Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Visit in Hamburg & Berlin


Two days in Hamburg, where I visited my friend Michou and his husband - we hadn't seen each other since two years! 

I did NOT spend the nights in the famous Hotel Atlantic above (yet love my photo so much that I wanted to show it) but stayed with them in the vivid quarter St.Pauli - you may have heard from the Reeperbahn? There a normal supermarket looks like that: 

                                                                                 



You see Olivia Jones, glittering German Drag-Queen on the Kiez, making a pun. 



The weather was fine, and the inhabitants of Hamburger are very ingenious to add what might lack - one glance at the Elbphilharmonie (in the background) and you know: Hamburg doesn't lack anything. I lived there for eight years and still miss it - though it was me who decided that we go to Berlin. 

And in Berlin I stayed for a whole week - so many friends to see, so many restaurants and exhibitions and shops that I almost felt like a tourist. 

"So happy it hurts!" (Couldn't get the original Brian Adams version in the last post, thus I deleted it). 

And after seven happy days I sat at the Victoria Luise Platz two streets away from my apartment with a glass of Rosé and thought: "What a beautiful city! I am so glad to live here. "

                                                                                  


Yesterday (after an odyssey with the train) I came back to Bavaria - which is also a sunny dream at the moment: 


(When I've landed on my feet again I might write something more substantial about an exhibition or the moral of the odyssey - but at the moment I am so happy it hurts!) 




Monday, 2 May 2022

Snippet: Sketch Journal

 


NOT an example of art - but I like the text of William James (yep, interesting brother of Henry) which I found on a page from my sketch diary on 4.9.2020: 

"To get into a good mood, one has to straighten oneself blithefully, and act in a way as if the good mood is already there."  

For me it works.  

                     What do you do to lift your mood if necessary? 

(PS: Question: I wrote  "as if the good mood were almost there", but autocorrection stubbornly underlines that with red. Would my word be wrong? Should it, good mood being singular, be "was"?)  



Wednesday, 27 April 2022

My everyday walk in Bavaria

 


My day starts with a nice breakfast - and everyday I admire the view from my balcony. I invite you to accompany me on my walk - as you see on the photos of today the weather is fine, so when I'm ready with everything I start my (almost) daily routine: 


down the road I walk, 


pass the church on my way left, then I walk through the village. 


The village is very neat, very tidy - though some old houses decay - the costs for renovation under monument protection are sometimes so high that people build new houses, and the old ones look picturesque, but are lost forever, I fear, like the one below: 


Then comes the sporty part: 



Up, up, up! 


When I am here, it gets easier.










Then down again - you see the bench? Hear the little wellspring? On some days I sit here and read a few pages on my Kindle.



Then down to the village: 






Then up again, and almost home.


I enjoy that every day very much - and make about 8.000 steps, and then from 2 o'clock pm I am with the triplets. Great! 
And in the evening I have a stunning view. No cinema needed. :-) 





Sunday, 24 April 2022

"Such larks..."

 



The last days Yours Truly felt a bit under the weather - which, by the way, is exceptionally sunny and mild and so full of Spring. 

I tried almost all of the remedies I know for getting over the blues: take every day a long, long and brisk walk over the hills, eat healthy and well, e-mail or telephone with friends, read (last reliable resort: children books), make the household neat and organised, talk to my plants on the balcony, listen to the jubilating birds, write into my gratitude book and my diary - and, and, and... 

I see three reasons why it only helped a little bit - number four is a sort of solution: 

One every Sherlock can find in the text above: "e-mail or telephone with friends": for an unusual long time I felt lonely (the luxury version, I know: almost every day I enjoy the triplets, and the Flying Dutchman came over for a week around Easter, and I always have a long To-Do- list that makes people exhausted by just reading it. Yet...)

Second is a thing that maybe doesn't exist or only in my imagination: a few weeks ago I got the fourth shot of Biontec - and though I never suffer from side effects, (and am thankful for being protected), every time I feel LOW after it, really low in my soul and spirit.  

I noticed the same reaction in friends who got their yearly flu-vaccination. And I think: well, well, well, a vaccination rehearses in your body the - mild - form of the sickness it should afterwards protect you against. Right? Wrong? 

Third: the state of the world IS a reason to feel low. But then: I may ask my fees back from the studies of literature if I hadn't known that before. It seems nearer now - and thus more dangerous - but not new under the sun. Maybe some of my rose-coloured bubbles were bursting. Which normally is called growing-up

Fourth: An insight which led to action: 

I tried to adjust and stare bravely back into the face of my reality. It took two years of Corona-prison for making me willing to admit for the first time in my life: I am getting older. 

Shock. 

Yesterday I even tried to tinkle this platitude into the Header of my Blog. 

And then this morning I found the remedy. 

Laughter. Not taking myself so serious. No drama, please. 

I read Pips answer to my comment - and laughed heartily. 

And laughed even more when I looked at my honest attempt to accept reality by admitting that even I get older. I had  typed: "But older now" - and then I saw that Google had changed it (in very tiny letters) to: But Older No"

Hahaha. It made me think of the Sanskrit Leela (or lila) - "God's play- which should not be confused with reality. 

In the Hindu view of nature, then, all forms are relative, fluid and ever-changing maya, conjured up by the great magician of the divine play. The world of maya changes continuously, because the divine lila is a rhythmic, dynamic play. The dynamic force of the play is karma, an important concept of Indian thought. Karma means "action". It is the active principle of the play, the total universe in action, where everything is dynamically connected with everything else. In the words of the Gita Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life.— Fritjof CapraThe Tao of Physics (1975)

I thought of a (a bit superficial) book I own by Maigret/Mas with the fascinating title: 

        Older, But Better, But Older. 

Nothing to add. 



Saturday, 26 March 2022

Violets

 


This morning my little breakfast table is surrounded by the sweet deep dark scent of violets. 

Back from Berlin I found them yesterday on a long walk - which cleared my head, and the violets soothed my heart - and I plucked a few, though all my long life I was told not to do so - and yes, that is right, but to be happy you sometimes have to break a few rules. 

Violets in perfume became rare - for years I chased them on many perfume counters, "Not a chance! Though you might find them in France". (The special one by Serge Luten is only sold in France, many of his others everywhere). 

But I am very perseverant and finally found two perfumes: the German one by "Frau Toni", made in Berlin - No. 37 "Veilchen" - which in the Twenties (of last century) was the favourite scent of Marlene Dietrich - and "Paris Balenciaga" (though Balenciaga was founded in San Sebastian they reside in Paris). This one is lighter, I wear it often, while I keep "Veilchen" for the evening. 

In Germany schoolchildren had friendship books - everyone in your class scribbled in a little verse or proverbial wisdom - and very popular was:  

 "Be like the violet in the moss,  - modest, demure and pure - and not like the proud rose - wich always wants to be adored."    

WELL - even then Yours Truly was tall, didn't want to be modest or pure, and my favourite flower is - the rose. 

And being till today very much interested in botany, I soon found out that this "friendship book wisdom" is a truism, false - based on an ideal without a glimpse at reality: violets in the garden or in nature are NOT modest - they invade quick, quicker than the troops of General Lee they dash through your garden. 

But they give you their beautiful scent. 


Thursday, 10 March 2022

I Am HERE




When I was in Nürnberg last Saturday, I lost my way. 
Google map and I never are on good terms - though finally, after walking many kilometres, I found my goal.  
Same happened on my way back. 
It was a very long way, it was very cold (though bright sun), and I had to tell me (stern voice): Go on! 

Suddenly I saw that stone on the pavement - "Hier". (= Here). 

And I thought: true. 
I have to remember this: 
I am HERE 

The last days I was NOT with me - I felt like drowning in a sea of compassion for the refugees from Ukraine, asked myself in the middle of every night if I could do more for them, and at four o'clock in the morning whether it is OK to be happy when others fight to survive. 
And my best friend is struggling for life too. And seven years after my private tsunami I am not fully over it, though Taoists tell me that every 7 years your body cells are exchanged completely and you are "new". I didn't feel like that - I felt my cup is full to the brim, overflowing. 

Then I saw the answer on the pavement. 
(And took a photograph to be sure that my mind didn't make it up - I have never seen a stone like that before). 

But I feel it is the solution.  
As those instructions in an airplane say: 
"First put the oxygen mask over your nose - only then you can help someone else." 

I decided to do one step after the other. Try not to see only black and white. There are many people who can and will help. Together we will succeed. 

A few minutes after those thoughts I went round a turn, and I saw this, and suddenly knew where I was: 
HIER. 



Monday, 7 March 2022

Why I chose the - UKULELE



WOW - you've got it! 
And why did I choose the ukulele? 

1. With all the bad news of the last two years and the very bad news now, I needed something lighthearted, funny, a little bit of Marylin's pep against all this dark seriousness of the world. 

2. The best remedy against rumination I know is to move and/or do something where I have to concentrate. 

3. The grip on a guitar was physically too complicated for my small hands - the ukulele has only four strings, as Rachel remarked. I am not trying to enter the stage, I want quick results. The triplets too (though all family here in Bavaria does not know what I bought. Being me I practise secretly before I "perform"). 

4. This wooden ukulele looks so sweet and beautiful - it is shiny and lacquered in emerald green with mother-of-pearl inlaid work. More radiant and glowing than on the photos. 

5. I hope it trains brain and fingers, and know that it does not overawe my professional musical bunch of friends on the narrow boat trips. Or anyone else :-)   

6. I love to follow instant inspirations - this was one.  

7. And I love challenges. This might be one. 



 






Saturday, 5 March 2022

In spite of it all...

 


The morning-view from my window leads to thoughts about all the grief in the world, and the feeling like cats on a hot tin roof: 



 

But there is always something that is beautiful too: 



            In spite of all I wish you a beautiful weekend!

                Britta 

Monday, 28 February 2022

A quote of Steve Jobs

 Yesterday I saw the weekly German Sunday institution "Tatort" = "Scene of Crime". 

It exists since 1970 (!) and till today broadcasted more than 1200 episodes - the very special is that the detective superintendents are representatives of one of each federate state - as Bavaria or Nordrhein-Westfalen, scene always in the same city. 

Yesterday it was Munich's turn.

It fell into the category of: "Everything was better in the old days" - a sentence I disgust, but here it was true :-) 

Yet you also can learn by junk, and a little marvel I found in this scrap was a quote by Steve Jobs: 

"You are the intersection of those five people with whom you surround yourself

(as my translation sounds somehow bumpy I will quote the German version: "Du bist der Durchschnitt der fünf Leute, mit denen du dich umgibst."     

I look into the beautiful cold sunshine and brood: Do I believe that? 

And: Who are those five?  




Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Snippet: Quote by Dennis Meadows (The Limits to Growth)

Süddeutsche Zeitung (February 18th, 2022) : 

What do you think nowadays about the Club of Rome? (...)

Meadows

"I grew older. More and more I understood that most people rather do not need that I have an opinion of them. So it is irrelevant for me, what the Club of Rome thinks about me, and I am sure , that they do not bother what I think of them, so I did not trouble myself to form an opinion."

and: 

"One of the guiding principles (maxims) of my life is: 

"Play the cards you've got, instead of wishing you had got different ones."


(The article was in German, so I hope my translation to be correct). 




Sunday, 13 February 2022

No milk today...

 


No, that's not true. I drink milk - in my coffee and in my tea (though for three days I followed the advice of a well-researched study to NOT drink milk in tea or coffee, because it stops the beneficial "clearing things" of coffee or tea - I forgot which, must be the result of my stubbornness ). 

I have discipline - but as the bitterness of the coffee soured my face, after three days I said: 

"Mumpitz! Balderdash! Poppycock!" or something like that . "I did not become ... mumble, mumble... a glorious ripe woman (that periphrasis might be the result of the three days fast...) to start with that nonsense!" That I said while I did some MIF or TIF - I do not tell you which... 

I am a person who ate butter when the world recommended margarine, and every morning I eat an egg. And add milk to my porridge. Oh, oh, oh...  

The cows you see in the picture are living on a farm near by - and life for the triplets is adventurous: there are also cats, hens, rabbits, and tractors. All equally exciting. 



Friday, 4 February 2022

How to "reframe" a molehill

 


Why on earth did I choose the photo above for a post I wanted to write about "reframing"?  
Reason most often follows my impulsive choices.  
Moles - as every gardener knows - are a nuisance in a well-kept garden.  On a meadow I can watch them without anger or worry - not mulling if the farmer shares my nonchalance. 

"Reframing" is a modern psychologic method which turns an old-fashioned adage into something that brings more money. Olden folks said: "Look at the bright side!" - now we "reframe". (Sorry, I know, dear psychologists, that my name is Horatio: "There are more things in heaven and earth...")

The well-advised gardener tells himself how valuable the fluffy worked-through earth of a molehill is (though preferably brought from a meadow, miles away from his garden). 

From the realm of metaphor to reality: 

Since yesterday I have to stay at home (in Bavaria) - only for three or four days, and just as a precaution. 
My dear friend Anne visited me on Wednesday, so glad to see her! 
Her daughter, a vet (horses mainly) and mother of three boys who go to school, lives only 45 minutes by car from me, and as Anne was visiting her she drove her mother to me. All three of us had a wonderful cheery evening. 
Son&DiL thought it wise that for 3 -4 days after that visit I shouldn't have contact with the triplets - Omicron is in Germany at its height, really alarming. All of us are 3x vaccinated (except the triplets of course) - and I can understand their concerns, especially as mostly school kids spread that plague now. 
When I told Anne that I have to stay at home (of course with walks and buying groceries) she said: "You should have told me, then we wouldn't have come..." "Exactly", I interrupted, "that is just why I didn't - I wanted you here!!"
 
And then her daughter used the technique of "reframing": "Well, see it like this: now you will have three days just for yourself, isn't that wonderful?" 
Knowing that it is only for a short time I agree with her: 
it is. 
Now I have a mini-holiday, a bulk of time to write, do Yoga, do my household, make plans, draw, think - wonderful!"







   


Friday, 28 January 2022

Snippet: When I get up in the morning


This is the view I have here in Bavaria early in the morning. VERY early in the morning. The earlier I go to sleep (hahaha - with the hens, we say in Germany and I feel almost guilty that it now sometimes means 22:00 -- but then: I am tired by highly amusing workouts with the triplets) the earlier I wake up - has some logic, come to think of it. 

Early sounds are: a cock, the little red train (hooting on unguarded railway crossings) - and some cars in a distance. 

So have a good morning and a bright day! 


My Quote of the day: 

Anthony Quinn: "Even with 60 you still can be 40 - but only for half an hour per day."  (rough translation by me)




Wednesday, 26 January 2022

A New Drive

 



Since last month I have again a car. I told you that in Berlin five years ago I sold Knut, the little red Fiat 500, because I had many, many undergrounds and busses right in my neighbourhood and wanted to do a little bit for saving the planet. 

When the pandemic time began I saw that this had been a fault. (It has been sort of a fault from the beginning: before I always had big and quick cars - the Fiat 500 is cute - but neither big nor quick. Though very useful in a city). 

In Bavaria - in a village that has no shop, not even a bakery - I had to go by train to the next "bigger" village to buy groceries - and carry them up a long steep hill. My son helped me to find a car with 7 seats (guess why :-)  - and the funny thing is that now he drives my car - and I got permanent -- No, not his Corvette, sigh..., but their family one above. (It is without a flaw - what looks strange is water from thawing frost, photographed through my kitchen window). 

And I am very happy with it! 




Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Muddy thinking

Muddy thinking? Yes - if your dear correspondent had thought a bit less about the mud and mire in which the boars were wallowing, she might have done what long time ago was part of her studies: look hard at the words of a text. 
Maybe the word "Gamsbart" would have flared up in her mind. Pip reminded me kindly using the word "Gamsbart" without any reproach - same procedure I use when "correcting" a wrong word the triplets use while learning to speak, with no comment, just blithely using the correct word. 

 A "Gams oder Gemse" is a "chamois", Rupicapra rupicapra (Latin shall keep a rest of my dignity). 

And who should have known better than I - Zodiac sign capricorn! And before you tell me I am mistaken a second time: I know that Gemse and capricorn are not the same, only relatives: of course the capricorn is bigger, has longer horns, darker fur - as was expected capricorns are better and more beautiful, hahaha   :-) 

So: most Bavarian men wear a tuft of Gemsen-Hair. To bind that is high art - for a fine tuft they need the hair of one to ten Gemsen!!! (should look as a bearskin in London?) and you have to pay nonchalant up to 1000 Euro! - and, as many handicrafts: that handicraft is threatened to die out. And as if that is not enough: an EU-regulation threatens those Bavarians, who choose to carry a feather tuft from the mountain cock or eagle on their hat, with the forbiddance to use "visible sharing of protected animals". (They are only allowed to use the feathers of old hats). 
I was a bit more at ease when I read that the cheaper version of a Gamsbart is made out of deer hair or badger, or - trara!! - boar

PS: While I am at it, wallowing in mea culpa, I might just as well add that I only spoke derisively about a special sub-category of Bavarian hats: the Seppl-Hut, which you see mostly on drunken men at the Oktoberfest. As I am not able to transfer a picture from Wiki to my blog, you have to look it up. No tuft there. 
The other Bavarian hats - with a Gamsbart or more seldom a tuft of boar  :-)  - are quite chic. 

Monday, 24 January 2022

First!

 




At the moment the weather is blah - and I feel a bit blah - though yesterday son&DiL&triplets&I visited a wild boar enclosure. The boars looked at us and thought us blah - to rise their spirits I told the triplets that in Bavaria there are many men who wear strange felt hats with a little tuft of hair on one side - made of hog's bristle. 

In their very young life they neither had seen that nor heard of it, and they giggled, while the boars in front of us were not interested at all and turned their back to us and snuggled into the mud, munching uncooked spaghetti - at least they have a crush on something! 

Back later on my way to the postbox I saw the first snowdrops, and my cheerfulness rose. The very first hint of spring! 




Friday, 21 January 2022

Did you dream last night?

 


The question is not correct: you did dream (scientists say), but you might not remember your dream. Or better: your dreams. 

When we lie in our bed "like batteries in a recharger", Pia Ratzesberger writes in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (a newspaper article I refer to most of the time), over our lifetime we spend "dozens of years in our own motion picture" - mostly without remembering it. 

"The night knows three phases, which repeat themselves after 90 to 110 minutes like the news programme on TV, and we dream in all of them". 

Dreams, though they often seem surreal, cannot utterly escape reality - "our environment pushes through like a pencil through carbon paper". There are different parts of the brain involved: in the beginning the front part of the brain, where our critical thinking sits, logic. The thalamus in the inter brain works like a doorkeeper, he decides which impressions are allowed to enter and which not, and the firmer we close the door the deeper we sleep. 

In the first part of the night dreams are more like snapshots of the day. 

The eerie part of the night begins after more than one hour, the brain region for logic slows a bit down, while the limbic areal, responsible for emotions, starts to work. Our eyes move rapidly, we "fall into scenic dreams, as if we were on LSD." Three phases of sleep rotate - most intensively we dream when the morning is nearing - thus we often can remember those dreams better.  

"In Japan researchers in 2012 could predict with relativ high verisimilitude if a man in a sleep laboratory would dream of an animal or a car". (Hahaha: my impression: most men do that night and day, dream of a car!)

Dreams of falling, of examinations, of coming too late, are "classic dreams", writes Pia. And I didn't know that you can find in the Internet a huge dream diary, with more than 30 000 entries! 

"At least half of the people we meet in a dream we know from our day

And the phenomenon of the nightmare thrives -  not surprising - in crises. Pandemic nights. 

Children and about 5% of grown-ups suffer from frequent nightmares. Psychologists as Michael Schredl found a way to work with that: one should draw the dream into the day by writing, drawing, and thinking how one can change it. One should do that at least two weeks, 10 minutes a day. "Image Rehearsel Therapy" can even help to heal deep traumata as those of war veterans or rape victims. 

How to find out what your dreams want to tell you is another field of explorance - but not new. Around 200 AD, Artemidor of Daldis wrote a book with 300 pages, a reference book for dream interpreters. Sigmund Freud springs to our mind, too.  

Dreams can work as a therapy, preparing us to meet the reality of the day, or help us to train things we wouldn't dare to try in real life - falling, flying, fighting with a bear. 

Dreams do a sort of "reset" in our brain, and allow it to make different bondings and combinations than in daytime. I love the explanation why we cannot remember much in the morning: "If a man compartmentalises in sleep to recover, to clean his hard disk, it would make not much sense if we wake up in the morning with a full memory card.

One of the last sentences of this article is unsettling - but it follows a happy end: 

"The capitalisation of sleep has long ago started. We slick sleeping pills, and put on sleep-tracking watches (...)" (Dream) was till now the only place, in which we cannot do anything, and do not have to do anything. Maybe thus it is quite good when it is always one step ahead, and we cannot catch hold of it completely."

PS: I am proud of the photo I took this early morning - it visualises dream quite well, I hope. 

(My personal view on dreams I will present later in a snippet.) 


Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Snippet: I am an omnivore, but...

 


... I do enjoy this cookbook immensely and recommend it. He is an omnivore too - but one doesn't miss anything here. In Bavaria I have time to cook - and though the recipes sometimes demand a lot of time for snipping and hacking the vegetables, the result is always very satisfying and often surprising - and the times he recommends are reliable and so exact that even the Gratin Dauphinoise was really done. 

The only fly in the ointment for "big success" in Germany might be his really, really complicacted name - even I - though I studied English literature and language - can seldom bring it to my mind if I want to recommend it. His book on Fruits was translated into German - and I found it in the "Books for cheap"-basket  - I can only see one reason: nobody, wanting to order it in a bookshop, could recall or pronounce his name. 
But "River Cottage" - that is in my mind and high on my list for future visits in England! 

If I had to give recommendation stars, he would get five out of five. 



Sunday, 16 January 2022

A Snippet of Vita's Wisdom on Flowers

 


"I find, and do not doubt that most people will agree with me, that November and December are quite the bleakest months of the year for finding 'something to pick for indoors'. A flowerless room is a soul-less room, to my thinking, but even one solitary vase of a living flower may redeem it."
(Vita Sackville-West "In Your Garden") 



Saturday, 15 January 2022

La Vie en Rose

 


Yesterday I wanted to pre-order my favourite rose "Gertrude Jekyll" for my Bavarian balcony too, and by chance I found this link:   

https://www.welt-der-rosen.de/adressen/dtl2.htm   (you have to copy it, sorry) 

"Only" for German rose gardens, but the idea of such a specialised survey is bright. There are three rose gardens in my neighbourhood which I never heard of.  

So fascinating, enthusiastic (and a bit fanatic) - I would enjoy and use a list of rose gardens for England when pandemic allows me to come again.  




Thursday, 13 January 2022

Snippets.

 


My new idea to serve you sometimes just "Snippets" fascinates me. 

As before I will write long posts, but more often a short one - sometimes I will serve you a Lungo, sometimes an Espresso. You might want to chat with me, or just enjoy the cuppa in silence. 

Variety, change: life is bursting with possibilities.  

Whenever you see the photo above it signals: "Snippets". Hope you have as much fun as I! 


Snippet: Fasting

 


I add something new to my blog: "snippets" shall be short posts about something that shoots through my mind - evoked by a newspaper, or a blog, or something I experienced. 

In German telephone booths (used before the unimaginable time before the existence of cellphones), hung a plate with the words "Fasse dich kurz!" = "Make it short". (Very difficult for me) 

So: 

At the moment I do a "sort of" fast, just for fun: for four weeks I do not drink any alcohol. Instead of the glass of wine in the evening (with 0,1 - 0,2 l a ridiculous thimble in they eyes of the hardboiled) I drink a nice cup of herbal tea.  No problem at all - I just wanted to find out if I miss it. 

Till now I don't. 

Query: Do you fast? On what? Why? How long? Do you feel an effect?