And Gutenberg Lived Here: Welcome To 1968

Yesterday, while doing the usual

“Midwestern Living” approved

Saturday ride the trolley,


errands bit,

I had one of those sudden brainstorms-

that’s fancy talk for

there was this flash of lightning,

and a piece of the sky fell on my head.

No, we weren’t headed for Kansas in a balloon.

I was in a small outdoor strip mall:

drug store, dentist, photographer, copy place,

O2, two bakeries,

a Chinese,

small grocery store,

and a teller machine-

for paying the mid-month bills-

when it hit me:

Hey, Toto.

I’m back in 1968.

Which I surely should have seen coming-

what with a group of students of mine,

in a short break during a rehearsal this week,

asking me what my “Stripper Name” is-

(that’s your pet’s name,

and the name of the street where you were raised.)

In my case:

Mitzi Sunnyside.

Which could be left open to a looootttt of interpretation,

if it weren’t for the fact that it also

would be my brother’s “Stripper Name.”

Do the Chippendales do “Mitzi?”

And then, of course, we were off and running.

Astrological sign-

hey who huh,



Chinese sign?


(good hands for playing piano)

Hippy Love name-

Morning Starshine?

House on the beach, in the woods, in a city?

Anywhere except a practice room.

In fact, even a large dog house,

as long as it is sound-proofed,

and has no other musicians as neighbors.

Vampires or werewolfs?


Stones or Beatles-


Then yesterday, I saw all the posters-

the theater here is doing “Nunsense”

And “The Adams Family”

The new “spring collection-”

at the Gutenberg equivalent to Wal-mart,

is pure sixty-eight.

And lots and lots of Indian influence.

The new VWs all have just a smidge of-

who am I kidding?

in my opinion,

they all look exactly like-

Herbie The Love Bug.

(Anybody else notice that the Fords have fins?)

And on TV,

instead of The Lion In Winter,

and Rosemary’s Baby,

we have….

fill in the blank with anything you find seven nights a week

between about seven and midnight.

So what exactly does this signify,

Bill Nye the science guy?

That we are all insecure and wanting to go back to the future?

Or longing for a time again when the music was

really truly cool,

and the future didn’t consist of fat Korean dictators

and neighbors spying on each other with spyware.


like asking what your hippie name is?

So how about,

to confuse everyone,

we invent a new set of questions of our own.

Not asked by data collectors.

How about-

what is your Will Rogers name?

Mugwump Whipplewhite?

Or Mark Twain

Dewberry Deuteronomy?

Or favorite murder mystery character name?

Agatha Raisin,


Hamish McBeth,

Tom Barnaby.

And, of course, the fantastic Jessica Fletcher.

Just take them from anything that has been filmed in the last few years.

And wear them with honor.

Welcome to the sixties.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: It’s Easter- So Bring On The Minkies

With nuclear threats whirling in the air,

and Gutenberger having to decide if it is safe to go to Easter sunrise service

in the huge cathedral here in Gutenberg land,

the trains threatening to strike,

and rumors of high levels of toxins in the Easter cheese,

the local tv channels here filled the Easter weekend

with the usual biblical epics-

1950’s style,

the big day for Kirk Douglas.

And then there were the anti-programs-

on the happy channels, beautiful pictures

of the local vista points-

cathedrals, huge statues, winding rivers-

taken from the air,

or through the front window of a train.

The history channel’s stories of Sigfried and the Nibelungen,

the creation story of the German people,


get ready for this one-

Japanese monstor films,

and one nature catastrophe film after another.

(we did find one channel that played all-day ie all three days-

wonderful and funny cosy murder mysteries,

about a gigantic Bavarian dialect-speaking detective

who lives with his mother

and irritates the entire corrupt political “amigo system”-

and taped two of them for later viewing-

probably about Christmas,

the way things are going around here at the moment.

So not that Easter has anything to do with tv-

although I once had a dream that CNN was reporting on the crucifixion,

and was physically ill every time I thought of it,

but one of the strangest things about the German idea of

church, walk, eat, walk, coffee and  cake, walk, tv program Easter,

is that,

for some reason,

they have glommed onto the Wizard of Oz.

Which is shown in many many forms here-

from the original-

with Judy Garland,

to the several new modern versions,

to “wicked” the musical.

Which made me wonder,

after watching the news this morning,

all about a French political candidate,

who is using a hologram of himself

to campaign in all points of the French republic

at the same moment,

apparently with great success,

thus proving that he is a populist.

whether Frank Baum,

who actually wrote “The Wizard Of Oz”

as a political parable about the gold standard in the States,

and those who put it on the screen

with Judy Garland,

are now finding that,


their Minkies

are suddenly coming home to roost.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: The Epic Battle Of The Easter Phyllo- Bring Your Own Catsup.

About a week ago,

in preparation for Easter,

I made an impulse buy-

phyllo dough.

In case you haven’t heard of it,

it’s that strange layered stuff

you have to defrost,




leave sit for a while,

take an aspirin,

start flattening, pulling, watering, again.

And studying.

from the standpoint of:

“it says bake 10 minutes.

And “gluten-free.”

And nothing else.

As in:

now that I have bought this stuff,

what do I do with it?

I defrosted it.

Seemed like a good idea at he time.

On Thursday, I thought I would make part of it into shells,

to fill with Maundy Thursday spinach.

chopped and pounded to the level of soupy goop.

The goop we ate with a spoon.

To my husband’s sighs of

“what do I do with this now- ”

the shell-


there’s hopefully not any more left is there?

Just two more portions frozen, sweety.


good Friday-

I underestimated.

It was three more pieces.

One became a bowl for his baked fish.

Mine got melted cheese.

Like strange greasy pizza.

Not so good.

Saturday, we had a piece as a bowl for strawberries.

It collapsed in baking,

so was more like a strawberry pastry.

I gave up and poured milk on top.

On Sunday, we went all out.

Strawberries, strips of pastry, whipping cream.

Not bad if you like gluten-free puff pastry-

by this time, I ate half, and headed for the carrots.

And finally,


the second day of Easter,

as it is called over here,

a holiday for finishing up the flattened, slightly soured,

not so really what you want

left-over phyllo,

I gave up,

and poured vanilla yoghurt over the top.

Not bad with berries.

And washed the dishes,

thrilled that we had made it:

a very very happy Easter weekend,

with joy

and love.

and sunrise viewing

to the sounds of birds just stirring,


And then,

with my husband on the phone

calling his relatives,

as you do on second Easter over here,

just as I was packing away the carrots I had bought too many of in the freezer,

to be made into soup,

one cold and starry night,

if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise,

I found it:

a one year old package of phyllo-

I had frozen,

since I didn’t know what to do with it

last Easter.

So, if you’ve gotten this far

into the saga of phyllo-

Anybody want to come over for baked bean packets

and pigs in a blanket?

Fourth of July.

7 PM

Bring your own catsup.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: The Flying Squirrels, And Other Easter Traditions

Gutenberg Land is,

to put it in a nutshell,

one of the more unusual places on this planet to spend Easter.


First there are the historical traditions:

the capping of village wells with a crown of large,

croquet hoop shaped,

willow slips,

to which centuries old and carefully packed away each year,

blown out and decorated Easter eggs are hung.

Altars in churches that are,

until the reading of the creation at Easter sunrise,

empty of Bible, candles, transubstantiation bells, a crucifix, the sound of the organ,

since the altar is draped in black,

and these elements of Catholic worship,

“are in Rome”

as the locals say.

Then, on Easter day,

of course,

there is a huge ceremony in the cathedral,

with priests in historical vestments,

almost every stop on the organ being pulled,

(there’s a joke here about local organists being so short

because as apprentices,

they have to fit under the arms of the organist

to pull the stops.)

Oh, and before I forget,

in addition to the historical vestments,

this is,

as I have mentioned many times,

a papal see-

the pope has his own throne at the back,

also  traditionally used by the emperor,

when there was one,

and the church ushers wear Swiss guard uniforms,

with pikestaff.

(the rest of us- the protestant section,

get up EARLY-

for sunrise service,

and have the added and wonderful joy

of watching the squirrels in the trees

waking up, making ablutions,

and jumping through the treetops

as the sun comes up.

Then, of course,

there are the American additions to the scene-

giant pink rabbits selling perfume,

fancy Easter cards,

Easter egg hunts,

plastic grass for baskets-

never a thing over here-

marking pens and wax batik eggs,

(tradition here is boiled onion skin brown eggs,

red from beet juice,

all made to shine by wiping with a pork rind with fat back.)

Actually, I could go on forever,

with the Gutenberg  cathedral’s own particular mass form,

different from everywhere else in the world,

or Roman traditions,

or the German tradition of everyone going out into the hills

for a good walk in nature,

and often bringing back forsythia branches,

to put in a vase,

to hang small wooden rabbits and eggs on,

or the special coffees,

and traditional baking,

and weeks of preparation,

and the gift exchange,

in many homes,

of marzipan figures,

flowers, of course,

and even nylons for the women,

I expect a throwback to the fifties,

when it was hard to get to such things.

The main thing, though,

as I see it,

is the personal meaning for each person

of Easter.

For us,  a time of meditation and giving thanks.

And talking to family.

And being glad that Harold and I are still together.

(And still enjoy exchanging our own special Easter treats-

small hand decorated chocolate “present eggs”

and homemade hot cross bunnies.

Happy Easter to all.

copyright 2017



And Gutenberg Lived Here: What On Earth Happened To All The Eggs?

Spring is sprung,

the grass is riz,

time to look for where

the Easter stuff is.


It’s that time of year again.

And Gutenberg Land is no different from anywhere else


Yesterday we did the usual Easter shopping thing-

clothes, socks, underwear,

hey, when you’ve got a man along,

and he has finally agreed to go clothes shopping,

you do what you have to do.

So there we were-

at one of the large downtown  department stores-

after taking the “happy train”-

the small gauge connector

with cutouts of tv cartoon figures on the sides,

that carries the thirty thousand plus students to classes,

and every one else to early morning senior citizen 2 halves of a hard roll

smeared with jam or cheese or raw pork hamburger with onions,

and coffee,

for under 5 dollars,

or those,

like us,

to shopping.

Hey,  when you have family in the States

expecting boxes of German Easter candy-

chocolate in the shape of everything from wart hogs-

hey, never heard of the Easter fertility wart hog?

to high-heeled slippers,

computer keyboards,

the transformers,

and even some in the shape of Eggs,

which weren’t selling nearly as well as the chess set,

you buy a large postal box,

and fill ‘er up.

At least partially-

the stuff is good quality,

and not really cheap.

then, after buying the smeary jell-o-like color sticks,

and the stringy green super thin licorice

that looks like Easter basket grass,

drinking two cups of coffee,

to up the morale,

not to mention getting the brain functioning again,

you avoid the pink fuzzy bunny underwear,

and men’s briefs with tiny little rabbits everywhere,

some of them doing things,

like those Kama Sutra charts you see in cheap book stores,

and buy…


(The underwear will have to keep till after Easter-

did I mention underwear,

and especially nylons for women

are a favorite Easter gift over here?)

And this,

the Egg hunt,

before anyone has actually hidden them,

is the real reason you have to do the Easter shopping run for your life-

Namely, all white eggs,

that can be actually colored without coming out grey,

have been reserved,

at our bio chicken raiser down the road from us.

Yeah, yeah, so I sort of forgot it again-

hey, who thinks of reserving eggs-

and strawberries,

and whte asparagus,

if you do the Easter thing German style,

in the middle of February.

(so they know how many fields to plant,

since both strawberries

and white asparagus,

are high water, high amount of work needed to pick and harvest,

what with going out every day to put dirt on the asparagus sprouts,

so they don’t turn green,

or purple,

under the sunlight.)

So anyway,

to make a long story short,

after a full day of walking-

10 kilometers on our meter,

we now have:

put the Easter boxes in the mail,

no new underwear,

two boxes of white un-bio eggs

which probably means fed with plastic grasshoppers,

a thumping heart

from the next two cups of coffee,

and the sweet potato fries with hot curry sauce for lunch,

an egg nog filled chocolate egg for the love of my life,

a new plastic watch band,

for our pedometer,


no new Easter clothes.

Hey, after all these years as a conductor,

I’ll just pull out something from the black suit and pants section of the closet,

and try to get it dry cleaned before Easter.

Hey, and I thought conducting Bach’s St John’s Passion was hard work.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Bain, Pain, Band, And Panned.

In 1967

Pearls Before Swine

sang “Miss Morse”.

A group of boy scouts in New York

called in to protest.

They had studied Morse,

and recognized the Morse code in the lyrics.

Always be prepared.

It was band.

And banned.

And then there were the Beatles-

George dead?

John dead?

and what exactly, please, is the meaning of the Walrus?

Especially after Quinn the Inuit became so popular.

(Played backwards, or forwards, either way it is the bain of music interpreters.)

And a right royal pain in the mukluk.

And Band.

And was, in certain places, banned.

Which brings us to the question of censorship.

How often during wars was music used to send messages?

Ever hear of the war of the roses?

Or the fact that reportedly Shakespeare was a secret Catholic-

working for Henry VIII’s mother, and a Catholic printer?

And why does Ophelia go on and on about Parsley, Sage Rosemary And Thyme?

When she hadn’t ever met Simon and Garfunkle?

(Answer: It’s a code- see the meaning of flowers and herbs)

And then, of course, there is the war of the natural elements.

Almost everyone knows they have a birthstone that fits to their astrological sign.

And many carry small bags of stones to change their health.

Personally, I would say, forget the agate, just don’t eat the onions,

but there are many who believe in such things.

In fact, I was given an apatite for my last birthday.

Inexpensive, and very very beautiful.

Check them out.

Stones are fascinating as a hobby.

And then there are the fancy stones.

Like a “dearest” ring-

diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby-

very popular in Victorian times,

and now back in fashion, apparently.

A girlfriend of mine wears one as a wedding band.

And, of course, with mothers’ day not too far off,

there is the famous bracelet-

for mothers, with each child’s birthstone,

or a bracelet for remembrances-

one each for the bride and groom.

My real favorite, though,

I recently researched stones and design,

since I married into a stone cutter family,

and the discussion at the dinner table is often about stone blemishes

that make cutting impossible,

and what a ring has to look like to correctly represent the family-

I wear a band we designed together and an uncle made-

a small (stoneless)  linked initials ring-

but then, what do I know?

I horrified them all at a family meeting with an apple seed necklace.

Which brings us back to the problem.

So what happens when your sweetie gifts you with his stone-

which, in addition to being his birth stone,

is meant to cure warts, bow legs, too large feet, a large nose?

(none of the above applicable, in the case of my better half-

just an aunt who believes in esoteric,

and giving male family members birthstone rings.)

And what then happens,

when said gifted male nephew then hand them on to unsuspecting wives.

(Hey, the stone doesn’t apply to me either…



back to the question.

What do you do…

When what you really wanted

was something in bizarre colors that flashes in time to music,

preferably made out of cheap plastic,

so it doesn’t hurt when you lose it,

or is a philosopher’s stone-

for eternal youth, and strength to go out and boogy,

or endurance to party all night?


Just make him buy you two diamonds to counteract it.

(If you look hard enough, you can surely find something in all health-improving stones

that is a good excuse for a  diamond-

just kidding, a fancy evening out will do just fine)

And what about flowers?

How many fantastic books and films hinge on the use of “Rosemary for remembrance?”

Or “Rosemary and thyme”.-

Make that time?

Hey, over here even parsley is a message bringer-

your twelve and a halfth (is that a word?) anniversary.

Either that or the lettuce in your salad is brown, and the restaurant is trying to hide it.

Bain, Pain, Band, and Banned.

See, told you so.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Elementary, My Dear Watson.


while working on how to kill a protagonist I didn’t really want to kill,

(although said prot. surely deserved it,

the way I have written it,)

which therefore meant I probably just wasn’t ready to do said prot. in,

which definitely meant more background detail in a piece

that already contains egyptian pyramids that don’t belong there,

but have to be,

and snakes that do,

even if they are boa constrictors in a story about asps

(the stage company can’t afford the insurance)

and everything else but the kitchen sink,

(actually, this is always the worst part of writing for me-

right up there with driving the plot off a cliff,

because there is no where else to go,

and hoping, in desperation, that the parachute will open before I have to rewrite)

Forget it-  you always have to-

I  suddenly found myself thinking about a note written to me by a wacko

who thinks that if she breaks my concentration regularly,

“she and I definitely will one day be good  friends”

And laughing hysterically.


in her latest note to me,

said wacko has decided to collect what I have written,

including to others,

and will “write my biography when I am famous.”

(hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah……etc etc.

From your mouth to God’s ear, if He wishes.


after at least five minutes of laughing-

gee, I sure do hope she is right…

me working my backside off at conferences,

staying in cheap hotels,

getting paid just about enough that,

if I write two books or more per year,

I can nearly pay the heat here in Gutenberg Land…

while she…

Wow, I sure hope she writes better than she does in her notes to me.

So anyway…

It was a dark and stormy night.

A pirate ship appeared on the horizon-

well, actually, it was a pizza delivery van-

a group of six musicians rent a place here,

and have coated the walls with egg cartons to set up a music studio-

it doesn’t work.

How many times can you play the bass line to Louie Louie

before you finally accidentally get it right?

Or your neighbor lets you have it with a rubberized composers’ piano?

Hey, maybe there’s a book in that?

So there I was,

me and Charlie Brown,


and hang on snoopy,

loping to the casbah,

needle-less Christmas tree dragging behind us on a rope,

ready to celebrate when the last chapter is done,


Out of nowhere,

Sherlock Holmes popped into my mind.

The last one before the hiatus,

or the next Hamlet performance,

whichever comes first,

so hopefully only temporarily,

like, apparently, until spring of 2020-

unless the hiatus is forever.


Known as” the Final Case”

in the film,


“The Last Case,”

in the Doyle version,

it is the story of Sherlock trying to work out what happened to him,

through evil agencies,

while being kept in the dark,

by an idiot who is actually his control freak brother,

After which,

Sherlock regards the real crimes going on in the “family”

And discovers  that,


he is the only one involved who really understands what is going on.

(Since he,

and John

are the only responsible adults in the “family.”)

And since the others-

family members and helpers-

have set up a world with no moral content,

no beliefs,

no humanity,

no decency,

and no joy…

Which they are not enjoying,

but do not change,

since they are so used to controlling,




and controlling.

(did I mention controlling…)

And earning money off of others.

Which they have set up as the basis for “reality”…

And since, as we all know, reality is a put-on,

the only way out of the “game” which is obviously afoot,

is to use logic,

and truth,

and fortitude,

to break through the game,

to reach any kind of a  level of decency…

A level in which those who want to play the control game

are kept at a distance,

behind the wall of sound.

Ie good and positive sound.

Like music.

Which lulls everything else.

And from behind which,

one can live in peace, and belief, and joy, the way it ought to be.

Ps. If the above reminds you of Sartre, or Godot,

that’s the way the Endgame crumbles.

Did I mention,

that my favorite writer is John Donne?

(Ever notice how his structures are so like a compass?)

The end.

copyright 2017