Friday, 25 January 2008

Spinning out of control

If I have to hear my Spinning instructor say "Encore Plus Dur!" "Encore Plus Vite!" "ALLEZ GO GO GO", one more time, I might just have to fling my water bottle at her oh so perfect head! Okay, I'm recovering now...just a momentary vent :)

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Just Do It...and don't forget why!

I went for a run today. My legs were leaden at the start protesting after a full on ski day yesterday. I breathed raggedly and wondered why I was pushing my 40-something bod through this physical trial. Fifteen minutes later, my breathing eased; I settled into a comfortable pace and turned onto a trail winding through a vineyard. The bells of a nearby church tolled the noon hour. I carried on through apple and kiwi orchards and the enticing smells of Sunday lunch from a nearby Auberge wafted over me.

Airplanes left criss-crossing con trails though an azure blue sky and the sun reflected off the snowcapped peaks of the Alps and the Jura mountains. Acknowledging the warmth of this January day, I removed my gloves, unzipped my windbreaker and let the fresh air wash over me as I grunted up a hill.

Running clears my mind and focuses my thoughts. I plan my day, my week, my life. I embrace salvation in Darfur or a Clinton/Obama presidential ticket. I look forward to new days and new experiences and feel empowered to take on anything. Strong in mind and body, running is my holy grail.

I left my sunny open trail and headed into the shady Bois du Jussy. Streams of melting snow rushed past me, a mourning dove crooned its' plaintive song, and a woodpecker tapped a rhythm on a nearby tree. I exited the woods near the quiet rural village of Lullier. Tall cypresses guarding the stone entrance of a house acted as sentinels reminding me that I was on the back stretch of this run. My arms and legs pumped purposefully as kilometer after kilometer disappeared beneath me.

Finally turning toward my house, I slowed to a walk and let my heart return to a resting rate, endorphins racing wildly through me. As I opened my front gate, the question of why I keep doing this flashed briefly in my head...ah yes, I remember why.

Monday, 14 January 2008

By George, he finally got it!

J and I went skiing yesterday with our great friends and fellow Canadians, the Mxxx's. Their daughters, Emma the Brave and Mighty Mouse are J's 2 best friends. Now, you know the saying "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink?".

Well J is as stubborn an equine as was ever born. We've been skiing with him for over a year, and he is always so excited to get equipped, to get up early, to drive to the mountains, and loves the tele-cabines, tele-sieges, and tele-skis. What he doesn't like is to actually ski.

For a year now, we have coerced, cajoled, threatened, begged, enrolled him in ski school and private lessons and generally exhausted every technique designed to get that boy down the hill. Until yesterday, he steadfastly refused to descend by any means except between our legs.

Well yesterday on a glorious day on a glorious mountain, a glorious thing happened. J figured it out and then there was no stopping him. Even a fatigue-induced meltdown of near epic proportion at the end of the day couldn't put a damper on this monumental day of accomplishment. Enjoy the video of this stellar moment in time, Kirk is filming...that's me skiing beside J in the red jacket.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Human Kindness still exists (in Geneva anyway)

It was a rainy Saturday today, and with C2 winging his way to Dubai, I decided to take J to our favorite Italian restaurant downtown for lunch. We wrangled our way though the busy streets and failing to find street parking finally parked in a large underground lot.

I was about 3 bites into my Rucola Margarita pizza when my heart stopped as I realized I had left my wallet in my home office while paying a bill that morning. Feeling like an idiot, I immediately beckoned the attention of one of the managers who was very busy with the teeming noonday crowd. I explained the problem, and he presented me with a huge smile and a ' mais ce n'est pas grave madam'...don't worry madame, it's not serious, pay the next time you come. Huh? I have lived most of my life in big cities and was quite prepared to leave J as collateral in order to run home and retrieve my wallet.

We finished our lunch and an hour or so later, I geared myself up to explain our situation to the large impersonal parking lot attendant. However, he too, smiled broadly and wished me a good day as he handed me a complimentary parking pass. Huh?

I admired the beauty of Mont Blanc and the French Alps which were peaking out of the clouds and into the sun on our drive home, all the while trying to explain to J the meaning of karma, paying it forward, and the importance of kindness. It was a good day!

Galettes des rois and Bart Simpson

Yes, this is my 3rd new year living in Geneva and yes, I am still sometimes stumbling but mostly happily embracing all of the new customs I encounter. For example, the feast of Kings (Epiphany) is celebrated with great gusto in the Haute Savoie region of France which so greatly influences this part of Switzerland. Shortly after the new year, bakeries fill with traditional round mille feuilles cakes stuffed generously with frangipane (almond cream paste) known as les Galettes de rois.

The cakes contain a small surprise baked into the cake and the person who discovers it in their piece is crowned roi (king) or reine (queen) and gets to wear the gold paper crown that comes with each cake. Traditonally, the cakes contained a flat bean and as loved as the feve is in France, it no longer cuts the mustard with 21st century kids, consequently, the surprise now is typically a small ceramic figure.

This year, we cut open our cake and excitedly searched for the prize. Would it be a good-luck horseshoe, a napoleonic soldier, a tiny guillotine??? Well, you have to believe that globalization is here to stay when the prize extracted from our Galette was... Bart Simpson...sigh.