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Today’s garden visitor…

Early this morning, Bill let Arran out to do his business. Arran immediately alerted to the ivy covered fence on the right side of the yard. It was very early– not even 6am yet– so it wasn’t a good thing that Arran was barking so assertively. Bill brought him back inside, but Arran remained obsessed with getting outside.

I prefer to let the dogs out, if they want to go out. I’ve cleaned up too many accidents to know that it’s not a good idea to deny them the chance to pee when the need arises. But Arran and Noyzi were both still fixated on the fence line, and I didn’t want them to piss off the neighbors, so I went over to see what the issue was. There, I saw it… a humongous spiky hedgehog, curled up by the fence. It’s daytime, and hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, so I figured it might be sleeping. Still, I’m not interested in having a dead animal in my yard, so I got a shovel and gently pulled it out for a better look. It took a minute or two, but I finally saw it breathe. So, after I took a photo for posterity, I put it back where I found it, and shooed the dogs back inside.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a hedgehog in my German backyards. The first time we lived in Germany (2007-09), I had to rescue a hedgehog from the jaws of my then beagles, Flea and MacGregor. Later, when we were still living at that house, I discovered an enormous hedgehog raiding the trash. My guess is that it was the same one I saved from my beagles. I see from Facebook, that happened in August, too…

Dated August 19, 2009just found an enormous hedgehog raiding the trash… good thing my hounds were inside.

I last saw a hedgehog in our garden in October 2020. I noticed that it lived under a platform in our yard. For all I know, this is the same creature, as according to my reading, they can live up to 7 or 8 years in the wild. I also read that August is when hedgehogs in this latitude usually give birth. Some babies are born in July or September, but in Germany, at least half are born in August. For all I know, this is a female hedgehog who is about to have babies. I sure hope she moves, though, because I don’t want my dogs trying to eat her. She’s very spiky. Or maybe it’s a he. I don’t know.

I remember seeing hedgehogs in the 70s, when my dad was stationed at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England. We moved back to the United States, and I didn’t see them again until years later, when Sonic the Hedgehog became a popular video game and people adopted them as pets. I don’t think hedgehogs are as popular to own as pets anymore. But they sure are around in the European wilderness, especially in Germany… I never saw one when we lived in Jettingen. There, we saw lots of field mice, which Arran was occasionally able to catch, even when he was on his leash (which he almost always was, since we didn’t have an adequately fenced yard). They are good to have in gardens, because they eat bugs. For that reason, I welcome our cute visitor. I’m always amazed at the things I learn as a result of living over here.

Hedgehogs were never really an issue for us in the USA. Over the course of 20 years and many different homes, we’ve had snakes, squirrels, deer, wild ducks, turtles, mice, rats, chimney swifts, groundhogs, toads, coyotes, moles, foxes, chipmunks, rabbits, and all manner of birds. But wild hedgehogs are strictly a European thing… kind of like slugs. I know there are slugs in the USA, but I never saw so many of them there as I have here. They are huge, and pretty gross. I remember our first German landlord used to put out bowls of beer to attract the slugs and drown them. I don’t take those steps myself, because I love beer and hate to waste it on killing slugs. Also, beer attracts bees, who also end up drowning.

I’m still kind of shocked by how big that hedgehog is. I’ll bet it’s a female who’s about to give birth. I’m not going to turn it over and try to look for the telltale sex organs, though. Like I said… lots of spiky quills! It’s already Monday; I don’t need any wild animal related mishaps today.

ETA: I just checked where I left the hedgehog, and it’s moved. So that’s a good thing… Hope it finds a less dangerous place to be.

Here’s a video of the hedgehog, who came out while we were eating dinner a few days later. I suspect it’s a female, about to have babies… or maybe newly postpartum.

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An uneventful evening in Switzerland…

Our latest travel adventure has now officially begun, as of yesterday. We set off for Switzerland yesterday morning, stopping to drop off a reluctant Arran and an excited Noyzi. Poor Arran would prefer to stay with us all the time, but Noyzi is all about hanging out with other dogs and being in the company of his beloved Natascha, who works at the Hunde Pension.

Arran wasn’t having any of Noyzi’s mess. I halfway expected him to take off his belt and give Noyzi a whoopin’.


We got to our hotel at about 5:00pm. Bill very kindly brought our portable GPS with us, instead of using the car’s built in GPS. I hate the car’s GPS, because it interrupts me when I’m talking and mutes my music. Also, the portable GPS can give live traffic updates, while the car’s built in GPS doesn’t, because Bill has yet to get a SIM card for the car. The Volvo is capable of providing Internet access, but we just haven’t gotten around to it. But God forbid we go anywhere without using the GPS… On the rare occasions when I drive, I don’t usually use the GPS.

It was cold and rainy when we arrived, so there wasn’t a lot of beautiful scenery to behold. My guess is that this town is kind of manufactured for skiing. I’m sure there’s a history here, but from where we sit, it just looks like a ritzy ski village for wealthy people. Still, there’s snow here, which is different.

We had a quiet evening, because actually getting to the town was an ordeal. There’s a tunnel that only allows a few cars to go at a time, which causes backups. Since the tunnel is just minutes away from the hotel, it was a bit of a pain. Once we got through it, we had to climb a mountain, which had lots of switchbacks. All the snow and rocky scenery reminded me of something out of a sci-fi movie. But as soon as we got to the top of the mountain, there was our hotel. Bill hadn’t been able to find it on the GPS, since it’s a new place, but honestly, if you drive into Andermatt, you can’t miss it. It’s plain as day.

After checking in, we had a beer at the bar, and then decided to eat in the hotel restaurant. If it hadn’t been rainy outside, I think we would have done better to look for a local restaurant, but I didn’t feel like getting a sweater. After dinner, we watched British TV and went to bed. Bill woke up at about 2:00am to pee, and somehow tripped one of the new fangled motion detector lights in the bathroom. The light came on, and flooded through the window by the shower, which lit up the room, and woke me up.

Why are so many newer hotels putting in windows in the shower? I mean, yes, you get the benefit of daylight in the bathroom, but if someone has to get up early, or needs the toilet in the night, the whole room is going to wake up. Ah well, this is a very nice hotel, and a less expensive option than the hotel I found for $900 a night. It IS Switzerland, you know… This place was only $250 a night. 😉

Anyway, we’re going to pack up after breakfast and head to Torrechiara, outside of Parma. That’s where I expect the real fun will begin. Or, at least the real eating… Good thing I brought fat pants. Not that I own any skinny pants. I don’t think we’ll see any snow in Torrechiara.

The one strange thing I did see yesterday, besides the Swiss rest stop that reminded me of a ski lodge and charged 1 euro to pee in (or the equivalent in Francs), was this… We were at a rest stop near Karlsruhe, having a schnitzel break. As we were getting ready to get back on the road, I noticed an older gent on a bike. He had a full beard and long hair, and he wore a bright orange safety vest, but no helmet. He stopped at the trash cans, and that was when I noticed the surgical face mask hanging under his chin.

He then started digging through the trash. Bill commented that he was probably scavenging for bottles. That’s not so strange. I used to do that when I was a very little kid in Northern Virginia. But then, this dude shocked me as I watched him hold the bottles up to eye level, look inside, and DRINK the contents! Then, he nonchalantly put the empties in a bag. I guess he’ll be turning them in for euros.

The whole thing struck me as kind of absurd, though. He was wearing an orange vest… maybe to make him look “official” and safety conscious, like so many Germans are. He also wore a mask, though under his chin. These were clearly “safety measures”. And then he DRANK strange liquids from someone else’s bottles. I was just grateful that at least he didn’t take a piss in front of me, which is what more commonly happens to me at German rest stops.

Well, we’ll see what strange happenings and funny things we’ll experience today. I won’t promise to write every day, but these short jots will help when I write up the whole trip when we get home!

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Uncategorized

When the village comes together for WINE!

A few days ago, I noticed someone in our local Facebook group had posted that there would be a wine stand this week. I immediately told Bill, who was delighted by the news. He loves going to the wine stands. I like them, too. Our village used to have them every other week in the warmer months as a fundraiser for local clubs. But then we had COVID-19 to deal with, and for over a year, there were no wine stands. We did have one last fall at the very end of the season, but COVID restrictions were still pretty heavy at that time. They are now loosening somewhat, even though a lot of people in Germany are still getting the virus. We were supposed to have “freedom day” last weekend, but Hesse and a number of other states have decided to prolong the measures until at least April 2. Last night’s shindig was delightfully rule free. No one was checking for vaccines, and not many people bothered with masks. We’ll see if Bill and I get sick in the next few days (knock on wood). We stayed away from the crowded areas.

Nevertheless, we did manage to attend last night’s wine stand, in spite of Noyzi’s protests. I think he was just confused because I wore my blue Longwood sweatshirt, which I usually wear when I walk the dogs. He was insisting on trying to come with us. It’s not that he wouldn’t have been welcome, either. The wine stands are very kid and dog friendly. It’s just that he’s still so skittish around people he doesn’t know… and it’s not fun to drink wine while dealing with a restless dog his size. As for Arran, he just gets cranky when he’s around a lot of people, even though he’s friendly.

Noyzi is making some progress in the friend making department. We ran into the proprietor of the local Italian restaurant, pictured in the photos below. The guy likes dogs, and Bill later told me that he worked with a dog rescue. Noyzi could tell he was a friendly and kind man, so he let the guy pet him and even tried to engage in play with him. It was so cute! I love watching Noyzi turn into a confident, happy pooch.

Last night’s stand offered brats and lots of local wines from Hochheim am Main, located very close to Breckenheim. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood… the atmosphere was even friendlier and congenial than usual. I think it’s because the wine stands used to be so much more frequent than they are now. People were definitely ready to mingle. The sign for the stand went up early this week– earlier than usual. And, as you can see, it was well attended! We stayed for about 90 minutes or so… long enough to try all of the wines. Then we came home– it was about a five minute walk. The boys were very happy to see us.

I hope the wine stands are back to stay, even though I usually have a headache on the mornings after!

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France

Reunited with France… and it felt so good to be back! Part nine

Sunday morning, we woke up more than ready to head home to Germany. I missed Noyzi and Arran, even though I generally enjoy it when we have a chance to take a break from the dogs. I saw so many cute dogs in France, including a couple of European styled beagles that made me want to get one of my own! Of course, I won’t be doing that until we are down to one dog again. Arran doesn’t share well, and even after about 18 months with Noyzi, he only barely tolerates him. And Noyzi is a very kind and considerate dog.

We went down to the Stammtisch to find our usual breakfast. The day prior, the breakfast lady had thought we were leaving and asked us if we wanted to pay. We had to remind her that Sunday was our day of departure. I got the impression that maybe people don’t typically stay at the Auberge au Boeuf for several nights, as we did. But actually, there’s a lot to do in the area around Sessenheim. It’s not too far to get to Strasbourg. Nancy and Metz aren’t as close as Strasbourg is, but we could have visited there if the mood struck. Of course, the Alsatian wine route, south of Strasbourg, isn’t far, either. Neither is Baden-Baden, the great German spa town.

As you can see by my posts, we did manage to find several cute and diverse eastern French hamlets. It occurred to me that north of Strasbourg is more diverse in appearance than the southern area is. Over the past few years, Bill and I have visited Alsace more than anywhere else in Europe. We almost completely missed Alsace the first time we lived in Germany together. I’m so glad we’ve had the opportunity to explore this unique, historic, and beautiful part of France. We really enjoyed visiting Sessenheim, Soufflenheim, Haguenau, Bitche, Obernai, and Saverne! Each place was different and had its own special vibe and history.

It’s not lost on me that my unexpected and unplanned lifestyle as an “overeducated housewife” has come with certain perks. If I had done with my life what I had planned to do, I might have managed a visit to Paris or Lyon… or maybe to Nice again. Those are all lovely cities, but they tend to be teeming with Americans. Thanks to Bill’s work with the Army, I’ve had some great opportunities to see “the real France”, as it was put by a British man who owned a wine shop in Cluny, France, which we visited in 2017. Cluny is a very nice city in Burgundy and we loved our time there. But I would not expect too many Americans to go, especially not from the United States. That was where Bill ate pig intestines! Talk about a typically FRENCH experience!

Anyway, we enjoyed our last breakfast, but it was time to go home. We loaded up the car and I paid for everything with my credit card– about 1600 euros ($1800 approximately) when all was said and done. That was for four nights in a beautiful suite, breakfast for two every morning, three bottles of wine, four apéritifs, and two nights of sumptuous dinners for two. Parking was free. I feel good about stimulating the local economy.

On the way out of Sessenheim, we stopped at a nearby Boulangerie/Patisserie to get some French pastries. Bill got several beignets, two pain au chocolats, and a kugelhopf. It was a lot for just the two of us. Fortunately, the kuglehopf has kept well in the fridge. I wish he’d gotten some croissants, too. French croissants are better than the locals ones we can get.

The drive back to Wiesbaden was totally uneventful and took about two hours. We had no traffic issues at all, and the weather was fine. I had to laugh on Sunday night, as we dined on Popeye’s Fried Chicken from the food court on post. It’s crazy that we went from five star dining to fast food in less than 24 hours.

I would not hesitate to book Auberge au Boeuf again. Next time, I hope we can try their Stammtisch at lunch or dinner, and if the menu has changed, I would definitely be up for another grand gourmet experience at their restaurant. We’ll see what the future holds! Below are are few last photos from our most recent adventures in France.

If you’ve been following along with this series, thank you so much for reading. My travel blog has been dying, thanks to the pandemic and moving to a new platform. I hope this series will be the first of more to come in 2022! Wish us luck!

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Art in Breckenheim…

We’re leaving tomorrow for our Stuttgart dental/edge of France odyssey… I am looking forward to seeing some new things, even if it does mean wearing a fucking face mask for a few days. Hopefully, the dental visit will go okay.

In the meantime, I got some pretty photos from some children’s artwork that was put up in our little village over the weekend… I’m not sure what the occasion was, but it was nice to see these pictures done by the local tykes. (ETA: Our local Facebook group announced that this was a contest. Winners were announced today.). Maybe it has to do with Carnival. I remember how, a couple of years ago, we got mooned by a drunken kid who was celebrating Fasching. That was before the COVID-19 nightmare, though.

For the love of God, get vaccinated!

The other day, we ran into some kids from the local elementary school, dressed in their Fasching costumes. One little girl asked if she could pet Noyzi, who was obviously wanting to say “hi”, but still too shy to stand still for a pat on the head. He’ll get there. I’m continually amazed by how sweet and kind Noyzi is, in spite of his humble beginnings. He loves people, and other dogs… He even loves Arran. I have noticed how kind and considerate he is to the old man, even though Arran is cranky towards him.

Speaking of the dogs, they are now wanting to be walked, and only being somewhat patient. So I will wrap this up and get on my way. Stay tuned for some honest to God new fresh content on this blog VERY soon! I can’t wait!

ETA: Here are a couple more photos…

It’s so nice to see sunshine again.
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trip planning

Dreaming about Danish delights in Denmark…

Well friends, it’s been another boring winter week in the land of COVID-19 restrictions and crappy weather. Bill was TDY during the work week, so I spent my days alone, doing a lot of reading and thinking. The news came out that Denmark was going to be the first European to end COVID restrictions. Given that we haven’t spent a lot of time in Denmark, and both of us are sick to death of the endless and ridiculous rules in Germany, I proposed to Bill that maybe a trip to Denmark may be in order.

Of course, since I am not interested in taking public transportation, a trip to Denmark would be a haul. But it is doable, as we drove through Denmark in 2019 when we picked up our new Volvo in Sweden. I thought it was a pretty country, and I would like to spend more time there. The only other time we’ve been was when we took a Baltic cruise in 2009 and Copenhagen was one of our stops. Last time we were there, we just spent an overnight. I am itching to travel, and ready to ditch face masks… especially the fucking FFP2s. So we’ll see. I’ll do some research to see where we might like to go. Either way, we’ll probably have to break up the trip with a stop in Germany. I think it would take us at least 8 or 9 hours to get there from where we live. Maybe we’ll turn it into a grand trip, since Norway and Sweden are reportedly also going to do away with mandates.

Aside from dreaming about Denmark, I also bought Bill a couple of funny aprons. I decided to replace his old one, because one of the ties broke off during a wash. Bill had said he would get one for himself, but acquiesced when I asked him if he had an issue with my choices. He laughed and said “no”, then added that if he bought himself an apron, it would probably be black with knives on it, or something. So I went looking, and sure enough, I found the apron pictured below within five minutes…

Yes, he’s holding a knife. I bought that for him some time ago. The comment on the apron translates to “Leave the recipe behind, I am a cook, not a chemist.”

Just as I was about to click away from the page, I noticed another apron that I knew Bill needed…

Bill is a Star Wars fan… I am not a Star Wars fan, but I knew he’d love this apron.

Yesterday, Bill raised the idea of maybe going into town and trying out the new BrewDog restaurant in Wiesbaden. But the weather today is positively terrible. It’s cold, windy, and rainy. And Germany, unlike its northern neighbors, continues to persist with oppressive COVID-19 rules which require even vaccinated people to be boosted and/or tested. I am triple vaccinated, but it’s just too much of a hassle to deal with the restrictions, just so we can drink beer downtown. So we stayed home, and Bill went out and got doughnuts, because I told him I wanted some yesterday. He was going to go to the train station to get them from Dunkin’ Donuts, but I told him to just go to the neighborhood bakery…

Not bad at all! I love doughnuts, especially on a Sunday morning. As you can see, we have Berliners, and choco-Brotchens, as well as regular chocolate covered doughnuts.

We’ll get to BrewDog eventually. Even Germans are getting fed up with the COVID rules that never seem to end. Eventually, the government will want people to spend money.

Arran is fine with us staying at home with him, though…

He sure was glad when Bill got home. So was I.

We were supposed to be going to Switzerland in the middle of the month, as Bill has a few classes planned at the Jung Institute that he was going to do in person. But because of Omicron, he decided to do the courses virtually. We were also going to see James Taylor next weekend, but that show was postponed until November. Hopefully, it will go on. I’m still waiting on a Keb’ Mo’ show that was supposed to happen in November 2020 and has been postponed three times. At this writing, it’s supposed to go on in May 2022. I look forward to it… if it happens.

Noyzi is still his adorable self, too… Every day, he becomes more attached. It does my heart good to see how much he’s changed. And now, when he needs something, he doesn’t hesitate to bark at us to wake us up. But he’s usually polite enough to wait until about 6:00am, if we haven’t already gotten up to tend to him.

Good thing he’s so cute.

Well, that about does it for this week. I hope that very soon, I can get back to sharing some really fun stuff. But for now, it’s gloomy. Even if COVID weren’t an issue, I wouldn’t want to go out in the yucky weather. The featured photo today is one I took in Copenhagen, back in June 2009. Those were the good old days. Maybe we can revisit them soon. We really need a change of scenery. We want our lives back, too.

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Uncategorized

Another week of not much to report…

This time of year, especially during a pandemic, is for the birds. The weather is wet, cold, and yucky. Add in the crazily contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19, and Germany’s ever changing pandemic rules, and it’s tough to keep a travel blog going.

We did have a couple of fun developments this week, though. The less exciting one is that Noyzi and Arran got baths yesterday. That may not seem like a big deal, except that it was only Noyzi’s third bath in his lifetime, and he’s already about three years old. He was getting kind of stinky. I keep watching dog grooming videos on YouTube, and the groomer is always talking about how important it is to groom one’s pets. I decided that it was time for Noyzi to get a bath, and we decided to bathe Arran, too. Now, both of them smell much better, and Noyzi’s coat is all soft and shiny. He likes baths, too, so that’s a good thing. I would hate to have to wrestle him in the tub at his size. He’s a big boy. Incidentally, Noyzi loves to watch dog grooming videos. He’s as fascinated by them as I am, although for different reasons.

The more exciting development is that my husband’s daughter found out that she’s expecting another son in a few months. She announced the gender in a really cute way… using pink and blue ice cream cups. I know she’s excited, as are Bill and his mother, who were kept out of her life for many years. I am excited too, I guess. I knew she was carrying a boy, just like I knew she was pregnant before she announced it, just because Bill had said she looked like she was glowing on a Skype call back in September.

I’m feeling a little down today, for a lot of reasons, so I’m going to keep this post short. I hope next week, I’ll be a little less depressed.

Apparently, she’s been craving pickles a lot.

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anecdotes, dogs, Germany, shopping

Another week, another impulse Facebook purchase…

Once again, thanks to the weather and COVID-19, it wasn’t a very exciting week in Deutschland. Even if the pandemic weren’t an issue, I doubt I’d want to go out and about in the gloomy weather that happens every January in this part of Europe. It’s chilly–not particularly cold, which is unusual for Germany in January– and there’s a lot of rain. We had a couple of dustings of snow, but nothing remarkable. The backyard is still a slop pit. Last night, I was cutting pieces of our felled crepe myrtle and feeding them to the fireplace, surprised by how easily they burned, despite being newly cut and not seasoned.

Our landlord usually supplies us with free firewood, but he hasn’t offered any lately and Bill hasn’t requested any. We don’t use the fireplace as often as we probably should… we both love having fires, and we haven’t been lucky enough to live in a lot of places with fireplaces. So far, I count two homes with fireplaces and one with a really awesome masonry heater. Sometimes I wish we could transport this house and its landlord to Baden-Württemberg, where we had snow more often.

Anyway, none of that is either here nor there. Today’s post is about yet another Facebook purchase I made. I don’t usually buy stuff off of Facebook, but one night, I was on the brink of falling asleep, and I saw an ad for the DryMee quick dry bath mat. I was half asleep when I made this purchase decision, and once I made it, I kind of regretted it. The mat cost about 40 euros, after all. And then I noticed how long it would take to get to me– 10 to 15 work days, I think. Why? Because it was coming all the way from China!

But the mat arrived this week, and I have to say, I am pleased with it for one major reason, which you can see by the photo above. The mat is flat and thin enough to fit under the door when it’s open. So now I don’t have to stand on a wet floor after a shower or move a mat there while I’m showering. Also, while I can’t say that the mat is absorbent as it appears to be in the video on the Facebook ad I bought it from, it IS quite absorbent and makes quick work of sucking up the water from the shower.

On the Web site where I bought this mat, it says that they’re running a “New Year’s Special” with 50 percent off the suggested price of 79,90 euros. Well, folks, I think the suggested price is bullshit, and I wouldn’t pay that much for that mat or any other mat, unless it was capable of massaging my feet or something special like that. But for what it is, and what it does, I have to admit I am satisfied. It does what we need it to do, and I am delighted that I can open and close the bathroom door without having to move it.

One thing I also have to mention… When you order stuff from other countries, sometimes you have to pay duties or customs fees. I didn’t have to pay anything for this mat, although I was prepared with some euros just in case. When I made my hasty impulse purchase, I didn’t realize this would be shipped from China. If I had known it was coming from there, I probably would not have bought it… not because I have anything against China per se, but because it takes so long for orders from China to get to us. On the other hand, as I wrote earlier on my main blog this week, I have gotten some real and honest enjoyment out of some Chinese products, like the hat pictured below.

Yes, that is a picture of Mister Rogers with his two middle fingers raised.

Last year, an enterprising Chinese businessperson offered this nifty hat for sale on Amazon.de. And yes, as an impulse buyer, I decided to purchase one. The hat came in handy this week after an encounter with a drunk hoodlum in our neighborhood. You can read about that incident on my main blog, as it’s not PG rated enough for this blog. Kidding about the PG rating… but not about the obnoxious uninvited visitor. I also wrote an update after some of our other neighbors posted about the intruder in our neighborhood Facebook group.

Mister Rogers did this while singing with little kids. Clearly, he wasn’t aware that raising the middle finger is taboo.

I like how community minded Breckenheim is. I was going to cross post that story on this blog, since it needs some love, but I decided that a lot of the people who are currently reading this blog also read the other one. So if you’re not a reader of my main blog, now’s your chance to check it out. I hope it doesn’t offend.

Noyzi the Kosovar rescue dog went to the vet for some routine vaccines. He charmed the vet with his stumpy little natural bobtail, which is always wagging. He becomes more adorable by the week, especially as he trusts Bill more and more. It really is rewarding to have him. Sometimes, a little ghost of Zane (his predecessor) comes out. But Noyzi is very much his own dog with his own personality.

Noyzi does one thing that most of our rescued hounds have never done. I think the one exception was CuCullain (CC), our very first beagle mix (with husky) rescue. That is, Noyzi will often “stand guard”. He will sit or lie next to me, facing the door. CC was a tri-colored beagle mix with bright blue eyes and a horrific husky-like undercoat that shed a lot. But he did have some of those big dog– prey oriented– traits. Sometimes, Noyzi reminds me of him. Like CC, Noyzi also doesn’t bark much, nor is he a licker. He will, however, happily plunge his nose into my ass, especially if I’m bent over. As someone who usually has beagles, this is a strange thing to get used to. All of our dogs have been too short to do such a thing.

The only other major event that came up this week is that our landlord came over to settle the Nebenkosten (other costs– water, gas, etc.) for 2021. Once again, we didn’t use as much water and trash service as we paid for, so we got about 600 euros back. And once again, I am amazed at the differences between this landlord and others we’ve had. It’s so nice to rent from someone who is fair, honest, and treats us with basic respect. I hope we can stay awhile… at least until our stocks recover from the recent plunge. I doubt that will be a problem, given the state of the world today. But I’ve also learned after years as a spouse to a military guy, sometimes Uncle Sam has other plans. Or, barring Uncle Sam’s plans, some meddlesome, narcissistic twit who doesn’t mind upending other people’s lives based on their own whims.

Someday, we WILL travel again. Or we will eat in a restaurant. But for now, so ends another gloomy winter week in Deutschland… as the post Christmas blues slowly wane into the February blues.

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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!

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Drizzle and chilly weather means chilling out at home…

We didn’t go anywhere over the weekend because it was cold and rainy. Instead, we watched concert DVDs, drank some beer and wine, and did some talking. A few days ago, I spent a few hours cleaning the oven door, making good use of the at home time we’re enjoying during the Christmas COVID-19 season. I had given some thought to going to Mainz to enjoy the Christmas market, but the wet, cold weather made the trip seem less appealing. It amazes me to see so many friends and family members back home, wearing shorts and tank tops in December. I remember when, even in Virginia, December meant it would be cold outside. Global warming is no joke, is it?

We did see some snow flurries last week. That was one thing I enjoyed about living near Stuttgart. We got more snow because we were at a higher altitude. I don’t love going out in snow, but as long as it’s going to be cloudy and wet, I prefer to see some white stuff. Besides, snow is pretty, especially when it’s fresh and hasn’t been peed on or stirred up by the dogs.

I did take a short walk today. Noyzi and Arran insisted on taking a stroll. Noyzi even barked at me, making it impossible to work on a recording project I was doing for a YouTube collaboration. We took an even shorter walk than usual, because there was a lady out there with a little dachshund and she was going the way we usually go. I didn’t want to deal with the dogs freaking out and barking the whole time. We went on an alternative route, and I took a few photos. I am combining today’s photos with some I took last week.

I don’t have much else to report. The weather continues to be wet and depressing. But Christmas is coming… Hopefully, there will be some holiday joy.

Hey… at least I have a new theme for my blog, right?

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