customs

The first night of Breckenheim’s very first wine fest!

This year, we seem to be attending so many wine fests! It’s probably on account of COVID-19 restrictions finally going away. October is coming, and there may be new restrictions, based on what the virus does. For now, Germans are having their beloved festivals, and where we live, they’re all about the wine. Remember that we moved to Wiesbaden in late 2018, so we missed the 2018 season. In 2019, it was “normal”, but we were dealing with stress associated with our departure from Stuttgart that put a damper on our spirits. Then came 2020 and 2021, and fests were significantly reduced. In 2022, things have rebounded a lot.

Our little town of Breckenheim is up and coming. We just got a weekly market, which started last week, probably to justify the installation of the new public toilet (which I got to use last night). This week, had a market AND a wine fest. I anticipate that there will be a lot more socializing in our village, and it’s a great thing. I’ve stated more than once how much we have enjoyed how convivial Breckenheim is. It’s a very different, friendly, mostly inclusive vibe here that helps to make up for losing the awesome beauty of the Schwarzwald in our backyard.

Bill came home from his latest business trip yesterday afternoon. He took Arran to the vet, because he’s been a little “off” lately, plus his run ins with the hedgehog in our backyard resulted in his getting fleas. Hedgehog fleas apparently don’t infest dogs and cats like regular fleas do, but they do bite. I noticed Arran had swollen popliteal lymph nodes, too. So he got a fine needle aspirate, antibiotics, and flea meds. One of the fleas was kind enough to jump off of Arran when he was being examined. Bill said the vet, two techs, and he all worked together to corral the nasty beast so it can be studied under a microscope. I’m hoping that whatever has Arran acting odd will turn out to be related to the fleas and isn’t due to cancer. He’s about 14 years old now, and our last three dogs succumbed to cancer. Arran was a little slow this morning, but after he had some breakfast and a walk, he perked up a bit.

The wine fest is going to go on all weekend. We’ll probably go again, because we had so much fun last night. At first, there were a couple of ladies giving us the side eye when they heard us speaking English to another American. Later, our next door neighbor’s mom came over to talk to us. She went over and sat with the ladies, and probably told them we weren’t tourists. Then our landlord bought us a round of wine. And then the young family who is moving to our neighbor’s vacant apartment came over with their kids, and we had a great time chatting with them. I have a feeling they are going to be good friends. They even asked us to carve a jack o’ lantern for Halloween, because they want to celebrate it. I’m happy to do that. I’m not very good at carving pumpkins, though.

Halloween is kind of hit or miss in Germany. One year, during our first stint in Germany, we had people come to our door and we weren’t prepared. Then we weren’t home other years. Bill now picks up candy in case anyone rings the bell, but no one ever does. Looks like this year will be different. This is the same family who brought me a piece of the pretzel the other day. I found out that the mom is half Italian, which explains why she found the Stuttgart area to be less friendly. It’s my experience that Italians are stereotypically a lot warmer– sympatisch— as my Italian friend who lives in Germany would say– than people from Swabia are. At least at first. I’ve found that most Swabians will eventually warm up, once you get to know them. It just usually takes more time than it does up here in Hesse.

We were only going to stay a little while last night, then go home and have dinner, which is why we didn’t try the food vendor’s wares. Instead, we ate a pretzel with Spundekäs, which wasn’t enough… especially considering how much wine we enjoyed. There were maybe four or five wine stands going, plus live music, plenty of seating, and the new toilet, which we learned last night cost taxpayers 120,000 euros or so… No wonder so many people were upset about it and a news guy from the local radio station was asking for opinions last year! But it is a nice facility, at least for now. And it’s Kostenfrei (free of charge), which really makes it special. 😉 I tried the new toilet, but failed to lock it properly. Luckily, I was finished when someone opened the door on me and said, “Entschuldigung!” (excuse me) I suppose I’ll learn the right way to lock the door, now that the village is about to be bustling with events.

Below are some photos from last night’s fun, plus a couple of videos from Bill’s return home.

Arran and Noyzi were delighted to see Bill after his trip. So was I!
Arran had to give his favorite person a hug. I was working on my latest puzzle.

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Voila! The new village toilet offers a new pot to piss in!

… I just hope it doesn’t become a place for sharing more than neighborhood gossip…

A few days ago, much to my amusement, the guy who runs our neighborhood Facebook group shared photos of the brand new public toilet that was erected in, and now proudly graces, our Dorfplatz here in Breckenheim. If you’ve been following this blog lately, you know that building this toilet has been a long and painful undertaking, and it hasn’t been without controversy. Last fall, a radio host even tried to ask me what I thought of it, but decided my opinion was irrelevant when it became clear that I’m not a local. The local reactions to this seem to be varied. Some people love it. A lot of people think it’s… shitty. Bwahahahaha! I am getting a kick out of all of the reactions and snarky comments translated from vernacular German.

The first summer we lived in Breckenheim, we had biweekly wine stands in the Dorfplatz. It was a great place for everyone to commune together and bond over the region’s star product– WINE! But then 2020 happened, and there were no wine stands or other community events. Then, last summer, a crew of men came in and took down the kiosk, from which all of the fundraising events were operating. I was sad to see the cute little kiosk come down. At the time, I didn’t know about the big plans for the Dorfplatz, and had no clue it was going to get its very own toilet! I was surprised when I found out, but now I know the reason. It’s so people don’t have to use the Rathaus toilets or go home to answer the inevitable call of nature during community events. I stopped to take a picture of it today, and noticed that it costs 50 cents to pee there. No need to hire a Klo Frau, after all…

Edited to add: I see that our local leader has said the toilet will be free to use. A free public toilet is something to behold in Germany!

Earlier this week. The powers that be are very proud of this new development, although not everyone is a fan.

Not for nothing, though, it’s taken forever to get this work done. The Dorfplatz has been fenced off for months, making the trash can harder to access. People have been putting trash in the can anyway, and it wasn’t always getting emptied, because it was behind a temporary fence. I noticed today, the whole area is open again. All that has to happen now is getting rid of the port-a-let that’s been in the Dorfplatz for weeks. I think getting rid of the port-a-let will be a huge improvement. Hopefully, this toilet will stay nice, but having seen them in other places, I have my doubts. However, I can also say with certainty that there have been many times when I have been very grateful to find one of these when I’m out and about. I like the ones that can be “stored” underground and brought out for special events. That was probably cost prohibitive, though… and Breckenheim doesn’t really warrant it. It’s just a little suburban village, after all.

I read that they’re going to rebuild the wine stand kiosk right next to the new toilet, which seems quite large for the space it’s in. I have an image in my head of people buying glasses of wine in one building, while others process it in a similarly sized adjacent building. Below are a few photos of Breckenheim’s latest upgrade, as well as a few pretty flowering trees in my neighbors’ yards. I’m impressed by how fresh and beautiful they are, in spite of the heat wave we’ve endured this week.

Of all of the things I’ve observed since our move to Wiesbaden, I think the great toilet debate has been the most entertaining. I will also admit that I wasn’t expecting this kind of toilet. I don’t know why I wasn’t, since they’re all over the place in Europe. I think I expected something more conventional. I will also note that there were many times when we lived in Jettingen that I wished for a toilet when walking my dogs. I had to pee in the woods a few times. 😉 But the woods are in much shorter supply in these parts.

Anyway, now there’s a place to pee, and soon we will have wine stands in the right place again… and weekly farmer’s markets, too! I look forward to having a farmer’s market we can walk to. We already have a grocery store and a “kwik mart” near us. As I have mentioned more than once, you get trade offs when you exchange country living for suburban living. Maybe someday, we’ll get vending machines with local produce, too. One can always dream!

In other news, today we will get a visit from the chimney sweep. In Germany, it’s legally required to have one’s chimney examined every year. They leave little notes on your door telling you when they’re coming over. We got one this week. It’s a good thing we were home. Our last house didn’t have a fireplace, but we still got visited by the cleaner, who had to check out our heating system and make sure it was safe. Here, we have a beautiful fireplace, and thanks to the war in Ukraine, I suspect we will be using it a lot more this year.

Props to my clever German friend, Susanne, for supplying this funny clip about Schornsteininspektion… 😉

Don’t know what we’ll be doing over the weekend. I’ve been sick all week, but I feel better today. And I am in need of some fun… so hopefully, we’ll find some and I can return and report.

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