complaints, family, holidays

That “damned ham”, and our crappy Thanksgiving… Things are looking better today, though.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was not much better than Charlie Brown’s… This post is probably going to be depressing, so I offer fair warning.

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a good day yesterday. Our Thanksgiving, quite frankly, kind of sucked. It’s partly my fault, I guess. Bill and I just never got around to making any concrete plans for what we were going to make for the holiday. He bought a two pound raw ham, because it’s just us, and we don’t have tons of refrigerator space. Then, as the afternoon got later, I reminded Bill that it was Thanksgiving, and he said he’d bought the ham. This was “special”, because we almost never have ham that wasn’t sliced for sandwiches at the deli. Other than that, we had our usual mashed potatoes and peas, and no rolls, gravy, special dessert or anything.

That “damned ham” wasn’t that great. It had kind of a gray look to it, which gave me the willies. I’m used to ham that is pink. But it turned out the ham wasn’t spoiled or anything. I’m just not used to having one that isn’t cured. It was a bit dry and tasteless. I would have preferred roasted duck or chicken, I guess. Oh well.

Last year, we ordered our Thanksgiving dinner from a local restaurant that caters to Americans. This year, we didn’t see their ad for the dinner until it was too late to order. I also remember that last year, we had leftovers forever. Even half a turkey is too much for us to finish on our own, and it came with a bunch of sides. The food was delicious, but way more than enough for us.

I used to really enjoy cooking and was good at it, but Bill kind of took over that task some years ago. And he’s been working a lot and, I guess, was kind of tired and didn’t think to do anything particularly special yesterday. Neither of us really thought about what we should do for the holiday. He looked so tired last night that I suggested ordering sushi or something, but he said he wanted to cook the ham. So he did… At least the wine was good. We had an Amarone from Tuscany.

And we later had a talk that was kind of like this… Bill will probably never live down that “damned ham”, which wasn’t salty at all…

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. I used to love visiting my extended family in Virginia, hanging out with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and beloved Granny. Now, a number of aunts and uncles and my Granny are dead, and we have a pandemic going on that’s gotten worse. A number of Christmas markets were set to start and had even gotten their kiosks set up, only to be canceled at the last minute thanks to COVID-19… and then our Thanksgiving meal was like any other meal on any other night.

It’s not even so much the lack of special food that was disappointing… I guess what disappointed me was that it was like any other day. I miss seeing people and doing fun things, like going out to eat in restaurants. Things had been slightly more normal in the warmer months, but now that winter is approaching, the weather is grey, damp, and depressing; it’s cold; and everywhere in Europe is locking down again.

We thought about going to lunch, but we were waiting for a package to get here, and German delivery drivers don’t often just leave packages like they do in the States. Then, Bill was supposed to have a session with his therapist, but the therapist canceled because he was sick. So we just hung out at home, like we would on any other Thursday. All my friends were posting pictures of their family gatherings and food on Facebook. And there we were with that “damned ham”.

Here in Germany, authorities are starting to implement a new system that requires even vaccinated people to get tested before they can go anywhere. It seems like too much of a pain in the ass to me, so we just skip it and stay home. And well… it just kind of sucks. The 2G+ system isn’t required everywhere– yet… but we’re also getting to the end of our vaccination efficacy, and some of Bill’s co-workers are getting boosters. I guess we’ll be getting ours soon, too.

To look on the bright side, at least we didn’t eat too much, didn’t get indigestion, don’t have tons of leftovers, and had a minimal mess to clean up. We won’t be gaining any weight. It was also nice to be with Bill yesterday, as it always is. He’s my favorite person. I was just kind of disappointed, I guess. Thanksgiving really is just another day in Germany. I think I’m missing home a little bit, too, even though holidays with my family can turn into an emotional minefield.

In 2014, I went to Virginia for what has, so far, been my last Thanksgiving at home. We went because my dad died that year, and we had a memorial for him. While we were there, I talked to my Uncle Carl, who sadly passed away about six weeks later. He had leukemia. But during that visit, he was still alive and we talked about a tenant who was living in a spare apartment he owned. He was talking about how he was trying to help him. As we were talking, my Uncle Bill approached and said to Carl, “That guy who is living in your apartment is a P.O.W.”

I looked up at Uncle Bill in confusion and he said, “Piece of work.” Apparently, the tenant who was living in my uncle’s spare apartment was not paying rent. However, he kept the apartment spotless. Carl wanted to help him because the tenant had a girlfriend who was pregnant. She was getting welfare assistance, so they couldn’t live together. Carl’s wife, Betty, couldn’t stand the tenant and was barely civil to him. Betty, also, has sadly passed on, as she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease at the time. Carl had been taking care of her until he got cancer. I’m so glad I was able to go home that year. Carl spoke at my dad’s memorial service. But it wasn’t much longer before Carl had a memorial service of his own, which of course I couldn’t attend.

I remember thinking, the last time I was “home” for Thanksgiving, that that would be the last time I saw some of the people who attended that year. I was right about that. In 2015 alone, I lost three uncles. By 2019, I’d lost an aunt and another uncle. Last year, I lost a cousin and my father-in-law. And in 2020, there was no Thanksgiving shindig, thanks to COVID-19, which continues to fuck things up in 2021, even though we have vaccines and new medications.

Even as I feel this “ennui”– which is pretty normal for me, because I often get a little depressed and nutty during the holiday season– I realize that I probably shouldn’t feel this way, since we are actually pretty fortunate. We did, after all, just have a fabulous trip to Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia, and we managed to do it before everything started shutting down again. But then I remind myself that feelings are just feelings. They usually pass. It’s not helpful to feel guilty for being sad.

We went to bed at our usual time last night. I had a vivid dream that involved an online friend of mine and occasional blog reader and commenter named Andrew. I dreamt that Bill and I took over a mini amusement park Andrew and his wife started. It was built into the side of a mountain, and there were train tracks around it. They had also lived in the park, which was all indoors. I remember that as Bill and I took it over, I had resolved to start slowly, building one attraction at a time, so we wouldn’t get overwhelmed. We had just built the carousel when I woke up.

Then, this morning, Bill gave me some news about his daughter. A couple of months ago, he remarked that she was “glowing” during their Skype session. I made an offhand comment that she was probably pregnant. Well… last night, they made the announcement. It’s funny, since I have only met her in person once, and didn’t actually see her on that Skype session where she was “glowing”. I usually don’t hang around when they chat. But when Bill mentioned the glowing look in September, I had a feeling she was about to expand her family. Guess my instincts were dead on again. Then, Bill gave me a cup of coffee and a Berliner that he got from the local bakery. That was better than that damned ham…

Anyway… enough of my whinging. Bill is working from home today. I am washing all the bedding, which is always a treat at bedtime. I love having fresh, clean sheets on a bed. And we do have much to be grateful for, like the fact that we have each other, plenty of food, and the means to put fresh sheets on the bed. At least we’re not in prison, right? There’s fresh hope for 2022, as Bill looks forward to becoming a grandfather again. And we can always have a special meal. Maybe we’ll go out for one this weekend, or even make one at home. Bill likes cooking with me… but I don’t like cooking with him. I’m not much of a team player. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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holidays

Christmas Eve already!

A slightly altered version of this post also appears on my travel blog.

I know a lot of people think this year has dragged on. For me, it’s flown by. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, we were in Nimes, France, celebrating Christmas 2019 with my good friend Audra and her husband. Audra and I grew up in the same small town and attended the same small college. We have both ended up living in Europe, although Audra has gone native and will probably stay in France. I, on the other hand, will probably leave Europe at some point. Or, I’ll probably leave Germany, anyway. I don’t know when, and I’m not in a hurry to go anywhere.

I like living in Europe. I’m grateful we were able to move here well before the pandemic started. We’ve had a lot of fun over the past few years, despite some of the hassles. I don’t really miss life in the United States. I do miss a few people and some of the conveniences of living in my homeland, but the German lifestyle appeals to me. I like that life isn’t just about working. I like that the leaders seem to care about the citizenry. I like that our town is clean and the people are nice.

So homey… but Noyzi sure sheds a lot!

The weather could be better, but it’s not bad here. It’s noticeably milder these days than it was during our first time here. Of course, that’s probably because of global warming, which is kind of depressing. But in the meantime, global warming makes winters less snowy and icy, on the whole. We do have lots and lots of rain, and that’s turned our backyard into a sloppy mess. But it’s fenced in, and we have plenty of privacy. The dogs get to enjoy a few minutes out there to do their business without the need of a leash. We also have a nice landlord. He likes dogs, and yesterday brought us three bottles of bubbly and a box of chocolates, as well as free firewood.

Bill and I have a lot to be grateful for, even if 2020 has been a most unusual and horrifying year for so many people. We did have some losses, but we’re both still basically healthy and happy… and a few genuinely great things happened, too. The highlight was Bill getting to see his daughter again after fifteen years and meeting his son in law and grandchildren.

He’s getting braver.

Also… I think Noyzi the Kosovar street dog was meant to be our dog. He’s settling in well and enjoying being a pet with his own big, hairy bed, and his own private water bowl, because he doesn’t like drinking from the one in the kitchen. Noyzi and Arran aren’t buddies yet, but I have seen a few sparks of playfulness. He’s becoming a goofy clown. I notice he sniffs the air when something is cooking and he silently sneaks up behind me when it’s time for us to eat. I’ll feel his big nose tap me on the back as if to say, “Don’t forget the Nozyi snack tax.” It’s been very rewarding to watch him adapt and enjoy things that so many dogs love… like walks and treats and belly rubs.

Arran, lying on what used to be Zane’s rug. He’s finally the boss.

Arran is still very spry and engaged with life, despite being about eleven years old. He still loves his walks, food, sleeping with us, and cuddling with Bill, who is his favorite person. I’m grateful that I caught him heading downstairs last night before we went to bed. He needed a potty break, big time!

Bill and I are also learning guitar. A year ago, I didn’t own a guitar. Now we have four of them, and Bill is shopping for an electric version. I was even talking about picking up bass guitar last night. If this pandemic goes on for much longer, I might have to go for it. I’ve managed to make some nice vocal recordings, too, even if they aren’t as popular as my blog is (which isn’t saying that much).

I’m also grateful to all of you who continue to read and comment on my stuff, even when I go a little off the rails. Thanks for giving me a reason to write. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas. I may or may not write tomorrow. Depends on how bored I get, and if inspiration strikes.

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Duggars, holidays

Jinger Vuolo’s new baby girl… and Happy Thanksgiving!

The news came out last night (my time, anyway), that Jinger and Jeremy Vuolo of Counting On have welcomed their second child, a girl named Evangeline Jo. The baby was born on Sunday night, November 22, and she joins her two year old sister, Felicity Nicole.

I don’t mind the name Evangeline, I guess… and that’s a good thing, since she’s not my kid. I think “Jo” is a bit of a weird middle name that doesn’t really have a ring to it, but Jinger says it’s in honor of Jeremy’s middle name of Joseph. Felicity’s middle name is Nicole, like Jinger’s is, so I guess it’s only fair. Now that both kids have their parents’ middle names, are they going to stop having babies? They do seem less interested in mass breeding than Jinger’s parents.

Sometimes, I think Jeremy Vuolo decided to “rescue” Jinger from her humongous family. I remember when 19 Kids and Counting was still on, and Jinger commented that she wanted to live in a big city. Michelle Duggar was quick to clarify that Jinger meant she wanted to live closer to a Walmart, not explore the streets of New York City. Of course, it was obvious Michelle’s clarification was a fabrication. Jinger married Jeremy, and now they live in Los Angeles, which probably suits her fine. And it looks like she’s kind of detaching from the whole fundie lifestyle, although she’s still religious.

It will be interesting to see which of the Duggar kids reject the whole super Christian shit altogether. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jinger does. I think Jill may also ditch it, too, which is funny since she always seemed to be the biggest Kool-Aid drinker and tattletale when they were growing up. But, just as heads tend to clear when people escape a toxic, abusive environment, so do adults tend to follow their own instincts and live their own lives when they break away from their parents’ domain.

Anyway, I wish Evangeline luck. She’s been born in strange and interesting times. And the people on the Duggar Family News page are relentless in their criticisms already. Now, the Duggars have Ivy, Evy (Evelyn), and Evangeline… maybe theyโ€™ll form a singing group someday.

Moving on…

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. This year is going to be harder for a lot of people for many reasons. I’ve seen lots of people bitching about those who decided to travel. I’m not going to judge the travelers. I hope they’ll all be okay and don’t pick up or spread COVID-19. I know some of them will… but I also know that being away from family is hard for a lot of people. And I also think people should make up their own minds about what they want to do.

Bill and I, of course, are staying home. It’s cold and gloomy outside, but we have a fireplace, and we ordered a takeout Thanksgiving meal from a local restaurant. There are only two of us eating, and we need to do what we can to help businesses survive. They’re doing a Thanksgiving meal, so we’re taking advantage of it. We ate at their place before they moved to the German/American golf course last year, and we had a fantastic meal. Hopefully, today’s offering will be just as good.

I miss my annual family gatherings… but sometimes, being overseas makes things easier. It’s a lot easier to say no to gatherings when you live in Europe and your family is in America.

So… enjoy your holiday, be safe and happy, and eat your fill!

The featured photo was our living room last night. God, I love having a fireplace again!

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holidays

Hitting the road…

We’re out of here. I’m ready to go, but there’s always a little bit of angst that comes with taking a trip. I’m always afraid I’ll forget something. Then I tell myself that we’re not going to the bush country in Africa. We can always go to the store if we need to, and we’ll be back in about ten days, anyway.

On another note… last night, a friend of mine who has been a key figure on the mask preaching brigade, shared a post that a “life coach” friend of hers posted. This lady just lost her grandma, not to COVID-19, but to some other malady. However, because of COVID-19, Grandma died alone, and my friend’s friend, the life coach, is unable to go back to the United States to attend Grandma’s funeral… at least not without a significant pain in the ass trying to get back to Germany.

So life coach lady ranted about how America needs to “get it together”, so this stuff won’t happen anymore. Unfortunately, even if everyone in America was suddenly perfectly compliant about COVID-19 risk mitigation, it will still take some time for things to get back to “normal”. In fact, they may never get back to normal.

Anyway, this post is less about that, than what my friend wrote as she shared her friend’s post, then an article about COVID-19 that was in the Atlantic magazine. She basically resorted to insulting her “friends” on Facebook, telling them to “stop whining”, and directing them to wear masks and stay home.

I was about to fall asleep, so I didn’t respond to the post. Instead, I hid it, just like I hide most of the other posts of that type. People are very upset and rightfully so. What she sees as “whining”, they probably see as legitimate complaining. I doubt her friends appreciate being told they’re whining, especially by someone who has self-appointed herself a COVID-19 mask enforcer.

It occurred to me that if people want others to be convinced to change their ways, they’re probably not going to respond to someone who insults them. I get that people are frustrated. Everyone is. But calling people whiners and trying to tell them what to do is not helpful. It mostly leads to rebellion and withdrawal. Or, at the very least, people hiding your posts because you’re one of many people saying the same goddamned thing.

And… speaking of weirdness…

I talked to my mom last night. She was sounding good. But then she told me that my sister– a woman with a Ph.D. from an excellent school in public health– is embracing Donald Trump’s politics. I’m a bit shocked about it. I guess living in the south has rubbed off on her a lot. Either that, or my brother-in-law has finally brainwashed her into someone I don’t recognize anymore. Anyway, my response was a big WTF. She is the last person I would expect to be a Trump fan.

My mom also said that she read Mary Trump’s book and is completely shocked and disgusted by the Trump family. It basically confirmed what she already knew about them. I love that my mom and I have become friends now. We are a lot alike in many ways.

Well, that about does it for today. I have to finish packing so we can get going. Hopefully, we’ll come home healthy, happy, and brimming with new stories, pictures, and inspirations. I’m going to take the week off of guitar playing. Give my fingers a chance to soften.

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holidays

The birthday boy… “I really don’t care, do u?”

Today is Bill’s birthday. As a gift to him, I told him I wouldn’t complain if he orders Indian food for dinner. This is a big deal, because I don’t really like Indian food very much. It’s too spicy for me. Yes, I know not all of it is spicy, but I just never got on the Indian food appreciation bus. I wish I did like Indian food more. It would make things easier.

When I regularly used to play Cooking Dash 2016, there was an Indian restaurant. I don’t play Cooking Dash 2016 anymore, because I beat all the games and playing everyday became a chore. Anyway, some of the food used in the game looked really good. I was particularly fascinated by samosas. But then I tried to eat one in real life and it set my mouth on fire. I could not finish my very first samosa, and didn’t find eating it a pleasant experience.

Bill, by contrast, loves things hot and spicy. I think that applies to his women, too. He likes women who are a little bit difficult… not totally difficult, you understand. Just a bit spicy. I think he keeps me around for that purpose. He likes a challenge. If I were as bland as grits, he’d get really bored. Personally, I love grits, and other bland foods like potatoes and pasta… must be all that British/Irish heritage I have. Bill is happy to have flames coming out of his mouth.

Actually, to be honest, I told Bill that maybe we should go out to dinner tonight. He went looking for a place to go, but found little availability for tonight in Wiesbaden. He wasn’t too upset about it, though. Bill says that when a person gets to a certain age, birthdays aren’t that important and don’t need to be celebrated. So then I said, “I guess we should stop celebrating my birthdays, then.”

“No, no, no…” Bill said, “I like celebrating your birthday.” And he does, too, because it’s an excuse to go on a trip and/or eat a really nice meal in a restaurant. We usually do something fun for my birthday. I like celebrating Bill’s birthday, too. It gives me a reason to buy cool stuff.

He’s catching on!

This year, it was guitars. Last year, it was a cut crystal mixing glass for cocktails that I noticed him admiring when we went to Cologne last year to see the Eagles. In other years, I bought him knives from Japan or Germany. He started out loving the German Wusthof knives and graduated to Japanese knives. Our taste in knives has expanded. When we met, I was still using shitty Farberware knives.

Ten years ago, we were living near Atlanta, and Craft Atlanta was still operating. Bill had been wanting to go there, so I told him we should book a table. He hesitated, but I insisted that his birthday was worth celebrating. We ended up having a fantastic time, especially when I encouraged Bill to order a $61 steak. It had been dry aged for thirty days and I remember the waiter who looked after us got a look of sublime pleasure on his face. Maybe it was because of how good the beef was… or maybe it was because he was expecting a big tip, which of course he got. I remember coming home from that dinner with lots of amazing leftovers. I was so sad when I heard that Craft Atlanta closed. But then we had to move, anyway… and now, eating in a restaurant is a huge hassle.

Sweet ride…

I recently reposted a picture from that evening. Bill was driving my then new car, a 2009 Mini Cooper convertible. I still have that car, and it still has under 50,000 miles on it because it doesn’t get driven much. We may take it on our upcoming trip, though, because it’s fun to drive it at this time of year, with the top down… I look forward to spending some quality time outside, maybe swimming and taking pictures, reminding myself why it’s better to hang around here than peace out.

Last year, on Bill’s birthday, we were headed home from Leipzig, reeling over picking up a new car, seeing Mark Knopfler perform, and running into him and his band in the hotel restaurant. Six years ago, we were on our way home from Virginia, having just visited my father on his death bed. He died two days later, and we spent the rest of the month preparing for our move to Germany.

He’s no longer “Schfifty Five”…

As for Bill… he’s downstairs at his computer, working from home. I probably ought to make him a cake or something… or give him some birthday sex. Unfortunately, the door on the washing machine is on the fritz, so it’s probably better not to risk getting jism on the sheets until we can get it fixed. I don’t know that 2020’s birthday will be as exciting as past birthdays have been, but just so everyone knows, of course I care that today is Bill’s birthday. I thank God his mom was able to have him, because he’s a real gift to me.

Happy birthday, Mr. Bill! Yes, you can have takeout Indian food… and maybe we can have birthday sex, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or at least a hickey…

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