Saturday, December 29, 2007

Forest Grove--how do I love thee?? Let me count the ways

I know--the "how do I love thee? Let me count the ways..." poem is generally applied to men and not towns, but Forest Grove is more lovable than ever these days. Chalk it up to a case of absence making the heart grow fonder perhaps, but it's a truly delightful place. First of all, they sell peppermint mochas here at every coffee shop or coffee drive-through--something that Arlesheim and Basel should definitely consider emulating. If that isn't wonderful enough, the downtown looks adorable! All lights and little store front windows filled with...I don't know...American stuff. And then there is that hometown "connected" feeling you only get from putting around your own stomping grounds, listening to country music, and waving at every neighbor you see driving the other direction.

We've had snow here all week, including Christmas day. Yesterday my neighbor and oldest friend Steven Nelson and his wife stopped by. Steven is my cousin's cousin (but not my cousin) and we've been friends our whole lives. He said he was thinking he's got three inner tubes that need to be used, so the plan was to get up early and go sledding on the other side of the hill down into the park. It rained too much overnight though, and there wasn't enough good snow left for sledding today, so it's postponed until the next time it snows. But still! How fun! Just planning to go sledding with the neighbors makes my heart happy.

In other Forest Grove news, my Mom's cancer-removal surgery seemed to go well yesterday. Thanks for your prayers (those of you who knew!) She starts radiation soon, and will have 30-some days of that. So I'll keep ya posted on how she's doing. She's supposed to be a lady of leisure and take it easy for a while, but if you know my mother you know that's not likely. We're prepared to bungee-cord her to the couch if necessary.

Pictures of Christmas:

Our tree and my friend Anne, hanging out by the fire (which was actually just candles, but it looks pretty convincing, huh!?)

Ah, cousins. Micah, Annika, Laura,and Steph.

My cousins got Powell's books gift certificates for Christmas, but they had to do one of those little maze puzzles to open the box and get to the money. That kept them busy for a while.

Gregg and Sarah at our house!

My cool Grandpa!! Don't you think he has a great smile!?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

'fess up!

Alright, who's the wiseguy who voted for Oregon after I already said it was Oregon?? Cheaters never prosper you know, or so the saying goes. In reality, it's a debatable point. I might have prospered more, for instance, if I had cheated on my ethnography exam today. "Who was the Ethnographer who made the Zande famous?" "what does perpetual kinship refer to?" How should I know!! :) Actually, I think I did ok on the latter question, but there were some tough ones on that test! Oh well. It's pass/no pass, so I should be more than safe, but I really think I was a better student when I was younger--back when I lived in fear of my teachers. Now that I'm older and presumably wiser, it's a rare teacher who can strike terror into my heart (Bill Jolliff still can!), but I seem to have lost my better study habits and motivation along with the anxiety. I'll have to muster up some gumption or find some scarier teachers for next semester.

Speaking of next semester, I have decided on my classes. I'm taking two complementary history courses on Apartheid in South Africa with the fabulous (but not very scary) Patrick Harries. I'm also taking Current Topics in Epidemiology at the Tropical Institute, two literature courses--one on the image of white in Africa and the other on African American lit., a course on Governance, the city tour course again, and, just for kicks, a class on International Conflict and Globalization which is in German. But no matter. Some of the readings are in English, and it's a lecture course so if I dont quite follow I can figure it out later without worrying about having to participate in German.

The family I clean for just posted a new ad for a cleaning lady on the university web site. What do you think THAT means?? I emailed and said I saw the ad and asked if there's anything he wants to tell me... :) So if I wasn't fired before, I probably am now!! The whole story is quite interesting...I'll tell ya about it sometime.

Ok, I'm outta here. Ciao.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poll results!

Even though there are two days left to vote, technically, I think everyone who is likely to vote probably has, so I'll end the suspense that I know you have all been waiting in and just tell you. That's a picture of David Hill Winery about 10 minutes from Mom and Dad's house in the great state of Oregon!! :) fooled you!!! But not four of you, I see. I shamelessly procured that photo off the winery's website last week when I was looking for a good Oregon picture to post on my blog.

Gregg (who voted for Germany because he said Switzerland would have been too obvious) said, "why would you put a picture of Oregon on your Switzerland blog?" I said because I felt like it, but there were two reasons really. First, I'm headed home Monday, and I wanted all of you here to see where I'm headed! Second, it really does look a lot like the landscape here (as evidenced by so many votes for CH and DE)! It's easy to overlook the beauty around us and dream of visiting someplace far away, like Switzerland or like the States, when one is just as pretty as the other. So take the time to enjoy the view out your own window today! There are some great views to soak up!

Daniel was surprised that we grow wine in Oregon--thought it rained too much there. It's true, it does rain a lot in Western Oregon, but the area has been gaining noteriety for wine ever since an Oregon Pinot Noir beat fancy pants France in a wine contest. If you're interested in wine, here's an intro to Oregon wine, and if you go to the press room and click photo credits, you'll see some more lovely pictures of my favorite state.

ok, 'nuff about that.

So, back to my brother's observation that putting an Oregon photo on a Switzerland blog didn't make any sense. I was reading a Time magazine article yesterday about birth order and how it affects children. It could be argued that Gregg's little comment supports one of the main distinctions of oldest children, which is that they have higher IQ than later-borns. I'm sure Gregg would agree, at least. Time's report seems to hold true for last borns in our family's case too--Brian is indeed very funny and agreeable. Middle children, however, are supposed to have low self-esteem and get less attention, and in some cases, depending on how successful the older kids are, middle kids are more prone to drinking themselves to death, like Teddy Roosevelt's little brother did. So...if my self-esteem plummets and I take up drinking (oregon wine, anyone?!), blame it on being the middle kid. :) and that goes for my IQ too.

And on that note, I'm off to study!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tests and such

Hi Friends!
I have a test shortly, and it's been a long time since I had a real, academic test! I'm not sure if I'm ready not, but I am about as readz as I'm going to be, because I have another class before the test. So wish me well, and if you happen to be awake and see this before noon, please pray that I remember the things I studied.

Last night I studied at Janet's house and we sorta kinda forgot to check when the last tram was leaving. By the time we checked, it was five minutes gone already, so I had to spend the night. We were rustling around getting blankets and stuff and Esther (older lady from Belgium) heard us and came out of her room to talk. She said it was better I wasn't going home so late anyway-it could be dangerous and some man could get me. I said I would have put on my grumpy face, my tried and true defense against strange men on public transportation, but she said she thought Jesus' protection probably had more efficacy than my grumpy face. "Ok," I said. "Jesus and my grumpy face." She didn't seem too convinced. Anywhoo, so I had a short night's sleep, but I feel pretty good today. It's like Janet said--it's amazing how if you don't get enough sleep at all you feel ok!! Much better than if you got almost enough sleep!

Ok, I'm going to use my last half hour to study. Have a great day. For those of you who reside across the pond, the countdown is on!! I will see you lucky people, you. =) Be sure to check out the poll on the right, too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

To blog, or not to blog...

Alright, alright. I am long overdue, I know. I haven't blogged because I have so much to say! It makes it tough to decide what to write about, you know?? I'm coming home in TWO WEEKS! WOOHOOO! I am looking forward to my month and a half at home, but I'm really starting to think about how much I will miss people here too! I moved with some apprehension about how I would like it in Switzerland, if I would find friends, manage the language, etc., but God has been so kind to give me friends that I love here and a "home" in Switzerland to miss! By the time I come back in February, I'm sure I will be excited to see everyone again. That's a good feeling.

School is winding down for the semester. I have 4 exams (starting with Ecology on Friday), a couple papers and one presentation yet to do, plus the usual reading prep for some classes. So it'll be a busy week. Today in my favorite history class we had a guest speaker from Rhodes U. in South Africa talking about labor history, trade unions, the industrial revolution--great stuff!!! But anyway...back to what I was saying. Saturday I had an all day seminar (what is with Graduate school and Saturday classes! Seriously!). Later that night I ended up going out to Benningen to see Janet and bake REAL chocolate chip cookies (you can't buy chocolate chips or proper brown sugar here, you know, but mom sent me some). Janet lives with this older lady who also had a friend (another older lady) visiting from Belgium. Veronika taught Janet to make Basler Läkerli, a bar cookie that is traditional here in town. Recipe if you want to try it out: It's pretty good! And Veronika and Esther were both quite interested in our chocolate chip cookie concoction which we managed sans pastry cutter, since also can't buy those here.

Oh, but before we baked, Janet and I went with them to go see the Bottmingen castle all decked out in lights. It has a moat and everything! Check out the pictures, especially the ones toward the bottom (you have to scroll down). That's what it looked like Saturday night, except with no snow. Janet and I shared a "hey! We live in Europe!!" moment, and Esther from Belgium kept chattering away and saying every so often that her English was TERRIBLE (it was great, actually) and telling us we need to find Swiss boyfriends to take us to dinner at the castle. We didn't disagree. I am having tons of fun hanging out with Janet! We share a good bit in common--home schooled, adventurous American girls who like school but like doing being domestic a bit more, and we both have a lot of funny and remarkably similar stories about would-be romances gone awry. Janet was a math major though! That's more adventurous than I am, that's for sure. Her German is also speeding along much faster than mine, partly because she's been here longer, goes to school in German, and talks German with her land lady who is less English-confident than my land lady. Plus I suspect she has a better knack for languages than I do. So I do my best to understand what I hear (I do understand quite a bit!), and I hope eventually I will really be able to say what I want to say in German too. I was thinking today that before I go home I should learn to say a paragraph in both Swiss German and in High German so I can demonstrate the difference to y'all. Mostly so you can sympathize with me...cuz Schwitzer Deutsche is some tough stuff!

Hey, I got a job! yeah, forgot to mention that. I am working in the French-speaking town of Delémont for a diet supplement company called SANKOM. SANKOM's claim to fame at the moment is that it was one of the products that went in the Hollywood gift bag at some award show recently...So you're talking to the newest member of their writing/editing/proofreading/layout/copy-maker/paper-shredder team. It looks like it's going to be a pretty good part-time job, and I wont be working very many hours a week--probably about nine-ish.

So, you want to know what's weird?? In Basel, Santa shows up on Dec. 6th and brings nuts and chocolate and clementines for the kids (and for me too! I didn't even have to send a forwarding address!). He talks to each kid about what he or she has done well, and what they need to improve. And there is a foreboding looking Bishop in a long black cloak standing by, with a switch in his belt for the kids who have been very bad. Simon had a friend's family over, and Santa had a word with each of them. The poor friend! When it was his turn for his talk with Santa, sweat was rolling down his face. Our Simon looked pretty chagrined too...especially when Santa told him he needs to stop throwing fits in the morning when it's time to get up and go to school. I was even glad to hear that one! Not a big fan of fits across the hall at 6 am. What's odd though, is that the roll of St. Nik and Jesus are almost swapped here--kids take Santa very seriously, and literally write letters to the Christ child telling him what they want for Christmas. And it's the Child, not Santa, that brings the tree and all the presents on Christmas. It's a strange idea to me, and seems like a distraction from what a treasure of a gift Jesus himself is. On the other hand, there is a much bigger emphasis here on the advent season and even at school there are advent candles and such. It's interesting to see how other people prepare for Christmas and what they emphasize.

That's what's goin' on, more or less! talk to you soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

happy Santa Claus day!

Santa stopped by today. He comes on the 6th here and brings nuts and oranges for the kids, and gives each one a talk about the things they have done well this year and the things they need to improve. I'll have to tell you all about it later, because I have more homework than a kid in detention....but I wanted to say hi. Oh, and I got a job proofreading/editing, so I'm thankful for that. :) Till I talk to you....all my love.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Starbuck' least I got a free drink

Well, we just have to wait and see, but I don't think I got the Starbucks job. The information session was in German (Swiss German, no less) so I only understood maybe 50% of that. Then we filled out a questionaire, and the questions were in German. I wrote my answers in English, but hopefully they will take note of the fact that I understood the questions! That should count for something right?? My interview was in English, but I don't think they were real thrilled about it. I can't really blame them...I mean, they have to hire someone who can talk to the customers. They were concerned that I don't have any background in the hospitality or service sector, which I think is hardly a problem. I told them I sold peaches for a farmer one summer, but other than that, not really. =) So I will call tomorrow to get an answer, but five bucks says it's a no.