Sunday, February 28, 2010

Peter's little black book

This is Peter’s African Adventure Journal. He got back yesterday and we found it as we were unpacking. The first four pages were filled with the addresses of people he loves so much that he wanted to send them postcards. So, if you didn’t get a postcard from Africa recently, Peter must hate you. I didn’t get one.

The rest of the journal was filled with
snippets of their journey, Ladder Talk and animal sketches. I of course added a few of my own comments, but I put them in brackets to separate them from Barb's scribbled ramblings and babblings.

20 February 2010:
  • Flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg > 2 hours 'We're there already?'.
  • 'Are you my flight attendant' [Read the previous blog for the whole flight safety story]
  • Get out and get into the next plane. We were super-fast and Peter got to speak to the pilot. [Yeah, 'cause Peter's never talked to one of them before]
  • We got onto a bus and rented a car.
  • We wanted to go to the hotel, but there was no hallway.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • When we got there, there were peacocks, a dog, chipmunks, birds, and we went swimming.
  • The evening was cold, but they had a bonfire and food and stories and Peter told jokes.
  • 'Hyenas that tow the fridge' [No idea, but it certainly conjures up funny images]
21 February 2010:
  • We had breakfast with parrots, pigeons, peacocks, and doves.
  • We drove in the car and saw three vultures as baboons were crossing the street.
  • Two hours later, we saw a herd of wildebeests. Gnühe, but no Lüchse.
  • In the hotel, we saw a warthog and some lizards.
  • In our super-room, Peter said 'We'll stay here'.
  • There was a pool and we saw meerkats: two dozen with young ones.
  • To the waterhole. Zebras and antelopes.
  • Food. Finger. Fish. [Glad the string of 'f' words stopped here]
  • Waterbuck, on the way to hotel.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I saw the warthog - the baby warthog.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When the warthog went away.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Look at elephants and giraffes.

22 February 2010:
  • Breakfast with egg, sunny side up.
  • Safari - we saw lions, zebras, wildebeests.
  • Peter was great with binoculars.
  • We went to the pool - Peter learned to jump in without hands. 20 times.
  • Peter played submarine with his Coke bottle.
  • We went on a safari again. We had snails, crocodile, and kudu.
  • We played mau-mau. [What the hell is mau-mau?]
  • Peter made friends with Gabriel the waiter.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When we saw the elephant.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: There was no worst part.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To go and see some more elephants.

23 February 2010:
  • Safari: Kudus. Leopards. Rhino. Elephants. Dik-Diks. Guinea fowl. Antelopes. Warthogs, kneeling down to eat. Two jackals. One mouse. Lizards. Lions.
  • Peter was in the pool with Opa. Jumped 30 times.
  • Bought postcards.
  • Dinner. Played mau-mau.
  • All the waiters came and talked to Peter.
  • Ate world-best mango.
  • Saw the Southern Cross.

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I saw kudus.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I couldn't see the Papa lions with the stripes. [Barb: he's definitely too tired!]

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: See some more turtles.

24 February 2010:

  • Woke up at Namutoni.
  • Went to Dik-Dik drive. Zebras. Giraffes that were sleeping. Secretary bird. Ostriches. Warthogs with babies. One big warthog. Rhinos. Lions.
  • Peter drew pictures of animals in the car and played with the postcards.
  • New hotel with lots of animals. Sable antelopes. Ostriches. Giraffes. Gazelles. Goats. Dogs.
  • Nice owner. Their son is moving to Heidelberg soon. His name is Peter.
  • Ate steak. Played mau-mau.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: As I could play with the dogs.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I couldn't go underwater.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Look at the water buffalos.

25 February 2010:
  • Woke up. Pool.
  • Waterbucks. Baboons. Crocodile. Baby oryx. Turtles. Ostriches with two babies.
  • Sable antelope in hotel.
  • Peter played with Pinky. [I hope this was the hotel dog.]
  • Pool. Peter faked swimming - was walking with feet on ground. Jumped 30 times. Huge jumps into Barbara's arms. All the way to the other side of the pool.
  • Mau-mau with the good fairy and Mr. Burgfräulein.
  • Ate kudu, crocodile and ostrich egg.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I jumped in the water in Barbara's arm.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I couldn't look at the crocodiles again.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play in the pool with Opa and Barbara.

26 February 2010:
  • Woke up. Ate ostrich egg.
  • Veronica took Peter into bird atrium. There were also turtles, parrots and chickens.
  • Drove to airport.
  • Flew from Windhoek to Johannesburg.
  • At airport, Peter ate a pan of octopus. [First snails, now this?]
  • Peter bought a hyena and stuffed animal presents for David (leopard) and Tom (elephant).

27 February 2010:
  • Home

The rest of the pages were filled with Peter's creative interpretations of African life. Some of them were a little too creative, so I asked Peter to label them and included here his exact wording.

A bird and leopard (left). A leopard eating a dik-dik and three vultures (right).

Three lions and one vulture (left). Gnu, dik-dik, giraffe (right).

Gnu, antelope, mountains (left). Eagle, star, pond, antelope and gnu (right).

Cat, jackal, rain, baby vulture (left). Elephant, fat bird (right).

Dik-diks (left). Rhino (right).

Two baboons - mother and baby (left). Dracula (right).

Don't ask me what the hell Dracula was doing in Africa. Perhaps this was one of the days where Peter had spent a little too much time in the sun.

Peter saw many more animals than he could draw, but Barb kept an ongoing list in his journal:

Vultures, baboons, parrots, lions, warthogs, lizards, termites, ants, wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, Thomson gazelles, pelicans, flamingos, elephants, trappen, giraffes, marabou storks, bee-eaters, centipedes, jackals, secretary birds, meerkats, oryx antelopes, sable antelopes, springboks, turtles, cranes, geese, herons, doves, guinea fowl, rhinos, leopards, kudus, storks, dik-diks, impalas, goats, waterbucks, crocodiles, grasshoppers.

Thrilling, isn't it? I can't believe that Barbara neglected to jot down Dracula, but luckily we have Peter's sketch as proof. I bet even that freaky fanged bloodsucker got a postcard. Damn him!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Out of Africa

I picked up Peter at the airport today and thought, 'man, why does he look so freakin' happy?'. Because he missed hanging out with his cool-ass Papa so much? Because he was so glad to be reunited with his awesome family? No. It was this damned hyena!

See, unlike normal passengers, Peter actually listened to the flight announcements. One of them must have warned that it is illegal to bring animals back from Africa. Peter is normally a 'follow-the-rules' kinda guy. If the sign says not to eat ice-cream on the bus, he would rather let his melt and drip all over the floor before taking a lick. Yes, this happened once.

Apparently, Mr. Straight Arrow loved his stuffed animal so much that he decided to break the law and immediately stuffed the baby hyena into his coat. When it came time to go through customs, he started sweating as profusely as five-year olds can. No, damn it - nothing to declare! Can I go now?

After successfully smuggling baby hyena through customs, Peter the criminal moved on to choking his siblings.

Peter the safari dude was only gone for a week, so after an hour or so, the novelty of his homecoming had worn off. Tom is just a baby, though, so he spent the rest of the morning pointing at his long lost playmate and shouting 'Opa!'.

Opa thought it was cute the first two hundred times, but after that, he just wanted to catch up on current events. As Opa perused the funny section, the comical trio bonded.

Eventually we left Grams and Opa to deal with jet lag and the aftermath of three hyper boys. We took the animals to a museum park, where David and Tom decided to show Peter how much they missed him by breakdancing on marble slabs.

To top off the afternoon, we went to the river to have a second homecoming with non-family members.

At one point, Peter definitely showed signs of fatigue. To combat the lag of Peter's jet, Kika and Sami hatched the great idea of going for ice-cream. Their plan worked, and Peter the bunny was energized once again. It was a short charge.

Unlike the energizer bunny, Peter did not keep going and going. We rounded up the tuckered animals and headed back to the zoo. Sluggish Pete and Wound-up Dave put on their pajamas and brushed their teeth. I tucked in David below and snuggled Peter under his covers on the top bunk bed.

One or two beers later, I heard a loud 'whooof-thunk', followed by David's gleeful laughter. I knew that could only mean one thing and took off running. As expected, I found Peter face down on the bedroom floor with David chuckling on the sidelines.

At some point, Mother Nature must have called sleepy Pete, who answered his bowels by trying to climb down the ladder of his bunk bed. I use the word 'try' because instead of his normal graceful descent, he did a nose-plant on the ground from the top rung of his ladder. Damn that nature woman!

I eventually got David to stop giggling and tried comforting Peter with another Papa-snuggle to get him to sleep. In the end, was it cool-ass me that calmed him down? Or maybe just being back home with his awesome family? No. It was his damned hyena, which he demanded to have before he would stop his incessant snivelling. Whatever, I am so calling customs on your ass in the morning.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: As I saw Mama again.
David: When Peter he come home from Africa and he not eat by a lion.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: As I fell down from my bed and hurt my nose.
David: When Tom he cried like a baby.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play a game with you and maybe Mama.
David: Play aminals with Peter.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Meanwhile, back in Africa

Two days of African food and man, check out Peter's ribs! Someone feed that kid a hamburger or something! It was sad, but still kind of nice to see that somewhere deep down, his belly missed me. The rest of him obviously didn't, but how the hell can I compete with trying to drown Barbara by jumping on her head in a pool? Hey Angie, wanna go swimming?

As Peter was soaking up the Namibian sun and saying ba-bye to his pale skin, David was busy soaking up the rays of Nil's attention as they said ba-bye.

After Nil's sad departure, I organized a little World Cup match for Alessio and David - USA vs. Italy.

David was loud and obnoxious and Alessio kept grabbing his ankle and falling down in tears every time the ball came near him, so at least they both stayed true to their respective stereotypes. In the end, Mr. America won and began chanting USA, USA, USA all the way to Pizza Hut.

Why Pizza Hut? Because it was the only restaurant we could think that was suitable for the American-Italian football league. Plus it's cheap!

Pizza Hut is either owned by someone who has kids or someone who really hates kids. Either way, they know how to keep children quietly occupied until the food comes. As an appetizer, the kids received a box of crayons and a coloring book. Now keep quiet!

I've never seen anyone 'cheat' on coloring books, but then again David has shown me many, many things that I have never seen. After devouring their pizzas, the kids all received wooden puzzles for dessert. Now shut up!

Toys, crayons, coloring books, and enough calories to choke Oprah - I'm telling you, Pizza Hut is awesome. Even if the owner does hate children.

After lunch, we waddled out onto the street and David got back onto his bike. Soon after, he was confronted by a screaming girl. At first, I though it was maybe because he was sporting vampire fangs and growling at pedestrians.

Before I could figure out what was happening, screaming chick started charging David full speed, blubbering something about his bike being hers. David did the most awesome swerving manuever that I have ever seen and shouted 'you are a crazy girl!' as he left the poor girl crying in his tracks.

The whole scene was so freakin' hilarious that I could not stop laughing. Crazy girl's mom cast me a super-mega-frown, which made me laugh even harder. Yeah well, maybe you should teach your psycho kid how to correctly identify her belongings?

Not a whole lot happened the rest of the week that Peter was gone. I don't have all the stories of Peter's trip - probably because Opa and Barb know that I would publish them, but I can guess at some of the pictures. Yeah, that's right - less blah-blah, more pics.

If Peter were a little bit older, I might seriously wonder what it was they were so intensively ogling. Judging by Peter's expression, I would guess a tapir. It would be a shitty guess, though, since tapirs don't live in Africa. But I'd still guess that.

After a long flight, nothing hits the spot like going to a drive-thru for some chicken nuggets.

Uh, okay. In Africa they have alligator nuggets, but I'm told they taste like chicken. They don't have drive-thru's, but they do have an interesting way of locking their cars. Whatcha got in the trunk, buddy?

After the Namibian eat-n-drive, they drove. Along the way, they almost ran into some animals.

This one is not a picture of a tree, by the way.

This last animal is one of the rarest to catch on film. It's known as the White-bellied Gooftard and is native to Germany.

The White-bellied Gooftard is most widely known for its picky appetite and creative fence decorations.

What Peter lacked in hunger, he made up for in thirst. He's normally not allowed to drink Coca-cola, since it makes him silly and his lips begin to pucker.

Chasing animals all day can be quite tiring. Trust me, I know. Back at the lodge, Peter decided to try drowning Barbara one more time.

Barb's a tricky one when it comes to nephews trying to murder her. It looks as though she will live to see another African sunset.

When the sun goes down in Namibia, the men play poker and the women take pictures. As it should be.

On the way home, Opa somehow lost the airplane, which can be quite embarrassing for an ex-pilot. Damn it, I know it's here somewhere.

They eventually made it on board and embarked on the long journey home.

Peter slept for most of the flight and I'd like to think his belly was dreaming of me.
Ladder Talk:
[No ladder talk with this one - one of the next blogs will be on Peter's journal that he kept for his trip and I'll include the Ladder Talk for each day there]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We miss Peter so much!

Peter left for Africa last night and since then the rest of the family has been in a state of severe depression. More than usual. Different people react differently when battling such sorrow and suffering. Tom apparently hides his emotions by eating powdered donuts and giggling tears away.

After watching Tommy's donut-frenzy and subsequent rise in dopamine levels, the rest of us decided to eat as well.

As you can see, David wasn't snapping out of it. He bawled his eyes out and cried for Peter. At one point, I told him 'nice try' and made him eat the rest of his tear-soaked eggs. He smirked, donned a pirate hat and Hawaiian lei, and announced to everyone that all of Peter's toys were now his. Bwah-ha-ha, the world is mine! MINE!

In then end, we had to physically restrain Davey to control his, uh, sadness. When that didn't work, we kicked him out of the house and sent him to Alessio's birthday pirate party. Don't ask me where the Hawaiian lei came into play.

After David left, Tom had yet another wave of unhappiness. Luckily, Eisi could overlook his own personal anguish long enough to comfort poor Tommy.

Eisi didn't really do anything; sometimes it's funny enough just to look at him. Watching Tom crack up at goofy people made me think of Peter. I wonder what he is doing right now.

Peter was on a plane, getting ready to take off from Johannesburg to Windhoek. They had just started the 'flight announcements' that I still consider insulting. Come on - what kinda moron doesn't know how to buckle his seat belt?

Peter is so thorough (anal) with everything he does and flying was certainly no exception. He actually studied the exit plan as they read through the standard blah-blah 'save yourself, then your kids' speech. At one point, the nice man announced 'if you need any assistance, please contact your flight attendant'. Panic and pandemonium pursued.

'My flight attendant? Hold on. Who's my flight attendant? Is Barbara my flight attendant? Do we have to meet first?'

It was around this point that other passengers were asking their flight attendant to check the shoes on 'that spastic kid over there'.

While Peter was busy freaking out over flight safety, Tom was roaming the apartment searching for 'Pada'. Yeah, that's right - 'Pada'. Tommy the Brain can already say the word 'octopus' but somehow cannot yet say 'Peter' or 'David'. It's okay, though; they're only his big brothers. Just for the record, David is also 'Pada', but after getting clotheslined by 'Pada' this morning, I seriously doubt that he was looking for David.

Tom's lamenting and wailing continued on until lunchtime, where we finally broke down and took him to Burger King. Hey, if the kid's gonna be heart broken and binge-eating, he might as well hang out with his own kind.

After devouring an unHappy Meal, Tom decided to search for his missing brother. I'm not sure why, but I get the feeling that he got slightly distracted at some point.

After half a minute, Tom called off his search and opted instead for a little more 'me time'.

It was eating me up inside to see just how painful Peter's absence was for Tom. Peter was gone, though, and would not be back for a week. An entire week of the same torment and agony that we all had to suffer through today. There was only one hope of dulling the pain long enough to survive this week - champagne.

It was Simone's birthday, so she and Flo stopped by to celebrate. With everyone's thoughts on Peter, it was hard to keep up a party face, but we tried. After the first bottle of bubbly, I started wondering what Peter was doing at that very moment.

Dear Mom,

I miss you so much. I had quite a long flight and somehow managed to scare a few people on the plane. I still don't know what a flight attendant is, but I do know not to start screaming for one shortly before take-off. Anyway, we made it here finally and I thought I would write in my journal how much I miss you. I wonder what you are doing now.



As it turned out, Angie was also thinking about Peter at that very moment...

The signs of clinical depression can take many forms and I'm sorry, but this is not one of them. Not by any stretch of the liver. Deep down, though, I'm sure that Angie really missed Peter. So did I, which made me wonder who was cooking for Peter.

I know, I know. He looks sadder than a bastard on Father's day. At least eating crickets and tree bark for a week might make him appreciate Papa's cooking. Hey, maybe I should send Angie on a safari.

I do like that he ordered a beer to wash down his antelope steak and alligator nuggets. His thoughtful consideration almost brought me to tears. I was so moved, in fact, that I performed an ancient African ritual that is supposed to bring back lost children.

I don't actually know any African rituals, so I tried to wing it by sacrificing a virgin, followed by a tribal dance to wake the dead. There were at least two faults with my master plan, though. The first was, Angie is not a virgin. After three children, this should not really come as a shock to any of you. The second problem was, I can't boogie. After seeing me on a dance floor, this should not come as a shock to any of you, either. Disco, techno, tribal... forget it!

In the end we did not manage to wake the dead and bring home our runaway child. We did, however, manage to wake the neighbors and it was clear by their emotions that they missed Peter as well.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I played in the pool with Barbara.
David: When I played with Alessio's by pirate party 'cause he had a party.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I couldn't hear the story with the hyenas.
David: When I can't not play with Alessio no more 'cause I are going.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to look at the animals.
David: Play with Mama 'cause Peter not here now.