It’s election time…

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I just bought a new pair of shoes that I needed to try out. I was going to try them yesterday, but ended up taking a nasty fall when I went to check the mailbox. Noyzi followed me outside and I panicked, because it’s almost a year ago that our would be rescue dog, Jonny, escaped his pet taxi before we could get him into the house. He ended up running away and tragically got hit by a car. That memory is still all too fresh in my mind.

When I went to grab for Noyzi, I lost my balance and fell. I got a nice, bruised, scraped right knee, and I tore off part of my right thumbnail. It really hurt, and I was actually a bit dazed for a few minutes. I had to sit on the floor to get my composure, because I almost felt like I might pass out from the acute pain. Needless to say, the boys didn’t get a walk yesterday. Arran capped off the misery by puking.

But anyway, we have sunny skies and nice temperatures this morning, so I decided to try again. We walked down the hill to the Dorfplatz, where there are many election signs. The big day is March 14th, and Wiesbaden has lots of candidates. I took some photos, even though as a foreigner, I won’t be voting.

I’m more than ready to get out of this neighborhood and see more of the sights. I am beyond sick of the COVID-19 lockdown lifestyle, especially since Bill has to go TDY for three weeks. But at least the new shoes were pretty comfortable, even if the shoelaces don’t want to stay tied without bow knots. I think once my knee and thumb stop throbbing, they’ll work out fine. Maybe I’ll even be motivated to walk outside of town and burn off some of this COVID-19 beergut.

Hopefully, the lockdown will be ending next month, although vaccine rollout has been slow here. Bill and I signed up for us to be vaccinated on post, but there’s no telling when that will happen. It will probably happen before we can get it on the economy, though. The school is open today, and I saw lots of kids playing outside, masked with surgical masks instead of cloth ones, which are now outlawed.

It is nice to see the sun… and feel warmer temperatures. I look forward to better weather, so we can at least socially isolate outside.

Tommi is about to break on through to the other side…

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Here’s a quick post to update my last one about how our neighbor’s puppy has discovered a breach in the fence. A couple of days ago, we had a glorious and rare sunny day. I let the dogs out, and sure enough, we soon saw Tommi the lab puppy sticking his head under the fence. He’s very determined! He’s still growing, though, so I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to do this.

I’m actually surprised Noyzi isn’t standing right by the fence to greet him. He actually backed away a bit as Tommi continued to engage. I suppose it’s time we got some cinder blocks or something. In other news, Noyzi just let Bill his harness on without any help from me, whatsoever! This may seem like a small thing, but he’s been terrified of Bill ever since we brought him home and until very recently, there was no hope of putting him on a leash without my assistance. So that’s another breakthrough. We’ve really been enjoying his personality, lately. He’s starting to show us who he is.

The last forty seconds of this video show Tommi, the cute Lab puppy, trying so hard to visit. It almost feels like a metaphor for the whole COVID-19 nightmare. We all want to visit, Tommi.

Aside from the cold, rainy, depressing weather and Noyzi’s antics, not much else is going on. The crappy weather continues. The lockdown continues. My beer gut keeps expanding. I watch more bad TV and dream of the day when I can post some more adventures that involve actual travel. The one consolation is that I know we’re all pretty much in this shitty boat right now. I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to see a lot of Europe before the pandemic started. I would hate to be a young bride coming here for the first time, eager to travel, and forced to stay at home for months on end. It sucks. At least the weather is bad enough that I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere anyway, even if we weren’t locked down.

Here are a few more photos of Noyzi, who is learning that the iPad won’t kill him. He’s learned to strike a pose and is quite handsome. I think he knows it, too… and uses his charms to score people food. I love giving him bites of food. It’s like dropping letters in a mailbox. His mouth is so big, and he opens it like a maw!

And here are a couple of photos I took on our most recent walk together. As you can see, the water is HIGH! It’s gross in the backyard… totally sloppy and messy.

I look forward to drying out.

When neighbor dogs don’t want to social distance…

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The soggy weather continues here in Germany. We’ve had nothing but rain and snow since the new year. The weather is a bit of a bummer, especially since everything is still locked down here. We’re running short on fun lately, which is why it’s so great to have a new rescue dog around. Especially one from Kosovo!

Ever since Noyzi, the Kosovar street dog, and Tommi met a couple of weeks ago, Noyzi has been obsessively watching the fence that borders our neighbor’s yard. I see him sniffing the air, as if to catch a whiff of his new friend, Tommi the Lab. I let him and Arran outside for a pee break yesterday, and they both went nuts at the far corner of our little yard. I kept seeing little flashes of movement under the fence. I have seen mice, hedgehogs, birds, and the odd cat or squirrel on or in that fence. I thought maybe there was a cat or something there, making the dogs react…

Bill is not too pleased about having to upgrade the fencing. He was in the middle of something work related when this excitement happened. Party pooper!

But then I saw a blond doggie face and the happy eyes of our German neighbor’s cute little puppy. It turns out he’s been as interested in hanging out with Noyzi as Noyzi has been interested in hanging out with him! He was trying to wriggle under the fence. I wasn’t able to get the best video, since Bill came out and broke it up before I was able to catch the scene. But later, we let them out again, and Tommi tried again.

Noyzi and Tommi are desperately trying to find a way to be buddies, even though they are separated by a tall fence!

Pretty soon, I reckon Tommi will be too big to even try to go under the fence. And Bill will probably fortify it with something to prevent a breach. It was still pretty cute to see Tommi’s little face. He was very happy to try to come play.

Later, Noyzi came up to me while I was sitting at the table and I started scratching his butt. I have now created a monster. Now, not only does he show up like a silent canine taxman whenever I’m eating something, but he also wants butt rubs. Every time I rub, he drops a ton of hair. But it’s worth it, because look at the big smile on his face in the featured photo.

We’re seeing that silly grin more and more often, since he’s joined us from Kosovo. In four months, he’s gone from being so scared he’d pee on himself whenever Bill took off his jacket or belt, to begging for butt rubs, table scraps, and walks around the neighborhood. Maybe he’s not the best behaved dog around, but he sure is enjoying life. And he’s made this COVID-19 nightmare easier to bear. I have never regretted taking in any of the dogs we’ve rescued… even the tragedy of Jonny last spring ended up doing some good. But Noyzi has been especially rewarding to watch. And I’ve even made a couple new friends in the process.

Tomorrow, Arran will get his stitches out, having had a mast cell tumor removed on his left hind leg. Maybe the vet will be able to tell Bill the results of Noyzi’s DNA test, too.

Noyzi makes a friend! Can Tommi come out to play?

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Our German neighbor used to have an adorable Labrador Retriever named Levi. Levi had been adopted from Americans who were leaving Germany and couldn’t take him with them. Levi recently got very sick and passed away, so our neighbor acquired a new puppy, name of Tommi. Tommi, like Levi, is a lab, although it looks like she got him from a breeder. I adored Levi, and was very sad when he died. He was a very sweet, friendly, and gentle dog, who always wanted to say hello. He was also well behaved and well trained, and would come over to visit us. Tommi looks a lot like a young version of Levi, and is just as friendly and outgoing. It looks like he’ll be a lot like Levi when he grows up.

A few days ago, I had Arran and Noyzi on their leashes, ready to take a walk. Our neighbor was outside with Tommi, packing up her car. It looked like she was headed to the barn, where she boards her mare. I once tried to have a conversation with her about horses. I spent most of my childhood showing my Appaloosa. But she seemed doubtful that I knew anything about horses and, in fact, even doubted that my horse had been an Appaloosa. The picture I showed her was of us mid flight over a fence and his spotted rump evidently wasn’t so easy to see. When I showed her another photo of us winning reserve champion at a state 4H horse show, then she realized I knew what breed my horse was. In that photo, she could see his spots.

Yes, that’s me when I was a horse person. Rusty, the Appaloosa pony, was my best friend. We won over 200 ribbons , a medal, and several trophies together, but the biggest prize was getting through high school unscathed and many years of companionship.

I think this is a common thing with some Germans. Sometimes they act like they know better about certain things, even when it’s clear they don’t. 😉 But rest assured, I did spent years working in barns and taking care of horses and, at least in those days, I knew what I was doing. Someday, when we settle down, I would love to have a horse in my life again.

Anyway… I think our neighbor distrusts Arran, mainly because Arran’s a bit high strung and bossy. When we first moved to the neighborhood, he didn’t seem as friendly as our other dog, Zane, was. Zane was a beagle with a touch of lab in him. He never met a stranger. Arran is a beagle with, I think, a healthy portion of German shorthaired pointer, and possibly a touch of coonhound. He’s very sweet, but kind of cranky and emotional.

Arran showing off his junk.

Noyzi, by contrast, is very nervous around people he doesn’t know, especially men. But he LOVES other dogs! He’s only about two years old, and still wants to play. Arran will play, but Arran is eleven and doesn’t have the stamina he once had. And he’s only now, after three months, starting to come around to liking Noyzi at all. Consequently, when Noyzi and Tommi first touched noses, I think Noyzi fell in love.

A couple of days later, Bill took the boys out for a walk. The neighbor was outside with Tommi again, and he came over to greet Arran and Noyzi. All three of them started trying to play. Bill had Arran on a long Flexi-lead tape leash, while Noyzi was in a harness and two regular nylon webbing leashes. Tommi was off lead. Bill said it was clear Noyzi liked Tommi and wanted to play some more. After their walk, he kept looking over at the neighbor’s house, eagerly searching for his new friend.

Noyzi loves snow, too.

As you can see in the video, he now knows Tommi’s scent and seems to want to leap the fence to get to him. I think he’s more likely to try to climb the fence than jump it, and he’s big enough that I think it’s possible he could clear his obstacle. However, I have not seen any indication that Noyzi wants to run away from us. He doesn’t charge the door when the doorbell rings, and he seems very attached to me… and to his bed and food.

We may have to find him a younger playmate, though. It’s so nice to see Noyzi acting more like a regular, goofy, funny dog. He’s really settling into his life in Germany, and making life during a pandemic a lot more interesting and fulfilling. I hope someday, he and Tommi can have some fun. If he was a human, I think he’d be knocking on the door, asking our neighbor if Tommi can come out to play!

Labor Day 2020…

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We didn’t end up leaving town for Labor Day. I never got around to finding a place to go. Since the COVID-19 situation is ever changing, it didn’t seem smart to book too far in advance. And then, we had to deal with the chimney sweep on Friday. It’s German law that they come every year and do an inspection and we weren’t sure when they would arrive.

Our weekend was mostly spent in the backyard, listening to music, gardening, and drinking beer and wine. We didn’t even go out to eat, although Bill did get some take out from Five Guys because I had a craving. I downloaded some new software and will probably try to figure it out today. Last night, we took a walk around the neighborhood and I took a few photos.

Our next trip could be to Slovenia, where we will hopefully meet a new canine family member. Fingers are crossed. Slovenia is beautiful anyway. I wouldn’t mind going just because it’s so gorgeous.

A few more scenes around the ‘hood…

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As we’re still not doing any traveling, I took a few more pictures from our neighborhood recently. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I went anywhere. It might have been when we went to the Globus last month. This is hell on travel writing, although now that I’m within striking distance of finishing my updates, I may soon be back to writing things of substance.

My guess is that I’ll write about our experiences so far. I have a wealth of them, thanks to so many years spent living abroad. I notice what I wrote in the spring of 2014 is not all that exciting, since we weren’t traveling much then. There were a few places in Texas I would have liked to have seen before we moved, though.

Anyway, our neighbors are being good about practicing their distancing. Several have posted signs on their door expressing their commitment to following instructions and staying inside. Bill says that masks are now required on the military installations, but frankly, I don’t think the homemade ones are worth a damn. They aren’t made to block viruses and I fear many people will not launder them. But I guess they make people feel better.

Here are some scenes in my neighborhood…

Arran and I had a nice walk today. We passed a couple of happy looking kids on their bikes. I hope things will get more normal soon… but this isn’t too bad. At least we have a nice garden and landlords who practice social distancing, too.

Partying with Germans!

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Last night, the neighbor two doors down from us held a party for the neighborhood.  They planned this gathering several weeks ago.  I found an invite in German with a handwritten note in English asking us to join them.  We were asked to bring something to grill and a salad.  Bill cooked ribs on the grill at home and made a minted cucumber salad, which was really good.  He also brought a few of his homebrews.

Quite a few of our neighbors speak English, so we weren’t without people to talk to.  Bill speaks some German and I understand more and more every day, although I still don’t speak it.  It was nice to hang out with these people we’ve been living among for the past three years.

Bill bonded with the host when he shared his latest homemade beer, a red ale.  The host liked it, although his daughter tried it and I don’t think she was all that impressed.  I have a feeling Bill will be teaching him how to brew beer.  We learned that the host and his wife and kids lived in Boston for a few years, so they are quite familiar with us Yanks.

Unfortunately, Bill got to talking beer with the host while we were heating up the ribs, so they got a bit overdone.  Next time, we’ll bring wurst or something.

It was actually kind of interesting talking to the neighbors, especially the lady who lives next door to us.  I learned that she was a nurse for years.  She doesn’t speak much English, though she speaks more English than I do German.  I learned that she was athletic as a youngster and likes to sing, as I do.  And another neighbor is an opera singer.  I’ve been known to sing a few arias myself.

Having great neighbors is a huge plus.  I haven’t gotten to know the people in our neighborhood, but they’ve been tolerant and respectful of us.  And now that we’ve partied with them, I think the mood will be even better.  It will certainly be better than it was in Texas.  Every day in July, when I look at Facebook’s “On this day” feature, I am reminded of the hell that was July 2014, as we were planning to move to Germany and I was recovering from my dad’s death.  I must admit that it was absolutely worth it to move back here.

This was one of the beers our hosts offered us.  It was an excellent dark beer.  We’ll have to find it sometime.

Bill starts a new job today… well, it’s not a new job in that he’s working in the same office with the same people.  It’s just a new company.  So this week, he and his other colleagues who are joining the new company will be doing all of the administrative stuff that comes with starting a new job.  I will need a new ID card, which is always a pleasure…  NOT.  But at least I’ll get to see Bill during the day sometime this week.

As we were socializing last night, I was reminded of how glad I am we didn’t have to move this year. Germany is really feeling more and more like home, which is sad, since I know I will someday have to leave.  Oh well… for now, we will enjoy our good fortune.

I think the neighbors are getting used to us…

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Santa brought us nice neighbors for Christmas!

Two nights in a row, our German neighbors have lent us a helping hand.  On the night of the 23rd, our landlord/landlady dropped by with a bottle of wine for us as a Christmas present.  Normally, when someone rings our doorbell, I put the dogs in the downstairs half of our house.  Our house was intended to be two apartments, so it’s easy to keep one part closed off.  I answer the door and the dogs are kept out of the way.  Unfortunately, Bill neglected to secure our hounds, Zane and Arran, before he opened the door and they both got out.

I had already dressed for bed because I had taken a shower and figured I wasn’t going anywhere, nor was I expecting anyone.  But when Bill yelled at me that the dogs were on the loose, I got dressed again and went out to help catch Zane.  Arran, thank heavens, is very easy to corral.  Zane never goes far when he gets loose.  He always stays within our sight.  Getting loose is a game for him and he has a great time making us chase him.  Like most hounds, he has selective hearing and a mind of his own.  Sadly, he doesn’t realize that getting out of the house on his own could result in his death.

Zane ended up running to a neighbor’s yard, which has sort of a natural fence around it made of low shrubs. As we were trying to catch Zane, a different neighbor pulled up and helped us corral him.  She was a huge help!  Instead of us having to chase Zane for 45 minutes in the dark, it only took about 20 minutes to get him, thanks to our kind neighbor.  She introduced herself and pointed to where she lives.

Then last night, as we were eating dinner, the doorbell rang again.  This time, Bill closed the door to the downstairs so our dogs couldn’t escape.  It was another neighbor– this time, a man who lives down the street.  He introduced himself and alerted Bill to the inside light of our SUV.  It was still lit and he didn’t want us to have a dead battery!

Now… this may seem like common courtesy to a lot of people, but I’m here to tell you that when we lived in Texas, our neighbors weren’t nearly as nice to us.  When Zane got out of our yard on my birthday, I asked a neighbor who happened to be within reaching distance of Zane’s collar if he wouldn’t mind grabbing him so we could take him home.  That guy totally ignored me.  Fortunately, we were able to corral Zane because there was a tall fence there.  Zane got out because the pool guy came early that morning and forgot to shut the gate behind him.  It was lucky that I got suspicious so soon after I let him into the yard.  He might have easily been killed or gotten lost.

Another time in Texas, a neighbor came over to tell me that the garage door was up.  I was glad she did that, since I was alone in the house and it turned out that neighborhood wasn’t very safe (as evidenced by the blood spatter on our driveway by the lockbox while the house was being advertised for rent).  But that was the one time anyone showed much consideration.  Most of the time, they rang the bell to try to sell us something or proselytize.  Oh, and one guy tried to butter up Bill so we’d let his kid use the pool in the backyard.

When we lived in Germany last time, it took a lot longer before our neighbors got used to us.  We lived in a town near Tuebingen, so very few Americans were in that area.  I think we were the only ones who had ever lived in that village and, according to my former German neighbor, it wasn’t a particularly friendly neighborhood to start with, although I did very much enjoy living there.  It was months before anyone spoke to us, though they did watch us a lot through their windows.  We also got ding dong ditched quite often by local hoodlums.  We finally had to disconnect the doorbell.

Anyway, while I know we’ll always be Auslanders in these parts, it’s good to know we have nice neighbors.  I much prefer where we live now to where we were living a year ago.  And the couple that owns our home is so nice.  I never had an American landlord who brought me wine!

An added bonus… insane sunsets and sunrises easily viewed from our upstairs windows…