Saturday, March 31, 2007

Flea Markets, and Growing Up

Zach and I had a bit of a late start this morning... we lounged around in bed for a while (look right to see part of the reason why we had trouble getting up-- who wants to disturb a comfy cat??? hehe), then had a lazy breakfast of big bowls of fruit and some fresh bread and butter. I had wanted for us to spend the day in Geneva today, as we haven't gotten much of a chance to explore the city together since our preview visit back in January. We finally made it out to door and caught the bus at around 1 or 2pm. We went to the flea market at Plainpalais-- it's on every Wednesday and Saturday, I've been meaning to check it out for a few weeks but haven't gotten the chance to. I'm glad we went, there's SO MUCH STUFF there, it was fun just to look around and see all of it. They also have a small circus/fair going on, so you'd hear the faint screaming of people on different rides every so often.

My one purchase was this adorable little wooden cat, I think the tail serves as a ring holder. He was 5chf, less than $5, and he was just too adorable to pass up. He's hanging out near the kitchen sink right now.

After the market we walked down the street a ways in search of this second hand bookstore/cafe combo. Unfortunately by the time we got there they weren't serving food anymore, so we just got a bottle of sparkling water and a coffee, and Zach got this thing that he thought was some sort of pastry... and instead turned out to be stuffed with some weird gelatin and pate. It was really strange. I can just imagine the shock Zach felt as he took a bite of what he assumed was sweet and instead was not. It was kinda neat to browse through the books-- they didn't have a huge selection, but they did have Spanish and English sections. I found a Spanish version of the 5th Harry Potter book, I almost bought it for Cristina. ; )

We (barely) caught the bus back home and now Zach's working on a scrumptious dinner for us. =) Last night we had the chance to go out with some of the people from my French class, there was a salsa thing that one of the girls' husband was doing, and we were gonna go... unfortunately it didn't even start till 10pm. I hate to admit it, but as soon as she told me the time I knew we wouldn't make it. Unfortunately living a bit out of the city means that it does take some extra effort to make it in for nights out, and to be honest we're just not that into late nights anymore. I guess it's part of growing up, getting on a "work/adult" schedule (going to bed early, getting up early), and aren't quite as keen on staying up real late and spending the day sleeping in. These days it's unusual for us to stay out past midnight. And honestly, I'm ok with that. We've had our times of wild nights out with friends (and hung-over mornings after) and now we're content with going to bed early, then getting woken up at 8am by the sun and getting up and getting the day started (or just snuggling in bed with the cat and talking). I still am up for nights out when I go home to Austin and go out with my sisters and old friends, but it's just not a part of regular life anymore.

Friday, March 30, 2007

cats & plants

Yesterday was a nice enough day that I left one of the glass doors open downstairs as I played around on the computer, giving Sierra a chance to check out the terrace a bit. I only got 1 or 2 pictures, and not very good ones, as the battery on my camera was dying. But as you can see, she was pretty cautious and stuck pretty close to the door as she "explored." Part of me does worry that she'll take off running or something, but that doesn't fit her personality and I'm making sure to keep a close eye on her anyway anytime I let her venture outside (which has only been once or twice so far) so everything should be fine. I think she enjoys her chances to get some fresh air from time to time. =)

The 2nd and 3rd pictures are of the flowers on the side of our terrace. I'm not entirely sure what they are, but I'm very excited to see them start to bloom soon! I was just wondering yesterday if I should water them, as it hadn't rained in a few days, but then I woke up this morning to the pitter-patter of raindrops so that's taken care of. There was actually even some thunder this afternoon!!

When I got home this afternoon I walked into the kitchen to see a little grey and white kitty sitting on the window! It's a different cat from the one that Sierra and I saw last week. I brought Sierra to the window to see it, and again she didn't seem very wigged out at all but the grey kitty certainly didn't have the friendliest reaction-- it batted at the window a couple times and hissed, then stood there staring for a bit before wandering off. Sierra seemed surprisingly unperturbed. Maybe she knowns there's glass there so there's nothing to worry about? It makes me wonder... she got so freaked out when we got Charlie, maybe she'd be more accomodating to a new kitten now? Zach and I both like the idea of getting another friend for Sierra to play with, unfortunately I don't know how possible that really is... the biggest thing holding us back is thinking of bringing home TWO cats on the eventual plane ride back home to the states... Then again, wouldn't the joy of having a cute little kitten around outweigh the crappiness of one day of stress? Hmmm... ; )
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Girl Time + Shopping = A Great Afternoon

I had lunch with some of the other women from French class this afternoon, at a tapas restaurant and was fairly decent. The food was surprisingly filling, which is nice to know as it can be a less expensive food option. It's nice feeling like I'm starting to make a better connection with some people here, and this group is actually a kind of perfect group language-wise b/c most of them speak English, so we have the opportunity to actually communicate pretty effectively (it's hard to build a good friendship with someone you can only discuss superficial things with b/c of a language barrier), but some don't so then we all speak in French which means we get to practice it. For example, at lunch today we spoke in French the whole time, and actually did pretty well with it. Yay!

After lunch one of the gals and I walked around a bit and checked out this awesome boutique. It's a bit expensive, of course, but that's everything here... it also had some really cute stuff, from clothes to housewares and things (like this absolutely adorable set of black and white dog salt & pepper shakers... pssst Criss they also had a TON of Hello Kitty stuff, from little cell phone cover socks to a $350 Hello Kitty handbag!). =P I think I'll need to keep a list of cool places like this that I come across, so I can go back to them on my own, and when people come to visit.

I was looking out at the plants along the edge of our terrace, and it looks like a bunch of stuff is about to bloom. Very exciting. =) Unfortunately my camera battery's about to die (I'm amazed at the battery life, last time I charged this thing was before we moved!) so I'll have to charge it up and take pictures later.

I let Sierra venture out onto the terrace a little bit this afternoon. She's very cute about it-- very careful, and stays right up against the house as she explores. It's fun watching her check everything out. =)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

le Jet d'Eau

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time walking around the Jardin Anglais, a park alongside the lake. The picture above is of the Jet d'Eau, a famous landmark of Geneva (I was having fun with the color accent feature of my camera). It's pretty neat looking over somewhere and seeing this huge water fountain way up in the air. =)

This afternoon I'd been planning to go to the flea market at Plainpalais, but I felt kinda tired and worn down so I went home after class instead. I took a nap with Sierra for a bit, then finished unpacking the boxes from our shipment. Ok, so actually I finished opening boxes... there's still 4-5 boxes up there with random stuff that I don't know what to do with, so that stuff is staying in its respective boxes. But at least all the boxes have been opened and rummaged through. Unfortunately, my Real Simple address book seems to be missing. =( It must have been in that box that we never got. Unfortunately I have no idea what else was in that box, as the movers wound up re-packing all our boxes anyway and a lot of stuff got shuffled around. It was probably more books, but we have so many and no sort of inventory of them, so I have no idea what books would be missing. I think all the addresses that were in that book are also in the computer somewhere, but I don't really know. Hmm, that actually is a pretty annoying thing to lose...

It's getting warmer again, and the sun's been out the past couple days. It's been warm enough in the afternoons to shed my jacket. Yay for spring! =)
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One Month

So we've been here for a month now. Pretty crazy, huh? So far, so good. =)

Zach and I made plans to go into town tonight for dinner and try out this "tex-mex" restaurant I noticed the very first week we were here. I know, I know... I just saw it and figured, "a tex-mex restaurant in europe? It'll probably be awful but I just GOTTA try that!" So we went there tonight, and although it wasn't that awful, it also was not good tex-mex (big surprise). The refired beans, guac, and spanish rice were actually pretty good. However all the cheese was swiss cheese. Yeah. That was really weird. After dinner, Zach said it made him miss real tex-mex more than anything. =P

I'm looking forward to getting to explore Geneva with Zach a bit more. We need to spend some Saturdays there together. I got a book on Geneva that's got a long list of restaurant suggestions, and I'm looking forward to finding good places to go to.

I gotta get to bed soon... I've been staying up too late lately, which makes my 6:30am wake-up call that much harder to swallow.

This is Awesome

Check out this post: Confessions of an Ex-PDA User His list of advantages of a notepad over your standard PDA had both me and Zach in stitches. =P

PS- if you'd like to receive my blog posts via email, instead of having to physically go to this site, you can use the little window to the left to subscribe (under the "receive posts via email" heading. You can also click here to subscribe using google reader, or other subscription feeder sites).

Monday, March 26, 2007


This afternoon I seeked out this coffee shop that I've been hearing about, and I think it may become a favorite hangout. It's cute, small, low-key, has great coffee (as well as a bunch of other drinks, and they also have some food, sandwiches and salads and whatnot) AND it's smoke-free!!! I had an espresso there this afternoon while doing my French homework. I've also heard about another place that's a second-hand book store and cafe in one, I need to find it and check it out. That could be another awesome hang-out. =P

I also discovered that both Globus and Manor (the 2 big department stores in Geneva) have huge grocery stores at the very bottom level. Unfortunately, since they're in the middle of the city it's harder to drive in for a big shopping trip... though then again, this is Geneva with 0 traffic so if I did that some afternoon it would probably be fine.

Our residency permits have yet to come in the mail... grrr. We've got temporary ones, but we need the real deal so we can sign up for cell phone plans (we found one that seems like it'll be a much better deal than prepaids, mainly b/c it would allow Zach and I to call each other for free... as opposed to the 20-40 cents/minute charges normally?). Right now we're making do with the one prepaid cell phone we got when we visited in January... ("making do" meaning Marcy gets the cell phone, and Zach has to do without). If I remember correctly they claimed it would take about 3 weeks for the permits to get here, which was about 3-4 weeks ago...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Joys of Unpacking, and a sunday walk

Unpacking is definitely better than packing, but it still sucks. I look forward to being rid of all the extra boxes and packing paper. We've been trying to be pretty good about doing stuff in batches, though, and not letting the paper and stuff build up too much at one time. Still, it gets bad quickly... The house is getting put together slowly, and today I hung up a few pictures and things. It's nice finding a place for everything, and getting things set up. Hopefully it'll only be another week or 2 before we've got most everything set up.

Zach and I went on a walk this afternoon, and a horse was eating grass right up near the fence that's along the pathway, so we got to say hi. Very cool. I think the horse was actually posing for the camera. ; )

We also had another visit from Sierra's little furry friend! He came up to the kitchen window and Zach opened it up and the cat actually stuck his head inside, but then saw Sierra and got scared and ran off... but he's very cute! This pic is actually straight out our kitchen window, it's an odd raised garden thing. We've had a few cats come by and take a peek in through the window. =)

All the cats around here are super friendly, and practically run right up to you to get petted. It's very cute. =) I try to make sure we always wash our hands after coming home though, don't wanna transmit any wierd Swiss cat diseases to Sierra...

We had a pretty nice walk this afternoon. We walked over to the next town, maybe 1 mile away, and found a little cafe and had something to drink before coming back home. The thing that was strange was that there was something about the feel, look, and smells inside the cafe that as soon as I walked in the door I had instant flashbacks and cravings for these warm, toasted chicken (or were they turkey?) sandwiches that we used to eat a lot in Chile when I was a kid (they're not like lunchmeat, but small pieces of meat that were cooked in some special way that made them taste amazing-- which means it probably involved a ton of lard or something). And seriously, all of a sudden I felt ravenous, craving this one dish. It was really strange. So now I'm really looking forward to getting to order them when we're in Chile next month. =P
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six word sunday: "Mom, Dad... you guys just suck."

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Zach goes skiing, Marcy baby-sits

Thanks to all the snow coming down the past week (ok, not so much here... but at least the mountains have gotten some) there was finally enough snow for Zach to go skiing. He left early this morning to go to France with a couple buddies from work. I had the house to myself for a few hours after that, then I went over to baby-sit for the kid of one of the aforementioned buddies while the wife/mom had her hair done. I've hung out with little Jules (3 yrs old) a couple of times, when we've gone to their house for dinner, but this was my first time sitting for her. She was super-easy though. Such a neat kid. =) Aruna (aka- mom) had given us the thumbs up to watch a movie, but when we popped in The Little Mermaid Jules was much more interested in joking around with me, and half-way through the movie said, "Can we pause this so we can go play?" Aruna also told me how she's trained Jules to ignore commercials on tv-- they call them "nonsense" and has explained to Jules how they're just trying to sell her stuff she doesn't need. Awesome. =P

Aruna came home at about 4pm, and we found out the boys should be getting home somewhat soon after, so I hung out with her and Jules for a while longer as we waited for them and then we all had dinner together. Good times. =) They're a fun couple to know. I was quite shocked though when at one point I mentioned "queso" and they had no idea what I was talking about. I think that's the first time that's ever happened. They're from San Francisco, too, I'd assumed that queso was a staple to all (americanized) Mexican food, but I guess it's more of a Tex-Mex thing after all?

Aruna did say that, if I wanted to, I could probably have all the baby-sitting work I wanted. She apparently has been making friends with lots of other American ex-pats with young children who would love to have an English-speaking baby-sitter available. Might be a nice way to make some extra cash. ; )

Friday, March 23, 2007

What I'll be listening to non-stop for the next few weeks...

Before we left California I made one last run out to a Coinstar machine to redeem the loose change that had been lying around. I chose to get a gift card instead of cash, and figured I'd get an iTunes gift card as we'd probably be able to use that over here.

So the other night I sat down to use the gift card. I got the soundtrack for The Last Kiss, Guster's Keep It Together, and Jamie Cullum's Pointless Nostalgic. I think this was a good way to use that extra money, but I probably will not be buying music off iTunes again anytime soon. For one thing, I have a non-iPod mp3 player, and iTunes Store-bought files play only on iPods. So I first tried to burn them all as mp3 files onto one CD (and then I'd upload them onto Windows Media Player to use with my Zen Micro). Alas, songs bought from the iTunes Store cannot be burned as mp3s. Boo. So then I went to burn each as WAV files on separate cd's, but it wouldn't let me do that, either-- I was told I'd have to authorize the computer before being able to use my new music. You only get to authorize 5 computers for your account, and this one counts as #2 since I also had bought some music off iTunes on our old desktop (don't remember it being this complicated, though). This kind of irritated me, as it means that the songs I've outright bought and paid for will not work whenever we upgrade to computer #6. Which is annoying. I know they're trying to be more secure about music and all, but does it really have to inconvenience me so?? =P Anyway, so yeah I'll probably be buying my music from other sources.

Anyway, I finally got the music burned and uploaded, and added to my player. I knew I would love the Jamie Cullum cd, as I adore all of his stuff. This one I think is an older recording, and is much more jazz-y than some more recent stuff, but is a lot of fun and very reminiscent of Sinatra and the rat pack, and just makes me wanna get up and dance.

I loved loved loved the Garden State soundtrack, and I don't know if Zach Braff had input on picking the songs for The Last Kiss as well or what, b/c it's very similar types of music, which means I adore this collection of songs, too. Beautiful music, perfect for sitting at home and contemplating.

And Guster... Jen's been raving about these guys for years, and I have to say she's absolutely right. I heard them at ACL last september, but didn't buy any of their music until now, and I can already tell that this cd is going to be one of my new favorites. I couldn't help but tap my toes while listening to it on the bus today. =P I was thinking today that I should make Jen my music guru, and just have her tell me what cd's to buy from time to time. She's introduced me to some of my favorite bands and cd's. I guess she's just young and hip like that. ; )

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I *heart* my seester

I got a package from my sister Cristina today, and when I opened it up I just had to laugh... she sent me PENS!!! Tons and tons of pens, and pencils, in different types and colors (along with 2 comics involving cats), and they're all awesome! I mentioned in a post a while back about how pens are so expensive here, and she must have read that and decided to send me a whole bunch! Which is totally awesome, as since that posting I've noticed that pens are not just expensive at that one store, but seems to be a widespread problem in this country, and now I've got plenty of very cute and awesome pens to scatter all around the house. Weeeeeeee!!!!



I played hooky from French class this morning so that I could sleep in a bit, and get to work on unpacking our stuff. I got a lot done this morning, got through a whole bunch of boxes-- yay! Now I'm taking a lunch break, and then I think I'll try to organize some of the stuff I've unpacked, particularly things like clothes. I'm not sure how this is gonna go, as I have a suspicious feeling that I may have more clothes than places to store them in.... We'll, uh, we'll see how it goes.

A guy is supposed to come by this afternoon to (hopefully) fix our washing machine. It's been broken since last Thursday or Friday. We thought someone was coming yesterday, but they sent an electrician... even though electricity is not the problem (it's got plenty of power, as it tries to go through a load cycle and quits after 30 seconds...). We're actually kinda perplexed as it appears that the washer's brand company didn't have anything to do with the electrician coming yesterday, so we honestly don't know why or how he got sent. Then I got a call later yesterday afternoon saying someone was coming out for the washer this afternoon, and I really have no idea what they're gonna do. I hope they fix it, we've got overloading piles of laundry to get through (including our down comforter, which Sierra very conveniently coughed up hairballs all over the other day). Otherwise I may need to find a laundromat and just take our stuff there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Call me materialistic, but I LIKE having my stuff around...

Our stuff is here!!! Which also means... I GOT TO OPEN MY CARE PACKAGE! =p The movers got here right on time today, and thankfully they actually spoke pretty good English. I woulda been ok on French alone, but this just made it a lot easier. They got everything unloaded pretty quickly, and helped put together things like our bed frame. Unfortunately we may have 1 last box that might have gone missing, I need to search for it as I continue sorting and unpacking our stuff...

We also face a bit of a problem with our bed... the frame is from the US, and the mattress we bought here... and it overlaps by a couple of inches off one side (so the mattress sticks out from the frame). This could be a problem. We may have to buy a European-sized bed frame to use while we're here. =( We'll see how it goes tonight, I guess.

Now, on to the important stuff. ; ) I've been anxious to know what's in this little package since it was handed to me back in JANUARY. And now that it's here, I finally got to open it. And here's what I found:
I love these parents. I really do. They're too friggin adorable! So everything in this package is something that one of the parents (or someone they knew) had a hard time finding while living in Europe. I got food (snackage, mostly, things like Oreos and mac & cheese, salsa, peanut M&Ms, peanut butter, root beer, pumpkin puree which will make Zach ECSTATIC as that means I can make pumpkin bread, microwaveable popcorn, etc) as well as things like a book of California, ziploc baggies, dryer sheets, and 3 bottles of California wine!

I'm eating M&Ms and drinking one of the root beers as I type this. ; )It's quite a nice, unexpected surprise getting our shipment now, our original estimate said we wouldn't get it till the end of the month. I'll now have pictures to hang up, I can catch up some on my scrapbooking, and we've actually got BOOKS, and all of our kitchen stuff! Yay!

The weather has been so crazy today-- it keeps going back and forth between sunny, and snow flurries. Seriously. It's gone back and forth at least 3-4 times that I've noticed so far today. I'm ready for May, when temperatures should go up a bit and be more predictable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sierra makes a friend! (sort of)

It snowed a bit more overnight last night, so that there was a thin blanket of it on a lot of surfaces (other than the ground). As I waited for the bus I picked snowflakes with my finger and watched them melt. =P It looks so cool!

We got an update on our boat shipment-- it docked today, is going to go through customs, and then should be delivered tomorrow afternoon!!! We weren't expecting it for another week or 2, so this is really exciting. Of course this means we now gotta figure out where to put all the boxes, and begin the unpacking process... but it will be so nice to have all of our stuff here. And I'll FINALLY get to open my care package! ; )

In other news... last night I was sitting at the dining table doing my French homework, Sierra sleeping on the chair next to mine, when I spotted some movement in our courtyard out of the corner of my eye. When I looked over I noticed this little black and white kitty that was making a bee-line for the glass doors! (I realized later the poor thing was probably cold and seeking shelter!) I've been curious as to when this sort of encounter would happen, so as soon as I saw the kitty I roused Sierra up and said "Look, Sierra, you have a friend!" She saw the cat and went over to the glass to take a better look, though to my surprise she didn't seem at all bothered-- just curious. After snapping the first couple pictures I noticed the black and white kitty had his ears back! Poor thing must've been scared by Sierra. After a few minutes he ran off. It was all very exciting-- well, for me anyway. I'm not really sure Sierra cared much.

Tonight GenevaOnline is hosting a "new members drink" that we'd been thinking of going to, but I've kinda been feeling low-energy all day and am wondering if I could be coming down with something. Which means I probably shouldn't be up real late. I'll see how I feel when Zach gets home... if not, we can probably make the next one.

Monday, March 19, 2007

let it snow

We had such beautiful weather all last week, to the point where it felt like it was in the 70's on Saturday. Everything started blooming, including the tree that's right next door to our house, and on each level we have a view of these gorgeous pink blooms:

I'd heard it would turn cold again this week, though. You could see it coming yesterday-- Zach and I went on a walk before lunch, and although the sun was still shining and it still felt warm, the cloudless sky of last week was gone and these big, puffy, dark clouds were starting to take over. By the afternoon it was all clouded, and even raining a bit.

So I was prepared for the colder temperatures today. I'd heard rumors of snow. But I still had to smile as I emerged from the store this afternoon, fresh bread and a coffee in hand, to see not just rain, but also white flakes falling from the sky, already accumulated on some of the cars passing by on the street.

I rushed to the bus stop, then the whole way home I watched out the window, as the snow falling from the sky got heavier, then lighter, then heavy again, back and forth. It's been oscillating like this since then, not snowing much at all since I got home but just a minute ago it started coming down like mad. The weather report claims we'll get 1-2 inches tonight (it's gonna get down to 28 degrees F!) and I'm wondering if it'll stick. We may get another 1-3 inches tomorrow, and I think it's basically gonna stay like this until Thursday. Zach may finally get to ski this weekend. =)

(sierra perplexed by the falling snow-- the first time she's ever seen it!)

I'm feeling sort of... bittersweet. I love that it's snowing. It's still incredibly novel to me and very exciting. I'm also still sad about my grandmother. I talked to Mom last night, and it's worse than I thought. When Jen said Grammy was "having trouble talking" I assumed she meant trouble with pronouncing properly, maybe mumbling more than usual, stuff like that. But apparently she has some type of aphasia, where she can't put thoughts into words (spoken or written). There's a few other things they're worried about, as well, and for the moment my mom and aunt (who live close to my grandparents) are taking turns staying with them until they know more, or can find a nurse. A speech therapist should be giving them a more thorough evaluation today, and I believe they're also working with a physical therapist. Mom thinks there might be a good chance that Grammy can recover from this... we'll see how things go. Grammy and Grampa are both tough as nails, and never give up easily.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What is it about bad news that makes it come in waves?

I called my younger sis Jen today. It was great to talk to her, but almost as soon as she realized it was me calling she said "I've been meaning to call you... have you talked to Mom lately?" And so she told me that Grammy had a minor stroke sometime this past week. She didn't know many details, just that they kept Grammy in the hospital overnight, but that she's home now, and the most noticeable effect is that she's having some trouble speaking correctly. Which, if you know my grandmother, seems like an awful shame b/c she's a talker. She's a storyteller. And taking away her ability to speak well and clearly is a bit of a cruel twist of fate. Not entirely unlike when my mom had to have hip surgery a few years ago and wasn't able to run anymore, an activity that had been her near-daily exercise for as long as I can remember.

But, to keep things in perspective, it does seem like there's no major brain damage, which is very good. I'm gonna try calling my mom after dinner to see what else I can find out. Luckily my Grampa seems to have healed well enough from his bout with tongue cancer to be able to help take care of Grammy now. It's hard to imagine her being the one that needs care now... Grammy's always been so independent. But then again so was Grampa, until he started having health problems.

And this right here is what scares me most about marriage and growing older-- knowing that, barring an earlier tragedy, Zach and I will eventually be dealing with each other as our health deteriorates, needing to take care of each other while our bodies fail us, and facing the eventual loss of your spouse.

six word sunday: A promise of things to come...

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, March 17, 2007

It's all starting to come together...

So our St Patty's Day plans kinda wound down to... nothing. Instead, we went to Coop for a big grocery stock-up, and also got some flowers for our neighbor to thank her for her kindness and general awesomeness. Then we had a quick lunch, met up with Colin (another expat coworker friend) and headed off to Ikea, which always turns into a whole-day excursion... especially when said Ikea is a good 40 minutes away.

We got a bunch of smaller items for the house, and after getting home Zach put together some more of our furniture, and our house is actually starting to feel like a home now. Yay! Now I'm feeling the itch to hang up some pictures on the walls... However I know we've got tons of pictures and frames coming with our shipment, so I may resist the urge to buy much new stuff here (especially as it's bound to be uber-expensive).

So, yeah, by the time we got through our day spent among mad crowds, we were kinda pooped and ready for just spending the night in. So that's how we celebrated our St Patrick's Day. Very exciting, I know.

Sad News

We found out last night that the father of one of Zach's good friends from high school and college passed away earlier this week. He'd been diagnosed (about a year ago, I think) with a brain tumor that was terminal, so it wasn't unexpected, but that doesn't make it any less tragic or sad. I really feel for our friend, he's had such a rough year (went through a divorce at the end of last year, as well). He's too good a person to have all this bad fortune handed to him.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pictures: around town, and in-house

Lunch in "Vieille Ville" (Old Town)

The giant chess boards at Place Neuve (I love that it's a mix of older men and kids playing chess!)

Our dining table! As you can see, Sierra was the first to sit at (on?) the table, as soon as it was assembled. (I will eventually be painting the chairs, but haven't decided on a color... any suggestions?)

Our mantle-- with our growing collection of cards sent by various family members, and the flowers our neighbors gave us last week. =)
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The Good, The Bad, The Interesting

The Good News:
  • Zach's picking up the car this afternoon!!!!
  • I am typing this while sitting at our very purdy dining table. =) (this is highly preferable to sitting on the floor and having my back ache) By tonight, or certainly by the end of the weekend, we should have 2 more dressers and a bed assembled. Woot!
  • The weather's been fantastic this week... next week it's supposed to get cold again, and it might even SNOW! (perhaps we'll wait till next week to judge whether this is a pro or a con...)
  • Zach gets a 4-day weekend for Easter, we're gonna take advantage by going to Paris!!! =)
The Bad News:
  • The Method website won't let me order from either their UK store nor their US store (I think it gets confused b/c my IP address is from neither place?). Boo! I may need to ask someone to buy a bunch of their stuff for me at Target and send it over.
  • Our BRAND STINKIN' NEW washing machine isn't working. It started last week when I washed some sweaters and they came out soaking wet. Now it won't even go through more than a couple of minutes of a wash cycle. Zach's been trying to contact the store all morning, as it's under warranty, but no luck yet.
The Interesting:
  • In class today we talked some about the Swiss traditions for "Paques" (Easter). Apparently EVERYTHING closes on Good Friday, and on the Monday after Easter Sunday (but work under normal hours on Saturday and Sunday). Apparently on Friday all the church bells go to Rome (??), meaning they all go silent, until Sunday when they "return" and ring like mad. And there's no Easter Bunny, instead chocolate eggs fall down through your chimney into your home for the children to eat. (I guess to someone not raised in the culture a rabbit coming by and hiding colored eggs in your house/yard would seem pretty strange, too, huh?)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

At least they weren't late...

So I got a text message the other day confirming the Ikea delivery for today, between 4:30 and 6pm. I made a note of it and planned out my day around this. I figured I could hang around in the city a bit after my class is over, then head home in time to be here by 4pm and wait for the Ikea delivery people. Cool.

Fast forward to me browsing around inside an H&M store at 2pm and getting a phone call... it's man, who only speaks French, and I can't understand a word he's saying other than him confirming my name and address. So he says what I assumed was that he'd try to find someone who could speak English, and 2 minutes later I get a call from a woman saying that the Ikea delivery man is at my house. Now. I said "But you said they wouldn't be there till 4:30 this afternoon, I'm in Geneva right now it'll take me at least an hour to get home." So she told me they could come back in an hour. "OK," I thought," if I can catch the bus in the next 10 minutes or so I can make it in an hour."

So I get to the bus station and unfortunately the bus that comes to our house doesn't go by very often. I check the schedule, and, of course, I'd missed the last bus by 4 minutes, and the next one wouldn't be coming for an hour. Shit. I frantically try to call Zach at work, but no one answers-- there's only 1 phone line to his office and it seems no one likes to actually pick it up ever (and Zach doesn't have a cell phone b/c we want to use a provider that requires us to have our permanent residence permits to sign up for an account, and they haven't come in the mail yet). So I did the next best thing I could think of-- I hopped on a bus that goes to a town nearby ours, and once I got there I'd just walk the rest.

And so, I sat on the bus for 20 minutes, got to the town, and walked the 2-2.5 miles home. It was a gorgeous walk-- all green fields inbetween the 2 towns, I even passed a bunch of horses and a pony-- unfortunately I was too pissed off and in too much of a hurry to even enjoy it.

They called me again when I was 10 minutes away, fortunately they agreed to wait for me and I finally got home and let them in to deliver the stuff. Ugh. I'm not even gonna bother opening anything up or trying to put anything together, I'll let Zach do that tonight.

The good news is when I got home Michelle, the neighbor, came over with a package that had come for me today from the post office-- it was some books I'd ordered off just a few days ago! I wasn't expecting them for another couple weeks, but they got here super fast.

So now, I'll relax, rest my legs, and read one of my new books. I've already had my exercise for the day.

UPDATE: Once Zach was home and we had dinner started, we opened up the boxes, anxious to put our furniture together and, well, HAVE some furniture. Unfortunately, the only tool we currently have is a philip's head screwdriver, and we needed a few more things to be able to put together our new table and dressers. This is when our new neighbors came to the rescue-- we went next door, holding the pictures of the necessary tools from the Ikea instructions manuals, and managed to convey in French that we needed to borrow a few tools. They more than obliged, happily lending us what we needed and telling us there's no rush to bring them back (they are seriously so nice). We now have a dining table (WOOT! I got to do my French homework while sitting at a table!) and the skeleton of our dresser put together. The rest will have to wait till tomorrow... Now, it is time for bed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"make new friends (but keep the old...)"

This afternoon after class I was planning on heading over to Place Neuve to hang out for a bit (a park in Geneva where they have some of those big chess sets with pieces 2 or 3 feet tall) but some of the gals from the class were gonna go have lunch together so I joined them instead. It was fun, but interesting-- most everyone knows English, except for Yoko who's from Japan and Roxy who's from Cuba, so we were good and spoke French for most of the meal. It's so cool to be meeting people from all over like this-- other countries represented in our lunch group were Holland, Germany, and Georgia (the actual country, not the state). Afterwards some of us did some shopping, and I wound up talking a lot with Roxy in Spanish. She seemed happy and relieved to find another Spanish-speaker. =) I'm glad to have finally had some contact with these gals outside of class, I hope it continues... we need to make some friends!

Unfortunately I was already halfway home on the bus when Zach called me saying he was in town taking care of some stuff before his French class tonight... it would have been nice to get together for dinner or something, as he won't get home tonight till after 10pm, but oh well. Next week we may try to actually plan something out.

Tomorrow morning Zach's gonna try to go get another bit of paperwork done at the Population office, something else that's needed for the registration of our car (i.e. something else that needs to be taken care of before we can get our car). Hopefully it will be fairly simple and easy. We're supposed to pick up the car tomorrow, but I'd kinda been planning on delays and hopefully we'll still get it by the beginning of next week. Unfortunately we already returned the rental car, so we'll be relying on the bus system over the weekend. Which shouldn't be bad. I just realized the other day that Saturday is St Patrick's Day! I've already made note of an Irish Pub in Old Town that's supposed to be really good. I think we'll try to go there to celebrate.

I got a text message today confirming our Ikea delivery for tomorrow afternoon!! Since we most likely won't have a car to pick up, we'll be able to spend the evening putting together our new stuff. Woot! =)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring! Cleaning?

Unfortunately, after inhabiting our adorable house it is already starting to get dirty. I need to go out and buy some cleaning products. Zach already got glass cleaner, but that's it. I'm SERIOUSLY missing my Method wipes... especially now that we actually have a bunch of stainless steel in our kitchen, and boy that stuff gets dirty quick! Fortunately, I just remembered that Method now sells products in the UK, too, and it appears that shipping stuff from the UK to Switzerland isn't that bad. Perhaps tomorrow I'll scope out my options for cleaning stuff here, and if I don't like what I see I'll place a gigantic order for my beloved Method brand. Heck, now we even have a community compost set-up so I can actually let the wipes biodegrade like they're supposed to! ; )

(I also recently discovered that will ship stuff to us for less than it takes to ship from the states, and their selection is only somewhat smaller than There's also, for Germany, but their site's all in German so that doesn't really work)

Today I took some time to finish unpacking some suitcases that have been sitting open, half-unpacked, since we got here. Now my clothes are neatly stacked on the floor of our bedroom (we'll see how long that lasts...). I actually discovered some stuff I hadn't realized we had with us already. I'm partially trying to make room for our Ikea stuff, which should come Thursday (cross your fingers!). I'm also kinda feeling a need to make some order out of the chaos we call our home.

We also got our air shipment today! So now we have some more plates and cups, and other random stuff. Unfortunately we didn't decide to send an air shipment till after we'd already sent the rest of our stuff on a boat, otherwise we coulda planned a bit better as to what to put in there. Oh well. Everything else should get here in just a couple more weeks....

It's been warming up lately. Today I'm actually hanging around in a tank top, with the window of our bedroom open (letting in sunshine and warmth). You still need a jacket or at least a good sweater especially if the wind picks up, but still it's been fabulous. I wonder if this will continue to progress, or if at some point we'll go back to cloudy skies and rain. This reminds me of California weather a bit.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Settling In

Here's a few recent pictures of our home and stuff. Go to my flickr page to see a few more.

Behold: our "dryer":
Ok, so we got a better drying rack the other day, which holds wuite a lot of stuff and works quite a bit better than this one. But, still, untill we get an actual dryer, this is how we're drying clothes for now. We'll see how long this lasts.

And now, our "dining room":
At least we now have chairs! And, if things go according to plan, we'll get our shipment from Ikea on thursday meaning we'll also have a TABLE to eat off! VERY exciting stuff. ; )

This is our collection of books on Geneva and Switzerland. Most of them have been given to us (actually I think the only ones I actually bought are the Know-It-All Passport, Living and Working in Switzerland, and the yellow city map). Hopefully these will all help to give us an idea of how things work around here...

I took this yesterday, when Zach and I went on a walk. It was a gorgeous day... except for the wind! But it was still nice to get out, and we encountered 2 people on horseback which is still a novelty to me. I imagine it will wear offr before long, as later in the afternoon we had like 4 different groups on horseback walk down the street, just in front of our house. It's so amazing out here, I'm so glad to be able to reap the benefits of the European system where they control city planning so much more. The US could have been a lot more like this, but instead we've got Suburbia.

Today I found the American Market, a teeny little store that sells traditional American food. Mostly it's junk food, things like Betty Crocker cake mix and Pringles. It was fun to poke around the aisles and see what they had, things which included cheese in a can, marshmallows, Pace salsa (will have to tell Zach about that one, I'm sure he'll be pleased), and Kraft mac & cheese. I bought a box of Bisquick and some syrup, along with a cherry coke and some granola bars. There were a few other things I was tempted by, but I didn't wanna load myself down too much (as I was in Geneva, and therefore on foot) and figured I could come back later.

I was surprised to also see some stuff that wasn't American at all, but listed as coming from Peru, like dulce de leche, and pureed/concentrated lucuma, a south american fruit that I've never actually had, but lucuma flavored ice-cream used to be my FAVORITE back in Chile (if I remember correctly, it tastes sort of like butterscotch). They also had a powder mix to make pisco sours (a traditional Peruvian and Chilean alcoholic drink, similar to a margarita)!

Zach has his first class tonight, so he won't be home till kinda late. I plan to take my first bubble bath in our awesome big bath tub (with the bubble bath I finally found today at The Body Shop, haven't been able to find it anywhere else!), work on some French, and hang out with Sierra. =)
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Sunday, March 11, 2007

And on sunday, by law, we rest...

So apparently Switzerland has laws against doing any work on Sundays. I'm totally serious. You're not allowed to go to work, nor perform work at home (like gardening, laundry, etc). Certain people are allowed to work, like farmers, and shops in touristy areas stay open Sundays, but for everyone else you can get fined for working on a Sunday. I think it's hillarious... and very European. =P

Yesterday was a glorious day, sunny, not a cloud in the sky... and windy as hell. Ever since Friday it's been like this, you look out the window and it looks like an awesome day to spend outside, then you walk out the door and nearly get knocked over by the freezing wind. Our neighbors told us it's the "bise du salon," a cold wind that seems to come into town at the same time as the imfamous car show that happens in Geneva every year.

Even with the wind we couldn't quite resist taking a walk in the late afternoon, but as we set out the door Michelle, our next-door-neighbor (the one who invited Zach over for fondue several weeks ago) opened up her window and said hello, beckoning us to come inside for a minute. I got to meet her and her husband, Gerard, and she served us hot tea and chocolate chip cookies. She is seriously beyond adorable! They only speak French, but luckily she spoke simply enough that I could understand basically everything they said. Gerard had just gone out walking earlier and had spotted several deer, and even a wild pig, around the area. They also showed us some books about our town, with old pictures of what our house looked like when it was still a little farmhouse. It was all very cute. We only stayed about 20-30 minutes, as Zach had exhausted his French and we still wanted to take a short walk before meeting up with some friends in Geneva, so we excused ourselves (telling them, of course, that we'll have to have them over as soon as we get, like, furniture and stuff) and went on our way. It's gonna be really neat having them as neighbors, they seem so nice and helpful.

Anyway, so then we walked and made a quick dinner and then drove into town to meet up with Eva and Colin from Zach's work. We went to a few different bars, and being the old boring foggies we have turned into, complained about the loud music at each place. =P We went into one place (wittingly named "Alhambar") that actually seemed pretty cool, but it was packed and not exactly the kind of bar to chat with friends. We went across the street to another bar, which seemed a bit too ritzy and high-class, but it was the only other one we knew about and it was too cold outside to continue walking aimlessly, so we stayed and had our 20franc drinks and had a good time anyway. We wound up heading back towards our car around 11:30ish, noting happily that if our nights out follow this pattern (timewise) it should be fairly easy to just take the bus into town (the last one that takes us home leaves at 12:06am).

Unfortunately, we are having to get used to smoky bars all over again. =( Seems strange that a place like Geneva, with its focus on cleanliness and order, etc, would still allow smoking in bars... maybe they'll change that soon? Who knows. It sucks to come back home all smelly though. We got spoiled in California.

Anyway, so today we woke up lazily, took another walk (in the blustering wind), bought some bread at the neighboring bakery, and have been hanging out every since. In about an hour we're gonna head over to Bob and Aruna's for dinner, which I'm looking forward to-- their daughter, Jules, is friggin adorable. And I haven't seen their home yet, which Zach says is really cute. So, yeah, should be a fun evening. =)

six word sunday: "You working all day, too?" "Yep"

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Update: Car Shopping

We bought a car!!!

Ok, so we tried to find a Peugeot... we really did. We kept researching online and finding several that were listed at various used car dealers, and then we'd show up and find nothing. I don't know if this was b/c they'd just gotten sold, or if the infamously poor customer service of Europe extends to rarely updating online inventories. Anyway, we did find a few Peugeot 307s that we liked (cute little 4-door hatchbacks) but they were kind of on the high end of our price range (we even found a PURPLE one today that was very tempting, but again, too pricey).

So we wound up going back to the Honda Civic that we saw yesterday, and test-driving it, and then buying it. This seemed the best option for several reasons: 1) We know Hondas. They're damn good cars. I still sometimes miss the honda civic I had in college. 2) The stats on it were good, and it was inexpensive (apparently they haven't realized here yet that Japanese cars are really good cars). 3) The guy that helped us out knew Spanish, so we could actually communicate on a level where I understood the vast majority of the words coming out of his mouth, as opposed to the 40%-50% coming out of every other, French-speaking dealer we talked to. Seriously, hardly any of them spoke any English.

It's a 2001 4-door hatchback, standard transmission (but of course!), sky blue in color, very cute. I think it has something like 60k km, about 30k-40k miles? Not bad. We signed some paperwork today, and now we have to wire over the money, figure out how to get one more piece of paper that's apparently needed for the registration (something that says we're allowed to drive in Geneva *rolls eyes* and no it is not related to a driver's license), and then we'll get to pick it up on Thursday, all ready to go.

These are pictures I found online, it's not our car but this is exactly what it looks like:

Friday, March 09, 2007

Car Shopping

We went car shopping this afternoon. I tried to tell Zach we should get this pink bug... alas, he said no. =( haha, oh well. We actually had a bit of a hard time-- we went to several used car dealerships, and I'm used to the US having TONS of cars on the lot, but these places were a lot smaller, and each lot only had a few cars that we'd be interested in. But we found a honda civic hatchback that we liked, and some Opels that were cute and inexpensive (I think it's a German brand, owned by GM), and there's a Peugeot dealer that has a car that we liked, but is a bit pricey.. we'll see. We both kinda like the idea of the Peugeot, partially b/c it's a very European brand that we could never find in the states (or, only very rare, old models) and also partially for nostalgic reasons for me-- my parents had Peugeots when we were in Chile and right after we moved to the states. I just talked to my dad and he recommends them highly, so we'll see. It'd be fun to get something more "European" that we couldn't have in the states. =P It was also interesting the difference in the car salesmen... in the states, you can't go browsing the lot of a dealership without getting attacked by several salesmen. Here, we practically had to fight for their attention! But anyway... the Peugeot dealer actually seemed a bit nicer, we may go back tomorrow or Monday to check out again a car we're interested in. We'll see. Hopefully we find a car soon, one way or another, as this whole rental-car thing's getting mighty expensive...

We got a call today from Ikea, and our stuff should get delivered next week!! Yay! Zach also heard that our boat shipment may have arrived on land and is getting driven over soon, but we're not entirely sure about it. We may have STUFF soon! =)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

On shopping, books, and furniture (or a lack thereof...)

I took the bus into Geneva this morning for my French class, and got there a bit early. It's been chilly lately but nothing too terrible-- I remembered to bring gloves with me today, and it seemed to make all the difference. A warm jacket can keep you only so warm-- if there's cold wind on your hands and/or neck, you'll still freeze.

After class I walked around a bit, looking for a place to buy loose-leaf notebook paper. I found 2 Paperies that were adorable, one near Old Town and another sort of near the river. They had all sorts of greeting cards, notebooks, journals, etc etc... including new Moleskin notebooks that are city guides that you write yourself! They'll have a map and list of public transport, but then there's sections for you to write in sites, restaurants, etc, and opinions. Seems pretty sweet if you ask me. I didn't check the prices, though-- they probably were expensive. I also wanted to buy some more pens, but they only had individual ones that were pretty expensive-- 1-2 francs each for normally inexpensive-seeming pens-- and they didn't have any in bulk packages, so I figured I'd wait and try a less specialized store later.

After buying my paper, I went in search of this English bookstore I'd read about online called Off The Shelf. I found it after a bit of walking, it's on the floor just above a German bookstore. It's small, only 1-2 rooms, but it was neat to look through familiar titles. Unfortunately, I noticed that all the books were really expensive-- 30-40 francs for paperbacks (that's like $25-$36 each, I think). I did buy 2 books, one called The Know-it-All Passport that a friend strongly recommended, and another called Living and Working in Switzerland that also looked really good. I figure they're good investments, if they help me figure out how things work, and where to find what.

I walked around a bit more to kill time before catching my bus (unfortunately the bus that comes all the way out to our house circulates once and 3 times an hour) and I bought myself a little mini-quiche as a snack since I hadn't had lunch yet. I've been getting these a lot to curb hunger when I'm in town. I tried finding a little cafe to stop in on for lunch, but all the menus listed plates starting at 17 francs and up, and I didn't really want to spend that much. These quiches are sold at a lot of sandwich stores, and cost only 3.70francs. I plan on trying to explore eateries around town so I can know where to take people when they come visit. ; )

Zach and I are getting a bit worried about Sierra... she was doing so well after the initial few days, and then people came to the house to deliver the washer one day, and the electrician came the next day, and since then she's been spending most of the days hiding under our comforter. =( She's never done that before. I worry about her getting all nervous and anxious. I guess it's normal for her to get all freaked out though... I know it's silly, but I worry about my little kitty and want her to be happy.

Then again, maybe she just recently discovered that hiding under the comforter is a incredibly WARM place to be. ; )

On a different note, this whole no-furniture thing is starting to wear on me. You know, having all our clothes in suitcases and/or piles on the floor... having to do my homework sitting on the floor, or standing at the kitchen counter... let's just say it'll be nice when we either get our Ikea delivery, or our shipment arrives. I have little hope of that happening soon, though-- we just got notice that our air shipment arrived in Norway today, and is being driven to Geneva. We shipped it the friday before we left (so 2 weeks ago). This air shipment was only supposed to take 1 week to get to us. Hmmm....

Ok, time to faire mes devoirs.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


We got our washer yesterday! Unfortunately, the electricity wasn't set up for it yet so I had to wait for the electrician to come this afternoon to fix that. Now it's all set, and I'm washing my first load of laundry! Woot! I'm hoping it works ok, the washer manual is all in French so I just kinda looked at the buttons and guessed what I needed to do. That's actually one of the biggest reasons we picked this particular washer, its buttons seemed to be the easiest to decipher.

Alas, we do not have a dryer yet... The washer was nearly $800, so we're gonna wait a bit and see if we can find a used dryer for cheaper. Till then, we'll be air-drying all our laundry, which is apparently what most people do here anyway. The air seems to be pretty dry, so hopefully it won't be a problem.

French classes are going pretty well. The teacher and the other students are all pretty nice, it feels like a supportive environment where it's ok to make mistakes so you don't feel as pressured or nervous about stuff. I'm expecting my French to progress by leaps and bounds at this point, as 4 hours a day in class is 4 hours of French practice that I was not doing (at all) before.

I talked to Philip (my step-dad) yesterday, he and Mom are coming out to visit in June! They have a time share in France at the beginning of June, then they'll come hang out with us for a while, and are looking into using their other time-share week someplace else in Europe after that. Pretty sweet. =)

My legs, particularly my calves, have been in knots lately. I'm guessing it's a combination of walking so much more when I'm in the city, and also of walking up and down stairs constantly, now that we're in a house with 3 levels! Sierra's even looking a bit trimmer, from the added exercise. ; ) Speaking of, that cat scared me the heck out of me this afternoon! She's taken to coming down the stairs and greeting me when I come home, but today I called for her and didn't hear anything. So I started looking through the house, in all her hiding spots, and couldn't find her anywhere! After 2 searches of the entire house, growing increasingly more panicked, I called Zach to see if anything had happened this morning while he'd been home. He assured me that she was probably hiding, that she'd done this to him the other day and found her in a closet after searching for 10 minutes. He reminded me of one last set of cupboards that I'd forgotten to check ,and sure enough there she was. Zach must've closed the door on her when he was getting clothes out of there this morning, and she'd been trapped all morning, but didn't even utter a peep the whole time I was hollering up and down the house for her.

She is, of course, hiding again now, after the visit from the electrician. She's really not gonna fare well when the people come to unload our shipment in a few weeks....

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fast Food Nation

I started reading this book on the plane ride over from the states. It'd be an understatement that this book has been an eye-opener. I already avoid most fast-food when possible (other than In-N-Out), but reading this book definitely strengthens that resolve.

On top of that, reading the chapters about the meatpacking industry and how slaughterhouses work... I'm seriously considering giving up red meat, or at least ground beef. I'm sure not all slaughterhouses are as bad as what's described, but some of the leading corporations seem to have some of the dirtiest factories. It's insane when you talk about a line of employment where the injury rate is a full 1/3 higher than the national average--especially knowing that the real number of injuries could be twice (or more) that number, as many of these places are under high pressure not to report injuries. Basically meat workers are treated like garbage. Even the animals getting slaughtered have more rights (PETA goes on and on about treating the animals humanely-- who's fighting for the PEOPLE working in these factories who're routinely getting their arms ripped off, or getting decapitated by the machines?) And, yeah, let's not even get into ground beef, and how the meat companies have worked so hard to lobby against any sort of testing for e.coli or other pathogens that cause hundreds of deaths from food poisoning every year. If you don't know it's there, you can't be blamed for it, right? As if I needed another reason not to want my kids to eat hamburgers.

I know "ignorance is bliss," but I highly recommend reading Fast Food Nation. It's incredible the things that have been ging on, without so much as any of us batting an eye... it all gets blanketed by greed, corruption, and the fact that no one seems to care about migrant workers (the majority of employees at slaughterhouses and meat packing plants).

Monday, March 05, 2007


WE HAVE INTERNET AT HOME!!!!!! I am so happy! Our phone line got fixed, which means our DSL is now working, and I am sitting at home surfing the 'net as we speak! WOOT! This makes me so happy, y'all. Now I can go on GenevaOnline and ask them all sorts of questions about where to find what. =P

Ok, so sunday Zach and Eva (california coworker who's out here for a few weeks for business) wanted to go skiing. So the 3 of us left early in the morning (ok, it was like 8am) and drove over to La Clusaz, a small mountain town in France that's about 1 hour away. Zach drove, and did great-- he's really getting the hang of this stick-shift thing. =) He even complained about how once you get on the highway "there's nothing to do anymore" lol.

Unfortunately we got to La Clusaz and looked up at the mountains and, well, the snow looked pretty pitiful. There were lots of people skiing, but many of them were skiing over dirt or grass in places. Zach and Eva decided to wait till next week, in hopes of more snow falling (perhaps we'll go to Chamonix, which is higher elevation and should have more snow?), and we all hung out walking around the town instead. We had a lunch of crepes, then tried to find a hiking trail nearby but found nothing, then looked around for cutesy shops to browse around in but were again kind of disappointed. Most of the shops were food or ski gear/clothes shops. We left around 3pm, came back to our house to show it to Eva and then took a walk around the countryside here before Eva caught the bus to go back to her hotel in town. Zach and I then had a lovely dinner of frozen pizza and some wine. =P

I had my first French class today, woke up at 6:30am (ugh!) so I could make it to class by 8:30, it takes about 40-45 minutes it seems to get from here to there by bus. Not great, but not terrible. Unfortunately that seems to be the precise time during which all the teens from around here are catching the bus to go to school, and for the first 15 minutes of the bus ride it was friggin PACKED, standing room only, could barely fit any other bodies in before they started unloading again. I was able to get a seat for the last 1/3 of the ride. I have a couple other options for bus transit, either leaving at a different time or driving to the next town (1.5 miles away) and taking one of the buses there (which come much more often), we'll see what I end up sticking with.

Well, I need to walk over to the Mayor's house and see if I can find out where the trash and recycling dumpsters are for our village, and then I need to get started in my French homework. Bon journee, et au revoir! =)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Swiss Countryside

the self-portrait
Originally uploaded by mightymarce.

Pictures from our trip and our new home are now up on flickr.

ps- all of a sudden, when I sign into blogger now everything's in German. This is not cool. I think it's b/c I changed the time to Central Europe time zone? I have no idea. I changed it back and nothing's happened yet.

EDIT: ok, so it took about 10 minutes but it's back to English now... I'm not entirely sure what's going on... I guess I'll just keep my time settings for california for now...

Our Week

Monday: Arrived in Switzerland, and stayed at our new home. Very exciting.. also very very empty. We made some pasta for dinner, and as Zach and I sat on the floor eating we both began to realize what lay ahead of us, all the challenges we would soon face-- driving in a strange country, Zach learning to drive a stick shift, learning a new language, setting up accounts, buying a car, buying appliances, etc etc etc. I think we both realized, for the first time, just what we'd signed up for, and just how hard this could be.

Tuesday: I drove Zach to work in the morning, it wasn't too bad-- nice country roads w/out much traffic. I tried unpacking some of our clothes, though there's really nowhere to unpack stuff to, so I didn't get real far. I took a walk around our home, and everything is just really cute and sweet. Passed by a few people, and we'd smile and say "Bonjour!" In the afternoon I went to the grocery store, where I couldn't figure out how to get a shopping cart (they're chained together with these little black boxes on the handlebar, found out later you have to put in a 1 franc coin to unchain the cart, then you get it back at the end), and was baffled by pretty much... everything. I figured milk would be easy to find, right? Well, I found this stuff that was labelled "lait entier" which I assumed meant whole milk, and then something else that, after attempting to translate the info on the carton, assumed was milk with 2.7%fat content. I guess that's as low as they get here, no such thing as 1% or 2% milk. I got a small carton, just in case... I grabbed a few other things, but mostly I wandered around the aisles looking befuddled and confused. That night after picking Zach up from work we went shopping for a telephone for our house, which we can't use anyway b/c our line isn't working yet. Everything is set up for it, we have a phone number, and we recieved a letter stating that the line would be working as of Feb 20, but when I went in to talk to them they claim they now need us to give them the name of the person that lived in our house before us, or else we'll need to have an electrician come out and fix the line for 150francs. We called our relocation person, and she's working on getting that sorted out. At least we have a local cell phone we can use...

Wednesday: I decided to go into town, to check up on a few things. I took the bus in, takes about 30 minutes to get to the center of Geneva-- not bad. I found where our language classes are gonna be and paid for them as well as the books we'll need, I talked to the Swisscom people about our home phone line, and I did some shopping for stuff for our house at Manor, a department store downtown. At night Zach and I went to the grocery store together, and between the 2 of us we were able to figure stuff out enough to actually buy a substantial amount of food. However, we found out that our main credit card had a hold on it... boo.

Thursday: I went into town again on the bus, partially to have something to do. Luckily the bus is pretty convenient-- there's a stop right outside our house, practically. I felt kinda bad that I'd been riding the buses illegally the whole time, but they never seem to check if you have a bus ticket and I didn't wanna have to keep buying small day passes when I knew I wanted to buy the 70franc month pass anyway. Oh well. Some of Zach's coworkers from California were here for business, so tonight we went out to dinner with them, walking around in the rain and going to 3 different restaurants before finding one that served fondue and that had tables available. They all had fondue, I decided to have a salad, though I tried some of the fondue. I have to say, I'm not sure if I quite "get" fondue. I can see it as an appetizer or something, but otherwise it's basically an entire meal of you eating bread dipped in melted cheese. I mean, it's like eating chips and queso as your entire dinner. Zach loves it... though his tummy did not feel good that night or the next morning-- big lump of cheese sitting in his gut.

Friday: Zach took the day off so we could take care of a bunch of stuff. We went to the immigration office so we could get our resident visas (unfortunately we needed to get photos to give them, and they had a photo machine there, but you had to use coins and we had to go to 3 different stores to finally get the change we needed, other than that the process was fairly painless), we got our monthly bus passes, and we went on a several hour long Ikea trip where we bought a bed and matress for the guestroom, a dining table and chairs, a dresser for our room, a small dresser for the hallway downstairs (I'm hoping to reduce clutter on the dining table by pushing the clutter off to this dresser/table instead), and... I forget what else. Unfortunately, all the big furniture has to be delivered, and they claim it won't be delivered for 3 weeks. Which, sucks. But other things have been supposed to take a lot longer than they actually have, so perhaps it won't be that long after all. We did also get some lamps, an iron coat rack, and trash cans that we got to take home with us, and also the dining chairs and cushions... though we need a screwdriver to put them together and we don't have one, so the chairs are still in their boxes. Which means we're still sitting on the floor. But at least we've got the cushions to sit on now.

Saturday: We had high hopes for today, we went and picked up our DSL modem from the post office though it does us no good since the phone line's not working yet (Zach just gave me an update that that might possibly be fixed on monday). We had hoped to do some car shopping, but the dealership we went to was closed by 1pm and we got there shortly after, so that didn't quite work. We then went shopping for a broom and some more food/house items. Then we got home, realized that today was the first day where it's been gorgeous and sunny for most of the day, so we took advantage of that and went walking in the waning sun. It was fabulous. I took pictures. I'll try to upload them and post them soon. And now, we're at Zach's office, using the internet to take care of a few things.

Sierra's doing really well-- she was pretty wigged out by everything for a while, she still wasn't eating or drinking or using the litterbox for the first day or 2, but by now she's doing fine, has regained her apetite, and seems to have mostly mastered going up and down the stairs. =) In other news, Zach has started driving the rental car, which is a stick shift, and he's doing pretty well.

BTW... it rains here. A lot. Even today, our "sunny" day, it rained early in the morning. And I read something the other day that said that spring and summer are the "rainy seasons" for this area. This could be kinda sucky. Bring your raingear and umbrellas, people.

I start my French classes monday, 8:30am. I'll have some very early mornings for the next month.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Nous Sommes Ici!

That's "we're here!" in French. ; ) Unfortunately, we do not have internet in our home yet which is why I haven't updated till now. I have been on serious internet and blogging withdrawal... At least now I'll get to write some (I'm using Zach's laptop at his work).

So, sunday we got to SFO airport with our 5 bags, plus the cat and we walk up to the Air France ticket counter and... they can't find our reservation. Apparently the travel agency that booke dour ticket didn't go through some crucial step and the whole thing got cancelled. You bet we were panicking slightly. We bought new tickets right then and there, and were able to board our flight after all. Phew!

Sierra was a total trooper, she barely let out a beep the whole time. She just sat, curled up in her carrier, looking kind of catatonic. She was pretty freaked. But she did great. So, after 11 hours of a fairly easy flight (Zach actually slept, I didn't really, but after only trying for an hour I just gave up and read my book and watched The Illusionist and the flight seemed to go by quickly after that) we get to Paris and go through security again (we had to take Sierra out of her carrier each time we went through security) and then went to find our gate for the short jaunt to Geneva. We found a gate that had our destination and time listed- perfect, right? So we waited, and then they started boarding and this was the slowest boarding process we have ever seen. They had 1 lady seeing everyone through, it was a mad crowd, and she was taking forever. Anyway, she takes my ticket and scans it through, then says "Oh, you're not on this flight, you're on the next one, just wait at this gate." Confused, I stepped out of line, and Zach out of curiousity went to check the screen again to see what's going on.

Here's what had happened-- the flight we thought was ours was a flight from 1 hour earlier that had been delayed until the exact same time as our flight. As we sat there waiting for the wrong flight, ours was boarding downstairs. We realized this just in time to see the bus taking passengers to the flight drive off. We wound up having to wait 2 more hours to take the next flight. I was pissed, but the rest of the flight went well, and we got home.

BTW, in Geneva no oine evcen asked about the cat, or seeing papers for her. Woot!

At the Geneva airport we got our rental car, luckily it was big enough to fit our 5 bags. It's a manual, so I was set to drive us home (with Zach's directions). I went into automatic mode and put the car in what I thought was reverse-- far right, and down position. Except the car then went forward. I then took a took at the gear shift and noticed that apparently this car has 6 gears, and reverse is next to the 1st gear position... somehow. After a few more attempts, and slowly inching dangerously closer to the car parked in front of me, a guardian angel magically appeared and offered to back the car out for me. After that we were on our way...

Until we took what we thought was a wrong turn (found out later we were going the right way, but oh well) and I pulled into a parking lot to turn around, and had to try going in reverse again. This was just a comical moment... for thos ewatching from afar. I tried again to put it in reverse (apparently there's a little lever just under the gear shift that you have to pull up on to put it in reverse). Zach, somehow, had this mastered-- each time he tried to put it in reverse, the car actually went backwards. But each time I tried to do the exact same thing, it wouldn't work. We went back and forth 3 times like this, before I finally threw my hands up and decided it was time to go home (thanks to Zach's magical touch, we had been able to back out properly).

After all that... we got to our new home, at about 5pm on monday evening. And this house... is amazing. It is gorgeous. It is so much cuter than I even remembered it. I love love love love love this house. And the neighorhood? I went walking around the next day, and the best way I can describe it all is "painfully adorable." THere's houses that block the view from our house, but if you walk around a bit you can see what I think are the Jura mountains. There's snow on them. And there's pretty fields all over the place. And when we drove around on tuesday we saw several people walking around on horses. Heck, I even saw a group of people on horseback walk in front of our house. I took a bunch of pictures, I'll get them up hopefully once we have internet at home.

Ok, I should get off the computer now... I have some more stories, such as when I tried to buy milk at the grocery store, but I'll have to recount them some other time.


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