Sunday, February 18, 2018


I am not domestic.

I do not necessarily love ironing.

At the same time I want my home to be neat and welcoming and I like the feel of my PJs, t-shirts and sheets ironed more than wrinkled. I do Rick's too because I want him to have the same pleasure.

Thus I clean, neaten and iron.

Our flat came with an ironing board.

Sort of.

It was narrow and wobbly.

My cheap heart never wants to replace something that works.

However, once we got Sherlock, I was afraid he'd bump into the board and be seriously hurt if the iron fell on him.

My solution was to wait till he slept or was out for a walk with Rick to iron.

My husband had a different solution. He bought a new ironing board, one color-coordinated with the flat. It included the rest, which makes it safer. It is also is wider making ironing easier.

I was raving about it to my husband not just to let him know that I appreciated his thoughtfulness. I felt like I was doing some kind of advert as I listed the board's merits, and a bit silly. 

But when I went to bed last night on clean, ironed sheets in clean iron pjs, life was good.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers

The mealy-mouthed politicians mumble those words after every shooting. Or take a few seconds to tap them into a tweet. Thoughts and prayers were promised for 9 school shooting alone this year.

So what are in those thoughts?
  • Can they imagine the mother finding a dress with which to bury her dead daughter?
  • What are the father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles doing?
  • Do they even know the names of the dead?
  • Their hopes?
  • Their strengths?
  • Their weaknesses?
And how much do they pray? Will they go to the denomination of each victim and pray? Light candles? Kneel by their bed at night? Make donations?

Without action, their words are meaningless, so much drivel. The next time the same words and the same results...nothing.

I wish everyone would send a politician who uses this meaningless phrase and then do nothing send them a check for a campaign contribution in the amount of THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Goal 1: To take the little yellow train, Le Train Jaune, up the mountain to Fort Romeu

Goal 2: To introduce Sherlock to snow

Method: To be up at 5 to leave by 6 to arrive at 8 and catch the 8:30 that arrives around 11. Spend and hour and go home.

Reality: Woke at 5 and drove out of Argelès by 5:48.
  • Arrived at 7. It didn't take two hours.
  • Found a bakery and wandered the walled city that has existed sine the 1098.
  • Went back to train station.
  • Bought tickets.
  • Waited for train.
  • It didn't come.
  • Went back into the station. 
  • Girl pointed out on schedule 8:30 train only starts in April.
  • Next train would get us home too late.
 Decided to drive up to Fort Romeu to enjoy the beautiful scenery from the car.

Stopped about half way up and let Sherlock play in the snow after he was car sick. He appeared to enjoy it.

Turned around and came home still enjoying the snow-covered mountains.

Stopped for sushi (me) and hamburger (Rick).

Had a wonderful time.

Rick has a dueling blog at

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

food joy

If my husband had given me a $10,000 diamond necklace, it would not have meant as much to me as having lunch at Bartavelle, the excellent restaurant around the corner from where we live.

It was a fixed valentine's menu with lots of fish, something he is neutral about to disliking, even if Bartavelle's preparation of things he usually wouldn't touch takes him to neutral to almost liking. 

But the last course was lobster, my favorite food of all time. As a New Englander living in Geneva and Southern France, lobster is a rare treat. Knowing that he was happy to treat me.

Some of the courses included things I can't eat such as scallops. The owners know that and, without us asking, made substitutions.

As for the lobster itself, I devoured it.

The desert shown at the top of the blog was a work of art. The outside was a type of donut paste and the flavor was pineapple. Even if it looked like a work of art and even if I was full, I was able to consume the whole thing.

This was a gift of caring, far better than any diamond from a diamond of a husband.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Travel Fatigue

Rick went to Milan last month on assignment followed by an assignment in Paris the following week. To someone, who might, if they are lucky, will get to Paris or Milan once in their life time, it sounds exciting.

I could have gone, but stayed at home.

When I was growing up in Reading, MA with a mother who felt going two towns away put me in danger of falling off the edge of the earth, I had to laugh at myself when I was living in Switzerland in the 90s. I had been traveling on business and I was really looking forward to a couple of days at home. Doing the laundry seemed like the most wonderful thing in the world. It also meant I could stop buying clean underwear because I didn't have time to wash my clothes.

I was living in Motiers, Switzerland at the time and then I had to go to the UK on business over the weekend. Long gone were the days as a teen, I wished that I had need for a suitcase. Long gone was dreaming over maps.

Business travel is not exciting. I still remember a conference I covered in Warsaw. If you give me colored pencils I can probably recreate the rug at the Marriott because that was all I saw. Lovely rose flowers on green.

Fun travel is a bit different. We've been hither and yon the last five years including:
  • Rick fulfilled his dream to play St. Andrews.
  • Three weeks in Westport Ireland
  • I "met" Eleanor of Aquitaine.
  • We've slept in a bubble in Austria. 
  • I showed Rick where I lived as a bride in Stuttgart.
  • We stayed on a canal boat in Amsterdam. 
  • There was a whole month in my second most loved city, Edinburgh allowing us to wander around Scotland, a beautiful, beautiful country filled with great people and history.
I loved every minute of  it.

On the other hand, sleeping in the same bed for weeks at a time, being able to say yes to a dinner invitation next week knowing I would be home and having a routine is also wonderful.

Some readers may shake their heads and think I'm whinging. I'm not really. I love what I've done, where I've been.

And it doesn't mean I want to stop traveling. Elton John is playing Montreux during the summer 2019. Rick hasn't seen Vienna. There are friends I want to visit in Copenhagen.

Although I've probably spent six plus months in Paris over the years, I have family of choice there and hopefully the Seine's flood will not wash it away. There are still museums to visit and cafes to sit in. Just walking the streets pretending I'm part of the Hemingway crowd has never gone stale. And if Rick covers a conference in Stuttgart, I will want to go and walk in the gardens by the Altes Shloss and maybe feed the swans like I used to do.

Once when my daughter was a student at Mannheim University and was in the UK at the same time I was doing a distant learning in Wales we discovered we were in the same country for an overlap of a few hours. We met for lunch.
A Massachusetts friend said, "You lead such a glamorous life."

I didn't tell him our lunch was not at some quaint pub but at Burger King in Paddington Station.

But between a new puppy and love of my home, traveling less is high on my bucket list...but then a chance comes up to go to (fill in the blank) and I get my teddy bear suitcase packed and am headed for the car, train or plane.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Brownie woes and joys

My former housemate makes the world's best brownies. What a joy to be writing away and have the smell of baking chocolate waft up the stairs. She often made them as gifts, but left enough for the house. Sometimes, when I came back from a trip, I would find brownies on my desk.

The second best are made by Catherine, the Brownie Lady, who sells her wares at the Argelès marché on Saturdays. She also bakes other goodies, minced pies, different fruit pies, savory tarts. In the winter her husband's homemade vin chaud is beyond yummy as guests at our Tree Decorating Open House attested.

We would buy four and ration them out during the week usually while watching a DVD. Ice cream, chocolate sauce was optional.

The last couple of weeks the weather had been too bad for Catherine to set up her stand.

We are going through serious brownie withdrawal.

Thank goodness Rick found a package of brownie mix bought at the American store in Collogny. It was Ghardilli. He will make them today.

Hopefully, they will be able to tide us over until Saturday's marché.

Friday, February 09, 2018

FATCA damage

I am in the process of putting together testimonies of people who have been hurt by FATCA in anyway from denied employment to losing banking access, a marriage breakup, renunciation, etc. The stories will be collected and I intend to self publish it and send it to every congress member.

I want to make sure they at least have the story of the damage they are doing to their fellow countrymen in their offices.

You can remain anonymous if you wish.

Email me at