Christmas Season In Zürich

This is exactly how I remember my childhood before Christmas. Including the organ music, played in church interspersed by the priest preaching in high-german the retelling of the story of Maria and Josef. I could swear I heard the exact same mass as we hear here in the beginning. I remember those then bedazzling lighted stars and symbolic Christmas tree light displays. I remember the magical, festive, red Märli-Tram that took us kids for a ride among pretty angels in white frocks we can only get a glimpse off here.

I remember crowded Jelmoli, the huge department store with the running stairs that brought us up to the second and third floor, to a humongous selection of toys, eventually Barbies too. I remember those nets that conveniently carried our purchases before the pretty plastic kind replaced them. I remember the crowds, more so even inside the Trams than the department stores. Scarry at times for a small kid squeezed among adults.

I remember the Salvation Army singers collecting coins on Bahnhof Strasse. Never liked them, not then or now. What is missing is the guy selling roasted Maroni (chestnuts) right nearby. A small bag full in one's hand spread delicious warmth on a cold winter day.

There are people, lots of them in heavy coats, with women wearing woolen shawls and hats. People offering their opinions only when asked and put on the spot. One pretty woman confesses that she is not in the mood at all for Christmas as she is going through a very difficult time, while the other pretty woman complains the decorations not being to her taste and the third about the weather failing to bring on the mood for her. Meanwhile, one guy does not mind the artificiality of the Christmas decor but welcomes being taken out of the daily humdrum, but the other guy reminds us that Christmas should have not be about shopping but should have a focus on the birth of the Savior. All of their answers given in great sincerity upon a bit of reflection. All of the people are so Swiss in their appearance, their attitude and I could not even say exactly why.

I remember the smoke-filled restaurants with the waitresses dressed in black wearing a money belt from which they gave us back change when we payed our bill of course always in cash and added a then common 15% tip for their service. Those often elderly waitresses were then called Fräulein (Misses, a rather disrespectful to grown women term that since has long been abandoned.)

I remember the popular music of those times too. And I remember those streets with their businesses, many still going strong more than half a century later. Modissa was a women's clothing store my Mom cleaned for a while in the early morning hours. It's also a store we got some of our dresses and sweaters from. Bally was the store for our shoes and boots, always.

Unggi, my uncle not by blood, worked at the main post office near the main train station and took me to where those packages were processed right before or after his retirement. Packages were always so carefully packaged and tightened with ropes many times over for safety.

Yep, I started my life in those times and times they are changing, some, but some things do stay the same.

Mellow Yellow

Steamed plantain with pan-fried tilapia made for a feast for me and made for special, hand-fed treats for my furry friends. To my surprise, this included our finicky kitty, who got the least contaminated (by my liberal use of turmeric and peppers) bits of fish. Tumeric turned the tilapia bright yellow, blending perfectly with the yellow of the plantain. There is something especially appealing about the color yellow in food for me. I love bananas and have to hide them out of my sight, or their cheerful yellowness will beckon to me. Canaries, golden yellow melons, hold a much stronger attraction for me than any of the other kind. There probably are deeper reasons to our attractions and our use of colors, even in food. Van Gogh's often interpreted use of yellow related to his physical and psychological health does come to mind. Whatever it may be, we enjoyed our monochromatic meal.


Got my kitchen faucet fixed, finally. The hot water started to leak in early September. This faucet had leaked before - and stopped, yep it happens the professionals explained to me how. I had held high hopes for another 'miracle' meanwhile I would shut off the main incoming valve during those times I did not need water. That's when I really learned to appreciate the frequent need for running water, the seemingly incessant need for washing hands when living with and caring for companion animals. 

When the main incoming valve started to leak last week I got worried and wondered if I was to experience my own kind of flooding shortly, as I was preoccupied mostly with the horrible catastrophe that was and still is unfolding in Puerto Rico. So, last Friday I reluctantly called the professionals. It took 5 days, 3 visits from the Drain Surgeons, the proceeds of 4 hours of my own labor, countless buckets of collected water transferred for use later, and the expense of a brand new, but luckily on sale faucet, though not nearly as nice as my old one that pleased my eyes and I really liked. The silver lining, the mess under my kitchen sink got duly inspected and mostly rearranged.

SUMO 12 Years Old

Today Sumo is 12 years old
which would make him 64 in human years.
My little guy caught up with me!
Yes, this year Sumo aged.
In March Sumo's Vet took an educated guess,
The vet did not expect him to live to June.
But here he is, still among us,
still curious and taking an interest.
But Sumo slowed down a lot, 
sleeps a lot,
seems to conserve his energy
by sitting and waiting,
rather than moving and exploring. 
My high-energy buddy, 
that ran 12 miles in front of 10 dogs
now attempts half-hearted spurts after bunnies.
My formerly fearless guy now gets spooked easily. 
The clanging of his bowl against the brick floor
will make him hesitant about approaching his food.

I got Sumo a big whole chicken as a present.
I boiled it, took off the meat and made the rest into a stew.
I offered smallish size portions through the day,
so I can check how he digests.
Today, I decided to add Isabella's supplement for joints, Connectin,
to Sumo's diet as I had observed an unfamiliar stiffness in his limbs.
Yesterday, we picked up another bottle of CBD oil
it seems to make a difference.
I sure wish we had more scientific research on the medical benefits,
but the anecdotal evidence seems overwhelmingly favorable.
Observing Sumo's changes made me sad - and glad he is still among us.

Taking shorter walks in less familiar places
I discovered this charming entry yesterday.

Back In The Saddle

Rode my Buddy, my scooter for the first time in 9 months, for the first time since a car bumped me from the back while riding down our main street, for the first time since my body got catapulted over the front end and splattered across the road. The incident was traumatic for me, even though it could have been so much worse in terms of physical harm. While my leg has not been the same, aches every day since and my mobility stays limited and a challenge, it is the psychological trauma of not having seen it coming, not having had any options to avoid the collision, of feeling victimized and somehow afraid that nope, the world is not a safe place.

Any sane person, of course, knows that driving, especially a scooter, in our local traffic in particular, is risky, to say the least. It is my sense of having tried my best to ride defensively - and having failed that has had a dampening effect on me. On top of that having been blamed, by a cop that came to the scene late, noticed scratches on the car and never even checked on my scooter or my helmet or my story. I suspect his quick judgment of faulting me was based on ageism. Older, white haired, confused lady failed to take precautions when attempting to change lanes. He was wrong, it still irks me.

I ride a scooter because I am European, because it is fun and economical, leaves a low carbon footprint and makes sense in our climate of 300 sunny days a year. Economics play though a big part. My scooter costs a fraction to insure and license and supposedly gets as much as 90 miles to the gallon. Compare that to my antique VW van's 12 miles a gallon around town. 

So today, not even realizing it had been exactly 9 months since the accident, I got it together to find the envelope with the updated registration that had been sitting unopened for half a year, placed the updated sticker, stuck the needed documents in the compartment and got the engine to turn over without a complaint. Surprise, riding the scooter seemed easier than riding my bicycle. I managed to do my grocery shopping without an incident and got home in one piece eager to go back out again. I hope to regain my confidence and meet life with courage once more rather than shrink from it.

Foul Play!

My honeysuckle bush is haltingly attempting a second bloom after the earlier one, in Spring had gone awry due to another infestation of pests. Not often do I declare a living organism a pest but those ugly, mealy, whitish critters that destroy my pretty, red honeysuckle blossoms deserve such an ugly label. The invasions started a few years ago after maybe a quarter century of problem free existence for this honeysuckle bush. I gave ladybugs a try, but instead of feasting on those bugs, they wanted to mate and escape. I tried soaps of various kinds with limited success, alas, the pests came back this year again and mostly destroyed what should have been a glorious offering for all kinds of birds and bugs.

Now mid-summer a few new blooms emerged once more which gave me the pleasure of watching some hummingbirds hovering near, early this morning upon waking, while still in bed. But by mid-day, this gang of Sparrows had descended and flitted in, about and around. So I watched one of those tiny birds pick apart, methodically, gingerly, one petal after another petal from a singular, most beautiful blossom, not to feed on any of them, but to drop them, discard them, let go of them so as to mess up my outdoor living area. While doing so he and his buddies kept staring in one direction, east, checking on, I don't know what. Why pick apart pretty honeysuckle blossoms? I suspect that pretty, tiny bird, no matter how cute and innocent looking, was a hooligan intent on messing things up for the hummingbirds and for me. I cry foul!

Small Pleasures

I treated myself to a small pot of mini-roses, the kind that over several years filled up a big ceramic pot that over-wintered outside our entry. Those roses would come back into bloom year after year in surprising and delightful patches of colors, but our pot got stolen exactly one month ago. So here is to new beginnings.

Usually, I treat myself to another orchid this time of year, but I got this one early in June and it has been doing great and I sure hope it too will come back year after year like most of my orchids did.

No, I am not enraged, the painted rock is what I found placed on a natural rock among others in the middle of the Santa Fe river last year. It's the closest I got toward anything associated with a natural body of water on our special day today. I like this rock and I like the idea of setting our especially most challenging feelings at Buddha's feet for contemplating. Eventually, the time will come to pass on this gem for someone else to do with as they please.

 A simply delicious spinach/feta quiche with a tossed salad was for lunch.

Pure & Simple

Odd to me, to be compared to a Daisy,
as my mentor Dwuno did, about 44 years ago
when she seen a seeming simplicity and purity in my nature
that reminded her of this most common flower, a Daisy.

Odd, since I had just started to discover via the expressive arts
my fascination and 'fatal attraction' with the power of the unconscious,
with the brilliance and complexity that lies within and beneath us all. 
The correlation never made quite sense to me, but it clung to my mind
and was what compelled me to take these images yesterday.


Reading & Writing



Pondering some more

Going Out



Unapologetically Taking Up Space 

She Persisted

On a tour of our local shelter, a lawyer I know personally, met a homeless woman with 2 teenage boys. When she learned about the woman's story she got so incensed she took on her case pro bono, dragged that woman's x-husband through the court system, kicking and screaming. He fought every step of the way, assisted by a despicable, high-powered lawyer. Yet, the lawyer, a woman, of course, persisted, for about 4 years, and won the formerly homeless woman a $200,000 settlement!

So remember this when telling another nasty lawyer joke. One homeless woman's life got changed significantly for the better due to the help of one pissed-off and determined lawyer.

Wall Of Love

"There’s been a lot of talk about building walls to divide us. Instead, we’re building a Wall of Love to bring us together. It’s a statement of how positivity, compassion, and connection overcome fear and hate."

This project brings out the creativity and enthusiasm of our diverse community: hundreds of people of all ages have joyfully joined together to create a dazzling Wall 50 feet long and 4 feet high that will be located on the fence outside the Railyard Performance Center (facing the Farmer’s Market).

Our big, beautiful Wall of Love is made up of 12″x12″ individually hand painted squares expressing what each person love, created at Wise Fool, Warehouse 21, Little Earth School, the Children’s Museum and Meow Wolf."

American Dream Not My Dream

My escape from Switzerland led me first to the Netherlands, to Amsterdam of course, the center of hippiedom, manna for my soul. I got invited to live on houseboats, so cool. Later I shared a flat on Prinsengracht with an assortment of international folks. We would evacuate the space for a nearby coffee shop most mornings so that Roland could practice his yoga in peace and quiet. Later we would head out on black, step-through bikes across town to the Boelhood, our macrobiotic restaurant and health food store, where we would create wholesome, adventurous meals for a small clientele for most evenings. Those meals always had 5 components to them, a whole grain (often brown rice) beans (Azuki were a favorite) a small fried something from leftovers, roots or vegetables of sorts (sometimes pickled) and a slice of freshly baked brown rice sourdough bread. A pot of grain coffee spiked with Juniper berries on the side. We made it all ourselves, never used any sugar or salt, but sweetened with soaked dried fruits, lots of raisins and apricots, out of good size buckets.

Rui from Funchal, Portugal, a tiny, wiry man with long black hair and deep dark eyes and a great sense of humor, intent then on avoiding a draft, made pear tarts with arrowroot glazes and distributed those all over town. A Dutch man, a short, solid and sturdy curmudgeon with a cuddly gray beard, pink cheeks and sparkly eyes, built us an oven out in the tiny yard and baked most of our breads. Ah, sourdough rice bread fresh out of the oven, with miso, tahini and a slice of local farm cheese, to die for. Those were good times, so good that at the end of the day we did not want to part, but would want to hang out a bit longer, except for Friday nights when we all would go free-form dancing at Het Cosmos, Amsterdam's new age center.

At the Cosmos is where I met Roland during "push hands" in Tai-chi class. Joe Onvlee, our teacher, a former sailor, with greasy black hair and what looked like a beer-belly, made it a point to come over to us to demand that we talk. This particular exercise he claimed demanded that we speak to each other. Joe had not just a little bit of Gurdjieff-style mischief in him. Neither one of us felt like being verbal, but as good students we complied and spoke introducing ourselves. I learned that my partner had his own healthfood store and restaurant and I was welcome to stop by. That is how I got to work for 5 guilders a day, food, and a place to stay. I still remember my first day at a long wooden, blond hand-crafted bench and table, when Roland took my hand, guided me over to the store section to choose some veggies and instructed me how to cut them up properly, meaning with the smooth movement of the Japanese knife leading away from me. Having been guided by hand, literally, startled me and endeared him to me.

At the Cosmos is also where I learned Swedish massage from an American bi-racial, gay, male couple from New York, great teachers. I still remember my fear of touching a stranger and possibly causing hurt and pain. I had reasons for my reluctance, my expressive art teacher had claimed that my innocent enthusiasm had caused injury to his collar bone. I needed a lot of encouragement to touch another and trust that my power was therapeutic, rather than mistakenly hurtful.

By profession, I have been a mainly self-made, process-oriented (aquatic) bodyworker/massage-therapist. After more than three decades, struggling mostly in private practice mostly in a small town in an economically depressed state I found myself severely burned out. I am a drop-out, a new age hippie that followed my bliss that incidentally never led to the pot of gold (as New Age philosophy would have wanted us to believe.) I am a first generation immigrant, bewildered by the society I find myself in. I have outgrown my anti-establishment stance, but have not figured out what to replace it with, or how to fit in with the world around me.

I supposedly achieved the American Dream when I got to own my own home, a tiny, less than 600 square feet open space studio on the other side of the tracks, then in the so-called barrio, now in a favorite high-priced 'hood. Yet a home of my own was never really my dream or one of my aspirations. It just seemed to be something that made financial sense. It ended up being the best financial decision I ever made and yes, I made some dumb ones. Meanwhile, I have not achieved my dreams. I lived blissful bits and pieces for moments in time, yes, I did. And those moments were glorious, yes they were, but none lasted. These days I no longer hold any dreams for myself, none. They say never give up, persist, it's never too late. Nope, not for me. There was a time and then it passed. Time moves on, things do change, sometimes inexplicably. My dreams are gone.
Part 2

Part 1

 to be continued

Blooming Century Plants Spectacle

Century Plants shoot up to 30 feet at the end of their life cycle. 
They bloom once only in their 10 - 30 year lifespan.
These Century Plants were planted about 10 years ago in the Santa Fe Railyard Park.
The buzz of busy bees in and around those blooms, way up there, is audible below.

Reaching For The Moon

Not Feeling Patriotic 


Chance meeting & greeting of Baci,
Jane's new puppi, soon to be a certified assistance dog
at Counter Culture in Santa Fe.

Sumo looking at me holding high hopes for treats
having waited patiently and politely outside Whole Foods
while I was shopping inside.
As so often, Sumo is focused on me, 
while Isabella is focused on the environment.

Miss my Buddy, my scooter,
so I finally, stopped by the repair place 
and came to an agreement to patch up the cosmetic damage
to bring the price down to about half.
So, my chances are good for getting over my fear
and riding my Buddy once again starting next month.
I celebrated this long overdue decision with 
a stop at Counter Culture, a favorite local restaurant, 
where I had the good fortune to meet Baci for my very first time. 

Soviet Spy

It's been a tough year - decade, in some respects, while of course it always could have been a whole lot worse. I have been meaning to express some of what follows for a while, wondering how not to come across as whiny or complaining. I might sound like it anyway, so here it comes anyhow.

August of last year I walked out of a job my once best friend and client, with whom I had a falling out twice, had offered me repeatedly. My friend had become a lawyer after a decision at the ripe age of 48 that followed having gotten pissed off at not receiving a bonus she believed she richly deserved from her boss, a lawyer she had worked for. My friend needed to complete required college courses first then had to apply to law school twice and graduated as a senior to opened her own law office soon afterward. Eventually, I was no longer in a position to refuse her offer to help her out. I managed to play secretary for her for a full three years.

Those years reminded me strongly of my teens when I worked for an important lawyer in Zürich, Switzerland. Our office was involved in the creation of a third pillar to the Swiss national retirement program. I was in training then, a common work/study practice in Switzerland. After a false start of working in the fashion industry (beauty had been up and foremost in my early teen mind) and after I had taken a sabbatical (as an au-pair in the French-speaking part of Switzerland) I had emerged as a more serious teenager, eager for more meaningful work, such as I imagined happened in law offices. 

Never would I have imagined that after only three semesters I would have become a Soviet spy suspect! My conventional Swiss boss, the highfalutin lawyer, could not fathom why else I would wear my handmade, bright red, cotton cap to and from, but never at work. (I was in the process of becoming a Swiss-style hippie, it was the early seventies. World-travelers, hippies would stop over in Zürich, their mystique was infectious!) The reason for having become the object of suspicion was that the new secretary had figured out that I no longer lived with my parents and tattled on me. True, at age 18, I had the audacity to embrace an opportunity to move in with my dear friend, not lover, Joe, an exquisite artist and dear soul under the roof of a patrician house. My hometown gave me a stipend, unasked for as I recall, but on the urging of a social worker, with which I managed to live on my own, prematurely, according to the working class conventions of those times.

I had worked hard, and I thought good, at playing secretary at that office. I had kept records on petty cash, put out mass mailings, wrote letters by dictaphone according to standard procedures clearly outlined. I typed pages over and over until they were perfect and took notes in shorthand. I was a good secretary-in-training (Lehrling) especially during the absence of our real secretary due to illness. But when her replacement took over, my troubles started. My budding career as one of so many 'Büro Gummies" or pencil-pushers in Switzerland came to an abrupt halt, I was fired. No doubt this experience contributed significantly to my flight from my country of origin, Switzerland, and to my eventual immigration to the United States of America.

So here I was back at a law office four decades later, but this time with barely any formal education in the English language, much less familiarity with the customs,  not to speak of those at a law office. I worked for a woman that once had been my best friend and my client but I had more than one falling out with, who had become my boss. I worked for a woman whose approach to life was in many ways opposite to my own (astrologically thinking Leo versus Cancer, fire versus water.) Amazing that we lasted 3 years, the experiment should have come to its natural conclusion after 3 months, not 3 years. One day, I walked away, never ever to miss the work at that office, ever. What I do miss since is income!

Part 1 of more to come

Lost & Found

Found eleven pennies last week -  the good omen made my day
found a twenty dollar bill today - I am worried!

For real, I found a twenty dollar bill on my walk with dogs with no one near. Only one lovely appearance in a white flowing gown, long tresses down her back, little white dog on lead walking down alongside the train tracks. Maybe the bill fell out of her pocket when she was fishing for a poop bag as I so often do? Raised to be an honest and a good girl, I followed that lovely woman and learned that no, she lost no bills, that she is from Burundi, from where the best drumming with the best of drummers come from, and that her dog's name has the same name as my dog, Isabella. This most lovely lady with her copper-toned skin and copper-toned tresses suggested I simply accept the find as a gift from the universe.

What may be viewed as a gift by one, may be experienced as a misfortune by another. I feel no guilt picking up pennies, which I find fairly frequently and which tend to make my day when I bring them home and place them in my Tibetan singing bowl. Same goes for dollar bills, but with 5 bucks I start to worry that someone may really miss that bill. I found a twenty dollar bill a while back in the park, my dogs led me straight up to it. I assumed a drunken guy may have slept off his buzz in those bushes. Long gone, his scent may still have lingered when we approached. No one was in sight then too and I was worried that those 20 bucks may have meant a whole lot more to my imaginary guy that lost them than to an average person. 

I don't think of myself as being average. I once got really upset with a friend who picked up a $5 bill at the entrance of Trader Joe's grocery store to quickly and gleefully pocket it without even glancing around as to who may have lost the bill. There were a lot of people coming and going out of that popular grocery store. A twenty dollar bill in pocket or lost may make a huge difference for a street person. It may determine, I imagine, an ability to buy the kibble for their dog. Which reminds me that yesterday we received the unexpected gift of a bag of primo, organic dog kibble from a neighbor who only has one cat to feed. She had bought the wrong kind of kibble, a mistake I have made too. I was, and I still am grateful, even though I have been avoiding brown rice in kibble for the last 5 years. Since my furry friends have been on a grain-free diet.

Back to the idea that one man's gift may be another man's misfortune, or not. It does not hurt to try and double check one's assumptions and extend our compassion to others in times of plenty as well as during hard times. 


We took a break from the horrific news that assaulted us daily with seemingly not a moment to catch our breath. I looked matronly in my disguise of a green, patched together, cotton dress that made me act and look like a farmer's wife, except hard labor was never really my thing. A cool breeze had me still wear my winter shawl. Isabella looked ridiculously happy and fluffy having gotten her shower only recently. Sumo found the most comfortable spot to settle on, my lap. My neighbor had offered to take some pics of us, the first ones in years, so with Sumo's recent health crisis, I was glad to accept.

Sumo seems fine, while according to the vet his 3 months are up and he is supposed to be a goner by now. Instead, he again runs after the bunnies, but with a bit less enthusiasm, with a bit less stamina than he used to have. I guess that is o.k. considering both of them will be 12 years old this year. He still has a hard belly, I assume a fibrous mass inside, probably cancerous and he is still on his CBD oil, albeit less of it.

Since we just celebrated Father's Day, a pic of us about 60 years ago!

Rogue Hollyhock

Sadly this rogue hollyhock blooming out of the middle of a pretty blue pot of mini roses, collected over several years, got stolen in the early morning hours today. I woke because Pretty Kitty asked to come indoors. Wide awake, I sat at my computer when I noticed the sound of a truck with bright head lights on right outside our driveway. My dogs barked, which is rare for them during nights. Next, the truck drove off, I can still hear that sound in my ears. Later this morning, as I still wondered and got outside to check, our lovely pot of roses was gone, the hose dribbling water toward the concrete driveway. 

I reported this to the police, for the records, not because I harbor any hopes of recovery of that pot, but because my neighbor reported his loss of everything stolen out of the side pocket of his Harley Davidson motorcycle to me the week before. The cop told him that burglaries were on the rise in our neighborhood. We both were aware that there has been a lot of comings and goings of late with all kinds of constructions and people moving in and out. Correlations of burglaries with concurrent construction sites have been noted by both of us before. 

Oddly the very friendly, female cop asked me for my for proof of ID, my social security number and if I worked, was employed or retired, something outside the norm of sanctuary cities. Something that might prevent undocumented citizens from reporting crimes. Something I don't remember having been asked before. So, I reported this to our Mayor's office who confirmed that this was not usual and that they would look into it and get back to me. 

Meanwhile, I feel vulnerable and wonder why anyone would steal a pretty, but funky, blue terracotta pot of an assortment of colorful mini roses with one rogue hollyhock in the middle in full bloom?