I can't believe that it's the beginning of August already. We've had such strange weather this summer, either unseasonably cold or extremely hot, and it seems that while I've been waiting for 'normal' summer weather to arrive, the summer has been passing by.
They say that the older you get, the faster time passes. When you're young, you don't really believe that. But as the years add on, you start to see what everyone was talking about. On July 21st, the speed of time got a little faster for me. I turned 45.
I don't have any fears about getting older and am proud to tell my age when people ask. But I do notice the changes. I feel the aches and pains in the morning that I used to hear older people complain about, I can't drink coffee in the evening anymore or I'm up all night and I've started to hold books a little farther away so that the page isn't so blurry. I've also found that I crave more time for relaxation. Herbert's helped me to age more comfortably by buying me this swinging chair for my birthday...
I've always wanted one and fell in love with it when I tried it at the store. Herbert had already given me a birthday gift, a mini IPod. He had bought it in March and had only been able to wait about two weeks before giving it to me. So now I can sit and swing on my chair while listening to my favorite music.
Even though we had decided not to give each other birthday gifts this year and Herbert had still given me two wonderful gifts, he agreed to having a party at our house for around 50 friends. It was the best birthday I've ever had and the party was so much fun that I added a photo page of it. You can find it here...
My 45th Birthday
July is always a busy month of celebrations for me and Herbert. Not only do we both have our birthdays, but the 11th of July is the anniversary of our first 'date'. We've been together now for six years. They've been six wonderful years. I won't bore you with a bunch of mushy feelings about how much we love each other. If you've been around us, you already know.
Herbert had to go to the black forest in Germany on our anniversary and since he was driving, I went with him. It was the first time I had been out of Switzerland in almost eight months. Before I had my visa, I was never allowed to stay longer than three months. I don't have any current plans to go the States in the near future and that's also a first for me. Whenever I was in the States for a visit during the first three years, I always knew when I'd be back. Now, I'm comfortable here. I will probably go sometime next Spring if the price of tickets isn't too high.
Herbert and I thought that we'd take a vacation to somewhere in the fall, but I think we've decided to just stay here. The two weeks that he took off during this Swiss holiday season was over yesterday. But, because we hadn't finished everything we wanted to accomplish in the house and garden, he took today and tomorrow off too. That leaves him with a little less vacation days and we want to save them for Christmas time.
Anja, one of Mädi's daughters is also a friend of mine. But she lives in the Basel area, which is about an hour away. During her vacation time in July, she was able to come and stay over night at our house (as well as coming to my birthday party). She brought her boyfriend Andy and we enjoyed getting to know him. We had a nice dinner, talked and laughed late into the night and even spent a few hours at some neighbors that were having a party for their business. This is a photo I took of Anja and Andy in the morning...
When I wrote in the beginning of July, I showed a picture of the corn blown down to the ground. Some people have asked how the corn is doing now. Here's a photo I took this afternoon...
We're happy that the wind storm didn't permanently damage it. You may notice in the photo that there are red plants as well as yellow. The red ones, in the back of the 'field' are the stalks for the yellow corn. The package said that it would be 8 1/2 feet tall and it's already that tall. The corn in the front is the mixed yellow and white variety. It's shorter, but it's only supposed to be 6 feet tall. Our only concern with the corn is that the white corn variety, planted in the middle, doesn't seem to be doing as well. But, there are ears growing and so we'll have to wait and see. Actually, most of the stalks of all three varieties have two ears per stalk and some of the yellow corn stalks have three ears. My guess is that we'll have quite a bit of corn to share with friends and family this fall.
We've already started to harvest some of the fruits and vegetables in our garden. Last month, Herbert's dad picked all the currants. We have six bushes of red currants and one bush of black currants. I've never taken any when he picked them in past years because I wasn't really sure what they were or what I was supposed to do with them. This year I decided to try making some jelly out of it. Here's a photo of the currants that Hans left for me...
I ended up making both currant jelly and a currant/raspberry jam. They both turned out great and I will make them again.
I talked before about how we had the problem last year with the 'kurbis in the corn', or pumpkins invading the entire corn crop. This year we decided to purposefully plant one small Halloween pumpkin plant because we both love pumpkin soup. Well, I don't think it matters how small of a plant you start with, you always seem to end up with a monster. So far, it's only touching the corn and hasn't yet stepped out of its boundary, but it's really a big plant with enormous leaves. Underneath the leaves, we have three very large pumpkins. My guess is that we'll have more before they all turn orange and the season is over.
Next to the pumpkin, we planted a small zucchini plant. I believe that this is also part of the squash family and grows like a weed. Here's a photo of me holding the first one we cut...
It weighed 3.2 kilos (7 pounds). I used it to make three almond zucchini cakes and still had part of it leftover. We've picked two more - one of which we gave to Natacha and the other one I used today for sweet and sour pickled zucchini. I will post this recipe in the recipe section in three days. These zucchini pickles take three days to make (most of it waiting time) and although I've already typed it up, I'm waiting to take a photo of the finished dish.
I'll write more then.
Tomorrow Herbert goes back to work. I go back to having English classes, the Trachtengruppe, the choir, cleaning and ironing. Boy, have those last two chores piled up. But, we've accomplished a lot. Maybe not everything on the list, but enough to make us feel somewhat content.
One of our bigger chores was cleaning the attic. A few years ago, we had bought enough shelves from Ikea to completely organize the attic. That first week after we bought them, Herbert put them together and placed them along all the walls. That's the last time we've been able to see them. Since then, we just continued to set things on the floor until the piles were threatening to fall over through the hole where the steps lead us up through the ceiling. Our problem was always that it was too cold to go up in the winter and too hot in the summer. We took advantage of some cool weather last week and got it all sorted, organized and cleaned. We even managed to bring ourselves to throw out about a quarter of it.
In the attic, I was surprised to find six large plastic tubs that I had shipped here when I first moved to Switzerland. Okay, I knew they were up there, but I didn't remember what was in them. What I found was enough clothes and shoes to last me for the next twenty years or more. Most of it was brand new or only worn once. If you had seen all of the clothes I sold at the estate sale my mom and I had at my old house, you would have been embarrassed for me. Nobody needs that many items of clothing. I don't know what I was thinking when I used to buy so much. And yet I had still shipped enough to stock a fairly good sized clothing store. And what's worse is that I didn't even know what I had. In my defense though, I have to remember that I had gained a lot of weight when I first moved here and wasn't able to wear most of it. Now I can and it's as if I went on a huge shopping spree.
And here's a personal note to Mom, who's probably laughing as she's reading this... I will never say another word about the clothes in your closets. I promise.
Another project completed is that we installed a fan/light over our patio table. We needed the fan to keep the flies away, but the cool air that it gives has been great on warm days. Switzerland, with it's lack of air-conditioning, can be almost unbearable on hot summer days.
We (Herbert) also finished the fountain. Here's a photo of the Buddha garden as it stands today...
We have a few things to finish before this part of our garden is finished. We need to make the wooden bench for the right section, buy rocks that will go under the bench, plant around the barrels and buy a few water plants to go in it. We'll probably wait until next Spring to do the planting, but I hope to have the bench finished this Fall. The only thing that will be left is to add an outlet that will be controlled by a remote control. We've ordered it, but have to wait. It will have four lines that will control not only the fountain, but three spot lights as well. In the meantime, we've been running the fountain most of the day and evening.
We have two guest staying in our house this week and we've sat on our patio with them on two of the evenings drinking wine, listening to the fountain, laughing and talking. They've been very nice and interesting evenings. The only problem for me has been that the talking is all in 'high' German. These were the first two times in my life that I've had to speak German, other than for a few minutes in the class I took. Herbert says I'm doing very well, but the only thing I feel is a big headache after a few hours. German and Swiss German are so different and I get completely stuck in Swiss German. Then I find myself constantly translating in my head, but not from English to German, but from Swiss German to German. It's really not at all easy.
When Herbert's son Yves moved out of our house to a bigger house on the other side of the village last month, we decided to move our guest room to the small apartment he lived in on our ground floor. It has more light and a kitchen. We thought we'd make the old guest room into a fitness room and let the new guest room wait for all of the friends and family that we hope will come visit us.
Trudi, the owner of the Bären Restaurant, had a tour of our house during my birthday party. She asked if she could rent the guest room when she had extra visitors. We thought it was a great idea. Burkhard and Christa are our first guests from Trudi. They are so friendly and easy to have around that we will welcome more guests in the future. If they'll allow me, I'll take a photo of them before they leave on Friday and post it.
I say 'if they'll allow me' because of a story that was in our local paper the other day. It was about Bruce Willis, the actor. According to the story, he spent the first few years of his life as a very poor boy living with his American parents in Germany. He was recently in that town in Germany and stopped by, announced, at the house where he had lived. The woman living there now answered the door with curlers in her hair. He asked if he could go down into the basement to see the room where his family had lived. She obliged. When Herbert told me about this story, I thought, 'How heartwarming.' Then he continued. According to the woman, Mr. Willis declined her offer to have a cup of coffee (which can be considered quite rude in many parts of Europe) and also refused to allow her to take a photo of him. Apparently, he had gotten what he needed and wasn't there to give anything, not even an extra moment of his time. Okay, maybe there's another side to that story, but come on.
Anyway, I'm quite positive that Burkhard and Christa don't have Bruce Willis's attitude. I just have to practice my 'high' German for, "Would you mind if I took your photo to post on the internet?"
Back to talking about the Bären Restaurant... Now that I have my visa to live here, I'm allowed to work in the canton of Bern. Three weeks ago, Trudi had a funeral lunch scheduled and needed someone to help serve. She asked me if I could work for her. I really didn't want to do it. It's not that I'm afraid of working and I'm certainly not afraid to serve tables. I used to love it when I was going to school. But, serving in a different language where speaking in the informal form vs. the formal form (which I can't) can be offensive to some? That I really didn't want to do. And for a funeral lunch? I've avoided everything surrounding funerals for most of my life. But, I felt she needed help and I didn't want to say no. I agreed to work and Manuela and I served about 60 people and I think we did a good job. The next week, Trudi called me again for another funeral lunch with 85 people. I worked again. So, if you knew me in the past as an electrical engineer working in the printed circuit board industry, change your paradigm. I'm now a part-time English teacher, part-time Hausfrau and part-time funeral lunch waitress. All in all, not a bad life.
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