Thursday, October 17, 2019

Quiz Night

"The theme is torture that should be given to those who cheat on quizzes," Mark, the bulky quiz master said. "That will be the name of your team." We decided our team of two would be Exile.

We were at the pub around the corner, The Inverleith, from where we are staying in Edinburgh for the second time. It was Rick's first pub quiz.

It was rather crowded but we found a seat. We knew we were at a disadvantage because larger teams would have more knowledge, especially of things like local sports and music. As for TV we have seen enough British TV to have a fighting chance, except that category never came up. Nor did sports. Whew.

The first ten questions were about movies. Easy Peasy the first three questions. Then it got a little more difficult. Our results were acceptable.

Then came music -- 10 for 10 -- blank.

Science as slightly better and thank goodness for Art and Literature.

All in all it could be worse. We came in second, from last.

But we had lots of fun. We'll do it again sometime, some where.

Rick did a dueling blog

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

American wish

Llara, Rick and I were at Carcassonne airport waiting for our flight to Edinburgh. I took my daughter's passport and started thumbing through, checking her border stamps. At the top of each page was a sentence.

They were what I USED TO BELIEVE my birth country stood for.

"The principle of free government adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains." Daniel Webster

"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair." George Washington

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
U.S Constitution

"We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God that America will be true to her dream." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Let every nation know,whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,,support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." John F. Kennedy.

"This is a new nation, based on a mighty continent of boundless possibilities." Theodore Roosevelt

"Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the word must first come to pass in the heart of America." Dwight D. Eisenhower

"For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest of sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We say, 'Farewell?'Is a new world coming? We welcome it -- and we will bend it to the hopes of man." Lyndon B. Johnson

"May God continue the unity of our country as the railroad unites the two great oceans of the world."
Golden Spike, Promontory Point 1869

"We send thanks to all the Animal Life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are glad they are still here and we hope it will always be so." Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version.

"The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party of a class -- it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity." Anna Julia Cooper.

I hope it gets back to living those ideals.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Genetic talking

"How do you know them?" As a preteen decades ago, I had stood by and listened to either my mother or father talk-talk-talk with someone on the street, in a store, at an event, anywhere.

"I don't know them," they would reply. "It doesn't matter." They didn't say they knew them a little bit after the conversations.

This morning with my husband in London, it was my duty to walk Sherlock, who graciously waited until six.

Outside, the smells of baking bread and roasting chicken made getting out of bed worthwhile.

Vendors were beginning to set up their tables and stalls for the Saturday marché.

One vendor, a woman, looked at my pup and said in French, "He's so cute."

"Dis merci," I told Sherlock than wished her a good sales day when his tail wag was the closest thing to a thank you he could find.

After many pee-mails and sniffs around the village we passed the vendor again. "It's a lot of work setting up and taking the stuff down," I said in French.

"Yes, but I love it. I've been doing it 30 years."

We then chatted about how work can be satisfying compared to doing nothing, their freedoms as a self-employed despite the uncertainty... a week of rain can mean no marchés and if the veggies are already bought a double loss. She asked about me and I shared my checkered nationalities, my writing, my husband, where we lived here and in Geneva.

I talk to strangers regularly if they are open to it and most are. I kinda look for those that will be open. I have discovered fascinating snippets of peoples' lives which in turn have enriched my life.

I can't help myself. It's in my genetic makeup.

Monday, October 07, 2019

A proud wrinkly

I first heard the term wrinkly before I was one.

My friend (a man whom I call the brother I always wanted) and I were about to go to a Barclay James Harvest concert at the then Noga Hilton Theatre in Geneva. He had introduced me to the group when I was first in Switzerland.

At the time he was 29 and I was 47. Not wrinklies by any means. They were playing in Lausanne and I loved them.

We were then in our 50s and 60s. They were doing a reunion concert.  His wife didn't want to go saying, there would be "too many wrinklies."

Thanks to good genes, my skin has been slow to wrinkle. Strangely my left cheek has a few more lines than my right. I've been told that I look younger than my years, but who in their right mind would tell someone they looked older than their years.

Still, the term wrinkly fits for those of us who are aging. I don't mind it although others may.

Years ago, when still in my early 40s I read an essay by a woman who claimed she never lied about her age. She asked that if she lied, which year of her life would be eliminated and went on to name important events, good and bad. Those years made her who she was that moment.

My hair is white. I wanted to stop dyeing it for years but hated having to see roots as it grew out. Chemo helped by removing all the old red number 666 (yes that was the number on the box). I've read that more and more women are preferring to go gray. It looks more natural.

Even when I am shocked at how many years I've lived, I am equally happy at how well I've lived. Not because I'm rich in money, but rich in all the things that count and especially in love both received and given.

So call me a wrinkly. I've earned every little crevice...

Sunday, October 06, 2019

A special gift

It was a simple gift, but a very special one, a book: Images of America Reading. I grew up and spent about a third of my life in that Massachusetts town which was founded in 1639.

My roots, even as a Swiss and an ex-American will always be New England Yankee, right down to my great grandmother’s bean pot.

Many of the photos I recognized, some I did not. Words like Torre, Willis Drug Store, Harrow’s chicken pot pie, Red Farms, sent warm wriggles through me.

I noticed how many small businesses were in existence and not just stores. It represented a different economy, a local economy. Only a few days before being given the book, I’d talked to my husband about Ace Corners, those little triangles we used to fasten photos into albums.

I’ve been back to Reading in the last ten years and it was different while being the same. It was like almost remembering where things were. Unlike many towns, it has not been deserted with boarded up storefronts abounding.

The book is one of a series about towns in the US. Each has a personal history as important to preserve as the big events. It’s like lots of pennies make up a dollar. Lots of stories about people make up a country.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Marché musings

There are so many reasons that marché shopping is so rewarding rather than just going to a supermarket. Yuck

A Catalan lady had pumpkins. Unlike in the US, they aren't everywhere. We noticed next to the pumpkins and gourds, a green veggie that we didn't know what it we asked. Not only did she give us the name (which I can't spell) she told me to boil it, peel it, and then mash it adding olive oil (preferred), butter and maybe parsley. It can also be roasted, she said. Then she asked where Sherlock was. She agreed the marché with all those ankles and feet is not a good place for him. I  will try it Monday.

When I got them home, I added  a couple of googly eyes. Maybe I should have done a third.

Going back out we ran into our friend/builder and discussed the project for the Nest: minor repairs and painting.

We gave empty cartons to the egg lady as we bought her eggs. She has lots of chickens but we always recycle our cartons. Another woman came by with empty cartons. The egg lady says she either has none or a surplus. Surplus is better.

We met two friends from Provincetown, MA who are visiting. They were buying marché clothes for their winter in Mexico.

A quick stop at the art gallery to see the latest exhibition. The curator (also a friend) explained why the paintings were so dark. The artist lost all his family in the Holocaust. She applauded that I likened them in style to Rembrandt who was an influence.

At the librarie (bookstore) the owner pointed out that they had another writer who also had English Translations  and she was signing. She is a dual citizen and we had a long chat and I hope we can get together when we can arrange it.

We stopped by Les Gourmandise de Pauline. We'd seen on Facebook that she had made oreo cheesecake and we bought two for our afternoon tea. In chatting with Pauline, a lovely and hard working young woman, she talked about visiting her brother in Lake Havasu City. I told her I had worked for them in Boston. At the time sales people working from leads decided who might be a perspective buyer and then sent them on their private planes to see property. Mondays when the sales results were in was always exciting. Getting people on the flight didn't count. Getting buyers on the planes did.

We looked at scarves from one of the stands and told a couple of buyers how there are youtubes to show all the ways to tie scarves.

We stopped at L'Hostalet, the hotel/café near us. Hot chocolate for Rick, tea for me and their special mini cakes was great.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019


I don't understand.

Why do those who have so much begrudge others who have so little.

Take Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world. Yes, he build a tremendous empire often on the backs of others.

Why then would he refuse medical insurance to his part time workers. It would only cost him a couple hours of his pay, if that.

It is not just Bezos. U.S Congressmen who have great health care and pensions want to reduce or eliminate both to those that live ordinary lives. Most are millionaires.

This is just two examples of too many.

Years ago my roommate and my three-year old daughter were on the way to the swimming pool. My roommate picked up the ball.

My daughter grabbed the ball. "Mine."

My roommate said nothing until my daughter reached for the towel. "Mine,"  my roommate said. She repeated the same thing to everything my daughter touched. My daughter got the message.

We are all better when we share some of our surplus. I don't understand why others don't think this way.