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Sunday In Germany: Winter Wonderland of Snow, Bird Feeders, Kidney Transplant Saves A Life, Lunch At the Cemetery, Eating Fish, Motor Cycle Fairs

Sunday In Germany
By Ken Yeager


This missive is written only for those that have nothing better to do. You are warned!!!

It’s Sunday morning here in Großhansdorf (that ß is a double “S” in German) and I’ve just come in from cleaning the snow off the sidewalk leading to the house here. We have had the worst winter in 30 years according to the news reports with some areas really being hit hard. Großhansdorf got about 8 inches on Friday night/Saturday morning and that was work, I tell you. Last night was just a good dusting, enough to make the snow look clean again. My bird feeders are full but because I don’t want to track up the back yard (it looks like a winter wonderland) the feeders are really too close to the house. But that’s the bird’s problem, not mine.

Something occurred about two weeks ago that I would like to mention….my only child, Ken Jr., donated a kidney to a friend, a friend who is married and has two small children and who would have died without the new (slightly used over 37 years) kidney. When my son told me he was going to do this, I didn’t try to discourage him but I told him I was not thrilled with the idea. Both donor and recipient are doing well. Ken has been at home for a week recuperating and the recipient is also now at home as well…his convalesce will take a bit longer, I am told. I don’t know how many of you have had to face a similar situation, but it is disconcerting to say the least. You know that what is being offered is noble and a good thing, but our bodies were designed for two kidneys, not one. I still wish he hadn’t done it, but I am very proud of him…he saved a life…what could be more noble?

OK, I had breakfast, shoveled a bit of snow and now I am typing this. Later, Gisela and I will be out for lunch, going to a restaurant that we causally refer to as the “cemetery.” Actually, the restaurant is located just outside the cemetery where her parents are interred. The restaurant, which has the tongue-twisting name of Kelbg, is run by an unmarried couple (no time to get married, they tell us) with two ladies and the food is great. We go there because the chef prepares a great “sole meuniere.” I was never a big fish eater as a kid or young person, but my wife introduced me to eating different types of fish and although I am still not a big fan like she is, I do like some things, sole being at the top of the list followed by salmon, trout and herring. Of course, how it is prepared is important. I like tuna too, but only if it is raw like sushi or sashimi. My mom, being English, was into primarily a cod eater, having grown up with the English fish and chips. Dad was NOT a fish eater so I probably pretty much followed his lead and decided I didn’t like it either, but now I more adult, mature, sophisticated and refined (ha). Hamburg has a huge harbor and, of course, a fishing industry and fish is widely eaten in this part of Germany. You can buy fish brötchen (crusty rolls with usually herring) everywhere. I especially like Matjes herring, which is a salted variation which we eat at least twice a month if not more often during the season. Salmon I liked as smoked or as gravelachs or cooked (a filet fried in butter schmaltz) and served hot. Trout is great smoked, boiled or fried. Of course, shell fish are still some of my favorites like oysters, mussels, shrimps, etc. You fix ‘em, I’ll eat ‘em. Generally speaking, food in Germany is very good although one does get the occasional report of bad meat in supermarkets, etc. Supermarkets for us are only for dry goods…most of what we eat is fresh and bought at an outdoor market that is open twice a week. We’ve been using the same vendors for years (continuing to use the same ones Gisela’s mother used) so we know what we are getting. Hormone fed meat is banned in Germany as are most (if not all) genetically modified grains. OK, enough about food.

On Friday I went to a motorcycle fair in Hamburg…a three day event that ends today. Lots of new motorcycles on display including more and more Korean and Chinese made models. Of course, BMW, Kawasaki, Harley Davidson, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Triumph were all on display along with a ton of scooters. I love the new Paggio three- wheel scooter, the one with two front wheels that tilt when leaning into a curve. But it has only hand brakes and I want a foot brake….too many years using a foot brake to break a habit. I also looked at a modified Suzuki Intruder make into a three wheeler trike, but retaining the front end of a motorcycle, sort of like some motorcycle cops used years ago. Two wheels in the back with a trunk – picture it? One can drive a trike in Germany with a normal auto license, so something like that would be ideal of my wife. There were also lots of vendors selling pins, patches, helmets, motorcycle clothing and leathers. Most of the vendors who sell leather stuff for cruiser or chopper riders (jackets, vests, etc.) are Pakistanis. I bought our jackets and chaps in the US and the quality is so much better, both in workmanship and the thickness of the leather. Our stuff will really protect against road rash…I doubt the Pakistani stuff would do much good at all. Spend about two and half hours looking around and chatting with some fellows from my old riding group (www.hansebiker.de), had a Danish hot dog and a beer and came home. I was fun but a bit boring…pretty much the same stuff every year although one does occasionally see something new. Last year I spotted a new helmet by Nolan that I liked very much and wound up buying one for each of us. The Nolan 43Air has a removable chin protector and a drop down sun shade that I like a lot. You can also build in a blue tooth intercom system (bought that too but it never worked right so I returned it). I now have a hardwire system that worked perfectly.

OK, time to change clothes for the restaurant and get moving, I suppose. Thanks, Bobbie for your comment to my earlier rambling. I kind of like Garrison Keillor (you know, the guy from the Prairie Home Companion) column in the International Herald Tribune so I try to follow his example of expressing an opinion but really not say anything important (or perhaps that should be reversed). Anyway, this is a good way of communicating, saving both on postage and paper.

Have a good Sunday everyone and let it be a good week as well. Be good and be safe – Ken

2 comments to Sunday In Germany: Winter Wonderland of Snow, Bird Feeders, Kidney Transplant Saves A Life, Lunch At the Cemetery, Eating Fish, Motor Cycle Fairs

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Dear Ken~
    Thank you for taking the time to write about your life in Germany. I have never been, but I have a better sense of the local culture and cuisine options thanks to your letters. I am not a seafood lover in any way shape or form, so I don’t know if I would survive all the fish options, but I am happy to know there are plenty for others to choose. How’s the bread…rye? pumpernickle etc.?
    From your letter I can imagine your backyard and bird feeders, a cemetery dusted with snow, and a nice lttle restaurant close by. What a pleasant picture you painted for us. Thank you for taking the time to “ramble” and I will look forward to hearing how Spring pops up in your part of the world. Please share that with us in a few months.
    Your son is a hero. What a courageous decision for a young man to make.
    I have a little friend who was in my class of 5 year-olds several years ago, who recently donated his bone marrow to his older brother. Little Blake prayed for weeks that he would be the match that was needed, and when everyone else was NOT( he was the ONLY one who matched) he was thrilled he could help. As of this week, it is passed day 35, and it seems to be taking. We are waiting for day 100, as that is supposed to be the outside threshold for rejection issues. It appears Blake has saved his brother’s life and what a joy that is for him. I imagine your son, Ken, feels the same way. What a gift…to give the gift of life to someone else. They will be in my prayers.
    Hope the snow holds off a bit, now.
    Come to Houston…it is a tad warmer.
    Suellen
    Saigon ’58-’60

  • Ken

    @ Suellen Oliver Campbell – Thanks for your comment and kind words regarding my son. He’s a good kid…just wish he would grow up. OH well.

    You ask about bread…bread is the one common thing Germans talk about after visiting the US. They are always so disappointed about the quality and selection of breads..One little stand in the market today had over 20 different types of breads or rolls. In our house alone we always have three types of bread available…A white wheat bread made with sourdough. Each loaf is over 2 lbs and is about 15 inches in diameter with a crisp crust. We also buy a bread we say is gray, but it is made from an unbleached flour. Lastly is a black bread full of whole grains and is a bit moist…you would probably compare it to pumpernickel, but it is much different. Bread types vary vastly by area of the country….Bread, like beer, is something really special in Germany. Ken

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