Bill, musings

One night down…

I can’t think of anything earth shattering to write about this morning. I guess the one thing I can say is that I survived the first night of the first TDY in a year. This isn’t anything new for me. Over the past 18 years, I’ve spent a lot of nights alone. Bill has always had to travel for his job. This particular TDY is longer than most, though. He wont’ be back home until March is more than halfway done.

I think we’re both getting tired of these kinds of trips. I was very fortunate as an Army wife, though, since Bill’s one deployment was for just six months. Granted, he spent those six months with a narcissistic jerk of a boss who made his life a living hell, but he made it home in one piece and, more or less, mentally sound. Having grown up with a father who was tormented by PTSD after the Vietnam War, I am very grateful Bill isn’t similarly afflicted.

I probably wouldn’t be so bitchy about it this year if we hadn’t spent the last several months locked down. In previous years, we’ve been able to go on vacations or even just out to eat. Or we could plan something for the future. The current lockdown is set to expire on March 7, but Angela Merkel is talking about extending it even longer. People are getting PISSED, too. Businesses are suffering, and some are wondering how they will be able to keep afloat. Germans are generally very law abiding and cooperative, but even they have their limits.

Bill was allowed to travel because he’s on business. No doubt, the people who run the little hotel where he’s staying are happy for three weeks of revenue. However, Bill did tell me that last night, he had to wait for the proprietor to arrive and unlock the hotel. When Bill put on a mask, the guy shook his said it was “okay” because he’s already had COVID-19. Um… I’m not so sure that means he’s not still at risk. I did have a chuckle, though, since it just goes to show that even the notoriously anal retentive law abiders of Deutschland will still bend the rules sometimes.

Vaccine roll out has been extremely slow here, too. This is a rare time when I’m kind of glad to be American, because Bill and I will probably be able to get vaccinated sooner on post than we could on the economy. Bill has already told me he will be dragging me by the hair to get my shot… not that I would refuse it. One positive thing I got from being in the Peace Corps is that I don’t get too upset by needles, as long as no one tries to dig for a vein. I’m usually fine with shots.

Last night, I watched a live stream of Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett. I’m a big fan of both of these guys. I saw Vince play with the Eagles in 2019, and Lyle played Stuttgart in 2009 and we attended that show. It was a great show. Both Lyle and Vince were so normal and it was obvious to me that they’ve been friends a long time. I enjoyed the stories they shared and the songs, some of which were ones I hadn’t heard. Vince did one song that was a tribute to John Prine. I loved it. I don’t think he’s released it yet, but it was very witty and kind of poignant… the perfect tribute, really. John Prine was such a gifted songwriter.

I don’t play with quite this much style yet, but I’m getting better by the week.

What was especially cool, though, was the effect watching had on me. At the end of the streaming session, they played “If I Needed You” by Townes Van Zandt. Next thing I knew, I grabbed my guitar and joined them. I went to Chordify, figured out the easiest way to play (using a capo on the 6th or 8th frets), and played along. I did well enough that I might be ready to record it sometime soon. Maybe that will be my goal before Bill comes home next month. That, and finishing reading my latest book. It’s time for a fresh review.

Bill was sad to leave yesterday. I think Arran knew he was going. I got a few photos of them before Bill had to go. Yes, there were tears. Bill made me lunch before he went and had a few tears in his eyes before he kissed me goodbye. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a kind and loving man for my husband and life partner. But you can see why I really miss him when he’s not here. He’s the best. Arran sure loves him. Noyzi is slowly coming around.

I did tell Bill I hope he’ll do what he can to bolster his cybersecurity skills. He earned a second master’s degree in cybersecurity a few years ago, but he hasn’t had a chance to put it to use. It’s a hot field, and perhaps working in cybersecurity might help curb the lengthy separations that exercise planning requires. Granted, he’s in a niche field now, and has good job security, but there’s more to life than money. After 18 years of this, I think we’re both a bit tired.

Edited to add… I was inspired to make a video.

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complaints, Duggars, language

Stinkin’ heck!

Bill has to leave in a few days to work distantly for three weeks. Meanwhile, I’m a bit worried about Arran, who doesn’t seem like himself. This is the third year Bill has had an extended TDY at this time of year. It seems like every year, something causes angst. A couple of years ago, Arran had worms that were causing some similar symptoms that he’s experiencing now– gas, intermittent vomiting, and lethargy. He recently has had a mast cell tumor removed and sometimes they can cause stomach upset. Of course, he might also have worms. So, on top of everything else that has to be done before Bill leaves on Saturday, we have to get him to the vet for a checkup.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to watch Growing Pains and I am convinced that at least one of the writers had a prejudice against overweight people. Not only were there many fat jokes directed at Tracey Gold’s character, Carol Seaver, but there were also a lot of fat jokes in general. For instance, yesterday, I was watching an episode in which Alan Thicke’s character was giving therapy to a guy whose wife had decided to go back to work and that was upsetting to him. He asks the guy what had changed in five years and the patient says, “She got fat.” Then, later in the episode, he says something about how she “waddled” home from work.

Another thing I noticed is that post Kirk Cameron’s conversion to Christianity (alliteration extraordinaire!), the word “hell” was used very seldom. Instead, they all say “heck”. I could probably turn it into a drinking game. “What the heck is this?” “What the heck is going on here!” “Heck no!” And all of the characters speak like this. They also all say “stinkin'” a lot. Indeed, there is a minor character named “Stinky Sullivan” who apparently farts a lot or wears dirty underwear. In real life, people wouldn’t all speak the same way like that, which makes me think the writers were getting a bit lazy. I mean, I could see someone say “stinkin'” as a habit, but an entire cast? One person must have been doing all of the writing or editing, or something.

And finally, Growing Pains was obviously ABC’s answer to NBC’s Family Ties. And Kirk Cameron was supposed to be their answer to Michael J. Fox, who gets mentioned a time or two on the show. However, instead of making Kirk’s character smart, like Fox’s Alex P. Keaton was, they make him a poor student. And instead of making Carol Seaver “dumb” like Justine Bateman’s “Mallory” was, they make her super smart. Ben, like Jennifer Keaton, is kind of lovable and offbeat. And then they had the bonus change of life baby, only on Family Ties, it was partly because Meredith Baxter was pregnant in real life. She had a boy, and Joanna Kerns’ character, Maggie Seaver, had a girl.

I realize I’m expending a lot of mental power on an 80s era sitcom. Growing Pains was a show I thought I didn’t like that much. I remember losing interest in it before it ended in 1992. I think I do prefer Family Ties for a lot of reasons. But it has been interesting to watch the show again. It’s better written than I remembered it, but not as well-written as Family Ties is. And all the misogynistic jokes about looks and weight are kind of disturbing, especially given that Tracey Gold did end up with a pretty serious eating disorder.

As is my habit, I’ll watch the rest of the episodes and move on to my next binge watching marathon. Hopefully, that will help while away the time I’ll be alone, worrying about Arran. He is about twelve now, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that he’s sick with something scary. On the other hand, he’s not been totally debilitated. He’s still eating, playing, sleeping, and taking walks, for instance. But his behavior is still a bit odd.

I’m pretty irritated that Bill has to go TDY, especially since Germany is supposedly in another wave of COVID-19. I will be completely alone, except for the dogs. In another era, I wouldn’t have minded so much, but the older I get, the more this kind of stuff bothers me. And I have to admit, I’m worried that Arran is not well.

And finally… I wrote yesterday about how Kendra Duggar was still pregnant. Well, it turns out she had her baby girl on February 19, 2021. The new baby is named Brooklyn Praise. I guess we should be glad she didn’t name her Saint or Psalm. However, when I think of the name “Praise”, it makes me think of this…

Yikes… it does look like fun!

The Duggars now have 20 grandchildren and half the kids aren’t married yet. That is one hell of a quiverfull of Republican fundies they’ve got there.

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complaints, dogs, social media

People love to dump on a good story.

Last night, as we were about to tuck into take out Thai food, Bill noticed he got a call from the vet. He also got an email. I was immediately thinking the worst, since I figured no news is good news when it comes to medical or veterinary stuff. But no… it turns out the vet who did Arran’s surgery on Monday was contacting us to let us know that the mast cell tumor she removed was low grade (a two, but a low two) and had excellent margins. She also wrote that she would call us today.

Naturally, we were glad to know this. I’m not surprised it was a low grade tumor. Arran had one in 2015 on his head that was graded 1.5, which meant it had very well differentiated cells. A 2 is not as good as a 1.5, but the grading system is kind of subjective anyway, since it involves individual pathologist’s opinions. Arran’s tumor was in the skin and we got him in to the vet the day after I discovered it. So I would have been surprised if it was deemed high grade.

Nevertheless, I was marveling that the vet called us on a Friday night AND sent an email. When we lived near Stuttgart, both of our dogs, Arran and the late Zane, had mast cell tumors. I remember getting the news for both of them at the next appointment. The one time that didn’t happen, Bill had to call for the results. I liked our vets down there, but they were a lot more conservative and not quite as high tech as the ones up here are.

So… feeling kind of happy about this news and wanting to share our good experience, I went off to the Pets of Wiesbaden group. I know a lot of people in there are looking for vets. Many of them are military folks who are finding out that the vet on post isn’t the best option for anything but the most basic of care. Really, it’s best to have a local vet, even though it may mean dealing with language issues.

I posted about Arran’s good news and that we’re happy with our vet, who happens to have a great reputation anyway. Then, along comes some lady who wants to write about how great Tierklinik Hofheim is. I inwardly groaned, because this happens all the time. Someone posts about something with a specific idea in mind. Someone else comes along and craps on it. I fought the urge to post a bitchy response. Instead, I wrote that I know Tierklinik Hofheim is excellent, but I wouldn’t want to trouble them for a mast cell tumor removal, which is a pretty run of the mill procedure.

Tierklinik Hofheim is a very highly regarded veterinary specialty clinic in Germany. In fact, when we lived near Stuttgart, our vet down there even recommended them over the more advanced facilities in Stuttgart. Tierklinik Hofheim is a good three hour drive from where we lived at the time, but if it came down to it and I needed state of the art experts, I would go there. In fact, now that we only live twenty minutes away from it, we have used Tierklinik Hofheim for emergencies. Arran hasn’t been there yet, but Zane went a few times before he died. They really are outstanding, but they had nothing to do with my original post. I wanted to post about my happiness with our vet. If someone asked for a specialty vet or an emergency vet, then yes, I would absolutely want to post about Tierklinik Hofheim.

This is a pretty common phenomenon, I guess. We all like to chime in on things, and sometimes in the course of doing that, we lead things astray. Sometimes, we take things in an unappreciated direction. I remember one time, a woman got upset with me for pointing out that men can be victims of domestic violence. She wanted to paint the narrative that domestic violence is strictly a women’s issue. While I don’t think I was wrong to point that out, she was upset that I was kind of changing the subject she had introduced. I remember she gave me a ration of shit over it. Now that I think about it, maybe she was right… although as someone whose husband was a victim of domestic violence, I kind of bristle when someone tries to paint women as the only victims.

The musician Janis Ian recently posted an article about “conversational narcissism“. I just recently started following her again after unfollowing her for awhile. She had written about the Holocaust and a bunch of people were engaging in “whataboutism”. Like, they brought up slavery in the United States, or other cases of genocide. Janis rightfully got annoyed about it and dished out some shame.

I have to admit, Janis has a point. People can become thoughtless and self-centered when it comes to social media. We’re probably all guilty of it sometimes.

I’ve found myself changing the way I post… most of the time, anyway. For one thing, I make a conscious effort to try not to post anything but positive stuff on other people’s pages. It’s just not worth it to me to post my real thoughts about some subjects and get into drama with people. Most people aren’t interested in having a real discussion. They just want to post their opinions and aren’t interested in being challenged or arguing about them. Since I have pretty strong opinions, I try to only share them on my space. That way, if people get upset, it’s their own fault. Most people who know me, know I don’t mince words very often. In fact, just the other day, I noticed in my memories that four former friends had posted…. they are former friends because they got offended and blocked me. Three were Trumpers who were upset because I compared him to Hitler, and one was a lesbian who was upset because I expressed appreciation for Mike Pence. At least three of them were on my page when they got offended. Go figure.

For another thing, I try to stop myself from going off topic when someone posts. Like, for instance, this morning I read a post from a woman who rescues dogs from countries like Romania, Cyprus, and the like. There are very serious stray dog problems down there, and the dogs don’t get the best care before they get rescued. Basically, the woman’s post was about how some dogs end up with fleas or parasites that don’t get properly treated before they come to Germany to their new homes.

I was about to post about how our new dog, Noyzi, came from Kosovo and is completely healthy. But I stopped myself and realized it wasn’t a relevant point. She was writing to those who adopt from her. Noyzi didn’t come from her rescue, so my comment that he was healthy when we got him is irrelevant. And, by the way, he’s damned lucky to be so healthy. Kosovo has the same kinds of issues Romania, Cyprus, and other stray heavy areas have. Even the lady who brought him to us advised us to have him tested for diseases like heartworm infestation, leishmaniasis, and hepatitis. Noyzi lived in a big pen with lots of other dogs. He got basic vet care, but the care down there doesn’t compare to what’s available up here.

After reading about the plight of rescue dogs in Romania, I moved on to the Washington Post, where I read what many considered to be a “cute” story about a woman whose obese cat was stolen, along with her rental car, and returned with the help of a self-proclaimed pet psychic. I was kind of amused by the story. Back in the early 00s, I used to watch Sonya Fitzpatrick’s show, The Pet Psychic, on Animal Planet. I even read her book. I don’t know how much I believe in pet psychics. I suppose it’s possible one can communicate with animals in such a way… but like a lot of people, I’m a little skeptical. Or maybe I’m just cynical.

Anyway, I could tell the story was meant to be “feel good”. Many people were reacting to it in such a way. I had a little trouble not shaking my head when I read that the woman’s car was stolen while the cat was in it because she’d left the motor running while she went to take a quick pee. She thought she’d locked the door, but hadn’t. So naturally, some shithead came along and stole the car, along with the cat and all of the woman’s belongings. But I didn’t leave a comment, because clearly other people did. No need to crap on the story myself.

Then I looked at the comments, and there were all sorts left that were not really the point of the story. Like, for instance, one person was upset about the cat’s weight… a hefty 19 pounds, because she eats fresh fish every day instead of dry food. Others wanted to add their two cents about traveling during a pandemic. Incidentally, I also noticed in the story, the reporter was so careful to mention the COVID-19 precautions that were taken for the trip. Why is this? Because you just KNOW that if she hadn’t mentioned face masks and COVID-19 tests, people would be bringing that shit up in the comment section. So few people can’t simply read something and not make it about virtue signaling, shaming, or showing everyone else how smart, considerate, or how “above you” they are.

I was kind of tickled to see that the pet psychic in this case, name of Nancy Mello, was actively commenting. She even left her contact information. I’ve got no quarrel with that. Maybe she really can speak “cat” fluently. And if she helped get the cat home, that’s all that really matters, anyway. I’m glad the story had a happy ending. Hopefully, the lady learned her lesson about leaving a car running, especially when your furry friend is in there. But I sure don’t need to say that, since so many other people are saying it. It was a fun read, anyway, and that’s what matters.

I guess my main point is, nine times out of ten, it’s best to start your own thread if you have something to say that isn’t on topic. Having said that, I admit it’s something I work on every day. Sometimes I fail. My other point is, it’s probably best to keep criticism and negativity off other people’s pages. I think of my Internet spaces as my homes. I wouldn’t go to someone else’s house and be rude. At least I wouldn’t do that intentionally… and at least I wouldn’t do that today, now that I’ve kind of left the id somewhat. I might have done it when I was younger… like, when I was 46.

Anyway… I’m glad Arran’s tumor wasn’t so bad. He still has a huge gash on his leg where the tumor was removed. The vet up here was a lot more aggressive than the one in Stuttgart was. That’s basically the way mast cell tumors are supposed to be dealt with. Unfortunately, if they don’t get removed completely, they can recur with a vengeance. Hopefully, he won’t have any more of them. And I’ll try not to be annoyed by those who want to pimp their vets on threads I start about pimping mine.

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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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dogs, lessons learned, love

Hugo and Viva put things in perspective…

This post also appears on my travel blog.

I was really struggling for something to write about today. I wanted to write something nice… something non-depressing. I wanted to write something different than my usual stuff. As I was enjoying lunch with Bill, I happened across a new video posted about a disabled dog I’ve been following on Facebook. His name is Hugo, and he has a Facebook page all of his own.

I first became aware of Hugo when my German friend, Susanne, shared his story with me. Hugo was born in Romania, where there is a big problem with stray dogs. Someone very cruel wanted Hugo dead, and decided he should die in an incredibly inhumane way. This person took Hugo to a pile of snow, tied up his legs with wire, and left him there to suffer as he waited to die in agony. No one knows how long he was left like that. Although the dog did manage to free himself, unfortunately, when he was found, all four of his feet were necrotic. The vets in Romania could see that Hugo was a fighter, so they decided not to euthanize him. But all four of his paws had to be amputated, leaving him with stumps that didn’t want to heal too easily.

Hugo’s story… in German.

For six months, Hugo was unable to stand up, and he lost a lot of muscle. He was eventually adopted by a German woman who lives in Baden-Württemberg. Unfortunately, the stumps were miserable for Hugo. His new “mom” tried everything she could think of to help him. One day, she asked for ideas about how to cover his stumps on Facebook. A local shoemaker named Daniel came to the rescue and made custom shoes for Hugo. The shoes made all the difference. Hugo can now walk and run, although the shoes have to be repaired occasionally. Daniel did this work for free– unless you count the chocolate he was given by Hugo’s grateful family, who make it a habit to adopt special needs dogs.

On December 12, Hugo’s family visited the Tierheim (animal shelter) in Heilbronn, where they found a little dog named Viva who has no hind legs and gets around using a “wheelchair”. Hugo came along for the ride so he could meet Viva. Apparently Hugo liked Viva just fine and was happy to have a new “sister”. Viva became part of Hugo’s family, along with an existing blind dog named Bertl. Another dog, still in Romania, will soon be joining these three. And how are Hugo and Viva getting along? See for yourself! Bertl is also in the video, but plays a supporting role.

When I saw the video I linked above, my heart just melted. These two dogs don’t seem to realize that they’re in any way “handicapped”. They’re happy as they can be to be able to play together in a loving home. And they’re able to play pretty much as if they were both completely normal dogs.

Maybe I should think about Hugo and his friends next time I’m feeling depressed and incompetent. A lot of people would have euthanized Hugo when they saw how badly injured he was when he was found in Romania. But he was given a chance and he’s risen to the occasion. The same goes for little Viva, who is certainly living up to her name. Both of these dogs have indomitable spirits, and they have been able to thrive thanks to the loving care of good people who were willing to find a way to surmount what must have seemed like insurmountable problems.

There are some really terrible people in the world. People who have no qualms about screwing over their neighbors to get what they want. People who would resort to violence and threats to get their way. People who are abusive and mean, who lie, cheat, and steal, or commit violent acts against innocents.

But there are also people who would help dogs like Viva and Hugo, and do whatever it takes to give them a good and loving home with an excellent quality of life. And there are kind people like Daniel who want to help, and create special shoes that not only helped Hugo, but also provide a precedent for another animal who might be in the same predicament. My heart is so full after watching these two beautiful animals play together, so happy and carefree, and really wishing for nothing more than what they already have. We could all learn a lot from them.

Incidentally, our own rescue dogs are doing great, too. Noyzi, our pooch from Kosovo, is getting more and more acclimated by the day. This morning, I let him out to pee and he got a sudden burst of crazy dog and went tearing around the garden at top speed. You’d have to see him in person to understand what that looks like. Noyzi is a big boy, so he can cross our backyard in just a few strides. But he’s quick and agile and can turn on a dime. He was especially animated this morning, and kept dive bombing Bill’s empty garden plot, which is still full of soil. When he was finished getting the tickles out of his feet, he came back inside and relaxed, very contented and happy.

Noyzi has discovered people food. He’s a fan.

I have never once regretted adopting any of the dogs we’ve had. Noyzi has been especially rewarding to get to know. He’s come so far in just under three months. He’s still afraid of Bill, but every day, he’s a little bit less so. It’s obvious that he loves having a family and a nice warm bed of his own. It’s an honor to be able to provide that for him.

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