International Man of Mystery Day Three

Christophe made a wonderful meal of pasta and pork cutlet for us last night. We even got to see his brother and family, who came by to chat for a bit and have drinks. Afterwards Christophe and I left my parents at the hotel and went out for a glass of red wine at “Les Vins d’espagne”.
photo.jpgToday, Christophe picked us up at the hotel around 9am, and we three drove and toured the musee de la croix rouge. A very solemn experience to be sure.
Afterwards, Christophe dropped us off downtown, leaving us to our own devices in order to accomplish some pre-wedding things
We had a nice and simple lunch at Les Brasseurs (and I had a Belgian-style seasonal ale) before we made our way back at the hotel to meet Christophe at Three.photo.jpg
Again, Christophe was our devoted host,and drove us to Carouge, another quarter in Geneva. We had an excellent coffee at “O Calme” and then back to his apartment. Before joining his parents for dinner at their place, we helped him assemble envelopes with parking vouchers and driving directions from the church to the cocktail.
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Dinner at Christophe’s parents’ was excellent, as was the company and conversation, though my French is no better than a four-year old’s.
His mother dropped us back at the hotel this evening, and I set off in search of a couple bars Christophe recomended. I think I must be getting older, or perhaps US culture is different. I was looking for a place with good beer on tap, not too smoky to breathe, light enough to write in my journal, quiet enough to hear my thoughts, dark enough to have some ambience…rather like Biere Paradiso or even Brickskellars. To a one, they were crazy smoky, full of loud music, and too dark and smoky. I’m seriously spoiled. Oh well; I’ve just decided that I would only enjoy that sort of environment with Jean, anyway.
Tomorrow, more touring before the wedding, then the wedding. A one hour ceremony, two hour cocktail, then party till? Christophe says the place officially kicks us all out at 7:30am, though most are likely to wrap it up before 2:00am. I look forward to it!photo.jpg

J'arrive!

photo.jpgZurich was a short one-hour hop from Frankfurt. My layover there was enough to catch my breath and hop on another plane to Geneva, not even thirty minutes long. Despite the short run, we got served a tasty little slice of cured meat, butter and pickle on a roll of sorts and a Swiss red wine.
photo.jpgI didn’t have to check any luggage, so once I disembarked, went through customs (less hassle than even returning to the US) and hit up the ATM for some Francs, I saw Christophe and dad headed my way, pretty much 15 minutes or so. Mom was taking a snooze at his apartment, so after greetings, we headed back there to pick her up and head to the hotel.
Christophe has put us up at a Best Western downtown, quite close to anything and everything. Mom and Dad decided to take a siesta, but despite being travel-weary, I showered ad walked around downtown. I adhere to Jean’s theory of staying awake once you arrive in order to beat the jet lag.
I eventually found a little street-side cafe, at which I got a good-tasting cafe.
Tonight Christophe us making us dinner and he and I may go out afterwards.photo.jpg

international man of mystery, day two

Arrived at the airport on time, car parked, bus took, security check complete. A brief respite in the red carpet club. Boarding was a non-event, a simple walk-on.
Seated on the upper deck with three feet of legroom. A glass of champagne with toasted nuts before take-off.
photo.jpgThe jetstream is stronger today, so we will arrive an hour ahead of schedule, just past six AM Frankfurt time.
Taking off now; nearly fell asleep before liftoff. I used to do that in my old job, travelling so much:) We fly north from the airport before turning east, the wing dipping and giving me a generousview of the woods and suburbs below.
Travel always carries such promise; one feels compelled to enjoy each moment as if one has discovered they have a terminal illness.
photo.jpg20 minutes from touchdown. Business class has its perks. A three course dinner begun with smoked salmon and salad, scotch (glen livet). Curried chicken that, although having derived its flavor from a spice jar of the same name rather than a combination of spices, was scrumptious; Cote de Rhone.
Two rounded scoops of ice cream for dessert, vanilla and strawberry, the latter having pieces of fruit mixed in and the better part of the former occupying my cup of coffee.
Duty-free catalogue has an inordinate number of celebrity scents; Sarah Jessica Parker, Liv Tyler to name two.
A couple hours of sleep, then breakfast of croissant and fruit, more coffee.
photo.jpgTouchdown. Just after six AM here. We have a few hours to lounge about in the Lufthansa club. Just after midnight back home, Jean and the kids asleep.
Just got to the club and sat with my cappuccino and water with gas. A text from Jean tells me the beer tree is leaking. I hop on the lounge’s tmobile network to save my precious data traffic (data over wifi is free, and over GSM counts towards my 20MB limit for which I signed up on this trip)
The lounge is FULLY stocked. Breakfast, obviously, but also spirits, beer, wine, desserts. A pair of very fancy coffee machines. Toilets that mechanically rotate-while-swab-cleaning the seats. People collecting your dishes after they are set down and obviously used.
Germans seem to favor dark, if not all black clothing and color schemes. Dark grey and black carpets, dark grey walls, black leather chairs. With the stark exception of the Lufthansa yellow of course.
iPhone battery life is awesome by the way. Watched two hours of video, took a few photos, have surfed the net and blogged. Still 2/3 battery.
Man, I miss Jean and the kids.

International Man of Mystery, Day one

I’m travelling to Switzerland this evening (flight leaves in 45 minutes) in order to attend Christophe’s wedding. Rough life.
Sitting in the red carpet club with my parents, the 1k duo, waiting for the boarding announcement.
Per my agreement with Jean, I’ll record in loving detail, each delicious cafe, crispy baguette, smelly cheese, and boisterous wine I try.
Jean and I had seriously considered taking the whole family, as my parents are generously paying for our tickets with their miles, but on top of having to rush Merrill and Eleanor’s passport process, the thought of making sitting arrangements, let alone nursing for the duration of a full-on Catholic wedding in a foreign country was too much. So I go for all of us, a noble sacrifice if I so say so myself.
iPhone in hand, international data and voice plans secured, I’ll be blogging each moment.
A bientot!
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The Brats of NIMH

DSC_3442.NEFa repost of Jean’s day this past week….
“I have to tell you guys about my day yesterday. To begin with, our internet reception had been spotty lately and in trying to fix it, Ed broke it, so I had no internet yesterday, no email. That is almost like cutting off my arm and was pretty distressing. I made lemonade though and instead of checking email I folded laundry and unloaded the dishwasher and made the beds, so things were looking up. Then I decided to go to the gym. (We have tentatively joined Lifetime Fitness – there’s a 30-day trial period.) The kids have been loving it so the older two are excited and get their shoes on. I go to get Eleanor in a paper diaper and of course she poops in between diapers. Sighing, I hoist up her legs and do the typical baby bum wipe when she suddenly sneezes. Sneezes really loud and really hard – sending a spray of poop jetting out and swiping the window, the wall, and the floor about 5 feet out. I’m not even exaggerating because in this case, I don’t have to. It was crazy. So I can’t even put a diaper on her because everything is poopy so I wipe her and throw her in the cradle and start cleaning up and while she is in there she poops on that sheet too. But I managed to clean up the window, floor, wall, and changing table, move her over, get a diaper on, throw the sheets with the diapers and get to the gym.
The gym was great, but when we left we had to go to the post office to mail out all these posters Ed sold on Ebay. Unfortunately, we ended up hitting the post office right at noon. Lucas and Merrill were running around all over the place and a bunch of people kept freaking out asking who’s baby Eleanor was because I had her off to the side (always in full view of course, and near me) in her infant carrier. It was like navigating Dante’s inferno and I was in the worst mood. Then, Merrill fell asleep in the car, which was a pain because it was before lunch. We arrive home and I take Eleanor in. I am on my way back to the car to get Merrill. I have just opened the door and am halfway stepping outside when I hear a very loud, deep, resonating PAK! sound. My head snaps up and I say, “What was that?!” and I see Lucas in the parking area. Lucas is looking at my car. I look at my car. My hands clap to my mouth as my jaw drops to the floor because my entire rear windshield is shattered. SHATTERED. I slowly, slowly, walk down the stairs saying “Oh….my…..gosh…oh…..my…..gosh…” Lucas is just looking at me, then at the car, then back at me like he’s watching a tennis match. I said, “Lucas, what happened?” And he said, “I threw a rock up into the air and then BOOM!” At which point I very calmly told him he would have no dessert for two weeks and he needed to go into the corner – which he bolted to the house to do. I brought Merrill in and put her in bed, still in shock. When Lucas came out of the corner I told him he also wasn’t allowed tv for 2 weeks unless Merrill wanted to watch something and then it would be whatever Merrill wanted. (I decided that it wasn’t fair for her to be punished, not to mention I would die not being able to plug them in at least a little bit for 2 weeks.)
I called the insurance company and although it’s $200 we at least have a deductible so that’s all I have to pay. Which is good since the rear windshield has the defrost thingys going through it. After getting off the phone with them and setting up a glass appointment for today (12-5) I get some leftovers out of the fridge to heat them up for lunch and … my microwave makes a horrible sound and doesn’t work. Yup, gotta fix or replace a microwave/convection oven now, too.
The good news was that my mom was able to bring by her station wagon – which although tighter than my car still fits all 3 car seats, so we are able to drive that today to take Lucas to school. I couldn’t drive mine because I’m sure the whole rest of the window would collapse and I certainly can’t drive around a baby in 30 degree weather with a window out.
I had been planning on taking the kids to University Mall because Tuesdays movie shows are only $2 and the time we had to drop my mom off coincided perfectly so I decided to go ahead and go. We saw Enchanted and that movie was so cute and so much fun that even though poor Eleanor had a giant poopie during the movie that went out the back of the paper diaper and into her pjs I still emerged in a better mood and was able to laugh at how ridiculously bad the day was. So thank goodness for that good ol’ Disney magic. HOWEVER – when Ed went to give the kids a bath, we had no hot water! Apparently the guys who put in the water pipes in the basement did something. We finally got it back on, but it was another fun little stupid thing to happen along with everything else.
And that is why we’ll probably miss playgroup today.”

Good food, good friends

Smoked an eight pound pork shoulder today. I’m working on learning the finer points of my new offset smoker, the larger the piece, the more complicated the session. I got up around 4:30 to start the coals and went back to bed after putting the roast on to start smoking. I’d soaked some pecan wood the night before, as well as covering the roast in a mixture of mustard and brown sugar, drizzles in bourbon. Nice.
Smoking went well, and we had some good friends over for pork sandwiches, sweets, (thanks all for the excellent variety of nibbles), drinks and entertainment. We even had a good game of celebrity.
I think I’m ready for our first bonfire. I’ll probably smoke a pork shoulder or a brisket.