Sunday, September 30, 2012

Euro 2012 - England/Spain Part 4 - On to England

Travel day on to England.  Traveling with a one year old means getting up way early and getting to the airport very early as well.  The benefit of this is we do not run into any sort of lines checking in or going through security.  At Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport there is a good kids play area where #3 and Glo take 3.1 to work of some energy.  

 Feeding 3.1 at Schipol
 3.1 is very good on the plane. We arrive at Gatwick airport, walk a long ass way to finally get through passport control and get our bags.  The bag trolleys are the best I’ve run across.  I was tempted to challenge #3 to racing them down the halls but there were too many people around.

Evidently no trip through Gatwick is complete without stocking up on food from the Marks and Spencer Simply Food shop.

We are renting a Ford S-Max which is a pretty good sized vehicle and we are able amazingly enough to get all of our bags in.  
Ford S-Max - Official Car of the #3-de-I Family Vacation
Call us Ford for our endorsement

 3A has some issues getting 3.1’s car seat in so #3, Glo and I play a long game of “Let 3.1 runaround in the parking garage but keep her out of the traffic”.   

Finally the car seat is in and it is off the West Country (Wessex) and the traditional multi-hour traffic jam on a British motorway.  Instead of taking us 40 minutes, it takes us 2 hours and 40 minutes.   

 Traditional English Motorway Back-up
We need to stop at a highway rest area to get something to eat and let 3.1 get some exercise.  This is our first chance to have a Cornish Pasty (a savory filled pastry.  

Typical Wessex countryside according to 3A

 Finally we get to the town of Avebury. 

 This is like the Stonehenge, town with a huge Neolithic rock circle.  The rocks are smaller but the circle is much larger.  It is part of similar Neolithic sites in the general area from around 3000 to 2500 BC.   

Part of Mighty Ring 'O' Neolithic Rocks

There is also some medieval buildings there as well.   

3.1 is really tired but #3 is in her “let the baby suck it up” mode (that trades off rather regularly with her “oh poor baby” mode) so off we go.  3.1 is pretty unhappy about things but quiets down and falls asleep in the carrier.  

"Suck it up kiddo.  My parents (your grandparents) forced me to spend two weeks in Luxembourg when I was 4 months old.  You're already 1.  This is a piece of cake."

We then head on to our bed and breakfast just outside Bradford-on-Avon, a really lovely place picked out by 3A.  It only has two bedrooms so we have the place to ourselves.  There is a pub just down the street (as we are in the country) so we go there for a quick dinner.  They are very baby friendly and the hostess behind the bar used to live in LA, and has friends who live in Albuquerque just miles from us.  It was quite enjoyable.  We head back and crash for the night.

Tea at the B & B

Friday, September 28, 2012

Euro 2012 - England/Spain Part 3 - Quiet Day Before On The Road Again

A pretty relaxed day, this our last in Amsterdam.  Munchkin again took a long nap starting late in the morning through around 1 PM.  The afternoon was spent walking around looking for some shopping items and generally just walking around the city.  Street food is still the sin quo non for us her with more herring, Turkish pizza, and frites.  Unfortunately we were a couple of days too soon to get olliebollen (fried bread balls with powdered sugar).  We actually saw them unloading the trailer for them last night on the way home from dinner but they were not set up for operation yet today.  We stopped at a café that specializes in being child friendly so Munchkin could get some playing under her belt.  Then it was back to the flat to pack, have dinner and get ready for our flight to England tomorrow.


At #3's favorite coffee place the barrista prides himself on his designs in the latte's including one for the Munchkin's benefit (though she's not a coffee drinker :)

Sadly no Olliebollen :(

And the obligatory Amsterdam canal shot!

Euro 2012 - England-Spain Part 2 - Enjoying Amsterdam

We’ve been to Amsterdam enough visiting #3 that we no longer look at it as a tourist destination.  When we’re there we’re visiting and we get into a pattern of things that #3 and 3A have taught us are the enjoyments of living in that city.  Primary among those are the fact that it is a pretty small, compact place that is very flat, making it a very easy place to bike or walk.  We don’t bike so it is walking for use.  In fact unless you are going a pretty long distance or the ever present rain gets heavier than the consistent drizzle, walking is way quicker.  Plus, Wife and I like walking because we’re usually eating much more than usual and it helps keep off the pounds when we’re there. 

Today, 3.1 took a long nap in the late morning (as did Wife, they seem to be on similar schedules).  So we didn’t get out until around 1:30.  We then walked about a half an hour to the Albert Cuyp open air market.  The day before we had gone out for a little walk too and I picked up a European style mid-length jacket with hood that is much more appropriate for the kind of on again off again rain they have here.  Today I picked a new silk scarf to replace one I got here a few years ago that is getting very frayed.  We were just eye shopping except for some obligatory street food – frites are a requirement, along with my herring fix and Wife’s waffle with chocolate drizzled over the top (the latter was much better than I thought it would be as it was very chocolaty and not that sweet). 

Wife and I hung out in a café while #3 and 3.1 inspected a new daycare place.  Back to the flat where #3 had arranged for a babysitter allowing the four adults to go out for dinner where we enjoyed a typical Dutch service experience (really slow).  As a result we ended up drinking a second bottle of wine which probably wasn’t necessary but the 30 minute walk back home helped overcome the effects.


To the Albert Cuyp Market:

 There's always neat things to see when you're walking in town

  First stop - Got to get my herring fix :)


 Wife - "What do you think Muchy, how about some frites?"
Munchkin - "Sure Grandma, Mom never let's me have those."


 Hmmmmm Frites


Oh right we're suppose to be sharing these with #3 and Munchkin


 OK Munchy I suppose your folks don't want you to have beer either.


The On-going Love Affair of Munchkin and Grandma

I'm serious, the little one has just taken to her Grandma from practically the time she set foot in the flat.


A beautiful shot on our way to dinner
 You think this is just another cute grandchild shot.
I was actually eating breakfast as she was totally intent on my sharing it and using here best feminine wiles to get some :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EURO 2012 - England/Spain Part 1 - Close Encounters of the Munchkin Kind

Our flight across the pond was uneventful.  Planes were on time.  We enjoyed our upgrade to business class.  United has improved the food in business class from the last time we flew over.  Once we got to Amsterdam we had a bit of unpleasantness associated with getting money from an ATM.

Wife is really meticulous about calling each credit card companies whenever we travel overseas to make sure we don't have any problems.  So after we get our bags I go to an ATM to get some Euros and the machine says the transaction is blocked and their holding my card.  We now have 40 minutes of talking to the local bank (we can't do anything. Call the credit card issuer), calling the issuing bank (Citibank) who in spite of numerous explanations can't figure out we're not in the US, who then put us over to the security department.  They tell us that our account had a security block on it (which is the opposite of what Wife asked them to do) and there is nothing they can do to get us a new card.  So here is is this international banking organization that has no mechanism for assisting you if they screw up and you are stuck overseas without a card.  If anyone knows good site to vent on, let me know.

Fortunately we always have back ups and we got our Euros, got our cab and headed over to #3's flat.  Lovely to see the daughter again and meet up with 3.1 aka Munchkin for more than 8 months.  It's tough when you have your kids all over the world.

Wife and Munchkin Reacquaint - Sorry for the bad back lighting but it's tough with the big windows in their flat.

Then it was off to the market to get some provisions

#3 went out to interview a new daycare while Wife and Munchkin get to some serious bonding

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

EURO 2012 - England/Spain Through Munchkin Glasses - Part 1

Wife and I are now through security and waiting at the Albuquerque International Sunport for our first flight to Chicago and then on to Amsterdam. 

This trip represents a significant milestone.  Not that we are taking a trip per se but the nature of the length of the trip and how it fits in with my overall business transition from full time hard growing business person to one who will be looking to do less and have more time for myself.

I have organized my transition into three phases.  Phase one has taken place.  That has been stopping trying to grow, getting the same or more income with less work, and taking at least one big trip a year with no effect on my business. 

This trip will be three weeks.  Be the longest we've taken with the exception of our trip to New Zealand.  And unlike any other trip, I have to say I have my business affairs in complete order.  In fact I had most of the important work done days before I left.  It was so weird.  I can remember the last few trips where I've been working right onto and during my first flights out of town.  In fact I'm so used to that mode, that I was all hyped up yesterday in spite of the fact that pretty much everything was done.

So I'm pretty proud that I've accomplished what I set out to and looking forward to just having a good time.

ON A TRIP! in going places, doing things, not some namby pamby vacation sitting around twiddling your thumbs waiting for the pool dude (or dudette) to bring you your drink.  And in true de-I and Wife fashion, we're taking our trip experience up yet another notch because we will be doing most of our traveling with the #3 family including husband 3A the Brit and granddaughter 3.1 - 1 year-old Munchkin.

Recently the daughter posted about how their travel life had changed with the highly mobile and opinionated 1 year-old.   In particular she noted:
  • 1 year-olds don't like to be held down and therefore do not take kindly to the airplane take off instructions to be seated causing fuss and embarrassment for the parents.
  • Getting the car seat into the rental car required lots of extra time - much more that would be expected
  • Letting said 1 year-old toddle around the airport waiting for the flight was a sure way to get plenty of smiles from those around you.
 My take on this is as follows:
  • Wife and I should sit far away from the #3's when we fly and should look at our neighbors and shake our heads with disdain when we hear the wails from 3.1 in the back of the plane
  • Bring plenty of reading material to keep ourselves amused while #3 and 3A try to figure out the car seat installation.
  • Take Munchkin out for toddles in the airport as she will be a surefire chick magnet.

Any way we are off to the airport in an hour.  We fly to Amsterdam to acclimatize with #3's especially Munchkin.  Then it is off to England and then on to Spain.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Gardent - 2012 Report

Wife undertook a massive expansion of the types of produce attempted this year.  It was a tough year.  Like so much of the country it has been much hotter than normal (sure glad the global warming is just a figment of our imagination).  So lots of the plants suffered.  We also had an aphid infestation which did a number on lots of things.  That being said all in all it was a pretty good season and we enjoyed the fruits of Wife's labors in my cooking.

On this year's growing list were:

Collard greens
Mustard Greens
Turnip Greens and the attending turnips (more on that later)
Nuclear Chard (more later)
Brussels Sprouts
Bok Choy
Sugar Snap Peas
New Mexico Green Chile
Serrano Chile
Yellow Squash

Here is how it all turned out:

The Greens - In general the greens did well.  She planted them early and during the cool months we really enjoyed the mustard and turnip greens in our salad.  The Collards and Kale did well too.  When the heat hit they all pretty much bolted (went to seed).  But Wife cut them back and as it cooled down they all bounced back.  The Turnip Greens produced turnips (who would have thunk?)  But we didn't recognize that in time and they went too far.  I call the Chard, Nuclear Chard because I'm sure the original seeds were irradiated at Los Alamos Labs.  They're supposed to be an annual.  They've lived through two abnormally cold winters now and through going to seed and being totally cut back this summer.  While the Kale and Collards grew well, I wasn't happy cooking with them.  They take a long time (in my opinion) to become edible which doesn't fit into my daily cooking habits.

Brussels Sprouts, Bok Choy - These basically never did anything other than go to seed.

Cucumbers - Died

Sugar Snap Peas - These did incredibly well.  They are supposed to be very cold weather plants.  But ours continued to produce well into the very hot months.  Maybe they come from Los Alamos too.

Chiles - Mostly died.  Had a couple of plants produce.  This was very disappointing as chile is usually one of our best producers.

Squash - All the squash did pretty good.  The crookneck yellow squash didn't taste very good but the regular yellow and zucchini were great.  We has some kind of borer that killed part of the plants.  This was a good thing as for once we had only about as much squash as we could use and not enough for shipping to Manila.

Kohlrabi, Beets, Carrots - Wife grew these all from seed and they turned out fantastic.  The kohlrabi and beets were so sweet.  We keep the carrots in the ground and use them through the cold months.

Peaches - Wrote about those earlier.  They were great and we have bunches in the freezer

Raspberries and Blackberries - These continue to do  well.  We've had tons of raspberries during the last part of the season.  The blackberries didn't produce as much but were very tasty and produced over a long period.

Tomatoes - Most years we get lots of leaves and not so many tomatoes.  This year the plants looked sad all year put they produced a very good crop for the plant size and they were very tasty.

Melons - I'm not sure why Wife does these.  We get one or two microscopic little melons.

All in all although Wife was frustrated with the heat damage and the pests, we were able to get a lot of good eating out of our garden this year.  So thanks for all the hard, hard work sweetie :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sorry for the Long Silence But Promise Much to Come

Things have been crazy busy with work for the last few weeks.  This is a very good thing as business has been picking up and going strong.  Plus I've been preparing for big events that have blogging implications but which I will be keeping everyone in the dark (accept for the majority of readers who I talk to all the time and know anyway).  But for you 5 or 6 who don't know, prepare for lots of posts!

Also I've been meaning to make a detailed report of the gardening season which I hope to do this weekend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pre-Screen Heaven

There are certain things in life that tell me that I've been a road warrior probably for too long a period in life.

You may remember Wife and I took a short trip (not a short vacation, a short trip) to get our Global Entry approved with Immigration so we can expedite our entry back in country for our trips abroad. 

When I did this I got an invitation through United Airlines to be enrolled in the TSA Pre program.  This is a program where they do background checks on you and if approved you get to go through a special security lane.  It's only at certain airports and you have to be part of an airline frequent flyer program.  I went ahead, applied and was accepted.

Today was the first time I was going through an airport that had it.


I walked up.  They scanned the bar code on my ticket.  I was allowed through to this line with NOBODY in it while even the Premier Frequent Flier line was backed up.  I go in.

Don't have to take off my shoes!

Don't have to take out my back of fluids!

Don't have to take out my electronics!

Don't have empty my pockets other than metal!

It was as if I just walked right to the gate with no security!

I was exhilarated.  I was humming and smiling.

That's when I said, "You fly too much".

Thursday, September 6, 2012


In Santa Fe there is the hole in the wall restaurant called the Pupuseria y Restaurant Salvadorno.

I've driven by this place but since most of my meals in Santa Fe are business related, I could never get any one to join me.  But this week I had a break in my schedule up there with no lunch appointments so I decided to go.  My brother in Washington DC area had told me about pupusas, an El Salvadoran dish, years and years ago.  But, until I saw the place in Santa Fe, I never knew a place that had them here.

I go in and the place is deserted.  I'm thinking either the food is going to be totally made to order or I'm dying of food poisoning.  Fortunately it was the former.

 I had a Horchata which is a sweetened rice water drink.  Pretty good.

Looked like house made chips and salsa

 And then the pupusas

These are masa cakes that have a filling put inside that are then pressed thin and grilled on a flat top
I had a chorizo and cheese and a spinach and cheese one (the waitress telling me two were about the normal order)

They come with this mildly pickled cabbage on the side which is nice because of the richness of the pupusas and a sauce (the red squeeze tube to the left) that surprisingly was hot (temperature hot) but not that spicy.

And I found they actually have locations in Albuquerque!
(The Bridge Street location must be smaller since they didn't capitalize the street name)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Laboring Day

No I'm not giving birth but I am working.  Isn't that what Labor Day is about, that we should all be laboring?  I'm sure under the new regime after the election that will certainly become the definition.  But enough ranting (though I really, really really do enjoy much less effort required than actually doing something about things).

There is actually method to my madness rather than simply the manifestation of my Type A personality.  That is because Mr. de-I and Mrs. de-I have another of our mega-trips scheduled to start on Sept 25.  In the meantime I need to get the requisite work done to insure income and business continuity.  I will gladly trade a 3 day weekend for a 3 week trip!

(Please note I do not use the word "vacation".  I was told by Agent W in no uncertain terms that Wife and I do not vacation.  We go on trips.  According to the AgentWclopedia a "vacation" implies sitting around most of the day preferably near some water like and ocean or a pool.  Whereas a "trip" where one is allowed, nay even encouraged, to run around like crazy seeing and doing things.  Wife and I definitely do not "vacation".)