the weekend that wouldn’t end.

So yeah, about the last few days:

  • Quinn turned 7 yesterday. Parental schedules being what they are, we had an early birthday party for him on Saturday. We had eight kids and as many adults in the house, and it was pretty lively. There was chili, cake, liquor, and those awesome little cocktail sausages that someone slathered with a home-brewed BBQ sauce which turned the little things into CRACK. Then one of our friends and her three kids stayed for a sleepover, so festivities were not really concluded until noon the next day as far as the kids were concerned.
  • Yesterday we took our female dachshund in for her planned c-section. We bred her again because we still don’t have the girl out of her that we wanted so we could continue her mother’s line. OF COURSE the c-section yielded…two males.
  • Last night wasn’t so hot. I had to stay up and check on the mom and pups every 15 minutes or so. I fell asleep around 2am. Robin got up just after 4am to discover that one of the pups had died. Now Raven is down to a single-pup litter, and we’re hoping he’ll make it. He’s active and nursing like a champ, so chances are good, but they’re not really out of the rough until they’re a few days old at least. He’s a very pretty color, deep red mahogany like his sire. I predict we’ll end up retiring Raven from breeding, keeping the male, and then buying a female to breed him to when the time comes. So this breeding didn’t go as well as we had hoped, to put it mildly, but we’ll make the best of it.
  • The wife and kids are coming down with something, possibly acquired when the house was packed with adults and kids on Saturday. That means I’ll be getting it too sooner or later.

So that was my exciting weekend that sort of dragged all the way into Wednesday and shows no signs of ending. I could stand about a week away from Daddy duties at this point, maybe drive down to Key West and pound down some Mojitos at the beach or something. Alas, I’m never off the clock here. At least I can do the mojito thing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a garage to clean up and some furniture to reshuffle for tomorrow’s refinancing home appraisal. Then I have to start the sausage & kale soup for dinner, and possibly collapse on the couch and sleep for eighteen hours straight.


it’s a bike! it’s a bar! it’s…totally german.

Leave it to the Germans to come up with new and inventive ways to do sightseeing tours without leaving the bar behind:


The Beer Bike.

That’s a monster bicycle with space for 16 people. It features a bar, roof, sound system, and beer tap. The beer bike carries its own supply in the form of a 50-liter keg at the front. The twelve people on both sides of the bar have foot pedals for propulsion, and there’s space for four non-pedaling people in the back. The driver has a steering wheel and brakes. (Yes, the driver has to stay sober.)

You can rent those for tours in many German cities. People use them for sightseeing trips or special occasions like bachelor parties, graduations, or birthdays. And yes, they’re (still) legal to operate on public streets. (I say “still” because there’s legislation under consideration to ban the beer bikes from public roads.) When you rent one, it comes with a driver who steers you around and makes sure the rules are being followed. (Their code of conduct is actually pretty strict—no rowdy behavior, no harassment of pedestrians, no leaving the bike, and so on. Failure to follow the rules will result in an immediate end to the tour and a 200-euro fee.)

I’ve never been on one—they came up with that idea long after I moved to the United States—but I hear they’re a lot of fun. It’s certainly a different way to do a sightseeing tour, that’s for sure.

christmas 2011 after-action report.

We had a quiet and relaxing Christmas just like last year. With Robin’s family mostly in North Carolina and surrounding states, and my family in Germany, we don’t really have an opportunity to do the Big Family Gathering type Christmas too often. We got together with some local friends for lunch and a social afternoon on Friday, and then stayed home and did the Santa thing on Saturday.

Here’s a picture of the main loot recipients this year. They made out like bandits.

Time flies, doesn’t it? To me it seems like both of them were still in diapers just last week. One morning I’ll get up, make coffee, go to wake up the kids, and find that they’ve left for college.

The kids got the lion’s share of the presents, but Santa also dropped off a telescope and some stargazing books and charts as a family gift. Our friends also thoughtfully gifted us an annual 5-person membership to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord.

The menu for the Christmas weekend included the traditional family Christmas fare–lobsters–and such German staple items as paella and lobster bisque. The lord of the manor also consumed way too many German gingerbread cookies, and the lord & lady together pretty much drank all the eggnog. Also, we seem to be out of Bacardi now. In short, it was a typical all-American Christmas. I hope yours was as good as ours.

hydration devices of the future.

Here’s an interesting thing Robin bought: a water pitcher that infuses the H2O with fresh fruit flavor.

Pitcher 003

It has a vented “spine” that can be filled with fruit and (conceivably) other flavor items as well. In this case, it’s fresh watermelon with a  few mint leaves tossed in. The lid has a removable water-filled core that can be placed in the freezer.

The resulting flavored water is actually quite good—a light note of fruit, nothing too sweet or overwhelming. Of course, I’m already trying to think of uses that involve cocktails.