Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Rick pointed out that along with French, English and notions of German and now adding Spanish, I have another language...typonese.

I dno't know waht eh is talknig abuot.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Furniture with history

I've always been fascinated by trunks.

At the Saturday marché this trunk was for sale at 100 Euros. I never want to part with money immediately, but we talked about where it would go and what it could hold.

Today we saw it again. The owner agreed to a 10 Euro-off price, one of the few times I ever bargained.

But then I bought his crayon table (what better for two writers) for 10 Euros.

The trunk is obviously well used and I've no idea how old it is. I wish it could tell me who owned it, where did they go. Did it ever sail on a ship? Ride in a carriage? What did it hold? Where did it go?

Of course a talking trunk would scare me but it could be a great trigger to a series of stories.

It's not butter

It was probably the wrong cream  -- not heavy enough.

The directions to make your own butter were simple. Put in the food processor and spin about 10 mins.

After 30 mins. the food processor was gasping for help. I had wonderful whipped cream.

Okay, Plan B.

Add raspberries and freeze.

 Will try again with a different cream.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The alarm clock

When I escape to the snore room, my window is right on the street. I don't need an alarm.

The tweet of the garbage truck announces morning is coming around 5 a.m. give or take. It is a pretty sound much like the birds that go off at dawn as well.

The motor noises of the truck mixes with the garbage men's conversation and the picking up and the slamming down of the required containers. Yellow for paper, cans, plastic, brown for garbage-garbage. They alternate pick up days, but I can never remember which one is which.

There is that moment of pure joy after the garbage alarm goes off, knowing I don't have to get up.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Clothes are my friends

I'm not just a blog writer, I'm a blog reader.

This blog about a party dress triggered clothes memories.

Every fall while I was in grade school, my mother would buy me five outfits, one for each day of the week and a "good" dress that would be for parties, or special events. There were two play outfits, one of which was to be changed into as soon as I came home from school. 

As a teenager my mother had a clothing business which she ran on a party plan. It allowed her to be home with my brother and myself and she only had to work six months a year. However, she felt that I was a walking billboard so I could go almost a month without wearing the same thing. 

In seventh grade I wanted a straight skirt like grownups wore. One of the suppliers had a brown watch straight skirt, but with three pleats that were about five inches below the waist. I wore that skirt until my forties when I put on too many pounds. It still looked new when I gave it to Goodwill.

I keep my clothes forever, updating them with accessories. Each one contains memories of events that happened during the wearing. They are friends who one doesn't cast off.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


In Italy an official paper needs not only a stamp-stamp but a printed stamp on top of the stamp.

Right now we need some official documents, including Rick's birth certificate. He has two copies, an original and a copy, but the certificate has to be less than six months old. Maybe they are afraid he wasn't born again or if you take the religious connotation afraid he was.

We won't discuss that his state has privatized the process which included them claiming the certificate didn't exist. So much easier and cheaper when one just called city hall of the birth places. Those who say that privatized is always better, never dealt with many of the companies that take what was confusing and make it more confusing. 

A friend needed a death certificate for her husband, gone many, many years, but it too had to be just six months or less. As she said, "He's still dead."

Then in many countries in Europe, executives are given letters to sign, presented in a book, with each letter between different pages. Not only do they sign but they also stamp them with the company stamp.

Dumb. Anyone can make up a stamp.

I'm waiting for a stamp on top of a stamp on top of a stamp that must be applied within a few hours of issuance.

Maybe the stamp lobby is responsible for the excess of stamps required.

And French for stamp is tampon. Probably good. They are bloody annoying.

I'm a sock thief

My name is Donna-Lane and I'm a sock thief.

It started when I lived on Wigglesworth Street in Boston. B's socks were better than mine. Also he pinned them before putting them in the wash so the sock monster wouldn't eat one during washing. Made them a lot easier to steal, because not only am I a sock thief, I'm a lazy sock thief.

I started pinning mine to keep them together through washing and in the drawer. I always left the pins in while I wore them so I wouldn't have to look for something to hold them together when I took them off each night.  

However, my housemate didn't like that sometimes the pins would come loose so she bought me a set of plastic sock holders for Christmas. They are pretty and easy to use, which I will do happily to keep her happy. At least I didn't have to go into a store (or worse more than one) to buy the holders.

In Argelès I will continue to pin mine.

I bought pins for Rick so his socks would stay to together, but I've decided there are sockpin people and non sockpin people. I'm the first category, he's in the latter.

My sock drawer has only matching pairs fastened together. His has none floating around in a sock quagmire.

Now, just maybe, he doesn't pin to prevent his socks from being stolen. Before our commitment ceremony, he and my daughter had a heart-to-heart with her telling him what to expect from me (and what to avoid). She warned him about my sock-theft addiction for his own good, she said.

Meanwhile, I've bought new socks, but I was out of safety pins. He gave me the ones I'd bought for his socks.

Still I do see he also has some nice new socks, that I have my eye on. If only I can find a pair.

Sarko and me

I know I have vivid dreams, but to dream about the former French president Nicholas Sarkozy?

I was travelling and I received a love letter from him. There was a second, hidden in a book, that he left in a ladies room for me. It was on white-lined paper and several pages long. I had it in my hand, but whenever I tried to read it his wife came up, not Carla Bruni but a blond dressed in Disney Cinderella style.

I never did find out what was in the letter.

As for Rick when I told him there was a new man interested in me, he just shook his head. Then this morning he had that bad boy look in his eye. "If you hadn't been sleeping so peacefully last night, I would have whispered in your ear, "It's me Darling, Niko."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Point of view

As a writer who reads and reads and reads, I sometimes move away from the story without meaning to and get caught up in the technique. It happened today with point of view in a novel.

Handling various POVs was part of learning my craft.

First person was simple. I was in one person's head. However, it limited me in showing the motives of another character and although it is always better to show not tell, inner dialogues from various people were not a tool in my story-telling. On the other hand, it could sharpen conflict by having my character misread others' actions that I could make obvious to my reader.

Second person can get wearing. Too many yous. But there are writers who do it well.

Third person allowed me to get in many characters' heads BUT transitioning can be difficult.

Going back and forth from first to third is also possible but better done in different chapters or at least with some kind of transition.

In a few rare cases alternate paragraphs work.

I found sometimes if I was writing in third, it would help to put it in first. I learned more about my character that way.

I'm currently reading Next of Kin and the author handles transitions wonderful. We are in one person's head, she is on the phone, she hangs up and we switch to the other person. We walk into a room with one character and walk out with the other.

Non writers might not notice the technique, but I stopped reading to enjoy it, another dimension to reading.

I do find it interesting that American and English covers are different.

It was NOT a good day

The first inkling of a problem was water near the washing machine. I run the machine after 1 a.m. because the electricity is cheaper.

Then Rick noticed the toilet was not flushing properly but it was working but slowly, ever so slowly.
As a single woman for decades, incompetent in fixing much, my first response is to call in a plumber or whoever can fix it. (My housemate J. is good at fixing stuff). Rick is a competent male, who can fix things. For years when I lived with B. 

he always wanted to fix things like the muffler on the car rather than go to a garage. Five mufflers later I took the car to Midas. That was one example of many.

Rick went out and bought a declogging  something or other. Instead of helping, water backed up into the shower.

About this time a man came to analyze the electrical efficiency of the apartment for our landlady. He was running around the flat putting a red instrument to the wall and writing notes on a tablet.

Meanwhile I went upstairs to use my landlady's toilet and wondered when I could fix breakfast. It was 10:30.

There were glug glug sounds coming from the bathroom sink and the kitchen sink.

Water, not clean water, was now running out of the shower drain.

Despite Rick's frantic bailing, the water went out of the bathroom into the foyer and into the kitchen.

The street out front was filthy with the water from our house.

At this point a friend came in and said she had a problem. She couldn't remember any names even people she talked to yesterday.

I had her lie down and went to call SAMU (the ambulance service). Only the phone wasn't working.

Because of the thick stone walls (almost a foot) we couldn't get any bars on the mobiles.

Fortunately La Noisette, the café, is only a few doors down the street.

Sophie, the waitress, dialed the SAMU number and they understood everything I said except for the name of the street. Vermeille. Sophie took the phone and said Vermeille then handed the phone back to me.

Back at the house the local government service that cleans out pipes had arrived and started cleaning out the main drain pipe outside the front door. Its clogging was the problem nothing within the house. He also washed down the street which had resemblance to a running sewer returning it to its normal almost pristine state.

He left and shortly after the ambulance arrived. The two attendants only spoke French and it was a hodge podge of languages.

Rick by this point had fixed the telephone. How is a bit of a mystery.

The drivers, thanks to wonderful French system, were able to call back to the central office, who had all my friends records, including the name of her doctor, whom they contacted. He said he would meet them at the hospital.

While Rick sanitized the floor, I went to a mutual friend to update her. Attempts to telephone the hospital meant being on hold and on hold and on hold and listening to messages thanking me for my patience (what patience?) in French, Spanish and English. Finally someone reported that my friend was still in Urgence and put me thru to a phone that rang and rang and rang and rang.

We gave up and our mutual friend has headed off to the hospital to check out the situation.

I started to cook but couldn't get the stove top turned on. Sometimes I wish for an old-fashioned one where you turn the nobs, rather than the kind I have where you have to massage it, beg it, or light candles and incense to it to get it to work.

It finally did condescend to heat up so that I could prepare lunch having given up all hope of breakfast. By 15:30 we did eat.

We are now waiting news of our friend, the house is back to normal and Rick is working against his deadline.

It has not been a good day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The caveman of the Fat Kitty Klan

Once upon a time there was a caveman named Ulk. He was a member of the Fat Kitty Klan. The Klan lived in a valley.

Ulk was a hunter, not a great hunter, but one that could contribute some mammoth meat from time to time to the good of his Klan. Sometimes he hunted with his Klan, sometimes he went out alone. He also helped plant some seeds and the plants he shared with his Klan.

One day he saw a saber tooth tiger and he followed it out of his valley into another.

Before Ulk could kill the tiger, he saw this beautiful cave woman. Her name was Clena. He fell in love at first sight and she fell in love with him. He decided to join her Klan, The Have Enough Klan, even if it was far less powerful than his Klan.

They had three beautiful children and were living very happily. Ulk went out to hunt with and for his clan. He planted seeds and shared those with his new Klan. They all did their share of maintaining the cave...


The Fat Kitty Klan had destroyed much of their valley with over hunting. They needed more food. One of the chiefs remembered Ulk. They knew where he was because he had visited his parents back at his old cave and showed off his beautiful wife and lovely children.

They sent a message to Ulk. "You are still and always will be a Fat Kitty Klan member. Therefore, a portion of anything you catch or grow must be sent back to us. Not only that a portion of everything any of your children catches or grows must come to us, because as your children it doesn't matter that they only spent five suns in our valley, they are still members of the Fat Kitty Klan and they owe us a portion of whatever they have for all their lives even if they never come here again."

Ulk didn't feel as if he still belonged to his old Klan. He was part of the new Klan. His children didn't even remember their visit to his old Klan.

The chief of the Have Enough Klan also received a message from the chief. The message said "If you don't make Ulk give us part of what he catches and grows, we will have to come and take 30% of everything in your klan catches and grow. We have bigger spears than you so you must obey us."

The chief liked Ulk. They loved his family, but they couldn't afford to lose 30% of all their food. Still he had the rest of the Klan members to think of. So with great sadness, he had to tell Ulk and his family to pay or leave.

Thus the family had a choice, go back to the Fat Kitty Klan or go into the wilderness. Cleana didn't want to go to the place where they had threatened her husband, her children, her Klan and her food supply.

They talked it over and decided to go into the wilderness and start over and with great sadness, they packed their spears, their furs and their flints they left in search of safety from the Fat Kitty Klan.

(A FATCA allegory. I can't call it a Fairy Tale but it isn't. There's no happy ending for the 7 million American expats being thrown out their banks all over the world.)