Last weekend saw me visiting Suebia & walking around the Schwäbische Alb (Ger., Eng.) It is an interesting landscape – if I would have to characterise it, words like “reluctant”, herb – what my dictionnaire translates as “austere” – “bitter-sweet” come to mind. Die Alb ist ein karges Land. And beautiful.
Basically it is a brick that stretches roughly from West towards East in the Southern part of Baden-Württemberg. Different to other regions, like e.g. the Hohenlohe (Ger.), the Alb has clear borders : There is a region before the Alb, there is the Alb itself, and there is a region after the Alb. When you look at a north-oriented map the Northern border is marked by the valley of the river Rems, the Southern border by the river Donau. Yes, this mighty European river starts as humble creek somewhere South of the Alb.
And, because it is a brick, there is a clear difference between what is down & what is up : You have to climb up to the Alb, what today means that you have to drive an Albaufstieg, a steep, winding, and sometimes a bit challenging ascent to reach the plateau. On top it is windy, obviously cooler than down below, and all the vegetation is three weeks behind :  While the apple trees have blossomed in the valleys, they stand in full bloom up there.
The winters also are a bit different, they use these markers (Ger.) besides the roads not for nothing, these sticks (snow poles) simply show where the road is under the snow drift.
The people there are proud of their Alb, and love it to bits. Others can’t be dragged by horses to live & work there, mostly verweichlichte city dwellers. (I can not translate “verweichlicht” correctly, namby-pamby perhaps ? Because it must have an ironic touch.)
Nevertheless, all those softy city dwellers, notably from the Suebian capital Stuttgart, invade the Alb on weekends, sit happily through traffic congestions eager to reach one of the many Wanderparkplätze (parking places from where a nice little ramble or hike can be started, usually in a circle of two hours or so) or scenic outposts. There they gaze in awe towards Stuttgart (Fernsehturm !) or in Southern direction towards the Alps.
(I personally do not believe in the possibility to see the Alps from there, I think it is clever marketing trick : When I looked South it was either foggy or hazy on the horizon, or the land lay in a wonderful Sonnenglast that prohibited to see further than 30 kilometers. This happened every time when I was brought to observation points looking South. Nevertheless, some happy individuals may, possibly, have seen something in the far distance that could be interpreted as a Swiss mountain, with a little good will from all involved.)
We went to Gruorn (Ger. only).
If you ever had to deal with the German military you know that they like abbreviations. So on the road sign you will find it as “Ehem. Trup.-Üb.-Pltz.”, ehemaliger Truppenübungsplatz, former military training area.
Back in the late 19th century a military training ground was created near the small town Münsingen (Ger., Eng.), there is still a place called “Altes Lager”, old barracks or camp. In the 1930s the area was significantly enlarged and the old village Gruorn was “entsiedelt”, what means that the inhabitants were re-located and the whole local district was incorporated into the training facility. After the war the French took over and used it as intended, among other things, for training of house-to-house-fighting. I am not sure when the French handed it back, but since 2006 the area is de-militarised and open for walkers and cyclists, you should better stay on the established paths.
The church of the village Gruorn is still standing and renovated, the old school house is used as a small pub, and up on the first floor you find a little exhibition about the place’s history.
This may sound pretty bleak when you read it. But it is not at all. No modern roads, no traffic, no electric poles, no fields. In the end you see a country side as it was in the 1930s or earlier. It is remarkably quiet there. Open spaces with green meadows, woods, sky.
Apart from the sound of those mountain bikes’ tires on the paved roads, only natural sounds.
And because this year is an extra-ordinary pollen year, you see clouds ascending from the woods, where the wind shakes them trees and pollen dust disperses like smoke.
I want to go back there, and wander around.


How it looks there


View over the graveyard towards the school house


Some blossoms


The Alb is a good place. I want to be there. Actually I already miss it.
The rest of the week was quiet, back to work, the usual. I looked into the web, read news, and tried to read your blogs, but I beg for your pardon and hope you accept my excuses, venerated readers – I did not feel up to do this. When I finally came home in the evenings I just wanted to go to bed. Another kind of silence. And asked myself what I am still doing here.  Thoughts are floating, ruminat in cerebro, “es schafft” as the Suebian says.
Sunday Music will be resumed, everything will continue, but sooner or later I hope to change some things.

Thank You For Listening

It was the best of trips, it was the worst of trips.
Clean waggons, not overcrowded, just some middle aged blokes dotted around who wanted their quiet ; no squeaky kids ; no always phoning important-men ; silence even ; sunshine, rain, landscape ; just a train doing its job.
Arriving & walking through the city on a normal working day’s afternoon, just watching the hustle, have a snack and step aside, in the sunshine, it’s so easy …
Getting back to this place, no it’s not the darkest coldest hell, but when you come from a place of light & love, warmth & happiness, it is a little step down the scale. And when you are tired & a little bit bonked, and look around & ask yerself, does this stuff belong to me ? Is THIS me ? Then it may start to feel a bit … peculiar ? I will not list where the things around me come from, in the end it nearly all is inherited, or gifted, or just left over. The exception are the books, their shelves, and the computer. It should not be a big deal to move this stuff around.
It was the crappiest trip at all, because I left behind all I love.
I just need to transfer this silly book repository to another place. Or to make a cut and get rid of all the nonsense here at all, preferably in one go : Just some hours of action and no look back.
Is this just an easy and cheap escape phantasey, fuelled by Sylvaner and hybris ?
I do not know. I know meself pretty well after more than fifty years on this heap of wonder. Perhaps I am just waiting for a chance. But as usual, I am my own worst enemy. All I know now is that I have to stay healthy, get on with the situation I have at hands and work to change it, but this is just the “always normal” I think, for all and everyone.
So, nothing special here, I just returned from a good place, and want to get back.

Dravel Tream

And how would it be  … ?  Being away, “free”, floating ?
No obligations, no “other half”, no persons no job no limits. Nothing that pins one down to a certain situation or designation, a place on earth or on mind. Free to move, to follow whims – and, let’s assume, no monetary limits – ? Unbehaust, perhaps ?
With the smallest bag for essentials and spare clothes, a very useful west with pockets to carry stuff at the body, some electronic devices to keep you connected. And the best shoes one can buy for money : Shoes are essential !
I’d carry a pair of dancing shoes in a spare bag. Don’t laugh. I’m a terrible dancer, but I try, and know how to use my a**e.
Using cabs, buses, planes, boats – all transport where you do not drive yerself – I’m a passenger. (YES ! Of course it’s Iggy.) I want to look out, see the scenery, watch the light … driving is work, I do not want to work, I want to travel : Going places, hey !
How much would a cabby charge in a place like London / Paris / Barcelona / Turino / Vienna / Rome (!) / Berlin / Warszawa or Athens when you ask for being driven around for some hours ? Of course one should have a basic idea about the place, but wouldn’t it be great to just sit and watch – as life pulses by, as architecture changes from imperial via bourgeois to wtf, just being allowed to look at things as they happen.
I’d ask cap drivers in NewYork, Frisco, KualaLumpur, Jakartha, Delhi, Bombay, Peking, Kairo, Tehran, Moscow – and a lot of other places – “just show me the place” : Here is a map, this place’s name sounds nice, oh and here is even a picture of something – let’s go !
I would not snap pictures then – I’d be too overwhelmed with all : I’d just sit and look and allow it all storm at me. I’d take pictures at some points of this voyage, not outer locations, but when it feels right to me, and would have no idea what they’d show.
I’d need some kind of electronic supervisor, something that would record where I’d be. I think I’d get lost after the second aeroplane latest – especially because I hate to fly by aeroplane and it would need some severe drugs to calm me down. At least I want to be stoned beyond recognition when the effing tin can hits the ocean.
Going by ship would be something different : More time, more reflection, better pictures – and my liver would also appreciate.
Is travelling the art of getting lost ?
I doubt. Usually it is about getting from A to B, without hassle, in style, and without too much unwanted surprises.
What I am dreaming of is blowing up the bubble and then pushing it onwards until it bursts, perhaps finding a new direction.
Hey, it’s a dream. And i’m just jabbering …

Moustapha Morgan, the second and last (promised)

Wonders of digitalisation. If one likes to spend time with it & has a licensed access, one can read through a lot of strange magazines, like Triangel oder Akazienzweige am Lebensbaume ächten Maurerthums, a German publication (Brooklyn, Long Island, 7.IV.1855-16.XII.1865, ZDB-ID 2612362-9) or Masonic Mirror and American Keystone (Philadelphia, 05.I.1853-26.XII.1860, ZDB-ID 2613335-0).
As you may remember from the last boring post, dear reader, I wanted to know what it is about the claim that the notorious William MORGAN was found alive and kicking in Smyrna in 1831. I cited the article on Morgan in a German handbook of masonry from 1865 that itself cited the TriangelJahrgang V, Nr. 21, S. 465, vom 19. November 1859. This is correct, except for the number of the page, it is “165”, not “465”, but this is negligible ; important is that year, number and date are correct. See the pdf here: Morgan 1 Triangle. (The link opens a new page with the link to the pdf – not very elegant, sorry about that, I am not used to link pdfs.) The German text gives a correct summary of what is taken from Masonic Mirror and American Keystone, of course we want to read the source.
According to the search-result for “Morgan” in the electronic resource, “Morgan” is the subject of five articles in said title (17.I.1855, 28.II.1855, 7.III.1855, 23.XI.1859 and 14.XII.1859). Important are the first and the last, the others are reactions to readers & the public and bring nothing new. The informant is a certain Joseph Alexander BLOOM, “now [January 1855] in his seventieth year of his age, in the full vigor of his intellect”. BLOOM and Moustapha MORGAN “dined at the same house, and had frequent conversations”.

This house was a public place of entertainment, and was kept by one Salvo. It is situated on the bay, and it was near this place where Mr. Costa was taken.
Bro. Bloom further states that Morgan left this country in the ship “Mervine “, which sailed from Boston to Smyrna, and belonged to the firm of Langdon & Co. The captain’s name of the “Mervine ” was Welch; this was all told by Morgan to Bro. B.

(Morgan 17 01 1855, unelegant as above)

In November 1859 the ship’s and the captain’s name are corrected :

There is, however, some slight mistake in names. The vessel in which the person believed to be Morgan, sailed from this country to Smyrna, was the Brig Minerva, which was owned by Ezra Weston,* of Duxbury, Massachusetts. The captain’s name was Martin Waterman, We knew him from our early childhood, and think he is still living.

“* The Grandfather of the editor of  “The Ashler ” [from where this is taken]. (Morgan 14 12 1859). I have no clue whether it is this Minerva. This could be the house of Ezra WESTON II (about, about). Here‘s a link to the materials about the WATERMAN family, captain Martin WATERMAN lived from 1793 until 1860.

Brother GOODALL appears in the number from 23rd of November 1859, he states that he met two people in Constantinople who knew Moustapha MORGAN and one was tought English by him (Morgan 23 11 1859). Interestingly at the end of the article is mentioned that MORGAN was still alive in the early 1850s, he would have been in his late seventies then (born 1774) :

The last seen or known of him was five or six years ago, when he was still in Smyrna, had quit teaching, and was living in habits, manners and costume as a Turk.

The William Morgan pillar, dedicated to the “respectable citizen” & “martyr to the freedom of writing, printing, and speaking the truth” is still standing. Now I wonder who Mr. COSTA was ?