Friday, April 20, 2018

Blooming Bonanza

Spring has sprung in die Schweiz!

All of the following flower images were taken in the last week on my daily Smidgey walking route:
In a planter next to a public building.
In the center divide of a street.
Spontaneously coming through the lawn next to the street.
In the grass at the running track/field.

Along a little creek path that Smidgey loves.
Around the corner from our apartment.
Under a train bridge.
And Mo's favorite (for reals) the dandelion which are everywhere right now.
Besides all the spontaneous and cultivated outdoor spring flowers in Zug, there is also a never ending supply of indoor flowers for sale year-round.

From the florist shops on nearly every corner:
There are 2 florist shops just in the Zug Bahnhof!

 the flowers sold in every grocery store:

...the Swiss have plenty of opportunities to buy flowers.

And let me tell you, the Swiss LOVE flowers. Which works out, because I love flowers, too! And my favorite place to get fresh flowers is from the farmer's field - with permission, of course.
A flower field along the bike path.

Many farmers set aside a portion of their fields for a self-serve florist.
Everything is set up for you to help yourself.

And they supply everything you need to take home beautiful flowers for a fraction of the cost of a florist and/or grocery store:
The price list.

A box for the leaf cuttings you don't want.
And of course, a slot for the money.

Here is our bouquet (engineered by Joe to stand up in the vase):

Here is a poem about the swagger with which spring has shown itself here in Zug:
Rooted firmly in April,
spring explodes
with a cacophony of color
the green canvas of nature
with vibrancy and vitality.
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What's Brown and Sticky?


Now that you've let your mind go to that old riddle*, bring it back to Switzerland.

And Swiss fields.

And Swiss sheds.


THIS is what is brown and sticky in Swiss fields:
A stick stack (or a super huge broom).

Sometimes there are multiple...stick, piles?

And in Swiss sheds:

The brooms here are actually made from hand-tied sticks and are used extensively - outside and in.

Some things in Switzerland are just so retro. Like these stick stacks and these brooms.

A close up of the hand-tied sticks:
This one is outside our apartment building to be used by the groundskeepers.

No poem today, just an old riddle that reminds me of Switzerland - both for the smell and the sound of bells (that was told to me a long time ago by one of my former students):

Q: What's brown and sounds like a bell?

A: ¡ƃunp (read upside down)
*For those of you who don't know the answer to the riddle in the title, email me, and I will tell you the answer.

You know what to do...remember Click Through! 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Prickly Problem

...well not a problem so much as a public awareness campaign. All over our neighborhood, and apparently all over Switzerland, there are posters/signs warning motorists not to run over HEDGEHOGS! (Igel in Deutsch)  Squee, they are SO cute.
Translation: Caution Hedgehogs!

Yes, there are THAT many hedgehogs around our neighborhood that they warrant signs every 2km. And apparently spring is a dangerous time when they can get run over - especially the babies. No!

Here are the other two signs that are posted in our immediate neighborhood:
Translation: Watch out for us!

Translation: Hedgehog zone.

On the signs there is an URL for an informational website: about these prickly fellas. From this site I learned that our neighborhood, which is considered a small-scale grassland with shrubs, hedges, and trees, is actually a hedgehogs habitat, NOT the forest. Who knew?

So far I have not seen a hedgehog alive or as roadkill (thank goodness!) But Smidgey has, and by default Joe, too. During her early morning walk, Smidgey made a mad dash into a hedge and started bark-screaming wildly (like she does). Joe pulled her back and caught a glimpse of a prickly pal staring at Smidgey with a bewildered look on his face. (Not sure how a hedgehog expresses bewilderment, but coming face to face with Smidge would evoke bewilderment from any creature.) After a second or two the little fella scampered away leaving Smidge in a "I almost got it" agitated state and Joe dragging her back home (and to the reality that indeed, no she didn't). Joe has vowed to take his phone with him on these early morning walks in the hopes of getting a picture of a hedgehog. I've been scouring the neighborhood during the day, too. If we get a pic, I'll add it to another post. Fingers crossed.

Now for a prickly poem:
pointy nose
prickled spikes
wee neighbor
Smidgey likes 
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Thank you for CLICKING THROUGH from your email to my blog! I appreciate it! 😁

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

50 SHAVES of Gray

...or at least7!

We just got back from a three-state whirlwind trip to the US and Joe was in full vacation mode:
As is evident by his post-vacation scruffy face.

In order to acclimate back into his day-to-day work life, Joe had to shave...and shave and shave.
First he cleaned up around the edges of his 'beard':

To achieve this level of cuteness:

Next he shaved his cheeks to create a wide goatee:

Then a thinner goatee:

Then he had to break out the bigger shaver:

To get his chin whiskers even skinnier:

Until he was at the 'stach and soul patch stage:

Then it was solo soul patch:

Then he shaved off the last of his graying soul, scraping years off his face.
This was our sink in the aftermath:

Then one more shave with yet another razor:

And he ended up looking like this:

Clean shaven and ready for work. (But not in his puppy shirt.)

The scruff took 10+ days to grow, then 7 SHAVES to remove.

Many thanks to my VERY patient husband for allowing me to take his picture over and over again for this post.

Before I get to my 'hairy' poem, I have a request for you dear reader:
***If you receive Wee Words in your inbox, please CLICK THROUGH to my website in the email to read my post. In doing so your readership will be counted in my Google Analytics. You don't have to comment (though I'd love it if you did) and no other evidence of you being there will be noted. If you do this every time it will help me tremendously. Thank you!***

Now on to my poem, a stubbled Cinquain*
embrace Joe's chin.
A gray shadow hints at
the many vacations gone by.
Years shaved. 
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

*A cinquain is a 5-lined nonrhyming poem whereby 
the lines have the following syllable count: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. 
The cinquain poetry form was created by Adelaide Crapsey.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

No Place Like Gnome

Gnomes in Switzerland are extremely popular. The average Swiss person likes to display gnomes in their gardens and all around their property. We have seen at least one gnome display in pretty much every neighborhood we've visited - and we've visited a lot as we look for our permanent housing.
Some are spread throughout the yard:

Some are concentrated in one area of the yard:
Yes, there are mini palm trees in Switzerland...with gnomes, of course.

Some stand (sit) alone:
Big gnome by a big home.

And some are a whole gnome village:
Hardcore intricate mini gnome scene.

There is even a shout out to Snow White and her crew around the corner from our house:

Are the 7 dwarfs the same as gnomes?

Generally most gnomes in Swiss gardens are sweet little fellas:

Until you look closely and see a different side to their personality:
This gnome is giving a middle finger salute!

An interesting side note: Gnomes have had a negative connotation when they have been associated with the perception of Swiss banking practices of the past. According to Wikipedia: "Gnomes of Zürich is a slang term for Swiss bankers. Swiss bankers are popularly associated with extremely secretive policies, while gnomes in fairy tales live underground, in secret, counting their riches. Zürich is the commercial centre of Switzerland." 

Today's poem is micro, just like gnomes:
to gnome me
is to love me
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

PS - Wee Words will be on holiday until Tuesday 10 April. Prost!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Love Triangle

What do you get when you combine two iconic aspects of Switzerland: mountains and chocolate? Toblerone!

"Toblerone is a success story unique to Switzerland. In 1867, Jean Tobler opened a confectionary in Bern. Over the years, demand for his homemade chocolates grew to such an extent that he opened a chocolate factory in 1899. In 1908, the Tobler family created the honey and almond bar that was destined to become an enduring symbol of Switzerland throughout the world. A year later, Toblerone became the first patented milk chocolate. It was acquired by Kraft Foods - now Mondelēz International - in 1990."

The name Toblerone is the combination of the chocolatier's family name, "Tobler", with the Italian word for nougat, "torrone". And the unique triangular shape is the stuff of legends.

Some think it is a nod to the one of the most recognizable mountains in Switzerland, the Matterhorn.

On the official Toblerone website the theory that the triangular shape had far sexier origins is floated, "a red and cream-frilled line of dancers at the Folies Bergères in Paris, forming a shapely pyramid at the end of a show."

In fact, the shape of this chocolate is said to be the inspiration for anti tank defenses, or toblerones, built by the Swiss to slow any possible invasion by the Nazis during the Second World War.

While the triangular shape has remained the same, the logo of Toblerone has changed over time. The first logo featured an eagle. Then in the 1920's, they switched to a Bernese bear as Bern was known as "City of Bears". In the 1930's the eagle reappeared until 2000 when they changed the logo to reflect the Matterhorn mountain, but with a nod to their home city.

Do you see a shape on the left side of the mountain? Yep, the Bernese bear is in profile 'hiding' on the mountain.

An interesting, and funny, side note: In 2016 Mondelēz International introduced a lighter, cheaper version of Toblerone in the UK, but it did not go over well. In fact, some blamed the cost-cutting measure on Brexit as is illustrated by this social media meme:

The bottom picture is actually what they did to cut production costs.

And being good expats who are eager to assimilate into the local culture as much as possible, we've taken to doing what the Swiss do and eat chocolate! According to this Forbes graph we are fitting in with Swiss societal norms:
Today's concrete or shape poem pays homage to Toblerone and our Swiss brethren:

triangle filled
with bits of honey
and almond melts on my
tongue. I am thankful for my
Swiss kindred spirits - a society
that loves chocolate as much as I do.
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.