Monday, September 26, 2016

Oxford lunch

We weren't in the city of Oxford. No university just our table.

Our lunch conversation about the Oxford comma over our Catalan rice and veggies were worthy of  Oxford dons over their tea and crumpets.

The Oxford Comma is about the only major disagreement between Rick and myself.

I was taught and believe a comma is a substitute for the word and...

Thus in the sentence I ate ice cream, hot fudge sauce and a cookie  it reads I ate ice cream and hot fudge sauce and a cookie.

If you use the Oxford comma it reads, I ate Ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and a cookie or I ate ice cream and hot fudge sauce and and a cookie. Sounds like stuttering my point of view.

Rick maintains the extra comma eliminates confusion. How confusing is hot fudge sauce and a cookie...really. Couldn't an idiot figure out it is the end of a series?

Since we are both writers he brought out his college grammar book and said, "If they say it isn't needed, I give up."

What happened?

It said that the comma is "often omitted." Back then, in the early 70s he was an Oxford comma fan and had written no.

To be fair they also added the extra comma is preferred.

So the verbal battle of the comma continues.

And as a result of the examples I have an overwhelming desire for a hot fudge sundae. I want to eat ice cream, hot fudge sauce, a cookie, a cherry and (no comma) whipped cream. 

Is anyone confused about the the cherry and whipped cream? 

Sunday, September 25, 2016


I have lived 27,010 days or approximately 648,240 hours.

What have I done with them?

In the beginning everything was done to and for me.

Eventually I had great accomplishments leading to autonomy, such as tying my shoe laces and learning to read thus opening the world to me.

I wish I could say none of those days were sad, but it isn’t true. One doesn’t live that long without loss and at least 1,000 days, well over three years over time I mourned the death of my marriage, my dad, Mardy, Barbara, my stepmom and others. 

The pain wasn’t constant, sometimes it came in fleeting moments when I wished there was something I could tell or show them something.

On the other hand, the wonderful things those I lost brought into my life far outweighed the sad days.

Even if I had to fight through university, those days left me alive intellectually.

Then there were the years spent at work. Most left me neutral (dry cleaners to pay for college, IEC to have a salary). And there were those jobs I could hardly wait to get to such as Polaroid and Digital Credit Unions).

Only two jobs did I hate. One was for a stamp company and that lasted only about three months. My first job in Switzerland took from my life for a total of 812 days but at the same time it gave me my residence permit and I made some lifelong friends. Can’t call those days wasted at all. The bad made the good better.

And there have been times of illness such as the normal measles, mumps and flu. There was too much time spent recovering from cancer, but even that wasn’t wasted thanks to my husband who did everything for me including briefing me on the end of Midsomer Murders when I fell asleep half way thru.

How many years have I spent writing?

No idea. It doesn't matter. Even when fighting over a word, a sentence I loved doing it.

I cannot measure in time the pleasure spent:

  • Curled up with a book
  • Watching a play, movie, TV show, ballet
  • Being with friends
  • Having a daughter
  • Discovering marriage could be not just a good but a great thing
  • Walking allowing me time to observe
  • Discovering a flower in a sidewalk and other beauty surprises
  • Sharing with others

 The list could go on, and on, and on, and…

Much of the reason my life has been so good is an accident of my birth in a good time, good place to good people.

If I lived another 3,650 days, not that I’m predicting my death for 25 Sept. 2026, how would I use them?

Hopefully, I would use them the same way I used the days in the past to savor the moments I’ve been given. It is a gift too precious to waste.


Friday, September 23, 2016

No Pollyanna

I am no Pollyanna even though I regularly post on Facebook the things that make me happy. There's so much. I have a wonderful husband and live in two wonderful places: Southern France and Switzerland. I am surrounded by such beauty and do so much that I love each day.

However, I am realistic to know there is much wrong. Here's my 10-item wish list for today.

1. No cop shoots an unarmed black man.
2. No cop gets shot.
3. No drones kill civilians anywhere in the world.
4. Israel does nothing to the Palestinians.
5. Palestine's story gets out to the world.
6. By some miracle a really good candidate for US president comes forth and has a chance (okay, I never said my wish list was realistic.)
7.  No pipeline bursts.
8. No railroad cars explode.
9. All veterans get the help they need.
11. All my Syrian friends will stay alive.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Relishing relish

The first time I tasted Eva's relish, I was two days into my first job. She had made it over the weekend and brought in a jar to share with her coworkers. She had put it on crackers. 

I wanted to steal the jar, but didn't think it would be good for my career to become a thief my first week of my professional career.

Because I'd raved about the relish, the next day she brought me a complete jar. 

I was thrilled when my ex-husband didn't like it, but that was his pattern--dislike whatever I did.

That was fine with me. I could have it all.

Fast forward several years, a divorce and a daughter. Eva had become my baby sitter and I shared a house with her daughter. We still loved the relish which she supplied us with each fall.

Then she had a heart attack. As her daughter and I were in the waiting room of the ICU, we both had the same thought -- no one has the relish recipe. 

Of course, we cared more about her recovery. 


That fall and every fall for as long as I lived in the US we made the relish together, banishing our men. My daughter considered it a right of passage when she was allowed into the relish making.

A coworker of Eva's daughter, who looked much like Queen Elizabeth I,  begged to be included in the making. We said yes. We were a coven of women with our bubbling cauldron.

Since moving to Europe I've made the relish only twice--once with a coworker and once this year, today, the date of an autumn equinox.

I asked a French friend who has spent decades in the US if she'd like to join me. She has missed sweet relish (brands bought in supermarkets) since returning to Europe and joked, that she always thought it grew on trees and had no idea how to make it. 

At nine and a little more she rang my bell. 

I was ready.

Yesterday I had brought the canning jars, onions, cukes, turmeric from my spice dealer, extra sugar and vinegar.

I remembered not to use aluminum.

I set my friend to work peeling the cukes. The recipe called for ten but we cut the quantity back by 1/5. All numbers quoted are the full recipe.

We processed them in my food processor, although Eva used her old-fashioned meat grinder. I had no idea where to find one thus the substitution. A girl has to improvise when a girl has to improvise.

We then added 4 tablespoons of salt and let it drain for two hours.
Taking 10 large onions, we used Eva's trick of holding a piece of bread in our mouths to reduce tearing as we cut, chopped and ran the onions  thru the food processor.

The pieces should all be fine.

We boiled the empty jars for 15 minutes.

In a separate pan we mixed:
  • 6 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup flour dissolved into vinegar
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 4 TBSP turmeric
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water

We boiled it for five minutes. After the cukes had been salted for two hours we added that and the onions to the liquid mixture and boiled for  ten minutes stirring often.

We ladled the mixture into the boiled jars and put them in water to boil for ten minutes.

When finished we sealed the jars...that is until we have some hamburgers, hot dogs, crackers, bread, etc. 

It's autumn. Next fall pie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Signs of fall

Never mind that the autumn equinox has come and gone.

The temperatures have dropped, but not enough to go into fall clothes, but sleeves feel good.

We can eat on the patio without melting.

Showers are warm to hot instead of cold to lukewarm.

It is time to make relish.

There are fewer tourists and the marché is no longer crowded.

Leaves fall.

We know there are more signs of fall in Geneva where we will go to the end of the month and we are really looking forward to a New England autumn.

And it is time to make relish and apple pies.