And Gutenberg Lived Here: Why Are Vampires Buying Brown And Purple Topcoats?

So the last time we met….

I was on my way to a Halloween show that never was,

and watching male buddies

devour large amounts of dead sea things

deep-fried, of course,


It’s the end of October.

(What do you mean, that makes no sense…?)

Which over here is one of those “super-weeks.”

Sorry. Probably too much CNN,

which is all we get over here that’s not:

council regulated,

by the German government,

political parties,

Catholic and Lutheran churches,

and trade unions,

or super-commercial

and pro European Union thinking,

like Radio Luxemburg and others.

And that’s also a funny story-

I’ll tell you about it some time soon.

At the moment, though,

it’s the last of October week here-

time of:



since more and more Germans are going to the states

to learn how we do things,

and incorporate it into their businesses,

or their government jobs,

Halloween has gotten more and more American each year.


on Wednesday I met a woman in the local store,

buying a three quart plastic bucket of mixed chocolate minis,

who told me she was always careful what she bought,

since afterwards she and her family

had to eat what was left over-

before it went rancid.


(I actually freeze ours-

out of sight, out of mind)

And, of course, then there are the Halloween shows,

and parties,

(Germans are big on parties with edible fake body parts- did I mention I’m a vegetarian?)

But first,

we have to get through the dark days-

appointments to winterize the car,

last chance for taxes, if you have a tax man as a lateness excuse,

and then,

that very very odd German holiday known as:


topcoat Sunday.


It’s a middle ages thing.

Like it took most people,

way back then,

until November,

to get the harvest in,

replant with winter wheat,

or other winter crops,

and pay off the church,

who got an automatic: “tithe or your head”

percent of everything.

And, I’m not an expert on this,

but I assume it was much much higher

than the ten percent we think when we hear tithe.

And on everything-

like the city’s tithe house was always filled with extra grain-

required tithe proportionate to the amount of harvest,

and if a horse had twin foals,

one went to the local militia.

Which was furnished by the patricians,

each of whom had a certain number of horses,


and provisions and weapons

they had to “donate” each year.

For that,

they got the right to stamp coinage.

Sounds familiar somehow.

So anyway,

back at yesterday,

topcoat Sunday.

There we were.

In the middle of the downtown,

where bands played,

the local political parties tried to make inroads,

and the stores sold topcoats,

among other things,

in the colors of the season over here-

dirt brown,

and ugly purple.


As the over 100,000 visitors,

yes, truly,

rode carousels,

bought and drank mulled wine

and the local specialties:

warm pretzels

and sugar-coated roasted almonds.

The little Gutenberg train-

about half-size,

and on wheels,


and did a huge business in tours of the city

for all the tourists.

And the cathedral did a huge business

in visitors wanting to  take in the atmosphere

of the nearly two thousand year old church,

and also to go to confession.

(Maybe because they drank too much mulled wine

and bought those ugly dirt brown and purple topcoats?)

And since the town is only approachable

by bus or tram,

since the Gutenberg 05

have tied up the entire town,

not to mention

snatching all the parking spots in our subdivision,

despite hefty fines,

(“still cheaper-

and safer-

than the trains”)

not to mention the fact that,

according to local legend,

our train engineers

have a real propensity for striking

right at the moment when

the trains are filled with drunken fans,


they want to go to the game themselves.

All that,

and then comes today-

the mad rush-

with illegal parking,

to get food in the house,

since tomorrow

is All Hallows-

a religious high holiday,

where all Catholics head for the Cathedral,

and then to the  cemetery,

and everything commercial in Catholic Gutenberg Land closes,

until they are done,

and a proper lunch eaten.

After which they all pile into the car,

and head out to do a little pre-Christmas shopping-

in protestant,

and not closed,


One thing about Gutenberger-

you’ve got to admire their stamina.

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Never Go To Something Named “Night Of Horrors”

Have there ever been moments in your life where you looked back on something

and thought

“Whatever was I thinking?”

Ours was a so-called “night of horrors”

put on by musicians and a writer I studied with several years ago,

who run a marvelous actors company here called

Kryptonite Radio Theater.

And kryptonite it is.

The company uses old-style looking microphones,

and an ancient sound effect table,

with everything from bicycle bells,

to coconuts for horses hooves,

to a cabbage with a knife in it

(to be twisted in murder scenes.)

And if you are laughing at the description,

that is the idea.

The actors wear bizarre hats-

a baby’s expanded lion hood for the Wizard of Oz,

a goose sitting on a head,

the legs dangling down,

for The Birds.

Last night’s was billed as a “Night of Horrors.”

In honor of Halloween, of course.

And since the company,

all English-speaking,

but mostly Brit,

two Americans,

a couple of Russians,

including the Kryptonite sisters,

a kind of Andrews sisters act,

and an awful lot of Germans,

most of whom studied English at the U,

and are now in sales, travel, etc.

So there we were,

long-time fans of the Kryptonite,

dressed in orange and black,

with six-inch orange-glow skeletons

as boutonniere,

climbing into our car,

picking up two other math friends,

who were given their skeletons,

and headed for the show,

only to discover,

there was a traffic jam on the way to the bridge-

the Gutenberg 05 football team played last night,

and the loyal fans come from hundreds of miles away,

and leave the same way.

The bridge was packed.

And moving at a rate of about one kilometer per twelve minutes,

due to,

unknown to us,

or anyone else, apparently,

weekend roadwork

that merged the three bumpy torn-up lanes into one.

On the other side,

the fight for parking spots,

about New York times ten,

on the best days,

reached new heights,

and we had to give up and head back.

Followed by a police search action-

drugs, alcohol, kidnapped kids, and terrorist searches

happen regularly on the weekends here.

The orange skeletons bursting into flame color in their high-intensity

flashlights didn’t help much.

I explained it had to do with theatre,

received a wary look,

and was waved on.

We were turned off at another checkpoint,

and headed down river to the next bridge,

where we ended in a traffic jam,

and a drug alcohol etc inspection.

(This time we saw it coming, and removed the skeletons.)

Once on the other side,

we decided on a Greek restaurant,

normally quiet,

even if full on the weekends,

where we were greeted by THREE

birthday parties,

all of them from different non-German nations,

and all loud, happy, and wonderful fun.

And since we weren’t kicked out by them, even though it was a private room…

So despite everything,

(including a competition of singing happy birthday-

who is loudest)

in keys

and harmonic arrangements I had never heard the likes of-

fourteen modulations per bar,

at each of the three tables,

it was loud, fun, joyful…

And in the end,

the only things scary about this “Night of Horrors”

was the fact that Harold ordered a small cold appetizer plate as his supper…

dead boiled baby octopi,

squid bits,

small fishes,

grotesquely pink fish-egg salad,

with an olive in the middle

so it looked like a large bloodshot eyeball…

Can’t wait till next year.

Happy Halloween y’all!

copyright 2016

A Day In The Life: How Should I Know Why The Dryer Is Spinning Backwards?

There are moments in any marriage when,

no matter how much you love your partner,

and I definitely do adore Harold,

with every inch of my heart,

and soul,

but still,

there are those moments,

when you just want to order a doghouse  from Amazon,

and put his stereo

and bedding

in it,

and lock the balcony door.

Feeding time six am and six pm.

In our marriage,

such moments,

thank heavens few and far between,

usually have to do with:


ie being able to remember any number in any situation known to man,

but not being able to remember….



Not that I don’t have my little whims,

all adorable, of course,

that drive him up a wall-

like the day he looked at me,

clearly at the end of his rope,

shook his head,

and asked

I love you, but Whhhyyy did I have to marry an ARRRRTTTIIIIISSST?

Hey, I can do plumbing, wallpapering.

It’s not like I’m Van Gogh, already.

Although there is something about sunflowers that….

No, actually,

living in two completely different worlds is totally fascinating.

And complementary.


Like discussing literature with a mathematician

gets you a whole different view on the world.

And even though what they bring as ideas

is nothing like the stringent training of a comparative literature person,

they are stringent in their own way,

mathematically speaking,

which I actually find quite fascinating.

The actual problem comes up,

you see,

when you ask a simple question,

like why the dryer is spinning backwards,-

and whether such a situation is:


lethal to the neighbors,

lethal to the next generation,

of interest to NASA and the CIA,-

by whom and how it gets fixed,

and you get a discussion on:

spin points,

plus and minus poles,

the function of momentum,

the opinion of Feynman

and the FDA

on the manufacturing

and care of


that could be converted into either

a rocket launcher,

of the giant slingshot type,

or a small atom smasher,

hopefully useful for walnuts

and peas for pea soup.

You get the picture.

And all of the above taking place while sitting on a dryer,

trying to reach the plug at the back

while holding it away from the side wall,

with outstretched feet.

Although this wasn’t the first time something like this happened to me.

I once was given a clock in the form of a cat,

a tiger, actually,

for graduation,

since I was going to a school with a Bengal tiger

as a mascot.

The cat ran great,

tail swishing,

eyes opening and closing,

till our Airedale decided the clicking noise it was making

was identical to that of those ””’*****

(copyright Charles Schulz?)

birds always on the lawn in the morning.

Which it was her job to stop.

Which I assume was why she jumped onto the basin,

grabbed the cat clock

shook it twice,

and threw it away.

Right into the toilet.

No problem, I thought.

Just a matter of a quick unplug,

drying off,

and maybe a little readjustment,

since it hit pretty hard.

Three hours later….

The result was a Bengal

that rolled its eyes,

swished its tail,

and a clock on its stomach

that ran backwards.

Which meant that….


just a moment.


did you by any chance

decide to repair,


or study,

the dryer for some reason?


copyright 2016

What Happens When An Octobot Meets A Flying Pizza Delivery Drone?

“I read the news today, oh boy…”

Geek news.

All about:

an Octobot-

one of those  slimy wiggly eight-armed bots

which are “completely autonomous.”

Completely autonomous?

As in

you come home one night and discover that instead of cleaning the house and

fixing dinner,

it has changed the locks,

and is now sitting in your chair and laughing at “Seaworld”

or applauding the antics of the giant octopus

in “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”

Did I mention the bots run on hydrogen Peroxide and platinum?

They must be from Venice Beach.

Or work nights as disco dancers.

And then, of course, there is the project

“robots with rifles against Isis.”

As long as the robots aren’t too lifelike and have feelings.

And we keep a regular check on the mental health of the human operators.

Hey, here’s an idea.

Maybe we could build an offshore arena,

with pay for view tv for those who want this kind of thing,

like the “rumble in the jungle.”

Then we make it into a huge media-hyped event,

and with the money earned,

pay off the terrorists,

who now let the human types,

in danger in their home countries,

go home,

and get back to living real lives.

In peace.

Dear geek news:

I give all rights to follow up on the idea to you.

Who brought the octobots to my attention in the first place.

Along with the drones-

delivering pizza from the sky.

Sorry geek buddies

who of course only have my welfare at heart,


It’s not enough that we have to watch out for fly-by gangsta seagulls,

and their tamer countrified cousins,

ever ready to deposit on us from above?

Now we are going to have to don plastic raincoats,

and carry umbrellas

at ninety-five degrees,

and ninety-eight percent humidity,

tendency rising,

to avoid getting hot greasy cheese dropped on us?

Not to mention the jalapenos.

And salami.

Oh the agony.

And the humiliation.

I’ll bet Bitter Ben is behind this one.

Oh, and then there was the geek version of the end-is-coming news:

about the fact that

“the human species is dying out”



the millennials are having less sex.

At least with one another.


virtual reality,

soft  eight-armed robots in autonomic command of their environment,

and hot greasy flying cheese on command,

not to mention the resultant continuous all-day all-night barking,



and cawing

of the neighborhood pets…

perhaps be a factor?


I wonder.

And then,


there was the story of a secret six hundred year old manuscript,

now residing in the Yale library,

with strange astrological and astronautical drawings

and secret hidden messages:


help, my boyfriend is robot slave –

and I am being chased by a flying pizza drone.

My guess is,

it’s actually a murder mystery-

Death in the pyramids

or did Agatha Christie or Elizabeth Peters already do that one?

guess who gets killed-

except this time,

it turns out someone up there

is playing multi-level chess,

and using the pyramids as pawns,

and to keep it spicy enough,

there is virtual reality sex

resulting in someone falling

or being pushed

out the secret hidden manuscript room window-

Is that Dan Brown enough?

Writers are supposed to observe, right?


I don’t think so.

Which is why,

for anyone who has ever had a real conversation,

or tried to help someone they only knew through a “friend” of a “friend”

and suddenly gotten the small voice in the back of their mind

chanting “shark…shark…shark,….”

We’re now 32 years past “1984”

(the year when a large group of theology, lit, and history students here in

Gutenberg land,

Ah yes, I knew them well, Horatio,

spent New Years Eve getting mindlessly drunk

while reading aloud the entire text of Orwell’s 1984,

and building small balloons out of paper and candles

to send aloft wishes, dreams, and creative ideas)

Thank heavens most of them never made it aloft,

the balloons, I mean,

or crashed and burned-

in a land of half-timbered 1600’s houses.

I don’t really know what the group was thinking,

but at least they WERE thinking.

As opposed to the group they later  became-

the investment bankers,

who used to read Kapital with K

and now read Capital with C.

But there are also,

in the small portion of our clique that were there that 1984 midnight,

a group of doctors without borders,

including one who quit after some border run-ins

(and prison time in a foreign country for trying to help)

and became a real live Quincy style mankind-threatening- disease detective,

a banker who whistle-blew on a major banking scam,

one who is a very good at investigative journalism,

a historian doing projects on what the murdered Jews,

non-Catholic or Lutheran religious,

Roma and Sinti,

anyone else just not liked very much for “being different”

during WWII

were actually like as people,

and what really happened to them.

Our little town of Gutenberg now has small bronze plaques in front of the homes

where a Jew was arrested, “questioned” and sent off to a camp.

It is touchingly simple: name, age, where taken, and the word “murdered.”

This is the people side.

The class of 1984, so to speak.

And, although many of us at one time were fascinated by, and built, robots,

worked nights delivering pizza

and hating it,

and trying to decipher literature,

both in a rare books section of a library,

and in classes with profs who sold hand-written

and photocopied

lecture scripts,

the basis of the all-truth is still-

heart, blood, soul.


copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Ecology And The Married Girl: Don’t Boar Me.

I read the news today, Oh Boy.

Wild boar,

once a major threat to life and limb in England-

and therefore hunted,

and endangered by ecological factors,

were once close to extinction.

And placed on the endangered list.

Then reintroduced,

both legally and illegally.

Followed by a break-out at a farm,

which imported boar from France

to raise as food.

Followed by clandestine meetings in  the ever-increasing forest areas,

followed by many many small piglets.

Not really new to me,

since my math-hero hubby

once did a lecture on the math of population ecology.

(And for some reason, to everyone’s chagrin,

in the battle between the foxes and the rabbits,

the rabbits always won.)

This was different though-

Injured forest walkers,

house-owners with suddenly,

over night,

completely plowed up lawns-

boar like the worms, grubs, and insects.

AND… digging.

There were  boar fights,

questions about whether it is now legal to shoot-

or tazer-

wild boar.

The whole nine yards.



also wasn’t really new to me.

A royal hunting park here in the area,

set up in 1750,

imported giant redwoods from California.

And large parrots from south America.

And, of course,

that all-American pain in the rump-

the racoon.

Cute, furry, and with an attitude.

As the locals found out,

when a major fire set many of their collection of animals free.

The parrots, of course, flew to the local spa’s giant park.

A haven right in the heart of downtown Roulettenburg.

(see past blogs)

From there, they moved up river,

then across,

of course,

to the more attractive Gutenberg side,

where today they regularly talk to death the local flamingoes-

each with a state id card and a pension for large amounts of shrimp,

to keep them nice and pink in the winter,

And since flamingoes are apparently are very shy,

and since stress makes them less likely to eat right and turn pink,

and therefore reproduce less,

(and bring in less human visitors,

who want to see pink flamingoes)

they have to be fed more shrimp

since being nagged by the parrots.

The redwood trees,

being more fire resistant than many local trees,

survived the fire well.

And need no extra shrimp.

But the raccoons,

apparently being brought up with a sense of true American pioneer spirit,

set off across the prairie,

to that promised land,

the rich garbage cans

and luxurious parks,

of the suburbs of Roulettenburg.

From whence they flourished,

as I found out,

much to my chagrin,


on being moved one day from my about-to-be-renovated classroom-

no, it wasn’t due to the blood of young college students on the walls-

If anything, it was the blood of old tired professors-

to short-term quarters

in the back rooms of a local bowling alley.

Where I found,

after hearing crashing and ripping and a strange sort of slurping sound

coming from behind the large metal doors at the back of the temporary


was the tinned foods stuffs storage area.

And also contained,


a pile of opened,

but not yet washed,

giant catsup tins.

From which,

the surprised red covered and black-masked faces

of a family of raccoons

looked up,

glared at me,

and made their move.

As did I.

Followed by a large group of Nato worker-students,

and two m.p.s

Who managed to get out before I did.

(Afterwards they claimed it

  1. wasn’t their job, and
  2. they weren’t armed to handle small animals.

Which may have been true,

but surely there must be some form of stick fighting technique,

like lifting the critters on a pole and putting them into a garbage bin,

and putting the lid on,

your could use, guys,

when confronted by

creatures with black gloves

and a black mask.

Or didn’t you all ever watch Zorro as kids?

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: You Can Sit And Do Nothing, And The Grass Will Also Grow- But You Will Never Get A Lawn.

Last night was one of those moments

you just wish would go on forever

and forever

and forever.

Three musicians,

sixty-ish to eighty-ish,

took to the stage,

had immediate control over a crowd of over twelve hundred,

changed the expectant atmosphere to intent silence,


No, it wasn’t the Stones.

Or the Beach Boys.

It was…

An Englishman, A New Yorker, And a Scotsman.

Trained by Benny Goodman,

Duke Ellington,

and the Dorseys-

Bruce Adams,

the top trumpeter in Scotland for many years

(and still is as far as I can tell)

Roy Williams,

an eighty year old plus Englishman who can make a trombone cry,

and the public even more.

And Ken Peplowski,

a top top clarinetist,

star of the Newport Jazz Festival,

who had to change to sax because he was competition for Benny Goodman.

These three,

and a beautiful younger English lady,

Denise Goodman,

who learned her amazingly beautiful singing style in Harlem,

and a Jamaican Baptist church,


and sang

three hours of incredibly hard licks-

(at one point, the trumpeter put the mute over his face

like an oxygen mask.)

the music of


Ella Fitzgerald,

the Dorsey Brothers.

(And amazing jazz vocals-

from In The Garden,

to a marvelous comic piece I had never heard,

called “chicken”

“take a tip from Shakespeare- a chicken is just a bird”

And all topped with a skyward glance

and an honest thanks to God that she, Denise,

could be there that night with the others,

the music topped all expectations.

This is one of  our traditional nights of joy each year-

the October Friday Night

when three Frankfurt lawyers and businessmen-

the Barrelhouse Jazz Band,

who started playing together as young students-

are invited,

along with their younger

very brilliant

rhythm group,

by the fervent and huge jazz club

of a very small village in the middle of the prairie,

to come and play-

and bring along anyone they wish-

all expenses paid.

Fans for years,

and used to excellence,

including Winston Marsalis’ fantastic trombone player doing St. James


Last night still topped,

for me,

all expectations.

Raised on the music of the jazz clubs in Saint Louis-

the yearly tours of the  greats of the Preservation Hall jazz band,

and the live Dixie of the riverboat bands,

as the paddlewheelers arrived,

cradled in the beauty of real gospel,

sung by real believers,


to me

was coming home.

(And we even got to sing along-

good strategy-

the others good-naturedly forced the clarinetist to sing)

And I learned more than a few things I had never,

or seldom-


even after all my years on a stage-

rapt attention to what the others,

even the youngest beginners,

were doing,


raising the praise level for another performer.

Positive tips-

at one point,

the trombonist walked over and convinced the guitarist to turn up

the volume and take three-

Boy, was he was right.

This happens only occasionally where I have worked,

usually among the best,

but these were the best of the best.

They didn’t have to do it.

But they did.

Ie traveled from NY, England, and Scotland

at sixties to over eighty years old,

worked three hours  plus,

gave their all,

and their absolute best,

and watched the crowd go home happy.

And singing.

Because they are pros.

And because they are trained to absolute discipline

and to shrugging off,

by laughing,

what is happening on stage-

Mikes not on,

drums too loud,

a brilliant pianist

who never works with glasses,

and had to find a pair when they gave him unknown sheet music-

he was great-

and best of all:

no idea of the free-flowing line-up-

“You wanna do A-train?”

“Fine with me?”

“In F?”

Then a quick turn to the audience-

“F o.k. with you all?”

F was definitely o.k. with us all.

And then,  of course,

the final moment-

when the founders,

also seventy to eighty-

who had worked the first half of the program,

then signed programs,

given interviews,

overseen the recording,

returned to the stage for double soloist versions of the final numbers.

And to pick up the traditional fringed umbrella,

and instruments,

and lead a final circle around the hall.

March style.

One final time.

After they had done their final circle the year before.

And the year before that.

And this time,


the final number

was “rock around the clock.”

Free style.

It takes real conditioning,

and hard work,

and planning,

and just plain joy of living

to do that.

At that level.

And that age.

See you next year, guys.

copyright Dunnasead. co 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: The Day Of The Other Triffids

Last night Harold and I went to bed swearing we

would neither stay up,

nor get up for,

nor listen to

“the great debate-”

part three.

We didn’t.

But at three am,

we were awake.


Or the neighbors downstairs listening to,

and fighting about,

the great debate.

(Germans are absolutely MAAADDD

for every little detail about Dilary.

Or Honold,

whichever way you see it.

But then they are mad for ALL kinds of politics.

In fact, I once had this idea that if we ran a kangaroo

for the socialists-

because he has deep pockets,

and a crocodile for the Christian democrat/Christian socialists-

the rightists-

because …..

So anyway,

trying to get back to sleep,

I realized that:

what had woken me was not the noise,

but the super-moon,

a giant orange and yellow pumpkiny thing in the sky

about the level of our bedroom window,

and lighting the place up like klieg lights,

and secondly that the noise wasn’t the neighbors tv,

they were on the balcony on the other side-

telephoning someone.

Probably about the debate.

Which left only one possibility:

the Sirians had landed.

In a burst of orange circulating light,

accentuated by the big pumpkin,

which definitely,

(now that I was just the tiniest bit awake,

the rational lobe of the brain started a tap dance-

to me and my shadow-

while it shoved old computer cards

into ancient pigeon holes of all the things I might have seen or done,



it wasn’t the police,

who flash blue and use bar lights,

the fire department,

ditto in red,

the emergency squad,

who use red with squealers.

No, said my overused and over-tired brain,

it was definitely aliens.


And with that, brain went to sleep.

Leaving me with mere passing whiffs of thoughts of:

maybe it was something to do with the chem lab at the u-

visible from the bathroom window-


(I checked)

the physics lab?

visible from my work room?


The video recorder set to record something

but with the tv left on by mistake,

thus leaving lots of room for noise?

Not a chance.

It was orange.

It was loud,

with a kind of thumping sound

ka thunk ka thunk

followed by a kind of whirring sound,

vriiiinnng …vriiiinnng …vriiiinnng

And it was definitely orange.

And had spinning lights.

And small people-like creatures,

in silver and orange suits.

It was at that moment,

that I recognized,

through the fog,


the garbage truck had come on the wrong day,

and at three am, no less.

They do that sometimes,

when they want to work double shifts,

or get off early.

Or so I have been told.

I usually am ASLEEP

at that time.

So there I was.

Brain asleep.

Triffids disappearing in the fog

taking all possibility of the id joining it with them,


At precisely that moment,

from the distant living room,

just past the bathroom,

with its summoning ear plugs,

and the kitchen,

with its summoning milk and cookies,

the tv recorder went on.

It was Donald and Hillary.


The aliens were back.

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: The Day Of The Peppermint Astronaut.

It’s cold here.

Cold cold cold.

White skies.

A sharp chill in the air.

Sharp like apples taken from a fridge are sharp.

And cold.

Not that we weren’t expecting this, here in Gutenberg Land.

The Christmas deco

and marzipan,

often called marchepane in English,

a candy made of ground almonds and powdered sugar

and shaped into small animals, and religious figures,

have been in the stores for months.

(The chocolate St Nicks started arriving

as soon as the store was cool enough that they didn’t melt.)

(And some of them even before)

In fact, it is so cold here,

even the dog chocolate has arrived.

(Special small white candy drops,

about the size of M and Ms,

that smell like dog-tempting choc,

but don’t contain things to hurt your dog.)


actually our huge Canadian Airedale Mugg was far too discriminating,

in a dog of the world way,

to be fooled by such nonsense-

she actually sniffed and walked away from dog chocolate,


she couldn’t pass anything with peppermint without taking a big bite-

from tinfoil wrapped mints,

(she prefers Menthos

and English strong mints,

and once drank a small bottle of peppermint oil)

so that, after a while, we just gave up

and tried to keep things in closed glass jars.

(So far, she hasn’t figured out how to unscrew a large Jiffy Jar…

but hey, who knows…

in time….)

Which was probably why we had gotten lazy

in the perpetual battle of

don’t eat the neighbors’ peppermint vines,

so that when she was left alone for a moment,

with an unfortunately open bottle of peppermint schnaps-

friends had brought it,

so we gave them some.

Meaning there was most of a bottle left over.

Which she carefully poured onto the table.

(And no one can tell me a dog who lands the booze puddle

in the one place it won’t go off onto the floor before she licks it clean,

didn’t plan it.

Especially since this is the dog that carefully closes the refrigerator door

to the ice-maker

so she doesn’t get caught stealing ice cubes-

Her favorite four o’clock snack-

Yes, four.

Which is probably why we once found four wrist-watches

in a pile under the dining room table.

Next to her dog dish.

(No, we don’t normally keep it there.))

So anyway,

this time,

Mugg found the peppermint.

Poisonous green-looking thick syrup,

with small green flecks.

Guaranteed to turn your tongue bilious

so bilious you would wash it with a washcloth,

if you could figure out how to use one.

Which may be why we found Mugg in the bathroom,

in a huge heap of toilet paper, thank heavens.


On her back.

All four paws holding the bottle.

For her to lick.

Since it was now empty,

since she had apparently rolled it into the bath.

Which bottle she then carefully pushed away,

rolled on her side,

struggled to her feet,

all four paws going in different directions,

And never, either before or since,

have I seen a dog that sick.

Although she did prove that,

even bilious,

she had the right stuff to become an Arfstronaut-

perhaps even the first dog to go to Venus,

since she survived the centrifuge-

that test where you turn in a circle fifty times,

in her case, probably chasing her tail,


being an Airedale,

was too short to chase.

Which meant that she,

being an Airedale,

simply turned,

and turned,

and turned,

and looked at us reproachfully,

And threw up.



Which meant

the 397th visit to the vet,

by this time a dear personal friend,

since we had basically paid for his new car,

and a true aficionado

of the “what did she do this time school.”

Hey, even dog-lovers have to sleep sometime.

(As for the vet, he always swore he would publish her up in a medical journal one day-

This is for you, Dr. S.)

Oh, and as to Mugg?

She’s fine.

Although, after what she went through,

(maybe she just likes milk and bread as an antidote?

And all the extra attention?)



Mugg is now permanently TPT

total peppermint temperance,

meaning we no longer have to explain to the vet

that despite the fact that we hid all peppermint things behind the laundry soap,

she had still found the breath mints,

and eaten them all.

With tinfoil wrapper.

Like our first visit.

Or watch her turn in a circle on the backseat of the car,

like the last.

No, this is one Airedale who has apparently learned her lesson.


what I can’t figure out,

for the life of me,

is why she now spends her time

dragging chili mix packets

through the kitchen.

Maybe because it’s cold here?

Cold, cold, cold?

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Not

It’s Monday morning here in Gutenberg Land.

Time to report all the newest on the weekend Gutenberg scene.



I find that formulation so bizarre,

I sometimes play with it.

Like to describe what I did with my long awaited long-weekend  vacation.

As in:


Nobody dead,

Like in tv movies.

And nobody dead at a country house murder game,

Like in the classic murder mysteries.

(I am reading one of the first Martha Grimes,

to get a perspective on

(well-deserved, in my opinion)

grand masters,


they that carry the small jeweled scimitar shaped dagger.

Boy, don’t mess with them

if you meet up at a Bouchercon.)

And don’t wear long hair.

The rule of thumb is a giant hat

with demonstrative hat pin,

and preferably with a veil,

if you can walk into a discussion room in one.

(Sorry, I’m a little touchy since one of the biggest names in mystery fiction

once asked me if with all that long hair I could play more than three chords

on the guitar.

(Actually about twelve instruments, but,

I have to admit,

she IS a grand master.)

(Not Martha Grimes, by the way)

(If you haven’t been to a Bouchercon, go)

So anyway,

since I was,

on the weekend,


as in:

not here in Gutenberg Land,

What DID happen,

in this case of the

more or less


is that

we got a last-minute call from some cousins,


bless their hearts,

we will never forget it,

had collected the last bits of junk

that had to be removed and stored,

before we could sell my husband’s ancient family house.

And I couldn’t do

after I had a car wreck

and couldn’t drive for a while.

Again, and since they are very active,

but still over seventy,

bless you both.

So there we were,

weekend off,

being reasonable and adult

(I want a weekend off some time)

riding through the incredible beauty

of the multi-colored fall leaves

of the Hunsrück mountains,

a stony, traditionally not very fruitful area,

(think pine trees, not corn)

populated by kind, warm-hearted (pig-headed) people


by a freak chance of mother nature,


and now mine


and gemstones,

and make their living trading,



and setting.

And since the tourist season is now finally over,

we had the place to ourselves:

long walks in the hills,

alongside small brooks,

a supper of potato specialties,

the main crop here,

and home-brewed beer

in a small inn,

and the next day a discussion of gemstones

with some very bored

and brilliant,

gem designers,

about who they sell to,

what the state of the local economy is,

ie good,

even though most of the cutting is being done cheaply in foreign countries.

The trick is,

that the worse the political situation in the world is,

the more gemstones are sold.

And our political situation,

and the Brexit,

have people half-way around the world buying gemstones again.

Which makes me wonder what the queen is now keeping

in that small safe

in the Corgies’ quarters.


copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Buoy Bells And Ancient Manuscripts

Yesterday was a special day for Harald and I.

So we chucked everything,

took a day off,

and went to one of our favorite places:


Alta Villa.

Right on the water,

the city of roses,

and where Gutenberg “retired.”

Ie, toward the end of his life,

he was broke.

As he always was,


he was more than a bit of a pirate type,


he had lost his press,

the printing press he invented,

numerous times,

(in those days, printing was the black art-

ie the holy word not written by monks)

had to flee several times:


due to a plague epidemic that shut down the city,

loading  everything on a wagon

and sneaking out in the middle of the night,

to hide out in the south.

And spread the black art there-

from whence it spread-




all over the continent.

But it was still the black art.

And since there was no patent office in those days,

and you had to rely on the bonhomie,

and hopefully Protestantism,

of local princes,

he ended up,

at the end of his life,

more or less without a sous,

and was, politically correct for those times,

fobbed off

with a small yearly pension

for life,

and a spot in a cloister.

In Eltville.



about eleven am,

the wind howled,

the gorgeous fall leaves swirled,

the boats and barges plied their trade,

carrying coal and passengers up the river,

the teachers,

on fall holiday,

or oldies,

enjoying a short couple of days vacation

in the golden sunshine,

all wandered through the world-famous castle rose gardens,

visited the fantastic church,

and the tower of saint Florian,

patron saint of fires.

(I wonder if he does firewalls)

before gathering

in the only spot apparently open that day,

a marvelous pier cafe,

the 511,

in a beautiful old building that looks like a small church,

that has been in the same family hands for eleven generations.

And the youngest,

looking about twenty,

were doing a marvelous job of it.

Hot grog and black coffee in all forms,

and waterfront specialties-

it is mussel season here,

and masses of pumpkin specialties-

from soup to casseroles.

Live with the season,

fare well,

is the local motto here.

Which we definitely did yesterday,

spending several hours wandering the Rhine paths,

prompted by the timelessness of it all,

and the stillness of the gently splashing water,

and car-lessness,


sudden lack of cares and problems.

We strode as Gutenberg must have,

and the monks he lived with,

enjoying every minute of our timelessness day,

thinking of the many blessings we have

and how good it is that we are both healthy

and together.

And that this is a moment I will definitely fold and put away in my memory box.


copyright 2016