SECOND: Happy 24th Birthday, Teddy!
Back to the blog...
During our initial planning, Saturday had been selected as the perfect time slot for a day trip away from Zurich. Jon and I each had the chance to choose a destination elsewhere in Switzerland. I picked Appenzell, a city on the Eastern border, which we visited on Sunday. But Saturday was Jon's pick, and so we were off on a tremendously ambitious adventure to the Bernese Alps (the so-called Jungfrauregion) and, specifically, to a tiny town called Gimmelwald nestled high on the mountainside.
I call the day's plan ambitious because it included every kind of transportation:
Drove 100+ kilometers from Zurich to Interlaken
Train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen
Gondola from Lauterbrunnen to Grutshalp
Train from Grutshalp to Winteregg
Walked from Winteregg to Murren and Gimmelwald
As of today, I am aware of no more thrilling an activity than running to catch a train. The allure of train travel lies in its perceived antiquity, though most all commercial trains used today are quite modern. One can easily imagine the delightful station platforms back when locomotive engines hissed and wheezed steam on entrance and exit, filling the room with white... or lips pressed to the palm of one departing and the subsequent kiss tossed to the one who remains in the station, fading smaller and smaller.
Reverence filled the expanse of the interior, emanating from the worshipers of God and Architecture. There were tour groups and classes on field trips, young couples and elderly couples and traveling buddies and girlfriends, all of whom couldn't tear their eyes from the lovely stained glass windows, the massive Bible under glass at the front. I lit a candle for our country, praying for peace and reason to prevail at this new dawn of ours... the one masquerading as a doomsday.
Soon enough, we were on the road to Zurich. Our lodgings at the Hotel Enginmatt are fabulous, very comfortable and stylish, but we didn't waste time in our room (even though the jet lag pit bull had me by the eyelids again and was trying to tug me into bed). No no, we had traveled halfway around the world to see this bursting, blossoming city and couldn't wait another second.
The Bahnhoffstrasse beckoned us first; a luxury shopping strip of several kilometers, almost completely pedestrianized, running parallel to the River Limmat. Naturally the price tags were a tad over our budget (1,100 Swiss Francs for a small purse), but the looking was very fun.
Around us, night was falling and people were moving in jovial groups, communicating in a variety of languages. German, French, and Italian words skipped around us in the shadows, bouncing off the brick and stone facades of the buildings playing hide-and-seek with one another. A smattering of other languages, Swedish, Mandarin, and Spanish, joined the game, as well. I floated along on Jonathan's arm wishing with all my heart that I had the chance to dedicate myself to the study of language so that I could develop the capacity to better understand these people, men and women who share my globe. What an opportunity that would be!
After taking the red-eye from SFO to Frankfurt, arriving this morning, Jon and I picked up our rental car (a little, black Mercedes which isn't quite as perfect as the car we rented last year... Jon's bummed that it doesn't take Diesel... but it's still darling!) and wasted no time getting on the road.
Last year we headed West to Luxembourg and Belgium, eventually heading North to Denmark. This year, we left Frankfurt heading Southbound on A5. Our final destination is Zurich, Switzerland! But we decided a few weeks ago that we should swerve slightly Westward and stay the night in France, too, another country neither of us have visited before.
We crossed the Rhine River just West of Baden-Baden, Germany, and I have to say that in this part of the country, the view isn't nearly as staggering as I remember it being further North. That being said, there was a major change in scenery as we crossed from Germany, with its lush, snarling black and green forests, into Northeastern France. Suddenly, broad, green fields stretched between well-defined farm borders. Doe-eyed, white cows grazed in lazy groups. Golden corn fields whipped past the windows of our car as we sped along D4. (But the corn is shorter here... weird... and completely inadequate for any kind of corn maze!)
The pleasant pull between my Achilles and the backs of both knees caused me to sigh. Darty took a couple of light steps and turned his massive neck to sniff my dangling hands. I scratched his velvety nose and made sweet kissing noises in response. Convinced of my stability even in this odd position, he went back to nosing the dirt in the arena, snuffling at his own hoof prints.
Around us, a fragrant breeze rolled over the golden hills and soothed my neck, damp with sweat beneath my free swinging dark hair. I was dead center in a large riding school arena, complete with small jumps and obstacles. Beside me, Sam, my instructor for the hour, was walking me through a series of in-saddle stretches from her place astride a glorious, red-gold horse with a sassy disposition. Sam's energy and enthusiasm for the sport of riding radiated to me and I was caught in her glow.
After a few moments, I righted myself in the saddle and gathered the reigns once again, nudging Darty into a slow, swaying walk. This was my first lesson since I took a sabbatical in January of this year, hoping to spend the extra time and money house hunting and saving for a home purchase. Yesterday, after months of planning and hoping, after contracts had been signed and mountains of loan paperwork had been submitted and resubmitted, Jon and I took a heavy blow to the temple when we learned that the condo we'd "purchased" was considered a bad loan risk by our Lender.
In a moment, that happy hope which had been so integral to our lives in recent months, was knocked from the sky.
Private Detective Nick Charles is lying in bed after surviving a mugging the night before. Both Nick and his wife, Nora, are reading the morning papers.
Nora: Why, Nicky! It says here that the intruder shot you. That's not true.
Nick: Hah. I'm a hero. The Tribune says I was shot twice.
Nora: And I read where you were shot five times in the tabloids.
Nick: Now, THAT'S not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids!
If you've never had the chance to watch any of the "Thin Man" movies, a collection of 1930s films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, you're in for a treat. The plotlines are less contrived than many of the mobster-related movies of the era. The dialogue sparkles, even at cheesier moments, aided by natural chemistry between the affable Powell and spunky Loy. Alcohol consumption abounds, Asta, the loveable terrier, saves the day, and often times there are excellent cameo appearances by the likes of Jimmy Stewart to round out the show.
Fun fun fun!
Go ahead and scream and holler for an end to this war...
Please, run out in the streets and chant and pump your fists in the air....
It's your right!
I'll not stop you.
Even when you ignite my country's flag in protest, something I find to be heinous and absolutely offensive, I'll step aside.
But keep in mind that in your protest you are living proof that our guaranteed American freedoms are necessary and valuable and should be held up as a standard, nay a beacon, for the oppressed peoples of the world.
The rabble who hijacked airliners full of men and women and children on September 11, 2001 hated me and they hated you... but more than that, they hated us. You and me. Your viewpoint and mine, side by side, different perhaps, but operating in parallel and out of respect.
clinging to my spinal column like vines to a trellis,
but less lovely and more concerning
in their gravitational goals.
There are no roses on these vines,
viciously climbing the ladder of my ribs.
I fear a mutiny.
You see, I'd grown used to putting my limbs to task,
logging time and distance in the name of
But this week of rest, as much as I'd hoped for it,
has left me rotted rather than ripened,
and my stiffness speaks a warning of potential famine
I advise myself to stretch out in the morning
before taking on the day,
to prune back the prying ivy
which is now wedged between my shoulder blades,
to reach an accord with my body
and bow to its demand for movement
at the soonest possible opportunity.
While many are loathe to vote for a candidate running on the opposite ticket, I have long believed that America would be better off if people took the time to consider the individual running for office rather than the broad brush of his or her political allegiance. Thus, since the arrival of Barack Obama on the political scene, since the confirmation of Hillary Clinton that she would campaign, since Mit Romney's first speech as a presidential candidate, I've been looking forward to casting my vote, not for a Republican, but for the right person for the job.