Hessen

Last night’s *very interesting* wine stand!

In one week, we’ll be in Norway, starting our long awaited two week vacation. Believe me, we’re ready to go. But, for the time being, we’re still hanging out here in Germany, enjoying the sunny, summery weather. I love the mild temperatures and sunshine, but it does have a tendency to make our house a little “clammy”. I think German houses just have a tendency to hold on to heat, which is great for most of the year. In the summer, maybe not so much…

In any case, we had a wine stand last night, so we decided to attend. And now that Noyzi has been to a few of them, he insists on attending, too. I will admit that last night, I was kind of thinking that maybe I’d rather stay in. But Bill was in the mood to mingle, and apparently Noyzi was, too. He made LOTS of new local friends last night.

As we were about to turn to go down the hill, we ran into a German kindergarten teacher named Susie whom we met a few weeks ago. She has an Italian former truffle hunting dog named Billy. She didn’t have Billy with her last night, but Noyzi still recognized her. After saying hello, she walked slightly past us. Noyzi started dragging me down the hill, barking enthusiastically. He wanted Susie to pet him! LOL… I’m sure she thinks he needs schooling, and we probably shouldn’t encourage this. However, it legitimately was an adorable sight, especially since Noyzi used to be terrified of strangers.

I know Noyzi was extremely happy to see Susie, but I also think he knew the wine stand was going on, and was super excited to go to it. It’s like a whole new social aspect of his personality has come out. I think Noyzi likes going to the wine stands because they are held in a familiar place, and he knows some of the people and dogs who attend. Last night, he was more relaxed than he has EVER been in public. Several times, he sat and even laid down on his own.

We talked to several of our neighbors, and met a few new people, including one guy who was wearing a t-shirt advertising a specific brand of African beer that Bill likes. The combination of the beer t-shirt and the guy’s attraction to Noyzi ended up being great icebreakers. It turned out the guy was German, but had lived in Kenya for years. He and his wife live in Breckenheim now, which is a bit safer than Kenya is. Apparently, his mom is a Kenyan citizen now, and she and her husband own a coffee farm. There was a lot more to the conversation, which eventually devolved into a discussion of global issues and the troubling American mindset that we agreed probably comes from people never traveling outside of the USA. I genuinely enjoyed talking to the guy. Maybe we’ll see him again.

In the midst of our chat, we also watched the children of Breckenheim happily playing. A local guy had them gathered around at the church, where he told stories. Later, a cat visited, and was completely unfazed by Noyzi. I watched a little boy climb up a sign pole and was amazed by his upper body strength. We could hear Billy barking for Noyzi, since Billy’s owners live in a house right by our Dorfplatz. And we also saw our next door neighbor’s 85 year old mom, who was finally walking without her cane after having broken her leg earlier in the spring. She was looking good.

Noyzi charmed the owner of the local pizzeria, an Italian man named Fabi who used to work with dogs in Romania. He very kindly brought out some water for Noyzi, as well as some meat. When Noyzi finished drinking the bowl, Fabi brought out some more water and treats. Noyzi was delighted, and I could see that he was enjoying making friends with so many people. He really is a very lovely dog who enjoys interacting with all people and animals. All of our dogs have been special to us, but Noyzi truly is a unique soul. He’s a true canine ambassador!

I took lots of pictures…

We really do enjoy the social events in our village. Unfortunately, we’ll miss the next wine stand, which I believe will actually be the wine festival that they had in September last year. But the good news is, we’re missing that event because, by the 23rd of June, we’ll be in Sweden, boarding the Regent Seven Seas Splendor, and taking a weeklong cruise in the Baltic Sea. So, stay tuned to see the travel blog become an actual travel blog again… at least for a few weeks! ūüėČ

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Hessen, markets

A visit to Maruhn Welt Der Getr√§nke, and our very own “chili dog” at the wine stand…

Yesterday, Bill and I decided to venture out to Darmstadt. We wanted to visit a drink market Bill had heard rave reviews about from his colleagues. He was told the place was on several levels and offered many different beers, wines, liquors, and mixers from around the world. It turned out Maruhn Welt Der Getr√§nke isn’t quite that amazing, but it’s still a very nice drink market.

When we lived in the Stuttgart area, we used to somewhat regularly visit Heinrich’s Super Getr√§nke-Markt 3000 in Kornwestheim (near Ludwigsburg). I was always impressed by the excellent beer selection offered at that store, and hoped Maruhn’s drink market would be similarly excellent. Having visited Maruhn’s drink market yesterday, I can now say that in some ways, I liked it better than Heinrich’s. In other ways, I think Heinrich’s is better.

Heinrich’s has a superior beer selection. It has more beers from more places from around the world. It has better parking, offers somewhat more snacks for sale, and is next to a regular supermarket. The parking garage has a public restroom, which would have come in handy yesterday, after I finished off a bottle of water.

However, Maruhn’s has a free wine tasting section, a bar, and has much nicer displays. Maruhn’s offers many more liquors, some of which are very precious and expensive. I don’t remember seeing a lot of liquor at Heinrich’s. They also have drinkware, barware, and Bembels (pottery wine pitchers). I really liked the music they were playing in the store, too, which may seem like a minor thing, but to a musical person like me, it’s quite important. I don’t think I ever heard music at Heinrich’s, which seems a lot more “no frills”, to me.

We picked up a couple of bottles of wine and some exotic beers– mostly from Scotland and Iceland– as well as some German beers. It’s been a long time since I last had beer that didn’t originate somewhere in Bavaria and taste like every other beer of that type in Germany. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE German beers. But as an American, I have gotten a taste for more exotic suds and styles that aren’t typically offered by German breweries. I used to order beer from a store in France called Saveur-Biere, but that gets kind of pricey in a hurry. Maybe I should order more, though.

Here are some photos from Maruhn’s… I think we’ll be back.

Our visit to the “world of drinks” was brief. As we were checking out, the cashier rattled off something to me in German and I was caught unawares. Bill asked her to repeat herself and she asked in German if we spoke German. Bill said in German that we only speak a little. So, she easily switched to English and asked if we needed another box for our brews. *Sigh*… Americans need to get on the bilingual train.

Noyzi was very happy to see us when we got home. I was pretty tired, though, because I hadn’t slept well the night before and woke up early. I took a nap, enjoying the perfect “sleeping weather” temperatures and sunshine we have this week. Then, afterwards, we decided to go to the wine stand, where Noyzi was on his best behavior. We made another video for Bill’s daughter, showing her the local snack delicacy that was offered last night– Spundek√§s– which I’ve written about before in this blog. It’s typically served with pretzels– either hard or soft. Bill’s daughter likes learning about food, so this is one way to bond.

Below are some photos from the wine stand, and a quick video I sent to Bill’s daughter about the local snack… which we enjoyed “ohne Musik” (no raw onions on top, which make people fart– hence, the “music”). Noyzi, by the way, was better behaved than ever before! He saw his friend, the truffle hunting dog named Billy, who is much smaller than he is, and he charmed some of the locals. I wish I had a sweet, gentle, friendly disposition like Noyzi’s. It might get me further in life.

An explanation of Spundekäs

Just before we called it a night and went home to watch the excellent 2008 movie, In Bruges, again, I looked up and noticed a man admiring Noyzi. It was local veterinarian Dr. Blendinger, the man who, with his veterinarian wife, owns the vet practice where we’ve taken Arran, Zane, and Noyzi. I had never spoken to him before, although I have seen him at his clinic, which is very close to Breckenheim. Dr. and Dr. Blendinger are actually our neighbors. Their property is adjacent to our landlord’s, and our landlord lives next door to us.

When I saw him noticing Noyzi, I blurted out, “Dr. Blendinger?”

He smiled in recognition, and I said with a laugh, “We go to your vet clinic! And I know you’re a musician, too, because I’ve seen your videos!”

We had a brief chat and he invited us to the pop choir concert in July. It’s going to be held at the church.

I love this about our village of Breckenheim. People are so friendly and social! If we’re home when the concert happens, we’ll definitely make a point of attending.

Well… I have been summoned to breakfast, so I guess I’ll end this post. Enjoy your Saturday!

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Uncategorized

Noyzi makes even more friends at the wine stand!

Here’s another quick post about Noyzi’s progress becoming more socialized. Since we lost Arran last month, Noyzi has become more insistent about coming with us when there are Friday night wine stands. I don’t know how he does it, but he always seems to know when it’s a wine stand versus us going out somewhere.

We were a little late getting there last night, because Bill is involved in a big project at work and was later getting home. Consequently, we ended up sitting on the other side of the Dorfplatz, on a bench, instead of at a table. That turned out to be a good thing, as we met another one of our neighbors for the first time. She lives in an old house right by the Dorfplatz and works at the local Kita (kindergarten). One of her students came up and gave her a hug while we chatted.

It turned out she has a dog, too. His name is Billy, and he was once an Italian truffle hunting dog. When he got too old to hunt, his former owners gave him away, and she wound up adopting him. She later brought him out, and he and Noyzi got along great.

Our next door neighbor was also at the wine stand, and she went to get Tommi, her labrador. Meanwhile, between dog company sessions, Noyzi met some of the attendees, many of whom were curious about him. More than one person asked if we’d had his tail docked. I was able to tell them that he was born with a bobbed tail. We had his DNA tested by Embark and the results indicated that he was born with a short tail.

Some of Noyzi’s DNA results. Regarding his little tail, he was “born that way”. I can also confirm that he sheds a LOT.

Most of the people we talked to were really nice. We did meet one fellow American who was a veteran and had married a local. When he found out Bill is a contractor, he seemed to get kind of bitter. He mentioned that contractors and government civilians are hired in the States and brought over to Germany. I sensed that he was kind of upset about that. However, Bill’s company does hire people locally, if they have skills they can use. They might not get the same local benefits or access to facilities that States based hires get, because they are local residents. But, if the company can use their skills, they will pay them a salary that is adjusted for the local tax rate. I don’t know the guy at all, or what his skills are, but it’s my guess that he might simply be unqualified for the jobs available on the US military installations here. That’s not our fault, and not really a valid reason to be pissy toward us.

As he broke off the conversation, he noticed that Noyzi is neutered and said, “Poor guy.” Well… that’s something else we had nothing to do with, as he was neutered before we adopted him. I thought that was kind of a strange comment to make. It’s true that a lot of locals don’t get their animals “fixed”, but Germany generally has much less of a problem with stray dogs than the United States does. Personally, I kind of agree that it would be better to do vasectomies or ovary sparing surgeries on animals than simply removing their sex parts. Those surgeries can be done. But they aren’t popular yet, so they aren’t widely known or done at this point in time.

At least the guy’s wife was really nice to us. She was enchanted by Noyzi, who was doing his best to charm everyone. Every time we take him to a wine stand, he gets more comfortable with meeting people. I’ve even noticed that he’s much less afraid of men, now. That’s a pretty awesome development. He used to be terrified of most men, even Bill.

We met another lady who had adopted a dog from Spain, but hadn’t brought her to the wine stand. Several people showed us pictures…

I think dogs are the very best social icebreakers in Germany. Recently, The Local: Germany ran an article about how to make friends in Germany and German attitudes toward English speakers. I noted that having dogs was a great way to meet and interact with locals. Many Germans LOVE dogs. However, some of them also act like they know best how to take care of them. Our neighbor has, for instance, occasionally commented about our departed beagles, Zane and Arran, barking when we weren’t home. But she also has a dog who barks. We don’t complain about him, because he’s very sweet and adorable. Noyzi loves him. But he’s not perfect, either.

Anyway, we had a good time last night, and Noyzi really obviously had fun meeting new people. It was gratifying seeing his little tail wag, and watching him happily meeting new people with increasing confidence. He really does love people. He just needs to learn that most of them love him back.

Below are some photos from yesterday. The top three are Noyzi saying good morning to me, and the rest are from the wine stand. We really enjoyed ourselves, although I woke up with quite a headache. I think I need to embrace drinking apple juice or Schorle instead of wine. ūüėČ

Bill found out his boss/co-worker/old Army buddy got a new job and will soon be moving on… It will be a sad farewell, because they work well together. But it’s also a new opportunity for both of them to work with others.

We might go out to dinner tonight. Bill had to go into work today. He has to go TDY next week, and will be gone for eight nights, I believe. I hate these work trips, but at least he has a good job, and at least this time, I don’t have to fret over Arran. And once he’s done, we can prepare for our vacation. It’s pretty much all set now. I just have to pay the bills we’ve run up so far. ūüėÄ

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Hessen

Noyzi makes new friends at the wine stand!

Here’s a very quick post about last night’s wine stand, which was blessed with sunshine and relatively warm temperatures (for a change). Recently, we’ve been bringing Noyzi, the Kosovar wonderdog, to the wine stands. We hope to get him a little more socialized and used to crowds, noise, and people.

Noyzi has made a lot of progress since we adopted him in October 2020. When we first got Noyzi, he was afraid of most people, especially men. Now, he’s still a little nervous and skittish, but he clearly loves people and wants to interact. And he’s very gentle– not a single aggressive bone lies in his massive doggie body.

We probably would have gone to the wine stand last night, no matter what, but we did have a good reason to celebrate last night. Bill got a very nice raise yesterday. He gets them yearly, but this year, it was double the size of last year’s raise. So we definitely raised a glass or two to that.

We got to tell Noyzi’s story to a German couple who were intrigued by him. They spoke a little English, we spoke even less German, but we still managed to bond over our street dogs. It turned out the couple has one, too. I think they said theirs was from Romania.

Noyzi was pretty fidgety at the wine stand last night, but a quick walk around the Dorfplatz helped him calm down a bit. I think by the end of the summer, the wine stand will be old hat to Noyzi and he will be much better in public places. After about an hour, he was settling down enough that I thought he might even lie down, but we never quite made it to that point.

We met another guy with his big brown dog, Sam. Noyzi and Sam hit it off famously. As we were leaving, Noyzi made a point of saying goodbye to his new canine village friend. One thing that makes Noyzi good at the wine stand is that he’s relatively quiet. We seldom brought Zane and Arran to these events because they were both pretty loud and obnoxious, and they had each other to hang out with. Noyzi is a totally different kind of dog, and I think he will eventually become really good at these gatherings.

Below are a few photos from our excursion to the Dorfplatz… I also included a couple I took yesterday morning on our walk.

And here are a couple of short videos… One is of Noyzi as we were about to go to the wine stand, and the other is of our very full village brook, which is really rushing right now. I suspect that pretty soon, the heavy rain will stop, and the creek will be much shallower and slower.

Noyzi used to be afraid of leashes and Bill. Now he loves both, and enjoys excursions. He likes people and other dogs, too, even if he is a bit nervous.
The creek is FULL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this high.
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customs

Raising a glass to Arran…

Breckenheim had a wine stand last night. We decided to attend, so we could salute Arran in style. Noyzi came with us, because we’re hoping to get him more used to people. We’d like to be able to take him more places. Besides, he genuinely loves people, but he’s scared of those he doesn’t know. Taking him out in the village is a good way to help him get more socialized.

We enjoyed a few glasses of local wine and talked to some of our neighbors. We told them about Arran, and how we lost him yesterday morning. I wondered if they thought we were weird for going out… We ran into our landlady– or, the wife of our landlord. I think she’s the one who legally owns our house, since her brother built it. She asked where Arran was, and we told her what happened.

It struck me as kind of strange. When we lost Zane, our landlords didn’t know until over a year later. That’s how much privacy they give us, even though we’re next door neighbors. Our former landlady probably would have known within days, even though she didn’t live next door.

Anyway, we said we’d seen her artwork at the neighborhood art show in the fall. She laughed, and said that wasn’t her artwork. It seems there’s another woman in our village with the same name. She’s much older. The landlady said she’s always having to tell people she isn’t the same person! Either way, the artwork was beautiful. Our landlady has a nice sense of style, too. She was wearing a pretty scarf. Maybe that reveals a certain artistic bent.

We also met an English speaking guy who hailed from the Nagold area and moved to Breckenheim. He said he used to work as a waiter at a nightclub in Stuttgart. One night, the deejay was very late coming in, and he was flanked by two police officers when he finally did show up. I guess the show didn’t go on that night.

It was a pretty average wine stand, but I did get a nice video of the neighborhood horses passing, as well as a few photos…

I love this about our village… horses, wine, and dogs. Who could ask for more?

It was nice to get our and enjoy the onset of spring… and now we can make some travel plans. We’re long overdue for a trip. After three years of road trips, I might even be convinced to fly on a plane and go somewhere further afield.

Cheers to Arran, who is no longer suffering, and no longer has cancer or needs chemo… and doesn’t have to worry about trying to jump up on our too tall bed. I like to think of his soul finally free of his sick, but very strong body. The featured photo is the second to the last one we have of Arran. I took the last one in the vet’s office, just before we said goodbye. I don’t normally do that… but for some reason, I just felt like doing it. I’ll keep it private, because I don’t want people to remember him in that way. He was a majestic dog with a larger than life presence. We were blessed to know him.

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markets

Friendly community relations!

This has been an unusually busy week in our little town of Breckenheim– as opposed to Bethlehem… ūüėČ Thursday, we had our weekly market, and Bill picked up some sliced cold cuts for me. We had a little wine and came home about 45 minutes later. Arran and Noyzi were delighted to see us.

Arran is still doing okay. We found out his lymphoma is B cell, which is the milder type. And because it’s B cell, and he seems to want to live, we’re hopefully going to get him on canine chemotherapy before it’s too late.

Last night, we had our wine stand, which happens every other Friday. We spent an hour there, too, enjoying the convivial atmosphere of our neighborhood. I swear, this is probably the most social neighborhood we’ve ever lived in, outside of college. I like to see everybody hanging out and having fun.

Tonight, we’re going to a whisky/whiskey tasting. Maybe I should spell it with the “e”, since I believe the whiskeys are from Ireland, rather than Scotland. That is taking place in the local church’s Gemeindehaus (I think that’s what it’s called). There will be food and music, and lots of talk in German. ūüėČ

Today, we’re also planning to go to Wiesbaden and pick up our new eyewear. New glasses lenses for Bill, and new multi-focal lenses for me. I look forward to being able to read things with corrected vision again. My next purchase for my eyes will probably be bifocals.

I got some photos from the last couple of nights. They aren’t super exciting, but they offer a glimpse of what life is like where I live. The first eight photos are from Thursday night. We didn’t buy a lot, because I will be home alone all week. Bill is going on a business trip. The rest are from the wine stand last night, hosted by the local Volleyball Club. I did hear one guy sound excited last night when he saw that they were serving Spundek√§s. I think they ran out, because not an hour later, I saw people eating the pretzels with some kind of white substance. Maybe it was quark? I don’t know.

One lady came up and asked if there was room at our table. We said yes, so she exclaimed “Endlich!” and her family sat with us. She reminded me of the lady who used to sit with me at church when I was growing up. Her husband was in the choir, with my dad. My mom was always playing organ, either at our church, or somewhere else.

I probably shouldn’t go to the whiskey tasting, but what the hell… My liver can recover while Bill is away.

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