Ken Gutberlet

1/31/2003 - Guten Tag! Ciao! Bon jour! . . . uhh . . . Howdy


note: Most of this was typed last week (1/21-24) so most time references are relative to then . . .

I felt like I put up the frame of a house and left it with the last email. Now, onto the touches that make a space liveable (of course, a dry-walled shelter is pretty much enough for me) . . .

Triple tongues. That's the locals' story- Switzerland is divided into three parts, the German, Italian, and French parts. Then I inquire where St. Moritz is located, and they say it's not one of those parts- the local tongue is Romanche (sp?). Ok, I let it alone, but, is Switz really divided into four parts? Is it worth the broken English follow-up? Probably not. The predominant tongue spoken here is Deutsche, Italiano a close second, English a distant third, and Francais in the running for the bronze. Most folks I encounter speak enough Eng to say nice things about the tunes I'm jamming or to "wish" for "West Virginia" or "Red Hot Chili Peppers". I have had some French conversations with folks who spoke minimal Eng (talk about an effort- I'm kinda surprised that I can pull up some of my Jr High French- maybe it's cause I knocked it into my brain since I had the hots for the chick who sat next to me and I wanted to appear I had it going on). Most important signs have all four langues. Less-important signs have the three non-Eng langues.

A correction for geography buffs- the Engadin Valley is a predominantly NE/SW- running valley with a SE offshoot.

Gig- The jams go well as my voice adjusts to its smoke inhalation abuse. For the most part, it's about the same 30 or so songs over and over (I toss in a couple extras on slower nites to offer me some variety). The 2:45 end has been kinda liquid, sometimes the honies toss undergarments at me demanding another song- oh wait, that's my Tom Jones fantasy. One night a complaint from a hotel guest, "when is that sh*t music going to end?", brought the hotel night man (Belmero- Portugese- likes to spout Americanisms from his several US visits- he's the man to know late nite for cab calling and such) to Stübli and cut me off in the middle of an "encore". Good enough- the less singing the better. The "Country Roads" count still goes on- anyone that can tell me how many times I play it this month will get a special prize- if interested, submit yer guess before you hear from me in early Feb.

Here's a different count: 1. That's the # of diggers I've taken off the slopes. One of the first nites here, walking down the hill towards the crash pad, a thin dusting of snow hiding the sub-ice, slip, THUD, thud. The louder thud was the gitter. It seemed no worse for the icy pavement meeting. The quiter thud was my butt and elbow (actually simultaneous? . . . who knows). All that made for was a chuckle- painless. I later witnessed Bryan Huddy take a digger- looked like a major ouch, all sprawled out on the ice. Instinctively, I reached to pick up his gitter first (knowing that when I fell, that was my concern), but my conscience arrived and I helped him up instead.

Ski report- Both legs are still intact (knock, knock). Like riding a bike- after 6 (7?, 8?) years of no slopes, things went well the first time with the skis- once I found some. After I felt moved in, I went ISO discounted skis and lift pass (the tale went that employees got pretty good deals on both). I found that to be true. The lift tick for the season was an easy acquisition (tho not too cheap). The ski search included checking in a couple shops, a three hour thru-the-snow trek, only to arrive near my intended destination in time to catch the last bus homeward (without skis- a langue barrier prevented me from actually finding the shop until I was on the bus), a second day with a successful ski search, banging shoulders with boots and jabbing a dude with my poles while on the bus (touron!), an hour bus ride homeward (allowing a really cool sunset) which shoulda been a 15 min-er (the chill made me want to hop on the first warm thing passing by- just happened to be a bus), and anticipation of the next day. Burning quads were the result of the first hour-long session. I started non-intensive and two weeks later and I own the mountain! (insert snicker here) I've found a good skiing comrade- Angie (Scottish barmaid at a neighboring hotel- music junkie) and I ski together well since we can conquer all the slopes, although our form would never allow us on the cover of "Ski!" magazine. Plus, an English chat on the ride back up the hill is cool (demonstrating the langue variety: on one 6-butt lift, Deutsche to the left, Italiano to the far right, and Scottish to the immediate right- Angie's full of the joie de vivre and some might call her boisterously verbose). Trails are mostly clearly marked, but there's lots of off-piste (that's local speak for off-trail) mountain for dabbling. Moguls, "deep" (0.3- 0.5m) powder, and hike-to-the-sheer-face's-peak-and-pray verticals can be found in these "unpatrolled" and "possibility of avalanche" (according to signs) areas. I've been skis over sunglasses in the mogul field and resting my butt in powder pillows (out of practice), but I have no desire to trek off-course to challenge gravity and my ability to return with all limbs intact. Maybe if I didn't have a gig . . . but . . . there're tunes to play!

Along with my personal ski report, St Mz is prepping to host the World Alpine Ski Championships. The town is gettin spruced and slopes are being closed for grooming and set-up. It starts the 1st Sundee of Feb and runs for two weeks. A possible St Mz sighting in the states?

Weather- For some folks who've inhabited wintry climes, some of this is no news. But, for a life-long Mid-Atlantic-er, having fun with my first extended chill stay has been, well, chilly. I've plenty layers so I keep warm, tho the negative Celsius tries its best. The first week + it was feel-it-in-yer-nose chilly- the nostrils felt stiff due to freezing?. I don't know. -20C (F = 9/5*C+32) was the walk-home temp (ok, for those not thrilled with math, that's about -4F). Great fresh air stumble home. My breath would make a lingering shadow- it took an eight-count for it to fully dissipate. Jeans weren't much insulation after 10-15 mins. The river behind my flat was steaming (or whatever the meteorologically correct term might be). Snicker if ya like- the only thing hanging on my wall is a Nat'l Geo poster of Antarctica- I think someone with a sense of humor taped it up, thinking, "I could be there . . ." A similarity between Antarctica and St Mz is that sometimes it precips from a cloudless sky- it's so cold and dry that clouds don't form. (Antarctica fun fact: sun rises once a year- autumnal equinox; sets once a year- vernal equinox . . . which kinda makes sense if ya stop and think about it . . . I never had.) The following week (last week) had temps around freezing during the day and some melting occurred. One day of skiing showed +18C at the gondola base (on a sun-baked wall) and at the gondola peak showed -6C (in the shade). The sun's pretty essential for warmth here- once it starts to sink behind mountains, the mercury sinks too. Fortunately for St Mz, one of its claims to fame is that it's sunny 475 days of the year or so (I think the offficial stat is 322). This makes the holiday destination a preferred area versus some of its neighboring resorts. But, then again, this week, the clouds started blanketing Mondee, we had snow all day Tuesdee, and the snow clouds have been shrouding peaks since (splotched against blue sky).

note: I'm writing this today, 1/31 . . .
I'd like to apologize for not responding to all the emails sent to me- I've been entertained by waves of visitors for the last week and a half (in arrival order: Peeps, Mitchy, Emu, Piles, Kev'Mo, Johnson, Denise, Lower). I embark for Copenhagen on an 8 am train tomorrow after a couple hour nap post-gig. I hope all's cool with everyone!