Friday, February 16, 2018

Egg-ceptionally Colorful

Now that we are officially into the season of Lent, Easter is just around the corner. And one of the many symbols of Easter is the egg. Specifically the colored egg. But if you lived in Switzerland you wouldn't have to wait until Easter to have colored eggs. They sell them in the grocery store. Every. Day. Of. The.Year.
We noticed these in August.

The colored eggs are called "Schwiezer Pic-Nic Eier" or Swiss Picnic Eggs.

Guess why they are colored? Because they are hard boiled! Nothing worse than cracking an egg to make an omelette only to find it hard boiled instead of raw. But both the raw eggs and the "Pic-Nic" eggs are sold on the regular grocery aisle shelves, not in the refrigerated section. We're not sure if it's necessary, but we do refrigerate our eggs when we get them home.

Nice to know that come Easter (or any day of the year) we can have lovely hard boiled eggs without the house smelling like vinegar and Paas color tabs staining our table. The Swiss are so thoughtful.

Today's poem is not exactly colorful, but hopefully you will enjoy the yolk:

 eggs over difficult

©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Joe Fun Fact #4286

Joe and I have been together a looooooong time. (1985!) 
I know most things about the man - and maybe a few things I don't want to. πŸ˜‰ 
But recently I learned something new. Fun Fact #4286:
Joe has OPD (Obsessive Puzzle Disorder)
It all started when we visited our local Brockenhaus (thrift store). There was a huge selection of puzzles at a reasonable price. Innocently enough, I suggested we buy a puzzle to do together AS A FAMILY.

I had no idea what I was in for...and I think neither did Joe. For the next month or so Joe went into full Obsessive Puzzling Mode, which ultimately included elbowing Mo and I out gently taking over the completion of the puzzle. In the end, he did a very good job...but at what expense?

Then Christmas came and Colleeny got her dad, you guessed it, another puzzle! Even though it was his present, Joe invited Mo and I to help. Mo has learned that she is not a puzzler, but I gave it a go. I worked on the edges, but then Joe's OPD kicked into high gear and I was elbowed out again and he decided to finish it on his own. He was in control and on a roll:
After a couple of days.

At the one week mark.

And finished in just 2 weeks!

OPD under control because he is done.
He has decided he needs a break from puzzles for the time being, but we'll see how he feels when he opens his birthday present. (wink-wink)

Which brings us to Joe Fun Fact #4287: Today is Joe's 52nd Birthday! It's not puzzling to see that he gets better with age:

Birthdays are good for you...the more you have the longer you live.
~Random Internet Quote

()  ()  ()  ()
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jigsaw puzzling
coffee guzzling
excellent dad
farts smell bad

We LOVE Joe!
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.  

Friday, February 9, 2018

Fasnacht: Dirty Thursday

If you had been standing on the street in Zug yesterday you might have thought it was Halloween:

or DΓ­a de los Muertos:

Nope, it was just a freezing day in February when the Swiss go nuts. Fasnacht is Carnival in the German-speaking areas of Switzerland. And Dirty Thursday (Schmutziger Donnerstag) the Thursday before Lent, is the Carnival kick-off. Most cities have parades, and Zug was no exception.
Could she BEE any cuter?
Dressed up and drinking. (Drinking age is 16)

And everyone in between lined the streets in costumes to watch the parade.

There were a lot of bands:
Blowing horns...
...playing drums...

...and don't forget the (fur trimmed) tubas!

Listen to these guys:

But the littlest among us used ear protection:
Whether they were in the parade...
...or watching (not the parade.)
There was "royalty", too. This is the 'Prince' of this year's Fasnacht:
He is a local farmer.

with his 'Princesses':
I think they were his wife...
...and daughter.

Plus some fancy guys with furry hats handing out flowers:
I scored three blooms just standing on the sidewalk!

There were a few floats:
Birthday cake...
...followed by little cupcakes.

An Indigenous People float... 
...with a native American band? See the guy with the full headdress?
My favorite was the 'school' of jellyfish:
Luckily they didn't look like they would sting.
I think the favorite part for the kids watching on the street was the massive amount of confetti they got to throw and have thrown at them. I've never seen the streets of Zug so littered!
Throwing it at an adult (clown) is fun!
Scraping it off the street to throw again.

At one point I got caught taking a picture of a Viking...
And was forced to take a selfie with a stranger.

Joe was at work and Mo was at school (the local schools are on holiday, but the International school is in session until next week) so I went to the parade alone. Nothing like being surrounded by several hundred people to make you feel lonely. But alas, I had protection:
This little guy stood by my side.

Here's my poem about venturing out alone:
Snippets of conversations
in words I can not 
yet understand
mingle with the confetti
to swirl around me
but never land
on me.

I stand solo 
among the

©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Yes, Whey!

It is quite obvious that the Swiss are known for their cheese.  Emmental is the name for the cheese we Americans identify as "Swiss cheese" (semi-hard cheese, filled with holes).

But the Swiss are also known for Raclette (used in fondue), Appenzeller (hard cheese produced in Alps in northern Switzerland), plus hundreds of other varieties.

With cheese production comes byproducts. According to Wikipedia: "To produce cheese, rennet or an edible acid is added to heated milk. This makes the milk coagulate or curdle, separating the milk solids (curds) from the liquid whey." But what to do with the whey? Well, if you are thinking 'whey' outside the box like the Swiss do, you make a fizzy soft drink out of it!

(And based on what I know about their recycling ethics, I knew there was no 'whey' the Swiss would let anything go to waste!)

In 1952 Robert Barth invented the soft drink Rivella using 35% milk whey. It comes in seven varieties, but the main ones are: Rivella Red (original) and Rivella Blue (light).

The other varieties are Green (with Green Tea extract), Rhubarb, Tropical Mango, Yellow, and Peach though not all are widely available. Besides the Red and Blue varieties, we were only able to track down Green, Rhubarb, and Tropical Mango at our neighborhood grocery store.
Tropical Mango.

Now you may be wondering, how do they taste? 
Well, here is the results of our first ever Rivella Taste Test (we didn't let the fact that we rarely drink soda get in the 'whey' of our opinions)

Original Red:
Mo thought it tasted like liquid Smarties (candy).
Joe thought it tasted refreshing.
I thought it tasted the best of all of them.

Original Blue:
Mo thought it didn't taste very strong.
Joe thought it had a mild flavor.
I thought it was slightly less sweet than the red, but with an aftertaste.

Mo thought it had a Sprite-ish taste that was sharper and more citrus-y.
Joe thought it was more foamy with a lemon-limey taste.
I thought it was more fizzy and smelled like Fresca. (Happy smell memory of my Dad who was a big Fresca fan.)

Mo thought it tasted like strawberries, but mostly sweet.
Joe thought it tasted like apples.
I thought it was way too sweet with a spiced apple-y taste. Yuck.

Tropical Mango:
Mo thought the taste grew on her as she drank more of it.
Joe thought it tasted like pee. (ew)
I thought there was a hint of mango, but it was mostly just too sweet.

But don't take our word for it. Next time you are out this 'whey' try some Rivella!

I can't seem to get out of my own 'whey' with this is evident in the following Nursery Poem redux*.

Little Sir Barth
Sat on his hearth
Wondering what to do with his whey.

He took a sip of Coke,
Said, "This is a joke!
There must me a better 'whey'." 
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved

*My apologies to Miss Muffet, her tuffet, and the spider. 😜

Friday, February 2, 2018


Last Sunday morning started like every other day...walking Smidgey.🐢  Joe, Smidge, and I ventured out into the cool air and quiet neighborhoods of Zug. (Maureen slept inπŸ˜ŒπŸ’€ )

Our stroll was much the same as it always is - constant surveillance for other dogs either walking on or off-leash, constant vigilance to keep Smidgey from eating 'sidewalk snacks' that always make her sick, and constant hope that this Smidgey-poo pile will be the last for the day. (It never is.)
But about halfway through our walk we noticed some footprints on the sidewalk...bloody footprints!😱

Two of the MANY footprints.
Being the inquisitive sort that we are, we followed the bloody footprints for TWO and a half blocks!

We discovered where they started:
A bunch of blood spots in front of an apartment building.
Then we followed them...

...and followed them, as the blood splatter... messier and messier.
Always the right foot.

We followed the footprints until it led us to this bloody mess...

...which is right outside the ice hockey arena where the professional hockey team plays!

As concerned humans, we were worried about this poor person who must have lost a lot of blood to leave so many footprints for such a long distance. As critical thinkers, we wondered why anyone would go so far and not seek or receive medical attention for an obvious trauma. And as amateur forensic detectives, Joe and I tried to figure out the scenario of what might have happened: A hit and run? A stabbing?  A really bad nose bleed?

The mystery haunted us for a few days until I saw this article in the Zug Post - the English daily local news online. Apparently there was a fight between rival ice hockey fans at the cafΓ© around the corner from our apartment - and exactly across the street from where we found the first drops of blood! Part of the melee was described by the restaurant worker as raucous fans "...kicking seats over, causing glasses and ashtrays to get broken." Though the article doesn't mention the bloody footprints and the hockey team spokesperson basically downplays the violence, CSI Joe and I found it to be consistent with someone (possibly drunk?) getting injured during the fight and bleeding all over the sidewalk as they walked to the arena to watch the hockey game (and hopefully receive medical treatment).

Who'd have thought we'd find such mystery and intrigue in our tiny neighborhood in Switzerland?

a crimson path
from here to there
a hockey fan's bloodline
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Harsh Warnings

I know I have mentioned the prevalence of smoking here in Switzerland on my blog before. I apologize for coming back around to this subject, but it is never far from my mind because the smell of cigarettes is never far from my nose when I am out in public.

Smokers account for a lot of litter here in Zug - not only their cigarette butts, but also their cigarette boxes. I see empty cigarette boxes more often than any other form of litter. One reason they catch my eye is the startling graphic pictures on the boxes warning of the dangers of smoking.

Apparently the Swiss government implemented the policy to put health warnings on all cigarette packages in January 2010. The warnings must cover "48% of the front and 63% of the back of all cigarette packages".

On the front of the cigarette packs that I have seen is this warning, written in three languages: German, French, and Italian:
Translated: "Smoking is deadly."

And below is a small sampling of some of the disturbing graphic warnings that grace the back of the packages - again, accompanied by text written in three languages:
Translated: "Protect children - Do not smoke in their presence."

Translation: "Smoking can lead to circulatory disorders and causes impotence."

Translation: "Smoking leads to blockage of the blood vessels and causes heart attacks and strokes."

Translation: "Smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde, and hydrocyanic acid."

Translation: "Medical professionals help you to quit smoking."

Being in a new country, surrounded by a new culture, has heightened my observational skills. It has also revealed my ignorance about cigarette packaging in the US. The only thing I know about US cigarette packages is that they have to have the Surgeon General's warning. Beyond that, I have no idea if they use graphic pictures.  Either way, no one can claim that they haven't been properly warned of the dangers of smoking.

My poem is about the power of addiction despite knowing the risks:

boxed warnings
don't extinguish
the compulsion
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.