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Woo hoo 2021 is almost gone!

I’ve inhaled so much vin rouge that I’m starting to look like grapes. Pic taken in Dusseldorf day before halloween.

Yes I’m still alive and, yes, I’m once again a bad, bad, bad blogger because I haven’t pressed fingertips to keyboard in a very long time. It’s not that I haven’t been doing cool things, I have. I just would rather zombie out in front of the TV or on the Internet than let my writerly self show herself. It’s the same with reading. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read, but eh I’d rather just sit and stare without the thinking part. That’s not entirely true because I promise you I have (in my head) written several blog posts (lol and created several storyline scenarios, most of which I’m better off not sharing), but for whatever reason I couldn’t muster the energy to bring them to life.

I think that pretty much sums up 2021 for me. It’s not bad, and it’s certainly not NOT living, but it’s been a going-through-the-motions kind of year. Get out and play a bit, but don’t bother processing because some other shit will come around and you’ll then have to process that too. Or something like that. Seeee, I can’t even process my right thought for this paragraph. So, yeah, 2021 be gone with you. You suck empty vaccine vials. And, yes, I’ve seen the memes, so I’m not putting any false hopes into 2022 either. I’m not going to risk blowing it.

And that’s that on my funk. Above all else (despite that I, along with much of mankind, am in one or more of the phases of Covid grief: someone is bound to be doing a study/paper on it) I am still a lover of life, and I do soooooo embrace the good that comes my way. So, here’s a list of the cool shit I’ve done since I last popped in and didn’t take the time to share:

  • We LOVED Malta; had an absolute wonderful time. I’m just going to dump all the pretty pics into one slide show, which is a shame because it truly deserved a blog post. I even sat on the rooftop terrace of our hotel room and wrote some of it, but let’s just start a new verb: I 2021ed it.
  • Dusseldorf with friends was also a lot of fun.
  • A week after Malta, we rented an old farmhouse in Epernay and had a great time with friends. My sister was supposed to visit, but lol she 2021ed it.
  • We did a few more Ardennes weekends with friends; always a great time that includes hikes and taverns — and fireplaces!
  • We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner where friends feasted in our cramped living room.
  • We toured Christmas markets in Durbuy, Luxembourg, Colmar and Strasbourg — magical despite Covid restrictions. We were going to do Germany too, but we 2021ed it (too many cancelations and rule changes). Oh and the Mons Christmas market (really it’s just another excuse to drink beer) is still going. The one in Brussels was 2021ed.

Above is the Malta photo dump to give you a break from my list of what I didn’t really write about. Malta is a magical place that, for us, was an affordable, much-needed break from our dark-skies reality.

  • Okay back to the list: Joe and I rented an old cottage/cabin/hut for hippie hobbits? in the Alsace region of France. The dwelling was an experience in the middle of a tiny ancient village. I’m amazed we didn’t scrape the sides of our Rav 4 in some of its alleyways (and we live in Europe, so we’re used to tiny, but these ‘streets’ shrink while you’re driving on them). I sooooooo loved it here and want to go back to visit more, especially when one can go wine tasting in the surrounding vineyards. My prized possession from here, however, is my pair of Beauty and The Beast candelabra bought at a little antique store. Oh wait, and I also bought a beautiful Alsatian clay roaster from a potter in another tiny village (but I 2021ed taking a pic of it). Basically if you’re an artist who’ll take the time to chat with me despite our language barrier, I’ll buy your stuff.
I LOVE these bad boys. If only they could flirt with me with their French accent. I bought the actual candles from a candlemaker in Strasbourg, another lovely artist I’m happy to have met. Alas, his work has burned gently into the night.

A very small taste of Luxembourg, Mons and Alsace. My phone still can’t take pics outside of Whatsapp. Random alert: OMG the home we stayed in had a hot tub encased by a plastic igloo with a hanging disco ball, flanked by a massive Buddha. I shit you not. Anyway, I dropped my phone in the hot tub (trying to do a champagne, Whatsapp selfie — with a phone that doesn’t work right, so yeah I’m not bright) AND can you believe the bits of it that work are STILL working. Soooo below pic is all I have of that. A 2022 goal is for me to break down and buy a new phone! And, yeah, I have a real camera that I’ve totally not even bothered to upload pics from — I’m THAT lazy.

BUT wait, who needs pics. Here’s the link to cottage on VRBO
  • On Christmas day, two of our friends came over for dinner, and we had a lovely time. No matter where I am in life, my home is always lit and warm for Christmas, which will stay that way through much of January. I need the lights, people. Same folk and maybe a few more will join us on New Years.
  • I’ve put some of my funk to use and re-worked my resume. I’m not leaving the organization I work for, but it’s time I invested in moving toward something new. I’ve talked about this for a while now, but I’ve finally invested some time in pimping myself out, and that in it’s own way makes me feel good about myself (productive maybe?). So, we shall see where that goes. And, for the record, I do actually enjoy my current job, but it’s nice to invest in oneself and take stock in all that I have managed to do in my work world (so yay me).
  • Oh my goodness we’ve binged so much television this past week. All great stuff, but going back to work on Monday is going to be a harsh reality without subtitles and soundtracks.

And, I think that’s all I can handle putting on the list. I’m sure there’s more — like all the other cool moments with friends or the video chats with my kids (oh how I miss them) — but this feels like a good spot to sign off until the next time I decide to share our bits. I wish you all love and warmth and laughs, lots and lots of laughs! Bonne Annee!

Remember no matter how poorly your plans may go, it’s never as bad as this poor guy ending his year (and um days) in a glass champagne bucket on a bar in Strasbourg. Although we totally get his perspective.

Midnight tomorrow night 2021 you will be 2021ed! Hallelujah!

Rain & Rainbows

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It’s been way too long since I’ve posted, and, of course, a lot has happened since August.  Work is super busy, and whenever I try to upload photos to this blog it seems to take me forever no matter what I do.  In big part it’s because of my shitty wifi.  I love where I live, but it has its issues.

Since I’ve last posted, I’ve had a visit from my Al Ain neighbor Haneefa (back in August), and we had fun on a weekend trip discovering Rotterdam.

Cubed houses and interesting street art just to name a few things to find in that city.

And, we’ve gotten plenty of play time right here in Belgium.  Mons had its annual Tanks in Town event, which is always a good time.

Plus, we’ve gone to plenty of fun dinners, concerts, fests on base (including Octoberfest!) and God only knows what other local shenanigans.  There’s always something going on; I just wish I took the time to post about them while they were happening.

The weather has been literally rainbows and rain, but the temps are still lovely.  Today it’s in the 70s (fahrenheit).  It makes for a good metaphor for my life as well.  Nothing bad has happened, but it’s that time of year when I’m just so slammed with work stuff.  It never seems to end, but it’s all good.  Kids are learning, and I’m still energized by them.IMG_E1327

Although sometimes it’s a little too much zap because I’m also exhausted!

I do so love this time of year though because you can feel the shift in season.  The chill is making its way in, and the days are darker longer.  I’m also getting ready for a bunch of visitors and festivities.  My sister and part of her family arrive Oct 23, then we’re off to Germany for a bit, then Shannan arrives for a good visit, and whallah we’ve got Thanksgiving and Christmas time upon us.  Aaron arrives Dec 16, and Kaylene and her crew arrive Dec 23, sooooo I’m all a jingle with holiday planning.

All of which gave me an excuse to visit Champagne country again.  Oh, how I love Epernay and Reims as well.

When there’s so much champagne to sip, water comes in warning bottles.

I’m totally in love with my new champagne bucket/table from the ‘widow.’ Veuve Clicquot champagne is famous thanks to a woman who made the best out of her husband’s passing, so, you know, I’m totally a fan (not that I want to off my husband).

AND for all my visitors, I’m all stocked up on most excellent champagne and wine.

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Oh and there’s goodies in my fridge and cave (basement storage room) too.  Bring on the good cheer!

Badger is hanging in there, but old age is kicking his hind quarters a bit, so we’ve ordered a doggie sling for him to help when he has to use our stairs.  That’s right folks, I’m buying handles, so I can carry my dog like a suitcase.  I’ll update his blog in a bit too since we want to get as many shots of him loving life while he is.  If the doctor keeps giving him morphine, I imagine he’ll hang in for quite a bit longer.  That dog totally digs being stoned.

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He’s also a lush because he keeps wanting to go to the bar across the street from Park du Poo.

Well, I’m sorry I’ve not shared too many details this time around on our travels or expat life.  Like normal life, sometimes we’ve just gotta hunker down and focus on what pays for all that fun.

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It’s all good though when the path we’re on is loaded with colors and cobblestone — and cafe sipping.  Good God do I love cafe sipping, even in the rain.

Fingers crossed I’ll post again soon.  Cheers to all of you!

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Escargot progress…

rain drops

Raindrops keep blocking the view of my basil plant in kitchen window — now try singing that to raindrops keep falling on my head; twas difficult typing it to that tune.  Yep, I’m even off key when I type sing.

It’s a lovely cool, rainy Sunday morning.  The perfect day for me to assemble another Ikea puzzle after I sip coffee, read and write a bit.  I’m all snuggled up on my comfy, corner yellow chair and embracing the fact that I have the next week off.  Normally, I’d book a weeklong adventure, but my big shipment from America is coming tomorrow, the plumber is coming tomorrow, and allegedly the Internet guy.  May it all pan out the way I hope it should!  I am going to visit my family in Germany later in the week though, and I’m sooooo looking forward to that.

So, I bought a car on Friday.  A cute little 2009 VW Golf diesel from a really nice Frenchman who also works on the base.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in buying a used car.  He did everything he was supposed to; I got it insured and did everything I was supposed to, and we met at the admin building to register the car in my name (something the previous owner did not have to stay for, but he did to help me out).  I feel great about buying this car.  Are you sensing a hiccup?  Yep.  Two numbers were wrong on the VIN number on my insurance card, “Sorry Madame, you must come back Monday with correct number on card.”  Monday is a busy day!  My car rental is the equivalent of $600 a month, and I just paid a few thousand for this ‘new’ car, so you can imagine I’m not liking the evaporating euros.  That said I wouldn’t be able to drive the car this weekend anyway because it has to sit in the parking lot until my tags arrive 5 to 15 days from when it’s registered.  Temporary tags do not exist here.  So, what’s an extra weekend?  I was never meant to save money anyway.  C’est la vie

     Before:  And Twingo is its Nameoh! Le rental.              After:  my poor baby waiting for me to rev her.

In September I went to a salon to get my hair done, which turned out to be worse than letting the roots grow out on their own, so my hair has been part witch, part “can you spare a coin?”  It’s a good thing I smile a lot because people would have run from me otherwise.  Anyway a coworker and new friend suggested I try her place out, which is in some god-knows-where village.  I met my friend 7:30 yesterday morning to follow her through the woods, the deathtrap construction, even alongside a canal, to the lil shop on the side of some curvy road.  Who in the hell does hair that early on a Saturday?  Turns out she needs to begin that early because this little shop gets busy, busy, busy, and for good reason.

Not only is the stylist known for her talent, but also the place is just what stressed out women need on a Saturday morning.  Her adorable attendants pamper you, while she works her magic (although Jill, my stylist in Arizona, and Gina, my stylist in Al Ain, if you girls are reading, you’re still my faves).  One guy takes my coat and serves me a Starbucks-worthy cappuccino, the other makes two sisters giggle and pretend orgasm (maybe it was real) while he massages their scalps.  Speaking of which, those two sisters didn’t speak much English, and I don’t speak much French, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time together — and I dare say they were two sexy mamas when they left the place.

There are two tables.  One where we women sit together while our colors are painted on; the other divided by a mirror where the stylist cuts and styles our hair — it’s sort of like a beauty salon whack a mole; she finishes one of us and another pops into a chair.  Meanwhile women cackle and tsk, tsk over the stories of their lives.  It’s the perfect set up, and my GPS better serve me well because if I can find the place,  I’ll go back again.  One day I might even know enough French to offer more than one or two word responses.

See, bathroom selfies are not just for online dating!  Thank God you can’t see the heap of clothes on the floor.

So, things are moving along, and I’m nestling into my version of normal.  Ohhh, I even bumped into a friend and chatted for a bit while lugging my old-lady shopping cart on a cobblestone street to get me some wine and goodies, so I’m turning into a local foreigner.

I’m relaxed and content, and that is exactly how things should be — anywhere in the world — on a weekend morning.  May you all be snuggly and well in your corners of the world.

 

 

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