condescending twatbags, mental health, modern problems, musings, sex

Transaction denied!

This morning, as I enjoyed coffee and a chocolate cream cheese muffin with Bill, I read today’s Dear Abby. The first letter was this:

DEAR ABBY: Two months ago, I met a lady I will call Amber. We were instantly attracted to each other. The first date went well, and we reached first base (kissing). On the second date, we reached second base (fondling). On the third date, which was also going well, after I finished paying the check for dinner, I asked her if she wanted to continue where we had left off. Amber said no. I was fine with it.

Later that night, when we spoke over the phone, I pointed out, nicely, that she did not even say thank you for dinner, and Amber got offended. I decided to end things after that phone call. I felt she was being disrespectful of my feelings by not listening to what I was saying.

Fast-forward: Her birthday is in two weeks, and I don’t know if I should bury the hatchet by dropping her a Happy Birthday text that day because I really did overall like her. — BRAND-NEW IN NEW JERSEY

Dear Abby, to her credit, very diplomatically set the letter writer straight. She wrote:

DEAR BRAND-NEW: Amber may have become offended when, after she declined to proceed with further intimacy, you told her she “hadn’t even” thanked you for the dinner. When I read that line, for a moment I wondered if you equated the two and had expected that after buying her dinner you were guaranteed sexual favors in return. The two of you have a significant communication deficit. Contact her again only if you are willing to acknowledge that fact and hope she is willing to work on it with you.

As I read this piece, I was reminded of a post I wrote on the original Overeducated Housewife blog. Actually, I wrote a few articles on this subject– about the idea that if a man takes a woman out for dinner, she owes him sex. Or she owes him ANYTHING, except perhaps money if the date is a “Dutch treat”.

In April 2018, I wrote about a woman named Amanda Burnett, who went out with a guy. He paid for dinner, but Amanda never texted him back afterwards. A few weeks later, Amanda got a letter from this guy, along with an invoice for about $40, because she didn’t respond to his request for another date. In true 21st century fashion, Amanda posted the “bill” online. It proved to be a controversial move. Many people felt Amanda’s date was rude to send her a bill. Others felt that Amanda was the asshole for “ghosting” the guy. Dating is not cheap, and the least she could do is thank him for taking her out and treating her. Except he didn’t really treat her, since he expected her to pay him back for the dinner.

Generally speaking, I agree that ghosting someone is a shitty thing to do. It’s disrespectful, rude, and hurtful to just disappear without a trace. However, Amanda may have had good reasons for ghosting the guy. Maybe he gave her the creeps. Maybe he was too intense for her. Perhaps she detected a bent in him toward being controlling and petty. She may have even been concerned about her safety. I would submit that any guy who is dickish enough to send someone a bill weeks after a date is probably not someone most people would want to spend time with long term. On the other hand, I also understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, and whether or not they want to admit it, a lot of guys do expect something in return for investing in dinner.

What prompts me to write about today’s Dear Abby is, that as I read the letter, it seemed pretty obvious to me why “Amber” got offended by the guy’s chastisement for not saying “thank you”. He clearly was hoping for sex after their date. After all, on their previous two dates, Amber had allowed him to get to “first and second base” (is this guy still in the 70s?). It probably seemed to be a given that Amber would let him get to “third base” on their third date. When she demurred, he thought she owed him gratitude for taking her out to eat. While it would have been good manners for Amber to say “thank you”, there are any number of reasons why it slipped her mind. For him to basically insinuate that Amber is rude for A, not fucking him, and B, not saying “thanks for dinner”, I get the sense that this guy has a very transactional view on relationships. I do something for you. You do something for me. If you disagree, we’re done.

But now he admits that he likes Amber, even though she didn’t want to put out and didn’t say “thank you” for dinner. And he wants to know if he should wish her a “Happy Birthday” via text. Abby wisely told him not to contact her unless he understands why Amber got offended by his chastisement and is willing to acknowledge it. My guess is that he won’t want to do that.

Any man who sends a woman a bill for not agreeing to more dates or, any man who is rude enough to criticize a woman’s manners after he buys her dinner and she doesn’t put out, is likely a major asshole. It’s also likely that Amber and Amanda behaved as they did because these guys offered major clues during their dates that they’re assholes who strongly believe that paying for dinner means they get access to the woman’s company and, eventually, her body.

A $40 dinner is not a fair exchange for a woman’s health or well-being. Sex is a big step for a lot of women. Bill and I did not have sex with each other until two weeks after our wedding. Now… it’s not that I was against having sex before marriage. I would have had sex with Bill if he had wanted to have sex with me. But it turns out we are compatible when it comes to that. When we first met, Bill was a Mormon, and Mormons don’t officially agree with premarital sex. Granted, he quit practicing Mormonism while we were dating, but I was a virgin and he had only been with his ex wife. And we both wanted to wait for marriage. Then, on my wedding day, I had the same problem Ginny from Sixteen Candles had…

Yep. I got my monthly bill on my wedding day. It also rained. Isn’t it ironic?

Fortunately, I didn’t take a muscle relaxant or tranquilizer before I walked down the aisle. In fact, Aunt Flow even had the decency to wait until after the reception. I don’t regret waiting, and I’m grateful that Bill was willing to wait. He was concerned about my comfort and didn’t see our relationship as transactional. He has never acted like he has the right to free access to my body. Eighteen years later, we’re still in love. We probably would be in love anyway, even if we’d had sex before marriage. But I can honestly say Bill is the best lover I’ve ever had. I never had to experience worrying about pregnancy or STIs. I don’t have any bad memories of sex with some jerk who used me, or had the idea that after a certain number of dates, I needed to either fuck him or end the relationship. Waiting until marriage was the right decision for me. Bill loves me for who I am, and not just how I can make him feel when his dick is inside of me.

In any case, I don’t think either Amanda or Amber have anything to be ashamed about. Granted, it’s rude to ghost someone, as Amanda did, but if she was really a gold digging hussy, she would have kept stringing the guy along. He should have been glad she only cost him $40, if he’s that concerned about money.

And Amber might have been shocked that “BRAND-NEW” had requested sex and put her in the position of saying no thank you. I can tell you that I would have been pretty upset if I was on a third date with someone and they expected sex that early. Some women are fine with having sex that early in a relationship, but a lot of us aren’t. It sounds like the guy was rather forward in his request. When he later “nicely” reminded Amber that she hadn’t thanked him for dinner, he was sending a big clue as to what kind of a man he is. And when she got irritated with him for calling her out, then he decided not to call her again, he sent another clue. For all he knows, Amber has a history of sexual abuse or another issue that makes her less sexually adventurous. I’ll bet by the third date, they hadn’t ever talked about that. Which, to me, is the more amazing thing, especially for those of us who grew up in the era of HIV/AIDS. I would certainly want to know my partner’s basic history before I opened myself up to him sexually.

In my April 2018 post about this subject, I wrote:

A lot of guys seem to think that if they pay for dinner, they are entitled to sex or company or whatever else.  The fact is, a $40 dinner is not a fair trade for someone’s health or well-being.  No one owes another person access to their body.  If one party wants more than good times on the town and the other person doesn’t, then it’s probably best to just find another partner.  Paying for a date entitles you to absolutely nothing more than a person’s company, for as long as he or she wants to offer it.  Moreover, I’d love to see that guy actually collect his bill.  I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

I have never “ghosted” anyone, but it has happened to me before.  I was in college when I had a “date” with a guy who didn’t spend a dime on me and got disgusted when I wouldn’t put out, hours after I met him.  After that, he wouldn’t even speak to me.  In retrospect, it was really no big loss.  But no… I’ve never ghosted anyone and generally speaking, wouldn’t… unless I had a very good reason.  

I wouldn’t mind singing this song about ghosting, though…

In that same post, I continued with a story about a guy I used to know who has probably been ghosted a few times and scared the fuck out of me…

Back in the fall of 1999, right after I began graduate school, I ran into a guy I used to know from ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) meetings.  He and his ex girlfriend had a baby and he wanted to know if I wanted to see the little girl.  Although I had plans for later in the evening, I agreed.  Stupidly, I rode in his truck with him.  After we visited his adorable little girl, we got back in his truck and he proceeded to drive to the Colonial Parkway, which is, if you’re familiar with the Tidewater area of Virginia, a well-known pretty drive that has also been the site of several notorious unsolved murders.  

I told the guy that I had plans to meet a friend– and I did.  I was meeting a male friend from college for dinner.  The truck driving creep wanted me to “blow off” my friend because, apparently, he found me alluring that evening and wanted to “hold me”.  I had to insist that he take me back to my car because my friend would be waiting, and I told him he would call the police.  My friend probably wouldn’t have called the police, but the dude driving the truck didn’t know that.  

The whole way back to my car, my body was numb with fear as he lectured me about how wrong it is that I “let other people dictate what I do” (and apparently not realizing that he was trying to dictate to me how I should spend my evening).  We got back to my car.  I heaved a sigh of relief and got out of his truck, about to crap my pants because all of my fight or flight impulses were firing off at full steam.  Yes, had that been a date, I absolutely would have ghosted him.  In fact, some months after that incident, I ran into that guy again.  He acted like nothing had happened while I fought to control the nauseating sense of fear I had, seeing him again.  I feel sorry for his ex girlfriend, who presumably had to share their daughter with him.  She’s a grown woman now.  I wonder how she feels about her creepy dad.

Amanda might have had a good reason for “ghosting” the guy who billed her. Maybe he gave her the creeps. However, I think it’s more likely that he wasn’t scary. If he was, she wouldn’t have posted his bill on the Internet. She probably just found him boring and stingy. Ghosting him was rude, but since he sent her a bill, my guess is that she probably found him offensive on the actual date. Amber’s date sounds like he might have been too pushy. Any guy who refers to steps in intimacy in baseball terms, especially in 2021, is probably a jackass. I don’t think I would have wanted to fuck him. Of course, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to fuck me, either. 😉

So… I do understand why some men think women are rude for ghosting them, not thanking them, or not having sex with them. But I also think that women should always remember that there’s “no obligation to buy”. A $40 dinner is not a fair trade for one’s health or well-being. And we have to protect ourselves from diseases, pregnancy, and the mental anguish from being intimate with assholes, literally and figuratively. Decent men, who were brought up properly, understand this. Frankly, I think that if all you want is sex, you should simply hire a professional and pay her for the experience. That way, you don’t have to shell out for dinner and there won’t be any crying jags. Unless, of course, you pay extra.

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of Andrew McCarthy and Anna Maria Horsford, who played a black prostitute named Naomi in the film St. Elmo’s Fire. When Andrew’s character, Kevin, asks Naomi why she never tries to sell her wares to him, she says, “I thought you were gay.” Then she goes on to explain why a prostitute is a better deal for a man who just wants sex.

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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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love

48… has started out great!

Here’s a quick post to let everyone know I survived my weekend “away”. Bill took me to a hotel in Hofheim, which is about twenty minutes from where we live. This particular hotel is attached to a “therme”, which is basically a big pool park/spa. The therme re-opened a couple of weeks ago and is offering a scaled down experience. No steam rooms, massages, or infusions are offered right now, which was okay with me. I like massages, but I can enjoy the water park without them.

I’m going to write up the actual trip on my travel blog, but I wanted to update this one with some positivity. It was great to get out of the house and look around. Being in Germany really put things in perspective. I think my negative mood is mostly caused by social media and reading stuff by Americans who are in America. Germany is not like America right now. The mask thing is not such a big deal. Yes, people are wearing them or face shields, but since the COVID-19 numbers are well-controlled right now, people are fairly relaxed. So now, I’m feeling a lot less stressed out and depressed than I was a couple of days ago. I really needed to get out of the house and see the world, even if it was just for a few hours.

We only went twenty minutes from our house, but I feel refreshed and relaxed, and so grateful for my husband, who took the time to show me a wonderful time on my birthday. I think one of the highlights yesterday was going down a waterslide… something I have not done since the early 90s… or possibly even earlier than that. I used to love waterslides, but somehow I lost my nerve along the way. I will admit that yesterday’s slide was a bit terrifying… but it was also quite a thrill. I need more thrills in my life, I think. Maybe the waterslide is like a metaphor for life in these scary pandemic times.

So… while I’ll continue to look at my homeland with sadness and fear, I’m also so grateful that at least for the time being, I can be in a place where people are sensible, kind, and considerate.

Not so bad…

And… special thanks to my friend, Andrew, who introduced me to the awesomeness that is Aubrey Logan. I really relate to this song especially… Listen and smile!

The lyrics to this song are pretty amazing.
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musings

What I got for Christmas this year…

When I was a kid, my former best friend and I had a Christmas ritual. I’d call her, or she’d call me, and we’d talk about what we got for Christmas. In those days, Christmas was all about the presents. I remember getting a lot of toys that were exciting and fun, although she usually got more stuff than I did. She had a computer and usually got a lot of cool games to play. On the other hand, I had a horse and she didn’t.

As we got older, the phone calls were less frequent and less animated. We grew apart and eventually had a “silent” falling out. Christmas had become less exciting to me for a lot of reasons, most of which involved family drama and abusive behavior. Add in the fact that I was broke, and really couldn’t afford Christmas, and the prospect of the holiday season brought on true depression for many years. I hated the stress of it and the tears that would usually come after a family visit. There were always high expectations and they were never met. I’d spend the weeks after Christmas recovering from whatever drama was unearthed.

It took a long time before I started to enjoy the holidays again. Since we swore off drama at Christmas, Bill and I have become more fond of the festive holiday season, even as we welcome things getting back to normal in January. We usually stay home and have a low key holiday, with me in my nightgown and Bill cooking a nicer than usual meal. We’d open presents, listen to music, drink wine, and enjoy each other’s company. Low key, low stress, zero drama, and almost no excitement.

This year, I didn’t get “much” for Christmas, in terms of what was under the tree. Bill didn’t have time to shop and has a hard time choosing gifts for me, anyway. He did buy me a lovely soft wool wrap at a Christmas market in Weiden, which is in Bavaria. I used it last night, since it was a bit chilly in the house. I think it’ll get a lot of use in the house rather than out and about. It’s just big enough to cover my shoulders and arms, and it’s super warm. Bonus points that it’s navy and grey, which are favorite colors of mine!

Bill also got me a Homepod, so I can stream my huge music collection from my computer. I have a Bose Sound Dock that basically sounds great, but doesn’t easily stream anything from Apple. Instead, I had to stream from Amazon, and since I usually buy albums rather than “renting” them, this was a problem. I’d end up buying my favorite albums twice. I’m sure I could have figured out a way to stream on the Bose, but it involved a lot of hassle and/or using my iPod, which is also pretty much obsolete now. I use mostly Apple products now, so it just made sense to get the Homepod, which works with both Apple and Amazon, but presents its own logistical hassles, as I discovered last night. I’m sure I’ll figure out workarounds, though.

My mother-in-law sent fun, colorful socks to Bill and me. Socks are a good thing, since I wear them all the time when it’s cold. I sent her Keb’ Mo’ albums, since we are considering seeing him play when she visits later this month. After our latest trip, we may decide to skip another trip so soon… maybe we’ll focus on finding a new furry friend instead. Now that the holidays are about over, it’s time to think about giving a home to a dog that needs one, if we can find someone willing to let us adopt.

I got Bill things for the house. A few of the gifts– the first ones I ordered, actually– haven’t even arrived yet because they came through APO (our U.S. government run postal system). What was under the tree for Bill included a new waffle iron (since we have a 110 volt one in storage), a new coffee grinder, because the old one is wearing out, bellows for the fireplace, yet another book about cocktails, and storage containers for leftovers. The stuff that is probably sitting in the post office includes a new shirt, gloves for carrying firewood, and a canvas fire log tote.

So… it was a fairly lean Christmas in terms of tangible gift giving… and yet, it was probably one of the best Christmases of my life. This year, we were invited to France by my dear friend Audra, and her husband, Cyril. Audra and I grew up in Gloucester, Virginia. When we were growing up, Gloucester was a very rural, very small town. It’s grown a lot over the years. In fact, in the mid 80s, it was the fastest growing county in Virginia. We’ve both seen it change, and we’ve both found our ways out of Gloucester. Many of our contemporaries still live in Gloucester and have raised their own families there. Audra and I have both wound up in Europe long term. Audra will probably stay in France for many years– maybe even the rest of her life. I’ll probably stay in Germany for as long as I’m allowed to… European life mostly agrees with me, although it takes me away from friends, family, and being at “home”.

Audra and I spent the time bonding over this whole European/American lifestyle thing… and we have a tremendous number of things in common. We went to the same high school, the same college, are both Air Force brats, and have had some similar life experiences. The older I get, the more I realize how rare and valuable true friends are, and I think that we have them in Audra and Cyril, who so kindly opened their home to Bill, Arran, and me over the holidays and gifted us with local beer.

We talked about so many things, shared so many memories, and enjoyed so much good food and wine with Audra’s French family. It was overwhelming to us on so many levels, since neither Bill nor I had ever experienced Christmas in France before. One common thread, though, was the love of family, which we were allowed to share with Cyril’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, grandmother, and an adorable dachshund named Merlin. I don’t speak French, and yet I felt like I really felt at home with Cyril’s family, who were very loving, accepting, generous, and kind. And they were also so patient with Arran, who can quite literally be a little stinker sometimes… just ask Audra’s cats!

We also received spectacular French hospitality in Beaune. Yes, it partially involved us being crime victims, but the locals there were so kind and welcoming to us. We are especially indebted to the owners at Au Miracle du Pain Doré (The Miracle of French Toast), who even gifted us with a free night in their gite. We were blown away by their generosity and kindness. And since I am the type who likes to pay it forward, I’m spreading the word as much as I can about their gite!

It was a true gift to get to see two very different French cities, too. Nimes is nothing like Beaune in terms of weather, architecture, or local color. Nimes has a large population of people from North Africa, which gives it a real Mediterranean flair. Beaune is in Burgundy, which really isn’t like Germany, but is probably more like Germany than Nimes is. Nimes has almost a Spanish flavor. We could have driven to Barcelona in the same time it took us to get to Beaune. It was amazing to get a change of scenery and a reminder why we love living in Europe so much.

It was even more amazing to have loving friends and family to celebrate with– especially since there wasn’t a single awkward, traumatic, or shitty moment. We were all free to be ourselves and, in fact, we never ran out of things to talk about! And no one was critical, mean-spirited, rude, or attention whoring (Audra knows of what I write). It was just a lot of fun! Bill and I will always be grateful to Audra and Cyril and their family for the wonderful gift they gave us in welcoming us to their home in 2019! We’ll never forget it!

Every year, I try to remind myself about what Christmas is supposed to be about. It’s always fun to get new stuff, but it’s so easy to get “stuff” year round. And we really have too much stuff– as I learn every time we have to move. What’s more important and ultimately more valuable are loving relationships with friends and family… having life changing experiences… seeing beautiful sights and hearing glorious music and eating good food. It’s already a gift to have enough, and we certainly do. We’re very, very fortunate to have all we do, but we are especially blessed to have each other. And even if all we had was just each other at Christmas, in the grand scheme of things, that would surely be enough to make it magnificent!

I know I’m cranky, irritable, and sometimes downright bitchy… people probably read my blog and come away with the idea that I’m a total curmudgeon. I know some people believe I’m clueless and “privileged” (trust me, I’m not as shallow as I might seem). Underneath my crabby exterior is someone with a big heart, and I definitely gave part of it to France over the past ten days.

I hope all my readers had a great Christmas and will enjoy a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

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