My new “Brony” Office

What happens when you leave your work for three weeks?

hmm…

Your office becomes a tribute to my little ponies and well you become 20% cooler. (a “Brony” thing… and I am embarrassed to admit that I know it)

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I got in early to work today… thinking I could get things done.  (Got home last night and I am on french time… so I went to work at 2:00 am).    This is what I found!…

Is ‘no’ an emotion because I feel it.
—  Limestone Pie

I thought I would share with you all of the hard work my co-workers accomplished while I was gone.

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Yes… that is a piñata and a mylar balloon… and we will come back to the “Whair” sign.   It is hard to see but even my white board was  edited… the pink writing… with “pony puns”

WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT ANGER? I DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT ANGER! I’M NOT UPSET! AND I’M NOT ANGRY! DO I LOOK ANGRY!?

—  Roxas
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Yes… so much to look at… so “hard” to be professional…
There is no wrong way to fantasize.
—  Princess Celestia from “Celestial Advice”
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They even changed out my pens and drinking glass…   and I was gifted a “Princess Celestia and Fluttershy” toy set… (I read that off the box… )… Please note the “hair” in the bag stating “for future ponies”….

Would a glow stick make you feel better?

—  Pinkie Pie, probably to Fluttershy
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Yes… I got a pony with real hair… actually I love this.   I am going to remove the tape and glue the hair on…   You can see behind it the “whair” hat I made

I think I got it… but just in case, tell me the whole thing again. I wasn’t listening.

—  Rainbow Dash

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Last of all back to the sign…   and yes that is human hair again.   What is “Whair”?  I made a wool hair hat…  (click this link if you are curious Weekend with Whair )… Honestly I do not know what to think about my new office decorations… it is awesome and creepy all at the same time.

What exactly is the function of a rubber duck?
—  Moondancer

I am left with one question… Whair is all of this hair coming from????

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I still have some final pictures from France I will be posting… I will try to do this when I catch up at work…

 

 

 

 

Strasbourg, France 2017

I would be amiss if I didn’t share some pictures of my wife’s home town… Strasbourg.   (Located in Alsace…  Just writing that makes me chuckle… pronounced “Al’s a**” ).  I am going to share some pictures taken while out walking.

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Thursday we dropped off the rental car and started our walk home.   On the way home we ended up at Flam’s.   Isabelle does not feel like we have really visited “Alsace” until we have eaten some “Tarte Flambe”.  This is one of the little “traditions” we have adopted since she left her home to come live with me.  (With that said… I did build a brick oven in our backyard so we could make these at home. They are delicious)

We all have our little “habitudes” when we get here. (Habitude→ Habit, Custom, Way) One of my “habitudes” is walking… lots of walking.  Because I wanted to spend time with the kids and wife…and because I think everyone should be like me…  I asked, begged, bribed and shamed the rest of the family into going out and walking with me.   (Isabelle wasn’t hard… the rest… well…)

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Here is yesterdays’ walking… 26 km (16 miles) over 4 and 1/2 hours.  If you look closely there is a McDonald’s stop.   This happened to be one of my bribes.  We invited Uncle Jack, Mami(Isabelle’s mother), Cousin Josh and Jarod and the children walked to and from McDonald’s which is about 6 km.

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Ben is missing… playing in the back with his “new friends”… while Isabelle was telling everyone how many calories they were eating.  (She is not a big fan of McDonalds)… I usually wont eat there either but ended up eating a hotdog.  (Didn’t know they had hotdogs at McDonalds and it wasn’t bad… well for McDonalds)

 

 

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Sam and Gwen in front of the colza (rapeseed) fields.

The two older children… Sam and Gwen…  decided to stay with me after McDonald’s and walk along the canal de la Bruche.  This is definitely one of my favorite walks.   Beautiful for miles and away from the noise and pollution of the city.   It is also a very easy walk since it is  paved and almost completely flat.

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I take a picture of this farm every year. (bet it is already in this blog…)  This is my dream home and it is right next to the canal trail… hmm someday.
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I only took this picture while walking on along the canal… and it is just after the canal.   (11 km later).   I think I was busy trying to get the kids to stop looking at their telephones.

The canal trail connects to a trail along the “Ill” river which leads into Strasbourg.   This is also a fantastic walk… and it leads to one of the more “picturesque” parts of Strasbourg.   This trail also happened at a fortunate time since the kids were starting to be bored with “nature” and were asking for something more “urban”… with pastries.  (Gwen doesn’t like McDonald’s and hadn’t eaten yet).

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Crossing this bridge (on the roof…) and taking pictures is also an every year tradition.  The feature and the following picture are taking from the top of this bridge.
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You can take some amazing photos from this view point… especially panoramic shots.  I have this picture in my bathroom… hmm  not sure why it is in my bathroom.
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Pont Couvert…   pretty awesome… Just after this bridge is Petit France, Strasbourg… One of the first things I saw when Isabelle brought me to her home town… I took the children on the very path she took me and of course… the kids didn’t care… jesh
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Entering Petit France… in front is a small bridge that swivels to let the boats pass.  I often stop and take a picture on this bridge.
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Here is a picture from that bridge.   I am looking the opposite way of the feature picture.
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Looking the opposite direction I can see the “locks” opening and letting a tourist boat through.  I once watched one of the gates get jammed by a log…  (when you have nothing to do… anything can be exciting)
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This is looking towards the bridge and you can see that it has swiveled open to let the tourist boat pass.
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Some of you may not know this but Johannes Gutenberg lived a good portion of his life in Strasbourg.
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Here is the cathedral of Strasbourg…  This was blown up in beginning part of one of the Sherlock Holmes film
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Another view of the cathedral and also one of the oldest buildings in Strasbourg the Maison Kammerzell.   Isabelle and I ate here with some close friends…   (Choucroute of course)

Sam and Gwen were real “troopers” for this walk. (saying that makes me feel so old)  I am not sure they enjoyed it like I did but they didn’t complain and Gwen got her “pain au chocolat”.

I will post one more time before I leave France.  I am starting to pack and getting that anxious feeling I always have just before I leave.  I wonder why leaving for home always makes me stressed…   I have been saving up some of my more strange (or if you know me typical) vacation pictures for the last post…  keep in touch I hope they don’t disappoint.

Paris France 2017

I would like to share a day last week when our family visited Paris! I know I might roll some eyes  by saying this (should I have said make some eyes roll?)… HERE GOES… by the end of this day I was completely sick of Paris… I think if I could have blindfolded myself and made it back to our hotel safely… I would have.  At the end of the day I didn’t want to hear… see… smell… touch anything that had to do with Paris.  I had become the “Paris Grinch”…  Paris… Bah humbug… (I should have hash-tagged that)

I do not think I have every felt this way because it is an amazing place and in the past I have always wished I could spend more time visiting things.   I think the kids drained all of my energy and all of my enthusiasm…  ya… I am going to blame them.

I have been quite busy and a little bit lazy when it comes to “blogging”… think that is the kids fault as well… so I am going to just share some pictures with very little commentary.

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What visit to Paris doesn’t include some RER and Metro time…  This time I let the kids try to figure out where we had to get off.   (I didn’t let them miss guess…)
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This is down in the metro… had to share this picture because it reminded me of a “cheesy” family musical…   you can just imagine the kids with mom spontaneously starting to sing with a choreographed dance up the escalator…   plus I almost fell on my butt since I was standing backwards and I was at end of the escalator…   (I think that is why you see the smiles)

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First site… some old metal tower…   It is really hard to get a “close-up” picture of Tour Eiffel that looks good.

 

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We took the stairs since it had a shorter ticket line…   The kids enjoyed the “hike”
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and.. well we didn’t mind (at least that is what we told ourselves)…  it is quite the walk
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I think this picture of Ben shows everyone how we felt about the view… and this is only the first level.
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Next boat tour on the Seine…
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You are guaranteed to see some amazing sites… plus you are sitting for an hour and the kids are trapped in a small limited area…
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Notre Dame…   several years back a kid… a very mean child… Said I looked like the hunch back of Notre Dame.
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And yes… nearly naked Parisians…

 

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Maybe a better picture of the Tour Eiffel?

 

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The bridges are truly amazing… hmmm   maybe a coffee table book?… nah… too pedestrian
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I thought the lines were horrible at the Tour Eiffel… this is the line for Versailles… and this is after you have spent time in line for the tickets.  We decided we were going to “forgo” this must see place… Gwen, my daughter, is still mad at me.
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Here we are at Notre Dame.   Way back in the late 80s I would buy a gyro on a baguette topped with fries and eat it here.  I did this quite often.  I started to remember this wonderful time in my life losing myself in nostalgia. I tried to share this “dad back in the day moment”.   Guess what…  the kids didn’t care 😦
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I love the old metro stops…  look closely at the glass lamps… love the orange-crimson glass against the blue green metal
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Next the Louvre… but before we enter…
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The kids had to stop at… as embarrassing as this is to admit… McDonalds.  (I tried to get them to eat a gyro by Notre Dame)
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Louvre entrance under the glass pyramid
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Like the 1000s of other tourist we had to ignore all of the other amazing art so we could hurry and find the Mona Lisa…  (I think the only painting my kids knew)
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I prefer this statue (Winged Victory of Samothrace… really stupid name) over the “Venus de Milo”…   I don’t think my kids know about either one…

 

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Many of these painting I am sure you have seen in books… but seeing them in all of their grandeur is amazing… My kids ran past this (The Coronation of Napoleon) on their way to the Mona Lisa

 

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The Louvre is amazing floor to ceiling…

 

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Here is my favorite ceiling… and sad to say I can’t remember what is on the walls…

 

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We couldn’t leave without spending time in Isabelle’s favorite part… the Egyptian section…

umm… I think that is a lot of pictures… I hope you enjoyed them.   (I can’t post anymore… I am getting that sick of Paris feeling again… maybe I developed some strange phobia)

My recommendation… take at least a week to visit Paris… don’t try to cram everything into one day.

 

 

 

 

Visit to the Paris, France Temple

One of the reasons we chose to visit France in April was to be able to visit the open house of the new Paris France Temple.   This is the first temple in France for my faith and in the past members would have to travel out of the country if they wanted to visit the temple… (i.e.   being married in the temple… this is the answer to many prayers here…).   I would like to share some pictures from our visit.

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The temple is located in Versailles actually right next to the castle of Versailles as you can see from the map.  The temple is very beautiful and I am not sure that my pictures can actually do it justice….   Here is a video I found on YouTube that shows the temple and it’s interior:

Is anyone else nervous when they take their children somewhere nice?  I was really nervous especially with Ben.   AND… well… Ben decided that he didn’t want to be with the rest of the family.   We called, pleaded, bribed but he moved to the front of the group… we were in the back (trying to not embarrass ourselves… we were in a VIP tour… and well we are not very “VIP”).  Ben oblivious to what others think insisted on standing as close to the guide as possible (sometimes embarrassingly close).  I kept waiting for him to do or say something out of place…but this is as far as his rebellion went. (fortunately… I had horrible visions of him breaking things or saying horribly inappropriate things during the tour).   At the end he gave the guide a huge hug… (kind of weird huh?… must get that from his mom)

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Here is a temple grounds map… I stole from another site.  The bottom of the map is the front… and the gardens are in the back.

I honestly loved this visit… (even with the “Ben stress”).  I have so many distraction in my life… it is nice to go somewhere that brings peace and enables me to take a step back and contemplate on what is really important… like my family and my personal spirituality.  The temple is always something very sacred and special to me… even if it is just touring a new one.

After the visit we took pictures around the temple in the gardens.  Interior pictures were not allowed (that is why I included the video).   In the visitors center there was a model of the temple that had the walls cut away.

I will share those pictures first:

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This is just inside of the gardens  looking at the side of the temple.  You can see one of my favorite parts… the spiral staircase under an incredibly beautiful stain glass ceiling.  (I think you can see this.. if not… the video does show it)
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If I remember correctly this is a view from the other side.  You can see the baptismal font at the bottom…  I think in the middle floor you are looking at the bridal room… and on the top you see the ordinance rooms.
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This is the from front of the temple.  You can see the main lobby.. (not sure that it is called that) and on the floor above the Celestial room.

I wished I could have taken pictures inside.   There are so many interesting details that make up this building… including details that serve as interesting religious metaphors.   A good example of this is found in the stain glass windows.   On the bottom floors the flowers are buds and as you move up towards the top floors they are in full bloom…  showing the potential of all men and women.   They also have two sets of doors when you enter the temple.   The outer doors are decorated with colorful stain glass depicting flowers while the inner doors have the same flowers but are in etched glass (white and clear)… this is meant to depict temporal and spiritual realms.  The stain glass is truly amazing and was done by an artist in Utah… (Isabelle has met him)

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This was taken from the visitors building… Don’t worry we are not breaking any rule here.
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Not a great picture but one that shows the “etched” glass… again this is in the visitors center.

Finally here are some of the garden pictures:

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That is all of my pictures…   If by chance you are in Paris… April 22 – May 13…  I would highly recommend a visit…. ( Public open house and you can reserve free tickets here ).  Once the temple is dedicated it will not be open to the general public.  (sorry)

Weekend with Dandelion “Honey” (Jelly)

I promised in the last post Friday at the Écomusée d’Alsace, that I would share a recipe.  I had to first try this recipe before I shared it with you and that is what I did this weekend.   Now that I have made it once, I am ready to share the recipe and it is kind of a weird one… it features dandelion flower petals…  Dandelion Jelly!

Here is some back story:

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While at the museum we noticed a young lady picking dandelions and when we visited the “home” she worked out we found out why she was picking them.  She was making a jelly out of the flowers.  She told us that her grandmother use to make this recipe and it was a great substitute for honey.  She put some on a piece of bread and asked us to taste..

Umm… YA… I am not a big “weed” eater… first I hesitated (offering it to the kids… who didn’t gag or spit it out…) next with a bit of skepticism I tasted this  “weed juice”.  I was instantly surprised with the taste.  It was eerily similar to honey… (that is the second time in a week I have has used the word eerily… maybe I should have stated uncannily… don’t want to be too repetitive).

I think all of you should give it a try… so here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams of dandelion flower pedals (just the yellow pedals)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 kg of sugar
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
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I grabbed this bottle of Gewurztraminer (that is hard to say) from my mother in-laws “stash”.  It is an “off-dry” wine instead of a “dry” wine but it seemed to have worked fine.

Steps:

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Step 1:  Pick the flowers.. make sure they are open… dry and not already sprayed with weed killer

Step 2:  Put the flowers  (entier… don’t pluck the yellow pedals yet) into vinegar water to wash and hopefully remove all of the bugs.

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Step 3:  Pluck all of the yellow pedals into a bowl.   I had more than 50 grams… I don’t think that the amount has to be that precise.

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Step 4:  Mix sugar, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white wine, and the juice of two lemons.   Heat mixture using a “low” heat… you don’t want to make caramel.

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Step 5:  Add dandelion pedals and let cook under low heat for 15 minutes.

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Step 6:  Pass through colander (to separate the liquid from the pedals… press the pedals to remove liquid).

Step 7:  In a new pot add 1 cup of water and the drained pedals and bring to a boil.  Pass through the same colander and add the new liquid to the previous liquid.

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Step 8:   Cook liquid (weed juice) for about 20 minutes… again under low heat.

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Step 9:  Place dandelion jelly into jars.

This is how it originally looked.   I thought the dandelion “honey” was to “liquid-y”…. so I cooked it for another hour until it became the consistency of thick honey.  It also darkened and I liked the flavor better… very much like honey.

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While this tastes like honey… I am not sure that it is as good for you as honey… In any case, It is fun to make.  Give it a try… great springtime recipe.

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Friday at the Écomusée d’Alsace

Today we visited a museum (Écomusée d’Alsace)…   the “largest living open-air museum in France” one that “shows an Alsatian village from the early 20th century. It illustrates what rural life was like in Alsace and invites visitors to find out about popular traditions and art of the region, including buildings and artefacts, craftsmen at work, temporary exhibitions, attractions and events both small and large.” —  I stole that from their site… (wanted to make sure all of you knew that all of a sudden I didn’t become a good writer)

I have wanted to visit this place for several years.   I love the idea of visiting the past and seeing how things were done when we were more “connected” to the world we live in.   My children were also changed by the visit… (I imagine the change wont last long… but at least for the moment they have a different view of the world)… Sam wants to be a farmer and a blacksmith, Gwen wants to be a potter, and Ben wants to be a basket weaver… (you always have one weird kid… I might have three)

If you ever visit Alsace this is a must see:   Here is a link

and…. Here are some pictures!

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My kids knew exactly what all of this was…   One said… (can’t remember who) don’t you have those carders?

 

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Even the children enjoyed walking through the homes and seeing how things were

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One of our favorite treats from Alsace – Tarte Flambee

 

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Ben was not sure of his newly found friend… (this friend was hoping to find dropped crumbs to eat)

 

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Notice all of the roofs with storks nesting… It wouldn’t be Alsace without them… (very noisy birds by the way)

That is all for now… I have a treat for all of you tomorrow.  I am going to share a recipe we tasted, loved, and learned in one of the homes there.   Ben and I are going to make it… and it will be a real surprise… kind of a weird surprise!!!

Please check back tomorrow!

 

 

Bubbles, Bugs, Markets and Crotte!

One of the great things about vacations is that you can spend the entire day doing stupid or weird things.  I really like doing stupid and weird things and I spent a good moment just watching bubbles.   I will talk more about them in a moment but before I do I want to present you with some random stuff from my walking.

The kids and I went for a walk… one of those walks where you end up going no where and it takes you hours to get there.  (vacation walks)  I told them lady bugs were good luck (especially if you eat them…  ) so we were hunting lady bugs.

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Here is the first lady bug we found.   Sam took this picture with my camera… what a great picture.  I told him he could have my camera if he could get mom to buy me a new one.  (I know how to work the family system)
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Here is the next one… Gwen found this one and I think there is something wrong.  I have never seen a black lady bug with red spots!   Must be the result of toxic waste someone dumped… (hmmm… we were next to a cemetery)

Ok… Enough lady bug pictures… I am sure you are waiting for nice pictures of France.   Before I show you those I want to share another thing.

I have been “chronicling” Oberhausbergen’s (wife’s home town) struggles and various campaigns against dog poo.   Last year I had a blog post dedicated to their “lute contre la crotte”. (Sign with dogs bum taped up  … click if you are curious).  This year they are still vigorously working to eradicate poo pollution.

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This sign states that it isn’t magic… (difficult) just pick it up… My THOUGHTS… what good is magic if you can’t make poo disappear?

Enough poo…   hmm that brings to mind one more thing.   It is asparagus season in Alsace.   I love asparagus!!!  We were all having a spring scavenger hunt on “Isabelle’s Hill” and my asparagus craving got the best of me… so I took off for a brief moment.

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I walked over to a local farmer’s coop  called “Hop’la”.
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I purchased some asparagus….   this was a bit expensive but I like supporting local farmers.   Unfortunately I couldn’t get any of the kids to eat this… even with the promise of stinky pee…
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Here I am catching back up to the group…. who were busily searching out “spring” things for their hunt.   They all mocked me saying I looked like the “man in yellow” from curious George.  (Could have been worse they could have said I looked like the monkey)
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Walking back from our hunt… Gwen and  Ben were a bit disappointed that it was over already.
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Some of the others… like Sam… were ready to get home.   I kept having to call them and tell them to wait up.

Time for the bubbles!..   There are moments that I feel like I have the perfect idea for a “brillant” coffee table book…  Here is another idea…  Bubbles across Europe.

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This one looks like a ghost chasing after the children.

I watched a homeless man entertain many children and (my favorite part) annoy oblivious passing pedestrians with his bubble blowing.   The children loved this…  and so did I…especially since every now and again a bubble would escape and blow across the square hitting some un-expecting adult…  wished I had a picture of that!  (these bubbles left a nice soapy mark… it was awesome).  I spent almost an hour watching this. I was also eating a “mixte”.   This is one of my favorite lunches in France.   Most of the bakeries will have premade sandwiches.   A “mixte” is the name that “Paul” (if you want to see a picture click on the link) calls its ham, butter, and cheese sandwich on a baguette.   I promise it is fantastic.

I am really sorry this post is very random…

Last thing… Markets… I love the markets in France…  Here are a couple of the markets we have visited.

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I promise to update you soon on this trip!… I will post more pictures but I can’t promise that those pictures will be more interesting than bugs or poo…  I am tired of the bubbles… so no more bubbles (promise)