A Birthday remains, regardless of the Dimension

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Birthdays are special. I think it is criminal to neglect a birthday . Forgetting is allowed, this is where a belated birthday thought or greeting serves its purpose. I appreciate the fact that modern technology ties a string around our virtual fingers. On most phones we can now program birthdays we wish to remember. Facebook also provides us with a safety net in the shape of that mini pink birthday cake up in the upper right hand corner of your FB page. And just to make sure that I don’t forget, I also use my kitchen calendar as a hard copy. Backing up is always a positive motion.

One birthday in particular which I particularly need to commemorate falls on July 19th. This is my dear Daddy’s birthday. He would have celebrated his 91st birthday this year. He passed away in 2006. Still, I celebrate his birthday every year. I am convinced that I am not alone in doing so. I know that my siblings are right next to me. I imagine innumerable mystically silent birthday wishes taking leave of the hearts of all of the people –  family and friends who adored, loved and appreciated him. I go as far as making sure to bake a cake and have a candle lit and a toast from a glass or two of a good bottle of wine. If I were a smoker, I would buy myself the fattest, most expensive hand-rolled Cuban cigar and smoke up the whole house while reminiscing about my Daddy. I am an inveterate non-smoker, so it will be the thought that counts.

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Celebrating these special birthdays allows one to maintain the crucial connection to the past. Not living in the past, just remembering and appreciating the lovely moments of days gone by which have most certainly done their share in forming who we are as individuals today.  Birthdays are a big deal in the wide scope of a person’s life.  Take a moment and let this thought weave in and out of the part of the mind and psyche in charge of such meditations. It would be so interesting to know how others view birthdays. For a long time I was married to a guy who abhorred even the mere notion of a birthday. Go figure that one out! But thanks to the high rank enjoyed by BIRTHDAYS in my family, I never backed down about celebrating birthdays and of marking the occasions with a tasty cake and gifts. Just as my Dad did with me and my siblings.

I am not sure where this post is leading except that I feel comforted by the celebration planned for July 19th. The gorgeous summer weather will abide with us, so perhaps a bonfire on the backyard patio would be in order.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

If you don’t like museums, try this one!

Today I would like to share some images of what for me is the loveliest museum I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. Luxembourg’s Villa Vauban. Last Friday I had planned on entering as I had not seen the most recent exhibit. It is rare that I miss one. I never made it even up the steps near the entrance. Distractions like you wouldn’t believe! The luscious gardens and the surprises set up for the public’s pleasure caused me to shift gears and stay out of doors, carpe diem-like and soak up some of that elusive Vitamin D. Summer weather takes no prisoners. I’ll catch the new exhibit very soon…the very moment that the inclement weather descends upon us anew. Until then I think I’ll take advantage of the benches or the tables and chairs set up on the grounds and enjoy the scenery at least once a day. The photos I snapped tell the story. If you are ever in the neighborhood pay a visit to Villa Vauban. It is small enough to enjoy during your lunch break and Friday evenings the museum offers a “nocturne” and is open until 9 PM. Admission from 6-9PM is free.

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The placid gurgling of the fountain works wonders on jangled nerves.

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Now you see why I didn’t even need to go inside on such a beautiful summery day! Tasting the fig and melon with my eyes. Art is quite suggestive.

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Stunning flower beds.

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Just linger. It makes the heart grow fonder.

All on a summer’s day

As the first leg of my summer vacation winds down, I decided to spend the afternoon strolling around the neat city I call home.  Luxembourg.  It reminds me of a Fabregé egg. Today was the perfect day. Not too hot, a few fluffy clouds to offer a bit of respite from the sun’s glare. Not too many tourists, at least while I was wandering about. I was even fortunate enough to experience empty parking space karma in a positive manner adjacent to a broad section of the city park. Walking through the park to reach the Grand’ Rue (the pedestrian zone’s main drag) kept me out of the heat for a spell and treated me to birdsong and fresh, green botanical perfumes.

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I really had no destination other than a café. Luckily, I missed the lunch time crowd and thus allowed myself  a substantial cappuccino at a terrace table hosted by the Chocolate Shop smack in front of the Grand Ducal Palace. Since the Grand Duke is on holiday, the guard boxes were shuttered up for the summer. Too bad for the tourists.

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A portion of the Grand Ducal Palace. The building attached on the right is the Parliament (Châmbre des Deputés). It is not usual to glimpse the political movers and shakers on foot near the governmental buildings. No bodyguards, except perhaps for the Prime Minister, as this city is quite safe.

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My café vantage point in front of the Palace guard boxes. All shuttered up for the duration.

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And through this intricate, forged iron gate, we allow our eyes to feast on the beauty of …Image

that particular yellow hue of so many buildings here, the ramparts (Luxembourg was once a city protected by massive fortifications) and off in the distance, Kirchberg, home to several European Union entities. At the very bottom, you see what is called the “Grund”. It is so far down that there is an elevator for those in a hurry, or not up to the decent/ascent by foot. Everywhere one turns, the architecture  and geographical uniqueness of this one thousand year old city generously offers a postcard view. It never changes apart from the seasonal decor. I find it especially distracting if I am driving! The beauty never ceases to surpise and inspire me.

The cobblestones remain one of my “da-das” , albeit tricky to walk over depending on your footwear and the amount of precipitation on hand. I am an very impressionable  history “geek” and invent all kinds of little stories whenever I traipse through these old  and narrow passages.  I have been doing this for 24 years and I still experience that thrill of the past and continuity side by side. Its old quarters and fortifications have been honored by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. There is a story around every corner.

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Continuing down that very street you will eventually arrive at the Judicial complex (Cité Judiciaire) located on the Plateau du Ste Esprit. Here you find the Courts and all things of a judicial nature. These buildings are quite recent (inaugurated 2008), built to assuage a very deep need for a  modern, representative complex for the courts of Luxembourg. In my opinion, the dignified simplicity of the architectural style enhances the geographical surroundings and endows the European capital with an ensemble of proud public edifices which are kind to the eye.

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Colorful urns adorn a building in the judicial complex.

Stay tuned to part two. I’ll take you to an art museum and we won’t even make it past the threshold.

Opt for the music

Most days I rarely take the time to eat a real lunch. It is the planning which gets to me, and walks off with the concentration I need to rustle up more than a slice or two of smoked salmon and a portion of earthy-smelling red beets.  Food preparation is tedious since Mother Nature forced my hand and convinced me to offer my gall bladder up to science. No sandwiches, no pasta. So, dear reader, you can imagine my profound relief when I heard a radio announcement on my favorite radio station (100,7) about a lunchtime open air concert. Saved by the bell from having to figure out what to prepare for lunch and over the moon because it was to be an extraordinary alternative . A recital of the OPL (Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg) Horn Quartet. Heaven for a person convinced that the french horn is the most beautiful sounding musical instrument …EVER.

This was one day when overtime hours came in handy permitting me to take a long lunch. Lunch for the heart via the ears. Fortunately, my colleague and friend M., proved to be as gung-ho as myself which sorted out any crossed logistical wires so we could arrive at the gazebo in the city park in time to secure two well-positioned seats. No sooner said and plotted was the morning’s work finished and we found ourselves on the way to the parking garage and on the road. In such moments I feel fortunate to know my way around so well in the city. We immediately found a rare, empty parking space situated no more than 5 minutes by foot from the park.

M. and I made our lighthearted way to our destination under a blue sky decorated with alternating sun rays and fluffy clouds. The section of the park where the recital was to be held is directly next to the street with only a slope topped off with a berm full of vegetation to curtain off the busy avenue Marie-Adelaide. I honestly felt a swell of thrill in my chest once I caught site of the gazebo and chairs, (yes, a sit down concert in the park!) Freedom, fresh air, choice company, music, sharing of an experience had slapped a drunken grin on my face.  Although we could have garnered front row seats, I am glad we sat towards the back. Sitting too close would have distracted my attention away from the music and onto the members of the quartet and their instruments. The way men react upon sighting a fine automobile is a fair description of my behavior when I see a french horn. I play, too. Need I say more?  Choosing the back row allowed me to be transported far away by the mellifluous melodies.Four french horns and the birds in the trees. Would that it never ends!

The recital took place last Thursday, but I still scoop delight from that brief hour out of doors. The gist of the action was the simple taking time out to relax, to feel and not think of any deadlines, nor emails. Nothing. Carpe Diem, baby!

Under the Gazebo: Klassik am Park
Under the Gazebo:
Klassik am Park
Love at first sound
Love at first sound

author and her horn

Up and running

Yesterday was the day. The day I finally treated myself to a new computer. I am sitting at it this very minute listening to Arthur Rubenstein playing Chopin. Nocturne Opus 9 No 2 in Eb major. I am a sucker for this music. It reminds me of walking in an expansive flower garden, birdsong, scented flowers, the right weather and a very slight breeze. Oh, and the big fat bees feasting on the flowers.  But back to the computer. I treat it like a thin-shelled egg. Just setting it up was an hour replete with of sweaty palms. Being the first time I had ever migrated data from one mac to another (thanks to my religiously backed up external disk),I was sure that something unexpected would happen. It was just too simple. No major goofs and no omissions. It doesn’t get any better. I can see myself writing on this machine for years to come. My blood pressure was certainly on the rise yesterday as I unpacked this wonder of technology. I forfeited the community cd player to my divorce. That used to bother me. But no longer. This new wonder-machine really has it all. I can enjoy all of my music whether from iTunes or Spotify whenever I choose, however the mood strikes me. I have changed to Cat Stevens now. I guess what tickles me so deeply is that the prophecy of Miss Humphrey, my fifth grade teacher, has entered the realm of reality, the kingdom of hard facts. “I predict that in your lifetime it will be possible with the scientific advances to see with whom you are speaking on the phone at any given time.” I have been hooked ever since and don’t plan on looking back.