Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Sports-minded (sort of...)

A bicycle helmet is seldom looking "smart casual" - and being vain the only way to console myself is: A head bandage doesn't look neither very elegant  :-)

Once upon a time, I was biking Then, a long time ago, I stopped. (The reasons are too complicated to explain here).

But you might know the old saying:

                                                When in Rome, do as the Romans do! 

So, when you are visiting the Netherlands, you might be well advised to cycle too - they do it from the day they can stand on their own two feet. They call it "fietsen", and they look adorable doing it - often you see two or three meisjes (their girls) in a group, chatting cheerfully while biking, but also quite old people peddle determinedly against the strong wind.

They have enviable bikeways (not as in Berlin, where we had this year alone - from January 2020 to end of May - 7 dead bikers - which is "better" than in 2000, where there were 89! - but then: in the Corona-month there weren't many cars driving, streets empty - and we haven't even spent half of the year). I might sound a bit gloomy, but I thought of them when I started biking again, the day before yesterday.

But: I am courageous. I rented a bike - and bought a helmet. The bike-brand is called "Gazelle" -

though neither the bike nor I on it looked gazelle-like (me running: yes. Me on a bike yesterday: definitely not. When my late father thought that someone did something ungraceful, he murmured: "Like an ape on a grindstone").

I have to admit: I was afraid! For me the big black, heavy bicycle was not easy to ride or direct. To get up: Phew! To go on: Whew! 
But I didn't give up - I practised (4th gear on a long even road :-)

And: Skill comes with practise. 
                                                       I hope it will...

PS: Have you tried to enliven an old skill lately? Tell me, please, to cheer me up.

Monday, 18 May 2020

An English Rose

photo Britta

My beautiful lovely scented rose, "Gertrude Jekyll" is blooming on my balcony - I am so happy! 
My young student friend Gvantsa said dreamily: "That way our roses in Georgia (Europe) smell."

This rose needs no explanation. For her it is true what Getrude Stein wrote. 

                                         "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

photo Britta 

Did you know that in the genome of a rose exists a gen that decides how many petals the bloom will have?
It is called LG3. If you deactivate this gen the bloom becomes as thick as the bloom of a peony - the absolute record in rose-petals, I read in the German newspaper WamS, reached a rose with deactivated LG3 with 517 petals!
In the EU it is forbidden to use GM technology - even in ornamental-plant-selective breeding.

Good so - Gertrude Jekyll, the stern Victorian gardener, might have said.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Outings for the Soul

photo: Britta 

I bought this charming diary (or do you call it an appointment book?) in another life - before Corona.

We were visiting Erlangen in Bavaria - and in a fabulous bookstore I saw it - well, it was already March and of course I had already a "real" day planner - but this was so different, so lovely: inside were many sketches in Fifties style (you can guess that by the polka-dots) - and the price was reduced.

If you want something, you'll find a reason why you need it. 

Or maybe I should say: if I want something I'll find a reason why I NEED it.

Ratio says: "My, my, my - you are reading books about how to throw away all the clutter, how to become a minimalist - really: you are mad!" 
Body says: "Hey, you already have a lot of luggage, think of your back!" 
But Soul pleads: "It is soooo lovely! Inside that shade of very pale pink, just a hue of pink - and those sketches, and wise sayings... I will use it as a diary for "Outings for my Soul".

If you wonder what I'm speaking of:
I had noticed (before I saw this diary!) that I have a tendency to make long To-Do-Lists and work most points off diligently - but as the list is often very long I seldom reach those points that are "merely amusing". Like drawing, reading that profound article in the Sunday paper - pleasant things which I call "Outings for the Soul" which often have to wait a long time because there are those more important adult things like ironing.   :-)

So it was crystal clear that I needed that diary to put down - for every day - which morsels of fun would nourish my soul: a beautiful picture in a gallery, the glittering water of the Spree in front of the colossal Bode-Museum or a little French tartlet with glistening red strawberries.

Well, Leela laughed (the concept of Leela I will explain another time).
Because when I came back to Berlin and started to fill - with my beautiful pen that you see in the header of my blog - and in lilac ink - all those ravishing little things I wanted to do next week -

                                                        Corona struck the whole world.

                                                    Agendas closed. Nothing. Nada.

Well, I am exaggerating, but that what writers do - of course now I had lots of time to draw, (but strangely no time to read that serious article, how come?    :-)  so: I do not complain.
I picked up other morsels to feed my soul - the flowers on my balcony, the birds that come to it to drink water, and so on.

                       But you might agree: I didn't need a polka-dot diary for that. 

Monday, 11 May 2020

World Wide Web

"You cannot read all day long" says this poster at our "Berliner Festspiele" house, near to my home - in normal times they do literary festivals, theater, comedies and so on.
Here they protest that politicians overlooked the importance of culture, because when Covid-19 was discussed other groups were more important, or louder.

I could not write (or read your articles) for quite a long time: I was - fit as a fiddle - in a sort of "double lockdown" - the first was the lot of everyone - the second a special present of Telecom - they should install a new internet connections ("Quite easy! Don't worry!") and then, when they had eagerly shut down my old net (which became unnervingly slow the last months, but worked...) found out that the new one didn't get electricity or whatsoever... and those days I did not find that funny...

But now it works again (knock on wood) - and I am VERY proud about my surprising technical faculties: I had to connect 3 computers myself, two were easy - but the third: my oh my - but I found a solution when the called computer assistant had given up. Yep!

So: in contact with the World Wide Web again.
And happy.