Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Sunday, 8 December 2013
When I move... house...
... When I switch to a totally new parfume (from 'Balenciaga' to 'Shalimar' now) ...
... When I buy a new hat -
all these are indicators that 'something is going on'. All three things together have happened now.
My friends wouldn't be astonished to hear that I moved again - one said to me in Hamburg, where we moved three times in six years, (and then to Berlin): 'My next present for you will be a subscription for a movers company'.
No - I only moved inside our big flat. Surprised Husband when he came back from university in Hildesheim: I had hired two men who secretly helped me with the big things like wardrobes, writing desks etc (though it still was a lot of work for me, how many tableware and glasses does a woman need?) - and now I am writing in the room with the three big bay windows, and Husband writes in the room opening to the balcony, (though I can still see our balcony from the chair where I sit reading).
As a teenager I was always fascinated by a line in a Thomas Mann short story, 'Tonio Kröger', where Tonio, a romantic youth with black curls and a mother who played the violin was deeply (and hopelessly) in love with the blond Hans, the model of a Northern German, said:
'But we are not gypsies in a green caravan, but respectable people, consul Kröger, the family of Krögers ... Quite often he also thought: But why am I so odd, being at variance with the teachers and alien among the other boys? Look at them, the bright pupils and those of solid mediocrity. (...) How orderly and approving with all and everyone they must feel! That must be good... But what about me, and how will all this go off?" (rough translation by me)
Well - how will all this go off? I mean: in my life. Oh no - don't fear - absolutely nothing dramatic has happened - it is more the feeling that I am entering another passage in my life soon. And not only because I have my birthday on December 29.
I need some time - Me-time - to sort all this out. Am a bit tired. Aimless. Not my true self.
So I will leave you for a while - but return, promised.
Next year :-)
(Ha - if you won't miss me you might even put me on your blog-lists - where I am very often not, a lot of you forgot to change that when I abandoned 'You are witty and pretty'. Don't miss my comeback!).
I will still translate a few poems on 'Britta's Happiness of the Day'.
And of course read your blogs.
So: I wish you all a Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year!
Friday, 6 December 2013
when I look out of my window I see big lumpy snowflakes dancing over the the whole street, and a very strong gale urges them to move quicker. Yes, Berlin has got its share of the hurricane 'Xaver' - though luckily not with those masses and masses of water Hamburg has to cope with.
Winter has arrived - outside you see only those who have business to do - meaning: dogs and their owners. Some cars.
I had a wonderful week with my friend, who visited me - meaning: we sport dark under-eye-circles, because we chatted far, far into each night. Meaning: wonderful new little restaurants were explored. Meaning: exhibitions, walks trough different Kieze (residential quarters) of Berlin, and beautiful shops. And cinema: we saw a hilarious new film - 'Fack ju, Göthe' - (yes, I think you will understand that - it is the German onomatapoetic way how a person who comes from what they nowadays call the 'educational alienated class' would write the four-letter-word and the name of our prince of poets) - in the newly reopened cinema at the Zoo, the famous Zoo Palast.
When we moved to Berlin three years ago, the Zoo Palast was hidden behind wooden panels - you see a section of it on the picture above that I took then (on tiptoes). It took 3 years to rebuild this jewel of the Fifties - which is soaked with film-history. Built in 1956 - though before it had started in 1915 - showing e.g. 1927 the first release of 'Metropolis'. Destroyed by bombs in 1943, then rebuilt and extended. From 1957 till 1999 it was the official contest cinema of the Berlinale - and has seen many famous film actors on its red carpet (e.g. Romy Schneider, Errol Flynn, Gina Lollobrigida, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sophia Loren, Jodie Foster, Tom Hanks, James Stewart).
About 4,4 millions Euro were invested into the completion of the new interior and building - the owner says: "Going to the movies shall become a celebration again. The Zoo Palace got back its soul by us."
7 cinema halls with (only) 1700 seats, meaning: enough room for long legs - you can almost lie on the comfy leather chairs! - and more than 100 employees, from the liveried (!) porters to the cloakroom attendants - everything in style and elegance. (Sorry that I didn't take pictures of the new glory that evening).
Ah - and hurray, hurray: the cinema is in a very, very nice walking distance to our flat!
So: if I am late with a new letter, dear, bear with me: I might be sitting in the palace, a princess lost in a new (or old) movie.
Thursday, 28 November 2013
I was happy this morning when I read Susan's comment:
"Oh dear Britta... Watch for your little green notebook of thoughts to become a best seller. A quote or two within will touch the heart of the hardened thief and bring him to write and right! Well... Maybe! I am so sorry for your trouble and aggravation. I hope all is sorted out. Warm thoughts to you...Susan"
Which was a consolation, and reminded me that I wanted to write letters to you, instead 'Waffle on Raffle'. (Proudly slap my back for that one, haha).
So I'll start anew.
When I stared into my handbag yesterday and could not find my purse, I knew that very moment it had been nicked. I can't say why, but I knew. Not a nice feeling - (though interesting that the first and only time it happened before, long ago, there I had felt a cold grip at my heart - this time I was shocked, but not horrified. Rod Stewart might be right - "The First Cut is the Deepest")
Shocked I was yesterday - not only because I had quite a lot of money in my purse, not only because I thought of the legwork I will have to do, but because someone had entered my privacy - (and sorry to say: in the spectrum of characteristics I am in many items far on the alpha male side - though not my legs, thank you very much :-) - so maybe the Tao wants to teach me a Lesson to work on: getting mellow while ripening...
So: shock first, anger later. (Mellow, girl, mellow!)
Anger at myself - normally I am quite careful (not cautious or anxious): and I took my handbag with me when I went to order the coffee in the Coffee Shop. But then the room was so crowded, and the armchairs so small (now we have our winter coats and caps and scarves and gloves to put somewhere - and no cloakroom, of course. We all sit with our mugs in all that clutter and try not to dribble the cappuccino on it...
Till then the day had been so nice, though hectic: I had not only managed to wrap 24 little packages for Son and daughter-in-love (thank you again, Susan, for this wonderful word I learned from you!). You know: each year something deeply mysterious happens when I try to discuss abolishing Advent calenders : my children have fallen into the Fountain of Youth - are twelve years old again and thus need it - so I collect the items over the year (and love it)... Yesterday I had also baked my 'Ultimate Brownies' - I do that only once a year (Lesson: make something rare, and people long for it...)
But I disgress:
after the post office, I lunched with a friend in a little Italian restaurant, then in the Coffee Shop we chatted, forgetting the rest of the world.
But into that cold world I was brought back with a bump - nothing is perfect (for long).
Being one who tries to see the silver lining, I think now: Good that I took the more expensive dinner - and Had-I-But-Known I would have ordered champagne.
Drawing a more general lesson from that: shouldn't we always? Order champagne? But you and I know: then there would be no money left for Advent calenders, postage stamps, or brooms - which reminds me, my dear, that I will now tidy and clean our flat - I want to restore order where I have control... (Stop that smart-alecky sniggering, dust bunnies!)
And you, Dear You: have a beautiful day - and clutch your hand bag, as Moomin Mama always does!
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
well: I'm glad they left me the key to our flat (Hans is in Hildesheim, teaching at university) - and also, quite astonishingly: my expensive smartphone (must have got to the ground of my handbag).
So I could use the phone to ring the bank to ban two cheque cards of mine. I could use the phone to ban the season ticket of the underground. I could use my phone to speak to the local administration to get an appointment for December 4th, to make an application for a new ID card AND a new driver's licence - and hurray: in about six weeks after that maybe I'll get a new ID card/ driver license.
To stress the silver lining: by now I am an expert in popular music - dideldidum, dideldidum - which I was forced to listen to while waiting to get my calls through (and to add insult to injury: they take money for those minutes and minutes you wait! "Sorry, all our employees are busy at the moment" - I bet: the one poor guy who is the whole staff needs the soothing tones while looking in horror at sixty-two telephones ringing at once...)
Can you imagine that under the emergency number of the bank they first play a few advertisements??
Maybe we should suggest that to the police too: "Oh, they threaten your life? May we offer you a course in self-defense for the next time (if there is a next time, hahaha - if not: do you want the number of a flourishing undertaker?" Dideldidum, dideldidum - or even better: "Plum, plum trallala" as Jean-Paul Belmondo so stubbornly sang when put under water in "Breathless" by Jean-Luc Godard) If you only rapport petty theft, the living person at the end of the phone - yes, there was one - suggests the Internet to you.
You see: I'm angry. Of course a bit at myself: I was sitting in a coffee shop in Berlin, which was quite crowded, and talked with a friend. Saw, that two men (oh, in Germany we have to be so overly political correct - Where Angels Fear to Tread - who didn't look quite like the typical blond-curled Bavarian German) sat first there - without coffee - than there - without coffee - and I know that I thought: "Strange - maybe they are just looking for a better place?"
They found it - one of them, the other stood in the middle of the room - just beside Silly Me. When in the fitness center, which is only three houses further up the road, a little bit later I wanted to present my member card, it wasn't there. Nor my purse.
It took a few seconds to sink in. I went back. Nobody had noticed anything - how could they, when even I hadn't noticed anything? (Though it is absolutely clear what and when it happened and by whom - no mistake in that. Had the purse to buy the coffe, and only one other person than my friend came near me). There are a lot of errands I have to do now (wish they had kept the money, Merry Christmas, but returned the cards).
What interests me: what will the thieves do with my little notebook, clad in lime-green silk, which they nicked too? Learn the elaborate quotes by heart, and the lines I've written in it??
Or maybe write their first "Gentleman Thief novel"?
I always preferred detective novels. Always.
Give me one Inspector Morse for three Raffles.
Britta (starring in 'Purseless in Berlin')
Monday, 25 November 2013
yes: winter stretches out his icy hands, touches my flowers on the balcony, and they shiver - so I will have to put them on the balcony floor, put little wool caps and balaclava helmets (I always wanted to use this word, balaclava, at least once in my life) on their green coiffures and put them at rest.
Wish the same for my heart - must be in some sort of crisis, all circumstantial evidence seem to indicate that. (As a story teller I will keep the arc of suspense till my next post)
But it is Monday (a day of the week I'm utterly in love with - I know, I know, most people aren't and they write hateful songs about it - but not me: I love vigorous starts, even if only imagined, love the freshness and the possibilities of the first of seven days lying promisingly and glittering ahead of me).
And I love to laugh: in a not-mocking, yes I can say: here in an admiring way. I love the following video (you need a bit of patience, as for most good things). Those Russians know how to help themselves - in a sort of crisis they don't sit around and moan: they have bright ideas and the will to act - that is the right spirit!
In this sense I wish you a beautiful, sparkling week!
Saturday, 23 November 2013
yes - trust your eyes: I remembered!
Remembered - (in the back of my head I hear a song "Try to remember the kind of September/ when life was slow and oh, so mellow. ... and if you remember then follow, follow, follow me..." - - who sang that? Ah, yes - Barry McGuire - honestly, till this moment I didn't think of this chap for decades!) - I mean, suddenly (suddenly?? It took me a whole year!) I remembered why I had changed my flourishing blog "You are Witty and Pretty" to pining away "Berlin Letters".
I wanted a bracket, a brace or a staple to give my
So in that year dot I made up my mind to write letters to you, Darlin'.
Tentatively I started out with "Dear" - as you'll still find in my comments to your adorable posts - but that sounded so very old-fashioned to me. I KNOW that 'Darling' might be even more old-fashioned, and if for a second I would believe that you associate it with "Dear Darling", that song by Olly Murs, I would be ashamed to use it - I mean: that song has a way to worm its way into your brain - and the only way to delete it that I know is to watch the silly video on Youtube: Olly is a pretender, my dear girl: I think it right to warn the young ones among you, though I know this sort of warning is utterly in vain - never has the warning of a well-meaning experienced (much nicer than 'older') friend (the futility is expressed in the word 'well-meaning' - we all know that it means: completely without effect) - kept a hot-blooded girl from running into - now this might surprise you: JOY (you expected: unhappiness, didn't you?). I found out, till this very day, that it is a good thing to follow your impulses/intuition. (Well, a bit of thinking in advance doesn't hurt). In the Threepenny Opera our poet Bertold Brecht wrote the beautiful Barbara's Song (part here roughly translated by me):
And if he has money, and if he is nice, and his collar is clean even on workdays,
and if he knows how to behave with a lady, then I say to him: “No.”
Then one keeps one's head up, and stays in the most general sense.
Sure, the moon shines the whole night,
sure, the boat is tied up at the bank,
but nothing more will happen.
Well, you know, one can't just lie down, one has to be cold and heartless.
Yes, so much might happen, but alas, there is only a: No!
NO! But that other chap - no clean shirt, even on Sundays...
Well, I seem to digress (a speciality of mine).
What I mean is: how come that I forgot about writing you letters?
In real life I write a lot of them - some even on paper, though most of them as emails now - and I love to receive them. Think with glee of the postman in Hamburg, who once rang at my door and delivered a very special postcard personally, saying: "I had to see the woman who gets such postcards!" (it happened four years ago - he must have read it - or at least looked at the front side - postmen are not the same any more in Germany since they lost their status as civil servants...).
And so I dare to be as daring as him, and write egocentric (yes, I know myself by now) rambling letters to you again, Darlin', and I hope that you like it and join in with Barry McGuire,
"and follow, follow, follow me..."
Thursday, 14 November 2013
Today I want to share an article from The Guardian with you - because I really got furious when I read it (and it is absolutely irrelevant whether you are 48 or 60: the Vogue speaks of women over 30!). I'm not a subscriber of 'Vogue' - which I regret, because otherwise I could unsubscribe now.
"...it appears that Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue, feels that elderly women trying to be fashionable are "slightly ridiculous and absolutely hideous" (When fashion ends at 30, G2, 5 November). !
from this I quote: "Shulman, who says: "I don't think people do really want to look at older women as … exemplars of fashion and beauty." Why? Because they would look not only "slightly ridiculous" but "absolutely hideous". Vogue may talk about older women, but it doesn't show them. Older for Vogue means over 30."
I cannot imagine that any woman, being a few days over thirty, will support that magazine.
This was the link that made me find the insult:
Monday, 11 November 2013
At the moment I'm writing an essay about the garden of Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin.
I read a lot about this theme complex (even, for the first time in my life, an 'historical novel' about Sophie Charlotte (1668 - 1705), who begged for this garden - quite amusing to see that King Friedrich I. ('Sloping Fred') always sent her a mounted messenger with a red velvet cushion when he wanted to visit her in a special mission.
But I digress. What I will write about is my discovery that sometimes you only see something when someone else has mentioned it. At least I. How many times I have been in that park, looking attentively, always joyous because its very special width has a betwitching impact on the light; the beautiful canvas of the sky often gives his performance as Italian light blue charmer.
But never had I discovered the bust of Queen Luise (not even, I am ashamed to confess, the little Luisen-island, which 1799 was ordered by King Friedrich Wilhelm III - and when I finally found it, it took my three visits till I discovered the bronze bust - very well hidden behind a sitting place with benches and bushes). This confession will make the ardent worshippers of Queen Luise hoot with derisive laughter. Oh yes, she still has a wide group of devotees (one is an aquaintance of ours, living in Hannover, whose house is brimming over with very precious antique devotional objects - a bit surprising to me, but very charming).
But back into the park: I learned that sometimes one has to know what to look for - only then you will follow your quest and not despair till you find it, knowing in your heart: it must be there!
As it was. Added by a big surprise: somebody had adorned it!
That devotion - so simple, but so gorgeous! - brought a smile to the somewhat sad features of the queen.
And it was done with style, simplicity and a keen sense of beauty.
Sunday, 10 November 2013
When I read Sapphire's lovely post about 'Cosmos flowers and the Kururi Line', I promised in my comment to show a few photographs of 'Molly', which I took in Heiligendamm.
Tetchan, I learned from Sapphire, are Japanese rail fans.
In 1886 Friedrich Franz III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, granted a concession to build a narrow-gauged rail, which run from Bad Doberan to Heiligendamm, first only in summer. Later they enlarged the route and even added freight traffic to Rostock, which was not a success because of its narrowness, so they gave that up in 1969. 13 trains a day were driving.
Today it is still used, in high season at hourly intervals, otherwise every two hours, driving between Bad Doberan via Baltic Spa Heiligendamm (where it became famous at the G8 summit, being the only medium of transport for the journalists) to the Baltic Spa Kühlungsborn.
It is called 'Molli' now (but the gender is male, it is surprisingly 'der Molli', a HIM).
Thursday, 7 November 2013
Not what you (might) think (though: why not? As my statistic shows, I have the 'one-and-only-pleasure seekers' in great numbers on my blog, not as followers but in an explicit audience-address at stats, can't get rid of it)
No, I'm speaking of how to make the most out of something. Out of Everything.
Example: my balcony.
A friend of mine sent me an email last week - she was busy to winterise her balcony. With blankets and foil - the whole program.
"But my roses are still blooming", I said. "And my other flowers too. So why should I?"
To cut a pleasure "to be prepared" is in my eyes such a waste!
Of course, if I still were a gardener, I would start by now in the very last edge, but I have only a big balcony now, I have the weather forecast, and I have strong arms to rush out when frost is sneaking up at the walls of our house. "Don't be such wimps!" I'll shout at my roses, "in real life instead of such a sheltered home as here you will be able to endure those little frosty tweaks!" I might even read to them the chapter out of Saint-Exupéries 'The Little Prince', (no, not the worn thin 'heart thing') to show them that I see through their ridiculous prim affected behaviour...
Pleasure - my big theme at the moment.
We are so short of really enjoying pleasure, I think.
I have a DVD with a beautiful film of Emir Kusturica - Black Cat, White Cat - skip the advertisement and please, please have a look at it, it is such a wonderful film! (Here they put English subtitles underneath, but I think there exists a synchronised English version)
As I wrote to a young German friend about his film 'Danube Sounds' yesterday:
"... I love their equanimity and their zest for life, the modesty and the pride about the own accomplishments. It doesn't matter whether the trousers leg has a rip: those people live! (...) They do something with their own hands - this seems to be important to me: if you have to produce something for your own life, it makes you vivid, and proud - here at home they often buy one meagreness after the other, but that doesn't fill their souls, bores them soon, and has to be replaced quickly."
No - you don't see me running for the 'simple' or 'better' life, I am not one in social romanticism - but I try to bring pleasure into my life by doing and enjoying things.
Can you imagine: in a survey of a big German health insurance people complained about stress, stress, stress - that might be so, though I bet the generation of my parents had a lot more stress - but when you scrutinised the answers: they counted cooking as stress! Gardening, cleaning the house, looking after their children: stress!
I think we need a lot of rethinking here.
This morning, when I woke up, I felt the wonderful warmth of my eiderdown, listened to the drops of rain that clonked on the metal windowsill, lolled and thought:
"What a wonderful world. Thank you!"
PS: Of course now all the sourpussies of the world will tell me that it is not the norm to have an eiderdown, or even to have a roof over my head - I know that, thank you very much, but hey: this is my life - the only one I got - and I am thankful for that! At least I appreciate it - and I think that is quite a lot.
PPS: If you wonder about the photograph: it is so weird: I took away a sedum which stood in a darker corner beside that draggon - and one stalk tore off - and when I looked at it, three months later: it was still as fresh as a daisy! It is making the most of it, I bet.
Friday, 1 November 2013
Now I want to introduce to you some musicians who were with me on that narrowboat.
Above: Look at the drummer Raphael Kaletta of 'Cats and Breakkies': he was our youngest crew member.
And if I were more technically versed, I could give you a glimpse of a big project he is involved in, but I can't, so please look this up:
This is so fantastic - here you also see 'our' drummer in a road movie record on a beautiful DVD - they play music with many different bands all along the Danube river.
He also plays in a Jazz-Trio Ponciana
Another musician is Chris Alastair, here a song from one of his DVDs, 'Putty in your hands':
And our captain, Matti Mueller, who "is" three bands:
"Trouble at the Mill", "The Milltones" and "The Madrigal Minstrel Four"
Here is his homepage:
first click on the band you want to hear, than: music.
All these musicians are doing their own thing - on the boat it was just a friendly meeting, with three other musicians (a French saxophone player; a singer, and an English guitar player - but I could not find their DVDs).
So much fun to have them on that boat!
Thursday, 31 October 2013
The last day of October - might I send you a postcard to Halloween?
"Isn't it weird?", asked husband - who is a connoisseur of many things, but not of nature's wild life, "that today I still saw a swallow in the backyard?"
Weird indeed - because it was a sweet little bat - fluttering in her inimitable soft-hectic loudless way through the twilight.
Are you in the mood already? Or are you like the youngest son in Grimm's fairy tale: "Von einem, der auszog, das Fürchten zu lernen", "The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear"?
A father had two sons. The oldest one was clever and intelligent, and knew how to manage everything, but the youngest one was stupid and could neither understand nor learn anything. When people saw him, they said, "He will be a burden on his father!"
Now when something had to be done, it was always the oldest son who had to do it. However, if the father asked him fetch anything when it was late, or even worse, at night, and if the way led through the churchyard or some other spooky place, he would always answer, "Oh, no, father, I won't go there. It makes me shudder!" For he was afraid.
In the evening by the fire when stories were told that made one's flesh creep, the listeners sometimes said, "Oh, that makes me shudder!" The youngest son would sit in a corner and listen with the others, but he could not imagine what they meant.
"They are always saying, 'It makes me shudder! It makes me shudder!' It does not make me shudder. That too must be a skill that I do not understand."
May I help you? Learning that skill?
As I love the poems of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797 - 1848), and couldn't find a translation, I did (roughly - come on, we have Halloween - and I have to get that damned bat out of my hair!) one for you:
Der Knabe im Moor The Lad in the Moor
O schaurig ist's übers Moor zu gehn, Oh it is scary to walk through the moor,
Wenn es wimmelt vom Heiderauche, When it seethes with heather smoke,
Sich wie Phantome die Dünste drehn When phantom-like the vapours twirl
Und die Ranke häkelt am Strauche, And the bine crochets at the shrub,
Unter jedem Tritt ein Quellchen springt, Under each step a tiny fountain wells up,
Wenn aus der Spalte es zischt und singt, When from the crack it hisses and sings,
O schaurig ist's übers Moor zu gehn, Oh scary it is to walk through the moor,
Wenn das Röhricht knistert im Hauche! When the reeds rustle in the breeze!
Fest hält die Fibel das zitternde Kind Firmly the shuddering child clutches his primer,
Und rennt, als ob man es jage; And runs as if it he is hunted;
Hohl über die Fläche sauset der Wind - Hollowly the wind swishes over the land -
Was raschelt da drüben am Hage? What fissles over there at the grove?
Das ist der gespenstische Gräberknecht, That is the spooky grave-servant,
Der dem Meister die besten Torfe verzecht; Who boozes away the Master's best peat;
Hu, hu, es bricht wie ein irres Rind! Whew, whew, something breaks forth like a freakish ox!
Hinducket das Knäblein zage. Despairingly the little lad ducks down.
Monday, 28 October 2013
"Being determines consciousness" says the popular version of a quote by Karl Marx (the original is: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness").
Well, who am I to question that - but humbly I annotate an observation of mine, where the opposite seemed to have happen - vice versa, so to speak:
Husband worked so long and intensely on his paper about LUXURY (of all people: him -- he is the most modest man I know...) that the topic might have crept in unnoticed.
Whatsoever: as compensation for my lovely narrow boat trip that I did on my own, he booked a 4 day-trip to the Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm. Five stars.
Yes - THE one. Where in 2007 the 33rd G8-summit took place - with Angela Merkel, Sarkozy, Putin, Prodi, Blair and so on.
As the stuff is absolutely discreet, I could only allure a hint of a nod when asking if we had Mr. Putin's suite - and maybe I even imagined the nod :-)
It was absolutely gorgeous. Luxury at its best - even the weather!
Heavenly breakfast in heaven (the same room for dinner).
A terrace, and a vast lawn with silvery teak tables with starched linnen and heavy silver tableware that made me think of a picture in the old film version of Galsworthy's 'Forsyte Saga", and we could look from at the turquoise Baltic Sea.
On the right a huge foundling with an inscription -
"Between 1793 - 1870, the master builders Johann Christoph Heinrich von Seydewitz, Carl Theodor Severin and Gustv Adolph Demmler created a unique classical complete work of art out of bathing and guesthouses. In 1823, the first racing track on the European continent was officially opened bewtween Heiligendamm and Doberan and with it came the foundation of German horse racing. (...)
Since its foundation, Heiligendamm has been the most elegant seaside health resort in Germany. The highest ranks of the European nobility, including the Tsar's family, spent their summer holidays here. (...). In society of that time it was a must to have been there at least once in one's life." (Hotel brochure)
Beautiful, beautiful - and now we have been there :-)
But I have to confess: though I really, really enjoyed being pampered: this is not the way I would want to live forever. After a very short time I would feel -- immobilized - aimless - childlike. And that's definitely not the way I want to live.
With 17 I won a Highschool poetry contest with my recitation of Charles Baudelaire's poem 'L'Invitation au Voyage' - and the refrain was:
"Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté
Luxe, calme et volupté."
(There all is order and beauty/ Luxury, silence and voluptuousness). Well, except the last point that would get on my nerves after a while, I think.
To quote my friend Stephen (Russel): "... it is the mess of it that makes it glorious - and so are you: glorious."
Nothing to add.
Sunday, 27 October 2013
"Would you have married me if I had looked like this?" asked my father, and distorted his face to a horrible sight.
"No", my mother cooly answered.
Well - I remembered this incident ("No real love!" my father said and grinned), while sitting in the train from Berlin to Bremen via Hamburg. To Hamburg it takes two hours.
The train was too late (as often), but I found a good seat and started to write.
"RRRR - mmh - rrrgrrr - mm", it started two rows behind me.
Not a dog - a man. Harrumphing. And it didn't stop.
For two minutes: silence, then it started again:
"RRR - mmmmmm - rrrrgchck."
A man with a vocal tic in his chest. Horrible.
I took my I-pod. It blarred "LUCILLE!" into my ears, or "Highway to Hell" - but "Rrrrr - mmk - mmk - rrrrgk" - clear and loud. (My ears started to hurt, and I didn't know whether it was the music or the tic).
I tried it with ear plugs -
"mmm rrrgk mmchmm rurg..."
It wasn't a cough, and it wasn't temporarily. It was a habit, a tic.
So I put my pen down. Took my jacket. Went into another coach. Found a good seat. Placed my jacket - went back, fetched my suitcase and LEFT. Sometimes you have to.
Now I sit here and all is fine.
(The woman three seats behind me only rasps every 20 minutes - that is OK! )
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Today only a 'quickie', I'll travel to Bremen tomorrow and still haven't packed.
When we stopped our narrowboat in Devizes, I had the chance not only to view the impressing Norman church tower and a beautiful medieval house (and the brewery Wadworth, of course), but also the 'Flea Market & Collector's Fair', and as always I bought what I liked. The picture above shows a daintily etched cat - beautifully framed by the artist herself. (The colours are more beautiful than here). It is no. 38/75 of "Catnap." Signature: "S. Caines".
On the back of the frame I found Susan Caines old address and telephone number in Bristol.
"Well", I thought, "I like it. It costs less than a coffee in a coffee shop. If it is worthless, it doesn't matter: I will hang it as a signal that I take just that: "A catnap" (which I seldom do).
At home I learned that Susan Caines belongs to the 'Bath Society of Artists' .
In 1995 was elected a member of the Royal West of England Academy of Art and in 1999 was given a show at the R.W.A Galleries. At around this time became a member of the Bath Society of Artists. Moved from Bristol to Brighton in 1995.
Exhibited at International Art Fairs, the R.W.A., Royal Academy of Art London. The Discerning Eye London, Brighton Art Fair, Brighton Festival. Work shown by The Ainscough Contemporary Art London. Lena Boyle Fine Art London. The R.W.A. Bristol, the Alpha House Gallery. Sherborne Dorset. Currently showing at The Russel Gallery, Putney, London. Ainscough Fine Art London and Rob Whittle Gallery Moseley Birmingham.
Solo Exhibitions: (I'll skip them, if interested, please look at http://www.bsartists.co.uk/artists/susan_caines/susancainesthumbs.htm
And the second thing I found (beside beautiful old postcards from British parks) are these:
There were 100 of free woven silk flowers - given as a free gift of in the 1930's with Kensitas Cigarettes. I bought these above (put them here on a paper) on the cheap.
Sometimes I surprise myself by my strange actions: imagine: I, as a true lover of flowers - I could have bought about 40 different designs. And what did this women do? Well - you might notice that I brag sometimes (wait for my next post!) - but deep inside I
am was a shy person, and modest (don't give a snigger!). So I thought: I cannot be greedy. Others will enjoy them too. I'll take the three I like best. That's it.
And that was it. (We had a car! I had the money! But no...)
End of the story.
And I love them dearly: so beautiful.
Almost No remorse.
Sunday, 20 October 2013
Sitting on a wooden teak bench, aged to silver, which is put into a balcony on the long pier of Heiligendamm, I look at the turquoise waves flowing deep under me. The ripples make me a bit giddy, and the Universal Dinner Lady, the Tao, asks me to dance.
The waves roll onto the white sand of the shore, the evening sun glistens on the salty water, a direct stream of silvery light is flowing towards me. I'm coming, my love, eternity, Tao, I'm here.
Many years I got it wrong:
I thought of what I wanted, tried to force it, planned and pushed - eagerly and impatient, single-minded and focussing all my will-power into one direction.
Now I still have a special dream, a very concrete aim - but I give it up to her, the Universal Dinner Lady. I tell her what I want to have on my plate - but then, after I have turned it over to her (we shoot the arrow diligently, the rest is not in our power) - I start to look at HER:
She is here. Now.
Her silk robe of Baltic Sea Water, dark blue at the horizon, changing into forget-me-not blue, periwinkle, turquoise, very light blue again and then dark green. The silver of the sun is gleaming at her throat, she murmurs, open her arms - the dance begins.
Waves are our orchestra, cormorans open their wings in bizzare rectangles -- black shadows crotcheting black lace at the seam of her dress. The beeches, her burning copper blond hair - ebb and tide - the dance go on.
The DANCE with her is the important part - not the aim that I strive for -- (though I believe she will offer it to me, being in such a splendid mood now).
But wether she does or not: it really doesn't matter.
It really doesn't matter (in the end).
What really matters is to DANCE with her.
Saturday, 12 October 2013
Thank you for being so patient (in the meantime husband and I have done a wonderful four-days-trip to the Baltic Sea) - now our engineer has solved the fire-alarm problem: he simply removed the batteries.
Silence is golden...
Though life on the canal is quite busy, sometimes: a lot of boats are moving up and down the canal: they have to - nowadays you are not allowed to stay longer than 14 days in a place.
Different canals have different energies - and different people. Our canal, Bradford-on-Avon towards Bath and then Devizes - and back - was the way to Enlightenment, populated by a lot of esoterics.
There were people who lived on their boats for years, boats with tourists, boats with cats, with single persons, couples, daughters with aged mothers, and if a crank had lost his crank, we helped.
We saw precious boats (designed to the proud owner's wishes, for 110 000 Pounds), we saw normal boats which, used, were offered for about 42 000 Pounds - but then, if you keep your eyes open, you might even find a real steal:
What impressed me?
- fog on evening meadows
- dew drops in the morning
- the changing 'typical' English scenery
- the friendliness of the English people
- the 16 locks of Devizes - but they are worth a post of their own
- and, of course, my best beloved Real English Ale:
And I learned: Sometimes a woman at work is deeply misunderstood: when I for the first time steered the boat, and warbled away this sweet Moomin-quote:
'Look out for sand banks,' shouted Hodgskin. 'I want to try one. To test the hinge-and-wheel construction' ,
the two fellows of my crew got the impression that I was not doing a scientific experiment but was a damsel in distress landing on a sand bank - well, well, well - A prophet has no honour in his own
- BUT I have a lot of energy, and I will never forget the face (in a distance, about 22 m apart from me) of Captain Matti, who sung soft sweet tones at the bow of our boat, and his guitar gently wept ... and I still steered, and then I accelerated, and I DID IT MY WAY - I aroused them and rocked the boat. Till then Matti didn't know me well, so he had to learn that I "never ever do nothing nice and easy / I always do it nice and rough
I hope he has recovered from his shock and will forgive me - and, most important - will take me again to the English canals!
Friday, 4 October 2013
'My houseboat,' Hodgkins said.
'Your what?' I asked.
'Houseboat,' Hodgskin repeated. 'A house built aboard a boat. Or a boat built beneath a house. You live aboard. Nice and practical.'
Tove Jansson, The Exploits of Moominpappa
Yes, I'm back, my friends, but not quite - still walking a little bit above the ripple of water and waves (and fine English Ale).
Though a houseboat is not as contemplative as everybody predicts.
I didn't write a line, I didn't draw even one picture, I didn't read anything.
I just WAS. THERE. In the very moment.
(You had to be - otherwise you would bump your head at the beam of the small entrance door, or trip over the kerb of the boat - and the water in the canal was looking not that inviting...)
Now I'll give you a super-boat-trip-recipe:
- up to 10 people (best when some children are among them, for a while)
- travel (Holly Go)lightly
- bring a little bit of sunshine with you
- though no driver's licence is needed (why should you? The narrowboat is only about 72 feet (= 22m) long, so who cares?) - it is good to have a person who has done it before - we all accepted our captain Matti - and in the best of all possible worlds he will - as he is - also be a connoisseur of beers - Real English Ale - fruity beers, spicy beers, soft beers, and wild beers (I'll come to that point later, Yours Truly announces with the Cheshire cat's grin on her face.)
- You know you are among the chosen few if you have some excellent guitar players among you, a sweet ukelele, a spectacular drummer, a great saxophonist and some singers - solo singers and background singers, all are welcomed - THEN THE BOAT WILL ROCK!
We had all we needed: a tiny kitchen,
beds, two toilets and one shower (but let's keep quiet about the hair"blower", which got its "energy" from a car cigar jack...). Though I saw an alternative offer on the canal,
I decided to go to a solid hairdresser in Devizes.
- and we had pubs (which the French friends on the boat called in their charming French accent "pöb" (as the 'ö' in 'further') -- and for the rest of my life I will always be much more drawn into a 'pöb' than a 'pub'.
All along the canal they invited us: open doors, fancyful decorated, and offering the widest variety of Real English Ale.
- And the landscape: you sit and look at the meadows that slowly slide by your side, the cows look dreamily back, the swans and ducks follow your boat, and the boat people-neighbours are oh so friendly.
But life isn't - as every Wayward Taoist knows - only milk and honey - it is Yin and Yang: meaning: locks and swing-bridges.
Locks are very, very hard work (as I learned on that day when we were only three people) - after 7 locks I and my knee knew what we had pushed (and please remember: I am the woman who in the fitness studio proudly pushes easily over 140 pounds on the leg press...)
First you have to open the lock gates, klink, klink, klink, then the narrowboat enters (did I tell you that it is 22 meters long? A normal lock is 22m and 10 cm long - you just fit in). Then one has to close both sides of the lock gates again - the water rushes in (All windows and doors closed?!?)
To prepare breakfast in the morning for ten people is a challenge - one of us even made "French toast" twice, joyously accompanied by the shrill F sharp major of the fire alarm.
While you are anxiously waiting if our maritim engineer (we really had one among us!) will find a way to stop that infernal alarm shreeks, I use this thrilling moment to take a little break - see you soon.
To be continued.