Saturday, March 25, 2017

Glazed eyes

Rick's eyes glazed over as I tried to explain that
  1. I needed the bag to put the tree decorations in.
  2. The tree needed to be down before I could wash the floor.
  3. I didn't want to take a shower before washing the floor.
  4. I was showering later because we were eating out before my doctor's appointment and I wanted to be as clean as possible.
I don't get out of bed in the morning without a plan in order about showering, dressing, getting breakfast and my to do list firmly planted in my head. It's not just a plan. It's a map, but not carved in stone. If I'm in the shower and he says, "Want breakfast at La Noistte?" my plans for porridge with blueberries, cinnamon and bananas in the grey two-handled bowl along with the tangerine, tea and cranberry juice carried to the living room on my Bayeux tapestry can be put aside.

Thus we decided to wait until tomorrow to take down the tree and wash the floor.

He gets the same glazed look when I explain about undressing by the hamper or never putting a dish in the sink because it saves the extra step of putting them where they will end up. If I walk by something that belongs in the room I am heading, I take it and put it away.

He says he still loves me. I suspect he does because he pointed out some of the things he does. It is a good thing neither of us is perfect and even better that we have a sense of humor.

He said last night "I amused him." hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm




Friday, March 24, 2017

poubelle

The French word poubelle sounds so beautiful. It means trash can.

Not so pretty.

When Llara was a teenager, we would make soupe la poubelle Friday nights, which sounded far prettier than garbage soup. It was broth, onions, all the week's leftovers and a touch of cream. Usually it was delicious, but it was never the same twice because the ingredients and quantities were never the same.

I wish we were more organized now to do the same, but we aren't.

We are organized in our garbage however.

In Geneva compose is put into the building's compost bins and picked up. Trash is taken to the various containers which separate bottles, paper, Nespresso type coffee container cups. There is usually a place for donations.

In Argelès, we have compost (brown) and paper/bottle (yellow). The bins are emptied on alternate days.

Big stuff is taken to déchetterrie. Admittance is by residence card, available with proof such as an electrical bill. There it is sorted into minute detail.

With my love of not having anything extra, responsible disposal and donations are easy.

And that's pretty as the sound of the word poubelle---po - belle.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Friendship bonds

Friendships build slowly with shared experiences and sometimes with misunderstandings.

There is a friendship I treasure, albeit an unlikely one. In politics my views are blacker than coal and hers whiter than Clorox bleached linen. Strangely we share the same basic values, it is the paths to reach those destinations that differ. We are good enough friends that we can express our differences, probably each hoping to sway the other as we know there's not a snowball's chance in a very, very, very hot place of doing so.

It doesn't matter.

Our friendship spans two continents and coming up to two decades. We only met because of a business connection and a dinner. We finished the business quickly and went on to do what women do best--bond.

Over the years there have been visits to each other's homes and more memory blocks laid.

Only on our last visit did I learn how a misunderstanding could have put an end to our budding friendship instead of being a building block

She was staying in my nest in the south of France. It's a tiny studio.




My friend was taking a shower. "Don't touch anything in the fridge," I called as I ran out.

She wondered if she done anything wrong? Did I think she would steal food?

All was clear to her when I returned with croissants fresh from the oven from the bakery around the corner and some local fruit for breakfast. I hadn't wanted her to eat when a local feast awaited.

The degree of the misunderstanding was revealed years later and we laughed. Just another building block in a friendship.



 



I

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Confetti is forever

Two years ago we rode the little yellow bus/train in the Argelès Carnival where we gaily threw confetti at the crowds and was thrown at in equal numbers.

Our hair was multi colored as we walked home and although we divested ourselves of what we thought was all of the confetti for the next year we would find bits and pieces in pockets, gloves, etc.

Some of it even went to Switzerland with us.

This year we again went on the little yellow bus/train and again came home covered. Even the animals were not exempt.


And every day since we have find a piece or two of confetti somewhere in the flat.

Also, we have found a bit of confetti in a wall. We will keep checking it to see how long it will stay.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Single mom

My goal was to raise my daughter in a normal family with a mother and father.

It was not to be and I found myself with an infant of a few weeks--a single mom.

In high school, my world history teacher said that children of single moms would be delinquents. Although a quiet student, I told him I was not a delinquent and my mother was a single mom. For all the problems I had with my mom, lack of love and guidance were not two of them.

Unlike many single moms I knew my father and stepmom were there if I needed them.

I ended up living for many years with a man and a woman who became as much family as if they were blood relatives.

They provided a balance.

My daughter was known to say, "Don't you think you should check with Bill and Susie to see if you are being too strict?" She never thought I wasn't strict enough.

Sometimes Llara felt overwhelmed by "the committee" which also include Susie's parents.

From my point of view however, since parenting is the ultimate on-the-job training, they were there for me to double check when I was unsure. And it gave her more people to love and be loved by.
I was also lucky that as a professional and having three salaries thanks to the co-living arrangement, I did not struggle as much financially as many single mom did.

But mostly it was the emotional support and the fun we had together.

If my world history professor were still alive I would show him the strong, independent, socially responsible loving woman my daughter became--no where near a delinquent.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

budget cruelty

When my beloved step mom was younger than I am now, I asked her to come and live with me in Switzerland. She refused, because she didn't want to leave her home and friends to live in a strange county. She understood that I could not care for her in her old age in the same way from a different continent.

As the years passed her body stayed strong but her mind did not. I could not move to Florida to be with her but even with limited resources (not everyone in Switzerland is rich)  a part time caretaker was arranged until we could find a place for her in a Veterans home. She had served in the navy in WWII.

Thru out her life she was a good citizen, working as a school secretary, voting, paying taxes, participating in her community. Never were the children from her husband's (my father) marriage "his" but we were "ours" along with her two. I was the only surviving child.

On days the caretaker couldn't come, my mom had meals on wheels. It served not only to provide food, but a check she was alive.

There are those elderly that do not have even the limited backup my step mom did. Meals on wheels is a lifeline.

It is hard to believe that any administration that would want to cut this service to its citizens but there is.


Cruelty is the only word I can think of.

Norma Boudreau
She was an exceptional woman who benefited from meals-on-wheels.





Thursday, March 16, 2017

FATCA again

The bank service rep was apologetic as she tried to explain FATCA to us and was relieved when I told her how involved I was in fighting it.

Rick and I have two accounts. We had already signed forms: he was American and was tax compliant: I was not American and had no US tax obligations.

Never the less, under FATCA my financial information, which should be personal, will be transferred to the US. The choice would be not to have a joint account with my husband which does not meet other financial needs we have.

Despite that, the bank needed verification. AGAIN!

The service rep was young, beautiful and charming. She explained how she'd spent hundreds of hours learning about FATCA, she said, in courses and thru e-learning. I think of all the banks in the world that have had to train their people and the huge productive waste that only cost banks money which were passed onto their clients that have nothing to do with the US.

The IRS assumes all expats are rich tax cheats. Rick and I are neither Rich nor tax cheats.

FATCA, the alleged solution, is an agreement signed with the majority of countries that all banks have to report all US citizen accounts to the IRS. Failure can result in a 30% of asset penalty and being shut out of the international financial market. The US is bully that can carry out the threat. Reciprocity, which is part of most of the agreements, is not happening.

Although I am not a big fan of the big banks, I feel sorry for them as well as sorry that as group they did not tell where the US to go.

This is the third time I've had to verify my US non-connection. The first was to explain why I sent $300 to my daughter in the States. The second was to preserve my life insurance. The implied threat was to be dropped as a client.

When I renounced I felt I had a choice between being American and having a normal financial life. I did not think my birth nationality would continue to make my life difficult.