Monday, September 10, 2018

Herdern Neighbourhood and Lessons Learned

My apologies about the formatting of the last post, missing my editor, efforts to clean it up failed, as it has again... I just viewed older posts which did not have underlining on them and now do. An issue to be resolved obviously but I'd rather get this post out, imperfect as it is. I ask for your patience with Thanks.

Lessons or bureaucracy learned about death of a common-law spouse in Germany. First of all I am not considered a spouse in Germany, the country does not recognize any relationship other than marriage (same sex is okay if married) or an actual birth relation. That has made me a non-entity in filing the paperwork needed for the death certificate. To explain, when we first bought in Germany we had to register with the City and on that form we had to say what marital status we were. There was no box for common-law so Bruce said he was divorced (can’t remember but I likely did too so this will be a problem if I die, lawyer to be engaged here). The City needs his marriage license and divorce decree (not certificate which is only valid for 31 days after the divorce) before issuing the international death certificate. Erwin contacted Bruce’s ex-wife and she has come through for us/me in getting these documents. Here’s the rub, I don’t know how I could have done this alone, I didn’t even know the ex-wife’s surname, she went back to her maiden name. Erwin found her on Facebook. So to shorten this tale of reality, listen up! If you are an ex-pat in a common-law relationship you’d better get your affairs in order! Questions I have, is it the same in Spain? Joint bank accounts and a will naming me as his sole inheritor don’t count. That one check box on the City document caused much hassle, who knew the repercussions of it? 

Living in a different neighbourhood has helped me heal. Who says you can't travel in the same city, especially living in a different area of it. The deal with the shared apartment we have in Rieselfeld is that D & E get the summers, we’ve always left for wonderful experiences in Paris and Vienna and others. This year I need to stay in Freiburg to finish up Bruce’s affairs so Erwin found me a place in Herdern. The apartment is crazy expensive but the neighbourhood is a lovely mix of old buildings and new, all well kept up. 

A bit like the "painted ladies" in San Francisco

Love the door detail.

Lots of mature trees for shade on the sidewalks, needed this summer. A bonus is that I’ve found better services here for pedicures and hair cuts. The flat has a lovely patio on both sides. 

Other end of the patio, Lu, landlord joked that I wouldn't be charged more if the plants died, but I have enjoyed looking after them really.

Tall ceilings so when it was so hot, the building didn’t get too much so, as I controlled the blinds. Right now, a plant is taking over the back balcony at an alarming rate and I have no tools to control it, ach! Attack of the plants! 

Speaking of plants, there is a Botanical Garden a few blocks from this flat, I visited this week. It was very pleasing in layout, all plants were labeled and there were small ponds scattered throughout. 

Many glass buildings as greenhouses but I didn’t go in, too nice a day! 
A lady was photographing something in the pond so I went up too, to find this little greenie. 

Massive trees lined the many pathways. In short it was a delight! 
Unique sculpture

I exited a different way from entering and walked through more of the neighbourhood, almost getting lost, but my internal compass helped me get back. I will miss living in this neighbourhood, I have enjoyed wandering it and seeing the diverse architecture. 

All for now, Cheers Bev and Lexi Cat

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Life with and without Bruce

Lexi is needing more cuddles these days and demands them. When we first met her at the SPCA she climbed onto Bruce’s shoulder and claimed him hers, as he did back. He has always been more affectionate with her having had about 20 cats before. So we’re both purring along as best we can.

Hot, hot, hot here, sapping my energy, 32 - 36 Celsius for the last three weeks. Know Sevilla is almost 10 degrees hotter so glad I’m not there right now, but plan to go late fall, early winter.

Thank you for your condolences, I am feeling guilty for not writing back sooner but have to live with the range of emotions I have been feeling and writing has been difficult. 

What I most appreciated and enjoyed while living with Bruce who I called Whit for 14 years.

 - We had a wonderful life together realizing both our dreams of travelling. We did a lot of travelling prior to my writing the blog (and living with Lexi), Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Hawaii, western Europe… 

- We had a strange, even to us, connection of frequently voicing the same thing, simultaneously, without prior talk about it, very much in tune that way.

- We did not get married because Bruce felt that if we did he wouldn’t woo me any more, he wanted to keep our romance and appreciation for each other fresh.

- He loved me deeply, as I did him, more so than either one of us had experienced in previous relationships.

- Living together was companionable, we talked, or didn’t, we were so very at ease with each other. We went out every day to experience something new or explore or just sit in a cafe to see people and dogs.

- We balanced each other well, his imaginative, scientific and analytical brain to my practical and business like one.

To be fair, and he would agree, what was not as easy about living with him.

  • He couldn't or wouldn't dance, I love to dance.
  • He has always been a night person, as a professor stayed up into the early hours of morning to write his publications to further his epic career. I have always been an early morning person raised on a farm so especially in the later time together this became a bit more difficult.
  • He sleep walked, won’t go into detail, but did cause some funny and embarrassing, sometimes almost dangerous, situations we found ourselves in.
  • Bruce relied on someone to clean after him, he just didn’t think about it. He told me when first living on his own he couldn’t figure out why his bathroom smelled funky, well he hadn’t washed the towels for a while. He was a messy smoker, and didn’t clean his computer, (Rocio would for him with a tsk, tsk). He took it in for service one time and the horrified fellow said why would you use this as a coffee table? 
He was truly so very ill the last two and a half weeks of his life, but was able to have a coherent conversation with Dawna and Erwin one afternoon, which we all appreciated. He died rather quickly really, which we are glad of for him especially, due to the prognosis of no recovery of mind or body. When I see a butterfly I think of Bruce being free of his body.

So one facet of life is over for me and where will I go next? Still thinking on that but for now will stay in Freiburg until we (with D & E’s valuable help) get the death documents filed and will probated. I am looking to a new chapter in life, with sadness and anticipation at the same time. I am grateful that I have lived on my own for 10 years prior to meeting Bruce so I have coping skills, I know I have to wash the towels regularly… 

That's all for now, Best, Bev and Lexi Cat

Sunday, June 17, 2018

This and That

We don't know what kind of tree this is but it's pretty.

Bruce and I took a walk/roll into our local park and found a nice shady area for us to sit about in. While the hustle and bustle of our little village is often entertainment, this suited the moment and the place where we happened to be that day. Butterflies and birds danced over the trees and children came and went. 
The area in the middle is a pond in spring.
One even had a miniature tractor and trailer, I asked if I could take a picture, thinking of my father and his tractors with Father’s Day today, but the young lad said no, okay then. In fact I think they may have been stealing plants from the park, or were ready to, spade and wheelbarrow also evident.

Bruce is taking a protein shake right now, we get it from the Apoteka (drugstore) here in the village. The ladies there all speak some English, some better than others, but I can usually get what I need across to them. One lady in particular has been extremely nice, I ordered in a few more bottles of the chocolate shake and it didn’t come in due to the holiday I suspect. She was apologetic and said it would be in later in the day. Then she said it could be arranged to have it delivered to the house, I said yes please. She brought it herself! How kind. I gave her a thank you card which she insisted wasn't necessary.

“Pretty bird”, I swear that is what the common crows here say, they have orange beaks so are pretty in a way and they are the ones that visit Lexi.

Sunday I’d hoped and we had partially planned to meet with Frank, Ina and dog Rosalie but they had plans to visit his parents instead. Christoph called and said he had a very successful tour week, treated himself to breakfast in Rieselfeld, don’t know why, but called to meet up. Short lunch, he had another appointment but good to get out and see him, I think he understands that I appreciate his friendship. We’ve always been able to talk frankly about our lives, especially since I sit in the front seat with him, he can vent to me. He does love talking to Bruce about more intelligent matters, philosophy and history.
Very blurry picture, okay, I was nervous...
Big what I assume is a locust, a grasshopper? or some big green insect on our wall and I’m trying to think of how to get rid of it, don’t want to kill it. Two reasons for that, big mess and it is a truly beautiful creature, just doesn't belong in the flat! Finally figure out a method, we have two jugs, plastic, so I trap it between the two and send it to the balcony. Getting rid of spiders I’ve used a spatula and glass to trap but this insect was too big for that method, That required two hands, no hand to get the door open… so there you go, one beautiful insect restored to nature.

Saturday I went into the church shop of our local church, while that might not mean anything to you, it’s not open hours that I’m normally shopping, run by volunteers is my guess. Anyway they have a real eclectic mix of things in there, many hand made from different countries. I liked the shop and it’s variety but didn’t buy anything.
This went flying by the other day. Europa Park is like Europe's version of Disneyworld.
Pepe got in contact via WhatsApp video, he’s going to our AGM at the condo in Sevilla and checked all is okay inside. Great to see the man again!  

I‘ve been cutting the lavender we have on our patios to bring inside, why not, it has a lovely smell and we have plenty of it.
Bees love it!

Happy Father's Day to you and yours!
Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Bad Wine (What?!) and Roses

This beauty was next to the Bio store, maybe pure living had it's effect?

Saturday May 20th and we watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, did you? Timing wasn’t as good, middle of the night for those of you in North America, so maybe not. Never fear, it’ll be rebroadcast by BBC for a long time I expect. It was beautiful, and the women’s hats rivalled those that some wear in Spain. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets around Windsor castle and through the town. It was a delight to see, the ceremony, the exited viewers etc.

We had lunch with Frank, Ina and Rosalie (her dog) at Ciao Bella and all got to know each other a bit. Nice people and doggie. We’ll get together again I’m sure. The proprietor even gave us a shot of what I think was Kahlua after our meal. (My girlfriend from Victoria and I used to make it!) When we first came to the restaurant, years ago, the proprietor looked kind of grumpy but he’s warmed up over the few years we’ve been. Ina said she thought he had had some troubles, she knows him, living next door with a view into their kitchen. Anyway, lovely people and Rosalie, who put her head on my lap for a bit after I rubbed her ears.

Our local rose garden, the smell was wonderful, foliage at the top is wisteria which was also lovely in bloom.

Spent all day looking after finding a place I had found in Horgen, close to Zurich, Switzerland in 2014. Airbnb keeps all the correspondence between even non-booked places. So was happy to reconnect with this gent again but it seems he has to ask his current long term client if he wants to stay longer. Damn thought I’d found the perfect place, well we’ll wait a couple of days and see the result about that. The flat looks amazing and has lake views between apartments. Well not to go on unless we get it. 

This is our blurb for apartments:

Hello (name of person if given) We are a retired couple who travel with a house trained cat. My husband uses a motorized wheelchair outside the house but he needs to bring it into the house to charge the battery. We both smoke tobacco. If there is an elevator to your apartment we will need the measurements of it to make sure the chair fits in it. Please respond. Thank You Kindly, Beverley, Bruce and Lexi Cat.

I opened a local bottle of red wine and it is bad, gone off, that will be fun taking it back…. With the day before being a holiday the store was extremely busy. I waited some time for the manager who was clerking through mounds of groceries. I didn’t want to go into the entryway to have them think I’d stolen the wine, one bottle was unopened, same lot number on the back. He finally had a moment to call up a clerk, I showed her the translation on my phone (handy application for a handy which is what cell phones are called here). She took it to the manager and he scanned them and handed me cash. 

Big lightning storm last day of May, with fork lighting and sheet with heavy rain. This building is amazing on how it gets rid of lots of rain! 

Ina called and thanked us for her birthday card, she is one exuberant lady, I like her a lot, she was greatly surprised to get it. A small gesture on our part but meaningful to her. They are going on another week vacation so we have agreed to meet on their return.

I keep taking pictures of the cattle we have in the field, including four calves but I'm not satisfied with how they come out, maybe they are camera shy, will keep trying...

This is our local swallow condo. The round bumps under the roof are all nests.

All for now, Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day! and Outings

Sitting under the wisteria tree attached to the building

We went out with Christoph on May 1st, Labour Day here and a holiday. He had a tour to do in the morning so booked a table for 2 pm for lunch at a restaurant in Staufen that shall remain nameless this time. We’ve been there before but the service was truly awful today. They didn’t give me the right meal, they didn’t give Christoph the right meal either! We sent them back and waited for the correct ones.

Yes folks, the white on the strawberries is salt, nice presentation though.

Salt was on Christoph’s desert strawberries, (how does that happen?!) a mistake they rectified, we waited ages for coffee. Food is good when you get it though and presentation is lovely, just today was not a good one service wise.

There was a brass band playing throughout lunch which was very good, just limited conversation a bit. Music played was much like what the Canadian Brass plays if you are familiar with them, good quality music. Very enjoyable outing! The fields are covered with spargel/white asparagus nets like long white worms. The strawberries have mostly been picked now, it’s a very pretty time of year with flowering trees also, we sat under masses of flowering wisteria, beautiful!

On the way back Christoph told me about a stork in one of the villages who steals socks off washing lines to line his nest, his name is Hansi and because stork nests can weigh up to 1000 pounds which would damage a rooftop they took his down. Many build platforms for the storks to nest on, but when they took Hansi’s down they found 60 unmatched socks in it! Here’s another little tidbit you may not know, Germans always wear socks, even with sandals, so I suppose we could consider Hansi a real German. Cute story, and true, it made the local newspaper.

Bird watching...

I truly believe we have birds that visit Lexi, tonight one brought her a worm, but they do visit and she talks to them. This is a common blackbird from this area, tail goes up when it chirps.

Into the Kaiserstuhl with Christoph on Tuesday, he is teaching in Strasbourg, France and it is a national holiday there on Tuesday May 8. He likes Strasbourg but it is an hour and half drive each way. We ate spargel/asparagus at the Krone, always good there, a bit expensive, but good.

Olives on the tree.

Then went to Landerer for wine, I think this is our fifth year. They employ Polish workers they like and trust but the season has started early this year and they are not available yet so lots of vine trimming needed to be done by the family. 

Bruce found a recipe for Swedish meatballs so we bought all the ingredients and planned to make them up on Ascension Day, a national holiday, May 10. Woke up to heavy rain, so what better thing to do - cook. Except dumb me didn’t think and I hard boiled the eggs we had. Now what?, everything is closed for the holiday. So I tram to a nearby bakery that serves breakfast and using the translator on my phone, ask to buy a couple of raw eggs from them, probably one of the more unusual requests they’ve had but they did for 80 cents! Now I can cook, Swedish meatballs here we come!

Admittedly I’ve never made meatballs before, and won’t again, fiddly buggers, decided after this lot I’m better with casseroles or one pot dishes. Anyway, they did turn out well, definitely not low fat, but tasty. The best Swedish meatballs, recipe critic, thank you, and Bruce loves it! If you want the recipe, let me know.

Happy Mother's Day to those that are! Cheers, Bx2 & Lexi Cat

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

It's May!

Sign at the Irish Merchant Pub in Sevilla

We flew Sevilla to Frankfurt, dull flight which is good these days, reminder to self to use media options or just take a novel. Overnight in the same hotel we use and the desk clerk recognizes us as does the bartender and he even remembers that we come in twice a year and like the chicken wings, which of course we order. He also makes a mean gin and tonic which Bruce has. 

Back to the train station, housed in the airport and we are ridiculously too early so spend time outside smoking and drinking water and coke. On board we met a fellow from Finland, a Laplander and a Sami from the north, and his wife, he had a hand held wheelchair which he walked along. We had been sitting with a lad, but this man booted him out of the wheelchair section and made room for the four of us to sit. They travel with a very lovely dog named Mikita, funny we got the name of the dog and not them. I came back from the dining car where they no longer have our fav sandwich, with a beer to share, to find the dog laid out happily on the sheepskin and wooden scarf that had been in their basket. Anyway, conversation with them made the journey feel faster. They got on at Offenburg and off in Freiburg to specifically go to Ikea. Well why not? 
Came home to this carpet of dandelions!
Christoph took us to Ikea after a Black Forest tapas lunch at Gasthausblume, we were there, at Ikea, specifically for another sheepskin for Bruce’s hips. Bruce found out it would take an hour by various modes of transport and only 10 minutes by car, made sense to hire Christoph. I warned Christoph I wanted to get in and out as soon as possible. He was surprised though when that’s exactly what we did. I weaved and dodged through the crowd to get to and return to cash with determination to make this trip as short as possible. As a kid, I got really good at dodging crowds, applied today, haven’t forgotten the skill. I think Christoph had a bit of trouble following sometimes and certainly looked around more than I did. He said I was super unusual for a woman and told Bruce I was a “keeper” because I didn’t stop or waver to look at anything else.
This little image was on the side of an elevator shaft
 It’s been unseasonably hot here the last few days, we stopped for an ice cream on the way home, too hot to sit outside, that hot, then it cooled off and rained a few days.

Frank owns a shop on Rieselfeldallee, same street as where we live, he carries cigarettes, tram passes, has a copy machine and various paper and pen products. He’s a small fellow and very friendly, has good English so we always chat when going in. There is a lady who lives in Rieselfeld that has a service dog, her affliction is not visible but we talked to her at length probably a couple of years ago now. You’ll wonder where I’m going with this… Well they are together Frank and Ina and her dog Rosalie. I’m so happy for them both and they are going on vacation next week to Nice, France, both visibly excited about the trip. Romance in the air, I love it!

We went to Zoo Burkart as we do for Lexi things, new scratch pad (better than the couch!), food, new litter box, t.r.e.a.t.s. (written that way because she knows the word…) There was a sitting circle of kids and they had a couple of rabbits out for the kids to pet. After they were back in their cage, another one was running and jumping over them. More action than we’ve ever seen, maybe they smelled a bit funny due to interaction with the kids?
At the restaurant Suden, read on.
Also there...
We had a wonderful day meeting up with Adrienne, and Jeffrey and Jeffrey’s friend from Seattle Tonja for lunch at Suden in Vauban. Vauban is another green neighbourhood in Freiburg, often compared to ours, since they were built around the same time. The restaurant was lovely, we sat outside and the food was good, lots of vegan choices for Jeffrey and Adrienne. We both liked Tonja very much, her husband comes next week, she was here on a three month training contract. Her German is pretty fluent due to the contract, but we all spoke English. Anyway, lovely to see Jeffrey and Adrienne again and to meet another interesting person.

This weekend is the Spring Festival at the City nursery, we were going to go on Saturday but lunch trumped it so we’ll go tomorrow. It’s an interesting “fair” and changes a lot each year, this must be our fourth or fifth year in attendance. We saw Tonja there!

Augustina, our friend and cleaner came the same day and told us she is moving back to Ghana where she is from. She cannot find a job here after gaining her degree, does not speak German which for her would be a major stumbling block and we wondered about that. She would be able to in a larger city with headquarters for a bank or large corporation but that isn’t here. She said she is from a family of eight children and has a twin brother who initially came here with her but moved back about a year ago. We are sad to see her go, she is a lovely, young lady, very religious, not pushy about it, intelligent, but this is likely the best move for her and her career. She has recommended a friend, so has not left us in the lurch, we will talk to her on Monday. We seem to make friends with the people who help us out by cleaning our places. They are important people to us, especially to me, since Bruce doesn’t clean, never has. 
Not an everyday sight, she is riding down the path to the Mundenhof.
The cuckoos (real birds) are here and yes, they sound just like the clocks.
Storm a brewin'

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Feria de Abril, Seville's April Fair

These ladies were kind enough to let me take their picture!

Feria de Abril, Sevilla’s April fair started today! It’s quite a fashion show. Before I get into that we sold our house in Madeira Park but I’ll do a separate post on that because there is a lot to learn from our experience.

The fashions change over years also, men’s not so much but details on women’s do. The accessories e.g. flower in the hair are just as important as the dress itself. 

We are moving back to Freiburg Tuesday of this week, our partners D & E are going back to a cold Ottawa. 

Here are the first pictures, shot today. There will likely be more.

He said Hola! 
Look at the heads of the horses, adorned as much as the ladies, almost.
In the short time we were out I saw more white dresses than other years.

I must get busy with packing but doing so as not obvious as possible, Lexi gets upset and hides herself. So I choose what goes and it gets thrown into the suitcase last minute. I'll be keeping my ears peeled for the clip clop of horses while doing so, camera around my neck.

Cheers Bx2 and Lexi Cat