anecdotes

All the trees are down…

and the sky is… actually sunny right now. For once, it’s not cloudy and gray outside, but I fear that will change in a few hours, when it starts snowing again.

We had snow in the wee hours of the morning, and sadly, the other crepe myrtle in our backyard was a casualty. Bill and I slept in, enjoying the ability to snooze through the dark hours of the morning. I got up to let Noyzi out, and beheld this sight…

We had two myrtle trees in our backyard. One of them mysteriously died a couple of years ago and we basically cut it down ourselves. The other held on for a bit longer, but was looking somewhat peaked this year. I noticed it wasn’t handling the very light snow very well. We’ve also had lots of rain lately, so the ground is very soggy and messy. I guess the snow that fell early this morning was too much for it. Bill was up at about 3am, letting the dogs out for a nocturnal whiz. He said it was really coming down then. But now it’s already melting, as the temperature isn’t very cold.

When I broke the news to Bill about the tree, he was feeling a bit traumatized and full of dread, given our harrowing experiences dealing with the landlady in our last house. But he went out and shoveled the common area, and when the landlord eventually made an appearance, he told him about the tree. The landlord said, “Okay, I’ll come take a look at it later.” Then he drove off in his car to go pick up a new battery.

I set about taking down the two Christmas trees. I’d actually kind of been looking forward to taking them down… The smaller tree had a dead string of lights on it that gave me the excuse to get rid of the other strands like it, which for some reason had about 30 feet of wire for about ten feet of actual lights, and huge boxy plugs that made it hard to plug them into a power strip. I don’t know why they were like that, but boy, were they annoying. But they did last eight Christmases, so I guess that’s pretty good.

I do like looking at the lights… and I will miss their colorful, homey glow in the living room, which is not very highly furnished. But once January comes around, it becomes necessary to dispense with the holiday decor. Oh… I guess I could just leave it up… I did have a friend whose dad left up the beautiful Christmas tree her late mother had put up many years ago. It was actually very pretty, even though it was a holiday relic that had been turned into art.

My friend was an artist herself, and is now a psychology professor at the University of South Carolina, which is where I attended graduate school. I met her in the early 90s when we both worked at a church summer camp in Virginia. She had New Year’s party one year in her hometown of Grottoes, Virginia, for all of us camp folks. That’s how I got to see her mom’s tree… and the beautiful farm her dad owned. I remember it snowed then, too, and we went sledding! Later, we played “Spin the Bottle”, which was weird. But it was also fun! Sometimes, I miss being young.

The landlord just rang the doorbell and he and Bill went out back. He took one look at the tree and said, “Maybe it’s too old. Does it bother you now?”

Bill said it didn’t, but he just wanted to let the landlord know.

The landlord said, “Okay, we’ll just leave it for now, and then when the weather dries up a bit, we’ll remove it and maybe get a gardener to come in and plant something else.”

This probably means Bill will have to re-lay the boundary for the lawnmower robot again. But maybe we’ll get a fruit tree or something.

Wow… the difference between landlord/landlady responses to falling things due to acts of God is astounding. Bill is relieved that went so smoothly. So am I. I don’t know that crepe myrtles were the best idea for that spot in the yard, anyway. The fence that separates our yard from our neighbor’s is overgrown with ivy in the summer. That probably had a lot to do with why the trees died.

Anyway… now we have a reason to plant a real garden, if we can keep Noyzi out of it. I will miss the shade in the summer, though… and the privacy. It’s sad when trees collapse. Rest in peace, crepe myrtle. I’m sure our dearly departed Zane will be happy to lift his leg on you once again, up there over the Rainbow Bridge.

Standard
France

Running away to Ribeauville, France… part four (very pet friendly and final thoughts)

I wish we’d had the chance to stay a little longer and do a little more.  I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend visiting Ribeauville in the dead of winter unless you just want peace and quiet.  The town was a bit devoid of people during our stay.  On the other hand, if you like quiet coupled with a change of pace, January might be the perfect time to see this very charming town on the Alsatian wine route.  As much as I liked Riquewihr, which we visited during the summer, I think I prefer Ribeauville.  It doesn’t seem as touristy as Riquewihr does.  Besides, if the weather had been better, we could have walked to Riquewihr.  It’s only four kilometers away.

 

Bill and I made a pact as we were leaving that we’d try to get back to Alsace soon… and try more restaurants, visit more places, and even enjoy how dog friendly the whole area is.  France strikes me as more dog friendly as a whole than even a lot of places in Germany.  We even met another beagle during our first walk.  I think the owner was perplexed when he did a “package check” and noticed our dogs are missing their balls.  I don’t think spaying and neutering is as much of a thing in Europe as it is in the USA.  And in France, it seems especially odd.  Twice, we’ve been there with our dogs and people have been confused by our dogs’ lack of testicles.  It makes for interesting conversations in our pitiful French.

This sign gave us a laugh.

 

There are plenty of waste receptacles and bags…  

And if you cross this bridge on the edge of town, you will find grass.

As we drove on B28 back to Germany, it became clear that we missed a big snowstorm.  Where we were, there were just low temperatures and constant flurries.  The drive back home was absolutely gorgeous, though… especially in the spa towns we passed through on the way toward Freudenstadt.  I wanted to stop, check into a hotel, drink mulled wine, and have a couple of treatments.

I wish I could have gotten more pictures of this… it was just gorgeous with all the evergreens heavy with snow.

According to this truck, Christ lives!

 

We are indeed blessed to get to live in such a beautiful area in Germany so close to such a beautiful and different area of France.  If you have the time and the means, I highly recommend a visit to Ribeauville or Riquewihr.  They are both lovely towns, especially if you enjoy wine and good food.  By all means, bring your dogs!

Standard
Germany, staying home, weather

November snow…

Yet again, we stayed cooped up yesterday because the weather was kind of yucky.  But we were rewarded this morning with some pretty snow.  I have taken a few photos for your perusal.

Just as the snow was starting yesterday at about 2:00pm.

 

The sky was pretty angry.  One thing I like about where we live is that it’s easy to watch the weather.

An hour or so later, the sun came out…  It looks like it’s literally chasing the clouds away in this photo.

Another view.  Looks like a totally different day.

One more shot of the crazy sun/clouds…

 

By about 11:00pm, we had a good covering of the white stuff.  This morning, we had about two or three inches.  Although we got rare snow during our Thanksgiving visit to Virginia last year, where I come from, snow in November is almost unheard of.

It’s not very cold outside and I see the sun trying to peek through.  This may be gone by tonight.

I do enjoy watching snow, though… especially if I don’t have to go out in it.

 

Maybe later, I’ll have the chance to dine at a new restaurant…  We’ll see.

 
 
Standard
Germany, weather

Ambivalent about all this weather…

I like snow.  I really do.  It’s still snowing right now.  Big fat flakes are falling gently to the ground, covering everything in a cold blanket of soft white.  There’s something about snow that makes everything seem cozy and sweet.  But it’s been snowing for days now and I’m feeling a little eager to get out of the house.  The trouble is, even when it’s nice out, I rarely go out.

Still, I have to admit, the snow is very pretty, especially since we live in a somewhat rural area where there are a lot of trees.  I was thinking I might want to go for a walk in the forest and take some photos.  But it’s cold out and even the dogs don’t even want to stay out for more than a minute or two.

I took this picture right before the snow started up again.  I like how everything looks blue…

 

It’s hard to believe that soon, this will melt.  As soon as we get weather above freezing, anyway.  Looks like that will be Friday.

Standard
dogs, Germany, weather

It’s still coming down…

But we did manage to go out and get a snow shovel yesterday…  Seriously, there are no signs that it’s going to stop anytime soon.  I’m having visions of Little House on the Prairie.

This was Zane this morning.  I think he is enjoying this winter sloth weather.

Last night, I made a very nice dinner.  Bill was talking about wanting lasagna and we had some stuff that needed to be used.  So I made a lasagna that turned out perfectly!  We paired it with wine the landlords brought, homemade bread that I made, and music by Van Morrison…

I should cook more often…

Standard
Germany, weather

Yea! Snow!

The view from our bedroom yesterday…  a lot of this melted.

The view from our bedroom this morning… it’s coming down fast and furious!

The original forecast according to weather.com was 3-5 inches.  I think we’re past that and the snow shows no sign whatsoever of stopping.

I saw one of our neighbors dutifully shoveling the sidewalk by his house.  I think our snow shovel is broken.

In a way, this is a bit of a bummer because I have been holed up in the house for the past couple of days and am a little stir crazy.  In another way, it’s a bit of a thrill, because I haven’t been home for a good snow storm in years.  Since 2009, we’ve lived in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.  We got a little wimpy dusting of snow in North Carolina and a couple of significant snows in Georgia, one of which actually kept Bill snowbound for a day or two because we lived in a very rural area.  But there was nothing in Texas, obviously.

We did run into snow in Virginia last month.  Naturally, it melted very quickly.  According to the forecast, it looks like this snow will stick around for awhile.  The temperatures over the next few days are slated to be very cold.

Bill left our window cracked last night and I have to admit, I slept well with the cold air circulating over our down covered bed.  The two beagles were all snuggled in with us and it was very cozy.  I didn’t wake up until after 9:00am, which for me is unheard of.  My days of sleeping until noon ended with adolescence.

Well… it’s a good thing we stocked up on beer last weekend.  Looks like we’ll be sitting around drinking a lot of it today.  Maybe later, the dogs will want to take a romp near the forest.  I can finally break out the faux fur lined snow boots and parka I bought last time we lived here.  God, I love living in Germany!  Wish we had a fireplace.  Also wish we had a snow shovel.

Dogs enjoying the snow!  Zane loves it, but Arran wasn’t interested in staying out too long.

Poor Bill.  Through force of habit, I locked the door.  He was out in the cold!

Standard
Virginia

Our big trip to Virginia… part two!

In case you weren’t paying attention last week, we had quite a bit of rare weather.  Bill and I got caught in the middle of a Nor’easter, which started as we were getting out of the DC area on Wednesday.  We left early in the morning hoping to avoid traffic hell, but by the time we got to the outskirts of the DC metropolitan area, there were big fat snowflakes falling.  The snow wasn’t too bad, though.  It made everything pretty.  There were a few accidents, including a jackknifed tractor trailer, on the way south to Natural Bridge.  Most people, by and large, were safe though.  And I didn’t see a whole lot of people braving the storm anyway.

We stopped in a convenience store so I could have a potty break.  While we were in there, I noticed someone wiped a huge booger on the door of the bathroom stall.  I was almost tempted to photograph it for posterity, but I decided it was better to be a grown up.

I decided to photograph this sign instead.

I don’t remember the last time I saw snow in Virginia during November.

We went straight to the Kroger once we got to Lexington and picked up some snacks and drinks for the festivities at my aunt’s and uncle’s house.  I picked up chips, cookies, beer, wine, water, and soda.  Evidently, I picked up one too few soda packs, since the cashier told us we could use a Kroger card to get a deal.  I pissed off a woman behind us when I dashed off to get another 12 pack of soda.  Doing that saved us $11.

The Kroger parking lot…

We were among the first to arrive for the festivities and were greeted by my cousin, Brad.  Brad and I used to live in the same neighborhood when we were very young.  We fought like cats and dogs, too.  But he was hard at work at Granny’s house and even helped Bill when he got stuck trying to get out of the driveway.  One nice thing about getting older is getting past all the stupid childhood fights.  I can say that now, Brad and I get along just fine!

My late Granny’s house is a very homey place.  There’s a creek that runs in front of the house where generations of kids have played, including yours truly.  There’s another creek that runs perpendicular to the one that goes in front of the house.  Most of us have fallen in either creek at least once or twice in a lifetime.  I have many great memories of visiting.  I love to leave the window open at night and listen to the creek rush by.  And I love to remember all the many times my cousins and I vandalized the closet under the stairs when we used it as an impromptu clubhouse.  I bet there aren’t too many homes as well loved as my Granny’s house has been.

Me and Granny at her house in August 1972.  I was maybe 6 weeks old…

Someone in my family has lived in that house since 1937.  It started out as a rental and was later purchased by my grandfather, who ended up selling off most of the 55 acres he’d bought with the house.  Later, my Uncle Brownlee and his wife, Gayle, bought the house.  I hope it will pass on to someone in the family when it comes time for them to pass the torch.  It’s a very special place.

There was good attendance this year at the reunion.  Only a few folks were missing.  Consequently, things got very crowded in the house as people piled in for dinner and football watching.  I didn’t see a lot of game playing going on.  Usually, someone starts a card game or a horseshoe match.  This year, I think the weather was too crappy and bitterly cold.  By the time it cleared up a bit, people were on their way home.

Thanksgiving dinner was a huge affair with plenty of food brought by relatives.  My favorite part was the corn casserole, which I think my cousin Clark’s wife, Chris, made.  That stuff is like crack!  Someone else made a killer batch of macaroni and cheese.  It’s not quite as good as mine, but it was pretty damn good.

We didn’t stay too long for Thanksgiving because the house was really crowded and I had to sing the next day.  We had our memorial for my dad and I was determined not to screw it up.

Granny on a motorcycle…  

Standard