Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oh, I remembered

Something I thought of during the Olympics.
Here's is a post-race interview I'd like to hear:
"Yeah. I didn't win. Going over it again, I've come to the conclusion that the other person won because of a mixture of longer and faster strides."

lucking out

I'm kind of tired, so thinking of a new post seems beyond me.

Luckily, my sister sent me a picture of Coco, taken by my brother-in-law and his fancy camera.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

little things

A cute thing from the kid we were watching. He was talking about his cousin who is a swimmer and is done with high school. He said that his cousin is going to "sleep-away college."

Oh, and yesterday, at the pool, I saw a useful application of a belly-button piercing: the lady used it to keep the key to her locker.

Her car keys were tacked to her tongue.
(Okay, maybe not. But it sounds like a good song title or refrain, no?)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kid we're watching

Remember how I said he's jock-ish?
Well, I had a bit of an "understanding other people" insight recently, and thought I'd share. Though I'm not sure how thrilled I am to give up yet another prejudice.
He's nine, like Madge, but a foot taller. So anyone who sees him automatically and justifiably thinks he's eleven or twelve. And he's plenty smart and with it for a nine-year-old. But if you think he's twelve and then get nine-year-old responses, well, you'll start to think he's not so bright.
I have a feeling it's like that for many of the more athletic kids. Physically, they get grouped with older kids, so they have a stimulating challenge. But socially and intellectually, they might be grappling with where they fit in. And then they adjust according to people's expectations.
Anyway, if anyone messes with this kid, they'll have to go through me.

Incidentally, Coco really likes him and also fell for the size thing. He happily jumped on the kid's back (as the kid was sitting) and started to climb on his shoulders and was incredibly surprised when the kid didn't hold him. Luckily, I was nearby and caught the tumbling mess and only had to deal with Coco's furious embarrassment, but no injuries.

Coco Tuesday

We went to the Double D pool today, the first time in more than three weeks (thanks to the trip to Berlin). Fun stuff, but the weather is definitely turning autumnal. (Fine adjective, that. I even think I know the matching one for spring: vernal. But for summer? Summerish?) It's not really colder out, but the humidity is gone and you can sense that the weather is heading in a different direction. And yet swimming was fun. And Coco is quite a swimmer. He's taken Opa's example to heart and is taking his time, which is helping the smoothness of his stroke.
But his lip still quivers after a half hour or so. Luckily, he's mature enough to get out of the water and just lay on his towel in the sun, which is quite a cute sight to behold.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Germany pictures

I'm working on putting the pictures in my Flickr account (the Look C. link in the right-hand sidebar), but I'll comment on some of my favorites here.
This was the Legoland Discovery Centre (at least I think it was spelled with the British -re). A replica of the Brandenburg gate in Lego is one picture. The other is my favorite aspect. For those parents and guardians who have had enough of watching kids, there are some newspapers hanging up by tables and chairs. I think playgrounds here should have a reading rack, too.

Madge Monday

Home stretch of summer vacation. We got our school supplies and are now waiting out the last week. We have help, since we're also taking care of a "friend" of hers. I say "friend" because he's a forced-upon friend. She wouldn't have much to do with him ordinarily, since he was in her class two years ago, not last year, and he's a boy, a nice kid, but jock-ish and therefore with little in common. But the thing they do have in common is a father who is German and who bugs them by speaking German to them which they can doubly ignore: once by simply being kids and not wanting to listen, and once by claiming not to understand the language.
You'd think the common enemy would unite them...
But they're getting along fine as long as I stay out of it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

truth in branding

Julie and Madge were doing some E-Z Bake and Coco asked, "Why is it called e-z bake?" and Julie answered, "Because if they were truthful and called it pain-in-the-butt bake, nobody would buy it."
See why I missed her so much?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Coco in rare form

It's almost like someone is coaching him.
Today he was playing with some of his toys, one in each hand, making them talk to each other, when Julie said, "You really missed your toys, didn't you."
And he looked up and said,
"No, I missded you, Mommy."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We're back

And what could be a nicer gift to Julie than what Coco said to her this afternoon.
"You're much more prettier than my mind!"

I wholeheartedly concur.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

und tschüß

See, I had to make use of the special keyboard one last time.
Tomorrow morning we fly back home, back to JULIIIEEEE!!!!!!
Oh, yeah, and the cat.
The kids are very excited about going back home, as am I. We had a last farewell barbecue in the grandparental yard and now the kids are asleep and I need to go, too, since I don´t know how early I have to get up to say, "Not yet."
I still need to deliver the little weenies/angels safely, and then I can take a brief snooze.
And then I get to cuddle with my wifey-poo.

After the kids, of course.

Monday, August 18, 2008

and back from the country

I still had cell phone reception, but no computer. And I survived.
A classic moment arose after the neighbor, who is a butcher by profession (though a sweetheart by nature) and who raises small livestock, brought by a recently prepared rabbit. I don´t know why, but (I think because the feet are considered lucky for all but the original owner) it still included the rabbit´s front legs. And Madge, when she went to get some milk from the fridge, asked me, "What´s that furry thing in the fridge?"
Luckily, she´s used to furry cheese in our fridge...

Friday, August 15, 2008


Today´s trip was inspired by my trip to the passport office, indirectly.
At the passport office, a week and a half ago, I took a number and went to a used book store to get something to pass the time. The thing I got was a book by Kurt Tucholsky, called "Rheinsberg: Ein Bilderbuch für Verliebte."
So, after finishing it, I figured why not go to Rheinsberg. And today we did. It was fun. Several train-rides, each less than an hour, the last on a single track (meaning that there was but one train going back and forth) led us to a cute town and a lovely castle. Maybe I´ll post the pictures and a link when we get back to NY.
Tomorrow we´re off to Gersdorf, where there is no internet and maybe not even cell phone reception. We´ll see. But people might not hear from us until after the weekend.
Could be peaceful.
Could be.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I made it. From one day to the next, I turned one year older. Last night my dad took me out to see Dieter Nuhr do his stand-up in a theater. Good stuff. The second half was more audience-friendly stuff about the battle of the sexes, but all around he´s really good. Smart and relaxed. Fun.
During the intermission we had something to drink but couldn´t find a seat because all the tables already had drinks on them, some even food, and a sign saying reserved. Apparently, you can order your intermission snacks ahead of time. What a great idea. Too bad we didn´t know about it. But the whole evening was great.
Except for the kids, who didn´t expect me to go out without them again. I think they´ll survive, but they weren´t happy about it.
Today we were at my parents´house all day, which was a fine break from being busybusybusy. And, thanks to birthday celebrations, the kids were hopped up on chocolate and cake, so the day just flew by.
Oh, and we found someone who will take the cat, Sara/Sergei, but only in about ten days, when the friend whose cat recently died returns from vacation. Now everyone is happy because we get to keep him/her for the remainder of our stay and we know he/she will get a home.
Now all we need to know is what that person´s cat died of...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The cat, by the way, is still around and is finding more adherents, but it still seems to be an uphill struggle to get the poor thing to be allowed inside.
A knowledgable neighbor said that our Sara is a boy cat. Therefore, in order not to confuse him too much in respect to his former name, I´m suggesting the name Sergei.
But no one here is with me.


Generally, I´m proud to have my food-appreciation influenced by Gordon Ramsay´s Kitchen Nightmares, but it gets difficult when other cultures (read: familial food issues) are involved.
See, we ate at the KaDeWe today after we did some brief shopping there. I thought it would be a great idea because cafeteria-style usually helps the kids. When you can´t read a menu, seeing your food is helpful. But, in the immortal words of Gordon Ramsay, it was all bleep.
I even went back because I thought that the seafood bits that had hidden in the overdone tomato cream sauce were just a tad off. Not to complain, but to try the other pasta. Again an odd cream sauce overkilled under a heat-lamp.
But somehow we had to not waste it. Not so easy, trust me. But I think it all disappeared nicely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Messed-up blogging days again

Yesterday should have been Madge Monday, I guess. Oops.
Today Coco Tuesday. Double Oops.
Or not at all because they´re always involved anyway. Well, here´s a Coco nugget from two minutes ago. He actually shook his head depracatingly (at me) and said, "Oh, no no no no no."
The context was me telling him that I´d put his new Pokemon cards in the suitcase, and he said, "Oh, no no no no no. I mean on the airplane. I don´t want them to be where I have to wait wait wait."

Today we went to the Sony Centre (yes, I think it´s the British -re not the American -er) to the Legoland thingie they have there. Then, in the typical bargain I have to make, we went to a bookstore and they stayed quiet while I looked around in return for a bycicle rickshaw ride. So we did both.
On the way home - Julie will be proud - I acually made us get out of a train we just chased down to catch in order to validate our tickets. Yes, we had to wait a whole seven minutes (precisely seven, of course) for the next one, but we had the help of some sandwiches we had just bought.
All righty, then.

Monday, August 11, 2008

cranky daddy

Yesterday, the day after the late night, went fine.
But today I was a cranky sourpuss all day and being a guest in someone´s house, even (or especially) one´s parents´, with children around is not at all conducive to getting some time and space to get over it. So I´ll try to get to bed earlier tonight. And tomorrow we´ll be off to Legoland. Not the real thing, but a miniature version of it in the Sony Center. We´ll be getting out of the house and doing a little bit of a touristy excursion, which might be a good thing.
Today we went swimming in a nearby lake. And the kids weren´t squeamish about it, which is a good thing.
And, as an added bonus, we got to see a seventy-one-year-old man (my dad) do an involuntary impression of Jerry Lewis or Michael Richards, putting on his shorts after swimming - in the water, which only makes sense to the select few (not me) - and getting his one leg stuck in the pant leg opening while hopping along on the other trying to keep his balance. To his credit, he didn´t fall over. Though I almost did, from laughing. I have no idea why he didn´t trust me to steady him while he put them on for real.

don´t know how this will work

But my nephew is in a sailing race in Workum (in the Netherlands) and his boat´s name is "Katamaranie" and you ought to be able to follow it by clicking on this link. I haven´t done it yet, but I will soon.
PS I´ve tried it and modified the link. It´s interesting, but I´m not sure I´ll be able to follow it. I´ll just blame it on the speed of the DSL hookup my parents have.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

out late

I didn´t know I still had it in me. I was out until about 4:30am last night, or rather this morning. Partly because the reunion was more entertaining than I had expected and partly because my parents live in such a comparatively suburban location and public transportation takes a while at that time of night.
Memories arise of course and so I was feeling guilty on my walk home from the train stop, though I don´t know why. And then, when I came to the front door, the dog didn´t make a sound.
But Sarah, our stray, was mewling at me nonstop.

She´s not just cute, she´s a guard kitty, too.
And we´re still working on getting her a home around here.
But I am not a cat person, I tell you.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I´m beat

I played soccer this morning with an old friends and his new ones. I feel like I´ve been replaced.
Oh, well. The kids came along and watched. And then I let them play outside the gym we were in and they came back with their hands covered in berry juice. Fun all around, I guess.
The only downside is that I limp a little now because my shin clashed with someone´s heel. My fault, really. Oh, and I´m a little tired.
And now I have a class reunion to go to. I might fall asleep on the subway or, better yet, in conversation with one of the more scintillating attendees.
Wish me luck.

Friday, August 08, 2008


We had a very exciting day, mostly because we lured a stray kitten into my parents´backyard. I´ll call her a she even though we never really bothered to find out. I wanted to call her "Hertha" after Berlin´s soccer team, but Coco is insisting on "Sarah," which seems to be his all-time favorite female name. Why, we don´t really know, unless it´s because of our former upstairs neighbor on whom he had a crush.
Anyway, we did our best to make the cat feel welcome and let her sleep on the porch and snuck some food off our plates to her and let her pee in the flowers. We think she might be someone´s indoor kitty and is probably less than a year old. Black and gray with a white belly and the cutest triangle on the chest. Not that I´m a softy for cats or anything.
Anyway, the kids were having a hard time saying good-night to her because I told them she can´t come inside and we just have to hope that she enjoyed our company enough to come back again tomorrow.
We´ll see. I honestly don´t know what would be better.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

swim day

Today was very hot for Germany, a bit like a Brooklyn July day with less humidity.
Since my family listens to the weather every day, we were prepared and had planned to go to the outdoor pool, along with the rest of Berlin. And still it was less crowded than our usual "Double D" pool. Cool stuff.
As an added bonus, the rules here are looser, and they still have DIVING BOARDS! WooooHooooo! That is one major drawback to the pools I´ve been to in the states.
Coco upped his doggy paddle to prove he could swim in the big kid pool and matched Madge jump for jump. Though the slide in the medium-sized pool was more his style.
Still, it was great fun. And, as so often with swimming, the kids wore themselves out, which meant that, until Coco crashed, everyone´s nerves were a bit on the frayed side.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

big kid keeps impressing

Today we took a longish S- and U-Bahn (public rail above and below ground) trip to a friend of mine. During one of the transfers Madge saw food and proclaimed she was hungry, so we stopped to eat. She hadn´t whined about it before and she wasn´t pushy about it.
Just, matter-of-fact, "Daddy, let´s eat something here. I´m hungry."
She wasn´t even fussy about the food and corrected the saleslady when she was handed the wrong sandwich.
It´s that matter-of-fact assertiveness that, I think, is impressing all around.

The friend, btw, is the one with the kid who is Madge´s age but without a linguistic connection. And still everyone played well. And even watched TV together.
So far, so good.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

busy, busy

Since it´s Tuesday (I think), I´ll lead with an observation of Coco´s this morning. "There´s no trash on the street," he remarked. And rightly so. I guess that´s unnatural for him.
And Madge is just rocking over here. She is such a stong and strong-willed kid, it´s amazing.
We hung out with a friend of mine and his son. The son doesn´t speak English, Madge doesn´t speak German. At one point I looked up from talking to my friend and saw that she was dragging him along by the wrist (he´s a year older than she) to show him something.

This afternoon was social, the morning more bureaucratic. I was at the German passport office. When I got to the waiting room after taking my number and slipping out to a used-book store there was a minor commotion because a few kids were looking at a trapped bat and one of the official ladies was clamoring to call someone authoritative. Or, to be exact, someone of a different authority than hers. While she was telling the kids to stay away (not mine, they were with Granny), a different lady, a tiny thing with dyed blond hair and a name like Frau Mischnik (if I heard correctly) came in and muttered the equivalent of "oh, come here, you poor little thing," picked up the stray bat and carried it outside.
Unfortunately, the brief high of the rescue action was deflated by some chick on a cellphone simultaneously swooning and complaining about her recent move. I had an urge to take out my cell-phone and talk during her breaks, immediately answering her conversation, but I chickened out. Largely because I had no audience.

Let´s call that reason number 422 why it sucks that Julie´s not here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

posting from Germany

Does the post smell anz different?
In case zou couldnät tell, the kezboard here has some different features, so I mess up on z and y and occasionallz add an Umlaut - one of these beasts: äöü. But that´ll improve soon, I think.

We´re here without Julie, which is a big waaaaaah! for all.
To top it off, the airport seemed to feature a late-eighties tear-jerker slow-jam sound-track.
(I´m hyphened out now.)
Songs I hadn´t heard since I originally left Germany, by the likes of Lionel Richie and Simply Red etc.

Sad stuff. But the cell phone works, so that´s good.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

travel day

Big day for us. We've already checked in, thanks to the magic of the internet - which still astounds me. And we've already had a few rounds of tears about leaving mommy and the cat. Luckily, the tears are more about mommy, as it should be.
Coco's lack of time sense is striking again, since he doesn't want to have lunch here, he'll eat at the airport, he says. But our flight is at 7pm. Sometimes he does the same with using the bathroom. Let's hope today's not one of those times.
Madge now has a sense of time, so she's upset about being without mommy for two weeks. I think it'll be okay. We'll see. I got a loaner cell phone from Verizon that, they say, works in Europe, so we'll be able to call anytime, anywhere. We'll see.
And of course today is a beautiful day here in Brooklyn. Not muggy, not too hot. Hard to leave.
But we're set to go.
And I signed up to be at my high school class's 20-year reunion.
Let's go have some fun!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Further Research

See? Not that you didn't believe me, but Chartreuse is a liqueur. Herbal and sweet. I know the latter because one of the local wine shops let me sample some. The problem for a lightweight like me was that this happened at 10:45am. But I've had a nap since then and am doing just fine, thank you.

In some countries, religious orders forbid drinking. In other countries, the religious orders make the drinks. If I were inclined to monastic life, I think I'd settle in the latter.