Category: LIFE STORIES


Remembrance Day November 11

REMEMBRANCE DAY for soldiers or war victims ?

PTSD suffered by both parties. However, only soldiers and those flying in their war planes dropping the tons of bombs onto civilians, women and children alike, are being celebrated in Remembrance Day ceremonies as heroes.

Victims of those wars who suffered on the sidelines, or fallout – World War I – and those who suffered heavy bombings and destruction of their home lands, – World War II – particularly starting from 1941 until 1945, are not allowed to ever forget their experiences being persecuted, suffering in concentration camps, and being heavily bombed as small children, growing up in completely destroyed home lands; now also suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

We are not heroes of war, we did not fly over enemy lands and drop bomb loads, we were just trying to survive and rebuild our home lands.

Where is the justice in that ?

Soldiers belong to the governments who declare wars, they are also called GI – government issue for that reason – they get weapons and tanks and war planes and are being deployed, for the sole purpose to kill. They can defend themselves. Not so civilians. They are the real heroes. At the same time, they are the ones who do not want to be reminded of those terrible experiences.

Don’t worry, we do remember without big ceremonies and pompom.

Grizzly Bear trophy hunt – meaning that a bear is being killed and stripped of its pelt, and that more than ever it is the European (so-called) hunters who come to British Columbia, to partake in the (rather liberally set provincial quota for) hunting and killing those animals.

[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/grizzly-bears-overhunted-in-b-c-say-researchers-1.2417306 ] .

So, what is the point exactly of stripping a bear of its pelt and hanging it up on the wall ? Or do they use the bear pelts as carpeting ? Or do they think that there is a major market for any of its parts ? maybe in China ?

I cannot see the point of it, yet. For example, a Norwegian traveling all the way to the most Western Canadian Province, British Columbia, in order to return back home with the skin of one of the most intelligent animals. One of the remnants of a Grizzly bear population that has been shrinking to only pockets in Western Canada.

While the BC government claims that set quotas are scientifically proven (or, should I say “clinically proven” ?), scientists here who study the Grizzly bear population know otherwise. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/grizzly-bear-kill-limits-being-broken-across-bc-study-says/article15301716/ ]

And don’t you hate it, when a government agency (these are not professionals or scientists, but politicians with no science or even statistical background), determines how many bears can be killed in one season. Don’t tell me, female bears are also included ? ! And who is controlling the hunt ? Any member of those BC governmental agencies ? Is anybody out there in the cold and the wilds to check if the “right” bear is killed ? [Reminds me of the Right Whale in the 19th and 20th century, who were almost completely exterminated. – http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/north-atlantic-right-whales-hunted-to-the-edge-of-extinction-405848.html ]

For those visitors from out of Canada, don’t touch our bears, leave them be, go hunt your own (people) or animals, whatever they be.

Despite my many years living in Alberta’s wilderness, I would have considered it a rare privilege to actually have encountered a grizzly bear in the wild. Black bears I have encountered many.

Grizzlies, so near, yet invisible

My first meeting up close with a grizzly had been in a wildlife park during our many travels through the United States and most of its national parks. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, on our way to Mt. Rushmore. [ https://www.bearcountryusa.com/ ]

This was in the summer of 1976, the year of America’s Bi-Centennial celebrations. I had just graduated in December of 1975 from Syracuse University, New York State. And taken the time off to travel extensively that summer with my little boy, eight years old, in our old square back VW van – a really old model. I called it our ‘Hobomobile’, as it served also as our home for many weeks. By Fall of that year we went up north into Canada, before the cold set in. Shortly after we arrived in Alberta in 1976, I got myself work. Then from January 1977 until into the 1990s working in Alberta’s oil industry.

Talking about grizzly bears : –

From 1978 on until the year 2002 I mostly lived by myself – after also my son left for the USA in 1990 do do his graduate studies in Alabama – in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. Surrounded by wild life. Because all those many years I had horses, I also had large pieces of land. Mostly wilderness, treed. After nine years in the Kananaskis country south west of Calgary, during the 1980s, several times with a group of other riders and the horses, we made overnight trips for several days to Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park area. Because this is so high up, this is also prime Grizzly bear country. For several days we camped out in large Army tents, the entire compound surrounded by electrified barb wire, against bear visits.

[ https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/grizzly-bear-ly-misses-hiker-after-charge-forcing-closures-in-banff-national-park ][ https://globalnews.ca/news/4255044/hiker-charged-grizzly-lake-minnewanka-banff/ ]

During those years I also had 160 acres of bare land far outside West of Cochrane, (north up Forestry Trunk Road, north of the (today Ghost River Dam area)). [ https://www.cottageclub.ca/history ]. This was so far out, surrounded by miles of Crown land, that there were no real neighbours. I made very many rides with my horses alone in this wilderness area high up in the Rocky Mountain Foothills, but never once came face to face with a grizzly bear. They are there, they can hear you, they can smell you. I can see traces of them. Besides that rarely would any bear or wolf or any wild animals attack a human, when going out alone in those areas, always make some noise, make yourself heard. This 160 acres by the way was close to the Stoney Indian Reserve. [ http://www.rockymountainnakoda.com/our-lands ]. My most precious book: These Mountains are our Sacred Places. The Story of the Stoney People. 1977. By Chief John Snow, of the Wesley Band.

Back to grizzly bears.

From 1994 until the year 2000 my land with my home and horses on 80 acres was even more remote, north west of Cochrane, Alberta, a wilderness where the nearest little town was Water Valley, Alberta. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Valley,_Alberta ]

Surrounded by hundreds of acres of Crown land. Often during those years I had to visit a saw mill somewhere in the middle of nowhere to pick up my rails for making my horse fences. There were no roads. This could only be done by a heavy 4×4 truck.

One day I drove in to see that guy who operated the mill. On my way in, a couple of guys in a truck came out, white as sheets in their faces. I thought they saw a ghost. They told me that there is a grizzly bear who had taken down a cow and still in there, feeding.

I drove on, passing by some yellow Dept. Forestry tape – WARNING BEAR – then on to the sawmill. No one there. Pretty eerie. Again the bear nearby, but not visible.

That’s as much as goes for grizzly bears. They are there, but cannot be seen. If you run into one unexpected, though, you better be careful !

Since 2002 residing in British Columbia, where Grizzlies and their sub-species – the Pacific Rain Forest white Spirit Bear – can hopefully be seen by sailing up the BC coast north Vancouver Island. Which I did in 2014, stopping various times during the sailing thru the Johnson strait. One of my videos during a storm [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIVhEkGRiN8 ] . Grizzlies hunting for salmon – we did not see. [ https://renataveritashistory.com/2014/10/25/adventure-sailing-trip-northern-vancouver-island/ ].

NOTES. Links to earlier articles on grizzly bear hunt.

[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/grizzly-bears-overhunted-in-b-c-say-researchers-1.2417306 ] .

otherwise. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/grizzly-bear-kill-limits-being-broken-across-bc-study-says/article15301716/ ]

CHRISTMAS MIRACLES

--- do happen.

For very small children Christmas miracles can be as big as impressive gifts or as
small as - what I call - TIME OUT during endless bombing raids in the middle of 
one of the worst world wars. This was in Europe. 
When I was only three living in a country that was heavily fire bombed day and 
night, every day and every night, it sure was a miracle from heaven for us children
that during a few cold December days the bombings stopped. 
This was our Christmas present. 
Although this is long ago I will never forget, the two days in December, 24 until 
December 26, we had our little Christmas, with Christmas songs, standing by the
piano that my mother used to play so well. 
My father ? he was long MIA or somewhere in Russia frozen to death. 
Despite remembering this particular aspect of all of this, it does not bother me in
 the least, not to worry about the Christmas season anymore. 
I am just happy to be here where I am, on the other side of the ocean.  And have a
good time. 
Wish the same to all !

In case any physician or clinician tries to tell you that a large tear in the (supraspinatus portion of the) rotator cuff in the shoulder cannot be healed, other than selling you expensive steroid injections, or alternatively refers you to a specialist for a future surgery, mostly years later after having been on a lengthy wait list. Then my experience maybe helps to clear this up.

FIRST, explanation of what all these medical terms mean. [ https://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/rotator-cuff-tears ]. The supraspinatus is one of the posterior muscles surrounding the shoulder, specifically the rotator cuff (source of many injuries), the others are trapezius and the largest the deltoid. Important to know is that these are some of the muscles needed to lift or rotate the upper arm.

 

Unfortunately, when an injury occurs, usually very painful, the first treatment seems to always be prescribing pain medications including most often steroid injections into any of the upper arm muscles. More than not, nilly/willy anywhere. Resulting in either subduing pain, not longer than 4 months, or what is worse, resulting in no pain reduction. Does that sound familiar ?

Plus, injections should always be given ‘guided’ (using a monitor) and by a specialist to know where the needle goes in. Remember, once an injection received, this treatment may go on forever, mostly not resulting in any repair of a tear in the muscle’s tendon. The opposite may more likely be the case.

Surgery ? Not the answer either. Why ? Firstly, surgery cannot be done for elderly patients because their tissue is thinner. Ergo, the tear will probably get worse. Secondly, even if the surgery is using good healthy tissue, no guaranty that pain is resolved and all is well.

Here is my case. January 2016 received an injury in my right arm. Throughout 2016 pain went into my right shoulder. October 2016 ultrasound shows sub deltoid bursa inflammation [Bursa m/l is padding between muscles and bone.], but no focal tears. November 2016 first corticosteroid injection into sub deltoid by GP (no ‘guidance’). After that, I was pain free for 3.5 months. March 2017 the second corticosteroid injection (both were using Triamcinolone acetonide) into my deltoid. No pain reduction whatsoever. Done by same GP in office unguided.

April 2017 several physio therapist sessions, with pretty severe moving of my right arm and shoulder. Needless to say the pain I suffered. June 2017 third and last steroid injection, done guided in hospital, using Depo Medrol. Again, pain was worse after that.

Referred to physiatrist specialists. End June 2017 request for MRI of shoulder.

December 2017 results of MRI id’d : Large tear involving supraspinatus portion of rotator cuff. The doctor who had requested this MRI told me, and I quote:

“There is nothing we can do about this, except continue steroid injections. Surgery is out of the question” [mind you, I never considered surgery] . More steroid injections, thanks, but no thanks.

Instead, I started healing myself since October 2017. My program:

Five times a week working in the local YM/YWCA swimming pool, aqua fit program or swim, then warm pool, weights, carefully moving my right arm and shoulder, to strengthen the surrounding muscles.

What helps is heat. When tissue is still inflamed, ice. I bought myself equipment such as ice pack, and a little ultrasound machine, for that torn upper arm and shoulder. Cannot say, that that helped a lot. Neither did Voltaren gel.

When moving or rotating my right arm, very carefully done. After not being able to lift my right arm, I can do it now, best when heated (under hot shower or in steam room). I am doing better now. Best yet, I save money by helping myself. [At this point I need to mention, be careful, follow your own instincts and programs.]

Checking the NET, there are umpteen sites on “healing rotator cuff tears”, most of them try to sell something. Found a fairly good one :

[ http://www.aidmyrotatorcuff.com/rotator-cuff/stretching-and-exercise-for-a-rotator-cuff-tear.php ]. Also my good book bought ten years ago gives lots of insights.

NOTE. I have not yet had a follow up ultrasound to actually see if that tear is smaller or fluids are still retained. Not likely at my age (80 years) I would get anything done anymore. Nor, do I make the premise that any of such injury can be completely healed.

One month at the Marina Hotel & Resort,  located at the Bahia Santa Cruz. There are seven Bahias (beach areas within secluded bays). [ https://www.lonelyplanet.com/mexico/oaxaca-state/bahias-de-huatulco ]. The sand here is nice and yellow and the water of the Pacific clean and clear. Despite, that this is also an area for local fishing boats.

This entire area referred to as Huatulco lies along the Pacific Ocean within the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Meaning this is a highly touristy area with its seven bays of beaches and therefore frequented by many Mexican families, as Mexico City is only one and a half hours flight from any of the Bays. Because of its decent pricing, the Marina Hotel Resort is one of the largest attracting many Mexican families. Use ear plugs to sleep. Everybody is very friendly, especially if you make the effort of speaking Spanish.

Coming from Canada, British Columbia Pacific Coast, the temperature difference feels enormous on arrival. I had booked a difficult connection between Vancouver Airport and Huatulco, with stops at Los Angeles, CA, where I had to take an overnight hotel, then on the next day via Mexico City to the final destination Huatulco Airport. We do have direct flights from Vancouver, Canada. The flying did not bother me that much. I only had a small suitcase with me, quick in and quick out.

This is my fourth vacation to various locations in Mexico. However this area is different as it has been developed on the basis of an extended resort and beach area. Not offering cultural and historical sights.

I have to admit that I do not favour Mexican food. But at Santa Cruz Bay there were so many hotels and restaurants that one could always find something good and delicious. In fact I dined mostly at the Holiday Inn across the road. They even take – besides Pesos, also MC or American dollars. Which means that a meal could become quite cheap. I also bought fresh fruits and vegetables at the little grocery stores, plus there are weekly markets where produce is cheaper.

Throughout this month the weather was always hot with very high humidity. The little town La Crucecita. is a short 1km walk uphill along beautiful landscaping including natural stone steps and walls. Delightful. If it were not for the constant irrigation, there would be desert instead of those beautiful plants and trees.

The best yet is the high level of safety everywhere. I always travel alone and walk alone. I could walk at night up that hill in safety. With the number and levels of security personnel and guards, from hotel, beach, municipal, State and Federal. I never witnessed one altercation or problem anywhere.

Friday the 16th February we had a 7.2m earthquake nearby in the State of Oaxaca, direction of Puerto Escondido. I could feel the building shake in my hotel. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Oaxaca_earthquake ] . Of course this happens often particularly along that stretch of Pacific Ocean from all the way down south up to Alaska.

Santa Cruz being the heart of the Marina, many tourist boats are leaving from here to any of the other bays. While most of the restaurants are along the beaches. Taxis are plentiful, most operating on fixed prices, 30 Pesos.

We did a nice day tour to the Hagia Sofia Sabiduria Sagrada, a large 130ha Botanical Park. Its a unique agro-ecological development with many different plants and flowers, fruit trees, and butter flies and birds. As well as wildlife [not to be seen during the day]. All food is grown on the property, and visitors are invited to delicious organic breakfast and lunch, all included. The setup is amazing, somewhere is the Santa Magdalena River and an opportunity to take a dip and go behind the little water fall. Change cabins are there and a naturally constructed shower facility as well as WCs. Cost was MXN800.

My next trip will be to the other side of Mexico.

The Christmas Tree

There are three kinds of Christmas Trees.

The first and most commonly known today is the tree that Christians put up in their homes and decorate during the end of December. This kind of tree – not only because of the fire danger – is mostly an artificial tree, decorated with the most outlandish tinsels, glittering with lights and ornaments. Often plastic angels top the tip of the tree. Its main use today is for presents laying down under this tree. The good part is, it can be recycled, it does not burn, and one live tree saved.

The second kind of Christmas Tree is the real wonderful natural tree growing somewhere on a faraway mountain, surrounded by snow on the ground and happy people. Today the Christmas Tree is a center of our activities and gives meaning to the Christmas Season. When I lived in Alberta in the mountains, my tree was always outside and alive.

The third type of ‘Christmas Tree’ (when I was a very young child), were the warning lights of Allied bomber planes during the heavy bombings of Germany, including my hometown 1940 to 1945. [We called them Christmas trees, Weihnachtsbäume.] Lights illuminating the entire sky just before the bomb loads were dropped during night bombing raids by Lancaster and Halifax bomber airplanes. A warning for us children to hide somewhere.


 

Germany and Europe has become a different world. Not only as a result of the first major terror attacks in the United States, followed by regularly recurring attacks in public places, including North America and elsewhere.
But for me also of looking more critically at differences of life in general in North America as compared to my former (long-ago) homeland Germany.
In Summary: In my 52 years after having left it, (that is 43 years out of Europe), living, working and travelling in North America (US, Canada, Mexico) I have seen so much, met so many different peoples, and had so many unbelievable experiences that if I would even consider moving back to where I came from, it is like shrinking my brain from it’s now large size to a small pea, or having to wear some giant Scheuklappen [blinkers]. It’s all a matter of perspective.

TRAVEL TIPS.
Nonetheless, Visiting Germany one can be assured that most everything works efficiently. Not anymore their public transit system, because of shrinking public roads and excessive automobile traffic. And so many people. As a Canadian, I can say that, because we have hardly any population in the second largest country.

Good city maps are always tough to get on the Internet, in fact the ones you find are more or less useless. So, on arrival in any city in Europe first thing ask for city maps and regional maps.
I arrived Frankfort Airport. To get to Wiesbaden is easy: From the Airport Terminal 1 take the S-Bahn (Rapid Transit) S8, also works S9, to main train station, from there find the Bus to get you to your address. Free WiFi at Frankfurt Airport may work certain areas only. I got a copy of the entire transit network in Canada from the Internet: http://www.rmv.de, Regionaler Schienennetzplan and Schnellbahnplan.

The day of arrival I prefer to pay a one way ticket for the Bus, to first get to the wherever one resides. After that I buy a monthly bus pass. Strangest thing is, one enters a bus in the middle door, the driver does not care to see your bus pass. But beware, any control and you don’t have a pass, can cost 100$. In Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz, I bought a monthly bus pass for the region Wiesbaden-Mainz, it includes also the S-Bahn.The monthly bus pass also includes the city of Mainz across the river Rhein, best to use is S-Bahn.
Mobile phone (in Germany called ,Handy,) setup is easy. Enough options offered by competing network servers with SIM card, special outlets or super markets or other stores. Buy the plan with the SIM on arrival.
The nicest thing about Wiesbaden are it’s many hot springs (Thermen) and Spa’s. There are many in this entire Rhine-Main region, which rests on a thin earth crust, therefore the many natural hot springs. Thousands of vineyards, good wines, too. Germany’s largest river Rhein offers plenty of river cruises starting Mainz/Wiesbaden along this most beautiful stretch of Germany, up to Cologne.

Propaganda or eyewitness news ?, which in other words means my own personal experiences. Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) was an equivalent to today’s citizens’ control and spy organizations, but operating within a fascist dictatorial rule, like in Nazi Germany. Nazi derived from National Socialist, the type of government under a dictator, subjecting citizens to very strict rules of obeisance. The only rule under the Nazi regime was: If you are NOT with us, you die. The punishment of choice was the guillotine (head shorter). During those times of WWII, a large number of extremely dedicated SS officers were needed for this Gestapo to function like a well oiled machine to keep the population under control. Control being the operative word. The Gestapo being the enforcers. Since they mostly operated enforcing their terror on civilians (the regular German army was at the Front, Russia) this had been even more traumatic, especially to small children. In order for this system to function as well as it did, an important aspect of it was the reliance on certain dedicated Nazi citizens to report on others, like neighbours, friends, even family. That is exactly what happened to us, my mother, sister and myself. A neighbour in our building, probably a superNazi, called in to the Gestapo reporting that my mother forbade us children to say Heil Hitler in school. I was 5 years old at that time. One day, our door bell rang, there were two Gestapo officers at the door, came in, checking out our flat even the attic, they thought my father who at that time was at the Russian Front, was hiding somewhere. Because my mother had two little children, that saved her life. Later that afternoon she tried to commit suicide, taking pills. I’ll never forget. And all this in the middle of the war, being subjected to daily and nightly bombings. Question remains: “What is so different now compared to then, with Government spy organizations controlling and terrifying citizens ?”

Located in Lower Saxony, Germany. Early history shows human settlements in and around before 12000 B.C. The actual town began to develop around the 9th century, early founders two Dukes of the Welfen Dynasty, and growing as a merchants’ town. During the 12th century the most powerful noble Henry the Lion (Heinrich der Löwe), Duke of both Saxony and Bavaria, founded not only Braunschweig with its many interconnected market towns, but also Munich, Lübeck and Lüneburg. Interesting to note: His father in law was King Henry II of England. By the 19th century Braunschweig was made capital of an independent Duchy. Braunschweig’s centre piece the Saxon lowland Castle (Burg) Dankwarderode from the 12th century exists today restored. Reconstructed during the 19th century and major damages suffered during the war.

The interesting part is about the Lion statue, which was built in honor of Duke Henry the Lion in the 12th century and erected in the center square of the Castle. It is the largest and oldest preserved bronze sculpture of the middle ages. The original Lion – to prevent from being destroyed during WWII – is now inside the castle museum, and a replica erected in the castle square.

The legend of the Lion: Henry the Lion went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. From there he brought a lion back with him. When Henry died 1195 the faithful lion as a result refused all food, and died at Henry’s grave. I was born in Braunschweig, and left my home town in Fall 1961. I remember from this Lion saga, that as children (not during the bombings of our home town but after 1945) we went to the Castle. At the large front portal there were large it appears claw marks in the stone, marks – the story goes – were made by the lion.

Brauschweig also has a dark past. Adolf Hitler who came over from Austria in 1913, paid deciding visits to Braunschweig in the early 1930th, starting the “brown” wave of the Reich and was made a German citizen February 1932 in Braunschweig. Which led to Hitler become Chancellor of the German Reich (consolidation of Austria, Germany and who knows else) on 30 January 1933. Not too late to revoke this “citizenship” thing ? [ http://www.spiegel.de/international/revoking-the-fuehrer-s-passport-hitler-may-be-stripped-of-german-citizenship-a-471168.html ]

Between September 1943 and April 1945 Braunschweig suffered at least forty large Allied bombing raids by the British AF and the American USAAF mostly B17 bombers; the worst October 1944 by 233 Lancaster bombers, destroying 90% of civilian targets. The American bombers focusing onto industrial sites. April 12, 1945, followed the invasion of the 30th US Infantry Division in Braunschweig. Subsequent occupation by British forces. I know, I was there, five years old then. [British Forces Germany, permanent deployment to end by 2020. As of 2015 there were still over 5,000 troops in Germany.].

Today’ Braunschweig: largely reconstructed areas, rebuilt formerly historical quarters, modern buildings, some ridiculous American inspired funky buildings, and populations having moved here from anywhere in the world.