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.

Buying German food products for the “yuks”…

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That’s right. “Yuks”. As in, laughing your ass off. I think we could all could use some more “yuks”, right?

Yesterday, while I was binge watching murder porn on Snapped, Bill came into our bedroom with a shelf stable container of oat milk. He likes to use animal free products sometimes because he’s a healthier person than I am on many levels. He said he bought the oat milk because of the label. Behold…

Bill and I have both noticed that while Germany has rules against “Beleidigung, that is, insulting people (especially people in authority like cops and politicians), they have no compunction about using English swear words in everyday language. For instance, one can be listening to an American pop song on the radio and if there are f bombs in it, you will hear them in all of their profane glory. Same thing with announcers on the radio, who regularly refer to “shitstorms”.

Personally, I’m alright with the profanity. I’m not a big believer in “bad words”, anyway. I really don’t think there is such a thing. Every word, in my opinion, is neutral. It’s the intent behind them that makes saying them good or bad. For instance, as a former English major at Longwood University, I took courses in African-American literature and Women’s literature. Both courses included slave narratives in which a certain taboo racist epithet was used repeatedly.

Was I offended? No, not really. That word was part of the lexicon at the time and the books would have lost their power without them. I was offended by the brutality of the way slaves were treated in those stories and the fact that their true stories are a shameful part of history. But the use of the n-word in those books is necessary. Same as it’s necessary in certain musical pieces, like Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City”, and even in certain 70s and 80s era sitcoms, in which racism was a topic that was tackled. The word is used to convey the extent of the contempt and racism of those times. Taking it out would lessen the impact of the pieces.

Because of that– and because I love language and all its quirks– I don’t believe in “bad words”. I don’t think they should be used as weapons. I think people should be judicious in how they use their language. But I’m not a fan of “banning” any specific words… and, as we can see from the above label, even “bad” words can mean different things to different people. I know many Americans who would blush seven shades of red at simply reading that label. They sure as hell wouldn’t have bought the product! But my husband bought it because of the words “fucking” and “bullshit”. He knew that I would get a big kick out of them.

The words “fucking” and “bullshit” don’t have the same impact in Germany as they do in America, just like the words “cunt” and “fag” don’t mean the same to Brits as they do to us Yanks. Hell, until very recently, there was an old village in Austria called Fucking. I should know, because Bill and I visited. We also visited Fuckersberg, Austria, because we’re nerds like that. Fucking recently changed its name after hundreds of years of being known as “Fucking”. Why? Because Americans kept stealing their road signs and doing things like having sex under the the signs. What a shame. Typical Americans ruining things for everybody.

Sigh… I really miss traveling. I look forward to the day when I can write a post on my travel blog that is actually about travel. But, for now, I will continue to get a big kick out of “fucking good Oatmilk” that makes “sexy Milchkaffee”. Except I don’t think I could bring myself to try oat milk… so maybe not. Bill is calling me to breakfast, so off I pop. Have a great Valentine’s Day!

Reposted book review: My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth

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Here’s a book review about a woman’s exotic trip to North Korea. I wrote this August 27, 2017, so I am reposting it as I did on that day.

Lately, my reading material has been kind of heavy.  I read several books about the Holocaust a few months ago, as well as The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel about women who are forced to breed for the state.  I also just re-read Alex: The Life of a Child, a beautiful memoir about a little girl my age who died at eight years old due to Cystic Fibrosis.  Although I had read that book several times, I decided to look at it again in honor of her father, Frank Deford, who recently died.  After all of those sad reads, I was ready for something funny.  So I picked up Wendy E. Simmons’ My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, which was published in May 2016.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would willingly visit North Korea, which is probably one of the most hostile places on the planet, especially toward Americans.  It’s not easy to get permission to visit North Korea and, once you’re there, you will be guided by “handlers”, who watch your every move.  You also run the risk of being accused of committing a crime and getting detained.  It’s not exactly cheap to get to North Korea and I’m not one to spend money on something I’m certain I won’t enjoy.  A few days from now, Americans will be banned from visiting North Korea by our own government, anyway.  While I am certainly no fan of Donald Trump’s, I do think that when it comes to North Korea, most Americans ought to stay away.

Nevertheless, despite warnings from the government, Wendy Simmons prides herself on traveling to far flung places.  North Korea was on her bucket list.  She decided to go and has written a rather irreverent book about her trip.  Simmons is a good writer and she’s a bit snarky, which I enjoy to an extent.  She includes a number of photos with references to Alice in Wonderland.  I suppose the Alice in Wonderland references would be my first critique of Simmons’ book.  I didn’t enjoy the references because, believe it or not, I’m only vaguely acquainted with Alice in Wonderland.  I don’t think I’ve ever read that book.  I’m certain that other readers haven’t, either.  Yes, I have been exposed to plenty of references to Alice in Wonderland, enough to recognize that was what Simmons was referencing.  But I think I would have preferred it if she’d simply labeled the photos in a straightforward way.

Anyway, Simmons writes about what it was like to visit North Korea.  She has a male driver and two female handlers, whom she refers to as “Old Handler” and “Fresh Handler”.  When Wendy is not locked in her dingy hotel, she is always flanked by her handlers.  She can’t even sit outside for fresh air without them by her side.  The hotel is pretty much empty, save for a few other brave tourists from other countries.  As a matter of fact, Pyongang, North Korea’s capital, seems pretty empty.  It’s as if it’s just a showplace intended for tourists.  I got the impression that no one actually lives there.


Here’s a speech given by Yeonmi Park, a North Korean woman who managed to get out of the country in 2014.  Wendy Simmons can laugh about North Korea, but I have a hard time laughing after hearing this woman’s harrowing story.

Simmons seems to develop a love/hate relationship with her handlers.  Old Handler is described as kind of passive aggressive, as if she loves hearing about the outside world, yet hates the people she has to guide.  It’s as if she’s extremely jealous of Simmons’ freedom, so she does all she can to curtail it when Simmons is in North Korea.  Fresh Handler is described as being much less jaded and somewhat more friendly.  The driver is gruff, though Simmons seems to develop a superficial rapport with him.  These three are charged with looking after Simmons, yet North Koreans as a whole have been trained to hate Americans.  I’m sure it was interesting to witness the cognitive dissonance between what North Koreans had been taught about the United States and Americans and what they experienced actually interacting with an American.

A lot of Simmons’ descriptions of North Korea are snarky and borderline disrespectful.  She sometimes seems a little too happy to laugh at North Koreans and the fact that they have been so sheltered from the rest of the world.  Yes, it’s funny in a flabbergasted kind of way… but it’s also very sad.  It’s not until the very end of the book that Simmons reveals some sensitivity toward the plight of North Koreans.  She actually acknowledges that she was fortunate to be born somewhere other than North Korea.  But then… perhaps most North Koreans are happy enough.  Can you miss something you have no concept of?   

I wondered about Simmons’ handlers and if they got in trouble for what Wendy wrote.  She doesn’t identify them by name, but she does include a photo of their legs.  My guess is that it wouldn’t be hard to figure out who they were, even just based on photos of their legs.  There were times when it seems Simmons was miserable on her trip.  However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t think some of her descriptions were funny.  I enjoyed Simmons’ writing style, which was witty and conversational, and I didn’t find her book a chore to read.  I do think she was a little mean spirited at times, though. 

Those who are looking for descriptions about what it’s like to actually live in North Korea are bound to be disappointed.  Wendy Simmons would probably like to know herself.  Remember, she was given a very sanitized look at the country.  She recognizes that she wasn’t allowed to interact with North Koreans, see their living quarters, or venture anywhere without her guides, who made she didn’t see or photograph anything that wasn’t government approved.  Even so, Simmons describes seeing brand new factories that had never operated and were watched over by guards who sleep on the job.  She describes sitting in on classes in school that are full of cherry picked students.  She attends a football (soccer) match that is clearly put on for her benefit.  She dines alone in the hotel restaurant, eating food that sounds very unappetizing and ice cream that kind of looks like a Creamsicle, but tastes bland.

All in all, it sounds like Simmons didn’t have a good time over her nine days in North Korea, but she did at least get to see it and write a book about her visit.  It’s lucky she has such a good sense of humor and can laugh about some of the sad things she saw there.  It’s even luckier that she managed to get out of there without being detained.

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Noyzi’s big emergency…

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Yesterday, I was expecting a package from Amazon– a new bin system for our dog food. For the past few months, we’ve been giving Arran the same higher calorie food we’d been giving Noyzi. It’s resulted in some unnecessary and alarming weight gain, so I decided to put Arran back on his senior dog food while I continue to give Noyzi something with more oomph. I bought a two tiered bin that allows me to separate their food while taking up little space under the counter.

I heard Noyzi bark, so I thought maybe the delivery had arrived. I went down to check and found Noyzi standing by a pile of dog toys. Among the toys were two stuffed monkey legs. They were originally part of one of Arran’s favorite and longest lasting fluffy toys, a monkey that had long legs that threaded through holes on either side. The monkey’s torso was long ago obliterated by our resident hunting dog, Arran. But the legs had survived, and they had working squeakers.

From the day Noyzi first arrived at our home last October, he’s been a friend to the toys. Instead of attacking and chewing them up, like Arran does, Noyzi tends to treat them like his pals. He stacks them in his bed and uses them as pillows. So I was a little surprised when I came into the living room and noticed that one of the monkey legs had been amputated at one end. I couldn’t find the stuffed fabric paw or its squeaker.

I emailed Bill to let him know. Bill called the vet and they advised him to bring him in to be seen. Even if I wanted to take Noyzi to the vet, it would not be possible. I drive a Mini Cooper and Noyzi will not fit in it. It’s illegal for dogs to ride up front, and I doubt I could convince him to get in the car, anyway. As it is now, he has to ride in the back of our Volvo SUV because he won’t get in the backseat, which he probably could fit in if he was more cooperative.

Just as Bill was about to leave work, he got a frantic work related phone call from the States that he had to take care of. He ended up getting home about an hour later. We wrangled Noyzi into the SUV and Bill took him to the vet’s office. Noyzi was given an emetic, which made him throw up. Sure enough, we found the offending piece of the monkey toy, although no squeaker was found. It’s possible that Noyzi swallowed it, but it’s equally possible that Arran ripped it out ages ago and I tossed it. If it did end up in his intestines, we may find it in his poop in a day or two. If there are other problems, he’s sure to let us know. We’re lucky enough to have great vets in the next village, as well as the excellent Tierklink Hofheim nearby.

Yuck. That’s the part of the toy he swallowed.

We’re keeping an eye on Noyzi, but so far, he’s back to his old self. In fact, if I hadn’t noticed the amputated leg, I would never have known what he did. He was acting totally normal yesterday until he was forced to puke and given an antidote, which wiped him out for a couple of hours. By dinner time, he was right as rain… and then Arran threw up. But I think in Arran’s case, it was a case of too much salmon. He had a little of our dinner last night. He’s fine today, too, but we have to get him slimmer. I never thought I’d say that about Arran, who has always been athletic and sleek. But he’s twelve now, so he needs to watch his figure.

By the way… anyone want to guess how much this emergency cost us? It was a mere 89 euros. The vet was able to squeeze us in during regular office hours. Several of my friends gave me tips on how to make my dog vomit, but I prefer to let the vets handle that, especially when it’s not that expensive. God bless German healthcare costs. America could take a lesson or two.

Tommi is about to break on through to the other side…

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Here’s a quick post to update my last one about how our neighbor’s puppy has discovered a breach in the fence. A couple of days ago, we had a glorious and rare sunny day. I let the dogs out, and sure enough, we soon saw Tommi the lab puppy sticking his head under the fence. He’s very determined! He’s still growing, though, so I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to do this.

I’m actually surprised Noyzi isn’t standing right by the fence to greet him. He actually backed away a bit as Tommi continued to engage. I suppose it’s time we got some cinder blocks or something. In other news, Noyzi just let Bill his harness on without any help from me, whatsoever! This may seem like a small thing, but he’s been terrified of Bill ever since we brought him home and until very recently, there was no hope of putting him on a leash without my assistance. So that’s another breakthrough. We’ve really been enjoying his personality, lately. He’s starting to show us who he is.

The last forty seconds of this video show Tommi, the cute Lab puppy, trying so hard to visit. It almost feels like a metaphor for the whole COVID-19 nightmare. We all want to visit, Tommi.

Aside from the cold, rainy, depressing weather and Noyzi’s antics, not much else is going on. The crappy weather continues. The lockdown continues. My beer gut keeps expanding. I watch more bad TV and dream of the day when I can post some more adventures that involve actual travel. The one consolation is that I know we’re all pretty much in this shitty boat right now. I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to see a lot of Europe before the pandemic started. I would hate to be a young bride coming here for the first time, eager to travel, and forced to stay at home for months on end. It sucks. At least the weather is bad enough that I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere anyway, even if we weren’t locked down.

Here are a few more photos of Noyzi, who is learning that the iPad won’t kill him. He’s learned to strike a pose and is quite handsome. I think he knows it, too… and uses his charms to score people food. I love giving him bites of food. It’s like dropping letters in a mailbox. His mouth is so big, and he opens it like a maw!

And here are a couple of photos I took on our most recent walk together. As you can see, the water is HIGH! It’s gross in the backyard… totally sloppy and messy.

I look forward to drying out.

When neighbor dogs don’t want to social distance…

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The soggy weather continues here in Germany. We’ve had nothing but rain and snow since the new year. The weather is a bit of a bummer, especially since everything is still locked down here. We’re running short on fun lately, which is why it’s so great to have a new rescue dog around. Especially one from Kosovo!

Ever since Noyzi, the Kosovar street dog, and Tommi met a couple of weeks ago, Noyzi has been obsessively watching the fence that borders our neighbor’s yard. I see him sniffing the air, as if to catch a whiff of his new friend, Tommi the Lab. I let him and Arran outside for a pee break yesterday, and they both went nuts at the far corner of our little yard. I kept seeing little flashes of movement under the fence. I have seen mice, hedgehogs, birds, and the odd cat or squirrel on or in that fence. I thought maybe there was a cat or something there, making the dogs react…

Bill is not too pleased about having to upgrade the fencing. He was in the middle of something work related when this excitement happened. Party pooper!

But then I saw a blond doggie face and the happy eyes of our German neighbor’s cute little puppy. It turns out he’s been as interested in hanging out with Noyzi as Noyzi has been interested in hanging out with him! He was trying to wriggle under the fence. I wasn’t able to get the best video, since Bill came out and broke it up before I was able to catch the scene. But later, we let them out again, and Tommi tried again.

Noyzi and Tommi are desperately trying to find a way to be buddies, even though they are separated by a tall fence!

Pretty soon, I reckon Tommi will be too big to even try to go under the fence. And Bill will probably fortify it with something to prevent a breach. It was still pretty cute to see Tommi’s little face. He was very happy to try to come play.

Later, Noyzi came up to me while I was sitting at the table and I started scratching his butt. I have now created a monster. Now, not only does he show up like a silent canine taxman whenever I’m eating something, but he also wants butt rubs. Every time I rub, he drops a ton of hair. But it’s worth it, because look at the big smile on his face in the featured photo.

We’re seeing that silly grin more and more often, since he’s joined us from Kosovo. In four months, he’s gone from being so scared he’d pee on himself whenever Bill took off his jacket or belt, to begging for butt rubs, table scraps, and walks around the neighborhood. Maybe he’s not the best behaved dog around, but he sure is enjoying life. And he’s made this COVID-19 nightmare easier to bear. I have never regretted taking in any of the dogs we’ve rescued… even the tragedy of Jonny last spring ended up doing some good. But Noyzi has been especially rewarding to watch. And I’ve even made a couple new friends in the process.

Tomorrow, Arran will get his stitches out, having had a mast cell tumor removed on his left hind leg. Maybe the vet will be able to tell Bill the results of Noyzi’s DNA test, too.

A couple of reposted book reviews…

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I have decided to repost some of the content on my old Google version of The Overeducated Housewife. Some of the book reviews are about travel subjects, so I’m going to put them over here instead of the new version of The Overeducated Housewife. Here’s one of them, posted as/is, to get things started… At least that will give us something to read while we wait for society to reopen and we can travel again.

The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen

As an average American of average means, I have never really considered how a hotel concierge’s services might benefit me.  The most I’ve ever asked of any hotel concierge is directions, or perhaps to order me a taxi.  But hotel concierges do a lot more than give directions or make reservations.  The best ones can pull off logistical feats that would dazzle the average person.  And if you’re in a place like New York City, a good concierge can mean the difference between eating in a hot restaurant at 8:00pm or eating at Sbarro’s.  I never considered any of these things until I read Concierge Confidential: The Gloves Come Off—and the Secrets Come Out! Tales from the Man Who Serves Millionaires, Moguls, and Madmen (2011), a book written by concierge extraordinaire Michael Fazio and co-author, Michael Malice.

The book’s premise

Michael Fazio is the co-founder of Abigail Michaels, Manhattan’s premiere concierge service.  But before he helped found Abigail Michaels, Fazio worked in Hollywood for famous actors and as a concierge at New York City’s InterContinental Hotel.  He admits to having the “service bug”, which I would think one would have to have in his job.  After all, he was routinely asked to do things like get tickets to sold out Broadway shows and score tables at hot restaurants for people who were “nobodies”. 

But aside from helping unknowns who were staying at the hotel, Fazio also had to arrange for some exotic requests from people with more money than they could possibly spend.  Fazio arranged for a bathtub full of chocolate for one client, who was hoping to impress a ladyfriend.  He arranged for a last minute helicopter ride to Atlantic City for a mysterious Russian with a suitcase full of cash.  And when the same people kept coming back to him for help, Fazio and his former co-worker, Abbie, started their own concierge business catering to the rich and famous.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and probably would have gotten through it in a matter of hours had I not been trying to read it on a very small cruise ship.  I have a tendency to get motion sickness, so every time I tried to make progress in this book, I started to feel sick!  Once I was off the boat, I whizzed through it in record time.  I really enjoyed Fazio’s anecdotes and the enthusiastic tone of his writing.  I felt excited as I read about some of his more dramatic exploits in the concierge business.  Aside from telling stories, Fazio also includes some handy tips on how to get what you want from a concierge, book the best restaurants and hotels, and even how (and how much) to tip.

I definitely have a new perspective on the value of a good concierge.  Now that I’ve read Fazio’s book, I might even venture to the concierge desk during my next hotel stay!  Who knows?  I might end up with a completely different experience than I might have otherwise had!

Overall

If you’ve ever wondered what your concierge can do for you, you should definitely read Fazio’s book Concierge Confidential.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site. And just between you and me, you can find this book cheaper than this link advertises it.