RDP Thursday: Pebble

stones

“Thank you for the interview Mr. Widmer” said the journalist.

“No problem” was the answer “I am glad to oblige” and the journalist left the mountain chalet situated in a village embedded between the high alpine mountains.

Fritz Widmer was now sunk in thought. He had recently celebrated his eightieth birthday and was honoured that the newspaper had remembered him and wanted an interview based on his mountain climbing experiences. Those days were not even so far gone. He was lucky to be able to maintain his good health and did his last “four thousander” (meters) only a couple of years before. However, now was the time to forget hopping around in the alps and to settle down and watch how the youngsters succeeded. Of course, they had much more modern equipment than he did; steel with a strength not known in the first days of mountaineering and ropes, no longer ropes but synthetic, nylon, being able to bear a weight that was not able in the earlier days.

The journalist wanted to know about the first ascent he made on the north wall of the Number One as it was known. He told them what they wanted to hear, but reflecting on his actual experience he had left some of it unmentioned.

The north wall was overhanging; a difficult feat for even an experienced climber, but Fritz and his colleague Emil had decided to be the first to do it; two young men who met at the university and had the same hobby, mountain climbing. They departed in the early evening for the ascent to the mountain hut, maintained by the local climbing organisation. This was the first step in their climb and their last night together before they got to the actual ascent. At four in the morning the two men left the hut, laden with their rucksacks containing all the tools they needed and roped together. The weather forecast was good; a sunny clear day awaited them. They knew they had to get off early in the morning before the ice started melting, before the mountain path got too treacherous and slippery. They had good shoes with spikes, but having the shoes was one part of the adventure, knowing how to use them was the other.

“How do you feel Fritz” said Emil “do you think it will be a good climb?”

“As long as the weather stays fine” was the answer “and no clouds arrive. It could get dangerous the higher we get. I just hope we have no loose stones falling on our heads.”

Both men knew that would be the most dangerous of the adventure. An overhanging wall always contained its secrets and stones were the most unpredictable. Weather was also a uncertain factor in the mountains. It could change in a few minutes. They made their way slowly but surely and soon reached the half way crevice. It was known as such as the mountain had a break in the wall.

“Was this where it happened?” asked Emil.

“You mean the disappearance” answered Fritz. “Yes, one of the first roped teams lost their way; two of our best mountaineers, my father and his brother. The weather changed and they were never seen again. But we have no choice, it is getting darker, temperatures are getting colder and this is the only place wide enough to take our rest for the night.”

The two men lit a small fire and filled a small pot with some ice that they scrapped from the surrounding stones. The idea was to make some tea. They opened their rucksacks and took some dry meat and had a small meal.

“I don’t like the look of that sky” said Emil “too many dark clouds.”

“You are right; I just hope it holds for us.”

The two men lay together on the narrow ledge in their sleeping bags and tried to get some sleep, but they could already hear the echoes of thunder in the distance. It was then that the rain mixed with snow started falling; bringing some small pebbles with it.

“Emil, quickly put together what you can and into the crevice in the mountain. It is dangerous, but less dangerous than being exposed on this ledge.”

The two men did their best to get into the crevice and then the heavens opened and a full mountain storm began. They were so surprised that they could not take all the equipment with them, and most important, their compass was hit by a stone and broke. They both spent a very cold and uncomfortable night on the mountain. They had already started writing letters of farewell to their families, in case they were ever found, having given up with being rescued. Only few mountaineers in those days had ventured on Number One and the route was not so well known.

During the early morning hours they decided either they marched on further or had no hope left. The men looked at the path, but it had become unrecognisable. Through the covering of snow and ice and the dangers of falling stones, a further march was almost impossible. It was then that Fritz saw something.

“Look Emil, footprints; prints of mountain shoes. Can you see them?”

“You are right Fritz, shall we follow them.”

“I think it would be our only chance.”

And carefully they marched, tied together with their ropes, following the prints. At one point Fritz looked back to where they had spent the night. He could have sworn he saw two figures standing there dressed in the old mountain clothes of days gone by. The figures were just standing as if frozen stiff. Then there was a flurry of snow and they disappeared. They marched on and eventually found themselves on the last slope leading to the top. They both knew they were saved. If they reached the top, it would be a quicker descent on the safe south wall of the mountain.

Fritz had kept this story for himself when the journalist came. Emil had died a few years ago and he was the only person with memories of this ascent. When mountaineering became safer the equipment better there was a expedition again to the Number One. Emil accompanied the expedition and when they arrived at the memorable place where Emil and Fritz had spent the night, they found two frozen figures. The mountain had given back Emil’s uncle and father. “Perhaps they had been standing there since that memorable ascent many years ago” thought Fritz.

If you now visit the little mountain cemetery in the village where Fritz lives you will see many mountaineer’s graves of those that were found in the mountains. One particular grave is very well known. It is that of Fritz father and uncle. Apart from the stone with the names, there are also two mountain shoes. They were those belonging to the two men. Fritz had them preserved in a metal coating. They are a reminder of the night when Fritz and his colleague Emil thought they had climbed their last mountain.

RDP Thursday: Pebble

RDP Wednesday: Scintilla

Robert Bosch Company, Zuchwil

The name Scintilla rang many bells in my head. Of course it is the Italian word for “spark” but for me it has another meaning. It was the place where I saw and met Mr. Swiss 50+ years ago, I was already in Switzerland, in Zürich, and decided to search for another job. I happened to be on the phone to my mum in London, England, and she said she saw a job advertised in the english newspaper for Switzerland in a place called Zuchwil, near the town of Solothurn. I think mum never forgave herself for telling me. It was for a Robert Bosh Company subsidiary, called Scintilla. They always had an english secretary there, and so I called them, paid them a visit and yes, I got the job. That was the main reason why I stayed in Switzerland and moved to Solothurn from Zürich.

I worked for the Scintilla for a few years, met Mr. Swiss, we got married and I left my job because I had a baby bump. It is now many years later, but the Scintilla still exists. They made a range of vacuum cleaners for a Swiss store but their main product was drills and jigsaws. They introduced a range of saws that would fit different types of drill products. It was my job to handle the english correspondence for the whole company. They were the days where stenography was still needed. As a sideline I proof read the english translations of the operation manuals.

However the company Scintilla had existed for many years, since 1917. It was when Charles Lindbergh did his famous flight across the Atlantic that their fame was established. Lindbergh needed a magneto for is aircraft, The spirit of St. Louis, but was having problems as they were exploding. It was then that the company Scintilla in the little village of Zuchwil produced the Vertex Magnetos which were found to be the ideal solution. And so the Scintilla became famous for it magnetos, thanks to Charles Lindbergh,  and you can still see an example of that magneto if you visit the company.

The building is still there but has now mainly been rented out to other companies, although a small part is still Scintilla.

RDP Wednesday: Scintilla

RDP Tuesday: Agitate

Goose 27.05 (1)

I got real life agitation this morning, and I think the agitator must have been a lookalike of this silly goose. It all began some time last March, or was it April. Difficult to say, it was so long ago. I was at the dentist with Mr. Swiss and decided it was time for me for a check up. It had been a long while, I had no toothache, not even dental problems, but today we are guided by the golden rule to have your teeth checked at least once a year. My dentist even told me I should report every 9 months, being diabetic etc. I asked for an appointment at that time and was surprised that the earliest opportunity would be in August. In the meanwhile much water has flowed under the bridge, although I had not forgotten the appointment, but when the date was made for Mr. Swiss eye operation end of August I checked on my dental appointment and discovered it would be exactly on that day.

I called the dentist to change the appointment. Each time I call I have a different person on the phone. The practice was orginally run by the father and he treated both myself and Mr. Swiss. He is now retired and his son has taken over, a very capable dentist and Mr. Swiss is one of his patients, looks like the VIP treatment. I was redirected to one of the assistants, also a very capable dentist. But who sees a dentist today. If you are in pain and lose a tooth etc. then you are a case for the dentist, otherwise your checkups are done by a dental hygiene person, which is usually a lady. It seems that dentists can fit you in in a month or so, but not the hygienists, the are fully booked out for at least 3 months.

This morning when I called to say my appointment would not be possible, the lady said I would have to wait at least 3-4 months for a new appointment. I bit into the sour apple and told her to give me a new date. I got the first Monday in December. Mondays are not possible for me and after a discussion she said 12th December at 3.00 in the afternoon. I asked the lady what has happened to the regular important checkups at the dentist. They no longer exist and I am now waiting for a very long time. Her answer: Sorry,  I have no time to discuss I have other patients, goodbye.

I was not only agitated but very much annoyed to be brushed off in that way by someone I would be old enough to be her grandmother. Needless to say Mr. Swiss will have a few earnest words with his dentist on the next visit. We have paid many thousands of Swiss Francs to have our teeth dealt with but for the silly goose on the telephone, this is not important.

RDP Tuesday: Agitate

RDP Monday: Serene

River Aar 30.10 (1)

Sitting at the screen
I was searching for serene
There were places where I’d been
On my journey all between
Some photos were in green
And others had a sheen
I then began to sleep, feeling like a queen
Time to wake up and then I had a clean
But here is one more photo to put you in the scene
Just close your eyes and dream and drift into serene

View of River Aar towards Solothurn

RDP Monday: Serene

RDP Sunday: Plaintive

img_3333-2

The Plantive cry of a fly
Is something no-one will hear
Just give them a swat and down they fall
And then they disappear
No-one mourns their death
there are too many to count
Collect them with a broom
In the shovel there is a mount
But do not feel so sad
and do not have a concern
For everyone that dies
Another hundred return

RDP Sunday: Plaintive

RDP Saturday: Eventually

Tiger

Why a tiger? To be quite honest, I did not have a photo of a panther, but eventually that will do just as well, so why a panther?

I am 73 years old and spent the first 20 of these years in London, England. This means that my growing up time, surrounded by familiar faces, places I knew well, were a long time ago. I have now been living 53 years in Switzerland and have no more connections to my past life. Of course I have built up a circle of acquaintances in Switzerland, from my workplace, from the town where I live and of course through connections from Mr. Swiss, my partner in crime. My kids are no longer kids and lead their own lives. I even have one and a half grandchildren (one on the way) and now it is I me and myself. Although not quite alone, as I have my Mr. Swiss, but we are both golden oldies and apart from an exciting excursion to the supermarket or a visit from my son or the arrival of the cleaning lady, everything stays the same.

I decided I need a change in this life and so I began to look around for a senior citizens group, an old people clan. However, I do not want to be confronted with colleagues whose main topics would be their health and recycling problems. I need some intellectual support, encouragement, interesting discussions. We have a group, founded some years ago, called the Grey Panthers. They are golden oldies with a little more to offer than complaints. Before I became a golden oldie, I always said that would be my thing when I need more contact when older, and now I have arrived at the point where I should do something.

As it is modern active group, who also make excursions and visits to interesting places, I decided to have a look what Internet says, and I found our local group. They also have an english course (which I would not need) and a group for improving French (might be an idea). How surprised was I to find that there are many familiar names there. In July and August they are closed for holiday time, but in September they will be available again and it is my intention to put out some feelers to join. I naturally spoke to Mr. Swiss about my idea and even he would be interested. So let’s do it, or at least try. It might be an eventual improvement to my life which is becoming more and more isolated and that is what worries me. One day I might really be alone and I need contact with other people.

At the moment my social life is based on blogging. Of course you are all lovely people and I would really be alone without you all, but I must do something more. Perhaps I will no longer be here so much, who knows, but I am sure I can spare an hour or two during the weeks for something completely different.

RDP Saturday: Eventually

RDP Friday: Acerbic

Solothurn Police Car

The police, your friend and helper, as the saying goes. Not at all acerbic, if you are not acerbic. Today I had a meeting by chance with them, something I have wanted for some time.

As some may know, I can get quite acerbic against people that park on the places reserved for the handicapped at the store. I have a permit and the others just find it quite handy to park there and so I am often forced to park on a field which is private.

So today I arrived at the parking spaces for the handicapped, and there were only two occupied out of seven, no problem of course. Then I saw two men dressed in their smart blue shirts with the word “Polizei” emblazoned everywhere and they were talking to one of the ladies in the supermarket from the customer service desk. I gathered that an irate customer got so acerbic he called the police to fine someone that was parked without permission. I say good luck to him, but it is not something I would do.

I heard the lady from customer service say “there is just nothing we can do, we cannot go absent from our desk and chase them away from the parking spaces, but some of the customers get very annoyed”.

That was my cue to say a few words “yes, it is very annoying when the parking spaces are occupied by visitors without a handicap, we depend on this extra large spaces next to the entrance” and one of the policemen made a mistake, he answered me and that was my cue to continue. The poor man had to listen to my complaints about Christmas holidays and Easter when there were no places left for those entitled to these special parking fields. I told him I am one of the customers that often complains, and the customer service lady nodded as we have known each other for many years.

It was a pleasant conversation, and I at last got some satisfaction in having my say. I was not acidic at all, how could you be when you have two nice guys looking good in their uniform, it was something like a TV film. Their blue shirts were really quite sexy and they even had their name badge on the shirt. I suppose they must have had their gun somewhere, but I was too interested in my conversation to notice.

RDP Friday: Acerbic