Late May I flew to Germany to celebrate Mutti's birthday. It was a good visit, too short as usual for both of us. Mutti is still in her own home, tends her own flowers on the balcony, makes jam for the entire family and while she no longer hikes 6 kilometers three times a week, she still is mobile enough to go to the village baker, butcher and magazine shop. For Mutti's birthday she asked to visit a small town where Vati recovered from being shot in the war. The castle you see has formidable walls and the spikes were part of a 3-gate system to ward off enemies. The church is a place for pilgrimages. In the photos you'll see cover the entire vacation which also include time with family, our newest addition Stella, born April 17th 2009 to David and Nadine Hofmann. Now Mutti is a great-grandmother and very happy. It took 26 years for our little family to grow! My sister Eva and I were able visit the Black Forest for one day. It was glorious. The farmers in Germany are paid by the government not to spray chemicals on their hay meadows and since the wildflowers have returned and I think even the cows are smiling at the variety of native grasses and herbs available to them. We hiked, collected herbs for teas in the winter and had a wonderful time talking and exploring new hiking paths. Mutti also wanted to visit her favorite pilgrimge place, Zwiefalten, decicated to Mother Mary. This was another long day trip. We lit candles, admired the interior as well the exterior, were treated to an incredible Glockenspiel. The small, crystal clear river that meandered through the monestry grounds had trout in it. Afterwards we had a cappucino at the local bakery before the long drive home to mom's house. Some of the photos depict my sister's 300 year-old farm home where we gathered to celebrate being together again.