holidays

Mr. Bill and I celebrate 20 years of marriage… Part five

When we woke up in Ribeauville on Saturday, November 19th, I looked at Facebook to see if there were any announcements about James Taylor’s show. I didn’t see any emails from the ticketing venue, or on James’s social media. That meant we’d be going home a day early.

I was a little sad to be going, since I really had wanted to go to Riquewihr at least once, if only to get macaroons. Bill didn’t want to go to Riquewihr, because it was in the opposite direction of home, even if it was just two miles. He said he’d go look for the macaroons in Ribeauville. So he went out, picked up more croissants, and FAILED to find the cookies I wanted. Instead, he bought three bags of other cookies.

Maybe I should be ashamed for feeling this way, but I was a little disappointed. What he brought back were not what I wanted. Then it occurred to me that I could probably order the macaroons, which is precisely what I did (they arrived this morning). So I got over my disappointment, and we started packing up to go home. As I was walking the dogs to the car, my hands full of whatever else I could carry, a French woman approached me, speaking rapid fire. I said in English, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.”

She nodded and smiled, then backed away. I soon realized what she wanted. It was mid morning and the parking lot was already pretty full. She wanted our parking spot. I saw her lurking in the lot, just waiting for us to move. I always hate it when people do this, even though I understand why they do it. I wasn’t the one driving, and we weren’t quite ready to leave. She finally gave up at some point, after Bill had done a sweep of the Riesling gite, and came back to the car. By then, there were a couple more lurkers, just waiting…

It was probably a half hour later when we were on our way home, after a quick stop at the Daniel Stoffel Chocolatier outlet on the way out of town. Bill went in and picked up some goodies for us, and his daughter’s family.

Our drive home was almost totally uneventful. Arran went to sleep, and Noyzi was a perfect gentleman in the back. Maybe we have finally broken him of his habit of barking in the car. The only strange thing that happened was that, as usual, I witnessed public urination at a rest stop. I vented about that here. Below are a few shots from the drive home. As you can see, Arran was relaxed.

When we got home, our landlord came over to tell us our off kilter dishwasher, which had come off its foundation, wasn’t fixed yet, because the repair guy needed a part. Yesterday, he said the repair guy was sick, but would be able to fix the machine when he was well again. He said we should just be careful using the machine. When I told him we hadn’t been using it, because the dishwasher had given me an error code last time I ran a load, he said if the repair guy couldn’t figure it out, he’d just get us a new one. I am still stunned by how different he is, compared to our former landlady. They are like night and day!

I did the requisite load of laundry and a few other chores, then we got ready for the show in Frankfurt. We had to pick up our tickets at the box office, I guess to thwart scalpers. I pictured a long line of people, but when we arrived at the Jahrhunderthalle, we were pleasantly surprised by the ease of parking, the short distance to the venue, and the short line to get our tickets. Then we enjoyed some libations while we waited for the doors to open.

James Taylor had a stripped down band for this show. There was no keyboard player, and no opening act. We had second row seats, which was a first for me. I saw my first James Taylor concert in 1990. In fact, that show, when I was almost 18, was my very first “rock” show– if you could call it that. I remember I went with my parents and one of my sisters, and I paid $18.50 for nosebleed seats.

For this show, I paid 82,50 euros which I thought was very reasonable to see a guy who has won 6 Grammys and spent more than 50 years enchanting people all over the world with his wonderful guitar playing and angelic voice. While we waited for the show to start, I noticed the music that was playing. I recognized songs from albums by James’s daughter, Sally, as well as backup singers Kate Markowitz and Andrea Zonn. I downloaded Kate’s album from the concert hall. I already had Andrea’s.

This was the fourth time I’d seen James Taylor play, but there was a difference between this show and the others. For one thing, there weren’t drunken, idiot women standing in front of us, dancing and shrieking the whole time. There were no huge screens showing close ups of James and his band. And while he forgot a few words, he still played and sang beautifully. I was charmed by his efforts to speak German to the crowd, as well as the encouraging message he had for anyone “in recovery” from drug and alcohol addiction, as he has been since the mid 80s.

James told us some of the stories behind some of the songs he performed, including “That’s Why I’m Here”, from his 1985 album by the same name. I remember that he had dedicated that album to Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Imagine going to an A.A. meeting and seeing James Taylor there! But anyway, “That’s Why I’m Here” was a song he wrote in memory of his friend John Belushi, who died of an overdose in 1982. James was a pretty serious addict back in the day. He’s still addicted, of course, but no longer indulges. Before he started singing, he said, “If you like getting fucked up, that’s okay. I just can’t handle it myself anymore!” Everybody laughed.

At the beginning of the evening, I thought James looked a little pale, perhaps because he’d had COVID. But as the show went on, he was more and more animated, at times jumping around the stage. I enjoyed watching him interact with his band, most of whom had been with him for many years. Dorian Holley was the only one on stage I had not seen with James before. I suspect he’s the replacement for Arnold McCuller, James’s longtime backup singer who just retired from life on the road. I enjoyed Dorian’s singing. He has quite an impressive resume. James listed the people Holley’s sung with, which includes the late Michael Jackson. That actually surprised me, because he didn’t look old enough to be one of Jackson’s backup singers… but then, Michael was well known for enjoying and employing young performers for his shows.

James’s long time guitarist, Michael Landau, was well within view of us on the right side of the stage. He stood up and flexed his legs, I smiled at him, and he smiled back. That was kind of a cool moment. One thing I love about European concerts is that I seem to have a much easier time scoring good seats here. Another thing I love about European shows is that most people don’t act stupid at them… at least not at the shows Bill and I attend. And you can get a beer or a glass of wine without mortgaging your house.

At one point, James was introducing a song from his 1971 album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. A man in the audience held up a vinyl copy, which James immediately offered to sign and bite. The guy rushed up to the stage with his album and presented it to James, but then they needed to find a pen. Another guy came up and said he had something that had been signed by a bunch of famous singers, including Johnny Cash. He requested an autograph, which James was happy to oblige. In fact, at the break, I ran out to go to the restroom, and when I came back, James was still on stage, signing autographs and shaking hands. I was very impressed. I wondered if he needed to pee as badly as I did! It struck me as a very humble and generous gesture toward his loyal fans.

I decided not to try to get an autograph myself. I would be honored to have James’s signature, of course, but autographs don’t really mean that much to me. Earlier in the show, someone yelled out that his dad loved James. James made a comment reminiscent of what he said on his Live album from 1993. Basically, he reminded the guy that they don’t know each other. It made me think how strange it must be for performers to be “loved” by people who don’t know them. James himself reminded us that he is a deeply flawed person, as we all are… but what impresses me about James Taylor is that he’s clearly worked very hard to become much better. He’s clearly not the same person he was in the 70s or early 80s.

At the end of the show, of course there were encores… and James and his band encouraged people to get up and come close to the stage. It was one of the most intimate concert experiences I’ve ever had. I think the only one who topped that was James’s somewhat less famous brother, Livingston, who puts on a FABULOUS live show and is extremely approachable. I remember seeing Liv in 2003 at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, a couple of months after I saw James at Wolf Trap in Bristow, Virginia. James’s show was MUCH bigger than Liv’s was, and we had those drunk women in front of us, careening around sloppily as they slurred the lyrics of James’s best songs. I remember thinking Livingston’s show was so much better, if only because there weren’t any obnoxious drunks there. But Liv also engaged the audience and was thoroughly entertaining. This most recent show by James, while slightly pared down, was akin to Liv’s show, only it was in a much larger, yet still intimate, venue.

In any case, we obviously had a wonderful time! I’m so glad we went. It was the perfect ending to our 20th anniversary weekend. And yes, even though James will be 75 years old in March, he’s still a hell of a great performer. I think the money we spent on this show, even with its delays, was well worth euro cent.

Dorian and Kate dance!

Getting out of the Jahrhunderthalle was very easy. Bill was happy about that. But then we hit a Stau, so Bill went through Hofheim to get us home. And when we got home, we were confronted by a big mess caused by Arran. He got into the basement and raided our dry goods, and peed and pooped on my rug. Fortunately, he was no worse for wear. We have thoroughly dog proofed down there, as we’re going to someone’s house for Thanksgiving dinner today. Noyzi had nothing to do with the raid. He was tucked in bed when we got home. He’s very classy for a street dog.

Well, that about does it for this series. It wasn’t a super exciting trip, but we had a good time… and it was great to have Arran and Noyzi with us. I’m so grateful to be here on many levels, and for so many reasons. I’m glad James Taylor is still with us, too. And before I forget, below are a couple of clips from the show.

The magical ending.
Auf Wiedersehen…
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Beef ‘n Beer… A new spot for us in Hofheim…

We woke to a foggy morning, which made us less interested in going to a wine tasting in the nearby hamlet of Hofheim. We did need to go out, though… or really, I needed to go out. So we decided to stop by a Hofheim burger joint called Beef ‘n Beer, which is right next to a mall called the Chinon Center. Two hours parking there cost one euro!

The restaurant’s Web site tells me that there are two locations, the one in Hofheim, and one in Kelkheim, which is a place I have yet to visit. With a name like Beef ‘n Beer, we were thinking maybe they’d have a list of beers to try, but alas, the beer selection was not that impressive or expansive. However, the restaurant doesn’t take an afternoon pause, has a full bar, and offers a variety of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and main dishes.

We ended up having to search for parking, because a lot of people were out today. We managed to snag a spot on the top level of the parking garage at the Chinon Center, then it was easy to walk to the restaurant. An attractive waitress invited us to sit anywhere we wanted. She didn’t speak English to us, but I did hear her speak perfect English to another patron. I’m not sure he was American, either. He could have been from Sweden, for all I know!

I ended up ordering an Avocado Burger, which was a burger with bacon, cheese, onions, lettuce and avocado slices. Bill had The Original Australian, which was a sandwich on a sub roll with Argentinian beef strips, fried onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce. Both sandwiches came with steak fries and cole slaw.

The Avocado Burger was good, but I couldn’t finish it. It also had a molded patty, which I don’t usually like the texture of, though it wasn’t too off putting at Beef ‘n Beer. Bill loved his sandwich. I think I might order that next time, or come hungrier and try one of the main courses. They have steaks, salmon, dorade, and even spare ribs.

I enjoyed the chilled out ambiance in the restaurant, which included comfortable bench seating and cool music. It’s also a dog friendly place. One guy brought his two dogs with him, and I almost tripped over his sweet black Labrador as we entered the place. In warmer months, there’s a small Biergarten area, too. Bill and I both commented that we expected more of a beer selection, but they had stuff we were happy to drink. I’m sure it pleases the local clientele.

Lunch came to a little over 36 euros, which Bill paid for with cash. He could have used a card, too, an option I see is spreading rapidly in Germany. For the longest time, paying with a card wasn’t such a common thing to do here. I guess COVID changed that somewhat.

After lunch, we walked downtown to see if anything was going on. We ended up stopping in a little hole in the wall Fair Trade shop, which offered coffees, teas, condiments, soaps, baby clothes, and wines, all of which came from Fair Trade sources. We bought some coffee, soap, almond butter, wine, and chocolate. How many times have we walked past the Weltladen without noticing? I don’t know, but I will make a point of stopping in again. They have some cute stuff! I love Hofheim, too. It’s a nice town.

Then we completed the loop around Hofheim and took a short rest near the Wine Chalet. For once, we didn’t partake of any wine. We just sat there, enjoyed the change of scenery and lovely cool fall temperatures and colors, as well as a little irreverent graffiti. I feel like I’ve almost missed the fall this year, as worried as I’ve been about Arran.

Speaking of Arran… below is a video of how he and Noyzi welcomed us home…

That chemo is good stuff.

Wednesday, we’re going to Ribeauville, France for our 20th wedding anniversary. Originally, our plan was to stay until November 20 (Sunday). However, we were supposed to see James Taylor in concert in Frankfurt on November 8. He came down with COVID and had to cancel several shows. Poor guy has been stuck in Zurich all week… which is not such a bad place to be stuck. He was able to reschedule Frankfurt for November 19th. So, if the show is still going on next Saturday night, we’re going to come home a day early and see him play. We have second row seats, after all. Not sure that will ever happen again! If he has to cancel again, we’ll stay in France for another night. Either way, we’re paid up, and we have appealing plans.

It’s nice to have first world problems.

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markets

Lunch at Hofheim’s Die Scheuer, followed by a petite French Market!

Although there’s a lot going on in our area this weekend, and Bill and I have been wanting to visit other little towns near us, we decided to stay close to home. I knew there was going to be a little French market in Hofheim today, and that would be a good opportunity for Bill to get some of his favorite stinky cheeses. We also heard that there was going to be a huge climate change protest in Wiesbaden, along with a food truck festival.

The French market sounded like it was more our speed, but once we got there, it was a lot smaller than I was expecting it to be. When I saw how tiny it was, I suggested we look in the other usual areas of the city to see if there was anything else. All we saw was the tail end of the weekend market, getting ready to shut down. Lots of people were drinking Riesling at the Wine Chalet, too.

We decided to have some lunch, then hit the French market. Today, we finally managed to try Die Scheuer. Die Scheuer translates to “the barn” (even though Google says the word translates to “the scour”). We’ve been wanting to visit this cute little restaurant for some time, but we usually get there too late, as they shut down at 2:30pm. We noticed that they got a Michelin Red Plate. After today’s delicious lunch, we can see why.

Die Scheuer has a nice shady outdoor area, with huge sycamore trees. They had also put up several large umbrellas, which was a good thing, since it started to rain right after we ordered our food. We had to change tables, in spite of the the umbrellas and tree cover. Still, it was so nice to see the rain, as it’s been weeks since we last had a good spritz. The rain didn’t last long enough, but it did cool things off a little bit.

Bill and I both chose lunch dishes, which were reasonably priced and not too huge. I had breaded, baked chicken, with sweet potato fries, and a lemon cream dip. Bill had what was called a barbecue bowl, which had a minute steak garnished with beans, corn on the cob, onions, and spicy barbecue sauce. It all looked and tasted great, especially washed down with cold hefeweizens. Service was friendly and relaxed, but professional. My chicken was very moist and tasty… and kid friendly, as I noticed the boy at the next table having the same. I have a child’s palate.

I ventured into the restaurant to use the restroom and noticed how very charming it is on the inside. The tables were all beautifully set, with comfortable looking booths. We’ll have to come back for dinner sometime. Sitting inside or outside promises a pleasant experience, albeit not a particularly inexpensive one.

After we finished our lunch plates, we had dessert. Creme brulee for me, and an apricot dish for Bill. There was a time when he wouldn’t eat apricots because it was “bad luck” for “tankers” in the Army. I think he’s gotten over that superstition. I think Die Scheuer has a pretty devoted following in Hofheim. I can see why. It really is a nice restaurant. Our bill came to 73 euros, which Bill paid in cash, along with the “Trinkgeld” (tip).

After we ate lunch, we went to the French market. Bill bought some sausages, cheese, duck spread, and macaroons. I bought four bars of lovely French soaps. I wish the market had been a little bigger, but it was perfectly nice. After the wine festival in Wiesbaden, it was fun to do something low key.

I wish it had rained longer. I hope it will start again. We missed last night’s wine stand, in part, because it threatened to rain, but never did. The wine stand was also held in a different part of our village, and we didn’t feel like looking for it. Next week, we’ll get our very first market in the Dorfplatz, and then the following week, Breckenheim gets its own wine fest. So I don’t think we missed out too much. Besides, last time I went to a wine stand, I got COVID.

Below are today’s photos…

We enjoy visiting these little markets sometimes, and it’s been too long since our last leisurely lunch in a restaurant. Next month, we are headed back to Baiersbronn for five nights at the Bareiss Hotel. I’m sure there will be many more beautiful food pics then!

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Street food in Hofheim equals presents for my ass…

I was feeling kind of lazy today, and probably could have been talked into staying home. But then I noticed Hofheim, which is a town very close to our village of Breckenheim, was having a street food fest. I have to admit that I love German street food fests. They are always an interesting mix of kid friendly activities and adult beverages. Also, there’s usually live music and good food. I don’t care that much about kid friendly activities, of course, but I am all about adult beverages, good live music, and street food… especially if it involves empanadas. So off we went in the Volvo, since I didn’t feel like messing with the Mini’s last decade sound system. I think it’s time to shop for a new car. The Mini is 13 years old and can’t keep up with technology. 😉

We parked in a different area of the Chinon Centre, which is the local shopping mall. We easily found the fest, which was/still is going on downtown. There was a nice turnout of vendors, with everything from Indonesian to Colombian food. We didn’t actually eat a lot, because much of what I saw being served was in pretty large portions. I may look like I can eat a lot, but actually, I am more of a drinker. 😉 So I ended up just having a couple of empanadas… but I did learn about a fruit that was new to me… and especially about the hilariously rude names people in the UK use for it.

Anyway, below are some photos and videos… It was a lot of fun, and a nice way to waste the afternoon. I really liked the guy who was playing guitar in the last hour or so of our visit. He seemed equally influenced by Sting, Santana, and Mark Knopfler. All are worthy, in my opinion. And his live guitar playing beat the ever loving hell out of the crappy Euro trash trance music that was playing. I do love Europe, but the pop music here often sounds like a mixture of dance music and late 80s era Mentos commercials.

As you can see, we had lots of choices for food and drink, and there was plenty for kids to do. The weather was perfect, not too hot or windy. My only complaint is that they needed another umbrella or two. Also, I wish there had been smaller portions at some of the food trucks. But really, those were minor complaints. It was a really nice afternoon. Hofheim rocks!

Medlar fruit, AKA Mispelfrucht in German, is interesting. Apparently, in Britain, some people give it vulgar names because of how it looks. Seems about right for my peeps. They call it “monkey’s arse” or “open arse” or whatever. It is, however, considered to be a very tasty fruit. Today was the first time I have ever encountered it in my lifetime.

I would have liked to have tried other stuff, but it was quite hot, sunny, and bright outside, and Bill was worried about the dogs. So we came home. We had a good time, though, even if we were near an American lady who was very loudly letting everyone know where she’s from. I guess eight years of life in Germany has made me sensitive to loud talking.

I did get a few videos of Bill, which also captured the guitar player. He was pretty good.

Don’t mind our silly banter. I have the best husband ever.

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Sundays

A little Sunday fest in Hofheim…

Our beautiful weather continued on Sunday, so Bill and I decided to take the Mini out again. We had several appealing options for places to go. The cute town of Ingelheim am Rhein was hosting the Hamburger Fischmarkt, which is an annual tour the Hamburg Fischmarkt does most years. It was canceled in 2020 and 2021, but it’s back again. Ingelheim was going to have it for the weekend, so I thought maybe we could go to that. But then I remembered going to that market in Stuttgart and recalling that it gets pretty crowded. Since I’m still getting over a cold, I’d rather not be around a bunch of people.

Then we thought maybe we’d go to Wiesbaden and find a restaurant for lunch. But as we were driving out of Breckenheim, I remembered that Hofheim was having a flea market. We decided to go there instead. I can’t tell you too much about the fest itself, since we got there a little late. They had live music, a fire engine display, food, and lots of performers on stilts walking around Hofheim. It was also a shopping Sunday, so a number of stores were open– a rare thing on Sundays in Germany. We enjoyed what we heard of the band, which was finishing up as we arrived. I managed to get a minute of footage, posted below.

After we walked around a bit and ran into a balloon animal making children’s performer with an organ grinder, we decided to have lunch at Cafe Tass, a place we’d never tried before. The food was pretty good, if the service was a little casual. Bill tried speaking German as he was telling the server which dressing he wanted for his salad. The server immediately switched to English! Sigh… such is life. That’s why I kind of gave up on trying to learn German.

We didn’t stay too long, because it was hot and sunny, and we’re very white people… Hofheim doesn’t have the lovely grove of oak tries Eltville has by the river. But it was nice to get out for awhile, and while we were eating lunch, the band came over and had rumpsteaks. A guy came over to them and asked in German where they were playing next. They said Bayern (Bavaria). They were a pretty decent band, singing songs in German and Italian.

I also observed a lot of people smoking and vaping, including a couple of young ladies sitting near us. They shared a vegetarian Flammkuechen (Alsatian pizza). I don’t mind vaping as much as cigarette smoke, which came from the people sitting behind Bill. But, other than the air pollution, it was a nice lunch. I had gyros, which came with t’zatziki, rice, and pommes. Bill had a summer shrimp salad with yogurt dressing. I couldn’t finish my lunch, so we brought half of it home with us. I’m glad “doggie bags” are more of a thing in Germany now. Lunch was less than 40 euros.

I actually got choked up with how happy people were during the fest, enjoying the music, dancing, and just being good to each other. What a sharp contrast to the image I get of the United States, as people continue to fight over basic human rights for women. I felt very grateful to be part of the celebration yesterday… and I have so much love for Germany, which is feeling more and more like home, even if it really isn’t. I’m grateful I get to live here.

Below is a cute children’s performer singing, playing his organ grinder, and entertaining everyone!

Below are some photos from yesterday’s outing. It was a beautiful day!