Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wolfgang Hampel, Betty MacDonald and the Queen on a blue pony


Betty MacDonald in the living room at Vashon on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Wolfgang Hampel - and Betty MacDonald fan club fans, 

we are working on the most fascinating Betty MacDonald fan club exhibit ever. 

You'll be able to see birthday cards for Betty MacDonald and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle from Betty MacDonald's and Mary Bard Jensen's family and friends, for example a wonderful card from Betty MacDonald's very good friend, Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Monica Sone. 

We got the most interesting birthday cards from Betty MacDonald fan club fans in 5 continents.

A special Betty MacDonald fan club birthday DVD will be available.

Thank you so much for sending so many very creative and original birthday cards to Betty MacDonald and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

We'll have several Betty MacDonald - and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fan club birthday events during March.

If you are interested in these events or if you have very good ideas please join Betty MacDonald and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fan club birthday event teams.

You are very welcome.

Many more wonderful interviews by Wolfgang Hampel with Betty MacDonald's and Mary Bard's family will be published. 

Wolfgang Hampel, author of Betty MacDonald biography and interviewer of Betty MacDonald's and Mary Bard's family and friends got first Betty MacDonald Memorial Award for his outstanding research and work. 

International Betty MacDonald fan club events are the best opportunity making wonderful friends.

Great Vita Magica news!

Wolfgang Hampel's new Vita Magica guest was a very famous TV lady, author and singer. 

Tatjana Geßler is an outstanding new Betty MacDonald fan club honor member.

Wolfgang Hampel  already introduced Betty MacDonald fan club honor member - artist and author Letizia Mancino -  in Vita Magica.

Other Betty MacDonald fan club honor members will follow.

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli  is back.

Enjoy a new breakfast with Brad and Nick, please.

Betty MacDonald very beautiful  Vashon Island is a magical place. 

Poland, Germany and France are my ESC 2016 favourites.

We are going to start Betty MacDonald fan club ESC contest 2016 in April and you can win two ESC tickets.

More info will come soon. 


We are going to organize a great Betty MacDonald fan club ESC party in Stockholm.

Do you remember?

We had several great Betty MacDonald fan club events in Stockholm.  

By the way don't miss this great story ' Queen on a blue pony ', please. ( see below )

Very witty indeed.

I can imagine Queen Elizabeth very well when she got this unique gift. 



Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

we share a very special gift by beloved and very popular Betty MacDonald Fan Club Honor member Letizia Mancino.

We know you'll enjoy it as much as we do.

Thanks a Million, dear Letizia Mancino.

You are an outstanding writer and artist.

We are so proud and happy to have you with us.

Letizia writes: One should not underestimate Wolfgang Hampel’s talent in speedily mobilizing Betty MacDonald’s friends.

We agree. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang Hampel for doing this. You founded Betty MacDonald Fan Club with four members.

Now we have members in 40 countries around the world. A dream came true.

Mary Holmes did an excellent job in translating this great story. 

Thank you so much dear Mary Holmes. 

We are really very grateful.

All the best to Letizia, Wolfgang and Mary and to all Betty MacDonald Fan Club fans from all over the world!


Don't miss this very special book, please.

Vita Magica
Betty MacDonald fan club

Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French )

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I  

Betty MacDonald fan club groups 

Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund 

Rita Knobel Ulrich - Islam in Germany - a very interesting ZDF  ( 2nd German Television ) documentary with English subtitles

The situation in Germany and Sweden with many refugees is rather difficult. 




Following in Betty’s footsteps in Seattle:

or some small talk with Betty

Copyright 2011/2016 by Letizia Mancino
All rights reserved
translated by Mary Holmes

We were going to Canada in the summer. “When we are in Edmonton”, I said to Christoph Cremer, “let’s make a quick trip to Seattle”. And that’s how it happened. At Edmonton Airport we climbed into a plane and two hours later we landed in the city where Betty had lived. I was so happy to be in Seattle at last and to be able to trace Betty’s tracks!

Wolfgang Hampel had told Betty’s friends about our arrival.
They were happy to plan a small marathon through the town and it’s surroundings with us. We only had a few days free. One should not underestimate Wolfgang’s talent in speedily mobilizing Betty’s friends, even though it was holiday time. E-mails flew backwards and forwards between Heidelberg and Seattle, and soon a well prepared itinerary was ready for us. Shortly before my departure Wolfgang handed me several parcels, presents for Betty MacDonald's friends. I rushed to pack the heavy gifts in my luggage but because of the extra weight had to throw out a pair of pajamas!

After we had landed we took a taxi to the Hotel in downtown Seattle. I was so curious to see everything. I turned my head in all directions like one of the hungry hens from Betty’s farm searching for food! Fortunately it was quite a short journey otherwise I would have lost my head like a loose screw!
Our hotel room was on the 22nd floor and looked directly out onto the 16-lane highway. There might have been even more than 16 but it made me too giddy to count! It was like a glimpse of hell! “And is this Seattle?” I asked myself. I was horrified! The cars racing by were enough to drive one mad. The traffic roared by day and night.
We immediately contacted Betty MacDonald's friends and let them know we had arrived and they confirmed the times when we should see them.

On the next morning I planned my first excursion tracing Betty’s tracks. I spread out the map of Seattle. “Oh dear” I realized “the Olympic Peninsula is much too far away for me to get there.”
Betty nodded to me! “Very difficult, Letizia, without a car.”

“But I so much wanted to see your chicken farm”

“My chickens are no longer there and you can admire the mountains from a distance”

But I wanted to go there. I left the hotel and walked to the waterfront where the State Ferry terminal is. Mamma mia, the streets in Seattle are so steep! I couldn’t prevent my feet from running down the hill. Why hadn’t I asked for brakes to be fixed on my shoes? I looked at the drivers. How incredibly good they must be to accelerate away from the red traffic lights. The people were walking uphill towards me as briskly as agile salmon. Good heavens, these Americans! I tried to keep my balance. The force of gravity is relentless. I grasped hold of objects where I could and staggered down.
In Canada a friend had warned me that in Seattle I would see a lot of people with crutches.

Betty laughed. “ It’s not surprising, Letizia, walking salmon don’t fall directly into the soft mouth of a bear!”
“ Betty, stop making these gruesome remarks. We are not in Firlands!”

I went further. Like a small deranged ant at the foot of a palace monster I came to a tunnel. The noise was unbearable. On the motorway, “The Alaskan Way Viaduct”, cars, busses and trucks were driving at the speed of light right over my head. They puffed out their poisonous gas into the open balconies and cultivated terraces of the luxurious sky- scrapers without a thought in the world. America! You are crazy!
“Betty, are all people in Seattle deaf? Or is it perhaps a privilege for wealthy people to be able to enjoy having cars so near to their eyes and noses to save them from boredom?”

“When the fog democratically allows everything to disappear into nothing, it makes a bit of a change, Letizia”

“ Your irony is incorrigible, Betty, but tell me, Seattle is meant to be a beautiful city, But where?”

I had at last reached the State Ferry terminal.

“No Madam, the ferry for Vashon Island doesn’t start from here,” one of the men in the ticket office tells me. ”Take a buss and go to the ferry terminal in West Seattle.”
Betty explained to me “The island lies in Puget Sound and not in Elliott Bay! It is opposite the airport. You must have seen it when you were landing!”
“Betty, when I am landing I shut my eyes and pray!”

It’s time for lunch. The weather is beautiful and warm. Who said to me that it always rains here?
“Sure to be some envious man who wanted to frighten you away from coming to Seattle. The city is really beautiful, you’ll see. Stay by the waterfront, choose the best restaurant with a view of Elliott Bay and enjoy it.”
“Thank you Betty!”

I find a table on the terrace of “Elliott’s Oyster House”. The view of the island is wonderful. It lies quietly in the sun like a green fleecy cushion on the blue water.
Betty plays with my words:
“Vashon Island is a big cushion, even bigger than Bainbridge which you see in front of your eyes, Letizia. The islands look similar. They have well kept houses and beautiful gardens”.

I relax during this introduction, “Bainbridge” you are Vashon Island, and order a mineral water.

“At one time the hotel belonging to the parents of Monica Sone stood on the waterfront.”
“Oh, of your friend Kimi!” Unfortunately I forget to ask Betty exactly where it was.

My mind wanders and I think of my mountain hike back to the hotel! “Why is there no donkey for tourists?” Betty laughs:

“I’m sure you can walk back to the hotel. “Letizia can do everything.””

“Yes, Betty, I am my own donkey!”

But I don’t remember that San Francisco is so steep. It doesn’t matter, I sit and wait. The waiter comes and brings me the menu. I almost fall off my chair!
“ What, you have geoduck on the menu! I have to try it” (I confess I hate the look of geoduck meat. Betty’s recipe with the pieces made me feel quite sick – I must try Betty’s favourite dish!)
“Proof that you love me!” said Betty enthusiastically “ Isn’t the way to the heart through the stomach?”

I order the geoduck. The waiter looks at me. He would have liked to recommend oysters.
“Geoduck no good for you!”
Had he perhaps read my deepest thoughts? Fate! Then no geoduck. “No good for me.”

“Neither geoduck nor tuberculosis in Seattle” whispered Betty in my ear!
“Oh Betty, my best friend, you take such good care of me!”

I order salmon with salad.

“Which salmon? Those that swim in water or those that run through Seattle?”

“Betty, I believe you want me to have a taste of your black humour.”

“Enjoy it then, Letizia.”

During lunch we talked about tuberculosis, and that quite spoilt our appetite.

“Have you read my book “The Plague and I”?”

“Oh Betty, I’ve started to read it twice but both times I felt so sad I had to stop again!”

“But why?” asked Betty “Nearly everybody has tuberculosis! I recovered very quickly and put on 20 pounds! There was no talk of me wasting away! What did you think of my jokes in the book?”

“Those would have been a good reason for choosing another sanitorium. I would have been afraid of becoming a victim of your humour! You would have certainly given me a nickname! You always thought up such amusing names!” Betty laughed.

“You’re right. I would have called you “Roman nose”. I would have said to Urbi and Orbi “ Early this morning “Roman nose” was brought here. She speaks broken English, doesn’t eat geoduck but she does love cats.”

“Oh Betty, I would have felt so ashamed to cough. To cough in your presence, how embarrassing! You would have talked about how I coughed, how many coughs!”

“It depends on that “how”, Letizia!”

“Please, leave Goethe quotations out of it. You have certainly learnt from the Indians how to differentiate between noises. It’s incredible how you can distinguish between so many sorts of cough! At least 10!”

“So few?”

”And also your descriptions of the patients and the nurses were pitiless. An artistic revenge! The smallest pimple on their face didn’t escape your notice! Amazing.”

“ I was also pitiless to myself. Don’t forget my irony against myself!”

Betty was silent. She was thinking about Kimi, the “Princess” from Japan! No, she had only written good things about her best friend, Monica Sone, in her book “The Plague and I”. A deep friendship had started in the hospital. The pearl that developed from the illness.
“Isn’t it wonderful, Betty, that an unknown seed can make its way into a mollusk in the sea and develop into a beautiful jewel?” Betty is paying attention.

“Betty, the friendship between you and Monica reminds me of Goethe’s poem “Gingo-Biloba”. You must know it?” Betty nods and I begin to recite it:

The leaf of this Eastern tree
Which has been entrusted to my garden
Offers a feast of secret significance,
For the edification of the initiate.

Is it one living thing.
That has become divided within itself?
Are these two who have chosen each other,
So that we know them as one?

The friendship with Monica is like the wonderful gingo-biloba leaf, the tree from the east. Betty was touched. There was a deep feeling of trust between us.
“Our friendship never broke up, partly because she was in distress, endangered by the deadly illness. We understood and supplemented each other. We were like one lung with two lobes, one from the east and one from the west!”
“A beautiful picture, Betty. You were like two red gingo-biloba leaves!”

Betty was sad and said ” Monica, although Japanese, before she really knew me felt she was also an American. But she was interned in America, Letizia, during the second world war. Isn’t that terrible?”

“Betty, I never knew her personally. I have only seen her on a video, but what dignity in her face, and she speaks and moves so gracefully!”

“Fate could not change her”

“Yes, Betty, like the gingo-biloba tree in Hiroshima. It was the only tree that blossomed again after the atom bomb!”

The bill came and I paid at once. In America one is urged away from the table when one has finished eating. If one wants to go on chatting one has to order something else.
“That’s why all those people gossiping at the tables are so fat!” Betty remarks. “Haven’t you seen how many massively obese people walk around in the streets of America. Like dustbins that have never been emptied!” With this typically unsentimental remark Betty ended our conversation.

Ciao! I so enjoyed the talk; the humour, the irony and the empathy. I waved to her and now I too felt like moving! I take a lovely walk along the waterfront.

Now I am back in Heidelberg and when I think about how Betty’s “Princessin” left this world on September 5th and that in August I was speaking about her with Betty in Seattle I feel very sad. The readers who knew her well (we feel that every author and hero of a book is nearer to us than our fleeting neighbours next door) yes we, who thought of her as immortal, cannot believe that even she would die after 92 years. How unforeseen and unexpected that her death should come four days after her birthday on September 1th. On September 5th I was on my way to Turkey, once again in seventh heaven, looking back on the unforgettable days in Seattle. I was flying from west to east towards the rising sun.


Queen Elizabeth on a blue pony

Queen baffled by portrait gift as she asks German president: 'Is that supposed to be my father?'

President Gauck’s official welcome for Queen gets off to distinctly awkward start when monarch reacts with disdain to her official present

The question, for anyone having to choose a gift for the Queen, is what to give the woman who has everything.
The answer, as Germany’s president Joachim Gauck discovered on Wednesday, is certainly not a modernist portrait of Her Majesty on a blue pony. 

The Queen reacted with disdain to the German President Joachim Gauck's gift of a painting of her and her father (Getty)
President Gauck’s official welcome of the Queen to his country got off to a distinctly awkward start when the monarch reacted with disdain to her official present, an acrylic painting by Nicole Leidenfrost. 

The painting, called Horse in Royal Blue, that German President Joachim Gauck presented to the Queen (Getty)

The highly stylised picture depicted a young Princess Elizabeth on a blue pony with flecks of yellow
 and green, with her father George VI holding the reins.
“That’s a funny colour for a horse,” said the Queen, who probably knows as much about equine matters as anyone alive. 

The original photograph the painting was based on (Royal Collection)

The monarch also struggled to identify the second figure in the portrait and asked President Gauck: “Is that supposed to be my father?”
The good-natured conversation carried on and Mr Gauck said: “Don't you recognise him?” The Queen replied: “No.” 

The Queen and German President Joachim Gauck meet pupils outside Schloss Bellevue Palace (Getty)

The painting, commissioned to mark the visit, was produced from a photograph taken in 1930. It shows the Queen seated on her first Shetland pony, Peggy, a fourth birthday gift from her grandfather, George V.
An art critic's verdict: 'grotesque kitsch'
Miss Leidenfrost, 41, who is based in Wedel, near Hamburg, said it was a “big honour” for her painting to be presented to the Queen. 

Nicole Leidenfrost with one of her paintings

Explaining the blue pony, she said: “I had the idea to make something really special for the Queen. I was looking on the internet for photographs and I found one of the Queen on a pony as a little girl. It was so cute and heart-warming.
“The photo was in black and white so for me it was a nice idea to do everything in colour.

“I always like to paint with bright colours and this pony is royal blue for a royal horse – that is the joke!”

The President was giving the Queen an official welcome to Germany at his official residence, the Bellevue Palace, in Berlin.

The Queen reviews a guard of honour with German President Joachim Gauck at Schloss Bellevue (Sean Gallup/Getty)
The Duke of Edinburgh received a more traditional gift of an 18th century map of Europe and the couple were also given some luxury marzipan.
Queen beams as she meets Angela Merkel
Gallery: The Queen's visit to Germany
In return, the Queen and Duke gave the president Briefe eines Verstorbenen, a four-volume set of the early 19th century letters of German nobleman Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau chronicling his journey around England, Wales, Ireland and France.
What Germans really think of British royal family
Queen's visit recalls Albert and Victoria in Coburg
The President’s partner Daniela Schadt was given a pair of candlesticks.

Guido Westerwelle: Former German foreign minister dead at 54

  • 18 March 2016
  • From the section Europe

Germany's former Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, has died aged 54 after suffering from cancer.
The politician, whose liberal FDP was in government with Angela Merkel's party from 2009-13, died in a Cologne hospital, his foundation said.
He became ill with leukaemia just months after leaving government.
Guido Westerwelle was the first openly gay man to hold high office in Germany, serving as vice chancellor from 2009-11.
He and his long-term partner Michael Mronz entered a civil partnership in 2010.
In a statement on the website of the Westerwelle Foundation, the couple said they were "thankful for an unbelievably good time together. Love remains."

Mr Westerwelle became leader of the FDP in 2001, aged just 39.He led the party into government in 2009 as the junior coalition partner to the Christian Democrats, stepping down as party leader and vice chancellor in 2011 after poor state election results, but remained foreign minister until the federal elections in 2013.
In those elections the FDP failed to reach the 5% threshold needed for parliamentary representation and as a result had no seats in Bundestag for the first time since 1949.
Mr Westerwelle's successor as German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, praised him as a "true patriot" in his commitment to Germany and Europe.
German media reported that Mr Westerwelle had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and had undergone a bone marrow transplant.
His foundation said he died as a result of complications associated with his treatment.