Parade of Roses

The walking path Mufasa and I travel every day gives a new meaning to Parade of Roses. Spring has shifted into summer here; the birds sing hallelujah all day, every day. The last of the neighborhood irises are blooming the palest of violet.

Roses in every color… baby girl pink to hot, hot, hot pink to deep, dark red line the walk. Red-tinged yellow roses with giant heads and buds almost as big as my fist… here are just a couple of the varieties we saw today.

Momentary Random Rant

As soon as school is over and I have a little bit more time, I am starting a new blog. It will be about media — about things people should see but don’t have access to and things we really don’t need to see and are even undermining decency, common sense and democracy.

One of the first posts will be called, “If Americans knew…” It’s not an original title, there are sites with that name. But I’ve just seen a video released in 2004 that I think would unite Americans on the far right and the far left if they knew what was really happening. It should be shown everywhere — in schools and libraries, in town hall meetings and summer film series. It’s about how the federal government has purposefully ignored or rewritten the US Constitution and international law to illegally arrest, deport, investigate and otherwise harass citizens, immigrants, librarians, even scuba diver shop owners, yes you heard right! I have two other videos like it that are even more in-depth, but this is a start. People should know these things if we say we live in a democracy.

Next up will be the deplorable coverage NBC aired and distributed last week. I hate to even rerun the image I have in mind, but I think it’s important. The post will be called, “What were they thinking?!” And I’ve read op-ed piece they ran to justify it. Nonsense.

Adventures nearer home…

Today Mufasa and I slept late. The bells from the neighborhood church woke me up — after mass. It was late. I was thinking I needed to get out of the house — I’ve been sitting around here by myself too long. I called my friend Alesia to see what she was up to. She was going hiking with a Ticinese friend. Perfect. She came over and off we went.

Her friend Lisa(Leeeeeza)’s family has been in Carona for at least three generations. Carona is a small village in the mountains above Lugano. This was sounding promising. We drove to Lisa’s house with Mufasa in the back.
I forgot my camera, so all these pictures are pilfered from other sites, but Carona is too cute — a perfect old Italian village with streets so narrow one car barely eeks through.

We hiked pretty intensely for three hours — all the way around the mountain, I think… through forests and the San Grato botanical garden, where a benefactor had imported azaleas enough to cover an entire hillside. It was all in bloom. Magnificent.

Mufasa’s exhausted, but Alesia and I were hungry, so we asked Lisa where we should eat afterward. Oh. My. Goodness. We sat in an old walled garden and were served the best asparagus lasagna you could ever imagine — no, you can’t imagine this… fine, thin sheets of handmade pasta liberally coated in creamy, creamy, creamy bechamel sauce with fresh, tender asparagus in between the layers and a crusty topping of toasted parmesan cheese. We ooohed and aaahed while we ate. Alesia noted that it’s Asparagus Month in the shops. I like asparagus month.

Reading the signs…

There’s a scene in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun when Diane Lane has walked into the house, Bramasole, and said she’ll buy it. She hasn’t even looked around in it and the old Italian lady owner is ambivalent about selling. The owner is convinced though, when a pigeon poops on Diane Lane’s head right in the middle of the living room. “Un Segno!” she cries, “A sign!”

I’ve been thinking about signs lately but I don’t believe in that kind, the kind from above, instead I’ve been thinking about road signs. In Basel last Friday I couldn’t read the French and German instructions quickly enough and ended up in short-term parking instead of long-term. Costly error.

I don’t know what a lot of the highway signs mean here, which is occasionally a problem when I’m going over 100 km/hr. This sign near my house, though, is pretty clear in any language…

I can hear my Mom now saying, “How do those frogs know to cross the road between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.??”

Adventures in castles

Ooooooh, I have been on big adventures places where you may want to go. Friday night after I landed in London we went out and I had steak and Guinness and mushroom pie, which is exactly what you should eat when you’ve just landed in London. It looked better than this in person and was like a rich beef stew topped with an ample amount of puff pastry… we were in Brown’s on Canary Wharf. Very hip and happening.

Saturday some friends got married near Lingfield, south of London. The gang all stayed in the Tudor Village at Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boelyn. S and I checked in Saturday mid-day before the wedding. That’s him taking photos. A swan had a nest near where he’s shooting there. She swam gracefully and slowly, but with her wings puffed out, straight toward him because he’d apparently gotten too close…

The ceremony was in a different castle — Chiddingstone. He was the photographer and I the vocalist at the wedding. It was a great community celebrating a strong union… I forget how much singing is just natural self-expression for me. I learned Etta James’ “At Last” for this ceremony and I have to admit even I thought, about halfway through, “This is going very well.” I should do it far more often.

Sunday the gang had a full English breakfast and then headed out to the Hever Castle gardens. We rowed a 6-person boat on the lake and had cappuccinos and ice cream and wandered. Later we went to a perfect country pub, but I don’t have photos of that…
Throughout the weekend, Stefan and I kept turning to each other saying, “We have a really good life.” I am lucky he’s shared his huge circle of friends with me. I hope big, sunny, friend-filled adventures like this for you, too. Click on any of the photos to see them larger.

Rules and Chocolate, or Bunnies and Chickens and Eggs… Oh My!

I sort-of chickened out, so to speak, on the photos you really need to fully comprehend this post…

I am fascinated by the Easter candy here — and not just because it’s all made of Swiss chocolate. There are tiny little Giandor dark chocolate covered bunnies, and the filled eggs we get at home but finer. Not so surprising except how do they get them so perfect that little?

But then there are other things… I picked up something the other day I thought was a hollow dark choclate baby chick but I couldn’t tell which way was up on the thing. I turned it and turned it and kept peering at it in my hand. Then I read the package and it said (in German, French and Italian, of course), “Rabbit Ears” It was just the ears. Of the rabbit. Chocolate. Funny.

I was walking down to the lake last week and saw in a bakery window a perfect tiny brown chocolate frying pan with a white chocolate fried egg complete with golden food colored center.

I thought I’d take a few photos in the special grocery store Easter candy section so I could share all this with you, but I wasn’t expecting my flash to go off and it was weird. I was worried I’d get in trouble or something. The Swiss have so many rules. You can click on the photo collage above to better see just a small sampling of candy. See the ducks in white and milk chocolate?

(A side note: a couple of weeks ago I washed my car in the gas station car wash by school — you pull your car into the bay, insert a coin, grab the wand and wash just like at home. People kept staring at me. After a few people gawking, I knew I wasn’t imagining it. But why were they staring? I just read that there’s a law against washing one’s car on Sunday. Who knew? Crazy rules here. You can’t run any water, including flushing the toilet, after 10:30 p.m. Strange.)

Anyway, there are big Easter doings in town these few days. I spent yesterday evening and tonight wandering amongst stalls of local honey and other foodstuff, baked goods, imported scarves and batiks, and saw these folks singing both days. (Click on it to see them better.) It was downright hot today I had cioccolato gelato from my favorite lakeside stand while they did their little show. The other thing in the photo is a special cake they eat at Easter here… I toast it… (really I fry slices in butter for breakfast, which I think was my Mother’s idea with panettone and since it was Mom’s idea that makes it somehow ok, right?). This cake is called a Colomba and is like panettone but in the shape of a cross and with a yummy sweet topping. It usually has candied orange chunks inside. Yum. Happy spring holiday to you!

Second Blogiversary

It’s the second birthday of this blog. I was looking back through all the posts and photos of the year picking favorites, deciding which to link to, and I thought, “Is it possible it was just two years ago I was sitting in my concrete block office in Shoup Hall at the University of Idaho writing my first blog post?” I thought about it for a second and honestly went straight to, “Could that be?”

I had to do the math — “April 2005,” “April 2007″… “Yep. Two years.” — before I comprehended it. So much has happened in this year alone:

Sigtuna, Sweden and Wiesbaden and Brighton and Cortina d’Ampezzo; Mykonos and Aspen and Bad Gastein. The opera in Zurich, espresso in St Mark’s with a man who loves me and hot dates in Colorado with a couple who didn’t get the chance! (tee hee) Amsterdam and London and Munich and Stuttgart. Amherst and Paris and I’d just gotten back from New Orleans at the last blogiversary.

And this doeesn’t even begin to touch on the lessons in abundance learned and experienced through Travels with Mother, lessons in love life development learned through The Game, or all the great people I’ve met travelling all over like this.

Whew! The funny thing is, you’d be amazed how much time I spend alone at home. It’s still among my favorite places to be and is just waiting for you to come visit. Walking in the neighborhood inspires me. And Spring is bustin’ out all over!
Finally, I’m about the least likely person I know to pick favorites (despite this recent post — no favorite movie, color, book…none of that), but I have favorite months of posts. Hands down this year: summer took the cake. Love the photos of my people and home, meeting Stefan in London, just being for months. It was wonderful!

What are your favorites these days… things to do, places you’ve been, daily tasks you do, books, movies… I haven’t read a good book or seen a good movie in eons! (I saw Memoirs of a Geisha on Stefan’s computer and liked it (not as much as the book, though), but we don’t really have movies in English here, I think… so I don’t see many movies at all any more) Would love to know…

Things that have romance…

I was surfing my friends’ blogs this morning and clicked into Blueberry Pie. She is not my friend, but an acquaintance of a friend. The point is, on her blog she mentioned the J. Peterman catalog. I have not thought about the J. Peterman catalog in years. There was that one time when I realized that the character on Seinfeld worked there, but before that, starting fifteen years ago (Has it been that long, R?) J. Peterman meant only one thing to me… and only one of you knows what it is.

It’s funny how a mention or a smell or even an idea comes along in normal, day-to-day life and then “Bam!” you’re fifteen years away in your head, enjoying some long-since-lost friend’s company in a house you rented for less than you pay for dog food now. I’m using the second person pronoun very loosely here, of course.

Anyway, on the J. Peterman home page there’s this quote:

“People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them.”

What great writing prompts! “Things that have romance…” or “A factual romance…” or “Fifteen years ago…” or “____________ takes me back to…”

Gratitude at work?

I got just this one photo snapped on our mid-day walk today before the batteries died. Can you see that the tree is busting out all over with white and light green shoots and blossoms? The weather rushes from rain to sunshine… back and forth, back and forth, moment to moment, morning to afternoon and on.

I need feedback on what I really want to write about today. Ask your friends, comment, send e-mails, whatever. Especially if you or anyone you know works in a corporate setting, but Mema you can even see this with the staff at Bishop’s Glen, I bet.

Here’s the question: How have you seen, experienced or expressed gratitude at work? What form did it take? And then what difference did it make? What were the results?

I’m giving a free lunchtime talk in Basel next Friday about Gratitude and most of the people will want to know how and why to apply it at work. In fact, maybe you could start the conversation in your workplace… how is gratitude expressed and received (or is there a real lack of gratitude and what are the consequences)?

I’ll share some examples of my own in the coming days, but would love to hear your stories! Please invite others to comment, too! A wide variety of industries from medicine to finance to education and beyond will be represented there, plus it might be interesting to see the patterns…

Thanks for playing!

Door #3,456,768

It’s time for new doors again, new openings for actions, pathways to pursue. It always seems scary on the precipice and I am reminded of these two posts I’ve put down here before. Both have great poems, too!

April 23, 2005: You Will Go Through this Door

June 4, 2006: New Openings
It’s a full moon and so I’ll put the same poem here again. It is worth remembering…

Praise our choices, sisters, for each doorway
open to us was taken by squads of fighting
women who paid years of trouble and struggle,
who paid their wombs, their sleep, their lives
that we might walk through these gates upright.
Doorways are sacred to women for we
are the doorways of life and we must choose
what comes in and what goes out. Freedom
is our real abundance.
– Marge Piercy, The Moon is Always Female

You know, life is not like that 1970s game show where contestants got to choose what was behind Door Number 1, 2 or 3 and then go home, thank you very much, end of game. In life there are just more doors, one after the other. Sometimes I am tired. I think maybe I should pick a door and the show should end. Stefan reminded me the other night, “Just. Keep. Going.”

Fine advice, that. Fortunately for me, all the options are good.