they’ve just locked away their goods for the rest of the weekend

  

Reading more blogs about living in Germany, I’m noticing there’s quite a lot of material I’ve not even bothered to cover here. When you live somewhere long enough, even as an outsider, you begin to take local oddities for granted. 

Last week, for example, I was rushing out the door to grab some milk, and I muttered under my breath how much I hated it that there’s no grocery store right on my block. In most central districts of Munich, there’s at least one supermarket, if not a few, within stumbling distance of almost anywhere you might live. 

Where I used to live in Munich’s Neuhausen-Nymphenburg there were not only plenty of larger stores on offer, and even in the side street around the corner was a bakery that had emergency supplies available on Sunday morning in case you forgot to grab something before the stores closed on Saturday. 

That’s another oddity about living in Germany, well certainly Bavaria at least: once places close up shop on Saturday evening, they don’t open again till Monday morning. Sunday is quite literally a day of rest when it comes to commerce. Although there are exceptions for petrol stations and news agents, it’s actually against the law for most businesses to be open on the Day of The Lord.

A bit of a pain to get accustomed to – what with making sure you’ve got supplies for the entire weekend – it’s ultimately a relief to have a day where not much is going on mercantile-wise. People go for long walks or drive to the mountains or talk to each other. Can all of those things happen even when the shops are open? Sure they can. It just seems like there’s more of it going on when most everything’s closed. 

Don’t get me wrong. When I’m visiting friends in London or even spending the weekend in Berlin, I appreciate the longer opening hours. There are certainly times I’ve wished my adopted hometown was a bit more with the times when it came to this sort of thing, but it’s curiously something you get used to. 

When I first moved here, Saturday hours were even shorter. I’ve been told that weekday hours used to be even shorter, as well. Glad I didn’t have to deal with that. 

So here I am in one of the nicest parts of Munich, and I’m complaining that I’ve got to schlep down the hill to grab some milk & sundry items. As I’m going back up the hill admiring the beautiful old buildings that I rarely fail to notice & appreciate, I look in the reflection of a small pond. The tree in the photo above is what I saw. 

Now it’s Saturday evening & they’ve just locked away their goods for the rest of the weekend. Who knows how I’ll enjoy my Sunday, but it won’t be stuck inside some  shop. Might even end up having a conversation. You know, like with a real person. 

Generosity toward the future

My boy dog Louis enjoying the moment

‘Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.

(Albert Camus)

Perhaps it’s a side effect of aging, but I find myself complaining about weather more than I did when I was younger. When I was quite young, my grandmother was obsessed with watching the evening news, and the part that seemed to always perk her up was the weather forecast. For some reason the nightly ordeal baffled me. ‘Why not just look out the window in the morning & plan accordingly?‘ my childhood self would quietly ponder. 

And now? I’ve joined my grandmother in the legion of people who can ignore most of the rest of a newscast if need be, but the minute we hear the weather mentioned, we salivate like Pavlov’s proverbial dog. It’s really quite nice here because the German Tagesschau, which is the national evening news that comes on punctually at 8 o’clock, is rather regimented in its timing. You can almost set your clock by when the weather forecast is coming. Right near the end, you hear the newscaster say, ‘Und jetzt die Wettervorhersage…‘ (And now the weather forecast), and if you’re one of us, a sense of curious security washes over you. 

Why is that? What is it about me (and perhaps you, as well) that gets such pleasure in knowing what weather patterns are headed this way in the next 24 to 72 hours? Even when the forecast is wrong, and my grandmother used to delight in discovering that last night’s forecast wasn’t accurate, there’s still some sort of reassurance to know what is coming over the horizon. 

Is there still some of that obstinate 9-year-old in me who wishes we could just take the weather as it comes? If you look out the window in the morning & see dark clouds, then bring along an umbrella. If the weather turns in the middle of the day, what’s the worst that happens? You get a little wet. So be it. 

I’ve noticed that I’ve banged on about the weather quite a lot on this blog over the last several months. It’s a bit harder in the dead of winter to read that above-mentioned Camus quote and not want to throttle the old Frenchman. If he were still around, that is. 

Yet now it’s springtime. It should be somewhat easier to live in the moment. To watch the flowers blooming and hear the birds chirping and think, ‘This is what it’s all about, right?

A small, steady voice in the back of my head doesn’t miss a beat and answers, ‘Yes, but it’s not exactly summer, is it? That’s when it gets really good. That’s something to look forward to.

Take that, Uncle Albert. 

My beautiful heathen

 

drinking tea with My Beautiful Heathen

 

Nearly as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve been trying to avoid talking too much about twitter. For one thing, it’s incredibly boring if you’re not already there. So many people with whom I interact in my daily life ridicule the medium, and I gave up long ago any hope of changing their minds.

I did have a blog before twitter and like many blogs, it simply died on the vine. I had some decent content there about living abroad and whatnot. Curiosities and my personal take on anything that struck my fancy – the blog was read by very few people and I suppose that’s the nature of many people’s first forays into blogging.

Then there were a few years where I primarily blogged about tea. When people hear that, they often give me an incredulous look and ask if that’s even a thing. Indeed, it is. There’s quite an active community of tea bloggers the world over, and because of the above-mentioned writing, I know a good number of them, albeit virtually.

Tea people didn’t read my tea blog for information on tea. As a matter of fact, my writing very rarely provided any useful information on the subject. I was specifically writing to the non tea drinkers to attempt to lure them over to the leaf. And my unorthodox approach to tea blogging didn’t hurt me in that community either. There were plenty of informative blogs about how long to steep your tea; I was offering something entirely different.

Because of the stereotype of little old ladies drinking their afternoon tea, there was a rather whimsical moment in which a fellow tea blogger struck upon the idea to aggregate the musings primarily of us more masculine tea lovers. Without consulting us, he created a page called the Beasts of Brewdom. It still exists if you insist on going and looking for it. You might even find some of my long lost posts over there.

Oh, look. I found a link: Beasts of Brewdom

Recently, I was asked to contribute something and here I’ve finally gotten round to it. It was a writing challenge, which I didn’t entirely understand, but my challenge came in the form of a tweet. Here it is if you’d like to see the original:

The offending tweet

If you couldn’t bother to click through, it said, ‘…ohh Beasts! I challenge @lahikmajoe to write with ‘My Beautiful Heathen‘.

Well, if you know anything about heathens, you know they shouldn’t consume too much caffeine. My tea cabinet is almost devoid of any herb tea, but this is one of the only exceptions.

Hamburger Schietwetter Tee…for an ugly rainy day. A perfect opportunity to stay indoors with just such a cuppa.

There. Challenge accepted and fulfilled. For those of you who might be confused by this blogpost, I’ll be returning to the regularly scheduled Miscellaneous Blog in the next several days.

Shining in the light of the setting sun

 

When you’ve got nothing interesting to say, talk about the weather. Right?

Well, I’ve got plenty of interesting things to talk about….still the coming springtime is on my mind. This wasn’t the hardest winter, but I’ve been ready to usher it out the door for most of February. I’m not normally like that, which tells me that my impatience has gotten the best of me.

So, the photo above was taken while a friend & I walked across Munich in the last of the day’s light. It was such a gorgeous, clear day that we began in a beer garden & just found ourselves soaking in the long-awaited sunlight. We both had other things we needed to be doing, but we continued to say to ourselves, ‘Just a few more moments.’

Here’s my favourite church in town – it’s the St. Lukas, and I’ve pondered for years why I like it so much. I can stand and gaze at it for stretches of time. Jostling myself, I’m not entirely sure how long I was lost in my reverie.

Think I did some research about it years ago for an article I was writing, and I could throw around facts about St. Lukas which I’d thought would help me rationalise my obsession with it. To no avail. I’ve forgotten the details and yet I still love the beauty you can see in the photo shining in the light of the setting sun.

 

Then there’s the  Müller’sche Volksbad, which is my local sauna. At some point, I’ll write an entire blogpost about this place. It deserves plenty of attention, I assure you. 

Once again, we could’ve taken public transport farther into the city, but my walking companion and I decided to keep hoofing it. Savouring the last glimpses of what had been such a gorgeous day, we snaked our way through some of the oldest streets in Munich‘s city centre. The evening was upon us and without the sunset, we no longer had what had seemed just s short while before such a perfect excuse to procrastinate. 

I’ll leave you with a photo of the Frauenkirche. It’s a symbol of our city and the part of the skyline that makes any photo distinctively Munich. What a perfect way to wrap up this tour. If you happen to be in my adopted hometown sometime, drop a line. I can normally be persuaded to take exactly such a walk. 

Fine words butter no parsnips



Well, I was just kidding when I assured Robert Godden that I’d used ‘Fine words butter no parsnips’ in a long ago blogpost. Purportedly, he’s just spent an hour looking through the archives of my various blogs for the nonexistent time I used that phrase…now I almost feel bad, but not really. 

Maybe he-of-gullible-tendencies Mr. Godden actually happened upon some decent writing for a change. Chuckle chuckle…actually, he knows he’s one of my favourite tea bloggers. Hell, I’ll go out on a limb & say he’s just an all around superior blogger with or without the tea. 

Back to the point:

What on earth does that butter & parsnips nonsense up above even mean? Well, my impatience got the best of me & I simply stumbled over to Wikipedia, where I was told the meaning of ‘Fine words butter no parsnips‘.

Here it is:

Nothing is achieved by empty words or flattery.

Nothing? Really? 

What about that nice thing I said about Old Man Godden several lines back? You don’t think I achieved anything there? If nothing else I might get some tea sent to me. If you knew how good his tea blends are, you wouldn’t scoff. 

So, the jury is still out. Did my flattery of that demented madman of a teablogger and general wackadoo of a human being do me a lick of good in replenishing my barren tea cabinet? 

Watch this space: the suspense is killing me. 

Reading the paper on a Sunday

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Have felt a bit out of sorts lately, and then the weekend comes around and I don’t get nearly enough done on my writing projects. I’m juggling this and that, and seemingly without warning Sunday evening sneaks up on me.

What on earth have I been doing since Friday night when the vast expanse of the weekend was laid out before me?

Well, a lot of living got done between then and now, but I find myself asking what I’d most like to do with the few hours left. Why not read the newspaper?

‘What madness is this?’ you ask. Well, this used to be part of any decent leisurely Sunday.

Actually, only a few generations ago people read the evening paper regularly upon returning from a long day’s work. I’m old, but I’m not that old. Evening papers had gone the way of the dinosaurs by the time I became an obsessive media consumer.

Wait, you know what I’d forgotten while writing the above? My adopted hometown of Munich happens to still have one of those paper that comes out as the sun goes down. It’s got an incredibly inventive name, even. It’s the Abendzeitung, which conveniently means ‘evening newspaper‘.

I’ve heard people rag on it as long as I’ve lived here, but the Arts and Culture section isn’t bad and I actually learned a lot of German while reading it in my early days here in the Bavarian capital.

The photo up above is actually of the much more serious paper up the road in Frankfurt, which I won’t mention by name. The local papers don’t have a Sunday edition, so I end up slogging through this one when I get a hankering for old fashioned print.

‘You do know that you can get all of your news digitally, right?’

Yep, it’s just not the same. Back to my paper…enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Oh, apropos of the above: here’s a link to a funny Pearls Before Swine comic.

trumpeting in the shadows of the Dom

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When I’ve got writing assignments, along with their requisite deadlines, I end up letting other things slide. My blog is an obvious victim of this mentality, and sure enough I’ve neglected you my legions of readers.

As anti intuitive as it might seem though, I seem to be able to write those more serious things better when I’m regularly continuing with this blogging lark.

There have been plenty of things going on in the world that I’ve got opinions about, and what little I share here about my private life is generally good fodder for reflection. So, I suppose some of you who’ve been clamoring for my take on things can just settle down. I’m still here – as whimsical as ever in my better moments.

The above photo was taken in Bremen a few weeks ago, while I was doing research for an article that I could say was dry and boring, but it wouldn’t be true. In addition to getting to write about something that really fascinated me, I also found myself tooling around the Schnoor, which is the old city centre in Bremen.

I’ll have to talk more about that in another blogpost, but needless to say it was quite an enjoyable afternoon. The above-photoed trumpet players standing in the shadows of the Dom (cathedral) are trumpeting the news that I’m back in the blogging business.

Soon enough you won’t even remember that I’d been gone.