A new visitor

fieldfare - Wacholderdrossel (1 of 1)

As mentioned before, we don’t mind sharing our apples, and in the fall, we tend to be too lazy to harvest the ones on top of the tree make sure to leave some for our winter guests. They remain largely disregarded for most of the fall and throughout early winter, but once they have gotten the right amount of frost (I imagine the principle is the same as that for ice wine), they tend to be very popular.

This particular gourmet is a new one to our garden. The all-knowing internet tells us it’s a fieldfare or Wacholderdrossel (“juniper thrush”) in German. According to the German wikipedia, it winters further south and starts heading home in mid-February, so our visitor is clearly the early bird that got the apple and quite possibly the first sign of spring.

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Busy bee

Bee (4 of 6) On one side of our garden, along the fence to a neighbour’s driveway, there is a patch of marigolds that usually does not get a lot of attention. By us humans, that is, because this winged visitor could not quite get enough of it.

Bee (1 of 6)Feel like licking your finger and wiping that piece of lint off her? You’re probably a parent.

Bee (2 of 6)

Bee butt. Say it ten times fast.

Bee (5 of 6)

Some clover for variety …

Bee (3 of 6)

… then quickly back to marigold land.

Bee (6 of 6)The husband tells me I need to work on my f-stops. (Everyone’s a critic.)

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Friday night turtle II

turtle (1 of 1)Photo taken by the husband in Marsa Fukeri (Egypt) earlier this year. Notice the remora latched onto her back. We repeatedly watched turtles trying to scrape off their somewhat cumbersome passengers but these guys are usually back in place within seconds.

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Dispensation from gravity

Stepping into the husband’s office this afternoon, I spotted this:


Grainy cellphone pics only, sorry

Intrigued, I stepped closer:

photo-3photo-4photo-1And yes, I do realize that this apparent miracle is a reflection on my housekeeping skills or lack thereof. But I have been known to go by the name of Morticia Addams on a certain website, so I think the occasional cobweb is quite alright. As long as the husband is happy, the cats are healthy and my orchids are thriving, all is good in my world.

photoPS: Still here, just very busy.

PPS: If anyone knows where I can get a hold of my chair, please let me know.

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Random* cat post V


Isla watching a bird from the comfort of my belly


Not sure what the husband did to deserve this grumpy look …

* as in “random pictures of my cats”, not “pictures of random cats”. Although I might do that, too.:)

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You say potato, I say Kartoffel

I rescued a broken rain barrel (with a crack at the bottom) from my mother’s compulsive need to discard everything — a compulsion, btw, that is the exact opposite of that of my paternal step-grandfather, who needed to save everything because it surely would come in handy one of these days (and it usually did, he was very popular around our neighbourhood — keep in mind that in East Germany, you usually couldn’t just go to a store to buy what you needed). In this family, we don’t do things by halves. But I digress.

I rescued the rain barrel because I thought it would be perfect for a particular someday-maybe project of mine. I have lots of those, including keeping chickens (as my grandmother once did on this very property), which, for the time being, is being met with resistance from the husband. I don’t want to eat the chickens, of course, and not even necessarily the eggs (I haven’t eaten eggs in the past 13 months), I just really like chickens. But I digress again. (Note to self: Albet i Noya’s yummy tempranillo may be vegan but it does contain alcohol.)

Where were we? Right, the rain barrel. The idea was to try and grow potatoes as described here. To make it more fun, I wanted to use a heritage variety but since I was late getting started, the selection was very limited. I eventually settled on a kind called Reichskanzler (with a name like that, you know it wasn’t cooked up in a Monsanto lab recently).

In addition to the crack that was already at the bottom, I had the husband drill a few more holes into the bottom of the barrel and also put the barrel on a couple of bricks we had lying around for better drainage. The bottom of the barrel was filled with dried leaves from our birch and a bit of soil from the compost. I put the potatoes into the rain barrel on May 17th:photo1First signs of life on May 28th:


May 31st:


June 4th:


photoI’ve now covered about half of this growth with additional soil from the compost and will keep doing so over the summer. The idea is that the plants will grow a new layer of potatoes in each layer of soil. We’ll see if that works — I’ll report back.

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The colour burgundy

When my grandmother was a teenager, her only brother went to war. It was World War I and he never returned.

When my grandmother was a new mother with two toddlers, men came to her house (the very house I live in now) and threw her husband down the basement stairs. Over and over and over again. He was an airplane constructor and had said he would not build any planes that would be used to throw bombs over England. Not the smartest thing to say in Nazi Germany. Eventually, the men left and my grandfather was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries. (I call it death by anglophilia.)

When I was a young woman, I fell head over heels for a young Englishman I met on a trip to Belgium. Things did not work out but decades down the road, we are still friends, teasing each other about football and how old we have become. Never did I have to fear that he and my brother would meet in a trench somewhere.

If my husband were ever to fall down our basement stairs, it would probably be because he stumbled over a cat. And my love of most things English is unlikely to cost me my life.

Today, when I walk through the streets of Berlin, I hear English and Polish and Spanish and Portuguese. Young Europeans come here and live here and work here without even needing any kind of permit. They don’t fight wars, they have lovers’ quarrels and tease each other about football.

Germany has borders with no fewer than nine other countries, most of whom it has made war against one time or another (or repeatedly). Yet today, not a single one of these borders is guarded. There are no checkpoints or guards or any kind of obstacle — just a sign by the road telling you that you have just entered another country, easy to miss. It’s a world my grandmother probably could not have imagined.

For all the complaints one can have about the European Union’s bureaucracy and overreach and expense — in my book, they are a small price to pay for the fact that, while my grandmother had experienced two devastating wars by the time she was my age, I have always lived in peace.

If you have one of these burgundy passports shared by more than 500 million people inĀ  28 countries (amazing, isn’t it?), please go and vote this week. And please, please don’t vote for any of these Front Nationals or True Finns or Alternativen or UKiPs or whatever that tell you we would be better of without Europe.

Because we wouldn’t be. Just ask my grandmother. Or yours.

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