Friday, July 31, 2015

still in the hospital

Writing on the iPad is not as easy as my keyboard, although I am use to switching from the American to the Swiss And back again.

The only reason I am still here is that I am still draining too much fluid. Dr. M says four to seven days is normal.

Still it will be nice to not have too little bottles attached to me, be back home and reunited with my laptop.

Monday, July 27, 2015


I'll be out of commission for a couple of days, or rather my laptop won't be coming with me to the hospital, so I probably won't post again until July 31 or Aug. 1.

I do have another blog which is my way to cope with a second round of breast cancer. Usually I keep the two separate.

I keep saying how lucky I am to be in the Swiss medical system. And how lucky I am to have such good friends and a husband.

Upward, onward...

Ah's a'comin' Dr. M. Get that scalpel ready.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Family cane lore

On my 60th birthday, Llara and I spent the weekend in Chamonix. We were sitting on a terrace with a plethora of pink geraniums along the railing. Below, a Coke-bottle green creek gurgled its way down the mountain.

An old woman struggled by with a cane. Her daughter, who I guessed was my age, helped her. They were chatting broken up by laughter.

"That could be us in thirty years," I said.

Then a thought hit me. "I'd love a cane. Imagine, I'm on a Geneva bus with my cane. A handsome young man comes on board. I can poke-poke-poke him in the butt. They'd never suspect a little old lady."

"MOTHER!!!!!" Llara turned it into a several-syllable word.

Every time I added to my future bad behavior Llara would inform me I was not to have a cane. "I don't know enough French to get you out of jail."

It became one of those family legends, not unlike urban legends, with my daughter always adding "NO CANE!!!!"

Today, in Evian, Rick and I spied beautiful canes in a store window. "Take a photo for Llara, please" I asked. Stupidly, I'd left my camera at home.

"Your reflection is in the way." He motioned for me to move.

Then in a moment of complete complicity he repositioned me so it looked as if my hand were on one of the canes.

I don't think he worries about my attacking young men. I have him and no cane is necessary.

Early Sunday morning

I woke to cat purr stereo. Clea was on my right, Babette on my left.

Outside an owl gave a last hoot before sleeping and a dove cooed.

Cool air came thru the window.

Happiness is  all of the above.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Thank you notes

As a child, thank you notes were a must for any gift received. My grandmother hovered over me, television was forbidden until they were written with the proper appreciation including for the annual Christmas gift of embroidered handkerchiefs that I would never use from an aunt somebody who I never remembered meeting, but suspected if I did she would be one of those old women who pinched my cheeks.

Still I tortured my daughter the same way trying to make her see that someone went out their way to think of her for gifts received.

Fast forward to the 1990s and early 2000s when I dated a lovely Swiss gentlemen. We had many formal dinners with his friends, usually four couples, place names at table, wonderful food and great conversation.

A thank you note was required, a bit old-fashioned I thought, but this time I was sincere when I mentioned this or that lovely detail provided by the welcoming hostess. I knew from having reciprocated with a dinner all that went into it.

Fast forward again to the present

My housemate J had sent a birthday present to a charming multi-lingual, multi-imagination five-year old.  A thank you note in a childish scrawl was returned. I could picture her mom standing over her, but I know from many visits that her mother's nagging on manners has paid off by comments the child had made when we played together. At this early age, thoughtfulness for others had been activated from her Mom's DNA.

Then today in the mail, I found two thank-you notes in a single envelope from two bright, well-behaved little boys.

I'd known their French father from when he was a bump, seen him grow up during regular visits and even lived almost a year within in his family in France.

He was always a bright, funny, imaginative, well-behaved little boy with a bit of acceptable devil in him and adorable. He became the same kind of adult with a lovely wife and with his sons are following in his footsteps.

The thanks was for the loan of our flat in Argel├Ęs where they could vacation near the sea.

I'm sure it wasn't the boys idea. But parents who teach gratefulness will raise appreciative kids. Appreciative kids become kinder adults, and the world certainly needs kind adults.

I still can't remember that handkerchief-sending aunt, but unlike when I was little, I sincerely appreciate that she took the time to select something and send it to me in a way I didn't then.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

accepting new info

It has been frustrating that so many homeland Americans do not understand the plight of expats.

Terms like traitor, tax cheat may be some of the nicer words used against us.

Of course, if the homelanders never faced the problem, they don't realise that the US is only industrialized country to collect taxes on a citizen's world wide income for life and to be considered American for taxation you have to be:
  • born there even if you only spent a day
  • born of a US parent anywhere in the world other than the US and may or may not ever stepped on US soil
  • hold a green card but no longer live in the US
What they also don't realize in the wake of trying to collect unpaid taxes (much less than imagined) they've bullied banks into becoming their spies until most banks simply shut any American out of any banking services. For once I don't blame the banks which have spent billions trying to comply. The draconian punishments are not worth Americans' accounts.

However being shut out of ordinary banking activities leaves anyone with a hint of the stars and stripes in their blood and living outside the US unable to function financially merely because they were born in a place where they no longer live.

Countless articles have been written about ungrateful citizens without the writer taking the time to ascertain the full story.

One such article was written by Stephen  Richard Levine.

Several people wrote him telling him the other side of the story. Often when we've done that the author has refused to consider that what we are saying just might have some merit. A few have hurled even more invectives.

Levine, on the other hand, graciously published some of our letters without compromising some of his points to which he is entitled.

He took his true fact, but it with our true fact and came out with the truth.

Thank you Stephen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No logo

I only realised that my logo antipathy went back to my childhood when Rick and I were chatting last night about our childhoods.

I was eight. We lived on 14 acres of land which gave me plenty of space to pretend I was a cowgirl.

I loved cowboys on television. (We were among the first families in Reading to have one). Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Sky King, The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy were my heroes. I even had a black Hopalong outfit.

I remember wishing his name wasn't on the vest but then I pretended he had a club and went along with it.

I was a third grader at the Lowell Street School which had four rooms for four grades.

It had no cafeteria, served disgusting warm milk delivered each day but great cookies at snack time.

My mother picked me up for lunch.

I wanted to stay and eat at the school. The idea of having PNB sandwiches and maybe an apple, eating with my friends then going out to play seemed wonderful.

After begging and begging she agreed and bought me a Hopalong Cassidy lunch box. I had wanted, a plain one. I know she thought that I would love it, so I never told her. However, I never used it either, forgoing the chance to eat at school rather than carry a lunch box with a name on it and rather than hurt my mother's feelings.

From Wikipedia...
Hopalong Cassidy or Hop-along Cassidy is a fictional cowboy hero created in 1904 by the author Clarence E. Mulford, who wrote a series of popular short stories and many novels based on the character.
In his early writings, Mulford portrayed the character as rude, dangerous, and rough-talking. From 1935, the character—as played by movie actor William Boyd in films adapted from Mulford's books—was transformed into a clean-cut hero. Sixty-six popular films appeared, only a few of which relied on Mulford's stories. Mulford later revised and republished his works to be more consistent with the character's screen persona.

As portrayed on the screen, white-haired Bill "Hopalong" Cassidy was usually clad strikingly in black (including his hat, an exception to the western film stereotype that only villains wore black hats). He was reserved and well spoken, with a sense of fair play. He was often called upon to intercede when dishonest characters took advantage of honest citizens. "Hoppy" and his white horse, Topper, usually traveled through the west with two companions—one young and trouble-prone with a weakness for damsels in distress, the other older, comically awkward and outspoken.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The 14th was a big day

  • The 14th of July was the French National Day.
  • The 14th I had my gall bladder out.
  • The 14th I learned I DIDN'T have cancer of the gall bladder
  • The 14th I became one of the 8 plaintiffs to sue the US government over FATCA

For those that don't know the US has bullied banks all over the world into reporting all American accounts under threat of huge penalties and being shut out of international markets.

The banks found it easier to shut the Americans out of all financial services. The number of closed accounts is growing every day all over the world for expats.

Imagine not being able to bank because of where you born.

I never thought I'd be involved in a law suit. Not my thing, but the punishment of innocents was too great.

Immediately the criticisms started. All American expats are wealthy scum avoiding their responsibilities.

A study conducted by the Democrats Abroad and cited by Republican Overseas said those most affected were middle class, noting that 68% of checking accounts and 40.4% of savings accounts closed due to FATCA had balances of less than $10,000. Hmmm doesn't seem that wealthy to me. Hard to buy an airplane with only ten thousand.

Many have been forced into giving up their American nationality to have ordinary lives.

Some homelanders say, "When you are in trouble, the US won't come and save you." Well, they don't anyway. US citizens in Yemen and Somalia have been saved by other countries and weren't charged as they would have been had the US tried to get them out.

The image is the expats live tax free. Often our local taxes are higher than the US ones.

We are under constant threat of penalties if we don't do this or that. We report our money to a crime agency implying that by living overseas we are criminals.

Now Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Rob Portman (R-OH) have proposed a bipartisan tax reform plan that will reduce taxation of overseas profits on corporations? US corporations are people. If they are not required to pay taxes on overseas income why should two-legged, walking-talking people be required to do so?

Yup, the 14th was a big day for me.

Color joy

"Cow. Pallentrie."

This was my first day out since surgery. I'd just eaten gazpacho at Marro and we were driving home the long way thru the vineyards.

Rick was confused but then I added, "Pink and Green."

I'm part of a wonderful FB group started by a wonderfully creative woman, Karrie.

"Surrounded by colours this group selects a colour/combination of colours each week & posts their varied , eclectic photos of the things they've found . Designed to make you LOOK & appreciate the colours surrounding us . Tinting out lives with joy ........" 

It all started with one yellow photo. We quickly ran thru all the basic colors and we are now on combinations. This week is pink and green.

Rick understood immediately and turned the car toward the cow.