Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Hot or Not?

No, no, I'm not asking you to judge me because I think we all know the obvious answer to THAT question.  Am I right!  Am I right!

(dead air)

I'm uncomfortable now.  Let's stop talking about me.

Instead let's talk about the street festival that Dan and I went to on Saturday night.  It was taking place in Lyss, and the only reason we decided to go is because Dan's friend and her boyfriend were bartending.

And they were mixing drinks with dry ice!  Oh yes. Attending this street festival definitely needed to happen, because I needed to get a dragon shot of myself with that thick foggy smoke curling out of my nose--like I'd just breathed fire or something!  I was majorly thrilled about this idea, and packed the camera.

However, we didn't pack the flyer telling us the exact location of where Gabby would be mixing said drinks.


It honestly didn't occur to us that we would have a hard time finding a booze tent that was mixing dry ice drinks at a street (as in singular) festival.

We thought wrong.  This was one big event, and we could not track her down.  Nor did we see anyone carrying around smoking drinks.

Le sigh.

But we made the most out of it and checked out every single vendor stall, sampled a variety of drinks and beers, ate good food, and watched people get sick on the rides.  Now would be the part where you probably expect some photo documentation of the vendor stall that only sold t-shirts with menacing wolves on the front (which wolves had the shadow of the American flag in their eyes), or the spinning bumper cars, or the Greek food cart that sold the largest donair burger in the history of the world, or the beer tent where Dan sat to consume said donair burger whilst I picked on my fries and sipped my beers like a lady. 

You're not getting pictures of any of that, because I was too busy documenting a much more important subject matter: skirts/dresses/shorts worn with mid-calf leggings.

Exhibit A:

I draw your attention to the lady in red

The above picture shows a dress that is clearly an appropriate length to be worn without the need for capri leggings.  What sets this lady apart from the pictures to follow, is that her capri leggings/tights/thing-a-ma-jigs are white.  This is rare to see with this particular trend, so points to this lady for trying to make this unnecessary trend her own.

But we are going to immediately deduct all the points because she followed the trend in the first place.

This brings me to my next point: this trend knows no age boundaries, nor does it discriminate in the department of skirts/shorts/dresses to be worn with said leggings. Apparently, all work.

Exhibit B.




I will interject here to say that the shots are blurry because I was hurriedly trying to snap these candids.  You see, everyone else was merrily wandering around drunk and happy and not carrying cameras.  As a result, they stared at me with a lot of suspicion.  And rightly so.

Moving on.  The above pictures show the three ways this look is worn. And again (though shorts are a question mark these days--who can tell really?) all the above girls were wearing dresses/shorts/skirts of an appropriate length. 

The leggings aren't there for modesty because hello, this is Europe: there are nudey commercials on t.v. and people sunbath topless at public beaches.  Modesty isn't an issue around here.

Is this trend only happening around Bern?  Is it all over Switzerland?  Is it all across Europe? I need answers to these questions!

Finally, I will admit to cringing whenever I see this capri legging trend when it's worn with skits/dresses/shorts of appropriate lengths, but when these are worn with one particular skirt, I have to cover my eyes.  I was worried I wasn't going to be able to document this for you, but a girl in Bern came to my rescue yesterday.

Exhibit C.   The worst offending skirt to be worn with the leggings:

The ruffle skirt!!

I am just so puzzled by this trend. Especially since it is summer, and it is humid here. So that extra covering on the legs seems so unnecessary and uncomfortably hot.  Also, these girls are messing with their tans!

Disclaimer: If you are an advocate for this trend, or are the person who pioneered it in the first place please take note I am not fashion savvy.  I wear clothes, and sometimes things even match.  One time I had a really bad mushroom haircut.  What I'm saying is, I don't get fashion so don't come after me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go walk the streets of Bern in my bunny slippers.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I Knew It!

Bear with me people, I need to document something.  And that 'something' is my cats.

No readers (that includes Meg! Hey sis!) don't click away! I have pictures and everything!

I promise to resume my regularly scheduled Swiss blogging tomorrow (or maybe the day after).  I've been adventuring, I really have things to say!

But for tonight--the following must be noted.

This morning I moved one of our trusty new Ikea chairs to the balcony, because the plan was to sit out there and do a bit of typing. 

I heaved the beast outside, mopped the sweat from my brow, and decided it was time to take a yoghurt break. 

When I returned, my seat was occupied.

I'm busy sleepin', get lost until I call you.

Unacceptable!  So I quietly left the deck to let him slumber in peace.  Please don't judge my choice.  It's just, when he's awake he's loud.  Like, all the time.  And when he sleeps, he's quiet.  Quiet like a little mouse that's actually a cat. 

Wait. Why am I defending myself?!  I will say it proudly:  I let my cat have the chair!

After his fifteen minute power nap, Cosmo vacated the chair and started crying: "I hate my life!--ooo, a bug---life sucks!---ooo, a bug---give me treats!---ooo, a bug."  And by the time he discovered fly number three, he was sufficiently occupied and I was free to sit in the chair.

But after I'd been sitting for a few minutes, I got thirsty.  SO THIRSTY!  I could only think about water!  But I didn't want to leave the chair.  But my mouth felt like I'd licked the desert. Must. Get. Water.

When I returned, my seat was occupied.

Please leave.  I have an appointment with The Sandman in two minutes for my mid-morning, quarterly, third time today, nap.  I'd appreciate it if you weren't around.

Unacceptable!  So I quietly left the deck so she could slumber in peace.  Please don't judge me.  It's just, I mean, look at her.  She's so cute and sweet.  She's like what I always imagined a cat should be like: quiet and agile.

Wait.  Why am I defending myself?! I will say it proudly: (for the second time in one morning) I let my cat have the chair!

Basically what you all need to know, is it was a veritable game of musical chair at my house this morning, and the music hardly ever stopped on me.  Instead I got to witness the cat fight of the century when Cosmo decided he wanted the red chair, and Poppy said: "No friggin' way you delinquent!  This chair is mine!"

Hiss, scratch, MEOW, fur flying.

Both injured parties retreated, and I finally got the chair all to myself.  Then Dan came home for lunch, we ate, and I left the apartment to go on an adventure (I'll blog about it! Promise!).

When I got home, Cosmo had reclaimed the chair again and Poppy was sitting at the opposite end of the deck, looking put out.

"You guys really do like each other?  Right?  Sometimes? Maybe?  PLEASE."

And this evening, I got all the proof I needed that they were listening to my desperate wailing.

They're sharing!  Oh, it's sweet.

We love each other!
(sometimes....hardly ever....whatevs, just appreciate the moment)

I knew it!  I knew you (sometimes, hardly ever) liked each other!

So when the evening sun set tonight, guess who got a front row seat?  Not me.

And yes, since you're all wondering, of course Dan and I knew that when we bought the Ikea furniture it would only be for our conditional use. 

The condition being we can sit on it when the cats don't want to use it. That's in the cat owner's manual by the way, right next to: "bend to my will human or I will cut you."

Everyone go out and adopt a kitten.  You know you want to.

Monday, 28 June 2010

The Walk

Why did I have to turn my boring walk into some sort of thrilling two part event?  Why couldn't I have just said something like: "Went for a walk.  Here's the pictures.  The End."

But no, I had to be all 'stay tuned for the pictures' quite possibly leading you all to believe that I had maybe encountered a pot of gold, or tripped over the Matterhorn, or discovered a fountain that only pumped pure dark chocolate. 

I can't be trusted.

I love taking pictures, and digital photography is so amazing that it allows you to see your picture the moment it's taken.  But I don't really use the play-back function when I'm out exploring, so I might as well be using a primitive film camera.

(Side note: can anyone BELIEVE we used to use film to take pictures!)

This becomes problematic when you're sitting on the train after a long and tiring hike, and are skimming through your pictures thinking: "These are crap.  Utter crap.  Why didn't I look at these as I was taking the pictures?  You are a fool.  A primitive fool."

So then you set out on adventure number two, intent on getting better pictures.  Because the sun is shining and you've skimmed through a couple of shots, you think you have taken a lot better photos.  So then you sit down and write a blog post all about how wonderful the pictures are.  Then you really, really, look at the pictures.

"These are crap.  Utter crap.  Why didn't I look at these as I was taking the pictures? You are a fool.  A primitive fool."

So I have basically been gnashing my teeth since Saturday, cursing myself for leading up to something that is possibly very underwhelming.  I have to keep my readers entertained!  All four of them!

(Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Ais! Hi Thriza!) 

Basically it's my same old problem that everything looks better in real life than in my pictures.  But hey, you don't know what it looks like in real life so maybe you'll find the following interesting?

If not, I promise never to toy with your emotions again.  Until the next time I do.  

Basically what I'm trying to say is I went for a walk.  Here are the pictures. 

The bend in the road, past the riding stable.

I imagined living in this glen, and hosting Christmas sledding parties.

Best driveway in the world!

Here's one of the mini-goats. I know he doesn't look mini, but he is.

Just take my word for it!  They were mini!

Lambchops!  Squint, you can see them in the distance.

What's a walk without flowers?

And fuzzy caterpillars.

Queen of hearts.

Dividing lines.

A bee house.  Which is to say, a house for bees.

Hey bees, let's make honey today! 
Yah!  Great idea.  Let's get bee-sy!
(Those are bees, in case you can't tell)

This is a house-barn.  That's a real thing in Switzerland.
Let's get a closer look....

The front of these are people's homes, and the barns are attached to the back.
You will see these structures on nearly every farm you come across.
A house-barn: now you're in the know.

Another house-barn.

The road is looonnnggg.....(that's to be read to the tune of that song, FYI)

An abandoned house-barn, that actually isn't abondaned because people live there.
They just don't take proper care of it.
I'll rescue you, house-barn. Just promise no ghosts are rattling around your attic, or your barn.

More of the same flowers, just for some variety.

Hi! I'm a horse!  Who are you?

Please don't feed me....

I'm capable of doing that myself.

And yonder is another farm...

And another farm, with another house-barn.

Pardon the off-centre composition, I was trying not to get hit by a garbage truck.

I'm thirsty.

Don't mind my freckled arm...I try not to.

Shooting range!  Everyone grab yer guns!
The little tiny white flecks in the background are the targets, I hope.
Otherwise...RUN COWS, RUN!

Can I come here in the winter, and eat cheese fondue bitte?

Make hay while the sun shines.

I walked through someone's property, and they didn't set their Pitbull or Jack Russell Terrier on me.
That's how you know you're in Switzerland.

Well, that and they still use witch brooms to do their sweeping.

[insert comment idea here]


The giving tree.

More variety.

More mini-goats.

(I promise, they are actually mini!)


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Don't You Just Hate a Cliffhanger?

Everyday I like to go on a huge hike to explore my new neighbourhood, village, and nearby city.  I am learning so much about this country and society, just by walking its sidewalks and wanderwegs. 

I am honestly shocking myself, with how much I crave my daily walk. 

Now, I wouldn't say I was lazy when I lived in British Columbia.  Well, yeah I was probably lazy.  And my excuse always was but it's too far to drive to get anywhere decent.  I don't want to hike in the pine-beetle destroyed park.  I want to hike somewhere pretty.  Waaa.  I'm a baby.

Sure I would go on nightly walks around my subdivision, but 'yawn' it gets old fast being barked at by the same dog, and avoiding eye contact with the same group of white-suburban-wish-I-lived-in-the-ghetto-so-I-could-shank-a-rival-gang-member-and-prove-how-much-f*cking-street-cred-I-have-oh-crap-gotta-go-home-mom's-making-meatloaf-later-mo-fo-teens who hung around in the park, smoking weed and swearing for the sheer sake of turning the air blue.

Here I have absolutely no excuse for not getting out into nature, because it is simply everywhere.  Kind of like Christmas, in Love Actually.

I feel it in my fingers,
I feel it in my toes,
Nature is all around me,
And so the trees sure grow.

It's written in the wind,
It's everywhere I go,
So if you really love Nature,
Come on and let it....

Eh, that's all I've got.  Basically what I'm trying to say is I really dig how accessible getting into the outdoors is here.

Two weeks ago I went for a walk, and followed this road that promised to take me by a riding school. My brain sounded like a five year old's: horses, horses, ponies, ponies, I love horsies, I love ponies. Weee!

But the highlight ended up not being the riding school, and instead the road beyond the school that was canopied by trees and twisted off into the horizon, leaving you wondering what was around the bend. 

This was around the bend.

As usual, the picture doesn't do justice to what I saw.  But you need to believe me when I say I was punched in the face with Nature's beauty, and could hardly breathe so overcome was I with excitement over where this road would go.

But, I haven't quite figured out the Post Bus and Bern Mobile and Train Station ticketing methods, and what tickets I buy with the transit pass I have. So not knowing where the road went, meant I didn't know how to get home.  So I resisted walking the road, and opted to wait for the weekend when I could take The Swiss and show him what I found.

(Umm...never mind that people actually live along this road...I found it!)

So last Sunday The Swiss put on his running shoes under false pretenses because I just wanted to show him something super quick.

He wasn't in the mood for going on a Caitie Hike, so I couldn't very well tell the truth could I?!

Anyhow, I took him back and we started to walk the road and I was floored with how gorgeous it was.  And as we kept walking, and walking, and walking, and walking, The Swiss at one point stopped and said, Hey, what do you even want to show me anyhow?  We've been walking awhile.

Oh, hahhaha (nervous laughter) about that.  Yeah, pretty much just wanted to show you this awesome road with the kick-ass scenery.  Let's keep going.

Then The Swiss looked around in panic.  We've been walking for over an hour.


I haven't seen a single bus stop.

Me neither.

Oh my god, we are so REMOTE right now.  Our only way out is to walk!

The thing you need to know about Switzerland is that public transit is absolutely everywhere.  If you live in a corner of this country that the bus doesn't stop at, you're bushed. You might as well be using smoke signals and tin cans to communicate with the outside world, because you live smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Never mind the fact that by car you probably have a 1/2 hour drive MAX to the nearest bus stop.  The fact you actually need a car is proof enough that you are living in a (beautiful, gorgeous, scenic) wasteland. 

Don't expect people to come visit you.

Basically though, after The Swiss realized I'd tricked him into going on a walk that was (unknowingly) through some remote countryside, he wasn't really that pissed because honestly, the scenery was TOO beautiful.

But the weather was horrible, and it started to rain on us.  And whoops!  That's right, not a GD bus stop for miles.

But no road leads to nowhere (unless it's a dead end, in which case I guess it really does lead to nowhere so probably just ignore what I said earlier) and we eventually came out into a village.  A village that had buses AND trains. 

Whew, civilization.

As we sat on the train, getting shuttled back into Bern, I looked through the pictures on my camera and realized they weren't that great because of how crummy the weather was.  So I vowed to do that walk again when the sun shone, since now I knew where the road lead and how to get home.

The sun shone on Thursday, so I packed up my backpack, grabbed my camera, and I walked the road again.

Stay tuned for a post devoted only to the photos I took. 

There were mini-goats, and some of the mini-goats had babies.  Those baby mini-goats were smaller than Cosmo.  I almost fell into a sugar-coma because of how sweet the baby goats were.  But I actually couldn't get a good picture of the babies, so sorry about getting your hopes up.

But the other pictures are nice. 

You'll see.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Deep Thoughts

What could I be thinking?

This mannequin appears to be in deep concentration. 

Here's what I think she's thinking:

It's two o'clock in the afternoon.  How embarrassing to still be in my pajamas! 

But wait. Where am I? And where did all these empty bottles of wine come from?  And the flowers?

Oh man, I can't remember ANYTHING from last night. My last memory was of dissing Mannequin Julie because she was trying to steal my man(nequin).  I think I called her out for being fake and dead in the eyes.

But I have such a headache.  I must have drank all this wine, but it was so sweet for my man(nequin) to give me flowers.  Where is he tho-....

HOLY CRAP!  People are looking at me!  Am I in a glass box, on the streets of Bern?! 

Mannequin Julie is DEAD!  And oh Lord, are there...curlers in my hair?  Now everyone will know that I don't have naturally wavy hair! 

Okay, play it cool.  Just play it cool.  Pretend you want to be this in box.  You are supposed to be in this box.

Shit, how do I pull that off?

I know, I'll put one hand to my chin and stare into the distance.  Everyone will marvel at how intensely I can concentrate.  They will walk on by and not even notice me.

Who would notice a mannequin in a glass box, wearing pajamas, hair curlers, and surrounded by empty wine bottles stuffed with flowers?

Nobody, that's who. 

Good plan Self, good plan. 

Now, I should probably look like I'm trying to solve world hunger or something....

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

"Peace is Always Beautiful"

The sun shone today.

Happiness is bare ankles and blank pages

So I escaped to the outdoors, where I became lost in a crowd of sun seekers.  All of us congregating in the gardens of Münster Church, to worship the warmth of the sun.

As the somber bells of Münster rang their twelve long notes, gangs of teenagers flooded through the garden gates and brought with them shouting and laughter.

Businessmen in suits fanned themselves over the lawns, lay on the grass, and closed their eyes--for one hour forgetting about the office, and deadlines, and bottom lines. 

Ladies who lunch shared park benches, salads, and engaging conversation.  Cell-phones were checked, then turned off, as nothing was more important than their one hour tête -à - tête in the sun.

A group of Russian tourists shuffled through the garden with cameras around their necks, following their tour guide as she bobbed along holding up a little Russian flag.  A history lesson was given, pictures were snapped, questions were asked, and quickly they shuffled out of the garden and on to the next stop of the tour.

Small children ran and jumped on the few pieces of playground equipment, while their mothers sat under the shade of the trees and absent-mindedly pushed the infant siblings in oversized carriages back-and-forth, back-and-forth, while they gossiped and occasionally shouted caution to the rambunctious first-borns.

And me?  I sat on my bench, with my frosty bottle of water, and made notes in my journal about all the things I want to learn, and taste, and hear, and smell, and buy. And all the places I want to go, see, walk-through, and visit.

Then I put the pen down, looked around, and realized right here is the best place to be right now.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Some Assembly Required

The sun briefly peeked out from behind a cloud this morning, and I almost wept in gratitude.  So long has it been.  Apparently tomorrow she might get all daring and actually show us some leg.  Come on Sun, don't be shy.

So because meteorologists would have still classified the weather today as "pretty shitty" I decided that it was time I did a few chores. Ack! Spit! Cough! Recoil!  I wouldn't exactly say that I have donned the haus frau apron like a good little domestic doormat.  In my pre-Switzerland life, I used to play that handy "We BOTH work 9-5, it's your turn to vacuum" card.

Now I don't have that card in my deck (yet).  I am responsible for order and cleanliness (you should all be afraid, very afraid) so I have been doing what any sane person does: procrastinating. 

And today's procrastination technique in the fight against fighting rolling tumbleweeds of cat hair, was to organize the new Ikea furniture.  Specifically, get all my clothes into the new BLUE dresser.

Ain't she pretty?

I'm only pretty on the outside. Inside I have no soul, and like to make girls cry.

She better be pretty, because it took two days of absolute toil to get this thing put together. 

Our Ikea shipment sort of straggled in over the course of two weeks.  First to arrive were our chairs and our couch, and I had those babies put together in record time.  I was busting with pride over my ability to read Ikea, and get have our seating assembled with no problems and no help.


And this...

Became these.

Someone give me the golden allen wrench!  I could be part of the Ikea pit-crew!

So the next week when the rest of our Ikea goods straggled in (dresser, rug, coffee table), I was armed with my allen wrench and righteous attitude ready to get the latest Ikea puzzle put together.

With a gentle flick of the wrist, and a couple turns of the hand, the rug covered the floor and the coffee table held my tea.

But the dresser, that GD dresser was another story.

Dan phoned me from his pub night on Friday, just as I started to get ready to put it together.

"Wait for me, and we'll put it together tomorrow."

"Dan, why would I wait for you?  I can put this together.  This dresser will be so easy.  In fact, you couldn't handle putting it together because you can't read Ikea and I can.  I have the golden allen wrench."

"The golden what?'

Shit!  Did I say that out-loud?

"Basically by the time you stumble home tonight, this dresser will have been put together faster than you can Swedish meatball!"

There I go, showing off again. 

About three hours later I called Dan in a fit of anger: "Find a hammer and bring it home!  I'm using a can of ravioli, but the stupid can of is too soft and I can't get the nails hammered in!  This dresser is a bitch!"

And somewhere in the universe, an angel got its wings.  Karma struck again, and Caitie was forced to eat all her braggy-braggy words.

The next morning it was discovered that I apparently couldn't read Ikea.  Half the dresser was put together wrong, and thank goodness that a can of ravioli can't be used as a hammer, because I'd been attempting to hammer a giant cover on the wrong side. 

So that afternoon Dan and I disassembled the whole damn thing and started from scratch. 

His first requirement was he demanded order because it would all come together easier if everything was in neat piles.

Don't you think my system worked?

But oh it was sweet.  Because it turns out that Dan was having a hard time reading Ikea too.  Which means that some of my previous mistakes didn't actually seem too impossible to make.

What goes where?  And that's supposed to make a DRAWER???

About two hours into the process we started to become a bit delirious and cross-eyed over the whole thing, and we started imagining ourselves crashing the Ikea family picnic.

"When we show up Dan, we'll call ourselves the FA's."

"What does that stand for?'

(Dad, Nan, anyone else opposed to vulgar words...skip the next few lines.)

"It stands for the Fucking Awesomes!  We'll just walk up to people at that stupid picnic, where everyone is eating their dumb Swedish meatballs, and be all Hi we're the Fucking Awesomes.  We imagine you're pleased to meet us."

"And then when the furniture building competition starts, we'll just crash that party and fucking win FIRST prize!"

"Of course we will!  Then we will get the Golden Allen Wrench, and with that power we will make all the furniture designers come down from their mighty Ikea mountain AND WE WILL MAKE THEM ASSEMBLE THE HEMNES DRESSER!"

"They will rue the day they double crossed the Fucking Awesomes.  They will rue the day."

This imagined scenario continued for an embarrassing amount of time, but sometimes you just need to rally the troops, you know?

And after about three hours (we took a beer break), Hemnes was assembled.

But I was so irritated that she hadn't been the dresser of my dreams (how dare she make me eat my braggy words!), that I ignored her for three days.  Everything is in there now, and she's pretty sturdy and does her job well of being functional and pretty. 

But one day, it is my hope to be a real grown-up who can afford furniture where a Masters degree in Lego Assembly is not required to put it together.

A girl can dream can't she?