Louise's and my December newsletter

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Every year we send out a newsletter. Since I haven't posted an update on the forum for some time I thought I would just post the newsletter. The version here is lacking the drawing of "Ice Peter", mentioned in the last paragraph. It's a pretty terrifying drawing of Peter covered in ice.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter.


We have a new view from our windows which face Bloor Street--a huge advertising sign featuring a model. Paul has christened her Margaret (i.e., Thatcher) because she holds a large handbag in a most threatening manner--like a weapon. I'd rather call her Coral Spiky. She is clad completely in black, her hair rigidly back in a headmistress's bun, holding that handbag at shoulder height as if saying "Come any closer and I'll bash your skull in". Really, modern fashion advertising.

The past 18 months have been months of waiting for medical appointments, compounded by the delays due to SARS here in Toronto. I know at last what has made my heart beat so irregular. My mitral valve shows scarring which must have been due the infection I had way back in 1965 in Illinois when Paul and I were graduate students there. So now I wait for surgery. It will have three parts--stopping the atrial fibrillation, mending or replacing my mitral valve, and inserting the wires for a pacemaker. So I am on the surgery list at last! There are about 200 patients ahead of me and my surgery will take place about February or March 2004.

I get very tired now and I seem to have lost the creative part of me. I am still learning to knit and am light years away from being creative in knitting. And the spark to write isn't there even if I see something wonderful. Like the shadow of a long pole on top of a neighbouring building. The sun was rising and there was a very slight mist in the air and the shadow was cast on the mist. Paul saw it too so it was real and it wasn't just me. Shadow on the mist way above me....

We took a trip to Montreal to buy me a real winter coat. It rained practically the whole way there, even hailed for a while, and Montreal was cold into the bargain. BUT I got FOUR wonderfully warm pieces of clothing from "Kanuk", a Quebec company. Now I can step out in the cold Canadian north with never a whimper.

Most of weekends and week days Paul does homework! German homework. It is a little like graduate days. I am of course knitting. How dull we have grown.

Paul's contribution:

Our few hours at "Kanuk" in Montreal were hilarious. Since we had rented a car and stayed two nights in Montreal and two more nights on the way to and from Montreal, the trip alone was costly. When we got to the store it wasn't too difficult to find the perfect winter coat for Louise (good to − 30). Louise was excited and ready to leave. But I told her it would actually make the coat cheaper if she bought another coat; she didn't believe it, but went along with me. She found a different kind of coat, more for rain and the fall. Before she knew it (as I said, in order to save money!), she had bought four items: two coats, a jacket, and the warmest pants you ever saw. She was in a daze but very happy to buy more coats! (You can't buy coats like these in Toronto, even though they are sometimes needed here, particularly for Louise who is very sensitive to the cold. I also have a "Kanuk" coat, which I bought by mail order two years ago.)

I have now completed more than a year of German study. Instead of the regular Goethe class, I, along with another student, have private lessons once a week with the same teacher I have had since I started at the Goethe. I'm making faster progress (with fewer class hours) than I would have had if I had stayed in the regular class. In addition, I now visit weekly a wonderful German couple for German conversation.

As Louise stated, I am doing a lot of German homework (which amuses some of my former students). However, I am distressed that I have found less time for swimming and no time at all since the summer for work on my mother's biography. Perhaps there will be progress on those two fronts in the new year.

Ice Peter was a surprising re-discovery a month ago. When my sister and I were small, our parents read to us the story of Ice Peter (Eispeter) from a small book with pictures and German text. They didn't read the German to us, but told the story in their own words. It's a horrible story. Ice Peter disobeyed his parents and went out on an exceedingly cold night. He skated but fell into the water and froze solid! His parents hacked him out and brought him home. Whereupon Ice Peter melted away to a puddle. The liquid is put in a butter pot, labelled "Peter". I always wanted to find this story again. Just last month I found it in the collected works of Wilhelm Busch, a very famous 19th century German artist and poet.

We send you our best wishes for the holidays and for 2004.

Louise and Paul Herzberg

-- Anonymous, December 19, 2003

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