Monday, September 29, 2008

"I'm driving in my car, turn on the radio"

Tired of the driving-theme songs yet? Plus - they're all really 'old' songs and show my age. Ouch.

In light of the last post, had to share my observations in driving this weekend. Especially for the US readers who've never had the opportunity to drive in Europe.

We went to Salzburg, Austria this weekend. Yes, home of the filming of the Sound of Music. Only one of my favorite movies ever. I wanted to BE Julie Andrews when I was young - at least have her voice because I didn't really want short hair. Sound of Music, Camelot, etc... she was great! Anyway....

To get there, we drove across eastern Germany - through Munich. Plenty of Autobahn to satisfy my fast driving urges.

However, this type of driving requires hands on the wheel at all times and consistent checking of rear/side mirrors. Motorcycles appear from out of nowhere.

Most Autobahns in Europe are only 2 lanes each side. The slower traffic stays to the right and only if you are passing or moving faster than traffic to the right are you supposed to be in the left lane. You DO NOT pass people on the right. It is an offense you can get pulled over for! Likewise, if you are only going 150 kmh and someone is bearing down on you, flashing their lights - move to your right. And don't take offense. There is no speed limit and if they want to go 180 kmh, they can. These rules make a lot of sense - you can better predict what others drivers are doing.

Top speed limit in Switzerland (CH) is 120 (75 mph), other surrounding EU countries are 130 (80 mph) and then Germany with posted limits of 120 or "reasonable, unlimited speed."

What I noticed this weekend.

If you are driving 140 kmh (87/88 mph), it's really nice if the roads are well maintained. If not, it's a bit bumpy and your suspension doesn't like it so well.

That's the secret to speedy comfort - well, groomed roads. Thank you German, CH and part's of Austria.

Lest you worry Mom & Dad - I'm only comfortable going up to 140 kmh with kids and husb. in the car. Only. Yeah, I'm driving and he's map-reading. Plus our vehicle is higher profile than say a 535i - which I'd be totally willing to drive faster should anyone like to loan me theirs for the weekend.


*I've probably done a driving post already, somewhere. But am to lazy to go look for it and am just full of adrenaline once again from a good road trip.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I - CAN'T - DRIVE - 55...!!!!!!

Sung with raspy voice ala Sammy Hagar - and if you have big hair and can jump around in tight, ripped jeans - go for it.

Other title choices were:
"I always feel like, somebody's watching me...."
"Big Brother is Watching YOU"
"Pedal to the Metal"
"I cannot be trusted"

Can you see where this is going?

About every six months, the Kantonspolizei coffers say "Ka-ching" as I am reminded of the ever present and often un-noticeable cameras that grace the highways and byways of this fair country. Shall I point out that the speed limits often change 3 times within 3 kilometers depending on where you are?

APPARENTLY, I can't be trusted to drive the speed limit when on the A14 leaving Luzern at 10:15pm and I am the only person on the road. The camera lights start flashing, the girls are wondering what's going on and I realized "Smile, You're on Candid Camera."

So, at approx. 62 mph in a 55 mph zone - I get another one. Yes, Honey - this is my way of telling you. He doesn't get any because he really only drives to and from church every week - benefit of having only one car. Why do I confess these transgressions on the blog - because they frustrate me! I have a terribly hypocritical approach to driving - obey the law, except for speed when driving on freeways. I have a German mindset and the Swiss like to ticket the Germans.

They do take off a cushion so the ticket is small - so it's for 58 in a 55! And I understand the need for the camera's in some places. But - on the freeway! I hate the cameras!

You know, CA could do that and get out of their fiscal crisis real quick. What do you think family and friends of mine? :) hee hee

"Don't just live there, DO something..."

This post is my day of participation in Mandy Thompson's month of "don't just live there, DO something." - check her and the other "Do=ers" out there.

I wasn't sure I would participate at first. There are a lot of writer's and a 'younger' crowd in her part of the bloggy world. Would my post fit in? I wasn't sure if some of you, the handful, who visit this site would be scratching your head's wondering what I was doing. I don't know Mandy personally. I read her blog. And, gasp, we've exchanged emails! The wonders of the internet.

What I do know is that she's a lovely young woman (I've seen pictures :) ) who's honest, mature in her faith, has a really big heart and a wicked sense of humor. And I stumbled onto her blog as I searched for resources to help with leading 'blended' worship services. Which brings me around to "don't just live there, DO something."

"DO" get uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable makes you think hard. It makes you look around and see what others are doing - what you are doing. How you have an impact on the world around you.

Are you doing the things you should? Could you do something different to make it work better? Are you using the gifts you were given to fill a need that is open? Or are you content to just be comfortable?

I have been in various "uncomfortable" situations since moving overseas. One of those areas has been in leading Worship at our church (part-time). I have no real qualifications (although I will thank Mom & Dad for the years of voice lessons) - in fact, I don't even play a musical instrument. Over the past 9 years though, I been given preparation for the task without even realizing it. Willingness over the years in different arenas, have come together to fit me to this particular task in this particular place.

I didn't need to take this task on to make me happy. It's in my nature to want to be 2nd in command to a good leader. I don't need to be the leader. But. There was a need. I was willing to try. With prayer and preparation - it works. However, it's not always comfortable for me. It's like a pair of boots that I'm still trying to work in - if I don't wear them often enough, they get a little stiff.

The responsibility of it is the hardest part. Responsibility makes it hard to do uncomfortable things in the first place. We are held responsible for our actions and we are known by our actions. What do our actions say about us? I'll be the first to admit I miss the mark - a lot.

Our family blog has been fun to write and a challenge to me as I try to describe what it's like living here in this beautiful but different place. To express more than just what our latest trip to the lastest Euro city was like.

When we are done with this adventure, I know we will return different than when we arrived. We will have done many uncomfortable things. Spent time in uncomfortable places. Met uncomfortable people. Made uncomfortable decisions. Spoken an uncomfortable language - say "Roetibodenhoelzstrasse" 3 times in German and tell me it's not uncomfortable. Now, try it with a Swiss German accent.

DOing uncomfortable things has allowed us to have friendships we'd never imagined, give (time & money) in areas we hadn't before, allowed us to extend kindness to different people, expose our children to a lifetime of experiences, recognize how small we are but what a big God we have and know that our future is secure. And that security has nothing to do with Wall Street and 401k accounts.

People willing to DO uncomfortable things instigate change. When we are comfortable, we really don't want to change, do we? Bart and I have an "out of the box" child. The rules of the game are always changed - she sees life in circles, stars, bunnies - you name it. We are 'box' people and her 'out of the box' approach can drive us batty. But as I watched her sew yesterday, I realized she makes her world work better by not taking things at face value. I noticed and commented that she was sewing the buttons (eye's) on upside down. You see, the underside of the buttons were really white - and there were no other 'really' white buttons to be had. She didn't care the button's were upside down. She made it work to fill the need.

People willing to "DO" uncomfortable things fill a lot of needs. Uncomfortable things can be simple. For instance, smiling at a grumpy looking stranger on the street.

God did not promise us a life of comfort. In fact, if we are being obedient to His will, we will often be uncomfortable. We will be different. I'm still learning how to live with being different.

Paul told the Philippians "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard on another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus," Philippians 2:3 - 5

So "DO" get uncomfortable for the benefit of someone else. In the end, you may find yourself very comfortable with it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What we did this weekend

Bart returned safely from an overnight to Athens. This was the view out of his window. That's pretty much all he got to see. He said the city is more crowded and dirty than Rome - a day in the City is enough and the islands/coast would be a better visit.Sunday - This weekend we sewed! Here is Kendra with the eyes, nose and mouth finished on her little project we loosely refer to as a teddy bear.
I don't know of many people who sew anymore. It seems to be one of those lost arts. Do they even teach it in High Schools anymore?

I started learning to sew little things somewhere between Kindergarten and 1st grade. By 2nd grade, I knew enough embroidery that I embroidered a butterfly on one of my school dresses. Over the years, I continued to progress and even added to my wardrobe - prairie skirts, a Jr. prom dress, Big shirts of the '80's, bridesmaid dresses and eventually my own wedding dress. Some were nice - others were of poor fashion/fabric choice. And NO, I don't have many pictures of the unfortunate items! If I did, they've been destroyed.

It helped that my mom was sewing professionally when I was little. She was always working on something and very often, we three girls were wearing something she had made. She was really good - we still have some of the dresses and they still look beautifully done if a bit worn. Unlike mom, I tended to cut corners which is why I had some sorry looking stuff here and there. She can still do a hem that puts me to shame - quick, even and invisible.

Naturally, I would like to pass this on to my girls IF they are interested. As with anything else you teach children, if there is no desire, it's nearly impossible to teach them. They've both been asking to sew and we took time Sunday afternoon to break it all out. We settled on a little project that would teach them to sew on buttons and how to do a simple seam stitch.

I forget how technical sewing can be. All the instructions, the pattern, the grain, the selvage edges, finishing off, etc... I had to remind myself to only tell them what they absolutely needed to know.

Kendra is halfway done with her project.

But Rachel - this girl was not to be stopped. Here she is with "Rainbow."

She really wanted to finish so she could take it to bed with her. I had to do some minor surgery on Rainbow as Miss Rachel did not take my advice to shorten the length of her stitches or the stuffing would be poking out - she understands now. I was really impressed with her finishing it. Especially as hand-sewing is tedious. But the rule in this house is they have to learn it by hand before I'll teach them on the machine. I know I learned a lot just by watching my mom do it. Maybe I'll have to start sewing a bit more?

Saturday - We finally made it into Zurich to a restaurant called Tres Kilos. 'Everyone' says it is the best Mexican food you can find in Zurich. The food was very good.

Bart said the best "Mexican" food is still to be found in "Casa de Olson" as good food that has tortillas and cheese on the plate does not necessarily qualify it as 'Mexican.' The best mexican food we've found in Europe so far was in Prague. Yes - the Czech Republic. Go figure. And I am seasoning our Mexican food with McCormick seasoning packs imported from the US - so it's not that authentic. But at least it has some kick to it. And I use the Italian Asiago or Edamer (Denmark) cheese as they are closest to Mont. Jack. What I wouldn't give for a couple cans of Las Palmas - sigh -.

Enough of that - our friends and family are accustomed to us asking for Mexican food when we make our annual trek out to CA. We never tire of it over the course of a couple weeks. Mixed with a little In 'n Out - Yum.

Sharing a pic of the youngsters who still have a lot of fun together. "Dancin' in the Streets...."
We can't take those kids anywhere! Zurich will be so sad to see those dancin', American kids leave their streets someday.
And the tuning out of the family has begun. Rachel likes to follow in her daddy's footsteps on the train. I am with the ranks of the old folks and young children who don't have their heads plugged in while riding the train.
Kendra - she's still entertained by her own reflection in the big windows. She danced with herself halfway to Wadenswil.
Tomorrow I will be posting my "don't just live there, DO something" post as part of Mandy's month of DOing. You can check it out at - she has a different person posting just about every day for the month of September. Ciao!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We Moved out of the Country,

To live in the country.

Seriously - I am not PioneerWoman.

I grew up in suburbs, went away to College in the suburbs and bought houses in the suburbs. I always thought it was cool that my mom got to grow up on a farm with goats, cows, etc... Although the milking goats in the morning didn't sound quite so appealing. And I've always been an outdoorsy girl - love hiking, been hunting (even took Hunter Safety when I was 14 yrs), can tell the difference between rabbit & deer droppings, large dog and mountain lion tracks - important things.

Since moving to Switzerland, we have been slowly educated re: life in the country. At least in this particular country. We are bordered by orchards and depending on what you consider a fence (bushes, sticks, string, a bit of chain-link), our backyard melds into a sheep/cow pasture.

I know I've complained at least once about the bellowing cows. I was complaining to my family the other week while cleaning out the garden because they are so dang noisy! The cows, not my family.

Unless 'tickle monster' is going on and that's usually what sends me out to garden in peace and quiet.

I found the culprit. And no, its not the cow who's obviously bellowing in the picture but the bull standing to her right. Complete with nose ring. Have I never shown a bull on this blog? Here (in die Schweiz) they still ring the bulls - they put the rings in when they are teensy weensy. Kind of like ear piercing a baby - easier while they're young - less likely to trample you. Oh he's ugly. And loud.

These pictures are post the Wanderweg/pathway incident. As my camera was not handy earlier in the day. I started walking toward home, said walking to be explained later, when I heard the cows bellowing like crazy and saw them staring at something. As I rounded the corner and reached a group of workers in the orchard, we finally saw what they were bellowing at - a loose mama cow on the Wanderweg. The young men started up the path and I followed slowly behind.

Pause - this is just the prettiest little baby. I need to grab the better camera and get some close-ups.

I say slowly behind because those yellow tapes you see going across the picture below - they are the only fence between us and that bull. And all the bull's buddies. He managed to get all the baby bulls to stand there and bellow with him - the mama cows continued to knosh while keeping an eye on the strange cow.

There is a small electric current running through those tape fences. Really! Bro-in-law Jason checked it out for us. Said "yep, got some juice" in a slightly squeaky voice.

The young men managed to get the runaway headed home, I managed to get home and the cows were quiet for the rest of the day. I've learned more about 'livestock' than I knew before and guess it's that "time of the year" for the cows.

But this cow. She doesn't look happy. She's not. She was chased down, worn down and finally gave up - allowing this adolescent to nurse. It's nearly as big as she is. I wouldn't be happy either.

This fence. It is the type of fence we generally go through when hiking or even on this Wanderweg. Because man and animal live in harmony as one in Switzerland. Except when the bull is in the field. Therefore I took the long way around.
To continue with my exciting day -

The reason I am walking home, etc... is because our street was filled with asphalt rollers, trucks, etc... as they repaved the street after finalizing the city pipe renovations that started last year.

So - we walked down to the car in the morning and walked back up after school (and I had trips in between). As you can see, we live a bit uphill (we are the last flat at the top). So I made sure we didn't need any groceries. I've gotten lazy since we first arrived and I carried all our groceries uphill on my back for weeks before we got a car.
And all the cars on the street.
And no, you are not imagining the hat, coats and boots in the middle of Sept. They are real. It was 40 degr. that morning. Ah, Fall.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who doesn't use their China?

I just thought I'd share these pic's with you. Especially if you've known us long enough to have given us any manner of china or crystal for our wedding back in 1995 (see honey, got the year right finally).

I copied my best friend and registered for Lenox "Eternal" and I still like it. And we actually use it. It even came to Switzerland with us. Mostly because I couldn't stand the thought of it sitting useless in a storage container in IA for who knows how many years.

But look: it gets used. Nothing dresses up a meal of carrot sticks w/ ranch dressing, Mac n' Cheese and Fanta like a little china & crystal.
After a costume change, the Princess Tea set came out for birthday cake leftovers.
What is the point of having it if it never gets used? So we use it. Even though it requires hand washing/drying. It makes it all a bit more fun.

In other news: Made quick transfer to chf last night as we watched the $$$ go up and down :).

It is cold. Cold enough to leave snow in the mountains and for me to contemplate turning on the heat as it was about 40 degrees this morning when we got up. Girls wore coats and gloves to school. It is Sept. 16th!!!!! It started Sat. and I hope it lets up for a while. This is not 'normal' for Switzerland this time of year. We've been told this every season since we got here.

I'm already getting tired of being Room Mom for 2 classes! Not really (Bart will just shake his head and tell me it's my own fault). It's just a lot of up-front work. Especially with emails and emergency phone lists etc... I've never done 2 classes at once. I just realized that I will have 40 people emailing me re: 2 different classes at various points during the year. I have to keep them all straight and organize my mailbox better or all will be lost.

It really just reminds me that I don't want to go back to work in an office environment again. Except for the clothes maybe. I do appreciate nice business attire. Will have to admire my husband's. I have only one suit left from the old days. It still fits!

That's it - that's how the week is starting. Cold and glued to emails & phone lists.

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's a Wild Ride!

OK - the Market, the Banks - it's all crazy. Especially having a husband immersed in this business and all those around us that are - between bankers, insurance and accountants, we're a load of fun over here!!!!! Poor Italian mum at school whose husband is with "- - -" (large bank) is wringing her hands wondering who's next. Maybe we should start hanging out with the pharmaceutical company people? Or investing in them - blood pressure meds are sure to be on the rise.

All I know is I'm certain to be watching 'the Closing Bell' on Fox with my honey tonight. Shaking our heads - and him wishing he could be watching Monday Night Football. Too bad it starts at 2:30am or so our time. It would be a great distraction.

Friday, September 12, 2008

On a lighter note....

I realize there were generalizations in yesterday's post. I just needed to describe some incidents that lead to the oppressive feeling you can get when living in a place that is so beautiful but has it's undercurrents.

I have Swiss friends who are absolutely wonderful and I wouldn't wish to offend. We see the 'ugly American' tourists here too - and I'll be the first to comment.

OK - Onward to the fun and enjoyable part of life. Kids are back in school - happily so. Why don't they want to spend more time with their Mom?

Because she drags them outside and up mountains, that's why!

Look at how clean and tidy these hillsides are. Makes the accountant in me just melt. It's like a mountain farmers version of a long-term contract Excel spreadsheet - that works. But how does it get that way? Surely some of those hillsides are too steep for commercial mowers?

Which makes me wish I had some photos of machinery contraptions here - would make an Iowa farmers head spin. Who needs a mower when you have man-power? No joke.

I can't tell you how many times we've been cruising on a road and seen someone (man, woman or child) mowing a steep hillside and raking the grass up. They still sell scythes in the garden department - they use them!

Click on this pic below to get a better look though. My apologies for not enlarging it - have a problem cropping out the mountains.

Those are kids cutting grass and raking! ALL DAY LONG!

I took this picture in Wengen this summer. I first saw them about 8am (shortly after rising - lazy mum). We take off on whatever hike we had decided on that day and they are still at it when we returned in the afternoon. And at 6:30pm when Bart & I passed by on a quick and quiet walk without kids.

These kids were all around 9 - 14 yrs old, probably siblings, cousins or neighbors and working alongside their moms. All day long and this is not easy work.

Where do I sign my kids up? I talked to the mothers who said the kids would be "treated with ice cream and then go to bed well" that night.

Now, these kids don't have to work like this everyday. It's seasonal but it is also expected of them. As part of the family and the community. There is a strong sense of responsibility and community here. It contributes to the orderliness and cleanliness of the place.

This sense of responsibility is reinforced by everyone. The expectation is high. They may not tell you to your face - ex. our satellite cable had dropped and - gasp - was the scourge of the neighborhood - but we eventually heard about it and fixed the 'problem.' Or if someones garden is unkempt or blocking signs - they are expected to clean things up.

Sometimes you get it in the face - do not put your shoes up on a seat in the train! If someone is cranky, they'll yell at you about it. If not cranky, they'll politely remind you. You see - the seats must be kept clean for people to sit on! They don't like to sit on dirty seats. Whoa! Neither do I. Many people take off their shoes to rest their stocking feet on the seats instead. I'm not so sure I want to sit near that either. Just my little quirk. I know my socks are clean.....See - told you I had my own discriminatory nature.

Where was I? Right - kids working hard - keeping things clean - enjoying it.

So - While our kids are working hard at school, we are working hard in the mountains. Hiking. I went to Amden with a couple other moms from school on a beautiful day this week. It was nice to hit parts of the trail we never seem to get to when our kids are along.

We had adorable company. Here's my friend, Kris, with a sweet little thing that had already slobbered on me and my poles. She was so curious about us and our stuff . I kept an eye out for the mamas as they have horns - but no one was babysitting this one. Shall I mention that dried cow slobber on your hand doesn't smell good. Especially for someone with over-sensitive olfactory functions.

So we head to this great little restaurant on the side of the hill for lunch and to wash calf slobber off our hands and LOOK:

The REGA helicopter has parked next to the playground so the crew can have lunch. How many restaurants can you go to on the side of a mountain, with a playground for kids (complete with John Deere kiddie tractors - I kid you not), lovely facilities and a helicopter parked on the grass? Come on over and I'll take you there.

Now if REGA comes to visit you personally, I'm really sorry.

It means you've fallen and you can't get up. For example - you've broken your leg skiing, you fell off the mountainside hiking, you were paragliding and smacked into the side of the mountain instead of landing properly - that kind of thing. They don't mess around with ground transportation here. Air lifting is king. I've never seen a "basket" on a ski run either. So you'd better have REGA or other medical coverage - because while a trip in a basket behind Ski Patrol might be free, the helicopter is most certainly NOT.

However, on this day, they were not rescuing anyone. Just having lunch before working on the Avalanche control fences high above this little town.

There they go.........we all kind of wanted a ride but didn't figure they'd go for it. Broken leg anyone? So fun day and thought I would put in a plug for Amden.

It is a little town on the side of a mountain and has some skiing, hiking - but not a tourist destination. So unless you live here, you will probably never go (unless you come and I take you). Therefore, it is very local and we really stand out once we open our mouths.

The young men outside the barn all smiled and responded to our "Gruetzi Mittenand" with "Hallo!" - looking very pleased with themselves that they used English.

We were able to get past the Hoch Deutsch/Schweizer Deutsch issue with the restaurant 'lady' (she's cook, cashier, server, dish washer, etc...) in ordering and figuring out what she had used in the delicious homemade salad dressing. She was so pleased we liked it.

Mental picture: A man, about 70 yrs old, on a bike, green felt Alpine hat with red feather, leather Bavarian style coat, carrying a 20 gallon milk can - riding uphill. Felt it would be rude to whip out the camera.

So if you feel a little blue about being foreign, you just head up to Amden where the view is terrific, you see all sorts of fun things and the Swiss people are warm and friendly.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Discrimination is ugly - on anyone

I'm not sure how well laid out this post will be. I hope I make sense in it. I hope it doesn't offend. I know my blog posts tend to run all over the place sometimes.

Here goes:

Living overseas can be really cool and exciting and fun. Sometimes, it is filled with homesickness and difficulty. One day you are on the mountaintop (literally - c'mon, we ARE in Switzerland) and another day you are down in the dumps. Maybe I could say 'kompostplatz' and include a picture complete with steam rising over mountains of, ummmm, cow and horse droppings.

There is a cleanliness and beauty here that is hard to beat. It's considered one of the best countries in the world to live in based on culture, safety, quality of life - also why it's so expensive.

There is another side though. Switzerland also boasts one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. When, seemingly, they "have it all."

They are not necessarily the happiest people you will meet either. My Swiss neighbor was told by her pastor that they needed Missionaries to come to Switzerland, not the other way around, because the people here are "poor of Spirit."

Americans are considered too open and intrusive for many Swiss. They take a long time to open up to people and as an "Auslander" there's no point in developing a relationship with me as I'll only be here for 3 - 5 years anyway.

I take exception to that. I think basic common courtesy and patience goes a long way no matter who you are or where you live. Thus it can feel oppressive at times - being the outsider.

Recent incidents: ** 2 friends were talking by their car and one friend is slightly in the street. A man starts to drive toward them. Friend 1 checks to see that he can get by - plenty of room - so she doesn't tell Friend 2 to get out of the way. The man is now yelling (we all understand enough German) that they are standing in the street and actually brushes Friend 2 with rear-view mirror (lightly but still!) as he races by waving his hands.
**Korean friend who speaks good German is downtown and has car stopped while waiting to pull out of car lot. Bicyclist deliberately runs into her front panel (she has a dent) because she was part-way in the bike lane (to pull out) which runs in front of the car lot. He is yelling about her being in the lane and then furious when she speaks because it's not Swiss German - and he tells her so in very rude English words. Words that get your mouth washed out with soap - in my house at least.
**Several of us were made fun of when speaking High German and not Swiss - it's worse now that we can understand some of it.
**Several friends have children who are 1/2 Swiss and are in either Swiss or Bilingual school. They are still shunned by many Swiss families because they are not full Swiss - still considered Auslander.

I don't usually get to bothered by these things because I know that every place has it's issues with differences. And Switzerland is no exception. Just part of the Swiss education you get here on this blog.

It makes me very aware of how people are treated - in all circumstances. This week, while all of the above things were kind of running around in my head, I got an email from someone very close to me. Following is an excerpt from the email:

As I dashed into the new "Diamond Lane" located in baggage claim for frequent fliers, checked in online with no baggage, I noticed a young slim black girl (foreign) but obviously dressed in her Sunday best dress with a mismatched nylon jacket too heavy for the weather. There were only a few of us and I watched as she was singled out by an older crabby TSA man, ordered around for double screening, yelled at because she didn't push her baskets through the screening machine until they caught on the rollers. (The other TSA guy pushed mine through as I was taking off my jacket, no one yelled at me) Though the entire time she calmly smiled a weak smile and showed no reaction. As I passed through my screening she was standing in the plexi glass penalty box and I smiled at her. She looked like a scared rabbit.

A bit later I was looking at the schedule board to check my gate and she tapped me on the arm and showed me her ticket and was obviously puzzled as to where to go. Since I was going to the C gates I told her to come with me on the "people mover" and I would take her there. Her English was very limited but she did tell me she was from Ethiopia and thanked me numerous times as I left her at her gate.

Things like this just break my heart. I expect some discrimination living in Switzerland because I am not Swiss - trust me, discrimination comes in ALL forms - they are having their issues with all the foreigners coming into their country. It's just a fact.

But it's hard when it happens on your 'home' turf. I've been yelled at in airports by grumpy personnel in the US of A. It's an especially lovely feeling when it happens as you're going through customs.

Such a welcoming feeling. When you get yelled at coming into your home country. What a welcome for all the visitors.

How scary for someone who had probably never been out of her country before and was getting her first taste of the USA.

I am not perfect. I have my own forms of discrimination.

Business and Economics are all going Global. The world is smaller in many ways. Cultures and languages are clashing.

But I still really think it's important to have patience and kindness towards those who are different from us. Right?

Hopefully this all made sense. It's hard to put emotion into words.

Quick one

Check out Pioneer Woman's story about her brother "Of Mike and men" posted 10. Sept. 08. Really great story (all of hers are). Enough to remind us there are some really good people out there.

Well, all of you who are reading this are good people. My next post will address some not so good people. And discrimination. I will try to be kind and gracious in my writing.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What I'm doing this Fall....

OK - This question (above title) was posed on Beth Moore's website and my friend JD picked it up and so now I am too. I'm a Blogworld copycat.

At least I admit it and give credit where credit is due first.

Before I get into what I'm doing this Fall, I thought I'd explain the Bloglist over there at the left. It's new. Not a list of all the Blogs I read but very representative - all are good writers in their own way. I listed only those that are very public - and one of which I got permission to include. If you'd like to be included, let me know - I will not post a link without permission. You'll see a trend for Southern humor - not that I'm ready to live in the South but I find these ladies funny and smart.

However, most of you reading this now don't have Blogs! You check our sight to see what we've been up to and what different shade of hair color I might be reporting on.

I'll admit I like to read Blogs. I like to read the Blogs of my friends (although it keeps me homesick for IA - none of my CA friends have Blogs and if they do, they're keepin' mum about it) and those of other people with whom I can relate via age, experience, beliefs, hobbies or goals. Or that just make me laugh. Some really challenge me. I don't read any that make me uncomfortable(devisive or weird) - they're all uplifting but challenging in their way. I'll be participating in a month of blogs on "Do Something" over at (I will do mine on 9/23). So if you're curious about that, you can hop over to her blog.

And when living far from 'Home' - they remind me of the type of community I wish to find ourselves back in when we return.

I love to read. Blogs give me a quick "read" fix, challenge me and entertain me. I read them in place of magazines now. It saves Bart a lot of $$$. Except for In Style. I'm still willing to drop some $$$ at the Kiosk in Zurich for that. Because it doesn't report things like the death of Tori Spelling's chiuahua (People mag. - you stooped too far and I don't think I'll ever recover).

So that's my long-winded explanation of the Bloglist for those who don't "Blog."

What am I doing this Fall:

  • German class
  • Bible Study
  • Part-time worship leader at Church (like motherhood, more challenging than one ever imagines it to be)
  • Room mother for Kendra AND Rachel's classes
  • Evening Ogre - have to get homework, instrument practise and daily 'exercises' done
  • Part-time travel agent (Bart & I seem to have finally split this well - he did most of it before)
  • Birthday party organizer (last weekend's slumber party was successful - hooray!)
  • Family Banker
  • Trying to get ahold of the family photo album/picture situation (I take too many pics!)
  • Chauffeur, Gardener, Cook, Housekeeper, Lunch-maker (can't wait til they make their own!), Seamstress
  • Traveler: Salzburg, Hungary (taking the girls to Sopron with some friends coming from IA - I'm so excited to see them), Berlin or Munich, maybe France with girlfriends, and then Oman for New Year holidays
  • Wife to the nicest husband
  • Daughter to Dad who is coming in November for 2 weeks
  • Being busy apparently
  • Reading: Bible study "a Heart like His", Ken Follett "Eye of the Needle", 20 Minuten (free Zurich paper on trains - trying), Gardens of Water - Alan Drew . Half of this list will change by next week. So, Reading.

So that's what I'm doing this Fall. What are you doing?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I have a REALLY small oven. Thankfully.

Really, I do. I am making Rachel's Birthday cake today (party is tomorrow) and decided I wanted a round cake. I haven't made a 'round' cake in 2 years - Bundt's or single layer cakes only.

Why? Layer cakes take me twice as long. I'm admittedly lazy at the baking. But I do it.

I have to bake one layer at a time - the oven doesn't fit two round pans! I even left my 'regular' cookie sheets in storage and had my Mom ship two 9 1/2 x 13 cookie sheets here.

Because they don't have cookie sheets here. Someone said they found some in Germany. However, when I'm in Germany, I don't typically take along my list of things 'I need but can't find' in Switzerland. Half the European children call them - cookies - biscuits. Because there is a whole other vocabulary out there in British English (depends on which vocabulary they've picked up) - and a biscuit to an English child is a cookie to an American child, a jumper is a sweatshirt, and a jumper is a pinafore/dress. I'm getting side-tracked aren't I?

So I'm baking a round, layered cake and getting ready for the sleepover party. Five 10 year old girls - Please pray for me - Really, it'll be fun.

Sometimes lists are fun. My grocery list bugged me today - the expense of it. So I'll share (I've converted to US meas. so you don't have to think too hard):

30 count TP
(not Charmin but the cheap stuff on sale) 17.50
Maple syrup - small 6.90
5 - tablespoon size packs Baking Powder
(don't even go there) 2.00
Table salt - small box .80
1/2 lb Powdered Sugar 2.80
Tomato Sauce 16 oz. 3.60
2/3 lb Carrots 1.20
4 Pears 1.70
3 Apples 2.00
1/3 lb Diced Turkey 5.30
Sliced Sandwich turk. 1/4 lb 6.10
1/3 lb Bacon 9.70
almost 1/2 lb Chicken breast 12.00
6 eggs 3.70
Sliced cheese (6)- Edamer for sandwiches 2.80
1/4 lb Butter 2.80
Yogurts (6 pack Aktifit drinkable) 4.00
1 Gal. Milk 5.50 (not that diff. from Organic)
"Toast" bread (10 slices) 2.20
3 Silserzoepfli's (rolls made with pretzel dough) 2.50

A grand total of $95.10. Items in red are prices I find outrageous - others are just a little higher. Dare I reveal that a can of refried beans costs 3.50? It can drive me crazy. And no, I am not buying all premium, organic items. A few but its mostly generics/general items in there - it's not as though there are tons of variety to choose from.

I'm a poster-child for living overseas right now, aren't I? :) Yeah, and our gas prices have only declined about 15 cents - still at about $7.30/gal.

BUT. As frustrated as I get with my small oven and crazy food prices, I am so thankful to have them and afford them. We are blessed. Food in the kitchen, nice flat to live in, a car, clothes, etc...

I wouldn't like living in Zimbabwe right now. Everyone we know from there or S. Africa are very saddened by the state of affairs. It is very humbling and sad.

Medical centers are nearly empty - for want of qualified Dr.'s/Nurses who've had to leave and because there's not adequate equipment or medications (if you break your leg, bring along your own plaster to get it set with). Grocery stores are nearly empty and few people have enough $$ to pay anyway in spite of the currency reconstruction. Because when inflation is at 10,000% and more, you really have to take another look at the State of Affairs - Right?

Be Thankful.

I'm obviously all over the place today. We wonder "Will we extend a year?" "Will we be headed back to the States in June?" "Where will you go back to?" We don't know - but a lot of people are asking lately. So there's the answer. Ich weiss nicht.

Probably why my thoughts are touching on the things above. IF we are heading back, I will have a big oven again. IF we are heading back, we'd like to save more money because we'll have a lot of things that'll need replacing/buying (cars, towels, sheets, furniture) on our return. IF we are heading back - Can make you crazy. 'Cause we just don't know.

However, Matt. 6:33-34 has a cool promise:

"But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (speaking previously of man's needs). Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Funny - Kinda?, Not Really

Head over to the link to the left - Kris & Jason - under the Family & Friends to check out their most recent post.

1st - Isn't that baby girl just the cutest? She's my niece.
2nd - They've already made one 911 call due to breathing difficulty with the congestion - she's fine but...

Needs some serious help in the nasal passages. My sister wasn't kidding when she said she had difficulty fixing things with the bulb syringe alone - and Jayden screams when she does it!

So we're just praying for that cute, little girl.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Make Mine Red - Take 2

If you've been reading this blog awhile, you will remember a post with photographic evidence of the European fascination with hair color - in particular red (May '07).

I met with an Expat yesterday who just moved from St. Louis and we were discussing various things about living in Zurich, blah, blah, blah.... Mentioned my hairdresser, Niall, and that he was reasonable for the area and "he won't turn your hair orange!"

It was fear of my hair turning bright shades of red, that kept me from going to a salon here for about 8 months after my first experience (150chf and 2 hrs to get an inch trimmed off my "tips"). A year of no color work - Niall was not impressed when he first got ahold of my hair and at the same time promised he would never turn my hair orange. And he knew what I meant.

Bonus was: He said it all in English - he's Irish - and they speak English! Yahoo.

Because sometimes, you have to say "Hhhmmmmmm......" as you discreetly whip out the camera to take the picture. Do they really think that's a good look?

Funny thing - Bart just left for Prague this morning. Our family trip to Prague last year inspired the initial "Make Mine Red?" blog. Anyhoo...
FYI - I did not do anything to this photo after I took it - this is the straight print!