Friday, April 29, 2016

Unexpected beauty

A recent meeting saw me visiting a new friend’s apartment for the first time: not only was her flat beautifully light and well arranged (o.k. I like gray), but she received us in the middle of the morning with a gorgeously set table, tea, strawberries and chocolate muffins.

I always appreciate the unforeseen beauty along my path and will tuck this memory away to trot out when life seems not quite so nice. Thanks C!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reverting to childhood

     One of the reasons, in my way of thinking, for wanting grandchildren is so that I can watch Winnie the Pooh without apologies. I came late to these stories as we were encouraged to read “real” stories as opposed to fantasies and TV only entered my life at age 10 – I Love Lucy having been our mainstay. There were no VHS videos, there were no DVDs. However, we were far from being deprived as we had the whole world (i.e. the front yard, the middle yard and the backyard) to play in, an ivy patch that held dragons, snakes and anything else with which to frighten ourselves: we wouldn’t have had time amongst the piano practice, the homework, the household chores and the play to have watched even had we had access.

I discovered Winnie the Pooh with the birth of my own children and again, due to lack of access and the fact that they were boys, our choices of reading leaned more to the trucks, tractors, or “Finding Waldo”. Still I brushed up against Winnie the Pooh occasionally and fell in love with the whole of the cast.

Imagine my delight in coming across on FB (which I consult more than use) a posting from
the site about Winnie the Pooh quotations.

Very hard to choose a favorite so I may have to write more than one blog, but for today a direct quote:
“On love:
“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh“

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Stubborn … who me?… or DIY

Now we all know that I can be stubborn – or if you don’t, it’s simply because you haven’t met me or been long around me – my family and probably more friends than should will admit that, yes she can be stubborn: of course if they’re being polite they’ll couch it in such terms as “she sees it through”, “she sticks to it until the job is done”, “she proceeds until the end” or “she won’t give up”.

Hold that thought.

Several weeks ago I happened to be walking home (remember the period when I had to do everything by foot or bus? I do too – it’s still fresh in my mind) when I saw one of my neighbors picking up his mail. Hadn’t seen them in awhile so crossed over to say hello and realized that he was having trouble getting his mail: apparently the key to the upper letter-box had been lost. I have rather thin hands and was able to fish out that lot with minimal trouble, but had been ready to return home and bring back my “pincher” appliance if not.

I promised to round up all the loose small keys in my house and return to try and see if we couldn’t at least jimmy the lock.

I was unable to do so right away and what with one thing or the other it was several weeks later before that happened. Unfortunately none of them made the slightest dent in the problem.

Yesterday I had absolutely nothing on my agenda so decided to finally return to the large DIY center across town that I had been unable to visit for the past 5 months. I was also looking for a carbon monoxide detector for another friend and remembered the keyless neighbor. Bought a new cylinder as I was confident in my ability to somehow pry the box open and knew that I could replace the cylinder as have done so before: purchased a universal one as although I had the approximate size well in mind too many had specific labels on them.

Later in the afternoon went up, but no sooner had I arrived than it starting pouring (weather was not good yesterday, not much better today and is supposed to be even worse tomorrow – sigh). I was not well-equipped so we tabled the project until today as they were going to be home.

After coffee with M I went – again for the first time in months – to the grocery store in France for such favorites as salty butter and sparkling wine.

Then I was at sixes and sevens: most of the morning disappeared without accomplishing anything so when I wasn’t able to get ahold of son 1 (had thought of going into town and having lunch with him – but needed nothing) and the weather became marginally sunnier I thought: ah ha – see if J is available and tackle the letter box.

He was, we did.
I am not going to say that we were very professional and I will also avoid detailing the whole painful process, just most of it. I could feel the bit that fits behind the frame move but couldn’t force it up to release the door from the frame; I could also feel that the “washer” could turn but wasn’t making progress fast. J realized that there was a wire holding the other side to the box and reckoned that that could be forced. Then it turned out to be attached all the way through the second, or “milk” box part so involved breaking it. I had already made a couple of trips back home for better pliers/screw drivers and the like, now went to find my wire cutters (he had sawed it with a metal saw, but it was very difficult to re-thread so we considered using other wire to put it back together).

Of course, meanwhile what I had thought was a “washer” turned out to have been a screw and I could have easily simply unscrewed it, which would have allowed us to pull
out the cylinder with minimal input and no materials, never mind having had to take off the entire other side!

In the beginning - with a lock although I forgot the picture
 Now to put it back together again. Remember the line “and all the king’s men couldn’t…” so did I. I almost gave up a couple of times, but what with the addition of some WD40, some logic and a lot of patience, we were able to put the right “hinge” back together. However, no cylinder as the universal one that I had bought would have fit fine, but the bolt bit used to hold it to the letter-box frame inside once the key turned, was not long enough – argh….

Halfway there after an hour

Halfway from the outside
some of the tools used - together with those piled on the top

Appearances however, have been maintained, as unless one looks closely, it does look like a normal letterbox (by-the-way the lower or “milk” box bit no longer had the wire to re-attach so I simply made a hinge with duct tape).

In the end - lock needs replacing

J has orders to take the old cylinder to a hardware store and get exactly the same at which point he will be able to re-lock the letter part.

Would it have been easier to simply replace the letterbox: of course!
Would it have been also easier to call a locksmith and let him do it, again of course!
But those solutions are costly – we are both retired so the one and a half hours spent doing this don’t count and I probably shouldn’t mention that he has a PhD. from Harvard either.
Sometimes stubborn gets one somewhere.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A mini, mini, mini adventure

I have broken any record that I might ever had concerning nights spent at home and although I have managed to be fairly patient I am now starting to want to be “anywhere”, to travel, to see new things or even old ones. Not that I don’t love my own bed or the beauty that I see out of the windows every morning, simply that it’s not like me to not have gone anywhere since December 27th when I returned from my Christmas Market Cruise and Christmas in Austria.

Today the sun finally deigned to grace us with its presence so I decided to have a mini adventure. Bus into town, train to Morges where I had intended for years to enjoy the Tulip Festival.  The tulips are still only about 30% out, but there were 80 pottery stands from all over Switzerland exhibiting their wares, the weather was accommodating and it was a glorious little adventure.

The park itself is also gorgeous

Looking across the lake towards France

Kind of hazy, but a beautiful day everywhere

 Including having a plate of antipasti in the dining car of the return train (hadn’t come across any restaurant in Morges that looked interesting – and most were chock-a-block full in any case and I didn’t want to settle for just a sausage in the park).

Very appetizing and the accompanying bread delicious.

Only a few hours, but a true change. And I'll still have the comfort of my own bed tonight.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The better "bikers"… or

Lose your prejudices: some motorcyclists are better than the car drivers!

I am still getting about with my bus pass and have had some interesting combinations by simply doing the “I’ll take the first bus that pulls up” or “This direction all the way to the end”, etc. Letting happenstance choose for me.

Today was more of the same. Decided to take the bus to the next village for breakfast as our village store is shut, then as the bus to town was before the bus home went to the large flea market looking for keys for my bedroom cupboard.

Home for lunch the in the afternoon needed to get the mail (a short 12-minute walk up the hill) but being lazy at that point decided to do the two-bus routine: mine to the next village down and the other to my village on the upper route. It just so turned out that the timing was perfect to stop for coffee at McDonald’s on the upper road and get a roll at the neighboring bakery for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Imagine my surprise as I rounded the trucks at the flour factory so see six beautifully kept motorcycles lined up in one parking space! I was so impressed by the lovely job of parking that after I got my coffee I looked around to see who they might be. Imagine, 6 young adult men, conservatively dressed, clean shaven and with their helmets all neatly aligned on the back shelf, enjoying talking together whilst taking a break. Not exactly what one usually thinks when one sees a group of motorcycles. But then again their parking exhibition was exceptional and spoke for them.

I got their permission to take pictures. This is Swiss precision.

Six motorcycles neatly within the lines of one car space!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Weather and Life

As I am finally back to walking more and can almost always make the morning trek up to the village for coffee, I also have time to reflect upon the great and the small.

This morning it struck me how similar the weather and life are: I set off in fog so thick that not only were the mountains and the lake missing, but also the row of trees not 300 yards from the sidewalk that I take. No rain though as that had been in the night.

Archive picture - today you couldn't see the trees!

Upon my return, I amused myself taking pictures of the raindrops adorning leaves, branches and plants – fog lifting.

By noon it was one of those beautiful days, warm in the sun and one could almost imagine summer.

By four in the afternoon clouds were appearing here and there, for the most beautiful cumulus.

Some gray in various points of the compass, but by six p.m. again only sunny skies could be seen from out my window. Then as evening drew night, the clouds came back, but with silver linings.

So it is with life: although we perhaps notice the “gray” days more, every life has plenty of everything – unless one is on the extreme scale of awfulness or the other extreme of nothing-ever-bad-happens. For most of us however, life varies with us sometimes being totally surrounded by the fog – incapable of seeing what could be beyond for better or worse. At other times, we are entirely in the sun – beautiful events such as weddings, the birth of a child, a birthday – have us thinking that this is the best of life.

Neither, or both, is the only reality: we only notice the sun thanks to the rain, the gray days thanks to the brighter ones. I would even dare to advance that “life-on-an-even-keel” could be mighty boring.  How else to know the highs if one has nothing against which to measure them? How else to have hope when things are seemingly, endlessly awful?
Then there is the mix in between, the mundane, the I-haven't-been-paying-attention to how fabulous life really is. These too count and contribute to the mixture that adds contrast both in weather and in life.

So I’ll take it all, the good, the bad and the indifferent: each is necessary in its own right. And there is beauty in the shadow and the light.

an orchid in sunlight shows the shadow of the overlapping petals

Monday, April 4, 2016


As much as I love words, I am also very fond of numbers.
And have a special affinity for the weird and fun combinations: I often will look at a clock
just as it is changes to something like 13:13 (in Europe we use a 24-hour clock as does the military and many other more metric-oriented instances).

When I realized that this blog would be my 555th (yes, dear readers, it may seem like I just started, but it was almost three years ago), I knew that I had to involve my interesting relationship with figures.

I duly collected photos of those waking combinations that I saw – sorry if this bores you –and last night the final sign, I actually saw 23:23 in the numbness of falling asleep, but couldn’t wake up enough to take a picture.

The dot on the “i” so to speak came today when I paid a few bills online and realized that they were being paid on the 04.04.2016 (or 4x4=16)! Probably can’t top that so will post this and get on with a more reasonable life before I start something like figuring out how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years (oh I do know that one without looking) I have been alive. Pi has nothing on me!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring reflections

Or should that be reflections on Spring?

There is truth to the saying that the older one gets, the faster time goes: here we are already well into the fourth month of the year and I am already playing catch up.

Although Spring officially started a couple of weeks ago, my mind set wasn’t there until yesterday.  For one thing, as winter was so mild, Spring was more of a concept than an actual fact, for another, in spite of the mild Spring, flowers are just barely starting to bloom.

But we have changed to daylight savings, the calendar does mark the pas
sage from Winter into Spring, but more importantly: whilst browsing in the grocery store – I can’t drive yet so do the grocery shopping with M after our morning coffee – I came across some new place settings as well as hand and dish towels in a color, that for me, embodies Spring - lime green.

Couldn’t resist (and it must be said didn’t even try in spite of the fact that I already had some lime green cloth place settings…) and arrived home with them. That of course led to the purchase of more tulips to fill the beautiful vase that is just perfect for tulips.

It also led to my finally turning off the lights in the tree next to the garage.

Spring has finally sprung at #15.