Monday Miscellanea

Last Thursday I took the afternoon off work for a lot of house-cleaning in preparation for my two cousins who came for a visit from Friday to Sunday morning. Good thing that I’d already cleaned the bookshelves in the guestroom (which is otherwise Partner’s office and Curious Dog’s bedroom), because otherwise I’d never have made it. Partner vacuumed and I cleaned (not only the guestroom, but also the normal weekend cleaning, all condensed into one afternoon). Hard work, but we were cheerful because we were looking forward to Cousin 1’s and 2’s visit. They are both in the process of finishing their studies – and once they start working, who knows how often they will be able to visit. Cousin 1 is waiting for her exam and thesis results. She’s going to be a teacher for special needs children and Cousin 2 will be a primary school teacher – she still has to write her thesis and is planning to be finished with everything early next year. But she’s also already going to start work when the new school year starts. They are both very goal orientated. None of that endless studying that I did for my master’s years ago. The German university system has changed a lot since I did my degree. I guess it’s no longer possible to dawdle quite as long as I did. But never, ever would I have managed to write my thesis and work 12 hours a week as a teacher at the same time. I always had odd jobs, but they were mindless ones.

2021_08_01Friday morning, before the cousins arrived, I went grocery shopping. I went to the shopping mall in one of the towns on my commute because I had to get a quick check of my car’s tires nearby. When I parked in the mall’s park house, I forgot to display the time I had arrived with my parking disc and when I returned, after about an hour (I didn’t exceed the free parking limit), I found I’d got a parking ticket for €25. Would you believe it!? I was super annoyed. I made a mistake, so I got ticket, fine – but €25 is just daylight robbery. €10 would have been appropriate, €15 a bit much, but €25? Absolutely ridiculous. I decided there and then never to shop there again.

The rest of the weekend was much nicer. We did a lot of cooking, we walked with Curious Dog, we played games, we watched films. We caught up with the cousin’s news. We were also invited to their grandfather’s (my uncle’s) birthday in three weeks. Just a small party with a few family members. I hope we can make it. We need to find a holiday apartment where we can take Curious Dog along.

The cousins were keen on disaster films. We watched The Wave, a Norwegian film about a tsunami in one of the Norwegian fjords – it was pretty good. Fairly realistic, not over the top. And we watched Greenland, a film from 2020 about comet fragments striking the earth to create an extinction event. The main plot was a family seeking a place in an underground bunker on Greenland. Very thrilling, very last-minute-escape. We borrowed both films from Amazon Prime. It’s weird that we like watching these types of film when we would not be among the people selected to survive in a bunker. None of us has a job that would make us important for rebuilding civilization. In 2018 I read the Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters about a policeman who went around still solving crimes while society went to hell waiting for a meteor impact (or something like that). That was all about people who weren’t selected for survival (not sure if anyone was). I don’t remember many details (and I didn’t keep a blog record at the time), but I remember that I liked the series (though it was probably a bit depressing at the end).

We made home-made pizza on Friday and a vegan goulash soup on Saturday. Friday was still fairly hot, but Saturday was quite overcast and cool, so a nice spicy soup suited us very well (and we didn’t want to spend excessive time in the kitchen and soups are not much work). We also had a few cocktails (well, one with each film on Friday and Saturday nights respectively). The cousins brought a cake and the ingredients for Moscow Mules, a cocktail with Vodka, ginger ale, and limes. Drunk from beaten copper mugs – which the cousins got Partner for his birthday, which we celebrated on the weekend. I gave him a nice t-shirt, a game, a book and a film (a few little things as I couldn’t think of anything really special). We had a good time and Partner was pleased.

Sunday, we had a leisurely breakfast and took Curious Dog on a long walk. Afterwards, the cousins packed up and drove back home. Partner, Mum and I also packed up and drove off. Partner needed to be at his place for his second Corona vaccination and so Mum and I headed off to Bavaria, one week earlier than usual. But next week I have to get my second vaccination at my place, so that worked out quite well. It rained a lot on the weekend at our place in Bavaria, but it had let off by the time we arrived. Now it is cool and changeable, only around 20°C all week with rain forecast every now and then. Not useful for working in the garden, but much better than the heat wave in the southern parts of Europe, in Greece and Italy and in Turkey, with lots of forest fires.

2021_08_01a

Work today was typical for Mondays: lots of meetings which tired me out. Fortunately, there are not so many meetings tomorrow so that I should be able to make headway with my document reviews. I need to get two done this week, as there’s a preliminary deadline next week which may be problematic if my second vaccination ends up making me ill for a couple of days. So best to get everything done this week. Hope we don’t have any annoying hang-ups with tool or databases.

Keep safe, world.

Long Weekend with Dear Guests

Had a lovely four days with my two young cousins who were visiting over the weekend. Curious Dog was very pleased, as he got a lot of attention and goodies to chew on ̶ he loves the Cousins. A good time was had by all.

I had last Thursday and this Monday off work, so I had an unusually long weekend (since I never work on Fridays). Cousin 1 and 2 arrived on Thursday early in the afternoon. In the morning, Partner and I took Curious Dog for his long morning walk and then bustled about getting the house ready. Partner vacuumed everything and baked a cake. Mum cleaned the tiny bathroom, I cleaned the main bathroom and the guest room (well, Partner’s office) and wiped the floors on the ground floor. Basically, got all the weekend cleaning done in one short morning. Should always do this!

Cousin 1 and 2 are sisters and both studying to become schoolteachers, Cousin 1 for disabled students and Cousin 2 for primary school kids. At the beginning of October, we’ll be taking a week off on the Baltic with them, Cousin 1 hadn’t seen our new house yet, so they borrowed their grandfather’s car and drove up for the weekend. Cousin 2 is my godchild. We’ve been taking the two them for vacations for years, ever since their mother tragically died of cancer in 2006. I’m super happy that they still like to come with us on holiday and to see us at home although they are both now in their early twenties, all grown up.

We had a lovely time. The weather was so-so, often overcast, sometimes raining, sometimes with a bit of sun, quite cool. So apart from taking Curious Dog for walks twice a day, we didn’t go out. We watched a lot of films: The Fall (very good) and then a string of zombie films, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later and World War Z. And yesterday, Hereafter (not bad). One afternoon, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We always watch a lot of films when we are together.

We did a lot of talking and catching up. Mum was also happy to see them, as she hadn’t seen them for a long while. She didn’t watch the films with us ̶ not that keen on zombies. We played a guessing game called “Black Stories”. The game involved cards with a very short story (very black humour) where one person knows everything and the others have to find out what it’s all about from one short sentence and a lot of yes/no questions. Very funny! We also read a lot. The Cousins have really got into reading and buy a lot of secondhand books online. I managed to finish Nicholas Nickleby.

As usual, we cooked and baked a lot. We had vegan spaghetti Bolognese on Thursday, mushroom risotto on Friday, cauliflower florets in a tomato and caper sauce with fried polenta on Saturday, home-made pizza on Sunday, and potato salad with tofu and tempeh yesterday. For coffee and cake we had yeast dough scones with a berry sauce; a lemon and poppy seed cake brought along by Cousin 1; plum cake with cashew cream, a vegan cheese cake and nut cake (on consecutive days ̶ since our cakes are usually not large, five people can polish one off every day).

Today, after the morning’s walk with Curious Dog, they packed their bags and left again. They’ve already arrived safely back home in Hessia (they life in the town where I was born). I had to start work again and was amazingly productive. I’d kept up with my emails (only a handful needed a reply) and did my usual quality checks in the morning, did my planning for the day (I’ve decided to plan my days better), booked an office room at work for tomorrow (the office isn’t generally open; due to Corona only a few people can go in on any one day), had a look at and completed some of the open tasks on my documents and generally was quite enthusiastic after my relaxing weekend. Will need to eat a little less for the next few days to make up for the over-abundant eating on the weekend.

Tomorrow I’m driving into the office, as my car needs to go to the garage for maintenance. Apparently less than twenty people will be on my office floor, it’ll be weird. I’ll pick up some stuff on the way back, mainly kibble for the dog, as I always get that from a shop near my old flat. The two 15 kg bags from my last trip are almost used up again.

Keep safe, world.

Monday Miscellanea

Oh, it’s been so hot the last few days, 33°C+. It was nice in the mornings, but brutal in the afternoons and miserable to sleep at night. Partner and I took Curious Dog for his morning walk as early as on workdays on the weekend so as to escape the heat. It was lovely in the woods in the morning. In the afternoons it got so hot, I had to wait until the sun had almost set behind the hills before going out. Only took CD on his walk at around 7:30 p.m. when the paths are mostly in shadow around here. It was still very hot, but manageable. I’m so glad that the heatwave should only go on for a few more days. Currently it looks like Friday will be cooler. But until then, it’s sweltering and getting quite humid, with nasty thunderstorms in some parts of Germany.

2020_08_10

We’re planning on driving to Bavaria again on Thursday, but this time I believe I’ll take the morning off, so that we can get there before any afternoon storms. Also, it’s mostly driving east, so that the sun will shine into the front of the car, and not the back, where CD has his box. I’m always scared he’ll overheat. The car has air conditioning and dark windows in the back, but I still don’t like for him to sit in the sun and I’m anxious about getting stuck in a traffic jam when it’s hot. Theoretically, we could drive at night, but I don’t like driving in the dark, especially on country roads as I’m always scared that I’ll get into an accident with wildlife, deer or boars. Well, Thursday is supposed to only get up to 30°C, so hopefully, it’ll all work out. Will take lots of water along.

The heat really serves as a very worrying reminder that we need to increase our efforts to limit climate change as much as possible. It really must be a global priority, but I’m afraid it isn’t. Europe and Germany aren’t doing half as much as we should be doing. I’m very anxious and angry about it. I definitively support Fridays for Future and will only vote for politicians that promise to work on the topic, but, so far, our acts have been less than impressive. Everyone is always worried about the economy, but if we bugger up our planet, the economy won’t survive either.

Friday morning, I drove to the town where my office is, but not to work, just to get my summer wheels checked. I’d had them mounted a couple of weeks ago and you’re meant to get them checked and the nuts tightened after driving 50 to 100 km. As I’d been to our team barbeque the weekend before last, I had already driven that far, at least. Anyway, that only took about 5 minutes and afterwards I went shopping in one of the towns on the way back. I used to go shopping in a special organic produce supermarket quite often when I still drove to the office every day but have only gone there once since Corona home office started in March. By the time I got back home, it was almost lunch and it was too hot to do much of anything else the rest of the day.

We did a lot of cooking on the weekend but tried to do it early enough so as not to heat up the kitchen too much. Friday, we made potato salad, which was enough for Saturday, too, so we didn’t need to do anything except fry up some tofu to go with it. Sunday, we had homemade pizza with salad. All very delicious. On Friday we also had left-over tiramisu from Thursday and for the weekend Partner made a very nice no-bake fruity vegan cheesecake (with cashews). We also bought some ice cream from the ice truck that comes around daily or made our own ice cream from frozen banana pieces and berries. Very lovely, and cooling.

As planned, I did quite a bit of reading (but also wasted time surfing the Internet, that is, BookTube). I read the book for my next book club meeting in one sitting (it wasn’t very long). Very interesting: Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, by Cyrus Mistry. I think I’ll write a review of it, as I liked it a lot (something that can’t be said for every book club selection, that’s for sure). I also started and got half-way through Toni Morrison’s Paradise. Also very good. I would probably have been able to finish it, but I also had to do some of the usual week-end housekeeping. I got very hot vacuuming and cleaning. Still, good as a kind of ersatz sport (that’s what I tell myself to motivate myself). Partner and I also watched Captain America: Civil War. For some reason, we hadn’t yet watched this Marvel film, probably because I didn’t want to see the Avengers split into two factions. But it was pretty good. I usually enjoy the Marvel films. Sunday night we stayed up too late watching Casino Royale with Daniel Craig as Bond. I rather like Craig’s Bond, but we had seen this film before, at the cinema when it first came out and a couple of times on DVD. It’s a favourite. Don’t think it will be possible to watch the coming Bond at the cinema in November. Hopefully, we can see it online or we’ll have to wait until it comes out on DVD.

My new Internet still has some micro outages every now and again, but it’s not too bad. Today, I didn’t have any outage and I did a lot of work all day where I needed to use the VPN-connection to the company network.

It’s pretty hot in my home office, under the eaves of my home, but I was still very productive today. Probably because of the deadline for my documents on Friday. I almost finished one document today and am planning to do the rest of it tomorrow as well as one more. Then I’ll have done all four of them and can spend Wednesday and Thursday making some minor corrections and additions. I’ll have to do another review, with some expert colleagues in the next few weeks, but at least the review copy will be done as planned this week. It’ll be a busy week.

Keep safe, world.

Long Weekend

It was the last long weekend of the year (at least, one due to a public holiday, I guess I can still take a day off for a personal long weekend). Corpus Christi last Thursday. The weather wasn’t very good throughout. Very overcast, occasional rain, cool temperatures, humid. But good for going for long walks with Curious Dog and I definitively prefer cool wet weather to hot baking weather.

Apart from going on walks with Curious Dog I used the weekend to do some:

  • Cooking and baking
  • Reading
  • Watching movies with Partner
  • Cleaning
  • Meditating – although not as much as I had meant to.

The usual stuff, but more relaxed as there was more time for everything.

Regarding cooking and baking, I did the cooking and Partner did the baking. We had a mushroom stew with carrots and kidney beans in a beer sauce with dumplings on Thursday and the leftovers on Friday. Saturday we didn’t cook and had Singhalese take-away instead: carrot fritters with a yoghurt dip. On Sunday I made a huge pasta salad with peas, capers and fried smoked tofu which we had for both lunch and dinner.

Partner baked a vegan cheesecake for Thursday and Friday and a fantastic vegan tiramisu with strawberries that we had on Saturday and Sunday. Today, we had a simple but nice nut cake for our afternoon coffee break, to sweeten our workday.

I caught up on my reading goals by finishing up Little Dorrit, which I really enjoyed. I also continued with poems from the New Oxford Book of English Verse and read a few of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories (which I still find quite weird and depressing). According to Wikipedia, it’s supposed to be (American) Southern Gothic with grotesque characters – I can sure confirm the grotesque part of the description. Guess that’s not going to be my favourite genre. Still, they are kind of fascinating and I will finish the collection, but I’m probably not going to choose to read a novel by O’Connor anytime soon.

We watched some films and documentaries of TV. What stuck in my mind was “Der Tag wird kommen” (“The Day Will Come”) the latest episode of the Polizeiruf 110 series, which is a police detective series that was the East German counterpart of the West German Tatort series (also a police detective show). The series were continued after the German reunification. Sunday’s episode was about a suicide disguised as a murder in order to cash in on life insurance and also about the manipulation of the police detectives by a criminal they’d put into prison in previous parts of the series. Not bad. We also watched Knives Out with Daniel Craig and loved it. Very nice homage to Agatha Christie and quite funny, too. Additionally, we watched the three-part episodes Stories vs. Reality on the youtube channel Like Stories of Old. This channel is great. It explains philosophical ideas behind movies and these three videos examined the role that hero tales play in our lives. Makes me want to read Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex and Joseph Campbell The Hero with a Thousand Faces, although I haven’t got time at the moment. They go on my to-read list (which, unfortunately, is always growing never shrinking).

Housecleaning and washing clothes were also on the agenda. But I didn’t overdo it.

I even took a shopping trip to a dog food store a couple of towns over. Last time I went was at the beginning of the Corona lockdown. It was a nice drive – almost my usual commute that I’ve not been doing for month now and will not be doing probably until the end of the year. And I’m sure in future it will be easy to do home office.

Shockingly and sadly, the weekend was overshadowed by yet another murder of a black man by police. Rayshard Brooks, shot in the back! BLACK LIVES MATTER – we must overcome rascism and police brutality, in the US as in Europe, and the rest of the world.

Keep safe, world.

2020_06_15

Weekend Doings

Had a lovely long weekend involving a lot of cooking. We had two of the new recipes which we tried out recently, the savoy cabbage, mushroom, bell pepper with past dish and the lentil with pineapple garam marsala over brown basmati rice. We also had two of our favourites, home-made pizza and potato salad with tempeh. All very tasty. Last night I made a vegetable soup with cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, yellow lentils and the left-over bit of savoy cabbage. Good for a slightly cool day. It was a bit cold and rainy starting Saturday, I think. Before that, it was warm and muggy. We also had a lemon cake and an apple cake, both baked by Partner, with just a tiny bit of unskilled help provided by me.

We took Curious Dog for long walks in the morning, which was nice. Up the hill and twice down through the wood on the right, once down through the wood on the left (the longer one, with less shade, perfect for yesterday’s cool overcast weather). Curious Dog did a lot of barking at the neighbor’s new puppy, a mix of Appenzeller and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. Very cute, but CD is not yet a friend of his. Hopefully, they will get used to each other and get along. It would be rather annoying if they decide to hate each other as the neighbours’ yard is right up against ours, just separated by a low wall and a chain-link fence. At the moment, CD tends to growl or bark every time the puppy is out in the yard. In addition, a big white Spitz-type dog (or maybe it’s a large Husky) was visiting yesterday afternoon – a big affront for CD, who doesn’t like that dog at all.

Today I’m quite sleepy, despite the restful long weekend, because Curious Dog had diarrhea in the night and needed to go out three times between 3:00 a.m and 4:30 a.m. and I didn’t really get back to sleep afterwards. Good thing this has only happened about twice in his life. Last time was at the old flat when we didn’t have a yard and I had to take him for a short walk in the middle of the night. But he seems okay again. Had his food and his walk as normal and I gave him a tablet against parasites, which he’s supposed to have once a quarter, but which we only give him if it seems necessary (usually about three times a year).

We watched the director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, which we had seen at the cinema when it came out. The director’s cut was better, although I had forgotten how violent it was. The siege of Jerusalem reminded us of the siege of Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings. It was fun debating the historical accuracy (not very accurate). On Disney+ we watched Thor: Ragnarok, which was a strange mix of serious scenes and slapstick elements, but I liked it. I generally enjoy films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I also did a lot of reading: finished Dombey and Son, read some poetry, some of Beloved and a lot of The Priory of the Orange Tree (in fact, almost finished it). Also a lot of short stories – finished all the available collections of Ali Smith’s short stories. They were marvelous! Next I’m going to start reading Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. I saw a recommendation for them somewhere and think they sound good. I’m doing well on my reading goals for May.

I also did the usual cleaning, without getting annoyed about it. A benefit of mindfulness. Shopping only took a few minutes, as I only had to pick up some bread at the bakers’ and a couple of things at the supermarket that I’d forgotten on my weekly grocery haul. Did that on Friday morning, early around 8:30 a.m. when the shops were still empty. Going shopping on Tuesdays or Wednesdays is a really good idea. It leaves the weekend for other household chores and still leaves plenty of time for pleasant things. I’ll be keeping it up, I think, in future, when Corona is done (though who knows when that will be).

2020_05_25

Lots of things in Germany are opening back up, but there’s also new outbreaks, centered on restaurants or churches or meat-processing plants. We don’t go to restaurants much in normal times, so we certainly shan’t be going now. We’re not churchgoers, either. I’m also not going to the office and will stay with once a week shopping trips. Currently debating about a visit to the hairdresser’s. I’m not convinced that it is a good idea. But then, it only takes about 45 minutes. Maybe I should just call and ask them what they are doing to manage the infection risk. We’ll be going to Bavaria again at the end of this week, for our usual week at our house. If we are going to get an appointment (Mum needs one too), I’ll have to set it up tomorrow. Who knows, maybe they are already booked out.

I also need an appointment for tyre changes (winter to summer) and a service appointment for the car. I always procrastinate on these things, but I really should do it this week, so that I can get the tyre change when we return from Bavaria. I could then pick up some things from the office, although that’s not urgent.

I also have to pay some bills that I’d meant to have done on the weekend, but that I also kept postponing. Paperwork is such a pain for me. I need to apply some mindfulness to it and see if I can change my habits around it. It’s not really that bad, in fact, the procrastination makes it worse.

Work today was fairly tiring, what with not having slept well last night and a lot of fairly boring meeting, and a taxing one involving a lot of notetaking at the end of my working day. I much prefer having those types of meeting earlier in the day.

My rosebush is in full bloom at the moment. Such a pity that it only lasts a few weeks and one of those we’ll miss, since we will be away next week. Though this rosebush does get a some additional roses later in the year, too. The roses in Bavaria will probably not be blooming yet. Hopefully, we won’t miss their bloom, since it’s quite lovely. The garden is larger and so are the rose bushes. We’ve got some all throughout the garden, one in an arch against the side of the house, another larger one in front of our balcony (took ages last autumn cutting them back) as well as random other ones. Mum wants to plant some other flowering plants to nourish bees and other insects. Maybe we can take a trip to a garden centre. Mum has also planted a few sunflower seed in pots that are just coming up here on my patio. Hope they will survive our being away and not dry out. We’ll have to think of something.

Keep safe, world.

Weekend Miscellanea

The weekend was again quiet and sunny. Although the sunny part is getting a little old. The fields around here are getting quite dry and it’s even worse in the eastern parts of Germany. Apparently, it rained only 3% of the normally expected rainfall for April. It almost looks as though it’s gearing up for the third year in a row with too little rain. The woods are already suffering and so are the farmers in some parts. I do hope it rains soon. A few years ago, we had floods, now we’ve been having a dry spell. The weather is worrying.

2020_04_20

I did the usual things on the weekend. Walked with Curious Dog in the afternoon. He’s already feeling the heat, usually lies down to rest in the shade at least once on our walk. Soon I’ll have to postpone our afternoon walks into the early evening.

Also did some meditation, some housecleaning, some cooking. We tried out a new dish with dried tomatoes (somewhat over the best-before date), some walnuts, and mushrooms with polenta. It was supposed to be an appetizer, but we had it as the main meal, with a salad made of a thinly sliced fennel bulb with some left-over chiccory. It was a success. That was on Friday. On Saturday we had a veggie soup and on Sunday we had whole-wheat pasta with pesto, tofu, and another salad. Altogether not much work but tasty.

I also meditated and read. Since I was mostly caught up with my reading goals, I did a quick read of Mr. Godley Phantom, by Mal Peet. It’s a short novel that combines aspects of a ghost story and a police procedural. It was very original and enjoyable. Makes me want to look up some of Mal Peet’s other novels.

We also watched the next episode of The Mandalorean, and two episodes of the new Amazon Prime series Tales from the Loop (a kind of science fiction series). Also, some more episodes of Doc Martin. All very enjoyable. We should watch Doc Martin again from the beginning when we are done with this season, it’s so much fun. So hilarious, so much heart. We also watched Cloud Atlas and Contagion. The latter was eerie, almost presaging the situation we are in now.

Partner stayed the weekend although he had planned to spend it at his place in North Rhine-Westphalia which was lovely, but then he told me that he needed to go there already today, which kind made me a bit down. I lay awake part of last night and had a lot of anxious thoughts about him catching the virus down there, all by himself. Not very likely, as he isn’t going out except to go grocery shopping and there are fewer cases up north than there are down here in the south. Still, the more one learns about the Corona virus, the more worrying it gets.

Mum and I will be driving to Bavaria on Thursday. I’m taking a few days of next week so we can fix up the garden (unless it rains – if it rains, I’m canceling my days off).

What we also did was plan and book our vacation in October. A week on the Baltic. We’ve booked a small vacation flat that can be cancelled until three months before the vacation starts. Hopefully, the Corona situation will allow us to take the vacation in October (currently, all tourists have been thrown out of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania owing to the virus). We’ve never been this organized before – usually we do last minute bookings, but this year we feared that more people would want to do a vacation in Germany even in the off-time October, so we booked early and really quite cheaply. The flat can house four people, so if my nieces want to come, they can. Vacationing at the seaside in autumn is great. You can take your dog everywhere on the beach (which is not allowed in the summer season) and the weather is usually quite good, too. Even if it rains or storms on a one or two days, it doesn’t usually last the entire week. Anyway, that’s something to look forward to.

Keep safe, world.

Movie Time

It was still cold and rainy, and so a perfect day for going to the movies.

We went to the earliest showing of Avengers: Endgame, at 11 a.m. We like going early, as it leaves the rest of the day for other things and we don’t like going to bed late (except on New Year’s Eve). Well, it was enjoyable and thrilling, had lots of good special effects, lots of emotions, and maybe just a tad too many battles. I’m going to get it for our collection when it comes out on disk or blue ray (depending what’s cheaper). Then we can check out all the things we missed. I don’t want to publish any spoilers, but I was sad about the death of some characters. Even super heroes don’t live forever, I guess.

We returned at around 2:30 p.m. and had tea and cake instead of lunch (we’d had some popcorn at the movies). Then I took Curious Dog for his afternoon walk.

We watched Sweet Bean on TV at night. This is a very good Japanese film about an old lady who wants to work at a dorayaki shop. This is a shop selling a kind of pancake with bean paste. It’s a very nice story about friendship and finding joy in adverse circumstances (the old lady has been kept apart from society for most of her life because she had leprosy, and the other characters also had to face difficulties). It was a quietly beautiful film (especially in contrast to the blockbuster Endgame).

Rainy Day

I was out with friends Thursday night, actually a book club outing at an Italian restaurant. The club discussions were lively, as usual, and the food was good. I had a vegetarian lasagna, which was good, but not as good as the mushroom risotto I had last time at another restaurant. I did, however, find that there was too much cheese in the lasagna. Next time, I will choose a dish without cheese, or with just a little bit. I’ve really lost my taste for cheese (except for a little bit, now and then when I can’t get vegan food) – in fact, I was worried the lasagna wouldn’t agree with me, as it contained so much cheese and I’ve had the experience of not tolerating it very well before. I just felt like lasagna, because I hadn’t had it for so long, but was a bit disappointed, because the cheese totally overpowered the taste of the vegetables.

It was raining on Friday morning (though not that much, more a kind of drizzle). I went grocery shopping and bought some more white asparagus, as we wanted to have it again. Also mushrooms and dark beer for a mushroom goulash for Sunday and various other foodstuff.

As it was raining, we watched Avengers: Infinity War in preparation for going to see Avengers: Endgame at the movies on the weekend. I think we haven’t even watched Avengers: Age of Ultron yet (or I’ve forgotten it), but we didn’t have time to watch that one too. I think we missed quite a few of the films in the Marvel universe since we stopped going to the movies when we got Curious Dog in 2014. We did get some of the films on disk, but not all. Anyway, it was fun and I’m looking forward to seeing Endgame.

I also did some house-cleaning, walking with Curious Dog and baking. My partner prepared and cooked the asparagus and so I did the baking. A simple yeast dough spread out like pizza, with frozen cherries and crumbles on top (Kirschstreuselkuchen). It was very good. I used a mix of whole and white flour and put some almond slivers in among the cherries.

In the afternoon, I did a longish walk with Curious Dog. We found that some of the meadows are now populated with cows and their calves. Some of the cows even had bells around their necks. Very idyllic, but I think CD found the ringing of the bells slightly unnerving. But then, he’s easily unnerved. It was a lovely walk, still slightly rainy, but everything nice and green and not too wet.

At night, being in the mood for super hero films, we watched Black Panther. It was great, very nice visuals and lots of action, as expected. And a nice look at a super-advanced African civilization. Really something else. I hope there’s a sequel.

Mindfulness & Dogs

Work was uneventful today. The day was cooler and overcast and a lot cooler than the days before, only about 10°C. It didn’t rain much (or at least I didn’t notice it at the office), but as soon as I got home the drops started falling. Checking the clouds, I decided that with any luck the rain wouldn’t get any stronger, so I put on my light rain jacket (not useful against hard rain), leashed up Curious Dog and took him for the evening walk.

Well, of course the rain did get a lot stronger and we got soaked. Half way on our usual route, I decided to turn back, but by that point I might as well have continued on, as we were already quite wet. I was starting to get quite annoyed about the wet clothes, cold wind, the anticipation of the mess in the hallway when we’d get home, toweling the dog off, hanging up my wet stuff — such a pain. But then I remembered to be mindful and I remembered that I like rain. I listened into my body and thought “It’s not that unpleasant.” I managed to turn my growing annoyance off and be in the moment. Being mindful in daily life doesn’t happen all the time for me (far from it), but it’s happening more often of late. I’ve been meditating regularly for more than a year and I’ve noticed that it’s really starting to have an impact on my life. An effective incentive to keep on doing it!

Curious Dog doesn’t mind rain. His fur is so thick that only the top layer gets wet and I think he quite likes being toweled dry. He also likes to dry himself on my jeans — weaving around my legs like a cat, except with a lot more heft. Bit naughty, that. But funny.

After dinner we watched the stop-motion animated movie Isle of Dogs, which is visually very striking. I really like the body-language of the dogs in the movie, it’s very evocative of real dogs. It’s set in a future dystopian Japan and is about dogs being banished to an island to quarantine and eventually euthanize them. A young boy, Atari, goes on a quest to save his dog. The dogs are all talking German, and the people are all talking Japanese (we watched the German version). Some of the Japanese bits are translated, but not all. The dogs also don’t understand the humans (at one point one of them says “It would be nice if someone could speak his [Atari’s] language.” That created a really interesting effect for me, reminding me how Curious Dog may hear my nattering at him as a lot of noise with just a few intelligible words and that a lot or our communication is via emotion and body language. This can, of course, also be true in the communication between humans if they don’t speak a common language. I wonder how this movie would work for viewers who speak Japanese, as they can understand both the humans and the dogs. There are also thought-provoking bits about ownership and loyalty. The fictional politics are evocative of real history, and, sadly, of current events. I found it a thought-provoking, enjoyable film! I’m sure we’ll watch it again.