Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Unexpected Joys

Sophocles was entirely right: there is no greater joy than that, which is unexpected.

My day was a panoply of such joys: a telephone call and long conversation with my oldest son – out of the blue; a letter, which at first I took as coming from a cousin in England turned out to be from my younger son – again totally unexpected; a massage, which if planned was so relaxing that it was better than normal; an e-card from a good friend celebrating with me the “nothing” of yesterday; coffee on short notice with yet another friend; lunch in a new place – again unexpected.

May today’s unexpected joys remind me that one has only to recognize the beauty of an unexpected call, letter, gift or happening to enjoy it.

A card and letter from India

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Nothing, nada, niente, nichts

There are some words that can be so negative – the above would be one as it usually means that one didn’t receive something, that one lost out on an opportunity, that one has nothing to look forward to – or various other dark scenarios.

Webster’s (an ancient version as the copy that I have actually has my maiden name written on the fly) defines “nothing” as no thing, not anything; nought as in opposed to anything, something or someone of little value, lack of value etc.

However it can also very positive, especially when that lack of existence, nonexistence or nothingness means “no change from last year”! “Nothing new”, all is well.

For those of you who have never been diagnosed with a serious illness, never mind cancer it isn’t perhaps significant: to those of us who have confronted the beast and survived to tell the tale, “nothing” is one of the most wonderful words in the English language! Yesterday after the usual mammography, echography and doctor’s consultation hearing “nothing” was a bright spot in an otherwise gray (weather-wise) day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In the middle of the night….

Is part of a song "The River of Dreams" by American musician Billy Joel. It is the title track and first single from his 1993 album River of Dreams. The song was a hit, peaking at #3 on the United States and UK charts, making it Joel's highest charting of the 1990s.

But today for me “in the middle of the night” has another meaning: the gremlins that plague
Microsoft and Skype were having fun in the middle of the night!

From my Skype panel and my older son came the following:

S : You spammed me! Don't know how that happened. Did you log into Skype from a public or non secured computer?

Me : To their credit Microsoft picked it up - when I opened up my computer this morning just now they said that I had to sign in - then they wrote that it seemed as if someone else was using my account so I had to create another password, re-do my security contact etc. Interesting - especially since I wasn't on a public computer nor was my computer with which I skype ever out of the office. I am pretty sure that it happened when I used my mini-mac upstairs the other day to skype with S. This means that my mini-mac might not be secure? Anyway my Skype account is re-booted and I won't be using my mini-mac to skype this weekend. In fact since I will take my cell phone and leave it on my roaming days I might not take the computer at all. However as I hate writing e-mails on the cell phone I probably will still take the mini-mac. Love you and sure am happy about the news!

S : Cool, Glad it got caught!

Me : Pretty sure that I know now what happened. In checking my Skype I notice the WF - who lives in the Philippines - sent me a link and a message.... from now on I will also close Skype when I finish for the day instead of simply shutting it down. I am never logged off because of that. Anyway all is well (ps his message was at 2:41 am and if I look at my side bar I see that probably the whole world got caught as everyone in my skype contacts sent messages at 2:41 am (including Aunt Pat as I never had the guts to take her off).

S : Wow, seems pretty wide scale then. IT people will definitely be on it.
It is more the targeted hacking that worries me.
Not the case here.

Me : Exactly.  What's even more interesting is that they didn’t spam the group conversations as it is only individuals on my bar and not for example the conversations K&K. Still all 29 of my individual contacts show another link at 2:41 am.

End of conversation – and 20 minutes later I had compensated for what the gremlins had accomplished whilst I was sound asleep… in the middle of the night!

Kudos also to Microsoft for having good algorithms.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Where does the sun shine?

Certainly not anywhere that I have been recently.

Oh yes, we have had the odd hour, the even less seldom day, but in general gray reigns supreme throughout Europe. I took a 6-hour train ride from Geneva, Switzerland to Stuttgart, Germany Saturday and it rained the whole way! There was a 10-minute bit of blue sky early Sunday morning, then back to the gray.

To the point that even I am starting to miss the sun: if I say “even I” that is because the main reason that I returned to Europe way back when was because I was tired of seeing the sun every day! I know, I know, many of you find that hard to understand, but once I had known seasons I missed them. In Southern California there are many advantages weather-wise, but seasons aren’t one of them.

Still the lack of sunshine is starting to wear even on my nerves.

Two things alleviate that: the weekend trip to Stuttgart, Germany to celebrate the 80th birthday of one of my husband’s university friends and the short movie I received this morning from a friend in California.

I had a moment of epiphany: where is the sun?
In the laughs of my friends; in their eyes when we share memories that go back 45 years; in their remembrance of my husband, their friend, who has been gone now for 18 years, but who lives on in their thoughts; the sun lives in the hearts of my friends whether those of long date or those recently met. The sun lives in love – that I have received, that I have given. The sun lives in the smiles of those I encounter every day.

Although I would like the physical sun to shine a tad more than it has been doing, I’ll take the friend’s sunshine any and every day to lighten the darker corners of my mind.

another year, another storm

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Tea by tea and

Day by day: my wonderful life.

My local mini mart, which also serves as our post office and a coffee/tea and snackroom tries to be innovative. One of the manager’s social events is an “after work” on Friday nights from 18:30 – 20:00. I have attended most of them and it is amazing how many people one doesn’t know or see in the village as they work in town and only return in the early evening. I have met some very interesting people and although he didn’t hold them the coldest nights of February he will be re-starting them this week.

Another activity is tea-tasting: yes, you read correctly. On most Thursday mornings there is a lady who comes out and with a proper tea pot (for want of a better word: this is more like a samovar that the Turkish and Russian and Middle Eastern countries use).

Not the actual one, but her's is very glittery like this one.

I had taken my car into the garage for its annual check last night and had intended having breakfast at home. That is until I awoke to – finally – gloriously blue skies and the sun, which I had begun to forget.  I walked up for my usual coffee. That in itself did me a lot of good, but finding the tea lady there as well I of course had to sample today’s offering.

A “chocolate” tea. I was pleasantly surprised as one didn’t really smell chocolate, it was simply a very subtle flavor on the palate once one had swallowed.

I did not buy any although I had also loved her “Russian flavor” a couple of weeks ago as I myself have some 25 different types of tea in the house – and my younger son in leaving left another dozen or so. I am not likely to run out of tea any time soon and am slowly working my way through all these teas by brewing a pot every morning.

the "tea box" at home - almost empty

The tea our Thursday morning lady sells.

But only once I have had my coffee!

So tea after tea and day after day I continue to enjoy life.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

At loose ends or…

Sunday sloth.

Now that’s an oxymoron for those who know me: being at loose ends that is!

However, every once in awhile the stars align – or don’t – and I have a weekend without
any plans! If yesterday got quickly filled running around and not doing much, followed by an indulgent “let’s catch up on recorded TV programs”, today I woke up to fog and absolutely nothing on my agenda.

I love a Sunday morning where I can relax, have breakfast in my pjs, clean the odd drawer, finally take a shower and wash my hair, but enough is enough.

Having cleaned the silverware drawer, done the personal grooming bit, cleaned the glass shower door and even thrown in a wash for good measure it was only 11 and although I need to re-check my tax prep to make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything, this is NOT something I am willing to waste a Sunday on.

As the friend with whom I am to do “something” this week never answered my email of Friday night (there are actually people who don’t check their e-mails every day???) proposing going to the movies today, I thought hmmmmm – oh yes perhaps catch up with the son who is in town: he didn’t answer his phone. Never mind another friend had sent an email complaining about the fog so I know that I can pop up there sometime this afternoon.

I should (and that’s a word that I am trying to ban from my vocabulary – who says that I should?), I mean I could do a half a dozen things, but de-frosting the freezer, throwing out files, sorting out clothes, cleaning a half a dozen spots – none of those exactly appeal.

Ah saved by the phone – son is free and I will go have coffee and cake this afternoon; probably stop by the local friend’s as well and catch up on their news. These social plans allow me to now do the next bit of sorting, cleaning or otherwise occupying my time usefully. See there’s always a plan B.

Friday, March 2, 2018

All is widdershins today…

Oh I do love those unknown, unused ancient words.
I get such pleasure every day out of A-word-a-day.

And today’s word sits well on my tongue, never mind suiting today’s weather conditions.
At least I don’t have to go out in it like yesterday so my day actually shouldn’t be
“widdershins” but rather “deasil”.

Go ahead, I know that you want to – look them up!

just like I love "wordle" for inventing these.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Snow day in Switzerland…

It could be worse.

Oh yes, it was back a couple of days ago when the temperatures were 8.5°C just outside my kitchen window. But who would have thought that snow would stop everything in Switzerland?!!!

Now I do remember that back when I first arrived in Switzerland - just across the border in France – winters were “normal”, ie it did snow and sometimes the snow actually stayed for days or weeks on the ground throughout the winter.

Those times have changed and this year’s winter has been a hodge-podge of spring, summer, and finally winter (ok if you call Siberian cold and -8 +C “winter”).

Now, and again for once as the weathermen predicted, it is the first day of the meteological “spring” so of course it snowed. Now only did it snow – remember this was predicted – it snowed enough (again predicted) to totally wreck chaos in the public transportation system.  Even the airport was shut this morning.  We have had so many warm winters the past 20 years that busses no longer have snow tires or chains and when as was the case this time the snow goes down on frozen solid ground, streets become skating rinks and busses and cars the fun (for those not employing them) of the bumper cars that one finds in amusement parks.

Believe me it is a lot less amusing in real life, but the snow is beautiful, I was warned so set the alarm early enough to walk to my first appointment if necessary. But managed with the car - just slow.

However, later in the day (much later and I expected things to be clear!) I had to go into town for another meeting - total chaos. Apparently in the city of Geneva they no longer salt the streets. That being said I didn't see a snowplow of any sorts and the busiest cross streets were the worst with either lumps of frozen snow hard enough to pierce a tire or slush so bad that one couldn't get through. My return to the countryside was a delight as here our local departments did salt, did plow and the streets were actually better than in town. I mean really!

Will enjoy the pristine white at least until tonight when it is supposed to rain.

From my balcony this morning

The front drive once I shoveled out the gate

Looking through the side window