Archive | June 2009

Back in Berlin!

Today at 4.30 am in the morning I arrived at Berlin with the night train from my one week holiday in Lithuania, Litvia and Estonia.

It was an inspiring journey into three countries which once belonged to the Soviet Republic. They became independent in the late 80ies of the 20th century. Each of the countries is full of history, and compared with Germany the countryside consists of nothing but plain nature – forests, lakes, and huge patches of wide open land.

In the days to come I will write the one and the other blog post about my visit. So if you are interested in learning more about the three Baltic States just come back for more information.

Lovely Lavender

Lavender. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Lavender. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Usually, when I hear the word “lavender” I think of

  • lovely soaps
  • the south of France
  • summer
  • the french saying  “joie de vivre” (the Joy of Living)
  • or the Latin “ars vivendi” (the art of Living).

I would not think of the neighborhood I live in, which is rather poor, with people queuing up in front of the local shop in the morning because they need another bottle of beer, with kids hanging around clinging to a bottle of “I’d-rather-not-know-what’s-in-it”.

But: this lovely lavender you see above is part of a small park in my neighborhood. And it reminds me everyday I pass it on my daily way to work that there is also beauty where we often see only ugliness.

An Old Church, a Fountain and a Busy City

Foutain at the Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Foutain at the Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Have you ever heard of Berlin, Alexanderplatz?  It is a large public square and transport hub in the Mitte (city centre) district of Berlin. Lots of people are crossing it, heading to the big malls, changing from one kind of public transport to the other one, in the morning off to work, in the afternoon coming back from work.

But there’s also a place like this at the Alexanderplatz. An old church, built in the 13th century, called “St. Marienkirche” (Church of St. Mary). A lot of organ concerts take place in this church. The church is surrounded by a little park, where you can sit on one of the benches and smell the scent of the hundreds and thousands of red roses blooming just now. And you can watch the fountains at the side of the church, going up, going down, rising again and throwing beautiful arcs of water in the air.

So in the middle of busy Berlin you can find a place to breathe, to watch and to listen to the swooshing of the fountains.

Morning has Broken

“Morning has broken” is one of the most played songs of Cat Stevens here in Germany (I still prefer to think of him as “Cat Stevens” and not as “Yussuf Islam”, but I digress). The video you can watch here and listen to doesn’t cover the song in full length, but I liked the photos accompanying the song.

I use a radio alarm to wake me up in the morning, and listening to this song, looking out of the window on a sunny morning, seeing the blue sky prepares me for the challeninges of  the day.

Do you have a fabourite song to begin the day with?

A Photo from a Friend


Purple, originally uploaded by Karey46.

I have known Karey46, a nice lady from Michigan, for more than one year now. Every Sunday at a certain time we have a one hour chat, presenting our photos and exchanging our experiences concerning photo-processing, talking about every day life, and – of course! – the weather.

We have met each other via photophlow, a web platform with connection to flickr, where you can present you photos and chat about them. Karey46 has some absolutely awesome flower pictures on her flickr page – you must go and have a look!

Knowing that somebody is waiting for me, eager to see new photos, encourages me to keep on with taking photos of Berlin. It is a way to open my world to another person, to share. And I am very glad that with the internet I have the possibility to do so.

By the way, at the time you will be reading this I will have left Berlin for a one week stay in the Baltic states. I will come back at the 28th of June – up to that day you will get blog posts thrice a week as usual, but I won’t be there to comment or to approve new commenters.

Horse in Motion

Horse - charcoal sketch

Charcoal sketch: Horse in motion. Drawing and photo: Ulla Hennig

That sketch was done very quickly. I just wanted to catch the movement of the horse, and I know there are some mistakes regarding the proportions.

I put the photo on flickr first and told a good friend of mine about it. He had given me some drawing and painting lessons, and I wanted to know what he thought about the sketch. I was ready to hear some harsh words, but in fact his feedback was quite positive, and so I had the courage to put it on my blog.

This is one example for the difference between what we think about our works or products and how other people think about them and how important it is to have the courage and ask for other people’s opinions!

June – the Month of Roses

Yellow Rose. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Yellow Rose. Photo: Ulla Hennig

I like the month of June. In the beginning of June, you can see the first rosebuds, and now, in the middle of June, roses are everywhere. The photo above was taken at the next post office, a modern building with some flower beds in front of it. At the moment yellow roses are in blossom in those beds, and lavender is soon going to bloom.

And when I pass those roses I notice a sweet fragrance – which is very unusual because most of the roses today have no scent at all anymore. In the morning on my way to work this is a wonderful experience, and it is the same on the way back, after a day in the office.

Up in the Sky

Up in the Sky. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Up in the Sky. Photo: Ulla Hennig

When the weather is fine, you can see this balloon hovering over Berlin. It is fastened to the earth, so it cannot fly away. The name written on it – “Die Welt” stands for the sponsor, the newspaper “Die Welt”.

If you want to look down on the city of Berlin, you can enter the balloon when it is on the earth and then rise with it.

I have my difficulties with heights, so I’ve never thought of going up with the balloon, but I like to watch it – same as I like to watch sailingships with their sails blowing in the wind and would never think of going aboard. Funny, isn’t it?

What about you? Have you ever been aboard a balloon or a sailing ship?

Three things I Learned while Writing my First Squidoo Lense

What is Squidoo?

“Squidoo is the popular publishing platform and community that makes it easy for you to create “lenses” online. Lenses are pages, kind of like flyers or signposts or overview articles, that gather everything you know about your topic of interest–and snap it all into focus.”

This description I found on a squidoo lense. Squidoo is free, you can built as many lenses (pages) as you like and you can earn money with it.

Publishing my first lense

Having a blog at I haven’t got the possibility to have adverts on it and be part of an affiliates program. And I would not like to do it, even if it would be possible for me. It would not match with the blog’s character.

But why not try out something different? I’ve got some knowledge about Berlin and some nice photos – why shouldn’t I make a lens out of it?

I joined Squidoo, played around with the tools and modules given there, took two spoonfuls of those courage pills (very useful they are, aren’t they?) and published my first lense.

And what did I learn?

Having done that I noticed that there are two important differences between blog  posts and squidoo lenses:

  1. You have to do some careful planning before writing a lense.
    When I began with my blog, I had a very general idea what I would be writing about. I wanted to present my photos and I wanted to have some writing going with it – something about the photos or a little story. Now, almost one year later, my blog has developed into something going beyond presenting photos. It is not so much the result of a planning process but the result of constant development.
    I wrote my first lense in a similar way. I had a very general idea of how my views of Berlin – both as photos and writings – could be useful to foreigners visiting this wonderful city. So I chose a quite general URL. While working on the lense I noticed that every squidoo lense should focus on one special aspect, which in my case could be the tourist side of Berlin, or the green parts of Berlin, or the waterways of Berlin, or… Note to oneself: next time draw a mindmap, get a picture of the general theme and of the subthemes and then – work on the lense!
  2. Try to be useful!
    Other blogs are focused on “How-to” subjects – how to manage your time, how to work efficiently, how to avoid writing mistakes. My blog is not a “how-to” blog. I am sharing my experiences, views, even moods and feelings. Of course I am pleased if it is “useful” for somebody else, but that is not my primary goal.
    Squidoo lenses should be useful – so you have to have that usefulness in mind while writing a lense. As I see it that’s a kind of writing which is quite different to the one I am used to.
  3. Learning is fun!
    The past days I enjoyed a feeling of pure fascination – I have reanimated my knowledge of HTML and CSS, tried it out, made mistakes, looked for help, corrected the mistakes. And I am already planning (Yes, I am planning this time) the next lenses.

And here it is, if you like to have a look:

Berlin, the capital of Germany

Alive again – The American Bison

American Bison. Pastel drawing and photo: Ulla Hennig

American Bison. Pastel drawing and photo: Ulla Hennig

They once lived in hundreds of thousands of herds in the Great Plains. The Indians hunted them and used every bit of them – from their hides to their horns.

During the 19th century those enormous herds were reduced to only a few hundred animals. They were shot down and left to rot. In the end not even the hides were taken. The species was in danger of being wiped out.

Later on, man recognized that it was his and her responsibility to prevent that, and today some 200 000 bison are again grazing the land.

This is one example of how man is getting aware of his responsibility regarding nature. We still need many more of that kind!