Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Top Ten Blog Updates of 2008.... continued

OK, the countdown is on! Here are the rest of my top ten favorite blog updates from 2008

Favorite Update #4
Out of the Blue from August 31 The book Zemaitis Family History by my cousin, James Zemaitis Smith, was a treasure chest of information about the Herzog & Reimer families. What a delightful surprise! Many thanks to Jim for organzing the documents and pictures of our family and providing me with two more photographs of my great-grandfather, Phillip Reimer, and my grandparents, Fredy and Sophie Reimer Herzog.

Favorite Update #3
3) Final Day in Casper from August 2...
My trip to Casper, Wyoming for the the AHSGR and GRHS combined convention created many memorable events
a) the sing-a-long with Ray Weinberger (also see Dec. 24 update of Merry Christmas Eve...I'm already missing you)
b) Time spent with Art Flegel
c) Time spent with Maxine & Ron Fiman and Cleon & Anita Davis who share Mariental as their ancestral village

Favorite Update #2
2) Anniversaries are so worth celebrating from February 10
The Arizona Sun Chapter of AHSGR celebrated its Thirty Year Anniversary in style at the Black Forest Mill in February. As our honored guests, Dona Reeves Marquardt and Lew Marquardt entertained us and helped us to remember the humble beginnings of the chapter.

Favorite Update #1
1) Argentina Argentina Argentina...which date is my favorite?
There isn't an update on Argentina that wasn't a favorite so to celebrate my trip, here are a couple of videos. First, Armando Heim talks with a group of fellow travelers in Hinojo.

Second, in Gualeguaychu, Dodie and Tim talk with the German Russian owner of a men's clothing store.

And, as I have said before, there is still more to document on the Argentina connection.

So, what does 2009 hold in store for us? Here are my resolutions...
*more family history stories,
*more updates about Argentina and my new South American friends
*and my ongoing commitment to document my family history on this blog.

I wish each and everyone of you a very healthy and Happy New Year in 2009!

My Top Ten Blog Updates of 2008....

OK, everyone has a list at this time of year...the best song, album, movie, and so on. I believe it is wise to reflect on the year because it is a good way to rejuvenate the memories. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment as we close our another year of our lives. L

My TOP TEN list compiles my Top Ten Favorite Value Meals on the Volga Blog Updates of 2008. I'll start the countdown by publishing six today and will finish with the final four tomorrow. After all ten are posted, let me know your thoughts...did I miss one of your favorites?

Favorite Update #10

10) Mission Accomplished from Sat. March 8...My getaway weekend to The Boulders was the perfect way to recharge my batteries...I didn't go far, but the beautiful views and clay tennis courts took me a million miles away.

Favorite Update #9

9) In Mourning from Sat. September 27...My celebration of the life of Paul Newman...my family's memories of a great man summarized in one compilation.

Favorite Update #8
8) Miller Park and Memories from May 4...A visit to Milwaukee is not complete with the Milwaukee Brewers, my sister-in-law Lorie and a brat and beer. I have proven, you can go home again.

Favorite Update #7
7) Another Terrific Thursday from October 25...I love tennis so meeting Billie Jean King with my daughter was an extra special event. And, I heard one of my favorite quotes of the year..."The more you know about history, the more you know about yourself."

Favorite Update #6
6) Have you turned in your coloring contest entry yet? from January 7...This was final call for entries for a coloring contest to celebrate the new book Maggie Visits Grandpa. The coloring adventure continues to be a great way to get the next generation involved in family history.

Favorite Update #5
5) Terrific Thursday from October 16...OK, it wasn't all sports this year, but how could I not include meeting sports icon Joe Garagiola in my top ten? He made me laugh so hard I cried.

Final four will be posted tomorrow and, yes, I will write and post more photographs about Argentina. So much more to come in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

III Congreso Nacional Alemanes del Volga

It's been over a month since our visit to Coronel Suarez and our presentation at the Congreso. It was a great day and I met some fabulous people.

The people at the Congreso celebrated our German heritage in song, dance and food.

One of the speakers, Nestor Baier wanted to meet people from Kansas so I introduced him to Harry and Marge.

My three new friends, Sophie, Haffner and Agustina.

Judy, Jerry and Jan review the settler lists in the library.

Everyone toured the booths and I purchased the Jakob Riffel book in Spanish as incentive for me to learn the Spanish. So, Spanish for Dummies, here I come!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad...Froehliche Weihnachten...Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all! I hope your day is beautiful, peaceful and filled with everyone you love! My day has just begun...but the television set in the family room has been set to The Christmas Story since last night. This tradition was started by my daughters years ago and they laugh at the story even when the volume is off. Of course, I remember the first time I saw the movie in the theater with my Dad and how he loved the Ovaltine decoder and the shoot your eye out stories best.

I know I will make delectable food, have fabulous wine and enjoy my day. I send you best wishes and hope you enjoy Christmas in whichever way you choose to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve...I already miss you

I love Christmas and the holidays and the time away from work and the feeling of relaxation I get during this time each year. It is these moments I cherish the most.

Yet, today I received some sad news. If you have read this blog for some time, you may remember my Private Caller update of December 8, 2007. Ray Weinberger, the instigator of that call, passed away on December 16.

Ray and I talked on the phone a couple of times over the past year. Ray had a phenomenal memory and he remembered so many poignant facts of my family's history that he became an instant friend. I loved talking to Ray because he would ask questions and share more information in one brief discussion than others can do in years of conversations.

I met Ray at the AHSGR/GRHS combined convention this past summer in Casper, Wyoming. In person, he talked just as fast and was as energetic and as lively as a person could be. He shared with me his picture of his class from Trinity Lutheran school in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. My Uncle Fred was in the photograph and Ray made sure I could identify both of them before he would point out either of the two to me.

We attended the afternoon sing-a-long and truly enjoyed the camaraderie of the group. There is nothing like singing in German to build a bond with someone.

Not that I needed something to build a bond with Ray. He was one of those people you got to know quickly. And, he knew so much about my past that I felt he understood me, too.

Ray's wife, Ginny, sent me a copy of his service's program. The information truly captured the essence of Ray's life, so here is an excerpt from it.

Ray Weinberger, 79, of Arvada, Colo. died on December 16, 2008.
He was born, the second son to immigrant parents, Sophie and
Gottlieb Weinberger in Sheboygan, Wis.
He attended Central High School in Sheboygan, Wis., and served in
the US Army from 1951-53. He met Virginia J. Suscha and they
married in 1956. He worked as a traveling salesman for 25 years and
at one time covered eight states in the Western U.S.
A member of the German-Russian Society, Ray was very proud of his
German heritage and enjoyed attending society meetings in various
locations. He was a member of the Arion Gesangsverein choir and
never tired of trying to get people to sing just one more round of ‘Ein
Prosit der Gem├╝tlichkeit.’ He loved to dance and had a glamorous
partner in Ginny.
Above all, Ray loved to talk, discuss, convince, disagree, argue,
provoke and even taunt. Agreeing to disagree was not an option and
he never felt like a conversation was completely finished until he
convinced the other person to see things his way. He had a broad
vocabulary, rich with out-dated words, sayings and ‘Ray-isms’ that
were as colorful as his own character. He loved to question people
and things. Asking a probing question, one that no one else had
thought of asking, gave him a world of satisfaction.
He loved foreigners, foreign cultures and old Europe. He inspired a
sense of adventure in his children and encouraged them to travel and
know the world.
As a depression era survivor, Ray loved bargains. Shopping
entertained him and he loved finding a good deal, or better yet,
getting something for free. He routinely drove across town to save 10
cents a pound on bananas.

While I only knew Ray for a short time, he had a great impact on my life. He filled in gaps in my family history and for that I will always be grateful. As I begin this holiday season today, it begins with a hole in my heart. I already miss you and because of that, I will cherish every moment more than ever.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Vino, Cervasa y Comida in Argentina...

The Packers and Bears are duking it out on Monday Night Football. Do I prefer the Vikings or the Bears in the playoffs? Machs nicht. I guess I would just like to see another Packer victory but I'm just glad I can watch the game from the warmth of my couch in Arizona. However, I digress. Food and fun in Argentina is the topic for today.

After work today, I was on a mission to find Quilmes, an Argentine beer. Quilmes brewery was founded in 1888 in Quilmes, Buenos Aires Province, by Otto Bemberg, a German immigrant. You may have noticed its appearance in a few of my pictures. Unfortunately, I did not find it at World Market or AJs. Instead I found more Malbec wine (Urban and Luna Rosa), some great stollen, cookies and fabulous coffee. Is it possible Quilmes is not sold in Arizona? I need to do more research. More on that next time. Today I want to cover water, portions and potential cousins.

Ordering water in Argentina is not as simple as requesting bottled or tap. One needs to order water "sin gas" or "con gas." Yes, you know the difference even if it is in Spanish. I preferred sin gas.

Many times the portions of food we received were incredible. The two pictures below show typical offerings of meat and fries. This huge feast was from a dinner in Olavarria.

I particularly enjoyed the restaurants with a strong German Russian connection. In Parana, we ate at Juan Denning's restaurant, El Viejo Marino. The generous portions were unbelievable. Juan was pleased to have us at his restaurant and he certainly knew his fish.

Juan spoke better English than I spoke Spanish. His ancestors lived in Marienthal, Russia before migrating to Argentina. Both of our ancestors lived in the small village of Marienthal. Could we possibly be distant cousins? From everything I have discovered about my ancestry, the small German Russian villages, and the courtship rituals, I think it would be incredibly unusual for us to not be related.

So, I won't promise not to share more about vino, cervasa y comida...but I believe I covered most of it. Except if someone has a picture of the roadside restaurant during our overnight bus trip to Iguazu....stay tuned.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vino, Cervasa y Comida in Argentina...Continued

When we visited the German Russian villages, our hosts offered us a great array of food. Here is one of my favorites.

I know this plate looks odd but that is because I enjoyed the food so much I ate most of it before I took a picture. This food tasted exactly like the stuffing my mother made every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had never seen nor tasted any food similar to her stuffing so I was surprised to find this flavor in the village of San Jose, one of the three villages in Coronel Suarez.

I also enjoyed the potatoes in the above photo because it is just like the potatoes my family made in broda. For the broda recipe, check out my blog update from October 2007.

The food in San Jose was excellent as was the company. Here are a few pictures of the group.

Our visit to San Jose was just one of the events on our last Saturday in Argentina. More to come tomorrow.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vino, Cervasa y Comida in Argentina

I have more and more stories to share about Argentina. While Judy and I gave our presentation to the local Chapter yesterday, I still have more stories to share about my journey.

Today I want to remember the fabulous wine, beer and food. Now you would think it would be relatively easy to eat in a country like Argentina which is famous for its beef and ice cream. Yes, it would be easy, except I don't eat red meat or dairy products and my Spanish was not so good.

So, I carried a note and shared it with my waiters and waitresses. It read, "No karne, no quesa, no leche." Below it I wrote, "Ok pollo, pes y pasta." Sometimes this worked amazingly well. Other times I was a bit hungry. However, everything I ate was fabulous. And the wine and beer was tremendous as these pictures testify.

While I did not eat the beef, I ate some of the best chicken I have ever had. One of the best meals we had was during our overnight bus ride to Iguazu. An accident sent us on a detour, and we ended up at a roadside restaurant. We had some trepidations, but the chicken I ate was outstanding.

Most of these pictures are from meals in Buenos Aires, Rosario, Iguazu Falls and Gualeguaychu. More to come tomorrow when I share some of the meals we shared with our fellow Argentine Germans from Russia.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Arizona meets Argentina...

The Arizona Sun Chapter met today for the annual Christmas meeting at the East Mesa Christian Church. Judy Gareis and I shared the story of our journey to Argentina.

Judy and I shared also filled table with memoriabilia from our trip...yerba mate cups, pictures from the tango show, books about Germans from Russia in Spanish, and much more.

We laughed as we talked about the overnight bus trips, the humidity of Iguazu Falls, and the many Germans from Russia we met. From the Entre Rios colonias of Brasilera, Valle Maria, Protestante, to the asociacion in Gualeguaychu to the Buenos Aires Colonias near Olavarria including San Miguel, Hinojo, and Coronel Suarez (Santa Maria
Santa Trinidad, and San Jose).

Herb Babitzke ran our raffle and raised over $200 for our organization. We installed our new officers and are ready for a new year. But, most of all, we shared stories and updates of friends.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Argentina...San Ignacio Misiones

While I've been back in the United States for a couple of weeks, my memories of Argentina become more and more poignant. Today I found a way to extend my trip.

December 6th is the feast of St. Nicholas. I know eveyrone is familiar with St. Patrick's Day, but my German family always acknowledged the feast day of St. Nick. As a child we put stockings between the front door and storm door on Dec. 5th, the eve of the feast day. When we awoke on the 6th, we ran to the door and our stockings were filled with candy, oranges, and small trinkets. We loved this day.

I continued this tradition with my children and today was no exception. I awoke and St. Nick left me a copy of the movie, The Mission.

You may not remember this 1986 film which starred Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons and received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. The storyline includes Jesuit missionaries and the glorious Iguazu Falls. I saw the movie in 1986, but have not watched it since that time. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091530/. It was a daunting and powerful movie, it left an enormous impressions yet some of the details blur.

After we left Iguazu Falls in Argentina, we stopped at the Wanda Mines and, on the same day, Le Misiones San Ignacio.

As the sun set, we toured the grounds and were quickly transported back in time. We learned the importance of the bells ringing at the mission and viewed the ruins in their peaceful quiet space.

The entire group gathered for one of our best photo opps.

There were so many other wonderful scenes...here are just a few samples.

As I start to watch the movie, I am again in awe of Iguazu Falls. The visit can never be far from my mind when I know I have these views from La Misiones.