Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sound off

Don't most people have days when the sun is shining and you just want to let loose with the car stereo, put the windows down and go a "little" faster. Yesterday was that day - I needed some tension relief - everything is soooo controlled and proper and on time here (I like it, most of the time) - it felt good (I held off on the speed - do NOT want a ticket). I am sure I was the ONLY person on the road singing with the radio and rapping on my steering wheel - I never see anyone do this here. We are trying to figure out what people do to let off steam in Switzerland - they are usually contained, fairly quiet (exc. kids are really loud outside), mannerly (exc. they will cut you off in line if you are not quick - I'm learning to stand my ground) and will tell noisy teenagers on the train to "be quiet." Is this the source of their longer life span? We are the loud Americans - sometimes it's fun to be loud (just not at your own house because then a neighbor might call the Polizei to come tell you to be quiet - they will not confront you themselves).

If anyone is interested in listening to a good message on Examples to Follow from Thessalonians, they can go to my sister & bro. in laws website and listen to Jason's message to the Calvary Chapel in Albany, Australia. It is good and for me, great to hear his voice. I need to get them to put a song of Kris's on (if you are reading this Kris & J - hint, hint). If you don't have the link, email or comment on my blog.

And - an apology of sorts. IF you don't like my long blog stories - well, I can't help it. Its just me and I find I am a person who enjoys words - or well have Bart start updating but then it just wouldn't happen :). I love to read and am finding reading comes easier to me in German than hearing - my verbal comprehension is slow! But we are working on it. So that's that. So must go to get ready for the day - lunches to pack, get dressed, Bible Study, more weeding if the weather allows. I'm excited about our study "Jesus, the One and Only." Throughout the Bible, there is a consistent message which John puts so simply in his gospel "Jesus said to him 'I am the way the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." John 14:6(NAS) What a great way to start the day. Love to all.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Melser Alpabfahrt" - Cows come out of the Alps!

OKAY!!!!! We got to see the town celebration of the cows coming out of the mountains. Little history: Many of the big bells worn are very old, owned by the farming families(names engraved/painted), placed on the barn/house walls when the cows are returned to the lowlands for winter but if the bells are gone - you know they've gone back into the Alps for summer grazing. They drive them up every Spring and back down again in Fall - in many little towns throughout Switz. The farmers are "highly" subsidized in Switz. as the tradition of moving the cows higher in order to use lowlands for other crops is not very cost effective anymore but is viewed as necessary in preserving the landscape as they know it.

I'm sorry for these mini-lectures but part of what we enjoy about traveling is understanding the "what/why" behind what we are seeing - Maybe a few of you reading will enjoy it too.

ANYWAY - It was Awesome! Our friends (& Bart's coworker), Matt & Jill, met us and we took the train out to Mels in "Heidiland." There weren't many people getting off the train in Mels so we were kind of wondering what to expect - everything was very low key. We followed the few people we saw into the town square and ran into Rachel's classmate from school, Valeria and her family as I had told her mother about this - it's a small world and well, Mels is a very small town! The town square was set up with some cheese, ice cream & pastry booths and there were the standard brats grilling (if you are ever in Germ./Switz. you must ask for the kalbbratwurst - Yummy - another blog maybe). There was a brief stir in the crowd as you could see a line of cows trailing down a road high on the hill but then they moved out of sight. So, we sit and eat some brats on the sidewalk before "things" were supposed to start - this event is to run from 12:30 to 4:00. Things were very casual on the street until we saw people begin to line the streets and could hear what at first sounded like a bad brass polka band. Then, the little sheperds/esses came thru and the farmers with the cows - there is no need for the crowd to make noise because the clanking of the brass bells was deafening! These are not the "little" bells like the cows wear by our house but these giant brass bells as big as the cows heads - as seen by the pic's. Those poor cows! We find out later that is why the crowd also stays subdued - the cows get nervous from the noise and all the people. I'm sure the whole giant bell thing was started by rivaling farmers long ago but this is a "clean" page and we won't go there.

There were big & little bells, big & little cows, goats, cattle dogs, lots of farmers (cow prodders) - watch your step in the road! And many of the older cows wore hats/baskets of flowers on their heads - all the arrangements were different and it was just a cool thing to see. They wound thru the streets of town and then another group would come and the beauty was that it was a small place, the crowds were not large and we had a great view of everything. You could pet the cows as they went by and if you turned your back were hoping you didn't get gored - there were a few fast moving cows. But this wasn't the Running of the Bulls - I'm sure Swiss cows never get that wild as it must be against the rules (you'll find us making many rule jokes - a required part of expat life here). At one point, many of the cows were hustled around the town square fountain so they could get water. They had black rubber mats draped around the fountain edges and the cows were free to take a drink - people are usu. drinking out of it but not on Sat.
So we had a thoroughly good time, it was a beautiful day and we have a LOT of pictures of cows.

Otherwise, the week was good. Girls had their first playdates and I started a Bible study on Thurs. Now that makes things seem as normal as anything. For 4 years I've done BS on Thurs. mornings and when I found out about the study here, same day - same time, it seemed so normal for me - Yeah. We are doing a Beth Moore study on Jesus - the One and Only. The ladies all seem really nice - we are a mix of US, UK and S. Afrika - and there are some fun personalities. I have really enjoyed and learned from the other studies I've participated in so am looking forward to this as well. Bart has a busy week ahead and the next week will get to go to NY for a training so I need to begin a "wish list" for him should he have time to do a little shopping and have enough luggage space.

Well, it's Sun. am and I must get off to get my little ones fed and off to church. God Bless!!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Woke up this morning to a giant crane in the parking lot. I guess this has to do with the letter re: unit 57, something about no parking on Sept. 11th, lot of german words I didn't understand - now we know what it was about! Looks like a neighbor is removing a lot of big rocks from their "roof." Our roof is also landscaped - rocks, trees and skylight covers.

And it is Sept. 11th - an anniversary for our Nation. May God bless and keep our troops, President and all those involved in keeping our Nation safe and protecting its borders from terrorism. And let us not forget our responsibility in voting for our leaders in government, local and national - regardless of belief, the wrong vote is the vote not cast.

And, it is still Sept. 10th in Hawaii as I write this. I am thinking of my(Susan's) family which has just enjoyed a day at the Water slide park in Kapolei in celebration of nephew Tavanni's 1st Birthday. I hope they all had a great time, I hope Tavanni felt well, that my sister Deb has survived and all the travelling family gets back to the mainland safely. Kris and I both wish we could be there - one of those sacrifices you make when moving to other parts of the world is not being able to attend certain family events. Little jealous - would love to be at the lagoons with them. But we do have our "artistic version" of the lagoons hanging in our living room so we can always enjoy via imagination. Love to you All!

Well - Kendra has a temp, I am missing a Room Parent meeting and we are both hungry so - Adios!

Friday, September 08, 2006

A couple beautiful days

As Kendra put it "We're not in Iowa anymore." We had some wet days which resulted in snow in the Alps and made for beautiful views from the terrace when things cleared up. Do I admit I have breakfast outside after I drop the girls off at school? And that I love my expresso machine?

As any reader has gathered by now, there are challenges to living outside your own country as well as things you learn to love. One challenge is figuring out which cheeses available are your new substitutes for Skim/Dry Mozzerella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar (does anyone in the US realize that cheddar is naturally white and not orange - I didn't til I left!), etc... But the part that is fun is trying all the yummy (and not so yummy) cheeses. And all the cheeses here still have their rinds on when you buy them - where do all the cheese rinds go back in the US?

We did have a dinner adventure tonight. We like a potato dish here called 'rosti' (roo schti) that is like a potato pancake/hash brown type of side that is considered "typical Swiss." I usually buy the plain kind but saw some yesterday with appenzeller cheese in it and decided to try it. Well, after stinking up the house cooking it, not finishing it on my plate, Bart getting thru 2 bites and Rachel declaring it smelled like someone just ------ (passed gas) while holding her nose, I promised NEVER to buy it again and we dumped it all in the garbage, lit candles and I wiped down all the kitchen surfaces. Kendra politely declared she couldn't eat it but would take some more bread. Fortunately, there was plenty of bread to go around in place of potatoes.

While the Middle East is still in an uproar, the Olson household came to their own Peace Treaty last week. Rachel does all her homework with Mom except for Math - that subject is reserved for Dad. So, this first week has been peaceful and hopefully will continue to be a successful resolution to all out war. Not that Dad is better at math than Mom (I can solve a mean Sudoku puzzle :) ) but she actually listens to him in that subject! Parents do not always make the best teachers. Both girls began a dance class after school and love it. It is nice when they get home from school and say "I had the best time at school today." There have been some minor scrapes, punches (yes, punches - our kid on the receiving end) and stuff but all has been handled well and they are always happy to go to school.

We went to a local bakery today after school. Rachel asked the lady "Haben zie ice, bitte" (Do you have ice cream, please) and the lady showed her right where it was - I was so proud! I messed up my pronunciation of the bread but got what I wanted and was so bold as to ask how to properly pronounce it. Most people are quite helpful (the Swiss feel they are much friendlier than their dour neighbors, the Germans - and vice versa - we maintain a "neutral" position). I think one of my current favorites is being asked to "fix an appointment." That is how the german translates for "make an appointment." So if we come back wanting to "fix an appointment," please be kind.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tram & Alps

OK - Here is our mode of transport uphill if we don't feel like climbing 100 stairs. Our little tram/lift - we still have a few stairs after that. Am hoping for little/no ice this winter!
Other pic is from our first "road trip" thru the mtns nearby - We live in Switzerland!!!!!!!!!! It was amazing - and yes, cows in the road (many are wearing bells). They get freedom and the right of way in the high country. They will be moved soon to the lowlands for winter. We are hoping to check out that event in one of the villages if we can.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Rachel!!

Rachel turned 8 years old on Aug. 31. She was very excited about celebrating with her cousin Natalie and Aunt Kara who came from Germ. to help celebrate and pay us a visit. Our 1st visitors and of course it rained/drizzled constantly until they had to leave - then the clear blue skies came out again. Anyway, Rachel chose to have her Bday dinner at Tai Ming in Horgen - great Chinese food (thanks to Jan for the find). Aunt Kara brought the girls little satin Asian dresses and as you can see, they were dressed for the occasion - the restaurant owners loved it. Rachel over the summer has become completely adept at eating with chop sticks and did receive some for her b-day for home. Happy Birthday Sweetie!!!