Une lettre à nos amis français


Mes chers amis,

Ici tout va bien et il faut certainement me pardonner le retard en répondant à votre message.  Chez les Koerner il y avait pas mal de choses arrivées pendant la saison de Noël. 

D’abord je dois commencer avec les nouvelles que l’entreprise Koerner, Koerner Enterprises n’est plus.  A mon avis, nous pouvons tous remercier notre ancien Président Bush qui nous a joué un très mauvais tour. Cela continue malheureusement assez mal et le chômage est affreux.  Christian a tout de suite trouvé quelque chose afin d’avoir un salaire de quelque sorte.  Richie va continuer à faire à peu près la même chose…et pendant cette saison il enlève la neige, heureusement notre endroit semble toujours avoir de la neige,  Richie et Emily (sa fiancée) habitent dans la maison des parents de Mary Kay.  La mère de Mary Kay habite dans le même immeuble où ma mère habitait avant de déménager…actuellement elle habite dans une maison de retraite tout près de Deerfield.  La photo a été prise le 9 janvier, le jour après son anniversaire.

La mère de Mary Kay crée toujours pas mal de drame.  La démence qu’elle a se montre presque tous les jours, la mémoire qui ne fonctionne pas très bien et un très mauvais côté où elle se montre toujours très fâchée avec n’importe qui…

Et puis, des manques de communication avec Mikey en Californie…La famille a été totalement ensemble au mois d’avril à San Diego.  C’était magnifique sur la côte de l’ouest mais moins d’un mois après ces vacances Mikey nous a annoncé le divorce.  Le problème est que Kt, malgré tous les efforts de Mikey et également de la famille, se montrait très  étrange et semblait souffrir des maladies mentales pas soignées des médecins.  Résultat:  Mikey ne communiquait pas bien avec nous malgré nos efforts et se sentait très seul…il commençait à se droguer. L’ambiance californienne est telle que ce résultat arrive assez facilement (nous, dans le midwest, nous disons toujours que la Californie est un autre pays, un bon endroit pour visiter mais non pas pour y vivre…

Mikey était prévu venir chez nous à Thanksgiving, ce qui n’est pas arrivé, puis il me demandait toujours de changer son billet d’avion…Il est enfin rentré le 15 décembre, un jour après son vingt-sixième anniversaire…malade, mais nous ne savions pas encore pourquoi…

Il nous disait que c’était un virus, en réalité il était victime de l’oxycodone (je crois que c’est le nom en français, normalement oxycontin en anglais).  Il est venu sans drogues croyant qu’il pourrait s’en tirer tout seul, mais plusieurs jours après son arrivée il nous a dit la vérité.  Nous avons parlé à nos médecins et dimanche nous sommes allés aux Urgences.  Lundi, grâce à Dieu, nous lui avons trouvé une place dans une clinique.  Il y a passé deux semaines.

La bonne chose, seulement un mois et demi de ces drogues.  C’était sa décision de rentrer sans drogues et de se guérir.  Dans la photo vous verrez Mikey comme il est actuellement.  Il habite avec nous, nous allons en Californie retrouver ses affaires à la fin du mois et il va recommencer une vie normale.  Nous sommes tous contents qu’il soit revenu mais franchement cet épisode nous a traumatisé tous.  En réaction à cela, la famille a re-souffert des traumatismes émotionnels de la fin de l’Entreprise Koerner.

Heureusement tout le monde nous soutient et nous essayons de nous débrouiller avec les problèmes mis dans nos mains.

J’écris un blogue, si vous vous intéressez jamais (c’est en anglais, des fois en français) vous pouvez retrouver ce site internet:  koernerr.wordpress.com

J’ai reçu un message de Christine…à mon insu elle lisait mon blogue et je dois dire que les événements qui nous sont arrivés sont détaillés là, nous sommes ouverts et des incidents de notre vie familial peuvent y être vus.

En espérant que tout va bien chez vous et que vous aurez une année pleine d’espoir, de bonté, de bonheur, et de bonne santé!



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Everyone knows of the French German thing.  We all know that there is no love lost between the two groups.  Then again, there are numerous groups that don’t always see eye to eye or just don’t get along.  The list is probably endless.

I was looking at this “Smoker,” a cute wooden object made in Germany.  Looking at the lettering on the cheese, it just struck me that something was slightly awry.  I knew that the spelling of the cheese was incorrect on this representation of a Frenchman done by a German.  I just keep wondering how this “mistake” came about.

We know that the Germans are perfectionists.  We know they are smart.  The smoker was made in Germany and probably reproduced more than hundreds of times.  How is it that the spelling of the national French cheese, “camembert” was done incorrectly?  It is hard to believe that the Germans don’t have good quality control.  So, what exactly were they thinking of accomplishing?  They most assuredly knew what they were doing.

This smoker is one of many wooden objects we have collected in the Koerner household.  We have a bunch of nutcrackers, miscellaneous decorations, and smokers.  The smokers are interesting in that they come apart at the middle and you can place an incense cone there, light it, and watch the smoke come out of the pipe, the mouth, the whatever, in an intriguing way.  One thing we have found is that you need high quality incense, usually German, for the best effect.  Hmm, makes me think that perhaps it might be fun and useful to do that right now…later!

Darn!  I was going to light some incense in the French smoker and I find that the Germans have tricked me!  Quelle surprise for the French teacher.  It is a plot!  It is really a nutcracker and I didn’t even realize it!

Back to normal

I am sometimes convinced that holidays like Christmas were designed to get people to clean their abodes!  In order to put things up, you have to remove things, often find dirt, and clean.  The same thing happens when you end the holiday and put things back in order.  Is there anything nicer than having your house back after a holiday mess?  It is especially nice to be done with the pine needles, as nice as a live tree is.  It is almost three pm and we are finally pretty much done. 

Mike and I have been busy since early morning.  I started before he got up and then he and I located the storage boxes to put things away.  It was nice having someone go under the house and get them!  Midstream, we went to the gym  to release some excess energy and then hit the grocery store so Mike could take some leftover pork roast and morph it into tonights dinner.  So, a few bell peppers, carrots, and other items later, we went home and had lunch.  That was followed by renewed clean up and everything is pretty much all away. 

I am going to steal a few moments for myself before going to pick up la Princesse (aka Bambina, Samantha, Sam, etc.) at the babysitter’s and bring her here where Daddy will pick her up after a business meeting.  I shall then head south to Kenilworth to tutor a high school student in French.

All in a day’s work!

Day Two of Daddy Boot Camp

Today is the last day I shall sit by the Christmas tree in the morning.  No coffee this morning, I have already finished it and I am wary of adding any more caffeine to my system.  I have been religiously following my doctor’s advice about checking my blood pressure and yesterday was not good.  I could actually feel the pressure and although my blood pressure measured just slightly above the margin for normalcy, it was making me uneasy.  Then my son informed me that in the clinic, that he had the same issue and realized that he (my other son is apparently the same way) was holding his breath while being checked and it “skyrocketed” the reading.  I tried calmer, deeper breathing and it sure did make a difference.  One always has something to learn.  It makes me wonder why no one ever told me this.  Nonetheless, I am not feeling the need for coffee.

Yesterday was easy and tough.  There were glitches along the way as with anything.  One cannot foresee all the ramifications, but the ones I expected were all there in their shining glory.  We worked them through as a family, finally reaching a steak dinner of celebration which was not as planned.  Not as planned because my coupons for the local steak retreat printed out with a different address, which confused me.  Then my phone calls in for an early reservation came to naught and I found myself confused.  Finally, I received an e-mail telling me that they had lost their lease and were closed.  Further research filled us in that the last day of December was their last day of business.  That was a disappointment to me.  So we headed out elsewhere.  The recession has hit again and the overpriced local rental situation for business has taken yet another toll.  When will this end?

The discussion we had with Michael before heading to bed was a good one.  All day long we had been informally strategizing various things we need to do to complete the move from California.  Little by little things are continuing to surface and be dealt with and we have some ideas as how to proceed.  Meanwhile we are dealing with the immediate issues.  Michael explained all sorts of things about addiction and about how his situation had occurred.  He is putting closure to certain parts of his life and he works on his health, both mental and physical.  He is happy to be home with his family and wants to be a bigger part of this life.  The most telling moments of the day were those he spent with Samantha.  The minute we walked in the door of the house, she was there with her Daddy and she immediately sat in his lap, and remained there for a long time, this is something she never does.  All day long, she made sure that she paid attention to everyone, but gave him the most quality time of all.

Today I am pulling down the decorations, at least as much as I can without overdoing it.  I have already pulled down many things and will be taking a trip to the crawlspace to pull out the plastic containers to store the items for next year.  I usually leave out the holiday China and mugs for a few more weeks and my mom’s ceramic Christmas tree.  It allows for a smooth transition into the doldrums of January.

We still have a few birthdays to celebrate, one being my mom’s 90th, this coming weekend.  Mary Kay intends to make her a birthday pie, coconut cream and another pie for those who don’t like coconut.  For some reason, unbeknownst to us, coconut is usually not a favorite of the younger generation. 

Although I am still somewhat uneasy with all the goings on, I am pretty much at peace with how things played out.  We have a long journey and I realize that Michael isn’t the only one who is healing.  We have to concentrate on everyone.

Recycling your Christmas Tree

I open up the Chicago Tribune today and see a huge article on the recycling of Christmas trees.  It amuses me to no end that in our society we can often take something simple and render it complicated.  I find it so interesting that some of the simplest things are totally ignored.  Does no one take the time to think anymore?

For years I have been taking my Christmas tree and throwing it in the backyard as mentioned in a previous blog entry.  I might decorate it with food for the birds if I am so inclined.  Usually I just put it within vision of the kitchen window.  We enjoy seeing it for some time before spring sets in.

I take simple pruning shears that I use in the garden and I snip off about six inch or longer branches.  The idea is to get something that will lie flat once cut.  Because of the nature of the tree, making cuts on it are simple and in fact don’t require a saw for anything but the main trunk of the tree.  So I continue removing the branches bit by bit and I take the cuttings and use them as simple mulch under and behind bushes all over my yard.  I have to say that these branches always decompose with great speed.   I usually put regular, more decorative mulch over this. 

Time to do this?  Between twenty minutes and a half hour.  The only catch is to wear gloves you don’t mind a little sap on, otherwise you will have to pull out something like turpentine to remove what you get on your hands!

In the past, when I did more vegetable gardening, I would take one of the “poles” left from my tree and insert it in the ground for climbing beans or such.  It could be used for flowers as well.  My favorite is to take three of these Christmas tree “poles” and put them together in the shape of a tepee framework, tied at the top.  This works very well for climbing plants.  Think of clematis or morning glories decorating these frameworks; simple, natural, beautiful, free!

Sometimes, when I see huge articles on these issues, as I did in today’s Trib, my thoughts are that it must be a slow news day or people just have no clue.  Is it one of these or is it both? Should I send my idea to Martha Stewart?  Nate Berkus?

Christmas Lights and some more thoughts on Day Six of rehab


 “Christmas night, another fight, tears we cried a flood,

Got all kinds of poison in, poison in the blood…”

“Christmas Lights” by Coldplay

Got to thinking, thinking still, just cannot turn off the flood of things than come into my head.

Is anyone like me?   A song that comes into your life at a particular time that later on when heard will trigger thoughts of that time period?   The above song is one of those, I normally am not able to determine when this will happen, I know for a fact that this is the case with this one which, I believe, I purchased on my iPhone before all of the current trauma came to pass.

I have to say that I have enough of the snob in me to keep me from quoting songs.  I couldn’t help myself with this one.  Listening to the whole song, I realize it doesn’t really apply, but strangely, certain parts do…

Another thought occurred, is Mikey really the one who is “healing?”  Is it possibly the rest of us?  Although I know far better than to think that I need to turn inward and blame myself for what has happened, the thought does force itself into my neurons every so often.  Perhaps we are all healing, and that is the one thought that keeps me going.


One of my all time favorite Christmas decorations is Gänseliesel. I just spoke to my wife about the appropriate German spelling. Although my surname is German (actually Austrian), it is nothing more than a made up name my paternal grandfather made up to avoid being made fun of, is this perhaps a Koerner family theme? Back to the goose girl…

Gänseliesel is apparently the name of a fountain in some city in Germany. My wife just told me the name, but as with the German spelling, it is very possible that my short term memory is at fault here. Besides being a fountain, it is the name of a very little wooden German ornament. Years ago, we purchased two of them. They are quite small, and I am guessing they were made in the part of East Germany where the production of ornaments made of wood is so popular. It is a very tiny version of the German “Pyramids” that feature candles surrounding a little diorama of sorts with a fan-like apparatus on top that catches the rising heat from the candles and turns. Gänseliesel does not have candles, it is really too small, so it must catch whatever rising heat there is in order to move. I have often placed it near heat registers and then watch Liesel chase her geese.

Ours was purchased as a set of two, as I mentioned, one for us and one for my then department chairman (a German teacher) for a departmental gift exchange in which I had received his name. Ours has survived many years of use and abuse, falling, being knocked over by a child or dog, and breaking more than once. I am quite adept in the use of Elmer’s Glue and have put this wooden object back together numerous times.

At the Christkindlmarket a short time ago, I saw the newer, stabler version of the original. I should have bought it, but I did not. Now I regret that.

Today I was sitting here on the couch, enjoying my tree, and watching that poor girl chase her geese. Lisl is much like Sisyphus who was condemned by the gods to forever push the boulder up the mountain only to have it fall down once he reaches the top and then having to do it all over and over again for all eternity. Liesel’s job, however, just doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as hopeless as that of Sisyphus, thank goodness, maybe it is due to her arrival each year at the holiday season!