Oh vanitas! said the old Romans. Often have I wondered why certain people attempt to be over-ambitious and thwart other people’s plans on their way to being at the Top. As if that were the sole purpose of our short lives.
One friend told me about having been bullied for years by her female boss. The lady succumbed to an illness shortly thereafter.
Another, male, wanted to create his own “environment” by ruthlessly gathering information about his employees and then twisting the truth to use it as accusations against them, if they did not do exactly as he wished or if they thought up new, ingenious ideas that could disrupt his secret plans. He seriously hurt several dozen people, emotionally and career-wise, who then had difficulties scrambling back onto the road of normalcy.
Do you remember the movie “War Games” from 1983 with Matthew Broderick? Where a young man attempts a dialogue with the computer he has hacked into and suggests playing the game of Tic tac toe? After numerous runs of the game, the mighty computer gains the insight that no one can win, there is always black and white, good and bad, war and peace. The computer accordingly cancels the initiation of another world war, thus saving the planet Earth.
The current situation in Venezuela is crude: the Venezuelan citizens suffer hunger, thirst, lack of medication, yet are not allowed to pick up aid parcels from trucks on the Colombian side. The military have set up too many barricades, following orders from the Top.
Why can’t people use their common sense and love of one’s fellow man in order to help instead of hinder? We don’t need terrorists and twisted minds. We only have one planet and one life. And the life of either is short. Make peace. Save the planet.
Driving down to Bregenz on the Austrian side of Lake Constance or the Bodensee as German speakers know it is definitely not far, in fact, only little more than two hours from Munich. Yet it is an entirely different landscape, especially since the theater stage is set on or even in the water. This year 2018 the stage-scape was sculpted by the Londoner Es Devlin and never have I seen a more spectacular one. Some of the playing cards or rather “fate tossed between two female hands” seems to still be flying through the air whereas others offer a kind of balcony and the lowest ones lower into the water at the dramatic end.
The cards also change colors and views of their back or colors and suit, at times even dissolving in the rain. The three levels have three different names so the actors, dancers and singers know when to be where. The hands reach up about 20m high. The whores have especially heavy make-up, khol-black around their eyes and the dissolving cards remind one of runny mascara when crying. When Carmen is finally strangled and drowned by her unhappy lover Don José, she actually wears an oxygen tank underneath her flashy red dress. I gasped to see her struggle for so many minutes. My guess was a kind of James Bond breathing device and I guess I wasn’t too far off.
We had a wonderful meal at the lake restaurant and a spectacular sundown. Enjoy a lovely walk around the lake.
On the day prior to the opera by Bizet we “did” Dornbirn where our hotel was located: We first visited a very interesting Rolls-Royce Museum and a tour by the collector’s children.
a fantastic view down the mountains from the “Karren” Seilbahn or incline and a long soak in the great pools of the Waldbad, the forest pools. Whichever other negative points, like the tight legroom of the bleachers and the chaotic parking signs, yes, I’d do it again!
One of the top classic cocktails, and now that the mint flowers are blossoming, a fine time to mix some mojitos against the heat wave Europe is experiencing :
fresh limes, cooled, partially peeled and cut into round discs
cane sugar and a pestle to grind the discs of lime with the teaspoon of sugar
ron añejo, one shot glass
fresh sprigs of mint
crushed ice / cold water and ice cubes
Put several rounds of lime into a mojito glass, a teaspoon of cand sugar on top and grind with the pestle. Add the rum, the crushed ice, some sprigs of mint and a cocktail stirrer. Enjoy while it ‘s hot!
Earnest Hemingway loved this cocktail especially, as every Cuban tour guide will be eager to point out. He was known for his drinking habits, his intrepid nature when in Cuba or in the Spanish Civil War. Whoever looks for clues, will be able to find them in his short stories: one tenth meaning and nine tenths buried in the underneath currents of meaning like an iceberg.
Everybody knows of his physical prowess and his symbols of love, friendship, those bewildered repetitions when his characters must adapt to a new environment, the search for love, light, orderliness, human warmth, not agony or the strain of war. As to a list of good reads, I’d offer you a library shelf or two, my faves were “A Clean Well-lighted Place” “Farewell to Arms“, For Whom the Bell Tolls“, “Fiesta“, “The Old Man and the Bridge“… take your own pick! Oh yes, and for fun, look at his old boat, tiny but double sturdy!
Okay, my Austrian girlfriend had put this tick into my ear: you ought to go to Bregenz and see the See. No, sorry, see the lake-theater (German: Seebühne) built right into the water. How cool can you get! Very!!
Yes, I can very much recommend it if you like Austria (CHECK, our backyard, unless our politicians come up with stupid ideas),
if you like operas (CHECK, especially if hubby is more into the mainstream operatic ones featuring real songs he can sing) (can he sing?),
if you don’t mind being cramped up for about 2 1/2 hours on the hard plastic seat (CHECK, don’t forget fat cushions and yoga class beforehand) (forget about breaks or walking or standing up in between),
if you had a yummy dinner (CHECK CHECK at La Scarpetta in Dornbirn and the Kleines Gasthaus am See, bliss, except fot the three screechers & wailers whose parents couldn’t care less about their offspring’s wails),
So, if you don’t mind all the above- mentioned things, then a weekend trip from Munich to Bregenz (about 2 1/2 hours cramped in a car) and lotsof extra cash is just the thing!
Our Travel Agency took out a chuck by charging our credit card the minute we booked with them.- that is a NO-NO. Normally, your card gets charged for 20% immediately as a kind of promise and the rest about a week or two ahead of the event. Our agency pretended now to know about this etiquette, but I had a long talk with them. After all, there such things as a Terminüberweisung and the bank will make sure the money is transferred right on time.
The hotel chosen in Dornbirn was the right size and category and not too far off from the Seebühne, about 20 km along the B 190, but had definitely seen better days and did NOT have AC. Nor did it have appeal. However, it boasts a very good breakfast, albeit missing the more expensive choices, but I don’t breakfast that much anyway, and the employees are nice and offer cushions and shuttle bus and those things you didn’t know you’d need.
Our escapism took us first to the interesting Rolls-Royce museum in Gütle (8,-€ adult), then the Seilbahn/ incline up the Karren of Gütle (Oh yes, the view iS WORTH it! free overlook in plastic over the precipice) and a great lunch of Lumpensalat (a sausage – cheese – red-onion- vinegar – oil dressing kind) with good beer and even better Almdudler (what? you don’t know the famous lemonade with herbs?).
The hot afternoon was spent in the Waldbad / Gütleright next to the river or creek without much water in this drought, but interestingly full of big and small smooth rocks and pebbles. The Waldbad offers many treats for families, well run.
“Carmen” by Bizet is most certainly in all the operatic books and Wiki. The scoop was the fantastic Bühnenbild/ backdrop done by a lady from London with two gigantic hands tossing the cards of fate. At times, the cards will be lowered at ground level to go partially underwater, so the crowd gets emphatic with skirt tossing and head banging and running and splashing each other, which is just the build-up of suspense to Carmen’s tragic end (how did the singer manage that death scene???) – no, I’m not cheating, you go there yourself, please!
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 waitingfor 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 »
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 afanal 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).
Catherine or ‘Katheryn the Quene KP’ (1512 – 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 :
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.