Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It’s started or…

Help – it’s way too early

I received my first Christmas card yesterday before I have even gotten around to considering writing any myself.

OK this is perhaps a reply to my on-line Thanksgiving greetings and the friend who sent is leaves around the 12th of December and won’t be back home until after the holidays.

I must say I admire her – especially as last year my Christmas letter never got written
at all: flu just after Christmas that lasted 10 days just wasn’t propitious for letter-writing and by the time I had caught up and recovered it was more like Easter!

This year I shall have to try and do better so let the cards roll in, that will perhaps stimulate my reciprocation. 

Still, a Christmas card in November? 

But I sure did enjoy this first one - gets me in the holiday mood so bless you J for being even more organized than I.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Enough already or…

How many more days will be labeled?

Black Friday,
Small Business Saturday
Cyber Monday and now
Giving Tuesday

If one goes to Wikipedia ( the number of “Black Fridays” boggles the mind, the latest of which is of course a selling mecca. Most people don’t even realize that the reason for it is the captive audience in the USA of those who have taken off the Friday in between Thanksgiving Thursday (I can coin labeled days with the best of them!) and the weekend that follows giving the retail industry the ideal opportunity to sell, sell, sell.

Cyber Monday. Again, according to Wikipedia, Cyber Monday was created in 2005 as a marketing tool to incite consumers to shop online in the USA. It too has spread to the rest of the world. Why, oh why, must we copy everything the USA does?

Giving Tuesday: a movement created to somewhat counteract Black Friday and Cyber Monday, although in my mind, simply another marketing tool

And somewhere in all that I missed something that hasn’t been largely touted, Small Business Saturday!  Totally understandable of course as small local businesses haven’t the advertising power of the large companies!

So how about
Wicked Wednesday (you decide what is wicked),
Thankful Thursday (we could use that one every week – no need to sell or tout anything but love)
Or – the best of all – Simply Sunday, Serene Sunday, Celebrating Sunday.

Listen friends, get off the consumer bank wagon; get out and either take a good look at the world of nature around you or interact with other humans; live your lives and enjoy them and we won’t need to label the days.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The luxury of being elsewhere

There is nothing quite like a vacation. One chooses a city, a beach, a country, a mountain.
One studies up on whatever culture, subject or destination one has chosen and gets on the road having duly arranged for air or train fare or having decided to take the car.
There is the enjoyment of planning; the excitement of actually doing and finally the quieter pleasure in the memories and photos of any given trip.

I will never downplay vacations.

But there is better: there is – back when I was renting in the mountains – and with a very few select people - the luxury of being elsewhere.

Being at a friend’s where one follows one’s own schedule and desires (and those do take into account the host or hostess with many a pleasant hour simply chatting, cooking together etc.) knowing that one is allowed to be at home in a way that one never actually is in one’s own home.

No normal schedule: no cleaning a drawer, a cupboard, the refrigerator – so one happily enjoys doing the dishes or mopping the floor because one wants to, not because one needs to or “should”. Here it is simply “could if I feel like it”.  No tasks needing done, no niggling in one’s mind that one should call so and so; visit another; plan something with a child, etc.

Here one can be egotistical – walk to the beach? Hmmm think I will; lay in bed reading half a day, no problem; eat breakfast at 10 or lunch at 11, have dinner or not it’s all delightfully possible.

I love my life at home and would probably be bored should I enjoy this state of affairs too long nevertheless I will return so mellow that it will take days to get back into a “normal” rhythm and life. Who cares? I highly suggest and hope that all my friends can experience, if not often, at least occasionally the luxury of being elsewhere.

Friday, November 24, 2017

We’re the “dindon de la farce” or…

The fall guy, taken for a ride, the captive audience, the idiot consumers.

One recent morning I headed for the train station – fortunately early, which although it isn’t my want, worked due to a train at the most reasonable hour of 10 a.m.  First glitch: bus dumping us out two stops early due to “heavy traffic jams in the area”.

OK so it was a glorgeous day (combination of glorious and gorgeous) and again having sufficient time I decided to walk the rest of the way: through the park, over the main bridge, re-connecting with my city.

Duly arrived in the train station I went to the kiosk to buy some of my normal reading material – and couldn’t believe my eyes when the cashier told me CHF 6.80 for a magazine that had a CHF 3.40 sticker on the cover – and which I bought for that price last week!

You’ve got to be kidding
Doubled from one edition to the other!

I had her run another one – labelled the same – and got the same results. Her supervisor wasn’t there so I said never mind. Went to another kiosk only to find the same price.

Who are we kidding here? Do they really think that we pay so little attention to prices? Even I will no longer purchase these magazines at those prices and I will make sure that all my local English-speaking friends are aware as well so they might as well pack them back up and send them to the publishers – the market is dry for the duration.

By-the-way I checked: it wasn’t a double edition nor a Christmas edition, just someone deciding that gouging the customer was fair.

Funnily enough the third glitch wasn’t one: they were saying that my train was 18 minutes late – good thing I didn’t take them at their word as we left only two minutes late. Oof lunch in Valence was safe.

A recent edition of Woman's Own that I bought for CHF 3.40

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Clean as a whistle or…

It would have been useful to have been a beer drinker!

After four days of a non-residue diet (and my mean non-residue or absolutely nothing that might stick to one’s ribs at all!) I was ready for the great event: a colonoscopy.

There is some question as to the origin of the phrase “as clean as a whistle” or “as slick as a whistle” but it was what came to mind after processing that last 2 liters of prep and 1 liter of water!

Some say it refers either to the ease of producing a whistle or to its clear tone.
Others that the basic idea suggests the clear, pure sound a whistle makes, or the slippery smooth surface of a willow stick debarked to make a whistle. But there is also a chance that the phrase may have originally been 'as clean as a whittle,' referring to a piece of smooth wood after it is whittled.'" (From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997.)

What it has to do with cleaning out one’s intestines I don’t know, but that is definitely how I felt going into the exam.

Good news: a five-year reprieve by which time I may (note the emphasis on MAY) have just barely forgotten the process.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Out of the blue…

Literally, as it had to make its’ way across the ocean from one continent to the other
and metaphorically as totally unexpected.

Not many things in life are as good as a letter from a wandering child.
This one was special and will be treasured.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A great rainy day or

How to entertain one’s self when the weather finally turns gray and one has been accustomed to sun.


We have been spoiled this year by a lack of rain and too much sun.  Now before anyone gets upset with my priorities, it must be remembered that one of my reasons for returning to Europe from the sunny California where I grew up was for the seasons. I love the mix and if I sometimes have been known to complain about the “eternal gray” only those of you who have lived a long time in Geneva, Switzerland will be able to empathize. There have been years when it turned gray at the beginning of November and proceeded to only be sunny if one had the odd January day where the cold wind blew: and that until the end of April.

However global warning exists even here in Switzerland (the glaciers are melting at record speed, ski resorts are trying to recycle themselves into summer activities and we now have many, many, more stores and office with air conditioning although it is still hard to get a permit for a private home).

Forgotten is the heat wave of May/June, but even the most adamant followers of the sun have begun to notice the lack of rain.  Lack that is during the week and on Saturdays as for 3 straight Sundays we have had rain.

Faced with yet another Sunday of drizzles, one needed some new ideas and here is what I came up with: take a good friend, meet around 10:00 for coffee in a different place from the usual; proceed into town to a museum (all of the city-owned ones are free except for the special exhibits and there is certainly enough to explore to cover many a rainy day) – this time the Museum of Art and History near the Old Town. An added advantage was the fact that there was street parking near the museum alleviating the necessity to pay for parking.

My favorite Hodler: The Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau

"L'Orage"/ The Storm -Alexandre Calame - 1839

Have a leisurely lunch in Carouge: we chose La Bourse and had delicious steaks with rucola salad and parmesan chips – accompanied of course by a decent red wine: sigh – they were out of the Pont de Soupirs so guess I will just have to return. Split: one to visit a house-bound friend, myself to visit a very good friend and neighbor in the hospital. Back home to check on e-mails, write this blog, watch a bit of TV and enjoy a relaxing evening.

Not only a great rainy Sunday, but simply a very good day as well.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Splitting hairs or

How retirees have fun.

I have a reputation, not always deserved, of being on time.
In fact some of my local friends swear that one can set one’s clock by my
Arrivals – to the point that once when I was a quarter of an hour late one particular
Friend sent a text message to find out if I was o.k.

Yes, simply stuck in traffic.

Today I had lunch programmed with this particular friend (also those of the
“best hamburgers in the world”!) and the lady of the house requested that “exceptionally” I not come until 12:15 as she had some errands to run and did want to be home and prepared
when I showed up.

To this I replied that we could even make it 12:30 as I was not always that rigid.
Loved her answer: o.k. 12:22:30 it is.

I had to finangle a bit to make that work, but I was ringing the doorbell at 12:22 and some seconds.

This is how we-who-no-longer-work-for-money entertain ourselves.

By-the-way the burgers are still every bit as good as touted in my original blog