Category Archives: Travel 2018

Hi Pop

Beth, Pop, Karen, JC. 10 June 2015.

Hi Pop,

Today marks nine months since you leukemia claimed you, and you went Home.  

Over many years of my adulthood, I did something I saw you model when I was younger: I wrote you most every Sunday evening.  A proper letter.  First in long-hand, and then typed, and eventually emailed. When we lived on Wingate, you did the same for your parents.

Truth be told, I never did see writing you as a chore, but I did come to resent the fact that your own letters and emails were increasingly infrequent.  I was dutiful, chatty, present in a wi-fi sort of way . . . even if you were not.

Now that you are gone, I miss writing, and several times over the last few months I’ve thought “I need to write Pop tonight” only to remember that you are gone.

As I write now, I’m fighting through tears that sting.  I cried very little after you died.  But this kind of exercise makes me weep — for loss, for the relationship that really didn’t have, for my own mortality.  Perhaps for many other reasons.

So, the news:

You probably know that your brother died less than six months after you did. Uncle Jim’s remains are buried at a military cemetery at Fort Scott, but his good deeds live on.  I recall seeing his goodbye to you, and thinking that it was one of the most heart-crunching moments of my life. I’m glad that he, too, is out of his suffering.

Uncle Jim and Aunt Margaret, Grandma Carter, Mom and Dad in their last photo together.

Luke is finally getting his 16th birthday trip.  We go to Toronto next month to see Niagara Falls and be tourists for a couple of days.  And Joseph is in 7th grade, which is hard to believe.  Kristen is pregnant, with a baby due in less than two months.  Your great-granddaughter Lily is now more than a year old.  

I got that research grant I wanted, spending most of July abroad in Vienna. In fact, since I saw you last, I’ve been to Moscow and Vienna and London and Stockholm and Florence.  And New York.  My sabbatical trips (starting next month) are taking me to Washington D.C., New York, Chicago several times, Toronto, and Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Saigon.  I’ll probably travel a bit more, but that’s all that is on the books right now.

I’m doing Visitor training with NASM in November, then spending Thanksgiving in New York City.  

The Royals are at the bottom of the AL Central, but the Cards are still fighting for a wildcard spot, at least as it appears today.

You didn’t have any love for Trump, so you will be gleeful to know that he continues to melt into more and more hot water, and that perhaps the tide is turning.  But I’ll continue to maintain that Pence is even worse, since he’s filled with guile and quite capable of getting his wishes.

We finally took care of the family belongings in May after my school year ended.  Karen and Beth and I took three days to sort and toss and donate and take things home ourselves.  Your old Royal typewriter found a good home with a retired minister. I am thinking that your clothes are still at the house, but JoAnne is in no hurry to be rid of them.

That wedding present cuckoo clock that you and Mom received?  It’s cleaned up, and hanging in my own stairwell.  I wind it twice a day.  You never did let me do that as a kid, but the clock is now in safe and careful hands.

The marble-topped nightstands from Argentina are in now in my bedroom, as are the lamps that you and Mom had on your own nightstands for decades. And the family rocking chair is stored at Karen’s, but I’ll claim it on my next trip over to see my sisters.

Your stone came in just before Memorial Day and looks very nice indeed.

Perhaps the most important news in my own life is that I have met a wonderful man.  We are long-distancing the relationship, and seeing how this goes, but I’m totally smitten, and so is he. His visit over Labor Day confirmed what we had both been feeling for months. He’s quite the sweetheart, and funny, and smart, and talented too.

By the way, your credit card bills are all-but-paid.  I have one left to take care of, and then I think we are done.  Jo now has legal affairs in order, and we’ve had no family drama at all.

I always closed with “That’s enough for now,” and it is, so I’ll stop.  I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you, and still processing this new adulthood.  

I hope you’re enjoying Heaven.



Last day of holiday

Although I’ve had little down-time this summer, today is officially my last day of summer holiday, since contracts begin tomorrow at Webster University.

So I’m posting some of my favorite memories from the summer!

Euro18: Imperial Carriage Museum

The Imperial Carriage Museum at Schloss Schönbrunn is part of the Kunsthistorische Museum.  It’s a very different experience from the Royal Mews in London.

Since one of my performance site visits on Wednesday was only one subway stop away from Schönbrunn, I went out to the palace to spend some time with the sleighs (!) and carriages.

Look at the detail on this mid-1800s funeral carriage:

And some random other photos:

Euro18: and home

I woke on Friday morning to the iPad NOAA warning about extreme temperatures at Rienosslsgasse 3 in Vienna.

Fortunately, I was home in Saint Louis with moderate weather, but more humidity.

At some point my iPad will figure out that I’m in the USA. I certainly know that I am! Witness:

  • Iced tea!! I went for three weeks without it.
  • Taco Bell. I went for 3.5 weeks without it.
  • Airport staffs who are not multilingual (except in Spanish). Such a change from Europe.
  • Air-conditioning everywhere.
  • Cellular service everywhere without having to think of turning the phone on and off.
  • A fridge and a freezer. (Small fridge only, with no freezer, in Vienna.)
  • Loudness. Americans just talk so damn loudly.
  • Diet Pepsi! I went for 3.5 weeks without it.

But as my friend Alice said on Facebook last evening, she has little compassion for the slight frustrations, given what I was able to see and do. And I expect no boo-hoos for the cultural differences and the weariness because of the seeing and doing.

And DO I did.

The research grant proposed outcomes are essentially complete. The draft report is 75% there, with some details and nuance to ponder and finesse. In other words, I accomplished the stated goals. The grant outcome was successful. Now we move to implementation.

Along the way, I was a tourist nearly every day — in fact, save for last Sunday, every single day of the sojourn in Europe.

What did I not do? Well, I skipped the Salzburg and Venice/Dolomites excursions because I just was not feeling well. Summer allergies are, I’m told, quite severe in Vienna this year. I did not make it to all the art museums I would have wished, and since concert season was over, I attended only two musical performances.

What DID I do?

Enough art to keep me happy for months. Less-frequented locales such as the Snow Globe Museum, the Freud Museum, the Schnapps Museum, the Imperial Crypt, and the old Jewish cemetery at Zentral Friedhof. Anglican Church services in Florence and Vienna. Florence. Choral concert by a British choir at the British Embassy Church. A cruise on the Danube. Cooking class. Visited Mahler’s grave. Walked in the steps of Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert and Haydn and so many others. Melk Abbey. Heurigerabend. Organ recital at the Jesuit Church. Churches and parks and the Naschmarkt and gelato and beer and bubbly and schnitzel and . . . well, the whole five-senses experience indeed.

And I kept up with the daily office work. My email inbox is only marginally more crowded now than it was when I left, and no decisions have been punted to next week.

Now home for a few days, and with days off this weekend with few obligations, I can rest and recharge before the onslaught of the run-up to August 20 when contracts begin.

And I can love on Auggie, who apparently did indeed miss me.

Of all the pleasures of travel, returning home is the greatest joy.

Euro18: the Imperial vault

The Habsburg rulers from many previous centuries are all buried in the same vault at the Capuchin Church in Vienna.

On Tuesday, I visited the site.  Empress Maria Theresa’s tomb is the most grand and glorious, of course.

Look closely for the spider web on her nose.

And compare the crown in the hand of death with the Holy Roman Empire crown:

I can’t tell if this is tears on her cheek, or warts.

And while not the last of the line, certainly the last of the great ones:

Euro18: leaving tomorrow

I leave on Thursday.  My flight from Vienna is at 0015 hours USA body time.  This will be a long day, but not the longest I’ve ever had.

My morning included work and tourism, and then a return to the flat to pack.

I said goodbye to Rienoβlsgasse 3 at about 3 p.m., and took a taxi to the Hilton, where I will spend my last night.  And then I checked my large bag — 21 kilos on the nose, so I had about 2.2 pounds to spare!

Thursday, well before dawn, I’ll walk across the street to the CAT and take the 5.37 a.m. train to the airport.  Copenhagen >> Newark >> Saint Louis is the itinerary, with STL expected around 4.30 p.m.

Lord, in your mercy, may the flights be on time!

My last look at the flat:

A selfie before departing (with three-day growth of beard):

And one last bag of paprika chips: