My grandmother looking up at chestnut trees. she is very fond of this row of chestnuts that blossom briefly in the spring.
Healthcare used to be granted to everyone, then co-pays began. During a visit one summer, something one everyoneâ€™s mind was one last appointment with the optometrist before the end of the year, because next year the 10 Euro co-pays would begin. The government doesnâ€™t have enough programs and moneys in place to assist those that have worked in Germany all their lives, and now need full time care in a skilled nursing facility. My grandfather is a great example of this crisis. Diagnosed with Parkinsonâ€™s 10 years ago, he has been in a nursing home for the last four years. The state only pays half of the monthly costs; my grandmother and uncle have to assume the remainder, which works out to over $2000 per month. My grandparentâ€™s life savings, their retirement moneys, are gone.
My impression is that the current economic problems are a direct result of the socialist system of healthcare and education that Germany has followed for so long.
Education in Germany has always been free; High School level, or University level. Imagine a free college education at the University for every German! My cousin tells me today that tuitions started only in the last year. Currently, he pays $1000 for a semester. Almost unbelievable, considering how big the hype about college money is in the US.
One thing I havenâ€™t done enough of: drink beer. Well, I havenâ€™t been drinking any beer, really. I donâ€™t know if one can count the Radler. One part light beer from Lich, one part refreshing Lemonade.
Grandmas here, mine included, like to drink the stuff. (only 2,5% alcohol) Germans, at least the younger crowd, like the strange beer pairings. Currently on the market: beer with grapefruit, passion fruit (passion beer?), tequila, and cola (my personal fave)
a long awaited walk in the forest, where grandfather, grandmother, and myself used to take long walks.
One thing I feel okay putting off: getting drunk on German beer. Alcohol content is higher, the beer is generally heavier, and I wouldnâ€™t want my grandmother to see me in such a state. Even though I am 28, I canâ€™t help feeling like an innocent little do-gooder every time I come for a visit at Omaâ€™s house. We call her Heilige Hilde, (Holy Hilde) for all her critiques and pressing needs to make virtuous improvements on everyone around her. Whether its nay-saying premarital bed sharing, or buttoning a blouseâ€™s top button for propriety - I feel inclined to be on my best behavior on every visit. She turns 86 this year, and consequently it is difficult for me to imagine that she used to party.
I mean house in the Hollywood hills style where the drinking and singing carried on until the next morning at 6â€¦as told by uncle Joe, born 1946, and witness to the crazy antics of Oma and Opa in their firmer years. Imagine my shock when he said that â€śHoly Hildeâ€ť would be out of the count the next day, sprawled across the bed with curtains pulled and hammers pounding in her noggin.
One thing I want to have more of before I go back: Gelatto. Well, Americans know the Italian ice cream as gelatto, but here itâ€™s simply Eis. There are no other purveyors of ice cream here but the Italians. Walk down any main street in any hamlet in Germany, and you will find Italian Ice cream shops.
I have yet to find one owned and operated by a German. Average cost for a scoop is a dollar, and the scoop is roughly the size of a golf ball - not like the baseball sized cold stone creamery dollop. The bonus with this is you can try at least 4 different flavors and not be groaning with sugar OD later. My favorites are hazelnut, Malaga, (Spanish nomer, containing raisins and rum) Amaretto, (Italian for really really good â€˘ tastes like sweet creamy almond oil) Strawberry, and Raspberry.
grapevine growing in grandmother's brother's yard...