Archive for Friendship

Denmark, Dinesen, and Serendipity…

Coffee, according to the women of Denmark, is to the body what the Word of the Lord is to the soul.

Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen

 

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the mystery of personal connections. Six degrees of separation is just the tip of the iceberg. I never met Karen Blixen, but I knew a friend of hers, and the way we met and its consequences remain one of those enduring mysteries.  

In the winter of 1965, I was four months into a solo tour of Europe. I had traveled around southern Europe and the Middle East but wanted to see Germany and Scandinavia as well. It wasn’t the best time of year to visit, but I thought it might be my only opportunity. I flew from Istanbul to Frankfurt, took the train to Berlin, and after a few days there, opted to take the train to Copenhagen. That meant riding an East German train to the Danish ferry at Warnemunde. I thought it would be an adventure for an ex-US Marine to ride through the “evil empire.” But first I had to get from West Berlin to the station in East Berlin and transfer to the East German train. read more

My Obituary…

My wife is adamant, no funeral, no obituary, no nothing. Maybe a few friends over for drinks and stories. The only thing she wants is a bench on the Burke-Gilman Trail where bikers and walkers can stop and catch their breath. It’s where she ran, rode, and walked for more than 40 years.

So, how about you, she asks? Do you want an obituary? How about a funeral? Well, I say, I haven’t given it much thought. Well, she says, you need to, because if you go first, I need to know. She’s a career woman, but at heart she’s a family planner, a garden designer and household manager. Always organizing something or someone. read more

Love Letter to Ellen…

I’ve always been a list maker, another vestige of my OCD – shirts hung according to color, shoes arranged by function, books by subject, music by artist, etc. So, 21 years ago it didn’t seem crazy to begin keeping a list of books (including plays and films) and restaurants, by year, so I could look back and refresh my memory. Around then time was collapsing, and what I thought was 10 years ago was really 5 and so on. 

Recently, reading my high school English teacher’s obituary, I discovered she did the same – “7000 books, 3000 movies and plays and 27 countries visited.” Not the only similarity! read more

The Sorcerer’s Garden…

She loves to garden and has since she was this age. So did her grandmother, Lena, and mother Virginia. But my wife, Marilynn, has taken it to a new level. Two years ago, I profiled her as My Gardener and people were amazed. http://www.jackbernardstravels.com/my-gardener). 

She started 20 years ago with a vision and a bare concrete patio. She did a masterful job bringing her vision to life, but now the creation is threatening to overwhelm the creator. 10 years ago, when it was clear she couldn’t do it alone, a friend with a degree from the UW Horticultural Center offered to help. That arrangement lasted five years and then a talkative hardworking Austrian showed up. Last week he announced he’s moving to Hawaii and the job is open again. My fingers are crossed that another garden angel shows up to give her a hand. read more

A River Runs Through It…

My mother died in 1997. I honored her wish to be cremated and the cardboard box holding her remains sat on a shelf in my closet until the summer of 2009. I wasn’t trying to hang on to her in some creepy way, but I had a plan that took 12 years to execute. 

Claudine Mildred Christy Bernard was born in Missoula, Montana in 1906. I was born there 31 years later. Both my father and mother graduated from the University of Montana in 1928, where she was one of the first women graduates of the UM School of Journalism. My son, Brent, majored in geology at Montana State, and in 1997, daughter Diana and her husband, Nick, graduated from UM with degrees in English. Last year their son, Will, entered UM as an art major.  read more