Sunday, July 26, 2015

The most valuable thing in life is free

It can’t be bought and giving it just gets you more.
Now some of you are thinking air and water, but although we don’t yet pay for the air itself, we often pay in terms of bad health due to pollution or have to buy expensive gadgets to “clean” it, heat it, cool it. Water is similar – especially now that some big companies think that they have a “right” to it that we, the population of the world, don’t, i.e. we can buy it back from them once they have bottled it. Never mind all those who actually do have to have their water treated in order to even make it potable.

Nope, I have truly only been able to come up with one item that is truly free, that also gives you more, the more you give it: love

Ceramic Heart

Why the thoughts on love you may ask, is she “in love”? Nope, unless with my own life.
It was actually something my sister said when we last skyped. She had been able to spend a few hours with a childhood friend who re-married several years ago. That got me to thinking of all the varieties of love, the lengths of love, the ages of love.

And I realized that even if we restrict “love” to that of one person for another there are so many variations: “puppy love” – I had as an adult the mother of one of my 6-year-old classmates tell me that Billy had had a thing for me; teenage crushes – one of my most mortifying life experiences was the day my siblings got ahold of my diary and found written therein “he looked at me, shivers”; the dating (of which I did precious little – boarding school, shyness, being taller than a great many of my fellow students) with the pulling apart of a daisy “he loves me, he loves me not”; more adult “loves” such as the first “real” boyfriend (now that one didn’t turn out so well and I am ever so grateful that when he asked me to marry him at age 19 I said “sure, but when we are through university”, he wasn’t willing to wait and I had a near escape); my “true” love who was also my best friend (that I had told him early in our relationship “if after a year there isn’t progress, I am out of here” perhaps kept things on an even keel – I fell in love once we were engaged). There were of course the crushes afterwards with my friends warning me: “don’t get involved, he has health problems and you just lost one husband” or “it isn’t going to go anywhere and you’re just going to get hurt”. Ah, but what they didn’t understand, was that it was such fun to have that 16-year-old feeling of “being in love”. Reciprocated or not, for a good year I was in a very pleasant state of “what if?” and enjoying every nuance of every conversation or e-mail.

But that was my personal experiences, and looking at my friends love has so many facets, so many experiences: the childhood friend who married at 19 – and is still married all these years later – both are still happy and in love 40+ years later; my sister who also married young and who with her husband have reverted back to being teenagers again. Then there are those, such as my sister’s friend, and another of my good friends who had poor (not to say bad) marriages young, who spent many years on their own in between and who have, at an age where many have grand-children, taken the leap of faith and re-married. Never mind the stories one reads about people finding partners in nursing homes.

One thing links them all: love

Harmony, California, USA

So very interesting that it exists and thrives when it can’t be bought, can’t be sold, can only be given or accepted, perhaps that alone makes up for some of the other poorer qualities and traits that we humans possess.

There is no disguise that can for long conceal love where it exists or simulate it where it does not. -Francois, duc de La Rochefoucauld, aphorist (1613-1680)

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Hedge Cops

Now we all know that I love living in Switzerland and can’t think of anywhere I would rather be – a great deal of it due to the orderliness of life: trains run (and it’s a scandal if one is 5 minutes late); planes take off and land rather routinely (occasionally one has to be deviated to Lyon, France about two hours away if there is a blizzard or something, but mainly it all works); our public transportation system works well (in spite of the propensity of people living in Geneva saying and thinking that it doesn’t: I mean I live out of town and during the main traffic hours have a bus every few minutes and there is never a time when there isn’t at least one an hour – we even have night busses on the weekends); our road system is not only great, but kept up-to-date (and improved – many bits of the main arteries are being laid with a phono-absorbant cover; our medical system is one of the best, even if we are want to complain about the high rates of insurance; our telephones, internet and the like function (unless there’s a major “incident” such as the gas main that caught on fire and totally scorched all the wires in the area) and even if something drastic goes wrong it is quickly fixed.
Strikes are a rarity – in short life is pretty good.

But that same orderliness has its downside: i.e. the “hedge” cops. Mind you up until now I had never even seen one inspecting trees and hedges until the other day. However, then a very official and in uniform municipal cop wrote me a notice that my hedge needed to be trimmed as it was encroaching on the sidewalk. If I chose not to remedy this horrible oversight they would have it trimmed at my cost!

Mind you I had been working on it with my small cordless hedge trimmer, but due to the heat had left off for a while. I was back at it the past two mornings and have cleared 13 of the 18 patches in between posts. I will meet the deadline of July 31st.

It really does overlap a lot, doesn't it?

At this point the sidewalk is about a meter wide and even large baby carriages can get by!

"Official" including a stamp at the bottom

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Oh the excitement

of watching the meter run backwards.

Whoever would have thought, but when the technician showed up around 9 this morning (instead of the planned 13:00 this afternoon – but never mind my 10:00 appointment had gotten cancelled so I was here) I was still blasé. By the time he left for lunch then came back to check that all was functioning correctly I was really excited.

I have joined a greener world, am producing my own electricity and – perhaps the most fun – have watched the meter go from spinning to the right to spinning to the left: I am going backwards.

This won’t last long as my local service provider will come and change the meter, but while it lasts it sure is fun to watch the Kilowatt hours disappear. When will I have paid off the installation of the photovoltaic panels? Predictions are in approx. 7 years, but it all doesn’t matter as from today onwards I won’t be paying a penny for my electricity (based upon prior consumption that is: if I all of a sudden start running tons more appliances, etc. that could change)!  Watching the meter run backwards was well worth the investment.
If only we could figure out a way to do this on our bodily cells, still this is probably enough excitement for me at the moment, after all, as I type this I have already produced enough electricity to save 1’700 batteries or to light up the Eiffel Tower for 2 whole minutes!

It is indeed a brighter day, in more ways than one.

The beginning July 17, 2015

track details

Finished roof July 18, 2015

The old meter after the panels kicked in:it now reads 198029

Control center, but the on-line reports are more fun!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Taking one’s own advice…

And other bloopers whilst under stress.
Why are we so good at giving advice, but so poor at taking it – even if it is our own?

I had, based upon personal experience, told my housemate’s husband to be careful about getting enough to eat – and to even have a candy bar before visiting D-L after surgery (I fainted dead away when I went to visit my husband in ICU after his open heart surgery).

My morning started o.k.; thought of her in surgery, went and picked up some more stuff from a renter across the lake and sent R a text message when I was on my way back. Then I got a call from another very good friend, who was waiting for an x-ray for her back, thus instead of heading home I deviated to the hospital – calling R so explain that “no, it isn’t D-L, but I’m on my way to the hospital for someone else”. 

We grabbed a snack in the hospital cafeteria – a place I know way too well – and then R and I waited for news of the operation – he staying and my returning home. By 14:30 we knew that she was in the recovery room so I headed back in doing a couple of errands on the way. It was yet again hot – and we all know how much I like the heat – so by the time I had parked the car and was walking towards the hospital I realized that I hadn’t eaten enough and that if I didn’t sit down and get something quickly I was in danger of pulling another “pick me up off the floor” scene. Fortunately a lovely walnut tart took care of that problem and it was up to find my housemate in very good shape – with the best news ever: only inflammations – no cancer in the gall bladder nor colon!!!

Scooby II was waiting amongst the flowers

To say that I got silly from relief is putting it perhaps mildly, but when R. left to “take a walk” (i.e. give us girls time together) I started getting ideas about the deco and her support hose amongst others.

small feet made the stockings look like Mummenschantz figures

They needed livening up!

Leaving for home I then promptly managed to put the parking ticket in the slot for credit card payments. Relief is a funny thing. Today I am sure we will all do better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Worrying about the world…

Every day I get a half a dozen, if not more, e-mails soliciting my signature for a petition against this, a petition against that. 
Mainly, due to sites I consult online, it’s the political or environmental from “Stand up and be counted” for whichever candidate is currently funding fame to “sign the petition”: from Fracking  issues to Bottled Water (and when did bottled water gather enough momentum to become capitalized?). Then there’s the banking issues, the tax issues, the immigration issues, the wars in too many places to count, Corporate accountability (sounds like an oxymoron to me), and today’s latest Scott Walker is running for President (and I thought we had hit the bottom with Donald Trump’s candidature).  I subscribe to Popvox – a site dedicated to reporting what motions or resolutions are introduced in the House or in the Senate (this morning’s in box held the following
Happy Monday, POPVOX users!
Can you believe the 114th Congress has been in session for six months already? Since this Congress convened on January 6, 2015, 3,428 bills and resolutions were introduced in the House, and 1,916 were introduced in the Senate. Here's a look at the Top 20 most active bills on POPVOX from the past six months. ») 

Wow, I mean really, some 180 days and all those bills and resolutions – no way that they can even begin to treat that many in a logical and coherent manner.

But for the moment I am getting off the Merry-go-round (which although it goes around all right, is often anything but merry), I have concerns closer to home : my housemate is in surgery as we speak for gall bladder removal.

Nothing much on its own, but this comes after a breast cancer diagnosis and a PET scan showing « hot spots » in and near the gall bladder. As said organ is – to put it in her own words – just a quarry – they are going to remove it, analyse the tissue whilst she’s still under then proceed depending upon the results.

I have been here before – life suspended whilst a loved one is in the hospital : the world shrinks and one’s days are re-oganized around waiting for news (telemarketer phone calls become even more annoying – if that’s possible !), waiting to go visit, visiting, mulling over information received, in short anything beyond this very limited perimeter becomes uninteresting, redundant and one has no energy for engaging in the « normal » of everyone else’s lives.

Fortunately, even in the worst case scenarios (I did lose my husband and my little sister), the angst and pressure, the stress and worry, are not sustainable over the long term, one does forget, one does get back to the « real » world, so forgive me if I take a short break (or not, sometimes I become even more attached to the « normal » and write everyone and about everything). My energies are needed for my immediate world – the world at large will simply have to get along without me for the duration.
Should anyone be interested – my housemate is a writer – she blogged her first bout with breast cancer and is doing the same with this one :
as well as her husband’s recent blog :
Currently she is « on the table »  but I'm sure she'll blog it later today or tomorrow- just hoping that she will have some wonderful pyschadelic dreams to share with us when we see her later.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A morning walk

Now in appearance there is nothing unusual about that title: I often walk to the village for coffee and almost always take a morning walk whilst in the mountains.
This morning’s walk however was unusual in that I had just barely gotten up myself when my housemate appeared all dressed and with her camera, announcing that her husband had gone back to sleep but that she was going for a walk.

After the week that we had had, it seemed like a good idea and I asked her to wait whilst I quickly threw on some clothes.

What a wonderful idea: from the ducks where we caught one “wife” chewing the ear off her husband (we named that the couple’s gathering) to the mother with four baby ducks (late for them as well, so we imagined her as a single mom), to the schools of “wanabe”-perch, one lone fisherman as well as one lone teenager diving off the pier, then on to the shadows on walls and the beauty of flowers in some of the lakeside mansions it was delightful. The last bit of loveliness was coming across a man playing his homemade flute – happy in the early morning to be able to pour out his thoughts in music.
All that and good company, talk and laughter as well – a great way to start a day.

our lake pier

swimming in the shallows

an out-of-season baby duck

Lake bird in all his glory

shadows on the wall

Observing his territory
spotlit flowers

Our poetic flute player

Cheerful colors

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy families don’t have any history…

And maybe bloggers don’t either – or, as is my case these past few days (weeks) my blogs are rather autobiographical.
Now what Tolstoy really said was: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.

And, although some of you may be bored with the minutiae of my life, others will be enjoying the glimpses of the Swiss and French Alps that they don’t know or can’t readily access. Since I can’t please everyone at the same time, this time I am choosing to please myself. 

First thought upon awakening this morning early – o.k. get up and go take that walk before it gets too hot. The second actually setting out on the walk and turning around at the top on the flat was “hallelujah” it may be a wee bit cooler.

It was – blessed relief.

Since there was a bit of a breeze I decided that lunch up the mountain would be a very good idea and took myself up the cable car and to the restaurant at La Creusaz (for my French-speaking friends as the link is only in French:

A very fresh mixed salad
Steak tartare and its' accompiaments

A burst of freshness as the berries are very tart but ah with the sugar - exquisite.

A bit of a walk then back down the mountain comfortably in the gondola.

looking towards France

Alpine orchids - who knew?
Last look at "my" mountains
I might not have much of a history, but it is happy for the moment.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Heat fries eggs and

My brain cells.
We are far from seeing the end of the current heat wave here in Switzerland, but already a couple of days ago I announced after a series of blunders, mistakes and other incidents that no one could expect me to accomplish anything if the temperatures went above 30°C and that’s only 86°F!

That day I managed to go to a 10:40 appointment at 13:40 (fortunately the office administrator is very nice and managed to wiggle me in anyway); to step into the elevator that was going down when I wanted to go up as well as punching in floor 4 instead of floor 6 and speak in that interesting (really, you don’t think that I am going to call myself weird) way I have of swapping the beginnings of words or entire syllables such as hot weather becomes wot heather, etc. However I did manage to not make any major errors.

Friday night I went to our local restaurant with younger son and enjoyed only an entrée as it was simply too hot to eat much, then yesterday I drove up to the mountains, abandoning the cats and the house to D-L and R, bless their hearts. To my credit I did find the fan before I left and they are sleeping on the morning sun side of the house so bearable if one airs out in the early morning hours then shuts it up tight.

Although not much cooler here I have the advantage of being sandwiched in between my landlord on the top and their cellar (an old earth-floor cellar, which is a great advantage in the heat). It is slightly less humid here as well since the temperature in the flat is the same of my living room at home, but feels less sticky.

However, for walking it is entirely unsatisfactory the heat!

Yesterday I didn’t bother even going up the mountain and fully intended talking a short walk through the forest after sunset, but it was still too hot so it was a day of no exercise at all. Thus this morning I felt that I really must do something and caught the first cable car up at 9:00.

I sweated, but it was bearable and the views (below) glorious. Followed my own advice and didn’t do more than I felt comfortable returning to the shut up flat at 10:30: a day for staying indoors and drinking liters and liters of water.  I wonder how many brain cells I’ve lost: I do have eggs that I can fry on the metal of my car, on the cement of the porch, no need to bother with a pan!

La Creusaz, Valais, Switzerland

Mont Blanc seen from La Creusaz

Italy's just over the "hill"

Alpine Lupines of all colors

Including the mixed color lupines

including no color lupines

yet another variation
And a friendly bird to tweet me on

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I couldn’t resist…

My sister posted to Facebook an article about the 15 words to eliminate from your vocabulary to sound smarter (Jennie Haskamp, The Daily Muse May 4, 2015, 5:30 PM).
Now that was a challenge I didn’t even try and resist:

I really honestly think that maybe one should never literally nor absolutely just say amazing stuff irregardless how things went. It will always be very dumb.

Using these bold and italicized words means that this blog is definitely not eligible for the annals of “smart” and thus I shall try to eliminate them from my sentences forever (if I slip, forgive me, sometimes one needn’t always sound smart).

This in turn reminds me of another sentence:
« So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with ». -John Locke, philosopher (1632-1704)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Coincidence, happenstance, chance, fluke or luck, call it what you will, I have been blessed with probably more than my share, although how one can quantify that I am not quite sure.
Sitting the other night in front of the TV here in the mountains and desultorily flipping through programs, settling on not much, I happened to glance out the window and see this.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away”
(Research as to the author of this quote shows…”the author is uncertain, but some possibilities are: The author is a Canadian man who wrote the quote on a greeting card for Carleton Cards in the mid 1970's . In return for his quote he was remunerated and signed away the copyright to Carleton Cards.
George Carlin Used it. Hilary Cooper USED it.

There is no certainty to who actually came up with it, but I've heard it was Stephanie Marcotte. I'm not sure if this is true, though.” Kateherenow) If the latter it would be total appropriate as I saw the moon from the window of the flat that I rent in Les Marécottes! Close enough for that to be serendipity as well!