When I needed a dog on the Camino 

Wrought iron pilgrims on the Alto del Perdón in Navarra

Early on yesterday, I met a local and his mid-sized dog climbing down off of the Alto del Perdón. It looked like some sort of poodle, but he assured me it was a waterdog of some sort. 
We exchanged pleasantries in my atrocious Spanish, and I thought that was it. We’d walk a few minutes with his dog, which pleased me immensely, and at some point he’d head back home or stop in the next village. 

Instead, the two of them walked in parallel with me for nearly the whole day (more than 30 km). Sometimes we’d walk together, sometimes he’d move ahead or lag behind. 

He assured me the water in one village was delicious, as if I was going to pass up a chance to fill my bottle. And most importantly, what I assumed was a momentary encounter, became an entire day’s camaraderie. 

The dog became obsessed with an aluminum can at some point. Wanting him to play fetch, the eager little canine kept running back to get the can and then hightailing it back to the man who hadn’t broken his stride. 

After several attempts to get his guy to throw the can, the dog finally accepted there wasn’t going to be any game of fetch and on we went. 

I wanted to stop and acquiesce to the dog’s desire, but assured myself that was neither my place nor did we have the time. I knew I had a lot of ground to carry. Still unaware we’d be together most of the rest of the day, I was perturbed the man wouldn’t humor his dog. 

This is a long drawn out story that I’m still pondering, which is why it’s meandering so, but if I were to try to squeeze some meaning out of it at the moment, it’d be something about how long people are in your life and that your assumptions/expectations about such a thing are often preposterous. 

The other is that as much as I was missing my dogs, somehow there was a dog to walk with me for a good portion of the day. 

I don’t necessarily think everything happens for a reason and I’m hesitant to be so presumptuous to think any of that was planned; however, my thoughts did start wandering along the path of serendipity. Dare I say grace? 

Who knows. That little dog was fantastic, though. Highlight of my day, and that’s saying a lot. 

I had a damned good day.

First Susanne became obsessed and then I decided to offer a new blogging course

Ken at Axioma

You have your people. I’m sure you look around your circle of friends and say to yourself, ‘I love what they’re doing…wish I could help them out more.‘ Well, as much as you love your people, and I’m sure you do, my people just keep creating new things and I want to do what I can to let everybody know about them.

One of my people – one of the better ones, I might add – is Susanne, and she’s recently become obsessed with blogging and social media. I looked on with both amusement and pride last year, as her first blogposts started showing up on my newsfeed.

Here’s her most recent post, and I’m sure you’ll see why I find her writing so endearing: Desperado (by Susanne Plassman) Leave it to her to take a topic like suicide and make it inspiring.

I reached out to her and said, ‘Hey, I know something about the whole blogging lark, so drop me a line if you need any guidance.

Almost immediately, she responded with, ‘Yes, let’s talk! Am besten Gestern*!‘ That’s how she is, by the way. A theatre chick with all the positive associations in tow.

Susanne and I are conspiring to do some projects together and I’m sure I’ll be talking about them here and on social media, but in the meantime…her predicaments while getting started in blogging made me think, ‘There must be so many other locals who need some tips and pointers on this whole social media thing.

Right?

So, I talked to the language school Axioma, which is centrally located in the Maxvorstadt district of Munich, and we’ve decided to offer a course in social media. Here’s a link to the Social Media / Blogging von Anfang an course. Click on it, and see how much of your high school or college German you can remember.

*rough translation of ‘am besten Gestern‘: I need this yesterday!

 

 

 

 

Old Braunfels…getting the band back together edition

  

In the coming months, I’ll be pimping this blog and sending my astounding levels of traffic toward a couple of the projects I’m working on these days.

Some of these projects are new, but most are the latest instalments of continuing collaborations. One of the nearest and dear to me is the one I’ve been working on pretty regularly with ol’ snaggletoothed Jarrod Shepherd.

It should be mentioned if you click on the SoundCloud graphic down below, you can hear a bunch of our repertoire. On some of the songs, you’ll also hear Javi ‘Hansfry’. He’s a Spanish Per Anhalter, which is the German word for hitchhiker.

Oh, and if you actually make it out one night to hear Old Braunfels, there’ll likely be some other musicians sitting in. We’ve been playing with a brand new guitarist this year, and there was even a percussionist sitting in on one of our shows in the waning days of summer.

We’ve got some shows in the coming months and even more in the New Year. Come out and hear some country-fried Americana. Tell ’em Bernie Sanders sent you – you might get a discount at the door.

professing myself a bad American…what a week

‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore’

It started when Islamic terrorists were coming over the Texas border and training in camps to attack the locals. I saw the photos of black-clad baddies with questionable insignias on their outfits, and I knew what I was supposed to believe. This was what we’d been warned about, and here it was coming to pass. They were secretly invading the homeland, and those of us who couldn’t see it were sheeple, who didn’t have the courage to stand up to this aggression.

I seem to remember the rumors about these secret training camps were debunked, but I hadn’t been particularly worried to begin with. Why?

Well, because I’m a bad American. I truly am.

In my attempt to be playful, which isn’t necessarily appreciated in these sensitive times, I asked if people were actually worried about such nonsense. I’d made it a habit of reading sources from all edges of the political spectrum, so it wasn’t as if this rhetoric was unknown to me. I’d lived through the 90s and the fear of those pesky ‘Black Helicopters’ and the looming ‘One World Order’ that they promised was coming.

In response to my tongue in cheek humor, I got a full spectrum of responses all the way from ‘believe the threats are real’ to ‘this is utter nonsense’. I make a half-assed attempt at cultivating online friendships with people of various political stripes, so it didn’t particularly bother me. Well, most of it didn’t.

The one that got in my proverbial craw, though? Might seem innocuous, yet it was anything but. The gist of this comment was: ‘You don’t live here anymore. Things have changed. You don’t understand.

Bad American. Remember?

Now, like I said – I try to read stuff from all sorts of sources. I understand the anti tyranny rhetoric, as well as the anti government thinking, and there’s so much of all of it I can and cannot get behind.

However, there’s one sort of fundamental thing on which I’m unwavering. Your right to say it. I’m sure this person wasn’t saying I had no right to my opinion, but the implication was that my perspective was lessened because I’d abandoned ship. You’re not even here anymore, goes this logic, so why do you think your opinion even has any validity?

Something was weirdly altered for me that day, which sadly affected me and the way I’ve been interacting online ever since. We all get to decide how we interact with one another in cyberspace, as well as the face-to-face, and I slowly resolved to limit my true discussion to the latter. I’d never been particularly outspoken online about my strongest thoughts, and my course of action was to play my cards even closer to my vest. In retrospect, I’ve noticed that this wasn’t the best course of action.

Not for a bad American, such as myself.

I’ve often been grateful social media didn’t exist when I was younger. If there’d been a platform for me to share some of the inane nonsense that passed for my attempt at reasonable thought, I’d have made myself quite a target for scathing criticism. Instead, the best I got of that was from my dad when he tried valiantly not to laugh himself silly at my half-baked pronouncements. None of this is unique, to be clear. Folly of youth and all that, I suppose.

Here’s the thing, though. Hopefully, I’ve matured and learned how to make a reasoned argument. Take conflicting information into account and make an informed decision. Weigh the value and reliability of sources and question my assumptions and biases.

You can question my patriotism, and I’d probably agree with you. I’ve already called myself a bad American. You can’t get me with that one.

Living so far from my countrymen has made me both more critical of what’s going on stateside, and weirdly more fierce about my right to say such things. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m well aware I’ll get a bit of heat. Maybe a lot, but I intend to take it in stride.

No matter how much I’m laughing at some of the nonsense that passes for political chatter, I assure you I’m still laughing wholeheartedly at myself. As I scratch out this resolution to be more outspoken via social media, I can still hear my dad chuckling. ‘Don’t take yourself so damned seriously,’ he’d quip. Yes, sir. You got it.

your politics don’t belong here 

Still life in a kitchen somewhere in Kansas

  • Driving to a pumpkin patch
  • Taking a dip in a corn bath, which I’ll describe in a sec
  • The butterfly house
  • Digging up sweet potatoes
  • Chatting with the Pendeltons (it’s their farm where the pumpkin patch is, so that’s what you do)
  • Seeing a Monarch butterfly in the wild after seeing a bunch of them back in the butterfly house
  • Shielding our eyes as a car drives by on a dirt road, so as not to get dust in your eyes

No-one’s talking about the maelstrom that’s going on in American domestic politics…as a matter of fact, I’m just assuming I’d get into a heated debate with any of the other people here at the pumpkin patch, yet maybe I shouldn’t be so sure. 

For one thing, I don’t typically discuss politics or religion online. However, maybe I’ll change my mind about that. Not sure yet. 

Just going to luxuriate in this massive tub of dry corn. As one is wont to do in the pumpkin patch somewhere in Kansas. 

wheels up…see you stateside

another wheel – the Riesenrad at the Oktoberfest

Off to the States for a wedding, as well as much needed time with family. There’s been so much I’ve wanted to blog about the last several weeks…I’m writing, but it’s just not making it here. 

The post Oktoberfest season is in full force back home in Munich. The best part of hiking season and people are trying to put out of their minds that the holidays are just round the corner. 

More than a few people have commented that this is an intriguing time to be stateside. Might make for some particularly engaging thoughts hereabouts. 

Stay tuned…

So, Which Is It?

So much of this I completely agree with.

Some of the rhetoric won’t translate well outside the confines of the continental US, but that wasn’t the intended audience.

We don’t get to decide racism doesn’t exist anymore. Fat chance. Take a deep breath. Ok, take another one.

Now, do something about this for a change.

It's Fine.

I’m scared to post this. I’m afraid of alienating people I love, people I interact with on a daily basis, people whose friendships I value. I wouldn’t say this if it hadn’t been weighing heavy, like a 50 pound weight on my tongue every time I open my mouth to say something and stop before it comes out because I don’t want to stir the pot. I don’t want anyone to be mad at me. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But I can’t, in good conscience, do that anymore.

I live with a certain degree of privilege. Monetary privilege? Not so much. But social privilege? Absolutely. I am part of a demographic that is perceived as the LEAST THREATENING to society. I’m a White Lady. Further, I’m a Southern White Lady. Still further, I’m a Heterosexual, Cis-Gender, Southern White Lady who Happens to be the Married Mother of Two…

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