Horror! the Monster! Horror! El marido!

No, don’t laugh, I am trying to be serious. Once it has turned “summer” here in Central Europe, meaning hot and humid and pending thunderstorms or even drought-like weather conditions, everybody starts moaning and groaning about the high temperatures, which often entail the growth of hookworms in the local lakes.

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Now, how about imagining a giant worm, a Lindwurm, a kind of greenish Nessie rising high out of your nearest lake, like Loch Ness? I often get the feeling that people like to exaggerate the temperatures and the dryness or the dampness, whichever. I also often think that each giant Lindwurm sums up a lot of anxious feelings people have  about their future and / or their environment. The big green worm encompassing all kinds of hidden feelings, being grumpy at work, being grouchy to friends and enemies alike, “green behind the ears” , a “greenhorn” when it comes to experiences that weren’t too agreeable,  like a wasp sting here or worms in the box shrubs now. Only they are not quite as awful as the locusts that plagued the Egyptians back in the Old Testament.

The Lindworm (cognate with Old Norse linnormr ‘ensnaring snake’, Norwegian linnorm ‘dragon’, Swedish lindorm, Danish lindorm ‘serpent’, German Lindwurm ‘dragon’) is either a dragon or serpent monster. In British heraldry, lindworm is a technical term for a wingless serpentine monster with two clawed arms in the upper body. In Norwegian heraldry a lindorm is the same as the wyvern in British heraldry. (source : Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindworm)

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Maybe we should consider the Scottish thistle as the better symbol of our summer stings, the thistle being thorny on the outside, but soft and edible on the inside with a lovely purplish color to boot, a delicacy for donkeys:

In 1503, the marriage of King James IV of Scotland to Princess Margaret Tudor of England, seems to have been the inspiration behind the poem entitled ‘The Thrissil and The Rois’ (‘The Thistle and The Rose’) penned by the Scottish poet William Dunbar. The thistle represented King James and the rose represented Princess Margaret.

Toward the middle of the same century, historians believe that Scotlands’ highest chivalric order was founded by King James V (son of King James IV), it’s name was ‘The Order of The Thistle’. It’s heraldic symbol was, not surprisingly, the humble thistle…..Heraldic symbol of the Scottish' Order of the Thistle'. Public domain image, attributed toWenceslaus Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Attribution: Wenceslaus Hollar (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

The official motto of this organization is‘Nemo me impune lacessit’, this Latin translates into ‘No one provokes me with impunity’  (or in Scottish-English ‘ Wha daur meddle wi’ me?’ ) which ties in perfectly with the original legend. (source: https://www.scottish-at-heart.com/scottish-thistle.html)

Whichever symbol you are in favor of, just remember, there is no need to make a mountain out of a molehill, so think like Merlin the Magician and use your head, forget about monsters and enjoy the flowers while they bloom. 20180611_114937.jpg

 

Coco Malé

I’d like to be

under the sea

in an octopus’s garden   in the shade

sings Ringo Starr in his “Yellow Submarine” – how true, the best place in the world at times!

 

This was an Easter trip – unforgettable! We met a marine biologist working for Nature for the owners of the Coco Island near Malé, Maldives. She explained all the plastic garbage / rubbish/ microplastic awfulness in the Oceans of the World.

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Meanwhile I am the proud owner of two cute stuffed turtle fellas and have actively filmed and photographed as many turtles as I could. I have also checked out the corals, dead near the Family Islands in the Great Barrier Reef, ditto in the Red Sea in the Coral Park, ditto but less less awful in Malé, near Denià I didn’t see much due to the wild tempestuous weather leaving a long deep scratch that took a year to heal (no big deal).

And yes, this is the place I’d like to be most. Not only because of the snorkeling, but because of the lovely people and the great meals and the wonderful surroundings and the fantastic bungalows etc. I made more friends here than in other places, which is why we are planning to come again. I also know of others who similarly make repeat visits.

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The cotton turtles are only a reminder of what still needs to be done to save these and other animals from disappearing from the face of our planet. Treating trash and residue lightly or not recycling will have fatal consequences for us all some day. Yes, I am worried about my carbon footprints, but I have not yet learned to fly on my own, anybody out there who knows how?  I just can’t wait to go back in the near future.

 

Love and Patience

The photo above took me more than half an hour of patience at the Botanischer Garten in Munich.

But I do believe it was worthwhile waiting for the butterfly to settle down. (Oh, I just noticed the alliteration and the pun : www.) The biology expert talking to the visitors explained that these butterflies have about three weeks to procreate and then settle down forever. Naturally, they are ‘flutterier’ (is that a word at all?) than other animals who have a longer average lifespan.

Patience is a prerequisite to a happy life. If any of you has ever read M. Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran (Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, 2001),  you will know the quote on page 71:  

« La lenteur, c’est ça le secret du bonheur »

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a yellowish-white butterfly on a hot pink flower

If you look mire closely at the wings’ edges of the blue and black butterfly    (oh dear, another one:  bbb), you can tell that some butterflies tear their delicate wings in the netting as they frantically flutter to and fro (fff! can’t help it!).

In our everyday humdrum lives it is not always easy to do or to practice, but one should always try it with patience.  Some Asian cultures have Buddha as a symbol (for complacency also?) or the lotus flower, which Yoga-lovers like imitating when they sit cross-legged on the floor. Some people enjoy cooking in their kitchenette or sailing around the world in a tiny nutshell.  Some love music (farewell, Sir Simon Rattle! what a fantastic concert in Berlin last night) or love dancing, like I do.  Some soft-spoken ones adore the “sound of silence”, like up on the mountain tops or diving to the ocean’s depths or even going to churches at Evensong, like St. Paul’s, London (eternal thanks to Sir Christopher Wren) silently savoring Gregorian-like chants and German hymns (I wonder which colleague of mine asked them to do us that favor?)

Our current Pope Francis, age 81 in 2018, is a fanal for us Christians. If you really believe in the saying “You should practice what you preach“, then you can easily identify with his lectures and precepts. My rule of thumb is, as he says, if you don’t act according to what you profess to believe in, then you are neither trustworthy nor credible. Exactly like “The Boy who cried ‘Wolf!‘ “.  A façade – phenomenon which is actually quite sad. People you cannot trust do not have many friends, that is a fact.

I am sure many of us cheered Melania on when she recently corrected her husband’s course on U.S. immigration policy and splitting up families. In this instance, Melania reminds me  of Catherine Parr: 

It is thought that her actions as regent, together with her strength of character and noted dignity, and later religious convictions, greatly influenced her stepdaughter Lady Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I of England).[18]

Catherine or ‘Katheryn the Quene KP’  (1512[1] – 7 September 1548)  was the last of Henry VIII ‘s six wives. She was also the one who suggested he become the founder of several Colleges in his old age :

He was an avid gambler and dice player, and excelled at sports, especially jousting, hunting, and real tennis. He was known for his strong defense of conventional Christian piety.[6]  The King was involved in the original construction and improvement of several significant buildings, including Nonsuch PalaceKing’s College Chapel, Cambridge and Westminster Abbey in London.  Many of the existing buildings Henry improved were properties confiscated from Wolsey, such as Christ Church, Oxford; Hampton Court Palace;  the Palace of Whitehall; and  Trinity College, Cambridge. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII_of_England#Marriage_to_Catherine_Parr, accessed 06/24/2018)

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So, once again, we are remembered by our deeds, those deeds which help others get ahead, by showing patience, courage, love and generosity. Now doesn’t that remind us of another loving wife and philanthropist, Bill Gates’ Melinda? Just look at all those wonderful things they have been doing with the money accrued over his comparatively short business life. Truly amazing and inspiring. Another instance of love and patience.

Patience comes from the Latin word patiens:

1. long-suffering 
    erduldend, ertragend, ausharrend [laborum; doloris; servitutis; vetustatis
2. patient
    ausdauernd, geduldig
Love and patience will save the day, your day, carpe diem!

Guts Over Fear – eminently

Most of  you will know this song title by Eminem and Sia (Album Shady XV, 2014). While I greatly admire Eminem for being and eminent WHITE rapper, I must admit I am not much into rap.

As to Sia, I loved the voice but didn’t know a thing about her until I looked her up and found out why: she is eminently shy! Not that I can see any reason for that, her voice is great and I just loved (most of) the lyrics:

Afraid I will never find a way out, out, out,

So here I am and I will not run
Guts over fear (the time is here)     (…)

It is a truth that holds true time and time again. Sometimes you must just overcome that innate fear. You must pull yourself up, proud and tall, and assert your right to your own life, not necessarily against all odds, but against taller, louder, more assertive people who have no qualms howsoever at quashing any kind of resistance or creative thinking, especially when it comes to women:

An angry man’s power will shut you up

Which reminds me of Thumper, the cute bunny friend in Bambi, whose momma commented on what is the best way to react in such a situation of extreme pressure :

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

It definitely pays to be patient and consider your next move, somewhat like on a chessboard. In many cases, it is wiser to remain silent and gather up your courage for the next confrontation.

My heroines are – mostly – courageous women who have stood up for their beliefs. One of them, Maija Plissezkaya (1925-2015), lived in Munich in the Theresienstraße for many years. Russian prima ballerina assoluta. Courage, thy name is woman. Try reading her two books “Ich, Maija” (1996 I, Maija) and “Haltung bewahren” (2009  Retain your Composure/ Posture, a pun on the meaning of Haltung). Both books moved me to tears, as there is a lot of Russian history background, Stalinism among other scenarios, against which this brave female had to battle. For many, many years the men in power refused to let her leave her country and dance elsewhere.

I was reading the first tome sitting in the underground train / subway with the cover photo turned up –  and the two ladies who sat down across from me gasped. As it turned out, mother and daughter were Russians and were delighted to see their brilliant ‘star’ shining in Germany as well. Later, I wrote a note to her editor to tell her how fascinated I was by her life story and I even received a pleasant thank you note in return, shortly before she passed away in Schwabing in the summer of 2015 at the age of 89. She appeared on stage at the age of 70 even. The usual age to stop one’s dancing career is about 40.

My second heroine is Lucia Lacarra. A Spanish Basque, Lacarra saw her first ballet at the age of 14 – which is terribly late for a ballerina – and made it all the way up. When I heard that the Munich National Theater was dismissing her “for being too old” (sic!), I hooted and swore I’d head up to Dortmund some day to see her and her fantastic husband Marlon Dino again. At least Dortmund’s director Xin Peng Wang had the sense to ‘sweep her off her feet’ and invite her to his theater. Lucky him/ Dortmunders.

IMG-20160104-be the girl on right

My third role model doesn’t even realize that she has helped me in my darkest hours with her determination and elegance and pluckiness. She has danced in Tokyo and Salzburg and has taught me how to stand proud and tall. I get to go to her classes on Saturdays and now that I have improved, I really look forward to every class.

Guts Over Fear, Haltung bewahren, stand TALL.  Like a dancer.  “Such stuff as dreams are made on”  says Shakespeare in The Tempest). Ah, dream ….