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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Germany, holidays, housekeeping tips

The last day of 2021… (cross post)

This post also appears on the main blog, since I have different readers there. The featured photo are cookies brought by our landlord.

I’m getting a late post up today. I was actually thinking of taking off the last day of 2021. I didn’t have anything earth shattering on my mind that I felt compelled to write about. Bill had the day off, and we were both kind of tired. Bill was especially tired, since he never gets a full night’s sleep. So I worked on reading my book, and he took a nap. Later, he’ll fire up the fondue/raclette grill set I got him for Christmas, and we’ll try it out. He’s already used the new hot tea pot I got him. He’s drinking tea as I write this.

Bill and Arran, preparing for tonight.

Arran took a nap with us, while Noyzi tried to steal my brand new fuzzy slippers. I think he thinks they’re small animals. I might let him take them, but he’s already eaten a couple of toys. The emergency vet is the last place we want to go tonight.

I managed to accomplish a couple of other chores, too. After I worked on trying to rid the toilet of lime scale and calcium stains, I went on Amazon.de and bought some citric acid, as well as cleaning soda and salt. Today, I tried the acid on a really terrible hard water stain in the shower that I’ve never been able to get rid of. I poured the acid on the stain and, wouldn’t you know it? That stain was gone in minutes! There’s no trace of it. I think it’s a wonder drug. It’s hard to believe it’s taken seven years to figure this out. Vinegar is good, but citric acid is the bomb! And it’s cheap, too!

I also climbed up on a stepladder in the shower and knocked the calcium off the shower head jets, so the nice rainfall spray won’t squirt all over the place anymore. Now, the new shower head is as nice as it was in September, when it was installed.

I heard that fireworks weren’t supposed to be sold in German stores again this year. Like last year, the government wants to discourage people from setting off fireworks, because they don’t want people getting hurt and needing to go to the hospital, thanks to COVID. I suspect there will be fireworks, anyway… Germans are law abiding people, but they love fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I think that’s pretty much the only day they are allowed to be set off, at least by the regular rank and file folks. I seem to remember that there were fireworks last year, despite the ban on them.

Our New Year’s celebrations are usually pretty boring affairs. We spend them much the same way we spend any night at home… listening to music, drinking wine, and talking.

I’m hoping 2022 will be a better year for everyone… although 2021 wasn’t, for me, a particularly bad year. I’ve had worse. But this COVID-19 shit needs to be fixed. Hopefully, 2022 will bring us some breakthroughs.

In any case… I want to offer sincere thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blogs. This main site, in particular, has really taken off this year! In the past month or so, I’ve had an explosion in traffic. That really does my heart good, and makes writing this blog worth the time and effort.

The travel blog has been somewhat less trafficked this year, but I can understand why. I haven’t been traveling as much… nor have many other people! I’m sure the traveling we have done may even be a downer for some folks. I know some people suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), and it can be depressing to look at other people’s travel posts when travel is so potentially risky and definitely stressful. I am very grateful, though, that we finally managed to go to Croatia. I hope we can visit again. There are more places I want to see. And with any luck and maybe God’s grace, if you’re into God, that is– maybe COVID-19 will be more under control by this time next year.

I’m still making music, too… Been getting better with my guitar skills and can even play some songs. There are some times when I find myself playing things completely spontaneously. I still have plenty of learning to do, which is a good thing. And I’ve also found someone to collaborate with on YouTube, too, which is very rewarding. Maybe I’ll put up a new song or two, now that I have new gear. Maybe I’ll try to learn bass guitar and banjo, too… if the virus continues to spread, I might have to do something else to pass the time.

Well… I don’t have much else to say, except…

I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve, and a very fortuitous New Year’s Day… and 2022!

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Germany

The last night of 2018…

Here’s a quick post with photos from last night’s fireworks.  It was quite an impressive show.  Because our new house has two balconies, it was easy to see everything.  Some people were setting off fireworks right outside our front door.  It wasn’t quite as impressive as our old village, Pfäffingen, was.  New Year’s Eve there was like Armageddon.  But it was a little better than Jettingen was, probably because we were close to the action…

I got a lot more pictures, but a lot of them were unusable because they were blurry or uninteresting.  It’s strange how I have better luck with my iPhone than my regular camera with all its fancy settings. Anyway, we had about a half hour of intense fireworks, then the neighborhood was quiet again.  I swear, in our first German town, people were setting off fireworks most of the night!

 

My dogs were mostly oblivious to the action.  Unlike our dearly departed MacGregor, who would be terrified when the fireworks started, Zane and Arran were totally chill.  Zane tucked himself into bed and Arran hung out with us and watched the show.

Hopefully 2019 will be full of new adventures.  I have some big ideas for the Wiesbaden edition of my travel blog!  I hope you’ll follow along… but only if you’re interested.  I suspect there will be many trips to the Rhein in our future… and the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium, all of which are now easily accessible to us in our new town.

Happy New Year to all!
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Germany

All is quiet on New Year’s Day…

This was Bill last night.

It was about 10:00pm when I took this photo.

 

I told him we should go to bed because he could not keep his eyes open.  He said “no” over and over again.  Finally, I got up and started doing my nightly bedtime routine.  By the time I was finished, he was sound asleep in that chair.  So I made him get up and go to bed.  We didn’t even open any champagne, which is very much unlike us.  The upside is that for once, I’m not hungover on New Year’s Day.

We did enjoy a nice dinner.  Bill broke out the Anova Sous Vide that I got him for Christmas in 2016 (but he didn’t receive until 2017).  He cooked a beef tenderloin roast that he found at the commissary, of all places.  It turned out amazingly tender.

He also broke out the wedding china and silverware.  We were fancy!

I had every intention of lying in bed and reading, but then my own eyelids started to get heavy.  So I turned off the light and drifted off to sleep.  Then I was awakened at exactly 11:58pm, when the neighbors started setting off fireworks.  They continued for about a half an hour and then they, too, went to bed.  I managed to get a few lame photos because it was dark and I didn’t feel like looking for my camera.  Then I went back to bed and spent another hour or so trying to go back to sleep.

I got some video that was probably somewhat better than this is…  Photography is not my forte.  Maybe later I’ll make a video and add it to this post, not that anyone will watch it.

 

The town we currently live in is a bit more conservative on New Year’s Eve than our former German town, Pfäffingen, was.  People in that town went nuts with the fireworks and set them off for hours.  It was like a blitzkrieg.  Here, they set off the odd firework before they are supposed to and then there’s about a half an hour show.  Then, they go to bed.  Bill and I never set off fireworks ourselves.  We just watch everyone else’s.

This year, I learned that people are not supposed to set off fireworks before midnight.  Apparently, it was even a law.  Our local German guru says the law changed, but some people may not have gotten the memo.  German stores are only allowed to sell fireworks from December 28 until the 31st.  And since the 31st was on a Sunday, I guess there were even fewer opportunities to buy them this year.  Firecrackers are allowed to be used all year, but other fireworks can only be purchased by adults and only at New Year’s.  It’s illegal to light them at any other time of the year without permission from your town.

Someone in one of the local groups got bitched at by a neighbor yesterday for setting off fireworks “too early”.  I will never understand why some Germans can be so “in your face” about enforcing rules.  Apparently, the encounter was not pleasant or neighborly.  I felt bad for my fellow American, getting yelled at on New Year’s Eve.  I have gotten yelled at by random Germans before myself.  On the other hand, I have also found the locals to be very nice once you get to know them.  People in our current neighborhood are especially nice, which is a blessing.

Supposedly, you’re not supposed to light fireworks near hospitals, churches, or old people’s homes.  I get not lighting them near hospitals and churches, but it seems odd to restrict them near old people’s homes.  What if you don’t know how old your neighbors are?  Anyway, the elderly people in my neighborhood got a show last night whether they wanted one or not.  Also, it’s against the rules to light them on any of the U.S. military posts, although I think they sometimes have shows there run by professionals.  I don’t mind watching fireworks, but I probably care less about them than the average person does.

I usually find New Year’s a little depressing.  The holidays are over and it’s time to take the tree down and get through the frigid months that lead off the new year.  But hopefully, we’ll have some new adventures and get in some more traveling.  I look forward to writing more restaurant reviews and visiting new places.  For now, I will enjoy the quiet on the first day of 2018.

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German culture, Germany

New Year’s in Jettingen!

I was both kind of looking forward to and dreading another New Year’s Eve in Germany.  Last time we lived here, we lived in a little town called Pfäffingen, which is very close to the college town of Tübingen.  When we were here last time for New Year’s, Germans were out in the streets setting off lots of fireworks.  It was very intense and went on for most of the evening and into the wee hours of the morning.

New Year’s Eve in Jettingen, by contrast, seemed pretty tame.  It’s my guess that the snow put a damper on the festivities.  There weren’t any fireworks to speak of until just before midnight.  A lot of them came from houses in the distance from ours, though there were a few set off in our neighborhood.  In Pfäffingen after New Year’s Eve, there were spent fireworks and debris scattered all over the place.  In Jettingen, it seems like there would be much less.

Bill and I hung out in my big room and drank champagne. We never go out on New Year’s Eve.  I guess by the time December 31st rolls around, we’re a little holidayed out.  I kind of wish we’d gotten some fireworks, but the snow kind of kept us out of the stores.

The snow is slowly melting and soon everything will be a soggy mess.  I’m kind of ready for the snow to go away, though.  I’m ready for things to get back to normal.  I’m also ready to plan our next trip, which I hope will be in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, here are a few photos I managed to snap last night.  I wish they were more exciting.  There’s always next year, though, and God willing, we won’t have to move again.

I got more photos than these, but honestly, they aren’t much to look at.

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restaurant reviews, Virginia

Our big Virginia trip, part four– Friday night!

In my family, we traditionally have a “barn party” on Friday after Thanksgiving.  Over the years, the party has been held in a variety of different places.  When I was a kid, the barn on my Uncle Brownlee’s property was owned by someone else, so we had to rent somewhere for our party.  Some years, we had it at the Natural Bridge Hotel, either in a room in the basement or in a reception hall.

In 1987, we had an all out par-tay in one of the big ballrooms.  It was complete with an open bar and a full band featuring my Uncle Brownlee and his brother, Stephen.  There was much drunkenness, especially from yours truly.  I was 15 years old and one of my cousins, who shall remain nameless, was passing me bourbon and Cokes.  I drank four and got good and hammered.  That was the first time in my life I ever got drunk, and boy was I a mess.  Fortunately, my Aunt Nance filmed the whole thing for posterity…  LOL.  I made myself scarce during the drunk part, thank GOD.  I still like to watch that video, though, because that was a wild party and there are people in it who are no longer with us.

In later years, we had the party at the Fire Station in Natural Bridge, which wasn’t too long on character.  There were lots of stories told, though no dancing or music.  One year, we had karaoke in the barn.  And finally in recent years, we started having the whole celebration in the barn, which my handy and talented Uncle Brownlee has fixed up for dancing and music.  The last few years, we’ve even had live bluegrass music from The Plank Road Express.  In 2010, during our last visit for Thanksgiving, I got to sing a number with the band, which was a lot of fun for me.  In a former life, I think I was a rock star.

I had a feeling we were going to be a bit emotional after my dad’s memorial, so I arranged a date night for Bill and me.  We had dinner at The Southern Inn in Lexington, Virginia.  We ate there once or twice before and there are other restaurants in Lexington.  I will admit that part of the reason I chose that place is because they participate in OpenTable, which is a restaurant reservation service.  I get points every time I make a reservation and have been collecting for over ten years.  But if I don’t reserve a table at least once a year, the points expire.  Since I don’t know when we’ll be back in the States, I figured it was a good opportunity to keep current.  And I wanted to enjoy a nice dinner with my spouse, too.

So we stayed dressed up for dinner, though we really didn’t have to.  The Southern Inn is a fairly casual place and it’s obvious that it’s popular with locals.  Our waitress was very experienced and clearly knew a lot of the people at the surrounding tables.  We enjoyed a very nice meal, too.  I started with baked Brie and a glass of prosecco.  Bill had a bowl of Andouille sausage soup.  I had sea scallops and parmesan grits for my entree.  Bill had a huge steak.  For dessert, I had a Brandy Alexander, while Bill had pecan pie.

Bill reacting to something smartassed I said.

Vino!

Baked Brie… it was a little like a grilled cheese sandwich on steroids.

Bill’s yummy soup!

Scallops, grits, and greens!

Beef!

Brandy Alexander… 

Pecan pie… this was good, but my brother-in-law, Mark, makes an even better one.

We got back to the home place just in time for a spectacular fireworks show put on by one of my cousins.  I wish we’d gotten there a little earlier so I could have gotten more than a few shots.  I was pretty impressed by how professional the show was!

Fireworks!

Then we went to the barn for dancing and more singing… and yes, I did get to sing with The Plank Road Express again.  It was funny, too, because the lead singer spotted me and said, “I’ve been looking for you for four years!  Where have you been?”  I sang “Walking After Midnight” and fumbled with the words a bit… but probably the most special moment of the night came when I saw the words for “On Heaven’s Bright Shore” on her music stand.

You see, I really would have liked to have sung “On Heaven’s Bright Shore” at my dad’s memorial.  That would have been my choice for a solo.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone to accompany me.  I did record an acapella version, but it’s not as good as it would be if I had someone on guitar or something.

The Plank Road Express in the barn…

Anyway, I asked the band if they would mind if I gave “On Heaven’s Bright Shore” a whirl.  They asked if I could sing it in “C”.  I said, “Just play it.  I’m drunk and so is most everyone else in here!”  It turned out pretty well!

I thanked the band for obliging me and explained that I had come all the way from Germany for my dad’s memorial.  The lead singer said, “Oh, so that was your dad who died?  I sang ‘On Heaven’s Bright Shore’ for my dad, too.”  I got the sense that we bonded a little over that song!

Another highlight of Friday night was my Uncle Ed, who is just hilarious.  He said, “Hey Jenny, we have some ‘moon’ here…”  “Moon”, for your edification, refers to moonshine.  Yes, many people in my family enjoy it as well as the odd Miller Lite beer.  My tastebuds have evolved beyond Lite, but I don’t mind if I do enjoy a little “moon” when the opportunity presents itself.  It was good stuff, too– pretty smooth and I haven’t gone blind…

We didn’t get back to the Hummingbird Inn until after 1:00am.  We would have been there sooner, except I left my bag at the house and had to go back and retrieve it.  On the way into the house, I skinned the hell out of my knee.  That may have been yet another sign from my dad.  Many years ago, when I was a kid and we were celebrating Thanksgiving with the family, my dad decided to go jogging.  Possibly in a pre-menstrual moment, I said “I hope you fall and skin your knee.”  My cousin, Suzanne, thought that was the funniest thing and reminded me of it this year.  So maybe it was a little karmic payback.  Despite my smarting knee, I had a great time!

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