In the Dog House?

Actually not the dog house, but the dog bed.  The warm weather (mid to high 30’s) mixed in with humidity makes for some changes.  As I don’t have any administrative assistance in the sense that I had in a previous parish (Hilary telling me what appointments were on and taking care of all the Sunday service sheets for two congregations) I find myself this week sitting behind a computer more than I would like to.  This administrative load is not an onerous duty most weeks, as I have my routines that I stick by to make sure I don’t get snowed under.  However, as I plan to take three weeks of holiday I am planning further in advance which means making sure the visiting clergy are well prepared, the volunteers ready, and the presentation built up for Sunday worship (we don’t use any paper for our worship services).  Being in the heat and sticking to the chair and desk are now hazards of the job, which is where the dogs bed comes into action.

My wife found at Aldi or Lidl a cheap cooling mat for the dog.  Apparently this extraordinary mat is non-toxic which is a big plus when it comes to our dog Skippy who still tends to chew up beds.  The blue cooling dog bed turns out not to be at all popular with the dog who viewed it with deep suspicion, preferring to lay motionless on the tile floors as a way of remaining cool.  Today I decided to try out the dog mat at my desk having it migrate under foot so that I’d feel cooler.  Just like a dog which creeps with affection slowly up onto your laps as you sit on the sofa the dog bed has made its way to my chair and it really does work. Whatever magic is inside this blue pad is certainly working.

It is too bad that all of us cannot find relief from the heat.  The river that runs through the village has dried up for the most part, only pools remain at this point downstream and a smell of decaying fish fills the air every so often.  Two little boys were busy with net and bucket taking some of the trout out and carrying them up stream to larger pools of water.  Apparently this is a normal summer occurrence to have the rivers run dry around Freiburg (so far it has happened every year we have lived here), but it still surprises me.  Waterfalls run wild year round in the river behind my parents house in Canada, even with small pools that we can swim in when the weather is warm.  Even when we don’t have the rivers running dry there are certainly other concerns to be aware of when out along the trails.  IMG_20180530_171030#1

In the church we have had, and will continue to have a run on baptisms.  As we do not own the building, rather rent from the German church, the protestant tradition of having a shallow bowl of water on the Lord’s table as a baptism font.  Certainly, not every church is in this situation as I have seen plenty of massive old stone fonts in other churches, but this is not the local experience at least in our church building.  Water is a unique symbol where we can say it can give and take.  Too little water is not good, neither is too much water.  Freiburg may feel dry, but Japan seems to be washed out.  After a hot Sunday baptism service with a church so full of people that there was standing room only I was secretly thinking that a parishioner might do the church equivalent to the sports team prank in which team members pick up the large field side drink cooler and pour it all over the coach after wining the game.  Even though the weather is hot, I still pray that that one child (and others) experienced the refreshing life-giving waters of baptism.

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Everybody looks like George Clooney

After a lovely Easter Vigil with the Old Catholic congregation in Freiburg, then an early sunrise service on the hills overlooking the city, and topped off with five baptisms on Easter morning – I was ready for a holiday.

A small camping site on the end of Lake Como (the opposite end to Clooney’s villa) was our home base for a few days of relaxation and exploring.  In a relatively short time we had driven through Switzerland and entered Italy via the Gotthard tunnel.  You know you’ve arrived in Italy as all of a sudden every driver behind you feels like they are in the trunk of your car and all the men look like George Clooney.

With some unseasonably cool weather pouring south over the alps, we had no use for our swimwear that we brought with us having expected warm wind from the Sahara to be blowing its way north.  No matter.  We found lots to do and explore.  An old church pilgrimage site over looking the lake, lakeside villages with loads of history, and fantastic coffee about every 100 metres.  Italy has to be the place for breaking ones coffee fast over Lent.

Fully caffeinated and feeling a little more Italian, we drove to Milan for a day to see the some sights, but mostly we watched people strolling around the boulevards looking like they had just walked out of a fashion magazine.

Eventually it was time to return home to Germany.  Knowing that the very lengthy tunnel passage through the Alps would, on a Saturday, be jam pack with traffic we opted for the scenic over the alps route.  Unfortunately, the sign to indicate that the mountain pass we had chosen was closed was at the very bottom of the road (which we didn’t see) and the next notice sign was at the top.  It was, despite the frustration, an amazing drive which reminded me of so many car chase scenes in a James Bond film.  Hairpin turns, sheer drops, amazing snow capped peaks, and short one-way icicle filled tunnels made sure that you had both hands on the wheel.

Having to turn back and descend the mountain to find another available pass forced us to see more of the worlds famous skiing and alpine resorts. If anything, it was better than sitting in a two and a half hour traffic jam in the tunnel.  We stopped for a coffee and snack at a small mountain top restaurant to be reminded that we had left Italy, and were now in Switzerland as the espresso coffee shot up in price to 4 Euros!

The holiday ended with us picking up the dog from the kennel.  Sadly, the dog was not able to join us despite us finding a dog friendly campground.  All the required inoculations for the dog made it so that he was not allowed out of the country.  Or, as we were told by the veterinarian – you could likely take him out of Germany, but coming back (if you get caught) would be very costly with a forced 6 week quarantine period.  Even with the dog having his Euro dog passport (yes, there is such a thing!) the new rules require a 3 week waiting period after a rabies booster injection.

All in all, we returned from the holiday relaxed and refreshed.