30 November 2022

in the windiest city of the world

Here I am crawling out of the jet-lag tunnel. The birds start early, intense and right on time for me. I had almost forgotten how ferocious the wind is in this city. Almost. And the lovely squeaky noise at the pedestrian crossings.

Then there`s the light and the strong coffee and the steep stairs and pathways up to my daughter's house. Awakening dormant muscles and taste buds.

I am busy busy busy being here. So much to see and do and feel and experience with my family.

Don't think I'll blog much in the coming weeks but I will read and if time allows, comment. For now, I just want to share this:


So hold your own 

Breathe deep on a freezing beach 

Taste the salt of friendship 

Notice the movement of a stranger 

Hold your own 

And let it be 


21 November 2022

May you be enough and don't want for more.

This morning early, I got the stitches removed from my forehead and since then I have tried to not look at the dent and the impressive upside down cross that could be a tattoo with a secret message for all I care. 

Things are a bit in a rush here as we are about to travel to far away places. Somewhere, sometime during the last two almost three years of lockdown and seclusion, I have lost some of my travel cool, so now I am nervous, double checking everything.  By this time tomorrow etc.

For now, I just want to highlight a few things that made me think, laugh or worry, in any case, stayed in my mind for a while (still).

Trying to make sense of the war in Ukraine, I watched this seven part documentary absolutely mesmerised and feeling foolishly ignorant and appalled and scared and amazed. It's by Adam Curtis, who is a most unique filmmaker, and it's really just a collection of footage from various reports over many years or as some critics said: like looking through a broken kaleidoscope. It will bring you outside your comfort zone but in a very worthwhile way. And you will understand a little bit, or maybe a lot more, who Putin really is and why he is the way he is.

On youtube, for parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 click here. For part 6, click here.

If you can access BBC iPlayer, you find all episodes there, just look for Traumazone and Adam Curtis. Watch the trailer on youtube.


In the coming week, we will cross many borders, departing and arriving in and from several far away countries, all at ease and in great comfort. We will hold up our maroon coloured EU passports and walk through open gates. Never once in my life was I denied entry anywhere in my many travels. 

Hospitality means the right of a stranger entering foreign territory to be treated without hostility. One may refuse to receive him, if it can be done without endangering his existence; however, so long as he conducts himself peaceably, he must notbe treated as an enemy.

(Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Essay 1795)

Hospitality according to Kant is a right, mind you, not an act of philanthropy. In this context, this story by Anna Badkhen, followed me long into the night. Click here to either read or listen.


And here, an inspiring young woman with a great laugh:


And finally, something to lift our hearts. 

17 November 2022

Our dreams are the deepest breath we draw

Our dreams are the deepest breath we draw

This is a line from a song by Irish singer Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin (Owen O'Canavan for all the non-Irish speakers like me).

Over the past four weeks I had three surgeries on my forehead, first to take a sample, then to take out a small tumor and then to take out more tumor after which the hole was stitched up. All in all, the tumor was the size of maybe a pea or a small bean according to the surgeon. There is still doubt as to what type of tumor, a tricky type I have been told, but most likely it's all out. Right now, the stitches are healing very well and hopefully will come out early next week. The hole has a diameter of a five Euro cent coin (22 mm) and this has been covered with skin stretched across and up/down my forehead. I now know what it feels like to have a face lift. Goodness, there are actually women who do this voluntarily?

Today when they changed the bandage, I looked in the mirror for the first time because the young nurse told me that it looks kind of Goth, like an upside down cross. And it does. Still all crusty and black and blue and red but I've been told it will all heal nicely. The nerves just below my hairline are all numb but I've been told that they will recover. 

A bit over a year ago, I had noticed a tiny hard lump on my forehead when I put cream on it. Being who I am I picked on it, absentmindedly mostly, and it started to bleed and I got mad for doing this and then it took ages to close up because it looked kind of deep and cratery. Then it healed up and was gone until it wasn't. And the whole circle started again, me picking and then bleeding and healing, I forget how many times. Also, slow healing of small nicks and cuts is a very common side effect of my immune suppression therapy. So, it took me a while to get myself to a doctor.

Except for two days when there was a steady stream of blood trickling down my face (excellent Halloween disguise!), I went to work and managed to pretend that all was hunky dory. But the nights, another story.

Anyway, almost all done for now. I have plans, starting next week, I am going places. Stay tuned.

And here is the song. 

04 November 2022

It's not about "the climate," it's not about "the environment," it's never been about that. It's about human survival on the planet. Why the heck is that so hard to understand?

01 November 2022

Sometimes there is stuff happening in life - or not happening - that makes any activity in social media seem false or difficult, even dishonest (to myself, because what do you know about my true existence) and basically too exhausting to write about. Stuff is happening, big stuff, too big.

Anyway, moving on to the more mundane issue of shopping, real shopping, not the virtual online kind. 

On Sundays, the majority of German households serves fresh bread rolls for breakfast. This is a ritual and the rolls must be fresh. Of course not every household partakes (ours does not, we are muesli people) but it's what happens for the majority. Now remember that in Germany, all shops are closed on Sundays (thanks to the labour unions and the churches). However, bakeries are allowed to open in the mornings, but only for rolls and there are always long queues of mostly yawning dads or kids with lists of how many and what kind for whom. Fresh bread rolls vary from region to region, have different names and shapes and flour mixes, are made with sourdough or yeast and are too numerous to list here. But this is a standard Sunday selection, the minimum variety any bakery will have on offer.

Some years ago, the parents of an Australian friend of our daughter were visiting Europe and as it happens with friends, siblings, cousins and parents of friends of our daughter, they accepted her invitation to come and stay with us (while daughter is in another far flung corner of the world issuing invitations). And obviously, we went into full hospitality mode incl. German Sunday morning breakfast rolls. For this purpose, I invited them to go to the bakery and join me in the queue.

We have three bakeries in easy walking distance and six more within a three kilometer radius from home. Our Australian visitors had been on a neighbourhood stroll with us the night before and expressed enthusiasm about a cycle trip along the river any day soon. But when we left the house to get the rolls, they walked straight to the car. Imagine their surprise when I suggested walking. They confessed that they always do all their food shopping by car, could not remember any other way, without driving and parking and getting a shopping trolley and filling and emptying and filling that trolley and so on, before driving it all back home.

Now, a bag full of bread rolls is nothing, real shopping is a bit more than that but I believe one of the greatest trick the car industry ever pulled was convincing the world they needed 1,500 kg of machinery to move 15 kg of stuff. Unfortunately, it seems people can only shop by car. That has always been the case. Shops apparently have only existed since there were cars. Haven't they just.

I could go on my high horse here and tell you that we use our bicycles and if need be our bike trailer to do our shopping but we are just two people who grow a lot of fruit and veg right here in our garden and our neighbourhood shopping is indeed in the neighbourhood, as are pharmacies, doctors, libraries, markets (super and farmers'). So, we are not average. Winters are not too hard, it doesn't rain too often, the winds are benign. 

We still have a car. It sits there all shiny and heavy, I occasionally use it on dark days to get to work and back. I think it is lonely.