Wide Wide Wildblood World

Monday, December 20, 2010

No Desk for the Wicked

Translating Too Freely Condemns Violator to Five Years of Hard Labor.
Today was my fourth consecutive day of shoveling to keep the sidewalk free. Heart and lungs got a good workout and the exertion strengthed my will to see about writing a will the next day. Nobody else in the building volunteered so the first kid on the block pitched in alone. A few thanks from neighbor ladies and a bottle of wine from the condo administration were his reward. This was to be my final good deed of 2010. I started the year chipping ice on the other side of the parked cars to allow the water to reach the sewers. The day before this December chore, in a snowbound van just out of the picture to the left and purchased in Nimes, two dogs locked inside despite sub-freezing weather, barked without a break for about 20 minutes. A passerby called the police, but as the authorities arrived, the owner came and defrosted the animals. Tatort in der Roennebergstraße.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alan's First Haircut

This week I went to the barber shop for the first time in quite a while. I decided to take a camera so something besides vacationing could go on this blog. I wish I had a picture of Howard Hutchinson, the only barber I patronized from 1948 to 1963. He was a coin collector like myself, a vintage car buff and a police radio listener on Roosevelt Avenue in Mercerville, New Jersey. He wasn't my very first. I think my first trim may have been in the Villa Park section of Trenton, where I toddled before 1948. But at least the date has been preserved – December 8, 1945. My mother entered this in my baby book - “Good as gold. Chattered all the time. Daddy had to hold my hands.”

After being faithful so long to Hutch, I had a bunch of other hairdressers as I began to get more around than up in the world. In Bethlehem, Columbia, Krakow and St. Francisville, Brackenfell and Nuevo León. Ugo in Tuscany with a Communist newspaper in his shop. Several women scissor handlers. One was Karen, another Heidi (in an earlier blog item). A Marysia to whom I was loyal for several years, persistently tried to make a human being out of me. All three were amateurs. A Titiana and her crew of Figaro trainees less than a block from home. One in Braga to kill time while my women shopped. I walked past the entrance several times before I got up the nerve to try to communicate my desired look in Portuguese. I was not dying for a dyeing wanted to make that known. Unlike certain other members of my family, I prefer my natural color, which I contend is read. As evidence I cite Bob Pinto, who called me “Carrot Top” as he pumped a tiger into our 1940 Oldsmobile at Hamilton and Olden.

But for the past few years I have pretty much settled on Wolfgang in Pariser Straße. Master cutter Pierdzioch is a “hair designer.“ I wished he had not designed that little bare spot at the top of my busy street. Hutch was from the old school, in Philadelphia as I recall, and scoffed at the barbers who glorified themselves as stylists. Wolfgang always does a good job, winding up with a clean sweep. The only trouble with his place is that there is no bicycle rack real close.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Overweight on a Barrel of Fun

Alan has overdone it again. At the Laci Pince Csárda near Vászoly he and his traveling companion stopped their bikes at noon, September 5, 2009, for a meal. The wine cellar high above Lake Balaton was recommended by Vinociped's Gabor in his Balaton Uplands tour guide. The Polish-American travelers failed on Tuesday at the beginning of the six-day pedaling adventure to find the place. But on the way back to Tihany and Veszprem they had more luck. The tandem arrived just after 12 noon on Saturday and ordered Szürkebarát wine, a liter. Literally Gray Friend, aka Pinot Grigio. Marysia had veal with cream and sauerkraut and Alan selected beef stew. Further explanation in post below.

Drinks, Eats, Just Desserts

You can read the prices on the receipt. A retired translator, Alan was intrigued by the beer company slogan on the umbrellas used at the csarda. He took his dictionary from his saddlebags to check. His best, literal guess, after 10 months of studying Hungarian, was "As the environment, so the filling." When I got to Berlin In fact, the Budapest brewery, Dreher, translates it as: "It's what's inside that truly counts." And inside Alan, a full stomach served as his just dessert. The squashed barrel did not appreciate the calorie crush. Overall, the occasionally strenuous cycling tour was penz wise and pound foolish. Despite many missed many turns and some long hauls, the senior couple always made it to its assigned accommodation. Vinociped's Gyözö transported the luggage every day. After the Balaton week, Mrs. and Mr. Wildblood spent three days on the Vistula Bend in Visegrad, Szentendre and Budapest, then six more two-wheeling around the Neusiedler/Fertö Lake separating Hungary and Austria. Alan's bicycle odometer recorded 500 kilometers during the 16 days abroad. In the end, his scales registered a three-kilo elevation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bulls Jersey Retired After 17 Years

Due to holes under both arms, Alan's Bulls jersey was retired at the Stechlinsee-Grundschule in June 2009. Alan had been wearing the Chicago black shirt against the Whiteshirts in weekly matches at the elementary school gym since it was given to him by Joan and Jen Hoffman of the Windy City who visited the then-divided German capital in 1992. Hopefully only the suit top is being retired. Despite an ankle injury in mid-2008 and a bad knee collision in spring 2009, Alan wants to continue as a cager, but opponents in his age bracket are getting harder to find and, after a somewhat younger contestant suffered a heart attack, the Tuesday night turnout is nearing the point of extinction. The rag-bound Bulls are survived by two reserve black tops, one showing a Corsican pirate his wife has outgrown, and one left advertently by overnight guest Dirk Johnston from Perthshire, featuring Scotland's Famous Grouse.

Besides basketball, Alan continues to chalk up the kilometers on his bicycle and will try to update this blog when his odometer passes another thousand mark. A trip to Sardinia and Corsica this spring finds no illustration in this platform, the author having failed to get a pretty girl to pose with him, but another post will be due following some cycling in Hungary later in 2009.

Monday, February 02, 2009

After Barber Shops Closed for the Year

As midnight approached on the last evening of 2008. Heide Meyer, hostess at Haus Enzian in Brackenfell, a suburb of Cape Town, decided Alan was too much of a longbrow and begged to trim his facial hair. This was just one of the many services of the versatile Austrian national born in Czechia and her local-native husband, Emil, who served as barbecue chef and valet unparker. Now Alan was enabled to start 2009 with a tickle-free upper lip and an unobscured view of the must-see sites of southern Africa.

Five Flags Over Enzian

Before our arrival from the distant winter, Emil hastily hoisted four flags to represent his guests'nativity and complement his own country's emblem at the top of his pole. The wind from the South Atlantic responded on cue and unfurled the five cloth symbols long enough for a glorious combination of the colors of three continents to be captured and digitized. You are invited to study and admire the harmonious juxtaposition.

And Six Peoples Unfurled

We lined up vertically according to our original allegiance in the same order, Emil at the top for South Africa, then Belgian-from-birth Guy Penninck, followed by Polish-born sisters Maria and Ela née Stempak. Next is ex-Yank Alan Wildblood, and at the very bottom to flesh out Germany, Heid, of Sudentenland roots, obliging the architect of this page and relinquishing her schnitzel-and-edelweiss extraction for the length of the pose. The hostess was always eminently accommodating, and the Protea Heights B&B is highly and unreservedly recommended to travelers incarnating any and all colors.

Abdul Braked for All the Animals

Now, with no bushes to block my vision, I am out in the bush on a nocturnal game tour in Kruger National Park. I wasn't that enthused initially about traveling to South Africa and oogling the animals, but I changed my mind when I was acquainted with the wildebeests and various other wildbloods out on the range. Here I show the ranger who guided our tour a creature I have spotted. Although I asked several people several times, I never got the name of the ranger, one of only three females in the outfit. When we stopped to stretch our legs, only the male tourists emptied their bladders by the side of the road. Driver Abdul had his rifle at the ready in case anybody strayed too far. The photographer was Belgian bankerAndré Nysen, nephew-in-law, who made many a kill on the photo safari. Despite the January heat, I was ordered to wear long pants to avoid insect bites, but the the little beasts weren't biting that night.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

1400 and Counting

Since I last gave an account of myself, upon retirement, I hooked up my first odometer to my trusty cycle at home in Berlin, with help from my more technical half, and logged 1,280 kilometers. Then in Yorkshire it was going haywire and we decided it needed a new battery. BikeLine in Berlin had accomplished a replacement without losing the data, but the shop in Malton was a bit slower and the track record was lost. I did not have the manufacturer’s instructions so Humpty and all the Queen’s Yorkshiremen were unable to put it back together again. Finally, a week later, at highly recommended Babes & Bikes in Wadebridge, North Cornwall, a new cyclocompter was installed. By October 4 I had pedaled another 120 K. The photo shows my rigger Marysia and me securing our bikes on a very rainy evening so we could leave our stud-starred cottage home of one week to drive to a Cornwall retreat. The photographer is our friend and traveling companion, Ewa Madon, shown below with me enjoying a summer walk through the North Yorkshire heather that very same, fine day.

The march of time has been accelerated by travel. After our Danube bike tour, we helped install our daughter in Munich just in time for Oktoberfest. My wife and I attended shows on Rügen and in Nürnberg, a concert in Munich and a play in Berlin, all to see friends and relations perform. We were in Poland for Christmas, at Easter in Brussels for an extremely jocular civil wedding. March saw commuted to Krakow because of the medical emergency and death of my mother-in-law, Janina Stempak. We squeezed in long bike rides in Brandenburg, Vorpommern and Bavaria, logged some two-wheeled K’s in Graz and Amsterdam.
In my accumulating tenure as card-carrying pensioner I have managed only three times to obtain a modest senior-citizen discount. Such perks have gone out of style in Germany and I caused a scene trying to convince a Berlin bus driver to grant me an old-timer’s discount. However, one advantage of retirement was not denied me: being able to stay up late to witness the U.S. primaries and candidates’ debates, the Euro Cup soccer and Olympic basketball tournament. I just managed to find the time to learn enough Croatian to get by during a week with my spouse on the island of Vis. Some of those cycling kilometers were achieved by braving Airedale halfpipes,

hazarding a harrowing, mapless Slavonian ride in the descending gloom to the Hungarian border, during a drenching conquest of a Croatian mountain, and on a flat tire with my fiery Juliet in blistering Verona. In the autumn of my 2008 life I am attempting to acquire a modicum of Hungarian to enable me to pass as a Magyar descendant if I can coax my wife into a bike tour to Budapest in 2009.

That is a priority destination after our visits with Wildbloods in Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, South Wales and Bristol (see my Wildblood surname website) in fall 2007 and late summer 2008. My next report will probably include New Year’s in Cape Province.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Alan Retires Prematurely

On May 11 I fondly said farewell to Titelbild GmbH. The photo was taken in the morning just after I moved the frame to the red-letter day on the calendar in my office. The "dishonorable discharge" was celebrated at Brigantino da Giovanni in Berlin with family and 10 current and former translating and subtitling colleagues on May 9. I was on vacation in Bavaria, Austria, Slovakia, Czechia and Poland until May 31. My wife and I biked from beautiful Schärding near Passau to Bratislava with Polish friend Ewa Madon and a Mercerville and Steinert classmate, Gail Johnston Willis, and better half Jim. My official date of retirement after 47 years of service, without a single day off sick, to four companies - Lee Wildblood, Walter de Gruyter, Office of the Naval Advisor and Titelbild - was June 1, 2007. Now I will have more time for homemaking, genealogy and church history.