A friend of mine is thinking about volunteering in Switzerland next year. Despite living there as a kid, she wants to brush up on her German.

On Facebook today, she was asking if anyone had a copy of the Rosetta Stone language program, German edition, something I’d love to have myself. Since my grandfather’s parents emigrated from Germany and the family tree is full of German ancestors, I want to learn the language.

Years ago, I discovered a poem, the Hymn of Pomerania, and wanting to translate it, I contacted the man who taught German at my high school. I never took a class with him. He had since retired, but his wife worked at the college I was attending, so we met there.

He went through it line for line, word for word with me, translating it. He introduced me to the concept of words being melded together to form extremely complex and long compound ones.

But since then, unfortunately, my cursory German studies have been overwhelmed, by duties and obligations and life. I really wanted to take some classes in college, but it was only offered every other year, and then outright eliminated during a round of budget cuts. Instead, I took two terms of French.

My friend’s post has inspired me again. I started poking around online, looking for German language learning resources. The BBC has some material.

“German is considered a difficult language to study by English learners, with its long and winding words . . . ”

It’s those compound words again!

“German is a very descriptive language. Nouns, especially, often combine the object with the activity.”

Look at the word for vacuum cleaner: der Staubsauger. It consists of the noun Staub, meaning dust, and the verb saugen, meaning to suck. Thus, the literal translation of the word is dustsucker! Reminds me of Sergio Leone’s Duck, You Sucker! Gotta love any language that merges words with such aplomb.

I still want to study German in a class setting. Makes it so much easier. So, here’s to me learning German, the language of my forefathers.


The Victors & the Slaughtered

I wonder what this was about. Iron Age culture in northern Europe must have been violent.

After months rotting on a battlefield in Denmark, the bones of dozens of warriors were collected up and ritually mutilated. The remains date back to the time of Christ.

Scraped of any remaining flesh, the bones were sorted and then dumped in a lake.

“Some were handled in a truly bizarre manner. For instance, four pelvises were found strung on a stick.”

Kinda reminds me of Beowulf and Grendel.

“We think it’s a kind of ritual closure of the war.”

Many of the bodies had been gnawed by animals, including large predators such as wolves, dogs and badgers.

We are only touching on a small part of what is actually there.”

Researchers “suspect that the winners had a geographical attachment to the area.”

“Animal sacrifices and ceramic pots mixed in with the remains suggest some sort of religious ritual.”

Paganism sure had a nasty streak.


‘This Day Shall Be For You A Memorial Day’

I will have to remember this one.

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a holy day. Throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”
Exodus 12:14

There are dates, special days, in every family that people mark to celebrate. Birthdays and wedding anniversaries are probably the most common.

I’ve been thinking about those days that were noteworthy in our ancestors’ lives. Of course, there are many. But some have a significance that others do not.

July 28th is one, the day my great grandmother’s younger brother died in France.

I need to make note of these and find ways to remember and honor those who are no longer with us.


July 2014

My great uncle's 99th birthday party.
My great uncle’s 99th birthday party.

This July is replete with significant milestones in our family.

My great uncle celebrated his 99th birthday two weeks ago. He has led a remarkable life. His love of funny stories and anecdotes has entertained us for decades. Thankfully, I’ve been around to hear many of them, and I’ve even recorded some on video.

He was a mere toddler when his uncle, Leslie Darling, went off to France to fight the Hun1 after America became entangled in the First World War. His uncle, Private Darling, died in late July of 1918, succumbing to a wound from a German machine gun crew he encountered near Épieds, France.2

The firefight is known as the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm. There is now a memorial on the farm where he was mortally wounded.

Leslie W. Darling
Leslie W. Darling

Douglas MacArthur, then chief of staff for the 42nd Division, which included Leslie Darling’s infantry regiment, the 168th of Iowa, noted the heroism of the men in his autobiography.

“ . . . the 167th Alabama assisted by the left flank of the 168th Iowa had stormed and captured the Croix Rouge Farm in a manner which for its gallantry I do not believe has been surpassed in military history. It was one of the few occasions on which the bayonet was decisively used.”

I should probably be there in person, in France, for the 100th anniversary in 2018.


1. Hun was a derogatory word used to describe the Germans during both world wars.

2. Leslie Warren Darling died either July 28 or 30, 1918. I would suspect the 28th is the correct date, since a letter is signed noting the day and details. A book compiled by the unit chaplain lists the 30th, but this is most likely a mistake.

‘I Want That’

I've had 12 year-olds tell me this. “You're not the boss of me.”
I’ve had 12 year-olds tell me this. “You’re not the boss of me.”
I don’t know John Hawkins, but he succinctly summed up my thoughts the other day on Twitter.

Hysterically demanding the gov’t force people to pay for your birth control doesn’t exactly say, ‘Strong, independent woman.’”

First, there was Sandra Fluke, then the Hobby Lobby case. What will people be demanding next?

My niece has been saying, “I want that.” She says this a lot. She sees something, and she wants to get it immediately. Fluke & Company are worse than my adorable two-year-old niece.

Dennis Miller has said similar things, as I’m sure others have, too, but Hawkins really nailed it.


Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th. I didn’t even realize it until reading a few headlines.

Reading about the 13th immediately reminded me of my late aunt, Carol. She was a remarkable woman, with a folksy common sense about her.

Aunt Carol loved celebrating holidays, particularly the odder ones, such as Halloween. She also was a bit superstitious, and Friday the 13th was one of those days for her.

It was nice to be reminded of her. She died after years of fighting off various cancers.

Approximately 17 million people fear Friday the 13th.1 They share this phobia with at least two presidents, FDR and Herbert Hoover. Neither would travel on the 13th if it was a Friday.

“This Friday the 13th . . . is even more unusual: Tonight happens to include a full moon.”

It won’t happen again until 2049.

“Since this is a phobia, there are names for it: friggatriskaidekaphobia, derived from the Norse goddess, Frigga, wife of Odin the ‘allfather’; and paraskevidekatriaphobia, the Greek root for fear of Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobia simply means fear of the number 13.”

“There can be as many as three Friday the 13ths in a single calendar year, such as in 2009 or 2012. The next year in which the day will occur three times is 2015. The longest period that can occur without a Friday the 13th is 14 months.”

“On average, there is a Friday the 13th once every 212.35 days.”


1. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina

Now, This Is Funny

And sad, on so many levels.

On a recent evening in Austin, Texas, homeowners gathered in a church for a meeting.

It was about taxes, local property taxes. Even in this reliable bastion of progressivism, some are fed up.

One woman explained the irony of the situation — without realizing it — and displayed the bankruptcy of modern-day liberalism perfectly.

I’m at the breaking point. It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes. I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”

She doesn’t mind paying taxes? Until now, that is. Well, I don’t like paying taxes, but I am not also the one to blame: I have a general rule of voting against tax increases. Government, including schools, always seems to find a way to manage, no matter what the budget.

Thanks to the Austin American-Statesman for accidently revealing a little bit about the leftist mindset.


Memorial Day 2014

Yesterday, Memorial Day, I went with my nephews, niece and sister to visit The Museum of Flight.

Brigadier General Richard “Steve” Ritchie
Brigadier General Richard “Steve” Ritchie

We arrived just after Brigadier General Richard “Steve” Ritchie of the Air Force addressed the crowd. Ritchie shot down five MIG-21 fighters during the Vietnam War.

We did get the chance to hear Bill Wilson, an Air Force pilot who flew F-111s in Vietnam.

He became a prisoner of war for a short time after being shot down over enemy territory. On December 22nd, 1972, while attacking a target in vicinity of Hanoi, Bill’s aircraft was shot down after an assumed lucky shot to an engine gearbox. After a valiant escape and evasion lasting a few days, including a near rescue by a HH-53C “Jolly Green Giant” while under heavy ground fire, Bill Wilson and his crewmate Bob Sponeybarger become POWs. They were repatriated on March 29th, 1973.

Amazingly, there is an audio recording of radio communication between Bill and his rescuers, made during the operation.

We then went on to tour the place, which has numerous exhibits, first stopping at the cafe for a bite to eat. While they were eating, I toured through the main area, where there are many planes and helicopters on display.

Some hang from the ceiling, others are placed on the ground. There seem to be hundreds of them. The museum could easily take up an entire day. It closes early, at five, so we only had a few hours.

Thankfully, my nephews like playing the flight simulator in the World War I area, otherwise I might have missed it. Since my great-great uncle served in the AEF and is buried in France, I have a particular interest in the First World War.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,146 other followers