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Less than 48 hours with Bill…

Bill got home from his latest TDY at about 7:00pm on Friday night. Unfortunately, he has to leave again this afternoon for another three nights in Bayern/Bavaria. At least it’s just part of the week. I hate it when he travels without me. 😉 March seems to be the worst month for business trips.

I was kind of hoping we could go out for lunch yesterday, but Bill had some errands to run, and the weather was kind of crappy. We had sun, but it was cold and windy. Today, we have a wintry mix. March in Germany is typically like this, with totally random weather. One day, it’ll be sunny and kind of warm. Another day, it’ll rain or snow, or there will be terrible wind. Friday we had wind so scary that Noyzi didn’t want to go outside. Then there are the days when we get sun, rain, snow, wind, and hail in the same few hours.

Anyway, the upshot is, as usual, my travel blog isn’t very interesting. I promise more engaging posts are coming soon. We have to go to Stuttgart at the end of the month, and that means if Arran is still with us, he will probably be boarded. Or maybe we’ll take him and board Noyzi. I hate to put Arran in boarding now, even though I know he’ll be well taken care of. He much prefers to be with us.

Speaking of Arran, he just had another chemo treatment the other day. He’s still pretty sparky and vibrant, although the tumor on his side is about the size of a large plum or a small peach. It doesn’t seem to hinder him much, although I have caught his scratching it a few times. He still eats, sleeps, wants to take walks, and even runs around sometimes. Again… he’s done amazingly well on the chemo, and totally surpassed all of our expectations. And the chemo has been affordable, and not that difficult for him to endure.

Of course, not all dogs react the way Arran has. We never had the chance to try chemo with our late dog, Zane, but I don’t think he would have done as well. The lymphoma he had appeared to be much more aggressive, and he wasn’t as strong as Arran is. Throughout his life, he had more health problems. Arran has always been very healthy and strong, having no problems with allergies or sensitive stomach issues.

In any case, you can see by the below video that Arran is still quite full of beans…

The boys were so happy to see Bill! So was I!

Meanwhile, Bill and I have been talking about places we might visit at some point soon. Most of the places we’re thinking about would probably require a plane ride. I haven’t flown since November 2019. I discovered some interesting places in the Baltics, for instance. Yes, we could drive, but it would take a long time. On the other hand, we drove to Germany from Sweden in the summer of 2019, so it’s doable. Just got to use a ferry for some places…

Sweet Noyzi from Kosovo… he’s come such a long way, and he’s absolutely adorable…

Noyzi just came in here and put his head on my thigh, asking for a pat on the head. He just had a much needed bath, and it wasn’t easy to get him in the tub. But once I got him in, he stood there and let me wash the stink off of him. He sure has become an adorable, lovable family member. Arran is being nicer to him, too. I think it’s because he knows that pretty soon, it’ll just be him here with us until another dog comes our way.

I don’t look forward to saying goodbye to Arran, but I am ready to travel again. This week, the most interesting things that happened were that I drove to the store and bought more beer… and they had a noticeable shortage of Hefeweizen. And then, I went to the vet with Arran for his chemo, and didn’t have to wear a face mask. That was notable. In fact, I wondered if I’d ever see the day.

Arran has another treatment on Wednesday… When I brought him home the other day, he actually ran around the house like a nut after I took him off the leash. Don’t ever let people tell you that chemo for dogs is like it is for humans. It’s definitely not.

The only other notable things that happened involve the sound system in our house. I finally managed to tame the four Echo Dots I bought, so they are programmed to play in groups. And I got a new HomePod, which I put behind the TV in our bedroom. The sound is a hell of a lot better on the TV now. It will make watching movies better. I might buy another one for the other TV. It’s that much improved.

Well, that about does it for today. Hopefully next weekend, I’ll have something more interesting to write about in my travel blog. Cheerio.

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President’s Day weekend, 2022…

I know I usually update this blog at least once a week. Before COVID hit, I would write even more regularly than that, because Bill and I were always going out to eat or traveling somewhere. The last two years have definitely been *different*. Even before we came back to Europe in 2014, we would go out to eat pretty often. Nowadays, it’s a very rare treat, just because going anywhere is a pain in the ass right now.

But that reality may be a memory soon, as COVID cases are finally declining again. The weather is warming up, and more people are getting vaccinated, getting sick and recovering, or dying. I noticed a recent headline indicating that Germany is on the brink of a recession, thanks to COVID. So, I would imagine that the restrictions will probably be loosened next month, because money is important. Ready or not, the world will probably have to open up soon. I am ready for it. But besides the need for business to resume, cases really are going down here. And the severity isn’t as bad as it has been. Or so the headlines say today.

At this writing, we’re still planning to visit Stuttgart to see the dentist next week, then head to France for the weekend. Maybe we’ll have a chance to visit Bitche, which is a militarily important town in France, and has the distinction of having had its Facebook page taken down without explanation. I have a feeling a bot decided Bitche was a bullying page. When I read about that happening, I wasn’t surprised. I was, however, disgusted by the ignorance. I really feel like Facebook needs human beings running it.

Europe is rife with places that have “profane” names. Or names that are profane in English. English is not the only language there is, though. Sadly, some European towns are changing their names thanks to obnoxious tourists. The Austrian town of Fucking, for instance, is now called Fugging, because people were fucking under the signs or stealing them. I’m glad we had a chance to visit before the name change happened on January 1, 2021.

Anyway, since I titled this post “President’s Day weekend, 2022”, I guess I should write about what we did this year. And the answer to that question is, not a whole hell of a lot. Bill ate stinky cheese from France. We drank wine and talked a lot. I did some writing, and Bill finally replaced the strings on his Telecaster. I started watching my Facts of Life DVDs, which gave me a temporary return to my 1980s era girlhood. Arran and Noyzi got some quality time with Bill, with lots of snuggles. I cleaned the inside of the glass on the oven door, which is a nasty job. Last week, Bill took some online courses at the Carl Jung Institute. Originally, he was going to go in person, and I would have joined him, but we decided not to go because of COVID rules.

I took this photo in February 2021, when Bill first got his guitar. He just now changed the strings. But he still loves that shirt, as you can see in the photos with Arran.

I truly hate not traveling on the long weekends. I have some hope that this will be the last time we will have to forgo our usual long weekends. There’s still so much we want to see in Europe. But we’ll see. COVID is always mutating, so this could be an issue for awhile yet. But at least I might finally get to get my Bitche on next week. I’ve been curious about that town for awhile. And Bill will enjoy the military aspect, since that’s his life. I hasten to add that we haven’t been staying home because we have to, due to the local rules. It’s more because the rules make traveling a pain in the butt, and not much fun. That will hopefully change very soon.

These photos sum up our holiday weekend. Not bad, I guess… there are worse ways to spend a weekend. But I hope we can do better next year. With any luck, the times soon may be a’changing. At least Bill managed to finish reading Maus.

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Venturing out to dinner on our boring weekend…

Bill finally finished his schoolwork yesterday afternoon at about 4:00.  Neither of us was in any mood to cook, so we decided to walk to our neighborhood Greek restaurant, Dimi’s.  When we entered the place, it was obvious we sort of crashed the end of a birthday party.  There were cake plates set up on a table and all of the tables in the dining room had been set up end to end to form a long table.  Several people were still there, though the party was pretty much over.

The very sweet proprietor, Kiki, welcome Bill and me with a big hug.  Then she and her brother set up a table for us.  It was a little awkward, because it really did feel like we’d crashed a party.  Still, it was pretty obvious Kiki was glad to see us.  She’s become a friend, even though I speak neither Greek nor German.  She does speak some English, though she told me last night my accent is hard to understand.  That’s odd.  I have heard from others that I have a pretty generic American accent.  When I was in Armenia, all the language teachers said I was easy to understand, while the folks from Maine and the Midwest were harder.  Oh well.

We decided to try something different last night.  Bill had swordfish and I had shrimp.

This was a nice change.  It came with a green salad, complete with a pepper and a black olive.  The shrimps were very tasty and not as bad for me as my usual gyros…

Bill enjoyed his swordfish, too.  It wasn’t dry or too dense.  Next time, I might have to get this dish myself.

 

While we were eating, Kiki turned up “Zorba the Greek”.  The Germans turned up their sports scores.  Someone threw a paper airplane.  Finally, the Germans who had the birthday party cleared out, except for the one guy who was paying.  Kiki had a long discussion with him over the bill and Bill said it was pretty clear the guy was Swabish.  He was counting very precisely.  ðŸ˜‰  I don’t know from personal experience, but I have heard it said many places that people from this part of Germany are tight with their money… not unlike the stereotypical Scot.  Being of Scottish ancestry myself, I think I might have skipped the tightwad gene.

After dinner, we enjoyed some retsina.  This was different than the kind we had at Agais (aka The Mad Scientist’s).  His came from a big bottle and was very piney.  Kiki brought us an individual bottle and it was milder.  I liked it.

We finished with a round of Metaxa, which was nice and kind of vanilla-ey, but made me miss Ararat brandy.

The paper airplane…  Very aerodynamic.

 

This concludes my boring weekend at home.  I am hoping next weekend will be more interesting.  With any luck, Bill will pass this class he just took and get started on the last one…  and then we can start having fun on the weekends again.

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Staying in…

My husband Bill is enrolled in an online master’s degree program with Regis University and is nearing the end of his studies.  He’s at the end of one course and has one more to go before he’s finally finished after three years of work.  Last weekend, he was heavily engaged in a major project that counts for 60% of his final grade.  He stressed over it all weekend and we didn’t get a chance to go anywhere exciting.  Imagine his disappointment on Monday when he got a failing grade on the project.

He was very confused about the grade until he realized that there were six pages of instructions and he had only read the first two.  Fortunately, the professor is allowing him to resubmit the project, though the most he can get on it is 75 points.  He can still get a B in the class, his only one since he started.  The rest of his grades have been As.  In the midst of the redo, he also has a final exam to take.  And he’s already getting emails about his final class, the “capstone”, which is a major hurdle to clear before he finishes master’s degree number two.

Of course, what this means for me is that I’m staying in this weekend.  I lack local girlfriends I can hang out with and there’s no place I want to go on my own.  Even if I had girlfriends nearby, the weather is misty, cold, and depressing.  I don’t necessarily feel like getting dressed and going out anyway.

The stress of my husband’s schooling affects me in an oblique way, though I am the one who encouraged him to keep going, after he finished his three certification courses at the National Defense University, and get the master’s degree in cybersecurity.  I figured he might as well invest the extra year of study since the Post 9/11 Bill is paying for it.  I sure as hell don’t want to go back to school, and since his adult daughters haven’t spoken to him since 2004, we see no reason why he should transfer those valuable education benefits to them.  For all we know, their mother has gotten them adopted by her third husband, anyway.  I figure after holding a commission for 30 years, Bill should get another degree.

As I mentioned, this will be my husband’s second master’s degree.  He earned his first one in 2003, a few months after we got married.  It was a Master of Arts in Information Management from Webster University.  That program was sort of an executive program with classes that met in person in various places around Washington, DC.  I remember we lived in Fredericksburg, VA at the time and he’d get up at 4:00am to take the train to work at the Pentagon.  Then one or two nights a week, he’d come home after 7:00pm after being in class.   He was chronically exhausted and didn’t have much time for fun.  In fact, he also didn’t have much money, since he had child support to pay, a disastrous first marriage to recover from, and that degree wasn’t entirely free of charge for him.  He still managed to graduate with honors.

By contrast, when I was in grad school, I lived on the campus at the University of South Carolina and went to school full time for three solid years, summers included.  I had neither family obligations nor a full time job.  I had an assistantship and a part time job, as well as an internship.  I was busy, but school was my main focus.  I did fine, but I didn’t graduate with honors in either of my degree programs, nor am I getting to use them in the way I’d hoped.  Bill, on the other hand, will not be “overeducated” like I am.  I feel pretty sure his new degree and the accompanying skills will come in handy.

I am very proud of Bill, although these dull weekends at home are pretty boring.  I’m just glad there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Bill says when he’s done with his degree, he’s getting some Champagne.  Maybe then, it’ll be time for another boozy related trip somewhere.  I’m thinking Ireland or Belgium… and hopefully before March, when we plan to visit Scotland for the second time.  That trip will be whisky heavy.

For today, I have plans to bake a chicken pot pie… and perhaps I will have an impromptu beer tasting all by my lonesome.  It’s tough to be a graduate school widow.  ðŸ˜‰  If you learned anything from this post, I hope it was to make sure you read all the directions before submission…

ETA:  Pot pie

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