Monday, October 05, 2015

US Stealing billions of dollars

One industrialized country practices Citizen Based Taxation--The US.

What does that mean? Every cent an American, accidental American or green card holder living outside the US earns, must be reported including, pension funds, capital gains, investments, unemployment, welfare benefits. They then pay taxes to the US on it as well as paying taxes where they live on the same money sources reducing their disposal income.

There are some deductions but still taxes are flowing out of the economies where the expats live and get all the normal services one receives where they live. This money is being stolen from their local businesses and governments.

This money is being sent from where they live to a place where they don't live and receive no services. (The US may or may not rescue from danger, but guaranteed you will get a bill.)

The US is constantly threatening their citizens (including those who were never born there and never lived there) with fines if they don't fill out this or that form which can cost them five figures or sometimes even exceeds the amount of money not reported.

Countries have caved to the horrible FATCA bill in fear that their banks and other financial institutions will face huge fines and be shut out of the international banking system. The billions spent on compliance could have well gone to better projects.

Why the governments put up with this robbery I do not understand.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

What room is the soul of your house?

I know the title sounds a bit like all those quizzes on Facebook such as which dog would you be?

I define soul of a house as the communication and sharing center, where family members come together regularly to unconsciously create internal nourishing memories. 

I am sure for each family, couple or individual (no Oxford comma, Rick) it varies. For me it has. There were the five houses with my ex that never developed a soul, although I wasn't aware of it at the time.

200 Grove Street, Reading MA

The dining room, with its plant-filled bay window looking out on the rose bushes that had their own seasonless beauty, was the soul of the house. Food was important with recipes a regular topic. Meals were a time to tell one another what was happening in our lives.

We played games almost every Saturday night, read books, came together for quick chats. And the wonderful smells of my grandmother or mother's cooking wafting in from the attached kitchen were like a bell to Pavlov's dog. 

I can still picture my mother sitting there with her afternoon cup of tea reading Gourmet.

Tavern Road, Waltham MA

I loved its well-padded, yellow banquette and matching Formica table. Countless games of Yahtzee were played and tons of good meals eaten there. Plans were made, confidences shared, solutions found. (Oxford comma because there is no and, Rick). And it had more electric plug outlets than appliances making cooking easy. Two great meals were Bill's onion soup and his cabbage, noodle, bacon casserole. 

The refrigerator was a message center.

The Riverway, Boston MA

Its kitchen bay window looked out not on a garden but the city that I loved. The room was decorated in in red and white and my bright red dishes made me smile even on a bad day. Hard to be sad against a happy color.

This was where my daughter and I caught up on the events of our day before homework and writing separated us. It included the almost ritualistic Friday night's Soup La Poubelle which was made out of the leftovers of the week and Saturday's fried bread from the dough left over from the week's loaves.

The cat loved perching on top of the cabinets and the memory of Albert, my Japanese chin, learning to open the lower cabinets explained missing food adding yet another memory.

François Lehman, Grand Saconnex Switzerland

This galley kitchen soul room was a little different because I lived alone much of the time although my daughter did spend a good two years with me and RB2 bunked in while he had a local contract. 

Sunday mornings, sitting at the table, staring at the château across the street, drinking hot chocolate brought a sense of peace no matter how hectic the week had been.

When my daughter was in residence it was also the game room, with our two Japanese chins under the table...all four living creatures crowded into a small space.

Argelès France x2

Since my Argelès nest is a studio, the whole place is the soul of the home. The kitchen area is much too small to do anything but cook and then take the food to the table. 

However, there have been wonderful meals with friends and guests. One of the fun experiences was this summer where we put guests in the nest and they invited me to dinner--a guest in my own home. I walk into the studio and my soul goes "ahhhhhhhhhhhh." The ahhhhhhhhhh factor determines which room is the soul for me.

The flat Rick and I share in Argelès, because the nest is too small for us long term, has a wonderful kitchen with the original 400-year-old wooden beams. Stone walls feature fish carvings by a Danish artist. 

Rick and I eat more often in the dining area or on the patio but there is a table and two chairs in the kitchen where we may chat long after breakfast has finished. It feels good.

However, because the flat so suits us, we both work at home, we communicate any place within its rooms, I am not sure that the kitchen is the soul of the flat. It is a joy to work in, but it has taken a little while to get it set up with all the tools I like to use.

The addition of a slow pot cooker, pots and pans that aren't Teflon or other chemically finished, and opening up the middle space has made me love every minute I am cooking or eating in it. I also love when Rick cooks.

I would say in a way the bedroom might be the soul and it has nothing to do with the physical act of making love, but everything to do with love full stop. When we wake up in the morning, one of us gets two cups of tea, we each read or check email, plan the day, giggle, share information on any topic under the sun that it is so special that the kitchen may be relegated down to the heart of the house.

A home with a heart and soul...what more could anyone want?

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Two Jessicas

American-style BBQ is not common place in Geneva, and truck foods seems are a new phenomena.

Thus when we heard about Funky BBQ on Facebook, we wanted to try it. They do publish their location and today, we were only a couple of block away at lunch time.

"Can you speak English?" one of the servers asked. I'd been on the phone to my housemate to see if she wanted us to bring anything home. She did and we did.

The truck was manned by two charming women named Jessica, one from Tennessee and one from California. The choices included corn bread, baked beans (not Boston), cole slaw, ribs, pulled pork, chicken and a bit of European boar.


The smell in the car just made us hungrier and I don't think people ever sat down to a meal so fast.

After lunch, the smell was still on my hands reminding me there are a couple of ribs left over.

This will not be the last time we track them down.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Bernie and Babette

Cats don't vote and even if they did, a Swiss cat can't vote in America, but I think Babette might like to.

I was on my bed, my iPad propped on my stomach listening to a speech by Bernie Sanders. Babette walked up my legs and rested her head in such a way that it looked like a totem.

My camera was downstairs, one of those perfect shots that will never be captured.

Bernie kept talking, Babette kept purring.

Hmmmm...or rrrrrrrr

The Oxford comma

Rick and I agree on most things. In the three years we’ve know each other there has been only 2.5 times I’ve been annoyed or angry at him and he has shown exasperation with me only once. Consternation doesn’t count.

Even in politics we will each roll out information and both of us modify our opinions as needed.

However, one place we don’t agree on is the OXFORD COMMA.

The Oxford comma is placed before the coordinating conjunction after a series of three or more items.

I love ice cream, chocolate, and champagne. Even putting that comma in there my fingers quiver and a little voice says, “Don’t, don’t.” Well maybe not so little.

A comma replaces the word and. Thus when I used the Oxford comma, I wrote I love ice cream and chocolate and and champagne.

I don’t care that Colin Dexter, creator of the Morse mysteries wrote in the dedication of his The Remorseful Day, “For George, Hillary, Maria, and Beverly (Please note the Oxford comma)” I believe what he said was For George, Hillary, Maria and and Beverly.

As for the with and without example, I suspect very few people would think that the orange juice really was on top of the egg-filled toast.

We can agree to disagree.

Smile research

Because of my low white blood cell count, the doctor said I should wear a mask when I came in for a blood tests because of "microbes" which I did.

I am a smiler. I smile at almost everyone I pass and I wave a small children--it's an almost automatic reflex. Infact it is so automatic that ever with my mask, I kept smiling as I passed people. I discovered most people smiled back even though my mouth was hidden.

I tried not smiling at people under my mask. They didn't smile back.

Maybe they picked up something from my eyes.

I may try more research even though my white blood cells are now protecting me once again from all those nasty microbes.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fall and dessert soups

More Stove Stories from my late mother's unpublished cookbook.
When I make the fish chowder I often add corn or make it with corn without the fish.

My mother also loved dessert soups.


This is in no way your traditional New England fish chowder, but it is easy and delicious. I've tried
adding salt pork to the original recipe given me. It seems to make this chowder even better.

Really, I don't remember which aunt contributed this many years ago, but I do know it's a favorite with family and friends.
  • 1/4 lb. at least of salt pork
  • 2 lbs of haddock or cod fillets
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Several  chopped celery leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 dried dill seed
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Vermouth
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups light cream
Bake the fish until flaky.

Add all ingredients to 3-quart sauce pan with 3 cups boiling water.

Simmer until vegetables are done.

Add Vermouth and 3 cups light cream. (Note: there's chopped parsley in the photo)


  • 2 one-pound cans pitted tart cherries
  • Juice from a third can of cherries
  • 1 cherry can of water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 whole gloves
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 two-inch cinnamon stick
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1/2 bottle white wine such as Medoc
In a kettle combine the two 1-pound cans of cherries, the juice from the third can, 1 cherry can water, the sugar, cloves, allspice, sliced lemon, cinnamon and salt.

Bring to a boil.

Blend 1 tbsp. smoothly into the 3 cups light cream and stir the mixture into the cherry combination.

Add the 1/2 bottle white wine and bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and chill thorough.

Serve with 1 tbsp. whipped cream on each serving.

Will keep for 2 weeks refrigerated.

Makes 12 small servings.


I had an uncle with whom I had great rapport although we argued constantly (but without rancor) at
the drop of a word, any word.

Financially very comfortable, he was the ultimate in contradiction. He never buttoned any sweater he ever owned. The elbows might be worn but the buttonholes were as they came from the men's shop.

Three cups of tea from one teabag was his cardinal rule but he'd pay $400 for a postage stamp without blinking an eye. He'd have loved the economical way with leftovers.

Keep a soup "stockpot" in your refrigerator by pouring in a suitable kettle all juice from vegetables, canned, fresh or froze. Also add any leftover bits of meats and vegetables. At the end of the week simmer the stock with either a packet of dry soup mix or add fresh vegetables any kind of cooked pasta or whatever suits your fancy. An easy meal with a salad and French bread of hot rolls.


This must be the most ingenious leftover ever devised. It is always different and always delicious.
Don't tell your family you're serving them the remains of yesterday's salad or that's why those little leftovers have vanished from the refrigerator. If they insist on knowing what it is, tell them it's "Spring Soup."
  • 1 1/2 cups green salad more or less with dressing remaining in bowl
  • Lettuce leaves (5 or 6 large)
  • 1/2 to 2 cups leftover cooked vegetables
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 to3 cans chicken broth or stock
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 drops Tabasco
Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan and add leftover salad and vegetables.

Saute over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until lettuce is wilted.

Pour this mixture into a blender with some of the chicken broth and puree thoroughly. Return to the broth remaining in the sauce pan and bring to moderate boil.

Add, salt, pepper and Tabasco.

Serve with croutons if desired.

The measurements are flexible and dictated by the amount of ingredients you have on hand.


Even people who don't like carrots like this.
  • 1-1/2 cups carrots, cut up, cooked
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Blend carrots, broth, spices. Heat. Add cream and milk and simmer. Do NOT boil.


 Get out the soup kettle and prepare to see your reputation soar to new heights. The first hint of autumn
absolutely dictates this soup, although I actually make it all year round. It's that good.
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (or beef)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 SHARP cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Paprika
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Sauteed mushrooms (optional)
Chop the onion medium fine and saute in butter in a heavy kettle over low heat. Don't let them brown.

Sprinkle with flour, stir in a smooth paste.

Gradually stir in chicken (or beef) broth.

Add milk slowly, stirring  constantly until thickened.

You can use a double boiler to be safer if you'd prefer.

Grate in SHARP cheddar cheese, add dry mustard, stir constantly.

Heat until cheese melts and remove from the stove at once.

Season with salt, pepper, paprika and two or three stops of Worcestershire.

Add sauteed mushrooms if you wish.

Six servings. you'll wish you'd doubled it.


Pretty as a picture, this is a party soup or for romantic dinners for two. Call it a glamorous soup, call it
exotic, call it elegant.
  • 1 pound fresh ripe strawberries
  • 4 cups Port
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp. arrowroot
Hull and wash strawberries and put in a saucepan with 4 cups Port and one cup of water.

Bring to a boil.

Mix the arrowroot with with 1/4 cup water and stir into the hot soup.

Reheat and stir until it thickens.

Serve the soup chilled and topped with a small dollop of whipped cream and/or a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.

Serves six to 10 depending on the role it plays in your menu.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

At last

Fall/Autumn. I don't care if I use the Brit or American term. IT IS HERE!!!!

I thought it would never come after the summer heat where I could barely breathe and had no energy to do anything at all. Heat makes me feel lousy and sometimes even sick.

Even if the colors in Switzerland are not as bright as those in New England, they do put on dresses of yellow instead of red--that is beauty on beauty.

The vineyards are lush with grapes waiting for the vendaage.

The crisp air caresses my cheeks.

Soon the stands that sell hot roasted chestnuts will replace the ice cream stands (I can get ice cream at the store).

When I get to Argelès I will make and apple pie in memory of Barbara and a pumpkin pie as well.

Kaki fruit will appear in the stores. It's a short season.

Marro will have their courge (squash) soup with pumpkin seeds.

Nights come earlier so I can watch DVDs in PJs and not feel slovenly.

Even more excuses for cups of tea. 

I can take long hot showers.

The electric undersheet will prewarm my bed. Ir may seem strange that I look for ways to make myself warm, but it isn't. I can control what parts of me are warm and not have my body and head filled with heat drying up my vital juices.

The village will have their annual fête courge.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

FB good and bad

Facebook is the jungle drums and smoke signals of the modern era.

There's much to love
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family
  • Finding old friends that I thought were lost
  • Friends that were from one part of my life connecting with friends from another. I have people from high school talking with my current writing group for example
  • Groups (photography, writing, blogging)
  • Being caught up with friends with problems
  • Being able to offer support to people with problems quickly although phone and face are the best after the initial Facebook contact
  • News
  • Jokes
  • Political articles I agree with
  • Political articles I don't agree with to make sure I have a complete picture
  • Articles on favorite subjects (medieval history, maps, grammar etc.)
  • Cute animals
  • Quizzes (I don't care if they use it to gather marketing info) They are fun especially when I do well
Things I don't like
  • How when you go to another page getting back to where you were can be a challenge
  • Lists (Americans are great with numbered lists) where you have to click on the next page and the next and the next
  • Photos posted where after five you have to keep changing screens. I don't even when I adore the photographer and yes I'm lazy
  • Ads that pop up in the middle of an article blocking my reading
  • Words that promise I'll love, laugh etc. giving false expectations
  • People who are nasty rather when they disagree and attack personally not the issues