Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Source

On the border of Switzerland and Germany we found a huge Wunderbaum Car Air Freshner.

(In case you are wondering, yes, it did make the whole town smell like a 1987 Camaro)

Rob, finally a spot just for you

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why posthumous ad campaigns are a bad idea: Reason # 258

Wish I could have been privy to the boardroom groupthink that approved this one...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Berlin to Munich at 180km/h (or two helpings of Ryan Adams)

Instead of flying directly home from the Netherlands, I headed to Berlin for one of two Ryan Adams shows. After the first show in Berlin, the Blocks, Josh and I rented a car and warped from Berlin to M√ľnich in 3.5 hours to catch him again in Munich. The time savings was courtesy of the A9 Autobahn, which allowed us to drive at 180 km/h, or 115 mph, the entire trip. We would have driven faster, but at higher speeds our Opal wagon began to shimmy and the wind noise was so loud that we couldn't hold a conversation absent screaming at each other.

Ryan in Berlin:

Ryan in Munich:

German shenanigans:


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the resurrection is sweeter...

"Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection."

- Schopenhauer

Finally, home again after two months in the Netherlands.

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Triple X

Coy is still working away in the Netherlands...that's sounding like a good name for the country these days because he feels so far. Anyway, I've been thinking about this for awhile:

In Amsterdam, XXX is written everywhere- flags, historical landmarks, pot hole covers. It’s easy to assume that the appearance has something to do with the seedy side of the city but the significance is actually the extreme opposite of the lurid modern meaning of those letters.

The letters were a reminder to the common people to pray for the city. Because the majority could not read, the church displayed the 3 Xs to remind them to pray for protection in the city against 3 things: plague, fire, and flood. In that day, Amsterdam risked being devastated by those things. Therefore, the church wanted everyone to participate in praying against them.
I love it. I want to have a flag of sorts that reminds us to pray. I need one flag to push me to pray for things (awareness of grace, unshakeable hope, and clarity of purpose) and another for things to pray against (fear, doubt, selfishness). If you chose just 3 things to pray for consistently, what would they be? If not hanging flags all around, what prompts could we make for ourselves?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The auditor's wife

“It’s hard to be left behind. It’s hard to be the one that stays. I keep myself busy. Life goes faster that way. I go to sleep alone and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?

Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. Each moment I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment, I can see infinite moments lining up, waiting.”

With the risk of sounding overly-dramatic, I find myself identifying once again with the opening page of The Time Traveler’s Wife. The first time I read this fascinating novel was when Coy had moved to Switzerland. I’m gladly re-reading it now as a selection of my book club. This time, the introduction struck a chord with me because Coy has been away so much. We did the math this weekend- we’ve spent more time in different countries since May than we’ve spent together. I’m not blogging about this to create pity or even to vent. It has just been a shaping part of our lives this year. In one sense, it has led to that intensity…the late night phone calls, trying to pack our weekends with all of the good things missed during the week, and the fluttery feeling in the stomach when it’s finally time for an airport greeting (I’ve always been an extreme sucker for emotional hype at airports. Crying while watching others say their hellos or goodbyes is not uncommon for me. This is a confession of where I am at my most sappy. Yep, airports and when blogging about missing my husband.). But I’m ready for a return to the normal. I want Coy to hit snooze eighteen times before I get up in the mornings. I want to cook dinner for us and go for walks after we eat. I don’t want to rely on email or cell phones in order to communicate- we already have to do that with the majority of the people that we love deeply. So that’s why I’ve not been a very good blogger these days, missing Coy is just the main thing going on.

Note: this entry was written from the Amsterdam airport. Coy had to work on Saturday and Sunday this week so instead of flying back to Zurich, KPMG flew me to him. Not bad. The point of this explanation is to tell you that I already choked up a bit when an elderly man turned from waving good-bye to his family in order to hide his tears. Where were they going? When will they see each other again? I don’t need sappy movies, just take me to the airport.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Election Results

The Swiss results are in. Not too positive, I'm afraid.

Disco Taxi

Possibly the coolest thing I've done in Europe. Our co-worker, Jeroen, took us out on the town in Amsterdam last night. His buddy came and picked us up.

He drove the Disco Taxi.

This isn't us, but is a video off of You-Tube. The car is complete with a pass-around microphone, video screens, and a disco ball.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thus begins the death knell

Things to think about other than the fact that this is the onset of my 30th birthday week.

The new radiohead album. Although results are mixed on their unique distribution methods (Time magazine says they've averaged $0.02 per album, whereas The Times says almost $9.00), the album is a winner.

Wearing my new vintage Combination Browline Hudson frames that I found in Amsterdam. With this look, I'm almost ready to be a dad.

Homemade Oreos. Haven't baked them yet, but the ladies are on a mission and I'm an all-too-willing calorie crash test dummy. Will let you know how they turn out.

The Sigur Ros documentary film.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the practical point of view. …Hence the question no longer is as to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being real."

- Kant

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Counting Sheep...

"Create Security" - a 2007 political poster by the SVP (Schweizerische Volkspartei/Swiss People's Party)

The SVP has started an ad campaign discussing the need to keep Switzerland for the Swiss. The good Swiss are represented by white sheep, while the foreign criminal element is the kick-receiving black sheep.

We've spoken to friends in both Hamburg and Germany and understand some of the SVP's points. Switzerland has a Christian heritage and tight-knit social groups, they see immigrants who do not respect their rules as offensive and threatening. As experienced in the Netherlands and France, an poor handling of large foreign groups can add quite a bit of tension to the social fabric. To their credit, the SVP is not asking to remove all foreign elements, only the foreign criminal element. However, the posters send a negative message to all immigrant groups and are indicative of a xenophobia marching through Europe and and the US . Plus, it doesn't really bode well for your campaign when Germany's NPD adopts your slogan:

But do the foreign elements really represent a higher portion of the criminality in Switzerland? Can Switzerland remain its economic competitiveness without the low-cost labor that this immigration represents? Even if the cultural differences persist for one generation, with immigrant children in Swiss schools will it likely continue? or will campaigns like the one above only prove to be a self-fulfilling cycle where immigrant populations feel increasingly alienated from the Swiss population?

To us, the last question is the most worrisome. Being black sheep, albeit law-abiding ones, we're hoping that the Swiss make some judicious decisions in the upcoming elections.

Luckily, the SVP party doesn't represent all of Switzerland. Our favorite example of the opposition was a white and a black sheep walking through the main train station with a poster asking people to "Hug the Black Sheep".

She was so cute, we couldn't resist.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

- K. Vonnegut

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


This weekend, we were visited by the Houstonians: Allen, my cousin and our friend, Adam. These guys, plus Alysson, my niece, makes for a houseload of guests. Luckily, our sofa is plush (thanks, Jeffster).

Highlights of the weekend included esoteric French Absinthe and a trip to the peak of the Rigi. A few photos:

View from the Rigi (1800m)

Adam daring the cliff (1802m) - Click photo to enlarge

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What a night!

So, did you know that Coy had his debut performance in a rock band called 'Sons of Coco'? I should have written about it by now- the concert was two weeks ago. The band is led by an Australian co-worker of Coy's. He and a pal have been playing around town for about a year. Coy joined them with his banjo and he was awesome! They played 'Wagon Wheel' by Old Crow Medicine Show.

When the band came back from a break, Pete said something about it being a special night and how 30 years before someone had been born in Memphis. I thought that the band might play 'Happy Birthday.' I was a bit embarrassed and I wondered where Coy had gone. And then, Elvis walked into the building- white jumpsuit with sequins, amazing pompadour, red scarf, huge glasses, and spectacular sideburns. And the King didn't just look good, he sang and danced.

Yeah, it was a pretty good birthday surprise!
Did you notice the drastic facial hair change?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Stand at the crossroads and look,
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your soul."
Jeremiah 6:16

so much to thankful for
so much to look forward to

I've typed and deleted sentences for the past thirty minutes now. I don't have enough words. Or maybe my mind is losing vocabulary with age. This verse was my goal for the start of a new decade.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tight orange coaching shorts

That's what I'm missing. Today was my first practice with the Middle School Girls' Soccer team. Everything was in place- my roster, our season schedule, my prepared list of drills. Yet somehow, it just wasn't complete. My years on the team at Ridgeway High taught me that a real coach wears tight, ill-fitting, wide-band waisted, bright orange coach shorts. There was a part of me that hoped I at least looked slightly hilarious while running around with the drills because that seemed to be part of the job description when I was a student too. Ahh, Coach Terre, thanks for the memories.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

just checking in

Hmm, I've typed several starts to a blog about the first days of school but they've all been too boring to post. Not that school has been has been rather fast-paced. I'm still sizing up the new class and I'm hoping they haven't pegged me yet as being too nice. At least six of my eighteen kiddos could really cut loose if they see the opportunity which could make for a challenging year. So I'm trying to set firm boundaries now, for everyone's benefit! To top it all off, my Middle School soccer team start practice next week. I need Coy to come back from his month in Germany so someone can cook my dinner!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Business Trip for Two, please (or the saga of a Pineapple pool palm)

Jealousy can have such an ugly affect on relationships. Thankfully we survived its nasty grip while in Portugal from Wednesday to Friday night. Coy received word on Monday that he would be sent to help out a project there. I decided that my last two days of German class were not enough of a reason to miss out. (By the way, my Deutsch is now extremely good. I could have written all of the previous in German. Just kidding. But I can introduce myself and tell you what I like to eat for breakfast. We'll save the oddities of the vocabulary introduces in beginner's language lessons for another blog.) So we hopped a plane, spent a night in Lisbon, and then drove down to the southern coast. The drive was quite pleasant. As much as we do not miss driving on a daily basis, sometimes a road trip needs a radio and a window to roll down. It seemed to us that southern Portugal was fairly sparsely populated and rugged. At one point, the vegetation created a scene that would have been the perfect backdrop for a dinosaur movie- barren, little bushes, and funky trees. The office was in a tiny town called Moncarapacho. We asked for advice from Coy's temporary co-workers about where to stay nearby on the coast. We were picturing small and rural. They were picturing luxury resort and crammed with tourists. As it turns out, Southern Portugal is to Brits what Gulf Shores is to Memphians. The place was crawling with British people and the restaurants offered things like meat pies and Guiness. But the beach was beautiful. Coy didn't really have the chance to notice any of this because he worked the entire time. I spent both days reading in the sun until it became too hot and then I'd jump in the water. Coy did have enough time before work on Friday to walk on the beach for about 20 minutes. Poor fellow. He was definitely the only guy I saw leaving the hotel that day wearing a suit. Lessons learned this trip: the beach is considerably less fun without Coy. Teaching is an excellent profession because everyone still needs a summer break. When they say jumbo shrimp in Portugal, they're not exaggerating.

Had to post another...

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist."

"Not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, does the enlightened man dislike to wade into its waters."

Randomized Nietzsche + Randomized Family Circus.

I'm not sure what it equals, but I found it funny.

Obtained from a friend of a friend's (?) blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

William Penn and his 'isms

- Much reading is an oppression of the mind, and extinguishes the natural candle, which is the reason of so many senseless scholars in the world.

- I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

- True religion does not draw men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.

- Less judgment than wit is more sail than ballast.

- It was the only treaty made by the settlers with the Indians that was never sworn to, and the only one that was never broken. ~ Voltaire, contrasting Penn's treaty with the Delaware (Leni Lenape) Indians, with most others that had been made in the colonization of America.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Leave it at home, fellas

At the security gate at Kenya Air.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Holiest of Holies

I found it. A church in the center of Addis Ababa is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

Behind these golden curtains lay the Ark. I suppose I could have imagined a more regal setting, but somehow the simplicity of the environment was fitting. At first, I wasn't allowed to actually view the Ark, but after pulling together the remaining cash I had (and borrowing some from the my driver), I managed to offer the local priest 60 Ethiopian birr - a meager sum (USD 6), but enough to view the Ark in its final resting place.

I wasn't allowed to take photos, but let me tell you, it was spectacular. The wooden box was overlaid in pure gold. The sound of the rain outside was almost drowned out by the spiritual hum of the Ark and its contents. I ventured to touch it, but was quickly stopped by my driver. The priest took a pair of weathered gloves and tilted the lid enough to show me its contents. I couldn't see much, but in the darkness I swear I saw every thing I've ever done wrong and the future of my lineage scattering out like stars in the sky.

Some other wall art:

Post Ark viewing, me, donning the priestly drums and playing a ceremonial cleansing tune.

Workers Unite! Ethiopian Style

In 1974, the Ethiopian Communist party took power in Ethiopia. This monument in the center of the city memorializes their victory over Haile Selassie.

The communist obelisk is similar in size and style to the ancient obelisks in the northern city of Axum, serving as an idealogical counterpoint to Axum's tradition as Ethiopia's holiest Christian site.

The communist revolution occurred during the reign of the last king of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, in the 1970's. The reliefs depict effects of the severe drought, the greed of the buorgeoisie, and communism's triumphant rise led by Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Mengistu Haile Mariam, leader of the revolution:

One of the four walls commemorating the Cuban, Soviet, and North Korean revolutionaries that came to their comrades aid:

During Mengistu's reign, he perpetrated what "Human Rights Watch" called one of the most systematic mass murders by a State in African History. In 1991, Mengistu Haile Mariam was forced from power and fled to Zimbabwe. In January 2007, he was sentenced to life in prison in absentia by the Ethiopian Government. Zimbabwe has refused to extradite him to Ethiopia to face trial.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ain't she purty? Now she's thirty.

I thought 'purty' was better than 'dirty'

Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LINDLEY! Thank you for leading the charge into our next decade. You are a wonderful cousin and an amazing friend. You're one of the funniest, most energetic, and kindest people I've ever met. (I mean you're topping each of those're easily #1 if I was only ranking people with the combo of the three!) I'm sorry that I did not get a card in the mail- this note will have to do for today. I love you, birthday girl.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And then we

took a flight on Saturday morning to the Masai Mara reserve park. Our little plane flew low enough for us to spot elephants as we landed! We stayed at the Governor's Camp and, from the look of some of the outfits we encountered, we were the only people who had planned the trip at the last minute. The place was pretty deluxe- fantastic food and cool tents that felt more like a hotel room (complete with running water bathroom). Our reservation had been made by a Kenyan co-worker of Andy's and he had set us up well by requesting tents that faced the plains and Joseph, the park's head driver. Joseph certainly knew the reserve well and was very knowledgeable about the animals we encountered. We hope to remain in his memory. We had the privilege of being with him for the second time that he has been completely stuck in the mud in eight years of driving in the reserve! All in all, we saw elephants, baboons, giraffes, black rhinos, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, half a dozen variations of antelopes, hyenas, warthogs, mongoose (no one could tell me if the plural is mongeese), spider monkeys, ostriches, zebras, lions, and water buffalo. Here's a sample of the many pictures we took:

If you're wondering what the floating blobs are in the green pool, squint your eyes and imagine ten hippos just bobbing up and down. We hung out with them as the sun sank. It was my favorite moment of the safari.