Posts Tagged ‘beer and wine’

From left to right: Joleene, Charles and I in my apartment stairwell.

Last night I had two wonderful visitors come to visit me at my apartment: my friend and fellow writer Joleene Naylor, whom you’ve probably seen around the blog quite a bit, especially in the comments, and her husband Charles, who were passing through Central Ohio on a trip to West Virginia, and made a point to stop by.

I’ve been blogging and Facebooking and tweeting for over six years, so I’ve had plenty of time to make friends with numerous other writers, Joleene among them. Unfortunately, the distance between me and all these other writers often means we’re confined to online interaction. So when an opportunity to visit comes up, I get really excited (and a little nervous) and look forward to meeting them. And last night, I finally got to meet Joleene in person.

Joleene and Charles arrived in my apartment building sometime after eight last night, after having to navigate through a ton of construction on the interstate (don’t you hate it when that happens?). I greeted Joleene with a hug (normally I ask whether or not we should hug or shake hands, but here it felt natural), and shook hands with Charles, whom I’ve occasionally seen tagged on Facebook but never actually seen in photos or in comments before (apparently he’s one of those people who manage to get by without being connected to the Internet most of the day!). I took them inside and served them a homemade dinner of tilapia, garlic bread, and carrots (I like to pull out all the stop when I have guests over if I’m able to. Also, that was my first time making garlic bread, and it turned out very well). We sat down, and started talking and eating.

It was a very enjoyable time. Charles, whom I was worried I wouldn’t get along with, turned out to be very charming and funny. He talked about his job as a welder, as well as his previous experiences working in nursing homes, where he would learn about the cultures of some of the residents and occasionally play hilarious pranks on the nurses. I also learned that prior to living in Iowa, which is where Joleene and Charles were coming from, they lived in Missouri, where I was born and lived till I was two. I don’t remember much about my birth state, so I asked them to tell me about things I could do there besides visit the Arch in St. Louis. Did you know there’s a Titanic Museum in Branson, which is about four hours from St. Louis? Now that sounds like a place I’d like to go!

Of course, we also talked quite a bit about writing (how couldn’t we?). Joleene’s one of my beta readers for Rose, so we talked about what I hoped from the novel and what I hoped she’d find that would help me improve it. We also talked about our own individual writing experiences, including how we both got into writing in the first place (apparently we both link our starts to Harry Potter! What a coincidence), and a funny story involving how Joleene met a fan of hers through Pokemon GO. Joleene and Charles also tried to help me come up with a title for a story I’m developing, and while we didn’t figure one out, it was interesting to talk about this story I’m working on, and what might work as a title.

The bottle of wine Joleene and Charles gave me. I wonder what Purple Cow tastes like.

All in all, it was a great evening, and I was very sad to see them go after we’d finished dessert (pumpkin rolls, so deliciously deadly). I walked them out to the car, giving them some Buckeye candies as a souvenir of passing through Columbus (if you haven’t had them, I recommend them. They’re chocolate and peanut butter treats shaped to look like Buckeye nuts, a symbol of Ohio and Ohio State, and just plain awesome). In return, Joleene and Charles gave me a bottle of wine from a winery in Dubuque. Believe it or not, the wine is called Purple Cow! I’m not sure what that’s supposed to taste like, but the first opportunity I have, I’ll get some friends together and we’ll find out.

Joleene and Charles left then, after I gave some recommendations on which motels to avoid, and they sped off into the night. I returned to my apartment with my new bottle of wine, feeling like I’d had a wonderful evening and hoping I got to experience it again someday.

When relationships start online, you often worry that meeting in person can ruin things. However, Joleene, Charles and I had a wonderful time, which I think proves that people can just get along if they want to. You find common things to talk about, you tell a few jokes, and maybe add in a little bit of good food and wine, and amazing things happen. I’m really glad I finally got to meet them offline, and that we didn’t need to check our phones in order to feel normal or relaxed. And I hope I get to do it again someday.

If you’d like to check Joleene’s blog, click HERE! If you’d like to read about the other time I met one of my author friends offline, click HERE! And I hope you had a good time reading about my visit from Joleene and Charles.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares.

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You know, Frankfurt is very close to Wiesbaden. So close, in fact, that along with Mainz it’s considered almost like a tri-city sort of thing.Still, it feels very far away despite the map, so I was very glad to go on a USO sponsored tour of one of Germany’s most well known cities today*. and make a few friends along the way, one of whom I made sure to get an email from (will be sending you something soon, Jose).

Unlike last week, I got to the meeting point early, and I had actually a very good idea where it was thanks to the help of my supervisor at work (honestly, he’s such a helpful guy). The meeting place was the Wiesbaden main train station, which looked like something out of an old movie with a side of American commercialism (every fast food franchise imaginable was there, including KFC!). I bought a ticket and the group assembled for the tour. We boarded the train and were there within half an hour.

Well, let me say this. Wiesbaden’s nice, but Frankfurt has that feel of an old German town. The houses have that look and feel to them that you associate with old German towns, the white walls and wood beams and red tiled roofs. Some of them have been around for hundreds of years! Add in the narrow, winding cobbled roads, and you definitely feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore.

A view of Frankfurt and its vineyards.

A view of Frankfurt and its vineyards.

We spent the first part of the tour, finding out about the local history, how Frankfurt has plenty of vineyards and micro-breweries, and several different places to check out local beers and wines. Heck, there’s even a university there that’s sole purpose is to teach people how to professionally make beer and wine! I almost wanted to sign up for classes. We then visited a park where the artwork is all made out of concrete (it was actually quite nice), saw a very lovely mansion that looked like it was right out of a movie set, and then we visited the local cathedral, which was quite interesting. I’m always awed by all the effort put into cathedrals, and how the overall effect is quite beautiful and spiritual.

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After the cathedral we passed by a house where a charnel house, a place where skeletal remains are stored, used to be (sounds like my kind of digs) and broke for lunch. After waiting an hour for food (which I’ll get into in a moment), we were invited to join in the Linden festival, in honor of the Linden tree in the center of the neighborhood (yeah, apparently it’s pretty important). Before I did that though, I went to see the Rhine River. And while I was there, I reflected on the river.

Certain natural features can really help define a place. London has the Thames, Paris has the Seine, and Germany, including Frankfurt, has the Rhine, and it really helps define the country. Yet strangely, the river is never the same one second from the next. It’s constantly changing, the water molecules moving constantly, the tide going in and out, every passing boat or barge changing the river along with time and momentum. This and many other thoughts went through my head as I satĀ alongside the river, admiring all the history it had witnessed over the millennia and just enjoying the view. When I dipped my hand into the river, I felt like I was dipping into the history of the river itself.

The Rhine River and me.

The Rhine River and me.

After that I went back to the festival, which was amazing! Every local shop was selling its wares, tables were everywhere for people to eat and drink and talk. Even the most well-staffed restaurant was having trouble keeping up with the demand (which is why our lunches were so late). I met back up with the group and we talked over beers and wines about a variety of subjects. It was a good time.

After that I decided to head back early. Not that I wasn’t enjoying myself or that there wasn’t anything to do, but it was getting late and I wanted to be getting home. I got on the train and headed home. All in all, it was a great experience. I made a couple of new friends, saw a lovely new neighborhood and city, and had a great experience. I hope I get to visit again some time soon!

Enjoying the local drinks and my time in Frankfurt.

Enjoying the local drinks and my time in Frankfurt.

For now though, I’ve got a short story to finish and an evening to relax. Have a good night, my Followers of Fear. I know I am!

*Interesting thing I learned. In Europe, a city is not necessarily based on size or skyscrapers like in the States. Rather, a city is called as such because someone important–an emperor or a high-ranking clergyman or someone along those lines–gave a town that special designation, which came with certain privileges, including the right to mint their own money. This is why Frankfurt, which looks more like a provincial town out in the country, is called a city. Someone high-ranking gave it that title once upon a time. Pretty cool, right?