Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy New Year!



Dear Friends and Family,

In thinking about the very New Year that is almost upon us, I can't help but reflect on the old year I am leaving behind. I wanted to send a card, or somehow express in words what a year this has been for me, but I am having a hard time capturing it on paper. Thus, I decided to let my pictures tell you the tale of my year. I have just updated my photography blog with the "Best of 2007" photos. I would love for you to take a look, that way you can see how the cultures of the world continue to enchant and change me, the people of the world continue to delight and impress me, and the spirit of the world continues to challenge and encourage me.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Wonder of a Wow!


I get to see my niece every weekend and every time she comes to see me she has learned a new word. I never know what the word is going to be until she just blurts it out and I applaud and praise and adore! So today I started to read her a book and as I said something fascinating she said, "Wow!" and I thought...awesome! It surprised me and it flattered my reading skills. Every thing I showed her the rest of the day she just looked at me and said, "Wow!" "Wow!" and I don't know if it should have but it boosted me self-esteem and made me take time to consider the wowness of life. There is a wonder in "Wow!"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

women of the world


Benazir Bhutto challenged the extremists and terrorists among us and paid for it with her life. The question is: Is there anyone else among the Pakistani politicians who can stand up to them and make the fight against extremist elements as a top priority?

Read about how Bhutto's assassination is affecting Pakistan at Frank's blog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Carol...



Dear Dickens...how do I love thee, let me count the ways through your timeless lessons.


1. He laments “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”.

2."There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."

3. And it was a very uncommon kind of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was! God love it, so it was!

4. "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"

5. "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

6. "I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laoco├Ân of himself with his stockings. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!"

7. "But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!'"

8. He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Capturing Christmas....


Pucker Up!


A True Gap Ad


Alley is King of the World!


For Someone working on becoming a trueblue photographer, it's all about taking photos, all the time, especially when the nieces and nephews come to make cookies. Here are a few of the winning shots, you can see them all at my photography blog here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pantry of Shame




Jon Stewart says it belongs in the Pantry of Fame....I think he missed a letter.

Comfort and Cheer


There is something quite delightful and Christmasy about getting unexpected gifts...when least expected. For the past two days I have been surprised with a cup of cocoa when I most needed it. Yesterday was full of business, lack of food, abundance of stress, political thoughts even though I tried not to think them, itchy sweater, spotted glasses that won't come clean, accidently listening to NPR when I forgot I promised myself not to, students not doing their work, parents blaming me for their students not doing their work, ugly hair, no make-up, listening to Modern English and having no one to "melt with", no clean clothes to wear, new computer equipment to figure out, no money, not completing any Christmas shopping, unfinished articles to write....and then in walks a ray of sunshine with a Hot Cocoa with MARSHMALLOWS and a rice crispie treat, just for me. It's been a long time since someone did something that sweet just for me.

I thought today would be better....and it was exactly the same, even down to the itchy sweater (a different one, I need to stop buying wool)...again I listened to NPR and it was all about sweatshops and child labor and the GAP and Wal-Mart and I had more students not do their work and more people blame me and I felt like I missed my calling as a secloistered (or is it sequestered?) Catholic nun, when yet again...an unexpected cup of hot cocoa magically appeared from Santa's Little Helper.

So to that person, dear friend, I thank you. You've made a huge difference in my week.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yippee-ki-yay!!!


That's right three things helped me get warmed by the Spirit of Christmas. I feel all cozy and soft inside (the softness may be from the sugar cookies), but nevertheless...It's like I am wrapped in a big pair of fuzzy socks made by a little Russian grandma...

The things that have helped me chill out:

1. I will not read The Economist, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, listen to NPR, or do anything else political until January 2.

2. My three year old nephew leaned over to me last night as we were looking at the glowing tree and whispered, "Aunt D'Arce, did you know Santa is magic?"

3. Bruce Willis--you heard right!
Bruce and I go way back to 1988--when my father took me to see Die Hard during the Christmas season, I was 11 years old, and many of you may judge my father harshly for doing that, but I can't thank him enough. Every Die Hard since has been a daddy-daughter date and we have never been disappointed. It's the perfect Christmas movie. Many of you may think--What about Little Women, what about Rudolph, what about The Christmas Story (that's the perfect Thanksgiving movie by the way), what about....but you're wrong. It's Bruce all the way. I watched Die Hard last night, and I watched Die Harder today...and I haven't felt the joys of the season like I do when I see the faulty gun logistics, Bruce's ever changing hair lines and tank tops, the absolutely unbelievable and impossible stunts, his wife's ratted hair and blue eyeshadow, Alan Rickman as only Alan Rickman can be....ahh, makes you want hot cocoa, doesn't it?

And so, my gift to you, a quote from Die Hard:


Hans Gruber: Mr. Mystery Guest? Are you still there?

John McClane: Yeah, I'm still here. Unless you wanna open the front door for me.

Hans Gruber: Uh, no I'm afraid not. But you have me at a loss. You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?

John McClane: Was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers actually. I really dig those sequined shirts.

Hans Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?

John McClane: Yippee-ki-yay, #$@!&*.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Poo! Poo! Putin


I am sitting here in my office with the 10 minutes of free thinking time I have allowed myself today (the rest of my time spent grading and grading and grading and teaching with more grading...) and all I can think of is that I really don't like Putin. I don't like his shiny head, I don't like his politics, I don't like how good of friends he was with Yelsten (although I do like the furry hat Yeltsen was always wearing around, I needed one of those today...), and I really don't like his name-- it reminds me of the German "Putsch" and then I think of Beer Halls, and then Hitler and then other coup d'etats....yikes!!!!!

Will someone please help me get in the Christmas Spirit!?!?

Honestly, the weight of the world somehow is weighing me down this season....I never really feel and smell the delights of pine until I only have 3 days left to enjoy the wafting scents!

So, I have decided to adopt Madeline's view of life: "And to the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said 'Poo! Poo!'"


So here goes-- "Poo!!! Poo! to YOU, Putin!!"


However, thinking of Putin inevitably leads me to ponderings of Pushkin--and that vernacular makes me happy!


Also, I have a public relations gig tonight that I am taking pictures for...it's so "Samantha Jones" ish that I can almost hear 5th Avenue.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Fashion Photo Shoot


I just completed a photo shoot for the high class Salon Keiji....shots are featured on my photography blog. Click Here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I am in the Bell Jar...




If you're expecting a saccharin blog about the scent of pine, the wet dryness of snow, the sound of sleigh bells and the cheery warmth of cocoa, check back on a day that is not a Saturday. For, on Saturday mornings I reclaim my political mind and read all morning long, then I become full of upsets and understandings and nonunderstandings and I don't know where else to put it but here. I was much sweeter on Tuesday when I wasn't worrying too much yet about the Annapolis meeting and I saw my first real Christmas tree...if you like midweek D'Arcy, check back on the 5th of December. Saturday D'Arcy is a-swirl with decisions.

The FIRST being: should I break out of the bell jar? Should you?


The SECOND being: why is some blood precious and some blood cheap?


Inside my bell jar, it's cozy and warm, I am having so much fun, and such delights and fancies and dreams that often the jar gets foggy and I don't clearly see what is outside my happy, cinnamon-spice smelling jar. Sometimes on a quiet Saturday morning I'll rub a small little circle on the glass of my jar and I'll take a look out. I'll see horrible things going on! I'll be irate, I'll get angry, I'll yell at myself to start hammering away at my jar, break it open and go out and help the masses. But I know that the toxins awaiting would probably kill me, I realize I am just one person and what can I really do, I'll see that I am different from the people suffering out there. They don't look like white/blond me, they don't speak English....in fact, many times I don't see them at all, because I don't look out of the jar...

Instead I watch the TV and here is what I see. I see Americans weeping, Americans recovering, Americans cheering, Americans praying. Just when I need more information about the outside world, and I turn to my trusted media to get it, I continually see myself reflected back to me, again and again...over and over. Thus I try to find an answer to the war in Iraq...and I think, maybe we should be there because look at all the American lives lost, could more lives be lost, could pulling out now be the worst thing Americans could ever do?

I watch the TV and I am told about Dancing with the Stars instead of the devastating effects of economic sanctions on Iraqi children. I pity poor Britney instead of realizing the role the CIA had played in financing the Mujahedeen warriors. And I realize what many are realizing "America is at war against a people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV."

Christopher Isherwood once wrote about Americans, saying, "The Europeans hate us because we've retired to live inside our advertisements, like hermits going into caves to contemplate." Could this retreat into a "self-referential media cocoon" have just some small part in explaining why the terrorist attacks on our country, which have caused so must disorientation and dislocation, seemed not just to come from another country, but almost another world, a parallel universe?


But, did the media take us back to fill in this gap of knowledge? This gap of information or analysis, this gap of understanding?

Or are you realizing, as I am, that Americans (including and specifically the next generation, who I teach grammar to) simply continue to listen to a song where the chorus repeats again and again....this came out of nowhere, it is inexplicable, it has no past. "They" hate us. "They" want to take away our democracies, our liberties, our stuff. Instead of asking why the attacks happened, our television networks simply played them over and over again.

Teaching us what?

That some blood is more precious than other blood?

That our country participates in a process that confirms and reconfirms the idea that some blood is precious and some is cheap?

That death and murder are tragic, extraordinary, and intolerable in some places (our soil, our people) but banal, ordinary, unavoidable, and even expected in others? That our newspaper would rather print a story about three Americans being killed in a tornado than about 114 people in Afghanistan being killed in a bomb attack?

Today I guess I am tired of some lives being presented in Technicolor, and some lives being presented in shades of grey.

I feel tired of some events being declared "tragedy" and some events being shrugged at as "ordinary."

For the war in Iraq, are we simply content to let the statistics be telling the story?

I guess if we truly rubbed the surface of the Bell Jar clean and saw the whole picture outside then warfare wouldn't be so much like playing a video game. If the Defense Department (which has to approve every image shown on U.S. Television, and thus the reason we probably don't know what most of the children look like right now in Iraq) actually showed us the people instead of the stereotype, then I guess that would mean that in a small way the death and destruction in Iraq would begin to take on the same sort of reality and humanity as the deaths in New York and Washington. We would have to confront actual people instead of a sterile video game.

For my last political rant click here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Book Thief

Join me on Goodreads.com and see all the things I am reading!




Death as a narrator has never been so likable and so straight-forward. In fact, he often tells you with warning and in bold exactly what is going to happen, then he paints the picture...so as not to surprise the reader too much. What he does do is the draw the reader in so entirely that soon you begin believing that you want to have a deeper conversation with death.

How could you not want to get to know a narrator who says things like:

"Allow me to play you a picture."

"Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a Jew."

"If they killed him tonight, at least he would die alive."


The novel turned out to deal with WWII, a subject I have read about far too often, and thus have put a ban on in my life for a few years, but I started it without knowing, I loved it, and I had to finish it. It doesn't glory in the bloodshed and the atrocities, it calmly depicts the life of little Liesel Meminger, a book thief. Bad dreams live in her sleep, but out of sheer luck and many footsteps she makes it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

An Enchanted Toast!


Every Thanksgiving the Benincosa Family goes to the newest Disney flick designed to steal our money. Usually I attend and just watch a good movie in my head, created by my own thoughts (which lately have dreamed up some weird things...remind me to tell you about my recent dream). However, this year we were all delighted to find Enchanted so enchanting!! Little singing roaches and New York rats doing dishes (I always knew they could be a powerful workforce!) It was a good time for all, so much so that my niece and I had to go buy the soundtrack today so we could sing and dance to it! "I've been dreaming of true love's kiss...."



The children of the family are really into making toasts this year...and saying "Cheers!!"-- which is something, as we all know, we never outgrow.



Look at those baby blues! Also notice this lizard that became a theme throughout the evening. It had to sit at the table with us, we talked to it, we fed it dinner, and then it almost became dinner** (see below)...in reality, I have no idea where it came from.



I am afraid that the older generations are passing on to the younger generations a sense of drama that must be applied to every situation in life.

In front of April is the "Thankful Bucket" every year we write down what we are thankful for, and then we go around and read what we were thankful for last year. Some of the good ones from 2006 were:

"That calories don't count on Thanksgiving." --April

"That I wore stretch pants." --Brooke

"That Patrick Swayze became an actor." --D'Arcy



Recording the Gratitude of 2007.



Audra: the cook, baker, designer, hostess, and family Martha Stewart. She deserves lots of good hugs for all she did this year!



This was Casey's true reaction as all of his aunts and his own mother burst into tune. It must have been all that sparkling apple cider, but Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, and Debbie Reynolds were all at the table last night!



I had to cheers every time I so much as looked at my drink!



**


Riding home from the movie last night we were extremely hungry and as always...photo ready. We posed for a picture at every stop light...this one was the best, I think.



Audra and Marty dressed their family in strict NY Giants uniforms (can we say mild obsession on the part of my brother-in-law here!!) If I were at all interested in sports, I sport a jersey too!


Auntie D'Arcy, Auntie Brookie, and little Alley! Hmmm, this picture looks exceptionally pink...I don't know what happened.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mocking Thanksgiving

There are so many things to be thankful for on this day! And the Benincosa girls look forward to the "Annual Mockery of the North and South 1985 Mini-Series".

Reasons to Mock are endless, but mostly we relive how fascinated we were with this show as young girls. We worked on our southern accents, we wanted bell skirts, we were all a-flutter with Patrick Swayze....the list is endless and never ending.

Some things we enjoyed about it this year:

1. The excessive use of the color peach.

2. The brocade vests the men are always wearing.

3. Patrick's mullet

4. All the horrible 80s-esque make-up and big hair.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Official

For six years $350.01 has been going to pay on a beautiful car named Golde. I just paid the last payment three minutes ago. Here is my advice: NEVER GET A CAR YOU HAVE TO PAY ON FOR SIX YEARS!!!! Luckily, I got lucky. My car has been very good, very reliable, and very low maintenance. It will last me for another six years at least, and then we'll part ways. However, I always thought I needed a nice car that wouldn't break down (since my childhood was plagued with Gremlins and Pintos and Citations...oh my!) But I have realized a few things.

1. Breakdowns help your faith to grow, people always end up sharing the gospel or meeting the three Nephites during breakdowns.

2. I don't like having that big of a commitment.

3. You don't care if an old, crappy car gets hit, or scratched, or damaged.

4. You aren't as worried about getting robbed.

5. You seem more humble and anti-materialistic.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One of Oprah's Favorite Things

Ok, so today Oprah had her Favorite Things show. There were no YouTube clips to show the craziness of it all, so I thought this moment in history would suffice. As you watch the women all cheering, just imagine their heads exploding! I do, and it's so much fun!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is having a job like having a husband?



Ok, for some reason, being employed has started to feel a lot like what I feel marriage will be like. I have now held down the same profession for five years. During my early days in college, I played the field. I dated Advertising, I had a one-night stand with Business, I had a fling with Acting, and then I found what I thought was the perfect fit, English. English became my main squeeze. For four years we were inseparable, yes we had the occasional spat, but by and large, English and I were in love-- deep, abiding love.

When you are that far gone, it's hard to see the forest for the trees. It was hard, in that time of joyfulness, to realize that English and I could one day happen upon conflict. It just seemed so impossible, we were just SO compatible!!

We dated, we courted, we married and I have the certificate to prove it. We were committed.

The first year I fought hard for our marriage. It was as hard and as rewarding as everyone says the first year of marriage is. By the end of that first year I found a whole other side to my spouse. I cried more, slept more, prepared more, and gave more of myself than I have at any other time. And, in the end, I loved English all the more. Working that hard to keep English and I together only deepened our bond (seriously, people could hardly stand to be together with us, all our adoring stories we would tell...it was annoying, I see that now, too much PDA!!)

The second and third and fourth years sped by with a rapidity that was hard to grasp. We fell into a routine. We had our responsibilities, we got a long, we worked together like clockwork. Sure, there were ups and downs, lows and highs, but at the end of the day, I was happy, and so was English. I felt like this was a relationship built to last.

And then, at the end of the fourth year I became disenchanted. English wasn't as beautiful as when we first met. English no longer made my heart skip a beat. English and I needed more and more time a part. I didn't come home to English, I took vacations from English, I became board with the exact things that used to attract me to English!!


I AM ON THE VERGE OF AN AFFAIR!!!


I feel guilt, extreme guilt for what I am about to say, but I want to cheat on English!!!

I want to divorce English!


But here is the rub! I worry that I am in a "the grass is always greener" mode. You know, most people who get a divorce wish they hadn't. Most people who cheat on their spouses hurt not only their spouse, but themselves. Cheating and divorce are full of heartaches. Yes, English is tiresome sometimes, but wouldn't being married to an Editor make me just as tired? Yes, English is monotonous sometimes, but wouldn't being with a Publisher for five years be just as monotonous? Yes I have to deal with annoying quirks from English, but what if Editing has a horrific mother-in-law who will ruin my life and I rue the day I ever left English?!!!???

Do I need to keep to my commitment and realize I am just in a lull, but that it will get better?

Is there hope for me and English??

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Will "Love in the Time of Cholera" Infect Me?




I wonder? Will Love in the Time of Cholera make me sick? Oprah doesn't seem to think so, but I am tired of Oprah. Why is it the hour between my unwinding-from-work-time and my pre-all-the-other-things-I-need
-to-do-time comes between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm and I find myself watching Oprah more than I ever have? (not today though, as it is 4:17!!) She had all these different couples on the other day, all shouting from the rooftops the love that they feel for their amazing life partners.

I desperately wanted to be moved and feel something, because truthfully, I am not against love. I love love. I think love is a many splendid thing, love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love...almost. But, if you don't exactly have love right now, what are you supposed to do with all those love feelings? I fear I have bottled mine somewhere deep that even I am not sure where I have placed them. Sadly, watching this hour in which everyone was crying but me, I felt like the Grinch before he gets a new and bigger heart.

Yes, I DO WANT to see the movie, and not just because it stars a major crush of mine, Javier Bardem..but because I love feeling like deep, connecting loves (as in the novel) exist!! But AH! I am a conflicted soul!!! I DON'T WANT want to see it because it will continue to feed my romantic mind lots of rich food that is just not healthy for it. My mind will get sick and it will vomit and at the end, maybe it will be like I have been infected by some type of love-cholera epidemic.

Bugger!


I hear the cure is to read more about disaster capitalism...so at least I have the cure in hand!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Does Rupert Murdoch own Everything?

Naomi Klein, I want to have a good ole cup of joe with you and talk, talk, talk. I wish you were my friend. I feel like you are my friend. You inform me, you care about me, you push me to feel passionate about things, you acknowledge me to believe in myself, and you don't lie to spare my feelings. You have opinions and you are brave enough to share them with me. I thank you Naomi, I truly do!

Here are a few notes I took while reading Fences and Windows the past two days.

~What is on trial is not trade or globalization but the global attack on the right of citizens to set the rules that protect people and the planet.

~Does Rupert Murdoch own everything? Corporations have swallowed our public spaces, our ideas about rebellion, and bought out politicians.
(Does he own the Simpsons too?)

~ The economic boom is being built on the back of low-wage workers, and our politicians are looking the other way because they are kept men and women, having been bought off by large corporations before even stepping into office.

~The alternative to capitalism isn't communism, it's decentralized power. Capitalism and Communism have something in common: they both centralize power in the hands of a few, and they both treat people as if they are less than fully human. Where communism sees people only as potential producers, capitalism sees them only as potential consumers; where communism starved people, capitalism has overfed them.

~ There is a whole new generation that grew up entirely under the marketing microscope. They were the ones with commercials in their classrooms; stalked on the Internet by voracious market researchers; with youth subcultures fully bought and sold; told that their greatest aspiration should be to become a dot-com millionaire at eighteen; and taught that rather than being a citizen they should learn "to be the CEO of Me Inc." These people are supposed to have grape Fruitopia in their veins instead of blood, and Palm Pilots instead of brains.

~It gave me another reason to feel uneasy about Michael Moore.

A good read all around! Let's all say it together-- "Down with IMF and Down with World Bank and *Down with Love!!"


*That has nothing to do with the mantra of this book, only the mantra of my life.

Norman Mailer is DEAD!!!



Norman Mailer, the macho prince of American letters who for decades reigned as the country's literary conscience and provocateur with such books as "The Naked and the Dead" and "The Executioner's Song" died today. He was 84.

This is sad, and Gore Vidal is probably quietly smirking in some corner somewhere, feeling just a little justified and vindicated.

Remember the Gilmore Girls episode entitled "Norman Mailer I'm Pregnant!" where good ole Norm sat at the Dragonfly Inn and ordered glass after glass of ice tea, too cheap to order real food? That was awesome.

Remember how he doesn't really think that much of women and is such a man's man? In a world where everyone is trying to embrace or pseudo-embrace feminism, I admire a man who sticks to his mis-directed guns!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Fair Way



In a fair land, in a fair away place, in a fair city, there resides a fair store that I frequent. It is absolute perfection. The floors are cement, the aisles are only big enough for one, but usually boast about 27. This is the UN I like to visit, so many different languages all pushing and pulling, bumping and meshing, and looking for Gouda. The flower market graces the outside, as fresh and colorful in-season veggies beckon you inward and onward. I heed the call, you should too.



The ways are too narrow, the shelves are too high, but this is my equivalent of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. And everything is lined up. I love the lines, I can walk through this fair isle of Manhattan and stare at the lines and lines and rows and rows. There is something that is thrilling about the lines and angles of the shelves. It gives me more pleasure than I care to admit. But, I will admit that sometimes I venture in with nothing I need to buy, just to pay a visit to the jam and the mustard.




The mustard is quite moody....you know how international icons can be! So posh, so beckham, so flavorful. I buy my little French mustard here, the one in the smallest jar, but possessing the biggest attitude. He pretends he doesn't like me, but when he finds out I am fluent, he secretly smiles.



The jam, on the other hand, is always happy to see me! And boy, does she have gossip to share! She just chatters away about the olives, the imported wine, the proud Lindt, and let's not forget the drama of the freshly-made-ready-to-cook pasta! (talk about putting on airs!!) I don't linger longer here as often as I do with the mustard. Heed my warning: the jam, though as friendly as a glass of lemonade on a summer day--will make you the subject of her gossip the moment you round the bend to buy a freshly baked baguette!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wo ist die Bahnstrasse, bitte?

LUZERNE



My first view of the Swiss Alps was from the comfort of First Class on Continental Airlines. I awoke all fresh and dewy (some of the events have been exaggerated for affect) and breathed a quick intake as I saw the tops of the snow-capped mountains flying right by my side.



View from our balcony in Luzerne, Switzerland. It boasts the oldest bridge in Europe, lots of cobblestone roads, really friendly hot chocolate vendors ("Would you care for a beverage, Madame?" echoed in a loud voice so everyone looked at the one person too cheap to pay 7 cf for some hot chocolate I could get for free at breakfast!) By the way, this was the trip of the turtlenecks. I like to have themes, and as you will see, this was one for Switzerland!



Cheese: sliced, melted, in a fondue, with bread, with meat, with bare hands, in chunks, in potatoes, in everything and anything. I heart cheese.



These swans made me laugh. They didn't come up forever and I thought, they are either playing a horrible game of hide-and-seek, they are self-conscious about their beaks, or they are plotting and planning below the surface.



The second oldest bridge in Europe!



I understand a red circle with a line drawn through it, but I don't understand just the red circle and no line. Does this mean that wild and rough looking dogs are allowed at this site? In fact, are they encouraged as so many Europeans seem to think? I wasn't sure, but I didn't like it.



LION OF LUCERNE

...the Lion of Lucerne is the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world. ~ Mark Twain


THE ALPS

SCHILTHORN





After many expensive cable cars, Michelle and I found ourselves On Her Majesty's Secret Service with James Bond on the top of the world, eating potatoes and bratwurst in a revolving restaurant.



I went to the balcony here and shouted, "I'm King of the World!!"



George Lazenby, I'll admit, you are not my favorite Bond. I secretly wished I was seeing a set from a Bond film that featured Craig or Connery.



The Alps soon became an emotional time for me......and Michelle.






































GIMMELWALD

After trekking down the steep Swiss mountianside (Michelle complete with D&G handbag no less)....I needed to revive with water straight from the Alps.

Then I took in the view and listened to the quaint and hypnotic sounds of cow and sheep bells ringing over the countryside. I also bought an old postcard from 1939 from a woman who had the smallest shop in the world in the entry way of her house. She inherited all her grandmother's postcards, I suppose. She didn't know what to do with them, so she put them in a basket and sold them for a pittance. I fell in love with the picture, the stamp, the elegant German handwriting, and I told her I would take good care of it.

Then I noticed that Heidi had not come home...it was getting late so I called her in.


















ZURICH



My illegal-and-hard-to-see picture of the Chagall stained glass windows in Zurich, definitely the Zurich highlight for me.....besides the nice new watch I treated myself to.



Ok, don't you just want these guys to perch on your windowsill and wake you up in the morning? I do! My global fascination with the world that is McDonald's met with some fonder affection, which I generally have none of for said establishment, in Zurich. The characters are so cuddley and friendly, they have a breakfast sandwich called the McGuyere, which I almost tried, they have patriotic chicken figures in the shape of plus signs or the Red Cross, however you like to think of it (like on the Swiss flag). And, although their little workers didn't wear legwarmers like they do in Korea, they were still clean and friendly...another theme of the Swiss!



The artist section of Zurich, called Schelp or something, I will have to check on that. My German ist nicht zer gutt.



We climbed up to the top of the bell tower, saw a Swiss version of Quasimodo, who was kinder and cleaner kempt. We also did little jigs and sang songs from Sound of Music...because, it just seemed right.



Our room had a beautiful mural on it, with a replica of said church. And there you see my third and final turtleneck. Thanks for reading!