Thursday, December 22, 2016

My kind of tree

Tuesday I took my neighbors down to their “barn” near Belley, France. We stopped in the town to go to the bank then as we came out went across the street to see if we could get a table in that restaurant.

Unfortunately not, but just next door was the tree that I want (and perhaps will make!) next year.
This is by far the best idea that I have seen yet and may be just the excuse I need to take all my books off their shelves – then I can sort and put them back in alphabetical order in the New Year. If only wishes were that easy to realize.

A book store in Belley, France

Monday, December 19, 2016

Bless the friends

Now generally speaking that phrase can stand on its own: many of us living overseas without family close by have friends that not only are worthy of, but have become “our” family. I have the good fortune to not only have a lovely family, but also many such friends.

Friends have helped me celebrate; friends have helped me grieve; friends have done huge favors; friends have been there when I needed transportation, food, a shoulder to cry on or reason to laugh.

Friends are what make one’s life worthwhile and I hope that I am as good a friend to mine as they are to me.

But although the large things are appreciated, in the end the stepping stones of friendship are yet again, as I have been want to often say, are the little, everyday acts of kindness: the regular tea or coffee meetings, the e-mailed joke, the lunch together.

Then there are the even smaller bits of information: one of my friends called me this afternoon to simply let me know that the store in the next village over again had crumpets!
I am now set for the coming weeks and have a very warm feeling for that particular person.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The cookie jag or…

Baking one’s heart out – hmmm – maybe that should be how to make a total mess out of a kitchen?

For those of you who are used to seeing my kitchen pristine clean, or for some whom I have been noted to scold when they didn’t leave it just as I like, you will love the following pictures.

Two days this week I went on a baking cookies and cakes jag: 7 small Christmas cakes; a batch of chocolate chip cookies; another batch of double chocolate and ginger cookies; another of Russian tea cakes; and yet another double batch of brownies!

I won’t go into the details of sugar, butter and flour used, but there was definitely more of the former than the latter and in all enough to feed a small village enough calories for several months.

Who are the recipients of all this you might ask – as surely she doesn’t intend to eat all that herself. First there was the delivery to the mayor’s office (have done so several years in a row) and to the chap that so kindly uses my driveway to turn the snowplow around in the winter when I leave the gate open. He is also responsible for keeping the village plants and flowers in shape, always has a smile and hello for everyone and thus very deserving of any small attentions that I can think up.  Then I took the rest of the brownies up to the coffee shop one morning and let my coffee buddies indulge – leaving the rest for the chap that runs the coffee and mini store.

I love to bake – no one has yet refused anything that I was willing to give them and even make noises about actually liking my efforts.

I will make more before the holidays an probably finish the last out of the freezer sometime in February.

Ah the sweetness – if only I could find a way of making the whole world as sweet.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Getting off the Merry-go-round

Before one is spinning so fast that one flies off and shatters.

I have had tough periods in my life, I have had stress, illness and death, but in general I enjoy a wonderful one.

These past few weeks have been no exception other than too much of a good thing stops being a good thing.  I would not have not met any of the people I did, I would not have not gone on any of my trips, nor not attended any of my concerts, lunches, dinners or coffees.

However thanks to (or rather due to) a couple of sleepless nights and others that were more agitated than normal, I finally hit the wall – and was very fortunate in that stopping happened naturally.

This morning at my usual coffee, one of the others at the table handed me an article on a lunch concert in the MAH – Museum of Art and History – scheduled for 12:30. I had been supposed to be going out for lunch, but the other friend was amenable to a change in the schedule so I had the very rare privilege of discovering this “Concert Pliant” (now why they call a concert a folding one I haven’t a clue nor was I able to gather any other information).
Today’s was played on a Jacob Stirnemann fecit 1777 by Jovanka Marville in the historical Conseil d’Etat (the executive power of the state) room. This Salon got its name from the fact that the woodwork on the walls, cornices, etc. were taken from the original Conseil d’Etat room: all of the furniture dates back to the 18th century thus permitting the audience to be in the same atmosphere and listening conditions that were typical of this period. The piano itself is composed of two key board of 61 keys, but its’ builder used a Southern German technic to link the two keyboards. The concert was Baroque and fabulous.  Leaving the concert at 13:45 one was very hungry so chose to go to the closest restaurant available. They still had the lunch menu – the crowds were fairly non-existent and the meal delightful.

Front of the piano

Cover when lifted

I then topped all that off with a trip to the Bains Bleues – our local spa, leaving my cell phone in the car!

Relaxed, mellow, ready to return to the carousel tomorrow, I will no go up, turn on my cell phone and pick up on “real” life – although somehow the day I just had seems much to be emulated more often.

Monday, December 12, 2016

On being Ernest…

I mean sociable

Coffee with my buddies at the usual spot;
Cleaned the car as I was planning on being “taxi”;
Coffee with my neighbor;
Lunch home alone (it does happen!);
Coffee, pear pie, chocolate mousse, champagne
with my friends from over 30 years ago;
Then the icing on the cake – and ever so unsociable –
A rising moon; not quite full yet, but ever so beautiful.

No need to be earnest or Ernest.

December 12, 2016 - rising moon.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My inspiration for the day

Or should I say inspirations as there were many.

Sometimes we simply need to sit back and enjoy life; enjoy what we come across. Today was one of those days.

I set off to the new tearoom for breakfast, as is my want on the weekends, not knowing if M would join me (we often do have coffee together of a Saturday morning, but her husband was having the company’s yearly dinner last night and she might need to sleep in) or not.

I ordered a drink of coffee and milk that here in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, is called a “turned over” or “tipped upside down” and lacking my usual sandwich settled for a roll of grains with one pat of butter. Lovely way to start the day even if I was on my own.

Then it was pick up the mail and make a trip to the grocery store in anticipation of baking Christmas cakes and cookies. Looked at tins, but prevented myself from accruing any more as I certainly have enough for this year’s giveaways (they were very tempting though so there is no guarantee that I might not crack later in the week).

Lunch was leftovers after I un-thawed the upstairs freezer (see, feeling productive always improves the mood), then I had time – and the need – for a “pause” (my husband always refused to call them naps or siestas and he was right).

Then it was off into town for a lady’s coffee at I’s house: an occasion never to be missed – I would even return early should I be elsewhere as she is from Vienna and makes and bakes everything herself. I didn’t care to interrupt the feeling of friendship and joy as we first enjoyed a glass of champagne followed by canapés of all sorts, then coffee or tea and home-made strudel and a nut cake specific to Vienna covered in chocolate.

not my friends - her's was even better!

In amongst all that there were beautiful views of the Jet d’Eau – I got plenty of inspiration for continued enjoyment of life.

Dec.10 around 15:30

Dec. 10 around 19:30 Blue for the UN's day of Human Rights

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A blast from the past or

Baby shoes

On a recent “adventure” my former housemate and I came back via Bern specifically to see the fall Flea Market, which had been set up in the Paul Klee Museum. We arrived there to absolutely beautiful views of the Alps through the fall haze so first took a walk around the parameter of the grounds and enjoyed the first rays of sun that we had seen in a week.

When we did finally enter to a fairly high-class flea and antique market (some parts were even paying – those we did not enter) it was to discover on the table of one of the very first stands one bronzed baby shoe!

Ah the memories. The stand owner had no clue as to where it had come from so for once in my life I was actually able to give information instead of receiving it. Would surely like to know how come he came to own that one lone shoe!

I have mine (and as the first child they were turned into bronze) as well as my little sister’s (white leather, but then she was the third child) on the bookshelf in my bedroom. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The importance of spelling

In order to not end up in the wrong place or insult someone unintentionally.
Today’s “A.Word.A.Day” offering of “afflatus” reminded me of a recent article in the local paper. Two persons decided to go on a holiday whilst attending a conference so transmitted to their airline (no names mentioned – I am sure that every airline has done this at least once) various airport codes, a route and used almost 400’000 miles to also have first class.  As they boarded the second flight and started seeing what had come up on the screen they realized that they were headed for Granada in Spain instead of Grenada in the Carribean! They have been fighting ever since to recuperate their miles.  That is a one-letter error.

There are often problems when people book airline tickets online instead of at an agency when they don’t pay attention and end up at San Jose in California, USA instead of San José in Costa Rica – that’s only an accent on the last e.

But back to afflatus: I, mistakenly, although the roots are the same, thought that they were going to be describing “flatulence”.

A noun labeling “A creative impulse or inspiration” should not be taken for the results of flatulence!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Subject lines

If my husband was renowned for his capacity to think up slogans or other witty and fitting jokes/advertisements etc., I often note that any particular phrase or set of words coming out of the mouths or pens or e-mails of those around me make very interesting subject lines. Some are good enough to write a whole book around: unfortunately most are forgotten as soon as they are remarked.

A friend with whom I shared an evening at other friends used the following in the subject line of her e-mail:

“Leonard and S and Brussel sprouts”

One could make up some very good stories about that line: die Leonard and S have an evening of Brussel sprouts only? Did Lenard deal with the Brussel sprouts and S with more Brussel sprouts? Did the Brussel sprouts become the main feature of a song, story or meal???

I, of course, knew exactly whom she was speaking of and actually even probably why by simply reading the subject line: anyone else would be clueless, but someone with imagination could develop the subject. Anyone up for the challenge?

All photos below are from Google Images
Leonard Cohen

Brussel Sprouts

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It’s still the little things

That make me happiest.

Waking up slowly on a Sunday morning after having had dinner with good friends the night before; picking up the bedroom after a hectic week that had me simply dropping into bed at night without a thought for the piles of papers, clothes and sundry items that one gets out over a few days; having breakfast in my pajamas (can’t remember the last time that happened); sweeping the accumulated leaves off my balcony before the snow or rain can get to them; changing the colors and photo in my kitchen; thinking of close friends and family as I finally read through recent e-mails.

December has started – I will put up lights – get out the wreaths and perhaps even get the tree up and decorated: anything to improve the dark, gray days and lighten the spirit.

I hope that all of you too will stop to enjoy those little pleasures; the ones that we tend to ignore or discount. The best of my day? Finding a crumpet in my freezer and one last piece of Stollen for breakfast when I had neglected thinking of bread or anything yesterday.