Wednesday, October 30, 2013

“Talking” gates…

Or communications from where?

I know that we are almost to Halloween…
Still it gave me a pause this morning when returning from the post office I saw
that my gate was trying to communicate with me!

Is it a pretzel? (I had already had breakfast, but maybe this is what’s for lunch or dinner? Or is it to remind me of the trip to Germany that I can’t make this weekend?).

Is it the peace sign? I think that I am a pretty peaceful person so not quite sure how I could be more peaceful – and I am not taking up demonstrating in the near future although I do sometimes get excited about something on Facebook.

Is it simply a weird bow tie? Reminding me that I am to wear lace-up shoes with my aircast: I had already done that.

Whatever the message, I appreciate it that my gate is trying to communicate – or should I be worried?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall adventures…

But, not what you’d expect.

My housemate and I had been bemoaning the fact that due to a series of events (some not very positive either) we had only had our first and second quarter “adventures” this year.

Last night we went to see Bob Dylan in concert: an icon, I found his voice to be better than reported in recent reviews. An enjoyable concert after which we started down the stairs for our return to the car park (in retrospect it is a very good thing that I was feeling lazy and had parked the car underneath the airport, which is adjacent to this particular concert hall), had successfully negotiated the first two sets of steps and was prudently hanging on to the hand rails – and not going particularly fast either - when, bingo: down I went.  Still not sure what happened.

Limped back to the car using my housemate as a crutch and remarking that for once I was exceptionally glad that she was short!  Had time to feel grateful that my new car is automatic as it was the left ankle then embarked on the hunt for an emergency room open at 11 p.m.  To no avail, ended up at the HUG (yes that’s the acronym of our university hospital and all in all I have never had a complaint as to their efficiency nor care – when one is suffering physically, it is an uplifting thought to have a HUG).

The girl on triage was lovely: knowing that they had a backlog of at least 5 hours she started calling some of the other emergency care centers in the state of Geneva, only to find out that no one had x-rays available, whereupon she suggested that I might be better off “taking these two pills” and going home to sleep a few hours before returning early this morning.  Very wise advice as I was able to ice the ankle, then bind it and elevate it, getting 5 hours sleep in the process.

This morning the entire checking in, waiting for a doctor, then the x-ray, then the return of the doctor only took two hours and whilst waiting we were able to go to the cafeteria for tea and a roll.  Good news: only sprained, although they could see on the x-ray that I had had several small breaks in the past – I only knew about the heel!  So back to an ankle brace, anti-inflammatory pills (and to think that I had just finished the last antibiotic this morning!) and staying quiet.

Afterwards we headed to the train station to change my housemate’s ticket – she was to have returned to her home today as well as see about cancelling my trip to Germany this weekend – then the pharmacy, etc.   

I was to have gone up to the mountains to clean out from my 6-month rental, but now we will do it together tomorrow. Thus it is that we will manage to get in our automn adventure, I just wish that this one wouldn’t have involved an actual “fall”.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Send in the squirrels

Or the pigs, or anything and everything that might be tempted by acorns. To re-paraphrase
A well-known remark: give me your hungry, your poor, those longing to be FED.

This year we have: not only dozens, nor even hundreds, nor are we so lucky as to have only thousands: I’d swear that it is in the hundreds of thousands!

And if you have no squirrels or pigs to lend, I would suggest some handy crafting projects:
Any shape or form of pad for hot pots and plates; a throw rug of strung together acorns; a wall hanging; a “rug” for after the sauna; a curtain for next summer’s flies, your imagination is the only limit as I have a supply that would allow for any and all such projects.

Or a few to plant in planters so that you can grow your own lovely oak trees!

no pictures were retouched: this is actually how many there are!

Friday, October 25, 2013

On the road…

So many combinations

In the past six weeks I have been “on the road” many ways: alone in my car driving
to the mountains; flying across the Atlantic (and half the world) to attend a family wedding; driving a rental car, accompanied by my younger son and his girlfriend; as a passenger in my sister’s or brother-in-law’s cars; as a passenger in a rental car with other family members; and now again as a passenger in a private car on our way to attend another wedding (thank goodness for housemates who can keep the fort).

As I don’t often get to be driven, I can thoroughly enjoy the possibility of reading,
blogging, correcting manuscripts – the privileges of a passenger. Never mind the often very interesting discussions as well as being able to pay more attention to the passing scenery: taking pictures whilst driving being an activity that is highly frowned upon.

Hmmm… in another life I could be tempted by being rich and having a chauffeur-driven car!

near Wawona, CA

Highway 120

Odometer at one point in a trip

Sonora Pass

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Black boxes and the 3 M’s

Yesterday I accrued yet another black box: you know how some women have several little black boxes with jewelry to go along with their LBDs, well that’s just not me.
In addition to the glass case and the hearing aid case, I am now the proud possessor of the “night guard” case.  Effectively having lost one molar due to clenching my teeth at night, which caused the old filling to finally crack the molar in two, I went to the dentist to discuss saving the other lower molar. If you grind your teeth at night, a special mouth guard-type of dental appliance -- called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint -- may be created to prevent tooth damage Thus I added a black box to my life. Now, instead of having jewelry worth $1’000s, I wear at various times of the day what I am going to label “accessories for a better life” worth just as many thousands.

The three M’s: returning from the dentist I stopped at the doctor’s as I suspected a possible ITU, which was confirmed leaving me with a prescription for antibiotics needing to be filled.  By then it was nearing noon and ever since our return from the mountains, my housemate and I hadn’t really done much shopping, relying instead upon one or the other to propose a solution for lunch agreeable to both.  Thus it was that I came up with Marronniers (the restaurant of choice for most of our outings), McDonald’s (in case anyone felt like “sinning") and Maison, which in French simply means “home, dig something out of the freezer”, but I needed an M so couldn’t use house. Before arriving home I thought of the  Migros (the local grocery store, in a mini mall with a pharmacy) as well.  I asked my housemate which M she wanted to eat at, whereupon she replied Mikado? Manor?... thus quickly adding two more M’s. We now have a week’s worth of places to eat all starting with M, but for yesterday:
We decided that we both were craving hamburgers, so off we went to Les Marronniers (got you there didn’t I?) where we enjoyed the gourmet version of a classic. 
It was truly the best hamburger that I have ever eaten!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Games or…

Butter fingers

Even the adults can play

Although you’d think we had learned better by the time we have raised our own, this weekend my housemate and myself proceeded to fumble, forget or otherwise revert to early childhood.
I “lost” (read didn’t choose to search for) more than one small coin over the past four days.

We spent time (o.k. not saying hours or that would really label us as ready for senile dementia testing) searching for names of various actors, actresses, films, songs and the like: managing to solve ALL.

Spilt glasses, dumped bowls and on-the-floor whatevers: it all was good.

And it only continued once we reached home: Anyone for a good game of pickup sticks?

And, no, I didn't plan to dump the spaghetti

Friday, October 18, 2013


The notes running through my head
were every bit as glorious
as the beauty of the plant bed
on the piano in Grand-Saconnex
a lovely October morning.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Measuring hair…

Or lengths of absurdity

As a baby my hair was wispy fine but fast growing – I have a cute picture at about age two where my mother had curled it in the old method: around ones finger then squash to skull and put a bobby pin across it. That method had the advantage of being able to be slept upon with minimal damage to the head.

As I got older my hair grew: from chin-length in first and second grade to a long, lovely pony tail that accompanied me through third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades. In seventh grade shorter hair and perms arrived to take over my life. One of my very worst pictures is my 8th grade school annual picture: freshly permed I set off for school: it promptly rained and I wasn’t self-assured enough to refuse that my picture be taken. I still have it as a reminder than anything else I could ever do to my hair can never be that bad!

From then on it varied from short to mid-length, to long, back to boy short in 1977 (why do I remember the exact year? Summer photos taken just before I learned that I was pregnant with my first son: my reaction to that hairdo was: it suits my face, but oh what a pinhead on that long, stringy body!)

Short was easy to keep, mid-length impossible – although it looked lovely when I took the 20 years to fix it every morning. For many years I had a great stylist who knew how to not only deal with the wave in the back, but also how to thin my thick hair so that the frizz element wasn’t quite so predominant.

My husband preferred short hair, thus my (to most of my friends and family) somewhat odd decision after his death not to cut it: after all, I had refused to cut it for him, why would I now cut it?  Also, there was nothing easier than the 30 seconds it took to twist it and whip it into a clip at the back of my head.

Then one day it hit me: I am tired of this long (waist length) hair: tired of saying that I can wear it down for special events then never doing so. Since childhood though it had been inculcated in me that one must not do things on a whim, so I waited, one week, two weeks, a whole month then two. Still felt the same way so walked into the hair salon that one of my friends frequents, made an appointment for the day before my birthday (yes, major events are quite often stimulated by birthdays – although why they should be given that importance is a subject for philosophical debate) and off it came.

I won’t bore anyone with the time it took for all my friends and family to find out – that’s subject for a whole other blog – however, it was the reaction of my housemate that was perhaps the most interesting: “hmmm… if I let mine grow, I may even be able to have longer hair than you”.

Recently I had it trimmed and we talked about measuring our current lengths, but she was sick, then I was gone hence it was yesterday when we were seated in a restaurant for lunch that the subject first came up again.

Solution to the “have to known, NOW” ? Whip out our napkins: put top line at middle of the top of our heads, hold flat against head until reaching the end of a hair: compare.
Did it matter that these were red napkins, or that the room was already half full? Heck no, we needed to know and know right then.

We seem to currently have equal lengths. 
What a relief – life can return to normal.

Monday, October 14, 2013

More Sunday “news” or...

Procrastinating until Monday

  • The Swiss Soccer team has won the right to attend the World Cup in Brazil
  • That, yet again, I didn’t win the lottery,
  • That Paul McCartney has brought out another album “NEW”, working with young producers whom he has found exciting, all different in their own way. Some people stay young at heart forever – may we all!
  • That there is another photographer, Sebastiao Salgado, who takes his photos in black and white (Ansel Adams as well as Marcel Imsand’s photos of a shepherd are amongst my favorites). A magnificent exhibition on his 8-year trip around the world in search of the earth’s origins has resulted in “Genesis”, currently at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland until January 5, 2014. Also at the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris – same dates.
  • When the mountains are beautiful – they are beautiful!




When they aren’t, i.e. right now it’s grayer than gray, I head home keeping the picture in my heart.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gleaned from my local Sunday paper

Some affecting only Switzerland as well as others that have the potential for affecting the world.

1) Information about an upcoming vote: Nov.24 the Swiss will vote on the Young Socialists initiative: 1:12 (seeking to limit the top pay in any given company to 12 times that of the lowest pay).
2) On page 33 – Economy section – a small article announcing  that the NSA can still collect telephone meta-data:

October 11, 2013

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Approves Government's Application to Renew Telephony Metadata Program
As indicated by a declassified court order and amended memorandum opinion published by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Sept. 17, 2013, the court authorization requiring the production of certain telephony metadata under the "business records" provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. Section 1861, expires Oct. 11, 2013.

Previously on several occasions, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program. Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, DNI Clapper has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority.

The administration is undertaking a declassification review of this most recent court order.

Shawn Turner
Director of Public Affairs
Office of the Director of National Intelligence

3)   Still under “Economy” that, as of August 1st, 2013 all pharmaceutical companies selling medicines and drugs in the USA have to transmit to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) a list of gifts given to doctors. Called the Sunshine Act, the pharmaceutical industry ‘s largesse towards those who proscribe their medicines will be available in the USA as of the 30th of September 2014. In Switzerland this won’t take place until 2016

And I haven’t even finished reading the paper – amazing what one can learn with a bit of assiduous reading. OK, time to take that walk.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Today’s Trivia

Had coffee with a friend, M, celebrated her birthday today,
Got groceries for sick housemate,
Drove up to the mountains (first snow of the season has left a bundle, fortunately not on my particular bundle so could enjoy the beauty of the alps draped in their first winter mantle),
Checked on landlord – he is finally home after 8 weeks in the hospital,
Unsubscribed from a couple of newsletters,
Clicked the pink button on The Breast Cancer Site to provide funding for mammograms (mailto: )
Played a couple of computer games,
Checked e-mails,

Looking back on all this, I realize that most of it wasn’t “trivia” at all, but very good things happening to very good people (even the housemate is getting better or I wouldn’t have left!).

May your trivia be as validating.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Airport waiting rooms ---

True love.

After a long flight, waiting for my connecting one home I observed the following:
Several women of all ages; one or two businessmen (an early afternoon flight, which meant that most businessmen were either still having meetings or not yet ready to come for the next day’s appointments); several high-school aged persons, presumably school had either not yet started, or they already had a school break; one father and daughter and last, but certainly not least, one middle-aged man holding his sleeping wife.

Why were they there – and so tired – in the middle of the day? Return from a far-away vacation, family reunion? Whatever the reason his allowing her to sleep as comfortably as possible, leaning against him seems to me to have been ordinary love at its best.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Living in suspension…

Or life above the clouds.

Although I hate the jet lag and am not too fond of the long flight either, flying home does have its advantages: almost a day of time suspended from my normal life.

A day for reading a book (yes, a whole book – that flight is long!); for doing several Sudoku puzzles (cut from papers and magazines – somehow could never connect with the little pamphlets); for taking a nap (wishful thinking, wishful thinking, but sometimes I get a cat-nap); for being off-line (to my way of thinking it is not an advantage that the airlines now offer it somewhat – although I do understand the business man’s need to keep on top of upcoming events), in short life in suspension.

Would I want to do it often? No
But occasionally a break from the world is not a bad thing.

stars on the ground

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The life of Riley

As Yosemite Valley emptied, we lingered: the beauty of the meadows un-trampled by
human feet; the trees starting to drape themselves in yellow and the pristine blue skies and fresh air along with an absence of noise (and a ton of cars) made one want to hide out in a tent and get missed for the final count.

Half Dome

Yosemite Valley

We circled the various hotels and lodges, most of which were already shut, talked to a few other tourists who tarried and very much enjoyed a (brother Bob pulled out every time there was even one car behind us) leisurely exit from the park.

Tioga Pass
We had chosen to go out over the Tiago Pass and, although many were closed, we could still pull out occasionally to take in the splendors surrounding us: huge blocks of granite, followed by fields of shale; various pine trees as well as the odd animal (including a coyote in plain daylight); one alpine lake after the other – we had a “picnic” at Tenaya Lake even a couple of burnt logs from the Rim fire as they had managed to stop it from jumping Highway 120.

Coyote at Tuolome Meadows

Tenaya Lake

Stellar Jay
Tufas at Mono Lake

 Going down the other side we enjoyed seeing the Tufa’s ("Tufa is a variety of limestone, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from ambient temperature water bodies." as per of  Mono Lake before traveling north only to turn around and go South when we realized that Mammoth was a lot closer than Tahoe. There we found a Westin hotel, off-season, probably not even half full where, for my joining the Starwood Group, we were able to obtain a two-bedroom, two-bath hotel suite. None of us could remember ever having stayed in such fine surroundings for a very reasonable price.
 After a trip along the coast with Scott and Alexandrine, a wedding in San Francisco at the Presidio,this trip to Yosemite and the Sierras, I truly feel like I am living the life of Riley!

Never fear – reality will set in soon enough as I return home.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Shutdown hasn’t affected the deer.

My brother got off on his hike to Half Dome at 6 a.m.: his wife and I took a more leisurely path.
A day of wandering, taking pictures of the local grey squirrels, a lovely red-headed woodpecker, a family of deer, then two “teenagers” who seemed to be wandering on their own – no mom in sight – the weather was perfect with the air clearer than yesterday.

Park employees are mostly very upset – we, as the lucky few – are enjoying the peace and quiet. Yes, many roads are closed, but there is sufficient food and restaurants in three areas to keep us fed and watered. As the park empties enjoying it with only the deer and other animals, sprinkled with a few humans here and there, makes for an extraordinary trip: one of my best to the park.

Half Dome as seen upon entering the park from the western end.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Warning: un-profound blog

Several months after my husband died when people would ask me how I was doing,
I would reply: “the polite answer, or the truth?”

Yesterday morning when my brother enquired as to my night, I replied short story, or long?

We had arrived in Oakhurst, just outside Yosemite, in the late afternoon and started looking for hotels: ended up in a separate lodge at the Best Western Plus at a good rate as they were full in the hotel itself. Totally acceptable if very 1970s – I should have taken pictures, but some things are better ignored.

We had a lovely meal at El Cid’s Mexican restaurant up the road then returned to plan our next day – two nights in the park – and follow the shutdown news (I posted my feelings on that to Facebook when midnight in Washington D.C. came and went with no progress and what we were personally concerned with came to pass: no parks open).

Off to bed to gird ourselves for the coming days: Turned in at 11 p.m., got up to put on jogging pants at 11.05; I awoke at 4 a.m. and put on jogging jacket (didn’t want to turn on all the lights to find the heating unit – there were no extra blankets handy). Awoke again at 5h30 and contemplated digging out the new down coat, drifted back to sleep until 6.30.  There were some coffee packets, but no creamer at all. At least wi-fi was up and working well so we could follow the saga of the shutdown.

Yosemite saga

Very conflicting information – our final plan was to drive through the park then perhaps go along the California Nevada border: before retiring for the night the plan had been to drive a 100-mile loop then head out across the state for Mendocino (talk about being weather vanes with a change every 5 minutes, we were going full force).

At the park entrance, we were handed a yellow slip of paper specifying that  stopping or parking on roads or in pull outs was strictly prohibited and  that no restrooms or concessions would be open.  The first side road that we came to was barred with “road closed” signs and the restrooms were locked. At the first lookout view of the valley where we stopped, in spite of the yellow instructions, in the process of taking pictures for others and in turn having our pictures taken, we gleaned the fact from someone leaving that restaurants and stores were open on the valley floor. 

We took heart and decided to present ourselves for check-in at Curry Village and see what would happen (we figured that we wouldn’t get a reimbursement in any case so might as well try). We ended up not only being able to check in for the two nights that we had booked, but also being able to get an upgrade and move into a cabin, which cost us less than the original rooms: win, win, and yet another win when we went to have lunch at the Ahwahnee Inn.

Caeser salad at the Ahwahnee

Chocolate torte at the Ahwahnee

Yes, roads are blocked and several pull outs are barricaded, but we spent a wonderful day enjoying Yosemite. Today my brother got up and on the trail to climb Half Dome at 6 a.m. leaving Kathy and I to enjoy the things that are still open.  The park has to be vacated at 3 p.m. tomorrow, which is when we were planned to leave anyway – I truly lead a charmed life sometimes.

Half Dome at sunset

Cabin fire in the Curry Cabin, Curry Village, Yosemite, CA