2017

January 1, 2017

DSC03379.JPGHAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL and best wishes for this coming year.

Here are my new calendars for 2017 and some of my little and bigger friends who will accompany me each month. Aren’t they cute, beautiful ? These calendars were sent to me by a few rescue centers for animals. It makes me happy that they found good care and a shelter.

DSC03291.JPGStill no snow in the Alps but frosty, misty mornings that are so cold my wind chime keeps silent. Their sweet voices too frozen to sing. No swinging either.

dsc03349And when Winter rhymes with frost, colors and blue sky..this Season looks and feels just wonderful for your eyes and  heart. How can one not feel good when such a landscape welcomes you in the morning ?

Front cover of my tiny 2017 calendar

Because love, love is never finished,

It circles and circles

The memories out of order

And not always complete.

(Sara Zarr)

Of colors and Winter

February 9, 2015

Don’t we all need colors in Winter ? More colors than the occasional yellow or red leaves that highlight a green bush ? Thanks for them Colours that strike you vibrantly and bring a smile Colours that make you blink as if the sun had hit your eyes Or as if a rainbow from elsewhere would bend down gently over  you  to warm your heart I send you the gift of a quilt I sewed recently, digging into my scraps boxes with the utmost pleasure. DSC00829 I will be kept away from my window to yours for a while. Should you wish to send me a message, it will definitely bring more colors to one of those mailboxes, and to the other too since they are so close together. mailboxes, 2 Wishing you all the best. With love Isabelle

Christmas wishes

December 24, 2014

Wishing you all,

Dear friends and visitors,

A Merry and Blessed Christmas,

One of peace and hope and sharing.

With love and gratitude

Isabelle

Monastère Novgorod

Altitudes and contrasts

March 19, 2014

Over the past weeks it seems like I did  nothing much but come and go between the mountains (4429ft) and the plains (1480ft) and yet I can assure you a lot happened in-between ! The seasonal flu’ hit several family members I looked after; Spring cleaning fever hit me too, as well as clearing out. I also took time to visit with friends here and there. During these constant trips up and down the valley, I became interested in  comparing the changes of Season according to the different altitudes.

The tall and almost bare larch trees in the Alps; snow melted in places but no green buds yet.arbres-mâts

A forest of slender masts in the town of Morat, at the edge of a lake. The boats are stlll protected from the cold and the frost that can cause so much damage in Winter. Soon they will sail on the lake though.

DSC00266

Under an unusual mountain fog, the slate roofs of the chalets are still covered with a thick layer of snow.

DSC00171

whereas the old red tiled roofs of the ancient houses shine under the sun near  Morat.

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Snow flowers over 4000ft

DSC00161

and  Spring first pink blossoms at the lakeside.  So welcome !

DSC00272

Someone you know, my Nino, is almost taking off a steep slope in the mountains, a simple joy he never gets tired of,

Ninio, snow

and a thirsty dog (20°C on that particular day) taking a bath and drinking water at the edge of the lake, after playing with his master on the grass.

DSC00271

Typical Winter activity…

hiver-pelle

and early Spring relaxing moments at the lake.

DSC00268Such are my landscapes at the moment. Winter is not yet over (far from it) and Spring is starting to shine down in the valley. I even saw apricot trees in bloom, a rare sight at the end of March. I wish you happy moments, joyful colors and a warmer sunshine in a blue sky.

En route for Spring !

A bus in the snow

December 3, 2013

It seems like a short while  since I wrote about Fall. Now Winter has arrived bringing snow, freezing temperatures and pleasures many look forward to. I have not been very present on my blog lately and I regret it. Troubled times and sad events kept me away. Sometimes you cannot help but just going along with the flow of life and all it gives you, good or less so. I missed reading your own blogs and sharing more of my thoughts and images. Recently though I had the opportunity of taking a few pictures and I thought I would share these moments with you.

It was the first day snow fell. I sat on one of those bright yellow postal buses driving up to a chalet in the mountains. It is a drive I always enjoy for the  breathtaking landscape and the comforting  feeling of not having to drive myself on the slippery  roads of this Season.DSCN0976

Few people were in the bus: not even ten of us including the driver. There were mostly young people  studying down in the valley and going up back home in the late afternoon.postal bus

Suddenly, exactly at this spot on the road, one of the four snow chains that equipped the large wheels of the bus broke. The driver stopped the engine and went out to see the damage. He did not look really happy as he started to replace the chain; his vehicle had just been thoroughly checked before Winter and he was surprised this should happen. We, the passengers, sat patiently, waiting, reading, listening to music or looking at the landscape. That was me.

snow tracks

I liked the blending of shades, golden trees surrounded by white fields. Snow had started falling again. A snowplough overtook us in the curve, the truck driver stopped and offered his help. “Thanks, it’s all right” our driver replied, “I’ll manage” ! And the truck  went off, a long evening of work ahead of him.

chasse-neige

The  snow fell on and on, softly but steadily. By then we were on our way again, very cautiously. Calmness was all around, a beautiful landscape and hardly any car on the road. I felt safe and warm in the bus and did not mind the delay.chalet, neige

I was looking at a few chalets on the way and imagined how cosy it must feel inside, around  a fireplace maybe, as snow was covering paths and mountain pastures.

Salins

The road was barely visible. Few vehicles had driven there since snow fell in the morning. It was slippery and the driver was extremely careful and slow in handling the bends and downhill slopes.

snowy roadYet it felt good being driven in such a beautiful and quiet environment. I trusted the driver and enjoyed the nature all around us. No more music  nor chatter in the bus, the only noise was the  sound of the big chained wheels on the crisp snow.  A dreamy and silent drive, one that brings peace to your mind and makes you feel good in your heart.forêt, neige

I would have loved to take a picture of the yellow bus in the snow but by the time we reached the village we were heading to, it was real dark. Our HD – Hero Driver – was not in the mood for a picture, too tired from so much concentration on the driving. Nice as he is, he promised I could take a picture  next time I am on his bus.

Please, excuse the poor quality or the images (too many reflections from the bus windows).

A weekend in Lucerne

February 11, 2013

Let me share with you a few  pictures of a weekend spent in the lovely city of Lucerne (Central Switzerland).

Snow had fallen lightly  bringing a soft touch on the roof of an ancient wood covered bridge, the Chapel’s Bridge. A strange sight to see this touristic city so quiet. The cold month of January did not attract many visitors but I enjoyed visiting Lucerne in Winter.Lucerne, pont 2

The quai along the Reuss river  was almost deserted but for a few silent seagulls.Lucerne, Reuss

I found this old postcard of the “Devil’s Bridge” over the same river (Reuss) but in the mountains, wild,  still untamed, before it reached the bottom of the valley and the lake of Lucerne. The small lower bridge was built in 1707 for people and their mules  having to cross the mountainous gorge. In 1830, a larger one was constructed for the stagecoaches travelling across the Alps. Finally a third bridge and a new road have been built in 1956. Still a very impressive sight!

File:Postcard First and Second Devils Bridge Uri.jpg

Only a few pedestrians, swans and ducks were to be seen along the lake promenade on this freezing Saturday morning. Some of the large and majestic hotels were closed waiting for better days to welcome tourists.

Lucerne, quai

What a totally different atmosphere in the evening ! There was a concert in the prestigious concert hall  of the KKL (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern). A real treat. The musicians of The Festival Strings of Lucerne presented two concertos by J.S.Bach as well as a Bohemian Serenade by A. Dvorak and J. Suk.KKL, 1

Beautiful and warm decor, talented musicians, an evening to remember .KKL, 2

I am hoping you will enjoy a part of the “Serenade” by A. Dvorak, “Tempo di Valse”. The musicians are not the ones I heard in Lucerne though but I love their lively interpretation too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjC2fP1652w

The Carnival fever was already tangible all over the city, here in the main railway station . The celebration was to start on mid-February (right now in fact). Lucerne is well known for his great carnival in my country, as well as Basel.

Lucerne, gare, Carnaval

Lucerne, gare, Carnaval, 2

A few weeks later Carnival has invaded Lucerne. This weekend musicians and the “guggenmusik” groups are playing and dancing in many areas of the city.  Here are two music groups, one in Lucerne, the other in the South of Switzerland.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLMtqbkhONg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKYWxwZEYSY

Saying “good-bye” to Lucerne by night from the roof of the KKL concert hall and to our relatives there who made our stay  so very pleasant. Thanks a lot Yves and Christiane.Lucerne, night

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapellbr%C3%BCcke

Dormancy

January 22, 2013

Scott Thomas’ first photography challenge this year is about Winter. http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/01/09/assignment-23-winter/ What does Winter mean to you ?

Here  is my contribution to Scott’s  assignment.

Winter 2012-2013 is  particularly cold and snowy in some areas of Switzerland and yet it is only January ! In an alpine area, this Season brings a lot to mind like the best, in particular the various kinds of sport activities to the most unpleasant and dangerous, like extreme coldness, icy roads,  avalanches. There is also one aspect that touches both the vegetal and animal world: dormancy. If you consider the time I spent away from my blog. you could also include humans 😉

During a train travel between Geneva and the Alps, I was looking at a landscape of vineyards under the snow. A lovely patchwork in white and grey shades, no bustling around, just quietness. I thought of nature and its resting time, dormancy.  I love this unique landscape of Lavaux terraced vineyards spreading down gently to the shore of Lake Léman. The whole area is protected by Unesco. Here are more pictures for you :

http://www.lavaux.com/

vignes, guérite

First snow in early December. As I opened the shutters one morning, I was surprised to see  whiteness all around. The air was chilly and silent. I smiled as I spotted what looked like two animal shapes sculpted by snow. A hare ? A turtle ? In any case, they were well into their dormancy period.lapin, tortue

In a more urban landscape,  some construction sites experience their own dormancy period in Winter. Work had stopped. A greenhouse in the botanical garden nearby was all lit up, a warm looking sight. The heat inside was such a contrast with the outside temperature. Tropical trees and plants were  blooming, no sign of rest there.chantier

A familiar sight, the terrace in front of our home. On the previous day, I sat there for a while,  letting my eyes wander on a landscape I am  never tired of looking at.  Now it is time for garden tables and chairs  to  take their own rest.terrasse, neige

The little hedgehock was on the way to his favourite spot to spend the Winter: a big heap of  leaves secured from Ninio-the-beagle’s investigations. Both had a rather traumatic meeting a while ago… and I doubt Ninio will ever tease the hedgehock again.  As I got nearer, he stopped his quick little steps and buried his head in the snow. Discreetly, I retreated and let him move on for a long Winter sleep.

hérisson, hiver

Someone just eaten a good part of my tasty and juicy apple. See below. I had left it on the picnic table while I taking a picture of Lake Livingston, Texas, at the end of a very hot July afternoon. The squirrel’s stomach was full and contented.  Not a bit disturbed by my presence, he lied down on the bench warmed by the sun, made himself comfortable and gave me a last look before entering  in a lethargic and sleepy state. Aestivation ? Another kind of dormancy, away from the coldness of hibernation in the North.

fatigué

Sleep well, greedy little one 🙂

How do you think my own dormancy looked like over this past month ?

Just like this. Books. Lost in books of fiction, history, biographies, memoir. A few have been read and enjoyed a lot. Others’ turn will come soon.books, Jan. 2013, HDR

output

Hello dear readers and friends,

Just sending you my best wishes for the New Year  and letting you know of a new photography assignment for all those who would like to participate. This mosaic shows you the thoughts that immediately came to mind as I looked around my wintery landscape.

Scott Thomas’ first photography assignment this year is about Winter. His question is :

“What does Winter mean to you ?

You will find alll information about this new challenge on Scott Thomas’ blog here :

http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/01/09/assignment-23-winter/

Deadline for this assignment is January 23rd, 2013.

My contribution will come soooon !

new year and gratefulness

January 10, 2012

The Twelfth Night celebration  is barely over and the traditional pancake is now a memory. It is usually baked with ground almonds, butter, eggs, sugar and flaky pastry. Sadly, this year  I forgot the main attraction: the hidden  lucky charm!  Five pairs of questioning eyes looked around the table wondering who had swallowed it… I confessed forgetting to put the tiny china king inside the cake before baking it. “Oh well, we enjoyed the cake anyway” was the main reaction.

2 0 1 2   is on its way indeed and I sincerely wish you a good health in a Happy, Peaceful and Hope-filled New Year.

The family holidays spent up in the Alps were very enjoyable. A lot of snow fell before Christmas. Skiers were overjoyed, drivers a little less and I was delighted since I mostly walk along mountain paths, skiing is no longer on my programme. The tracks are so peaceful during  Winter contrary to the slopes  which are very busy with skiers and snowboarders. These narrow paths are far less visited than in Summertime. Sometimes you might meet another hiker, a few people going snowshoeing or a hare, appearing and disappearing like a white flash.

Depending on the temperatures, some  bees hibernate in a hole in the ground from October till April. Another kind of bees  winter inside their beehives; the swarm  gathers near their supply of honey and with carefully measured flutter they create their own heating. Very clever and precious little insects.

Other kinds of animals will not even dream of hibernating, never even heard about it ! Like   this tireless and curious beagle, my Nino, persisting in his continuous investigations no matter the Season and temperature.

Reading, as you know, is very much part of my activities.  I received two books : “The Girl in the Blue Beret” by Bobbie Ann Mason. I have not started it yet but am looking forward to doing so soon.

“Stitches from the Soul”, Slave Quilts from the Ante-Bellum South, by Gladys-Marie Fry, Ph.D. A fascinating and moving reading through history and quilting.  Most of all it is about “the  roles and contributions of slave women to plantation life that had been swept under the rug of history”. (G.-M. Fry). This is certainly one of my most precious books on quilting.

The third book under the Christmas Tree was a “pre-Christmas gift” I offered myself. Not really planned but all the more appreciated. One day last December I went into a thrift-shop hoping to find a lamp for my sewing table. I came out with “Ansel Adams’ An Autobiography”. I am asking you : “Which of you, friends of photography, could have resisted buying this wonderful and rare book ?” I have always admired Ansel Adams’ pictures of nature, B&W treasures I could look at endlessly and just wonder. And now Ansel Adams’ autobiography is in my hands and I am enjoying every page of it !

Indeed I am grateful for this piece of luck I found between ancient chinaware and used, certainly much  loved wooden toys.

Grateful I am also

for you, reading these thoughts of mine

for my loved ones

for my three men’s love and thoughtfulness

for everyday’s little surprises

for lessons learnt the hard way

for my boys first drawings, cards and letters to me

for the Forty Shades of Green of Ireland

for Mozart’s clarinet concerto, Adagio

For gingko leaves in the Fall

for my mother’s gift of fabrics

for my unique and favourite sister

for Elvis

for the sea air

for Nino’s  loving and almond-shaped eyes

for the Connemara hills covered with yellow broom flowers

for Syracuse in Sicily

for Roy, Juan y la familia

for snow falling silently, lightly

for the birchtrees forests in Russia

for Dvorak, Smetana, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Vivaldi, Bach

for Indian spices

for Italian cuisine

for a simple cabin somewhere

for B. Kingsolver, S. Cisneros. A. Munroe, F. Sagan

for a glass of Gewurztraminer and grilled salmon

for cello music

for the thoughts in my quilts

for my friends, everywhere, at any time

for, for, for so much more !

Have you ever tried writing your liste of people, things, moments, places, music, food, etc. you are grateful for ? There is a lot to learn about oneself, I think.

Thanks to marah for suggesting this  “List of  100 Things that give you life, the things that matter”.

 

Mail in the letterbox

February 28, 2011

The day started under a cold mist but with a definite hint of a blue sky above. As often at this Season, mornings look dull and grey. Then slowly but surely the fog disappears leaving behind soft layers of this Winter haze.Off I went to the woods for a morning walk with my faithful little companion, as watchful –  and playful –  as ever.

It was a quiet stroll, no encounter of any kind although Nino could confirm you there were some deers around, for sure. Unmistakable tracks and scents tickled his nose.After a pleasant and  lazy walk  through narrow paths and slightly frosted fields, we were back home. One of us decided to take a nap…

… the other went to fetch the daily paper and mail in the letterbox. And then came The Surprise ! A letter from abroad with beautiful stamps that suggested forest,  berries and little visitors creeping under the pine trees. I immediately loved those stamps  and will keep them in a special little booklet. Smalls or inchies 😉

The content of this  letter sent by Gerry in Michigan  http://torchlakeviews.wordpress.com/ was even more appreciated !

An elegant handwriting on a card,  a fine drawing  by Thomas W. Ford : “Queen Ann’s Lace” flower. In Gerry’s  envelope I also found two delightful postcards by artist, printer and naturalist Gwen Frostic. The cards are original block-prints by the artist. I simply love them !  Precious art pieces from an amazing person I learned about on the following site. It is well worth reading about Gwen Frostic’s life and achievements.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010506005958/http://www.freep.com/womenhistory99/qgwen1.htm

Many, many thanks Gerry for this thoughtful letter and gifts. If my day started under the Winter fog, it certainly continued under a bright sun 🙂 This type of “real-mail” is precious indeed.

Long before her death, Gwen Frostic wrote her epitaph:
“Here lies one doubly blessed.
She was happy and she knew it.”