Poppies and Puffer

There are an assortment of events on the 11th of November. Each year, without fail, it comes around and each year, I celebrate my 29.5th birthday, again.
This year, was no exception. But then there are the priorities, right? Must not forget to pause at 11:00am and take a moment to remember those gallant soldiers that fought so hard so that the future generations could have a life filled with Nintendo Wii, Starbucks & Microwave Cheeseburgers.

Overshadowed by that solemn occasion if you live in Cologne is the beginning of Karneval. In the days when I was being ‘a-courted’ by Mr Dear Husband, he casually enquired as to when my birthday would fall….

“On the 11th of November,” I replied, visions of candlelit dinners and small shiny packages danced in my head.
His face fell…..
“What is it?” I asked.
“You’re kidding me, right?” he whispered hopefully.
“No, it has always been on the 11th of November….pretty sure…Yep, the 11th.” By now I am watching his handsome face starting to contort with excruciating pain.
“What is it? Is something wrong?”
“Well, it is like this…..” he took a deep breath and in a rush came the words that would rule my birthday for the rest of my married life.
“On the 11th of the 11th, at 11:00am, in Cologne, is the opening of Karneval….and it is my favourite day of the year….” His eyes misted up as memories of past 11th of the 11th rush past his eyes… memories of him drinking copious amounts of Kolsch within the shadow of the Cologne Cathedral, and usually dressed in some insane costume. I thought his eyes were misting up because he was being romantic and was overawed by the idea of marrying a girl born on his favourite day.
He cleared his throat, leaned forward over the table, took my hand… “I am sorry to say, it seems that you will be spending your birthday alone, I LOVE Karneval and never miss it.”
I thought he was joking. Twenty odd years later, let me tell you, he wasn’t.

But all was not lost. Before the son, came the endearing father… now my father-in-law. When I am here in Germany, he never fails to come up with something to please on the 11th of the 11th.

This year, it was this:

Now, be honest, how many of you have ever been given a hand built Kartoffel Kiste for your birthday!! I just know you are keeling over with jealousy…. Can someone please tell me how long I need to leave the potatoes there before they turn into vodka……….. preferrably in Grey Goose bottles.

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