And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Johnny G, Ceremonial Baths In Wine Vats, And The Gentlemen’s League Of Printers.

It’s that time again.

The one weekend each year

when the real Gutenberger-

the Meenzer- those born within the sound of the church bells,

the Määnzer- those born in the city, but not within the sound of the bells,

and the Mainzer- those who have moved in and now live here

turn their faces to the fiftieth parallel,

which runs a good deal away from the place the locals planted the metal plaque,

so tourists have a place to have their picture made.

Then, with reverence,

and an eye on the huge amount of tourists he has brought to the city,

the true sons of Gutenberg Land slowly bow

and  pay reverence to their hero-

Johnny G-

as he is called at the University.

For Johnny G,

actually Johannes Gensfleish,

inventor of the printing press,

often called Gutenberg,

has a birthday this weekend-

on the twenty-fourth, actually,

which is mirrored in the fact that children from that time

were often named after the Saint on whose day they are born-

in this case, St John, whose day also marks

the last day to legally sell strawberries and white asparagus,

and is the reason for the famous St Johannes night festival-

the day when, since the middle ages,

all outstanding bills have to be paid,

and then you boogie.

To the sound of loud street bands,

the clinking of wine spritzer and strawberry wine glasses,

a quick rummage through all the junk shops-

and artists’ stands,

especially the jewelers, who, in this area are particularly good.

And, of course, the stands, and stands, and stands,

of antique books,

looking for new homes,

in the myriad of rucksacks,

and specially made book carriers-

particularly good for swinging to make way

through the multi-million tourists,

at this “biggest summer festival on the Rhine”

on their way to see the highlight of the festival-

the “gautschen”-

traditionally the huge blow-out party thrown by the newbies

to the book printing guild-


in the middle ages till early modern times,

had to pay up to two years’ salary

for this  party,

or who,

as an alternative,

and as it is done today,

merely get dunked under water

in a huge vat in front of the local opera house,

and held down for a moment or two by the “catchers”-

a group of muscle men, all printers,

who have to catch and dunk the newbies,

as they, the newbies,

try by all means,

and with the help of the crowd,

to escape.

Never fear.

They all get caught,

and carried to the vat,

where they are dunked,

then scrubbed with huge natural sponges,

before being dragged out,

to join in a toast to the league of gentlemen printers.

Congrats, kids.

More power to you all.

May you be happy in your chosen field,

and may it, in one form or another,

continue forever.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: When The Heat’s In The Feet, Then The Street’s Not So Neat.

It’s hot here in Gutenberg Land.

As in

hot, hot, hot


Which is the sound feet make

when walking on melting tar,

hot, hot, hot,


all the while jumping large holes

made in the surfacing

by cars

trying to avoid the newly instituted

“park the sides of the street full,

and you get automatic slowed traffic.”


So the kids,

home from school,

can toss the neighbor’s cat in the tar,

which you have to pull out,

put it, in blanket and gym bag

in the tram,

“what on earth are you doing to that cat?”

as you  head,


to the vet.

Who charges you 92, 50 Euros  to clean the fur,

and call the hysterical neighbor that her cat is ok.

Which is,


the exact moment when you look at your feet.

And recognize

you are wearing special,

high duty,

hiking sandals,

specially molded through years of careful wear,

to exactly the perfect healthy support for—

about three pounds of tar,

which have slooowwwlllyyy

oozed into…

you get the picture.

After which, you leave above-mentioned cat for observance-

“we’ll send you the rest of the bill later…”

swallow the cat’s sedation yourself,

and try to remember what that fleeting picture was-

the one that has been buzzing right in front of your eyeballs for the last ten minute-,

accompanied by that bizarre whoosing tone you hear on the original Star Trek

as the Enterprize passes that Vulcan tar pit,

and the (still at that point evil) Klingons

fight them,

in an attempt to defend their captured Vulcan Tar Pit

decontamination baths.


That was it.


Full of turpentine

and Borax,

which we had to sit in each night

after coming home after school,

and playing on the next street over-

which was continuously,

to the intense dislike-

understanding, yes, but intense dislike,

of the local parents,

being tarred,

so that the ambulances,

in the hot, hot, hot


heat of the Illinois prairie,

didn’t get stuck

on their way to the hospital,

in the same stuff

the cat

got stuck in.

Now all I have to do is find some Borax.

Wasn’t it Ronald Reagan

raised on the Illinois Prairie,

broadcast journalist from the University of Illinois,

who used to sell the stuff?

I wonder if there’s still a backlog bag of it around somewhere?

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Sunday In The Land Of Celts And Teutonics

In a recent “And Gutenberg Lived Here” blog,

I talked about Sunday morning in the land of Celts and Teutonics.

We have a huge population of celtic ancestry here-

Stonehenge-like builders from way back,

(they were here before they went to GB or Ireland)

and the result on the populace is visible.

Those Gutenberger descended from Celts are small,

with a  slightly rounded head,

a body with approximately the figure of the Michelangelo David-

with clothes on,


but not nearly as often as in the US,

and a definite love of walking in the woods,

hugging trees,

and collecting,

or barbecuing,

anything that used to be an animal or a plant.

As opposed to the Teutonics,

who, with clothes on-

cord pants and hiking boots, usually nix on the shirt-

for males-

(the ones over sixty pull in their stomachs,

and carry a large walking stick)

as they:

walk through the woods,

hug trees,

and collect and barbecue anything that used to be an animal or a plant.

With the difference that the Teutonics are usually taller,

and often have a square jaw and a flat back to the head.

The rest of the country, are probably East Friesian, Bavarians, Turks,

or Japanese tourists.

So now that you know the teams,

what are their natural behavior patterns?

Germany, I hate to say it, is, at least in my opinion, after long years of living here,

still VERY much a class conscious society.

You can see it by the lifestyle.

A particular kind of car,

particular clothes,

and you know immediately where someone comes from

and what they do for a living.

(and they had better have the academic,

or workman-journeyman-master papers to prove it,

or the entire neighborhood goes up in arms.)

As opposed to the locals of St Louis,

where you can immediately learn everything about someone

just by asking where they went to high school.

If you can’t hear it in the accent.

St Louis, for those who don’t know it,

is the most western of the east, the most eastern of the west,

the most southern of the northerners, and northern of the southerners-

Each neighborhood with its own variation-

And has a huge collection of own foods, (cracker pizza and fish in corn meal)

clothes- short shorts with white knee-high socks, or “summer suits-”

for going to the “city”

and idioms “full as two ticks” “marching up like Cox’s army”

you get the picture.

Gutenberger, however, aren’t just quaint,

they are a historical tableau.

With legs.

Picture, for example,

the historical costume groups-

mostly the Pomeranians,

or Silesians,

who meet to dance the historical dances

they used to dance on the large estates,

like the old southern plantations

back in the days before WWII sent them to Gutenberg Land.

And if you really want to get an earful,

there are the historical brass groups-

horn instruments of wood,


zinc pommer,


etc etc.

Who play for the high masses.

In a cathedral staffed by Swiss guards,

in Vatican uniform with halberds.

And then there are the popular festivals-

the largest wine festivals in the world,

the “rock around the Loreley,”

or the “open ear festival,”

with stars like Bob Dylan.

Hey, before Dylan, it was the troubadours-

we have a long history of historic rock festivals.

The most popular, however,

are the nature festivals-

always organized by  a committee of the class of …

Who, for five years after that date,

organize the stealing.

and sawing through

of the neighboring village’s maypole

so they can’t put it up to announce their may dance.

Or the parties, where the young girls cook,

and pack picnic baskets that are auctioned off,

actually it is just buying a date with the girl,

and can get pretty sticky,

if the girl dislikes the boy who buys her basket,

or has baked syrup buns.

And then, of course,

there are the historic battles between the Catholics,

and the Lutheran “minority”

about fifty-seven percent at last count

said “minority” being the ones who demonstratively hang their bedding out the window,

after first shaking it over the heads of the 7 AM Catholic trombone choirs

who march through the streets

calling the locals to masses on the high holidays.

Since they, the Lutheran bedding shakers,

thought that they might get to actually sleep in until 9 that day.

Since their church starts at-

10, 10:30, 11.

Ah yes.


And then, of course,

there are the battles between the musicians

and the normal people.

“Fathers and mothers, bar your doors, musicians are in the city.”

And since music is supposedly the universal language…

Sorry. Not really.

I don’t know a lot of musicians, for example,

who like to sit with friends, invited over for a meal,

with music playing in the background.

Jacques Brell

(a huge favorite over here)

do not make me feel well.

And Bob Dylan

just ain’t  for chillin’

By which what I really mean is,

invite a musician over,

and he has two choices-

concentrating on you, and what you are saying,

or concentrating on the music lines-

unless the music is so bad you can’t,


at which point, said earful is usually so bad a musician has a tendency to laugh out loud.

Or get an ear ache.

Not really a good way to thank people for an invitation.

But still  not as bad as a friend of mine,

who conducts a large symphony over here,

and insists that anything that makes noise either plays at A-440 or stays off.

And since my pot lids are luckily in A 440, but my cabinet doors aren’t,

despite oiling them just before his visit,

we usually eat at his house and I bring potluck along.

(And try not to bring along things like green beans, that could squeak in the wrong key)

Although I have, definitely, heard some great music,

and gotten some real insight,

on one of these magical music junkets.

(And he even likes the Beatles-

just not Elenore Rigby-

the version where they sing flat with the London Symphony.

Still and all,

music, food, and friends.

Not a bad thing to do with a  Sunday night.

Which gives you just a bit of an idea,

what life is like here in Gutenberg Land,

From Saturday at one,

or at the latest two,

when the artisans, craftsmen, and guild members,

and shopkeepers, of course,

close their shops,

and everyone goes home to a thick pea soup,

or grabs a bratwurst out and then starts running errands,

then plays soccer, or does one of their hobbies-

flying, volunteer fire department, chicken raisers, glee club,

help out in the senior teams,

coach the little ones who will take over one day,

or just plain go fishing-

(with the fishing club. Who are conservationists. You don’t just drop in a line over here.)

Saturday night is for friends to come over,

or drinking in a pub, or movies.

At least in our experience.

Sunday, then, is the great sleep-in day.

With many churches not starting till 10 or 10`30,

or even, as a pastor once told me, 11,

since the older members of the congregation take longer to get ready,

and before 11 is too hard on them.

And also because our pastor is definitely a night person, but who is counting….

So that leaves us with the afternoon.

Oh glorious Sunday afternoon.

Started, by a lot of people,

with a drink,

the so-called early cup,

in the local pub,

and political discussions.

And political discussions,

And political discussions.

followed by mama’s

which men over here have an unfortunate tendency to call their wives-

Harold, so far hasn’t dared,

big roast carrot potato lunch,

or a big roast lunch in a carvery in restaurant row,

reservations three days ahead, please.

(Gutenberg Land has probably as many restaurants as the inner city of London,

with only 350,000 populace)

And after the feast, it is time for…

get ready…

the obligatory walk in the woods.

Where you hug trees,

and collect mushrooms to grill for supper,

or berries for the formal cake and coffee hour,

Maybe I’ll just pretend it’s Monday this week.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Art Imitates Life- Imitates Art- Imitates Life.

Thursday, Corpus Christi Day,

was a big holiday here in Gutenberg Land-

and any  of the other fifteen German states that are historically

and predominantly

Roman Catholic.

We faked the required barbecue,

and just nuked two ears of corn

and some haloumi cheese,

and ate on the balcony.

Followed by a quick round of

“have you got a computer that works, or is your stalker online too”

a short walk over the fields behind our house,

to get the cobwebs out,


after a rather major, and complicated, attempt to get downtown,

(it’s road tarring, tram track laying,

and block all roads due to street carnivals and marathon running

season here)…

we arrived at something we started working to get tickets to in January…

the National Theatre’s live to a few big city movie houses broadcast of

Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land”

a study of a brilliant and injured successful poet,

trying to drink himself into oblivion to forget life’s major injuries,

which are only anesthesizable in No Man’s Land,

an area of erudite verbal squabbling,

academic one-upmanship,

and, most important, always, always, keeping a distance.

Enter an unsuccessful poet,

but a very successful drunk,

who tries, with all means, to attach himself,

secretarily, and otherwise,

in the hope of getting money,

and prestige,

and, most importantly,

by constantly attacking his hero,

breaking down all barriers,

including the normal barriers of human decency,

so he can bask in,

and steal,

the greatness.

Unfortunately, there are two guardians,

also on for the ride,

who can tell quality from non-quality,

and help keep the distance.

Gee, what can I say-

it’s Pinter.

Brilliant, thought-provoking,


with a cast containing,

among others,

Sir Patrick Stewart,

and Sir Ian McKellen,

well worth the discomfort of a super-modern movie house

with seats so low you have to sit with your knees under your chin,

and breath through the smell of nachos and cheese,

(We were the only ones without)

And then, of course, there were the six,

count them six,

unsuccessful long-distance attempts to get tickets to see it live on stage.

Bon chance.

(The NT live broadcasts to the big city movie houses here are actually quite good.-

Just nachos instead of sherry, )

(And you don’t get the sweat and spit of working actors-

I know. I’ve sat in enough orchestra pits and house seats.)

So what then, bottom-linely speaking,

is the point.

Or do I mean the “land” scape?

I think the phrase I have heard more than once in the last few days,

but never as well spoken

and illustrated,

as here in “No Man’s Land,”

is Pinter’s stage three-

Stage One:  Aristotle- mimesis- “art imitates life”

Stage Two: Oscar Wilde-  anti-mimesis- “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

And now, Stage  Three: Pinter.

Art imitates Life imitates Art imitates Life.

And Stage Four?

Good poets borrow,

Great poets steal?

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: The Sigh Of The Corn

I miss the sigh of the corn a lot,

living over here in Gutenberg Land-

that soft sound when the summer is really far along,

the sky is soft blue,

the air is hot hot hot,

and, as you walk through the seven-foot stalks in the field,

there is just a tiny moment of wind,

a soft little gust

that makes the corn sigh.

A gentle rustling sound of the nearly dried leaves

that whispers

home, home, home…

There isn’t much corn here in Gutenberg Land.

The small amount that does grows here is

the small white-kernelled kind used for cow fodder.

The small amount being eaten,

on the cob only-

is blackened on a barbecue grill next to pork steaks,

and Houlumi,

a popular form of goat’s cheese that doesn’t melt when grilled.

Some time ago, though, I was in a concert out at Kloster Eberbach,

a gorgeous old Cistercian cloister

used in the filming of The Name of The Rose.

Arriving, you park your modern transport by the gate,

and walk.

Through an ancient solid wooden archway,

monstrous door protecting the inner sanctum of the religious buildings

from the wild animals

and, at the time it was built,

even wilder humans,

roaming the region.

And you walk.

Into the dark woods,

through a gorgeous mountain-surrounded meadow,

full of wild flowers,

then across a small plank bridge

over a bubbling rivulet of a stream,

peeping back at the deer,

and in this season, foxes,

peeping at you.

Then across a high ridge,

where you can look down on the beautiful old buildings,

gentle, quiet,

the only sound the small aerator in the carp and trout ponds,

some soon to be dinner when the crowds arrive for the evening’s baroque concert.

And you take a sip from your water bottle,

and listen.

To the cloister’s day breaking

And the deer,

making their way down to the little brook,

and the sighing of the wind

in the cloister’s formal gardens.



if you sit absolutely still,

and listen carefully,

and think the kind of thoughts you should always think

when given the great gift of a day like this,

in a place like this,

you will finally hear

the sigh of the corn.

copyright 2017

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Tech-Tock- You Are Collecting What…?

As I am writing this:

There are kids out on the soccer field near us,

fans of the local soccer team,

training to yell and stomp for each other,

and hopefully one day get a place either in the local pom-pom girls.

cheering for the pro team,

or drumming,

to heat up the crowd,

(more roar, more tickets in the fall)

Or stomping,

Practicing to one day activate the stomping panels,

they hope to soon install here,

to create electricity for the stadium lights.

And tv cameras.

And smart-phone chargers.

Which syphon off the extra energy people today now have,

since they aren’t usually working in the fields.

But while I am writing this,

a high-rise is burning in London,

a kindergarten has been destroyed in China,

injuring many small children,

and a group of congressmen has been shot at.

Unfortunately, from a supreme wacko from my home town.

(Which I left many years ago, as part of the go west young person movement.)

And the energy of tv cameras is going twenty-four hours per day,

reporting each tiny detail of shock.

And, as I am writing this,

my  husband asks me if I remember going to the British Museum,

and how surprised we were at the signs in the bathrooms,

that you should well,

and copiously,

use their facilities,

since they were collecting the refuse of the culture soaked,

(and courgette surprise casseroles filled)

to light and heat the museum.

And now, it appears,

there is a new invention,

featured on the BBC program Click,

a urinal,

that will collect the user’s urine,

and use it to power his smart phone-

for about an hour.

“Here, drink this water, Harold, I have to call my family.”

“A whole liter?”

“It’s long distance.”

Oh brave new world.

copyright 2017

The Case of The Arf-ful Dodgers: Who Do You Call- Lassie or Pywackit?

I was raised all my life with animals.

A grandfather, uncles, cousins,

all in the performing animal film industry-

over a hundred dogs, four horses, a few camels,

and a very famous cat-

no not the one who cha-chas backwards for cat chow.

Think more a severely Cumberbatch of a cat,

with a collar and bells.

And as to the owners-

they trained with love-


If an animal won’t do it for love,

and because it is in his nature,

you can neither beat nor feed him into it.

And if you put in enough time

and love

the animals will eventually build a pack-

a clan, as my family called it,

in which any of the dogs would do anything for the others.

Which I always thought was good advice when dealing with people.

The biggest thing I learned though,

was doggy nature.

And doggy humor.

Which I personally think is infinitely funnier than ours.

For dogs are actually smarter than we think.

They just hide it well.

Or do you think it isn’t planned when they uproot every plant in the house

and plant them in the garden.

And then put their toys in the pots.

Rawhide bone in the rose-bush pot,

Biscuits for begonias,

Fox, stuffed, for fuchsias,

and chew toys for calla lilies.

Oh, and then there are the socks, used and stolen from the washer,

under the settee.

And of course,

in order to survive with dogs-

the mathematical side of whose brain is larger than ours,

relatively speaking-

and who are much bigger thinkers-

like the often demonstrated concept

that if a dog shows that he can add numbers from one to a hundred,

he and his owner can get on the Late Night or Tonight show.

And then there is cogitation-

ever watch a dog choose just which person and which object to nudge

to get maximal attention,

because they are bored ?

But most of all,

of course,

animals act.

Fire dogs drag people from raging fires,

and family dogs,

pull their family members unconscious from flames.

And our Airedale, Mugg, was famous for picking up visiting,

and wandering off,


by their diapers,

and putting them back in the playpen set up for the purpose.

And then there are the psychic tricks.

Animals know when a storm is coming,

or earthquakes,

or a long winter,

with squirrel, moose, bear and deer

coming right up to the door.

And of course,


recently there is a huge jump in the number of explosive recognizing dogs.

In fact,

in most recent times,

quite a large number of dogs have developed  a very special ability,

to recognize dangerous weirdos on the streets.

Note:  If you see a dog stare at someone’s eyes,

and take off,


And finally,  in this age of people constantly on-line

and chasing Pokemons

or whatever,

we need the most special dogs of all,

in fact, the most special dogs ever trained-

like the guide dogs for the blind,

hearing dogs,

or the special dogs for the emotionally afraid.

A breed of dogs,


or in the case of the laboratory prototypes,


that will follow those in danger

and save them

from the consequences of their electronic addiction.

All hail-


the canine computer companion.

No computer should be  sold without one.

copyright 2017

Dragons’ Breath, Writers’ Breath, Save Your Breath.

What is it about breath that makes people so flip out they haven’t got any to spare?

If you look at the Chinese medicine 5 element system:  wood, fire, water, metal, earth,

add in the air

from Earth, Wind, and Fire,

and you get:

our body’s warmed-air-breathing plus blood circulation.




In, out, and around.

Use it up living.

Replace it.

First boil everything down to the basics,

and then do something about it.


And although I freely admit, I only follow the five elements when it to my advantage,

sorry to those of you who diligently care for your bodies

in the esoteric style,

I do have to concede that –

when you follow the 5 elements,

and all of the other Zone Diet, Air Force Diet, Low Carb,

eat only 2 bags of potato chip diets out there on the market-

well, maybe not the potato chip thing,

that would be irresponsible, right?

I do find myself feeling slightly more energetic.



you can just do a whole lot of breathing when you get up in the morning-

that’s dragon’s breath,

then sing somewhere for a couple of hours-

that’s celestial angels’ breath, thank you very much, or…

and here a quick pause for a footnote-

doctors over here actually send patients to singers like me,

it’s that or primal scream therapy-

or laugh yoga,

their choice, not mine,

to free the breathing apparatus,

circulate the blood,

raise the hormone level,

help with tumors-

yes, I am serious,


if you join an a capella choir,

increase your hearing and concentration.

(Not that I dislike instruments,

but after being knocked off a stage once

by sudden pounding from a set of tympani right behind me

during a performance of Handel’s Messiah…

yes it did happen,


yes, this is one of the things that happens when you breathe right.

So where were we-

oh yes,

dragon’s breath,

celestial breath,

writer’s breath-

that moment when you are living with your character,

breathing along with each breath she takes,

and discover that your heroine has a pulse,

as does each of your characters,

easily measurable with a metronome,

which can be set, for real,

to get you back to that tempo the next morning,

when you get up,

kill your dragon’s breath with meditation,

or prayer,

and black tea,

add in a little celestial  breath,

rockin’ to the beach boys is good, good, good,

and go for it-

Writer’s breath.

Metronome setting 110 mm for a conductor character of mine,

about 130 for a fast-movin’ teacher.

Oh, about the save your breath…

that’s for all the worthless computer stalkers out there.

I would be happy to give you therapy:

Just get a life.

And breathe for once.

copyright 2017