It has been a while since last post, thanks to a bit of vacation, an internet-free break before the upgrade to the new contract, and some good bits of offline progress. I’ve been reading insightful books; I have baked a few breads despite the scorching heat, which greatly helped the leavening process; I’ve been drawing more, and am preparing a significant announcement about my artsy activities… stay tuned for next update!
The hot weather is boosting plant growth on my balcony, where I’m keeping a cucumber plant and a larger flower pot with a (now flowerless, but otherwise adorned with small light blue flowers) Asteria, parsley, wild flowers, and an enthusiastic ginger shoot:
I managed to grow a ginger plant on my balcony in Trentino, thanks to the good exposure to the south that gave it plenty of sunshine. Here I was initially skeptical, but despite not getting that much light, the shoot has grown a lot in a few days and has opened two new leaves. Let’s hope it keeps growing!
The two cucumber plants were a bet as well, first because I knew they would need to grow a lot in height, and I solved this by letting them grasp the sides of the window frames and pruning the tops; they are otherwise green and flowery, and have already provided one tasty fruit! A few more are in preparation, I hope to harvest them soon 🙂
My house is otherwise not so plant-friendly due to the minimal amount of sunlight, but these plants do thrive. I hope it encourages you to try gardening on your windowsill: no matter how small your garden is, it motivates you to spot all little improvements, the tiniest new sprout or leaf, and will reward your constant attention with pretty leaves and flowers!
As I learned German very late, I missed the opportunity to absorb culture together with language, as I would have done in kindergarten and in school and in everyday life, were I born in a German-speaking place. I notice this gap when I write in cursive, when I sing children’s songs, when I use proverbs and figures of speech – they all come from Italian culture. I’m trying to bridge this gap by reading childrens’ books in my local libraries, and it’s always fascinating. Especially history books that -of course- center on another country. In my mind, history is so deeply connected with the history of my country that I first have to find connections with my own knowledge in order to properly place the events of German history on the time-line.
That’s why I think I can profit from childrens’ books and in general from books-that-explain-things rather than just a dictionary. With only word-to-word translations I would not get the culture inputs that I need to feel more integrated here. On the other hand, some books take their time to explain concepts that I know already, and don’t require that much attention from me. This is in converse the most concentrated and captivating collection of culture insights I picked so far:
It’s a collection of German idioms, described in their meaning and origin in a short paragraph. Many expressions come from the past, and cite knights, ancient arts and crafts, farming, commerce, construction, old administrative structures. I liked how it gave me another angle of the German culture, not directly like in an history museum or book, but indirectly through many bits and pieces that survived in today’s language. My favourite is “Alles in Butter!” which means “All is OK/safe!”, and comes from the times where merchants transported fine glass manufacts from Italy to Germany, across the Alps on carriages. The risk of breaking would have been very high, if the merchants did not submerge the glasses in liquid butter, then let it become solid and protect the fragile objects from any shock. At destination, the butter was melted again and the glasses taken out and cleaned. Clever and effective!
Last weekend we have been visiting a friend in Amsterdam. It was my first visit to the city and in fact to the Netherlands, and it was a pleasant and interesting stay.
I’ve been surprised by how many buildings in the city centre lost their alignment, due to the instability of the soil underneath. I find amazing how the houses stay habitable and still look pretty and well-kept.
The weather was hot and dry, as in many places in Europe and around the world, and the vegetation was suffering a lot. The contrast with the greenhouses and gardens of the Hortus Botanicus was striking.
I even found time to sketch a bit, and chose three different windows from the houses around the square where we were stopping for a drink.
I’d like to come back to visit more landmarks and get a better picture of everyday life. If any of you have been to Amsterdam and surroundings and wish to share impressions and tips, I’d be very grateful!
A few days ago I challenged myself to draw horses’ ears. I have been drawing horses for as long as I can remember, but with a moderate and varied amount of attention to detail. Therefore I am able to draw horses’ ears somewhat by memory, so that they don’t look that convincing. Thanks to a library book with a lot of pictures (I prefer to copy from printed images instead of from a screen) I found plenty of portraits from which I could draw. Here is the result:
As usual, the first two sketches are a warm-up. From the third onwards I tried to notice something characteristic from each sketch, and for the forward-facing ears of sketch #3, it’s the angle in the inner ear side (I used to draw round ears by default – some horses have a less pronounced angle, but it’s always there). The same angle is visible when the ear is turned backwards: in sketch #6 I drew the ear as a trapezoid|trapezium, instead of a triangle. It felt strange to draw the ears like that, but in the end they look more realistic. The following sketches are more about ear positions and differences among breeds and individuals.
My next focus will be on hooves/feet, stay tuned for next post!
Yesterday I went for a walk around lake Müggelsee in the south-east corner of Berlin. It was a wonderfully sunny day and I snapped a few pictures:
The highlight was the ferry trip, for all passengers 🙂 The walk around the lake was nice thanks to the tall trees which provided shade, even if they were also masking the view. It was a long walk, but also refreshing and very quiet. I plan to go to Müggelsee again and maybe rent a kayak to paddle around 🙂 Will keep you posted for sure!