January 29, 2010
I clearly don't suffer from S.A.D.
Today I was driving along, and noticed a round silhouette in the general overcastness. "Oh yeah!" I thought. There's a sun up there! Not that it was bothering me that we haven't seen it in weeks. I just forgot all about its existence. I am happy with the snow, the birds chirping while it falls quietly, my family, and the stuff I am learning as I read my Bible and study with other ladies and pray and go to German class and read people's Facebook stati (would that be the plural of status? :-) Oh, nope, it seems to be statuses) and look at my son's incomprehensible AP Calculus worksheets. Aha, you say - you didn't learn anything from the latter! Oh, yes, I learn that he is just like his admirable father, who also took Calculus AP classes in high school - one each in 11th and 12th grades, just like Jason is planning on doing. I'm glad there are people in the world like them. I did enjoy math, and I still very much like algebra. Just not too keen on the differentiation and integration, although I remember dabbling in them way back when.
In any case, it's snowing again, and I happily shoveled the driveway for about the ninth time this season. As someone on Facebook pointed out, I have a small driveway. He challenged me to clear his 150ft driveway happily without a snowblower. I had to concede. That would be a full-time job. Mine is just big enough to give me a little exercise and fresh air and sense of immediate accomplishment.
I was doing some errands this morning, and as I exited the third shop, I gloried in the copious snow coming down. This led to general thankfulness and wonder at how we get to live here in a place with mountains, lots of snow, cleanliness, abundance, snow plows, etc. I was so happy and excited at the way God has blessed our family, until, all of a sudden, Fear struck. Surely this means something bad is coming. You can't expect this to continue so well. There's a limit to this. You're going to have an accident, or someone is going to get very ill or die, or... Wow. I had to quickly switch from thankfulness to earnest battle prayer against the joy-stealing attacks from the enemy, pounding me with deceit. Time to counter it with Truth: I'm in God's hands. Whatever He sends, He will equip me with grace and strength to face it. He is not out to get me. He delights to bless. He is trustworthy. He doesn't do stuff randomly; He always has reasons, whether I know/understand them or not.
Now that I'm home, I'm looking up some verses to back up my recollections/reconstructions of these truths:
I'm in God's hands as I fight the lies: Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. (Psalm 31:4-5)
Whatever He sends, He will equip me with grace and strength to face it: God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
He is not out to get me. He delights to bless: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (Jeremiah 32:40)
You have been pleased to bless the house of your servant. (1 Chronicles 17:27)
He is trustworthy: O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy (2 Samuel 7:28)
He doesn't do stuff randomly; He always has reasons, whether I know/understand them or not: God is mighty, but does not despise men; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose. (Job 36:5)
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:11)
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever. (Psalm 138:8)
So even though I don't suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I do suffer from year-round attacks of fear, doubt, pride, or whatever the devil chooses to mess with me today about. Fortunately, God is on duty year-round, never takes a snow day, always has His plows in tip top working order, to plow away those pernicious lies that slip into my head and threaten to steal my joy and peace in Him. All the better for me if I catch them quickly and hand them over to Him for help: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
January 28, 2010
No, it's REALLY not a Snow Day, I'm so sorry
What a morning.
It started at 6:52am, when a phone call woke me up, but Emily spoke to the person on the phone. I really wish she'd come up the stairs and passed the phone to me, but she didn't (she didn't want to wake me up, and I appreciate that). What she understood from the conversation was that not only were the school buses not driving, but that the school campus was closed for the day. Wouldn't this have been ironic, when I had just finished telling someone yesterday how things are never cancelled here due to snow. "Everyone knows how to drive in the snow, the plows get out there, and everything goes on as normal," I wrote on a Facebook thread.
I was so skeptical of this supposed news, given the minor-looking snowfall outside, that I immediately went to my laptop and looked at the school website for confirmation or denial. Nothing. However, there was email from Jason's school, saying that school was open, if you can get there, and don't worry about delays. I kept checking the site, and finally up popped the news: All campuses are OPEN. Some buses are not running due to "mountainous terrain." Well, we live up on a hill. I wouldn't call it a mountain, exactly.
In any case, poor Emily. So sad. Last year we had a day off school when trees fell into the school's only access road in a heavy late spring snow. She was so hopeful for another day at home. But her wicked (and adventurous) mother insisted that if school was open, we were going. Away from your novel and back to making your lunch, please!
Meanwhile, it turned out that David wasn't feeling any better than he had last night, and was staying in bed with a cold. He usually takes Jason to school, which is in the opposite direction from Emily's school. Hmmm.
I took a look at the driveway, decided I would shovel again, and carefully did NOT take a shower beforehand. Furthermore, I dressed appropriately: in a T-shirt under my ski parka, instead of my seasonal turtleneck and sweater :-) The ground was icy under the snow, but I enjoyed the shoveling as always. I informed the kids we'd be leaving together and soon, and we piled in the car (now safely post-shower & with warmer clothes on!). Our road had not been plowed yet (not until 1:30pm), but it wasn't bad. In fact, we had no problems at all getting first to Jason's school, then backtracking and heading to Emily's school, and then I carried on to my ladies' Bible study. By the time I got home again much later, my skid warning light had blazed about ten times, but nothing scary. People were careful, and God answered all my prayers for safety. So I'm really not too sure why they cancelled the buses. Maybe because Emily's campus has a new director, from Australia via Singapore?
I was wondering whether any of the other ladies would show up for the Precepts study on Prayer, but since they come from places like Canada and Iowa/Minnesota, or have lived places like Germany and Romania, or are just plain determined, we were all there, plus a new person since last week. Cool! We practically gave high fives to each lady as they trickled in one at a time with relieved looks on their faces.
I stopped to pick up some delicious Huusbrot at the gas station on the way home (a yummy kind of whole-grain, crusty bread with very soft insides), and was given a scratch & win card - I "won" a Corny Free Chocolate granola bar. The "free" part refers to the lack of sugar, but it contains an unspecified "Süßungsmittel" (sweetener) which sounds very suspicious to me - I prefer my sugar plain and simple from the cane or beet, not chemically manufactured. I ate it after lunch anyway, since one would not want to waste chocolate in any form, would one? (no)
I am starting to run out of places to put my lovely driveway snow. I managed to find spots, and even shoveled a pathway for the cat (yes, the one who drew blood yesterday; I have forgiven her). While in the back yard, I stuck a ruler into the snow on the lawn: 9" deep (24 cm). Cool! I know it's nothing compared to what you had in Virginia a few weeks ago, but I'll take it!
October 02, 2009
Delémont, Jura, Switzerland
See the story and photos here of our day trip to Delémont, the capital of the Swiss canton of Jura. A silvery statue, a dove engraved on the pavement, a ruined tower, a cool crêpe menu...you know you're tempted to click on the link.
It's SO much easier to post photos at Picasaweb (or Facebook) than on Typepad. Sorry to say. Blogging with photos has become difficult compared to sharing on other media. Maybe I'll find a better blogging platform at some point.
September 16, 2009
Plenty of Bounty
This is what they're calling Bounty now in Switzerland:
June 03, 2009
Zermatt - Matterhorn247. That's how many photos were taken with my camera on our 2-night trip to Zermatt. Rather picturesque, the Matterhorn. Quite a Mountain-Maker, the Creator. You'll be relieved to know that I managed to delete about 60 of the shots right off, and that I selected only six to share with you.
The Matterhorn is enormous, stunning, breathtaking, majestic. We arrived on a rainy evening, and we couldn't even tell which direction to look for the famous mountain. The hotel staff informed us we should look to the left when stepping out of the front entrance.
In the morning, there it was!!!
Even indoors in Zermatt, there were different artistic depictions of the Matterhorn everywhere - at least two unique paintings in each room of the hotel, both bedrooms and public rooms! A lot of artists have tackled this subject.
To get to Zermatt, we drove our car for about 3.5 hours, including taking it on a car-carrying railway through a very dark tunnel inside some mountain or other (the pass was still closed this "early" in the season). 3.5 hours, that is, if you don't count the hour we lost on a mistaken trip through the Gotthard Tunnel and back (resulting in a quick hello to Ticino, the Swiss-Italian canton south of the Alps). The Gotthard takes about 17 minutes to drive through, one way, if there's no traffic at all. Then there's the time it takes to reflect upon whether one has really, truly, just made this mistake and there's no help for it but to retrace one's steps. Yep.
Then once we made it to Täsch, we had to park the car and board another train on foot with our luggage, to get up to the "car-less" village of Zermatt. But they do have electric vans that shuttle guests and luggage to and from hotels and such. Good thing, since it was raining quite hard when we got there.
The next morning, after gaping at the Matterhorn sitting there in the midst of crisp blue sky, we took yet another train up to the top of the Gornergrat, opposite the Matterhorn. (Except for Jason, who stayed in bed sleeping off fatigue from a bad cold, poor thing.)
A plaque at 10,132 feet (3089 metres) up there above Zermatt says:
Groß und wunderbar sind deine Werke, HERR, allmächtiger Gott! Offb. 15/3After a little looking, I discovered that it is Revelation 15:3 "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty."
So "Offb" is short for "Offenbarung" which means revelation. Cool. I have being doing a tiny bit of reading in a little French Bible that I have (I keep it in the bathroom), but haven't done any German perusing - in fact I think we have only the New Testament in German, a present I gave to David when we were courting (having no idea we'd eventually live in a German-speaking area).
Then the poem beneath it:
Berge hoch erhoben,
ihren Schöpfer loben,
felsen, hohe Wipfel
preisen Gottes Majestät
It means something like "Mountains raised high praise their Creator; snowcapped peaks and high rocky tops praise God's majesty." It's a perfect poem for that location. It's surrounded by a dozen glaciers and peaks of over 4000 metres in height, all covered in snow. You see here the Monte Rosa on the left, the highest peak in Italy (and 2nd highest in Europe, I believe), with the Grenzgletscher (Grenz Glacier) to the right of it. The scale is very hard to grasp - these are HUGE expanses.
It was really cold up there, so we were suited up in our ski jackets and hats, but when we sat down for lunch (with a bit of a view!), in the strong sun, we were able to strip down for a few minutes.
The next day we took a mini-hike up the wooded hillside behind our hotel before check-out and the return home.
May 17, 2009
Seleger Moor - Largest Rhododendron Garden in SwitzerlandToday 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.
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.
April 15, 2009
Latest Flowers: Apricot Blossoms and HeatherMonday is a new type of half-day holiday for us in Zurich canton... Sechseläuten. Sounds a little like Guy Fawkes Night and Groundhog Day combined! They burn an effigy (like Guy Fawkes, but a snowman) and how soon the head explodes determines what kind of summer it will be (like the groundhog prediction). A snowman in April? It's true there's still plenty of snow up in the mountains. Unfortunately, the kids don't get the half-day, because they school in Zug canton. But no matter - it'll be their first day back at school after two lovely weeks off...
Our latest garden happenings: Apricot blossoms, enough tulips and daffodils to cut some and take them inside, and happy pink heather!
February 08, 2009
Ski Day in Klosters (next to Davos)On Friday evening, David returned from a week of business travel 6,000 miles and 9 hours' time zone away, and already the next morning he was ready to take the family on our second ski day! I was so thankful that he suggested it, as I am eager to explore the different nearby resorts and make the most of our new location so close to the Swiss Alps. You can see more of our Klosters ski photos here.
We packed up our rental skis, boots, poles, and all our ski gear, some water and snacks, and
headed out at about 9:30am towards Davos/Klosters. You know, Davos in Graubünden, where they hold the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum - this year's was just last weekend. Did you know I once worked as a secretary/gopher for a few weeks one summer at the WEF in Geneva? I got good at typing the word "international" really fast :-)
On the 1 hour and 35 minute drive there (and on the way back), we saw license plates from 25 of the 26 Swiss cantons (only missing Valais, VS), along with 15 foreign countries (B, CZ, D, F, FL, GB, GR, H, I, L, LT, LV, NL, P, PL). It helped to keep David (the driver) awake, I figure, enlisting his help spotting these. :-)
We drove through five Swiss cantons (Zürich, Schwyz, Glarus, Sankt Gallen, and Graubünden), and 14 different tunnels.
We ended up trying out the Madrisa area of Klosters, which is right next to Davos. Nice, plenty of soft snow, hardly any other people, hence no lines at all - just ski right up and get on the lift every time. Also, warm - we skied part of the time with our jackets open. No hand warmers considered (though I had them in my pocket in case, having experienced a great need for them at Engelberg last time we skied, on January 10th). It was peaceful. The kids enjoyed more T-bars. They got so comfy on T-bars together that Jason started them slaloming back and forth and stuff. I opted for David and me to go in front the next time, so I didn't have to watch and foolishly/fruitlessly worry anymore! Ha.
When we arrived, it was nice and sunny, but then various sets of big puffy clouds floated over and around us, so part of the time we were in total whiteout. As in, we couldn't see where the slope ended and the fog began, or anything else. And with no one in front of us, we couldn't see when the slope suddenly got very steep. Exciting. Emily and I were on our own part of the time, while the boys skied higher up, and I was so thankful for the fluorescent orange poles marking the trail every so often, with even more useful arrows on them saying which SIDE of the pole we should stay on. Because there would have been no way of telling. Occasionally another (faster) skier would emerge from the fog above us and then just as rapidly disappear into the fog below. We made it just fine to the chairlift at the bottom, but it did remind me of the time as a child that my family got lost in a snowstorm skiing. My dad truly did fall off a cliff and land okay on his skis, and shouted up to us not to follow him. My brother led us another way down.
After that seriously foggy episode, Emily was getting exceedingly tired and thirsty, and had a cough, so we headed to a restaurant to eat some late lunch and let her rest. Jason had a great time doing his first solo skiing, while the other three of us got something to eat (he wasn't hungry and was enjoying the slopes, and he's 14 now and very responsible, as well as a good, confident skier). Emily drank some water, took off her ski boots, and promptly lay down on the bench seat and fell asleep for almost 2 hours, right in the middle of the noisy restaurant. David and I enjoyed some Saucisse de Veau, Alpenmaccheroni (hard to Google for; many different spellings; macaroni, diced potatoes & toasty cheese), applesauce, and lettuce with corn & beets and a French dressing. Jason joined us later and happily tasted some of everything. Then the boys skied some more together, while I hung out with the sleeping sick girl and looked at the view, prayed, and tried unsuccessfully to get the internet access working on my iPhone. David later showed me how to reboot it (which fixed the problem).
Thankfully, Emily didn't need to ski any more, as we could just take the cable car down the base village of Klosters. Anyway, it was too warm to ski any lower on the mountain - getting slushy. We got back in the car, and as soon as we turned out of the parking lot onto the main road (one narrowish lane each direction), we noticed the cars going farther up the mountain were stopped dead. We merrily drove downhill, and soon saw that the traffic on the other side of the road must have been stopped for quite some time, as there were plenty of people out of their cars (smoking, chatting at other car windows, walking upwards to investigate, getting water out of their trunks), and others reading at the steering wheel. We got the benefit of seeing a lot of license plates (many from Germany, Liechstenstein, Netherlands, France...), and started to pray for the stopped cars...because the traffic went on, seriously, for 17 kilometres (that's 10.5 miles). I felt so sorry for any cars with young kids in them, or people who might need to use a toilet soon...or might even run out of gas eventually (though of course people's motors were off). We never figured out what was the cause of this most impressively long traffic jam ever.
Later on during the drive home, as Emily slept (glad we brought those pillows) and Jason fine-tuned his Humanities essay on whether the WWII atomic bombs were a good idea or not (with arguments for both sides), we passed within five minutes of Liechstenstein (and about 19 minutes from Austria). David promised me he will take me to this new country (FL) some other time, when Emily is not ill, and we have all our passports in hand. After all, it's only an hour and five minutes from home (1h20 to Austria). He's wise.
My favorite town name that we saw on the trip: LACHEN. This, in German, means "Laughter."
January 11, 2009
Skiing in Engelberg/Titlis - Funny and WonderfulYesterday it was more of the same pea soup fog and overcast skies here that we have had for weeks.
But we drove for one hour and five minutes and emerged from beneath the clouds into the super-bright sunshine of the Alps, to ski at Engelberg/Titlis in the canton of Obwalden! It was our first family day trip to ski since we moved to Switzerland. Prior to this, we had only skied the one other time with our friends in Verbier in November (for 3 hours only, on the opening weekend). I was happily surprised by how little effort it was to get ready, since we had already gotten the season ski rentals and accounted for all our gear for that other trip. We just had to assemble everything by the front door, put the ski rack on, and load up. Not staying overnight means a lot less to think about.
Five Funny things about the Excursion:
1. When we arrived at the resort, and were kitting up, everyone put their boots on, and only Emily had trouble buckling hers up, since they are difficult to close even though they fit comfortably. David helped her. Then we walked to the lift, got the tickets, rode up in the gondola, and went outside to put our skis on. But my boots kept falling out of my bindings, and Jason couldn't fit his boots into his skis. David and Emily got their boots properly into their bindings. But we soon realized that actually David was wearing my boots, Jason was wearing David's boots, and I was wearing Jason's boots!!! It was hilarious and unbelievable. We had all been comfortable and hadn't given it a thought...so then we had to do a three-way exchange while standing on one leg at a time, and when I gave Jason his first boot, I forgot to take my orthotic out so he said it felt funny, and we had to take care of that step as well...finally we got sorted out. But it seemed like a scene from a slapstick movie, not something that could happen in real life. It was amazing to think we have a child old enough for this to even remotely be possible. Jason has also been fighting over using our snow boots, so I guess that should have been a warning! Funny, too, that Emily was the only one who had any trouble putting her boots on at first, and she was the only one with the correct boots. We're going to have to do something to mark whose boots are whose...they are all non-descript black/grey rental boots.
2. Back in November when we skied at Verbier, the kids and I had had exceedingly cold hands and wished for hand warmers...so when I saw a ski shop on our way to the first lift yesterday in Engelberg, I stopped in and they had exactly four pairs; I bought them out. Boy was that a great decision. Our hands were already freezing because it was -11°C even in the parking lot (that's 12°F), so we put them them to use right away. Except for David, who doesn't seem to get cold hands skiing like the rest of us. A bit later, the handwarmers being already too hot, I removed them from my gloves and popped them in reserve in one of my coat's seven pockets. When my hands got cold again, I reached in...to find that I had randomly picked as a storage place the very pocket where my Lindt chocolate ball was also waiting for the right moment...oh dear. Melted chocolate everywhere. I discovered this on a lift, and had chocolate on my hands (which I licked of course), and had to sort out messy pocket, hand warmers, dripping chocolate wrapper and all before getting off the chairlift. Another comical moment out of a movie.
3. I always hated T-bar lifts growing up skiing in the Alps. I had bad memories of difficulty tackling the ride up. I have visions of my dad being pulled up next to me with the bar behind his knees instead of under his seat like it's supposed to be. I haven't seen any in Colorado where we used to ski when we lived in the U.S. But yesterday they had one on the Titlis. I dreaded taking it. I worried about Emily being able to do it. I proposed that I go with her to be helpful...and David more or less said that was crazy, and that the people more alike in height should go together. We went with that, and Jason and Emily went up together in front of us. And wanted to do it again 3 more times! They loved it, and never had a hitch. Wow. I should keep listening to my husband. He's really smart. Plus this meant I got to ride up with him and chat and take photos of the kids in front of us with my iPhone and post them live on Facebook... ;-)
4. Listening to the kids chant almost the complete "Hit me on my iPhone" song on the chairlift - I had no idea they knew all the words. Funny song, and funny kids. Funny mommy who was snapping photos left and right and posting them...I'm breaking in my iPhone at high altitude (great reception way up there, by the way).
5. When we got back to the car and stripped our outer gear, several of the party's well-exercised feet were steaming in the -10° temps...and their ski boots were too. Mine weren't. My feet stay fairly chilly while I ski. I have to keep the toes wiggling. But the steam rising from other people's feet was impressive and amusing.
Nine Wonderful things about the Excursion:
1. The sunshine (an answer to my casual but hopefully prayer). We hadn't seen any for a long time, it felt like, and the contrast with the cloud cover over Zurich and Zug was stunning. We broke through into the endless blue sky and breathed deeply of it all day long. Then back down into the pea soup that evening (see it in the valley in the photo? And extending all over the plains). But we arrived home with plenty of sunshine stored up until our next mountain day trip...
2. The rotating aerial cable car - I had rested my skis against the window, but then the window started moving to the left...along with the rest of the entire circular windowed wall. Actually, it was the floor that was rotating to the right, in the end, and we made a 360° rotation by the time we'd reached the top. So everyone got a share of all the gorgeous views.
3. Speaking of that, the mountains were spectacularly breathtaking. We must go back in summer to hike at Engelberg.
4. The answers to my fervent prayers for zero injuries and us all getting home safely and hale and hearty, despite the few inconsiderate and reckless skiers zooming past.
5. The short drive - only an hour and 5 minutes from our house. Amazing.
6. The restaurant at 3200 metres of altitude (10,000 feet). Not crowded, no line at the self-service buffet, and a table in the non-smoking section by the window over the peaks and birds flying below. Good food atop the Titlis Mountain. There is a glacier up there (upon which we skied), and apparently an ice cave which sounds fun to visit (maybe we can see it in the summer if we go back).
7. The success with which David and Jason went down a "yellow" slope - supposedly for experts only. Of course I prayed them through that, while Emily and I took the cable car down (the only other way down, oddly enough).
8. The ability to take photos with my iPhone and post them directly, real-time, onto Facebook, and get instantaneous feedback while still skiing on the mountaintops, from old friends halfway around the world enjoying the view vicariously. Wow, what a world we live in these days. Mind-blowing.
9. At the end of the day, David volunteered to carry my skis back to the car. I was so pleasantly surprised, and I immediately turned and offered to carry Emily's skis, giving her David's poles. Of course Jason just carried all his own stuff - he's in training to carry his wife's skis later :-)
Naturally I could have schlepped my own skis, and had been expecting to, but David knows many ways to my heart. Seriously, that's really romantic to me, carrying my heavy skis at the end of a long ski day, along with his own. What a guy. So many ways to love him.
November 26, 2008
Gorgeous Snowscapes in Verbier
Visit my picasaweb page to see snowy mountain views in Verbier from this past weekend:
|Skiing & Snowshoeing in Verbier|
Also here's a news article on the early snowfall and how it affects ski resorts in Switzerland. They even mention Verbier specifically.