anecdotes, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, housekeeping tips

A pretty dull week…

It’s been seven days since my last post on this blog. I haven’t written because I haven’t had too much to write about this week. We had extremely cold weather last week. It lasted until Monday, when the snow we got last week turned into black ice. Sure enough, I slipped and fell on my ass, bruising my left buttcheek. Since I also did something to my right hip, that was an even less welcome development than it might have otherwise been. My butt recovered after a day, but my right hip is still painful. I might even have to break down and see a doctor about it.

Arran had his latest chemo treatment last night. He’s now in the second phase of his treatment. Bill took him in, and said the vet was impressed by Arran’s resilience. He is still doing very well. I think she thought maybe he wouldn’t take to chemo, because of his age, and because he was getting sick when we got his first treatment. His red blood cells have improved, while his white blood cells are still elevated. But they would be elevated anyway, due to the treatments. Because he’s in the second phase of chemo, he doesn’t take as much medication. He goes to the vet every other week for IV push meds, and takes less of the Endoxan (chemo pill). However, he’s still on Prednisolone, which makes him more of a stinker than usual.

We have plans to go Villa Im Tal on the afternoon of the 26th. It’s one of our favorite fine dining restaurants. I look forward to it, although I worry that Arran will try to break into the basement while we’re gone. He’s regressed in his behavior since he started chemo. I ordered a new gate– one that’s sturdier and taller– to try to prevent him from invading the basement. Other than that, he’s mostly himself… taking walks, eating like a champ, sleeping, cuddling, and being cute. We’re really cherishing this time with him.

We had a new dishwasher installed yesterday. The old one was twelve years old and broke. I’m glad we got both things done before Christmas, which is pretty much going to shut everything down for a few days. Our landlord is slowly but surely upgrading our house. He says he wants to install new windows and a heat pump, too. As he was leaving yesterday, he asked Bill if we needed more wood for the fireplace or salt for the dishwasher. We’re fine, but it’s nice to have a landlord who cares about our well-being and happiness. I’m sure he likes having the house occupied, and after four years with us, he knows we won’t disturb him unless it’s really necessary.

Getting new windows will be like deja vu, since new windows were installed in our last house as we were moving in. It was kind of a painful process, but the windows were really nice. Maybe we’ll get electric shutters, too. 😉 Ex landlady put in electric shutters on the windows in the living room. They were very nice, but sometimes they didn’t work properly. She also lectured us about not losing the remote control, which of course we didn’t. That was probably one of the only things we did right in that house. :eyeroll:

Other than that, it’s been a pretty boring week. Although January and February can be pretty bleak in Germany, I kind of look forward to being done with the Christmas season. It’s so dark over here during this time of year. And because I don’t really want to leave Arran alone unless it’s necessary, I’ve been a bit “fun deprived” lately. With more light and warmth, we might be able to take him with us more often.

The only other thing that happened this week was our neighbor had a bunch of us over for Gluhwein. It was frigid outside, so when we came back into the house, I ordered a new parka. It probably won’t get used much, but it might be the last parka I will ever buy. Oh… and my neighbor thought I was an 80s baby, which was a nice compliment. I am very much a card carrying member of Generation X, though… born in the 70s.

Breckenheim sure is a friendly little village. It’s a lot of fun to bond with the neighbors. Funny enough, several of the ones who live near us are from Baden-Württemberg! They seem to like Hessen more. It’s probably because there’s wine… and people are a little warmer. I do miss the beautiful sights down in BW, though. It will always have a piece of my heart. 

The featured photo is of Arran near our wine barrel table. He was obsessed with the framed photo of my husband’s daughter’s family, because it smelled like the treats she sent in a box to us!

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markets

Weekly market in the dark…

Yesterday was Thursday, so that meant the weekly market was going on in the Dorfplatz. I also neglected to walk the dogs yesterday morning, mainly because the weather was so cold and damp. When Bill got home from work, we decided to see what was being offered at Breckenheim’s weekly market.

The weekly market is a new thing. It started in September, and now that Daylight Savings Time is over, it now runs partly in the dark. Every Thursday, the market starts at 1:00pm and closes at 6:00pm. Bill doesn’t get home until about 5:00, so now when we venture out to the market to shop for produce and local goodies, we have to do it in the dark. Last night, we brought Arran and Noyzi with us, because we didn’t feel like “Arran proofing” the house, to prevent him from raiding anything remotely resembling food while we were out.

Last night’s market was pretty sparsely attended. Or, at least there weren’t many people there by the time we got there. Bill ended up buying some shrimp and scallops from a fish monger who shows up regularly. We also enjoyed a glass of Riesling.

While we were having wine, we ran into an American neighbor, who was down there with her two kids. Meanwhile, Arran was insistently trying to get under one of the benches. Someone had dropped some bread there, and he desperately wanted to eat it. In spite of his age and cancer diagnosis, Arran is surprisingly strong and, when it comes to food, he’s very determined. When I told him “no”, he started to loudly and indignantly howl, causing the locals to laugh at him. I suppose that’s better than the scowls we usually got in Baden-Württemberg, whenever Arran or our sweet Zane (RIP) would misbehave in public.

Our neighbor had new running shoes and wanted to take a quick jog in them, so she basically told her son to hang out with us. She wasn’t gone long, but we were reminded of an incident that happened to us on a train to Nice, back in 2014. Basically, we (really Bill) got tasked to watch a single mom’s child on the train for a few hours. That was a bit strange, as the woman was a perfect stranger. Last night’s encounter wasn’t really, since our neighbor was only gone for about fifteen minutes and we had met her before. It was the first time I had ever talked to her son, though… a very bright, polite, and adorable eight year old chap. After his mom came back, he came over to us and said, “I’m going to go over there, if you don’t mind.” Hilarious!

His mom laughed and said, “I guess he really thought you were watching him.” I guess he did, since she told him to stay with us! But it was not a big deal. She was back before we were halfway done with our wine.

We had a brief chat with our neighbor, and then our landlord came up and said hello. Noyzi was pretty nervous at first, but then he submitted to petting by a couple of people. I could tell he was delighted, as his little stubby tail was going a mile a minute. Yes, indeed… I think that eventually, Noyzi will be less nervous around people and he’ll be able to join us when we’re out and about. He doesn’t bugle like Arran does. Arran likes people, but he gets tired when he’s out. He’s also loud when he wants to complain about something. Noyzi genuinely loves people, especially women. He’s just been traumatized by abuse in his past. He’s also a street dog, and they’re stealthy.

Once we finished our Rieslings, we went back home and had biscuits and gravy for dinner. Bill had a date with his Jungian therapist, while I did some Christmas shopping. A good night was had by all.

Again… I love this about living here– weekly markets, getting to know our neighbors, and bonding over dogs and wine. I suppose that could happen in the USA, but our neighborhoods aren’t usually as perfect for this kind of community fellowship. I’m glad we’ve been able to experience this… and I’m so glad we moved to Wiesbaden.

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art

Artists of Breckenheim!

Bill and I just got back from the BRECKOMENTA event at the local clubhouse, a place we had never been before. I let Bill lead the way, and unfortunately, he got the wrong address, which meant we had to walk further. I wore new shoes, so this wasn’t a pleasant turn of events. Nevertheless, we did eventually get there, having taken a longer than necessary route. The club house is on the back side of the fire station, and the complex itself is near the walking trails we never visit.

I got some photos, and we were exposed to some of excellent works of local artists. The art was very interesting and, in at least one case, quite sexual.

After we looked at the art, we visited the snack bar… because what German event doesn’t have one? Our neighbor was running it, and we had a rather lengthy German chat with her about the neighborhood. She did joke that they didn’t have any “house made” beer. Our new neighbor told her that Bill makes his own beer. Actually, they had no beer at all. This is wine country! So we had wine.

Our neighbor told us about other Americans who have lived in our little cul de sac, as we drank local wines and ate pretzels. I noticed some of the works were for sale… I seriously might have been tempted, since I’ve been wanting to buy some more art for the house. Maybe we’ll go back tomorrow, since the event continues tomorrow until 6pm.

The really nice part is that we ended up walking to parts of Breckenheim we hadn’t seen, even having lived here for almost four years. And we finally found the cool little bee bomb vending machines that I posted about a few months ago.

I am impressed by our landlady’s art. I had no idea she was so talented!

The first photos are of self service commerce in our little town. we would have missed the first one, if Bill hadn’t taken us on a detour. The art is all done by local citizens in our village.

There was everything from sculptures to Bonsai trees, with jewelry, photography, paintings, and drawings. A couple of people were even drawing and sketching in the exhibition. On the way home, we noticed the JWs left a gift on the Bee Bomb vending machine. I also got a couple of shots of the church from the other side. The town manager was at the art event, and chuckled when he heard me successfully translate the word “gleich”. I get the sense they know us as the Americans, now, even though we aren’t the only ones.

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holidays

12 confused German kids in costumes…

Well, Halloween has come and gone, and this year, we actually celebrated. One of our new neighbors had asked us to participate in Halloween because she and her husband have young children. However, even though we carved jack o’lanterns, lit them with candles, and turned on our lights, that neighbor didn’t visit us. I’m not sure why she didn’t, but it was okay, because we got visits from other neighborhood children.

The first ones showed up in a group of three at about 6pm. They didn’t ring the doorbell, but I could see them because we have glass panels by our front door. Bill met them at the door and said they looked utterly shocked when he offered them candy. They didn’t say a word as Bill gave them Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s bars, Hershey’s Almond Chocolate Kisses, and Dove Minis. I could see two teenagers with them who looked quite amused and delighted. One of them laughed when he asked if they wanted any candy.

The next group of three showed up a little while later. They didn’t ring the doorbell either, but did manage to say “Süß oder Sauer!” (sweet or sour, the German version of “Trick or Treat!”) I didn’t mind that they didn’t ring the bell, since it would only make the dogs freak out.

A couple of bigger kids came by, and I heard one of them quite confidently explain to Bill in German that they weren’t sure if anyone was going to have candy since this isn’t really something that is done in Germany. I have a feeling that it’s going to catch on, though. At about 4:00, I noticed a group of costume clad children heading down the hill from our house. I figured maybe they were going to a party. I have noticed more Halloween themed stuff this year as opposed to other years, and the kids that were participating were clearly enjoying themselves.

Then the Italian couple across from our house came over with their child. Bill gave him Kisses and Minis, but astutely noticed the child eyeing one of the full sized Hershey Bars. Bill gave him one of those. I noticed the peanut butter cups were popular, probably because they aren’t widely available in German stores. I never hear so much about peanut allergies here, either. Personally, I think German chocolate is a lot better than American chocolate is, but kids love novel stuff.

One other thing I noticed is that most of the participants either had very small bags for collecting candy or no bag at all! But then, I also noticed that they didn’t have a lot of candy, either. We might have been among the very few houses passing out sweets!

I’m quite pleased with the turnout from last night. There have been years when we’ve lived in America and gotten just slammed with kids, and other years when we’ve lived in rural areas and gotten no one at all. One year, when we lived in Germany the first time, we got kids, but had no candy. Another year, we had candy, but only got a visit from two teenaged boys who looked like they were dressed as their drunk uncles. This year, we had a nice number of local children, all of whom were in the spirit of things in their costumes and very appreciative that we gave them candy. I almost felt like it was an international relations act of goodwill. See? Americans aren’t all bad. 😉

If we’re still here next year, maybe we’ll decorate more, so the kids who participate won’t be so shy. I might even put on a costume myself… or maybe I’ll just wear my Dirndl. We turned off the porch light at about 8:45, and we still have candy leftover. But at least this year, we did manage to give some away, which is a good thing. My ass doesn’t need more presents.

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customs

New neighbors clue me in to a German tradition I had never heard of…

Bill had to go out of town on business, so I’m spending most of the week alone. We got a bunch of Amazon deliveries yesterday– a new spool for the weed whacker, dog food for Noyzi, contact lenses for me, and two bottles of liqueurs that I was curious about trying. I thought I was finished answering the door when the bell rang again. I will admit, I was a little annoyed, mainly because I wasn’t wearing clothes that people outside of the household should see. But I answered the doorbell anyway…

It was our neighbors-to-be, whom we met on Friday night– mom, dad, and two young children. They were all dressed up, and the wife was holding a plate with what appeared to be a piece of bread on it. She said, in her heavily accented and somewhat broken English (which is still much better than my German any day), that yesterday was the first day of school, and it’s a tradition for sweet “Brezels” to be served for good luck. I think she also said that it was tradition to share the treat with a neighbor, and originally she had described what looked like a yeast bread as “cake”.

In ten years of living in Germany, this has never happened to me before, so I was unaware of the custom, but I was very moved by the gesture, nonetheless. Especially since they are going to be our neighbors as of next month! I did enjoy talking to them at our party the other day, mainly because she was born and raised in the Stuttgart area and had some rather candid opinions about her hometown that I found amusing. Let’s just say that she has the same impressions of the Swabian culture that a lot of people seem to have, and she prefers living in Hesse. Personally, I really like the Stuttgart area, but I have to agree that Hessians are stereotypically friendlier.

She presented the piece of “Brezel” to me on a lovely plate. I asked her what I should do with the plate when we were finished with it. She said I could return it when they move in next month. I am enjoying the Brezel bread for breakfast today, with my coffee. I thought it had raisins in it, too, but now that I’ve tasted it, I think they’re chocolate chips! Even better!

I posted about this surprise gift on Facebook, and my German friend– also hailing from Baden-Württemberg– was initially confused about the tradition herself. But then when I explained that the “cake” was actually Brezel, she wrote “alles klar”, and explained that it‘s customary for sweet pretzels (Brezels) to be made for the new school year, and passed out to the kids. Usually, one only sees them at New Year’s, when they are made fresh and passed out to family and friends for good luck and cohesion. However, in some areas, they also make them for St. Martin’s Day, or for the new school year, which starts in September in these parts.

Here’s a video about the New Year’s Pretzel, which I guess is the same as the pretzel handed out yesterday.

My friend asked if the bread was braided, and I wrote that I couldn’t tell, as it was only a generous sized piece of the Brezel, and not a whole one. But after a few minutes of research, she was able to find the answer for me. Now that I think about it, I believe our new neighbor’s husband’s family– who is also going to be our neighbor– is from a bit north of Wiesbaden. He brought some special beer to the party that can only be found in that area, and he and Bill bonded over it.

One of the things I like about living in Europe is that there are a lot of surprises. Most of the time, they’re pleasant surprises, like the time we lived in Jettingen and I got serenaded by three kids dressed up for Three Kings Day. They were collecting money for the Catholic church, and they were so adorable I couldn’t resist giving them some spare euros. There’s always something going on here, and so many traditions. We’re also heading into my favorite time of year, when the summer heat dissipates, and the weather gets cozy. I can stop wearing my t-shirts and Daisy Duke shorts (which I can’t pull off worth a damn), and wear pretty sweaters, scarves, and jewelry.

Hopefully, this new family will turn out to be actual friends. So far, so good. The wife even laughed at my jokes… especially when I was talking about having to leave Stuttgart early the first time and said, “I was PIIISSSED…” Come to think of it, I was probably also “pissed”, in the British sense of the word, when I was telling that story… But it’s a good sign that she wasn’t offended. 😉

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Getting to know my German neighbors… after almost four years!

A couple of weeks ago, our next door neighbor, Uli, told Bill she was going to have a barbecue, and we were invited. At the time she made her invitation, we were thinking we might be going to see our dentist in Stuttgart. But we couldn’t arrange boarding for Arran and Noyzi, so we postponed our dental appointments until later this month. That freed us up to attend last night’s festivities.

I’ll be honest. I was a bit apprehensive about this event. You see, I’m not that great in groups. The older I get, the worse I seem to be. I tend to say more than I should. But Bill is a very friendly, jovial guy, and he wants to be neighborly. Plus, he just brewed some beer, and mentioned it, which automatically excited our hostess. Of course, the beer Bill makes, while very good, is not German style beer. He makes British style ale, mainly because the yeast required for lagers is more fragile than ale style yeast is. But, over the past twelve years or so, he’s gotten better at his craft. Maybe he’ll delve into making lagers eventually. I would like that.

I did tell Bill to go to the commissary and pick up some Bubba Burgers and American style burger buns for Uli. I know she likes them, and I have a feeling the people before us used to pick them up for her on occasion. Bill gave her the burgers and buns and she seemed quite delighted. Personally, I’m more of a fan of handmade burgers with German buns. But if Bubba Burgers help facilitate neighbor relations, I’m all for giving them out sometimes. Uli seemed surprised when we told her we don’t shop at the commissary very often. We prefer German markets.

We had a nice gathering of about twenty people, with plenty of food and libations. There were sausages, salads, a couple of burgers that Bill contributed and I was too full to eat, and breads. There was lots of wine and beer, including a few bottles of Bill’s brews. At the end of the evening, a lovely Italian man who lives across the street brought out a round of espresso and an Italian digestive. He gave Bill some homemade limoncello, too, and said he would teach him how to make it.

Noyzi and Arran complained loudly at first, but then we brought them outside to see what was going on. Arran was over it quickly. Noyzi was feeling friendly, but he still gets freaked out by people he doesn’t know. So after they came out for a few minutes, we brought them back inside. Our neighbor’s lab, Tommi, spent most of the evening being a host. He is adorable.

Our host’s English speaking mother, Margot, was also there. She lives in the house that borders ours on the other side. I have often seen her walking Tommi, but she told us she had to stop, because he’s too strong for her. Last summer, Tommi got away from her while I was walking our dogs. I happened to have an extra leash, because Noyzi was still pretty skittish. Tommi didn’t have a leash, so I was able to give Uli’s mom the extra one so she could capture her pooch. I even wrote about it, because last year, pandemic restrictions made travel blogging more challenging.

Margot said, “Your dogs make so much noise when you go out.”

Without missing a beat, I said, “Luckily, I almost never go out.”

Bill later mentioned that he thought that was a sign of progress. When we first came to Germany and people would remark about my dogs, I would get nervous and offended. I was still a little put off, but then I said, quite reasonably, that they are seldom alone. Moreover, I know they don’t bark the whole time we’re gone, because they’re never still barking when we get home. I don’t think they would necessarily know to shut up when we were driving up to the house. We do keep our outings short, though, precisely for that reason.

Later, Margot said she wanted to talk to me, simply because she says people ignore the elderly. I told her that I would love to talk to her, because I enjoy having conversations with older people. They always have interesting stories to share. She brightened quite a bit, and told us about what it was like in Breckenheim in 1945, when the US Army came in. She said the Germans all had to give up their homes for the soldiers, and her brother wasn’t allowed to live with her and her mom. They somehow got to stay in their house.

Now… consider that 1945 was World War II… and who was in charge at that time. Yes, I would love to talk to her about that era! I think it would be fascinating. And she said she wants to practice her English, which is already good. But she reminded us that if you don’t use it, you lose it. Then she chastised me for not speaking very much German. LOL… But if people want to speak English to me, how can I speak German? I do understand a lot more than I did in 2007, when we moved here the first time… and 2014, when we moved here the second time. However, I am more successful singing in German, than speaking it. 😉 That’s not saying much… although I really can sing quite well. It’s just that I can memorize the lyrics and learn to pronounce them without necessarily knowing what all the words mean, even though we did have to translate the foreign songs when I was studying voice. Margot also told us that she only drinks Grauburgunder wines. She doesn’t even like Rieslings. And beer is out!

Toward the end of the night, I think I kind of horrified Uli, when I told her that we had to sue our ex landlady. Although lawsuits in Germany are pretty common– in fact, I think Germans are more litigious than Americans are– they don’t seem to want to talk about them. Uli is a landlady, too, so this was probably something that made her blood run cold. She probably thinks I’m a little crazy, and I bet she tells our current landlord. But if he says anything about it, we’ll just tell him that he’s nothing at all like the ex landlady. He’s courteous, reasonable, and respectful, and he’s done things legally. Uli was probably just shocked that we knew about legal insurance (and liability insurance and pet liability insurance– all things that Americans really should buy in Germany)… but she shouldn’t be, because we’ve lived here a long time, we’re older, and she knows how much our house rents for. Of course we’d be smart to have legal insurance. We had to pay two month’s rent as a deposit. It was a lot of money.

The topic of suing came up, though, because the neighbor was showing off their kid’s school Tute, for the first day of school. Uli kept talking about how much she hated “suing”. I realized that she meant “sewing”. I was very confused at first! Then I confided that I don’t like sewing, either, even though my mom is a master at needlecrafts. I don’t have the patience or dexterity for it. Another lady talked about how her daughter spent the school year in Michigan, and got to attend the prom and football games. I said, that must have been very interesting for her, given how different American schools are. German schools don’t usually have school sponsored sports teams or big, fancy dances… or, at least that’s what I’ve heard. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

Anyway, we enjoyed hanging out last night, and meeting some of our neighbors. Uli’s new tenants are moving into their place in October. I especially enjoyed the wife, who hails from Böblingen, in Baden-Württemberg. She said that she taught math, and met her husband in Karlsruhe, while they were at the university. She likes Hesse better. She flat out said it, without any prompting. Why? Because people are much friendlier up here. It’s funny, because she’s not the first German, even from Baden-Württemberg, who has mentioned that Swabia is a very “special” part of Germany. But I actually like Baden-Württemberg very much, in spite of the different culture. It was the first part of Germany I really got to know, and it is legitimately a very beautiful place– even if Stuttgart is kind of a homely city. I look forward to going back down there at the end of the month.

Again… I’m not very good in groups. I speak my mind too much, and am not one for small talk. Some people love that about me. Other people hate it, and think I’m an obnoxious freak. And that’s why I have dogs. At least Tommi likes us… the featured photo is of him, knocking on our door. He doesn’t do it often, but when he does, it’s super cute. He also jumped up on Bill and gave him a big smooch, which seemed to horrify Uli. Yes, our dogs bark, but so does hers. And we keep ours on leashes, although we did talk about maybe letting Noyzi and Tommi play sometime. I think they’d love it. If we didn’t turn her off too much, maybe they’ll finally have the opportunity.

Uli says in a few months, we’ll have to share some Gluwein. That is, if the temperatures get low enough to enjoy it. We did get some rain today, which is a great thing. I’m not sure if we’ll venture out today. We were both kind of tired after last night’s festivities. Also… I don’t want my dogs to disturb the peace.

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Our neighborhood Flohmarkt (flea market)…

I had the idea that we’d go out today. I found a couple of interesting restaurants that I thought might be fun to try. But Bill decided to make cheese soufflés for breakfast, and that made our morning get off to a late start. Then I started watching DUI videos on YouTube, and those are always a laugh riot. CoronaWarn told me the other day that I got exposed to COVID in Eltville last weekend, anyway. I’m not sick, unless you count the residual crap from whatever it was I got in Belgium. I tested for COVID twice and both tests were negative, but one never knows…

Luckily, our neighborhood had a little something special going on, giving us the excuse to stay home so we could wander around and see something new. I noticed there was a beer trailer at the neighborhood church clubhouse, which is where our Wein Stands are being held right now as the new public toilet is being built in the Dorfplatz. People around our village were opening up their yards, selling their stuff, and there was also a refreshment stand, selling the usual beer, water, Schorle, and sodas, along with brats and stuff. This was the very first neighborhood “flea market” or Flohmarkt. According to the Kulturklub Breckenheim, there were over 60 participants! It was a success, so there will probably be another one.

Cool!

I love that our community has these events. Breckenheim is a much friendlier village than our other neighborhoods in BW were. I saw one girl selling what looked like a ton of plastic and glass model horses. Boy, when I was a lot younger, I would have coveted those! I saw a lot of people selling books, glassware, clothes, CDs, toys and furniture. One lady had a table of stuff she was inviting people to just take gratis.

I might have been tempted to buy art. I would like a couple more pieces for our house. I know there’s an artist in our village, and her door was open. But we decided to take the boys with us, which was quite a thrill for them. Below are some photos. The participating houses had balloons to mark themselves, but it was pretty obvious who was in on the fun, anyway. I don’t remember there ever being an event like this in Jettingen. I know the pictures suck, but I had the dogs, and I didn’t want to be too obvious.

In other news… Bill and I are talking about our next big trip. I’m thinking we might see if we can go to Norway by car. We went to Norway in 2009 and enjoyed it, but that was part of a cruise that originated in Oslo. I would like to go there for a few days and just experience life in a pretty little town. Yes, it’s expensive, but Norway is beautiful, and I love the people. They are so friendly! And the ferry, while expensive, would be a fun experience, especially if we go from Kiel, because that is an overnight trip. The other option is to drive to Copenhagen and go through Sweden. We may do that going up or back… if this plan comes to fruition, that is.

Bill will be gone all next week, back to our old stomping grounds in Stuttgart. I hate it when he travels for work, but it’ll give me a chance to do some music recordings. And I’ll be researching potential trips, too.

Hopefully, we’ll go out tomorrow… check out a new restaurant, or something.

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Who are the people in our neighborhood? Last night’s wine stand helped us find out more…

Although there were heavy clouds in the sky last night, and the air was decidedly muggy, Bill and I decided to attend last night’s wine stand in Breckenheim. It was the first one we’d been to in awhile, since the last one was scheduled due to dangerous weather, and the time before that, I didn’t feel like getting dressed. But we usually do like to attend the wine stands, because they are held for good causes– fundraisers for various local clubs, who host them. Also, it’s often a fun chance to meet new people who live in our little suburban burg.

Our local town square (the Dorfplatz) is usually where the wine stands are held. However, the stand was held at the town hall, because the square is currently undergoing renovation. They’re putting in a public toilet. I understand the toilet idea isn’t particularly popular, especially since the Dorfplatz has only existed for a short while– by German standards, anyway– and there’s a fountain that was only put in about ten years ago that might need to be removed. Prior to its becoming a Dorfplatz, the area was a parking lot.

I guess the toilet will be a good thing, though, since it will allow people at the wine stands to stay longer, rather than either going home, or using the toilets at the Rathaus. Also, there’s been talk about starting a weekly farmer’s market, which I’m pretty psyched about. I hope that happens before we have to move again.

Anyway, because a large portion of the square has been cordoned off for the construction of the toilets, the wine stand has been moved, and that’s a good thing for us, because we live even closer to the town hall than we do the Dorfplatz. So, even though Noyzi and Arran protested loudly, Bill and I walked down the street to have a couple of glasses of wine. It started to sprinkle, but we decided to let the locals have the tables under the shelter.

After about ten or fifteen minutes of sipping Riesling and telling jokes, we met two Americans who live very close to us… Actually, they live even closer to the town hall than we do, since their house is just behind the parsonage for the church. They heard our American accents and came over to introduce themselves. It turns out that the two women have two kids, and they’re living here as ordinary residents. I was really fascinated, as one did have ties to the military, but is in the Reserves and drills back in the States. The other is a lawyer and a pastor! She told us the combination isn’t as unusual as one might think! Right now, she works as a pastor, but will soon start a new job as an American lawyer for a bank. I’m assuming it’s an American bank with a branch nearby, but I didn’t ask about the details.

They told us about the process of getting new German driver’s licenses, and what is required for that. Unfortunately, they didn’t come from a state where they could simply exchange licenses. Some US states do have a reciprocity agreement with Germany. Texas is one of those states. And their kids go to the local schools, one of which is within sight of our house. Both speak German, too, even to their kids.

We really enjoyed talking to them… I do hope I didn’t come off as too forward, though. Not everyone knows what to make of me, especially when I’ve been socially distanced for two years. But I thought they were a nice couple, and I’m sure we’ll see them around.

We won’t be at the next wine stand, which will also be held at the Rathaus, because it will take place just before my 50th birthday. Bill has plans to whisk me off to Antwerp, Belgium for the weekend. I look forward to it, since I love Belgium. There’s great beer, delicious frites, exquisite chocolates, and dirty humor… Any place where one of the country’s symbols is a little boy peeing is alright with me. 😉

Here are a few random photos from last night’s activities!

I think we’ll go out for awhile today… See if we can find anything fun to do.

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anecdotes, emergencies

Pet pandemonium pauses our promenade!

Today is Bill’s birthday, and we have wonderful weather this morning. Yesterday, it rained most of the day, and the dogs didn’t get their walk until the afternoon. I was going to take them for a walk this morning and actually got underway. But our plans were abruptly thwarted by other people’s pets.

It started with an unusually brave white cat, who was loitering on our path. I saw the cat first, as it was big as life clinging to the wall. The cat saw Arran and Noyzi, but didn’t seem to be afraid. Cats usually run when they see my dogs, but this one was pretty defiant. He or she pinned their ears, arched their back, and probably hissed. I couldn’t tell, because Noyzi had just noticed. Arran, super hound cat buster that he is, was a bit like Barney Fife this morning. He was the last to see the white feline, who was warily watching the boys.

And then, just as I thought we might make it down the hill, along comes our neighbor dog, Tommi, the friendly Labrador. He charged up to Arran and Noyzi, completely unattended, although he was at least wearing a collar. Hot on his heels was our neighbor’s mother, a slim lady I’ll call Oma. I’m guessing she’s in her 70s. She speaks English well and is very nice, but she’s probably not strong enough to be walking a rambunctious young Lab. And, in fact, she wasn’t walking him. She had treats with her, but no leash.

Naturally, the dogs went nuts. The cat did not go nuts. I kept waiting for it to run away, but it just kept staring down the dogs. Noyzi was facing the wrong way as I tried to lead him away from the tantalizing pussycat…

The funny thing is, I have been using two regular nylon leashes and a harness with Noyzi because he’s a rescue from Kosovo and still pretty afraid of a lot of things. I attach one leash to his collar and one to his harness, in case I drop one. I might then have a prayer of stopping Noyzi before he bolts for the Autobahn.

Noyzi’s walking manners have improved a lot; he’s become much less fearful and wants to run more. Last week, on two occasions, he tried the retractable tape leash I currently use with Arran and used to use with Zane. I waited a long time to try the retractable leash with Noyzi because he’s so much bigger and stronger than were either Arran or Zane, or both of them together.

We did have some success with the tape leash last week. Noyzi seemed to get the concept of running just a little bit ahead and not charging off so fast that he pulls me over. I was going to try the tape leash again today, but a little voice in my head told me to use the two leash system instead. It might have just been sheer laziness, since I already had the nylon leashes out and ready to use.

Well… that second leash was a God send this morning, because Tommi was completely out of control! First, he greeted my dogs with boisterous jumps, crotch sniffing, and tail wags, and Noyzi, of course returned the favor. Then he ran over to some guy working on his car. Oma grabbed for Tommi’s collar, but it somehow slipped off. She finally got it back on him and started trying to drag him away, yelling at him and spanking him all the while. Tommi was not at all fazed by the corporal punishment.

Meanwhile, that damned white cat was STILL defiantly sitting there, watching everything unfold, completely unbothered! A lady with a baby carriage was about to come down the hill, but thought better of it when she saw and heard all of the commotion. Arran was braying like a seal/donkey hybrid. Noyzi was yipping excitedly, dancing around like a whirling dervish. And Tommi, who has developed a full on Labrador bark, was telling off the cat and trying to give chase. He ran behind the bushes and Oma went after him, shouting in German, trying to grab his collar.

I suddenly realized I had that second leash, so I quickly unsnapped it and handed it to Oma, who thanked me profusely as she attached it to Tommi’s collar. The whole lot of us then turned toward home, because I had worked up a sweat and wanted the dogs to calm down a bit, and Oma wanted to get Tommi back to a place where he wasn’t running amok. I also obviously needed that second leash back! Arran helpfully took a big dump at the top of the hill, so he probably feels better. Oma was showing off Tommi to a group of school kids who had heard and witnessed some of the show.

Oma explained to me that her 18 year old granddaughter (whom Noyzi LOVES) has to study for exams. And the man and the lady of the house are on vacation. Oma’s son told her not to walk Tommi because he’s so strong, but she said there’s no one else who can do it. I don’t actually think she was trying to walk him this morning. I think he snuck out of the house.

Just like his Labrador predecessor, Levi, used to do, sometimes Tommi comes over to our house. We can see him through the glass. The dogs go nuts! It might do them all well to have a play session and wear each other out a little! Tommi is very sweet, but I think he might need a trainer. But I’m not about to suggest it, because I’m sure they don’t need me to tell them that… I did notice that Oma petted Arran, who was the calmest of the lot, which is really saying something, if you know him. On the other hand, Arran is old and rather petite, so it’s not too hard to keep him in line.

Anyway, I guess that incident was a sign from God to keep using the two leash system on Noyzi for a bit longer… if only so Oma can wrangle Tommi when he gets loose! And you’ll be proud to know that I managed to get some video footage of all of this, too.

And now that I’ve cooled off and calmed down, maybe we’ll try again.

Edited to add: We just had our walk. It was much less chaotic.

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Uncategorized

When neighbor dogs don’t want to social distance…

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.

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