German culture, Germany, holidays

Christmas 2021 is officially history…

We had a cold, but sunny morning yesterday, so I took the dogs for a walk and took a slightly different route home. While I was out and about, I noticed that my neighbors who had real trees had put them out to be collected.

The rest of the message offered local information and the advice to make sure all of the ornaments were off of the trees.

I read in our local Facebook group that this is usually an annual fundraising event done by the youth fire brigade. Unfortunately, due to the escalating cases of COVID-19, that event was canceled. It wouldn’t have affected us, since we have fake trees. It definitely looks like Christmas is officially done in our little town.

It amazes me how quickly time passes. This was our eighth Christmas here since we moved back to Europe, and our tenth overall. It was a little less weird than last year. At least we got to go to a Christmas market in 2021. Still, this COVID-19 lifestyle is a bummer. Even though I got a booster last week, and am “legal” to do as much as anyone can right now, the prospect of going out and doing things is unappealing. So I spend my days at home, hoping for better, less restrictive days soon.

Below are a few photos from yesterday’s walk around the neighborhood. It was nice to see the sun, at least. It’s pretty cloudy today, and I’m feeling kind of blue. But maybe we’ll get out for some fresh air. Bill just had some bloodwork done and was told he is deficient in Vitamin D. I’m not surprised. Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin”, and there is precious little of that in Germany this time of year.

I look forward to better weather… and lower incidences of COVID-19. Someday, I want to travel again, and enjoy our long weekends.

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coronavirus, German culture, Germany, holidays, staying home, Wiesbaden

Happy 2022!!!

We had a rather quiet New Year’s Eve, with fondue, Riesling, and the news of Betty White’s passing just 18 days before she would have turned 100. Last night was almost like most nights, save for the five minutes of fireworks. I may be exaggerating a tiny bit, but only a TINY bit…

Officially, fireworks were banned for New Year’s Eve, because officials wanted to cut down on people injuring themselves and flooding the hospitals. As you probably know, COVID-19 is still a big problem and the hospitals are overwhelmed. I’m surprised in light of that, officials haven’t banned driving on the Autobahn, which I would imagine is potentially just as dangerous as lighting a bottle rocket. In any case, I knew there would be a few fireworks, because someone always has them. And there were a few fireworks, but it was really not a normal Silvester by German standards.

Last night was our tenth German New Year’s Eve. It will go down in history as the quietest one yet. The loudest and wildest one we ever experienced was in 2007. I could have sworn there was a war going on outside of our house in Pfäffingen. The night sky was literally alight with fireworks, and I could see our neighbors furiously setting off things that went crash and boom. Our late beagle, MacGregor, was absolutely terrified, poor thing!

Noyzi seemed a little perturbed by the noise and both dogs were curious, but they weren’t really scared. Our neighbors were in the street wishing Happy New Year to everyone… It was overall a pleasant evening. Below are some photos from our first try with the new fondue/raclette grill. It was a success! We really had fun making fondue. It was easy, festive, and even a little romantic! I should have bought this machine a long time ago.

Right at the stroke of midnight…
This is a pretty good representation of our fireworks display… It went on for a few minutes.

One other thing I would like to mention… My German friend tells me that the cookies our landlord brought us– yesterday’s featured photo and reposted below, actually have some local significance. The little macaroon behind the 2021 is a Bethmännchen pastry, which is a Frankfurt tradition at Christmas that has been around since 1838. The cookies are made with made from marzipan with almond, powdered sugar, rosewater, flour and egg. The recipe has not changed in the entire time this cookie has existed!

What a thoughtful gift!

2022 is already off to a good start. Bill made delicious cheese soufflés for breakfast!

I actually taught him to make these because we had them on our honeymoon in Virginia at a B&B. They aren’t hard to make and they make for an elegant breakfast dish on special occasions. We also have two leftover, and they will keep.

Well, that about does it for New Year’s… I am going to go write a more serious post on the main blog, and then I’ll probably watch a bunch of movies or something. I think Bill is going to cook a nice dinner, which I’ll probably document in photos if it’s pretty enough… and it probably will be!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve and an even better New Year’s Day. Maybe this year, we’ll get to do more traveling!

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Christmas, Germany

Drizzle and chilly weather means chilling out at home…

We didn’t go anywhere over the weekend because it was cold and rainy. Instead, we watched concert DVDs, drank some beer and wine, and did some talking. A few days ago, I spent a few hours cleaning the oven door, making good use of the at home time we’re enjoying during the Christmas COVID-19 season. I had given some thought to going to Mainz to enjoy the Christmas market, but the wet, cold weather made the trip seem less appealing. It amazes me to see so many friends and family members back home, wearing shorts and tank tops in December. I remember when, even in Virginia, December meant it would be cold outside. Global warming is no joke, is it?

We did see some snow flurries last week. That was one thing I enjoyed about living near Stuttgart. We got more snow because we were at a higher altitude. I don’t love going out in snow, but as long as it’s going to be cloudy and wet, I prefer to see some white stuff. Besides, snow is pretty, especially when it’s fresh and hasn’t been peed on or stirred up by the dogs.

I did take a short walk today. Noyzi and Arran insisted on taking a stroll. Noyzi even barked at me, making it impossible to work on a recording project I was doing for a YouTube collaboration. We took an even shorter walk than usual, because there was a lady out there with a little dachshund and she was going the way we usually go. I didn’t want to deal with the dogs freaking out and barking the whole time. We went on an alternative route, and I took a few photos. I am combining today’s photos with some I took last week.

I don’t have much else to report. The weather continues to be wet and depressing. But Christmas is coming… Hopefully, there will be some holiday joy.

Hey… at least I have a new theme for my blog, right?

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Austria, Croatia, road trips, Slovenia

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

Before I get started with part four of this series, I want to record something funny that happened this morning when I walked the dogs. Unfortunately, both of my boys seem to have picked up kennel cough during their recent stay at their Hundepension. Kennel cough is annoying and very contagious, but it’s kind of like catching a cold. In most cases, it goes away on its own.

Nevertheless, I didn’t want to risk giving it to another dog, and all of the articles I’ve read suggest letting the dog rest. For that reason, we took a shorter route today, which brought us through the Dorfplatz in Breckenheim. I saw two men in the Dorfplatz talking. One of them had a dog with him. Naturally, the dog noticed mine, so I crossed the street so they wouldn’t meet.

The guy with the dog walked away, and the other man came up to me. He was well dressed, speaking German, and seemed friendly. Then I noticed that he had a mic in his hand with radio call letters and what looked like a station number. It looked like the guy came from a local radio station. I quickly surmised that he was approaching me for a “man on the street segment” for the local news.

The guy continued speaking to me, so I suddenly blurted out, “Sorry, I’m American.”

The guy immediately stopped, switched to English and stammered, “Oh… the Germans wouldn’t… they wouldn’t… ” Then, after a flustered pause, he said with a smile, “Have a nice day.”

I chuckled to myself as I continued walking home. On any other day, I would have missed that guy, because we don’t usually walk through the Dorfplatz. But because of kennel cough, we went a different way… Once again, I fooled the locals. Edited to add…. Looks like the dude was there to ask people what they think about the new village toilet.

Now, back to our travels…

On Thursday, October 28th, we checked out of Hotel Ploberger and made our way to Croatia. I was kind of excited about the trip, since I had only been in Croatia once before, and that had been on an impromptu joyride from Trieste, Italy, back in 2016. I had heard nothing but great things about Croatia and I super excited to see the Plitvice Lakes. I had a nice rental house booked that looked really promising. Off we went, traveling through Austria’s beautiful Alps, then continuing briefly through Slovenia, and on to Croatia. We were slowed down at the border of Slovenia and Croatia. The border guard in Slovenia stamped us out of the country, and then we had to show our passports to the Croatian guard.

Not long after we passed through the Croatian border, we stopped at a truck stop, where we proceeded to have an excellent lunch. It was surprisingly good. If only we’d encountered something similar in Bavaria. 😉

Because of the delay at the border, I sent a quick amendment to our arrival at Peter’s Holiday Home in Korenica, near the Plitvice Lakes. We were an hour later than we expected to be. The drive was easy, as Croatia has great highways, even though there are tons of toll booths on the high speed roads. Below are some photos from our journey to our destination, which I found on Booking.com.

We finally arrived at Peter’s Holiday Home in the late afternoon. A kind elderly couple who lived across the street greeted us, as did another lady who lived in the house next to theirs. The husband spoke some English, while his wife didn’t. She showed us around the house and lit a fire for us. I could see we were well set up for our four night stay. Korenica is located very close to the border with Bosnia. If not for COVID-19, Bill and I might have visited there. But COVID has made everything more annoying and complicated. I have heard Bosnia is an interesting and beautiful country. Hopefully, someday we can visit.

We noticed a lot of apartments and homes for rent near the Plitvice Lakes. There are also lots of restaurants in the area, though a lot of them were closed. We learned that November 1 is truly the beginning of the off season, so our arrival in late October was just on the edge of when a few places were still open. For instance, we could have visited the Barac Caves, but just barely. They closed for the season on November 1, which was the day we left. Ordinarily, I would have liked to visit the caves, but I kind of felt weird about going so late in the season. Also… COVID. I also noticed a lot of outdoor activities, like horseback riding and kayaking available. I’m sure in the summer, that area is hopping. In fact, the caretakers, who said they’ve lived in Korenica since 1968, confirmed that it gets super busy in the summer. That made me glad to be there when we were. On the other hand, if you’re visiting in season, you will have PLENTY to do.

Anyway, Bill went to the nearby grocery stores, called Konzum, of all things, and picked up some food and local wines for us. We were both kind of tired from the day’s long drive, which was long, even from Austria.

Stay tuned for part five.

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anecdotes, Germany, wine

We finally made it to another local wine stand!

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile might remember that a couple of years ago, before the COVID-19 plague began, my currently adopted town of Breckenheim would have wine stands during the warmer months. Naturally, that tradition had to pause last year, as the threat of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people was too great. We didn’t have them for most of this year, either, and the local powers that be even dismantled the permanent kiosk that used to be set up in the Dorfplatz.

In August, the wine stands finally started again, although not with the same regularity that they were held in 2019. We had to miss the first one in August, because we were in the Black Forest visiting the dentist. 😉 They had another one two weeks ago, but I got sick with my cursed stomach bug and we couldn’t attend. Finally, last night, the stars aligned, and Bill and I managed to make it to the wine stand, located just down the hill from where we live.

I was wondering what the stand would be like in the COVID era. I brought my purse with me, just in case masks were required. As it turned out, they weren’t. I also thought to wear warmer shoes and a wrap, because I had a feeling it would get chilly as the sun set. Here are a few photos!

Last night’s wine stand turned out to be especially interesting. At one point, a lady came up to us and asked in German if she could sit down with the two adorable children with her. Bill answered in German. She continued speaking German, but Bill misunderstood her. She wanted to push in the bench so the kids wouldn’t get soup all over them. He thought she was just asking to sit down.

It turned out she was American, and had moved to Germany over forty years ago when her father was in the Air Force and stationed in Wiesbaden. She married a local and is now a very convincing German Oma to the two kids, who looked to be about 4 (boy) and 6 (girl) and were absolutely charming, with blond hair and blue eyes. They had these little bags of what looked like puffed rice cereal that they poured into the pumpkin soup. They reminded me of Trix, only they weren’t colorful. The American lady said they were salty. I had never seen them before, but I was curious. It looked like maybe she got them at a bakery. I’m not sure they were puffed rice, either. She said they were a type of grain.

I never did learn her name, but we traded a few stories. Her family is back in the United States, but I could see that she was totally integrated here– and I would have imagined so, after forty years! The folks at our table knew her and she was chatting easily with them. In fact, the locals were even friendlier than usual to us, too. Oma asked where we were from, and we told her– Arkansas for Bill, and Virginia for me. She didn’t know either state… although she does know Texas, and Bill spent a lot of time in Texas. I got a sense that maybe she kind of missed the US a bit, but that was only due to a fleeting look of wistfulness on her face.

Oma and the grandkids left, and the very friendly lady across the table, who didn’t really speak much English said she wanted us to meet someone. She kept mentioning that he was a gardener. Next thing we knew, a British guy was standing near us, chatting. The guy’s name was Steve, and he came from the northwest of England, which gave me a thrill. It turned out that before he had moved to Breckenheim, he had lived in Nagold, down at the edge of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Nagold is, of course, the town that was closest to us when we used to live in Jettingen! Bill and I used to go there all the time before we moved up to Wiesbaden! It was one of our favorite places in our old stomping grounds.

Steve said he’d lived in Nagold for about fifteen years. We sat there and talked about all of the little restaurants we visited, and Steve told us about how, back from 2008-2010, the city of Nagold did a massive beautification project because they were hosting a garden show there. We lived in Germany from 2007-09, also near Stuttgart, but that time we were in a little town called Pfaffingen, which is closer to Tubingen. We never discovered Nagold during our first German stint, although I do remember hearing it mentioned.

For all of the crap we went through in our last home near Stuttgart, I am still glad we lived there, because it did afford us the opportunity to visit a lot of places we would have missed if we’d lived closer to the military installations. I still miss Nagold a lot. It had a lot of what I love about cute towns, without the huge crowds and obnoxious traffic. If we ever move back to that area, I wouldn’t mind finding a home in Nagold… as long as the landlords are fair and respectful.

Steve was telling us that he really missed living in Nagold. I could relate. Wiesbaden is a nice area, and there are things about it that I enjoy, like wine stands. But I find the area near Stuttgart to be more authentic and interesting. It offers more of a pure German experience– or, actually, more of a Swabian experience, which is something else entirely. Up here, people are friendlier and more laid back, and there’s not as much thriftiness, but housing costs more and it’s a bit more built up. Curiously, despite being more built up, the traffic is much less terrible up here. Steve explained that a lot of the people in Breckenheim are politicians or are involved in finance. I can tell this neighborhood is kind of well-heeled. It has a different feel than either of our previous German towns. Down in BW, the atmosphere is more agrarian, although that doesn’t mean the standard of living isn’t high.

I think a big reason why the Frankfurt area seems less charming and authentic is because a lot of historic buildings were destroyed during World War II. And the ones that were rebuilt don’t have the same old world quaintness that the destroyed buildings had. But, I am glad we moved up here, if only because I can compare and contrast my German experiences, now. And wine stands are one nice tradition that Bill and I really enjoy.

Hopefully, this weekend, we will continue to have some fun, especially since it’s technically a holiday weekend. I think Bill is going to work on Monday, though, so we can take a trip soon.

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family, German culture, Germany

And to think that I saw it in Breckenheim…

As I wrote in my main blog this morning, I seem to be on the mend from the weekend’s sickness. I was feeling noticeably better after I finished yesterday’s post, and by the afternoon, I even had enough energy to take Noyzi and Arran for a walk. They were delighted to go, since I think they thought they’d be missing out yesterday. I usually walk them in the mid mornings, but somehow they knew I was green around the gills and didn’t bug me like they usually do. I’m being serious. My dogs will pester the shit out of me if I don’t walk them when I’m supposed to. Luckily, they seemed to notice a lack of energy from me yesterday and left me alone, although I was definitely feeling better than I was on Saturday and Sunday.

Today’s post title is inspired by a story by Dr. Seuss that I read when I was a little girl. I never have been the biggest fan of Dr. Seuss’s books, but I did used to have a great general children’s storybook anthology that was handed down to me by my three older sisters. The book happened to have Dr. Seuss’s story, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” in it. Wikipedia tells me this story was Dr. Seuss’s very first, and it was written in 1937. You can read the Wikipedia entry I linked for the gist of the story by Dr. Seuss. I would describe it here, but Seuss’s story is about a fantasy, while I’m about to write about real life. In other words, I really DID see this stuff in Breckenheim over the past couple of days, and I’m left with some wonderment.

As I mentioned up post, I usually walk my dogs in the mornings. They insist upon it. But yesterday, I was still feeling kind of yucky, so I had to wait until the afternoon to catch a burst of energy for our stroll. Consequently, I saw different things than what I usually see. Most days, when I walk the dogs, I see and hear kids in the local schoolyard. They take their recess at about the time the boys and I take our walks. I’m sure the kids notice us. Sometimes, I see little girls looking adoringly at the dogs and remember myself as a horse crazy child. I used to get excited whenever I saw a horse. If I’m honest, I still do. But I don’t stop and stare like I did when I was a kid. Many little girls love animals, and German girls are no exception.

Well, because I was walking in the afternoon, school was about over. I did see a mom with her daughter, though. The girl, who wore her striking strawberry blonde hair in a pony tail, looked to be about 9 or 10 years old. Mom was talking to the girl as she got into the backseat of their little red car. I saw the girl glance at my dogs with that expression of adoration as she settled into the seat. Mom gave me a friendly, confident smile as she shut the door and made a move for the driver’s seat. I nodded and passed, then continued on my way.

We got to the place where we usually turn to walk past the neighborhood gardens. Arran needed to take a dump. We happened to be near a trash can, so I cleaned up the poop and dragged him back the other way so I could drop off the bag. He was planting his feet, not wanting to cooperate. I broke a sweat. It was a bit humid and I might have still had a slight temperature. Then I noticed a sign posted on a tree. I wondered if it was another admonition against lazy pet owners not cleaning up their dog’s shit. But it was just someone looking to rent a garden plot. I saw another sign just like it at the other end of the garden plots. I missed the second sign yesterday, but noticed it today.

We turned to head uphill past the farmer’s fields that I’ve noticed are as likely to be growing plastic sex toys as they are wheat and corn. Someone discarded their facemask, not by throwing it on the ground, but by neatly hanging it on a sunflower. The gardens are in their last hurrah of the Indian summer as they prepare to go dormant for the onset of cold weather. The pictures below were taken this morning, but I noticed the mask yesterday… I thought to take a photo yesterday, but decided not to. I guess I was too eager to get home and back to the proximity of a toilet.

Finally, we got to the point of our route at which we turn toward home. It’s near a cemetery. There’s a custom picture framing business there, as well as a couple of apartment houses. Today, I took a photo of the area where I saw the most interesting and exciting thing on yesterday’s walk, just to give those who read this a visual reference…

This morning, there were fewer cars than yesterday afternoon.

So yesterday, the dogs and I were walking down the sidewalk pictured above. There were several more cars parked there yesterday afternoon than there are in the above photo, which I took this morning. In fact, there was a utility truck parked where that open stretch of street is. Workmen were on the other side of the street doing some kind of work on the street. If you picture that, you might realize that the passageway was more narrow and busier.

Noyzi and Arran are not close to being the same size. Noyzi is humongous next to Arran. He has a tendency panic sometimes, when he’s in unfamiliar situations. Arran wants to sniff and eat things. So I was focused on handling them and negotiating the narrow passage down the street. Where the cars are, there’s a grassy, nettle covered hill, which closes things in even more. If I wanted to avoid something on the sidewalk, I’d have to cross the street or walk in the middle of it. It would have been complicated to walk in the street yesterday, thanks to the workmen.

As we passed the utility truck, Arran tried to sniff something the workers had left by the curb. I pulled him away and issued a grumpy reprimand. Then I noticed an orange car with an older woman sitting in the passenger seat. She was about to open her door, which I knew would block my egress. I groaned inwardly, since I’ve run into this scenario a few times. People park on the street and open their doors, oblivious to pedestrians on the sidewalk… even those with two dogs, one of whom is the size of a miniature horse.

Sure enough, the woman got out of the car. I started thinking about how I was going to negotiate this challenge. But then I was met with a surprise. The woman closed her door, straightened the neat blazer she was wearing. I was noticing how nice and put together she looked, as if she was going to see someone important.

Then I heard a flurry of footsteps and saw a flash in the corner of my peripheral vision. Next thing I knew, a young girl of maybe eight or nine had jumped into the woman’s arms, obviously overjoyed to see her. The girl had shoulder length blonde hair and a huge smile on her face. I heard them trade enthusiastic and loving greetings. I was about to pass them on the sidewalk, when the girl suddenly let go of the woman and launched into the older man’s arms. He’d been in the driver’s seat, and I hadn’t seen him until he had exited the car and moved behind it. He had a delighted expression on his face. I had just enough time to notice that the girl was similarly ecstatic and more expressions of love were traded among them.

I was witnessing what appeared to be a reunion of people who obviously love each other very much and had missed being together. I’m assuming it was Oma and Opa visiting, but I don’t know. Obviously, this was a bonded group. I gave them a warm smile as I quickly passed, not wanting to intrude on their private moment of reunion, but yet happy I was able to share it with them in some way.

My mood suddenly brightened considerably, which surprised me. I often get really cranky when I walk the dogs, mainly because there’s not the greatest walking route where we live. We often have to dodge cars, farm vehicles, horses, other dogs, looky lous, and pedestrians who aren’t watching where they’re going. Just this morning, I encountered three cars, a biker, and a tractor all in one spot, as I turned off the main drag to walk past the gardens. We’re also very close to the Autobahn and a high speed train track, which makes the area a bit noisier than I’d like. So, unlike our neighborhood in Jettingen, which was next to a huge nature park, Breckenheim is not quite as dog walker friendly, although the people are friendlier, and are, themselves, very dog friendly.

When I saw that orange car, I was expecting to be inconvenienced by someone. But, what I saw instead was something I very rarely see in Germany. I mean, I’m sure it happens… it’s just that I don’t see it or haven’t seen it much. People are polite and cordial here, and they love their families, but they don’t seem to be that demonstrative (unless they’re at a Fest or something, then all bets are off). I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an unbridled and honest expression of pure love and affection like that on the street. It was really nice to see, especially since I was totally caught off guard and experienced a temporary mood boost because of it.

Then I finished walking back home and got back to the work of healing, which involved some more time on the toilet. But I’m feeling much better now… Pity, though, since I notice my clothes are already looser. I noticed today on our walk, I was a lot crankier on the last stretch, mainly because someone in a Volkswagen came careening around the corner. I probably looked really bitchy as they passed. What a contrast to yesterday, when I was feeling unexpectedly cheerful despite being sick.

I was reminded, yet again, of the Buddhist monk we saw in 2015. I was super cranky and hungry, not feeling well, when we stopped outside of Munich for lunch. Then I saw a Japanese monk sitting near us who gave off incredibly calming vibes. It was like just seeing him erased all of my grouchiness.

Watching that reunion yesterday had a similar effect, making me forget my crabbiness and sickness for an instant. It was like a gift. I looked for the orange car today, wondering if Oma and Opa are still visiting. I’d like to know the rest of the story that started on an ordinary day in Breckenheim. And to think I never would have seen that if I hadn’t been sick and taken a walk later than usual… not that I’m ever that grateful for the experience of diarrhea and vomiting. But there’s good in everything, even if it’s just a story I can share and a lesson about staying observant, even when your day is mundane. You never know what you’ll see, even in a place like Breckenheim.

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emergencies, Germany

What’s that smell?

Bill and I were just sitting outside, enjoying a welcome cool breeze before what looks like rain. Suddenly, I noticed the smell of something burning. Afraid something in the house was burning, Bill went inside to see if we’d left something on a hot burner. Then I noticed smoke coming over the trees. We went upstairs to our entertainment room, which rarely gets used, and ventured out on the balcony.

Our neighbors across the way also came out on their balcony. The woman looked over at us and I pointed toward the billowing black smoke. Then, a few minutes later, we finally heard the first siren. Soon, there were many sirens in chorus. Bill was telling me it looked like a petroleum fire, perhaps from the nearby A3 (Autobahn). Edited to add: the local Facebook group says it was an apartment building that burned down on Rieslingstrasse. One of Bill’s colleagues lives near it. Two cats and two geckos died. Nine people, including five firefighters, suffered mild smoke inhalation damage.

I’m sure someone will cover it in one of the local Facebook groups. The whole neighborhood is smoky now, and people are continuing to stick their heads out in wonder.

Below are videos of what we saw and heard…

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coronavirus, Germany

About to break out of the COVID-19 cocoon!

Five more days to go before I’m fully “street legal”, as Bill puts it. I don’t know what we’ll do this weekend, but if we stay home, it may be the last time for awhile. Next weekend, we will be going to Heidelberg for the weekend. I’ve booked us a beautiful hotel which has a (hopefully) great bar, a spa, and gourmet food. Since Bill is now considered fully vaccinated and I will be by the time we check in, I don’t expect we’ll have to take COVID-19 tests. I have yet to actually be tested for COVID, because I have spent most of the pandemic holed up in our house.

It’s been a long, monotonous stretch since last October, which was when we had our last trip. That was when we picked up Noyzi, the Kosovar wonder dog. I look forward to interacting with people again. I think it will help Bill and me a whole lot. Bill needs a vacation. He’s been working non-stop, as have all of his co-workers. So this planned trip to Heidelberg will be a welcome taste of freedom, and it will give Noyzi the chance to try out the Tierpension. The next trip after Heidelberg will probably be to Stuttgart, so we can see the dentist.

Bill and I have visited Heidelberg before, back in October 2008, when we lived in Stuttgart the first time. In those days, there was still a functioning Army post there. We had several friends who were posted there. After we left in 2009, two more of Bill’s former co-workers moved to Heidelberg. I think they both left when it came time to move their offices up to Wiesbaden in anticipation of Heidelberg’s closure in 2013. It will be interesting to check out the city without the Army flavor that existed there for decades. It really is a nice place, and I look forward to relaxing, eating good food, and taking lots of new pictures.

This morning on our walk, I went the “old” way, rather than the new route we’ve been doing. It’s a slightly shorter route to go the old way, but it doesn’t really change where we go much. I just wanted to avoid disturbing a hardworking farmer who was tending his field on the newer route. I’m glad we went the old way, because we were treated to sounds of a neighing horse. There have been a few times we’ve walked on our route and run into a lady with a couple of bay mares she hitches to a wagon. I think she might actually have a barn for her mares on our walking route and puts them out to pasture in one of the fields nearby. Sometimes, when we’re walking through there, I can smell the heavenly scent of horses, but today was the first time I actually heard one neighing.

And we were also visited by a special feathered friend…

It’s not that uncommon to see these birds in Europe. I have seen them a lot in Alsace, but also down near the Swiss/German border. I have never seen a stork in Breckenheim, but obviously they exist. I didn’t see a nest anywhere, and stork’s nests are pretty easy to spot. Wonder where this bird flew in from…

Wiesbaden is already notable because there are wild parakeets/parrots here. Sometimes people who don’t know about them spot them in trees and think someone’s pet got loose. I haven’t seen any of the special birds yet, but maybe I will before we leave here someday. Below is a video someone posted of the parakeets copulating.

Well… just a week before I can bring this blog back to its original function of being a “travel” blog. Looking forward to it! And on the occasion of our planned trip to the next state, here’s a plucky song about Heidelberg a German friend shared with me today.

Now… off to go turn off the lawnmower, have some lunch, and take a nap.

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coronavirus, Germany, staying home

Moderna and more spring photos…

Poor Bill had his second Moderna shot yesterday. The installation opened up some walk in slots for the second vaccine, so Bill went so he could spare himself a long drive to Landstuhl today. He went to Landstuhl for the first shot, back in late April. It’s not such a bad drive to get there, but it does take about an hour just to get out that way. Then he’d have to get through the process and drive back. It’s much easier to get the shot locally, which is what I plan to do myself in a couple of weeks.

He was feeling okay after the shot, but by about 3:00am, he started feeling like he did when we both got swine flu in December 2013. Today, he’s taking it easy, lying in bed. Luckily, the sheets are nice and fresh, since we washed everything yesterday.

I just took the dogs for a walk. I didn’t mind, since my new Apple Watch gives me pep talks about exercising. Bill usually walks the dogs if he’s home, but he’s not up to it today. So off I went, and I managed to get some photos of the flowers blooming in our neighborhood, along with some meddlesome nettles. No, they aren’t particularly exciting pictures… and I look forward to when we can get out and see and do more. Hopefully, that won’t be too much longer, as COVID-19 infection numbers continue to drop here in Deutschland. I think it’s partly due to the weather, and mostly due to people becoming vaccinated, at long last. After a slow start, Germany has kicked its immunization program into high gear! Hooray!