Saturday, March 28, 2015

links that touched me: art, life, photography...

When I come across an interesting link / video / story that touches me, I often copy the link to blog about it at a later point. Yet by then, there's already another interesting link that is waiting... to keep the links from vanishing unblogged, I started this "links-that-touched-me" series.
Here's the next part:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Going Bananas

New old places: yesterday i visited the "Wilhelma" - a combination of botanical garden and zoo, not far from here. It's a wonderful place, and includes a Mauric garden. Not sure why I havn't been there since years. They also have a monkey house - which later made me remember that cross-genre monkey story i once wrote. Thinking of it now, I really should have tried a monkey photo..  

Going Bananas

(back then)
In the clinic. “Drink it,” the man in white says. I shrug and drink. The juice tastes sticky sweet. “What’s it for?” I ask.
Instead of answering, he hands me the rolled up bills. Easy money. All they need is another blood sample in a week.

(24 hours later)
Out for a snack. I am just chucking my empty cup in the bin and heading for the door when this incredibly cute guy goes “Hey monkey” and I look around to see who he is talking to. It takes me another three seconds to realize he means me.

Now, I normally never get chatted up these days because a) I'm often with my bf when I venture out and b) I think I have this contented kind of vibe about me that says 'I'm happily attached thanks very much'. So not much on the old flirtation front, and thus a bit out of practice. Yet, I am still able to judge that the look this guy gives me is nowhere near light hearted eye contact. It is pure puzzlement. I decide to smile back nevertheless. He points towards my rear end.

Turning around, I get a glimpse of a long bushy tail. The whole place falls silent. Then someone starts to scream. Panicked, I dash out. The paparazzis will be here soon, that much is sure. I need to escape. And hailing a cab is no option. I run, I jump. I wriggle my tail. Then I go for the next facade. Up and up I climb, until I reach an open window. I peek in, the room is empty, so there I am, saved for the moment.

(in the kitchen)
The panic made me hungry. I open the fridge, hoping to find something to eat. Not so. It is a plastic desert with some cheese and a bottle of tomato ketchup on the lower shelf. I grab the last of the surviving oranges from the fruit bowl.

Back to the living room, into the leather armchair, which was a water buffalo when it was still alive. At least that is what I imagine, while I zap through channels. There is the news, but I haven’t made the headlines yet. Maybe I never will. In a city like this, it probably takes more than that to get the helicopters in the air.

(an hour later)
TV, the eternal opium for the masses. Reruns of NYPD Blue. The police cars dashing through the roads like dragon flies, chasing bad guys around the block, bargaining with kidnappers. A million for a life, a bullet for the wrong move. The black box draws me inside, I am the hero, I am the gold chained gangster.

The street is flashing in blue and red colour. If I opened the window now, they would shoot me live. I demand a wagonload of milk shakes and freedom for all monkeys caged in zoos. It’s too much and not enough. There must be a better deal, there always is. I zap through channels for inspiration.

(on the road again)
We race down a highway. "You will really need to know how to use equations when you grow up," they said. Wrong they were. All it takes is a fast car. And a driver.

On and on we go. The road leads towards the jungle. That is what they promised. It’s a long ride, and I get tired of holding the driver at gunpoint. So I skip the gun, and grab one of the shakes.

That’s when the driver turns to me and says "You're pretty trusting going into the middle of nowhere with someone you barely know, aren't you?" He eyes me up, bushy tail and all. I feel a little scared, but I just make a joke of it. “Don’t you dare touch me, or I call my brother,” I tell him.

The driver doesn’t want to believe. He stops the car and starts to get into my hair. “King Kong,” I scream. The driver laughs and laughs. “Just kidding,” I say, to keep him distracted and amused. But I can hear his steps already, coming closer.

The shadow of my brother falls upon us. It stops the driver’s laughter flat. Alas, it’s too late. And there is no option of bargaining. Not with K.K. He lifts him up in the sky, to throw him as far as he can. Like in the movies, yet better, as it happens in full panorama size. 

Humming a melody from an old black and white movie, my brother waits until the vultures are silent again. Then he takes me in his hairy hands and carries me home.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

tune of spring

4 spring moments, for photo friday.
so good that the days are growing longer and more colorful

more spring moments from around the world:
photo friday

Saturday, March 21, 2015

reading notes: books from Sweden, France, Germany, Mauritania, Indonesia

Catching up with reading notes that wait since February... and while putting them together, I realized that they form a pretty international combination. Quick continent statistic: in 2015, with the 5 reads below included, I so far read 27 books. 12 from Europe, 8 from Asia, 3 from Africa, 2 from America, 2 from Australia (here's a list of the books).

from Sweden: "Collected Poems" by Tomas Tranströmer
A lucky find in the library: the collected poems of Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who was awared the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2011. The Collection includes early and more recent works. One of my favourites so far is "Track", which is also online with 9 other of Tranströmer poems at the official website: Ten Poems by Tomas Tranströmer

from France: "Klatschmohnfrau" ("The Poppy Woman") by Noëlle Châtelet
Chatelet is a French author. In "Klatschmohnfrau" she writes about two retired people who meet and then fall I love, after thinking that this emotion isn't for them anymore. It is a brief but sweet novella. Maybe a bit one-sided: the woman feels that with her former husband, there wasn’t much space for romantic feeling and for joy. But then, it’s too easy to blame years of feeling not much joy just on the partner, I felt when reading. Still, a lovely book (but it seems there's no English translation yet)

from Germany: "Tarzan am Main" by Wilhelm Genazino
Genazino is a German journalist and author. He was born in 1943, and in his writing. His speciality is the precise  description of modern-life everyday moments in a still-life like view. "Tarzan am Main" is a collection that also is about his own life - the place he lives in (Frankfurt at the river Main, hence the title), urban encounters, memories.


And two more recent reads:

from Mauritania: "In the country of round women"by Tine Wittler
This is another chance library find: a memoir of German journalist Tine Wittler, who is both popular but also dealing with criticism as her body isn't model-shape. In 2012, Wittler visited Mauretania, a country with a rather different idea of "model-size": in Mauretania, beautiful women are round. A thought-provoking read that explores another culture.

from Indonesia: "Evacuated" by Kate Benzin and Rudy Tanjung
After reading the Indonesian bestseller "The Rainbow Troops" (here's the reading note), I came across "Evacuated". It's the story of the eruption of Mt. Merapi in 2010 - Merapi is the most active volcano in Indonesia. Kate Benzin and Rudy Tanjung lived in a house 9 miles from it, in a supposedly "save area".


Global Reading Challenge 2015 + Currently Reading:

For 2015, I try to read books / authors from different countries, the idea is to visit all continents. If you want to, join the reading challenge: 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - or just join the international facebook reading group.

In the previous book post, I put together some reading statistics and book memories of 2014 - so if you are into geeky reading statistics, try this link: A year in reading in geek statistics +  book memories

For more reading notes, click here: life as a journey with books. A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

Friday, March 20, 2015

solar eclipse morning

Today the sky brought a sky show of its own kind: solar eclipse! It was visible here in South Germany from half past 9 to half 12, and the skies were open - but I was inside at that time with others in the hospital, getting infusions. We saw the effects of the eclipse together, though, with the view outside turning shaded in a strange way. And with the nurses joking about whose eyesight might be worth to risk for a direct look, while we shared stories of the last visible solar eclipse in 1999.

Now I am browsing photos of the eclipse, twitter is great for that: twitter/#eclipse2015


More skies from everywhere: sky friday

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

blog epiphany, or: moment by moment

yesterday afternoon i was in town, and also stopped at the river - and found that they opened a new walkway there, along the riverside. this morning, that river atmosphere echoed in the first blog post i saw, in the wordpress stream of blogs i follow, with a quote by John O’Donohue (via Mindfulbalance)

I would love to live like a river flows,  
Carried by the surprise of its own unfolding

And another blog epiphany: clicking on a photo, and finding the blog of someone who uses the same blog template like me (link), again with an atmosphere that echoes mine.  (is there a word for this?)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Palma Munich Paris Vienna London Berlin Prague Miami Varanasi, or: City

"City" the photo challenge said ... and turned into a photo & time journey on this day of feeling blue:

 Palma, 2014

 Frankfurt, 2013

Munich, 2012

 Paris, 2011

 Vienna, 2010

 London, 2009

 Berlin, 2007

Prague, 2006

Miami, 2005

Varanasi, 2004

more photo journeys: gray + faces
more city moments: photo friday

Saturday, March 7, 2015

day and night, with 2 special sky surprises

yesterday brought 2 sky suprises:

Circumhorizontal Arc
In the afternoon, looking up, i saw a hazy rainbow-coloured patch in the sky. it wasn't large, and didn't last long, but it's a special sky effect that i've seen once before, in a larger and brighter shape: a Circumhorizontal Arc (here's my first encounter with that effect, when i had no clue what i was looking at: cloud halo)

And later, in the evening, a bright "star" appeared in the sky:


Venus + Uranus + Mars
From the brightness, it was easy to guess that the star actually is a planet. But which one? The sky map app had the answer, which came with a surprise: 3 planets were joining in that spot at that hour: Venus and Uranus and Mars.

Back home, I looked for a website with more information about it, and found it at they have a night schedule with visibility of planets and the moon along a timeline. I marked the constellation we saw with a yellow spot:

So interesting and fascinating, to catch those sky phenomenons.

For more sky moments in this blog, try this link: sky diary
And for more skies from around the world, visit skywatch friday

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Global reading notes: sidetracked, an unknown bestseller, Indonesia + Tasmania

Sidetracked between continents...
The plan for last week was: to read the next book for the 7 Continents Reading Challenge. It didn't really work out. Instead, I read a 5-million-copy-bestseller book that I hadn't heard about before: The Rainbow Troops (more about that, below). And then followed book blog links... and got even more sidetracked, in a good way. As it turns out, there are 2 book blogs that run short theme challenges - and both are interesting and inspiring, and connect to international books that are waiting in my shelf. So March will be the month of sidetrips and stop-overs for me.

Classic novel challenge
Book blogger John Wiswell from the "Bathroom Monologues" runs a yearly reading challenge for classic novels: "This is an annual tradition encouraging people to read the classic novels they've been putting off, because everybody has a few"... more here:  National Novel Reading Month

I will join with a classic of the different kind: "Maus" by Art Spiegelmann, published in 1991, is a classic in the world of graphic novels, and also the first graphic novels that won a Pulitzer Prize.

Eastern European Lit Month
"Winstonsdad's Blog" is a reading blog that focuses on global books - and this month, it will all be about books about / from the former USSR. The idea: "reading books from what made up the soviet bloc behind the iron curtain before it fell", here's the link: Welcome to Eastern European Lit month

I will join with the memoir "Picnic at the Iron Curtain: A Memoir: From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to Ukraine's Orange Revolution" by Susan Viets - the book won the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist's award.

7 Continents reading challenge 
The 7 continents challenge started in January, but it's open all year round, and there are still new readers joining. This week I browsed blogs and links, and now am tempted to get some of the books, too, especially the ones from France and South America. Here are some links:


Reading... into Indonesia and Tasmania

And here are the reading notes from last week:

Rainbow Troops: Andrea Hirata
The “Rainbow Troops” is a memoir from Indonesia, it tells the story of a village school with compassionate teachers who encouraged kids to keep learning – one of thee kids was Andrea Hirata, author of the book.

The touching and surprisingly positive story turned into a huge bestseller in Indonesia, with over 5 million copies sold. It's also a beautiful and inspiring read about the power of knowledge and learning, and the power of magic of books and stories. Here's a summary: "The poverty-stricken school suffers the constant threat of closure by government officials, greedy corporations, natural disasters and the students’ own lack of self-confidence. The story is written from the perspective of Ikal, who is six years old when the novel opens. Just as the author himself did as a young man, Ikal goes to college and eventually wins a scholarship to go abroad, beating incredible odds to become a writer."

I arrived at the book through the Guardian "best books from".. series, and probably will go and see what they suggest for other countries. So far, the reads from there all have been really good.

Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett 
This book... was a wrong order: I read a German book review of Parrett's latest book, which is a book that leads from Australia to the South Pole...and ordered an English copy. Well, turns out, I ordered the "wrong" one: Past the Shallows is set in Tasmania, and in many ways is the counterpart of Rainbow Troops: it's the story of 3 brothers who live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania, and they don't have an encouraging teacher, but have to deal with a troubled father and a painful family secret. It's a sad story, but written in a beatiful poetic voice - and it's probabably the story of many kids who are up against the odds of life.


Global Reading Challenge 2015 + Currently Reading:

For 2015, I try to read books / authors from different countries, the idea is to visit all continents. If you want to, join the reading challenge: 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - or just join the international facebook reading group.

Countries / regions visited so far: most population: China , highest coutry/region: Himalaya.

For more reading notes, click here: life as a journey with books. A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

Monday, March 2, 2015

links that touched me... February 2015

When I come across an interesting link / video / story that touches me, I often copy the link to blog about it at a later point. Yet by then, there's already another interesting link that is waiting... to keep the links from vanishing unblogged, I started this "links-that-touched-me" series.
Here's the next part: