And Gutenberg Lived Here: The Day That Was Better Than It Should Be

Today I watched the sun come up through a foggy, spitting mist of rain.

I thought of all I had to do today.

And how I would have to walk a half hour to the bus stop through it.

And then I simply gave up,

looked out the window,

and enjoyed it thoroughly.

And when we finally set out,

I mentally tried to strengthen myself for the fact that,

with singer ears,

which pick up like radar

every nuance of tone

and change of pitch,

I would have to stand,

packed shoulder to shoulder,

and listen to the people,

loud because of the rain,

and complaining because the stop had been moved once again

with probably no direction sign, and surely nothing to give anyone an idea of where it was now.

And then I realized that:

surely someone here had traveled on the weekend

and knew where they were hiding the bus stop this time.

And that the bus that is normally packed

was suddenly to a large part empty,

due to the homemakers waiting until the rain finally let up to shop.

And that the air was fresh,

and we were only damp, not wet,

and that the bus ride in the mist was absolutely magical.

And that the few students going to the U this morning

would be getting off in only two blocks,

leaving us with a nearly empty bus.

And then I discovered a musician friend,

who I had been worried about after she left town after a very serious heart attack,

at an amazingly young age.

And no one knew where she was.

She was in rehab, it seemed,

and now fine and back at work.

And soon we had each other,

and the entire bus,

chortling about her finally discovering,

and now apparently at least partially understanding,

the new school of modern spiritual music,

which everyone here calls gospel.

Although it has absolutely nothing to do with it.

And she explained to me, in all seriousness,

“that she finally has experienced the new song book she helped try out for the Catholic church,

and understands, for the first time,

why we protestants have, for years talked about the ‘goat songs.’ ”

One of the most famous of which is a,

I freely admit,

very beautiful,

but a bit too romantic, for my taste,

song with the text “Lord, your love is like green grass on the shore.”

A song we, for the most part, unsaintly musical types,

(it’s really hard to keep a halo in place while conducting a choir)

who really just want feed our souls,

(and sometimes our egos, I admit)

playing Bach and Mozart,

call “Lord, your goat is eating the green grass on the shore.”

Only among ourselves, of course.

And certainly never around ministers, small children, or members of the church council.

Not that we don’t like the lyrics.

But just because it is played at every wedding,

funeral, baptism, and every Sunday where something else isn’t planned.

And at some point-

you shroud yourself in images of frolicking goats,


well, you just have to laugh.

And today was one of those just plain unplanned joyous days.

Hope yours was too.

copyright 2016

I Always Wondered Why…

This is a blog for the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium.

My topic.


I always wondered:

-Why people have to compete with each other.

Isn’t it enough that each of us has a very own, God-given talent, and reason to be here, and it’s our job to see that we progress the way we are meant to.

-Why some people don’t work on themselves, but spend their lives attacking others. Surely they must realize they are only doing it because it takes less effort?

-Why the world is filled with  people who think that wealth, knowledge, political power,

makes them more important than others.

-Why the world consists of witches and witch-hunters-ie those that create things, and those want to steal those things to sell them. Or power-broker them.

-Why people think that if you don’t take part in something they are doing you are against them.

-Why a day always has well over twenty-four hours. Especially when stuck in a team meeting.

-Why when a committee sets out to make a horse, it turns out as a camel.

-Why the dark side of the force always appears to be winning, even though, in the long-run, it always loses.

-Why the good die young, and the bastards just seem to live forever.

or maybe it just seems that way.

-Why the buttered side of the bread always lands face down on the floor, unless you are trying to prove it to someone.

-Why dogs and small children always want to be picked up by someone in a white suit.

Usually on the day of a job interview.

-Why when daylight savings time starts, if you turn the clocks forward, without telling the others in the house, they will also turn the clocks forward.

Again and again and again.

which is fine if there are thirteen of you. Otherwise…

-Why if someone is bright, funny, joyous, and full of creative mischief, you have such a hard time making them palatable to your in-laws. But they can become one heck of a good friend.

-Why most people think only of negative things when they say this is taking an eternity.

-Why when you write down things you sincerely think about on a blog,

It always ends up sounding like a hallmark card.

Ps For those of you wondering why there is air:

because we don’t have gills.

copyright 2016

I know that both Ramana and Shackman have written on this topic for the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium. You might want to see what they wrote.


The Big Hundred

I’ve been thinking all week about how I’m going to handle today’s not so ordinary blog.


Ta da

Today is

The big one-o-o.

At least for wordpress.

Not that I don’t write other things,

or that a hundred blogs is all that special-

especially when some of the people I read have been blogging

and very well indeed,

for years.


what with the wp statistics,

like that in the first couple of months of blogging, “my reader list would have filled the equivalent of a cable car in San Francisco-”


I think I have to consider that one again.

Especially since,

at least when I lived there,

the people who rode to the end of the line had to get out and help turn the car around.

And women in dresses weren’t allowed to ride on the outside of the car.

Unless they were nuns-

and in those fulminant habits they used to wear.

Which I always found strange,

since, if you have ever experienced the wind in S.F.

and seen the cornette wimples of the Sisters of Charity,

(think tv’s the flying nun)…


so this is blog number one hundred.

And since I’m one of those people who just like to look back on things…

Like on birthdays.

When I look at my year’s calendar, and try to figure out how I got through another year,

what with everything that happened.

Or how I got as old as I am.

When I was sure I had said often enough I am 39 and holding

that everyone surely must have caught on.

Even Chronos.

So anyway,

this is one hundred.

And I thought about doing a story about the basis of hundred.

the centum/satem division in languages.

But I read the page of a very good linguist, so…

A psychological piece-

Neurological stimulation at reaching a goal?

Again, several nice other blogs on the topic.

The bitterness of being 100?

Thanks Ben, I’m bitter you hogged it all.

Or Bun and his joy of life,

Dave, Jean, Tammy, Cathy, Big John,

Chuck and Ramana of the LBC,

the other great people I have met here.

Then there are the fascinating things I have learned-

from ancient historians,

I mean historians of the ancient,

well, you know what I mean.

Or what the younger writers now believe and are writing on.

Nice to see how well you write,

and how much you care.

Then there are those whose rock-solid belief is an inspiration for me,

and helped me out when the problems at my job with a church was blocking why I was at least trying to do what I am supposed to be doing.

And those who gave me inspiration.

And tips.

The Helmsley blog,

the writers’ village,

live to write,

wicked cozy authors.

As for those few of you who have written hate, and caused problems,

you just are not invited to my big 100 party.

So movin’ right along…

While writing these one hundred,

I have learned I can write:

while getting large tree twigs twisted into my hair for a weird version of something I was hired to sing,

while home after a car accident,

and when so overworked I felt my wheels were being run off.

And even when writing on a topic so bland I had to take it apart and dig deep to find something off-the-wall enough to complete the job.

They usually ended up being my best work.

And even provoked some more than unusually bizarre comments.

Just spell the insults right, guys.

So anyway,

here’s to the big one hundred.

And those that read them.

Thank you.

And should you now, reading this,

decide that one hundred it enough,

there’s only one thing to say:

Mors certa, hora incerta:

I’m deadly certain the clock is wrong.

copyright 2016

You Know You’re A Foreigner When…

Actually, the question of “foreigner” never comes up much here in Gutenberg Land.

Unless they need someone to yell at because the local news stations have been whipping them up over the political situation in the world at the moment,

or they need someone to put on a national costume and sing a couple of folk songs for a voting rally for one of the local political parties to prove they are “pc.”

And just for the record,

in case someone German is reading this,

since several do,

and I have just heard recently that some members of a local school read this, for integration studies purposes:

I’m from Illinois.

We wear bluejeans,

and sometimes a German dirndl,

but NEVER a Texas cowboy hat.

So now we have gotten that out of the way:

There are a few things that you have to learn as a Gutenberg land foreigner, and no one will ever give you tolerance on:


the local dishes ARE good.


wine, a ring of baloney, and whitebread hard rolls are so good they are eaten for breakfast.

(At least in public)

Get used to it.

Then there is handkaes.

What can I say?

A stinking lump of a form of cheese that is see-through, has the consistancy of rubber cement, and is soaked in oil, vinegar, and onions all night.

Eat it.

It is no worse than liver and bacon.

And if you sit at a table in a small local wooden pub from the sixteenth century

eating your handkaes,

or pigs ears with remoulade and pan-fried potatoes,

probably why I became vegetarian,

the locals will sit down at your table,

and tell you all the terrific stories about the night the bands of robbers hid from the French in coal cellers,

or how high you have to mound the asparagus,

or which of the local doctors,

with French names,

only became doctors because the family were the illegitimate sons of the emperor,

on his way to his coronation,

and that’s why the fifth generation still can’t tell a hangnail from a burst appendix.

And so on.

So, as I said at the beginning, no one here really worries much about foreigners.


there are just three types of Gutenberg land residents:

The Mainzer, someone who at some point has moved into the capitol of Gutenberg Land, having arrived here from any one of the five continents, and a whole lot of places whose names I often can’t remember, since they unfortunately seem to change a lot.

Then there are the  Määäänzer, someone who is born somewhere in the environs,

speaks some form of dialect similar to the real thing, and uses some of the local idioms,

but really isn’t a:

Meeeenzer, ie

someone born in the narrow, rabbit-warren-like half-timbered maze of the oldest part of town, and,

and here is the most important part,

within the sound of the Cathedral bells.

Not St Stephen Chagall,

or St John, St. Peter and Paul,

or any of the literally hundreds of saint named churches here in the area.

And, while we are on the subject, most certainly not within the sound of the gigantic, super rich merchants of the 19th century built, competition for the cathedral, gulp,  Christ Church.

Foreigners yes, other religions, yes.

protestants, no.

And then, of course,

in order to be a real Meeenzer, you have to:

speak perfectly, and accentlessly, a dialect composed of words left behind by the following:

the celtic tribes who lived on the hills, once the dinosauers left,

and left words like Idar for water

the tribes of Franconia,

who left back a few choice words,

mostly swears and scatalogical,

the French during the French revolution

(most people don’t know that Mainz actually declared their own republic, at the time of the French revolution, and that that coward Goethe sat on the other side of the river and helped shoot canons at the Meeenzer to curry favor of the German royalty of the time.)

From them we have words like Andau-

the name for a local bar, frequented exclusively by students and real Meeenzer, where everyone stands, packed in like sardines, beer in hand, and rubs shoulders with the local dialect speakers.

An Andau is actually a manhole cover.

And if you don’t know that,

or that a monde is a show window of a store,

or that the local greeting is “aye, gude, wie”

you probably are a Määänzer,

or even worse,

a Mainzer,

and will have to endure many many long evenings of listening to the Meeenzer tell you what it takes to be accepted.

And now that I’ve shortened it for you,

welcome to the neighborhood.

copyright 2016

This post is my topic for this week’s  Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium,

A place where great writers like Ramana, of Ramana’s Musings at and Shackman of  Shackman, and, hopefully several other of our bright and funny international, multi-culti crew, drop in to write, or occasionally heatedly discuss, topics like this one. Y’all come by now, hear.

And Gutenberg Lived Here: The Morris Dancer- Is That A Car?

Just about a week ago, I decided to go shopping at our local equivalent of a closed mall-

multiple electronic stores on one end,

a rather large food store on the other,

shoes, keys, teller machine, optics, flowers,

and three small take-aways in the middle-

Which, here in Gutenberg land,

makes it the center of cultural life,

especially on days when the local soccer team’s fans flood the area,

or when we all do the Saturday shopping “hi how are you” -“are you backing out or parking?” bit

when holidays are looming close.

And since this is definitely a grip-and-grin oasis,

it is also a place where I get a lot of work offers.

Of various kinds, both serious, and of the more than unusual type,

for often event managers, pastors and  priests,

and even caterers and members of the singers union

are also wandering the malls at that time.

Looking for car wiper fluid, tapas, exotic spices, coffee, and musicians.

Approximately in that order.

Which was why I wasn’t particularly surprised

when I was suddenly stopped by someone I sometimes work for,

and asked if I Morris Dance.

Believe me,

I have been asked stranger things by the mall crowd.

Like if I would sing at a fashion show with a catwalk that was a raised bridge over a swimming pool.

Or if I knew any ancient Latin songs for a Roman cooking evening someone was doing for a large birthday.

Still and all, the Morris thing was new.

Especially as I am not a Morris Dancer.

Not that I don’t think it would be a lot of fun.

In fact,

my first live contact with Morris dancers,

was, atypically, with a women’s group-

since most Morris dancers,

as far as I can tell from my reading,

are usually men,

who wear straw boaters with flowers, white pants, long shinbone pads with bells,

and gambol exceedingly,

while waving hankies,

clashing swords,

clanking cups,

or wooden sticks,

as they provide the local color for crowds of tourist,

or for someone to be done in well and properly

in places like Badgers’ Drift,

or Causton,

in the fine old county of Midsomer.

And, incidentally,

trace their dancers’ ancestry back to  ancient celtic  fertility dances,

“moorish influences” in Roman times,

or fifteen century church passion plays that also often contained the recreation of the violent martyrdom of saints.

Depending, of course, on who you are talking to,

or which history book you find in your local library.

Today, though,

as far as I can tell,

after extensive perusal of my only tool for modern Morris dancing scholarship,

the internet,

the only murder being carried out in connection with the modern dances,

is of several bottles of passion-tide ales,

large amounts of picnic dinner,

and a lot of historic accuracy,

since, apparently,  no one really knows what went on back then at the dances.

And sort of invents things as they go.

Often, which I find a great idea, in weekend workshops,

followed by a contest,

or open performances.

But still,

as I can attest from a visit Harald and  I made,

(strictly in the interest of historical research for something I was writing at the time, of course)

many many years ago to a quaint little crossroads coaching inn,

covered in witches signs and feminist slogans,

on “our” Atlantic island,

whose name shall not be mentioned to keep all the crazy, ie non-Morris-dancing tourists out-

when it comes to creating a modern legend,

shrouded in time,

linked to saints, King Arthur Pendragon, Diagon Alley,

and lots of guys getting free food and beer to jump about and entertain tourists,

the feminist women’s groups, dancing with brooms,

called by the men, the “O times, O Morris,”

the youth groups- the Morris minors,

and, of course, the infant-groups,

the Morris-minis,

to quote the James Bond song,

“Nobody Does It Better”

than the Brits.

Or Welsh, Scotts, Irish, Germans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians…

I wonder what Harald would think of dancing in a boater with a flower behind his ear?

Be still my heart.

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: What, A European Song Contest Isn’t Enough?

Yesterday morning my other half and I watched,

make that fast-forwarded,

through a video of the European Song Contest.

(I have to. My voice  students and adult beginners’ choir regularly ask questions on such things, and are always disappointed if I say “huh?”)

Anyway, the ESC

no jokes about an escape key, please,

is something so popular over here,

a huge crowd stood outside all night

in the pouring rain, no less,

on the Hamburg Reeperbahn.

(The Reeperbahn, for those who haven’t heard of it,

is in the harbor district,


in addition to things like the Ohnsorg-

a world-famous North-German dialect-speaking theater,

Quatsch comedy-

a very good international stand-up comedy club,

several huge musical houses,

and the largest branch of the Salvation Army anywhere,

is also the largest red-light district in the world.

And, apparently,

an atmospherically correct place to watch Swedes,

and others,

dress in Ghengis Kahn suits,

horned helmets,

“you pathetic earthlings” costumes,

a formal Japanese kimono so huge the poor bald-headed singer was nailed in position and unable to move,

and, for Germany,

a teen with a, in my opinion, wonderful voice,

and a lot of talent,

but in a wierd cross between an Alice in Wonderland and a Lolita costume.

with cotton knee socks, no less.

Topped by a bizarre manga-Minnie Mouse headdress she built herself.

Which, I have to admit, should have gotten her the talent section award.

Especially since, in my humble opinion,

she and the young man from Poland

were the only ones who could,

or were allowed to,

really sing.

But that’s not what it’s about here.

In case you haven’t watched,

or haven’t really understood what was going on-

how could you-

The point being,

as the show hosts,

with a lot of panache,

and chutzpah,

sang to us-

in my opinion,

the only song worth listening to all evening-

unless you like lyrics like:

“they don’t know how to value unicorns,”

“you ride a black horse in the rain,”

“you’ve been wierd, been a mess”


“under the spotlight, I howl in the moonlight”


No wait,

maybe I can meditate and go there.

Surely I can understand this…


So the point was,

the moderators told us the absolute truth:

the computer analysis of how to win the contest:

Take a lot of costumes and scenery and computerized special effects,

add an aged gentleman from the country singing at the moment,

dress him in a local costume from about 1800,

have him pretend to play an instrument no one has ever seen before,

add a group of Japanese ritual drummers,

a dj who scratches,

sing a text with bizarre lyrics

and a fast refrain of la la la,

or dum da da dum

so everyone can sing along…

And then there was the winner of the night,

who, regardless of my personal humanitarian and political views,

sang a “non-political” song for the Ukraine

about 1944,

and Stalin,

called “they kill you all.”

My heart is with her.

But the point of the contest is,

as everything else at the moment,


And money.

Which is why the Australians are singing in the ESC.

Or, as it was explained on local tv here in Gutenberg land,

the ESC want to expand.

With an Asian contest,

taking place in Australia,

and then, on to…

the other two who were greeted last night?

China and the USA?

So the next step can be a Universal song contest,

with the winners from each of the continents?

And who knows-

since scientists have now discovered new, possibly habitable planets,

maybe an

out of this world

galactic song contest.

With performers from…

wasn’t there a bar scene somewhere in Star Wars?

Be still my heart.

I wonder how they’ll glue those Manga headdresses

On Venusians?

copyright 2016


When Calamity Rears Its Head: Don’t Look At De Feet

Ramana, of set the topic for today:


Actually, not knowing him personally, I didn’t know he had been studying up on the westward movement in US history.

From Ca- for California,

To La for Louisiana,

Mi for Michigan,

and Ty for Tennessee-Kentucky-

there’s a whole lot of calamity within those boundaries.

Take California, for example.

Earthquakes, Fires, Floods, Mudslides, huge snow storms, winter freeze, and tsunamis.

And Wars.

And Louisiana?

Hurricanes, of course.

Of epic proportions.

eg Katrina.

And the battle of New Orleans.

Then there are the mudslides, rockslides, landslides, hurricanes, and tornados

of Kentucky.

And some of the worst civil war battles.

And Michigan, if you ever find your way out of the ice and snowfalls,

with the help of the fifty pounds of kitty litter you have to carry in the car to sand the roads because you were late buying sand, and only cat litter was left,

(beautiful place in summer, though)

you will find floods, fires, tornados, and great lakes storms.

And snow, snow, snow.

But at least they have cat litter.

So what are we really writing about,

when we write about calamities?

I saw this morning that our Shackman of

has written about Calamity Jane,

and also about personal calamities.

Like the above-mentioned California earthquakes.

And bad rock concerts…

Just kidding.

In my own life,

I have been in a series of tornados-

including the one that ripped the roof off our school

while we all sat cross-legged in doorways,

head down and arms crossed over top

and listened to the “roaring freight train-absolute stillness-bird cheeping-kids sobbing-absolute stillness-freight train approaches again-and finally leaves.”

If you have ever experienced it, you never forget it.

Or the fact that the sky simply turns green,

and then the world changes.

Like getting a phone call

while standing under a door frame

in Illinois,

during a tornado,

and, in the stillness, hearing the words

my great-grandmother was dead.

That has a small tendency to take the polish off the silver.

Then, of course,

we moved to California.

Just in time for:

getting shaken out of bed and dumped on the floor by an earthquake,

and trying to tell my German husband he had better stop eating cornflakes and get under the door frame when the after-shock hit.

My father, bless his heart, was a little late to the family door-frame gathering.

The toilet paper had rolled away in the shake.

Then there was my first car wreck-

on highway one-

on the inside lane, thank heavens.

And we all walked out.

The south-bound trucker was to blame.

I missed the ’89 quake,

while teaching in the Wiesbaden area

But even Gutenberg land occasionally has earthquakes,

and we managed to be on the sixteenth floor

of an appartment building

when one hit.

Thank heavens our appartment was built on twisters.

But the clothes swung in the closets.

Then there was the bear that sat on our pup-tent

in a national park in California,

the day I got washed overboard

off a catamaran in Hawaii,

hit in the head by flying fish in St Louis,

got lost on a paddle wheeler packet boat-

hey, I was seven,

swung across ravines on grapevines

and only fell off once…

My catastrophes,

other people’s catastrophes that got me involved,

natural catastrophes,

that are definitely not something I would ever freely take part in…

So what ‘s the point?


for me,

that looking back,

I survived.

Some awfully darned strange, weird, dangerous, evil, bizarre things.

Which means,

for me,

thank you, God, that I am still around.

And that I have things to remember

that keep me going when the next flying fish hits me in the face.

Or the call of the wild is wilder than I expected.

Hey, did I tell you about the time there was this copperhead snake hidden in the grass in front of our home…?

copyright 2016


To see how the other members of our calamity crew are doing with this topic, check out their work at their own addresses, or at the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium.

The FLBC is a group of all-nations, all religions, all political beliefs, all unusual people, who write every friday on a topic proposed by one of us.

Check us out.

Growing Up vs Growing Old: And Now For Something Entirely Different

Two days ago

it looked like  nearly  everyone usually reading my blog had jumped ship on me.

Sailed off to the land of striking for better subjects.

Or more social action.

Or at least as much controversy as whether you can wear tennis shoes with a ball gown

if you are elected prom queen.

The truth though,

as I later discovered,

when reading other bloggers,

apparently with the same problem,

was that  everyone on blog

was apparently just plain in a stinking bad mood.

Maybe something to do with the rain.

Or reign.

But still, when you read your husband your  blog,

and he asks  if you have a jar of peanutbutter somewhere…

And your comment section contains elements

roughly reminiscent of Dante Alighieri’s:

“abandon hope,  ye who enter here…”

You suddenly realize:

time for a topic full of hope.

And joy.

That, as someone once wrote,

“nobody can’t not like”





And here, since I have gotten hit with this cultural identification marker several times,

and still find it marvelously funny,

including a first confrontation with Edinburghese:

a Chinese mother, Italian father,

and Edinburgh dialect speaking son,

mom-and-pop-restaurant owners,

all trying to ask the idiot if she would like jelly for desert.


With mushy peas and white sausage?


Why not.

It was jello.

And nicely done it was.

Which brings me to the point.

Half of what interests me about jello,

when it does,

is the memory factor.

Comfort as a child with a sore throat.

Throwing cubes of it at school,

when the state board decided if you put tomato juice in jello it is a vegetable.

Shocking Germans with it in the form of golden glow salad-

lemon jello with pineapple and grated carrot.

Childish, harmless,

when injured, make it with less sugar,

and eat jello.

That to me is growing up.

Knowing what makes you feel better and doing it.

Like dancing in the rain to the beach boys,

remembering beautiful moments,

and recreating them, if you can.

Just don’t toss the jello on anyone else.

Or neglect the ones you are responsible for.

Or yourself, of course.

And as for growing old?

Baby cream,

cereal with cream,


face cream,

wrinkle cream,

vanishing cream,

worm cream.

The seven ages of woman.

Thanks, Will.

copyright 2016

This topic was suggested for the by Shackman of

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Witches, Ascension,Waldmeister, Cauldron Races, And Carnival

May is a busy month here in Gutenberg Land.

What with St Walpurga,

she of the thirtieth of April witches’ covens,

waldmeister punch,

a hallucinogenic drink

served in small amounts in almost all pubs here,

(more and you could end up seriously poisoned)

and fires of massive proportion,

made out of old tires and the remains of old clothes,

winter firewood,


and anything burnable.

This is the time to play nasty pranks,

like putting a bus stop bench in front of a bank,

or all the much-hated parking meters,

on the roof ot the establishment,

(or the police department.)

Or for making sure that couples,

expecting the patter of little feet,

suddenly find  a brand-new baby buggy,

donated by dear friends,

but also on the roof.

And then there is the matter of the local traffic signs.

(It once took me four hours to get back home from a not too distant friend’s,

after  the locals, who had obviously had too much waldmeister,

turned all the street signs the wrong direction.)

And then,

just when you think you have surved another Walpurga,

and even the oldest,

and most experienced,


have made their way home from the hills,

and dried out,


it is the fifth of May.

Ascension day.

The very serious church holiday celebrating the bodily ascension of Christ into heaven

forty days after Easter.

Here, it is a legal holiday.

With beautiful church services,

ancient robes of great historic interest,

fantatic special music,


a particular order of worship  used only here in Gutenberg Land,

the organ’s vox angelii- voice of the angels- being used in the cathedral,

and trombone parades winding their way through the narrow streets to the church.


at one minute after saying good-bye to the priest,

or the Swiss guards in the cathedral,

the men are picked up by bus

by their choir,

or volunteer fire department brothers,

fishing buddies,

hunting club,

bowling team,

carnival buddies,


at exactly six minutes after saying good-bye to the priest,

are on their way back to the hills,

the accordion-player’s at least partially naked rear end,

showing through the window,

as he stands to lead them in “la paloma”


“I want to live as the wild geese live,”


any other of the, still, at this moment, relatively non-obscene songs,

as they wind their way to the Witches Hills,

where they will grill a huge sow,

decorated for the serving in a hat and sunglasses,

and drink about three cauldrons of highly powered punch.

A cauldron being big enough to hold a man,

as they cauldron race each other down the hillside stream,

once the punch is gone.

The beer comes later.

And the hot dogs.

And Hungarian grill cheese.

And anything else they decide to throw on to see what happens.


as the sun comes up the next morning,

and the medical personnel

who have been coerced into coming along,

by dire threats that the next doctors’ and nurses’ ball just MIGHT

have a few scheduling problems,

and who by now are having more than a few problems getting the winner of the cauldron race

out of his cauldron,

and into the bus,

and would probably leave him there,

if it weren’t for the fact that he is the only tenor who can actually hit a high c,

or at least somewhere close,

more or less,

they say a few communal prayers,

and a good deal more communal curses,

and stuff the seats full like their life depends on it,

hoping against hope,

that when they finally get back home,

their wives and girlfriends,

many of whom have left the children with grandma,

have not gone out in a fur coat,

over sexy underwear only,

to lean on a wall at the polar bear section of the zoo,

and catch a few rays of the all-important

first sun of the year,

or have dressed to the teeth,

and gone,

in groups of upwards  of 12

to a “womens’ showing”

of a mushy romantic movie,

made more palatable by large amounts of champaign,

and afterwards nachos at the Mexican bar

and a few words with the Tex-Mex bar staff,

who are used to this,

and find it normal to flirt,

especially as it is cinco de mayo here too.

Celebrated normally by the younger portion of the community as such.

Who love all things exotic.

And non-German.

Any fiesta in a storm.

And as the dawn comes up over the horizon,

and the women hastily look for their high heels,

and the mens’ bus heads rounds the hill,

and slides into the town,

the sound of la paloma reaching the waiting families before they do,

the thoughts of all the locals,

“my sixtieth year on the bus,”

“wasn’t that waiter adorable”

“I could have won that race if I hadn’t lost my paddle in the creek”

“we should go to the zoo on our office lunch hour”

“next year we should have TWO HUNDRED accordions,”

“this was better than St. Walpurga”


into one thought

and one thought only.

Sunday is the big carnival parade.

And mothers’ day.

And that will be SOME party.

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: One Step, Two Step, Green Step, Blue Step


several other members of a blogger consortium and I,

did a post on the ramifications of dancing.

Ballroom style.

And got a lot of insight,

and very amusing feedback,

both written,

and by late late night telephone call,

some with heavy breathing,

(probably a dance studio owner practicing the jitterbug,)

into what dancing today really is.


apparently, there is more dancing going on today than ever.

Men in the computer biz here in Gutenberg Land,

for example,

are advised that,

since they ignore their wives the other six and a half days of the week,

they should pay them back for hosting formal dinners,

and taking cordon bleu cooking courses,

and deportment, (!)

and flower arranging,

(yes, I am serious-

it still happens here,

in true Father Knows Best style)


on Friday nights,

from eight to twelve,

taking them out to sponsored dance events.

And here, I would like, for anyone who hasn’t seen it,

to plug one of my favorite,

if slightly cheesy and just this side of trite

“buck the crowd and do your own thing” films,

Strictly Ballroom,

an absolute Aussie ode to joy.

As were the mob-in dance performances at malls and airports,

before the days of “spontaneous equals danger.”

(And here just a quick tooting of my own personal I love close harmony horn:

two people who like to sing is a duet,

three is a trio,

four is close harmony.

More than that is mouth percussion.

Which says a lot about our society.)

Which means,

of course,

that the powers that be,

and make such decisions for us all, thank heavens,

believe that someone in a striped vest and straw boater

singing “My Evaline”


“Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah”

can not possibly be a terrorist.

A slight over-simplification, perhaps,

at least in my humble opinion-

ie she who once ended up being strangled by a tenor in  a dramatic death scene

dressed in a mob cap and flowered shower curtain,

(yes, of course it was intrinsically meaningful)

But actually,

surely chances of being dangerous,

or becoming a dangerous mob,

are definitely higher among:

the Masons, the Elk, the Moose…



Uhm, odd fellows?

Not that I really know anything much about such groups.

And please don’t think I find anything odd about a ferret in a fez as a mascot.

Believe me, I never pre-judge such social and benevolent groups,

or ferrets in a fez, for that matter,


when in trouble,

there simply are no better neighbors.

(The societies, not the ferrets.)

As are the Jehova’s Witnesses,

just a branch of Baptist, people,

or the Mormons,

or any of the groups continuously being made fun of

that no one, sadly, really knows.

(Although I freely admit I’m not much of a fan of trying to convert someone to one’s own personal beliefs.)

Still, though, it is apparently fully P.C. to make fun of some,

but not of others.

Like here in Gutenberg Land,

where it is the common sport to make fun of those who don’t drink,

of Americans,

and of the settlers of the next town over,

who shall remain nameless,

but who are known to mound their white asparagus hills so high they have to get on a stepladder to tend them.

Or as the saying here goes,

“When God looked at his work

from behind,

Lo, they were the …”

Town name withheld since I sometimes shop there.

Which is probably why  it is good that people are socializing by dancing more today.

But there still has to be a limit.

Like: that a choir  can’t go on a stage here without some kind of ridiculous hat,

preferrably nearly brimless,

and dance steps.

And as for the dating public,

Machines or electronic games that show you,

in groups of two or more,

the steps to the latest dances,

are evidently all the rage here.

Or pianos you dance on.

Which reminds me of something that was commonplace when I was a child:

A company,

perhaps Arthur Murray,

sold a sort of map of the dance steps,

and paper cutouts of feet.

Left foot, right foot.

You consulted the map,

laid the steps  out on a rug,

put on a record,

and practiced.

Left, right, cha cha cha.

As you fell over the dog,

your younger brother rolling on the floor laughing,

And the older members of the family,

hastily called to the scene,

camera in hand,

showing you how they used to Lindy Hop.

Dancing was family time.

Who knows,

maybe if we work at it,

we can finally get R-2 D-2 programmed to not only clean up the house,

but cha-cha.

Eat your heart out, Anne Miller.

copyright 2016