Bezirk [1] in Berlin© – 31:  July 13, 2012


Well, you can always buy wine by the bottle, or when you’re in a restaurant, you can also buy it by the glass.  And when you’re in the grocery store, you can buy it in a box.  But now there’s a new way – you can buy wine by the glass in a box.  Yep!  You know how sometimes the airlines serve you fruit juice in a plastic container with a little peel-off lid?  Well, this wine by the glass in a box comes in its very own plastic wine glass, with a little peel-off lid.  And you can buy them four to a box in the grocery store.  Nope!  Not making this up!!  It’s apparently of either UK or American origin, too, as the box is printed in English.  I am curious about one thing, though.  It’s hard enough to remove those peel-off lids from those little fruit juice glasses without spilling the juice; I’m pretty sure that peeling the lids off a thin plastic, stemmed glass will be an even greater challenge.  See? I’m not making this up!


Having had 3 monthly fare cards stolen, I’m now in the business of having to buy fare cards for individual trips.  So, yesterday, when I reached into the tray to retrieve my fare cards (if you buy 4 at a time, you get a little price break), what did I find?  An origami swan!  I rather like the idea of somebody just making these things and putting them in odd places, imagining the smiles finding them will elicit!  Of course, it could just be BVG’s way of saying, “Sorry about that policy of not replacing fare cards when they’re stolen—even when you have a police report of the theft—but here’s this little origami swan.  We hope that makes things better.”


Saw a guy on his bike and it sure looked like he had a shower cap coming out of his butt, with it flapping in the breeze (well, it was the shower cap that was flapping in the breeze, not his butt).  Upon further reflection, it was most likely a cover for a bike seat.  It’s not terribly pleasant, nor very cool, to hop onto a wet bike seat.  Extravagant folks pay about 20 Euros (something between $25 and $30 US) for what looks like a shower cap but is actually a cover for a bike seat.  This guy apparently has his affixed to the seat of his bike so that when he pulls it off to get on his bike, it somehow stays attached to the bike.  Most of the rest of us just use plastic bags, given that they’re readily available, cost only about 25 cents, and the real ones are likely to get stolen.


Over the past couple of days, whenever I’ve tried to speak German, folks have asked me if I’m Dutch.  Alas, being compared to a Dutchman by a German is actually an insult.  However, at least they don’t immediately peg me as an American, which is certainly a step in the right direction.  I wonder if the miraculous improvement in my linguistic abilities has anything to do with my having been severely congested over these few days as the result of the near-lethal levels of pollen?  [Oh, and by the way, the German word for a person from Holland is ‘Nederlander’ – I wonder if having gone to high school in Nederland, Texas, makes me a ‘Nederlander.’]


Just as English often has two (or more) words for the same thing, so does German.  For example, in English, ‘skunk’ and ‘polecat’ mean the same thing.  German also has two words for this animal.  It’s not surprising that one of those words is ‘Skunk’ but I like the other word better because it’s so descriptive—‘Stinktier’ – which translates literally as ‘stink animal’.  How cool is that?  Certainly makes more sense than ‘polecat’, doesn’t it?


 Today I saw another one of those things that makes you go ‘Hmmm….’  It had apparently once been a Christmas tree, judging by its shape and size.  Through some odd set of events, its dry, dead corpse currently finds itself affixed to the top of a light pole, hanging upside down.  One can only begin to imagine the offense it committed to warrant this punishment.  Having invented the Christmas tree, perhaps Germans hold their trees to higher standards that the rest of us and maybe this one just didn’t quite cut it, and was set out to serve as a warning to the others.


Have you ever watched your pet, or your kid, do something [or happen upon evidence of them having done something] that makes you scratch your head and wonder WHY they’d do something like that?  Well, maybe there’s an explanation for all of William’s shenanigans, and perhaps Anna Johnson, Evie Fullingim’s  granddaughter, has figured it out.  Maybe he wants to win some sort of a prize and, in William Logic Land, doing these things will help him accomplish his objective.  It’s as good an explanation as any other!



 I cooked for the first 20 years of our marriage, and then I got tired of it and Harvey more or less took over.  Now it’s my turn again.  I actually love to cook; I just didn’t have the time/energy/interest after working all day.  Now, of course, we’re retired and even though we stay pretty busy (making me wonder how we ever managed to fit in working for all those years), we have much more flexibility in how we manage our time (except for certain bursts of exceptional activity).  Consequently, I’ve gotten interested in cooking again.  More often than not, we have some delightful meals.  The sad part about some of the dishes I cook, however, is that we’ll never be able to have those exact same dishes again because I’ve started to cook pretty much like my Grandmother did – take some of this, stir it in with some of that, add a bit of milk until it looks right, add some more of this until it tastes right, cook it a bit, and serve it with whatever else you have around the house or are in the mood to eat.  So we came up with an idea for an exclusive dining experience.  I could have folks fill out a form where they’re required to tell me:

  • Any food allergies they have
  • Foods they absolutely hate
  • Foods they absolutely love
  • Spices they hate
  • Spices they love

 Then I fix them a surprise dinner within those parameters.  For example, the other night I had these things available:  fish, eggplant, rice, avocados, coriander, olives, lettuce, tomatoes (fresh) and pizza tomatoes (canned – which are fantastic to always have on hand, since they’re chopped, cooked, and have some herbs in them), tortillas, various oils (olive, pumpkin seed), and various spices (in this case, coriander, cumino, turmeric, and chilli pepper).  So I made fish and eggplant burritos!  Even if I make them again, they won’t be the same because I didn’t keep track of the proportions of the ingredients.

 So, welcome to Chez West, where tonight I’ll be serving Jaton’ Surprise #4,913!



[1] ‘Bezirk’ is German for ‘neighborhood.’