Archive | June 2010

The Nikolai Quarter in Berlin

Nikolai Quarter in Berlin

The Nikolai Quarter in Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig

I had been offline for some days. One of my cousins from the South of Germany stayed in my flat from Thursday afternoon until Monday morning, and it was wonderful to show her my home town and spend the time with her.

Apart from writing e-mails and creating photo books with the computer she doesn’t share my fascination for the internet, and as I did not want to spend our precious time me hacking away at the keyboard and she being left alone I decided to stay away from my dear notebook.

We had gorgeous weather on the weekend, and the photo above is one of the results of strolling through the city. The so-called Nikolai Quarter is the oldest part of the town. To put it precisely, it was the oldest part of the town, because it was destroyed during the bomb raids on Berlin. In order to celebrate the 750th birthday of Berlin the German Democratic Republic decided to re-build it.

So the Nikolai Quarter looks like a town in the middle Ages, but it is not. There are many cosy restaurants and cafés there, and we enjoyed to sit outside and drink a typical Berlin beverage – the so-called “Weiße mit Schuss” (a certain brand of beer with syrup in it).

In the middle of the photo you can see the “Berliner Dom” (Berlin Dome), a huge round cathedral. This cathedral was the church of the Prussian Kings.

Moments of Happiness

purple flowers

Purple blossoms. Photo: Ulla Hennig

I don’t know how it is with you, but happiness for me is no everlasting thing. I have work, I am in good health (knock on wood), I have some good friends, yes. But there are a lot of things to plan and organize, there are some people hard to bear with and up to now there was nothing that could be described as summer.

But there are those precious moments of happiness:

  • the walk through the park in the early morning when the air is fresh and the sky is still blue and without clouds;
  • the dark red roses on the way from the bus stop to the office;
  • the moment when a problem is solved which I was not sure about whether I could solve it or not;
  • listening to a wonderful piece of music on youtube while preparing a blog post for Squidoo music;
  • the smile on the face of a colleague.

It is so important to notice these moments of happiness, to keep them in your mind and to be thankful for them!

3 Blog posts which made me think

There are many blog posts with interesting information, and there are some which I read and then ask myself the question: how do I do it? Here are some of them:


Soccer Fever

It is the time of the Soccer World Championship, and tomorrow the German team will play against Serbia. I must admit, I am a soccer fan, and I like to watch as many matches as possible.

I guess some of you now shake their heads and think “crazy woman” or something similar. Well, if you tell me that you a basefall fan and watch as many baseball matches as you can I might react in the same way. But that is not the point.

The Soccer World Championship gets the people together: Every restaurant and beer bar has its tv-set, and people leave their flats and come together to watch the matches, Greece against Nigeria, France against Mexico, Southafrica against Uruguay. I remember the times when it was not usual for every family to have a tv, and people met at other people’s homes to watch tv. It was a social event. Now it is like that again.

By the way, in Germany we call that “public viewing” – to watch the matches in public. Not everybody knows that “public viewing” means something very different in the English language!

City Art


Mural paintings. Photo: Ulla Hennig

In Berlin there are quite a lot of people who spray on walls, cars, subway trains. Of course it is not legal, and often the result cannot be considered as something art-like.

On the other hand there are some street artists among those young kids. Just a few houses away there is a place where they can spray without having to fear the law. Every two weeks or so a piece of the wall is being painted over with white color, and then everyone can come and have a try.

Some of the results could be taken out of a comic strip or a manga – some of them are more abstract and sometimes remind me of the ornaments in a mosque. I think it is a wonderful thing that young kids who probably hate their art lessons at school can express themselves freely at this place.

Taking my Heart in my Hands

Taking photographs and uploading them to Flickr where they can be seen worldwide is one thing. In the beginning it was not easy for me and took some courage, but now it is nothing extraordinary.

Selecting photos for Zazzle products has been very difficult for me in the beginning. Would they be good enough to be shown on mugs and mousepads, bags and cards? I try to select them very carefully. Not every photo that I present on my Flickr account can be used for creating a Zazzle item.

And now I really took my heart in my hands and made the big jump – I selected one of my pastel paintings for Zazzle. Here it is:

Fighting Seagulls card
Fighting Seagulls by ullahennig
Shop for a card at zazzle
The product is created. Now I am waiting for the things to come…

The Book of Me

I am a regular follower of Havi Brooks’ Blog “The Fluent Self”, and more than once her blog posts inspire me to think about things in a new way.

Her “The Book of You” is such a blog post. Actually you have to read it for yourself, but what I get out of it is: Find out the things which do you good and write them down in this book. Write down the way you experiment on solving problems. Write down your experiences with the way you are experimenting.

I did something like that shortly after the death of my husband in February 2007. I wrote down how I tried to cope with the sudden loss of him. I wrote down the things which went through my head, but also how I planned to spend the weekend and how it worked (or not). I used the possibility to have a private blog for that. I’ve still got that blog, but haven’t written there for ages.

I am determined now to take it up again, to fill the Book of me with content. As it is a private blog you won’t be able to read it, but it may well be that some of it will appear at this place, in a way which maybe makes it useful /interesting / even inspiring for you as well.



Hydrangea. Photo: Ulla Hennig

On my way to work I pass several big wooden flower boxes with hydrangeas. Every year I want to take photos of them, but never make it. This year I did it! (I must admit that I did it with creating Zazzle products in my mind.)

The German word for hydrangea is “Hortensie”, and they come in all shades of pink and purple, even blueish. Enjoy!

Lilacs Mousepad

In a normal year May is one of the best months of the year in Berlin. The temperatures are going up, no heating necessary any more in your flat, and: the whole city is full of blooming lilacs. Lilacs in light purple, in deep purple and in white.

This year May has been an awful month – cold and wet. Of course the lilacs bloomed in spite of the cold weather. There is one lilac tree (bush? – we say “Fliederstrauch” in German which would mean “bush”) round the corner where I live. I watched it closely and hoped for some hours of sunshine to take a photo.

As you can see below I managed to do this, and being the owner of a Zazzle store I could not resist from creating some products with the photo. You are not, by any chance, in need of a colorful mousepad?

Decluttering books

Everytime I try to go past a bookstore I fail. I have to go in and have a look. No, I don’t want to buy something, I just want to have a look. But I could actually buy one, only one book. It has been a busy week, and I could reward myself.

But which book to choose? I love detective stories, and historical novels, and fantasy books, and … In the end I leave the store with two books. At home I look at my book shelves and sigh – they are all crammed with books.

Some of them I haven’t read for decades. I bought them in my twenties and kept them for the memories which are attached to them. Some of the books in my shelves were books which I haven’t read completely. The title of the book promised more interesting content than the book itself provided. I kept them because decluttering them made me feel ashamed of my lacking ability to assess the book properly.

But then I was seized by a decluttering attack. A few houses away from where I live is a social institution which collects books and other things and sells them for a low price. So my books would not be thrown in the trash can (something I cannot do with books), but offered for other people to read.

In the beginning it was very difficult to select a book for donation. But I asked myself if I would ever read that book (again), and after answering the question with “no” things went pretty easy. I got two plastic bags filled with books (they were all in a pretty good shape), and yesterday I parted with the last one.

Now I look at one of my shelves, and actually I’ve got a lot of place for new books. Ah well! Off to Amazon…