Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Make up your mind already...

For the past several nights, I've been waking up in a puddle of my own sweat. So, yesterday I decided it was time to take off our thick duvet and sleep with just a light cover sheet. What happened? It was significantly cooler last night and I woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning frozen solid to my bone marrow. Not caring about anything other than self-preservation at this point, I spooned Mrs. TBF while saying "...c-c-c-c-c-cold!!" You see, she had wisely anticipated the approaching coolness by going to sleep under a light duvet. I warmed up right away and fell into a blissful sleep.
At about 7:15 a.m. I emerged from my 2+ hour hibernation with a nice hot cup of coffee on my nightstand. Does Mrs. TBF take care of me, or what?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Eight pairs of shoes...

That's what Mrs. TBF had in her suitcase when she returned from the U.S. yesterday afternoon. Along with the shoes, she had a bunch of new clothes, three bathing suits, an iPod shuffle for me, two sleeves of tennis balls, and other stuff I'm not remembering right now. As I was loading her suitcases into the back of the Jeep at Basel Airport yesterday afternoon, she let out a quiet but demonic "...ha, Ha, HAAAAA!" because she knew that our streak of sneaking goods into Switzerland with a value way over the duty-free limit of 300 CHF was still intact.
After returning home, Mrs. TBF unpacked, showered, and then we enjoyed a nice meal AND FIRE on our rooftop (Is it rooftop, roof top, or roof-top? Help!). Yup, that's right...we had our first fire at our new apartment and it went without a hitch. We didn't start anything else on fire, and none of the neighbors complained. It was nice and relaxing fire, albeit a bit warm since the outdoor temperature was still in the upper 20s. I'm sure the Swiss neighbors thought we were nuts. Hey, but who cares?
After several days of heat and sunshine, today's cool and rainy weather is a welcome relief. Rammy and I went back to the nursery in Germany where I bought my BBQ last week. She bought a Weber patio fireplace and some plants for the garden. I just bought some garden plants. The plants are quite a bit cheaper, and the selection is much larger, in Germany than in Switzerland.
I just read what I wrote. God, it's boring. I think I'd better stop writing for now.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

My intentions were good...

I accomplished almost nothing on my "Things To Do List" yesterday. My plans were big, I tell you, but things got messed up right from the start. And...I'm not taking any of the blame.
I woke up at 10:15 a.m., and I figured that I'd have a couple of cups o' Joe and then get crackin' on that list (I'm sure my friend Dave in Chicago is in full cringe mode right now because of my spelling and grammar. He especially loves my use of "..."!).
At 10:35 a.m., while I was on my second cup of coffee, the phone rang. It was Andy, and he told me that he was going to pick me up in twenty minutes. "What are we going to do?", I asked. "We're going to pick up Sam (Andy's son) at the skate park, go have some lunch, and then go watch Sam's soccer game", was Andy's reply. Not remembering at this point that I even had a "Things To Do List", I told him that I'd be ready in twenty minutes.
When Andy arrived, I told him that I had to be home in time so that I could go to the dump by their closing time of 5:00 p.m. and drop off all the cardboard from my Weber grill and unload a bunch of garden clippings in their compost pile. After Andy gave me a "No problem!", I jumped into his car without a care in the world.
So, we did exactly what Andy said we were going to do. We picked Sam up at the skate park, went to McDonald's for lunch since we were a little pressed for time, and then we went to the Reinach soccer field. At this point, I discovered that Sam's game was actually about a half-hour drive from Reinach and that the Reinach soccer field was just a meeting point.
To make a long story short, we ended up going to Sam's game and Andy dropped me off at the apartment at...5:05 p.m. This means that I still have a huge garden bag full of clippings sitting in the roof top storage area and a pile of cardboard sitting in the foyer. Since the dump is only open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, I guess that means it'll have to wait a few more days.
But I figured that the day was still young and that I could still tackle a few items on my list. I called me neighbors - Corey and Suzanne - about storing some wine in their storage unit. It turns at that their storage unit is on level -2 in their building and our unit is on level 0 (that's the ground floor in Europe) in our building. Their unit stays nice and cool all summer and our unit is already getting to be too warm for storing wine. I brought some wine over to their unit, we took a few of their things over to our storage unit, they came upstairs to look at our new grill, I asked them if they wanted to have a drink, they invited me over for dinner (I brought my steak that I was defrosting and grilled it on their balcony), and I ended up getting home at 12:45 a.m.
Needless to say, not much was accomplished off of the "Things To Do List". Well, there's always tomorrow. Wait a minute...it's already "tomorrow" afternoon. Andy just called to see if I wanted to go to the pool. A Jehovah's Witness just rang my buzzer and asked if I wanted to talk about the problems facing the world today (I opted for literature in my mailbox)...No....NO....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I've got to get some things done around the house. Mrs. TBF arrives at Basel Airport in a little over two hours, and I have to at least create the illusion that I did SOMETHING while she was away.
The time is NOW!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Helmut is in the house!

I've decided to call my....I mean, our...new Weber grill - Helmut. I bought it in Germany, and I figured that Helmut is a damn fine German name. It was a toss up between Helmut and Horst, and Helmut won by a whisker.
I'm happy to report that Helmut has taken his spot on our balcony, and he's looking good. I'm sure the tenants in the apartment building across the river are staring in amazement, and that's fine. Let's just see how they feel when the wall of BBQ smoke wafts their way.
It took me about two hours to assemble Helmut even though the man at the store in Germany told me it would take about fifteen minutes. Now it's just a matter of getting rid of all this packing material. I have mountains of cardboard, so I guess I'll have to go to the dump tomorrow afternnon.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


I went over the border into Germany with our friend Rammy a couple of days ago, and I bought myself a "Vay-bah" (that's how you say Weber in German) gas grill. Now don't get me wrong, I love my Weber charcoal grill. But, Mrs. TBF and I just thought that it might be nice and convenient to have a gas grill on the balcony for quick use during the week. I'm still going to use the old kettle grill. As a matter of fact, I already had a little talk with the old grill on the roof garden and told him that he's still going to get a lot of use (I get kind of lonely when Mrs. TBF is out of town).
Anyhooo...Rammy and I drove over to Lorrach to this nursery/garden and patio furniture store called Schmitt, and checked out what they had to offer as far as grills go. As it turns out, they have a big Weber section with all sorts of grills to choose from. Rammy pointed out the grill that she had in mind for me to buy, and I ended up telling her that it was "...a grill for fags" (sorry...very politically incorrect!). I mean, this grill had probably enough capacity to BBQ a chicken breast - and that's about it. But let's not pick on Rammy - she's only about four-foot eleven and I'm sure she doesn't really quite understand the sheer volume of grilled flesh that it takes to feed TBF.
I ended up opting for the second largest of three in the Weber Genesis line. I blew by the low-end model because it just didn't offer enough in the way of BTUs as far as I was concerned. The second and third models are basically the same. The only difference is that the top model is completely made of stainless steel (and it's 600 Euros more expensive than the middle model). I kind of hemmed and hawed, and then I asked the salesman what he thought. He said that he would save the 600 Euros, and then put it into accessories.....SOLD!!! I walked out of there with the grill, a cast-iron searing plate, a grill brush, a nice cover, and a "free" grilling cookbook written in German that the salesman gave me "...so that you can practice your German!" All this set me back ONLY 1,117 Euros. I don't even want to think about how much less this stuff would cost in America.
They did have an incredible stainless steel grill that wasn't a Weber which cost something like 4,800 Euros. So see Mrs. TBF??? I could have bought that one instead which means that I saved us about 3,700 Euros. I'm always looking out for us!!!
The grill is still in the car. I'm going to take it out later today, assemble it in the garage, bring it up in the elevator, and then set it up on the balcony. Then begins the ordeal of trying to figure out where I can buy some propane around here. At the very latest, we should be up an grilling by early next week!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I know it's late...

...but I always have trouble sleeping when Mrs. TBF is out of town (she's in New Jersey). The fact that I took a nap from 4:30 p.m. to 5:55 p.m. isn't helping matters any either. I remember very clearly that it was 5:55 p.m. I woke up, looked at the clock, realized that my German conversation class was going to begin in twenty minutes, pulled my pants and shirt off of the top of the door, pulled them on fireman style, fed King, and ran out the door. I ended up only being about four minutes late for my class. There were only two of us in the class today, so it didn't really matter that I was late.
So now, zoom ahead several hours later, after speaking with Mrs. TBF at about midnight our time, I made the mistake of going to the iTunes sight to download some songs. I've started keeping a list of songs to download, and here is what I've downloaded tonight:

Tom Petty - Runnin' Down A Dream
Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends
The Who - Who Are You? (...can you tell that I watched CSI tonight??)
Lou Reed - Perfect Day
Coldplay - Trouble
'Til Tuesday - Voices Carry
I was going to download Bad Company - Feel Like Makin' Love, but they only had a live version and I want the original.

So far, I've downloaded about thirty songs from iTunes. I've held back because I want to get all our CDs onto the iPod before I go really crazy buying songs for iTunes. Our iPod currently has over 1,500 songs on it, and I've only loaded about a third of our CDs.
Mrs. TBF just informed me tonight that she bought an iPod Shuffle this afternoon for me to use at the gym. It only holds about 250 songs, but that should be plenty for working out. I've already begun a "TBF's Ultimate Workout" playlist for the gym. It's going to include a bunch of hard rock/heavy metal songs to get me pumped up for working out.
Man...it's almost 2:00 a.m. I've got to stop this insanity and go to bed. I have a lot to do tomorrow, and I won't get anything done if I'm sleeping in until 10:00 a.m.!

My brush with celebrity...

As you may recall, Mrs. TBF had a brush with celebrity a few weeks ago in Singapore when she ran into chef/author/T.V. personality Tony Bourdain. Today, I spotted a real-live celebrity in Basel.
After my German conversation class, I thought I'd walk over to Starbucks for a coffee. As I passed Mr. Pickwick's Pub - which is right next-door to Starbucks - I saw Nick Oliveri sitting at a table enjoying an al fresco pint with a couple of rock and roll looking dudes. Who is Nick Oliveri you ask? Why he's the previous bass player from Queens of the Stone Age, currently playing in Dwarves and Mondo Generator. I didn't talk to him, but I'm 100% certain it was him.
If you ask me, Nick Oliveri beats Tony Bourdain any day!

Amazing...but not surprising!

Here's something I just read in my "Reference.com On This Day" daily e-mail:

"In the last National Geographic Literacy Survey, about 11 percent of 18-to-24-year-old citizens of the U.S. could not even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean's location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent. More young U.S. citizens in the study knew that the island featured in the TV show "Survivor" wsa in the South Pacific than could find Israel. Each year thousands of schools in the U.S. participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography."

I think the contest also served to increase public awareness about the state of a lot of American schools.


That was what I weighed at the gym today...105.6 kilos. That's 233.3 lbs!!! That's the lightest I've been in ages. I guess that's what happens when you have the flu and can't eat normally for a few days.

They're really cute...

...but what the heck am I supposed to do with them? I'm talking about the mother duck and her three little baby ducks that are walking around our roof-top garden.
Last night, I went up to the roof to snip some chives, and this duck was sitting on the door mat right in front of the door leading out to the rooftop. It started quacking at me, and then I noticed three little baby ducks walking away from her. I have no clue where they came from. I had just trimmed some of the shrubs on the roof-top the day before, and I had seen no sign of a nest, eggs, ducks, etc.
My first instinct is to respect nature's natural selection and to not help them in any way at all. Afterall, if the mother is stupid enough to hatch them on our rooftop, then maybe that's nature's way of weeding out a dumb member of the species. However, I'm sure there's some Swiss law requiring me to save them - not to mention the fact that various neighbors in the tall building across the river are going to start ringing my doorbell to tell me about the ducks - so I feel compelled to do something.
Mrs. TBF said I should at least put out some water for them so they don't dehydrate. I actually came up with the rather dastardly idea of grilling up some duck breasts, cubing them up, and then putting them out to see if they eat it...at which point Mrs. TBF quickly pointed out that they're vegetarian (...how does she know all this stuff???)
What am I (Mrs. TBF is conveniently away on a business trip) going to do? Since there's no mention of "duck care" in our rental agreement, I'm going to tell Frau Fidi (the building super), and let her worry about it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Easy Jet to the rescue!

Mrs. TBF and I just finished booking a trip to Italy's Amalfi Coast for late August/early September. We had talked for several weeks about booking this vacation, and we made our final hotel/timing decisions this past weekend.
This morning, I checked flights on swiss.com and found that there was NOTHING available between Zurich and Naples during the last two weeks of August. Alitalia was an option, but Alitalia (at least for me) is never really an option - too many strikes and too many financial woes. Mrs. TBF called me from work, and we kind of began resigning ourselves to the fact that maybe it just wouldn't be happening. She was able to book the hotels, but we just weren't having any luck getting a flight.
Then, on a whim, I decided to check Easy Jet (one of Europe's low-cost airlines). I began checking flights from Basel to London to Naples, and then Mrs. TBF discovered that they now fly DIRECTLY FROM BASEL TO NAPLES!!! We had no idea! Now, we don't have to go to Zurich Airport...we don't have to make a connection...just a nice, direct flight out of Basel's no-hassle EuroAirport. And, the best part about it? It only costs us a total of 185 CHF for the round-trip flight...FOR BOTH OF US! That's about $150 U.S. for two people! We spent more than that on gas for the Jeep when we drove to and from Burgundy last weekend. It would have been about four-times more expensive on Alitalia, and probably even more on Swiss. How the heck do they do it? Well, I no it's no-frills and that we'll be herded into the plane like cattle. But, who cares? I can handle a couple of hours of discomfort just as long as they get us there and back safely.
We're going to Amalfi!!!

Enuff z'nuff! Or is it?

The lingering after-effects of my flu, and the crappy weather we've been having in Basel - ENOUGH ALREADY!
Fortunately, my health seems to be improving, AND I just looked at Basel's weather forecast and discovered that the weather is going to be making a dramatic improvement beginning tomorrow - maybe too much of a dramatic improvement.
By Wednesday, the temperature is going to soar into the low 30s (Bob: That's about 88 F. Bob's a friend from Chicago who complained about me exclusively using the metric system on the blog!), which means that we're going to go directly from cool and damp to hot and sticky. I like sunny and warm, but I'm not crazy about sunny and hot.
Hot weather in Basel is a real inconvenience for a heavy sweater such as yours truly. As you've probably heard me say many times before, air conditioning is basically non-existent in Switzerland. That means that when I go to my German conversation class and it's 35 degrees outside, I ride a tram that's about 40 degrees, arrive at the class all sweaty, and sit in a classroom for an hour that's about 38 degrees (Bob: that's about 100 F). I always bring a small dish towel so that I can mop the old chrome dome, and I also use a little fan that I bought in Spain. I know it's kind of gay, but nobody ever says anything to me. I think they see the heat-tormented look in my eyes and realize that any comment at all could result in their being checked-in to the Hotel Whupass!
Now, I don't mind sitting in a hot room if it's a sauna and sweating is the intended purpose. But, if the main reason for being in this hot room is anything other than sweating (i.e. learning, shopping, eating, sleeping, etc.), the "too hot" part distracts me by becoming my primary focus and causes me to become quite irritable (I'm sure Mrs. TBF is rolling her eyes up into her head right now after reading what amounts to the understatement of a lifetime!).
But hey...what can you do? I've lived here for almost five years now, and it gets hot every summer. So, I just make the best of it. When I'm at home, I pretty much live in shorts with no shirt and I sit in front of a fan. When I leave the house, I wear the lightest possible clothing and make sure to bring my dish towel and Spanish fan. We eat dinner out on the balcony and sleep with the windows wide open - plus I have a fan blowing on me about 30 cm (that's about 12 inches) away from my head.
I guess I can't complain too much. It wasn't really that long ago that I used to have to wear a shirt and tie when the weather in Chicago reached the 90s (there Bob...ya happy?), and the humidity would be about 88%. I'd make sales calls, and one of my customers would inevitably choose this specific day to give me a tour of their cutting-edge blast furnace, or something of that ilk, that would result in me sweating out about one-third of my body weight in five minutes only to be absorbed completely by my t-shirt and white dress-shirt. Naturally, this would be the first call of the day, and then I'd hop in my company car, blast the air conditioning, and emerge about fifteen minutes later with a nearly frozen shirt. This freeze/thaw cycle would last for a few hours until I couldn't take it any more , and then I'd just blow off the rest of my work day (usually right after having lunch with a customer) and go swim laps in the pool at my health club.
All this talk about heat is starting make me feel warm. I think I'll go set up the fans around the apartment. I'll be too sweaty if I wait until Wednesday to do it.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I didn't wake up until 4:30 p.m. today...

...because I have the flu. Actually, I got up several times starting at about 4:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom (I won't disgust you with the details).
I was just telling somebody last week that I escaped being sick all winter. As a matter of fact, I haven't been sick since October when I had a cold. I guess I jinxed myself.
I really feel terrible, and I'm kind of disappointed about not being able to go to my French lesson tonight - Mrs. TBF's going to go it alone.
I hadn't eaten all day, so I decided that I needed to get some food in my stomach. I opted for some water crackers, and I have to say that they definitely do not rank at the top of my list of favorite things to eat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I'm sorry I had to be the one to tell you this...

I just came home from my German conversation class, and I'm happy to report that I broke the news to my German teacher that....Europeans stink!!!
The topic today was "Man and Nature", and we somehow began talking about water conservation. The teacher asked if we thought it is an important issue, and both me and this Canadian lady in my class both took the position that it is important but the Swiss go overboard when it comes to water conservation. He kind of started talking about how Americans use so much more water than Europeans, and I felt the need to come back with an "...at least Americans and Canadians don't smell." He seemed shocked until the other three people in my class - Canadian, Thai, and Malaysian - sided with me. I said that I rarely smell body odor in America and Canada, but I smell it in Basel about every 15 seconds during the summer. The Thai woman chimed in with "...the Swiss stink!", and the Malaysian man followed with a "...worst body odor I've ever smelled in my life".
We assured the teacher that not everybody in Europe (including him) stinks, but he seemed a little taken aback. I hope I didn't ruin his evening. Better yet...I hope he tells one of his stinky friends, and they reassess their hygiene regimen.

Weekend in Burgundy.

A bunch of us (eight adults and five children) took a road trip to Burgundy this weekend. It's about a three-hour, fairly easy (when you can just follow somebody who knows where they're going) drive from Basel to Burgundy. We left on Saturday morning at about 8:30, drove through bad weather via Geneva, and arrived in Fuisse (of Pouilly-Fuisse fame) for a late lunch.
Now I know I've said this many times before, but the French know how to eat! As far as I can tell, they pay absolutely no heed to calories, cholesterol, temperance, etc. - which is all well and good as far as I'm concerned.
Among the things I ate this past weekend: snails, pigs' feet, frogs' legs, goose liver, tete de veau (translation: face of the calf/veal...which is basically the calf's cheek-meat wrapped around various sweetbreads), cheeses with various mold forms that have yet to be identified by man, and wine...Wine....WINE!!!!
When you go to a cave in Burgundy, the wine just keeps flowing. We sniffed, swirled, swished, sucked, gargled, slurped, tasted, bought...and then just hopped into our cars and drove off to the next place to do it all over again. Then, we'd stop for our three-hour lunch, waddle out of the restaurant, and slog along through endless miles of vineyards to the next cave where we'd start the process all over again.
We'd arrive at our hotel during the late afternoon or early evening where I'd proceed to take about a 60 to 90-minute nap. I'd wake up still feeling pretty full, and then it'd be time to go eat our four-hour dinner. I'm not joking. The dinners are multiple courses, and the food and wine just keeps on coming. The highlight for me was always the plateau de fromage. On Saturday night, the cheese board was basically one of those things that the eunuchs would carry Cleopatra on. But, instead of being made of gold and supporting Cleopatra, it was made of wood and had about twenty different cheeses on it. Oh...and the waiters... weren't eunuchs.
Kudos and thanks go to our friend Rammy for pretty much arranging the entire trip for all of us. Also, thanks to John (maybe his real name...maybe not) "the international wine and art smuggler" who led certain unmentioned people back into Switzerland via an unmanned border crossing (imagine that U.S. Department of Homeland Security) so that "they" wouldn't have to pay any duty on said purchases.
The weekend is all pretty much a blur of tastes, smells, and scenery. And, I'm looking forward to doing it again....SOON! But, for now I'm going to really have to hit the gym hard this week. I'm feeling a bit bloated and sluggish (maybe due to my lingering cold), and I think I need exercise, a sauna....and maybe a good dose of vegetables!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I finally took a "bite" out of my new Apple Powerbook with the 17" screen. It's easy, it's great, and I'm already hooked. Plus, I finally set up the iPod I bought last November. I went to iTunes, set up an account, and proceeded to download my first two songs.
What are they, you ask? Why, they're Radar Love and Twilight Zone by Golden Earring, of course. I don't really know why I say "of course". The reason I downloaded these two particular songs was because I wanted to see if I could find something that was relatively old and somewhat obsure. These two songs fit the bill, and it took me about 5 seconds to find them.
Now, I'm basking in "classic rock nirvana"! First I'm going to load all our CDs into the iPod, and then I'm going to go about downloading a bunch of songs that I don't have on CD so that I can set up the ultimate classic rock play list.

It never fails...

Whenever Mrs. TBF is out of town on business, somebody decides to call me at 7:00 a.m.!!!
Mrs. TBF is in New York for a couple of days, and this morning - the phone rang at about...7:00 a.m.!!! We don't keep a phone in our bedroom, so I might have been dreaming. However, I'm about 99% sure that it was actually ringing.
I ended up getting out of bed, went to the office, and checked the call log on the phone because I thought that maybe it was Mrs. TBF calling me at 1:00 a.m. in NYC. For some reason, there was no number under the "answered" or "unanswered" calls which means that the person decided to hang up before the answering machine picked up the call (or, our phone's not working properly).
Now, I'm not mad or anything....but, please don't call our house this early in the morning unless it's an emergency because I really need my eight hours. And, if you do call us and we don't answer the phone....LEAVE A MESSAGE!

7:00 a.m. phantom caller...IDENTIFY YOURSELF!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Is it wrong...

...that I look forward to receiving my Migros Magazin (Migros is a grocery store chain here in Switzerland) in my mailbox every Tuesday?
I couldn't care less about what's on sale. Afterall, I prefer shopping at Coop. What I really look forward to reading is the "Single der Woche" (single of the week) page.
Do I have fun, or what?

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm going to Kauhava!

My dad was born in Kauhava, Finland, and that's where I'll be going at the end of June. My dad's going to be in Finland for a month, so Mrs. TBF and I are going to meet up with him in Helsinki on June 24th. Mrs. TBF's going to stay in Helsinki for the weekend before heading back to Switzerland, and then I'm going to head up to northern Finland to spend a week with my relatives (I have many...my dad is one of 16 children!).
Mrs. TBF and I were in Helsinki in 2002 for a long weekend, but I haven't been in Kauhava since 1985 - and before that it was in 1966. When I was there for a family reunion in 1985, I remember promising a couple of my aunts that it would absolutely not be 19 years until my next visit. I'm happy to report that I'm keeping my word - it's been 20 years!!!
I'm really looking forward to this trip. First of all, Mrs. TBF and I really enjoyed our trip to Helsinki in 2002, and this trip should be extra fun because it will be during the Juhanus celebration. Juhanus is when the Finn's celebrate the summer solstice.
In Helsinki, it'll be no darker than dusk at any point during the night, and I think the sun won't even set in Kauhava (or if it does, it'll just be for a very short time). I remember waking up at about 2:30 a.m. when I was in Kauhava during July, 1985 and the sun was shining brightly through the bedroom window. It's pretty strange. You're dead tired, but you feel like you should be getting out of bed.
I'm also looking forward to seeing relatives that I haven't seen for twenty years, and...I'm really looking forward to practicing my Finnish over the ten days I'll be in Finland. It's pretty amazing how quickly the language skills deteriorate when you don't use them. It'll take me about a day to really get going again, but I expect the Finnish to be pretty good by the time I come back to Switzerland.
Of course, by then I'll have forgotten all my German and French which means I'll be struggling/confused in multiple languages. Trés bien und sehr gut!

Another year....another Cinqo de Mayo Party!

This past Saturday night, we had what I would consider our best Cinqo de Mayo Party since we moved to Switzerland. We had about 25 guests, Mrs. TBF's food was great, and the drinks flowed freely. The only thing that wasn't good about it was the weather. But, that's pretty normal for our Swiss Cinqo de Mayo parties. The weather kept us from using the rooftop garden, but it probably also kept us from disturbing the neighbors which, in turn, probably kept the police from showing up at our door.
I think what made this party especially fun for us was the fact that we had a very mixed group of people. Previous CdM parties were pretty much neighborhood soirées (...French lesson later today!), but our guests at this party were made up of old neighbors, some of Mrs. TBF's co-workers, people we know from outside of our old neighborhood, and even some out-of-towners.
The most common question I heard throughout the night was a slightly slurred "....what the Hell do you put in these things?!?!?" (referring to my Margaritas). This was usually followed some time later by an even more slurred "....I need your recilpe flo sleez Mergrititaaas!" So, here it is:
Mix equal parts of Tequila, Grand Marnier, and Rose's Lime Juice.
Wet the rim of a glass with lime juice.
Roll the rim of the glass in crushed sea salt.
Put some ice in the glass.
Pour the concoction over the ice.
Squeeze a lime into the drink.
The recipe actually calls for 2 parts Tequila, 1 part Grand Marnier, and 1 part Rose's Lime Juice, but I think it's definitely strong enough (and tastier) if you use my recipe.
I also made my Mexican Iced Teas, but they weren't as popular this year as in year's past. Here's my recipe for M.I.T.s (they're basically Long Island Iced Teas with the addition of Triple Sec):
Mix equal parts of Gin, Rum, Tequila, Triple Sec, and Vodka and pour a shot or two into a glass over ice.
Squeeze a lemon wedge into the glass and drop in the lemon.
Top off the glass with Coke.
As for the M.I.T.s, you can just mix all the alcohol together and leave a bottle of it in the fridge so it's always ready for unexpected guests. Then you just pour a little into a glass over ice, squeeze in a lemon wedge, top of with Coke, and your guests are served in less than a minute.
I've been informed by some of my guests that they woke up with hangovers on Sunday morning. Sorry! I guess I should warn people that these drinks go down very easily, but that they really pack a punch.
Maybe next year I'll put a little warning label on each Margarita glass.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Will that be one lump....or two?

After enduring years of my nagging, Mrs. TBF finally gave in and made an appointment to go to the doctor for a check-up. I went for a physical last year, and ended up finding out that I needed a bunch of vaccinations. So, this morning was Mrs. TBF's turn.
I dropped off my better half at the Praxis Reinacherhof, and told her that I would be back in about thirty minutes after running a couple of errands. About forty minutes later, I walked into the waiting room to find Mrs. TBF sitting there with a glass of water and a big bump on her forehead. As it turns out, she went into the bathroom after her blood test, passed out, and hit her head on the floor/wall/something. Poor thing! Is it my fault? I'm the one who nagged her about going for a check-up.
We went back home, and she rested for a little while. Then, I drove her to work at about noon. I guess she's not feeling that bad if she was able to go to work.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Hey...We're speaking French!

Well...sort of. We had our first French lesson earlier this evening, and I have to say that we walked out of it feeling pretty excited. Of course, we're envisioning being fluent in about four weeks - which, of course, will just not be the case. The teacher told me that my French accent was very good (must be because I'm Canadian!), and she said that Mrs. TBF "...has just a bit of an American accent." HA!!! Stinkin' American...PFUI!
We rode home on the tram after our lesson, and naturally Mrs. TBF had to ruin a perfectly good French-high by asking me when we should do our homework.
Stinkin' American....PFUI!!!

Burn baby...burn!

The weather in Basel was unbelievable this weekend with temperatures of about 30ºC and clear skies. And, I'm happy to report, that I received my first sunburn of 2005!

Our ex-neighbors Andy and Di have an annual birthday barbecue for their daughter Alie, and I ended up being the "grill master" once again this past Saturday evening. I guess it was a combination of the sun and the "sheen" on my skin from the heat of the grills causing a magnifying effect that resulted in my "famer's tan." The burn wasn't too bad, but the top of my head is a little sore. I'm sure the skin on my scalp will be peeling by the end of the week...always a pleasant sight.

We're looking forward to a good week. Mrs. TBF has a five-day weekend coming up since Ascension Thursday is a holiday here and Novartis is closed on Wednesday and Friday too. Also, we begin our French lessons tonight, and our Cinqo de Mayo Party is coming up on Saturday.

That reminds me, I better get going with the oiling of the teak patio furniture!