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

People…


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.