Monday, May 31, 2010

I have just come home from running and I have a story to tell.

But first, a few words of wisdom gleaned on this Monday morning:

1. Never wear sunglasses to go running in the forest when the day is only half-sunny.

2. Never wear running shoes in a rocky forest when it's been raining for weeks.

3. Never be afraid of the bogeyman when you can be afraid of cows.

4. Never run alone in street shoes in a wet and rocky forest full of cows with your sunglasses on.

I had just posted the quaint picture of cows off my balcony when I left the house for a run. I asked myself... the usual route, or a new one ? (the usual route being the safer of the two.)

A rather impulsive person, I decided on the new one... and off I went to do the parcours vita - running. Well, first of all the climb to the top of the hill is steep, so halfway up I had to slow to a nordic walk lest my lungs give out. As I was ascending, I recalled my neighbor's warning, "If you go running in the forest, Allison, leave a note on the table saying where you've gone so we can find you if you get hurt."

Hmmm, not a chance.

Naturally, walking through a dark forest (sunglasses to blame) creeped me out and I began looking around to see if someone were following me. But as I crested the hill and emerged from the forest I spied the movie set for the Sound of Music and was immediately relieved!

The hills are alive! But with the sound of cow bells?

A warning sign guarded entry to the field... "Suckling cows protect their young. Please keep your distance."

My knees went weak. I could either retrace my steps through the forest and risk encountering a bogeyman, or I could brave the mother cows and risk getting gorged. A quandary for this fertile imagination. There was a time, you see, when I had helped out at a farm. It was seventeen years ago, and my job had been to bring in the cows. I was once "attacked", though it came to naught. Still... I am leery of them to this day.

I opted for the fields, trying my best to think of Do Re Mi and the children who ran fearlessly through dales such as these with guitar in hand, singing. I made it over the hill, thanking God for deliverance, and began to enter the forest again. More bells. In the forest? Seriously? This time I was downright scared. You can't see cows in the forest; they blend in! Hurrying down the hill, I forgot to look out for slippery rocks, and felt my feet slide out from under me.


My thigh and arm hit the hard forest floor and I lay there thinking of my neighbor, thinking of the cows, thinking... "I should have taken the usual route!" Yes, I realized at the time that I was freaking myself out.

Well... obviously I managed to pull myself together (or I wouldn't be alive now writing this post) and run home.

I thought you might like to know that among my fanciful and imaginative posts is the hard reality faced by a dreamer in distress. Cheers!
From my balcony ... happy daisies picked by a friend and tiny cows grazing in the background. (if you click to enlarge the picture you will see them)

Sigh... I've said it before - Disneyland!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The jar has been filled yet again.

This time with pink M&Ms to support breast cancer research. A small act of sorority you can look into at

I'll say just one thing. To the women out there who bear this or other such burdens, I know that pink candy is so insignificant. Rather than praise it, let me praise you for your courage, your strength and the beauty that as a woman no one can ever take from you.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

This time it's personal - and beautiful - and maybe a little tearful.

A surprise birthday party just for me.

Apéro with all things homemade.

Candlelight in attic room.

Birthday roses from the Russian - I wouldn't trade him for the world.

As my daughter so aptly put it...these are some of the women dearest to me. They are the friends who make up the puzzle that is
this gallimaufry life.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yes, this street is really called Moron Street. Ok, I'll give you that it doesn't mean what I think it means in the French, but still ... come on ... the one street I wouldn't like to live on (because the truth hurts!). Well, there's the town about 20 minutes from here called "Hell Town". Not my first pick either. Can you imagine? Living on Moron Street in Hell Town?

In the cool of last evening, a bikeride. The scent of summer - the speeding sensation of gliding down hills on wheels - the comfort of holding hands while biking in the pale glow of coming aestival night.

The blue bicycle - gift from my very own Russian.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little Darling snipped this right off its stem last weekend before it even had a chance to bloom!

We've kept it in a little glass yogurt jar and have been watching its fingers unfurl into tiny violet blossoms...

We're waiting for it as we've waited for Fern - as love waits. (see older post)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day in Lausanne...

Bits of time here and there to soak in the imposing architecture of the world's Olympic capital city -

Charming vespas lined up near the conservatory where students sit on ancient steps under towering trees.

And lunch at an outdoor café with a long-time colleague and friend.

Archaic buildings rise up against dazzling lake - and still you can see the sky if you look straight up!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chilly walk in verdant Swiss overgrowth.

White lilacs are my favorite find - they're nearly gone now. Spring is slipping from us and soon will come the heavy, droopy days of summer when the buzz of insects is heard and the distant hum of lawnmowers fills the air.

Lollipop spied at nap time... Where else but Switzerland can you find a tomcat squatting perfectly on a rail looking out over a perfectly lovely valley?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beauty bathed in evening sun.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sometimes I think we surround our hearts with barriers. We fence ourselves in in an effort to safeguard our tenderest places; the places others would trample down without a thought.

Everyone has a secret garden, don't you think?

I know I do.

I come in contact with people I don't know every day. I pass by them, smile, say hello. When I'm crabby, I avert my eyes and pretend not to see them; but it is my loss, not theirs. There are always broken places in people's heart fences. You have only to look. Broken places that will let you in simply because they are too worn to keep you out.

And what do I do with them? Dare I stop on my busy way to examine the gap? Dare I stop and help to mend?

In the past, an intimate few have dared help repair my heart, and taken the time to come in.

There is no fear in love...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

S w e e t F e e t

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cleaning Day .. ugh!

Is Friday your day to become Donna Reed incarnate, or are you like a friend of mine who gets all her cleaning done on Monday and is thus free for the entire week! She says her ancestors have always cleaned on Monday, so why wasn't I born into that efficient family? Here it is Friday, and I've got all the marketing to do, flowers to plant and the entire house to set to rights.

To all those who've taken vacuum cleaner in hand today I say ...

Go forth and conquer!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Did you know that these old jalopy gas pumps even existed anymore?

Driving through a small town, I stopped for gas at the tiniest blast from the past you ever did see. The numbers on one side had been gouged out, and there was nothing remotely state-of-the-art or digitally sophisticated about the working side. To boot... the station sold a mere two types of gas ... diesel and unleaded regular. An easy pick in our world of option-overload.

I'm hooked.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spring planting!

A shard of sunshine provided a coveted backdrop for a friend and I to spend the afternoon at our local nursery picking out this summer's color.

Vibrant pinks and greens, softer blues and whites... my littlest dashed back and forth between impatiens, cosmea, begonia and the oddest exotic flower I've ever seen. Can we take one home just for me?

Such spoils!

Tiny fingers plant tiny seeds in tiny pot

while I get to work on all this lush beauty!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rhubarb pound cake
to celebrate the coming
of summer days.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Worn through ...

These hand-made socks knit by a friend leagues away have been loved clean through. They brought warmth to the feet and love to the heart on many a winter's night.

I've laid them to rest in my underwear drawer to await the day when I will make sock bunnies out of them to cheer my children when they're sick (hubby might like that too, come to think of it!). There are always more uses for hand-made love ...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Early morning walk in the forest.

Before I was allowed re-entry on the premises, the russian insisted on cleaning my boots! I told you this country is clean...

Fields of colza in darkened sky.

Luscious beauty grown to feed animals, fuel cars, oil machinery and sear our meat. An etendue of intense effulgence that draws the eye on a gloomy day.

And provides relief from the mundane.

Come and run in fields of gold!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Flamenco ...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big blues eyes set in pleading face ... May I bake some bread today, mom ... all by myself?

I weighed what I thought would be the damages of such an undertaking. The floor would undoubtedly be covered in flour, more utensils than I could possibly imagine would be piled in the sink, my new kitchen sponge gooey with pasty baking residue; ruined at best.

A sigh.

Sure you can! And a squeal of delight.

The bread we feasted on at supper was not only delicious, it was better than any I've made of late. We smothered it in jam, French cheese and Swiss meat spread. We evaluated its texture, admired its crunchy crust, beamed over its beautiful shape and color.

Later in the evening, as little feet were padding their way off to bed, two arms slid up behind me and a head rested on my back. How I love you, mom. So, so much.

Is love increased when it lets others fly? By letting go, I do believe one is given back... one-hundredfold.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Train ride to Soleure in a quest for new jeans!

Lucky for us it was market day ...

And a dose of Europe's signature charm was not hard to come by...

One day, I shall tell you about the shopper on wheels! But I will need photographic evidence first.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Walk with me ...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Brilliant olio gathers to greatness in an unassuming display of divine pleasure.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Homemade caramels from the hands of a friend...

I know the work that goes into these; believe me, we've tried to make them. Once, the Russian and I spent hours stirring the sugar and cream only to have a chewy, gooey, sorry mess to show for it. (He is particularly fond of caramel).

There are the little striped bags we buy at the annual fair for ... what did the man say? Fourteen dollars? We divvy them up abstemiously - and wish for more.

And then one Sunday, into our hands falls an entire bag of Amélie-love; we look at each other in wonder. Can it be?

There are none left now, in case you're wondering. I'd invite you for coffee and a caramel, but alas ... there is only coffee now.

Yet if you'd like to fill up the jar, by all means!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The best Mother's Day present, besides the sweet songs my children sing to me in the morning and the freshly gathered bouquets they bring to me in bed, is the memory of carrying each of them inside me. It is a gift I will never forget; an intimacy that cannot be broken.

In a more distant past... my own mother carrying me in her arms. And I know beyond a doubt that she felt the same love and intimacy with me.

And my nana before her ...

What is Mother's Day if not an expression of that which already is? Tribal love passed on and on - women of a same blood loving one another into the next generation, ultimately shoving their children off and away into the waters of their own lives... and watching them sail.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Did you put a bow on the pineapple, mom?

Indeed, I did! And isn't it grand dressing up the ordinary of life? Cutting it up at snack time was like opening a birthday present - for no particular reason at all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Growing up in Southern California afforded plenty of opportunity to visit Disneyland. As a young girl, I would sit in the blue plastic boat as it wound its way through the It's a Small World ride, marvelling over the quaint and utterly whimsical, fairylike landscapes. I thought to myself how I would love to live in a place like that!

My children are no stranger to my dreamy, if not imaginative, nature. As we drive through pastoral settings after seventeen years, they still hear me exclaim as if I just got off the boat yesterday, 'Look! We live in Disneyland!' Groans ensue.... Mom - not again!

Every day I look out my window and wonder if I'm dreaming. This is the view from my bathroom. (!) It is the direction I look if I want to incline my heart toward my Swiss friends - for their houses are not far off in the distance. They live out there - in the small world.

Even with all that lush greenness and charm, one fact remains ...

Home is where the heart is. And if you don't believe it, try living in the plastic boat.