Monday, July 28, 2008

my tan is coming along just fine, thank you

Can you believe it has only rained for about an hour and a half in the 17 days we've been here? Most unusual and a true delight since it hasn't been boiling hot either. Despite SPF 30 my cheesy whiteness is slowly turning into a slightly more appetizing light golden brown and I've got the tan lines to prove it.

It's not as if we've been so busy that we don't know which way is up, but I've still had no time, and frankly, not much desire, to blog. The first couple of days I had to work my way through two years of back issues of Martha Stewart Living. That done, my mother presented me with a stack of must-read books and magazines which I was eager to get into. Then tragedy struck - I took a nice slice out of thumb while making dinner one night, seriously compromising my page turning ability. I'm a fast healer and all is well now, though.

We've been meeting lots of friends and families for various lunches and dinners and catching up on all the news, both good and bad. Friends my age are getting on with their lives, some dealing with ageing, ailing parents as I am (but I must say that my own parents are doing extremely well) and older friends, my 92-year-old godfather among them, are wondering what's next for them and how much time they have left, insisting that two years is far too much time between visits. 'Cause you just never know what's going to happen. I agree.

Tomorrow we head south across the Canada/U.S. border to spend a few days exploring Washington State and Oregon. Except for one 'for sure' visit with some friends, there's no real plan - we're doing this road trip style and will end up where we end up. Hilarity may ensue.

We'll be pretty much off line while we're gone, so I won't be able to respond to comments or e mail for about a week. Here are a few pictures to tide you over.

The beach, about a 10 minute walk from my parents house

My mother's beautiful garden

Horseshoe Bay, where B.C. Ferries set sail on an hourly basis to Bowen Island, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast

Last week's trip to Bowen Island, a 20-minute ferry ride from Horsheshoe Bay

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

see ya

Gone Fishin'...

Back the third week of August to tell you all about the one that got away.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

done like dinner

You may have been wondering where I've been. Well, I had to choose between blogging and packing, and packing won hands down. We leave for Vancouver tomorrow morning, you see, and there was so very much to do. I'm finished now. Finito. Fertig. Done. Like dinner.

Mr. M is a real champion at stuffing things into suitcases, so that's his job, but I'm in charge of choosing what to take and making sure it's all in good order. And then there's the matter of summer-proofing the house and garden so we don't come back to any unexpected suprises after five and half weeks on the road. I am SO tired.

This time instead of the kids and me taking the train to the airport while Mr. M and his mother go by car and meet us there with the luggage, we decided to get a door-to-door airport transfer that will pick us up tomorrow morning at home and then again at the airport when we get back in August. Much easier all around. We're also flying via Amsterdam on KLM this trip rather than using Lufthansa as we usually do. I'm looking forward to spending an hour or two at the well-thought-out and easy-to-get-around Schiphol airport (are you listening, Frankfurt??)

It's about an hour's drive from the Vancouver International to my parents' home in West Vancouver. When we finally get there we'll first need to check out what's new in Mum's garden

Black Squirrel

and Dad's garage

After that it's off to the beach, only a few minutes away

to meet some old friends,

Canada Goose

and do a little of this

Of course we'll be enjoying the view wherever we go

Looking over Burrard Inlet from Lonsdale Quay

View of downtown Vancouver from the North Shore with Mt. Baker, a volcano in Washington State in the background

Lighthouse Park

although we hope we won't run into one of these along the way

And the trip wouldn't be complete without a ferry ride

B.C. Ferries

We wish you all a great summer, wherever you happen to be.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

der Bergsteiger kehrt zurück/the return of the mountaineer

Boy15 ist letzten Sonnabend heile aus Baad zurückgekehrt, sehr müde und froh zu Hause zu sein. Es war aber eine wunderbare Zeit und er fühlte sich glücklich, mitgemacht zu haben.

Boy15 returned home from Baad in one piece last Saturday, very tired and happy to be home. But he did have a wonderful time and felt very lucky to have taken part.

Er hat viele Fotos gemacht, leider wurden einige vom Kartenleser aufgefressen. Wir haben aber die meisten gerettet. Ich finde der Junge hat ein gutes Auge.

He took lots of pictures. Unfortunately a few of them got eaten by the card reader. We managed to save most of them, though. I think the boy has a good eye.

Ausblick über Baad, das Dorf wo die Kinder wohnten.

This is the view overlooking Baad, the tiny village the kids stayed in.

Die Landschaft im Kleinwalsertal ist atemberaubend

The scenery in Kleinwalsertal is breathtaking

und die Nachbarn, ob groß...

and the neighbours, both big...

oder klein...

and small...

...sind immer froch, dich zu sehen

...are always happy to see you

Wenn du länger bleiben möchtest, hast du mehrere schnuckelige Hotels zur Auswahl

If you want to stay a while there are many adorable hotels to choose from

Boy15 fand die heimische Küche ganz in Ordnung.

Boy15 was delighted by the local cuisine.

Das ist eine sogenannte Brotzeit - eine Art Imbiss zwischendurch bestehend meist aus Brot und verschiedene Wurst und Käse Sorten mit Beilage. Hier haben wir Dörrfleisch aus Rind.

This is what is know as a Brotzeit, a kind of snack in between meals. It usually consists of bread and a variety of cheese and sausage with a garnish. Here we have some dried beef.

Zum Nachtisch oder auch als Hauptmahlzeit gibt es diese Germknödel, mit Pflaumenmus. Obendrauf kommt Mohn und Zucker.

Germknödel, a yeast dumpling filled with plum jam and topped with sugar and poppy seeds, can be served for dessert or as a main course.

Wenn die nicht am Essen waren, waren die Kinder ständig unterwegs.

When they weren't eating, the kids were always on the go.

Eine 3-Tages-Wandertour mit Übernachtung im Zelt und Berghütte

A three day hike, staying overnight in tents and mountain cabins


Rock climing


River rafting

Wenn er doch eine Minute für sich selber hatte, hat Boy15 es sogar geschafft, ein bisschen Kunst zu finden.

When he did have a moment to himself, Boy15 even managed to find some art.

und natürlich die obligatorische überteuerte Souvenirs.

and of course the obligatory overpriced souvenirs.

Jetzt wo er wieder zu Hause ist und sich von den ganzen Strapazen erholt hat, freut er sich auf dem Sommerurlaub.

Now that he's home again and recovered from all the action, he's looking forward to his summer holidays.



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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

it ain't canada day without food

Just a simple barbecue tonight.

Mirin Wasabi Glazed Salmon, roasted carrots, peppers and fennel and corn on the cob.

It was goooood.

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Canucks unite

(You'll notice I'm cheating a bit today!)

This is what it looked like at our house at 7:30 a.m. this morning.

That's because it's July 1st, Canada Day. Whee. You can read up about it here, if you like. It's a work and school day in Germany, so no big celebrations going on at our house. Perhaps a quiet salmon BBQ later with a bit of flag waving.

So what sort of things do YOU identify with Canada? The maple leaf? The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (oh, I DO love a man in uniform!)? What about Canada's national animal? That would be the castor canadensis, more commonly known as the beaver. Yes, the little old beaver.

I was turfing some stuff out of Boy12's room and came across a most interesting and entertaining Canadian souvenir given to him by some well-meaning relative.


And at the bottom of the can we have

Caution: These beavers have been known to snuggle you to sleep.

Attention: Ces castors peuvent se blottir contre vous pour vous endormir.

You'll notice the French on there as well as English. That's because as a rule, all products sold in Canada must be labeled in both of Canada's official languages. Does this mean that my French has ever progressed past first year university level? Nope, unfortunately not.

If we turn the can around a bit we find




Hmm. This gets better all the time.

Here's the back of the can

It gives us some miscellaneous castor canadensis facts, including talk of late night tale slapping parties and the ability to cut down up to 200 trees a year with their razor-sharp incisors. Scary.

And way down at the bottom a serious warning

Always treat wild animals with respect.
Respectez toujours les animaux sauvages.

Indeed. You wouldn't want to get in the way of one of these guys in a dark alley.

If you still can't get enough, here's a Canada Day quiz. See if you can identify these Canadianisms.

1. toque
2. loonie
3. toonie
4. chesterfield
5. serviette
6. Kraft Dinner
7. 40-pounder
8. two-four
9. homo milk

and my kids' all time favourite

11.gonch pull

Got them all? Scroll down to see how you scored.
1. knitted cap
2. Canadian 1$ coin
3. Canadian 2$ coin
4. couch/sofa
5. napkin
6. Kraft macaroni and cheese
7. 40-ounce bottle of spirits
8. 24-can flat of beer
9. homogenized/whole milk
10.garbage disposal

Isn't Canadian English weird? Just in case you want to hear me speaking it, here's a repeat of a recording I did as an "accent meme" in 2006. Just click on play - you'll probably have to turn up your speakers quite high.

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