Tuesday, December 12, 2017

After only 4.5 Hours and 4 Trains...

...we were in Italy!

Over the weekend, Joe, Maureen, Smidgey and I went to Stresa, Italy. It was our first trip outside of Switzerland...but definitely not our last.

Stresa is on the shores of Lago Maggiore:

It is basically a summer resort town, so being there in December gave us a different perspective:
Some hotels were open...
...while most were closed.
But experiencing the Italian Christmas spirit was well worth the chill in the air. (Though it was at least 10 degrees warmer than Zug with no snow.)
Store front nativity scene #1...
...and #2.

Decorated stores...
...and 'Santa' climbing up a hotel balcony.

The Italian locals we met were friendly, kind, and didn't mind that we didn't speak Italian.

As per our usual experience, we didn't understand a lot...
Some signs have better messages...

...than others.
...but that didn't slow us down. Between our tiny bit of Spanish (surprisingly helpful when trying to speak basic Italian) and our crazy American gesticulations, A LOT of Italian food can be ordered and consumed! (Though I did have occasional Deutsch outbursts which kind of confused matters even more.) The best part for Joe was that everything costs about 1/3 of what it costs in Switzerland! Più pizza per favore!

The only downside was walking Smidgey on the narrow streets (with no sidewalks). And Italians like to drive FAST - luckily most of them have tiny cars.
Smidgey peeking to see if the coast is clear for us to walk down this TWO lane road.

Tiny but mighty...fast!

And when we returned to Zug we were met with white-out conditions:

But, alas, the snow is not so bad. Especially when an Italian (or French or German or Austrian or...) adventure is only a train ride (or four) away.

rail against
the winter blues
train trip
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 8, 2017

We're Not in Kansas Anymore...

...or Tucson for that matter!

Many things are new and different here in Switzerland, but nothing is as different or effects us on a daily basis as much as the weather. (The language comes in a close second...)

Here is the forecast for the next couple of days:

Google Weather
SRF Meteo

Whether it is written in English or German, it is getting cold here in Zug. (The SRF forecast is slightly more optimistic, though. ; )

(Note: Temperatures are Celsius.)

Despite the chill in the air and our extra wardrobe...
This is without a few of Mo's coats/boots as she is in the mountains on a school trip.

...you can NOT beat the views:
Looking out over Lake Zug.

Looking out over the running track where I exercise daily.

And just outside Maureen's school.

Here is a chilly poem to keep you warm:

I stroll down
the snowy lane
memories of flip-flops
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.
Warning: Shameless Publication News below
My poem, "Black Ice" was published in the monthly literary journal, ARIEL CHART. (My poem is below the Thin Boiled Blood short story.) This is particularly exciting because Ariel Chart is a signatory of Poets and Writers. (www.pw.org) Published works are credited in their renown Directory of Writers. Squee!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Follow Up

Over the course of the last several months I have posted about various aspects of living abroad in Switzerland. As time goes on, I sometimes see something new related to a topic I have already posted about and I think to myself, I should do a follow up on that.

Today I am following up on four previous posts:

On Friday, October 13th I wrote a post titled "Brusque Busking" about the many street performers we encounter around Zug. I mentioned that I wished I had a picture of the woman in a gold hat playing a crank organ and how Joe kept hoping a mini monkey would pop out of her hat. As luck would have it, we saw the woman's husband playing the crank organ one Saturday afternoon. But, alas, they still didn't acquire a monkey. (And his playing was no better than his wife's.)

Then, a few days later, we saw a guy who took street performing to a whole new level. Painted in gold and wearing a gold suit he would stand stock still on a box. Then when an unsuspecting person(s) (usually young ladies) would walk past him, he would flinch and yell 'Boo!' which would cause the unsuspecting person(s) to shriek. And he would expect money for this. See his gold, "Donations" urn? And do you see the cigarette hanging out of his mouth? That leads me to my next follow up...

On Tuesday, September 5th I wrote a post titled "Everything Butt" about the prevalence of smoking here in Switzerland. It still astounds (and horrifies) me how much people smoke here! In fact, it seems that public spaces are set up to accommodate smokers rather than non-smokers. On every platform at the train station there is a big glass box for the NON-SMOKERS to have a place to breathe smoke free while they wait for their train. It is the opposite of how it is in the US.
Sign on the door of the box.

Non-smoking safe haven at the Zug train station.
On Tuesday, November 7th I wrote a post titled "Top That" about how construction sites place a tree on the top of the building that is under construction. The practice is called "topping out" and it signals that a building has reached its final height when the last beam is placed atop the structure. Well, now that the holiday season is upon us I wondered will they decorate the tree way up there? I don't need to wonder any more - they did!
🎶Tie a red and white ribbon on the old pine tree!🎶

And finally, on Tuesday, August 29th I wrote a post titled "State of the Art" about the abundance of public art in Zug. The construction company that is building across the street from us has gotten into the act by adding a really cool public art mural to the OSB fence that surrounds the construction and faces an apartment building. I wouldn't mind looking out at this:

All the 'people' are wearing real fabric clothes! So cool!
If you have a previous post you'd like me to follow up on, let me know in the comments. And if there is something about being an American in Switzerland that you are curious about and that you'd like me to write a post about, leave your suggestion in the comments as well. Thank you for reading!

And to follow up my follow ups, here is a follow up acrostic (written down):

                             Further investigation
          another loOk
                            Look into
                check Out

                  find oUt
 ©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 1, 2017

I Smell a Rat

No, I don't actually smell a rat. Though I do smell a Rat Terrier...but that is a whole other story. :)

Switzerland is one of the cleanest places I've ever lived. That is not to say that graffiti, litter, or rodents don't exist, but they are not pervasive. (Uh-oh, I feel a post coming on about graffiti in Zug...)

The only place we've witnessed the existence of rats has been at the Bahnhof. Smidgey, on the other hand, has been hot on the trail of some things that she'd like to sink her canine teeth into during our walks, but I'm not sure they've all been rodents.

One theory I have as to why there may be so few rodents (squirrels included) is the prevalence of outdoor cats. This is a new phenomenon for us. In the area of Tucson where we moved from, outdoor cats were almost nonexistent - or would become nonexistent quickly thanks to our neighborhood coyotes and bobcats.

Now we see a sight like this almost daily:
No rodents in those bushes!

But then one day we saw these painted on a wall...

...and we thought, what's that about?

According to the official Zuger Stadtführungen pamphlet these painted rats are tied to a story about the Clock Tower in Altstadt (old town) Zug. 

Clock Tower in Zug.

As the story goes, while dining in a hostel a young scholar who was passing through Zug on his way to Salerno overheard a watchman complaining about rats tormenting whomever was on duty in the Clock Tower. The young man advised the watchman "to paint a large fat rat on the wall of the tower at the point where the rats climbed in." The next day the watchman did just that. According to the story, "as the irksome rats appeared, they saw their black counterpart, sniffed around it and quickly fled". 

Look at that, with a little paint, extermination services are no longer needed. If only it were that easy.

My poem today is advice on what to do if you see a rat...regardless of its color:

If you see a rat
dressed in black
stay way, way back.

If you see a rat
dressed in gray
go far, far away.

If you see a rat
dressed in white
quick, take flight.

Bottom line is
if you see a rat
always avoid that...
...and/or send in a cat.

©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Circle Around

According to DailyWritingTips.com the idiom 'circle around' means "to move in a circular motion to engage in reconnaissance or to figuratively evaluate a situation." I feel like that is what we have been doing since moving to Switzerland - engaging in reconnaissance as we evaluate our situation.

As we've been circling around we have encountered many circles! I'm not sure why, but the following random round objects caught my eye...enough that I took pictures of them and wrote the circle inspired poem below. Enjoy!
Mall corridor in Zug.
At Transportation Museum in Luzern.

Ceiling of Zurich Bahnhof.
From Dots of Happiness room at the Chocolarium.

Sculpture in front of Roche.
World sculpture in Zug.

Freaky store display in Zug.
'Chocolate' ceiling in Chocolarium.
And an All American Apple Pie made in a Swiss Kitchen.


©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Danke Day in die Schweiz

In my unique Bridgeutsche way, I wish you all a "Guten Danke Tag!" in honor of Thanksgiving.

As a family we've been very nontraditional (and creative, in my humble opinion) in how we have celebrated this holiday in the past. In fact for the last two years we have had Turkey Taco Thanksgivings instead of the traditional bird and all the fixings.

Now that we live in Switzerland, our celebration has had to become even more creative because, well, they don't do Thanksgiving here. The fourth Thursday in November is just like any other Thursday - no days off. There are no Black Friday sales. And unless you want to pay big bucks (~24CHF/kilo) and order from a butcher weeks in advance, there is no turkey. The closest thing I could find to Tom Turkey in the regular grocery store was his fowl cousin, Chad Chicken:

Besides, the standard Swiss ovens are not even big enough to cook an average size US turkey.

And since we are not big on the traditional foods of Thanksgiving, we weren't too worried about not getting a turkey. But Maureen wanted something quintessential American to mark the holiday. She wanted In and Out Burger. But alas, Switzerland doesn't have In and Out, but they do have:
This is what we had to settle for...which made Mo happy.

Because, really, how could we say no to this sweet face?
Do you like her new glasses?

So here we are celebrating Thanksgiving in the most American way we could find in Switzerland:
Gobble-gobbling down burgers!

We are thankful for each and every one of our family members, friends, and Wee Word readers.

thankful for our
whopper celebration
she got it her way
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ssswwweeet! Part 1

It has been said (and it is very true!) that Switzerland is the land of chocolate...and by extension, chocolate factories. And being a family that fully appreciates the blessings bestowed upon us, Joe, Mo and I have begun to investigate the many wonders of these delightful facilities...for the manufacturing processes, of course! Joe is an engineer after all. : )

Luckily, we didn't need a golden ticket and there weren't any creepy orange oompa-loompas or Johnny Depps lurking about when we visited Maestrani's Chocolarium just outside Zurich.

The tour began with an inspirational quote (that carried over to today's poem) :

and a sweet seat:

We experienced the chocolate making process from 'milking the cows':
Udderly hard work!

To sugar beet explanations: 
Makes your teeth hurt, doesn't it?

Then on to where the magic happens:
...I see you!

Unfortunately they wouldn't let us take pictures of the manufacturing floor - secrets and stuff, but believe me, Joe was drooling. Well, maybe he was mostly drooling because just about every 5 feet there were chocolate samples provided for your tasting pleasure:
Not one...
...not two...

...but SIX sample stations where you can taste as much chocolate as you want!

But what really got Joe's mouth watering was the chocolate fountain room. There were three fountains: dark chocolate, white chocolate and milk chocolate. And we were in the room...alone. You'd have thought Joe had died and gone to heaven! It was hard to get him to move on...

...sample some more.
Repeat x 20!

Next we headed to the Dots of Happy Wishes room:
How we feel, dear reader.

Then we got to make our own chocolate bar. Maureen and Joe collaborated on a dark chocolate delight for themselves, and I made a special bar for someone back in the US who needs a little sweet boost:
Made with love!

The tour ended on a poetic note:

I'm with von Goethe, no one should embark on any journey without chocolate. What would be the point?

Writing Assistance

chocolate bits
direct my creativity -
happiness is my path

©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Stay tuned for Ssswwweeet Part 2! 

And it seems there was a bit of a glitch with Blogger last week. Many of you may not have received my post Duolingo Says What? because not all of the emails went out. Check it out if you missed it.