Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Beware of the Great Preachers of Nothing!

Dear You,

These three little amber flowers above were the answer to a sympton that I watch Argus-eyed when it occurs: Caution! when books with titles like this attract me:


(There are hundreds of them in bookshops - instead of being minimalistically thrown away they slouch on a bench or table - and as Tom Stephenson in one of his recent blogs ranted: They are utterly daft!)
Why are they - at certain times - singing like Loreley from the height of the bookshelves to me?
Whispering: "Throw everything away - life will be simple then - just do it!"
Maybe because at such a weak moment my life is overflowing with THINGS, like here:


How come? Me - having written a groundbreaking book on good housekeeping?
(Well - a signpost does not have to run himself, as dear Monsieur J.J. Rousseau said, when he put his five children one after another through a baby flap of an orphanage, then writing the worthy pedagogical  book "Émile ou De l'Education")
No: normally my flat is full of harmony and beauty.
But I had subscribed for the "Berliner Tagesspiegel" - a newspaper which arrives daily, even on Sunday - and I still have to find a way to turn that flow from toil to joy.
What vexes me in books on minimalism: the writer takes photos of all his objects that he discards - letters, things, whatsoever.
Mmm, mmm, mmm - here I protest: he ignores all the sensual, haptic feelings! To look at a flowers on Instagram: haha, poor sod! To look through that silly Card-Board Brille 3D Google Virtual Reality - instead of touching or loving a woman - Geez!
He imprisons all poor things - and senses! - into his posh Macbook!
Not for me, Great Preacher of Nothing, I mumble - and walk to the Bernsteinzimmer, a little shop right beside the KaDeWe. Normally it is crowded with Chinese tourists - they buy amber - as the shopowner tells me - because they believe that amber is good for their health.
Defiantly I buy three (3!!!) little amber flowers - carved out of amber, nothing to be utilised, only beautiful -- something that the GPoN would throw out immediately with a derisive laugh.
I cherish them.
And throw out the heap of old Berliner Tagesspiegel instead - singing a song of the Rolling Stones, that - luckily! - I have kept in my CD-rack: "Who wants yesterdays papers?"
Then I have room again for "Sitting on my Sofa" - a song of the Kinks on a CD I luckily kept in my overflowing CD-rack...
And leaf through a new book, with the alluring title:

 ,

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Flowers everywhere - look, Maria Sibylla Merian!

Dear You, 

May does not need me - May just is
If you wonder what I'm talking about: each day I stop for a few minutes at my neighbour's garden  - enjoying the results of her toil for free - though I pay abundantly with praise. (Once I thought that I had invented a new profession: The True Praiser. (Lauder) People, I thought, might book me and hear what they are so thirsty for: real, genuine (!) praise of things they have accomplished - things everybody takes for granted, or, worse, does not even notice). Maybe I should create a Start Up?                                Anyone interested out there?
No - May does not need any praise - it is overwhelming HERE with its abundance of roses, iris, elder.
Bathes us  in huge clouds of perfume, showers us with sun shine, dries us with hot air - and the song of the birds come for free. Such a bliss  - and life is beautiful!
As you know I have a deep interest in flowers and plants - as a gardener, botanist and ardent admirer. I take photographs of flowers - which sometimes I like quite well - and sometimes I also paint some, though here you can foolishly hear me mumble: "Not real Art. Nice, yes, but.. artisan craftwork at it's best."
Views not shared completely  by Albrecht Dürer, who retorts: "For truly, art is rooted in nature, and whoever can draw it out, has it". 
Yet often flowers were used by artists as background painting (I "collect" them with my camera - only the flower, not the whole painting).
At the moment a beautiful exhibition on "MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN and the Tradition of Flower Painting" is shown at the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Maria Sibylla Merian was an highly gifted painter of flowers - and a very remarkable woman.
She died 300 years ago. (!!)
The exhibition starts with a broad overview of floral book illustrations of the 15th century, nature studies from Dürer's time and apothecary books from early 16th century, and wonderful portrayals of flowers by the famous Georg Flegel.
As Sibylla, they all painted insects too - but as the first mosquitos and wasps have already arrived, I am not keen on them.
Yes: flower painting is beautiful, and sometimes Art. And often surprising too: you might have seen Rachel's phantastic little drawings of flowers - especially the poppies got me, done in nail varnish, and I look musingly at "Chili Bean", my voluptious dark red nail varnish - which I seldom use, because Life is too Short to spend time on repairing flaking nail varnish in my active life. There might be a better way to use it?
Anyway:  I bought a season ticket for our Botanical Garden.
Nice to meet you - hope you guess my name! (I'm just sitting on a fence!)






Thursday, 25 May 2017

Paris - In a Limited Edition!

Dear You, 

maybe I told you - and maybe not, because I am a cautious woman - that in a time not that far away I will go to Paris.
So I was very happy to find in a Berlin drugstore a "Limited Edition" of -

LAVATORY PAPER! 
Extra dedicated to PARIS! 


Oh là là! 
But was my utterance correct? Am I prepared? 
In genuine concern the loo paper roll asks me, again and again:"Parlez-vous Francais?"  


"Mais oui, mon chéri; bien sur, mon chéri; come tu veux, mon chéri!" 
This last sample of my perfect French is a quote of my friend Christine, who told me of a Lady - I anonymise the nationality intentiously, but it starts with an "R" - who desperately wanted to marry a rich Frenchman.
And she found one.
And the three sentences above are all she ever utters - and, SISTERS: there are quite a lot of men - and not only in France -  (dear male readers excepted, of course)-  who agree instantly that this is all French or whatsoever you need to know!











Sunday, 21 May 2017

Movie-like Moments

©Brigitta Huegel

In my memory I have a secret collection with the working title: "Movie Moments in my Life". It is filled with thrilling snaphots - like the adventure when I was smuggled into the room of an Old Pensioner in Chelsea, or when an Oxford taxi driver stopped his taxi meter to show us Inspector Morse's locations - for free...,.
Above you see a poster of the Austrian movie "Wilde Maus" decorating my bathroom door.  (If you have good eyes and preen hard, you might see that Josef Hader - who wrote this movie and played the main part - signed it).
That movie means a lot to me, it is hilarious and touching, bizzare and yet down-to-earth.
Above you see the protagonist in a huge white field of snow, trying to kill himself by freezing slowly to death - but Life has other plans.
And my Movie Moment? 
I met a new acquaintance in a well-known café in Berlin. We chatted for hours - and after a visit to the loo I told her: "Imagine, there is the poster of that movie that means so much to me!"
When another hour later we decided to leave, my new acquaintance said: "Wait a minute - I will just spend a penny." So I waited, patiently and quite long.
She came back, face aglow. Under her arm a huge white paper roll. "Let's go - quick!" she hissed.
I followed.
"It was so difficult to peel it off the wall", she said triumphantly. "Took me ages!"
And then she handed itover  to me.
"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." as Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca has said.






Thursday, 18 May 2017

Hello, It's Me... (Britta, not Adele)

©Brigitta Huegel
Dear You,

what you see above is - in my eyes - a little wonder.
This geranium - which a professional would call pelargonium, I know that, but using the "common word" is my way of trying to convince you that I really try to give up being perfect :-)  - well, this little "twig" of the geranium on my balcony broke off when I decided to give it more space, meaning: I took the plant out of its little pot and into a window box.
More earth to spread its little roots, more space to unfold its little leaves, more freedom.
In Germany we have a saying: "Where wood is chopped, splinters must fall"
So here I had that "splinter" with two little tight white buds in my hand.
And thought: "We'll see". (As you all know I am quite good in finding meaning and detecting symbols everywhere).
And put it into the turquoise-blue bird bath.
And then it happened - and, oh yes, in my eyes it took quite a long time, felt like two years - but suddenly it opened its little petals, unrolled them, seemed to say: "Well, circumstances are not as I  expected them to be - but hark! (I love to strew in a hark in my blog from time to time!) - they are not bad. So: I decide to flower in my circumstances as they are now." 
(At this moment I might have lost The Last Reader, hearing him mumble: What is that woman talking about?) 
Well, here I sit, "in the world of the ten-thousand things", and adjust to the truism that "life is not all neat and tidy".
I have thought very hard about my blogs - about the way I will write them. For me it is easy to talk about the newest exhibition in the marvelous Barberini Museum in Potsdam, but that is not enough for me. Yet also I do not want to write my Dear Diary into the air (or Cloud, or whatsoever, Howling at the Moon, just to sprinkle in a touch of modernity by a new pop-song) - no, I want a mixture of all Dear Life that surrounds me, filling me up to the brim sometimes, and show you what everyone sees, but filtered through my eyes.

Today promises to become the second really summerly day in Berlin - we had 27 degree yesterday, in May!
And yesterday evening I was sitting on my balcony, had lit a pale blue candle, a tiny glass of red wine in my hand, looking into the sky which was just preparing for the night: still pale blue at the horizon, and darker above - when a voice came from the flat above me: "Britta?"
As I am a very, very northern girl, coming from Bremen, I love my privacy - meaning: for me the balcony, which has a roof (!), is like a chamber to me - absolutely private.
And you could only see a hand of mine, from above, not more.
So I stayed silent.
"Britta? Are you alright?" 
No way to hide. Yes, my dear neighbour, I appreciate that you are caring - I really do, and thank you for that! - I can assure you - and  everyone:

"Yes - I am alright."  

Toodle pip! 




Sunday, 2 April 2017

Just Jump!

I always liked the motto of Mr. Disraeli: "Never complain, never explain" -
I will take the secod half of it (never was a complainer).
So: think of Agatha Christie's disappearance for a few days (and honestly: what is a month? These days it flashes past like a few days...)

I found a wonderful little sketch in the great book
           "Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered"
by (beloved) Quentin Blake and John Cassidy (Klutz.com)

It is so useful - not only for drawing,
no: for our whole life!



You are allowed to fill this space (and the page this drawing is printed on is four times larger!) with comments on my absence.
I will read them diligently. (Though I cannot decipher them :-)

And then Í will start to write another post. As if nothing has happened. (Though it has. All is well).

Yes, I decided to jump right in. (Otherwise I might never start again).








Thursday, 16 February 2017

Last Confetti from Venice

©Brigitta Huegel


Here - to end my report on Venice - a few confetti-like impressions which I especially remember.
(Honestly: you don't really want to see my 720 photos and listen to the description of every church or painting or Guggenheim we visited - at least 13 km walk every day, not included the vaporettos - even after three pictures of the wonderful marble floors that were everywhere you would politely yawn and remember your appointment at eleven, Pooh-bear-way).

©Brigitta Huegel


©Brigitta Huegel

©Brigitta Huegel

because, somehow, they might look all the same to you_ 

©Brigitta Huegel

I will remember:

- the smell --- water against old buildings, a musky mouldering smell - smell activates the memory of the very first time as a child in Venice
- the glitter on the often surprisingly bright turquoise water, and the very blue sky

©Brigitta Huegel

- tons and tons of gold - on stucco, on buildings, on paintings
- the beautiful old ladies in their huge furs (it WAS cold), yet wearing thin silk stockings. Venice has a very vivid timeless elegance - both: the (often old) people and this old city do LIVE, thank you very much!

©Brigitta Huegel

- the almost "fop" elegance of the men - beautiful patterned pencil-case thin cloaks they wore, utterly beautiful shoes (go in rags in Berlin and nobody will care - come as what the Berliner thinks of as "overdressed" - and they will stare).
- the long, long "Lido" where we took a very long walk in bright sunshine along the turquoise sea, crunching shells under our feet - I picking up shells -- just can't resist - which is for the grown-up persons accompaniyng me sometimes a bit trying... shall I keep the bizzare one, the interesting black one or - the pink one? And of course this child woman was utterly convinced to have found a rough piece of jade, which grown-up eyes tried to disenchant into "a piece of old glass formed by the sea" (let them talk... the lump of jade lies on my windowsill now, together with the - of course pink - shell...)
- the Venetian dialect: WONDERFUL! That is the Italian I had wanted to learn! (In Berlin I left after the second Italian course and after having visited Rome -- but now: two days ago I unpacked my Italian school books and will start again - uno, due tre!)
- My unability to laugh with all the other visitors in the Doge's Palace, when we were in the "interrogation" room.

©Brigitta Huegel


The guide made a little joke, and I, being normally a person who laughs easily, looked at those awfully low cells, the walls breathing out suffering, and icy cold. I looked longingly through the window,

©Brigitta Huegel

and silently congratulated my brother Casanova, who managed to escape. So close together: utterly horrible conditions - and golden splendour - and how easy it is to fall from the hight of luxurious abundance into this prisonal black, bleak despair.

©Brigitta Huegel


©Brigitta Huegel

- If I would live in Venice, I soon would have a problem: not much nature.Two parks, very few trees, a few seagulls. You can give me all the Tintorettos, and the gold, and the theatro Venice: after a few weeks I would heavily cry for a forest, or at least a garden.

©Brigitta Huegel

- a surprise were the quite low prices in restaurants, and even more in those funny little cafés, were "the typical Italian" hastens in, grabs a tramezzino, washes it down with an espresso - and out he is again - quick, quick!
- And with this beautiful little "discolo" - wind-bag - for only 1 Euro - and so delicious! - I leave you, my Dear You - this should have been more than enough as an appetizer for Venice...

©Brigitta Huegel


Yours Truly (a humble tourist among others)

©Brigitta Huegel