Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I was on the tram this morning when I suddenly noticed I was reading this article from the 20 Minuten over a fellow rider's shoulder...um...like the Swiss tend to do.

Ok...OK! I know...

...get the Swiss citizenship papers started!



The article is about how the high price of gasoline is affecting the price of pizza delivery here in Switzerland. Am I concerned?


You see, we have never ordered either a carry-out pizza or pizza delivery during the entire time (2,790 days, and counting) we have lived here in Basel. Occasionally we'll go out for pizza and just eat it in the restaurant; different from Chicago pizza, but still very good. Or, better yet, Mrs. TBF will just make one of her fantastic pizzas that she has been making me for nearly 25 years now. As a matter of fact, I just bought a new Weber pizza stone yesterday to replace our old pizza stone that pretty much cracked from overuse. So no, the price of pizza delivery does not really affect us one way or another. Why then, you ask, was I so interested in this article?

What actually caught my eye was the picture of the delivery man. I looked at the picture, did a double take, and I now have only one question:

When did my brother-in-law begin delivering pizzas here in Switzerland?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Over The Past Ten Days...

...we've had our bathroom ceilings repaired.

...I lugged nearly 200 coconut-size rocks up to the roof to use as an edging for the nearly 50 bags of stones I hauled upstairs last fall.

...we found out that one of our best friends has cancer.

What have you all been up to?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Note To Self...

Note to self: Occasionally review your Notes To Self; especially the recent ones!

I went to the local Migros Fish & Co. store today knowing that I was going to have to speak German and try to interpret responses in Swiss-German.

Did I wear a white shirt? Noooooooooooooooooooooo!

Did I sweat? Yeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssss!

A torrent of sweat ran down the small of my back as I attempted to interpret phrases that I eventually took to mean "...would you like this fish scaled and gutted?" and "...how will you be preparing this fish?" I think I did pretty well even though everything in Swiss-Germn pretty much sounds like "...squoli squonk" to me! To make matters worse, the lady had bad teeth, and...I couldn't stop staring at them. VERY distracting! There out to be some kind of law against that!

All was well in the end, however. I walked out of the store with:

...a nice whole Wolfsbarsch (wild sea bass, line-caught, and from Cornwall)

...instructions ("Squoli squonk!") to cook it on the grill in foil (to which I decided to add a Mirepoix sprinkled with some dry vermouth...or maybe a little Pernod depending on my mood), and...

...a rather unsightly sweat stain on the back of my shirt.

Friday Flashback: Long Live The King!

Since the celebration of King's 20th birthday took place this past week, I thought I'd scan and post a couple of pictures to show how long the beast has actually been in our midst.

These pictures were taken in early 1991 when King was about three years old and Mrs. TBF and I were both twenty-something. Yes I still had (some) hair, and I look quite a bit younger. Of course, Mrs. TBF hasn't changed a bit (except for losing the John Lennon glasses and the 80s Benetton shirt)! King? He's a shadow of his former self; probably about five pounds lighter now than he was back then.

These pictures were taken 17 years ago. WOW!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm Schwitzen He'e...

I'm not really sure why, but I sweat like a freakin' pig whenever I am put in a situation where I have to speak German...and, spend money...but that's a different story altogether. It's probably due to nerves, but should I still be nervous about speaking German after having lived here for 7+ years? I don't think so. But hey...whatever!

Today was Day 2 of bathroom ceiling repairs. Yesterday, the guy who scraped the old plaster off the ceilings (without a protective mask, mind you) spoke perfect English. We talked a bit while he worked, and it was all in English.

No sweat...

This morning at 8:00 a.m., a different guy came in to apply a new coat of plaster. This guy spoke no English. No, correct that... He said "hoppy bertday" to King, so he knows at least two words. I also spoke with today's worker in short bursts while he worked, but the conversations were completely in German.

Today? Sweat...LOTS of sweat.

At one point, I looked down and I was both horrified and amused to find that I had the classic OMS (I call it "old man sweat" for various reasons) just under the "moobs". I immediately pretended that I had to do something in the kitchen where I proceeded to wipe myself down with a paper towel and let the shirt dry a bit. A little bit later it was the same thing: speaking in German, OMS, kitchen excuse, and paper towel. However, this time I went to the bedroom and changed into a white t-shirt.

Note to self: Wear a white shirt when facing German speaking situations.

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

King is 20 years old today....we think.

In truth, we really don't know how old he is, but the vet estimated that he was 2.5 years old when we adopted him (for $30) way back in November of 1990. Since the estimate made May his birth month, we decided that we would celebrate his birthday on the same day as our dog's (R.I.P.!) birthday - May 14th.

How's his majesty celebrating this momentous occasion? Well, the same way that any 98 year old human would celebrate: eating, drinking, sleeping, obsessing over the next bowel movement, and pretty much complaining about anything and everything to the point that the aggravation causes premature aging in all others sharing the same household.

Seriously though...

Despite his bitchin', he's been a great part of our household; a real character. But I have one question:

How much longer can this beast live?

The answer for the past few years has been the same answer as "...how much longer will you live in Switzerland?": a couple more years. However, I'm pretty certain that the old bag of bones doesn't have two years left in him.

Does anybody care to make a prediction? Maybe I'll start a pool.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back To Normal...


I feel as if I've had no routine for about a month. First, I was in Chicago for a week. Then, the bro-in-law and sis-in-law came for a two week visit, during which time we went to Italy. Yesterday was a holiday, and today was the day when everything was supposed to get back to normal, but...

...the workers showed up this morning to fix our bathroom ceilings.

We live on the top floor of a five-story building with a flat roof. Right after moving in, I noticed that the ceilings in two of the bathrooms didn't look quite right. Fortunately, I noted these problems on our "things-that-are-wrong-with-the-apartment" list. The management company came out to investigate and found that I was indeed correct: the ceilings in our bathroom were faulty. More specifically, the moisture barrier was failing and would have to be replaced. The lady from the management office said we could have it fixed (for free) whenever we wanted.

We decided to wait a bit (it ended up being three years) to see how bad of a problem it actually was. Recently, "we" (um...Mrs. TBF) decided we couldn't take it anymore, and I made an appointment to have the ceilings repaired.

Right now, as I type, a man is scraping away in one of our bathrooms. Our main bathroom is already in a state of rubble. The good news is that we have a third bathroom. The bad news is that it only has a bathtub with a hand-held shower, so Mrs. TBF is going to have to take a bath instead of a shower before work this week. It's really no big deal for me because I usually shower at the gym anyway.

King doesn't care one way or another. For him, it'll just be business as usual...

...tongue bath.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Refinding My Self-Discipline...

The bro-in-law and sis-in-law are on their way back to Chicago after their (nearly) two-week stay. We took a taxi with them to the airport this morning, saw them off, took the airport bus back to the train station, and then walked from the train station back to our apartment. And that was a good thing because...

...I'm needing the exercise!

Let's just say that I gained a couple...ahem...ok...pretty many pounds over the past three weeks. I guess that was to be expected after eating like a pig in Chicago for a week, coming home and eating like a pig at our Cinco de Mayo party, followed by eating like a pig in Italy for five days, and then coming home and eating like a pig for a few days after that.

Notice a pattern there?

Also, I only managed to pull myself out of the pig pen and to the gym a couple of times between feedings over the past month. Hmmm...

Eating like a pig and not exercising causes one to gain weight? WHO KNEW????

I've already been to the gym a couple of times this week, but today it's back to counting points.

...and not a moment too soon!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Arrivederci, Venice...

It's the final countdown.

We'll be checking out of our hotel in about a half hour. Then, we'll grab one last gelato before taking a water taxi back to the train station. I think our train leaves Venice at 2:50 (..better double check!); 2.5 hours to Milan, switch, then about a zillion hours to Basel. Our arrival time in Basel? Something like 10:30 p.m. Aaargh! I'm sure I'll be roped into at least a couple of games of Travel Scrabble.

Venice was good; not great. I'm glad we came, but I wouldn't return. Been there...done that!

We were here for four nights, and I'm thinking that three would have been enough - maybe even two. Perhaps it's just me, but I prefer to leave a place wishing I had more time left rather than thinking I'd stayed too long. We did all of the major things that tourists do and ate some decent food. Our hotel was slightly disappointing (which we'll note on our comment card), and I found the city a bit claustrophobic, but...I guess that's part of the charm.

Although I've enjoyed being by the (stinky) water, I've had my fill of the crumbling buildings and infrastructure. I think I'm ready to get back to clean and safe Switzerland.

Oh...my...God! Did I just say that???

Thursday, May 01, 2008

With Her People...

I snapped this picture of Mrs. TBF this morning standing next to the Grand Canal. With her Italian handbag, Italian sunglasses, Italian top, Italian shoes, and...well...100% Italian-ness, I think she fits right in with "her people".

I - even though I was wearing Italian shoes - stick out like a sore thumb.

Greasing The Pipes...

The bro-in-law was very excited about the fact that prunes were offered on our hotel's breakfast buffet. I think he even said something to the effect of: "God bless prunes!"

I, on the other hand, found the little, round, Italian breakfast sausages to have a similar medicinal effect. Yes...I believe I ate TWELVE of them.

Perhaps I'll cut back a bit tomorrow morning...

Let's Catch Up...

I spent eight days in Chicago visiting friends (including one who was in the hospital), family (including my parents who were on their way back to Canada from Florida), overeating, shopping, etc.

Back in Basel on a Thursday...and an early Cinco de Mayo party on a Saturday. My bro-in-law and sis-in-law arrived from Chicago on Saturday evening at about 5:30. Our party began at 7:30. They had hardly slept during their flights. They ended up going to bed at about 2:30 a.m. Aren't we mean?

Two days ago, the four of us left for Italy. We took the train to Milan, and we spent one night there. Yesterday, we took the train from Milan to Venice. This is the view from our hotel room. We've been here one night. So far, so good. I'll let you know how things go.

There...all caught up!