Friday, August 29, 2014

What is it about taxes

What is it about taxes?

I now only pay taxes in two countries. I once paid them in three.

I didn’t renounce my American citizenship to avoid taxes, although admittedly I did resent being taxed double on things like SS and my pensions. And I resented paying several times more than I owed to an accountant to make sure I wasn’t hit with fines that could have wiped me out financially.

My choice was basically between being an American and moving back to the States or living abroad and being allowed to have a bank account.

I don’t mind paying taxes. They are my dues to living in a civilized society. I am well educated because my parents paid taxes. Now as a taxpayer because of taxes:
  • ·         I drive on good roads
  • ·         I cross safe bridges.
  •       Another generation who will be my co-citizens are being educated
  • ·         There are flowers all over my Corsier village
  • ·         My drinking water is safe
  • ·         My food is safe
  • ·         The commons are well looked after
But you have companies that pay no taxes in the US and even get rebates. (I won’t even go into the fact they are called persons, but aren’t subject to FATCA which is the reason two-legged persons can’t get bank accounts. That’s another blog.)

There is the burden of taxes on the middle class that is disproportionate with those the wealthy are paying.  

Companies like Burger King, who grew thanks to the commons in the US providing them with the necessary environment so they could grow, now want to get out of American taxes by buying Tim Horton’s in Canada.

From their Facebook page, many customers aren’t pleased. I like the letter from the man wrote asking Senator Nelson (no relation) that all Burger Kings be removed from US bases. Why should they only take and not give back? Especially since their workers earn so little they need to be subsidized with food stamps and other benefits.

If you have a comment about Burger King, add it to their Facebook page.

Almost magic

Four women all of the same generation

Two nationalities

One cup of green tea

Café american



One dog (then three then none as son and daughter-in-law arrived and took all for a walk in the woods)

The scene--La Noisette

Other people stopped to say hello

The conversation? All over the place

A few rain drops

All in all an almost magic moment just because it felt so good.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I blame

98% of the time time I accept blame for my faults.

I don't accept blame for not being able to swim.

I blame my mother, who when we were at the beach, acted at any moment if I got near the water, a tidal wave would sweep me off to Europe. I wanted to go to Europe but not by wave--plane or boat would have been and are still preferred.

I blame my ex-husband, Rick I. He said, "If someone throws you in the water, you'll swim."

He did.

I didn't.

In the 1970s I made a deal with a friend--she learn to drive, I would learn to swim. She got her license. After 12 weeks of private lessons, I still couldn't put my head under water, and one foot was always on the bottom of the pool. The instructor told me, I was wasting his time and my money, albeit (take that Rick and Julia) he said it laughingly. Except for failure and terror, we'd had an amusing time.

Thus I decided in my lifetime that it would be alright if I
  • Never read Ulysses
  • Never learned to swim
This year I found myself in a pool twice once in:
  • Malta with Julia
  • Andorra with Rick II (who didn't throw me in the pool)
After confessing I couldn't swim over coffee with my former French teacher come friend, she offered to teach me.

Today was the day. 

Dum da de dum da de dum de dum de dum (imagine funeral dirge)... Off to St. Cyprien plage.

Marina first had me wade, then get wet and sit down. She gentled me into taking my feet off the seabed. My face got wet (until this week, I wouldn't even get my face wet in the shower.) She was far less successful getting me to lay back in the water.

It was more than I've ever been able to do. There will be no Olympic swimming gold medals in my future but maybe I'll be able to be in the water without being really scared.

Two more things...

  1. I still don't plan to read Ulysses
  2. She never corrected my French pronunciation.


From the sneer on Annie's face, I could tell she didn't like the blue matting. We'd taken three paintings in to have them framed.

1. Chris Floyd's water colour was the design he would use as the mural on my studio's hall's entry. The water colour in itself was a piece of art.

2 and 3 were Bruce Davidson's birch trees and a wedding present. The Massachusetts artist is a very creative and talented person.

When we married we were blessed that so many of our gifts were hand made by our talented friends or items that weren't mass manufactured. Their imagination adds texture to our friendship.

The first time we were in the shop with the paintings several customers chose that minute to look at Annie's great selection of cards, art work and prints. We told her we'd back.

As always she helped us find exactly the right combination of matting and frames. 

The sneer disappeared.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's raining flowers

Rick and I were returning a DVD to a friend by pushing it through a mail slot. We were discussing the flowers.

Looking up I saw a hand deadheading the red geraniums.

We commented. Then a geranium came floating down and then another and another.

I like having friends who make it rain flowers.

We forget if we ever knew

Rick and I were having an idealic lunch on our patio. We were also discussing "Love and War in the Pyrenees," by Rosemary Bailey 

The book described the Retirada, when 0ver 100,000 refuges from Franco Spain fled into Argelès and ended up in concentration camps.

Rick was obviously moved by the realization of what happened here not that long ago and wrote about it in his blog

I won't repeat here what he wrote. It is a moving comment on a past incident that unfortunately is being replayed in too many places in the world today.

Once again I'm reminded my problems are simple...will I make a writing deadline, what should I take on a Paris trip, did I leave the leftover chicken in the frigo too long?

I have never had to worry about walking hundreds of miles in the hope of finding safety, ducking bullets, listening to bombs go off in front of my house nor having my wall disappear with a bomb.

Fate has been kind to us...would that it be as kind to all the refugees in the world. Even better would that there be no more refugees because man became smarter and kinder.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The unexpected bric of a meal

Okay lunch wasn't totally unexpected. We eat every day.

Where was.

I'd expected to pick up Polish guumpies made by a friend. Food is often exchanged from house to house when we don't have time to entertain one another. We are also quick to share leftovers. She's a great cook.

However, we had two errands close to lunch so when Rick suggested we find a restaurant rather than rush home and make veggies to go with the gummpies, I agreed. That will be tomorrow's lunch.

We decided to try some place new.

"What about that Pepper and Salt place you like?" He meant Poivre et Sel at the beach. I've eaten there and he hadn't. Who was I to argue?

It was good to be back in the Tunisian decor with the beautiful plates and friendly family staff.

"They have bric," I said.

"What?" Rick said. He thought I'd said Rick..
The first time I had bric it was made by the father for a friend who spent years in Tunisia. In Boston I'd found a way to make it, but since I've been in Europe I've had to rely on Tunisian restaurants.

Fillings can vary. The first I had was parsley, eggs, onion. Today's was potato, capers and egg.

The next time we need to take the guumpie maker who loves the restaurant as much as I do.

Here's Jamie Oliver's version.

"Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Wash the sweet potatoes and bake them, in their skins, in the preheated oven until cooked and soft. Allow to cool (leaving the oven on), then peel and mash them.

Bash up 1 teaspoon of the coriander seeds and the chillies in a pestle and mortar. Stir with the cinnamon into the mashed sweet potato and season well. Fold the spring onions and beaten egg into the mashed potato.

Gently melt the butter in a pan. Bash up the remaining coriander seeds. Brush a sheet of filo with some melted butter and sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon and a little of the ground coriander. Cover with the second sheet, and brush and sprinkle as before. Repeat for the third sheet. With a sharp knife, cut the stacked filo sheets into two 15cm squares.

Working quickly to prevent the pastry from drying, do the same with the remaining filo sheets. You should now have four squares of filo. Place a generous tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture in the centre of each square and spread out slightly. Brush the edges of each square with water and fold in half, corner to corner, to make a triangle. Press down at the edges to seal. Brush both sides of each triangle with the rest of the melted butter, place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven until light brown - this will take about 10 minutes.

Mix the red onion with the watercress, mint and parsley. Mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice, a lug of olive oil and the cumin. Dress the salad with the yoghurt dressing and serve with the hot filo briks and the lemon halves."

Another step done

I should be soooo, sooooo grateful that I can produce a manuscript on a computer and not by hand like the monks of medieval times. Imagine discovering a mistake in the middle and having to start over including preparing the parchment, ink and pens.

I am soooo grateful I've finished the round of corrections done by my lovely husband and lovely housemate. No heavy manuscript to lug back to Geneva.

Now to make it ready for the publisher:
  • Another polish
  • Add title page
  • Add family treet
  • Add acknowledgements
  • Add bio
  • Add info sheets that must accompany manuscript.
Touch every piece of wood that they accept it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stealing flowers

This is the window outside the snore room/office. During the day I can see out, but people can't see in. At night they can when the lights are on so I draw the drapes.

Today at mid-afternoon, I looked up to see a young teenage girl picking my flowers.

I opened the door.

"You know, it's polite to ask if you can pick those flowers," I said.

You could see her battle between embarrassment and thinking of a fresh remark.

"It's polite to ask," I said. "If you had, I would have said yes."

She looked at the ground. "I'm sorry." The tone was sincere. I don't know if she was or not. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's almost over

Summer is definitely drawing to an end.

Although there are still tourists, there are less children as they return to their home countries to start school. Tourists are more often older people with grown children.

One cool night we smelled smoke from a fire--against the chill, I presume.

No longer can we walk in sunshine well after 21H.

It's been a great summer...lots of friends have come and gone...some have come again.

And there was the surprise yesterday to be grabbed by our Romanian-Canadian friend who is here for two weeks with eight relatives.

We've had great meals.

We've had great trips--Andorra, Geneva, Einsiedeln plus meanderings around the area.

The amount of unbearable heat has been limited.

We done some good writing.

We did some strategic people watching at cafés.

Although we didn't get to the beach as much as we planned, and we still haven't bought bikes, and Rick didn't play golf as he would have liked, it still was a wonderful summer.

Now we are going into travel mode: Canada, the northeast US, Paris, Stuttgart, Amsterdam and a smallish village in Ireland await us. And lovely, lovely home-based Geneva, of course.

NOT under my skin

LAST night we walked the 65 steps to the cinema to see Under The Skin.

Before the movie was over, we walked another 65 steps back (in reality we took a longer walk laughing that it was one of the worst movies we'd ever have seen. -- It was only the second movie I've ever walked out on). We were followed almost immediately by another couple. Because it was in English and it was being shown during the dinner hour the audience was small.

The best description I can come up with movie maker masturbation. The director was fascinated with long drawn out visuals, much like the writer who is so fascinated with his own words that he forgets the purpose is to tell a story.

Back home we looked the movie up on IMDB and It should have been a clue to NOT go had we read about it earlier.

Yes, it did get some good reviews, probably by the same type of reviewer who would stand in front of a blank canvas spouting drivel such as how "The artist has captured the infinite in her simplicity of color." 

Rick review is at (Note: we do have different tastes in types films but not when it comes to technique, acting, writing, etc.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Page 212 and still pushing on

I'm a lucky, lucky, lucky writer.

I have Julia of the 20 pages to edit my manuscripts.

I have my husband to edit them as well

Interestingly they come up with different things, although there are some overlaps. Those pesky missing or extra quotation marks when no character has uttered a word are a Julia specialty.She does wonderful verb tense corrections, removes prepositions from the end of sentences and knows where a missing that belongs.

Her eagle-eye spotted a mistake with a recipe and also something in the text that referred to a recipe.

Rick gets about half of them but questions more content. If something isn't clear or there's a continuity question his track change button works overtime.

My book will be much better because of either of them but that's why I say I'm a lucky, lucky, lucky writer--I have both of them. They are wonderful editors.

I'm on page 212 of 288 pages trying to get all their edits in before going back to Geneva so I won't have to carry the paper edit back. Rick used track changes, which makes it easy for me to look at his edits and suggestions and then add Julia's.

That doesn't mean the ms is finished. I'll need to reread and rewrite one last time, do a family history, acknowledgements and all the paperwork needed to go with the submission.

Frankly at this point, I'm sick of the book. It always happens at this point. I've about 20,000 words on the next one and would love to get back to it.

Other things are getting in the way such as a weekly newsletter to write or entering my mother's recipes in a blog, or learning more about Paper53 or my iPAD or just having time to read more, take more walks with Rick, cook.

Our heavy travel schedule in the fall will make writing difficult, although I'm really excited about the travels which includes Il Divo in Stuttgart (we found out after buying the tickets, they were playing in Geneva).

If only the days could be stretched to do all the wonderful things that there are to do.

Meanwhile page 213 awaits.