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A big DUMP of snow…

Bill and I had made some tentative plans to get out of the house today. Mother nature had other plans. It started to snow last night at about 5:30pm or so… I had noticed a little snow in the afternoon. I hadn’t seen it actually falling, but I saw the evidence on the ground. Still, I was unprepared for the dumping of white stuff we got last night. I think we got about four inches or so, which is significant.

When we still lived in Jettingen (near Stuttgart), we typically got at least one good snowfall every winter. Usually, it snowed even more often than that, with the ice and snow hanging around for weeks sometimes. Up here in Breckenheim, it rarely snows. When it does snow, it’s not much, and the stuff melts quickly. Not so this time…

According to The Weather Channel, it’s possible we’ll get a little more snow this evening, although it’s kind of sunny and cold today. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to snow more. They’re calling for “snow showers”, because it’s not that cold outside. I think that’s what we were supposed to get last night, but as you can see, Mother Nature had other ideas. Don’t want to go out in that!

Arran has never been a fan of snow, so he’s just been going out to do the bare minimum. He got a walk today, too. Noyzi, on the other hand, seems to enjoy snow as much as his predecessor, Zane, did.

Noyzi enjoys the newly fallen snow. It’s early afternoon, and most of it hasn’t melted yet.

I enjoy snow. I think it’s pretty. I don’t necessarily want to go out in it, though, so that means I’ve been finishing up my latest book this afternoon instead of venturing out, like we’d hoped. SIGH… I don’t really enjoy this time of year in Germany. But, at least with each passing day, we get closer to spring. And our next trip, which could be as soon as next month, gets closer as each chilly, damp, and cloudy day passes. We’ll see what happens. It depends on Arran, and whether or not he can be boarded safely.

It’s always fun to have snow for a day or two, if only because it’s unusual… and it gives me a reason to wear the new coat I spent a boatload of money on last month.

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anecdotes, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, housekeeping tips

A pretty dull week…

It’s been seven days since my last post on this blog. I haven’t written because I haven’t had too much to write about this week. We had extremely cold weather last week. It lasted until Monday, when the snow we got last week turned into black ice. Sure enough, I slipped and fell on my ass, bruising my left buttcheek. Since I also did something to my right hip, that was an even less welcome development than it might have otherwise been. My butt recovered after a day, but my right hip is still painful. I might even have to break down and see a doctor about it.

Arran had his latest chemo treatment last night. He’s now in the second phase of his treatment. Bill took him in, and said the vet was impressed by Arran’s resilience. He is still doing very well. I think she thought maybe he wouldn’t take to chemo, because of his age, and because he was getting sick when we got his first treatment. His red blood cells have improved, while his white blood cells are still elevated. But they would be elevated anyway, due to the treatments. Because he’s in the second phase of chemo, he doesn’t take as much medication. He goes to the vet every other week for IV push meds, and takes less of the Endoxan (chemo pill). However, he’s still on Prednisolone, which makes him more of a stinker than usual.

We have plans to go Villa Im Tal on the afternoon of the 26th. It’s one of our favorite fine dining restaurants. I look forward to it, although I worry that Arran will try to break into the basement while we’re gone. He’s regressed in his behavior since he started chemo. I ordered a new gate– one that’s sturdier and taller– to try to prevent him from invading the basement. Other than that, he’s mostly himself… taking walks, eating like a champ, sleeping, cuddling, and being cute. We’re really cherishing this time with him.

We had a new dishwasher installed yesterday. The old one was twelve years old and broke. I’m glad we got both things done before Christmas, which is pretty much going to shut everything down for a few days. Our landlord is slowly but surely upgrading our house. He says he wants to install new windows and a heat pump, too. As he was leaving yesterday, he asked Bill if we needed more wood for the fireplace or salt for the dishwasher. We’re fine, but it’s nice to have a landlord who cares about our well-being and happiness. I’m sure he likes having the house occupied, and after four years with us, he knows we won’t disturb him unless it’s really necessary.

Getting new windows will be like deja vu, since new windows were installed in our last house as we were moving in. It was kind of a painful process, but the windows were really nice. Maybe we’ll get electric shutters, too. 😉 Ex landlady put in electric shutters on the windows in the living room. They were very nice, but sometimes they didn’t work properly. She also lectured us about not losing the remote control, which of course we didn’t. That was probably one of the only things we did right in that house. :eyeroll:

Other than that, it’s been a pretty boring week. Although January and February can be pretty bleak in Germany, I kind of look forward to being done with the Christmas season. It’s so dark over here during this time of year. And because I don’t really want to leave Arran alone unless it’s necessary, I’ve been a bit “fun deprived” lately. With more light and warmth, we might be able to take him with us more often.

The only other thing that happened this week was our neighbor had a bunch of us over for Gluhwein. It was frigid outside, so when we came back into the house, I ordered a new parka. It probably won’t get used much, but it might be the last parka I will ever buy. Oh… and my neighbor thought I was an 80s baby, which was a nice compliment. I am very much a card carrying member of Generation X, though… born in the 70s.

Breckenheim sure is a friendly little village. It’s a lot of fun to bond with the neighbors. Funny enough, several of the ones who live near us are from Baden-Württemberg! They seem to like Hessen more. It’s probably because there’s wine… and people are a little warmer. I do miss the beautiful sights down in BW, though. It will always have a piece of my heart. 

The featured photo is of Arran near our wine barrel table. He was obsessed with the framed photo of my husband’s daughter’s family, because it smelled like the treats she sent in a box to us!

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Uncategorized

Brrrrr!!!!

Here’s a quick post for this week, which I have mostly spent alone, because Bill has been on his latest Bavarian TDY adventure. We got snow yesterday, and the temperatures have been wicked cold. In the four years we’ve lived in Breckenheim, we haven’t really had a proper snow… until yesterday, that is. And it wasn’t a lot of snow, but the temperatures are so cold that I think it’s going to stick around at least for today. That’s unusual for this area, at least during this era of global warming.

When we lived in Jettingen, we usually got a lot more snow in the winter, and sometimes it would hang around for weeks. But up here, when it snows, there isn’t a lot, and it’s usually gone by the end of the day. I know that’s not how it’s been historically, but that’s how it’s been since we moved here. In fact, it’s so cold that I’m actually considering buying myself a new coat. Of course, it might turn out to be a waste of money, since it really doesn’t get cold here as a general rule. On the other hand, there are a lot of other places in Europe that get cold, and we can always travel.

Arran doesn’t have to go to the vet this week. For the first time since mid October, he gets a break from IV push cancer meds. He doesn’t get any “cancer” drugs this week, other than his regular steroids every other day. He’s still taking Prednisolone, though, which makes him kind of a pain to deal with, due to the side effects of the drug. Still, he’s plugging away. He didn’t get a walk yesterday, but we just took a short one this morning to give him a chance to poop and Noyzi a chance to stimulate himself. I took a few photos.

Our weekly market is going on today, even though it’s cold and icy. I probably won’t visit it, though, because the landlord is having a new dishwasher installed for us this afternoon.

Today is my last full day alone, as we’re expecting Bill back tomorrow. He will be a sight for sore eyes. I’ve been lonely… and Arran gets me up at least twice a night to go outside and to beg for treats. 😉

I made a new video, too… this one was inspired by my former shrink, who loves this song. As I am about to celebrate yet another Christmas far from my home in America, I’m reminded of my family. I do miss them.

I would have done it live on camera, but decided to redo the vocals and couldn’t be arsed to film myself again. Arran’s face looks weird in that still. That’s not how he looks in person.

Below are some pictures from today’s walk. The fiberglass internet guy came by the other day, rudely waking me from the nap I really needed and was about to take. I don’t think I looked very friendly when I answered the door. 😀

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Schwarzwald

Ten things I learned in Bareiss style Baiersbronn…

Now that my latest blog series about Hotel Bareiss is complete, here’s my usual “ten things I learned” post. I find that these top ten lists tend to get read more than my “blow by blow” posts. Let’s face it! People don’t necessarily care about the minutiae of someone else’s vacation. On the other hand, sometimes including the small details is useful for some readers, or even just to myself, as I get older and duller. 😉

Anyway, here’s my list, even though we’ve done Baiersbronn before. I see that I didn’t do a ten things I learned list for our first Baiersbronn trip, so maybe it’s good to do one now. Here goes!

10. The Hotel Bareiss experience reminds me a little of being on a cruise ship.

The first time we visited Baiersbronn for more than a couple of hours, we stayed at Hotel Engel Obertal, which is a perfectly nice hotel that offers half board. But that hotel didn’t seem to be nearly as structured as Hotel Bareiss is. Yes, lunch was included in the daily rate there, but we didn’t feel like we HAD to eat lunch there. Although we didn’t HAVE to eat dinner at Hotel Bareiss either, the very heavy service component and knowing that we were paying for the food, anyway, made us feel obligated to eat there. And while it wasn’t a bad thing at all to dine at Hotel Bareiss, that aspect made me feel a little like I was on a cruise ship. The resort offers a lot of activities, too, like a cruise ship does.

9. Hotel Bareiss is very expensive, but offers an extremely high quality product.

When I compare Hotel Bareiss to Hotel Engel Obertal, I see some obvious similarities. However, Hotel Bareiss is an institution in Baiersbronn, and people come from all over to experience it. Service is mostly top notch, and they put a lot of effort into presenting a very pleasant experience for guests. That experience will cost you, of course! But if you have the means, and you just want to relax without worrying about anything, Hotel Bareiss might be just the place to go.

8. I wouldn’t call Hotel Bareiss a very “romantic” place for couples…

Although this is a five star resort hotel with a three star Michelin restaurant, it’s also a very family friendly place. There are lots of activities available for children, and they aren’t specifically prohibited from going into places. That means you might see them in the bar, or even in the sauna area. However, I did notice that visiting in late September/early October meant that most kids were in school, so their population was at a minimum during our visit. I would not book Bareiss in the summer if I was wanting to avoid running into families with children, though.

7. Baiersbronn and the Black Forest offer a lot to do outdoors. But maybe there’s not as many things to do inside. Planning for the weather is a good idea.

We suffered some rain during our visit, which made us not really want to venture out so much. A lot of the things I was thinking I’d like to do were strictly outside activities. There are some museums and other indoor activities for the resourceful, and the hotel offers excursions to nearby places like Strasbourg, France or Baden-Baden. The hotel also offers classes sometimes. For instance, they have culinary and wine courses that can be booked. I didn’t mind the rain so much, since we had such a hot, dry summer. Next time, maybe I’ll look for more inside opportunities, in case of inclement weather. Or, at the very least, I would bring clothes and shoes for wet weather. Baiersbronn is kind of a sleepy town, but there are other areas nearby that are well worth a visit.

6. Bring an extra bathing suit!

Hotel Bareiss has an AWESOME pool area, and it’s usable all year. If you like to swim or relax in the water, you may want to bring an extra bathing suit. They also have a dryer in the locker room that will wring most of the the water out in eight seconds.

5. You can bring your dog!

Although I tend to relax more when I travel without our dogs, I did miss them while we were at the Hotel Bareiss. I think Noyzi, in particular, would have loved the hotel. So many people brought their beautiful pooches with them, and there were a lot of amenities for them, including dog sitting! But bear in mind, if you do bring your dog, there are steep extra charges involved and not every room will be available to you.

4. Pack a nice outfit or two.

The Hotel Bareiss requests that guests dress nicely for dinner. That doesn’t necessarily mean putting on a dress or a suit, nor does it even mean they’ll turn you away at the door. But if you happen to be at the hotel on gala night, you will want to be dressy, as most people do put on their gladrags for the occasion. If you wear jeans and a sweatshirt, you might feel quite underdressed.

3. Don’t be afraid to try other area restaurants.

Baiersbronn is home to quite a few excellent restaurants besides the ones at Hotel Bareiss. Most are affiliated with other hotels, to include the ones at Hotel Traube Tonbach, another highly regarded hotel in the area. We ate at Traube Tonbach last year and had a very nice experience. We also tried the Meierei, which has a Michelin Plate, and liked that even more than the Michelin starred restaurant at the Traube Tonbach. But even if you aren’t into gourmet food, you can find really good eating in Baiersbronn. Especially if you like fresh trout, like I do!

2. You don’t have to spend a mint to stay in Baiersbronn…

It’s true that we dropped a load of euros at Hotel Bareiss. This year’s visit was about twice as expensive as last year’s, although we also stayed a day longer and in fancier digs. But if we’d wanted to, we could have easily bunked comfortably in less extravagant lodging and had a great time. In fact, in some ways, I think I might have preferred a less “structured” holiday. I don’t think I’m that into resorts and half board plans. I like having the freedom to try different places and do my own thing. Maybe next time we go to the Black Forest, we’ll try to find a self catering apartment in a different area.

1. On the other hand, I would NOT turn down another visit to Hotel Bareiss…

It really is a lovely hotel, with friendly and mostly professional staff, and magical surroundings. We really did enjoy ourselves, and would heartily recommend that others visit. Just remember that when you book Hotel Bareiss, you’re likely to be committed to going. You may wish to purchase travel insurance, in case you need to cancel. In our situation, I was worried about Arran being sick with lymphoma and needing us to come home to take care of him. However, he has now shown us that he is clearly not ready to leave us yet… so I’m glad we didn’t cancel! In fact, as I write this, he’s visiting the vet. I have a feeling she might be pleasantly surprised by how he’s doing today.

Well, that about does it for this year’s visit to the Schwarzwald. I hope this series has been entertaining, informative, and inspirational. If you’re living in Germany, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to visit The Black Forest. We completely missed it the first time we lived here. I’m so glad we came back and rectified that tragedy! And if you are into good food, especially fine dining, you may want to make a point of visiting Baiersbronn. As I mentioned in 2018, when we first heard of Baiersbronn, there are lots of (Michelin) “stars” in them there hills!

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customs, markets

Breckenheim’s very first village market…

Yesterday, something happened that I’ve been eagerly anticipating for awhile. Our little village had its very first neighborhood market on the Dorfplatz. It was also the first day of September, which means that, right on cue, the weather started to change in earnest. I’ve lived in Germany for ten years of my life and it never fails. As of September 1, it immediately gets cooler in Germany, even if it was broiling hot the week prior. Usually, by the 15th, I consistently need to wear a jacket, and have put away the air conditioners until summer comes around again. In fact, just a few minutes ago, I pulled the air conditioning hose inside and closed the window in my office for the first time in weeks. It’s really cooling down outside. I hope that means we’ll soon get some rain.

Some people might not think the neighborhood market is a big deal. I mentioned it on social media, and two of my American friends posted that their towns in the United States are doing the “same” thing. With all due respect to my American friends, I don’t think it is quite the same. Remember, I spent a good 35 of my 50 years in the USA, and have lived in several states, so I’m in a position to know something about life there. I would be very surprised if I went to a market in, say, my home state of Virginia, and found someone selling fresh harissa, locally produced sausages, or unpasteurized cheeses, which are usually pretty hard to find in the US.

I would also be surprised if they were pouring local wines. In the States, there’s a big emphasis on alcohol laws. Anyone appearing to be under 21 will be carded. This isn’t to say there are no booze laws here, but the drinking age is lower, while the driving age is higher… and fewer people drive here, anyway. And drinking seems to be more of a normal part of society, just as smoking is. In our case, the market was just down the hill from our house, and all of the people at the market are literally our neighbors.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t wonderful markets in the United States. I just don’t think they’re quite the same there as they are here. The market that happens in Wiesbaden is totally different than the market we had last night, which was very small and felt more like a wine stand with a few vendors selling their wares. However, I have a feeling that once the market catches on, it will be bigger, and there will be more things to buy than what was available last night. As it was, there was a flower vendor, someone selling vegetables, and a Turkish Feinkost represented. And the wine kiosk was open, so they were selling wine, beer, Schorles, and other non-alcoholic beverages. It looked like they had the usual Brats and Brotchens, too. I had Noyzi and Arran with me, so I didn’t get very close to the action.

Maybe it sounds petty, but it kind of annoys me when people back home assume they know how it is here… and claim it’s the “same” as it is in the United States. As an American who has lived many years in America, I know it isn’t, really. But then, a lot of things in the USA are not the same as they are in Germany. For instance, it’s pretty hard to find some of my favorite American style comfort foods over here. I am fortunate enough to shop at the military commissary, order from Amazon.com, and have stuff come through APO (government mail for US citizens). I regularly buy high quality grits from a farm in South Carolina, which are vastly superior to the Quaker quick or instant grits “crapola” in the commissary. I wouldn’t be able to find grits at all in a German store. Instead, I’d find polenta, which is not really the same. It’s only somewhat similar. Grits are also NOT semolina (Cream of Wheat). They are made of ground up hominy, which is corn.

The boys were amused by the sights and sounds of our little market.

It’s been my experience that Europeans tend to be more community minded than most people in the United States are, but of course there are always exceptions. And I’ve found that Breckenheim is a lot more of a friendly community than either of the towns we lived in near Stuttgart. Maybe it’s because of the wine. Stuttgart does have wineries, but the emphasis in the southern part of Germany is more on beer. Up here near the Rhein, it’s wine country. Maybe it’s because Hesse is not Swabia. Seriously… there is a different mindset in the Swabian region of Germany. It’s not that the people aren’t nice. They are. It’s just that it seems to take longer to make friends down there. The mood is a bit more insular, especially in smaller towns. There’s a different dialect that even native Germans sometimes have trouble understanding. And people, on the whole, seem to be more reserved and formal than they are in Hesse. In that sense, Germany IS like the United States, because as we all know, there are many different cultures within the regions of the US, too.

Anyway, below are some photos from last night. I didn’t get as close as I would have liked to, because we brought the dogs with us. Noyzi still gets pretty freaked out by strangers, although I can tell his instinct is to be very friendly. He’s still overcoming traumas from his youth, though, and that takes time and experience. I was proud of him last night, even if he was a little spooked by everything. Overall, he behaved very well. Arran, of course, couldn’t care less. He’s getting pretty old and is now unimpressed by a lot of things that used to set him off. Next weekend, Breckenheim will host its first wine fest. That should be fun, especially since it will be easy to haul home purchases from the Dorfplatz. Last night also heralded the opening of Breckenheim’s public toilet! I know that was exciting, too. The men of the village have been all over setting it up for weeks now.

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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.

Edited to add: The tree that inspired this post actually came back during the spring. I guess it just needed a severe pruning. I was shocked to see beautiful purple blooms when the weather warmed up. The other myrtle, sadly, really did die on us, and is now just a dead stump that regularly gets consumed by ivy in the summer.

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Uncategorized

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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Uncategorized

Chasing lakes and waterfalls in Aus-cro-slo-aus… part fourteen

And now, we’ve come to the end of my latest series… which I will admit was not long on food and activities, but had plenty of gorgeous scenery and solitude. When I am finished writing this post, I’ll do my usual “ten things I learned post”, but that will probably be done tomorrow, so as not to overwhelm anyone with all the action my travel blog is suddenly getting. 😉

Because we were coming from “high risk” areas– Croatia and Slovenia– we had to upload our vaccination information to officials in Germany. This would absolve us from having to quarantine. But, when we got to the border, they just waved us through, anyway. Maybe because it was Sunday.

Our drive home was mostly uneventful. Salzburg is about six hours or so from where we live, I think… Ray had made it easy to check out. All we had to do, besides take out the trash and make sure we used the toilet brush, was put the 12 euro city tourist tax (three euros per person per night) in the lockbox, along with the key. We got an early start, and, at first, the weather was beautiful.

The nice weather began to change the further north we went. It got cold and decidedly cloudy, then it was raining. At one point, we tried to stop for lunch, but there was no parking in the parking lot. The spots were all taken up by tractor trailers. We eventually ended up at the very same rest stop where we stopped on the way down to Croatia. On that visit, I wore a surgical face mask, as did a lot of other people. Surgical masks are the rule for all of Germany… except hard assed Bavaria, where people are supposed to wear FFP2s, the tighter fitting “coffee filter” masks. I did have a fresh one in my purse, but I really hate wearing them.

Anyway, we walked into the McDonald’s, which was empty. Evidently, the COVID-19 rules changed again, because the cashier pointed to me and said I needed the heavier mask. That pissed me off, so Bill and I left. I ranted about it on my other blog. We went to Burger King and ate lunch in the car. I spent much of the rest of the drive annoyed, since the heavier masks are obviously not curbing the now soaring infection rate in Germany. People need to be vaccinated. But if they’re going to enforce mask mandates, I wish they’d be consistent about it. And I wish they’d show common sense, particularly toward people who have actually done the responsible thing and gotten the vaccine.

I mean, look at this…

This is in Koln, where Carnival is in full swing.

It’s ridiculous. I can’t sit in an empty McDonald’s without being forced to wear a heavy mask, but these fools can party and drink unmasked in huge crowds in Mainz and Cologne! I fear we may be heading for another lockdown soon, which makes me even more glad that we took our trip. As it stands now, James Taylor has postponed his European tour. We have second row tickets to his Frankfurt show, but who knows when it will happen. We still have tickets to see Keb’ Mo’ for a show that was supposed to happen on November 16 (our anniversary) 2020. At this point, it’s been postponed three times, thanks to COVID-19. Maybe we’ll get to see him in May of 2022. This COVID shit really needs to be sorted.

The only other notable thing that happened on the way home was that we passed a van that had a sticker on it that read “Porn casting car”.

And then, we noticed that the driver had drapes with little gold tassels on them in the front seat. Maybe it really is a porn casting car.

After we got home, we unpacked and started doing the laundry. Later, we went to get Arran and Noyzi, who I guess could hear and smell us as we approached. They were so excited! Noyzi was even ecstatic to see Bill. He practically dragged me to the car and was delighted to jump in the back all by himself.

When we got home, we discovered that Arran had a couple of swollen flesh wounds on his ears. And the next day, Noyzi had kennel cough. By Tuesday, Arran was coughing too, although they are both okay now. Fortunately, it was a mild case. It was the first time I have ever dealt with kennel cough, which is usually a mild illness that clears up on its own. Our dogs are usually vaccinated against it, but we stopped giving Arran most vaccines because he’s had mast cell tumors. Noyzi is due for his vaccines next month.

Here are a few final pictures of a few things we brought back with us… I wish I had found a few things to put in the house. Oh well. Maybe on the next trip. Bill has to go to Poland on Monday, and he’ll be gone on our 19th wedding anniversary, which is on Tuesday. I’m sure he’ll get some Bison Grass vodka. Just what we need! 😉 We also got jams, honeys, liqueurs, and gin.

Well… that about does it for the series. Stay tuned tomorrow, for my super fun “ten things I learned” post. I actually did learn some new things on this trip. It was one of our better ones, and we’ve been on some great trips. I hope we can do it again, soon.

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Health

First Moderna shot down…

We had truly weird weather yesterday. It’s early May, but yesterday, it was downright cold and windy, with scattered showers and even a brief hailstorm. In the United States, hailstorms are kind of unusual; or, at least they were unusual in the areas where I lived. Here in Germany, we seem to get them a lot, especially in the spring, when the weather gets really bipolar. As you can see from the featured photo, we had some ominous skies yesterday. It made for some dramatic landscapes, though none as dramatic as down near Stuttgart. I do miss it down there sometimes, but mainly because parts of it really are stunningly beautiful. I could probably get some of the same views by heading west.

When I was a child, I remember the temperatures were noticeably cooler for most of the year. Hell… even when we were in Germany the first time, from 07-09, I remember the winters were longer and snowier. But the weather is different now… I couldn’t complain about global warming yesterday, though, as I stood in line for my first Moderna shot. As you can see from the photos, people were bundled up. I think the post in Wiesbaden is windier and chillier anyway, since it’s on a hill. It’s weird wearing a jacket in May when you come from the southern United States.

Bill thought my appointment was at 1:30pm, but it was actually at 1:45. I got a reminder email yesterday, but I must have missed the time on it, which figures, since Bill is the one who booked them. No matter… things were moving along pretty well when we got there. I checked in, stood in line at what used to be the “strip mall” on post in Wiesbaden before the latest PX was built, and through a very well orchestrated system, got my injection. It was surprisingly easy. The shot didn’t hurt at all. In fact, I barely felt it. After I got the shot, I easily made an appointment for the the next one by using my phone. Today, there’s a very mild soreness, minor swelling, and an oval of redness around my injection site, but so far, other than that, I have had no ill effects.

I have an appointment to get the second shot on June 9th, which is just before my next birthday. I won’t be quite at two weeks post inoculation on the day itself, but a few days after I turn 49, I should be considered fully vaccinated. Maybe that means a big trip down to Stuttgart, so we can finally see the dentist again. While I’d rather go somewhere more interesting and exciting, we do need to do a quick trip so Noyzi can get acquainted with the lady who takes care of the boys when we travel. I don’t think Noyzi will have any problems. He spent most of his first two years in boarding down in Kosovo. Still, it’s good to do a quick test run, just to make sure there won’t be any serious issues. We need to get him a European Pet Passport, too. We have one for him, but it’s from Kosovo, and Kosovo is not in the European Union. I don’t think we’ll be traveling much with him, since he’s so big, but it’s always good to have the passports. It makes things easier for the Tierpensions, too.

I feel kind of privileged to have my first shot. The vaccines are still kind of slowly rolling out here, and a lot of Germans are languishing without access to the shots. I’ve read that a lot of what is available is the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is worrisome for some people due to its association with blood clots. But the risk is probably minimal in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway… I’m glad to finally be on the road to being vaccinated against COVID-19. The shot may not prevent me from getting sick, but it will probably help make things safer and more normal. I have really had my fill of being locked down, even if I have gotten pretty good at playing “Redemption Song” on my guitar. It’s time to enjoy living again, and the more people who get the vaccine, the sooner that can happen.

Of course… for now, I get to sit here alone and ponder things. Bill is on yet another long ass TDY and will be gone for most of May. He left yesterday, after we got my first shot, and will not be home until May 22nd. A few days after that, he’ll get his second shot. Hopefully, the TDY schedule will ease up… because he hasn’t had a break in ages and is a bit burned out. And both of us could use a change of scenery that doesn’t involve work. It’s bad enough that seriously, I would welcome a visit to Stuttgart so we can see Dr. Blair. We’ll go stay at our favorite Stuttgart area hotel… or maybe we’ll try another property. At least it will be a break from the neighborhood! I never thought I’d wish for a dental cleaning for my birthday!

Edited to add: A couple of days ago, I saw something very German while I was walking the dogs. A guy who looked like Barry Manilow circa 1978 was roller blading down the main drag of our village while pushing a baby carriage. He was really moving out, too. I was impressed by his blading AND parenting skills, getting his kid out for some fresh air. It reminded me of when we lived in Pfäffingen, during our first Germany experience. There was a guy there who I would see every day in a reclining bike/wheelchair, using his arms to haul ass down the street. It was a most inspirational sight, because I don’t think the guy had use of his legs, yet I could tell he was very fit. I wish I were as active as some of my German neighbors are.

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Uncategorized

It’s May… and so far, it might as well be March.

Here’s a quick post to update the travel blog. Right now, things are still pretty much locked down in Germany. Our local Rewe has a new policy to limit people in the store to 40 at a time. They enforce this by only putting out forty shopping carts. Since shoppers have to use a cart to purchase anything, that’s supposedly how they’re going to keep the number of patrons low.

I’m scheduled to get my first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine tomorrow. It’s supposed to be the Moderna shot, which means that in 28 days, I have to go back and get the other one. Bill gets his second shot the day before the Memorial Day weekend starts. Ordinarily, we would be going somewhere fun for Memorial Day weekend, but I suspect he’ll be on his back, recovering.

There’s still a lot of news about Europe reopening to vaccinated travelers, or those who can show a negative PCR test. I still think it’s crazy for people to want to visit Europe right now, since so few locals have been vaccinated. I don’t know how they’re going to make a visit here worthwhile. Will museums, shops, and restaurants be open? Maybe, if the infection numbers decrease… but people will probably have to make appointments and wear masks. I know a lot of people don’t mind wearing a mask, but personally, I hate them. I find them uncomfortable and inconvenient, and seeing a bunch of people walking around in them gives me the creeps. Sorry… I know that’s not the politically correct attitude to have, but it’s how I feel. As long as I comply with the rules, I think I should be able to state out loud that I think the rules suck and I hope they change at some point.

Anyway… it’ll be interesting to see what summer brings for us. I look forward to getting the vaccine, although I hope it doesn’t make me feel too icky. After I get my shot, Bill will be off to Bavaria again for about 17 days, like he did in March. Once again, it will suck for me, but at least the weather might be better. Or will it?

Today is May 4th. We’re well into springtime. But it’s cold and rainy outside, and as of about 9:00am, it’s a nice toasty 53 degrees. I think after I’m done blogging, I might just go back to bed and finish my latest book so I can review it and move on to the next one. Today is a good day for reading… and maybe making homemade soup!

Seriously… I would love to be traveling right now, but I miss it the way it was a couple of years ago. Right now, things are still just too weird. But I’m going to do my part and get the shots. I’ve got no problem with it. And hopefully, the weather will improve and maybe I’ll want to go sit in the garden… or walk the dogs… or daydream about our next adventure. I really feel glad that we were here for a few years before COVID-19 struck. I feel sorry for people who moved to Germany as the virus was hitting us. I remember it took us months to travel when Bill and I lived in Germany the first time. I later kicked myself for not getting out more, and made a point of seeing Europe when we moved back. Now, I’m back to sitting on my ass.

Ah well… hopefully, more people will get their shots and we can have some fun again soon. I would settle for a trip to the Kaiser-Friedrich Theme, our local mineraltherme (nude), so I can get some relief for my aching joints.

Today’s featured photo is of something I hope to see again soon… road signs!

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