Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wedding Attendants: Past and Present

In 1958 I was a flower girl in a wedding for my Sunday School teacher, Carleen. I remember I had a white basket shaped umbrella filled with flower petals. I don't recall too many details from that day but I do remember having to go back after the honeymooners returned to take pictures. I believe there was a camera "malfunction" on the wedding day ... as in ... no film in the camera. Oops!
Saturday Colin and Calleigh were attendants in Matt and Kathy's wedding along with Kathy's niece and nephew, Grayson and Rhiannon. They were at the wedding for nearly eight hours and they did such a great job through all the photo sessions, the ceremony, dinner and dancing. They were excellent!
I'm sure I will have more photos posted in the next few days ...

And I Have Kept Back the Rain From You ...

Amos 4:7
And I have kept back the rain from you ...

Here's a picture at 3:00 p.m. shortly after we arrived at Vista Hills Vineyard yesterday on the wedding day. Rain was in the forecast (is this REALLY July in Oregon?) and Matt & Kathy would make a decision by 5:30 p.m. to move the ceremony indoors or continue with the outdoor plan.

Here's a picture at 6:30 p.m. Notice how the weather changed!

Here's a Facebook post from a dear friend, Melney yesterday morning:
So excited for you today! Praying everything goes as planned and the clouds clear away and beautiful sunshine comes out for the special wedding day!
Wow ... thanks to all of you for your prayers! We were able to follow the original plan and the bride and groom got to enjoy the wedding of their dreams.
Of course ... more photos to follow!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh, We're Going To The Chapel and ...

This is THE weekend ... what we've looked forward to for the last fourteen months. Today includes rehearsal/luncheon and Saturday is Wedding Day! The weather forecast predicts rain so Thursday the bride and groom geared up for Plan B by ordering an extra tent for the outdoor events. No matter what the weather ... nothing will ruin this special event for our family :)
I have been working on this slideshow since the beginning of my summer break -- scanning pictures, creating slides, and adding music clips to show at the rehearsal luncheon. It was fun and a bit stretching for me including new technology skills. Walt added the professional finish. Sit back and enjoy a little trip down memory lane ...

Matt and Kathy Wedding Slideshow from Karen Germer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

American Idol -Portland

I found this video on YouTube taken by Mrcooksnumber1fan ... my videos were taken from too far away to post. Great sound but poor image quality.
We were "late bloomers" to the American Idol show. We didn't watch the show until the finale when David Cook won. The following season we became dedicated viewers the entire season from tryouts to the finale and have continued through this year even with all the changes.
I love watching someone move forward professionally and each year I find a favorite from the very beginning. This year Scotty caught my eye early in the season. Even though I have never been a fan of country music, I liked his personality and deep voice. Hard to believe he's only a teenager.
We waited a bit too long to buy our tickets. We went back and forth on the decision and finally made up our minds to go ... we liked the diversity/talent of the eleven in the tour. I have to say ... our seats were up pretty high in the Rose Garden but we still had a good view. It was a fun evening and I would definitely go again.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Best of Italy in Review

Oh ... one more Italy post :)
I thought I would add a video Walt put together from our trip.
Thank you again for traveling with me in "I Remember ... Italy!"
Now ... I need to get last minute projects finished for the wedding next weekend. Excited!

I Remember ... Goodbye Rome, Hello Portland

We decided to sign up for the first departure van to the airport. We probably could have slept a little longer and gone with the second group but Walt was concerned about going through customs etc. We were looking forward to a long day ...
We woke up at 5:00 a.m., got the last minute packing done, and set our luggage outside our door. The hotel had breakfast in the lobby area with only a few of us up and ready to depart. We so appreciated having John and Jan there to say goodbye. They were planning to stay several more days so they really didn't need to be up that early ... but that's the kind of people they are ... very sweet and thoughtful.
After our final goodbyes and hugs we boarded the shuttle bus for the ride to the airport.
The airport was the same routine ... going through all the procedures to get through customs and finally to our gate. We faced a long wait since we arrived too early. It was a good time to read and relax a bit. There were a few shops open so I spent the rest of our euros picking up a few more souvenirs.
For some reason the flight seemed so long returning to Philadelphia. And to think ... when our flight landed there would be another six-hour flight to Portland. When we deboarded in Philadelphia it almost seemed to take longer to reenter the United States than leaving it. So many lines to go through. When we were going through customs we noticed John and Carmen behind us in line. They had left in the second shuttle ... so I guess we could have gotten a bit more sleep after all.
The gate to Portland was packed and the airport was extremely warm. We really didn't have time to eat but wifi was available so we contacted family members to let them know we were on our way. By now I felt very "antsy" to get home. Thinking of sitting on a plane for another six hours seemed unbearable. Seems like once you know you're heading home ... you just can't wait to get there!
It was good to see Oregon once again from the sky ... nice to be home. When we left our gate we noticed our grandchildren holding signs saying, "Welcome Home" and Brian and Tim were there too. What a wonderful welcome back! The first thing Walt wanted at the Wendy's (in the airport) was a large iced tea with extra ice ... but wouldn't you know it ... it was not available! By the time Brian dropped us off at home it was 11:00 PM ... and with all the time changes ... it made for a very long day.
Grazie ... I hope you have enjoyed "looking back" with me ... maybe learning something new about Italy or perhaps you are now considering traveling there sometime in the near future. Hopefully one day I will listen to / read about your travel stories. Arrivederci!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I Remember ... The Farewell Dinner

Once again we boarded the bus for our Farewell Dinner in Rome.
There is live music, warm but comfortable temperatures and tables set up on a tiled patio ... a beautiful setting. I wish I could remember the name and location of the restaurant.

Our table mates for the evening were the DiCarlos. Such enjoyable company!

Here's our tour group enjoying the evening:

Telly made a farewell speech reviewing our time together and there were many toasts and much laughter. Ken was our group spokesperson and thanked Telly for not only being a wonderful tour guide, but a true friend to each of us. She made our trip so wonderful ... we truly felt we had experienced the Best of Italy 2010.

We spent the remainder of the evening photographing each tour family posed with Telly and Enzo. You can only imagine how long they had to smile for each photo taken!
A time for many hugs before boarding the bus for our return trip to our hotel. There were no late evening chats in the lobby, etc. It seems everyone headed back to their room to pack and get ready for our early morning departure. It felt like our trip had truly come to an end.

I Remember ... The Appian Way and the Catacombs

We arrived back in Rome early in the afternoon and checked in at the Sheraton Hotel near the airport. Everything feels like it's winding down and we are not ready for this trip to end. Even the hotel feels very "American," helping us transition to our journey back home.
Before our scheduled farewell dinner we toured the catacombs of San Callisto. Telly was right ... the catacombs are a must-see in your tour plans for Rome and I'm glad we did not miss this opportunity.
We drove along the Appian Way, which was once the world's most important road. You can see the original pavement stones and the road is lined with ancient tombs and monuments. Below the street are miles of tunnels where the early Christians buried their dead and, when necessary, held secret church services. This was during a time when Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire. During ancient Roman times no one was allowed to be buried within the city wall. Christians wanted to be buried vs cremated due to their beliefs in the resurrection. Many Christians were poor and land was expensive but a few wealthy Christian landowners allowed their properties to be used as a burial site.
We descended stairs far underground and we found cool temperatures that were a welcome relief from the day's heat. As we pass through these ancient tunnels, it is hard to comprehend life for the early Christians ... to feel the connection to this early heritage of believers.

The walls are covered in frescoes and early Christian symbols still preserved from so long ago. One stop that especially touched me was at the grave-site of Saint Cecilia where we were told the story of her martyrdom.

Exiting the catacombs back out into the heat and bright sunlight, we board the bus to head back to the hotel and get ready for the farewell dinner.

I Remember ... Siena

After breakfast and packing up we all realized that Siena would be our last city tour. It's a little sad to think that in a few short days we will return home. Instead of walking along cobbled roads and ancient ruins we will return to our jobs and daily routines.
Before starting our journey to Siena we stopped at Piazzale Michalagelo, a square located across the river overlooking the city. From this viewpoint we enjoyed a panoramic view of Florence and captured many great scenic photos. Considering the early morning hour it
was already warm but the soft breeze was refreshing.

Back on the bus ... and heading to Siena.

The bus ride became so routine ... we are in such good hands with our driver, Enzo! This was a great time to enjoy the scenery, take a nap, read a book, or ... play games on the iPhone. By this time I was addicted to Touch Rummy on my phone. It helped pass the time but I had to watch my battery life. We purchased two extra chargers so ... no worries ... play away : )
Siena, south of Florence was another town hit by the Black Death (bubonic plague) in the 1300's and lost a third of its population. From a major trade center and a population of 60,000 ... it never recovered. Today this medieval town is a thriving historic center. There are red-bricked streets leading to the fan-shaped main square, Piazza Del Campo at the heart of this pedestrian only area.

The sloping design encourages people to sit and relax. We noticed quite a few students from the nearby university. There are many narrow elevated streets to climb and views to enjoy.

It was here where we said goodbye to Bill and Marcia. They will join their daughter/granddaughter, who is a student at the university for another week in this area. It was hard to say goodbye and we realized there will be many more in the coming hours.
Since this is the last stop on our tour we needed to get serious about picking up souvenirs for family and friends. We discovered many fun shops in this adventure.
While waiting to leave we snapped another group photo. Walt took the photo ... later he was photoshopped in so everyone would be included. You can hardly tell!

We made one last stop at the AutoGrill and enjoyed our favorite ... Caprese sandwich before heading back to Rome. The reality of the tour ending was sinking in!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I Remember ... A Tuscan Hill Town

Our next optional excursion for this area was a guided tour of the nearby walled Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano (sahn jee-meen-YAH-noh). Take a fun virtual tour of this village using the link provided.

San Gimignano has fourteen medieval towers still standing and back in the 13th century more than seventy family towers were the norm for the Tuscany area. In the 14th century, San Gimignano's good times turned bad with their population dwindling from 13,000 to 4,000 due to a six-month plague in 1348. Because of this San Gimignano came under Florence's control and was forced to tear down many of their towers. Florence diverted the trade route away from this town and it never recovered.

Walking through the city is like being transported back 700 years to the Middle Ages.

We climbed up steep stairs for breathtaking views of the area.

We waited in a long line for our last gelato in Italy and enjoyed it while sitting in the Piazza della Cisterna. Thunderheads were gathering and even though it missed us, the power/lights went out in the stores. We purchased a few souvenirs before leaving.
Even though this is a "tourist-trap" I loved the medieval feel and the view. The Tuscan hill town area is beautiful and worth seeing.
We returned back to our hotel in Florence for a buffet dinner. The dining room was overly crowded again. Our tour group was pretty tired. I think the long days were starting to catch up with us.

I Remember ... A Tour of Florence

It was the fifth of July and early in the morning we called Brian to check on family. It was strange to hear fireworks in the background ... they were still celebrating the 4th back home @ 9:45 p.m. It was so good to talk to them. However, it was sad to hear the sale on their house may fall through. It was hard to be far from home during times such as these.
When we went down to breakfast we encountered a crowd due to other tour groups eating at the same time. It was hard to find a table or to eat with others in our group. The elevators were jammed with young students moving large suitcases from upper floors to the lobby. It was hard to get back to our room. We grabbed a few last minute things from our room and got ready to meet the tour bus. When we tried to use the elevator it never did reach our floor. We finally ran five flights of stairs and nearly missed our bus. Telly was just going to find out where we were. Now that was a little embarrassing ...
This day was starting out with intense heat and our first stop on our guided walking tour was the red-brick domed cathedral, The Duomo ... the centerpiece of the city and an engineering genius. This is the stuff Walt loves! Behind us was the Baptistery with it's beautiful bronze doors facing the Duomo. The doors were opened allowing us to take pictures ... what beautiful mosaics on the ceiling.

We walked over to the Piazza della Repubblica which is a large square sitting on the site of Florence's original Roman Forum and Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall ... a Florentine landmark. In this courtyard is the "fake" David. Michelangelo's David stood in this spot until 1873.

The last of our guided tour included a visit to Santa Croce Church, a 14th-century Franciscan church. It is here that we lit candles for neighbors ... at their request.

We had time on our own and despite the sweltering heat, we walked over Ponte Vecchio, Florence's most famous bridge. It is lined with shops that have traditionally sold gold and silver.

This was probably one of last cities to do souvenir shopping so we spent quite a bit of time checking out various stores. When the heat became unbearable we walked back to the hotel ... which felt like a long distance ... and enjoyed a nice lunch in the hotel cafe with others from our group.

Monday, July 04, 2011

I Remember ... Welcome to Florence

Welcome to Florence, considered the birthplace of the Renaissance ... for its art, architecture and cultural heritage.
As soon as we arrived we had an appointment for a tour of the Galleria dell' Accademia housing a Michelangelo collection, including the David. The original David has been housed here since 1873. It was moved from its outdoor location for preservation purposes. This 17-foot marble sculpture was created by Michelangelo between 1501-04. A replica was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in 1910. We couldn't get over the size and details. His hands and feet seemed especially large.
We checked into the Grand Hotel Mediterraneo and had time to get settled before heading out for our optional excursion.On this evening we experienced a Florentine dinner complete with entertainment at, Palazzo Borghese ... beautiful setting, delicious food and great entertainment with our group.

When we returned to our hotel it was still warm and we were pretty lively. We sat out on a patio and enjoyed the remainder of our evening.