Monthly Archives: June 2011

Outside the Gate

This is what it looks like outside your backyard gate.  We are about 20′ from the edge of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland.


How teenagers are restoring Faith In Humanity.

We’re in Germany with our kids and grandkids.

The other day our grandsons and their dad discovered a tree house not far from where they live.  It had rotted steps up the trunk of the tree and looked long-unused.  They decided they’d like to make it usable.  (It’s in the forest, public land.)  While they were there, a 19-year old kid came by and told them he and some friends had built it when he was about 15.  But the neighbors had complained and called the police and even though it was public land, they were told they were a nuisance and had to “cease and desist”.

So, given teenage ingenuity and defiance and determination, they went to another forest, found the perfect location/tree, went to the city and BOUGHT the tree (1500Euro / 6 kids).  Then they set about building another tree house.  This one is 5 stories, about 60′ high.   They fenced what they bought, but invite anyone to come and use it.  (For awhile a neighbor had put up a “get lost” sign to which the new owners tacked their city permit and put up an impolite response.  All that is now gone.) While this kid, Marcus, was with the boys, he invited them to this new place.  It turns out that my son in law is the oldest person (45) to ever have been up it and my grandson (8) is the youngest.  They hold the record!

In the meantime, Marcus, builder of both houses, bequeathed the 1st, now-abandoned house to the boys to do with what they want.

They took Fred and me to it not only to show it to us, but to leave a 6 pack of Coke for Marcus as a Thank You for being so gracious and allowing them to experience his work.  Our grandson wrote a note and left it with the Coke in the tree house.

We've been welcomed to come up anytime

Transporting the Coke, 2 bottles at a time

You can check them out @ because being teenage builders, they have to have their own website.

They made it all the way to the top.

Today they went back to “their” (the original) tree house to work on repairing the steps so they could climb up.  It was no easy feat as they didn’t have the proper, long enough, nails to do a really good job.  But they got enough boards afixed to the tree to climb up for their 1st look at their new possession.  When they got there, they found a note:  “Thank you for the drinks.  This is for you.”  And there lay a pile of (proper) nails!

How many adults would have reacted, from beginning to end, as these teenagers did?  The IS hope for humanity!

View from our balcony. Church in rainbow.

French and Wines

French wine consumption has dropped by three billion bottles to just four billion – the equivalent of one bottle per adult each week – in two generations.

In a study in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, the pair looked at successive generations and their approach to wine drinking, dividing the demographic into four groups Photo: Bloomberg

Researchers fear the culture of wine drinking is being lost in France, with younger generations less likely to savour a bottle over food and more prone to drink simply for pleasure.

They are also less aware of its cultural significance to France.

Just 16.5 per cent of the French population are now regular wine drinkers, according to research from the ESC Pau research centre and Toulouse 1 Capitole University/

Regular consumption over meals has been replaced by the French drinking wine occasionally rather than frequently, often on nights out.

This has occurred within the last two generations, according to researchers Pascal Poutet and Thierry Lorey.

In a study in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, the pair looked at successive generations and their approach to wine drinking, dividing the demographic into four groups.

The oldest was those over 65 years who had lived through the Second World War, followed by those between 40 and 65 who lived through a period of growth and worldwide development.

Those 30 to 40 – “Generation X”, who grew up through the French crisis of the 1990s, were next, followed by those under 30 – the internet generation.

“Each successive generation represents a general increase in libertarian attitudes and irreverence towards institutions”, says Dr Poutet.

While all agreed on the value and ’bon homie’ of drinking wine, it was the over 65s who most linked it with French heritage and were more likely to drink it daily and share the experience.

The middle groups are much more occasional drinkers and drink more socially with friends rather than family, and social status is a factor in their wine consumption.

But for the under-30s, wine consumption is very much the exception rather than the rule.

Dr Poutet said: “There is a dual gap between the three generations, older, middle-aged, younger – on the one hand, the consumption frequency gap (from a daily wine consumption t

o a festive one, and then exceptional), on the other, the pleasure gap (evolution from a genuine pleasure towards a more ostentatious pleasure, more difficult to perceive for the younger generation).”

The younger generations may still take pride in French wine but have little awareness of its cultural place in French history, he said.

He explained: “The generational analysis of the representations of wine in France does seem to be appropriate to explain the deep changes that wine has undergone in the last 60 years.

“It is precisely the progressive loss of the identity, sacred and imaginary representations of wine (nation, region, lesser importance of the transmission of the culture of wine by the father within the family, etc)

over three generations that explains France’s global consumption attitudes, and especially the steep decline in the volumes of wine consumed.”

French wines we like

We drink French wines