Back in our Tracks

It’s been a little quiet here on the blog, and I’ll tell you why. Coming back to Switzerland, to Boncourt, after the unreal sunny warm visit to Sardinia was hard. A very cold snap arrived at the same time we did, and we stepped off the plane to cold and foggy gray. Being near the sea had brought us associations with Puget Sound and home, and somehow, it seemed that we should board that plane and get off in Seattle. It was rather shocking when we didn’t.
The return to school for the kids last week was also hard, the mornings that much darker getting up, school and language still a puzzle. And now Zeus is away working long days, and we miss him. I spent a lot of time last week missing the simplicity of homeschooling and agonizing over whether or not this all was a good decision.
Fall is a time for hunkering in, building fires, reading good books, game nights, cooking savory meals – in short, for enjoying all the comforts of Home. But when you are far from one home, and don’t yet feel like the place you are living is home, then you feel a little lost and homesick. And that is what we are all feeling.
Towards the end of the week, the Lord prompted me to take myself by the scruff of the neck and do a little shaking: late October is like this, even when you’re homeschooling, don’t you remember? You need some exercise! Cease overthinking, stop pondering how you feel about everything, count your blessings, and do the next thing.
So I got a little exercise, worked on some house projects I’ve been procrastinating about, and tried not to Ponder Everything. God is my Home, and my loving family is around me. Yes, I am homesick, but wallowing around in it doesn’t help anything much. There was a song we sang at church on Sunday with good words in French that were something about being and growing and rejoicing wherever God has put you.
This week has been better – no school-induced tears, I think (although maybe I shouldn’t say – the day is not over yet), and there were some encouraging academic reports coming in: a German test with only 1/2 of the answers wrong instead of 3/4 wrong!  Progress!
So that’s about where we are.
And here are a few pictures to help tell the rest of the story.

Will Easy Jet pay me for the Advertising?

First of all, because it’s just not something you see everyday: the Alps from the airplane. The rest of Switzerland is buried under a sea of clouds.

Happiness is a warm crock-pot

Remember my trip to Basel and my fruitless search for a crock-pot? Well, even before I wrote that, for my birthday a few friends had gone together and got me an Amazon France “Cheques-cadeau” with which to purchase one. Here it is – Mmmm!!!!  
I’m not sure why, but the thought of spending this year without a slow cooker brought me great feelings of anxiety. There is great security arriving home from church, or a soccer game, or just an afternoon of errands knowing there there is hot food waiting and ready to go. The first Sunday I got it fired up with some chicken cacciatore, I immediately felt the desire to invite a bunch of people over for lunch – that’s what a crock pot does for me. I’ve used it at least once a week since. Thank you, friends!
At the moment this photo was taken, it was full of pulled pork, which is a favorite of everyone in the family – 6 out of 6 – amazing! Our small village store had no BBQ sauce, so I had to make some, morphing several recipes that I found online.  It turned out okay – sweet and sour and a little too tomato-y. If you have an easy and good bbq sauce recipe that doesn’t require a bunch of unusual ingredients, I would love to have it!

Memories of the Beach

The week we got back from vacation, we bought Hermes some new fall shoes. They came in a shoe box. And shoes boxes, as you know, are meant to be made into dioramas!  I love dioramas, and I love making them with my kiddos. When Artemis was in kindergarten, we made a lovely one of the solar system with all the planets hanging in space. I used to think of that homeschooling year as a failure, but now I know that if we were making dioramas of outer space, it can’t have been too bad.
This one is “Underwater Sardinia.” One of the stores here – the Migros – has started passing out a pack of fishy stickers for every 10 francs you spend. You are supposed to collect them in a special book, but I didn’t know that. I didn’t even realize they were stickers at first. I just thought, as they lay there next to the empty shoe box, Hey! This could keep Hermes busy for a little while!
And it did! He was very happy as he watercolored the sides of the box blue and the bottom yellow (for sand). The rock is a real Sardinian one which seemed to have fallen into my bag somehow.(!) And the shells are also real ones we brought back that Hermes painstakingly glued into place. Before it dried up a bit, the parsley looked very much like seaweed – that was Athena’s idea – she is so wise.
The fishy on the string has a different fishy on the other side, so you see both when it spins in the breeze.
And, yes, just so you know, I do know that the proper word is ‘fish’ and the plural form is ‘fish’ lest you think otherwise. But now that we’re all sure about that I’ll go back to ‘fishy’.

Jazzy Dog Car

Zeus has spent the month of October working hard at his new job, faithfully commuting back and forth while we played on the beach. Upon our return, in order to facilitate a commute to Basel that is an hour each way instead of two hours each way by train, we bought another car. It is not at all new but had really low mileage. Er…kilometerage? Apparently it really did belong to a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays. Or something like that.
It is a Honda Jazz. Which Zeus Mr. Carman tells me is called a Honda Fit in the States. A Honda Fit sounds like a granola bar to me, so I am glad it is called a Jazz. Only when he first told me, I thought it was called a Jazzy. Which made me think of my cousin Christy’s dog Jazzy.
Now Jazzy Dog, who has since passed on to a fluffy couch pillow in the sky, wasn’t exactly what you would call a “friendly” dog. She was a little Yorkshire terrier, and when I met her, she was already advanced in years and pretty set in her ways, perhaps much like the lady whose Honda this was. Anyway, Jazzy Dog didn’t like to be pet by anyone who was not part of her family, and if you tried she would bite you. But her hair was so soft and silky that it was hard not to try anyway. If you were very quiet, snuck up gently on her from behind, and petted her softly she would think you were Christy and you could get away with it for a little while. Until Christy came in the room and Jazzy saw her. Then she’d look startled and whirl around on you. Caught in the act!  Arf arf arf arf arf!!! 
A n y w a y….. the point is that when I thought the car was a “Jazzy”, I started calling it the Jazzy Dog. And it kind of stuck.  Zeus is not very pleased that the car is named after a crotchety little ol’ dog, but I can’t help it. When he is around, we try to use the other name we hurriedly drummed up instead: The Silver Bullet. Now that has a speedy ring to it, doesn’t it? But we all know that it’s really The Jazzy Dog Car.

The Vista ~ La Vue

And then there is a morning like this one, and when we’re cold and tired and fussy about the kids having to leave at dawn, and then we open the door and stop in our tracks because of The Beauty. This was the view from the front door, about 7:45 a.m. a few days ago. Not for the first time, I wish I were a painter.

End-of-July Photo Collage

Some photos to give you a taste of our days as we’ve mostly been moving furniture and bikes down here from the grandparents’ attic, organizing our stuff, figuring out new systems for shopping, cooking and laundry and finding the rhythm of our days.  IMG_9856 Athena-lou-lou in the Back Forty. IMG_9837 The homemade tresse bread brought by a neighbor to welcome us. IMG_9894 Red currant jam made from “our” red currant bush. They were ripe when we arrived, so I borrowed some jars from Tata.  IMG_9839 Apricots in a blue dish. They made me happy. So I took a picture. They make me want to take up painting. IMG_9845 Hanging blossoms which have inspired me to make a lampshade ~ I’m working on it. Meanwhile I keep swiping the blossoms off the bush down by the church. Whenever we pass Hermes calls out “Lampshade!” IMG_9848 Off to work The Land. IMG_9847 Impressive cobwebs we found in the loft of the garden shed. Very Miss Havisham. IMG_9851 Bella on the trail of a good smell. IMG_9863 Baroque church at the old monastery at Bellelay, last week’s day trip outing. Now it is used as an art gallery, but it had quite an interesting history, of which I will not tell you all just now. There was an impressive organ and I hope to return sometime for an organ concert.  IMG_9867 Bellelay Monastery (and this kitchen) is where Tete de Moine (Head of Monk) cheese was first made. Now you can sometimes buy it in Kirkland at Costco. IMG_9865 The cheese kitchen was remodeled in 1734. Bella picture Bella again, because she is so cute and schnuggly and because she barely ever looks right at the camera.

Springy Outing

At the end of last week, when spring had officially come, we were well enough from our bad colds to get out of the house, but really not well enough to go visit anyone, just in case. But we had to go somewhere – it was poor Artemis’ spring break, and we’d spent most of it house bound, coughing up our lungs. So…Friday afternoon was beautiful and sunny and we packed up ourselves and headed down to Pike Place Market. We got honey sticks and free samples and poked around in the stalls and the funky shops below. It was a perfect low-impact taste of spring and color and street musicians and sunshine and people. And we conjectured that if we got anyone sick it would be someone we don’t know. (!) (But I don’t really think we did. We coughed into our sleeves.)IMG_8595 Oh, those gorgeous stalls of unending flowers! How can you resist taking pictures? IMG_8596You can’t. So I didn’t. {Sigh}IMG_8594The chillins and a lady we don’t know. Did we get her sick? I hope not! IMG_8597 And of course, a visit to Rachel the Pig. After I took it, I was stunned to see that all the kids are looking and smiling at the camera! At least mostly smiling, smiling enough for me. We went home with a lovely bouquet of tulips, a little specialty gluten-free pasta and happy springy feelings.