Takeout Easter from Little Italy of Wiesbaden!

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When Bill and I first discovered Wiesbaden in 2018, we found Little Italy, which is a tiny Italian place in the downtown area. From our first visit, in October 2018, we were warmly welcomed at this place, which has a very friendly manager who speaks perfect English. Before COVID-19 struck, we were semi regulars at this restaurant, especially on Sundays at lunchtime.

Unfortunately, vaccine rollout has been very slow in Germany. We’re still kind of on lockdown. Fortunately, we were spared the “hard lockdown” Chancellor Angela Merkle wanted to impose over the Easter holiday, but things are still pretty much closed all over the place. It really sucks and I’m tired of it. But at least I’m not sick.

Anyway, the other day, Bill noticed that Little Italy was offering a special holiday menu for Easter. Since it’s been months since we last visited this restaurant, we decided to order for Easter. It wasn’t really for the holiday, per se. Bill and I are not very religious at all. But this was a good excuse to have some professionally prepared food. Below is a screenshot of Little Italy’s Easter menu, priced at 45,90 euros per person.

Bill loves lamb. I don’t care for it, so I was happy to see they were offering a filet of sole roulade. We both like duck, so the duck carpaccio antipasto was a hit. I am also a fan of profiteroles. He sent off an email order to the manager, who confirmed quickly.

This afternoon, when Bill went to downtown Wiesbaden to pick up our order, he encountered pretty tough parking… It seems that despite the lockdown and Mrs. Merkle’s pleas for everyone to stay home, a lot of people were walking around the city center. Consequently, parking was in short supply. Luckily, the folks at Little Italy had everything packed up nicely. Bill said when he went into the restaurant to get our food, the manager had his phone and was glad to see him. I think he was getting ready to call Bill to see if/when he was coming!

Below are some photos from our Easter repast, which was a very nice and welcome change of pace. The dogs thought so, too… I only wish we could have enjoyed it in person. But Bill broke out the wedding china and silverware and all was lovely, even if the Beastie Boys were playing over the HomePod at one point.

The duck carpaccio was surprisingly good. It was served chilled, with a sundried tomato chutney that married beautifully with the duck breast. The duck was sliced thin, making it easy to enjoy. The portion size was generous. I think of the three courses, I liked the duck carpaccio the most.

Bill loved his lamb. I didn’t try it because I don’t care for lamb. But he also mentioned loving the potatoes, and he has some left for tomorrow’s lunch. Likewise, I managed two of the filet of sole roulades, generously stuffed with spinach cooked to perfection with almonds and Parmesan cheese. I enjoyed the way this was presented, with the garlic risotto and cherry tomatoes. It was excellent. Little Italy also sent along some homemade bread, but Bill forgot to put out the bread plates.

I love profiteroles. This dessert was good, but it could have been better. For one thing, I’m pretty sure the chocolate sauce was good old Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. I remember it well from my childhood. The pastry was tasty, but nothing extraordinary. I have had better… but for the price and convenience, I’m not complaining. I know if we were dining at the restaurant itself, we would have probably had something that doesn’t travel so easily, yet was a bit more impressive.

I’m really hoping that COVID-19 restrictions will loosen up soon. I am so tired of being locked down. I want to get out and do things again. But today’s Easter meal was a nice reminder of what’s to come when the virus is finally beaten into submission… and trust me, it will be. This isn’t the first pandemic. It just feels like it to us.

Anyway, many thanks to Little Italy for yet another nice Sunday meal, and to Bill for ordering it, paying for it, and picking it up. He even did the plating. I found myself a real keeper… And I hope that soon, we can go back to enjoying restaurants in person instead of just at home.

For us, Easter will always be meaningful, not just because it’s the day Christ rose from the grave, but also because it’s the day his ex wife delivered divorce papers while they were visiting Bill’s dad’s house in 2000. She wasn’t expecting Bill would agree to the split, but he did… and twenty-one years later, he’s living a sweet life. So Happy Easter, everybody! I hope you had a great day!

Political Schwag that is sooo German!

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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.

Another week alone and locked down…

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I don’t have a lot to report this week, other than I bought a new laptop for traveling… if we ever do again. My old one functions okay, but it’s almost seven years old and it was time for an upgrade. It arrived a few days ago and I’m still breaking it in.

The weather has been pretty yucky the last couple of days. I expect rain today. I even saw a prediction for snow, although I don’t think it’s quite cold enough. The wounds on my knees are mostly healed up, and I expect by Friday, when Bill comes home, they’ll be nothing but slightly tender scars. I did take a few photos this week. Here they are…

I am really missing being able to travel, eat out, and do fun things. I’ve missed discovering local gems and writing about them. And when Bill is out of town for weeks, it sucks even more. He’ll be home in a few more days. Hopefully, by the end of the month, the lockdowns will lift a bit more and we can have some fun somehow.

On the plus side, Noyzi is fitting right in and is a delight to have around. Every day, he gets cuter and funnier. He’s still terrified of the TV, though. Arran continues to be cranky but lovable. I’ve stopped dreaming about our next destination… for now, it’s a big deal for me to put on a mask and go to the grocery store.

COVID-19 SUCKS.

Twice in a week…

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Ever since we moved back to Germany in 2014, I’ve avoided doing a lot of driving. I have a 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible sitting in the garage now. The battery has died three times since we moved to Wiesbaden because I so seldom go anywhere. Bill has his Volvo, which we purchased in 2019 and picked up in Sweden. Those were the days! I miss being able to fly somewhere without a bunch of hassles. Normally he would be driving the Volvo today, but he had to go on TDY (temporary duty yonder) for three weeks, and his company makes him rent cars when he goes on business.

Since the Volvo is in the driveway, I can’t get my Mini out without moving it. I also had two chores to do this week. First, I had to drop off a fecal sample at the vet’s office on Monday. Then today, I woke up realizing that there were a few essential items I needed. I can walk to the Rewe if need be, but I also had an empty rack of beer to deposit. So I got in the Volvo and headed off to the store, after carefully dog proofing the house. I can’t say “beagle proofing” anymore, since one of our dogs is definitely NOT a beagle.

This may seem like not much of a big deal… except prior to this morning, I had not been to the grocery store in over a year. I quit going because of COVID-19. Bill goes, because he’s out and about anyway. I used to enjoy grocery shopping, back when I was single. Now, it’s a real chore. I hate wearing a mask for many reasons, which I won’t get into here. And I hate dealing with confrontational people. I actually looked into using the home delivery service, but that requires a 50 euro minimum order. All of the appointments were also booked for the next ten days or so. And really, it’s ridiculous not to just go to the store… I mean, in another life, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

Bill had given me a few tips about the new rules. Everybody has to wear a mask and use a cart. I noticed in the drink market, people didn’t use a cart. I did, because I decided to get more beer. I don’t need to be drinking beer. In fact, I usually avoid drinking when Bill isn’t home. But this has been kind of a shitty week. Early Monday morning, I skinned both of my knees. One of the knees was already skinned from a mishap two weeks ago, so I undid a week’s worth of healing. All week, my knees have hurt– stinging, itching, and oozing stickiness. Beer helps dull the pain and annoyance of being so clumsy and having ugly knees.

I drove the mile or so to the store. It’s probably not even that far. It’s literally around the corner. I parked the car, put on my mask, and loaded the empty beer rack in the cart, along with the many empty water bottles and odd aluminum can we had. The Pfand refund totaled about 6 euros. I got my beer and a couple of cans of soda in the drink market. Then I loaded that stuff in the car and went back into the grocery store, which is in a separate building. When we moved here in late 2018, our Rewe didn’t have a drink market. It was just built in 2019. It’s nice, since it’s very well stocked.

I picked up my items at the grocery store, doing all I could to avoid the floor cleaning guy. It surprises me he’d be doing that work during regular business hours, especially since there were a number of people shopping, but what do I know about how things run around here?

When I got home, I was confronted by my lack of driving practice. Bill’s Volvo is much bigger than my Mini is. Consequently, it’s a lot harder to park it, even though it has parking assist and tells you how to park. I don’t quite trust it myself. Every day, I watch Bill expertly maneuver the car into the driveway, making it easier for the landlord to get in and out. I had to make a few passes, having parked the car in front of the house because of the groceries. I noticed the landlord drove up in his little car and looked a little annoyed that the Volvo was parked in front of the house, even though we’re allowed to park there if we want (and for the rent we’re paying, it shouldn’t be an issue, anyway).

But sure enough, I got the car parked… and there were no scratches on the car. The dogs were delighted to see me, and I can make something decent for dinner. Lately, I’ve been skipping dinner because I just can’t be arsed. I hate it when Bill is gone. The saddest part is, last night he was messaging me, proposing that we plan a trip to Stuttgart and get our teeth cleaned. We badly need to get them cleaned, since it’s going on two years since we last saw Dr. Blair. But this is not the kind of thing that should be a field trip. And yes, I know we could find a local dentist, and we might go ahead and do that at some point. We just like Dr. Blair. He’s the best dentist either of us has ever had. And we like visiting Stuttgart… and miss the days when we could do that without a bunch of bullshit.

I miss the days when we could go out and do stuff… and I’d have things to write about besides our new dog and random trips to the grocery store. I hate these marathon TDYs. I hate being clumsy. And I hate that Angela Merkel and her minions are keeping things locked down until March 28th. Fuck COVID-19.

Anyway, yes I’m proud of myself for taking care of that little chore. It would have been better if I could have driven the Mini, but it needs air in the tires and Bill has yet to find a place with a functioning air pump. So that’s another project for when he gets home… in two fucking weeks.

In other news, I’m thinking about buying a new car… one that can accommodate the moose dog, Noyzi. He doesn’t fit in a Mini Cooper. Also, as you can see in the featured photo, our trash guy smokes while he works.

It’s election time…

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I just bought a new pair of shoes that I needed to try out. I was going to try them yesterday, but ended up taking a nasty fall when I went to check the mailbox. Noyzi followed me outside and I panicked, because it’s almost a year ago that our would be rescue dog, Jonny, escaped his pet taxi before we could get him into the house. He ended up running away and tragically got hit by a car. That memory is still all too fresh in my mind.

When I went to grab for Noyzi, I lost my balance and fell. I got a nice, bruised, scraped right knee, and I tore off part of my right thumbnail. It really hurt, and I was actually a bit dazed for a few minutes. I had to sit on the floor to get my composure, because I almost felt like I might pass out from the acute pain. Needless to say, the boys didn’t get a walk yesterday. Arran capped off the misery by puking.

But anyway, we have sunny skies and nice temperatures this morning, so I decided to try again. We walked down the hill to the Dorfplatz, where there are many election signs. The big day is March 14th, and Wiesbaden has lots of candidates. I took some photos, even though as a foreigner, I won’t be voting.

I’m more than ready to get out of this neighborhood and see more of the sights. I am beyond sick of the COVID-19 lockdown lifestyle, especially since Bill has to go TDY for three weeks. But at least the new shoes were pretty comfortable, even if the shoelaces don’t want to stay tied without bow knots. I think once my knee and thumb stop throbbing, they’ll work out fine. Maybe I’ll even be motivated to walk outside of town and burn off some of this COVID-19 beergut.

Hopefully, the lockdown will be ending next month, although vaccine rollout has been slow here. Bill and I signed up for us to be vaccinated on post, but there’s no telling when that will happen. It will probably happen before we can get it on the economy, though. The school is open today, and I saw lots of kids playing outside, masked with surgical masks instead of cloth ones, which are now outlawed.

It is nice to see the sun… and feel warmer temperatures. I look forward to better weather, so we can at least socially isolate outside.

Noyzi’s big emergency…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When neighbor dogs don’t want to social distance…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karim’s Brasserie for New Year’s Eve!

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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 absolutely sure, but it sounds like she’s headed to a sanctuary. I sure hope so, anyway. Anyway, a lot of people got a kick out of seeing her, and I learned something new. I’m sure the military police are now checking the fence around Clay Kaserne to see if there are any breeches. It’s more likely someone brought her on post, but it’s possible there’s a hole somewhere.

According to the link I shared earlier in this post, we violated German tradition by having chicken on New Year’s Eve. Evidently, it’s verboten to eat poultry in Germany, due to a very old superstition. However, people in the Rhein area apparently didn’t get the message, as a lot of people do eat goose on New Years’s. I am not in the habit of eating goose, anyway… but I never turn down chicken unless it’s prepared with the food I never eat– mushrooms.

Toward the end of the evening– later than he’d intended, since he’d forgotten– Bill called his mom and we visited on Skype. It was great to talk to her. I also chatted with a cousin. I probably should call my mom today, too.

Bill brought our landlords champagne and a bag of lentils, which are also considered good luck/good health promotion on New Year’s in Germany. We had a very short fireworks show that lasted about twenty minutes, since fireworks weren’t on sale this year due to COVID-19. It suited us fine, since Bill was struggling to stay awake. We also had some snow, although it was all melted by the time we got up today. It was kind of strange watching fireworks go off as it snowed. This morning, we slept in… it was the first time in a long time I woke up after sunrise!

So far, 2021 is off to a good start. I pray that it’s a better year than 2020 was! Happy New Year, everybody! Keep the faith, and stay healthy and sane!

Happy end of 2020!

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Can you believe it? New Year’s Eve is finally upon us. The year 2020 will go down as one of the worst ever for a lot of people. It wasn’t too bad for me, personally, and it didn’t drag on for me. In fact, we had some very good things happen this year. But I do know that many people have been waiting for this day in a year that, for most people, was like no other.

The last few months of 2020 have been punctuated with losses for Bill and me. I lost a cousin, a cousin’s spouse, and our old friend, the Mad Scientist of Entringen. Bill lost his dad, who was also my father-in-law. But Bill gained one of his daughters, his son-in-law, and two grandchildren. We both gained a new family member when we adopted Noyzi. We got to do some unique traveling, and we went to places we probably would not have gone to if not for COVID-19 and the need to stay kind of local. This was also the first year in quite a few that I didn’t fly anywhere. We’re both learning guitar! This year, I started with no guitars in my house. Now, I have four of them! I’m not a great player yet, but I make improvements every day.

I don’t know what’s in store for us in 2021, although I do look forward to the end of the Trump era. I also look forward to some smart scientists making better vaccines and medications to fight COVID-19. And there are a few things we’ve been doing this year that I wouldn’t mind continuing, like working from home for Bill and fewer TDYs.

It looks like we’ll be staying in Germany for at least the foreseeable future. But if there’s one thing we have learned, it’s that nothing is for certain when you work in government contracting. We’ll see what Biden has in store for us. If anything, I hope it’s more civility and decency than what we’ve been seeing from Trump and his peeps.

I don’t think we will see too many fireworks this year. I believe there’s a curfew tonight. People are supposed to stay inside from 9:00pm until 5:00am tomorrow. If folks have fireworks left from last year, I’ve heard it’s okay to set them off. But there weren’t any for sale this year… which means that this will be a quieter Silvester. Supposedly, this is to prevent crowds and injuries that would send people to the overworked hospitals. This doesn’t really affect Bill or me, since we always have a quiet New Year’s and, at least for the past couple of years, haven’t even made it to midnight still conscious. But I expect we will enjoy some champagne and we’re planning on having Moroccan food takeout.

So… on with the end of 2020. Let us all hope for better days in 2021, even the new year is always kind of weird at first. Happy New Year to you all! We have some snow right now, so I think I’ll go enjoy it until it turns to rain.

German Christmas #9

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I just counted the number of Christmases Bill and I have spent together in Germany. We’re now up to nine. That’s 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and now, 2020. Bill spent a few more Bavarian Christmases here before we knew each other, when he was a lieutenant in the Army. Technically, we were in France last year for Christmas, but we still put up the tree at home and opened presents in Germany… so I count that as a German Christmas, too.

Yesterday’s Christmas was very nice. The best part of it was the lack of drama, which is a feature in almost all of the holidays I’ve spent with Bill. We really get along well, so being together on Christmas is a pleasure. There’s no fighting. Bill and I have both experienced enough holiday fights to last us the rest of our lives.

Anyway, our day went like this. Arran woke us up at 5:30am, as he always does, to go out for a pee and have his breakfast. Bill came back to bed and Arran snuggled into my arms. I slept until about 8:30am; these days, that is unheard of for either of us. We got up and had breakfast, then opened presents. I always get Bill more presents than he gets for me, so our gift exchange is always lopsided. This year, I decided to get him some really silly things. Here are a few photos.

There were other gifts, of course. I got Bill new shirts, a singing bowl (got one for myself, too), an Anova vacuum sealer and bags for his sous vide (a gift from several years ago that he uses a lot), and a really cool puzzle from Thailand made of wooden shapes. Bill got me a guitar repair kit, a couple of music books, a couple of t-shirts from Prairie Artisan Ales (in Oklahoma), and a guitar amp, which he gave me earlier this month to use with my new guitar.

My mother-in-law sent me a digital picture frame for the computer and, for both of us, a very interesting looking cookbook by a TV chef from eastern North Carolina. I was not familiar with the chef, but the pictures in her book make me think we’ll have a lot of fun with her southern recipes. We got so many new books that I am going to have to buy a new bookshelf.

My favorite gift of all, though, was a video Bill had sent to me by Vartoush Tota– otherwise known as Mary Basmadjian. Mary Basmadjian is the “Funny Armenian Girl”, and her videos are all over Facebook. I happen to love her comedy because I lived in Armenia for two years in the 1990s, teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I haven’t been back there since 1997, but I’ve been wanting to go. So Bill requested a video shout out from her, including a script that he wrote. It was a total surprise and I loved it! I didn’t think I would get such a kick out of a “shout out” video, but I totally did!

This was my FAVORITE gift!

After we opened gifts, Bill went to one of our favorite local restaurants, Villa Im Tal, and picked up our Christmas dinner. We usually like to cook for holidays, but since COVID-19 has impacted restaurants so much, we’ve ordered food for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I’m not sure what we’ll do for New Year’s, though. Maybe that holiday will be a bit low key.

Anyway, this was our fabulous meal… Bill broke out the china and fancy silverware for it, too.

I’m not sure why Bill ordered duck for me. I think I would have loved the prime rib just as much. I did taste it, and it was sinful! I liked the duck too, and we do have leftovers for today. The biggest surprise for me, though, was the soup. I didn’t find the color of it very appetizing. I have a weird thing against beige foods, I guess. But– after the first spoonful, I was eager to finish the rich, velvety soup. The croutons were surprising. Some of them managed to stay crunchy even though they were saturated. There was also salmon in the soup, which balanced the base. It was delicious. I’d love to have it when it’s not take out. I also liked the dessert very much– cubes of chocolate cake artfully arranged with fruits and cream. God, I miss dining out, but this was a nice compromise. I think Bill said it cost about $160.

Villa Im Tal is also offering a New Year’s Eve dinner, but the choices for that don’t look quite as appealing. They involve a lot of liver and caviar. If we did order one (and I guess they still have availability, since they included an ad for it in our order yesterday), we’d probably go for the middle choice.

We finished off the evening by watching a few Rankin & Bass children’s specials from our childhoods. These were classic Christmas shows that came on TV every year. They probably still do…

If you were an American kid in the 70s and 80s, you’ve probably seen this.

We watched three specials, but had to quit after the third… There’s only so much Rankin & Bass I can take in one sitting. I switched to reading more of John Bolton’s book, which I hope to have finished very soon. I’m ready to start a new book that has nothing to do with politics.

All in all, it was a great Christmas. Noyzi and Arran had fun, too. Especially at dinner time! Bonus– I also got some housework done, so I don’t have to do it today.

One last thing… I made a music video the other day. It’s a pretty Christmas song that Olivia Newton-John did for the collaboration effort, Liv On, with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky. I thought it was a moving and unusual holiday choice, so I decided to cover it. I used photos and video from our 2016 Ireland trip… Wish I could be there now.

Hope you had a nice holiday, too!