Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

11% of pure goodness

If God has a nectar then it is surely called federweissen. Unfortunately, last night, I drank 2 cups of ‘fedi’ (as mickey and the wine folks call it) and I woke up this morning with a massive headache. It must be all the pure goodness and high nutritional content which mickey keeps mentioning.

Fedi is a ‘for a limited time only’ drink…and just like ‘roll up the rim’ time in Canada, everyone here is mad for federweissen for the one month it’s available. There are stands here on almost every block selling it, big signs outside of every hotel and restaurant advertising it, and there are lots of ‘fedi-ed’ folks zig-zagging along the sidewalks having consumed it. I’m just joking on that last point, but I would’ve been zig-zagging last night if great guy would’ve let me go out wandering in my condition!

Federweissen is the pure juice which comes from grapes being pressed. Nothing is added to them. Essentially, the grapes are picked (some vintners here in this area still do it by hand because the winehills are so steep), then pressed, resulting in a sweet, milky-white (like a white feather, hence the name ‘feder weissen’), insanely great-tasting liquid. The natural yeast and sugars in the grapes ferment (quicker if they are left at room temperature) and when consumed immediately, before being processed and lagered, then the alcohol content is about 11 %! I just looked that up on Wikipedia…having had no idea that it’s quite THAT potent. So that, combined with the fact that it tastes like juice and it’s so good you want to drink a lot of it, makes it dangerous stuff!

I had my 2 cups of fedi with a slice of scrumptious zwiebelkuchen; kind of like an onion quiche made with roasted onions, cream cheese and eggs. Apparently, you are supposed to consume them together, so I figured, ‘when in rome’! Yummy.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

roadtrips

Last week, I headed out on a wine delivery tour for Mickey, driving a fully-loaded wine bus for a two day trip. I started off at 5 am, hurtling along on the autobahn in the pitch dark. Surprisingly, I was in a really good mood. I had decided to change the tour plan a little bit so that I could spend the night in Hamburg where great guy’s great friend and girlfriend live. I have been hearing a lot about this incredible city, with its kilometers of harbour, bustling night life and funky, modern style…more Amsterdam, less Berlin…and I was eager to finally visit.

After a very long 15 hour delivery day, and almost getting fired (and therefore almost quitting) because I had altered the tour, I arrived at great friend’s flat in the heart of St. Pauli, a block from the reeperbahn (for those of you who know what that is). I was so happy to finally be there. The 3 of us stayed up late, drinking wine, eating pasta, and talking…and das baby slept. In the morning, before I continued on my route, we took a drive along the harbour. There was so much to see. The Speicherstadt fascinated me. Rows and rows of old, red brick buildings, separated by narrow water channels where the ships of yore used to move through, unloading their wares, which were then pulled up into the windows above…things such as spices and rugs from the Orient, and coffee from South America.

My tour on the second day led me through the back lanes of the L√ľneburger Heide, rolling countryside with soft, bushy forests of softly changing colours. I passed countless couples riding their bikes on the open, winding, country lanes, while I bumbled along in my wine bus, singing loudly with Adele on the stereo, and the sun shining. Throughout the afternoon, I noticed, several times, motorhomes randomly standing on autobahn exits, each with a simple sign on the side saying ‘sexy girls’. I naively thought it was some kind of fun, girl-power club, but no…they are brothels on wheels…really?

The next morning, bright and early, great guy and I set out on the 2 hour drive to pick up his quite-old-but-new-to-him boat, which he and the father bought off ebay. On the way, we stopped at a roadside, self-serve pumpkin and squash stand. I love these self-serve stands…so simple, so trusting, so cheap! We picked out a couple of small pumpkins, a long, yellow-y spaghetti squash and a big acorn squash. Since Thanksgiving I have been craving and, therefore, making different pumpkin soups each week (thankfully great guy eats everything!) and now I am going to try squash soup. I am a firm believer that everything can be made into soup.

With barnacles and shells still clinging to its bow, and seawater still dripping from the motor, we arrived to see that the boat had survived the long journey from the Spanish coast. The boat was much bigger, shockingly, than on the little online ad and for the first ten minutes or so, we just walked around and around it. Then we hopped in, opening all the compartments, finding water skiis, a swim tube, safety vests (including a super-cute baby one), a fishing rod and a full tackle box. It was just like Christmas.

Great guy’s work colleagues had told him we would probably arrive at the pickup spot along with 20 others who bought the same boat. We had heard lots of ebay horror stories, but thankfully everything was as promised and getting it home went quite smoothly…well, after great guy spent 3 hours fixing all the electrical hookups so that the boat trailer had lights!

The father thinks great guy should name the new boat ‘Duck’ because he thriftily already has the signage for it, but great guy told me he might name it ‘Funny Hunny Bunny’…what a dreamboat! I mean great guy, of course.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, my Canadian friends.

Sitting here on a cool, fall day, the air filled with the sweet, almost rotten-fruit smell of the thousands of grapes in the area, being squashed and readied for their barrel homes, I am feeling melancholy, knowing that I am missing Thanksgiving in Canada.

So, I have been trying to infuse my days with snippets of Thanksgiving-like activities. Last weekend, there was a holiday Monday here in Germany, so we invited great guy’s family over for a Canadian-style Thanksgiving feast. We had sweet potato soup with cornmeal biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy, shredded beet and carrot salad, cauliflower with cornflake-crumb topping, and, of course, a turkey…thank you Food Network for the scrumptious sage-infused turkey recipe. Oh, and pumpkin pie made with the Station’s awesome pie crust! It was so much fun cooking and then even more fun having a lovely family meal together. Afterwards, as everyone complained that they had eaten too much, I said that that was also a completely normal and expected part of Thanksgiving in North America…feeling stuffed!

Other days have included buying pumpkins, decorating with those tiny, weird-looking squash, finding recipes for the pounds of left-over turkey meat (even though the only turkey I could find in the supermarket here was a baby turkey), enjoying cool walks with my loved one in the afternoon sun, and regretting the many pieces of pumpkin pie which I couldn’t help eating.

And today, most importantly, I will think of the things I am thankful for… and will share them you.

I am thankful for:

-friends who send me notes that say things like, ‘I will continue to send good vibes across the ocean so that waves of happiness find their way to you and flow into the river outside your door.’ Friendship.

-the physiotherapist telling great guy that he does actually have ONE very well-defined muscle…his coughing muscle, and if only he could work on developing a few more muscles that would be a good thing. Funny.

-nephews…my nephew…many prayers were said in the creation of that little guy’s life, beginning years ago…thank You.

-on that note, baby kisses…I am thankful for his way of grabbing (with lots of baby force) your face with both of his tiny hands and pulling it with all of his might towards his wide open mouth…you cannot help but feel the love! Love.

-Stieg Larsson, for writing books which engrossed me at times when I really needed to ‘get lost’ in something so far from my current reality. But now I really want to go to Sweden.

-being invited to ‘jag at 8’ even though I am millions of miles away….it’s awesome knowing that you guys are thinking of me. Go Riders!

-the 2 rivers who join almost at our doorstep, carrying ships and boats, and nourishing the picturesque wine hills all around us, and whose existence caused the counts and emperors to build all these incredible castles here…like one every km! Pretty.

-Canada Geese…and the perfect tattoo which I have of them on my forearm. I will always be thankful for the artist who drew it so spontaneously for me. Beautiful.

-the strange-looking cat who sometimes graces our presence and who, if she feels like it, lets us pet her until she gets bored. Great guy and I stop everything we’re doing the moment we see her…we really need a pet…or a baby?

-that it’s difficult to buy Thanksgiving or fall paraphernalia here…or Valentine’s or Easter or St.Patrick’s stuff for that matter. These ‘holidays’ aren’t so grossly over-marketed here, as in North America, and it’s kind of refreshing. If you want to buy something for one of these holidays you do it because you really want to and not because you are bombarded with messages saying that you have to.

-three, four, and five year-olds (not that I want to discrimate, of course). I am thankful for their hilarious questions and insights into how they think the world operates (like thinking that the best way to take a cat for a walk would be by putting a slinky around it’s neck), and I love that they always want to hold your hand.

-my good health…don’t know why I have it and others who I love don’t…so, I will be thankful for mine and try not to waste it.

-for great guy… even though he sometimes makes me crazy, most of the time he just wants to make me laugh.

-for my wonderful friends and family, who I know would be so happy to see me if I showed up on their doorstep at any time of day or night…but don’t worry, I’ll call first…I’ll need a ride from the airport!

-and, I am so thankful for everyone who is reading this….THANK YOU for your encouragement!!
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

picking up jesus

The father came by on the weekend to pick up jesus. Yup, jesus was here at our house. I had looked out our front window and saw the father walking slowly, carefully, with his head bent down as he negotiated his steps on our uneven gravel path. In his right hand was a statue of jesus.

This subject has been talked around and around, at our kitchen tables, for the past few weeks. At random times the father would show up to talk or hang out, or we would all be gathered together having a drink or dinner, and then he would bring up, ‘Christoff’ as he once called him, or ‘Joseph’ another time…at which point, because I thought it was so funny that he couldn’t get Christ’s name right, I said, ‘Do you mean Billy?’ The father actually laughed! I think it was the first time he laughed at one of my jokes…mostly because he usually doesn’t listen to me.

He has been trying to figure out what to do with the big cross which stands at his parents grave, a grave which he has now stopped leasing. In Germany you rent your grave plot for a limited time…say 10 years, 50 years or 99 years. Now, the time was up on the grave of great guy’s beloved oma, Barbara, and her husband who died when he was still quite young.

The other day, great guy sawed off the part of the cross which held the names, built a little copper roof for it, and gave it a pedestal. The father was happy that he can now add this to his own grave plot, where great guy’s mom is buried. Jesus is already hanging there…so now the question is, where did he take the other one? What can you do with such a statue…or a better question is, what should you do with it? At least, last night at dinner grave plots were no longer a topic of conversation. It is finished.
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