In our 2016 Christmas letter, we still hoped US Electoral College, as the ultimate controller, would protect the American Republic from a most volatile, unworthy madman who is relentlessly undermining honesty as the cultural base of modern society.
In 2017, we know that the Electoral College was unable to prevent the seizure of the president’s job by an undeserving person. The US Constitution did not work this sense and seem not to be capable of protecting the world from catastrophe! We must admit, however, that we underestimated the quality of the separation of powers and thus the democratic strength of the US Constitution.
We are all still there, the attempt to establish a law of empowerment has been thwarted by a strong jurisprudence and the president stands there like a jumping jack that has to watch as the most important of his legislative plans are ignored. But even the less important issues are causing damage in this world and the US has lost through the presidential Fake-News-Lie-Culture, reputation, authority, and influence. He is just regarded as the stupid boy who is formally at the top of the otherwise still valued USA. When will the true strength of this country prevail, to control the awkwardness, and put an end to the spook? - so that our grandchildren, spread over 3 continents, can once again look to the future with confidence - as cosmopolitan citizens of the world.
In Germany, silver stripes are also on the political horizon. The era of Merkel seems to move into the next phase, after she has succeeded in taking away the nimbus of evil from the country through her welcoming culture. In doing so she has given the country the inner and outer strength and prestige and prepared for the next step: the United States of Europe with Emmanuel Macron and Martin Schulz as future catalysts. If Schulz sticks with his newly announced political strategy, he will be the next chancellor in Germany.
Yes, - the year 2017 was also varied for ourselves and many friends and family members visited us, and we were on the way too. The all overwhelming event was the 100th birthday of Dietmar's mother, whom we celebrated in Hamburg in her apartment with the family, and an ever-decreasing number of friends. She was especially pleased with the 100 red roses but also with the congratulatory delegation of Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz. On this occasion, we learned that the oldest person of Hamburg is 113 years old!
With Brigitte and Günter, our relatives from Graz, Dietmar enjoyed the Hamburger Kunsthalle after a long time once again. Here they are the originals of our admired expressionists like Franz Marc, Emil Nolde, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, and Wassily Kandinsky. On the day after the birthday, together with girlfriend Gisa, formerly from Greifswald, he realized again the incredible misdeeds of dark Germany in the concentration camp Neuengamme close to Hamburg. Heidi had already flown there in April because the Neuengamme Gedenkstätte had a memorial service in honor of her father and his inmate Walter Wächter in Nazi Camp.
Also Annemarei with her daughter Daphne came from New Zealand to the memorial service in tribute to the father and grandfather Afterwards, on their return trip to New Zealand, both spent some wonderful days with us in Nokomis and Mark in Sarasota
The second big event this year began after Sabine's graduation with the international baccalaureate. She decided to move to Germany to study there. We cannot help feeling proud that her studies will begin in the school building where we both graduated passing Abitur exam more than 50 years ago.
We do not want to forget to mention the other friends who visited us: So Julian, Maren Wendt’s son explored our environment in March and obviously enjoyed it as testified by his beautiful photos on his website www.Julian.de. Maren is the daughter of very good old but deceased friends from Hamburg. In May we were able to host the very nice family of Thorsten Huebner with Iris and daughter Madita. He was once Heidi's student in Hamburg Altona. In September Dietmar’s a former Altona surgeon colleague visited us to refresh good old memories.
During this time we also had a double super experience: two hurricanes, Harvey and Irma demonstrated very impressively the elemental power of nature. Despite the official instructions for the evacuation, we did not abandon our house, so we stayed on the island. The rainfall that Harvey brought surpassed everything we've ever seen in our lives, and Irma was not bad either at defoliating almost all trees, including our cypress. Roof tiles came down. Only the coconut palms showed what they had learned in evolution and danced and swayed in harmony with the strong wind without breaking.
As a last but no less important experience we want to mention Heidi's progress with her art. Her Art Cottage has evolved into an impressive art hub in the center of Nokomis. In addition to their successful nature image art, other artists have joined the group that represents and sells considerable art work with increasing success.
The year also brought new, kindred friends from South Africa, Venezuela, and Germany, who either live on the island like us or at the Nokmis Art Center. In the summer we spent some very nice evenings with discussions about art, philosophy and religion, and especially history. And so we plan on 23.12. to re-live an old tradition and eat smoked salmon with our friends; as in all the years since 1978These were moments from our year 2016. With a picture of our beach at the blue turquoise Gulf and a symbolic sunset, we want to say good-bye to all our friends and wish you a