Tuesday 29 November 2022

Last Full Week of November

The last full week of November and the 1st Advent Sunday is behind us; December starts the day after tomorrow. This year, it all feels different and yet so much is the same as "always". It makes for quite a mix of emotions, I can tell you.

Almost every day that week, we had a mix of sun and clouds with a few sprinkles of rain in between. It was colder than the month had been so far, but still "too warm for the season", according to the weather folks on TV. 

Monday, the 21st of November: Only one month to go until winter solstice, and the slow but sure increase of daylight! The fortnightly meeting with my volunteer group was cancelled, because there would have been only three of us. This gave me the opportunity for an after-work walk; nothing special, but good for me nonetheless.

Our Christmas Market opened on Tuesday (Nov. 22) - the first one since 2019. I didn't go, because my Mum, my sister and I had planned to write the cards I'd had printed to notify everyone of R's death. 

The parcel from the printer's arrived as scheduled, but... the card was done entirely wrong! Instead of the photo we had chosen to be on the front only, it was printed on the front and back, so that you could only see half of it when you looked at the card. Instead of the card opening to the side (like a book), it opened from bottom to top (like a wall calendar). And instead of the inside showing a poem on the left and the actual notification on the right side, they had squeezed both pieces of copy on one side, upside down when you open the card. That was definitely NOT what I had ordered, but now we needed to react fast.

My sister talked to the people at a local copy and print shop, and they agreed to print our cards over night if they got the data this afternoon. I prepared a USB stick and met my sister at the shop after work; we explained what we wanted (I also showed them the wrong print) and placed our order to be picked up the following day.

We popped in at our Mum's to pick up two parcels she had asked us to post for her, did that and then went home for a quiet evening in. With all the back and forth and the dismay about the card, it was good to see my sister.

For my lunch break on Wednesday, we met up at the shop again. The cards were now exactly how we had wanted them, and I was very relieved. For our actual lunch, we walked over to the Christmas market and had one of our favourite foods, a "Holzofen-Dinnede", as shown here. It was our first "proper" Christmas market food since 2019, and tasted just like it should, piping hot directly from the wooden stove.

After work, the three of us gathered round our Mum's dining table and wrote the cards; my sister posted them that same evening while our Mum heated the vegetable lasagne she had prepared for us (the best ever).

Thursday, the 24th of November - Christmas Eve exactly one month away. It will be so very different this year with just the three of us there. 

I worked on-site at my client's office with our customary walk around the block after lunch. For the evening, my boss had invited us to our annual party; he was supposed to cook a festive meal for us at his home, but a spontaneous change of plans meant the three of us (our fourth colleague was excused) met at the Holiday Inn next door instead. It was good to see them and catch up with each other, and our boss drove both me and my colleague to our respective homes afterwards.

A day of mixed activites was Friday, Nov. 25. I spent the morning working from home as usual. In the early afternoon, I attended a guided tour on the abandoned industrial area next to the train station; I have posted about it a few times, for instance here for its official opening (in parts) to the public.

The Mayor of Ludwigsburg addressing the crowd of about 50 before we split in two groups for the tour

The tour covered 10 stops where we were asked to leave our feedback and ideas for future use; what we would like to be kept and what needed changing in our opinion. Half of the area is now owned by the city of Ludwigsburg, and they really want to develop it for public use, not the enclosed space it was during the decades of production.

I took many pictures but will show them to you in an extra post.

By the time the tour finished, I was freezing - all that standing around, listening to explanations and people voicing their views, mostly in empty unheated buildings. But my flat was warm and cosy, and when my friend arrived shortly after 6:00 pm, I was alright again. 

We were to meet our former school mates at the Christmas market later that evening, but we always want a bit of time to ourselves before we meet the group, and even more so this time as she has recently lost her Mum and I my Dad - we used to live next door to each other, and I have known her mother since before I was six years old. After an hour or so, we left for the market. It was packed, and I thought about leaving a few times, but then adjusted, had something to eat (you can guess what, can't you) and to drink. We later walked the short distance to a restaurant where a long table was booked for us; nobody ordered food, but some of us had plenty to drink (not me). At some stage, it was all getting a bit too much for me, nice as it was to see my old school mates, and I was first to leave.

Saturday saw me doing my usual cleaning, washing and ironing; O.K. arrived mid-afternoon. After coffee and cake, we went for a quick walk before dark. I then retreated to the kitchen where I prepared Kässpätzle for the three of us - I had invited my sister for the evening, and Kässpätzle is great for when you have guests and want to get the kitchen warm and cosy. 

My basic recipe for Spätzle remains unchanged since I posted it here, but I do not add ham anymore and use a different mix of cheese and cream. The Merlot I served with the meal was good, too, but best of all was my sister joining us.

During the night and very early Sunday morning, the temperature dropped to just below frost at -2 Celsius. O.K. and I had our customary leisurely breakfast before going for a walk in the sun. We then went to my Mum's for coffee, and afterwards, I put up a few first bits of Advent decoration and lit the first candle on the Advent wreath bought last week.

This year, the Advent calendar village is at my place - we switch between the two of us every year.

Then it was time to cook so that we could eat at 7:00 and it would not be too late for O.K. to start the long drive home.


  1. You certainly packed a lot of activity into your week! I have to start making my Christmas lists as the time will go so quickly.

    1. Same here, I really want to get started on my cards and parcels soon.

  2. How frustrating for you that the first printer got it wrong with those cards - glad it got sorted out the second time round! Busy week for you... I like your Advent wreath. Here we tend to put our candles in a row. Some Advent candle holders are made like a box, to be filled with with moss and things, though. I had one like that but abandoned it years ago in favour of a more fireproof one ("just in case")...

    1. Candles in a row are relatively common here, too, but I think the most popular variety is still a wreath.

  3. Meike, I'm just home from two weeks in Europe so catching up on your posts. My heart goes out to you, your sister and your Mom. So much heartache. Grief is such a bear. While it is always in your heart as you remember a loved one, there are those moments when it sneaks up on you when you are unprepared. Too many losses this year have left you all exhausted, mentally and sometimes, I imagine, physically, too. It is good that you have the ability to get out and walk in quiet spaces where you can sort through all the emotional bombardment you've experienced. My thoughts are with you and the rest of the family. May you all experience some peace in the days and weeks to come. Mary

    1. Thank you, Mary, for your kind words.
      We are coping as best as we can, and are grateful that we still have each other and live close enough to be close - not only geographically.

  4. Strange to visit your page and find no wide-open skies or trees and hill views.
    I was reminded of the astronaut who was asked what he missed in outer space.
    After his wife and children, he missed grass and plants and trees and flowers.

    Photographs in your last November post were quite thrilling.
    I liked the cat sitting by the tree in the thick springy grass and the cut firewood.
    Your home is cosy and the idea of an Advent Calendar Village could be catching.
    May you and those dear to you enjoy many walks in your glorious landscape.

    1. Thank you, Jack.
      The first house in the village will be opened tomorrow. It happens to have a little fox printed at its side, and therefore it is my favourite house in the Advent calendar.
      On top of that, I have three (!) "regular" advent calendars, the kind to be hung on the wall; gifts from my Mum, my sister and O.K.'s mother.

      Our Sunday walk was actually quite good for photos, but I did not take any. Sometimes I just want to sit on a bench for a while, close my eyes and turn my face towards the sun, and that's what we did.

    2. Your photographs are a feast for the eye.
      I look at them and think, I have never been to this place and yet I know it.
      I remember the first time I saw an Advent Calendar.
      Those little paper doors fascinated me.

      Beautiful wooden doors are collectible, see The World of Interiors magazine.
      In a recent issue there was a woman who created an annexe inside a large room; the walls of the annexe comprised of antique doors in different colours.
      You could enter this annexe by any one of a dozen or more doors.

      As an atheist I used to pass a church with a noticeboard which puzzled me.
      *Jesus saith: I am the Door; by Me if any man or woman enter in, they shall be saved.*

    3. I've always had a "thing" for doors and doorways, and many pictures on older posts on my blog show that, for instance here:

    4. Thank you for these Doors & Doorways.
      Doors one can open (or shut) : I had not given any thought to this before.
      Doors one has been pushed through (rather roughly) : A way of looking at grief.
      Doors formed by nature; beautiful : There is a cave in Stevenson's Kidnapped.
      August Toplady wrote Rock of Ages in a Devon cave during a sudden rainstorm.
      Deep caves; terrifying : I can endure heights but not deep enclosure.
      Stuttgart Zoo I must visit though I hate to think of animals shut up in-doors.
      The inner courtyard of Ludwigsburg Palace; receding doorways, a stone horse.
      That gateway in Masham, Yorks. reminds me of Traquhair House (YouTube).
      Eileen Dunlop reimagined Traquhair in her first children's novel, *Robinsheugh*.
      The Lion Gates of Traquhair will never be opened till a Stuart sits on the throne.
      They say spiritualism opens doors in the mind, prohibited in the Scriptures.
      Opening portals in your home (online) - again to be absolutely avoided.
      It occurs to me that blogs like your own are doorways into other lives & places.
      I had never read any blogs till I found Tasker's on Stan Barstow.
      This led me to Neil's then yours and I have enjoyed reading Jennifer's.
      What about the Good Doors we never got to open? Good people we never met?

    5. # Traquair House. YouTube.
      Traquair (Peebleshire) is the oldest inhabited house in Scotland.
      Click on Google images and see is a photo of Traquair under a mantle of snow.

    6. Traquair looks like a place I'd like to visit - especially the maze!
      To what you say about doors, let me add this:
      What about the doors we never close, even though it might be better for us?
      Yes, my blog is a doorway into (parts of) my life and my place. There is plenty more to me, and plenty more in my life, that I never write about here. But those doors are locked to the public, as they should be.

    7. *Doors that close never, tho' t'were better that they did.*
      It could be an Emily Dickinson poem; I could almost pen a pastiche.
      Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, the Mexican saint penned this prayer:
      *The matter to me was simple/ love for you was so strong/
      I could see you in my soul/ and talk to you all day long.*
      Only the indwelling Holy Ghost (St. Paul's vision) can close dark doors.
      Saint Juana's face is on page 331 of A Book of Days by Patti Smith (2022).
      I am looking at Juana while reading Lyndall Gordon's biography of the poet:
      *Lives Like Loaded Guns - Emily Dickinson and Her Family Feuds*.

  5. I showed Gregg the pictures of your pretty room, and your comfy chair. We're looking to buy a chair and an ottoman very much like yours. (We recently moved the furniture in our front room around and now we have an empty space to fill).

    Wishing you comfort throughout the upcoming holidays while you miss your loved ones.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer.

      My yellow armchair is my favourite place in the flat, apart from my bed :-)

  6. You might be glad to get 2022 out of the way as the year seems to be tinged with death for you... and I lost my younger brother too. Some years no one who's close leaves us but other years contain much personal sorrow.

    1. My family or I personally have never known such a year, and 2023 can only get better, at least under that aspect.
      The months before and after your brother's death were particularly hard for you and Shirley. I am glad you have Phoebe in your life to counterbalance the sadness and frustration with all that joy, and that Ian is doing so well.