dogs, lessons learned

All better… getting back to business, doing my business…

I think I can now declare myself fully recovered from the stomach bug. In fact, this morning, I was back in business, doing my business. And that is a good thing, because this morning, there are two plumbers in the bathroom, fixing the shower and the fixtures on the bathtub.

Mood music. This is a great rendition, but the crowd isn’t into the singalong.

When we moved into this house in late 2018, the main bathroom still had the original fixtures on the shower and tub. At first, we couldn’t even use the shower, because we couldn’t turn on the cold water spigot. It was completely immobilized by lime, caused by the hard water in Germany– land of no water softeners. The taps hadn’t been descaled in a very long time before we moved in, so we literally couldn’t turn on the faucet. The plumber fixed that by completely replacing the fixtures, but not before a couple of weeks had passed. We had to use the bathtub, which also had a problem. Water leaked copiously from under the faucet whenever we ran the water.

I kept bugging Bill to speak to the landlord about it, but he was still a bit traumatized by our last renting experience. Even though our current landlord is a very kind and reasonable person, Bill dreaded having to talk to him about something not right in the house. I can totally understand that, but it was a real pain for me when it came time to clean. Because the tub’s fixtures were so leaky, we didn’t use the tub at all, once the shower was fixed. And, although I don’t mind taking showers, it didn’t sit well with me that there’s so much rent being paid and we couldn’t really use the tub without water leaking all over the place.

Before anyone points this out, allow me to pre-emptively state that I know I could have spoken up… but because I didn’t sign the lease, and because I got blamed for everything in our last house, we decided it would be better if Bill deals with the landlord. I was the one who spoke up about the awning, and I got a ration of shit for it. This time, we’re doing things differently. I’m staying as uninvolved with the business side as possible. Maybe it’s not the best way to handle things, but that’s how it’s worked out. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of issues in this house.

Bill mentioned the tub a couple of times, and finally had a serious conversation with the landlord about it. The landlord brought the plumber over in late July to check out what needed to be done. Now, after a couple of months of waiting for appointment availability and new parts, the plumbers are here fixing the tub and shower. They don’t know it yet, but our next project is probably going to be the bathroom sink downstairs. I think the fixture on the sink is original to the house– they have an early 90s/late 80s look to them. It’s due to be replaced for the same reason the tub’s fixtures needed replacing. But the faucet on the sink doesn’t leak nearly as badly as the tub’s fixtures did.

I just took a look at the shower and I’m very pleased. We got a nice upgraded double shower head that is in the corner of the stall, rather than the middle. Maybe that will mean less water on the floor after our showers, too. And now I can offer an addendum about the sink. I just mentioned it to the landlord, since he came over to find the tiles for the bathtub. I was not expecting anything to happen today with that, but to my delight and relief, he was totally cool with it. The plumber just checked out the sink and it looks like that is going to be fixed, too. I thanked all of them profusely and told the landlord how happy I am! He really is a nice man.

The other business that needs attending today involves Arran. He has a few itchy bumps that are going to be removed. His surgery isn’t until noon, so he’s a bit grumpy, since he’s not allowed to eat. I fear the bumps are probably new mast cell tumors. Maybe I’m wrong, though I doubt it. Hopefully, they won’t be too high grade, and Arran will heal quickly and uneventfully. It’s hard watching him get older. He’s a very special dog.

We also thought Arran’s predecessor, MacGregor was a special dog, and he really was. MacGregor and Bill had a very unique bond. But Arran has turned out to have an even more devoted bond than MacGregor did. I’ve often thought that MacGregor sent Arran to us, to help heal Bill’s broken heart when we lost him to a spinal tumor in December 2012. When we brought Arran home in January 2013, Arran immediately took to Bill, and he’s been by his side ever since. They absolutely adore each other.

MacGregor in North Carolina, not long before we lost him to cancer. He did this all the time. MacGregor also had a special weekend ritual. He would wait for Bill to open his eyes after sleeping, then crawl on his chest and kiss him on the nose. MacGregor didn’t like most men and was afraid of all strangers, but he LOVED Bill.
This photo was taken on the day we brought Arran home, back in North Carolina. He loved Bill from the moment he became part of the family. As you can see, he and MacGregor have something in common. Arran is sweet and friendly, and isn’t afraid of people, but Bill is definitely his favorite human.

Meanwhile, Noyzi is firmly established as my dog. He doesn’t listen to Bill, although he has become less afraid of him. At night, when it’s time for the last pee break of the day, I have to be the one to get him to go outside. Luckily, he listens to my voice and basically does what I tell him to do. I think Noyzi is the type of dog who needs an assertive leader. It probably makes him feel secure and reassured. I told Bill it was time for him to use that Army trained command voice he used to tell me about when we were dating. I know he can do it, but he’s such a gentle person that he’d rather not.

In some ways, Noyzi reminds me of Zane. He has a very sunny personality. Every time he sees me, he smiles and wags his stumpy little tail. He likes to play, and he’s very friendly. But Zane was a much more confident, well-adjusted dog, and he was all about having a good time and being friends with everybody. Noyzi probably would have been more like that had he not been traumatized. However, every day, we see him getting to be a more confident dog. He’s even starting to misbehave a bit.

I actually bought that rug for Zane, so he’d have traction when jumping on the bed. Noyzi doesn’t get on the furniture, but he’s becoming a lot more attached to me. He hangs out behind my chair or next to the bed most days.

I’ll end today’s post with an anecdote about yesterday… I shared this status on Facebook yesterday.

Who wants to know why I am completely repulsed right now?

A couple of people liked the post, so this is my tale of woe…

Alright… so I have had a stomach virus for the past few days. I’m mostly better now, but still haven’t really managed to brave a real meal yet. I noticed a jar of applesauce in the fridge, which is recommended for gut health. I had slim hopes for it, since I didn’t remember when it was purchased. Bill doesn’t like applesauce. I opened it up, and there was about a half inch of gray sludge on the surface. So I threw it out.

Then I went outside, still kind of grossed out by the applesauce, took a look at the yard, and decided to turn on the robotic mower. To turn it on, I have to lift a panel. I had trouble getting it to go up the whole way. Then I noticed a HUGE slug stuck in the hinge. Lifting the panel only wedged the slug in tighter. There I was, with quaking guts, using a stick to try to pull the slug out, and it just kept getting fatter and more repulsive looking. Half its body was stuck. Finally, I managed to get it out, but then I had to get it off the mower, so I got my pruning shears and used them as tongs to pull the fat little bastard off my mower. It fell in the grass, where I hope it will be mowed. 

I am hoping to be less grossed out by the time Bill gets home so we can eat a real meal.

I’m happy to report that last night, I finally did have a real meal. It was glorious… as was this morning’s real dump, which was somewhat normal. Hallelujah!

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karma, politicians, politics, Trump

Trump’s decision to move troops out of Germany…

Have you ever heard the expression “Even a broken clock is correct at least twice a day?” Well… that’s kind of how I was feeling yesterday when I heard the news that Donald Trump plans to move about 12,000 troops out of Germany.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the idea of him reducing the number of troops here in Deutschland. I think it’s a petty and short-sighted plan, and I kind of hope it goes down in flames, along with his bid for re-election. But I must admit I was a little bit tickled to hear the news yesterday. As I read about the people who would most be affected by this plan, I realized that Stuttgart is going to be the most affected of all of the areas in Germany.

European Command (EUCOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM) are both outfits that Bill has worked for in the past. They are both located in Stuttgart, and they employ thousands of American people. If those two commands are moved out of Stuttgart, that will mean that there will be significantly fewer American military folks and civilians in Stuttgart. The military folks who are based there with the remaining tenants will probably almost all end up living on the installations, and the number of civilians who are ineligible to live on the installations, but need a place to live, will be in shorter supply.

Stuttgart has four local installations, one of which is entirely used for housing. So moving EUCOM and AFRICOM would mean that most people who are in the military, working in Stuttgart, will not need to rent accommodations on the economy. What few American civilians remain will be in far shorter supply than usual, and that will mean they’ll probably rent places closer to their workplaces, and more will be available to them, because of the decreased demand. It could mean rental prices will be forced down, and many fewer landlords will have the opportunity to blatantly rip off “ignorant Americans” of their deposits when they move out of their rental properties. I understand that practice among some landlords is at an epidemic level down there.

Now… this plan of Trump’s is hardly engraved in stone. Whether or not it happens as he envisions it will depend on if he’s re-elected and if he literally survives after he’s re-elected, as more and more government representatives are testing positive for COVID-19 and telling their staffers about it in person. It’s also going to be very expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome undertaking to initiate this plan. Housing and other infrastructure will have to be constructed in the areas in which he wants to move troops. Italy and Belgium, by the way, pay even less toward their own defense than Germany does, so his complaints about Germany not paying its share of defense expenses, while basically true, are kind of based in bullshit. Is he going to demand that Italy and Belgium pay up, too? I doubt it. I think Trump is simply holding a grudge, and/or doing Putin’s bidding. I also doubt either Italy or Belgium is especially interested in having more Americans living there.

Germans seem less interested in seeing Americans leave. It’s true… we’ve been here a long time and we pump money into the economy and add security against Russia (although Trump is awfully cozy with Putin). The infrastructure is already here and we already have a longstanding relationship with Germans.

Our landlord has approached Bill on multiple occasions, wanting to know what our plans are. In fact, when we went to Poland a few months ago, he thought we were going there to house hunt. Nope… it was just for a conference and I tagged along because it was our wedding anniversary. I wouldn’t be averse to living in Poland, Italy, Belgium, or Spain, but I like Germany very much, and I’m not particularly hoping for a move anytime soon. At the very least, I’d like to stay out of the United States because I don’t wish to catch the coronavirus.

Besides… these things take time, especially when the world is ever changing. I know that RAF Mildenhall in England, which is where my father did his last assignment in the 1970s, has been slated for closure since 2015. It was supposed to shut down in 2020. Then they pushed it to 2023. Guess what. It’s still up and running. At this point, they’re predicting it will close in 2027. I won’t hold my breath.

Fortunately, it appears that not only is Bill doing good work in Wiesbaden, but none of the groups based in Wiesbaden were mentioned as areas where troops would be cut. So our current landlord, at least for now, can rest easy. Stuttgart area landlords who especially prefer renting to Americans, however, might soon have some cause for concern, especially since some of the moves may be happening within the coming weeks. Some of them might want to re-evaluate the way they do business or, perhaps, get out of the business of renting to “cash cow” Americans affiliated with the military for good. I know of at least one person who should really consider that option.

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