Tuesday, July 29, 2014

train setters

There are those that are jet setters people who hop on planes to travel the world.

Rick and I are train setters. We hop on trains to travel the continent. 

Tuesday we trained to Geneva.

I did my usual we've got to get to the station ridiculously early, but not before having petit déjenuer at La Noisette. Rick is so patient with my being extra early even controlling the number of eye rolls. We had time to sit inside while waiting rather than go out on the quai.

The wind blew the bamboo that grows between the quai and the cemetery to 60° angles. The temperature had dropped from the day before. It seems this summer the weather fluctuates from hot to cold hot to cold almost daily.
In Lyon, I told Rick to wait. I'd be right back. 

He assumed I was going to the toilet. 

I rushed into a store, grabbed the sweater shown in the photo and put it on while the girl was ringing up the sale. Took about five minutes. I didn't care what it looked like. Warm was the goal .See photo of a warm me waiting for the train to Bellegarde.

The last leg of the trip left us as bus setters. The tracks between Bellegarde and Geneva are under repair so they bussed us for the last leg of the journey.

It was wonderful to be picked up by one housemate followed by a meal but where else than at Marrionier.

Other train trips planned in the near future are to Paris, Stuttgart, Amsterdam and maybe Berlin. We'll probably train after a flight to Ireland near the end of the year.

But that is how it goes when you're a train setter.

(Rick has another version http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/ )

Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm not in Australia

I'm not in a lot of places, but I'm sad that I am not at the World Council of Credit Union's Conference being held now at the Gold Coast, Australia.

One of the joys of my working career was covering their conferences in person. It meant 16 hour days running from presentation to presentation, writing and them and getting them filed. It meant interviewing world leaders like Nobel Prize winner John Hume or Irish President, Human Rights activist and Elder Mary Robinson, Vincente Fox and more.

I'm not name dropping.

None of them will remember me, but as far as Mary Robinson was concerned, I considered it an honour to have breathed the same air as she did. Listened to her explain how she was able to continue after horrendous events like seeing Rwanda after the massacre. She reached out, put her hand on mine and said,  "My dear, I always see the glass a quarter full." Would that we could clone her and make her president of every country in the world.

It meant meeting with wonderful, dedicated, intelligent people from North and South America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Some have struggles just to survive through wars, epidemics and famine and they still trying to help their fellow citizen.

I love credit unions. They prove financial institutions can be fair to all their depositors. Why anyone would use a bank if they could use a credit union is beyond me. Are you reading this Llara...? I don't care if you don't make me a grandmother. I don't care how or where you work if you're happy. That you do business with a bank makes me sad. And yes, I hear you say you don't do guilt trips.)

Back to the WOCCU conference. Although I'm not there, thanks to the wonderful staff there, I'll still be able to cover it from afar, using photos, press releases and information sent me, combined with my years of knowledge with the movement.

But I still wish it had been more feasible to be there. If only Scotty could have beamed me in.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thanks Tex

Nope the Tex is not my husband, despite his years spent in Dallas.

It's Tex McReynolds, the balding, red-headed golf pro, who gave me golf lessons for too many years every Saturday morning. 

Not my choice. 

I'd have been as happy watching cartoons, reading a book, or just sleeping-in. 

Why couldn't I have been forced to take piano lessons instead?

Golf was never my thing. My father used to yell at me to get out of the woods when we played as a family. 

My ball wasn't there. 

I was picking blueberries. The tadpoles in the water where my ball went were more interesting than the next shot.

I did dip into playing a bit in the 1980s with fellow DCU staffers and enjoyed it, but after moving
to Europe it was too expensive. Too many other things were to be enjoyed.

Being married to an avid, former pro golfer hasn't upped my enthusiasm for the sport, although I'm more than happy for him to play whenever he wants.

But Tex brought me two very good things.

1. I understand what Rick is talking about when he talks about golf.
2. My putting was respectable when we played mini golf with friends. This was the first time I'd played in decades.

The weather was great. The grandson of my friends was a sweetheart. There were some challenges that left us laughing.

I guess golf is like riding a bike...somethings are never forgotten.

In any case Tex...thanks...

On ironing a shirt

ON IRONING A SHIRT sounds like some kind of poem title, but this isn't a poem.

As I was ironing Rick's shirt this morning. Yes I do iron, not because I like to, but because I like the way ironed things feel. I noticed the perfect hem at the bottom. I realised that this shirt had travelled all the way from Asian country.

Someone, probably a woman, had put this shirt under a sewing machine and run it through. I've seen the films of the long columns of women bent over machines.

How many other women sit near her?

How old was she? 

How many years had she gone to school if at all?

Does she have children?

How many if so?

Where does she live?

Does she have running water?

How much does she make to produce this shirt for my husband?

Has she ever been beaten?

My life touched hers for a moment. I wish her well.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Farmer Rick, Farmer DL

We harvested our first tomato of the 15 that we have on the vine. Okay, I admit it, it fell off. We are trying to decide how to prepare it.

Also our grapes are beginning to ripen outside our rear entrance. I wonder if we'll stomp them into a shot glass of wine, but I'm not sure where I can get oaken barrel small enough to let the wine age.


DL: The WC, through the trees, I've peed there.

RICK: Is there a plaque?

Thoughts on becoming 72

Early years
I was born during WWII, but my only remembrance was how happy people were that the war was over. I didn't know what a war was, but it was nice people were happy. Now there are 41 wars in the world, each making less sense than the one before.

We had the first TV in Reading, MA. The screen was a fraction of my normal laptop screen. We also had tons of company every evening and I feel asleep to the smell of popcorn and the sound of whatever program was on.  I was more interested in Big Brother Bob Emery, a local children's presenter (photo).

Growing up in Reading in a time where people could earn a good living, get a good education, gave me a solid background for the rest of my life.

My parents divorced, thank goodness.

People say I don't look my age...who would dare?

My vanity does not like the less than taunt skin, the extra weight, although having been stick thin for many of my years, the kilos gained aren't as bad as they could be if I'd started from a chubbier base. Because I still get pimples far too often, I maintain it's my way of staying young looking.

I've already outlived one grandfather and my parents. In a way I feel I'm living the years they couldn't. My maternal grandmother, Dar, died in her mid 80s and my paternal grandparents lasted until their 90s (photo). That is my next goal to reach -- Dar's age.

I've various aches and pains and stiffness.

My body weaknesses: an esophagus that throws temper tantrums, that I've survived breast cancer and asthma are not necessarily age related. Still I chafe against any physical restrictions.

My life has been blessed

Overall my life has been blessed. I've done everything I've wanted not necessarily when I wanted or how, but my dreams have been accomplished. Not in order
1. To be a writer
2. To live in Europe
3. To have a daughter

The two happiest days of my life, among thousands, were when Llara was born and when I became Swiss.

Two of the saddest were the days of my divorce and when I had to give up my nationality. I've lost people I've loved, some who have moved on, others who have died. You don't get to 72 without some pain.

I've had wonderful friends, people I treasure. I've had support from friends or family through all my crises. And I've been able to support people I've loved through theirs. Better to not have had crisis but I know I can handle them whether mine or the support of others'.

I've had wonderful jobs and terrible ones. The best was DCU, but in retrospect too much of my time was spent in uncaring companies. However, those jobs gave me the funds to live the rest of my life not in luxury but in comfort.

Between France and Switzerland, I inhabit two incredibly beautiful places. My Swiss home includes one of those treasured friends: the French, a husband I never expected to have or wanted. Nice he proved me wrong on having a man in my life.

I've always had words dancing in my head. That I've been able to have my novels published still needs a skin-pinching-reality check.

Things, good, bad or neutral come into our lives. I hope I can work with them all.

I've made mistakes

The biggest being the divorce of a dead man I wasn't married to. Everyone should have one alpha stupid action in their lives to keep them humble.

I overstepped mother bounds with a grown child. I apologized. As she said, "I'm glad you grew out of that phase." 

The others mistakes were smaller.

Hopefully I've learned from my mistakes of all dimensions. If nothing they help me appreciate my non mistakes.

Things that really, really matter

People, friends, kindness, love.  The rest is detail.

Candle photo: Rick split a birthday brownie. I'm lucky he didn't try to put 72 candles on it but 7 on one and 2 on the other.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The snail that got away


At the marché a couple of weeks ago, I bought what I thought was empty snail shells and distributed them in the pretty stone dishes on the patio for decoration and in the plants outside the backdoor. (Local cats think of plants as toilets so it is necessary to protect the dirt with rocks or other things).

Rick found what he thought was a cute one until he realised that there were crawling all over. I rushed to the patio to discover that those empty shells--weren't empty. They were home to little creatures.

We gathered them up and took them to the dry riverbed and sent them on their slow way. The next day when we checked, they had moved on, unless someone had discovered them and made a meal of them.


Rick was preparing the patio for a bbq that we were having. He spied one snail on the wall. He plucked it from the wall, despite the snail's valiant attempt to hang on.

I carried him/her (how do you know which gender a snail is?) to a more suitable habitat.

Rick doesn't appreciate snails even if the Aztec moon god Tecciztecatl bore a snail shell on his back as a symbol of rebirth. Maybe that last snail (or at least Rick hopes there are no more hiding in the rubber tree) was more than a symbol of rebirth.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Rick had that look on his face, the one that said, if I stay quiet what she says will make sense.

I had just said, Harry Fear, "Fear what a name for a reporter."

Fear was delivering a report from Gaza.

"He's really brave."

Rick's confused look did not go away.

"What does brave have to do with FIFA?"


We went back and forth as Rick tried to fathom what I said.  Finally it became clear. My Boston accent had struck again. FEAH was what he heard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sneakers I could buy

I haven't bought sneakers (trainers in Brit. Eng, baskets in French) in years because I haven't been able to find any without an ugly logo.

I'm logo adverse. If I wear something with a logo I'm announcing to the world "Hey, look how dumb I am. I was fooled into giving free advertising to some corporation and probably paid more than if it didn't have a logo. And they think I'm so dumb, that I will believe because I'm sporting this stupid logo, people will think I'm smarter or richer than I am."

If I do have something with a logo, I take it off or cover it up. I have a lovely Nike sweat suit, although you'd never know it. I've sewn three adorable kittens over the logo. 

I'd happily wear Nike products if they would pay me even a fraction of what they pay Roger Federer.

However, sneakers with books, even comic books, those I might consider. I suspect the name of the manufacturer is on the bottom of the heel.