Sunday, 28 November 2010

The First of Four

Today is (or, almost, was) the first of the four Sundays before Christmas; in German, they are commonly referred to as Advents-Sonntage, i.e. the Sundays of Advent.

Not being religious in my outlook on life and not belonging to any organized religion, I still like some of the traditions that were originally shaped and introduced by the religious authorities (sometimes rather unwillingly, and based on "heathen" traditions that were in place long before them) in my part of the world.

One of these traditions are the Sundays of Advent, with one important feature being a wreath made of fir green and adorned with four candles. As the four Sundays follow each other, the candles are lit on the wreath; first one, then two, three and finally four.

I like Christmas and the weeks leading up to it, although I do not claim being Christian, neither in my non-existent beliefs nor in my behaviour or morals. To me, it is mainly a treasured reminder of a childhood that was made beautiful by loving parents and grandparents, who had in turn grown up with the very same traditions themselves.

Therefore, this heathen Librarian has put some Christmas-themed decorations up in her home, and maybe you would like to see them?

Follow me on a quick tour through my small flat, then!

In my bedroom:

On top of the chest of drawers in my tiny hallway:

The garland has to be above this window in my kitchen every year:

And the "pièce de résistance": the Adventskranz (advent wreath), given to me by my parents (the cookies were made by my mum and by a close family friend):

Pukky was an unwilling model today, as you can see :-)
(The "Burberry" Father Christmas in the first picture was a gift from my sister, bought at the Christmas market here in our hometown some years ago. I broke my own "tradition" this year by putting him in the living room instead of the kitchen where he used to hang out previously.)

I hope your weekend was as cosy as mine!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Had it not been...

...for this blog post of a friend of mine (thank you, Perl, for keeping to provide me with interesting, inspiring and thought-provoking reading material!), I doubt I would have ever clicked the "Stats" button on my dashboard.
Now that I have done so, I am amazed and intrigued and suspect it will become an almost daily habit from now on to check on my stats here.

Not that long ago, I wrote about why I so enjoy blogging
here, and the enjoyment stems not only from writing, but also from reading AND being able to comment on what I read on other people's blogs, something I can not do when I am reading a book or a magazine, much as I'd sometimes like to voice my opinion on a certain paragraph or chapter.

So, yes, blogging seems to be ideal for the likes of me, and it would be dishonest to pretend I am only writing it for myself - I AM writing for myself, true, even if only to sort my head out or "outsource" something that is threatening to drive me mad otherwise, but of course I am striving for attention, I want comments, I appreciate comments, I need some kind of feedback from whoever happens to read my blog in order to keep it going.
If that wasn't the case, I suppose I'd simply put my thoughts, ideas and ramblings into a secret diary, and once that diary was filled, I'd lock it and throw away the key.

My blog is no comparison to what some of the blogs I am following have achieved in terms of popularity and distribution; I know that some of you have HUNDREDS of regular followers, whereas I have a tiny elite of twelve. Some of you I have known for a long time, some I have met in the offline world, too, but no matter where you are from and what motivated you originally to click the "Follow this blog" button when you read something on here, I hope you do know that I treasure each of you, and your comments and opinions are truly of high value for me.

Some big surprises were in store for me when I first looked at my stats: the total number of page views - more than 3.000 - was one, as was the origin of page views, not only sorted by countries (people living in almost every part of the globe have been looking at my blog, it seems; for instance, I have had views from Russia, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Poland, Belarus, Slovenia, France, Germany, UK, Netherlands, US, Turkey - to name but a few), and I only know for sure that some of my followers are from three or four countries listed here.

The most intriguing information, though, is the source - how did a reader of my blog end up on here? What were they originally looking for? Of course, this is not always clear, but there is a story behind every such source information, and if you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I love such miniature glimpses into people's lives, and the inspirational spark it can provide, setting my mental caleidoscope in motion, creating images of colour and beauty (some more so, some less), of symmetry or bewildering chaos.

One source link that I found most intriguing was this one:

So, someone must have been looking for something specific (what did they mean by "diek"?); the search results do not even show the link to my blog, and yet the person looking for "picture of a boy diek" by some meandering path landed on this blog post of mine. Were they disappointed, or did they like their find? I 'm afraid I will never find out, but you can see what I mean by there being a story behind every source information, can't you?

This mysterious blogger read my blog (or was at least long enough on my page to leave their mark in my stats) but I can not read theirs, which I think is a shame, as I'd really like to have a look (my curiosity is genetic, I can't help it):

There is a lot more similarly intriguing information to be found under my "Stats" button, and if you haven't looked at yours yet, there might be a few surprises in store for you!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Feels Like Friday

Do the days of the week differ for you in more than just their given name or the regular tasks they may or may not bring?

friend of mine once said, for instance, that for him, Tuesdays are yellow.
Now, to him yellow means something entirely different than to me; I love the colour yellow,
whereas I know that for said friend, Tuesdays tend to be quite on the tedious side where work is concerned.
If I had to attribute colours to the days of the week, I think Saturdays would be light blue, as they have a freshness about them, probably originating from my usual weekly cleaning of the flat.

For others, maybe different days come in different tastes, like the delicious scent of home-made bread or freshly brewed coffee that one could attribute to Sunday mornings.
And what about sounds? There certainly is a different chorus of traffic noise, birdsong, church bells and neighbours' voices on a typical Wednesday than on a Sunday.

Generally, though, the days of the week have a distinct "feel" to them for me; distinct and yet hard to describe at the same time.

Last week, Monday was a holiday in my part of Germany, but I went to the office nonetheless (and wrote about it here). Everything was different from a normal Monday, and so it was hardly surprising that for the rest of the week, I felt a slight confusion as to what day it was, and had to keep reminding myself of it every now and then.

On top of that, I had Friday off (in exchange for having worked on Monday), and so my Thursday felt like Friday from the moment I woke up.

What exactly felt like Friday?

Was it the knowledge, always at the back of my mind, of not having to go to work the following day, and therefore wanting to finish all my tasks at work, even those I would normally not mind leaving until tomorrow? Was it the generally rather relaxed atmosphere at work, what with many of our customers being away for a holiday and with a very good previous month under our belts?

I really don't know and was actually hoping that writing this would give me a clearer idea, as is sometimes the case with writing.

All I know is that last week, Thursday felt like Friday.

Friday, 5 November 2010

One Year Already

He hated cardigans, political correctness and marzipan.

He loved food, The Beatles and GTA.

His life had not always been easy - whose is?

The first and the last ten years had been best, adding some kind of symmetry to what was often an unhappy, rather chaotic and unstable drifting through time and space in the 20 years that lay in between.

Today, it is a year since I came home from work late on that Thursday afternoon and found him dead on the floor in our living room.

One year already.

I have not forgotten.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ghost Town

Yesterday, in many countries all over the world the day was, according to the calendar, "All Saints". In some parts of Germany (mine included), it is a public holiday or bank holiday, but not in the whole republic.
Therefore, my bosses had asked for someone to man the phones, just in case some of our customers from other parts of Germany would want to order something or ask for quotes and so on. As usual, I volunteered - it is an easily gained day off for me on a day of my choice, and I much prefer having time off when shops and offices are open and I can get things done.

So I got up as on every working day and left the house almost precisely at 8.30 in the morning - and found myself in a ghost town.
(View from my front door to the street)
Not a single soul I met on the way to the station.

No different at the station itself - there was nobody in sight.

Looks a bit eerie, doesn't it? As if the whole of humanity had suddenly disappeared (a thought I find more intriguing than scary, actually).
Still, the train arrived as it always does, and took me to the small town where I work within four minutes.
There, pretty much the same picture: Empty roads, sleepy-looking buildings.

No children on the playground, either; nobody walking their dog, as they would normally be doing every morning when I come past this bit:

There, the white cube-shaped building at the far end of the road, is where I work:

None of my colleagues were standing outside, having a fag (that's smoking a cigarette for my non-British readers), and no trucks were pulling up, delivering goods or picking up shipments.
I unlocked the main door, using a relatively complex system of keys and magnet stripe cards, and went in.
My office is on the first floor.
As expected, silence and empty desks were greeting me instead of the habitual "Good morning!" from my colleagues.

My own desk...

...the only one that was not left empty today!

I spent the day working on translations, sent and received some emails and took, all in all, less than 20 phone calls - as I said, an easily gained day off for me on another day.
When I left the office at 4.00 pm, the ghost town had come alive.
And today, everything was back to normal anyway.