Feuerzangenbowle and those silly dogs

What in God’s name is this one? I’ve lived in Germany this time around for nearly two decades, and there are still times I feel like I’ve just arrived. Regularly, I have an expat problem that’d be solved by me being a bit more tolerant.

That’s preposterous, isn’t it? I’m a guest in this country, and yet I still want them, the natives, to fulfil to my expectations. I expect them to change in order to make me a bit more comfy. Really?

Now why am I calling Germans ‘natives’? It’s easy really. Normally you might think of my host country as a group of hard working and dour people. That’s the stereotype at least. One exception, of course, is Karnival, which is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or even Carnival in Rio.

They’re wild, and I’m not exaggerating. Around the Christmas season, they also get a little freaky when they have holiday parties and celebrate like they’ve got no care in the world. A few weeks out of the office and heaps of time with the family – it’s a recipe for heavy drinking.

Speaking of heavy drinking, have you heard of fire tongs punch? Here’s a description:

Feuerzangenbowle (German: [ˈfɔʏɐtsaŋənˌboːlə]) is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine. It is often part of a Christmas or New Year’s Eve tradition. The name translates literally as fire tongs punch. The popularity of the drink was boosted in Germany by the 1944 comedy film Die Feuerzangenbowle.

It is a traditional drink of some German fraternities, who also call it Krambambuli, as the red color is reminiscent of a cherry liqueur of that name which was manufactured by the distillery Der Lachs zu Danzig in Gdańsk, Poland.

Wikipedia

That drink will get one incredibly drunk, I assure you. I know from personal experience, but that was a long time ago. I’ve not anything to drink in quite a few years, but I still vividly remember what drinking this stuff was like.

Apropos of the Feuerzangenbowle, I’ve been invited to Weilheim to see a performance of the original stage play, and I’m going. Even have an extra ticket I’m trying to give away. If you live near Munich (or Weilheim, even better) and want to go, call me. I’m not online on Sundays, so you’ll have to use that old-fashioned telephone.

The last thing I want to mention is that although I’m not posting about it as much as I’m feeling it, the turmoil of losing Ella has been a bit breathtaking, but not in the positive sense. I’ve found myself in the weirdest moments tearing up at the thought of her and her brother frolicking in the wild yonder there.

Yes, I was lucky to have them for such a long time. They cared for me in a dark time, and more importantly they gave me a daily opportunity to take care of someone else. Bear with me here, ok?

Despite me being a new parent, I’ve got plenty of opinions on parenthood. If you listened to me talk, you’d think, ‘Why’s this guy mansplaining raising children to me?‘ Having said all that, my takeaway is that as a father (or mother) must often put his needs on the back burner. It’s how it is – for me, it’s the feature I most need. To think less of Lahikmajoe, I mean.

Oversharing about overspending & belt tightening & why Andrea’s question has me writing this to begin with

I’ve been accused of oversharing, but then I always remember my friend who shared a photo of her naughty bits on twitter to make a point. Why do I mention that? Well, I suppose I do say things online that others wouldn’t.

And when I do so, it sometimes makes the people I love cringe. That moment I’m sure they read what I’ve posted and they think to themselves: Why does he have to talk about that? Is nothing sacred? Don’t we have a private sphere anymore?

I heard a podcast earlier this year in which there were parents discussing how much they shared of their children’s lives online. What kind of photos were acceptable and essentially where each parent’s parameters lay, which made me glad I didn’t have to concern myself with such things.

I’ve got enough trouble worrying about my own online presence without having to try figuring out someone else’s. Teaching a young person how to navigate the web? Gives me night sweats just thinking about it. Uggh…

So, here goes.

Andrea (aGirlfromMontrose), who’s a friend from high school you’re going to hear me talking about more, because I love her blog, asked me a question.

I promised her an answer in blog form, so here goes.

Oh, another thing before I forget: I’ve resolved to use this site more as a tool for a few things.

Recently, WordPress asked me if I wanted to keep up with the blogging lark. Well, actually they were more crafty, which I respect. They said: Your site’s being renewed. You needn’t do anything. We’ve got it taken care of.

But being the overthinking sod that I am, I considered just pulling the plug on the whole damned thing. Starting from scratch with something more conventional.

Lahikmajoe is a terrible name for a brand. It regularly baffles people when they first see it. How’s it even pronounced? Where does it come from? Why should I read something or follow links to such a site?

So there’s that…

Let me go back to the story with Andrea, though. It’s a narrative that’s easily followed.

She saw me jet off to Kraków and take the train to Venice a few weeks later. Then I was in Spain on the Camino showing my mother my favourite spots in northern Spain, as well as exploring Madrid for the first time.

There was Easter in a big Ferienhaus (a group of us rented a whole house) up in the Austrian Alps and photos of Asians taking photos of each other (& of my dogs #EllaandLouis) while we spent a day in Hallstadt.

There was essentially some sort of trip every few weeks, and when we finally ended up on holiday in Italy this summer, Andrea had had enough.

In comments on some post, she demanded: What do you do exactly? How can you afford all this travel? I want that life. What do I need to do to get to motor round like that and see all that stuff?

Well, here comes the oversharing:

I can’t. There’s been too much outflow and not enough income. I’ve overspent on travel this year, and now it’s time to do some belt tightening and get back to fiscal basics.

The funny thing is, though, I’ve got it under control, because while my freelance work often dries up in summer, it turns out autumn is regularly quite busy.

There’ll be a period around Christmas until Epiphany, when I can’t work anyway, so I’m already planning a trip stateside. I’ve not been to Vermont since college, when a couple of Deadheads and I drove from Albany to Burlington on a whim, but there might be Yuletide in the Northeast Kingdom (a place whose name I’ve always thought was rather magical). Then if things go as planned New Year’s in New Orleans and time with my people in coastal Texas.

That bastard Hurricane Harvey, who devastated the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana last week, has made me uncharacteristically homesick, which is a feeling I nearly never experience, so pardon me if this blog becomes a bit Texas-flavoured in the coming weeks.

I promised Andrea a blogpost explaining what I do, so here it is. I overshare. I tell people online what online marketers insist you shouldn’t. I tell my readers too much and it’s both cathartic and a little daft.

Because I’ve thrown in for another year on WordPress, I’m going to get my money’s worth. I’m going to use my blog the way I used to do my teablog:

People who drink tea used to read my blog about the brown liqueur, the leafy goodness. The drink that fuels my adventures since I gave up on John Barleycorn years ago. Yet the astounding thing was how many people who didn’t even drink tea told me they loved my blog.

Just the writing. Whether they even drank it or not. Some regular readers even insisted they couldn’t stand the stuff (I never trusted those people — just seems suspect to me). For now on, there’s going to be regular content hereabouts, but this time with an editorial calendar and a better eye on my audience. Most importantly there’s also going to be a goal.

I want this place to be where people come for something whimsical. A bit of the ridiculous in an otherwise serious and grown up life. Again, that’s why even non tea drinkers read my earlier site. It was certainly about tea, but barely.

Some days it was about what was pissing me off, but most of the time it was my inspiration. Whatever caught my fancy. Whatever bliss I was tapping into, as Joseph Campbell was talking about.

The thing that made me want to leap out of bed in the morning? The thing that made me want to do it again and again? I want more of that in my life. I’m assuming you do too.

On a side note, I quit watching or reading the news while in Spain. American news, in particular, just had me anxious. I realised that the more attention I gave Trump and the whole “he said she said” nonsense of the two party system over there, the more irritable I was getting.

Walking along the trail on the Camino de Santiago in the Rioja region of Spain, I reminded myself:

None of that really matters in my day to day life. I take voting seriously, and I’ll do my civic duty when it’s time to do so.

But watch another debate like we seemed to all be doing in 2016? Life’s too short for that shit. There’s too much living going on around, as I hear Lyle Lovett’s voice singing in my memory.

Be good to one another, will you? I’m trying.

Patio Design Ideas

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This is a screenshot of http://lahikmajoe.com…I went there so you don’t have to.

If you went looking for the writing of lahikmajoe and found yourself browsing through patio furniture, here’s the skinny on what happened.

Originally the .com address took you to the tea blog. There was plenty of traffic there, as it was an irreverent and comical attempt at a blog about tea drinking. It was a lot of fun, and it’s entirely possible that I’ll find myself writing about tea again in the future.

However, it won’t be happening at the former address. That url has been bought by pirates. Well, I don’t know the correct term for such people, but pirates is how I’m going to refer to them. Ostensibly, it’s a site selling patio furniture. Click on any links provided and it’ll immediately become clear that they’re not selling any patio furniture.

The only reason the url was bought was to then sell it back to me. Although it was my mistake not to renew the account, I’ve got no intention of spending what they’re asking for the address. It’s simply not worth it to me.

Let me make this very clear, though:

I am not selling patio furniture. 

If you’ve gone looking for the writing of lahikmajoe and/or Ken Macbeth Knowles, it’ll become clear that there’s the patio furniture-related and non patio furniture-related content. This page will continue to focus on the latter.

Incidentally, I did not come to this decision lightly. When my former page was originally bought by the patio furniture pirates, I briefly considered accepting this as a fortuitous twist of fate. I hadn’t been a patio furniture expert, but maybe it was time I became one.

The first thing I could do would be to fix the atrocious English on the patio furniture pirates’ page. The text was clearly written by a translation program. Or simply really poorly written.

So I could clean up the content, link to real pages where actual patio furniture was being sold. Then I could get some Google and Facebook ads and become some sort of patio furniture mogul. Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? You’d buy patio furniture from me. I’m certain you would.

But, alas, it’s simply not to be. I’d send you in the right direction to such a site, but I simply don’t know any.

I do know a site that looks like it’s selling patio furniture. It’s got nothing to do with me.

Nothing at all.

Elaine’s Cuppa Cake

Elaine’s already gotta place to land when she gets to Scotland!

Our favourite Tottenham Riviera blogger elaine4queen has been threatening to move to Scotland, so I happened upon the perfect place for her. Her own café. Where we can all go and be sweary and inappropriate. As we are wont to do.

This isn’t easy – all this blogging. To be honest, I’ve never been a daily blogger. Well, there was a time I wrote a post everyday on my teablog, and that was enjoyable. Was even travelling a lot at the time, and wrote about tea drinking in Vienna and Hamburg and whatnot. I’m not against daily blogging in theory, but it’s really difficult to be out there living and documenting it simultaneously.

Lately, when faced with the choice, I’ve gone with the ‘focus on the life swirling round you‘ approach, and have taken sporadic notes along the way. At some point, I’ll get round to actually making those into blogposts.

There’s a great place where we stayed right outside of Durham, and I’d like to finally write a bit about the Lambton Hounds Inn, which is in the curiously named neighbourhood of ‘Pity Me‘. I mentioned in my last blogpost, and I assure you I’ve not forgotten it.

And then Fafa, which is my mother’s childhood nickname, and I went on to Lindisfarne in Northumbria. That’s worthy of at least three blogposts right there. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And if you know me even a little, you know I’ve been a lot of places.

Here’s a taste of what’s ahead:

Everybody goin’ to the castle on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne…

Then we went to another castle that someone told us was involved in the filming of all of that Harry Potter nonsense, but when we got there, they were having a wedding and the place was closed off to visitors.

Turns out Bamburgh Castle has no connection whatsoever to the filming of those books that I’ve not yet read, but I suppose I will at some point. *sigh*

Mother claiming Bamburgh Castle for her own!

So, that’s a taste of what’s to come…aren’t you excited? Here’s your not-quite-humble-enough blogger at the same castle:

One of the few times you’ll see ol’ Lahikmajoe in less than formal attire.

Lyle and that thing on his arm

pinkies up, yo!

After finishing music school, I moved back in with my parents…temporarily. it was so embarrassing that within a few months I was already living most of the time at my girlfriend’s and soon enough (when she was sick of having me there all the time) I found a place of my own. The Valhalla House.

The story of the Valhalla House is a long and glorious one. Perhaps I’ll tell it another time. It’s certainly entertaining enough, but I came here tonight to tell you about Lyle and that thing on his arm. He already had the thing on his arm when I moved into the Valhalla House, but I didn’t see it till much later. By then it was too late.

We were living in the shadow of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and yet here I was living with a guy who believed the thing on his arm could be healed with alternative medicine.

I’ve got nothing against alternative medicine, for the most part, but if you’ve got a weird growth on your arm whose colour and shape are changing…well, go to a doctor. A real doctor. With a degree. A medical degree. Not some looney tunes madman who suggests you rub an herbal salve on your skin cancer. Are you an idiot? No? Well, then go to a damned doctor.

You’re asking yourself, ‘Why is lahikmajoe so worked up about this?‘ Good question.

The first part of the answer is that Lyle died within six months. You might think he died of skin cancer. I prefer to think he died of ignorance and stubbornness.

The other part of my answer is that for the last few weeks I haven’t been sleeping because of a similar thing. It’s a mole on my leg that I’ve had since I was a child. It’s been the same shape since I was a teenager, and in all likelihod it’s been the same since I was a kid…I don’t know for sure. I didn’t know anything about skin cancer until my roommate died of the godforsaken thing.

But enough people have said over the years, ‘You really should get that thing checked out.‘ So finally I did.

The doctor said, ‘I’m going on holiday soon, but we’ll take a sample and then you can call next week on Thursday before I leave. By then we’ll have the results from the lab.

Sounded good. Well, not good. But it sounded like the best plan under the circumstances. So I tried not to think about it. Couldn’t sleep. Played music at weird hours of the night. Annoyed people on Twitter during times I should normally be off to dreamland.

It wasn’t pretty. I’m a terrible patient. Impatient as hell.

The next Thursday came, I called in the morning, I called in the afternoon…no response. I called again Friday morning, but by then the doctor had fucked off on her holiday. Really.

Look, doctors have hard lives. I’m not being sarcastic. Most people think doctors earn a lot and don’t work very hard. It’s not true. Some are lazy, but some people in any profession are lazy. Except ukulele players. They’re NEVER lazy.

For the most part, in my experience, doctors earn the money that they deserve. It’s a demanding profession.

But this doctor? Let’s just say she wasn’t my favourite human being for several days.

More insomnia. More cursing at the heavens.

I can be a prima donna with the best of them. No one had ever experienced anything as woeful as this in the history of history. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s my damned blog. Deal with it.

After lab results and another doctor and spending most of yesterday in that doctor’s office, it turns out it was nothing. 100% non cancerous…the thing on my leg. Still not happy with the first doctor, but that emotion is slowly dissipating.

The moral of this story.

Never date a ukulele player. That’d be really stupid.