SeaDream Yacht Club forced to return to Barbados due to COVID-19…

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Some people are bound and determined to try to keep living life the usual, pre-COVID-19 way. As much as I would like to do that myself, I know, as someone who has an advanced degree in public health, as well as someone with plain old common sense, that it’s not a good idea. Cruising, right now, seems especially ill-advised, even as it remains a tempting diversion.

Bill and I enjoy cruises. We particularly like to sail on small vessels with all inclusive terms. So far, we’ve sailed on Royal Caribbean (one four night cruise), Hebridean Island Cruises (five cruises), and SeaDream Yacht Club (three cruises). Hebridean and SeaDream are both considered by many people to be “luxury” cruises, mainly because they offer a high standard of service and are all inclusive.

Until recently, I’d been wanting to sail on SeaDream again. Our last cruise with them was in May 2013. Over the course of an unforgettable week, we traveled from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Athens (Piraeus). It had been our habit to pre-book cruises on SeaDream. We’d pay $2500 for an “open booking” while still oboard, which would allow us to choose one at a later date that fit our schedule and logistics. But in 2013, Bill was staring down his retirement from the Army, and we weren’t sure what the future held in terms of his employment. We didn’t pre-book another cruise on our last voyage and, so far, things haven’t lined up for us to cruise on SeaDream again, although we are more able to afford it now than we ever have been.

Even though it’s been over seven years since our last magical SeaDream cruise, I’ve continued to follow them on Cruise Critic’s message boards. SeaDream has been in the news lately because it’s resumed cruises in the Caribbean. It recently had a three week transatlantic crossing for SeaDream I, which began in Oslo, Norway and arrived in Barbados. The resumption of cruising was met with many cheers. Indeed, right now, there are several representatives of the press and travel bloggers aboard the ship, including a representative from Cruise Critic. Everyone was hoping they could make cruising during a pandemic successful so that people might start having some fun again and people whose livelihoods come from cruising could get back to work.

One blogger in particular, Gene Sloan of “The Points Guy”, has been covering the voyage extensively and posting pictures on Twitter. A few days ago, he posted photos of staff members not wearing face masks. That led to a lot of angry comments from people who saw the post. But, Sloan reiterated, that before anyone was allowed to embark the ship, everyone had to have two negative COVID-19 tests– one prior to flying to the island and one by the ship’s doctor prior to embarking on the ship. Everyone in the group that has been cruising recently tested negative– and there are only 53 passengers onboard, as opposed to the 112 that SeaDream vessels can usually accommodate. Staffing is at 66 members, so service has probably been incredible. Aside from the testing, SeaDream invested in ultrasonic cleaning devices that supposedly made cleaning “hospital grade”.

Apparently, passengers were assured that they would not have to wear face masks on the ship during the cruise. That was the main reason some people booked the voyage in the first place. They wanted a break from the COVID-19 nightmare and the oppressive face masks that have come with it. And– make no mistake– despite my public health background, I do hate the masks, even as I understand that they’re necessary for now. I totally understand why some people booked so they could escape having to wear the damned things. Since SeaDream did have a successful three week cruise from Oslo and required so much testing prior to embarkation, I’m sure plenty of people felt perfectly safe. I know I would have.

As it turns out, a passenger on the current voyage did start feeling poorly. Passengers would have been required to be tested again anyway, per Barbados’ requirements, but the passenger who felt ill requested a test prior to the one that was already planned. It came up positive. Prior to the positive test, SeaDream had reversed course on its no mask requirement, and passengers were asked to wear masks when they weren’t eating, drinking, or in the water. People were pissed off enough about that– but now they’ve been ordered to their staterooms until they’re all tested again. And who knows if they will be able to continue the cruise, thanks to the one person who tested positive.

I posted about this situation last night, since I have at least one friend who has had the magical SeaDream experience (in fact, that’s where we met). I wrote this:

Not good. They are getting bad press, too, because they weren’t making people wear masks. I wouldn’t want to be on a cruise in which I had spent $10,000 (for two people) and be forced to wear a mask, either. Seems like now isn’t the best time to be cruising. And now they have someone who is COVID positive. Yikes.

In response, I got this comment:

Would you want to spend $10,000 on a cruise and catch the virus because someone didn’t wear a mask?

I was actually a little surprised and disappointed that someone would assume my comment was simply an “anti-masker” statement. I do hate the masks and feel quite fine in saying so out loud. That doesn’t mean I’m non-compliant or in need of an intervention. I do understand why masks are required for now.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, my mantra has been that it’s more important to stay home as much as possible. That’s what I’ve been doing. I have literally not left our neighborhood since October 4th, when we came back from Slovenia with Noyzi. During that trip, we didn’t even eat in a restaurant. This is the same thing I did for about three months last spring– I stayed home almost exclusively from March until June, going out only to walk the dog. That, to me, is much better protection against COVID-19 than a mask is. People will still get sick whether or not masks are worn; it’s just a question of the ease of virus transmission, which is somewhat less when people wear masks. So, to the person who made the above query, this was my response:

No, I would not consider spending that kind of money on a cruise until a vaccine is available. I don’t plan to cruise if people are going to be required to wear face masks, especially on a line like SeaDream, where alcohol is included. I have sailed with them three times and have seen firsthand how people can behave. Lots of money plus entitled attitudes plus booze equals trouble, particularly during a pandemic. People drink a lot on those cruises.  

The blogger who was sharing pictures of the staff members not wearing masks got screamed at by a fellow passenger. Evidently, they were told that masks would not be required and they would not have booked the trip if they were told they had to wear them onboard.

The mask mandate came on Monday night after the pictures went live and people were posting angry comments about the irresponsibility of not masking, despite the many measures that were taken before people were allowed to embark. But, as this article reports, despite everyone being tested three times pre cruise, someone came up positive. I have gotten sick on cruises before and would definitely not want to risk it right now with COVID. It’s very easy to get sick on a cruise. But I also hate the masks and would not find cruising fun while wearing them, anyway.

To be clear– I think it’s crazy to spend five figures on a luxury cruise right now. Some people don’t mind wearing face masks everywhere. That’s good for them. I would definitely not enjoy being forced to wear a mask on a cruise, yet I understand that masks help stem the tide of COVID-19. I will wear them where I have to wear them, but no one needs to be on a luxury cruise during a pandemic. So, until an effective vaccine is available, I won’t be cruising at any price.

I will admit that I would be particularly pissed off if I’d spent $10,000 to be stuck in my stateroom and forced to wear a mask in a place like Barbados. I have been to Barbados, and it’s a very beautiful place akin to actual paradise! But I don’t need to go there so badly that I’d travel there from Europe during a pandemic. And now, it’s possible the people who are on that cruise will spend ten-fourteen days holed up in Barbados in quarantine, likely at their own expense! No, thank you.

There is promising news of an effective vaccine being made out of company in Mainz, Germany, only twenty minutes from where I live. The story surrounding the creation of the vaccine is fascinating on many levels; I hope someone will make a movie out of it or write a book. The married couple who have been working on the vaccine are really interesting people who seem to be focused on doing actual good. I can wait to cruise until their work is completed and we have an effective weapon against the virus that makes it less contagious and dangerous.

As I mentioned before, I have sailed with SeaDream three times. It’s a beautiful experience. The staff is wonderful and kind and mostly genuine. The ship is small– a bit old, but pristine, and immaculately maintained. The itineraries are interesting, exciting, and unique. I have met several great people on that ship, to include a couple of famous folks (who were surprisingly normal). But as incredible as SeaDream or any other cruise experience is, I have experienced getting sick on at least three cruises– twice with nasty colds and once with the dreaded norovirus, which made me puke and gave me horrendous diarrhea for about 36 hours of sheer digestive hell as I was also enduring my menstrual period (fortunately, the sickness was coming on as we were disembarking).

It’s VERY EASY to get sick on a cruise, although with only 53 people onboard, there’s plenty of room for social distancing on SeaDream I right now. The fact remains that you’re in an enclosed environment and you eventually will be exposed to everyone. In fact, I remember on our last cruise on Hebridean Princess, one of the staffers told me that he was always having to battle sickness. It was passed around the ship. If someone came aboard who was sick, there was a very good chance everyone else eventually would be, too; and they’d still have to work, regardless, so that means they’d also be spreading their germs.

Alcohol is included in SeaDream’s fare, and they weren’t going to require masking while eating and drinking. I have seen firsthand that booze is freely offered on SeaDream. You could spend the whole time drinking champagne and eating warmed peanuts if you wanted to– and I have done just that. Ordinarily, that would be a selling point for me, but I have seen the way some people behave after a few drinks. On one SeaDream cruise, Bill and I witnessed a drunk man helping himself to booze, getting very angry at a group of passengers, and actually inviting one or two of them to “step outside”. Imagine how he would react to being required to “mask up” after paying so much to be onboard the ship!

I am a writer myself, although not a famous one (at least in most circles). I can imagine innocently posting a photo from my travels, having it go viral due to someone noting that precautions aren’t being taken, and then being yelled at by another cruiser for spoiling his experience. That has happened to Gene Sloan from The Points Guy, who no doubt was doing his part to publicize SeaDream’s cruise and get the industry going again. Yes, you’d better believe that some people will pay for a maskless experience– same way some people will pay for a condomless prostitute. I can’t blame them at all for wanting to vacation without a mask, but doing so right now isn’t a very smart idea. And paying $10,000 to do it and expecting that nothing will go wrong is also not a very good idea, even though SeaDream cruises are forever tempting. The fact remains that COVID-19 is a real thing and it’s sneakily determined to fuck up everyone’s fun, no matter what.

So I’m going to stay on land for now. I don’t want to wear a mask on a cruise. That wouldn’t be fun for me. And I don’t want to pay $10,000 to be on a luxury cruise, having made the extreme efforts to be COVID-19 negative, only to be trapped on a boat and confined to my stateroom because someone comes up positive (and I don’t blame them– they probably have no clue where they got the virus). I really hope SeaDream and other cruise lines can stay afloat during this mess. I would love to sail with them again, but not until we’ve sorted out this pandemic. Norovirus was bad enough. I’d like to avoid respirators for as long as possible.

I’ve got the lockdown blues…

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It’s November, and in November, Bill and I typically plan a Veterans Day weekend trip. Our wedding anniversary is November 16th. This year, it’s number 18, which is nothing to sneeze at. Unfortunately, this year we aren’t going anywhere because we’re in lockdown lite status, thanks to the stupid coronavirus.

Before everything shut down again, I had been toying with the idea of going somewhere local. Actually, months ago, I bought tickets for Keb’ Mo’, who was scheduled to play in Mainz on our big day. Mainz is only about twenty minutes from where we live. But Keb’ Mo’ rescheduled for April, thanks to the pandemic. Hopefully, the show will go on, because I miss live music and I’ve been wanting to see Keb’ Mo’ for ages!

I think of this song as our theme… especially when there isn’t a pandemic.

So then I thought maybe we could do what we did last year. Last year, we booked a really nice room at the Jumeirah Hotel in Frankfurt and had a nice dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. Then, the next day, I accompanied Bill on a TDY trip to Wroclaw, Poland. I hadn’t actually wanted to go on that trip because when I tag along on TDYs, I tend to get kind of bored. But since it was our anniversary and I do like Poland, I relented. And we flew to Wroclaw and had a pretty good time there. I’m now really glad I tagged along. Wroclaw is a cool city, and I didn’t know then that this year would end up being such a cluster fuck.

Frankfurt does have nice hotels and restaurants. We could have stayed in another one this year and given Noyzi the chance to meet the people who take care of our dogs when we travel. But COVID-19 has ramped up so much in Europe that restaurants aren’t allowed to do dine in service and hotels can’t accept travelers for tourist purposes. Shops are open, but everything is stricter than it was a month ago, and if the infection numbers don’t go down, they will lock down even more.

I think about how I wanted to move to Germany because of the travel opportunities. I have to admit that we’ve been able to take advantage of a lot of them over the past six years. Prior anniversary trips included Baden-Baden, Ireland, cruising in Scotland, the southern Caribbean, and even an amazing meal at the Alte Post in Nagold, which was a town near where we lived before we moved to Wiesbaden. Unfortunately, the Alte Post is now closed, but it was a wonderful place for food. This year, we’ll have to make do with each other.

Oh well. We have a lot to be grateful for, especially in 2020. Germany has been so good to us. We have gotten to see and do so many things, most of which I’ve chronicled in this blog. And now we have a new dog who is rewarding us every day by being awesome and sweet. I’m sure we’ll get to travel and eat good food again someday.

Thanksgiving is coming up, too. I was thinking this year, maybe we’ll order a meal from a restaurant. Cem Klein, which Bill and I tried before it moved locations, is offering a Thanksgiving deal this year. And we like to do our part in keeping the restaurants going. In fact, I think I’m going to nag Bill into getting some takeout today or tomorrow. I’m getting tired of his cooking, anyway. 😉

I’m kidding… This week, he got really daring and made injera, a type of east African sour bread. Here are a few photos and a link to the recipe. Bill likes exotic stuff more than I do, and his time working for AFRICOM really introduced him to new cuisines. Of course I’m grateful that I have a husband who cooks and does it so well. But I do miss the dining out experience and trying new and exciting dishes. I especially miss the desserts.

Well… maybe instead of planning a fancy trip, I’ll buy an electric guitar. That’s the next big purchase I’d like to make in my quest to be a pandemic era guitarist. We’ll see what happens. One thing is for certain, though. This year, we’re going nowhere fast.

Labor Day 2020…

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We didn’t end up leaving town for Labor Day. I never got around to finding a place to go. Since the COVID-19 situation is ever changing, it didn’t seem smart to book too far in advance. And then, we had to deal with the chimney sweep on Friday. It’s German law that they come every year and do an inspection and we weren’t sure when they would arrive.

Our weekend was mostly spent in the backyard, listening to music, gardening, and drinking beer and wine. We didn’t even go out to eat, although Bill did get some take out from Five Guys because I had a craving. I downloaded some new software and will probably try to figure it out today. Last night, we took a walk around the neighborhood and I took a few photos.

Our next trip could be to Slovenia, where we will hopefully meet a new canine family member. Fingers are crossed. Slovenia is beautiful anyway. I wouldn’t mind going just because it’s so gorgeous.

My own little Gitarzan…

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Yesterday, the weather was kind of iffy, as it has been today. In retrospect, maybe it would have been a good idea to go out yesterday. Maybe there would be fewer people out and about, and we could pump some euros into the local economy. But we decided to stay in, and I spent a rather angsty day reading more and more about the state of U.S. politics and the stupid face mask controversy. I got into a couple of pointless arguments, too.

I also played guitar. I brought my new blue one downstairs and turned on some music. Before I knew it, I had picked it up and was strumming along to Tom Petty’s live version of “I Won’t Back Down”. It has a pretty easy chord progression– E-D-G, E-D-C… easy enough for a rank beginner to follow along with somewhat, although I’m still too slow at changing chords. It was kind of fun trying to figure out the songs I can sort of play, although I still have a long way to go. I even tried “Every Breath You Take” by The Police and was almost successful at it.

Bill picked up his guitar too, although he’s only been playing for a week. Maybe there will come a day when we can jam together.

The title of today’s post comes from a song by Ray Stevens. I have always thought Ray Stevens’ talent was a bit underrated. He’s a wonderful singer and pianist, but he’s best known for singing comedic novelty songs, with the exception of his 1970 hit, “Everything is Beautiful”. Even though some people might think of it as a “schmaltzy” song, I’ve always thought of “Everything is Beautiful” as an anthem of tolerance and kindness. I find it oddly comforting to listen to it today.

A silly song… but I relate. I doubt my guitar playing will make me a celebrity, though.
This song always makes me smile, even though it’s kind of corny.

Since we aren’t traveling or exploring as much this year, music has become a lot more important to me. I’ve been making more videos, all of which include photos or videos from our travels. In a way, it’s made me miss traveling more, although making music brings me joy. I don’t have a lot of people listening, but it’s still a pleasure to make it and explore new and creative ways to express myself. Making music is mostly uncontroversial, and it doesn’t beg philosophical discussions or arguments. I’ve about had my fill of those lately, too.

I doubt we’ll go out today… the sky is full of rain clouds and the wind is up. I welcome the rain, since our rain barrel in the backyard is pretty parched and has dried out so much at the top that it’s warped a bit. Maybe with more rain, the wood will swell and seal up the cracks in the wood. The garden is liking the rain, too. Our cucumbers have blossoms, which I know means that the fruits will be on the vine soon. I’m starting to sound like a Handmaid… and with the constant hammering about face masks, maybe I’ll soon look like one.

Anyway… this weekend has so far not been as exciting or fun as last weekend was. We really enjoyed ourselves, but we also recognize that it’s best not to jump back into the way we were in previous years. Not until the coronavirus scourge has been vanquished a bit more. Hopefully, that won’t take the rest of my life.

Here’s a video I made this week. I shared it on my original blog, but since this post is about music, I’ll share here, too. I’m much better at singing than playing guitar. But with time, practice, and luck, maybe I can even things up a bit.

And just to keep things topical, this video includes footage from our visit to Ireland in 2016. Boy, do I wish we could be there now…

Why eye didn’t go out…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dutch delights!

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In January 2019, Bill and I decided to spend MLK weekend in The Netherlands. It was the first time we’d been in that country since June 2015, when Bill had a conference in Apeldoorn. I was lucky enough to join Bill on that 2015 trip, after which we visited Amsterdam and Haarlem for the first time. I also got stoned for the first time– on my 43rd birthday! Count me among those who favor legalized pot!

We thought The Netherlands was so beautiful and we live fairly close now… significantly closer than we did when we lived in the Stuttgart area. I found us a little vacation home in Vijlen, a little hamlet near the Belgian, German, and Dutch borders, and not far from the beautiful city of Maastricht. When we visited Maastricht, we ran across a chain cheese store called Henri Willig. It offered a dizzying array of cheeses and other Dutch treats, like honey waffle cookies and chocolate, and condiments, like garlic mayonnaise and mustards. We went home with a couple of cheeses and some waffle cookies.

Last weekend, I decided to order from their store. I can’t travel right now… but I can keep enjoying products I love, right? So I chose a couple of cheeses for Bill (and for me if they aren’t too sharp or offensive), garlic mayonnaise, chocolate, mustard, waffle cookies, cheese and garlic waffles, and even some hand cream. Everything arrived last night, and I’m now sitting here having coffee from a roastery in Berlin and a waffle cookie. Yes, I know they have a Dutch name… Stroopwafel. Anyway, you get the idea. We always seem to get them when we fly on KLM, the official Dutch airline.

In other news, this week the restrictions got a little bit looser in Germany. My neighbors, who have been deprived of a proper wine stand for weeks now, decided to gather outside by the bank of trash cans with wine. I noticed they practiced proper social distancing as they drank wine and used trash cans as bar tables! Because Bill and I are in the military community, the restrictions are still tight for us; we are under General Order Number One, which until a couple of months ago, was a mystery to me. Now, it’s the law of my life, since I am a lowly “dependa”. In fact, I’m worse than a “dependa”. I’m a contractor’s wife. 😉

They were enjoying themselves.

I have heard that people in Landstuhl and Kaiserslautern are allowed slightly more freedom. They are under General Order Number Two. That means they can travel a bit further and participate in a few more activities.

I got a laugh out of this photo, which was taken down near Stuttgart. My German friend says it’s technically correct in German, but to English speakers, it’s pretty funny.

Other than that, it’s been a regular week here… nice weather that is harder to enjoy due to the stupid pandemic. But it could be worse by far for us. I’m glad that Bill and I still love each other. I also got a guitar yesterday, which I’m learning how to play courtesy of videos on the Internet. So maybe I’ll come out of this a better person. Or at least a more skilled one.

My Scottish friend, George, and I will also probably record more music. We’ve done some good collaborations in the past. This was the most recent one… I would love to someday be able to play guitar like he does.

And Bill has been brushing up on his German skills with Duolingo. When we first moved here in 2014, I used that application every day. I finished the whole thing twice, and finally quit using it, having learned a little bit of German. I still can’t speak it, but I can understand more than I once did. I think the lessons have now been expanded a lot more. Maybe I should get back on the Duolingo wagon myself. If this keeps up for much longer, I probably will.

My ass is getting a lot of presents lately…

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

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

Feast your eyes!

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

My new skill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homemade ravioli!

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

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

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

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

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

The bed’s too big without Bill.

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Sigh… Bill left a few days ago for his latest TDY. It’s only been since Monday, but it’s the third or fourth TDY he’s done since the New Year. You’d think after 17 years, I’d be used to this, but I hate it when he leaves town. I’m kind of a loner and usually end up spending a lot of quality time watching TV.

This morning, I finally decided to take my car out of the garage. It’s been ages since I last drove anywhere, and given that I almost hit the house as I was backing out of our little garage, my lack of practice really shows. Our house, like a lot of German houses, has a very small garage that fits the Mini Cooper perfectly. But backing in and out of it is a bit tricky.

We live very close to the Rewe, so I could actually walk there, but I knew I needed to pick up a few things. Also, I had a crapload of empty plastic bottles to deposit. I drink a lot of water, especially when Bill isn’t around. When he’s not home, I try to stay off booze. This week, I’ve had a bottle of wine and a couple of beers. So you can imagine, I went through a lot of mineral water with gas this week!

Now… ordinarily, this trip to the store wouldn’t be a big deal, except our Rewe was recently renovated because we got a brand new drink market. The construction workers spent all last year turning what used to be a field into a lovely new drink store, and they freed up lots of space that used to be taken up by drinks for the older grocery store. The work was done in early December, and yet I still hadn’t been in there. Let me just say, I was really pleasantly surprised at how nice the store is now. It’s a huge improvement. They have a much larger meat counter, a cheese counter, and a much bigger frozen foods section. There are more aisles and the crappy beer selection they used to have is greatly expanded in the drink market.

I took a few photos after I found the bottle depository, which is now in the drink market. I got 5,25 euros off my order, y’all! The bottle depository is also a hell of a lot nicer. It doesn’t mess up as much as the old one did and you can even get directions in languages other than German.

Germans are pretty serious about recycling, so everyone brings back their bottles for a “Pfand”. That’s the money you deposit for each bottle. I remember, as a kid, I used to collect glass bottles and turn them in for money. Then we moved to redneck Gloucester, Virginia, where everybody just took their trash to the dump. Here in Germany, you have to separate everything into different bins and I’m back to turning in bottles for cash.

I noticed that the store was stocked with pasta, toilet paper, and detergents. All week, I’ve heard that Germans have been panic buying everything– especially pasta, face masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer (and just a note from your friendly MPH– washing your hands is a better solution). Germans have a funny term for this type of purchasing– Hamsterkäufen. Yes, it’s akin to the fuzzy rodents known as hamsters, who are known for packing their cheeks full of food. In some places, Germans are likewise buying out stores because of the Coronavirus. But maybe they’re not so panicked in our neighborhood.

I picked up a few items I needed, along with a new rubber chicken for Arran. The cashier got a kick out of the toy and gave it a few squeaks before ringing it up. Arran was delighted to have a new plaything to destroy. He went freakin’ nuts with “crazy dog” when I gave it to him. But I think my most exciting score was sushi. Our new improved Rewe has sushi now! That will be a welcome change from the chicken I’ve been eating all week.

I think we’ll get through the next few days, while Bill visits his long lost younger daughter in Utah. They haven’t seen each other since 2004. There’s a long, painful, convoluted story as to why they’ve been apart for 15 years. I’ve written about it a lot in my original blog. I like to keep this one relatively tame whenever possible. Anyway, I suspect there will be an exciting reunion. He’ll meet his son-in-law and grandchildren. I’ll sit at home and eat sushi from the new and improved Rewe.

I suppose I could get braver and drive somewhere else further afield, but I think I’ve had enough excitement for one day. Besides, Arran went nuts when I left for the store, and I was only gone for about 30 minutes or so. I’ll wash the sheets, do some more writing, and maybe even record a song. I love it when I’m a busy bee.