Friday, January 31, 2014

Irresistible words

I have always loved words – apparently in first grade I returned home from my first day at school telling my mother that I thought it would perhaps take more than just a day to learn to read. Whenever it actually happened I don’t remember, but I do still have the retractable pen that was my gift for having been the student to read the most books that year: 62

I read my way through elementary school, never stopping for weekends or any important event (my books were regularly confiscated – as under the table at meals, under the blankets at night). In Junior High I began writing as we had moved across the ocean and the only way of keeping in touch with the friends that I had known “forever” was pen and paper.

I continued to read, I continued to write – at one point being the editor of the school paper in high school. But always only for myself and my own pleasure.

I still read voraciously, I still write (with inconsistency), I still collect words.

Today’s Word-a-day is totally irresistible: bumfuzzle

As in: let me bumfuzzle you even more than you already are.
As in: did that sentence bumfuzzle you ?
As in politicians are masters of the bumfuzzling speech.

Don’t you just love it? Bumfuzzle, bumfuzzle, bumfuzzle, rolls off the tongue,
sounds fun to the ear, even slighty naughty – let’s all go out and bumfuzzle someone today.

The more prosaic “to confuse” simply no longer cuts it. I am from now on going
to bumfuzzle my world.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

If only I could...

My housemate emailed me yesterday: “When you use the microwave for the next few times can you tell me please what and how long it takes to warm/cook.“

My answer was: “If only I could…Here we were, the 28th of January... no nerve problems, no sprained ankles, no immediate disasters that I am aware of in between friends or family, no health problems (that I know of), in short had spent every night safely tucked up in my own bed with no major problems.
At 20h00 I went to warm up my soup to enjoy whilst watching The Chase and Dinner Date. Turned oven on - turned dial - nothing unusual... until I took the cup out and it was still stone cold.
Retried, checked plug, checked spark plugs in the cellar. Micro-wave came on so electricity not the issue, but NOTHING worked – not the micro-wave bit, nor the grill, nor the convection.
Looked up the guarantee (Nov.2009 purchase) so pulled it out of it's hole this morning and started with the hunt by first checking the Migros Vésenaz - nothing I want; checked Manor Vésenaz, again nothing; returned via the Cercle de l'Agriculture - no micro-waves. Have done some on-line research (nothing either - not easy to find out what any store has and believe me I checked them all, so instead of doing tax prep or something more intelligent,
at 11 a.m. I left home to find a new micro-wave Arghhhhhhhhhhh

Arghhhhhh - will I find what I want? The Size I need? Without it's becoming the holy grail? “

Guess what – it did turn into the Holy Grail. First stop, one of my favorite DIY stores where I could also get a quick lunch and check a few other items – one that might have done if I found nothing else.  As the original was from our Coop store I then moved on to that shopping mall – nothing. Around a couple of blocks to another electronics store – nothing that combined the features of the old one: back into town where I parked in the under-the-lake car park as I figured if the old store didn’t have something, there was another major electronics store not far.  Lo and behold they actually had this year’s version of my old one.
Price had gone up $10 in the intervening 4 + years – and I was able to pay all but that difference in accumulated points!

Getting a 30+ pound  box to the car park was another challenge – managed at the expense of my shoulders, but managed.

So all is well that ends well and I can again have hot soup.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Keeping up with the Joneses – my version

Who knows why this phrase popped into my head – I mean, yes my microwave oven died last night – but replacing it shouldn’t really have anything to do with keeping up with the neighbors or anyone else: I simply need to find the same one again as I really liked this and it was perfect for my life.  So, of course, I will find that 5 years later that model is no longer existent and I’ll have to find something else. But still, I digress so back to the original phrase.

My take on this is not the usual one, which was reflected in the Keeping up with the Joneses comic strip that ran in many U.S. newspapers from 1914 to 1958 by Arthur R. (Pop) Morand. The strip chronicled his experiences living in suburbia and the way we tend to measure our worth by what others have or don’t have.

No, I got to thinking about all those lovely friends and acquaintances with whom we would like to “keep up” in the sense of keeping in touch with them.  Maintaining relationships on the familial level takes work, something of which we are more or less aware: however, how many of us realize that it is also up to us to take that step that keeps us in touch with our friends, be they close or only casual acquaintances. 

I have people whom I touch base with perhaps only once or twice a year; others where we (due to distance) only have an e-mail relationship (which in turn can vary from once a year to once a month, to sporadic); yet others (the old car-pool group) where we make an effort to get together once a month throughout the school year, although the children that we car-pooled back then are long gone from home, many with families of their own; then there are the closer circles, some of sporadic meetings, others more regular; getting even closer there are the few that one tries to see once a week.

Be they old, medium or of short duration, all these relationships are worth keeping up with as they are the true pleasure of life; they are the frosting on the cake, the butter in the spinach as the French would say.

So I’ll keep on trying to keep up with not only the Joneses (actually don’t know any) but also the Smith’s, the Muller’s, the  Mayers or Meiers, the Jeannerets(none of whom are actually known to me) and all my other friends, far or near, young or old, new or from many years.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Where I like it…

On the tops of the surrounding mountains with just a dusting
Trailing down into the valley.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Adieu l’ami

Salvan 23 janvier 2014
 Enfant du pays,
Nous t’avons quitté,
Là où tu es né,
Resté sur « ta » montagne,
Ouvert au monde néanmoins.
Ancré dans la pierre
Tu possédais « du caractère »
La force, la volonté ;
Tu manifestais l’amitié
Envers petits ou âgés.
Ton souffle s’en est allé,
Ton âme nous accompagne
Pour l’Eternité

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DIY and the intelligent

Now I do not consider myself totally without mental faculties, regardless of what my family or friends may think at times.

However, faced with a booklet of pictorial directions on how to put together my latest purchase from IKEA I must admit that either something is lacking in my mental processes or something is lacking in their pictures.

I purchased a “night table” recently as the one my most frequent guest had put into that in-accessible and low spot by the bed in the attic was too encumbering and blocked the other cupboards of recent fame (i.e. blog on shuffling things around in the attic!).

A few days later opened the box: first step, make sure that everything was there as often things are missing – lucky this time. Open up “instructions”; try and figure out pictures; re-try and figure out pictures; start only to have to back track; mount the four rails; leave for a day.

Second day, second attempt: get four “posts” in correctly – discover that some of the holes were not meant to be used yet, back track.

Third day, put together top and bottom, including all the stabilizing screws – progress being made.

All throughout this I was again shuffling cupboards as well.

Fourth day: drawers – easy, as well as nailing on the back to the top part (now they are supposed to supply everything that one needs to put it together however I did have to add a hammer and a screwdriver as the one utensil they gave didn’t do it all – got off lightly compared to some occasions).

Fifth day – DONE.
The easiest part of the whole process? Pushing it into its new place.

I no longer say Do it Yourself, but rather “Duh, Intelligent You” – you got it together in spite of the instructions!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

13’140 Days of love

Sounds so much more important than just its equivalent in years.

Any mother will know exactly what I am talking about – that wonderful day when you first discovered the child that you had carried for nine months; the baby that developed close to your heart; that wonderful bundle of joy that became part of your family.

From babyhood, through toddler hood, on to teenager “hood” (and believe me sometimes there was really that element of “the hood”), then young adulthood and finally full-blown adulthood.

Not sure how it all happened, but the results of 13’140 days (or 315'359 and 14 hours at this precise point in time) of love in the case of this first son are truly marvelous: a human being who cares for those around him as well as for the entire world (o.k. so sometimes I play down the soap opera of this environmental fan, but if he doesn’t worry about the state of the environment, who will?). A young man who is loyal to his friends, involved in his business of spreading the word about maintaining and cleaning up the world’s environment, and supportive with his whole heart of his family.

May there be many more days of love!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Those “to dos”

and trivia.

As I wrote the last paragraph of yesterday’s blog, I had the fleeting thought: oh no, this has set me up for now "having" to do something to report as to whether or not I actually did or didn’t “do” Ah the way we require too much of ourselves.

What it did was free me from working on anything smacking of book keeping, tax reporting, assembling of documents for administrative items. Instead I headed towards the attic and re-shuffled some of those famous cupboards. Out with all the old pieces and bits of curtains, sheets and cloth that I had left in the one cupboard for insulation: in with the leftover pillows and linens from my housemates daughter. Insulation effect the same and I freed up a cupboard to use for some of the other items hanging around as a result of my son’s return home (o.k. he didn’t – he left for South America subletting his flat – so it’s just the “stuff”) and my having disposed of a bed in same said attic.

6 sacks of cloth for the container in the village, too bad these "clever bags" didn't actually do the work!

I face the week and Monday with a small feeling of accomplishment, freeing me to attack all that paper work.

But before: a few bits of “trivia” to entertain you should you too find yourself in need of knowledge that has nothing to do with anything needing accomplishing today or this week:

From my Trivia Calendar: "What is a young frog called when it grows out of its tadpole stage but has not yet reached adulthood?"A froglet" …wouldn’t it be fun to apply the same to our children: no more teenagers, but rather “childrenlets” or “adultlets”.

From an old Maxine calendar: “Considering the hectic pace of life these days, it’s amazing how many people still find time to annoy me.”

"Never confuse motion with action". -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

To be or not to be…

Is not the question today, but rather “to do, or not to do”.

I grew up in a religion – Seventh-Day-Adventists – where the “Sabbath” was held in esteem: a day dedicated only to worshiping, a day where one was to not engage in any of the normal activities of the working week. Not as strict as some where one shouldn’t even touch a light switch, the hospitals still functioned, albeit with as little personnel as possible and no planned testing, surgeries, etc. As a child and young adult this meant that we were "legally" free from household tasks, free from school homework. For me personally it meant that although I wasn’t supposed to read novels or textbooks, I could read bible stories or pursue the cross-checking of any phrase considered to be of “spiritual” orientation – in short to continue reading. Or we could go hiking, or play card games, of course only those with birds, flowers or biblical characters, but what’s the difference to a child? 

The idea that we could ignore with a clear conscience anything even remotely connected to our daily obligations was freeing and defininetly more important in our minds than the thought that we were "forbidden" from doing something.

I have often in adulthood wished that I could get back that feeling of keeping a day apart from the day-to-day tasks – without success.

Everyone once in awhile I try and let a day go – to not look at my “to do” list, just enjoy a book, a concert, a movie. And even less frequently I actually manage. Will today be such a day, or will I accomplish even more for having given myself permission not to “do” anything?


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Life's little challenges

How many things can go wrong in one single day?
I stopped counting. Yesterday was just one of those days where every little task
came with its own set of difficulties; where every trip seemed longer than the last; where every phone call came up with nothing; where every time I opened a piece of mail
It was another bill (unexpected) or bad news; where half the e-mails brought their
own set of “have to do this now” including getting back to the lawyer about the renter who is, yet again, missing and still thinking that I will, yet again (this has a history of about 10 years) compromise.

Guess what: we all have our breaking point.    And I wasn’t far short of mine.

Today should have been a new and better day. The good news is that it was somewhat.
After and hour of searching for a paper that I needed for the client with it no where to be found (taking into account that yesterday also saw me cleaning out about 20 separate folders looking for the papers that I needed for the lawyer, it could have gotten stuck in between any of them – argh….), and having gone through everything that I had touched yesterday – I had written the client an e-mail to send another copy, when I had one last thought of where to check: in between younger son’s rental lease. One thing found. And fortunately had not sent the e-mail.

That left however the scarf and the calendar. Now if I have more than one scarf, I only have the one pocket calendar and trying to live without it, even this early in the year would have truly been a nightmare. Thought and thought, checked the usual places then it hit me: yep, the last place I used it was in the flat yesterday when I was looking up phone numbers…

Fortunately the renters were amenable to my going to the flat to recuperate both objects. But it was another trip.

My housemate talked about the stars having not been aligned yesterday: I personally think that someone gathered them all up, tumbled them around as fast and as crazily as possible then dumped them helter.skelter – none anywhere near where they would have been useful to me. Just like pick-up sticks or spilt spaghetti.

So back to my motto: tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shades of gray streaked with blue or…

Finding the light where one can.

Some of my readers may think that I have a thing about the weather: I do.
When one lives in a place where sometimes the sun doesn’t appear for what seems like months on end (generally from November through April if it’s a bad year), one does tend to fixate a bit on the current state of the weather: shades of gray become interesting; a possible lifting of the fog a topic to be discussed ad nauseum (what else is a blog for?); and the potential of sun a great event. The possibility of snow would be welcomed about now as we have had unusually warm days, more rain than normal and in general even taking apart the shades of gray is less attractive.

So one looks for the odd brighter moment, such as the one below: I was out walking in the natural reserve that Reuters contributed to in return for the land to build their headquarters last weekend. The odd bits of blue made a lovely contrast to the ambient shades of gray.

Recreation of the former swamps along the Seymaz river

Monday, January 13, 2014

Felicity and...

one of the nicest phrases

Felicitous is an adjective meaning well-suited or pleasing coming from the Latin “felix” (happy). Although we are Monday, which is not normally such a day, I do enjoy opening up my inbox on emails as I usually have the following (very felicitous) phrase from Google Calendar: you have no events scheduled today”.

It always cheers me up although I have a foolproof way of making sure that I always get that message: never put a date into Google Calendar!

Well, so someday maybe I should start, but for now I love getting that phrase and even more so at the start of what will be a very busy week, full of upheavals, tasks and simply living.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mythic, gorgeous, unusual or...

Gifts that are precious

If I had to choose one word to describe my belongings, my life or gifts that I receive, it would be "eclectic”.

Of course being me, I had to consult the online dictionary:  Love some of the definitions and synonyms of the word itself, which all also fit my life: assorted, miscellaneous, heterogeneous, indiscriminate, kitchen-sink, magpie, mixed, motley, patchwork, piebald, promiscuous, raggle-taggle, ragtag, varied

I received over the past month, in addition to Christmas gifts, a tea towel from a former neighbor in the USA – bought during her trip to England after having visited me this summer; 

from one of my best friends a lovely hand-painted ceramic espresso cup with saucer for my afternoon coffee (bought on a Christmas market “just because it was beautiful”; 

Note the mice on both the cup and the saucer.

and just yesterday have finally, for the first time in my life, received a mythic perfume in thanks from one of the sons of a friend with whom we have exchanged gifts since the boys (on both sides) were born.

Totally in opposition to “normal” or “same ‘ol, same ‘ol” of yesterday: it’s all welcome.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Same ‘ol, same ‘ol or

Boring old “normal”

OK, so the “devil made me do it”. I read a posting on Facebook from someone who wrote that they didn’t really go for the “normal” and how boring “same ‘ol, same ‘ol” was – which of course made me decide to figure out how many things are wonderful as “normal” or “same ‘ol, same ‘ol”.

  • The sun coming up in the morning (I for one would not do well in a land where half the winter is only dark and half the summer only light. I like a mix
  • The seasons: same reasoning, I love having 4 of them even if they do sometimes seem to get turned around (i.e. we are having spring in winter right now where I live)
  • Getting to eat every day – sometimes even three times: nothing boring about getting enough (o.k. mostly too much) in both quality and quantity
  • Having a roof over my head: love the sheer boredom of spending several nights in a row in my own bed
  • Travels: to family and friends – or even the “adventures” with my housemate: that’s my “normal” and boring it ain’t!
  • Same ‘ol family: love them all – love getting to know distant cousins better, love every time I get to see my kids, or sister or brother or nephews, or…. You get the idea?
  • Same ‘ol friends: ah the comfort of knowing someone well enough to be able to talk even without complete sentences; to know someone well enough to be quiet with them, or call on them if you have need.
  • Same ‘ol car: o.k. so the current one is not very old, but my past three were good for 12 years, 14 years, 23 years and 14 years: love knowing how to drive something “same ‘ol, same ‘ol”, knowing the quirks, knowing what might be wrong if there is a problem
  • Same ‘ol “normal” health – have had enough health crises so love the boredom of no crises
Same ‘ol life: I’ll take it!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Maxine says it all and miscellany

And here we are only the 9th day of the year.
Work bombards me from all sides, yet I have chosen to make a point of relationships this year and have thus been occupied with coffees, lunches, dinners and outings.

My mind flies in all directions:
  • From– I have a fine collection of subjects needing treating, but only one for this collection of miscellany (kept from last November): amaranthine, as in  - “as long as I live, tasks will be amaranthine”. Just in case that doesn’t suffice to give you a clue as to its meaning – it is an adjective meaning both unfading or everlasting, as well as referring to the color deep purple-red.
  • From my new “trivia” calendar : today’s question is what is the record high number of points scored by a losing team in a National Basketball Association game? Answer:184, in triple overtime in December 1983. The Denver Nuggets lost 186-184 to the Detroit Pistons in the highest-scoring game in NBA history. Pop that one out at some cocktail party and I bet that the conversation would come to a screeching halt.
  • From an old Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff calendar: “Spend a moment every day thinking of someone to thank. Gratitude and inner peace go hand in hand.” Starting to calm down already.
  • From the local newspaper, finally saw a graph that clearly explains why we can be warm in Switzerland whilst the East Coast of the USA freezes, counter-clockwise pressure system over the Atlantic which is pushing cold Artic air down through the East Coast of North American, swirling over the Atlantic and bringing up warm air from the South to us. Planned to start breaking up at the end of this week. Meanwhile we can actually have coffee out on a terrace, wander the town without jackets – or at least the jacket is open. Save on our heating bills and all sorts of other lovely benefits.  It would however behoove us to remember that nothing lasts forever and that we will surely have cold, winter days before we see any true signs of spring.

So having divested myself of some of the flaky, un-related thoughts, I can now go back to concentrating and get on with the book keeping – arghhhhhhh.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rejuvenation – the easy way!

Feeling jaded, cynical, a bit “over-the-hill”. Stuck in your mounting years? Forget the botox,

forget the plastic surgery, never mind anything costly, I have found the fountain of youth: in the youth themselves.

I am lucky enough to know a large variety of persons and benefit from a great circle of friends of all ages.  If I find those 20 years older than myself ever so knowledgeable – and some of my most fascinating friends are in their 80s and even 90s – if you want energy, hope in the future and a positive faith in what might become of the planet – hang out with the younger generation.

On New Year’s Eve we ranged from 20 to 91 and every age in between. One could discuss engineering, travel, literature, agriculture, culture, studies, etc. (and that in no way encompasses all that was discussed). I didn’t notice any lack of conversation in the 6 hours of the evening.

Then I had the pleasure of being invited for dinner with young adults. What a party, in all the positive terms of the word: stimulating (and sometimes confrontational) conversation, great (and healthy) food, and a young child just learning to walk. Now, my friends – and even acquaintances – know that I have a “thing” for babies and young children: it’s perhaps not a compliment to me that they look at me and laugh, but, hey the pleasure of making anyone smile is one that I’ll take every time, regardless of the why. This 1-year-old grinned, let go of the table and “walked” the two steps into my arms: I’m in love.

Then her parents, my own two sons and a very close friend proceeded to discuss everything under the sun – and some things in the universe. Hard tearing myself away, but I had to drive all the way back across town. The French have a saying: “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The concerns of young adults today are still the age-old concerns: how to be productive in their careers (or how to find a career/job), how to have a happy life, how to raise their children to be decent people, but they have added one that turns up perhaps more often than in my younger years: how to help the planet and others.

It is all to their honor and I can highly recommend an evening with other generations if you want to improve your own life and “stay young”.

Thanks M&D, S, S, D and Sophie for a wonderful evening - I can continue to avoid surgery as only accumulating laugh lines and proof that I am still living.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gray, grey, whatever: go away!

I may have mentioned recently how our gray weather weighs on us for about 6 months of the year. This year it seems to be bothering me even more.  When I originally thought about it back in early December, the cold wind “la bise” had come up and that usually chases it away, meanwhile I am much more aware (a good thing) of any and all color wherever it may be found
A still yellow or orange leaf, Christmas garlands, a building with a red ribbon, anything with color, including our trash bags, which are yellow.

winter 2012/2013

Need all the help we can get today as it has rained non-stop since yesterday. So although they following photos are from before Christmas, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for any other spots of light or color in the gloom!