coronavirus, German culture, Germany, holidays, staying home, Wiesbaden

Happy 2022!!!

We had a rather quiet New Year’s Eve, with fondue, Riesling, and the news of Betty White’s passing just 18 days before she would have turned 100. Last night was almost like most nights, save for the five minutes of fireworks. I may be exaggerating a tiny bit, but only a TINY bit…

Officially, fireworks were banned for New Year’s Eve, because officials wanted to cut down on people injuring themselves and flooding the hospitals. As you probably know, COVID-19 is still a big problem and the hospitals are overwhelmed. I’m surprised in light of that, officials haven’t banned driving on the Autobahn, which I would imagine is potentially just as dangerous as lighting a bottle rocket. In any case, I knew there would be a few fireworks, because someone always has them. And there were a few fireworks, but it was really not a normal Silvester by German standards.

Last night was our tenth German New Year’s Eve. It will go down in history as the quietest one yet. The loudest and wildest one we ever experienced was in 2007. I could have sworn there was a war going on outside of our house in Pfäffingen. The night sky was literally alight with fireworks, and I could see our neighbors furiously setting off things that went crash and boom. Our late beagle, MacGregor, was absolutely terrified, poor thing!

Noyzi seemed a little perturbed by the noise and both dogs were curious, but they weren’t really scared. Our neighbors were in the street wishing Happy New Year to everyone… It was overall a pleasant evening. Below are some photos from our first try with the new fondue/raclette grill. It was a success! We really had fun making fondue. It was easy, festive, and even a little romantic! I should have bought this machine a long time ago.

Right at the stroke of midnight…
This is a pretty good representation of our fireworks display… It went on for a few minutes.

One other thing I would like to mention… My German friend tells me that the cookies our landlord brought us– yesterday’s featured photo and reposted below, actually have some local significance. The little macaroon behind the 2021 is a Bethmännchen pastry, which is a Frankfurt tradition at Christmas that has been around since 1838. The cookies are made with made from marzipan with almond, powdered sugar, rosewater, flour and egg. The recipe has not changed in the entire time this cookie has existed!

What a thoughtful gift!

2022 is already off to a good start. Bill made delicious cheese soufflés for breakfast!

I actually taught him to make these because we had them on our honeymoon in Virginia at a B&B. They aren’t hard to make and they make for an elegant breakfast dish on special occasions. We also have two leftover, and they will keep.

Well, that about does it for New Year’s… I am going to go write a more serious post on the main blog, and then I’ll probably watch a bunch of movies or something. I think Bill is going to cook a nice dinner, which I’ll probably document in photos if it’s pretty enough… and it probably will be!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve and an even better New Year’s Day. Maybe this year, we’ll get to do more traveling!

Standard
Germany, holidays, housekeeping tips

The last day of 2021… (cross post)

This post also appears on the main blog, since I have different readers there. The featured photo are cookies brought by our landlord.

I’m getting a late post up today. I was actually thinking of taking off the last day of 2021. I didn’t have anything earth shattering on my mind that I felt compelled to write about. Bill had the day off, and we were both kind of tired. Bill was especially tired, since he never gets a full night’s sleep. So I worked on reading my book, and he took a nap. Later, he’ll fire up the fondue/raclette grill set I got him for Christmas, and we’ll try it out. He’s already used the new hot tea pot I got him. He’s drinking tea as I write this.

Bill and Arran, preparing for tonight.

Arran took a nap with us, while Noyzi tried to steal my brand new fuzzy slippers. I think he thinks they’re small animals. I might let him take them, but he’s already eaten a couple of toys. The emergency vet is the last place we want to go tonight.

I managed to accomplish a couple of other chores, too. After I worked on trying to rid the toilet of lime scale and calcium stains, I went on Amazon.de and bought some citric acid, as well as cleaning soda and salt. Today, I tried the acid on a really terrible hard water stain in the shower that I’ve never been able to get rid of. I poured the acid on the stain and, wouldn’t you know it? That stain was gone in minutes! There’s no trace of it. I think it’s a wonder drug. It’s hard to believe it’s taken seven years to figure this out. Vinegar is good, but citric acid is the bomb! And it’s cheap, too!

I also climbed up on a stepladder in the shower and knocked the calcium off the shower head jets, so the nice rainfall spray won’t squirt all over the place anymore. Now, the new shower head is as nice as it was in September, when it was installed.

I heard that fireworks weren’t supposed to be sold in German stores again this year. Like last year, the government wants to discourage people from setting off fireworks, because they don’t want people getting hurt and needing to go to the hospital, thanks to COVID. I suspect there will be fireworks, anyway… Germans are law abiding people, but they love fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I think that’s pretty much the only day they are allowed to be set off, at least by the regular rank and file folks. I seem to remember that there were fireworks last year, despite the ban on them.

Our New Year’s celebrations are usually pretty boring affairs. We spend them much the same way we spend any night at home… listening to music, drinking wine, and talking.

I’m hoping 2022 will be a better year for everyone… although 2021 wasn’t, for me, a particularly bad year. I’ve had worse. But this COVID-19 shit needs to be fixed. Hopefully, 2022 will bring us some breakthroughs.

In any case… I want to offer sincere thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blogs. This main site, in particular, has really taken off this year! In the past month or so, I’ve had an explosion in traffic. That really does my heart good, and makes writing this blog worth the time and effort.

The travel blog has been somewhat less trafficked this year, but I can understand why. I haven’t been traveling as much… nor have many other people! I’m sure the traveling we have done may even be a downer for some folks. I know some people suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), and it can be depressing to look at other people’s travel posts when travel is so potentially risky and definitely stressful. I am very grateful, though, that we finally managed to go to Croatia. I hope we can visit again. There are more places I want to see. And with any luck and maybe God’s grace, if you’re into God, that is– maybe COVID-19 will be more under control by this time next year.

I’m still making music, too… Been getting better with my guitar skills and can even play some songs. There are some times when I find myself playing things completely spontaneously. I still have plenty of learning to do, which is a good thing. And I’ve also found someone to collaborate with on YouTube, too, which is very rewarding. Maybe I’ll put up a new song or two, now that I have new gear. Maybe I’ll try to learn bass guitar and banjo, too… if the virus continues to spread, I might have to do something else to pass the time.

Well… I don’t have much else to say, except…

I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve, and a very fortuitous New Year’s Day… and 2022!

Standard
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!

Standard
Germany, holidays

Happy end of 2020!

Can you believe it? New Year’s Eve is finally upon us. The year 2020 will go down as one of the worst ever for a lot of people. It wasn’t too bad for me, personally, and it didn’t drag on for me. In fact, we had some very good things happen this year. But I do know that many people have been waiting for this day in a year that, for most people, was like no other.

The last few months of 2020 have been punctuated with losses for Bill and me. I lost a cousin, a cousin’s spouse, and our old friend, the Mad Scientist of Entringen. Bill lost his dad, who was also my father-in-law. But Bill gained one of his daughters, his son-in-law, and two grandchildren. We both gained a new family member when we adopted Noyzi. We got to do some unique traveling, and we went to places we probably would not have gone to if not for COVID-19 and the need to stay kind of local. This was also the first year in quite a few that I didn’t fly anywhere. We’re both learning guitar! This year, I started with no guitars in my house. Now, I have four of them! I’m not a great player yet, but I make improvements every day.

I don’t know what’s in store for us in 2021, although I do look forward to the end of the Trump era. I also look forward to some smart scientists making better vaccines and medications to fight COVID-19. And there are a few things we’ve been doing this year that I wouldn’t mind continuing, like working from home for Bill and fewer TDYs.

It looks like we’ll be staying in Germany for at least the foreseeable future. But if there’s one thing we have learned, it’s that nothing is for certain when you work in government contracting. We’ll see what Biden has in store for us. If anything, I hope it’s more civility and decency than what we’ve been seeing from Trump and his peeps.

I don’t think we will see too many fireworks this year. I believe there’s a curfew tonight. People are supposed to stay inside from 9:00pm until 5:00am tomorrow. If folks have fireworks left from last year, I’ve heard it’s okay to set them off. But there weren’t any for sale this year… which means that this will be a quieter Silvester. Supposedly, this is to prevent crowds and injuries that would send people to the overworked hospitals. This doesn’t really affect Bill or me, since we always have a quiet New Year’s and, at least for the past couple of years, haven’t even made it to midnight still conscious. But I expect we will enjoy some champagne and we’re planning on having Moroccan food takeout.

So… on with the end of 2020. Let us all hope for better days in 2021, even the new year is always kind of weird at first. Happy New Year to you all! We have some snow right now, so I think I’ll go enjoy it until it turns to rain.

Standard
Germany

The last night of 2018…

Here’s a quick post with photos from last night’s fireworks.  It was quite an impressive show.  Because our new house has two balconies, it was easy to see everything.  Some people were setting off fireworks right outside our front door.  It wasn’t quite as impressive as our old village, Pfäffingen, was.  New Year’s Eve there was like Armageddon.  But it was a little better than Jettingen was, probably because we were close to the action…

I got a lot more pictures, but a lot of them were unusable because they were blurry or uninteresting.  It’s strange how I have better luck with my iPhone than my regular camera with all its fancy settings. Anyway, we had about a half hour of intense fireworks, then the neighborhood was quiet again.  I swear, in our first German town, people were setting off fireworks most of the night!

 

My dogs were mostly oblivious to the action.  Unlike our dearly departed MacGregor, who would be terrified when the fireworks started, Zane and Arran were totally chill.  Zane tucked himself into bed and Arran hung out with us and watched the show.

Hopefully 2019 will be full of new adventures.  I have some big ideas for the Wiesbaden edition of my travel blog!  I hope you’ll follow along… but only if you’re interested.  I suspect there will be many trips to the Rhein in our future… and the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium, all of which are now easily accessible to us in our new town.

Happy New Year to all!
Standard
Germany

All is quiet on New Year’s Day…

This was Bill last night.

It was about 10:00pm when I took this photo.

 

I told him we should go to bed because he could not keep his eyes open.  He said “no” over and over again.  Finally, I got up and started doing my nightly bedtime routine.  By the time I was finished, he was sound asleep in that chair.  So I made him get up and go to bed.  We didn’t even open any champagne, which is very much unlike us.  The upside is that for once, I’m not hungover on New Year’s Day.

We did enjoy a nice dinner.  Bill broke out the Anova Sous Vide that I got him for Christmas in 2016 (but he didn’t receive until 2017).  He cooked a beef tenderloin roast that he found at the commissary, of all places.  It turned out amazingly tender.

He also broke out the wedding china and silverware.  We were fancy!

I had every intention of lying in bed and reading, but then my own eyelids started to get heavy.  So I turned off the light and drifted off to sleep.  Then I was awakened at exactly 11:58pm, when the neighbors started setting off fireworks.  They continued for about a half an hour and then they, too, went to bed.  I managed to get a few lame photos because it was dark and I didn’t feel like looking for my camera.  Then I went back to bed and spent another hour or so trying to go back to sleep.

I got some video that was probably somewhat better than this is…  Photography is not my forte.  Maybe later I’ll make a video and add it to this post, not that anyone will watch it.

 

The town we currently live in is a bit more conservative on New Year’s Eve than our former German town, Pfäffingen, was.  People in that town went nuts with the fireworks and set them off for hours.  It was like a blitzkrieg.  Here, they set off the odd firework before they are supposed to and then there’s about a half an hour show.  Then, they go to bed.  Bill and I never set off fireworks ourselves.  We just watch everyone else’s.

This year, I learned that people are not supposed to set off fireworks before midnight.  Apparently, it was even a law.  Our local German guru says the law changed, but some people may not have gotten the memo.  German stores are only allowed to sell fireworks from December 28 until the 31st.  And since the 31st was on a Sunday, I guess there were even fewer opportunities to buy them this year.  Firecrackers are allowed to be used all year, but other fireworks can only be purchased by adults and only at New Year’s.  It’s illegal to light them at any other time of the year without permission from your town.

Someone in one of the local groups got bitched at by a neighbor yesterday for setting off fireworks “too early”.  I will never understand why some Germans can be so “in your face” about enforcing rules.  Apparently, the encounter was not pleasant or neighborly.  I felt bad for my fellow American, getting yelled at on New Year’s Eve.  I have gotten yelled at by random Germans before myself.  On the other hand, I have also found the locals to be very nice once you get to know them.  People in our current neighborhood are especially nice, which is a blessing.

Supposedly, you’re not supposed to light fireworks near hospitals, churches, or old people’s homes.  I get not lighting them near hospitals and churches, but it seems odd to restrict them near old people’s homes.  What if you don’t know how old your neighbors are?  Anyway, the elderly people in my neighborhood got a show last night whether they wanted one or not.  Also, it’s against the rules to light them on any of the U.S. military posts, although I think they sometimes have shows there run by professionals.  I don’t mind watching fireworks, but I probably care less about them than the average person does.

I usually find New Year’s a little depressing.  The holidays are over and it’s time to take the tree down and get through the frigid months that lead off the new year.  But hopefully, we’ll have some new adventures and get in some more traveling.  I look forward to writing more restaurant reviews and visiting new places.  For now, I will enjoy the quiet on the first day of 2018.

Standard
Germany

Happy 2017!

I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year.  May it be prosperous and full of hope and love for everyone… although as a realist, I can’t help but realize that after tomorrow, it’ll be business as usual.

I managed to capture a few pictures of fireworks last night.  They aren’t that great, but I did manage to get some video, too, so I turned it into a not so entertaining movie set to an old ABBA song.  We had good weather for fireworks last night.

I am itching to get out of the house, so it’ll be good when the holiday season is finished and things get back to normal.

My neighbors put on a good show!  I was hoping for a new camera for Christmas, but Santa hasn’t delivered yet.  Maybe later this month…

Standard
advice, anecdotes

Hurling into 2016…

If you read my main blog, you might have read about my unfortunate New Year’s Day.  I won’t get into what I wrote on that post because it involves descriptions of body functions that not everyone wants to read about.  What we did end up doing yesterday was taking our dog, Zane, to the vet.

On New Year’s Eve, Bill cooked beef strips for us.  They turned out great.  Zane likes beef, but he can’t eat much of it because sometimes it upsets his stomach.  Most of the time, he can have a little piece and be just fine.  We have to be careful, though, because if he gets more than he can handle, it can lead to him having a vomiting episode.  He usually throws up once and that’s it.  This time, it was a little more serious.

Without getting too much into specifics, Zane ended up getting a touch of gastritis yesterday.  He seemed really uncomfortable and was pacing around restlessly.  He had an appetite, but couldn’t hold down any food.  He wanted to eat grass and was even pawing at the door to go outside.

Though I was pretty sure it wasn’t an emergency, I couldn’t stand to see Zane in so much discomfort.  I looked up our vet online to see who the local vet on call was for this weekend.  It turned out the vet who was open yesterday was in Gaertringen.  Bill called them and got someone on the phone who spoke no English.  He finally asked her if he could bring Zane in and got an affirmative answer.  I stayed home with our other dog, Arran, who was not too happy about being left out of a road trip.

Bill was gone for awhile and I started to worry a bit, but it turned out the vet was rather far away and it took 30 minutes just to get there.  Then, once he got there, Bill had to wait for three others ahead of him.  Apparently, the vet looked like Richard Gere.  Now I wish I could have gone with Bill so I could have seen for myself.

While Bill was waiting, he struck up a conversation with a German woman who spoke flawless English.  It turns out she’s living in the United States, getting a master’s degree in New York state.  She has an American boyfriend and had come to Germany for the holidays.  Her mother’s cat needed an ultrasound.

Anyway, after a thorough checkup, the vet gave Zane a couple of shots.  One was to quiet his rumbling guts and make him more comfortable and the other was to stop the vomiting and nausea.  He fixed Zane right up.  Bill paid about 60 euros for the visit and that was that.  Zane seems to be pretty much back to normal this morning after he slept off the antiemetic drug.  By last night, he was begging for chicken and rice.

One thing I like about living in Germany is that vet care is relatively inexpensive here.  Emergency care is especially reasonable, especially when compared to what we pay in the States.  Zane has a special knack for getting into trouble, especially on weekends on holidays.  I feel pretty sure that had we needed the emergency vet yesterday in the USA, the bill would have been several times what Bill paid.  I appreciate that in Germany, one can often get urgent medical help without resorting to using high priced emergency facilities.

The boys were both ready for dinner last night.  Zane is the tricolored one on the left.

 

I felt a lot better once Zane was back to his usual sunny self.  From now on, we’re going to be more careful about what he eats.

I’m kind of glad the holidays are over.  I’m ready for things to get back to normal.  I’m in the midst of preparing for our trip to Scotland and trying to decide what we want to do after our Hebridean Islands Cruise in March.  I can’t wait to blog about it.

Hopefully today or tomorrow, we’ll get out and try a new restaurant.

Standard
German culture, Germany

New Year’s in Jettingen!

I was both kind of looking forward to and dreading another New Year’s Eve in Germany.  Last time we lived here, we lived in a little town called Pfäffingen, which is very close to the college town of Tübingen.  When we were here last time for New Year’s, Germans were out in the streets setting off lots of fireworks.  It was very intense and went on for most of the evening and into the wee hours of the morning.

New Year’s Eve in Jettingen, by contrast, seemed pretty tame.  It’s my guess that the snow put a damper on the festivities.  There weren’t any fireworks to speak of until just before midnight.  A lot of them came from houses in the distance from ours, though there were a few set off in our neighborhood.  In Pfäffingen after New Year’s Eve, there were spent fireworks and debris scattered all over the place.  In Jettingen, it seems like there would be much less.

Bill and I hung out in my big room and drank champagne. We never go out on New Year’s Eve.  I guess by the time December 31st rolls around, we’re a little holidayed out.  I kind of wish we’d gotten some fireworks, but the snow kind of kept us out of the stores.

The snow is slowly melting and soon everything will be a soggy mess.  I’m kind of ready for the snow to go away, though.  I’m ready for things to get back to normal.  I’m also ready to plan our next trip, which I hope will be in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, here are a few photos I managed to snap last night.  I wish they were more exciting.  There’s always next year, though, and God willing, we won’t have to move again.

I got more photos than these, but honestly, they aren’t much to look at.

Standard