Blog Archives

Smile … it’s summer!

The weather in our corner of Europe has been so lovely. Mostly sunshine, cool breezes and temps that don’t make us fantasize about air conditioning. So, we’ve been enjoying a lot of outdoor time.

Yesterday, while sipping some Maredsous at our favorite cafe pub, just loving life the way we do, nature bitch slapped us a little reminder. A flock of pigeons played chicken with our allegedly slow-moving traffic since it’s right near where diners and sippers sit. One got its neck snapped by an overzealous driver (Joe says his wife was arguing with him — I’m ignoring that hint). Another driver, got out, gingerly picked up the bird and scooped her to the side where she sadly twitched until she died. It was awful, but around 10 minutes later another pigeon flew to her side. He squawked and pecked to make her move.

“Aw look it’s her mate,” I cooed. “How sad, he’s trying to wake her.”

Then the bird jumps up and down on the carcass, feathers flying, but still no movement, so I shit you not: he humps his dead mate. What in the effity eff is that? Joe is dying; Badger is fascinated; I’m again mortified. Satisfied, Mr. Peckity Pecker flies off, a few minutes later another bird lands and does the same exact thing. This happens until another human kindly picks up the de-fowled carcass and throws it away.

This, my friends, is when I learn that a. pigeons are as messed up and cruel as we are (who knew necrophilia was a cross-species thing?), and b. that dead bird pretty much sums up 2020. Just when you think it’s bad; it gets more freaky.

Belgium, along with much of Europe, is battling the beginnings of our second wave. We now have to wear a mask pretty much everywhere (which I’m okay with) and keep our social circle to no more than 5 for the next 4 weeks. They are trying to avoid a complete lockdown, but our numbers are quickly rising. Within this timeframe, I’m going back to work — allegedly in the classroom with students, but I guess we shall see what the great pigeons in the sky have to say about that.

My sexy beasts a few minutes prior to settling down with the pigeons

Despite this being probably the worst year in a long time, Joe, Badger and I have managed to tune out the nasties going on in our world and mostly enjoy our summer. Our first stop was in wine country, Germany where we hiked grape-laced hills and sipped along romantic riverbanks.

We were off to a great start, until the Polezei pulled us over. Turns out our temporary tags on the new car expired (guess we should have looked!). Long story short: I talked my way out of getting our car impounded, and promised we’d manage a way back to Belgium to get our permanent tags. In the middle of the night, we ran like the bandits that we are and drove praying like mad that we’d make it to the Belgium border without another encounter with the law: whew! we did. But, we had to cancel our Black Forest and Austrian alps portion of our trip. It’s all good since the lady who owns the alps cabin said we could come during my next vacation instead, so no money lost there.

Once our tags came in, we got back on the road and visited friends in Bavaria, where we hiked and sipped some more.

Click here to see Badger’s pics and thoughts on our hikes.

After having fun with our friends there, we took off to spend a few nights in Poland (with friends) where we supported local artists by buying pottery (so much so, on my end, that lol I had to buy a cart to store some of it) and hiked some more. Our adorable rental also had an inflatable jacuzzi out back, so we got to sip outside and soothe our sore muscles at the same time. Perfection! Our hostess also suggested we take a dip in the “little lake” (a rock quarry) just a few minutes away. It’s mineral water, she said, so it would take 10 years off our age, so heck yeah despite the slippery climb down and the cold water, we dove in. Um, on our way out we saw the No Swimming sign — too late, party of 30 and 40 somethings (ahem) on their way to the jacuzzi.

We loved touring Grodziec Castle, it’s like a jungle gym for adults. Lots of towers and tunnels to climb through and plenty of fairy tale trails to get lost in, plus the museum end of it where you can pretend you’re a knight or princess. Next summer we’d like to tour more of Poland. The people are great, food is hearty and comforting, beer is good, and it’s surrounded by so much beauty. So, yeah Poland we heart you.

Of course we also love Germany; I’m still hoping I one day get a post there. But all is also well in Belgium.

The virus may be doing its damage, but Mons is still doing its best to spruce the place up for summer. No festivals or big parties, but they did decorate the Grand Place to make it beachy.

Temps are supposed to be in the nineties on Friday, so we’re contemplating another Ardennes trip since it’ll be cooler there, and we love it there too. What’s not to love about castles, woodsy hikes and beer. We wanted to go back to the Netherlands for a bit before I go back to work, but we’re afraid to cross borders right now. No sense in tempting fate in case they do close again, plus, to be honest, we’re just better off hunkering down in Mons. There’s plenty here to keep us amused.

And that’s about it on our end. Hopefully, the next time I pop in I can tell you all about how we managed to dodge a second wave.

Fall Break!

I’m off for a week and spending most of it in Germany.  Woo hoo!  I sooooooo need this time off to breathe and reflect and enjoy the beauty of living.  Joe and I joined some friends for a long but fun drive to Munich where we spent the weekend sipping, strolling and eating.  Today, Joe is off to Prague with the friends, and I am off to Hamburg to spend time with family.

I always love being in Germany, and I still hope to one day find myself getting transferred to a school here.  It won’t be much closer to most of my family since none of our locations are up north, but Stuttgart is near my niece and sister — so, fingers crossed, one day.

That is not to say I don’t also love Belgium.  Germany is just so much easier for me since, well, some of it is in my DNA.  I’m more at home here.

We were blessed with beautiful weather yesterday.  Munich is ablaze with autumn colors.

But the long, dark, cold, wet days are right around the corner.  I’m okay with those too because it means candles, hearty stews and soups (a fat girl’s heaven), and the holiday season — whoop whoop!

My sister Angie and some of her family are visiting from Virginia; we’ll meet up again today.  Her first few days here I was so busy with work I didn’t get much chance to enjoy time with them, so the next few days will be all about fun, family time.  We head back to Belgium on Halloween where I’m sure more fun will be had, and when they leave Shannan arrives to spend a few weeks with us.

Sooooo, I’ve got plenty of cheer ahead of me.

My only complaint is I won’t get to spend Halloween again with this little guy..

But, isn’t he adorable in the space suit I bought this summer?!  Cannot wait to see him in December!  He’s hobbling along now, so he’ll be running all over the Christmas markets.

Well, I’ve got to pack up and get myself ready for the train ride to airport.  Happy Halloween and Harvest cheers to all of you!

p.s. I’m including this photo only because it’s a rare good one of me (lol I’d make a terrible model with my crazy facial expressions).  Thanks to Joe for knowing the right angle to snap his wife at! AND, hello?  I’m outside in Munich this time of year without a jacket on — in short sleeves!

Family and Friends…

thumb_DSCN1904_1024

I’m a lousy blogger in that when I had down time I didn’t spend it writing about my wonderful vacation.  I did, however, use that time to sleep, shower, and thank the powers that be for the people in my life.

The last time I posted we had just arrived in Rothenburg om der Taube (or something like that), and oh what an adorable little town that was.  At night we walked the wall that surrounds it. Call us Game of Thrones freaks, but we kept chiming “You Know Nothing Jon Snow.”   Then we cruised on to Herrenberg to spend time with my niece and her beautiful family.  Her girls are just way too adorable, and she should be proud of the love that obviously surrounds her and her little ones.  We also got to spend the night in a tiny, tiny town where the church bells became hells bells for us during the 6 a.m. ring-forever chime.  After that it was on to Cologne where we had a lovely hotel room, which felt like an apartment and where we enjoyed way too much German hospitality — thanks to the best waitress on earth.  Cologne (Koln) is such a beautiful city, and my advice is to not miss it if you ever get to tour Germany.

Berlin after that, which was also a great time — with more food and drink (see a pattern here).  And, then, finally on to my family in Wedel, near Hamburg.  I’m a lucky girl who gets to travel all over the place, but nothing feeds the soul more than hanging with family.  And, I get to do it again when I visit in December.  I am sooo, soooo grateful for this.

I’m also lucky to have friends who’ve also become family, so seriously just go ahead and hate me now because yeah I’m that lucky.  I know I should tell you some of our stories — we have plenty of them — but I’m now back in Phoenix waiting for my daughter to wake up, so that we can go out to breakfast.  So, instead I’ll just blast you with some of our photos, which are all about family and friends.

yvonne

My cousin Yvonne and her two balls of energy.  I had so much fun playing with these two.

boys and me drinks

Charles, her husband, made us some braziian drinks — let’s just call it happy hour for now.

thumb_DSCN1922_1024

Lilly, my cousin Nicole’s, lil princess.

thumb_DSCN1898_1024

My aunt Birget, Lilly and Nicole.  we don’t look related at all, do we…. (why do I have the potato head?)

thumb_DSCN1894_1024

My uncle Michael and Ericka.

thumb_DSCN1879_1024

Shannan and me eating our gazzionth wurst on this trip

thumb_DSC08286_1024

thumb_DSC08268_1024 thumb_DSC08251_1024 thumb_DSC08227_1024

Birget serving my favorite German dish, Rolladen!  Jana’s boyfriend cooked us Polish ghoulash, Michelle’s fiance cooked us a roast pork with dumplings, Yvonne and hubby cooked us the German version of collard greens and ham, and oh my goodness were we fed and fed and fed by my family.  It all tasted so darned good.

thumb_DSC08221_1024

Michael in his man cave

thumb_DSC08204_1024

bike riding in Berlin

thumb_DSC08178_1024 thumb_DSC08152_1024

Pimp daddy Derek!

thumb_DSC08114_1024 thumb_DSC08097_1024

Warning sign on tour bus in Cologne

thumb_DSC08099_1024   thumb_DSC07870_1024 thumb_11709591_1015891528423034_8652060078930426680_n_1024 IMG-20150801-WA0006 IMG-20150801-WA0000 IMG-20150728-WA0014 IMG-20150728-WA0011DSC08054

My niece Jana and her oldest

DSC08063

Good God that’s just too much cuteness to handle

DSC08055

DSC08048

the wall by day

DSC08006

the wall with night walkers — before I took this pic with flash we couldn’t see them hiding there.  Almost gave me a heart attack.

2015-07-30 00.22.00

Schmetterling!  hahahaha that and WonderBra!  became our chant.

thumb_DSC07947_1024

we did a lot of this …. A LOT

thumb_DSC07921_1024

IMG-20150727-WA0002

My cousin Michelle is a tattoo artist.  I’m not a tattoo person, but I couldn’t resist being her canvas. Me before tattoo — really, really nervous about it.

IMG-20150728-WA0002

And very, very happy about it later. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and I will treasure it always.

tatt

And, Kaylene is awake!!!  Time to go get some grub.  I’ll try to do a better job of posting something or other while I’m in Phoenix, but of course I am also so very happy to be home with my kiddoes, man and dogs again.

%d bloggers like this: