Saturday, August 28, 2010

Home once more.....

Here we are.....home again. And the jungle (aka the garden) has been tamed a little. I have blisters on my hands because I was yanking stuff out of the flower beds with great vigour, and was in too much of a hurry to restore some order to go and get the gardening gloves. I am a genius. My hands will also possibly never be really clean again either. You know how the soil gets into the cracks/creases/edges of the skin? Yes. Like that. And the nails are history, of course. I just had a look at them. Groan. But have a look at one of my butternuts! I am very impressed.

However, I can now get from one end of the top patio to the other without an axe in hand. And the garden bin is overflowing, as is the compost bin. I can't begin to tell you how tall the cosmos is this year. Over 6 ft. The tomatoes are ripening, and the beans are nearly over, and the leaves on some bushes have a definite autumnal look.

But enough of the garden. Hello. I am back.
The journey home was long. exhausting. We stopped many times, and there were hilarious moments like when David's iPod started plaing Rule Britannia, and we, or rather, I started singing at the top of my voice, and my son nearly lost the ability to breathe, he was laughing so much.

We got to Calais early, and managed to get on the early ferry. Sounds great, but in actual fact the wind was so strong that the early ferry was delayed till almost the late ferry time, and then when we got to Dover, we circled outside for ages. I asked the purser why we were circling. "Non, Madame," she said, "we are docking now." I looked at her over the top of my glasses, and said " I was married to a merchant navy officer for 32 years, and have been on more ships than I can count, and believe me, I know when we are going in circles. Apart from that, the lights of Dover keep disappearing and re-appearing". Hmmmm. We did not dock in a few minutes. It took another half hour.

So we were late getting to Andrew and Ann's place, and toppled into bed. And decided to spend another night there playing with Missy and resting.

So we did. Perfect.

She is gorgeous. I know I am biased, but she really is just the best. And she has finally started relaxing around David, which is wonderful. He is great with her, and we took her to the park and played on the swings and let her run around. Bliss. She is not a baby any longer. She is a little girl, and the pigtails and the changing expressions on her face are just adorable. Ann took us to a local park for lunch, which was lovely and more running around was done, and then the rain started. It did not stop till yesterday.

We got back home on Thursday and since then it has been a major accomplishment to have worked through the list. You know The List. When you get home....sort the mail, pay the bills, washing, washing, hacking the garden, shopping for food, washing, making calls, sending emails, ordering medicines, washing...etc etc etc. Fun stuff. Hmmmm.

So here I am. Waiting for my son to rise from his pit and start his day. Mine is half over, and we need to go somewhere. Sigh. He will be back to uni soon.

Right. I need to get moving. I will be back.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Time to return to reality......

Tomorrow I will start packing. Tomorrow is our last day here in the mountains. How time flies. Am I ready to return to the reality of my life back home? I don't know. There are some wonderful things to look forward to, of course. And seeing my granddaughter is up at the top of the list. My sons. And daughter-in-law. My special friends. My garden..... although as I speak, there are storms lashing the village. How much of my garden survives remains to be seen.

David will be getting ready to go back to university soon, for his final year. I need to chase lawyers, and other real stuff like taxing cars and paying bills. But thinking of that side of my life can wait. I am not home yet.

You see, for a few short weeks, I am a person here. I am not useless. I can help around the home. I make a difference, even if it is a small one. My family value what I can do. Because of the way this house is designed, with wide passages, and stairs, and big rooms, and stairs which are shallow and easy to manage, I can cope more easily. The garden is huge and level. I can go for walks, because there are well maintained paths everywhere with plenty of benches if I need to rest and places to stop for coffee. There are also many people walking, so I never worry. There is a free bus service around the village, and the bus sinks lower when it stops, so it is easy to get on and off.

Everyone goes walking with leki poles, so I don't feel different. I look normal. If I need a doctor, there is an excellent one just down the road. There is a physiotherapist directly opposite. There is a swimming pool (indoor and outdoor) nearby.

Here, I am just me. Not the slightly broken me, who cannot do anything much any more. So add the mountains to the mix and it all seems to work. We even have a shopping trolley thing to pull along, as so many people do here. Again, it is normal, and not something slightly eccentric.

I started writing this last night, and the "tomorrow" is now "today" and the pile of stuff is growing in the garage. But the packing of the car can wait till the morning. David and I drove up to the little waterfall early this morning, and spent a wonderful hour there in the forest. No-one else was around, and it was just perfect. Sitting on the rocks, and watching the water cascade down the mountain into the little stream....... and the sun came out and turned the water into liquid gold.

It was hard to leave.

How I long for the time when the hospital thing will be over and I will be in a postion to never have to label myself as disabled, or dented or broken. You know, when dealing with officialdom, you have to focus so much on what you can't do instead of what you can do, or what you make yourself do, and it is so foreign to me, and it makes me seriously uncomfortable. I want to just focus on the me I have become and see where life takes me. So yes, the lawyers go straight to the top of the list. When I get home.

So I am sad to leave. I am sad because here I feel whole. Not defective. Sure, I pay the price for walking in the forests and up on the mountains. But it is worth every pain killer, and every sleepless night.

My body may moan, but my spirit soars. My soul is filled with joy. I feel free.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A beautiful summer day.....

Such a beautiful day!
I did indeed have a lazy start to the day, and after checking the restaurant, and going to the supermarket with Mum, I joined Marge in the garden. More drilling to get that old sunshade post out of the stand, while David and Mum painted railings, and Marge cut edges, repotted, deadheaded and generally slaved in her garden. She loves her garden and pottering about in it.

David went for a walk, and then I joined in the railing painting for a bit, and then cleaned out the bbq.
What better way to end a day in the sun in the garden......

Bratwurst cooking. Delicious.......

Watching the paragliders circling in the sky....
Listening to the chatter of people walking by....
Hearing the train whistle as it arrived and departed....
Birds played on the freshly cut lawn.....
A tractor worked on the grass in the field next door....
Flags fluttered in the breeze, which sent wisps of clouds drifting across the deep blue skies....
And the sound of the river always there in the background.....
The smell of cooking meat on the bbq....
Fresh salad from the garden.....
Watching my son chatting to his aunt....
Bells tolling at the monastery, echoing round the valley....
The dogs lying on the grass....
Beautiful flowers all around.....


And now I need a snooze.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer returns.....

The sun shone today. Did you hear that?? The sun shone !! Then there was a thunderstorm and the rain came and now the ground is steaming. However, the weekend is apparently going to be very hot. VERY hot. There is a little life left in the summer of 2010, it seems.

Today we went down the mountain. And Jean, we have your umbrellas for the garden. I have some too. (Jean went home a few days ago.) We also managed to get a very large and beautiful garden pergola/canopy thingy into a very small car. Marge and I unpacked it in the car park, and then managed to squeeze it in, as well as the 3 of us. I was sitting with the side panels neatly over my head. I had to limbo dance into and out of the seat, and hold on to poles as we drove up the mountain. Mother was clutching them from the rear seat too. A bargain. On sale. We do love bargains.

David mowed the lawns, I watered, and Marge sorted out the pots, and then we stopped because it rained. But it looks good. Tomorrow we can flop and enjoy pottering. I need to sleep late and have a lazy day. So does my sister, who moves at warp speed all the time.

The car is fixed. For a small fortune. However, there is a very interesting note at the bottom of the invoice stating (in bold type complete with exclamation marks) that " when the cam belt is replaced, the water pump must be replaced at the same time, and in this case the water pump was NOT replaced." In German, which is exceedingly helpful. But I will translate.

There is a certain car dealership which will be receiving a visit from me in the very near future. I sense a battle looming. Yet another one. As 60% of the cost of the repair was to remove and replace the engine, when I already had to pay for that when the cam belt was done, it seems a little unfair. Grossly negligent in fact. The new water pump cost peanuts in comparison. But it goes, which is the most important part.

Our time here is drawing to an end. It has gone by so fast, you know. And here I am in a familiar position....torn in so many different directions. Family here, there and everywhere, and me whirling about in the middle like a headless chicken. I can't be everywhere, can I, and yet, wherever I am, I feel guilty about not being in the other places. Someone asked me where I want to be. I don't know. I am not used to thinking about what I may want. Those are dreams, not reality.

I know that I want to laugh more and worry less. I want to relax more, instead of spending so much time braced for what comes next. AKA tense. Wishful thinking, perhaps. Or just a dream.

So.... I think I will be back in my forests while the sun shines over the weekend, if I can persuade my son to come with me. Maybe the small waterfall. Maybe the lake. Maybe the river. Maybe the grotto. We will see. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A jigsaw puzzle......

A few posts ago, I mentioned jigsaw puzzles. Mum and David are working on the horrendously difficult dog one at the moment. They will not admit defeat. Anyway, Mary mentioned life being a jigsaw puzzle in the comments, or something like that, and my mind started whizzing about. She is right. Ironically, more right than she actually knows, because there I was, talking about bits and pieces, and she saw those bits and pieces as a jigsaw fitting neatly together. I didn't see it at all until she mentioned it. Blind to the bigger picture.

You see, on reflection (without the rocking chair), life is exactly that. A jigsaw puzzle. The pieces will all fit together in the end. The only problem is that we haven't got the picture to work to, and this tends to complicate things a trifle. I have no idea what my jigsaw will look like one day, at the end of my life, but Someone knows exactly what the picture be. I just have to keep trying to get the pieces to fit together.

There are times when I just want to toss all those pieces into the air and forget about it. Times when I could be tempted to take a hammer and try and MAKE them fit. And other times when I am so busy trying to fit one piece in that I don't see the picture emerging in another part of the puzzle. You know what I mean?

And what about trying to fit a piece of someone else's puzzle into mine? It won't fit. The shape and colours will be wrong. We can try to force it in, but it won't work. Trying to be someone else, trying to hold on too tight to something. Not letting go. These are all pieces of someone else's puzzles. I mean, just think, if we tried to keep our kids from growing up, from building their own puzzle, for example, we could also wreck our own. And when we are true to ourselves, the pieces seem to slot together effortlessly. I can also help slot a piece or two into someone else's puzzle. Right time, and right place. I can help, and in turn, can be helped with my own. Pieces can be suggested, tried, pointed out..... All through our lives, as we learn things, discover talents, treasures, emotions, we find more pieces to slot together.

We are so used to the words "it all happens for a reason", and frankly, I sometimes want to swat the person saying that to me. What can I say... I am human. However, all pictures have shades in them. Light and dark. Pale and bright. Without the darker bits, the contrast would be minimal. Think of the Mona Lisa. It is a dark painting. It would be a dark puzzle. But without the darkness, the light parts would be diminished, and the whole thing would be bland and ordinary.

Just imagine what a single rainbow would look like against a dark background......stunning. There would be a great deal more dark than light in that jigsaw. The finished picture would be worth it though. Maybe God is painting rainbows.

So my picture - the puzzle- seems to have quite a lot of darker shades in it. This is the difficult part. I can't see how they fit. And right now, we are working on those shady parts, it seems. It has also got some amazingly bright parts. Actually, I think all 64 Crayola crayons in the box (with built in sharperner - Yes, Bev I wanted one too!) have been used. Blended. Added to. Invented. Lots of them. Loads of contrast. I wonder what the final picture will look like. Someone already knows.

There will be a gallery in Heaven, bigger than you or I could imagine, filled with completed pictures, hung on a single wall. Each and every one will be different. Unique. Precious. All those millions of little pieces blended together, telling an individual story. In modern day terms, like pixels in a camera.

Have you ever seen photo mosaics? One picture made up of millions of other photos. Maybe that is what all our jigsaw pictures will be like when hung in the gallery, positioned perfectly by the Master Artist. Each one, though made of millions of pieces, just a single pixel in eternity, but each one absolutely essential, and infinitely precious and absolutely perfect. There will be no gaps or gaping holes. No missing pieces.

One day we will see it, and we will understand.

But for now, we need to just keep slotting those pieces together.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A random collection.......

Today, we have photos. In a random fashion, because it just occurred to me that I have missed out a great many illustrations of posts, so you get the lot all together. And because this is Switzerland, we will start with what seems to be a double ended cow. With a bell. A loud bell. I absolutely know why cows go mad. It is the bells they wear all the time. Or they may all be deaf, of course.

Now this is the view from one of my favourite places. I sit on the bench and watch the world in miniature down there. (I drive to the level walk through the forest which leads to the clearing and the bench.) Just in case you think I WALKED up there. I used to do that all the time. Not any more. Groan. Ah yes, and here we have the waterfall. The big waterfall which people go to see. It is frozen in winter and I have posted many photos of frozen waterfalls. This was just after torrential rain, and I couldn't get close, because we were being drenched by the spray. I really did not fancy a sodden camera. (My Dad once destroyed his video camera on the Maid of the Mist, because he didn't think the spray from the Niagara Falls would be as bad as it proved to be. Hah. )

See? Loads of water cascading down.
A week later, we could walk right up to the base of the same falls. And watch the trickle down the rock face. We could not get anywhere near where I stood to take this next photo when the water was so strong.

Piddly little thing. Beautiful in its own right though. And a lot easier to photograph!
On the walk there, I think I mentioned all the piles of rocks. Here are some on the banks of the river.
David and Jean on the way to the waterfall. "Climb every mountain....."

We are going a little further back in time here, and this is on Swiss National Day. Blue skies in the day time, and torrential monsoon-like rain in the evening. It took 4 days in the end for the shoes to dry out.

Marge's balcony and the Swiss flags in all the plant containers, hanging on the balcony rail. I must go across the road and take some photos. Half of Asia poses in the garden next to the geraniums and her house must be in thousands of Asiatic holiday albums! (There are a great many coachloads of tourists from India, China, and Japan up here!)

Next, this is for Vee . My sister found these garden umbrellas for plants at the local garden centre. This is what happens when petunias get wet and stay wet. They disintegrate in a slimy fashion, and look revolting. Agreed?

Stick a plant umbrella in the basket or pot, and just look at the difference. I took both photos on the same day.

Total difference. These are happy petunias. I need to go and buy some umbrellas. I gather there has been rain at home. I will be prepared.
And finally, I paid a visit to my bench in the forest, on the way to the grotto. Jean said "There are loads of benches to choose from here!" I think not. There is just one. MY bench, and strangely enough, no-one is ever sitting on it when I arrive. It is slightly higher up than the others.
Yes. My feet. It is not the most attractive bench and could do with a little tlc, but I love sitting there among the trees. Sigh. I love this place.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Waterfalls, rain and rivers......

I woke up. Yes, I was asleep almost as I hit the publish post button. I am not as young and full of exuberant energy as I used to be. Sigh. Mind you, I am all too aware that pain is exhausting, so maybe it is not the age after all. Hah! I choose the option of a walk in the woods, over resting. I should be doing the latter. But I HAVE to get out into the forests. I keep remembering that frightful doctor who told me I would never walk in the mountains again, and so help me, that statement drives me. (And the beauty I love so much, of course.) Don't tell me I can't do something. I will find a way.

And to be honest, when you drive to forest, the path is right there, and level, and the waterfall is not far at all, and there are benches to sit on everywhere, so it is not impossible. The UK could learn a lot re benches. There are very few where I live.
Did I mention all the leaves falling in the forest? They are turning red, yellow and orange. In August. There is snow on the mountains, and tonight a huge hedgehog arrived on the patio. It has now disappeared under the garden cupboard. I think it is intending to hibernate. I am not in the least surprised. It is cold.

And so you can see a little of my day today. It is now nearly 1am. This is becoming a BAD habit. Night all!

Out in the forest.....................

Hello from a sodden alp. Yes, you may picture me perched on the top of an alp dripping wet. You would be spot on. Jean, David and I took advantage of a very brief break in the rain, and drove up the valley to the place where we discovered that little waterfall. It was raining on the way there, but within a few minutes, it had stopped, and, laden with our cheese sandwiches and camera and huge plastic bags (to sit on), we ventured out into the forest.

Our little waterfall of last week was a torrent today. A very large waterfall. Some of the paths through the undegrowth were little streams today, but, oh, it was so beautiful. Food for the soul in the very best of ways. The green was so green. The mushrooms/toadstools under the trees were many and varied. The river thundered through the forest, the mountain sides were covered with new waterfalls. The slugs were revoltingly huge and plentiful. I hate slugs.

I was so glad we went. I noticed how much all three of us smiled, How much we laughed. And when the rain came, none of us minded at all. We just put on the waterproof jackets. Jean had hers over her rucksack, so looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Make that the Hunchback of the Alps. But she kept grinning. So did we all. I loved it. We all loved being out there. And who cares about rain and getting wet....... we are not of the melting variety.

Mary , in the comments for the last post I wrote, mentioned the jigsaw puzzle and the link to the little bits and pieces of life I was talking about then, and that has stayed with me. I keep thinking of how apt it is , and howI need to think and talk about it a little more. However, I need a snooze first. I am very tired, and can't think why. Could be because I only fell asleep at 2.30am. Or it could be the computer on my lap keeping me warm which is sending me off to the land of Nod. Hmmm.

I will be back to continue this in a little while.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Doing things you love.....

Well, we have gone from wet to wet and COLD. This is definitely autumnal weather and I am so not ready for autumn. Today started humid, and then got colder by the minute, and we all ended up with multiple layers. In August.

There was a moment when I walked round the house, and there was Mum, crocheting away, in the lounge, Jean baking scones (divine) in the kitchen, and Marge working in her garden. Each of them doing what they loved doing most. And when you do something you love doing, you are happy. There are smiles. Contentment.

And if you think about it, each of them was doing something which brought a huge amount to pleasure to everyone else. I can confirm that the scones brought me a great deal of pleasure. Jean failed to make enough. They were gone in minutes. But then, there is always tomorrow and the possibility that the baking urge will strike again!

There are freesias from the garden in a vase, and people stop to take photos of the house with all the flowers everywhere.... geraniums hanging from the balcony in profuse numbers.....hanging baskets and beds overflowing with plants. A riot of colour. The dilemma of the day was trying to find places for the plants Marge bought yesterday. We may have to create new beds. I use the term "we" loosely here. I may supervise.

And piles of beautiful blankets. Crocheted with love by my Mum. Just waiting for homes. Another riot of colour, and something she loves to do. She also loves crossword puzzles. this is possibly why she is so on the ball for an 84 year old lady! We just have to suggest a combination of colours we fancy for changing the decor in our homes, and the hook starts flying, and we have beautiful blankets to match.

Contentment. Oh yes. Space. A jigsaw puzzle out on the table again. The murmur of voices as people chat. Spaghetti bolognese brought from Peter's restaurant over the road for supper..... another example of someone doing something he loves and bringing the 5 people back at the house a great deal of pleasure. (Not just because we didn't have to cook dinner ourselves!)

In fact, thinking back on the day, just about everything everyone did was for someone else. All bringing joy to the one doing it, because it was something they loved doing.

I nearly forgot the feeble attempt at a puppet show on skype for Missy. There was a great deal of laughter, and all I will say is that it involved a toy dog, a boat which played music, a bath towel, a lighthouse, a fishing rod made from a twig and piece of string, giant fish and wooden birds, and a cardboard shark fin attached to a ruler with an elastic band. And David and Marge on the floor of the study, with Jean and me holding a towel in place and all 4 of us trying to manipulate dogs, fish, birds and boats. As I said, a great deal of laughter. Missy laughed too, so it was wonderful. We made a little girl happy.

And the Purpose Driven Life devotional for today was about rejoicing in doing menial or mundane things for others, as the need arose. Serving. I can't tell you how apt the devotionals have been in the past few weeks.

And then there is the fact that my friends are living in my house (looking after things for me) and at the same time, I am providing somewhere for them to stay while their home has building work done. See? If you start thinking, the list just grows.

It really is quite simple.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The rain is still falling......

One thing I am learning fast with this borrowed lap top is that plugging the power cable in is advisable. There I was gaily hammering away at the keys, in full flow when it shut itself down. That was last night. I now I am not in the mood to go and finish what I started. My literary muse was interrupted. Sigh. You all knew about laptops and power cables, didn't you. See...... I am a dinosaur.

Summer has temporarily deserted us here. The rain has been falling all day. It is a little disconcerting to go to the shops and see all the autumn decorations out, though. And some people are talking about a chill in the air, which I refuse to contemplate yet.

We all went down the mountain today. Good grief, I sound like Heidi. You know, Switzerland has one of the best standards of living in the world, and believe me, they have the best sales too. When you get something which cost SF30.00 for SF2.00 you know you are getting a bargain. And it is SF1.50 to the British pound.

Marge has some of the cutest little umbrellas for her plants in pots. I think I need some too. They have been a great investment, you know - especially for petunias which seem to dissolve in the rain and become quite revolting. There has been a great deal of rain. You just open the transparent plastic umbrellas and stick them in the pots. Brilliant. Yes. I need some. I will take some photos when the rain stops. If......

Going to a garden centre here is wonderful - so many unusual (to me) things, and so different, and in a lot of cases, so reasonable too. Such a pity I have failed to win the lotto. I have seen so many wonderful things. "Just looking" is beginning to pall. Especially when it comes to gardens. I love my garden. I love my sister's garden too, but it is HUGE. I just love the differences. I stand and look at the seed packets and try to recognise the names in German. It amazes me that things can grow down the mountin, but not up here. And all within about 30 miles. A micro-climate.

We also spent a long time looking at playhouses. Oh wow. The temptation was great. I am quite happy pottering about the shops looking, despite the moans of a minute ago. Really. I spend a lot of time thinking of how I can make things, or use what I have already. Ideas. They are great. The Swiss decorate things, like tables, so beautifully. I really need to take more photos. I found myself taking some of pages in a catalogue last night. Stunning ideas for Christmas.

Now if we could just get the leg to behave for a little while. Today has been foul. Well, the day has been fine. The leg (and I use the word "the" advisedly) has been foul. Just dire. Today, though, I couldn't be bothered to hide it. No energy. However, I survived. And I have been sitting here crocheting hats this evening. I have 2 special ones to get ready to send off soon. When it rains, it is always good to have something to sit and make, I think.

Right. Yet again, it is after midnight. This is becoming a habit. I am off to bed. Enjoy the rest of your Thursdays, wherever you are (or Fridays if you are already there!) and remember that Friday 13th is a lucky day. My daughter was born on one Friday 13th, and ever since then, we greet every Friday 13th with special delight. She was and still is, a delight and a huge blessing. (She was born in Feb.)

Good night, all!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Just so you can see what I can see....

As promised, a few photos. I downloaded them onto my hard drive, and so help me, it will not allow me to turn them, so 95% are excluded from the selection process. As there are over 500, you may well be relieved. Above you can see part of the village. The big white building is the Benedictine Monastery and school.

One of our favourite views of the valley and village. Diana loves this view. Jean had never been down this part before and loved it too.

A Swiss cow viewing the world from a lofty perch.....

What can I say. So beautiful.

It is even better in real life.

Along the river here in the valley, there is a bridge where people have built towers of stone. Great, isn't it? David and Jean also built towers this time.

Swiss National Day, and all the flags were flying. Everywhere. Why don't we have a British National Day?
And how is this for a final photo today?

There will be more.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Sunday in the Alps.....

Ok, tomorrow I will find the cables and download the photos. Enough of just words. The pictures tell a better story. And Vee, I will take photos of the food too. Stunning. Delicious. And it is all about the presentation too. Amazing how simple things make such a difference. And apparently my life is incomplete without proper knives. Chef type ones. Right. They can go on the list.

The weather today has been unreal. Pouring rain. Sun. Drizzle. Sun. Rain. RAIN. Sun. Cloudy and humid. A perfect example of the word "changeable". I watched my immensely strong son take 90(I can't find the percent key) percent of the weight of an enormous old tv set which weighed a ton as he and Marge manhandled it down 3 flights of stairs. It had expired. His strength always astonishes me. He can lift anything with ease. Not like his aged mother.

There I was behind him, waiting to catch him if he fell. Yeah, right. I would have been squished. But I am a Mum and that is what Mums do. Get in the way. Flapping. Irritating their sons. I am an expert. He and Marge survived. So did I.

Then he started another 1000 piece puzzle on the dining room table. They are addictive, you know. Especially when it is raining outside. He and Jean and Mum all work together and they are done in a day or 2. This is the 4th one they have done so far. This reminds me of the growing up years. We always got a new 1000 piece puzzle at Christmas, and it was set up on the dining room table, and anyone passing stopped to do a piece or 2.

We also used to get a new game for the family to play every Christmas. And my friends all did the same too, and we made sure we all got different ones, and then played them together as families. Games are such great things for families to do together. Except Risk. That nearly caused WW3 in my house every time it came out. So I banned it. And I HATE Monopoly. The rest of the family love it. I loathe the game.

Playing Trivial Pursuit with Geoff was dreadful. The man had an encyclopaedic knowledge of trivia. He always knew the answers to every question. It drove me crackers. You had to be on the same team to win. When he was at sea, they always had quizz nights, and his reputation preceded him. He was always appointed question master and not allowed to play. He should have applied to play Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Now why didn't I think of that a few years ago........

I am rambling. You may have noticed. Everyone has gone to bed. And I still can't make the spellcheck thingy work in English. So excuse the errors. I am on holiday and the brain has turned to mush it seems.

Midnight looms, my friends, and I must do a Cinderella. Enjoy the rest of your day wherever you are.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A beautiful day......

It is slightly earlier today. The writing. So I am slightly more awake. And Marge found my glasses which is always helpful. When one only has one's sunglases to wear in the dead of night, looking mysterious doesn't help with one's vision.

The sun shone today. Eureka!!! A stunning day, with many people floating above the valley. Paragliding. Bright sails or canopies everywhere. And there was a celebration of 100 years of the Alpine Club at the mountain too. So we ventured over to have a look at the Rega helicopter close up (the emergency medical helicopter).


There I was, minding my own business taking a couple of photos of the bright red helicopter - have I mentioned that flying helicopters is on the "to do" list??? Nice helicopter. And the man in the red flightsuit walked round it as the blades started turning, and I snapped more photos. Let's take a video, I thought. And switched mode on the camera. 10 seconds later, the helicopter took off, and we were suddenly leaning backwards at 45 degree angles. The wind generated from the downdraft was phenomenal. Jean couldn't even hold her camera still for a photo. It was hilarious. The hair took off, and by the time it had disappeared over the mountain, we were all doubled over with laughter. You have NO idea what we looked like. We were only about 20 metres from it when it headed for the skies.

So we went on to the mountain base for coffee looking like wild women. Jean and I, that is. David doesn't have the same problem with hair, of course. We wanted to see the avalanche rescue dog demonstration, and after a coffee with Marge, we watched the rescue men uncover a mound of real snow. I had wondered how they were goign to manage an avalanche in mid summer. Easy. They brought it down from the top of the mountain.

Anyway, the dogs were fantastic. The one which works on this mountain is what looks like a cross labrador/giant poodle. A labradoodle, according to David. Such a sweet dog. The demonstration involved about 8 or 9 dogs, and apart from the one who stopped digging and started eating the snow, then took off to see some children in the crowd, they were astonishingly good. They are so well trained, and heaven knows how many lives they have saved. Wonderful dogs. All the dogs are owned by their trainers, and all the trainers are volunteers.

So it was a fun aftrenoon. Apart from the bit where Jean nearly got beheaded by a descending boom at the car park exit. She was distracted by the fact that the Rega helicopter was back. But David and I yelled loudly enough to spur her into a run and she avoided catastrophe and lived to have her photo taken in front of a red helicopter.

We managed to get the lawn mower started when we got home, and David mowed the vast areas of grass while Jean and I dead-headed and watered. Actually Jean dead-headed and watered while I sat in a chair and filled watering cans for her. I'm sure filling watering cans while reclining in a chair burns off calories. Mum was busy cutting the grass between the paving slabs. I tell you, it is all action round here. Marge was really so pleased the garden was under cntrol when she got back from work. And we were delighted to be able to do somrthing to help.

And so another day in the Alps draws to a close. Today we could see all the mountains. The clouds had lifted, and the skies were clear. So beautiful. You need to come and see for yourselves, of course. And eat dinner at the best place in town - my brother-in-law's restaurant. Not that I am biased or anything.

We all work together as a team when we are here, you see. Everyone helps with everything, whether it is cooking, cleaning, gardening, washing up at the restaurant, ironing, swatting name it. Shopping too. We slide into a routine, where we try to make a difference, and yet there is time for walking and having fun too. And because we are in a different place, it all seems fun, not chores. A win/win situation.

Now if iIcould just keep my eyes open longer, it would help.....

Friday, August 06, 2010

A rambling conversation instead.....

I woke up late this morning, and it felt like the weekend. And so help me, I have gone through the entire day thinking that it was Saturday. It is not. Well, in 10 minutes it will be, but that is beside the point. Sigh. I seem to be slightly out of step with reality. Hang on, I need to get some chocolate. I am in Switzerland, after all. It is my duty.

I went downstairs to hang up some washing, and when I got back here, everyone had vanished. Gone to bed. It is like the twilight zone. So here I am, sitting in the recliner, with my feet on another chair and this foreign laptop on my lap, and a fly is irritating me beyond belief. I need a swatter.

Welcome to my world.

The good news is that there was a pink sky tonight, and that means tomorrow the weather will be good. Up here in the mountains, the weather is so changeable, and there was snow to 1800m last night. We are 1000m here in the village, and can see the snow. It is mid summer. I need some sun. At the very least, enough sun to be able to dry out my shoes. They are all wet. David will be mowing the lawn in the morning. Hahhahaha. He doesn't know this yet. The grass has been so wet. If he doesn't get it done soon, we will need a scythe. Or a combine harvester.

I have finished the chocolate. I may need coffee now. This is a convesation, not really a post. Sigh. I have rolled up a paper and so help me, I am going to kill that fly if it is the last thing I do....

So where was I..... the fly is still here and I have been waving the paper around like a lunatic. It is just as well there are no witnesses. Pottering in the garden, dead-heading geraniums (you have no idea how many geraniums there are in Marge's beautiful garden), skyping with Missy, chatting, scraping part of a wall, all little things which go to make up a day. One thing I have not being doing is resting much. Apart from when I am making hats. I have discovered that I find it very difficult to rest in a room of people. Impossible. And I love all these people dearly. So I am slower than ever. Creaking. And I keep forgetting to take the medicine. I am a star.

This computer just made an alarming noise, so I do believe I will switch it off. It whistled at me. Do computers whistle? Are they supposed to? I am not sticking around to find out what it means. I will be back tomorrow. Today. It is SATURDAY!!!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Surrendering to sleep.....

Firstly, let me apologise for not popping in to visit any of you. It is after midnight again and here I am just logging in, and the eyes are closing and I should have been asleep ages ago. In fact I may nod off imminently.

Secondly, please forgive any typos. As I said a while ago, the computer is spell-checking in German, so that is totally useless. I don't think my German speaking brother-in-law would appreciate his laptop settings being fiddled with either. It is highly unlikely that I would be able to return it to its normal state, anyway. And by the time I finish writing anything I am 99% asleep. So you get odd spelling.

Marge took us down the mountain today, to visit her favourite shops. Bargain hunting. That is always fun when it is somewhere you don't go every day. Like here. I am losign the battle to keep my eyes open people. I had better surrender and crawl into my bed. Tomorrow is another day, and I may be more alert. Awake. Eyes open. We'll see. I may even download some photos.

Night, all.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Where miracles do happen.......

I believe in miracles.

I always have, you know, and nothing will change that. There are too many happening all around us. All we have to do is look a little more carefully, or closely. Some may be small, and some will be mega. It is all relative, of course, but to the recipient of those miracles, they are all super special.

Today one happened to me. You see, we think things are miracles when what we never dreamed could happen does indeed happen. This could be a demonstration of lack of faith, I suppose. After all, Someone once said "Ask and you shall receive". The trouble with that is that you have to really truly believe that ALL things are possible. And I confess that sometimes I think that some things are too mundane to consult higher powers about. That I can handle things myself.

I am certifiable.

So today I had an email from one of the bureaucrats dealing with just one of the multitude of challenges I have been facing, asking me to call her. You know how your heart plummets? Yes. Like that. At the same time I got the email, I had another - my daily devotional from the Purpose Driven Life people. (Their current series is wonderful, and I really recommend you all subscribe.) So I read that one first. Just as well.

Before I made the call, I had a little chat with the most patient of Fathers. He needs every ounce of patience when dealing with me, believe me. Then I made the call. The impossible happened. The kind and gentle bureaucrat (yes, they do indeed exist) told me that on compassionate grounds, they were making the problem disappear. And I sat there in the garden and wept. For my lack of faith. For forgetting that all things are possible. With relief. And when she ended the call, she said to me that she hoped that this marked a turn in the way life was happening for me.

All things are possible. We just have to believe. And if the small things are taken care of, just think what He can do with the big things. The mind boggles. Today. Tomorrow. Any time. It was a miracle for me. And I am more thankful than I can ever say.

Faith should colour every minute of our days. And nights too. And the smallest of problems are equally as important as the huge ones to Him. We just need to believe. And trust. I know this, of course. I just tend to think I can handle things better. Hahahahahahha. Proud. Stubborn. Obstinate. Fixer. Pig-headed. That is me. I am 56 years old and still need to learn the hard way. As I said, I must be certifiable.

But today, a miracle happened, and I will not forget.

Earlier, David, Jean and I went for a walk along the river up the valley. It was a tough walk for me, and I have been wiped out ever since. Just before we reached the place where we could get the bus back, we heard the sound of rushing water nearby. We walked on, because the bus was coming, and then I stopped and called to them. Shall we forget this bus and follow the sounds of the water? We decided to do just that. And if we hadn't, we would never have found one of the most beautiful spots on earth.

Water cascading down the rocks into a series of small rock pools where we could sit, and dip our feet in icy glacier water. So peaceful and so beautiful. No-one else was around when we got there. We sat for a while, and just drank in the perfection of the place. So quiet. Of course I took photos. Many. I haven't downloaded any yet, but I will get round to that sometime. Soon, I promise. All I can say is that I wish you could see what we saw. Could breath in that air, and hear the water tumbling over the massive rocks. See the sun glistening on the spray. Feel the coldness of the water. See the clarity of the water. A little clearing in the forest at the base of the mountain.

We have promised ourselves that we will go back as often as possible. Maybe not walking, though. How many more exquisite places will we find, I wonder? The beauty which is hidden all around just stuns me every time we uncover another glorious place. I wish you could all be here to share it.

So today has been a good day. And I have learned that even bureaucrats have hearts sometimes. That faith can indeed move mountains. That beauty lies down hidden paths- we just have to look. That faith applies to small things too. That a God who can create such beauty for me to enjoy is a God who sees to small things too. That miracles happen every day.

And that the power struggle I continue to wage by trying to do it all myself has to stop. For a control freak, letting go was never going to be easy, was it. One battle over, and I never had to fight. You have no idea how great the relief is or how thankful I am.

Remind me, please, of what I have said, in case I forget. All things are indeed possible.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Simple things...........

A week ago, we set off for the mountains. By car. That car is now making a horribly ominous noise, and it still has to get us back home again. Believe me, many prayers are winging their way heavenward right now. Stupid hunk of metal. It is meant to go at all times, amd behave.

The trip was long, and exhausting for all of us, but we are here, and I am taking things slowly. In fact slow is just about all I can cope with. The computer monitor which expired is not mine. It is my sister's, and David is trying to fix it. As I speak, it is in pieces on the dining room table. But he was a star, and has attached the computer to a tv, so it can be used. These are moments when I really miss Geoff - he would have fixed it is a heartbeat. I have appropriated my brother-in-law's laptop, which has a foreign keyboard, and a really unreliable internet connection. I have to restart every few minutes, which is not ideal. Especially when I lose whatever I have written.

But enough of that. There is plenty to be grateful for right now.
  • I love the mountains. You all know that.
  • I am spending time with my family, and that is special.
  • Diana is safely home in NZ
  • My friend Jean is here too, and is learning what life would have been like with 2 crazy sisters!
  • She also loves baking. We are encouraging her. We have given up worrying re the hips.
  • I get to play in another garden. Well, I would if the rain would stop. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny.
  • I have a brother-in-law who sends delicious lunches from his restaurant. See hips above.
  • My friends are staying in my home and looking after my garden for me.
  • There is a great wool shop round the corner.
  • We have heard alphorns at dawn, waking the village with a beautiful song.
  • Yodelling nuns.

Ah yes....... there is always something to be thankful for, isn't there. It just takes some searching for at times. And the crocheted hat thing...... Diana asked for a hat before she left, and being the world's most accomplished procrastinator, I made one sort of out of my head the night before she left. Well, now that I have twiddled about with the pattern, and adjusted it a little, I am on a roll, people. The hats are piling up. I do believe Christmas presents are sorted.

For a short while, I am ignoring the swirling vortex of thoughts and "stuff" in my head, and I am just "being". Detox of the mind time. Simple things, like deadheading flowers, and making hats, and reading a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. One little story at a time. Sitting in the garden. Breathing the clear sweet air.

Home and all that " stuff " can wait. I am slowing down and smelling the roses, and you know what? It is good. I recommend it.

I have just used the spell check thingy. Well, it has highligted this entire post. That would be because it thinks I should be writing in German, which I clearly am not. Nor am I going to. The speaking part is getting better by the day. I actually heard myself talking to my brother-in-law in German today. Normally it is English. I understand, but just battle to find the right words at times. But I am getting there.

Mindful. Peaceful. Gentle. Slow.

I am trying. I can't think of a better place to be right now.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Checking in.....

Hello world.
I am balancing a borrowed laptop on my lap.
The wireless connection is sporadic and unreliable.
It is after midnight.
It has been raining.
Torrential rain.
My leg hurts.
My friend had her op today, and all results of tests are great.
Oh good grief, I just lost half this exceedingly exciting post.
Did I mention that the borrowed laptop has a foreign keyboard?
I have crocheted 7 hats.
Do not ask why.
I have no idea other than that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I need to go to bed.
I will be back with something more edifying tomorrow.
I hope.