anecdotes, dogs, Germany, shopping

Another week, another impulse Facebook purchase…

Once again, thanks to the weather and COVID-19, it wasn’t a very exciting week in Deutschland. Even if the pandemic weren’t an issue, I doubt I’d want to go out and about in the gloomy weather that happens every January in this part of Europe. It’s chilly–not particularly cold, which is unusual for Germany in January– and there’s a lot of rain. We had a couple of dustings of snow, but nothing remarkable. The backyard is still a slop pit. Last night, I was cutting pieces of our felled crepe myrtle and feeding them to the fireplace, surprised by how easily they burned, despite being newly cut and not seasoned.

Our landlord usually supplies us with free firewood, but he hasn’t offered any lately and Bill hasn’t requested any. We don’t use the fireplace as often as we probably should… we both love having fires, and we haven’t been lucky enough to live in a lot of places with fireplaces. So far, I count two homes with fireplaces and one with a really awesome masonry heater. Sometimes I wish we could transport this house and its landlord to Baden-Württemberg, where we had snow more often.

Anyway, none of that is either here nor there. Today’s post is about yet another Facebook purchase I made. I don’t usually buy stuff off of Facebook, but one night, I was on the brink of falling asleep, and I saw an ad for the DryMee quick dry bath mat. I was half asleep when I made this purchase decision, and once I made it, I kind of regretted it. The mat cost about 40 euros, after all. And then I noticed how long it would take to get to me– 10 to 15 work days, I think. Why? Because it was coming all the way from China!

But the mat arrived this week, and I have to say, I am pleased with it for one major reason, which you can see by the photo above. The mat is flat and thin enough to fit under the door when it’s open. So now I don’t have to stand on a wet floor after a shower or move a mat there while I’m showering. Also, while I can’t say that the mat is absorbent as it appears to be in the video on the Facebook ad I bought it from, it IS quite absorbent and makes quick work of sucking up the water from the shower.

On the Web site where I bought this mat, it says that they’re running a “New Year’s Special” with 50 percent off the suggested price of 79,90 euros. Well, folks, I think the suggested price is bullshit, and I wouldn’t pay that much for that mat or any other mat, unless it was capable of massaging my feet or something special like that. But for what it is, and what it does, I have to admit I am satisfied. It does what we need it to do, and I am delighted that I can open and close the bathroom door without having to move it.

One thing I also have to mention… When you order stuff from other countries, sometimes you have to pay duties or customs fees. I didn’t have to pay anything for this mat, although I was prepared with some euros just in case. When I made my hasty impulse purchase, I didn’t realize this would be shipped from China. If I had known it was coming from there, I probably would not have bought it… not because I have anything against China per se, but because it takes so long for orders from China to get to us. On the other hand, as I wrote earlier on my main blog this week, I have gotten some real and honest enjoyment out of some Chinese products, like the hat pictured below.

Yes, that is a picture of Mister Rogers with his two middle fingers raised.

Last year, an enterprising Chinese businessperson offered this nifty hat for sale on Amazon.de. And yes, as an impulse buyer, I decided to purchase one. The hat came in handy this week after an encounter with a drunk hoodlum in our neighborhood. You can read about that incident on my main blog, as it’s not PG rated enough for this blog. Kidding about the PG rating… but not about the obnoxious uninvited visitor. I also wrote an update after some of our other neighbors posted about the intruder in our neighborhood Facebook group.

Mister Rogers did this while singing with little kids. Clearly, he wasn’t aware that raising the middle finger is taboo.

I like how community minded Breckenheim is. I was going to cross post that story on this blog, since it needs some love, but I decided that a lot of the people who are currently reading this blog also read the other one. So if you’re not a reader of my main blog, now’s your chance to check it out. I hope it doesn’t offend.

Noyzi the Kosovar rescue dog went to the vet for some routine vaccines. He charmed the vet with his stumpy little natural bobtail, which is always wagging. He becomes more adorable by the week, especially as he trusts Bill more and more. It really is rewarding to have him. Sometimes, a little ghost of Zane (his predecessor) comes out. But Noyzi is very much his own dog with his own personality.

Noyzi does one thing that most of our rescued hounds have never done. I think the one exception was CuCullain (CC), our very first beagle mix (with husky) rescue. That is, Noyzi will often “stand guard”. He will sit or lie next to me, facing the door. CC was a tri-colored beagle mix with bright blue eyes and a horrific husky-like undercoat that shed a lot. But he did have some of those big dog– prey oriented– traits. Sometimes, Noyzi reminds me of him. Like CC, Noyzi also doesn’t bark much, nor is he a licker. He will, however, happily plunge his nose into my ass, especially if I’m bent over. As someone who usually has beagles, this is a strange thing to get used to. All of our dogs have been too short to do such a thing.

The only other major event that came up this week is that our landlord came over to settle the Nebenkosten (other costs– water, gas, etc.) for 2021. Once again, we didn’t use as much water and trash service as we paid for, so we got about 600 euros back. And once again, I am amazed at the differences between this landlord and others we’ve had. It’s so nice to rent from someone who is fair, honest, and treats us with basic respect. I hope we can stay awhile… at least until our stocks recover from the recent plunge. I doubt that will be a problem, given the state of the world today. But I’ve also learned after years as a spouse to a military guy, sometimes Uncle Sam has other plans. Or, barring Uncle Sam’s plans, some meddlesome, narcissistic twit who doesn’t mind upending other people’s lives based on their own whims.

Someday, we WILL travel again. Or we will eat in a restaurant. But for now, so ends another gloomy winter week in Deutschland… as the post Christmas blues slowly wane into the February blues.

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gadgets, housekeeping tips, shopping, staying home

Operation Mr. Sandman: Bill tries the “Kokoon NightBuds” sleep device…

Well, it’s another dismal weekend weather and pandemic wise, here in Germany. Since COVID-19 numbers are so high, and it’s cold and drizzly outside, I’m sitting here watching dog grooming videos on YouTube, giving Arran and Noyzi a thrill.

Bill has had trouble sleeping for as long as we’ve known each other, and he is chronically exhausted once the sun goes down. He is not willing to use drugs for sleep purposes, but he’d done everything from getting a sleep study done (resulting in a diagnosis of “poor sleep hygiene”) to putting weird holographic stickers on his temple and forehead. I am constantly picking up ear plugs that he puts in his ears, I guess to drown out my snoring. He says I don’t keep him awake, but I know I snore sometimes. So does he!

The ear plugs always fall out of his ears when he tosses and turns, and wind up being sucked up by my vacuum. He’s also used white noise machines, and every night, we run a fan so he can zone out.

A few days ago, Bill got a package he had been eagerly anticipating. It’s a sleep aid device called Kokoon NightBuds, which he discovered from a Facebook ad. With a 30 percent discount, Bill paid 179 euros for this innovative gadget with ear buds. The Kokoon ear bud/headphone devices come from a manufacturer in London, and were developed with the help of sleep scientists. He did not have to pay any customs fees when it arrived. There’s a handy app that works with Bluetooth technology to help improve sleep quality. Prior to his receiving the ear buds, the company sent Bill a questionnaire to assess his sleep style and give him some tips on getting better sleep. According to the Kokoon folks, Bill is a “morning lark”. I could have told them that without a questionnaire!

The Kokoon NightBuds strap around the back of Bill’s head and play soothing background noise to help him sleep, as it also monitors how long he sleeps and judges his sleep quality. He’s been using the NightBuds for a few days now, and is enjoying checking out the evolving data they collect every day. My husband is a real gadget geek, so the NightBuds are right up his alley. Below are some photos that show how this cool invention works. I have also made a very short YouTube video that shows a little bit more about what’s in the box and how it all works.

So far, Bill says the Kokoon NightBuds have helped him sleep better. As a bonafide geek, he also enjoys getting the sleep data every day. The buds come in different sizes, which are included. Bill uses the mediums, which were pre-loaded on the gadget.

Pretty nifty!

I notice that the Kokoon over the ear noise canceling headphones are available on Amazon, and it looks like it gets mixed reviews there. I didn’t consult Amazon before I wrote this post, so I have only reported what Bill has said about using this device.

For the record, Bill is using the NightBuds, which he says are not capable of noise canceling. However, he says they can be used for audiobooks, watching YouTube, or even answering the phone. And if you set your phone with an alarm, you will hear it through the buds. The Kokoon itself doesn’t have an alarm on it.

Personally, I don’t have trouble sleeping, so I haven’t tried them myself. I also don’t like to wear ear buds because I have small ears and I usually find them uncomfortable. But Bill says the NightBuds are comfortable for him, and they do come with a variety of included sizes for best fit.

I’m not being sponsored for this post… I just think this is an interesting gadget and wanted to share Bill’s experience. And since it looks like it might snow today, I don’t have any big plans for an outing. Maybe soon, the sun will come out, and we can go dine outside after we show our vaccination proof…

Sheesh, COVID-19 really sucks. I really hope we can enjoy some normalcy soon. But in the meantime, maybe we can help Bill sleep better. The featured photo is one rare instance in which Bill took a nap with Arran, device free.

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German culture, Germany, holidays

Christmas 2021 is officially history…

We had a cold, but sunny morning yesterday, so I took the dogs for a walk and took a slightly different route home. While I was out and about, I noticed that my neighbors who had real trees had put them out to be collected.

The rest of the message offered local information and the advice to make sure all of the ornaments were off of the trees.

I read in our local Facebook group that this is usually an annual fundraising event done by the youth fire brigade. Unfortunately, due to the escalating cases of COVID-19, that event was canceled. It wouldn’t have affected us, since we have fake trees. It definitely looks like Christmas is officially done in our little town.

It amazes me how quickly time passes. This was our eighth Christmas here since we moved back to Europe, and our tenth overall. It was a little less weird than last year. At least we got to go to a Christmas market in 2021. Still, this COVID-19 lifestyle is a bummer. Even though I got a booster last week, and am “legal” to do as much as anyone can right now, the prospect of going out and doing things is unappealing. So I spend my days at home, hoping for better, less restrictive days soon.

Below are a few photos from yesterday’s walk around the neighborhood. It was nice to see the sun, at least. It’s pretty cloudy today, and I’m feeling kind of blue. But maybe we’ll get out for some fresh air. Bill just had some bloodwork done and was told he is deficient in Vitamin D. I’m not surprised. Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin”, and there is precious little of that in Germany this time of year.

I look forward to better weather… and lower incidences of COVID-19. Someday, I want to travel again, and enjoy our long weekends.

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anecdotes, chores, Germany, weather, Wiesbaden

All the trees are down…

and the sky is… actually sunny right now. For once, it’s not cloudy and gray outside, but I fear that will change in a few hours, when it starts snowing again.

We had snow in the wee hours of the morning, and sadly, the other crepe myrtle in our backyard was a casualty. Bill and I slept in, enjoying the ability to snooze through the dark hours of the morning. I got up to let Noyzi out, and beheld this sight…

We had two myrtle trees in our backyard. One of them mysteriously died a couple of years ago and we basically cut it down ourselves. The other held on for a bit longer, but was looking somewhat peaked this year. I noticed it wasn’t handling the very light snow very well. We’ve also had lots of rain lately, so the ground is very soggy and messy. I guess the snow that fell early this morning was too much for it. Bill was up at about 3am, letting the dogs out for a nocturnal whiz. He said it was really coming down then. But now it’s already melting, as the temperature isn’t very cold.

When I broke the news to Bill about the tree, he was feeling a bit traumatized and full of dread, given our harrowing experiences dealing with the landlady in our last house. But he went out and shoveled the common area, and when the landlord eventually made an appearance, he told him about the tree. The landlord said, “Okay, I’ll come take a look at it later.” Then he drove off in his car to go pick up a new battery.

I set about taking down the two Christmas trees. I’d actually kind of been looking forward to taking them down… The smaller tree had a dead string of lights on it that gave me the excuse to get rid of the other strands like it, which for some reason had about 30 feet of wire for about ten feet of actual lights, and huge boxy plugs that made it hard to plug them into a power strip. I don’t know why they were like that, but boy, were they annoying. But they did last eight Christmases, so I guess that’s pretty good.

I do like looking at the lights… and I will miss their colorful, homey glow in the living room, which is not very highly furnished. But once January comes around, it becomes necessary to dispense with the holiday decor. Oh… I guess I could just leave it up… I did have a friend whose dad left up the beautiful Christmas tree her late mother had put up many years ago. It was actually very pretty, even though it was a holiday relic that had been turned into art.

My friend was an artist herself, and is now a psychology professor at the University of South Carolina, which is where I attended graduate school. I met her in the early 90s when we both worked at a church summer camp in Virginia. She had New Year’s party one year in her hometown of Grottoes, Virginia, for all of us camp folks. That’s how I got to see her mom’s tree… and the beautiful farm her dad owned. I remember it snowed then, too, and we went sledding! Later, we played “Spin the Bottle”, which was weird. But it was also fun! Sometimes, I miss being young.

The landlord just rang the doorbell and he and Bill went out back. He took one look at the tree and said, “Maybe it’s too old. Does it bother you now?”

Bill said it didn’t, but he just wanted to let the landlord know.

The landlord said, “Okay, we’ll just leave it for now, and then when the whether dries up a bit, we’ll remove it and maybe get a gardener to come in and plant something else.”

This probably means Bill will have to re-lay the boundary for the lawnmower robot again. But maybe we’ll get a fruit tree or something.

Wow… the difference between landlord/landlady responses to falling things due to acts of God is astounding. Bill is relieved that went so smoothly. So am I. I don’t know that crepe myrtles were the best idea for that spot in the yard, anyway. The fence that separates our yard from our neighbor’s is overgrown with ivy in the summer. That probably had a lot to do with why the trees died.

Anyway… now we have a reason to plant a real garden, if we can keep Noyzi out of it. I will miss the shade in the summer, though… and the privacy. It’s sad when trees collapse. Rest in peace, crepe myrtle. I’m sure our dearly departed Zane will be happy to lift his leg on you once again, up there over the Rainbow Bridge.

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anecdotes, coronavirus, Germany, Health, Wiesbaden

Princess knotty gets a boost…

This post is probably going to contain a lot of crankiness, profanity, perimenopausal TMI… proceed at your own risk.

The day I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. I just got my Moderna booster shot, seven months after my second shot last June. I lived to tell the tale, too… at least so far, anyway.

Bill made me an appointment over a month ago. I would have tried to have gotten in sooner, but the rules were that we had to have been at least six months past our last shot. All of the earlier time slots were full. Bill got his boost on December 1, 2021, and it knocked him on his ass. We’ll see how I react. When I had the first two shots, I didn’t react much at all. Just had a sore arm and a blotch. This time, I don’t yet have a blotch, but the area where I got the shot is a little itchy. The lady went higher on my left shoulder this time.

I should have realized we’d be early for the vaccine appointment, since I am married to “Johnny on the Spot”. He’s always early. I often am, too, but not like Bill is. Bill got home from work at 11:30am. I figured that was kind of generous lead time for my appointment, which I thought was at 1:30. But, he was telling me we needed to go way sooner than that. So then I thought maybe the appointment was at 1:00pm.

We arrived at the vaccination center at about 12:30 or so– too early. But again, I thought I had the time wrong. I was suddenly really glad I had decided to wear my down parka instead of my trusty wool “coatigan”. The vaccination center is on a windy hilltop and I’ve never not been cold there, even in the warm months. I also wore my favorite blue sweater, which was made in Scotland and purchased at a Scottish shop in Rothenburg ob der Tauber a few years ago. I was going to wear a different sweater, but then I realized it was too bulky to get my sleeve up high enough. It turned out that changing sweaters was a good idea, since the nurse injected so high up on my shoulder.

It was cloudy and chilly today, but at least there wasn’t any rain, which we had all day yesterday. I was feeling a little icky, not because of a respiratory illness, but because after a four month hiatus, my ovaries woke up and I got my period, complete with cramps. Naturally, that made me a little grouchy, along with the chilly wind that blew across the hill where the depressing abandoned strip mall on post has been turned into a vaccination center. We all wore masks and filled out a government form, then stood around waiting for the show to get on the road.

As I was thinking about the appointment, I wondered why I didn’t just drive myself. I do have a car. I’m out of practice, though, and it’s been ages since I last drove my car. Besides, Bill likes to take care of me… hence today’s facetious post title. In retrospect, maybe I should have handled this chore myself.

So there I was, cold and crabby, thinking that I had a 1:00pm appointment, since we were there so early. Bill had made the appointment for me, so I didn’t know for sure. A guy finally came out to explain how the process would work. I turned to Bill and said, “What time was my appointment?”

He grinned and said, “1:30.”

Then I said, probably louder than I meant to, “WHY did you bring me here so early?”

He started to explain, and a kind looking lady, also with her husband turned to tell me, “If you have an appointment, you’ll be seen for sure.”

I said, “Yes, I heard him….” then I noticed the look in her eye (I couldn’t see the rest of her expression), and said reassuringly, “I’m just bitching at him…”

She and her husband laughed. I wondered what made her feel the need to intervene. Did I really sound that irritable? I probably did… Suddenly, I felt a little ashamed and embarrassed. The couple laughed and said, “She’s just being a wife.”

“I don’t want to stand in the cold.” I added, realizing that my social skills have eroded further than I realized. The lady and her husband agreed and that little intervention passed.

Then another lady asked me if I was in line. I told her to go ahead and Bill, apparently thinking I was talking to him, said “What?”

“I wasn’t talking to you.” I snapped. Yeah… cranky, chilled, and crampy… that makes me decidedly crotchety. The lady flashed me a look of surprise. I probably seemed really bitchy and entitled.

“Why don’t you go wait in the car.” Bill suggested. “I’ll wait for the announcement.”

“That’s a good idea.” I agreed. My toes were chilled, as were my hands. My lower back ached. My abdomen twitched with Aunt Flow’s tardy arrival. Yeah… I was definitely not fit for human company.

Bill unlocked the Volvo for me. I sat there and watched more people show up… it was a little slice of Americana, with all sorts of people in all sorts of clothes showing up for their shots. It always amazes me to see how people dress on military installations.

Finally, at about 1:25pm, I noticed Bill heading toward me. I got out of the car and got back in line. Two chatty ladies, obviously friends, were talking about how much of a pain it is to deal with traveling and having kids, especially during the COVID era. The taller one, who appeared to be a bit more experienced, was telling the other one about the wonders of Germany’s train system.

“You can book your own car… and drink!” the taller lady said. “And the kids can have their own spaces.”

Between them, they had five kids, not all of whom could be vaccinated. As they were describing what a pain it is to travel during the COVID era with kids, I realized I am glad that dealing with kids and vaccines isn’t one of my problems.

“I hate driving here.” the younger one said in a charming southern accent.

Me too… I thought to myself.

Finally, it was my turn to enter the building, where the familiar stations were laid out just as I remembered them. It was nice to be out of the cold. Another friendly lady complimented me on my pink and blue tweed tartan purse, which I bought on the Isle of Harris in Scotland. Harris Tweed– don’tcha know? And it matched my outfit, too. She asked it it was my family tartan. It’s not… although it kind of looks like the County Donegal tartan, which is bogus, since Ireland doesn’t really have tartans. That would be a gimmick. But Bill’s kilt is the County Donegal tartan, since that’s where the Crossens are from.

I put the wrong number as my ID number. They did away with using Social Security numbers for security reasons. So now I never know which one to use– mine or Bill’s… or my Social Security Number, which I know by heart.

An elderly Black man with two canes was in front of me. I was touched by how attentive the staff was to him. The female half of the couple next to me knew the guy. I got the sense that he was someone well known on the Wiesbaden installations.

The shot stung this time. I was right to wear my sweater with looser arms, as the nurse wanted access to the “meatier” part of my arm. Um… it’s all meaty! The platinum blonde woman who administered the shot said, “You’re a bleeder!” as she slapped a Band-Aid on my shoulder.

In more ways than one… I thought to myself as another wave of menstrual cramps hit me.

After I got my paperwork and rested for ten minutes… which was probably shorter than that, Bill spirited me back to the car. He handed me Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and said, “For your trouble. Why don’t we just go home, instead of messing with getting COV-Pass certificates from the Apotheke?”

“Nah, let’s just get it over with, since I now have to go in there with you.” I said. Apparently, the rules changed since last summer, and I had to bring my passport and sign paperwork. That wasn’t true last summer.

We went to the Globus, where a friendly pharmacist quickly and efficiently got us new QR codes for our COVID apps. A lot of places no longer accept paper certificates as proof of vaccination, since they can be faked somewhat easily. It’s getting to the point at which you have to have a phone, just so you can eat at a restaurant. That was my first visit to Globus since March 2020.

When we got home, Arran and Noyzi were delighted. And they showed Bill in a delightful way.

I’m just glad to be boosted. We’ll see how long it lasts. Maybe next time, I won’t be so cranky, chilly, or crampy. All in all, it wasn’t so bad today. At least the process was basically efficient, and the staff was friendly. Friendlier than I was, earlier today, anyway. My arm is starting to hurt more now, so I think I’m going to go sit on my can. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but since Aunt Flow is here, I have a feeling that either way, I’ll still be feelin’ kinda bitchy.

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coronavirus, German culture, Germany, holidays, staying home, Wiesbaden

Happy 2022!!!

We had a rather quiet New Year’s Eve, with fondue, Riesling, and the news of Betty White’s passing just 18 days before she would have turned 100. Last night was almost like most nights, save for the five minutes of fireworks. I may be exaggerating a tiny bit, but only a TINY bit…

Officially, fireworks were banned for New Year’s Eve, because officials wanted to cut down on people injuring themselves and flooding the hospitals. As you probably know, COVID-19 is still a big problem and the hospitals are overwhelmed. I’m surprised in light of that, officials haven’t banned driving on the Autobahn, which I would imagine is potentially just as dangerous as lighting a bottle rocket. In any case, I knew there would be a few fireworks, because someone always has them. And there were a few fireworks, but it was really not a normal Silvester by German standards.

Last night was our tenth German New Year’s Eve. It will go down in history as the quietest one yet. The loudest and wildest one we ever experienced was in 2007. I could have sworn there was a war going on outside of our house in Pfäffingen. The night sky was literally alight with fireworks, and I could see our neighbors furiously setting off things that went crash and boom. Our late beagle, MacGregor, was absolutely terrified, poor thing!

Noyzi seemed a little perturbed by the noise and both dogs were curious, but they weren’t really scared. Our neighbors were in the street wishing Happy New Year to everyone… It was overall a pleasant evening. Below are some photos from our first try with the new fondue/raclette grill. It was a success! We really had fun making fondue. It was easy, festive, and even a little romantic! I should have bought this machine a long time ago.

Right at the stroke of midnight…
This is a pretty good representation of our fireworks display… It went on for a few minutes.

One other thing I would like to mention… My German friend tells me that the cookies our landlord brought us– yesterday’s featured photo and reposted below, actually have some local significance. The little macaroon behind the 2021 is a Bethmännchen pastry, which is a Frankfurt tradition at Christmas that has been around since 1838. The cookies are made with made from marzipan with almond, powdered sugar, rosewater, flour and egg. The recipe has not changed in the entire time this cookie has existed!

What a thoughtful gift!

2022 is already off to a good start. Bill made delicious cheese soufflés for breakfast!

I actually taught him to make these because we had them on our honeymoon in Virginia at a B&B. They aren’t hard to make and they make for an elegant breakfast dish on special occasions. We also have two leftover, and they will keep.

Well, that about does it for New Year’s… I am going to go write a more serious post on the main blog, and then I’ll probably watch a bunch of movies or something. I think Bill is going to cook a nice dinner, which I’ll probably document in photos if it’s pretty enough… and it probably will be!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve and an even better New Year’s Day. Maybe this year, we’ll get to do more traveling!

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Germany, holidays, housekeeping tips

The last day of 2021… (cross post)

This post also appears on the main blog, since I have different readers there. The featured photo are cookies brought by our landlord.

I’m getting a late post up today. I was actually thinking of taking off the last day of 2021. I didn’t have anything earth shattering on my mind that I felt compelled to write about. Bill had the day off, and we were both kind of tired. Bill was especially tired, since he never gets a full night’s sleep. So I worked on reading my book, and he took a nap. Later, he’ll fire up the fondue/raclette grill set I got him for Christmas, and we’ll try it out. He’s already used the new hot tea pot I got him. He’s drinking tea as I write this.

Bill and Arran, preparing for tonight.

Arran took a nap with us, while Noyzi tried to steal my brand new fuzzy slippers. I think he thinks they’re small animals. I might let him take them, but he’s already eaten a couple of toys. The emergency vet is the last place we want to go tonight.

I managed to accomplish a couple of other chores, too. After I worked on trying to rid the toilet of lime scale and calcium stains, I went on Amazon.de and bought some citric acid, as well as cleaning soda and salt. Today, I tried the acid on a really terrible hard water stain in the shower that I’ve never been able to get rid of. I poured the acid on the stain and, wouldn’t you know it? That stain was gone in minutes! There’s no trace of it. I think it’s a wonder drug. It’s hard to believe it’s taken seven years to figure this out. Vinegar is good, but citric acid is the bomb! And it’s cheap, too!

I also climbed up on a stepladder in the shower and knocked the calcium off the shower head jets, so the nice rainfall spray won’t squirt all over the place anymore. Now, the new shower head is as nice as it was in September, when it was installed.

I heard that fireworks weren’t supposed to be sold in German stores again this year. Like last year, the government wants to discourage people from setting off fireworks, because they don’t want people getting hurt and needing to go to the hospital, thanks to COVID. I suspect there will be fireworks, anyway… Germans are law abiding people, but they love fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I think that’s pretty much the only day they are allowed to be set off, at least by the regular rank and file folks. I seem to remember that there were fireworks last year, despite the ban on them.

Our New Year’s celebrations are usually pretty boring affairs. We spend them much the same way we spend any night at home… listening to music, drinking wine, and talking.

I’m hoping 2022 will be a better year for everyone… although 2021 wasn’t, for me, a particularly bad year. I’ve had worse. But this COVID-19 shit needs to be fixed. Hopefully, 2022 will bring us some breakthroughs.

In any case… I want to offer sincere thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blogs. This main site, in particular, has really taken off this year! In the past month or so, I’ve had an explosion in traffic. That really does my heart good, and makes writing this blog worth the time and effort.

The travel blog has been somewhat less trafficked this year, but I can understand why. I haven’t been traveling as much… nor have many other people! I’m sure the traveling we have done may even be a downer for some folks. I know some people suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), and it can be depressing to look at other people’s travel posts when travel is so potentially risky and definitely stressful. I am very grateful, though, that we finally managed to go to Croatia. I hope we can visit again. There are more places I want to see. And with any luck and maybe God’s grace, if you’re into God, that is– maybe COVID-19 will be more under control by this time next year.

I’m still making music, too… Been getting better with my guitar skills and can even play some songs. There are some times when I find myself playing things completely spontaneously. I still have plenty of learning to do, which is a good thing. And I’ve also found someone to collaborate with on YouTube, too, which is very rewarding. Maybe I’ll put up a new song or two, now that I have new gear. Maybe I’ll try to learn bass guitar and banjo, too… if the virus continues to spread, I might have to do something else to pass the time.

Well… I don’t have much else to say, except…

I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve, and a very fortuitous New Year’s Day… and 2022!

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Christmas, Germany, holidays, staying home, Wiesbaden

Christmas victuals…

After we opened our presents and cleaned up all the pretty paper and bows, Bill got to work on making dinner. He had plans to sous vide a couple of Cornish hens stuffed with wild rice and clementine dressing, using the Anova Precision Cooker I got for him a few years ago. Accompanying our hens would be mashed potatoes, peas, and homemade cloverleaf rolls. For dessert, we had the trifle Bill prepared on Friday. Of course, there would also be plenty of wine, music, and canine company.

The sous vide process took about four hours, and involved sealing the chickens in special bags, which Bill found under the tree yesterday, along with a handy stand for the precision cooker when he’s not using it. After four hours at 150 degrees, Bill would put the hens in the oven to broil, so the skin might crisp.

I think I prefer the baking or broiling method of cooking Cornish game hens. But Bill only uses the precision cooker for steaks, most of the time, so he really wanted to try this method. Supposedly, it keeps the meat from getting too dry.

The end result of Bill’s experiment turned out to be basically okay, except I thought my hen was a little underdone. A little more time in the oven quickly fixed that issue, and I’m perfectly well today, so I obviously didn’t get sick from eating underdone chicken. I do think the chicken stayed moist and flavorful, but the glaze Bill used got a little too brown. I guess I’m a purist when it comes to these things. We also enjoyed a couple of nice Italian wines we purchased through Sommelier’s Choice, an Italian purveyor. A representative is in the wine group I run.

I think my favorite part of the meal were the rolls, which were perfect. I’m proud to report that I taught Bill how to make rolls. When we met, he could cook only a few things. Now, he’s become a real chef. Or, at least in our house, he’s a chef. I seem to have retired from cooking. I used to be pretty good at it, back in the day. I also loved the dessert, although I didn’t come close to finishing it! We have leftovers.

We used the good china and silverware, which we probably ought to break out more often. We also lit candles and a fire, which made the living room look cozy. However, curiously, I neglected to wash the tablecloth. It got a good cleaning this morning.

I got Bill a fondue and raclette grill for Christmas. I did hesitate on that, since I don’t eat a lot of cheese. I do like very specific kinds of cheeses– they have to be mild and melted (it’s a texture issue). If you go to Switzerland for raclette, the whole restaurant smells like ass. I do enjoy fondue, though, and would probably love raclette made with cheese that smells less like ass or a barnyard. Maybe we’ll have a chance to try it today.

I bought Bill a fondue cookbook, as well as a really beautiful cookbook with Alpine recipes, featuring Austrian, Swiss, French, and Italian favorites. Actually, I went a bit nuts on cookbooks, just like I always do. There were SIX of them under the tree! I just couldn’t just pick one or two. I buy them, but we don’t use them very often. I just like to have them around. Some of them are genuinely fascinating. For instance, a few years ago, I bought Bill a copy of The Flavor Bible. He loves it, because it offers a scientific look at cooking. Anyway, now we’re going to need another bookshelf.

I would count this year’s Christmas as one of the better ones. Bill got to talk to his daughter on Skype, and he got to see his cute grandchildren… especially his granddaughter, who is apparently quite a ham. And his daughter is expecting another baby in 2022. Bill told me that when he was talking to her, it felt like everything in the world was alright. That’s a wonderful way to feel, especially in these troubled Corona times.

Below are some pictures from our Christmas dinner…

I hope you all had a nice holiday meal! I look forward to 2022… and some exciting new travels.

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Christmas, Germany, Wiesbaden

Christmas morning 2021…

Merry Christmas, everyone… or happy holidays… or whatever! It’s now 12:30pm on Christmas Day, 2021. Bill and I have had breakfast, and we unwrapped presents. As usual, I got Bill a lot more gifts than he got me. But I got him stuff like clothes, books, and a few things for the kitchen. He got me tech gadgets… a new gadget for my amp, a stool for playing guitar, since it’s not optimal to sit on a computer chair with non-removable arms, and AirPods Max. He also bought me a jigsaw, as did his mom, who took one of my pretty photos from our latest vacation and had it made into a custom puzzle. I just bought two new puzzles for myself, so I expect I’ll be busy over the crappier weather days in the winter.

I bought tons of Christmas music yesterday. I don’t even really like to listen to Christmas music much, except on the day itself. There are a few exceptions to that rule. I love Kenny Loggins’ 1999 album, December, for instance. I love James Taylor’s Christmas album. I also really like Amy Grant’s Christmas to Remember album, from 1999– the one that has fewer synthesized numbers on it than her other Christmas albums. That album has a fantastic version of “Highland Cathedral”, which was my bridal march music.

I also downloaded non-Christmas music. I got on a roll. What can I say? As I write this, I’m listening to an awesome album I bought unheard. I just ordered it because Keb’ Mo’ is on it. I LOVE Keb’ Mo’, and have been waiting to use my tickets to see him play since 2020. His show has been postponed three times because of COVID-19. Hopefully, it will finally happen in May 2022. Anyway, this album, from January 2020, is called The Juice. It’s by G. Love & Special Sauce. Where have they been all my life?

Speaking of music, and gifted musicians, last night, while Bill talked to his daughter on Skype, I watched Natalie MacMaster and her husband, Donell Leahy, their band, and their seven amazingly talented kids. They performed a pre-recorded Christmas concert from their home near Ontario, in Canada. As usual, I cried when they performed. It cost about $20 Canadian to watch the show. Below is a link to Donnell Leahy’s ad on Facebook. For some reason I can’t get it to center. Sorry.

It really is a great show!

Anyway… the weather is rainy and it’s cold outside. Bill is cooking Cornish hens for dinner, and yesterday, he made a quiche for dinner and trifle for tonight’s dessert. We’re making up for our lame ass Thanksgiving meal and “that damned ham”.

Below are some photos from this morning. I’d say it was a nice haul.

In January, I’ll probably buy myself a new cordless vacuum. I may write another post tomorrow, after we have our Christmas dinner. We’ll see how well it turns out. For some reason, this blog gets unbearably slow when I add photos.

Our landlord brought over chocolates and three bottles of wine. He’s very generous and kind. The dogs are happy, although Arran gets crankier as he ages. He still loves to play, though. And he still loves his walks and food. Hopefully, he’ll stick around a long time.

I hope everyone has, or had, a great holiday… or day.

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advice, coronavirus, German culture, Germany, laws, news

Word of advice… don’t call a German cop a “fascist”…

It’s another cold, grey, drizzly weekend in Germany. Christmas will arrive next weekend. I suppose I should be more into the spirit of celebrating the season, but I just can’t seem to find my mojo. I don’t really like going out in yucky weather even when there isn’t a pandemic. The spiking COVID numbers aren’t inspiring me to get out there and mingle with the masses.

But not everyone feels the way I do. My German friend, Susanne, shared with me some news out of Reutlingen. It seems there was a riot/protest there last night, consisting of Nazi sympathizers and COVID deniers, most of whom weren’t masked and ignored the rules against congregating. Things got pretty out of hand in some places, so the Stuttgart police showed up to maintain order.

Germans are usually pretty tolerant of peaceful protests and strikes. They’re usually scheduled ahead of time and announced, so people can choose not to be involved… or, if they’re into it, they can participate or observe. I believe one has to get a permit to protest legally. I have no idea if this group followed the rules. The protests I’ve seen are usually pretty chill… afterwards, everybody breaks up and has a beer or something. But every once in awhile, people do get their hackles up. Such was the case last night.

This video was shared on Facebook by Matthias Kipfer in the public group, 99,99 % (Filder) vs. R.E.S.T.. I’m not sure where this particular incident involving the man screaming about fascists took place. It might not have happened in Reutlingen, although I can see by the photos and videos in the group, there was plenty of action there last night. I see the guy screaming about fascists was originally posted on Twitter by Stadtrand Aktion. As you can see, the cops weren’t amused. This guy was promptly arrested. I suspect he will get a nice big fine, as outlined in the trusty 2022 Bussgeldkatalog. Edited to add: Susanne thinks the fascist cop incident might have happened in Berlin, since the cop has a B on his uniform.

More than once, I have written about how insulting people is illegal in Germany. It’s especially true that insulting the cops is a big no no. All I can think is that this guy took complete leave of his senses, forgot to whom he was speaking, and lost total control of himself. I know how that feels. It happened to me a time or two when I was a teenager. This fellow looks to be well beyond the teen years.

I think it’s funny that there’s a catalog of fines people can consult to find out about laws and fines. I especially get a kick out of the section on the fines for insulting people in traffic. When they are translated into English, they are both hilarious and nonsensical. Below is the list of fines as of 2022.

Some of these insults seem to have lost a little in their translations.

In all seriousness, these protests were pretty bad. Apparently, some people were using children as human shields against the water cannons cops tried to use to disperse the agitated crowds. I was impressed by how the cops managed to keep their cool. German police officers don’t seem to be as violent as American police officers often are. But then, they probably pay better and offer more training.

My German still sucks, but I do find myself picking up words and understanding more, especially when my friend shares interesting German articles with me that include juicy tidbits about current events. If I have gained anything from the past seven years, besides a massive beer gut, it’s a rudimentary understanding of basic German. My Armenian is still better, though. That isn’t saying much.

The above photo basically translates to “People who think vaccinations change their DNA should consider it an opportunity.” Who says Germans aren’t sharp witted? Not I!

In other news… I hope the new blog design is welcomed by the few regular readers who have been keeping up with me during these COVID times. I decided to play around with it a few days ago, and when I went to change it back to the theme I was using, I discovered that the “wandering” theme was retired. So now I have a new but similar theme, and a new color scheme. I think it’s easier to read.

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