Project 52 – Week 39, Part One – Scotland and More

It’s time for Project 52, Week 39!

2003_11_27 4 Eklunds

39 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 39 — June 14, 2003, to June 14, 2004. I have now come 3/4 of the way through my life! Though I’m afraid I think of the year I was 39 as the last year of innocence. If I’d known how hard my 40s would be….

When I was 38, we made our final move during our ten years in Germany and moved to Sembach Village. Jade (then called Josh) started high school, and we extended one more year in Germany — so that we could extend three more years this year and finish our time in Germany when Josh graduated from high school.

According to my journal, the summer began with the new Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Instead of going somewhere to get it at midnight, Steve got a copy on Saturday morning (June 21) at the Sembach Shopette, and our family read the first chapter together (Steve reading aloud) during my lunch break. We continued our tradition of reading it aloud at bedtime, but were holding more marathon reading sessions than we had before.

The next week, Josh got their first job! It was a student job at the Bowling Center. Josh learned to cook food and take orders and set up bowling lanes. It was a six-week program, and they still got to go on vacation with us and go to Ireland for three weeks later in the summer.

Also that week, Steve found out he made Master Sergeant! It was the lowest percentage promoted in six years — which they had published in advance, so Steve didn’t think he had a chance. Of course, he didn’t actually get the promotion for a year (which is an honor — the order’s by seniority). But he was happy about the increased responsibility.

Then the week of July 8 to 15, we vacationed in Scotland! Another wonderful UK trip. Now we’d visited England, Ireland and Scotland. (Some day, I very much want to go to Wales!) We touched castles 144 to 148: Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Urquhart Castle, Duart Castle, and Kilchurn Castle. My favorite of those was Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. I’ll now include some Scottish pictures.

The first day, we went to Stirling Castle. (Had I mentioned that Timmy got glasses?)

2003_07_08 1 Stirling Castle

2003_07_08 2 Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle had an incredible view.

2003_07_08 3 Stirling View

2003_07_08 4 Stirling Castle

2003_07_08 5 Stirling

2003_07_08 6 Stirling View

2003_07_08 7 Timmy Lookout

2003_07_08 8 Josh Throne

2003_07_08 9 Us Throne

2003_07_08 10 Stirling

Here are my Three Wise Monkeys:

2003_07_08 11 Wise Monkeys

Here’s the village of Culross, where we stayed in a B&B:

2003_07_08 12 Culross

The next day, we went to Edinburgh.

2003_07_09 1 Edinburgh

2003_07_09 2 Edinburgh

2003_07_09 3 Edinburgh

2003_07_09 4 Edinburgh

And that evening we rambled up the hill and through the lanes to Culross Abbey.

2003_07_09 5 Culross

2003_07_09 6 Culross

2003_07_09 7 Culross

2003_07_09 8 Culross

2003_07_09 9 Culross

2003_07_09 10 Culross

2003_07_09 11 Culross

2003_07_09 12 Culross

2003_07_09 13 Culross

2003_07_09 14 Culross

Genuine Scottish thistles!

2003_07_09 100 Thistles

The next day we headed north and stopped at the Scottish Crannog Centre, where we learned about prehistoric life in Scotland.

2003_07_10 1 Crannog

2003_07_10 2 Crannog

2003_07_10 3 Crannog

2003_07_10 4 Crannog

2003_07_10 5 Crannog

We arrived that night in Loch Ness! We had time to throw some rocks into the lake.

2003_07_10 6 Loch Ness

2003_07_10 7 Loch Ness

2003_07_10 8 Loch Ness

2003_07_10 9 Loch Ness

In the morning, we took a Nessie-hunting boat tour of Loch Ness. (So beautiful!)

2003_07_11 1 Loch Ness

2003_07_11 2 Loch Ness

2003_07_11 3 Loch Ness

2003_07_11 4 Loch Ness

2003_07_11 5 Loch Ness

2003_07_11 6 Loch Ness

2003_07_11 7 Loch Ness

And what do you know?!! We found Nessie!

2003_07_11 100 Nessie

And in the afternoon, we visited Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.

2003_07_11 8 Urquhart

2003_07_11 9 Urquhart

2003_07_11 10 Urquhart

2003_07_11 11 Urquhart

2003_07_11 12 Urquhart

2003_07_11 13 Urquhart

2003_07_11 14 Urquhart

2003_07_11 15 Urquhart

2003_07_11 16 Urquhart

2003_07_11 17 Urquhart

Our next adventure was a ferry to the Isle of Mull, where we spent a night.

2003_07_12 1 Ferry

2003_07_12 2 Ferry

2003_07_12 3 Ferry

And of course our first stop on Mull was Duart Castle.

2003_07_12 4 Duart Castle

More Thistles there!

2003_07_12 5 Thistles

2003_07_12 6 Duart

2003_07_12 7 Duart

2003_07_12 8 Mull

Here’s what I wrote about our drive to our hotel, the Argyll Arms:

Then Steve drove an hour on the one-lane road to our hotel. The Isle of Mull is an amazing landscape. Tall mountains of dark green tower on either side of you, completely empty of any sign of human existence.

2003_07_12 9 Mull

2003_07_12 10 Mull

2003_07_12 11 Thistle

One thing I remember about the Argyll Arms was a truly awesome breakfast. (Though they are always good in the U.K.)

We also wandered along the bay in front of the hotel.

2003_07_12 12 Bay

2003_07_12 13 Bay

The next day we took a ferry to Iona Island, and from there a boat to Staffa Island, which has basalt columns just like the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.

2003_07_13 1 Boat

2003_07_13 2 Staff

2003_07_13 3 Staffa

2003_07_13 4 Staffa

There’s Fingal’s Cave, which we got to go inside.

2003_07_13 5 Staffa

2003_07_13 6 Staffa

2003_07_13 7 Staffa

2003_07_13 8 Staffa

2003_07_13 9 Fingal's Cave

2003_07_13 10 Fingal's Cave

Watching the water go in and out of Fingal’s Cave was impressive.

2003_07_13 11 Fingal's Cave

2003_07_13 12 Staffa

Then on top of the island, it’s a huge grassy area. The rest ran to go see some puffins we were told about, but I was worried about meeting the boat.

2003_07_13 13 Staffa

2003_07_13 14 Staffa

2003_07_13 15 Staffa

2003_07_13 16 Staffa

2003_07_13 17 Staffa

2003_07_13 18 Staffa

2003_07_13 19 Staffa

2003_07_13 20 Staffa

2003_07_13 21 Staffa

2003_07_13 22 Staffa

2003_07_13 23 Staffa

After Staffa, we wandered around Iona for a bit.

2003_07_13 24 Iona

2003_07_13 25 Iona

2003_07_13 26 Iona

2003_07_13 27 Iona

2003_07_13 28 Iona

2003_07_13 29 Iona

2003_07_13 30 Iona

2003_07_13 31 Iona

At a small museum on Iona:

2003_07_13 32 Tim Monk

2003_07_13 33 Josh Monk

And back on Mull that night by the Argyll Arms.

2003_07_13 34 Argyll

2003_07_13 35 Mull

Poor Timmy got super sunburned that day!

2003_07_13 36 Sunburn

But we had a wonderful sunset from our hotel window.

2003_07_13 37 Mull

2003_07_13 38 Mull

The next day we took the ferry back to mainland Scotland.

2003_07_14 1 Ferry

2003_07_14 2 Ferry

2003_07_14 3 Ferry

We headed south that day and stopped at Kilchurn Castle.

2003_07_14 4 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 5 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 6 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 7 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 8 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 9 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 10 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 11 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 12 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 13 Kilchurn

2003_07_14 14 Kilchurn

And then another stop on the bonny, bonny shores of Loch Lomond. (We’d gotten a CD of Scottish songs to play in our rental car.)

2003_07_14 15 Loch Lomond

2003_07_14 16 Loch Lomond

2003_07_14 17 Loch Lomond

Our final B&B was at Largs, near Glasgow, but even nearer to the beach.

2003_07_14 18 Largs

2003_07_14 19 Largs

2003_07_14 20 Largs

2003_07_14 21 Largs

So that was our Scottish vacation. A truly lovely week!

When we got back, Josh headed to Ireland for one more summer session at Dublin City University’s Centre for Talented Youth. (I think they did Scriptwriting that year.)

We had lots of flowers in our yard at Sembach, flowers I didn’t plant but thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll insert some flower pictures here and there.

2003_07_29 1 Sembach

And Timmy turned 9 years old on July 29! We gave him the usual choice between a birthday party and a trip to an amusement park with a friend. And he chose — to stay home! He wanted to play the video games he presumed he’d get. And had a great time doing so! As well as a Bionicle board game.

2003_07_29 4 Timmy

2003_07_29 5 Birthday

2003_07_29 6 Birthday

2003_07_29 7 Birthday

2003_07_29 8 Birthday

The rest of my life, I was still working at the Sembach Base Library, still loving it. By now I worked with a third band wife, Pat King, after Jeanine and Robin had moved on. Elfriede was still there. But now my boss was Rochelle, after Jeff and Mary had moved on.

2003_07_29 3 Timmy at Library

I was still writing Sonderbooks, now posting it as a website, still as a zine with issues. I posted Sonderbooks #59 on Timmy’s birthday. I had taken a writing course in the Spring, which had given me an idea for a second children’s novel, which I was working hard to find time to write.

And alas — looking at it now, I see that my marriage was really hurting. I didn’t know it then. Yes, I write frequently in my journal about “lack of harmony” between me and Steve. And I was worried that he’d drink every night. But I also mention that I’m thankful that “we” are committed to our marriage. I had promised my kids we’d never get divorced, and I believed that Steve wouldn’t ever do that. When we did have disagreements or tension, I’d think we’d worked them out. I write many times in my journals how thankful I am that my husband loves me. I may have been trying to convince myself — but I succeeded.

It bothers me going through these pictures, that in most of the ones I took of Steve, he’s scowling at me. I liked to take his picture because I loved to look at him. But he didn’t want me to. At one point he told me he didn’t want to remember these times. (Sondy, how much clearer could he get?) I also notice that he didn’t ever seem to take my picture…. Sigh.

But Steve also traveled a lot. That summer we had record-breaking heat, getting up past 100 degrees. The only time that happened while we lived in Germany. And Steve was in Finland, where it was in the 70s!

We didn’t have air conditioning anywhere — normally it wasn’t necessary. So we kept our Rolladen (thick metal blinds) closed and huddled in our house.

But on one of the hottest days of the year, I met my Aunt Linda, who was visiting in Germany, at Heidelberg Castle with Timmy. (Josh was in Ireland.) It was a bit amusing, because we’d also been to Heidelberg on our coldest day in Germany, right when we first moved there.

2003_08_04 1 Heidelberg

2003_08_04 2 Heidelberg

2003_08_04 3 Linda

2003_08_04 4 Heidelberg

Then at the end of August, after Josh got back, we did something a little crazy: We tried out the Barefoot Path!

The website billed it as a 3 and a half kilometer foot massage. In practice? Ouch! The mud and water were bone-numbing cold. The sand was blazing hot. The grass might have felt good, but now it was dried up and prickly. And there were an overabundance of sharp little rocks. The best parts were crossing the Nahe River. It’s water was lovely, cool, and clear, and you could see little fish swimming past your feet. There was a suspension bridge on the way back with nice smooth footing.

2003_08_23 1 Barefoot Path

2003_08_23 2 Barefoot Path

2003_08_23 3 Barefoot Path

2003_08_23 4 Barefoot Path

2003_08_23 5 Barefoot Path

2003_08_23 6 Barefoot Path

On the way back, we stopped at a Cloister Ruin from a monastery built in 1108, Disibodenberg. Since it was fortified, I decided to count it as Castle #149.

2003_08_23 7 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 8 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 9 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 10 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 11 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 12 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 13 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 14 Disibodenberg

2003_08_23 15 Disibodenberg

And look! Look! September 2003 was when I began designing my Prime Factorization Sweater! Here I am working out what colors to use for which numbers.

2003_09_06 PF Yarn

And in September, my sister Wendy came to visit! Wendy had moved to Bremen with her husband Roger. She came south to visit us! We took her to the Rhein River, and visited Castle #150, Burg Stolzenfels (“Castle Proud Rock”). (You can always find a new castle to visit on the Rhein River!)

2003_09_13 1 Wendy

2003_09_13 2 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 3 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 4 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 5 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 6 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 7 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 8 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 9 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 10 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 11 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 12 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 13 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 14 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 15 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 16 Stolzenfels

2003_09_13 17 Stolzenfels

And then the next day, I took Wendy into Kaiserslautern and we toured the Kaiserpfalz.

2003_09_14 1 Kaiserpfalz

2003_09_14 2 Kaiserpfalz

2003_09_14 3 Kaiserpfalz

2003_09_14 4 Kaiserpfalz

2003_09_14 5 Kaiserslautern

2003_09_14 6 Kaiserslautern

But after that, my journal talks about how good it is to have Steve back after lots of trips and NCO Academy. He took me to an opera in Kaiserslautern, and it was so nice to be with him. I was happy I understood the German übertiteln, too. Then the next day, we walked in the woods together near Sembach and discovered a secret tunnel-like path completely arched over with branches.

Oh and school had started. Timmy was in 4th grade and Josh in 10th grade.

And then in October, I took the train and visited Wendy in Bremen!

2003_10_11 1 Bremen

2003_10_11 2 Bremen

2003_10_11 3 Bremen

2003_10_11 4 Bremen

2003_10_11 5 Bremen

A couple of rare photos of our living room at Sembach.

2003_10_13 1 Sembach

2003_10_13 2 Sembach

For Halloween, we talked Timmy into trying Josh’s old phone costume.

2003_10_31 1 Timmy

Josh tried something else.

2003_10_31 2 Josh

We took a November hike on the Donnersberg.

2003_11_08 1 Hike Donnersberg

2003_11_08 2 Donnersberg

2003_11_08 3 Donnersberg

2003_11_08 4 Donnersberg

2003_11_08 5 Donnersberg

And there’s Burg Falkenstein!

2003_11_08 6 Falkenstein

2003_11_08 7 Falkenstein

I have an interesting note on that page about the kids’ teacher conferences. Timothy made the Gold Honor Roll. Then there was this:

Josh’s lowest grade was a C in Honors English. I was all set to be upset about it, but when I went to the conference, the teacher raved about how great Josh is. She said he’s the most popular person in class! He wowed them first when reciting a Shakespearean sonnet, then completely won their hearts reciting a Shakespearean sonnet of his own. The class voted on five people to represent them, and Josh got 23 votes out of 25! The next highest was 13! So I wasn’t left with much to scold Josh about. He needs to do his homework! That was the problem in all the classes with grades below A’s.

For Thanksgiving, the whole family visited Wendy in Bremen!

2003_11_27 1 Bremen

There was a Christmas Market going on in the main square.

2003_11_27 2 Christmasmarkt

2003_11_27 3 Bremen

2003_11_27 5 Bremen

Unfortunately, I had a headache the whole time we were there. I was also trying a new migraine preventative, Zoloft — which years later worked beautifully for me — but that time was awful and made me tense and agitated.

But then came December — and it was time for our trip to America, courtesy of the Air Force, when Steve signed up for 3 more years in Germany – to finish when Josh graduated from high school.

We went first to Phoenix, where Aunt Kay was visiting.

2003_12_21 1 Aunt Kay

2003_12_21 2 Phoenix

Stephanie and her family were there, too!

2003_12_21 3 Phoenix

2003_12_21 4 Phoenix

2003_12_21 5 Phoenix

2003_12_25 1 Phoenix

2003_12_25 2 Phoenix

2003_12_25 3 Phoenix

Here’s the whole Eklund Family!

2003_12_25 4 Eklund Family

They took us to the Science Center.

2003_12_27 1 Challenger Center

2003_12_27 2 Science Center

We drove to California, to Becky’s house in Encinitas, in time for my Dad’s birthday on the 28th.

2003_12_28 1 Frieses

2003_12_28 2 Dad's Birthday

2003_12_28 3 Frieses

And of course we had to go to the beach!

2003_12_29 1 Beach

2003_12_29 2 Beach

Tim demonstrated his pigeon-feeding technique.

2003_12_29 3 Pigeons

2003_12_29 4 Pigeons

Watch Kristen’s face change!

2003_12_29 5 Pigeons

2003_12_29 6 Pigeons

2003_12_29 7 Kristen

We went pedalboating on Mission Bay

2003_12_30 1 Mission Bay

2003_12_30 2 Mission Bay

2003_12_30 3 Mission Bay

2003_12_30 4 Mission Bay

And that was the Christmas of Dance Dance Revolution.

2003_12_31 DDR

Next, we went north to L.A., where my Dad got us a hotel room in Redondo Beach right on the water near his workplace.

2004_01_01 1 Portefino

And we went to Ruth’s! And so did Jennifer and Darlene!

2004_01_02 1 Ruth's

By now there were a lot of kids!

2004_01_02 2 Kids

Here’s a fun picture. The other boy is Carl John, Jennifer’s son, the same age as Tim.

2004_01_02 3 Tim and Carl John

I’d brought my Prime Factorization Sweater on this trip. My family thought it was very cool. But Carl John’s the one who, when I showed it to him, said, “That’s just weird!”

I had to admit he had a point!

We visited my brother Rick and his wife Pam in their apartment on Palos Verdes.

2004_01_03 1 Palos Verdes

2004_01_03 2 Rick

2004_01_03 3 Beach

2004_01_03 4 Beach

2004_01_03 5 Palos Verdes

2004_01_03 6 Palos Verdes

I don’t know when I’ve seen Catalina Island so clearly.

2004_01_03 7 Palos Verdes

In fact, it was our 17th wedding anniversary that day, so Rick and Pam kept our kids while Steve and I went out to dinner.

Darlene and Matt came to see us in Redondo Beach, now with little Ryan.

2004_01_06 1 LeVaults

2004_01_06 Me and Dar

2004_01_06 3 Me and Ryan

Later, Games at the Hatch House:

2004_01_07 1 Hatch House

2004_01_07 2 Hatch House

2004_01_07 3 Hatch House

(That’s Melanie, Abby, Marcy, Nathan, Peter, Ron, and Robert.)

2004_01_07 4 Hatch House

On the way back to Encinitas, we stopped at the San Juan Capistrano Mission, where the swallows return every year on Josh’s birthday.

2004_01_07 5 SJ Mission

2004_01_07 6 SJC Mission

2004_01_07 7 SJC Mission

2004_01_07 8 SJC Mission

2004_01_07 9 SJC Mission

And more DDR before we went back to Phoenix.

2004_01_08 1 DDR

In Phoenix, Gram E and Gramp E took us to the Wildlife Zoo.

2004_01_11 1 Phoenix Zoo

2004_01_11 2 Zoo

2004_01_11 3 Zoo

Gramp E took Timmy to the park to shoot off some rockets and try his new scooter!

2004_01_12 1 Rockets

2004_01_12 2 Rockets

2004_01_12 3 Rockets

2004_01_12 4 Rockets

2004_01_12 5 Scooter

Okay, I’m going to have to stop there and call this Part One. I thought, because I had a snow day, that I could take my time and include all the pictures I wanted to. Oops! It’s already midnight, so I need to stop! There are 10 photo CDs left for the year I was 39. I’m going to have to try to be more concise when I post Part Two!

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