Another gloomy weekend in Germany…

We’re now at that time of year when Germany’s weather gets much less predictable. Today, the temperature is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s kind of overcast and rainy. It was sort of like that yesterday, too, although the sun did appear for a brief period in the afternoon. I tried to sit outside, but it was too windy to enjoy the sunshine, so back into the house I went.

Ordinarily, yucky weather wouldn’t necessarily keep us homebound, but we also decided to stay home because we’re a bit concerned about Arran. I mentioned in a few recent posts that he hasn’t been himself lately. A week ago, I discovered enlarged lymph nodes in his popliteal glands behind his knees (back legs). I immediately became concerned about lymphoma, which is the dreaded cancer that took our dog, Zane, in 2019. Bill took Arran in to see the vet last week, because besides the lymph nodes, Arran also had a few pesky fleas, which he picked up from the hedgehog who has been residing in our backyard.

The vet did a fine needle aspirate, and at this point, we still haven’t gotten the results. She also put him on antibiotics, which he’ll finish today. I would say he had a partial response to the antibiotics. The lymph nodes are still large, but Arran did seem to feel somewhat less lethargic. We treated him for the fleas, and I washed everything in sight, and that seems to have gotten rid of them for now. I just have a bad feeling that he has cancer. It might or might not be lymphoma. If it is lymphoma, it’s not like it was for Zane, who seemed to have a very aggressive case of it. He died exactly one week after he was diagnosed. Arran, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be ailing much, other than being a little slower to eat his breakfast, quicker to tire on his walks, and slightly less spry when he jumps up on the bed.

The dogs are due to get dentals next week, and if Arran is still with us, he’ll probably get a biopsy. Bill and I talked about it last night, and I think we agree that whatever we do for Arran will be conservative, because he’s about 14 years old. That is the human equivalent as a man in his 90s. Canine lymphoma is treatable, but it’s not curable. As sad as it was to lose Zane, though, his was the easiest of our canine deaths. He had a good last week. If that is what’s in store for Arran, I wouldn’t object.

On the other hand, it’s possible this is an infection and the antibiotics he’s been taking weren’t the right ones to cure it… or it could be another type of cancer. I really don’t know. I hate this part of having animals in my life, but I don’t hate it enough to give them up for good. Anyway, at this point, Arran is still eating, drinking, sleeping, taking walks, and hanging around with us. So this weekend, we decided to give him some more of our time.

Noyzi is also hanging out with us more. He likes to listen to me practice guitar, especially since he knows that when I’m done playing, if Bill isn’t home and hasn’t already taken him out, that means it’s walk time.

One thing that does worry me a bit is that we are due to go to The Black Forest at the end of the month, and we can’t cancel our reservation without having to pay for the stay. I did buy travel insurance with cancel for any reason coverage, but it’s not so easy to get reimbursed by travel insurance. Plus, I really want to go… Yes, we’ll be visiting our dentist, but I would also like to have a change of scenery. We haven’t gone anywhere since June. We’re long overdue for a trip.

I think that like Zane, Arran is going to stay with us for as long as he possibly can. He’s already the oldest dog we’ve had the pleasure of having. All of the others have died younger. He’s a very resilient, spunky dog, and he LOVES Bill so much. So we’ll see what happens. Below are photos that were taken within the past 36 hours or so. As you can see, the boys look fine. But I am still worried about those big lymph nodes.

Edited to add on September 19, 2022… Unfortunately, my concerns were on target. Arran does have lymphoma. So we will be speaking with the vet to determine what to do from this point. I think we are inclined to keep him comfortable for as long as possible, but we’ll see what the vet says.


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

Tuesday afternoon, we decided to go to Lake Bled to see if we could find some lunch. There were some places open, but we were flummoxed because at that point, we hadn’t found the large public parking lot in Bled. I’m not sorry we went, though, because I got more beautiful photos. And then, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes from Ukanc at Lake Bohinj, where our rental house was, we found lunch at Gostilnica Štrudl, a cute little eatery in the touristy town of Bohinjska Bistrica. This restaurant offers local specialties– real “stick to your ribs” food, with lots of beans, cabbage, sausages, and potatoes. We coupled lunch with a couple of excellent locally made craft beers. I loved the dark beer. Should have brought some home! It also has apartments for rent, and sells locally produced gins, jams, and liqueurs. Below are some photos from our Tuesday outing.

I was glad to be able to get a few sunny shots of Lake Bled, even though we were passing in the car. We later found the public parking lot for Bled, so we came back on Thursday.

And then we found lunch, which stuck with us for the rest of the day. If only I’d had this lunch before we left Croatia!

There appeared to be several open restaurants in the Bohinjska Bistrica area. That’s also where the Aquapark Bohinj is. We decided not to visit there, mainly because of some poor reviews and concerns about sickness (the reviews mentioned that it wasn’t very clean). But, if we’d wanted to, we also could have gone bowling. We decided to go back to the house and finish watching The Crown instead, as the weather was getting crummy.

Unfortunately, Wednesday, we didn’t do much of anything because of high winds and rain. We did take a short drive, though, and I got some more photos. And we also found where the entrance to Mostnica Gorge is, as well as a few more eateries. One didn’t open until 4:00pm, and the other didn’t open until 1:00pm, so we ate leftover pizza and drank local wines.

Fortunately, even in inclement weather, Slovenia is so beautiful… it’s hard to be bored there. There’s always something to see, even if the weather makes being active more difficult. And the lack of crowds, especially during COVID-19 times is especially appealing.

Stay tuned for part eleven!

staying home

British style Trivial Pursuit and a surprise “visit” from my mom…

We had big plans to try a new restaurant yesterday, but the weather was icky and I didn’t feel like wandering around in the cold and wind. That gave us the perfect opportunity to try out the new 40th anniversary edition Trivial Pursuit game I bought from Amazon.de. I ordered it when Bill’s mom was visiting us last month, but we never got around to trying it until yesterday afternoon. Over wine and Steely Dan, we played the game, quickly realizing that it was a British version, which made it a bit more challenging. We got lots of British culture, sports, and government questions. I’m not complaining, though. It made the game more interesting.

At home in storage, we have the original game that came out in the 80s. Bill was always very good at Trivial Pursuit. He says his ex wife complained that he cheated, he was so good at it. Fortunately, Bill and I are evenly matched. I won yesterday’s game, but it was close.

After we were finished playing our board game, I took a look at Facebook and noticed a long, lost, familiar face… There was my mom, featured on the Facebook page for the assisted living place where she’s lived for the past ten years. She looks great, standing next to an exquisite counted cross stitch project she recently finished. My mom is super talented with keyboards, knitting needles, and other needles. I inherited her musical gifts, but not her talent for making beautiful works of art with needles, beads, and thread.

After my dad retired from the Air Force, my parents ran their own business out of our home. Mom sold knitting and needlework supplies, and she taught countless people her crafts. Dad sold art and framed pictures for people. Mom was also a church organist for about fifty years. Unlike most kids, whose parents worked out of the home and forced them to be “latchkey”, both of my parents were always home. I didn’t always appreciate that about them, but now I know I was lucky in that I got to spend a lot more time with both of them than my sisters did.

I tried to cross stitch when I was a kid, but I was terrible at it. I don’t have the patience to sit still for that long. I don’t have the dexterity to use a needle and thread. I have always hated sewing, even with a machine. I couldn’t make straight seams to save my life. My mom, by contrast, does just about everything with a needle except crochet. She told me it was because when she was growing up, her mother crocheted (and I have inherited one of the afghans Grandma Elliott made), but didn’t knit. A neighbor offered to teach my mom how to knit. Mom said yes to that because the neighbor had a TV. She and the neighbor would watch TV while they knitted together. I never learned any stitching skills, although one of my sisters has followed in my mom’s artsy footsteps. She knits and cross stitches and all that. Meanwhile, I’m the most musical of her progeny.

I did appreciate the yarn my mom sold. As a child and teenager, I showed horses, and that required me to braid manes and tails. Either yarn or rubber bands are required for braiding manes and tails, so I always had my pick of the best colors and highest quality yarns at the barn!

Mom’s yarn came in handy at the barn… I was 16 years old in this photo. I miss these days.

I haven’t seen my mom in person since the summer of 2015. I’d love it if she came to visit us again, especially since we live in a new city and have a better house for hosting guests. But flying across the Atlantic is tough on her, despite the fact that she’s aging so well. I’m long overdue for a trip home, anyway. It’s been five years since I was last in the States. Bill’s contract is coming up for renewal again this year. We’ll see if we stay or go. If we go, I’ll visit Mom when we get back to the States. If we don’t, it may be time to plan a visit to the USA before it’s too late. Bill needs to go see his dad, his daughter, and his grandchildren, too.

We were thinking we might go out today, but the weather is similarly yucky. Maybe we’ll play another game of Trivial Pursuit over more wine and conversation. Or maybe I’ll finish my latest jigsaw puzzle… we’ll see.


Stormy Sunday…

We didn’t do anything notable yesterday.  The weather turned icky and I just didn’t feel like going out in it, even though there were things going on.  However, I did manage to get a few dramatic photos of last night’s storm before the sun set.  Here they are…

I will miss watching the sun breaking through the clouds.
I will miss the neighbor’s willow tree, which is beautiful all year.
One of the best things about living where we live is being able to watch the weather.  It’s fascinating, especially at this time of year.  Pretty soon, there will be amazing sunrises to photograph.  I hope we’ll get them in Wiesbaden.
I will miss this view when we move.  It will be hard to find a place with such pretty surroundings.  We’ll try, though.
I do look forward to going to a new place for a lot of reasons.  I have seen some great pictures of the Wiesbaden area that makes me think the landscape change will appeal.  I have heard Hessians are different than Swabians are, although my German friend Susanne says true Swabians are a dying breed.  
We did have a nice view the last time we lived in Germany, although our neighborhood was a bit more crowded.  Last time, we had a great view of the Wuermlinger Chapel, sitting on a hill.  I can see that chapel in the distance as we descend into Herrenberg from where we live now.  I’ll miss it.  This area is truly beautiful, especially in a storm.

I did hear that there was an accident at the Neckarmueller in Tuebingen last night.  Something struck a glass door during the storm and five people who were sitting near it were hurt.  Acts of God are a real hazard here, especially when the wind picks up.

Moving is a real pain.  I’d rather not have to do it.  I’ll be glad when the process is finished.
Germany, Sundays

Rainy Sundays staying in…

As regular readers might have guessed, Bill and I didn’t end up going anywhere yesterday.  I hate staying in on the weekend, since those are precious days I can spend enjoying Germany with Bill.  But the weather was pretty dismal yesterday and neither of us felt like going out in the rain.  I sat around and watched iTunes all day, while Bill made another batch of homemade dog food for the boys in our Instant Pot.

iTunes is a funny thing.  I started using it when we lived at Fort Belvoir about ten years ago.  Bill was deployed and I was always alone, so I did things to try to fill my time.  I discovered a lot of music during those days.

When we moved to Germany the first time, I used iTunes to keep up with the few TV shows I got hooked on while he was in Iraq.  I discovered a few new shows that were offered free of charge.  Sometimes I’d get hooked on them and end up buying the whole series.  We never bothered to get AFN and, though we did have German cable, we didn’t watch much of anything on it outside of CNN.  Instead, I’d watch Netflix– at those days, I’d wait weeks for DVDs to arrive in the mail.  I’d buy my own DVDs, too; I still have many I bought at the Stuttgart PX ten years ago.  Or I’d watch iTunes.

Now that we’re in Germany again, I’ve found that entertainment possibilities are endless.  Netflix is streamable now and the German version is pretty good.  Although it doesn’t have the selection the American version has, I’ve found there’s enough stuff in English to occupy me.  And when there’s not, I can always watch iTunes.  Yes, I end up paying more, but that’s not really a concern to me.  This time, we have plenty of money.  I’m not as frugal as I once had to be.

Yesterday, we binge watched Snapped, which is a show about women who go off the deep end and commit murder.  After watching all the true crime stories I could stomach, I switched to Lifetime’s movie about the making of Melrose Place.  I was surprisingly entertained by that film, not just because I was in my 20s when that show aired, but also because it was genuinely a pretty decent film.  The casting was really good and there were some snarky lines in it that would really appeal to anyone who was young in the early 90s.

Unfortunately, I find that I pay a price when I don’t venture out on the weekends.  Because I’m kind of a recluse, if I don’t go out on Saturday or Sunday, I tend to get a touch of cabin fever.  I suppose I could go out on my own and I probably would if we didn’t have our dogs.  I have found that lonely excursions don’t always amount to much more than wasted gas and buying crap I don’t really need.

This is about right for me when I venture out alone…

Luckily, this week we have a holiday and Bill and I will be going to France with the dogs.  We are going back to Ribeauville, to an apartment we’ve stayed at before.  I don’t usually like to use precious time going back to places we’ve been, but we were short on planning time and needed a place somewhat close because we won’t have the whole day to get to our destination.  Bill has to work part of Thursday before we leave.

I know the place we’re going is dog friendly and super easy and convenient to access.  I know I like Ribeauville and even if we don’t do a lot of new stuff, there’s enough there that we can enjoy a change of scenery and different food.  We know the dogs will be okay alone for awhile in the apartment we’re renting while we scout out new wines and cuisine and perhaps do some shopping.  Maybe we’ll even try a French spa.  The price was also right.  Three nights in a three bedroom apartment for less than $500.  Can’t beat it.

I do hope 2018 will be somewhat better for seeing Europe.  I desperately need to get to Berlin sometime and there are other places I want to see, once Bill has leave saved up.  It’s not so easy when you have dogs and don’t trust a lot of folks.

Next week, we will also be celebrating our 15th anniversary.  This year, because Bill is building up vacation time, we are staying local.  Bill found a new restaurant in Stuttgart that looks promising.  If he can get us a reservation, I will be reviewing it soon.

But for now, all I can say is that we stayed in yesterday because it was just too icky to go anywhere yesterday.  It’s just that time of year.

advice, anecdotes, Germany

Winner, winner chicken dinner? Not at our house!

Those of my readers who live in the Stuttgart area may already know that the weather was horrible yesterday.  It rained all day.  It was cold and nasty and neither Bill nor I were in the mood to go out.  Bill resolved to stop by the “baby” Real (a German store kind of like Walmart) in Jettingen for some supplies.  Since they didn’t have any whole chickens at the commissary, he looked for one at Real.  He found one, brought it home, and cooked it…

I was really looking forward to last night’s dinner.  I love roasted chicken.  I especially love it when it’s moist, tender, and juicy.  That’s the vision I had in my head last night as Bill roasted the chicken he found at the Real.

Finally, at about 7:30pm, he called me downstairs to dinner.  I was hungry and definitely ready for a nice meal on such a miserable night.  Bill had prepared wilted spinach and mashed potatoes and opened a nice bottle of locally produced red wine that we picked up in Tuebingen last week.

He goes to cut the bird and had surprising difficulty, even with our trusty Wusthof knives at the ready.  At one point, he broke out the kitchen scissors to separate one of the legs the rest of the carcass, noting that the bird was pretty scrawny and tough.  I started wondering what kind of chicken this was.  I mean, I know Germans don’t use a lot of antibiotics and crap in their chickens like Americans do, but this was a most unusual specimen of fowl.  It was like the bird had been in training for marathons her whole life.

We struggled to eat the rubbery chicken.  I swear, in all my years, I don’t think I’ve ever run across such a tough bird, even when I lived in Armenia.  Bill ended up throwing the rest of it away.

This morning, Bill looked at the label on the packaging and noticed that it said “Suppen Hänchen”, which I take to mean that it was supposed to be used to make a nice stew after having been boiled for hours.  Now we know.  I’m writing this post for others who might be similarly fooled.  Soup chickens are for soup.  Got it?

The weather is supposed to suck again today.  I wish our house had a fireplace or a masonry heater.  Last time we lived here, we lived in a house that had an awesome masonry heater that was perfect for days like today.  The house we’re in now is relatively inexpensive, but has no romantic heating methods.  I guess we’ll have to depend on oil and each other… and our two spoiled dogs who both begged for that chicken last night.

Part of the awesome masonry heater in our first German house.  This house also had heated floors and a cistern that used rain water to flush the toilet.  You could sit on the bench and toast your buns…    


I don’t know if we’ll get out today or not.  When the weather gets bad, I tend to want to stay in and hibernate.  But if we have another gourmet meal cooked at our house today, it’ll for sure be something other than chicken.