2935 Rocky Point Road
Bremerton, Wash. 98312
|| 360-479-1748 or 206-605-1957 (cell) |||
Liebe Familie und Freunde: / Dear Family & Friends:
Our thoughts are with all our family and friends this year when world
events caused much horror, tears and reflection. We are hopeful for a
peaceful Holiday Season and New Year.
The shattering terrorist attack September 11th on New York City's affected also our lives a little. We were grateful that Mom Streich (Ursel's mother) and Rena (nephew Karl's wife) - both in Manhattan at the time-were safe, if only a few blocks from the towers. This tragic event also triggered Mom's reluctant move from N.Y. Since October she lives in a Retirement - Assisted Living apartment here in Bremerton, 10 minutes away from both us and Heidi's family. It is hard to imagine how it must feel like moving from the center of the universe to forsaken Bremerton when you are 90 years old! The whole family and many in her new home try to make her feel welcome, but Ursel spends most hours helping her get settled in her new environment.
This year's family reunions started out in July with a five-day celebration of Mom's 90th birthday in July at Karl's home in White Plains. Eight grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and their families enjoyed barbecues, family videos and scrapbooking sessions. Other logistical challenges (with 8 children & 22 adults!) included a cruise to the Statue of Liberty, a celebration at Mom's Retirement Home, lively van/bus trips to Canarsie where Ursel's family grew up, her father's gravesite, Coney Island and the Aquarium. Family from Upstate New York, Istanbul and Seattle took lots of photos & videos for the Streich Memorial Library.
Jumping across the Atlantic, we celebrated a week-long Krumme reunion on Juist, an island in the North Sea, with nothing but white sand, endless dunes, lovely red brick houses, horse-drawn taxis and -- lo and behold - no cars! No one could or wanted to escape the family gatherings over meals in Hotel Bracht, sing-alongs (unter kompetenter Leitung der Flakenholzer Quintettler) or on the beach. Bicycle and hiking tours happened in smaller groups. Thanks, Bärbel, for sponsoring and superbly organizing this memorable event between your trips to Liberia, North Korea and Afghanistan earlier in the year! We should have done this years ago and now promised ourselves to do it again!
We added a few days to see old and new places, visited Dortmund, Berlin (Kreutzberg [where we enjoyed Helen Krumme's hospitality and sociological introduction to both "Hinterhof Gaerten" and migration patterns between Berlin and Turkey], Rangsdorf [where we met with Ursel's cousins], Kaulsdorf -- Ursel's birthplace), Würzburg, München (Biergarten) and Flakenholz (near Hameln) where Günter's younger brother Ulrich would have retired to and is now resting on the cemetery. After our return and just before the horrible events in N.Y., those relatives (nephew Jan & family from Munich) who could not come to Juist came to Seattle instead to complete the reunion.
Our main reading material in Germany was a book which Bärbel had found a month earlier in Pakistan: Ahmed Rashid, "Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia."
Bärbel's own stories of life (and health care)
Taliban, it prepared us a bit for the news and debates once the war broke
out. In the meantime, Bärbel went back twice and is now organizing
Caritas' refugee relief for camps (especially the
Akora Khattak Camp) along the border in Pakistan. |
Our four (soon five) grandchildren continue to bring life into our Rocky Point home and make us feel young and old at the same time. Second grader Alyssa enjoys teaching her 4-yr old sister, Kimberly, how to write numbers and letters or draw animals and sea creatures. Both look forward to have Mom more at home, now that Heidi is on an extended sabbatical from medical practice. Tabitha (4) and Tyler (3) both go to the same Montessori School in Everett. They are great comrades in their play and learning! Mom Jean has become an enthusiastic consultant for Usborne children's books, giving presentations at schools and homes. What are the fathers of these adorable grandchildren up to? Chad is dispensing his "knock-out skills" now also at the new campus of Harrison Hospital in Silverdale, while Lars continues to enjoy his entrepreneurial freedom in Internet-related activities trying to convince prospective clients to place their marketing or training videos online (by coincidence, he encoded clips of the life in a Pakistani refugee camp for Bärbel's relief organization which you will be able to see if you find this letter on the Web)
We almost forgot to mention our greatest adventure this year, our week-long "ferry-trip" to Alaska in June! We had seen the ships coming out of Bellingham (or Seattle in years past) many times on our sail trips, had heard a lot about the beauty of the Inside Passage, but always wanted to wait until we were old enough not to be able to do it by sailboat any more. Well, the time had come. Thus, accompanied by two of Ursel's nursing friends for part of the trip, we went up and down these gorgeous seascapes, past romantic fishing villages and spectacular glaciers, on the same ferry, in the same simple but comfortable cabin, staying in places like Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell and Skagway, for two or three hours, sometimes in the middle of the night, often too short or too wet to go ashore. While we enjoyed it tremendously and were happy not to be on one of those monstrous cruise ships, we decided (helped by onboard reading of James Michener's fascinating "Alaska") that we would take more time and land trips on a future trip.
Should you see this letter on paper, you may want to access it also electronically in order to inspect a few (additional) family fotos and some favorite links. ( http://krummefamily.org).