Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back home

We made it back home, one day late. Nice sunny day, both yesterday and today. Crisp air. Reds, yellows and greens all over the place. We left Zurich in summer, came to Fairbanks a day later to find fall. But we knew that. It is good to be home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


We stopped by our little shop to pick up two peaches. It has been a while, between our comings and goings, and their month-long vacation. But, as always, Sonja was offered a biscuit as I was paying. I said she probably doesn't want one, as she cannot say "merci" ("thank you" as used in switzerland). Sonja took a biscuit nevertheless, and said, loud and clear, "Merci". It was good to hear her say it on our final day here, for the entire year she either didn't say it or mumbled it into her breath. Good ending.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Our girl is one!

Our girl turned one while we were in Ireland.

She walks like a champ, can go over doorsteps without too many problems. She has five teeth, three on top, two on the bottom. She likes me a lot, but if I am out of the room, she is happy with Martin too. And even if I am in the room, and we tell Emilie to go give papa a kiss, she will, generally, go to him, and give him a kiss. She does not say very many things yet: aaahhh when I say it at the table to get her to open her mouth, so that I can put a spoon into it. something that sounds like mama, though not necessarily referring to me. something that sounds like baba, though not referring necessarily to Martin.

She loves water. Then again, what kid doesn't? She laughs easily, a very cute laugh. She gets upset easily, in particular, if she found a big piece of clothing that she has grabbed and is dragging around the house, and steps onto it, and now it won't move... well, hopefully she will figure it out one of these days, and stop screaming her head off when that happens.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The joy of flushing

We got back home to Zurich this afternoon. In a week, we'll be home in Fairbanks.

Even our home in Zurich feels like a home. A place to relax. A place not to worry about things. Like flushing - you just flush, and leave. No worries whether it flushed or not. It just did. No worries. It seemed like no toilet in Ireland would flush on the first try. Some were better than others, but still, none had the flush we are used to from the US or from here. Funny how little things make an impression.

(Another impression: two faucets at each sink, one for cold water, and a separate one for hot water. Standard there. Not standard anywhere else I have lived.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

time to stop... (an experience at an irish pub)

Last night we spent in Westford, together with Jason and Tolly, who had already joined us the previous night when we camped at Ballina. Westport is a happening city. We went to listen to 'traditional' music (that would be irish traditional), in a pub one block from the hostel where the kids slept while Eslbeth watched them. After an hour of music, and a pint of (alcoholic) cider, it was time for me to head back, since Elsbeth sent an SMS with the text message 'e' - we interpretted that as Emilie is screaming, but could have been also Elsbeth with Elias and Emily are up. So I switched with Elsbeth, and stayed with the kids afterwards, while the rest of the gang enjoyed the trad music some more.

Apparently things got more exciting, as members of the audience joined in the fiddling and singning, and some started dancing. I asked Martin if some people had left, since the place had been jam-packed when I had to leave, but no, apparently they just danced in a really small space. A lot of fun was had by all.

Around 2am, according to Martin, a policeman came into the bar, saying that it was time to stop, since everyone had to go to church at 8am, afterall. (Martin and Jason can correct me on this). The musicians replied whether he wanted to join them instead? :No, I would like to write you up:, was the reply. But he did relent a bit. And so there was one more song and that was it.

Sounds like they had fun there at the pub.

Tonight, we are spending a night at the Monastery hostel in Letterfrack. Unique place for sure. Weather stopped cooperating around lunchtime today.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A day at the beach

Yesterday was apparently the first nice day of weather in ten days. We made our way towards Dunfanaghy, then put up our tents at the Corcreggan Mill Hostel. Beautiful site. Then we headed to town for a late lunch, and the beach. The men (Martin and Martin) and Sonja and Lena had a ton of fun at the beaach, building castles, playing in the sand. The rest of us too, but definitely those four had a blast. On to today,s program....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ireland and a night in Omagh hostel

We spend yesteday
- walking to the tram station
- riding the tram to the train station
- riding the train to the airport
- flying the plane to ireland
- taking the bus from airport to car rental
- driving in the car from Dublin to Omagh

And now we have just spend a night in the Omagh Hostel. It was a welcome relief to have finally arrived here yesterday, everything was just taking a bit longer than it needed to. The train to the airport defied the swiss punctuality and finally rolled out of Zurich main station six minutes after its scheduled departure. The plane was half an hour late leaving the Zurich airport. Our bags didn't get lost, but we had to wait because of mechanical failure and only got them an hour after we landed. And our car was not quite ready for us when we checked in (even though we were late, with the plane and the bags being late), though that took only five to ten minutes.

Ireland did not disappoint us. Frequent showers :) (of the rainy kind), observed from within the dry car. Stone walls surrounding green pastures. Sheep, cows. People speaking english in a peculiar way (the clerk at the booze store I had a real problem understanding). Friendly people. Green all around. Old towns.

The Omagh Hostel was a good choice for us. We are travelling with Elsbeth, Tinu, and their two kids same age as ours. The eight of us got one of the six-bed dormitories here in the hostel. We pushed three beds side-by-side, same with the other three beds, and each family took one of these. The kitchen allowed us to make a nice quick pasta dinner last night when the kids were tired, instead of having to find some restaurant. The hostel is a bit out of town, but they do pick up and drop people off at the bus station if needed. They are the first in northern ireland to receive the European Ecolabel, known as the EU flower (due to the symbol shape). They have a garden behind the house that we will go explore with the kids, now that it's not raining, and check out the geese and ducks there, as well as the cows and bunnies on the neighbor's pasture.

And then it's off to the northwest from here.

(Picture of the hostel from the hostel's website, since we don't really have a camera here, except for the video camera that takes shoddy stills, and that we have no way of uploading anyways.)
The hostel, from the hostel's website:

Monday, August 11, 2008

In print

Martin took a journalist on a glacier above his parents' village a week ago, now the article is out. In the french-language Le Temps, it is an article whose summary is below. That journal apparently wanted to check out what is happening to some glaciers less well known than the typical (swiss) Gornergletscher and Aletschgletscher.

Marcher sur un glacier grondant
LT - 11.08.2008
Histoire(s) de glaciers méconnus (1/6). Le glacier de Ried peut être traversé sans équipement particulier. Sentir, ouïr et voir vivre cette mer de glace qui s'amenuise est rare et fascinant. Découverte avec un glaciologue local.

Cool thing: the (english) book quoted in the article is all online, in google books. Pretty cool.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Street Parade

After the kids went to bed, with Martin watching them, I went to check out this years Street Parade.

According to this wikipedia entry,
The Street Parade is [one of] the most attended technoparade[s] in Europe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Prč? (Why?)

We are in the "Why?" stage.

Except that instead of saying Proč (the č is the 'ch' sound written the czech way), Sonja says 'Prč?'. An answer by me is followed by another 'Prč?' from her. And on it continues.

Example of yesterday, when we had the swiss-style mac-n-cheese (eaten topped with fried onions and a side of apple sauce):

me - (in czech) here is the apple sauce
Sonja - Prč? (why?)
me - because that's the traditional way the alpenmacaroni is eaten here
Sonja - Prč?
me - I don't know, you can ask your dad when he gets back.
Sonja - Prč?
me - Because he is Swiss.
Sonja - Prč?
me - Proč se ptáš? (Why are you asking?)
Sonja - because I don't know what "swiss" means.
me (realizing she did pay attention and did not just ask "why" just because) - ... tried to explain what a swiss is...

I guess she had (and continues to have) a reason to continue to ask "why" - the world is a big place. We will see how much patience I have with this stage. Why, why, why? Why? But...!

(We are also at the But! stage, though not to the extent of the why?. The But! only appears when we ask her to do something. The Why? appears anytime, everytime.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

18, 31, 141

The weights of the women in this house:
in pounds
18, 31, 141

in kg
8, 14, 64

in stones and pounds (gotta love the weight systems!):
1 stone 4 pounds; 2 stones 3 pounds; 10 stones 1 pound

Measurements thanks to the scale Hilary and Ryan and Sophie lent to us so that we could weight our bags and not be over the limit when we fly back, all of our possessions crammed into seven bags.

(Emilie only gets one bag since she is an infant without her own seat. A huge thanks to Ryan for already taking two bags - 40 kg - over to Fairbanks.)

I don't know whether the man in this house would want to have his weight officially posted :), and besides he is not here right now to jump on the scale three times. The girls cooperated happily.