Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua! Fröhliche Ostern!

©Brigitta Huegel
Dear You, 
                                  Happy Easter! 
I told you that each Easter I draw or paint an egg. This year I choose a motive from Winnie-The-Pooh.
Pooh says:              "And that's that. What do we do next?"

Enjoy your holiday - whatever you do next!


Friday, 25 March 2016

Rituals and Renoir

Dear You,
I love rituals. (As long as they don't become obsessive).
Sometimes you have to change them - your son has grown-up and stubbornly refuses to run around and collect hidden Easter-eggs in your garden, aggrivated by the fact that you don't have a garden anymore.
Then there are family traditions that the next generation continues (hurray!): the special Biedermeier-Korinthenbrot (currant bread) I baked for Easter is baked by our son in Bavaria now.  

©Brigitta Huegel

Then there are rituals that stop because a person is no longer there. Very hard for the remaining ones. You have to invent something new, otherwise your heart may break. 
And then there are rituals that emerge by chance, or because you moved to another city. 
Since December I have that wonderful cinema-subscription, which I really use a lot. 
Every month on a Sunday at 11 o'clock they show a documentation about a painter. 
Today (Good Friday is an official holiday in Germany) I saw: 
"Exhibition on Screen - Barnes Foundation: Renoir - Revered and Despised." 
Very interesting - the "despised" refers to his late work, where he was obsessed with fat female buttoms (not utterly rare in old men :-). 
That he was all his life an awful convinced misogynist the critics had to tell me. Not that I care much - I look at his paintings, not the man. 
Well - and my new ritual is: 
after such a film documentation I go to the National Gallery (some days later). And look at the paintings they possess. They had one Goya. And they have three Renoirs (one photo from the catalogue you see above). 
And then I look with "different eyes". 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Nature's Jewellery

©Brigitta Huegel

©Brigitta Huegel

When I have time and the weather permits, I take the underground and soon arrive at Schloss Charlottenburg. Here I can walk through the beautiful Baroque Garden - the first in Germany, and copied from Versailles (I wrote about that in another blog post). And everytime I visit the little island, where, very hidden, you find the bust of Queen Luise of Prussia (1776 - 1810), wife of  King Wilhelm III.
Oh no, I'm not a "fan", far from it - though in her time she was so beloved by people that it was almost a cult - (you find justified critical voices too, one could discuss for hours) - but when I come to the bust I am only interested in the way some "fans" decorate her in accordance with the season. Above you see the "early spring-version" - here you see "summer":

©Brigitta Huegel

©Brigitta Huegel

©Brigitta Huegel

Monday, 21 March 2016

Perfect Stairs

©Brigitta Huegel

Yes - they do exist: perfect stairs! You can stride down in a majestic way - just in the middle of the red carpet, without having to look down anxiously or fumbling for the banister. You can hold your head up high and the imaginary train follows you lightly.
You find these stairs in Berlin's castles, or here in the photo in the Bode museum. Some are made from wood, some of marble
The steps are lower than in ordinary stairs - so the knees of old people would not ache, and the beautiful Ladies could make an exciting entrance.
I love to use them, very, very much - and I am angry with modern architects and builders: the knowledge how to do it is there - but greed and avarice hinders them to use such precious craftmanship.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Should I?

You should, articles in my free Facebook version of Psychology Today tell me, you should erase the word "should" from your mind - that would make life so much easier!
And this is the reason why I sit here in front of my computer (I should could do housekeeping instead, or finish my article on "Softly, Softly: Task Force Police" - but without the inner "should" I wouldn't. To me this "should" is at least as forceful as Mr. Barlow - not to speak of Chief Constable Arthur Cullen...) 
I was so happy that the BBC found - after many decades - quite a lot of the episodes and put them on DVD. I was a bit surprised when I saw it again - so very authoritarian, and the only female police constable so "fresh" and "girlish", that it made me wince. 
I was glad that PC Snow  (Terence Rigby) with his dog "Radar" was as gorgeous as I remembered him! 
Now I sit and think about Baden-Powell's quote of "Softly, softly, catchees monkey.
Meaning: No flurry - it will work out with patience. 
Are they talking about good housekeeping? 
But for that I have to/ should/ must  will get up first! 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Say it with flowers (the Courtesan's Way)

©Brigitta Huegel

As the weather is still cold and grey, my camellia sits on the balcony and sulks.
She wears cap and gloves, looks prim and tight lipped, and avoids eye-contact.
I say "Well, missus - than I will visit your sisters."
Meaning: I slip into the mollifying warmth of the conservatories of Berlin's Botanical Garden.

©Brigitta Huegel

The tropical hothouses I shun: too damp and oppressive the heat there - no, I'm definitely not made for a tropic life, no Qui-hi! for me - but the camellias' hothouse is kept at a pleasant temperature.
Of course: Like master, like man (you can confidently use the female form here): my cammellia and I thrive on praise, so I will tell my homely friend neither of the tallness nor the sheer abundance of red, pink or white blossoms there - it might discourage us her.
Did you know that the great botanist Carl von Linné 1753 gave that plant its name after the Czech
Jesuit Georg Joseph Kamel (1661 - 1706)?

©Brigitta Huegel

Camellias don't overpour you with scent - that's why Alexandre Dumas' "Lady of the Camellias" choose them (in real life she was Alphonsine Plessis) - and as most women she was multitasking: she wore a red camellia signaling her lovers: "Bad time - I'm menstruating" or white: "Hurray - the coast is clear!" 
Hope the weather permits my camellia to come out soon - being perfect the way we are, we walk on a confusing wild side.

©Brigitta Huegel

Friday, 11 March 2016

Just a few glimpses at male fashion...

Dear You, 
At the moment I have a great young man, 23, at my breakfast table: after his BA-exams the brother of our lovely daughter-in-love does a paid internship for 3 months at a highly prestigious corporate consulting firm. I say "breakfast table", because that is (mainly) the time when I see him. His working hours make me shudder - he seldom returns home before two or three o'clock in the morning - from work!!! Sometimes, as a professional career adviser - I discuss with him a thing that's called "A Life". 
We have a lot of fun.
Yesterday I showed him the up-coming fashion (always important for a rapid rise!)
"How do you like this?", I asked.

He didn't.
I mused about male models - these days they are as annorexic as their female counterparts (when I worked as a model, we were very slim, too - but healthy. At least the students among us).
This young man - and I did not change the angle of photography - makes me a bit jittery:
I am sorry to say that I would change the side of the street if I met him at midnight in a not well-lit street of Berlin-Neukölln.

 But then : without any fashion he looks quite nice. Almost vulnarable.

So: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As always.

PS: All photos are taken from the fashion-catalogue of the KaDeWe, Berlin

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Would you eat banana peel?

Jean-Pierre Weil

I read today that nutritionists - at least some of them - recommend to eat the banana with the peel. They argue:
"(The skin) contains high amounts of vitamin B6 and B12, as well as magnesium and potassium. It also contains some fiber and protein," San Diego-based nutritionist Laura Flores told LiveScience. 
People in India eat them with peel. Or so the scientist says.
I will not. I'll follow the monkeys, which do peel them. I mean: we live in the Chinese Year of The Monkey!
Instead I baked a delicious soufflé as side dish today:
"Cauliflower cheese with Lord Dalrymple's top" - no, not a Daisy Dalrymple mystery, but a real  Edwardian dish that I found in the highly recommendable "Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook" (a tip from Sue, whom I became friend with at Crete).
Yes - I ate my greens - and who will be over-anxious about that teeny-weeny bit of butter, cream, eggs and cheddar?
As for using banana peel --- well, I might be tempted to follow another tip:
"Add a few sclices of banana peel to a bucket of water and let the mixture sit for a couple of days. Use this to water your plants."
I might - as soon as I've found out how much "a few slices of banana peel" are.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Count Your Blessings.

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
Today I made the acquaintance of a very charming and witty Australian poet, just so, in the foyer of the Bode-Museum - we talked for more than an hour - it was so interesting that time flew by. (And as a surplus I learned to pronounce "Melbourne" the right way).
"Count your blessings", I thought (because the start of the day hadn't been that fine, with a bad letter I got) - "just open your eyes: good things and people are everywhere!"
Might even change my blog-title to "Count Your Blessings", I thought - but then, after some thinking and coming from a Holbein-exhibition, I told myself: "Don't!"
I didn't like the word "count" - after a while of counting I might become like The Merchant Georg Gisze, painted by Hans Holbein in 1532 - the merchant's portrait you see above as a big poster at the museum's side.
I will keep the title "Dear You!" - but IF I want to change anything, I might better choose this one:

©Brigitta Huegel
                                                "Genius of Abundance" (by Edme Bouchardon (1698 - 1762).
(Though I'm pretty sure I won't).

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Spring-Greed? Spring-Folly!

©Brigitta Huegel

Almost two weeks ago I suddenly thought: enough nostalgia about how lovely the big river "Elbe"  in Hamburg was - and how I jogged there, and had to go 120 steps down to reach the bank (and up, to reach our flat) - and enough about "more nature in Hamburg".
You know me a bit by now: If I can't get one thing, I shrug and think: "Other mothers have beautiful sons, too" (you say: "There are plenty of fish in the sea") - mean: I'll find an alternative in this big beautiful world.
And of course I did.
Not far away from our Berlin flat is the Tiergarten (long time ago the Kings hunted there, now we common mortals are allowed to stroll through it - and a lot of rabbits happily dance in front of us, being sure of their life!) It is huge -here you see about a qurter of it:

©Brigitta Huegel

OK - the 'river' you see above in the first photo is the Landwehrkanal - but inside the Tiergarten there are many lovely lakes:

©Brigitta Huegel

And suddenly - I was so surprised and not quick enough to take a photo - a kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) flitted past me!!!
I walked almost an hour. Spring signs everywhere (and today it will be far more advanced).

If you ask: why the "greed" in your header? I have to show you this:

©Brigitta Huegel

These seeds I grabbed greedily carefully and thoughtfully collected and brought home -
TYPICAL! (my father would say: Your eyes were bigger than your belly! (though only when my garden is concerned).
Come to think of it: I don't have a garden anymore.
I have a (big) BALCONY.
Want some of the hundreds of marigolds when they push through the earth of the boxes???