Takeout Easter from Little Italy of Wiesbaden!

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When Bill and I first discovered Wiesbaden in 2018, we found Little Italy, which is a tiny Italian place in the downtown area. From our first visit, in October 2018, we were warmly welcomed at this place, which has a very friendly manager who speaks perfect English. Before COVID-19 struck, we were semi regulars at this restaurant, especially on Sundays at lunchtime.

Unfortunately, vaccine rollout has been very slow in Germany. We’re still kind of on lockdown. Fortunately, we were spared the “hard lockdown” Chancellor Angela Merkle wanted to impose over the Easter holiday, but things are still pretty much closed all over the place. It really sucks and I’m tired of it. But at least I’m not sick.

Anyway, the other day, Bill noticed that Little Italy was offering a special holiday menu for Easter. Since it’s been months since we last visited this restaurant, we decided to order for Easter. It wasn’t really for the holiday, per se. Bill and I are not very religious at all. But this was a good excuse to have some professionally prepared food. Below is a screenshot of Little Italy’s Easter menu, priced at 45,90 euros per person.

Bill loves lamb. I don’t care for it, so I was happy to see they were offering a filet of sole roulade. We both like duck, so the duck carpaccio antipasto was a hit. I am also a fan of profiteroles. He sent off an email order to the manager, who confirmed quickly.

This afternoon, when Bill went to downtown Wiesbaden to pick up our order, he encountered pretty tough parking… It seems that despite the lockdown and Mrs. Merkle’s pleas for everyone to stay home, a lot of people were walking around the city center. Consequently, parking was in short supply. Luckily, the folks at Little Italy had everything packed up nicely. Bill said when he went into the restaurant to get our food, the manager had his phone and was glad to see him. I think he was getting ready to call Bill to see if/when he was coming!

Below are some photos from our Easter repast, which was a very nice and welcome change of pace. The dogs thought so, too… I only wish we could have enjoyed it in person. But Bill broke out the wedding china and silverware and all was lovely, even if the Beastie Boys were playing over the HomePod at one point.

The duck carpaccio was surprisingly good. It was served chilled, with a sundried tomato chutney that married beautifully with the duck breast. The duck was sliced thin, making it easy to enjoy. The portion size was generous. I think of the three courses, I liked the duck carpaccio the most.

Bill loved his lamb. I didn’t try it because I don’t care for lamb. But he also mentioned loving the potatoes, and he has some left for tomorrow’s lunch. Likewise, I managed two of the filet of sole roulades, generously stuffed with spinach cooked to perfection with almonds and Parmesan cheese. I enjoyed the way this was presented, with the garlic risotto and cherry tomatoes. It was excellent. Little Italy also sent along some homemade bread, but Bill forgot to put out the bread plates.

I love profiteroles. This dessert was good, but it could have been better. For one thing, I’m pretty sure the chocolate sauce was good old Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. I remember it well from my childhood. The pastry was tasty, but nothing extraordinary. I have had better… but for the price and convenience, I’m not complaining. I know if we were dining at the restaurant itself, we would have probably had something that doesn’t travel so easily, yet was a bit more impressive.

I’m really hoping that COVID-19 restrictions will loosen up soon. I am so tired of being locked down. I want to get out and do things again. But today’s Easter meal was a nice reminder of what’s to come when the virus is finally beaten into submission… and trust me, it will be. This isn’t the first pandemic. It just feels like it to us.

Anyway, many thanks to Little Italy for yet another nice Sunday meal, and to Bill for ordering it, paying for it, and picking it up. He even did the plating. I found myself a real keeper… And I hope that soon, we can go back to enjoying restaurants in person instead of just at home.

For us, Easter will always be meaningful, not just because it’s the day Christ rose from the grave, but also because it’s the day his ex wife delivered divorce papers while they were visiting Bill’s dad’s house in 2000. She wasn’t expecting Bill would agree to the split, but he did… and twenty-one years later, he’s living a sweet life. So Happy Easter, everybody! I hope you had a great day!

Repost: Choucroute Garnie… one last tenuous connection with Anthony Bourdain…

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Today is Easter, and we are going to be getting takeout from a favorite restaurant. I hope to write about that meal later today or tomorrow. But, for right now, I would like to repost this essay I wrote about the late Anthony Bourdain, just after he died in June 2018. It originally appeared on the Blogspot version of my Overeducated Housewife blog, when I was living in the Stuttgart area. I don’t have a specific reason for sharing this today, other than I think it’s a good post. Actually, it reminds me a bit of what we’ve lost since COVID-19 came along. I am so ready for another day trip somewhere… and new photos, especially for this blog. I miss travel and eating in restaurants.

Edited to add: Looking back at my original piece, I see it was preceded by another post I wrote just after Bourdain’s death. I had just discovered his show, Parts Unknown, about three weeks before he committed suicide. I had watched it because he visited Armenia, which is where I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the 1990s. I was enthralled by Bourdain’s show and was looking forward to watching more episodes. But then, seemingly out of the blue, he killed himself. So did famed handbag designer Kate Spade. The post that preceded this one was about how depression really isn’t the “common cold” of mental illness. It can be very serious and even fatal.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill and I went to Ribeauville, France for Memorial Day weekend.  Since January 2017, Bill and I have visited Ribeauville, in Alsace, four times.  We’ve found a sympathetic apartment owner who doesn’t have a problem welcoming Zane and Arran.  Aside from that, Alsace is a very beautiful area that isn’t too far from where we live.  It makes for a convenient place to get a weekend away.

Last Friday, Anthony Bourdain killed himself in Alsace.  He was staying in Kaysersberg, a town Bill and I had been hoping to see during our last visit.  We never got around to going to Kaysersberg on our last trip, but it’s definitely a must see the next time we’re in Alsace.  Especially since last night, Bill showed me Anthony Bourdain’s final Instagram post…

This is a screenshot of Anthony Bourdain’s last Instagram post.  He put it up exactly one week ago.

I know a lot of people who read this blog regularly might not necessarily read my travel blog (although this is being reposted on my travel blog in 2021).  Those who haven’t read the travel blog probably missed my recent tale about the dish pictured above, Choucroute Garnie.  

Choucroute Garnie is a very popular dish in Alsace that includes Alsatian style sauerkraut, sausages, charcuterie, other salted meats, and potatoes.  Many restaurants in Alsace serve it, and my husband, Bill, happily enjoys it.  In fact, below is a picture of Choucroute Garnie he ate when we visited the quaint town of Eguisheim, France in February 2017.

Bill enjoyed Choucroute Garnie at Caveau Heuhaus in Eguisheim.

Although a lot of people like this particular dish, it’s not something I would voluntarily order.  I don’t like sauerkraut very much.  Actually, I don’t really like cabbage because it upsets my stomach and makes me fart a lot.  I will eat cabbage to be polite, but I don’t care for it and would avoid ordering it in a restaurant.  While I do like sausage and other pork products fine, I also wouldn’t necessarily order a big pile of them as pictured above.  One sausage is fine for me.  I don’t need to eat a big plate of pork.

On the first night of our most recent trip to Ribeauville, Bill and I decided to have dinner at a restaurant we had not yet tried.  Our experience at this establishment was disappointing from the get go and continued to get worse.  I had decided on an entrecôte (rib eye steak) for dinner, but our waiter somehow heard “choucroute” instead.  I was a bit suspicious when he didn’t ask me what sauce I wanted or how I preferred the steak cooked.  However, he took off before I’d had the chance to say anything and we didn’t see him again until his colleague tried to deliver the dish pictured below…

The Choucroute Garnie I didn’t order.  Bill says it wasn’t as good as the one he had in Eguisheim.

Unfortunately for our waiter, I was tired, hungry, and way over the bumbling service we had already experienced at that point.  He came over to argue with me about what I’d ordered and actually had the nerve to say, “You couldn’t have ordered entrecôte.  If you had, I would have asked you what sauce you wanted and the temperature.”

My acid reply was, “That’s right.  You didn’t ask and I wondered why.”

He scurried off with the choucroute, but then came back and tried to get me to take it, since cooking what I’d ordered would take time.  I really didn’t want the choucroute, but I was especially exasperated that the waiter had accused me of lying about my order and was trying to sell me something I didn’t want.  

Bill, prince of a man that he is, took the choucroute and I took his dish, which was potato pancakes with smoked salmon.  I had actually been eyeing the potato pancakes anyway, so it was initially no big deal.  But then I realized that one of the potato pancakes was very scorched.  I didn’t bother to complain because, at that point, I just wanted to get the hell out of there.  But I did turn the experience into a snarky blog post and a few people in my local food and wine group thought it was funny.  When I saw Bourdain’s final Instagram post last night, I was reminded of my own recent experience with Choucroute Garnie.  It was just something else, besides depression, I’ve had in common with the late chef.

People who read this blog and those who know me personally may know that I have suffered from depression for years.  It’s not nearly as bad now as it once was.  I no longer take medications for it and I don’t have the same distressing symptoms I used to have.  However, I do sometimes get very pessimistic and “down”.  I think about suicide often, although never to the point of making plans or carrying them out.  It’s more like fleeting thoughts of how life is kind of wasted on me, since I don’t really enjoy it much.  I see people with warm, loving families who are dealing with life threatening illnesses or injuries and they just want to live.  Here I am feeling kind of apathetic about my existence.  Although I do enjoy many aspects of living, I don’t necessarily have a zest for life.

A lot of people probably think I have a pretty charmed life.  If I were looking at me, I might think the same thing.  I have a wonderful, patient, indulgent husband; I’m basically healthy; and I get to travel a lot.  While I don’t really make money, I do have a vocation that I’m free to pursue with no hassles with editors or people paying me to create content.  I don’t know if anyone cares about my writing or music, particularly on this blog, which doesn’t bring the hits it used to.  However, writing it gives me something to do with my mind and a reason to get up in the morning.  It gives me reasons to read books so I can review them.  Believe me, although I’m frequently bored and sometimes depressed and anxious, it’s not lost on me that some people might envy my freedom and ability to see the world.  I agree, those are wonderful things.

I really don’t know why I have these deep seated feelings of shittiness.  I think there are probably a lot of factors, some of which are hereditary and some that are situational.  I usually feel worse when I express something negative and someone tries to be “helpful” by telling me how wonderful my life is.  I probably ought to keep my negativity to myself, but that’s not necessarily helpful, either.  Whenever someone, especially a person like Anthony Bourdain, takes his or her life, people are shocked and wonder why they never “reached out”.  I have found that reaching out often annoys other people, most of whom would prefer it if you’d just get over yourself and didn’t involve them in your problems. 

I do want to express one thing that I’ve recently realized.  Despite feeling insignificant most of the time, I know I have made a difference to a few folks.  When we moved here in 2014, I decided to promote my travel blog in the local community.  I’ve gotten some negative feedback from a few people, but for the most part, my posts are well tolerated or even outright appreciated.  I notice the ones I write about things to do locally and/or local restaurants are especially popular.  I recently wrote one post about places to go to “beat the heat” in Stuttgart.  That one has really taken off.  I’ve seen a number of people come back to it repeatedly, since it offers enough suggestions to last a good portion of the summer.  It makes me feel productive when I see that people are inspired by my experiences.

It occurred to me the other day that while I may never know who has been affected by my writing, in a way, I will have helped some people make priceless memories of their time in Europe.  The people who read my posts about obscure places like Ruine Mandelberg, Glaswaldsee, or the Burgbach Wasserfall, especially if they take the time to see them for themselves, will have memories that, in a small way, I helped them make.  I know that may sound like an egotistical statement to some people, especially since I have also been affected by other people’s writing.  However, knowing that a few people are taking my suggestions and making memories of their own does give me another reason to keep writing and going to new places on the weekends.  It gives me a purpose for being here, other than just to wash Bill’s underwear and make him laugh.  I’m always looking for new things to see and write about.  In the process of visiting and writing about different places, my own experiences in Europe are also enhanced.  I’m never sorry after having explored somewhere, even when something goes wrong.

When I lived in Armenia in the mid 1990s, I often felt like I was wasting my time.  I got a lot of negative feedback from my Peace Corps bosses as well as my local counterpart, who felt I wasn’t doing enough.  I was in my early 20s, hampered by depression, and kind of overwhelmed by what I was supposed to be doing.  I didn’t feel assertive enough to start, say, an English club or hang out with the kids.  I remember the summer of 1997, as I was planning to finish my assignment, going through some rough times all around.  I couldn’t wait to leave Armenia, and yet the prospect of going home was very scary.  When I did finally get home, the homecoming I had eagerly anticipated was pretty much ruined by my dad’s entrance into rehab.  As bad as I felt in Armenia, I felt even worse in the year after I returned home.  I felt like such a burden to my parents, especially since I wasn’t even sure my time in Armenia had been productive.  I started becoming very despondent and hopeless.  That was when I finally got treatment for depression.  
Things gradually got better.  I learned how to wait tables and about fine dining.  I studied voice and attended to my depression for the first time.  I made some friends.  Finally, I landed in graduate school at the University of South Carolina, which was fulfilling, although it didn’t lead where I thought it would.  I earned a MPH, MSW, and ultimately an Mrs….  

Before I decided to go to USC, I remember interviewing at Western Illinois University and telling the director of a Peace Corps Fellows program that I knew that I’d made a difference simply by going to Armenia.  He visibly recoiled at that statement.  I think he thought it was an arrogant thing to say.  Actually, it was a statement of fact.  I was in Armenia at a time when there were few Americans there.  There were people I met there who had never seen an American in person before.  I know a lot of them still remember me and always will.  Even knowing that, though, didn’t erase my feelings that I hadn’t done enough and that my time in Armenia didn’t amount to much.

It wasn’t until almost twenty years after I left Armenia that I found out that– for real– I actually had made a difference.  Facebook put me in touch with my very first Armenian teacher, who still works for the Peace Corps, as well as one of my best former students, who is now a high ranking director in the Peace Corps Armenia office.  I didn’t have anything to do with his decision to work for the Peace Corps, but the fact that my former student remembered me and I didn’t permanently turn him off of Americans means that my time in Armenia was well spent.  Maybe I wasn’t the most hardworking or dedicated Volunteer, but I still made a difference.  And maybe people in Stuttgart think I’m annoying, obnoxious, and arrogant, but there are people who like what I do and it’s affected their experience here in a good way.  So that keeps me going… at least for now.

If you’ve managed to read this whole post… which is a lot longer than I’d intended it to be… I want to thank you.  Thanks for giving me a reason to get up in the morning.  Thanks for reading about how Anthony Bourdain and I tenuously have a couple of things in common, even if it’s just being served Choucroute Garnie in Alsace and visiting a few of the same places, like Alsace and Armenia.  Knowing that even a few people like what I’m doing means a lot more to me than you’ll ever know.  And maybe someday, in Bourdain’s honor, I’ll order the Choucroute Garnie in Kaysersberg…  But I’ll be sure to take Gas-X, too.

Cross post: A pox on people who don’t leash their dogs…

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This post also appears on my main blog. I am reposting it here because it has to do with living in Germany. I’ve noticed that even though a lot of Germans think Americans are crappy pet owners, some of them aren’t so responsible themselves.

A PSA.

We’re expecting a few packages today, but the weather is really nice– sunny and kind of warm– so I decided to walk the dogs a little earlier than usual. Actually, this is more like a return to an old habit. When we lived near Stuttgart, I used to walk them in the mornings as a matter of course, but lately I’ve been walking them later in the day.

Arran has me a little worried. His poop is looking kind of abnormal. Parts of it look normal and parts are dark brown/black and greenish. I know he’s been having some digestion issues lately. We took him to the vet last month and had him checked for worms, which they didn’t find. But although he’s pretty perky and playful, he’s not his usual self. He’s also gained some weight lately, which may be causing acid reflux (maybe he also has another mast cell tumor, although I haven’t seen it).

In any case, on our walk, we had to wait for the trash truck, which was maneuvering out of our narrow, crowded street and down the one way road out of the neighborhood. Then we made our way through the main drag, which is narrow and crowded with cars parked on the street. The sidewalks are also crowded with trash bins. I was about to breathe a sigh of relief as we were turning down a pedestrian area where people keep their gardens. I noticed Arran was about to poop and I wanted to have a look at it before I threw it away.

I noticed a guy with an athletic looking female dog approaching as I bent down to pick up Arran’s poop. I had managed to scoop up the shit, noticing that it looked somewhat more normal, although I think I saw some remnants of a toy in the last turd. My dogs were both on leashes, although Arran’s is a Flexi-lead tape leash. He probably doesn’t need it anymore, since he doesn’t run as much as he used to.

Guy with athletic female dog did not have her leashed. She started barking at Arran as I was finishing cleaning up the poop. She also lunged at him, which caused him to lunge back. German guy grabbed his dog, but still didn’t have her secure. So I was trying not to get shit on my hands while handling two dogs who were leashed. Meanwhile, his unleashed bitch was harassing Arran.

This is one reason why Noyzi is always leashed. He runs like a freight train.

I probably gave him a super annoyed look. I didn’t say anything, since my German sucks… but I’m sure all he needed to know was written all over my face. Then I noticed another person with an unleashed dog, but he stayed out of the altercation and was obviously better trained. His owner managed to get him in her house before he got into any trouble.

Seriously, though… why not put your dog on a leash? Especially when you see someone is trying to be responsible and clean up dog shit, plus they have two dogs they’re juggling? Fortunately, this time, no one got hurt. This is not the first time someone’s out of control dog has intruded on my dog’s space. One time, it happened when a dog was able to climb out of his fenced yard. We were living at Fort Belvoir, an Army installation, at the time. He attacked my beagle, Flea, who was feisty but only weighed about 25 pounds to the other dog’s much larger stature. We ended up with a $200 vet bill, thanks to that incident.

My dogs are ALWAYS on leashes. Until we got Noyzi, our dogs have always been beagles, and we can’t let them go off leash because their noses can get them into trouble in a hurry. Aside from that, I don’t fancy having one of them get a bee in his bonnet and wind up on the Autobahn, which is very close to our house. We already lost one dog to that deadly highway last year.

The guy hurried ahead on the trail. I noticed his dog was staying by his side… until she wandered out into the field and took a big crap. Naturally, he didn’t bother to clean it up. That doesn’t really surprise me at all. Asshole. At least the weather is better. Here are a few recent photos from the neighborhood. They were taken last week.

Political Schwag that is sooo German!

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Bill got home last night. He and Arran had a joyous reunion. Both of them cried… Arran cried with joy when he sniffed Bill and realized his favorite person was home, and Bill cried with relief having survived three weeks of TDY. He had a challenging three weeks. Don’t get me wrong– he was in the Army for 30 years and has endured all kinds of stuff. But that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful for him and for us.

I don’t tend to pay a lot of attention to the stuff in our mailbox or on our doorstep, unless it’s something that looks important. Just before the recent elections, someone left a little bag of political schwag for us, not knowing that, alas, we aren’t locals. Bill finally looked in the bag this morning and was very amused. Behold…

I’m delighted by the seeds, especially. Our poor backyard has really suffered over the wet winter months and Noyzi’s insistence on running back and forth like a crazed shepherd. I like to plant flowers and spruce things up, and since the “lockdown” has sort of lifted a teeny bit– Germans can get haircuts, buy books, and visit the garden section of their hardware store– this seems like an especially appropriate gift to voters. Who doesn’t love flowers? Except for those of us with allergies. In any case, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an American politician give out flower seeds or bottle openers as a means of bolstering political support. I think it’s cool… and very GERMAN.

Although yesterday’s bipolar weather might cause us to put off gardening for a week or so.

As you can see by the featured photo, our village’s Easter decorations are up. It makes things look a little more normal, at least, even though the COVID-19 restrictions continue. What a bummer… but at least Bill is finally home again. I have missed him, and this morning, when I felt his hand on my shoulder, I realized how much I have missed human contact. I guess this pandemic is teaching me to appreciate some of the small things in life.

A year ago, we tried to adopt a dog and that effort turned into a tragedy. This year, we’re still healthy and reasonably happy. And we have Noyzi, the Kosovar street dog, in our midst. He has really been a great asset to our family and is turning into a really loving and adorable friend. I live for his daily tail wags, goofy smiles, and poop zoomies/crazy dog. I think he was meant to be ours, against all odds. That being said, I hope to hell those vaccines get out soon, so we can go back to a somewhat normal lifestyle and do some traveling again.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Today, I received a package I had been eagerly awaiting. It came from County Clare, Ireland, and was decorated with stamps and stickers. The lady, name of Anne, who had sent me my order from Luka Bloom, had drawn little musical notes next to my name, which she had written in cursive that looked a lot like my own… especially after I’ve had a couple of beers.

The mailman asked me in German if we didn’t have a post office box. He was a young lad and I hadn’t seen him before. He’d also caught me off guard when he spoke German to me and I was standing there in a nightie with no bra on. I responded in English and he understood, just at about the time that I mentally translated what he’d said. No matter, since I wouldn’t have been able to speak German back to him. Isn’t it cool that my Irish music got to me on St. Patrick’s Day? Especially since I wrote to Anne to ask her to send it to Germany, even though I have a U.S. billing address and there was no way to add a different delivery address in their order form. It was no problem to make the change– and if I hadn’t, God only knows when the APO would have sent it to me.

So who is Luka Bloom (born Kevin Barry Moore)? He’s a fantastic indie folk musician and the brother of Christy Moore, another great indie folk musician. I was introduced to Christy Moore by an honest to God Irishman with whom I used to work at a Presbyterian church camp in Virginia. Funny thing is, my Irish friend, who lived near Belfast and most definitely not a Brit, was a Catholic. He ended up marrying one of the other counselors, a lovely Black woman from Stafford, Virginia. They have been together now for over twenty-five years and have six or seven children… I’ve lost count!

My Irish friend sent me a mix tape when I lived in Armenia and it had some of Christy Moore’s music on it. I liked it so much that when I got back to the States, I sought it out and stocked up my music collection.

Anyway, Christy Moore recently plugged his brother’s latest album, Out of the Blue. I am more familiar with Christy Moore’s music, so I decided to pre-order the new album, as well as a couple of others that looked interesting. As I’ve gotten older, I often find myself drunken downloading music or buying CDs from street musicians others I don’t know well. I’m very seldom disappointed in the results, but then I have very eclectic musical tastes. Luka Bloom’s new album, by the way, can be downloaded. I decided to get a CD because he was signing them. I also bought a CD that I couldn’t download, and another came with a download I got from the site.

Other than listening to my new CDs, I have no other special plans for today. I might not even have any whiskey or beer, because I’ve kind of been enjoying letting my body go booze free. I’m hoping Bill will be home sometime between tomorrow night and Friday night. After that, I suspect my teetotaling will conclude. I haven’t been totally faithful to the wagon during this latest marathon TDY, but I have found that I’ve not really wanted to drink alcohol so much… which is a relief, given my colorful family history.

I’ve found that I like Luka Bloom as much as I do his brother. Right now, I’m typing this and listening to one of the albums I bought, remembering when Bill and I took our cruise from Scotland to Northern Ireland with a stop in Carlingford, which is in the Republic of Ireland.

Our guide was a local guy named Dermott who bore a passing resemblance to Joel Osteen and had a charming Irish lilt. He told us about how Carlingford has an annual Leprechaun hunt (April 17th) to raise money for the town. Then, he started talking about Northern Ireland vs. the Republic of Ireland.

It turned out Dermott was Irish, but was born and raised in Newry, on the northern side of the border. He spoke of how in the 80s, the border checks were brutal. Guards would literally take cars apart, looking for bombs and contraband. Then he said he hoped one day Ireland would be reunited– it became clear that Dermott had Nationalist leanings. That got a rather disgruntled reaction from the elderly Brits who were on the cruise. Bill and I had no real skin in the game, except for our own Irish heritage. Turns out that other than the Irish surname I got from Bill when we married, I am actually more Irish than he is.

Then, Bill proceeded to annoy the Brits, who just wanted to get away from Dermott (I got the sense they thought he was an ingrate). Dermott was talking about Irish folk tales. Bill happens to love Irish literature and actually studied it in college. And then it seemed that he knew more about it than the guide did… The guide had heard the stories from his father, while Bill had studied it at American University and written papers on it… I got the sense that the other cruisers were irritated with both of them by the time that excursion. Luckily, there was a lot of booze on the boat.

Bill and I have been to Ireland a couple of other times. We went in 2016 for our 14th anniversary. One of my funniest memories from that trip was running into a bunch of 12 year old boys on a crowded train to Kilkenny, where we were going to tour the Smithwick’s Brewery. The kids were hilariously witty. When they found out Bill had been to Iraq and we were from America, they asked all kids of cheeky questions. The poor beleaguered “den mom” who was with them kept giving the look. But I swear, we about died laughing when one of the kids said, “Nobody vacations in Ireland! It’s AWFUL!” Then, a few minutes later, he asked us if we considered Canada our “goody two shoes neighbor to the north.”

The third time we went was to Dublin, to attend a marathon concert featuring Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt. The six hour concert, in and of itself, was reason enough to love our visit. But we also stayed in a fabulous hotel– the Merrion– and we had high tea. It was a marvelous time. I really miss travel… especially carefree travel. Here’s hoping that COVID-19 will be arrested soon, so we can go back to Ireland and raise a pint with those lads who were on the way to Kilkenny, who are now closer to 18. Seems like whenever we go to Ireland, we make at least one new friend and many new wonderful memories. At the very least, I come home with new stories… perhaps more than I do in some of the other places we’ve been.

From Luka Bloom’s latest album, Out of the Blue. I’m listening to this as I type this.
And one by Luka Bloom’s brother, Christy Moore. Believe it or not, this was the first version of “Fairytale of New York” I ever heard. It’s a cover… but it’s a damn fine cover!

Well, that about does it for this wistful post. I sure am ready to fast forward to our next trip. But barring that, I’d just like to fast forward to seeing Bill again. I have really missed him.

Another week alone and locked down…

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I don’t have a lot to report this week, other than I bought a new laptop for traveling… if we ever do again. My old one functions okay, but it’s almost seven years old and it was time for an upgrade. It arrived a few days ago and I’m still breaking it in.

The weather has been pretty yucky the last couple of days. I expect rain today. I even saw a prediction for snow, although I don’t think it’s quite cold enough. The wounds on my knees are mostly healed up, and I expect by Friday, when Bill comes home, they’ll be nothing but slightly tender scars. I did take a few photos this week. Here they are…

I am really missing being able to travel, eat out, and do fun things. I’ve missed discovering local gems and writing about them. And when Bill is out of town for weeks, it sucks even more. He’ll be home in a few more days. Hopefully, by the end of the month, the lockdowns will lift a bit more and we can have some fun somehow.

On the plus side, Noyzi is fitting right in and is a delight to have around. Every day, he gets cuter and funnier. He’s still terrified of the TV, though. Arran continues to be cranky but lovable. I’ve stopped dreaming about our next destination… for now, it’s a big deal for me to put on a mask and go to the grocery store.

COVID-19 SUCKS.

Twice in a week…

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Ever since we moved back to Germany in 2014, I’ve avoided doing a lot of driving. I have a 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible sitting in the garage now. The battery has died three times since we moved to Wiesbaden because I so seldom go anywhere. Bill has his Volvo, which we purchased in 2019 and picked up in Sweden. Those were the days! I miss being able to fly somewhere without a bunch of hassles. Normally he would be driving the Volvo today, but he had to go on TDY (temporary duty yonder) for three weeks, and his company makes him rent cars when he goes on business.

Since the Volvo is in the driveway, I can’t get my Mini out without moving it. I also had two chores to do this week. First, I had to drop off a fecal sample at the vet’s office on Monday. Then today, I woke up realizing that there were a few essential items I needed. I can walk to the Rewe if need be, but I also had an empty rack of beer to deposit. So I got in the Volvo and headed off to the store, after carefully dog proofing the house. I can’t say “beagle proofing” anymore, since one of our dogs is definitely NOT a beagle.

This may seem like not much of a big deal… except prior to this morning, I had not been to the grocery store in over a year. I quit going because of COVID-19. Bill goes, because he’s out and about anyway. I used to enjoy grocery shopping, back when I was single. Now, it’s a real chore. I hate wearing a mask for many reasons, which I won’t get into here. And I hate dealing with confrontational people. I actually looked into using the home delivery service, but that requires a 50 euro minimum order. All of the appointments were also booked for the next ten days or so. And really, it’s ridiculous not to just go to the store… I mean, in another life, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

Bill had given me a few tips about the new rules. Everybody has to wear a mask and use a cart. I noticed in the drink market, people didn’t use a cart. I did, because I decided to get more beer. I don’t need to be drinking beer. In fact, I usually avoid drinking when Bill isn’t home. But this has been kind of a shitty week. Early Monday morning, I skinned both of my knees. One of the knees was already skinned from a mishap two weeks ago, so I undid a week’s worth of healing. All week, my knees have hurt– stinging, itching, and oozing stickiness. Beer helps dull the pain and annoyance of being so clumsy and having ugly knees.

I drove the mile or so to the store. It’s probably not even that far. It’s literally around the corner. I parked the car, put on my mask, and loaded the empty beer rack in the cart, along with the many empty water bottles and odd aluminum can we had. The Pfand refund totaled about 6 euros. I got my beer and a couple of cans of soda in the drink market. Then I loaded that stuff in the car and went back into the grocery store, which is in a separate building. When we moved here in late 2018, our Rewe didn’t have a drink market. It was just built in 2019. It’s nice, since it’s very well stocked.

I picked up my items at the grocery store, doing all I could to avoid the floor cleaning guy. It surprises me he’d be doing that work during regular business hours, especially since there were a number of people shopping, but what do I know about how things run around here?

When I got home, I was confronted by my lack of driving practice. Bill’s Volvo is much bigger than my Mini is. Consequently, it’s a lot harder to park it, even though it has parking assist and tells you how to park. I don’t quite trust it myself. Every day, I watch Bill expertly maneuver the car into the driveway, making it easier for the landlord to get in and out. I had to make a few passes, having parked the car in front of the house because of the groceries. I noticed the landlord drove up in his little car and looked a little annoyed that the Volvo was parked in front of the house, even though we’re allowed to park there if we want (and for the rent we’re paying, it shouldn’t be an issue, anyway).

But sure enough, I got the car parked… and there were no scratches on the car. The dogs were delighted to see me, and I can make something decent for dinner. Lately, I’ve been skipping dinner because I just can’t be arsed. I hate it when Bill is gone. The saddest part is, last night he was messaging me, proposing that we plan a trip to Stuttgart and get our teeth cleaned. We badly need to get them cleaned, since it’s going on two years since we last saw Dr. Blair. But this is not the kind of thing that should be a field trip. And yes, I know we could find a local dentist, and we might go ahead and do that at some point. We just like Dr. Blair. He’s the best dentist either of us has ever had. And we like visiting Stuttgart… and miss the days when we could do that without a bunch of bullshit.

I miss the days when we could go out and do stuff… and I’d have things to write about besides our new dog and random trips to the grocery store. I hate these marathon TDYs. I hate being clumsy. And I hate that Angela Merkel and her minions are keeping things locked down until March 28th. Fuck COVID-19.

Anyway, yes I’m proud of myself for taking care of that little chore. It would have been better if I could have driven the Mini, but it needs air in the tires and Bill has yet to find a place with a functioning air pump. So that’s another project for when he gets home… in two fucking weeks.

In other news, I’m thinking about buying a new car… one that can accommodate the moose dog, Noyzi. He doesn’t fit in a Mini Cooper. Also, as you can see in the featured photo, our trash guy smokes while he works.

Beastie BESTIES!

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Another week has passed of Germany’s lockdown. I do my best to get my entertainment wherever I can find it. Nowadays, it seems my best chances for live entertainment are in the backyard. As you can see, Tommi the lab puppy still enjoys being a “peeping Tom”. He looks in on Noyzi and Arran all the time.

A few days ago, we ran into my neighbor’s mom, who also lives in the neighborhood. She looks after Tommi while my neighbor works. Noyzi and Tommi had an adorable meeting. It was obvious they wanted to play. Arran, of course, was very cranky and wanted no part of the shenanigans.

Below is a video of a couple of Tommi’s visits. People seem to like the Noyzi videos, even though they’re pretty similar. I would like to make some music videos soon. I just have to decide what I want to try. I’ll have plenty of time undisturbed, since Bill has to work TDY for three weeks. I hate it when he goes away for long stretches, but it does give me the opportunity to do some creative stuff without interruption. I’ll probably practice more guitar while he’s gone, too.

Noyzi and Tommi are confirmed pals… and Tommi still loves to visit under the fence.

I might also add some travel posts, since this lockdown just HAS to end soon. I read a really sad story about German hoteliers trying to keep going while people aren’t allowed to stay for leisure purposes. They must be very scared about the future and trying to survive. Bill is giving the hotel in Grafenwoehr three weeks worth of business, but it sure as hell isn’t a pleasure trip.

Meanwhile, I’ll be trying to keep Arran going as I also try to teach Noyzi that he doesn’t have to be afraid of everything… like the television. Today’s featured photo is of Noyzi, who until a few days ago, had never been to that part of the bedroom. In fact, I don’t think he’d ever really come into the room. He’s afraid of the TV. He seems to think the people in them will get him. Meanwhile, Arran has had some tummy troubles lately, so he went to the vet the other day. I have to drop off a sample of his poop on Monday so we can see if he picked up a parasite. The joys of mundane, monotony… and I get to do it all alone throughout March. I’ve already told Bill I’m probably going to buy some new toys while he’s gone.

Hopefully, it won’t be much longer before we get vaccinated and things might be a bit more normal. I am so ready to travel. My poor car keeps dying because I never drive anywhere.

It’s election time…

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I just bought a new pair of shoes that I needed to try out. I was going to try them yesterday, but ended up taking a nasty fall when I went to check the mailbox. Noyzi followed me outside and I panicked, because it’s almost a year ago that our would be rescue dog, Jonny, escaped his pet taxi before we could get him into the house. He ended up running away and tragically got hit by a car. That memory is still all too fresh in my mind.

When I went to grab for Noyzi, I lost my balance and fell. I got a nice, bruised, scraped right knee, and I tore off part of my right thumbnail. It really hurt, and I was actually a bit dazed for a few minutes. I had to sit on the floor to get my composure, because I almost felt like I might pass out from the acute pain. Needless to say, the boys didn’t get a walk yesterday. Arran capped off the misery by puking.

But anyway, we have sunny skies and nice temperatures this morning, so I decided to try again. We walked down the hill to the Dorfplatz, where there are many election signs. The big day is March 14th, and Wiesbaden has lots of candidates. I took some photos, even though as a foreigner, I won’t be voting.

I’m more than ready to get out of this neighborhood and see more of the sights. I am beyond sick of the COVID-19 lockdown lifestyle, especially since Bill has to go TDY for three weeks. But at least the new shoes were pretty comfortable, even if the shoelaces don’t want to stay tied without bow knots. I think once my knee and thumb stop throbbing, they’ll work out fine. Maybe I’ll even be motivated to walk outside of town and burn off some of this COVID-19 beergut.

Hopefully, the lockdown will be ending next month, although vaccine rollout has been slow here. Bill and I signed up for us to be vaccinated on post, but there’s no telling when that will happen. It will probably happen before we can get it on the economy, though. The school is open today, and I saw lots of kids playing outside, masked with surgical masks instead of cloth ones, which are now outlawed.

It is nice to see the sun… and feel warmer temperatures. I look forward to better weather, so we can at least socially isolate outside.

Noyzi’s TV terrors…

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Noyzi, the Kosovar street dog, is getting braver. Yesterday, he came upstairs and actually stayed for a few minutes. In the past, he’d come up the stairs as if to look for me, but would never actually stay up there. I think he was excited after he had a walk.

I was sitting on the bed eating a sandwich and Noyzi came to the doorway and stood there. He wanted to come into the bedroom, but was looking worriedly at the TV. It occurred to me that he’d probably never seen one on before yesterday. We don’t have a television in our living room, and that’s where he spends most of his time. He doesn’t like men, either. So, I guess seeing Alan Thicke on TV scared him.

Every day, we’re faced with a new Noyzi challenge. He rewards us by making new strides. Last night, we had pork for dinner. Noyzi was happy to ask me for a bite, but when Bill offered him some of his, he was too scared to get it. He usually wears us down by giving me the puppy eyes and I end up giving him a treat. But last night, I was determined to test his courage. I led him over to Bill and held his collar while Bill gave him pork and stroked his head. Then, when we tried again, I just stood next to him without holding him. He’s still scared, but every time he successfully does something, like pass Bill in the dining room, or come upstairs and stay longer than a few seconds, it’s a victory. I really feel like his reactions are reflexive. I think he knows Bill won’t hurt him, but he’s phobic. I have a phobia myself, so I understand how that is.

In other news, Bill’s new guitar got here yesterday. So did my new Donald Trump toilet brush, the acquisition of which actually caused a former friend to dump me on social media! I look forward to using Trump to scrub the shit stains out of the potty.

The featured photo today is of the sunrise we were graced with this morning. It’s not as amazing or dramatic as the ones we used to get in Jettingen, but it did cause me to pause and appreciate for a moment. Our heat went out last night, so our landlord is getting someone to fix it for us. We may end up with a renovation soon, because he says there might be something wrong with the boiler system. Ironically, he says he might put in new windows. Our last house got new windows as we were moving in, so I know what this will mean. But I also know that it will make the house quieter and less drafty, so that’s a plus.

Bill will be taking a work trip soon. He has to go to Bavaria for about three weeks. I’m a bit pissed off about it. But as usual, I’m building a bridge and trying to get over it. At least I have Noyzi around to remind me of how first world my problems really are. Employment is a good thing. I just hope it won’t be a superspreader event.

I guess my next Noyzi project is teaching him that the TV is not full of boogeymen who are going to get him. Maybe he’ll turn into a TV buddy like big brother Arran is.