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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Choose Wisely

Initially I titled this blog "wind beneath my wings".  I know it sounds like another terrible cliche, but perhaps they exist for a reason.  Maybe we all experience them at some point in our lives and as a such can easily relate.  Let me elaborate...

Two years have passed since my arrival in Zurich.  I have experienced so much, good and bad - and now I must watch someone close to me face the biggest challenge of his life.  I will not speak about the challenge my friend faces as that is his story to share - not mine. Selfishly I must admit I was thrown off.  I was angry at the injustice of life.  I floated between acceptance and denial - the pendulum swinging to extremes.  In my life, I have learned that one must be prepared to battle if necessary.  But this time the enemy was not mine and I had to accept that this was not a battle I could fight. As I struggled to deal with my helplessness I was in fact even comforted by my friend and his strength.

I cannot believe how incredibly blessed I am with my family.  Always there, I have felt the warmth of unconditional love and support no matter what the hurdle.  Even my son encourages, inspires and supports me to the point that in moments I sometimes wonder who is actually the parent.  But now let me get back to my two years here in Zurich.  I have another family.  My Zurich family.  An eclectic blend of nationalities and backgrounds, they have become incredibly special to me.  This week as I struggled with the fragile veil of composure they were there.  Instantly.  In essence they were indeed the wind beneath my wings this week.

The gratitude I feel for these people is enormous.  As lucky as I am to have such an amazing family back home, I am also extraordinarily fortunate to have this adopted Zurich one as well.

In all my written ramblings over the years, I have refrained from offering any type of advice or specific insight - but today that is different.  I say choose wisely.  Someday, sometime we will unfortunately all face a challenge, so choose carefully the people you let close to you.  Let the ones go who are unworthy.  Decide what type of friend you want to be.  Enjoy the moments, the days, the laughter.  Choose the type of life you want.  I have an amazing one, simply because of the company I choose to keep.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Poutine!

I introduced my friends to the infamous French Canadian POUTINE (not sure why autocorrect insists on all capitals here) last night, and despite their skepticism it was a resounding success. 

Of course I could not obtain cheese curds, so we improvised with a few variations.  Even the blue cheese version went over well. 




A combination of French fries, gravy and cheese - diets were parked at door.  


And then we had to move on to some salmon marinated in maple syrup and jalapeño.  It is a bit fun sharing some of the taken-for-granted-Canadian-stuff with friends here.


Although I miss having all the entertaining  "gear" that I had back in Canada, I am making do and enjoy cooking for friends once again.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

At First Sight

That is it.  I am completely and totally in love.
The first evening was spent wandering about the city
streets, delightfully lost.  

I have never really had a surprise trip before.  Although I had some suspicions about the destination,  I really did not ultimately know until I was at the gate.  How is this possible in today's modern world of high security air travel?  Let me just say that I did not even have to show one piece of identification from the moment I entered the airport until arriving at the hotel.  Yes, apparently the hotel was more concerned about my identity than airport security, but alas that is a rant and not quite what I am in the mood for today.

So I arrived in Venice (not Venus as auto correct would prefer to have had me doing for some reason) and immediately fell in love.



There was an adorable old book store, absolutely loaded with used books.  Anyone who knows me is well-acquainted with my affinity for old and antique books.  The wonderful staircase of books was hidden in the books store's rear courtyard and lead to a spectacular canal view.  I could have spent hours there.

This little trip was good for me.  As I shared before, the road has been a bit bumpy lately.  I have spent much time worrying about things of which I had no control.  Enjoying a moment had become difficult because I was not in it.  My mind was elsewhere.  




Of course we had to do a tour on the black gondola. I like to call this photo "rush hour in Venice."

To cross or not to cross?  Translated this sign reads "Bridge of the Devil". Guess what I did?


How could I not fall in love with this place when waking to this view each morning of my short stay?

Heading under the famous Rialto bridge in the black gondola.


But then Venice happened.  I found myself living only in the moment.  Absorbing the history, the people, the vibe of the place - I have to admit that I even adore the sound of the language.  No, it is not my first time in Italy, far from it in fact, I seem to have sort of have a thing for this country.

Anyway, to ramble on seems wrong somehow.  I cannot do the affection I have for this place justice - perhaps the photos will instead :)

So true.  I found this at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and loved the sentiment.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lost in Translation


Call me childish, but the name of this place made me smile.  I found it while enjoying the most amazing ski day at Flims.  




Saturday, March 1, 2014

Unanticipated Change

Wednesday my BFF and I were enjoying a few laughs during our weekly wellness evening.  My friend, the consummate planner was struggling with another friends insistence on keeping a visit spontaneous.  It was pushing my friend completely out of her comfort zone and I must admit I enjoyed watching her struggle with it.

I have always been spontaneous.  Actually more like a commitment phobic, I have spent most of my adult life deflecting efforts to organize my free time.  It worked in the beginning with my friend.  She just booked me in for stuff and I just sort of showed up.  I didn't have to plan.

Fast forward a year later.  I am to go to a dinner party at a friends house tonight.  I knew this 6 days in advance.  Even then I found myself having to rebook and move my schedule around to accommodate the dinner.  This morning I woke up and felt restless, even though I did not have any particular plan, I was a bit anxious about knowing what time dinner was so I could plan out my day in between.

Funny.

And this week I decided to organize my own dinner party so I could expose my friends to the merits of an artery clogging poutine dinner.  After mapping out schedules with my two must have people for the dinner, we ended up settling on a date in mid April.

Somehow, someway it seems that my commitment phobic ways have eased up.  That sense of panic I used to feel for planning far in advance is gone.  I am okay with committing to spend time with someone or something.  I do not want to explore the psychology behind it all, because I am sure both you and I have better things to do than wade through all that muck.

And of course that triggered some more reflection.  I thought of how punctual I have become, the result of my structured Swiss environment. I also thought of how I avoid buying things and spend more on experiential moments.  After owning two cars for many years I have almost reached the two year mark of having no vehicle and travel only by public transport.  I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin, literally, when I enjoy the much coveted sauna evenings.  I have learned to put the credit card away and pay only with cash.  I learned the incredible value of friendship from living somewhere entirely alone.  The list is long.  I suppose over the past 4 years I have changed a bit more than I thought.  Change was not something that I set out to do on this transatlantic adventure of mine.  But I did.  I am not the same person I was when I left my home country.

I am so thankful for this experience.   For all of it.  The people, the places.  I did not plan to move to Europe ever.  It was not a part of my life goals.  The whole thing just sort of happened before I had really absorbed the reality of it all.  And in the end, I think I am better for the experience of it.





Monday, February 24, 2014

A Second Chance

I had a nice chat with my mother last night.  She recently found my blog here and read over my Panama plane entry.  Her advice was that I should read that one over every now and then. 

So I did.

It is funny really, we face something traumatic  and then life as we know it changes.  But, I suppose we can slip into the rigger of routine and forget what it is like to face death in the eye but escape its grasp.

This is exactly what happened to me.

I forgot the elation of simply being alive.  Of being able to see those I love again.  To experience daily routines.  To make new friends.  To love, to to be hurt.  Such an amazing gift it was to walk off that plane alive.

I slipped a little recently.  I forgot how incredibly fortunate I am to just wake up to another day.  I might even have forgotten to tell some special people how incredibly important they are to me. 


Here is the link to the blog about the unforgettable Panama flight.  http://dawns-rant.blogspot.ch/2011/11/plane-buzzard-and-no-regrets.html

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hockey Time!

Trust me, this statement is more true that you could possibly imagine.
Last Sunday evening I was watching the Finland versus Canada hockey game with a friend.  He had made the mistake of turning the game on for me while he prepared something for us to snack on.  Immediately engrossed, I failed to hear anything he was uttering until the "oh my god you really are Canadian aren't you?"

Yeah.  I don't know how it happens, but it does.  When I was teen, my popularity soared when I started dating the lead scorer on the top local hockey team.  My indirect affiliation with a budding hockey hero providing the validation necessary to enhance my social standing with my peers.  Weekends I spent happily rink side cheering my then boyfriend and recounting each moment with my friends.  Sadly our relationship ended when he transferred his passion from hockey to curling.  Watching someone sweep ice weekend after weekend was not really my thing it seems.

Anyway, I still adore hockey.  I love the live sound of skates on ice, the tension of a tight game, enjoy my beer from the plastic cup while I watch - I simply love being there.  Now it is the Olympics.  We are doing well this year.  But as I write this I am also watching the Sweden versus Canada playoff game.  Facebook was alive with people back home happily waking at 4, 5, 6 am on a Sunday to take in this game.  I like that I am watching this at the same time as so many of my friends and family back home, it is a passion shared by an entire country.  Hockey is the one sport, or one thing,  that essentially unites our country.  Winter is unbearable without it.

I recall the last Olympics in Vancouver.  After being on the road for three months I happened to land in the middle of the Canada versus US hockey game.  No one would pick me up.  Grabbing the last taxis at the airport, I couldn't help but notice the roads were practically empty of cars.  Canadians instead at home on the edge of their seats.  Not only is hockey important, but we take particular pride when we happen to beat the US - so I really didn't stand a chance.  Any self respecting Canadian would not miss such a moment.

It is kind of cool.  I am an ocean away, but right now I enjoying, and sharing in a Canadian moment.








I picked this video because it is a sampling of some of the songs that you hear at a hockey game.  Just listening to the mix puts me a good mood.  Go Canada!






Saturday, February 22, 2014

Another Sunny Saturday

Just spent some time updating my running playlist. This Hedley tune seems to add a little extra bounce in my stride, so I decided to share.

Happy Saturday :)



Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Morning Moment

I woke up feeling particularly happy today. In part because I could feel the warmth of missed sunshine upon my face along with the promise of a beautiful day. Happy text messages from back home were waiting on my phone.  Another message from my BFF away on a trip but still making certain I had interesting things to fill my every spare moment. My flat filled with the smell of the beautiful bouquet of flowers that were laying on my desk when I arrived for work the day before.   

And, it was also in part because of the evening before.  A long, relaxed dinner eating exotic foods, the likes of which I dare not share here. Conversation that covered every subject imaginable; food, wine, our cultures, work, life, travel, family  – even taxes.  I have known my friend for a long time, but this was the first time we had ever talked in such detail.  I still feel the glow of a good time spent.

The past few weeks have had me questioning a few of my life decisions.  Pressures from a continent away.  Days that challenged me to the point of numb exhaustion.  I could not help but question essentially everything.   The cloudy days only exasperating the doubt that lay heavy on my mind.

But today, it is different. 




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ground Day and Sechseläuten

A meme came by on my Facebook feed that made me smile. I have a few friends that pass around funny ones and was about to share this particular one when I realized that there was no point.  You see, it was about Groundhog Day.  Yeah, every Canadian (and American) knows what I am talking about here.  It is one of those things that we do not really, truly embrace as fact – but rather as some sort of assurance that indeed winter was coming to a close.

Each year Groundhog Day falls on February 2nd.  How it works is someone sets up a camera outside of a groundhog hole.  If it happens to be cloudy when  he exits his underground home for the day then spring will come early. If it it is sunny, the groundhog allegedly with see his shadow and retreat back into the ground then we all have to suffer through another for six more weeks of winter.

Ironically, this whole Groundhog thing was started by German immigrants in Pennsylvania.  At least that is the best that I can find. Anyway, my point is that not one over here would really appreciate that meme.  

And then I thought of Sechseläuten.  I experienced it for the first time last year.  This is an event that happens exclusively in the Canton of Zurich.  It takes place on the "must take" route to my home so I am a participant whether I want to be or not.  A big deal, the results of this event make news headlines all over the country.  You see, depending on how quickly the giant snowman (filled with explosives) burns is a direct indicator of how long summer will be in Switzerland.  The burning takes place usually on the third Monday of April, normally following Ash Wednesday.

Although both different, the wishful thinking that lay behind for warmer weather is similar. I get them both.  Fun, and a wonderful conversation piece they are however not conversations that easily work continent to continent.  I cannot imagine explaining to my colleagues about the groundhog. They would think Canadians are already a bit more strange than what they already do.  And to explain to a Canadian about a firework filled snowman  - well, they would think I was a bit strange too.

So, after all of that – I decided to keep the groundhog meme to myself.  










Friday Night


Friday arrived and I need to get out.  The week was a long one for me.  In fact one evening I was home and congratulating myself on making it through Wednesday when I realized it was just Tuesday.  That day sure felt like two in one let me tell you.  Therefore I didn't want to make plans as I was torn between wanting to get away to somewhere or just surviving with some modicum of humour left.   
I think I need one of these for my wall at home.  Okay, perhaps not.

Friday night arrived and I was restless.  I wanted to get out.  But I was particular. I wanted casual, easy conversation and a good vibe.  My best pal suggested el Lokal.  It was perfect.  The sort of place you can just be, relax and look around. Since it is sort of a unique place here, I decided to share a few photos.


This guy is hanging off the ceiling.  He sort of looked exactly how my week felt :)

When you run out of conversation 
(okay, that never happens to me)
there is plenty of useful stuff around 

to help out with that.

Canada!  Yeah.  A bit pathetic, but hey...






Thursday, February 6, 2014

Home

Hmm... A lot of truth to these words. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Another Cute Super Bowl Ad

I admit, I am a complete sap, a closet romantic, a lover of happy endings - and puppies :)  This made me feel all warm inside when I watched it so I had to share…


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Last Day and no Shades of Grey


Check out that blue baby!
By the end of the trip there we had pretty much
conquered every part of the ski area.  This area was by
far our favourite and we were nearly alone there too. 
Check out that view!
And so came the end of our girls ski holiday.  The last day was nothing short of magnificent.  The sky boasted various shades of bright blue, and the fresh powder that fell the night before made for an 'epic' ski day (tis Canadian ski day lingo).  Bluebird is another term we use to describe this sort of day.

We shared a lot of laughs, often at our own expense.  On the way back we reminised about some of the most amusing moments.

One of the more amusing things for me was to witness Claudia explain to the many hotel guests that "of course we had a suite, as we were not a couple or anything."  In all fairness the breakfast room was rather populated with a generous representation of men ready to take on the infamous "white ring."

Overall our trip went without one hiccup.  That was until the ride home.  After a day of skiing and evening sauna we opted for the late train home. Snacking on our Austrian treats we recapped the highlights. It wasn't before long that we noticed we were in Bregenz, instead of heading to Zurich.  We stopped a fellow who was working on the train and asked what was going on.  Certain all was okay, we were convinced the guy was merely joking when he said we were in the wrong part of the train when it separated.  

So we disembarked and made our way to the closest bar and ordered a wine.  Claudia grabbed every schedule she could find while I enjoyed the fact that a plan of hers had not panned out the way expected (I am not trusted to make plans you see).   In the end the train came.  Our luggage was heavy.  Mine particularly so with my Stroh's stash, ski boots, and the million clothes I brought but never bothered to wear.  I also had a ski bag on my shoulder.  A security guard came to my rescue and insisted he load my suitcase in the train for me.  The best part was when he couldn't do it and I had to rescue him instead.  Laughing until we cried we made our way to the restaurant car.  As we enjoyed the Swiss landscape from the window I teased Claudia about the fact her flat did not have an elevator.  The joke was on me when I can home to discover that my elevator was out of service.  

I loved this sign.  Sausage and beer breakfast.  I found it at one of the many 'huts' in the area.That is something that you would NEVER see in Canada! 


Although our plan to read a million books was thwarted by the fatigue of long, but awesome ski days and our evenings out often ended before they began with lights out at 22:30, we still feel like we did it all.  We made some new friends, we learned to ski better and even more importantly, two friends actually enjoyed each others company until the very end!  Woot!


Look, I know what to do with my poles now!  
Seems my ski lessons paid off :)


Happy Me :)   I am not sure why, but skiing makes me happy.  
I am not the best skier by an stretch of the imagination, 
but once I am on the hill the stress of life is a distant memory.

We paused to enjoy the sun while I took a couple of work calls.  
I loved my new office!

Stroh's and hot chocolate!  I fell in love.  
Claudia was emphatic that my skiing improved with each one :)

Apres ski?  When in Rome as they say…  I am not sure if the photo is blurry or we were!



We absolutely loved our stay at das Georg and plan to return soon.
The problem with the ski huts is that space is at an absolute premium,
so you make new friends with each hot chocolate whether you wish to or not!
I was the only one without sunglasses and completely blinded.




The consummate planner, I never have to bother with the where/when as Claudia likes to have all that under control.  However, when our train separated and we ended up spending a late night in Bregenz instead of home in Zurich she simply could not get her hands on enough train schedules to mull 
over with her wine

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Snow Surfing

And so it continues...


Claudia and I got completely lost on this vast web of mountainous terrain until a ski instructor decided to crash our little map assessment party.  He decided to take control of the situation, and to be honest, we were not so displeased with that. When he offered to ski with us - we were not unhappy with that either. The light was flat and our visibility and depth perception were low. However, when he insisted that we ski on one ski, I was a bit skeptical.  Had he not been wearing the official ski instructor jacket, we would have (I hope) been more concerned.  He insisted after a preliminary run assessment that this would be be great practice for us - that following this we would ace the two ski situation with little difficulty.
(Note the one leg)

I could not help but glance around and check to see if there was some hidden camera guy - certain we would end up on late night tv somewhere in the world.  But, whatever, you only live once - right?  So our new friend Stephan took us down the slope on one ski.  And I must confirm, after that whole scenario - two skis feels like a walk in the park in comparison.

(Note Mr Ski Instructor laughing - likely because he actually succeeded in talking us into skiing on one ski...) 

In the end, Stephan became our new pal, and he gave us some invaluable ski tips.  I know absolutely that following my time here in t Lech I will be an infinitely better skier than when I arrived.  So will Claudia. It also reinforced the importance of being open to new situations and experiences.

(And no, we have no clue where he came from, he decided simply to grab a photo op. I thought it turned out funny and was worth sharing anyway.)

As we wrapped up a successful, albeit, challenging ski day with a little glühwien, the smiles continued...




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The White Ring

I must admit, I barely have the energy to think this evening - never mind write because of what is known as a "white ring".  Furthermore, I must confess that last sentence was all that I could muster energy wise as it is now 24 hours after the "white ring" and I have now nearly full enough faculties to carry on.



So now you must be wondering what he heck is a "white ring" anyway.

Did she get some sort incurable skin disease?  Does she have a goggle tan line? Is it a new Tolkien movie?

Easily summarized like this,  you are skiing all over the frigging place.  Village to village, I honestly have no clue where we went.  People come from all over the place to tackle this thing.  It is even home too what I am told is the worlds longest ski race.

 (More on the white ring here http://www.derweissering.at/HD/index_en.php). 


It began with our 'house mom' recommending a ski instructor.  Erich. What we found out when we met him is that he has skied with the likes of Hollywood stars including the likes of names like Nicole Kidman and is even a ski pal of Princess Caroline as well as godfather to one of her children.  So this made Claudia and I competitive. I mean if delicate royalty and Hollywood could keep up with Erich, then we could - no?  We dutifully attempted whatever Erich threw our way.  Claudia infinitely more graceful than I, but what I lacked in grace I made up for with enthusiastic whoohoos, and a bit of uncoordinated speed down the hill.  Both Claudia and I tried to cheat on occasion with poor form when Eric had his back turned - but he could literally hear it!


When the ski day finally concluded, we took in a little après ski at Hotel Krone and prepared to warm up for the birthday celebration (it was mine) that lay ahead.  We did well.  Two glasses of glühwien, a sauna, and the birthday celebration ended up with two fatigued females in bed by 22:00. 


But, in the end, we survived the white ring...







Sunday, January 19, 2014

Après to Ski - Day 2

IWell, I have to admit - après ski Austrian style is tough to beat.  White Night was indeed worth going out to check out. 


After a late start to our evening we ended up finding the most crowded, hopping bar with the most eclectic assortment of people you could possibly imagine.  We were actually just looking for a place to have a tea - but we ended up revising our plans.  



Anyway, we had a bit of a late start but enjoyed the sunny sping ski type weather.  Overall we have been a bit overwhelmed by the level of service and effort everyone seems to put forth to make our stay a nice one.  



At last run we opted to stop in for a bit of time at the ice bar.  Not so much ice, but the dj was great.  


Yes we are dancing in a reclined position.  We were conserving energy for the run back to our hotel.  



...and now it is sauna time!  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Road Trip - Day 1


And we are off!



Long planned, we are both looking forward to our girlie holiday.  Lech, Austria is our destination, so skiing will be a big part our days - but our suitcases contain enough for any possible contingency plan    You will even find a yoga mat or two in our ski bags.  

However, we decided to begin our two plus journey in style.  Fresh oysters (our cabin mates didn't seem to mind - really ;) and some white wine.  The tone for the holiday had officially been set!  


Oysters and wine are good for the flu - no?  Although I must admit I am enjoying the sound of my fog horn voice :). Claudia suggested that it matched my red eyes - but whatever!


And we arrived at the hotel.  I have to commend Claudia on the hotel selection - even the door dog is wearing LV. 

The room - a tribute to Tina...



Las we soaked in our surroundings out front, the owner of the hotel informed us that we MUST go out as it is the evening of the "white night". In an effort not to offend - seems we shall soon see what this means.  

As we sip our, well, not our first glass of wine -  we soaked in the funky decorating.  Traditional, trendy & kitch.  





And of course the theme continues..