It’s been a while, hasn’t it. More than three months, to be precise. Steve and My Man and I went to Europe at the end of February for another family-event-with-stopover-in-London-on-the-way. While we were there, Covid-19 started ramping up, which did spoil the fun a bit, so when we came home in early March, we hunkered down with the family and pretty much stayed put.
I’ve been spending a lot of time ever since making things. Getting my hands into clay and garden dirt and bread dough (not all at once, silly! I do wash my hands in between) helps my soul stay grounded and cope with this very, very strange and disconcerting time.
Here’s a few pictures:
And now it’s almost summer; the garden is growing and so are the dust bunnies in the corners of the house; I’ve almost run out of good clay and need to reconstitute the dried-up stuff I’ve been saving up for several years; I’m part-way through editing a novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo a few years ago; and Steve is telling me I ought to get back to writing some stories with bears in them (he’s a stuffed animal of a one-track-mind).
So now you know. How’s things been with you?
Life, the Universe, and Coping in the Time of Covid-19. Making things helps.
Yes, I know. It’s been a while since I put up a proper post. It’s been such a busy spring and summer, with all those summery things like harvest, and trying to keep up with the garden (I didn’t), and food processing, and several major family events/travel opportunities. (As I said on Twitter a while back: while having your family living a long ways away can be a pain in the rear, visiting them does make for good #amtravelling occasions).
I’ve been back home for almost a month now, but it took me several weeks to feel I’d “arrived home” again. I landed, and hit the ground running – well, stumbling-staggering-falling-on-my-nose, more like. But eventually, I got caught up on the jobs that were waiting for me, processed another couple of boxes of peaches (and fended off the clouds of fruit flies that inevitably moved in with them), did a massive grocery run to refill the depleted freezer, wrote a new chapter of my latest WIP for my critique group, and so on and so forth – in short, sort of settled back into normal life, whatever that means.
But it’s been a lovely summer – so many great memories. If you’re connected with me on social media (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook), you’ll have seen some of the pictures of our adventures (yes, Steve was there all along, too). I just got the newsletter from the Globe Theatre in London – yes, “Shakespeare’s Globe” – and in my mind I was right back there, standing in the yard with the other groundlings, watching Pericles…
In fact, we went to the Globe twice, the Travelling-Companion-Offspring and I, on our three-day stop in London on our way to the aforementioned family event. We’d met with my friend Helen Jones – you know, the writer! – and had lunch at a pub just a few steps over from the Globe. Then we traipsed through the pouring rain over to the afternoon performance of A Comedy of Errors. When we booked the tickets before our trip, I was being wimpy and didn’t think I wanted to stand on my feet for two hours, watching the show. So we’d shelled out big £££ for the privilege of having seats, under cover, while the groundlings (standing-room tickets) in the open yard had the rain dumping down on them (many of them had on cheap rain ponchos from the gift shop that said things like “Hey, Ho, the wind and the rain” on the back). It was a wonderful performance. There’s something to be said for watching Shakespeare the way it was meant to be played, on a stage jutting out into the open yard, no curtain, no fancy scene backdrops – just the actors doing their thing, and doing it so very well indeed.
Then the next day, I got to hang out with my wonderful friend Louise (E. L.) Bates, who came up from Cambridge for the day. We went to the Victoria & Albert Museum; then had a lovely tea, with scones and everything, in a tea room across from the British Museum; then on our way back to King’s Cross Station took a detour and found Bloomsbury Publishing (which took a bit of hunting, as their premises don’t look any different from any of the other houses in the square), and took selfies in front of their door. Yeah, well, writers, you know. No, we don’t fancy ourselves J. K. Rowling, but hey, we had fun. (Louise being from the States originally, and me from Canada, we tend to spend a lot of time going “We can’t believe we’re doing this! In London! Eeep!”)
I dropped off Louise at King’s Cross, and met up with the Offspring again, and we looked at each other and said, “Should we go back to the Globe?” The groundling tickets only cost £5… So, yes, we went back. The tube train we went on got stuck (some accident on the line), so we pulled up Google Maps on our phones and figured out what other route to take (the Circle Line, getting out at Southwark), and we arrived at the Globe ten minutes after the performance had already started – but it didn’t matter. We paid our £5, snuck in the side door, and stood under the warm, darkening summer sky not ten feet away from the edge of the stage, letting the company take us away to Tyre and Tarsus and Pentapolis… I forgot about my aching feet, forgot about the sandwich I had in my backpack (there hadn’t been time to eat supper before the show), forgot about being jet-lagged and exhausted. This 400-year-old play, in a replica of a 400-year-old theatre, has as much power to move as it did when it was first written and performed.
The next day we went to see Buckingham Palace, just because I wanted to be able to say I’ve seen it. Okay, now I’ve seen it. It’s BIG (bigger than it looks in books and TV shows), and the crowds of tourists milling around in front of it were very touristy. Well, rocks and glass houses, dontcha know, so, enough about that.
And then it was already time to head out to Gatwick Airport for the next phase of our journey, which involved family, and friends, and cake and bread and cheese and meat and Sauerkraut and shopping and cider and scrubbing bathroom tiles and riding a tandem bike around Munich and celebrating and conversations and coffee and cooking and… In short, all those things that a family visit usually entails.
And after three weeks of that, back on the plane, and a head-first dive back into our everyday Canadian lives…
SCENE: Western Canada, a living room.
AMO, sitting on couch with laptop computer. Enter stage left, STEVE, a small stuffed bear.
STEVE: Why dost thou waffle on incessantly?
AMO: ‘Tis needful, small and fluffy animal.
Yon readers, waiting there with bated breath
For great effusions of my warbling wit
These many moons have been deprived.
STEVE: Oh, whatever.
Yeah, I don’t think the Bard had to contend with a Steve in his life. But the bear has a point – I think this is enough for now. So here’s me, exit stage left, pursued by a bear.
Life, the Universe, and a Summer full of Living and Travels and Shakespeare. All the world’s a stage…
I’m on a few weeks’ family visit in The Old Country (hence the long radio silence). Here, for your delectation, is a random and interesting little thing I noticed while stopping in at the Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church) in Stuttgart for a break during a shopping trip the other day: Chainstocking Feet.
This guy is one of a profusion of Eberhards and Ulrichs, Dukes of Württemberg, pictured along the side of the choir. The sculptures are from the late 16th century, but I assume the depiction of medieval armour is reasonably accurate.
Some of the others have plate-armour shoes, but this guy (he’s an Eberhard; to be precise, Eberhard I the Illustrious, 1265-1325) and his immediate neighbours have chainmail stockings all the way to their toes. I guess they wouldn’t have been much good on foot.
Also, the lions they’re standing on look thoroughly unimpressed. I guess having a dude in full armour planted on your head doesn’t feel all that great, whether they’re wearing steel shoes or chainstockings.
In brief, that’s Life, the Universe, and Travel Time. Keep your chainstockings dry!
So this happened today:
“Hey, Angelika! Congratulations on being a runner-up in the WritersDomain travel writing contest!”
Eeeep, I got a win in another contest!! My winning piece, a 1000-word travel writing story, tells about the Schillerplatz, a plaza in Stuttgart in South-West Germany.
Take a look at the first few lines, and then read the rest of it here!
“Schillerplatz” by Angelika M. Offenwanger
The last time I saw Schiller, they had put him in a box. Oh, no, not the kind that leaves you six feet under. This one was a skeleton of scaffolding neatly surrounding Herr von Schiller as he stood in all his brazen glory in the square next to the Stiftskirche in Stuttgart. The glory had accumulated too much verdigris and needed a cleaning.
I was disappointed not to be able to see the statue. Obligingly, however, one side of the box had been covered with a giant billboard-like photograph of the statue, so that by standing in the right spot and pointing the camera just so, one could get the illusion of having taken a picture of the Schiller statue in front of the Prinzenbau after all. The only problem was that the billboard photo showed a bright blue sky, whereas on the day we visited the skies were overcast; the illusion in my photo is imperfect.
But in a way, this is in keeping with the rest of the Schillerplatz, where the bronze statue stands surrounded by buildings that seem fantastically ancient. The Old Palace, massive with thick round ivy-covered towers, dates from the Renaissance. The Stiftskirche with its mis-matched spires, the symbol of Stuttgart, has parts going back to the twelfth century. The Fruchtkasten next to it has a magnificent gable that was added in 1596. Or rather, it once had a gable that was added in 1596. What the visitor sees today is the Fruchtkasten as it was rebuilt in the 1950s—as were the Stiftskirche, the Old Palace, and the Prinzenbau and Old Chancellery that flank the remaining two sides of the Schillerplatz. All the buildings around the Schillerplatz burned to the ground in a hail of bombs in 1944.
… keep on reading here…