September 01, 2008

Encouraged - B Permit!!!

Hey there -

it's been a very good day today so far:

- Emily got on the bus to her school for the first time (David stayed home long enough to make sure that went well).

- I drove Jason to a bus stop partway to his school, and he found some acquaintances from his school getting on at the same place, which was great.

- I got Jason a monthly travel card good for all the buses and trains in the little Kanton of Zug and between Zug and Zürich, and in the city of Zürich and our area of the Kanton of Zürich (it's much bigger than Zug). And I did the whole transaction in German (a broken form, but German nonetheless - the kind ticket salesman gently corrected at least one of my wayward articles which should have been in the dative but for which I used the nominative...). This travel card will greatly relieve the stress of having to buy tickets before the vehicle leaves, figuring out which kind would be best, and having to leave extra time for that. We live in Kanton Zürich, and the kids' school are in Kanton Zug.

- Our four Swiss "B Permits" were handed to us by the Gemeinde (Town Hall) this morning with a smile...this means we can live in the country for a year, AND we can also now leave the country without worrying about getting back in legally...very helpful as David will have a business trip coming up.

- An electrician fixed our master bedroom's little overhead spotlights (we have a tall ceiling), which haven't worked for weeks.

- We were assigned a new advisor for our health insurance, who explained to me (in pretty good English) how everything works. We have to send in bills with stickers stuck to them, no forms to fill out, yay - she's fixing a mistake in my name, changing our official language preference to French (phew, I will understand more of the insurance-ese in French hopefully), and sending us the required little stickers.

Later the piano tuner comes...onwards with the day!

P.S. try out this really cool optical illusion sent to me by my friend KFB.

September 1, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

Minor Setbacks

1. The house smells like manure. Some neighbours or other seem to be fertilizing their garden to within an inch of its life.

2. Yesterday I stalled the car in the middle of the street while a red sports car waited behind me. I couldn't get it to start again for a few embarrassing moments.

3. Today we got letters from the Swiss government, out of which I could only understand that we had to do SOMETHING by August 20th. Such an odd feeling, really having no idea what they were trying to tell me. I read the whole thing, word for word, and that's pretty much all I understood of the German legalese.

4. It turns out they want a criminal records check (Strafregisterauszug) on the two of us before they will continue processing our residence permit. David's company and the US Consulate in Zurich told us this would be likely, but the relocation company and all the ex-pat websites disagreed. Well now we know who was right. We actually had an appointment at the consulate but then cancelled it when the town hall did not ask for this piece of evidence upon our newly-arrived registration. Too bad. I have to make another one. Thankfully, all we have to bring is our passports and 33 Swiss Francs each. As far as I know (which is not very far).

5. I tried the 2nd of two bakeries in our village this morning and brought some goodies home for the kids for breakfast - there were only two problems with this. One is that I tried to begin the ordering process in German, but blanked out on anything to say after the opening greeting. I ended up stupidly pointing at a strawberry tartlet, having no recollection of how to say strawberry (Erdbeere). The lady said something I didn't understand, and I just raised my eyebrows, instead of explaining my limited German or something educated like that. It became clear she was naming the strawberry tart (I never did get what it was called), and then she said something else, and we ended up speaking English, which she understood. I could feel the lady behind me watching the interaction, and wished I had just started in English. Oh well. I'm going to be doing this a lot. Feeling foolish and ignorant. But I plan to take some German lessons soon to complement the computer learning I've been doing. There is hope for improvement, says logic, if not my heart. The second "problem" is that I keep looking for a French-style bakery, and haven't found one here yet. I don't know how to describe really what it is I am seeking, but the German culture is just very different from the French side of Switzerland. The pastries and baked goods are different, and not as many, or maybe that's just because I am living in a small village. But then again, the small village in Geneva where I lived had a fantastic bakery. I guess I am looking for that one. 3 hours is a bit far to go for breakfast. But maybe in a closer French-speaking part of CH...for a special treat...memories are powerful.

By the way, if you put the misspelling "eerdbeer" as a German word into the built-in Mac OS German-English translator, it says that in English that would be "more eerdbeer." Then if you try to translate that back into German, it renders it "mehr eerdbeer." This information will come in handy some day, I know it.

July 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2008

License, German-English Translation, Fruit, Junkmail, Power, Sun

I think the Zurich DMV used Google Translate for their email to me. Here are some excerpts:

...The visual test you can finish with every optician(glasses business)

...They must wait, to you the foreign identity card have

...The American leader's drive card we need for the paraphrase. You get back this after the occurred paraphrase (approx. one week). Nevertheless, in the interim you may go in Switzerland.

Mit freundlichen Grüssen
Strassenverkehrsamt Zürich
Backoffice

* * *

Yesterday I hung our wedding vows by our bed - David's to me on his side, and mine to him on my side. This means we are truly home once again. I also hung the iris painting that my mom gave to us as a housewarming present three houses/countries ago. It is in the dining room, beautiful! And David's mom's special and lovely river painting is hanging in Jason's room - she painted it for him.

And I organized all the extra toiletries...what a mess that was. Our bathroom looks a whole lot better.

Also the kids and I got to have lunch with David at work for the first time, and see where he sits. FUN office... (not mentioning on the blog the name of where he works, but it's somewhere really fun :-) ).

* * *

We've been delighting in God's fresh summer peaches (so ripe the skin just peels right off with my fingers), nectarines, and blueberries...yum! This morning I baked my first banana bread in this house. The kids liked it a lot.

* * *

In reading Psalm 89:13, I came across an unusual verb: "endue:"

Provide with a talent, ability, power, etc. (godonthe.net)

To take on, to take the form of... To clothe; to endow or invest (with a thing). (wiktionary)

Endow, indue, gift, empower, invest, give qualities or abilities to (wordnet.princeton.edu

So anyway, God is endued with power. All of it.

Earlier this week I was clueless as to where I might find a shower curtain rod around here (that was not 45 minutes away of yucky city/highway driving at Ikea). I sort of kind of asked God for help (didn't feel it was important enough? Have other matters I'd rather He work on? Didn't think He knew? Didn't think He cared that much? Ha!), having looked in the phone books and found that no help with my limited German (what would you look under?), and having tried Google maps business locating...again I don't think I put in the right words.

I left the house for some other errands, hoping I would just see someplace likely on the way...but stopped at the mailbox to check if there was anything in there. For the first time since we moved in two weeks ago, there was some "junkmail" in the bottom half of the mailbox. Some flyers from stores. Hmmm, thought I. Leafing through, three of the stores looked like likely candidates for my search! So I went back inside and looked them up online. The closest one was 20 minutes away through absolutely stunning countryside. Hills, forests, lush verdant fields, Christmas tree farm, cornfields, distant horizons...Anyway, I got to a Co-op "Bau + Hobby" which turned out to be Home Depot meets Office Depot meets Michael's Arts & Crafts meets Garden Center meets Kitchen Store meets Outdoor Store. And upstairs, a full-blown Co-op grocery store and attached mall. I had a great time exploring, got the shower curtains and rods and several other things we needed, and had to leave to come home before I was done with the adventure. I will have to go back and take David too sometime. Looked like a nice town to visit for other reasons too (Affoltern am Albis).

So anyway, it wasn't junkmail, it was God-mail, I guess. Thanks!

* * *

The sun has returned as of yesterday, and we're supposed to have real summer temperatures here all next week. Nice. We may take our first trip into the mountains this Saturday for a hike. I hope we see lots of wildflowers, especially centaurea montana...

July 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008

Starting to Look Into the Swiss Driver's License

Here is a helpful (?) translation from the German of what happens to our original driver's license when we swap it for a Swiss one:

6th ERFOLGTER BY DEFINITION

6.1. What happens with the foreign driving licence after euphemism?
Lead passes from EU / EFTA member states are sent to the exhibitors State returned. Lead passes from non-EU
EFTA states will be marked "Not valid in Switzerland" and will be the designated candidates in return. Leadership
rerausweise of people with permits foreigners F, N or S will be sent to the competent authority.

For those of you who understand German, here's the original:

6. NACH ERFOLGTER UMSCHREIBUNG

6.1. Was passiert mit dem ausländischen Führerausweis nach erfolgter Umschreibung?
Führerausweise aus EU-/EFTA-Staaten werden an den Ausstellerstaat zurückgesandt. Führerausweise aus Nicht EU-
/EFTA-Staaten erhalten den Vermerk "Not valid in Switzerland" und werden dem/der Bewerber/in zurückgegeben. Füh-
rerausweise von Personen mit Ausländer-Bewilligungen F, N oder S werden an die zuständige Behörde weitergeleitet.

Do you see what I am dealing with, with the "help" of Google Translate? Oh boy. I generally get the gist of what it is trying to say, but often I have to take individual words and stick them into my favorite online German-English dictionary (sometimes requiring splitting them into the parts of the compound words the German language so strongly embraces).

I think the mysterious
"NACH ERFOLGTER UMSCHREIBUNG" means something like "After the Procedure has Taken Place."
What is translated as "euphemism" really means something like "the procedure" I think.
And of course "Lead passes" are simply driver's licenses. Automatic translation is so hopeless because so much is determined by context. I'm sure faithful reader Randall who lived in Germany, and is married to a wonderful German lady, will enlighten us about this stuff.

What's awesome is that unlike the UK, where we had to pass a theory test AND a road test (which I failed the first time and passed the second time), here in lovely Switzerland we can exchange either our U.S. OR our U.K. license for a Swiss one, and our only test will be an EYE test - that kind I can handle! Especially after my 2004 lasik surgery... (thanks again, my dear husband David for that incredible birthday present!).

So now we have to fill out two forms in German, find out where to get the eye test, get one (D too), and bring our passport, residence permit, foreign license, photos, forms and ourselves to the appropriate office (only 16 minutes away, hurray! It was 45 minutes in the UK). We also have to decide which license to exchange. It looks like, from the paragraph I quoted above, we would not get our UK licenses back, whereas our U.S. licenses they would deface slightly and give back. Hmmm. Probably our UK licenses are no longer valid anyway since we don't live there anymore? Not sure about that. We sure went through a lot of trouble to get those!

July 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 18, 2008

Miles and miles

or should I say kilometres and kilometres?

That is how long my to do list would be if I had one properly put together. Right now it's more like sticky notes stuck to scraps of paper and scribbles on the edges of shopping lists, in a pile, along with an out-of-date computerized list which I want to update before junking the bits of paper. I need to prioritize!

Anyway, we're making a little progress every day in settling in.

David picked up our new (used) car today, our telephone and DSL internet connection now BOTH work AT THE SAME TIME (major victory), and we have just gotten our new bank cards and codes (have yet to go to an ATM to change the code...), we're due for the next IKEA run tomorrow...and our first houseguests' stay was a lot of fun.

My 18-year-old nephew Mark was very helpful and polite, and baked a cake with Jason and Emily and helped cook dinner and set the table and grocery shop, and is of course always up for games! So various of us played Settlers of Catan, Nerts (a new game for him), O'Hell/O'Well/Up & Down The River, Apples to Apples, Quiddler, Monopoly, and Poker, and we went bike riding and visited the wild animal park nearby.

I love the Swiss flags here (the national holiday is August 1st, so they are in preparation) and the geraniums on the lampposts. Outside my bedroom window is a gorgeous bluish purple hibiscus tree, just bursting into bloom. What a gift. Almost as if the color were hand-picked by God for me.

I got into the car on the wrong side once this week. I mean all the way in. Hey, where's the steering wheel??? The first few days I kept reaching for the gearbox on the left instead of the right, and it is taking serious retraining to find the ignition button to the right of the keys instead of the left (our rental car and our UK car and our new CH car are ALL Toyota Corolla Versos! I have found a car I really like!). So it's the same but all backwards due to the UK driving on the other side. The actual driving on the proper side of the road here has been pretty much okay (which is the most important thing, I guess, after all!). The roads are quite narrow here, most especially the tight spiral entry/exit ramps of underground or tall parking garages. Exciting.

Doing fairly well remembering to bring my reusable shopping bags (otherwise you have to buy bags), my token to put in the shopping carts (to release them), and my parking ticket (you have to pay at a machine before getting back in your car and driving out with the validated ticket). Getting less stressed at check-out at the grocery stores, packing my bags fast before the next two people's stuff comes rolling down on top of mine (they have two lanes usually for people's purchases, so you have just enough time to pack up before the third person needs your lane). In England, the cashier always waited until I had unloaded all my goods before starting to scan items (unless there wasn't enough room on the belt). Here, they just go right ahead and it's a race to get all the items out of the cart before all your goods are squashed on the other end and you have to pay. Shopping is good exercise here.

We made our first new church visit here last Sunday, at the International Baptist Church of Zurich. It had a lot of great things about it. Close by, lovely genuine people, good teaching, and it was wonderful to join in worship with old hymns I remember from growing up in the Evangelical Baptist Church of Geneva. However, I think Jason may have been the only teenager there. We will look around at a few other churches to see where it seems our family will best fit. In any case, it is super to meet other Christians from around the area (and other English-speakers ;-) ).

Two new German words for today:
Schmetterlings: Butterflies
Versicherung: Insurance

Generally, Schmetterlings don't need Versicherung, but humans in Switzerland are required to have several types.

A favorite verse from today's reading:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
Psalm 84:5

Be my strength, O God! I need You every day! Never more than today (every day).

July 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 11, 2008

So Much 2 Say, So Little Time

Do you know that Take 6 song? You can listen to most of So Much 2 Say on the iTunes store sample, since the song is so short.

The past four days have, once again, seemed like at least three each. There are so many things to do, to discover, to take care of, to begin to understand, when one moves to a new country. So many people to meet, places to find, items to arrange and put away, supplies to procure, papers to read, documents to sign, accounts to set up...it seems endless at the time, but I do know that after about six months I will be able to breathe again...based on my recent experiences moving.

However, in this case, instead of breathing I'll be trying to increase my German vocabulary, I think. It's truly pitiful at the moment. I try to start every conversation in German (with my prerehearsed request or greeting), but then almost inevitably the other person comes out with a long string of unintelligible German or Swiss-German words, and I have to resort to my ubiquitous phrase, "Ich spräche nür ein bisschen Deutsch...sprächen-Sie Englisch oder Französich oder Spanisch?" ( = I only speak a little German - do you speak English or French or Spanish?). So far most people have taken me up on English, one person spoke French with me, and no one has spoken Spanish (not surprising). Two people didn't know any of my languages and wanted to go for Italian as an alternative, but that didn't help things. Sign language works quite well too. :-)

Things are going very well so far, most notably:

- Some anonymous neighbours have an open wireless network that we can use easily from our bedroom (this is super-important as our own DSL is still not working, and we do so much information-digging online for just about everything we are trying to get done these days)

- Across the street are some fantastically friendly neighbour children who have invited our kids to play with them every day since day 2 here: soccer, badminton, biking, and today a swimming-in-the-lake invitation (but it didn't work out). There is a 12-year-old boy (only a year younger than Jason), and twin 11-year-old girls (only a year older than Emily) - wow, thank You Lord so so much. What a huge, huge blessing.

- It's incredibly, thrillingly beautiful here. The views even just driving to errands makes my heart sing. Everywhere we look it's steep hills, forest, green pastures, river, lake, or impressive snowy mountains in the distance. From our bedroom we hear a rooster and regular church bells if our window is open.

- The food is yummy.

- Emily's not coughing at all.

- Four horses and a donkey live across the street in a field.

- Only two items were damaged in the move (our piano was scraped & chipped in one small area, and the glass in a big picture frame was cracked). The moving company is being very solicitous to help us get them repaired.

- No rain on all our packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking days (no wet feet tracking around the houses). Wonderful thunderstorm tonight for the first rain since we got here. It's been very summery and sunny and hot.

Oops, I've run out of time for now...

July 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 07, 2008

Safely in Zürich

Just a note to say we were safely carried through the three flights yesterday and today to arrive in Zürich, Switzerland, to take up residence! All three flights were slightly delayed, so that worked out just fine. We drove straight from the last of the four airports to our new rental home and met two ladies to receive the keys and sign the check-in inventory of property and damage. Tomorrow the household goods van should arrive to deliver everything. The driver actually stopped by today to see where the house was and said he'd see us tomorrow morning. Promising!

We are TIRED! A good night's sleep tonight should hopefully set us up for a long day of work tomorrow getting all the furniture and boxes situated and starting to unpack essentials. We are at a hotel tonight but plan to move into the house tomorrow once we have bedding and towels and such.

It's a beautiful afternoon in Zürich and our hotel room looks out over the lovely blue lake and the hills on the other side. Thanks be to God our Provider, Protector, and Guide (not to mention Redeemer, Creator, and Source of True Hope, Peace and Love).

A funny note on Emily's cough situation (ongoing for the past six months) - Emily hardly coughed while we were in the U.S. this past week, nor while we were flying. She's not coughing now either, here in Switzerland. But on our layover in England this morning, she coughed. Hmmm. Could it be our problems will end very soon with that issue, now that we don't live in the UK anymore?

July 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 27, 2008

Briefly Before Flying Away

David had a blast paintballing with work colleagues on his last night in England...just a few pretty welts on back, shoulder, thigh...

Jason got to visit with his injured friend and stay for dinner (pray for teenager Thomas, who will be in a leg cast for nine weeks, all summer, while moving transantlantically, having scrapped summer travel plans, after being involved as a pedestrian in a car-motocycle crash).

The 2nd (larger) piano crate finally arrived about an hour and a half after the movers were all done loading the rest of our stuff yesterday...they played soccer and sunbathed while waiting! Very nice crew.

The driver of the movers who showed up yesterday for the first time ALSO said I sounded Scottish! He even said I had Scottish eyes!

Off to see my mom!

June 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 26, 2008

About to be cut off

...from internet connection. It's the day of reckoning for moving...the day everything gets loaded onto a big truck and taken away. Including the wireless equipment.

In the meantime, they've discovered that the large removals van will not fit down our street thanks to the silly little roundabouts in the middle of the road that are only there for "traffic calming measures" to slow the cars down. This was clearly known as a possibility from the beginning, but I was hoping they'd be able to make it through. It just means that the movers will have to load and unload a small truck about 6 times, shuttling to the end of the street to reach the large van.

Also, apparently the wooden crate built especially for our piano is slightly too small. Oops. I don't know what they'll do about that. Maybe expedite a new one to be sent out later today?

Two interesting quotes for you:

Elisabeth Elliot on doing a job you don't like, via MommyLife:

The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.

Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with--into the image of Christ.

Brian MacLaren on Giving birth to character, via Leadership ConneXtions:

You can't take an epidural shot to ease the pain of giving birth to character. In a sense, every day of your life is labor: the rhythmic agony of producing the person who will wake up in your body tomorrow...

June 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 25, 2008

Cous-cous, Fresh Herbs, and Garlic

I kept meaning to clear out and clean up the little wheeling trolley of baskets in my kitchen before the movers got in there. I usually keep potatoes, garlic, and onions in the lower baskets, and dishtowels and hot mitts in the top drawer. But I forgot, and only after they were mostly done with the kitchen did I think to ask them if there had been any food products left there. Yes, they packed my fresh garlic. I wouldn't have planned to bring that, but they assured me it is no problem, as it is "non-perishable." Okay. Apparently I remembered to get rid of the onions and potatoes earlier.

On my kitchen window-sill sat two fresh herb plants (the ones I later gave to my neighbour) - did you know that in England the H in herb is pronounced, as in the man's name "Herb" short for Herbert? So the packers asked me whether those plants were going...and I raised my eyebrows and asked whether that was possible. Again, they saw no issue with it...they said some people do take their plants, and they just water them before packing! However, we will not see our shipment until 12 days after they drive away with it. These little plants would definitely have died if I had sent them. They almost perished when we were away for only 4 days a while ago. One young packer guy correctly and happily identified the herbs as basil (pronounced BAH-zyl here, not BAY-zyl like in the U.S.) and thyme, crediting the viewing of cooking shows.

When I was in another room and the packers were wrapping up some truly non-perishable canned and dry foodstuffs, I overheard something to the effect of, "Oooh, cous-cous! I like cous-cous. It's really good."

The packing crew were really very friendly and personable, as well as professional and hard-working. Another thank You.

Today is a lovely sunny day, perfect temperature, with a little breeze. It will be a nice memory of the UK to take with us. Can't believe I only have one and a half more days of driving on the left. It will be quite an adjustment to get back to driving on the "other" side of the road in La Confédération Helvétique!

June 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack