Archive | February, 2012

A Story set in the Year 2017

29 Feb

Uta in a Hostel in 2017
(An imaginary Story)

Uta awoke at five o’clock in the morning. She sat down at her computer intending to write a bit more about her life. She reflected it had been some time since she had written anything. She wondered why she found it so difficult to get into the mood for writing.
When her husband was still sleeping next to her, she would sometimes sneak away early in the morning to do some work at the computer. Quite often he would wake up soon after and come looking for her. Finding her, he would say in an irritated voice: ‘What do you have to get up this early for?’ More often then not she then went back to bed with him.
Uta thought she should enjoy writing early in the morning since she could do it now without having to worry about interruptions. Instead she thought back to when her husband was still alive. How they always found time to talk about a lot of things. When he read an interesting book, he would tell her all about it. She would do the same, if something that she had been reading, had fascinated her.
Who was there to discuss things with now, she thought to herself as she looked at his photo, that stood in front of her on the table. Uta lived with another forty people in a hostel. She was friendly with a lot of them. But none of them had the same interests that she had. Most of the TV programs they watched, did not interest her. And none of the residents would take an interest in the books that she read.
Today was Wednesday. This meant Martha was to come visiting her. As always they were to play Scrabble. They both loved to play this game. Uta was going to tell Martha about Lily Brett’s novel, that she had just finished reading. It was called: ‘You gotta have Balls!’ Uta knew that Martha had read the book already. So they would discuss it together. Uta thought it was good, to be able to talk with someone about a book she had enjoyed reading very much. Martha usually arrived at the hostel around nine o’clock and stayed with Uta till lunch.
Reflecting on all the residents, Uta thought, it was such a pity, that she did not have more in common with them. Uta still loved to talk to all of them. But it was mostly small-talk. And it was mostly about the newest sickness that one or the other resident had come up with.
Uta was eighty-two years old. There were a lot of residents younger than her. However their interest in life was extremely limited. This was so sad. A lot of the residents liked to talk about the past, about the families they had had; they constantly complained that these days they had seldom any visitors. There were even some residents who never did get any family visiting them!
People were so grateful when you sat down and listened to them for a while. Often they responded with a lovely smile, being happy someone showed an interest in what they wanted to talk about. Uta was very fond of all these people who would respond with a smile. It warmed her heart. She was so happy, that most of the residents seemed to like her. Even the few really grumpy residents seemed to like her a bit. These grumpy residents could not help being grumpy, she thought.
Uta contemplated how lucky she was, to live in a comfortable room with her own toilet facilities. She also had her own TV set, radio and of course her computer. To reach the dining-room, she had to walk down a long passageway to a connecting building. All meals were served in the dining-room.
Not far from Uta’s room was a large lounge-room.The hostel was situated at the top of a hill. This East facing lounge-room had magnificent large windows. With the morning sun coming in, you could see all the way to the Pacific ocean. Plenty of comfortable big chairs were placed around the room. There were also a number of tables with four smaller chairs to each table. Uta and Martha usually played Scrabble sitting at one of these tables. To finish three games of Scrabble took them only about two hours. Around ten o’clock they had a tea-break. Uta loved to make cups of tea in the little kitchen adjoining the lounge-room. The staff served tea at the other end of the hostel in the comfortable room next to the dining-room. Sometimes Uta went down there for her morning tea.
There were laundry rooms in two different parts of the hostel with a number of washing machines and dryers. Uta felt fortunate, that she was still able to do her own washing. But she knew, if she was struck by a sickness, the staff would willingly do the washing for her. She never had to do her bedlinen. That was seen to by the hostel staff. The hostel also provided cleaning personal to clean all the rooms. Uta’s room would usually be cleaned Tuesdays.
A lot of the residents did not like the food that was being served at the hostel. They complained day in day out how horrible the food was. Uta thought to herself it was splendid that three cooked meals were being served every day. She usually did eat everything that was served, except for the meat, because she did not like to eat a lot of meat; never had liked it.
Uta looked at the clock and saw it was already past seven o’clock. So she had missed the seven o’clock news on TV. Instead of the TV she turned on the radio: ABC Classic FM. The room was bathed in some exquisitely soothing music. She loved this music. Taking another look at Peter’s photo, she was reminded, how much Peter had loved music like this.
Slowly, Uta got ready to get showered and dressed . She had not written anything, instead she had spent the time just thinking about her life. At ten to eight she arrived at the dining-room. Breakfast was to be served at eight.

Two Photos of Eva 1990 and 2000

29 Feb

The first photo was probably taken shortly after Eva moved into the hostel.

The second photo was taken by a waitress who offered to take our photo while we were waiting for our coffee.
Eva is in the photo 88 and I am 65.

My Friend Eva

29 Feb

My Friend Eva

I did get to know her when I was forty and Eva was sixty-three. She died thirty years later. I was able to keep in touch with her right to the end. When Eva was nearly eighty, she moved to a hostel. Before that she had lived at home with her estranged husband and had frequent bouts of depression. She had wanted to separate from her husband for a long time. Her husband didn’t want to let her go. He also prevented her from getting an age pension. For years and years she was stranded not being able to buy anything for herself.

Finally, through the intervention of a caring social worker, she was able to get her age pension. Another caring person, namely a Catholic sister, who lived in the neighborhood, saw to it that she could move into the hostel. She was nearly eighty at the time.

For many years I visited Eva in her home. Whenever I visited we played several games of Scrabble. Even when Eva was in a depressive state, she always loved to play Scrabble! Once she had some pension money, she developed an interest in shopping again. When I took her out for a bit of shopping, she also liked to have a cup of coffee with me in a shopping center. Sometimes I took her to my place for some games of Scrabble and to have lunch with me and Peter.

After having moved to the hostel, Eva liked to be taken for visits to a hairdresser. She also started choosing with great care what to wear for the day. It was really important to her to look good! Sometimes I took her with me to visit some friends of mine. They were all fond of Eva. I was her confidante. I think I was probably the only person she liked to open up to. I saw her only about once a week or once a fortnight. She always liked to spend a few minutes to let me know what had been going on with her since I last saw her. She also never forgot to inquire about me and my family.

The hostel provided for outings in their community bus. In the beginning Eva had been keen on going to all these outings. However, as she got older she lost interest in it. There came a time when she just didn’t want to go out anymore. Even with me she wanted to go out less and less. She still liked playing Scrabble though whenever I visited her. I think it was when Eva was about ninety when she started losing interest in playing Scrabble. However right to the end she was always looking forward to my visits.

Eva died in 2005. I was seventy at the time. In 2007 I wrote an imaaginary story about my being in a hostel as an eighty-two year old. In five years from now I will be eighty-two! Hopefully my husband is still going to be alive by then and I won’t have the need for a place in a hostel. But what if? I plan on publishing this imaginary story that I wrote five years ago. I also have some photos of Eva. Maybe a couple of these I can soon publish as well.

CHRISTMAS EVE 1946

26 Feb

Uta and her brothers are already in the big living-room. All the candles on the large Christmastree have been lit and the children are about to look at all the Christmas gifts which are spread out on the festively decorated tables. The doorbell rings. Probably Uncle Peter, this is what everyone thinks.
Elsa opens the front door. It’s not Uncle Peter, she’s facing. No, not Uncle Peter, but Oleg. Yes, Oleg of all people stands there with a big smile on his face. Elsa is shocked.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” comes Oleg’s voice. Elsa doesn’t know how to react. Here are Charlotte and Grandma coming to the door. It doesn’t take them long before they shout in unison: “You are not coming in here! You are not coming in here.” And then Charlote screams at the top of her voice: “Who do you think you are to come here uninvited disturbing our peace? Get lost quickly before the children get wind of the whole situation.”
Oleg does not believe he is hearing right. “What, you want to deny me to spend Christmas with my children? What kind of a plot is this?” he says. The women soon realise Oleg is not willing to leave. Grandma starts pushing Oleg to make him respond to their demands. Charlotte and Elsa join in the pushing. Grandma goes as far as hitting Oleg with her fists. At this moment Uncle Peter comes up the stairs. He cannot believe his eyes, what he is seeing. There in front of the entrance door stands Alexander in shabby clothes, two shabby suitcases right beside him, and all three women having a go at the poor guy.
Peter calls out to the women to stop it immediately and enquires of Oleg, what is going on. The women do not want to let Oleg talk, but Peter calms them down with just a few words. He says, they should let Alexander explain the situation. After a bit of talking with Alexander Peter suggests he may stay with him and Elsa until Charlotte has calmed down. Alexander agrees reluctantly. He stresses how much he had been looking forward to see his children! So Peter assures Alexander that he can see the children tomorrow.
Elsa and Peter leave with Alexander. They only have to cross the road to take Alexander up to their apartment. Charlotte and Grandma turn to continue with Christmas Eve celebrations. Cousin Renate and the children are concerned. “I heard Dad’s voice,” says Uta. “Why isn’t he allowed to come in?”
Mum says: “Let’s forget the disruption. After all, it’s Christmas Eve tonight. We do not want our Christmas celebrations getting spoiled.”
Hearing this, Uta fears for everyone, especially for her brother Bodo, who is so sensitive. And she fears for her father. Not being allowed to see his children on Christmas Eve, might really bring him down. She fears for herself. How is she going to cope with celebrating under such circumstances? She feels, that Christmas Eve is only there to make people feel miserable. What enjoyment is there in Christmas gifts, when you are not even allowed to see your dad? she thinks. She’s quite sure this is going to be the most miserable Christmas ever.
The following day Charlotte refuses to see her husband. However the children are allowed to see their Dad the next morning at Aunty Elsa’s place. Uta feels to finally be allowed to see her Dad is the very best Christmas gift!

A Short Story

26 Feb

My Aunty got off the boat and hugged me. She said, she was to give me money for staying at my place. I said that I did not want any money. But she insisted that I had to take the money. To me this was very embarrassing.

And then I stood in the Mall and watched as dozens of shoppers came out of the Two-Dollar-Shop with packets of rubber bands in their hands. I thought to myself, if this goes on, the sale of rubber bands was about to quadruple in Dapto.

When Hubby came towards me, he gave me a great big chocolate Easter Bunny as a gift. It was not, what I had expected, thinking that it was Valentine’s Day today. Holding the Easter Bunny I opened the door and stepped back. There she was again, my Aunty who had just got off the boat. Waving a bunch of banknotes in her hand, she said: “Here take it! Take it! They’re for you!”

I couldn’t believe it that she still wanted to give me money. I thought to myself, may the Lord have mercy on me, but I cannot take this money. It’s not the money, it’s the principle of the thing. Why doesn’t Aunty understand this?

In desperation I woke up and remembered that Aunty had died ages ago. She never did come on that boat to visit me. It was just a dream.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2010

19 Feb

Peter and I are looking forward to visit Mecklenburg-Vorpommern again this year. Last time we were there in 2010 we took lots of pictures. It is an area a bit north of Berlin and stretches right to the Baltic Sea. Not many people live there. There’s a lot of wooded area, lakes, creeks and canals. On these waterways you can travel to Berlin or up north to the open sea.

My brother lives in this area with his wife. So during our trip later in the year we’re going to visit them again. I’m sure we going to love it the same as last time. Fpr most of the time we’ll be staying in Berlin though. I’m sure I’ll be able to blog many interesting pictures from Berlin as well.

Today I just want to blog a few of our landscape pictures. Watch out there are plenty more to come some other day!

Uta’s Birthday 1940

19 Feb

In 1940 I turned six, brother Bodo was a cute two. I was allowed to invite all my friends to a birthday party, boys and girls. I was so fond of all of them. The older girls were both ten. One is my cousin Sigrid, the other my friend Sieglinde. I think Sieglinde’s brother, who is also in the picture, is only eight. The younger girl with the huge bow on top of her head is five year old Eva. (I mentioned her a lot in my blogs.) Apart from little Bodo there are adorable Jürgen and very friendly Heinz in the picture, who both lived in the same building where we lived. There was a huge chestnut-tree opposite, which still stands now. It grew a lot more over the years. I believe it is about as high as the surrounding five story houses!

In the photos we are gathered under this tree and also in front of one of the sides of our house. Tante Ilse’s gift to me for my birthday were two Käthe-Kruse-Puppen, a boy and a girl. Of course they had to be in the pictures too. And of course Mum took all the photos which she always did on our birthdays.

About two years later during summer we had a dressing up party. Mum took a picture of us on Tante Ilse’s balcony. I think my brother Bodo looks lovely in the picture dressed up in long pants. I wear one of Mum’s dresses. Friend Eva is in the centre of the picture. The lovely young lady in the long dress is my sixteen year old cousin Renata. My friend Sieglinde on the right side is twelve and friend Inge with the blond hair probably ten. I think I wouldn’t have remembered the dressing up party if I hadn’t this picture. Pictures like these are truly a great memory boost!

My visit to Paris in 1954

15 Feb

I found in one of my old photo albums several photos from my visit to Paris in 1954. The guy with the hat is twenty year old Bubie. I mentioned him in my previous blog. The guy with me in front of the Eiffel Tower is one of the busdrivers (the older one). The French tour-guide you can see in the street picture with the METRO sign in it. He wears a coat. The one in the jacket is the younger busdriver.

In the group picture I am right at the back beside Bubie.

Berlin – Paris Return

15 Feb

Memories from EASTER 1954.
I was nineteen and a half!

Mum belonged to a theatre subscription group. The members were mainly elderly. For Easter 1954 this group had organised a bus-tour to Paris. Mum did not want to go and asked me, could I go instead. I agreed.

The distance Berlin – Paris is about the same as Sydney – Melbourne. However we did not drive straight through to Paris but had an overnight stop on the way, even though there were two busdrivers. On the way back, which was Easter Monday, the busdrivers had to go straight through, arriving in Berlin late at night.

The Paris accomodation for two nights was at Montmartre. I had to share the room with three elderly ladies. Not only that, I had to share a double bed with one of the women! The organisers apologised because of this. For the following night they had found another room for me: I was shifted to a different hotel to share a twin bedroom with our travel-hostess from Berlin who was an attractive woman in her twenties.

During the day a young French guide had shown us around. There was also a young woman who acted as interpreter. I saw a lot of Paris in the company of the two French guides and our two busdrivers.On top of this there was a young man from Berlin who had come on the bus with us. We called him ‘Bubie’. He was twenty and about to be apprenticed with a company in London. So he was quite an interesting young guy. However, I thought he was a bit full of himself. Typical of me to be so critical! In Paris and on the bus though he was good company for me. The old people soon started making comments such as: ‘Oh, quite soon an engagement might be taking place.’

On the night when I was supposed to share the room with our young tour-guide from Berlin, we had all been out dancing until the early morning hours. When I arrived at the door to my room, the door was locked. I knocked and knocked. Nobody opened. One of the busdrivers, who had been out with all of us, suggested to come to the busdrivers’ room which happened to be in the same hotel. I said this was out of the question. I wanted to be let into my room!! Busdriver-boy said: ‘She may have somebody with her in the room!’ I said I didn’t care if she had a lover-boy in there or not. I wanted to get into my bed!! After more and more knocking and a long, long wait in front of the room the door opened. Yes, indeed a lover-boy had been in the room with my room-mate. Lover-boy disappeared then. I was finally let into the room and into my untouched bed.

As a matter of fact only one of the busdrivers had been out dancing with our party. The other, a bit older one, had dutifully gone to bed quite early and was fit the next morning for the long busdrive back to Berlin. He wouldn’t let the younger one drive much. He must have been under the impression that the guy hadn’t had enough rest and was feeling rather tired!

Karl, my friend, had remembered the day and time when I would arrive back in Berlin. It was after 10 pm and he was waiting at the bus-stop with his bike ready to take me home. My little suitcase fitted on the back of his bike. I fitted at the front. Off we went. He was a smoker. The best thing he could think of to give me before we parted was one of his cigarettes. This was when we were not in front of my house but just around the corner. I smoked a bit of the cigarette telling him that I had had a good time in Paris. Then I left him. He had been surprised that my mum had not thought of meeting me at the bus-stop. As it turned out, Mum was not even there when I arrived home: She was at her friend’s place. I went back to work the following morning.

When I was Fourteen

15 Feb

Das Mädchen mit der schönen Figur
(The Girl with the Beautiful Figure)

Mum liked to see the woman doctor who had her consulting rooms a few blocks down the road from where we lived. The woman doctor was always duely concerned about Mum’s heart condition. Mum used to praise her a lot for saying kind words to her whenever she visited. Naturally Frau Doktor would prescribe the right kind of medicine too. In other words she was a very praiseworthy doctor. Her waiting room was never short of patients.

Once Mum sent me to see Frau Doktor. I think it had something to do with my irregular periods. The doctor’s sister lived with the doctor on the premises. She was the one who always received the patients. She liked to talk and was friendly with everyone.

While I was waiting my turn, the doctor’s sister started to talk to me. It did not take her long before she told me, that she had been watching me walking along the street. She said I had caught her eye because of my very erect posture. She also mentioned that she always thought of me as ‘The Girl with the Beautiful Figure’. Was I, a fourteen year old, embarrassed by all this talk? – - -
My word I was!

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