Farewell Dear Friend


Our dear friend Abbi left this world Sunday after a brief battle with cancer. A loving dog until the end, she left us visit her on Saturday and share our love. Her human did the courageous thing and called Angel’s Paws (http://angelspaws.com) to help her transition to a new world. Today, she and Char went down to collect Abbi’s remains and bring her home.

We took dogs out of the wild and turned them to our purpose. We owe them our care. And they have given us so much more than our ancestors ever could have imagined: unquestioning love and the chance to show our love and humanity.

Good bye dear friend.

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Barbarians Live

Taking non-Sunni women as sex slaves, murdering POWs, beheading hostages. What’s a few books to these savages?

Read Sinan’s article. I am amazed that anyone in Mosul would talk to him. When are we going to get serious about these guys?

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Are you interested in Richard III and his world?

Vascik's Blog

This past summer/fall, I took a MOOC (mass open online course) on the Age of Richard III taught by Deirdre O’Sullivan of Leicester University. It was an absolutely marvelous experience.

Yesterday I received a letter from Deirdre informing me that she and her team will be offering the course again this semester, beginning February 16. The high point of the course will be the reinterment of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral. She will be present at the ceremony and will post interviews with the Dean of the Cathedral and others involved in the finding and identification of Richard’s remains. I have marked the date of our family Google calendar; my wife and I will be watching.

If you are at all interested in the Plantagenets, the War of the Roses, and the Tudors, you will love this course!

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Until the next time!



I am so fortunate. Thank you.

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A very enjoyable time in Berlin

My days in Berlin follow a regular pattern. Huge Frühstück; long walk; museum; small lunch; more walking, museums and bookstores; a half chicken for supper; a long final stroll capped off by a large cafe latte at the corner Starbucks. I consumed twice my normal calories, but regularly burnt off 2000 walking. So I just had to have that piece of Kuchen!

Framing each day was Hotel-Pension Funk, an absolute jewel of a place. In the 1920s, Fasanenstrasse 69 was the home of Asta Nielsen, a great silent film star. The entire flat has been lovingly restored. For a historian, it is as nectar to a bee. We have been staying there for 19 years, always taking a Room 12, pictured below. I hope that there will be a celebratory 20th anniversary visit next year.


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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood


A beautiful, crisp Sunday in Berlin. My goals were in the morning to visit the Bröhan Art Deco museum near Schloss Charlottenburg then go the the German History museum in the PM.  That was the plan.

Then across from the palace I saw a towering apartment block with two huge crosses stop it. What’s going on? Once I saw it was not some cult, I waked into the St. Camillus Church. Take a look at the home page, http://sankt-kamillus-gemeinde.de to see what it looks like. Mass was just finishing up; I lit my votive candles. The priest introduced himself to me and we had a nice talk. He explained that above the church was the Camillian Brothers monastery, a senior home, and a rooftop garden. Really pleasant and a complete surprise.

Exhausted myself with museums and a long stroll the the used book flea market next to the GHM. 14 hours after I started out, back at my hotel glazing in the window of the high end rare book auction house across the street. How is a person supposed to find time to sleep?

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This calls for a celebration!


What I thought would be quick and probably fruitless visit to the Stadtarchiv in Leer turned out to be neither. Yes, they had a newspaper source that filled a huge gap in my data. More importantly, they have a pile of material that will require a longer visit. Oh shame!

On the walk back to the station, I stopped at a quality used book store and dropped €150 on local history books. More fun!

What to do after all that. The East Fresians drink tea and the largest supplier of ostfriesische Schwartztee is Bunting. I walked past their headquarters and new “tourist center” (pictured below) on the way to the archive. So to celebrate I had an East Fresian tea device (it’s a complete ritual) complimented with a Texas-sized piece is Apple pastry. Heaven!


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A Dismal Day or why so many Germans left for America

Big plans for the archives today. I learned only last week that the publisher that puts out the Ostfriesischer Kurier has bound volumes of their old newspapers. This is great! The papers have never been microfilmed and are held in only archive )that on the island of Norderney).

The OK, published in Norden, was generally sympathetic to the Conservatives in the pre-WWI years- a real rarity in the East Fresian media landscape. I have been searching for these papers for years because they offer a perspective on politics and politicians that I lack.

Great, so the papers are all stored at the firm’s corporate office in an industrial park 1 1/2 miles from the train station. So, bring too cheap for a taxi, I hoof it. In the mist, which soon turns to rain, sometimes light, sometimes hard. By the time I got to my destination, my shoes and slacks were soaked. And I learned why peasants wear Loren, as the water brushed right off my coat. Yup, if I had to farm in this weather, I would head to Ohio too.

Anyway, reading the papers was fun. Also making copies was a snap with my iPhone camera. I have attached a sample below.

Work done (for now), it was back into the rain for the Death March back to the train station, but through a more scenic neighborhood this time. First thought: what’s a 60 year old doing traipsing around like this? Second thought: damn the people in this subdivision have beautiful gardens. Aunt Joanie would fit right in! All in all, a dismal day with real progress on the book manuscript.


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An East Fresian friend likes to tell how the wind off the North Sea is sometimes so trying the rain comes down sideways and you can barely walk into it. Just like this morning on the way to the Landesbibliothek. Didn’t last all day of course. When I stepped out for lunch it was coming straight down and when I looked out the window in the afternoon, it had all changed to snow!

I have pictured below the library. It started life as the headquarters for the Oldenburg army, and then was a divisional barracks and a police HQ. It has a beautiful interior to match the facade, an excellent computerized catalogue, and helpful staff who are kind to this American.

Spent a wonderful day reading through newspapers from the 1920s. The binding s immaculate and the paper is still in good shape. They don’t seem to have ever been microfilmed, so I hope that they last another 100 years.


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Nochmals Bonn

A good flight over and back in Bonn for the day and night. I couldn’t check into my hotel until noon, so I wandered. Well, not quite wandered since I always start and end at the same place. (See picture below.)

The sextons were taking done the manger and carrying out all the fir trees. It must have been magnificent. I remember their crèche, which is beautiful beyond description.

The crypt was still filled with the smoke of incense and a few people were adoring the host in an ornate monstrance. A new “icon” of St. JP2 is on the wall. I would have taken a picture but I wanted to respect the space. Contradictory given the picture above, but …

A long walk through beautiful neighborhoods near the university culminated with this discovery: (See second picture below.)

Yes, a gummi bear souvenir store. Too bad it wasn’t a Kinder surprise store, right Anne.

A bittersweet visit, as it was too quick to do all the things I love to do in my rheinisches Heimat.



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