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Second Advent 2003
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Motes Marine Institute recently reported about 570 Loggerhead turtles having laid their eggs this year on our Casey Key beach two to three feet deep into the sand. This means that after 7 weeks about 50,000 turtle babies were hatching in their subterranean nests trying to excavate themselves and run quickly to the Gulf of Mexico water to avoid predators. Dietmar participated "life" in the show while he was walking his dog Milou every sunrise and sunset. Not only is the huge number impressive, but also the entire process from nesting to birth. A few days before hatching one can observe a sand grove over the nest and after hatching a zillion of tiny tracks are all over the place leading down the beach to the water.

That was in July at an average temperature of 28C. Now, however, it is quite different and temperatures sank to 8ºC this morning and our biggest concern now has to do with the bananas in our garden - the green ones - that may not ripen to maturity.

Also in our family a new baby entered the world. We became proud grandparents of Syrah Morgaine, Anna's and John's little daughter. Initially she had planned to come on June 16th as a birthday present for Dietmar. Eventually, however, she came after prolonged labor - of course - on June 17th weighting 4 Kg and measuring 52 cm. There was a lot of joy in Charlottes-ville, Sarasota und Nokomis. For Annemarei the birth was a masterpiece in a series of decisive and important events in 2003: She has made the life contract with the outstanding John. Both went to Rome in their honeymoon to explore roman history and art in general and the forum romanum and palatinum in particular. In June Annemarei completed her residency in neurology at the University of Virginia and mastered graduation hullabaloo. In August she commenced with the fellowship in neuro-physiology including encephalography and at the same time she interviewed with five neurologists in Atlanta where they want to move next year. On top of this she took care of her little daughter and restarted to work. John quit his job in Charlottesville with a law publishing company and now takes care of house and child until next year when he will resume his studies in philosophy at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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Our year started with the happy announcement of the baby and also with the first of many welcome visitors. Dietmar's mother stayed until January 15th and Heidi's mother visited us in August for 6 weeks. Both enjoyed the sun, the dark blue skies, the turquoise waters of the Gulf and the beautiful sandy beach. We are happy that both old ladies are in such good shape and tolerate the transatlantic voyage well. End of January we drove to Charlottesville to celebrate Anna's 30th birthday. At the occasion we got a glimpse of John's parents Gloria and Marvin Ranta from Lexington Park in Maryland. The Rantas are 2. Generation Fins and it seems that they have preserved some of their Nordic calm mentality; quite different from someone of Italian descent! We hope to get to know them much better when they are visiting us coming February.

Rosemary, Heidi's cousin from London visited us with her husband George in March. Rosemary indicated that she always felt like Heidi's big sister and our relation was therefore quite affectionate and uncomplicated. George contributed to the anecdotes of Pacific Breeze (The name of our house): While sailing with Dietmar's 16 ft Sidewinder he did not want to wear a life jacket and only after boat capsized George while clinging to the mast admitted that his swimming capabilities were marginal at best. Fortunately some observant motor boaters came quickly to rescue him and Dietmar had to re-erect the boat and sail to the landing-place alone. After those the good times and adventures with Rosemary and George there was bad news. In September Rosemary passed away after a short course of pulmonary cancer. The news struck us with disbelief. We are very sad. All of our feelings are with George.

Our Wedding anniversary brought about a decisive change in our daily life: The little droll wirehair terrier Milou, born on January 30th joined our family and made us adjust to new daily rhythms. She insists on hikes to the beach every morning and evening, where she chases everything that moves including the thrown baton. After that exercise a mandatory swim in our pool follows where she chases the thermometer, balls, and plastic ducks alike, brings these items to us and demands that we throw them again to start the game all over again. Milou is a source on constant joy and pleasure for us.

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The Farthtman's, dear old friends, visited us in March and we often remember the interesting stimulation discussion with them at our poolside deck. Reinhold, Liane and their son Martin, old friends from Milwaukee spent the week before Easter with us. They live now in San Diego, just in the area of this year's autumn wildfire that did not spare them. Shell and content of their house burned and melted within one hour. They just had 15 minutes from fire alarm to leave and hunted by panic they were not able to even take with them their most important documents. Now they have to restart from scratch. We are happy that they decided to spend this year's Christmas together with us in our home.

 From May to June we traveled to Europe to enjoy hiking in beautiful Hunsrück mountains with Walter and Uschi, to visit Graz, Europe's designated cultural capital for 2003, and to attend this years SIS-E meeting in Como, Italy. The diamond museum in the diamond processing town of Ida Oberstein is truly a Hunsrück jewel and harbors an impressive collection of precious stones and gems. Günter and Brigitte took care of us in their beautiful house in Graz. We enjoyed their hospitality tremendously and also the discussions. Art was all over the place, and we enjoyed the private tour through an astounding and well maintained armory of Graz. We are so thankful that Brigitte has arranged the tour that was guided by the director of the museum, who was extremely knowledgeable and quite a resource for infor-mation about the time when those people protected Europe from Islam during the Turkish offensive. Graz's armory is supposedly the world largest. {short description of image} Brigitte and Günter took us also to Lazarus (see picture) where you drink fresh wine (Heuriger) with Styrian bred and butter, meet and sausages, and where we had quite a view to picturesque Styria country. Don and Diane our friends from Milwaukee who also live part time in their house in Venice, happened to visit Europe at the same time and met us in Graz to become beneficiaries of Brigitte and Günter's hospitality too. Later we had an opportunity to visit Styria country in more detail and were impressed by Hundertwasser's architectural excess in Bad Blumau where all houses are like anything you have seen before, shine in brilliant colors, and are totally integrated into the landscape. Styria is beautiful and we also visited relatives of Dietmar's grandfather in Bad Gleichenberg and Straten close to the Hungarian/Slovenian border to Austria. The countryside is very picturesque, the relatives are very friendly and were good hosts and we were impressed by the open mindedness of them and particularly of the younger generation. We hope that our children will get an opportunity to meet them and share our wonderful experience. Pont dur Gard   We left Graz towards Como driving from east to west thought the alpine mountain valleys. This trip should become an unforgettable experience of majestic beauty. On our way we passed Araba in the Dolomiti Mountains to sleep in the Hotel Posta, where we used to spent many ski vacations when we still lived in Hamburg. We were surprised that nothing has changed in the past 20 years. Como itself with the steep mountains descending straight into the huge lake comes forward to be unreal strange beauty. We enjoyed meeting old friends at the SIS-E meeting, and to talk, eat, and drink with them Italian wines in the nice venue of the meeting at Lago di Como.

Back from Europe, we found our garden overgrown with weed and before we were able to remove the weed, we had to travel to Charlottesville for Annemarei's graduation. Shortly after our return from Charlottesville Gunilla und Per-Olof from Linköping visited us. PO surprised Heidi revealing that he would like to do the shopping and cooking argueing that cooking was his hobby for which he normally had too little time. Heidi was pleased to surrender the kitchen to PO and we enjoyed in subsequent days many gourmet meals with various cocktails and lots of good wine. In spite of these culinary pleasures there was still enough time for PO and Dietmar to write an editorial for the British Journal of Surgery about the nonsense of excessive double gloving to protect surgeons from viral infections.

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In July our house was also blessed with visitors. Our friend Helge, Heidi's old teacher colleague from Hamburg came to enjoy the sun, the Gulf and the pool. Nils, Dietmar's nephew, showed up for a short visit and finally Tom und Helena our good friends from Milwaukee, had time to come for a long weekend for the first time. With Helge we had lots of political discussion and we tried to understand why the Germans did not want to participate in terminating Sadam's despotism. We tried to digest our experience during our recent visit to Germany because we felt an astonishing hostility as if we were favoring wars personally. Clearly the media on both sides of the Atlantic had reported quite differently about Iraq to satisfy the prejudices of their listeners respectively. Dietmar thinks that the Germans with their special history cannot ever argue against termination of a dictatorship. By supporting persistence of despotism in Iraq they sanctioned the despotism of Germany's 3rd empire after the fact. Helge and also Walter had quite different opinions. We were speechless.

In August Anna John and Syrah visited us and we saw our grandchild for the first time. A super baby from super parents! We enjoyed the time with them. We met them a second time in Atlanta in September where we went with Heidi's mother and were they travelled to explore their future home city and where Annemarei interviewed to find a suitable neurologist to work with. Heidi's mother enjoyed holding her greatd-grandchild in her arms.

October turned out to be a month without visitors and we freed our garden from weed with partial success and di do all kind of housekeeping.

{short description of image}    In November we traveled again to Europe visiting Dörrebach, Maussane les Alpilles in Povence, Hamburg und Linköping. In Maussane Dietmar has visited with his old friends Hugues und Andrée and they have chatted about old times in Guénange while drinking wine from a neighbor's vineyard. Hugues und Andrée did build a fascinating and an architecturally appealing house in Provence style that is surrounded by a huge beautiful garden of exotic flowers and trees and a little creek that feeds the watering system and the fountain to the pool. Hugues and Dietmar went to many well known places in close vicinity like the unique historical village of Les Baux de Provence,., the aqueduct of Pont du Gard, the huge Roman amphitheater of Arles that is still used, and the beautiful villages and cathedrals around the Luberon mountains, and last but not least the village of Saint Remy where Vincent van Gogh, while in St. Paul hospital, had his most productive period painting famous pictures like "the irises", "starry night", "olive grove in the evening", and "La siesta", etc. Like in old "Scout-de-France" times Hugues and Dietmar went hiking in the small mountains surrounding Maussane where they also explored "naturally occurring" Roman aqueducts. All this was quite an experience to be repeated. A very dissimilar experience but not less appealing in a different way was the time with Gunilla and PO in Linköping and the lake country in southern Sweden where they acquired a little riverfront cottage with cozy tiles stoves and a tandem outhouse, of course. After all PO is a colo-rectal surgeon.

{short description of image}  Back in Florida we celebrated Thanksgiving, the most important American holiday, with Mark und Lisa in their house. It is nice to see the girls growing. Fritzi is a very active synchronized swimmer, training 5 hours per week. Meike starts talking full sentences and does not care too much about being understood. Sabine speaks the most uninhibited German of the three girls but is no longer sure if she wants to become an Olympic ski jumper. Besides, the entire family spent their vacation in North Germany from Goslar to Büsum. In the picture you see them in the Watt a typical muddy flat shore belt of the north sea. There is of course much more to recount about them. Maybe they will generate their own Christmas letter, We will include all of our Christmas letter since we went to USA on our website www.Colonna.net If you want to read some of it the Username and the Password are two terms well know to insiders.

 Meanwhile our house scents christmas cookies from the Gingerbread house the three girls have put together with their Oma. Well, our 2003 Christmas letter became quite voluminous. Sorry for that.
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Nevertheless we whish you a
Happy Christmas and a GOOD YEAR 2004.
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Wow! How quickly time passes!

Heidi & Dietmar