Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back Home Again -
I thought I'd write before I left to fly across the pond to the land of Alps, Cheese, Chocolate and Watches, but there was too much to do.
I flew in last evening - exhausted, hungry, ready to be home and with a sore tailbone from sitting 11 1/2 hours on two planes. The main thing is that I returned safe and sound.
Switzerland was hotter than ever I experienced, which means that my summer travel remains true to form - no matter where I go, it is hotter than normal. I did miss our air conditioning greatly.
I met my sister in Atlanta and we flew over together. So, we were able to spend some time together as well. We must be sisters as we both were reading "The Help" - she had the paperback and I on the Kindle. She finished first although I was ahead of her to begin with.
She was a help to negogiate the train from the airport to Zurich main station, while I helped in getting us to a place where we had some transactions to make. I picked the lunch place and ate a most wonderful Zurich dish - geschnetzlets with spaetzli - chopped veal pieces on a cream sauce with wee dumplings along with some veges. It was delicious. My sister also got us from Zurich to Basel by train, something she's done many times. My cousin and her husband met us at the train station and we got all the luggage in as well as ourselves.
I was not feeling well, having a runny nose Tuesday night already. I had a bit of a sinus infection going on which coupled with being up 2 whole days and not getting any sleep on the plane certainly didn't help the situation. My cousin is a retired nurse and stopped at the drugstore where we picked up some sinus tablets - plant based, nose spray, and aspirin in a powdered form that mix in water. Believe it or not, all that helped and in a couple days, I was feeling better if still a bit congested.
WE enjoyed a lovely open house with wine and finger foods at my cousin's and several other cousins joined us as well. Let it be known that neither my sister nor I were overly talkative as we were trying hard just to stay awake!
On Friday, we went to the town where my Dad grew up and all my aunts and uncles spent much of their childhood. I still have relatives from my mom and dad there and where I spent most of all my times in Switzerland. WE stopped at the Flower Shop and picked up a couple small flowering plants -
one for our parents and one for my aunt. It was a very hot, sunny day. We visited my parents grave site and my grandma's before heading to my aunt's gravesite for the brief service where all my cousins gathered in the shade of the columbarium wall. The pastor was in his 50's, very pleasant and personable. He gave me an order of service for the church service which followed. He even played two pieces on the cello which he did wonderfully.
My one cousin spoke of my aunt's life when my aunt was young. I spoke about my aunt during our growing up years in Chicago, and my cousin finished with remembrances of my aunt when she retired and returned to Switzerland. The pastor referred to me as a sister in ministry!
Afterwards, we drove to a restaurant overlooking the local lake for a very fine lunch complete with wine and plenty of talk. How good to see my cousins gathered together. It is a rare occurance even for those who live over there. I saw my great-aunt and how wonderful to be together, catching up each other's lives and remembering our parents and aunt. My aunt who never married or had children must have been smiling down to see us all there to honor her life, to remember her and to bid her farewell as she has begun her new and eternal life with God. My sister and I were so very blessed that we went and were there.
It was so hot, that I nearly sat in the big silver urn that was full of ice and water to keep the white wine cold, but decorum dictated merely putting my hand in there and wiping my forehead!!!
I must admit, when I was with my cousin M in Ticino - the Swiss Riveria - we stopped in the grocery store one hot late afternoon after a very warm postal bus ride home from sightseeing - and I pointed out cheeses in the refrigerator section - to feel cool up my sleeve! And I opened the freezer door and stuck my face into the cooler to "look more closely at the fish!!!" My cousin thought I had gone crazy with heat and just cracked up. However, we cooled off nicely and quickly!
Ticino is a beautiful area of Switzerland with lush vegetation, various palm trees and Italian is spoken. The food, of course, is also very Italian, very good and as with the rest of Switzerland, also expensive.
Mostly, it was just too hot to eat and lunch usually consisted of liters of non-carbonated water for me, nectarines, and little tidbits of bread and salami, and even an ice cream or two. We stuck our feet into Lake Maggiore to cool off and spent time on the lakeshore where there might be a cool breeze. We rode bikes down to the lake and the bike ride created a bit of a breeze. Course I haven't riden a bike in over 25 years and eventually got the hang of it again. Even have some bruised legs to prove it - mostly from stopping and bangning into the handle bars!!!
Ascona is a lovely town with a beautiful lakefront. We had a fantastic dinner at a Grotto. It started with bread and 2 types of salami (all served family style - they bring you salami on a cutting board, you chop off the slices you want and the board then goes on to another table where the diners there do the same thing). That was followed by thin slices of beef tongue. Needless to say, we passed on that. I grew up having to eat tongue and am glad not to have to eat it as an adult. Then came salad. Followed by a plate of bow tie pasta with a tomatoe cream sauce that was simply wonderful with a bit of heat. Then arrived the meat with polenta with an incredible sauce. Wow! Following that was a variety of cheese also on a cutting board. And then came a simple dessert of small slices of bar cookies with fruit spread on them. The dessert was nothing to write home about - but by then, we were too stuffed to really want it any way. The wine was excellant as well.
Good thing we don't eat like that all the time!!!!
There is more to share but the laundry is crying out to be done, my pictures are ready to be picked up, and Jett is seeking more attention as the cancer advances. I don't know how much longer we'll have with him. His leg is looking much worse than when I left a week and a half ago. Even some of his chest lumps have bled a bit. He seems not to be much pain, but he clearly isn't a happy camper, but still has an appetite and still has life in his eyes. I pray he will tell me when he has had enough and we will let him go. But for now, he is still here and I can kiss his handsome face and hug him and rub him.

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