Friday, June 27, 2008 old Indian word for "Very poor hunter"

My cousin Beth called at 9:30 tonight to ask if she could come over for a visit. I said sure--I'm not feeling especially well and planned to go to bed around 11:30 or Midnight, but she was welcome to come anyway if that was ok with her. She said she'd find some clothes and be on her way. Beth lives over in Boring, which is about an hour away if you drive straight here, and a good bit longer if you miss the I-84 West exit, which she accidentally did. The good thing about missing exits and wandering all over Portland is that a person quickly learns which mistakes not to make. She'll probably never miss that exit again (I've only missed it once myself). Anyway, so a little after 11 she showed up, and we were snacking on fabulous Tillamook cheese when she informed me she's not a vegetarian anymore. "Really!" I said. I was quite taken aback. She's been a vegetarian for years! The only one in the family,in fact, but she's been quite consistent in it for all this time, and then suddenly, it seemed, out of nowhere she was renouncing it. "What made you decide to stop?" I asked her. "Hmmm," she said, reflecting as she took a bite of cheese. "It was mostly chicken pot pie." I could hardly believe that was her real reason. Vegetarians are usually a bit more ideology-driven than that! Sure enough, when pressed, she admitted that clam chowder had also been a factor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


(Retroactive to yesterday at the airport, when I couldnt get internet...)

Halfway home, at the airport in Philly. It’s ten pm in Basel, and I’m running on about 4 hours of sleep, and let me tell you, I am pooped! Carrying my luggage has been a workout. So I’m sipping some cheap black coffee (uggh) and enjoying talking to strangers and understanding every word they say! Oh, and speaking of strangers…I made a couple friends. I shared the middle row on my last flight with two guys a little younger than me from Zurich who are heading for California to stay with a host family and study English for two months. As usual with Swiss folk, we mostly talked English, but we did make a fairly valiant effort at practicing my German too. Now, I’m starting to think I ought to make better use of my foreign accent. They couldn’t get over my charming pronunciation and kept asking me to “say ‘schlaf gut’ again” or “say ‘spreche,’” and then “Awwh, it’s so cute. We like it.” Anyway, umm, Mom and Dad? I might have kind of invited them to come visit in Oregon. Hope you don’t mind. They seem nice…and it’s just like when we used to have Japanese students come…we didn’t know them either, and that always worked out ok. :D And I couldn’t stand the thought of MORE Swiss going to Cali and missing out on the Great Northwest.

Sooo…let’s see..what else is going on? I considered buying a coo coo clock on a whim at the airport. It’s on my list of things to buy before I move away from Switzerland, but it’s a good thing I didn’t buy one today cuz my hands are kinda full as it is, especially since my bag broke and it requires near full attention to keep everything with me. I’ve also been thinking it’s a good thing I’m getting this travel bug worked out of my system while I’m young and chipper, because I’ve been watching some of the older people travel and it looks a lot harder at 60+.

Ok, that’s all for now! More later.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

1.5 million down, half a million to go

Hi! Thought you'd all like to know my to-do list is shaping up quite nicely. Things are getting finished up and checked off and in no time at all I'll be on a train skipping town! I'm flying out of Zurich for the first time. In fact, this will be my first time in Zurich at all. Do airports count though? Probably not.

Anyway, I'm writing this post partly to inform you that in my next post, I might include music...So in case it would annoy you to stumble across that unexpectedly, consider yourself forewarned.

We have had splendid weather this weekend! Yesterday I took a break from packing to go swimming at Birsköpfli with a friend from school. First, we had to go swimsuit shopping, cuz I didn't have one here. I've decided that from now on, I'm always going to do my swimsuit shopping on the way to swimming. A little pressure makes the decision ten times easier. I picked a suit and shorts probably within 20 minutes--record swimsuit shopping time I'm pretty sure. So I bought my suit and changed at the store and then we hoofed it across town through crowds of Orange soccer fans toward the pool, since we had been told the river-access place for swimming was closed during the games. The pool was closed too, but a nice traffic control guy pointed us toward Birsköpfli and off we went. Swimming in the river beats the pool anyway. We had to ask directions a couple times, and that proved to be a fiasco. We knew we were going to get lousy directions when people asked if Claudia could please speak High German (one guy thought we were looking for beers). We ended up walking almost 2 hours, bumping into a classmate, stopping for ice cream, and fully giving up before we happened across the swimming hole. By that time it was 5 o'clock, so we waded in and cooled down but didn't really swim, per se. It's a nice place though! Kind of a lot of people, but still not too bad, and it was nice to spend some time with Claudia.

Ok, I was mostly just posting to remind all you lucky Oregonians that we get to see each other in as few as TWO days! Just two days! Woohooo! :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2 million things to do before Tuesday

Gregg asked today if I've totally abandoned my blog, so I thought I'd better make an appearance before I lose my readership. I'm still alive and kicking...I've just been a wee bit busy these last couple weeks finishing up school, working, helping at camp, getting ready to both move and go home, and learning copious amounts of German grammar and vocabulary on top of it all. As previously mentioned, I'm taking German classes every day now, and while I'd like to say that my German is AMAZING (as I predicted), I'm afraid the people who have helped me on my homework would call foul. So let's just say that my German is coming along and expanding in all directions. Just today, for instance, I understood a 3 year old on the tram, ordered my food in German (and got what I wanted, which is the real accomplishment!) and managed to follow 2/3 of the dialog in a DuckTales episode with no subtitles.

So, wanna know what I have to do this week? Well, for starters, I have a quiz tomorrow, and then a test on Thursday. I'm ready for the Quiz but naturally not the test (it's only Tuesday!). I have two evil papers that have been hounding me for weeks now, and I'm planning to bust one of them out just as soon as I'm done with this. Then at some point I need to pack up my room, mean, it's just a room, how hard can it be, right?! Well,that's what I used to think in college too, but it's impressive just how much I can fit in one little bitty bedroom. Add to that the minor complications of no boxes, no car trunk, and no laundry basket (my tried and true transport method in college), I'm left with a pile of Migro bags, one backpack, a suitcase, and a couple of banana boxes. yup. Then I also have 2 papers to edit for my recently acquired editing internship with my department, and a picture or two I'd like to draw, but those are starting to look sketchy. heh heh..get it...sketchy. :) I'm also scheduled to visit Mr. and Mrs. O and family in Germany, catch two soccer games(Thursday night with some girls, and Monday night with some other friends who are enthusiastically setting me up with their 28 year old Med-School cousin from Oklahoma. Oklahoma is a really long ways from both Basel and Oregon, so I'd say it's not looking good for mister Medschool, but I'm sure we'll all have a lovely time anyway). I guess that's not quite 2 million things to do but it kind of feels like that many.

I went to a bad taste party last week! That was fun. We were celebrating the June birthdays in my Bible study, and we were supposed to show up in awful clothes. Valda, Janet, Stephan and Aubrey wore really outrageous yet creative outfits. I might be able to rustle up some pictures from somebody and add them later. I wanted to go dressed like a homeschooler, but I didn't have a jumper. Instead I tried to go for the more subtle bad taste look--the outfit that somebody might very well try to wear, but that really shouldn't be worn. It was only moderately successful though. Richard said, "Steph, didn't anyone tell you it was supposed to be a bad taste party?" And in retrospect, I maybe should have worn socks with my flip-flops to clear up any ambiguity about whether or not I thought I matched.

Here are a few pictures from the Sunday School camp a couple weeks back. The theme was "Romans" and most of our activities somehow related to the theme.

Jeremiah, painting his teams "chariot" (aka balloon-propelled milk carton with wheels) in preparation for the races.

Chariot races. There are winners...and there are chariots that didnt't go.

Dressed up for our Roman-style "banquet" (Saturday night dinner).

One very cute little Roman soldierette.

I think we coulda fit a couple more girls yet on that swing...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Paris (FINALLY!)

‘bout time I wrote about my trip to Paris, don’t you think? In Paris we stayed on the 5th floor of a proper hotel (our accommodations got better as the trip progressed!). Our room was cute and bright, and we had our own bathroom (also a first for the trip). It was small, but that has its advantages. For instance, here Ashley demonstrates how our bathroom was cleverly designed to enable a person to sit on the pot, wash ones hands, and simultaneously wash both feet in the shower.

Think of the time we’d save if we all had bathrooms like that! The hotel had other perks too. You know that in some hotels at least in the U.S. you can ask for a companion goldfish to stay with you during your visit? Jessica and I did this at the Benton Hotel in Portland once. Well, in this hotel they had companion pets too, but they were CATS!! Five times better than a goldfish. Here I am making friends with one who reminded me very much like Grandma’s cat Sampson.

We made extraordinarily good use of our Museum passes in Paris, hitting a grand total of 7 museums on our best day, plus a number of others on other days. My favorite was predictably the Museé D’Orsay, where we saw paintings by Renoir, Degas, Monet, etc.--all the famous and the slightly-less-famous French impressionists. We visited the Eiffel tower and took the stairs to the top. Sought out the must-sees in the Louvre. Munched crepes in a park. Climbed the Arc D’Triumph stairs and another 387 steps up the Notre Dame tower to see the view. Notre Dame is much more controlled now than it was last time I was in Paris—they now have one way traffic on the stairs, with an escort accompanying each group to the top, a 5 minute time limit for people on the top, and an escort back down the stairs. We followed a couple of American highschool guys up, and do you think they spent their five minutes enjoying the panorama of Paris? Nope, they were preoccupied with the grounding strip contraption and what kind of metal the bell was made out of (bronze, in case you were wondering).

Now if you’re headed for Paris, of course you should do all the obvious things, but if you get the museum pass there are lots of less obvious yet memorable things you can do. For instance, I’d recommend visiting the Postal Museum if you can understand French and if you find postal systems interesting. It’s not a very crowded museum (surprise, surprise), but I thought it was quite nice and great for kids (if they speak French). You should also try to squeeze in a sewer tour. You can learn all about the city’s waste management system, how they dredge the passages, the treatment plants, the whole works. And all this while walking on grated floors through the sewer tunnels, with the real artifacts passing beneath your feet. Just try not to think about what would happen if the floor fell through. The same American boys from Notre Dame happened to visit the sewer when we did, and again, we noticed a distinct gender difference in our tourism approaches. Ashley and I covered our noses and read each explanation board. The guys stoically bore the full smell and cracked crude (but funny) bathroom jokes the whole way.

Push, Steph, push!

Ashley doing Indiana Jones. Yep! We're still in the sewer!

We saw some ancient ruins under the city too! that was cool. Not part of the Sewer tour, but also on the museum pass.

The "Flying Buttresses" on Notre Dame always make me think of Butleresses (i.e. girl butlers) in little black and white outfits zooming around the Cathedral, a bit like the fairies in Snow White.

A view of the Eiffel Tower from the top of Notre Dame

Monet's water lilies in the l'Orangerie gallery. He painted these when he was rather old, and losing his eyesight. (I think my feet look unaturally large in this photo...even more so than usual, that is. What do you think?)

We went out to see Monet's house and Gardens in Giverny, where he painted his famous water lily pictures.

The Thinker, and another nice sculpture from Rodin. Who knew sculptures could be so entertaining!?

Ok, that's it for now. Tune in next time when I will tell electrifying tales from camp!