Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I’ve lost the knack….

For plane travel.

Due to I don’t-know-what I realized halfway through 2018 that I had not taken any flights – so decided to make it a no-fly year. Worked out just fine and this year was set to be the same until a friend’s youngest son and his wife (civil wedding last year) maintained their church wedding in Portugal.  Due to lack of time and the distances involved - a road trip would have been at least 15 hours under the best of circumstance – for a longer trip I booked my flight way back in March. For the privilege of coming back on a Sunday I coughed up serious money on a line that is known for its cheap rates. Still worth it to be there, but to not have to take two weeks.

At the last minute whilst checking in, I noticed that they had what they call a “hands free” option available so purchased that on the outgoing flight. This meant that I simply dropped off my cabin luggage in a priority lane and was free to wander the airport without having to drag it along and open up everything going through security. A big bonus was being able to still take out my usual larger hand sack so that I had reading material, my small purse, etc. A very good deal in my eyes.

That worked wonderfully well. I did not purchase it however for the return trip and for the first time in my life actually ended up leaving something in the security check bins. Actually two things: shortly after leaving security with my luggage I realized that my cell phone was not in my pocket – yikes I had thrown it in the bin at the last minute knowing that they would make me go back if I didn’t and totally forgot to take it out (probably under my purse at that point and I was wrapped up in the wonder of a bin line that not only had separate slots for every bin, but also had an automatic stacking process at both ends. No more bins piling up, running into each other and the like).  Big “oops” moment that.
I immediately back-tracked and enquired of the custom’s official on that line – ouf – he had seen it and taken it out of the bin before it went under the counter. All I had to do was open it, put in the pin code to prove it was mine – and it was – mine again that is.

I walked away only to realize the first time I saw my reflection in a mirror that I had also left a scarf. Sigh. Just not used to plane travel any more. Still the loss might have been much greater and I can chalk this lack of attention up to three late nights with more food in three days than I would normally eat in a month.

Great friends, great wedding, more than enough partying.
I’ll excuse myself for the lack of the traveling knack this time.

My camera has seen better days... still didn't want to loose it.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Onions and art

Many people dislike onions, they are praised for “catching” germs, they are dammed for causing food poisoning; someone always has an opinion on onions.

I personally love onions, but do tend to use more the white and purple varieties as although still flavoursome, cause less gastric upsets.

However, I have rarely seen anything quite as beautiful is this slide show – link below.

I wish that I could give credit to the artist, but was unable to find any information. Enjoy

Then by dint of several searches I was able to locate the original - always glad to recognize talent!

If for some reason you are unable to open this link you can search for it
doing the following

"aux-petits_oignons" filetype:ppt

Friday, August 2, 2019

Hanging raindrops out to dry.

As we have had such warm weather this summer, one day I got out the old clothesline out to air dry our wash. Although I absolutely abhor stiff towels, most anything else is just fine. Talk about a trip back to childhood – the smell of sun-dried clothes will do it every time. As a child, I hated having to help pin and take in the wash so have mostly avoided it as an adult, but special circumstances and the thought of saving electricity had me re-thinking former dislikes.

Yesterday I had washed the tablecloths and put them out to dry. Fortunately the last thing – in the dark – I remembered to take them off as it poured during the night.

The result was very artistic I thought thus my sharing with you:

Raindrops hung out to dry.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August 1st: Number 15 and

Changing traditions.

For various reasons, not the least of which was the fear of another heatwave, never mind the lack of energy this summer due to the ups and downs in the weather, I decided not to have the annual 1st of August gathering at my home.

I did tell a few of the regulars that I ran into that I wasn’t going to, but there may be others who think that they have not been invited. I apologize.

With the “coming of age” last year, priorities (ok energy levels as well) have changed.  I have also become a grandmother and – surprise – everything everyone ever said about that state is true: love, love, love! It is one of the purest and truest of loves.

So, instead of having all my friends (Hmmm, perhaps a fall or winter party when I can be sure of cooler temperatures!) I simply decided to have the “N°.15 ers”, ie family and family-who-have-lived-here over the years.

Former housemates, current housemate, the younger son who is back living here for a few months, the older son who moved on at age 19, and two VERY WELCOME additions who will, I hope, eventually live here, that is my daughter-in-law and my grandson.

It was the baby’s first night outing as well; I am blessed to have been chosen. He fussed, but that was to be expected and at least now they have finally proven to me that he can as every time I have seen him so far he has started out crying, but stopped the minute I picked him up. But after his two-month visit to the paediatrician, a visit to the physical therapist yesterday then being drug across town in major traffic, I empathize. My “guests” had to fill up on chips and my younger son’s more-than-delicious guacamole whilst I cuddled and walked the baby in the attempt to soothe his pains and allow his parents a few minutes to bond with family and enjoy some moments without worrying (ok been there and so remember all the parties in which I only half participated – an eye and a thought are always on one’s child).

Once the burgers were finally on the grill and part of the way-too-much meal was eaten, the parents and baby were back on the road. The rest of us gathered in the living room and enjoyed champagne and dessert – one of the most decadent chocolate cakes I have ever had the pleasure of eating!

It was the best of celebrations.

Especially as today is the Swiss National Holiday and I could sleep in, clean up leisurely, eat breakfast in the most wonderful of environments and will later celebrate that in my village.

A new tradition begins at N° 15.

Monday, July 29, 2019

My social club….

The local grocery store.

I kid you not: today has to be some kind of a record. I went for a coffee as I needed to go to both the pharmacy and pick up some groceries. The coffee shop up on the upper floor by the post office and pharmacy serves good coffee and I was headed that way when I bumped into a neighbour and mother of a son with whom my youngest went to elementary school!
Hadn’t seen anyone in that family for years so surprise number one that we even recognized each other. Caught up briefly and exchanged telephone numbers so that sometime this fall when we are both back from all our travels we can get together. Whilst talking to her I saw another lost-from-view person, but obviously wasn’t so impolite as to interrupt my conversation so we simply nodded to each other.

I did make it up the stairs to coffee and had just settled in when I saw another close acquaintance coming out of the pharmacy. She lives in town and was accompanied so didn’t pop up and great her. Still.

After coffee off to collect groceries where I ran into three other people, again one of whom I hadn’t seen since my older boy’s scouting days!

As I was checking out I also chatted briefly with one of the neighbourhood restaurant owners. Good to see her as I thought that they were closed for a month. Turns out, no, only 10 days. Yeah – a place to eat that is reasonable and that we all like is available.

Tomorrow I think I’ll stay away from my local grocery store – can’t take the excitement.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


Opened up the house; liberated, fed, watered and cleaned their kitty litter – Babette and Cléa; having cleaned up what I left in the living room last night as well as put away and/or
otherwise taken care of what my son had washed; having washed the counter tops whilst making my breakfast; having had said breakfast, leisurely, looking out on the garden, and having done a Sudoku in my Sunday paper it was finally time!

Time to get dressed.

Oh blessed Sunday morning!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Friendship is….

Many things to many people. I could write entire pages on what friendship is.
However, amongst all those others, one is currently very precious: the empathy and
Greetings I received from a friend across the ocean who read about our terrible heat.

For all of you in similar circumstances:

Just want to send you
some coolness! 🛫your friend in Silicon Valley! ⛄

 miracuously it is cooler today!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

One does what one has to do…

 Or ironing on the balcony!

Many of you are unaware of the heat wave scorching Europe right now – or are thinking “thank goodness it’s not me”.
We went from hot to hotter to almost-unbearable, but we survived-to-tell-the-tale.

Today it is finally breezy and one recalls what it was like when life was more bearable.
As it was, the days were spent doing as little as possible, airing in the middle of the night in order to shut up entirely the whole day and still suffocating.

Sleep was rather non-existent unless one had a north-facing bedroom.

I bless the day that I changed the windows for triple glaze and more importantly the old wooden frames for PVC as there are now no longer leaks through the wood! Then I installed a ceiling fan – on two it does permit me to sleep – but of course, I am using electricity.
The last of the three elements that have led to better comfort in my bedroom although it is facing the setting sun and exposed to full sunlight as of about 13:00 are the new awnings. Thanks to a friend I knew that there existed a vertical piece in addition to the traditional slanted normal awning. This effectively seals the balcony from the direct sun – although one can see through it fairly well.

Saving the “mattress in the cellar” for the next heat wave.

All this means that ironing anything in the house is a total no-go; have also forbidden the use of the oven for the duration and actually prefer that people living in the house eat cold or heat in the microwave. I prefer going out, but finding a reasonably cool place to eat is also a challenge given that most of Europe does not yet have air conditioning.

So thanks to the early morning shade on the balcony that is where my ironing board has landed. I can iron a couple of shirts, sometimes even three items, without any of that nasty heat getting into my bedroom. A BIG plus, if odd: I am sure that not many people iron on the balcony.

Never mind the glorious view: greenery, lake and the Jura mountains in the distance!

The cat’s pajamas…

Ah the memories this phrase evokes.

My little sister died of colon cancer in 2012 – is it really so long ago – seems like yesterday.
She was a schoolteacher, never married and never had children – she was the perfect aunt
Though to her six nephews – they still miss her.

What, you might ask, does that have to do with the expression “the cat’s pajamas” – an expression that turned up in my word-a-day yesterday. Reading it today brought a flood of memories of that sister: her bright eyes and curly locks as a child, her strength as well – one didn’t lightly run into my sister as she was a lot solider than they seemingly padding warranted. I was gone for most of her teenager years, but as a young adult, then adult we were close in spite of the physical distance and I visited her in everyone of her houses, even taking my younger son for a four-month stint so that he could improve his English.

She was a woman of phrases, going through them by phases: two remain with me today
“the cat’s pajamas” and “whatever, it’s all beautiful”.

How lovely to be reminded of the blessing of that sister.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

“What a difference a day makes…”

First made popular by Dinah Washington (it won her a Grammy in 1959) then by Aretha Franklin, and many others, the song is of course about romantic love.
I have a new interpretation – and a new love:
My first grandchild was born this week!

“And that difference is you”.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Upside down world

It’s an upside down world when my purchases at the flea market cost less than the pastry that I purchased to go with afternoon coffee!

A big bonus to being here at this time of the year is the yearly flea market that takes over the entire town. I love attending flea markets, weekly, monthly or yearly, but rarely buy anything of consequence – hopes are high that I will find that perfect article, and sometimes I do, but more often than not it’s simply the fun of checking out other people’s junk and trying to convince myself that I don’t need it. I have also learned that I can detect trends – a glut of raclette pans on this one means that one of our favourite meals – cheese raclette – is no longer as popular world-wide as it once was.

I digress. Managed to restrain myself and only bought two items: a gorgeous silk short-sleeved shirt, which I am hoping will fit my younger son, but if not will make a lovely, cool summer nightie and a lemon/orange juicer. The latter was brand new and certainly better looking than the one it will replace at home when I return. Total price 2 euros!

Then I stopped in to one of the numerous local bakery and pastry shops looking for a treat. The “Paris Brest” costs double almost what my flea market purchases did. Ah life, sweet life. Well worth the Euros 3.90!

2 euros

3.90 euros

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Unexpected bliss: it’s raining….

It’s pouring – but the old man isn’t snoring – the ladies are having a day in.

I have always known that weather predictions never work for me. If they say it’s going to rain, I’ll awake to sun and vice versa. This morning is the vice versa. Nothing in any of the weather channels that we consulted yesterday mentioned rain – a bit of cloud cover eventually yes, nothing more. So, of course, we awoke to the wonderful sound of major rain on the roof.

Fortunately we have leftover bread, I have a good book to be read and the rain will eventually stop, life is good in my end of the world.

Did make it down to the beach during a dryer moment - love a gray day!

reflections on the river

gray days don't bother castles on the hill


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Same ‘ol, same ‘ol

Can be VERY positive.

Hallelujah – finally got some of the above “sentence”.
I am currently visiting a friend in Southern France, one who not only was a renter in a flat many, many years ago, but the one who moved into no. 15 upon my invitation when we were commiserating yet another flat falling through – with my favourite tipple: champagne or rather mostly sparkling wine.

Fast-forward over a decade: she married and spends more time in Southern France then in Geneva and although we are fairly good at continuing to go out for sushi when she is in town, and I was fairly good about visiting, somehow for almost two years we have not had any time just the two of us.

I decided to come down even before I knew that her husband had a business trip (mind you he, bless his heart, does everything he can to facilitate her staying in touch with her female friends and the two of them also lived together at my house for almost a year).

Last night she supplied “same ‘ol, same ‘ol”: it was anything but!

Old favorites

Monday, April 15, 2019

Don’t say I can’t!

One of my English women’s magazines has an article entitled “don’t say I can’t” which is usually about some 40-something deciding to take another job, go into another field, do something unusual like jumping off a cliff, etc.
The general gist is that simply because she is a woman and perhaps past her prime according to many, there is no reason why she can’t start a new life, take up a new hobby or job, go somewhere she’s never been and the like.

For me it is usually connected to that idiot phrase “you’re a women, so you shouldn’t….” and I am sure that all my female friends can find plenty of endings to that phrase!

Living alone I occasionally try and line up “heavy” jobs for my younger son, but inevitably he is either traveling or I forgot to ask and something needs to go out, etc. Sometimes I can wait until Friday and enlist the help of my cleaning lady: another woman who does more “manly” things than is deemed appropriate. Between the two of us we have moved heavy stones, unplugged drains, tossed out beds – whatever needs to be done.

On my own I have been known to put an entire sofa out on the curb for pickup on the cumbersome objects day, which we enjoy once a month (flip over, roll end to end depending upon the piece or simply drag). In short I can do a lot without having to enlist the help of that stronger male.

Latest to date? I arrived a one of my local department stores and noticed that amongst the decoration things that they were selling at very good prices was an iron bench. Perfect for the garden I thought. OK only have my small Polo but it looked like it would fit (I also can estimated sizes and volumes rather well!) so I bought it, moved the car down to the floor that it was on and dragged it the twenty meters or so. Getting it into the car (it fit perfectly once I had both seats down with a few centimeters to spare) was more leveraging it up and in.

And so it goes – one does what one needs to, male or female!

now to get the cushion!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Food, or

One of the things I love about Switzerland

Food is one of life’s majors – not enough and one starves; too much and one becomes slightly or grossly overweight.
Therefore it is obviously of great importance to most of us, if not perhaps the first thing that comes to mind in any given day.
Those who know me, know that I like almost everything and am willing to attempt just about anything else (ok still can’t bring myself to sample insects although as a child I happily consumed chocolate covered ants).
I have had snails: drowned out by the garlic sauce
I have had oysters: slimy and got a bad one the first two times I tried, the third they were great so I stopped there.
I haven’t had frog’s legs but have heard that they simply taste like chicken.
I have had offal and the ones I didn’t know what they were were o.k. The though though has not had me inclined to indulge more.
I have had rabbit and horse meat: again unknowingly – fine at the moment, but I do avoid if there are other choices.
Haven’t met a cheese I didn’t like and although most wines are decent I now only drink those that I really like.
The past few days though have been rather a hodge podge of things I really, really like.
Saturday, son two and I had Indian in an Indian restaurant frequented by Indians.
Monday I had something I hadn’t had before: lentil moussaka with goats’ cheese topping.
Tuesday I went to Zurich with a friend and had veal in cream sauce with rösti (a better version of hash browns) and later in the afternoon one of the most decadent slice of chocolate desserts that I have ever had, and believe me I have sampled a few in my lifetime!

Eating gold at Sprungli in Zurich

They even write in the cappuccinos!

Wednesday it was kangaroo cooked on a hot slate, and today it was sushi.
All this and much more is readily available in Switzerland.
We even have decent vegetarian and vegan with more small places springing up.
Within a 5-minute drive I can get Thai, traditional French, gourmet French, pizzas straight out of pizza ovens, fondue and raclette, perch, great beef.
Am I hungry yet – no – lunch was sufficient but later I’ll enjoy perhaps some squash soup, some hummus and celery sticks or fennel.
Life, when it comes to my stomachis very fine indeed!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Blank or….

Wasted time, or...
The day I did nothing.

Ever have one of those days where you have no appointments, nothing urgent needing done, a lovely blank time. These don’t happen often in my life, but thanks to my protestant upbringing and totally ingrained work ethics I never seem to really enjoy them unless it’s
a weekend day.
Today I have managed to fritter away having “accomplished” nothing more than my morning coffee; chatting with a worker as they dismantled and hauled away the 4-5 story cement maker that has been standing across the street for over a year as they built 6 small apartment buildings; my afternoon coffee; a few video games; a meal at home (that’s what probably did it – no plans for lunch – what happened?); and now I prepare to pick up my car, which was in for its yearly service and go to dinner with friends.

OK perhaps I could label it a social day instead of a nothing-accomplished-day!

from "My Creative Shop"

Thursday, February 28, 2019


Several years ago I couldn’t resist and bought a National Geographic page-by-page calendar with sayings and photos: one for each day of the year.

There are many markers in this calendar and I find that from time to time looking up a particular day never grows old. As is usual the calendar is divided into 12 months with each month being dedicated to, for want of a better word, an emotion. The entire calendar was called a year of serenity and February’s theme: Joy

This last day of the month was a citation from Marguerite Yourcenar, a Belgium author, poetess, and translator amongst other talents. Her name, although looking rather Arab is simply a reinvention of her maiden name de Crayencour. “Every innocent joy is a reminder of Eden”.

One such is the fact, that were he still alive, a very good friend would have turned 100 today. My mother would have also reached that milestone this year – as would have many other parents of my current friends. It is a joy to recall the pleasure of friendship, the ties that bind us to family and friends.

May you all experience many joys today – look for them and they will find you.

From the "joy Jar" of the
Orfordville Lutheran Church
 It is fitting that the image I happened across to illustrate "joy" should come from a Lutheran church as one of my favorite bosses was a Lutheran pastor! Yet another of my many "life's little coincidences".

Monday, February 25, 2019

If only these sheets could talk…

I know, the usual expression is “if only these walls could talk” and I certainly never gave much thought to other items, which might be interesting until a couple of days ago.

I went to Martigny in the Valais to attend the yearly antique and flea market on Friday.
I managed to walk away without purchasing anything, until that very last trip around when I “cracked” for several old postcards of a place very dear to me: Les Marécottes. Never mind how much they cost, they will end up in a scrapbook of memories of that particular place – one that I discovered when I was 5 months pregnant with my first child and one to which I returned regularly until I stopped renting there a couple of summers ago. Life changes.

But that isn’t this story, other than to locate where I was this past weekend. Having decided that my own company was to be enjoyed (doesn’t happen often) I did not call any of my local friends, picked a hotel, went up to Sion to check out my favorite sights and stores there then returned to Martigny and the Forum hotel for the night. Had a lovely meal, slept well and was raring to go the next day.

All my haunts: breakfast at the Migros; buying a small Valais bread – so good when fresh; checking the Hiob – another second-hand store; looking for sofas; looking for slippers. All my favorites stores were duly visited. It was mid-morning by then and I wasn’t in the mood for the spa (not tired enough to lay about in warm water and doze in the sun) so simply continued to visit all the other stores that I regularly frequented on my trips to and from the mountains. All without purchasing a thing.

I also went to one of my favorite second-hand shops in Yvorne, but things have been changed around and half the things that interested me before are no longer stocked. Still it was here that I had a very interesting (bordering on weird) experience. Browsing upstairs in the table clothes, linens and the like area my eye was attracted to a comforter cover – red and orange plaid – just like one I had finally given away several years ago! Now that could have been coincidence as it was purchased in Switzerland and the chances that another like it could have also been put in one of the clothing bins or given to the Salvation Army are decently high, however, the one next to it was also an old one of mine – one that I had never seen anywhere else having been purchased in Germany.
If only they could tell me how they got from Geneva and my house to a second-hand store in another state: who used them? How many individuals gave them back? How did they finally come to be here? Oh the stories those two comforter covers could perhaps tell!

From the past

Monday, January 28, 2019

One for me…

And the mouse.
0 for Clea.

I have two cats and somehow with all the company, spoiling from my student and perhaps, yes, even age they seem to have reversed personalities.

If before Babette was intrepid, always wanting out, always bringing back “presents” (I try
and try to see them as that: not working) and in general being lively, she seems to have decided that the best place in the house is cuddled up next to me on the desk (underneath which is a small heater) or simply laying on my typing hand.

Clea, who never wanted to go out – unless one opened the door wide and waited for the whole house to cool down – is now the one to sneak out if the door is open. She is very good a finding “presents” and I should truly know by now that I need to check before I cave and let her in. I didn’t Sunday night. It didn’t dawn on me though that she had brought anything in with her until I heard her dashing around underneath the desk in the living room. Oh no.
Yet another “chase the mouse in hopes of rescuing it” game. And we all know how much I love those!

I ended up moving furniture, frames, footstools and the like. This time fortunately the mouse never got under the sofa (cornered in the wood box it did jump out, almost made it up a stair, did get downstairs in the cellar). I was finally able to catch it in my (long)handled dustpan and keep it there (third try) with the brush of same and got it outside, still alive. Like I said One for me and the mouse – zero for Clea. Won’t happen often if ever again, still I bask in the glow of achievement once in my life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Nursery rhymes

Remember the one:
“Star light,
Star bright,
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish
I wish tonight”

Now that is still a favorite but we need to invent one for the first snow.
The day when gentle flakes do their work of covering up the lack of
leaves in the trees; the dirt and mud on the ground; the absence of
flowers anywhere; fields empty of grains waving in the breeze.

OK since I grew up in Southern California maybe I missed the rhymes
That might have been prevalent in more northern climes – but I did an
Internet search and really didn’t come up with much at all.

Such is life
Time to invent my own.

“The wind grows chill,
The sky turns gray,
Winter is on its way,
Snow falls on the sill.”

Still doesn’t quite take in the beauty of that first snowfall
So I guess I’ll keep trying.

Snow in the neighborhood

street lamp and snowy branches
Leaving up the lights

Monday, January 21, 2019

A few wee years ago…

I gave birth to my first son.

Where have the years flown – I can still remember every detail of that day!

I started having mild pains mid-morning, but by early afternoon with my mother and husband asking every 10 minutes if I didn’t think it was time to go, I went simply to get them off my back. This meant that I had time for all the joys of prep, which I won’t detail here, only to say that the prep was worse than the experience of giving birth.

My husband actually accompanied me into the birthing room (had to look that one up as I knew it as the “salle d’accouchement”) and kept well to my head. He was extremely lucky as the nurse on duty was Austrian so she could explain it all to him in German. She was also very kind as seeing that I was going to deliver soon, she stayed on the extra half-hour after her shift was up and was there when the baby arrived. At one point during the rather short process, I allowed that that was enough, we could stop now and I’d come back and finish the next day. It’s true, the pain (all 10 minutes of it in my case) is soon forgotten, the joy remains a lifetime.

This year the joy is augmented by the fact that this son is, in turn, awaiting his first baby – another boy.
10 days old