a phoenix, and a new year

Approaching Dresden from the north, you'd never think the town practically melted into the Elbe some 50 years ago. Great spires scratch the gray heavens; blindingly golden statues grasp triumphal torches on stately roofs. We walked along the quay and couldn't help but notice that one strident Frau looked as if she was giving the Neustadt across the river a middle-fingered salute; Dresden is a phoenix, to be sure, but the time in between has been less than kind.

We spent a long Christmas weekend at the foot of the Frauenkirche, just recently completed. Apparently architects gathered bricks that locals had lovingly ferreted away during Soviet times to painstakingly rebuild this towering church. Its unusual design is beautiful; hulking from the outside, the inside is all pale pink and gold, with interweaving layers of pews and stories, winding all the way to the base of the enormous dome. It seems more concert hall than staid church. We scampered to a Christmas eve mass (without tickets; the doorman somehow had three extras sitting in his hand) that was held in candlelight. In this twilight, the whole structure seemed gossamer light, draped or suspended at a single point high in the midnight sky.

Now, back in Berlin for Christmas part two; a guest tomorrow and then Thursday we're off for England, a wedding, and then back for the new year. Keeping up with the tradition of time, barreling along like a bobsled, through a very slick December and slam! on to 2007.


lazy sunday

Just finished a fistful of Red Vines brought across the Atlantic by this lovely lady. Easy candy is a bad thing. It makes sitting in front of a computer almost impossible (since the bag's in the kitchen, and yes, will remain there) although I could consider the up-and-down a cheap excuse for exercise. Very cheap.

So, a lazy Sunday. John's in the living room, snoozing and listening to a Bach oratorio. I've just finished washing lamb blood off my hands (before the Red Vine snacking, of course) in preparation for a meaty braise sometime this evening. The Burgundy I happily bought last week tastes a bit thin, but that's what I get for grabbing it on the cheap (or relatively cheap.)

One more food bummer: last night to F'hain for handmade Chinese-style noodles. The restaurant looked so promising -- a chef makes the noodles in an open kitchen, spinning the dough in big arcs, folding the dough over on itself, sending it flying again. (A TV screen captures his acrobatics and broadcasts them to passers-by.) Very fancy. But the kids couldn't cook. John's fried noodles were soggy, soaked in a Chung King canned sauce; sure, "oriental" but hardly edible (and gave him a tummy ache to boot.) I got a greasy bowl of yesterday's duck and a couple of shakes of five-spice as soup, over soggy noodles. Sigh. We paid up and walked out and chastised ourselves for being snobs, but hell. There has *got* to be a place in this town for authentic Asian food, not just for our own greedy bellies. We will keep looking.