Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More on Cows.

My favorite German co-worker, usually impeccably organized and running with direction to some destination, is seen wandering back and forth around my desk muttering about 'COWS'. 

Under his breath looking searching a tad aimlessly.. "Cows... Cows"  I give him a funny look and he repeats "COWS!" "COWS!".  I am still blank. 

"Where do you see Cows Marc?"  He says "Everywhere".

I say "COWS???" He says... no "COWS".  I am so confused.  He finally says "What? You don't have this in English?  You know when things are Cow-otic?" 



Saturday, December 08, 2007

Der Blind Cow

Had a pretty crazy experience last week eating at a restaurant run by visually impaired people called "The Blind Cow". They walk you into this room and serve you a meal COMPLETELY in the dark. We are talking no phones, pagers, watches that light up anything that will cast light inside. (Yeah like that one CSI episode). You check out the menu OR choose to be "surprised". You walk inside (12 of us went!) as a long train of people, hands on shoulders, and are seated. It was such a bizarre feeling, groping around for simple things like the remnant of your bottle of coke without knocking anything over.

But by far the most FASCINATING part of the night was after the plates were cleared. We noticed that for the first time all night we could see something. "No you can't". "YES I CAN!" We noticed a faint but very real phosphorescent glow on the place mats. If you picked it up and blew on it, the heat from your breath would make it glow yellow, like mashed lighting bugs. We started hypothesizing about what this could be. It's just like the sea creatures at the very bottom of the ocean who 'see' by the phosphorescent algae or whatever. We finally deduced that it was likely a detergent that these were washed in that contained phosphates. We asked the waiter when he returned and he confirmed this reality and said it was a big problem that they hadn't solved yet, not something they did on purpose. It made us all wonder how much other stuff we wash glows but we never know it because we aren't in a pitch black room long enough. AMAZING!

It was a very very fun and interesting night.


Ken: "Jack?! You stole my beer!"

Jack: "Yeah, I did."

"It's a good place to take a blind date"

"I bet they didn't spend much on interior decorators"

"I wonder if my pupils are still huge, or if they have just given up".

"Normally when I eat with my eyes close, I miss my mouth, but here I seem to have had no problem hitting it."

"Process High Five!" (Process High Fives are "whiff's for those of you not familiar. They are easy to execute in dark restaurants).

"I use my finger as a level indicator" I say when pouring my self a drink.

"I just use my load cells" Tami says, (in the engineering world, load cells are weighing devices, in this case her arm and brain.)

"It doesn't really matter who we sit by, you can't see anything…"

"Yeah, but our sense of smell still works…"

"The waiter just accidentally felt me up"

"I can't believe she said 'accidentally'" Says Ken.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ok..I'll try some words.

This was the top of my first run of the day from they very top of Mt. Titlis in Engleberg, Switzerland. I had taken lessons in CO the week before so I was a little more ready for these steeper slopes, but nothing could have prepared me for the views. Just amazing.

We went to Engleberg because it was rumored to be a place with snow this time of year. It was more likely to because of the massive glacier on top of it. I had never seen a glacier, but it made me wide-eyed with wonder, with it's turquoise blue rockiness, and very few things do that to me at 28. So that was nice. There was this hollowed out cave of glacier that we could wander around in. We all tromped around like teenagers inside it taking photo ops. So the eerie glowy pics that you can't see, that is what that its.
This was just a photo op inside the glacier cave. (That is Tami the spunky, from Kansas City and me, with a giant tuft of oregano stuck in my teeth) But I wish that i had taken more pics of this Rotair thing that it's advertising. It's the only 360 degree gondola, that means it's one giant contained lift that is round and has windows on all sides and it spins around so you can see all around you. We got up to the very top early enough to ski several runs in the crisp, clear air before lunch. After lunch the clouds had rolled in and you couldn't really see anything, and taking the Rotair down to some more challenging slopes was eerie to see the suspension lines disappear into the milky white fluff.

This was the run the "expert" took. Those tiny dots to the left.. skiiers. And they came from the top!

And this was the "expert". My long time friend and co-worker from Kansas City, Dave. He is just a pile of Great. You gotta love Dave. He's the quintessential, "What? There are beginning skiiers with us? Ah they'll be fine" sorta guy. "Oh that's not steep". He has skiied somewhere every year but three for the last 40 years.
This was me pre-pain. You can see the brightness of the mountains just blocks me out, as it should. This little darling pizzeria we ate in was at the top of the mountain, the view all around was well... you can see it. It was crazy beautiful. We all just kept looking at each other just going "We are SKIING in the ALPS!"

Right after lunch I put my boots back on.

That was the turning point in my day. I had been very confident and taking some risks and using my edges more and going faster that morning, but then my toes started to go numb and I started to have all sorts of pain/numbness in my feet. It's a fine adjustment, too loose and you can't ski, too tight and you don't care to ski. I didn't trust my own appendages or my skis at that point and the cloud cover had made the terrain hard to see. The catwalks were not made for beginning skiiers. They sometimes just dropped off to sheer cliffs without warning, or maybe a little orange string of warning. You know, maybe an orange toothpick with a little paper flag on it, as if it were a giant club sandwich. All of this and the psychology of fear meshed to make me a perfect pile of chicken in the afternoon.

So I branched off from my more advanced trio and searched for more sure footed terrain, only I didn't find any. I found myself stuck, throbbing, and contemplating how I would have to explain getting taken down the mountain in a body bag. But I did it. I kicked the mountains ass, then I cried and winced and did lamaze type breathing for an hour while my buddies got another run in.

Turns out I got my boots too small (duh). And with my monkey toes I was literally sking on some knuckles. There is another trip planned for January though and I can wait for it. Can not wait. Will get better equipment.

So after collecting the other two co workers who were struggling pretty hard on their own search for a "bunny hill" we got back on the train for home. By the time we arrived in Lucern, my foot was so swollen I coudln't walk on it. I almost let them get dinner and I almost just got back on the train, but you are only in Switzerland once, and I'm Lindsey freakin Merrill. So I'm limping to dinner.

I was so glad that I did. Even though I had seen Lucern before, I hadn't seen it lit up for Christmas, and there was a parade. Complete with people in 70's gear playing with things on fire and a Camel.

Then we ducked into a quaint little restaurant for FONDUE, finally. Cheese, Chocolate and Broth (where you cook the thin slices of meat in the kettle until they are done). Lovely.

We kept saying to each other "When do you SKI the ALPS, See a Parade in Lucern, with a LIVE CAMEL, and have Swiss Fondue in the SAME DAY??

When indeed.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Basement Guts

Basement before.

Basement Now.. Stay tuned for "Basement after".
(This is the same view btw).

Monday, November 19, 2007


View from the condo (NITE)
View from the condo. (DAY)

Skiing. I essentially took a private lesson today and it was AWESOME. Unbelieveable. I can't believe I like a single solitary activity this much. It's ridiculous. You should have seen me this morning kicking my parents out of bed to hit the slopes. Like a kid on Christmas morning. Not many trails open not many people around.. but the man made stuff is just fine by me. I had been avoiding pushing myself or taking anymore lessons, but I am so glad I did it today. Got many helpful tips and improved my form considerably. Swiss Alps? Here I come!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yeah Bears

Congratulations to the Wash U Bears Volleyball team on their NINTH National Championship!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tips toward more picturesque speech

Overheard.  Peter the Brit talking to my co-workers regarding a firm they were about to fire:
"Oh ya mean we have ta coll so-and-so and tell em they'ra packa wankas?"

"You mean we need to call and tell them they are a PACK OF WANKERS".
So funny.  Wankers.  Used in business conversation.
Ya pack a wankas.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Gott ist Gut

Before I get into the pics I have a few things to say! First and foremost GOD is amazing! So I am halfway around the world, feeling a lot spiritually dry, and not deserving of anything good from Him. I had been thanking God for the cool paintings I got to see that made my eyes tear up and my breath catch in my chest, and I asked him to give me something else. Today he started the wheels moving.

In our wanderings around Basel I noticed that there was a Basel Vineyard church office on our street. This was interesting to me because I know a lot about the Vineyard organization and I was excited to check out a service while I was over here sometime. However with all the travel and work I was hard pressed to get my carcass out of bed at any sort of hour that would get me to a church on a Sunday morning. So I went online and found that the Basel Vineyard meets at 5:30 PM (!) in a real live church building that is LITERALLY across the street from my hotel.

It is nuts.

I emailed the church and asked if they had any English services. They replied and said no but were happy to let me know that the worship songs were sometimes in English.

So I did some praying that I would get something out of the service and asked the God of tongues to help me out a little with the German. And boy did he. I walked into the church and it was very warm and inviting, a stark contrast to the empty churches I have toured in all over Europe. I spoke to no one and sat down. A man sat next to me and asked me in German if I would put his jacket on the edge of the pew. I said "English?" and he repeated in English. He then asked if I could understand anything and I said "not a word". So after the worship time (which was SOOO in English and SOOO familiar to me, I knew every song) this man TRANSLATED the ENTIRE service to me. We were annoying people around us so he moved with me to the back of the packed church to finish out. It was amazing. It makes the fact that I am going to be over here for nine more months almost exciting, and certainly bearable.

It was a wonderful gift. He said he wouldn't be there the next time I was in town, but I think sometimes words aren't needed.

Now for the continuation of the visual tour.

The Basel Fesitval at night in front of the Rhine:

A church in a quaint little suburban town called Arlesheim, and below Becky, Grace, John (in his easy to spot da-glow coat) and Dave.

Me "riding the weiner" dont ask.

Another Klee at the Basel Kunstmuseum (Happy Birthday Ange!!!)

IN Schwitzerland, it's not "Schwarm". This (and tons of other random words) was carved into a really neat wooden table we ate dinner on one night.

It was also way too "Schwarm" when we went "Swisser-dancing in Salsa-land".

It was awesome. Really awesome. I danced with a short Brazilian all night who only spoke Spanish, so I got to practice my Latin moves and my best second language! Hace calor, verdad??

A screaming Gargoyle atop the Muenster Church tower that we climbed today.

Below, back in Arlesheim, a JOHN DEERE tractor in a Swiss barn. Thought that was worth capturing. Even though the pic is hard to see... it's there alright.

Inscribed on a cave on the way up to the Arlesheim castle. I couldn't agree more.

This wine had my name on it. Look closely.

Cousin to the Zurich Blue cow and the Basel red cow of blogs past... I present to you.. the Arlesheim Cow. A cow of different colors.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Lausanne? Lugano? no LUCERNE!

Took a train to Lucerne today. I was so bummin that my travel-mates wanted to leave at 6:10 in the morning to get on the 7am train..."that one goooes faster, and we'll get there quicker!'... I would rather take longer, sleep longer and...why can't leave at noon again?
Anyway, I am not bitter anymore. Inspite of stepping off the train at 8:14, and freezing, and having nothing open until 9am, (Never thought I'd say this, but thank God for Starbucks) it was an amazing day. We couldn't see the surrounding mountains, because the lake fog didn't lift all day, but we did go see a few really 'rock star' things.
First, we sat at the aforementioned Starbucks and drank hot chocolate and dined on Luxemburgerli's and chocolate tarts I got at the train station.

'Luxemburgerlis are little yummy light treats that come in all different flavors. They look like little hamburgers. Buns made of meringue, and a macaroon filling. Oh they are sooo good, and they are so light, that they 'melt' if you keep them too long. The instructions on the box say "EAT TODAY" or something.

Then we trekked across the old wooden covered bridges to "The Lion". Amazing little tribute to some Swiss mercenaries who died defending the French King back in blah blah blah.

Inscription under the Lion says: "To the Brave and Loyal Swiss. "
I bought gloves and a hat as a necessity! It was nippy.
Then we continued to walk around Old Lucerne until my piggies hurt. We finally worked our way back toward the train station and into a museum where there were Chagall, Klee, Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Matisse paintings and sketches. Did I mention they had Chagalls? Oh man. I love his work. I almost cried when I saw a whole room full of his stuff, some I had never seen before. It was GLORIOUS. Happiness on canvas. He is quoted as saying:

"Will God or someone give me the power to breathe my sigh into my canvases, the
sigh of prayer and sadness, the prayer of salvation, of rebirth?"

I think God did:

And I sadly, cannot recreate it on your screen in the brilliance that it is in real life...

Another gift from God, to my eyeballs, and heart.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sad-Light Savings Time

I have said before that my favorite day of the year is the day we get an extra hour of sleep.
This year I am sooo bummin because in Switerland, that is a different day than it is in the states, and as dumb luck would have it.. it's today.  That's right, the day I travelled over here.  Which means, that the extra hour of sleep not only doesn't count, it actually is worse because instead of being wide awake at 5:30 whining on my blog about jet lag... I'm wide awake at 4:30 whining on my blog about jet lag.
Oh the horror of missing my favorite day.   To add to the misery, since it is a different day in the states, the opportunity would have existed to have this day twice!  To get two hours of extra sleep on two different days, but alas, i will be in Switzerland when the States fall back, so I miss that too.
Woe is me.  I cannot think of a worse stroke of luck. 
Miss everyone already.  This is going to be a long, lonely stretch.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

At a glance.

Listening to: Easy Silence by the Dixie Chics....Awesome.
Packing for:  Three weeks in Switzerland, one in Colorado, and two more in Switzerland.
Praying for:  Fanned Flames, Far away Friends, Soon to be Far away Friends, Giving Trees, a purpose.
Paying for:  Renovated basements, new luggage.
Hoping for:  Everything...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Door Numbah Three.

Ok Jan, Jan Meyers. I had you sitting on my dresser for awhile, and I finally read you.  I started to read you and couldn't finish you about two years ago.  So I picked you up again and I am so glad I did.
Because your words are better than mine.  I pray that if you read this and you are in the same place I am (and I know you are out there) that these will encourage you as they did me from "The Allure of Hope":
"When a woman finds herself thrown out of the Restaurant of Hope, abandoned to the cold dark alleyway, she can pursue the path of "hovering".  Hunkering down over the steam grate, she can lower her expectations to the basement and try to be satisfied with merely surviving. Or she can pursue the path of "clamoring", trying in her own strength to make herself beautiful enough to be invited back into the restaurant.  This pathway is a dead end like the other.  But there is a third pathway.  The final option in the alleyway is an option that feels foolish.--the option of hopeful remembrance and vision.  Frederick Buechner says, 'The world can be kind, it can be cruel.  It can be beautiful, and it can be appalling.  It can give us good reason to hope, and good reason to give up all hope.  It can strengthen out faith in a loving God, and it can decimate our faith'.  The alleyway makes this clear. 
Choosing to respond to hope requires courage, vision and patience. The third path looks like this: "How sad.  How very sad. I've been ushered away from the meal I know the chef intended for me.  As I look around this alleyway, everything I see is cold, dark, and lonely.  I'm going to slowly look around at the harshness of this place, and then I will weep.  I will weep for what has been lost.  Then I will set my gaze through that back kitchen window. From just the right angle, I'm able to see the table where I once sat.  As the back door opens and closes, the aromas of the kitchen hit my senses and remind me of what I had.  I will not cover my eyes; I will not cover my nose.  I will allow myself to be reminded of what was.  And I will wait.  I will not wait merely for the meal to be restored to me --THAT MAY NEVER HAPPEN.  But I will wait for God.  It is His gaze, His care for me that haunts me, and His seeming abandonment that puzzles me.  In the waiting I will wrestle with my own personal dilemma with the chef.  And in the waiting I will offer my presence to those around me; I will find opportunities to love."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And a Child Shall Lead them...

"Hope is a Bastard."
...I am often heard saying.
It is.  Hope for what your heart really wants and you will likely be disappointed.  Unless...
Unless, as Brad said, sitting on my couch: "Unless your Hope is in Christ.."  Unless it's in the one thing that does not, that cannot, disappoint.
I take a hard look at life these days and it seems I, as usual, need to be kicked in the actual teeth before I use my spiritual eyes.  In a world where decay and wrinkles and death and heartbreak and betrayal and cancer are inevitable, I have been shown reasons to hope.  Redemption is all around us, if we would look.
God is teaching me hard lessons to grasp, in relatively easy ways.  Comparatively speaking, that is.
A little Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (or it!) sometimes are all it takes to make me recognize how easy peasy I have it.  Talk about some REDEMPTIVE TV. 
A little 8 year old gal who had been fighting cancer just found out that she has it again.  A little spitfire girl, who, the first time around, started saving her change and buying stuffed animals for other kids in the hospital who were fighting cancer.  So of COURSE they are gonna build that girl and her family a house.  GEEZ, I'd build this kid a house myself.  When they interviewed her this little girl without a single hair on her head and an inexplicable light in her eye, when asked where her energy came from, she said:  "We pray... A LOT.  I love praying, it makes me feel better." 
Accuse me of being over-emotional... or even naive, or even dumb, but when you have faith like a CHILD.  Like a CHILD with nearly incurable CANCER... When you aim at heaven... sometimes Earth gets thrown in.    Aim at Heaven and you spend your nickels and dimes on teddy bears for others, and you also heal.  Aim and Earth, and gripe about your lack of healing and you just have two kinds of cancer.  Aim at Earth and that is what makes you say things like "Hope is a Bastard".Or something like that.
Man.  God is Good. Yes, even the God who allows all things to happen, all tragedies to assail his children... all chemotherapy... of all sorts.  
Man can be good also.  We are not a hopeless race, doomed to destroy each other.  There is hope.  Even if it comes in waves.
There is also an Extreme Home Mansion for each of us in the hereafter.  Perhaps complete with every video game system ever conceived.  Perhaps something better.  Like a Citrus s Peach Fresca drinking fountain.   Whatever it is.. it will have my name on it, and it will...FOR SURE... make my eyes bug out of my head.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

And me without my chalk...

As seen in a department store.

Needless to say, this visibly startled me. Poor decapitated sportswear dude-equin.