Tuesday, February 21, 2017


At a certain age one should be beyond tests. Depending on the country there's a time when SATs, A or O levels, Bac etc. should be t part of a stressed memory.

Now Facebook comes along with all kinds of tests. Some say they are just to get information for advertising.

However, I can't pass up a challenge when I see words like, "90% of the people can't get half right," go unanswered.

I do know all the grammar questions, and the US history questions.

Country capitals? A snap. And so forth.

I feel smart although I deliberately avoid any FB tests that include math. Why humiliate myself?

Then there are the personality tests. The one I took yesterday proved I was 100% OCD, something my husband and daughter would agree with, but then my husband took it and he was 100% OCD too and he is the least OCD person I know. We decided that we were just observant.

I was a serious student who wanted to see an A or A+. Even a medical exam I want to pass to pass as much as to prove I'm healthy.

At least with FB tests, I don't have to get my parents to sign the report.

Monday, February 20, 2017


"Did you order sushi?" My Geneva landlady, who lives upstairs, stood at our door.

I wish I had, but we didn't. I told her no.

"Good, after I sent him away, I thought maybe I had sent your dinner away."

She went upstairs to her guests who weren't eating sushi either.

We have great landlords.

I have always preferred apartment living. When my landlady plays the piano, it is not a disturbance but a concert.

For 11 years I lived in what I called the international ghetto because so many of the residence worked at the alphabet UN agencies and NGOs within walking distance of the complex. It was a transient group because of transfers to other countries.

As a single working woman, I relished living alone, but at the same time, did not like isolation. Thus when anyone moved in I would take them flowers and invite them for coffee. In most cases this led to friendships and memories.

Years later I'm in touch with the Czech family. They used to have bread sent in with the diplomatic pouch and when I went home for lunch and to walk my dogs, there would be half a loaf on my door.

The Indian family I still see. Their daughter used to visit me every night to watch The Weakest Link. She is now a medical student in Edinburgh.

Timmy belonged to an English couple. I'd cat sit. He insisted on going out every night, all night. In the morning I would go right outside the lobby, jiggle my keys and he would keep running. The couple retired back to the UK, but have a place in Argelès not far from me. We even manage to be there at the same time sometimes.

My Syrian neighbor became more than a friend, but a family member of choice. She introduced me to her family, her country and her culture, enriching my life beyond measure.

In Argelès the houses touch. Built from the 17th century it is impossible not to know your neighbors because it is necessary to walk by them. Little-by-little friendships have developed.

Yup, neighbors are good things to have whether it a discussion on sushi delivery, an apèro or just a smile and a ça va as we pass.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

shoe etiquette

As a kid, we never took off our shoes when we came into the house unless they were wet.

Only when I moved to Europe and was invited to dinner at the home of a professor and his wife, did I run into the convention. They lived on the third floor and all the shoes were left in the communal hall. The rabbit his wife cooked was delicious.

My housemate had a no shoe policy with slippers offered, but she wasn't fanatic with guests or residents. It was preferred.

Curious about who and where people routinely removed their shoes in a house, I took an unofficial survey on Facebook

Anything close to a scientific study of human habits and cultural foot-covering habits is purely coincidental.

Here are some of the answers by country.

Note: I am writing this in socks.


From a friend I knew when she lived in Switzerland: " Off, nationality...well, both US & Canadian... With many years of European living.... Guests can do as they please but in Canada most guests remove them automatically."


From my former exchange student and friend: She grew up in Croatian when it was Yugoslavia but has lived most of her adult life in The Netherlands, so she weighed in twice. "Off, and slippers on. Croatian," and  "The whole day ON. Dutch!"

Note: some people who responded are dual nationals or have their interests in more than one country.


From a former colleague. I have a wonderful memory of us releasing helium balloons and making wishes as each balloon disappeared. "I always have taken my shoes off. Just wear socks in the house. I go through socks like crazy."


From a new friend: "Birkenstocks stay on; other shoes usually come off. It's a matter of comfort. Guests keep their shoes on, or not, whatever they are comfortable with. At my kids' (in the UK and France), shoes come off."

From a friend who is also placed in the UK section: "I prefer to go bare footed. I would like house guests to do the same but would never dream of asking them to."
From friend in France but American: "I wear my slippers, my guests wear their shoes - cold tiled floors! Prefer being labeled as Me." 

From a French friend and writing mate: "I take my shoes off. My guests keep theirs on. I would feel rude asking them to take them off. Maybe also because I have slippery stairs. And cat paw prints everywhere!" Note. And they are beautiful cats who are bare-pawed.


From a new friend: "I take my shoes off at every opportunity I hate wearing them ... as soon as I walk in the door at home... sometimes at work 😱 love being barefoot 👣"

From my former exchange student and friend: "The whole day ON. Dutch!" 
 But she grew up in Croatian so she weighed in twice. "Off, and slippers on. Croatian."


From a writer friend: "People walk in their stockinged feet."

Saturday, February 18, 2017


I have come to the conclusion that whatever Republicans do, Republicans think is okay...but the same thing done by the Democrats is not okay.  

And whatever Democrats do, Democrats think is okay...but the same thing done by the Republicans. 
They all must think we are stupid not to notice. 

A pox on both their houses until they think of the good of America and not their party.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Christmas? Now?

Merry Christmas!

In February?

Why not.

Between travel and flu my former housemate, Rick and I never celebrated the holiday.

Thus last night was really the first chance to get together. We did goodies, champagne and a present exchange.

I was thrilled with my tiny, key ring flashlight and Rick is more than content with his battery recharger

My housemate has one more gift coming. I've ordered it three times and each time there have been delivery problems. This last order will arrive at a friend's house in Southern France so that I can pick up and take back to Geneva.

Then it may be Christmas in March, April, May...

This is a dueling blog with my former housemate http://viewsfromeverywhere.blogspot.ch/2017/02/christmas-in-february-or.html

Sunday, February 12, 2017


I've often joked that Geneva, Genf, Genève, grey, gris and grau all start with G for a good reason.

Some winters are days and days of dull, gray skies.

Rick and I drove into the city on one of those days when gray was everywhere.

The Jet d'eau blended into the water and sky making it almost invisible. The opposite shore of the lake was as muted as a piece of cloth left to fade in the sun for months and months.

Then we pulled up to the car in the photo at a light.
Suddenly the world seemed bright again.

It was the only car anywhere that we could see that wasn't as dull as the day.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all cars could be happy colors, we thought.

Or have original art on them.

Think of all the work for artists. A car owner would be a patron for budding Michelangelos.

I wonder if all cars were beautiful and cheerful would there be less accidents because people wouldn't be as tense as they are when surrounded by dullness.

Maybe there would be less car thefts because each car could be individual making it easier for a police to find a car that wasn't like hundreds of thousands of others.

When stuck in traffic, there would be something more interesting to look at instead of plain car doors and side mirrors. If not alone, the painting on a car could be something new to discuss such as, "What do you think the artist meant when he painted that rainbow?" Or, "What an incredible reflection that artist did of the mountains in the lake."

And when someone forgets where they parked in a garage and there are dozens of cars the same make as theirs, having an original piece of  art on the doors would make it easier to locate.

For those that can't afford the Porsches, the Ferraris, there would be the status of having an original painting on your car. Even older models would be a source of pride.

So, one of you artists out there, think about it. Maybe start your own studio to beautify the cars in your area.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Prior to the 2016 election, no matter where in Europe Rick and I were, someone would approach us and ask us about Trump.

It happened almost daily sitting in numerous cafés in France, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Czech. Or sometimes it was asked in a store or even waiting for a bus.

We would joke when we were out and about how soon would someone recognize our American accents and come up and say, "Excuse me, what do you think about Trump?" 

Their opinions usually made the anti-Trumpers seem like Trump-lovers.

Sitting in the Toulouse airport about to fly to the states in early October, we thought we had missed a day of Trump questions.


The waiter asked THE QUESTION at the same time he presented the bill.

After the election we thought it was over.

Wrong again.

On the Paris Metro a very good looking man, dark hair curling over his collar and eyes a woman could fall into, asked in very accented English, "What do you think about Trump?"

Then tonight in the Hôpital de Genève (HUG) after I had every part of my body prodded to be ruled  healthy, a nurse asked where we were from. 

I explained, raised in Boston, but Swiss. My husband was from New York State.

She got that gleam in her eye that we had not seen for a few days. No, I thought, not here.

"What do you think about Trump?" she asked.

My AR-15

I make no secret of my fear of open-carry states. I don't worry about terrorists when I am in the States I worry about Americans with guns. When they talk about letting students carry guns into classrooms at the U of Austin, I shudder. No child of mine would be allowed to enter such a place. But then again I know if I had a child of college age there are so many universities in Europe that are free or low cost I also would send my child there rather than saddling them with lifelong debt, but that's another blog.

When I received an email offering like this, I literally started shaking thinking of the possibilities for disaster.

Why I am on their emailing list I have no idea. I won't be building my own gun.