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March 27, 2010

God Bless America

The ending of a many great American speeches. I like it. But I know, some people have their problems with it. Like with many things about America. It is a little bit fashionable in our countries to not like America. Some people blame it on the double moral standards. Aha? As if other nations were without those. My country, Germany: saving the Environmental World, but don't touch the Autobahn and the max. speed! Sweden: making a big fuzz about alcohol, but until shortly one of the world's largest Vodka brands was state-owned. Ta-taaa. And yes, as my friend Heike mentioned the other day: in America it is okay to carry around your gun at many places, but don't you dare to breastfeed your baby in public! So cute... However, I like the God Bless-thing. And I like America.

Today I got my magazin again. Thanks, Lena. Real Simple. Once a month, I find a little piece of America in the mailbox. And it makes me happy. It is fun to see different styles and to read about a different culture. It is the in-between-lines that I like so much. The jokes, the ability to laugh about one's self.

Unfortunately, I hardly ever get to try the recipes, as I am too busy for new recipes. But the time will come...! However, the magazin is nothing fancy and nothing fashionable and it has not much to do with wine. It is about practical matters, it is useful and down to earth, the everyday kind of thing. But it connects me a little to how life is over there. I still miss it at times. Even though I have now been in Sweden for 7 years (can't believe, how fast time goes by) and currently on my way out.

When we first moved to the US, it was shocking in many ways. Everything was so huge! Everything. We had come from Zurich, from a wonderful appartment in a house of typical high Swiss standard and where the parking garage was in the basement. As it is in many other buildings, simply to save space. First arriving the Detroit area, we were out to find a house. The real-estate-lady came and picked me up to check 10 houses she had prepared for us after the vague specifications we had given to her. (What a luxury! We talked to one realtor and that person gets your home for you. In Germany, we are calling all realtors to see if there is one home for us.) The houses were big, more like small school houses... Well, we took the smallest of them and it was still plenty of room... Finding that wonderful home, was the occasion where I got my first American Chardonnay, by the way, (before my life was strictly limited to Riesling, sparkling and still), heavily oaked - phew! I believe, such wines are not even existing anymore today...

Buying butter the first time: Oj! Before in my life there had been butter. Now I was standing in front of a seemingly never ending row of butter, butter, butter...... After some 20 min studying all the labels I asked a lady which one to take. The milk came by the gallon (!) (3,75 liters). And so on. And so on.

Hardest though, was to see how energy was being wasted. I grew up in a household with a dad that had gone through WWII as a little boy with no food and extreme lack of everything for quite some years of his life, since his own father never returned from the war. My dad would always go and switch off the lights in every room where we kids had forgotten to. And mind us using too much water while brushing teeth or washing hands. Germany was one of the first nations to separate garbage, and boy were we thorough with that at our home! For many, many years. And now I suddenly was confronted with people starting their car engines 5 minutes before driving off, just so the car was warm and cozy (winter) or cold and fresh (summer) before they jumped in. Air conditioning running full speed, only to be interrupted during winter periods, where it instead was the heating running full speed in houses with rather poor isolation. At the supermarkets! - 20 plastic bags came home with me after one grocery-shopping tour. It was painful. I tried: came one day with my little shoppingbasket that we used back home, and people around me would stand still, shouting in surprise: oh how cute! What is that? But I know that has changed since then and more and more people are having their own bags or boxes with them when going shopping. (And actually: also in Sweden there are surprisingly many plastic bags...) And besides I firmly believe that this country will be great with alternative energies, etc. once they have really set their focus to do it. And I know that a lot has improved since back then.

Even while still there, I also got to meet people who were very energy consious and who were shopping organics, it went all the way to washable baby diapers. And that is what I want to come to: America is a place of options and choices. One will find anything there. You decide. All is possible, and that I like. We used to say though, that you need to have a certain income and you need to be healthy to make it. So I am glad for those millions of people who are in need for health insurance that this big step has been achieved. We all understand, it is not perfect yet and not finished. But it is a huge step in the right direction. Bravo!

Of course, why should I care, I am not living there anymore. But, besides that my two step children (well... they are not really children anymore) are living in SC and CA, we made some nice friends too. Like my friend Kellie who introduced me to real Margaritas (hicks)...

And, even if it only was 4 years: it was intensive. I met new life in America: my two babies were born there. I had a blast! Being pregnant in America was phantastic! People opening doors for you. Everyone telling you how cute you look (until you started believing it!). Never would I pass the registers when shopping, without being asked when my baby was due. Waiting at the doctor's offices, people would talk to me. Complete strangers. Oh how I loved that part of America! So, so easy going...

I also met death while in America: my dad got very ill back home in Germany and passed away. I could never see him in his final days and I will always miss him and I am carrying this loss around with me wherever I go. And then there was 9/11. The only day while living in America, where my husband had to go to NYC. I did not know where he was, but something told me, he was not at WTC... However, when the cab driver called, the lady that was supposed to pick him up at DTW after his returnal from NYC (which never happend, because all flights were cancelled for days and days), and told me that he was in her prayers and that God should bless him, I did get somewhat nervous. I did not hear from him until the end of the day, when he finally got a phone line out. And it took 4 days for him to get a rental car to be able to drive back to MI. But of course! What was that in comparison to all the families that had gone through much, much worse. A sad, sad event that really connected me with America. The spirit of the people in the days and weeks to come. Amazing. Truly amazing.

Palin and Obama: also America. The day she will be president though, I will have to re-consider... However, she is fun. I liked that little list on her hand the other day.

Wine. One of my husband's favorites is Rutherford Hill, I need to see if I can get hold of those wines somehow... It'll be interesting to see if I still like them today, now that I understand wine a little better. One memorable wine we had at one of our favorite restaurants, The Five Lakes Grill in Milford (which seems not to be existing anymore - bad times in the area...), was a Riesling Auslese from von Buhl from the 70s. Now: we did not choose it because of its age. It was the only one available from Pfalz.

Photo from the website Rutherford Hill

And once we paid 20 $ or so, for a bottle of mineralwater 'Ramlösa', which costs nothing here in Sweden, but we just needed it back then. Are we crazy or what?!

God bless us and God Bless America!


  1. I must say I smiled a lot when I read your posting, Heike, because I went through exactly the same experience. It is so true what your write. A great posting. But why did you write it now?


  2. Hi Christian, Good question! Just got carried away... :-) but do you know the wines?

  3. Puss & Kram! I'll probably still be here for a while so this will give you a good reason to go visit your step-children (haha!). Besides, I've already decided that Nana is going to be my Swedish-German Au Pair. :-) When that time comes, which it has not. Yet. (just clarifying)