Good things come to those who wait.

When I was 16 or 17, back in the Eightees, one of my classmates gave me a recorded copy of an album by this band. U2 they were called, he said and I should give it a listen. Don’t remember what else he said, but I think it was something about them being different.

He was so right. I never had heard anything like it before. The album was “The Joshua Tree” and the music blew me away. The sound was earthy, archaic, and it made me uncomfortable. The words came directly from the soul, from the deep end, and what I heard scared me a bit. I wasn’t used to something like that at all. Back then I was a shy, highly introvert teenager and lightyears away from accepting my inner strength and letting it shine through to the open.

Listening to U2 was like diving into the dark corners of your soul, like having fought your demons, and won. It still is like a therapy session for me.

When I was a teenager there was no way my parents would allow me to go see them live, let alone pay for my ticket. I waited until I would be old enough to buy my own ticket. My Twenties came and went without a U2 ticket. The band graced my country with several shows over the years, without my participation. The reason being either lack of time or money.

In my late thirties I started trying to get a ticket to one of the shows. No such luck. My commitment wasn’t strong enough yet, so I waited.
In my early fourthies I finally took heart and ordered my first ticket. I was in England at the time and so British soil was called for. Glasgow, to be precise. I ordered, paid and waited for delivery. I waited… And waited…. No ticket arrived and when I called the number on the voucher I had received, my gut feeling turned into reality. The bloke on the other end didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, or he just said so to protect the criminals behind the scam.
To make up for my loss, the friend of a friend with connections bought a ticket for me. I waited. He lost it.

Cut to August 2010. U2 was in town again.
I hadn’t been among the lucky ones who had got a ticket and had given up on ever seeing them live. I decided to go to Vienna anyway, and soak up the atmosphere from outside the stadium. While I was reacquainting myself with my capital, a good friend called me and told me about a company giving away a few tickets. After many many many tries to get through the phone line I couldn’t believe my luck. I was to wait for a delivery guy on a well-known public square to bring me the ticket. I waited. I saw someone parading up and down the square holding up a sign, but he passed so quickly that I couldn’t approach him to ask if he was there for me until he disappeared in the crowd.
Later in the afternoon I went on my way to the venue, with a heavy heart for having missed another opportunity for a ticket.

My friend had instructed me before to go for it and try to get a ticket on location. “You never know” is not what I thought when a few steps into the venue a couple walked into my general direction, discreetly holding up a sign telling me they had tickets for sale. I paid more than face value for it and expected to look right into a police identification tag next thing. I didn’t. I felt a strange mix of elation, excitement and criminal guilt when I walked up to the entrance mentioned on the ticket.
I waited for the staff to take me to the side and politely tell me I had a fake ticket and would I please step aside. It didn’t happen.

Instead I found myself inside the arena a few minutes later and the sheer size of “the claw”, the name people had given the 360 stage, took my breath away. Only few people were around by then. It was cold and it rained during the appr. two hours wait for the show to kick off. About 20 minutes before showtime we started doing the La Ola wave and it went on and on without stopping. People went crazy, cheering nonstop until finally “Ground control to Major Tom…” from the speakers and a thick cloud of white smoke from the “spaceship” announced the band’s way to the stage.

A brilliant piece of technology, but one that behaved like a ballet dancer with a sparkling disco globe on top when it came alive in multiple colours and changing shapes. It was quite a sight, but it only helped to underline the music and wasn’t there for the sake of showing off.
I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found out that it’s all true what they say about U2 performing live. You feel like they play just for you, in a small club.
It was a magical evening with hair raising moments like 70.000 people singing “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” with Bono just standing there and listening in awe.

Good things come to those who wait. After 24 years of being a fan finally the wait was over.

x Ella

P.S.: U2 are currently touring the globe with the “Innocence and Experience” tour. Yours truly will be among the lucky attendants in Cologne, October 2015, and this time with a ticket bought regularly. 🙂


Der Weg ist das Ziel

The best equivalent I found for this proverb is “The journey is the reward.” and it already briefly explains a concept known as “slow travel”.
It doesn’t mean that you get out of it what you put into it, when it comes to being on the way, – either spiritually, or literally. On the contrary. Slow travel, as Dan Kieran illustrates in his book of the same name, has to do with letting go. Being alergic to air travels, he uses other, slower, means of transport to get to where he wants to go and found it much more rewarding than just getting from A to B on a plane.

Try and give up control yourself and you might just come to experience a journey like I had a few years back, in 2010, when two girls and I set out on a long weekend in Ireland to get our first glimpse ever of the Emerald Island.
We spent the best part of our stay in Dublin. Each day we were eager to get out of our very cheap – and filthy – room in a youth hostel which we shared with a guy way past his prime. The long pile of books he had stashed on the window sill told us that this establishment probably was more to him than a place to stay for the night.
We would stroll aimlessly about without making an effort to go see any sights. Being a huge fan of Dublin’s prominent sons, the members of U2, for more than 20 years, the town where it all started, was a bit of a holy ground for me. As I was in the company of two girls not sharing my passion for one particular band, I simply mentioned Dublin’s significance for me, but refrained from making it my own private pilgrimage.

This must have put a smile on the faces of the gods of Rock’n’Roll up in the everlasting air show, for, although I didn’t go searching for any U2-related spots on their home ground, they found me.
Walking around this or that corner, they were there – just like that, waiting for me to come by. For instance “Bonavox”, the hearing aid store Bono took his stage name from, about 40 years ago. Or the “Wall of fame”, the facade of a building, holding gigantic pictures of famous musicians – U2 among them. In a shopping centre I stumbled upon a life-size picture of Bono during shooting the video for “Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.”, one of my favourite songs by U2. It allowed me to pose with him although he wasn’t there. (Who would have thought he is about my height?! 🙂


We walked past the “Nude”, a restaurant owned and run by Bono’s brother. I imagined the band might be inside, sharing stories and laughter over a family meal. I had no idea that day, that the restaurant would close down three days after our stay and that my picture would actually become a historic document.
All those encounters weren’t planned, they literally happened on the way, as part of what treasure and rewards life has in store for you when you let go of control. My journey to Dublin took place only three months after I had been to my very first (and only) U2 concert ever. How I ended up there after trying to see their show since I became a fan in 1986 tells another story of letting go and just going with the flow, and is worth a blog of its own.

On the last day of our trip to Ireland we wanted to see a bit of the countryside south of Dublin and we decided to hire a car. Me being the only one who brought her driving license, the task of going for it fell upon me. The problem was that I had never driven on the left side of the road before. So, in a stroke of madness, we came up with the idea to share duty and split the task until we were out of town and able to swap seats. I was on the steering wheel, but the fact that everything was on the “wrong” side of the car, too, took up all of my attention, so that I needed the girl beside me to operate the gear shift with me saying when and her telling me when to step on the excelerator. The other girl helped me to focus my eyes to stay on the corect side of the road and which exit to take. It made for quite a nice adrenaline fix and we all cracked up about how we were like the blind leading the limping one across the street.
ImageWe had a wonderful day out with a glinting sea, a beach full of big sea shells (some of which became a mobile for one of my windows at home) and some lovely ravens sharing our lunch.

We arrived back at the hotel at nightfall, without adding a single scratch to the car already covered with dents from previous obvious first-time lefties. I was particularly proud that we managed to land at the door of our hotel without a map of the town and hence no clue how to get there.

The day was rounded by meeting two very sweet lads, a band in their own right by the name of “We cut corners”. They were friends with one of the girls and welcomed us as their guests into a – as it turned out, very posh, “members only” club behind an unspectacular door in a quiet side street. Inside there were thick carpets, a receptionist in the lobby and comfy sofas and armchairs all around. It looked more like a private sitting room than a restaurant/bar.

After a first round of drinks we spent some time in a bar on a different floor, which was on a terrace high above the streets. Then we headed for a smoking area on the same level. The room was filled with a party of approximately 20 people chatting and laughing. I took it all in and couldn’t believe my luck, when there, in the far end of the room, I spotted one of the main cast of my favourite TV-show (Being Human). It was the night of Halloween, of all days, and what better than come across your favourite vampire, when the undead mingle with the living? His name is Aidan Turner and he’s on the way to worldwide fame at the moment, starring as Kili in the current Hobbit-trilogy. He looked as adrorable as on screen, dressed equally cool as the vampire he played in the show. I stared at him from where my group was seated, only about six metres away, but didn’t dare to go over and talk to him or ask him to have a picture taken with him. He wouldn’t have minded, I’m sure, because he is known for being very kind to fans.

The night had already become magical for me by now, but on our way to “Workman’s Club”, where our hosts took us for a nightcap, I got one last gift to end our “magical mystery tour” of Ireland. Right around the corner of the club, what else was there but the “Clarence”, the hotel owned by the members of U2? It looks rather posh and so I didn’t dare walk in, because I wasn’t suitably dressed. It was just enough for me to have a look at it from outside.

And then we arrived at our ultimate destination for the night and for our journey. A long line of people waiting to be granted access to the promised land, had formed at the doors. Our lovely companions ignored the hostile comments from the people waiting and walked right up to the doorman. After exchanging a few words we were all ushered in, feeling like VIPs, leaving behind a crowd whistling and booing their frustration at us.

I have a picture of that night (together with a secret snapshot of Aidan Turner) to remind myself that it wasn’t all a figment of my imagination. “Paid with thanks”…..
The rest is silence.
x, Ella


by me.

For a little while it went on flying through white smoke that made all the sounds appear like wrapped up in cotton wool or muffled it like snow recently fallen from the sky. Very soon the smoke had an end and the grey gave way to a blue spreading as far as the sky. Down below on the ground there was none of this wideness, for when the people in this part of town were looking out of the window they saw nothing but the windows of other houses. If they bent down there were only streets and cars. If they bent their heads up they could see a piece of sky – but it was merely a piece. Some were less lucky and only saw a never-ending row of house fronts. So they stopped looking out of the windows. Many who worked in this part of town only saw bright white neon lights instead of daylight. The residential and administrative buildings were alternating with petrol stations with car wash, schools, churches and shopping centres. In one of them a little girl was sitting on a bar stool eating pasta. Because of the heat there hadn’t been much business in the shopping centre. Most of the people were probably staying at some swimming pool and the few guests that had come in to them, wanted to escape the heat for a moment with a cooled drink. Only a bit later would there be more business when the heat would have given way to a bearable warmth. Then the people would do their shopping until closing time and would tell the work day good-bye over a glass of wine and a piece of pizza. The other children of her class were at the outdoor pool or on holiday with their families. The little girl had propped up her head into her left hand and with the right one she shoved one fork with noodles after the other into her mouth without raising her head, while she let her legs slightly dangle about in the rhythm of her chewing. When she had finished, she carefully let her body glide from the bar stool, took the empty plate and put it into the dishwasher. When she heard her father call her name she turned round to him and saw him point his head towards one of the tables. She nodded and went over to clear away the empty dishes.

Her father was just forwarding the bill to one of the guests and telling him the amount. While waiting for the money he watched his daughter piling up plates and cutlery on the next table with her small hands and a highly concentrated look on her face. His beautiful Angelina! She had the same black hair and the same dark eyes like her mother and it gave him a little sting being reminded of her like now. A year before they had been sitting by her sickbed and since the funeral the eyes of his eight year old child had the grief-stricken look of an adult that had had a glimpse at Pandora’s Box. He forced himself to shake off that image and to concentrate on the man before him again.
“Did you enjoy it?” asked Angelina. The two addressed women, who had been absorbed in a chat about the past weekend briefly raised their heads and gave her an astonished look because they hadn’t seen the girl come to their table. “Oh, yeah, thanks. It was great” they said. When Angelina cautiously carried plates and cutlery to the dishwasher she could hear one of the women say, “And then he…” and the next moment both of them vigorously burst out laughing. The girl startled in alarm and almost dropped the cutlery on the floor. She barely managed to put the pile of plates onto the counter without dropping everything. While she was loading the dishwasher, adding rinsing agent and starting the cleansing process, her father was collecting the money from the table with the two women. Shortly after that they stood up and left the shop. Now that nobody left except her father, she asked him if she was allowed to go outside. He nodded and asked her to take care and not to go too far away.

Angelina loved watching the people from up here and seeing them walking in and out of the shops. She leaned over the railing and tried to imagine what the people had bought according to the size of the plastic and paper bags they were carrying. A little boy at the hand of his mother looked up to her, waved at her and pointed at something above her.
She waved back and lifted her head towards the direction the boy had indicated, and she saw a red balloon slowly sailing across the yard. She followed it with her eyes and gradually the adult expression on her face faded and she became once again what she was: a little girl. She smiled and started laughing. First it was only a tiny coughing, but then it grew into a laugh that only children have. It rolled and chortled – like blebs bubbling up from the deep ocean into the light. She was still laughing when the balloon had already disappeared out of sight.

The sun meanwhile cast long shadows between the trees and houses. The people in town were washing the dishes, coming home from work and opening their mail. The children put on their inline skates and played soccer on the streets.Old ladies were walking their dogs.

In a calm side street that was lined by trees on both sides a man in loud red working clothes was cleaning the pavement. He could still feel the heat of the day emanating from the asphalt. He lowered his broom and leaned on one of the fences that were there to protect the villas behind them from inquisitive glances. The man took off his chunky working-gloves and dropped them on the ground. Then he reached for his little drinking bottle that he had attached to his belt. When he threw back his head and drank he saw little red flakes above him sailing down like rose petals. He put down the drinking bottle and with a frown he looked up once more. Autumn was no doubt early this year, he thought while he was picking one of the flakes that had landed on his arm. “Strange!” he said to himself and asked himself where the balloon had suddenly appeared out of the blue and how it had burst. He hadn’t heard a bang. “Hm!” he made, shaking his head. Then he shrug his shoulders and went about collecting his working tools.

…………THE END…………..


Ever had one of those weird days where you feel high from your own body’s overflow of endorphins?

I still can recall when there was such a day for me. Tons of ideas rushed through my head, I had so much energy that I prepared songs for my music classes 5 months ahead, revised songs I needed to learn for a choir performance, travelled to moments of my life I hadn’t been thinking about in years and turned over philosophical issues in my mind such as the way to happiness, or what to pack for a trip I was going to do, all in one go.

I’ve known days like that when there is a full moon. Call it lunacy if you will, but sometimes when there is a full moon I am extra creative and think of new ways to decorate my flat, I write long philosophical letters, or I get ideas for new stories.

The problem is that there was no full moon that day and that the rush of adrenaline didn’t stop at 11 when I usually call it a day. It didn’t stop at 1 and 2 and went on until half 5 in the morning when I fell asleep and woke up three hours later. The next day I waited for my body to feel the sleep deprivation and give in during lunch as usually on such an occasion. It didn’t. Another day later I should have got up early and go on a hiking trip, but I was so exhausted that I woke up an hour late. I asked myself when on Earth I had switched off the alarm. I hadn’t, as I found out after checking. I must have slept like a log before, but never ever had I not even heard the alarm go off. Weird, people…

When my eyes were open for just about two seconds the person who wanted to give me a lift to the meeting point called and after my brief apologies that there was no way I would make it, no one was expecting me anywhere and suddenly I had a day free of all obligations lying before me. Just think of the possibilities! Doing whatever you pleased, having a nice long bath, dying your hair, having another nap, go on a hiking tour on your own, read the whole day, do nothing.

That’s just about what I did. Spending a day with myself and it was great.

I wonder what your own day off might look like…



Have you ever tried to find someone to share your life with? A comrade, a friend, a lover – someone to walk with you, no matter what?

I have. I not only tried. I desperately tried. I got obsessed with it and used almost every possible means under the sun that I could think of for over almost twenty years, to find my significant other.
I thought I could go about it like finding a new flat, methodically and with dedication, then the rest would follow suit. Oh boy, was I wrong. What I got instead was a lot of heartache.
I just didn’t know then what I know now: the more you seek love, the more it flees from you.

Friends who I misused for having to fulfill my needs, I lied to you to make you like me. I pretended to have interest in you, when often I only thought of the next thing to say to make me appear interesting in your eyes. I sometimes exaggerated my enthusiasm for you to make you believe I liked many things you appreciate, in order to achieve your appreciation for me.
I sometimes changed like a chameleon to become what I thought you liked, and lost my self-esteem in the process. I was blind to that, but now I see, and I apologize to all of you. There’s no need to spell out your names – you know who you are .

Inspiration to change my ways came to me through a man who was born in the year man set foot on the moon for the first time. When Neil Armstrong took “A small step for a man…” I was lying in my cradle, only a few months old. The fact that I was born the same year that man landed on the moon always made me kind of proud and gave me a sense of that I can reach for the stars, too, one day.

A month ago a fellow Austrian, born in 1969 like myself, did something equally breathtaking than Neil Armstrong 43 years back. He looked like an astronaut when his whole preparation stretched over years came to a close. He did what no one had done before. He boldly went where no one had been before in a balloon. Ever. I got glued to the TV and followed hours of footage on the day of his jump and being too little for the landing on the moon I got the next best thing to that, an equally fascinating event and I was there to hold my breath with the rest of the world in awe, being proud as punch that he comes from my country, a tiny dot on the face of the Earth. Thanks Felix! 🙂

But mostly I got the input for my new mission from a book that I recently found when searching for answers. The student will find the master, when he’s ready for him…

Byron Katie is my new master now. Her book “I need your love. Is that true?” shows how to let go of the attempt to find love without even looking for it. It’s to do with improving the relationship to the person closest to you: yourself, by taking a thorough look at the way your thoughts lead you to believe that what you think must be the truth. You think, therefore you are, right? Wrong.
Katie teaches you how to change your perspective by turning around your statements and looking at them from different angles by asking yourself some very simple questions.

Like many good things in life it is hard to explain, but it works.
I’m only through a third of the book by now and yet I can already feel the wind catching up beneath my wings.

I feel I’m really on to something here. Finding love without even looking for it. I’ve never done that. I trained for the task over the past two decades or so. I had my share of beats on the head and I might be able to fill an entire hospital ward with one patient for each heartache in my life.
All of that has made me stronger. My muscles have grown and my senses are finely tuned.

I’m on new ground now. Breathing is getting harder, the door to the world outside my capsule is open… I’ve let go of the handles on either side of my hands…

I can feel my feet itching already…

A small step for a man…

“I’m coming home now…”

jumpjump fb

The Red Balloon (Part 3)

By Me.


A breeze caught the balloon and blew it away from the house and the chimney sweep. It flew over small houses that were surrounded by trees and meadows and over big buildings. Some of them had swimming pools on the roof tops or green gardens in which tiny people were moving about. In front of some buildings there were loads of cars looking like toys.

Then the balloon flew over a lot of high chimneys, and although it was midsummer and nobody had to use their heating, there was thick white and grey smoke rising up from them that didn’t let the sun come through.
Amid those houses an old woman was sitting by the window and gloomily staring into space. When she moved here with her husband more than 50 years ago, the factory had only consisted of a single workshop and a small administrative building. She didn’t mind living only a few streets away with him. So her husband could get there easily on foot and be back home quickly after work. She could walk into the wood in front of the house with the children and while hanging up the washing she could hear woodpeckers and cuckoos.
In the course of time the wood was cut down by and by. Where they had formerly fed the ducks by the small pond in the wood and where the children had learnt ice skating, there was now a factory shop and the view of that grey concrete block reminded her daily that she had lost more than birds’ twittering and the smell of fir trees.

The factory had brought them money for food and clothing and coals for the winter. But in exchange it had taken the father from them. Bit by bit. He had had to do overtime more and more often – they were to understand, he had said, the company was a growing business and therefore every hand was needed. The family understood. The price for it was that they only rarely saw him. And then they never saw him at all. While a machine was being set up a heavy steel frame had plunged from the transport crane and buried him under it. The company had been extremely generous with soothing words and financial settlements and they had granted her the right to stay in her old flat for the rest of her life. Her only reason for taking the offer was the satisfaction she felt over the fact that sooner or later they would come to regret letting her live there. When one day her house was standing amidst the factory premises she was the one who regretted it. But she had grown too old to move somewhere else and her three children had long since scattered into every direction and created their own families.

Now was her 75th birthday and she was waiting for the arrival of her daughter, her son-in-law and their wayward children. The last thing she heard of her two sons had been the announcement to immigrate to America to found a company together. That had been 15 years ago. Fifteen years like a day, she mused, while absent-mindedly staring at the chimneys of the factory.

Suddenly she saw a bright red balloon emerging from the grey smoke. It was whirling through the stream of air coming out of the chimneys high up in the air and when it had left the cloud of smoke it slowly sailed towards the old woman’s house. She made big eyes and watched it amazed and fascinated. The small red dot of colour amidst this area dominated by grey was as if someone had planted a field covered with poppies right in front of her window. All of a sudden the woman felt as if the dark shadows had been wiped off her mind and a smile sneaked into the corners of her mouth that spread onto her eyes and finally across her whole face.
Then the woman heard the doorbell ring and turned away from the window to answer the door. She could only speechlessly throw her hands up in the air in surprise, because not only could she see her daughter but her sons with their families cuddled up in the stairway. When they fell into each other’s arms kissing and hugging, the red balloon was long off and away.

~To be continued…~

Go back to part 2 –> here

Random acts of kindness

Humanity is always good for a surprise. You only believe what you see with your own eyes, huh? Well, then you are in for a surprise… 🙂

The other day I read the story of this great blogger. She is a student on the opposite end of rich, but with a deep and rich inner life that she shares with her many readers. She has chosen to experience one thousand days of being single (that’s also the name of her blog).
One very sad day her laptop died and she let her readers know there probably wouldn’t be any entries from her any time soon, until she would be able to buy a new computer.

When I wrote the first draft for this blog entry (yesterday) I typed away directly out of wordpress. I never do that, because I always save everything somewhere else before I publish it. Well, yesterday I did and there was a new menu point I hadn’t noticed before. So I tried it.


I realised instantly I had a malfunction when my complete text – two hours worth of typing and getting my head round the right words – had gone and the text field was blank. I could press the back-button all I wanted, but my text wouldn’t reappear.
So after a few minutes of using curses and swear words I had to accept the fact I was going to have to let it go.

Now, the next morning, after a good sleep, I think this a very useful and suitable instant given the topic for this blog. Although I only suffered on a very low scale compared to this blogger I mentioned, I now can explain to you much better how she felt when her computer crashed and took thousands of pictures, countless written texts, in fact her life as an author as well as a student with it.

After some time without word of her there was a new entry in which she wrote about a very nice friend of hers who told her to go to a store and would she please choose a shiny new mac and he paid for it, so that she could go on writing and doing research for her academic life. Just like that.

Wow! I thought. I wish something like that happened to me….

And then it hit me that it already had.

Many moons ago, when my life was bumpy and difficult I experienced a very long period of being unemployed. I had to think twice if I could afford a bar of chocolate (I kid you not) and became very skilled in creating something to eat from an almost empty fridge.
One day a very nice couple I know took me to the side and passed me a banknote of the kind I hadn’t seen quite a while and said they had decided I should have it. Just like that. I literally stood there speechless and with a gaping mouth. They didn’t make a fuss about it or expect anything from me in return. They just wanted me to take it.

Wow, right?

Humanity is always good for a surprise…

Like in June 2009, when I was on my way back from an eight months stay in England. My flight included a long stop over in Cologne. I felt miserable from very nasty monthly cramps at the edge of being sick, combined with farewell to a future in England that didn’t work out as planned and an uncertain future ahead of me.

Time dragged along and although I wasn’t hungry I had to put something into my empty stomach. I had to rely on my British debit card because my Austrian one had expired during my stay and could only be renewed with a new job in hand, which I didn’t have yet.
I bought a sandwich and when I paid the waitress said that something was not quite alright with it. It had worked, but only just.
After some more time I got really hungry. I hadn’t eaten properly all day because of the cramps and as I was still a long way from staying at my cousin’s place for the first weeks and beginning to feel sick, I decided to go for another sandwich. I went to the cash desk and secretly prayed to all heavens to let it work again. I typed in my code and immediately got an error message.

Suddenly my feet felt like lead and my mouth went dry. The fact that I had just left behind my home of eight months and didn’t have a new home yet, technically made me a homeless person, but I had never felt like one up to that moment at the cash desk of that cafe at Cologne Airport.
I can only imagine what I must have looked like. Probably a lot like The Little Match Girl when she dreamt of all the Christmas presents and dinners laid out before her at arm’s length.
The pain and desperation when I had to accept the fact that I could not touch the things so close at hand must have shown on my face when I shoved the sandwich over to the man at the counter, admitting that I had to leave it there. He stared at me and contemplated the situation for a long moment.

And then he said “That’s alright. Keep it. Just for once.”

I thought I had misheard him and asked him to come again, which he did. 🙂 I couldn’t believe my luck and felt like he had just presented me with a six-course dinner with lobster and Beluga caviar and quietly cried a little when I ate it. It’s a shame I didn’t write down the name of the man or the cafe, in order to return the favour with a donation for a person in need next time.

I could add many more stories like those, not to do with money, but heartwarming all the same and they all really happened to me.

Like the uplifting experience I got from treating myself to a particularly nice box of chocolates yesterday (just because I’m worth it… :-)…). Picture a heaven for guilty pleasures full of handmade chocolates in all shades and flavours and a male version of Juliette Binoche in “Chocolat” to know what I’m talking about.
A very charming shop owner he handed me the box suitable for me – “the best thing you’ve ever had” he said when asked what was in there. While I waited for him to bag it he said “There! You look like you could use a kiss” and passed me a chocolate from a compartment saying “Have you already been kissed today?”

I wish a picture could also convey the feeling you get from putting one of those creamy little cylinders into your mouth and letting it melt on your tongue. But if you close your eyes and concentrate….

There! One for you, one for me.

Do you feel the fruit? And the touch of Sherry?

See! It works… 🙂

Be kind!
x, Ella

The red balloon (part 2)

long time no see… Well, I’ve been a bit lazy recently.

But here it is –  part two of my story “The red balloon”. In case you haven’t been around when I started it, you’ll find part 1 here

Here we go…


By Me.

At the same time, not far away, the skylight of a house opened. A hand appeared that placed a work bag on the roof. The roof was almost flat, which was why the man had chosen it to make his lunch break here on his tour round the neighbourhood.
The man had once been a computer specialist. He had had loads of appointments and one meeting after the other on a daily basis, where they were constantly talking about how the company could be run even more profitable, which people could be economized and how new customers would be recruited. Back then the man had had much more money than now, a 15-hour-day – and gastric ulcer. The evening he came home and found his wife and children packing, a lever switched in his head and he understood at last.

Previously he had been in charge of keeping computer networks going and removing jams in the data flow. What he was doing now was somewhat not unlike his work then. It is true that he was operating on a significantly smaller scale now, but in exchange he didn’t have the feeling anymore that his life was lived by someone else. In the past his work contributed to making our world even faster on the way dashing into its future and he watched people being overtaken by their lives instead of living them.
When he had finished cleaning a chimney now, he was aware of the fact that he had contributed to making people settle down in front of the fireplace to reach out their arms for the warmth of the fire, to read a book, to write a letter, to tickle the dog or to watch the flames while listening to their inner voice.

His former colleagues had only smiled injudiciously at his leaving. Whenever he met one of them on the street now, they nodded at each other silently and he was always the only one smiling. But when he was wearing his professional attire and they didn’t recognize his sooty face, he mostly saw them smiling and grabbing a button on their shirts or jackets with a twinkle, assuming it would bring them luck.

The man climbed out of the skylight. Leaning on a chimney with a content sigh he settled down on the rooftop. He closed his eyes and deeply breathed in and out a few times to fill his lungs with fresh air. For a moment he listened to the sounds coming through to him from the town humming beneath him. Then he heard that a bird must have settled down next to him and was pattering about on the rooftop. He opened his eyes and watched a sparrow hopping here and there several times and then it became airborne and flew off to a group of sparrows on another roof after chirping loudly to call the attention of its colleagues.

The man fetched a sandwich from his bag and poured coffee into a mug from a vacuum flask. While he was eating he let his eye wander into the distance and rest on the rooftops around him.

Suddenly he saw something red peering through a gap between two small chimneys on a house nearby. He carefully went up to it and saw that it was a balloon that was caught on the chimney, leaning into the wind. The man viewed it and smiled to himself. A moment later he reached into a pocket and produced a mobile phone wrapped up in a plastic envelope to protect it from dirt. He took it out and crouched beside the balloon so that it was about the level of his head. Then he held the telephone out in front of him like a camera and pressed a button. The resulting picture was sent to his wife together with a note (“Love you! A.”). She was at home sitting on the computer in their shared office, working on an article for her newspaper column. Just as he had wrapped the mobile phone in its envelope again and put it back to his pocket and wanted to unhitch the balloon from the chimney, he felt his telephone vibrate shortly and took it out once more. He opened the file that his wife had sent him for an answer. “We love you too!” was written under the picture she had sent him of her and their two children who had just come home from school.
The man was totally absorbed in the view of his three beautiful women when the wind tore the balloon loose from the chimney and carried it away.

To be continued…

The bare necessities

While I was enjoying the amenities of my local outpatient clinic recently (today) I had quite some time to tend to my own thoughts.
Not being distracted by a caring family member (they all live hundreds of kilometres further west) or a caring lover (don’t have one) trying to chat away my pain, I was reduced to staring to the ceiling from a hospital bed and to the opposite wall.

I had managed to hurt my shoulder just by stretching to the left in my bed after waking up in the morning and when I arrived in the clinic, the hospital had not yet properly woken up in that part of the building. Everything was quiet and lonely except for 2 medical staff people inside the examination room they rolled me into in a wheel chair.

When you are reduced to waiting for the medical proceedings to be performed you get a feeling for the small things in life. As the pain starts to fade and time drags along you notice the dripping tap in the room which makes a sound like somebody was constantly cracking their knuckles for fun. Very appropriate when you wait for an orthopedic doctor to examine your maybe dislocated spine. As if I needed someone to hammer home the fact that I had moved unnecessarily stupid this morning.

You notice the poster opposite you informing you of ways to replace damaged orthopedic joints. Not yet, thank you very much.

After a while on a hospital bed and changing over to a bit more comfortable chair (you don’t want to experience not knowing how to lie or sit, believe me) a doctor arrived, or at least he looked like one. He had barely condescended from his God-in-white-heaven to greet me and hold out his hand to me to tip the scales of a time measuring device when he already turned to the nurse asking what we had here, not even pulling back his hand when I would be done shaking it.

I suspect he is one of those who despise being reminded of lesser beings known as patients, who probably take him out of riding one of his pricy cars / boats / horses or whatever the fame of his profession brings about. He informed me I was about to get x-rayed now, before he walked away to his morning staff meeting.
After the x-ray an hour passed without him coming back again. Slowly more and more staff began shuffling along and the day routine began. Patients were brought into the room next to mine and I heard bits and pieces of conversation, got glimpses of plastered legs and once a very distinct smell of some kind of liquid stung my nose and almost made me sick. Probably antiseptic.

At that point I was no longer a person fully in control of her wit and dignity. I had melded into the chair and had become invisible. I had turned into furniture. At least to some people in white walking past me like I wasn’t there. Or to the woman standing just 2 feet away from me at a computer terminal to look up something for a paramedic next to her. In a casual chatty tone niceties were exchanged that could pass as a tiny bit flirty. When a man in white joined them he asked the woman if the wedding dress fit and she declared with a beaming face and a little squeal and excited jump that it did fit perfectly. I just managed to avoid making myself noticeable by not saying “Congratulations!” to the soon to be bride.
I felt like prying on them, but in a good way. Like watching the characters of “Grey’s Anatomy” having a jolly conversation in the cafeteria.

The english word “patient” for an ill person wasn’t picked unwisely. I still had nothing to do but to guess the rank of the arriving personnel by the level of attention they showed me. I privately assumed that the higher up in the ranks the less need they felt to deal with a “person” as opposed to “a broken leg” or “the dislocated joint”. I’m sure that’s not true, but my private little game neither did any harm to the doctors I secretly degraded to nurses for greeting me in a friendly way, nor to nurses who I promoted to doctors for giving me the cold shoulder.
In every patient’s career there comes the point where the pain is bearable enough for him to become aware of his appearance. I have to admit that I’m not a very skilled emergency patient, because fortunately I have only spent very little time in hospitals. So when I managed to get out of bed somehow just seconds before the paramedics smashed a window in my locked door to come and get me, I was too taken by the pain in my shoulder to think of how I looked.
Although the fact of suddenly having four men in my bedroom who were supporting my every move with their strong hands made me a little bit nervous. Being not a very experienced hospital patient I did as I was told by the obviously most experienced medic (and the most handsome, by the way) and just grabbed the next best jumper to put on with my pyjamas, and a pair of shoes before they carried me down three floors like the Queen of Sheba and during the five-minute drive to the hospital the two guys doing civil service kept an eye on me and sweetly checked every ten seconds if I was having all I needed.

I wish I had paid more attention to my attire before we left my house. When I had enough time later it dawned on me that I hadn’t picked the most stylish outfit at all and when a taxi driver came to pick me up three hours after my arrival I made myself believe I was dressed in nice day clothes and thankfully the taxi driver politely pretended not noticing my mismatched pyjama/jumper combination and my deranged hairstyle and casually talked to me like I was on my way back from a shopping trip.

You may say that looks don’t matter in the face of suffering. They don’t. As long as the pain lasts, that is. But it’s astounding how quickly you switch back to being vain. Well, at least a little bit.

P.S.: Thank God my spine is as beautiful and well as ever. I’ve “only” got a pulled muscle and will be as good as new soon. But I really have to take up doing more sports…

P.P.S.: The doctor who first greeted me never showed up again, plus he forgot to mention to the staff taking over the day shift, that I was there at all, thereby adding a bit more to my waiting schedule and proving my first impression of him right. So much for “never judge a book by its cover”. 😉

Be spicy!
x Ella


What is it with some people’s obsession with their hair? The British seem to be especially fond of it as I discovered during a year in England. The tiny town I lived in boasted no less than 37 hairdressers. There seemed to be one every 10 feet or so, but certainly around every possible corner.
Some of them adding to the tradition of naming your business with a pun in words. Just a bit up the road from my house there was a Chinese takeaway called “Wok this way” and our local, the “Nobody Inn”. And of course “Blade runners”, one of the many hairdressers in town.

O say, can you see my eyes,
if you can, then my hair’s too short.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I don’t care for my hair, because I do. I’m not one who says that you have to stay with the same hairdresser all your life. I cheated on a fair share of my respective hairdressers to be rewarded with a fresh approach to my hairstyle. In one case I wish I hadn’t attempted something new.

It was one of the 37 who called themselves “stylists” and I had the dubious pleasure to deal with a woman who worked as skilfully as a bulldozer. She went about her business with the enthusiasm she may have mustered for harvesting a bunch of chives in her front garden.
My mum taught me to endure pain without protesting. Be it a salty soup in a restaurant, a theatre seat behind a column or incapable service personnel. “Close your eyes and think of England” That’s what she would have told me, had she known anything about British history. You didn’t complain. You just endured it.

“This, too, shall pass.” is what I told myself. I didn’t complain, I sat there and let it pass. I had told her I wanted my hair to be spiky, but when she had finished I looked duller than a rat drenched in brine. I was even brave enough to pay for the crime the woman had done to my head. I gave my best impersonation of a happy customer and dashed home and up  two flights of stairs and into the bathroom.
I fetched the scissors and furiously started doing what the woman’s job should have been. I took away bits here and there and it’s probably only the fact that I had tried that before in days when I was used to postponing going to the hairdresser as long as I could due to monetary reasons, that I didn’t end up all bold. I was really pleased with the result.

But, kids: Do not try this at home! 🙂

I’m happy to say that meanwhile I have found the hairstylist of my dreams who provided me with the best hairstyle I’ve ever had and I plan to stay for a while.

Be spicy!
Ella, x