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…
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.
Today, I received a package I had been eagerly awaiting. It came from County Clare, Ireland, and was decorated with stamps and stickers. The lady, name of Anne, who had sent me my order from Luka Bloom, had drawn little musical notes next to my name, which she had written in cursive that looked a lot like my own… especially after I’ve had a couple of beers.
The mailman asked me in German if we didn’t have a post office box. He was a young lad and I hadn’t seen him before. He’d also caught me off guard when he spoke German to me and I was standing there in a nightie with no bra on. I responded in English and he understood, just at about the time that I mentally translated what he’d said. No matter, since I wouldn’t have been able to speak German back to him. Isn’t it cool that my Irish music got to me on St. Patrick’s Day? Especially since I wrote to Anne to ask her to send it to Germany, even though I have a U.S. billing address and there was no way to add a different delivery address in their order form. It was no problem to make the change– and if I hadn’t, God only knows when the APO would have sent it to me.
So who is Luka Bloom (born Kevin Barry Moore)? He’s a fantastic indie folk musician and the brother of Christy Moore, another great indie folk musician. I was introduced to Christy Moore by an honest to God Irishman with whom I used to work at a Presbyterian church camp in Virginia. Funny thing is, my Irish friend, who lived near Belfast and most definitely not a Brit, was a Catholic. He ended up marrying one of the other counselors, a lovely Black woman from Stafford, Virginia. They have been together now for over twenty-five years and have six or seven children… I’ve lost count!
My Irish friend sent me a mix tape when I lived in Armenia and it had some of Christy Moore’s music on it. I liked it so much that when I got back to the States, I sought it out and stocked up my music collection.
Anyway, Christy Moore recently plugged his brother’s latest album, Out of the Blue. I am more familiar with Christy Moore’s music, so I decided to pre-order the new album, as well as a couple of others that looked interesting. As I’ve gotten older, I often find myself drunken downloading music or buying CDs from street musicians others I don’t know well. I’m very seldom disappointed in the results, but then I have very eclectic musical tastes. Luka Bloom’s new album, by the way, can be downloaded. I decided to get a CD because he was signing them. I also bought a CD that I couldn’t download, and another came with a download I got from the site.
Other than listening to my new CDs, I have no other special plans for today. I might not even have any whiskey or beer, because I’ve kind of been enjoying letting my body go booze free. I’m hoping Bill will be home sometime between tomorrow night and Friday night. After that, I suspect my teetotaling will conclude. I haven’t been totally faithful to the wagon during this latest marathon TDY, but I have found that I’ve not really wanted to drink alcohol so much… which is a relief, given my colorful family history.
I’ve found that I like Luka Bloom as much as I do his brother. Right now, I’m typing this and listening to one of the albums I bought, remembering when Bill and I took our cruise from Scotland to Northern Ireland with a stop in Carlingford, which is in the Republic of Ireland.
It turned out Dermott was Irish, but was born and raised in Newry, on the northern side of the border. He spoke of how in the 80s, the border checks were brutal. Guards would literally take cars apart, looking for bombs and contraband. Then he said he hoped one day Ireland would be reunited– it became clear that Dermott had Nationalist leanings. That got a rather disgruntled reaction from the elderly Brits who were on the cruise. Bill and I had no real skin in the game, except for our own Irish heritage. Turns out that other than the Irish surname I got from Bill when we married, I am actually more Irish than he is.
Then, Bill proceeded to annoy the Brits, who just wanted to get away from Dermott (I got the sense they thought he was an ingrate). Dermott was talking about Irish folk tales. Bill happens to love Irish literature and actually studied it in college. And then it seemed that he knew more about it than the guide did… The guide had heard the stories from his father, while Bill had studied it at American University and written papers on it… I got the sense that the other cruisers were irritated with both of them by the time that excursion. Luckily, there was a lot of booze on the boat.
Bill and I have been to Ireland a couple of other times. We went in 2016 for our 14th anniversary. One of my funniest memories from that trip was running into a bunch of 12 year old boys on a crowded train to Kilkenny, where we were going to tour the Smithwick’s Brewery. The kids were hilariously witty. When they found out Bill had been to Iraq and we were from America, they asked all kids of cheeky questions. The poor beleaguered “den mom” who was with them kept giving the look. But I swear, we about died laughing when one of the kids said, “Nobody vacations in Ireland! It’s AWFUL!” Then, a few minutes later, he asked us if we considered Canada our “goody two shoes neighbor to the north.”
The third time we went was to Dublin, to attend a marathon concert featuring Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt. The six hour concert, in and of itself, was reason enough to love our visit. But we also stayed in a fabulous hotel– the Merrion– and we had high tea. It was a marvelous time. I really miss travel… especially carefree travel. Here’s hoping that COVID-19 will be arrested soon, so we can go back to Ireland and raise a pint with those lads who were on the way to Kilkenny, who are now closer to 18. Seems like whenever we go to Ireland, we make at least one new friend and many new wonderful memories. At the very least, I come home with new stories… perhaps more than I do in some of the other places we’ve been.
Well, that about does it for this wistful post. I sure am ready to fast forward to our next trip. But barring that, I’d just like to fast forward to seeing Bill again. I have really missed him.
I had some tentative plans to do something today, but the weather was absolutely shitty. It’s been dark and cloudy all day and the fine folks at Weather.com were calling for snow. At the very least, we were assured of cold, damp, misty weather. So, although we certainly could have ventured out to a restaurant, my husband Bill and I decided to stay in, listen to Celtic music, drink beer, and bake.
I didn’t get Bill to put on his new County Donegal kilt… but I did get a photo of our family crests… or mine, anyway.
I am a fan of the Dublin Airport. I’ll be back in July.
Okay… so in fairness, Bill did the baking. But he made a cake that I made first and, I must say, he did a good job of it. We haven’t cut into it yet, but we’ve had enough of the crumbs to know it won’t disappoint after tonight’s dinner of lobster tails and champagne. Yes, my husband knows how to take care of his lady… or as Lyle Lovett would put it, “She’s no lady, she’s my wife…”
I really wanted to play this at my wedding. Maybe if we make it to twenty years?
Those of you who are curious about the recipe for Guinness cake can find the recipe linked to the New York Times’ Web site. For everyone else, here are a few pictures.
Bill readies the supplies…
For the cake and for me…
Bill models the German apron I got him for Christmas.
If our kitchen weren’t so pathetically tiny, I’d think we were on a cooking show.
Sugar… two cups worth… and other necessities for the cake.
Next, Bill heats up a cup of Guinness.
And blends the sugar…
Adds the cocoa powder we purchased at a chocolatier in Ribeauville, France.
The batter is about ready to blend with the chocolate and beer.
The chocolate batter is ready for the oven, where it will bake for about 45 minutes…
The finished cake, ready for cooling. It’s rich, chocolatey, and smells heavenly.
And… the finished product. Some people like to add a little Bailey’s to the frosting. I did when I made it, but Bill elected not to. I once brought this cake to a picnic and a lot of people didn’t want their kids to eat it because it had beer in it. But it’s one cup of rather weak beer… It’s not going to get you or your kids drunk, I promise. On the other hand, if you don’t want to eat it, that’s okay. More for me!
This is a pretty easy recipe and it can be fun to bake it, especially since it only calls for about half a beer. The rest is for you! I am not posting the recipe here because I don’t want any goons to come after me for copyright infringement. But if you want the recipe and don’t want to visit the New York Times Web site, just let me know.