Valentinstag remorse…
After 14 years of marriage, a slight expanding mid section and bad knees, I have come to realise my days of high heels and short skirts are over, sorry Shania.


And this particular morning my 2 kilometer “back in shape walk” has just begun to dog me. That is after I finish yesterday’s raspberry filled Valentine’s Berliner (paczki) with a cup of Joe. Mornings in Deutschland may not be so bad after all.
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Sometimes I feel old age settling in.

As example for last nights Valentines date with my husband, I purposely picked a not so fancy restaurant that was a quick 10 minute drive from our house so we would be back in time to watch TV.  I also didn’t mention that it was opening night for 50 Shades Darker (the only conversations about “grey” that night were – what to do about our hair) and I didn’t want to add to the excitement. You see my husband and I married late, had kids late and the only thing sizzling now is out steaks – which are quite good in Germany.

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Valentine’s Day in Deutschland is pretty non-existent as I had to buy a Geburstag (birthday) card for my husband and write in Happy Valentine’s Tag. It’s always easy to find heart shaped chocolate so I was covered there and the local Bäckerei surprised me with plenty of heart shaped pastries. They wouldn’t let me take a photo, which I thought was rather KGBish of them or I should say BND that’s Bundesnachrichtendienst the German equivalent of the CIA. My German girlfriends didn’t celebrate the day. They said it wasn’t very common and probably more for the younger set.(sob) And I heard in Japan the women give the men Valentine cards and gifts. Something got mixed up there!

And as for Valentine’s day here, I did get a dozen beautiful roses (without babysbreath -the florist refused my husbands request to put them in…komish) and we had a wonderful dinner at the Goldener Hirsh, Brauerei-Gasthof und Biergarten. A truly authentic German restaurant dating back to 1725.

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Goldener Hirsh, Brauerei-Gasthof und Biergarten

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Meat salad – they eat a lot of this here.
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Geschmorte Ochsenbacke in Trollingersoße – stewed ox cheek in red wine, interesting.
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Valentine’s Menu

Roses and stewed ox cheek – this time I got the best of both countries.
Guten Morgen meine Lieben, the American Frau
Heres a link for you history buffs: http://www.goldener-hirsch-heubach.de/

Photos Sharon Ritter Copyright 2017

Valentine’s Day dilemma…Whats Taboo? der Deutschen Sexleben or our thoughts of a Cockapoo?


Yesterday my girlfriend said she had to have a Cockapoo. As a cat person, I have to say a puppy Cockapoo is the cutest dog ever. Though I love meine Freundin, I know how extremely busy she is with her family and business, so I gently let her know that maybe it’s not such a good idea.
Hoping I hadn’t crushed my girlfriend’s dreams of owning a Cockapoo, I wondered how our German friends really take to getting advice? Or anybody as to that matter when it comes to a “love of your life” – dog. And as Valentine’s Day just arrived  – I’m not sure of many other things – like marital traditions, dating and the sex lives of Germans as a whole.
And goodness me – whether it is it appropriate to ask?
Is the subject strictly Taboo?

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In Japan, I have heard that most married people’s sex lives taper off after they have kids. Then it drops off dramatically after 50. Maybe the norm? Married Americans from my own personal take seem to have a rather low libido, sex every week or so and always on the decline.

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Our local Triumph Lingerie museum in Heubach, Germany

Here in Germany though, my expat friends and I are just beginning to learn the secrets of the natives. Currently we only have our husband’s input to fall back on. (and what do they really know!) Yes we can search the internet to find answers, but we want to hear it first hand so we can ask a lot of questions and maybe learn a few tricks..ha. Unfortunately though, in this department we have hit the Berlin wall. We have bared our souls and hinted at our (so called) steamy lives behind bedroom doors and have been only met with discreet smiles and nods, but no comments. As I hinted around to my totally hot girlfriend that works for a world renown lingerie manufacturer – there was not a peep about the going ons with her equally hot Deutscher Mann. And I know she gets serious deals on Damenunterwäsche.

Speaking of lingerie and not my mother’s shop  “JeTaime” in Paris, IL.
Lingerie shops in Germany are everywhere. I don’t think my favorite Hanes 100% cotton highwaisted panties exists this side of the Atlantic, only the special imports I have brought in and they’re starting to wear out – Scheiße!
My good friend with the underwear connection did give me a Gutschein (coupon) to her companies Outlet Store 50% off. The first time she offered me one I didn’t go. For me lingerie was for my wedding night, and that other hot night, that I errr won’t mention. (I’m writing with a smile). I did desperately need bras though and the time had come to shop, so I ventured in.

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The store was filled with the most beautiful lingerie – of course nothing I would wear on a daily basis. Where were those big white undies?  Everything matched – bras to panties…so, so cute! They had cute floral prints, sporty neon brights, sophisticated blues, lotsa lace and even polka dots. Every style of bras you could imagine and most of them were pushups. What you didn’t see was a lot of the trashy type stuff that our American boys like. It was all sexy, hot, but for everyday wear. The clientage was equally as interesting. All ages of women were in the shop from pretty young german girls to slim middle aged women and then onto older still hot Oma types. (that’s grandma). There were also couples hemming and hawing as they browsed through the merchandise and even a few single men. Well, it seems to me that from this little schooltrip or Schulausflug there is more to the German sex life than we know.
Or at least I can say where there is lingerie there is…..
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For me I found a bonanza, having a 38 B cup is not so common in Deutschland. The women here are hot, in shape and built like Barbie dolls. So when to my good fortune there was an entire table of big chested small cupped bras waiting for me at the price of 3.00 Euros – 50% off – I stocked up! I did feel a little embarrassed at the cash register though.

For the sex life of Germans, we are still in the dark and for my little outing I did also find one matchy matchy bra and panty set – that I have yet to wear. When it comes to der Deutschen Sexleben, we suspect were at the tip of the Eisberg and this topic definitely deserves to be continued… Ich liebe Dich!
the American Frau

© Ileana0107 | Dreamstime.com – Colorful Composition With Barbie Dolls Photo

Cochapoo: Curtesy of Pixabay released under Creative Commons CC0

Lingerie Museum, Lingerie storefront, © Sharon Ritter 2017

Sharon meets the Schornsteinfegermeister,
my good friend passes her B1’s
and woman across the globe take to the streets


I started my morning at 8:20
– an unusually early hour for the Americanfrau. I woke to the sound of the door “Klinger” and was greeted by the local “Schornsteinfegermeister” – a chimney sweep. A German woman dressed in a completely black uniform adorned with gold buttons. She wore the accruements of her trade hooked to her gold buckled matching belt and carried a large spindle-shaped brush. Her hands and manicured nails were blacken as well as her nose. Now this isn’t exactly the career path I would have followed, but in her own right she had a certain strength about her that I found admirable and most welcoming due to the fact we were now burning wood 24/7.

As a “Hausfrau” and former career woman who has worked and travelled throughout the world, you tend to meet a lot of different types of people and cultivate many friendships along the way. You also tend to pick up political opinions, form ideologies and bust a few stereotypes.

One unexpected place of this cultural conclave, besides my recent front door encounter, is in my VHS Volkshochschule – Deutsches Integrationskurse. In English; a community college where the German language is taught to immigrants. Currently thats me, our friends from the boat, and the significant others of many German counterparts.
In order to receive a permanent Visa every immigrant by law must complete 600 hours of an “Integration” course. As well as learning the language, the course focuses on how to live and work in Deutschland.

It also includes the”Deutsche Regierung” or Germany’s governmental structure and a short course in manners – like you must eat with both hands above the table and the importance of using a Taschentücher to wipe your Nase. Our helpful teachers also answer many hotly debated questions, as for instance “why can’t a man have 3 wives”, or “why can’t I pray on my rug during classtime”?
The 600 hours can be completed in 3 intense classes A1, A2 and B1. You can continue B2, C1 etc. but thats on your own and the government doesn’t pay for it. This week though, I am proud to announce my good friend has completed and passed her B1 Prüfung,
not an easy task. Glückwünsche!

In my daily classes, I have met people from all over the world; Syria, Bosnia, Croatia, Turkey, Russia, Gambia, Sri Lanka (where our cinnamon comes from), Italy, Thailand, Cuba, India and even Korea. And during the class breaks and freetime, like hens in a chicken coup – we women love to get together and talk, talk, talk.
Our discussions range from what countries we came from, our religious traditions, to the food we eat. We exchange hard feelings about being immigrants. We talk about our married lives, our rights and restrictions. Tough questions are asked, as how could you leave your family and everything you own to come to Germany – alone. Did you have an arranged marriage or a career? What does your hair look like under your Hijab and why can’t you go to the Disco? Do you always have to be chaperoned by a man? How do you feel about your children growing up between two cultures – two countries? Will you return or stay forever?

Yet within these why, why, whys, I have come to realise as an American women I am one of the freest women on the planet. I can marry whom I choose, start a business or own a home. I have many educational opportunities. I can support myself through a high paying profession and I am granted equal rights and equal pay. I don’t have to cover my body or risk being shunned by society. When I walk down the street a man will make way for me, open a door or defend my honour if called for.
I can legally burn my bra and my flag at the same time.
Privileges that my Volkshochschule classmates have never known.

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Which brings me to the latest protest of more than 2.6 million women on the steps of the Whitehouse and across the globe. After viewing the political outcry against the newly elected Donald Trump, I was impressed at the political strength and the unyielding message that is being sent to Washington. I am also saddened at the thought that we sometimes have no idea how fortunate we really are; to be able to freely protest, express our opinions and demand results. When I recall the stories of my Indian friend Kala or look into the eyes of Maison from Syria or light heartily chat with masseuse friend Samara from Thailand, I know what women’s rights have meant to them.

Yet, in the world they say everything happens for a reason.
As Trumps off-colored, sexist remarks and racial comments deemed millions in protest, as his political stance made media headlines, that were tweeted, texted and posted to Facebook, as the outcry of women in pink hats were being nationally and internationally televised across the planet, I am sure of one thing –
that my wide eyed Volkshochshule sisters were watching.

Tschüss, the American Frau


Description: 2017.01.21 Women’s March Washington, DC USA 00095 Women’s March on Washington
Author: Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA,
Source:2017.01.21 Women’s March Washington, DC USA 00095

Description: 2017.01.22 Chimney Sweep in Germany
Author: Sharon Ritter
Copyright Protected

I have a bump on my head, my friend has a toothache
and the Russians are happy.
Is my Deutscher Mann to blame? 


Well yes, no and definitely no. For my friend, I think the sweets got her. And now she has the unfortunate fate of dealing with a Russisch Zahnarzt or Putin the dentist. You may seem surprised at the mention of a Russian dentist in Germany. Actually, we have many different nationalities here other than our recent additions that journeyed by boat.

We may live in a small village, but a quick 15 minute ride and we are in the town or Stadt of Schwäbisch Gmünd a cultural metropolis.

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Schwäbisch Gmünd (pronounced Shway-bisch Gamunt) has the population of 60,000 and boast over 120 different nationalities, along with having the biggest Markplatz in Deutschland. 36% of the population have an immigrant background and 16% hold foreign passports. The majority of these immigrants are from Türkei (Turkey). At Mittagessen, (lunch) the the entire city of SG smells of fresh baked flatbread and garlic roasted lamb courtesy of the Döner kebap a Turkish sandwich und Deutsches delight.
One great byproduct of integration is that the food is always good. Though, to hear perfect German being spoken without the slightest resemblance to “Hansel and Gretel” (the blond haired blue eyed storybook characters)
– is always mystifying.
As for the Russian constituent, I have met my share of dental professionals. It seems they have found a niche. 
Russians are touted as some of the most well-educated and smartest people in the world. So you feel that you are in good hands. What is not so good, speaking for myself (the American) if something goes wrong… the word “lawsuit” never applies in Socialized medicine. In the US suing a doctors for malpractice is commonplace, though a little frowned upon. It does though have a way of keeping the system in check. So seeing a doctor or dentist can be a little unnerving. I guess ya gotta eat right, exercise and floss!
As an American running into a Russian, lets say it’s always tense, maybe the Cold war that had something to do with it. Anyway Europeans in general have a very outspoken way of giving you their personal and political opinions as easily as Americans complain about the weather. In my travels, I have had complete strangers walk up to me (after hearing my American accent) and blatantly slam my country, our politics and even the way we speak English. It’s not the Kings English! In retort I gently reminded them of our US freebies – like fighting a couple of wars for them. And for our British friends, remember we don’t drink tea.
My latest encounter was with a Frau from Russia working the bakery counter. When she heard my English accent she asked where I was from?  And I proudly said ” Ich komme aus den USA”. (pronounced Uwe, S, Rrr) .
It was as if an atomic bomb exploded.
Her first words to me were “I hate America” in English. I have been to Florida and I hated it. Who could hate the sunshine state of Florida? As she elaborated in mixed German and English further on of her discontent, I politely listened and said, “hmm that’s odd, many people like America”, with a feeble smile. Well that didn’t hold water.  A quick exit was really my best defense. And now I would have to face here again! How was I going to get my bread? This was the only place that makes Offënfrisch Brötchen
– fresh bread rolls my favorites!
Alas Donald Trump saved the day. As Frau Putin reminded me on my next visit that tomorrow at 3:00 is the presidential inauguration. She then went on boastfully about how she loves Trump and hates that Hillary Clinton Frau. I just smiled and agreed, I guess I’m in good with the Russians.
I can smell the fresh bread now.


As for the bump on my head,
that is my husband’s fault.
In my last blog I recounted about our freezing Schlafzimmer, well it finally reached record lows. My last ditch effort to only heat the room at night, resulted in an ice cold morning. What was I thinking? And this particular morning while I was tossing and turning to keep warm, my lovely German husband was traipsing through the bedroom bringing in firewood at 5:30am! (We have a door in the back of our bedroom that leads outside to a patio stacked with wood).
You see, as much as I would really prefer to start my day with a welcoming cup of hot tea and a foot massage – I live in Deutschland. In our Schwäbian household we don’t use the 3000 litres of oil we bought to heat the 2.5 story house. We burn wood. It’s cheaper. And if you need to start the stove at 5:30 in the morning and wake up your wife – you do.
So as I tossed in disbelief at this act of inconsideration, I then flipped over and hit my head on the the corner of the nightstand.
Guten Morgen.

Bis Später, the American Frau

Permission details: Schwäbisch Gmünd, by WoodyColorado – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18457793
Permission details: President Trump by The White House – whitehouse.gov, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55176146
Danke Gott für Flannel Sheets!

Today it is -3C in the small village of Bargau, that is 26 degrees F. There is a light snow on the ground and the streets are white and riddled with footprints of man, dog and bicycle tracks. What are the chances of a 68 year old man riding a bike past my house today. Sehr gut, ich lebe in Deutschland! 

And tonight, I finally decided to stop sleeping with my German husband.
My decision was an epiphany of self perseverance as I refused to enter our sub-below freezing Schlafzimmer. My decision came when I could actually see my breath. That’s when I drew the line. Being a well travelled and relatively cultured American, I was totally unprepared for “die Deutsches Schlafgewohnheiten für gut gesundheit”, the German sleep habits for good health.

Most Americans including me, have no idea how the other half of the world sleeps. Or maybe Europe, or just Deutschland. Surprise… When I get into bed with my Deutsches husband it’s not all warm and cozy. It’s unbelievably cold. It’s not my husband Andreas, he is warm and snores like a bear. It is the cultural logistics of our beds. For starters, we have 2 single beds on one bed frame. These single beds are 8 inches thick and made from foam rubber. You can have synthetic foam, but we bought the ecologically correct ones for about 600 euros each, ouch!
The mattresses are not bouncy, springy or with special back support. They don’t have pillow tops or make waves – (like my mother’s water bed – true story!). Just 2 pieces of foam that sit on 2 adjustable wood slat box springs. The wood box springs remind me of some type of torture contraption in a Svengali movie and are quite a mystery. I guess they can be adjusted to soft and hard along with the ability to sit up like a patio lounge chair. Quite an ingenious sandwich if not for the fact that two single beds pushed together side by side creates one big crack. And that’s where I, the American sleeps. Only because I would rather sleep on the crack and snuggle up to my husband than turn blue.

Our bedding is equally as annoying. We have two separate single sized comforters. There is a crack below me and a crack above me as the two comforters separate in the night! I have visions of velcro as I toss, turn and think of ways to connect them and still be able to wash them.

And then it is so, so cold.
Germans sleep with their windows wide open and they don’t heat their houses at night. Central heating does not exist here. There are none of those lovely floor vents continually pumping out warm air, with one big regulating control switch. In German homes it is very common for each room to have a radiator that can be manually adjusted to turn off. Which our is! My friend reports that her “Schwiegervater” father-in-law sleeps with both windows open and he wakes up with icicles in his nostrils. – I can believe that.

What is ironic is the fact that we are considering, right now on whether we should insulate the entire exterior of our house. The cost is about 30,000 Euros. Am I crazy? Why would you spend 30 grand then leave the windows open at night!

Unfortunately, it is fruitless to argue the point with my husband, so I decided to leave. I moved into my small lonely office with the futon couch closed the door and cranked up my radiator!

Bliss.

Sometimes our marriage feels like a “I Love Lucy” rerun. As with Lucy and Ricky, it is sometimes the crazy nutty things that can create such cultural clashes. We did though come to an agreement.

5 minutes with the window wide open to air out the room, then only 20 minutes with the radiator full blast, and a very large investment of good ole American flannel sheets.

Bliss.

Bis Später, the American Frau

As an American I brought in the New Year celebrating with Germans, a Russian and a sweet Japanese gal. Who by the way, effortlessly cooked dinner for 13 guest and gaggle full of kids wearing a pink Kimono.

Imagine… just what 50 years ago we were all at war. Our parents would loathe each other! Our grandparents would roll in their graves. Though in light of it all my “beste Freundin” asked me for Hawaii back…ha.
What an evening! Amidst perfectly rare roast beef, American hotdog appetizers and rice noodles, the food and entertainment beamed and political ideologies were carefully kept at bay, due to the fact that Trump won.
And then there were the fireworks!

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 New Years in Deutschland or Europe is quite different than America. It is more like a mix between the Fourth of July and the televised version of the Gulf War or maybe even Bosnia. As a mother of two 14 year old twin boys… you can imagine that this is my least favorite holiday. My New Years Eve’s day and night are riddled with visions of fingers being blown off, bottle rockets going awry and children dodging shrap metal.
My imagination is also equally fueled with the news reports, warning that fireworks purchased in Czechoslovakia are illegal and extremely dangerous.
My, I am sure that boosted sales….
The explosions started well before midnight, almost as soon as we got there. As all seven children, starting from the age of 5 dug into the fireworks stash as if it was Christmas. While we the adults drank beer, talked and danced to the boom, boom of European disco music, while shouting sporadically to them, ” just don’t light them in the house”!
As the stroke of midnight neared we were all outside in sub below temperatures on the front lawn. We looked down over the Swäbian countryside and saw a line of fireworks stretching out at least 10 miles going off like a war zone. It was really quite a beautiful site to see. Until you realized that you are standing about 10 feet away from your husband about to light a 3 foot bottle rocket out of a Champagne bottle in the middle of a crowd of excited children. That is… my German husband who has spent easily half our mortgage on fireworks. When I say the Gulf war, or Bosnia I am not kidding. Fireworks in Europe are not the cute little banned US sparklers or 12″ bottle rockets they are stealth missiles! And to say Americans should give up their guns…humpf!

They have major ammunition here, like batteries of M80’s strung together in boxes. A M80 looks to me like a stick of dynamite. My kids even asked me if I had an extra hair tie, as they needed one to band a bunch of fireworks together for an experiment! And where is my husband in all this? Leading the way. He was so busy blowing off fireworks at the stroke of 12 that I did not even get a New Year’s kiss! Where was I, hiding inside the door with Oma, their German grandmother! As she was fretting that the ash from the fireworks is falling on the cars and damaging the paint jobs.
Spoken like a true Swäbian. They love their cars!
Needless to say we escaped another year without major injuries. Just a hand that got blasted, a thumb that got burned and thigh that is swelling. But as my friend and mother Tamami said, “well the kids just have to learn”.
I would like to write more, but for now we have to clean up all the blown firecrackers and rockets and pick up the tiny bits paper that are stuck in the grass or on die Nachbarn lawns before they start to complain.
Have a Happy New Year!, the American Frau

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