What to write about?

Clock Tower, Neuchatel

We eventually got up on Saturday morning (or was it the afternoon?) and decided we’d take a day trip. We got out the map and looked at a few options.  I said: “What about Neuchatel?” I’d seen the signs on the highway. It seemed close enough to Lausanne for a day trip.

So away we went.

We had a sort of a wind-down day.  We just wanted to relax and enjoy ourselves.  We walked along the waterfront. We walked into the main town and window shopped. We walked up to the Chateau. We could have taken a tour of the Chateau, but, alas, the guided tours don’t start until April.

I took some pictures of the view instead.

We looked in the Guide de Routard for a place to get a drink and maybe something to eat. Ludo pointed out the  Café du Cerf.

“Ouvert de 9h à minuit, plus tard le week-end. Fermé le dimache. Décor retro rock’n’roll et sixties. Choix de 100 bières. Frequenté par les Canadiens du Junior College. Menu du jour à 20 Fs (13€). Spécialité de fondue cambodigienne. Café offert à nos lecteurs qui y prennent un repas.”

We looked on the map and determined the place is just up the street around a few corners. We found our way there. I was expecting: “Décor retro rock’n’roll et sixties.” However, it was a British pub. Brick walls. Wooden chairs and tables. Rugby and football on the TV screens. Flags (I’m sure if I knew about football and soccer, I’d recognize the flags of teams, but I didn’t). It was a standard British pub that you would find outside of Britain.

Regardless. It was full of people. Speaking English at every table. The only difference was–everybody had a different accent.  We ordered a Chimay Bleu each and sat at a table. (For the record, I didn’t notice any Canadians, specifically. But I’m not sure I was looking for them.)

I noticed the people next to us get up and go outside every once in awhile and I realized they were probably taking a smoke break. The non-smoking rule was just implemented in Switzerland last fall (I’m definitely glad of that!). I started chatting to them. They are watchmakers. I told them I’m investigating topics to write about and I think I should probably add Swiss watchmaking to the list.

I guess that’s the main topic of today’s post: things to write about. Here are a few ideas so far for the new category: Ma vie en Suisse.

  • What I like about Switzerland.
  • Fighting cows (les combats de reines).
  • Music festivals (there seem to be quite a few. Lucky us.).
  • I’ll write about food and wine (that I like of course). I’ll keep publishing the recipes. There is a friend who apparently makes amazing risotto. I’ll be looking forward to learning how to do that. And maybe, I’ll get an inside scoop on making viande seche. Nothing I can publish–I am told–as it is a secret, family recipe. There is also raclette. And fondue. I’m sure there is a chocolate factory or two to visit. This list is easily quite large. Hmmm…
  • Not that I know much about fashion and style, but there is a style here that is unique. Maybe it’s uniquely European. I don’t know. I do know that I like the scarves. Anybody who knows me, knows I like scarves. I have a few. I should probably give away the ones I rarely wear and make room for something new.
  • We have a few travel plans. Austria in April. Barcelona in May. Back to Canada this summer.  Maybe, if my friend from Smithers visits in the fall, we’ll plan a wine road trip (either in Burgundy or Valais)–that’s exciting.
  • I’ll learn a bit about the history of Switzerland I am sure. But I think an interesting topic to investigate and discover would be the fact that it is a multicultural and multilingual country and people don’t seem to argue about what language their dog or parrot speaks (a heavy topic sometimes in Canada). They did, however, want to nominate lawyers for animals–another topic entirely. I’m probably new and optimistic, but Switzerland has existed in various forms since the 13th century.  I am sure I will discover some parallels between Switzerland and Canada.
  • And now I’ve just added Swiss watchmaking to this list. How come Switzerland is the land of watches and watchmaking?

And now, I’ll just put the question out there: What would you like to me to write about? Is there anything in particular you want me to investigate and report back on?

Just let me know. Leave a comment. Or, if you’re shy, send an email.  I’m not much in Facebook or Twitter recently. But you can also find me there. I do pay attention.

How to make the most out of your gym membership #3

Rollerblade from the apartment to the gym. (It was surprisingly nice out today.)
Clunk up one flight of stairs.
Coordinate limbs in a body pump (choreographed weights) class.
Continue with 45 minutes of cardio in the salle de musculation.
Stretch legs.
Crunch abs.
Rollerblade home.

Not bad. I’m glad the weather changed. It’s easier not to take the car.

For Sale – Girl-driven 2005 Honda Civic hatch back with sunroof and roof racks

What do you need to know about my car? That’s it’s for sale.? That it’s a 2005 Honda Civic Si Hatchback?  That it has just over 82,000 miles? Oh…it’s also a 5-speed manual transmission.

I just had a minor service, they guys at Automotive Excellence in Cotati said it was in good condition.

I have all of the service records, including two services I had in Calgary, Alberta and Whitehorse, Yukon.

The blue book value is $8,445.

Here is the CARFAX Vehicle History Report.

For such a small car, it is very roomy. Surprisingly roomy. In fact, when I was remodeling the bungalow and I had to transport a fireplace, the guys where I picked up the fireplace stood around and looked at me and looked at my car and shook their heads and said: “No way. No way will you fit the fireplace in that little car.You need a truck. You definitely need a truck.”

I said: “Pshaw. P-S-H-A-W! I once fit three 17-foot sea kayaks on top, three people, and enough gear for a three-day camping weekend in a Honda Civic hatch. I bet I can fit in that fireplace. Besides, if it doesn’t fit in, it will fit on top.” (Did I mention it has roof racks?)

So these big burly guys stood around harrumphing and betting that I couldn’t fit the fireplace in the hatch, but once they saw that it would fit, they all crowded around to help. “Well I’ll be…” I  heard somebody exclaim. “I’ll be..”.

Regardless. Most of those 82000 miles are highway miles. I bought this car in March of 2005 when I lived in Healdsburg and worked in Petaluma, California (70 miles round trip, daily).  Then, I lived and worked in Healdsburg for two years with little or no driving.

In 2009, I took it on a road trip to Canada. I drove it to Calgary, Alberta, then to Whitehorse, Yukon, then back again.

It’s a good little car. I love my little car. If I weren’t leaving the country, there would be no way in hell I’d sell it.

Here are the specs:

  • $8445 (KBB value)
  • Complete and verifiable service records.
  • Free of any major defects.
  • Clean title history
  • The paints, body, and interior have only minor (if any) blemishes, and there are no major mechanical problems.
  • No rust on this vehicle.
  • Tires match and have substantial tread wear left.
  • Air conditioning
  • Power steering
  • Power windows
  • Power door locks
  • Tilt wheel
  • Cruise control
  • Dual front air bags
  • ABS (4-wheel)
  • AM/FM radio
  • Single compact disk
  • Moon roof
  • Alloy wheels
  • VIN available upon request.

I am alive. I am fine. I’ve just had a lot going on.

To my friends and family who have inquired: “Nothing happening on your blog Jennie. What’s going on? Are you OK?” Thank you for inquiring. Yes. I am alive. I am fine. I’ve just had a lot going on.

At the end of January, I drove from Whitehorse, Yukon to Healdsburg, California. We’d sold a property and I needed to be in Healdsburg to close the deal. I stopped in Smithers for a day to visit my very good friend (good woman post to come). On Saturday, I carried on to 100 Mile House. On Monday, I got up as early as I could and started into Vancouver. I had to pick my older sister up at the Vancouver airport. (My sister pulled her Big Sister Card on this trip and said she was going to fly out and help me with packing and moving–even if I didn’t think I needed help). What can I say? She was right (as big sisters usually are). I’m glad she did.

Anyway, I picked her up and we carried onto my cousin’s house in Surrey, BC. We showed up around 3 pm. We visited for a while, then went for a walk along the waterfront. On the way home, we (my sister and I) decided we were going to cook dinner–so we planned a menu, went to the shops, bought the groceries, and cooked dinner. I think my cousin quite enjoyed it. She now says we can just show up anytime and cook her dinner.


Early the next morning, we drove the five minutes to the US border and crossed into the United States. The border guard kept asking: “Where are you from?” and “What is your purpose in the United States?” I told him three times that I was from the Yukon before I realized that he wasn’t hearing “Yukon”. He was hearing, “Utah”. When I finally realized that, I asked him if he knew where the Yukon was. He said no he didn’t. I’m not offended that he doesn’t know where the Yukon is, not too many people outside of Canada do.

But, I have explained it so many times before: “Do you know where Alaska is?” I put my left hand up in front of my face and splayed my fingers in a vague array of a map of Alaska. He nods but looks a bit affronted (probably because of my tone of voice, but I couldn’t help myself). I smiled to alleviate the annoying tone and put my right hand up beside the left and flipped it over mimicking the border of the Yukon and Alaska. “The Yukon is the Canadian part of Alaska.” And the light went on in his eyes (as it does when I mime this description). “Ah…Right. Way up north. OK.” He lets us through.


We stopped in Oregon for a break and something to eat. We actually stopped at Costco — to pick up healthy munchies for the road. And I practically danced out to the car in the parking lot with just one layer of clothing. I think I started singing: “It’s warm enough for one shirt. One layer! Wwwooohoooo!” I’ve been in the Yukon for three months and I wore a minimum of three layers at all times. I was never comfortable being so bundled up. All of those clothes restricts my movement.. My Mum would say: “You have to grow your own layers Jen. Grow your own built-in layers.” I told her that I already had 20 extra pounds of my own built-in layers. I am not comfortable in them either.

We carried on to Healdsburg (through Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.) We had to stop for the night in Redding because from all of that driving from the Yukon, the worst weather we encountered was in Northern California. The weather really was terrible. At one point, we were the one car behind three snow ploughs that were staggered across the highway ploughing snow. Then, all of a sudden, they just got off the highway. And I was stressed and anxious about not being the driver (even though my big sis drives in conditions like that all the time in Ontario). I was so stressed about the weather, that when I saw the plows exiting the highway, I literally shouted, “STOP! FOLLOW THE PLOUGHS!” because all I could think of was: The weather is so bad–EVEN THE PLOUGHS are leaving the highway. And non of the exits were ploughed. The snow was too deep for my wee Honda (even if I had snow tires). I just thought the weather was so bad, that the ploughs were leaving and ploughing the ONE exit from where we might actually be able to leave the highway.

My sister thought totally the opposite. She thought the were leaving the highway because it didn’t need to be plowed anymore.

She was right (as big sisters usually are) and we carried on. We carried on because there was a line of big trucks coming up at high speed right behind us and there was only one option–to keep going. And she was the driver. We kept going and we got through the snow storm and we stopped in Redding. Because I was so stressed about the driving and I’d stressed my sister and we just stopped and got off the road and out of the weather. The hotel was definitely worth


We finally arrived in Healdsburg the next day. We arrived to a two-ton tree that had fallen on Fitch Mountain Lookout. Well..not exactly on, but against. And, it could definitely have been worse. Three feet to the left and it would have been on top of the house. Regardless, it did do damage and we now have to figure out how to fix it.

In the meantime, we sold the other property (HealdsburgBungalow.com) and had to get all the personal property off that property and relocate, redistribute, or resell the household furnishings. Fitch Mountain Lookout got an update (which is nice). It is now a notch above what it used to be.

I had to sign papers left, right, and centre for the sale of the bungalow. Just when I thought things were finished, there were papers missed, or new forms. It was all a bit of a nightmare, but I think we got it all sussed. I’m quite relieved that it is done and off my plate. Moreover, I think I am just relieved that I am no longer responsible for half of the mortgage.

My sister was here for three weeks and was a godsend for help. And if she couldn’t help pack or move, she cooked us dinner. You gotta love somebody who can cook you dinner: exactly what you need and just when you need it. Have I mentioned that she is a pretty good cook? So, luckily, for three weeks, I enjoyed the wisdom and company and cooking of my older sister.  Thank you Redd. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Today was the first day I’ve had some time for myself. Today, I took a break. A break from my personal fixations and worries and stresses and I had a coffee and a great chat with Jennifer Becnel. We were talking about ideas for her website and family business: BecnelFamilyVineyards.com. I had a few good ideas for her site and she reciprocated some of her own ideas, perspectives, and thoughts for me.

Then, I thought I’d take a bit more time and make my first official blog entry of 2010.

Urban Yukon Bloggy Brunch

Happy New Year everybody. Don’t forget to show up tomorrow at 11h am!!!

I sent an email with all the contact information. Let me know if I missed something.

Looking forward to meeting everybody.