Auschwitz

 

Nowhere on Earth has so much misery been concentrated in one place. It was killing on an industrial scale and it was horrifically efficient. Your tour is led into a gas chamber. Above you sunlight filters through narrow openings to the surface. It was through those vents pellets of Zyklon-B were dropped. At most you had 15 minutes to live. If you were lucky, the end came much quicker.

My day began at 5:00 am on a chilly Warsaw morning. A full moon illuminated a clear sky. I boarded the train to Krakow, two and half hours away.  From there it’s a one hour drive to Oświęcim, the Polish name of the village nearest the death complex. Auschwitz was the German name.

There were 4 Israelis in the van which met me. When the door opened I was greeted with a hearty “Hello Jeff” by Schlomo, the only one of the group who could speak English. On the drive there we talked about his life in southern Israel. He, a retired school teacher, his wife and another couple where on their first Holiday in Poland. They had enjoyed Krakow immensely with its resurgent Jewish quarter. Today though was not a day to be “enjoyed”. Schlomo was genuinely appreciative a gentile would take a day out of a vacation to make this trip. I was touched by sincerity, but saddened by the perception this is trip primarily for Jews. I’m not really sure why this trip was important to me, but I wanted to see this place. Search for reason. I found none.

Auschwitz was actually a complex of several camps. Auschwitz I opened in 1940 on the grounds of a Polish army training facility. The buildings are permanent brick barracks.  Upon entering the camp you pass under this sign:

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“Work will set you Free”. Every step along the way the prisoners were given hope that things were going to be better. Surely we were not brought this distance just to be killed they were to think. A quartet of Jewish musicians played soothing music as the prisoners entered the camp. Instilling false hope was one way order was maintained.

Those that were not killed immediately where put on various work details. Their reward was to be worked to death. Pictures on the walls document a fraction of the people who came to this place. The Nazis kept meticulous details, so each image had 2 dates. Arrival and death. The time between those two dates averaged less than 6 weeks.

There are rooms filled with the personal items of the prisoners – shoes, glasses, luggage, clothes, and house wares. There are whole rooms dedicated to each of these. But none is as emotionally jarring as walking into a room containing 2 tons of human hair. The hair was sheered off the prisoners and shipped to linen factories. A sample of the cloth including this hair is on display. The bales where clearly marked with the camp’s ID. The people who received these bundles knew where they came from. The two tons on display is just what was left behind when the camp was liberated by the Soviet Army.

I took a lot of pictures that day. But there were pictures I just could not take. A case of confiscated infants clothing was one of those. I looked through the viewfinder, composed the image but just could not bear to click the shutter.

The tour moves to detention blocks. Here the SS held prisoners who violated rules, or were chosen randomly for execution. Whenever someone escaped 20 prisoners were chosen for starvation. Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest, asked to trade positions with a condemned Jew. His request was granted. Kolbe was starved over the coming 2 weeks and eventually executed after taking too long to die. He was later sainted by the church.

The tour of Auschwitz 1 ends in the gas chamber. This is the only such chamber in the complex to survive. Smaller than the other 4, it’s where the Nazi’s perfected the killing process. First used on Polish and Soviet soldiers it was later converted to a bomb shelter for German Officers.  The conversion is the only reason this gas chamber and adjoining ovens still exist.

Next to the Auschwitz 1 gas chamber still stands the gallows specially built for Rudolph Höss the first commandant of the camp. After being convicted of war crimes he was brought to this place and executed. A fitting, albeit too merciful, end.

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After a short rest, we board the van for the 5 minute ride to Birkenau.

Birkenau

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The the horrors of Auschwitz 1 were only the start. In the gas chamber I had stood in, the Nazi’s developed their skills of mass extermination. Birkenau was the finished product. It is a much larger complex, with four massive gas chambers. These are only ruins now. The Nazis desperately tried to hide evidence of their monstrous crimes just ahead of the Red Army, but they failed.

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If you have seen the movie Schindler’s list you will recognize this place. It’s all there, the arch at the camp’s entrance, the tracks, and barracks. Gone are the smokestacks belching ash.

The site is massive, similar in size to a football stadium and parking lots. Most of the prisoner barracks where disassembled for wood after the war so brick chimneys are all that remain. Here the SS quickly sorted those chosen to work and those sent directly to the gas chambers. At this stop 80% of the arrivals went directly to the gas chamber.

We all know the cattle cars where packed with between 80-120 people. So cramped there was not room for sitting down or sanitation.  I had not really imagined how awful that was until I stood next to one of the train cars. These were not the modern over sized cattle cars we see on today’s container trains. Inside they were scarcely the size of the average American family room. It was one of many realities I could not have comprehended until my trip here.

The chambers at the back of the camp are ruins now, but you can still see just how much bigger they were than the one at Auschwitz I. This is where the art of industrialized murder was perfected.  Unlike a bomb dropped from 20,000 feet or a cannon fired over the horizon, this was killing on a methodical, personal scale. Killers looked into the eyes of their victims day after day after day.

During the course of the war Auschwitz contained 1.3 million prisoners. All but 200,000 of those died here. The vast majority were Jews, but there were also Russians, Poles, Gypsies and other “undesirables”. Of the 200,000 who “survived”, many where moved to other camps, so the number who actually lived through the war was much smaller. The prisoners liberated by the Soviets were those too weak to be marched west during the German retreat.

Recent snows had melted, leaving this camp soggy. By the time I left, mud coated shoes and jeans. Certainly that mud still contains traces of the ash which gently settled on these grounds seven decades ago.

During my stay here I’ve seen many solemn sites. Tombs of the Unknown in several countries, countless memorials to the war dead, and 10,000 American graves at Omaha Beach. But there, even with the sadness and misery, there was at least purpose, meaning, hope for a better future.

Here there was only madness.

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Known But To God

Today it’s a 1 hour and 50 minute train ride. In the summer of 1944 it was 80 days of war, bravery and sacrifice.

The Paris to Caen train leaves early in the morning. First thing you notice is the collapse of the language barrier. Traveling throughout Europe, the symphony of tongues you don’t understand tends to recede into the background like Muzak on an elevator. But this morning, everyone around you speaks English. Specifically, English with an American inflection. After more than a year in Europe this was an unexpected pleasure. Though people from many nations visit this cemetery annually, this is a uniquely American pilgrimage.

The flags are the first thing you see. I’ve lived in Europe for over a year now. Standing beneath two towering American flags is comforting in a manner that took me by surprise. You need that comfort as you look to the nearly 10,000 American graves before you. These are men (and 4 women) who sacrificed their lives in the months around June 6 1944. Some predating the D-Day attack for those who perished in earlier, exploratory engagements on the French coast as the Allies assessed German defenses.  Many of the graves are from June 6, others from the battle of Normandy in the two months after the D-Day landings. They all left behind parents, siblings, wives and children.  Most were less than half my age.

Each simple white marker (Crosses and Stars of David) bears a name, rank, date killed and home state. Every so often though you will come across a marker with no name.

“Here Rests In Honored Glory 
A Comrade in Arms
Known But To God”

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The American cemetery sits atop the bluffs above Omaha beach. The overlook offers a beautiful vista above the empty shoreline. It also made the perfect sniper’s nest. From that perch German soldiers rained bullets down on the young men storming the beaches that early morning.

Omaha Beach

This time of year, the colors are lowered to a recording of Taps at 4:30 in the afternoon. During that time a gathering of (mostly) Americans silently watch the process of lowering and folding of the flags. On this Fall day there were a couple hundred of us.  For those 10 minutes no one talked, few moved.

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A thoughtful walk down the central path of the cemetery will take about 10 minutes. You pass row after row of the fallen sons, daughters, husbands, fathers, friends. These people were called upon to save the world from monsterous evil. They came from peaceful cities all over America and made the ultimate sacrifice in northern France.

Like the grace of God, the unwavering love of a devoted wife, this is yet another sacrifice I am as grateful for as I am undeserving.

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“Take Me to Your Daddy’s Farm”

As the winter dragged into its 3rd month, the Moscow days were cloudy, dreary and still very short. Snow had been ground into an omnipresent sludge that is hard to get off your shoes when you get home. In the stores, tireless workers with mops try in vain to keep the floors clean. It was against this backdrop Elena invited us to spend a weekend at her family dacha (country house)  a couple of hours south of the city. Would we? You Bet!

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Like many well to do Muscovite’s, Elena’s family owns a country retreat where they can escape the crowds of the city and get some welcome fresh air. Their dacha is located just outside the historic city of Kolomna. The city boasts its own Kremlin fort and several ancient churches. We enjoyed  a weekend of sights, fresh air and good food. Most of all we enjoyed the company of our hosts.

Our Weekend Hosts
Our Weekend Hosts

The first stop was Elena’s flat to pack the car. It’s 10 stops on the Metro from our apartment.  On Friday evening the trains are packed. The desire to flee the office for the weekend is universal.

There we met Elena’s father, a retired Red Army fire control engineer who still consults for the government. There was a language barrier, but nothing that we could not be overcome with a few shots of vodka and a plate of sausage and cheese. I was done after two shots, but apparently in Russia having an even number of drinks is considered back luck, so I was obliged to have a third. He showed me his office where he kept his guitar and cactus plant. I told him in Texas he’s be a cowboy. Sergei had to stay in the city for the weekend, but he sent us on our way with a tune on the guitar. I wish I could have spent more time with him.

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Kim and our guide in Kolomna

We left the city around 8:00. Traffic is heavy that time on a Friday evening as weekenders flee the city. Frankly, traffic is almost always heavy in Moscow. In less than a generation the surge in personal car ownership has stressed the city’s infrastructure. We arrived after 11:00 at the dacha situated along a small village road. The house was built by the family over the last decade and looks like many suburban homes we are used to in the US. It had 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, a dog and better internet than I am able to get in our flat.  There is even a small steam room out back. Russians love their banya. Despite the late hour, Elena’s mother had a full table to food ready for us.

Kim and Elena
Kim and Elena

That weekend marked the end of the Russia’s Blini celebration. Blini is the lead up to lent and (optimistically) marks the harsh winter giving way to spring. Blini takes its name from the Russian word for pancake, the traditional “sun” shaped food of the festival. Russians prefer their pancakes with butter, jam, fruit and caviar. Its a different taste, but delicious.

At breakfast we met Elena’s grandmother. The 80 year old babushka is active in the garden, kitchen and steward of the banya. This woman had survived the German invasion as well as Stalin. If only my Russian were good, I could have spent all weekend listening to her talk about her life. She has seen more history than she probably cares to remember though.

The word Kremlin is Russian for fortress. Many ancient cities have their very own “Kremlin”. The Kolumna Kremlin sits on the banks of the Moscow River, just like its Moscow counterpart. Its massive walls and gates are no longer complete, but still impressive. The Kremlin also includes several ancient churches and a functioning monastery.

Ancient Churches of Kolomna
Ancient Churches of Kolomna

Back at the Dacha, Elena spent the afternoon guiding us on a walk around the village. At the end of the gravel road the dacha sits, there is a Church adorned with a statue commemorating local defenders during World War II. This country is full of such monuments. Outside the mall, at the park, in the Metro station, they are everywhere. Growing up in Dallas, most history, even American History, happened elsewhere – over there somewhere. But in Europe, even down a remote gravel road, history surrounds  you. And endless number of memorials to remember a seemingly endless amount of pain and suffering.

The Walls at the Kolomna Kremlin
The Walls at the Kolomna Kremlin

The next morning Lana invited a local masseuse for an early morning massage. This woman had hands of steel. I have never had such intense, deep tissue massage. I think she knew we were Americans.  After another blini breakfast, the remainder of the day was spent doing a little shopping in town and packing for the return home.

Kim  and our new Russian Grandmother
Kim and our new Russian Grandmother

Our weekend at the dacha has been our most enjoyable time in Russia so far. Despite language barriers and cultural differences we were warmly embraced by 4 generations of Elena’s family. The expansive, pristine winter landscape and fresh air was a welcome respite from 6 months of urban living. The company was wonderful and the food delicious.  I hope we can return to the dacha this spring or summer to see Irina’s garden in full bloom. I’ll try to pick up more of my Russian vocabulary by then.

Rome – The Eternal City

Guest column by Kim T. Martin

On a whim, I booked 4 nights in Rome during the Christmas / New Years holidays. With our daughter coming to Russia for 2 weeks, I thought the idea of getting away for a few days might be fun. It proved to be one of the best decisions we have made since arriving in Europe.

Christmas Day 2014. Kim, Jeff and Ashley in Vatican Square
Christmas Day 2014. Kim, Jeff and Ashley in Vatican Square

Ashley had been sick with a head cold shortly after arriving in Russia and being the generous person she is, she shared the germs with her parents. Jeff was about 2 days ahead of me on the sick timeline, but we were determined to play through the pain. We arrived in Rome on Christmas Eve, no thanks to the Vnukovo airport and Transaero airline. Of the 3 airports in Moscow, this is the one we will work hard to avoid in the future. With all of this working against us, you would think we would not be set up for success but Rome had different ideas.

Seeing green trees and grass on the drive from the airport was a welcome sight – something we had not seen for at least 2 months. The hotel I booked was just off a main street that ended at the Spanish steps. Due to a mistake on the part of Travelocity, upon checking in we were informed that we did not have a room reserved for the first night.  Stop and think about that  –  no room at the inn on Christmas Eve.  Fortunately the lovely people at the Hotel Manfredi did not make us hunt for a stable and they were able to make it work out.   We set out for our first amazing pasta meal and Jeff fell in love with Spaghetti Carbonara which has pancetta (bacon) rather than meatballs. Food and wine are at a different level in Rome and you have to force yourself to not worry about calories and just enjoy.

Silent Night. Christmas Eve, outside our hotel.
Silent Night. Christmas Eve, outside our hotel.

Christmas day brought the opportunity to go to the courtyard of the Vatican and receive a blessing from the Pope. Along with a throng of ~80,000 people we listened to the Pontiff condemn religious violence and highlight the plight of victims of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. Of course, it was in Italian and we had to wait until later to read the translation, but the sense of unity among the crowd was incredible to experience. It was a truly international group – flags from Mexico and Germany, words spoken in Chinese, French and of course the musical cadence of Italian. Minutes before Pope Francis appeared, the sun broke through the clouds as if God wanted to share in the celebration. Jeff and I had the opportunity to attend Mass at Notre Dame back in October and this gave us a similar feeling of being blessed.

Our view of the Pope's Christmas message.
Our view of the Pope’s Christmas message.

The architecture of the city is so wonderful. Rome has over 900 churches that date as far back as 400 AD – even small ones that are not of historical significance have some of the most beautiful murals and statues. On Saturday when were at the Coliseum we stopped at the Piazza di Santa Maria Nova and were blessed with listening to a rehearsal of music for Sunday’s Mass. The church could probably hold less than 200 people – built in the 10th century and restored in the 16th century. Not a mega church with the latest in technology but acoustics that my daughter envied.

Piazza di Santa Maria Nova
Piazza di Santa Maria Nova

One of my favorite pictures that Ashley took with her iPhone is the view of the Vatican dome. It is done through the keyhole at the Knights of Malta headquarters – it looks like a normal door, but when you peer through the keyhole you see the picture on that she took on the right. By afternoon we were told there will be a line of 20-30 people waiting their turn to take a look. keyhole4 keyhole5

We spent a significant amount of time at the Coliseum and the architectural ruins that are next to it. Knowing that they would occasionally flood the stadium and stage mock sea battles is mind blowing. Image trying to do that at an NFL or college stadium – I don’t think Jerry Jones would approve that one.

coll6 We had to leave on Sunday to get back to Moscow and allow Ashley to catch her flight back to Chicago, realizing that we will have to make another trip here. There is so much to see that we could spend a month and enjoy every day.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the people of Rome. They are wonderfully pleasant with a quick smile and willingness to help even if you do not speak Italian. You feel embraced by the warmth of the people and their desire to share this amazing city with you. Paris was terrific, but for me, Rome kept a piece of my heart.

Scenes From a Russian Mall

By now most of you have begun putting away the tree and storing the decorations for next year. Here in Moscow though, Christmas is still a week away. Believe me, this country needs all the holiday spirit it can get. We spent a couple of hours at the mall yesterday and Christmas standards still filled the air. American Christmas standards.

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Christmas Tree at the Metropolis Mall in Moscow.

If you were not looking closely its easy to forget where you are. You can  browse for slacks at the Dockers store, jeans at the Gap, and pick up shoes at Timber Land. Later you can meet your daughter at the Shake Shack (a New York based Burger joint) when she finishes up at H&M . All of this with Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” in the background. The spell is broken as soon as you ask an clerk for help.  Most of the people here can not understand you, Bing or any of any of the music they have been listening to for a month.

Outside the fantasy world of the mall, things are different. Up and down the street Muscovites queue up in front of numerous money exchange stores to trade their unstable Rubles in for Dollars and Euros. Others are flocking to car dealerships and Ikea stores to buy western goods while they still can. The Ruble is about half the value against these currencies it was last New Year’s Day. When your major exports are oil (also half the price it was a year ago) and stack-able Matryoshka dolls your economy is in trouble and the people are suffering.

Sign of the times. Reminders of the falling Ruble are everywhere.
Sign of the times. Reminders of the falling Ruble are everywhere.

A couple of days ago Vladimir Putin to took to the airwaves to warn his citizens of the probability of a bad 2015. But he had a culprit. The West’s sanctions against Russia are the blame. In particular the United States. Sure, the oil slide has hurt, but the imperialist sanctions are the root cause of the current calamity. The message seems to be taking, for now, Putin’s public support stands at 80%. Twenty-sixteen will be better he said. I get the feeling “things will be better…. next year” has been the refrain in this county for more than a century.

I’ve seen stories of a backlash against America here, but have not seen it yet, save for the 2 month closure of a nearby McDonald’s due to “technical reasons”. The McDonald’s has since reopened. Moreover, within walking distance of our apartment are 6 American themed diners where I can sit next to a Betty Boop statue, watch Happy Days on the TV and have a burger and fries. They may hate us, but they love our culture.

This is the paradox of the the current Russian psyche. Hate America, love our movies, music, television and clothes.  If you are a mall shopper this week, you spend your rubles at Victoria’s Secret, eating at KFC and listening to music you don’t understand. An odd holiday season indeed.

Giving Thanks

This is the most sought after document on the planet….

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….And its every American’s birthright. If you have one of these, you are the envy of much of the world. You have won the geographic lottery.  You have much to be thankful for.  I know this today more than I could have realized just a few months ago.

Happy Thanksgiving from Moscow, or as the Russians call it – Thursday. Tonight, after Kim returns from work, we will enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner at the Starlight Diner. Its a local eatery which caters to American Expats by serving up a turkey and dressing dinner for the modest sum of 1000 rubles (about $22).  If I can keep myself awake I’ll catch the Cowboys at midnight Moscow time.

I miss my family and friends this Thanksgiving, but I have a better appreciation of the place I will return too.  I have taken for granted the unique greatness of our nation far too often. America has been a blessing to me, my family and the entire world. Without the United States the last century would have played out much differently. History would have been much darker.  We are imperfect, but we strive to be better and make the world a better place..

Enjoy your day. Have a second helping of dressing, don’t fight with your cantankerous uncle and watch some football. But find a quiet moment to sit back and be mindful of all the blessings this nation has afforded us all.

Dr. Trainlove (or How I Learned to Stop Fearing and Love the Metro)

Imagine a dictatorship, which prevented you from having a nice car, collapsed allowing you to access to a personal vehicle for the first time ever (if you could afford it). Now imagine the same situation applies to all 14 million of your neighbors. Welcome to Moscow. Traffic here is a kashmar (nightmare)!

We have decided forego a personal automobile. Something this Texas boy never thought possible. So now we live the Metro Life. If it aint walking distance from a Metro station, its not worth going to.  I don’t have to worry about arguing out a traffic accident with a Russian speaker and Moscow cop. We’ve used Taxis a couple of times, but given the traffic they are slow and expensive.

The Moscow Metro is a spider web of rails that blankets the city. Many stations predate WWII. During rush hour packed trains run every 90 seconds. Evenings and weekends you are never more than a few minutes from the next train.

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Last weekend we want to catch a showing of “Interstellar” in English with Russian subtitles. A quick address look up to find the nearest Metro station and route the trip.  Two train changes and a 15 minute walk later we are walking into the theater.

Would this work in the states? Certain cities it already does. But like here it works only in those places where the trains preceded wide spread car ownership. Cities like New York and Chicago. But Dallas’ growth occurred afterward. It will be difficult, if not impossible to retrofit late 20th century cities with a 19th century transportation system.

But for this year, at least, we take the train.

And the Wall Came Tumbling Down

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The Berlin Wall went up on a quite Sunday morning in 1961, the year I was born. It was literally a concrete symbol of the Cold War which dominated the lives of anyone born before 1970. If you are over 50 try to explain the Cold War to someone under 30. Good luck.

The wall came down in 1989 as I held my newborn son in my arms.  His life’s experiences would be quite different from mine.  The “Evil Empire” was coming to an end. Things would be better. Of course, on that day two relatively new 111 story sky scrapers in Manhattan were well past the halfway point of their existence. There are always adversaries.

Today, I’m watching CNN’s coverage of the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse from my comfortable Moscow apartment, just blocks from Red Square. I could never have seen this coming. You never can predict where life will take you or what tomorrow will bring.

Sad News

by Kim Martin

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When we embarked on this adventure, we knew that with all the opportunities, we would also incur some costs.  There were obvious ones –  no longer having Sunday night dinner as a family, hugs would have to be given via Skype or Facetime and not being back for significant family events.  Some of these events were planned and anticipated  –  A Paul McCartney concert we missed which turned into a wedding present for Mom and Terry, whose nuptials occurred  just days ago, for example.

And then there are the ones we hoped would not happen – a family funeral.  The world lost a wonderful man – my Uncle JH.  At 96 years old he lived a rich life – rich in the things that matter.  A wife and partner of 56 years, who gave him a twinkle in his eye when he spoke of her.  Four successful, loving children that made sure he always had company for any meal.  Grandchildren, Great grandchildren and even a 5th generation of Taylors.

John Houston was born in 1917 –  5 years before my own father.  He was the 8th of 9 children who grew up struggling to have the most basic things we take for granted.  We encouraged him to tell us the stories if his childhood – working at a grocery store in the morning before school and again after school.  Through all the years he rarely told the same story twice, but he would laugh at some of the things he tried to get away with in his younger days.  Sadly, with his passing all of the 9 siblings are gone – but a legacy continues.

The bridge next to home bore his name.
The bridge next to his home bears his name.

Last February, Jeff and I made a weekend trip to Alabama to see family.  The prior weekend had been Uncle JH’s birthday and we wanted to have some time with him.  As we sat in his house chatting, I had my back to the front window.  Before long, a car pulled up  –  it was my cousin Bobby.  He saw a blonde head in the window and wanted to investigate who was at his Granddaddy’s house.  I do not think a visit ever happened without some family members stopping by to check on him.  We quickly realized we never needed to call and let people know we were coming – just show up at Uncle JH’s and we would see plenty of family.  Such was the nature of the people that loved this man and the love he inspired.

From our last Visti
February 2014

Jeff and I have discussed the interesting nature of aging.  When a man passes away in his 30s, the church is packed.  Our heart breaks for the opportunity lost and life not fully realized.  If he is in his 60s, we think about how young 60 is today with modern medicine and an active lifestyle. Again, the loss is felt, but with a degree of understanding.  Often by the time that man is in his 90s, there are few friends and family left to mourn his passing.  He has simply outlived friends and loved ones.  As with many things, Uncle JH had to buck that trend.  Despite not being able to attend, accounts from family members tell me that the church was packed with close and extended family members, as well as friends from Church and life.  Our trips to Alabama will no longer include setting aside several hours to visit with him and take him out to lunch.  He will be missed.

С Днем Рождения меня

(Happy Birthday To Me)

Today I celebrated my first birthday in Moscow. If all goes according to plan it will be my only Russian birthday, but you know how plans go. A year ago I never would have guessed this is how I would be celebrating this day.  I have a great group of friends who sent well wishes as well as Alex and Ashley Skyping me.

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(Moscow’s birthday was last month)

This past week was dominated by the arrival of our stuff from the States. We now have more than a week’s supply of underware. As this adventure has progressed each step made the adventure seem more real.  Leaving our home for the last time (assuming it is sold before we return), Arriving at the Moscow airport with no return ticket. Moving into our apartment on Tveskaya Avenue. But eating off the same dishes we used in McKinney is the final nail in the “this is real” coffin. Our life, for now, is in Moscow. This is where we live.

I have not go nearly as much done in the 7 weeks we have been here. What’s new. I’m not sure the arrival of my PlayStation will help that situation.  I spent a lot of the weekend setting up the ability to watch American TV. All it takes is a PS4 + Windows Connection Sharing + Connectivity Connection Management Software + VPN sofware + Yota Broadband + Hulu  and you too can watch last weeks “Castle” from the comfort of your Moscow apartment. Its a taste of home and I no longer have to depend on the limited English choices on Russian Satellite TV.