Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Saturday, 29 November 2014

"They all ask me to jump to invigorate and to play soccer, to run, to swim and to fly. Very well. " Pablo Neruda


©Brigitta Huegel
Dear You,

Outside for the first time in November temperature sank below zero.
So it might be a bit strange to tell you how I learned to swim - but Tom's blog http://tomstephenson.blogspot.de/2014/11/last-one-ins-sissy.html  inspired me.

Here you see me on a photograph in Austria. The two little blond girls at the right are my little sister and I (the other people I don't know).
But what I know is that we weren't allowed to go on a boat trip without being able to swim.
So I learned it in the lake Wörthersee in Kärnten.
First we swam around with a swimming ring - I still remember the strange feeling in the arm pits. Again and again our father showed us how to make the movements with arms and legs.
"Now you can do it without that swimming ring", he said after a while.
I might - but I wouldn't - being a coward with too much imagination.
So I swam around happily with that ring.
Into the lake run a long wooden bathing jetty. One day I was standing at its end, peering into the water.
"Jump!" my mother called.
"No - not without my bathing ring!"
"If you do, you'll get an ice cream!" I heard my father shouting from the boardwalk.
"No!" (You won't bribe me).
"Jump!" my little sister cried, sitting nicely at the shore.
"NO!!... - SPLASH!!! Splish! Splutter!! Gurgle! Gulp!!!"
That was me - struggling to keep myself over water - then swimming like a fish.(Without fishfinger coating swimming ring).
My father had lost his patience (which he seldom did otherwise, but he hated seeing me behaving like a - what said Tom so aptly - sissy). So he had sneaked clandestinely behind me - and pushed me in.
After the first shock I liked it."Come in, it's easy! Jump!" I called my sister.
I don't know whether she did.
But I remember we both got an ice cream.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

(TBC): She Who Must Be Obeyed

©Brigitta Huegel


I'm not good at "to be continued". (Didn't even know the abbreviation for it - when I took the above photograph at an Elvis exhibition in Hamburg, years ago, I wondered what TBC meant, and maybe it means And Now for Something Completely Different  - but I like the design).
Maybe I am too impatient.
(November is a month for insights).
Impatient - a word I should not use when I'm near the --- thing --- the Cat --- the Tamagotchi,
or, as Rumpole of the Bailey would have said: "She Who Must Be Obeyed." (Though he was speaking of Hilda, his over-ambitious wife). I wouldn't obey anybody as long as he/she isn't carrying a gun or highest authority (it is November... in June I would have written: Anybody - but that simply/sadly isn't true).
So: maybe my Tamagotchi is mirroring me?
Bit complicated, bit opiniated, bit willful - but sophisticated and shining, too? And reliable when you know how to treat her?
But knowing and taming takes time, as the fox in The Little Prince said. And times were rough at the beginning.
Much of that time I spent - as a scholar, nothing else - with the kind man at 'Saturn' - him a specialist for this coffee-machine (THAT should have warned me - they have a special expert for this - thing!)
Oh, come to think of it: Maybe I should have added megalomaniac to the charming list of my attributes.
I mean: I don't have a degree in precision engineering, nor am I a computerfreak. (Both would be very helpful indeed).
The manufacturers had put a little brochure into the huge packing - thus suggesting: "So easy to handle!" Just a few comic pictures.
"Oh, it is easy", said the kind expert.
Of course: everything is easy if you know how to do it.
When I was a child, I loved one book on my parents' bookshelves especially: "The Home Treasury of Humour" - one story in that huge anthology was given the title: "The Malice of the Object (though the dictionary proposes: "The (general) cussedness of things")." How come that I remember this caption just now?
How come? Why didn't the author just called it 'Philips Saeco Exprelia'?
Cat lies in wait for me when I tried to make an espresso: "Fill the watertank!" she commanded (the programmer of that machine is from the 'No-Time-for-Politeness-You -Moron-School - not knowing the word "please", though he would have had place enough - maybe he had used it to fill in 'idiot', 'jerk', 'dope' --- (yes, yes, here I can use the abbrevation "TBC" again) ... but the company forced him to delete it, because in times of the internet even an imbecile as I can tick a rating scala and publish it on Facebook...
"Haha", I thought: "next time I know" - hastily filled the watertank before it could cry out - then: "Empty the container!" it spit (the box for used pressed coffee- which I don't know the English word for - my kind man at Saturn (really) calls it "marc/rape/pomace" - which astonishes me, but in his former life he (really) had been a sommelier...)
So:  I emptied the container, feeling smug.
Then I put a cup with a bit of sugar under the coffee-fountain -- "Plörr!" -- out came only hot water -- "Flushing!" the cat snarled. (It has a lot more of those little informations, but we all have work to do - who wants to read "War and Peace - with a Coffee Machine"?)
I surrendered - put the DVD from the huge box into my computer (as husband had told me from the very beginning - himself keeping away from IT . Hint: you might look up the point: my megalomania again)
My computer flashed over 70 pages with hints "How to Use this Easy Machine in a Jiffy (you Moron!)  at me. Oh.
Well - when I get angry ... I become VERY accurate - read the over 70 pages, copied their little drawings by hand (I mean: the machine is in the kitchen - not on my desk beside the computer).
Sadly they omitted one little drawing, just one little step (Hahaha!)
So I met my kind ex-sommelier again. And he explained to me the secrets of opening a very-complicated-lid&pressure-high-frequency-unit-Thing. Aha!
Walked home again (so good for your figure. No need to do weight-training or running on the treadmill that day).
"You seem to be a bit uptight, a bit jittery", remarked my beautiful young Italian massage therapist.
"Too much coffee", I mumbled.

PS: All in all I seem to be getting onto the driver's seat, so to speak (or is it 'into'? 'under'?).
And I found another photo from the Elvis exhibition: "TCB - Faith, Spirit, Discipline".
I think I might need them all...

©Brigitta Huegel


Thursday, 20 November 2014

My newest Tamagotchi

©Brigitta Huegel

A 'domestic animal' - in Berlin? Even if you call it a 'house pet' it would not be happy here: only one big balcony (l)imitating nature, a flat with many square metres, but on second floor, so you won't draw a dog from the woodwork with that...
Instead I bought a pet machine. A sort of Tamogotchi. (You remember the Tamogotchi, created in the late 1990s, a virtual chicken that needed as much attention as a real animal?).
More precisely: I just asked for a coffee machine, a good one which can make coffee, espresso, cappuccino and latte macchiato. Till now we had a Nespresso machine, which worked quite nicely. (We started drinking coffee only a few years ago - and Nespresso even did an interview on TV with me, but I think some of you still have to wrest yourself free from 'Roger Moore and I', two posts down, so I will spare you this one).
I wanted to wrest myself from Nespresso. It started so harmless:
I only wished to recycle the Nespresso capsulesIn the Nespresso shop - which is very handy in the emporium KaDeWe six minutes away - they gave me - reluctantly - a solid brown plastic (!) bag. 
When I saw at home how quickly it filled up, I thought: oha!!! (This German cry of astonishment might best be translated to: Wow!
Then this woman started to calculate: one capsule costs 39 cents. If we buy (very good) fresh coffee beans, we will have generated the price of the 'Porsche among the coffee machines' depicted above in two or three years (don't try to prick a needle into my little bubble's daydream: contrary to my normal behaviour I even bought an assurance for the machine).  
So I bought it.
Husband arrived with Knut, my little red Fiat 500, and schlepped the machine to the car.
And that was the first time I should have become suspicious: I had to walk back, while the machine was driven home comfortably!! (the big box with the coffee machine refused to take a place in the backseat).
At home La Macchina got unpacked. I read the user's guide. Carefully.
Not much to read - mostly lovely pictures. Drawn like a comic. I proceeded to action.
Espresso: wonderful! Cappucchino: bellissimo! Then I got daring and tried my luck on Latte Macchiato.
At that moment the wild animal in the machine woke up.
First error of judgement on my side: it was not the Imposter of House-Pet-Dog  - which I thought at first and thus tried to house-train by stern discipline to show it who is The Master ( = Me).

No: It is a cat. 

(TBC)


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Thing T. Thing - or: "Che Gelida Manina"

Brigitta Huegel


You know my enthusiasm for hats - the bigger, the better. (And I wear all of them, in real life).
And I had a shoe-tic, tamed by now (hahaha). 
When I still wrote my blog "You are Witty and Pretty", I carried the torch for the fashionista - but soon I got bored tired by all these blogs counting up what they bought here, and then there, and you had not to be Einstein to calculate that their armoire, (never a simple cupboard), must be as big as our posh emporium KaDeWe in toto - and the blogger's gloves and scarves they had to put on the Tauentzien & Kudamm together for want of room.
So the "pretty" gave way to the "witty" - at least I tried, till at last I gave up.
But back to fashion:
I now add gloves (sort of) to my passions.
Aren't the lacy-ones above beautiful? (And practical: you still can write an SMS).
The painters and artists among you know: nothing is as difficult as drawing hands - and photographing them - on your own - isn't easy either. So please don't look with a too critical eye at the way my arm looks in the photo- and no, I didn't overdo my weight-training, I only stem the wall...
These one - manufactured by Karl Lagerfeld - were a present from my young Hamburgian friend:

Brigitta Huegel

When I wear them - especially in Hamburg, the city of the very mighty and very rich - some older gentle(?)men in Brioni-suits get a certain glitter in their eyes - as if Gabriella Cilmi sings in their mind  "Nothing's Sweet About Me".
So hastily I counter-trill from Puccini's La Bohème: "How icecold is this tiny hand" -
and wait for even colder days to carry my newest trove:

Brigitta Huegel


PS: As I joined Joanne Noragon's brand-new Facebook-site which shows the beautiful scarves she weaves, their might be a new mode en vogue for me...
https://www.facebook.com/JoanneNoragonWeaver?skip_nax_wizard=true&ref_type





Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sir Roger Moore (and I) in a Short TV Interview

video


Five years after its taking, I've found it again: the lost video above - with a snippet of a TV- 'interview' of me that was made in Hamburg when Sir Roger Moore presented "My Word is My Bond: The Autobiography". You have to be patient (though I only give you a shortened version), because it is mostly in German - except a few words in English by me (you might have read Tom's comment on my accent :-) - and a bit more by Sir Roger Moore - so wait for the Lady in Turquoise and you might get a fleeting impression of me.
It was shortly before our move to Berlin. I had plucked three especially beautiful different roses from my garden for him: Roger Moore - the actor I'd always admired.
I had missed him a few years before when husband made the catalogue/anthology for an exhibition in Hildesheim - "James Bond. Schauspieler und Spion" (James Bond. Actor and Spy") - he couldn't come, though at that occasion I had the honour and joy to dine with Desmond Llewelyn, the inventive engineer "Q" (who sadly died a short time after in a car crash).
When I find the black&white photo of us I will show it to you.
But back to Hamburg.
Sir Roger Moore introduced his book charmingly and witty.
Then the reporter chatted with me. With her last question (in German) she almost knocked me out of my silken stockings (and High Heels): she asked with the impertinence of (not that fresh) youth, in an incredulous voice: "Do you think he is still a sexy man?"
Rude in oh so many ways: the question in and of itself, then in his vicinity, but most of all: how odd to think that sexiness depends only on age?
I was so glad that I was not too shocked to answer (I seldom am - shocked or silent).
And the answer came from my heart -  I meant as I said.

PS: (And if not I wouldn't have answered otherwise).







Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Spreewald and Bliss

Brigitta Huegel

 On a very sunny (!) 2nd November (!) with 19°C (!) husband and I drove to Schlepzig in the Spreewald, where I had never been before. Above you see a women in a traditional costume - worn for the tourists now - who punts a boat with up to 20 guests on the many rivulets and rivers. 
The Spreewald (the Sorbian word for it was 'Biota' = swamps) is a huge area with bogs and marshes, protected as a biosphere reserve, in Brandenburg, which was formed in the glacial period.

Brigitta Huegel



Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel

One and a half hour we were punted by a nice man (who viewed the wild woods merely with the eyes of a treefeller: "Here I was allowed to axe a broken tree - there I collected five trees... which brought me fine fathoms of stovewood for my 'Bullerjahn'.. ." (a special sort of oven - and I think they really need the heat in winter - even in Berlin we have Siberian frost sometimes).
Inwardly, I believe, he thanked his silent little helpers: about 50 beavers live around Schlepzig, and they are working hard. Over hundred years there hadn't been any (only being thought of in the social-critical comedy "The Beaver Coat" by Gerhart Hauptmann, for which the Berlin Board of Censors predicted in 1893 : "Petty painting without any plot of relevance...that dull pathetic effort will not see many enactments" - and thus erred enormously: it became very, very famous).
So  in 2003 the first beaver immigrated back to the Spreewald - hailed by environmentalists, while the LUVG printed a little brochure "How to live with the beaver".

Brigitta Huegel


After dinner in the beautiful Landgasthof 'Zum Grünen Strand der Spree', which is very proud of its Private Brewery from 1788 we went back - finding out that my Knut, as you can see clearly in this picture, hadn't been idle either and had used his time by transgressing boundaries to flirt with a(nother) beautiful Italian,..


So: A wonderful day for all of us! 
(or in my four new words of Italian): 

Una Festa Sui Prati! 









Saturday, 1 November 2014

Autumn, and Berlin's Leaves Fall

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel


Dear You, 
here you see my problem. Better: you don't see it - because I couldn't find it.
I was looking for a special photo I took: beautiful yellow leaves on a shining turquoise engine cover - it looks really lovely and I can recall it before my inner eye - but I forgot: when did I take that photo - in 2013? 2012? Couldn't have been in 2011 when we moved to Berlin..?
Yours truly has written a book about order. I love order. I love systems to get the chaos into a sort of order - but though I have entitled my photo-files, these titles are not always totally enlightening - I mean: one title for my 10 days stay in England this year - with over 1000 photos - and what might hide under "miscellaneous/ October 2012"?
So above you get substitutes - not bad, but not what I wanted as an illustration for "Autumn".
Though I should better use the word "Fall". Because the leaves fall.
In the Berliner Zeitung I read that in Berlin each year the trees throw down 70.000 tons of foliage.
Can you imagine that?
Seventy-thousand tons! 
(And they are not counting the leaves of the forests as the Grunewald).
Berlin has about 438.000 trees lining the streets. In summer one often thinks one is walking through an aquarium - a deep shadowy green wavers up to the third floor of the houses, no need for sun protection at the groundfloor - better buy a torch - and with mixed feelings I look from my balcony on the second floor at the oaks in front of our house: they grow, contrary to folks belief, rapidly, and in autumn you hear their funny plop, plop when they throw their acorns on the cars. The car owners don't laugh, but the squirrels and the jays do.
And each of these 438.000 trees has about 50.000 leaves.
The main trees are limetrees/linden trees, followed by plane trees, oaks and chestnuts (in Berlin, the newspaper says, each year they get almost 5.800 tons of acorns and chestnuts for feeding deers etc), maple/acer, robinias/ locust and birchtrees. If you add on the trees from our parks and city-gardens, Berlin has about one million trees.
A very, very green city.
You think I ramble? From the photos to the trees?
Oh no - I follow abundance.
Both - photos and leaves - have cumulated.
One has to get rid of some (the chestnut leaves that are infected by the leafmining moth; the photos which are blah or not pretty).
60.000 tons of the leaves are changed into 40.000 tons of compost (the remaining 10.000 tons of leaves they experiment to change into briquetts form).
Might be a good ratio for my photos?