Wir had such a swell time last year driving around the French Alps and Provence that we definitely wanted to return this year.
Thank you BookCrossing, for the hook-up. I began trading emails with a innkeeper in Provence via my little on-going BookCrossing wish lists project, and she was so pleased with some personal results it yielded her that she made Sarah and me an offer we couldn’t refuse.
So, my boss gave me the time off, and today we booked a pair of flights — just €78 per person round-trip from Munich to Nice on AirBerlin — and a rental car through Sixt and are going to spend May 1st through May8th there. Can’t wait. Check out www.school-rooms.com for details on our esteemed hosts and accomodations.
Well, winter’s here. No lingering doubt about it, anymore. Two days before yesterday, and people were still walking around outside without jackets (OK, those were the drunk kids coming out of the bar on our street, but still — even they are weather wussies, usually). The day before yesterday it got noticeably colder, and yesterday was downright bone-chilling. High temps well below freezing always do that, though — nothing new (for Sarah and me). I feel kinda sorry for all the grass that was still bright green yesterday afternoon.
Check out these two pictures I snapped this morning from our loft within one minute of each other (click ’em). The left one was with the “night scene” program set on the camera. It had an exposure time of 7 seconds (thank you, tripod!). The right one, I took with the “auto” program set, where the flash is used to try to provide enough light. Obviously, it didn’t work. But you can get an idea of how dark it *really* was when I snapped these two shots.
Grand St. Café in Kansas City has the best potato soup I’ve ever had. I was thinking about that when I was wondering what I could do with leeks for dinner. Here’s what we ended up with – it’s super yum.
1. In a large saucepan or stockpot, bring potatoes and chicken broth to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender. Do not drain. Mash potatoes until smooth or leave chunky for a little texture, depending on how smooth you want the soup. (can use a hand blender or potato masher).
2. Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until slightly crispy. Remove bacon and crumble, reserving 3 tablespoons of grease.
3. Sauté the leeks and garlic in the frying pan with the reserved bacon grease 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Stir the fried leeks, half & half and bacon into the potatoes. Stir to blend, season to taste. Serve hot.
Realized I lost my wallet (or that it got taken). Panicked. Rode my bike in the pouring rain up and down my usual route to/from the office (it’s complicated, because my route is really more of a loop and I ride up one side of the street and down the other). Got soaked to the skin. Called and blocked various cards and memberships. Visited the local police office to report my wallet missing (which was surprisingly pleasant; thanks Officer Dingenskirchen!). Misread the bus schedule and got a little lost on the way out to my bank to cancel my ATM card and request a new one.
Bike crapped out on me on my way home. Probable cause: chain needs oiling after spending those two hours out on the rain hunting for my wallet along the bike path on Tuesday.
Was also OK, aside from work being work and having to take the bus while my bike awaits its lube job.
Got bit by a dog, which only could have happened because I was on foot, because my bike was unusable, because of being out in the rain, because of having lost my wallet. Got hijacked into a meeting that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with me or even anything related to me. I’ll never get those two hours back.
More on the dog bite:
I was walking along toward the bus stop on Friday morning minding my own business, when I noticed the little white yappy dog who lives to harass passers-by at Italy Schuhe & Mode outside the Müller bakery. It was on a leash, but its mommy was inside the Müller bakery. Mommy came out and crossed the street toward her store (the aforementioned Italy Schuhe & Mode) just as I was walking past Yappy. Yappy didn’t like that, apparently, and bit me. I yelled in surprise, which got Mommy’s attention, who beckoned Yappy to her side. I didn’t feel anything but a slight tugging, but after a few steps further I felt a little draft down below. I looked and saw the hole and yelled to Mommy that I would require monetary compensation for the damage to my pants. She kept walking away from me, so I followed her into the vestibule of her store.
“Your dog bit me and ripped a hole in my pants.”
“I don’t believe that. He doesn’t bite.”
“Well, he just did. Look at this hole.”
“How do I know that he caused that? Maybe the hole was there before?”
“No, your dog did it.”
“You must have kicked him or something.”
“I didn’t kick him. I see this dog every day. That’s why I was so surprised when he bit me.”
“We can discuss this after I open the store. Come back at 10:30.”
“I have an office job. I have to go to work.”
“OK, come back at 18:30 and we can discuss it then.”
So, I did. In fact, I came back early due to the completely boring meeting trap I fell into Friday afternoon. When I got there, it was a similar story, but even weirder.
“Hello, what we can do for you?”
“Your dog did this.” [pointing at the hole in my pant leg]
“Ach ja. That is so strange. There must have been some misunderstanding between you and the dog.”
“You got that right. I don’t understand why he bit me, but he did.”
“But he really doesn’t bite!”
“Do you mean to tell me he ripped this hole in my pants with a pair of scissors?”
“Well, I called my insurance company and they will require the pants and a receipt showing how much they cost.”
“They cost at least €25. I don’t have a recept for them; I bought them several months ago.”
“The insurance company won’t reimburse me without a proof of how much they cost.”
“I’ll take off my pants and give them to you right now, but I don’t have a receipt. I am an American. I bought them in the United States months ago. Give me the money you owe me, or I’ll go to the police. And if I were that baker, I’d have a serious problem with your dog biting my customers.”
“Wait – what do you want from me?” [Personally, I thought it was obvious.] “You can give me a written statement with your name and address affirming how much you paid for them.”
“Fine, I’ll be back in 15 minutes with a statement and the pants.”
20 minutes later…
“Here’s the statement and here are the pants.”
[reading my statement] “This looks good. I’ll be in touch.”
“You mean you’re not going to give me the money in cash!?”
“Of course not; I want the insurance company to pay for this.” [Seeing my rage level rise] “But don’t worry, you’ll get the money either from me or from them, no matter what.”
At this point, I put my banking info on the statement and walked out in disgust.
Had this character even once uttered a simple “Sorry my dog bit you,” I might have been satisfied with that. I am still considering whether to go to the police (twice in a week, not really appealing) and make a report. The dog’s behavior was uncalled for, but Mommy’s is ridiculous. Maybe my statement, regardless of whether I get the €25 back or not, will get some appropriate action taken against that dog and its owner. I think I’ll wait until after I get my money though.
That means “Merry Christmas” in Russian. Today was Christmas in the Orthodox Church. We spent the evening with our favorite local experts — Natasha, Tommy and Michael. They were great hosts (as always) with marvelous food and a complete lack of mercy during a rousing game of Ligretto afterward.
Well, I’ll still be working, but it’ll be from home, which is almost as good as not working at all. Nobody to call me, stop by my desk, make the usual beginning-of-the-year-chit-chat. I should be able to actually get some stuff done.
On the way home from work tonight, I snapped this picture using the tripod Sarah gave me for my birthday. I am quite happy with it. Click on it to see a bigger version.