Friday, November 30, 2012

The snow stopped.....

Hello from the Alps once again......


The snow has stopped and it is a little warmer (scratch that, I just went outside), so I wonder how long it will last now. I wanted to get photos of the sun shining on the snow,  so I was out quite early, but the cloud hasn't cleared the mountain top just yet. Maybe tomorrow. I will try again then.


Right behind that tall tree in the middle of the picture, is my sister's home. You can't see it here. I am this very minute, looking out of the window at that tall tree. Beautiful does not begin to describe this place. The inside of the house is still in evolutionary phase. Winter and Christmas decorations are being placed everywhere, but we all had an epic fail this morning, when none of us saw the (collective noun) of penguins in the hall. Marge was less than happy with our miserable powers of observation. OH GOOD GRIEF - I just looked up the collective noun for penguins and there are FIVE. What is this world coming to?? Colony, creche, huddle, parcel, rookery. I would say colony. What would you say? 


There is the Benedictine monastery and school. 


The ski jump.That thing is appallingly steep. I think it is the only one built on a real hill - mountain side in Europe. I think. 

Some snow has started slipping already. This was early this morning, so it had nothing to do with temps then, believe me. It must have been weight. 


Waiting for the mountain top to appear. It didn't. Missy's swing is rather packed with snow, and look, Missy, your little house is all snowy too! That is how snowy it got while under cover. 


So there you's helping of Alpine charm. The pathways are lethal at the moment, because all the snow has been scraped off by the enthusiastic snow removal people, who are Rulers Of The Roads here. So I have been tottering about very gingerly. Give me a foot of snow to plod through and I am fine. Ice? Forget it. My stick does have its rubber sock removed now, so the spike helps a little.

I spent a fascinating afternoon drying out a huge ice cream freezer in the garage which had been turned off, and then repacking it with an entire garage full of tupperware and other assorted plastic things. That meant finding lids and matching them all up and then stacking them all back in the chest freezer in a space efficient manner.  Lids are like socks. They seem to multiply and can anyone tell me why, if there is a huge bag of lids hanging up there, we can't find one to fit a large container? 

Ah well. Now it is time to flop into a chair and zone out in front of TV. I can manage that. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And the snow still falls.........................

Well, I did say that it was snowing, didn't I? 

It has not stopped. The world is white this morning, and the snow blowers and snowplows have been out and are still out clearing the roads and paths and life simply goes on as normal, if a little slower.


There is no sun, of course, because the white stuff is still blowing about, but a monochrome world can be beautiful too.We went down the mountain at a snail's pace because you had to, and the snowplows (ploughs - both work in the dictionary although I lean toward the plough myself!) were ahead of us. Everyone here has winter tyres on their cars, and Marge and Peter's car is a 4 wheel drive too, but we were almost down the mountain when Marge, who was driving, announced that she NEVER goes down when the roads are like this. She coped perfectly. The next time I go down the mountain, I will be on my way home. Sigh. 


So, we spent a few hours in another shopping centre, and had breakfast there. It is lovely to see all the different Christmas stuff, and we always look at the toys and assorted Missy-kind of things. She is growing up so quickly, and we are skipping about trying to keep up with her new ideas of play time. We love it. 

So, after a trip to Lidl for essential greenery of the food variety, we set off up the mountain, and it was even slower coming up, because there were coaches ahead. This one we crawled past, had not put on its chains, so had to stop and all the passengers had to get out and stand in the snow while the driver sorted that ridiculous oversight. You do not bring coachloads of people up steep and windy mountain roads with hairpin bends without chains when it is snowing hard. 


And it is snowing down the mountain too, so there was no excuse. Sometimes, the road up is closed to all except 4 wheel drive cars and those with chains. 


And we are back up in the valley safely. I used the mega snow shovel to clear the drive a little after we got back. The snow is easy to move, but not after you compact it with a full car. Then, in a saintly fashion, I announced that I was going to go out and take snow pictures. "You have to, don't you", said my sister, as she carried on unpacking winter...........


Some of the soft snowmen and reindeer looking out at the snow on the balcony off the lounge. They will all be in place before the day is out. Neither Marge nor I got to bed before 1.30am. The crash will occur tomorrow morning, when we can laze in our beds for as long as we like. Thank heavens - I can't stand the pace! 


The garden is now blanketed with snow and you cannot see any mountains at all. So just imagine them in the background.


Remember the photo I took yesterday? This is what it looks like today.


The ski jump is starting to look really good now, as well.


And here is another shot of the Kurpark, like yesterday's one, only very different with the piles of snow!

To Marge and Peter, this is normal. I wonder if it would ever become normal to me? I really doubt it. I just want to be out there walking about in it, even though that probably sounds crazy to those of you so used to it. There are only a few days left of our stay now, and I want to imprint it all on the memory, and capture it on camera, so that I can take it all out and turn it over in my mind, and remember. 

But there is so much to look forward to as well, of course! 

I thought last night of something I meant to tell you all, and now I cannot for the life of me remember what it was. This happens far too often. Oh yes, now I remember. I am still reading John Ortberg's Who is This Man? and I know I mentioned it to you ages ago. It is a really fascinating book, but not light reading. Anyway, I am nearly at the end, and he quoted someone - I forget who right now- who said that the 2 greatest revolutions in the history of man have been farming and Jesus. I knew that the world had pivoted with the life of Jesus, but farming was not something I had ever thought of at all. 

Don't you love it when someone says something and a light bulb goes off in the brain and you have the a-ha! Eureka! moment yourself? 

Of course farming changed man from hunter gathers to plonk yourself down and build a community kind of people. The world changed as building began. Communities were born. Discoveries made, machines invented, social interaction became more complex and the world changed forever. Societies were formed.

 A discovery was made that if you drop or lose one seed, instead of loss, you will gain so much more when it grows into a new plant, a tree, food. Seeds in and of themselves are useless. 

Once you start thinking about it you realise any number of spin-offs which had their birth in those days. Fascinating, isn't it? 

The seed leads me to the next profound point John Ortberg made. The seed has to die for something to be born from it. The seed has to die for fruit to be born. The Son of Man had to die for the world to be saved. The seed, the son. 

He says it all so much better than I do, of course. But it is worth pondering. 

It has taken me ages to read it. It takes ages to read anything, and I keep falling asleep and forgetting what I have just read, but some things stick. So writing them down here may help me to remember. 

And now I need to go and put on the winter cushion covers and position Marge's herd of reindeer who flew out of the loft last night. 

PS: it is still snowing................

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I said it would snow.................


I said snow was due, didn't I? I was right. It started falling gently before lunch and hasn't really stopped since then. At times heavy and at times not, so we will see what morning brings. It certainly looks very white out there, and I am SO glad it started snowing before I left. Mind you, I see Engelberg is due snow tomorrow, Friday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday...........

It is possible to have a little too much snow. But I will be enjoying it for now.
These photos were taken early afternoon today, after my brother-in-law and I had made two trips down the mountain to the cash and carry to return bottles and vegetable boxes from the restaurant. 

Life is fascinating around here. 

Do you know how frustrating it is to have to zap through the C&C at speed when I really wanted to check out prices and look at everything??? I managed to pop some chocolate into the trolley, which could have carried an entire family lying flat, it was so huge. (And impossible to steer.) A cultural lesson, I feel. 


Remember those muddy photos of the preparations for the World Ski Jumping in December? It is starting to look like ski jumping weather.

And if you check back at yesterday's photos, you will see how much they have already managed to install. Some of the seating, tents, flooring, other things. I will show you what it looks like just before I go. I am sure there will be more to see by then! 

Do you know that it is possible to tar a road in the middle of a snowfall? I wonder if the British road workers are aware of this. I should have taken a photo of the workmen in the road this afternoon. Mind you, if they stopped work every time it snowed, they would be resting the feet in front of a fire for 6 months of the year here. They may not be able to afford fires in that case. The Swiss are a hardy lot.

This is the Kurpark with the first dusting of snow. I was on the way to the Co-op to buy the bread and milk.Trudging through the snow with my stick and shopping bag with the ancient black coat with the hood over the head...... I know you have the exact idea in your mind of the picture I made.......

I do think that the locals were a bit amused by the fact that I thought their snow shovels were worthy of photographing. These are not piddly little things we see in the UK either. Serious snow moving stuff. I know. I have used them here before. Remember the ice bashing with David last year? Well, he did the bashing and I watched. With the camera. 

And then I wandered over to meet Marge along the river. Hasn't the scene changed? It just looks so lovely in all seasons. To me, anyway. 

So we have snow.

 And now on to the delight I had reading all your comments this morning! Thank you all for taking the time to say hi from all over the place. I know how hard it is to try and find the time to comment and I really appreciate seeing all your names pop up. Such fun! Susan, I really miss knowing the other Susan is not in Switzerland any more. It was always so lovely to know she was here, and I loved meeting her. In fact, meeting up with blogging friends has been wonderful, in my experience. 

All of you - Tigger, Lindie, Isabelle, Sam, Linda, Susan, Vee, Bookworm, Retha, Debbie, Sandra, Helen - some "old" friends, and some new, you are so very welcome here. And that applies to the others out there too, of course. 

My sister has just announced that Autumn will be packed away and Christmas will be put up in the next couple of days. A Decree.  I will endeavour to fight my way out from under the strings of lights and trees (there are a few trees here) and towers of boxes and emerge at the computer to report all. I will be the one wearing baubles over the ears and looking a trifle dishevelled. 

Oh wait - that is my normal attire........

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sprechen-ing Deutsch and ski-jumps.........

Hello, and a special welcome to the lovely ladies who comment here - it is such a delight to read your thoughts, and to think of you reading mine too. I wonder, sometimes, about the hundred or so who come and visit most days but leave without chatting. Who, where, why??? Well, I know the where, but not the who. But you are all very welcome, of course!

Today has been a white day. No, not snow, but that is coming tomorrow, I gather from Those Who Know These Things. No. Fog. Pea soup kind of fog. So thick you cannot see anything a few feet ahead of you. (It is still out there.) And I drove my brother-in-law down the mountain for an appointment through this fog. As we set off, I told him that if we went at 2 miles an hour, that would be JUST FINE. However, there was a sensible, well lit landrover ahead, so that made things slightly easier. Hah. We got there and back without mishap, and I even managed to find my way to the shopping centre in search of a replacement for a thing from the innards of the steam cleaner, which gave up the ghost earlier today. (Past children in white cloaks ringing cowbells. I assume in preparation for Sammi Klaus next week.) 

My stick and I marched up to the man at enquiries and asked, in German, if he spoke English. Nein. Ok, Ich sprechen Deutsch, I announced, and then - THEN, I proceeded to tell him the problem, find out that a replacement would take 10 days, discuss guarantees and check out the price of a new one all in German, if you please. I was on a roll. We had a real conversation, and he understood me. I understood him, and I left clutching the name of an emergency repairman if I needed it sooner.

Go, me!

Such an accomplishment, I tell you. AND to top it all, I found my way back to pick up brother-in-law, and we toddled back up the mountain into the white world. Hairpin bends and all.

So I am feeling rather pleased with myself.

AND - there is more - my sister arrived back from her seminar where she had to do a presentation and she hates public speaking with a passion, and she absolutely aced it. The management expert who was training the staff, said that she had set the bar really high. She went first. Well, that was an even greater relief, because I have been her trainer in the evenings, and her presentation was interspersed with the word "BREATHE" in red now and then. I know how hard it was for her, and I am SO proud of her!

She remembered to breathe.

See? More pink poles along the river. The river looks so calm and innocent, doesn't it - it is winter, so up the mountain, it is all snow and not rain. But I remember the devastating floods a few years ago which tore through my sister's house. So I keep an eagle eye on it. On the left is the fence around the Sportshalle, just over the road from my sister's place. And just on the right, is the ski jump.

It doesn't look like much right now, but in just 2 weeks, on the 16th I think, the World Cup Ski  Jumping Championships come to town, and the world will be watching those crazy tiny men whizz down that massive hill, and launch themselves into the air once again. They come every year. Check your TV stations and see if you can watch a little while, imagining my sister's house at the bottom of it all!

The mud, we will ignore. The snow is coming tomorrow, remember. The construction of the stands and tents and all the rest has begun. I have never paid to watch this, understand, I have stood on Marge's balcony and watched for free!
Now, tell me, is this not totally SWISS? Just wait until the snow falls, hopefully before I fly away, because I will show you some more. Let me know if you have had enough!

And the inventories go on. We have 2 more days to finish it all, and then I can breathe. BREATHE. 

I will be back. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Little red trains, reflections and inventories..............

The village is ready for the winter season and that means snow. All over the place, on paths in the forest, along the river, round the lake, everywhere, you will see these poles. They indicate the edge of paths for when the snow comes. Believe me, it really arrives in piles. This particular pink topped pole is about my height and I am 5 ft 6 inches in old terms. I may, of course, have started shrinking height wise. The rest of me is resisting all attempts to shrink. 


I have a vision in my head of someone being hired to dip the ends of thousands of poles into pink paint. 

I was trying to be artistic with this photo. Actually, the place is riddled with enormous yellow or red cranes working on building projects, which are ruining my photos. There is one just to the left of this photo which I concealed behind the tree. Now if they painted them green it would be easier for them to blend into the scenery. Or white for when the snow arrives. This is Switzerland. I wonder why they haven't thought of that yet??
I managed to take a photo of this duck before they all took to the water to get away from me. I just love the way it is standing on a tiny rock so it looks almost as if it is standing on the water. 

The little red train has grown up. It now has a very large engine, and is 4 times as long. It also doesn't go on cogs slowly up the mountain. Instead, it snakes its way speedily through a very long tunnel, so you miss all the glorious scenery and the excitement of the cogs, and all in all, I prefer pretty over tunnels. Business interests. Bah. I even suggested that they have maybe 4, even 2 a day winding up the mountain slowly for tourists, and that is out of the question, because they have got rid of some of the track. 

Bigger sigh. 

Progress is sometimes actually going backwards. 

Now, on to reflections. 

I have been noticing the reflections of the mountains in the water as I amble about, and it has become something I look for constantly. There are pools of still water every now and then along the river, and I catch glimpses of the reflections and they are so beautiful I had to share them. 

I just love the bare branches of the trees and their reflections in this one. This was the first one I noticed.


So pretty. Water and shimmery images. 
Today, I have been nowhere and done nothing except help to compile an inventory of epic proportions. In English. It now has to be translated into German. Do you have any idea how many pots, pans, knives, forks, spoons, bowls, trays, mixers, cooking implements, machines, glasses, younameit one can find in a restaurant??????? Zillions, I tell you. Zillions. Tables, chairs, mirrors, cushions, curtains, pictures, cloths, mops, groan. 

Etc etc etc.

Etc etc.


So many things. 

And now I am off to search for some coffee. I use the word "search" loosely, because I know where it is, of course. It just feels like an expedition when one is weary. Search is more "interesting" than "make".

 I am losing the plot. 

It must be caffeine deprivation......

Sunday, November 25, 2012


A few days ago, I just happened to look out of the window and saw this. Not your normal morning vista around here, I can assure you!


So, screeching "Balloons, Balloons!!" at the top of my voice and zapping around the place looking first for my camera, then my coat followed by my stick, like a headless chicken, I was out the door and across the road.......


Not 2, not 4 but 5 beautiful balloons taking off from the mountain car park just across the little bridge.


I didn't know balloons took off from here. Neither did my sister, who had already dreamt up a staff outing in balloons. Now her bosses know this is possible after all. I think it would be such a wonderful additional excursion for the mountain to offer. Once upon a time, I thought I might try paragliding, aka running off the side of a mountain into space. But then I changed my mind. It is no longer on the bucket list. My sense of self-preservation kicked in, and there was also the running bit. A) I can't run and B) I am pretty sure the heels would have dug in at the edge of the cliff and we would have fallen like stones. But happily, we will never know the answer to that one. 

Oh the relief. 


There they go. All 5 of them. The giraffe one did go up and come straight down again. I am assuming it was because of someone changing their mind about the adventure, because it took off again immediately. Had there been any malfunction, I may have trampled the others to eject myself, and it all seemed very normal and orderly. 

The sky was, in fact blue. But the camera was a little confused with all the colours.

And, as I look out of the window this morning I can see blue skies again with puffs of clouds, and paragliders drifting around the peaks. Lots of them. As the balloons soared into the sky, some paragliders flew around them, but my photos are rubbish. I also discovered, as I was looking skywards, that the lens of the camera was really grubby. I think maybe from the cold and the breeze. Whatever. I cleaned it. Six. I can see 6 paragliders coming in to land now. More still flying. If I moved to any other window I would see more. All around us. 

Last night there was a really loud popping sound, like fire crackers just outside. I wondered if there were fireworks, but when I opened the door, the village whip crackers were doing their practicing in the middle of the road. Every time I opened the door they stopped. And it was SO frustrating. Mind you, I didn't want those whips anywhere near me either. They accompany St Nicholas (Sammi Klaus) when he visits all the children on 6th December every year. I suspect being good might be a great idea. I found a blog written by an Australian exchange student when I was looking for an explanation of the whole Sammi Klaus event, and she gives a great description of it all. You can go here to read for yourselves. It is a huge thing here in this village too. And those whip crackers were superb. Maybe they will practice again today. Hmmm. No. It is a Sunday. Probably not! I will see if I can get better photos if they do happen to start flinging those whips around. I saw one clip on Youtube where they were yodelling at the same time. Go here if you want to hear the bells and the yodelling and the whip crackers too! (here you are, Vee!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Up in the mountains..........

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There is something about those blue skies and towering peaks which makes you take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Stunning, isn't it? This is the view - or just one of the views, rather - from my sister's garden. 

I must have taken 40 000+ photos of this very peak in the past 30 odd years, you know. I have been very restrained. And I will probably take millions more. I just never ever get tired of it, or the ways it changes through the seasons. And it is at the bottom part of this that I go on my walks through MY forest. Well, it feels like my own special perfect place, even as the developers start to cut down more trees and change it forever, but we will not go into that now, or I will have to start making a giant placard and go and start my one woman protest in the face of the appalling madness of the planners. 

But I digress. 

I have never forgotten the words of that consultant when he made the diagnosis of CRPS. "You will never walk in the mountains again..." and the determination that raged into being at the same moment inside my soul. NO-ONE is going to tell me I can't do something. Do you remember how I got my sister to drive me up to the path into MY forest? 

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It took forever and 2 leki poles to do the walk, but, I did it back then, and I make sure I do it every single time I come back. I CAN walk in the mountains. Maybe not the way I used to do it, and certainly never without pain (unless the temps are way below freezing then it all goes numb for the blessed duration of the walk and we will not discuss the thawing process either) but I do that walk, and it makes my heart sing. 
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See? There is my bench. The one I always get to, winter, spring, summer or autumn. I usually carry some plastic bags with me when it is winter, so I can always brush aside the snow and plonk the rear end down on it. Because this is where I sit. Always. And listen. And breathe and just be. 
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The trusty pole next to me. Shadows long, because there is not much time when the sun shines in the valley now that winter is approaching. The legs lead to the rear end which is, indeed, firmly plonked on that bench. 

It is such a sense of accomplishment to be there. I walk to the grotto, a little further on first, and light the candles I came to light, and I sit a while in the silence (usually) of the grotto area, and God and I talk over the people I am missing, and remembering.  And then we, the sticks and I slowly inch our way down the grotto path to the main path and there is my bench, just waiting for me. Time seems to slow, everything fades away, and it is just me there, in my forest, where leaves still fall and water still trickles.

I just never get tired of it. Ever.

Sometimes, we leave the mountain, and wind our way down the mountain to the city below. And we did this a few days ago. Switzerland does Christmas in a classy way, if you look at the nicest shopping centre around here. Missy would be happy, because this year, PINK is definitely a popular colour. Purple is too, and that is good because purple is Missy's second favourite colour......

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That tall tree towers over 3 stories, and the huge hanging balls are all around as well.

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I love seeing all the new decorations. That hanging circle is stunning. So much to see. So much to marvel over. 

It is just all so different, and I love being down the mountain, but I tell you, as we whizz up the windy bends back to this valley, I just know that what we will reach is the best of all. 

I was thinking a few days ago, about how God must have smiled when he created this valley he hid away so well. He must have known that countless centuries later, it would be Benedictine monks who would make the climb and discover the valley. That was in 1120. And it has been here through all the turmoil ever since. 

I wonder how many more jewels He created and then, with a grin, hid. Is life a treasure hunt, do you think? Maybe. Perhaps. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas season begins..........

I am living vicariously through others today, waiting to see the Black Friday bargains. We don't have that sort of thing here, although Amazon UK is trying to do its thing. I have been watching some Facebook friends who have been out there, and I am turning a rather unbecoming shade of green at the price tags they have photographed. We pay a hefty price for things here, especially cameras and other such goodies. But then, it is fun to see what others find, because bargains are what I love best! My Scottish friends, Cheryl and Robin, are in the US for Thanksgiving with her sister who lives there, and she was also planning a shopping expedition - just to experience the whole thing.

Jean and I could wrote a book of frugal shopping. Add my sister to the mix and we are intrepid adventurers and superstar bargain hunters.

So today, we have been continuing with our dolly wardrobe creation efforts. My sister chopped up her old jeans yesterday so that we could make Billy (the COLD DOLLY; MOREGLANNY! Remember him??) some warm clothes. He now has 5 pairs of jeans, complete with the proper side stitching, and some have pockets. He also has a coat with a hood to match the green jeans. And we have plans afoot to chop up socks and make jumpers tomorrow. Old gloves will make excellent hats, in case his head gets cold, and pyjamas will be made too. We found some flannel in the cupboard.

There is no need to buy a thing for this superb wardrobe, because we have velcro, buttons, cotton, fabric, you name it. It is here. Marge and I have similar sewing/craft supplies. Actually, hers is way more extensive, but I have more than enough, believe me.

Billy even has handkerchiefs of his own, in case he gets a cold.

There will be a photo shoot when he does his catwalk thing once we have supplied all his wardrobe needs.

I do love having the time to play and invent things as we go along. And Marge has patterns, now that we know Billy's height.

It is a little early for any Christmas decorating ideas for me. I usually start at the beginning of December, but will probably wait until the end of the first week this year. In South Africa, we only ever started decorating after the 16th December. That used to be Dingaan's day. But in the UK, people start to put up their trees at the beginning of the month. My sister does her decorating early, but the tree is always later. However, most people leave everything up for the 12 days of Christmas, so it all comes down around the 6th January every year. Some take there trees down just before school goes back though. Mine will stay up till the 6th. I love the Christmas lights on in the gloom of winter.

Isn't it interesting to see all the different traditions? I love it all. Advent starts on December 2nd. There is a Christmas Market next week, so I will be there, of course. I LOVE Christmas markets. And bargains. And home made gifts. And Christmas baking. And most of all, the thought that all my children will be home this year. In just a few weeks, my daughter will be boarding an aeroplane for home, and I cannot wait to see her.

Missy called earlier. To order strawberry (PINK) ice cream for Christmas.

Right. Strawberry ice cream will be on the menu then......

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and a meme...............

Yesterday, Deidra wrote, with a certain amount of nostalgia, of the time when she started blogging and the Memes we all did back then. Remember them? The ones where, little by little, inch by inch, we started revealing who we were to our readers. Talking of small things we had done, seen, read, or simply, had loved.

So, Deidra decided to revisit those days and do a small version, and I am so enjoying the idea of joining in.

You know, I have been blogging since this time in 2005. It is not so very long in real years, but in blogging/Internet years, that was back in the dark ages.  I mentioned to her that I held on to the friendships forged back then fiercely. I so loved getting to know you all, and to walk with you as we explored our worlds, via the wonders of the ether.

I made up that ether bit. You will know what I mean.

Living here in the UK, I am isolated from the main blogging world. There is no doubt. Now there are many UK bloggers, but back then I struggled to find any. It still leaves an "outside" feeling inside, though. So much is just geared to USA bloggers, and so little includes foreigners. Giveaways, competitions, special deals..... And the conferences I would so love to attend one day. One day. It will come.


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, and to all my American friends, both old and new, I am sending you the warmest of British wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a really special family time together, giving thanks for all you have.

I still wish it was an international holiday. We need one too. Mutter, mutter. (See yesterday's post.)

So here we go:

Favourite Movie: Well. The first movie I ever saw was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and that was magical to a very small girl. The Sound of Music was and always will be, very special too. We visited Salzburg just after the movie came out and actually stood behind those bars in the church and watched a wedding like the nuns did. The Railway Children was the most viewed movie as my children grew up - they could watch it over and over again. And my all time favourite? I haven't got a clue. I need to ponder and second and have a cup of coffee.

Hang on. I will be right back.

I went to look at the DVD collection for inspiration. Older movies like the Magnificent 7 had a place in my life. So did more modern ones. The King's Speech is right up there at the top but the ultimate movie for entertainment was Dirty Dancing. Oh how I longed to be whirled around a dance floor with a dancer of Patrick Swayze's calibre!

Hmmm. There is a little lacking in substance here. Nothing too heavy. I have seen many heavy, thought provoking movies, and enjoyed them all, but they are not making the list.

Favourite vacation/holiday: Well, that had to be the epic "Let's take the children all around Europe for nearly4 months" one when I turned 12 in Zermatt. Even though my father despaired of my nose in a book phase, I saw everything. It was unbelievable. Dad took so much time and trouble to study my geography book and take me to every single photo in it. Yes. We had to do schoolwork. Thank heavens I was studying European Geography that year. Every coal mine? I saw them. Rivers? Possibly went on them. We had a really amazing time.

Favourite Book; I sort of covered that a couple of days ago here. So many outstanding books. Our bookclub voted on the best book we had read in 20 years, and it was, by a very great majority,The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruis Zafon. An outstanding book.

Favourite Hymn: I grew up in a very large Methodist church and we had an outstanding organist, a great choir and oh, boy could we sing. Methodists have a reputation for singing and our church was just phenomenal. Deidra wrote of her favourite, Holy Holy Holy, and I have been singing it ever since. Guide me Oh Thou Great Redeemer is another one I absolutely adore. It is well with my soul. That one makes me cry when you read the history of it. Such faith.

My sister and I have been trawling through Youtube, singing (in harmony at the top of our voices) - Great is thy faithfulness, Praise my soul the King of heaven, To God be the Glory, What a friend we have in Jesus. How to pick a favourite? Well, I will go with the one I chose for Geoff's funeral. Guide me Oh, Thou Great Redeemer. We sang Jehovah back when I was young. Not Redeemer. We are of the age, you see, where we had a full assembly at school every day, and we sang a hymn. So by the time 12 years had gone by, and add church and Sunday School to that, and 12 full carol services and their included rehearsals for the entire school, we are word perfect to this day. It is really interesting to see, in church, when we sing old hymns now and then, how our age group and older, all put down the words and just sing. The young ones can't do that. There are no assemblies with hymns any more, and that is so sad.

Favourite colour: Hmmm. In my home, I choose a neutral palette, so I can ring the seasonal changes, and that I love. I love pink, but the older I get, the more aware I become that pale colours drain my skin and I look like a shrivelled prune. So, even though I do wear purple (I am old enough to do what I want!) I will say blue. Deep shades of blue. From navy to aqua, to turquoise, to pale to any kind of blue. It likes me too. That is a plus.

Soon my home will change from the oranges of autumn to the warmth of the reds, and the whole house will reflect the cosiness of winter. Red. I like red too. But red doesn't like me. So I will stop at this point before I wander off on more ramblings. I had a red cape once. And red boots with heels. I looked sensational in the 80's back when I was a stick insect and fashion looked great on me. Now we tend towards the blacks to disguise the body which is a disaster zone. Sigh. I loved those red boots. And their heels..................

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Working on projects,books and thankfulness......

Time flies when you are having fun, doesn't it? I am under my Easter ripple and on the last phase of it.It is orange and yellow and green.  Easter? Well, I started it last January and it is in the "to do finish" pile. Do not ask if I have finished all 3 memory quilts for my kids which I started in 2006. That will make me bury my head in shame. No. I haven't finished the stitching.


The WIPs are mounting up.

You know, I have seen my American friends using Red Heart DK yarn for different projects,and when I was shopping with my sister in January, I nearly fell over when I saw a store with the label right there. It is always interesting to see what other countries yarn weight is too. And I have to say that, while I would love to use fancy wool mixes, I cannot begin to afford them, so I use DK a lot.

I also have vivid memories of the day my husband decided to wash his brand new Aran wool jumper, lovingly knitted by his mother-in-law, aka Mum. On a hot machine wash. It emerged 10 inches long and 6 ft wide.

Mother was not impressed.


I just looked at the NaBloPoMo prompt. Where do I read. Hahahahahahaha. In the bath. The answer is short and to the point. How am I supposed to write an entire post re reading in the bath?? Do you need to know how many books I have drowned? How my book club used to know exactly which books were mine by the wavy pages?

If I try to read in the sun - always supposing we actually see some some, of course - I tend to fall asleep. If I sit on the couch under a cosy blanket, I tend to fall asleep. If I sit upright on a hard chair, I find 290 other things to do instead as my attention wanders.If I had any cosy nook, I would be sleeping. In bed? Sleeping. 

Maybe I have sleeping sickness.  

I used to be able to read anywhere. I remember my father getting so angry when he drove us around our Grand Tour of Europe, and I had my nose in a book all the way. I did manage to take in everything at the same time. When I was 12, multi-tasking was obviously a doddle. 

Mind you, I do read on trains, planes etc. Motion doesn't really put me to sleep. However, I have only done 2 hour journeys recently, so who knows. 2 hours and 2 minutes might be the turning point.  My soporific tendencies are becoming well known among my friends. I just wish I could actually sleep in bed at night. Those days seem long past too. 

Haver I put you all to sleep yet? 

I am aware that tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the USA, and that most blogging friends are away from their computers doing what everyone should be doing - having fun preparing feasts with families and friends, and remembering just how much every single one of us has to be thankful for. Every year I say the same thing - I so wish Thanksgiving was an international holiday. Every one of us needs to pause, especially in the run up to Christmas, to think of just what we are thankful for. Small, medium and large things. 

So in the spirit of thankfulness, here is a short list of things I can think of this very minute. And tomorrow, I may just post a list. I want Thanksgiving too.

My faith
My family
My friends
A warm and comfortable home
The Internet and the world I have discovered with so many friends
A creative spirit
Wool, fabric and tools
Hot coffee
Access to transport
Phones to stay in touch
Having enough. 
Enough to share
Glasses, to be able to see
Food I have stored for the winter

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My little old lady and books..........


See? I did tell you that I had been playing with a little old metal lady in a rocking chair. Isn't she cute? Just so you know, she is one of two, and there will be much  more playing with the camera  going on. 

I do love the way small things give me so much delight.

I can't think of anything more PERFECT for my header soon. Diana?? Be warned. There is serious work to be done. 

Another stunning day of sun and blue skies here - these days are worth relishing and storing up in the memory banks for those dark dreary ones sure to show up soon. 

In the meantime, today's NaBloPoMo prompt is about opening my favourite book. Now, I don't know if you are like me, but, although I have definite favourites, I don't re-read them often. I think I am so wary of finding something lost, if you know what I mean. I turn the memories of the joy I found in the book over in my mind, as I hold it in my hands, The all time favourite was A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton-Porter. It was written in 1909, can you believe. My copy belonged to my mother. I just see the picnic basket in my mind. Oh, how I loved reading that book as a teenager. 

I read voraciously back then. And at all times since. Little Women - another favourite. So, so many. 

Every book I attempt to read now, has my undivided attention for a few minutes. I think I have expounded on the reading debacle many times. I can't remember. I have lost the ability to focus. To remember plot lines. So fiction is a real problem. Hence the pile opened at Chapter 3 in my room. Chapters 1  and 2 have disappeared into the ether in my mind, and there seemed no point in starting over. Maybe one day. 

Non-fiction, on the other hand, I can manage, and I have delighted in the reading of so many wonderful books  - a great many Christian books, as well as those on Mindfulness, pain management, and brain training. In fact, my brain should be well and truly rewired by now. 

Maybe I need to re-read those ones. I may have forgotten vital parts. 

Right now, I am in the middle of the second month of reading the new John Ortberg book - "Who is this man?"  This is a book which you need to read, sitting upright on a hard chair, highlighter in hand. There is SO much in it which has fascinated me, and it is totally different from his usual books. Uniquely wonderful. Everyone should read it and learn. He has invested a great deal of time in the research, and it is superb. 

I say the middle of the second month, because I can only manage a page or 2 ( in the bath) (in the middle of the night) before the brain sort of shuts down. The time has nothing to do with it. It is uninterrupted time, and that is why it works for me. The time is to mull over what I have read, training the brain to remember. Hopefully. 

So don't take the ability to motor through 10 books a week for granted like I used to do. Life happens and stuff changes things in the blink of an eye. 

Still, I will take what I can, and this is good, and I am thankful. 

Ironically, I can remember the stories once read. Names, not so much, but the stories, yes. Weird, isn't it?Good grief - I sound as if I have senile dementia, and I do not. Just another type of neurological hiccup.

So, I can pick up those wonderful books jammed into my bookcases - the ones which have crossed oceans with me. The ones I have cherished, whose covers I gently rub my hand over, releasing those long ago scents, and dreams and words and stories.

My books. I love them all. For so many different reasons too. The imparting of knowledge, the tales of fascinating times and places. The sagas, the bravery, the intrepid adventures. 

My mother once told me that I would never be bored if I had a book to read. She was right. One day, I will finally get a Kindle. By then, they will be on their 2,387,836,383th version, I suspect. And maybe then I will find out if what the doctors in Bath suggest, that reading on a Kindle may be a great deal more easy for me, with different light and the absence of a multitude of pages to remind me of how far I still have to go. We will see. I am in no hurry at the moment.

 In the meantime, I have a pile of real books which I can't wait to get to. 

I wonder how many of them will become all time favourites too...... 

Monday, November 19, 2012

How we all blend our traditions together.......

Winter sun is wonderful. It lifts the spirits and cheers the heart and makes me believe the darkness and gloom is being held at bay. Just for me. Blue skies. The only problem is that it then shows every single molecule of dust in the house.

Maybe we can get around that by taking off the glasses.

I have some aprons cut out and will get around to sewing them, but when the sun shines I want to be out there walking. Anything. Just enjoying the light.

I have photos to upload, and will get around to that too. Later.

You know, I have been thinking. Always a dangerous thing around here. Well, I have been thinking about how wonderful it is to have traditions from so many parts of the world poured into a pot and mixed and stirred and out of it all comes a blend which is unique to each of us.

Take me, for instance. I have South African Christmas traditions, British ones, and a huge helping of Swiss/German/European ones as well. Add to that the American influence through the blog world, and we have a really fascinating stew. Robin will discover this too, when she heads home after spending so much time in Europe. These things all combine to add so much to our worlds.

I know my British friends have also adopted some of the things I do or make or decorate the house with and used them in their own homes and families now. It adds a wonderful richness to the season. Small things, maybe, but with huge significance in our lives. And who knows what traditions our children will adopt over the years ahead - my daughter has New Zealand to add to her mix already!

The blend can come simply from 2 families being joined by marriage. And also from the people in the home coming from different counties/states. Each of us brings something with us.

Of course, if your Christmas traditions are of the simplistic/no fuss/ minimal sort, you may be overwhelmed if you happen to marry someone at the opposite end of the spectrum. Geoff was a little dazzled when we first got married. But he learned to enjoy it all too. I will ignore the fact that there was much shaking of the head and rolling of the eyes at times. He learned to love it all too.

I love changing my home around. If you have been here a while, you will know that. And that I got from my sister. European people celebrate the seasons, and all their significance. Northern European people, especially, and while this is not very British at all, things are changing and there is more and more encouragement to make our homes reflect the seasons.

The advent of the Internet, Pinterest, Ikea, and the availability of just about anything in the entire universe, makes this simple. And it also fuels the economy. Or not, in my case. I love looking at things and then coming home and making them from what I have at hand. Remember those little stacks of twigs, tied with raffia and with a pumpkin or leaf wired on top? You can see them here if you click on the second last photo. Those twigs were picked up in a parking area at a shop (by my sister) - all you need is a little ingenuity and voila - you have made a start.

But, thinking fo Christmas, we have some traditions now that spell out the word HOME to my children. The carol service in the Square on Christmas Eve, followed by fireworks. The midnight service. The crib service. The huge tree. The letters to Father Christmas, the sherry and mince pie and carrot for Rudolph, left out. Kenny singing Oh Holy Night as we open our presents on Christmas morning.......

In Europe, most people open presents on Christmas Eve. Weihnacht. For my brother-in-law, Christmas IS Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is normal holiday time. The whole significance of Christmas is Christmas Eve. So when we are in Switzerland, we open one present on Christmas Eve with him, and the rest on Christmas morning. A different tradition. Mince pies. Christmas cake. Stollen. Dreikönistag. Chocolate coins. Swiss Lindt Father Christmas. Custies. Fruit salad. Home-made ice cream. The Queen's speech at 3pm. The Sound of Music. Church bells ringing. Cold winter meets hot summer.

A wonderful mishmash. A blend. This is who we are now. Different from when I was a child. Very different. But bringing with us, everything which makes that mishmash, that glorious essence of MY family. Right now.

I am using Christmas as an example, but there are loads more times and places when the same thing applies. So we celebrate the differences, and glory in the richness that the melting pot delivers. Melting pots - so many of our nations are founded on the idea of melting pots. Or have evolved to be melting pots .

Oy, I do let the words run away with me at times. Now. I need a walk.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Old Ladies made out of metal.......

Hello. I am just popping in to say hello to everyone - I know I am supposed to be blogging every day, but I have not been. Oh well. There is always next year. Instead, I have been doing Other Stuff. Like playing with a metal old lady knitting in her rocking chair. You would not believe what fun I have been having.

 I do believe I have found the ultimate star for my very own header. Now I need to photograph her in all seasons and we will be good to go. There are two of them, actually. One can be me and one my sister. We always did imagine ourselves growing old sitting  in our rocking chairs on her balcony, watching the cows march by, clanking bells ringing out through the Alps. She doesn't knit, but that is not a problem. I don't much either. But you will be meeting "us" very soon. They are just hilarious and absolutely perfect.And once my daughter gets home, she came work on the Header To End All Headers. There is no point in not using a resident graphic designer, now is there??? There. I am so glad you all agree with me, despite the double negative. I can just hear the English teachers among you tut-tutting. I can say what I want to here!.

I was taking some photos this morning and happened to glance at the lens. It was really grubby and I was horrified in case all my photos were disasters. Fortunately the grubbiness must have just happened. Now I cannot for the life of me work out how lenses get dirty when I never touch them, and don't leave my camera on or open. But I cannot begin to tell you what the cleaning cloth looked like. One of those ones for glasses and camera. Do any of you have this problem? I was thinking of condensation, and breeze combining to leave traces Of dirt on it. Maybe. I have no idea. It is now clean. And just the video I was taking is marked, not the stills.

I need to move. I have been a trifle seized up in the past couple of days, which has resulted in me rolling my spine on the floor as in pilates classes. Then having to make a complex plan to rise once again, and can I just say that it is just as well no-one is about to take photos of this process. I may stroll along the river bank with my stick, in fact.  

I will be back.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why is it that I always have a problem finding a post title on Thursday???

Hello from a very foggy part of England. Grey is the word today. Very grey. But Glynis, Jean and I toddled off to aquazumba at an early hour and danced away in the water very happily. Jean and I then went off to tea across the valley. And since then, I have been trying out a floor steam cleaner on the kitchen tiles. This is a hit and miss affair, because it is Jean's, and she got it from a relative, and so help me, it has no instructions, so I put it together and sort of hoped for the best. The colour of the mop part defies description, but please note, my kitchen floors are steam cleaned. My hair, on the other hand, looks as if I have had a tight perm. The produces many thick clouds of steam.

Anyway, I have been tidying and waving a duster around and suddenly it is after 3pm. I thought I would show you what I unearthed to let all the wooden things dry easily, without taking up have the room. I bought this little stand one year from Ikea on the sale and have never used it. I have now found the perfect use for it, and will be hauling it out of my wood cupboard every time I make things in future. Yes, I threaded all that string through them last night, and ended up covered in the stuff. Swallowing it too. but they are done and I am delighted.

I propped Winter up in the window with my robin to show you how it looks. It is not all that shiny....the flash sort of makes it glow.

So, the washing machine is on, the vacuum cleaner is sitting at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for me to summon the energy to drag it up, so I can clean the carpets up there too. I am on a roll people. A roll, I tell you. These rolls do not happen often, and I am fully aware that I will be doing my impression of a dying swan soon. But while it lasts, the house is getting clean (-er).

I will not be doing all the prompts, by the way - some really do not appeal and some have no relevance in my life today, but others are fun. Today's one is to tell you about my favourite pet. Well, I don't have one now. Bailey, our border collie, died a few years ago. Bobby was our Dalmatian/lab in Cape Town, and my sister's Naxos died more recently. So did Sandy, their adopted/shared doggie. But dogs have played a big part in my family. They are so faithful, and always there, and wonderful company too. Mum adores having dogs around.

Bailey was our rescued dog. We came across her running up to cars on a cold winter's evening, obviously distressed, and brought her home. We contacted all the vets and rescue centres, and waited, but no-one came so she stayed. A local farmer and I both thought she was a trained sheep dog, because she seemed to know whistles, but we couldn't find out her particular ones. Whenever we went out in the car, she leapt into the footwell in the front passenger's seat, and sat watching me drive. Oh, those early morning walks - across the fields and around the lakes. She was as happy as Larry. Muddy. And usually found fox droppings to ROLL in. Oh Lord. I would call home and tell someone to have a bucket of water and shampoo waiting at the front door as I drove home with my head out of the window. The stench.

Once she slipped her lead, and raced into the field, and so help me, she herded the huge flock of sheep across the field, into another one and then raced back to me panting with a huge grin on her face. Occasionally, we would find sheep in the road, and I would call the farmer to tell him. He used to say - Let Bailey do it - but I was not altogether certain she wouldn't have herded that sheep all the way home.

Oh boy, the stories.

She was getting very listless, so I took her to the vet for a tonic or something, and he lifted her up, felt her head then her body, and told me she was riddled with cancer, and that he would put her down there and then. I nearly fainted. NO! I said. I had to bring her home, tell the kids and Geoff, who adored her too. And so he gave me some medicine for her and I asked how I would know when her time was up. "You will know" he said. And a week later we knew, and so Bailey died in my arms that day.

She was hilarious. She HATED the postmen, so I had to get a letterbox on the wall outside, and she was also not fond of men in general, so we kept her away from them as the arrived. Actually, she was completely fine if she came into the room and everyone was sitting down. It was just the arriving at the door bit she hated. It made life interesting, I can tell you!

So there you have it. I should find a photo of her.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The making is done for now.....................

You know, people, sometimes I am REALLY slow to work things out. Remember the many many miles of bunting I have been making  vein recent months? Every metre was measured with a metal tape measure which kept falling off the ironing board and irritating me muchly. (Is that a word? If not, I just invented it.)

While I was making the multitude of hearts, I worked out the length of ribbon I needed, and in a moment of sheer inspiration, pinned two pins on the ironing board so measuring was a doddle. And then the "EUREKA" moment occurred - pin two more pins in the metre position. Sorted. Why on earth has it taken me so long to work this out? In an ideal world, I would have a big table with a metre rule stuck on it. I am lacking that big craft table so that is not an option. Pins. Tacks. They will do nicely, thankyouverymuch.

Please ignore the state of the cover, and look at those pins. There on the right. Sigh. After all this time, the light bulb starts flashing......
I finished the hearts this morning. 44 of them. Would you like to see them? Here you go.........

There are a great many hearts, and they look really cute. Well, I think so. Every one is machine embroidered with either Noel, Peace or Joy.


So let's wander back to the kitchen. The "work room". This is what it looks like on a cold autumn evening, in the midst of the making of many things. Yes, I know it is a mess, and the washing is off there in the distance drying in front of an air vent, and there is STUFF all over the place. Today I am starting to pack things away, because I think the making is done for this year, and I just have holes to drill in the wooden things and finish the replacement tags. It just looks like home. Busy. Cosy. Bright. But soon those counters and table tops will be ALL CLEAR.


The tags are varnished. I added a line of "stitches" around some of the white shapes and that really finished them off beautifully.


This is why my kitchen is a mess. But I have had a great deal of fun making them all. Right now those boards are in my lounge, just getting as dry as possible in the fleeting glimpses of the sun.


I forgot to take a photo of the galaxy of stars in piles. That can wait for tomorrow.

As we are in the kitchen right now, on my tour of the messy places, we can think a little about today's prompt. The best meal I have ever cooked.

Well. Once upon a time, I lived in South Africa, the place where I could order a hind quarter of beef, half a lamb, and a dozen fillets as well in one order. Meat was cheap. Here it is very expensive and no-one I know has ever bought a hind quarter of beef before.


Meat was plentiful in those days. I loved entertaining, and while the best meal is difficult to judge, there have certainly been some memorable ones. The one where I melted Mars Bars and served them with ice cream and it glued my guests teeth together....but I have told you about that joyous event before.  Or the one where I was draining the potatoes and they all fell into the washing up water - so I poured boiling water over them after I fished them out and no-one died. But I have told you that before as well. I loved cooking beef fillet. Once I sliced it almost in half lengthways, and stuffed it with cheese, wrapped bacon around it and BBQ-ed it. Divine,. And then there was the dinner where I did another fillet, this time you just pop it in a pan with sauteed onions, brown the meat and then you simply pour a bottle of champagne over it and let it cook a while.

Well. Champagne was also cheap back then. South Africa has a huge wine industry. I have also cooked a freshly caught large fish on the BBQ, on foil. Absolutely delicious. Now what was that fish...... Yellowtail. That was it. Drizzled with wine. Perfect. And remember that time I told you about when my oven died in the middle of the Christmas Eve sit down dinner jacket kind of party with 20+ people waiting forr their turkey? Dad and Geoff running up and down the road to my parents' home clutching turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken stuffed with stuffing? The one where I stacked the microwave with everything else and hit high??


I seem to excel at the memorable event rather than the stunning meal part.

I like impromptu gatherings, you see, with people standing in the kitchen chatting while I make something. Often the most impressive is also the simplest of recipes. Do you find that too? Thank the Good Lord for that. I love brunches,. I love the people, much more than the breathtaking meals.

And I haven't sent anyone home hungry yet!

So it is now night time, and the kitchen is clear, and so is the sewing room. Everything is packed away and the carpets vacuumed. Tools in their right places. The making is done, and the house reverts to normal again. Wait a moment - I think the "normal" for me is the chaos. I like it.

Time to hit the publish button and go and make some toast for supper. See - I can't be bothered to cook tonight. Toast is just fine. The best meal ever when I am tired!