Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chalet Shenanigans - Chapter 19

Summertime in the Alps, aka Who Knew Burkas Had Found Us

We had to hurry home from our Venice trip because I was expecting around 25 people at the chalet for “La Fete du Quatorze Juillet”, also known as July 14th, the French day of independence where they celebrate cutting off Marie Antoinette’s and various other royals’ heads.  Unlike America’s  independence which was won via a legitimate war with uniforms and troops and everything, the French just got up one morning after a nice cafĂ© au lait and croissant and said “today, we kill the king.  Oh, and his snooty-assed wife, too”.

Really, you can’t blame them.  I’ve been to Versailles.  I’ve seen Marie Antoinette’s bathroom.  If I was a French peasant, I would’ve revolted, as well.  I mean, she had people whose job it was to wash her pits and wipe her ass and change her in and out of her outfits 10 times a day.  I should admit, though, that, at one time, I had people who did this for me, too.  Their name was “Mom”.

So, my experience with Independence Day parties of any nature involves a lot of outdoor cooking, a lot of beer and fireworks.  As usual, there’s always a dilemma in Europe over bagged ice, i.e. it doesn’t exist.  (I need to insert here for the locals that the Coop in Ouchy has installed an ice chest with bagged ice.  Now, don’t all go at once!  Chill!  Ha!) I’ve discussed my normal plan of attack before in this blog where I start making ice in ice cube trays a week ahead of time and store it in zip-locs in the freezer.  Even using that method, however, one is severely limited because our freezers over here are so little, one can only store and make so much.

For this party, I had bought a really cool, old galvanized tin baby bathtub at a brocante fair that I was going to use as the beer cooler.  I began making ice two days ahead of time and then, in a HUGE stroke of serendipity, one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of a baby shower where the hostess had filled some pink and blue balloons with water, frozen them and used them to chill down her champagne.

Well, I copied that idea in about a New York minute.  Mind you, I couldn’t find just red, white and blue balloons, (conveniently, the colors of both the American and French flags), so I had to buy bags and bags of multi-colored balloons and sort out all the pinks, purples and yellows to fill my needs.  (P.S., if anybody in Lausanne needs some green, pink and purple balloons—call me.)

I filled them with water out of the tap and put them in the freezer and on party day, I surrounded my beers in my baby bathtub with my frozen red, white and blue balloons.  GENIUS!  I made about 100 cupcakes decorated with marzipan French flags and Eiffel Towers that came out looking like erect penises but what are you going to do?  Is it my fault that La Tour Eiffel looks like a phallic symbol?  I don’t think so.

We have an outdoor firepit on our deck which burns real wood which gave me an epiphany.  Bonfire = hot dogs and marshmallows cooked on sticks over an open flame, right?  So, I made a “kid’s table” with little Cokes in glass bottles, hot dogs, marshmallows and a new paddle ball set.  The paddle ball, itself, was lost somewhere on the mountain after about 3 minutes, but they (read all the kids, but mostly the little French kids) LOVED the hot dogs and marshmallows.  So much so that one of the 4-year-olds puked all over the deck around 9 p.m. but, you know, that just means the party is a success when the guests start projectile vomiting.

In preparation for the July 14th festivities, Mr. Big and I did manage to finish the powder room renovation at the chalet before they arrived. 

All except for the actual glass shower door, which had to be special ordered from the hardware store in Switzerland.  We are currently running a pool on when, exactly, this shower door will arrive. 

Someone took February, 2013, already, which was going to be my bet, so I am not participating in the pool.   Let me just say to those of you who are new to Europe, and to Switzerland, in particular, that if you need something “a mesure” or made to measure, in English, that you had better be the kind of person who plans ahead.  Years ahead.  Yeah.

Okay, fair warning, to Domestic Son and his wife.  DO NOT LET GRAND ONE AND GRAND TWO see the following pictures.  Seriously.  Our family is a “winter vacation” kind of family.  We are a SKIING family, i.e. we only ever used to go to the Alps when there was sufficient snow.  Now that Mr. Big and I have bought this chalet, we are here all the time.  Here’s news:  these mountains and these stars and this weather and this lighting and all of the outdoor activities are FREAKIN’ AWESOME in the summer.  It is MAGICAL, people, and you know I am not easily impressed.

Just outside our back door, the village of Chatel has just installed a mini-zipline, a mini-rock climbing wall and one of those bouncy/bungee/trampoline things.  8 feet from our house.  If one of you tells my grandson, I will never speak to you again.  BTW, Small Son, if the whole college thing doesn’t work out, this bungee guy’s job is awesome.  He doesn’t start work until 2 p.m.  Now, granted all he does for five hours is strap kids into a harness and re-start them if they just don’t get the whole process, but, hey, it’s a living and you don’t have to get out of bed until 1:48 p.m.

I went on a walk this morning at 1600 meters, yes, I am fifty, but Europe makes you into a crazy person wherein you find yourself doing silly things like walking up giant mountains, and, I tell you, it was AMAZING.  The view over my village, walking across ski slopes that I’ve skied down all winter, sharing my walking trail with daredevil mountain bikers covered in mud (that I felt superior over because they were going DOWN while I was walking UP),  and finally reaching the top where I enjoyed watching the people partaking of the Fantasticable.

What is the Fantasticable, you may ask?  Oh, my dear friends.  Let me tell you.  All during the winter, whilst riding the cablecar up the mountains to ski, one sees banners for the “Fantasticable”.  It runs only in the summer.  I assumed, (wrongly), that is was like some 50-meter long cheesy zip-line half-way up the mountain.  No, madame, you were so beyond wrong.  

The Fantasticable in Pre-le-Joux is not for the faint-hearted.  It is not for pregnant women or people under the age of 15.  It is not for people who smoke, faint at the sight of blood or those who want to live to see the next day.  It is SERIOUS flying, folks, like up where the airplanes go.  One takes 2 cable cars up to 1900 meters, lies flat on their belly hovering a few feet above a platform, and then some stoner (aka a mountain employee) UNCLIPS you from all that is holy and good OUT INTO SPACE BETWEEN TWO MOUNTAIN TOPS approximately 1.5 miles above the earth.   I actually have a really fancy camera, but even my awesome camera would not take a good picture of these brave souls because they were just too high.  It, (my camera), thought I was trying to take a picture of an airplane.  Truly.

Upon seeing the Fantasticable the first time, Mr. Big said, “No, ma’am.  My body will never be seen lying prone upon that apparatus.”  Fine.  Whatever.  I CANNOT wait until I can entice one of my three children here and then I will be posting the MOST AWESOME PICTURES EVER SEEN on Facebook of a 50 year old woman flying above the earth on the Fantasticable.  I’m just saying’.

Anyway, my 5 hour hike today above my village, dodging mountain-mud bikers all the while was the stuff of which dreams are made.  Oh, before I forget the best part, (which, probably, only my daughter will think is funny), apparently, the Arabs have discovered Chatel.   Yes, Charming Daughter, today I saw Burkas on the Bob-Luges.  I tried to take a picture for you but I was inside the bus at the time and the window made it all fuzzy.  Bummer.  You will have to come see for yourself.  (But don’t tell my grandkids because they have no idea how fun it is here in the summer!)

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