Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Traditions

At the end of June we took a weekend trip to Alsace with friends of ours whose son is friends with Bloggerboy Junior.  Neither son was along, but Fräulein Bloggerboy accompanied us with her boyfriend of over one year.  We've been going to the Alsace with our friends since 1998 at irregular intervals -- ouch, that's fourteen years.  Traditionally we arrive late on Friday afternoon and enjoy a nice meal in one of the local restaurants.  On Saturday, we stock up on local goodies and hike into the nearby hills for a picnic, and then we hike back to town and taste wines.  We had a nice visit and enjoyed our picnic.  I think this was at least our sixth trip to Alsace with our friends.

One of the nearby Alsatian villages

On Friday evening I had Peter's Fish (aka John Dory) as my main course,
washed down with an excellent Grand Cru Riesling from
the surrounding vineyards.  Peter's Fish is considered the
best fish for making Bouillabaisse.  Just at the top of the picture:
Frau Bloggerboy's frog's legs with spätzle. 

On Saturday we hiked through the vineyards above the village
to our traditional picnic spot in the hills.

Did I mention that Frau Bloggerboy tends to overdo it
on picnics?  Our friends had one backpack for two
persons and a limited menu.  We had three backpacks and a large
shopping bag for four persons.  That was my first hike with
a shopping bag!  Notice I brought my Opinel knife back to
its home country for a visit.  A perfect picnic knife.

After we returned home, I looked up our first visit to Alsace with our friends and found this [redacted] journal entry from a time when Fräulein Bloggerboy was about two and Bloggerboy Junior about five:

"Friday was a bad day with the kids.  We visited Chateau Haute-Koenigsbourg.  It was crowded.  Bloggerboy Junior had a good time, but Fräulein Bloggerboy was miserable.  I went to get the car, and when I came back, Bloggerboy Junior was whining for a toy that Frau Bloggerboy had refused to buy him, and the rest of the day went downhill.  We drove into Sélestat and had lunch in front of the Gothic Church.  After that we walked through the old part of town.  Bloggerboy Junior was impossible.  We had a hilarious scene in a cafe, with Fräulein Bloggerboy kicking and screaming.  I ended up eating two ice cream cones, one of which Bloggerboy Junior had used all of his ingenuity to obtain -- and then wanted to discard.  Then we headed home, exhausted and demoralized.  Later, we went to dinner.  Our friends were going to show up later.  Fräulein Bloggerboy was a monster the whole time.  She would not sit in her high chair.  I had to keep taking her out to the patio to walk around to keep her out of the kitchen or off the other guests' tables.  I was exhausted and had trouble enjoying my food.

[Fortunately, things got better the next day.]

Fräulein Bloggerboy rode on my back in the children's backpack that my parents had brought over from the States during their last visit.  She slept most of the way to our picnic spot, only to wake up just in time to sing in my ear as we walked the final 300 meters.  She really liked being on Papa's back and hummed most of the way home."

Strangely, I can barely remember the stressful incidents, but the sound of Fräulein Bloggerboy's singing still rings in my ears.





Sunday, July 8, 2012

Domestique Extraordinaire

Yes, it’s Tour de France time again.  I’ve caught the end phase of all stages except the initial time trials.  There have been some exciting sprints so far, and the Sky Team took over the yellow jersey with an impressive win yesterday.  As I was watching the 8th stage today, the German commentators mentioned that Jens Voigt, who rides for the Radio Shack - Nissan team, had a blog and that he had announced his desire to attack today, which he did.  The blog is entitled "Hardly Serious".  As I write, Jens has been overtaken again, but I spent an enjoyable half-hour reading through his blog entries (in English).  Jens is well-liked here in Germany.  He’s talkative, positive, and has been relatively unscathed by doping scandals.  He is what is called a domestique in the cycling business, a rider who works for the team and its leaders; but among domestiques, he is king.  He is someone who can win a stage, and he even wore the yellow jersey once.  But it is Jens’s dignity, sense of fair play, and willingness to risk life and limb for his team leaders that make him so admirable.  Jens turned 40 this year.  This could be his last Tour, his 14th overall.  Jens has earned a following in the US as well, having participated in the Tour of California.  He has become famous for his saying “shut up legs”, and his fans shout this to him along the route.
Jens Voigt