Friday, February 29, 2008

Mission: Retreat, relax and rejuvenate....

Full speed ahead has been my motto for the last eight months. I plunged into numerous projects which I love, however the pace has been dizzying. I mention this only to explain to you how exhausted I feel and how I need a break before I transition (read as leap) into my next endeavor. Here is a short list:
  • I wrote, edited and illustrated a coloring book.
  • I organized, edited and published the commemorative anniversary book Thirty Years in the Desert for our local historical society and led the chapter celebration event.
  • I promoted a coloring contest to celebrate the publication of Maggie Visits Grandpa.
  • I assisted many friends and historians with their projects.
  • And, did exceptionally well at my day job

Now, I need a little bit of time for just me. And, my two wonderful daughters. This weekend, courtesy of a marvelous award from my company, we will enjoy an unpredecented getaway. The unlimited tennis weekend at The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa in Carefree, Arizona has a reservation in our name. Isn't Carefree the perfect name of the spot to experience this? Family memories will be made and cherished for a lifetime this weekend. Here are simply a few of the highlights:

  • Luxurious casita accommodations.
  • Unlimited tennis on the five premier cushions and three classic clay courts.
  • Complimentary access to the award-winning Golden Door Spa, including fitness facility, adult pool, steam rooms and Niwa pool.
  • Click on the title of this blog entry and you will disocver more.

So, I will be away from computers, cell phones, lan lines and demands on my time. Only the urgency of a walk through a labyrinth maze, a meal of organic, Arizona grown food, and perhaps a massage of choice at the spa will beckon me. Retreat, relax and rejuvenate. That is my mission this weekend. Did I mention the clay tennis courts? If I meet up to Rafael Nadal, I may never come back.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Anniversaries are so worth celebrating....

Anniversaries. Whatever your opinion of the event, anniversaries are life's opportunity to pause, ponder and revel in the essence of our life.

I experienced such an opportunity with seventy Germans from Russia yesterday. The Arizona Sun Chapter celebrated its 30 year anniversary at the Black Forest Mill Inn in Phoenix, Arizona. Sauerbraten, Jaeger schnitzel and black forest torte abundantly dressed our tables as did the new publication Thirty Years in the Desert, a compilation of our member's family stories.

The celebration was sparked with comraderie and joy in our common heritage. The Arizona Sun Chapter's second President, Lewis R. Marquardt, Ph.D., and his wife, Dona Reeves-Marquardt graced us with their wit and wisdom.
Lew was born and raised in North Dakota, the eldest son of a German-Russian father and an Irish mother; his paternal grandparents migrated to the Dakota Territories in 1888. Lew grew up among Black Sea Germans and spent his early years teaching instrumental music in South Dakota, and Interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities at Arizona State University at Tempe. After the death of his first wife in 1984, he married Dona. Lew and Dona have traveled extensively in Germany, France and Europe seeking ancestral villages, art museums and the phenomenon of foreign culture. Lewis a Charter member and a Life member of AHSGR, as well as a Life Member of GRHS.
Dona Reeves-Marquardt, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, is Professor Emerita at Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, where she taught German language and literature many years. Primarily of Volga-German ancestry, she has published articles on the language, history and culture of Germans from Russia. Dona has translated major works in that area, including Peter Sinner’s Germans in the Land of the Volga and Gottlieb Beratz’ The German Colonies on the Lower Volga with LaVern Ripley and Leona Pfeifer. Her grandparents immigrated in 1876 from Volga villages to Russell county, KS. She was a Fulbright scholar at Johannes Gutenberg Universit├Ąt in Mainz, Germany and has studied and traveled extensively in Germany, to her ancestral villages.

Lew reminisced about the early beginnings of the Arizona Sun Chapter. While only a few founding members like Joe Schwan are with us, we honored their memory and their service to the chapter. Then, he and Dona compared the differences between Black Seas Germans and Volga Germans. To the uninitiated, it may seem odd to have subsets exist within the unique Germans from Russia, however Lew and Dona compared, contrasted and demonstrated clearly that despite the differences, there are many more similarities.

Bonding, learning and sharing. Lew and Dona inspired the next generation at our anniversary event. And, isn't that what tracking our family history is all about?