Showing posts from December, 2010

Hoping to de-stress Advent

Each year by mid-November, moods change. The switch is clear and noticeable. My children come home from school and tell me about fights and bullying. They have trouble focusing on homework. They are on edge. I feel it too. Some of my anxiety if self-imposed, i.e. I should order the Christmas cards; I shouldmake gifts with the children for relatives; I should buy all the presents now; I should wrap them all before December. If my super-mom friends can do this, so can I!

Mostly, the stress comes from the outside. Scheduling conflicts occur. People are moodier and lose their tempers more easily than before.

When I feel unhappy, I blame cold weather, a sedentary lifestyle, and creeping weight gain. I  conclude it must have something to do with Christmas, and I start to fantasize about leaving town for that forced holiday.

Boundaries are disappearing

My friends in the construction trade work crazy hours in order to get chalets ready in time for Christmas. They work over lunch, evenings and…

5 painless green changes

I had no idea that talking about "climate change" could make my friends become so... how can I say this... emotional.

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook that I had just watched Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" and that I was ashamed the USA wasn't doing more to curb its greenhouse gas emissions. Within one day, my post drew 13 reactions from both Switzerland and the USA. Opinions were mixed. Some got personal.
"Diana, don't believe everything you see in a movie! Climategate showed us something. And the claims of that movie are well… "

"If they [pro-oil lobbies and government officials] didn't have anything to hide, why would they have worked so hard to muddy the waters? Aren't their ridiculously vigorous denials and attacks proof perfect of their culpability?" 

"Sorry, that film has been widely discredited. Al should have quit after he invented the Internet... "
The Swiss alpine folk don't even think about climate…

Black ice and the Range Rover driver

Walking my son to the kindergarten bus stop this morning, the ground was so slippery that even my miniature Schnauzer was scrambling to stay upright. He reminded me of Willy the Coyote not being able to stop running after chasing Beep Beep the bird.
Then, I saw her, the fur-clad woman driving a silver Ranger Rover. She sped down the hill going at least 60 kilometers an hour, seemingly unaware of the dangerous conditions.
Our street is a one-lane country road with no sidewalks, and the speed limit is 40 kilometers an hour. Even though it's a private road, many non-residents use it because they see it as a shortcut. It is a road that is frequented by dozens of primary school children walking or on bicycles as well as contractors speeding by, apparently late for their appointments.

"She nearly crashed into me," said the van driver, whose face was still white from the incident. "If I hadn't backed up in time, she would have slid right into me."

The truth is th…

Paying the restaurant bill the Swiss way

I was thrilled at the close of our book club’s annual Christmas dinner last night. Not only did I have a blast and enjoy the food, I was impressed with the restaurant staff's ability to keep tabs on 29 individual champagne, red wine, white wine, sparkling water, coffee, and espresso orders.

In Switzerland, it is common for restaurant staff to bring diners all their own separate bills. I am not sure why, but one explanation for this could be that eating out in Switzerland is expensive. Whatever the reason, I think it's great. Being a teetotaler and a low-budget eater, I've often had problems with splitting the bill "per head" and having to subsidize others' heavy drinking habit. Trying to be altruistic, I tend to put in a small or normal order, hoping that everyone else will do the same. Unfortunately, others don't follow suit.

So, I like the Swiss way. There's no awkwardness, and it avoids "But I just had a salad" issues. Thank you staff at…