Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beau rivage to Boston

My passport may be red with a white cross, but part of my DNA and heart will always be Bostonian.

Last night I was at a press conference and dinner at the Beau Rivage in Geneva, the hotel where the dying Emperess Sissi was taken in 1898 after she was shot.

Both cities are steeped in history and in my history as well.

I was introduced to a man.

"Do I detect an American accent?" he asked

"I'm Swiss, but I grew up in the States?"



"Me too. What part?"

"Wigglesworth Street, across from Harvard Medical."

The man had grown up around the corner. There were only about 30 people in the room from all over the world.

At the apèro later the same man approached me with a woman from Milton, just down the road from Boston.

When we went to dinner there were two other women, one from Arlington, MA and the other from Cambridge who had lived on Delle Avenue where I had owned a house in the late 80s.

We made up a Boston table.

Clichés about small worlds abound.

 15 Wigglesworth Street, Mission Hill, Boston

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dear NSA

The Guardian had an interesting article  on whistle blowers today.

It showed how when people follow the prescribed channels to call out government wrong doing their lives were ruined. Losing a career was mild in comparison to jail. The sad part was that the truths they were exposing never really came to light.

The article tells why Snowden succeeded when the others failed although he has paid a heavy price in the upheaval of his life.

'The key to Snowden’s effectiveness, according to Thomas Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), was that he practised “civil disobedience” rather than “lawful” whistle blowing.'

There are some who feel Snowden was a traitor. There are people who think it is okay, that you, Dear NSA, listen to everything they do.

I don't.

I have been tempted to leave the webcam on when my husband and I make love and give you guys a thrill, but then watching two old people go at it, may make you laugh or even vomit...

So just so you know what we are doing today, is I have a yet another doctor's appointment and then we are going to dinner at the Beau Rivage. My dumb phone will be off as it is most of the time and I will put my laptop to sleep.

As I write this Tummy the cat is asleep next to me. I turned the computer around so you can see him. Isn't he huge?

Now NSA, this is more serious. I want to know what the government is doing that is illegal. I want people to be able to call attention to put them potential in harm's way, not of terrorists but in harm's way of you.

Help or Hurt

A serious blog.

I've had several conversations lately with people who are helping others family members and/or friends.

Helping others is something we need more of, but the conversations turned to a point where does helping hurt?

The problems discussed included alcohol, drugs, depression, money, divorce, lack of work, school grades.

I started to think of the times I had to be helped by others.

As an adult child, who was married, I often had to turn to my father for tuition money. My ex was so opposed to my studying that even the $400 semester cost was a challenge after I supplied my part of our couple income.

I no sooner paid it back and I needed it again. My dad was my first credit card. He loaned me money later so I could buy a car to get to work. By the time I needed another, I was able to finance my own.

My father and stepmom also offered to let me live with them when my husband left me and our infant daughter. I saw the relief in his eyes when I said no. My sister had just left home and they were ready to be child-free.

But I knew the backup was there which let me sleep worry-free even when I didn't use it.

My father never put strings on his loans. I didn't have to modify my behavior to qualify for his largess. At the same time, he approved of how I was handling the disarray my life had become as I was rebuilding it.

He figured if I followed his advice or conditions and it all went wrong, I would not accept responsibility for my own actions. In another way, he thought if he told me what to do, he was stealing my life.

Oh, he had his opinions often expressed as "Have you thought of...?"

I never had.

What he asked always happened. Finally, I learned to think of whatever it was he suggested. It saved me a lot of digging out.

I've tried to follow the same principles with my daughter, but it is easy because she either follows the right (my definition and fortunately hers arrived at by herself) course or has the ability to dig herself out of whatever...

But what if she didn't?

What if she were a drug addict would giving her money for drugs be the answer? Put her in rehab? How many times? What right do I have to determine if I am doing more damage by helping? Would I be helping her or would I be stealing her own life?

At what point should a helping line be cut?
  • Where support (not just financial) becomes a crutch that is stopping a person from walking on their own?
  • Where a crutch allows the person to walk to the next place in their life?
  • Where whatever is in the way of the person accomplishing what needs to be done is an outside force that s/he has no control over?
If you are waiting for a wise answer, I don't have one. I wish my dad were still alive and could say "Have you thought of . . .?" and his wisdom would provide the magic wand.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Café du Soleil

There are restaurants and restaurants, bistros and bistros

The Cafe du Soleil has its own category.

I came across it in 1993, although it is the oldest bistro in Geneva spanning a century. The Geneva Writers Group met there one Saturday a month and then ate, usually their famous fondue.

Because it wasn't far from my house, it became a regular stop. When my daughter or RB2 lived with me we might amble over for a cup of tea, a class of wine or a meal after work.

It was a must go to for honored house guests. I even took business people there, but only those I really liked, to show them a touch of Switzerland.

My dogs Albert, Amadeus and Mika were always welcomed.

I would take business clients that I really liked.

When Rick and I reconnected I took him for fondue. We have held a few celebrations there since then.

Each year they put out a special calendar. I always get one for my daughter. One year when I couldn't get there, they were kind enough to mail me one.

Besides their fondue I love their warm lentil salad, their pineapple and basil dessert. RB2 was a fan of their meringues and double cream. They even serve Malakoffs at night, fried cheese balls which were introduced to the canton by a Russian soldier. They are coated fried cheese balls and one is filling.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

I need this

 Writers hunker down during a writing exercise at the GWG workshop.

I had no idea how much I needed today's workshop at the Geneva Writers Group. Sitting in a room with 50+ other writers on a spring day with bird song filtering thru the open doors was a reminder and a re-dedication to my craft.

Although I was surprised, I shouldn't have been.

In the 90s, the GWG workshops were a creative lifeline for my writing. My working days at that time were spent helping engineers find the correct electrical standards while working on other organizational communication projects. I would joke as I left for work, "I'm going to make the world safe for electricity."

Although not difficult, spending so many hours not doing what I really wanted to be doing -- writing -- left me drained making conjuring up the ideas that I had had on the walk to work difficult to capture.

Each monthly GWG workshop revitalized my energy that carried me at least halfway to the next month's session.

The last few months locked me into a chemo-induced stupor. The challenge was not to get words from my brain to the computer but to find the energy to walk across the room.

Now with renewed strength I have been trying to refocus but concentration has escaped me.

Words have pounded in my head as before, but they didn't quite make the keyboard.

Yet sitting with those other writers I found myself describing, defining and directing my thoughts. It was if the energy in the room banished the idea that instead of being a writer, I was an ex-writer.

For that I am once again grateful to the GWG.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Three legged chair

I was shocked to see that the three-legged chair in front of the UN was swathed in scaffolding. I asked the guard.

"It is being renovated," he said.

I wish they were tearing it down. It was put up to memorialize all the people who have been hurt by land mines. Later cluster bombs were added. The goal would be to take it down when all countries have signed the two treaties,

Since 1997 only a few countries have not signed. Thus it means more people will lose limbs and life for this horrible, but profitable war product.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Today was the first anniversary of our legal marriage although we have others including that of when:
  • We met several decades ago
  • We reconnected in Geneva
  • We had our commitment ceremony (to me the most important)
First great part was Rick coming back from his UK trip.

We had lunch at the Café du Soleil, where we ate the night we reconnected. And of course we had to have profiteroles for dessert and the waiter who heard it was our anniversary brought them with candles.

We often joked about licking a plate. Rick took me up on my dare today and was willing to pose. It is just one more reason I adore him.

He is there for good, bad, interesting, boring and silly times. I especially like the silly. We laugh every day thru everything.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I did it

Today was my first excursion on my own.

My helicopter husband is in the UK, however, I appreciate every whir of his blades as I was laid low with chemo which left me so weak, going up even three or four stairs or walking across a room required his assistance, never mind meals, laundry, shopping.

We fantasized when life would be normal again.

My first victory was walking to the bus, something that I didn't have the strength to do even a couple of months ago. I allowed 45 minutes BUT it only took 15. As I reached the bus stop, a bus pulled up meaning I needed to kill an hour until I met my family member of choice, someone I also call my French daughter and love dearly, for lunch at the UN where she has worked since the beginning of the year having transferred from New York..

I decided to take the Carouge Tram and snapped photos of grafetti and some art work.

Then it was time to meet with her. The guards checked me out and then we had a chance to chat in a way that we couldn't for a long time. It has been wonderful visiting with her, but this was the first time in years it has been one on one.

We took a walk thru gardens. Lovely sculptures, but I only snapped one.

Then it was time to walk to the bus. But now, I was really, really tired. I almost considered calling my former housemate to see if she could give me a ride from the bus stop, but it was downhill and I arrived feeling good.

For months I've been dreaming of normal.

Today was normal.

I did it.

Voting in Switzerland

Yes the photo is out of focus.

What is it?

My voting package which I have spent several hours reading and studying. Either they are writing the contents more simply or my understanding of French is improving but it still took a good part of the afternoon.

This is NOT a complaint. I was given Swiss citizenship and I take the right to vote very seriously. That means studying up on the issues. And I was automatically registered as voter the day I took my citizenship oath. A ballot for the next votation was in with my other documentation.

Some of the things we are voting on this time are simplified and combined:
  • A minimum income for everyone
  • Looking at financing of public services
  • Examination of embryos for genetic defects under special circumstances. I need much more study on this to make sure I understand what I think I understood
  • Use of gas taxes
  • Renters rights after five years in case of the owner wanting to sell the flat
  • Changes in the asylum laws
Two booklets are provided one for the Federal and one for the Canton issues
  • A summary
  • The point of view of the group offering the law
  • The government's point of view
  • A list of the 23 parties point of view (there are only about five major ones)
  • What each of the parties wants (scary when the far right and far left agree)
  • What other interested groups want
The envelope please with:
  • The envelope that the material comes in can also be used to mail back my vote
  • There is an envelope for the ballot
  • There is an identification card.
I can either mail my ballot or vote in person on the morning of June 5. There is internet voting allowed in some places.

I have not finished studying the issues.

I still need to look at the different party posters placed all over the country. I will check them out tomorrow.

I need to read various points of view in the Tribune de Genève. Sometimes if I vote too early, I later read or hear additional information that would have changed my vote. There for it is a balancing act between making sure I vote by mail early enough but not too early.

When I vote I hope I will have my point of view in focus.