Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What a difference a day makes…


On our way to Charleston, SC we stopped at Little River Canyon walking leisurely down the sunny path to the Little River Falls.




Yesterday we again stopped, never imagining what the changes would be!




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A light in the distance or


Lighthouses and storms

My sister(in-law: we promoted her to sister status many years back, but for outsiders it would be weird to have my “sister” married to my brother) has a love of lighthouses so during our travels on the Atlantic coast we have made it a point to check them out.  A couple of days ago we went in search of the local one, then didn’t even bother to take a picture as it was truly the ugliest lighthouse ever: a kind of chicken-coop like structure on top of a 60 foot wooden square box – I’ve seen prettier telephone poles!

Today before leaving the coastal areas we first drove through Hilton Head Island to check out Hilton Head itself. Saw many convertible Mercedes and BMW’s, but the closest that we could get to a beach was a for-pay parking lot so decided that it needed more time to get its true value and left.

One last sight to see: Tybee Lighthouse some twelve miles outside of Savannah, Georgia.

And now, ready or not, we head back into the interior and into the storm. Will we need a light to reach the other end?


Monday, April 28, 2014

Distant Relatives or…


Relative distances?

Sure does make a difference in how one is thinking when one pronounces that phrase: what most pops into the mind is relatives that are second, third, fourth cousins - or even further removed.

In my family’s case it is simply distance as a numerical measure of how far apart one person is from another.  We are three siblings, each with two sons (and as on my husband’s side there were also only boys, we sisters-in-law stick together!). One of the nephews is married – yeah. Our current living locations:

California, USA, 4
Alaska, USA, 1
Washington, USA 1
Alabama, USA, 2
Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1
Switzerland, Europe, 1
Peru, South America 1
Niger, Africa, 1

So it’s pretty cool that we were all together in California last September and fun that in the past few weeks the one in Peru and the one in the state of Washington, USA found themselves at the same time in the same city in South America. Currently the one living in Switzerland and the two living in Alabama have just met one of the ones living in California for lunch in Columbia, South Carolina.

One could deduce that we’re a wandering family, but that, for all that, we are family and no distance is too great when it comes to getting together!

The phrase “I’d travel to the ends of the earth for you” certainly is true in our case: I love it!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cute Alligators and Sea Shell Messages


Now everyone is wondering… has she completely lost it?
But, I swear, there is such a thing as a cute alligator – perhaps won’t go so far as to say as cute as an alligator as that wouldn’t win me any friends, but, seriously, they were cute!

Yesterday we had chosen to drive up to Magnolia Plantation north of Charleston (http://www.magnoliaplantation.com/.  Once there we wisely chose the gardens, the tram tour and the swamp tour. Whilst waiting for our tram tour we visited the petting zoo. Patrick and the tram tour were a delight: we circled through and around the perimeter with many an animal and bird sighting, never mind the plethora of turtles.  In one of the pond/swamps there were several baby alligators visible. Eighteen inches long, laying in the green of what is called duckweed if I recall correctly.  Their future will not be so rosy as with their mother there to protect them only about 10% survive and she had been shot several days before leaving them basically with no chance against larger alligators, snakes, the larger birds etc.



The tram ride was so thorough and we had seen enough of the swamps so that we chose to turn in the swamp tickets and simply wandered the gardens.: beautiful place, well worth a visit.



Back in our rental home, we had a wonderful time observing the local animal activity, including this time a somewhat larger alligator, which came out of the water and onto the lawn of the house directly across the inlet from us. Not so cute.




This morning on my beach walk I of course looked for shells, but certainly didn’t expect what I found.


Hmm… a question mark for my day’s plans? For my life? Intriguing this message from the sea.


Friday, April 25, 2014

On the road…


So many combinations

Fall 2013, on the way to a wedding in Northern France.
 
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.

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!

April 24, 2014  On the road again- headed for Charleston, South Carolina
And again being driven instead of having to do the driving.

Different country, different goal – vacation this time and the desire of the three of us (brother, sister-in-law and myself) to see something that none of us have seen.

I never realized that a great deal of the South (in the USA) is so green. Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama – all are bathed in the mists from the Gulf coast never mind the waterways of the south. So along with the sights out the window, I have read two papers and started a book.

However, the ride, if beautiful and the company great, is long and I have discovered one thing in my two experiences: one gets just as tired of sitting being driven as when one does the driving! 








Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happiness is… or


At least for this moment.

Three smooth flights: all on-time and with sufficient transit allowed to not have to rush to catch the next one (o.k. it made for just as long of a day as going all the way to the West Coast of the USA with only two flights). I didn’t dare say it by the time I was waiting for the last one, but I have rarely had as easy a trip.

Laying vertically after all those flights and a 24-hour day

Seeing the moon out the window over the mountains as I lay in bed.

Waking to see the rising sun out the same windows (guest bedroom has a whole wall of windows looking out over the surrounding mountains: not a road, nor person in sight, only trees and nature. It is hard to sleep under those conditions as one could spend the whole time just enjoying the view.

Being able to get into the walking trousers that I had left behind (see former blogs about recent not-so-much-a-diet as a got-to-come-to-grips-with winter kilos. Now I didn’t say that it is a pretty sight, but at least it was doable.

B & K’s having gone to the trouble of buying me a lemon for my morning drink (o.k. no juicer meant that I had to get creative, but peeling and cutting into chunks and putting through a garlic press certainly did the job: as they say, necessity is the mother of invention); of having also pointed out to me the various coffee options available in the house.  Not my only addiction, but perhaps the best known one is my need for a cup of coffee in the morning and somewhere in between 15:00 and 16:00 in the afternoon.


Taking a walk around the “loop”: my brother’s street circles at the top of Monte Sano (appropriately named meaning as it does “health mountain”). The temperatures were perfect for a light sweatshirt and a brisk walk. Enough low-level up and down for me to feel that I have had a walk: there were birds that I don’t have at home such as red cardinals, robins, but there were other more house sparrow types that I do have; the trees and vegetation is in about the same flux of spring as at home; the streets still quiet.

Knowing that I have three whole weeks to enjoy being here.

Having family and friends who are always willing to house-sit and keep the home front secure.

Happiness is: also tempered, and thus made more precious, by not having Domino to walk with me; thinking of favorite walking spots and missing the beach by my younger sister. Losses make us appreciate even more those who remain, both human and animal.

But this happiness won’t be denied: my current waves of the stuff could warm many a corner if I could only think of a way of canalizing it.

Happiness is: being alive to enjoy it!



Monday, April 21, 2014

Throwing out the Chocolate and


Other Easter heresies

I love Easter and, for those of my family and friends who will be shocked at the following statement, I excuse myself in advance: I love Easter weekend more for the fact that it is our longest guaranteed holiday, than for any religious implications.  It is the only holiday where we have four days in a row each and every year: both Good Friday and Easter Monday are official holidays with not only all governmental offices being closed, but also the banks, stores and shops as well.  Should one need something in an emergency there are stores – both at the train station and at the airport that supply groceries, not to mention the smaller kiosks and service stations – or one can go into neighboring France. Not all cantons do this, but I am grateful that ours does – makes for a lovely, quiet weekend.

But I’m not quite as fond of the accompanying plethora of chocolate!

This year I decided (and no it wasn’t a New Year’s resolution) that I would weigh myself the 1st of each month. January was normal, February and March as well, but although the 1st of April was the same for some reasons I decided to weigh the next Monday – shock of my life – 2 kilos added! I knew that the dress I had worn last fall had seemed tighter when I wore it to the Opera (thus the second weighing), but I mean – really!  And I didn’t recall having overindulged. So it was, “enough is enough” and let’s start by cutting out the munchies (my downfall is in front of the TV in the evening – enough said).
Ooof, this week was down almost a kilo. But it sure has me reinforcing my second rule: which has been in recent years the tendency to eat and drink only that which I genuinely enjoy. There are so many (to my palate) delicious things that why would I waste calories on the not-so-pleasing ones?  Of course exceptions are made for politeness’s sake.

Bless my friends – in case any of you follow this, my apologies (hmm.. seems like I am saying sorry an awful lot in this blog) – I received several Easter bunnies and other chocolate delicacies recently: I found good homes for most of them (including one friend who was overjoyed to get a bunny as she had bought for her children and every one around her and no one had bought her anything: see re-gifting makes us all happy), I did keep one cute critter so that I would have something (I mean, how can one live in Switzerland and not have chocolate for Easter, I ask you?)

Saved until last night when I returned home from the mountains (where – and probably no one who knows me is going to believe this – I had no chips, no sweets and no alcohol for the entire stay!).

I took the first bite out of an ear; I took the second travelling down the poor creature’s face and then decided: not good enough. One of those things about which I have become ever so fussy: will eat dark chocolate, not white nor milk.
I actually had the strength (or stupidity) to throw it in the trash bin – ah virtue how sweet the feeling.

But I got my comeuppance this morning: went to make my usual lemon, cinnamon, honey and hot water drink (maybe it’s only the placebo effect, but I have had more energy and feel less sluggish since I started this routine: also had no colds!).  Put on the kettle (for those who don’t know this lovely invention it is a recipient usually somewhat in the shape of a tea kettle that has a heating element in the bottom: you plug it in, fill with water, turn on and in less time than it takes to get out your cups, you have boiling water – truly a great invention!). Oh no – no lemon, well never mind cinnamon and honey are better than nothing. Duly filled my cup with the boiling water and started drinking: ooooppppppssss had totally forgotten that I had left vinegar sitting in the kettle during my absence to eliminate the scale…
Good thing that it isn’t poisonous and some people actually do have a spoonful every morning in place of lemon juice, so I have survived.

Penance for the heresies in my life?

And yes, the chocolate bunny is still in the trash bin.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Breakfast with the cows or


Easter in the Swiss alps

OK the little village where I rent for the six “summer” months of the year is not very high (1’100 meters) and is on the back side of the middle chain of “alps”, still it is the Swiss mountains and a lovely spot to rest and relax.

This stay was no exception (o.k. we won’t talk about the printer problems nor the hours spent updating the client’s data base at least today I am free all day).

And the weather was also no exception. Arrived in the Spring to blue skies and many trees in bloom or starting to unfurl their leaves: Good Friday remained just that – good; yesterday though we enjoyed (???) winter with snow flurries and 0°C temperatures – my walk was bundled up; today – Easter Sunday – the sun dawned to early spring (fresh but sunny).  The French have a saying: in April don’t take off a stitch (en avril n’ôte pas un fil) and in May, do what you may (en Mai fait ce qu’il te plait), in May do what you want.


 
Started the morning fully rested (that’s once in a row) and decided to enjoy the cows with my breakfast. No that doesn’t mean bacon, nor did it mean picnicking in the prairie (too early and cold for the real cows to be out of their barns), but simply using my “cow” mug – one which I had bought several years ago with the intention of memorizing all 26 Swiss cantons (states). Gives flavor to the spot.

This day’s checklist:
  • Get up: was successful,
  • Breakfast: with the cows and since it’s Easter Sunday allowed myself the delicious, but without any redeeming nutritional value, white bread from the restaurant next door (many mountain restaurants have what are known as “bread deposit” rights – instead of having to go down to the next village for bread, the bakers bring a small amount of bread to the local “deposit”) along with the Sunday paper (not the L.A. nor the New York Times, but certainly adequate compared to the normal week’s editions).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Quick walk in the forest:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Shower and dress for the day:
  • Pack and clean (minimally – after all I’m the one who will return):
  • Off for lunch with friends at the tip of the lake:
  • Lovely lunch with friends
 
 
 
 





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Leisurely drive home
  • Wonderful, wonderful day ✔✔









Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy, Sad


Happy that the cold wind “bise” has gone down,
Sad that it is now just shades of gray.
Happy that I am up in the mountains,
Sad that I don’t have many days.
Happy that nothing is wrong with my computer,
Sad that I had such problems with the printer yesterday.
Happy that I dreamt that I got married (same guy),
Sad that that was so long ago and now he’s gone.
Happy that I had lovely frothed milk with my coffee,
Sad that it was Marcel’s frother –he left us this spring.

Happy it's Friday (Good Friday at that), Happy it's Easter
weekend, Happy to be having Easter Sunday lunch with
friends, Happy to be going to my brother and sister-in-law's
soon, Happy to be here, happy with my life, my family and 
my friends and even with blogging.

See the “happys” do outweigh the sads!



Thursday, April 17, 2014

April showers, or…


It’s not the weather to which I refer, but rather those problem days.

I have meanwhile recovered from yesterday’s frustrations: 2 faxes, 3 phone calls to obtain authorization numbers for 5 of my client’s credit-card payments. This particular company has usually been very good, but so far this year they have: simply not paid one card which they authorized (and as there is a time lapse of about 6 weeks in between my requesting the authorization, filing in the credit card slip and the money actually being in the bank account, it is always very much “after the fact”); goofed up on some reports and now two days in a row had me tearing my hair out trying to get authorizations. Tuesday it was for only 2 credit cards, but it took me the whole day, yesterday I was there the whole time so only three hours: this when it is usually 10-15 minutes!  The worst part was that I was leaving for the mountains so being delayed in my own personal vacation plans. Those who know me, know that I don’t usually fly off the handle, that I have an unending supply of patience, but that if I do loose it – it’s gone!

Anyway, yesterday was yesterday, today is today: I am in the mountains and as the sun is shining am looking forward to my hikes (a real case of making it look better than it is: actually as the season is just starting I am not in shape and it will be more like leisurely strolls, but hey forward movement – and on two feet no less – is something, right?), more time for reading, etc.

There was however some residual negativity floating in the air and getting my coffee didn’t come easily this morning.

Machine plugged in, water in the recipient, machine turned on then the following.

No dummy, capsule goes in machine, not cup.

OK where is the capsule now? Supposedly in machine...

Ah, third time's a charm. It was better than usual



 And we will discuss the printer another day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Technology, paranoia or


How I can totally mess up my life all by myself.

Now I don’t consider myself without some computer skills: in fact there was a point in time where I believed myself to be the only person capable in all of Switzerland of printing out a sheet of addresses with the bottom of the page filled as well.

Still, I just as often forget how our lives have been changed (improved is debatable although I absolutely LOVE being able to skype with distant family and friends and enjoy keeping up with those even-more-distant cousins, kissing cousins and assorted friends and acquaintances who do not live next door on Facebook).

Every once in awhile I get on a “let’s take my life out of the path of the hackers, phishers, scammers etc.”  Now if for a while things are cleaner in my computer it always causes chaos – why can’t I seem to remember and prepare for this?

So yesterday, in what I can only label as a fit of stupidity, having read (ad nauseum) any and all articles about Heart Bleed then reading another article in of my favorite women’s magazines about web security I decided to change the settings on my browser…

Now I’ve done this before and usually just have to remember (out of the meanderings of my brain) various passwords, etc. and that usually only takes less than a half-hour.

However, and it’s a big one, I had obviously not done this in the past year: if my most used sites were no problem (I had emptied the cache and taken out all but a handful of cookies: how did I miss leaving the one for my blog?), my blog had disappeared.

Two hours later and I had managed to “find” it again, but it was a very intense two hours, during which I discovered that I have at least one other Google account and probably a third as well.  At 9 p.m. I did consider ditching the one that wasn’t used… but thought better of it as who knows whether or not it is linked to the account through which I access my blog?

Not only is my life probably not worth worrying about any one’s scrutiny, but also what do I have to hide in my computer? Egotism is thy name.  After all, in spite of Facta documents which state that one has to declare any account over $50’000 on one’s FBAR I declare even the $350 on my PayPal account so the IRS is not a threat, beyond the obvious one of them taking my money.  The NSA shouldn’t be a threat either, as to my knowledge (but what do I know these days? I have even heard that certain seemingly innocuous words can get one flagged) I have never done anything wrong (o.k. speeding tickets don’t count do they?) nor – again to my knowledge (why won’t criminals all wear an overcoat and look suspicious – it sure would make life easier) have I frequented any spies or the like.  My life really isn’t interesting to anyone except my two sons (or at least I hope that they ARE interested), my family, a handful of very good friends and the odd reader of my blogs (see you are important!).

So I’ll try and let the paranoia rest, leave my important web-sites up; no longer ditch the history when I shut the browser, etc. in the hopes that I can continue to write my blogs; check out doings on Facebook; play computer games; and – this is probably the most important reason for going on line of the lot – be able to pay my bills by e-banking.

Remind me of this when I complain in six months that I have yet again done the same and spent a frustrating day getting myself re-connected.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Absolute truth, or...


Truths in all their glory -

We all know that I greatly enjoy A.Word.A.Day, but I have become even more addicted to the one-liners at the end of the postings.

Today’s should really be allowed to stand on its own, but we also all know that I won’t let it sink into the unacknowledged.

An honest man speaks the truth, though it may give offence; a vain man, in order that it may. -William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)

Using this it would be very entertaining to “interpret” postings by my friends and acquaintances on Facebook.  For every conservative graph, posting or remark there exists the opposite “truth” from the liberals and vice versa. Who tells the “truth”? And are they honest or vain? I could really get in hot water with this particular subject.
 
As for myself: graffiti can be as profound as any philosopher and I'd love to meet the artist who did the following. My opinion exactly!

Graffiti at the bus stop
"The only absolute truth is that there is none"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Divining rods and hot lip trash bins


I often walk along the lakefront not far from my house (that is during some periods I often walk… others I don’t make it down for months and yet others I don’t feel the need as having already walked up to the village for my mail).

I thought a couple of features a few weeks ago were worth sharing with the world: I mean, really a trash bin that looked like it had “hot lips” 


and a stray bit of driftwood that looked for all the world like a divining rod… and it sure found water so guess it works.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life’s little coincidences or…


The great thing about staying in one place.

I happened to see an ad looking for people willing to take part in a study concerning osteoporosis. Never having time to call during the two or three periods when they are there, I sent an e-mail to the responsible person.

She transmitted my request to another colleague who sent me an e-mail giving her direct line and the instructions to call (I had mentioned that as I travel a lot it might be a bit of a challenge to fix a date). I did so this morning.

As I read the signature, the name rang a (vague) bell, but I couldn’t really say why.  During our short conversation I mentioned where I lived and that the hour she wanted to give me was difficult for traffic reasons, not because I slept in. When she learned of my address she had another option at a hospital closer to me (at least closer in terms of traffic as cross-country by the back roads) and mentioned that she too lived in my village.

I said where? She replied – I said, interesting one of my younger son’s best friends lived on that street and gave her the name to which she replied that they had been their next-door neighbors. The penny finally dropped – “you’re C’s mother I said” (I’m S’s”: she is the mother of one of my younger son’s primary school classmates!

It’s a small world when you stay long enough in one spot.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

One of “those” days – take two.


You know how when someone says “it’s been one of those days” we all are ready for the litany of things gone wrong, plans messed up or disappointments by the bundle.

What if we turned it around? I mean there is nothing intrinsic to the words or that particular sentence that make it an obligation for a tale of woe. What if one put positive elements in, such as “it was one of those days” when I went back to bed for a good read; went for a lovely long walk in the sun; met a friend for coffee, tea, lunch – dinner; got the check I was waiting for (or more likely the bank deposit these days); had a phone call or e-mail from a friend with whom I hadn’t spoke in months; met a new friend; went to a great concert, etc.

I imagine though that we would have to eliminate “it was just” and add on one or more of the above-mentioned qualifiers, still think I’m going to give it a go and declare today “one of those days” where nothing goes wrong and only pleasure is had.

And I’ll wish you all the same type of days as I go off to chase the rainbows - rainbows every bit as quirky as my life.

 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

It’s not what you think or…


How different reality can be from what one perceives.



Shocking picture, I know, but it proves my point.

This morning although I do have plenty of administrative tasks that I could be doing (i.e. billing, sorting, filing), having nothing urgent requiring my attention and its being the weekend, I took a look into the downstairs refrigerator (o.k. that came from putting in the wash, seeing a Tupperware that needed putting away, which lead to the room in which the fridge resides) and decided to sort out the bottles of condiments.

Now if my housemate and myself are pretty good about sharing our condiments (and there are still a ton of those in the upstairs refrigerator as we tend to use them about once a month – if that), the visits and stays of my younger son, her daughter and her husband over the past couple of years has led to a real plethora of condiments bottles and jars.

I was in a ruthless mood so down the toilet went the pickles, the barbecue sauce and the Satay peanut sauce (to use by date was late 2012!) which is what you see above.

Not what you were expecting was it?

Which also reminds me that often what we perceive a person’s moods or opinions to be can be just as misleading – tolerance is the word for the day.

And pretty tulips to take the bad taste out of your mouth – or rather to take the misconception out of your eyesight (and yes they are real tulips).


tulips in front of the Brunswick Monument, Geneva, Switzerland