Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Monday, 29 December 2014

Today Is My Birthday (Again)


©Brigitta Huegel

I should come to my senses. (Comment: I learned a long time ago that I might replace the word "should" by "will" - (or more often: will not).
I am. All senses. Enjoying and revelling in them, I mean.
But being finally ready to tell anybody my age? No: I keep my mouth firmly shut.
("Why, for heaven's sake?" you might mutter, "It's not that interesting").
Why indeed?
My mother (as Shirley Conran said: "A mother's place is in the wrong") had a very problematic attitude concerning old people - coming from a family of (minor) aristocrats, marrying a man from the working class she might have had her reasons. I loved my charming, lively grandmother (the one with the red blood). So I grew up in ambiguity. The old people were "Them" - a class of their own, born that way. But my grandma was not old in my eyes. And although I knew I would grow old one day,  in my heart I didn't believe it. (Most people don't for their own person: a research statistic shows that the typical woman feels about 18 years younger than she is).
From very early years on I started to collect what I could find about getting older - especially older women as role models. With fourteen I told my astonished girlfriends  "I look forward to being thirty - then I will be able to wear big hats". It is a metaphor, of course (and I pushed the line of years a bit further) for growing up. I envy the fashion of my mother: it allowed women to grow up proudly, and the advertising motto of „Baldessarini – separates the men from the boys“
should/must be coined for women into "separates the women from the girls".
I am glad that fashion this year started to become a bit more grown-up too:

©Brigitta Huegel

But I look into the media, and what do I see? Scorn of older people, amost hate. And it seems to me that the last taboo beside death is (sex and) old age. A society that defines itself mainly through images is shocked. I really considered founding a group "Anti-Discrimination of Older People" - but I didn't because I do not want to get angry all the time - so unbecoming... So I keep the topic private. (Very :-)
From my Prussian mother I learned to love discipline and 'attitude, poise' (the German word is "Haltung", the English pendant might be "stiff upper lip"). I sincerely and deeply feel with everybody who suffers from pain, and I listen with compassion - but I get unnerved when someone is going on and on about trifles, and many women, growing older, do complain about a lot. (Interesting: those who have really reasons to complain about something as a "new" knee or gastrectomy: they do not complain, they are so brave!)
So it is not a surprise that you find me very often among young(er) people. I love laughter more than champagne. (Come to think of it: give me all three - it's my birthday!)
Though - if they are too young - sometimes I get a bit - bored is the wrong word - languid?
I enjoy the company of my contemporaries very, very much - I see beauty in silver hair and wrinkles of laughter around the eyes; I love wisdom and humour, courage and experience in every form - a life well lived. "Seperates the men from the boys"... :-)

©Brigitta Huegel

(A morsel of wisdom in between: the most important aim is that you nourish them (and of course yourself!) well: body, soul and wit).

©Brigitta Huegel

"How Not to Look Old" is the title of a book by middle-aged Charla Krupp (hahaha - I use the word "middle-aged"in the pejorative way, out of sheer spite :-), who dishes out all the old chestnuts that are not true ("Don't wear colours, don't wear too much eye-make-up, don't wear silk stockings" - and always the verdict: "...it makes you look OLD!" Message: "Buy a burka - then you are no longer a rival to us")
My dear: I do as I please.
I don't botox, I don't use fillers or plastic surgery, I don't colour my hair, and I don't diet.. All that is not a question of morale for me - everybody has to find out her own way of what works for her: to feel good in your skin (and soul) is what counts, and this is my way.
I do it without the witch doctors. I eat well and healthy, I do a lot of moving, in body AND brain. I am curious. Am really interested in people and life.
And I feel very, very fine.
But I won't tell you my age.... in the good company of Oscar Wilde:

One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.”

I won't.        As I told you:  I do as I please.             And this is one of the gifts of getting older. 









Friday, 26 December 2014

Joanne Noragon's beautiful handwoven Etsy Scarves



©Brigitta Huegel





©Brigitta Huegel


This was a very special Christmas gift to myself:
as soon as I saw that Joanne Noragon had opened up her virtual Etsy Shop, I not only liked that on Facebook, but, of course, ordered the only

                    PINK SCARF                                       

instantly. (Sorry Mise, I was quicker!)
It arrived in due time from America, much earlier than I had expected.
And it is oh so beautiful!
And oh so soft and warm - I LOVE IT! 
It has character, is individual, handmade and of visible quality. Already two unacquainted women in Berlin asked me where I had bought it, and I happily gave them the link:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JoanneNoragonWeaver?ref=search_shop_redirect

If you look into that shop, you have to hold yourself back not to snatch a lot more of her beautiful creations! Joanne is a very industrious woman, with many years of weaving knowledge, and you can find the history of that on her blog "Cup on the Bus".

For me the most astonishing thing is that something so beautiful materialized "out of the air": I know Joanne only via the Internet -

but now the link between imagination and touch is there -
something for the senses -

thank you, Joanne!

PS: I add another photo taken by daylight, because above the lamp-light changed the colour of the scarf very much. Since a few years we have an (awful) law in Germany that forbids selling the oldfashioned lightbulbs - instead we have to buy energy-saving bulbs (which kill especially red colours - and people, if they fall down on the ground and break - no joke: they are highly poisonous and can contaminate a whole room). Now the politicians simply want to sneak out of their responsibilty (and the light industry will be even happier than now: another change, more money!) - and we get the better LEDs, not as cold blue-lighted as before (when I bought a LED- lamp at Ikea, I asked for a second bulb - "Oh no, we don't sell them - when this bulb dies after twenty years, you have to buy a new lamp!" Insanity - but eco-friendly (they told us that about the poisonous too).





Sunday, 21 December 2014

I wish you...

©Brigitta Huegel


                      ... a Merry Christmas! 

Dear You,

I choose the pink ribbon especially for you... 
and put into the golden box exactly what you are longing for... 
Happiness, Love, Gratitude, Contentment, Health, Beauty and Wisdom - and a little secret, just for you, you know what I'm talking of... 

Have a wonderful time - you'll hear from me soon. 

Yours truly 

Britta  XXX 


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Already In the Christmas Spirit?

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 

I have to admit that I am still not in the Christmas spirit at all (though Berlin's merchants try to cure me in every possible way - which makes me even grumpier...)
So I made a list of what might help:

1. Drawing or crafting your own Christmas cards.
    Above you see a feeble attempt of mine: Knut, my little red Fiat 500, makes an effort to put a spell on me. I check out the giving-is-better-than-getting-mood - but only for the Christmas Season! - and fulfill his dream: I write his name with "C" (you remember, we live in the quarter with many gay people, and Knut is a bit effeminate, even might insist soon on being called Trans-porter).
And no: the Christmas tree is still in the woods.

2. Buy a Christmas cactus. 
    (Never two: you might find it hard to use the plural)


©Brigitta Huegel


3. Take an evening bummel across the Ku'damm. 

©Brigitta Huegel

You see the smaller one of the two towers of Egon Eiermann, built 1957 as appendix to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächntiskirche, which was partly destroyed in World War II - they keep it that way to remind us.

©Brigitta Huegel


4. And then you can go to Käthe Wohlfahrt - a Christmas shop opened all year round. In the four years we are living here, I hadn't been in once - now I jumped inside (outside we had biting - 3° Celsius, so one can't be too choosy) - and almost suffocated:

©Brigitta Huegel

Sorry - I am not that needy for Christmas spirit - out! out! - it must be the Tower of Babel - so many international tongues, so many hands grabbing what they can get (I've nothing against Kitsch in small portions, it warms the heart - but this is too much for me).

Next time I might show you a few of the over 80 Christmas markets we have in Berlin - that might help even me to sing Jingle Bells....

PS: Hope nobody is offended by my little joke on C Knut - it is approved by my many gay friends who thought it witty.


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)