Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thieving Canadians

Oh, Canada...

It was gray, cold and rainy. The fish weren't biting. And someone stole our outhouse.


My dad's cabin in Ontario. About 70 miles north of the Minnesota/Canada border. On an island on the narrow part of a pretty large lake.

Deep lake, rocky landscape, towering pines. Very 'nature'. Less a cabin than a small one room shack with some beds, but quite comfortable. No electricity or running water. As such, an outhouse.

A sidenote for the cityfolk. An outhouse is a small structure 'out' of the house over a hole into which you do your business.

Anyway, back to our outhouse, and a nice one at that, as far as outhouses go. So nice it had a door AND a window. Average Outhouse: Usually they were 3 to 4 feet square by 7 feet high with no window, heat, or electric light.

And when we arrived on the island on Friday about midday, our outhouse was conspicuously absent. It took a while to figure it out, too. We arrived, unloaded our stuff, got the cabin going (gas lights, gas stove, gas refridgerator), set up the boats, etc. and nothing was remiss. All was as it had been left the year before.

Then my brother-in-law Chris asked if any of us had been to the outhouse yet. Strange question, I guess, but the answer was no. Why?

Because it's gone, he said.

We all headed back, disbelief mixing with curiousity, to have a look for ourselves.

Gone. Just a hole in the ground mocking us. It wasn't destroyed in a storm or something, it was stolen. Not a trace remained.

So, someone, or more specifically some people, happened by the island, probably in the winter when the lake was frozen, spied our outhouse with the fancy window and thought to themselves "we must make it ours".

And they left us without a bathroom.


But, on the brighter side, we had a good time, caught some fish (not many, but some), and saw a black bear. And I broke a rod fighting what was likely a very big fish. Snapped the rod in two. After that, it was just a matter of time until it snapped the line too. Damn.

And, we got started on a new outhouse. Framed up, looks very nice (I mostly just observed, Chris is the handy one in the family).

I hope when it's finished later in June when my dad goes back with some friends they are sure to put a window in it. It makes an outhouse classy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


11:55 pm Monday -- Just back from Canada fishing. Katherine and Jack in Larchmont, en route to Rensselaerville tomorrow. Home Saturday.

Sadly, I smell of fish less than I would have liked after 3 days fishing, but it was still fun, and have many engaging and entertaining tales to retell.

But not now.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My son is secretly turning French. Well, maybe not so secret with that shirt. Next thing you know he'll be wearing berets and smoking Gitanes.

First solid meal. Delicious oatmeal mush.

Very satisfying.

A play in three parts

This play stars Jack and his friend Eva. It's a bit racy so those that are easily offended might do well to go elsewhere for their entertainment...

Scene 1: Jack is entertaining a young lady friend. Things get a little steamy.

Jack: Hey baby, I like your little pink outfit. What say I drive you crazy with my romantic ways.

Eva: Whatever dude, you got no...oh!

Jack: That's right, lady! I know what you like.

Scene 2:

Jack realizes there are other people in the room.

Jack: What's up fellas? You see how I had this little lady eating out of my hands? I am the master of romance. If I could walk, I would swagger, but for now a wry grin will have to do.

Eva: Jack, you are starting to bore me.

Scene 3:

Jack: Bore you, eh? How about I go in for a little more sugar. What do you think about tha...

Eva: I don't think so. Your time is up, loser.

And, curtain...

I'm still trying to flesh out the dialogue, but I think I've got a great start here. Goodbye State Dept., hello Off-Broadway.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Laos in the news

Ochen Silnoe Zemlyatryaseniyeh -- in Russian --

Phaen Din Vai Kaeng Lai -- in Lao ---

Laos hit by powerful earthquake

A powerful earthquake has hit western Laos, with tremors felt as far as away as Thailand and Vietnam.


No casualties reported.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jack vs. the couch

One of the nice things about coming back to FSI (the Foreign Service Institute, for those not in the know) is re-connecting with friends we made while in training last time. My training class was over 90 people, and a number of them are now back at FSI, and a number of those people are very good friends that we made while here last time.

And so we get to see them again.

Some, we had the opportunity to see in the past two years, like our friend Mary Beth, who we saw in Indonesia, Thailand, and in our hometown of Vientiane. Others we haven't seen since we (or they) left for post the first time.

There is something exciting about reconnecting with people who are:

back from Haiti and on their way to Afghanistan

back from Mauritania (it's in Africa) and on their way to Australia

back from Indonesia and on their way to Morocco

back from Mexico and on their way to Thailand

back from Benin (also in Africa) and on their way to Russia

back from Djibouti and on their way to Slovenia (it's in Europe)

back from Oman and on their way to Bosnia

back from Ecuador and on their way to Estonia...

...and so on...

A unique aspect of the foreign service, I guess.

Anyway, enough of that, here's Jack not understanding the concept of 'solid'.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Blog and such

So it seems that language training drains me of what energy I may have to blog, our son takes up some evening time, and studying takes up the rest (notwithstanding online poker, The Daily Show, and reruns of The Simpsons).

As such, I'm not really too interested in writing about our daily activities. Plus, the below can suffice as a daily entry for the next 5 months or so.


So I went to language class. I left with a headache. Then when I got home Jack did something that we consider to be very cute. Then we ate dinner. Then I studied. Earlier in the day Katherine went for a walk with Jack and had a light Frappacino from Starbucks.

Then we went to bed.


Anyway, we'll continue to post photos of The. Most. Cutest. Kid. Evah.

But I think the stories of wacky hijinks will be few and far between.

I mean, what kind of hijinks can ensue when trying to conjugate a reflexive verb?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Visitors and such

Marilyn came by for a few days to watch Jack while we got settled and I started classes.

Then she tagged off with Sarah and Maren who came to meet Jack. He seemed to enjoy it.

And he loves New York.

And his tasty feet.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hands and knees...

He'll be mobile soon. Maybe too soon.

Happier Jack

While he is crying right now because he doesn't want to go to bed, in this video he was decidedly more cheerful.