Thanks

On Thanksgiving Day, just as any other day, there are many things that I am thankful for.

But one group of people that I am most thankful for are my brothers and sisters downrange, spending time away from their families.

Sure, they chose to be there.

But they chose to be there so that their families would be safe at home.

So that complete strangers would be safe at home.

Strangers that are free to protest anything that moves.

Because that’s they’re right.

A right protected by a few.

Those brothers and sisters are their protection.

But those brothers and sisters need protection wherever they are.

They get it through training and preparedness.

But all of that won’t protect them from everything.

But these bits of concrete help.

I swear that if I never saw another t-wall, as they are called, it would be too soon.

But if asked to serve again, to serve my brothers and sisters, I will.

Knowing that these walls help protect me.

T-Walls

Goddess and I won’t be partaking in too many Thanksgiving Day activities, instead choosing to push them to Saturday so dear friends can participate.

But we will spend the day thinking of those brothers and sisters whom we are thankful for.

Serendipity

That’s exactly what happened here.

I loved the lines and saw the perfect portal with which to frame the far merlon.  Everything lined up perfectly and I was happy.

I had no idea there was a flock of pigeons sitting there.

But something spooked them.

And this picture is so much better for it.

Flight

Castelvecchio, Verona, Italy.

Column Eye

Within the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany.

Lovely details in the lamp and columns.  But the best part was Goddess’ description of the gaggle of high school aged kids who were all staring at me, trying to figure out what was so interesting.

Guess they’ll never know.

Mauer Path

Cobblestones marking the location of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Berliner Mauer

The Berliner Mauer is the German name for the Berlin Wall.

Quite a lot of history and quite a lot of emotion associated with that name.

Goddess and I made our first (of what will likely be several) trips to Berlin last weekend.  We had a long weekend, so we took advantage of the Intercity Express (ICE) trains, which are high speed, but thanks to connections and stops, still take about the same amount of time to get there.

But I’m fairly certain that the law frowns on me enjoying a beer while driving.  So we let the conductor do the driving.  But not really for that reason, although it is a nice reason.  We chose the train because when Goddess and I see a city, we see a city.

Mainly on foot.

Down back alleys.

Off the beaten path.

For 12-15 hours each day.

And that gets exhausting.  So throw a 5-6 hour drive on top of that and it’s almost too much.  So the train saves the day.

I’ve already started posting images from our trip and there will be plenty more to come.  In the three full days of canvassing the city, I shot “only” about 300 images, which is not much compared to previous trips.  By comparison, a three day trip to Kyoto, Japan was worth about 1,200 images.

Of course, not all are keepers.  But in both cases, I still came out with quite a few.

Mostly black and white.

Because that’s how I saw the city.

And if not black and white, the colors were very muted.  It must have been the cold, cloudy German winter days that helped generate that mood.  But I’m certain that the history had something to do with that too.

Here’s a four-shot image of the view out our very modern hotel room.  The stitching is sloppy, mainly thanks to the very wide 10mm lens.  But I’m sure I can get the point across.

If you look closely, you’ll see a brown line.  It’s actually a line of cobblestones, two wide.  And the line traces the route of the Berlin Wall.

Coming from the west, right down the middle of the street, before turning south into a field.

Berliner Mauer

So as I hung out the window and looked, I couldn’t help but think about what it was like 22+ years ago.

Our hotel was on what would have been on the East Berlin side, the apartment complex directly across would have been in the West Berlin sector.

So I was explaining to Goddess the image that I remember seeing as a kid, one where the father was holding up his very young baby in a window across the wall so that Grandmother, looking through a window and visible only as a silhouette, could see her grandchild.  It was likely the closest they ever got.

I sure wish I could find that image.  It’s not in Life Magazine’s archive.

But this one is in their archive and it captures the mood that I felt when leaning out the window into the cold winter air, watching the small snowflakes get whipped around in the wind.

Could you imagine living like that?

Be grateful for what you have.