whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ratatatatat, a riff-raff kind of day

June arrives filled with promise, of sunshine and sleeveless days, billowing clouds, smiling people because they have their vacation tickets tucked under their pillows so their hands can drift their during dreamtime.

And then, every year this happens: delightful June just distintegrates into stuff. No other word for it, just stuff and more stuff. I start to clean the cupboards, pull everything out, wash wool sweaters and oil bikes in a joyous fit of energy, and then I never get around to putting any of it away. Too much is going on at school, for kids and for the teacherly husband. Messy details at work seem to overtake the big picture. The tax department, which I thought would be busy perusing everyone's forms, starts to send letters. I will never understand the Swiss tax system, which sends, in one week, letters about overpaying one set of taxes while underpaying another and by the way, why did I not send in the last set of forms. Forms?

So here is today: thoughts about Nancy, sitting on an island in the Caribbean, wondering what she's done with the champagne glasses and if they are prone to hurricane damage (she likes champagne); thoughts and more thoughts about Christen near Boston, who longs for the days when we were kids and happily drifted through meadows; wonder about someone from Colorado looking at this blog - my nephew who spends summers fighting forest fires out that way or my old college roommate, to whom I haven't talked for years - did she somehow find me on the Internet?

Here is more of today: I have a wonderful young volunteer who came by to learn the basics of GenevaLunch. She is smart, energetic, excited about learning journalism ropes and most importantly, she has initiative, which I could see within minutes. She spent 20 minutes writing 2 sentences (from French to English, a news story summary), and then smiled and took notes while I reorganized it and explained why. She'll be fine and I'm fine knowing that. Meanwhile, I wrote a short report on the state of the Swiss economy, according to the International Monetary Fund. Rusty economics-comprehension skills were put to work. Translation: took me longer than it should have. Why can't everyone measure unemployment the same way?

IIPM students from India, enjoying a visit to Saint-Prex, Switzerland

Off I went to give a lecture on corporate communications in times of crisis to a group of MBA students from IIPM, a business school in India that has just had a write-up in the Financial Times. We looked at four companies, and how they have all suffered when they forgot a couple golden rules, which are: a) if a company doesn't communicate, its employees will, in the form of gossip and b) never, ever think you are immune from disasters and crises, the latter being what happens when you don't manage communications for the former.

Enough about work. I came home and read three short stories, a form of playing hooky. My husband, like everyone else in this village was watching the World Cup, judging by the sounds of TV and fans from nearly every household. The only place where I can imagine "World Cup" drawing a blank might be the USA. I suspect even the monasteries here have a giant screen.

And then I had some California wine with Swedish meatballs and watched Brazil and Croatia start their football/soccer game. I looked for e-mail from my son in China, but of course there was none. Lizzy, the GenevaLunch apprentice, graduated from college last year. I suggested she might want to try her hand at writing a guide to leaving home. She thought it might be kind of short, at least to start. "Don't write me, I'll write you - when I need money."

Dogs are barking, occasional cheers go up in the darkening village as a handful of people cheer for Brazil (Switzerland and France had no goals, so it's a draw).

The world is small. I remembered that a Brazilian woman, Gracinha, who lives in Portugal and posts amazing flower photos on flickr just posted one in brilliant yellow/blue/touch of green, saying "I love my country!" Football.

I leaned out the window and barked at a beautiful dog, who paused and gave me a deep bark in return. His owner gave me an odd look, then continued to chastise her little girl. "You do NOT accept anything from people you don't know, I don't care how nice they are. If a man tells you you're pretty and tries to offer you something, you shake your head and walk away. I WILL NOT accept this: that you are friendly with people you don't know."

The little girl, 7 or 8 maybe, with a swishy summer dress and flop-flp shoes, was annoyed with her mother, that was clear.

I wondered what the background to this was. I thought about Lesley in Canada, who talks to groups about teaching children to say no to strangers. She lost a daughter a very hard way, at the age of 11. People listen to Lesley for a good reason. So maybe this mother was very sensible. Probably.

And then I thought about how we all long for the good old days, when, in theory, kids could chat with strangers. It probably wasn't ever quite like that.

Before going back to work on my new Tribune de Geneve blog, now that it is dark out and I should be winding down, I visited flickr. Vasta is a kind and generous young man in Toronto who looks at my photos, and I enjoy seeing his and his comments. He suggested in one that I visit "a live recording of a bit of a spoken word piece i recently performed called you are what you eat. "

I loved it! I read it first and then remembered I was supposed to listen to it, so I did that. I laughed and felt a few tugs at my heart (poor woman! poor Vasta!). At one point he shouts "Boom!" and that set my Swiss village dogs barking again.

The world is small. The Internet is fun.

It's been a June kind of day, with just lots of stuff going on. Best on such days to make sure you keep some of the good stuff for the end of the day. That is a photo that makes me think of scrumptious Thai meals in days ahead, but I can't post it here for some reason. Check out the next post!

2 Comments:

Blogger Vasta said...

kind and generous? i'm blushing. glad you enjoyed the piece, i'm going to try and see if i have any more recordings of my spoken word pieces lying around. i used to be really into it. and sorry about the scare at the "boom" part. it caught the audience off guard too.

6:29 AM  
Blogger whistlestop caboose said...

Watch out for the birds. They get frightened by booms.

6:30 AM  

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