Archives for the month of: June, 2012

This image here I took six years ago. I like the juxtaposition of the lines with the round crater. For obvious reasons I originally called it “Square peg in a round hole.” It is just a close-up of some rocks we were climbing over at the time.

When I accidentally came across this image today, a totally different interpretation jumped out at me.

There is a little story to go with it: A friend of mine, a school teacher, was once asked by one of her pupils: “Tell me Miss, what was the world like when it was still black and white?” I just love this story. The pupil was of course referring to black & white photography and TV.  When I first heard the story, I thought it was so cute I laughed. Today, my answer would be: “The world was more colourful then…” as there must have been so much more room for imagination.

Today, when I glanced at the photograph, I instantly saw a smiling face with a rock hurled at it from a giant fist. When I showed my discovery to a friend,  he couldn’t quite follow. So I coloured it in for him in Photoshop. Now the image is called: “Honestly, I didn’t see this coming!”

However this is a very disturbing interpretation, and I went looking for another image. It took me a while, but this time it is called: “Life is beautiful!” It shows two playful figures in the sun.

Thank God you always remember what you saw last. I have difficulties seeing the giant fist now when I look at the black and white original.

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Everything around me is in flux at the moment. I am not a rock, I am a pebble.

Rocks brave the tide. They are strong and stand their position. But over time they will be ground down.

Pebbles on the other hand are small fries. They might get uplifted and swirled around, yet it is very reassuring they will settle again. A few inches to one side maybe, but there is always a chance it will be in an even sunnier spot.

For now I am happy it’s Friday again.

This is a bit of false advertising! I am currently trying to tie up so many loose ends. For the first time I sat down this morning and didn’t know what to write about. I have to meet somebody relatively early this morning and am therefore under some time constraint. I looked through the images I have taken recently and found this lost looking oyster catcher. The only thing to pick on this bare ramp is a plastic bottle cap.

I’ve just finished this little book called “Modern Puppetry” by a guy called A.R. Philpott. He was obviously a very famous puppeteer in his time, known as Pantopuk the Puppet Man. The book is mainly on puppet making, but touches on performing and the current state of puppetry in general. Current in this case means 1966, as this was when the book was written. I am surprised how much puppetry still seemed to have been part of society then.  But I suspect in the meantime I am just living at the wrong end of the world for puppetry.

One sentence in the book really touched me. He talks about finding material for your puppet show, he says: “Once you need them – that is as soon as you start being a puppeteer – ideas will come, a part of your mind being always alert for new possibilities – and not only for puppet characters but also for situations in which these can find themselves on stage. Plots and plays are inseparable from characters.” [p40].

Phew, so I am normal!

Yesterday I told someone a very personal story: it is one of my favorite ones, a brief summary on how I came to form my perspective. I thought I would share the story with everybody:

The pride of my hometown is a huge palace with beautifully maintained gardens. When I was a child, one of the main attractions in these gardens was a couple of swans. It was a big deal when the swans laid their eggs in spring and I wouldn’t be surprised if even the newspaper reported when the young ones hatched. Exciting stuff! However, what totally eluded me was that these swans were black-neck swans, a species native to South-America and very rare in Germany. For me they were simply the only swans I knew, so I just assumed every swan has a black neck.

When I got my first job, I moved away from my hometown. One day I went to the shores of a lake with a friend. And there they were, the beautiful white swans. White from beak to tail feather. I exclaimed: “They don’t have black necks.” My friend laughed at me and said: “Don’t be silly, swans are always white. They don’t have black necks!”

Then I moved to New Zealand and… the first swan I saw was black, entirely black. I can’t remember when I last saw a white one. I wish I still had my friend’s phone number :)

I didn’t really want to write about what happens in the dede world today, but there was another incident.

Monster waited up for me. He sat quietly in the corner and waited until I came past. “Psst” he said, and at first I could hardly hear it. “Psst” he said again and I looked around and there he was all scared, squashed into the corner. He is an ugly little thing and one doesn’t know where his front and back is, but his dark black button eyes stood out.

“Can we talk?” he continued. “I don’t have much time, so make it short” I said looking at my watch. I was happy to lend him my ear. He comes across as a fairly rowdy one, I assume much of it is facade. Once you know him, he can be a really nice guy. But one thing is for sure, he is certainly not one who wins you over at first sight. You have to look twice and engage with him for a little while.

“You know, mhm, you know” he hummed and hawed.  There was nothing demanding about him today, not like the other day when he came to see me together with Skeleton. I felt sorry for him as I could see how painful it was for him to get started. Then finally he just exploded and blurted it all out… all his fears.

He virtually begged me to put Lou in his place (if he had knees he would have fallen on them). Deep down he is very worried that Skeleton actually enjoys the attention she gets from this handsome young puppy. He has been observing her. She is looking in the mirror more often than she usually does. If she had hair she would comb it all day. There are countless little signs. He told me around ninety-nine of them …

Monster is worried out of his mind that he will loose her. He is so sure she is his soul mate. He seems to think he would not survive, should she ever leave him.

I had to sit down and just let him talk. He sobbed and cried. It was obvious he seems to think she is his ultimate love. He talked and talked. Finally after an hour or so, he started to slow down, clearly exhausted. I watched him silently. A lot of thoughts flashed through my mind, but I was certain, none of them would have fallen on fertile ground in this situation.

I believe, if they really have such a strong relationship, no puppy, now matter how young and handsome, could destroy it. Yes, the attention might revitalise Skeleton Edeltraut for a little, but only temporarily…. She certainly knows there is more to a relationship than zing!

In the end I put my arm around him and said: “Look, just trust Edeltraut. Don’t be clingy and suffocate her with your love. The more you watch her, the more you shackle her, the more you will drive her away.”

“But, but…”

“No but… Trust!”

“You just don’t understand” he muttered, disappointed.

“Poor sod” I thought.

Another one of my strange hobbies is to collect images of the symbol X. I find them all around the place and photograph or paint them. This here is one of my recent additions. I love ambiguity. Maybe love is the wrong expression, I am intrigued by it.

Where I grew up x meant “No!” This is not allowed – “Das ist verboten”. Where I live now, signing off with three x means heaps of kisses. If you sign with xxxx you might be particularly fond of the person, or you might be after an Australian brand of beer. Then we have Xmas or Xing (which could be a crossing or a common Chinese name or if you are like me, you could be on the look-out for yet another x). I think x must be one the most widely used symbols with the most different meanings. I don’t have a very scholarly approach to this, this is something I will save for retirement. In the meantime I just find it interesting and keep collecting.

But ultimately, I try to find an alternative meaning to most things or try to look for a different angle. This is where my puppets come in. For me they are a little bit like de Bono’s six hats thrown into a ring and mixed in every possible combination (as nothing is ever that clear cut). Of course they are far less intellectual.  But they are a fantastic tool to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes.

Logically I am now researching puppets and the history of puppetry with a particular focus on hand puppets. (I am still at the very beginning though.) Puppets have always been around. For centuries hand puppets got away with saying whatever they wanted. In public performances they could air opinions that were too dangerous for people to express. Unfortunately in Romanticism they morphed into cutesy little creatures to address kids, mainly to teach morals. Nowadays people see hand puppets and immediately think they are for children. I don’t believe the whimsical is entirely lost on grown-ups. After all animation and fantasy films are very popular at the moment. Maybe it is a matter of the readiness for consumption.  Slick animation films are the instant noodles of creativity, while hand puppets are more like getting eggs and flour out of the cupboard first. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t want to deny the creativity of the film makers. I am talking about the audience. I am a maker, but I am keen for my audience to participate. Even if it is only by filling in the gaps or spinning their own yarn in their minds.

I found various sources that use puppets for therapy with young ones, but nothing for geriatric therapy yet. I believe there is a huge potential in getting people to act out the characters, being active and letting their own creativity flow. For older people this is certainly the way to go, they don’t need to be taught morals, they are more likely to want to express their life experiences.

I’ve finished two more puppets. This here is Foxy Lady. She is a beauty, I could fall in love with her myself. Initially I started her as a play mate for Lou, but now I think is she is too mature for Lou. No… I certainly wouldn’t be happy if Lou tried to chase her instead of  Skeleton. His puppy love for Skeleton is a pain, but at least I know he is going nowhere.

I have updated the Character page and finally included the three puppets that were on show as well as the two new ones.

Who doesn’t love an extended breakfast on Saturday? I love it and I enjoy it even more in the company of  friends, so I invited Devil’s Advocate and Fairy Godmother for breakfast. Okay, okay, I had an ulterior motive. I’ve noticed these two are always standing together lately, whispering to each other. I am so curious about what’s going on.  As if I hadn’t enough on my mind with Lou and Skeleton Edeltraut, but after all I am only human.

So they came along and they are a lovely couple indeed. You can tell they have a lot of respect for each other and they really care.

Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the subject changed to Lou and Skeleton Edeltraut (Mouse did a brilliant job spreading the gossip). My visitors were interested in my point of view.

“I don’t want to favour either of them” I started. “But you can’t remain sitting on the fence” Devil’s Advocate interrupted me  immediately. “Amongst friends you have to have an opinion! There is no way around it. Otherwise you will be nobody’s friend!”

Then they explained to me that both Edeltraut and Lou want me on their respective sides. “If you are not on their side” Fairy Godmother warned me, “they automatically think you are against them. For them you are a traitor.”

It seems the Dedes are now divided into three camps: Some side with Edeltraut, others with Lou and the third party is putting pressure on me to solve the problem and giving me advice on how I should do it. And this is by far the biggest group.

“Can’t you do anything about it?” I asked Fairy Godmother. “Oh no, that’s not my department!” she waved her hand, “you better ask Witch.”  Then she clarified the difference between her and Witch. Fairy Godmother can only work on wishes for yourself (for example, if I wanted to be rich I could hire her to give it a go, but I would have to work with her), while Witch works on wishes you have for other people (for example if I’d wish the plague on Nosy Neighbour I would have to go to her and pay her to cast a spell or mix a potion). But of course neither of them guarantees success.

“So,” I asked her out of interest, “did Lou come and see you?”

“I couldn’t discuss my client base with you” she said in a quite unfriendly manner.

I have to tell you what just happened. I am really shocked (and this doesn’t happen very often).

I went down to the letterbox to get my newspaper. (Yes, I still get it delivered and read it religiously.) My Neighbour Envy was out at the same time. He had been on honeymoon. I didn’t even notice they had come back. He recently got married to Twofaced. I will have to wait and see whether this relationship lasts.  They seem to have a lot of like-minded friends though. Honestly, when they moved in I thought they ran a swinger’s club, with the constant stream of visitors they had.

Anyway, back to my story. So here was Envy standing in his garden waving me over to his place. I followed his invitation, he is a nice enough guy as long as you don’t have something he wants. (Make sure you never lend him your tools, you won’t get them back). Being neighbourly, I thought he was keen to tell me about his honeymoon. Was I mistaken!  He launched right into me. “What’s going on in your place?” he asked indignantly, while I was only half way across the road.

“What do you mean?” I asked back, I really didn’t know what he was going on about.

“What’s with all the comings and goings to the kennel? I see all sorts of people loitering about. I would watch this young puppy of yours. He isn’t into drugs, is he?”

I was flabbergasted and tried to laugh his accusations off. I told him that Lou had been sick all week. He shook his head and walked away, muttering: “Take him into the house when he is sick, don’t leave him in the draughty kennel”

I just stood there standing in the middle of the road with my newspaper in hand and my mouth hanging open, wondering what had just hit me!

It is very wintery now and it rains a lot. The beauty in our country is that it never rains for very long. Sometimes we have all fours seasons packed into one day.  Yesterday lunchtime it was like summer and I grabbed my sandwich and headed for the bench at the library, which is nicely sheltered from the wind and drenched in sun. I had hardly settled, when Ducky passed by. Ducky wants to stand for office in the Dede Society and now he makes everything his business. He has an opinion about everything and everybody. Most of the time he doesn’t even acknowledge me but obviously he had heard something and of course he had to stop today.  He towered over me with the sun at his back and said: “I hear you have difficulties with Lou! Can I help in anyway?”

I had to shield my eyes and squint to look at him “No, not really,” I replied. He didn’t move and went on to tell me how well connected he is and that he could get Lou into a really good puppy school if I wanted. I just let him talk, there is no need to interrupt him, he doesn’t like listening much. I know I should have said something, but I also thought what’s happening in my house is not such a big deal . I am very much one for keeping it in the family.

Finally he gave up but not without saying: “You know you have to stop them early. Lou is a nice young lad, but you don’t want to him to go around and pee on every lamp post!”

He is a puppy for god’s sake, I thought, but was so pleased to finally get rid of Ducky. If I’d said something, he would have started again…