Tag Archives: storks

Taking A Breather

sketch of roses
“Mannheim Roses” by Kerry McFall

Today we decided to just “stay home” here in Lambeth and try to catch up with laundry, haircuts, and postings.

We stayed several days in Mannheim with our friends Marika and Vollker.  During that time we transformed their dining table into an art studio, with Ben (6) and Karla (4) and me having a grand time doing colored pencil works in spite of the language barrier.  Karla got fairly annoyed with me and Griff now and then – I mean, really, grown up people not knowing how to speak properly!  She forgave Griff though when he demonstrated that tickling is a Universal Language.  Although the art focused a lot on lions (which required a lot of roaring to get the message across as to just how scary they should look) and mice, I did find time to do one just for me of the roses.  Everywhere you look over here there are fresh flowers for sale – and very cheap.

On our final day in Mannheim, we went to the Luisenpark, a huge open park right in the city with small boats that followed a track on the lake.  They were slow, which allowed ample time for spotting turtles sunning on the rocks at the shore, and for being grossed out by the immense carp that came to the side of the boat and opened mouths the size of dinner plates to beg for treats…eew.  And I got to see storks in action, which really was very exciting.  Their eyes are really as huge as they look in my previous sketch, which I did from a photo that I thought surely had been retouched.  Every high spot in the park had an active stork nest, and some of them were even down stalking through the tourists on the lawn.  After the boat ride, everyone else went wading while I found a spot to capture the boats and the ubiquitous TV tower.  The towers remind me of the Space Needle in Seattle, every town seems to have one, some even with a revolving restaurant.  Scenic yet intrusive…
sketch of park in Mannheim
“Luisenpark” by Kerry McFall

So that wraps up Mannheim, next post will be about our travels with Dieter in Koln.



Technology Meets Thermals

sketch of architecture

Audi "Museum Mobile", by Kerry McFall

A tour of the Audi plant in Ingolstadt yesterday left me feeling like I had just visited a space station… and I swear those robots were looking right at me.  The corporate logo “Vorsprung durch Technich”  translates roughly into “Advantage Through Technology”, and indeed there was a lot of amazing technology, resulting of course in some really fast cars that just burn up the Autobahn at the speed of light (I much prefer the Autobahn to LA freeways – maybe it’s because all the drivers seem to know what they’re doing).  In the midst of technology that can apply four coats of paint into literally the thickness of a human hair, it seems odd that before the primer coat goes on, they dust off the surface with EMU feathers.  Seriously, right there in that fabulous “clean room environment”, Audi uses giant feather dusters to prep the surface – nothing else will do.  I was disappointed in their artistic acumen to find, however, that the most popular colors are silver, black, and pearly white, with “Grandma gold” coming in a distant 5th or 6th.

 Audi doesn’t seem to go in for fancy car names like American manufacturers do; they restrain their MBA’s and simply name their cars A3, A4, A5, etc.  Quite refreshing for those of us who cringe at names like Armada and Maurauder. 

Ergonomics guides the processes where humans are involved, so the workers’ backs and wrists are protected, but I couldn’t help but wonder what that assembly line shift work does to their psyches.   I know I personally wouldn’t last the first two hours before I told threw down my pneumatic screwdriver and said some very bad words.  Then again, it may not be an issue for much longer as the march of progress continues down the path of robotization.  Thirty thousand blue collar jobs in this little town, and my guess is that most are about to do a Detroit.

sketch of white stork in flight

"Im Aufwind" - On the Upswing, by Kerry McFall, ink and colored pencil

On the other side of the coin, where nature meets the 21st century, there is good news.  The local paper had an article that was still on the coffee table about a resurgence of White Storks.  The headline reads “Im Aufwind”, which can refer to both riding thermals and to being on the upswing.  The local stork population was nearly eliminated in the 80’s, but enjoyed unusually favorable breeding conditions in this region this year.  One stork eats one pound of food per day, which translates into roughly 24 mice or 1,100 worms.  Eew.  Normally they breed here, then migrate to Spain or north Africa for the winter, but recent winters have seen them only going as far as Spain, taking advantage of garbage dumps… Eeww.

As I sketched the photo, I kept thinking this is an impossible anatomy, but then again, no more impossible than our herons in Oregon I suppose.  Such big eyes they have!  And such awkward legs!