Swiss Winter Wonderland

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Author:  Pete
Location:  Europe

Past the chilly months in a winter wonderland that is the Alps.  Coaching the school’s ski team kept me happily on the slopes and learning the best places to find powder.  The school has its own chalet in Wengen, so we were there often, as well as other little mountain villages like Zermatt under the Matterhorn.

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Miranda looks more and more like a real pregnant lady every week.  Maybe it’s good that we ease into parenthood.  It still doesn’t seem real yet.  It’s all fun and games until someone’s water breaks.  We do get a lot of nods from passerbys.  Everyone seems to smile at us knowingly.

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Miranda and I feel well loved.  We’ve had a small army of family and friends make the pilgrimage from all over to come and see us.  I think everyone is worried we’ll drop off the radar again once there’s an infant in our midst.  Miranda’s brother Casey and his buddies Mike and Stacy came for a week of rowdy fun.  We drove up to Munich for some historical tavern-crawling.  In the Munich Hofbrauhaus they only serve liters of beer!  Let me reiterate, beer is served only in liters!  Back in the Alps we went night tobogganing down kilometers of tooth-chattering, unlit trails.

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Miranda’s other sibs, Adam and Becky, came to see us too.  We piled in the car and drove over the mountains to Italy.  Venice during Carnival was full of energy.  The gloomy weather made the ambiance even better, swirling around the plague masks and the elaborate costumes.  Back Swiss-side we jumped on the slopes and spent a day battling gravity.

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Not to be outdone, Liza, Felix, and Jovia came down from Frankfurt a couple of weekends this winter.  The idea was to hit the slopes together, and although we never hit great snow, but we did have a great time with them.

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My folks came in on a European baby-flyby trip.  We went up hiking in Engelberg as the spring thaw relinquished the slopes to the grass.  Paragliders soared like clouds of bees.  I’m salivating to get my kit over here.

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Also our climbing buddies Ben and Elizabeth came from Abu Dhabi to see us.  We used to climb twice a week when we were teaching in Chile.  It’s been three years since we last climbed together and it was so great to be back on the crag with them!

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So that was our flood of friends and family!  It’s so wonderful to spend time with everyone, especially after being off radar for several years.  Although it’s sad to part ways at then end, Winnie the Pooh’s words give me comfort.  “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  How lucky we are indeed.

 

 

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Re-Entry to the Midwest

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Author:  Pete
Location: Midwest, USA

Somehow I again find myself writing in the dark hours of the night, mid-ocean, aboard a turbulent vessel. It’s come sooner than expected, too. This time the command of the craft is not mine, but with two hundred airline passengers aboard, I’m happy that someone else is at the helm. We’re flying to Switzerland. The summer has come and gone fleetingly as usual, and now here I am, ruminating through the silence of a night watch once more, looking out across black seas.

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Our dizzying return to civilization felt like an astronaut’s re-entry to the atmosphere.  After rocketing back towards the gravity of the Midwest and debriefing with mission control, we wobbled about a bit on unsteady legs, adjusting to the world’s forgotten fundamental laws.  Like any good produce-impaired cosmonaut, we gorged ourselves on fresh fruits and veggies upon returning to Earth, but retained a strange inclination towards freeze-dried foods.

It was revitalizing to be home, to see family and friends, and to not worry so much about the boat.  I tried to keep a cool demeanor about the whole nautical escapade.  It felt like gloating to hint at our feeling of accomplishment about the Tayrona years and our excitement about moving to Switzerland.  I’d sometimes brush off the upcoming move as a tiresome necessity of our occupation or omit entire portions of my life in casual conversation to avoid sounding like a madman.

Summer was like a good kielbasa though: hot, zesty, and fully packed.  Miranda and I had a whirlwind tour of California to see my gramma and uncle Chuck, my cousin’s wedding, and Miranda’s buddies.  Looking west across the Pacific I swear I could see myself standing on Australia’s shores looking back over the water.  I felt like waving to myself.  

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After So-Cal we zipped back to the midwest for another wedding in Wisconsin and well deserved R&R with friends and family on the lakes.  What we didn’t do much of this summer was document anything.  Throughout the boat trip I had an insatiable urge to chronicle everything new that went on.  At home it was refreshing to fall back into the well-known summertime rhythm of sunshine-filled days, friend-filled evenings, and over-filled stomachs.  We’ve eaten pretty much constantly since we’ve been home.  In acquiescence to my palate’s protests though, I’ve been shunning fish, rice, and coconut like a Mennonite cold-shouldering rumspringant youth.

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Sleeping in a motionless bed and ignoring little noises has been an adjustment. More than once I’ve found myself on my feet in the middle of the night perplexed about how to get on deck to check the anchor.  However, I’m enjoying water that comes cold and hot from the tap any time you want it, and weeks on end free of mechanical troubleshooting!

There are still some lingering boat-related compulsions of which I’m trying to wean myself off.  Sometimes I’ll break down and revert to old weather-monitoring habits, looking for prime kite and windsurfing conditions in Lake Michigan.  Kitesurfing is my methadone and there were several blowout days this summer to wind-binge.  I even got out for a sailboat regatta with some family friends who needed extra crew.  I’m sure they heard about our nautical exploits and were anticipating their new deckhand to be some kind of sailing savant. Jokes on them!  I tacked and gybed more in those three hours of Wednesday night beer-can racing than in an entire month cruising to the Marquesas.  It was palliative to be on deck again though, working the sheets and halyards even if the lines wasted my now un-calloused palms.  It certainly helped my withdrawls.  Who knew that one could be a sailing junkie?  Pirates are often described as having a monkey on their back, but I just thought that was a figure of speech.

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So that’s the ball game!  Back to reality, as much so as moving to Switzerland provides. Too bad our good Tayrona hasn’t sold yet.  Australia’s elections slowed the buying market down in the past two months so things have cooled off there a touch.  Aside from that, I can’t fathom any better outcome of our odyssey.  Now, on to other adventures in Europe!  We’ll keep posting from the other side of the pond.  Tschüss!

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Okay, fine!  So I made up rumspringant!  Big deal!  Rumspringa is a period of time in an adolescent Mennonite’s life where recalcitrant behavior is accepted.  I chose to throw caution to the wind on my own literary rumspringa and adjective-ize the ever-loving snot outta that noun!  Take that!  Grammatical correctness be-damned and long live italics!

Summer in Wisconsin 2014

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Author: Pete

Location: Seymour, WI

 

Hit the ground running in Wisconsin after what will become, I’m sure, a most well known jaunt around the top of Lake Michigan. We were immediately off to Gramma’s to make pickles and bread for the upcoming wedding party.

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Spent some time getting the ‘shop’ (an airplane hanger sized pole barn) ready for the wedding party. Since Miranda’s family is so big, many people weren’t able to make it down to Cartagena last February. So we decided to have a big celebration back home. Preparing the shed involved moving out the massive tractors, fork lifts, and equipment, installing new lights, laying down gravel in the driveway, and power-washing everything clean.

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The day before the party, Seymour had a hot air balloon rally that was pretty spectacular. We drove around spotting the globes.

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The following day, everyone arrived a little early for the party and we fired it up right away. Family and friends all flooded in and made merry. We even had a pretty good contingency from Michigan come over to represent!

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Took a nice photo shoot during the day in my ‘dowery’, a beautiful 1965 Ford Mustang that Miranda and her dad had fixed up when she was in middle school.  Pretty fun.

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After a little clean up we headed north to decompress at the cottage the Pashouwer clan always goes to in the summer. We played on the water, fished, ate, and made more merry.

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Along the way were numerous other shindigs and outings including a wedding of our friends Kendra and Chris, a dinner with Cody and Marsha, and some diesel tips from Miranda’s pops.

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And then with some trepidation we were off to Burning Man in our penultimate gig before Florida!