Dear friends and family:
Friday marked the end of our first month here. On the one hand, it has been a very rough month for us. On the other, we are improving steadily in many aspects and finally beginning to find "the good stuff".
On Monday, we heard that the house we saw last week is ours for sure. For those interested in finding it on a map, (or maybe sending us mail after we move in) it is :
Chemin de L'Orme 14
While our contract states the move-in date is December 1, we have spoken to the current tenents and they are moving out at the beginning of November. This means that we can be in by the middle of November, latest. It is still a long time to wait, and we are not looking forward to the next month, but it is now with the knowledge that there is an end in sight.
We have also begun planning our "big" trips, which was one of the main reasons for coming out here in the first place. In October, the girls have a week off so we decided to go someplace close, someplace fun, and someplace we were guarenteed to find things for the kids to do. Yes, people, we are in Switzerland, just 2 hours from the pastoral farmlands of France, the hearty beer houses of Germany, and the balmy coasts of Italy. But we're going to .... EURODISNEY!!
In November, there is just one place we could possibly imagine going. November 16 heralds the opening of the Harry Potter movie, so we will be in London that weekend. We'll take in the show, hop a train to King's Cross Station, try to find Diagon Alley and.. oh yeah... maybe stop at the Palace, Big Ben, Picadilly Circus, and Madam Trouseau's. Seriously, we have been told that England is a great place to escape to when you just can't stand another minute of non-English. So we are using this trip just to get a sense of costs, travel times, etc. We know that we will be back later to make a more thorough investigation.
Finally, in December we are going to plan to head south to Debbie's birthplace. We will probably swing through Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville for a week or so during the winter holidays.
Yom Kippur for us was quiet, but not as difficult as last week's Rosh Hashana. We decided that a quiet service at home was the best choice for everyone, rather than mad rushes and hour-long drives to unfamiliar synagogues. Instead we had some time for quiet reflection and a chance to talk about our hopes and concerns for the coming year, and to put some closure on the one just past.
This week also saw the completion of Debbie's "Living in Lausanne" courses. She has made a couple of good friends during the course, and also gathered a large list of contacts for specific issues (people who live up near the new house, playgroup contacts, French instructors, etc). All in all it was a very worthwhile course, and we think it has gone a long way to helping us continue in our transition.
On Saturday, the cows came home. No really, they really came home. This weekend marks the beginning of the colder season up in the higher grazing areas, so the cows are herded down to lower pasture for winter. This is done with great pomp and ceremony in many villages, and we drove up to one (Charmey) for the festival. Every so often cowherders dressed in traditional costume came through with cattle (and sheep, donkeys, goats, etc) The animals got all dressed up too - with floral arrangements in their horns, enormous cowbells around their necks, and a festive gleam in their eye. On top of this, there were alpine horn-blowers (I'm not sure if you call that a band, a chorus, or something else), yodelers, and choirs. In the village streets you were able to buy some of the local cheeses, meats, and crafts like lace and wood-toys. The kids had a great time, the food was wonderful, and the atmosphere was very... well, Swiss. The only person who was disappointed was Isabelle, who t
hought there should have been rides. We offered to put her up on a cow, but for some reason she wasn't excited about that idea.
Sunday was another good day for us. A town about an hour away had a "home days" type fair (they called it "Festival spectaulaire pour enfants". I think the grown-ups around here need to use their kids as an excuse to have a party). It had marrionette shows, folk music, and the more mundane face-painting, caroselles, etc. We met up with 2 other couples and spent a few hours there. Once the kids had exhausted all possibilities (plus all available spare cash), the weather cleared up so we all decided to head up the mountain. "up the mountain" is sort of a funny term here, since you are many to choose from. In any case, we picked one and drove up. And up. And up. When we got to the top, we were treated to a spectacular view of Lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains, valleys and vineyards. We spent a little time at a cafe up there, and when the temperature started dropping and the kids started getting antsy, we headed back down again.
Also this week, the girls started scouts. This is just like the US girlscout troup, and is another great way for them (and the parents) to get to know each other, get involved, and stay active.
Joram (who was not interested in becoming a scout this week) has started taking his first steps. Right now it is tentative, and only one or two at a time, but we know the end of crawling is near. Which means the end of our sanity as well! While Joram continues to express himself loudly and with a profusion of words, they are still in a language known only to himself.
This week is going to be (we think) a little quieter and more normal. We know we need to spend some time learning good routes from the new house to school so we will probably do a lot of driving in the evenings. Debbie has plans to meet up with a few people - for shopping, exploring, and getting around. We also need to start up our French lessons again, so that is on the good old "honeydo" list.
Oh, and we have to start packing our mouse ears for the trip.
As always, we hope this letter finds you all in good health and better spirits, and that the coming year is one of joy, happiness, and contentment.
Leon, Debbie, Heather, Isabelle, and Joram.