Friday, May 31, 2013

Mixed Day

So, finally after 9 days (yep, one for each hour) I slept through the night: another bout of jet lag is buried; only to be resurrected the next time I fly… in four months.

The laundry is done: both that of the trip and that of my “flight to the mountains”. The latter is back in its suitcase ready for the next trek up to the chalet, the former redistributed.

Have managed to catch up on the mail, and even start getting back into rhythm with the sending of cards, reply answers, replies to inquiries and the like.

Am caught up on Facebook, LinkedIn and my e-mails.

Have started physically replying by telephone to friends, setting up lunch and dinner appointments: have a dinner date with my kids and a couple of luncheon dates with friends as well as the odd coffee date: social life is switching from my travelling family and friends to my hometown ones.

Have also delved into the work world, two general assemblies and one cocktail party already under my belt: work for a client making progress.

Still a ways to go: half way through my four-nights-in-a-row-out; many more phone calls to make, business, doctor’s appointments, friends; dozens of cards, “thank you”s and the like to write, never mind getting back to the cleaning and sorting (an ongoing and seldom productive task) of household affairs.

Weather still cold and rainy, but coffee with a good friend and a great concert tonight makes for a truly mixed day.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Climb every mountain


So o.k. I got side-tracked from blogging whilst I was living: returning from the mountains, gathering up mail from most rooms in the house, doing the wash, getting in groceries for the week, re-contacting friends whom I haven’t seen in six weeks, etc.  I actually wrote the following blog the day I returned!

First produced by Rogers and Hammerstein for the musical Sound of Music in 1959, many major singers have it in their repertoire, including Tony Bennett (Anthony Dominick Benedetto) upon whose birthday I had the privilege of being born, albeit a few years later.

Listening to Andy Williams on Spotify I actually heard the words:

"Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every highway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live."

...three more repeating refrains

Being in the mountains lends the words even more meaning: I am glad to say that so far I have managed to follow this creed – tromping on the paths and byways of the world, sometimes getting my feet wet instead of fording the stream, sometimes hitting the valleys instead of climbing the peaks. The “dream”?  I have yet to figure what it is, so maybe it's just to live a good life: to do no harm and add to society instead of detracting. Whatever, may I continue to have fun along the way.

Dents de Morcles

Sunday, May 26, 2013


For those who have never heard of such a thing, fondue is a Swiss dish of melted cheese: that at least is the short definition, but how to describe what fondue really is… a wonderful meal usually shared with family or close friends as it involves dipping long two-pronged forks into a communal pot in which cheese has been melted into white wine. Now that’s the dry description – again how to explain the setting (usually some chalet with wooden ceilings, checked red and white table clothes, waiters and waitresses in typical Swiss costumes – you’re on your own here: the ambiance, the joy in such a simple meal of bread and cheese.

Needless to say, for those of us who live here, there are many animated discussions as to the best type of fondue, the best restaurant for fondue, what drink should accompany it, in any case: it is still a treat.

Fondue at Café du Soleil, Geneva

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reconnecting with nature


First walk of the season: only the short round as having not regularly walked in 6 weeks thought that I had best be reasonable; read lazy. Drizzle, fog, snow-powdered trees slightly higher, nothing could diminish the pleasure of being out and about in the fresh mountain air.
Even the dandelions looked beautiful!

Friday, May 24, 2013

24 hours at the end of May

in the Swiss Alps where you can have fall, winter, spring and summer all rolled into one day:

May 23 17:30

May 24 9:00

May 24 9:30

May 24 13:00

May 24 13:00

May 24 14:00

May 24 17:00

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Too much of a good thing


I have always wondered if that statement were true.

This year it was my roommate and her fiancé who opened the summer rental, as I was not yet home and it was on their way to a conference in Milano. As instructed they took up the bedding and towels, which I store at home for the winter, and I told them that most of the basics for soap, kitchen towels, non-food supplies could be found in the plastic bin in the chalet storage area. They knew that everything that they might want to use in the way of food needed to be purchased.

I returned home the same day that they returned from Italy and in the exchange of information I learned that I didn’t need to buy any cleaning supplies or toilet paper as they had bought “enough for several years”. In passing, it was also mentioned that they hadn’t gotten out the things from storage.

As my youngest son and I did the shopping in the valley before arriving, I couldn’t remember if there was any olive oil so, together with other food supplies, we got a bottle.

Once at the chalet we proceeded to unload the car, pull out the supplies and, in general, settle in for the season. Upshot: 3 bottles of olive oil (they had mentioned it, but I had forgotten and couldn’t remember if I had any stored: I did) and above all another large package of toilet paper on top of my plastic bin as well as two rolls inside said bin.

We currently have 37 rolls of toilet paper – think we’ll make it through the summer? However, if desperate for food, we can perhaps douse the TP in olive oil, add salt and herbs, fry lightly and consume?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Welcome to the mountains

Leaving my various roommates to watch the house, I took my youngest son, my new car, way-more-than-possible-luggage and myself off to my summer rental in the Swiss Alps.

Even the skies pulled out all the stops – offering us a rainbow visible on both mountain and clouds! 

Near Martigny, Switzerland


A friend's birthday; 6 years since I became Swiss; dinner with my immediate family – catching up on 5 weeks in all our lives.

May 19-20

Going home...
Leaving San Francisco

Flight on Swiss

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sytlish Saturday

Saturday in the City
A slower start than the past weeks; a leisurely drive up to San Francisco (many people call their closest big town “the city”, but for me that term always means San Francisco); blue skies, sunshine with a whip-cream slathering of clouds along the mountains on the ocean side; a great way to begin the day.

One goal: San Francisco’s 36th Decorator Showcase 2013 which was held in the Herbst Manor at 2800 Pacific Ave. Built in 1899 by Ernest Coxhead, for Sarah Mathilde Spooner, it is built in the Georgian-style with sweeping views of the city and has been transformed by 27 talented and creative designers: one of whom actually attended the Hotel School in Glion, worked in the industry for 13 years then concentrated on decorating. Antonio Martins:

Lunch outdoors at the Ferry Building, a drive along the other piers, out to Crissy Park and on to the second goal: seeing the venue where my nephew will be married this fall. Wandering through the Presidio reminded me of the Sierra Nevada; seeing the bay in a pull out, of my time spent overlooking the Puget Sound; the drive back to my sister’s, of the fact that tomorrow I return home.

A great ending to a wonderful trip – I am incommunicado till sometime next week when I return to writing my Blurred lines of Garble, ie BLOG.

San Fransisco

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Siblings and Friday Fun

From breakfast at the Paris Baguette (Grand Opening Day) to eating lunch at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, it has been quite the day. 

My sister took some of her non-existent vacation hours and after attending the grand opening of PB, we first ran errands (a book and a CD together with new suitcases to put them in at Costco... because we needed gas) before popping over the hill to Half Moon Bay.

Top down on the car, the wind in our hair, the sun in our eyes, we played tourists and had pictures taken amongst the poppies before lunch. After lunch at the Ritz Carlton, a stroll on the grounds, a spot of shopping and 10 minutes in the lawn chairs we tore ourselves away to explore Main St. in Half Moon Bay, then wend our way back home. A day of laughter, of memories, of re-affirming the bonds of sisters.

To finish the fun Friday, we skyped with our brother and other sister, his wife.

Half Moon Bay

Friday, May 17, 2013

“10 things that really make you happy"

That was the idea for the blog one day last week:
Sons Sven and Scott
Sunsets regardless of where, but preferably with a view
My house
My friends
A solitary beach
A good fire
mountains flowers

The Sierra Nevada Mountains

I had forgotten the sound of the wind in the trees, the sight of sun on the leaves,
I had ignored the smell of pines in my dreams, the touch of bark under my fingers,
I had lost the taste of fresh air: it all comes flowing back to my senses here in the Sierras.

Pinecrest Lake, California, USA

Mountain luxuries.

Having been off line for 96 hours, I now need to make up for "lost" (although really it was found) time: a few quality days spent with a dear friend up in the Sierras.
May 13th after my arrival we enjoyed a wine tasting out on the deck in the midst of the forest.

  • Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.
  • Rombauer Vineyards, Caneros Merlot 2009 – St. Helena, Napa.
  • Canonball, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010. 
 All were highly drinkable - the Rombauer our preferred.
Wine-tasting on the deck

More cousins and the family of friends

May 13, Today I travelled eastwards, first visiting and having lunch with a very dear cousin on my father’s side: a cousin born as a first child to one of my father’s sisters who, due to mishandling at birth, has cerebral palsy. They chose to not have other children so that they could do their best to ensure his on-going care (at that point it was believed that he would not live beyond 20 – he is now over 70!) This was a blessing to us as children: we were never taught that a handicapped person was anything other than “normal”. Fear of persons different than myself was thus eliminated which has enabled me to enjoy interaction with many, not just my own small world.
This cousin's handicap was physical - he has a brilliant mind and in order to keep him occupied my aunt and he researched and wrote the genealogy for my father’s side of the family – another blessing.
Then I traveled further to visit with a friend who is like a sister to me: first sent to stay with me when she came to Switzerland some 10 years ago, we bonded and even if months or years go by in between meetings, we pick up where we left off. "Families" of all kinds: bring them on!
Hats off to you Cousin Edwin!

Monday, May 13, 2013


Family lore has it that when I returned from my first day of school, age 6, I told my mother that I hadn’t learned to read that day and that I thought it might take a week: I read 62 books that first year, winning the reading prize, and never looked back.

I read with the book on my knees at my desk in school; I read with the book on my lap under the dinner table; I read with a flashlight under the covers late into the night and if I now read in the open, I still use covers to hide my romantic novels (leading others to think that I am very religious – the cover is black). I read about everything except sci-fi and hard core mysteries; I read pamphlets, I read brochures, I read magazines (both junk and educational), I read novels, I read biographies, I read philosophy, I read self-help books, I read thus I am.   

Nirvana happened today: Powell’s, the City of books, in Portland. I restricted myself to a Bertolt Brecht (in German – the same in which the dinner check had been presented at Grüners Friday night) and one other – a minor miracle for those who know me.  

I hear them, I read them, I use them to speak, I write them: above all, I adore words.

Powell's, the City of Books, Portland, OR, USA

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Webster’s dictionary lists 8 different definitions, number 5a being the one that we most often think of in the context of the single word family: ie “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family <a single-parent family>”.

I spent the weekend with parts of mine. Yesterday my sister and her husband picked me up at the Union Station in Portland, OR and today we drove to Battle Ground, WA to attend the Qualley Family Reunion. Andrew Qualley married Emma Johnson/Peterson in Washington and they had two children, Emma dying just days after the birth of the second child in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. Shortly thereafter Andrew married one of Emma’s sisters, Hilda, and had 5 more children. In 1931, Hilda traveled back to Wisconsin to visit her mother and the third sister, Amanda. Seeing how poorly her mother was and that her sister was also not doing well, Hilda returned to Washington with the two middle children, Emma and Julia, in tow. Thus it was that my mother, Emma, grew up with her cousins. Those original 9 are now 102; the oldest being 94 years and the youngest two months. You talk about family – and that’s just on my mother’s side!

However there are also other definitions of family including that of friends whom one has chosen to form a close group. Regardless of the definition I am blessed to have “family” many places in this world and my travels to visit them are always entertaining and heart warming.

As tomorrow is Mother’s Day and we all had one, Family is important – may yours be ever present in your life!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

On the road again...

On the Road again – or perhaps a better description would be On the Train. Lesson to self: never use the word perfect – especially whilst traveling as there can be many kinds of perfect: the perfect day with friends, the perfect down day, the perfect bad weather day, the perfect sunny day, the perfect experience day, the perfect scenery day – after this trip I will never lightly use perfect. So how to describe today? Breakfast at Claire’s in Edmonds, WA was one of those wonderful old-time diner experiences. On to the Amtrak station with a departure that was only 10 minutes late – headed south to Portland, OR where my sister and brother-in-law picked me up for a family reunion and exploring the city. Dinner at Grüner’s (the bill was presented tucked into Bertolt Brecht’s Der gute Mensch von Sezuan which led to my reading bits that in turn led to a short discussion with the neighbouring table: turns out that he was from Viennese parents who had spoken German at home; his partner had lived many years just across the lake in Mies as a child – it is truly a small world) was great even if they were out of Kölsch. A wander along the river banks and we returned to our hotel for a good night’s rest before Family Reunion.
Amtrak Cascades route

Friday, May 10, 2013

A defining moment

Today’s “Blog every day in May” assignment was: “A moment in your day”
Mine was meeting Anya. I have rarely in my life run into someone who has a great knowledge of crucial turning points in history, this time I ran into someone who has lived them. Her house contains remnants of her many lives: Russian Icons, boxes, bronze artefacts from Jerusalem, ivory from China, Africa, wall hangings and pictures from all over – I could do a whole blog on the contents of one glass cabinet.  But all these mementos pale against the woman herself, the experiences she has lived, the people she has known and the knowledge she possesses. Such people are precious to our collective memory. Never mind that she served us Kulich and Paskha.
Kulich & Paskha

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A perfect day

A perfect day comes one’s way very rarely: it can’t be planned and random events make it so. Waking up refreshed, a good cup of coffee, a trip to Costco (yep I do love that store), a lovely lunch of sandwiches, dip and veggies, jello with fruit for lunch, tea on the deck in the mid-afternoon, culminating in “Happy Hour” on the deck at Ivar’s on the waterfront in Mukilteo. All this accompanied by ideal temperatures and my lovely host and hostess.
Ferry arriving from Whidbey Island

Docks down by the waterfront in Mukilteo

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Washington Wonders

May 7:  Sitting on the deck of the bay, overlooking the Puget Sound with Whidbey Island in the background. Hoping for a whale sighting, but content to simply follow barrages (off to Dillingham perhaps?), fishing boats, super yachts and the odd sail boat – I am staying with good friends in their wonderful home after too many years of not being able to see them: time, distance and schedules at cross-purposes. I have truly “arrived”.
 Mount Rainier

Puget Sound

Monday, May 6, 2013

Goodbye Dillingham...

“Sit’n on the dock of the bay…” translates into sitting in airport waiting rooms today.
Leaving Dillingham, AK for Seattle, WA.  Last visit in Dillingham however actually was to the dock of the bay: an all-weather, all-year-round dock which is one of the main connections to the “outside”. Small town USA is taking your luggage to the airport, dropping it off then heading back into town for coffee and a last look at a place which will forever have a corner of my heart: gourmet meals, interesting people and events, Dillingham is, as the people here put it,  “Nature’s front porch”.