August 19, 2008
The World is So Full of a Number of Things...
Title reference: I know this line from the movie Singing in the Rain, in which Donald O'Connor quotes it before doing his most incredible "Make 'em Laugh" scene. I did not know until today that is was the beginning of a very short (two line couplet) poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.
In any case, my life is so full of a number of things...that I am finding it exceedingly difficult to write anything on my web log, even though there is prodigious material for it. The days are gone in a flash, one after the other. Right after this I should get to ironing, wrapping baby shower gifts, baking an apple crumble, finding cleaning help, organizing the office/my desk, showering and cooking dinner. I've been doing German class homework, laundry and sending my outstanding verses of the week to my Bible-in-a-Year reading partners. We've had a lot of fun events filling our time, e.g.:
Friday lunch: PASTORS OVER FOR A MEAL:
Had our new pastor & wife & two kids over for lunch (it was a holiday in their Kanton, Zug, but not in ours, Zurich, but David came home for lunch in his new car which makes such things possible, hurray, thank You!). A fun time. Emily loves playing with their daughter. They brought some yummy homemade zucchini bread. It poured with rain.
Friday night: tried a MÖVENPICK RESTAURANT
Not far from our home, in Adliswil. Nice non-smoking side, smelled good. Very pleasant servers. Heavy Germanic food, every variation of meat and potatoes and cheese....studied the menu and used a dictionary surreptitiously under the table, and even wrote down some Swiss-German words to look up at home (Rüebli = carrots in English, Karotten in high German; Chörbli = basket).
Saturday morning: COMPANY PICNIC FOR FAMILIES
Our first drive up the forested hill on the other side of Zürich for a company family picnic. Impressed by the family orientation of David's office here. It was not so in London, where most people didn't seem to have any kids. There are lots of little kids involved here (but hardly any older kids/teens, same as at our new church here). At the picnic, they let each family pick a rolled up picnic blanket with a handle and a waterproof bottom, and a toy for the kids. We got a silver frisbee and a pretty plaid blanket. I was most tickled that David and I wanted to choose the same pattern of blanket out of 7-8 choices, without conferring.
Saturday night: wonderful NEIGHBOURHOOD DINNER PARTY
Just across the road, for our cul-de-sac of 9 houses - we stayed from 5:15pm until 11pm, and so did everyone else! (13 adults, 7 kids) It was a potluck, so we brought our own saucisses de veau* to grill, and a green salad with peppers and carrots and homemade balsamic-mayo-maple syrup dressing, and brownies, to share. We got a house tour of my new Swiss friend Silvia's place which she and her husband designed and built - complete with screens on the windows and a laundry chute! That's the 2nd house around here we've seen with screens! Hmmmm..... The evening was really remarkable, in that I think we were the only non-Swiss (and I was the only non-reasonable-German-speaker), and from what we hear from coworkers and the ex-pat community, it is not "normal" to be welcomed into a Swiss community so soon and be on first name basis, etc. God has really, really provided very richly. It was humorous that most of the evening we had no idea what anyone was saying, because they were speaking in fast Swiss-German, which bears very little resemblance to "High German" (what they speak in Germany and Austria). However, several of the neighbours took time to speak with us in high German, English, and French! It was certainly a multilingual evening. Our neighbours include a general practitioner physician, a carpenter, a person with the fire department who does catering on the side, a furniture company representative, a gift shop saleslady, a dietician, and a stay-at-home mom who helps with the catering business and also does some child care. Behind our street live a lady and her two daughters, who have 5 horses on the premises, and sold part of their land to their hosts of the party (hence their invitation to join us). The mother has lived there for 50 years. Very interesting people, many of whom grew up in this very village and stayed (or other nearby villages). I had a long conversation in English with the doctor, whose daughter will be spending a few months in Australia soon (where people seem to go from here to solidify their English!). During the evening, the seven children (ranging in age from 8 to 14, perfect for our kids who are 10 and 13) played cards, ping-pong and football (soccer), and petted 3 rabbits. Later on, a bunch of adults joined the kids in the garage and played elimination ten-person ping pong, in which everyone runs around the table...crazy, funny, and a blast. The kids did everything in German, including learn a new card game called "Lüge" (= "Lie" in English, somewhat like "I Doubt It" except with following suit instead of increasing numbers).
This all meant that I never even opened my computer all day Saturday (a rare event for a day in my life).
Sunday: my niece arrived back in Switzerland after 6 weeks nannying in Virginia for my cousin, near my mom. My niece lives 3 hours from us, though, with my brother, so we might not see her for some time. I hope she comes to visit soon. At church I signed up for a bunch of upcoming women's events, including two baby showers, a Bible study (Beth Moore) and a ladies' potluck get-together (South African style - "Bring and Braai" - there are a number of South African families in the church). Or am I confusing that with the whole church picnic which is next weekend? I think that is a Bring and Braai too. From the wikipedia article, only men do the barbequeing, but maybe we have progressive South African women in our church. ;-)
Monday morning: KID CLEANING SERVICE
As usual this summer, big house cleaning day with the kids doing a huge amount of the work, for pay...Jason vacuumed the whole house, swiffered the stairs, replaced the handtowels, gathered all the trash, and carried the laundry & used towels downstairs. Emily stripped the beds, emptied the dishwasher and dishrack, cleaned all the toilets and sinks, and helped me make the beds. I mopped the bathroom floors, and did the laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. I was really grinning ear to ear last week when I had taught Emily how to clean toilets, and she said, as she moved onto the 3rd one, "Cleaning toilets really isn't so bad..." I'm going to miss my cheerful helpers something fierce when they go back to school next week!
Monday afternoon: PLAYING WITH NEIGHBOUR KIDS
A next-door neighbour girl from Saturday night's party came to the door for Emily while I was out shopping. Emily went over to her house, then they played at our house, and then they went across the street to the family with the ping-pong table and borrowed that... and in the meantime, Jason went over to the ping-pong family and played with the boy there who is exactly his age: ping pong, and then basketball with 4 other boys they met at the school playground, having biked there together. David and I are giving heartfelt thanks to God, again, for His incredible provision in this house and its neighbours. It's fantastic.
Tuesday morning: GERMAN LESSONS continue on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings with David at his office - in a group of about ten students, with a teacher from Germany. Today I understood about 20% of what the teacher was trying to convey about German grammar and pronoun endings. I told her so at the end of the class, and she said I should have said something during the class, because quite likely the others didn't understand either. I said I didn't know how far behind the others I was, since I've just joined the class, and she said I probably wasn't behind. One of the other students said he didn't ask anything because he hadn't done the homework, so he didn't feel he had the right to ask questions because it was his fault he didn't understand. I tried to do the homework, but since the textbooks ordered for David and me haven't arrived yet, it's a tad more challenging...the issue is that the teacher is speaking very fast in whole paragraphs in German, about German. There is no processing time. I think she will go more slowly tomorrow. I think it's great she teaches in German, but it was just too much too fast. And I don't know how to ask the questions I want to ask, in German! Argh! She said if it is about grammar, I can ask in English :-)
(During the writing of this post, I paused to move the laundry along (at least twice), give solicited feedback to Emily on a card she was making, answer questions about German words, encourage the kids to go outside, find a basketball pump needle for Jason, assist in pumping up a basketball, relocate to the vicinity of a power cord for my laptop...and also several days went by at different stages. Definitely time to stop now. Must get back to the laundry, and bake that apple crumble...)
* Video in French of Swiss saucisses de veau being made. You would never know from this video that they are really very tasty ;-)
August 19, 2008 | Permalink
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Wow! I have also been immersed in laundry (which I am happily drying outside so the sheets and pillow cases will smell like fresh air and sunshine!) and writing for the CAM magazine, organizing my desk, and getting ready to receive Mark this afternoon! The house sparkles and I stopped only to enjoy these insights into your life. I am reminded of the first Swiss neighborhood party we went to at the Mast home...every joke was told in French, German and English so the laughter was staggered, which in itself was funny to see! I made my first joke (really a play on words) in French that night! I do thank God for your happy life, and for your appreciation of it! William just called and is on his way home for lunch! Love you, Mom
Posted by: Patricia | Aug 19, 2008 6:20:41 PM
I am cooking up a storm in preparation for my husband returning home from a mission trip to East Asia tomorrow and my departure the next morning for a Beth Moore conference in San Antonio. Also cleaning, recouperating from a 2 day trip to Dallas and exercising and watching the Olympics and thanking God for my life! I so enjoy your posts. I need to get back to blogging more regularly.
By the way, I remember having no screens on the windows in Germany. And no A/C either, so of course we slept with the windows open sometimes. One night, my husband awoke to a cicada on top of his head!
Posted by: Melene | Aug 21, 2008 1:06:53 AM