Wednesday, September 16, 2009

back thanks to Keri!!!

ahhhh, I am back on my blog. Wow it has been a long time. I was inspired to return thanks to Keri's funny orginal creative - just totally Keri - kitchen blog.

I had just wanted to comment on her slight rant on US waste management that had caused her to make her own yogurt when I refound my blogself :)

Anyway - are you interested in how waste management is done in Switzerland? Probably not - but if your community could take on just a few of these things it would make a huge difference.

Firstly, my husband and I have a 35 liter (about half a Hefty) bag of trash BIweekly. Nothing, right?!

That's because we can recycle: compost, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass, tin, metal, oil, batteries, old clothes and and and ....

But the most interesting thing is how the waste is disposed of! No mountains of trash covered with sod and a poor stinky tree on the side of the express way!!! No, or garbage is burned in enclosed burning halls. The bi-product of which is steam. This steam is then used as an energy source. Actually, all hospitals in Zurich are heated as a result of good waste management. And all the organic tomatoes from the region are grown in greenhouses heat as a result of this trash burning.

Even cooler is Spain - where they have fields of solar panels in the desert! Can someone tell me why Las Vegas is taking more advantage of the only real resource they have - the sun!

So, Keri - I think your yogurt is a great small step - we should all be making such!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tribute to my Aunt Zal

May 7th, 2007

Dear beloved family, and treasured friends and colleagues of Auntie Zal,

My tribute to my Aunt comes from thousands of miles away where I now sit in my garden here in Switzerland. The roses are already blooming, much too early for this time of year, as everyone is saying. And I am reminded of how time plays tricks on you. Once you think you know when flowers should bloom, leaves should fall, babies should be born and souls should pass – something like this happens.

Just three weeks ago I was at Aunt Zal’s bedside laughing about one of her favorite movies, showing her a picture I had just taken of the Wrigley Building on a beautiful spring morning downtown. And now here you all are.

The last memory of my aunt is of when I said goodbye to her before I headed back to Switzerland. As may be imagined, it was quite emotional for both of us. Heavy tears filled our eyes and hearts. Tears for the time we wouldn’t get to spend together. Tears for the pain we both felt. Tears of loss. And just at the moment when I was sure our tears would turn into sobs – we laughed - deep hardy Zalazar laughs.

It was then that I realized she was teaching me something, teaching me how life is full of extremes. And that one secret to happiness is not being afraid to explore those extremes. It was a lesson she had taught me my whole life.

My Auntie Zal knew a lot.

She knew how to appreciate an ice-cold beer at the ballpark as much as a dry martini made from top shelf vodka with 2 blue-cheese olives.

She knew about fine art and we spent hours together at the Art Institute. But she also loved Toy Story and squealed when she showed us her Woody collection.

She knew how to enjoy a party – we all know that. But her trips out west showed us that she was never afraid to be alone and in fact treasured the freedom it allowed her.

She knew how to value something. She never threw away a comfortable t-shirt, no matter how holey. On the other hand, she never seized to look sophisticated in her Versace glasses.

She knew what manners were. She mastered the art of being polite, and yet not submissive. Christy told me,” her nurses said she was the nicest patient they had and she really was.”

And boy did she know how to be welcoming. She often picked us up from the airport. She would stand amongst an anxious crowd at the international terminal – our little auntie wearing a baseball cap and shorts (whatever the weather). And as we all know her, she never had problems to push her way through. All the same, when we finally met with open arms and a high-pitched scream, she would give me the most incredible hug. A hug I felt all the way in my toes. Yet, when it was time to leave, she knew how to let go. She never made you doubt a decision even if she knew it was taking you away from her.

She knew what it meant to be open. She welcomed all types of people into her life; even loving a little longhaired Swiss musician as if he was her own nephew. At the same time, she could accept others’ intolerance – understanding why some just don’t understand.

She knew a lot about words. I mean who could write a better itinerary or a more provocative email? Be that as it may, she is still probably the only person I know who actually read the Louis and Clarke biography by choice.

But most of all, she knew what it meant to be a woman. She knew that to be successful you have to be tough and gentle and the difficulty is finding the right balance. She knew that a woman needs to have a strong back, yet soft hands. She knew that a woman’s strengths are in an open ear and warm heart. She knew that you could still be tough and cry.

As we do now.

I assume, if I were there, I would look around and see many different people: young and old, married and single, blue and white-collar, liberal and conservative, modest and wealthy---- but all rich.

Rich with the experience of knowing Maria Sonja Zalazar – our Auntie Zal.
Rich from the lessons she taught us.
And rich with a warm heart filled with memories.

You may have all seen the picture of her canoeing towards snowcapped mountains. I’d like to believe that she is canoeing her way to paradise. And when she gets to the shore she is met by her black mustang convertible. However, instead of having to pop in her favorite cruising James Brown CD – she’s got the godfather of soul himself.

He’s singing about feeling good and she’s reminding him that it is a woman’s world, and not a man’s!

I love you Auntie Zal and am looking forward to meeting again.

Your little niece,


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Farewell Maria

In Memory of My Beloved Auntie Zal
May 1st, 1949 - May 3rd, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Aunt Zal

Well I just got back from visiting sweet home Chicago. It was wonderful to rediscover the city with a friend of mine from Switzerland - as I did so many years ago as a girl with my Aunt Zal.

Unfortunately, my beloved Aunt, as you may know, is rather ill. Nearly 6 weeks ago we found out that she is suffering from acute leukemia. And since then she has had several complications and is currently unable to get out of bed, eat much at all, and is at times rather incoherent.

I love her so much and dont know who I would be without her rich influence on my life.

We are all just hoping for the best!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

sunset solothurn

The weather has been wonderful this winter and this was a sunset from a few days ago!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Here is something I wrote for my grandpa's 80th birthday...

Our Dear Grandpa, Alfred Carollo

When I first found out about Aunt Kim gathering stories for a storybook for Grandpa’s 80th birthday, I could hardly wait to get my many treasured memories of my beloved grandfather down on paper. For weeks I searched my mind for the most fitting fable-like memory, which embodied the greatness of this man’s life and its effect on his entire family.

I remembered Grandpa swinging all us grandkids between his legs like the little monkeys we were. This, of course, eventually led to the Halloween filled with candy-eating-cousins dressed as monkeys and a big-kid-grandpa playing the organ. Grandpa taught us how to be kids and he liked to provoke the parents, particularly Granny, as much as we did!

I also remember Easter egg hunts and dilly bars from DQs drive-thru. And who could forget the beach outings? Running up and down dunes, building sand castles and picnicking were special to us because they were special to him. All of us cousins had our first “peelings” as we were rubbed down and freed of all the sand our orifices had contracted on the beach before we were allowed in his dear van. Grandpa taught us how to enjoy the finer things like camping, fishing and enjoying family.

All these were just my childhood memories.

As a teenager I remember a grandpa that made me feel beautiful with tight bear hugs and pats on the bottom and a simple, “hi, doll!” We were all lucky to have a grandfather who attended our graduations and school events with interest and pride.

But Grandpa impressed me the most at wedding times.

A week before Tommy and I got married we engaged Grandpa to pick up Tommy’s family from the airport. With more than enough change for the tolls in a cup up front, we got to O’Hare nice and early (about 2 hours before their arrival). The three of us waited at the gate drinking coffee and just talking. Grandpa talked about the garden club at church and cooking for the handicapped. But he also spoke of marriage and about how couples should take time for one another and have common interests.

Grandpa welcomed the von Rohr’s like long lost relatives and they felt at home with him instantly. He touched Tommy’s family with a goodness that crossed both language and culture. Even today they talk about that van and “Al” and Anna Rosa, Tommy’s mom, always gets a tear in her eye when she speaks of him.

However, at the end of my search for the ONE right memory to encompass them all, I instead came to realize much more.

There is no ONE thing that makes Grandpa so special to us.

Grandpa is dear to us because of who he is and what he stands for as a whole.

He is a man who knows how to play and enjoy life on an everyday basis.
He is a man in touch with nature and his environment.
He is no stranger to hard work and in fact thrives on it.
He is a modest man although richer than those with much thicker wallets.
He is a man who puts family above all and everyone who knows him will tell you the same.
He is a Christian who never has to remind you of the fact; it’s obvious in every aspect of his life.
He is a man that never has to tell you what is right and wrong because his actions say it all.
He is a man whose deep love for you and genuine happiness almost overwhelm you just by being in his presence.

Grandpa, you are the best example of a man, husband, father, and grandfather, there could ever be and all of us in your family are eternally blessed to have you in our lives.

You are our heart and all that is good in us.

I love you.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Day One

Well this is my first attempt at starting my own blog. I thought I could use it just to keep a record of daily events here in Switzerland so that friends and family in the States and elsewhere can check out how things are with us! Have fun!