Corona’s surprising effect on an evening at the theater

My favorite small theater has reopened after months of lockdown and we are attending a two-woman show called Primacomedy. I return here with mixed feelings. Would it be full? How will they deal with the social distancing inside the theater?

I enter — and gasp. The usual 50-plus seats have been whittled down to just 20, and half of those are empty. When the performance begins, I count just 11 spectators. It feels like a giant living room.

This tiny cultural venue in Munich, the Pasinger Fabrik, is housed on the…


Photo by Pixabay

Read by the author Brenda Arnold

A strange thing has set upon us. Suddenly, we’re all doctors. Better yet, we’re virologists. At least you’d think so listening to the conversations around you.

Small talk used to revolve around topics such as “How are the kids?” or “How’s work?” Ha! Those were the days. Little did we know how good we had it, having the luxury of discussing such mundane things as your offspring, work and the latest annoying construction site on the beltway and how your commute is stressing you out.

The pandemic and most recently the availability of vaccinations…


Alexander von Humboldt, adapted from the painting by Joseph Stieler, public domain

Read by the author Brenda Arnold

Many people have been using their downtime from the pandemic to tackle long-delayed projects like sort through closets. After years of accumulating, the clothes have become packed to the point of being barely extractable. You have to fight to pull out that blouse and when you do manage to free it from the morass, it bears the imprint of the buttons from the neighboring jacket. Little by little, the clothing has gotten swallowed up in the quicksand of overabundance, sometimes disappearing for years.

The unusually humid weather of late has affected my wooden wardrobe…


(Click here for parts 1, 2 and 3)

Listen to this post read by the author Brenda Arnold

Munich is known first and foremost for its annual Volksfest that attracts six million visitors from around the world, a number that makes you question its “folksiness” — but whatever. Tracing its roots takes you back to — where else? — the Alter Südfriedhof (the old cemetery in Munich). Many of the institutions associated with this sprawling, brawling two-week party took shape under the leadership of men buried right here.

From royal nuptials to brass bands

It was the celebration of the wedding of the crown prince of…


Part 3

Grave Thoughts Indeed — Royal Rolicking and Frolicking read by Brenda Arnold

The Alter Südfriedhof dates to the 14th century, but most of its graves tell the tale of Munich’s movers and shakers from the 1800s, a time when the city’s population doubled. More people meant more buildings, streets and institutions. But this was also an era that saw one of Munich’s most famous scandals involving its king, one which left traces here in this cemetery.

Duke, duke, king!

During most of its history, Munich was ruled by a duke of the Wittelsbacher family, which was in power for 800 years…


I couldn't agree with this more. It's another way to inject humor into a situation, which is nearly always appreciated. As an American living in Germany who speaks (almost) perfect German, I have taken what might be perceived as a weakness - my occasional lack of knowledge of the culture - and turned it into an advantage. I have conducted many training sessions in German for Germans, and once in a while, I can't find the right word.

So I appeal to the participants: "Help me out, guys, German is such a tough language! What's the word for..." at which…


Part 2 — How war shaped the Alter Südfriedhof

Small German towns have monuments to the dead of the two world wars, sometimes combined into one, with all the names of the locals who died. The Alter Südfriedhof has no such monuments or graves. But war left its impact nonetheless, beginning with one that came centuries before.

Grave Thoughts Indeed, Part 2, read by Brenda Arnold

World Wars — the prequel

Long before the twentieth century, another conflict raged across Europe so deadly that it too is sometimes referred to as a “world war”: The Thirty Years’ War. Nearly every German town bears scars from…


The secrets of a historic Munich cemetery

To take a stroll through the Alter Südfriedhof cemetery in Munich is to revisit its history. Pestilence and death, war, aristocratic scandals — even the Oktoberfest are all written into the epitaphs of people who shaped the city. It feels like the who’s who of Bavaria are all buried in this one spot (though by no means all of them are). In this four-part series — yes, four — I will reveal some of the most intriguing stories behind the stones. …


This article reports that Europe is struggling with power grid instability due to Europe-wide grid integration and a shift to renewable energy. My point was that it was a lack of investment stemming from the privatization of the power company in Texas that led to the power outage. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/18/texans-grid-outage-deregulation/


It's hard for me to fathom the "Down with government!" mentality living in Germany, which is pretty much at the opposite end of the scale in its attitude towards government involvement. Here the government is expected to perform certain functions, and when it doesn't, it gets criticized. The idea that the private sector could wholly replace the government, as is de rigueur now more than ever in the U.S., is patently absurd.

Some things really are the job of the government. Companies are in business to make money, and if they are not held to account to provide the minimum…

Brenda Arnold

Expat life in Germany and raising 2 bilingual children make for a life full of adventure. Check out my blog www.expatchatter.net

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