My Not-So-Daily Diary

November '03

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Tuesday, November 4, 2003

 

      It's been a long 'vacation', I know. It's been a little over four months since I've added anything to the site. I won't make any excuses and I won't bore you with any long, heart-felt apologies.

     I would, however, like to thank the people who have let me know that they missed seeing anything new. Some of you surprised me. I didn't even know you were reading in the first place. (Especially you Mr. H. B. Yim.) You all encouraged me and made me feel like I needed to get my butt back to work. That's why I'm here today, typing away and vowing to make a better effort in the future.

     If you're tired of checking and looking to see if I've added anything new, send me an email with 'add me to the list' as the subject. I'll put you on a list to send you an email anytime I add something. No obligation. You don't have to read, but you'll know there's something new.

     So, I'm back now. Let's move on.

     When we got back from Taiwan, it was as if we had never been away. We fit right back into our lives here in Oberwil and picked up the old habit of wanting to participate in everything that was going on in the village. Summer's a busy time here and our schedules filled up faster than we could unpack all the boxes we had shipped back.

     Briefly, here are a few things that happened in the past four months...

 

-  Our dancing group had the annual Gratiszmorge - or free breakfast. It's held at the  community house in the forest that belongs to Gossliwil, a neighboring village. We serve free bread, butter, homemade jellies and jams, cheeses, meats, coffee and tea. As the day goes on, we sell wine, beer, sodas, and grilled food. For Herbert and I, the day ended with some of our friends coming over for a pot-luck dinner at our house.

-  Herbert turned 55 on July 1st and I cooked dinner for his family. (Yes, he's older than me.)

-  Herbert and I celebrated the four-year anniversary of our first date on July 11th.

-  We went for a walk to Bren, the next town over, for a great Greek dinner with a group of about 16 people that are friends and have all played a dice game together in the past. It ended in the early morning with a surprise bonfire with beer and grilled hot dogs in a biotope clearing in the woods that we were walking through. (Yes, here in Oberwil, we like to eat.)

-  I turned 43 on the 21st of July. If you're interested in more on that, then check out one of the new photo pages I put up today...

 

New Photo Page!

 

-  There were other birthday celebrations we attended, including Ren's, nneli's, Anja's, Fredu's, and Claude's.

-  We celebrated the Swiss National Day on August 1st along with the village at the shooting house. The evening before, we had a big pot-luck dinner with all the people in our neighborhood.

- Nick, my baby, my son, hit the mature age of 21 on August 11, officially making me an old woman.

-  I spent many afternoons in July and August at the swimming pool with Mdi and friends, swimming for exercise and trying to get brown.

-  Herbert went back to Asia, two times.

-  I went to the States to see family and friends. I flew into Chicago, rented a car and drove from Chicago to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Minneapolis to Denver and back to Cedar Rapids and Chicago before flying home at the end of September. Mom was able to join me for almost half of the driving and I was grateful for the time with her. We got lost a lot and we talked and laughed like we were high school buddies. I also enjoyed my time with everyone else, but it was all too short.

-  We welcomed Laurence and Andreas who came back from Australia while I was in the States. They've been gone since February and I was thrilled to see them. They surprised me by going with Herbert when he picked me up at the Zurich airport early in the morning when I came back. I'll miss them again when they go back this January.

-  I went on the annual 'men's fishing trip'. I've always had success and last year I had to stop fishing because I had caught too many to bring home. This year, I caught nothing. Seriously. I didn't even have a fish nibble on my line. Out of eleven of us, four of us caught nothing and everyone of us complained. But, it ended up being a great day and I ended up not caring about my failure. Besides, we still have fish in the freezer from the last two years. One of the guys asked me that day why I didn't have anything on my web site about fishing. I apologized and said I didn't have our camera with me. So, here's a photo page that I put together today of the first time I went on the trip with them back in 2001...

 

New Photo Page!

 

-  I've continue with teaching English and have continued learning German in the process. I teach Mdi, in preparation for our trip to the States next year, and I teach Christianne, Laurence's mother, in preparation for her trip to Australia.

-  I shipped my sewing machine that my mom was holding on for me. (She was much wiser than me and talked me into saving it instead of selling it, "just in case" I needed it some day.) Herbert's dad made a transformer for me and it works perfectly.

-  I'm still making jewelry, mostly earrings. I like the creative outlet.

-  Herbert's parents, Hans and Frieda, still come every Wednesday and I enjoy that. It gives some structure to my weeks.

-  I'm writing again. And I don't mean just pages on this web site. I hadn't written for over two years. Ever since I moved here, had enough time to write, and quit smoking, I hadn't written a thing. But, I'm smoking again and I think that's what I missed the most. Disgusting habit?  Yes. But there's some kind of connection for me between smoking and writing and I haven't figured it out yet.  Some day.  In the meantime, I'm working on a book and excited about it.

 

     I think that gets us up-to-date. I know that in the past, I made promises to post the remaining photo pages of Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and cultural events in Oberwil. I've promised recipes and many things. I won't end this journal entry with any new promises. I'll only say that some day, I may surprise you.

 

 

Friday, November 7, 2003

 

     In my last posting, I had added a photo page about my birthday. I have since realized that in the description on that page, I didn't tell the whole story. I whined a little bit about my lack of a birthday cake this year. That's not true. I had been writing about the party we had on the evening of the 21st of July and forgot that my birthday continued into September when I had visited everyone in Minnesota. When I had spoken with Mary Jo on my birthday, I complained about the cake thing. She had promised to have a birthday cake for me the next time I came to Minnesota. She didn't forget and had a cake for me (and a really cool present.) The cake was baked by her daughter Jenny and it was delicious! Glad that's taken care of and thanks Jenny and Mary Jo.

     Speaking of cakes, Herbert's son Yves has his 24th birthday tomorrow. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Yves!!! I asked him the other day if he would eat a cake if I baked it. Neither he nor Herbert eat much in the way of sweets. Not only did he say yes, but we ended up deciding on two birthday cakes - one for him to take to work and one for him to share with his friends. So, there are birthday cakes in Switzerland.

     And while we're still sort of on the subject of corrections and Mary Jo, I need to make another change. A while back, Mary Jo's niece Krissy (or Kris, as she likes to be called), wrote to tell me that she had read the popcorn story I have posted on this site. She reminded me that it wasn't her sister Laura that had incorrectly guessed the quantity of popcorn puffs that are generated by each kernel, but that it was her. So, I have correctly inserted her name into the story. Everyone will have to forgive me. I'm old and my memory isn't what it used to be.

     This past Sunday, I went on a train trip to different parts of Switzerland with Laurence and Andreas. It was a really different day for me and a lot of fun. I felt it warranted a photo page and you can find that here...

 

New Photo Page!

 

     I'm also trying to catch up with past pages that I wanted to post. I'm starting with photos from our trip to Korea. There will be three.  The first is a general description of how I felt about Korea, along with some basic photos. You can find that page here..

 

New Photo Page!

 

     I will be adding two more. One will be a page on the Korean Folk Museum, a large 'living museum' style park south of Seoul, and the other will be a page on a special dinner we had with our agent and a Korean friend of Herbert's company.

     Slowly, but surely, I'm catching up.

     This coming week is the bi-annual Productronica show in Munich, Germany. It's a gigantic trade show for the printed circuit board industry, and electronics manufacturing in general.  I went four years ago as a supplier to the Industry and two years ago as the girlfriend of Herbert. Again this year, I'm going as Herbert's girlfriend. I love Munich. They have wonderfully interesting museums for both art and culture and a friendly, convenient and efficient subway system available to travel to all of them. Plus, the city is beautiful. I'll spend most of time in the museums and a little bit with Herbert and the show. 

     I don't know if I'll get a chance to write before or during that trip, but I'll write when we get back next weekend. Until then, I wish everyone well.

 

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

 

     We're back from Munich. (Have been for week or so.)

     For Herbert, it was a busy but productive week. The printed circuit board industry, which has been in a major slump for the past couple of years, appears to be picking up. There were many visitors to his company's booth and most people seemed to be optimistic about the future.

     For me, it was a relaxing and fun week. In the past, when I was working, trade shows were always fun but stressful. At the end of each of those days, I had always wanted to turn off my smile and fall into bed. But I had customers to take care of in the evenings with dinner and entertainment. This time it was different. I wasn't working, I didn't have any customers, I didn't have any place that I had to be and I didn't have to smile if I didn't want to. I did stop by the show a few of the days and was happy to see old friends. I spent the rest of the time on my own in Munich. Mostly, I walked around the city and shopped. The prices are lower than in Europe and I took advantage to the best of my ability (and my wallet's). I bought yarn and started to knit a wool hat (which I had almost finished by the time I got home.)

     I decided that I didn't want to spend much time in the museums this time because I had seen most of them two years earlier. However, I did see a sign for an exhibit celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the teddy bear. It was in a place called the Spielzeugmuseum. I knew enough German to know that this was a 'toy museum' and that sounded like fun to me. One night after we had gone to dinner in the city, I showed the teddy bear sign to Herbert. He looked it up on the internet the next day, called me on my cell phone and told me that there wasn't an address, but that it was in the Marienplatz. (The famous square in the center of Munich.) I studied every sign on every floor on every building in that square. Nothing. I walked along the streets leading in every direction away from the Marienplatz. I had almost given up and decided to go look at the sign again to see if there was any additional information. The sign was on a building at the edge of the Marienplatz. As I looked up to read the sign, I noticed a word on the building - Spielzeugmuseum. I had found it.

     Although the museum was smaller than I was expecting, I enjoyed seeing all the teddy bears. Here's a photo page of the museum.

 

New Photo Page!

 

     We didn't take many photos on this trip and therefore, I won't be adding any other photo pages of this trip to Munich.

     Now, to go back and catch up with the rest of the last two weeks or so...

     The Saturday before we left for Munich, we were invited for dinner with our friends Laurence and Andreas. I wanted to include a photo of the dinner because we had individual pizzas in a special oven. A few of our friends here have them, but I've never seen them in the US. It's similar to a Swiss raclette dinner. Everyone prepares their own food on a small metal tray and then cooks it on the table in a small oven with a heating element. Here's a photo: (Thanks to Laurence and Andreas for the photos!)

 

 

     You can see that I'm holding up my own little pizza in front of the oven.

     You may also note that my hair is short. If you've read past entries in my journal, you've probably guessed that I've been experimenting with my hair in the last eight months or so. This was cut that Saturday and it's the shortest it's been in my life. I think I've gone far enough and will have to keep trying.

     When I asked Andreas what we could bring, he asked for a dessert. He didn't give me any indication of what we would be having for dinner. I knew that they were always open to my American style desserts and decided to make a fruit pizza. We all laughed at the coincidence and I was left thinking I must be a little bit psychic.

 

    

     We had another dinner we went to where I had agreed to bring a dessert. This past Sunday, Herbert's brother Ren and his wife Hela had everyone over to celebrate Frieda's (Herbert's mother) 82nd birthday. I looked through all of my recipe books and settled on a Boston Cream Pie. I've never made one, but had a history with this cake and was determined to bring something special.

     But before I continue, a little history...

     A year and a half ago, Herbert and I had celebrated my 42nd birthday with my sisters and their families in Breckenridge, Colorado. My sister Linda had offered to make me any kind of cake I wanted. I asked for a Boston Cream Pie. Because of altitude problems, rushing to fill and frost the cake without letting it cool, and maybe a few other mishaps, the cake flopped. Literally. It fell on it's side. Here's a photo...

 

 

     It made my birthday even more fun because we laughed so hard and teased Linda so much. (She's easy to tease.) I never forgot her effort or the fact that she loved me enough to try anything I asked for.

     For Frieda's cake, I decided to do it a little differently. Instead of using boxed cake and pudding mixes and packaged frosting, I found a recipe to make it from scratch. The cake was in the oven and Herbert and I were pleased with how well it was rising as it baked. I made the custard for the inside, but waited on making the chocolate glaze. After taking the cake out of the oven, I told Herbert that I planned on taking a photo when it was finished so that I could email it to Linda and tease her even further. God must have been listening and decided to test my own sense of humor. As the cake cooled, it fell to approximately one third of the original height. The custard cooling in the refrigerator thinned to the consistancy of warm vanilla water. (How can something thin out as it cools?) There wasn't a single giggle in my bones. We had customers from Korea coming over for dinner that evening and they were due to arrive in 30 minutes. To make matters worse, I knew that we had to leave the next morning at 10:30. Not enough time to take the chance on one more cake. I ended up throwing everything away, got up early the next morning and made my old standby bundt cake from a boxed cake mix and instant pudding. I didn't even have time to make a glaze for it. It was a boring dessert and I learned a very good lesson about laughing at other peoples misfortunes.

     In my defense though, both Herbert and I have had some trouble lately with cake baking. Last month, Herbert made a cake to take to a party and it fell. It was good, but not what he had in mind. For Yves' birthday, I baked a chocolate cake from scratch for him to share with his friends. It fell. We think it has something to do with the flour here. Maybe it's too finely ground for American recipes? The other cake I made for Yves was made from a boxed mix from the States and it turned out just fine. So we don't think it's a problem with the oven. We have to do some experimenting I think. (If anyone has any advice, let me know.)

     Yesterday, Andreas' little sister Sue asked me if I had a recipe for brownies. I told her I'd have to do some research. I didn't want her to have the same kind of problem. This morning, I made a batch of brownies and increased the flour a little bit. They turned out great and tasted great. I decided to add the recipe to the recipe section. You can find it here... 

 

Brownie Recipe (English version)

 

(The German version will be posted in a day or two when Herbert gets a chance to look at it.)    

     I mentioned that we had customers over for dinner from Korea. We've actually had two dinners with Asian customers recently. Many times when customers travel to Europe for the trade show in Munich, they try to stop by at Herbert's company in Switzerland for training or a tour. We like to invite them over for a traditional raclette dinner with cheese from the dairy in our village. The first evening was the Sunday before we left for Munich. James, Herbert's agent from Taiwan (and our friend), brought five guests from Taiwan. Herbert arranged for them to tour the cheese dairy and then we had dinner. It's hard to get a good photo of everyone in our kitchen because I can't get far enough away, but here's a photo of that dinner...

 

 

     The next dinner was this past Saturday evening. Guido Thommen, who works with Herbert here in Switzerland but had lived in Korea, brought four customers from Keoyang and one of the agents from Korea. We didn't tour the dairy, but we did end the evening in the traditional way of pulling out all the bottles of schnapps for them to sample. Most of the schnapps is distilled in our village from the fruit trees in our yard.

 

             

 

     Well, I'm pretty much caught up now. I did go to the Zibelemrit in Bern yesterday with Laurence and Andreas. It's an annual event that's based on an onion market. I'll save the story of that for a photo page and let you know when it's posted.

     This is enough for today.

     If I don't get a chance to write before Thursday, then I wish everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! On my first Thanksgiving in Switzerland, three years ago, Herbert took little cheese quiches out of the freezer, baked them for dinner and I had to remind him that back in America, people were having an entirely different type of meal. The last two years, I celebrated in Denver with my sisters. This year, we're having twelve guests over for a real dinner - turkey and all the fixings. I'll let you know how it goes. (There will be no baked cakes, only pumpkin pies.)

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