The weather was so beautiful yesterday. It was about 74 degrees, sunny, and breezy. I was actually a bit tempted to just sit in the backyard and enjoy music and the gorgeous weather. But it was Friday night wine stand time, and pretty soon, those will be ending for the winter. So we got Noyzi and went down to the Dorfplatz, walking down some steps at the church’s community building, because someone is building a house next to the narrow alley that leads down there and they have the alley blocked off.
We decided to sit on the other side of the Dorfplatz last night, because someone beat us to our usual spot and they had a dog with them. Noyzi is very friendly to other dogs, but he can be kind of noisy and fidgety. So we found a spot on a bench and enjoyed some wine in the late summer September sun. Noyzi got to meet several dogs and their owners, including one dog that looked a bit like a setter or a pointer. I think they would have had a good time frolicking if they’d had the opportunity.
A good time was had by all… and then when the sun went down, we went back to our house and had burgers. Unfortunately, we had a slight mishap last night that required a middle of the night laundry run. But then we slept in until about 8:00 AM. I haven’t done that in ages!
I’m not sure what we’ll do today. Once again, the weather is perfect. I love this time of year, and I appreciate living in a little village where we can have these fun evenings with our neighbors. It’s always fun watching Noyzi blossom into the dog he was meant to be. He’s so sweet and gentle, even toward little dogs. He met a couple of them last night, too, and was very good.
The last fifteen hours or so have been rather eventful. First off, last night the two day Breckenheimer Dorfplatzfest began. Ordinarily, last night would have just been a regular wine stand night, but the local culture club held its annual festival. So basically, it was like a supersized wine stand with beer, food, and live music. They had brats and burgers, along with fries (pommes) and wild potatoes with tzatziki.
Our neighbor and multi-talented veterinarian, Dr. Konrad Blendinger, was there with his pop ensemble, providing entertainment as friends and neighbors gathered in the village “square”. Dr. Blendinger plays guitar and even wrote a song about Breckenheim, which he sang last night. When he’s not playing music, Dr. Blendinger is well-known for his prowess in breeding dogs. Like, he’s world renowned for it– and people come from all over for his services. I even caught him admiring Noyzi when we brought him to a wine stand. Noyzi will never be a father, though. 😉
Bill and I had a pretty good time, although we were joined by an older German couple who didn’t speak English. There were also a few women there, one of whom was one we met on prior occasions. She asked us where Noyzi was. We left him at home, because we figured it would be too loud and busy for him. She nodded her approval.
We impressed them with our ability to enjoy wine, then they brought over some guy who spoke Russian. I spoke Armenian to him… 😉 I did so to be funny, not because the Russian and Armenian languages have anything in common. Of course, I didn’t expect him to speak Armenian, and I’m actually glad he didn’t, because I have forgotten a lot of it myself. I guess I just get tired of people assuming all Americans are monolingual. The guy got up and walked away. 😀 Oh well.
I also had occasion to use the new toilet that was installed last year. The fest was canceled last year because it was being built. As you can see from the photos, it’s pretty snazzy. This time, no one walked in on me, either. They put up directions in German and English!
I got some photos and videos of the festivities.
We had a good time, but unfortunately, I overdid the wine quite a bit. This morning, I look like I got in a fight. Oh well…
As if having a hangover wasn’t bad enough, Bill greeted me with the news that there’s an issue with our washer. I bought the washer brand new from Amazon.de nine years ago next month. For the past couple of years, it’s been in decline. There’s a problem with the door sensor, so that it doesn’t close properly unless you bang the shit out of it. This morning, Bill tried to do a very light load and the cycle quit at about five minutes.
I drained the machine, which made a big mess… then I determined it was time to buy a new washer and dryer. Our dryer is functioning, but it has an annoying squeak that I can hear all the way upstairs, and it’s just a very no frills Turkish model that is too small and isn’t that great.
I spent the last hour or so agonizing over which brand to buy. The washer we have now is an LG, and it’s not bad… and I know how to use it, for the most part. But I wanted to get one as soon as possible, so I ended up buying a Siemens washer and dryer. I figure if they turn out to be smart devices (and I think they are), I’ll only have to download one app. Plus, I could get them delivered on the same day. Hopefully, they’ll work out fine. I paid a little extra for the delivery guys to hook everything up and take away the old appliances.
These new machines are quite a bit more expensive than the old ones were– naturally. I think I paid just over $1600 (about 700 euros each, before VAT and delivery) for the pair, whereas I see I paid about 600 euros for my old dryer (no longer available) and 370 euros for the old washer (which I now see is also no longer available and gets poor reviews– it probably didn’t when I bought it). But I think they’ll be easier to use, and they’ll hold more. I got the 9 kilogram size, instead of the 7, which is what I’ve been using. I would have liked to have gone for the biggest one they offered, but doing that would have significantly reduced my choices. Also, we have to make sure we can get the appliances through the doors and down into the basement.
I mainly decided to buy the models I did because they got mostly good reviews, weren’t super expensive, and could be delivered as soon as Tuesday. I do a lot of laundry, so this is a good thing. The bigger size should make it easier to do laundry, too. I think I got a condenser dryer, which will be a new thing for me. I tried to find one that vents, because that’s what I’m used to, but they didn’t seem to have them available. So, now I get to learn how to use a condenser dryer.
I’m already feeling a lot better than I was earlier. I took some Advil and ate breakfast, which helped a lot. The Dorfplatzfest starts up again at 2:00 PM, but I’m not sure if we’ll go today. Bill is talking about brewing some beer… and I sure don’t want to start tomorrow like I’ve started today.
In other news, we have some pretty wild flowers in our backyard… They came from the bee bombs I planted a few months ago.
Here’s another quick post about Noyzi’s progress becoming more socialized. Since we lost Arran last month, Noyzi has become more insistent about coming with us when there are Friday night wine stands. I don’t know how he does it, but he always seems to know when it’s a wine stand versus us going out somewhere.
We were a little late getting there last night, because Bill is involved in a big project at work and was later getting home. Consequently, we ended up sitting on the other side of the Dorfplatz, on a bench, instead of at a table. That turned out to be a good thing, as we met another one of our neighbors for the first time. She lives in an old house right by the Dorfplatz and works at the local Kita (kindergarten). One of her students came up and gave her a hug while we chatted.
It turned out she has a dog, too. His name is Billy, and he was once an Italian truffle hunting dog. When he got too old to hunt, his former owners gave him away, and she wound up adopting him. She later brought him out, and he and Noyzi got along great.
Our next door neighbor was also at the wine stand, and she went to get Tommi, her labrador. Meanwhile, between dog company sessions, Noyzi met some of the attendees, many of whom were curious about him. More than one person asked if we’d had his tail docked. I was able to tell them that he was born with a bobbed tail. We had his DNA tested by Embark and the results indicated that he was born with a short tail.
Most of the people we talked to were really nice. We did meet one fellow American who was a veteran and had married a local. When he found out Bill is a contractor, he seemed to get kind of bitter. He mentioned that contractors and government civilians are hired in the States and brought over to Germany. I sensed that he was kind of upset about that. However, Bill’s company does hire people locally, if they have skills they can use. They might not get the same local benefits or access to facilities that States based hires get, because they are local residents. But, if the company can use their skills, they will pay them a salary that is adjusted for the local tax rate. I don’t know the guy at all, or what his skills are, but it’s my guess that he might simply be unqualified for the jobs available on the US military installations here. That’s not our fault, and not really a valid reason to be pissy toward us.
As he broke off the conversation, he noticed that Noyzi is neutered and said, “Poor guy.” Well… that’s something else we had nothing to do with, as he was neutered before we adopted him. I thought that was kind of a strange comment to make. It’s true that a lot of locals don’t get their animals “fixed”, but Germany generally has much less of a problem with stray dogs than the United States does. Personally, I kind of agree that it would be better to do vasectomies or ovary sparing surgeries on animals than simply removing their sex parts. Those surgeries can be done. But they aren’t popular yet, so they aren’t widely known or done at this point in time.
At least the guy’s wife was really nice to us. She was enchanted by Noyzi, who was doing his best to charm everyone. Every time we take him to a wine stand, he gets more comfortable with meeting people. I’ve even noticed that he’s much less afraid of men, now. That’s a pretty awesome development. He used to be terrified of most men, even Bill.
We met another lady who had adopted a dog from Spain, but hadn’t brought her to the wine stand. Several people showed us pictures…
I think dogs are the very best social icebreakers in Germany. Recently, The Local: Germany ran an article about how to make friends in Germany and German attitudes toward English speakers. I noted that having dogs was a great way to meet and interact with locals. Many Germans LOVE dogs. However, some of them also act like they know best how to take care of them. Our neighbor has, for instance, occasionally commented about our departed beagles, Zane and Arran, barking when we weren’t home. But she also has a dog who barks. We don’t complain about him, because he’s very sweet and adorable. Noyzi loves him. But he’s not perfect, either.
Anyway, we had a good time last night, and Noyzi really obviously had fun meeting new people. It was gratifying seeing his little tail wag, and watching him happily meeting new people with increasing confidence. He really does love people. He just needs to learn that most of them love him back.
Below are some photos from yesterday. The top three are Noyzi saying good morning to me, and the rest are from the wine stand. We really enjoyed ourselves, although I woke up with quite a headache. I think I need to embrace drinking apple juice or Schorle instead of wine. 😉
We might go out to dinner tonight. Bill had to go into work today. He has to go TDY next week, and will be gone for eight nights, I believe. I hate these work trips, but at least he has a good job, and at least this time, I don’t have to fret over Arran. And once he’s done, we can prepare for our vacation. It’s pretty much all set now. I just have to pay the bills we’ve run up so far. 😀
Yesterday, our next door neighbor decided to host a gathering in her driveway. She does this every few months or so, inviting those of us who live in the vicinity of her house. She had one at Christmas time, and we all sat around in the cold drinking Gluhwein, and one last fall, which was during milder weather. Yesterday appeared to be mild, too, except for the rain that started about thirty minutes after the fun started. We ended up moving everything to her backyard.
It was a nice time. The neighbors in this neighborhood are very friendly, and everybody pitched in to make the party fun. We had tons of different sausages, lots of beer and wine, and canine company, as the neighbor’s Labrador, Tommi, was there to make sure everyone was socializing properly. I sat next to the neighbor’s mom, who speaks English, and loves Grauburgunder– a dry white wine. Our landlord and his wife were there, too. He got a big kick out of the bottle opener I bought the first time we lived in Germany when I went on a day tour of Berchtesgaden, back in 2009.
I bought this thing from a wood carver not knowing the translation. According to Google Translate (and confirmed by the landlord’s amused reaction), it reads…
Given our senses of humor, this is pretty much the perfect bottle opener for us… ETA: My German friend says I misread the above quote, which should read “If there is no more joy in the house, there is always the brothel.”
In spite of the rain, we all had fun hanging out together. I admired the neighbor’s beautiful cherry tree. Wish we had one in our yard. She also has a really small in ground pool. I suggested that Bill make chocolate chip cookies. He did, and they were a huge hit! I used to make them all the time myself, but Bill took over the kitchen. 😉
I asked the landlord who built the shelter over our patio. I always suspected it was a former tenant. He confirmed that it was. The reason I suspect was because of the way it was built. I don’t think a German would be satisfied with the “jerry rigged” workmanship. Not that I’m complaining or anything… It’s just that Germans are usually a lot more precise about such things. Then he said he knew a good handyman. Maybe he’d get him to come over and fix up the terrace.
Our landlords are very nice and quite generous people. We feel fortunate to rent from them. And they seem equally glad to have us in their house. They live next door, so anytime the house comes up for rent, they probably feel some anxiety. On the other hand, since they’re the landlords, they get to choose the people. I guess it might be more stressful for our other neighbor. But she is, herself, a landlady. Seems like most of the established people in our village own properties. Our neighbor’s mom is also a landlady.
But yes… once again, I have noticed that this neighborhood is the friendliest one we’ve ever lived in here in Germany… or really, anywhere else. We have lots of social events here. It’s definitely not like it was in the towns we lived in near Stuttgart.
Prior to last night’s gathering, we also visited the commissary and the PX. I hadn’t been in the commissary since 2020, so that was an experience. We bought some food, and I picked up some cosmetics, for the rare times I go places. Bill also bought a bug zapper, which should make our terrace more inviting this summer. Bring on the good weather! At least the umbrella I bought at the Van Gogh Alive! exhibit on Easter in Frankfurt came in handy.
This week, I’ll probably make a decision on how and where we’ll spend the first part of our Nordic/Baltic vacation this summer. Maybe I’ll go ahead and pay for the rest of the cruise, too. I know… very exciting plans. 😉
Yesterday, I had an unexpected encounter with the local police. It’s all because I impulsively ordered a new bookshelf for our bedroom. The new shelf is part of my quest to make our house more livable and less cluttered. I also bought a new “trolley” for our bathroom, to put toiletries and cleaning supplies in, as we don’t have a built in cabinet or closet. I got tired of seeing random stuff strewn all over the bathroom, and the pile of dusty books on my nightstand was getting out of hand. While I was at it, I also ordered fancy new toilet brushes! Maybe they will arrive today.
So what does this Amazon.de shopping spree have to do with my interaction with the local cops? Well, it seems that the shelf was shipped to me via GLS, which is a company that delivers parcels. The guy who was delivering the shelf was apparently “lost”, and he rang my neighbor’s doorbell, looking for my house. He claimed I wasn’t home, although I was actually home all morning.
Recently, someone in our neighborhood Facebook group posted about random people who seemed to be casing the neighborhood, possibly looking for places to burgle. I guess, to my neighbors, the delivery guy looked and acted like he might have been up to no good.
My neighbors got suspicious and called the cops, perhaps because they were going to start their vacation yesterday, and were worried about a break in while they were gone. I was none the wiser when this was happening, as I was writing a post on my regular blog and practicing guitar.
Anyway, the delivery guy eventually found my house, rang my doorbell, and dropped off the new shelf, even bringing it into the house for me. I appreciated that, given the rainy weather and the item’s cumbersome size. I still had to haul it upstairs, but aside from being kind of hard to carry, it wasn’t too heavy.
The shelf was very easy to set up– took maybe two minutes, once I opened the box. I moved our laundry hamper and set up the shelf where the hamper had been, then put the books that needed a new home on it. Then I went downstairs to do my daily routine dog poop search and destroy mission in the backyard.
I had just collected and bagged a fresh pile of Noyzi’s shit, and was about to take it to the grey bin, when the doorbell rang again. This time, it was my neighbor wanting to ask about the delivery. In my hand, I still had the bright red bag of fresh dog crap, recently deposited by Noyzi, the Kosovar wonderdog. I tried to hold it out of sight as I spoke to my neighbor.
My neighbor asked me about the delivery. I said I had just received it. His wife came over and asked me more questions. I got the sense that maybe she was the one who was suspicious about the delivery man. I reassured them that yes, I had bought a new bookshelf, and the guy– who was admittedly a little unkempt– had dropped it off a short while ago. I was kind of wanting to hurry up the interrogation, so I could finally rid myself of the bag of crap.
Then, they went back to speak to the male and female police officers. I dashed out to the trash cans so I could throw away Noyzi’s poop. I was dressed in my nightgown, and it was still steadily raining. Nevertheless, the cops wanted to talk to me, too, and tried starting a conversation in the middle of our cul-de-sac. I looked up at the sky and suggested we talk on my stoop, which has benefit of a balcony for shelter from the rain.
The cops asked me to explain everything that happened, right down to showing them the label of my box, verifying that it was delivered by GLS. I described what I remembered of the man and his white van. Then they asked for my phone number, which I struggled to recall, since I don’t call myself or give that number out to too many people.
I noticed, as I was talking to the cops, that they were both VERY young looking. They looked like they were in their early 20s. The woman was quite pretty, too. Both of them spoke English, and they were very polite and even pleasant, and not in the typical “American” sense. Germans, as a rule, are more formal than Americans are.
Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of U.S. based police videos, and I’ve noticed a lot of the American cops are pretty horrible. In fairness, so are a lot of the people they have to deal with… so I guess it’s understandable that they’d be the way they are.
Still, I was quite impressed by the German cops I spoke to yesterday. They were very mature, thorough, and professional, even though they looked like they were barely adults. They took my neighbor’s complaint seriously, even though it was probably clear to them that the delivery was legit, and not some guy looking to break into their house while they’re gone. My non-existent hat is off to them!
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!
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.
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! Edited to add: We learned in March 2023 that the art was done by another woman with the same name who lives in our village. We still liked the art.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉