Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New bloggers on the map

Two posts in one day? (Yes, there's another one below!) Am I overdoing it?

On Sunday evening while going through my mailbox, I discovered an e-mail invitation from Expatraveler (thanks ET!!) to a link called LinkedIn, a business oriented social networking site, mainly used for professional networking. It’s really great! This is not an official advertisement, so if you want to know more about it, here’s a Wiki-link.

Anyway, through this network, I found one of my former work colleagues from 10+ years back and decided to contact him, just to see what he was up to. This morning, I received a reply from him and read that he just recently started a blog. Brian is a Scottish expat living in Germany.

Another new blogger is The Big Bear. You might have read him in my comments before. For now, his blog is in German only, but maybe he will decide at some point to do short bilingual posts.

So. Go ahead. Don’t be shy and say hello to our newcomers.

Good food and good friends - Can it get any better?

Food is something that should always be celebrated, no matter how simple or complicated the preparations are, don’t you agree? The best thing, however, is food in combination with good friends and lots of laughter.

Last weekend, we were invited to Martin and Yvonne’s for a fondue chinoise We were greeted by our lovely hosts, and then by their dog, Nanook (Inuktitut for polar bear), a beautiful, young Berger Picard. I’m by no means big, but… Man! Did you see the size of his bed?


The weather was quite mild so we had the aperitif outside and then went inside for dinner. A fondue, no matter what kind, is what I would describe as “real social get together” meal and requires only little preparation. As host, you are with your guests all the time. Genuine good fun! See for yourselves.


Martin and Yvonne

The girls

The boys

Did I mention the laughter?


On Monday, the Big Bear (you might have read him in my comments) helped me prepare an Indian dinner. Because it does take some preparation and he wanted to be there to learn how to do it, we decided to actually do all the preps a day in advance and have the meal the next day. It also gave the lovely spices time to really get into the meat, respectively, into the dal.



All I had to do on the Tuesday was set the table, prepare the side dishes that I wanted to have done fresh (rice, roti bread and green beans) and warm up the curry and chick peas. Here’s what we had:

- Roti (flat bread)
- Cucumber Raita (Yoghurt with cucumber and fresh herbs and spices)
- Hot Indian Chicken Curry “my way” (adapted from an Indian friend’s recipe)
- Saffron basmati rice
- Chana Dal (Chick pea curry)
- Beans Porial (Stir-fried green beans in coconut and spices)
- Mango Mousse

On Sunday, we were invited to an ex-colleague’s for lunch. Pierre lives in a cosy village in the Alsace, about 20km from Mulhouse. Now let me tell you that the French take a Sunday lunch very seriously. Usually, it starts around 11:30/noon with an aperitif and munchies from where one moves on to the dining area around 1pm, and you don’t get out of the table until 5pm.

I kid you not! We ate from the moment we got in until 4pm. NON Stop! We had olives, nuts and shrimps with the aperitif, followed by a salad with crayfish and mussels (OX had my mussels), pork cutlets with a lovely estragon sauce and mushrooms, a cheese plate and finally, fresh strawberries for desert and coffee. Around 4pm we decided we needed to take a short walk to help digest all the food (and fortunately, this was a light meal version. Did you notice? No mention of potatoes or pasta!). We had an awesome time with Pierre and his friend, Fran├žoise.

I wish I could have taken photos of the French dining experience, but I unfortunately forgot the camera memory stick in my laptop. Duh! I’m just glad that we have another two weeks to loose the extra weight we put on until our next outing… We’ll be having an Australian dinner at The Boomerang with TBF’s.

Don’t you just love food and good company to go with it?

Monday, February 26, 2007

***CS-MOM UPDATE***

I spoke to my Mom last night and she is doing much better and her mood is very good.

The weights to support her head have been removed last Friday and she’s sitting upright, now. She’s still wearing her “Aero-spatial” gear (helmet and brace), but if all goes well, she can get rid of that in a couple of days. But first, she has to walk again, so I think she'll have to stay at least until end of this week.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We are cool again

Yup. This morning, our new refrigerator/freezer was delivered.

The Bauknecht service administration called me yesterday to let me know that the delivery truck would be in our region between 9 and 11 am. At 9:15, the doorbell rang (I almost consider this being late for Swiss ....) and to my surprise, there was only one tiny, thin man (about 5'6") standing outside with a tool box. I kept the door open and stuck my head outside after I had let him in, thinking that someone would follow him with our new fridge, and with a short laugh, he said: "There's no one else. Just me."

I must say, our refrigerator/freezers here do not have the dimensions of North American ones, but still, we have many stairs here (split level house) and I wondered how he'd take it down one flight of stairs to the entrance and up two again on his own. After dismanteling the cover panels and pulling out the old fridge, he went out to the truck. I saw him coming back with the new refrigerator strapped on somekind of a trolley. No problem to get to the entrance; we have a bicycle ramp, but then will he ruin our wooden stairs with his trolley? Nope. All of a sudden, I heard an electric motor and see here; he had a stair climber built in to the trolley.

Anyway, the new fridge is installed, filled up again and it works. The one downstais is happy with only wine, beer and non alcoholic drinks. The only thing we have to get used to now is that the freezer part is on the top (and we used to have 3 drawers that I will miss) and the fact that I will probably be running down three flights of stairs to the extra fridge in the coming days for nothing, purely out of habit.

But hey, we're cool again.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Helpless

I’ve never done this on a blog before, but I really feel helpless. I’m sorry if I am difficult to read tonight, but it’s late, I’m very tired and I feel completely off course.

On Saturday, I received a call from my Mom, which I missed because we were out. When I got home, I listened to her cheerful voice on the answering machine and decided I’d call back on Sunday evening (early afternoon EST Canada). I did. When my Mom picked up the phone, I knew something was wrong and she was in BIG pain. Her neck was hurting. At first I thought: A stiff neck. Then she told me that she fell and couldn’t remember a thing. Obviously, she hit her head when falling. I was very worried and told her to call my best friend, who happens to a) be a very close friend of my Mom’s as well, and 2) lives two minutes from her by car. “I don’t know” she said. “She has a life of her own. I don’t want to bother her.” My reply was: “Then I’ll call her. Keep the phone close by. I’ll let you know. ” I did call Chris. She wasn’t home, but her husband was, and I left the message for her to call or go by and see after my Mom’s condition ASAP. As soon as she got home, she called my Mom and told her to get dressed right away. When Chris got there, she knew immediately that my Mom needed care and took her to the emergency. And not too late, for that matter! She was x-rayed and scanned, and the docs discovered that she had broken her C2 (cervical 2) vertebrae! Luckily, her nerves were not injured or damaged, so no sign of paralysis. But imagine if she had "slept" another night with that injury.

She was immediately transferred to Ottawa and she’s doing ok. I called the hospital tonight (and my call was transferred about 15 times before I got to the nurse in charge. Stupid receptionnists!). She’s wearing a halo traction to keep her from moving her head and I’m sure it’s not the nicest thing to wear, but when I spoke to the nurse, she was talking to my mum and she (my mum) said: “Tell her I look like an angel. I’m wearing a halo.” And I cried. I didn’t know if it was out of sorrow, or her sense of humour.

She’s doing ok, now, but….Damn! I feel helpless! I'm so far away! And I’m terrified.

***UPDATE***

First of all, I want to thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers and recovery wishes for my Mom.

I haven't had a chance to talk to her personally yet, because a) her phone is not yet been installed in her room and B) because she's still in that halo traction harness, but she's doing pretty well and her mood is good, (considering the pain and that very uncomfortable position). The last I've hear is that she will now undergo a number of tests incl. cardiograms and they now think that she suffered a small heart attack, which caused her fall. She does have a heart condition (valve and two bypasses), so it is a possibility. I'll keep you in the loop.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The “Ladies, dump it!” Meme and a related subject

My dear Canadian friend Kim from Stepping Stones tagged a few of us blogging ladies including Christina, Expat Traveler, Dixie Peach, Cyndi and Jen (sorry girls, but we have to stick together, right?). Kim, of course, did it, too. (Uhhh... You carry tea in your purse??) And it looks like I'm going to be first to post, too. Do I get a prize for it, Kim? ;)

The rules are as follows:

· Take a photo of the handbag/purse that you are using today
· Dump it out and take another photo
· Make a list of everything in your bag
· And now the most embarrassing… Post it on your blog.

So, here it is: my handbag. Not very big (about 30x18x10cm, or 12x7x4 inches), but you will be surprised to see what I can fit in there.


Now for the content (for your entertainment):



- Chewing gum
- Kleenex tissues
- Sunglasses (with case - in photo, (mis)used as Kleenex and chewing gum case)
- Photo of my Dad’s second wedding
- Lighter
- Lip balm
- Car papers
- Pen
- Canadian Passport (still in there from our last trip to Canada?? Now safely put away.)
- Boarding card slips from our last trip to Canada (were in my passport)
- Cell phone
- Bulky wallet - due to too many cards (discount/shopping/debit/credit/health/business, etc.), too much small change, the last 3 days' shopping lists, and a few old grocery store receipts
- Keys (one set for the house and car and one set for the garage)
- Last, but not least… a tampon (I know, I’m always prepared)

There.

Kim was also asking if she her hubby was the only one to have a phobia about looking for something in her purse. The answer is: No. You are not alone. OrangeX used to be like that, too, until I got angry and told him to just pick whatever he needed out. Today, he just asks first and takes whatever he needs. I know however, that some women are allergic to anyone (not to mention their hubby) getting even near their precious handbag/purse and go into a humungous fit about it should the "scoundrel" attempt to do so. I don’t get it.

And why should men need something from their spouse’s purse, you ask? Because when couples go out, the spouses often carry the men’s keys, wallets and anything else that would look absurd if it were all stuffed in the front and/or back pocket of their trousers. This brings me to the next point.

I have now considerably reduced the size (and weight when going out) of my handbags because O-X has gotten himself not one, but two man bags. And today, he never leaves the house without it. He has everything in there: mobile phone, wallet, keys, cigarettes, lighter, papers, etc. AND it does not look ridiculous (unless the male wearing it looks ridiculous to start with). It will only make you look (and feel) strange if you don’t wear it with a certain confidence. It’s by far better than having strange and unnatural looking bulges all over the mid-part of your body.

So. Women, stand up for your rights. Why should you be the one to carry everything on a night out?

And men, what is this phobia with the wife’s handbag anyway? If you (or she) have that much of a problem with it, get yourself a man bag.

Now, go see what the other ladies are carrying around. I will.

PS: I'm not tagging anyone, but if you feel like it, go ahead ladies (and men with man bags are welcome to join as well)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Frozen goods first!

Last Friday, I was at my computer in the dining room when all of a sudden, I heard a loud sound, something like „Rrrrr -Ra-Ta-Thump“ coming from the kitchen. I checked and everything seemed normal again. I was pretty sure that it came from the fridge, though.

On Saturday afternoon, I went to the kitchen to take out some milk and noticed that it was not very cold. I verified the setting, but it was still in 3, so it should have been cold enough. I could still hear the motor running and the light was on, so it couldn’t be a fuse. Odd. I then checked in the lower freezer part. O-ooooh! The ice cubes in the top drawer were already starting to melt. OrangeX and I immediately took the still frozen goods down to the basement in our second refrigerator-freezer. Luckily, we didn’t have very much in the kitchen freezer and only a few items had to be thrown away. Next thing to do was to transfer the contents of the kitchen fridge and bring them downstairs as well.

First thing on Monday morning, I called our real estate management company (we rent our house) and an hour later, I received a phone call from the repairman himself, who said that he could come by at 1:15 that same day. At 1:10 pm (typically Swiss), the doorbell rang and at 1:25 pm, he was out again. Diagnosis: After 13 years of service, our Bauknecht refrigerator has passed away, kicked the bucket, bitten the dust. May it rest in peace. Amen.

Anyway, we’ll be getting a new refrigerator-freezer, hopefully, by the end of this week. I can’t wait. I’m sick of running up and down the stairs every time to pick something out of the fridge!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

U.F.O. Sightings

Last Thursday, Orange-X came home from work with a parcel under his arm.

"What's that?", I asked.

"You'll see. Just give me a second.", he replied.

He dropped his laptop bag in the home office, took off his coat and proceeded to unpack the mystery box. The object revealed itself.

Me: A mini remote-controlled helicopter??

O-X: Yes! Isn’t it cute? I ordered it back in November last year.

Me: (rolling eyes) Oh. Yeah, sure…. But what are you going to do with it?

O-X: (wide grin) Put in batteries, charge the chopper and let it fly, of course.

Me: Let it fly where?

O-X: Well, in the house. It’s for indoor use only, you know.

Me: Oh… Uhm. Great. I’m not sure that Dale will be fascinated by a mini ‘copter buzzing around his ears, though.

We didn’t have any batteries left, so I was kindly requested to get a few for the remote on my next trip to the grocery store. So yesterday evening, OrangeX finally decided to try out his new toy.

The first attempts were not very successful. The mini-helicopter just spun around on its own axel without leaving the floor. After a while, Orange managed to keep it steady enough to take off. It did, however, bounce numerous times against the walls and/or the ceiling. The buzzing sound and blinking blue light almost drove me nuts. Not to mention poor Dale who was hiding behind the sofa, terrified and hissing. I finally decided to relieve him of his misery and let him out on the terrace in the rain (Dale, not O-X) from where he could still follow the action in all security behind the patio door.


A terrified kitty


Nevertheless, I felt it was my duty to play along and at least take a few pictures. Sorry for the bad quality, but it’s quite a task to catch a U.F.O. (Uncontrolled Flying Object) twirling about the apartment without any known target (except maybe the photographer).


We have a liftoff!




O-ooh! Ready to crash-land on the sofa?


*sigh* This little-big boy will just never grow up! I guess that’s why I love him so much.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Meet Cousin Spooky

Is it safe?? CS is in the kitchen preparing dinner, Orange-X is out on a business trip and CS' laptop is open and on. Great stuff! *grinning and rubbing paws*

Ok. When my CS & O-X returned from their trip to Canada, CS took me on her lap and showed me a picture of my cousin, Spooky. Let me tell you, this feline carries his name. He's a real big fella! Spooky big!

Younger Cousin Spooky lives with his humans, CS' cool relatives, Sylvain and Gail, and their daughter Catherine (they apparently hate titles like uncle and aunt). They say that last summer, Spooky weighed about 10.5 kg (23 pounds), but since it was winter and he hates the cold (=doesn't get as much exercise), CS guessed that he probably had a pound or two more on him.

Man! I thought King da Cat (he adopted the TBFs) and I were big! But look at this.
Isn't he awsome!

Click on picts to enlarge

Hey guys, let's have a party! King, you follow TBF to his car when he drives to visit Andy and Di, Spooky, you sneak into Catherine's luggage when she comes over to Europe in a few weeks. I'll organise the rest, and bring a few mice and some Iams for you King. *stre-e-e-e-etch*

Oh, fringgin' cat whiskers! Gotta go. I hear CS coming.

E-Mail me: dale2006ch@hotmail.com

Sunday, February 04, 2007

It's all coming back to me now

I’ve been trying all week to write more about our trip to Canada. Mostly, we met with family and friends and every day was special. I found it difficult write about all these moments spent with loved ones and keeping it relatively concise. There is also the “you had to be there” issue to be considered. What I might do instead, are “Flashbacks” – something that I have seen on other blogs. Otherwise, it will get too long and complicated to read – believe me; even I got confused. How’s that?

On another noteliterally! – I hereby thank my good blog friends (or *bliends) Christina from Just call me Mausi and Sal from The Virtual Tapas Bar for their posts (here and here) about their new - and less new- Ukuleles. The posts reminded me that I still had a dusty black case stowed away somewhere in the guestroom: My Ovation guitar.

I have not played for over 10+ years. I was never particularly good at it, mainly because I never really took real classes. My boyfriend at that time had a band and the guitar simply fascinated me, so he taught me the basics. I also played the flute in our high-school band, but it’s just not the same. The guitar is a very “social” instrument. You can sing along and you can chat with friends while gently caressing the strings. Try that with a flute! So, that’s how I was introduced to the guitar.

Back to a few days ago. My fingers itched to wrap themselves around the wooden shaft and feel the vibrations of strings (LOL. Sounds very sensual, doesn't it?). Ahem.... Anyhow. I took my guitar out of its dusty case and tuned it first. I soon found out that I had not only lost the dexterousness I used to have in my fingers, but the nails on my left hand were too long and kept touching strings that were not supposed to be involved in the chord, making a horrible “ziiiing” sound (not very sensual!). My nails are nothing close to a French manicure, but I finally had a reasonable length on all fingers. So I had to cut them back. The first hours of practise were painful and I had deep, negative imprint of the strings in my fingers for about an hour after I had stopped. Later, the numbness in the fingertips appeared, followed by the ever so typical callouses. But, I’m getting back there. My memory of songs and chords is slowly coming back to me now. Yep, I'm joining the club, guys! I’m addicted again. I wonder for how long.

*A special thank to Shelli for introducing me to this new word.