31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 11

Me: What should I write about?

BV *flipping through local magazines and generally procrastinating instead of putting another coat of varnish on the hallway floor*: Write about spring in ‘Schland.

Me: That’s general and I’ve kind of done a lot of that. What else?

BV: Write about *insert several other suggestions here*

Me: You are not helpful right now. Weren’t you going to varnish that hallway again tonight?

BV: … *flips through more pages*

… *several minutes pass* …

BV: Aww!

Me: Ooooh, is it a dog? (There are often dogs up for adoption at the local Tierheim in the magazines.)

BV: Nope… look!

He handed me the magazine and at the bottom of the page was a picture of a woman seated in a chair with an accordion. Next to her, stood a goat.

Me: What’s with the goat?

BV: No idea. Didn’t read the whole thing, but there’s some culture program.

Me: I have questions. Does the goat figure into her act?

BV: *flips through more pages*

… *several more minutes pass* …

BV: Alright, I’m going. Write about goats.

Me: *starts typing furiously*

We need a goat. I think this would be a much better choice than even those robot lawnmower things. I would also accept a duck or goose, as those eat bugs and function as guard dogs, but I think a goat would be the preferable choice. I also have aspirations of one day learning how to make cheese, and this would save us a small fortune because we buy A LOT of goat’s cheese. We’ll also need a cow, and possibly a sheep. All of these animals will fit very well in the small mountain house that we someday acquire for Euro pennies, and we shall grow geraniums and make cheese. It will be excellent.

I already know that we’re both very good with goats, as last summer a goat tried its best to befriend us. BV won’t let me post the pictures where the goat tried to make out with him, but he definitely got licked. A lot. Running back down to the car when he realized that he had forgotten his jacket a few kilometers below, and then back up again, had apparently made him extra salty. But here you can see the goat in question checking out our gear when we stopped for a break.


It was a good thing BV had gone back for his jacket though, as our return trip was decidedly misty. But the goats still emerged from the fog to join our pack. We are natural herders, it seems.

Closer to home, there is a garden patch nearby here that is also home to a goat. Sometimes.

What does that mean? I don’t know exactly, but I have questions.

It’s a little garden plot in the forest, with two small structures on it. One is more garden-house style, but extremely *ahem* rustic. The other looks a bit like a chicken coop.

On my usual walking route, I pass by at least a few times a week this time of year. There is almost always an elderly man there on Sundays, with a small hatchback car. When he is there, there is also a goat.

The chicken coop-looking structure is certainly large enough to fit this goat, which is a decent sized animal. Much bigger than those little guys above. However, it’s nowhere near big enough for him to live in there full-time. Additionally, I’ve never heard a peep of noise when walking past and the man isn’t there. And you bet I have paused, tried to make some noises, just to determine if anything might be in the coop besides chickens (which are sometimes knocking about when the man is present, too).

So where does this goat live? Does he live in the coop? Does he live in the rustic house and just not get out much? Does he travel with the man in the car on Sundays to this garden plot? Does he travel in the car generally speaking?

In which case…

Where does this man live the rest of the time? Does he have a house with enough space to afford a goat to live with him? In which case, why this little garden plot? Does he live in a flat with a goat? What does the goat do all day? Do they travel around and have adventures? Is he some sort of emotional support animal? Does he detect if the man’s blood sugar is too high or low like those diabetes-detecting dogs? Does he do tricks? Do they perhaps go to children’s birthday parties?


I’ve been walking past this… situation for quite awhile now, in case you couldn’t tell. I’ve given this a lot of thought. But the mystery remains.

Well now. Goats, sheep, and yes, CATS. What other animals should I tackle during the May writing challenge which is unintentionally becoming animal-themed?


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.


31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 9

*Sweet sigh of relief*

I love May. Tomorrow is yet another public holiday, in this case Ascension Day/Father’s Day, and officially my first day of a 12-day break. We started the party this evening, with an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses for dinner, with a hefty bottle of Teroldego to get us ready for next week in South Tyrol.

BV has got a day up on me though, as he had today off too. Since we finally had all the cats (CATS) out of the way, he got started on a couple of things that we need to do which are basically impossible with a pet. Before my parents visited several years ago, we laid down some pressed wood in the hallway, after we had a water incident and had to toss the laminate. However, we put it down just a day or two before they arrived, and didn’t have time to properly seal it. And with the cat, we nearly never had more than a day or two with her out of the house to take care of it. So that was step one. BV sanded the wood, and sealed one half of the length. Hopefully tomorrow it’ll be ready to seal the other side, as we do need to able to walk on at least half of it to get around the house.

It was also a good opportunity to open up all the windows and get some air circulating in here. I plan on some fairly intense vacuuming, which is easier without cats flying in every which direction. In a perfect world, I’d drag out the piles of stuff that I want to put up for sale online, but I feel like that’s a multi-day, preferably BV out of the house task. I’ll settle for a decent deep clean of the pantry and some bathroom tile scrubbing, in the meantime.

Then it’ll be the usual ritual of pre-trip laundry, and the packing of stuff. The forecast for our week isn’t looking too hot, so it’s going to be a lot of layered hiking gear, and a pile of books in case it really does rain all day every day. Cross fingers and press thumbs, if you don’t mind.


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Writing Challenge 2018: Day 8

Prompt: The perfect writing conditions

For starters, not this.

This post is coming a bit earlier today as we’re leaving shortly for a rare midweek evening out. Normally I would have hunted for the end of the internet in full procrastination mode as I’ve done on the previous days, and hit publish shortly before midnight, but today we’ve got things to do.

First problem with the current writing conditions is that I’m bushed. I slept for crap because (sorry, again with the CATS) the Three Thundercats of the Apocalypse made the all-night party last night. Tuesdays are a 6:30 am wake up time for both of us, as we drive to work together, making sure to leave by 7:35 at the latest or risk the horror of the daily Stau on the Südwesttangente.

I teach three classes in this company every Tuesday. Today’s crowning achievement was being so tired that I grabbed the thick, dark blue folder for my Monday class instead of today’s groups, so I got to do fun things like have everyone sign a random sheet of paper for attendance instead of the official form. With any luck, everyone will be present the last two weeks of the month so I can correct it then. If not, *shit happens.*

Normally I’m then finished, but instead today I had managed to squeeze in an individual student who normally meets Wednesdays but has been super busy. That meant hopping a bus to a subway, then running to shove a Korean beef bowl in my face because I was famished, before grabbing another subway to a train and finally to her company.

We had our lesson and then it was back on the train, to another subway, to another subway, to  my train home. I. Am. Tired.


Our friend S. is back from his travels, and since our Marry will be hanging out with him while we’re gone, we’re taking the party over to this place tonight. That means as soon as I finish typing this, it’ll be time to wrangle all of them into their respective boxes and hope for the best. Currently BV is running around collecting errant toys, scooping litter boxes, and readying everything for transit. He’s a good egg, but it’s not the best environment for concentration.

S. invited us to hang out and watch the Eurovision semi-final tonight, and I am looking forward to that. I was somewhat brokenhearted when I realized that the finale was this Saturday (I thought it was at the end of the month for some reason), and we’re invited to friends for dinner. She’s a great cook, but EUROVISION! Oh well, I suppose I can get the highlights on YouTube afterwards.

I’ve been thinking a lot about taking some time off one of these days to try to do some more serious writing. In my mind I know the exact place that I’d want to go. I *think* it would be pretty ideal, as I can get there by public transport, we’ve stayed there before and I know it has everything I’d need to function for a few days. Plus, nature, hiking and mountains right out front. However, he’s almost always booked up, and I’d need to find a decent week (or so) that I could get away without sacrificing too much work. The joys of freelance life, my friends. But this has been bouncing around my head for months now, so maybe it’s worth actually trying. Can the ideal situation really make a difference? Or do I need the chaos of flying furry creatures, BV wandering through with watering cans, and the rooster next door being permanently confused about what time it is? Guess I’d have to try it to find out.

Now, to round up the herd.


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 7

Prompt: Have you ever witnessed something miraculous?

Miraculous to me always conjures up headlines and tabloid pictures of people who think they saw the face of Jesus in a slice of toast ala Glee. I’m not sure that I believe in actual “miracles,” the kinds of things that people go on pilgrimages and pray for, or where loaves and fishes multiplied to feed the masses. Frankly, a Jane the Virgin-style medical mishap miracle seems much more likely, and that’s supposed to be straight out of a telenovela.

However, I do believe in tiny miracles. If I were the type to keep a gratitude journal, here are some of things that I’ve seen that fall into that category.

  1. Running up the train station stairs just as the train starts to pull away, and it stops for you. It happened once, and it was AMAZING.
  2. The way that the owner at our favorite Greek restaurant will move mountains and people to find us a table, reservation or not.
  3. How a friend currently half a world away and I can be reading the same book at the same time. It’s a few years old now, so it’s not like we both hit the “new releases” table. But she finished already so now I’m behind… it’s supposed to get pretty rough, so I’m saving it for next week’s vacation when I can emotionally invest.
  4. When a student self-corrects themselves on a longstanding error for the first time. Of course, it was less miraculous a few minutes later when the person next to him made the mistake. But the jokes about contagious errors were pretty funny.
  5. Receiving a wedding thank you note that contains an uncommonly good candid picture of you and your significant other.
  6. The day my great-grandma’s birthstone ring fit me for the first time since she gave it to me years ago.
  7. Waking up to pictures of people from my TEFL course meeting up all these years later and in all sorts of locations.
  8. The first time BV made a joke from The Office. Such a proud day.
  9. When we went to BV’s dad’s for lunch, and had added avocado to his usual salad of cucumbers and a crazy amount of onions. If that’s my only contribution to his culinary repertoire, that’s something.
  10. Snagging a chair at the Cafe Wanderer Bieramt on a sunny day. I will happily sit on the ground, but I’m old enough to prefer a chair, particularly in skirt season.


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Writing Challenge 2018: Days 5/6

Prompt: Where you can be found on a Saturday morning

See now, I jinxed myself. I said I wouldn’t write about cats again and what happened? CATS.

BV and I had a tentative plan to go down south to a town in the hops growing region of Hallertau yesterday. Since he finally got himself a pair of Lederhosen and I have a shiny new Dirndl, we thought that a Saturday trip to watch them put up a Maibaum would be a great excuse to wear our new duds. But then, cats.

Milo pretty much spent all night making noise on Friday. He started when I wrote the post on Friday and didn’t let up until the wee hours of Saturday morning. Needless to say, we didn’t get a lot of sleep. When we finally peeled ourselves out of bed, we decided that there was no way we could handle getting the shopping done and then hopping on a train anywhere.

Instead, our Saturday was spent how Saturdays in Germany are usually spent. Since nothing is open on Sundays, I put together the projected meal plan for the week, and we went to the store. BV’s parents were coming over today, so we ensured that we’d have enough meat to keep the grill full. Then it was cleaning, and a bit of garden work. We had grand plans to scrape the sidewalk clean but it got late, and we got lazy. BV washed the windows, and I raked up a bunch of dead grass and pulled out more rogue hops vines and stinging nettle. That was quite enough work for me, so I rewarded myself with sun + beer + book time.

We also decided that since it was Cinco de Mayo, we should probably eat something Mexican-ish, and I made the most absurdly large pan of nachos possible for two people. Plus margaritas, because those are always a good choice.

Feast mode

In case you’re curious, I more or less followed this recipe. We’ll be having these again, though I will definitely be cutting it in half unless we’re expecting a pro football team.

Nacho feast, drinks, and a couple of movies later, it was well past midnight and my writing hadn’t gotten done. Time is of course the usual problem with any challenge like this, and this weekend was a good reminder that I’ll have to set myself time to do everything I need to get done. If fairies could come deal with the dishes, that would be extremely helpful.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 4

Prompt: What question would you most like answered?

So many possibilities here. Since the beginning of time, humans have questioned every aspect of the known world, and what lies beyond. But today? The only thing I can think about right now is OH MY GOD WHAT IS WITH THIS CAT?

Deep thoughts here. Deep thoughts.

As mentioned the other day, we’re cat-sitting at the moment. In the last two days, Milo has begun venturing out during daylight hours, and today we had a breakthrough. I managed to lure him out of hiding with some treats, and I even got in a few solid pets. As long as I’m not moving too quickly, he’ll now come up to me. But it seems that some sort of bridge has been crossed. He’s gotten chatty.

Earlier this evening, the other two cats were out on the balcony. They were both particularly alert, and I thought I heard some loud rustling down in the garden. We have a fair few neighborhood cats that pass through, so perhaps it was that, or a rambunctious bird. A few minutes later, I heard what sounded like the faint calls of a caterwauling cat a few houses away. And now, Milo chats. Loudly. At length.

The other two seem mostly unfazed by this, though even as I type this, Marry d.K. crept from her bed and stalked into the hallway. He’s been chatting for a good 20 minutes straight now, so I’m not sure how she just noticed but it’s all I can hear.

I mean really, who can possibly think about life’s big questions with anything making this kind of noise?

Maybe we should be flattered… S. said that he can get loud, but it took him a few months in his new home to get that comfortable. So, good for us?

Mia is all tucked up on the couch with me, and Marry has now disappeared. I suspect she’s sought refuge with BV but I’m really not sure how anyone is going to get sleep tonight. I’ve been using an eye mask but I haven’t got any earplugs and those would come in handy right about now.

And with this post, I solemnly swear that I will not mention cats for at least two days. I may be too tired to do anything for those two days either way, if this racket keeps up.


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.


31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 3


The Day We Met Sheep Cat

Every relationship has their own unique, often completely bewildering inside jokes. This is about one of ours.

Long-time readers may recall that in this challenge last year, some of my posts took place in South Tyrol. We just booked ourselves a week there this month too, and that got me flipping through pictures in eager anticipation.

On a particularly hot day on last year’s trip, we decided to try to reach an Alm partway up a nearby mountain. Our host was unsure whether or not they’d be open yet, since the official summer season hadn’t begun, but we figured it would be worth the hike either way. We packed our backpacks with some extra snacks and set off.

It was rather a long walk to the other side of town just to find the trail head, and with the sun beating down on us, the steep ascent was a bit more than we had bargained for. Not unexpected, when you come back from a particularly lazy winter (and partially why I’ve been extra vigilant about getting steps and yoga in before this trip).

The forest trail to get up here was much steeper than the road. MUCH. But shorter!

By the time we reached a quiet barn perched high on the hill overlooking the local lake, BV had stripped off his shirt and converted his pants to shorts. I’d been shedding layers as well, though we ladies have some limitations on that front. Nearby the barn we found another directional sign that indicated we still had a good two hours to go to our intended destination, and our legs were already aching. Looking at the view in front of us, we figured it couldn’t get that much better, so why not just hike a bit further up to that grassy green hill, gaze out over the lake, and have our snack here?

Legs rested and snacks consumed, it was high time to put our feet into some of that glorious water we’d been gazing at. We were just packing it in when we heard distant sounds from the barn back below us. Though we hadn’t seen any vehicles or indication that there were people there besides ourselves, there must have been a shepherd napping somewhere nearby.

Looking down, we saw a few dozen sheep streaming out from the front of the barn into the pasture. And among them, a small black spot. It ran around, and our first thought was that it was a sheep dog. But it seemed too small to be any kind of sheep dog that I’ve ever seen. So naturally, we came to the conclusion that this barn had something very special indeed. Why that was a sheep cat! Amazing! Cats are basically useless creatures in the average home, but somehow the owner of this barn had trained a cat to use its feline sensibilities to herd sheep!

What can I say? We were far above the barn and it was a very small dot.

As we hiked back down the road and got closer, we searched the field for the magical sheep cat. And what did we see?

Yeah. We be dumb sometimes. It was hot… can I blame sunstroke? Of course it was a lamb.

But still, this was the day that SHEEP CAT! was born.

Watching the Great British Bake Off and see a shot of lambs frolicking in a field, with a black one in the mix? SHEEP CAT.

See a black cat anywhere near livestock (we live in a village, this happens a lot)? SHEEP CAT.

We go hiking on the same route in a week or so and see one black sheep up in this pasture? Damn right, SHEEP CAT. I for one, cannot wait.


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 2

Prompt: What natural talents do you have?

Procrastination. I am goddamn gifted when it comes to procrastination. How do I know this? Because when ‘procrastination’ was the first thing that leapt to mind when I read this prompt, my reaction was incredibly appropriate.

Let’s break it down. I read the prompt and titled the post at about 10pm. I then clicked out of this tab, and into my gmail. I noticed that one of my recent unread emails was from the New York Times and was a special subscriber offer on ‘How to Whip Your Home Into Shape’. Was this the best time to click on that? I’m supposed to be writing for 15 minutes after all…. no… it wasn’t. Did I? Damn right. I’m now registered and expect my home to be sparkling just as soon as I get this cat off my lap and reorganize my shower caddy. That’s tip one. I’m on it… shortly.

After I finished my registration and quick perusal of the first tasks, I wondered if I wrote about my gift of procrastination when I did this challenge last year. Since all the titles are just like this one, the dates of the project, OF COURSE, I had to skim all 31 entries to find if I already covered this. Not so much, so here we are.

I also procrastinated by wondering if it would be too obvious to just skip covering this prompt by writing about cats again, which is what I did last year on day two. Coincidentally, we are cat-sitting again this week, which means that there are three cats sneaking around the house at the moment. Our friend S. is on tour again, and his usual cat-sitter (now that he has two cats again and leaving them at home is easier), is also on vacation, so we’re hosting Mia and Milo. Mia is her usual party-time, cuddle-loving self, but Milo has taken up firm residence under the bed in our spare bedroom. He’s stalked through the common areas after nightfall, and I busted him twice now on the catio, so he’s getting a little activity. Since he spent the first several weeks of his life with S. living under the bed, we’re taking this as a good sign.

Look at that, I did write about cats again.

I realize that being talented at procrastination is not the most flattering things to say about yourself, but I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about what it is that I’m good at. I’m still not entirely sure. There are aspects of my job that I think I’m good at… I’m quick, can adapt to the needs of the group easily, am flexible when they come in with something unexpected, but I don’t think I’m the kind of teacher that lights the world on fire with my industry-changing methods.

A lot of my procrastination time is spent in inventing these fantastical scenarios about hypothetical life scenarios. This is not exactly a useful hobby, though it is fun to think what we could do with a little Bavarian farmhouse that we find for dirt-cheap and can renovate and turn into a place to make cheese and grow geraniums, maybe even falling into jobs in the area doing things like hiking and taking pictures that someone miraculously pays me for. Daydreaming is a great procrastination method, but then I get all bummed out that there’s no logical way that anything like that could ever happen. Real-estate prices in the Alps are straight-up terrifying so the idea of stumbling over something like that is laughable. And yet, I still think about it.

Coming back to reality, Mia has now shoved her way onto my lap, making typing very difficult. She seems to disapprove of idle fantasy, and will not allow me to procrastinate when it comes to her head scratches.

See something like this but way more rundown and preferably free? Call me!


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 1

Ah, May. How I have missed you. Having the first day of the month off as a public holiday really does serve as the perfect kick-off to summer. The day dawned a bit drippy and gray, but around noon the clouds parted and by mid-afternoon it was high time for a walk through the forest.

We had heard that the Felsenkeller, a great local spot, was under new ownership, and indeed it is. Previously this old barn in the forest was staffed by a fairly elderly couple, with an extra person or two helping out occasionally. They served Zirndofer beer, some basic Brotzeit staples, and a few other odds and ends. No more.

We came around from the other side of the barn today, and we heard it before we got there. That it was busy was no surprise on a day like this, but I was shocked. They’ve easily doubled the amount of tables outside, and added a tented area with sand and kiddie-sized tables. Tap beers were poured outside as well, and there was a trailer for the sausages and grill specialties. The Grüner brewery from Fürth has taken over ownership, and it’s a whole new vibe.

I’ve got nothing against them doing a brisk business on a beautiful day, but the staff running around in branded t-shirts and wires in their ears was a far cry from the old folks behind the bar. I did like the Lederhosen on a few of the staffers, but… it’s different.  As long as there’s a Biergarten under the trees in walking distance, I’m happy, so hopefully this will remain a favorite summer spot.

The days getting longer and warmer has made me a bit itchy again this year. I’ve had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head lately and think the time is ripe for another attempt at a writing challenge. I’ll shoot for 15 minutes per day at least again, and be putting it up here for accountability purposes. Let’s see how we go.  Day 1 down, with a mere three minutes to midnight. Strong start.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge: Day 31

Ah, all good things must come to an end.

Or in the case of this, all things must come to an end.

Overall, I feel pretty satisfied with how this little experiment went. With the exception of two days, I managed to hit my writing goal on time. I don’t think anything I wrote this month knocked my socks off, but it was nice just to get back into the habit and that was really the point of the exercise.

The hardest thing about it was really what to write about. While I do have things that I find amusing or interesting or obnoxious on a daily basis, they weren’t always things I felt like I wanted to write about. And I wasn’t really interested in doing daily blow-by-blows of what I did that day. That made some days challenging, and while using the prompts was useful, there are A LOT of prompts that made me roll my eyes pretty hard. I have never thrown or attended an Oscar party, and give zero fucks about what kind of food or drink I might serve at such an event.

Also, when did people get so into the Kentucky Derby?

I do hope that I’ll be able to keep the writing itch satisfied in the future, whether or not those things make it into this space. I very much enjoyed doing some daily recording while we were on our mini-vacation this month, and I think I’d like to try doing that when we head on our big summer trip to Norway. Not everything is reserved for the trip yet, so I have no idea what the internet situation will be wherever we decide to stay, but I might consider doing a regular travelogue while we’re there. As discussed earlier this month, I am not a Travel Blogger and so I’d rather do quick updates while there than try to do big fancy schmancy posts when we get back. Or, think about doing those and never get around to it, like most vacations seem to go.

Honestly, I’d rather be in the moment and enjoying myself on vacation than trying to figure out how best to blog about it. But that’s me. You do you, Travel Bloggers of the world.

And if we end up booking a bunch of places in the middle of nowhere and there’s no internet, then that’ll decide that question. No skin off my back. But that’s all TBD.

Big thanks to those of you who read along and commented. That’s always the best part of blogging, as far as I’m concerned. I’m a crap commenter on other people’s blogs, but maybe my fancy new phone and improved internet service will make me better at it. If my train time can be more productive, that seems like a good use of data to me.

Happy June to all!


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.