Saturday, 29 August 2009

A Saturday in the Life of the Swiss Family Hendricks

This past Saturday was a rare one with absolutely nothing scheduled. We took advantage of this rarest of occasions by indulging in a few spontaneous activities.

We finally cashed in the 30 CHF bon, J received from promotion last June at a bookshop in Plainpalais. He chose a book on planet earth and the solar system.

Then we went to lunch at our favorite pizza joint, Da Paolo's on rue du lac facing the jet d'eau, sheesh, feels like only yesterday, J and I were sharing a pizza margarita....clearly no more.

We saved the crusts to feed to the swans

After lunch, we spent a couple of carefree hours at 'Baby Plage' on Lake Geneva. It's a bit of a misnomer, but Baby Plage is a charming beach/playpark right on the lakeshore. Its' main attraction is the original swings, tree climbing apparatuses, and bridges all made from recycled bicycle tires. J has never tired of exploring all of it.

This is the old chap that makes all of the swings

We capped off our day with a pot of mussels in our back garden, cooked the way only C2 can and a crisp bottle of Sancerre. It was a really good day.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A Weekend in our Swiss Village

One of the greatests parts of our Geneva experience has been living in a typical Swiss village. One of the greatest ironies of our Geneva experience is that within the last couple of years, our Swiss village has become populated with increasing numbers of anglophones. Funnily enough, rather than inhibiting integration into village life, this fact has facilitated it by making us all feel a little less isolated.

This new reality was never better demonstrated that this past long pre- la rentrée scolaire weekend (back to school) which was spent attending back-to-back aperos, dinners, and brunches without ever starting my car. So in detail...

Thursday was another hot day with temperatures peaking in the mid-30s. At the end of the day, J heard his name being hollered over the high hedgerows in our back garden and we wandered over to our neighbours, recently returned from summering in Romania. J spent the next couple of hours in their pool while Ioli and I caught up. I must admit, my French language skills have somewhat suffered in the last couple of months.

A couple of hours later, I made my way over to my South African friend Leigh-Anne's for a ladies-only champagne evening under the stars. Lots of lively conversation and lots of laughs ensued between we Canadian, American, South African, British, Swiss, and Finn women - it was a great party. Cindy and I staggered home together around 2:00 am.

Friday was the last day of a weeklong football camp for J, and Cindy scooped him up for the afternoon to play with her guys. She called later in the day to invite us over for a pizza and red wine evening. It was a gorgeous warm evening, and again we had lots of lively conversation and lots of laughs. C2 was in Zurich for the day but J and I meandered home under the stars around 11:00 pm.

Saturday dawned bright and warm again and I spent most of the day working in the garden. My geraniums are spectacular this year! Around 6:00, the three of us walked down the road to Jawahara and Bijoy's house for an amazingly prepared Indian dinner. Mmmm, my mouth is watering remembering that meal. Yet again, lots of lively conversation and lots of laughs. We wandered home admiring the stars in a clear sky around midnight.

Sunday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 8:00 for a 12k run. I would not normally be quite so motivated quite so early on a Sunday but I'm training for the 16K Paris-to-Versailles race in late September and am adhering to a training plan. I could have run later but...wait for it..yep at 10:00 am, C2, J and I walked down the road and around the corner to our new American and Romanian friends, David, Lavinia, and their little son Dacian (see earlier blog about Kentucky, Transylvania and a Bottle of Palinka) for a champagne brunch that went on for several wonderful hours. Needless to say there was much lively conversation and lots of laughs.

All in all a pretty terrific weekend in a pretty terrific place with some pretty terrific people!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Best Love in Life is to Live a Great Life

Or so was our collective assessment after a wonderful day yesterday spent in the company of our Swedish/Dutch friends Elin, Ard and their two kiddos Thomas and Julian.

Early in the day, we drove up to the village of Bernex in the shadow of the Dent d'Oche mountain in the Alps of Haute-Savoie, France. It was a really hot day in a very hot August this year in Geneva and the sun beat down on us from a sky absent of clouds. We started our hike around 11:00 following a twisty rooted shaded track along a river.

Close to 2 hours later, we had gained about 350 meters in elevation, reached the top of our climb and were greeted by a fountain flowing with icy, fresh, delicious Evian water. Bernex is just north of the town famous for its' pricy bottled water, and we were gulping it in by the mouthful. We also had an amazing view down to Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) about 13 kms away. We lingered for a while, enjoying the views, eating wild raspberries, watching the kids and Murphy play.

Eventually, we began our descent and about an hour later arrived at an auberge near the trailhead that beckoned us like an oasis in the desert. Hot, thirsty, hungry, and tired, we were seated at a table under fragrant baskets of flowers and protected by broad leafy branches.

Glasses of ice-cold beer were quickly delivered - heaven! We spent a delightfully memorable 3-hours in this garden paradise eating fluffy omelettes prepared with French perfection, spicy boeuf tartare, and chevre chaud salads. All the while, our kids connected with other children at the stream that bubbled alongside the restaurant, and Murphy snored under our table.

We eventually and reluctantly left around 5:00, returned to Elin and Ard's house in Anthy-sur-Leman and cooled off with an early evening swim in lac Leman followed by a late barbeque. We spent the day in the company of our family, our dog, and good friends. We explored part of this magnificent region we are blessed to live in, and we ate with gusto surrounded by splendour. What else do you need in life?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Best Laid Plans

I just knew it was too perfect a summer, something just had to go wrong. The whims of fate are funny that way, they lull you into a peaceful sense of security that all is well and then WHAMMO! I know, I know I sound ungrateful and I'm sure I will sound more moany as you read further on but humour me, I'll get over it in a few days and I need to vent.

It has been an idyllic few weeks, long walks with J and Murphy, strolls into town, swimming in Lake Geneva, our Italy trip, a few wonderful days last week with Sheila and her family at their house in the south of France, and looking forward to a couple of weeks reuniting with our good friends and my much-loved family at the end of August in Calgary and Victoria. J and I had spent lots of time picking out the perfect gifts for his Grandma, his cousins, aunt, uncle and friends.

So I hate to fly, so it's a long trip, it's worth the effort. J and I actually have a really good time on the 12+ hour plane journey, we eat smarties, watch movies, fight over the childmeals, and talk about all that goes on at an airport and on an airplane. He's a great and seasoned traveller and loves his far-away family to pieces. He adores staying at Grandma's apartment. He throws the garbage down the shute and accompanies her 16 floors down to the laundry room. He redecorates with gusto, everyone knows that wooden horses belong in the bedroom not the hall! He loves Uncle Phil's waffles and Titi's pizza. Adores being teased by his cousin Justin but not his cousin Jordan. Worships the ground Nee-Nee walks on but hates mean old Leo the cat. All the things, little and big that make up a family and family connections.

So you can understand my concern when last Saturday night (4 days prior to departure for Canada), J developed his first-ever ear infection. Otitis externa, the pediatrician at the emergency room advised us Sunday morning. Bad case but should clear up within a few days. Fast forward to Monday night, and hours of screaming in pain and little sleep.

First thing Tuesday morning and a visit to his regular pediatrician confirmed diagnosis and severity and issued new antibiotics and pain meds. Last night more hours of pain-filled screaming. I've never seen J in such agony, and me caught up in concern for him, leaping to my usual worst-case scenario of mastoiditis, and begging the whims of fate for a fast turnaround. 8:00am this morning, it was make or break to leave for the airport and J was on my lap writhing and crying in pain.

Bottom line, we didn't get on the plane. I'm so disappointed I could cry, he's so disappointed, he did cry.