anecdotes, chores, Germany, weather, Wiesbaden

All the trees are down…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chores, German culture, Germany, staying home, Sundays

Our busy week of upgrades leads to a boring weekend of downtime…

It’s German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit), which means it’s a holiday. It’s also Sunday, and kind of rainy outside. Yesterday, it was also overcast and chilly. Bill and I decided to stay home and rest yesterday. We’ll probably do the same thing today.

I always feel a little bit guilty on the weekends when we can’t be bothered to do anything, particularly when we didn’t do anything the weekend before. A year ago, we went on an epic whirlwind journey to Slovenia to pick up Noyzi, our Kosovar rescue dog.

I would have liked to have done something exciting this weekend, too. Pretty soon, the weather will definitely be crappy more often than not. But we had a very busy week. For one thing, our upstairs bathroom got a huge upgrade, and that took a couple of days. For another, poor old Arran had to have another surgery to take off some crusty, itchy bumps that I’m afraid might be mast cell tumors. And again, there’s that pesky rainy weather, which in the age of COVID-19, doesn’t lend itself to going out and about. Bill has been hard at work on an exercise, which has kept him busy and preoccupied. I’m mostly over last week’s virus, but still a little tired.

I am really excited about our newly renovated bathroom. When we moved into our current home, it had been awhile since the shower and tub had been used. The water in Germany is famously hard, and the fixtures on the tub and shower were probably original to the house. Consequently, we could not turn on the cold tap on our shower at all. The faucet on the bathtub leaked all over the floor. Our first week in this house was hard, because we had to bathe in the tub, which would leak water from under the faucet when we ran the taps. The water leaked outside of the tub and got all over the floor.

Our landlord got the shower fixture changed out very soon after we moved in. It took much longer to get the tub fixed. Part of the reason for that was because Bill was reluctant to talk to him about the need. He was still a bit traumatized by our last renting experience. But he finally talked to the landlord over the summer, and sometime in late July, the landlord brought over his plumber to see what needed to be done. Much to our delight, he was fine with fixing the tub fixture and even decided to put in a new rainfall shower head for us.

We had to wait two months for the plumber and his assistant to have the time to fix up the bathroom. Apparently, there’s no shortage of work for plumbers in Germany. They came on Wednesday and worked most of the day. The landlord came over to see the progress and I got the bright idea to show him the lime covered fixtures in the downstairs hall bathroom. It wasn’t as bad as the tub was, but it was also leaky. He said “No problem,” told the plumber, and after they had lunch, they fixed the downstairs sink, too!

Below are a few photos of their handiwork:

As the plumber was working, he asked if I’d like for him to move the shower head to the corner of the stall. I was all about that, since the previous shower head, which dripped and had lots of lime on it, was situated to the middle of the wall. We would get water on the floor every time we showered. Now that the head is moved further back, there’s no more after shower mess. Plus, that new head and its matching sprayer are just really excellent! Hopefully, I can somehow keep it free of buildup, although it’s way too high for me to reach.

I don’t usually take a lot of baths, but I had a sachet of Molton Brown bath salts that I lifted from our stay at the Upper House in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2019. I decided last night was the time to use it, and try out the tub. It was so nice! I even got to shave my legs!

Needless to say, I thanked the landlord profusely. He also had a new garage door opener put in a few weeks ago, because the motor on the one we had was shot. When Bill pointed it out to him, the landlord said the opener was probably as old as the house was. He decided to get a new opener for his house, too. We were both remarking at how much quieter and nicer the new openers are.

Don’t get me wrong. These were repairs that desperately needed to happen, and they should have happened much sooner than they did. But it was just so nice to have them done to a good quality, and without being yelled at or blamed for anything. It’s nice to have a landlord who wants us to be happy and doesn’t just do cosmetic repairs, but fixes things that will make our living conditions better. And, given how much we pay to live here, it now feels more like we’re getting our money’s worth. In any case, the upgrade in the bathroom is a huge morale booster.

In other news… I have been looking for a place to spend a few days as 2021 starts winding down. I used to be so much more into trip planning and going on outings, but I’ve found myself less enthusiastic lately. I think I’ve got a case of the blahs, in part because COVID makes things more complicated and annoying. Even just going to a restaurant is an ordeal. And everything is encouraged to be done outside, which is less appealing as the weather changes.

Bill has been working so hard, and there’s so much that needs to be done. Last week, he had to get the windshield replaced on my MINI, because there was a crack in it that finally got too long to pass inspection. Before getting the windshield replaced, he had to deregister the car and get temporary plates put on, because our registration expired while the car was in the shop. It’s all fixed now, and ready for the the plates to be put back on, but first he has to go back to the inspector and get passed. So that’s something else that has to be done. Arran will be getting his latest stitches out on the 11th.

Anyway… there’s a chance we’ll do something this afternoon, but I kind of doubt it. It’s so dark and cloudy, and I doubt either of us will feel like putting on real clothes. So maybe we will, maybe we won’t. At least I can take a great shower, though, and not get water everywhere! Maybe I’ll read up about how 31 years ago today, Germany finally reunited with the East and became one country again. I’m sure it will inspire me more to read about that than the very divisive attitudes so many people have in the United States right now. Or maybe I’ll just play with Noyzi and marvel at just how far he’s come since he joined our family last year!

anecdotes, chores, housekeeping tips, staying home

My new skill.

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.


There’s a lot of work that goes into being lazy…

Thanks to our former landlady’s policy of doing the yard work at her property, I have missed out on the chore of lawn mowing since we moved back to Germany in 2014.  Our current landlord doesn’t do lawns for his tenants, so we had to invest in some garden tools.  Although I didn’t know robotic lawnmowers existed until a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued by the novelty of them.

We currently have a small yard.  In fact, it’s probably smaller than the yard we had in Jettingen.  It would be nothing for me to mow it with a regular mower.  Even as I was shopping for a lawnmower, I told myself this was a rather extravagant purchase I’d be making.  Still, the idea of having a robot cut the grass was too exciting for me to resist.  I don’t enjoy mowing, although I do like having a neat lawn.

I used to have a robotic vacuum cleaner.  I bought a Roomba when it was still a somewhat new concept.  I used it fairly often, but it wasn’t practical in the house we were living in when I bought it.  It would get caught on the fringe of my area rugs.  I also have a Scooba that I used in North Carolina and Texas.  That is a robot that mops.  I left it in storage because American and European electronics don’t always translate well with different voltages.

The robotic mower, though… that was something different.  I settled on the mid range McCulloch R600, a British machine that curiously came with no instructions in English.  I ordered it on Thursday.  It cost 599 euros and arrived yesterday.  It’s now waiting for its maiden voyage.  I also bought us a Bosch battery powered weedwhacker.  Truth be told, we could probably just weedwhack the whole yard in about ten minutes and call it done.

Before we can use the mower, it has to charge.  We also had to lay down boundary wire.  Here are some photos of Bill hard at work, installing the wire for our new toy.

First, he needed to weedwack a path to lay down the wire.  

Arran has really missed Bill.  He was gone for most of March and had to work this morning.

I got a charming video of him looking for attention, but I haven’t turned it into something I can post in the blog…

He finally laid the wire down around the perimeter of the yard, then set up a guide wire.

This new mower is pretty snazzy.  You can set it to mow while you sleep if you want to.  We can’t use it tomorrow, because tomorrow is Sunday and Germans get really pissy if you do yard work on Sunday.  Maybe it will be charged enough in a couple of hours to try it out.

This machine is very lightweight.  It even has anti-theft features and uses a PIN.


This 24 minute video was a Godsend.  We were able to find the owner’s manual in English online, but Bill couldn’t get it to print.  Watching the video was helpful anyway, since it showed exactly what Bill needed to do.


Yeah, I know I probably should have just bought a push mower.  At our first German house, we even had a mechanical mower that didn’t use any power that didn’t come from my muscles.  It seems silly to get a robot mower for such a small yard.  I don’t know what got into me.

By the way, our new next door neighbors have a pool in their much bigger backyard.  I think they’re setting it up now.  I feel their pain.  We had a pool in Texas.  It was great to have in Texas because it gets so hot there.  In Germany, it seems a little like a lot of work for not so much pleasure.

I was hoping we’d go out today, but Bill’s had a lot to do and needs to relax.  Tomorrow, we’ll find somewhere to have a beautiful lunch, like we did last week.

Edited to add:  It took about 100 minutes to fully charge the mower.  In the course of about two hours, it finished a large part of the lawn.  Bill used the weedwhacker to cut the places that were missed because it was getting dark.  From now on, the mower can operate several times a week so the grass doesn’t get so high.

Here’s a quick video.  The dogs were bewildered by the robot, while I was impressed by how quiet it is!

Another edit:  The end result after I let the robot run again Monday.

I think this is going to work out just fine!

chores, housekeeping tips

Wet basement…

For the third time since we moved into this house, I have awakened to the sight of a wet basement.  For some reason, water backs up into our washing machine.  Twice, the landlords have had a plumber come out and check the pipes for blockages.  Nothing was found either time, other than toilet paper and the other stuff one finds in the toilet.  We moved here in September.  This happened for the first time in December and again in February.  Now it’s May.  We were told they never had this problem before, but I’m beginning to doubt it.

I took these photos after I drained the washer.  The drum was full of warm grey water from my husband’s shower.

I had noticed water seeping from the wall a couple of days ago.  I told Bill about it and he said he didn’t want to tell the landlords because they have to call a plumber and that costs them money.  Yes… but I am the one who usually finds and cleans up these messes.

I don’t know what is causing these problems.  It’s a major pain in the ass.  I fear whatever is wrong is going to involve a big repair which is never a fun thing.

ETA:  Hopefully, a plumber will be able to fix this today.  Otherwise, we’ll be having a shitty weekend.