And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Pigs’ Heads, Gaussian Libations, And Ascension Day Incense.

It’s bridge week here in Gutenberg Land.

And that means:

On Thursday last week,

all the male Gutenbergers-

(male only, because Thursday,

Ascension day,

is also father’s day here,)

went to high smoky mass with the wife and kids’

no disrespect meant, but when it comes to incense,

we Gutenbergers don’t mess around.

Especially when large amounts of the blend,

made specially for the grand cathedral,

started in the first couple of centuries,

are seen as the best possible preamble to the rest of the day-

grill heaven,

characterized by:

gathering up all the members of the local clubs-

Gutenberger have an average of 5 memberships each-

singers start with membership in at least five choirs,

then add the chicken raisers, computer clubs, at least two sport clubs,

stamps, star wars-

(there’s a choir over here called the next generation, if you can believe it)

historical putting on of armor and marching around like a gladiator club,

or a goat’s beard hat and short leather pants to play Bavarian club.

Either way, on father’s day, all pandorum breaks loose.

As in

after church, as I wrote, you gather the hoards.

And get into busses.

With a half a large pig per bus-

the head will be grilled separately and served with hat and sunglasses.

Then you add in a few members of the accordian club in each bus,

a few huge pots for high alcoholic “punch”

and set off.


Spend the night grilling,

and growling,

and offering up ancient Teutonic-

aka Klingon, Viking, or, if mathematicians are along,


libations to the powers that be:

Oh Gauss, bless these theorems,

as we deliver them orally,

because we are too potted to write them down.

Then you put on the pig’s hat,

and slide down the hill in the empty pots,

singing the Gutenberg’s equivalent of

one blue fly flew up the flew the other blue fly flew down.

And then you get back in the bus,

and head back home.

Head being the integral word here,

since every window has two singing male heads hanging out of it,

and the carcass of the pig is displayed below them,

roped to the outside.

And how do I,

a mere mortal woman,

know of these wonders of the  male universe?

Well, firstly, I am married to a very male singer-mathematician.

And secondly, I once conducted a male glee club,

whose members refused to hire me until after father’s day,

after having regaled me with these tales,

and having me only remark “oh, how interesting.”

Did I mention, I took a few courses in German ethnology?

Ps. It’s called “bridge week” because, by taking a strategic Friday,

and a couple of midweek days off,

you can bridge the gap to Pentecost,

where you:

go to high mass,

then collect a few busses,

and a half a pig….

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Hey, We May Survive After All.

Yesterday we took a couple of hours off to meet a distant cousin

in a gorgeous botanical Garden in Frankfurt.

Called the Palm Garden,

you can not only walk the huge area,

and enjoy the lake,

and the flowers,

and the sunshine,

you can also absorb the sounds.

And the smells.

And learn a lot.

About plants.

And, in our case,

from the cousin,

who is an early retiree,

couldn’t stand it and went back to work type,


we learned a lot about kids.

And what is really going on in education at the moment


That working with all kinds of kids

in the very very difficult Frankfurt school system,

with umpteen languages and cultures,

and umpteen views of God and the world,



it all depends on the parents.

Yup, parents.


according to her,

and her years and years of experience,

if the home has more books,

and allots more quality time for books

than tv, or,

more importantly today, computers,

the kids will make it.

‘Nuff said.

Ditto for alternative parenting sources like religious institutions,

which, whatever the religious direction,

needs a program that gets the kids involved.

ie a program in our church, for example,

to watch, and discuss, a Blues Brothers film

from the standpoint of what the actors were really saying.

And what the kids thought of the ideas.

And why.

And then they did a kids choir program where they sang a couple of blues brothers songs-

very popular over here.

Or, in the case of a choir project I set up, the old-time gospel John the Revelator,

and Riverside, which is as well-known over here as in the US,

and even O Happy Day, just so the kids heard it, just once, when it wasn’t being used

as a soap commercial, if you can believe it.

So there you have it.

Saving the world, according to E…

Which makes a lot of sense to me.


First: parents,

and then church as addendum to the parents,

and then…

of course the schools.

And here I have to admire his cousin.

She has been hit by all the “new and innovative” programs thrown at her,

weathered them all,

and still believes

schools are there to bring kids in touch with books.

When working with a book, the kids have to separate themselves off from the gang,

no computer pings

no others telling them what to think,

and just be still.

And listen,

and think

before they discuss.


And in tolerance.

Not to dispute, but to learn.

And then you have juice.

And graham crackers.

And a short nap.

Play with the class’ rabbit.

And life is good again.

And all that from a couple of hours without a computer.

Copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: What To Do On National Kumquat And Dried Salted Tuna Day.

I admit it.

I’m the kind of person who occasionally looks at a recipe,

while looking for anything,


to read

in the magazines they provide in a dentist’s office.

Then i study it carefully,

decipher the secret,

or two secret ingredients-

gee, it has condensed milk instead of milk and margarine.


And then I register that for the next time I get tired of all the healthy soups we eat,

lentil farmhouse,

chicken with glass noodles and coriander-

anything that doesn’t cost much,

take too much time,

need to be cooked instead of microwaved,

while still not coming out of a can or packet.

You get the picture.

So what do you do when you are emptying your mailbox,

so you have room for the other two hundred people who want to sell you a condo,

in Alaska,

In January-

“high tourist time, book now”

and discover-

be still my heart-

today is national kumquat, pickle and pineapple pie day.

As agreed on by the Senators of the great state of….

(Anything to get a vote)

And so,

while madly clicking all the new candidates for the spam file,

I start fantasizing-

since today is national buttermilk biscuit day,

and I am totally fed up with leftover tofu chili with saltines,

I could…

fry a round steak,

fried chicken style,

like in all the old Irish-American survival recipes-

round steak and mash,

corned beef and cabbage…

Then you make milk gravy with the pan drippings,

pour them over the buttermilk biscuits-

and give them to the dog for breakfast,

who will work them off with the twenty kilometer walk you take,

to work off the chicken fried steak.


you can simply add a pinch of sugar,

and a few raisins,

and invite the neighbors,

or relatives

to coffee,

and impress them with your “scones.”

Hey, fair is fair.

Coffee cake over here is just pizza dough with a large dose of white sugar,

and fruit and whipped cream on top.

So you don’t really taste the crust.

And then, of course, there is the fantasy method.

Make some buttermilk biscuits.

Top them with anything you think might possibly work-


liverwurst, poached egg, half a hot dog,

add a sauce-

if catsup, mayo, and pickle is good enough for a certain parabola burger chain,

it works for me.

In a pinch it also works on salad,

as “thousand island”

Make a buttermilk biscuit sweet variation-

put them upside down in caramel sauce and walnuts,

sprinkle with cinnamon.

(hey, if you study cooking anthropology,

you will find out that almost anything called  “national cooking”

is based on a mathematical pattern:

Cajun cooking is basically a roux, for example,

no, not that you rue the day…

most of it really actually tastes pretty good-

(a roux is a flour and melted butter paste,

add water,

and lots of hot sauce,

and you have basic more or less Cajun-

don’t write letters.

I know there is a lot more to it.

Then there is German.

Take a potato.

yup, that’s it.

Take a potato.

Potato salad, hot or cold, dumplings, boiled potatoes-

from all the incredibly many types of potatoes here in Gutenberg Land-

baked potatoes only if someone is cooking “British”

Or wants to show they know what goes with “steak.”

Potato pancakes at the market in winter,

fries used to come from a small cart that came through the neighborhoods on a Sunday morning,

right before the two p.m. ice cream truck came around.

Today you mostly buy them “oven ready” in the frozen department.

Or make them yourselves in the mini-friteuses that are so popular here.

Also used for frying mars bars,

in case someone was in Scotland on vacation.


in summation, students,

what can we learn from national kumquat and dried salted tuna day?

The next time you go to the store,

buy a jar of peanut butter,

and a jar of grape jelly.

And then…

Copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: What Do Isis, Osiris, And The 05 Soccer Team Have In Common?

One of the things you have to learn,

preferably fast,

when you move to Gutenberg Land,

is the fact that everything here has a solid tradition,



and all are written in stone.

Like the legend that the symbol of Gutenberg Land,

Gutenberg University,

and the Gutenberg 05 soccer team,

a white letter y,

contained within a white circle,

and emblazoned on red background,

is the symbol for a wagon wheel.

The personal

“remember how far I have come”

story of a cartwright’s son,

who, somehow, mystically-

as in, “so how did he learn to read and write-

and in Latin, no less?” –

got himself trained, consecrated,

and made head bishop of the Dom-

the major cathedral in Gutenberg Land.

Except, unfortunately, that he didn’t.

I mean, of course, he somehow was trained.

And consecrated.

And became bishop,

If the history books are right,

Of the Gutenberg Dom.

Where his picture was placed in stained glass.

Much later, I assume.

With his symbol of the wagon wheel

to remind him of his simple beginnings.

Could it be that one of the monks found a secret copy

of the story of Dick Whittington’s Cat

in the secret library

set up by that famous Name of the Rose monk

William of Baskerville?


you see,

the secret

that has been blasted out for years,

by historians,

but never really heard by anyone,

because the locals like the legend of the wagon wheel,

and it makes it easier for locals to remember the names of the bishops,

which you have to recite when you take a visitor to the Cathedral,

or they revoke your right to take place in the Carnival  parades on Rose Monday,

is that:

get ready:

the “wagon wheel”

which is now proudly worn on the shirts

of the famous Gutenberg 05 soccer players,

and is on the buses,

and on statues,

and in front of the University,

is not,


a wagon wheel.


it is actually,

get ready,

The Celtic symbol for Mogu,

the sun-god,


through the centuries,

popped up everywhere here,


since no one, not even the Catholic Church

wanted to destroy ancient monuments,

like the ancient Isis-  Magna Mater temple

which brings in thousands of tourists each year….

And so,

ta da.

Once was Mogu,

now is Willigis.

Worn proudly by the red and white-clad,

including parallel red and white combat stripes across their cheek bones,


six-year olds,

and dogs in full soccer uniform,

fans of the famous “Willigis wagon wheel” wearing

Gutenberg 05.

And now you know

The Rest Of The Story.

Copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Slitheens, Raxacoricofallipatorian, And The Eurovision Song Contest.

In case you read the above title,

didn’t have a clue what I am writing about,

and therefore squealed

“Eeeew. I don’t think so”

and went back to reading the news about political Armageddon,

the above is from Dr Who.

Well, maybe not the bit about the Eurovision.

That will come later.

But, should you still be thinking,

having now stopped for a moment to read my intro,

that you still just reeeeaaallly aren’t sure –

about reading this blog I mean-

Dr Who is a political satire-

started about fifty years ago

by someone who wanted to free Wales from (tyranny? Old ladies in crowns? Corgies?)

And more important,

entrance into what the first writer felt was an unjust war.

And taxes.

Social mores,

after school science tv,



fifty years later….

Life, the universe, and everything, right?

So last night-

after one of those days you just want to stuff back in the bottle

and wait for it to turn into something besides vinegar,

we turned on the tube,

sat down on the yoga pillows-

no muscle strengthening, no tube.

Life the universe, and everything,

and watched:

a beautiful little fable about a slimy dinosaur-like being,

from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorian-

(is it just me, or does that sound like someone falling down stairs?)

who is evil, political, a banker,

from a family of bankers,

and wants to use the world for personal purposes.

Oops, sorry,

that was the eight o’clock news.

In this case,

we had a dino

who destroyed people,

to create a rift in the magic stones on the waterfront of Cardiff,

and was de-developed

(spoiler alarm)

into an egg,

the size of an ostrich egg,

with antenna.

After first divesting itself of a suit of human skin,


being too small,

causes it to burp,

and pass wind,

in public.


Sort of like the group of red-scarved football fans

you meet on the narrow-gauge trains

on football game days here in Gutenberg Land-

eating chicken Mcnuggets under a sign that says

“absolutely no eating in the trains”

drinking beer,

under a sign that says

“absolutely no beverages”

and burping loudly

and passing wind.

And all we need is a subsidy

from the national health,

that would allow us to buy a sonic screwdriver,

to transform them back into ostrich eggs,

and send them to that planet

that makes every person automatically laugh out loud

and feel eminently successful,

when he gets the name right.

And you thought this blog wasn’t going to be political.



And then there is the Eurovision Song Contest.


copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Residuum On A Bed Of Rocket

Whoever would have guessed that

when I made a quick end run around the leftovers in the fridge today,

-hey, we made it through the weekend-

with guests-

what more do you want?

that I would.

on a Tuesday,



making a huge  statement

as part of the flash movement


of the millions of people each day

who minimize their world,

by tossing together anything they can find left,

after guests, taxes, an attack of refrigeratoritis-

that disease that suddenly eats anything not locked down

in the middle of the night-

when the fridge’s door is closed,

and the light is off-

yeah, yeah, the dog ate it.

So anyway,

it was Tuesday.

And there I was.

Making a flash movement statement,

when suddenly I realized:

not only was I making a statement-

and proving what I good manager I was-

forget that-

but also,

I was doing my bit as a concerned burgher-

to support the cause of potassium.

And green.

No, not that stuff on the top of the yogurt-

No, I was,

Yup, you guessed it.

celebrating the fact that today is national zucchini day.

At least I thought so.

Until I did some research.

And discovered that today is actually…

do pickled onions count as green?

So, first you make the end run through the residuum,

then you make up a statement to hide the fact

that you don’t really want to go to the grocery store,


You get creative.

Place six leaves of rocket in ice water-

that’s actually British for radicchio,

hey, anything sounds fancier in British, don’t you think?

Even wilted lettuce.

Then you top it with ants on a log-

that’s celery slathered with peanut butter

and topped with raisins-

thanks star restaurant chef nephew of mine with a three-year-old son-

then you take a hard roll from the freezer,

toast it so many times you get zwieback,

and smear it with the remains of a jar of mint jelly-

from the Easter dinner.

I was thinking of a soup made of catsup for a first course,

when I found a cube of dried pea soup-

made in lumps over here, not powder.

We had an orange

with leftover pieces of chocolate Easter rabbit,

for desert.

And coffee from a special “happy Easter, try this” sample

from a coffee roaster here in town.

All in all,

it tasted great.

AND it even motivated me to clean the fridge,

since it was so nice and empty.

Now comes the big question:

for tomorrow:


or the chicken that seems to have something to do with the US civil war?

Will let you know.

Copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Welcome To Sight City

I don’t know about you all,

but I’m a gadget lover.

And a chaser of adventures-

which somehow, in the end,

usually end up chasing me instead.

Case in point:

Sight City-

And if you haven’t heard of Sight City,

shame on you.

Well, maybe not-

but it is, to tell the truth,

the largest purveyor of gadgets,


and aids for the blind

and visually impaired,

in all of Europe.

This year, for example,

the Sheraton at the Frankfurt airport,

was host to over 128 large companies and organizations.

And if you, like most people,

haven’t had to do with more than one blind person at a time,

picture the following:

When leaving the long-distance train station,

a special building just for fast trains arriving at the airport,

(regional, local, and subway are in a separate area)

you are immediately noted,

if you have a cane out and at the ready,

and docked onto the arm of a member of the yellow-shirt team,

trained to escort the blind.

(And manage up to small groups, linked hand to shoulder-

who they then escort down the walkway,

across the people mover,

and directly to the registration desk at the convention headquarters.

From there, you are instructed in elevators,

the use of the mobility strip-

a five rilled plastic low train-track on the floor here,

and in many German cities,

for the blind to walk on,

cane in the center rill.

From there,

into the void-

loud noise,


“non-blind out-of-the-way please”

demonstrations of the latest technology,

and, of course, the inevitable coffee.

Free here for participants.

And the gadgets.

Be still my heart.

So many gadgets with the one simple, all-important goal-

help the blind stay  equal in a non-blind world.

From kitchen gadgets:

speaking egg timers, heat recognition,

to household repair tools with hand guards,

and daily wear:

color and pattern recognition,

to the one someone not blind never thinks about-

a pencil-sized unit to check if the lights are on,

all is available.

Along with a lot of things finally built non-digital

so the blind can use them-

anyone out there listening?

And then, of course,

there are the things that make the blind look beautiful-

hey, they wish to look just as good as the rest of us-

and here, a very special tip of my hat to a very special person:

an eminent designer,

Chris Park,

with a very special view of the way we see things,

and a wish to design useful items,

like canes,

that are beautiful enough,

and his definitely are,

that a blind person doesn’t feel,

and move,

like an elephant when going out to a concert,

or a formal dinner somewhere.

Thank you Chris.

We really loved your designs.

And then, of course,

as I mentioned before,

Harold and I being gadget freaks,

the highlight of the evening was the Orcam,

a Next Generation’s Jordie type of visor-

actually, a half google half NG pair of glasses,

not hooked to the brain,

with a small web cam

that not only recognizes text and patterns

it also recognizes faces of friends

and important people in your life-

darn- we forgot to ask if  it recognizes dogs.

Probably so.

So if you add up all of the above,

add in one very exhausting,

but fascinating couple of days of adventure-

oh, and of course, visits to the new online-download audio- books,

for the over 40 million blind in the world,

toss in a discussion of a small four-standing-up sort of smart-car,

self-driving, of course,

which I could easily see a lot of use for

for the non-visually impaired,

when it comes out relatively soon,

(think  one-way cab bills,

and Mardi gras-


and you start to get a very strong view of

just what is in store for the visually challenged of the future-

unless we finally get the medical problems causing it wiped out first.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Why Would A Nice Catholic English Saint Lady Lead A Charge Against Drunk Celts On Beltane Eve?

If the above confuses you, welcome to the club.

Gutenberg Land, you see,

is a big follower of customs-

down to the smallest detail-

and then reading a book,

or watching a tv show about it

to find out why.

(Or just drinking a couple with friends,

and pretending they know why-

To which I can only say,

the later the evening,

the lower the witches fire,

the more unusual the theories.)

On the other hand,

after having been at more than a few “witches fires”-

actually totally harmless-

light a bonfire of twigs,

toss on a couple of old tires,

so that all the hills are alight,

then drink about thirteen pints per person,

(I’m the one who stays sober so they don’t decide to kidnap the mayor, or some such)

sing a few silly songs,

then dispatch in large groups

to turn the street signs the wrong way,

put park benches and baby buggies on the roof,

and put up a giant striped Maypole,

the sign that the next day’s street festival is up and running,-

after, of course,  everyone finally gets up,

drinks prairie oysters and eats large amounts of hard roll breakfast,

or in some areas here,

goes door to door collecting eggs and bacon from the older citizens,

in return for righting the carnage of the night before,

then cooking a massive breakfast in the woods,

before dropping by the local police department

or fire department,

to thank them,

(and bringing prairie oysters and rolls to the ones on duty-

who were probably partying with the best the night before)

Then, in some areas,

the girls are “sold”

buy a picnic basket,

go on a supervised picnic with the parents and the young girl who made it.

And all because an English Lady,

St Boniface’s sister’s daughter,

the lady, later saint,  Walpurga

traveled the area of Franconia-

and also Gutenberg land,

since we have tight ties to them,

despite their having converted to Protestantism.

spreading Christianity,

and attempting to wipe out all traces of Beltane night-

the time when light and dark are equal,

and the graves open to allow the spirits to roam.

Which obviously worked about as well as trying to get rid of Samhain,


and ended up with a Lady,


being given a saint’s day with rowdy overtones,

great drama,

and music,

like Goethe’s

the brothers Grimm’s,

and Mendelsohn’s


a whale of a fascinating sight-

ie hills on fire,

and a whole lot of very inebriated Gutenberger,

sliding down the hills in giant soup pots,

as they intone the old songs,

polish off a keg or two,

and scare innumerable amounts of tourists,

trying to find their way,

without street signs,

to a bed and breakfast,

which may not have any beds,

or breakfast.

But never fear.

The Mayday parties the next day are fun.

And in case of emergency, the locals are friendly.

And might even let you sleep in a giant goulash soup pot,

preferably empty,

if you ask nicely.

copyright 2017