Saturday, July 20, 2019

3D glasses

I will I am a minimalist. I hate having extra things in my house. Five water glasses are fine 6 mugs, etc. Enough dishes to serve eight people.

When I lived in a studio lack of space helped immensely in not having stuff. However, my husband and I live in a two-bedroom flat and more things have crept in than I want around.For example I would prefer that the only basket/shopping bags we own would be my rainbow basket and the one where I stash the ironing. Three sets of towels are enough and one for the dog. Two sets of sheets for one bed, one set for the other.

Today was an example how we get bogged down with stuff.

We went to see the Lion King in 3D and it was wonderful. We bought two 3D glasses. The last time I used 3D glasses was before I was in Junior High. I will be 77 this month. We doubt if we will ever use them again.

It would have been so easy to take them home and put them some place.


We put them outside the entrance to the movie. We quickly found people who wanted them. I don't have to worry about having two more items in the house that I have no use for.

It is the slow creep of things, a pen here, something pretty there and before one knows it, we live in clutter. Yuck.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

DNA and the 1%

I am part of the 1%. No, not the billionaire class or the millionaire class. Financially I belong to the 99%. Let me explain.

Before we did our dog's DNA, my husband and I had ours done. There was no surprises for him, but I was amazed to find I was 1% Norwegian

Now how did that happen? I like to imagine, a Viking, one of those Norse seafarers who raided and traded with my Anglo-Saxon ancestors, was the donated of the genes.

In my imagination, I pictured him as tall, until I discovered Vikings weren't much taller than five foot nine. From my five foot one, that would make him tall, but my undertallness descends more from the French side of the family. With some of my relatives, I might be considered if not tall at least taller.

Now did my ancestor come storming through a village raping and pillaging? Or did he see a pretty maiden and decide to settle down as a farmer, having grown tired of life on the sea. Maybe he had been prone to seasickness as I am.

As a writer, I imagine what the object of his sperm might have worn. Supposedly from my research her clothing could have been on linen. Maybe there was fur linings for winter. She might have held the dress together with a brooch. Would her Viking lover/rapist have snatched it or would he have given it to her as a symbol of his affection?

They might be pagans or been toying with the new Christianity. At least, they would have been able to keep their feasts around the solstices, since the new church borrowed heavily from the pagans.

What would his name have been? I like Bard, although it didn't refer to a poet but means battle against peace. Boy, would that work with some of our crazy world leaders today. Not Garth, which is still used in the UK today. The Norse name Jerk has too many connotations for today. I would reject Roscoe. A friend has a dog named that.

Other names like Frode, Hemming, etc. are names still in use today and are carried by some of our Danish friends.

Maybe he would have been named Maceo, God's present. That implies the romantic story of his falling in love with my ancestor and them living happily ever after.

I haven't thought much about my female ancestor. I can picture her cooking over the fire with the smoke going out the hole in the roof or salting down meat from a hunt to keep it from spoiling.

Oh, how I wish, I knew more about those two people that came together be it for a quickie or a life.

Of course, they would never suspect that centuries and centuries later, the progeny of that act would be sitting at a computer and trying to guess what they were like.

Meanwhile my 1% remains as allusive as my chances of being part of the 1% billionaire class.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What makes an American

If you asked my mother her nationality, she would say "English." The last relative from England was a woman named Elizabeth who settled in Maine in 1636.

She thought of my father as a foreigner, a Frenchman. His family had migrated from Canada in the early 1920s. He took citizenship in 1925. At that point he was considered a British national as were all Canadians.

His ancestor, Michel Boudreau, migrated from La Rochelle in 1740. Once in Nova Scotia, he produced 11 children and became a general. John Sargent on my mother's side was only a common soldier in the Revolutionary War.

I was raised with the concept that being English was superior to every other nationality possible.

I grew up in a very white New England community. The only blacks were Viv, who owned the Chevron gas station, and Celtics star Bill Russell.

Even if my mother looked down on anyone not of English ancestry (French, Germans, Irish, Italians) for her the blacks were fine. As for other nationalities there were too few for her to feel superior to. Catholics were also a no-no and Jews? Well, they were good business people and ran a good grocery store in town.

For the short time we lived in West Virginia, she looked at our black staff as equal. The neighbors criticized her for sitting at the same table and sharing a cup of tea with them.

She had experienced some level of prejudiced there. When she called in our grocery order, she could hear people in the background saying things like, "You take it. I can't understand a word that damned Yankee says." She took it as a compliment that she spoke superior English.

She kept her maiden name Sargent as a middle name on everything, including her newspaper byline and all documents requiring a signature to offset the stigma of the Boudreau name. If I had kept my maiden name instead of my married name (to match my daughter's and to save having to go to the work of change) I would be much more in tune where I've spent the most part of my adult life (France and French-speaking Switzerland). Technically in France my last name is Boudreau, because women retain their maiden name even if using their spouse's. More than once, when people don't find me under N, I tell them to look under B.

As a staunch Republican I suspect she may have been a Trump fan were she still alive. She certainly believed in Joseph McCarthy. My father, so proud of being American, was more analytical. He still voted Republican more often than not. If asked what he was, he would not say French, Canadian or British. He was American.

Both parents knew American history and understood the Constitution. Voting was a duty and a privilege.

I do not know how or why I escaped prejudice. To me it didn't make sense when my friend, who came from all kinds of backgrounds,were nice people. I couldn't accept that they were less than I was or at least less than the 50% English side. I felt I had no national identity. I couldn't step dance like the Irish and although my mother made great spaghetti sauce, it wasn't the same at the Italian kids' mothers.

Only when I left the states and made my grandmother's Boston Baked Beans in my great grandmother's pot did I feel I had an identity and that was more New England Yankee than American. This makes me to better or worse than anyone else. DNA is not a predictor of national goodness or badness.

After Brexit, in France, I've been told to go home. Locals, probably not unlike my mother, see me as English, especially when I speak French.

I am thrilled that the Swiss accepted me as a citizen. I think my new country works about as well as any country can, which means it is not perfect. But having lived in other countries and gathering habits and tastes from them all, I think of myself as an international-Swiss-New England Yankee. I do not think of myself as superior having arrived at this combination because of a series of life's accidents. It just makes me another human.

The current bruhaha of Trump's attacks on immigrants takes my mother's attitude to a disgusting new low. It is trying to be superior by making others inferior. Once it involves the safety and freedom of those disparaged, than it becomes dangerous.

Nationalism, when it means the country where someone lives can do not wrong, is equally dangerous because it perpetuates the faults that they will not see. When those that want to correct those faults are reviled, the danger zone burns hotter and hotter.

Monday, July 15, 2019

A lost list

My father and step mom's conversation was often peppered with those that they had lost. They lived in a Florida retirement community and someone, if they hadn't died, was fighting cancer or recovering from a heart attack. The best things were hip of knee replacements. Conversations could be depressing, but it was important for my folks to share the information.

In my age group then, these occurrences were rare. Yes, a classmate had died in an auto accident shortly after graduation and another succumbed to cancer in her 40s. Vietnam took another schoolhood friend. Mostly, we all seemed eternal. This included family gatherings with all the aunts, uncles and cousins.

I do remember thinking once when on a bus, in 100 years we will all be dead. A100 years seemed very far away.

With the arrogance of youth, I said, I would never be like my parents when I was old reciting the death and dying lists to my children.

Now I am old.

Within the past few days, the daughter of one my friends had died. I lost the friend a few years back. Then another friend is recovering from heart surgery. I told my daughter about the daughter's death. She knew her from when we were all much younger. No need to mention the man with the heart attack. My daughter never met him. I am becoming my parents partially.

I think of all the people I have lost starting with grandparents, parents, stepmom, step sister. I am lucky that out of a plethora of cousins, we've only lost three. Former housemates parents that were more than just housemate parents and a former housemate. A sister of a former housemate, whom I knew from telephone calls and whom I wished I had known in person. My best of friend of 50+ years and another of 40+ years.

Having people you care about die sucks. The expressions passed, gone to better things, promoted to glory and for loved animals, crossed the rainbow bridge...don't help.

We live down the street from a 13th century church. At least once or twice a week there is funeral. The bells toll mournfully. The condolence book is outside and people line up to sign it.

Many of my friends are in their 60s, 70s and 80s. I realize that I may not have them forever. The friend's daughter was in her 50s.

I no longer think in a 100 years we might all be dead. It could tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. It is a reminder to be nice to them.

We have today.

We should treasure it.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


 Rick and I had our DNA done. No surprises for him.

I didn't expect many. I knew John Sargent, an ancestor, fought in the Revolutionary War (not as a pilot) and Michel Boudreau left La Rochelle for Nova Scotia in 1740. What I am sorry about, is I have only a name, dates of birth and death. In Michel's case, I know he fathered 11 children. What I would love to know is more of what they were like, their day-to-day lives.

I was wrong about not being surprised, though.

I discovered I was 1% Norwegian, Since the discovery, I picture some Viking either raping some Anglo Saxon girl or even settling down in what would become the UK to live with her happily ever after. I certainly didn't inherit any tall Viking genes or so I thought. Later I checked and Vikings weren't tall like their Norwegian descendants. They ran 5 foot 6, 7, 8, on average. That is still taller than my 5 foot 1.

When the SPA gave us Sherlock, a three-month bundle of adorable, they told us he was half Yorkie through his mother, something from his Griffon father and maybe other things.

We decided to have his DNA done too. 

His mother was the first surprise. Only 25% of his DNA came from her.

What else was he?

Miniature Pincher 12.5%? Hmm...that means he is distantly related (very) to his friend Falco, who lives at Mille et Un, the tea room down the street.

As for being 12.5% Russell terrier we really didn't want a Jack, not that we didn't like the breed. I had a lovely relationship with a Jack names Phoenix, belonging to a co-worker. Even dog sat for him. One of the smartest dogs, I've ever met. We just thought that breed was a bit too stubborn and too energetic. I need to tell Fi and Jen, Jack fans, about Sherlock. As for Nelly, Fi's Jack, her heart still belongs to Paddy, another breed entirely although she is happy to play with Sherlock too.

He is also 12.5% Prague Ratter.

What is a Prague Ratter????????? we wondered.

We looked it up to discover they are rare outside Czech. Mystery of how some of a home-staying Prague Ratter's genes worked its way through our dog's ancestry. The description of them as a lap lover certainly fits. Sherlock lets no lap go empty. That breed also resembles Falco.

Some of the breed characteristics show up in Sherlock. What his family background doesn't matter. We are still bonkers about him.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Insomnia and writing

I fall asleep quickly and deeply. Put me in a car and my eyes close. Try and read mid-afternoon? Sheep, who want to be counted, are not needed.

So why am I writing about insomnia?

Because many nights between two and four I wake and stay awake at least two hours. Sometimes I read, but mostly I write in my head.

I am currently working on a book called Day Care about four single mothers who support each other through misc. problems. The narrator is a journalist who is writing about the four mothers.

My characters move into my bedroom those sleepless times and tell me about their lives.

Sally describes her mother, whom she used to think of as delicate, as diminished. Her relationship to her mother going forward? Maybe Sally will come back soon and tell me.

Maura, after finally having her daughter diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, is struggling to pay off huge medical bills and despite increased opportunities with her company is still faced with the same misogynistic boss.

Ashley, dating for the first time since her husband died, isn't sure she has time for a new man in her life even though he is nice. As lawyers, they share a client, a victim of domestic abuse who murdered her husband.

Anne-Marie turns to Sally for help. Should she let the feckless lover Sean back in her life, continue working as a professor in a field she loves and stay in the US where she is on a hard-found tenure track. Her alternative? Return to Paris where her husband insists their twin daughters stay?

In my xxxxth twist and turn last night, I decided the last chapter should be written by Brenda, the chronicler of the women's lives. Brenda, has learned to care about all four women and their daughters. I decided my last line of the book: "It's called life."

This morning, I put notes on the manuscript, which I won't get to writing for much too long.


I need to finish final corrections on Triple Deckers to be released shortly.

There are so many summer people here in Argelès to see and tonight is the Correfoc, fire runners. Men dressed as devils in asbestos suits shoot fireworks off their bodies to the beat of drums. It is my favorite fête bringing up all the latent pagan urges in my DNA.

This week we are going to a Rodin/Maillol with Swiss friends we see too little of.

I need to update the manuals about the house and dog for our dog sitter while we go home to Geneva. There we need to:
  • Check out our flood damaged flat
  • Attend the once in 20 year Fête des Vignerons
  • Spend four days in Vienna (as the cliché goes--a dirty job but someone has to do it) with my former writing mate
  • Catch up on bills/paperwork
  • Have a tooth implant
  • Check in with my dermatologist.
  • Get a certified copy of our marriage certificate
  • Hopefully attend a family of choice get together
  • Celebrate the Swiss National Day
All this slows down the writing on Day Care. No matter how many times my characters sit on my bed, telling me what they want to do, chores, friends, slow down my word production. Some things can't be given up such as keeping creditors happy. Other things such as time with friends, I don't want to give up.

As Brenda says in my book, "It's called life."  Or at least she will say it when I get to that last chapter.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What is with men and sex

They say a male snake will mate with any female snake dead or alive. With each new sex scandal it seems if big-shot men can be the same as that male snake.

When Eliot Spritzer paid $5000 to a call girl, I wondered what could be worth that amount of money. It had to be the Royal Oak, Rollex watches of sex. The Ferrari of fu--ing.

Despite my age, I still think sex is wonderful. Making love is even better.

I understand wanting an orgasm. I understand enjoying one or many.

I never saw marriage as being the only place to have sex, which is good considering I was single most of my adult life. My mother said a man wouldn't buy a cow if he could get the milk for free. I was watched much more closely when I replied, "They test drive cars." Virginity isn't as important now as it was then. This is good. Sex is a natural act that humans have cloaked in all sorts of rules and regulations that have little to do with nature.

I understand looking at someone who isn't your partner and thinking hmmm. Maybe once the hmmm would be returned but I doubt if any hunk on the beach, would hmmm me today.

What I don't understand is the feeling that because one is in a powerful position they can use that power to subjugate others.

The Epsteins, Weinsteins and their ilk are just one gag-producing of the male-snake phenomena. That a powerful, talented man has sex with women should not be criteria for their professional lives. If they are abusing women or children with their power, it should be.