Definition for Kayak :-)

Kayak [] n. 1. an oblong banana shaped boat with a hole in the bottom from which the occupant dangles. Can be propelled the wrong way up by experts. (definition courtesy of Pete Knowles)
(And I've got this one from Chris' Kayak Lexicon)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Warmest Thanksgiving on Record!

Last year Thanksgiving I looked at our deck thermometer and it showed a solid 60F as we were outside without a jacket barbequeing the turkey in the back yard!

This year the temperatures were in the 20s and yet it was the warmest Thanksgiving I have celebrated since my records began, which was in 2002!

Don't get me wrong I have ALWAYS had a good holiday, since I have moved here. I've always had dinners to go to and it was always fun and good company. The one year I decided to make this holiday my own I remember spending a wonderful day in my warm and homey kitchen baking Christmas cookies and having the jolliest time preparing for a German style Christmas and watching thick snowflakes dancing outside the window all day!

This year too we had the first snow, which is always exciting for me! And it was the absolute perfect snow. Crystals like from a children's picture book, powdery and delicate.

I had two parties to go to, well actually three, another friend had invited me on short notice, but there is only so much celebrating I can do in one day! (Oh ok, you got me, I am showing off a little but I gotta do it while I have the chance :-)

Lunch at Mike & Molly's

I spent lunch with my friend Molly's Family who had arranged the celebration in a way that her Dad Bob, whose health had sadly been poorly for the last couple of years would be able to join and enjoy it. And enjoy he did. It was just lovely too see him in good spirits and as well as I hadn't seen him, since his health deteriorated rather suddenly. I hope he keeps up the good work and his wife Mimi gets a bit of a load off her shoulders! They are both such splendid people as is of course Molly and her husband Mike as well as her lovely sister-in-law Bridget and her husband "Tiger". Lets not forget their super kids of which they both have 2: Geordy and Margit, Erin and Gretchen.

It was just a really nice and fun family get together. I am so glad I had a chance to see those family members who I hadn't seen for a while. I think of Molly like a bit of a sister. And there's a funny anekdote to that. I gave Molly a knitting book of mine. And after I left, a picture fell out and Molly couldn't for the life of her figure out, why there was a picture of herself in the book and why she can't remember the scene in the picture. Turns out, we looked so much alike as kids, that even she herself couldn't tell us apart. I like that story. I guess that would make Mike like a bother-in-law to me...

Mike the host with with in-laws Tiger and Bridget and their daughter #1 Erin.

Geordie, Molly and Mike's Sonnie Jim giggling before lunch.

Daughter #2 Gretchen on Mommie's lap and Mike& Molly's Margit on cousin Erin's lap.

Yumm!!! Dinner is served! Hasn't Margit got the coolest pumpking sippy cup?

Tiger with his Dad Bob, his Mum Mimi and his favorite wife Bridget. Knowing where a good times is to be had I have my place right next to her and Molly! No seriously you couldn't really go wrong with anyone at this party, they are all smashing!

Hostess Molly capturing the moment for her own family blog!

Look at Margit, that little bird! She had been saving herself for desert! And she wasn't disappointed.

Molly had made it quite clear :-), that she wants us out of the house pretty soon after desert, so she can put the kids down for a nap, before they have dinner with the other side of the family.

Dinner at Trevor and Jenni's

After a change of gear at home I went to Trevor & Jenni's house for dinner with Erik, Laddie, their three dogs and their cat. Armed with two pies and a crock full of green beens I arrived later than I had planned. (Well ok, I also had fallen into a brief turkey coma...) Just my luck, that just this once, the turkey is done ahead of schedule! Trevor had cooked a 5 and 1/2 hour bird to dark amber and juicy perfection in a record 3 and 1/2 hours!!! And there I was with my raw green beens having counted on the usual delay I had been hoping to cook them "to order" and to crisp green perfection, rather than reheating them to olive mush... (Not to mention that second "experimental" pie I had brought along for the ride...)

Jenni and Trevor were extremely gracious despite being close to a no-food-since-breakfast-and-now-she-comes-late-and-with-ruddy-raw-beens coma!!!

Erik and Laddie also came to again after a few mouthfuls of delicious turkey and fabulous fixin's!

I breathed again... :-)

After dinner we played a really fun new game Erik had brought. We had to make headlines out of five words that we were dealt like playing cards. Most of the went about like that:

Mob Bosses downsize naked model scam

Lost DNA reveals fake wife

You get the drift ...I dare the others to post more examples as a comment to this blog entry :-)

I had brought my Bavarian playing cards and we premiered Bavarian Holdem and played a Bavarian game called Watten. They all took to it like a duck to water and outplayed me in no time. Erik stunned with his excellent pronounciation of "Unter" which is one of the face cards.

A "footsie" incident made Jenni and I laugh until tears ran down our cheeks, you had to be there!

And then finally time to play some poker! It was nearly midnight, when we finally peeled ourselves away from this holiday and made our ways to bed.

Jenni & Trevor's first Thanksgiving as a married couple, adding finishing touches.

Where's is all gonna go? I told Jenni, that we only need one kind of cranberry sauce!

Laddie and Erik watching the football while Jenni & Trevor's dogs Lilly and CJ are watching the table! The feathery golden blur next to Erik is Laddie's dog Feather.

Constant Vigilence! Something may fall off the plate! Ya never know!

Ah ya can't beat a good game o'cards!!!

Doesn't that look mighty comfy?!? There's Feather on Laddie's lap with CJ snuggled up against both of them, while Lilly is curled up agains Laddies' right side.

Here's to absent cats! Mowie the cat thought it was a little too much dog for her that night and only came out once for a bit, safely cradled in Trevors arms.

Bavarian playing cards with the four different suits (acorns, hearts, leaves & bells) and King, Ober and Unter as face cards. Don't they look a bit different.

Now what made this Thanksgiving so special?

Especially the winter holidays like Christmas and New Year's and now Thanks Giving I just really like to spend with people I know and like WELL. For me, that's not the time to meet new people and make new friends, but to enjoy and nurture older friendships. Celebrating with people who know who I am and have known me through triumphs and disasters, who have forgiven me failures and laughed about my quirks.

Thanks all you guys for having me round for Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

London!!! Living in Style

Sorry it took me so long (2 months to the day), but I did take 1500 photos on that trip!

I LOVE the London Eye! To think they were going to tear it back down after the Millenium! It's quite funny, when I took it many years ago, which was a LOT of FUN, British Airways was running it and they actually called it a flight!

Here a couple of pictures of the Thames Festival parade! Their costumes were AMAZING and watching the fireworks over the Thames was really mesmerizing. They had some effects close to the water that I had never seen before, but which really worked well with the reflection in the river!

Ah the Victoria and Albert Museum! The have lots of pretty things in there, like this little toy castle, but they are most famous for their textiles! So look at all those beautiful tapestries!

Aren't they just stunning! Folks back then knew how to dress their living room walls!

Now that's what I'd call sleeping in style! I want that bed!

After admiring all those pretty things folks used to have in their living rooms and since Adrian would let me have a cat nap in that bed, I needed a pick me up, so we went to their cafeteria...

We had the most delicious pastries and a great cup of coffee in their period cafe house rooms that were decorated by single artists like William Morris for the very purpose of giving folks a stylish place to take their cuppa tea and repose before exploring more of the collected exotic wonders that Victorians had to go to the museum for, because they had never seen them. They didn't have a telly, innit!

Now after indulging the senses in all that medival or otherwise old splendor, it was quite a shock to encounter the new supermodern Dyson hand-dryer in the loo! I felt quite victorianized or provincial, but it was definitely a very pleasant shock. You slowly stick your 'ands in and pull 'em back out and the jet stream in the dohickey is so strong that is basically squeezes the water off your hands! Guess what the friendly and empathetic woman posing for me is! Yep an American tourist!

The V&A is really FUN, because it is set up for people to have fun with that stuff. So you get to touch and try stuff on and it isn't some replica either, it is the real thing! A real medival ruffled collar and a real ming vase and a real whatchamacallit that keeps those huge skirts looking stiff!

That's me leaning against a real Ming vase, when an earthquake hit us, just my luck!

Phiew, the tremor passed and the vase is still in good shape. They made those things to last for a few thousand years, a little tremor doesn't even crack the glazing!

He's nothing if not a good sport! Our Adrian :-)

Back on the streets of London, you can see, that security has been stepped up all over the place, so they have Storm Troupers guard the County Hall now!

Ah, here a few more photos from our little boat cruise on the Thames:

Tower Bridge

(Adrian told me, that a Texan was trying to buy it for good money, but got the name wrong in the negotiations, which he won and got the rather minimalist London Bridge instead (teehee))

And here the Tower of London itself: Being imprisoned in style!

But not everything in London is old! There are crass contrasts between the old and the ulta-modern coexisting in close proximity. I don't know about you, but I love it! Nothing worse than having a bla, non-committal, non-offensive piece of misguided architectural cowardise water down a citiscape of magnificence!

I dare you to say "weather whale, wheater whale, weather whale" really quickly!

The Houses of Parliamant!

Here the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament! The cradle of democracy! We had to squeeze within 8 inches of shiny black Uzzis to be let in. Sad really!

After all that a pint in a comfy London Pub was well deserved! Here's and cheers to Englands Public Houses!
The next day we popped round Downing Street 10 and 8 especially since I had just read that they have a new cat after Cherry got rid of the old one and then they got rid of Cherries husband. They are all called Howard and they are allowed to roam free, so I just wanted to have a look, if the kitty was around, but no luck. The guard did give me a very stern look because I was giving the backyards of the PM a very close look for any signs of Howard, which he obviously couldn't know.
Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves!

Adrian wanted some cheese for his crackers, so we went to do some grocery shopping in style. Lunds and Byerlys, Kowaskie's etc eat your heart out!

Shopping for luxuries in the Luxor Hall!

After a stroll in Hyde Park I really needed a pit stop and as I walked down the steps to the public convenience I was preparing myself for the worst because the smell did not bode well, not well at all! So I was not prepared for the best, which was this brightly lit, spick and span bathroom with tasteful mural tiles depicting scenes of the city and greating me with a smell of roses, yes I said roses and I meant it.

Hahaha, a traffic light for people on horses!!!
As it is getting evening we paid our respects to Queen Victoria who is sitting on her thrown with a... er...a...thingy of sorts...
The day is nearing it's end and so is my stay with Adrian in London. Good Bye Adrian and London until next time, hopefully soon! (sniffle)