Dusting Frenzy.

Years and years ago, I saw a film with Goldie Hawn, she played some rich girl who, for some reason or another, had a complete blackout, total amnesia, and for some other reason, also unknown to me, partial amnesia on my side here, she winds up on Kurt Russell‘s houseboat, he’s poor of course, for contrast, and I think they fall in love, doesn‘t come as a surprise, does it, anyway, from this film, I remember but one scene, the one where she’s cleaning that houseboat, devotedly, thoroughly, deeply, leaving-out-nothingly, and then, as everything‘s finally spotless, she sits down on a couch – and bursts out into tears, total nervous breakdown. I can relate to that. Especially today. Today, the sun came out, out of nowhere, or the blue, but wherever it came from, it started shining ruthlessly, quite unforgivingly it focused on the dust that has been hiding completely undetected during these months of greyish skies, we‘re talking massive amounts of dust, but now, suddenly, it was out in the open for everyone to see, and thus confronted me, laughingly, feeling ever so secure, that dust knows all about my sloth, so, what are you going to do, it seemed to ask. But, ha! The joke‘s on you, as for once, I set procrastination aside and started hoovering immediately, and dusting, and tidying, and cleaning, even airing my duvet, only those windows still have to wait, just a little, as I haven‘t stopped crying yet…

The magic of Lake Lucerne.

Lake Lucerne, like any other lake, looks best in summer. Then, the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful, the clear, transparent water, there is no lake cleaner than in Switzerland, believe you me, I swam in it, it’s gorgeous, anyway, the high mountains, topped with snow, the lush trees that line its border, the figs, chestnuts, yuccas and cypresses, the intensely blue sky, insanely blue even, everything looks just majestic, as I said, in summer. In winter, it looks something like that, grey and shapeless, you might say, or quite bewitching, if you have a liking for anything mystic, romantic and enchanted, then it might be impossible to resist its allure, you’re facing a magic realm, by the way, are these old willows on the border or the Erl-Kings daughters? Don’t blame these streaks of fog, your sight is not deceived, you might find yourself entering a different world, out of touch, disconnected, ethereal spheres will take you in and never let you go, so beware, these cruising boats might never come back, leaving you behind in that gloomy place, you might want to change your plans and stay ashore, you will find some enchantment here too, just head for Hermès, the store is right there, just follow the voices coming through the withering leaves, we have many a golden robe for you …

An essay on Russia and winter.

When lighting one of my scented candles, I felt the need for some olfactory inspiration and thought tuberoses might do the trick, I took a look outside and couldn’t help but be startled by the chair on my fifth floor balcony, I’m only mentioning the storey because everything fifth has such a nice 5th Avenue sound, anyway, I was really puzzled by the chair’s colour, you see, I’m pretty sure that chair was red when I bought it last year, bright red, a vivid and joyful colour, contrasting the olive trees’ matte green, not of this strange non-colour that makes it look like it had been done with some leftover paint from the time when Russia’s economy was still a planned one, when colour pigments were still considered a despicable bourgeois extravaganza, but since red is so damn socialist a colour, they had to try anyway, and that colour on my chair is all they could achieve, poor bastards, but I seem to digress, anyway, it’s not Russia to be blamed here, communist Russia at that, one has to be reasonable, it’s winter, and more precisely so, it’s January, the month known for its days without daylight, January, the most rotten month of them all. I hate January. But as I am writing this, the candle does seem to fulfill its purpose, it’s setting me in a better mood already. I wonder if tuberoses were ever an issue in communist Russia, survival-wise, I mean.

A hundred tulips, please.

You can’t have enough tulips, believe you me, you simply can’t. Even when your favourite vase refuses to take them all, just put the rest in some other vase, in some other room. My favourite vase, for instance, looks best with about 24 tulips. The only alternative to tulips, by the way, are peonies. Once, I stuffed that vase with so many peonies, I almost went bankrupt, peonies in Switzerland are absurdly expensive, in Zurich at that, the Swiss town considered quite expensive even by the Swiss themselves, admittedly, by Swiss from places less posh than Zurich, let’s say, Uri or Wallis, you know, the cantons with more cows than people, anyway, it was the best bouquet ever, I had added more and more peonies, every time I left the house, I came back with more peonies, they were sold in packs of three for 19,90 Swiss francs, just until the vase would burst, leaving almost no place for water, anyway, bankrupt or not, more is definitely more, as far as flowers are concerned, and then you just have to wait for the best, the moment when they slowly fade away, their withered allure is so very Marguerite Gautier, coughing her beautiful spirit into some lace lined damask before she disappears, leaving nothing behind but blood stains on her handkerchief.

It’s a bird‘s world.

The Bible, which I have never been too fond of, says birds don’t put seeds in the earth, which, pardon my bursting out into laughter, is so completely wrong, it’s such utter nonsense, as of course they do, this is how trees and stuff spread, anyway, although they don’t get in any grain and put it in any store-houses, the Bible is right about that at least, I appreciate their being around and that they are being fed by our Father – or, more accurately, by my mother. You cannot imagine the amounts of seeds, big and small, my mother is giving them, some of it is also enjoyed by our squirrel population, regardless of the walnuts these guys are given twice a day, the good ones at that, the French ones from Grenoble, our grocer had run out of the cheap ones from California, so they might never suffer from hunger or any kind of starvation-inflicted deficiency, anyway, growing up with such a love for birds, I just had to buy this Hermès scarf when it came out some years ago, the Zurich store had Le bal des oiseaux on display in their windows, couldn’t resist, it‘s not the manliest print of them all, but hey, the title is really fitting, as that’s what birds are having on a daily basis, a ball.

The church of a thousand styles.

It’s a mess, a complete architectural mess, an eclectic monstrosity, Potsdam’s Church of Peace evokes everything at the same time, it features the Italian Renaissance, as well as Roman columns, Greek temples, Russian icons, Venetian mosaics, a miniature baroque mausoleum, a Tuscan campanile, Romanesque ornaments, a Tyrolean chapel, and a particular Tyrolean chapel at that, the one that recreates a chapel from Calvary outside Jerusalem, a replica’s replica, so to speak, there are sculptures of all kind of kings, namely Solomon, David and Charlemagne, and there’s Moses, Aaron and Hur, too, the only thing it doesn’t feature is anything remotely contemporary, the Prussian architects of the mid 1800s who were involved in erecting this absurd ensemble must have had no clue of what they were doing when planning a place for all those sarcophagi of the Prussian kings and emperors and their spouses, but at least the result is so grotesque, it’s definitely worth a visit, by the way, there’s a daughter of Queen Victoria buried here, too, called Victoria as well, married to Friedrich III, and although Germany and Great-Britain are one big family, at least as their Royal families are concerned, she wasn’t very influential, otherwise this compound would feature some stunning oriental references, too, her mother was Empress of India, wasn’t she?

Potsdam revisited.

Blend out what you dislike, that would be my general advice in life, and in particular when visiting Potsdam. The city is over a thousand years old, but mostly known for its glorious ornaments ever since it became a royal seat, the palaces and follies of the Prussian kings, prestigious buildings, carefully designed for entertainment, pleasure and recreation, to praise God, too, of course, the Protestant way, a little less pompous than Roman Catholics, but really just a little, Luther’s influence stopped when architecture was concerned, and guys like Karl Friedrich Schinkel took over, and there are plenty more of fine buildings to house soldiers, horses and plants. It’s all still there, at least most of it, but something else survived, too: the architectural crimes of the GDR, some newly invented iconoclasm, instead of destructing the monuments of Germany’s royal past, they just surrounded them with their derefined vision of socialist housing, let’s get rid of that stylish nonsense, let’s disparage all architectural styles, let’s baste Potsdam with concrete and glass and show them what it means to be equal, pardon my temper, but this is what you have to blend out when visiting Potsdam – unless you care for historically correct polar opposites, of course.