From aboard this train

I’m on a train speeding through a snow storm, the first I’m witnessing this season, and everything is white and the train, for once, is warm and quiet and cozy and comfortable, and I’m reading some beautiful writing by a dear friend, and I’m on my way home, to my mom who will be picking me up from the station. What more could a person ever really ask for?


Spread the joy

My mom and I went for a walk through the fields behind my parents’ neighborhood last weekend, and took with us some bows and Christmas tree ornaments that we wouldn’t use ourselves this year. We put five or so on random trees and bushes in the hope that others would spot them and smile. You could probably call this littering but we chose to call it spreading the holiday spirit. Heh.

Seafood dinner

My mom hosts a semi-fancy seafood dinner once a year, usually in October or November when it’s dark and cold early, and sitting inside indulging in a good meal with people you love is just the right thing to do. Think of it like a substitute Thanksgiving but with less gravy and more champagne. In recent years, what was originally a seafood dinner has morphed into a mussel feast of somewhat worrying proportions. If you can’t handle OD-ing on protein, do not attend, is all I’m saying. Or rather: know when to stop, do not OD in the first place. (This cautionary note is brought to you by my dad who had too many mussels one year and to this day is unwilling to speak openly about what happened after.)

In any case, it’s always a wonderful affair. My mom and I ordered and picked up 8 kg (about 18 lbs.) of mussels at a local seafood shop. We made some sauces and got baguette and German Pumpernickel, which I hate but apparently goes well with mussels. We had wine of course – well, my dad and grandma did. I did whiskey + coke along with my uncle; it’s our little tradition, no matter what kind of food is served. My aunt had also brought champagne because why not. The mussels, although not especially photogenic I’ll admit, taste delicious when cooked in a vegetable broth with tons of different herbs. My mom has her own recipe that she’s perfected and kept secret over the years. And like every year, it was a big success this year as well.

Have you ever tried mussels? Do you like seafood in general?

With my mom

I spent today with my mom, who had taken the day off work so we could hang out. We drove to the big city nearby, and just did whatever we felt like at any given moment. Stopped at H&M to try on flannel shirts and pullovers. Had caramel lattes at Starbucks. Looked at cutesy winter decoration stuff in small stores that smelled like Christmas and played modern jazz. And yes, I did in fact seek out the men’s fragrances section at a large department store in the hopes of spotting Alexander Skarsgård in his Calvin Klein ads, WHAT OF IT? I just needed to smell that Encounter fragrance once. Once. And take home a flyer with his face on it because they had them and I could. SHUT UP AND GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS, EVERYONE.

I also bought a Stutenkerl (bottom left photo). It’s a traditional pastry sold at bakeries this time of year. I don’t know the story behind them but they remind me of my childhood and they are delicious, so there. Sweetest part of the day, though? Looking in those dressing room mirrors and being genuinely content with what I saw. Most delightful reward for months and months of hard work.

Went for a long walk with my mom through the fields behind my parents’ neighborhood tonight. After yet another day of heavy rain, everything was luscious green and extra muddy. And then the sun set, and painted everything in a warm, yellow light. There were actual amber waves of grain, and soft wind, and no one else around.

I’m going back to Cologne tomorrow – which in most ways is the complete opposite of the above – so this was a lovely end to my one-week stay up North.