customs

Raising a glass to Arran…

Breckenheim had a wine stand last night. We decided to attend, so we could salute Arran in style. Noyzi came with us, because we’re hoping to get him more used to people. We’d like to be able to take him more places. Besides, he genuinely loves people, but he’s scared of those he doesn’t know. Taking him out in the village is a good way to help him get more socialized.

We enjoyed a few glasses of local wine and talked to some of our neighbors. We told them about Arran, and how we lost him yesterday morning. I wondered if they thought we were weird for going out… We ran into our landlady– or, the wife of our landlord. I think she’s the one who legally owns our house, since her brother built it. She asked where Arran was, and we told her what happened.

It struck me as kind of strange. When we lost Zane, our landlords didn’t know until over a year later. That’s how much privacy they give us, even though we’re next door neighbors. Our former landlady probably would have known within days, even though she didn’t live next door.

Anyway, we said we’d seen her artwork at the neighborhood art show in the fall. She laughed, and said that wasn’t her artwork. It seems there’s another woman in our village with the same name. She’s much older. The landlady said she’s always having to tell people she isn’t the same person! Either way, the artwork was beautiful. Our landlady has a nice sense of style, too. She was wearing a pretty scarf. Maybe that reveals a certain artistic bent.

We also met an English speaking guy who hailed from the Nagold area and moved to Breckenheim. He said he used to work as a waiter at a nightclub in Stuttgart. One night, the deejay was very late coming in, and he was flanked by two police officers when he finally did show up. I guess the show didn’t go on that night.

It was a pretty average wine stand, but I did get a nice video of the neighborhood horses passing, as well as a few photos…

I love this about our village… horses, wine, and dogs. Who could ask for more?

It was nice to get our and enjoy the onset of spring… and now we can make some travel plans. We’re long overdue for a trip. After three years of road trips, I might even be convinced to fly on a plane and go somewhere further afield.

Cheers to Arran, who is no longer suffering, and no longer has cancer or needs chemo… and doesn’t have to worry about trying to jump up on our too tall bed. I like to think of his soul finally free of his sick, but very strong body. The featured photo is the second to the last one we have of Arran. I took the last one in the vet’s office, just before we said goodbye. I don’t normally do that… but for some reason, I just felt like doing it. I’ll keep it private, because I don’t want people to remember him in that way. He was a majestic dog with a larger than life presence. We were blessed to know him.

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customs

The first wine stand of 2023!

Earlier this week, Bill noticed the wine stand sign was up, advertising the return of our village’s reliable club fundraisers. I was excited to hear that the spring ritual was commencing because that means better weather is on its way. Breckenheim has impressed us a lot since we moved here at the end of November 2018. People are friendly, and there are a lot of community events.

Last fall, we finally got a weekly market, which has proven to be very popular. It went off so well that it continued even through the winter. Every Thursday, local fresh food vendors sell their products in our Dorfplatz. The wine kiosk is open, and someone usually cooks brats on the grill. However, the market only goes from 1pm until 6pm, so that makes it hard to go shop unless Bill gets home early.

The wine stands are different, as they are only about wine and socializing. Sometimes, there’s live entertainment, too. Last night’s wine stand was hosted by the local tennis club. Seems to me the last time they hosted, they also had a singing group. I remember it well, because it was during the summer and, because they were putting in the new public restroom, the stand was held in the parking area of the Rathaus/elementary school. That’s even closer to where we live than the Dorfplatz is. I also remember that particular wine stand because I got COVID-19 right after we attended.

I shared a couple of photos with the wine group I run on Facebook. A lady who lives down in Stuttgart asked about the wine stand, and I had to break it to her that I’ve never seen wine stands in Stuttgart or its environs. That area is more about beer, although they do have wineries in the Stuttgart area and their own wine culture. But Wiesbaden and the surrounding area is in the heart of the Rheingau, which is Germany’s wine country.

Stuttgart does have some other fun traditions, though, like pop up “Besen” (Swabian word for “broom”) restaurants. If that’s a Germany wide tradition, I have yet to run across it in the Wiesbaden area. But then, I don’t hang out in the local Facebook groups up here.

Anyway, last night’s wine stand was fun, albeit a bit chilly, and mostly uneventful… I did get some photos, and when we came home 90 minutes later, Arran gave us an enthusiastic welcome. Our old guy still has a big tumor on his side– I had thought it was a lymph node, but the vet says she thinks it’s a tumor. He seems a little more tired lately, too. But he’s still with us, and wanting to do all he can for as long as he has left.

I will spend the next week home alone, as Bill has another business trip this week and part of next week. Good vibes, please, that Arran hangs in there until the business trips stop for March. He had a treatment this week and will get one next week.

He’s sticking around for as long as he can.

Today, we have plans to go to a wine “messe” in Hofheim. If we actually make it, I’ll be writing a new post tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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Uncategorized

A big DUMP of snow…

Bill and I had made some tentative plans to get out of the house today. Mother nature had other plans. It started to snow last night at about 5:30pm or so… I had noticed a little snow in the afternoon. I hadn’t seen it actually falling, but I saw the evidence on the ground. Still, I was unprepared for the dumping of white stuff we got last night. I think we got about four inches or so, which is significant.

When we still lived in Jettingen (near Stuttgart), we typically got at least one good snowfall every winter. Usually, it snowed even more often than that, with the ice and snow hanging around for weeks sometimes. Up here in Breckenheim, it rarely snows. When it does snow, it’s not much, and the stuff melts quickly. Not so this time…

According to The Weather Channel, it’s possible we’ll get a little more snow this evening, although it’s kind of sunny and cold today. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to snow more. They’re calling for “snow showers”, because it’s not that cold outside. I think that’s what we were supposed to get last night, but as you can see, Mother Nature had other ideas. Don’t want to go out in that!

Arran has never been a fan of snow, so he’s just been going out to do the bare minimum. He got a walk today, too. Noyzi, on the other hand, seems to enjoy snow as much as his predecessor, Zane, did.

Noyzi enjoys the newly fallen snow. It’s early afternoon, and most of it hasn’t melted yet.

I enjoy snow. I think it’s pretty. I don’t necessarily want to go out in it, though, so that means I’ve been finishing up my latest book this afternoon instead of venturing out, like we’d hoped. SIGH… I don’t really enjoy this time of year in Germany. But, at least with each passing day, we get closer to spring. And our next trip, which could be as soon as next month, gets closer as each chilly, damp, and cloudy day passes. We’ll see what happens. It depends on Arran, and whether or not he can be boarded safely.

It’s always fun to have snow for a day or two, if only because it’s unusual… and it gives me a reason to wear the new coat I spent a boatload of money on last month.

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holidays

Farewell to 2022… hello to 2023!

Bill took the featured photo today, after walking the dogs. Apparently, there were a bunch of people in the Dorfplatz, making merry as the year changed…

Well, well, well… another Silvester is now in the books. Thanks to the loosening of COVID restrictions, the locals were allowed to set off fireworks again last night. It started here as the sun set We could hear them popping in the distance. Poor Noyzi was pretty scared, although Arran, as usual, wasn’t bothered at all.

At about 7:00 PM, we tried to convince Noyzi to pee outside. I knew it was going to get really crazy later, so I wanted him to go. But people were setting off fireworks even at that hour, which really spooked him. Bill tried to talk him into going, but he refused. He finally relented when I put him on a leash and took him to a corner of the yard where he usually goes. I stood outside with him, and listened to the popping. Finally, after about twenty minutes, he relaxed and did his business. Good thing he did it, too, because he really needed to go.

After that, we sat at the Eckbank Gruppe and listened to music. Noyzi curled up under the table a couple of times, but spent of the evening in his “room”, where his bed is. That’s where he spends most of his time. Arran, as usual, stayed with us. He’s our Velcro dog, and seems to get energy from snuggling… especially with Bill.

When it was midnight, there were fireworks going off everywhere. Our new neighbors were in the street with their kids, setting off all manner of explosives. I videoed some of their antics, although at some point, the video went into slow motion. That was definitely unintentional. I was surprised it wasn’t more crazy than it was. I’ve seen rowdier New Year’s Eves, although they were further to the south, where people are a little more provincial. ­čśë

We had pretty warm weather last night, too, which is unusual for Germany. I was able to comfortably be outside barefoot and without a sweater. That should probably concern me, but it made for easy viewing of the fireworks. I think people in Hessen are a little more sensible about fireworks than people near Stuttgart are. I may be wrong, though… It probably depends on the neighborhood.

My attempts to take still photos of the fireworks weren’t very successful or interesting, or else I would share them here. But below is a video…

This was the scene in our neighborhood last night!

Well, that about sums up our New Year’s Eve. I’m always kind of glad when the holidays are over, even though I dread taking down the decorations. I find the holidays kind of exhausting, even though it’s just Bill and me and the dogs celebrating. I also think I get kind of tired of how dark it stays here at this time of year. In any case, I’m just glad there’s no drama over here… just lots of food, drinks, music, and loud popping.

Bill is now preparing our New Year’s Day feast. I think he gets tomorrow off, so we’ll probably take care of some more chores. I think he’s going to put together my new office chair, which comes equipped with heat and massage functions. He sure is good to me.

I hope you had a very nice New Year’s Eve, and I wish you the best during this new year… health, wealth, safety, and happiness.

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anecdotes, Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Hessen, housekeeping tips

A pretty dull week…

It’s been seven days since my last post on this blog. I haven’t written because I haven’t had too much to write about this week. We had extremely cold weather last week. It lasted until Monday, when the snow we got last week turned into black ice. Sure enough, I slipped and fell on my ass, bruising my left buttcheek. Since I also did something to my right hip, that was an even less welcome development than it might have otherwise been. My butt recovered after a day, but my right hip is still painful. I might even have to break down and see a doctor about it.

Arran had his latest chemo treatment last night. He’s now in the second phase of his treatment. Bill took him in, and said the vet was impressed by Arran’s resilience. He is still doing very well. I think she thought maybe he wouldn’t take to chemo, because of his age, and because he was getting sick when we got his first treatment. His red blood cells have improved, while his white blood cells are still elevated. But they would be elevated anyway, due to the treatments. Because he’s in the second phase of chemo, he doesn’t take as much medication. He goes to the vet every other week for IV push meds, and takes less of the Endoxan (chemo pill). However, he’s still on Prednisolone, which makes him more of a stinker than usual.

We have plans to go Villa Im Tal on the afternoon of the 26th. It’s one of our favorite fine dining restaurants. I look forward to it, although I worry that Arran will try to break into the basement while we’re gone. He’s regressed in his behavior since he started chemo. I ordered a new gate– one that’s sturdier and taller– to try to prevent him from invading the basement. Other than that, he’s mostly himself… taking walks, eating like a champ, sleeping, cuddling, and being cute. We’re really cherishing this time with him.

We had a new dishwasher installed yesterday. The old one was twelve years old and broke. I’m glad we got both things done before Christmas, which is pretty much going to shut everything down for a few days. Our landlord is slowly but surely upgrading our house. He says he wants to install new windows and a heat pump, too. As he was leaving yesterday, he asked Bill if we needed more wood for the fireplace or salt for the dishwasher. We’re fine, but it’s nice to have a landlord who cares about our well-being and happiness. I’m sure he likes having the house occupied, and after four years with us, he knows we won’t disturb him unless it’s really necessary.

Getting new windows will be like deja vu, since new windows were installed in our last house as we were moving in. It was kind of a painful process, but the windows were really nice. Maybe we’ll get electric shutters, too. ­čśë Ex landlady put in electric shutters on the windows in the living room. They were very nice, but sometimes they didn’t work properly. She also lectured us about not losing the remote control, which of course we didn’t. That was probably one of the only things we did right in that house. :eyeroll:

Other than that, it’s been a pretty boring week. Although January and February can be pretty bleak in Germany, I kind of look forward to being done with the Christmas season. It’s so dark over here during this time of year. And because I don’t really want to leave Arran alone unless it’s necessary, I’ve been a bit “fun deprived” lately. With more light and warmth, we might be able to take him with us more often.

The only other thing that happened this week was our neighbor had a bunch of us over for Gluhwein. It was frigid outside, so when we came back into the house, I ordered a new parka. It probably won’t get used much, but it might be the last parka I will ever buy. Oh… and my neighbor thought I was an 80s baby, which was a nice compliment. I am very much a card carrying member of Generation X, though… born in the 70s.

Breckenheim sure is a friendly little village. It’s a lot of fun to bond with the neighbors. Funny enough, several of the ones who live near us are from Baden-W├╝rttemberg! They seem to like Hessen more. It’s probably because there’s wine… and people are a little warmer. I do miss the beautiful sights down in BW, though. It will always have a piece of my heart. 

The featured photo is of Arran near our wine barrel table. He was obsessed with the framed photo of my husband’s daughter’s family, because it smelled like the treats she sent in a box to us!

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holidays, markets

Santa visited our little Adventmarkt while riding a motorcycle!

Every year at Advent, when the pandemic isn’t forcing everything to be closed, our little town of Breckenheim has a little Christmas Market. They only have the market for one night, and it mostly consists of local clubs selling Gluhwein, hot apple wine, beer, and funnel cakes. There are usually also a couple of little stalls selling crafts.

Four years ago, when we moved to Breckenheim, we happened to be here on the night they did the market. However, because we were up to our armpits in boxes, we missed it that year. In 2019, we made it to the market, which I remember to be a really fun time. Back then, we only had Arran, as we lost our sweet Zane to lymphoma on August 31 of that year.

In 2020 and 2021, the market was canceled because of COVID. I remember last year, we did make it to the Wiesbaden Christmas Market, but in 2021, a lot of the smaller markets were still called off because of the pandemic. This year, they seem to have come roaring back! Some people live for the Christmas Markets. I could take them or leave them, to be honest. I think they’re lovely to look at, and I enjoy the food and some of the shopping, but I don’t necessarily feel like I have to go to a bunch of them.

It was fun to go to the Advent Market last night, though. We brought Arran and Noyzi with us, because Arran seems to have been regressing a bit since he’s been getting chemo. Twice, we’ve gone out and found that he’s torn up something. I suspect it’s because the steroids make him obsess over food. He made a huge mess last week when we went to see James Taylor, and he made a more minor mess on Thanksgiving. So this time, we decided we’d just take the boys with us and give Noyzi some much needed exposure to crowds.

It was pretty chilly last night, but thanks to a new alpaca sweater from Novica and an Irish flat cap, I stayed pretty warm. Bill and I took in the sights and sounds, as we sipped mulled wine and watched lots of eager children play as they waited for Santa Claus to arrive at 5:00pm, sharp. After the Santa visit, there was a church service held at the big beautiful church by the Dorfplatz. We didn’t go to the church service because it would be in German and we had the dogs with us. But we did watch Santa come in, announced by sirens and a guy from the local biker club escorting him with his chopper.

We also ran into one of the other American families who live in our town, and we had a nice chat with them until it was time for Santa. Noyzi was pretty well behaved, although he was a bit spooked by all the kids and the noise. Arran ended up being filmed because he was barking at the huge Maine Coon cat who has adopted our village and shows up for all of the events. I don’t know who she belongs to, but she’s very friendly and doesn’t care at all about Arran’s crotchety beagle barks. I think this will probably be Arran’s last Advent Market, not that he attended a lot of them before he got cancer…

Noyzi, on the other hand, needs some training so that he can go out in public more often. He loves people and is very friendly, but he still gets pretty scared of things he’s not used to. After about an hour, though, he did calm down and seemed rather pleased with himself. Arran was over the market within a few minutes and was very happy to go home, where he could worship Bill in private.

Below are some photos and videos from our outing. We tried to stay out of trouble by hanging out on the periphery.

A very short video of Santa’s entrance and exit on a motorcycle. We didn’t get closer because of the dogs.

Edited to add: someone got a great shot of Santa…

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art

Artists of Breckenheim!

Bill and I just got back from the BRECKOMENTA event at the local clubhouse, a place we had never been before. I let Bill lead the way, and unfortunately, he got the wrong address, which meant we had to walk further. I wore new shoes, so this wasn’t a pleasant turn of events. Nevertheless, we did eventually get there, having taken a longer than necessary route. The club house is on the back side of the fire station, and the complex itself is near the walking trails we never visit.

I got some photos, and we were exposed to some of excellent works of local artists. The art was very interesting and, in at least one case, quite sexual.

After we looked at the art, we visited the snack bar… because what German event doesn’t have one? Our neighbor was running it, and we had a rather lengthy German chat with her about the neighborhood. She did joke that they didn’t have any “house made” beer. Our new neighbor told her that Bill makes his own beer. Actually, they had no beer at all. This is wine country! So we had wine.

Our neighbor told us about other Americans who have lived in our little cul de sac, as we drank local wines and ate pretzels. I noticed some of the works were for sale… I seriously might have been tempted, since I’ve been wanting to buy some more art for the house. Maybe we’ll go back tomorrow, since the event continues tomorrow until 6pm.

The really nice part is that we ended up walking to parts of Breckenheim we hadn’t seen, even having lived here for almost four years. And we finally found the cool little bee bomb vending machines that I posted about a few months ago.

I am impressed by our landlady’s art. I had no idea she was so talented! Edited to add: We learned in March 2023 that the art was done by another woman with the same name who lives in our village. We still liked the art.

The first photos are of self service commerce in our little town. we would have missed the first one, if Bill hadn’t taken us on a detour. The art is all done by local citizens in our village.

There was everything from sculptures to Bonsai trees, with jewelry, photography, paintings, and drawings. A couple of people were even drawing and sketching in the exhibition. On the way home, we noticed the JWs left a gift on the Bee Bomb vending machine. I also got a couple of shots of the church from the other side. The town manager was at the art event, and chuckled when he heard me successfully translate the word “gleich”. I get the sense they know us as the Americans, now, even though we aren’t the only ones.

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Health, markets

Chemo, COVID, and another weekly market…

This week has really flown by. Here it is, Friday morning, and it’s time to write another blog post for my “travel/German living” blog.

Last time I posted, I mentioned that Bill wasn’t feeling well. In that post, I wrote that he was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue from two back to back TDYs, and some kind of respiratory illness that wasn’t COVID. Well, it turned out we were wrong. Bill went to work on Monday, and learned that a couple of his colleagues who had been at the conference in Bavaria had come down with COVID. Since he still wasn’t feeling well himself, Bill decided to test. Sure enough, he had a positive result, so he’s been working from home for the rest of the week.

He’s actually feeling fine now, and never got very sick with the virus. He didn’t have a fever at all, never lost his sense of taste or smell, and aside from some coughing and fatigue, hasn’t been much worse for wear. Yesterday, because he’s over the virus, he took Arran in for his chemo treatment, and we attended the weekly market, although we made sure to stay on the periphery of the crowd. He’s working from home today, too, because his boss told him to, but he’s pretty much recovered from the sickness. I haven’t been sick at all, perhaps because I had COVID myself back in July. While Bill was at the vet’s office, he was masked, as everyone is required to be in any healthcare setting in Germany.

Arran is still doing well with his lymphoma treatment. His blood test didn’t reveal any progress, per se, toward technical remission, but we can see a difference in his energy level. For instance, a few days ago, I was eating a sandwich on my bed, and Arran managed to jump up on the bed by himself. He has pretty much quit doing that lately, but before he got sick, he always slept on our bed. He’s also been jumping up on the bench of our Eckbank Gruppe, which he always did when he was well. I know a lot of people wouldn’t want a dog sitting next to them on a bench or sleeping in bed with them, but for us, it’s a normal thing. I’m just glad Noyzi doesn’t do it, because he’s a lot bigger and hairier.

We had gorgeous weather yesterday for the market, so we went down for about an hour or so. We got some cheese, cold cuts, and beautiful produce. Maybe I’ll make a homemade tomato sauce today and we’ll make lasagne or manicotti. Of course, we also enjoyed some local wines, and waved to our neighbors. I really love the weekly market. I know the markets are common in larger towns, but our little neighborhood is unusually close knit, so the market is intimate and convivial.

Our town manager is always there to oversee everything, too. I think he does a great job. He’s very active on social media, and approachable. This is something we didn’t experience when we lived near Stuttgart. I didn’t know who the town managers were in our previous neighborhoods, nor did we have weekly events like we do in Breckenheim. But then, I don’t know if what we have in Breckenheim is the norm for the Wiesbaden area, either. I’ve noticed there’s been an uptick in events here just over the last year or so, but then, we did have to deal with COVID restrictions. Anyway, Bill and I both really like that they do these events here, and we have enjoyed meeting some of the locals with whom we share space.

Below are some photos from this week. First, are a few shots of our Arran, who is obviously feeling much better. Bill asked about the bill for his treatment so far, and the vet said there’s no pressure to settle up at this point. As Americans, we are allowed to use a “VAT” form, which exempts us from having to pay local taxes for the treatment. Whether or not to accept VAT forms is voluntary on the part of local merchants, since it involves paperwork for them. But it sure is nice for us when they do that, especially for expensive things like non-routine veterinary care, or big purchases like furniture.

This week, I read an article in the Washington Post about a woman who got expensive cancer treatment for her dog. She got a lot of rude comments from people, which I ranted about. Last night, she left me a very nice comment on my post, which you can read here. In any case, so far Arran is doing well, and we’ve been enjoying some priceless time with him. I also don’t expect that his care will cost as much as it would in the United States. As soon as we have a bill, I will confirm or deny that expectation for the curious.

And here are some shots from the market… Someone had some heavenly smelling bread. It smelled like garlic bread. I never did find the source, but they were also selling waffles with powdered sugar that reminded me of the early 90s, when I worked at Busch Gardens making waffle cones. I worked in “Germany”, and wore a dirndl. Little did I know what the future would hold.

Bill found some lovely Italian cheeses and cold cuts, as well as gorgeous, colorful produce… but I was there for the wine.

For some reason, the editor isn’t letting me put comments on the photos… Luckily, most of them are self explanatory. I did notice the Gastatte sign for the first time yesterday. Breckenheim has little signs on its historic buildings, as well as “stumbling stones” (Stolpersteine), placed in honor of local Jewish people who were victims of the Holocaust. The stones are now making appearances all over Europe. You can search my blog for more information on those.

Since Bill is feeling better, maybe we can get out of the house this weekend. We do have plans to carve pumpkins for Halloween this year, since we have new German neighbors with small children who requested it. I’ll post about that when the time comes. ­čśë

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Uncategorized

Our busy Saturday… good food, Irish whiskey, and clear vision!

Yesterday was an unusually busy Saturday for us. First, we needed to visit Apollo Optik in downtown Wiesbaden to pick up my sample contact lenses and Bill’s new bifocal lenses. The weekly market was going on, and there was a huge circus tent erected for a youth circus that is currently appearing. I would have liked to have strolled around a bit, but we had evening plans to go to a whiskey tasting about 100 meters from our house in Breckenheim. So we focused on getting our eyes straightened out… I still couldn’t resist walked through the market and smelling the street food.

After a somewhat chaotic time at the eyewear shop, we went to Little Italy, one of our favorite local restaurants, for lunch and a potty break. Little Italy is a tiny place, with a lot of tables close together. However, they have really good food– specials that change, and pizza and pasta dishes, as well as a full bar and the best Zabaione in town. I had a wonderful salmon filet with orange sauce, rosemary potatoes, and a vegetable medley of ratatouille. Bill had shrimp with risotto and a similarly composed vegetable medley. As usual, the food was delicious!