"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Young Love

This little girl has a little secret...

She has a new friend...a new boy friend...!

Meet Owen.

Penelope is a couple of months older, and she seems to enjoy having the upper hand when it comes to relationships. So Owen was a bit unsure of himself early on.

But after a few encouraging nudges,

Owen's timidity wore off, and he soon threw himself at Penelope with reckless abandon.

Oh, Owen, you're such a tease!


Turkey Task Master

Here is the Turkey (a.k.a. Pute):

And here is the Turkey Task Master (a.k.a. Pute Meister):

She keeps a close eye on the cook.

And carries a wooden spoon for extra motivation, when necessary.

"Pick up the pace! We've got a deadline to make!"

And thanks to the Pute Meister's relentless prodding, the turkey was stuffed, trussed, and put in the oven just in time

to make its appearance at the Thanksgiving feast.
Hope you and yours enjoyed your turkey and all the fixin's just as much as we did here in Heidelberg!


The Glass Ceiling

Glass Ceiling: invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of advancement can be seen, but cannot be reached.

These days, Penelope's 'glass ceiling' is a real one. As in really, there is a piece of glass over her head that, despite her efforts, she cannot break through.

The little one is currently obsessed with our glass table. And once underneath the table, she becomes even more obsessed with the things on top of the table.

But for her this is a problem. Though she doesn't quite understand it as such.

Again and again she tries to reach through the glass, not understanding that it is actually there.

Again and again she bangs her head and her paws against the bottom of the table, which to her must be some mysterious divide between her will and the rotating objects of her desire.

We can only hope that this sort of glass ceiling is the only kind she encounters in her life.


Pepper and Worms

Ahhh....pepper and worms....such a delightful combination....

A few weeks ago we traveled to the city of Worms (pronounced "Vuhrms" folks, and has nothing in common with the slimy, legless creature) to see the sights of the city and meet up with my cousin, Pepper, who was there on business (well, her name is really Lindsey, but I've always known her as Pepper, which is short for Culpepper, her middle name, which is also her mother and my mother's maiden name--sorry that was way too much information).

Anyways...we went to Worms for the day.

Although we had a great time that evening with my cousin, our afternoon in the city of Worms left us a bit unimpressed. The War completely devastated the city, and when they rebuilt, their focus seemed to be more on providing housing for the city population as opposed to reconstructing historical buildings. (Well, I guess you can't blame them.) Therefore, much of the city looks like this: newish, plain-looking apartment buildings with an ancient remnant of a wall here and there.

The other disappointment was the river. Worms lies right next to the Rhine River, and you would think there would be great places in the city to walk along the river. Not so much. We attempted to walk down to where the river is, but this is the sight that met us: construction and a maze of busy roads. The bridge/tower thing over the river looked cool, but this was as close as we got to it.

But forget the rest of the city. The best thing about Worms (and only, if you ask me), is St. Peter's Cathedral (or, Dom, in German).


de Dom,



The cathedral is over 1,000 years old, and it is known to be one of the finest examples of High Romanesque arichtecture in Germany.

Here is a view of the very opulent high alter.

This "Baroque extravaganza" was added in the 18th century.

Lighted altar.

Inside the Chapel of St. Nicholas.

Dom St. Peter is famous as the location of the Diet of Worms (once again, this has nothing to do with eating those squirmy creatures; and Diet, by the way, is pronounced "Dee-it") when Martin Luther was put on trial and demanded to recant his beliefs about the Church in 1521. It was here at this event, and in this Dom, that Luther uttered his famous words, "Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen."
Here is a HUGE statue in the city center depicting Luther and other figures who were important in the Protestant Reformation.

And Martin Luther himself:

And let's not forget another reason the Dom is so widely celebrated--the Nibelungenlied! It is apparantly a super-long epic poem believed to be written in the 12th century about a dragon-slayer named Seigfreid who was murdered, and his wife's revenge on his murderer. The Germans embrace it as a mythological-ish depiction of how "Germany" came to be. Somehow over time one of the scenes in the poem came to be situated at the former entrance of the Dom, but this is historically impossible as the cathedral didn't exist during the time period when the epic takes place.
There are dragon statues all over the town memorializing this famous story. Here are a couple we stumbled upon:

It must be said that we did enjoy our visit to Worms, and it is worth visiting--but not for too long.


A Trip to the Zoo

When we moved into our apartment we were surprised to learn that there is a zoo that is only a 5-minute walk from us. I promptly decided to get a year membership, and when the apartment feels oppressingly small, Penelope and I go for a stroll around the zoo for a much needed change of scenery. Lately Penelope has been actually focusing her gaze on the animals themselves (as opposed to the ever enticing pole or rock), and sometimes even squeals in delight at the animals' antics. Here are some pictures from a trip to the zoo that we took as a family last weekend.

gorilla gazing

first experience with a petting zoo

I appreciate the effort at having the animal names and descriptions translated, but they seriously need some help with their English. Is it too much to ask a native speaker to proof-read them before they go into print?! Here is one of my favorite examples of poor translations. (I mean, can you really picture me saying, "Look Penelope! Look at that ass!")

This is my favorite part of the sign: read, "Hey Penelope, why is that ass so big and hairy?"

Penelope wore her bunny hat in honor of the bunny rabbits she hoped to see at the zoo. Unfortuantely they had already been put inside for the winter. She did get to see their distant relative--the kangaroo. She applauded their stupendous hopping ability.

camel scolding

the Anas Penelope (duck on left), not as pretty as the Kleine Penelope

family picture with the flamingos


Jewish Cemetary

A few weeks ago we took a day trip to Worms (pronounced "Vuhrms"). Our favorite sight was this Jewish cemetary tucked into the edge of the old town.

A few minutes after we walked through the gate this black cat crossed our path--no joke!

It is thought to be the oldest Jewish cemetary in all of Europe. The oldest legible tombstone is dated 1076!

Don't think that I'm unusually morbid and frequently stroll through cemetaries or anything, but this place was one of the coolest places I've visited. It was both beautiful and eerie. The view of the old sunken, twisted tombstones set off by the colorful fall leaves was breathtaking.

It really seemed like we were walking onto a set straight out of a scary movie.

If you look closely, you can see the Hebrew words chiseled onto the headstone.

Evidently this isn't the Volcan Salute of Star Trek, but an ancient Hebrew priestly blessing.

The aspiring scholar next to the graves of two famous Jewish scholars.


Milestone 7

Penelope has hit the 7 month mark, and along the way she has celebrated several milestones.

She has successfully birthed two new pearly-whites, which she loves to show off.

She has realized that crawling on her knees is much more effective than scooting on her stomach.

And despite our best efforts, she manages to find every potentially dangerous item in our tiny apartment. In other words, when she's awake I get nothing done!

She is fascinated with pulling up on every piece of furniture.

And then celebrating when she conquers the big ones.

She is beginning to learn how to cruise from one piece of furniture to the next. Unfortunately the learning process has caused several bumps and bruises.

She can walk along the bed.

Especially when a cellphone is involved.

Her personality is blossoming day by day, and she is becoming so much fun to interact with. But we are quickly realizing that we have one fiesty little girl on our hands. Watch out world!