Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010 – Pine cones

I’ve never really given much thought to pines cones; certainly not in the “transcendental”, meaning of life sort of way. I not even entirely sure what a pine cone “does”. Sure they could be construed as interesting looking. They occasional are used as an accoutrement to Christmas decorations. Even sometimes used as kindling for starting a fire, but as a general rule I tend to think of them as being fairly innocuous. That is of course until we moved to Switzerland. Now I see them for what they truly are, dangerous implements of pain, suffering, and possibly even death. At a minimum some sever bruising and maybe a scrap or two.

How can I cast such disparaging comments on the poor little pine cone? Well let me tell you, they “must” be evil. What else, except food, would make Jesse lunge like a crazed golden retriever every time she sees one? There we are walking along, quietly (fine not quietly) minding our own business when suddenly Jesse will launch herself at the evil pinecone in the street. She he heedless to the fact that she might injure whomever is in her path or to the fact that my arm is not made of bungee cords and won’t “just go back to the way it was before.” No she is single minded in her quest to kill, maim, eat the pine cones. Mostly I think she just wants to carry the pine cone around. Today, was particularly trying. Not because she was in full pine cone mode. I’ve come to expect that, but because at one point on our walk we hit the mother lode of pine cones. Spread all over the street. I swear I could smell her brain burning unable to make a decision. “I want THAT pine cone… lunge… no THAT one… lunge…. No wait THAT one… lunge….” Here’s to hoping she doesn’t figure out that she can fit more than one pine cone in her mouth at a time. That and here’s to hoping that in the winter, with the snow and ice… that the pine cones are well buried.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27, 2010 - Nightmares

I’m on day 3 (actually night 3) of a recurring nightmare. Yes, just a regular strange nightmare and not a night terror. I will count my blessings, despite the fact that I am still tired. The dream is very vivid. Some man is trying to kill me. I’m trying to get away from this guy, and the preceding events are very fuzzy, I end up in a small room with L and now we are both trying to get away from this guy. The thing is, there isn’t anywhere to go, we’re trapped in this room and the guy has managed to somehow get his arm through a gap in the door so he’s thrashing his arm back and forth at us/me and I keep trying to grab the knife away from him. (Why the heck I would do that is beyond me). There really isn’t much space in the room so he’s able to reach me with the knife and keeps hacking away at my right wrist. Now this is the weird part. Apparently the knife is extremely dull because he’s not cutting me but I can “feel” the blunt metal against my arm/wrist in that same motion you might make when cutting a loaf of bread. It’s about here when I wake up and then I have to force myself to stay awake for awhile or else I fall back into the dream. Oh and when I wake, my arm still feels like someone has been striking it with a blunt object. Someone tell me why I can’t dream of puppies?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26, 2010 - German Lessons Part 4

Well I was going to tell you about my German class this morning, but it’s the same old stuff.  I want to smack Peter who is now having entire conversations with the teacher in German using words we haven’t learned yet. Damn him. If that weren’t bad enough I came to the realization that I am at least 20 … That’s right TWENTY years older than both Peter and Cathy. So in some small way I get to say – their brains are younger and more nimble than mine. Then I think.. ha ha .. you laugh now at the slow American, but just wait twenty years from now you’ll be wondering what happened to that young nimble brain of yours and I won’t even remember you. Ok the reality is, I won’t remember Peter’s name or face even a month from now.

Today in class, I know I wasn’t going to tell you this but I’m on a roll, we’re writing down all of the words we remember for what we can eat, drink, jobs, states (cities/towns) and countries.

Peter is writing furiously, because you know, he’s a man and this is obviously a contest. I’m frozen on names of food… hell skip it, go to drinks. Ah ha! Tea, koffee, wasser, Ok I remember the word for water. YEAH… um… um.. ok fine skip to cities and towns… ZURICH, um… um… Berlin? New York… Hell, Countries.. Duetschland… um um… ugh.

Fantastic, I can go to Germany and order water. I am so screwed. Oh wait.. chocolate seems to be pretty universal. Awesome, I can drink water and eat chocolate and randomly say Duetschland. Any woman can survive on that.  BTW is it just me, or does anyone else out there think that it's weird that Germany is called Duetschland, shouldn't Holland be called Duestschland?

I honestly think that I remember more than I appear to, it’s just that the pressure to perform in class shuts down all brain functions. I do however think that I look slightly less inept than I have in the past. Ultimately I think I have to focus on memorization and getting people to speak more slowly.
Oh on another note, the house phone just rang and a woman speaking Swiss German asked for L. I explained who I was and asked if they spoke English. They do. Then I asked if I could take a message. Turns out that they want to do a survey about the car we are leasing, except that they are not allowed to do the survey in English so she is cancelling the follow-up call. Now I find this both amusing and beneficial. (a) We can’t speak the language “yet” so we get to skip these generally annoying calls and (b) you speak English beautifully, but aren’t allowed to translate the questions so we can respond to them. Obviously, it’s not that important.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010 - Blood Red

Today I would normally get up and go to the gym.  Well maybe get up, walk the dogs, loaf a bit, then I would go to the gym.  Today, however, I did not go to the gym.  I was going to, but then I decided that maybe it was a little too risky.  What pray tell am I talking about?  Well I'm getting to it.

You see, yesterday I didn't have German class (it was a working holiday) so I decided I would go to the gym, and I did.  I even remembered my little notepad so I could record my workout and track my progress.  I was actually quite pleased with myself.  I got to the gym, changed, threw my ipod on and hopped onto the treadmill to warm up.  I ran for 15 mins.  It's like starting completely over and I want to get back to the point where I can run 3 miles (if I had to).  I really dispise running, but it allows me to eat cookies.  Anyway, I finish my run and I wander over to the machine that will let me do some chest presses.  I get everything adjusted, sit down.  Lean over to set the weight.  When I get that feeling like your nose is running.... but it's not.  (Look away if you have queesy stomaches).  Damn it all, blood... blood on my shoe, blood on the floor.  Hell.  Thank goodness I have a towel handy.  I grab that try and stop the blood even if only for a moment so I can clean up the spot on the floor.  How the hell do I clean up the spot on the floor?  That requires I release the towel from my nose AND bend over.  Oye.  I manage it and only sacrifice a little more red on my shoe.  Now I'm still sitting at the machine, head tilted back, purple towel turning red trying to figure out how I get up an at least get to the locker room without making a scene.  Here's my problem or problems.  I was completely caught off gaurd by this nose bleed.  I tend to get them in the winter so I didn't have any nasal spray decongestant on me.  The sinus spray will stop a nose bleed pretty quickly and it's the only thing I have found that works for me; without me looking like I am starring in Monty Python's Film "The Holy Grail" or making it look like a crime scene.  Disgusting I know but this is my life.  I'm also mortified, because when this is happening I can't think of something more embarrassing.  (When I'm not in the middle of it I can think of LOT's of things that are more embarrassing - like a nose bleed when a spider lands on me and I do my best interpretive Tourrette's dance).  Anyway, I managed to get up, and walk with as much dignity as possible across the gym with a towel stuck to my face.  Hopefully I had that look of ... "no no my face is just really sweaty, don't mind me" as I crossed the room.   I made it to the locker room and praise the lord it's empty.  Um, crap, no tissue or toilet paper.  What the heck in for a penny in for a pound, the towel already has blood on it.  I tilt my head back, wait 10 mins and a miracle it seems to have stopped for the moment.  I get myself changed and start the trek home.  I managed to get all the way home without any additional episodes and as I sit here typing this I have a bottle of nasal spray handy.

So today when I got up I considered going to the gym, but I thought maybe I should give my nose and my towel a break.  Red really is my favorite color but I don't see a need to add red to everything I wear.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24, 2010 – Weekend Updates and Other Randomness

Saturday I was on my own so I decided to head into the city and wander around for a short while. I pretty much just decided to get off the train and wander.

Everywhere I see M&M’s for sale. Why would I buy peanut M&M’s in Switzerland? Ok fine I would buy them in an act of desperate chocolate need but Saturday I spotted this:

I also spotted a GIANT flea market, which tells me that there is junk for sale everywhere:

Oh and this guy, who I am not sure if he came dressed to the flea market this way or if he assembled this ensemble while at the flea market.

I also discovered that I could buy a license plate for my car.

Which makes me wonder if the US has even so far as to outsource chop shops? Are there no jobs that are sacred?

Then on my way home I spotted this….

And this….

And wondered who would win a fight between the alligator and the giant frog. Somehow I’m betting the frog.

Finally there was this:

Which I think translates to “if you want your garden halted call Piacquadio.”  I have no idea who you call if you want your garden to grow.  Maybe "Mary Mary quite contrary..."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 22, 2010 - Spiders and Tourette's

So today is Saturday and it was a gorgeous day; one that makes up for all the rain and snails. As a part of my day, regardless of what else I have planned I take the dogs for an extended walk so they can burn off some energy. This usually entails me walking through the little park, up and around to “Zu Forest” or maybe that’s Zum Forest… whatever, you know what I mean. I head to the woods with the gravel paths that eventually run behind the apartment and up the 100 steps from hell. Thus far I have done this particular walk almost every day since I have been here. You would think it would be a relatively uneventful thing. Ahhh No.

We’re walking down the somewhat steep grade (can it be steep when you are going downhill?), and there are a couple of women pushing those 3 wheeled strollers towards us. As a general rule when approaching people I try to rein the dogs in. I don’t want to frighten anyone should Jess decide now is the perfect time to lunge at someone and lick them to death. Now I know she’s just desperate for attention, since we tend to keep her looked in the bathroom alone, by herself, no food, no water, and definitely no attention, as much as possible. However, I can’t count on other people understanding that, and I have visions of her knocking people down. Like me, but I digress.

I see the women but then I hear something from behind us, it’s two mountain bikers. So I politely move to the edge of the path, make the dogs sit, and wait for them to pass. Except, I feel something tingly, maybe a little itchy on my bare arm. I look down and there is a spider, a big spider, the size of a quarter (fine a nickel which is big enough) on my arm. Did I mention my bare arm? So I did what any rational human being would do. I jumped into the air, thrashed about, squealed, knocked the magnetic clip-on sunglasses off my glasses and somehow managed to fling the spider off. Granted its possible the spider leapt off in a desperate attempt to get away from the crazy woman. Oh, remember the mountain bikers I so graciously moved out of the way for? At the same moment I am thrashing about (and saying not so polite panicked words… diddale dad burnit and such) they are riding next to me. I did notice that they managed not to crash as I startled them with my flailing. They just looked at me like I was insane. I would have tried to explain what happened but we haven’t covered “A big freaking spider landed on me” in German class yet and I didn’t think saying “Tourette’s” would have translated either.
So now I am down a pair of sunglasses (my only pair) still feeling a bit itchy and wondering if I can buy mosquito netting because I’m not sure I will be walking that path again without full body armor/protective spider gear.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010 – Dog Walking

Sometimes also known as “Dragged by the Dog…
This morning the cleaning lady is here and since it’s not raining I decided that I would take the opportunity to get the dogs out of the house. We went for a 90 min hike in the woods behind us. Now the nice thing about the woods is that the paths are all cleared and have gravel laid down so it’s not like “hiking” hiking. There is also a stream that runs along a series of the paths. So today I decided we should head towards the section of the path that I got lost on the 2nd week we were here, but this time I at least know that if I turn around I’ll be heading in the correct direction.

Now I have one primary goal. Wear the dogs out. About 20 mins into the hike Jesse stops pulling me, which is pretty standard for her. I think a switch finally goes off that say “Oh, ok she’s not going to drag me home right away.” That or she realizes she’s not going to get to escape “today”, she might as well slow down a bit. Ernie on the other hand is so excited about being on a walk that he doesn’t pull. I sometime wonder if he thinks pulling will just make the walk end faster. The fun part comes about an hour into the walk, I’m starting to see their tongues hanging out. About that same time, I find a spot on the river that I can get close to the water and let them get a drink. You can see where this is going can’t you? Ernie has never been “in” the water except in the tub, or if you count the time he stuck his head into my Dad’s water garden. Does he get a drink of water? No… he quickly wades into the river up to his belly and then turns around and looks at me. I swear he had this momentary look that was just bordering on “Hmmmm… this might be FUN.” Then he starts leaping around, as much as the leash will let him, stuffs his face in the water. Stops… looks at me like “You aren’t going to yell right??” I’m too busy laughing and trying to end up in the river with him. So he starts bouncing around some more. At that moment Jesse I think Jesse clued in that she is a Retriever and supposed to like water – so she wades in as well. Now I have two wet but very happy dogs on my hands. I swear I actually considered for a split second taking Ernie off the leash so he could play some more but I was worried that (a) He would disappear or (b) irrationally so, that he might get pulled down stream. Jesse – she’d have taken off so there is no way I even considered it for a moment with her, and the reality is, if I took Ernie off leash I suspect the biggest thing that would have happened is he’d have gotten more wet and possibly muddy.

Needless to say I now have two zonked out dogs in the office. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20, 2010 - Today

I met Colette and we went “jogging”. Well we never really “jogged” but we walked up a very big steep hill to a winery/farm. Walked through that and then ended up at the trails where I sometimes walk the dogs. I considered jogging on the flat section (singular) but I was breathing so hard from the walk up the hill that I thought I’d give my heart rate a moment to come down a beat or two. Now you’d think the downhill would be easier, and it sort of is, except that it’s as steep on the downhill as it was on the up, so until I master my “tuck and roll” it takes some effort to not wildly flail back down the hill. I actually felt pretty good about the entire adventure and I learned how to get to a new section of the town. Oh, and she pointed out the “rifle/gun” club. I think L had been warned that every town had one. The warning is less about the gun club and more about people shooting said guns and using caution where we walked in the woods. Somehow I’d like to believe that I would recognize the sound of a gunshot but lord knows that could be too late if we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. “What was that noi…. Ouch… I’ve been shot.” Really, not on my list of things to do; but L had suggested that maybe I could rent a gun and go shooting. I originally dismissed that idea, but who knows I’ve been known to change my mind. For the moment however, I think I have quite enough on my plate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010 - Ich gehe zu machen sein ein guter Tag für mich

Translated as closely to "I'm going to make this a good day for myself"

I am so proud.  Yesterday I went to the grocery store and ordered 4 piece of chicken, at least I think I said four.  I may have said five.  No matter that's what freezers are for; and today I continued my German Lessons.  Oh what a triumph.  Now not only can I give you the incorrect answer when you ask me what 2 + 2 is in German, but I can also tell you the incorrect time.  It's a proud proud moment in CAB world.  We did have the nice teacher again today.  Not to say that the other one isn't nice but this one is a better teacher.  That and when I don't have any idea what she said to me she acts it out.  For example, today she asked one of students if they liked milk from the cow.  Yes I breathed a sigh of relief that question was not directed at me.   Cathy didn't understand so the teacher "moo'd".  Really, you have to like a teacher who although instructed not to speak english to us, can make animal sounds with the best of them.

I also learned that when someone in Switzerland says it's 7:30 what that means is... its 30 mins until 7 and therefore it's 6:30.  The 1st thing I did when I got home was take off my watch so if anyone should ask me what time it is I can simply shrug my shoulders.  Although, it just occurred to me I could just point.

We also learned how to order food in a restaurant.  That is of course if the menu is limited to, Tomato Salad, Soup, Orange Juice, and Fish Fillet.  Oh and Cake.  We learned how to say cake.  Which personally is all I need to know how to say when we go to a restaurant.  "Hello, what would you like as an appitizer?"  Ummmm CAKE.  Which actually goes quite well with the brownie I had for breakfast yesterday morning.

Originally, I had set a goal for myself of being able to carry on a simple conversation at the end of these German classes.  As of today I've revised that goal to being able to say: "I'm sorry, I don't speak German.  Forgive me I tried to learn it."  It reminds me of the time I told a date that "You have to go now, I'm tired" and when he looked at me a bit confused I followed that up with "no really, you have to go."   After that episode my sister made me practice:  "I had a very lovely evening, thank you very much.  Unfortunately, I'm a bit tired and need to call it a night."  She had me say it until it rolled off my tongue effortlessly.

"Es tut mir leid, ich spreche kein Deutsch. Vergib mir, ich versuchte, es zu lernen"
"Es tut mir leid, ich spreche kein Deutsch. Vergib mir, ich versuchte, es zu lernen"

Hmmmm.  maybe I should just shorten that to: "Ich spreche kein Deutsch."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18, 2010

I'm feeling pretty good today.  I took the train to the gym this morning and worked out for an hour.  I wore my heart rate monitor.  I'm pretty sure that it's not quite working as intended.  That or on several occassions I died.  It said my average heart rate was 236 bpm.  Now I KNOW for a fact that is not possibe.  Sure I have pushed my heart rate up to 186 bpm, but somehow I suspect that my heart would explode at the other level.  Or that I would at least feel it drumming away in my chest.  Then it would register 0 bpm.  Again, I'm fairly certain I would know if I had no pulse.  Well, maybe not, but it's unlikely that I would be typing this if my heart stopped.  I have one trick left up my sleeve and that is to hit the "reset" button on the watch.  If that doesn't work, my love may need to buy me a new heart rate monitor as an early valentines day present.

Yesterday I met this woman "Colette" who is a member of the Web based Expaits group I joined.  We're going to try to start running together at least one day a week.  That will help, because I really dislike running but it gives me an extra days workout and let's me eat an occassional brownie.  Really desserts are the only reason to workout/run.

That's it, nothing exciting today.

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17, 2010 – German Lessons – Part 3… Improvement

Slight as it might be, I felt that today I showed some improvement; albeit that improvement might only have been managing not to appear as if I have been pithed.
I went into class today having done both my homework and having read through the next lesson several times. At least this way when the teacher began class things might sound somewhat familiar.

Upon y arrival Peter and I found that a new woman had joined the class. You all know my 1st reaction was to throw a little imaginary pump fist into the air and do the happy dance. “Woo hoo, someone who has missed the 1st two days of classes. I won’t be the only one lost.” Imaginary twirl, and a little imaginary moon walk. (lord knows if they weren’t imaginary someone might lose and eye).

My glee is short lived. “Cathy” who literally has not taken any German prior to toady is apparently a very quick study. So now I have Peter, who is speaking in freaking German paragraphs and this woman who is saying “wow this is difficult” and then asking the teacher to teach her how to sat “This is difficult.” Me? Last week I say this is difficult and ask the teacher how to say “shit” in German.

So ½ way through class we have learned out numbers 1 – 20. My sister can guess what is coming. Now to test our skills… MATHEMATICS (said with an accent is sounds like MataMatics). The teacher puts a bunch of simple math problems on the board which we have to read in German and Answer. Fan-freaking-tastic. Did I mention how long it took me to learn how to make change?

1+3=? Ok I can do this


27/?=15 Fine, I made up, but really MATH and GERMAN in the same damn day?

Then to make it really fun the teacher decides to have a contest. Whoever can answer the question the fastest and correctly gets a point. Whoever gets the most points WINS. Yeah!

I’m not sure what we win, but about ¼ through this little competition I was imagining smashing Peter and Cathy’s faces into the desk. As they giggled and rattled of answers. I honestly think I would have gotten an answer or two correct if I hadn’t felt like someone shot my tongue full of Novocain. My brain, works and it sends answers to my mouth but my tongue takes a moment to form these foreign words. At one point the teacher says … “Oh, CAB… null points???” “Peter zehn points” “Cathy zehn” I think at this point the teacher realized… maybe this game wasn’t a good idea, maybe she read my mind as I imagined a babbling brook and grabbing her by the back of the head and “BLAM”… pushing her head into the brook and “BLAM” doing it again.

Maybe next time I’ll ask “How do you say “BLAM” in German?” “What?” “ Oh why do I want to say that? No particular reason…”

May 17, 2010 - Brownies & The Rhine Falls

So what would you like to know?  That we went to see the Rhine Falls yesterday?  Or that I successfully made a batch of brownies?
That's what I thought.  Brownies:
I bought this brownie mix and was surprised to find it contained this cardboard doohicky that I had to assemble and then bake the brownies in, plus they gave me a bag of chopped pecans which was also unexpected.  At first I found this odd, but I've decided it was pretty cool and one less thing for cleanup.

Ready for the oven (L brought home some small chocolate waffers so I threw them in the mix as well)

Freshly out of the oven

I have to admit that they came out pretty darned good and that I think the farmers market lady may have lost a customer.

We also took a train ride to see the Rhine Falls.  I have to admit that the entire time we were at the falls I was thinking about L's niece "A" and how she might enjoy these rapids.  "A" is a white water rafting guide, although I have to think that the last bit of these might just be more than someone would want to rapid down.

I think this is my favorite picture

I have no idea if this bird is fishing for "fish" or waiting for someone to come over the falls

The Castle (I've noticed there are alot of castles in Switzerland)

There is a water wheel at the top of this pic

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 14, 2010

I’d say it was time to build an ark, but despite the fact that it has rained rather consistently, there has been a small blessing that it’s not poured. The weather has been more like a constant drizzle with showers at night, but then I am asleep and refusing to take the dogs outside so I don’t care if it rains in the middle of the night. In fact that is the preferred time for rain.

Today was the farmer’s market and I am extremely sorry to report that the woman that sells brownies… did not have any today. How can she have shown up at the market to sell her wares when she was missing the only thing I wanted?

On a brighter note, I found brownie mix in the Coop today. I believe that I will be making an attempt at brownies on Sunday. Why Sunday? I am missing Sunday dinner at my Mom & Dad’s with the family. We usually play pinochle. L likes to pretend that she doesn’t know what she is doing when she plays, but she is that quiet sneaky that somehow lands on the winning team rather frequently. Then we have dinner and invariably there is dessert. So this Sunday I am going to make dessert.

Did I tell you that I posted a not on an English speaking expats website saying I was looking for someone to go jogging with. I did, and I got a response from a woman who lives in the center of town. We haven’t been able to coordinate a time to meet because I have German class Mon & Wed and she has Russian class Tues & Thurs. I know, just the thought of a Russian class makes me feel all that much better about only taking German. Besides our schedules’ the rain has not helped in the coordination, but we are going to meet for coffee Monday before I head to class to see if we can coordinate something. Keep your fingers crossed, I would like to have someone to run with because it will force me to get out without the dogs and move. It will also create an opportunity for me to be social with someone other than the dogs. Don’t get me wrong the dogs are great, but my ability to form a coherent thought is starting to diminish. At least one that doesn’t involve the words: “Want to go for a walk?” “Sit” “Stay” “No!” “DOWN” “Nnnnnnooooo nooooo nooooo don’t eat that… ick”

I also bought a little spiral bound notebook to track my weight and work outs. My effort to keep me on track. I’m actually excited to start wearing my heart rate monitor again. There is something just amusing/fun about knowing how many calories I burn. Sure the other end of that would require that I track how many calories I consume, but where’s the fun in that?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 13, 2010 - Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

I wish I had something exciting to report, but I'm stuck with the weather.  Rain... again... for days...

Oh the good news with all this rain?  I discovered somethinng even more disgusting than snails and now I have to admit that in comparison snails ARE cute.  Oye, leave it to Murphy to show me the error of my ways.  We were walking the dogs the other night and I spotted this HUGE slug like thing.  When I say HUGE I am not exaggerating.  It was at least the length of my hand.  Disgusting.  I assumed it was the Mother of all slugs and I am cringing right now as I write this.  Then I just put it off to some horrible abberration but then I spotted another one.  I swear there is a plot to change my night terrors from giant spiders to slimy creepy crawly things.  I almost think the slimy things would be worse.

Speaking of night terrors, I'm doing pretty well on that front.  A few minor episodes but no leaping from the bed and screaming.  Certainly no launching myself off the bed... yet ;)

Here's to hoping that the weather clears up enough this weekend that we can have a new excursion to report on (one that hopefully involves a bike ride sans injury)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May 12, 2010 - German Lessons Day 2 a.k.a Let the Waterboarding Continue

First, let me say that after the 1st class I was determined to do my homework so that I would be prepared for this class and not look foolish.  That is some irony in that thought.

I practiced “Guten Tag, Ich Heisse CAB. Wie geht es Ihnen?” Until it rolled off my tongue with ease. Well maybe not ease, but I knew I could say it without butchering it.

I get to class and the bell rings… in walks a new teacher. Well ok, we knew this was a possibility. She looks like she’s nice. Wait? What’s she rattling off? Huh? Ok great now she’s rattling off something similar and it’s a question directed at me.

Why the hell can’t you ask PETER first?

I give her my best blank stare (which I seem to be perfecting in this class). Ugh. So she slows down and at least I sort of assume she is asking me what I do for a living. Ummmm, oh wait just LIE, there’s a picture with a guy and it says: “Paul Krüger ist IT-Manager” That’s it I’m freaking Paul Kruger close enough! So I say “ich ist IT-Manager.” She looks at me quizzically and asks for what company….. arggghhhhhh stop it! So I tell her Data Integrity Solutions.

It’s like going off a cliff. Now she wants me to SPELL IT in GERMAN, I’m not sure I can spell it correctly in English. We didn’t cover the alphabet on Monday. What the hell, was this part of the homework?  I give her the blank stare again and she decides to have mercy for a moment and asks Peter what he does for a living. Sure ask him AFTER I do all the hard parts of looking like an idiot. Oh and of course, he’s the same freaking profession as her. How the hell did he know “Lehrerin” means teacher. Really I did the damn home work.

Ok she’s taking a step back and running through the alphabet. I can do this… What the hell is wrong with me? This was my idea to take these classes. All I’m hearing when she talks is this giant whooshing sound. I’m pretty sure I could volunteer for a scientific study. They could hook me up to one of the EEG things to monitor my brain waves during class: Flat line.

If you can believe it, things only go downhill from here. We quickly move onto mine, yours, his and hers. Except that I don’t understand that concept – somehow I am thinking we are reviewing: Mine, Yours, She and Him. Which when you think about it for a whopping 30 seconds makes no sense at all. Which also explains why I have that slack faced look everytime she asks me who the book belongs too.  Really even I understand that it belongs to His makes no sense but I haven't been hit with the clue stick yet.  I am drowning here. Finally I just ask Peter what the heck these words mean.  Of course HE knows.  I think I hate that man.  Oh and btw each has a masculine and feminine form based on the gender of the person you are referring to… oh and btw – if the OBJECT is masculine there is another format. When the heck did a pencil become masculine? And why is a coffee cup feminine? What if it’s a really big bulky butch cup with “Go Army” emblazed on the front?

Did I mention that earlier she asked me to spell my last name? It seems that there is a very nice whiskey with the same name. She was kind enough to point that out. Maybe she’ll be the teacher next week and will bring some, because I sure could have used a drink. Which makes me wonder, if I were drunk, would this be easier? If I was really drunk I might not remember anything from class, but then again how would that be different that the last two classes?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 11, 2010 - Random Bullets

  • Did I mention I picked a gym?  I did.  It's actually the very 1st gym that L and I looked at over a month ago.  Arena225, we went to look at the others that were on my list which ended up making this one look better and more inviting.  So today I took the bus to the gym and I joined.  Then I got in a 50 min work out.  I'm considering this my 1st step towards a 1/2 pack.  (No sense going overboard trying for a 6 pack).
  • Tomorrow is day two of German Lessons... I'm looking for a snorkle just in case I start to feel like I am being submerged in water again.
  • I have been trying to take a picture of this hawk like bird that flies around the apartment so I can send it to one of my friends and I can't get a decent picture.  The one day I don't have my camera it lands on the ground maybe 20 feet away.  Today I have the camera and it's landed in the pine tree just outside the balcony but I can't see it.  Then, damn him, he's circling around and I can't get him in the screen.  I hate that damn bird.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10, 2010 – German Lessons a.k.a. Waterboarding

Ok maybe that’s a little harsh for a title. Today I attending my very first German Lesson at the Berlitz School of Languages. For those of you unfamiliar with “The Berlitz Method” (as I was): They do not translate, ever and they do not speak english (expect for the brief introduction where they explain that).

There are two of us in class, which I found helpful because at least 50% of the time the teacher’s attention is deflected away from me. She started off with some flash cards of the sun rising, being midday, and the sun setting and proceeded to say:

“Guten Morgen”    “Guten Tag”    “Guten Abend”

Phew, I can do this. Then she introduced herself and apparently asked me to introduce myself. This I manage and I’m thinking ok this might work. Then she whips out a map of the world and proceeds to tell us the Continents, the Capitals, and how to say something is “land” versus a Continent. Around this time I am starting to feel like I am slowly being submerged into a giant pool of water that is quickly covering my ears.

At some point I had to tell the other classmate what country I was from and ask him where he was from. We also learned that (a) Being from the United States is a little more difficult because there is more grammer involved. Oh why couldn’t I have been from someplace easy like “Duetschland” and (b) that there are different grammatical things to speaking with a woman versus a male. (Again, wishing for gender neutrality) By this time the water has risen to above my ears and my brain is shutting down. I’m starting to panic. Holy Godfrey there is a TEST. Crapity Crap Crap. How do you say SHIT in German? Maybe its Shite…

Either way I am pretty sure that I now have a constant expression on my face that says “Hello my name is CAB and I recently had a lobotomy.” That or I look like a deer caught in the headlights because every time the teacher says something to me; which I take as she is either telling me to answer a question, or pose a question to the other guy in the class, she gets this slightly sympathetic look on her face. “Poor poor foolish American.”

I’m still trying to hold my own, when she brings up a new set of flash cards. One has a picture of some guy who plays tennis. Now when I say “some guy” I realize that this guy is supposed to be famous, but frankly professional tennis interests me almost as much as the great international knit off. At least knitting I can get an afghan out of the deal. So she holds up this picture. Says something a little too fast and then asks me… what country is he from. Um, um… crap. Now I am humiliated into admitting that (a) I have no idea who he is… but she thinks my hesitancy is because I need to hear his name again. Well yes that is part of it. So she says more slowly “Roger Federer is from…..” I say in English… “I have no idea”. Oye. Peter good guy that he is jumps right in and answers. If he could have jumped in a little sooner. Next slide… OMG a political figure… I know him, fine old age is setting in, please please please don’t ask me his name… I should know his name…. what is his name???? No idea, but hey she asks what country is he from… Russia. Yea! One for me. Oh God, another political picture. A picture of some guy and a woman. At least I know it’s a political figure. Quick Peter… rescue me. Oh thank God… it’s the Prime Minister of France. Ugh, if nothing else I am a prime example of an American who does not know anything about foreign politics.

I admit it, I know very little, but I am trying. At the same time I have to admit that keeping track of American Politics is difficult enough for me, what with the local town, politicians, the state politics, and then at the federal level. Can you blame me for having trouble with facial recognition? Besides, sometimes when I get up in the morning I don’t even recognize my own face. I think to myself… did I look this bad when I went to bed?

It’ll get better. It’ll get better. I am going to keep telling myself that until it is true

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 9, 2010 - Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

L and I took the train to Lucerne today so we could take a gondola ride up to the top of Mount Pilatus.  Now before you start to wonder, before we even started this trip we agreed that there was no way we were going to try and "hike" down the mountain.  It turns out that people actually hike UP the mountain.  Apparently it's a nice easy 5 or so hour jaunt.  Maybe next year we'll be in better shape and will give that a try.  Or not.

There are two different legends of the Mountain.  One says that the ghost of Pontius Pilate haunts the mountain click here for that legend.  The other says that dragons inhabit the mountain.  I'm happy to run with the idea that both are true.

L and I in Lucerne

The start of our ascent

On the way up

Looking left while in the gondola

Moo (what is the difference between a steer and a bull?)

Another view from the left

The view from behind

Where we are heading

I really don't want to know what happens if the "Wind Alarm" goes off

From (almost the top of the mountain)

The Fog Rolling In

This is all we could see at one point

We didn't spot any dragons but we did look

And we thought the altitude when biking in Hawaii was high

I have no idea how anyone gets to this church but I am assuming attendance is low

Back down the mountain

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 7, 2010 - The Gym Part 1

You knew there was going to be mukeltiple parts to this.  Oye.  So this morning I decided to put on my brave, stepping out of my comfort zone hat, and drove to the "ProVital" gym.  Turns out it as pretty easy to find.   Sure the navigation did all the work but I did what it told me to do.  That's saying something.

So I found the gym, I parked, and I managed to get in the front door of the building.  Oh let me back up a bit.  This building is in a section that looks like a whol bunch of condo buildings so intially I thought I was in the wrong area.  Anyway, back to the main enterance.  I go through the door and now I'm in a small lobby like thing with mailboxes in the right hand wall and a glass door infront of me.  So I do what any normal human being would do, I pull on the door handle.  Nothing.  I try again... nothing.  Then I think, maybe I should "push" the door.  Still nothing.  So I look around and I don't see any bells or buzzers but there is the RED button.  No I did not push the red button.  Apparently I was not wearing my brave hat, I was only wearing my 1/2 brave hat.  All I could think about was "What is that red button, what if it's an ALARM and I push it.  If it goes off I'll have to run away fast and I don't think I can hop in the Audi SUV and peel out without calling attention to myself."  Yes, I woosed out.  I hate that about myself, but sometimes I can't quite make it totally out of my comfort zone.  If L had been there she'd have pushed the Red button and said to hell with the possibility of an alarm, because she wouldn't want to waste the trip.  At that very moment what I needed was someone to walk out the inner door and I would have walked in.  How that is better than pushing the button I can't tell you.  Except somehow having the door locked made me feel like I was in a "private, invitee's only" space.  So my gym experience this morning went down in flames. 

I did try to make up for it, by ringing my downstairs neighbor's doorbell and running away.  Fine, I'm kidding about the running away part.  I rang her bell and asked her if she could show me how her oven works.  I know, can you believe I was reduced to seeking help on how to work the oven.  Turns out I was on the right path.  I could turn on the oven, but there are options for cooking while cirulating air, cooking with a steamer, and cooking like a regular oven.  Apparenty cooking while circulating air is faster.  If I can find brownie mix I might give the oven a whirl.  Which makes me wonder.... did I bring a brownie pan with us?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 6, 2010

Well I wish I had something exciting to report, "leider nicht".

I did get all three of the bikes to a bike shop down the road who thought that they could get the missing part, and check them all out for being road worthy in a few days.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  Although I am a little leery if the 1st ride here I am also looking forward to getting on the bike.

I also did some searching for a place to work out.  There is a "gym" in Tiefenbrunnen which is just a couple train stops down the road.  I think I could also ride my bike there.  The issue is (a) I don't want to have to try and find parking and I'm a little concerned that I wont go as often as I should.  More importantly, although the place is nice enough it didn't speak to me.  I'm thinking I should go back and look at it again.

Then there is a place that is closer but when I went to get some information about it this morning the woman didn't speak any english and said that there wasn't anyone who did, even tomorrow.  I sort of laughed (not out loud) and left it at that without looking around.  How do you ask to look around when the woman doesn't understand you.  of course now when I think about it - I should go back there, maybe the fact that she doesn't speak any english means she also had no idea what I meant when I asked if "anyone" does.

There is also this place which on it's website seems really interesting and could be right up my ally, but its even further away than the Arena225 but I think I would like to go see it if for no other reason than maybe I would fall in love with it.

Finally there is this place which I think is actually up behind us a short drive away.  This may be the 1st place I pop into. 

Anyway this is what I want to do tomorrow.  Find a place and commit to working out.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5, 2010 - Snails Continued

Warning: Dear Handsome Man (J) - avert your eyes, do not look any further.  If I recall that cruise vacation correctly you ate these (cooked and obviously dead) on a dare.  I would hate for you to be scarred.  Oh and btw - garbage pizza does NOT include snails.

You will never convince me that these Things are edible, despite what Jesse thinks/Tries. 

I tried to take a pic of this one from the front but he squished in his tentical eyes and made an Oscar The Grouch face, but not in a cute way.

May 5, 2010 – Cinco De Rain

Make that Ocho de Rain, since it’s been raining for 8 days or at least sprinkling/misting with moments of decent rain. I’m a little confused, did I move to Seattle?

The good thing is – no bee’s in the house. The bad thing, the dogs are getting a little antsy (as am I). I have to admit that they have been getting abbreviated walks these last few days. There’s not a lot of incentive on my part to go out for the hour long walk, get soaked, avoid snails, and have to deal with wet dogs, but I’m thinking tomorrow I will have to bite the bullet and go. Today there is just too much going on. Right now I am waiting for a repair man to show up and fix the blind/shade on the bathroom window. I don’t understand the big deal about the shade not staying down, but L said something about indecent exposure and not wanting the neighbors to see into the shower. I don’t want to think about what the prior tenants did – but then again maybe they are more “free” than we are. He’s supposed to show up about 9:30. Then between 10 and 11 a carpenter is supposed to show up to fix the front door.

Yes we have a front door that we don’t really use because the elevator opens up right into our apartment. However, on occasion people have come to the front door and I have to get the house key to unlock the door to let them in. Then I have to lock the door immediately behind them or else the door won’t stay closed. You should see that initial look of skeptisim and worry in their eyes when you politely say “Wont you come in…” and then lock the door behind them using a key. Sure it might not help that I am greeting them with my best Bela Lugosi accent.

Just for fun - this is how the beastly boy spent the other rainy day:

Then he heard the click of the camera and gave me the evil eye for waking him.

Granted he went right back to sleep.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010 - Bikes

Well you know that I have completely settled in when I can say that I wanted to verbally rip someone's head off yesterday and my frustration isn't quite done yet. Granted it's not really anyone in Switzerland that I want to hurt.

There's been so much going on, and I know that L wants to get out on our bikes, so yesterday I finally got around to taking a close look at our bikes. The plan was to fill the tires with air and do a quick check to make sure the gears shift smoothly. Unfortunately, Murphy met me at the bike stand. I didn't get far enough in the process to worry about the gears because the 1st thing I noticed was the brakes are not connected.

By not connected I mean the cable is not connected to the levers. Fan-Freaking-Tastic.

Now I'm annoyed because for the life of me I can't imagine why they (the movers) would have disconnected the brake cables. Honestly, they have a "quick release" mechanism so if you need to remove the front tire you can do that without getting all crazy. Plus when the guys packed us up I offered to take care of the bikes if they needed to remove a wheel. "No No, we know what we're doing, it's good. We know what we are doing."

I should have insisted. Stupid me.

So now I have 3 bikes with the front brake cable disconnected and at least one bike that is missing the clamp that the cable gets locked down with. Yesterday I would have called to yell at someone but I realized it would be futile; I'd be yelling and no one would understand a word I was saying other than it would be obvious I wanted to hurt someone. Come to think of it, that might in fact be what happens when I am in the US and lose my mind. They just back away from the crazy lady.

Now I certainly can attempt to make sure the brakes are all working properly and I can most likely resolve two of the 3 bike issues, but I'm a little hesitant because... did I ever mention the hills that are here? So in an ideal world I'd take the bikes to a shop and have them check them out and tune them. So this morning I set out on that path. One bike shop doesn't deal in Specialized Bikes (and that is the brand of the one missing the part) but he could take a look at it. There is a Specialized Bike Shop in Zurich, but they can't get to them until June. Which sets off my annoyed trigger again, but not at the bike shop - with the stupid people who packed the bikes and lost a part and didn't mention when they put the bikes back together ....oohhh btw we can't find a part. It's not like the brake cable flopping around with nowhere to go wasn't a clue. Instead they hid it. (No worries L took care of all the firm talk in an email exchange). Anyway, now I'm down to I'm going to have to fix these myself.

When I think rationally about it I know I can do this, Justin at Amity Bike in Woodbridge showed me how to do the basic maintenance stuff before we left and I have a book with pictures. Pictures help. I still however have to get the missing part and frankly I'm thinking of calling Justin since he knows the bikes and seeing if they can ship it here. That has to be faster than waiting until June. Oh sure and I can go to the Zurich bike shop. I tried that this morning - to see if I could just buy the damn part. Of course it would help if I could FIND the shop.

Maybe this is just life’s way of getting me to move forward with maintaining the bikes on my own. That or is a test of my abundance of patience. I just threw that last bit in so my Dad would get a laugh at the thought of me and patience in the same sentence.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010 - Escargot

That’s just a word that some chef made up so people would eat snails without being totally grossed out. Now it’s been raining here for the last few (3 days) and let me tell you a little something about Escargot. They travel in packs, hords, schools (although that is too benign a word and should only be applied to goldfish.) What the heck is a larg gathering of snails called? Other than disgusting? Oh sure I might be over reacting but I think not. The other day we’re walking the dogs… because we HAVE to… and sure I’m expecting to see some snails. The come out like worms do when it rains. I just haven’t figured out which is more gross snails or worms; worms because they are more difficult to spot. Anyway, were walking the dogs and we’re being careful where we walk, frankly no one wants to hear or feel the crunch of a snail. When we come across what can only be described as a family reunion of snails. No kidding, at least 8 are crossing the path, together, in formation. Big Freaking Snails. Which I can see WITHOUT my glasses. Which is better than a smaller hord of snails that I accidently squish. Oh did I mention that Jesse as a Golden Retriever has an oral fixation? She does, albeit usually she is focused on balls and pine cones. Yes pine cones. She’ll separate your arm from your shoulder in a desperate attempt to lung and pick up a pinecone. You know where this is going right? Well she’s been happily unaware of the snails until we can across the family. Oh yeah, now she sees them and they are about the same size as a golf ball. THEY MUST BE SOMETHING TO PICK UP AND PLAY WITH. We’re averted disaster a couple of times so far. Disaster being defined as: Jesse picking up one of these things forcing one of us to retrieve it.

Needless to say we have avoided the path for the last two days are hoping for some dry weather soon. Regardless, I’m starting to feel like Jack Nicholson in that movie “As Good As It Gets” where he’s neurotic and walks the street trying to avoid stepping on cracks in the pavement. That’s what I feel like I look like walking down the middle of the street at night – with the idea that maybe the snails won’t try crossing the entire street. That maybe they just stay on the sidewalks. Oh and then last night while I’m contemplating that and worring about stepping on one of these things (especially a big one) all I can think about is… “What if I crush one of these things and then later when I die there’s a giant freaking snail looking for retribution?” It’s sort of what I think about spiders you suck up in the vacuum. I can imagine them clawing their way back up the vacuum hose, bigger and madder than when they went in. Bigger as in massively bigger. Human Size bigger. I have to get off this tack. I really don’t want a bigger madder snail coming after me, although if I use logic, even it it were HUGE… how fast can a snail go? Isn’t that were “a snail’s pace” came from?

Oh and while I’m asking? Who on earth decided – hey I wonder if this thing is edible? Let’s eat it? Because if they tried out a snail I’m thinking they tried out a slug, which to me is just a homeless snail.

I think I need a cookie to wash out all this icky thoughts.