Friday, December 25, 2009

The most fabulous Christmas EVAH!

This was the most fabulous Christmas! Not only do we have Ma here with us during the Holidays Season, but last night, short before midnight, I was speechless and THAT does not happen often.
After a late dinner, we started unwrapping the Christmas presents. At some point, Orange-X gives me what looks like a CD. I unwrapped it and found a blank looking recordable DVD with OX's hadwriting "Play this video".

I was really wondering what mysterious message this DVD would reveal, but I was about to find out. I started the said DVD and within a few seconds, Orange X appeared on our 42" screen, greeted me and told me to follow his instructions. So there I am, sitting on our sofa with Ma on my left and OX on my right (and on our TV, of course). I was to pick a red cubic parcel with golden deco from underneath the tree, pause the DVD and open it. I did as I was told. Huh?? A box of tissues?? O-oh. I was obviously being prepared to catch some happy tears, but why?

I re-started the video and my next instruction was to get a parcel of the same size and then pause the DVD again. This time I had to pick it from the cupboard to the left of our TV set, bottom left door, please. The box was the same size and shape, only it was wrapped in blue and gold. I started unwrapping the gift and pressed play again. What... Another box of tissues?? No wait. I had to look IN the box of tissues. Ahhhh!

I opened one of the of sides of the tissue box and found a small box inside. By then, my heart was pounding out of my chest. My hands were shaking, but a managed to get the wrapping off and this is what was in the small box:
Then, in a soft voice, he said: "Will you marry me?" Well, let's just say that between the excitement, the tears of joy, my reply didn't sound much like a Yes, but it definitely was!
If THAT wasn't a perfect Chrismas?? BTW, it was a good thing that I had so many tissues at hand :)
Orange-X, Dale and I wish you Happy Holidays and send you our best wishes of good health, happiness and sucess for the new decade!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Catching up - In a Nutshell

I don't really remember the last time I put up a post, and can't really say why I haven't. I mean, it's not that nothing happened since July 2009.

Looking back, I must admit that the whole year was very hectic and when we did have a break/a weekend with no plans, we used the time for us. Sounds a bit selfish, but we needed it. I have however been following your blogs, eventhough the comments were sometimes sparse.

So let me pick up where we left off. We left for Canada two days after Pa's incineration, which means that the service was held on the Friday, we drove back to Basel on the Saturday and flew from Zürich on the Sunday.

We had a fantastic time there with family and friends. A few highlights in Canada there were:
  • a lovely evening with Christine (my ex-sister in law), Bernard and my adorable niece, Camille,
  • an unforgetable evening at Roxane and François',
  • some golf for Orange-X,
  • our family (mother's side) Summer Christmas Party held at Rachel's,
  • a day in Ottawa and meeting up with blogger Jay from "Kill the Goat"
  • Orange-X's short tour of the ER of our local hospital,
  • dinner with Christiane, Robert, Sonya and Christian
  • a day at lake Craig with a bunch of close friends
I'll have to do individual posts about all of the above - if I ever get to it, that is, but I'm hoping that O-X will help a bit.

Anyhow... Canada was not the only activity we had this year! We drove to Amsterdam a few times and took Ma back with us to Basel twice, we both quit smoking (yes, you read that right!), bought new bikes, we organized a grill party to thank O-X's work colleagues for good results is the first half year, Orange-X spent a weekend in hospital in following an allergy to antibiotics (this one really worth a post of its own as it all started in Canada!), had O'x's daugthter and her Mom over for a weekend in Basel, bought an elliptical trainer and spent last weekend with Pinki and Andrea in Bad Fischau/Wiener-Neustadt, Austria. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things, too.

This week, I've been stuck at home with the flu and I'm finally starting to feel better. It's about time! BTW, I'm not adding any pictures to this entry, because it would simply be too much and probably confusing, too.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

For my dad...

I'd like to thank you all for the expression of your sympathies in every way possible in the past week. You have reached CS and me through e-mail, a short note on Facebook, personal and also via the blog and it helped us to stand strong at my father's funeral. Your energy has contributed to write and speak the eulogy at the moment of the final goodbye.

This one is for my dad. Thank you dad, for all you have done! We'll meet again some day and catch up on lost times.

Eulogy for my dad:
My father Robert, to many known as „Bob“, was born on the 21st of March 1932 in Bandung, Indonesia. He grew up in Indonesia and during World War II he spent a long time in a Japanese POW camp. When he was 16 years old he made his first long journey, travelling from Indonesia to Holland, where he lived all of his life.

Sunday, 19th of July 2009 he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. During the preparations for the funeral the question was asked, who would speak in his memory. I stand here before you and I’d like to inform you that this speech can take some time. We have reserved the auditorium for the coming three hours, so I suggest you sit back and relax. No, just kidding, it has absolutely not been easy to find the right words. What can you say about a man who never wanted to be the centre of attention? What words do you use when your father has always stayed in the background? Pa definitely hated being the in the centre so I’ll keep it short.

Whenever we had a party, Pa was the one to sit in a quiet corner where he could see everything, hardly talked to the people and enjoyed all of it in his own way. We often asked him whether he enjoyed the party and he always answered: “Oh yes, I’m having a great time”. He was the one to sit around quietly without speaking much.

Pa was a man who always worried about his family. His family was his first, and it appeared to be, his only priority. His family meant everything to him and for his family he would do everything possible within his powers. That wasn’t always easy as he also was a proud man who’d rather not accept the help of other people. He struggled he way though life, always took care of his family and supported his children in everything they did. Even though he didn’t agree with everything.

In spite of his quiet character he was a very emotional person. In the earlier days we haven’t seen that often, but the older he grew, the more his emotional character took over. An occasion where the emotional character really showed was directly after he retired. His former colleagues had organised an surprise dinner. For my dad something totally unexpected and that was one of the moments you good clearly see how emotional he really was. The silent man with the big emotions...

Other times my dad and I talked about the future. Now you may wonder: what future? Actually we then discussed the moment he wouldn’t be with us anymore. He told me he that he had arranged for ma to be left behind without worries. A talk like that always ended with tears and once more he showed how important his family was to him, and his emotions showed again.

In the last years of his life pa suffered from a chronic pulmonary disease from which we knew he wouldn’t recover. His illness often limited him in his mobility, so ma often went out alone to just go for a walk or some shopping. At a certain moment we proposed to dad to rent a wheelchair or get one organised. Then again his pride showed as he thought it was absolutely not necessary to sit in a wheelchair. We used a bit of force and emotional black mail and we then were able to persuade him. After that moment it didn’t take long for him to find out it was actually very convenient to be driven around. We have lived through funny moments with pa and his wheelchairs. There were times we had to laugh so much that we laughed tears.

From now on we will laugh when we memorise, but we’ll do that without him.We have to let dad go for his last long journey. A journey in which he will not leave his footsteps anymore. Those footsteps are in our thoughts and in our hearts. On 19th of July he deceased and slipped away from us the way he lived his life: Quietly and without words…

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Farewell Pa - March 21 1932 - July 19 2009

Our dearest Pa (aka "Bob"), Ox's Dad passed away last Sunday, July 19, 20:35hrs, CEST (Central European Summer Time).

Pa was a very quiet man who preferred to sit "behind the scene" and enjoy, more than to be the center of attraction. Many didn't understand it, but he truly had a good time. His family always had utmost priority. ALWAYS.

We got a call from Harry, OX's brother-in-law, at about 9.45am on Sunday telling us that he was on his way to Pa & Ma's, because Pa was not feeling well. Like two other of his late brothers, he had been suffering of emphysemea for a few years already, but all was under control and stable.

The doctor came over and shortly after, he called an ambulance and Pa was taken to the hospital and put directly in the ICU. By 11.30am, we knew it was critical, so we booked flights to A'dam and arranged for Dale to be taken care of. We made it in time to see him, and although he was heavily sedated and sleeping, we knew that he knew that we were by his side. He was released to "freedom" at 20.30 pm the same day. Best of all - if there is such a thing in this case - was that he let go while his family (Ma, Orange-X & Bren, Harry and I) were by his side. He passed away silently and without pain, just as he had lived his life. I thank the Gods for having had that chance - to really say goodbye and accompany someone you love to the other side.

It's been a rough week for both of us, and I hope you'll forgive me for posting this so late.

Finally, he can rest in peace. He will be dearly missed. We love you, Pa.

PS: I also want to thank Mr & Mrs. TBF for taking care* of Dale during these difficult times, but also for the cat sitting during our holidays in Canada.

*Knowing how much he'll be spoiled, I hope he'll want to come back to us!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Three months flying by...and one more week to go!

Why exactly three months flying by? Let me tell you. I am a criminal. I have broken the law and for two years I'll have a criminal record. I confess, I plead guilty as charged! If I break the law again I'll be in serious trouble! I might even end up in jail. So what did I do to become a criminal?? In Switzerland it's easy. You take your car, drive a provincial road, miss out on the sign indicating the maximum speed and drive a bit faster than the assumed maximum speed limit. That was not a good plan. I drove that particular provincial road, assumed the maximum speed was 100 km/h as it was two lanes in both directions and added "a safe over the limit number of km/h". Wrong! Absolutely wrong.

I got my picture taking with a bright red flash and knew I was too fast. At that time, I didn't know how much too fast. That is, until the official letter of the police was handed over by the receptionist at the office with the words: "I thought I'd give it to you personally." I took the letter out of the envelope and my heart skipped a few beats. The "alledgedly" 100 km/h provincial road was an 80 km/h road and the "safe over the limit number of km/h" was way out of range. Ooops!

Okay, the damage was done, so there was no other alternative than to wait for the call of the police with the kind invitation to the companie's Director to come by the police station to identify the driver. What the police didn't know at that time was the companies Director and the person to be identified were one and the same person. Namely ME!

I got the call, went to the police station for the identification of the driver (myself!), and every scenario I played in my head was scattered into small pieces once I got the photo in which I had to identify the driver. My God, the picture was so darn clear that I could have used it for my passport. Okay Mr. Policeman, guilty as charged. I had to answer a three page questionnaire to indicate income, fixed monthly cost and variable cost. The sum of all would be the basis for the calculation of the fine. Ouch!

The kind officer at the desk informed me that the punishment for the serious violation of traffic rules in this case would lead to a minimum of three months loss of my drivers license and an unknown fine. The fine would be calculated based on the monthly income. The only thing I thought at the moment of filling out the questionnaire was: " Is there anything else I can list as fixed cost to get my income down?" I couldn't think of anthing else anymore, signed the statement of "truth and honesty", and could only hope for the best.

A few months later,the court verdict came by registered mail. I took the verdict out (five pages, 5 darn pages) and started reading. What a relief!! No mention of losing my drivers license. "Just" a fine of the price of two suits, shirts and ties of my favorite brand and a probation of two years with the possibility of going to jail for at least five days, pay another amount of money at the price of four suits, shirts and ties of my favorite brand. I was relieved. Feeling like a winner, I called my boss with the "good" news.

The feeling didn't last long. Two days later, I received the letter from the police with measures taken to punish me a bit more for this traffic violation. I was summoned to send in my drivers license for a period of three whole months. OMG! Being without my license for three months could be a threat to the continuation of my job. Luckily, my boss took it quite well. We set up a three month schedule for customer visits, defined who in the company would drive me to visit customers, and how I would get to the office and back home every day. It all worked out well and let me tell you, I could used to being driven around all the time! Now I have one more week left. Beginning of May, I get my drivers license back,and yes, I'm starting to itch. It will be quite strange to get into the car on the drivers side again... So, I planned on having two days in the home office on the 4th and the 5th of May to make sure I don't miss the postman when my drivers license comes back via registered mail.

There has been a good side to the whole thing:
- I got to the office early every morning. Pick up at 07.15 hrs by Manuel (Thank you Manuel!)
- I got home around 17.30 hrs every day I worked from the office. Driver: again Manuel (once more many thanks Manuel!)
- As I got home early anyway,I walked (yes, I walked) to the small shopping center in our village to do the groceries. About one hour of "outdoor activity"
- I enjoyed this daily "break" before continuing my work from home
- I will continue working this way as it is very relaxing
- CS took over all the driving during weekends, our holidays in Austria and our last trip to Holland, which was quite relaxing for me!

One more week to go and I'll be fully independent again. Even though this kind of independance is relative and the three months passed by in a rush, I am looking forward to driving my new car myself again. Hey, I only had it for two months beforeI had to send in my license. Can you blame me?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Cat's rule

Turn up the volume and enjoy. That is all.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Heut' ist so ein schöner Tag - Flachau, Austria

We're back from a wonderful week of fresh mountain air, breathtaking landscapes, snowboarding and much, much fun. Except for one day of heavy snow and cloudy skies, the weather was brilliant and the snow conditions were very good.

We stayed at Crystls Aparthotel: Appartments with the services of a hotel. We loved it there and the team of three lovely young ladies made sure we had everything we needed. The breakfast buffet offered a wide variety of local products such as homemade marmelades, local cheeses and cold cuts, 5-6 different breads, eggs - from a nearby farm, I presume -, bacon (ooohhhh, the bacon was delicious!!), yoghurts, cereals, fresh fruit, etc. The location is fantastic: it's about 200 meters from the next ski-lift, most restaurants and bars are within 5 to max. 10 minutes walk and it overlooks the centre of the adorable village of Flachau.

After fuelling up with a few portions of pretty much everything of the above, we made our way to the practise slopes. After a very bad case of the flu in February, another two hours of lessons and a few bruises, I finally picked-up where I left off, and learned to cut short curves and come down the slope in an acceptable manner, which I'm really proud of. Here's a view from the Griessen Kareck peak.

Orange-X, however, has had more practise than I have and has gotten pretty good at snowboarding. After a few runs, I would go warm myself up with a hot chocolate (with rhum) at the Dampfkessel and O-X would take a run down the real slopes. He took a couple of pretty amazing falls, but always came back in one piece.

The Dampfkessel was our absolute favourite après-ski place. The service is friendly and fun, the meals are simple, but very good, the portions large and you can be sure to find the right thing to hit the spot. After 3.30 pm, the Dampfkessel starts really filling up, the drinks flow and the fun really starts. We found it entertaining just to watch the people around us.

Then it was off to the appartment for a nice hot shower and deciding which of the many restaurants we would have dinner at. Our favourite was definitely the Hoagascht, but the Schusterhäuserl and the Per Du were both close seconds. The Schusterhäuserl (Shoemaker's little house) has served an established local Flachau family of cobblers for generations as a residence and workshop. The workshop was on the ground floor and the living quarters on the first floor. This almost 400 year old house and workshop has now been transformed into an adorable steak house. The dining rooms are tastefully decorated, the light yellow table cloths mix well with the old dark wood and give it a really warm and cozy atmosphere and many of the old original cobbler's tools are displayed. The service is friendly and warm and the steaks are delicious.

I would also definitely suggest the Per Du. Very cosy, friendly service and excellent food. Am I repeating myself, or what? To be perfectly honest, if there is one European country (that I've visited regularly) where hospitality can be written in capital letters, it's Austria. Seldom have I felt as warm a welcome in any restaurant/bar/mountain hut as in Austria, no matter whether it's in Salzburg, Vienna or any small village. Sorry, Switzerland, but you can't match that. And where you do, it's often because of the service personel you hire from the neighbouring countries, or because you're a restaurant/hotel/bar that hardly anybody can afford. (Did I just say that??). I keep getting the feeling that Austrians are just happy to be and are willing to share their good mood and love of life. I hear that the Balkan and Eastern European countries are also like that. Must go there, too.

We didn't take as many pictures as we had planned to, but we did bring back something - besides a few delicious schnaps, that is. I usually don't like this kind of music unless I hear it in the appropriate environment, but to be honest, it truly sums up the feeling we had every - single - day of our stay in Flachau. The lyrics are in Austrian dialect, but basically shows (my view of) the Austrian day to day attitude towards life:

I like to lie in the grass

And look up to the sky

(you lazy pig - not sung)

Don't the clouds have funny shapes?

(Looks more like rain clouds to me - not sung)

And an aiplane flies by

and I wave at it

Hello airplane

And if you're also with me

Then I feel great

(I'm so happy for you - not sung)

And I fly, fly fly like an airplane and

I 'm as strong, strong strong as a tiger,

and as tall, tall, tall as a giraffe, so high.


And I'l jump, jump, jump,

Again and again

And I swim, swim, swim,

Over to you

and I take, take, take you by the hand

'Cause I like you

And I say:

It's such a beautiful day



It truly was one of our best winter vacations and we're planning to go back again next year.

So for you all, here it is, our happy song: Heut' ist so ein schöner Tag [in Austrian: Heid is so a schener Tag] (Engl.: Today's such a beautiful day) by "Die Jungen Zillertaler"

Turn up the volume and enjoy as this song really made me think of the snoopy happy dance :-)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Wild times

We're still here! Yes, I'm still dead tired, but slowly recuperating. And you know why? Because although I actually had 2 weeks off work between Christmas and New Year, I managed not to get much sleep. However, we did have a LOT of fun. A fair compromise, I think. My cousin Rachel came for a 3 week visit from Canada. And by now, you all know that we love partying and Rachel is family, so she does too. So now, you know.

Here are a few things we did during that time in a nutshell.
  • Dec. 19: Rachel arrives in Zurich, but her luggage doesn't make it through her tight connection in Frankfurt. Gha! But she does get an overnight bag from Swiss with T-Shirt, sleeping goggles, G'Ma undies, a toothbrush and a couple of other necessities. She sleeps at 6pm, up again from 10pm and we chat until 2 am. Good start.

  • Dec. 20: Rachel's luggage arrives and later, she and I are rocking & dancing until 2 am to (too) loud music until our neighbours ring the doorbell. Ooops! But we do stay up and chat until 6am...with wine.
    Dec. 24: We decorate the Chistmas tree (never did it THAT late in my WHOLE life.... EVER!), Pack the presents (never did that this later either!), have a late dinner and unpack presents. Bedtime: Decent (for a day off). 2am, or so.

  • Dec. 25/26: We decide to go out after dinner (midnight) for some dancing. Great time! Get home at 5am (?) and decide to stay awake for the next 2.5 hours until we bring Rachel to the train station to catch her TGV to Paris.

  • Dec 26: Sleep until 2pm after returning from the train station, miss call from TBFs with invitation to dinner, call back TBFs and accept invite. TBF just recovering from a flu, but doing well. Delicious food, wine & great company, but around 1am, eyes (ours) are twirling in butter and leave for home. Invited TBFs for a New Years' Eve Eve's party.

  • Dec. 27: Get a sore throat and hints of a flu (TBF? Rachel? Anonymous Swiss in the tram?)

  • Dec 29: 9:15 pm. Flu is real bad. Fever. We're at the station waiting for Rachel's train. Delayed by 30 minutes. OK. Call TBFs. Cancel New Years' Eve Eve's party with TBFs because of my stupid flu. TGV arrives, no Rachel. Did she sleep though it? Wait 30-40 minutes. Drive back home in hopes that she just missed the stop. Rachel arrives around 10:30pm. She got off 1 station early. Yep. That's family all right! Have dinner and wine, hoping the latter will kill the damn bug!
  • Dec. 30: Rachel goes to visit an aunt near St-Gallen. I'm desperately looking for a hotel in some kind of snowy area to learn snowboarding. No luck with the hotels. All booked out.

  • Dec 31: Rachel is back home for dinner and we celebrate New Years' Eve together, and got to bed early (2am). I book snow boarding lessons for OX and me for Jan 2nd in Adelboden.

  • Jan 2: Leave at 7am for Adelboden and encounter a massive taffic jam. Arrive 30 minutes late. While Rachel hits the slopes, Ox and I really enjoy our snow boarding lesson. Won't be the last time for sure. Addicted.

  • Jan 4: Rachel goes to Barcelona.

  • January 5: Back to work for us. Blech!

  • Jan. 7: Rachel returns from Bacelona. Dinner & wine. Go to bed at 2:30am (again). Remember, we still have to work. Ugh!

  • Jan. 8: Back at work feeling a bit woozie. Rachel goes to Lucerne for the day, also feeling woozie. Good. I'm not the only one. Go to bed at a decent time: before midnight. Really! I swear!

  • Jan. 9: OX takes me to work by car before droppig Rachel off at Zurich airport.
    Jan. 10: We get to slep in? No way! We left bright and early (07:15!!!) for Amsterdam to celebrate Harry's 44th birthday.

Since then, we've been snow boarding again and I've rented myself some equipment for the season. That's how much we're enjoying it! A few bruises here and there and muscle ache from the pull-lifts, but what the hell! The turns are getting easier and we'll soon be ready to hit the real slopes after a warm up run on the "Mickey Mouse" run. Tomorrow's our next trip to Adelboden. Yup. We're getting up at 6:30 and are aiming at getting there around 9:00am.

Here are a few picts of our first attempts (with teacher) that Rachel took of us. OX is in the dark top with light pants, and I'm in the light top with the dark pants.

Can you believe it? I never in my dreams thought that I'd start snow boarding at the age of 43. But hey... Why not? You only live once, right? And we're really improving.
No, it just looks like we're going fast. We're not. Fooled ya!

We still want to go sledging with TBFs, though, but need to find a date before the snow melts ;)

Adelboden anyone?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!

Here we are again, after a long blogging break.

2008 was a very busy year and we're looking forward to 2009. We have many plans for the coming year such as learning to snowboard without breaking any bones (we're taking our first lesson tomorrow), holidays in Canada this summer, and many good times with friends all over Europe.

Orange-X and I wish you and your loved ones a Healthy and Happy New Year!