Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hiller's roaring dinosaur gear. Thanks auntie Jo!

The Christmas that nearly wasn't

Since I’m leaving for the Congo in a month, people had a little bit of difficulty figuring out what they could give me this Christmas. My sister-in-law Nancy knew she could fall back on a CD or a DVD but she was hoping for something more inspired. One night it suddenly came to her—what about French translations of some of my favorite books, like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? It was sheer gifting genius! An hour later she still hadn’t happened upon such a translation on the Internet, but she suddenly discovered the “international” tab on Amazon and went to the France site. Surely the books would be there! This proved a bit tricky, however, seeing as how the site is all in French. But with a bit of guess work and a free-translation tool, she found the books!

With a just a week until Christmas she tried to pick a shipping option that would get the treasure from Europe to her house in time. My brother asked, “How much does it cost?” “I don’t know—it’s in euros!” was the reply. She didn’t care anyways; it was going to be the perfect present. The next day she checked online and the order had already shipped—it was going to arrive before Christmas!

A few days later, the package was there on the doorstep, plastered with foreign stickers and a little worn from its long journey. With glee Nancy rushed inside and tore open the box. There they were, all the books, just the ones she wanted…in English! Oh the devastation and disappointment! Not only that, but they were those Dover thrift additions that cost about 2 bucks. Not these ones—they were sent express from France! :o) It’s almost too painful to mention that the DVD she fell back on was already given to me by my sister. But I did get a great Celine Dion CD. Merci Nancy!

Our own chainsaw massacre of sorts.

He must have been good this year...maybe

After asking Santa for two whole years to bring him a toy chainsaw, my nephew Hiller’s joy was finally made complete this Christmas. Even the adults marveled at the tool, with its turning silver chain and smooth black finish. Savoring my Swedish pancakes and baked grapefruit, I mumbled “Uh-huh, sure,” to my nephew’s statement that he was going to go chainsaw the bows off the packages. Never underestimate the power of a toy chainsaw in the hands of a 4-year-old! But the massacre of the packages was actually quite funny and we enjoyed unwrapping our bow-less gifts anyway.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

And here it is! The Christmas Tree! And my new haircut I got today! And my nephew Hiller! And a monkey! If you look really close, you might notice I got my teeth cleaned this morning. Well, you probably can't, but just take my word for it. The dentist said "If everyone had teeth like her's I'd be out of a job." Yay for clean teeth!

It snowed yesterday! Didn't amount to anything, but it was still beautiful to watch the flakes floating down.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Here's me picking out a xmas tree. This one was ugly, but just wait until you see the one we actually got! It's all decorated but I don't have a photo yet. It's nice to be home for the holiday traditions.

Check it out! We bought a raclette grill! Now I can pretend like I'm in Switzerland. Except check out that yummy thick-sliced bacon--not how the Swiss do a raclette. But it was delicious. We can even buy real raclette cheese at Trader Joe's. Yay! Oh, and ours is non-stick so there's no cheesy mess afterwards.

For my foreign readers and friends overseas, here's some quality American Christmas lights.

I've been trying to take some pics of Oregon-ish things. Here's one of the many hazelnut orchards near where I went to university.

Funny Stuff

Here's a few funny things people have said lately:

While I was helping my sister with her dreads the other day my 4 year old nephew was bouncing around and he said, "Hey guys! How 'bout some back-combing?! B is for back-combing."

Last week my mom was questioning our Nicaraguan guest about what kind of milk he'd like her to buy. Skim? 1%? 2%? He asked, "Is there anywhere we can just get 100% of milk?"

The other night my mom was searching for something in her purse. Besides the usual assortment of receipts and wadded up kleenixes, she pulled out a persimmon and set it on the table. A persimmon! Her explanation? "I picked it up off the ground because I wanted to know what it tasted like." Mmmmm...

My mom keeps telling me that country music isn't depressing like some people say but is actually hysterically funny. So I tuned my car radio in the other night and sure enough a song came on called "She thinks my tractor's sexy." The lyrics include lines like "Well she ain't into cars or pick up trucks, but if it runs like a Deere man her eyes light up." Yeah, mine too.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Not So Patiently Waiting

So here’s an interesting incident for you. I was perusing the books at a local Christian bookstore and I happened to take a look at the section about singles and dating (by “happened to” I mean that I made a nose dive for it, of course, desperately seeking the magic key to unlock the man of my dreams). The first book I picked up had some suspicious title basically about 10 something-or-others for getting a boyfriend and keeping him. Disapproving, yet curious to know if I was missing out on anything, I opened it up…to a page giving advice about plastic surgery!! What in the world? To be in a Christian bookstore hoping for a little wisdom from above and to instead be advised that I might want to surgically alter my body if I want to see some action, well, I had some very unchristian words under my breath as I begrudgingly placed that piece of trash back on the shelf for the next unsuspecting victim to read.

The other books I looked at were a bit more conventional, but none had anything I needed. Either they were only going to tell me what I already know, or they were going to give me advice that goes against what I know I need to do. I don’t see that I have need of a book to tell me not to waste my life waiting for Mr. Right. Duh, got that one down. And many of the others are just full of ideas for how to manipulate people, as if girls need lessons. Then there’s the ones that tell me what I don’t want to hear, but what is true: the only magic formula is patience—patience for God to bring the right person into my life, patience for the right timing, patience to allow the man to be the one to pursue.

I find that we (as single girls, as humans in various circumstances in general) don’t do patience very well. We’d rather do anything than wait for God to deliver us or have to depend on someone else. We’ll maybe have patience in the face of discomfort for like a day, but then it’s time to take matters into our own hands.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, “No, we will flee on horses.” Therefore you will flee! You said, “We will ride off on swift horses.” Therefore your pursuers will be swift! Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!’” Isaiah 30:15-18

“But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3, 4

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

That is so American! OK, folks, get a load of the size of that burrito. I've gotta say it again--that is so American! Don't worry, Elia took half of it home with her.

That is so American! Here's me and my friend Angela (faithful blog reader and promoter!) at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Europeans generally haven't discovered the wonders of this cuisine. I would say 99.9% have never known the joys of sitting down to a free basket of hot greasy chips and spicy fresh salsa.

That is so American! This is a "cheesecake wheel." Only in America do you find this kind of variety. But the fact that we could choose which flavor we wanted wasn't even enough--we wanted a bite of each one!

That is so American! Check out the size of that ketchup bottle. It's a two-handed job! Impressive really. Even more impressive is the fact that we'll empty it and buy another one! Also very American is that I'm eating Thanksgiving leftovers. The leftovers are really part of the holiday.

That is so American! Free-refills? Yes! Huge cups full of ice? Sweet!

That is so American! Ah, at last, half-price appetizers at Applebees. Here's my friend Josh, middle schoolers' pastor, shoving his face with nachos.

That is so American

Over the past week I find myself frequently exclaiming "That is so American!" When you leave your own culture for a while and adapt to a different one, you're able to come home and see things through new eyes. What used to just be normal I can now identify as being American. Over the coming weeks I'll be sharing some thoughts and pics of these US quirks.

For starters, here's what I noticed at the grocery store:

1. Low fat dairy products. In Switzerland the low fat milk was 2.7%
2. A zillion brands of peanut butter with various options in each brand: creamy, chunky, unsalted, reduced fat, all-natural, all-natural no-stir, chocolate swirl, etc. In Switzerland there is one brand that comes in creamy or chunky and it says on the label "Made in the USA!"
3. Gargantuan bottles of ketchup and other miscellaneous flavors, brands, and sizes of ketchup. They have this to some extent in Switzerland too, but it is definitely considered American.
4. The Swiss chocolate is expensive and there's only a few choices. In Switzerland it's relatively cheap and you can choose from about 100 different flavors.
5. The cereal and chips take up an entire aisle.
6. People bag up your groceries for you in bags that the store provides and then they take it out to your car!! I felt like I was being pampered at a health spa or something after 8 months of bagging up my own groceries in my own bag and then hauling it half a mile back home.
7. The cheese comes in huge blocks and only takes up a little section. In Switzerland most cheeses are bought in small portions but there's about 4 dozen varieties filling up an entire wall.
8. There are bagels of many flavors! No bagels at all in Suisse.
9. Icecream comes in amazing varieties like mudpie brownie chunk and coffee mocha fudge. In Switzerland the choices are more basic, like vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate, and it comes in smaller containers that cost about 7 bucks.
10. Stuff is cheap. In Switzerland stuff is expensive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The fam! My 4 year old nephew is not pictured here because he was running out of the room screaming. Classic. From left to right: bro Casey, mom (holding Earl, my bro's new dog/pig), sis Cathie Jo, sis-in-law Nancy, dad, me, bro-in-law Darin.

I love holiday meals in our home. The napkin folding skills I learned in Switzerland added a nice touch.

Ah, traditional Thanksgiving dinner. A great way to kick-off my time in the States. For my non-American friends, clockwise from the top: Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, bread roll, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, salad.

I came home 3 weeks early and surprised the socks off my sister. She thought she was the one with the surprise--she has dreadlocks! And it was my mom who did them for her. My family is cool.

Blame it on the turkey's tryptophan

OK, OK, enough already. Sheesh, you think it's swell to develop a nice readership, but your fans turn on you in a heartbeat if you start slacking off. Here's the scoop: I moved home to Oregon from Switzerland! Ate a great Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, so I'm blaming my blogging sluggishness on the tryptophan, that great sleep-inducing chemical supposedly found in turkey.

I am going through reverse culture shock at the moment, so expect some great blogging on America in the days to come.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This weekend I went by train a couple of hours to the canton Valais with my friend Florence. Her dad is a pastor and the church had some special events celebrating their 100th year! It's a very mountainous region.

This picture was taken from the top of a tower by a castle. It was really cool!

The light over the valley at dusk was lovely

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Here's me and Nathan today at Hermine's, a lady who invites us over for a delicious meal every Friday. She's also the one who helped all of us missionaries find our housing in Neuchatel. We love her!

Every week Rob lays on Hermine's floor. This isn't exactly culturally appropriate but Hermine likes it because it reminds her of a previous missionary who did the same thing and would say "You cushion the culture shock for us." It's very true.

I've enjoyed going to the university's Christian group that meets on Thursday nights for a meal and a message. This is where I got the inspiration for my most recent post about time. After the message we enjoyed some singing with great instrumental accompaniment. The people in this picture from left to right are Swiss, Irish, Ecuadorian, Swiss, French, and American!

Here's me on Monday morning thinking about meeting with my organization's French study coordinator for an interview to varify that I've attained the necessary proficiency for my job in Congo.

Here's me and Nathan all happy after our interview with our supervisor Ric. He said we're at a good enough level to go work in Africa now! I can't believe I've completed my French studies!

Blog Sloth in a Time Warp

Sorry for my blogging slothfulness these days! I'll try to be more inspired. But really I'm starting to think that it's not my fault that so much time keeps passing between posts. Somebody seems to have pushed the fast forward button on my life and it's cut about 3 days out of my week. You may have been told all your life that there are 7 days in a week, but it’s a lie! I mean, is it just me or are there only 4 days in a week lately? I'm sure I'm not the only one to have noticed because everybody else keeps mentioning to me how quickly time is flying. It's really starting to freak me out. I think I've fallen into a time warp.

Exhibit A: Went to visit Gertrude, an elderly lady, today, and she asked me, "What day are we now? Tuesday, Wednesday?" "Thursday," I replied.

Exhibit B: I'm speaking at a small group from church next week. They asked me to speak two weeks ahead of time so I thought "No problem, I've got plenty of time." Somehow I now have only 5 days to prepare, but I swear it was just a few days ago that they asked me.

Exhibit C: So you know how I just went to Thailand? Yeah, that was two months ago now.

Exhibit D: A friend recently wrote "Can you believe it's almost the end of the year?" What?! Not only does time pass too fast, we have to speed it up even more by looking ahead. The other day I actually had to pause to think whether it was really still the year 2005 or if it was '06.

Exhibit E: When I flip open my agenda I end up in September. Is anyone else having this problem? Every single time I’m surprised at how much the year’s calendar is already filled up.

Exhibit F: Tonight the topic at the university Bible club was "The Notion of Time." I feel like I've got that notion coming at me from all directions! It's like time is this evil enemy who has taken over the controls of the universe and he laughs menacingly as he looks down on us scrambling around trying to keep up with his pace.

But I was reminded by the talk that was presented that it is up to me to manage how I live in time. We can be free from its frenzy! Rather than fighting against time, always trying to "save" or "gain" it, we can live in it seeing each moment as an opportunity given. The speaker said when we fight against time we're fighting against ourselves. And it's a losing battle. Do you know anyone who thinks that they've been a great success in "time management"? It seems to be the desire of the age to be a master of time. But in that very pursuit time has become our master!

"Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’ For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of morning—though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered…The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty if we have the strength…Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a hear of wisdom…” Psalm 90

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

What are we gaining when we rush around to pinch a minute here and there? Where’s the bank account to put all of our “saved time”? Our age puts on a pedestal the one who knows how to cram productivity into every breathing moment. But the wise person is the one who simply knows the right moment for each activity…and who is willing to let activity cease…and who isn’t afraid to be with himself in stillness…and who seeks God in everything.

In the morning sometimes I already feel defeated knowing that I won’t “accomplish” what I should that day. When I lay down at night sometimes I feel remorse for not having been “productive.” There’s this constant stressed feeling that doesn’t come from any real pressing matter. Today I had a full day. I woke up already tense about all that I had to do, but as I reached to open the bedroom door and begin my tasks I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I simply had to do each thing as it came and not worry about what was coming next. We can choose to rush around with our minds perturbed and our watches set 5 minutes ahead, or we can live each moment to the fullest as it comes. I’m going to stop praying that God will help me be more productive and start praying for discernment to simply know what to do with each moment that is given to me. The end result may not look that much different, but it will make all the difference on the inside.

I could go on and on about this topic of time. Our society really has a problem in this area. God definitely has another way of doing and seeing things. I’ll reflect some more and see what else I should share.

In the mean time you can do an exercise that we did tonight. What is the first animal that comes to mind to describe the way you approach your work? What does that image tell you about yourself?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wrongest ideas I've heard about language here in Switzerland

5. "German is a very difficult language": It's hard to learn any language, but truth is that for English speakers it's one of the easiest. Maybe it's harder for my francophone friends, but still, let's consider languages like Chinese or Russian before we start talking "very difficult."

4. "It will be easier for you to learn an African 'dialect' than French since they are much simpler": Yeah. OK. First of all, French is hard, but it's one of the very easiest languages for anglophones to learn since we share so much of the same vocabulary. Second of all, African speech varieties deserve every bit as much to be called "languages"; I detest the perjorative use of the word "dialect." Thirdly, African languages are quite different from European languages, which will make them difficult for me to learn. They often use tone (like Asian languages) which is not something I'm familiar with at all and they have sounds which which can be hard to pronounce.

3. "If you speak the language Berber you can pronounce correctly any sound in any language": I tried to explain to this misinformed Algerian man that this is not linguistically plausible, but he simply "proved" his point by making me repeat Berber words, telling me I did it incorrectly, and thus concluding that if only I spoke that language I would be able to pronounce anything. This has got to be ethnocentrality at its best.

2. "Americans don't know how to learn foreign languages or they're just too self-centered to care": As a linguist and a language-lover, I will be the first to declare that American monolingualism is a shame. However, I can defend it just the same. First point: all the Europeans I know have learned other European languages; I haven't met anyone fluent in Chinese or Arabic. I think it's highly probable that if every state in the US spoke a different language, as is the case among the European countries, that Americans would be about the business of learning to speak Californian, Texan, New Yorkian, etc. We simply don't have the same opportunities and the same needs for speaking other languages.

Second point: We lack some of the main motivations for learning language. Globally, financial gain is one of the main motivators. Swiss francophones learn German because in Switzerland you need it to get a job. Latin American indigenous people learn Spanish because that's the language of power. Around the world people are starting to study Chinese because of that country's newfound economic importance. In the US, however, most people don't need another language in order to make money. Even in international business English is the common language.

Which brings up another motivator we are lacking--the need to communicate. Americans simply don't find themselves in frustrating situations where they can't communicate because a) practically everyone in the US speaks English and b) around the globe enormous quantities of people now speak at least some English. When Americans do confront situations where they can't communicate in English I find that their desire to learn another language increases--for example, many people at church are passionate about learning Spanish because of mission trips they've gone on.

My third point of defense for American monolingualism is that it is a stereotype. Stereotypes are indeed based on morsels of truth but not the whole truth. The truth is that there are Americans who speak more than one language and there are many more who at least have the desire to. In sum: I feel monolingual Americans are more victims of the circumstances rather than self-centered bigots who refuse to reach out to others.

1. "There are more songs in English because it's an easier language to put music to": Linguistically, I actually don't know if this is true or not, since it does seem that certain kinds of languages fit better with certain kinds of music. But this seems like a strange way to describe the proliferation of English songs considering there's pretty much more of everything in English these days.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Though the changing of the leaves means they're dying, the brilliant yellow vineyards seem to exude life. I am joyful at the breathtaking sight of them.

Yesterday was a special harvest festival at church. It's a time to give thanks to God for His abundant provision. The church looked so pretty and I really enjoyed the "Good News Band" that pepped up the praise time with some jazz.

For the holiday everyone brings food to the church at places it at the front in a gesture of thanks to God and throughout the service it was a symbol of all that we are blessed with.

People brought everything from homemade honey and tasty quiches and grapejuice from their own vineyards, to Pepsi and loaves of bread and racks of pizza. We had an incredible feast after the service. So delicious!

As part of the special service I did a mime and dance put together by an English lady in the church. It was a powerful presentation of the story of the woman with the issue of blood, found in Mark 5.

This woman was "unclean," untouchable, unapprochable in the society of the day. She was sick for 12 years and no doctor could cure her.

But when Jesus came she pressed through the crowd and when she reached out and touched his robe she was instantly healed. Jesus asked, "Who touched me?!" This unclean woman had touched Jesus! But he told her "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

So we all danced with the woman with much joy. It was very fun!

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire." You can buy them on the street here. I am happy to be able to sing the song knowing what I'm singing about now! I would describe them as a "potatoey nut."

This is where I ate my roasted chestnuts. We've been enjoying some great weather, but it's not exactly the right atmosphere for the nuts. An old man came along and told me that they're much better when it's cold and you feel their warmth in your hands as you peel off the hot shells.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I'm counting down the days until I come home!

Here's a cool thing about Switzerland--everywhere you go you can find these fountains. Great for getting a drink, washing your hands, cooling off your dog, whatever.

Just a picture of my cutie Chinese friend in a vineyard.

I'm in love!

Uh...with Jesus, that is. Sheesh, people, is zest of life so uncommon these days that when you encounter someone with enthousiasm you think, "Ah, they must be in love." I've started getting such accusations, so I'll just clarify: Nope, not in love. I pretty much say everything like it is, so you can just read my blog without reading INTO it. And you've never known me to be secretive, so you can count on me for a big headline when I do fall in love :o)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jessica's Lasagna Recipe (careful, it's half-baked!)

OK, so here's the absolute proof that anyone can publish anything on the Internet. I'm laughing as I write out this recipe, as though I actually know something about cooking! But I just ate it and it was good and if I can do it then I figure maybe there's others out there who would want to. I made a lasagna last week using a tomato sauce, so this week I decided to tweak the recipe to make a spinach pesto version. Ready for yumminess? Here you go...

Fresh lasagna sheets
1 bunch of fresh basil
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese (grated)
Asiago cheese (grated)
Ricotta (250g)
Frozen creamed spinach (600g)
3 eggs
1 onion, diced
5 large garlic cloves
Berchamel: butter, flour, milk
1 large or 2 small aluminum pans

Those ingredients are totally flexible. Replace fresh pasta with the boilable variety, use some other kind of smelly cheese, add or take away a clove of garlic, whatever. Remember: I MADE THIS UP. So, don't take it too seriously, it's not like baking a cake where you mess one thing up and the whole thing gets trashed. Also, the following directions are simply in the order I did them, but there's nothing magic about it.

Start by thawing the creamed spinach by putting it in a pan over medium heat and covering. When it's thawed, add the onion and garlic (with a garlic press) and let the flavors simmer together until the other ingredients are ready. Just before adding this mix to the lasagna add 2 eggs.

Today one of my dreams came true: I made pesto using a mortar and pestle. so romantic. I cut up the basil (about 15 leaves maybe) into pieces and then ground it up with the mortar and pestle. Then I added a bunch of olive oil and parmesan cheese. It was about half a cereal-bowl-full. Ideally, you should add some pinenuts, but I'm not rich and famous. Set aside.

Empty the ricotta into a small bowl and stir in one egg. Set aside.

Make the berchamel and set aside (mix butter, flour and milk together in about equal parts to fill about 2/3 a cereal-bowl). I don't really know what this does, I just thought it would be more professional if I used the word "berchamel."

Here's the great part of making lasagna--the layering process. Cooking is fun! Put some olive oil on the bottom of the pans. Add a layer of pasta. Add 2/3 of the spinach mix (1/3 in each pan if you have 2 small ones like I did). Add another layer of pasta. Add the ricotta mixture and top with the pesto. Add another layer of pasta. Spread on top the rest of the spinach, pour the berchamel over it, and top with lots of yummy cheese (I used something like asiago).

Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes at maybe 400 degrees. Or you can save it in the fridge for a couple of days to bake later. Voila!

One of the great parts of this recipe is that you can make each component and set it aside until everything is ready to be layered. No stress!

My favorite part is the layering! The one on the left is how it looked when it was ready to go in the oven.

Another great thing about lasagna is the cooking time--I had time to clean everything up and make the side dish while it was in the oven. Again, really low stress.

I was super happy when it came out of the oven to discover that it had puffed up really nicely. The eggs and spinach make it sort of quiche-esque.

I suggest accompanying the lasagna with a grilled tomato. The colors and flavors went great together!

Don't forget to enjoy yourself. I love listening to music while I cook. Tonight I enjoyed 3 of my favorite groups: Late Tuesday, Pedro the Lion, and Five O'Clock People. And then I realized all 3 are from the NW! Yay for Porland and Seattle musicians.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Too many dance moves

Here's a little something I wrote a couple of weeks ago...

I sit with a blank page in front of me, not planning ahead of time what will fill up the white space, but knowing that my heart is full, my life is interesting, my brain is functional, so perhaps something will come to me.

Why do we go through life longing for an invisible carrot that dangles in front of our noses, when if we’d stop to smell the roses we’d see we have all we want right around us. No need to chase after something that may or may not exist. Am I going to meet more interesting people than those who are already around me? Am I going to find a more appropriate time to live life to the fullest than now? I’m much too interesting to have to wait for the ideal circumstances to create romance and adventure around me. Only people who don’t know that secret wait. The rest of us seize the moment.

There are far too many cute outfits to be worn, inspiring songs to be listened to, intriguing people to be talked to, artistic photos to be taken, languages to be mastered, cookies to be baked, icecream flavors to be tasted, countries to be visited, dance moves to be learned, quotes to be quoted, stickers to be collected, waves to be surfed, mountains to be climbed, sweaters to be knit, walls to be sponge painted, Christmas Trees to be decorated, magazines to be clipped, hair styles to be tried out, parties to be hosted, and Scriptures to be memorized to have any boring days or hours or minutes.

Wow, that list looks pretty good. Makes me want to try an unusual ice cream flavor and learn a groovy dance! Perhaps it’s the influence of Bj√∂rk’s “Violently Happy” blasting through my headphones. “Violently happy because I love you. Violently happy but you’re not here. Violently happy, come calm me down before I get into trouble. I tiptoe down to the shore. Stand by the ocean. Make it roar at me and I roar back."

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Cliff Hanger

"My life is definitely way cooler than I am." That's what I said as I made my way along the edge of the cliff, trusting that the cable I was connected to would keep me from plunging into the valley below should I lose my balance. Today was my first time at a "via ferrata," (which means something like "iron way" in Italian). It's a type of climbing where you make your way along the edge of a cliff that's been marked out for such a purpose. A cable runs all the way along, and at the difficult parts there are bars to hold on to or step on. Very, very fun...for me at least. You can check out the photos and see if you would have attempted the climb! I had the extra motivation of wanting to live out to the fullest my last weeks in Switzerland. Perhaps my family will look at these photos and just hope I live it out at all!

I made the climb with about 15 others from my church in Neuchatel. I felt oh-so-professional in our climbing gear. Professional geek that is. The hotair balloon was like a cherry on top of the delicious scenery.

I was totally elated from the get-go. It was so fun. And check out how pretty those trees are!

Nathan on the other hand kept chanting "I'm not here right now. I'm somewhere else." He used his incessant humor to distract from his fear, so he had me laughing all the way. Except when he said the get-up we were wearing made my butt look big and when he'd jiggle the cable I was holding onto. Nice. But look at him go! Victory over vertigo.

Here's the cable and the whatcha-ma-call-its I was attached with. And that's my shadow waving to you.

I tried not to spend too much time focused on moving along the cable because there was this breathtaking view to take in.

So cool. We're like little spiders climbing along the wall.