anecdotes

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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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 weather 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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anecdotes

Make new friends, lose the old…

This weekend has been a bust in terms of fun stuff. Although Christmas markets in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have been canceled, the one is Wiesbaden is apparently still on. We got some sun yesterday, but I was waiting for a package that didn’t arrive until late afternoon. Also, I had a feeling that attending the Christmas market would be more of a hassle than I cared to experience. Even before COVID-19 was an issue, I was never one to enjoy crowded fests. We did attend a lot of them in the past, but I am not a freak about them, like some people are.

A lot of places in Germany are now employing 2G plus measures, meaning that a person has to be either fully vaccinated or proven recovered from the virus, and even then, they have to get tested. I am fully vaccinated, but it’s about time for a booster. So we stayed home yesterday. Today, the weather is crappy, so I don’t feel like walking around outside, and I don’t feel like dealing with face masks indoors. I don’t know if we’ll go out today, but I tend to think we won’t. It’s already two o’clock, and it’s dark and cloudy outside. I can stay in my warm house, listen to cheesy soundtracks from 80s animated films, and write blog posts… no need for vaccine certs or face masks… or a bra.

Last night, a topic entered my head that I thought might be a good one for this blog. Originally, this blog was supposed to be a travel blog, but COVID-19 has made traveling harder. So now, it’s more of an American’s “life abroad” blog. And there’s something I’ve noticed after living abroad a few times. It’s that friendships don’t always survive the move back stateside.

At this point, Bill and I have lived in Germany this time for just over seven years. During that time, I’ve only been “home” once. Because we’re here with the U.S. government/military, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I sort of made “friends” with some people. And the vast majority of those friendships have now ended as those people have moved on with their lives.

I noticed the same thing happened in Armenia. I made friends with people there– other Americans– and once we no longer had Armenia in common, the friendship fizzled. Now that I think about it, this happens a lot even if you don’t live abroad. How many people were you once friends with at a job or in school that you never talk to anymore? Before social media existed, it happened all the time. Then, when we had Facebook, or its predecessor, MySpace (which I rarely used), suddenly we were “friends” again with people we hadn’t seen since 4th grade. Gradually, some of those connections faded for any number of reasons.

I guess it seems stranger that it happens when you meet people while living abroad. For many people, it’s a life changing event to move to another country. I know that every time I’ve done it, I’ve changed and grown in immeasurable ways. In some cases, it’s made it hard for me to relate to people with whom I used to identify a lot more strongly. For instance, there are certain friends and relatives with whom I probably can no longer discuss politics or religion. In the case of my relatives, they’ll always be family. There’s always a chance we’ll meet again… maybe at a funeral or a wedding or something. Friends, on the other hand, are more likely to fade away permanently.

I’m always a little bit sad when I lose contact with someone I once called a “friend”, even if they were just a social media friend. Maybe younger people have less of a problem with it than I do. I grew up at a time when friendships meant more. Or maybe it just seemed that way. We had fewer friends, because those relationships had to be cultivated in person. Now, you can be “friends” with anyone, anywhere in the world. In some ways, that’s a great thing. I have some dear friends that I have never met offline. And I have other friends I used to party with who are now in my past.

I decided to write about this today because I realized, with some sorrow, that I don’t even really want to try to make friends with people anymore. I don’t want to connect with someone, only to have the relationship eventually fizzle out. That’s kind of a bleak way to look at things. I’d rather not be so cynical. But I also really try to be a good friend, even if I can sometimes be a bit slow to trust people. That comes from being burned multiple times. It also comes from the idea that a lot of people don’t know how to take my personality. Maybe that’s why I’m so much more comfortable with dogs and horses.

Speaking of dogs… our Noyzi has really started to integrate into the family now. He likes to hang out with me on a little rug by our bed. I had originally put it there for Zane, to give him traction when he jumped on the bed. Now, it’s Noyzi’s little spot when I watch TV, as you can see in the featured photo. Sadly, the man who rescued him got angry with me a couple of months ago, because I didn’t want to get involved in a fundraiser he was trying to organize. I felt it was not a wise thing for me to do, because he didn’t seem to have the fundraiser set up completely, and some of his practices seemed kind of sketchy to me. He got angry with me and blocked me on Facebook, which makes me sad.

Even today, I was thinking about what a miracle it is that Noyzi was found by this man in Kosovo. If it wasn’t for him, Noyzi would, at best, still be living on the streets in Pristina. But he’s here in Germany, giving and receiving a lot of love. He was even named by this young man in Kosovo and I kept the name, though I would have made a different choice if I had been the one to name him originally. I would have liked to have been actual friends with this man, who gave us such a gift. But it didn’t work out, because I didn’t want to bend to his will. He accused me of “playing games”.

I realize I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I truly don’t go out of my way to screw over anyone. I don’t try to annoy or offend people. I’m just who I am, which is apparently too much for some people.

Lately, I’ve realized that living over here can be kind of lonely. I do miss some of my family members, although I doubt most of them miss me. I don’t know if or when we’ll be going back to our roots, but even if we did, I don’t think it would be the same… and I would probably just want to move again. Moving to the States with Noyzi would be quite a project, so I am hoping we can put it off for awhile.

Anyway… this turned out to be more of an introspective and joyless post than I intended it to be. I guess I’ll close this post and go hang out with Bill, who has already been in here twice to talk to me, even though he knows I’m writing. We have chicken and homemade rolls to eat. Last night’s dinner was definitely a better effort than our Thanksgiving dinner was. Hopefully, the holiday spirit will kick in… maybe I will even be arsed to go to a Christmas market before they all get canceled.

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anecdotes, Germany, wine

We finally made it to another local wine stand!

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile might remember that a couple of years ago, before the COVID-19 plague began, my currently adopted town of Breckenheim would have wine stands during the warmer months. Naturally, that tradition had to pause last year, as the threat of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people was too great. We didn’t have them for most of this year, either, and the local powers that be even dismantled the permanent kiosk that used to be set up in the Dorfplatz.

In August, the wine stands finally started again, although not with the same regularity that they were held in 2019. We had to miss the first one in August, because we were in the Black Forest visiting the dentist. 😉 They had another one two weeks ago, but I got sick with my cursed stomach bug and we couldn’t attend. Finally, last night, the stars aligned, and Bill and I managed to make it to the wine stand, located just down the hill from where we live.

I was wondering what the stand would be like in the COVID era. I brought my purse with me, just in case masks were required. As it turned out, they weren’t. I also thought to wear warmer shoes and a wrap, because I had a feeling it would get chilly as the sun set. Here are a few photos!

Last night’s wine stand turned out to be especially interesting. At one point, a lady came up to us and asked in German if she could sit down with the two adorable children with her. Bill answered in German. She continued speaking German, but Bill misunderstood her. She wanted to push in the bench so the kids wouldn’t get soup all over them. He thought she was just asking to sit down.

It turned out she was American, and had moved to Germany over forty years ago when her father was in the Air Force and stationed in Wiesbaden. She married a local and is now a very convincing German Oma to the two kids, who looked to be about 4 (boy) and 6 (girl) and were absolutely charming, with blond hair and blue eyes. They had these little bags of what looked like puffed rice cereal that they poured into the pumpkin soup. They reminded me of Trix, only they weren’t colorful. The American lady said they were salty. I had never seen them before, but I was curious. It looked like maybe she got them at a bakery. I’m not sure they were puffed rice, either. She said they were a type of grain.

I never did learn her name, but we traded a few stories. Her family is back in the United States, but I could see that she was totally integrated here– and I would have imagined so, after forty years! The folks at our table knew her and she was chatting easily with them. In fact, the locals were even friendlier than usual to us, too. Oma asked where we were from, and we told her– Arkansas for Bill, and Virginia for me. She didn’t know either state… although she does know Texas, and Bill spent a lot of time in Texas. I got a sense that maybe she kind of missed the US a bit, but that was only due to a fleeting look of wistfulness on her face.

Oma and the grandkids left, and the very friendly lady across the table, who didn’t really speak much English said she wanted us to meet someone. She kept mentioning that he was a gardener. Next thing we knew, a British guy was standing near us, chatting. The guy’s name was Steve, and he came from the northwest of England, which gave me a thrill. It turned out that before he had moved to Breckenheim, he had lived in Nagold, down at the edge of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Nagold is, of course, the town that was closest to us when we used to live in Jettingen! Bill and I used to go there all the time before we moved up to Wiesbaden! It was one of our favorite places in our old stomping grounds.

Steve said he’d lived in Nagold for about fifteen years. We sat there and talked about all of the little restaurants we visited, and Steve told us about how, back from 2008-2010, the city of Nagold did a massive beautification project because they were hosting a garden show there. We lived in Germany from 2007-09, also near Stuttgart, but that time we were in a little town called Pfaffingen, which is closer to Tubingen. We never discovered Nagold during our first German stint, although I do remember hearing it mentioned.

For all of the crap we went through in our last home near Stuttgart, I am still glad we lived there, because it did afford us the opportunity to visit a lot of places we would have missed if we’d lived closer to the military installations. I still miss Nagold a lot. It had a lot of what I love about cute towns, without the huge crowds and obnoxious traffic. If we ever move back to that area, I wouldn’t mind finding a home in Nagold… as long as the landlords are fair and respectful.

Steve was telling us that he really missed living in Nagold. I could relate. Wiesbaden is a nice area, and there are things about it that I enjoy, like wine stands. But I find the area near Stuttgart to be more authentic and interesting. It offers more of a pure German experience– or, actually, more of a Swabian experience, which is something else entirely. Up here, people are friendlier and more laid back, and there’s not as much thriftiness, but housing costs more and it’s a bit more built up. Curiously, despite being more built up, the traffic is much less terrible up here. Steve explained that a lot of the people in Breckenheim are politicians or are involved in finance. I can tell this neighborhood is kind of well-heeled. It has a different feel than either of our previous German towns. Down in BW, the atmosphere is more agrarian, although that doesn’t mean the standard of living isn’t high.

I think a big reason why the Frankfurt area seems less charming and authentic is because a lot of historic buildings were destroyed during World War II. And the ones that were rebuilt don’t have the same old world quaintness that the destroyed buildings had. But, I am glad we moved up here, if only because I can compare and contrast my German experiences, now. And wine stands are one nice tradition that Bill and I really enjoy.

Hopefully, this weekend, we will continue to have some fun, especially since it’s technically a holiday weekend. I think Bill is going to work on Monday, though, so we can take a trip soon.

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anecdotes

This weekend is pretty much ruined…

A few days ago, I was really looking forward to this weekend. The weather looked like it was going to be beautiful. There were several wine centered events going on, to include our local wine stand that takes place in the town square. Before COVID-19 messed everything up, we would have those wine stands every other week during the warm months. They were a lot of fun, and a great way to get to know the neighbors.

There was a wine market in Hofheim yesterday, and a wine festival in Ingelheim, which I really wanted to go to. Fortunately, the fest will continue all week until next Sunday. Hopefully, by then, I’ll be well, and Bill won’t have to work.

That’s right… I am sick this weekend. I don’t know how it happened, but it has put a real damper on our fun. Thanks to a big work exercise, Bill also had to work this morning. He arranged to do a four hour shift early today, so we could have had the rest of the day to do something fun. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere today, either.

I spent most of yesterday in bed with gastroenteritis. I don’t know how I got it. I don’t spend time around anyone other than Bill, and he hasn’t had it. It’s possible I ate something that made me sick. It came on Friday night, when I suddenly developed a fever and chills. Of course I was worried about COVID-19, even though I live like a hermit.

As Friday night went on, my stomach started to feel weird. I actually wanted pizza for dinner, though, and was relieved that when Bill made it, I could easily smell it. Unfortunately, the pizza didn’t last. After dinner, the vomiting started. I spent the whole night shivering under two duvets.

Yesterday, Bill made breakfast and, once again, I was relieved that I could smell it. In fact, the aroma of bacon was almost overwhelming. But breakfast also didn’t stay with me. I resolved not to try to eat anything else, other than a waffle syrup cookie, which is pretty bland. I managed to hang onto that and the two sodas Bill brought me. Then I watched movies and took a nap.

This morning, my stomach feels marginally better, but I can’t trust my sphincter. A good sneeze, fart, or cough could make quite a mess, if you catch my drift. So I don’t think we’ll be doing anything today, because I don’t want to crap my pants.

I did have Bill go out and get a COVID test, just to make sure that wasn’t the source of my discomfort. At first, before the diarrhea set in, I thought it might be possible that the virus finally found me. He paid two euros for a Chinese COVID-19 home test. We tried to use it last night, but somehow didn’t do the test right. So I ended up with no result.

I did think to take some photos, though… the directions are in German and include pictures. Bill later said he saw there was a video we could have watched for instructions. It reminded me a little of a pregnancy test, except the sample to be tested came from my nose.

Oh well… I guess I’ll do more reading today. I do feel somewhat better than I did yesterday, at least. I think the fever went away, and I haven’t had to puke since yesterday morning. So there’s some bright news…

SIGH.

I’ll end this post on a positive note. Four years ago, I was also sick. That time, it was with a very nasty cold that I picked up when we cruised in Scotland. I wasn’t surprised that I got the cold, since there was a visibly sick woman on the boat who kept sniffling all week. By the time the cruise was almost over, I had her cold. Although that beat the everloving hell out of the norovirus infection I got in Scotland in March of 2016, having that cold was pretty miserable.

Bill and I came home to our driveway torn up, since our former landlords decided to renovate it. The work wasn’t completed while we were gone. Then, the day after it was done, while I was still sick, the landlords came over unannounced. I opened the door to get the mail, dressed in my nightgown. There they were, standing there on the driveway, inspecting the work. I had an awkward conversation with them, not just because I wasn’t dressed and had a bad cold, but also because by that time, our relationship had gone sour. A few weeks prior to our trip to Scotland, an awning that the landlady’s husband had “fixed” collapsed on a windy day. They tried to blame me for it, and the wife got very irate and screamed at me in my living room, specifically blaming me for other things that were wrong in the house.

The next day, the landlords showed up unannounced and started cleaning the gutters, right outside my bedroom window. I was in bed, still sick with the cold, and FUMING, because it was yet another unexpected visit. I had told them I was sick, and was trying to rest. Of course they never thought to consider my feelings. I was just someone whose husband they were deigning to let rent their house. Clearly, in their minds, I was not entitled to any respect, privacy, or consideration. I literally wanted to throttle them. (I am not the most patient patient) But instead of telling them to come back another day, like I should have, I just tried to ignore them.

Well… I didn’t quite ignore them. I posted on Facebook that I felt like choking them. I noticed yesterday that I had written that. I was really upset. Later, Bill did ask them for more notice, and was met with a rather rude response. But if you know what happened in the end, you know that we eventually came out on top in that situation, although it took some time.

Anyway, it occurred to me yesterday, reading that past Facebook status, that I have much to be grateful for. I don’t get sick very often in Wiesbaden. Bill doesn’t have to travel to Africa, so he doesn’t bring home weird germs. When I do get sick, I can recuperate in private. The landlord lives next door, but he never bothers us, and would never do loud work on our house without planning ahead. And I just really prefer this house on so many levels. In fact, yesterday, it occurred to me how glad I was to be resting in my own bed and using my own bathroom. When I last had a stomach bug, I had to deal with it while traveling. It was awful. So I’m glad to be at home, and glad to be living somewhere where the landlord isn’t an inconsiderate jerk.

And hopefully, the rest of this virus will “run its course”… I just ate a banana, so we’ll see how that goes. Looks like the fever may be done, too.

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anecdotes

Shit and run… now with poop flags! There could be a market for this.

A few days ago, someone in the local Wiesbaden pet group posted this…

Naturally, I found this hysterical and had to rip it off. This was something that needed sharing with my own demented friends.

I was reminded of something that happened a few years ago. Naturally, I had to post about it. Some local Germans got fed up with all of the people leaving their dog shit that they collected about 250 kilos of it and hung it around the neck of a statue. There have also been incidences of people getting in physical fights over dog crap. I think the above solution is much kindler and gentler, not to mention funnier. I would almost applaud the person who came up with this idea, except I’d be afraid of someone getting hurt by the sharp toothpicks. Plus, when it comes down to it, leaving “poop flags” is still littering. At least dog crap eventually biodegrades.

Guess this is a real problem in my neighborhood.

Still… I always admire German style passive aggression. This stunt is particularly funny. I almost wonder if the person or persons doing this are German. This seems more like the kind of thing a snarky Brit might do.

And since this is a pitifully short post, here are a few photos from the neighborhood I took this morning. I didn’t leave any landmines for my neighbors, either. In fact, I got too close to a nettle and ended up with prickly irritation, all because I did the right thing and cleaned up Arran’s shit.

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anecdotes, animals, dog rescue, dogs, emergencies

Pet pandemonium pauses our promenade!

Today is Bill’s birthday, and we have wonderful weather this morning. Yesterday, it rained most of the day, and the dogs didn’t get their walk until the afternoon. I was going to take them for a walk this morning and actually got underway. But our plans were abruptly thwarted by other people’s pets.

It started with an unusually brave white cat, who was loitering on our path. I saw the cat first, as it was big as life clinging to the wall. The cat saw Arran and Noyzi, but didn’t seem to be afraid. Cats usually run when they see my dogs, but this one was pretty defiant. He or she pinned their ears, arched their back, and probably hissed. I couldn’t tell, because Noyzi had just noticed. Arran, super hound cat buster that he is, was a bit like Barney Fife this morning. He was the last to see the white feline, who was warily watching the boys.

And then, just as I thought we might make it down the hill, along comes our neighbor dog, Tommi, the friendly Labrador. He charged up to Arran and Noyzi, completely unattended, although he was at least wearing a collar. Hot on his heels was our neighbor’s mother, a slim lady I’ll call Oma. I’m guessing she’s in her 70s. She speaks English well and is very nice, but she’s probably not strong enough to be walking a rambunctious young Lab. And, in fact, she wasn’t walking him. She had treats with her, but no leash.

Naturally, the dogs went nuts. The cat did not go nuts. I kept waiting for it to run away, but it just kept staring down the dogs. Noyzi was facing the wrong way as I tried to lead him away from the tantalizing pussycat…

The funny thing is, I have been using two regular nylon leashes and a harness with Noyzi because he’s a rescue from Kosovo and still pretty afraid of a lot of things. I attach one leash to his collar and one to his harness, in case I drop one. I might then have a prayer of stopping Noyzi before he bolts for the Autobahn.

Noyzi’s walking manners have improved a lot; he’s become much less fearful and wants to run more. Last week, on two occasions, he tried the retractable tape leash I currently use with Arran and used to use with Zane. I waited a long time to try the retractable leash with Noyzi because he’s so much bigger and stronger than were either Arran or Zane, or both of them together.

We did have some success with the tape leash last week. Noyzi seemed to get the concept of running just a little bit ahead and not charging off so fast that he pulls me over. I was going to try the tape leash again today, but a little voice in my head told me to use the two leash system instead. It might have just been sheer laziness, since I already had the nylon leashes out and ready to use.

Well… that second leash was a God send this morning, because Tommi was completely out of control! First, he greeted my dogs with boisterous jumps, crotch sniffing, and tail wags, and Noyzi, of course returned the favor. Then he ran over to some guy working on his car. Oma grabbed for Tommi’s collar, but it somehow slipped off. She finally got it back on him and started trying to drag him away, yelling at him and spanking him all the while. Tommi was not at all fazed by the corporal punishment.

Meanwhile, that damned white cat was STILL defiantly sitting there, watching everything unfold, completely unbothered! A lady with a baby carriage was about to come down the hill, but thought better of it when she saw and heard all of the commotion. Arran was braying like a seal/donkey hybrid. Noyzi was yipping excitedly, dancing around like a whirling dervish. And Tommi, who has developed a full on Labrador bark, was telling off the cat and trying to give chase. He ran behind the bushes and Oma went after him, shouting in German, trying to grab his collar.

I suddenly realized I had that second leash, so I quickly unsnapped it and handed it to Oma, who thanked me profusely as she attached it to Tommi’s collar. The whole lot of us then turned toward home, because I had worked up a sweat and wanted the dogs to calm down a bit, and Oma wanted to get Tommi back to a place where he wasn’t running amok. I also obviously needed that second leash back! Arran helpfully took a big dump at the top of the hill, so he probably feels better. Oma was showing off Tommi to a group of school kids who had heard and witnessed some of the show.

Oma explained to me that her 18 year old granddaughter (whom Noyzi LOVES) has to study for exams. And the man and the lady of the house are on vacation. Oma’s son told her not to walk Tommi because he’s so strong, but she said there’s no one else who can do it. I don’t actually think she was trying to walk him this morning. I think he snuck out of the house.

Just like his Labrador predecessor, Levi, used to do, sometimes Tommi comes over to our house. We can see him through the glass. The dogs go nuts! It might do them all well to have a play session and wear each other out a little! Tommi is very sweet, but I think he might need a trainer. But I’m not about to suggest it, because I’m sure they don’t need me to tell them that… I did notice that Oma petted Arran, who was the calmest of the lot, which is really saying something, if you know him. On the other hand, Arran is old and rather petite, so it’s not too hard to keep him in line.

Anyway, I guess that incident was a sign from God to keep using the two leash system on Noyzi for a bit longer… if only so Oma can wrangle Tommi when he gets loose! And you’ll be proud to know that I managed to get some video footage of all of this, too.

And now that I’ve cooled off and calmed down, maybe we’ll try again.

Edited to add: We just had our walk. It was much less chaotic.

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anecdotes

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

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.

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anecdotes

Leland Sklar… and a low two tumor!

Yesterday, I wrote about our dog, Arran, who just had surgery to have a mast cell tumor removed. Last night, the vet called and emailed to tell us that the tumor she removed was “low grade” and she got excellent margins. This is very good news. I mean, the first mast cell tumor Arran had was rated a 1.5, which is very low grade… almost benign, actually. This one was a 2. A two is not as good as 1.5, but pathologists can be pretty subjective about their opinions, anyway. Another pathologist might have rated it differently. The point is, it doesn’t look like it was a particularly aggressive tumor and there’s a good chance the surgery was curative. I wrote more about this on my main blog.

I was impressed that the vet called and emailed, especially on a Friday evening. She said she would call today, too, since we missed the call last night. When we lived in Stuttgart, I remember getting the news at the appointment, rather than by phone. I was actually a little concerned when Bill said he got a call and an email. I thought maybe there was something urgently wrong. But, it turns out she probably just wanted to put our minds at ease for the weekend. I mean, mast cell tumors are shitty and they’re not good news as a general rule. But having now dealt with several types of canine cancers, I can say that I would take dealing with a mast cell tumor over, say, prostate cancer or the horrible spinal tumor our sweet MacGregor had in 2012. That was heartbreaking.

Last night, I also finally got something I’ve been waiting ages for… a book by the great bass guitar player, Leland Sklar. I am a big fan of his work, since he’s played bass for many of my favorite artists since the 1970s. Ever since the pandemic started, Lee has been posting videos on YouTube. He’s also started a “hangout”, which I would join if I weren’t so many timezones away. In the fall, he decided to publish a book called Everybody Loves Me. It’s basically a thick coffee table book full of photos of people flipping him the bird. Seriously, there’s very little writing in this book. It’s all famous and non famous people giving Sklar the finger. He’s got a broad range of people mugging for the camera, too. Off the top of my head, besides many people whose names I don’t know but give good face, he’s got photos of Phil Collins, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, and David Crosby, among many others.

So what does this have to do with traveling? Well, it’s not so much about travel as it is life in Germany and getting stuff through the APO system, which is what we US government affiliated people get for US mail. Lelad Sklar mailed my book sometime in late November, I think. It just got to me yesterday. The mail has been slow lately under normal circumstances. When someone mails something through the APO system, particularly when they don’t pay for premium shipping, it can take many weeks. I’m not complaining, mind you. I was glad to get the book yesterday. It was worth the wait. I got a big kick out of it. Incidentally, I ordered Bill an Ancestry.com DNA kit for Christmas back in early November, I think. It just got here about two weeks ago.

The weather continues to suck, although I did read that at least reports of COVID-19 cases have gone down a little bit. I just got up and noticed that it’s snowing again, but I don’t think it’s cold enough for anything to stick. The ground is positively saturated, and every time Noyzi goes outside, he runs around like a maniac and gets mud caked in his paws, which he then tracks into the house. I need to vacuum, but I may just wait, because vacuuming when it’s so muddy outside is utterly futile. But Noyzi sheds all over the place, so I’m constantly sweeping. I’m thinking it’s time to buy a new vacuum cleaner that is a lot lighter and more portable, because I probably ought to vacuum every day. I know ex landlady thinks I’m a filthy slob, but I’m really not. I just love my dogs and they’re a step above toddlers when it comes to messes, especially when the weather is bad.

Again, not complaining… having Noyzi is well worth the trouble of sweeping and vacuuming more. He’s a ball of love who has made enduring the pandemic a lot easier. I love watching him evolve. He’s turning into a real character now. I think the ghost of Zane visits through him, as he plays keep away in the yard with a distinctly mischievous grin on his face. I also love to feed him snacks. He has such a big mouth that it reminds me of mailing a letter. He’s so adorable the way he sneaks up behind me quietly, like a shadow, and quietly requests a bite of whatever it is I’m eating. When we first got him, he wouldn’t eat anything but kibble, which makes training a bit more difficult. No food rewards. And he was too afraid to play with toys. Now, he loves his toys.

Anyway… now, all we have to do is wait for Arran to heal some more so he can ditch the cone.

Here are a few photos from Leland Sklar’s book. When I ordered, I got a funny little animation that flipped me off as it thanked me. I thought to get a screenshot of it, which is today’s featured photo. This book was $65 unsigned, $85 signed. I got it signed because Leland Sklar is so entertaining and kind that I figured he deserved the extra cash.

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