holidays, obits, politics, weather, YouTube

Winter has taken a big dump on Wiesbaden!

Pardon the uncouth reference to big dumps. In this case, I’m referring to snow. For the first time since we moved up here from Stuttgart five years ago, Wiesbaden has gotten significant snowfall in November. Because it was coming down like gangbusters yesterday, Noyzi didn’t get his usual walk. He was rarin’ to go this morning! Below are a couple of photos from last night. The snow fell steadily all day and into the night.

I put on a pair of new snow boots from Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly waterproof, and I felt some cold water on my toes and Noyzi and I made our round about the neighborhood. There’s still a lot of snow out there, and a little bit fell this morning. But it’s very slushy and messy now, as the stuff is melting already. It was a challenge to walk around the neighborhood, not just because of the thick, wet, slushy mess, but also because I was trying hard not to slip and fall. I don’t recover as quickly as I used to from unexpected falls, and I’d rather not have an Unfall while walking Noyzi, who’s still afraid of people he doesn’t know. The creek is really high now!

We managed to walk around the neighborhood successfully, and when we got home, I went in the backyard and knocked some of the snow off the one tree and the three bushes back there. It was weighing down the branches and actually broke one on the tree. That tree actually fell a couple of years ago after snow. I was sure it was a goner, but once we pruned some of the limbs, it sprang back to life. The other myrtle we had back there died mysteriously.

I feel like I’m behind right now… I have ordered some Christmas presents for Bill, but I feel like I need to order more. Of course, I don’t have to do any such thing. But there’s something about Christmas that just makes me feel like I have to engage in the ritual. I don’t know what to get for him, either. I think we’ve got too many cookbooks, but I’ll probably look for one, anyway. Ditto to barware and kitchen stuff… and small appliances. I hate to spend money on stuff we don’t really need. But I also hate the idea of not having anything to open on Christmas day, even though I also hate wrapping gifts and am not good at it at all. We’ll see what I come up with.

What’s even crazier is, just ten days ago, I was in Armenia, wearing sandals and sweating in long sleeved shirts. Armenia does get cold in the winter, but they were having a pretty temperate November. It was good for our visit, since it made looking around the city of Yerevan easier. But here in Germany, we’ve already got snow. Rain this time of year is typical, and snow probably used to be typical. It’s not anymore… at least not in Hessen.

I finished my Armenia series this morning. I hope it doesn’t offend anyone… but then, I write these things for myself, in my own unique voice. And anyone who knows me, and stays in my life, knows that I have a unique voice. Some people don’t know what to do with it. Other people find it refreshing.

One other thing happened yesterday. A guy I did a few duets with a couple of years ago resurfaced on YouTube. He played a really lovely Bob Dylan song. I left him a comment, so he visited my channel and noticed all the new stuff I have up, as well as my new videos that actually star me in them. 😉 It was good to see and hear from him, and it made me want to record something new. Maybe today, after my hair dries post shower, I’ll do something new on the channel. Then, it’ll be time to think about Christmas stuff. This time of year makes me a bit crazy… but it could be worse. I could be dealing with holiday drama. There’s little drama here. Just Bill falling asleep at 9:00 PM, and me wondering when I’ll finally get fed up enough with my stomach issues and see a doctor… something I truly dread doing.

Maybe soon, I’ll get back to writing about current events. It’s hard to get back into the groove of that, though. I shudder to think what will happen if Trump manages to get reelected. Or worse, someone younger, smarter, and more diabolical gets elected… UGH. That was one reason I told Bill last night that I don’t want to see a doctor. Because if that happens, I don’t think I want to stick around. That’s how strongly I feel about it. Naturally, that comment really upset him, and I’m sorry for that. But it’s how I feel. I think Trump will lead us to Hell.

And finally, I haven’t had the chance to reflect on Rosalynn Carter’s recent death. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of memories of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. I was very young when he was in office. I do remember them, though, because I remember Amy Carter, who wasn’t that much older than I was. I was 8 years old when Reagan became president, and Carter was elected when we lived in England. I do admire the strong partnership Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter had in their amazing 77 years of marriage. I think Jimmy Carter is a true humanitarian, and he and his wife walked the walk of good Christians.

I suspect that it won’t be long before Jimmy joins his beloved wife wherever souls go after their bodies die. If I’m going to say anything about the Carters, I’ll say that they were tremendous examples to the American people of what we all should strive to be. I know not everyone liked Carter’s policies– particularly people in the military. But I think he and Rosalynn have represented the best America has to offer, especially post White House. And I hope that the Carters have peace, comfort, and love during this time of mourning. It truly is the end of an era for their family.

food, holidays

Now it’s okay to play Christmas music…

So yesterday was Thanksgiving, which means that we are now in the middle of the holiday season. Our Thanksgiving was pretty low key. I vacuumed the house while Bill made a cherry cheese pie. Then I made macaroni and cheese, mainly because Bill made me want it. Finally, Bill made a chicken pot pie. We went with the chicken pot pie because of Bill’s dental trauma. He just had an implant installed and is healing, complete with stitches.

We had part of a chicken that needed to be eaten, so I suggested that he make a chicken pot pie. So he did, and it turned out great. I was especially happy about the pastry, which was perfect– flaky and tasty. The pie was less successful, because he didn’t use US products with his US recipe. He didn’t have cherry pie filling or American condensed milk, which is sweetened.

Anyway, it wasn’t the fanciest meal… and we didn’t even break out the good china for it. But it was tasty and filling, and there was no fighting or weirdness. We had good music and good company. So Thanksgiving was a success, in my book.

Mac and cheese, with a little leftover bacon thrown in. Technically, we had this for lunch.

While we were eating, I heard some Christmas music. For once, I didn’t change the song, because– hey– it’s holiday time. And because today is Black Friday, I started shopping for gifts. Actually, today I bought cheese and chocolate, as well as a few essentials for the house and a couple of gifts for Bill. Naturally, that activity made USAA’s fraud detection bots go nuts.

They sent me a message on my USAA app, but when I tried to verify my identity, the app decided I was taking too long. Then I got an error message. So I had to call USAA to get them to unblock my card, and I had to do that on my cell phone, using their local number. I was supposed to call them collect, but I don’t even remember how to do that. I haven’t made a collect call in decades.

I spent several minutes on the phone with one lady, but since she was dealing with credit cards, and the charges in question were on my debit card, she had to send me to another operator… a heavily accented fellow who sounded pretty bored with his work. Gone are the days when I’d call USAA and they’d address me by name and thank me for my many years of membership. USAA really sucks now, but they are among the few banks that will allow American expats on SOFA status to have an account while living abroad. Crazy that they didn’t seem to have a problem with charges from Armenia, but I do some transactions on Black Friday, and their damned bots go nuts.

In any case, the issue is sorted, and my cheese and chocolate and other stuff is successfully ordered. But one other issue came up. I turned on my VPN so I could navigate to a site that kept giving me the geo block. I forgot to turn off the VPN before I signed into my email account, so I got an alert for that, too. And in the process of checking that, I saw a bunch of people or bots or whatever, from around the world, trying to log into my email account. Fucking scammers. They need to get a real job.

I never knew what Black Friday was, even though my parents were retailers who depended on the Christmas season, until I worked in retail. I had a boss who got upset with me because I wanted to go home to my family’s homestead for Thanksgiving. I seem to remember having to race back to Williamsburg, Virginia from Natural Bridge on Saturday to go to work. I’m glad I’m not in that world anymore.

I completed another post for my Armenia series on the travel blog. I may do another later today, if I feel up to it. Or maybe I’ll just do another musical number. Or maybe I’ll take a nap and watch YouTube. I don’t know. I sure am not as physically active this week, as I was last week! That’s for damned sure.

I am shocked that it’s time for the holidays, though… 2023 has flown by. Maybe 2024 will bring a new dog into our lives. I am definitely ready for one. Hopefully, the weather will improve. There’s a wine stand tonight, but it’s cold and rainy outside. I have a feeling we’d rather stay home and drink wine in front of the fire.

The church in our town. I took the featured photo and this photo at the same time. Weather is so weird.
family, food, holidays, home, Virginia

I got it all done yesterday… and now I can just enjoy the lights!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers who celebrate. Bill and I have very casual plans for “turkey day”. In fact, we’re not even having turkey. I mentioned that Bill had dental implant surgery the other day, so he can’t yet chow down on things that aren’t soft. Because he’s a sweet, thoughtful, kind husband, he stopped at the store and bought a duck leg, which he planned to sous vide for me. He was going to eat macaroni and cheese.

When he told me about his plans, I kind of rolled my eyes. It’s not that I don’t appreciate his plans to cook a duck leg for me. I just didn’t need him to go to such a special effort. Thanksgiving is historically my favorite holiday, but in Germany, it’s not a holiday. Most of my family is in Virginia, which is thousands of miles away from here.

I suggested that instead of cooking a duck leg just for me, Bill use the leftover chicken in the fridge to make a chicken pot pie. That way, we can both enjoy the same thing for dinner. It’s soft enough for him to eat, will get rid of leftovers, and is the perfect kind of food for a cold, blustery day like we have today. Bill liked that idea, so he’s planning to do that, and he’ll cook the duck leg later. He’s also making a cherry cheese pie. I don’t need to be eating that, but I won’t turn it down.

Yesterday, I decided to put up the Christmas trees. I was a bit tired and cranky by the time Bill got home from work. I asked him if he’d seen the email I sent asking him to pick up a couple of strands of lights. One of the strands we had was kind of dying. The lights were really dim on the tree and looked terrible.

Bill hadn’t seen my email, so I told him to forget it and I’d just make do. He said “Why don’t you wait until tomorrow to finish this.”

And I said, “Because I just want to get this over with.”

He said, “I could help you with it.”

I responded, “Yes, but you plan to cook tomorrow. Besides, you get in my way.”

He sighed and shook his head, then cracked a smile. Bill is truly the perfect man for me.

I mentioned yesterday that decorating for Christmas isn’t that much fun for me anymore. I’m not good at it; it wears me out; and makes a big mess. However, I do really enjoy seeing the lights and having our living room look more homey and lived in. For that reason, I keep decorating. I think when we move out of Germany, we’ll ditch the smaller tree we bought in 2007, after we forgot to pack our Christmas decorations in our baggage when we moved here with the Army.

Bill finally said, “I’ll go up to the Rewe to see if they have any lights.”

So, while Bill was looking for lights, I continued to decorate the larger tree, which had fully functioning lights. Bill came back later with two strands of German lights that make our smaller tree look like something out of Clark W. Griswold’s most fantastic Christmas wet dreams. Now I wonder if we shouldn’t have just bought all new lights for both trees, because the smaller one is showing up the bigger one. I’ll have to keep that in mind for next year.

This morning, I had vivid dreams of Yerevan. I think it’s because I’m writing a very intense travel blog series about the city, where I lived from 1995-97. Those were considered part of the “dark years” of Yerevan. It’s certainly not a dark place anymore!

I also woke up to a nice Thanksgiving greeting from one of my cousins, who has repeatedly said he wishes I was in Virginia. That’s nice to read, although I think if I were in Virginia, we’d just be black sheep together. 😀 Then he posted that he wants to visit us in Europe. I told him to come on over. I’d love to see him! My home and my heart is always open to those who love and accept me for who I am… and he is one of the people who does.

Anyway, I miss my family, in spite of everything. I hope they all have a good time at Granny’s house. I’m with them in spirit. And I can’t believe it’s been nine years since I was last home with them. Maybe 2024 will be the year I go back over the pond.

By the way… last night, we did another Champagne bucket drawing last night to decide where we’ll be going next… I think 2024 will be a good year for travel, if we’re able to do these suggested trips.

family, holidays, home

Ugh… Christmas time is upon us, isn’t it?

Thanks to our trip to Yerevan last week, the holiday season has kind of crept up on me. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and because Bill just had oral surgery, it may not be much of a celebration for us. I used to love Thanksgiving. It was my favorite holiday for many years, but in Germany, it doesn’t mean that much. I know some people celebrate Thanksgiving here, and there are even a couple of restaurants that offer Thanksgiving dinner for the American crowd. But since it’s just the two of us, we don’t always make a big deal out of it… and this year, Bill has stitches in his mouth.

I used to love decorating for Christmas, but now it seems like a pain in the ass. I do like putting up the trees (we have two), because I like how they look. They make our living room look more lived in, and the lights are pretty. But it’s an ordeal to decorate, because I don’t necessarily enjoy it, nor am I very good at it. Nevertheless, I have started the process. Yesterday, I started bringing up the decorations. This morning, I brought up the trees and ornaments. I’ve already put up the trees and put out the decorations. I just have to add the lights, garlands, and ornaments. I may do that later today. There’s no need to rush.

Then there’s buying gifts and wrapping them. I don’t mind the buying part, but I’m not very good at gift wrapping. Some people have a real knack for making packages look perfect and festive. Not me! I didn’t inherit that gene from my mom.

Speaking of my mom, I talked to her yesterday. She said she’s been suffering from vertigo lately, but is otherwise doing fine. She was going to to go the family reunion in Natural Bridge, Virginia, where my dad grew up, but decided to cancel because of the vertigo. She also realized that a lot of the people she’d like to see are either dead or not coming to the party. So, being ever pragmatic, she’s staying home. Pragmatism is one gene I did inherit from my mom.

Bill picked up our Czech paintings yesterday. They look fabulous. I’ve already hung them. He also dropped off our new Armenian paintings to be framed. I’m thinking I’d like to have a few more of our unframed paintings framed. Maybe after Christmas, we’ll do that. I think we have a couple of new stools being made for our wine barrel table. I love how the bird painting turned out!

The one thing I would like to do very soon is add a new dog to our family… But I have to find the right one, and that could take time. Now is a good time, though. We have no trips planned.

I guess I can be grateful that we have no holiday drama. That used to be an annual fixture of both Bill’s and my holidays, before we were married. Now, we can just celebrate together, and be assured that there will be no fighting or other bullshit to contend with. Just good food, good humor, good music, and lots of booze. 😉 Maybe there won’t be as much booze this year. Don’t want to upset my stomach.

Here it comes again…

Christmas is a nice time in Germany. I should just enjoy it, if only for the Christmas markets. This time of year makes me a little crazy, though. I’m not gonna lie. But it’s coming. The undecorated Christmas tree in our Dorfplatz is already up.

communication, family, holidays, memories

Nothing says “I love you” like Proactiv under the Christmas tree…

Friday morning at last! And I’m kind of happy this morning, because Bill sent me a message yesterday letting me know that he’s going to be home tomorrow, instead of on Wednesday. So I won’t be spending a boring weekend home alone. I mean, it might still be a boring weekend, but I won’t be spending it watching YouTube videos.

I’m feeling better today. The abdominal pain I was experiencing earlier in the week has mostly subsided. I still have a little annoying pressure, but it’s hardly noticeable. This is a good thing. I’ve been living a relatively clean lifestyle, for me, anyway… no beer or wine since Saturday, and no big meals. I just can’t be bothered when it’s just me. I usually cook a roast or a chicken or something and eat that all week, unless I get in the mood to cook. The older I get, the less interested I am in cooking, unless it’s for someone besides me.

I was looking through my Facebook memories this morning and I found a funny status update from 2012. I had a conversation with someone who reminded me of a relative who used to give me “self-improvement” gifts for Christmas and my birthday. One year, she gave me a workout video called The Daytona Beat. I still remember the hideous soundtrack, which included a very annoying and repetitive theme song that I won’t torture you with, except that they used the words “heat” and “beat”. I mean, Daytona is in Florida, right? I would expect it to be hot there, even in the 1980s.

The video my sister sent me… Egad! I think the video had a beginner session, too. Is that a burger and fries on her leotard?

Another year, she gave me a makeup kit from a fancy company. It was probably Estee Lauder, rather than my preferred Lancome. She probably got it for free when she bought cosmetics. Not that that’s a bad thing, per se. We all love the gifts that come with purchases at the cosmetic counter, except that the colors they give you are usually the ones no one buys. I don’t buy a lot of Lancome anymore, because it’s no longer that easy to get it from my usual source. So I do have some Estee Lauder makeup now, although I rarely put it on. Sometimes, I don’t even put it on when I make videos. I did put some on for Alex’s video a couple of days ago, but I didn’t do a full makeup job. It was near bedtime, and I didn’t want to have to take it off.

But the most tone deaf gift came when she presented me with Proactiv, which is an acne treatment system. I have never had particularly severe acne. Yes, I have had zits in my life, but never so bad that I would go to a dermatologist or consider using a special system. I remember her telling me that Proactiv had worked for her, and she’d gotten a “deal”. So she was sharing the wealth.

Gee, thanks…

I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth. The truth is, I was kind of curious about Proactiv at the time, although I never ended up using the gift she sent. By the time she’d sent it, acne was no longer a big problem in my life. This particular sister is a lot more image conscious than I am. Generally speaking, I don’t really care too much about being a hottie. At my age, that particular ship has probably sailed. But even when I was younger, I didn’t really care too much about being super cute. I do wear makeup, and there was a time when I was more interested in dressing well and looking good. However, I was certainly never as concerned about my looks as she was, and it shows. 😉

I’m sure my sister was just being pragmatic. She saw areas in my life in which she thought I could improve myself. It probably didn’t occur to her that the message she was sending was potentially offensive to me. This kind of thinking is pretty prevalent among many people. They see an obvious “problem” and figure all you need to do to fix it is have the right tools. So, I could be thinner, fitter, and therefore cuter, if I just had a cheesy aerobics video to work out to in front of my parents’ floor model television.

I could have a prettier face if I just had some expensive makeup to slather on it, evening out the acne spots and blotches and bringing out my eyes, which are probably my prettiest physical feature besides my hair (which I’m now wondering if I should color again). Why wouldn’t I want to have a prettier face? Actually, the makeup was probably the gift that was the least offensive to me, especially when I was younger and didn’t have money for such things.

I could have smoother, blemish free skin if I’d just use Proactiv. And if I have smoother skin, maybe I’ll be more attractive to others. Being more attractive to others will lead to… what, exactly? Do I actually want to be more attractive to people who only care about what I look like? I’ve seen what often happens to pretty women. They tend to end up with men who treat them like trophies or just want to fuck them. Mind you, that’s not always the case… but it happens pretty frequently. See this post for an example.

It reminds me of the summer of 1997, just before I left Armenia for a month in Europe, then onward to home. At the time, there were a bunch of people in Yerevan trying to sell Herbalife, which is a supplement from a multi-level marketing company. Armenians apparently didn’t realize that, as an American, I come from the country where Herbalife originated, and I already knew about it. They used to stop me on the street to show me before and after photos, figuring I’d be interested in buying their crappy MLM product. Even if I’d had any money back then, I wouldn’t have been interested.

I’m sure they thought they were helping me, when what they were really doing was mortifying and humiliating me. It happened to me at least two or three times that I recall, and every time it happened, I died a little more and eagerly anticipated getting out of there. I was so obviously not Armenian, so people noticed me wherever I went. At that time in my life, I was also a very single virgin and wondering if I’d ever be attractive enough for a man. I pondered if I was just too ugly to live, or something. Fortunately, Bill came into my life two years later… and later, he literally came into me! (Yes, I know… super gross thing thing to write, even if it’s true. I never claimed to be classy.)

The traumatic Herbalife memories are one reason why I am a little apprehensive about going back to Armenia. I was just trying to go about my business, and people would actually stop me to talk about my “obvious problem” and offer to sell me Herbalife. It was beyond offensive, although I can intellectually understand why they did it. They probably thought of it as a win/win. I’d miraculously slim down to “acceptable” standards, and they’d make some much needed money. I’m sure it never occurred to them that I just wanted to be left alone. They had no idea that I spent years obsessing about my looks and body, thanks to comments from so-called “loved ones” who were just trying to be “helpful”. Fuck them. They should focus on themselves, and their peculiar need to “fix” people other than themselves.

In this December 2017 photo, Bill and I were sitting with his mom at the Stuttgart Airport. We were on our way to Berlin. I quipped, “You once came out of your mother, and now you come into me…” I know… that’s not very ladylike, and the expression on his face says it all. I’m surprised he takes me anywhere.

I know I’ve written about this phenomenon a few times in my blog. I actually wrote a different version of this post ten years ago, on my original version of The Overeducated Housewife. I chose not to repost that one, though, because I realize I have different things to write about this trend of people feeling like they need to try to “fix” other people. In my original post, I focused more on how hurt I felt that my sister gave me several self-improvement gifts, seemingly without a thought about how that might come across to me. In this post, I feel more philosophical. More things have happened since 2013.

For example, a few months ago, a relative by marriage– supposedly a “friend”– complimented my looks based on a picture I shared that wasn’t even of me. And she didn’t know me well enough to understand that what she’d meant as a kindness was actually very offensive to me. I vented about the incident in my blog. She read it, got pissed off, and blocked me. I’m sorry she was upset by my negative reaction to her mistake. I’m sure she “meant well”, when she attempted to compliment me and failed spectacularly. Apparently, I should have just suffered in silence. Why is it that other people are allowed to be offended, but I’m not?

In fairness to my relative by marriage, she didn’t actually know me as well as she assumed she did, and didn’t realize that I have a lot of baggage that comes from the expectation that I should be “pretty”. If she’d been an actual friend, she probably would have been more aware… or at least would have been concerned that complimenting my looks, based on a picture of someone who isn’t even me, was pretty offensive. Especially when she laughed it off instead of apologizing. The photo she complimented was of a younger, thinner woman with longer, browner hair than I’ve ever had in my lifetime. It was also an obvious meme that had been passed around Facebook like a plate of stale hors d’oeuvres. Moreover, I don’t think she even read before posting, which is a chronic problem on the gamut of social media platforms. Maybe I shouldn’t have been hurt by that, but I was. Sorry, I’m (clearly) not perfect. Prick me and I bleed.

Bill and me on November 16, 2002… I looked pretty, except for the double chin… 🙁

It’s taken me a long time to move beyond the way I used to think of myself when I was younger. I was much less secure then, which isn’t to say that I’m particularly secure today. But, at least today, I’m married to a man who truly loves me for who I am and doesn’t expect me to change. He doesn’t care when I say outrageous things. He doesn’t criticize the way I laugh. He doesn’t buy me gym memberships or gift certificates to plastic surgeons. He never looks at me in disgust, the way my parents did on multiple occasions, and complain about my appearance… or get so excited when I put on a dress and makeup that he pulls out the camera to take photos for posterity. My parents probably worried that my lack of attention to trying to be pretty was a poor reflection on them. They probably also worried that I’d never get anywhere in life.

I’m truly confused about my looks. I’ve been told I’m “pretty” by a number of people. Sometimes they even seemed to mean it when they said that. Other times, it seemed more like they pitied me… like the time I was at an ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting, and some guy exclaimed, “You’re so pretty!” and then started gushing about something that was kind of embarrassing at the time (don’t remember the details now, but I do remember how I felt). I think it might have had to do with my working at a restaurant and losing weight because I had no time to eat and was constantly running all day. I suddenly lost about 35 pounds, but I was also constantly sick.

I do believe the guy meant it when he said that; he was a good person who I truly think was trying to help me feel better about myself. I had a pretty low self image at that time, even though I was kind of blossoming then– losing weight, dressing well, getting haircuts, and wearing makeup. But then some time later another man– a different guy– from that meeting took me on a scary ride on the Colonial Parkway and asked me for sex. Maybe it’s safer to be ugly.

This is why I prefer to hang around with dogs. Dogs don’t care what you look like, as long as you feed them and take them for walks. Ditto to horses and donkeys and other farm animals. And you never have to worry about them propositioning you for sex because they think you’re “hawt”. Fortunately, I’m at an age now that even if I got really skinny and “cute”, most people would think I’m too old to “hit that”.

Anyway, my main point is, y’all, if you’re thinking of giving someone an unsolicited “self-improvement” gift, take a moment to consider how that gift will be received. If you truly care about the other person’s feelings and self worth, consider giving them something that doesn’t indicate to them that you think they need improvement. It will save you both a lot of angst. It’s also a much kinder and more considerate thing to do. Now, if they specifically ASK you for Proactiv or something else like that, that’s totally different.

Well, I guess I’ll get on with the day. It’s 10:00 AM, and I’m not dressed yet. But that’s a pretty normal thing for me. Hopefully, I won’t offend anyone by being a dumpy old housewife as I walk Noyzi. 😉