May 9, 2008

About the kitchen and our carpenter

Our kitchen is functional again. The remodeling is not complete; we must wait for additional trim and two replacement cabinets to be delivered. Yesterday Ken and Helmut cut travertine and glued it in place on top of the half-wall but did not grout it. They will do that when the trim arrives. (This is polished travertine that the previous owner of our house left in the basement.)

Helmut mentioned to Frank that he got training in building trades in East Germany. Intrigued, I got him how he came to the west. He and his mother were in the part of Germany that was given to Russia at the end of World War II. After his training, he worked in construction but a bad winter and floundering economy put an end to building projects.

One day he told his roommate, "If I don't come back, you can have my motorcycle jacket." That night he and his mother crossed the ice-covered Elbe River to reach the west. They succeeded but it was risky - not far down the same river, a group of people were shot trying to do the same thing.

When I commented that his story was exciting, he said that his mother's was more so. During the first World War, she fled her home as the Polish army approach. During the second World War, she fled again as the Russian army marched towards her town. And then eventually she risked her life with him to reach freedom.

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