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. 😉 Or at least a hickey…

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holidays

De-Christmasifying…

I started to write a post yesterday, but trashed it when I realized how depressing it was. After I did that, I couldn’t think of anything else to write about that wasn’t a downer. I decided to work on my puzzle instead.

This morning, we took down all the Christmas crap. Every year, I am less and less enthusiastic about decorating the house because it requires putting things up and taking them down; then cleaning up the residual mess. But I think I would be sad if I didn’t decorate the house. I like to look at Christmas lights and I enjoy the coziness of the way they make the house feel, especially here in Germany. So I dutifully put up the trees, hang the stockings my mom knitted for us, and scatter other holiday decorations around the living room. Then, in early January, I take it all down again, discarding the inevitably broken ornaments that result each year. I have a ton of ornaments my mom gave me– some of which were around before I was even born and don’t even make it to the tree anymore.

I was thinking about some of the ornaments that mean something to me, though. I have some that were given to me by people I haven’t seen in thirty years. I have some I made when I was in elementary school. One from first grade (a burgundy fire glazed church); one from second ( a Christmas tree made of salt dough that I colored with magic marker); one from fifth grade (a painted rocking horse that looks shitty because I couldn’t decide what color I wanted and finally went with white); and one from sixth grade, (a misshapen sled made of popsicle sticks and spray painted gold).

Art was not my strong suit when I was in school. I was good at drawing things, but could never stay in the lines. I had terrible handwriting then and now, actually. I liked art, but could never settle on a concept. So I’d end up with ugly white rocking horses with too many colors used for the saddle, rocker, and saddle pad, which I’d painted on myself, since all saddles need pads under them, as far as I’m concerned. I’d had a vision in my head, but changed my concept when it was too late.

The ornament that really gets me, though, is the church. I went to a public school in Fairfax, Virginia for first and second grades. In 1978, people didn’t care if the teacher presented churches to children as Christmas ornaments. I want to say we had a choice of which one we wanted. I never liked church as a kid, but I must have thought the church ornament was the coolest looking one. I could also tell that the teacher did the heavy lifting in the making of that ornament, since it still looks really nice in 2020. Like I said… I wasn’t one to stay in the lines when I colored. I’m sure that today, kids in public schools aren’t offered religious subjects for their Christmas art projects. Actually, I’d be surprised if they do any kind of Christmas themed stuff anymore, but I really have no idea. Things have changed so much over the past few decades.

Then there were ornaments on the tree we bought when we lived near Neiman Marcus. My sister gave us a $100 Neiman Marcus gift card as a wedding present. $100 doesn’t buy much at that store, so we decided to use it to buy Christmas ornaments. For the first twelve Christmases we spent together, we hung those ridiculously pricey ornaments on a fake tree we bought at Rose’s Discount Store for $50. I hated that tree, because it had poorly color coded branches and it took forever to put it together. We finally bought a new tree in 2013, because I was tired of dealing with the old one. I remember before we left Texas, we put the tree out with other stuff to be picked up by the city. Trash pickers removed all of the valuable scrap metal, then some Jehovah’s Witnesses came by to take some of the rest of it. Naturally, they left the tree. No one else wanted it, either.

We have a small tree we bought the first time we lived in Germany because we forgot to pack our Christmas stuff. I haven’t had the heart to throw it out yet, although I think when it’s time to go back to America, we’ll be leaving it here. Every year, it loses more “pine needles” and makes a mess. I also look forward to doing away with the horrible German lights we have. For some reason, the light strands have about twenty feet of wire before the string starts. They have very heavy duty, plastic, bulky plugs, too, which take up a lot of room on the power strip. I threw out a perfectly good light strand today, because it was hopelessly tangled and would have taken forever to straighten out. We’ll just get a new strand next year, if we’re still living in Europe.

After we finished taking down all the Christmas stuff, we put clean sheets on the bed, and I vacuumed the living room. Then I cleaned the toilet and took a shower. For a filthy person who lives “like a pig”, I sure do a lot of housework. That’s another issue that I hope will be resolved in 2020…

Mother-in-law is coming next week. We’ll have more housekeeping to do before she arrives and becomes our first houseguest at this address. I’m eager to hear what she thinks of our vastly upgraded digs. Bill also has to order new tires for the Volvo, since the ones we paid 470 euros for last week are snow tires… and somehow, we have to get our “Real IDs” to prove we’re Americans… not that I’m proud of it, lately. I hate this time of year, but at least we have a lot to focus on this year.

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holidays

Christmas adventures in France…

Merry Christmas, everyone. Here’s another quick post for Christmas Day. I don’t have a lot to write about today. I suppose I could come up with something from the news, but I like to keep things light on major holidays like Christmas.

I’m in Nimes, France right now, visiting my friend from high school and college. We became close in recent years because we have a lot in common, and because we grew up in the same area and know many of the same people. She’s been in France for years and has children and family here, since she married a local.

It’s really been nice to be welcomed into Audra’s home and treated to a French style Christmas. In fact, this may be the best Christmas I’ve had in many years. Bill and I usually have very low key holidays, bordering on the boring. This year, we’ve had the gift of being able to make new friends and enjoy the old… and Audra and her husband are especially great to be with, because they don’t mind my unconventional sense of humor. They’re great for other reasons, too.

We will open our presents on Sunday, when we get back to Germany. We don’t have many to open, mainly because of this trip to France. It’s been nice to get out of Germany for a few days, and I look forward to writing the story of our travels, as I always do…

I hope those of you who celebrate the holidays are enjoying yourselves. And I hope those of you who are feeling depressed or lonely find some way to make the holiday season less painful. It’s hard to believe 2019 is just about over. The year flew by. A lot has happened, and I expect more will happen in 2020… the year of perfect vision.

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