Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Those Days

You know how some days you totally feel like strutting, because you're feeling so good?


You feel like you can take on the world, and any other planets that try to get in your way, because you know you've got back-up?


And if you run into that frenemy on the street it won't matter because your feathers are looking fine, so by default you're totally prepared?


But even if your feather's weren't fine (which they are) you still have that BFF with you, so you can talk smack about the frenemy who was totally hating on you.


You know those days? When everything is just...right.

The worst thing about one of those days is how quickly they can 180 and become one of those days.

When you are strutting along, and all of a sudden, BAM...


...chick down.

And your composure scatters as everyone stares at you, thanking God it wasn't them.

Yeah, I had one of those days today.

I'm not riding the bus anymore, unless I get a seat.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Mental Trickery

A couple of weeks ago, McDonalds was running a very insidious marketing campaign in old Switzerland.  Very insidious.

Photo via OMG Switzerland

Isn't this the trickiest thing you've seen in awhile?

I first saw the poster when I was riding the bus into the Bahnhoff. As I stared at MacDonalds' attempts to get their greasy and trans-fatty hands into the arteries of the Swiss public, I riled with indignation.

I was ruffled with indignation.

I was puffed up with indignation.

I was...indignant.

"Who would ever look at that poster and fall victim to it's message?" I wondered. "It is clearly a ploy so blatantly obvious that the only logical reaction is to boycott the golden arches and ensure that their One Hundredth Millionth Quadruple-Axel Billionth cheeseburger is not sold to me! I am outraged at how genius their marketing department is. OUTRAGED. Keep your hands off Switzerland, McDonalds! And P.S. Ronald looks like he has a nasty and infectious rash around his mouth; use all your obesity money and send him to the doctor or a new make-up artist!"

I instantly felt better about myself, having gone on this mental tirade.

I tried not to notice all the people on the bus, who were looking at me curiously.

Sometimes when I go on a mental tirade, I shake my head and my ball my hands into fists, and expressively roll my eyes. My fellow passengers were either preparing to see if I would seize, or if they needed to give me a three-seat radius.

So the day I saw this sign I trooped home and told Dan that I was no fool to marketing.

I AM ABOVE THAT.

Stuffed Shirts in tall-rises who brainstorm this stuff obviously didn't consider what a fierce mental gladiator I am.  Hear this, Stuffed Shirts: I can block those sneaky 'you should buy this, because the ad told you to' firing neurons in an instant, so don't think you can subliminally sell me stuff I don't want/need!

I know your game, and I will not play it.

I will not pass GO.

(I will however collect $200 if you want to give it to me.)

For the next week, every time I passed one of these signs I rolled my eyes and took comfort in the fact THAT I KNEW.

And I giddily pointed out to Dan THAT I KNEW whenever we passed one of the signs together.  He was getting quite sick of me.

One of these signs was in front of our local Migros, and as we walked in to do our shopping I opened my mouth and Dan cut me off with an: I know.

Fine then.

We did our shop, wrangled over our joghurt choices for the week, then stopped in the dairy aisle so I could pick up my milk.

All was going smoothly, until I fell for the mother of all tricks.  Into the tiger-pen of traps, if you will.

"Cait, why do you always buy this milk?" Dan asked, holding up the milk bottle.

"Because I like this one."

"But why this one? The generic one tastes the same and costs less, so why do you get this one?"

"Because...because...I like the label," I whispered in concession.

ZING.

Where are your mental marketing-blocking powers now, foolish one?

All my indignant resolve about insidious McDonalds marketing crumpled to my sandled feet as I realized I buy my milk because the label is pretty, and very...Swiss.


I am nothing but a follower.

Oh the shame.

The shame.

I had to go to McDonalds and eat my feelings away.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Bargain!

I bought a basil plant yesterday.  I thought that the bright green leaves would be a nice way to add a splash of colour to the kitchen, until the leaves are called to duty: flavour duty.

In addition to getting a full plant, I also scored an awesome infestation of fruit flies for no extra charge.  Killer!

Who says you can't get a bargain in Switzerland?

Happy weekend Internet.  Hope you have a great one.

Mine will be spent getting all Schwarnzegger on the collective microscopic asses of a bunch of tiny pests.

THEY WON'T BE BACK!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

In Which I Stare Inappropriately (For An Extremely Long Time)

Let's face it, getting the Canada shipment has been the highlight of my week.  All week I've been organizing like crazy, and setting things up.
Yesterday I spent a  considerable chunk out of my day just devoting my attention to my bookshelf.

Oh yes, you read that right.  Hours were joyfully spent stacking, shuffling, and arranging my precious novels.

I am a Bibliophile (Kindle be damned!) and my books need to be a certain way.  I cannot tell you how much it pains me that after all my careful attention to detail, I then had to sacrifice precious shelf-space so that Dan had room for his comic book collection. Last night I actually had to repeat our marriage vows silently and bite my knuckles, as he gleefully set up his dime-store reads.

Marriage is hard.

But today the sun was too bright to be ignored, so mid-morning I decided to abandon all unpacking in favour of soaking up some sun. 

I wandered around Bern and area for awhile, and then ended up in my favourite place: the gardens of the Berner M√ľnster.

(Click here and here to see the church in all it's splendour)

I sat on one of the green benches under the shade of a protective tree and people watched.

One guy who caught my attention was a young dude who came jogging into the park. He had his white ear buds in, and appeared to be breaking after a profuse run (he was sweaty).  As I stared at his shortly cropped black hair, tanned skin, and ripped biceps, he glanced my way.

Holy. Crap.

Taylor Lautner?!

If you've read this site at all, you have probably figured out I enjoy a smattering of Hollywood gossip. What can I say, it's a guilty pleasure without the calories (actually, I'm probably loosing weight when I indulge that snackish craving, because I'm pretty sure every time I read about Lindsay's f-cked up life and Britney's busted weave, I kill off a few brain cells).

So imagine me sitting in the park, staring at this guy, thinking: I've spotted a celebrity! And not just any celebrity, a crazy ripped one!

My Nan reads this website and I'm not sure she knows who Taylor Lautner is, so for the purpose of making sure my Nan is visually up to speed on the story, I have done some extensive journalism and present you with this picture:

Image via Google Images

Oolala. I will admit that while watching New Moon there were some very inappropriate thoughts swirling through my head when this 'kid' ripped off his shirt.

Oh that's right, I said 'kid'. He's illegal, everybody.  The thought police could totally lock me up and throw away the key.

But back to the park.  So the dude jogs in, does some stretches, drinks his water, and then he collapses on the bench across from me and looks around.  I continued staring.

His cellphone rang, and I'm almost certain he answered it....IN ENGLISH!

The stare-fest continued, but this time I tried to employ my go-go-gadget hearing to eavesdrop.  You know, to see if I recognized his voice.

Gah! Just ship me off to the wastelands now! I am clearly the creepiest and weirdest person who has ever lived!

I couldn't hear his conversation, but that didn't stop me from continuing to 'subtly' stare.  I was wearing my sunglasses, which are big Ray Bans, so they make spying perfect because you can tilt your head left while actually looking right. Sneaky, sneaky.

Each time he moved and randomly glanced my way, I became ever more certain of the fact I was sharing air space with Taylor Lautner.

As my excitement mounted over my certainty that he's Taylor Lautner!, a posse of tweens flooded the gardens, along with their teacher. And that posse of tweens included a lot of girls. 

One of The Teenagers at Dan's aunt and uncle's place has a poster of Taylor L. on her wall, so I know that Swiss teens KNOW of his existence. If this dude was who I thought he was, he was going to be bombarded with hormone-charged girls, looking for an autograph and hug.

But Taylor sat on his bench, looking nonplussed about the sudden influx of hormonally charged tweenies.

Odd, but he hasn't been spotted yet.  He's probably just playing it cool.

The tweens met with their teacher at the ping-pong table, received their assignment, then spread out through the park.

Taylor still continued to sit on his bench, but now he was bopping his head to whatever beat was pulsing through his earphones.

Is he trying to pretend he's just like everyone else? But he's not! He's crazy ripped Taylor Lautner, who has six important acting skills: ab one, ab two, ab three...

I still hadn't given up hope this guy was Taylor Lautner; the resemblance was uncanny! But the truth came about ten minutes later when a group of girls flocked to the bench where he was sitting...to study the tree!  They were earnestly studying the damn tree that grew right next to the bench.  They were taking bark rubbings while collecting little berry and leaf samples; they were behaving like naturalists when they should have been conducting a social science experiment by screaming: "AHH!! Taylor Lautner! Swoon!"

All the while, Taylor's doppelganger sat on this bench bopping along to the song without a care in the world.  Similarly, though the girls did glance his way, none of them flung themselves at his feet pleading to be given the chewing gum stuck to the sole of his Nikes. 

This was obviously not Taylor Lautner.

Sigh.

Today's disappointment has taught me an important lesson: books are better than movies.

At least with books you aren't set up to believe you can walk around a corner in Bern and blurt out: "Mr. Darcy! Is that really you! I'm such a fan! How's Elizabeth?" or likewise, "Harry Potter! OMG, I totally dig your scar!"

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Go Forth And Spread Good Karma

My sister Meghan has a friend who is slightly talented in the singing/songwriting department.

And by slightly I mean she's awesome!

Her name is Jodi and she's entered a Canadian contest to try and get a song she's written and performed,  recorded on David Suzuki's environmental soundtrack.

For people who may be reading who don't live in Canada, David Suzuki is our environmental guru. He used to have a television show called The Nature of Things that I watched when I was a kid. Inevitably there would always be one point in the show that would scare the crap out of me and lead me to believe 'we're all going to die!' when DS would proclaim things like, "Our earth is in danger. The Black Scoter's nesting grounds are being torn up for malls that only sell crap you don't need, and cookie cutter housing projects. Hey people, ever heard the saying 'don't shit where you eat' well our EARTH is where we eat, so stop being a race of dumb fucks who are more concerned about currency than clean air and oceans."

Of course David was more eloquent than that.

But he is Canada's environmental warrior, and he's got a project on the go called "Playlist for the Planet" where up-and-coming Canadian artists are invited to submit their songs to the CBC radio website, and you can vote for your favourite one; the picks will then be compiled into a CD--or iTunes, if we're being honest. Those quaint little CDs are on their way out the door, but not to the garbage dump...right, RIGHT?! You're taking them to recycling, right?

Jodi's song is in keeping with David Suzuki's environmental anthem, and it's about the Adams River salmon run. That is a kick-ass topic because this salmon run is huge (on a good year, let's face it we all know the numbers are dwindling), and it does literally represent the complete circle of life.

These little salmon are born in natural (non-farmed) spawning grounds, then they fight river currents and hungry bears and eagles to make their way to the ocean, where they hang out for a few years growing up, experimenting with different types of seaweed, before they feel the pull to return home and start their family. So they make the big swim BACK through BC's rivers, going against the current the whole way, while trying to avoid poaching nets, greedy fishermen, hungry bears, pollutants, and eagles. Once back to the Adams River--the very creek bed where they were born--the sockeye that survived the journey lay their eggs and then wash onto the banks of the river to die.

It honestly is something to see.

(And smell. For all it's visual magnificence, the salmon run stinks. Beached and decaying fish smell quite...fishy. It's even worse when your dog rolls around in the decaying carcass of a sockeye, then picks up its head and brings it to you like it's the best treasure in the world. Then you have to load your sweet little dog into the back of the car, whilst driving home with your head out the window and wishing you could give her a breath mint.)

Jodi's tribute song 'Salute to the Sockeye' is beautiful. I encourage you all to click here to listen to it. The song will load automatically, just give it a second and make sure your speakers are on.

Now that you've all heard what a beautiful melody it is, how about we all go forth to the radio website and vote for Jodi's song. It's not hard to do, and it will only take a minute out of your day.

Here's what to do:

(1) Go to this website
(2) Scroll down the alphabetical list of artists until you find 'Jodi Doidge'.
(3) Click on 'vote for this song'. You will be required to sign up for a CBC account, but they only want your email and a password. Everyone has an old email address kicking around, use that one if you're freaked out about junk mail. But people, it's a Canadian radio station, you'll be fine if you have to use your real one.
(4) Now you will probably have to go back and re-vote for the song, because signing up for an account didn't register your vote.

Go do this! Do it now!

Then go back tomorrow and vote again.

Spread some good karma into the world, help Jodi's talent be recognized so she can do what she loves, and rest easier tonight knowing you helped select a great song that will appear on a great album; an album that you just know will have all future proceeds go to funding environmental efforts, which includes ensuring that your children's great-grandchildren will one day be able to stand on the banks of the Adams River and watch a (hopefully) still thriving salmon run.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Adel-Bore-den

Are you sick of hearing about Adelboden yet? Well, it's been slow around these parts the past week.  Dan had another week of holidays so we did a couple of more hikes then we tossed a coin and decided we would take the chance of being stampeded and possibly not making it out alive, and we made another pilgrimage to Ikea.

Once there we ransacked Ikea.

We pillaged Ikea.

We went to Ikea and took no prisoners.

We were ruthless and swashbuckling pirates who ran through the maze of 'IMPULSE BUY, IMPULSE BUY' and went giddy with the possibilities.  We got drunk off the Ikea moonshine otherwise known as 'staged living' and tossed items into our cart to outfit our meagre ship with necessities that had been missing for too long--who needs lamps anyhow?

We were mad with power.

Then we went to the checkout line and paid.

We became sad when the bill slapped us in the face.

That night we were happy because we could see in the dark.

And yesterday our Canada shipment arrived so I'm sorting through the mess right now.

In the meantime, I leave you with these final cloudy day images of dear little Adelboden.

Office with a view

Main drag

Village square

Cow bells

Ghosts

Ham's Bistro.
People of Switzerland, Ham serves a $5.00 hamburger and you don't need a magnifying glass to see it.  He gets his patty's made by the local butcher, and when you order, he totters into the kitchen and whips up your food while yelling conversation from the stove.  Then while you eat or sip your beverage, he sits at the table with you and discusses politics while the yodelling tunes pump from his stereo.  People who don't live in Switzerland, a $5.00 hamburger is almost unheard of.  Christmas came early for Dan this year, and Ham is his new BFF.

Isolated

On the brink

The sweetest smell

Once again, we went up...

Better Homes and Gardens

The road was long....

Possible my most flattering picture, ever

This one's not bad, either

Meg, Ais..."The Mist"

"...it's mist, son."

Fresh snow down to 2,500m on Saturday night.  We'd been hiking up at 2,600m.
Good thing it was time to go.

I bid you adieu, Adelboden.  Until the next time I see you.

Which will probably be this winter, when Dan straps skis on me feet and pushes me down the mountain.

I hope your snow is soft and your trees are bendy.

Love, Caitie.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

While in Adelboden, Cosmo fell off the garage roof.

No, no, he didn't pounce off the roof, he didn't leap from the roof, nor did he scale down from the roof.

He fell off the roof. Actually, to be more accurate he walked off the roof...Looney Tunes style.

Cosmo is not agile.  I've said it before.  He is absurdly clumsy and I fear this is because he's a product of a mother lovin' on her son, or a brother lovin' on his sister.  Hey, I don't like it anymore than you do, but these are the facts. He was born on an Alberta feedlot, and sometimes you don't even want to know what those cats are getting up to in the haylofts.

But tangent aside, how he even found himself in a situation where he could fall off the roof is because of me.

The first morning in Adelboden I was on the balcony taking pictures when I heard a very insistent 'LET ME OUT RIGHT NOW BEFORE I CLAW THIS ZEBRA CUSHION TO SHREDS' cry coming from behind the balcony door,

"You will obey me."

Unable to resist such a cute face (or such piercing cries) I opened the door and let him out. Our cats are always allowed on our balcony so I didn't think it was such a big deal to let him out on this one.

It was, and this foolish act would haunt us the entire seven days we were there.

Folly Number One.

Cosmo did a five second investigation of his surroundings before he decided, "This is boring, I want to see more."

Then he tried to scrambled from the floor onto the railing, but he couldn't make it (due to being clumsy, see above) so I helped him up. 

Folly number two.

Once on the railing though, he was in paradise.  There was just so much to see!

"I spy a bird, but never fear birds I am no threat to you.  This is because I don't know how to be sneaky. I will full on CHASE you, and you will see me coming so far in advance, you have ample time to dig-up that worm, ruffle your feathers, and sort your dry cleaning, before you have to consider flying away."

Dan was whipping up breakfast while all this was going on, so I took one last picture and headed inside to eat while leaving wee Cosmo to enjoy the splendour of nature from his perch.

Folly number three.

At this point I didn't realize that the balcony wrapped around the chalet and connected to the low hanging garage roof.  But Cosmo discovered this.

I discovered that Cosmo discovered this while I was standing in the kitchen, and saw something in my peripheral vision slink past the window.

The sound that I thereafter made went something like this: OMFG!A;KJDKGLKAHDKGH COSMOA;KHDG;KLHAG!!AAHHHHH!!!!LAKHGHKLAHUW!AAHHHH!!!!

I opened the kitchen window and tried to bribe him to walk my way, but he can smell bullshit a mile away, and he just did not believe for a second that coming into the house would be way better!

I ran to grab his cat treats (he always comes for the shaking of the treats) but as I turned my back I heard Dan say, "Oh shit! He FELL!"

Dan ran outside to grab him, while I stood in the kitchen dry heaving and clutching my chest in fear that my little innocent babe would be hurt.

He was fine.

The drop was only two meters, and he landed in some bushes.

But do you want to see how appreciative he was of Dan's rescue?

Behold ...the ungrateful!

Letting him outside was a folly that would haunt us the rest of the trip, because whenever we were home COSMO WANTED OUTSIDE! But we couldn't very well leave him out there unattended, so one of us would have to drag our tired butts off the couch and stand on the balcony and supervise our cat so he wouldn't get in trouble.

"I might as well be living in a prison! I hate you. Stop looking at me."

We just wanted to make sure he didn't do something foolish like actually jump off the balcony, which oh wait...he did!  Day six of our stay, and he decided to try jumping on the railing (a feat Poppy managed her first time on the deck), except he completely overshot his target and went ssssaaiiilllliiinnnggg over the balcony railing, and I watched frozen as he basically skidded across the grass (Cosmo also never lands on his feat), picked himself up, shook his head and realized I'M FREE! Before taking off across the lawn. 

Dan had to foil that escape too.

Sigh. 

Can someone please explain to us why we love this cat so much, when he drives us so bonkers? 

"Because at night I snuggle with you, making you forget all about the shitty things I did that day. And also, because I'm cute--duh!" 

Friday, 20 August 2010

In Defence of the Haus Frau

**
"Why yes I did turn my 'woman' badge over to the snarling feminist at the gate.
Now how does this recipe work? Giggle. I just stay at home, so I don't know."


Haus frau,
Haus frau,
Watcha say now?

Please don’t think me lazy,
Though to you my reality is hazy,
“Hiking, exploring, aren’t your days boring?”

Careful girl your words smack of crazy,
Because on any given Tuesday,
You won’t find me snoring.

Haus frau,
Haus frau,
Watcha say now?

The endless paper waltz,
Was the everyday assault,
In that old world of nine to five.

Pulse was there and doc says ‘alive’,
But sometimes you hate the damn waltz,
And only want to jive.

Haus frau,
Haus frau,
Watcha say now?

There aren’t caviar lunches,
With an air kissed ‘ciao.’

But the music is loud,
When you hike into the clouds.

“Are you getting supper on the table by six?”
Careful girl your words smack of
Ignorance.

Haus frau,
Haus frau,
Watcha say now?

Label your jars but not,
My life.

When your worth is your job,
Then you’ve been robbed.

Peace.



(**image via Google images)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Map Skillz

Last Tuesday was the big 2-9, and I woke up in despair over the fact that it was the last year in my twenties.

An entire decade has almost expired, and I was afraid it might be written all over my face.

As the sun streamed through the window, I whipped open the curtains, stepped into the natural light, and demanded to know the following:

"Do I look 29? Or do I look older than that?"

(Any boys who have stumbled this way, I'm going to give you a tip.  Consider it insider trading, but you won't go to jail. The above is a TRICK question. Girls are looking for the answer to be a number significantly less than what appears on our driver's licence.)

Dan looked at my matted and greasy hair, sunburned faced, sleep crusted eyes, and probably tried to recoil from the morning breath that was surely being spewed his way.

"Sweets, you look about 24."

Ah, what a sweet little liar.  But happy birthday to me!

TANGENT ALERT: After getting home from the week in the mountains I was complaining to my youngest sister (who happens to be 24) about turning 29.  She, in her youthful wisdom, was all, "It's just a number Caitie.  You're only a day older than yesterday, you can't worry about that."  Umm, thanks AIS! I'll be sure to remind you of this--IN FIVE YEARS--when you too are on the brink of being wheeled into your thirties.  Kids these days....

Back to the story though.  Dan and I decided that to kick 29 in the keester, we were totally going to conquer a mountain that day.  And by conquer, I mean we had plans to stick to the mid-mountain trails so that we could both live to see 30.

Starting the day off right.

Going up.

View from gondola station.

Adelboden is that cluster of buildings in the distance, and this shows the ground we covered the day before.

Top of yesterday's waterfall.

Stairway to heaven.

After marveling at the gondola views, we began our hike.

Getting away from the gondola station...

...and out of the valley.

As we trooped along, I noticed that we seemed to once again be heading straight up. As in...STRAIGHT UP.

And as we trudged onward, these two girlfriends passed us going in the opposite direction.

Pretty goats.

"These stupid hikers...."

(Side note: the brown one hip checked me. I stumbled.)

"...are so dense."

Hindsight is always 20/20.  Three hours later, I would recall these girls and how they were going in the OPPOSITE direction.

But at this point I was still relatively fresh, and was just pleased to have had a (literal) run-in with a goat.

Heading up...

...and up...

...and up...

...and up...

...and up...

...and up...

...and up...

...and up.

We hiked for three hours...straight up.  I stopped taking pictures because the higher we got, the narrower the path became, and the longer my fall to death would be should I topple over the edge.

Sometimes it takes getting your head in the clouds before you want to face reality, and so it was at the three hour mark that I stopped in exhaustion and cried, "Are we there yet?!"

This is when my fearless leader consulted the map.

Looking chagrined.

"Ah...oops..." he said.

"Oops? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!"

"We took the wrong trail.  Looks like we veered off from intermediate...to blue and white."

People, you need to understand that it is VERY difficult to take a wrong turn on a Swiss hiking trail. This makes the feat even more noteworthy. However, I will say in Dan's defence that these trails weren't littered with stones painted in their telltale red/white or blue/white.  But there were still route markers...

We collapsed to the ground, and pulled out our lunch.  Munching on our sandwiches while I consulted the map we considered our options: (1) hike another five hours to take the shortcut off the mountain; or (2) turn around.

We turned around.

This is why yesterday I said it was my goal to complete a blue/white trail.  I have technically started one, but I still need to finish it.

Took about an hour and half to get back into the valley, but then I got the best birthday present of all.

COWS!

I bet his mother hates it when he does this.

So charming.

And large.

But they have the best real estate...

...because they're worth it.

After I took approximately sixty photos of all the alpine bovines, we headed down the gondola and hiked home.

That night Dan took me to a really nice restaurant, and from their gourmet menu I chose Wienerschnitzel mit pomme frites.  Sometimes you just need to eat something greasy.

I did get a gourmet experience though, despite my fast-food choice. My first course was a really pretty cream soup that came decorated with a rainbow of flower petals, and my schnitzel came garnished with red berries and unnecessary vegetables (though okay, I did eat them).

It was a great day, even if it did start out on the wrong trail.