Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ode to a sister

Where you are

Do the leaves flutter?
Does the brook babble?
Does the wind flirt with your hair?

Where you are

Do the mountains rise high?
The lakes shine in the sun?
The ocean roll onto its shore?

Where you are

Do the seasons change?
Do storms arise or
Dessert winds blow?

Where you are

Do children play in laughter?
Do adults go about their tasks?
Do teenagers still have moods?

Where you are

Do cats and dogs still fight?
Do polar bears still fish?
Do birds still migrate?

Where you are

Are people gentler?
Are anger, jealousy and hate
A thing of the past?
Does love prevail?

Where you are

Is there a past?
Is there a future?

Where you are

Do you remember me?

I held her in my arms, I still hold her in my heart
 Patricia Jeanne Aitken
Sept.27, 1952 - Sept.19, 2012

Monday, September 26, 2016

A « désalpe » or…

When the cows leave the summer pastures in the alps.

And when I say « real » I mean a local one with a sum total of eight cows, not one with thousands of attendees. It was held up the valley from me in a place called the lower valley « Van d’en bas » and including putting the cows into a pasture and seeing if any of them were going to have a battle.

In Switzerland one of the main races of cows are those from the Hérens valley and every year in the fall they hold « fights » in between the « queens ». It is a natural instinct and there are very rarely injuries : this lot didn’t seem to be much motivated.

It was possible to buy cow bells and the usual food items of wines, raclette (melted cheese with potatoes, pickles and pickled onions), coffee etc. to be eaten on the spot. My big purchase was a slice of cheese made in the alps. 

Next to the chalet where the eating was held there was also an enclosure of goats.

Nice, laid back day – I also visited the falls where they do some Canyon adventures.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Prince Charming

As my village had had its « senior » outing all day Friday, I signed up for the nature walk Saturday morning. We walked out in a protected reserve along the Seymaz part of the way, but didn’t really spot too many birds and or other wildlife until someone looked closely in the water – a frog.

At first we thought that the frog had a blade of grass down its back, but no it was a proper camouflage stripe.

As I looked farther, we discovered more and more and progressed from a stripe down the back to great swathes of green. I wonder what this specimen below would look like if he received the famous « kiss of the princess ». Would he turn into my Prince Charming ?

And if so, I would love to see the color of his clothes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Remembering and dreaming

We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams. -Jeremy Irons, actor (b. 19 Sep 1948)
This was the posting yesterday, September 19th.
First thing that struck upon reading it was that, yet again, I am playing the number coincidence’s game.
This chap was born my year (oh yes, totally giving away my age, it had to happen) and my little sister died on the 19th of September 2012 – just days before what should have been her 60th birthday.

So not only was it very appropriate in light of coincidences, but also in light of circumstances.

Now, I had remembered the upcoming date all last week and all weekend : yesterday I managed to forget it ! Or did I ? It would explain my inadvertently setting off my personal alarm and worrying my sons no end.
It happened after a day of social encounters : one of my friends had some questions so dropped me home and we ended up talking in the car on the parking lot. All of a sudden my cell phone rang and it was my older son – obviously distressed – asking « where are you ? what’s wrong ? ». I answered, « sitting in the car talking to X and I’m fine, why » ? He replied that I had sent two very worrying e-mails saying that I was in trouble, that he was in the middle of an important meeting so he was glad to hear it and that he would call me later.  Weird – I figured that either one of my e-mails had been hacked, he thought maybe it was my phone. My friend and I finished our conversation and I stepped out of the call only to receive another phone call from my younger son – also on the verge of panic – again wondering how I was and where I was. We had more time to talk and after I replied fine and we tried to figure out what was going on, we hung up.

I had visions of my e-mails all having been hacked so once back in the house I checked my cell phone to see if I could find anything. Lo and behold I had sent an two emergency messages, « SOS » with GPS coordinates and a black picture and a second with another picture (very vague – I later determined that it must have been from the floor of the car) and more GPS coordinates. Hmmmm…. Went online and was able to find out that my new Samsung telephone actually does have an emergency button ! Now I don’t remember turning it on, but the two contacts (one can have up to four) were my sons. I ended up leaving it on, but will certainly be much more careful now of my cell phone as all it takes is to press three times quickly in succession the on/off button for the messages to be sent. A good safety feature and in retrospect I was glad that the boys took it seriously : one never knows.

However also in retrospect I wonder if my karma wasn’t sending me an « alarm » as to the date ?
Dreaming – we’ll get to that in another blog.

These were the accompany pictures to my SOS and Help texts.
probably the inside of my purse

probably the floor of the car

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The fun of it all…

Or those endless FB "tests".

I hate to admit this, but part of this morning has been spent playing “games” on Facebook.
This happens every couple of months or so and is usually a result of one of my friends posting a link to something innocent like “Can you pass the OCD text”? Or what color are you? Goodness only knows how many I flipped through in a half an hour, to find out that yes I am 100% OCD (not really, but since I can see the differences…) that my name should have been Ashley, that my personality is “Emotional Introvert”, that I should have been born under the sign of Cancer (well I’m fairly close), that I have Eidetic memory (FB results: “Impressive! You clicked everything right and got the perfect score. You most likely have what's called an "eidetic" memory. This means that you have a remarkable ability to recall images and colors. You pay attention to detail, you notice the small things, and you have a gut intuition that kicks in when you've seen something more than once. You have a great analytic abilities and you're a natural born problem solver.”) etc., etc., etc., but the last (or maybe not?) is the best as far as results go: taking the “What is your 6th sense” I discovered something that family and friends already know, i.e. “having the ability to find misplaced items”.

Wish that extended to time!
Especially since I have just wasted a bunch of it!

Monday, September 12, 2016

How to survive or…

A cream for everything!

Now I am not known for the time it takes me to put on make up in the morning (the one staple = mascara without which I can’t even go downstairs) as there are only two things – face cream and usually not expensive or fancy at that and mascara.

And I am generally not overly indulgent when it comes to cosmetics of any kind, so imagine my feelings (perhaps even distress!) as I proceeded to apply six different ones this morning!

  • Face cream – as usual
  • Fenistil – an insect bite has been itching for the past days and I had finally had enough – this is a brand name antihistamine that is so good that I take it to my relatives in the USA.
  • An antibiotic cream – to the end of a small sore
  • Normal cream for elbows, the arm where I broke it (this has become more or less a staple morning and night as it allows me to massage the upper arm and has definitely aided me in re-gaining mobility)
  • Arnica cream – for that spot where I hit the bed in the middle of the night in a strange hotel
  • And, last, but not least: a soothing the muscles cream for a sore back. Don’t think that it was the many hours behind the wheel yesterday either, but rather picking up the suitcase wrong or bending weirdly at one of my stops

On the other hand – that prevented the taking of any medicines so I guess it was worth it. And note that I didn’t have to use an essential oil although I could have used tea tree oil instead of the antibiotic and lavender for the bruising and sore muscles. The creams didn’t clash as badly with my perfume.

So the next time I say that I use nothing and am always “au naturel” don’t believe a word of it. By the way: the itching stopped, the bruising is going down and the back doesn’t hurt as much and my elbows aren’t rough.

Friday, September 9, 2016

I passed the police at 160 km/hour...

And didn't get stopped!

Or, welcome to the world of the German Autobahn!

Oh the fun - be it ever so infrequent and short - of flying along the freeway.

In Germany when it isn't posted otherwise there are no speed limits - a fact that suited me today
on a day where I had a lot of road (literally) to cover. Also weather conditions were ideal - no moisture and the sun at my back.

Love my little car's performance as I whizzed past the trucks, the trailers, the others who dared not. No wind in my hair, but my brain was buzzing.

Now all this didn't happen frequently (maybe was able to sustain 160 km/hour for 20 minutes of the over 4 hours) as contrary to what many think, there are more posted speed limits in Germany than not, ranging from 60 km/hour (yes! there are a ton of work spots where lanes are shut) to 130 km/hour (that is in the posted zones).  But it was lots of fun while it lasted.

I discovered that speed is fun but that it also takes an enormous amount of concentration (making sure that no one from the right lane is about to pull into one's path; making sure that no one else behind one wants to go even faster; at high speeds one needs to be even more aware of brake lights in the distance).

Maybe I was a test pilot or race driver in some other life: can't wait to be headed home on Sunday when the trucks will be off the road and life much simpler as long as the weather holds. Our regular maximum in Switzerland of 120 km/hour and seems mighty slow at this point.

Proud of my little car, but with my sense of ecology must also admit that I checked and higher speeds burn more gas - a little pleasure that I am allowing myself for the thrill of the ride.

You will notice that I post no photos - at those speeds one doesn't do anything stupid!

A free download of a German Police Car - not the one sitting off to the side of the freeway today!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Over-the-top-beauty or...

Banff National Park

First project after a slow start was to see Lake Louise – a must on anyone’s trip through the Canadian Rockies and one of the main reasons for our prolonging the Alaskan Cruise to take in Banff and Jasper in Canada before flying to our respective homes.

Weather was closed in and rainy as we arrived – totally unprepared of course. I happened to mention ponchos, which reminded my brother that he had a couple of throw-away ones in his pocket so well-armed against the weather with two one-use plastic ponchos and one umbrella for the three of us – off we went.

The weather steadily improved so I just had to hike to the end of the lake (1.1 km) where I took a few pictures including one of a very pesky squirrel and picked up a few more rocks.

Upon our return we needed lunch: In the Fairmont Château there was a lovely restaurant with views and an adequate menu so we reserved a table (half hour wait). Meanwhile we also checked the deli and it wasn’t anything so in the end, being hungrier than the waiting time, we went down to the Saloon. Good choice as we got Portobello mushroom burgers with sweet potato fries – and all loved our meal. No need for the view as we had hiked it.

Declined desert but waited for the Occitane store to re-open. Once in, I discovered that they contribute to the well-being of women in Burkina Faso (who provide the shea nuts for shea butter, only picking those that have fallen on the ground). Took photos of the explanations in the hope that I can find out more especially about the French man who started it as my older son’s Master’s project was in Burkina Faso and I currently am godmother to two girls studying there through a lovely Swiss association: Kaicedra.
From the top of Lake Louise looking back towards the Fairmont Chateau Hotel

End of Lake Louise

Lake Louise as seen from the Fairmont Chateau
The Fairmont Chateau
Returning in the direction of our hotel we first went to Johnston Canyon (and hiked to the Lower Falls) then pulled out overlooking the Vermillion Lakes, a riparian wetlands, and an area that has been returned to its natural state and one of my favorite mountains - Rundle a very sharp slate one that I loved– and yet another cheeky squirrel.
Johnston Canyon

Vermillion Lakes - Banff, Canada's first national park - 1885

Vermillion Lakes

Mount Rundle - a classic thrust fault mountains

Believe it or not we even needed dinner and upon our return to Banff we ate at the Balkan (Greek) and had a fabulous meal.

A long, but over-the-top beautiful day jam-packed with scenery, mountains, rivers, lakes and pesky squirrels.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Number 601

This is my 601st blog...
And since it is the first of September I thought it fitting to interrupt my Canadian series with one on the beginning of fall.

As my former housemate said in her blog http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/2016/08/i-survived-summer.html, we have survived summer!

And although it is not yet officially automn, this morning when I drove down from “my” mountains I discovered the season’s first fogs along the River Rhone. That of course meant that I had to stop several times for photos as I just love the shades of gray, the romanticism of slightly blurred scenery and the feeling of the air’s temperatures lowering.

Rhone River towards St.Maurice

Fog along the Rhone River behind the fields

Plowed fields and fog along the Rhone River

Peaks lingering in the clouds and fog this morning

Fog makes even the roads and electric wires prettier!

Then there was the sun rising on the mountain peaks.

Part of the "Cimes de l'Est" as seen from St.Maurice this morning

My coffee buddies were mighty surprised when I showed up and announced that it was a gorgeous day and that I was in a very good mood: as one said, “a woman in a good mood so early in the morning, wow”. Hmm… wonder what we, as women, have done to give them that image of ourselves.  Nevertheless, even that remark couldn’t put a dent in my joy at not  only having survived the summer, but also to be entering my favorite season – FALL.

Break out the blankets, keep on the lookout for leaves turning yellow and orange, enjoy cooler temperatures and the pleasures of a sweater or jacket: life would be good.