Monday, May 25, 2015

harlequin beach memory, or: how far is it still?

on this cold and overcast May day, some sunny ocean memories, both in photos, and in a short story based on a real journey:


He stayed in the car while she went to the hotel. That’s the way they always did it. He staying, she searching.

This time it was easy. The door was locked, but there was a sign saying “chambres à louer” – rooms to rent. Just some minutes later, the receptionist arrived, dropped off by a black van. She handed her the room list. Each room had a different price, apparently calculated by a formula that included the level, size and view.

“Un chambre with a view?” she asked.

“Oui,” the receptionist answered, and opened the drawer with the keys.

Walking up the stairs, she saw a gecko on the ceiling.

Later, after they had been at the beach, it was still there. She pointed at it.

“Gecko,” she said.

“It’s fake,” he answered.

He was probably right, she had to admit it. The gecko hadn’t moved one inch. She tried to remember the French word for gecko, but only got as far as le chien, the dog, and le chat, the cat.

“Je suis un gecko,” she whispered while they let the water rinse the salt and sand from their skin and hair. I am a gecko. Only that she wasn’t. There was no way she could rest idle for hours while hanging upside down on the ceiling. There wasn’t even a way she could rest idle in a room for longer than a sunset, or a book, or a thought.

“Let’s go somewhere for dinner,” she said.

“We could walk along the beach,” he suggested.

But there were still too many people out there, walking over the remains of sand castles, walking along the footsteps of the day. Thus it was in the night, on the way back from a restaurant called Harlequin, that they were alone at the beach.

"The moon," she said and pointed at the reflection on the water that moved in waves. For a while they walked with it, with this reflection. She tried to figure out how the light did it, how it was able to stay by their side.

"It's what light does," he said and painted circles for her in the sand. First the moon. Then the earth. Then the sun, to explain the reflection. The reflection didn’t care about the sketch, though. It simply waited for him to move on, along the beach, along the thin line of water meeting earth under the pressure of air breathed in and out by hundreds of people.

The next morning, while the sun was still a blurry spot in a bowl of fog, she went to the water, to gather the elements she wanted to save from that day:

The sand moon.

The riddle of the traveling pool of light.

And the gecko, who had changed sides while they dined, unfake after all.


Notes + links: 

  • the story was first published in juked magazine 
  • the second and third photo are actually from the very beach of the Harlequin story, but from a later visit there (the place is: Narbonne, France). 
  • inspired by photofriday's current theme: "beach" ... which fits my current mood: longing for a different sky. which will take a while, still. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

found flower, found book, found poem

3 precious "finds" of this month:

Found Flower
Shopping for groceries and coming across those lovely "Margeriten" (Leucantehmum), and planting them in the garden.. which then lead to a bit more gardening. So good, to have arrived in May, to sit and enjoy the fresh colors of spring flowers.


Found Book
Picking a book I hadn't heard about in the "telephone book box" (a book exchange installed in an old telephone box). And back home, starting to read, and not wanting to end. It's a memoir of Meike Winnetmuth, who at age 50 gets the chance to be candidate in a quiz show - and wins half a million Euro. She decides to go travelling for a year, with the plan to visit 12 countries, and live in each one for a month in a city. The book is written in letters, starting with a letter from Sydney... here's the list of the 12 cities:

Buenos Aires
San Francisco
Tel Aviv
Addis Abeba


I read the book at the pace of 1 city / day and loved it. She also wrote a blog during this year, with many photos - here's the starting page: Sydney

It's probably one of the best books I read this year so far. Found by chance.


Found Poem
And the third precious find: coming across the found poem that fellow blogger Rose Hunter once wrote based on lines of my "in transit" collection:

you have to pretend you don't feel how
we can learn lessons then
forget them again
they are 10 cent a piece
against expectations, this idea of days of space this promise
to see and think and think and
see, until it makes sense -
his breath
at the edge of the ocean
this almost tenderness


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

time / lake reflections on a monday afternoon, or: the surreality of reality

Monday brought the last of the sunny days for a while - and for me, it brought a drive. To a place I haven't been before: "Bad Waldsee" - "Bath Forestlake". A cure place. With lake. And with Monet-Waterlily-like reflection moments: :


Waldsee, it is one of the possible cure places where I can go after the long time of treatments is completed, after this time of chemo and radiation and all that comes with it. The main reason for me to go to Waldsee was to get an idea of that time - to imagine me there, and see if it would be a place for me to relax and recover.

A reflection I hadn't expected: while walking there, I realized this: "The next time I will be here, I will have the treatments completed. I will be beyond chemo, beyond radiation. I will have done it."
It's such a long way. Like a marathon. Good to know that there will be thermal water waiting, which I keep missing:


Another thing I realized: Waldsee, it is perfect to get back to jogging - there is whole net of flat walkways, one is leading right around the lake:


So glad I went there, and have this place now in mind to look forward to. I hope it all works out. 2 more chemos now. Then radiation. Then: water, air, earth.

Still strange to think of myself of a "cure" patient, though. And even now, still strange to think of me as a cancer patient. This surreality of reality.

And reality: as for chemo, I am doing okay altogether, relatively speaking. That’s actually what the doc noted after the last chemo, when they check back: “Relatives Wohlbefinden” – “Relative Wellbeing”. My blood levels are okay, I am spared the migraines, have no infections and no severe side effects.

And another note on reality: driving to Waldsee probably was about getting a real-life-take of this upcoming time of healing. And also, about reaching out a bit further right now, beyond the current and next week. It probably is also connected to the painting I put together last week, about the long way I am on. Here's more about that, with some more reflections: 3 more weeks of chemo, emotions vs. ratio, and painting it.


this string of photos and notes... was inspired by photo friday "reflections"

Friday, May 15, 2015

may skies, may tree, may rain

two skies for skywatch friday. the first is a "Maibaum" / "maytree" - in almost every town, you can find those trees right now, standing in the middle of the town square, put there by the different classic craft unions in each town: Bäcker (baker), Schuster (shoe-maker), Maler (painter), Müller (miller), Weber (weaver)....

and the second photo, a typical sight this month: clouds moving through, bringing mixed weather and wind. then some sunny days again, then another weather system. Rain in May.....

more skies from everywhere: skywatch friday

Thursday, May 14, 2015

links that touched me: film, architecture, money, poetry

When I come across an interesting link / video / story that touches me, I often copy the link to blog about it at a later point. Yet by then, there's already another interesting link that is waiting... to keep the links from vanishing unblogged, I started this "links-that-touched-me" series.
Here's the next part:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

memory detail

The new photo friday theme is "detail". I started to look  for a photo in the files, but gave up, each I picked didn't feel right on second thought. Now I finally found one:.

I took the photo last friday morning, without knowing about the theme. Hadn't downloaded it yet, and actually had forgotten about it (or maybe an unconscious part of my memory remembered that detail of friday. this is some meters from the hospital area entry - i first walked through the gate, then looked at the scene and returned, to take the photo. and then forgot about it... )

More details from around the world: photo friday.

Monday, May 11, 2015

reading notes: books from Japan, Bahamas, France, Baltic Sea + august at 11

"If this would have been a year like the ones before, I would be in Mallorca right now. Walking along the ocean. Enjoying the island atmosphere... But it isn't.." - that's how the blog post from last week started (here's the whole post: If. Then., Bravery + Joy + Fear, and May.). Now, looking through the books I read this month, I had to smile: 3 of them are set at the ocean. And the fourth is.. a travel memoir. 

"Journey of Self: Six Months in the Japanese Countryside" by Nate Golon .
In April, I read the Granta "Japan" collection - and just some days after finishing it, I came across this travel memoir about Japan. Written by Nate Golon, who left Hollywood disheartened after some years of first success, and tried a very different life for six month. The book is a bit slow in some places, but the parts with the larger reflections on life are wonderful.
Here's the book description: "Nate Golon sells everything he owns and takes a job teaching English in a small country town, Arida, in Wakayama Prefecture in southern Japan. ... An introspective and transformative fish out of water tale, about the importance of taking the road less traveled, and being open to new experiences."

"Sail With Me: Two People, Two Boats, One Adventure" by Rebecca Burg
This book took me to places I never been, with a way to travel I that I don't know much about: taking one's own boat to sail from A to B. Or rather: from Florida to Bahama, and to other exotic places. What is missing a bit for me are the journey / travel / life reflections, it's a bit too much on the fun side for me. But the list of places visited is remarkable, they include: Florida's nearest exotic ports: Bimini, Grand Bahama, the Abacos, Elutheria, Marquesas, and Florida Keys island chain.

 There's also a website photos from the journeys, and with more about the book:
And here's the description: "A fun, sometimes funny, adventure for boaters and non-boaters alike. Get swept into a journey through exotic, tropical islands. Hide from hurricanes, an outlaw ghost, and craze."

Ocean Books - Back in Time
In addition to those books, I read two German books that both are set at the ocean. The first book leads to France, to the Atlantic coast there - a place with settlements that date back thousands of years ago. Reading it made me think of the book I read in Mallorca last year: "Talayot". Here's the reading note from that book:
"Mallorca has a rich history that reaches back to Neolithic times - to the time of the Talayot culture, with tribes living in early settlements. Nothing is left of them but the stone buildings, and some artifacts. But none of their stories survived. There's no book, no carved wall, no wall painting. Nothing. In her book "Talayot", the German author Maike Hempel tries to bring back that time, weaving the real places into a story that is told in flashbacks, and merges the now and the past."
Turns out, very similar settlements can be found in France. So reading the book both took me to the ocean, and back in time, to last year's real-life-ocean moments: island reads

Dünenmond / Dune moon The other book is an easy read, a love story with some twists, leading to the Baltic Sea - the "Ostsee" how it is called in German: "Eastsea", which belonged to former East Germany and the neighbouring states. In not-real-logic, the coast of West Germany is called "Nordsee" (Northsea). I havn't been to the Baltic Sea so far, but the Norhtern Sea is actually the very first place where I stood at the ocean. That moment, it later turned into "august at 11", published in eclectica. So here's the ocean, from memory:

august at 11

in summer, we always headed to the mountains—
to Austria, Switzerland—following alpine paths
earning the amethyst needle, the chamois badge
for multiple stays in the same place

then, one august, we drove to the northern sea
the wind was freezing while we sauntered the sand dunes
yet people ran through the waves in bikinis and shorts
you get used to it, everyone said, it's not that cold

in the evening, we walked to the harbour
to see the metal sailboats, to watch the fishermen
leave on night cruises, catching shrimp and crabs
to sell, to boil alive for tomorrow's supper

the water was almost transparent
there were starfish, everywhere
an army of them, lingering silently
at the edge of the ocean

i kneeled and watched them, urged them
 to make a move, to acknowledge my presence
come, my mother said, they will still
 be here tomorrow

but of course, the next day they
were gone, to never return
leaving but a premonition
of all the things waiting
to be missed


Global Reading Challenge 2015 + Currently Reading:

For 2015, I try to read books / authors from different countries, the idea is to visit all continents. Here's more about that plan: 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books.

In a previous book post, I put together some reading statistics and book memories of 2014 - so if you are into geeky reading statistics, try this link: A year in reading in geek statistics +  book memories

For more reading notes, click here: life as a journey with books. A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country