“The door flew open, in he ran, The great, long, red-legged scissor-man. Oh! children, see! the tailor’s come And caught out little Suck-a-Thumb. Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go; And Conrad cries out, “Oh! Oh! Oh!” Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast, That both his thumbs are off at last.”
I sucked my thumb with passion and abandon right from birth and maybe even before. My parents never got tired of telling the embarrassing story when I tried to suck my brother’s thumb. He often stood still when observing something with his hands folded on his back like a statesman. I played on the floor behind him when I suddenly grabbed his hand and tried to put his thumb into my mouth. He screamed in horror, thinking I was going to bite him. Initially, my parents thought that I would eventually give up this bad habit on my own. But when I continued past the toddler stage, they started to get worried. All their attempts to stop me from putting my thumb into my mouth failed. As soon as their attention was diverted, I made up for the lost time, especially at night.
Finally, my mother and sister decided on more drastic measures. To me, they read the then bestselling children’s book ‘Struwwelpeter’ by Heinrich Hoffman. I listened attentively, sucking my thumb peacefully when suddenly my ears pricked up. There was a story of a little boy who had this habit of thumb sucking like me. Like me, the boy did not stop when told so by his parents. Then one day, the thumb cutter came and cut off his thumbs. Thus he stopped him once and for all.
I was getting a bit worried hearing the story when suddenly the doorbell rang. My sister got up to answer it. She returned after a few minutes looking very serious. “The thumb cutter is here looking for Biene,” she told my mom. “Should I let him come in?” My mom replied, looking at me, “Tell him to go because Biene will not suck her thumb anymore.” My thumb was out of my mouth in an instant. I was shaken to the core. “Miraculously” from that day on, I stopped this bad habit for good.
When the snow is too deep to shovel, the wind howling around the house and the thermometer reaches rock bottom, one begins to yearn for sunshine, warmth and flowers to cheer you up. I found a few pictures in my archive, which gave me a big lift. Enjoy.
When we turned four years old, my father started teaching us on weekends. He had a large world map, which covered a wall in his study. He introduced us to geography. We had to point to and name all the continents, major countries, capitals, rivers, mountain ranges and oceans.
We had to draw maps and were rewarded with pennies if they were accurate. Papa explained the solar system to us and allowed us to colour his beautiful pen drawings for the ballads he had written. At bedtime, he would read books of the great explorers and inventors of the past or other historical events. I loved cuddling close to my father on the bench of the big tile stove and listen to the great stories of mankind.
I learned to read before I even went to school and have always been a voracious reader from then on. I was six years old when I read my first novel. My mom had the book sitting on her night table. It was a gift from my father, who loved historical novels. Whenever I had the opportunity. I secretly read this big book which intrigued me. It introduced me to an exciting world far beyond my years. To this day, it is my favourite novel. The author is Hervey Allen, and the title is “Anthony Adverse.” It was translated into German.
Although religious practices were tolerated under the new regime, they were not being encouraged. My mother had been strictly brought up in the catholic faith by her guardians. However, my father was protestant. Shortly after our birth, even before my dad had a chance to meet us, she had us baptized in the protestant faith out of respect for my father. My mother was always a firm believer in the Christian faith and instilled this faith in me. For her, the differences among the various religious denominations were not of great importance. She believed in a personal relationship with God and salvation through Jesus Christ. She would always encourage us to pray and believe in the power of God’s love.
We were introduced to the word of God by an interdenominational Christian group that read bible stories to preschool children. They must have sown seeds falling on fertile ground. To this day, I have never lost my faith in the goodness and truth of God’s word and the miracle of Christ’s promise of salvation.
Adding motion to a still picture is an effective way to add interest to your slide show. This is known as the Ken Burns effect and can be accomplished by using the crop and zoom tool in a video editor. Recently, I learned a more advanced technique that is making use of the so-called keyframes. They allow you to gain more precise control over the motion within a given time. In addition, the keyframes also let you change the opacity and quite a few other interesting functions, such as colour, rotation, scale etc. Ideally, you start out with a high resolution image. The above photo I used for this experiment lacks the clarity, which is very noticeable after I more than doubled its magnification in the process. Playing the short video will give a good idea of what I was trying to accomplish.
A challenging year lies behind us. First, a severe drought, devastating wildfires, evacuation of thousands of people, then one downpour after another, causing widespread flooding and destruction of crucial BC highways, hit our beautiful province of British Columbia. Finally in December, when everyone was preparing for a blessed and joyful Christmas Season, snow storms stopped normal traffic, and an arctic chill plunged the coastal regions into the deep freeze. Then there was Covid-19 creating unprecedented hardships in the entire world. Considering the impact of all these horrible calamities, my wife’s broken leg seems almost like a trivial event. However, it brought unexpected challenges to our personal lives. At first, Biene has been completely immobile. Our son Michael brought her a rented ‘scooter’ for Christmas. Now, she is happy to be able to move around the house with relative ease. The latest x-rays indicate that her broken bone is healing well. The air-cast is doing its job.
A heartfelt thank-you goes out to all my followers who expressed their feelings of compassion and concern for my wife’s health and well-being. It is also my hope that you all will understand my silence in the blogging sphere. A most challenging time lies behind us. Still, I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic for the year to turn out to be happy and prosperous for all of us.
After their failed attempt to flee to the West, my freedom-loving parents had to survive in a totalitarian state. The communist regime had curtailed many of their freedoms. For example, my parents could not visit their friends and relatives on the other side of Germany and the rest of the world. Before the war, my Dad had transferred to the police force in Gotha. Now, under communist rule, he could no longer keep his position as a police officer. Miraculously, one of my Dad’s old friends, a dentist, remembered that my father had worked as a dental technician in the past. He offered him a job to work in his dental laboratory. Food supplies were very short for several years after the war, especially in the East. I remember my Dad taking us to small villages in the surrounding area. He would try to trade in his high-quality police boots, belts, leather gloves and other valuable clothing for precious food like flour, butter, eggs and cheese. I will never forget the tasty delight of a freshly baked heart-shaped waffle a kind farmer’s wife handed me on a chilly fall day. It was still warm and tasted heavenly!! I never had one before.
Our diet mainly consisted of porridge, root vegetables, bread, molasses and some butter or other fat. There were strict government food rations. Since I was underweight and slightly anemic, a concerned doctor prescribed extra rations for me. But I was also a picky eater. It upset my Dad tremendously when I refused to eat or left something on the plate. He had experienced extreme hunger as a POW. My mother ended up feeding us children separately to keep him calm.