Thursday 31 May 2018

Time to Blog

Some of you blog every day, or almost every day. There used to be a time when I seemed to have a lot more time to blog, too; most of it happened in the morning before leaving for work. These days, I do not get up later or start work earlier (with some exceptions), and I certainly do not have less on my mind I want to blog about. And yet, somehow I can rarely bring myself to sit down and finally write this or that post.
For example, weeks ago, I finished reading a novel on my kindle. The review is more or less fully formed in my head - it only needs to be typed up and posted.

Some of this has to do with my eyes, of course. I already spend too much time looking at computer screens for work; I can hardly avoid that, but it tires the eyes, and although it does not endanger the healing process anymore (almost 7 weeks since the OP now), it does make things a little harder than they used to be.

Also, I have come to a point in my blog where I see less and less comments appear, and I wonder whether it is because my readers are so bored with what I post or simply too busy. There are a handful of you who still take the trouble to regularly visit and comment, and I thank you all - maybe you didn't know how much I really appreciate the dialogue with you that develops through comments (and is sometimes taken up by email and even "snail mail") and turns into friendship - well, now you do!

Anyway. It is the last day of May, and a holiday in my part of Germany. Since both O.K. and I work tomorrow, I did not travel to his place or he to mine, but are spending the day apart. The weekend will soon be here, though, and I'll be there again, with two birthdays we have been invited to and hopefully enough good weather for our customary Sunday morning run and some walks in between.

Last week Wednesday, I had another one of my regular check-ups for my eye. My doctor is again very happy with its progress; she now wants to see me again only in 2 months!

After so many trips there and back, I now know the way to the surgery by heart and can recall it in my mind anytime (as I do sometimes when I can't sleep). We are talking noisy, busy roads in inner city Stuttgart here - not the most idyllic walk, but usually by the time I have my appointments, the worst of the traffic has quieted down for the next few hours.
The walk from the train station to the surgery takes me about 15 minutes and leads past a Catholic church, St. Fidelis. 

From the road, you can see the court through a gate that is always open when I walk past. (I have nicked this picture from their website).

Last week Wednesday on my way back to the station, I decided to go through the gate and have a quick look around. After the drops in my left eye, I couldn't yet see well enough for reading, but I had no trouble walking along familiar roads, and to make out the features of the courtyard.

These angels are for you, Mum! They flank the large door leading into the church. I did not go inside, but from the community's website I gather it is beautiful, with a reduced, but not clinical style; serious but welcoming at the same time. 

The church was built in the 1920s. In 1944, towards the end of WWII, it was bombed, with only the outside walls remaining. The church was rebuilt during the first post-war years and the inside renovated first in the 1960s and then again in 1995.

It is a place that, even from the outside, appears like an oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.  We can all do with a bit of peace and quiet sometimes, can't we, no matter what religion we have or if we are at all religious.

Thursday 24 May 2018

An Investigative Walk

So many of you, my fellow bloggers, have been writing about how wonderful this time of year is. And I can only agree! The fresh green-ness of woods, fields, orchards and vineyards, buttercups and daisies, and don't get me started on the scents! Everywhere I walk these days, except for maybe innercity Stuttgart, is rich with the loveliest scents. I walk or run in the woods or along fields and get a noseful of elderflower or dog rose every few paces. Privet hedges are considered symbols of narrow-minded, conservative neighbourhoods, but I like them - the scent of their tiny white flowers is wonderful, and I am sorry it lasts so briefly.

Last weekend was a long weekend for us here in Germany, as Pentecost Monday is a holiday. I spent it at O.K.'s, and we were out and about quite a lot, starting with a family BBQ (and my first frisbee game ever!) on Saturday. Sunday saw us out for a leisurely run; for me, it was the first time I made more than 7 km since before my OP. I am still far from feeling as fit as I want to, but I am getting there. 
We ran along a path that gave us a good view of the surrounding hilly area, covered in the aforementioned fields, orchards and vineyards. In the not too far distance, we could make out a field that looked very red. We couldn't see it well enough to determine what it was; possibly a mesh covering to protect flowers and/or fruit from birds? We spent the rest of the day doing other things, but in the evening decided to walk there and find out.

Have you ever seen something from a distance and tried to get there, without exactly knowing which paths lead there? Well, of course O.K. is familiar with the area, and I have a pretty good orientation now after being a regular visitor for more than 2 years, but we did not know which paths would take us there on the most direct route. It was lovely soft evening light (and there were those scents!), though, and we didn't mind taking the odd extra turn.
Eventually, we reached the far corner of the red field - it was all poppies! A very large field it was, and actually, it was a pale violet form of cultivated poppies. In between the large violet ones were single red ones of the "wild" variety, and in the one corner, they had really gone to town, growing so densely that that part of the field looked completely red from afar. So, no protective plastic mesh, just beautiful flowers!

We arrived home with very little light left, it was almost dark by then but well past 9:00 pm. Our investigative walk had taken us about 2 1/2 hours, and we were ready for something to eat.

It was dusk by the time we had reached the field, so for the light and the angle we were at, a picture wasn't going to come out well. Therefore, I have to leave it to your imagination.

But I have a few other pictures for you. The first one is for Kay - we often walk past this allotment; its owners seem to be very fond of hearts :-)

This one was taken on Monday. We met friends at a restaurant situated at the edge of the Black Forest, about 15 minutes drive from O.K.'s village. It used to be a working mill, and the wheel is still supposed to be turning, but it is overgrown with ivy and needs some cleaning up. From our table in the beer garden I had a good view of the wheel. The whole setting is rather romantic, but our stay there ended rather sudden when the sky went all dark and thunderstorm-like rain began to fall.

The train trips to and from O.K.'s went well, in spite of the changed schedule (see my last post). But they take up more time now, which means I arrive later and have to leave earlier... ho-hum!

Saturday 19 May 2018

Normal Life Resumed

Well, almost. I have not yet been to the gym (but I really mean to, very soon - hopefully next week), and I am not yet allowed to go swimming or use a sauna, but both of these are not at the top of my activity list anyway.

My eye is still getting better, sometimes I notice it, sometimes I don't. It depends very much on how tired I am and how much I have already been reading and writing (i. e. working) that day.

This week was my first proper week back at work. Never in my life have I missed work for such a long time for health reasons! My customers all told me how happy they were to see me back, which was nice (and I think they really mean it). Of course the workload has not eased over those four weeks, quite the contrary. But I am determined not to let things get on top of me, and still take my occasional breaks when my eye(s) feel tired.

I have been running three times since I've been allowed sports again; every time went better. My fitness level (which for me is crucial to my wellbeing) is still far from what I'd like it to be, but I am optimistic about slowly but surely getting there.

It feels good having my normal life back, even though the last 1 1/2 weeks of my enforced break were really good, after I was allowed doing again most of what I like. The regular check ups with my eye doctor are at larger intervals now, and I only need drops twice a day instead of every couple of hours.

Weather has been a very mixed bag for us this past week. We have had some much needed rain, and the mornings and evenings were really chilly. This weekend is a "long" one in Germany, with Monday being a public holiday (Pentecost) and schools closed next week. A lot of people have gone away for weekend trips or more, and many of those staying at home are planning hikes or garden parties, barbeques and the like. The forecast is not ideal for any of this, but hopefully, the weather will hold out for this afternoon's and evening's family gathering at the allotment of O.K.'s parents - yes, a BBQ after coffee & cake!

I am leaving to catch my train in about 15 minutes and just wanted to give you this brief update with a few pictures I took during my time off. 

Left: Mum's home-made quiche with green asparagus and a glass of rosé,  for lunch at my parents' one day. Right: walnut cream cake and coffee at a café on Ludwigsburg's market square; this was one of my first outings after the OP.

Palace grounds, 11th of May. My type of garden, the less formal one.

Train schedules have changed; the connections that were most convenient for me have been abandoned. I now have to change trains twice instead of only once, and the trip is longer by about 20-30 minutes. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it all works out, and O.K. can meet me as planned at the train station just before 2:00 pm!

Monday 14 May 2018

A Sunday Out

Today will see me returning back to work - I have never missed work for so long (4 weeks!) for health reasons, and the last time I was on holiday for 4 weeks in one go was in 2004 or 2006, more than ten years ago. And while I feel truly ready to resume normal life with all its activities, right now I can hardly imagine to be in an office for 8 or 9 hours, looking at a screen or reading text on paper all day. I am determined to take breaks whenever my eyes tell me they need it, and not overdo it - we shall see how successful I'll be at that!

Yesterday, Sunday, O.K. and I took the train to Bietigheim, a nearby town where he'd never been before. Somehow I woke up with the idea in my head that I'd like to visit there, and since the train journey is only about 10 minutes, we arrived there soon after breakfast.

Bietigheim is one of those strangely laid-out towns where the train station is rather far away from the town centre instead of right in it. There is a bus service, but of course we walked the 1,5 km or so. The path leads down to the valley of the river Enz, deeply cut into natural stone walls on one side and a relatively wide opening with the town surrounded by meadows and orchards on the other side of the river.

Arriving in town, we found out that there was a lot going on - shops were open (they usually aren't in Germany on a Sunday), there were booths lining the pedestrian area of the historic town centre, a brass band playing and food stalls spreading all sorts of smells. We had not known that (lack of preparation on my part, I'm afraid), and I offered to turn round and go somewhere else, but we decided to stay and just try to avoid the thickest crowds.

Instead, we took advantage of the fact that the old town centre has many hidden corners and little gems of "secret" gardens aside from the main street, and we even spent some time in the town museum, a house that was built in 1535 and is famous (in our area) for its richly painted interiors.

The weather wasn't quite as dreary as it looks in the pictures. The sun even came out hestitantly a few times, and then my light jacket was almost too warm, but there was also a sharp wind blowing which made me keep it on all the time.

Back home, I made us my own version of bacon-and-brie sandwiches before O.K. had to face the long drive home. Fortunately, the roads were less busy than we had feared. I am always glad and relieved to know he has arrived safely and without too much delay.

Right, time to get those old brain cells of mine working again!!

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Back in the Land of...

...the Reading and Blogging, I am happy to be allowed again almost all of my usual activities. After last week's eye examination, my doctor has given green light to sports, reading, writing and computer work - all within reasonable limits, though, which is why she has extended my enforced break for another week (this week). My first proper working day will be next Monday, but I am home now for the rest of the week and will do a few hours here and there, to see how my eye feels and reacts, and to make the diving into a very busy schedule a little easier.

First things first - here is a picture I meant to show you weeks ago. It was taken in March, at the end of our Spa break, from the top floor living room window at O.K.'s. This beautiful tree is in a neighbour's garden and looked like a pink fluffy cloud while in bloom. By now it has lost all its blossoms; the leaves are a dark burgundy red. The tree is home to a family of magpies, and while the blossoms were there, it was humming with probably hundreds of bees. 

Before I left for O.K.'s, I went for a walk with my sister. She took this photo of me. See how sensible I am, wearing a cap (courtesy of O.K.'s) to protect my eyes from the bright sun!

The following pictures were all taken around O.K.'s village on the last day of April:

Later that day, just like last year, the maypole was erected in the village. The village band was playing, and after the ceremony, everyone moved to the big beer tent for food and drinks, while the band played some more.
Last year, I helped handing out food from behind the counter, but this year, I was not yet allowed doing anything strenuous (and my eye sight wasn't really up to it, either), so I couldn't be of any use and went home after I'd had something to eat.

As I had another appointment at the doctor's on the 2nd of May, I travelled home on May Day and returned to O.K.'s after my appointment. It was his birthday on the 3rd, and we hosted a party of about 17 at his cottage. It was fun, and I was glad I was allowed to help - cleaning up after the party took us until almost 1:30 in the morning, but it was well worth it, I think.

The next few days were really warm and summery, with temperatures up to 28 Celsius or more. We started working on the wooden balcony rail; sanding it down took us one entire day. We rewarded ourselves that evening with our favourite summer drink, Apérol Spritz (a mix of Apérol, which is a bitter organe liqueur, sparkling wine and soda). Very refreshing!

Sunday saw us on our bikes, meeting with friends at a beer garden for a meal (and a few drinks). On the way back to the village, we stopped in the town center for the most delicious ice creams. Instead of riding home directly from there, O.K. showed me this beautiful spot where two streams meet. In the more than 2 years I have been coming to his place, I had not yet been there. The evening light was so beautiful, and I loved the view towards Ortenberg castle from this perspective (you've seen the castle several times on my blog already, but never from this spot).

Monday and Tuesday, we gave the balcony rail its necessary two coats of paint. Another day of - for me - unusual physical work. I enjoyed it, but of course I am not used to it, especially not after the enforced break from most of my usual activities such as running, rope skipping etc. 

I had to take the train home last night, as I have another doctor's appointment today. I have no doubt that I will be able to go back to work on Monday, but it is always good to make sure and to have everything checked.

Today is another summery day; tomorrow is a public holiday in Germany and it is forecast to be at least 10 degrees cooler and rainy. Well, we need the rain, but I am sure a lot of people had barbecues and other outdoors stuff planned - they will be disappointed.

The cherries on the tree in front of my kitchen window are as big as the top of my thumb already!