  He wouldn't be able to leave until the 26th, which worked out just fine because I was in labor until sometime on the 26th.

The Old American Fork Hospital

After a long night of painful labor that wasn't going anywhere, I was beginning to give up hope of ever seeing my husband or baby.  Then suddenly he was there by my side, giving me a kiss and letting me know that everything would be okay.  Since George had completed the pre-natal classes with me, he was able to be in the delivery room and didn't miss a thing!

Beautiful Amber Lee Hatfield
Born July 26, 1976
7lbs. 12 oz.

It was all worth it.  She was a beautiful baby and I didn't have to name her Fred or Geoffrey George.

John Denver's "Aerie" Album

We had planned to name our baby girl "Aerie Anne" after our favorite John Denver album, but when I saw her for the first time I just knew her name was "Amber Lee."

Daddy's Little Girl

She was such a beautiful child...a head turner in the grocery store, and always...her daddy's little girl. Every child should know the story of his or her birth, how much they were wanted and how eagerly they were anticipated.  I never knew how much I could love someone until I looked at my baby Amber's face for the first time.  She was our blessing and made us into a family.

Our beautiful daughter Amber all grown up!

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!
Mom & Dad