Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Best Burger

Doesn’t come with fries, but oh-so-tempting sour cream chips.

It comes lovingly grilled by a good friend, a glass of wine (or two),
all the sauces needed, tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes, lettuce
which is fresh at this time of the year and caramelized onions.

It also came with the perfect weather and setting: a terrace under a tree,
A light breeze, good conversation and friends with whom to enjoy.

I am sure that the kite in a far tree envied me my lunch!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cleaning, weeding…

Washing and wearing shorts
A rare Sunday at home.

So after a pause of several days (weeks?) today I woke up in my own bed – delightfully breezy weather and sun plus very agreeable temperatures.

This was very motivating and I threw on a pair of sweat pant shorts as not intending to be seen in public at the moment and got busy. First task – start watering which led to pulling some weeds, raking some leaves (a wind a couple of weeks ago shredded the tips of the oak branches and they are now nicely dry and visible) and dead-heading flowers.


Then the hole under the kitchen sink needed sorting and cleaning.


Of course there was wash – when isn’t there?

And having accomplished all that – and since it is Sunday – I will go take a well-deserved break in my lounging chair with a couple of magazines (sadly behind in my reading) and a good book.

Do I regret having had a wonderful trip with my cousins? Do I wish that I hadn’t had the concert in Saanenmöser? Heck no, but in its’ own way this leisurely down-time Sunday is all the more precious because of those events.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Epic Road Trip Day 10

And from close friends to someone that I have known longer than my own brother!

I awoke early and lay looking out the window at the beauty of early morning on the hilltop.

After a walk around the neighborhood (to our credit we were very good about getting in our morning walks: of course it helped that the scenery in most places was breath-taking)


and a breakfast that only G can make – in terms of pretty table, great food and fresh-squeezed orange juice by husband B – we tore ourselves away from Arroyo Grande.

We chose to drive the lower – and hopefully prettier route – to our former neighbor and her husband’s place near Bakersfield. The drive was all that I could have wanted: small lakes then suddenly over the pass and down into the desert. I will always remember that in the summer when we went camping in Yosemite – or anywhere north for that matter – we had to be up by 4 a.m. and on the road so that we could get to Bakersfield by 8 a.m. or we would suffer even more from the heat.

the blur of being a passenger

and down the other side - less green - of the mountain

oil derricks in the desert - many still operate throught the valley

Headed towards dry and hot Bakersfield
We moved into our first real house before I turned six. There were two girls next door that spaced in between us three sisters and for 8 years we were mostly one big family. As her parents never moved although my family did many times, we always visited whilst returning. I attended her wedding – one of the very few of my friends that I made.

She and her husband are now retired and love to travel as much as I: I have joined them on the Christmas Market River Cruise on the Danube in 2015 and will meet them this summer in Scotland. Meanwhile whenever I have gone to California to see my siblings or parents I have tried to squeeze in a visit to them as well. Without giving away our advancing years, I met her before my brother was born! So there’s more than enough to talk about.

We decided to go to a Mexican buffet for lunch then wandered into a couple of antique stores in Bakersfield before going for ice-cream and returning to their (gorgeous) home for drinks. 

A real old-fashioned ice-cream parlor

Their inner courtyard

Yep, my tipple of choice!

They have collections of most everything and although their home is full of memories and souvenirs from throughout the world it all works well.

Late night stories and we dropped into bed not even noticing that we were sharing a queen-sized one, we were so tired.

Our little sister's garden angel has another loving home.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Road trip Day 9

My apologies for having not finished my "epic" road trip. When last I left my dear readers hanging - or gliding along the highway in California - my sister and I had started loop 2 of the two-week saga.  Life here at home intervened so a couple of local trips later and I am finally ready to finish off that which happened almost a month ago.

But then, it doesn't much matter, does it, as one road trip is like another and done is done.

So after a lovely more leisurely day (remember the elephant seals, the walks on the boardwalk, the lovely dinner and sunset facing the Pacific Ocean? If not here is the link to a refresher: )
we were on to visit very dear friends: friends who not only helped our little sister throughout her illness, but who were there for us afterwards. Strong ties have been made and although we don’t see each other enough, we are grateful for what we do have.

However before we got there, we had another walk along the board walk in the early sun before breakfast.
Same angle of the sunset the night before

California seals - a mom and a pup soaking up the sun

Footprints in the sand

Driftwood "houses"

Part of the miles-long boardwalk

There are many tame and pesky squirrels!

Another part of the boardwalk
After breakfast we continued down the coast stopping first in the small town of Harmony

An artist's colongy just below Morro Bay

Very interesting cactus


A lovely trinket in the glass-makers shop.

then in one of my personal favorties: Morro Bay

The rock in the morning fog is just barely visible

One of the main attractions here: the otters in the bay

I coud - and sometimes have - spend hours watching.

Staying at their house was bittersweet as I had last been there on another road trip after my nephew married and they are selling and moving closer to their grand children in San Louis Obispo.

Dinner at our favorite local Mexican – also full of memories as this is not only my deceased sister's and my favorite local mexican but also where the family had dinner after her memorial service in 2012.

An evening and the next morning of sharing, exchanging thoughts both silly, day-to-day and profound. I almost got the dog to make friends with me and a big thrill was his licking my hand whilst I ignored him on purpose.

If the quality of one’s life is measured by the caliber of one’s friends, my quality is over 100%! Bless you G & B.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Law and Order

-      If only for a day

We moved into our house May 2, 1981 and over the years I have very seldom actually been “home alone”, even after the death of my husband.

First of course, although the older son was studying in another city, the younger was still a minor and thus here.  Then there was the housemate, eventually her daughter for a while as well as her husband to be. Once they had all moved to their own homes it was son number two who returned. I did have a very brief period in 2016 when I had my broken shoulder where there was no one living here, but all in all in between family, friends, visitors (one of my names was “Hotel Julia”) I have always benefitted from having company.

I have been extremely lucky in that all these multiple “lodgers” only produced the very rare and usually when-I-was-too-tired clash. We all rubbed along very well indeed… with one notable exception: the kitchen. After I had the kitchen renovated in 2010 my whole goal was to keep the counter top neat (read empty mostly), the stovetop clean, polished and free of utensils, the sink empty and clean as well as the small sideboard. The table is black glass top and shows every crumb or streak as well.  And I like it all to look like no one has ever had a meal there.

Yesterday, my younger son moved back to his flat in town after having been here – with my permission – since January.

So what was more normal this morning than my deciding to put the kitchen back into “my” type of order. Scrubbed the back splash even and washed every piece of equipment allowed to stay on the counter-top.

Will it stay this way – hardly. Will I enjoy it while it does – greatly.
However, believe it or not, I’m already looking forward to my next lodger and more life in the kitchen. If only for the day works for me!

Now on to something a bit less smacking of household chores like my puzzle, sorting photos, sorting papers, sorting, sorting. The wash is well under way, I am invited to dinner tonight – oh heck, think I’ll go to the spa – everything else can wait now that my kitchen’s clean.

The counter top as I like it.

Kitchen - CLEAN - hadn't realized that there would be a cool reflection matching my place mats!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New beginnings and

The saga of the last Christmas present, 2016 that is, not an early 2017 one!

Ever since before Christmas my former housemate and I have been e-mailing back and forth about the saga of the missing Christmas present. She had seen something that she preceded to purchase for me – well in advance as she usually has her Christmas presents locked in before the new school year starts!

It didn’t arrive. After a couple of months she re-ordered and was reimbursed for the first purchase – still sending it to my Swiss address as the French one is never reliable and she is often not at her current Swiss one. Getting confused? Our lives are not your ordinary “live in one place and take holidays once a year” type.

The second one also never arrived in spite of repeated reminders from her part to the company through which she had ordered it. Finally in desperation she placed a third order and had it sent to her daughter’s house in Massachusetts: just a reminder, both my housemate and I live in Switzerland, but we travel a lot and the chances of picking something up from an USA address, or alternatively having family there send it turns out to be a lot more reliable.

Anyway, that order did finally arrive and made it back across the ocean in her suitcase just a couple of weeks ago (never mind that at that point she had returned to her home in France, there was a trip planned to Switzerland).

The upshot: drum rolls, high fives and firecrackers so acknowledge the receipt yesterday of my final 2016 Christmas present.

What, you might wonder, was so special that she went through all the effort? Ah… not only one of my favorite activities (and having finally finished my taxes I can now enjoy a bit of leisure so its arrival was well timed) – a puzzle, but such a cute one – a cat that greatly resembles Cléa, wound around books on a book shelf. It is also only 750 pieces so I have already been able to put a dent in the frame and start it. It may have been the last present, but it was definitely one worth the time and effort on her part!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Epic Road Trip Day 8

And on our way again, but this time at our speed and with no social obligations whatsoever, if one doesn’t count the elephant seals!

Monday, May 1st after a walk and breakfast at home we left by 9h30 and K says “hey we got off before 10” to which I replied “yes but we were aiming for 9”. Never mind – it allowed us to make a first stop at the Outlets in Gilroy, capital of garlic – they even have garlic ice cream – not that I have ever been tempted to try it.

Then down Highway 101 where I know almost every inch of the road. Upon arrival in Cambria checked in to our hotel the Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach where we were able to negotiate an ocean-side room for $40.00 more than what we had paid online. No. 101 this time so I have stayed in most of them now.

Same car, same people, new loop

Our terrace at the Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach, CA
Then top down (of the car that is!) and off to see the bathing beauties: the Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas just above San Simeon and Hearst Castle. I still love seeing them and could spend hours watching them laze about, flip sand over themselves to keep cooler and jostle with each other. The Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery spreads over 6 miles of shoreline around Point Piedras Blancas on the central coast of California and was probably the fullest that I have seen. Also the first time that I didn’t freeze to death. By the way there is an association Friends of the Elephant Seals and a webcam

One part of the beach and rookery

I will be heard

Sweet dreams indeed

A little teenage talk

Wake up, there's an ocean out there

Just stretching

Once back on Moonstone Beach we went for an early dinner at the Moonstone Bar and Grill. I splurged and had a beer, the calamari frita, the crab cakes and some salad. We also shared the deep-fat fried jalapenos as a starter. Nothing but delicious. 

fried jalapenos

Calamari frita, crab cakes, asparagus and salad
Afterwards we were tempted to simply fall in bed but as only about 18h30 made ourselves take a walk along the boardwalk. When we returned we sat on our porch and watched the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean.

Like the pillow said: In order for the most uninteresting event to become an adventure, one must and needs only to tell the story.