Sunday, May 25, 2014

Slackarse Sunday Selection

....It's nearly 5pm here in Switzerland, so it's already Monday in Oz, but with a year of ideas and photos and learnings, my brain has instead decided to stay in Sleeping in on Sunday-mode and not do much in the area of work, words or creativity.

It's been a while, but I remember loving the Sunday Selections weekly meme that is hosted by the living legend that is 'River' over at Drifting Through Life. 

Her rules are very simple:-

1. Post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. Link back to River somewhere in your post3. Leave a comment on River's post and visit some of the others who have posted and commented: for example:    Elephant's Child    Keep working through it    Kit Conn

Here are my iPhone orphans:

A bathroom mirror from IKEA.  Purchased to let me keep my elderly eyes on any stray facial hair.  I only noticed that it was called 'frack' when I got home and thought it rather neatly summed up what my reaction is at seeing my face first thing every morning.

At Milly's Meadow (officially known as Parc de Trembley), we found this rather clean sofa plonked right in the middle of the beautifully manicured lawns one Sunday morning.  It may not have been my preferred style but it was eagerly leapt upon by Milly.  Having a sofa of her own plus a long walk meant that all she needed to complete the ecstasy trifecta was a few slices of bacon.

I've revealed the Jovial Douche shower gel, Douche Parking, the Chateau d'Ouchy and Vadge Fresh to you before, but why not have some extra brain cells for those clever comebacks in addition to minty fresh breath?

Other brand favourites include our current shower gel - Douche Sensations (although I get enough of those 'sensations' just driving Sapphire to school amongst the never-ending road works, impatient horn honkers and the French Suisse's allergy to using indicators); Grande Cracks (biscuits for cheese) and 'extra dick' pizza bases.....

Parking perpendicularly is a selfish annoyance in the communal garage under our apartment building as it prevents not only the car directly being blocked from getting out but also the car opposite, as the space is too narrow to back out from.  If this car wasn't so adorable, it might - just might - have had a bag of Milly's butt nuggets placed under the windscreen wipers.

Last summer, the building's residential owners committee decided to invest in a robot mower.  Shallow channels were dug, wires inserted and carefully defined paths laid out for the green machine.  All went swimmingly until autumn, when the beast simply could not recognise or cope with wet leaves.  To the mower's mind, they were flat stickers on the floor, but to the aggrieved concierge, they were nature's litter and an unbearable offence to all who lived there.

However, just before they retired the mower for the winter season, Milly entertained the neighbours at the eastern end of the building with her never-fail, highly outraged lunch time reaction:

Yes, I guess that this is cheating a little as it's a video and not a photo, but imagine this performance occurring Every. Single. Day.....

.....within a fortnight she had several retired couples deliberately timing their balcony sandwiches and cuppas so that they could be entertained by our insane little orange dog.
The mower is back in business again, and so is Milly's pursuit of it.

Sapphire and I went zip lining with our gregariously gorgeous friend Gianna and her nephew Malachy in a forest just near Nyon.  It was then that my suspicion that French Suisse concerns for Health and Safety were nowhere near as stringent as that in Australia or the UK were indeed confirmed. 

Call it the Gallic shrug, or perhaps the fact that Gianna and I were the only people older than fifteen years old participating, but clearly the wooden platforms at each end of the lines were merely serving suggestions and not rigorously tested or secured.

Then factor in my 72 kilogram frame (easily being the largest of the four of us), a downward wire and momentum building to a level that saw my cheeks flapping back like a beagle's ears and my bulky bod was smacked directly into the trunk of an ancient oak tree and swiftly flung halfway back up the wire and smacked back into the tree again. And again.  Despite this - and the inability to walk home later or lift my arms up higher than my shoulders - we had a hoot.

The Swiss love a referendum.  Some of the topics can be incredibly controversial and have serious ramifications, such as the recent 'aye' to restrict international immigration; but others can be rather flighty.

This poster is advocating a 'yes' vote for extending the hours of road houses.  Yes, they want petrol stations to be able to sell sausages and other hot foods for longer hours.  

Not to be outdone, an opposition party went straight for the lowest common denominator - sex.  As in make love; not a trip to the servo for a sarnie!

Sapphire and I visited the Musee Ariana which features a huge collection of porcelain in a beautiful 18th C mansion by the edge of Lac Leman.  Part of the attraction was that it was a nice walk from our apartment and it was free: two winners for Geneva.  Luckily, it was easy to while away a pleasant couple of hours there, but this little triple gold lion-legged sugar pot with what appeared to be a rogue bagpipe painted on it left us pretty confused.

I'll leave you with these final two photos. The first is of Love Chunks' Big silver Bad Boy barbecue that he had in Australia compared to the tray of charcoal he has now. Both do meat brilliantly well. 

.....although the chef has a fair bit to do with it!

Friday, May 23, 2014

To use the already-tired vocabulary favoured by football commentators

......what a year it has been!

Mistakes were made, arguments were held, travel was undertaken and spare cash spent, but as I sit back in the dusty spare room (currently holding a weeks’ worth of washing, two un-renovated 1950s armchairs and paperwork covered in Milly’s fur), some lessons have been learned.  Allow me to share my collected twelve months' worth of wisdom with you, dear reader.

Geographic location is everything. So is desperation.

I scored a terrific gig at – not sure if they should be mentioned or if rhyming words should be used, so we’ll play it safe – 'Bureauvision.'  I had dropped in my CV a month earlier and the lady who received it looked about as interested as a Kardashian not in front of a camera, but I only live one kilometre away.  Four weeks later, when the dust had settled on some redundancies and an additional staffer was forcibly ejected for completely misunderstanding what ‘work’ meant, I was called in.  Yes, I could be there by lunchtime; I could be there right now if they liked

Cheapness is seized.

With the car not even warm after the 1km drive, they asked for my hourly rate.  Not one for thinking quickly on my feet, I blurted out the one I use as an English tutor. This was accepted before I’d fully closed my mouth, so it was easy to figure out that a Swiss street sweeper with special needs rakes in more (and most of that from the gutters in the nightclub district).  Even so, I bet they didn't have as much fun as I did trying to publicise, coordinate and report on an awards ceremony that featured drunk Belgian comedians (yes, they do exist. Belgian comedians I mean, not drunks), a stage hogging Dutch host, a scene-stealing Aussie producer, Freddy Mercury fans, a modern interpretative dance routine during dessert and a huffy royal wrangler.  The gig is mine for this year too!

First impressions are usually right.  Second ones just confirm the first.

Lyon in France was visited again and still failed to give me the ‘oh wow’ reaction that everyone else seems to get.  Lingering smell of stale piss that seeps into your own clothes and lingers for a week? Check.  A run-down riverfront that is praised to the skies online but was a dusty obstacle course of bottles and beggars?  Check.   Overrated ‘gusto’ restaurants with 2074 price lists and 1974 decor? Check.  

Swiss cows aren’t happy; they’re deaf!

Those enormous bells that your least favourite Aunt brings you back from her big bus tour around Europe? Usually festooned with vomit-swirls of hand-painted edelweiss and alps?  Switzerland’s beloved bovines really do wear those brass bongers around their necks.  Even when casually standing in a field and doing nothing other than flicking away summer flies and considering which charming native flower to chew on next, the sound is a cacophonous chorus that renders ramblers strolling by temporarily deaf, let alone the poor creatures themselves.

Here’s proof:

Life is full of pricks.

In my case, it was time to try another method to persuade Mr Migraine to favour me less: acupuncture.  My GP referred me to his own acupuncturist; a German guy on the wrong side of town: next door to the soup kitchen and the car park entrance favoured by pick pockets counting their loot from the Plain Palais flea market.  My nerves were hidden by my immaturity: the doctor’s initials were PP.  Doctor PeePee... tee hee.  After sitting down and asking about my symptoms, how often, how long and where, I was asked to strip down to my knickers so that he could place his pins in parts of my body that included....  To be honest, I forgot where he stuck them; the tiny sensation of them being inserted was immediately forgotten and it was only when I sneezed and felt some wobble on my forehead and shoulders that I remembered.

Don't save your nice undies for date night.

My weekly sessions with Dr PeePee (see above) were making a significant difference.  Three weeks into a six-week schedule had shown only one sign of Mr Migraine and he was surprisingly easy to send packing.  In a now-familiar routine, I stripped off, lay on the bed and received my various pricks before being placed under a foil space blanket to keep warm.  Dr PeePee left the room and I decided to use the time to remember how to meditate..... WOO WOO WOO!

I sat up in shock; pins catching on the blanket and the ones on my ears pinching my hair. WOO WOO WOO!  The alarms were sounding all over the city.  Had it finally happened?  Was today the day that the rest of the warring world decided that Switzerland had been neutral for far too long and it was high time that they were forced to use their bomb shelters? 

WOO WOO WOO!  And here I was, alone, in nothing but knickers, studded with pins....!  

“Dr PeePee...?  DR PEEPEE????”   Sliding off the table with a partly-stuck on silver blanket and pins that waggled as I walked uncertainly towards the door to call out ‘Dr PeePee’ for the third time was not particularly comfortable, especially when some were at the top of my ankle that folded in a bit with each tentative step. “Dr PeePee...?!”

“It’s okay Madam Lockett,” he said, eventually squeaking up the passage in blue Crocs.  “Today is the day when all of the alarms have to be tested in Geneva.  It’s the law.”

My sigh of relief caused a pin in my neck to fall out.  “In that case, wouldn’t today would be the ideal time to bomb Geneva, as nobody would think it was anything except a drill, would they?”

Dr PeePee smiled.  “Well it’s a good thing that your clothes are within arm’s reach then, isn’t it?”

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Steph’s friend Anne is a pharmacist by trade, but a dog trainer by passion.  As with alarm testing and cow bells, they take it very seriously here in Switzerland.  She was required to video lessons she’d undertaken with various dogs and needed to run a class with a young dog and an old dog.  Harley, at two, fulfilled the first criterion and Milly, at ten, amply provided the old. 

The aim was to get both dogs to walk left and round around four orange traffic cones, sticking closely to the sides of their owners and then sitting down at each end.  Harley was eager and up for it and walked alongside Steph willingly, but decided that manoeuvring through the cones was a waste of his time. 

Milly, on the other hand, followed my every move, left and right, onwards and upwards, sitting proudly on her backside (always careful to protect her arthritic back legs) at the end.  The same result was achieved over and over again, encouraging idle fantasies of Milly-n-me putting Pudsey and her human chick Ashleigh firmly into second place and snatching the half-million UK pound prize from under their noses.....  “Milly, you’re a natural at this,” Anne said, walking towards us, hands in her bum bag.  “Although if she eats any more of my treats her stomach’s in danger of dragging along the ground.

Hmmm, an old dog learning new tricks.  Could this old dog, in her forty sixth year, train for a marathon; her own stomach trailing dangerously close to the ground after years of Lindt inhalation?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

All is still well. VERY well.

...... but I'm just wondering if I dare return to blogland after leaving it so suddenly?

Do I give you the reason(s) why I left, what occurred during that year and why I'm thinking about returning?

That in spite of the unforeseen hurts and bitter disappointment, saw my small family of Love Chunks, Sapphire, Milly the dog and myself have the happiest year ever?

An unknown and certainly un-chart-busting pop song that I ran to had a very telling lyric: "May my enemies live long, so they can see me progress."

Like a sequin on a stripper's g-string, I've got nothing to hide.......