We just got a visit from the “ghost” of Zane…

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It’s been two weeks since we lost our beloved beagle, Zane, to canine lymphoma. I’ve really missed him a lot. It’s been hard getting used to not having him with me all the time, as I have for the last ten years.

I usually get “signs” when I lose a pet. Often, the signs come in the form of vivid dreams about the recently deceased animal. For years, I have had dreams about my long deceased pony, Rusty, who was my best friend in high school. I also get other “signs” that trigger memories. A lot of times, the visits seem to come in the form of unusual behaviors in surviving pets. For instance, Arran was never a particularly gentle dog when we had Zane– or especially compared to Zane, who was extremely gentle– but lately, he’s been a little more Zane-like. Unfortunately, Zane hasn’t influenced Arran to be as well behaved as Zane was, but Arran seems to be trying harder lately. I took him to the vet yesterday and, for once, he was a perfect gentleman who didn’t shriek the whole time.

This morning, the doorbell rang unexpectedly. It was the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We get them no matter where we are. The only place we’ve ever lived and missed out on JWs was when we lived on Fort Belvoir. And that was because it is a military installation, and JWs aren’t supposed to serve in the military. Religious proselytizing is also not allowed on military installations.

A very confident woman who spoke perfect UK accented English announced to Bill that she wanted to “talk about the Bible”. Bill interrupted her and launched into a diatribe about an angry conversation he’d had with God regarding Zane’s recent death. Without giving her a moment to collect herself, Bill told our unexpected and uninvited German religion peddling visitor a story that probably rattled her sensibilities. I don’t know this for sure, but I have a feeling that even religious Germans have a hard time swallowing “Rainbow Bridge” talk about animals and their souls. Most Germans strike me as being much too practical to believe in animals having that kind of a connection to God… but, of course, I could be wrong about that.

Bill told the JW that when it became clear Zane was going to die, he’d told God that he was pissed off that, once again, we were going to be forced to euthanize a much beloved family member. But then, Bill got an “answer” from God, reminding him that euthanasia is ultimately a gift. We would have some time to make sure Zane was comfortable. I could take many pictures of his last days. We’d be there to ensure that he didn’t suffer, and he would not be alone as he took his last breath.

As Bill was relating that story, I could hear his voice raw with emotion. I knew he also had tears in his eyes, because I’ve seen and heard him like that before. I could hear the JW lady trying and failing to steer the conversation back to her pitch for the JWs. But Bill resolutely continued on with his thoughts on God and our dog’s recent demise. The JW’s male partner was silent the whole time, probably thinking they’d run into a nut.

The JW finally broke in and asked if we had a Bible in the house. Bill said we did. But then she concluded, “But you’re probably in a hurry, aren’t you? You’re too busy to talk to us, right?”

“No, actually, I’m not.” Bill said.

So they spent a few more uncomfortable minutes talking, and I could tell the JW was non-plussed about how to deal with this man who was controlling the conversation, talking about his recently deceased dog. It was pretty funny, and I could just picture the ghost of Zane defending the family, just as he always has, in his noisy, but offbeat, way.

Finally, she said, “Thank you.” and took off. I have a feeling she won’t be back. Although Bill might have gotten the same results if he’d just told her he was a Mormon and offered her a Book of Mormon and a stimulating discussion about religion, I am tickled that Zane’s spirit showed up just in the nick of time. He always was a very faithful and loyal dog who would protect us and the home with his life… or, in this case, his death.

Thanks for “visiting”, Zaneykins… Mama misses you. <3

Shopping American in Wiesbaden…

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Bill and I spent last weekend getting to know our local military installation.  Wiesbaden is a bit different than Stuttgart, which at this writing, has commissaries on each of its four installations.  In Wiesbaden, there’s only one commissary, and it’s located on Hainerberg, which is not the installation where Bill works.  We wanted to buy a few items that aren’t generally available in German grocery stores.  AAFES, too, is located on Hainerberg, which is also where the American schools and stairwell housing are.  Hainerberg is close to Wiesbaden proper.

This week, I knew I would be getting Internet access and we also planned to get German TV.  Prior to last weekend, we had two TVs.  One was a Hitachi model we bought in 2007, when we lived in the Stuttgart area the first time.  That one is compatible with German TV and is dual voltage, although it’s showing its age.  It works fine, but it’s kind of small.  It’s funny, because I remember we paid $899 for it at Panzer Kaserne and I remember thinking it was a huge, snazzy TV back then.   Now, it looks puny and prehistoric.  Even though it’s a “flatscreen” TV, it’s at least twice as thick as today’s models.  I remember thinking it was such a new fangled set, having grown up with a huge floor model box TV that had no remote control.  Times, and TVs, have really changed.

Our other TV was purchased in 2013 at a Target near San Antonio.  That one I figured wouldn’t be compatible with German TV and isn’t dual voltage.  We used it for DVDs and Apple TV in Stuttgart. Now that I know a bit more about modern “smart” TVs, I realize our Target purchased television probably would work with German cable.

Saturday, we decided to go to AAFES to look for a new TV.  We found one.  It’s a 55 inch Samsung model with a curved screen.  It’s a huge TV for us.  I never thought we’d ever go that large.  At $799, it was $100 less than what we paid for our comparatively puny Hitachi from 2007.

It was probably not the best idea to buy a TV at AAFES, since they really only sell American electronics there.  I mean, there are times when you can find 220 appliances  there, and we did find our dual voltage PAL/NTSC compatible TV at the Panzer AAFES.  However, as a general rule, most of what they offer isn’t really Europe friendly.  If you’re planning to move back to the States after three years, that’s probably not such a big deal.  But we’ve been in Germany four years so far and may be here for at least a couple more years.  We probably should have hit Media Markt.

The sales guy at AAFES explained that the old PAL/NTSC thing of old TVs is no longer a thing.  Now, if you have a receiver, you can access German TV with a smart TV.  We were also under the impression that our new TV is dual voltage and, we thought, like our old Hitachi from 2007, it might even come with both American and European plugs.

Well… sadly, we were mistaken.  The new TV is not dual voltage and did not come with compatible plugs.  Like our other “smart” TV, it requires a transformer.  And, when the Deutsche Telekom guy came to install the Internet and our TV service, he said that we needed more Internet equipment besides the receiver they sent us.  I think he said we needed another router and somewhere to hook up to a phone.  There is a phone outlet in our bedroom, but it doesn’t function.  So… our new TV will handle Apple TV and DVDs.  I don’t know if we’ll get German TV or not.  I guess it doesn’t matter.  I’ll let Bill sort it out.

While we were waiting for pay for the new TV, we ended up talking to a very friendly lady wearing an Irish fisherman’s sweater.  Bill can’t resist interjecting whenever someone starts talking about Ireland.  He overheard her talking about the sweater and started telling her about how fishermen in Ireland all have sweaters with special patterns that apply to their families.  It turned out the friendly woman runs a ministry.  She wanted to know if we have kids.  Nope… just dogs.  I guess I don’t have a problem with ministries for those who like them.  I, myself, am not a very religious person.  If I did have children, I’m not sure if they would be religious.  Maybe they would be… but it was kind of an awkward conversation.  On the other hand, it was also nice to be warmly welcomed.

Anyway, we were not the only ones buying TVs on Saturday.  There was a lady ahead of us who was being rather demanding with the sales guys.  She left with a 70 inch TV that barely fit in the back of her SUV.  I heard the sales guy say it was a good thing she didn’t go for the 75 inch model.  I saw several other people carting huge TVs out of AAFES on Saturday.  As for Bill and me, we managed to get the TV in the RAV 4 with no help from anyone.  However, I did almost lose the receipt.  It was very windy on Saturday and the receipt blew out of my hand.  I went chasing after it, looking like the fool I am.

A very nice teenaged girl helped me chase it down as it skittered in front of AAFES.  Every time we thought we had it, a gust of wind would blow it just out of our reach.  Her reflexes were faster than mine were and we finally captured the receipt after a few minutes of chasing it.  Normally, I wouldn’t worry so much about a receipt, but for $799, I figured it was important to keep it in case the TV didn’t work out.

One thing I noticed at AAFES in Wiesbaden is that there is no Turkish rug store there.  I’m kind of sad about that, since I would like to buy a couple more rugs for our house.  Another thing I noticed is that people are completely oblivious at AAFES.  As crowded as the one in Stuttgart is, the one in Wiesbaden was more so, and has a different layout.  And the aisles were packed with products and people who weren’t paying attention.  This was especially true in the food court area, which is where we entered the building.  Next time we go to AAFES, I’m going to skip walking through the food court.  Not only is it very crowded, it’s also packed with people with a one track mind.  I almost got run over by a woman on the way to the fountain drink machines.

We decided not to eat at AAFES, although as we were gassing up the car, I did notice that Wiesbaden has an Asian restaurant on site.  It looked like it gets good reviews, too.  But we decided we’d rather eat in Wiesbaden, so off we went in search of lunch.  More on that in my next post.

Shots of the outside of our new home…

The license plate on our SUV is now different.  We are Wiesbadeners now…

Visited by charming Kinder…

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

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

We are blessed!

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

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

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

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

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

You can get one of these at SaintObnoxious.com…