Bill, love, marriage, music, musings, travel

It can be so good to be with someone who takes you places you never dreamed you’d be…

I took the featured photo yesterday, when Bill and I were at the bottom of a fairly deep cave. Not everyone could have taken that journey with Bill. I know his first wife would not have been able to… at least not yesterday. It was just one of many things we’ve been able to do together, but may not have been able to do with someone else.

I know it’s corny, but I get a lot of inspiration from music. This afternoon, as Bill prepares for yet another trip to Bavaria on business, I’m reminded of an old John Denver song. If you know anything about Germany, you might know that many Germans LOVE John Denver’s music. There’s a fair bet you’ll hear a stirring rendition of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” at any fest where there’s live music.

John Denver wasn’t actually the only songwriter for that song. It was also written by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, a then married couple who were famously members of the 70s act, Starland Vocal Band. They were the ones who sang “Afternoon Delight”, a total guilty pleasure song about nooners. Danoff was also one of former President Bill Clinton’s classmates at Georgetown University.

I like “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as much as any survivor of the 1970s does, and I’m sure to join in singing it at any German fest. But the song in my head today is another one of John Denver’s traveling songs. It’s one that I first heard sung by Olivia Newton-John; she covered it in 1975 for her Have You Never Been Mellow album (another guilty pleasure song for me). I was a BIG Olivia fan in the 70s… still love her music today, may she rest in peace. Behold:

John Denver wrote “Follow Me”, but I identify a lot with Olivia’s cover. On the other hand, it really is John’s song, and his doesn’t include a banjo. She also changed the last couple of lines of lyrics, which kind of changes the meaning of the song.
John Denver performs his song in 1974. The words to this song make me kind of verklempt.

Check out the lyrics…

It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done,
To be so in love with you and so alone.

Follow me where I go, what I do, who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down,
All the way and all around,
Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.

It’s long been on my mind,
You know it’s been a long, long time,
I’ve tried to find the way that I can make you understand
The way I feel about you,
And just how much I need you
To be there where I can talk to you
When there’s no one else around.

Follow me where I go, what I do, who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down,
All the way and all around,
Take my hand and say you’ll follow me.

You see I’d like to share my life with you
And show you things I’ve seen,
Places that I’m going to
Places where I’ve been
To have you there beside me
To never be alone
And all the time that you’re with me,
We will be at home

Follow me where I go, what I do, who I know
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down,
All the way…
Take my hand and I will follow you.

I just wrote a travel post about the upcoming adventures Bill and I are looking forward to having very soon. The gist of the post was about how I’ve been fretting a little bit about my ability to do some of the things we’ve always done on our trips. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, after all. But we went to the Kubach Cave yesterday, and I managed to make it up and down many, many steps so that we might see the inside of one of Germany’s show caves.

When we got to the bottom of the cave, I looked over at Bill and said, “Here’s yet another thing you’d never be able to do with Ex.” It’s no secret that I dislike my husband’s ex wife for many valid reasons. But, the truth is, she and Bill were completely incompatible. Even if she’d been a perfect sweetheart to him, he would not have been able to go to that cave with her. She currently lacks the physical stamina or ability to make such a trip.

Even when Ex was a lot younger, she was never one to go for physically challenging walking trips. Bill said she had a tendency to “wilt” in hot weather. She was more likely to swim for long periods of time, which Bill enjoys a lot less– mainly because he doesn’t like being seen in a bathing suit. He has, however, started to appreciate the nude experiences. I doubt he would have ever done that with Ex, either. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Checking out her recent social media, I see that Ex just had surgery on her ankle, which I know has given her trouble for a long time. Bill told me it stemmed from an accident she had, trying to garden with bare feet. She stepped in a hole, lost her balance, then fell over and broke her ankle. Apparently, it never properly healed. Or maybe she got hurt again and injured the other ankle.

Anyway, she just got surgery, and the meds made her sick, causing her to have to go back to the hospital. Even if she enjoyed climbing stairs and walking a lot, she literally would not have been able to go to the cave yesterday.

Thinking back on our almost 21 years together, I am amazed at the places Bill and I have managed to go, and places we still plan to see. Given the fact that neither of us ever had a lot of dating partners, it’s astonishing that we ended up together, and we’re able to have so many incredible adventures.

It’s true that a lot of the reason we’ve been able to do these things is because we’ve made certain choices. We don’t have children together. We don’t own a home. We live in Europe, so it’s a lot easier to travel to some of the world’s exotic places. We don’t currently have the tax burden in Europe that we’d have in the United States. I’ve also been making a very concerted effort to pay off debt.

I think the number one reason why we’ve been able to go on these adventures together, though, is because we want to do it. We like each other’s company; we like to do a lot of the same activities; and we make a point of seeing places and doing things together. The end result is that when we pose for pictures, like the one below, we look like we’re having a good time… because we are.

Granted, I took this photo before I climbed 456 steps one way…

I think if I could give my younger self some advice, I’d tell her not to worry about being dateless in her 20s. There’s a good chance there is someone out there waiting… the right person. And in my case, there was. On the other hand, I also know that sometimes there is no “right person”, so you have to make things work alone.

I was in the middle of trying to make things work on my own when Bill came into my life. He had a lot of baggage, and common sense would have told me to run far away from him. But I couldn’t help but be enchanted by his good nature and willingness to laugh at my jokes… some of which are pretty obscene. So I took a chance on him… and he took a chance on me, after having been through an abusive relationship with his ex wife. Now we’re both smiling, and having many wonderful adventures together.

We have been literally living John Denver’s words in “Follow Me”… which I’ll admit, we’re privileged enough to be able to do somewhat easily. I realize that not everyone can literally follow another person. Perhaps another way to take that song is metaphorically. You don’t have to physically follow someone to be on the same wavelength. You can follow them mentally and emotionally, too. For Bill and me, I’ll admit… it’s easy. We both want to do it. For others, I don’t know how easy it is.

I just know that John Denver’s words really speak to me today, as I think about how Bill and I followed each other up and down a steep cave’s steps and had an experience of a lifetime. I do mean that, because we probably won’t be visiting that cave again. But we will visit other caves… and I know that, at least for now, we can still take each other’s hands and follow each other. And I am very grateful that we are still so able to do that.

I also know that for as much as I dislike Ex… if she hadn’t been willing to let go of Bill at the precise time she did, we probably would not be having this life together. So a small part of me will always be grateful to her for that. I’m so glad I can follow Bill… and in turn, he follows me (he’s one of the few and proud, actually). And not just on social media, either. ๐Ÿ˜€

music, religion, Trump

Hymn for the 81%

I discovered a new artist this morning. Someone in the Duggar Family News Group shared a news article about evangelical Christian musician, Daniel Deitrich, who has just released an awesome new song calling out Christians for voting for Trump. Deitrich was raised a Christian and believed the messages he heard about Christians loving everyone, being kind and inclusive, and taking care of people in need. But, as Deitrich rightly points out, 81% of evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump, a man who is about as anti-Christian as a person can get. So… Deitrich did what a lot of creative types do when they get inspired, either negatively or positively. He created. In this case, his creation was a scathing song directed at Christians that turn a blind eye to Donald Trump’s cruelty, misogyny, and racism. Here it is.

I learned in a more detailed article that Deitrich is a worship leader in South Bend, Indiana. He was shy as a young man growing up in southwestern Michigan, but his youth pastor taught him a three chords on the guitar. He started writing and singing songs almost immediately and hasn’t stopped since. He and his friends made up a band and played in bars and clubs. At the same time, Deitrich got more involved with his church. When the band broke up, Deitrich started working full time at his church.

Although he was a churchgoing man, Deitrich didn’t stay away from bars… places that evangelicals typically shun. He’d have honest conversations with people over beers, and it occurred to him that Christians preached about following Jesus. But then they’d align themselves with Republican lawmakers, who typically champion causes that aren’t in line with Jesus Christ’s teachings. And then, along came Donald Trump, a greedy, gluttonous, power-hungry, narcissistic man who has lied, cheated, molested women, stiffed contractors, and has no compassion for people south of the U.S. border who are fleeing violence. And 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for him… probably because he claims to be “pro-life”. I guess it doesn’t occur to them that Trump is a liar, too.

Deitrich eventually was asked to help start up a church in South Bend called South Bend City Church. He says his church is

a Jesus-centered community for believers and doubters and everyone in between. Itโ€™s a place where spiritual exiles have found a home, a place where you donโ€™t have to check your brain at the door, and itโ€™s been so beautiful to see people who have been excluded from or wounded by the church feel safe and seen and loved.

Deitrich was asked if he planned to continue to write songs calling out Trump and his misguided followers. He says that he wishes he didn’t feel like he needed to write such songs. However, Deitrich says there’s still a lot of work to do and messages to be made, “to combat white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, sexism โ€” all the ways in which people are treated as less than the children of God that they are.” And he says people have written to him, thanking him for his efforts. They said that they left the church due to the extreme hypocrisy shown by so-called Christians who continue to support Donald Trump and his ilk.

Deitrich recognizes that his song may upset some people, but he counters that people need to “have their feathers ruffled”. Naturally, I peeked at the comments left on the second article I read about Daniel Deitrich and his song. Comment after comment spouted the usual right wing bullshit, including ignorant comments like this one:

Meanwhile – Democrats are giving are giving standing ovations to the passage of 3rd term abortion bills. Literally killing viable babies.

Good luck explaining that one to God. Clearly a sin. Any Evangelicals who support Democrats are going straight to hell – without a doubt.

Um… the dude who wrote the above comment obviously didn’t bother to read the bills he is lamenting. Not a single one of them supports “killing viable babies”. I was gratified to read a much more educated response to the above comment:

No, none of those bills provides for the “killing of viable babies”. You clearly have never read the proposed laws and no doubt are ignorant of just how a pregnancy can go wrong. You may remain blissfully ignorant of the kind of heartwrenching defects inspired these bills, which are about the peaceful passing of doomed babies who have little to no chance of survival outside the room for more than a few agonizing hours, but stop congratulating yourself for taking what you deem to be the moral high road in your ignorance. Stop getting your information from right wing smear merchants. Try reading about the accounts of those who have been faced with these horrifying situations, facing the loss of a child they wanted.

Yes… the evangelicals support Donald Trump because he’s allegedly pro-life. But he’s not really pro-life. Just look at his policies. He supports taking away programs that help people in need. He supports separating families and putting children in detention camps, denying them and their parents humane care. He supports bigotry toward people who just happen to come from certain countries like Iran or Mexico or any other place he deems a “shithole”. He mocks children, the disabled, wounded veterans, women he thinks are “ugly”, and anyone else who dares to criticize him. Trump’s God is money, and I think anyone who follows Trump must worship money, too.

I get that conservative Christians don’t want to vote for Democrats because they see the Democrats as too “socialist” and “un-American”. They hate the idea of allowing abortion, but they’ve got no problem cutting sex education from schools or forcing health insurance companies to pay for birth control. They have no issue with cutting government programs that help poor people, the elderly, or women who need help. They say those programs should be privatized charities– that people who need help should turn to religious organizations, where they might be forced to hear about how their sins have led them away from God’s favor. After all, if they weren’t egregious sinners, they wouldn’t need help, right? Problems like mental illness, or being born homosexual or transgendered, or feeling desperate and scared after being raped and winding up pregnant– those are all caused by sin, according to some Christians. And all that’s really needed is to “get right with God”. Yeah… I don’t believe that.

There’s a reason why religion is not supposed to align with politics. Separation of church and state is a good thing. But I understand that conservatives don’t want to vote for Democrats. Fine… then at least demand that Republicans stop being such corrupt, contemptible people like Trump. I know Democrats can be just as corrupt as Republicans are, but I have never in my lifetime seen any Democrat as vile as Trump is. I’d like to see better people on both sides of the spectrum.

Got it… but Trump is much worse than any of these people… Seriously. I’d like to see better people on both sides, but we have to do better than Trump.

Here’s a pretty good rebuttal to the above meme written by a guy in a group I follow:

Gary Hart, John Edwards, Chuck Robb, Mel Reynolds, Gary Condit, Anthony Werner, David Wu, John Conyers, Rod Blagojevich, even Al Franken โ€” they all got held accountable for their bad behavior. All of them. By Democrats.

And Bill Clinton? Maybe Clinton should have resigned. To many people, what he had was a consensual, adulterous affair with a young, but grown woman. To others, what he did was an enormous abuse of power. To Democrats like me, it was an ugly and regrettable stain, one that ultimately helped get George W Bush (another ugly and regrettable stain) elected. And that means that a LOT of Democrats turned away from the party, not because of Bill Clinton’s policies, but because he got blown in the Oval Office.

So, yeah. Nice list you got there, Trumpy McTrumperton. We dealt with the majority of them. When are you guys gonna stop calling Trump a gift from God Almighty and start holding him accountable, at the very least, for the things he’s admitted doing?

If the planet survives Trump’s era, people may one day find themselves on the wrong side of history. I would imagine that there were many people who supported Hitler, thinking he was a great leader who put bread on their tables and money in their pockets. I wonder how those people felt when the realities of Hitler’s brutal regime finally came to light and they found out they’d been supporting a mass murdering madman hellbent on exterminating entire populations of people he found undesirable. I’d like to think Trump isn’t as bad as Hitler was, but then I think about what we already know about him. Imagine the stuff we don’t know yet… and what will eventually be revealed in the wake of his presidency.

I don’t really claim to be very religious anymore. I suppose if I had to claim a religion, it would be Christianity. It’s been many years since I was last a regular churchgoer, but when I was growing up, I went every week. The messages I learned in church are contrary to what Donald Trump stands for. He’s all about making money and oppressing people who are weaker than he is. Deitrich points out that many people have felt like they have to leave the church in order to follow Christ’s teachings.

I’ve never been a big fan of contemporary Christian music, but I think I could become a big fan of Daniel Deitrich’s, especially if he continues to write such powerful lyrics to poignant, captivating melodies. If he’s not careful, he might make me a believer, too. I love the way the song ends… “Come home… come home… you’re better than this. You taught me better than this.” Amen.

And for those who also like Daniel Deitrich’s song, “Hymn for the 81%”, here’s an Amazon link so you can download it, too. Yes, I am an Amazon Associate, so if you download via my site, I do get a commission. But honestly, I’m sharing the link because I truly love the song and want to see it go even more viral.

Song parodies

Just because I’m still feeling inappropriate…

On my original Overeducated Housewife blog, I once had a post called “Big Pink Dildo”. It was inspired by a minor drama that erupted in the Stuttgart Yard Sales Facebook group. As a joke, one of the “wives” decided to put her used pink dildo up for sale. She asked $5 for it, and, as the picture revealed, it came “equipped with pubes”. Naturally, a lot of people got their panties in a wad over the “joke”, and one extremely uptight group member demanded that the jokester take down her inappropriate, unprofessional post, lest someone’s child see a pink rubber replica of a man’s genitalia.

The lady who had put the sex toy up for sale had evidently long ago stopped using it for its intended purpose. It appeared to me that the toy was repurposed as a dog toy. It looked like it had teeth marks on it, as well as some kind of hair. Maybe it was pubes… but it was more likely dog hair. I have included a photo at the end of this post.

I was so tickled by this drama that I decided to write a blog post about it. I also made up a parody song set to Joni Mitchell’s hit song, “Big Yellow Taxi”. I changed the words to “Big Pink Dildo”, and even made a video. For over a year, that public post sat undisturbed on my Blogger account. But then one fateful day, I got a message from Google, telling me that my content had been “flagged” for being “inappropriate”. The person who flagged it was a Google staffer in India. I noticed he haunted my blogs for weeks after that report. It was almost as bad as when I wrote a negative post about USAA and got haunted by their PR people for weeks. I am happy to report that I’ve mostly kept my nose clean since– at least when it comes to big companies like Google and USAA.

Ordinarily, it wouldn’t have been a problem to write such a post and include a photo of a chewed up sex toy, but I was running ads on Blogger and lacked the technological savvy to prevent the ads from running on that post. Advertisers don’t like it when their products are advertised on posts that have anything sexually explicit or pornographic in them, even if the post is just a joke and not actually pornographic, like mine was.

For over two years, I kept that post in draft mode, thinking I might eventually repost it. But then I did a purging of some stuff and decided to toss that post along with some others that had given me trouble. Now that I have my blog on my own domain and am not running ads, I figure it’s time I shared “Big Pink Dildo”, the hit song, again for my intrepid readers. I think it’s pretty good, even if I do say so myself. I sure had fun with the lyrics. Maybe I missed my calling. Sorry about the picture, but we all have to get our thrills somewhere, right?

I didn’t add pictures until the very end because, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how I could do so without being overly crass…
You know, it almost doesn’t look like a dildo… It’s like a pink stick with clown shoes… or something. I’m not sure if the seller ever managed to unload it. Looks like her dog enjoyed it, anyway.

Anyway, that’s my outrageous and inappropriate posting for today. We also went car shopping, which I detailed on ye olde travel blog.