Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The internet problem was what?

Yesterday the internet fix 'em up guy arrived just as I was contemplating having some lunch. I let my; smarter than I am with electronics computers and internet thingies, wife chat with the repair guy. He then disappeared down stairs for a bit and then went outside for a moment only to return and let us know he had found the problem and corrected it. The issue was the internet signal was too strong. This came as a surprise to me having grown up with the too much is never a bad thing school of thought. Well the internet seems to be working fine now although for how long is anybody's guess.

Last night was one of “those nights.” No matter how I positioned myself I just couldn't get comfortable. In addition to this my old brain just would not settle down. The last time I took a peek at my wrist watch it was flirting with four AM. Sooner than I would have liked the alarm went off and I crawled out of my nice warm bed.

I managed to change myself from a homeless looking guy to someone who was presentable in jig time. After giving my wife a peck on the cheek, I was outbound heading for the heart of the big city. I was doing lunch with my friend R down in Hogtown. The trip down to the city was relatively uneventful. I parked the truck at a mega mall and hopped on the subway. The hell I was going to drive down town.

Heading down on
the subway
Sooner than I expected I was at my friend's address. We chatted while he got ready then we headed over to the restaurant. Lunch was fine and the server even took pity on R and I, she charged us the seniors rate. I didn't know if I should be insulted or not so I chose the “or not” route and we had a good laugh about it.

OK I admit it there are few
nice things downtown

At least it was a nice day
After lunch R walked me over to the subway where we shook hands and promised to meet again for lunch in the spring. The trip home was shorter time wise for some reason. Well I wasn't going to worry about it, I was out of that place. It looks like the older I get the less I like going to big cities. It's not that the big city is a bad place exactly, I guess it's the amount of people and my experiences of dealing with large groups when things go wrong.

On the way home
 Well that's my little adventure for today. Until tomorrow enjoy the warm temps as long as you can. Bye-bye...

Monday, 20 November 2017

The weekend that was

Friday after the blog was put to bed, I went into town with my lovely wife to see our travel agent then get a few things grocery wise. Our first stop in town was for some sustenance. We had lunch at a nice little restaurant then we paid a visit to our travel agent a few doors over.

After giving our agent a sit-rep on the trip we told her the game plan for next year. The game plan is to head out west for our fortieth. The options are seeing the Rocky mountains from the Rocky mountaineer train then head on to Vancouver where we will see a few friends, have some laughs the usual. Plan B is a few days in Vancouver then do an inside passage Alaska cruse. There was a plan C but I'll be damned if I can remember what it is. Well we shall see what she manages to come up with. 

After seeing the travel agent we headed over to the supermarket to pick up a few things. They had some good sales on so we picked up some extra stuff for the larder. After dinner that evening I vacuum packed the club packs and stored the stuff away. I have to say it's nice to have a full freezer at the beginning of winter, this whole going out for food in a storm thing sucks. 

Saturday was a nasty day dawning overcast with the threat of rain. On the plus side was the temperature topping out at around seven degrees. I texted my friend S and set a time to go over and work on the flat roof. Just after I sent the text I thought to look at my weather app. The time we had agreed upon was around two in the afternoon. As per the weather app radar the rain storm I was expecting and thought would be later, was going to arrive at the same time I would going to be at S's place. I contacted S again and moved the time up.

My weather app
doesn't mince words
I got over to S's place around one and as I pulled into the driveway it started to mist. I rousted S and we hustled, got the ladder up and I was climbing in short notice. I scaled the ladder only to find that we were too late, roof was covered in a sheet of ice. I cleared the little bit of plant debris that was left around the drain as best I could as the mist turned to a light rain. With all that I could do done S and I put the ladder away. We chatted for a few minutes then I was off for home. 
What it was like when I turned in on Saturday

This was what the world looked like on Sunday morning

Home, and this is where I've been hiding since my excursion into the wild yonder. On Saturday evening the weather turned from yucky to nasty and by Sunday there was three or four inches of snow on the ground. I was happy, all cocooned at home as snug as a bug in a rug. The only issue we had was the Internet. It had started to go up and down like a (pardon the expression) whore's drawers. I was thinking it was the modem issue and wanted to swap it out but my smarter than I wife called the Internet company. Turns out there was some fluctuation on the line, what ever the heck that means, so the Internet guy placed a work order and some time today a Internet fix 'em up guy will pay us a visit. Here I sit, sipping my coffee wondering when the Internet fix 'em up guy will pay us a visit.

That's all I got for today. Until the morrow Bye-bye from up here in the Great White North.

Note tomorrow's post will be late. I'm off to the big city for lunch with an old friend.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Life returns to normal

Life has returned to normal around here. The day after we returned home, my wife and I went and picked up our kitty from S who had been looking after her. I was in favor of holding off until Saturday but my wife was going through kitty withdraw. OK, fine, I'll admit it, I was going through a little kitty withdrawal too. Anyway... That evening we took S out for dinner to a nice little Italian place in town. Then we dropped by her place after dinner and picked up Puttie Tat.

Then next day I started on the winter preps with a vengeance because the clock was ticking. The last lawn mow didn't happen because the starter on the old lawn tractor went south. I'll fix it in the spring, it's gotten to damn cold to be working on starters in the drive way.

I did manage to get all the other little jobs done. The snowblower is all ready to go, batteries in the smoke detectors were swapped out, the interior storms are up and the exterior screens are down. 

I got the winter tires on the truck put on and an alignment done. That was another fun day. While I was at the shop the service guy calmly dropped the ball joint bomb on me. The front driver's side ball joint was toast. I had budgeted the money for the alignment and tire swap but this smacked me from right out of the blue. Smiling on the outside and grimacing on the inside, I gave the OK for the work. It was a good thing too because a few days later we had the first snow storm of the season. 

One big job I was happy to get finished was deploying the humungus sized tarp along the side of the house. My wife wants a flower garden and path next year so using the tarp is the first step in killing the vegetation in that area. I've got to sat that because of the size (30'X50") I should have held off until my wife was around but I didn't want her to hurt her back any more than it was. Oh, and yes there was a little cussing that took place during the operation.

After the killer cold and snow I had the opportunity to do a little areal work over at S's place. S worries about leaf build up effecting the water drainage so being the gallant guy I am I promised to get rid of as many leafs as I could. It's not like S couldn't do the job but she has a history of bad luck with heights. 

Using a roof rake to pull off the leafs
Chivalry only goes so far,
I left this for S to deal with
The first attempt ended early because of the cold. The water on the roof had frozen up nicely and short of getting up there with a big ice scraper/pick and risk damaging the roof, it wasn't going to happen. I let it sit for a few days and after the temperature returned to something resembling normal I was back at it. I didn't get all of it but I did put a serious dent into the leaf population. 

Yes we had a little cold
and snow
There were other minutiae that happened since we got home but they really aren't worth the time to write about. So that's about it from me for now. It's Friday and I'm taking the weekend off so this is it until Monday. Bye-bye...

Thursday, 16 November 2017

“And then there will be one last perfect day.”

The clock was running down to zero, this was the last full day of our visit. Today we were going to see the Giessen Gang in the afternoon for coffee and pastries then out for a late dinner. I was looking forward to seeing them all.

The trip into Giessen was fine and when we got to our destination there was a bit of a challenge in finding the entrance to the apartment building. That was solved when our host U came down to shepherd us in.

Our host U
Afternoon coffee was a delightful affair. When we walked in to U's apartment there were hugs and hellos all around. Of all the people there the one I was really looking forward seeing was Tante Inge. She was the one who opened her door to us the first time I visited Germany. A fun filled feisty lady if ever there was one. 

Tante Inge

A light cake
Seriously look at the size of the wedge B cut for me...

Shortly after our arrival coffee and cake was served. Oh my, the chef, B, had out done herself. The cake that was served was out of this world. Of course B had to carve me out a huge wedge which, I'm sorry to say, I couldn't finish but such is life. The afternoon conversation was fast and I had to keep begging for translations but surprisingly after being in country for over two weeks I was getting the gist of a lot . 

B's little boy S chatting
Missing from the menagerie was B's son, daughter and significant other R. I'm sorry we missed R because I wanted to catch up but he was feeling under the weather. I also missed seeing S who was B's little girl. She's one of those people that just lights up a room with her witty repartee. B's son was absent because he was working, mind you that didn't stop him from coming by for a short chat. He made me laugh when he pulled the ambulance into the parking lot lights and sirens ablaze.

After coffee was done we sat around and gabbed for a couple of hours then it was time to head out for dinner. We were eating at a real medieval castle. It was the first time since we had entered Germany that I had the chance to have honest to God schnitzel, no pizza tonight. Our host for the day, U, insisted on picking up the cheque. I have to say that I am forever in her debt because this was a wonderful event with great food and awesome people. Sooner than I wanted it was time to head back to L&J's place. There was packing to get done and sleep to be had. 

One last sunset

The restaurant entrance
The last morning broke to a grey fog covering the landscape. One last hearty meal and we saddled up. L couldn't come with us to the airport so hugs, goodbyes were given on the doorstep. With J at the helm we were off. Once at the airport there were no long lingering goodbyes which was just as well, I hate people seeing me with tears in my eyes. 

A grey dawn to match my grey mood

Chasing the sun
The lights of home
The flight home was fine and that night after an eleven hour trip and a hour and a half drive we were home.

That's it for now. To the gang in Germany, if we missed seeing you I'm sorry but there was only so much time and so vast an area to cover. We will, in a few years, return so hopefully the logistics will get straightened out and we will all party together.

That's it for me until the morrow so until then bye-bye.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Counting down the clock

The twenty fourth came as a bit of a surprise. I was up at the usual time when it dawned on me that our time in Germany was fast coming to a close with so much still to do. There were presents to buy for the kids back home and one special group yet to see and spend time with. Today's exercise was to visit Marburg for gift shopping. 

I've been to Marburg numerous times over the years and it still hasn't lost any of it's magical charm. The city has been around for a while having been founded in 1140AD. Today we were bound for the Marktplatz (marketplace) to do some shopping. J was staying home because he been unlucky enough to catch L's cold. L, being a woman, had simply taken her cold in stride and was soldiering on.

Wondering in and out of the shops
The trip in was a quick one since we weren't that far away and L was driving. L works in Marburg so there was no “find the parking spot” game, she simply drove to her workplace and parked. Then we were off, all we had to do was climb the steps to the shops and have at it in the stores. Hey there was only several hundred meters of very steep incline to traverse, no problem.
Just your friendly
neighborhood Spiderman
I got to the top and after my heart rate returned to something approaching normal and I had stopped heaving for breath, I started to look around. The shops were all cozy affairs with plenty of selection. This meant I did a lot of standing around while the ladies fussed over this or that trinket. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. In short order the ladies were done and we were simply walking around gawking at the sights. Looking back I only made one mistake in this shopping expedition, I should have visited the whisky shop. I had saved my whisky shopping for the duty free at the airport and while the deals were good the selection sucked. 

The one that got away. Next time I promise to visit.
Shopping done we were off for L&J's humble abode with another day's adventure completed. One more adventure then it would be time for our trip home.

L relaxing after a long day of walking
Well that's it from me, until the morrow bye-bye.

Monday, 13 November 2017

No rest for the wicked

While I was content with lounging around sipping fine scotch and enjoying myself, our hosts had other plans and those plans included sightseeing. After a nice breakfast, over which the days excursion was explained, we were bundled into L's SUV and sped off. Our destination was the city of of Darmstadt. A city that our host J knew very well since he was born there.

The trip there was made at a moderate speed (one hundred and sixty or so) since J was at the helm. When we got to Darmstadt we played the ever popular “where to find a parking spot” game but in the end J managed. Out on foot the world was ours to gawk at.

St. Mary Magdalene Chapel
Exploring the grounds
One of the places we visited was the the Mathildenhöhe also known as the wedding tower because, well, they do a lot of weddings there. The area was very pretty even if it was an overcast day. We walked around the grounds for a while and looked at the St. Mary Magdalene Chapel. The Chapel was named in honor of the patron saint of Tsar Nicholas' mother and was built of Russian stone on Russian soil brought to Darmstadt by train. It was used by the Russian imperial family and court during regular visits to the Tsarina's brother and family in Darmstadt. Of course after walking around the grounds our hosts wanted to take us inside the tower. 

So many views, so little time
Once inside the wedding tower we waited for the elevator and J calmly announced that he wass going to walk up the seven stories. Then he asked me if I wanted to join him. Before I could tactfully phrase a reply, the stupid seventeen year old part of my brain says “Sure, lets go!” As I slugged my way up those seven long stories I silently, and very eloquently, cussed out that seventeen year old brain part. The view of the city from the top of the tower was great and it only took five minutes or so for my lungs to stop heaving, but I made it. After sightseeing from the tower We went back to the SUV where J piloted us over to a spot nearer to the Ducal Palace. 

The view from the top of the tower
On the grounds at the Ducal Palas
We wandered through the Schlossplatz (a market square) where we stopped and had a coffee to warm up. It was there that I surprised my wife by having a bowel of Kürbis suppe (pumpkin soup) to warm up. 

Then it was over to the Ducal Palace where J showed us around the grounds. Before we left he insisted we wander over to another part of the palace grounds and look at “the tree.” The tree was located in the central courtyard and when I first saw it I thought it would be right at home in the Hobbit shire of middle earth. He was right, the tree was way too cool. 

The Tree
By this time the light was fading and it was time for dinner so L&J treated us to a nice little dinner at another Italian restaurant.

One never knows what goes through the mind
of a person like J  :^)
Dinner done we wandered around a bit then headed for the barn. All warn out (thank you seventeen year old hind brain) I went to bed early. 

That's about all for now, until tomorrow bye-bye.

Friday, 10 November 2017

The booming metropolis of Ginseldorf

The first day or so at L&J's place was nice and restive, a time to recharge the batteries as it were. Don't get me wrong, the other places we stayed at were great with a lot of fun adventures being had however now it was a time to slow down a bit. One of the first things that came to mind after when we got there was the noise, or lack there of. L&J's home was in a quiet little one shop village where, on a busy day, there might be as many as three or four cars moving on their street. Their place was on the end of a street at the edge of town bordering on farm fields. It was very nice to be there.

The first day when we got there L made an amazing meal and of course I had to throw a wrench into the works because I'm a... Well I'm sure there are children who read this so I will not go into great detail as to what a horses ass I was. I made mention that I'm not fond of crustaceans AKA shrimp. I've just never found the taste and texture palatable. I could have eaten around the crustaceans but our host L went and brewed up a different sauce just for me. While I did feel bad about it I also enjoyed the meal, it was delicious.

Our first full day at L&J's found us not doing very much. I considered it a rest and recharge day. In the middle of the afternoon J announced that he was off to get some pastries for an afternoon snack and asked if I wanted to join him. Did somebody say pastries? Up, shoes on and out; in a flash we were in J's car outbound.

So J says "Pick something", sure... decisions, decisions...
Time's up J steps up and does the picking. Have to say
his choices were excellent.
One of the things I miss when I return home is the assortment of bakeries there are in Germany. The first thing that hit me when we entered the bakery was the visual of all the cakes, pies and other goodies. J asked me if I had any preferences and, for one of the few times during the trip, I was tongue tied and couldn't answer. J smiled then turned and made his order. 

When we got home, over coffee we four polished off the goodies in nothing flat. It was just good manners that prevented me from licking the plate.

That evening L&J took us out to one of their favorite haunts, a little Italian restaurant where we had been before. The meal didn't disappoint and the only issue I had was there was too much food. I figured if I ate like this on a regular basis I'd be the size of a Buick. I had to be all but rolled out the door and when we got back to L&J's place while the others chatted I fought to stay awake and ended up going to bed early. 

Dining with L&J is always an... interesting event.
The biggest issue is trying not to laugh while eating.
Well that's the end of another episode of my life. No blog tomorrow, I will be back on Monday with another installment. Have a good weekend.