Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 30, 2010 – Lentil Soup and Running

Not that one really has anything to do with the other, they just happen to be two things I have focused my morning on. First up, I am proud to say I got my butt outside and went running. All by myself; well unless you count beastly boy. I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone and take Ernie running with me. I had a little trepidation about running with the boy. First, he has 4 legs and he definitely runs faster than I do. Actually, that’s it. I was worried he would be dragging me along, especially on some of these hills. Well, I could not have been more wrong. In fact, the rolls were entirely reversed. It was me, dragging the beastly boy along. Seriously, imagine trying to drag yourself up a steep hill now imagine doing that dragging a dog who really, really wants to stop and smell the roses, the grass, that random wet spot, oh wait is that a bug… let’s go look. I finally took a moment and made a deal with him, we would run until I could not run any further and then he could dictate the pace and stop to smell, mark, etc to his hearts’ content. We managed about 40 mins of walking and running. My goal for tomorrow is to run further than I did today, even if it’s just to the next tree. We’ll see if I take the beast with me.

Lentil soup, it started to rain and it’s been a bit damp/chilly so I decided to make soup for dinner tonight. At least in this weather my repertoire of things I can cook increases. The thing is, it never occurred to me to follow a recipe. Lentils, bouillon cubes (I really have no idea if the ones I bought are chicken or beef, you’d think you could tell from the color… not so much), celery, carrots, onion, black pepper and your off and running. Here’s where it gets tricky, when mom makes lentil soup it is always smooth so I assumed that the lentils just cook down themselves. I’m half-way through the process and I’m thinking “hmmm, maybe Mom uses a blender”. She might, but that isn’t an option right now, because we don’t have a blender or any other electrical kitchen tools. There was no sense bringing the ones we owned because of the voltage difference. Yes I realize you can use a converter, still with those little appliances I really didn’t want to burn anything out while near liquid. Call me cautious but I can only imagine electrical fires or electrocution, neither are on my list of things to do.

So tonight, may be having lumpy-ish lentil soup which I know will taste great and tomorrow I will go running again. I might be running with the beastly boy or I might get over my feelings of intrusion and ask my neighbor Mary if she can go. Regardless damn it, I’m going.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September 29, 2010

It’s been a crazy few days and I have to admit to being more than a little frustrated with my surroundings. Let’s just get this out of the way, neither Berlitz or The Pimsler method of learning German teach you phrases like “Please control your little brat of a child” or “Should your little brat of a child “pretend” to spit on me or my dog again, I will ring your doorbell and “pretend” to smack the living bejeezus out of you” ; because it would be wrong to smack the crap out of a bratty child that is not my own. Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t have a bratty child. I also wonder if there really is a translation for “bejeezus.” This all happened yesterday; the spitting/pretend spitting part.

Today, however, I got up and chanted several time “I’m going to make this a good day for myself.” Then I took the beastly boy for a walk, two actually, and now I’m sitting at my desk trying desperately to get our work server running efficiently. It seems that (a) when you need to delete 1.6 million rows from a database it can take forever, and it’s seriously bad for the available disk space. I realize most of that means absolutely nothing to the majority of you. Trust me, it means almost nothing to me, except that both situations are a bad things and once again I can thank “Google” for helping me figure out what needs to be done.

Oh and if you Google “How to free up disk space and delete log files?” The 1st message is, “Get chocolate.” Ok it’s not really, but it should be and as soon as I have a moment I’m going to send Google an email about that.

“I’m going to make this a good day for myself.” Also known as “Ich gehe davon halten soll ein guter Tag für mich”

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28, 2010 – Google Translate and German Emails

I have a zillion things to do, and I was going to rant about politics and how sick I am of the political process.  Can you tell I'm feeling cranky?  Then, lo and behold I recieved this email from the bike store who repaired our bikes when we arrived and I am amused:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ORIGINAL ~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stäfa, Dienstag, 28. September 2010

Sehr geehrte Frau CAB,

Wir haben in den ersten 2 Oktoberwochen reduzierte Öffnungszeiten sowie Ferien.
von Dienstag 5. bis Freitag 8. Oktober haben wir nur Nachmittags geöffnet am Samstag den ganzen Tag bis 15Uhr.

von Dienstag 12. bis Samstag 16. Oktober machen wir 1 Woche Betriebsferien.

Bis Ende Oktober erhalten Sie auf unsere Lagermodelle Jg 2010 einen Rabatt von 20%
(davon ausgenommen sind alle Elektrobikes und Kindervelos)
Auf alle älteren MTB/Rennrad-Modelle erhalten Sie einen Rabatt von 35%.
Während des Winters führen wir wieder unsere Flickkurse durch voraussichtlich jeweils am Dienstag und Donnerstag.

Falls Sie interessiert sind senden Sie uns doch bitte eine entsprechende Email an
Ab Ende Oktober sind die Kurse auf unserer Homepage aufgeschaltet.
Sie erhalten diese News weil wir Sie zu unseren geschätzten Kunden zählen.
Falls Sie keine News/Informationen mehr erhalten wollen senden Sie bitte eine
Email an: mit dem Betreff "No News".

Besten Dank für Ihr Verständnis.
mit herzlichen Grüssen

Veloteria Stäfa

Vre und Vinz Niedermann
8712 Stäfa
079 793 41 40

First let me just say, how grateful I am to receive email that is in German versus regular mail. Do you have any idea how many times I have typed a complete letter into google translate only to find out it was junk mail? At least with email I can copy/past. Although the translation of this email leaves me a bit puzzled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ TRANSLATION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zurich, Tuesday 28 September 2010

Dear Ms. CAB,

We have in the first 2 weeks of October, reduced opening times and holidays.
from Tuesday 5 to Friday 8 October we are open only on Saturday afternoons throughout the day until 15h.

from Tuesday 12 until Saturday 16th October, we make 1 week of operation holidays.

Clearance Sale:
By the end of October you will receive our inventory models Jg 2010, a discount of 20%
(All of them except for electric bikes and kids bikes)
In all older MTB / Road models receive a discount of 35%.

Flick rates:
During the winter we back our rates by expected Flick every Tuesday and Thursday.
If you are interested please send us an email to appropriate
From the end of October, the rates are applied to our homepage.

You received this news as we count among our valued clients.
If you any news / want for more information please send an
Email to: with the subject "No News".
Thank you for your understanding.
with best regards

Veloteria Stäfa
Vre and Vinz Niedermann
8712 Staefa
079 793 41 40

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Questions ~~~~~~~~~~

Ok I think I understand that they are going to reduce their hours of operation for a couple of weeks, but does this mean they are closed every day except Saturday? I do get that they are completely closed Oct 12 – 16th.
The Clearance Sale… um, does
“By the end of October you will receive our inventory models Jg 2010, a discount of 20%”
mean that all 2010 models are discounted by 20% and anything older than 2010 is discounted at 35%. Or does it mean they have new 2010 models coming in that they have discounted?  Oh and what is a Jg Model? Apparently I don't bike enough.

What the heck is a “flick” rate? The online dictionary says it’s a slow motion movie. Now all I can imagine is that every Tuesday and Thursday they take slow motion movies of the bikes that aren’t selling.

And I thought the German Language was confusing, the translation isn’t much help.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27, 2010 – Weekend Roundup and Other Whatnot’s

The desk in my office faces a wall that is one giant window/sliding glass door. I’m mentioning this because Friday while I was working I noticed what I thought was smoke rising off in the distance, down the hill. Initially I thought that it might be a wood fire, it’s been cool here and Friday the wind kicked up and put a chill in the air. It’s a good thing I am not a cat, because once again curiosity got the better of me. I went to the balcony to see what was producing all this “smoke”. Trees, specifically these two trees:

Every time the wind would gust, what I know assume is pollen would blow off these trees in huge clouds.

I’m sure allergy sufferers’ in the area were glad that it rained all weekend, downpours.

The weather being crappy, wet and cold was very little incentive to go exploring so we went to the movies and saw “The Town” with Ben Affleck. Let me just get this out of the way at the very start. I’m not a fan of Ben Affleck, I typically think he can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Of course my opinion is a bit tainted by the movies “Daredevil” and “Armageddon” funny those movies did not make me think less of Bruce Willis or Jennifer Garner. No one said my opinions were consistent. Anyway that is beside the point. The point is, I don’t typically like Ben and his movies, but “the Town” was very good. I would recommend it for a cold rainy day.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010 - The Emergency Broadcast System

This update is being brought to you by the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS). If there was ever a need for the EBS it was this morning. I got up took the beastly boy out for his morning constitutional while L was getting ready for work. We lollygagged a bit this morning so instead of jumping right into the shower when I returned I decided to wait so I wouldn’t miss L before she headed out to work. So to pass the time I sat in my office and read through my spam email. Eventually, L comes round and asks what I am doing. Now this part is important. I turn my swivel chair to look at her while she is speaking to me. I honestly couldn’t tell you what she was saying, what I recall vividly is the slow motion change that came over her face. We’ve all seen it, that look that says “OMG, there is something too horrific to describe directly behind you. Maybe even ON you.” Now L has stopped speaking at this point, but the look on her face has me leaping out of the chair as if I just received an electric shock and saying “WHAT? What is it.”

Honestly moments like these tend to kick my imagination into overdrive and the first thing I imagine is the one thing that I find terrifying. That a giant spider is somehow ON ME. The fact that I leapt out of the chair without flailing about at some invisible intruder is impressive.

Then I turn around, and I hate to admit this, but in unison L and I both come out with the same expletive, because in this instance my imagination was correct with one minor alteration. The spider was on the wall behind me and not on ME. It was only a small consolation but I’ll take it.

This picture does not do the spider justice, (a) there was no way I was getting close enough to take a good picture and (b) I blame some of the blurriness on my hands shaking. 

Seriously this thing was WAY too big for me to kill. L and I were debating what to do, because it was also bordering on too big for her to kill. I was voting leaving any semblance of personal dignity up here to keep an eye on the spider while I went downstairs and begged any neighbor’s husband to come rid our apartment of the beast. Considering the time of morning, 8 am, I wasn’t so much worried about waking a neighbor as I was that there wouldn’t be any men around.

L on the other hand voted for the vacuum but then raised the concern/question “How would we know that the spider was sucked into the bag and not actually hanging out in the hose waiting for a moment to crawl back out?” I was actually concerned that the thing would leap off the wall and make a mad dash and end up in hiding before we (ok L, I wasn’t going anywhere near the room again) got the vacuum anywhere near him. Then L suggested that maybe she could, I don’t know scoop him into a zip lock bag.

Ok we both realized the folly of this option fairly quickly. Finally L brokered a deal, she would beat the spider to death with a magazine if I would clean up the aftermath. Me, I can do that… as I chant silently in my head… “beat it to death, kill it, kill it, kill it.” Unfortunately that chant starts to sound both a little crazy and panicked after just a few seconds.

L rolls up the magazine, and whacks the spider. OMG, it’s only WOUNDED and makes a mad leap off the wall and tries to run for it. L’s killer instinct goes into overdrive and she beats that spider to smithereens and I breathe a sigh of relief. Seriously, if L were not home, either a neighbor would have had to rescue me, or I would have the office hermetically sealed until I knew it was safe to re-enter. Which could have been never; L is my heroine.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September 23, 2010 - My Momma Told Me There Would Be Days Like This

Has life got you down? Are you sick and tired of all the governmental baloney? Is work wearing you down? In need of a vacation, but don’t have the time or money. You’ve come to the right place. Need an attitude adjustment? I have the solution:  S’Mores

Now don’t give me any excuses, I’m in SWITERLAND the land where I can’t find anything and I’ve managed to create a makeshift S’more.

All you need is, a working stove top, two cookies with chocolate on them (or two cookies and a chocolate bar), a marshmallow, and preferably something non-flammable or melty to hold said marshmallow. In this instance a meat fork, which from this point forward will be known as the marshmallow fork.

Fire up the stove top…

Stick the marshmallow onto the fork…


Now be careful, there are some of us who lack patience and in the past have been known to let the marshmallow catch on fire, because a fully engulfed flaming marshmallow is ready for s’more-hood faster than the slowly toasting one. Remember, you are “indoors” and there is a good chance flaming marshmallows are not covered by your homeowners policy.

Slide toasted Marshmallow onto Cookies



Sing along… “Oh Happy Days are Here again… da da da da da da daaa” because I have no idea if that is a real song and I forgot the lyrics or if I made it up.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

September 23, 2010

We’ve been back in Switzerland since Monday and I’m a little surprised by the fact that I feel like I’m “re” settling-in. It’s a strange feeling.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 22, 2010 - The Grapes of Wrath

That title pops in my head every time I walk by one of our neighbor’s yards; not because his yard is a dust ball, but because he grows grapes. Just a side note, I understand the historical significance of the book “The Grapes of Wrath” but it is the second worst book (and movie) I have ever been forced to read. The first is Moll Flanders, which, if I remember correctly, has the distinction of being the first novel ever written. I remember this because I also remember hating the book. Actually “hate” is too mild. It was odious to me; one never ending run on sentence. However, that is neither here nor there.

My neighbor has a field of grapes in his yard and just recently surrounded the vines with netting. Which makes me wonder, is the netting keeping something “out” or keeping the grapes “in”?

Furthermore, I wonder:

“those high pitch squeals I hear late at night and have attributed to the weasel population, could those sounds actually be the grapes crying for freedom?”

“Are these grapes made for stomping?”

“Will they have Nancy Sinatra singing “These Boots Are Made For Walking” in the background?

I think everywhere I go I am going to walk/dance like Nancy

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21, 2010 – Sleeping In

What a glorious morning. The beastly boy let me sleep in, late… really late. I woke up at 8:00 and he made no moves to get up so I rolled over and slept until 9:00. Thankfully, because I was considering telling people that dark circles under my eyes were a result of a broken nose. I had the whole composed story in my head:

“I was in the grocery store, reached for the last dark chocolate bar when this elderly lady came up to me and started yelling in what I believe was Swiss German. She’s pointing at the chocolate bar, then pointing at me, yelling some more; I’m trying to explain I don’t understand what she is saying, but I’m assuming it has something to do with me having the last dark chocolate bar. Next thing I know, “Wham” she’s punched me in the nose grabs the chocolate bar and stalks off.”

Now that story will just have to wait for the next time I have dark circles under my eyes.

As a reward for letting me sleep late the beast and I took a nice long leisurely walk. He isn’t quite feeling 100% since returning from “camp”. Let’s just say his stomach is upset. I’ll blame the change in food and the stress of camp. So yesterday I made him rice for dinner with a small amount of dry food mixed in. We repeated that this morning with the left over rice. It also gave me a craving for vegetable fried rice. Please tell me you were not thinking I was going to say rice and dried dog food. Although I suspect it’s edible I would have to be in serious straights to try that, heck if I had the rice I wouldn’t need the dog food.

I’m actually feeling pretty good about where I am mentally and physically. I feel on track nutrition wise (Hey sis I forgot the cookbook you gave me…. Can you hang onto it for me?), I seem to be on a roll with my running and I have a plan for riding the bike even if it’s just on the trainer.

Oh back to the beastly boy, he was feeling a bit grimy after camp so he got a shower this morning as well. Now he looks poofy and handsome, AND he smells good too. What more could a girl ask for? Oh and to my friend Tallulah… I actually tried to figure out how to take a picture of the event but couldn’t figure out how to do so without the camera getting soaked.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

As yo umay have noticed, last week we were in the US visiting family, friends, and doctors.  Not necessarily in that order.  L had to have her coloscopy and I had gyn and mamogram.  Right now you are probably thinking, "wow, those two live on the edge and really know how to have a good time."  Don't be jealous, you too can have the same procedures done.  Well unless you are a guy, then going to the gyn would just be strange.

We did drop the beastly boy off at the kennel.  It was not as easy this time.  Last time, Jesse and he went together and the beast was happy to rush off wherever Jesse was heading.  I don't even recall him looking around.  This time, was dramatically different.  He did ok when we walked in, seemed interested in all the dog noises and barking.  That was until the lady took his leash and started to lead him away.  Then the beast looked over his shoulder with that "Mom, aren't you coming?" look on his face and then proceeded to drag the girl who was leading him away back to me.  Yes, I cried.  *sigh*  Apparently he had ignored me when I told him he was going to camp and that we would be back and no, we were not leaving him forever.  I swear it would be so much easier if you knew they could actually understand you.  It's really the "we'll be back" part that is important.

We flew back in this morning, and on the way home picked the beastly boy up from camp.  He was extremely excited to see us.  The woman walking him to us finally gave up trying to not get dragged and let go of the leash.  He was a ball of energy, wiggles and desperation.  my best guess was he we torn between desperately wanting to say hello and desperatly wanting to get the heck out of "camp"  because his hello was pretty short before he started a mad dash for the exit.  He didn't even stop to pee, just hopped up into the back of the car.  Since then we have gone on a couple or walks, taken a nap and generally been connected at the hip, or at the moment connected at the foot.

Anyway that's it, we're back home in Switzerland and the blogs will continue.
© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 14, 2010

I need caffeine; a diet Dr. Pepper would be nice. Maybe a few would be nice. I have no idea how people makes these international trips on a regular basis, I feel better than I did when we arrived but I could seriously use some additional sleep. The way I see it, I’ll be feeling 100% right around the same day we hop on a plane to fly back to Switzerland. That would be Murphy at work.

Regardless of how tired I feel this morning, I am already looking forward to this evening. How can that possibly be? I have at least 9 hours to get through. Well let me tell you, tonight is Dessert 1st Night, when my friends and I get together and eat dessert. If for some reason we are still hungry after dessert we can eat real food but generally that is not an issue. Dessert 1st night came about one evening, many years ago when we had all gotten together for dinner and it dawned on me that really I wanted dessert and that you can always ask for a doggy bag. You never ask for a doggy bag for dessert. So we ordered dessert 1st; the birth of a wonderful tradition.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010 - Brats on a Plane

It could be a movie title like "Snakes on a Plane."  Although in all honesty this should be title "Brat" on a Plane and a Different Brat in a Parking lot. 

We made it home safe and sound on Saturday. The flight was decent, despite the random screaming of a brat two rows in front of me. I feel completely justified in referring to the child as a brat because, he was one. This was not a small child or baby who was tired and/or having difficulty with the plane and atmosphere. This was a child of 5 or 6 who apparently rules the roost and from the moment he got on the plane would randomly scream at the top of his lungs any variation of the following: “I don’t want to go.” “I want X” where “x” is any random thing. Now I admit that I don’t have a lot of patience and I have even less patience for bratty ill-behaved children and their parents. On more than one occasion I fantasized about asking the kid if he wanted a smack upside the head especially as I started to wonder if he was going to be a constant screamer over the 8 hour flight. Luckily he was not; it was more random acts of screams which I managed to tolerate and his parents managed to ignore entirely.

However, that does lead me to the next bratty child incident I encountered Saturday. After we made it home I popped out to run a few errands and as I was leaving a store, this woman and who I assume was her child exited at the same time as I did. The boy was maybe 11 or so, and he was whining that he wanted something that the woman had just bought. This woman took on that sweet sing song tone when trying to explain “I’m sorry honey; you can’t always have what you want.” After repeating this a few times the boy had enough and called his mother a “Mother F#76%.” I waited for a ½ a second for what I was sure was going to be the inevitable “SMACK” sound that would have knocked this boy senseless. It never happened. The woman said in a semi-stern voice “Stop that right now” and turned over the bag of whatever she had bought. At moments like that I’m fairly certain, although I could be wrong, that the law would allow a mother to claim temporary insanity and lose her mind. I wanted to do it for her. In all honesty, if that had been my child I’d be willing to bet that if he uttered those words to me, I’d have backhanded him so hard he’d have been unconscious on the pavement. At least in my fantasy world where no one really gets hurt and people don’t immediately jump to child abuse scenarios. It’s more likely that I’d have grabbed the kid by the shirt collar and threatened to knock him into next week.

This incident has obviously left an impression on me because I haven’t been able to stop talking or thinking about it. I’m honestly dumbfounded that anyone would put up with that kind of behavior. Certainly you might not smack them, but hello… she rewarded him. My siblings and I would NEVER have even thought such a thing about our mother. Of course she trained us from a young age to be respectful and in those times when we were not respectful she or my father put us immediately back on track. I can’t even imagine what this kid is like in school. I do not envy his teachers, because I would bet his parents believe little Johnny can do no wrong.

To all of those parents out there who are raising nice polite children, Thank you.  Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010

It’s been a hectic week but fun week that is winding down, or up into another hectic week. We leave Saturday to head home to the US for a quick visit and to stock up on essentials; crystal light iced tea mix, chocolate chips. Oddly enough in the land of chocolate you can’t find good chocolate chips. Now, that did not prevent me from making the peanut butter and chocolate granola, even though it called for chocolate chips, I just bought a bar of chocolate and whacked it a few times with the meat tenderizer. Seriously, what other purpose does that tool serve except for breaking the airtight seal on jars and breaking up chocolate?

I’m also happy to report that my neighbor M and I have been running twice this week and plan to run tomorrow morning before we head out. I’m not sure how far we have actually run, but we’ve gone for 30 minutes each time and I’m feeling better each time we go. Although this is stating the obvious, for the moment I like the down-hills much better than the up-hills, but somehow it seems we never really encounter as many down-hills as we do up. It has to be psychological. I am getting better at them.

Other subjects: two nights ago the sky had some crazy cloud formations so I took pictures. I can’t explain it, but when I took the pictures and you review them with the camera the sky looks like its’ on fire. My gut reaction was “the Hand of God” kind of fire, which is not what it looked like to the naked eye, and not what it looks like when I download them off the camera. Regardless I like the pictures so I am sharing.

I think I like this one and the last one the best

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 8, 2010 – Italy Road Trip

We’re back! First and foremost I have to mention that we ate our way across Italy. So much for losing weight before my next doctor’s appointment, but it was completely worth it. Besides, how the heck are you supposed to drive from Zurich to Venice, Venice to Cinque Terre, Cinque Terre to Como, Como to Zurich and NOT have snacks in the car?

Let’s start with: M & E arrived Friday morning. Saturday morning we hopped in the car and hit the road to Venice by 7am…ish. We had all of the essentials: sandwiches, homemade granola, soda, and fruit. We at least attempted to be healthy at the start of the trip and we were trying to limit stops. I’ll just point out now there really is no rhyme or reason to this post except that I mentally have categorized the trip into key areas

Public Bathrooms
This next part is definitely TMI but I will share. I have “a thing” about public restrooms. That “thing” is, I try to avoid using them at all cost. I’ve gotten better about it as I’ve gotten older or maybe the more accurate statement is … I’ve gotten better as my bladder has gotten weaker. *sigh* I am, however, still somewhat picky about the facilities. I want them to at least pretend to be clean, I’d like them to have a toilet seat… even if I am not sitting on said seat Thank you Al for all those squat exercises…. it would be helpful if the door to the stall closes, and please let there be toilet paper. Now, at some point or another you learn quickly to check on that last item BEFORE it’s too late. Seriously, you do not want to be accused of a “Larry Craig” when all you really want is some TP. Fortunately I was already privy to that lesson, The checking the TP before lesson not the Larry Craig lesson, before we made one of our stops. It’s both sad and amusing to see a line of women at a public restroom standing around trying to decide what is worse: the desperate need to use the facilities or the fact that they fail on all counts of the critical categories? Fortunately there was a convenience store next door which really was convenient since they had napkins. So I was able to overcome the other preferred categories since there was an acceptable TP substitute available. I know, right now the men are shaking their heads in wonderment. However, during the course of this trip I did encounter a type of bathroom that I had heard stories about in the past and had never thought I would see for myself. When we were in Cinque Terre we stopped in the restroom at the train stations. For a brief moment I thought I might need to use the “facilities”. I used that word lightly. I opened the door to the bathroom and there is what I would describe as something similar to a shower pan with two places marked for your feet. If I had not heard from my mother and sister about bathrooms like these I would have been totally dumbfounded. Actually I still sort of am, I have no idea how on earth someone would use this setup without embarrassing themselves. I took a pass and decided if necessary I could wait. In fact I could wait until we made it home to Zurich if I really had too.

Getting to Venice: we have a built in GPS unit, which in most circumstances is very helpful, although there are times when we just don’t take that leap of faith and completely trust the woman telling us to “take the next exit.” We had such an experience on the way to Venice. She wanted us to get off the highway and it just seemed like the completely wrong thing to do. Why would we get off the main highway? So we ignored her sage advice and continued. I fully expected her to recalculate the trip but instead she kept telling us to “take the next exit” and backtrack. After about 20 minutes of this we realized we had made a mistake and pulled over to pull out a map and figure out how to fix it without backtracking the entire way. Why am I telling you this? Because there is a lesson in here, “don’t annoy the GPS lady she does not forget or forgive easily.” We get ourselves back on track and after several hours (by now you’d think she’d have gotten over the snub… but nooooo) we are within a kilometer or two of our exit for Venice. What happens? GPS lady who I now lovingly refer to as “that bitch” stopped talking to us. Oh yes, she goes completely silent. I can see the map, I can see her recalculating but she is keeping all of her wisdom and knowledge to herself. Too late we realize we probably should have gotten off at that exit we just passed. Me I’m thinking “no worries she’ll recalculate.” Um, NO! She now thinks we are “off road.” Hello, not off road. Lost, I am LOST. How good is a GPS that gets LOST???? Worse yet how good is a vindictive GPS that gets lost on purpose? I’m looking for the next exit assuming I can turn around. No kidding here, we are drivng and driving… there are no exits. Where the heck are we going? Finally we find an exit get off, reset the GPS. NOW she’s talking to us again; ugh; eventually making it to the parking lot so we can take the water taxi into Venice.

I have some mixed reviews on Venice. I’m glad we went. We took a gondola ride, because you just have to. We kissed under the Bridge of Sighs, which unfortunately was under construction so all you really saw was a picture of what it is supposed to look like. We walked through Saint Marks Square, and went into the cathedral. All of which I enjoyed, but in some ways I was overwhelmed by all the people; way too many people. The dirty streets/walk ways; quite a lot of Venice reminded me of slums, oh and OMG the rats with wings a.k.a. pigeons. We were in Saint Marks square and some guy was enticing the pigeons to land on his wheelchair bound daughter. Who seemed in some sense to enjoy it but all I could think was: “OMG Gross disease carrying birds.”

So here are some pictures from Venice:

The main thruway to Saint Marks Square

I actually thought that CA' Buzzi meant "the door bell"  Then I realized it was the residents name. 

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is located on the West Coast and is made up of 5 villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore. There is a hiking trail that connects all 5 villages and we planned on hiking parts of them. We did skip going into the village of Corniglia, admittedly because I said no way was I walking up 365 steps to the village. Yes I am a whiner. We did walk the lovers lane section and somehow we missed the concept that you could add a lock to the collection representing that someone has the key to your heart.
The views were spectacular and the weather was wonderful.

Pictures to prove it:

As you may be aware George Clooney lives in Como and we decided it would be a good idea to head out Monday night and swing in to say hello, that and it would help us avoid Milano traffic the next day for the trip home. I don’t know what happened but it seems George and I got our wires crossed because he was in Venice and we had just missed each other. My friend D pointed out this is why it’s always important to call George ahead of time. That man is very busy and his schedule is always changing. We really picked Como because they had a hotel that way directly off the highway and we just wanted a rest stop.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010 - Dawn

It was a dark and cold night. Alright that’s poetic license, it was actually a coolish, dawnish, morning but that doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily. This morning the boy and I got out extra early because L and I have to hop on a 7:02am train to the airport to pick up L&M. It’s fantastic that we can take the train right in.

So the boy and I got up earlier than we would normally and it’s essentially dawn. The only light is from the cloud covered moon and the street lights. The beastly boy is in his full glory chest puffed out, tail high in the air. The bubble over his head reads “I am king of all that I see.” We head to the bus stop, because quite frankly he likes to pee on the pole that is there. Then after everything is said and done, I decide we should keep heading around the block so he gets a little exercise this morning. As we make the last turn towards our apartment building he stops. Have you seen a dog stop dead in his tracks when he thinks he’s seen something? He gets all tense, tail straightens, everything about his says… “Come on, come on… let me go look… it MUST be something to play with… or CHASE…” Now the woman that I am and because this morning I am not working on all cylinders I think her doesn’t really see anything. I mean really, how can he see something I don’t? It’s not like his eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell are better than mine, he’s a DOG. I don’t know what I was thinking I’m blaming the early hour. So, I let him get close to the fence and he’s getting more excited, sticking his nose through the holes and into the bushes. Tail wagging like crazy and I’m saying “what’s there boy?”

Can you hear the creepy horror film music in the background? Right around now I hear something in the bushes and the beast actually jumps back a bit and I’m thinking. “Stupid stupid woman” as it dawns on me: If this was a movie this is the point where people are yelling at the screen: “Don’t open that door!” The girl never listens and she always ends up dead. Why the heck is that anyway?

So that was my excitement for the early morning, the beast and I high tailed it out of there as soon as my imagination kicked in and I started hearing the Psycho theme music playing in my head. I have no idea what the boy saw and I think I’m good with that.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September 2, 2010 – Guests, Granola, and Other News

My apologies for not posting yesterday, it turned into a crazy hectic day but I’ll do my best to make up for it today.

First let me tell you that L’s niece and her husband are hoping on a plane this morning to come for a visit. We are VERY excited and have planned a 4 day road trip. Yes an actual, hop in the car and drive places trip. So Saturday morning we head to Italy, Venice, and then we drive across the boot to Cinque Terre and then we head back home. I’ll be sure to keep lots of notes and pictures.

Our guests are “vegans”, normally we could accommodate that fairly easily but considering all the labels in the stores are in German they’ve agreed to relax back into semi-vegetarianism. Seriously, if there aren’t pictures on the labels (and even then sometimes I’m wrong) I have trouble buying the right things; excluding chocolate that I can buy without any difficulty. My only chance at 100% accuracy is fresh fruits and vegetables, oh and the deli-counter because I can point at what I want. Did I tell you the nice Deli counter man has decided he will help me practice my German? He speaks English and last week asked me how I was settling in. I mentioned I was trying to learn the language but that it was difficult because I had no one to practice with. That and people immediately switch to English when they realize your German is terrible. He found that amusing and has said he will only speak German to me. LOL

Oh but in honor of their arrival I have tried my hand at making Granola; Peanut Butter and Dark chocolate Granola, again, not vegan but definitely vegetarian. Besides, even if I screwed it up, it has chocolate and peanut butter in it. Seriously you just can’t ruin that combination.

Other news, I’ve given myself two long range goals for getting in shape. The 1st is that I want to try and get into shape for the Zurich Marathon in April 2011. Yes there are lots of challenges with this particular goal. The primary one being I don’t “love” jogging/running. However, I do love wearing my thin pants and eating brownies so those are two incentives to learn to like jogging/running. The other is I stay more motivated when I run with someone. This is because for me the thing that quits 1st is my mental grip versus my physical ability. To assist in this matter, my neighbor M and I went jogging this morning. I don’t know how far we went, but it was 30 mins of jogging and the 1st 20 mins were uphill. You also have to factor in that I jog s l o w l y. We’re going to do it again tomorrow. Yeah.

Then there is my second goal, which actually will help with the 1st goal and vice versa. In 2008 L and I did a bike tour around the big Island of Hawaii. It was fantastic. A lot of work, but it was the best way to see the Island. Well, the tour group we went with, Women Tours, is doing a tour of the Amalfi Coast in Italy next September, which is another fantastic reason to get back in shape. When we got in shape for the Hawaii tour I found that all the biking improved my running with less wear and tear. I also had a lesser chance of getting bored. So those are my goals. I have until March to make a final decision and actually registering for the Zurich marathon but mentally I don’t want to have to come back here and say I chickened out.

Now it’s back to getting the house ready for guests. I am so excited!

P.S.  Any and all advice on how to stay mentally motivated for training is welcome ;)

P.P.S.  Per Bob's request.. this is the granola receipe but I swapped out the cranberries for raisons

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.