Merry Christmas!

On the 23rd HerrKaa, Mats and I flew up to Itzehoe, Germany (about an hour north of Hamburg) to spend Xmas with his parents. As I type, an aromatic dish of wild deer, bacon, red wine, onions and carrots is bubbling on the stove and a bottle of ’93 Mersault has been unearthed & dusted off to accompany the evening’s meal.

Blogging is a good way to distract me from my growing hunger.  Not that I should really be hungry, since we have been here not quite 2 days and have already gorged on everything from Black Forest ham to Italian Prosecco (hic).

Yesterday we took a break from our eating to venture into the pedestrianized town centre where we oogled gleaming devices for obscure kitchen tasks, such as hard-boiled egg crackers and a vegetable shaver that will slice long, micro-thin strips of, say, cucumber for twisting into rosettes for the sort of dinner party one-upmanship marketed back home by Martha Stewart.

The store that really fascinates me, though, sells fresh-brewed espressos and lattes by the entrance, while the rest of the tiny shop is devoted to gadgets with which to better organize & decorate both your home and yourself. Under-the-bed boxes, synthetically silky tablecoths, and sleek clock radios with Ipod docks are displayed beside microfibre bras, bodysuits and tights. Being used to cafes that sell, if anything, only photos & paintings by local artists I always wonder if the odd cross-merchandising was the product of sophisticated data mining, or simple good luck by the owner, because the place is always packed.

Since it was Christmas Eve, we did have to have the traditional cup of glühwein (spiced wine) that was being sold from one of the temporary canteens, for sipping amongst the uniformly fair-haired & light-eyed crowd of Itzehoers clogging that brick-paved platz.

After one final stop for a spot o’ currywurst (sausage slices doused in ketchup and sprinkled with curry sauce) it was back home for….coffee and applecake with lingonberry whipped cream. I was beginning to understand that 2 months of the Parisan fare was merely a warm up for Xmas in Germany.

After we emerged from our stupour later in the afternoon, HerrKaa’s dad hauled in their little tree from the backyard and propped it on a table for decorating with about 5 billion Scandinavian-style painted wooden ornaments and *real* candles, the latter largely for my benefit since they often use fairy lights.

The ever-difficult task of spacing Xmas tree lights takes on new importance when using candles, and the tree got a trim here & there so needles wouldn’t get too close to the flame. At one point–while trying to wheedle Mats out from beneath the cave he’d established beneath the tree–I forgot all about those live flames until I heard an odd hissing noise and got a whiff of (my) burnt hair.


    

Christmas in Germany
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Bikes in Pain

They are everywhere: crappy bikes. So far I’ve seen only one nice ride, a fixie. Ok, there was another fixie a couple of nights ago, but that was only sort-of-ok. And we’ve seen a couple of nicer bikes (Marin!) during the weekends on the closed roads along the Seine. Too nice for daily use, or real traffic, obviously. But overall, the rides here are pretty trashy. And then, there are those that are really trashy. Trashed. Kaputt. I have never seems so many wrecks in one city.

What’s happened here? What came first? Someone rips a wheel off and the owner of said (sad) steed just throws up his hands, or rather, shrugs, and buys another trasher instead of fixing it? Maybe the owner went back to Tallahassee or Perth and just left the poor bike behind? So, the bikes have been chained to their posts for eternity before someone decided s/he could use that wheel? Lost keys? Lost mind?

Here is a little gallery, ending on a positive note.

About the Sheep

The little woolie guys in the current banner have generated more email comments than any other pic so far.

They are part of the Christmas display window for the posh decor shop down the street from our apartment. They seem to specialize in the rustic-chic look (think boutique mountain resort) and the sheep work well with the distressed wood and bleached muslin.

So in response to popular demand, click the pics below to see the sheep in their full-size glory.