10 Things I… (Gross Generalisation Alert!)

… not exactly “hate about you,” but, “10 Things Foreigners in Switzerland Don’t Get.” This was in my Facebook feed this morning and I thought I’d translate it for you, for another glimpse into Swiss life.

  1. How early everyone gets out of bed. Even on the weekends! (If your Swiss naturalisation depended on getting out of bed early, I’d never qualify.)
  2. That nobody complains that sometimes you can only do your laundry once per month. (communal washing machines in apartment blocks. That was one of the most important criteria for Mr Mac finding us a place to live, all those years ago, “I have to be able to wash daily!”)
  3. That the Swiss can simply not understand how anyone could eat fondue when it’s not Winter. (You’ll only find tourists eating fondue in the warmer months.)
  4. That the Swiss are always respectably dressed, even just to pick up the milk. (Well, the get out of bed so damn early, they’ve probably done a whole day’s work by the time I’m ready to get the milk.)
  5. That all of Switzerland thinks it’s totally acceptable that because of road construction works, there are traffic jams every summer. (That and half of Germany driving down to Italy on the same day.)
  6. That after one lives in Switzerland only six months, one can be annoyed by their neighbour flushing the toilet after 10pm. (Seriously, this is not just something you might read on Buzzfeed and think, “that can’t be right!” It’s a real rule for living in close quarters with other. ie. in an apartment block.)
  7. That Swiss parties end at 11.30pm. Latest! (Perhaps not a hard and fast rule but they do have to get up at the crack of sparrow’s, you know.)
  8. That your Swiss host will start to tidy up around you, while the party is still going. (Ahem. Guilty. But I did that in Australia, too. I never got the hoover out though, which someone did to me, once.)
  9. That your Swiss host will expect you to help with the washing up. (Rubbish! Maybe I just have great friends who have always refused my help when offered.)
  10. That the Swiss love spontaneity. As long as it’s planned. (True story. :-) )

With big love to Claudia, my Swiss BFF, for help with no.s 5 & 6.

Sing-along-a-Robbie

Swings Both Ways- double entendres galore.

Swings Both Ways- double entendres galore.

You might remember back in the dark ages when I had a crush* on Robbie Williams. I was so madly in love with him, I didn’t see how it would be possible that I could ever die without having had a go on him, if you know what I mean. *big, salacious wink*

Anyway, he got really boring on a personal level, got married, had a baby and I’m so totally over that now. Musically, he wasn’t doing really well either. I’ve pretty much disliked every record he made since Intensive Care (and even that wasn’t very good) I’ve been so disinterested in him that I didn’t even know he was releasing a new album until I saw it in the shops. I wasn’t going to bother buying it but curiosity got the better of me and before I knew it, I was playing Swings Both Ways in the car. And loving it.

It’s been a long time since I wanted to sing along to a Robbie Williams CD but this one definitely makes me want to belt out the lyrics at the top of my voice while driving alone. The first two tracks written with Guy Chambers, Shine my Shoes & Go Gentle, are reminiscent of good, old Robbie. Lily Allen’s voice on Dream a Little Dream is gorgeous and the double (and single) entendres are overflowing in the title track with Rufus Wainwright. I’m not sure there’s a better sing-along-a-tune than the Jungle Book classic, I Wan’na Be Like You and the reworking of Supreme into Swing Supreme is fab. Apart from two weak spots (the dreary Snowblind and Nobody Likes a Fat Popstar which is a proper whiny waste of time), I’m going to give Robbie’s new CD two thumbs up. More like this, please Robbie!

*crush? it was true love, I tell you.

Another Poem- Säntis

A couple of weeks ago, there was a Google Doodle in German-speaking countries celebrating the life of German poet, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. I had never heard of her so I read her entry in Wikipedia and was delighted to discover she had written a poem about Säntis, a Swiss mountain I love to visit and to take visitors to. (I’ve written about and shared photos of Säntis a couple of times here already.) I had a wee look about online and managed to find the very poem. I had a go at translating it myself but got bored very quickly. Imagine my relief when I also discovered some kind soul had already done that! So here’s the poem in German thanks to Projekt Gutenberg:

Säntis in Summer- Patrick, his girlfriend and I were at the top of Säntis last summer. The views were/are spectacular.

Säntis in Summer- Patrick, his girlfriend and I were at the top of Säntis last summer. The views were/are spectacular. (You can click on all these photos to see them bigger)

Frühling
Die Rebe blüht, ihr linder Hauch
Durchzieht das tauige Revier,
Und nah und ferne wiegt die Luft
Vielfarb’ger Blumen bunte Zier.

Wie’s um mich gaukelt, wie es summt
Von Vogel, Bien’ und Schmetterling,
Wie seine seidnen Wimpel regt
Der Zweig, so jüngst voll Reifen hing.

Doch sucht man gern den Sonnenschein
Und nimmt die trocknen Plätzchen ein;
Denn nachts schleicht an die Grenze doch
Der landesflücht’ge Winter noch.

O du mein ernst gewalt’ger Greis,
Mein Säntis mit der Locke weiß!
In Felsenblöcke eingemauert,
Von Schneegestöber überschauert,
In Eisenpanzer eingeschnürt:
Hu, wie dich schaudert, wie dich friert!

SäntisSommer
Du gute Linde, schüttle dich!
Ein wenig Luft, ein schwacher West!
Wo nicht, dann schließe dein Gezweig
So recht, daß Blatt an Blatt sich preßt.

Kein Vogel zirpt, es bellt kein Hund;
Allein die bunte Fliegenbrut
Summt auf und nieder übern Rain
Und läßt sich rösten in der Glut.

Sogar der Bäume dunkles Laub
Erscheint verdickt und atmet Staub.
Ich liege hier wie ausgedorrt
Und scheuche kaum die Mücken fort.

O Säntis, Säntis! läg’ ich doch
Dort grad’ an deinem Felsenjoch,
Wo sich die kalten, weißen Decken
So frisch und saftig drüben strecken,
Viel tausend blanker Tropfen Spiel:
Glücksel’ger Säntis, dir ist kühl!

Conquered! Patrick decided to scramble up one of the lesser peaks in the area, which are open in the summer (I had completely inappropriate footwear on for that kind of activity so I stayed where I was and watched.)

Conquered! Patrick decided to scramble up one of the lesser peaks in the area, which are open in the summer (I had completely inappropriate footwear on for that kind of activity so I stayed where I was and watched.)

Herbst
Wenn ich an einem schönen Tag
Der Mittagsstunde habe acht
Und lehne unter meinem Baum
So mitten in der Trauben Pracht;

Wenn die Zeitlose übers Tal
Den amethystnen Teppich webt,
Auf dem der letzte Schmetterling
So schillernd wie der frühste bebt:

Dann denk’ ich wenig drüber nach,
Wie’s nun verkümmert Tag für Tag,
Und kann mit halbverschlossnem Blick
Vom Lenze träumen und von Glück.

Du mit dem frischgefallnen Schnee,
Du tust mir in den Augen weh!
Willst uns den Winter schon bereiten?
Von Schlucht zu Schlucht sieht man ihn gleiten,
Und bald, bald wälzt er sich herab
Von dir, o Säntis! ödes Grab!

Alpendohle, Alpine Chough. These Alpine birds will nick the chips off your lunch plate if you're not quick.

Alpendohle, Alpine Chough. These Alpine birds will nick the chips off your lunch plate if you’re not quick.

Winter
Aus Schneegestäub’ und Nebelqualm
Bricht endlich doch ein klarer Tag;
Da fliegen alle Fenster auf,
Ein jeder späht, was er vermag.

Ob jene Blöcke Häuser sind?
Ein Weiher jener ebne Raum?
Fürwahr, in dieser Uniform
Den Glockenturm erkennt man kaum.

Und alles Leben liegt zerdrückt,
Wie unterm Leichentuch erstickt.
Doch schau! an Horizontes Rand
Begegnet mir lebend’ges Land!

Du starrer Wächter, laß ihn los,
Den Föhn aus deiner Kerker Schoß!
Wo schwärzlich jene Riffe spalten,
Da muß er Quarantäne halten,
Der Fremdling aus der Lombardei:
O Säntis, gib den Tauwind frei!

And in English from German Poems in Translation:

Spring
The vine blooms, its mild aroma
Pervades the dewy environs,
And near and far the breeze sways
The colorful adornment of flowers.

How it wafted around me, how it hummed
With birds, bees, and butterflies,
How its silken banner fluttered
The branch, so newly hung with ripeness.

Still one seeks out the sunshine
And takes a seat in a dry place;
For at night the departed winter
Still creeps in at the edges.

Oh you, my somber, grand old man,
My Säntis with the white locks!
Hemmed in by blocks of stone,
Blanketed in snow drifts,
Girdled in icy armor:
How you shiver, how you freeze!

FlowersSummer
Good linden tree, shake!
A little breeze, a feeble west wind!
Without it, your branches close up
So completely that the leaves are pressed together.

No birds chirp, no dogs bark;
Only the colorful flying creatures
Buzz up and down across the fields
And warm themselves in the heat.

Even the dark foliage of the trees
Seems thickened and breathes the dust.
I lie here as if dried up
And scarcely shoo away the flies.

Oh Säntis, Säntis! I’d rather lie
There–against your rocky shoulders,
Where the cold, white blankets
Spread themselves out so fresh and lush
A play of thousands of pure drops:
Blessed Säntis, it’s cool where you are!

Feed the BirdsAutumn
When I pay attention to the noontime
On a beautiful day,
And rest under my tree
Among the splendor of the grapes:

When the autumn crocus weaves
The amethyst tapestry across the valley
Over which the last butterfly, shimmering,
Quivers just like the first:

Then I consider a little,
How everything is now declining day by day,
And with half-closed eyes, I can
Dream of spring and of happiness.

You with the freshly fallen snow,
You bring sorrow to my eyes!
Will you already hurry the winter to us:
From ravine to ravine, one sees it gliding,
And soon, soon it will roll down to us
From you, oh Säntis! a bleak grave!

Winter
Out of snowdust and smoky clouds
A clear day finally breaks;
Then all the windows fly open,
Then everyone spies what he can.

Are those blocks houses?
Is that flat space a pond?
Truly, one can hardly discern
The clock tower in this garb;

And all life is crushed,
As if smothered under a shroud.
But look! at the edge of the horizon
Vibrant land greets me.

You vigilant warden, let the warm breeze
Loose from the prison of your bosom!
Those blackish cracks in the ridges,
That must be where it is quarantined,
The visitor from Lombardy:
Oh Säntis, release the warm wind!

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

I was in Scotland this weekend with my family (the ones who live in Scotland, the Aussies stayed in Switzerland) to attend the funeral of a dear, much-loved aunt, my mum’s sister-in-law. At her requiem mass, my cousin read this poem by Dylan Thomas. I’m posting it here because I want to remember it.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I Made This!

The Cable Side

The Cable Side

A while ago I saw some big balls (*sniggers*) of chunky acrylic yarn for sale when I was in Coop buying my usual crochet fixin’s. They had some pretty colours so I bought a couple each in purple and pink. It took me a while to decide what to do with it but I had a thought last weekend and I started kitting. At first I used the pink yarn, thinking I would knit a pretty cushion cover with a cable pattern on one side and some other pattern on the reverse side. Long story short, I knitted up two pink panels and they were far too small, despite my enthusiastic stretching and fitting of my knitting in progress. I put them away, told myself they were only practise anyway and set about knitting the same in the purple. Et voilà! I give you my purple, knitted cushion cover.

Bee stitch, a new stitch for me. Easy as pie, or at least it would be if I could manage to count to two properly.

Bee stitch, a new stitch for me. Easy as pie, or at least it would be if I could manage to count to two properly.

I say “my” but actually, as soon as I showed it proudly to James in an “isn’t your mother clever” kind of way he asked, “Is that for me? Can I have it?” Since he didn’t seem so bothered by/to notice any of the mistakes, I gave it to him.

Mistakes- I made a few. You can see in the cable side, not only are there a few stitches where I purled instead of knitted (and vicki versi), I suffered from a bit of late cabling- how I managed that, I’ll never know- and even at one point, towards the end, forgot to cable all together. On the bee stitch side which I did from this tutorial, I’ve managed to mess up alternating stitches between knit and knit-one-below, creating the odd looking lines across the cushion. (There’s a whole other blog post in how I can’t do anything without messing it up, somehow, Seriously.) But all in all, I’m happy. Practise makes perfect and all that.

What do you think of my pom poms?

How About No

I love bears, me.

I love bears, me.

So, Blog Every Day In December was a complete washout. I had plans to line up a few automatic posts while I was away in France for a few days but it all fell by the wayside when…. well, you know what happened.

Anyway, back to when I was away in France. I had a most wonderful time, suitable for the season. I spent time with my lovely friend; we visited the Palace of Versailles (pics of that to follow); I ate more good food than was good for me; we had a special Christmas treat of a night in Paris. It was just what I needed.

And, as a special surprise, another lovely friend turned up as a surprise for the evening on Saturday night, my friend Vivi. Generous to a fault, she brought me this present of an embroidered bear which I had loved from first seeing it on her tumblr a couple of months ago. Vivi embroidered my bear as a bit of fun but sells gorgeous embroidery kits which she has designed and manufactured all herself on her website here and her Zibbit boutique here. If you’re a fan of embroidery, or have a loved one who is, please visit and have a look at Vivi’s gorgeous designs.

Then buy something. :-)

Tree Time

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Please excuse the gurning fool. (The one in the hat.)

I’ve been in a particularly unfestive mood today but we’re (Mr Mac & I) going to visit a friend in France for some pre-Chrimbo fun for a few days tomorrow, so we managed to at least get the tree up & ready today for some presents to sit underneath it. Except I haven’t done a single stroke of Christmas shopping yet.

Oh dear.

And then this happened…

What’s happened to the last three days of Blog Every Day in Decemeber? Well, Mr Mac was in a car accident. He’s ok, save for a bit of bruising (and the other party involved is also ok, as far as we could tell from seeing them at the hospital), but the car isn’t.

My Poor Car. :-(

My Poor Car. :-(

Poor old Mr Mac, he was out doing a bit of shopping for us on Saturday while I stayed at home and did the housework, because we had friends coming over that night. It snowed on Saturday for the first time in days & days, heavy, wet snow. He was on his way home from the supermarket (less than 2km from home, I reckon), when the tyres of the car slid into the pile of snow which had built up between tyre tracks and that was all he wrote. Skid, skid, skid onto the wrong side of the road and smack bang into an oncoming car. Mr Mac was able to get out of our car, as was the driver of the other vehicle but also in the other car was an elderly lady who was in some distress. The drivers of the cars behind the two in the accident got out and gawped while Mr Mac had to ask one of them to please call an ambulance for the lady and the Polizei. He called me to come so I quickly hopped in Patrick’s car and drove round there to see the carnage. Then the police, ambulances and Feurwehr arrived (local volunteer fire brigade came to block off the road) arrived. The police took a few photos and some details from the drivers while the ambulance people did their work and then eventually Mr Mac and the others were taken to hospital and my car was carted off to the big scrapyard in the sky.

I haven’t blogged much about it but, becoming first-time homeowners aside, 2013 has been a completely crappy year for us. I am looking forward to 31st Dec and giving 2013 a great big kick up the backside and welcoming 2014 with open arms. Hopefully we’ll have better luck next year.

The 11th* Annual Swarovski Tree Visit

The Swarovski Tree- it never disappoints

The Swarovski Tree- it never disappoints

I met a good friend in Zürich today, for my annual wander around the Zürich Christmas Market and gawp at the famed Swarovski Christmas tree. The tree never disappoints. It’s always beautiful, dripping with crystal stars and other assorted ornaments. The market wasn’t really up to much. Nothing much new to look at but worth a wander anyway. If only for a delicious, warming Glühwein and a portion of stomach-lining and filling, tasty raclette.

I do love Switzerland’s winter market foods. I just wish it didn’t have to be so cold before we can enjoy them.

Cheese melted over bread. Comfort food for the winter soul.

Cheese melted over bread. Comfort food for the winter soul.

*It’s our 11th Swiss Christmas. I have no idea how long Swarovski has been putting up a sparkly tree every year… Whatevs.