Monday, October 26, 2020


There is a story about the man in a cabin on a boat who drilled a hole in floor and let water in because he had a right to. It was his cabin. No matter that he drowned his fellow passengers. He had his rights. 

He was an idiot. He was an unintentional murderer.

That is how I feel about the people who ignore the safety measures on the virus. 

No one has a right to behave in a way that hurts me and others. I do not have the right to behave in a way that endangers them.

It have a right to throw a punch but it must stop at your nose and your right to yell fire in crowded movie theater only exists when there is a fire.

Covoid-19 is a fire. It's a mega fire worse those that have damaged the American West. 

There are consequences to stupid actions. College kids that held parties ended up back on line rather than in class. Those that didn't go to parties still they are impacted by the actions of others.

Some pastors who held church services have died and members of their congregation have died. Their ignorance and wilful stupidity have hurt others.

I don't like wearing a mask. My nose runs, my glasses fog. Between it muffling my words and my bad French accent, I repeat more times than normal. I have to ask people to repeat. I now feel sorry for surgeons who wear masks through hours and hours of surgery. I never realized they might be uncomfortable. Still, I wouldn't want to be operated on by a non-mask wearing doctor. 

If I am on the street and no one is around, I might slip my mask down--or not.

Mask-wearing is better than getting sick. It is far better on the off-chance I was positive without symptoms that I might have killed a friend, a neighbor, someone I didn't know or even might dislike.

It is not that big a pain to give contact information at a restaurant where the tables are distanced. 

I miss hugs. I know hugs aren't that francophonish, but I have several friends where locked arms bring a sense of peace. Hugs are supposed to lower blood pressure. Who knows for how long before I can give or get a good hug.

The pandemic left us locked down for six weeks in the spring. We didn't have to deal with kids and on-line schooling, and my husband and I are both writers who spend most of our time together anyway. We like each other. So no big thing. 

To go out we needed to fill out a form. We were limited to an hour and kilometer not far enough to take the dog to the beach.

As debt-free retirees that are self employed and live way under our incomes. Although some things have changed or modified, we do not worry about money.  It is heartbreaking to think of hungry people, homeless people, jobless people. We are aware of how lucky we are.

We are grateful that many governments including France and Switzerland are supporting those most hurt, but it doesn't make up for the losses. We worry about the businesses that we patronize, and our friends who own them.

A man was on the news this morning. His business is bankrupt. He spent over 20 years building it.

Our problems in the spring were more governmental because of needed paperwork in getting home to Switzerland. Even when the lock down was lifted our limit was 100 K for a 600K+ trip. We risked it and were able to enter my country. Now we have more paperwork that needs to be done and we are afraid of the limitations to once again travel from France to Switzerland to the quarantine once we get there which means we can't do the paperwork. 

Again, our problems are minuscule compared to those on ventilators, who cannot say goodbye to loved ones dying, who are afraid of eviction, etc., etc., etc. 

The 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in France is not a problem. Our idea of a good night is with a Netflix, DVD, or book. We can still walk the dog. But there's still the paperwork we can't get to.

Anger is not a positive emotion, but it is hard for me to not feel waves of anger at the idiots who are ignoring the safety precautions, extending the pandemic and the hundreds of thousands of people across the planet who have increased suffering because of the stupidity and arrogance of others. 

Wear a mask.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Changing Clocks

 I have two favorite days of the year. One is the winter solstice.

The other is when we change the clocks back from daylight savings time. 

The instructions are to turn the clock back one hour before going to bed.

I don't.

Rick was bothered by that and I'm not sure that he understood, that I prefer to wait until afternoon and when I feel the day is ending, I can be surprised by another hour of life. The hour stolen from me in the spring, comes back. It is a gift.

While Rick was hitting golf balls, I changed our clocks from 4/16 to 3/15 except for the microwave. Still have to battle that one. I made sure I told him, so he wouldn't do it, making it 2 hours change.

Next thrilling day? The winter solstice.

Friday, October 23, 2020


President Macron praised teachers during his homage to the slain Samuel Paty. I couldn't help but think of all the teachers that made a difference in my life. In some ways they created my life.

In kindergarten Mrs. Jones was my teacher. I wanted the other lady who taught the next year. But when the next year came, my mother took over the class so I had Mrs. Jones again. It took two years to work up the nerve to ride the trike down the hill at outdoor playtime. Only years later when visiting Mrs. Jones did I realize that the huge hill was barely a slope.

Mrs. Jones would put stickers on our foreheads when we were extra good. I would want mine in my hand. I pasted them under the curtain in the living room. They were still there when my family sold the house when I was in college.

Mrs. Weagle was my first grade teacher until we moved to West Virginia at Christmas. I was so excited to learn to read. Dick and Jane were boring and I taught myself, finishing the book during the first month. At home I was able to read the Jack and Jill short stories, then the Bobbsey Twins and the Thornton W. Burgess books. 

Mrs. Weagle told my mother her sister so liked my name, she named her daughter Donna-Lane.

In West Virginia they sent me to private school run by Miss Blanche Miller, the sadist. My grandmother helped me catch up so by January when I started I knew the required times tables through 12 and could spell words that helped my reading. 

 Miss Blanche's ruler was never far from her hand. 

I remember a classmate, one of five of us, Bobby, who had curly hair. He messed his pants when she wouldn't let him go to the bathroom.

She made me go on the monkey bars. I hated every second of it. 

On the other hand I loved how we learned all kinds of things like how silk was made from silk worms. The lessons made the three hours of the school bearable.

Back in Massachusetts, Miss Carol was my third grade teacher at the Lowell Street School. The school suggested to my mother I be put in fourth grade but she said no. I was already the shortest child in third grade.

Milk was brought in each day but by snack time it was warm and repulsive. The cookies we could buy for a penny were not.

I was bored, bored, bored. No longer could I write cursive but had to print in big letters. I knew about different kinds of sentences. It was probably the only time in my life I was ahead in math. 

During the spring, I had mumps, measles then ran a low-grade fever for six weeks. I didn't want to go back to school once I was well. I rubbed poison ivy on my face. BIG MISTAKE. My mother used the entire prescribed lotion on my face to my screams. Only when she asked for a second bottle was she told that it was one part solution to ten parts water. The doctor consulted with a dermatologist and through the applications of many creams, I wasn't permanently scared. I never told my mother, I'd done it deliberately. If I were to meet her heaven, I doubt that I would confess.

Fourth grade was better with Mrs. Beaton, whom my mother had had for fourth grade with the exception of having to play the flutophone. It had a nice taste but the sound left much to be desired. 

There were a series of pamphlets on all kinds of subjects that we could read if we finished our work. I read every single one of them, enjoying those about famous historical figures the most.

I was allowed to start a school newspaper. Pupils from grades one to four submitted stories. My mother typed them up and had copies mimeographed for every one.

Fifth grade was at the Highland Street School, much bigger. Miss Joney was okay. School was something I went to and did, finding it neither difficult nor pleasurable.

When my mother complained to the principal Miss Graham who lived with Mrs. Beaton, that my spelling left much to be desired, Miss Graham said she expected I would have a secretary. My mother asked how I would know if my secretary was right.

I remember more the smiley pie day and the school fair where a doll with a trunk of turn of the century clothes was the prize in a drawing. I wanted that doll so badly. 

I didn't win it. 

We seemed to spend a lot of time coloring maps of the United States and learning about the different states. Most pupils had never been out of Massachusetts and the possibilities of different ways of living intrigued me.

The sixth grade was at the Prospect Street School across town. Mrs. Loud made Greek and Roman history seem as real as shopping at the Atlantic Super Market. So much so, that Roman and Greek Gods and goddesses became part of my imaginary life. The two huge rocks left by a glacier on our land became Roman Temples.

 Mrs. Loud was helpful with the way she handled that I was one of two girls who had started their periods. She saw to it I was never embarrassed.

Junior High meant we now changed classes. We were put in groups named for constellations. It didn't take much imagination to learn that the smart kids were in the constellations starting with A and it went downhill from their. 

I had no bad teachers. Mr. Copithorne was great for science, although my grades fluctuated. I loved the geology section but weather bored me. Mr. Butcher taught Soc. (social studies) and we learned about different countries increasing my desire to travel. I started looking at the piles of National Geographics stashed in our spare room. I had a crush on my math teacher Mr. Ganley who had beautiful eyes.

I started Latin, and declensions never made sense to me until as an adult I lived n Germany and studied German. Mrs. Eldridge, the teacher had a receding chin and raised Basset Hounds. My daughter would take five years of Latin at Boston Latin School and do well.

My parents were getting a divorce. I know the teachers gave me leeway because of it. I played on it. There were only two other kids with divorced parents and they were twins. The school secretary's daughter was the other student from a single-parent family. Her father had died.

High school was big time. I was a fair student doing well in subjects I loved, English, history and suffered with algebra. My mother had me tutored and because of nerves, I giggled throughout the lessons. I imagine the tutor dreaded the sessions as much as I did. When I repeated algebra, I aced it. I still don't care what X was.

Geometry to me wasn't math because we wrote out the the theorems.

Dr. Zimmerman, Zimmy, taught biology, chemistry and anatomy. For three years, five days a week, her wisdom penetrated my brain. I didn't realize how much until I took biology at university and knew almost everything the professor had to say.

In anatomy the text book had the sexual organ drawings cut out. We were able to find a complete copy. The drawings were boring.

Mr. Bond had us read books that I love to this day. Grapes of Wrath had me discovering the importance of symbolism that I apply in my own writing today.

Mr. Aldrich, whom I had for U.S. history, had us reading the newspaper for political events. My assignment was Cuba. I learned a bigger lesson: one could admire a person's abilities without liking them personally.

Poor Mr. Myers. His students drove him to a nervous breakdow and he was replaced by Mr. LaHood who would have been equally at home heading up the mafia or the marines. Still his world history lessons were fascinating, but I fought back when he said that mothers should not work or their kids would become juvenile delinquents. I pointed out my mother worked and I wasn't a juvenile delinquent. He never apologized, but he never repeated the claim.

Mr. D'Orlando for senior English was probably the most influential teacher ever. Ever. His saying that nothing is all black or all white but many shades of gray. My love of reading exploded if that were possible. He wanted to teach us Othello but couldn't because of racial issues. I immediately found a copy and read it.

It was in high school I started working as a junior reporter for the Lawrence Eagle Tribune covering the town of Reading. I was living my dream to be a reporter. Although I was shy, it forced me to push to get the story rather than to face the wrath of my editor. I would do this until I eloped at age 20.

I started university of Merrimack College, a Catholic college. Although my mother was anti Catholic, she thought it better to go to university where I could live at home. Never matter all the universities in Boston that existed...they were in the dangerous city.

It never felt right. The president took over our logic class one day and wouldn't admit what he said was wrong. I didn't go back for the second semester.

Working as file clerk convinced me that I needed to go back to university. I applied and was accepted at Lowell, a school that has gone through many transformations and is now Lowell's largest employer.

                                                Dr. Burto was a renaissance man  

I learned so much from Dr. Burto, Dr. Goler, Dr. Williams, the Blewetts, Peter and Mary. I was taught about art and increased my knowledge in music. I married after my Freshmen year, moved to Germany for two years and returned to finish much against my ex-husband's wishes. It was a battle but the teachers filled my heart and soul with knowledge that still warms me today. They opened my mind to the world.

Macron was right about the importance of teachers. I am who I am because of the seeds of  knowledge that they planted.

Monday, October 19, 2020



Years ago I worked with a woman who loved brand name anything. Her pride and joy was a Pierre Cardin pocketbook.

It was rather ugly, beige with PC all over it.

She had gone without other things just so she could carry that stupid pocketbook.

Now, I am happy when other people are happy, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with them.

I do not understand people who buy a product for the names.

The latest idiocy are the Gucci pre-run nylons. They cost, I'm told, about 140 Euros/$164 dollars. I can buy a pair of panty hose at Migros for about $5.00/$5.64 wear them whole until they catch on something and save a lot of money. 

I doubt if many people would tell the difference between the expensive brand name and the store brand. I suspect if they thought I'd paid all that money for the Gucci they might question my intelligence.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Magnet memories


Wherever we go we look for a magnet. Not only is our fridge covered, Rick ended up putting them on the stairs leading to the bathroom.

 Out fridge in France was so full of magnets we moved all the Swiss ones from our French  to our Swiss fridge.

It isn't just the magnets themselves.

When I open the freezer door I see the bagpipe that plays a Scottish folk song when you press it. But it also triggers memories walking down Princes Street in Edinburgh, and the bagpipe player in full kilt playing "Amazing Grace." I see Julia and me in a tea room above Scott's statue eating scones and drinking tea. And then there's the day Llara and I ate Sushi above Princes Street.

Then there's the Heidi heart bought when we passed Heidiland by accident and decided on the spur to the moment to go in. We walked through the village recreation. I can still  hear the goats in my imagination just as I did when I read the book as a child. Even if it is in Switzerland we are leaving it with other heart magnets.

When I left Stuttgart after living there for two years, I thought I'd never be able to return but the Stuttgart magnet(s) show several returns. It is where I fell in love in living in Europe. 

It is also where we decided to find unusual museums. In Stuttgart it was a museum dedicated to pigs, some 40,000 plus. There was a prostitute museum in Amsterdam and a miniature museum in Ticino. We will continue to search them out when we can travel again.

Then there's the Liechtenstein castle which we could see from out hotel. It was step three of our honeymoon (visit the principalities of Andora, Monaco, Liechtenstein and San Marino).

When I see the magnet I remember the roses on the bed and the conversation with the owner about a certain kind of tree. When the women couldn't think of the name, she looked it up and called our room to tell us.

And at the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, I could show Rick a painting of Jacques Fournier, Pope Benedict XII, a major character in my novel Murder in Paris. 

Year ago, there was a television program "This is Your Life" where Ralph Edwards would recapture a person's life. In a way, our fridge is a recapture of our lives: things that made us laugh, discover something, share a moment of happiness. It will conjure up good meals, hotels and BnBs. 




Monday, October 12, 2020




This was from my daughter. We were in a Reading High School souvenir store. Rick had just said, "We could get matching shirts."

"That's what old folk do on cruises," she added.

We were on a nostalgia tour. He was showing me his childhood, I was showing him mine. 

We did get Reading Rockets shirts, but not matching. Rick uses his as pj top. I roll over at night and in the dim light, I have memories of football games in crisp fall air, book covers with the rocket and R on them and wearing red and black to show my school loyalty.

When we picked Llara up the following spring, we wore our non-matching Reading Rocket shirts.

No yuck that time when we hugged. Maybe she thought at least we weren't wearing them on a cruise.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Sleeping around

My husband posts photos of the beds he sleeps in each year on Facebook. Most years it is in the high twenties or thirties because we travel a lot.

Our sleeping around this year came to screeching halt. The photo above was in Ticino, Switzerland and was bed six. One and two were our real beds in Argelès-sur-mer and Geneva. 

The pandemic put an end to our travel plans to Ireland, Scotland, Austria and his plans to several places in the U.S.  

When I traveled professionally, most of the hotels I stayed in were chains. I was there to sleep, eat breakfast if I were lucky before going out working all day and sometimes into the night. There was one period when I was on the road for a couple of weeks with a different Holiday Inn. Monotony but at least most of the bathrooms were in the same place which helped in the middle of night.

I do love staying in hotels. Especially in Germany, I loved the breakfasts with all kinds of breads, cheeses, fruits, meats, juices, hot chocolate to select from. Although one of the best breakfast buffets I ever had was in Malta that dwarfed the German ones. It is only a slight exaggeration to say one almost needed transportation around the offerings.

When we did travel more, Rick delighted in finding interesting beds in hotels or in BnBs.

I loved the week on a houseboat in Amsterdam. We waved to boats going by. It was a BnB and it was fun having all the basics but not much more.

A Dublin hotel was in a remodeled schoolhouse. Each name bore the name of a famous Irish writer. The Irish fry up rivaled the English breakfasts. 

"How would you like to sleep in a bubble?" Rick asked. I would. We did. The photo is not the exact bubble but close enough. Ours was on top of a roof and we went to sleep seeing the top of pines and stars. The owners had champagne and roses for us because we told them it was part of our ongoing honeymoon. In the end we ended up having a Thai meal cooked by the owners' daughter and a conversation as the sun set over the valley.

In Davos we stayed where Merkel, Clintons and Obamas had stayed during the World Economic Forum. We took Sherlock and they had a puppy bed, puppy dishes and puppy treats waiting for him. Each time we walked through the lobby the staff would greet the dog than remember we were there too. While he played golf Sherlock and I walked around the area.

Twice we've stayed in a typical Swiss hotel in Bern with a cage type elevator.

And we were the last and only ones in a Gruyere hotel before they shut down for a pandemic. It gave us a chance to chat with the owners/operators and listen to their survival concerns.

There was a hotel in Neuchâtel where we stayed for a reunion overlooking a brook. It had a turret and they had left books to read in the sitting area.

Or the most beautiful blue stenciled on white Victorian furniture in a hotel when we were on a Museum visit in Lucerne.

This past weekend, when Rick was playing a Hickory Championship in Ticino, I found myself staying mostly in the hotel. We were on a hill and at the bottom was mainly shopping, BUT the view was spectacular, I used the time to chill, write, read and when feeling brave check the news. 

Without Sherlock, I don't remember when I felt so relaxed. I got to know a few of the staff in the process. One of the things I adore is finding out about people and building strings to other lives no matter if they are spider web fragile. 

We are thinking of renting a small camper for future trips to reduce the risk of contamination. They'll only be the one bed to photograph, but the location of the bed will change. I am looking forward to that too.