Friday, October 31, 2008

It looks like I robbed Craft Warehouse...but I didn't!

Please pardon me for waxing all Martha Stewart on you in this post, but it's true: my "Villa" (as Uncle Greg dubbed my apartment) looks like I robbed Craft Warehouse and made off like a bandit! I blame yesterday's snow. If it hadn't snowed, I probably wouldn't have felt an itch to go into any florist shops whatsoever, especially not one having a going-out-of-business sale. But it did snow, and that always puts me in festive mood, and I bought some very lovely glass ornaments for my future christmas tree and some other cool stuff. See below. I had to go back today to look for decorations for Janet's wedding reception (since I am co-in-charge of decorations) and I came home with two more bags full.

Oh, one of the things I bought yesterday is a wreath hanger--you know the type that fit over a door? Well! They fit over AMERICAN doors, and this is apparently an american wreath hanger, cuz it sure doesn't fit on any of my swiss doors! Besides that, when the lady was wrapping it up for me, she was like, "oh, this is so nice! No Schwyzer girl knows what to do with these." That figures. Here I thought I was buying a nice swiss-made item...

But those aren't the only crafty things I've recently come into. Today I had lunch with Mary and Janet, and mentioned to Mary that I'm planning to make quilts for the tricycle motors for Christmas. She brought me her fabric pile and let me pick whatever I liked, so I am now abounding in beautiful fabric! I told Mary she's the most generous person I know, and she said, well, God is generous. So he is. I'm making Mary a present now, but shhh! don't tell her. :) I'll post a picture of it after I finish it.

Anyway, why am I like this, hmm? what posesses me to make things and buy useless stuff?!

I've had the Howdy sign since August, but the chicken is new and I think she really adds to it, don't you?

So, it's slightly hard to tell from the picture, but the blue and copper colored ones are going on the tree, and I think the red ones will be hung in the windows.

I feel a quilt coming on...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

some nanny tidbits

I arrived at work today at 7.30 am to find that my hairstyling services were requested by the resident 5 year old in preparation for school picture today. Now, you probably can't understand how flattering it is to be the Beautician of choice for a 5 year old unless you've been in that coveted position yourself, but let me tell you--it beats just about any other sort of job review. By 7.35 I was wielding a hair brush and a set of purple bobbles like a pro, and by the time she walked out the door, she had two pigtails and something intereseting going on with her bangs...basically a compromise between her preference (pin the bangs straight up) and mine (leave them down on her forhead like normal).

Yesterday I was singing "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart" at teeth-brushing time, when they spontaneously started singing along on the chorus. They got the tune down no problem, and most of the words too, although "down in my heart to stay" comes out kinda like, 'down inaaa.....stay," and we're still working on the third verse, because, after all, "I've got the wonderful love of the blessed redeemer down in the depths of my heart" is a mouthful for anyone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

VERY extremely exceptionally exciting news!!

The first very exciting thing is I'm going to run a half marathon in Ireland in March with my lovely Irish friend Valda! That's quite exciting.

The VERY extremely exceptionally exciting and perhaps more immediate news is that BRANDI CARLILE IS PLAYING IN ZURICH NEXT MONTH! WooHOOOO! I'm so going to a concert!!!! Besides the fact that she's a talented singer/songwriter, she also happens to hail from the Evergreen state, and you know how I feel about all things/people Northwest. :) I'm so excited. I see by her tour dates she'll be back in her hometown in time for Thanksgiving. I'm slightly jealous...


Brandi's song Dreams

Thursday, October 23, 2008


So, I was sitting in my "Conflict and Media" seminar this week, listening , when the student presenting said something about "BS-ed" media. "BS media?!" I couldn't figure out what she might mean, until I looked on her handout and discovered she meant "BIASED media." Big difference there...bias versus BS. But, then, once I thought about it, I decided it was a clever might accurately say that "Biased" media is "BS."

In two classes this week, people around me snickered at the presenters' English (and not ironic/funny mistakes like "BS" either--just normal mistakes). In one class, there were two girls presenting and one had noticeably better English than the other. While her partner talked, she had the audacity to smirk and, under her breath, correct the speaker's pronunciation. What a way to treat your partner, huh!? I hate it when they do that to each other--maybe because I readily sympathize with people who struggle to say what they mean in a foreign language. The weird thing, of course, is that the people who laughed still make their share of mistakes and akward constructions too, and have distinct Swiss accents. You'd think they'd remember that.

But...that doesn't mean I'm above appreciating a cute swissism, and one I've heard several times in classes lately is the use of "since ever" to mean "forever" or "since the beginning." I think students are copying it from eachother. That tickles me for some reason, but I make every endeavor to not smile. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Has anyone seen my motivation?

Why is it so tough to stay motivated on all the things I'm supposed to be doing!? I'm getting them done (albeit not as fast as some people would like), but my goodness! I have to lecture myself into homework, drawings, and housework every hour. You know it's bad when you go to bed early to read for class, because at least then you're half-way fooled into thinking you're not still working.

I spent my morning spinning M2 around, dangling her upside down, and singing songs to her. I sing to them in English while they brush their teeth, stopping if they stop brushing, and it makes the chore go SO much smoother. M2's favorite song is the one that in the Last verse goes "I just want to be a sheep (baaa), I just want to be a sheep (baaaa)..." because I pretend I have a tail whenever I say "baaa" and she thinks it's hilarious. She's picking up the songs too--I heard her humming "Deep and Wide" today. So work is going well, and we're having fun together.

I'm off to class in a few minutes, but I've been coming up with ideas for Christmas presents for the girls, and I think I want to make them small quilts. I haven't figured out any details yet, but Aubrey is going to lend me her sewing machine, and I think I will probably make a nine-patch for the little one and a Log Cabin pattern for the older one. And in case you don't know what those look like, here are two examples (but you can put them together lots of different ways):

Log Cabin

Nine Patch

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a terrible book

It's a tragedy. If I'd known that I might not have started it, but it has me in its grips now, and I'm reading literary criticism on a Saturday night, trying to sort out my irritation. I'm halfway in, and this story is seriously not going the way I want it to. One reviewer wrote when the book first came out that, "except during a few hours spent with cows," the book has "not a gleam of sunshine anywhere."

The other book I'm supposed to read this weekend is You Can't Get Lost in Capetown, and that looks like it'll prove to be equally cheerful.

There's a harvest lunch at church tomorrow, and I was all set to make a collard green casserole but for the little problem of arriving at the grocery and not knowing what collard greens are called in German. And since I also don't know what they look like...I made Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy seed dressing, minus the poppyseeds, and biscuits instead.

So, I've been thinking about faith lately for several reasons. One reason is I'm reading a book by Karl Olsson called Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion which talks about the various approaches to the idea of "conversion" that can be found within Christendom, which biblical texts they emphasize, and what we might learn from Christians who hold a different view than we do about what it means to "become a Christian." For me, that topic raises questions about how faith comes to us, how we identify ourselves with Jesus, how we perceive the community of the church, both local and universal, and it's role in our lives, etc. I've skipped around a bit in the book and need to fill in the holes, but that's one thing that has me thinking about faith.

A second reason I've been thinking about this is a conversation I had with the girls' great aunt on Tuesday. She said when the weather is beautiful and she goes for a walk in the woods, she feels that all is right in the world. But, she added, it's not really. There are so many things that are wrong and a general deterioration of the divide between right and wrong, not to mention pain from illness, etc., that sometimes it's hard to pray because it seems like God isn't helping when we ask him to. She said when her husband was in the hospital she found it especially hard to pray, until a friend suggested that God doesn't take all our troubles away, but carries us through them. Although that sounds suspiciously like that rotten footsteps poem, there's truth to the idea for sure: Jesus didn't say we wouldn't have troubles if we follow him. The Aunt brought up Job. Yet he daily bears our burdens if we let him. But who hasn't looked around and wondered if God is really there, or really listening?! She said when she was younger she had a more hopeful outlook on the future, that maybe things would get better. But, the older she gets, the more she feels how far we are from what God has said we ought to be. All this was in German, so I mostly just nodded the affirmative as she talked, but I can sure understand her discouragement.

Finally, as a third factor in my little internal contemplations, I ran across this Brandi Carlile song a few days ago (see below). It's a bit vague in what it's saying about faith, but pulls together an interesting mix of references. First, there's Jesus' comment that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. I think the song invokes the whole story, and the whole idea of redemption and the kingdom of God, not just that line. But the song particularly begs the question: who are 'those like me'? And who is the addressee? Second, there's a reference to the "now I lay me down to sleep, pray the Lord my soul to keep..." prayer, and third a line from "Amazing Grace" turned on it's head. Oh, the possibilities of meaning! :)

I really have no synthesis of these thoughts to share with you...they've just been running laps in my brain while I've been baking biscuits. I like literature because it incarnates abstract truth and theology. I heard someone say recently that truth has to become flesh at some point. We have to see it in the context of the physical world to understand. Much like the Word became flesh and dwelt among us so that men could behold his glory, literature gives flesh and blood to difficult things. The truth dwells among us as the characters we read become real, as if they are our neighbors and friends, their lives stitched into our own.

The guy drew an interesting parallel to how God related to us through Jesus. He said that when God sought to redeem us, he didn't read a conference paper or hold a seminar to tell us something. He did it by coming to our real world, in the flesh: in the physical environment that we understand. Stories are an incarnation in a similar way. I guess that's why I do, in the end, appreciate and like books like Tess and songs like this one...they make me think about ideas and beliefs in terms of their application and implications for everyday life.

Eye of the Needle
Brandi Carlile

Twenty years of pushing pens
Of up the stairs and down again
Should've learned to style my hair
So I could never sleep at night
I've never mastered eating right
Distracted by the skin I wear

And I'm alive in here somewhere
Cause I can feel me twistin'
I'm so far beyond my years
So don't be fooled by today

Hey please, just believe in me
Don't lose your hope so easily
Because passing through the eye of a needle
Isn't as easy as it sounds
For those like me
Yeah yeah

Nothing short of miracles
Can save a small and dying world
That offers no apologies
To lay their hopes and dreams asleep
But pray the Lord their goal [or gold?] to keep
But I still got a soul in me

And old protects ability
And illusions of grandeur
I once was blind but now I see
They got everything for me but grace

Hey please, just believe in me
Don't lose hope so easily
Because passing through the eye of a needle
Isn't as easy as it sounds
For those like me

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Budapest and Bürchen

Rebekkah and I happened to hop the same bus from the train station to church this morning, each of us with a cup of coffee in hand. She was out early enjoying the great weather, and I was out early cuz it's either that train or one that gets me to church late. I enjoyed sharing the bus ride/walk to church with her, and it remminded me that I need to tell you about our excursion to Budapest! So, meet Rebekkah: Charming, petite, sassy pianist who has lived in more countries than I can remember, and who happens to be fluent in Hungarian. I tagged along on her trip to Hungary a few weekends ago. We stayed with a friend in a wonderful, turn of the century apartment Rebekkah's parents own. It's the only place I've ever been where you have to light a fire in the bathroom to get a warm shower.

Rebekkah attended a reunion Saturday, but other than that she showed me around Budapest. I went to the House of Terror museum and learned about Hungary under Fascism and Marxism. It's a good museum, other than the dramatic music that plays in most rooms and interferes with the information.

Coffee and breakfast in the fabulous apartment, which--although in need of a some renovation--with it's wood floors, high ceilings and antiquated fixtures makes a person feel extremely elegant and sophisticated.

That was several weekends ago. This weekend, I headed south to Bürchen in the Wallis Friday night to meet some friends. I finally looked at a map today, and golly! Bürchen is WAY down south. :) who knew. The weather was perfect yesterday, and even though Raph was tired from hiking all week and "had a foot on his blister," he and Lukas and I went for walk in the woods while their other friend stayed at the house to sleep off a bug he caught.

I can't think of a better way to spend the day than in the woods and hills. My busy heart just settles right down and is quiet when I'm out there. We came home yesterday evening, and by that time Raphael was getting sick too, so Lukas and I are hoping we don't get it. A few pictures from our day:

October is my favorite it any wonder why?

Sunshine! Such a beautiful afternoon! I had fun hanging out with these guys and trying to keep up with their swiss german. On some topics I understand a lot, and on others not so much (but it's NOT that I only understand the words that sound like English, contrary to what some people might think!).

We took a little rest and practiced our grass whistling skills...

...and hung from a tree.

I started reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles yesterday on the train, and I really like it! Dad gave me four books by Thomas Hardy back around Christmas time; this is the second one I'm reading, and they're great.

Ok, off I go. I have to finish reading for class. I'm in a lot of Anthropology classes this semester, and it's a whole different crowd that the history bunch...much more earthy. It's almost like I'm in Portland!

Monday, October 6, 2008


Hmm, where to begin. It's hard to know what to write when I haven't writtten anything in forever. I'll start where I left off: the ALPS! Switzerland boasts some really pretty mountains, and we had a great time tramping through them a few weekends back now. We headed south after work on Friday night, taking a train and then a cable car to Reideralp. We stayed at Villa Cassel, a really cool old house that Winston Churchill used to stay in when he came to Switzerland. That alone was enough to convince this little historian to stay there instead of hiking up further to more rugged accomodations. But it was slightly rugged, in a 1915 sort of way. We had a budget room upstairs and had to take the back stairs to get there, but whenever we came up or down to breakfast, showers, etc., we exited the staircase on the fancy floor and imagined we were staying there instead. When the housekeepers weren't looking we peeked in one of the rooms and they had cool period furniture and sinks and everything down there! So next time...I am SO staying in the Winston Churchill room. So I can highly recommend both levels of accomodation, but don't think that just cuz you're staying in a fancy house, you won't need a flashlight! We walked from the cable car station 20 minutes or more up the hill in the foggy darkness sharing Josh's flashlight, cuz, whoops! Aubrey and I kicked out of camping mode as soon as there was a house involved and sort of kind of forgot lights.

The next day we hiked down to the hanging bridge and up the other side of the Ravine. It took us a long time on the slick muddy trails, but we were thankful to not have any accidents!

The bridge we crossed is circled in red, and on the left side you can see roughly where we came from.
We're almost to the top!

The sun joined us for the afternoon, dried our clothes and made the mountain sparkle.

But don't let anyone ever tell you hiking in the rain isn't fun. They probably just want the trails all to themselves.

Interesting supports under the houses.

So...there you have it. An Uncle Ernie? next blog: Budapest! I hope it'll be sort of soon. Say hi to Auntie Evelyn for me! Love y'all!