Saturday, July 30, 2016


 et larmes

Joie des larmes,
Larmes de joie,
J’avais oublié
L’émotion que
La musique
Me suscitait

Merci l’heure de l’orgue
À la Cathédrale de St.Pierre

South and North Towers of the Cathedral of St.Pierre, Geneva, Switzerland

The cathedral organ - a 50-year old Metzler

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Aspirin with your walk?

I am lucky enough to live in a small community where the words ecology, bio-diversity and others are not unknown. 

I am also lucky enough to have been able to go on a walk, led by Alain Rifat, where we were shown how the renaturalisation of one water source in the community has taken place along the Nant d’Aisy.

Who knew that in order for a hare to survive there needs to be 80 different types of plants and insects for example, or that in order for nature to produce biodiversity the soil needs to be “poor” or that there are “pioneer” plants such as the lowly poppy that indicate where this is taking place. 

A biodiversity plot

one plant as it unfurls
Lovely natural gate
We learned so many things, not that I have retained all that much except that aspirin is very common along water courses – Spiraea Ulmaria or Meadowsweet - but at least now I know where to go and whom to see should I have questions!

Spiraea Ulmaria

And hopefully I will again be around for another such informative walk in the future.

Monday, July 25, 2016

More cosmic wanderings… or

A trip from lake to lake.

As many of my family and friends know, my life although often tried to plan, usually has a mind of its own and leads me in tangents, most of which turn out very well indeed.

A couple of months ago, my eldest son asked if he could use the mountain apartment the first week in August. I replied in the positive and even offered the car as it is easier to get around although if one has to there is a train.  Then about a month ago he learned that he wasn’t going to be able to take the first week in August: how was the last week in July?
Not a problem as meanwhile I had an accumulation of odds and ends of appointments.
At that point he no longer wanted the car – his back is still giving him problems and the train is better for being able to move around.
Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago: my lovely Syrian friends from Paris asked if they could visit the first week of August – a resounding yes on my part. There is the 1st of August, then they will produce their marvelous Syrian and grill meal the 3rd and so it goes. My summer house guest, R., will also be here for her last week – where has the time gone?

Anyway when another good friend no longer needed to go to Northern Switzerland for the day today, I bought the train ticket thinking to give my son a great gift, but no, meanwhile he preferred a car so rented one as I could no longer offer him mine.

Thus is was that two days ago I started seriously considering what I wanted to do today with this train ticket and for some reason, which I couldn’t explain at the time, my mind said “go have lunch in Lucerne”.
As Seneca said: hurry and live well: remember that each day is a life in itself.
Terminus - Lucerne - please get off
Lucerne's famous wooden bridge - in all its summer glory
detail of the wooden bridge
Which is what I did. Caught the direct train and thought to choose a different restaurant, but having checked out several ended up back at one that holds fond memories “Le Lapin” – introduced to me by one of my best friends who grew up not far from Lucerne and with whom I had the privilege of eating there whilst visiting her a few years back during their period of “returning home”. They have since returned to the neighborhood so I see them more often, still good memories.

I also went out to the Hans Erni Museum – something that I had been meaning to do for several years now: more good memories at it is in the same compound as the Museum of Transportation – a favorite of the family. Although I didn’t find another lithograph to purchase (we do have Pythagoras on the wall – bought there when they first opened) I enjoyed refreshing my memory as to his talent.

mural outside the Hans Erni Museum

Somewhere along the way I realized why I had been pulled towards Lucerne as my choice today: my favorite aunt – and second mother – would have turned 95 today! It was during her first trip to Europe that she saw Lucerne and bought me my first watch – a Swiss watch. Who could have known that I would eventually study in France then return to Switzerland and become Swiss all these years later? Cosmic wanderings indeed with an added bonus: it wasn't as hot in Lucerne as currently in Geneva.

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Coincidences and other cosmic thoughts

That is if I can ground myself long enough to actually write a blog – something I seem to have entirely ignored for 3 weeks now: hmmm, the waxing and waning of the moon has nothing on me.

But today all of a sudden, thoughts seem to be piling back into my brain, first of all this one on the coincidence of dates.

47 years ago my then husband-to-be and now deceased-husband (this may get complicated) had open-heart surgery for the first time. Just days before man landed on the moon, he wrote his mother a letter saying that if things “didn’t work out” that he had had a wonderful life. Imagine, he was only 34 years old at that point and went on to marry and have two sons gaining another 31 years in the process – and another open-heart surgery at age 45.

Little did he dream that on the same day, a woman who would become first a renter then a very good friend turned 25. Today she celebrates another great year after having overcome cancer twice, living first in the flat then becoming my housemate before marrying at 72 and going on to a new life. We have now known each other for 23 years and enjoyed many an adventure together! Happy Birthday D-L.

Nor was he to know that another of our best friends would have their oldest daughter on that same day. She is now a young married woman and I have the pleasure of seeing her daughter grow – I call myself “aunt” which of course takes me back to the politeness of another generation. Happy birthday A!

So today I had lunch with our oldest son, who is now that same age as was his father when we met.

Ah the fun of coincidences.

Cosmic thoughts? It just sounded good, but here's the last sliver of a moon as well as the last full moon to justify the title. 

Corsier, July 2016

Corsier, July 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Old habits

Are sometimes a good thing to revive. 
For three years whilst working at the Lutheran church, I regularly came home from the mountains very early on Tuesday morning. This was not only the price that I paid for being able to spend one more night up there, but it also had its own rewards: peace, quiet and usually if not a gorgeous sunrise at least an interesting one.

This morning I decided to do the same thing and memories flooded back: the sunrise was golden, the trip a delight so who cares if I am going to be tired early tonight – this old habit needs to be occasionally renewed.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Switching continents

Although I haven’t finished the blogs of my Alaska/Canada trip, I am home – and up in the mountains finally enjoying clear skies and a wonderfully sunny day.

This morning I took my usual walk in the woods - admiring as always the flowers in the garden of the last house before the forest.

Pink Peony - as large as it looks!

A huge white peony

light pink one

larger than life

Then after lunch it was go buy my season pass for the cable car and check out the flowers and paths of the upper mountain (the cable car is only working for July/August) while I could.

Mont Blanc on the right as seen from La Creusaz

The Grand Combin through a telescope

La Golette as seen from La Creusaz

It is one of the rare times that I was able to see the wild rhododendrons still in bloom and the blueberries are coming on nicely.

wild small rhodos

alpine flowers

green blueberries

As it’s a Monday I was alone in the cable car and met very few others in the small village at the top – the silence was intriguing – barely any birds to break it and my mood relaxed as I brought back the calm.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

At sea

Literally and figuratively as we joined a tour behind the scenes to see how life is organized and carried out from the crew side of things.

I had also done the one on my Christmas Market Danube River Cruise, but the scale is entirely different! Started up on the Bridge (Captain’s territory) and loved every minute. I even said Buon Giorno to the Italian Captain - Mariano Manfuso. Such a great view they have and multiple ways of steering. With radar input and some of the best equipment around, they can still take over from the computers. One of the most fascinating, for me, bits of steering on the boat is the capacity to use thrusters and push off horizontally from the dock. From there we saw (and goodness only knows I can’t remember the order) the room where they have the anchor and ropes; the food storage rooms; the laundry; the print shop; the engineers room; the kitchen with many different departments – they make all their bread daily, some 6’000 rolls. It makes the mind boggle as they even have escalators for the waiters! We were served a lovely fruit punch and a chocolate as our reward. This particular kitchen served our original restaurant the Provence and the Bordeaux: the Horizon Court (buffet) on the 14th floor has a kitchen on the 12th floor and the 14th floor and there is a crew kitchen as well as separate kitchens for the Italian restaurant Sabatino’s and the Steak place. We were through around 11:00 as we couldn’t visit the medical offices due to too many passengers needing the doctor’s attention. Two doctors and 5 nurses are on board and they even have a “morgue” although the crew member that accompanied us has been here six months and not had a death. They only med-vac in true life and death situations and have to do so with a hovering helicopter as there is no room to land one.
Part of the Bridge
I also love the fact that this particular ship was built in the Chantiers de l'Atlantique (St.Nazaire, France)! And although I won't bore you with the figures on length, breadth, etc. I also loved the fact that they produce all their own electricity. I do have a brochure on all the technical aspects, which I would be happy to scan and e-mail if any of my readers are interested.

The only rainy day of the entire trip - and one for which we were at sea

Along the coasts of Alaska and Canada

Many, many shades of gray that day

And I loved them all!

The rest of the day was very relaxing and as we ate dinner that night we traveled through what was the narrowest passage of the whole trip, the Seymour Narrows. As large as it is, our cruise ship has only 8+ meters under water, even so there was one rock – Ripple Rock – that caused many a ship wreck in that passage so the Canadians decided to blow it up. It was the second largest non-nuclear explosion in the world and still didn’t take out the whole rock, but enough so that ships can now safely go over it. At the tightest point the shores were only 161 meters apart – our ship is 31 meters in width so you can imagine how close we were to each side.

Ripple rock is below the 3rd ball

We also had to pack and have our bags out by 20:00 so had to shuffle things around to allow for the next morning’s necessities to be in my carry on luggage.