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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving and the Weihnachtsmarkt

The Christmas Season seems to have started early in Ostwestfalen this year.  Today is Thanksgiving in the USA and plain old Thursday here.  I remember the Weihnachtsmarkt opening on the Monday after the First Sunday in Advent, but this year it's the Monday before the first Sunday in Advent.  That may be a little too long for me.  It's thrown my planning off as well as my poor sense of time.
There's just so much bratwurst you can eat (although the pork chops and baked potatoes should be available on a full year basis).

The setup here in Herford is a little different than many.  The handcrafts are housed in the Rathaus Market Hall, which is separated from the rest of the stands and festivities and can easily be missed by those unfamiliar with it (it took me five years before I discovered it!) in the same way that the Gänsemarkt can be missed when people come to the end of Bäcker Strasse and look across the bridge and think 'There's nothing in this direction'.

Signs, or banners, or maps would be nice.

None of these criticisms are meant to be negative.  I used to do process improvement for a living, so I'm just trying to be helpful.  I love the Weihnachtsmarkt, not just the physical thing, but the concept. It's so much jollier and cozier than an indoor shopping mall, where you probably won't find baked potatoes.....

So, Happy Thanksgiving, America.  Come on over and visit before the New Year.  We can eat potatoes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

No News is Good Enough

I woke up this morning and nothing was right and nothing was wrong.  I was awake and aware of the floor beneath my feet.  I performed the usual rituals with my teeth and other parts of my body, made a pot of coffee and now it's two in the afternoon.  There was, between waking and writing, a walk to the grocery store, and a mid-day meal of homemade bruschetta.  I've been experimenting with various mixtures of vegetables and fish, hard cheeses, soft cheeses, on bread or with rice.  I'm still fat, but I'm having more fun cooking and eating. 

That is, of course, incidental.  The important part is that I am alive, which means there's nothing to complain about.  I sleep well, I eat good, I have a lot of fun reading, writing, carving, walking, and occasionally conversing in the national language of my adopted country.

There are birds to look at, the occasional hedgehog, spiders, caddis flies, and all sorts of interesting landscapes.  Gautama Buddha once said that have a robe and something to eat is all that you need. I've got khakis and blue jeans, t-shirts, and pullovers enough for an entire monastery and I've already told you about eating.

Another hundred years and I may well be enlightened.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

rain slows me down

it has been raining on the street for a few days now.  rain here in ostwestfalen seems to be able to penetrate the skin through any rain gear I own, creating a dull mind and a lackluster spirit.  breathing helps dissipate the soggy feeling, coffee helps dissipate the dullness of mind.

I don’t often stay at home for an entire day, but when I do, it reminds me that right minded writing is not only fun, but can be useful, so here I am, back to say that I’m still living on Steinstrasse, and life, despite the rain, is good.  The rain is good, even though it’s Ostwestfaelisch rain. 

I’ve been working on a couple of stories, and, of course, the Never-Ending story of the Yellow-House.  The novel is too expansive to ever really be a novel, which has given me the opportunity to turn it into short stories and a personal cosmology.  I’m having fun and learning, to me, the point of existence.  Next time around, said the monk, I’d like to be what I am, who doesn’t matter.

Wishing you a good day from Steinstrasse, peace, love, and contentment.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A First Encounter

For the past ten years, I've been drifting around Europe.  I've visited the capitols of many countries, stood on the platforms of the busiest train stations, walked around in crowds, and I've never been mugged or pick-pocketed until this week.

I'm a sucker for children's charities, so when a young lady approached me with a clip board and asked for a contribution, even though she didn't (so she said) speak a word of German, it looked legitimate, so I offered five euros, paying with a ten.  As she was making change, her friend approached, and in the hubbub, I watched as they counted out five one euro coins into my hand. They thanked me, I smiled, and walked away happy. 

I walked around for awhile, went home to eat, and went back out a few hours later.  It wasn't until I went to pay for some pipe filters that I noticed my wallet (which had previously held somewhere between 100 and 200 euros) was empty.  Zapped by good intentions, I walked across the square, retrieved some more money, went back to the tobacco shop, paid for my stuff, then sought out the police and reported my inattentiveness!  The policeman and I had a good laugh over the magic trick and he made some notes, told me never to give money to strange people and that was that. 

Pick-pockets and con-artists in Europe are really slick.  Most of them have been trained since birth in slight of hand and misdirection and the really good ones don't get caught.  Eyes open, but don't turn your back on being kind.  Life is good.  Share the goodness.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

springing into inaction

 In the beginning, I thought I was a writer. A little later, I accepted myself as a poet. So did a lot of other people.

 Then came the world.

 It took over twenty years of silence before I gave myself a another chance. And So, I write. I write of mystics, Zen Masters , Physicists, Photographers, Painters, Punters, and Politicians. I write, I think about Writing, and sometimes, I let myself be read.

 I don't like loose ends.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stone Street in Winter

I've been away from the keyboard for a bit.  I've got over forty short stories in various stages of completion that need my attention, a very large backlog of photos in need of sorting, editing, and possibly posting, and six pieces of wood beginning to look like something, but in need of a disciplined hand.

All of this leads up to winter on the Street.  It's been a few years since we've had what I'd call winter.  Deep snow.  Sunshine.  Cold.  Winter.  I don't know if it's my fault, but since I've been here, winter has become a preponderance of damp, gray days which don't last very long, accompanied by an attitude of procrastination and comfort foods.  If I were a New Year's resolution type, I'd have said 'no more goofing off', but I'm not, and I didn't.

I sometimes thing that my choice of a solitary life of contemplation and meditation is in conflict with my basic need to create. Those are weak moments.  The two are compatible.  I am able to calm, and empty my mind, then fill it again, with mind doodles.  Sometimes I post them, but for the most part, the live in the cloud, waiting for electron decay to send them off to entropic nonrecognition.

When I write it all down like this, I realize it's good.  No need to be recognized.  I am.  For now. Nothing to complain about.  I'm awake, and there's coffee.

Peace and Love from Steinstrasse..

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Moving Right Along....

It's beginning to look like I'll have to change the name of the blog to 'The Somewhere Else Report'.  My landlord just left with a group of folks who have decided to buy the place.  The young woman who will be taking it is really excited about it, but wants me to stay until next September so she can get it all together with furniture and renovations and so and so....

The question is:  where to next?  The candidate list is small, but broad.

  • Schwarzwald-The Black Forest, home of cuckoo clocks and nice mountains that even an old man can get up without a rope.
  • Pfaelzerwald: full of wanderways and fairy-tale villages, castles, monasteries, and other antiquities, near the Rhine and the Mosel, familiar, yet still a place not fully explored.
  • Right Here.  I like Herford.
Long shots:
  • Somewhere in Spain
  • The South of France
  • Krakow or Warszawa
  • Estonia
  • One of the German islands in the Baltic
I'm taking suggestions.  Feel free to leave a comment.