German culture, Germany, holidays

Christmas 2021 is officially history…

We had a cold, but sunny morning yesterday, so I took the dogs for a walk and took a slightly different route home. While I was out and about, I noticed that my neighbors who had real trees had put them out to be collected.

The rest of the message offered local information and the advice to make sure all of the ornaments were off of the trees.

I read in our local Facebook group that this is usually an annual fundraising event done by the youth fire brigade. Unfortunately, due to the escalating cases of COVID-19, that event was canceled. It wouldn’t have affected us, since we have fake trees. It definitely looks like Christmas is officially done in our little town.

It amazes me how quickly time passes. This was our eighth Christmas here since we moved back to Europe, and our tenth overall. It was a little less weird than last year. At least we got to go to a Christmas market in 2021. Still, this COVID-19 lifestyle is a bummer. Even though I got a booster last week, and am “legal” to do as much as anyone can right now, the prospect of going out and doing things is unappealing. So I spend my days at home, hoping for better, less restrictive days soon.

Below are a few photos from yesterday’s walk around the neighborhood. It was nice to see the sun, at least. It’s pretty cloudy today, and I’m feeling kind of blue. But maybe we’ll get out for some fresh air. Bill just had some bloodwork done and was told he is deficient in Vitamin D. I’m not surprised. Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin”, and there is precious little of that in Germany this time of year.

I look forward to better weather… and lower incidences of COVID-19. Someday, I want to travel again, and enjoy our long weekends.

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coronavirus, German culture, Germany, holidays, staying home, Wiesbaden

Happy 2022!!!

We had a rather quiet New Year’s Eve, with fondue, Riesling, and the news of Betty White’s passing just 18 days before she would have turned 100. Last night was almost like most nights, save for the five minutes of fireworks. I may be exaggerating a tiny bit, but only a TINY bit…

Officially, fireworks were banned for New Year’s Eve, because officials wanted to cut down on people injuring themselves and flooding the hospitals. As you probably know, COVID-19 is still a big problem and the hospitals are overwhelmed. I’m surprised in light of that, officials haven’t banned driving on the Autobahn, which I would imagine is potentially just as dangerous as lighting a bottle rocket. In any case, I knew there would be a few fireworks, because someone always has them. And there were a few fireworks, but it was really not a normal Silvester by German standards.

Last night was our tenth German New Year’s Eve. It will go down in history as the quietest one yet. The loudest and wildest one we ever experienced was in 2007. I could have sworn there was a war going on outside of our house in Pfäffingen. The night sky was literally alight with fireworks, and I could see our neighbors furiously setting off things that went crash and boom. Our late beagle, MacGregor, was absolutely terrified, poor thing!

Noyzi seemed a little perturbed by the noise and both dogs were curious, but they weren’t really scared. Our neighbors were in the street wishing Happy New Year to everyone… It was overall a pleasant evening. Below are some photos from our first try with the new fondue/raclette grill. It was a success! We really had fun making fondue. It was easy, festive, and even a little romantic! I should have bought this machine a long time ago.

Right at the stroke of midnight…
This is a pretty good representation of our fireworks display… It went on for a few minutes.

One other thing I would like to mention… My German friend tells me that the cookies our landlord brought us– yesterday’s featured photo and reposted below, actually have some local significance. The little macaroon behind the 2021 is a Bethmännchen pastry, which is a Frankfurt tradition at Christmas that has been around since 1838. The cookies are made with made from marzipan with almond, powdered sugar, rosewater, flour and egg. The recipe has not changed in the entire time this cookie has existed!

What a thoughtful gift!

2022 is already off to a good start. Bill made delicious cheese soufflés for breakfast!

I actually taught him to make these because we had them on our honeymoon in Virginia at a B&B. They aren’t hard to make and they make for an elegant breakfast dish on special occasions. We also have two leftover, and they will keep.

Well, that about does it for New Year’s… I am going to go write a more serious post on the main blog, and then I’ll probably watch a bunch of movies or something. I think Bill is going to cook a nice dinner, which I’ll probably document in photos if it’s pretty enough… and it probably will be!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve and an even better New Year’s Day. Maybe this year, we’ll get to do more traveling!

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advice, coronavirus, German culture, Germany, laws, news

Word of advice… don’t call a German cop a “fascist”…

It’s another cold, grey, drizzly weekend in Germany. Christmas will arrive next weekend. I suppose I should be more into the spirit of celebrating the season, but I just can’t seem to find my mojo. I don’t really like going out in yucky weather even when there isn’t a pandemic. The spiking COVID numbers aren’t inspiring me to get out there and mingle with the masses.

But not everyone feels the way I do. My German friend, Susanne, shared with me some news out of Reutlingen. It seems there was a riot/protest there last night, consisting of Nazi sympathizers and COVID deniers, most of whom weren’t masked and ignored the rules against congregating. Things got pretty out of hand in some places, so the Stuttgart police showed up to maintain order.

Germans are usually pretty tolerant of peaceful protests and strikes. They’re usually scheduled ahead of time and announced, so people can choose not to be involved… or, if they’re into it, they can participate or observe. I believe one has to get a permit to protest legally. I have no idea if this group followed the rules. The protests I’ve seen are usually pretty chill… afterwards, everybody breaks up and has a beer or something. But every once in awhile, people do get their hackles up. Such was the case last night.

This video was shared on Facebook by Matthias Kipfer in the public group, 99,99 % (Filder) vs. R.E.S.T.. I’m not sure where this particular incident involving the man screaming about fascists took place. It might not have happened in Reutlingen, although I can see by the photos and videos in the group, there was plenty of action there last night. I see the guy screaming about fascists was originally posted on Twitter by Stadtrand Aktion. As you can see, the cops weren’t amused. This guy was promptly arrested. I suspect he will get a nice big fine, as outlined in the trusty 2022 Bussgeldkatalog. Edited to add: Susanne thinks the fascist cop incident might have happened in Berlin, since the cop has a B on his uniform.

More than once, I have written about how insulting people is illegal in Germany. It’s especially true that insulting the cops is a big no no. All I can think is that this guy took complete leave of his senses, forgot to whom he was speaking, and lost total control of himself. I know how that feels. It happened to me a time or two when I was a teenager. This fellow looks to be well beyond the teen years.

I think it’s funny that there’s a catalog of fines people can consult to find out about laws and fines. I especially get a kick out of the section on the fines for insulting people in traffic. When they are translated into English, they are both hilarious and nonsensical. Below is the list of fines as of 2022.

Some of these insults seem to have lost a little in their translations.

In all seriousness, these protests were pretty bad. Apparently, some people were using children as human shields against the water cannons cops tried to use to disperse the agitated crowds. I was impressed by how the cops managed to keep their cool. German police officers don’t seem to be as violent as American police officers often are. But then, they probably pay better and offer more training.

My German still sucks, but I do find myself picking up words and understanding more, especially when my friend shares interesting German articles with me that include juicy tidbits about current events. If I have gained anything from the past seven years, besides a massive beer gut, it’s a rudimentary understanding of basic German. My Armenian is still better, though. That isn’t saying much.

The above photo basically translates to “People who think vaccinations change their DNA should consider it an opportunity.” Who says Germans aren’t sharp witted? Not I!

In other news… I hope the new blog design is welcomed by the few regular readers who have been keeping up with me during these COVID times. I decided to play around with it a few days ago, and when I went to change it back to the theme I was using, I discovered that the “wandering” theme was retired. So now I have a new but similar theme, and a new color scheme. I think it’s easier to read.

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Austria, coronavirus, German culture, Germany, road trips

Chasing lakes and waterfalls in Aus-cro-slo-aus… part fourteen

And now, we’ve come to the end of my latest series… which I will admit was not long on food and activities, but had plenty of gorgeous scenery and solitude. When I am finished writing this post, I’ll do my usual “ten things I learned post”, but that will probably be done tomorrow, so as not to overwhelm anyone with all the action my travel blog is suddenly getting. 😉

Because we were coming from “high risk” areas– Croatia and Slovenia– we had to upload our vaccination information to officials in Germany. This would absolve us from having to quarantine. But, when we got to the border, they just waved us through, anyway. Maybe because it was Sunday.

Our drive home was mostly uneventful. Salzburg is about six hours or so from where we live, I think… Ray had made it easy to check out. All we had to do, besides take out the trash and make sure we used the toilet brush, was put the 12 euro city tourist tax (three euros per person per night) in the lockbox, along with the key. We got an early start, and, at first, the weather was beautiful.

The nice weather began to change the further north we went. It got cold and decidedly cloudy, then it was raining. At one point, we tried to stop for lunch, but there was no parking in the parking lot. The spots were all taken up by tractor trailers. We eventually ended up at the very same rest stop where we stopped on the way down to Croatia. On that visit, I wore a surgical face mask, as did a lot of other people. Surgical masks are the rule for all of Germany… except hard assed Bavaria, where people are supposed to wear FFP2s, the tighter fitting “coffee filter” masks. I did have a fresh one in my purse, but I really hate wearing them.

Anyway, we walked into the McDonald’s, which was empty. Evidently, the COVID-19 rules changed again, because the cashier pointed to me and said I needed the heavier mask. That pissed me off, so Bill and I left. I ranted about it on my other blog. We went to Burger King and ate lunch in the car. I spent much of the rest of the drive annoyed, since the heavier masks are obviously not curbing the now soaring infection rate in Germany. People need to be vaccinated. But if they’re going to enforce mask mandates, I wish they’d be consistent about it. And I wish they’d show common sense, particularly toward people who have actually done the responsible thing and gotten the vaccine.

I mean, look at this…

This is in Koln, where Carnival is in full swing.

It’s ridiculous. I can’t sit in an empty McDonald’s without being forced to wear a heavy mask, but these fools can party and drink unmasked in huge crowds in Mainz and Cologne! I fear we may be heading for another lockdown soon, which makes me even more glad that we took our trip. As it stands now, James Taylor has postponed his European tour. We have second row tickets to his Frankfurt show, but who knows when it will happen. We still have tickets to see Keb’ Mo’ for a show that was supposed to happen on November 16 (our anniversary) 2020. At this point, it’s been postponed three times, thanks to COVID-19. Maybe we’ll get to see him in May of 2022. This COVID shit really needs to be sorted.

The only other notable thing that happened on the way home was that we passed a van that had a sticker on it that read “Porn casting car”.

And then, we noticed that the driver had drapes with little gold tassels on them in the front seat. Maybe it really is a porn casting car.

After we got home, we unpacked and started doing the laundry. Later, we went to get Arran and Noyzi, who I guess could hear and smell us as we approached. They were so excited! Noyzi was even ecstatic to see Bill. He practically dragged me to the car and was delighted to jump in the back all by himself.

When we got home, we discovered that Arran had a couple of swollen flesh wounds on his ears. And the next day, Noyzi had kennel cough. By Tuesday, Arran was coughing too, although they are both okay now. Fortunately, it was a mild case. It was the first time I have ever dealt with kennel cough, which is usually a mild illness that clears up on its own. Our dogs are usually vaccinated against it, but we stopped giving Arran most vaccines because he’s had mast cell tumors. Noyzi is due for his vaccines next month.

Here are a few final pictures of a few things we brought back with us… I wish I had found a few things to put in the house. Oh well. Maybe on the next trip. Bill has to go to Poland on Monday, and he’ll be gone on our 19th wedding anniversary, which is on Tuesday. I’m sure he’ll get some Bison Grass vodka. Just what we need! 😉 We also got jams, honeys, liqueurs, and gin.

Well… that about does it for the series. Stay tuned tomorrow, for my super fun “ten things I learned” post. I actually did learn some new things on this trip. It was one of our better ones, and we’ve been on some great trips. I hope we can do it again, soon.

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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!

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family, German culture, Germany

And to think that I saw it in Breckenheim…

As I wrote in my main blog this morning, I seem to be on the mend from the weekend’s sickness. I was feeling noticeably better after I finished yesterday’s post, and by the afternoon, I even had enough energy to take Noyzi and Arran for a walk. They were delighted to go, since I think they thought they’d be missing out yesterday. I usually walk them in the mid mornings, but somehow they knew I was green around the gills and didn’t bug me like they usually do. I’m being serious. My dogs will pester the shit out of me if I don’t walk them when I’m supposed to. Luckily, they seemed to notice a lack of energy from me yesterday and left me alone, although I was definitely feeling better than I was on Saturday and Sunday.

Today’s post title is inspired by a story by Dr. Seuss that I read when I was a little girl. I never have been the biggest fan of Dr. Seuss’s books, but I did used to have a great general children’s storybook anthology that was handed down to me by my three older sisters. The book happened to have Dr. Seuss’s story, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” in it. Wikipedia tells me this story was Dr. Seuss’s very first, and it was written in 1937. You can read the Wikipedia entry I linked for the gist of the story by Dr. Seuss. I would describe it here, but Seuss’s story is about a fantasy, while I’m about to write about real life. In other words, I really DID see this stuff in Breckenheim over the past couple of days, and I’m left with some wonderment.

As I mentioned up post, I usually walk my dogs in the mornings. They insist upon it. But yesterday, I was still feeling kind of yucky, so I had to wait until the afternoon to catch a burst of energy for our stroll. Consequently, I saw different things than what I usually see. Most days, when I walk the dogs, I see and hear kids in the local schoolyard. They take their recess at about the time the boys and I take our walks. I’m sure the kids notice us. Sometimes, I see little girls looking adoringly at the dogs and remember myself as a horse crazy child. I used to get excited whenever I saw a horse. If I’m honest, I still do. But I don’t stop and stare like I did when I was a kid. Many little girls love animals, and German girls are no exception.

Well, because I was walking in the afternoon, school was about over. I did see a mom with her daughter, though. The girl, who wore her striking strawberry blonde hair in a pony tail, looked to be about 9 or 10 years old. Mom was talking to the girl as she got into the backseat of their little red car. I saw the girl glance at my dogs with that expression of adoration as she settled into the seat. Mom gave me a friendly, confident smile as she shut the door and made a move for the driver’s seat. I nodded and passed, then continued on my way.

We got to the place where we usually turn to walk past the neighborhood gardens. Arran needed to take a dump. We happened to be near a trash can, so I cleaned up the poop and dragged him back the other way so I could drop off the bag. He was planting his feet, not wanting to cooperate. I broke a sweat. It was a bit humid and I might have still had a slight temperature. Then I noticed a sign posted on a tree. I wondered if it was another admonition against lazy pet owners not cleaning up their dog’s shit. But it was just someone looking to rent a garden plot. I saw another sign just like it at the other end of the garden plots. I missed the second sign yesterday, but noticed it today.

We turned to head uphill past the farmer’s fields that I’ve noticed are as likely to be growing plastic sex toys as they are wheat and corn. Someone discarded their facemask, not by throwing it on the ground, but by neatly hanging it on a sunflower. The gardens are in their last hurrah of the Indian summer as they prepare to go dormant for the onset of cold weather. The pictures below were taken this morning, but I noticed the mask yesterday… I thought to take a photo yesterday, but decided not to. I guess I was too eager to get home and back to the proximity of a toilet.

Finally, we got to the point of our route at which we turn toward home. It’s near a cemetery. There’s a custom picture framing business there, as well as a couple of apartment houses. Today, I took a photo of the area where I saw the most interesting and exciting thing on yesterday’s walk, just to give those who read this a visual reference…

This morning, there were fewer cars than yesterday afternoon.

So yesterday, the dogs and I were walking down the sidewalk pictured above. There were several more cars parked there yesterday afternoon than there are in the above photo, which I took this morning. In fact, there was a utility truck parked where that open stretch of street is. Workmen were on the other side of the street doing some kind of work on the street. If you picture that, you might realize that the passageway was more narrow and busier.

Noyzi and Arran are not close to being the same size. Noyzi is humongous next to Arran. He has a tendency panic sometimes, when he’s in unfamiliar situations. Arran wants to sniff and eat things. So I was focused on handling them and negotiating the narrow passage down the street. Where the cars are, there’s a grassy, nettle covered hill, which closes things in even more. If I wanted to avoid something on the sidewalk, I’d have to cross the street or walk in the middle of it. It would have been complicated to walk in the street yesterday, thanks to the workmen.

As we passed the utility truck, Arran tried to sniff something the workers had left by the curb. I pulled him away and issued a grumpy reprimand. Then I noticed an orange car with an older woman sitting in the passenger seat. She was about to open her door, which I knew would block my egress. I groaned inwardly, since I’ve run into this scenario a few times. People park on the street and open their doors, oblivious to pedestrians on the sidewalk… even those with two dogs, one of whom is the size of a miniature horse.

Sure enough, the woman got out of the car. I started thinking about how I was going to negotiate this challenge. But then I was met with a surprise. The woman closed her door, straightened the neat blazer she was wearing. I was noticing how nice and put together she looked, as if she was going to see someone important.

Then I heard a flurry of footsteps and saw a flash in the corner of my peripheral vision. Next thing I knew, a young girl of maybe eight or nine had jumped into the woman’s arms, obviously overjoyed to see her. The girl had shoulder length blonde hair and a huge smile on her face. I heard them trade enthusiastic and loving greetings. I was about to pass them on the sidewalk, when the girl suddenly let go of the woman and launched into the older man’s arms. He’d been in the driver’s seat, and I hadn’t seen him until he had exited the car and moved behind it. He had a delighted expression on his face. I had just enough time to notice that the girl was similarly ecstatic and more expressions of love were traded among them.

I was witnessing what appeared to be a reunion of people who obviously love each other very much and had missed being together. I’m assuming it was Oma and Opa visiting, but I don’t know. Obviously, this was a bonded group. I gave them a warm smile as I quickly passed, not wanting to intrude on their private moment of reunion, but yet happy I was able to share it with them in some way.

My mood suddenly brightened considerably, which surprised me. I often get really cranky when I walk the dogs, mainly because there’s not the greatest walking route where we live. We often have to dodge cars, farm vehicles, horses, other dogs, looky lous, and pedestrians who aren’t watching where they’re going. Just this morning, I encountered three cars, a biker, and a tractor all in one spot, as I turned off the main drag to walk past the gardens. We’re also very close to the Autobahn and a high speed train track, which makes the area a bit noisier than I’d like. So, unlike our neighborhood in Jettingen, which was next to a huge nature park, Breckenheim is not quite as dog walker friendly, although the people are friendlier, and are, themselves, very dog friendly.

When I saw that orange car, I was expecting to be inconvenienced by someone. But, what I saw instead was something I very rarely see in Germany. I mean, I’m sure it happens… it’s just that I don’t see it or haven’t seen it much. People are polite and cordial here, and they love their families, but they don’t seem to be that demonstrative (unless they’re at a Fest or something, then all bets are off). I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an unbridled and honest expression of pure love and affection like that on the street. It was really nice to see, especially since I was totally caught off guard and experienced a temporary mood boost because of it.

Then I finished walking back home and got back to the work of healing, which involved some more time on the toilet. But I’m feeling much better now… Pity, though, since I notice my clothes are already looser. I noticed today on our walk, I was a lot crankier on the last stretch, mainly because someone in a Volkswagen came careening around the corner. I probably looked really bitchy as they passed. What a contrast to yesterday, when I was feeling unexpectedly cheerful despite being sick.

I was reminded, yet again, of the Buddhist monk we saw in 2015. I was super cranky and hungry, not feeling well, when we stopped outside of Munich for lunch. Then I saw a Japanese monk sitting near us who gave off incredibly calming vibes. It was like just seeing him erased all of my grouchiness.

Watching that reunion yesterday had a similar effect, making me forget my crabbiness and sickness for an instant. It was like a gift. I looked for the orange car today, wondering if Oma and Opa are still visiting. I’d like to know the rest of the story that started on an ordinary day in Breckenheim. And to think I never would have seen that if I hadn’t been sick and taken a walk later than usual… not that I’m ever that grateful for the experience of diarrhea and vomiting. But there’s good in everything, even if it’s just a story I can share and a lesson about staying observant, even when your day is mundane. You never know what you’ll see, even in a place like Breckenheim.

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dogs, German culture, Germany, pets

A family trip to the pool…

We had more beautiful weather today, so Bill really wanted to get out and do something fun. Yesterday, someone in the local pets group on Facebook posted that a Freibad (public pool) in Mainz was going to allow dogs to come hang out and swim. Bill and I had experienced this very German custom in Nagold back in 2018, a few months before we moved to Wiesbaden. At that time, we had Zane and Arran. Neither were fond of swimming and both were kind of old, so we opted to go without them. It was a lot of fun watching all the athletic dogs enjoying the water. You can see some of the photos from that outing by clicking here.

This activity is fun for many, but not all, dogs… I wondered how Noyzi would do.

This year, we have Noyzi and Arran. I was curious about how Noyzi would like the pool/dog park like environment. But Noyzi hasn’t yet been with us a year, and Bill still has trauma from our unsuccessful bid to adopt a more local dog. Initially, he wasn’t too keen on going to Mainz with the boys. So we were going to come up with an alternative plan. I suggested we visit either the Mainz or Kastel “beaches” (Strand), which are Biergartens on either side of the Rhein. Bill was okay with that… but Noyzi had other plans.

As we tried to exit the house, he made it very plain that he wanted to go with us. He even parked his big, lumbering body, right by the door! I took it as a sign that we should take the boys to the pool. Bill was still worried about accidents or potential tragedies, but I wore him down and he finally relented. So that’s what we did! We loaded the boys into the car and headed off to Mainz. Noyzi even jumped into the back of the Volvo all by himself, and parked himself in the back like a canine gentleman. Every day, I am amazed by how naturally well behaved he is, and how quickly he learns. It’s hard to believe he was born on the streets of Pristina. He is living proof that street dogs can make wonderful family members.

Below is a video I made. I put in a couple of my previously unreleased songs… they maybe aren’t the best I can do, but without them, you just get seven minutes of dogs running around and some shaky footage. It was all recorded on my iPhone. I had to be careful, too, as this is Germany, and not everyone at the pool was wearing a bathing suit. Didn’t want to catch anyone in the buff!

Next time, I’ll bring a better camera!

This event ran from 10am until 4pm. We left right at the end. I kind of wish we had come a bit earlier, although the weather was perfect, and everyone seemed to be having a blast. Our dogs didn’t seem too interested in leaving us, so we kept them on their leashes most of the time. If we hadn’t, I don’t think it would have mattered much. They were stuck to us like glue.

As it was the end of the season, they didn’t have much in the way of food… Just beer and pretzels and, I think, maybe some ice cream. Consequently, I’m pretty hungry now. I’m glad we went, though, because it was so much fun to watch all the dogs playing and swimming, as well as their owners. I didn’t see any bad behavior at all! And I was so proud of Noyzi, who even followed me into the kiddie pool. He wasn’t interested in the big pool, though. Maybe next year, if we’re still here, we’ll try again.

Below are some photos for those who’d rather see those. It was a nice way to spend a Sunday. These kinds of activities are pretty much why I love living in Germany. I think it’s great that they let dogs swim in the pool on the last day of the summer season! But I am sad that the weather will soon be schlecht.

One thing I love about Germany is that people here relish outdoor activities when the weather permits. There’s always something fun going on. And if you can bring your dogs, so much the better. Dogs are treated very well in this country!

I’m glad we opted to go to the pool with the boys today. We can go to the “beaches” in Mainz or Kastel some other time!

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German culture, German politics, Germany

Political Schwag that is sooo German!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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German culture, German products

Buying German food products for the “yuks”…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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German culture, Germany, holidays

Karim’s Brasserie for New Year’s Eve!

Well, we made it. 2020 is over. We had a pretty typical New Year’s Eve, except we didn’t have as many fireworks. One thing we did this year that we don’t usually do was order dinner. As a matter of fact, in 2020, we ordered takeout on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. It’s not unusual for us to dine out on Thanksgiving, but we usually cook on the other days. This year, we decided we preferred to help out the local restaurants and spare ourselves from cooking and cleaning.

For New Year’s Eve, we went a bit more casual and didn’t break out the china. Karim’s Brasserie, a Moroccan restaurant in Wiesbaden, was offering a New Year’s Eve menu. They had a couple of options available– chicken or lamb. Bill likes lamb, but I don’t, so we went with chicken. For 36,50 per person, we could eat for days. Seriously, they really loaded us up with great food! Here are some photos!

We started at about 7:00pm with the appetizers. I was, of course, very familiar with the hummus, since we are big fans of it. Karim’s version was very light and creamy, yet delicately flavorful. The Zaalouk, otherwise known as Moroccan eggplant salad, was a nice change of pace for us, since we rarely eat eggplant. Neither Bill nor I are big fans of eggplant, but this was pretty good. Bill loved the Moroccan carrot salad, which was slightly sweet and offered a contrast to the spicy M’hammara, paprika cream with pomegranate syrup and walnuts. Bill especially loved the M’hammara. He likes spicy foods. The Laban by Khyar was basically a Moroccan version of t’zaziki. It consists of yogurt, cucumbers, and mint.

The chicken was delicious! It was very tender and juicy, and fell right off the bone! It was such a pleasure to try it prepared in a different way. There was a time when Bill wouldn’t eat apricots because they are supposedly bad luck for “tankers”, which is what Bill was when he was in the Army back in the early days. I love apricots, having gotten acquainted with them in Armenia, where they are very popular and delicious! They went so well with the chicken! Glad we have leftovers!

After a bit of time digesting, we tried the desserts– typically nutty and fruity, but not too sweet or heavy. It was a good way to end a fabulous New Year’s Eve repast. We will be grazing on the leftovers for days. I think we got a lot for our 73 euros. I look forward to the day when we can dine at restaurants again. Bill and I ate at Karim’s Brasserie once when we were moving to Wiesbaden and liked the food very much. We probably ought to go there more often, or at least get takeout. This was a great change of pace for us. I think it was my favorite of all three of our holiday takeout meals of 2020.

I learned about a German tradition yesterday when someone in the Pets of Wiesbaden Facebook group posted that they had come into possession of a female piglet who was wandering around Clay Kaserne, one of the two U.S. military installations in Wiesbaden. I had never heard this before, but apparently in Germany, it’s good luck to encounter a pig on New Year’s Eve. Typically, Germans give out pigs made of marzipan with a penny or a four leaf clover in its mouth. Alternatively, sometimes people put a freshly washed piglet in a basket and pass it around. Anyone who touches it will have good luck and a “happy year”.

I can’t be sure, but it sounds like the piglet who was found yesterday might have been intended to participate in this custom and somehow escaped. She was found on the Army post and advertised on Facebook, as none of the surrounding farms would claim her. Eventually her rescuers found her a farm to go to. I’m not absolut