Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sometimes you just have to “reset”.

As a normal – more or less – human being, I have a love of the tried and true, the usual, the ordinary, the ho-hum everyday sticking to the schedule or reason or reasoning. Change, good or bad, is to be avoided.

However, occasionally someone or something will work at me enough to lever me out of that state of being: this time it was my browser.

If I didn’t much notice it for the odd search, it was fairly obvious when I changed tabs and even more so when it came to playing the occasional computer game (well, if you believe that you don’t know me!). It was getting to the point that I wasn’t even playing any computer games as simply too slow.

At first I checked my extensions, my add-ons, emptied my desktop trash, my iPhoto trash, and all the other trash cans (and there are a few – why can’t someone develop a communal trash can for the computer so that there is only one place to empty? Are you listening geeks?). I seriously considered offloading some of my numerous files and it got so bad that I re-started my “I-need-to-get-a-new-computer: which one?” search!

Whilst reading the what to do when your browser is too slow, I read that sometimes simply going back to the original configuration helps: “reset to default”. Oh the trepidations… but finally it was one slow game too many and I thought, what the heck, can’t use it as it is, may as well take a chance.

 I hit that button and lo and behold am back up to my usual scores.

It seems to me that this is perhaps a homily on life as well: we spend so much time trying to avoid having to re-start a relation, re-configure a computer, replace that worn out shirt (but it was a favorite, never mind the hole at the bottom of the hem, no one will notice), replace the “on its last legs” piece of machinery when we would probably be a lot better off simply taking a chance and hitting that “reset” button.

Hmm…. Now if I can figure out how to set the physical body one to say 20 years ago, that would be one, which I would willingly take a chance on! I know, I’ll click on this one.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The world is so much smaller than it used to be:

In one 24-hour period I woke up in my small French-speaking village; went to an international airport and had more typically French fare for breakfast; flew an hour into the middle, flat part of Germany; had “Butterbrötchen” a sandwich, for lunch followed by another under-an-hour flight to a port city where I proceeded to enjoy the local beer offerings.
Dinner was in an Iranian restaurant amongst Persians who had all attended the German school in Teheran. Playing on the TV in the background was the World Cup Switzerland against France.
What will tomorrow bring ?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It’s a tough life or...

Life on the receiving end of package deliveries.

Now I know that we all buy things from a certain on-line mail-order company: A……com not to mention names: even I do so, usually ordering from the UK as a larger choice in English books and DVDs although I have friends who say that Germany is just as good and if I do a search, my search engine will allocate me to France as that is my normal language.

From the UK my packages (and the last 20 of my son) arrive via our local postal service, which, other than the problem of actually having to go to the village to pick them up (I have a PO box so nothing is delivered), works fairly well. One time in one hundred there are customs and processing fees to pay, but that is rather hit and miss so not a total upset.

The other delivery companies though make my life miserable. They show up, ring the gate bell (or not, I swear) then leave within seconds.  The second time (sometimes one gets lucky and they leave a paper the first time), they arrive at the same time and leave one a message saying that they’ll be back the next day at the same time (like if you weren’t there the first day at that time, you are likely to be there the second day?).

Yes, you can go online and try and change the delivery time and date, but their routes are usually not that variable.  I have been known to get them to tell me where the truck currently is and dash up to get the package myself.

Today, however, none of that was working: the slip was in the mail slot, no date, no time, and no remarks as to a possible delivery, just the notification number (which as it turns out, isn’t even the order number!).

As this is a birthday gift ordered by my housemate for me, it was really in my interest to figure out how to obtain the package!
The telephone number that she had been given was a USA toll-free number, but by going on line and with the info number (remember not the tracking number) I was able to see where it had been: Philadelphia to Cologne, Germany, to Lyon, France to Geneva and the times at which they attempted to deliver it: Monday 12:10, Tues. 12:02 so I opened up the gate and hoped for the best. Of course I only did that when my housemate called at 12:40 and missed the truck which according to later information had been here at 12:35!

But the website also had a Swiss toll-free number: progress is being made. I duly called that and was offered a choice of German, French or Italian as languages. OK, then a choice of 1, 2, 3 or 0 (what they corresponded to I can’t remember). When finally I had a person online he was very disagreeable: amongst others, “you chose how your package would be sent, so you need to contact that company”… so I gave up temporarily.

Waited with open gate (and bated breath) but of course no truck.

After lunch, a couple more telephone calls to other persons (some much more enjoyable) I felt able to re-tackle the problem. Called the number again, went through my language choice, my “problem” choice and got a live person… who was very professional, apologizing profusely for the original contact (profusely, but not in an unprofessional or smarmy manner), and proceeded to try and help me get my package: one line that I recall was “I will help you get your delivery to your home at a time and date that is convenient FOR YOU”!  In the end – and with his lovely attitude – we did settle on a 3-hour period Friday where I will make myself available at home for this delivery.

Didn’t endure me any more to that particular delivery company (Uxx again not to mention names), but at least the second person is to be lauded in his handling of an irate person!

I know that I don’t yet have the package, but I now have a better feeling that I might actually get it before it returns to the USA.

Another positive: my birthday is still 6 weeks away! So we have wiggle time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Keeping one’s eyes on the ground isn’t…

Always a negative!

I know, since childhood we are exhorted to “keep your eyes on the goal” (that presumably being at eye level), “look up” (from your computer, your book, whatever), “look to the sky” (the clouds, the stars, the moon).

This is not always prudent: in my case experience (painful, very painful) has taught me that if I am upright on my two feet and either one of them is in the process of moving (and sometimes just thinking of moving) that I had best keep my eyes on the ground around them.  That one slick leaf, mossy rock, turned up carpet, two-inch lip on the sidewalk, the one stone on a flat surface, that piece of flint (o.k. I exaggerate, but only somewhat) will have me wind milling with my arms (gotten very good at that and there is some small satisfaction in the fact that my balance is pretty good, I usually only fall once in the 100 times that I trip, etc.).

However, sometimes this turns out to be a very happy experience. Look at all of the things that I would have missed yesterday had I been looking around me or up (and yes I do look around and up, just try and remember to come to a complete stop when I do so).

So, keep your eyes to the ground occasionally – you’ll see things that you would have missed otherwise.
Highway of ants

not sure what it is, but sure is pretty

usually it's the bees, but these beetles seem to like it also

iridescent bugs

local butterfly

I'll hop, if you do.

cricket, laying low

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mondays are best…

In the mountains!

looking towards Le Luisin

Fluffy white clouds hover over the mountain peaks; the temperature is cool, but not cold – ideal for walking; there’s no one else on the paths; the birds are chirping their little heads off. Imagine, I woke up in a bad mood and here we are after a good walk almost euphoric.

looking towards the Trient Glacier

cairns are very popular

Many rewards this morning as for the first time in two years I felt able to hike back up to the avalanche retainer (last year there were simply too many sprained ankles and working back up to a half hour was doing well: this morning it was an hour and a half – half of which was uphill); lots of insects out and about and the best reward of all: a mouthful of summer!

wild strawberries

Some Mondays are simply perfect.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Retention basins also need cleaning!

I have always been intrigued by the “dam” in Les Marécottes never really knowing what it’s function was, until after having walked around it yesterday and seeing the SBB/CFF signs and thus realizing that it belonged in part to the Swiss train system I became even more interested.

Turns out that it is a minor retention basin for the lower electrical complex in Vernayaz, one that in turn is linked to the whole Emosson hydrology complex.  The dam at Emosson collects waters from several different mountains and rivers in both Switzerland and France. As the Swiss train company owns part of it, it gets it’s bit first then the remainder is divided in between France and Switzerland in equal parts.
Anyone interested in the more technical aspects (and who can read French) will find this link of great help:

All that because when I took a quick walk late yesterday afternoon I noticed that half of it was empty and the other half very low: I had to go and see and as best I could deduct they were cleaning the silt from the bottom of the basin. As this water accumulates unfiltered and by the difference in altitudes it is easy to see that there would be silt, just didn’t realize how much!

And the ubiquitous shopping trolley… no matter where one goes, there was someone to dirty the site.

Full moon and sunset

Of course the blog – and photos – from the 11th referring to the full moon turned out to be incorrect: the full moon wasn’t until – appropriately – Friday the 13th.

Weather conditions were not clear enough to see the rising full moon, but the sunset was even more spectacular – like it was using its own spotlights.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Serendipity or…

Those magic moments, which sometimes happen due to a happy set of circumstances.

moon rising through the sunset - direction Mont Blanc

Last night I was lucky enough to enjoy one of them: a good friend returned from visiting her sister with her dad – who will turn 92 next Tuesday – and invited me up for an informal meal. Out on the back terrace a slight breeze, cloudless skies and no direct sun we enjoyed doing a comparison taste-test as to smoked salmon: Norwegian or Scottish? Looked different, but the textures were the same: one smelled smokier, the others' smokiness came at the end of the bite. It was a toss up we decided.   

Chat ranged from everything to nothing, from the absent children (and her spouse currently on a business trip: tourists are known to do 5 countries in 5 days, but some businessmen have to do the same: we certainly had it better), to siblings, to world events then back to food – nothing solved, no big complaints, just an exchange of information and the best of senses. Sparkling white wine, a delicious fresh bread, salted butter – a repast for queens and kings, which is how we felt in the moment.  The entire thing topped off with a crème brûlée and the rising full moon.


Couldn’t have planned it, couldn’t have enjoyed it more than we did!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Taking it easy, if only for a day.

Sometimes one just needs to take the day off on a holiday!                     

Having never had a full-time 9 to 5 job I really have also never known the pleasures of a true vacation or a day off where one doesn’t even think of the office. Of course there have been many other advantages: the possibility of working all the hours of the day when one has a project to finish; the possibility of working on a Sunday or holiday then taking off a half-day in the middle of the week; one is never bored as always somewhat aware of “keeping in touch with the client”.

But sometimes, very rarely and thus all the more appreciated, I have been able to convince myself that since the rest of the world isn’t working, that I don’t need to either!

Yesterday was such a day: Whit Monday to the British, Pentecost to the catholic European countries, my American friends have no equivalent, but then we have no President’s Day either so things even out.

I left my mountain retreat after a quick walk in the forest: summer has struck with a vengeance and so suddenly that most of us were unprepared – hard to get in the hot mode when you have had the heat on the day before! Anyway walked early as the only option and even then it was already 27°C (80°F) at 1’100 meters (3’600 feet) just before 9 a.m.!

Yvorne, VD, Switzerland
On my way home stopped to have lunch with a friend in a small Swiss town known for its white wine: Yvorne.  Couldn’t believe that I had actually never even driven through it although it is well known in wine circles, but I hadn’t.

Found a lovely terrace, had a lovely meal as there was a slight breeze and good awnings then meandered leisurely along the French side home.  A great little holiday: must try it more often.

Entry to Yvorne, Switzerland

Very appropriate decoration at the entry to Yvorne

Notice the seafood in honor of my relatives who are fishing in Alaska.

The carpaccio of beef was just as delicious looking.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The other “locals”

Up in my mountains I am somewhat less sociable than at home (only have a couple of friends up here and several acquaintances, but the coffees, lunches, dinners and in general fun social life that I enjoy at home takes a back seat as I recuperate from said social life).

On my many walks I have learned to look for the “other” locals – and if it’s about a living creature these would be my companions.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


I have seen the sun set many times in my life – and even knowingly observed it more than once. 

I have seen it set over the Pacific Ocean
Little River Inn, CA 2011

I have seen it set over the upper part of Lac Léman
Clarens, Switzerland 2011

 I have seen it set over the Mediterranean

Argelès, France 2011

I have seen it set in Iceland


I have seen it set over the Baltic Sea

Poel, Germany

but none of those were more beautiful than the sunset down on the lake in front of my house the other night!

Léman Lake, June, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Une histoire d’amour…

Les Marécottes et moi.

On dit que « le bonheur est dans le pré » (Jules Jean Paul Fort dans « Le Bonheur ») mais pour moi il est aussi sur les sentiers, dans les rivières, au vu des montagnes qui entoure une petite station Suisse en Valais : Les Marécottes (souvent décrit comme Salvan/Les Marécottes).

Il y a 37 ans depuis que j’ai découvert Les Marécottes: mon mari et moi (enceinte de 5 mois!) avions accompagné une amie qui connaissait le coin.  Cette première fois nous sommes monter à pied depuis Van d’en Haut au lac de Salanfe; avons dormi à l’Hôtel de l’Avenir et avons mange une fondue à l’Hôtel du Mont-Blanc.

Nous sommes revenus seuls et après avec enfants.

Nous passions au moins une semaine ici toutes les années: j’ai continue seule après le décès de mon mari.  Au bout de deux ans j’ai commencé à chercher un petit coin où je pouvais louer à la saison et suis tombée sur des propriétaires adorables.

Je reviens maintenant pour la saison d’été : je navigue au gré de mes invités à la maison, de petits voyages ainsi que lorsqu’il y a trop de personnes à la maison. J’ai amené de bons amis : c’est un havre de paix et d’air frais.


une des nombreuses fontaines
fraises sauvage