pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: August 2012

31 August 2012

Bastogne


Bastogne, Belgium
9 July 2012

The siege of Bastogne was a part of World War II's larger Battle of the Bulge.

For a lot of people of my generation, World War II holds a terrible fascination. It was our parents' war, and their stories--of combat, of privation, of concentration camps--colored our childhood, even as the Vietnam War played out in the backdrop of our own lives.

As I took classes in the history of the 1960s trying to comprehend the decade into which I was born, I also took classes in the history of World War II in the hopes of better understanding the time in which my parents' generation lived. Truth is, dry facts and figures, newsreels and newspapers only give the basics: a battle was fought here; people died; buildings fell. And where war is concerned, I'm not sure there is any understanding.

Like me, the spouse is fascinated (think carefully on the connotation and denotation of that word) with World War II. We come at it from two different directions, however. My father and uncle served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Amphitheater, my uncle saved from certain death at Pearl Harbor by the happenstance of going to early Mass that morning. The spouse is 1/2 German. His grandfather, a German country doctor, died of TB contracted treating troops on the Eastern Front. His mother and aunts tell stories of bombs dropping and fleeing the advancing Russian army.

It was thus that we visited Bastogne. There is a monument, a huge monument, to all the troops who met there. I wandered away from our group and I looked. I listened to the air, the sounds that came from the quarry, the distant lowing of cows and the cries of birds, the sussuration of cars on the highway. I thought about all I'd read about that area, first person accounts and dry history. I thought about the movies and the TV shows that had tried to depict what went on there.

You can watch documentaries; you can watch recreations. You can read all you want. You can stand on the same soil.

There is no understanding.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40 from the top of the Mardasson Memorial.

30 August 2012

Dormitory


Washington, D.C.
25 August 2012

You could plop this building right down in any one of the college campuses I've visited or attended, and it would fit right in. The interior isn't much different either. Mercifully, the days I lived in a dormitory were brief in number.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

07 August 2012

From a hotel window: Luxembourg


Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
8 July 2012

It's likely there are few people out there who would just say, "Let's go to Luxembourg!" But I knew we'd be near Luxembourg, so it seemed it would be a shame to miss it.

(Also, it was one of those country names that I loved as a child. It just conjures up...something.)

Anyway, once I said it, it became a thing and everyone wanted to go to Luxembourg.

So we did.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

03 August 2012

Where the streets go everywhere


Paris, France
7 July 2012

A glorious and maddening truth of travel: expectation and reality have an amazing tendency toward head-on collision. I couldn't tell you what exactly my expectation of Paris was, but it didn't involve lovely broad avenues with little streets that shoot off in all directions. Even I, she of the unerring sense of direction, found navigation a bit daunting.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. And rain? It poured.

02 August 2012

For real


Tour Eiffel
Paris, France
7 July 2012

When I was...eight? nine?...I received a Viewmaster for Christmas with a reel that showed great monuments of the world. Naturally, the Eiffel Tower was one of the featured photos. So it became one of those icons that is so iconic it almost ceases to exist in real life.

And then...there it is.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. I hate to admit that I don't remember which lens--I never write any of this stuff down, more fool me--but I think it was the standard one.