holidays

Our International Thanksgiving…

Since we moved to Germany in 2014, our Thanksgiving celebrations have been decidedly less traditional. There’s only two of us, and we have small German appliances, so it hardly makes sense to roast a turkey. Yes, I know we could just do a breast, but I like dark meat. I think in 2020, we ordered a Thanksgiving feast from a local restaurant that was obviously catering to Americans. Otherwise, we’ll often go out to eat somewhere, since it’s not a holiday in Germany, or we’ll have something more mundane.

This year, Bill’s co-worker invited us over for Thanksgiving. I almost didn’t go with Bill, because I expected a couple of important packages. The one I was most worried about showed up in the morning. I was also waiting for dog food, which we really need. Sure enough, it showed up after we left. It’s sitting at our neighbor’s house as I write this. I’m surprised they didn’t just leave it on the stoop, like they usually do.

Bill’s friend’s house is enormous and beautiful, with charming, traditional accents, as well as the amazing international furniture one tends to find when one lives abroad for many years. My mom also collected some beautiful pieces when we lived in England. I inherited a couple of pieces, but they’re in storage.

Bill’s co-workers have a living room with a gorgeous view of the village, a large dining room, a terrace, and a lovely front lawn. I was there one other time, and had occasion to use one of the bathrooms in another part of the house. I even spotted an indoor pool! They had it covered up. Bill and I haven’t had a chance to buy a lot of nice furniture. Maybe someday, we’ll get lucky and acquire some, although now that I’m half a century old, it seems almost pointless. For instance, I always wanted to buy a home of my own, but now it seems like a bad idea, as Bill talks about permanently retiring. A house seems like something a person should buy when they’re young.

As nice as our house is, and as high as our rent is, my guess is that Bill’s friends are paying even more… But it seems fitting, as they have enough furniture to fill their home, and the furniture they have is good quality. We have a bunch of stuff that could be right at home in a college dormitory. I have to admit it. I was coveting their house, even as I realize that I’m allergic to dusting, and if I had a house that nice with lovely furniture in it, it would be cluttered in a heartbeat.

We had a very convivial group last night. Several of the guys were folks Bill knew early in his Army career, back in the era of Desert Storm. Now, several of them have managed to land in Wiesbaden, where they can talk about old times, sometimes to hilarious effect. One of the guys brought his huge dog, a female Hungarian street dog who weighs about 150 pounds. He said she can’t be left alone with his other two dogs, who are also from the streets of Eastern Europe. We bonded over our street dogs from Eastern Europe, as Bill and I have Noyzi, from Kosovo (and Arran, of course). The guy also has horses, which was another reason for us to bond. I spent most of my childhood in a barn. It’s probably obvious to some people.

An enormous street dog from Hungary who was bred to fight wolves. Her name is Ki (pronounced “key”) Oma.

Ki Oma was very sweet and friendly, but apparently she wants to fight other dogs. So she gets to travel a lot. Her master actually bought a van so he could transport her more easily. We were commiserating, as I drive a Mini Cooper and we can’t get Noyzi, our enormous street dog, into the back of that.

Another couple brought their dog, a very sweet shepherd named Izzy. She and Ki Oma didn’t interact, so there wasn’t any fighting.

It was really nice to hang out with people last night. I enjoy Bill’s friends/co-workers. Hopefully, I didn’t turn anyone off too much. Two of the guys brought their wives—one was from France, and the other was German. And one of the guys was, himself, half German. Two of them were even born in the same hospital in Stuttgart! It’s plain to see how long Americans have been living in Germany. There’s a very long history, and quite a lot of Americans are actually half German, too. Some have managed to find themselves making a home here, instead of our chaotic homeland.

At one point, we were talking about Mormonism, and the French lady was fascinated. She seemed okay with giving up alcohol, tea, and coffee… but maybe might have drawn the line at the temple garments (special underwear) required for the ultra faithful who have taken out their endowments. It probably wasn’t the most appropriate dinner conversation… but then it devolved into war stories, most of which were hilarious.

Bill and his buddies from way back… I had to take a photo so I could share it with another one of the gang who wasn’t there… He became Facebook friends with me because of a mutual friend. I knew the mutual friend from college, and he knew him from the Army, and he knew Bill from being in this cohort of Desert Storm veterans (although Bill didn’t fight in Desert Storm). The world is very small when you come from a military friendly state like Virginia.

We ended the evening with a photo of the four guys who spent time in Germany in the late 80s, early 90s. It was great to see everyone so happy and healthy. I’m grateful to be here, and I was grateful for the invitation last night. It was a lot of good food, good conversation, and bonding. A fun and festive time was had by all.

When we got home, we found that Arran hadn’t invaded the basement, like he did when we saw James Taylor. But he did tear up the box that held our pizza stone. I feel like he’s been regressing since he’s been getting chemo… acting like he’s 5 years old again. But then he makes up with us in the most adorable way. Noyzi, as usual, stayed out of trouble and camped out in his room.

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holidays

Pumpkin project!

Yesterday, since it was cloudy, Bill went to the local market to pick up some pumpkins. We have new German neighbors who have small children and they asked us to celebrate Halloween this year. So we obliged, although it wasn’t easy to find pumpkins. Halloween is becoming more and more popular in Germany, especially in areas were a lot of Americans live. Bil had to go to three stores to find suitable pumpkins for carving. The local farm near us was having a corn maze/Halloween fest, so he thought he might get lucky there. But there was nowhere to park! All the kids were celebrating Halloween!

I remember our first year in Germany, back in 2007. We were living in a hotel on Halloween, although it was our last night there, as we moved into our first German house on November 1. The following year, we had people ring our doorbell, but since we didn’t know if Germans celebrated Halloween, we were completely unprepared. Then in 2009, we had to move back to the States prematurely.

In 2014, we came back to Germany and lived in Jettingen. That year, we had candy, although I’m not sure if we carved a pumpkin. A pair of German teen boys in rather lame costumes rang our bell. That was it for trick or treaters. Ever since then, if we’ve been home, we have candy just in case, but we don’t usually bother with jack o’lanterns. Last year, we were Croatia on Halloween, which was a marvelous place to be. Croatia in the fall is glorious, as you can see here.

Anyway, below are some photos of our pumpkin project. I think they turned out okay. Bill is going to go get some American candy, and hopefully our neighbors will ring the doorbell tomorrow night. Otherwise, I’ll end up doing what I do every year for Halloween, and eat all the candy myself. God knows, I don’t need to be doing that! Our jack o’lanterns aren’t very menacing. I’m not that good at pumpkin carving.

We have pretty nice weather today. The sun is out, and it’s not too cold. We probably ought to go out and do something fun, but Bill is still resting up after his bout with COVID. Except for a little fatigue, he’s fine now, and will be headed back to in person work tomorrow. Meanwhile, our sweet Arran continues to improve on the medication he’s getting for lymphoma. Yesterday, he even started jumping on the bed again. The chemo regimen is obviously doing some good for him as he enjoys what will probably be his last fall season. We continue to cherish our time with him and marvel at what a trouper he is. I’m grateful that we’ll be able to enjoy his company for a little bit longer.

Today is also the first day of standard time. Next week, everybody in the States who change the clocks will be moving their clocks back, too. I think if we have to change the clocks, it’s better to do it before Halloween. That way, it’s dark enough for a proper Trick or Treat experience. That’s how it was when I was a kid, anyway.

Anyway, if you celebrate, Happy Halloween!

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Germany, holidays, restaurant reviews, takeout

Takeout Easter from Little Italy of Wiesbaden!

When Bill and I first discovered Wiesbaden in 2018, we found Little Italy, which is a tiny Italian place in the downtown area. From our first visit, in October 2018, we were warmly welcomed at this place, which has a very friendly manager who speaks perfect English. Before COVID-19 struck, we were semi regulars at this restaurant, especially on Sundays at lunchtime.

Unfortunately, vaccine rollout has been very slow in Germany. We’re still kind of on lockdown. Fortunately, we were spared the “hard lockdown” Chancellor Angela Merkle wanted to impose over the Easter holiday, but things are still pretty much closed all over the place. It really sucks and I’m tired of it. But at least I’m not sick.

Anyway, the other day, Bill noticed that Little Italy was offering a special holiday menu for Easter. Since it’s been months since we last visited this restaurant, we decided to order for Easter. It wasn’t really for the holiday, per se. Bill and I are not very religious at all. But this was a good excuse to have some professionally prepared food. Below is a screenshot of Little Italy’s Easter menu, priced at 45,90 euros per person.

Bill loves lamb. I don’t care for it, so I was happy to see they were offering a filet of sole roulade. We both like duck, so the duck carpaccio antipasto was a hit. I am also a fan of profiteroles. He sent off an email order to the manager, who confirmed quickly.

This afternoon, when Bill went to downtown Wiesbaden to pick up our order, he encountered pretty tough parking… It seems that despite the lockdown and Mrs. Merkle’s pleas for everyone to stay home, a lot of people were walking around the city center. Consequently, parking was in short supply. Luckily, the folks at Little Italy had everything packed up nicely. Bill said when he went into the restaurant to get our food, the manager had his phone and was glad to see him. I think he was getting ready to call Bill to see if/when he was coming!

Below are some photos from our Easter repast, which was a very nice and welcome change of pace. The dogs thought so, too… I only wish we could have enjoyed it in person. But Bill broke out the wedding china and silverware and all was lovely, even if the Beastie Boys were playing over the HomePod at one point.

The duck carpaccio was surprisingly good. It was served chilled, with a sundried tomato chutney that married beautifully with the duck breast. The duck was sliced thin, making it easy to enjoy. The portion size was generous. I think of the three courses, I liked the duck carpaccio the most.

Bill loved his lamb. I didn’t try it because I don’t care for lamb. But he also mentioned loving the potatoes, and he has some left for tomorrow’s lunch. Likewise, I managed two of the filet of sole roulades, generously stuffed with spinach cooked to perfection with almonds and Parmesan cheese. I enjoyed the way this was presented, with the garlic risotto and cherry tomatoes. It was excellent. Little Italy also sent along some homemade bread, but Bill forgot to put out the bread plates.

I love profiteroles. This dessert was good, but it could have been better. For one thing, I’m pretty sure the chocolate sauce was good old Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. I remember it well from my childhood. The pastry was tasty, but nothing extraordinary. I have had better… but for the price and convenience, I’m not complaining. I know if we were dining at the restaurant itself, we would have probably had something that doesn’t travel so easily, yet was a bit more impressive.

I’m really hoping that COVID-19 restrictions will loosen up soon. I am so tired of being locked down. I want to get out and do things again. But today’s Easter meal was a nice reminder of what’s to come when the virus is finally beaten into submission… and trust me, it will be. This isn’t the first pandemic. It just feels like it to us.

Anyway, many thanks to Little Italy for yet another nice Sunday meal, and to Bill for ordering it, paying for it, and picking it up. He even did the plating. I found myself a real keeper… And I hope that soon, we can go back to enjoying restaurants in person instead of just at home.

For us, Easter will always be meaningful, not just because it’s the day Christ rose from the grave, but also because it’s the day his ex wife delivered divorce papers while they were visiting Bill’s dad’s house in 2000. She wasn’t expecting Bill would agree to the split, but he did… and twenty-one years later, he’s living a sweet life. So Happy Easter, everybody! I hope you had a great day!

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German culture, Germany, holidays

Karim’s Brasserie for New Year’s Eve!

Well, we made it. 2020 is over. We had a pretty typical New Year’s Eve, except we didn’t have as many fireworks. One thing we did this year that we don’t usually do was order dinner. As a matter of fact, in 2020, we ordered takeout on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. It’s not unusual for us to dine out on Thanksgiving, but we usually cook on the other days. This year, we decided we preferred to help out the local restaurants and spare ourselves from cooking and cleaning.

For New Year’s Eve, we went a bit more casual and didn’t break out the china. Karim’s Brasserie, a Moroccan restaurant in Wiesbaden, was offering a New Year’s Eve menu. They had a couple of options available– chicken or lamb. Bill likes lamb, but I don’t, so we went with chicken. For 36,50 per person, we could eat for days. Seriously, they really loaded us up with great food! Here are some photos!

We started at about 7:00pm with the appetizers. I was, of course, very familiar with the hummus, since we are big fans of it. Karim’s version was very light and creamy, yet delicately flavorful. The Zaalouk, otherwise known as Moroccan eggplant salad, was a nice change of pace for us, since we rarely eat eggplant. Neither Bill nor I are big fans of eggplant, but this was pretty good. Bill loved the Moroccan carrot salad, which was slightly sweet and offered a contrast to the spicy M’hammara, paprika cream with pomegranate syrup and walnuts. Bill especially loved the M’hammara. He likes spicy foods. The Laban by Khyar was basically a Moroccan version of t’zaziki. It consists of yogurt, cucumbers, and mint.

The chicken was delicious! It was very tender and juicy, and fell right off the bone! It was such a pleasure to try it prepared in a different way. There was a time when Bill wouldn’t eat apricots because they are supposedly bad luck for “tankers”, which is what Bill was when he was in the Army back in the early days. I love apricots, having gotten acquainted with them in Armenia, where they are very popular and delicious! They went so well with the chicken! Glad we have leftovers!

After a bit of time digesting, we tried the desserts– typically nutty and fruity, but not too sweet or heavy. It was a good way to end a fabulous New Year’s Eve repast. We will be grazing on the leftovers for days. I think we got a lot for our 73 euros. I look forward to the day when we can dine at restaurants again. Bill and I ate at Karim’s Brasserie once when we were moving to Wiesbaden and liked the food very much. We probably ought to go there more often, or at least get takeout. This was a great change of pace for us. I think it was my favorite of all three of our holiday takeout meals of 2020.

I learned about a German tradition yesterday when someone in the Pets of Wiesbaden Facebook group posted that they had come into possession of a female piglet who was wandering around Clay Kaserne, one of the two U.S. military installations in Wiesbaden. I had never heard this before, but apparently in Germany, it’s good luck to encounter a pig on New Year’s Eve. Typically, Germans give out pigs made of marzipan with a penny or a four leaf clover in its mouth. Alternatively, sometimes people put a freshly washed piglet in a basket and pass it around. Anyone who touches it will have good luck and a “happy year”.

I can’t be sure, but it sounds like the piglet who was found yesterday might have been intended to participate in this custom and somehow escaped. She was found on the Army post and advertised on Facebook, as none of the surrounding farms would claim her. Eventually her rescuers found her a farm to go to. I’m not absolutely sure, but it sounds like she’s headed to a sanctuary. I sure hope so, anyway. Anyway, a lot of people got a kick out of seeing her, and I learned something new. I’m sure the military police are now checking the fence around Clay Kaserne to see if there are any breeches. It’s more likely someone brought her on post, but it’s possible there’s a hole somewhere.

According to the link I shared earlier in this post, we violated German tradition by having chicken on New Year’s Eve. Evidently, it’s verboten to eat poultry in Germany, due to a very old superstition. However, people in the Rhein area apparently didn’t get the message, as a lot of people do eat goose on New Years’s. I am not in the habit of eating goose, anyway… but I never turn down chicken unless it’s prepared with the food I never eat– mushrooms.

Toward the end of the evening– later than he’d intended, since he’d forgotten– Bill called his mom and we visited on Skype. It was great to talk to her. I also chatted with a cousin. I probably should call my mom today, too.

Bill brought our landlords champagne and a bag of lentils, which are also considered good luck/good health promotion on New Year’s in Germany. We had a very short fireworks show that lasted about twenty minutes, since fireworks weren’t on sale this year due to COVID-19. It suited us fine, since Bill was struggling to stay awake. We also had some snow, although it was all melted by the time we got up today. It was kind of strange watching fireworks go off as it snowed. This morning, we slept in… it was the first time in a long time I woke up after sunrise!

So far, 2021 is off to a good start. I pray that it’s a better year than 2020 was! Happy New Year, everybody! Keep the faith, and stay healthy and sane!

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advice, dogs, Germany, takeout

“Be welcome here…”

Tomorrow, Bill and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. Normally, we travel for our anniversary. This year, we can’t go anywhere, thanks to COVID-19. I decided to buy a few new attachments for the air fryer I purchased at the beginning of the pandemic. We don’t use it very often, in part, because the noise from it seems to bother Arran somewhat. But we have discovered that we can use it in the laundry room and Arran doesn’t mind.

Last night, Bill made air fryer brownies that turned out great. This morning, we had a sausage, egg, spinach, sun dried tomato and cheese casserole made in the air fryer. Noyzi is getting braver and now hovers near me at mealtimes, hoping I’ll share with him. I don’t mind doing that because he’s so polite, and it does help him be less fearful.

After breakfast and starting another load of laundry, Bill and I put leashes on Arran and Noyzi and started on our walk. The sun is shining and the temperature is mild. It’s the perfect day to enjoy fall weather. As we were heading down the “Weg” to the main drag, a tall, slim, older German woman approached. She was wearing black slacks, a purple blouse, and a big black sweater. I noticed she also wore black gloves. Bill and I had just been talking about how Germans seem to bundle up a lot more than we do, even when the weather is nice.

I noticed the woman’s face as she looked at Noyzi, who is a very handsome and striking specimen. Noyzi was shying away from her noticeably. He was nervous enough that he dropped a single nugget of poop, but then he calmed down while Arran hung nearby, eager to keep walking. I fought the urge to pick up the poop as the German woman started talking to Bill. She quickly ascertained that we weren’t German when Bill opened his mouth to speak. She switched to careful, halting English, asking if we were the “new Americans”. It so happened that we were standing right next to a house that reportedly contains Americans. I guess native Breckenheimers talk about who’s who, and who’s new.

Bill explained that no, we weren’t “new” here. We moved to Breckenheim in late November 2018, and we live at the top of the hill. The woman wore no makeup. Her straight, silver hair was pulled into a ponytail. I don’t know how old she is. She appeared to be older than we are by some years, but she was very fit looking. In her hand, she held a bundle of some type of herb– perhaps thyme. I’m not sure, because I stood farther away from her than Bill did.

The woman didn’t wear a face mask. Neither did we. It’s probably a good thing, as she was very soft-spoken and I’m not sure we would have been as able to hear and understand her. She was very intent on sharing a message with us. She told Bill that today is a special worldwide holiday. She didn’t know how to say it in English. Bill thought maybe she meant it was like Remembrance Day, but having looked up holidays for November 15th, I don’t think so. I have no idea what she was talking about. She said it was a worldwide holiday, but is especially recognized in Europe. It was the first I’d heard of it after living here for several years.

Edited to add: My German friend Susanne tells me that today is Volkstrauertag (people’s day of mourning), and the lady was probably on her way to the cemetery or church, both of which we have in our area. I kept thinking maybe she was referring to Advent, but it’s a bit early for that. Volkstrauertag happens two weeks before Advent starts, and it commemorates members of the armed forces of all nations and civilians who died in armed conflicts, to include victims of violent oppression..

Regardless, of what the actual holiday is today (now I know– Volkstrauertag), she seemed very keen to talk to us about world peace. She spoke about how there’s no such thing as an enemy. We’re all people and we all deserve peace. Bill told her that he’d been to Iraq. I heard her say, “And you survived.”

She went on some more about having regard for our fellow man, avoiding war, and remembering those who died at war. And then, as she started to walk away, she said “Be welcome here.”

Bill turned to me and I could see the tears in his eyes. He was clearly moved. He said, “Well… that was a message.”

It’s not the first time we’ve run into someone who has imparted a message to us in an unusual way. Five years ago, I was stunned into peace and calm by a Buddhist monk we happened to run into at an Italian restaurant near Munich. It turned out he was a famous Japanese peace crusader named Toyoshige Sekiguchi. He was traveling the world, promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. I didn’t even speak to him, and yet he had a profound effect on me just by being who he is and being in my presence.

We lost Bill’s father a week ago and, naturally, Bill wasn’t able to attend his dad’s funeral on Friday. He was emotional about that last night. We spent some time talking and I was doing what I could to assuage his guilt and soothe his grief. He was still pensive and a little moody this morning. Perhaps that’s why got our special message as we walked the dog.

Bill is normally a very approachable person, but he was especially open-hearted today, which may have been why that woman felt the need to speak to us. Or maybe she stops everyone to talk about peace and loving everyone. It was a good message, though, and seemed kind of appropriate under the circumstances. Maybe she wanted to tell us her message because we represent Americans and most Americans around here are with the military. She might have thought Bill was a war monger, although he’s definitely not your stereotypical military man. In fact, I’d say Bill is not even like the typical guy. He’s unusually in touch with his feelings about most things. Maybe she figured we support Trump, though we definitely don’t.

I think a lot of people, with good reason, think that everyone in or affiliated with the military is a war monger. Most servicemembers I know want war less than anyone does. And anyone who knows Bill knows that he’s a gentle, caring, considerate, and kind man. I, on the other hand, graduate of social work and public health master’s programs and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, tend to be a bit feisty. Go figure that!

Anyway, we had a good walk. Noyzi has really come to love the daily walks. He still won’t let Bill put his leash on him, but he will let Bill walk him. And today, since I came along, I got a special treat in the form of butts. As I was putting on my shoes, Noyzi came up behind me and stuck his big nose right in my ass, as if he was greeting a new canine friend. Then, he came around as I was tying my laces, stuck his butt in my face, and backed up, swinging it side to side as if he wanted to use my nose to scratch his behind. He didn’t actually reach my nose, thank goodness, but he did seem to offer me his butt for sniffing. I guess he’s getting more comfortable here. I may have to teach him not to goose me in the ass when I’m tying my shoes, though.

A couple of nights ago, we ordered Greek takeout from Akropolis Restaurant in nearby Delkenheim. Bill wasn’t feeling like cooking, probably because he’d lost his dad and couldn’t go to the funeral. I was tickled because they sent him away with a small bottle of ouzo! I’ve had better gyros, but the rest of the food was pretty good. We had plenty leftover for lunch yesterday, too.

I wore my favorite dog walking shirt today. On the back, it says in German “Life is too short to drink shitty beer.” I was kind of glad it was covered up with a sweater today, after talking to that very deep and spiritual lady.

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Germany, Wiesbaden, wine

When the Wine Stand delivers…

One of the things we have up here in Wiesbaden that we didn’t have in Stuttgart is the bi-weekly wine stand. Starting in March and running through October, my community allows clubs to do fundraisers in which they sell wine and food to people who congregate in the Dorfplatz. Of course, this year, that’s not possible due to the coronavirus and the need for “social distancing”. They did have one wine stand in March, but Bill and I didn’t attend because the weather was terrible.

Last week, as I was walking Arran, I noticed a sign posted on the gate of our local restaurant, the Alt Breckenheimer Stübchen. That restaurant is within stumbling distance of our house, although we’ve only managed to eat there once, because it’s always packed.

Ten euros a bottle for wine we could have been drinking at the wine stand.

A local winery was advertising for their “wine stand”, which would have been held last night, since today is a holiday in Germany (Labor Day/May Day). Schools and businesses usually close and people take long walks. Some folks observe the night of April 30/May 1 as Witches or Walpurgis Night (WalpurgisnachtHexennacht). They light bonfires and prepare the Maypoles, which in some areas, people dance around to celebrate spring…

I have not seen this in person yet… but I liked the video made by the Reflections Enroute channel.

Well… sadly, none of this is happening this year. Even Germany’s beloved Oktoberfest in Munich has been cancelled, as has the Canstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart. And we’re not having wine stands with the local Breckenheimers, either. But Bill and I did get to try some rustic local wine, which we ordered after I saw the flyer advertising it at the Alt Breckenheimer Stübchen. Last night, two chilled bottles of white wine were brought to our home. We drank one of them, then switched to an Italian red.

Bill says he thinks this wine might be what’s known as a “Landwein”, which is basically wine made by farmers. They’re usually tasty, but kind of rustic. We went to a Landwein tasting a couple of years ago, when we still lived near Stuttgart. I know the people who delivered this yesterday live nearby and either bottle the wine or produce it. They held one of the wine stands at their place last year, but we didn’t attend that one. I think we might have been out of town.

This was pretty good. It had the slight taste of apricots.

The weather was kind of yucky yesterday anyway, so I doubt the wine stand would have been too popular even if we didn’t have the virus. I was glad to see the rain. We really need it.

The added bonus to the wine delivery was that I could listen to music and pee with ease. When we do the wine stands, we either pee at the Rathaus or at home. If we pee at home, we might as well stay there. I do miss the wine stands, though, because it’s a fun way to practice our terrible German and meet new people. I enjoy watching the neighbors who have known each other for years congregating and hanging out. I’d love to see this kind of thing in the United States… once we aren’t so worried about contagion.

Germany, by the way, is doing pretty well in the coronavirus fight. Well… it’s doing better than the United States is, anyway. I miss being able to go out to lunch and tour places… I definitely have the itch to travel and to get a new dog. But in our case, the lockdown isn’t so bad. At least Bill and I still like each other. I’m also getting pretty good at giving him haircuts.

I’m amazed by how weird things have become, but Germany is starting to loosen the restrictions somewhat. Hopefully, there won’t be a huge wave of infections, now that the playgrounds and churches are reopening. Not that Bill and I hang around those very often anymore…

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anecdotes

Visited by charming Kinder…

The doorbell just rang.  I was not expecting visitors, but decided to see who was knocking anyway.  I opened the door and was confronted by a man and several kids who appeared to be on the verge of adolescence.  I must have looked surprised and confused when I blurted out in English that I’m not German.  I’m sure it was obvious that I had stumbled across a custom with which I was not  previously familiar.

The man, who spoke decent English, piped up and said they were collecting for Three Kings Day.  I then got a closer look at the kids, who were dressed in colorful felt costumes.  Three of them were wearing crowns.  Their leader explained that they would recite verses for me in German and then sing a song.  I consented; they performed; and I gave them a five euro donation.  Then the guy wrote in chalk over the door which supposedly means that anyone who passes through will be blessed by God.  I’m supposed to leave the sign up all year… or at least until the next rainstorm.

We are blessed!

Despite having been raised Presbyterian, I’m not sure I believe too much in religion; but I do have to admit that the kids put on a very cute performance.  And it beats being visited by Mormons, JWs, or aggressive frozen food salespeople.  I’m not sure the kids were all that into it, though… It’s cold outside and they were probably kind of embarrassed.  Public speaking is hard enough.  Singing is also hard to do.  I noticed the girl standing in front was holding a staff with a star on top.  Obviously, the lines were written on the back of the star, because I could see one of the kids in the back reading aloud from it.

I don’t usually appreciate uninvited visitors, but I am definitely smiling now.  The Three Kings Day visitors were very charming.  And it also gives me something else to write about on my “blahg”.  Some of my Facebook friends who read this will understand exactly what I’m referring to when I write “blahg” instead of blog.

For more on Three Kings Day in Germany, check out this Toytown Germany link.  I now have a “blessed” house, which is a nice thing.  My German friend, Susanne, says Three Kings Day is a Catholic thing and they usually only do the Three Kings Day collection for parishoners.  Also, Three Kings Day is only a holiday in Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg, and Saxony-Anhalt.  I have lived in Germany for a total of four Januarys and this was the first time I ever encountered anyone collecting for Three Kings Day.

My landlady is a Catholic from Bavaria, so I guess they must have thought she still lived here.  Life in Germany is so mysterious sometimes.  Yesterday, Bill and I were called “fuckface” while walking to The Auld Rogue.  Today, our house has been blessed by God.  Go figure.

ETA:  I happen to be wearing a t-shirt today that says in German “Life is too short to drink shitty beer.” I wonder if anyone saw it.

You can get one of these at SaintObnoxious.com…  

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