Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reunion



Herr Hare, Honey Bunny and Scooby II hug at their reunion in Geneva. They were even happier to learn that Rick and DL would take them on their trip, although Honey Bunny was worried that Petite Cougar would be upset at being left behind in Argelès.

Let's face it women are always more sensitive to these kinds of dynamics.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Covering Banderas with guacamole



I am 72 and a writer

Isabelle Allende is 71 and a writer.

This video is a very funny presentation but the sentiment of living life to the fullest is right on.



If you know her story as well as her books, you know she has had great pain in her life, yet she embraces life with a passion.

And her secret erotic passion. To put Banderas on a Tortilla slather him with guacamole and eat him.

Not sure about Banderas as a snack but to live with passion is certainly on my daily to do list.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Le Train Bleu morphs into the Montreux Jazz Cafe

When people fly into Geneva, we tell them to meet us at the Montreux Jazz Cafe on the arrivals floor, where the acts from different festivals are constantly playing on the screens.

When I used to leave Paris early in the morning from the Gare du Lyon I'd always eat petit déjeuner at the brasserie for Le Train Bleu with its wall paintings from La Belle Epoque and its long-aproned waiters.

Thus when Rick and I were to meet up Wednesday at the Gare du Lyon he was arriving earlier. I suggested he wait at Le Train Bleu and if we didn't meet on the quai, I'd go there. 

He was at the quai and told me that Le Train Bleu had morphed into the Montreux jazz cafe.


I was horrified. I love the Jazz cafe which is owned by a watch company Parmigiani Fleurier in the Vals de Travers where I lived 1990-1993 but Le Train Bleu was something special.

However the brasserie was only part. Up a staircase was the main restaurant which has been in existence since 1901. It has appeared in a number of movies.
Thus when leaving Paris to go back to Geneva, we ate at the Jazz Cafe and listened to the musicals on the screen from the 2013 festival where once had been wonderful murals.

I stayed with the luggage and sent Rick upstairs to admire the main restaurant.








This is for you Doug

It was well over 10 years ago when my beloved cousins Doug and Ellen visited me in Geneva. At one point, Doug who didn't expect to come back to Europe expressed his regret he'd never see the Eiffel Tower.

"No problem," I said. "We'll go Saturday." He was unaware that the TGV takes about 3.5 hours city to city.

We arrived in the city of light, ate in the Latin Quarter, went out to see the Eiffel tower and then went back to Gare du Lyon to catch the train back to Geneva.

Grève. 


Our train was cancelled because of a strike, giving my cousins a true French experience. And in true French form the next train was running.

I changed our reservations and dropped my tickets into my backpack, but when I wanted to give Doug and Ellen theirs, they had dropped to the bottom of my backpack. I knelt down on the floor and started digging through the backpack much like a dog searching for his buried bone.

Doug knelt in front of me and started digging exactly the same way.

Although it wasn't that funny, we started giggling then laughing and we couldn't stop. And couldn't stop and couldn't stop, and couldn't stop. One of us would get control for a second and the other would dig.

Poor Ellen was helpless as she watched.

We did get control.

We did get back to Geneva.


The next day my muscles were sore from the laughter.

It's a good reason to have sore muscles.

Today I was at the Gare du Lyon. I found the spot where we did and took this photo for Doug.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The bunnies at Montmarte


Honey Bunny: I can't believe we're here in Paris. And Montmartre with all the artists.

Herr Hare: Petite Cougar will be so upset. I'm sorry she's not with us.

Honey Bunny: Me too. I love the salad.

Herr Hare: But not the Croque Madame.

Honey Bunny: So tomorrow, it's back to Geneva.

Herr Hare: So I hear. 

Honey Bunny: I wonder what our next adventure will be.





A CNN poll makes me feel ill



Granted this is not a scientific poll. 14 years ago on Thursday the US was attacked. Yet Americans are willing to attack other countries. Don't they think that people in those countries are as afraid as they were on 9/11?

Does a bomb landing on a person in the US feel any worse than a bomb landing on a person in Syria, Pakistan, Yemen or any other country that the US is bombing?

What military action of the US has worked out well in the last 20 years?

How many groups have the US armed only to end up fighting them a few years later?

When the US was attacked, it only made people angry, seeking revenge. Why don't Americans think that their attacking other countries will only increase the desire for revenge and perpetuate war?

The willingness to cause misery to other people sickens me. 





Poor Petite Cougar...

All alone in Argelès. Scooby II hid in D-L's suitcase because he wants to go to the US and meet his father.

Rick took Honey Bunny and Herr Hare with him to run the camera while he proposed.


SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shower thinking

When I worked for IEC, my boss and I would start many conversations with "I was in the shower this morning and..."

What followed was what ever idea that had come into our minds.

As a child we didn't have a shower, but an old fashioned footed tub.


I was bathed with my kid brother UNTIL he deliberately peed in the water.

I went on a life-long not-bathing-with-him strike.


As an adult and I discovered showers in Germany, I went decades without taking a bath until I was in a hotel in Poland that only had baths.

Okay, I thought. I'll try a bath at home with candles and Enya in the background.

Did I like it?

Nah, I still felt dirty when I got out of a bath even though my brother is nowhere in sight and hasn't been for years. We aren't even on the same continent.

I love showers. They heat my bones in cold weather and cool me off in summer's heat. 

I write mentally in the shower and sometimes words are dancing in my head to a point I almost forget where I am.

And this blog?

Created in the shower.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear NSA--about bar codes

Dear NSA...

Rick and I were on the Champs-Elysèe yesterday and we saw this poster with the stripes on the roof and striped side-view mirrors, which I love.

But I have a question. I've read that all cars are going to have tracking systems which means the police or you guys can find a car anytime, anyplace.

I know there are ways to track cars because I used one in Murder in Ely which will be out in April. And there are companies that sell the products that allow it on the Internet. But every car automatically? Is it true?

But when I looked at the stripes on the roof, it looked like bar coding so maybe that's how you'll do it.

Love,
DL

The boy beggar

We were buying our metro tickets at La Defense...

A skinny little boy stood next to the machine trying to tell us how do it with a few words of broken English. He had a cup in his hand.

For some reason Rick's debit card didn't work, although it was fine the rest of the day. He used another and the tickets came out.

The boy and I pumped "Yeses." 

I gave him two Euros.

I walked away feeling badly that a child that young was a beggar. He could have been a gypsy child, the child of very poor parents, but he was a child with big brown eyes that was leading a very hard life.

I went back and asked him how old he was.

"12."


"Merci," I said, knowing I could do nothing to change his life.

He put his hands together and bowed and I walked away.




The proposal

My husband is a romantic.

He originally had planned to propose at the top of the Tour Eiffel. However, things didn't work out, but he didn't give up.

No matter, that we had our ceremony Aug. 10, 2013.

Back in Paris this week, we headed for the Tower.

Here I feel badly, because he wanted to go the top. I'm terrified of heights. Thus, he good naturedly revamped his plans. (I feel badly, still, that I'm a chicken)

Wanting to capture the moment on video (we're a family that tapes, blogs, Facebooks and photographs our lives). I watched him pull Herr Hare and Honey Bunny out of his manbag.

He also had brought the box my engagement ring had come in. Then he proposed again.

With tears in my eyes I said, "YES!"

(Note: A number of husbands of friends are saying he's making them look bad.)


Onion Soup in Paris X2

The onion soup advertised in the restaurant along the Champs-Elysée seemed tempting. Enough to starve off his hunger and not enough to stuff me so soon after I'd eaten breakfast. 

We wanted to save room as well for the Syrian food from our hostess that evening.

I was reminded of the time I took Llara to Paris at age nine. It was time for her to learn more about the world than just the East Coast US.

We walking down the Champs-Elysée. The day before she wanted to eat at McDonald's. I'd given in only so she could see the differences. That day was my choice. 

She ordered the onion soup. When it arrived, she commented that our housemate Bill's was better. She was right.

However, the soup Rick and I had was almost as good as his.

Here's his recipe.

4 large white onions
olive oil
ginger
flour
1 quart of beef bouillon
mozzarella 
thin sliced french bread toasted or made into croutons

Saute the onions in olive oil until transparent, sprinkle with flour and ginger, add the bouillon and simmer for a half and hour. Serve in bowls with croutons and the shredded mozzarella.

There are more elaborate methods but this is quick and easy.

 

Comedy of errors in Paris

My hostess carefully explained the alarm system.  I wrote it on a post-it and put it by the door. The next morning was gone, but I remembered how to set the alarm.

Outside, I realized I'd forgotten my dark glasses.

I also had forgotten what to push to deactivate the alarm.

Boy was it loud.

I needed to call my hostess which meant...

Finding the telephone...

Finding glasses to read the telephone number.

Just then the landline rang.

"What's going on?" My hostess asked. "The alarm company called."

She added that she'd told the company to shut off the alarm.

"It's happened before," she told me later.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Screwing around

The screw came out of the glasses that I use for working on the computer.

Because I'm leaving for Paris in the morning, I mentally added in time to go to the optician on my way to the train station. 

I'd forgotten how competent my housemate is. AND ORGANIZED!!!

She brought out her eye repair kit with the screws and tiny screwdriver, put a facecloth over the drain in the sink and went to work.

There was the time I found her in the Japanese restaurant Mikadoo taking a drain apart to retrieve her missing contact. Normally she does the facecloth trick to prevent losing her contacts down our drain, but she wasn't at home when she had to remove her contact thus no facecloth that day.

Good thing we did it this time, because we kept dropping the tiny screw from the repair kit.

Why do it over the sink?

Best lighting. Easier to find the screw in the sink than on the floor.

I wish I'd counted the failures. It didn't help that we began to giggle (probably had nothing to do with the champagne and popcorn consumed earlier).

We'd get the two parts lined up, but the screw was so tiny that any movement (giggle=movement) meant it fell. Even a tiny screw makes a cute click on ceramic. It makes no sound on a washcloth.

I finally cupped my hands under the glasses as she worked  with the screw in a Oliver Twist "More, Sir, Please" position to save finding the screw in the washcloth threads.

We wished we counted the tries. I couldn't see well enough without my glasses to be much help. She improved her own eye-finger co-ordination after removing her contacts.

Mission accomplished.

As she put the remainder of the eye repair kit away she discovered it came with a magnifying glass.

My housemate did her version of our screwing around late at night http://viewsfromeverywhere.blogspot.ch/http://viewsfromeverywhere.blogspot.ch/
.

This is not a complaint

It is a statement of fact not a complaint.

I'm frustrated.

Why?

I've too much to do, some of it my fault.

1. A newsletter to finish.

2. Another to mark up. Because I won't be working on my upcoming trip I need to make sure my clients receive something. I drive myself too hard for I am issues ahead of the promised number.

3. Murder in Schwyz, needs a final check to get off to my publisher.

4. I want to get back to writing Murder in Edinburgh. That's where I'm frustrated. I can't seem to get to the novel.

5. I want to finish my mother's recipe blogs.

6. I want to play more computer games.

7. I want to check more news sites.

8. I want to watch DVDs with my housemate.

9. I want to Skype with my husband.

We've got some great travel coming up which will slow up the novel writing.

What's the problem?

Me.

I try and cram too much into anyone day.





Monday, September 08, 2014

The world's biggest caper

Being too lazy too cook, but not too lazy to go to Marro (Marronier in Collonge-Bellerive) for lunch, I walked to the next village through the late, lush summer country side. The trees and grapevines are all ladened with fruit.




Manager Antonio gave me his usual warm greeting.


My starter had what I think could compete for the world's biggest caper. I  enjoyed two bites not the usual one. The rabbit was falling-off-the-bone tender. The chef told me the rice had coriander, mint, ginger and several other herbs and spices explaining why it was so luscious.

As always, when I go to a restaurant alone, I had a book with me, but that doesn't stop me from observing the activity.

An Italian grandmother and grandson were at the table in front of me. The chef chatted with her in Italian and when the little boy's pizza arrived it had two extra pieces, rabbit ears and there were two olive eyes.

Then as the grandmother was paying the bill, the little boy dived under the table. The waitress, Cecile, whom I've not seen before, automatically put her hand on the corner of the table so he wouldn't hit his head when he emerged.

Love that restaurant because treatment is so personal, not just for those that are there often, but for the new customers as well.

On the walk back, I took a different route. There are just enough fallen leaves to perfume the air with the spirit of autumn.

I'm so, so happy.





The cover for my next novel

My publisher just sent the cover for my next novel due out in April. The cover, as have all my covers been, were designed by the talented Deirdre Wait using the photo taken by my equally talented housemate/photographer Julia.

The pair have done wonderful work on my last few covers. To see others the others check out my website.

I am so lucky to have my writing enhanced by these wonderful women.

Dear NSA

8 Sept. 2014

Dear NSA...

I don't know if you can help. Today I had to call the US Consulate in Bern and they have one of those answering machines that says if you want this press that, and that press this.

I pressed, pressed, pressed, pressed, pressed, pressed. Finally got to the information I wanted. They gave a web address. The only problem they gave it much too fast to take it down. I can just imagine if it were  French person listening where the letter i is pronounced e, e is i, j is g and g is j.

And they don't repeat it, so a caller has to go back to 0 with the press, press, press, press, press.

I'm not sure how much influence you have, but if you do have time, give them a buzz, please and tell them you had this suggestion.

Also if they give the information more slowly and longer, you'll have more time to clean information about the caller, so it's a win-win.

Have a lovely afternoon,

DL


When clowns are sad




The clown stood in front of the UBS at Eaux Vives, saying "Bonjour, bonjour," to passers-by as they went in to withdraw money from the ATM machines and pay their bills on the Multimat (Switzerland gave up cheques decades ago).

There were only a few coins in his hat.

I didn't ask to take his photo, although I wanted to.

I did add to his coin collection.

The bank clown was missing a couple of teeth. The cartoon clown above is far more jolly. Despite the clown's cheery tone, he had an aura of desperation.

I couldn't help but wonder what brought him to a stage in life where he dressed as a clown and stood outside a bank hoping for lose change. Yet at the same time he still was "earning" his living by offering himself as entertainment rather than just begging.

Perhaps that gave him a sense of pride. I hope so.
 

Why the animals

Regular readers, whom I know, have asked, "Why the animals?"

It goes back to when my daughter was in high school. Whenever she didn't do something, she blamed it on the trauma of NOT having a stuffed Scooby. At the time none were available.

Fast forward several years. I hear from a friend that they are selling Scooby's at Quincy market and I ask him to buy one, give it to Llara and I'll send him a check. 

He did. 

I did.

Fast forward a few more years. Llara and Scooby are living with me in Geneva. Whenever she goes out I do something silly with Scooby. He sits in the bidet, he irons, he reads a book, etc.

Llara spends a lot of time wondering if she is the adult in the mother-daughter relationship.

Fast forward still more years. Julia and I visit Llara's dorm in Scotland where she's studying for a masters. We see Scooby. We do something with him that I no longer remember.

Fast forward, just a bit more. Llara and Scooby are back with me in Geneva. Rick is there too. He learns about it. His creative mind goes to work and Scooby goes to restaurants, helps him cook beef stew, suns himself at the lake, etc.

My housemate J, also with a great creative mind gets caught up in the game. Scooby travels to the mountains with and recounts his adventures. She even makes up a wonderful, wonderful book of the combined blogs of the three of us about Scooby and gives them to Llara and I for Christmas.

The story evolves. Scooby has an affair with my Petite Cougar (a gift from Rick because I'm older than he is.)


He loves her and leaves her and then Scooby II is born.

Two stuffed rabbits, Honey Bunny and Herr Hare appear in the house (I think Rick got them at a conference). Rick and I are now spending time in Argelès.

When there are two writers in a house, the possibilities just keep coming. They help Petite Cougar take care of the baby who is always getting into trouble. Of course this is documented in blogs and on Facebook. Scooby II's trip to St. Petersburg still has to appear in a blog (hint, hint, hint Rick).

The adventure continues. I believe Scooby II will do anything to visit with his father when we travel to the States.He's already hidden himself in my suitcase when I came back to Geneva and we'll be leaving from Geneva.

My daughter is still shaking her head while Julia, Rick and I all believe being adult is vastly overrated.