I’ve got a rash man …
I’ve talked before about how much I love gardening. I love picking out the weeds, watering the plants, pruning and every other aspect about it. The minute the weather here in Germany indicates it’s not going to ice over again in a plant–killing freeze, I’m buying trays full of plants and soil and fertilizer. I’m dusting off the old gardening pots from last year and it’s game on. It’s actually a fight between my wife and I to get me to come inside on the weekend. I don’t want to come inside during summer to watch a movie, any movie, maybe even the best movie ever made, because it’s summer.
Recently I cut down a diseased tree. I chopped it up into manageable bits and then carried them to the fire pit and burned the remains.
I compost. That’s why I have a pitchfork and, fuck you Facebook friends, it’s not a garden fork it’s a pitchfork. OK, maybe it’s a garden fork, but who cares. It turns over decomposing bits of plant flesh and stuff.
My point, is I’m exposed to all sorts of nasty stuff when I work out in the yard. None of it bothers me, not even a little bit. In my 40-plus years on this earth I think I’ve had a reaction to something I touched exactly twice. Two rashes. Both of them were cleared up in a day or two. No medicine, no doctor visit. Just me, outside, drinking beer and manning through it.
So yeah, this is about a rash I have.
But it’s not from the garden or the great outdoors. That wouldn’t be funny. Well it would be funny, it’d just be less funny.
This rash is caused by carrying two bouquets of flowers made by a professional German florist through the town of Weisbaden. Two of my office coworkers are leaving soon and as part of a going away luncheon for them we presented their wives with bouquets of flowers.
Because I’m not a smart man I parked kind of far away from the event. Like a 20-minute walk away. But so what, it was a gorgeous day and a bit of a walk never hurt anyone. I carried the flowers on the left side of my body tucked under my arm against my chest. I felt the water the florist had the flowers soaking in soak through my shirt, but shrugged it off. It would dry off when I arrived at the restaurant.
Not going to bore you with the going-away particulars. Blah, blah, things went well, blah, blah people were bid adieu. But the next morning, weird as shit, I’ve have a giant ass rash that itched to no end. Two weeks later and a bit into a tube of steroid cream I’m still inching.
Yeah man, I’ve got a rash.
Pizza fail of epic proportions
Here’s something you probably don’t know about me. I’m wanted in the state of … oh wait, never mind I cleared that legal issue up years ago. What you really don’t know about me is that years ago I really got into making my own pizzas. Really into, as in I bought a wooden pizza paddle, a pizza stone, made my own dough and pizza sauce. If I thought I could’ve gotten away with it, I would have slaughtered my own pigs and made my own pepperoni.
What I mean is I got into it hard. Then I moved to Europe, did it once or twice, and completely forgot all about it.
We, as you might know, recently had some visitors from the U.S. More about their visit in a moment, but the husband of this duo likes to make his own pizza as well. I’m here to tell you he’s a punk ass amateur. Sure, sure the pizza’s good, but he makes it in a pan like some kind of savage, doesn’t include meat and flicks his own boogers into the sauce.
OK, that last bit isn’t true and the pizza is in fact very good, but it reheated my interest in making pizza. And by reheated I mean my wife said I had to make a barbeque-chicken pizza and I agreed because it’s best not to anger her.
So I dropped some yeast in some water with some sugar, tossed the pizza stone in the oven to preheat, mixed up my dough and kneaded that stuff until it was spot on. I tossed flour on the cutting board and formed a perfectly shaped pizza. I had a slight edge that was brushed with olive oil and then I added the chicken and the sauce.
This was going to be perfect and the stone was just about hot enough for me to …
Can you see my dilemma? Yeah I have fully dressed (heavy) uncooked pizza on a cutting board and now I had to magically transfer it to a super hot pizza stone. I knew, I knew, I knew I was basically fucked.
Every attempt to move the pizza on to the stone from the cutting board only damaged it further. Shortly before the end, I could plainly see the cutting board, counter and pizza stone through the now demolished dough. Barbeque sauce and grilled chicken were everywhere and it was a hopeless, destroyed mess.
I shoveled the whole thing into a trash bag and drove to Pizza Hut to purchase BBQ chicken pizza to go.
The less said about my wife’s reaction the better.*
A matter of trust
Germany, Germany, Germany. You never fail to amaze me. We’ve talked before about the flower fields here where you pick your flowers and the Germans trust that’s you’ll put your money into the deposit slot.
Did you know they do the same thing with booze?
Bet you didn’t. I bet you didn’t partially because they don’t anymore (sort of) and partially because I really think you didn’t know.
I don’t know where I’m going with this whole bet thing, so let’s drop it.
Remember that couple who visited? Sure you do. You just read about it. That’s what I like about you, you remember shit. The great thing about that couple is they lived here for years and years. When they come to visit there’s no one pestering me to visit Paris, London or Rome. They’ve done that, we’ve done that and we aren’t going to do that.
The bad thing about them visiting is that they like to do shit along the Rhine river. Bike along the Rhine, walk along the Rhine, drink along the Rhine, eat along the Rhine. They like the Rhine.
The Rhine has some serious history associated with it. There’s a lot to know about it. Roman forts, Napoleon advances, that time I peed in it while drinking heavily, the Rhine’s got a lot going on.
What it doesn’t have going on, for me at least, is my having any fucking desire to do anything alongside it anymore. I drive across it at least twice a day for work and let me tell you, when I finally leave here, giving that bridge the finger will be a fine feeling indeed. Fuck that bridge and it’s traffic congestion. Stupid bridge.
But anyway, hike and bike they wanted to do and as much as I’d rather read about how awesome the Rhine is, my wife and I really love these two dorks so yeah, I’m hiking and biking along with the best of them.
One of the hikes snakes along vineyards, through woods and, of course, offers spectacular views of the valley. It’s a good hike. Midway through, after about an hour of hiking, there is a little cabin. By little I mean literally little. Think large doll house little. This “cabin” has walls built of stone and a wooden roof. The door opens and inside is free booze. OK, not free booze, but bottles of chilled white wine and small glasses. You’re on the honor system to pay for each bottle you drink as you enjoy you chilled glass of white vino and enjoy a spectacular view.
I’ve been to this particular outlook many times over the years and they’ve recently added one feature that reminds me of the U.S. It’s a card swipe that verifies the age of the person opening the door (as if no cunning underage teen could defeat that stellar system), but other than that, it’s still basically an honor system.
And, much like the flower picking fields, you know what I did? I fucking overpaid because that seemed like the right thing to do. That and I got tipsy with two Germans, a Romanian, an Italian, my wife and our friends while enjoying an awesome view of the Rhine river valley.
Dagmar also flashed all of us her boobies on the ski-lift back up the mountain so, yeah, it was an awesome hike.
* Post Script. The pizza story happened two weeks ago and I tried to make a good pizza this weekend as a way to make amends for the abortion of dough, chicken parts and barbeque sauce that was the first disaster. It didn’t go well. Admittedly I had drank a few beers. Dagmar graciously gave me a recipe for the pizza sauce but all I heard was, “here’s a tube of tomato paste.” I thought it was weird to make pizza sauce with just paste but I smeared the entire tube of paste onto the crust (on the stone this time) and dutifully spread it around before adding cheese and other toppings. It was eatable but yeah, I’m back at bat for strike three in the pizza making contest this weekend.
Oh how far I’ve fallen.