Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Bright kids

The kids were nervous as they entered this hall.We were about 30 anglophones, mostly wrinklies, there to help the older kids practice their presentations for their oral part in English for their Bac, the test all French students must pass to be considered the equivalent of a high school graduate.

Many had been studying English for many years and were quite accomplished.

There was also the next group, younger, who were there merely to speak English and because they were rotated every fifteen minutes to give them a chance to deal with a variety of accents.

What fun!

What renewal in hope for the next generation.

Some had firm plans for the future, scientist, obstetrician while others, were uncertain. They did want to travel including places like Australia, US, Japan, Thailand and Korea. One girl had even started to learn Korean.

A pretty, no make that beautiful young girl, said she didn't have a boyfriend and somehow felt it was her fault. I shared with her how many years out of high school. some of my fellow students at the time wanted to ask me out but were afraid of rejection. I told her I bet that was true in her case. She seemed skeptical, but laughed with the line, "Believe an old lady."

I found a Third Culture Kid, French and German who felt French when she was in Germany and German when she was in France. Another hated math and loved history, languages and literature.

Rick has a dueling blog.

Besides the pleasure of working with the kids, Rick had another reward. He found a golf group to play with regularly.

Monday, May 02, 2016

What's in a name

"Do you prefer Donna or Donna-Lane?" a friend of many years asked Sunday. She always called me Donna.

My name is Donna(hyphen) Lane, one name, not two, Donna-Lane.

My maiden name was Boudreau.

I kept my married name Nelson both to have the same as my daughter and I loved the alliteration. On my recent marriage I also kept Nelson partially because of the work of changing all the necessary documents.

Throughout my childhood I was called Donna-Lane. I would have loved a nickname but no one wanted to call me Donnie.

Then it all went south.

People dropped the Lane.

People sometimes moved the hyphen after I married so it was Lane-Nelson. At Polaroid when I gave the communications director articles that would have my byline he repeatedly moved my hyphen from Donna-Lane to Lane-Nelson. When I asked him why, he told me "It's your name."

"No it isn't," I said.

"Yes, it is," he said.

I am not an expert on a lot of things, but my name is one thing I do know.

Many times when I've registered for something, the traveling hyphen continues to wander. If people can't find me under N, there's a 99.9% chance they will under L.

For years working at Digital Credit Union, I had a number of nicknames such as Donda, Donda-Duck and Fraz (after I permed my hair) from my boss who bestowed nicknames on staff.

When I moved overseas I asked to be called D-L and that will always be my favorite, but interestingly, some people will tell me they don't like that and call me Donna-Lane. I don't tell them that I don't like their preference such as Bob and insist on calling them Roberto or even Fred.

Because in Switzerland and France you never really lose your maiden name on certain documents I've become Donna-Lane Boudreau-Nelson, a double hyphen and I've joked if I married a man with a hyphen in his last name, I could have three.

My first few days at IEC for some reason I was called Carol, but that went away fairly quickly. I have no idea why.

D-L is still used by my writing friends and former Interskill employees. It is the penname on my novels.

Donna-Lane is used by my former housemates, my husband and friends from childhood and miscellaneous times in my life.

Donna is used more by the people in Argelès, because my friend Barbara kept introducing me as Donna.

It is good I do not have an identity issues.

At this point in my life, I am happy friends who call me to do things, to share things.

D-L, Donna-Lane, Donna, Donna Duck, Donda, Fraz

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Forbes wrong about me

"You're in Forbes," my husband called into the kitchen. I stopped my cooking frenzy to see what was written.

I stopped cooking and looked. This is what was printed from the judge's ruling.

"Donna-Lane Nelson is another Swiss citizen who renounced her US citizenship, because a Swiss bank “offered investment opportunities not available to her as an American”.  She resents the questions she gets from banks about her status as an ex-American and payments to her daughter, who lives in the United States. That doesn’t get her standing.

The discretionary decisions or future discretionary decisions of a foreign bank do not create standing. Furthermore, as identified above, fear of a hypothetical harm that may or may not occur if she had not renounced her citizenship is not sufficient to constitute concrete harm."

Had the author checked the original document he would have noticed that the judge was wrong.

I did not renounce over investments. I renounced because I was in danger of losing my bank account because I was American. Only after I renounced was I offered investments, which I didn't take because I do not have enough money to do so.

But I do resent being threatened with loss of my bank account because I was sending my daughter in the US $300 monthly. 

I don't blame the bank as the judge does. Being bullied by the US to turn over the information of the US or face huge penalties and loss of access to the international banking system is too real for them to risk having a piddly little American or ex-American account which is all I have. 

I have posted the truth to the Forbes site

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two women

You know those mother-in-law jokes????

They can be a lie.

I have had not one but two wonderful mothers-in-law.

Grams was a pleasure to be with. A hard worker, no-nonsense person who never interfered. The only tension we ever had was one morning when I was living with her and waiting for my first husband, her son, to return from Germany.

She was upset to find my clothes on the front stairs. A picture of me undressing outside late at night was not welcomed, until her nose confirmed my story that while visiting my grandmother my German Shepherd Kimm, had an encounter with a skunk. By the time Kimm was deodorized my clothing was totally saturated with the smell.

When my marriage disintegrated I broke away from his family.  He needed their support. I had little contact with him either and his child visitations were thru the baby sitter.

Then when my daughter was two and in the hospital, I had to call Grams to tell my ex. Her first words to me, "You are still my daughter." From then on we continued to have visits and cheered me on both for my child raising and the way I was living my life.

Although I had no intention of remarrying I had even less expectation of finding a second wonderful mother-in-law.

I was wrong on both counts.

When my new husband and I traveled to New York from Europe on a voyage to visit each other's childhoods, her first word to me was "Bonjour" said with a twinkle in her eyes.

I discovered a woman in her 90s, warm with a great sense of humor, and totally accepting of me.

She had raised five rambunctious boys, four her own. According to stories my husband told me, she levied the right level of strictness combined with enough leniency for them to develop as individuals.
And although not a helicopter parent by any means of the word, woe to the person who hurt her offsprings if her interference was needed.

She is an artist in cloth and I am the proud owner of three of her quilts, each a treasure for their beauty and knowing that each stitch is perfect.

Geography does not allow for drop-in visits but phone calls and letter build a new relationship.

So keep your mother-in-law jokes and I will keep my mothers-in law in my heart.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Capers and me

I had my first caper the day after I bought my nest. The aunt of my French friend who had helped me buy the studio made a very tasty salmon and caper pizza. 

Lovely woman, but she did ask my friend if it was American table manners to keep one's hand in their lap. I had followed French table manners and used a fork and knife on the pizza.

I was hooked but didn't get a chance to eat them that much until I moved to Europe in 1990. 

Jars of tiny capers are easily available, but J, with whom I shared a house for 11 years, often had the giant capers for our celebrations or even our DVD nights. They are extra good.

I had found some tiny ones for a meal I made the other day. But not the big ones.

Then on Facebook someone had posted a photo of a meal that a friend had made and there were BIG CAPERS on one of the dishes. We messaged. She had bought them on one of her forays into Spain. Okay, I thought next time I go down to Spain.

Then when we had our regular marché meetup, the same friend who cooked with the big capers was there. Out of her bag of goodies she produced a small container with a red top and insider were...

Trumpets and drum rolls...


They were lucky to survive to have their picture taken.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dolly Birds and history

When I moved to Switzerland in 1990 to take up a long-searched-for job in Europe, my first stop was the UK branch.

I was met at the airport by the UK manager, a chain-smoking ex-air force colonel, who getting up to meet a 5 a.m. plane did nothing to improve his disposition.

His opinion of the women on the staff was that they were all "dolly birds" too into make-up and men without a surplus of brains, if I translate the Brit English to American English correctly.

Well the two "dolly birds" in the Swiss office were pretty, young women, who liked clothes, make-up and men, but they were also incredibly good saleswomen and smart, smart, smart.

I was a good twenty years older than they were and despite his tough exterior, he was too polite to call me a dolly bird although I too liked make-up, men and clothes.

What made me worse than any dolly bird in his eyes was that I was an American and his opinion of my countrymen and women were they were all ignoramuses. About the only good thing that ever came out of the States, in his opinion, was the television show Mash.

I would need his help in my first assignment to set up a booth for a trade fair and in the beginning he did sabotage me.

What turned him around?

My love of English history.

I named all the kings and queens going back to William the Conqueror in order and some of the things of each reign. (Don't ask me to do it now--I've forgotten).

For subsequent trips, he made sure to book me into historic places, told me historic stories about local individuals, introduced me to his wife (a lovely woman, who deserves a halo for staying married to him) and made sure we went to typical English restaurants that tourists (read dumb Americans) would never discover.

I doubt if he ever changed his opinion of dolly birds or Americans in general. But he did accept that one aging dolly bird had a brain.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Peanut butter cookies

My daughter loves to bake. I never discouraged her.

My former housemate J, loves to bake. I never discouraged her either and luxuriated in the wonderful smells coming up the stairs.

In both cases eating their products was the best part of their passion.

I do bake, but not with much passion. Christmas cookies, yes, teaching my young neighbor how to make brownies (J. could have done it better). I use to make an annual apple pie for my late neighbor with a family bird cookie cutter, going back several generations, decorating the pie. And I made a pumpkin pie for our Swedish friends who were curious. It was a success.

I thought I'd make peanut butter cookies to welcome Rick home from his business trip.

My oven is strange. The temperature seemed to vary. What was on the dial was different from the thermometer. At one point the temperature went up and up producing burned cookies without me touching it. I like well done cookies, however, this was OTT.

I did succeed in getting enough for Rick when he comes. And the well done ones, I will eat. As for
 the batch that turned black? They can be saved and used for charcoal  in our BBQ.