Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 26

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Saturday April 26, 2008 (diary, travel, thoughts)

It is a very mild day today, overcast but no wind. I repeat Wanderweg 1 which I like because it is flat and runs all the way along the Ahr river. It is a Saturday and many people are cycling or walking on the track, some with their dog. We all greet each other and exchange the odd word or two.

A main reason for me coming to Germany this year is to try and get in tune with my ancestors. It is not that I want to communicate or connect with their (if you believe in these) spirits, but rather I want to open myself up to (perceive) the type of notions, emotions and driving forces which may have governed their lives at the time. And hope to do so by placing myself in their environment ("being on the ground" as the detectives say).
This obviously is a very subtle thing, but both the present delicate Spring season and the tranquil environment here may be inducive to what I am after. I have picked up and recognised two notions so far. I will only record one of these today. (For the second one see May 16.)

One was yesterday while talking to the old fellow at the Imbiss. I suddenly felt with a burst of joy, that the enormous ease with which I slip here into (and be taken in by) the attitude, culture and spirit of the ordinary German man in the street is something that comes from, and resonates strongly with my grandfather from my mother's side, Claus Hicken, the watchmaker and jeweler from Wismar. This pleases me enormously, as I have always admired and loved him very much, but never felt really connected to him before. Now I well and truly do.

May 1 tree procession Claus Hicken was a very even tempered, level headed, patient, wise man, who commanded great respect and authority from every one around without ever raising his voice.
In this regard he is similar to my former father in law, Jan Garvelink, and it is with great pride that I see the characteristics of both these men strongly reflected in my own son, Jeroen, who's standing as a highly reliable and much respected unbiased authority, amongst his friends and business associates alike, is miles ahead of his relatively young age.

Hot spot along Wanderweg 1 There are no Clouds Net hot spots in my next two Hotels. Hopefully they have something else available, but it is possible that my blog uploads will be a bit irregular over the next two weeks or so. I will however every day have access to my emails via my Vodafone roaming device.

Benches (like the one I am sitting on here) are for me wireless hot spots of an entirely different nature. Sitting on a bench my emotions come to the surface and freely roam and mix with the contemplations in my mind. This is where many of my thoughts come to fruition. Some benches in my life I specifically remember for the strong emotional feelings I had there at the time.   There are for example my :

  • bench of boredom (and my then as yet unknowing complicity in a deception) in Eefde 1946,
  • bench of passion in La Coruna 1962,
  • bench of disappointment on the Gold Coast 2003,
  • bench of sweetness in London's Hyde Park 1983, and
  • benches of extraordinary emotional relief in Central Brisbane 1979 and (for an entirely different reason) at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam 1982.

The day follows its usual pleasant course. In he evening a Dutch couple, Ton and his wife from Apeldoorn, enter the Hotel for dinner and we have an animated chat, before I turn in to bed.

But underneath all my doings and talking throughout these days another process is quietly going on, at times surfacing up to my mind, at others descending into the subconsciousness.
In the deepest recesses of my soul is She. Hiding, waiting (?) now for 30 years, surrounded by a wall of agony and fear which sends shock waves through my emotions each time I come near it, still after all these years. But now, this last week, a thaw has set in. The fear is slowly melting away and replaced by a feeling of wonder, of warmth, of hope and gentle yearning. These changes and feelings I sense "are mutual". What can we make of this, something good and positive ? Wait, wait, wait and see.

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Sunday April 27, 2008 (diary, travel)

At Hotel Rebstock, Boppard It is early morning. The sun shines and the sky is bright light blue. I am in the process of packing up, then breakfast and on my way to Boppard, a small village on the West bank of the Rhein, about 20 km South of Koblenz. I have booked a room for 5 nights there in Hotel Rebstock.

The GPS is once again doing a marvelous job in getting me the 87 km from Altenahr to Boppard. Even when I take a wrong turn in the narrow Boppard streets, the friendly female voice (in German) guides me unperturbed back onto the right track. Oh, if I only could marry her, life would be so simple.

Promenade, Boppard The Hotel Rebstock is a delight of creative taste and care. There are the most gorgeous lamps in the Restaurant, window sills packed with flowers, lovely paintings everywhere. The style is "Jugendstiel", "Art Nouveau" or Art Deco as they call it now. We are so deprived of artistic beauty and creative variety in Australian motels, hotels, etc. it is really sad.
I get Room 8, the only room on the 2nd floor with a balcony and terrific views of the Rhine. I absolutely love the huge Rhine barges passing by. Some of the Dutch container carriers are like road trains on the water, tied together in 2s or even 4s and I estimate that some are well over 100 meters long.

It is Sunday and the promenade in front of the Hotel and all along the river bank is full with strollers. I discover an Imbiss with seats on the waterfront, so I am set for the week as far as lunches are concerned. I test them out immediately. An elderly couple sits on the bench next to me and off we go chatting away again.

For the evening meal I am served by Frau Welker, a lady in her 60s I estimate. Her name is derived from the ancient tradesmen who converted hides into leather, she tells me. (a "tanner" in English).
From Connie, who looks after the breakfasts every morning, I later hear that Frau Welker is the one looking after all the flowers and pot plants in the Restaurant. Quite a job to keep them as good and healthy looking as they do. Welkar writes me out a detailed directive of traveling to Bingen, where the 2008 German Garden show is held this year. She recommends I go down by train and come back on a river cruise. I will probably do that.

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Monday April 28, 2008 (diary, travel)

Central suare, Boppard I am having a quiet day today. After a wonderful breakfast with a bottomless can of coffee I walk into town and do some shopping. At lunch it starts to rain so I return to my Hotel and work on the photos I took. Later I find the local Internet Cafe, where I have no trouble uploading my Blog material at the cost of just 50 Euro cents. I will keep doing this every couple of days. There are several thoughts and ideas I want to write down. Here is just one, prompted by a couple of emails I received recently.

Awareness 17 continues from April 14
Memes (as I explained earlier and as defined by Richard Dawkins) are small segments of human culture like thoughts, ideas, creations, etc. created by man. "Culture" is here defined as in its absolute broadest sense, being anything which is man constructed, man thought, man influenced, man discovered, etc.

So for example a natural tree in an (by man) undisturbed landscape, by itself is of course not part of human culture. But the fact that we call it and know as a "tree", or "boom" or "arbre" is part of human culture. The three names of course represent three different sub cultures, one English, one Dutch and one French. The fact that we know how to determine the tree's age, is also part of human culture and so is our understanding of the tree's "breathing" process (osmosis) which converts CO2 into carbon (C) and oxygen (O2), etc. etc.

Human culture is therefore like a multi-dimensional, multi-layered jigsaw puzzle of interlocking and overlapping memes. Some memes live only for a short period of time, others can go on for centuries, even millennia.
As individual human beings we deal with memes in three different ways.

  1. some memes we learn or absorb and use

  2. some memes we make (create) ourselves

  3. and some memes we pass on to others

Depending on one's nature, education, type of job, inclination, etc. each individual deals with memes in a combination of the above three ways. The mixture of these three ways may be different from one person to the next. There are two types of individuals however which I consider to be at extreme and opposite ends of the whole spectrum. I will call them here meme seekers and memers.

Meme seekers are people who are almost obsessive about collecting memes. They absorb them whenever possible every day through the Internet, papers, books, study, etc. They are usually also good at remembering them and as such are also great meme keepers and meme distributors passing their acquired knowledge on to others.
My son in law Doug is a good example of a very successful meme seeker.

Memers on the other hand are almost the total opposite of meme seekers. Memers collect existing memes often with some reluctance and only when they consider it absolutely essential. Their memes memory is also usually not so good and they tend to forget them rather quickly, unless they write the meme down.
Memers are however obsessive meme creators. Day in day out their mind never ever stops in this regard. Even in the middle of listening to someone else, they absorb a single fact from the speaker and off their mind goes creating a new meme (idea) from it.
I myself am a typical memer and so is my daughter Babette.

Looking at my daughter and her partner it is clear that a memer - meme seeker combination can work well. After all these two types complement each other beautifully. They both share a passion for memes, but view them from rather different perspectives.
Awareness continues on
May 15

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Tuesday April 29, 2008 (diary, travel)

Painting in my room, Hotel Rebstock, Boppard Each morning when I wake up, open my eyes, the first thing I see is this woman, deep in thought. It is a picture on the wall facing me in my room in Hotel Rebstock. I don't know the name of the painter, probably Italian, I think another painting of his was hanging in a class room in my Primary school, back in the late 40s.
She intrigues me. Is she sad ? What is she thinking of ? I like her clothes, her blouse, jacket, especially the texture and colour of her skirt. Her shapely bare arm, graceful wrist and hand hold the promise of a loving intimate embrace for the one, the only one, residing within her heart.
This is an image of the complete woman, for it portrays all of her three aspects : body, mind and spirit. The artist leaves us guessing as to the state of her mind and spirit. And that is perhaps as it should be. From close up she looks sad, perhaps heart broken, from a distance she appears much more composed.

Back in March we were watching an American TV series called Madmen, a story about an aggressive advertising agency in the early 60s around the time of the JFK elections. "What do women want ?" was one of the questions the ad team was brainstorming on. Their answer ? "Anything that gets them closer to a man !" Whether this answer was right in those days or still is I have no idea.
But in me it raised the obvious personal question : "What do men want ?" or more precisely "What do I want ?" The answer to that is simple. It is hanging here on my wall : the complete woman.

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Wednesday April 30, 2008 (diary, travel,bio)

Mailauf, Boppard 2008 I start to get a good routine going here in Boppard. Walk every day along the Rheinallee, usually having a chat with someone. To day a retiree with two small dogs. One is barking frequently. "Is that the boy ?" I ask. But no, it is the girl, the other way around to Tin Tin and Kiku. The boy stays quietly in the background, but don't you dare to get too close to his girlfriend !
I have lunch either at the Imbiss on the river or (when the wind blows there too much) in a small Cafe on the Market Square. Here I usually also sit in the evening with a beer, watching the world go by. To day there is much excitement : Mailauf, mini marathons for all ages. The market place is full of slim, athletic people warming up for the event. Tents with food, drinks, T-shirts are set up as well as a stage with tables full of trophies.
The first start (from the Rheinallee) is at 6 pm for the little ones, then a new start every half hour. Lots of fun for everybody. The circuit increases in length for each successive race, but always finishes at the Market Square. Winner of the first race is a tiny boy. The race number pinned on his chest ? Number 999. With such a magic number, how can you possibly not win ?

Sometimes something is staring you in the face and you don't see it. Yet finally, guess what ?   What is the difference between (I assume) most rivers in Europe and those in Australia ? The European rivers flow much faster. The very ancient Australian landscape is almost completely eroded to a near flat surface. Hence a much gentler overall slope of the Australian rivers compared to the European ones, with a much slower flow speed as result.

The Rhine currents here make my mind cast back to those summers in the early 50s when my mother took us out to the river IJssel near Gorssel. She would hire a wide rough wooden rowing boat there at the "Houtwal" (mooring place for Gorssel).
My mother and I would each operate one of the oars, while my sister Wivica and brother Claus sat in the back. We would first row across, then turn upstream closely following the bank of the river's inside curve.
There are stone piers at 100-200 meters intervals along the IJssel here, protruding about 10 meters into the river to prevent erosion of the embankments. Between these there are gentle return eddy currents which we used to row upstream. Between some of the piers there were also lovely sandy beaches. We would stop at one of these and swim and sun there for the afternoon. When returning home we would row right up to the middle of the river and let its strong current drift us back to the boathouse. They were good days, back then.

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