Mary’s cultural holidays


You stop me in the street, at church and Kroger, even at Curves, and tell me what you like about this column, in no particular order:
One favorite subject is our daughter Mary describing her life as a pianist at the Duesseldorf Opera:

Mary speaks: My neighbor [whom I named Heinrich] never got any further than the grass and circle of bushes that you saw. The remains of a long firecracker lay there for two months. I could never figure out why it took someone until March to remove it.

We are on our way back from Berlin. The Verdi Requiem in the Philharmonie was very good, and was packed for the third and last performance. But I suppose the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra always has a full house.

My predecessor, an American girl who must be quite good, since she got a job in Dresden which she left because she didn’t get along with the head coach, Ms. Wee. I’m waiting it out because she retires after next year. She has “dinner dates” with her boyfriend over Skype. I assume he’s in America. That’s a little weird, but if it helps….

Am taking French lessons again with a singer in Dusseldorf. Turns out she went to both high school and college in France, and got a degree for teaching (German for foreigners). And she wants to trade off and have me coach her, instead of paying.

There is a little Amnesty office near the ugly church near my Dusseldorf apartment. So I went to an information evening last night. Surprisingly enough, regular people form groups and choose the project they want to work on: writing letters for political prisoners, petitions, going into schools, church services, helping refugees, etc. One group is occupied with West Africa and Iraq, and says French is a great advantage, so I guess I’m destined to learn it.

Omega 3 fish oil is good not only for better cholesterol and tryglicerides levels, it also is supposed to help with depression and Alzheimer’s, among other things. So eat salmon and sardines, or buy supplements. They should be of fish, salmon best, and of good quality, because of mercury poisoning. A caveat: People who take blood thinners should ask a doctor before taking over about 1000 mg a day.

Finally found the last version of the CD I made. Am going to try to put together another one, this time chamber music or songs.

We had a nice meal on the 31st [New Year’s Eve], although it was better and more fun in Strasbourg [France] (last year.) Then there was time to go home and change and head out with the rest of the world to the Knee Bridge [over the Rhine] to look at fireworks. Several barges came through, and several sightseeing boats that didn’t really go anywhere.

Colorful fireworks 360°. Rainer took some pictures but noticed at some point that the bridge was swaying slightly, which made him uneasy. I was more uneasy from drunken people setting off fireworks next to us…Plus the wind was pretty icy, and then it started to snow. Today I’m back in Dusseldorf for Magic Flute. I walked halfway home. Heinrich Heine’s big fractured head [huge sculpture in a small park] looks interesting with snow and lighting, and the TV tower clock is very colorful.

Hoping to go to Mannheim tomorrow for a Johann Christian Bach opera, with an Alexander the Great exhibition in Mannheim and Boticelli in Frankfurt on the way…

Nasty weather.

I made Rainer spend the night in Dusseldorf, and he finally put up a better light in the “living” room. We had to get something for the bore machine [hand drill] and charge up his screwdriver, so I dragged him despite the light rain to a pretty church and square out in the suburbs, where we ate at an Italian store/bistro. Tried a rolled mozzarella-rucola-dried tomato thing. Yummy…

We [the opera company] brought out a 10th run of Hansel und Gretel. Seventies’ kitch, but nice enough. The 4-year-old daughter of Ralf the conductor got to go on stage in the break and look at the witch’s gingerbread house…

The Peachtree City book arrived yesterday. Thanks. It looked like maybe Customs opened it.

A little rainy and windy in the morning, and it snowed from 5 ’til we left at 7; my feet got pretty wet. Walked through the Jewish Memorial. I found it quite interesting. Just slabs of grey stone on end almost like tombstones, with narrow paths between, but what you don’t really notice from the side is that the level drops, so the slabs on the outside are knee high, and in the middle 12 feet, creating a labyrinth.

Then we went to a huge museum, with paintings from about 1450 to 1600. Brueghel, Raffael, Rubens, Rembrandt, but also Botticelli, Titian, etc. After a couple of hours, we were running through rooms. If it weren’t so cold and grey, I think we would go back there before Easter, there’s so much to see and hear. East Berlin is coming along, and the Museum Island (with canals around) has several fine galleries that have reopened since I was last there. Still, there is enough to do.

Spiegel online has an interesting set of pictures for 2009, also in the section in English. One I liked is of Hassidic Jews during some ancient ceremony where they all look like they’re about to fall asleep….

Essen is a European Cultural Capitol for 2010, kind of taking in the whole Ruhr Valley. They are opening on the weekend with an outdoor concert. And there’s supposed to be heavy snowfall, and even without that, it’s still cold. Hagen, where I started working at an opera house, is supposed to shut down (orchestra, ballet and opera) in five years, and here they are dumping money into an outdoor project in January….