What do you suppose this means?

I’m not going to write about the impeachment acquittal right now. It’s Valentine’s Day and Sunday and I’m just not in the mood. I’m not the least bit surprised by the outcome… and yes, I am disgusted, but I don’t want to dwell on it. Instead, I want to write about another one of my bizarro dreams.

TMI– I am in the midst of my period right now. That means I had a rather restless night. I got up probably half a dozen times to use the bathroom, which is pretty much my custom when Aunt Flow is making her presence known. The sad thing is, we had nice clean sheets. I usually sleep very well when the sheets are crisp and clean. Not so much last night.

Anyway, in the wee hours of the morning, I had a weird dream. I don’t remember everything about it. What I do remember was that I was in an airport. It seemed kind of like the Stuttgart Airport, only it was a lot more expanded than I know it is at the moment. Also, there was a lot of wood paneling everywhere… and soft lighting. That is not like the Stuttgart Airport at all.

I dreamt there was a hotel at the airport. I had made arrangements to stay there. I got off the plane, tired and cranky, but then somehow got turned around and couldn’t find my bags. Bill and I also weren’t together. He was coming on a different flight later. So I went searching for my bags and was told they were in some room. I think the room was called the Oracle Room– a brown haired, brown eyed bearded man, pushing a push broom, told me. The guy was friendly, but kind of no nonsense.

So I got my bags and checked into my hotel room. Later, I went out for awhile, and when I came back, there was a strange woman about to open the door, as if she had also been assigned room 40. I told her that was my room. She argued with me, but then left with a resigned sigh when she noticed all of my baggage already there.

It was about time for Bill to arrive, so I went searching for him. I finally found him and we ended up on some kind of weird transport vehicle on the tarmac. It was kind of like a motorcycle, only we had no helmets. The thing ran on its own power, so we were horrified as it careened under a jet and propelled into a barrier. Bill’s legs were crushed. He was screaming. I was screaming. No one would help us.

Bill and I finally somehow got into the airport. Once again, I had to go looking for his bags, which weren’t in the usual baggage claim area. I stopped some guy who looked like he worked at the airport. He had scraggly hair and was a bit overweight, wearing a dirty white tuxedo. I asked him where to find the bags and he laughed at me and walked away. Then I saw the guy pushing the broom, who explained that the bags were moved, again to the Oracle Room.

Suddenly, the airport was full of people. No one wore a face mask, including me. And I distinctly remember thinking that I was going to get COVID-19 and probably die of it. I got the bags and, at about that time, woke up.

I seem to make a habit out of having weird dreams on Valentine’s Day. According to my Facebook memories, this was the one I had last year…

I had a very vivid dream this morning involving Nicole… I went to her house and there was a lot of gymnastics equipment set up. She was having a birthday party for some kids. All of the kids were on the autism spectrum. She came out with a cake made entirely out of unusually flavored Pop Tarts. She told me which ones I could take, since a few were especially for certain kids who liked certain flavors. I remember one special Pop Tart was mint!

Nicole is an old neighbor of mine and a friend. She’s a wonderful mom and a very good friend to a lot of people… one of those folks who is blessed with many allies because she is such a good person. She’s one of the few neighbors I’ve had and have actually really missed over the years. When I posted about that dream last year, she clarified that making a Pop Tart cake would make her the coolest mom on the block… and that I would be welcome to take any Pop Tart I wanted. Where the Pop Tart reference comes from, I will never know. I haven’t had one of those in ages.

Well… we usually do something special for Valentine’s Day. In the past, we’ve gone to a beer spa in the Czech Republic and we’ve gone to France a couple of times. In fact, we went to France in 2019 and 2020, mainly because Valentine’s Day coincided with President’s Day weekend. Most years, if we don’t travel, we have a nice dinner somewhere in a restaurant, although last year’s Valentine’s Dinner was not romantic at all. This year, I’ll be lucky if I get a Five Guys burger… which actually suits me fine, I guess. I’m pretty tired of this lifestyle, though. I miss traveling and new experiences. Maybe that’s why I dreamt of the airport… not that I especially want to fly under these conditions.

Last year, we went to Strasbourg, France for the annual wine expo, in which representatives from wineries all over France come to sell their wares. It was our first time going and it was overwhelming, but fun. This year, they have postponed it until June. The French are serious about their wine. We came home with about 40 bottles. We should have bought more, but Bill was worried about transporting them and storing them.

I’d like to pick up some more Pommard wine, myself…

Ah well… maybe 2022 will be better. For now, enjoy your VD, and may all your weird, vivid dreams be harmless.

I always do…


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.

marriage, nostalgia, religion

My religious “experience”…

It’s very early in the morning in the United States and I just traded comments with the man who hired me to work at a Presbyterian church camp back in 1993. At the time, I was definitely not a fan of church. I was raised mainstream Presbyterian, which is a fairly laid back denomination as churches go. I still hated attending every week. I found it a colossal bore and a waste of time.

Going to church was something I was forced to do, and it wasn’t even something we did as a family, mainly because my mom was always the organist and my dad was always in the choir. My sisters were grown and gone for most of my childhood. I found church dreadfully dull, and I wasn’t interested in it at all. I didn’t listen to the sermons, sing the hymns, or want to be part of any of the activities, although I was frequently compelled to do things like go to vacation Bible school and take the church’s confirmation class. When I was a teenager, I was also required by my parents to go to a career counseling class at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. That school has since been renamed St. Andrew’s University. I remember not wanting to go on that trip and finding the experience “creepy”, although now I think I would have enjoyed going to that university myself. Fat lot of good the trip did for me anyway, although I ended up having some fun on it.

Despite going to church for many years, I didn’t know anything about church or religion or the Bible. I was basically a warm shell sitting in a pew, forced to be there every week and hating it. So why in the world would I have wanted to work at a Presbyterian church camp? It was mainly because I wanted to escape my parents’ house. I would rather be in a religious environment, sleeping in a platform tent, than living with my parents. In those days, my dad and I barely got along and my mom was stressed out keeping the business going. It was a hostile environment. Being at camp all summer spared me from having to be in that environment.

It turned out that church job was one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. But I do remember being very nervous about working at a religious summer camp. Back in the 70s and 80s, a lot of churches had summer camps. In the area where I grew up, there was Makemie Woods. I remember being forced to go there a time or two when I was a child, though I never had to attend camp there. It looks like Makemie Woods is closed now. A lot of summer camps have ceased to operate, mainly because kids don’t want to go to camp anymore. They’d rather be online. I remember Paddy Run was at risk of closing, until my friend Amy got involved in saving it. Amy worked with me at Camp Paddy Run, as did a lot of other really cool people.

I remember the day I met my former boss, Simon. I walked up to him at a summer camp recruitment event held at my college. I had just spoken to a representative from Camp Fincastle, which was another Presbyterian camp located near where my dad’s family lives. I wasn’t all that impressed by the Camp Fincastle people, and it looks like now, Camp Fincastle no longer exists. But then I saw Simon standing by himself at a table. He wore jeans and a white sweatshirt that had the Very Fine juice company logo on it. He had short brown hair, wore glasses, and a cross around his neck. Before I knew what was happening, I was talking to Simon about being a camp counselor. He said they had enough counselors, but they needed a cook. And I said I’d be a better cook than counselor anyway. A few days later, after checking my references, that same man hired me. I remember thinking he was very uptight. Boy, was I ever wrong! But that didn’t change how I felt almost dread when it turned out he wanted to hire me to be the church camp’s cook! I wondered how I would cope with the religion.

I remember arriving at Camp Paddy Run in June 1993. It was, and still is, a very beautiful location. There was a huge meadow, enclosed by mountains on either side and a vast forest. There was a crude little church space out in the meadow, with weather worn splintery benches, a fire pit, and a cross that was strung together with rope. Deep in the woods, there was Paddy’s Run, a mountain creek, where kids would go rock hopping. There were cabins and “hogans”, and a garage that stored the canoes and camping equipment served as our staff lounge. I remember at night, the stars were absolutely incredible. There was no light pollution at all, so you could see so many stars in the summer sky. If I were inclined to be religious, I would say that God chose Camp Paddy Run to be a sacred place. I wish I had more pictures of it.

It took me awhile to get used to church camp life. I was pretty quiet at first. I wasn’t familiar with the Bible, despite going to church and Sunday School my whole life. I knew nothing about the origins of the Presbyterian Church, or the fact that my ancestry has a lot to do with why my family is mostly Presbyterian. I didn’t know anything about why church services are set up the way they are, and I didn’t enjoy “devotions” or “vespers”. I had nothing much to say during those meetings. Despite having gone to Sunday school and church and being raised in a religious extended family, I was never taught much about Christianity. My dad took me to church every week because it was something people did. It was the expected thing to do. But we never talked about religion at home. We didn’t pray before meals or bedtime (except when I was very little). So when I worked at the church camp, I wasn’t necessarily the best model of Christ-like behavior. I did get in trouble for cussing, too.

At camp, every day started early and ended late. It was my job to cook, and I was good at it. I had three teenaged guys working with me and we ended up becoming friends. I was introduced to canoeing, which was something I had never tried before I worked at camp. I also went on some wonderful hikes in the woods and found swimming holes, one of which had a natural slide. I slept on an uncomfortable cot in a platform tent with two or three other women, depending on the week. The pay wasn’t much, but I had few expenses. It was a healthy lifestyle, far away from “civilization”. I ended up enjoying the experience so much that I went back in 1994. Then, the following year, partly based on my church camp experience, I joined the Peace Corps.

I’m still not a very religious person, although I do enjoy sacred music. Perhaps that’s where my relationship with God is strongest. I don’t do a lot of praying and don’t feel comfortable in offering prayers to people. I still find religion kind of icky, especially since it’s been co-opted by powerful people who want to use it to promote their own agendas. And yet, that job working at a church camp gave me so much… especially in friendships. I still have many friends from that time period, including my former boss, who was a minister for some time and officiated at my wedding to Bill.

Simon has since left the ministry and become a Catholic. I’m not exactly sure what led him to take that step, although he clearly feels most authentic as a Catholic. His wife is still a Protestant. Talking to him now, I see that maybe it was a case of his being somewhat of a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. When I met him, thinking he was this very uptight religious person, I didn’t know that he was also a bit nuts like me. He has a great sense of humor, loves outrageous rock music from the 70s, wears nail polish, and has both earrings and long hair. In the 90s, he had to appear to be someone he wasn’t really. Now that he’s no longer a minister, he can be himself. That must be very liberating for him, although I’m sure the decision to leave his life’s work was extremely difficult. If I know him, he did a lot of praying and soul searching before he took that step.

Simon later became a certified nursing assistant and worked in a psychiatric hospital. I’m sure his skills as a minister were useful when he worked at that job. He recently had to stop working there due to health reasons and family responsibilities.

Like me, my former boss spent a lot of time in school. He’s earned a couple of master’s degrees that he doesn’t use for paid employment. He’s also a bit of an eccentric, like I am. Like me, he found his soul mate and has enjoyed a long, happy union. He’s married to a wonderful woman with whom he enjoys a great marriage and has three lovely daughters. I look up to my former boss as an example. He’s yet another person who didn’t take the conventional road through life.

Bill and I will soon celebrate our eighteenth wedding anniversary. Although the years haven’t always been easy… they’ve all been fun. We still love each other very much. I’m so grateful we were able to have our wedding officiated by someone who is a true friend. He made the ceremony very special and meaningful. We still talk about what he said to us during our wedding. And despite all of the little hassles that come up in our daily lives, we remain committed to each other and happy to be in each other’s lives. I realize how very fortunate we are every day, especially when I go a little nuts.

So… even though I know people read this blog and think all kinds of things about me, the truth is, I’ve been blessed with a lot of good things in life. And I have many good people in my life, too. Especially Bill… I could not have asked for a better partner. When I look back on my pathway through life, I realize that every decision I made, before we first encountered each other in a chat room back in 1999, led me to him. Even working at a church summer camp when I am not particularly religious myself.

I’m also really glad I grew up Presbyterian. If I had to go to church, I’m glad it was one that embraces education and scholarly research. I’m glad I didn’t come away from the experience with religious baggage. The Presbyterians also have the distinction of being from Scotland, too.

And now I have to decide what to get him for our anniversary, since we can’t travel anywhere. Wonder what Hallmark says the 18th anniversary present is. Guess I’ll go find out, especially now that the power is back on.


The many faces of Bill…

Yesterday, Bill and I decided to go to the Middle Rhein Gorge. We didn’t actually do very much while we were there, because we got a late start and had to sit in some traffic. I took some photos and we had lunch at the Rheinfels “Romantic” Hotel in Saint Goar, which overlooks the Rhein River. Then, after we ate, we went home. It was just one of those days that we had to get out of the house. The weather was beautiful and surprisingly warm, and my Mini Cooper convertible needed driving. The Middle Rhein Gorge is a popular vacation destination, and we happen to live close to it now.

One thing I love to do to Bill when we’re enjoying a day trip, is ask him ridiculous questions. I always expect some kind of shocked reaction, and Bill NEVER disappoints. Yesterday, the question of the day was, “Would you like it if I decided to become a prostitute?”

Now, bear in mind, I would never consider being a sex worker, and Bill knows it. Prostitution is legal in Germany, but I believe sex workers are required to have regular health checkups. I hate going to doctors. Also, I don’t really enjoy sex that much. I mean, I like it with Bill, but that’s only because we know each other very well and he knows and cares about my likes and dislikes in the sack. Random other people who are paying for sex would neither know nor care about my experience. It doesn’t sound like any fun to me… and at my age, probably wouldn’t be much fun for my hypothetical customers, nor would it pay much. So this was a truly ridiculous question. Bill rewarded me with a facial expression like this one.


Followed by one that looked like this…

He made this face in December 2017, when his mom came to visit and we took her on a trip to Berlin. I quipped that he once came out of her and now he comes into me…

And then, inevitably, I get this face…

I would not blame Bill if he eventually got annoyed by my silliness and inappropriate questions. Fortunately, he has a great sense of humor and a lot of patience.

When I met Bill, he told me that he never took good pictures. I would beg to disagree. I have a lot of awesome pictures of my husband and he’s become very tolerant of letting me photograph him. I’m not sure if I would be as patient if the situation were reversed. I don’t like having my picture taken because I often look hideous. Bill has had a lot of bad pictures made, but I’ve gotten good at photographing him. I think it’s because I know him very well and can easily tell when he’s going to make an awesome face. I also love him, so I often capture him at his best. Here are a few handsome pictures I’ve managed to get recently.

Someday, if I outlive Bill, maybe his long lost daughters might appreciate the many pictures I have of their dad. He’s a very handsome man to me, not just because of his physical appearance, but because of who he is inside. I may do a lot of griping about things, but I will never complain about Bill. He’s one of the very few people in the world who almost never annoys me. He truly is loving, kind, thoughtful, and caring, even if he probably indulges me too much. I think we work well together because I encourage him to have fun and remind him that deserves love and respect. And he does the same for me, although our needs are different. But mostly, he’s just a lot of fun, witty and intelligent, and mostly game for new experiences. He has a gentleness about him and a deep capacity to love and forgive. It’s always a pleasure to be with him, and an honor to be his wife.

These pictures remind me it’s time for a trip to Italy or Austria… or somewhere else we haven’t been in awhile. We are very fortunate to have so much fun together and enjoy each other’s company so much. Our idiosyncrasies are actually kind of complementary, which is a rare thing in any relationship. We rarely fight, and when we do, the make up is swift and satisfying, with no lingering bullshit. Neither of us has to walk on eggshells around the other, because we’re both eager to settle any disputes and get on with living peacefully.

Sometimes, I forget how much fun we manage to have just being together… and sometimes, I think people who read my blog think I’m just a negative, unhappy, mean-spirited person. I may be negative and cranky sometimes, but I’m definitely not mean-spirited… at least not to people who aren’t clearly asking for it. If you treat me right, there’s nothing I won’t do for you. But shit on me, and that’s when you’ll certainly see the less fun loving side of my personality. Bill is almost always a peach, even to those who mistreat him, but he’s getting a lot better at enforcing boundaries. That may make other people lament, but it’s the best thing for his own self-preservation. No one can stay healthy or happy being a doormat to other people.

I remember when I first fell in love with Bill. My mom could barely stand it. Mom always told me how obnoxious she thinks I am and, apparently, I was even worse when I found love. She said, “I’m not sure I can stand being around Jenny in love.” Fortunately for her, it’s only happened once.

I’m not sure what we’re going to do today. It’s Columbus Day and we still have beautiful weather. Maybe we’ll go somewhere and do something fun. It would probably be a good idea, rather than sitting around the house watching bad TV and drinking wine. No matter what, I’ll probably ask more inappropriate, offensive, or ridiculous questions to provoke one of Bill’s best WTF facial expressions. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch it with the camera.