Me and La Corona

I have a strange relationship with this novel corona virus. The virus first broke out in December in a Chinese city. I was in China, visiting my nephew who lives in the New Territories just forty-five minutes outside of Hong Kong. Then my sister and I flew to Mumbai, India for ten days. From there I flew to Germany for a few weeks before climbing back on another plane and heading to Costa Rica and Panama at the end of January. The pandemic and I had been circling one another around the globe for quite some time.

I got home at the start of March, finishing my longest concentrated period of traveling ever. It’s been about three weeks since the lockdown began. I thought I was coming back to my old routines after being on three different continents.

There were things I’d been meditating on while I was away. What did I want to do with my life when I got home again? Where should I focus? Instead, I’ve gone inward. I don’t mean contracting, or shrinking… I’m home, but the world I planned to return to is gone. Is it gone for another month? Longer? Forever? How do I mark the transition? Yeah, I feel myself going inward. This is the planet’s new milestone: before the virus, and after.

How can we honor earlier milestones? April 1st marked 28 years that I’ve been in Europe. A plane left America on March 31st twenty-eight years ago and landed in Frankfurt on April Fool’s Day. I’ve appreciated the joke (the joke on me, that is!) ever since.

This year is different. I’ve pretty much lost all concept of what day it is, much less what day of the month. The lockdown seems like it’s only lasted a few days – or an eternity. Such a long time; such a short time.

The other night I had no idea what the date was, the 3rd of April? The 4th? Maybe the 5th already? I thought it was the 5th, and that meant that for the first time I’d forgotten when our wedding anniversary rolled around. So I asked Uwe, “Isn’t today the 5th? Do you know?”

He had to check. “Sunday’s the 5th,” he answered. Uwe hadn’t seen the date creep up on us either.

After we established what day it was, we watched a film. It was my turn to pick, because we have to be really fair about this whole whose-turn-is-it-to-choose thing, there are so few things we can choose right now! I settled on The Tailor of Panama. It seemed like a good night for an escapist Le Carré thriller, because really his plots and writing are so damned good. I love his books but find him depressing, knowing that he describes a world all too close. Never mind. Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis and Pierce Brosnan are brilliant, you feel the relish they bring to their roles, I mean really they’re fantastic, and so is the film. The characters are all chasing lies, and money, and bodies: it’s pure escapism.

Nothing like the way the virus and I still play tag. I’m not going to be coming out for a while to see if it’s still waiting for me though.

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2020. A To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you try to comment in the wordpress.com reader and get the message “Sorry – there was a problem posting your comment”, click on the title of this post to get to jadicampbell.com and post your comment there. Sorry for the ongoing problem.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

The Animal Kingdom: 33

We’ve reached Installment #33 of my blog thread describing what to call groups of animals … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. How did the farrow fare?
  2. The ballet performed a water ballet.
  3. Oh, no! The piddle piddled again!
  4. The rumpus caused quite a rumpus.
  5. The circus is no circus.
  6. The brace braced itself against the leash’s leash.
Braces and leashes, Montréal, Canada
  1. Farrow of piglets
  2. Ballet of swans
  3. Piddle of puppies
  4. Rumpus of baboons [1]
  5. Circus of puffins
  6. Brace (2), or leash (3) of dogs [2]
Farrow, Sagaing, Burma

NOTES: [1] Hooray! Baboons are listed as “Least threatened”. I am overjoyed when I can list a species as not about to go extinct. African Wildlife Foundation [2] A brace refers to 2 dogs. A leash of dogs is 3 in number.  © Jadi Campbell 2017. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Fun animal names from en.wiktionary.orgwww.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you try to comment in the wordpress.com reader and get the message “Sorry – there was a problem posting your comment”, click on the title of this post to get to jadicampbell.com and post your comment there. Sorry for the ongoing problem.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Tsunami Cowboys is Longlisted!

My second novel Tsunami Cowboys was just named a semifinalist in the ScreenCraft Cinematic Book competition. Over 1,200 books were considered. Here is the official notice. Click to go to the link and see the list of books still in the running, including mine!

Announcing the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition Semifinalists 

Hong Kong: Popo and the Frogs, Part 2

The people of Hong Kong are caught in a bind. The stand offs between the government and the young people protesting to keep their freedoms show no signs of ending anytime soon. Tourism is way down, as much as 70% in some parts of the city.

But even as their businesses suffer, signs abound that the inhabitants support the students and what they fight for. The name Popo and a drawing of a pig represent the police. The frog is a symbol of the protestors. After my nephew pointed out their depictions to me, I began spotting them in shops and windows and walls everywhere.

On the back wall of this tiny bottle shop…
… is a rare sign of Popo and protester enjoying holiday cheer together

Their images pop up in unexpected places. We went into an electronics shop and some of the television monitors on sale were decorated with Popo and frogs.

This small cafe had a sign quietly propped against their outside wall. I actually turned around and walked back down the street to take a better look at it.

Frogs adorn metro buildings and elevators.

Graffiti over the graffiti

Just before Christmas, bags and t-shirts with the frog logo suddenly appeared. They vanished a few days later.

Much of the street graffiti is grimmer.

“Wanted for violent deadly crimes”: the police, aka Popo
Inside one of Hong Kongs many walkways above street level
The police demanded that everyone stop wearing the face masks used for bad air days. That way they could more easily identify protesters. The police I saw all wore masks hiding the lower halves of their own faces

A special anger is reserved for Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong politician who since 2017 serves as the 4th and current Chief Executive of Hong Kong. She is seen as serving China, rather than the people of Hong Kong.

Note the mainland China antenna attached to Carrie Lam’s ear

The government has deliberately blocked streets with barricades to hinder protests.

The decision of the police to use tear gas and pepper spray caused more protests.

I flew home with a deep, deep sadness that this incredible, wonderful, vibrant city is in such turmoil. This was my fifth visit to Hong Kong. I don’t want it to be my last.

Click here for a complete list of the December 2019 protests on Wikipedia

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2020. To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. To learn more about the reasons for the protests, go here: Hong Kong protests, CNN 

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Hong Kong: Popo and the Frogs, Part 1

Hong Kong at Christmas is exciting. This vibrant city has an added air of glamour to celebrate the holidays. But there are still quiet corners nearby. I enjoyed gorgeous waterfront views where I stayed with my sister and nephew in Sai Kung.

In just 40 minutes we could be in the city. In the days before Christmas we visited the Flower Market where a man bought a bouquet of roses bigger than he was,

and explored a street stocked with every kitchen gadget known to cookdom.

I was amused by the street for home aquariums!

I felt bad for the goldfish though

As always, Hong Kong was filled with billboards advertising food and high-end luxury items.

The metro station underneath this glamorous ad is badly defaced

But when I looked again, the graffiti and damage from last year’s protests were everywhere.  The government under Carrie Lam  allowed the police to commandeer MTR (Mass Transit Railway) train cars or reroute trains so they bypassed stops where protesters planned to gather. Since the young people were being hindered, they decided to prevent the police from moving freely, too. And once this happened, the demonstrations took a turn. Hong Kong’s superb transit system became a casualty of the ongoing unrest.

Ticket machines inside stations were vandalized. Strategic stations have been repeatedly shut down. We passed through the Mong Kok station less than an hour before it was set on fire Christmas Eve. The knots of heavily armed riot police (Popo) we saw ended up in street fights with the Frogs (the protesters).

All these machines have been smashed
Traffic lights are damaged
The bank is open for business with a temporary facade, while the street’s bricks are gone

 

 

The Bank of China and the Construction Bank of China continue to be targeted. Their glass facades are smashed, the sidewalks emptied of the bricks used by protesters. In places bricks are now literally glued into the sidewalk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The protesters have five demands.

  1. For the protests not to be characterised as a “riot”
  2. Amnesty for arrested protesters
  3. An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
  4. Implementation of complete, universal suffrage
  5. Withdrawal of a bill introduced in April of last year, which triggered the first protests. It would have allowed suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China under certain circumstances. The bill was finally withdrawn in October 2019. This has not placated the anger of the mostly young students fighting to maintain Hong Kong autonomy. They want all five  demands to be met.

Graffiti and protest signs go up more quickly than the government can remove them. In my next post I have photos of Popo and the Frogs, the police and the protesters, and how they are represented. See you then.

Click here for a complete list of the December 2019 protests on Wikipedia

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2020. To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. To learn more about the reasons for the protests, go here: Hong Kong protests, CNN 

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Let Them Eat – Elk?

Tradition is a fine thing. I’ve hung on to Thanksgiving even though I live overseas. Actually, I hang onto the holiday probably because I live overseas. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas.

The Annual Eating of the Elk tastes as good as it looks

Our traditions include what I grandly call The Annual Eating of the Elk. The Germans involved in this ritual just refer to it as Elchessen, or the Elk Meal. Whatever.

For years, the Spousal Unit spent two weeks out of every single December, January, February and March up in northern Sweden. The Artic Circle in the dead of winter doesn’t offer much in the way of culinary pleasures. The highlights were these:

  • Going out for pizza in a pizza parlor run by two Iranian refugees who had fled SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, and ended up staying. The pizza was meh but every order came with a free dish of cabbage cole slaw. Because cole slaw is traditional? Because cole slaw is Italian? Because cole slaw provides a desperately needed source of Vitamin C?
  • Fresh reindeer blood, available by the vat in the local grocery store (say Yum everyone!)
  • White bread that is sweetened
  • Smoked salmon
  • Rumps of elk

It became tradition that my husband and his colleagues always packed German bread and bottles of whiskey in their suitcases before they flew north. Because alcohol is expensive in Sweden, and nights up there are reeeeeally long.

It became tradition that the engineers returned home with packages of elk roasts.

Thorsten, Spousal Unit, Konrad and Gerhard all used to work in Sweden. Only Gerhard still does that gig: he’s now responsible for bringing back the elk. Eventually, this evolved into an on-going 20+ year (!) tradition that Thorsten cooks an entire elk dinner for the engineers and their mates Bettina, Heike, and yours truly. *

It’s almost impossible to find a common weekend free when you’re trying to get a group of Germans together. Those 6 weeks of vacation time they’re famous for getting? Germans take every single minute of that time. Good luck coordinating 7 people’s schedules and pinning down a night when everyone’s available to meet for a dinner. We still talk about the year we ended up eating elk roast in August. It was the hottest day of the summer and over 90° in the apartment. (Thorsten’s kitchen had heated to way over 100°.) The heavy meal and accompanying heavy red wines were deadly.

But, Tradition muss sein.

Thorsten has it down to a culinary science, an art form. He marinates the elk in red wine and spices for days. Then he puts it in the oven to roast until it shrinks to about half the original size. Thorsten serves it with gravy, homemade Knödel and cooked red cabbage.

I asked Thorsten for his recipe and have translated it  for you here, just in case you have 5 pounds of elk roast hanging around in your freezer.

You’re welcome.

20 Semmelknödel

20 Teile Baguette (ein Teil etwa so gross wie ein kleines Brötchen) abschneiden. Brot in kleine Würfel schneiden. In warmer Milch einweichen. 5 Eier dazugeben, ebenso 250 Gramm gewürfelten und angebratenen Speck. Ebenfalls 2 klein geschnittene und angebratene Zwiebeln dazugeben. 2 Bund Petersilie kleinschneiden und dazugeben, salzen und Muskatnuss reinreiben. Die Masse gut durchmengen bis ein homogener Teig entsteht. Falls die Masse zu trocken ist Milch dazugeben (Teig muss gut durchgezogen sein).

Tennisball grosse Knödel formen und 20 Minuten in Salzwasser ziehen lassen.

Wer keine Zeit hat kann die Petersilie schon fertig geschnitten aus der Tiefkühltruhe nehmen. Ich nehme immer 2 Becher a 40 Gramm.

20 Bread Dumplings

Cut about 20 small bread rolls into small pieces. Soak bread in warm milk. Add 5 eggs and 250 grams of diced, fried bacon. Add two small diced, sautéed onions. Add 2 bunches of chopped parsley, salt, and grated nutmeg. Mix the dough well; add more milk if too dry. Make 20 big dumplings the size of tennis balls and cook them in simmering saltwater for 20 minutes. If you don’t have the time or can’t find fresh parsley, use 2 packets of frozen parlsey.


This was only Round One. We always go back for seconds

2 kg Elch

2 Beutel Sauerbratengewürz anrösten und mit 2l Rotwein ablöschen. Kurz aufkochen lassen, Beize abkühlen lassen und Elch für 4 Tage einlegen.

Elch abtrocknen, salzen und von jeder Seite 1 Minute scharf anbraten. Fleisch aus Bräter herausnehmen. Wurzelgemüse und Tomatenmark im Bräter anrösten. Rotwein-Beize dazugeben und aufkochen lassen. 8 Teelöffel gekörnte Brühe dazugeben. Bräter in den auf 180 Grad vorgeheizten Backofen geben und Fleisch ca. 2 Stunden schmoren lassen. Fleisch herausnehmen, Flüssigkeit durch ein Sieb in einen Topf abgiessen. Sosse etwas einkochen lassen mit braunem Sossenbinder zur gewünschten Konsistenz abbinden. Zum Schluss 150 Gramm crème fraiche unterrühren.

4-5 Pound Elk Roast

Roast two packs of Sauerbraten spices and add 2 liters of red wine (a bottle of red wine is ¾ of a liter). Let the marinade cool and then marinate 4.5 – 5 pounds of elk in it for 4 days.

Remove and dry the meat, salt it all over, and sautée in oil 1 minute per side. Roast some root vegetables and tomato paste; add the marinade and let the mixture come to a boil. Add 8 tablespoons of broth concentrate. Place roasting pan with elk in sauce in a 180° C (375° Fahrenheit) oven and cook for 2 hours.

Remove the elk. Purée the sauce or pour it through a sieve. Cook down the sauce to your desired consistency; add corn starch if needed. Before serving, stir in 150 grams of crème fraiche.


If you make the same dish for the same people for enough decades, one of two things will happen. You become the Master of the Meal known as The Annual Eating of the Elk.

Or you order take-out pizza from the 2 Iranian guys.

NOTES: *Not their real names. All other details are accurate. Got to the following posts for related foolishness: It was a Bitterly Cold -22°, My Mother-in-Law’s Cookies, The Rose Colored Windows that Weren’t, Christmas Markets © Jadi Campbell 2019. Photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

It’s a Wrap

Whether you’re getting ready for the holidays or the end of 2019, another year is coming to an end. This post is my annual round-up of the year’s musings and in-jokes.

My blog thread about names for animal families that I began in honor of my dad Bobbo 3 years ago still isn’t finished: The Animal Kingdom 27, The Animal Kingdom 28, The Animal Kingdom 29, The Animal Kingdom 30, The Animal Kingdom 31 , The Animal Kingdom 32

Uwe and I explored some new places: Malaysia and Borneo Wild Orangutans, Frog Paradise Part One, Frog Paradise Part Two, Shaman Medicine. I wrote about spots we previously visited: Xi’an and Speyer

I bitched about a place: Brunei and moaned when I got sick in What? I Can’t Hear You

At some point during the year I always talk about food: The Foods of Fall and Love Tea and about traditions: Pour Wine and Oil in my Grave

I wrote a piece about memory, and that turned into a moving thread that got tons of comments: His Name was Bond, PS: Have a Nice DayBonds of Kindness

I got to boast when 2 of my One Page Plays were accepted for performance! My play Baby You Were Great tied for runner-up as Best Comedy! The One Page Play Festival

So, it’s a wrap…. as 2019 ends, I invite all of you who have read my books to please write reviews for them on Amazon. These are vital to authors. And – if you haven’t read them – please consider buying my books as gifts for yourselves or your loved ones. As always, thank you for following me and being such a great tribe.

See you in 2020!

—Jadi

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2019. Photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to purchase my books.

The Animal Kingdom: 32

I give you Installment #32 of my blog thread describing what to call groups of animals! … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. The durante MUST be named for Durante.
  2. A raffle is perfect for a Thanksgiving raffle.
  3. Have you ever heard a drumming drumming?
  4. An orchestra plays their orchestra on summer evenings.
  5. A trip seldom trips.
  6. I’d love to see an aurora during an aurora.

Long Beaked Bird on Brown Wood Near Forest

  1. Durante of toucans [1]
  2. Raffle of turkeys
  3. Drumming of grouse [2]
  4. Orchestra of crickets
  5. Trip of goats
  6. Aurora of polar bears [3]
Trip

NOTES: [1] I had to check that this one was real because I instantly thought of Jimmy Durante and his famous schnozz with this definition for the big-beaked toucan… [2] Drumming comes from the birds’ mating call, generated with the wings [3] Could the name be any more wonderfully appropriate for an animal that lives at the North Pole?!

© Jadi Campbell 2017. Durante member photo courtesy of Pexels. Goat photo © Uwe Hartmann.To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Fun animal names from en.wiktionary.org, www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

Pour Wine and Oil in my Grave

I attended the funeral of a friend’s mother recently here in Stuttgart. I arrived early and sat awhile in the silent cemetery chapel. First, I lit a slim yellow taper in the entrance to the church.

Greek Orthodox monastery, Corfu

The family is Greek Orthodox. I’ve lit candles in lots of Orthodox churches throughout Greece, and once went to a church service in a tiny church in Thessaloniki that stands on a spot where the Apostle Paul preached.

I’d never been to an Orthodox funeral. Huge wreathes of white flowers bought by the families of her children were arrayed to the left of the altar. Candles in red glasses flickered around a framed photograph of Olga on a small stand; a cake in a white box and a bottle each of wine and olive oil were placed beside the photo.

The priest prayed and sang in Greek; he lifted the icon set on the casket and kissed it. Believers in the chapel crossed themselves at the right places in the text. Later, it was time to bury Olga.

A man played horn music, the priest chanted as the coffin was lowered into the ground. He opened the bottle of wine and poured it, in the shape of a cross, in the grave. Next (after wrapping his long black robes between his knees to keep them from getting soiled) he poured olive oil in the shape of the cross. He took the white box of cake that my friend had carried out of the church with her and, cutting it, spooned some of the cake into the grave as well.

We approached the grave one by one. When it was my turn, I tossed in a blooming flower and then a spade of dirt onto the casket.

The musician started playing Amazing Grace, which almost put me in tears. Some pieces of music transcend time, and continents, and cultures. In any language, for any generation, they bring solace and peace.

Then we went to a restaurant for the Makaria, the “Meal of Mercy”  that follows an Orthodox funeral. This one was a German/Greek hybrid of coffee, Butterbrezel (large buttered pretzels), cakes and Greek pastries. My friend went around the long table and spooned out some of that traditional funeral cake onto each of our plates. “My mother used to make this dish herself,” she said. “Koliva. It’s traditional; every Greek family has a recipe. I didn’t have time to make it myself, so I bought one at a Greek bakery.”

I ate the Koliva, a mix of sesame seeds, almonds, oats, ground walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, and anise amongst other ingredients…

I went home afterwards and lit candles.

The last funeral I attended was for my father.

NOTES: The wine is the blood in our veins and the oil announces the resurrection. Koliva is a dish used liturgically in the Eastern Orthodox Church to commemorate the dead. The cake is symbolic of death and the resurrection. Orthodox-death-rites. © Jadi Campbell 2019. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Bonds of Kindness

His Name was Bond, Part Three

I missed only one summer afternoon when I was supposed to clean. Mr. Bond telephoned early that evening; it was still light out. Had something happened? Was I okay?

I was off with my boyfriend somewhere that day, and the time (ahem) had run away from us. “I’m so sorry!” I said. “I’ll be right over.”

Mr. Bond had to go to the store, so he said he’d swing by and get me. When I came out to the road, he stood in the driveway talking with my parents. The three of them were laughing. I bet it was something along the lines of, “Teenagers, what can you do…”

I hadn’t thought about Mr. Bond in years. But I’d open my old photo album and every once in a while I come across his photograph.

I’d remember that for a time I’d known this kind man.

In these last few weeks I sat down to write about him, and both memories and words rushed out. An avalanche of elements from long-ago strike me. Some details are so clear. The heavy gemstones in the baroness’s jewelry. The frank eyes of Mr. Bond’s daughter. My astonishment that my simple notes had such a huge effect.

We communicated via those notes. I had a key to his home, that I used to let myself in the door on the days I cleaned. We didn’t see one another to talk often.

But I recall the ease I felt with him. Young people are unsure of themselves. Mr. Bond was a thoughtful conversationalist and I never felt foolish, or too green. And that is a remarkable thing. It’s a rare adult who can make a teenager feel like he sees and hears without being condescending.

Leaving notes was second nature; I can easily imagine that I told him I wanted to write. Let’s leave aside the fact that it took another 40 years before I actually made that wish a reality.

I can’t remember what the notes said. I probably scribbled things like, “Dear Mr. Bond, enjoy the salad greens. I’ve already washed them. I hope you’re having a good summer. PS: Have a nice day.” “It’s autumn! I brought carrots and zucchini. They’re in the crisper. PS: Have a nice day.” Or maybe, “I have Spanish Club after school, so I’ll be late coming to clean on Thursday. PS: Have a nice day.” I just don’t remember.

How I wish I’d asked Mr. Bond’s daughter if I could see his manuscript! At the time I assumed it was an autobiography, but how can I be sure? Maybe it was fiction – maybe he was writing a novel – maybe I was a character in it somewhere. I’ll never know. I was too startled by the information that my notes had inspired him to write a book, and I was definitely way too surprised and shy to ask anything further. I was sixteen. I had zero context for even one single part of this experience.

His passing was my first direct experience of the loss death brings. A few months later one of my best friends died in a car accident, and then a classmate’s father died. I’d never been to a funeral before. During that hard autumn I went to three. I was suddenly forever aware of how terribly fragile our hold on life is. For the longest time when I thought of him, I thought about dying.

I have two last comments to make as I close my album of ancient memories. I’ve discovered a gift in here. All these years later, when I look back what strikes me is a realization: sometimes my heart was in the right place. Those thoughtless teenaged years contained moments of generosity, and grace.

And, finally, this story about Mr. Bond and me has turned itself into a story about the living.  When I write about Mr. Bond now I think about life, and living; what we give to others; and what lasts in what they give us.

PS: Have a nice day.

© Jadi Campbell 2019. Photo property of Jadi Campbell. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.