Monday, December 10, 2018


One year ago today, we were at the Perpignan Spa looking for a rescue dog named Mila. We were planning to offer her to our favorite homeless man who had just lost his beloved dog. The dog wasn't there.

"But we have other dogs," the pony-tailed worker said. She went behind the counter and pulled out one wiggly multi-breed three month old puppy and put him in my arms. As the French say, "It was a coup de foudre.

The past year has been full of laughter, loves and licks, snuggles and silliness, sometimes frustration and joy as this bundle of fur was growing.

I didn't mind so much the sox chewed, the shoes found in his horde, Kleenex ripped apart. I did mind when he chewed the quilt my grandmother gave me (photo above).

Like all puppies he took a lot of time and work repeating commands, teaching limits. He's almost there. His heeling is non existent and his down means a look that says, "You don't really mean that, do you?"

Overall it has been a wonderful year. And our homeless man has found a new dog, too.

Happy Anniversary Sherlock. We will treat you to a special meal today!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

The perfect pen

I am not a shopper. I don't want more than one of anything with an exception of pens, which I collect, but only when I find an exceptional one. Thus I have a silver pen with a green plume and an all-glass pen. And of course, there is the special fountain pen given to us by the village of Corsier when we married.

I only use fountain pens, all special.

We were at a Christmas Market in Ferney-Voltaire, France just across from Geneva. One of the vendors had hand-made fountain pens. Since I didn't have the money with me, I took the people's card and web information intending to order one as soon as I was home.

Instead, my wonderful husband, decided it would be an early Christmas present. The pen maker added a small piece of the stone from which the pen was made.

It writes beautifully, although I won't use it until after Christmas. And it fits all of my three criteria before I bring anything into my home.

1. It is useful.
2. It is beautiful
3. It has a memory of being with people I love and don't see often enough, a memory of the Christmas market, and another memory of the generosity of the man I adore.

Friday, December 07, 2018


I admit it. I am growing older.

Before I had chemo and had red hair, I was never offered a seat on the bus. My hair grew back white. Almost always some young man stands up and gives me his seat now.

I take it.

There has to be an advantage to age among the disadvantages.

I like to think it is my gray hair. My skin is relatively unwrinkled which may be more do to genetics than age.

There's another sign of aging. Suddenly, I'm surrounded by youngsters.

I met with my dental surgeon today. When he came into the surgery,  I thought he was a kid, a cute, sandy-haired kid.

It didn't help that he brought up the wrong patient X-ray and couldn't understand why I was missing a tooth on the wrong side of my mouth. The explanation was simple. I was early, the patient he thought I was was late rather than he didn't do his kindergarten homework.

From there on he mumbled like an embarrassed teenager what the procedure would be. Since my regular dentist, who looks like he is just out of high school, is fantastic.

However, when I do get my implant, I may bring some toy trucks or Legos for the surgeon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Gender equality

You win some, you lose some.

When I moved to Switzerland in the early 90s, if I had been married I would have had to ask my husband's permission to open a bank account. As much as I love this country, as a card-carrying member of NOW, this did not sit well.

I wasn't married then. I am now.

For almost 20 years I filed my taxes under my number, my name. Being married, we have to file jointly and it is under his name and number, although my contributions count. How to be erased.

There have been other examples. A company didn't give a new department head the office of her predecessor because the powers-that-be felt the men that reported to her would resent her for having more space than they did.

Help wanted ads could still use words describing the looks of a female candidate.

On the positive side, the Swiss parliament just passed 99 to 88 a requirement that businesses with 100+ employees have to regularly examine pay equity between the sexes.

It is still a man's world.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Four women

Some people put Facebook down, but it also gives moments of great enjoyment.

I posted this last night. It is at the core of what I believe and how I try and live my life. Even in bad times, it is what gives me the strength to get to the other side.

I had responses from three women who wrote:

*Perfectly said!! 
*  yes!

This is where Facebook comes in. I would say all of us are well educated, about the same age, give or take, have had many opportunities in our lives. I doubt if any of us have reached this stage in life's adventure without some major setbacks.

The first is from my cousin. Our mothers were probably two of all the sisters-in-law who saw eye-to-eye and not quite the same as the others. As cousins we spent very little time together. We even missed another cousin's wedding since we were giving birth to our daughters in different hospitals. Yet, we are family, and spent a wonderful time together on a boat sailing the canal du midi.

The second is high school friend. We weren't particularly close or particularly distant in high school. We were just students.

On Facebook we show that there are major differences in our political opinions and a few on religious. We treat these with respect. There are other areas where we agree. She posts things daily that makes me smile.  An animal posting almost always brings a like.

The third is a woman I met at my husband's high school reunion. She and I are probably closest politically. Like me, she has spent enough time in Europe to understand things I write about on a gut level that can only be done when living similar lives. This is not a put-down to anyone that hasn't done what we've done. I can imagine lives other people have lived which are so different from mine, but not on the same gut level.

Here are four women, including myself, who live thousands of miles apart. There are interlocking rings on some core beliefs and some equally divergent ones. We can come to together via the digital age in way we never would have even ten years ago.

I have a fantasy. Maybe by a Samantha-like nose twitch we could all be in the same living room for a tea party. I see it as cozy with some loved artwork on the walls, books and a window overlooking a garden. Flowers would decorate the table. Besides little cupcakes, there would be mini sandwiches. Coffee would be offered as alternative.

None of us live there. The geography is unknown. Since it is my fantasy I will put whatever I want in it.

We might talk about politics and religion explaining without fear why we think as we do. We would also talk about the people and things we love. And mostly as we passed the baby cupcakes, we would share a warmth as women, privileged women overall, who are open and caring.

Even without the tea party, thank you Facebook for the mix of these contacts.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


The old man (although he may have been younger than I am) had the sweetest face. He patted Sherlock. Then he asked "What religion are you?"

I was tempted to say pagan, but Unitarian slipped out of my mouth before I could stop it. He then proceeded to tell me what his was, why it was for me and as I made my escape, handed me a pamphlet. I waited till we were out of sight to ditch it.

I hate what missionaries do how they attack others identities to supposedly bring the word of whatever deity they represent be it The Christian God, Allah, the Great Turtle in the Sky, etc. Usually they back is up with some ancient document.

In a way it is if they came into my home, looked around and told me everything in it was wrong and they had this book that would make it better.  Rude, arrogant and well meaning.

There are two missionary ladies who stop regularly. Sometimes we have a cup of tea. We don't discuss religion any more. I won't accept their Bible and when they asked me about my worries of the afterlife. I say I have none. Now we talk about other things. It is pleasant. Maybe they are still hoping to save my soul, but if they can't a cuppa will do.

One of my anthropologist friends who spent years with the Lobi tribe in Africa felt the same way as I do. Missionaries were arrogant and came bungling into a society that worked well without them. She pointed out they were very unsuccessful because they were a non-alcohol group and no one had any success unless you shared a beer. There was one who did and he did get a better reaction than the non-beer drinkers. He didn't make conversions but there was a rather pleasant sharing.

And there was that stupid kid who died bringing the word of his god to people who didn't want it. They shot him with an arrow not a method I would recommend to rid one's self of the dreaded lectures.

I am happy for anyone who finds a religion that enriches their life. Just leave me alone.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


A friend is at the U.S. Embassy in Bern renouncing her U.S. nationality. Her entire family will soon be ex-Americans.

Her doing it brings back my own memories of my day.

1. The guard yelling at me that I couldn't bring my purse into the embassy
2. Of paying 5 CHF to leave the purse at a nearby bakery
3. Of crying
4. Of vomiting afterwards

It produced two very different emotions: a tremendous sadness and greater relief. I could now have a bank account and lead a normal financial life. No longer would I worry which new act in Congress would threaten me with huge fines that would ruin me financially if I didn't discover this or that form that had to be filled out.

I often compared renunciation to a divorce.

American expats when they are together most often talk about renunciation, not because we are anti-American but because we live outside our birth country and we want to do simple things like have a bank account, be able to get a loan, save for retirement and even make an investment, none of which we can do thanks to FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). The U.S. decided that expats were all rich and most were
1. Money launderers
2. Tax evaders
3. Sex traffickers
4. Drug dealers

I never chose any of the above as a profession. I don't even know any of the above among my expat friends.

When I appeared before Congress in April 2017, along with others, we were told that was what expats were to our faces. One of us was a U.S. Veteran. He had brought his old uniform to the hearing and it was in front of him as he faced the panel of congress people.

Worse, we weren't paying U.S. taxes so they bullied banks, investment houses, insurance companies, pension funds of reporting all American expat clients or face huge penalties. The result was the organizations simply closed American accounts. The U.S. and Eritrea are the only two countries on the planet that requires U.S. Citizens and Green card holders to pay taxes on everything they earn world wide. This also is the case with children born in the U.S. but never live there or only lived there for a short time.

Don't talk to me about anchor babies. Any parent that has a child for an American passport and the child will not live there for the rest of his or her life is cursing that child with financial hell.

Because of FATCA people found themselves suddenly having to pay off mortgages or unable to have their paychecks deposited, their debit and credit cards cancelled. This was true all over the world.

Their alternatives were to return to the States, or if they had a second nationality, to renounce. This is what my friend and her family chose. Her husband had already lost many opportunities for good jobs simply because he was American and the companies were too afraid of the consequences of employing an American.

I wish her a smooth renunciation.