Holiday Doings

Instead of ranting some more about the current Corona situation in Germany, like I did yesterday (which is useless and depressing), I’m going to share some of the things we did on our vacation early in October. Somehow, I never get around to writing anything when I’m on holiday, as there are usually so many other things that take up my time. I haven’t had time to write about it after my vacation, but late is better than never.

My first day of vacation was on September 29. Mum and I were already in Bavaria at that point. As we were going to spend a week at a vacation cottage in Italy, that is, South Tyrol, driving from Bavaria was a lot nearer than from my place.

Rosengarten

I spent the first couple of days of my vacation cleaning up our house in Bavaria because Partner and Cousin 1 with her partner were also coming to stay for at least one night. We had to clean out the guest room (where things tend to accumulate) and I had to clean out my room, because I didn’t want Partner, who slept on a mattress on the floor, to have to wade though all my dust balls. Cousin 1 and her partner got the guestroom. We also had to pack a lot things like spices for cooking, all of Curious Dog’s bedding, food, toys, leashes and harnesses, and groceries to tide us over the first weekend in South Tyrol (we didn’t know if we would have time to go shopping or if any shops would be open on Sunday). Plus our clothing, some games, and some DVDs (no internet at the cottage). So, a lot of organization. And a lot of excitement on Curious Dog’s part. Also, I had to shop for Mum, so that she wouldn’t run out of groceries while we were away, since the small grocery shop in our village has closed down.

We were planning to set out on Saturday, not too early, because we couldn’t get the keys for our holiday cottage before 4 p.m. Cousin 1 and her partner (who is very nice) could only start for our place in Bavaria in the early afternoon, after work, so they arrived quite late on Friday, at 9 p.m. They had quite a strange trip. Our village is in the middle of nowhere and the satnav systems usually choose very strange routes along third rate roads and through a lot of other small villages. Since Cousin 1 and her partner had to drive in the dark, their nerves were slightly frazzled by the time they arrived.

The next morning things were a bit chaotic. I had to take Curious Dog for his walk and Cousin 1 had to be shown the house (as she hadn’t visited since she was about 4). Mum showed her a lot of photographs and things, while I tried to collect all our baggage and load the car with Partner’s help. We ended up forgetting some of our groceries, but it didn’t matter because Cousin 1 had brought a lot of food along.
After we reached the Autobahn, there was quite a bit of traffic, as we had to go via Munich and that’s often a traffic nightmare. We then continued via Rosenheim in Bavaria to Innsbruck in Austria and over the Brenner Pass into Italy. A very scenic route and traffic wasn’t too bad. When we left the motorway in Italy just before Bozen (or Bolzano in Italian), we straight away entered a tunnel which took us up into the mountains for a very long way. It was most odd. After the tunnel, we wound our way up and up again along many hairpin bends and hair-raising precipices. A beautiful landscape, but the roads were a bit scary for us lowlanders.

We arrived at our cottage quite on the dot at 4 p.m. Our landlady welcomed us very kindly, gave us the keys and explained how everything worked (specially how to separate our rubbish for recycling). It was a very cozy cottage with absolutely everything we needed. Lots of cooking utensils and towels – quite the best equipped holiday cottage we’ve ever stayed in. And the landlady spoke German (which more or less everybody does in the South Tyrol), so we had no problem communicating (once, in 2014, before we got Curious Dog, we had a holiday near Genoa in Liguria where the landlady spoke neither German nor English and we basically communicated with sign language – I only know English and some rudimentary French. No Italian, sadly).

Karersee

We unpacked all our things, had a cup of tea, and went off on our first small hike, to the Karersee (Lago di Carezza), a very small but exceedingly picturesque lake that was only about a 20 minutes’ walk from our cottage. The cottage was at the edge of the small community Karersee (Carezza), with a very large meadow as the back yard and a roofed-over balcony at the fron where we could sit outside when it was sunny (at least at the beginning of our stay, it got cold with snow later on – well, it was in October). There was a lovely view of the Latemar mountain range from the balcony and the Rosengarten range from the meadow (the view in the first photo above).

That night, we cooked some vegan Bolognese sauce with pasta (appropriately Italien) and then we spent the evening planning what to do during the next days. Which I will report on later.

Keep safe, world.

Monday Miscellanea

Back in Bavaria, one week earlier than planned. Mum, Curious Dog, and I drove here last week on Thursday afternoon. I took the afternoon off and worked on Friday morning instead. On our normal schedule, we would have driven a week later, this Thursday, but Partner had an unplanned appointment at his place, and it didn’t make sense for him to drive there and back again, so we just changed our plans.

We had a good trip without any traffic jams, detours, or other obstacles.

We’ve been having very grey autumn weather. Lots of cloud cover or fog, no sunshine, but also no rain. Today was the first time in a week or longer that it did rain. It was only a soft rain so that Curious Dog and I got slightly wet but not drenched on our Morning walk. Curious Dog is quite recovered from his infection and we didn’t need another trip to the vet. I’m very relieved about it. The grey weather, while fine for walks (especially when it’s dry) is no hindrance for our daily morning and afternoon walks, but otherwise it makes me sleepy. I’m either sleepy or hungry – I could spend all day chomping on something.

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Work is currently a little less stressful, with only a couple of deadlines looming at the beginning of December. Last week we had another couple of days when the software tools we use to manage our documents was again slow and buggy, but as there are no urgent deadlines it was inconvenient but not as serious as when we can’t finalize our documents just before a deadline. There’s hope that the situation will improve next years as some of the problematic processes that cause the instability of the software are planned to be changed. Of course, during the transition period to the new processes it’s very likely that things won’t run smoothly, but hopefully afterwards, once the dust has settled, everything will run smoothly and we won’t be stressed out all the time, trying to salvage the situation. But it will take time to implement the changes and test them. It will be months yet before we can expect real improvements. We can look forward to an interesting year in 2022. But before I start thinking about work next year, I will take a nice long vacation for at least three weeks (as I usually do). Can’t wait, but there’s still four weeks to go.
Mum is currently baking our first Christmas cake, a Stollen, which is a German fruit loaf traditionally eaten during the Advent time or at Christmas. Next Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent. We will be returning to my place; Partner will be back as well, and we’ll celebrate with the cake (which will taste better for having had some days to develop its full aroma). Maybe Mum and I will even bake some Christmas cookies this week.

I still have to come up with some good ideas for Christmas presents.

Last Saturday, Mum and I spontaneously headed into the Corona vaccination centre at the county town. Mum got both her vaccinations there in February and March and we hoped to get her booster. I’d tried to get an appointment, but the earliest available one was on the first of December, when we will be back at my place (I considered staying here longer but didn’t really want to). I was quite surprised to get an offer for such an early appointment though because what with the escalating Corona situation in Germany, demand for vaccinations is rising even among some of the non-vaccinated people. I’ve heard that appointments in some places are all booked out until January or February. So, considering that the vaccination centre was offering vaccinations without prior appointments on Saturday, we decided to gamble and try if we could get a slot for Mum. And we did! There was a middling long queue but after about 1.5 hours Mum had her booster. Since I was only vaccinated in August, I am not yet eligible for one and so I didn’t get it. However, my company is again offering vaccinations starting soon and I hope to get my third vaccination in January or February. Just leaves Partner, but he’s not yet eligible either. Hopefully he’ll manage to get one somewhere too.

Despite vaccinations the Corona incidence among 100 000 persons is higher than it ever was, with the majority of cases among those not vaccinated. Considering that millions have been vaccinated with hardly any ill effects, it’s strange that people are still so suspicious of the vaccinations that they are willing to risk death rather than getting vaccinated themselves. Public life is being restricted again. In the worst-hit German states (such as Bavaria), Christmas markets have been cancelled again, for the second time in two years, and strict rules about what one may do or not are being introduced to get the situation under control. About time too. The government has fumbled the ball quite badly this autumn. At least they came up with an incentive to get the non-vaccinated to reconsider: if they end up infected or need to go into quarantine, they won’t receive any pay during that time. That, I hope, will galvanize a few of the non-vaccinated. I wonder if a general obligation to get vaccinated (except if one has a condition that makes vaccination impossible) will be legislated like in Austria. Politicians deny that it will happen in Germany, but if things get really bad… you never know. I think it would be only fair. People need to do their part so that everyone can live a normal life again. Everything is just such a mess, currently. I feel really sorry (and worried) for all the young people and children who haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated yet and for the medical personnel that has to deal with this catastrophic situation. All because people wouldn’t get vaccinated, and politicians were too busy campaigning or forming the new coalition! It’s a debacle all around.

Keep safe, world.

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 5

My fifth post about my project to read the entire Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King. Previous posts include:

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 1
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 2
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 3
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 4

Since my fourth post in July, I’ve read five more of the series:

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Pirate King

In this novel, Mary Russell infiltrates a film crew that’s shooting a film Pirate King (based on the musical The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan). She’s the assistant and general dogsbody of the film’s assistant director and has to cater to the whims of the eccentric director. The rehearsals for the film take place in Lisbon while the filming itself is to happen in Morocco. Russell is supposed to find out whether a missing previous assistant was murdered because she found out the film’s directors may be involved in criminal activities (drug smuggling and/or gun running). While investigating, she is also supposed to chaperone or otherwise look after a dozen young actresses who are being wooed by their disreputable acting colleagues, a shady lot of fishers (or smugglers?) hired in Lisbon to play pirates. Things take a sinister turn when the decrepit hired “pirate ship” under its sinister captain reaches Morocco and suddenly the actresses, including Russell, are confined in a well-appointed town house. Russell and Holmes (who joined the film crew later than Russell) must solve the mystery of what’s going on while keeping Russell’s charges from harm.

This was a zany novel, but quite amusing. It was fun seeing Russell hassled by those young actresses and the exotic settings in Lisbon and Morocco was interesting.

Garment of Shadows

Hard to believe, but Mary Russell quite enjoyed working with the film crew of the previous book and stayed on in Morocco to take the starring role in the next film, The Pirate Queen. Horrified, Holmes goes off travelling through Morocco while Russell enjoys her brief sojourn on the film set. However, when Holmes returns, he finds that she has gone missing. This novel is about politics in Morocco between the wars. There’s an uneasy peace between the French colonial powers lead by a distant relative of Holmes’ one Hubert Lyautey (an actual historical figure) and the Moroccan resistance. We meet again the cousins Ali and Mahmoud Hazr (from O Jerusalem and Justice Hall). They are spying for Mycroft Holmes but become disillusioned with their roles because they develop sympathy with the rebel leader. There’s a lot of action in this novel. At the beginning, Russell has lost her memory due to a head injury.

This one was really good. Russell’s way of dealing with her amnesia was well done and the whole novel was very exciting. The novels that feature Ali and Mahmoud are some of my favourites in the series.

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Dreaming Spies

Of these five novels, I liked this one best. It’s basically two in one: one plot deals with an acquaintance Russell and Holmes made some years ago while on a ship on their way to San Francisco via Japan. They interrupt their journey in Japan, where they give aid to the Japanese emperor (in a round-about sort of way). I absolutely enjoyed reading about their travels and investigations in Japan. The second storyline involves a character they dealt with in Japan and it’s basically a continuation of the first plot, because some ends were not tied up and lead to England, namely to Oxford, Russell’s home base. Their interaction with their Japanese acquaintance leaves Russell and Holmes outsmarted for a change.

The Murder of Mary Russell

Did or did she not get murdered? Holmes has a few anxious days… the series continues, so basically the reader knows that Russell didn’t get killed, but it was still a good tale. The most interesting thing about it was the backstory we get about Mrs. Hudson, Holmes’ housekeeper and Russell’s substitute mother figure. Also, there’s a bit about Holmes as a young man which was also fascinating.

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Island of the Mad

A friend of Russell’s from her time at college (who also appears in the second book of the series, A Monstrous Regiment of Women) contacts her because an aunt of hers has disappeared. The aunt was visiting the family home, on leave with an attendant from Bedlam, the mental institution, where she had been living for years. Not only does she disappear, but also jewels from the family safe. Did the nurse do away with her charge in order to steal the jewels? Were the two in cahoots? Russell investigates and is blinded by her unwillingness to face facts, which I ranted about previously.

Despite my annoyance at Russell’s uncharacteristic obtuseness (not to mention that of Holmes), I liked the novel because of the interesting info about Bedlam, the rise of fascism in Italy, and the roaring twenties in Venice. It’s part of the charm of the series that it has so many unusual settings.

I’ve now read almost all the currently available novels in the series; there’s only two more to go. I’ll be all caught up and can wait for new installments to be published (that will probably take some time, as the last novel came out this year). It’s been an enjoyable journey and I hope the last two books will live up to the others – I might get round to them this month, definitively in December.

Keep safe, world.

Monday Miscellanea

As you may have noticed, I’ve totally given up posting every day in November. Life got in the way – well, Curious Dog’s prepuce infection. He has to wear a body to stop him from licking his infection and he doesn’t really like it. I spent the weekend, when I wasn’t out grocery shopping, sitting reading in the living room with him instead of up in my bedroom at my computer, typing up posts. I made quite a bit of headway through my November non-fiction read From Dawn to Decadence and on my project reading The Tale of Genji. I’m halfway through the former and about two thirds through the later. They are both very interesting in quite different ways. Dawn is a cultural history of “the West” and Genji is a tale about court life in ancient Japan. Dawn covers a topic that I’m somewhat familiar with but with lots of details and interpretations new to me. Genji shows quite an alien world which I often find extremely puzzling, but it’s fascinating.

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But to return to Curious Dog. I was sitting in the living room with him so that he didn’t have to wear the body – I just stopped him when he started to lick. On Friday I chased him around the living room for about an hour with a syringe to irrigate his prepuce with an anti-bacterial liquid and I actually managed it without holding on to him at all. He just kept still by himself (he probably got fed up with being chased all the time). That was very surprising. Partner and I didn’t manage it at all on Thursday, we couldn’t hold him. He kept squirming away and the nifty way of holding him that the vet showed me did didn’t work with us. I guess we are not as practiced as the vet. But Friday was the only time I managed it, the rest of the weekend he never held still. Nevertheless, he got all his antibiotic tablets, and it looks like the infection has cleared up. One more night of wearing the body and that’s it. That’s a relief. Curious Dog was still very keen on his walks, but he was a bit off his food on a couple of days. He left kibble in his bowl, which he never does (normally it’s all gone in a few minutes). He did, however, eat it when we fed him by hand. Very odd. Maybe the tablets didn’t agree with him. Or maybe he was milking the situation because he enjoyed the extra attention (dogs do that). I don’t know, but today he ate all his food again at his usual speed and I think he’s back to normal.

The weather was very dreary on the weekend. A very soft rain on Friday – CD and I got quite wet on our afternoon walk. No rain the rest of the weekend but the sun hardly got through the fog and the clouds. It grew a bit warmer, so walks were quite pleasant, but it was still very muddy. Since it was so dreary, we streamed a few episodes of München Mord (meaning “Munich Murder”, which is in German a play on München Nord which is an exist on the Autobahn: Mord = Murder, Nord = North). It’s three oddball police detectives investigating murder cases in weird ways, hindered by their superior who panders to higher-ups. It’s very quirky and has funny elements. The chief detective of the trio has a weird way of reenacting how he thinks the murder took place which makes him look crazy to most of the police department (although his method is very successful). The other two are always looking for love in the wrong places and have other character quirks. The relationship between the detectives is one of the many highlights of the series which we just really enjoy. Perfect for dingy autumn days.

We did a lot of cooking and baking. Partner made some very tasty pastries filled with shredded apple and spiced with cinnamon and I cooked a lovely vegetable soup on Saturday. On Sunday I made a mushroom, carrot and kidney bean stew in a dark beer sauce with dumplings and a purple cabbage side-dish (Partner helped). It was delicious and I made enough to last us for today as well, so Partner didn’t have to cook today for once.

Today is still dingy weather-wise, but it’s back to work, no time for films. I had a virtual training about developing a “growth mindset”. Basically, a lot of truisms about keeping an open mind and seeing possibilities instead of problems. The concept makes sense, that’s why it’s a cliché, but those type of trainings always put me into a contrary mood, where I try to come up with examples for when positivity and openness don’t help much. Which is quite hard, because most bad experiences are probably not helped by being in a negative frame of mind. Mostly I feel cynical about these trainings, because it’s the company trying to motivate us into becoming better employees: flexible, hard-working, and innovative to influence the bottom line positively and make investors happy. They always use a lot of examples from sports. How being in a “growth mindset” leads you to being more successful in your chosen sport. I don’t enjoy competitive sports, so those examples make me grumpy (I guess I’m difficult). I’ve heard these types of things so often that I’m surprised at myself for still waiting for new insights from these kinds of trainings. This time there was a refreshing point from a colleague about keeping a sense of proportion and humour to deal with difficult situations. That took me out of my cynical mood and got me to acknowledge to myself that the training was at least a change from normal work. Which, you know, nothing to be sneered at. But I don’t believe I learned anything new at all, so it wasn’t a very effective training. I’ve had very good trainings at work, I guess a dud now and then isn’t unexpected. Newer colleagues, who haven’t had such motivational trainings before, may have found it more interesting.

Keep safe, world

Trip to the Vet’s

Yesterday I missed another November post, because instead of writing one I had to take Curious Dog to the vet. He has developed an infection of the prepuce. This was the first time we visited the vet at my place. He always gets his yearly vaccinations at the vet’s in Bavaria and he’s only ever needed other vet visits (very seldom, luckily) when we were in Bavaria. I looked up the vet’s surgery hours here yesterday and they were only open between 4 and 6 p.m. When I turned up with Curious Dog (I left him in the car while I dealt with the registration), it turned out that the surgery was really full. I ended up waiting an hour outside in the cold (didn’t want to stay in the waiting room because of Corona). I didn’t want to sit in the car because that was cold too. I basically paced around my car and recited all the poetry I could remember to myself, hummed some songs and otherwise tried to pass the time. Curious Dog was sitting in his car box.

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When at last it was CD’s turn, he was quite excited (as usual when he’s at the vet). The vet and her assistant tried to lift him onto the examining table, but he wouldn’t let them. In the end I had to do it. Then I had to put his muzzle on because he kept growling just a little bit (good thing we practiced that). We made him lie down on his side and the assistant had a nifty way of holding him still, while I held onto his head. The examination didn’t hurt him, he just didn’t care for it. So, the vet diagnosed the infection problem and irrigated CD’s prepuce with a syringe full of anti-bacterial liquid. She did it very well, but Partner and I have to do it for the next 5 days. We’re starting tonight and I’m not really looking forward to it. CD also got an antibiotic shot and some tablets and if all that doesn’t clear the infection, we’ll have to revisit the vet in 5 days. In the meantime, he has to wear a body, so that he doesn’t keep licking himself. He’s very good about letting me dress him up in it, but afterwards he looks put out about having to wear it. We take it off when we go for walks. Otherwise, he would have had to wear one of those cone things around his neck and I’m sure that would have been even more annoying for him. I’ve had to order another body online, so that he can wear one while the other one gets washed. Wearing the same one for 5 days would be quite unhygienic and not exactly good for the infection.

I hope the infection will have cleared up at the end of the 5 days. He’s otherwise fine, as hungry as ever and as eager to go on his walks as ever, which is good. I’d be worried if CD was off his food.

Yesterday at work I had a quite surreal meeting with a colleague from another team who wanted to show me some inexplicable things our content management tool supposedly did with their content. Turned out the tool did nothing inexplicable but that the colleague had absolutely no clue what they were doing. They’ve been working with that tool for years and don’t understand the most basic things about it. I was very patient and explained everything but actually I was horrified. I was tempted to advise them to repeat the basic tool trainings but I didn’t dare – they probably would have been insulted. Most of my colleagues are super competent, some of them know more about the tools than I do, but with some colleagues one is left wondering…

The weather is foggy and cold – yesterday the sun came out in the middle of the day and stayed awhile, but today the fog was stronger. It never cleared up and it looks like the weather will stay that way for most of the weekend. Perfect for cozying up with a book and a cup of Glühwein (hot spiced wine). I’m glad that my work week is over, and the weekend is at the door.

Keep safe, world.

Poem No 2

This year I made a resolution to learn two poems off by heart. Only two, because in 2020 I’d had a resolution to learn one poem per month and only managed one poem for the entire year – I thought I’d better decide on a more realistic goal for this year. So far, I’ve only managed one poem by Emily Dickinson:

712
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility.

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews grew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, My Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

While learning this poem off by heart earlier this year, I found that I suddenly remembered the first stanza of another Emily Dickinson poem which is probably going to be my second poem of the year. I’d better hurry up to learn the rest of it, as the year is almost up. I still remember my one poem from last year, so my repertoire is slowly (very slowly) growing:

Poem No 1

Keep safe, world.

Monday Miscellanea

Sadly, I already broke my goal of posting once a day in November by not posting anything yesterday. I just didn’t feel like it because I was totally busy, as I always am on the days we travel from Bavaria to Baden-Württemberg or the other way round. I should have written a post in advance… I guess.

Anyway, yesterday I got up quite late and took Curious Dog on a slightly shorter walk than usual on Sunday mornings. I’d packed my office stuff and clothes the night before, but still needed to pack my books, all the left-over food, Curious Dog’s things (he’s got his own bag of toys, leashes, and towels). Then we had to check that everything was properly locked up and ship-shape and load all our bags into the car, so by the time we got started, it was almost noon.

The trip was fine. Almost no traffic, no traffic jam at the construction site on the Autobahn junction so that I didn’t need to take the alternate route I’d looked up on Google maps. There was a lot of rain on the way, but luckily it didn’t rain when we arrived, so that I could unload all our bags without getting wet. But it must have rained recently, because when Partner and I took Curious Dog on his afternoon walk, CD got totally muddy because all the paths through the fields were in a terribly muddy state (and still are – it was another mud-fest this morning). Fortunately, we have a lot of old towels which we use to clean and dry CD after our walks.

After the afternoon walks, I cooked a creamy soup made of potato and leek. It turned out very nice. Just some potatoes cooked with two stalks of leek in vegetable broth, some ginger, a small onion, and a few chili flakes, a bit of sweet paprika and curry powder, some fresh garlic. After the vegetables were done, I pureed the soup with an immersion blender, added some soy milk for creaminess and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for taste. It turned out very nice. I love soup anytime, but most of all on rainy autumn or winter nights.

IslandMad

By then it was quite late and although I set up my home office again, in preparation for work today, I really wasn’t inclined to post anything.

Today has been the usual Monday mess. The usual lot of Monday meetings and in addition post-deadline quality stuff to deal with. People who should know better doing stupid stuff and mailing me about their problems. Their mails showed them to be super clueless – I like helping new hires, but if I have to explain elementary stuff to colleagues that have been working with our tools for years and still don’t know what they are doing… And it’s always the same colleagues. They always seem to think that the software is out to get them (it probably is, by now). When I see their particular names on e-mails in my inbox, it’s time to roll my eyes. Sometimes it’s quite funny.

There was no time for anything except meetings before lunch and after lunch I had to do some obligatory trainings. They were easy and only took about half an hour, about stuff which isn’t anything I need to deal with in my daily work (thankfully). Then another couple of meetings, a short coffee-break and the afternoon walk with Curious Dog. Nothing very exciting.

I finished reading Laurie R. King, Island of the Mad, the 15th novel in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes yesterday. That’s why I got up late on Sunday, I was reading in bed when I should have been packing. That hunch I had about why the missing person had gone missing (I talked about that in my last post) was correct and Mary Russell had apparently kind of known the reason all along but “had managed to squirm out from the unpleasant hypothesis” (p. 318 of my edition, a Bantam paperback from 2019). That was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever read in the series. Even if Russell had managed to ignore this hypothesis, what about Holmes? He should have caught it. That’s the problem with characters that are established to be a great deal more intelligent than normal people. It’s just not believable when they make normal-people mistakes. This novel is definitively not my favourite in the series, but I found other things in it to enjoy that made up for this silly plot device. These novels usually have interesting settings and in this case it’s 1925 asylums for the insane in London and Venice as well as life for rich expats in Venice. And the rise of fascism in Italy and, to a lesser degree, in Britain. That did make for interesting reading.

Keep safe, world.

Another Busy Day

On the morning walk with Curious Dog it was foggy but we had a pleasant walk anyway. We met up with one of CD’s dog friends, but she was accompanying a Husky, who didn’t look too pleased to see Curious Dog. Curious Dog also wasn’t too pleased, but he apparently decided that he couldn’t take on a Husky and then pretended not to see him and instead spent five minutes sniffing all around the verge of the footpath until the other two were way ahead. It was quite funny and a lot more relaxed than if the two dogs had thrown a fit. Curious Dog is quite canny about the dogs he’ll get upset at. They can’t be too large or too many (he never gets mad at two or more dogs). He’s got two favourite enemies, one here in Bavaria and one at my place and they are both small male terriers. They hate him right back. Mostly CD is friendly with other dogs, especially if they are female.

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After the morning walk, I had to drive to the supermarket in the next village as I’d forgotten some stuff yesterday (it always happens). On the way, it was still foggy, but on my way back half an hour later the fog disappeared and the sun came out. It was quite hot in the south-facing rooms of the house. After lunch, I vacuumed everywhere and later cleaned the bathroom. Mum did the kitchen and also baked a very nice apple roll which we tasted after a stint in the garden. We didn’t do much, it was still too wet, but I cut back one of our lilacs and Mum tiedied up some potted plants. At three 3:30 p.m. the fog started coming back. By 4:00 p.m. the sun was gone, and I had another foggy walk with Curious Dog in the woods.

In between vacuuming and gardening I spent an hour reading Islands of the Mad (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes part 15). I’ve read slightly less than half the novel and I have a strong hunch about why the missing person chose to go missing. I’m looking forward to finding out if my guess is correct. Annoyingly, Mary Russell doesn’t seem to get it which either means that I’m wrong or that she is obtuse. It’s kind of annoying if she’s not seeing the obvious, because she’s supposed to be a genius. Or maybe my guess is wrong in which case the author laid a false trail which would also be annoying. Still, I’m enjoying the read. It’s a nice change from my non-fiction November tome From Dawn to Decadence of which I also read more than a few pages this morning in bed because I woke up early and couldn’t fall asleep again.

After I’ve posted this perfectly unexciting report of my day, I’ll power down my notebook, dismantle my home office setup and pack everything up ready for tomorrow’s trip back to Baden-Württemberg. Our next week in Bavaria will be at the beginning of December. The second half of this year has passed so fast. It seems a few weeks ago I was moaning about the summer workload and now it’s already time to start thinking about Christmas presents and how long my vacation should be over Christmas and the new year.

Keep safe, world.

Uneventful Friday

Today I enjoyed a bit of a lie-in, reading in bed, continuing on with From Dawn to Decadence and my anthology of 18th century women poets that I started during Jane Austen July. On normal days I don’t have much time to read in bed in the mornings. I just manage a few poems before having to get up. I do have time on the weekend but have to make sure that I don’t stay too long in bed, because then the whole morning is out of whack. Walking with Curious Dog before doing anything else takes time.

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CD and I were done with our later than usual morning walk by 10 a.m. Afterwards I set out on a grocery shopping trip to pick up some stuff in town that isn’t available in the supermarket in the next village. This time I also had to pick up a new little light bulb for the fridge, as the old one had expired suddenly a couple of days ago. Oh, what an exciting errand!

The rest of the day was just as uneventful. I got back from shopping around lunch time and after lunch I spent the early afternoon reading. I’m now done with the first part of From Dawn to Decadence and have found out that the “invisible college” mentioned in my Wednesday post was a group of 16th century scholars who were later involved in the founding of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, which still exists today. This first part of the book is all about the effects on Western culture of the Reformation and the Renaissance. There was an interesting short excursion that looked back at the Middle Ages and pointed out that the period between ca. 500 and 1500 had seen the growth of a new civilization from the ruins of the Roman empire and had had its own Renaissance from 1050 to 1250. So it wasn’t all “dark ages.” I’d know that already from my historical studies at college (I studied History as the minor part of my degree, with American Literature as the major), but it was nice to be reminded.

While I enjoy reading non-fiction, I usually find it harder going than fiction. Even when I’m really interested and engaged, non-fiction is kind of tiring for me. It needs more concentration. I tend to read slower and sometimes struggle not to nod off. Today was a cloudy, damp, and cold November day where my tendency to fall asleep over my tome was very strong. Before I could do so, I took Curious Dog for his afternoon walk. That woke me up again.

I should have done some gardening in the afternoon, but it was so wet outside from all that rain yesterday that I postponed it until tomorrow when hopefully it will be a bit dryer. The house also needs to be cleaned before we leave again on Sunday, so tomorrow I won’t have that much time for reading. Maybe I will start with the next Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes novel as an antidote to all that non-fiction.

I’m currently watching Farscape on Amazon Prime. It’s an Australian-American sci-fi series from the turn of the century. I watched a few episodes when they were first aired on German TV but didn’t manage to keep it up. I’m rather liking it. It’s about an astronaut from Earth who is flung through a wormhole into a strange part of the galaxy where he teams up with a few alien ex-convicts on a living spaceship (a “Leviathan”) who are on the run from militaristic so-called “peacekeepers.” The series has a very distinctive look (one of the alien characters is an animated puppet). The first season is a series of mostly stand-alone episodes but later on a story-arc develops. I’m enjoying it a lot, but it’s going to take me ages to finish it, as I only manage an episode now and again. Partner didn’t seem particularly keen on it, so I’m watching it by myself.

Keep safe, world.

Rainy Day

It’s been a very wet day at my place in Bavaria. It rained in the morning when Curious Dog and I did our morning walk in the woods. It rained on our afternoon walk. I had to dry CD twice today (his towels got quite muddy). He doesn’t get very wet from on top, as the rain tends to just slide off his fur, but his legs and belly do get very wet because when he walks, his paws kind of fling water up from the wet ground. It’s quite strange, really. I enjoyed our walks despite the rain, as it was a soft kind of rain without wind to blow it into our faces. The woods are still colourful and autumnal as the leaves haven’t all fallen yet.

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My work week is done again (as I don’t work on Fridays), and so is our week in Bavaria (almost). It was a short one, because we only arrived last Sunday and will leave again this Sunday. Usually, Mum and I arrive on Thursday, so that we spend 10 days here, but this time Thursday didn’t work out. I quite enjoyed the drive, as there wasn’t much traffic last Sunday. When travelling on Thursdays, we often get stuck behind trucks on the country roads once we’ve existed the Autobahn. When we return on Sunday, I’ll be trying an alternate route to bypass a motorway junction that’s currently a huge construction site. Last time we returned to Baden-Württemberg, we were stuck in a 45-minute traffic jam because of that construction.

Tomorrow I wanted to take Mum on a shopping trip to one of the towns in our vicinity, but we’ve scrapped that idea, because the Corona numbers are rising again, and Mum hasn’t had a booster shot yet. She was already fully vaccinated in March (or April?) and that’s been six months. I’ll try to organize another vaccination next week.

Today I had a meeting with my manager and asked him if I could soon get rid of one of the projects that I volunteered for earlier this year. The first part of the project has ended and I think I’m not really needed anymore and anyway, I found that I have quite enough to do with my other tasks. And it wasn’t much fun. Happily, he thought that it was probably feasible that I could drop it at the end of the year. I hope that this will actually be the case, as it would be a real relief.

Otherwise, I spent quite some time today updating a document that was published three weeks ago because some colleagues had forgotten that their topic needed to be covered. It meant changing a few chapters as well as some graphics and I was slightly annoyed about it. But it always happens. You publish something (only online, fortunately) and a few days later someone sends an email “Can we add this and that to the latest document?” and I reply somewhat sarcastically “That latest document that was published three weeks ago?” and they say “Oops… yes, that document.” Next week I will publish that document again, with a note at the beginning listing the changes.

Partner and I have been to a cinema twice this autumn. Once before our vacation to see Dune, and once last Saturday to see the latest James Bond, No Time to Die. With masks and both of us vaccinated. That may have been the last outing until the Corona numbers drop again. I liked Dune but felt that it stopped when things were becoming really interesting (no wonder, since it’s only the first part). As far as I remember the film was fairly true to the novel. I read Dune while I was in college – borrowed the book from the college library and I can remember quite a bit of it (rather strange, since I’m usually not good at remembering details after such a long time). I didn’t even like it all that much. It was too esoteric, I thought, especially the sequels (of which I didn’t read all). I think I’m going to have another go at them as I believe I may like them better this time round. But I’m not starting before next year, because I still have a lot of books to read to achieve the goals that I set for myself this year. As for James Bond: I’ a great fan of the Daniel Craig films, but the ending of this last one was not at all Bond-like. It annoyed the hell out of Partner and me. No details, because I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

Keep safe, world.