Monthly Archives: February 2024

Room full of bug mirrors, finally finished! And why living in a Berlin altbau is very, very hard.

Wall of insect mirrors Feb 2024Wow it took a long time to realize this particular vision!

I saw a picture of a shop in France with a wall of insect mirrors a few years ago. The shop didn’t sell online, so basically I sourced all the mirrors they sold by individually tracking them down on the internet.

Wall of insect mirrors Feb 2024 cu editThis took some time, even though shopping is one of my great skills.

As several bug mirrors had to be shipped from the UK Post-Brexit, I also had to go slowly because of cost. The largest beetle mirror was actually the cheapest, from German home decor company Kare, the same place our Alice in Wonderland chandelier in the salon came from.

The smaller mirrored beetle and cicada came from the UK, and shipping plus VAT cost as much as they did. Brexit is so bad. These two smaller guys didn’t have any rings or hooks for mounting, so I did my usual combination of wire, drilling, epoxy clay and gilding to make them hangable. And secure! I still operate as if an earthquake could come any second, despite nine years next month of no earthquakes.

So this is the first post about our home decor in many years. A big part of why is that I have simply been too sick to do the last 5% of the decorating.

Another reason is that we got a couple of pieces of bad news about our building in 2021.

We had hoped to live here the rest of our lives, but the last few years have been rough. In December of 2020, we learned that the entire attic of the building was consumed by “wood mushroom” or dry rot, and that some long-delayed reconstruction we had not previously heard about would begin in 2021.

And so an elevator was bolted to the building outside our bedroom window, where it makes horrible screeching metal noises both going up and down, and the shouting workmen haul crashing metal carts into the courtyard below our window and load said elevator, at 7am. At ten minutes to eight, because 10pm to 8am are “quiet hours” in Germany, the sound of metal fatigue shears through the wall by our heads. In 2021-2022 this happened almost every day, six days a week, and as a person with DSPS who sleeps til noon on a good day, it really messes me up.

The construction has gone on for three years, with various periods of reprieve.

Nowadays the terrible elevator sound mostly comes without warning during a quiet interval, jolting us awake in fear. My precious Sadie got me Loop earplugs, which are the first ones I have ever been able to wear comfortably, and they help a lot. So now if I get woken up at least I can put them in and get back to sleeo.

However, there is a significant concern that the dry rot is all through the building and it will simply collapse, as happens sometimes with altbau buildings in Germany. So that’s fun. At least I got some of my art and clothing archives out of the building with the Takeaway!

And, there is Legionella!

Also in 2021, we got a letter saying our building water supply had Legionella, but not to worry, it’s not a concern for healthy people. There have been many letters since, many desperate emails sent by me, many attempts to report this to health agencies. No clarity has been achieved about whether there is still Legionella, and meanwhile the President of the EU Parliament died of Legionnaire’ Disease. So I take it fucking seriously, as an immune-compromised person, and we have spent hundreds of euros on filters for the taps.

What about the Mieterverein?

We are members in good standing of the wonderful Berlin Tenant’s Association, and we did pursue speaking to a lawyer there about all this stuff last year. But they sent us a letter requesting documentation that caused me to have absolute ADHD terror and paralysis. I could not organize the paperwork, last year while I was also horribly stressed by our tax preparers becoming unusable and having to make a spreadsheet and contact a hundred tax preparers to find a new one.

Tax preparers and lawyers in Germany SUCK. They are almost all extremely shady and hard to deal with. So, maybe we’ll do the Mieterverein process this year, and try to get the water tested again and the balcony inspected to see if it’s gonna fall off or only looks that way.

Things are dicey in our home, but I decided I might as well do a few tiny things around the house anyway!


ValentIllness hashtag and a finally finished textile art project!

Suzanne Forbes in pink and red textile art vest February 2024What on Earth is ValentIllness??

red tops for Chronic Illness Awareness on Valentillness DayIt’s a chronic illness hashtag & selfie idea for Valentines from Long Covid activists @desertdracula and @mamasitaa__ /Seets.

I saw their posts on twitter on Feb. 14 and decided to quickly jump in with this picture.

I was wearing a red top already, which makes a difference in energy calculations for people with Energy Limiting Chronic Illness!


I got my husband to take these pictures today, which show off the vest a little better. It’s very pretty!

Suzanne Forbes pink and red textile art vest February 2024I’d been working on this textile arts vest for a year.

Lying on the couch sewing is pretty much the only “fun” (as opposed to drawing, which is work) creative activity I can do anymore. I have had terrible pain in my hips/butt for over a year, which makes sitting up at the craft table too painful even when I am strong enough to sit up.

I saw a bone doc and had a hip MRI last winter, but then didn’t follow up on it, as my pain drastically improved during my Shingrix vaccine and antiviral remission last spring. It came back in the Fall.

The dull, burning, constant pain is so bad now it takes my breath away sometimes. It’s probably sciatica, or other nerve related pain.

I really need to get on it, and the doctor is one of the nearest to us, but it’s really hard, because I can only do at most one thing involving other people a week, and leave the house once a week at the very very most.

And I already have so many doctor visits booked for the next three months!

Plus, the pelvis bone doctor is one of the most ignorant and gaslighty about Covid. I was sitting in her office waiting last January, in my prescription goggles and FFP3 mask, and I opened the window for ventilation. When she came in, she promptly closed it. She said, “I don’t want to get a cold from being cold.” Honestly, how can you trust a doctor who doesn’t know that colds come from viruses?

We are in hell, and doctors and Surgeon Generals are fanning the flames.

Sorry to end on a bummer!