Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Epic Road Trip – Day 1

When I decided to return to California this spring, I started listing all the relatives and friends that I “had” to see. The list grew and grew. Then my sister retired and all of a sudden it became the Sister’s Epic Road Trip.
Two loops – one North and one South – trying to cram in as many relatives and friends as possible.

Monday the 25th we set off. 
Traveling in style, chauffeured by my sister

Monday to Sunday and only a piece of luggage per person!

What to say, how many photos with which to bore my faithful readers. Shortly: day one saw us visiting first a bed-ridden cousin, then spending the night with another cousin.
Following are sights seen along the way – some for which one needed to rub one’s eyes!

Yes - a "tiny house" just being pulled down the road.

Great traveling weather - and this is sunny California
Best coffee yet, but since it was an Italian place just what I would expect!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The chicken came first…

In this story at least.

At home I have an egg delivery service – six fresh eggs every month duly delivered to my “milk” box.  This year I have had trouble using even those as I had bought more when I was planning on entertaining after Christmas, then came down with the flu.
Good friends got to have deviled eggs twice in the same week.

However, here at my sister’s one of my brother-in-law’s passions is chickens, so there are fresh eggs daily. Sunday morning instead of going up the street for coffee and a bagel I stayed home and had a fresh scrambled egg. Watched by the rooster who sits in the corner (at one point there was a live one, but the noise was too much for the neighbors as well as my family).

note that my computer is playing table set.

Monday, April 24, 2017


The 1964 song, People Who Need People, composed by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, made Barbra Streisand a star.
“But first be a person
Who needs people.
People who need people
Are the luckiest people
In the world! “

As much as I sometimes need a day or two just for myself – the mountains were and are often  my bolthole – I do enjoy people. 

My long-time friends, my new friends, all the acquaintances that make up daily life, those met briefly through others, in short I do like and need people.
Never was this so precious as during the past two days: Friday night I had the pleasure of seeing one of my nephew and his wife’s new flat then going out with a group that he had arranged. I realized as we all sat down to dinner in San Francisco that of the 9 around the table only 2 had not spent a significant amount of time at my home in Switzerland. It was such fun catching up on their lives and I am hoping that the two who have yet to visit me will not hesitate to do so in the future.

Saturday I was able to see a friend whom I met through my sister: she is special as she grew up in Switzerland but came to the USA when she was a young adult – I did the opposite and we have met on both sides of the Atlantic ever since.  Saturday night I was truly blessed in that I was finally able to attend the yearly “donut night” at other friends home.
Fresh donuts: D is a wonderful cook and excels in all she does, but Donut night is truly special. Her daughter and family came from Northern California, her son and his wife from San Diego. Other friends are more local: there were dogs, small children and babies and nary a cell phone, paper or book in sight, only humans interacting and enjoying the moment.

I would have to agree with Streisand: People who need people truly are the luckiest people
In the world! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Stress-free travel or…

When it all goes right.

The title is usually an oxymoron as for most of us, myself included, plane travel especially that involving changes and long routes is usually a series of mini problems if not downright disasters, so imagine my shock when this time it all went fine. I am tempted to add – for once in my life – but I am sure that it is simply that the disastrous trips make for better stories and linger longer in our memories.

There was certainly the potential for an interesting story when I inadvertently booked my flights via a well-known web-site instead of directly with the airline (still a mystery to me as to how I managed that without realizing).  This meant that I needed to obtain seats and a meal by logging in to the airline’s site, but it was fine – obviously interfaces are getting much better!

I picked a seat on the aisle next to the last row and do to experience – and not any religious and/or cultural affiliation chose the Asian vegetarian special meal.

So the day of departure duly came closer and thoughts as to how to get to the airport for a 6:55 flight loomed. When I heard that one of my dear friends whom I have also taken early to the airport would be needing a similar arrangement later this year I proposed a swap: her taking me for my taking her. Agreed that 4:30 a.m. would be best. The night before I gave it some more thought and decided that 5 a.m. would do as I had already printed my boarding cards so only needed to drop off my suitcase.

After a seamless ride and entertaining conversation (I would say scintillating, but given the hour perhaps not), I walked into the check-in area only to find that a huge group had just entered the baggage drop line ahead of me. Then I noticed that one agent was free on the
end so I went in the "wrong" way and got my suitcase on before the group got anywhere near. Security - a very slight snafu when a young woman ahead of me had to basically unload her suitcase, but hey a minute more - no big deal. I was through by the time that we should have arrived! First potential problems avoided. Had time to write several e-mails before I boarded the flight for the first leg of my journey.
Arrived in Frankfurt to flurries of “snow”. Predicted but also a potential source of trouble. On the other hand I was not stressed and had two hours to shop – didn’t buy anything, but at least this time I also managed to stay in transit and not have to go through passport control or security.

Boarded the transatlantic portion easily only to find that my seat was actually the last row, but on this charmed trip that turned out to be a blessing as well: there was enough room to incline the seat about 15 cm. – enough to be comfortable and even better as it was the bulkhead that I was leaning back on I could do so whenever I wished!  Also the passenger in the window seat, although pleasant, kept to herself and slept most of the way, and we had the seat in between us empty – rather unheard of these days.

My meals were delivered early as “special diet” and much more attractive than the usual choices: do they ever change the menus?

We arrived at destination only 5 minutes late, my luggage was amongst the first out and as I had even slept a couple of hours it was truly the easiest flight in my recent history.

Nothing like that of one of my favorite bloggers:

May my whole trip remain on this plain of beatitude.

My aircraft for the transatlantic

Monday, April 10, 2017

One of the reasons that I live where I do or…

Where else but in Switzerland is the bureaucracy sometimes really on the ball.

This is probably a record that can’t be beaten: last night, and yes it was a Sunday night on top of it, I decided to tackle some of those administrative tasks that have been let go a bit too long, including organizing an appointment to renew my Swiss passport.

A side remark: can you believe it – I became Swiss 10 years ago and need to renew my passport? The years have flown and most were very good to me.

So I filled in the forms with all the pertinent data including my parent’s names and received a reply (computer generated of course) saying that I would hear from them when my files had been checked to program an appointment. The confirmation e-mail is logged in on April 9th at 18:17.

If I hadn’t seen it myself, I never would have believed it, but I got an e-mail this morning
April 10 at 10:31 with the link needed to go online and reserve a date.

I will do this as soon as I get back from my trip to California (ah the blessings of having someone living in the house for cats and security) May 11th.

And to think that I had been worried that my passport would run out on May 24th without my being able to plan its’ renewal.

When they say that Switzerland works like their clocks and watches, you can believe it!

Screen shot from the Swiss Confederation's site for passports

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ah the love…

I have just had the visit of a lovely family – distant relatives: her great-grandmother was my grandmother’s sister, but family IS family. Wife (she’s the relative and women come first right?), husband and their two boys, eight and five.

Over the course of three days we managed to laugh, eat and in general enjoy each other: through the fall and gastro-entiritis of my youngest, through the who-knows-what-it-was illness of their youngest, through the multiple changes of schedules, through a slice of “normal” life.

The two boys are being well brought up, yet are still boys. Nary a harsh word, nary a scolding yet they were put to rights when they stepped over the border. Love!

Love also let us enjoy the time together in spite of the stress of all the supposed “upsets”; love kept us going when it was rough and love will forever be in my thoughts when I recall those few days.

We will have other visits, either here or at their house and they may well go much easier without messes and accidents, but I’m betting that this one is going to be the one we remember.

The icing on the cake: the message that the eight-year old left on my mini white board – if saying goodbye without prodding is not a message of love I don’t know what is! I have been unable to erase it all week.

P.S. the “yes!” was the result of my handing him the almost-empty Nutella jar.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Getting things done or…


It was a lazier than lazy day – did my horoscope predict this, who knows, but in any case even though I had slept well I awoke lacking the essential energy to “get things done”, a term that usually means cleaning, sorting, book keeping, washing etc. and not the more pleasant aspects of life such as sending cards to friends, having lunch or coffee etc.

I managed coffee with M – for the first time in a long time as either I have been gone or she busy.

But most admit that upon my return home I played a few computer games, finished my current novel then, on the spur of the moment and because the lovely weather outside had me feeling guilty about not being out, took a walk before doing a spot of shopping including buying the fixings for salad for lunch (another thing that I hadn’t done in awhile).

After lunch there was the need to relax: the view from both the chair in my bedroom as well as from one side of the bed is great.

Then it was time for my afternoon coffee followed by cocktails with friends and catching up: for the first time we found ourselves without any of the adult children, weird, but fun.

TV and more reading and the day was done.

Babette has the right idea - a nap in the sun
Nothing useful got “done” yet I lived well yesterday and, all things said and done, isn’t that the point in life – to enjoy it!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lunch in the Park or…

A lovely spring day.

A great combination: errands needing to be run, things needing to go to younger son’s flat and time to leisurely have lunch.

It was a beautiful day and all went well so I decided that I deserved lunch at the Botanical Gardens. If my first round didn’t produce a parking, the second had someone pulling out right in front of me close the entrance: it was meant to be!

There were tables in the sun protected from the wind, the meal was delicious (I discovered this restaurant several months ago, but rarely have time to get there) and the walk in the park thereafter produced a few photos of the first timid flowers.

Having enjoyed all of these even the drive in stop-and-go traffic upon the return didn’t phase me as there was the view of the lake and Mont Blanc to be enjoyed.

Absolutely delicious - a mixed salad as well.
One of the crocus spots in front of the former bird cage


Friday, March 10, 2017

Joy in a jar

Now I do realize that this is the International day of the Woman, but the jar I am talking about has nothing to do with cosmetics or the fact that it is “our” day.

No, this is the wonderful, ever so pleasant surprise of last Sunday morning.

My younger son had cleaned out and sorted yet more items and handed me a few jars of jam as he is no longer eating sugar nor did he ever eat much jam. I didn’t pay any attention until I took a look that morning: among them was a small jar of Elderberry jelly.  Now there is only one person I know that makes Elderberry jam – my brother-in-law’s mother. How Scott ended up with one – and when – is totally immaterial as it was still perfect when I opened it. My Sunday breakfast was not only tasty, but filled with good will towards N – long may she thrive… and make Elderberry jam. Her other specialty is popcorn balls and the memory of those is enough to make me salivate as well.

Indeed joy in a jar.

Elderberry jam by N.M.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Virtual purchases or….

Some of my favorite things.

My generation of course remembers very well the song in Sound of Music where Julie Andrews sings “My Favorite Things” – one of my favorite paragraphs in that is
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
brown paper packages tied up with strings,
these are a few of my favorite things.”
Maybe that is partially responsible for my wrapping presents in brown paper!

In any case we all have “things” that we like: things that we see that not only are out of our budgets, but also probably won't fit in with our current housing, lifestyle, etc.
I have a friend who whilst in an antique store or at the flea market picks out pieces of furniture (price no object here), pictures and other items for her imaginary manor.

Recently I attended a great secondhand goods fair and was very pleased with myself at the end of the visit when I had purchased nothing! However I did have my favorites and have collected them virtually, i.e. took pictures, so still have the pleasure if not the actual item.

 This procedure has possibilities!

A lovely large chair

Oil and Vinegar jars

Glass pitcher
a beautiful children's chair

Perfect for my garden, but couldn't find
a price never mind how to transport it!

My favorites, but small and very expensive

Friday, March 3, 2017

Time flies – and so do I or…

Yet another spill.

I had managed a whole 14 months without taking a tumble so guess that it was too good to be true!

This morning I managed to break that record: whilst coming up on the sidewalk after having crossed the street there were two women discussing so I didn’t watch my feet and caught the tip of my right toe on the curb – flat on my face.

I am not a pretty sight nor will I be for some time, but the good news is that
  • I saw no stars
  • Nor the moon
  • My face although scraped raw right down the middle needed no surgery (now some might accuse me of doing this on purpose so that I can have esthetic surgery, but those who themselves have had surgery know very well, that unless absolutely a medical necessity the very thought becomes an anathema).
  • Didn’t break either glasses, teeth or nose
  • Didn’t re-break the arm – a bit sore tonight I must admit
  • Scraped one knee but not badly
  • My fat lip will perhaps help me not eat so much in the next few days (right – the thought is good, but I am sure that I will find a way around the fact).

Did finally let myself be talked into going to emergency care – and as a precaution had x-rays of my neck and vertebra – all in order.  And did you know that to get a decent picture of the last one in one’s neck that one needs to tilt one’s head slightly back and open one’s mouth as widely as possible? Yet another bit of knowledge that I could perhaps have done without.

So maybe I should take flying lessons: if both time and I are going to take wings perhaps we need strong ones!

Who needs a stiff upper lip when one has a fat lower one?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Slow down my life or...

"tempus fugit"

I thought that the “Thought for today” a couple of months ago was ever so appropriate yesterday – or was that several days ago - or yet again today? Time has slipped out of my hands, races forward at a frightening speed and doesn’t want to stretch out in order for me to enjoy all that there is to enjoy.

« Every noon as the clock hands arrive at twelve, / I want to tie the two arms together, / And walk out of the bank carrying time in bags. -Robert Bly, poet (b. 23 Dec 1926) »

One can spend time, kill time, use time wisely and there is even an expression « to save time », but I am not convinced that the latter is true.

Have you ever tried to hold onto that minute, that hour, that day ? And been successfull ?

And why is there a « Father time » but no « Mother time » I ask you – o.k. I know the answer to that one, mothers never have enough time so it’s useless to give us more to play with than we can handle. We may be organized and competent in many, many ares, but saving time is probably not one of them.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Christmas in February or…

We have perfected the art of partying all the time using most anything for an excuse.
Of course I could also say that we have perfecting being late, but there were totally valid reasons.

And we are talking about two lots of “Christmas” – the one with my neighbors, both on my side and the upper ones as well as the one with my former housemate and her husband.

Thus it was that in this one week in February, I celebrated “catch-up” Christmas two nights in a row.

Not much of an excuse for being so late with the direct neighbors other than trying to find one night where five adults are all free at the same time isn’t easy what with the grandkids, the selling of a house, the correcting of thesis, life in general.

Then for my former house-mate and her husband it is the fact that they aren’t always in Switzerland; there was my bout of flu, followed by a bad cold; when they did return we couldn’t find an evening where we all three were free (good thing that we weren’t trying to incorporate even more persons, like my two sons) and so it was that both landed in the same week!

And, interestingly enough, both were well enjoyed, lively with discussions and good humor abounding. Not having to compete with all the usual parties led to much more relaxed events and in the case of last night where one of my presents was spring flowers more color.

Long live not doing the usual at the “right” time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My work impediments

We all know procrastinators; we ourselves all have a tendency to put things off when the weather outside is bad (the urge to simply sit and read, watch the fire or catch up on a movie or TV series takes precedence over say – paying bills, putting together documents for the taxes, filing, etc.); when we have too many interruptions; when we just don’t seem to get the push or our minds are contemplating the upcoming weekend.

I however often have an even better excuse: lack of mobility at the keyboard.

Think she's hidden something interesting under here?

Sleep on her hand and keep a paw there as well just to make sure!

I'm so cute and cuddly that she won't move me, I know.

Sometimes we are amenable to leaving her get something done.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Then there is the cold wind…

Various lengths of icicles

Same with added spray

Think that there was some wind?

Guess which side faces the lake?

Which we don’t love quite so much, but which provides us with gorgeous photo opportunities.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One of the reasons…

I love where I live: the seasons.
Spring is a great new beginning, summer is wonderful as long as one can get either
to the mountains or the beach for coolness. Fall is my favorite, but winter needs to also
be winter. 

This past weekend we finally got snow.

Corsier - looking towards the lake Friday night

Details of the above

Sunset in the alps Saturday

Early morning sun on the alps

The cows with extra thick pelts

Peek-a-boo with the alps

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

“No man is an island”

Is one of my favorite songs, then the  « A THOUGHT FOR TODAY » was the following.
Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest. The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves ... But the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean's bottom. -William James, psychologist and philosopher (11 Jan 1842-1910)

How beautiful.
This so succinctly explains the connections that we have among human beings as well, some links not being immediately seen, others more evident, but all just as valuable.

The ability to reach out and touch someone by word, look or gesture ; from the often seemingly trite and unimportant communications to the recognizably profound, we are linked.

Perhaps this is the greatest strength of social media – it allows us to re-connect with persons from our past – it re-inforces those ties with people living far away – it allows us to « meet » new people, « hear » new ideas and in general be « connected ».

Now this doesn’t mean that I intend to spend hours, or even minutes per day on my computer checking FaceBook and others (in fact some I have chosen to not pursue at all – one also needs to reserve most of one’s time for those who are physically present in our lives), however knowing that I can look and see what a high school friend is up to, to realize that on a next trip I might well plan on dropping in on another long-lost friend allows me
to know that I am not alone ; to also know that I can be of use to someone else in my life.

We are not islands – we are linked – a very comforting thought in the world’s business and seeming anonymity.

The "lone" cyprus
Redwoods 2011

Redwoods 2011