Tuesday, October 21, 2014

sky directions, smallstones, zen-sational

It was summer again, for 2 days the last weekend: golden October. Simply amazing. I sat outside on the terrace, and it felt like August. Looking up, there was only blue sky. Then a field of rippled clouds passed through, and with it, 5 birds, flying in formation. Probably migrating. A bit later, I looked up again, and there was: a huge flock, definitely on migration course. Such an energy, in just some fleeting moments. I made a quick note to remember, and it turned into a smallstone:

Out of the blue: a field of rippled clouds,
& a huge flock of birds, southbound.
This vibe of sky directions.

Which made me remember January, this month of daily small stones and awareness of small moments. It’s a good reminder to look more for the richness of the days, especially with the shadow that currently lingers, and with the days that are now growing darker and shorter.

In the afternoon I "followed" the birds, and drove to the Alb plateau, and the road led through falling and dancing colored leaves. Such a feast of colors and season, with each moment highlighted by the sun. On the way, I stopped at the small “Buddha park”. Here’s a photo:

Actually, the place belongs to a landscape gardener, they leave it open on weekends for visitors to enjoy and visit. They have several statues there, and the most fancy trees. Walking along the paths feels like the place rather belongs to temple grounds, with its serene touch.

For the visit, I took a book along, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Ruben. I read it last year, and now picked it up again - it feels like the right time to revisit. The book offers practical reflections on happiness and habits, on things and moments, on what makes a day, and the different options we have to deal with things and situations.

It's also focusing on all those habits and situations that are part of busy modern life in a consumer world, where it is easy to lose focus. Here’s a quote from it, from the first chapter (here's more):
“I wasn't depressed and I wasn't having a midlife crisis, but I was suffering from midlife malaise. I had everything I could possibly want – yet I was failing to appreciate it. Bogged down in petty complaints and passing crises, weary of struggling with my own nature, I too often failed to comprehend the splendour of what I had.I didn't want to look back, at the end of my life or after some great catastrophe, and think, 'How happy I used to be then, if only I'd realised it.' In that moment I decided to dedicate a year to trying to be happier.Other people's radical happiness projects, such as Henry David Thoreau's move to Walden Pond or Elizabeth Gilbert's move to Italy, India and Indonesia, exhilarated me. But my project wasn't like that. I was an unadventurous soul, and I didn't want to undertake that kind of extraordinary change. More important, I didn't want to reject my life. I wanted to change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.”
I really liked that last line: to change without change.

Ruben also tries to figure out how happy moments can be enhanced, and comes up with this advice: "I realized that happiness has four stages. To eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must first anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory. Any single happy experience can may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it."

Which leads back to the idea of smallstones or photos: to be more aware of the little moments, to enjoy them, and to note them down - which means: to experience them more fully, find the right words / the right angle, turn them into a memory. And to revisit them.

Seen like that, both smallstones and photos are ways to capture the moments, and to share and revisit them.

And the colors of autumn: I came across this note in one of the photo friday blogs (here):

Autumn is a time of exuberant energy –
It’s quite zensational, in fact

Such a lovely, reflective wordplay.

Now, to revisit some of my own smallstones in this blog, and to take the time to notice new ones.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans, or: Dark Horizon

If things had happened as planned, I would be at the Comic Fair right now. Or rather: I would have been at the Comic Fair for the last 2 days, and now would take the train back home, sitting in the reserved seat that come with a 1st class upgrade for just 5 Euro more. It would have been my first 1st class seat since ages. That is, if the train had been going at all, as the railroad engineer's are starting their labour strike again, Which isn't the point of this post, but which connects to the general theme of these days, and to all those who have plans and tickets and an idea of how their week would shape out. And then watch it all turn to question marks.

It was this time last week that the question mark for me popped up: i was trying to figure out some problem, scratching my skin unconsciously, and while doing so, discovered a knot in my left breast. Since then, the focus of everything pretty much shifted to this knot of cells. And to statistics and examinations and learning about all those things you don't really want to learn about.

The odd things was that just a day before that, I had been at Frankfurt Book Fair, and was excited to see the poetry booth in the Finnland hall. They did "brain poetry", with one of those headsets that catches the magnetic vibes and the rhythm of the  brain waves. I tried it. In German. This is the poem I received, the rhythm of my brain on that day that was unshadowed yet:

Dream long time
Petal, the red 
Ground cherry, the 
Often scattered 
Prayer of the poet
Dark Horizon.

Yes. Dark Horizon. Out of the blue. Like it happened in real, one day later. In cherry-size. Followed by a prayer. By me, the poet/writer/blogger who was lost for words in the following days.

Still not sure how to write about this topic. The short version of this week boils down to: it looks not too bad in ultrasound and in x-ray. Meaning, the chances are rather on the benign side: 80:20 is the ratio that defines the time to come right now. A biopsy is on the way. It will tell more, but then again, all this is a reminder that you never really know. That the ratio of our life is an equation with many unknown factors.

I already had an appointment at the clinic. (Everything is both fast forward and wait-state). That's where the "Sigk" photo is from, not from the clinic itself, but from the school next to it. The photo below is from the clinic hall, they have several large paintings in the entry area. This is one of them.

Next week I will know a bit more. Like I wrote, I don't yet know how to write about this. But then, it would feel weird not to write about it. What else would there really be to write about? Heck, I couldn't even really write about the books I am reading right now. Or the links I follow.

Plus, in the last days, I read articles and blogs from others who have been in the same place. It helps. It gives an idea. It is also scary to read how many have to deal with it: every 10th woman.

Here are some links:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Frankfurt International Bookfair: Printed, Digital, We are Here - Snaphots & Links

Book Fair 2014 "We are Here"

This week, I visited the Frankfurt International Bookfair.
The slogan of the fair in 2014 is "Wir sind hier" - "We are here"

This is Frankfurt city centre and the fair area, seen from the Autobahn. 

And this right inside the fair, the first hall i visited, with a focus on Comics

Suprise: one of the largest booths in the hall belonged to Samsung. They were official partner of the book fair.

From Comics to the North: The guest of honor this year was Finland, and in the midst of all the buzz, they managed to create this special hall of space and calm, and of words spoken in Finnish – there was an author interview on, and just listening to the tune of Finnish was fascinating. It’s not an roman-based language, like most european languages, but runs on a different concept.

From the North, I moved to ... the digital future. The Fair had a special hot spot for digital themes and trends: Forum Zukunft. It was a bit hidden, though.... and turned out to be on the analog side of things. Well. This is "Forum Future" (no kidding.):

And next to the future, a panel for self-publishers. Which is a new thing for the fair:

The star of the day wasn't a book, or an established or upcoming author, but “Cro” – a german rap musician who is panda-masked, and who now wrote a book and gave a miniconcert on the open stage in the middle of the bookfair plaza. Spot the panda in the middle of the scene? That's him. 

Of course, there was much more - German books, international books, authors, interviews, and all the sights of walking through a place where so many different readers and books and authors meet. 

Here's a snapshot with a double-meaning quote I liked: "Die Welt gehört denen, die auch im Netz gegen den Strom schwimmen" - "The world belongs to those who swim against the tide in the net, too." 

And a different kind of collage: the things I picked up along the way:

Some Links to Articles: 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

a marathon called October

(reblogged from October 2013: now it is a different year, yet the same season. today to come: Frankfurt Book Fair. after working into the night yesterday to make time for the fair, for all the words waiting there. the things we do for books and all they represent :)


upcoming.. a marathon called October 
time. i wished i had a room full of it, for October. after the summer time, it seems all and everything is happening now at once. there's Frankfurt book fair upcoming, and the big Comic Action fair. and parallel to it, there are some major project milestones waiting with my freelance web projects.

so summed up, it will be a marathon of October. an exciting one, but also an intense and complex one. i took some time this week to sketch a time-map for October with the main dates and steps. a kind of roadmap, to not get lost.

October blogging & here and now
as it looks, i won't have much time for blogging and browsing and mailing. but i will blog from the bookfair in Frankfurt. and i think of turning more towards mobile blogging, to catch the mood of single moments, and to post directly from another place, to avoid to end up with a huge backlog of photos taken and things to blog about...

...and to be more in the now.
...especially while this now is a marathon.

and as signposts for the marathon time, some quotes and notes that i came across in the last weeks:

Say yes.  
Say no.

Always make things. Chew through your mistakes. Grind your skills. We're all in the same boat here. Good luck and get to work.

Be you.

The word for this season: "Lebensfreude"

And what if we already had all it takes for a beautiful life?

Let go of it.

Don't let the urgent keep postponing the important


On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you?

Step by step.



here's to roads and moments ~

Sunday, October 5, 2014

half moon sunset

The first week of October. Wind from the East, and the roses blooming anew again in the garden, ignoring the season. Today was supposed a rainy sunday, but it seems the skies enjoy contrasting the forecast once more - it is a sunny day.

For photo friday, a sunset moment of this week. the curved half moon in the sky, and below, the clouds changing colors, turning from pastel to grey, and then suddenly one cloud lighting up in pink. it's just about 15 minutes between the 2 photos:


More skies from everywhere: skywatch friday
More curved moments from everywhere at photo friday

Have a beautiful sky week ~

Friday, October 3, 2014

reading notes: snapshots across the globe + longreads + polar reading

Upcoming next week: International Frankfurt Bookfair! I am excited about going there again. The guestland this year is Finland. The Nothern regions of the world were also the destination of 2 of my current reads, and I found a great world anthology. Here's an overview:  

The Places We’ve Been: Snapshots Across the Globe

This is a collection of 48 vivid and transportive, personal and original nonfiction pieces that portray contemporary snapshots across the globe. It offers a great mix of forms and perspectives, from diary-like pieces to notes to reflections. The motto: "The challenge of today is not just "where do I fit in one small place," but identity and interaction throughout the world - Within the book's wide roster, you'll hear from such a range of storytellers, the likes of: a sailor and glaciologist from Scotland, Brooklyn musician, Tanzanian television host, Dubai-based journalist, and a Montreal aerospace medicine enthusiast, plus rural school teachers, a fearless rock climber, five-country midwife, and so many more."
It's available as neat and low-prized e-book. And as I just discovered, there also is a project homepage that might be interesting to browse:  ThePlaces35.com

The next two pieces are online longreads - since August, i visit the hashtag #longreads on twitter, and got lucky with my finds several times. So many good reads out there, and this hashtag helps to find them in unknown places: 

Longread: I Had a Stroke at 33

How does it feel to have a stroke? This essay, based on diary notes, gives an idea of our mind, how it works, and how different life is without short term memory. It's a moving longread, about a woman who had a stroke at age 33, and kept a diary of this time, to remember all the things that she kept forgetting:
“Awake I had a 15-minute short-term memory, like Dory the fish in Finding Nemo. My doctors instructed me to log happenings with timestamps in my Moleskine journal. That, they said, would be my working short-term memory.
For a month, every moment of the day was like the moment upon wakening before you figure out where you are, what time it is. I was not completely aware of what had happened to me. I was not completely aware of my deficits, in an ignorance-is-bliss sort of way. I was unable to fret about the past, or the uncertainty of the future. The sun is bright. The leaves rustle. This is the wind on my face. I am alive. This is the thing: People pay a lot of money to live like that. To live in the present tense.”

Here’s the whole read: I Had a Stroke at 33 + author blog


And the second longread could be a piece of the Field Reports: a trip norhwards. It's also an especially well done multimedia piece:

Multimedia Longread: A Journey in Which I Travel Northwards 

This journey is to Scandinavia, but not to Finland - to Norway. Reif Larsen is following the roots of his grandfather, and finds a country that is both old and new, slow and fast:

"My grandfather’s birthplace was the emblematic launching pad for my current mission. I was to start in Trondheim and take the famous Hurtigruten ferry, all the way up the Norwegian coast, past the Arctic Circle, to Kirkenes, the land of the midnight sun. It was a voyage my grandfather had taken with my own father 50 years ago."

And such a surprise to find German words in the story: "Occasionally, the tour manager would announce that there would be “eine kleine, kleine informationsveranstalting” — “a very short informational meeting” (apparently there is a whole classification of informational meetings in German) about excursion 4A to the Svartisen Glacier, for instance."

Here's the story link: Norway the Slow Way


Polar Reading: Yuri Sergeyevich Rytkheu 

Reading the Scandinavian travelogue made me remember a Northern book I have in my shelf since a long while, written by   Yuri Sergeyevich Rytkheu - or: "Juri Rytcheu", in German, a Chukchi writer, who wrote in both his native Chukchi and in Russian and who is considered to be the father of Chukchi literature. Only a few of his works have been translated into English, including his "A Dream in Polar Fog" - which is exactly the one i read, "Traum im Polarnebel".

Here's the description: "A Dream in Polar Fog is at once a cross-cultural journey, an ethnographic chronicle of the people of Chukotka, and a politically and emotionally charged adventure story. It is the story of John MacLennan, a Canadian sailor who is left behind by his ship, stranded on the northeastern tip of Siberia and the story of the Chukchi community that adopts this wounded stranger. Rytkheu’s empathy, humor, and provocative voice guide us across the magnificent landscape of the North."


Current reads, non-fiction and book fair
The polar book, it's a bit of a tale-like read, and looking at the book photo, and other recent books I read, it seems I am currently more drawn to non-fiction with all its different voices, formats and styles. And now soon to come: Bookfair. Will blog about it when i am back.


Links + More

For 2014, i didn't join a specific reading challenge, but i try to read books / authors from different countries and continents. Here’s more about it: Reading the world 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

October, migrating birds, bookfair, everything at once, secret stuff & the world

It's that time of year again: seasons changing. The trees, the whole landscape changing colour. Migrating birds leaving on long journeys, southbound. One of the "bird migration highways" leads through the very area i visit regularly, the Randecker Maar. Once a vulcano site, the shape of it now lets air cirlce upwards. Birds use the upstream flow as an air lift to the higher plateau they have to cross on the way south.  

(view from the ground towads south, with maize field in the late-September sun)

I knew that there also is a bird watching station in this area, but I didn't realize it's right there, on that small hill that I walk past when I visit the Maar. It's run by professional bird scientists and by dedicated bird lovers. Each day, from dawn to dusk, they sit and watch and count. It's a field study of huge dimensions, running since thirty years. This weekend, they had a day of open door. And great weather for it. Here's a photo, this is the counterpart view of the first photo: the view from top to the "lowland" in the north. The dot in the air is a bird, gaining height by gliding in circles:


Such dedication, to watch and count. Day by day. To puzzle together the larger picture. They also monitor butterflies.. migrating butterflies. I know they exist, but it's different when you know they fly right by there, on long distance journeys.

More journeys, this time of the human kind: Next week is Frankfurt book fair. Publishers and authors from all over the world will be there, flying in from all directions. The guestland this year is: Finland.
I will be there for a day. in Frankfurt / Finland / Bookworld. Here's a photo from last year, tainted to enhance the surreality of it:

The week after the book fair, it's comic fair, combined with work meetings.

And parallel to all that, I am working on a freelance project I am not supposed to talk about. It's a project that is mainly about market research, or rather: consumer behaviour research. It's fascinating: the human behaviour. Our motivations to get and have, to collect objects, to complete challenges. The patterns that surface. So much to reflect, and more to come with Frankfurt and the comics, And with all the web news: the new Napster. Ello. Trends that go viral. And parallel to that, the ongoing stream of breaking news, much of it so terrible. All the refugees. And Ebola. But also this news: 2000 volunteers in Germany who offer to fly to the Ebola regions to help.

Today, I saw this in the web, a retweet from ScienceDump It's pretty much how I feel, too:

Which leads to the question: how to keep track of things, and how to process and reflect, especially when so much is happening?

Standing there at the Maar, I wished to be a bird, for a while.

This morning, my horoscope read as if it picked up the thought:
"This is a good time for any kind of study and education, because you are intellectually eager for knowledge and new experiences. You want to take a larger view of life in order to see how the various parts fit together to make up the whole.
Any new and interesting phenomenon from a world outside your own is likely to attract your attention at this time. It is a good time to travel, because your curiosity makes travel very interesting to you. You are also quite open to alternative lifestyles at this time." 
But first, coffee. And the deadlines for today ;)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

new moon sky duality + a larger universe

for sky friday: a fascinating sunrise, which looked like 2 skies in one. reality, so surreal sometimes. i guess the effect was caused by morning mist that still lingered in the forest.
the first photo is from 6.48:

and this is just 15 minutes later, with the sun rising:


and a  different kind of sky moment: this week, the tv channel arte featured a docu about CERN  centre, where scientists try to figure out how our universe works. it was fascinating, and for once a docu that took its time, visited different places in CERN and gave an idea of the place and the people who work there. it's online here: Cern. and yes, it starts almost meditative, and multilingual. the interviews are in English ("the common language at Cern is broken English", states the scientist in the first inteview), the subtitles are in German, and the intro page of the docu is German/French..

Watching it made me think of my own Cern moment 2 years ago, at the Frankfurt Bookfair, where to my surprise, between all the book stands, Cern was present with an experimental stand. They had a medialab that visualized the Higgs Field.

And they had something else: the beginning of the internet. which started in Cern, with the first internet server of the world installed there, and with the original internet project proposal: the "Information Management" proposal of Tim Berners-Lee. The proposal has a pencilled note on top that says: “vague but exciting”. 

Seen like this, searching for the tiny particles that explain the universe, the scientists there opened the digital sky.

Here's more, in the blog post from the bookfair: "the beginning of the web" 


More skies in this blog: life as a journey with changing skies
More skies from everywhere: skywatch friday

have a beautiful sky week ~