Frau Bienkowski on contentment

“Frau Reiter can be so mean,” said Frau Bienkowski. “At lunch earlier, I was trying to take my pill but missed and dropped it on my lap. Frau Reiter saw what happened and piped up,  ‘That never happens to me! You don’t even know how to take a pill!'”

One of Frau B and my favourite books. Image source: Wiki Commons (c) H.-P.Haack

One of Frau B and my favourite books. Image source: Wiki Commons (c) H.-P.Haack

“It’s not even true,” continued Frau B. “I’ve seen it happen to her too. Once she dropped her pill and we found it later at the back of her seat..”

“She sounds like a very discontented person,” I said. “Maybe she’s jealous of you.”

“I think you’re right,” said Frau B. “Jealousy is a real issue here, particularly among the women. Frau Reiter is exactly the same age as me. She uses a horribly dismissive gesture when she’s talking to me. She sort of waves her hand in front of my face and says ‘Ach, what do you know?'”

“That’s nasty. I think it’s wonderful how nice and friendly you are even when other residents treat you like that.”

“The thing is Katechen – I’m contented. Even though six years is too long to be here and I really should have died by now, I’m not dissatisfied.”

“I think that’s part of what keeps you in such good health.”

“Perhaps. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of things that aren’t ideal. For one, I don’t even have a spoon to my name here. I had such lovely things at home. So much beautiful silver. But I cleared everything out before I came here.”

(Frau B has often lamented that she didn’t get to know me in time to give me all her stuff.)

“I think your contentment is wonderful. Some people spend their whole lives searching and never find it.”

She paused, then nodded. “Yes. And it’s not their fault that they don’t.”

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The not-so-secret gardener

A year ago I declared myself an insufferably smug gardener. After a punishing winter which saw most of my plants die, I’m now ready to gloat once again about what’s sprouting on my tiny, north-facing balcony. This spring, my prime focus has been on planting supermarket vegetables that have passed their peak. A few weeks ago, I plopped a wrinkly potato that had already begun to sprout into a pot of earth. It took a while for it to do anything but now it looks like this:

potato

All I did was plant a wrinkly, sprouting potato!

I did the same with an onion:

Looks like a second onion is sprouting!

Looks like a second onion is sprouting!

And in an ongoing experiment I’m very excited about, I cut a stem off a basil plant and placed it in a glass of water on my kitchen window sill. For weeks, it did nothing. Then one day, I walked into the kitchen and let out a little shriek. Just like the Internet had promised, it had begun to grow roots. In a few days, I’ll transfer it into a pot of earth and hopefully end up with a whole new basil plant. Isn’t nature wonderful?

You can also grow more scallions by placing the roots in water!!

You can also grow more scallions by placing the roots in water!!

Look - roots!! The same doesn't seem to apply to parsley... but who knows? The experiment is ongoing.

Look – roots!!

My gardening ambitions far exceed the confines of my tiny balcony. As a result, I’ve resorted to piling beer crates on top of each other to increase real estate. I feel a bit like a greedy property developer building high-rises on a tiny patch of land. Partial as he is to a Weissbier though, LSB has been most helpful in providing me with construction material.

So despite an acute lack space, I have been unable to resist planting the pumpkin seeds I impulse-bought. Nor have I managed to refrain from purchasing gooseberry, raspberry and red currant plants. Sure, I might be turning into a mad gardening lady. But the great thing about this habit is that when you feed it, it feeds you back. Can’t say the same thing about other cool habits.  Like drinking, smoking, gambling or crocheting. pumpkinbalkon