Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Human Capital Stock

 Fortunately my daughter in Boston is employed unlike millions of American. Sunday White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday called laid-off employees "human capital stock." He wanted people to return to their jobs regardless of the dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There have been times my daughter, through no fault of her own, has been unemployed. I always thought of her by her name or as my daughter during those periods. I realize now I was wrong. She was Human Capital Stock (HCS). 

Or perhaps even as an employed American she is still HCS. Should I stop thinking of her as an individual who makes me laugh often, who does beautiful needlework, who is generous. As HCS can she still love ice cream? 

Wait a minute -- after 9/11 George Bush told people to go shop making people consumers rather than citizens. Is being HCS a demotion?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

A veteran's death

 American Cemetery Florence, Italy

Growing up I never really knew my father's side of the family. My mother was too much of a snob to want us to have anything to do with those foreigners. They were French Canadians who had migrated to New England in the 1920s.
As an adult I got to know my aunts and uncles and my cousins. I discovered that they were not ignorant foreigners (all were naturalized, but were fun and very loving people).
I met most of them  for the first time when my father gave me a surprise bridal shower. I was about to go overseas to join my new husband who was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. I opened envelope after envelope of money and looked around the room trying to identify who Aunt Evelyn or cousin Marilyn were.
Over the years, I got to know most of them, some became close. We've visited back and forth.

Lately my cousin Carol (whose daughter was born the same day as mine was) has been sending me information she has about the family. She was aware that pre-pandemic I was planning to visit my father's birthplace and the island where my grandfather had been in charge of lighthouse. That trip will mostly be postponed.

She sent me information about my Uncle Joseph, my Aunt Bert's twin. He was killed September 29, 1944 and was buried in the American Cemetery in Florence. I have the information I need to visit his grave. 

I wish I could tell him about everyone in the family, of the things they did, the kids that were born, of life that went on afterwards, of the holiday get togethers with tons of food, of my dad's boat, of how happy Bert was when she moved to Florida in retirement. Or maybe that would be cruel, because it was what he had missed, of what war had robbed him of. 

This is Memorial Day weekend. My Uncle Joseph was only one man of the hundreds of thousands who have died for the United States since 1775. How wonderful if there were never any more.

RankStaff Sergeant U.S. Army
Entered Service FromMassachusetts
Date of DeathSeptember 29 1944

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Beauty, Lake Geneva

Rick takes Sherlock out early mornings while I snuggle in bed. When he showed me this photo taken this morning during their walk, I began to think he got the better deal.

We are less than a two-minute walk from the lake--longer while Sherlock stops to sniff and pee. No matter what season, there is a gasp factor at the beauty.

Three days ago the Bise created white caps that looked like schools of oversized dolphins swimming toward the city. Today, the water looks flat enough to walk on.

Two of my stupider moments when I moved here was not to realize that the lake had many moods and that it would produce great eating fish.

In winter it can be angry enough to throw water across the streets running along side a sharp contrast to a summer's day when the water is so clear the indentation of each rock can be seen under the surface. I had a friend once that swore the lake had to be artificial it was so clear.

The lake has a surface area of 580km/224 sq.miles with an average depth of 154.4meters/507 feet. The maximum depth is 310meters/1,020 feet. A drop of water crossing from the East- Montreux to the West -Geneva can take 11 years, I've been told.

Prehistoric dwellings have been found underwater not far from shore and there are ships that have sunk to the bottom.

The "facts" about the lake can arouse my interest, but it is the sheer beauty that gives me ahhhhhh moments almost every time I look. I admit my eyes have become spoiled by its beauty.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Abortion fakery

I was consumed by the topic of abortion prior to Roe v. Wade in the year it took me to write Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles. My goal was not to make money but to send it to every Pro-Life leader and legislator I came across. I have done that thanks to the help of my daughter.

The stories of women trapped in unwanted pregnancies and what they were willing to do to end them were horrific going back to ancient Egypt when women used crocodile dung in their vaginas. I lost sleep I was so moved by their stories.

 The stories weren't just about the dead women, but their families: children raised without a mother, sisters lost, parents who outlived their daughters. 

I can say I don't like abortion, but I am a realist that knows a woman who wants one will find a way to get one. A rich woman can go wherever she needs for a safe one: a poor woman will resort to whatever she can either to back alleys or dangerous mechanical or drug means.

I've watched in horror as politicians, mainly men, some of whom were later revealed to have paid for the abortions of their mistresses (not all) deal with the wombs of women where they have no business.

Yes, women are in the Pro-Life movement, but in sending out the books, the majority were sent to men.

Now it has been revealed that Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade has flipped her stance again. She was not a good poster child for the cause, but I felt sorry for her. Her life was a series of disasters. Even when she flipped and became a spokesperson for Pro-Life I felt sorry for her. She seemed only to be wanted, an undercurrent in so many of the interviews I watched.

Now, in a deathbed confession she admitted that she was paid to change her position to the Pro-Life stance.  There is a new documentary where she says, “I was the big fish ... I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. It was all an act. I did it well, too. I am a good actress. Of course, I’m not acting now.”

Two of the religious leaders involved in promoting McCorvey spoke in the documentary. One had regrets, the other did not. 

Rev Flip Benham said, “She chose to be used ... That’s called work. That’s what you’re paid to be doing!” 

Rev Rob Schenck said, “For Christians like me, there is no more important or authoritative voice than Jesus ... What does it profit in the end if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?’ When you do what we did to Norma, you lose your soul.”

I sent both Benham and Schenck my book. They did not respond, nor did I expect them to. 

Their cause is an attack on my gender and seems more like a power game.

To all Pro-Lifers, I have a message -- Leave women alone. Take your energies and put them to make it possible for more women to keep their babies if they are undecided for economic reasons. They need affordable day care, food, medical coverage as a start. They need to be able to get birth control at places like Planned Parenthood so a second unwanted pregnancy won't happen. And if it does, give them the alternative of a safe abortion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


9/11 was a scary time. For once if something happened to my beloved stepmom in Florida or my daughter in Boston, I could not get to them from Geneva, Switzerland. The air lanes over the U.S. opened very quickly, however and the panic passed.

The pandemic has created a similar situation. Even if we are allowed into another country, we may not be allowed to reach an airport or cross a border by land to get to the airport. For example, many people who live just across the French/Swiss border on the French side would have to change countries to use the Geneva airport. Part of the airport is considered French territory but it necessary to go through Switzerland.

And even if they did cross the border, the number of flights are reduced.

My stepmom has since passed away but my daughter still lives in Boston and if she had a crisis, despite my Swiss passport and ESTA form, I could not get to her.

If I had a crisis, she could not get to me.

She told me there is another layer of potential problems. Right before the pandemic closed the world as we knew it, she sent her old passport in for renewal. She hops across the ocean frequently, but she had no immediate travel plans.

We just read an article that they've stopped processing passport applications, although they said there were some exceptions for emergencies. I suppose if I were in the hospital we could get some kind of documentation, but even if she escaped the U.S. there's no guarantee she'd be allowed into the country nor the hospital.

It's not like we can talk to one another on FB and say, "Why don't you come to dinner tomorrow night?" and we rush to the airport for an overseas flight, but there's comfort in knowing we can. 

Only now we can't.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


"Well, I think it is bloody stupid." I have my first line of my next book about events leading up to and including the battle of Lexington and Concord.

I suspect most of it will be from the point of view of two British soldiers, but there's a man who makes fire buckets and his daughter, Bostonians, who are creeping in as is the couple who just moved to Boston so he could be the head of the consulate. A brand new Park Ranger keeps saying she wants a role too.

There is tons of research to do. Normally, I write in order, but I think it is important to get the ideas down knowing that there may be hundreds of changes, rearrangements and writing tossed.

There was one novel I wrote covering several decades. I wasn't sure whether to do it chronologically or go back and forth starting from present day.

I finally wrote a summary of each chapter on a different file card, then divided them into chronological order, divided them into piles A and B. I took one from pile A, one from pile B, one from A, one from B except in a couple of cases when I did two or three from one pile. At the end there were a few As left over which were all current time. Then I rearranged the chapters on the computer to match the pile order. When I read through the manuscript it worked.

This may be the case with Lexington.

I also am keeping a file on the characters as I think of them, although I am not sure where they will go. In a way it is a bit like the auditioning for a part.

And I am contacting people for information, following up on things I found on the net.




Monday, May 18, 2020


 The marie where Rick and I became a legal couple

Five years ago today Rick and I, accompanied by our witnesses/friends/family of choice Julia and Scott to legalize the marriage vows we had made before 40 families and friends from seven countries two years before. We passed the wine press to enter the marie (village town hall)

In France, Switzerland and many other countries, the only marriages that have legal standing are done at whatever city hall prevails.

We were greeted warmly and shown in to a room that had been set up for the event. It included a table where two officials sat. The four of us were in chairs on the opposite. A huge bouquet of assorted flowers was on the table. 

We listened to the women official read our duties and responsibilities as a couple and family in a room. We had to repeat some of these things. Rick, who at the time knew little French never believed that he agreed to a long list of household chores.

We signed the documents with a beautiful silver pen the woman handed us. As we went to leave, they presented us with the flowers and the pen.

Our marriage lunch was at a favorite restaurant where the manager offered us a bottle of champagne. During the meal Julia and Scott started speaking German, which I thought strange. Julia seemed very worried about how and when Scott would be home that evening, but my German wasn't good enough to be sure I understood.

Later I understood. Julia had arranged for a surprise reception. Her house were full of people we all cared about.

Rick and I have had many anniversaries. One goes back to the seventies when we met at a conference in Missouri. Another is when he came to Geneva in 2012 and via LinkedIn asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. What a cup that was as was the fondue,,, We could add other milestones as well because so many of our days are a celebration of our really good lives.