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May 29, 2009

Chauffeur

I feel like one today, only I don't wear a cap.

My itinerary since I first left the house this morning:

1. Langnau (home) to
2. Langnau Gemeinde (town hall with whole family to renew B Permit for living here) to
3. Steinhausen (orthodontist for Emily's appointment - she's getting braces next month) to
4. Baar (Emily's school to drop her off late) to
5. Downtown Zug (Bank and London Store to buy a few cherished delicacies one cannot buy in normal stores here) to
6. Sihlbrugg (gas station to fuel up for the three-day weekend's planned Zermatt trip) to
7. Langnau (home again) to
8. Lake Zug (Jason's school to pick him up early) to
9. Steinhausen (orthodontist again with next kid; bottom braces OFF for Jason - no more braces!!!) to
10. Baar (Emily's school again to pick her up) to
11. Langnau (home again, home again jiggety jog)

Phew. But it's not over yet - tonight it's back to Zug for the third time today, for church youth group and dinner date with my sweet husband.

So I think by bedtime I will have spent 185 minutes in the car today. Gee, that's almost how long it takes to drive to Zermatt from here! So that means I get to do it again tomorrow! Only it will be even more scenic.

May 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2009

Michael W. Smith Concert in Zürich

MichaelWSmithEmilysHead Last night we took the kids and joined a bunch of other folk from our church to go see Michael W. Smith in concert at ICF Zurich (International Christian Fellowship, a Swiss-German congregation that meets in a big warehouse). It was our first time to see where ICF meets. It was PACKED. They ran out of seats and we (getting there 40 minutes early) were in the standing area right in front. Emily managed to worm her way to the front row (6 feet from MWS' keyboard). That's the back of her head in the first photo here, down in the front, in the middle. Jason, David and I were about 6 feet behind Emily. Still very close! It made it worth the excessive heat, the ringing ears, the tired legs from standing for over 3 hours straight, and it being so late on a school night. I would have Facebooked the event real-time, with a photo and all, but I left my phone in the car we didn't bring (bummer). I used my regular camera but since I'm a real novice on camera settings and photography, they all came out pretty blurry.

It was a very good concert. Starfield, a Canadian band, opened. Both bands were mostly worship music, including a lot of songs we already knew (Here I am to worship; Above All; Mighty to Save; How Great is our God, etc.), and a bunch more that were new to us. This was MWS's "A New Hallelujah" tour, but we don't have that album or any of his recent ones for that matter. The rest of the crowd seemed to know every song by heart already. At one point MWS said, "You sing, I'll play..."

MichaelWSmithSwissGermanInterpreter The Swiss-German interpreter (in the light blue shirt in the 2nd photo) was awesome - how people do that, I don't know. So much pressure to take slang and different accents (he had to translate from a British, a Canadian, and a Tennessee accent) and spontaneous expressions and turn them into another language with just the right meaning conveyed...anyway, I was very impressed. He even repeated the hand gestures as he translated!

The funniest/coolest part of the night was when Michael W. Smith played his really, really, really old song, "Friends" but customized it in a "limited edition" way that most people around the world have NEVER heard and will NEVER hear... at the very end, after the "final" line, "A lifetime's not too long to live as friends..." he added, somehow making it rhyme, "In Switzerland..."
MichaelWSmithZurich

May 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2009

Our Own Wisteria and the Neighbours' Purple Irises

WisteriaLangnau RustIrises
Above are our own purple wisteria and rust colored irises; below are our own dark purple clematis and the neighbours' light purple irises (with a few pink lupine).
PurpleClematis NeighbourPurpleIrises
Praise be to the Flower-Maker.

May 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Whole Wheat Pancakes and a Fruit Platter

FruitPancakes David makes the pancakes, I prepare the fruit, and everyone enjoys. Yum.

May 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hiking the Rigi

FootOfCrossRigi The Rigi is a mountain we see frequently, rising above Lake Zug to the south (Jason's school is right on Lake Zug and our church is in Zug also). We finally got to see the view from the top of it last Saturday. It looks down on Lake Zug to the northeast and Lake Luzern to the northwest, and over the Alps to the south. We took the train up and hiked for two hours down before hopping back on the train the rest of the way. It was hot and sunny and gorgeous. I loved seeing the Blue Gentian flowers, which I think of a a quintessential Alpine flower (ever since it was on a poster in the bathroom growing up).

JasonEmilyRigiPointBlueGentiansYellowBlueFlowersRigi

May 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Of Pineapple Cutting and Enormous Poppy-Like Things

PineappleCutting This is my latest attempt at cutting up a fresh pineapple. Fun.


HugePoppiesAgainstGrassInsideHugePoppyAre these poppies? They just suddenly POPPed open yesterday - maybe that's why they call them that! They look like poppies, except they're enormous, and thicker, and seem to have more petals and a very interesting, solid inside. Maybe I've just never seen any so close up, or maybe they are a different variety than I am used to. I suppose I should look for poppy seeds inside...that could be a clue. I know what those look like...


PurpleClematisPinkRhodyAnd now for more garden flowers (have you noticed I like flowers?): purple climbing clematis, and pink rhododendrons...

RedRose1 RedRose2And finally, the red roses made their appearance in the side yard this week as well.

May 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Very Odd Day in May

The prelude, day before yesterday:

- One of our family members forgot their wallet at home, with train/bus ticket and money inside (they managed to get to school without being checked, then borrowed money for the commute home, which was a good thing because the inspector did come through and check, and was upset that the traveller did not have ID to prove age eligibility for the half-fare, but let it go eventually). The reason for forgetting the wallet: it was a 33°C day (91°F) calling for shorts (wallet was in jeans).

- The garden sprinkler system revealed itself to be broken at several points. Replaced one part only to find more broken links. Not fixed yet.

Then all this happened yesterday:

- I forgot my purse at home and had to go back and get it

- We needed ID photos for some paperwork, and tried to use the photo booth at one train station but it was occupied for too long

- We tried to use the photo booth at another train station and it was out of order

- Said booth was fixed, but then produced poor-quality photos and we got a refund (and a tip for a better place to get photos)

- This delay made me late for German class

- But when I arrived at German class, the teacher was not there - she was on another continent and forgot to mention it

- So the one other student there (a Frenchwoman) and I spoke in bad German for an hour (and the occasional French, English, and Spanish thrown in)

- I called my beloved to talk about seeing his new desk location, but was distracted by conversation with my classmate about final arrangements for the following day's non-happening German class right after I pressed the call button, and unwittingly made him wait long enough that he had to hang up (oooooops)

- Then when I tried to leave the parking lot, the machine for paying the parking fees ate my ticket and wouldn't give it back or let me pay. After jiggling all the buttons, calling for help twice, being assured the technician had been called, informing all the other patrons who wanted to pay that they had to use another machine (in German), deciding 50CHF was way too high a price to pay (if I called it a "lost ticket" - yeah, lost in your machine), getting David's office to weigh in, and retelling the whole story (in German) at the exit gate intercom, I was finally let out of the parking lot about 45 minutes later without paying.

- There were trucks in front of me all the way to my friend's house to pray.

HailMay262009CH - As I left her house, the biggest, baddest hailstorm I've ever experienced descended on my car while I was driving to pick up Emily at school. It was 3pm and the streetlights came on because it was so very dark - and I needed my headlights, too. The ice chunks coming down were so large and so violent that I earnestly prayed they would not break my windshield and shatter glass in my eyes. I had to pull over because I couldn't see the road. The ground rapidly became white. The crashing hail was so loud that I wondered if there would be dents in the roof of the car. Eventually the hail turned into rain, and I deemed the visibility safe enough to enter the highway and continue on my journey. The highway was moving fairly well, despite large puddles, and I made it to school...where tree branches had fallen in the road, and where the thunder was loud enough to make my car vibrate quite impressively. The children were not allowed out of the classrooms for a bit, until things calmed down. We drove home through more deep puddles. The temperature went down to 10°C (50°F). Remember, it was 33/91 the day before at the same time of day!

- Upon picking Emily up again after her drama class in the evening, someone double parked behind me and I was stuck yet again. Thankfully, a wonderful man came over to my window and asked if I needed to leave, and he went into the building to find the person whose car it was, as he knew they were going to be staying there quite some time...and she came and moved her car. That was definite provision of God, as I had assumed the car belonged to someone else picking up from drama and about to leave as well.

- However, the day ended on a good note: I made a well-received (by 3/4 of the family, par) chicken-asparagus risotto with goat cheese, tomatoes, garlic, onions, parmesan, parsley, and white wine.

Phew, glad that day is over. But surmounting obstacles is good training.

May 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2009

Rust-Colored Bearded Iris

This just popped out into the open this morning in the garden, the first of a crop of eight or nine coming:
RustBeardedIrisLangnau
Jason's home ill with a sore throat.

Emily's got her big, huge, heavily weighted 5th Grade Exhibition today at school, with an unusual schedule (one hour at school only!).

Our heating oil tank is now full again for the coming year, having been 94% empty. Accompanying stink is here - know how to say "to stink" in German? Answer = "stinken" . Okay, so this leads right into the question, what's a Stinktierkohltal? Easy:
Stink = stink
Tier = animal
Kohl = cabbage
Tal = Valley

Put it all together, and you have: Skunk Cabbage Valley. This was the name of one of the paths at the Rhododendron Garden we visited Sunday (they had skunk cabbage, too). The German language loves super-duper compound words.

May 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 18, 2009

State of the Household

The fruit of the day:

- Grocery shopping is done, with 4 meals planned and ingredients now in the kitchen

- Fridge has been culled of obsolete items

- Clothes are clean, dry, folded and put away

- Towels are clean, dry, folded and restored to position

- Sheets are changed, old linens are in the process of getting clean

- Trash has been collected and consolidated and placed in one big, special, paid-for trash bag for tomorrow's collection

- Yard waste bin has been retrieved from the street and put back behind the house

- Some windows are cleaner than before

- Pink birthday roses have been trimmed and refreshed (still looking beautiful after 12 days!)

- Basil plant has been revived (was dehydrated)

- Carport is swept clean of leaves, dust, pollen, and seed pods

- Children have been safely ferried back and forth

A Particularly Fruitful Domestic Monday.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In other news:

* the peonies are burgeoning
* the irises are hinting
* I posted a 59-second video on Facebook of our latest Dance Evening (our first in Switzerland)
* the house smells like heating oil, as the tanks were serviced - and it'll be the same tomorrow, when they refill them (not the nicest smell)
* I need to learn more simple, basic German verbs like "abstellen" - which I now know means "turn off" (but which I was completely blank on when the guy asked me whether he should do it to the heater today, presumably for the summer, while he was down there)

May 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2009

Seleger Moor - Largest Rhododendron Garden in Switzerland

Today we were very happy to see Emily make her début on keyboards at church with the worship team. I sang, Jason did drums as usual, and David managed the sound board (challenging this morning as we added the keyboard which had not been used for 6 months or so, and also a 'cello, likewise, and there was only one guitar as opposed to the usual two). Emily has sung before, but never played the keyboard at church. She was nervous but did just fine (we all made some mistakes). It was really fun all to be serving together musically, in four different capacities. Speaking of keyboards, I found a really cool Virtual Piano Chords site, which shows you visually which piano keys to press to get any chord (with sus, 2, 7, minor, etc as choices for each note letter). It was helpful in Emily's preparation for the pieces she was learning, when she didn't already know a chord.

DarkPinkRhodysSelegerMoorPurpleRhodysSelegerMoorLightPinkRhodysSelegerMoor
Then after the service, we spontaneously decided with another family to make a first-time visit to Seleger Moor, apparently the largest and "most beautiful" (hmmm, can you say subjective?) rhododendron/azalea garden in Switzerland. It's only 15 minutes from our house, but I hadn't even realized until recently that it was there (quite possibly because it's only open from May to July anyway). It was indeed lovely. Delicious fragrances swirled as we strolled amongst the towering bushes. We also admired frogs and dragonflies near the various ponds with water lilies. Here's the view from just outside the gardens.
ViewfromSelegerMoor

May 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack