Wednesday, September 19, 2018


But not forgotten.

Pat at 6 - the number of years since she died

 I have written other blogs on the theme, but every year on several dates those that I have “loved and lost” come to mind. Some years are harder than others and no matter how often I repeat “they are not entirely gone as long as someone remembers that they once lived and were loved” there are moments when that remains simply what it is: a trite phrase.

Today is one such and if I still feel that I was honored and privileged to be there when my little sister took her last breath, I still wish that she were here.

It was a different day, neither totally sad, nor totally normal.
I wandered around doing errands – and found myself eating (of all things) a burrito in her honor and remembering how good the ones were locally in her old town.

Pat – you are no longer physically here – yet you are always present in our hearts. RIP

Monday, September 3, 2018

Thirty years…

several countries and more stores than I can count.

I have finally found replacements for my favorite pans for raclette: that
Swiss cheese specialty that was a standard all one summer in our German/American

In the beginning we did it the classical route: individual pans fitting a square of cheese,
Potatoes, pickles and onions. Then I had to turn it into an international version, ie potatoes still, cheese as well, but accompanied with raw onions (grilled under cheese – a wonderful feast), hot dogs as well as pickles, onions and ketchup.

The summer that we hosted all of my husband’s nephews together with my brother and his six lots of travellers we got to producing it on an almost industrial scale as this is a meal that can be prepared before and enjoyed whenever the guests show up!

Over the years I discovered that – most of our guests were young males – the little pans just didn’t cut it when it came to quantities and when the now defunct Uniprix turned up with round, flat Teflon-coated small frying pans we dumped the small square ones.

I always had two and just before Uniprix shut I was able to buy one last one. This is some 30 plus years ago and of the two one is almost unusable as the coating is scratched and things stick again.  First a neighbor gave me their surplus of little pans, but I hated to have to go back to that method so imagine my delight when a trip up to a larger French grocery store turned up similar round pans.  OK they are meant for individual eggs – sunny side up – but who cares after 30 years I finally have my raclette pans again.

Almost the season again - although our family has also eaten it out of season.

Finally new pans

Monday, August 27, 2018


People tend to love or hate advertising.
When my husband and I travelled in the USA we would turn on the TV and watch only the advertising – as stupid, fun and rich as it was, it was always entertaining. But then his field was advertising and marketing.
When we watch American series here in Europe we often have two episodes in one as our television companies are not (yet) allowed to have too much advertising. Of course the advent of Netflix and other channel stations means that even the « public » ones are having to re-think advertising. I personally tape programs then zap through the advertising ; others get up and do chores or go to the kitchen during the advertising and sometimes we even watch the clever ones. One of  our two super markets had a wonderful series using a chicken to vaunt the benefits of eggs produced by happy chickens and the straight from the farmer to the market route. We (Switzerland) also have the Happy Cow. Google any animal advertising on YouTube and you will probably come across them.

But I am getting off track as this blog had its’ inception in two recent events : the hotel that I stay at for the Menuhin concerts in Saanen has what I deem to be the wonderful policy of handing out water as one checks out of the hotel. I have never come across this before and if it is accompanied with the labelling of said water bottles with their sticker, so much the cleverer. They also, as they have a wellness program, give every client a plastic sack with a bathrobe (bathrobe for use whilst in the hotel, but the sack can easily become one’s own swimming gear sack).

Water, still or sprakling, is always offered to every departing client

Great advertising

A lovely pastic sack celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Golfhotel in Saanenmöser

The other, although not properly speaking « advertising » had my laughing : one of my sons gifted me with a box of my favorite chocolates. And do note that I had been eating Auer chocolates well before John Kerry discovered them ! Anyway thanks to modern labelling requirements they too now come with a « to be consumed by » date.  Now what are the chances that I will still even have one left by then ?

I received it the 25th - it will be long empty well before the 13th of September!

Friday, August 24, 2018

A trip in the neighborhood

Now everyone who knows me, know that I have travelled all my life. If at first that only meant into town (and we girls had to put on dresses and proper shoes for those few occasions), then there were the camping vacation to National Parks at a medium distance before we branched out into crossing the nation when I was 10. That under our belts it was off to Hawaii to live for a few years when I was 13 going on 14 – and during the course of the three years that we lived there, we had to discover the rest of the islands as well. Upon my return to the mainland, it was boarding school for two years mid-state with flights home for the holidays. After one year in university I began the international trips when I attended school in France. From there it was anywhere-far-is-good never mind that my husband had also travelled the world as a tour guide to put himself through his doctorate. His thesis was on tourism !  We both worked in the tourist industry and living – in the case of his family – 600 miles from one lot of relatives, and in the case of mine thousands of miles meant that trips across the ocean or Europe were frequent.
I never saw a reason to stop until friends here started teasing me about not knowing the village down the road.  For 14 years I rented part of a chalet in the mountains above Martigny, Switzerland and slowly began to discover places closer to home.
Today I took it a step further and actually explored the canton in which I live. Most people don’t realize that from the farthest point on one side – Hermance - to the farthest on the other – Chancy – although it is only just over 30 km (18 miles) it can take over an hour of driving – with no traffic – and that’s the most direct route !
Exploring was fun. I had never realized that in Chancy the border is defined by the Rhone river – which flows very swiftly indeed at that point.
Lunch in a small restaurant called the most plebian name of Café du virage or literally Coffee in the Curve. Imaginative perhaps not, but the daily menu was delicious and the terrace entirely different from those in town. One would never have guessed that one was within a few minutes of a major international city.
So I’ll continue the explorations of my canton as and when I have the time and the weather is accommodating.

Looking back towards Geneva - not that one would guess

Going towards France
swirls under the bridge - the current was very strong

A lonely Heron hoping for a meal

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Wedding anniversaries

If August is a month for birthdays in my family – myself, an aunt and my mother all within 4 days – it is also one for wedding anniversaries.
My parents married in 1945 and their first trip to Europe was shortly after their 30th (they ended up having 53 years as opposed to my 25 !) and the picture that I took of them in the gardens of Evian, France was and will always be one of my favorites.

I often have moments of serendipity and after having looked for this photo off and on for many years, it fell into my hands just a couple of days ago – in time to post it on what would have been their wedding anniversary.

Emma and Bruce Aitken, Evian, France September 1975

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The weird and ...

The wonderful

So this egg is the first time that I have seen such a weird pattern - not at all round and smooth. Does this mean that chickens can have difficult births? Or did they slip in a fertilized egg? In any case I chose not to crack it, not to boil it - too afraid of what I might see.

Continuing my series of weird medical issues... an allergy? An insect bite? Have done the hot salt water route; anbibiotic creams; starting to go down.

I never realized that these lovely green "balls" actually hid blossoms!

Ah the beauty of rain drops on my balcony awning as the sun went down...

Life supplies us with many weird and interesting sites - we have only to open our eyes.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

They don’t make things the way they used to…

Is something that one hears frequently. Planned obsolescence on hoovers, irons, large appliances. There is a bit of a movement to repair rather than simply dump because the handle broke off, the fuel ran out or a nut or bolt fell off, but by and large (printers being a good case in point) it is cheaper to simply dump and buy a replacement.

We have gotten somewhat used to the idea, but it really hit home the other day.

I had driven up to the village for my morning coffee (currently way to hot to move more than two feet at a time physically), enjoyed the chats and having picked up my mail returned to my car. The clicker to open wasn’t a problem, but when I went to put the key in the ignition – bingo – no key!

I retraced my steps – nothing, I looked in and around the car, still nothing. Finally had the brilliant idea of dumping out my handbag into which I throw my key (gently) in order to not loose it. And there it was – the whole key bit had broken off.  Getting home was a trick as of
Course just putting that bit in the ignition meant that there wasn’t anything long enough to turn the key – even if I had been willing to loose a nail or two. No pliers in the car, but by
Dint of careful precision holding was able to somewhat insert into the key block and thus
Turn. Am using the spare key, but really a car key that breaks off after only 5 years!

I am not impressed.