Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Audio Tour of Our Trip to Europe

After 10 days in Europe, I have over 300 pictures in my iPhoto collection. But it wasn't just the sights from this trip that made it memorable—it was the sounds. So I tried to capture some. And now they're here for your listening pleasure.

It all started in Freiburg, Germany when my niece took us to a little botanical garden. The flowers are just starting to bloom and the sun felt so good after the rain we'd had the day before. But while we were walking around enjoying the tulips and azaleas, we heard a really strange sound coming from one of the ponds. At first, we thought there might be cats fighting or an injured animal in one of the bushes. As I walked down to investigate, the sound stopped. I waited. As it slowly began to start again, I realized it was frogs in the pond. Screaming German frogs. Never heard anything like them before.

Our second auditory surprise came when we were leaving our friends' house in Gebenstorf, Switzerland. We were in the car, climbing up a lovely green Swiss mountain (probably a hill by their standards) on a crumbly, single-lane gravel road when all of the sudden Mr. W's iPad turned itself on and started playing the Enya song "Far and Away." It was like it had hand-picked the perfect soundtrack to go with the mountain views. We cracked up. You can listen to the song here while you look at some of the pictures from that part of our drive...

As we drove from Gebenstorf to Lausanne, we decided to stop in Gruyere, because, why would we NOT take a tour of the Gruyere cheese factory and get free samples? Duh. We decided to check out the little town and castle while we were there and I immediately fell in love with the sound of cowbells clinking as the cows grazed in nearby grass. There's nothing like the sight of the Swiss alps and the sound of cowbells to make you want fondue for dinner. (Which, of course, we had our first night in Lausanne.) Here's a clip of my new bovine buddies:

While wandering around Lausanne, we were greeted by a huge pipe organ as soon as we entered the St. Francois Cathedral. Another treat for the ears. We were the only two in the church and it felt like we were being serenaded as we snapped pictures of the stained glass windows.

Now that we're back home, the sights and sounds aren't nearly as exciting. The loud hum of the shop vac. The angles and lines of new floor planks, spread all over the bedroom to acclimate to the house before they're installed. The whining of hungry cats. The new wall-mounted toilet, turned on its side resting in the middle of the living room carpet. The silence that settles in at night, begging us to get over our jet lag.

I miss the cows. And the cheese.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What to Do When You and Your Husband Want to Give Each Other a Five-Fingered Hug Around the Neck

Remodeling might be one of the greatest tests of a marriage. That and errant hair removal. And traveling with your family. Anywhoo, needless to say, things have been a little tense around our house over the last few weeks.

Mr. W pretty much asked me for a trial separation last Tuesday. "I think you should go to LA for a few days," he said. To which I sat up taller and replied, "NO WAY." Someone has to stick around here to nag and make sure the house doesn't fall into a deeper abyss of disarray and dust.

Having a mattress in our living room and random crap from our bedroom shoved into every available crevice of the house is wearing on us both.

But in the midst of the chaos, I learned a really important lesson about how to break the tension in difficult times.

Mr. W was huffing around trying to get these drywall shim things installed before the contractors arrived the next day while I was wading through the detritus in the backyard, trying to clean up the chicken coop. There was an egg in the coop, so I set it inside the door of the remodel with the intention of putting it in the fridge when I was done outside.

Then I heard a loud, "Awwwwww," from inside our new bedroom.

Immediately, I knew what had happened.

Mr. W had stepped on the raw egg and now it was all over his foot and the floor.

And this, my friends, is what saved our marriage.

Because I couldn't help but laugh hysterically and let go of some of my anger over his hoarding of RC helicopter gear and 31 t-shirts on hangers that I had to squeeze into my closet. I don't know if he stopped being mad at me in that moment—I mean, I did just make him step on a raw egg—but I felt like things improved after that.

So the lesson here is that a little laughter can go a long way. Maybe next time I'll try a banana peel or a bottle of seltzer.

And now, without further adieu, here is an update on our add-on progress:

We're so close to the end. Well, sort of the end. The end of the contractor and mega mess phase. The laying of the floors and installation of the bathroom finishings will be their own animal. But likely not as draining as the hardcore construction.

And if they turn out to be as draining, I'm not going to worry. Because I know exactly where to find an endless supply of raw eggs.