Napoleon Treasure

I’m a history buff and should have realized it was 200 years ago during the winter of 1812 that Napoleon lost his Grand Army on the steppes of Russia. He captured Moscow but had to retreat as the Russians did not surrender. He lost half of his fighting men and was eventually defeated back in France. He escaped his first exile, returned to power shortly, and was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815. We will probably hear more about Napoleon in the next few years.

Retreat from Moscow

One item of interest was a secret letter he had written requesting the Kremlin be destroyed before his forces left Moscow. That letter was recently auctioned for $243,000, bought by the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris. The same museum bought a 300 page manuscript written by Napoleon in his later exile on Saint Helena Island. The manuscript was purchased for almost half a million dollars.

I do not know where the letter or manuscript came from when it arrived at the auction house. However, I did get an answer to one of my questions: was Napoleon’s order carried out? Unfortunately, yes, the Kremlin was burned along with a lot of art work.

Speaking of history, I have heard very little about commemorating the War of 1812 fought here in America.

American War of 1812


Danish Roll

I had a little bit of trouble sleeping last night, so I am up early doing some quick writing.  I enjoyed a small glass of cold refreshing milk, especially since it complimented the Danish roll I ate.  I cannot remember ever not liking Danish rolls.  As a young child when my family lived in Europe my dad often raved about the hard German breakfast rolls called brotchen.  There was actually a man who drove a little bread truck to deliver them.  My dad called him the brotchen man.  Brotchen are hard on the outside, and fluffy on the inside, mostly air I would say.  It allows plenty of room for butter and jelly to be placed inside.  They also occasionally bought some lighter pastries that often had a crispy outside with a sugary coating.  I found myself liking what my parents called Danish rolls. I have a small mouth and as I kid I had a hard time biting into corn on the cob,  apples, fat sandwiches and so forth.  Danish rolls were easier for my mouth to bite into than the larger brochen.  My parents also called these Danish pastries.  The pastries and rolls are actually different.  I like the Danish pastries better, but the ones I eat more often now are what I call Danish rolls; at least that is what my wife sometimes buys.  They don’t have the gentle crunch, but are a soft bread with some jelly or cheese mix in the middle.  I do not necessarily go out of my way to have Danish rolls but when they are available as they were this morning in the kitchen pantry, I enjoy them.  I think that is why my wife occasional buys them for the household.  Unfortunately, they are a like Lay’s potato chips: it is hard for me to only eat one.

             As a child I had had no idea what Danish meant.  There was deviled ham, and cottage cheese, so I just thought that was what you called the light, sweet crunchy pastries.  Later I learned there were Danish people.  I knew German people lived in Germany, and French people lived in France, but did not know where Danish people lived.  I did not give it much thought  It was even a few years later until I finally realized Danish people live in Denmark.  When I hear of Switzerland, I think of cheese, chocolate, watches, and banks.  When I think of Norway, I think of reindeer and Vikings.  For Poland it is sausage; for France it is Paris, food and wine; for Holland it is windmills and ice skating; and for Denmark it is Danish rolls.  These are probably some of my earliest remembrances of these countries and for better or worse are still in my mind.

            When I was creating the board game TreasureTrove I wanted to place on the game board some fun spaces where the player has the opportunity to roll the die and collect money.  One such space I placed directly over where Denmark would be on the traveler’s journey around the world.  At first, most players never give it a thought, but after a few games they begin to pick up the little things on the game board such as Danish Roll is directly where Denmark would be.  If they are playing with a child it is something fun to share with them.

            That first Danish roll I had this morning had a cherry jelly center.  I’m glancing over my laptop and down the kitchen counter noticing the one with a soft cream cheese filling is staring back at me.  I think I’ll give in, and go give him a visit. 

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The Orient Express

         I like railroads.  I like the sound of the whistle or siren, and up close I like the mechanical banging associated with a railroad: steel against steel.  I also like movies that involve railroads.  Breakheart Pass with Charles Bronson and Emperor of the North with Lee Marvin are two films that come to my mind.  My wife likes murder mysteries.  In the late 1970’s my wife and I watched Murder on the Orient Express a movie based on an Agatha Christie fictional detective novel.  The intrigue invited the interest of my wife while I found myself fantasizing what it would be like to take an extended train ride across Europe.  Sometimes some of our dreams come true. 


In the early 1980’s I had a three year tour with the military to Europe.  During that time I enjoyed taking several train rides across Western Europe.  I treasure the memories of my travels and train excursions in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Great Britain.  I live in West Texas now and have little access to train travel.  When I visit cities with subways I enjoy utilizing them, especially if they travel above ground.  I hope to someday take a train ride in Canada.

        When I was creating the board game TreasureTrove I included six cards among the 72 situation cards that allow a player to travel faster in their quest to search the world collecting treasures.  The Orient Express is a catchy phrase that conveys quick travel.  Whether or not it was actually a quick journey in real life I do not know.  One the situation cards for Asia reads as follows:


               Orient Express is a little misleading because the famous train route actually never did run into Asia, much less the Orient.  Nevertheless it is just one of those names that seems to stick.  Historically, the Orient Express started running in 1883 ran from Paris to Vienna and eventually to Istanbul.  During the early 20th century there were several different routes available for the journey.  The heyday of travel on this train excursion was during the 1930’s, the time of Agatha Christie’s penned her book.


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