Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

December 2007


This past year we received many wonderful letters from friends for which we are very grateful. Each of those letters, of course, required an individual answer and it was our plan do to so. The last three month, however, got a bit hectic and so we are here today, on the third of Advent, having not sufficient time left to write individual answers. Instead, we are providing a short report of our year 2007. For those of you who may be interested seeing more details we recommend to enter our website at www.Wittmann.US using our daughter’s short name as user name and password.

2007 started with the departure of our daughter with family of four heading half around the world to New Zealand where she joint the staff of Palmerston North Hospital as neurologist. Anna and John planed to stay for one or maybe even two years. When they all came back last month to spend Thanksgiving with us their philosophy had changed, however, and we would not be astonished if they stayed in NZ for a much longer period. If you are interested, you may read John’s well written essay about their lives in New Zealand at our above mentioned webpage.

In March Dietmar met a cruise enthusiast on the beach who infected him with cruise fever and so Dietmar googled cruises on the internet and found quite an attractive offer departing the following week from Tampa for the Western Caribbean. That was the perfect anniversary present for Heidi, and before we knew it, we were on the huge cruise ship Miracle visiting the Cayman Islands, Belize, Cozumel und Costa Maya. The world of Maya opened a bit and we were fascinated by their culture and scientific skills. Most of the remnants of the Maya culture remain to be excavated and we will intensify our knowledge.

In Springtime Dietmar’s mother came with Nils, his nephew, and during Easter Heidi’s grand cousin Joanne from England and her two sons joined the crowd. We had a lot of fun at home and on the “intracoastal waterway” using Pam and Jim Wheatman’s motor boat. Pam and Jim are local friends. They also own and breed wire hair terriers. We are happy that the location Casey Key in Florida attracts our family members and helps us maintaining a closer relation with friends.

In May we traveled to Germany mainly because Dietmar was invited to deliver the Key Note address for the 20ts Anniversary of “his” Surgical Infections Society. The event turned out to happen in quite a honorable and important historical building - the Römer in Frankfurt, the city hall where coronation banquets for German Emperors happened  for several centuries and where all 52 Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire are depicted.

After Frankfurt we drove to Hagen in Westfahlen to visit Hans and Hilke, old friends of Dietmar’s residency time. Hans became later Chief of Surgery at the Hagen City Hospital. They have never been in the US and we decided that they should come and they came later in October to visit our island Casey Key and the many of Florida‘s West Coast  attractions  such as the Ringling museum with its new Circus Museum, Selby Garden, Snook Haven within the Myakka River Jungle were the original Tarzan movies were filmed, Siesta Key with its white powder Sand,  and much more . They enjoyed being here and we had the most wonderful time together re-intensifying our old friendship.

The picturesque middle age town of Wolfhagen near Kassel was our next stop on our way to the Baltic Sea.  Dietmar’s Cousin Bernward lives there ‘surrounded’ by his three grown up children and their grandchildren. Heidi was glad meeting him and his wife Christa and having actually sufficient time to talk and to get to know them better and sharing their good attitude and opinions about things that matter.

We postponed our plans to visit Berlin and Schloss Sanssouci in Potzdam for a future visit and went through Mecklenburg, a part of Germany that we did not know. We were quite impressed about picturesque countryside with many lakes and alleys.  It was a very sunny day ending in a wonderful sunset over the fascinating landscape of the brackish Bodden separating the Fischland-Darß-Zingst  peninsula from mainland. Heidi’s artist friend Uschi lives in Darß during summer time and showed us the beautiful and picturesque area between the mainland and the Baltic Sea, a quasi northern mirror of our Keys between Gulf and Florida mainland.  Like our home country the Darss is breeding place for many birds and other protected wild life.

The last segment of our East German trip led us to the Hanseatic cities of Stralsund, Wismar and Schwerin with their huge red Brick Gothic churches. The last time we visited Stralsund in 1972 the cathedral was still not repaired from heavy war damages. The enormous bell laid shattered on the floor of the tower with nobody of the socialistic East Germany even thinking of doing something about it.  Now the Church has been perfectly restored. When I asked, however, somebody about the fate of the shattered bell, there was denial and it took us quite long discussion to have the person admit that the bell had been neglected for about 30 years. Germans have done a marvelous job restoring these old cities including in Wismar’s huge cathedrals.  The Castle in Schwerin with its golden roofs did glow and shine in the summer sun like an ancient jewel.

Back in Hamburg we had good discussion with old friends some of them we haven’t seen for over 20 years. Our main purpose to visit Hamburg, however, was to be with our aging mothers (89 and 93). We were glad that they are doing well.

In August Dietmar’s sister Lilliane and her husband visited after they have spent some time in Silicon Valley where their son has a position with Ariba the winning cyberspace company that enables organizations to optimize their Spend Management processes and supplier relationships. Quite clear – inst’ it. 

The Nature Printing Society is becoming a new focus in our life; mainly for Heidi of course as you may draw from looking at the card wrapping this letter that Heidi created and printed. They had their Annual Meeting in Bar Harbor in Maine and we went in August. On our way we visited our neighbors and dear friends Arthur and Barbara who live in summertime in Gloucester near Boston.  Barbara and Arthur were wonderful hosts and we were quite impressed by the beauty of the Atlantic coast, the little fisherman towns and little Italy in Boston and of course the rich history and art of New England.

Driving north along the rocky coast on Highway 1 introduced us to the beauty of this part of the country and eventually we reached the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor in Maine with Granite beaches and lots of whales ejecting water fountains. While Heidi was active learning new techniques and creating new art, Dietmar enjoyed himself as a “cling-on” with other cling-ons discussing science, philosophy and “politics!!” and generating plans to change the world for the better. Dietmar was particularly engaged in discussions with Klaus Reichenbach the husband of the well known nature printer Erika.  Klaus was a mining engineer and manager of the biggest open mining corporation. It is fascinating to hear all about the logistics to temporarily moving and relocating back entire cities to permit open mining. The new relocation place, of course was now 100 meter or so lower.

In October Dietmar went to the annual Meeting of the American College of Surgeons and experienced rebuild New Orleans. Then Hans and Hilke came as mentioned above and after them Dagmar and Ralph Purves paid us a visit which we enjoyed very much particularly because we were able to demonstrate Sarasota in its artist costume. Many artists had exposed their art at Sarasota’s fine beach promenade. Dietmar and Dagmar have been old friends while Dietmar was enrolled in the University of California San Francisco Medical School in 1967.

Later in October Dietmar’s Cousin Walter visited to help him erecting a 16 KW photovoltaic Solar system on top of our house. During the previous months Walter has helped Dietmar planning the system. Today, on December 17, the system produced 68 KWh.  Not bad.

Our entire family came to celebrate Thanksgiving in our home. Mark Lisa and their three daughters Fritzi, Sabine, and Meike did join Anna John Syrah and Daphne, who were here anyway because they visited from New Zealand as mentioned above. We were glad to see the whole family happily united and interacting and enjoying each other.

Now Annemarei John , syrah and Daphne have returned to New Zealand and Mark, Lisa Fritzi, Sabine and Meike will fly to Chicago before Christmas to see Lisa’s parents. We plan to celebrate Christmas with the children at their home on the 25th., after having had our traditional Lachs Dinner with friends on the 23rd and the pre Christmas Kartoffelsalat Lunch the with the kids.

Last but not least we wish all of our friends a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Dietmar und Heidi

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