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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill enjoyed Choucroute Garnie at Caveau Heuhaus in Eguisheim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leland Sklar… and a low two tumor!

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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.

Why eye didn’t go out…

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I still look forward to weekends, even though I never do anything on weekends anymore. I thought maybe that might change this weekend. It’s mid June, and I have left my neighborhood exactly three times since March. The weather is good, and my birthday is next weekend. I thought maybe we could go out yesterday… have some lunch or walk around Wiesbaden or something. But then my right eye started feeling weird.

I went into the bathroom to have a look, and the bottom outside corner of my eye appeared to be bulging slightly with fluid. this happened to me once before, when we lived near Stuttgart. The house we were in was next to a large field. One day, I got what appeared to be some kind of allergic reaction in my eyes and they filled with fluid. I looked up the condition on Google, and it appeared to be “scleritis” of some sort. I took an antihistamine and a nap. When I woke up later, my eyes looked normal again.

Yesterday, it didn’t go back to normal. In fact, the eye started swelling, including my eyelid. It was pretty creepy looking, although it was just in one eye. I was glad it wasn’t painful, at least…

Sorry… not a great photo of me, but you can see how my eye looked. It’s somewhat better today. At least the fluid in my eye went away and some of the swelling subsided.

Anyway, because my eye was all swollen, we decided to watch movies. I don’t watch a lot of movies as a general rule, but we saw Why Do Fools Fall in Love and Trading Places. I had forgotten how funny Trading Places is, and given the racial tensions going on right now, it seemed kind of appropriate that we watched it. Why Do Fools Fall in Love was also good. I remember seeing part of it years ago, when we lived in Virginia. I enjoyed it if only because Little Richard put on an entertaining show in that film. He was an amazing performer.

I took a couple of antihistamines– one Benadryl and one Advil PM (which has diphenhydramine in it). I used to have a big bottle of generic Benadryl at home because I gave it to our dogs. Both had mast cell tumors and Benadryl helps suppress mast cells, which can cause the tumors to pop up. Arran only had one very low grade tumor, so I stopped giving him meds. Zane, on the other hand, had a real problem with lumps and eventually succumbed to lymphoma, which often strikes dogs with mast cell cancer. When we lost him, I got rid of the Benadryl, because it was pretty close to being out of date anyway. I never bothered to get more.

Bill had to go to the PX to buy some for me, although I did discover that diphenhydramine is an over the counter drug in Germany. It helped a little bit… I was surprised I didn’t fall asleep.

Maybe today, we’ll get out… It might do me some good. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, as I’m sure a lot of people have. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing for my birthday this year. Maybe we’ll stay home and watch movies and drink wine.

On the plus side, we do have some maintenance things planned that we’ve been putting off. Arran is going to get a dental cleaning. Both cars are scheduled for work. Mine needs long overdue maintenance, and Bill’s needs an oil change and the snow tires replaced. Some readers might recall that we were victims of a crime in France back in December. Some asshole punctured one of our perfectly good tires on our brand new Volvo outside of Beaune and we had to have the back tires replaced. The only ones available were snow tires. The tires should have been changed in March, but as you know, the pandemic has fucked everything up…

We also need to get our teeth cleaned. That will require a trip to Stuttgart, unless we find a local dentist, which I’m sure we could do. I like our dentist in Stuttgart, though. He’s the best one we’ve ever had. And it would mean a visit to a city that means a lot to me, despite the troubling way we left it back in late 2018.

And maybe I can finally update my passport, now that the passport office is opening… and Bill can go back to the office more often, too. The pandemic has been a real cramp in our style, but it’s been nice having Bill at home. On the other hand, I don’t want to live this way for much longer. If anything, traveling and dining out keeps this blog going, and it’s probably more enjoyable than my main blog, which is full of piss and vinegar.

Mmm’kay… now that I’ve updated the blog, what do I do now?

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The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating effect on my travel writing. As I was updating the blog over the past few months, I realized that we’ve had a whole lot of fun over the past few years. I’m deeply grateful that Bill and I got to do so much in Europe since we moved back here in 2014. But now what are we going to do? How is this virus going to change things for the immediate future?

I could easily come up with some posts about our travels so far. I could write more about what living in Germany is like when things are “normal”. But what if things aren’t normal anymore? Things are still evolving… and I literally haven’t left my neighborhood in a month. Bill goes to work sometimes and handles most of the shopping and picking up the mail at our U.S. post office in Wiesbaden. But I stay home.

I don’t even have a mask yet. I have my reasons for that. First off, I only leave the house to walk Arran. Secondly, I don’t think the homemade masks are very effective. Theoretically, it seems like they would help, but we’re dealing a virus, which is extremely tiny. The virus can penetrate a fabric mask or your eyes, if they aren’t covered. If the virus is on a ball of saliva, maybe its transmission will be slowed, since the ball of saliva would have a harder time escaping the mask. But if you don’t wear the mask properly, and many people don’t, the homemade mask is not useful and, in fact, gives some people a false sense of security. Many people will reuse them, too, without properly laundering them.

Now… if I have to go on post, I’ll need a mask. I guess I’ll either make one or buy one, just so it looks like I’m following the rules. But frankly, I think it’s better to simply stay away from people, which is what I’m doing. I stay in the house with Arran or sit outside in my yard. I walk the dog and stay far away from other people. Bill has a mask, so he goes out in public. So far, masks aren’t mandatory in Germany. In fact, there are tentative plans to reopen some businesses this coming week. Schools are going to open in May. But things aren’t going to be normal for a long time.

Anyway… I don’t have any delusions that we will ever be rid of the coronavirus. It’s just one more exotic disease that will probably not be so exotic as time passes. I did read some exciting news stories about doctors who have figured out how to treat the illness. One story came out of Richmond, Virginia. If you’re in Europe, you will need a VPN to read it. Another was on CNN, about a company creepily called Gilead that makes a drug that seems promising. But the headlines are more negative than positive…

What’s so scary about this virus is that it’s affecting people differently. Bill has a co-worker whose had it. He and his wife are now mostly recovered. And I have a friend whose sister has it and is currently on a ventilator. It does look like she’s going to recover. She’s been improving. But she’s been on a ventilator since last weekend, and even though her need for oxygen is going down, she’s still in a fragile situation. I’m sure that at some point, most of us will be exposed… but until we have some kind of vaccine or treatment, a lot of people are going to be affected by this and many people will get very sick and even die.

So it puts a damper on our travel plans… and even our plan to adopt a new dog is affected. We have our eye on one, but he’s in Kosovo and can’t get to Germany until the borders open and he can have a blood test done. Our situation is better than a lot of people’s, but it really is sad and scary to see what’s happening to the world this year.

Maybe I’ll feel more like writing about travel soon. For now, I think it’s going to take some time.

My ass is getting a lot of presents lately…

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I have not made it a secret that Bill loves to cook for me. Lately, he’s been knocking himself out. I don’t have a lot to talk about in terms of traveling or eating at restaurants, but I do have some enchanting food pics. I’m beginning to think I should send Bill to chef’s school.

We’ve also found a few new online sources of food and beverages. Good thing he doesn’t mind fat chicks. It’s hard to believe that when we met, I was the better cook. Some of my friends don’t think Bill is real. Trust me, he is… and common sense would have told me to stay away from him. Fortunately, for once I didn’t like practicality stand in the way of a good love story.

Feast your eyes!

I am now at the tail end of my updating project. Hopefully, I will be finished updating old posts today or tomorrow. And then, everything that gets posted on the Facebook page from this blog will be fresh— fresh as Bill’s baked bread!

A few more scenes around the ‘hood…

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As we’re still not doing any traveling, I took a few more pictures from our neighborhood recently. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I went anywhere. It might have been when we went to the Globus last month. This is hell on travel writing, although now that I’m within striking distance of finishing my updates, I may soon be back to writing things of substance.

My guess is that I’ll write about our experiences so far. I have a wealth of them, thanks to so many years spent living abroad. I notice what I wrote in the spring of 2014 is not all that exciting, since we weren’t traveling much then. There were a few places in Texas I would have liked to have seen before we moved, though.

Anyway, our neighbors are being good about practicing their distancing. Several have posted signs on their door expressing their commitment to following instructions and staying inside. Bill says that masks are now required on the military installations, but frankly, I don’t think the homemade ones are worth a damn. They aren’t made to block viruses and I fear many people will not launder them. But I guess they make people feel better.

Here are some scenes in my neighborhood…

Arran and I had a nice walk today. We passed a couple of happy looking kids on their bikes. I hope things will get more normal soon… but this isn’t too bad. At least we have a nice garden and landlords who practice social distancing, too.

New toy causes odd reaction in Arran…

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Since we’re stuck inside for the time being, Bill and I have been doing a lot of shopping. German businesses have predictably adapted to stay afloat during this challenging time. For some reason, Bill has been getting lots of ads on Facebook for meat. Pork, beef, and other butchered delights are being offered by local Metzgereien, complete with free delivery. He’s also getting ads for coffee. We’ve now fully stocked our liquor supply… which maybe we shouldn’t have done, but our mint plant has really taken off and maybe I’ll want to have a mojito or something.

I figured now was a good time to try new kitchen gadgets, so I decided to get us a pizza stone and an air fryer. The air fryer is an appliance I’d been wanting to purchase for a long time. I bought a Philips model, XXL, which is bigger than the basic, and one can also purchase baking and pizza attachments for it.

A new toy… takes up a lot of counter space, so it must live downstairs in the basement.

We tried it out last night. Bill cooked chicken leg quarters. They turned out deliciously, but after we ate dinner, we noticed a strange adverse effect on our dog, Arran. As Bill was clearing the table, I noticed that Arran didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He looked almost like he was about to have a seizure. He has had a couple of seizure like “spells” in the past, although they have been years apart. It looked like he was going to have another one last night.

Poor Arran had a frightened, confused, and sickened look on his face, like he might vomit. His tail was tucked between his legs, and he moved very slowly, as if he was off balance and on the verge of collapse. He started trembling, which automatically made me think of awful reasons why dogs suddenly start to shake. A friend of mine recently lost her dog to kidney failure, and trembling was her dog’s most prominent symptom. I worried that maybe Arran was trying to tell us something awful… He’s ten years old and seems very healthy, but I know all too well that dogs can have silent diseases that suddenly take them. Our dog, Zane, was diagnosed with lymphoma and died a week later.

Then I wondered if maybe the air fryer had something toxic in it that had poisoned Arran. I even looked up xylitol, which is a sweetener that is deadly to dogs. I wondered if he’d somehow gotten ahold of some. We even considered calling the emergency vet, then wondered if they’d be open during this cursed coronavirus crisis. I was very worried that we might experience another tragic canine loss.

But then I went Googling, and I came across this fascinating Reddit thread. About a year or two ago, many people posted about their dogs’ strange reactions to air fryers. The behavior they were describing was very much like what Bill and I witnessed in Arran last night.

Evidently, what Arran experienced after dinner is not uncommon in dogs when their humans start using new appliances. The air fryer was very quiet to us, but as a dog, Arran can hear things that we can’t. After reading the Reddit thread, it occurred to me that the high, whirring, fan sound of the fryer must have disturbed Arran’s inner ear, which would have affected his balance and probably made him feel sick. For him, it must have been like he was trapped at a super loud disco or something, and it just took awhile for his ears to quit ringing. That would explain his odd behavior last night. Thankfully, about an hour after we were finished eating and after lots of hugs and reassurance from Bill, Arran was back to his normal self. He’s just fine this morning.

People commenting on the Reddit thread wrote about their dogs not liking the Instant Pot, smoke detectors that beep, or other appliances that make a high pitched noises. We do have an Instant Pot, and Arran doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. In fact, he loves it when Bill gets it out, since he uses it to make homemade dog food. But clearly the air fryer is a problem. Fortunately, we have a fenced backyard Arran can hang out in, as well as a large house with distant rooms we can take put him in when we use the fryer. Or, I can just take him for an extended walk… which he loves and I desperately need to do more of for my health’s sake. According to the Reddit thread, just getting the pet away from the appliance when it’s operating is enough to prevent this odd attack.

For more reading about how our latest technology drives pets insane, click here.

My new skill.

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Since Bill and I are still housebound, like most everyone else is, we have been doing some online shopping. My husband, being the very military minded man he is, was becoming distressed over his inability to get a haircut. All of the barbers and hairstylists have closed until the COVID-19 threat passes.

Bill hates it when his hair gets shaggy and hits the top of his ears. I don’t like the way it looks, either. Recognizing that I’ve been cutting my own hair for many years, Bill asked me if I would mind giving him a trim. Being the ever dutiful wife I am, I ordered some clippers from Amazon. They arrived yesterday, and Bill got his haircut outside on the patio.

It didn’t turn out badly at all. I used to clip my horse for horse shows all the time, back in the day. Here are a few photos of the process and the end result.

I told Bill that yesterday’s clip job might hold him until he can get to a real barber. But then I realized that I’ll probably have to do this a few more times before this virus mess is done. I may even get pretty good at the job. Now it occurs to me that we could have saved some money over the years… I may not be much for handjobs, but at least I can give a decent haircut.

Special thanks to this lady on the Sexy Hair channel for reminding me how to use clippers, and the best technique for achieving the end result on a human being.

I didn’t take much off the top of his head, although I’ll probably have to go there before too long. Today, we’re getting a bottle of rum and an air fryer. I think the online merchants and delivery drivers are going to come out ahead in this virus crisis.

Homemade ravioli!

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We had beautiful weather yesterday. It would have been so great if we could have gone out and enjoyed lunch somewhere nice. Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, we are locked down thanks to the coronavirus. My husband, Bill, decided to make some homemade ravioli with garlic sauce, which we enjoyed with too much wine from France and Armenia.

Some time ago, I bought him an electric pasta roller, a drying rack, and pasta stamps. In the States, we have a pasta roller that is hand cranked, but we didn’t bring it with us. I think when we finally go back to the USA, I’ll replace it with an electric roller. It’s worth the extra money. Here are some photos.

It’s really a privilege to get to live in another country, even if Germany isn’t that different than America is. As I’ve been updating my travel blog, I’ve realized just how much fun we’ve had over here since 2014. Really, we’ve had fun our whole marriage, but our latest Euro stint started almost 6 years ago. Time really flies, especially when you’ve had as much fun as we have.

Since we can’t do any traveling or eating in restaurants right now, maybe I’ll write some posts about some of our best memories. I do hope we’ll be able to add to them before too much time passes, but I’m also very grateful that if I have to be a shut in, I can be one with my husband. He’s my best friend. And I’m happy to be with him wherever we are… I got myself a real keeper.

Wine helps, too… but I think it’s time I embraced drinking more water before my liver fails. Bill sopped up the rest of the garlic sauce with homemade bread. You can take the man out of Arkansas…

Life is standing still…

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Obviously, since we’re locked down, Bill and I aren’t traveling or eating in restaurants right now. But I did want to share this funny video a German friend posted on Facebook. It’s done by a group called Bohemian Browser Ballett, and it’s basically about the importance of being considerate while grocery shopping, and not “Hamsterkaufing”…

If you watch it on Facebook without clicking, you can read the subtitles in English. Otherwise, it’s in German. But I think you’ll get the gist of it by watching even if you don’t speak German.

Hee hee hee!

Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor? After watching this video, I certainly don’t.

Hopefully, I’ll have more things to write about soon. This virus is really cramping everyone’s style. I continue to update the old posts so they’re readable, so I encourage anyone who actually misses my content to give them a second (or first) look. We hope to be back on the travel/food trail soon.