Friday, September 18, 2009

United with my states

After a lo-ong few weeks, we are back in the US o'A. We've had a pleasantly surreal few days here in Seattle, in our own country but feeling as foreign as could be. We seem to require a brief retraining on the basics of American culture. The things which bothered us in CH somehow became normal. Now, for instance, I must remind myself that eye contact is not creepy.

The niceness of the US, Seattle in particular, must be overwhelming for complete newcomers. Why would the guy giving my sandwich tell me to "take care" in such a nice way? Why! And the constant smiling! Where do they come up with all the extra energy for this? It may be a sign of idiocy in some cultures, but to me it represents a kind of openness and care I never really noticed in my own people before. I am enjoying this generous perspective at the moment – beatific, really.

Though Swiss Ms. has plenty of other observations about Seattle, she's not sure whether she will continue public broadcast of them in the future. There's a time when enough is enough and one commentator more may be one commentator too many. (Also, it's hard to be a luddite and a blogger at the same time.) But she thanks you kindly for your attention and interest over the past few years and wishes you well in your own endeavors at home, abroad, or hovering interstitially in the blogosphere. Also, she heartily suggests, should any opportunity to escape your daily grind for a season or so arise, that you take it. A bit of early retirement is good for the soul, completely worth paying for later.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not far from the 'fest

ahhaHA! You thought this post was going to be about how sad we are to miss Oktoberfest this year. But it's not! It's about our first official excursion from Seattle to Leavenworth, Washington's own little Bavarian village. We are planning it already. They have everything Munich has (sausages, overpriced Paulaner, Bavarian flags) and more (pulled pork! baked beans! The Smilin' Scandanavians!). The only thing missing, really, is Germans. But will we even notice that when we are listening to the festive tunes of the Polkatones, S-BAHN, and Alpenfolk? Seriously, can you even guess whether this is in Munich or Leavenworth?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Adesso BASTA!

I shall truly miss the excitement of getting the mail each day; surely it will never again be so entertaining or enlightening. In today's mail, a flyer against the proposed increase in value-added tax and a petition to keep banking secrecy in the Swiss constitution remind me that "Ticino is in danger!" Warning well taken, UDC – these foreigners are outie!

"Banking secrecy is part of our identity!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This furniture ad made me laugh every time we passed it. Binacci multiplies my happiness.

Total eclipse of the heart

Also, this picture of Angela from the NY Times reminds me of a 70s album cover.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kein Heineken!

Today (American Labor Day) may have seemed like a good time to pop open a bottle of Keineken. But sadly, you may have a hard time getting hold of one, due to the patent infringement proceedings initiated by Heineken, in which a (Swiss) judge ordered the beer to be confiscated. Keineken was in fact created to protest Heineken's recent takeover of Eichhof (with a nod to Unser, another protest beer formed after Carlsberg's takeover of Feldschlösschen).

But I say, let the Northern Europeans have your lame stinky lagers! What pride is there in those? How much better (and more Swiss) would it be to have instead a collection of cantonal microbreweries, cranking out a nice variety of beer that actually tastes good? Leave the oversized cans to 14-year-olds. Drink watery lager at a football game. And demand more from your breweries. This is my advice, CH. I hope you take it. If not, please lower the import tax on German beer.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Special papal blessing

"May The Force be also with you."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Helvetians

Because, daft Protestants that we are, Swiss Mr. and I were unable to locate Pope Benedict during his Sunday noon blessing on St. Peter's Square, we had to watch his address on the jumbotron outside the Basilica with girls in short shorts. Had a few things been different, it could have been the final scene from a romantic comedy. I hear your voice, I see you on the screen, where are you, XVI? It's noon and I'm here but you will never know I came like you asked. You will go back into your papal residence and I will get on my discount airline and we shall never know what could have been between us. Vale in aeternam, my love.

As it turned out, we had neither romance nor comedy nor blessing. We might as well have been watching CTV at home. And this may have been better because we would have heard more than mrhmpf hurnf blerb grazie. So we missed the Pope but had plenty of time to unblessedly gawk at his colorful guards. They don't seem very Ticinesi, as I sort of assumed they might be, but it was still nice to see some fellow compatriots. They chat photogenically.

"The Helvetians are a people of warriors, famous for the valor of their soldiers." –Tacitus

In case you couldn't put your finger on it, "the colors which make the uniform so attractive are the traditional Medici blue, red and yellow, set off nicely by the white of the collar and gloves. The blue and yellow bands give a sense of lightness as they move over the red doublet and breeches" (The Vatican). And in case you were thinking these colors look really nice on you, here are the criteria for joining the Guardia Svizzera Pontificia:

They're apparently considering to allow women into the Guard. First Swiss Guard then the Camerlengo, I know it: the Helvetians are going to bust the Vatican wide open.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We're back, with the experienced knowledge of why most Romans leave Rome in August: it hot. Thankfully, Rome is a fountainful city and we kept relatively cool by fountain-hopping. Swiss Mr. was predictably enamored by this one near Augustus' tomb.