Thursday, October 26, 2006

A truthful cliché

Three friends of mine have walked the Camino to Santiago, an 800 mile trek/pilgrimage through Northern Spain, Barbara’s husband, a Geneva writer, and May, a Scottish friend living in Argelès. The concept always intrigued me, so I jumped at May’s invitation to come and watch a DVD and look at slides.

Another couple was there, and a quick conversation determined they spent much of their time in Argelès but returned to England frequently. The normal questions of what followed such as which town.

They are from Beckenham, which was where a friend had lived for three years and I visited often. Although I couldn’t remember the name of her street, I was able to situate it by the train station and St. George’s church. I had obviously walked by their house on my visits.

I mentioned she was active in the little theatre there.

“We always go to their plays,” the woman said.

“I saw On Golden Pond. My friend had the Katherine Hepuburn role,” I said.

They saw it, although we couldn't determine if we were in the theatre on the same night. I forgot to mention how she had won best actress in a competition among little theatre groups. When I see them at La Noisette, I will mention it.

The cliché phrase, a small world, is based on reality.

139 to 1 Another Anti-Peace Vote

The lead on the BBC Friday morning news and is below...
“A United Nations committee has voted overwhelmingly to begin work on drawing up an international arms trade treaty.

The measure would close loopholes in existing laws which mean guns still end up in conflict zones despite arms embargoes and export controls.

“It could also stop the supply of weapons to countries whose development is being hampered by arms spending.

“Only the US - a major arms manufacturer - voted against the treaty, saying it wanted to rely on existing agreements.

“A total of 139 states voted for the motion.”

I could find no mention of it on the CNN site, and as of 7:30 no mention of it on CNN international. Although I fell asleep before the end of NBC nightly news, I saw no mention of this important story on the msnbc website, which seems as an important story in this war-torn world.

Of course no treaty will stop arms smuggling such as Aegis, the Private Security Company under Tim Spicer as reported by Malaysia Today. “AEGIS: In June, the Pentagon's Program Management Office in Iraq awarded a $293 million contract to coordinate security operations among thousands of private contractors to Aegis, a UK firm whose founder was once investigated for illegal arms smuggling. An inquiry by the British parliament into Sandline, Aegis head Tim Spicer's former firm, determined that the company had shipped guns to Sierra Leone in 1998 in violation of a UN arms embargo. Sandline's position was that it had approval from the British government, although British ministers were cleared by the inquiry. Spicer resigned from Sandline in 2000 and incorporated Aegis in 2002.”

However, back to the problem of too many guns, killing too many people, once again we find another example of the US trying to block a step that would give a form for a more peaceful world. Nothing will accomplish it completely, but treaties that work toward it is a step that humans can’t afford not to try to make and keep.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Flour OR sugar

From her front gate to the door the left side of her front garden was ablaze with a flower that had both orange and yellow blossoms on the same plant. The white-haired woman, middle-aged thick, with an apron was clipping back any leaf that wasn’t perfect.

Here people don’t have yards they have gardens, even when flowers are non existence. Grass is not popular, stones, flag or otherwise, potted plants or statues.

In French I told her that her garden was magnificent.

She smiled. “Do you know, all this,” she swept her hand over the yards and yards of flowers, “came from a single plant?” With her shears she cut a single blossom and offered it to me in her gloved hand. “Put it in water with a spoonful of farine ou sucre. You will get roots.”

“Flower and Sugar? I asked, quite touched by her offering.

“Un ou l’autre. And let me know, how it works.”

The blossom is now in a glass of sugary water in the middle of my blue placemat on my table. I am not sure it will root in time for me to plant it one of the large blue pots that flank my front door before I return to Geneva for the winter. I hope so. However, my 18-inch circular garden will never hope to be as beautiful as hers.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Purry Weather Forecaster

Some people foretell cold weather by the furry caterpillar. I have a more sound method. I use a four-footed, grey and white, fuzzy purr machine.

During the summer, Munchkin can barely be found. She is out wandering, keeping company with her feline friend Goose and living up to what I think of as her nickname, Mouse Breath.

However these last few days, out is for necessity and time is spent holding down sunbeams on my bed. I don’t need to look when I enter my room. The constant purr defines her location.

I am a dog person, not a cat person EXCEPT for certain cats. When my daughter lived with me, the antics of the Lady Gwen and Morgana kept me entertained, although Morgana slapping me in the morning to get up and feed her lacked relationship-building tact. I actually missed them when they moved back to the States. Our pets in general are probably better travelled than many humans, carrying their own passports (a nice little booklet with all their shots and certificates).

Munchkin is one of those special cats. When she is not around I miss walking along and suddenly feel her head under my hand as she keeps pace with me as she walks on her hind legs. Today when I go out, I know I need my coat. The sunbeam in my bedroom is occupied telling me that it is coolish outside.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Tea…I drink it like others drink coffee, starting my day with it. Often I am drinking tea while my Brit friends drink coffee, creating a cross-cultural cacophony.

Tea has been a ritual, with different pots properly preheated and the tea measured with concentration then left to brew. Tea has been a catalyst to conversations, serious sometimes and funny others.

Most mornings one of the first things I do is make myself a cup of tea be it brewed in a pot or a bag thrown in a cup. The tea can be my new favourite, Prince of Wales, or the hard to find Bengali Bay, or Earl Gray served in a bowl like the French do flavouring the air as much as the palate.

One of the real pleasures of staying with friends of mine, which I often do, is that mornings I hear a tap on the door, and the gentleman of the house comes in, still in pyjamas, carrying a cup of hot tea that he puts on the table. It happened this weekend. The cup was a smoky blue, the colour adding to the pleasure. However, on Sunday morning, a second treat awaited me when he returned with a second cup that had cardamom added.

In its brew I remembered the Arabian mint teas I have enjoyed poured high in the air into small glasses, the mateis of Damascus sipped through silver spoons while sharing with the women friends of my friends, the Christmas tea served in Paris by a Tibetan woman.

Sometimes the best gifts are as simple as a cup of tea brought to you in bed before the day starts.

Wimping out/Finding joy

A weekend with friends is always a treat, but this Sunday, there was an impromptu suggestion to go hiking in the Alps of the Valais. Proper shoes and a jacket were located that fit me and my host and I were off to catch the train.

After 16 years here I should be immune to the scenery. No vaccination against beauty exists and if it did I wouldn’t take it. Both my host and I oohed and ahhed pointing out mountains, apple orchards, quaint villages. We shifted trains, changed plans and finally ended up at a trail. All over Switzerland walking trails are marked including the time to the next destination on small yellow arrows.

That I love to walk is not a secret. I think nothing of walking across the city, or taking walks in the mountains or parks at the drop of shoelace. That I love the mountains is less of a secret. I am a latecomer to this terrain, always having thought of myself as an ocean person, but only after moving here did I discover mountains have as many moods as the ocean.

What I don’t like is height. In fact it terrifies me. I always stay far back from any precipice. The path we had found started with a railing that stopped the drop to the village below. This okay. I can do a trail with a barrier even when the barrier is made of tree tops. However, the rail and tree tops disappeared leaving a path barely two people wide with a rock ledge on one side and nothing on the other to keep me from plunging below followed by an area with more protection.

I did the first exposed path and the second bit and was rewarded with a waterfallette, trickling down the mountain. After the third and not knowing what was ahead, I found myself clinging to the ledge unable to turn around.

My host was kind. He suggested going a few more feet where the ledge receded and I did.

I have often said it is okay to be scared, it isn’t okay to let it stop you. Then on the other hand, maybe there are times when stopping is better. I encouraged my host to go on. He needed a little urging, but after leaving me with chips, a book and apple juice headed onwards.

I found a pile of rocks and sat as far back from the edge as I could. My geology long forgotten, I suspect the rock was slate and I found myself using one piece of rock to draw a ship on the flat surface of another rock. The smoothness of the stone was silk-like and warm under my fingers. Among the rocks were small plants, some turning fall colours, some still green.

The sun was warm. When I looked into the distance I saw white peaked mountains, green lush hillsides spotted with yellows and reds and wooden chalets.

The only sound besides an occasional train or airplane was the wind and even that was more the rustle of the leaves.

The sun, warmed me, and instead of fear or disappointment in myself at wimping out, I was filled with a moment of unmatchable joy that I was there in that spot, totally alone surrounded by incredible beauty.

My host returned, I forced myself through the scary parts on our return route with less fear than before, but in no way was I comfortable. However, the feeling to total and unlimited happiness carried me beyond that fear.

Had I gone on would I have felt that wave of emotion? Would I be less afraid of heights? I don’t know. What ifs aren’t ever knowable. What I do know, is that I pushed myself a little, but I still wimped out, but my wimping brought me a gift. It is enough.




July 4, 1776 – September 28, 2006

The USA has its first birth pangs July 4, 1776 when the principles that have formed the framework of our country’s core beliefs were put forth. It died September 28, 2006 when the Military Commissions Act was passed gutting the Constitution.

Over the last 230 years of my country’s history we have done some wonderful things. We have done some terrible things, but good or bad two things stood…the framework of our principles and The Constitution.

We have had bad presidents. The framework stood. The Constitution stood. It stood through Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Over the last five years I have watched as we as a nation have done terrible things: attacked and destroyed a country for false reasons, tortured people directly or had them rendered to torturers. Held people with no recourse to law, violated the privacy of our citizens. I don’t have to mention names like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib we all know them. We have seen the photos and read the articles.

Still the framework stood. The Constitution stood. The principals even if not followed were there.

September 29, 2006 they were no longer there. My country died. There will be an entity that continues, called the United States of America, but what was good and right and just, at least in principle, are no more. And if part of The Constitution goes down when will the rest follow?

I weep, I mourn for the death of a loved one.

I am told that the Military Commissions Act will make us safer from terrorists. Who, I ask you, will make us safer from ourselves.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Musings while walking to the post

As I walk to the post, I pass grape vines freed from their fruit, a field plowed and ready for the next year’s seed. I smell fresh mown hay still in clumps that will be rolled into cylinders.

A Muslim women, veiled from her head to toe but with her face showing walks by pushing a baby carriage with a bonny, smiling infant. We smile as we exchange bonjours. Her accent is better than mine.

I think of the brouhaha created by Jack Straw who said he could communicate better with women constituents when they weren’t veiled. I think of the put downs on the choices made by Muslim women. I have talked to some and listen to their reasons for the scarf, the veil, full hijab. Agreeing with them is not required. Appreciating their point of view is. I hope I do. I’ve tried.

Still as a western woman, a feminist, part of me will not let go of the idea that women should not need to protect themselves from men’s eyes. That implies men are weak, stupid, etc. Equally I am annoyed the morality is usually synonymous with sexuality.

My sexuality is my own: it is not my father’s, brother’s, lover’s. What I do with it is my choice, although I may decide to enter into agreements of fidelity and if I break those agreements, then my morality is in question.

At this point in my thoughts I have reached the blueberry bushes and my thoughts drift to other questions of morality.

People can get hysterical over Bill Clinton’s or Mark Foley’s sex life (although if it brings new faces into Congress, there's an upside). They are quiet about the immorality of the 650,000+ estimated dead Iraqis and the almost 3000 dead American troops -- all for a lie. They don’t scream about the morality for our bought and paid for Congress by corporate America who put power before their constituents and play with the lives of the citizens of America. They say nothing about the morality of the war profiteers who have stolen American money in Iraq but worry that a gay couple might marry.

Maybe it has to do with something I witnessed as a cub reporter where a New England town meeting voted a multi-million school construction budget without a peep and argued for hours about a $300 town decoration scheme. Small things can be understood more easily than big. $300 is understandable, millions aren’t.

I have reached the post. I chat in French with the people in line. It is a friendly village. An aristocratic woman, her silver hair in a bun, her black dress on a body that most women would die for, says “Have a good day,” to me in heavily accented English.

“You too,” I say and turn to the older man in front of me. “Funny no one thinks my accent is Swiss.”

He and his buddy laugh. They are probably about my age. “Maybe it is Vaudoise, not Genevoise.” We don’t discuss morality.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bomb threats

There are two bombs at Cornavin, the voice on the phone told the Geneva police. Last night the train station was shut down for almost three hours as the bomb squad went over the station. Another bomb threat was received for the Globus Department Store (don’t worry Llara, the cheddar is safe). Likewise the UN lockdown their security after attack threats.

Nothing was found and today things are back to normal.

If a terrorist wants to hit a spot nothing will stop him or her. Smart terrorists won’t use telephones or email to discuss their plans. They will just do it. Of course any country can check who gets on airplanes, what is in cargo, make sure their nuclear plants have proper security, but there is no way anyone can patrol an entire country. A quick vial of a chemical in water, a bomb hidden and detonated, easy-peasy.

Meanwhile The Guardian has quoted a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study in Baltimore, which was validated by four separate independent experts that over 640,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war. Maybe that gives reason to the claim by 16 US intelligence agencies’ claim the war has increased terrorism. After all if the US was so angered by the death of a mere 3000 people on 9/11 can you imagine how annoyed the Iraqis and their friends must be at 645,000 deaths not to mention the 350,000 that died prior to the war from our sanctions (substantiated by Madelein Albright). I understand why anyone would want to become a terrorist after watching the death and destruction that the US and the UK have poured onto their countries, their people and their families.

I know it is not a popular point of view and I apologise to those Americans whose loved-ones died thinking they were protecting their country. Their motives were good. Sadly, they died making their country less safe. But then again, all is not loss. Think of all the companies servicing Iraq like Halliburton and have made tons of money (war profiteering was always good business) while creating a situation that can in turn further hurt the US. Thank you Halliburton and all those other companies who have made us less safe.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A profile of Edith Hall

When Edith Hall, a childhood hood chum of my grandmother, sent out Christmas cards she used the cards she had been sent, crossing out the name of the sender, obliterating it to a point that she almost tore through the paper. One would have thought she was poor, except the cards often included checks written out for anywhere from $100 to $1000, no small amount in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Hall was an old maid when the term meant just that. She owned a two-apartment house on High Street in Reading that she crammed full of everything imaginable. There wasn’t a surface free of books or papers and sometimes even as a child I had to work to manoeuvre my way around. To my ten-year old eyes the piano bench seemed especially dangerous as books were piled higher than I was tall.

My grandmother and Edith had cooked up the idea that Edith should give me arts and crafts lessons. Unlike today when children are programmed for every lesson under the sun after school, my afternoons were free to run in the forest near the house, read, write, skate (ice or roller depending on the season) and do a 1001 things all of my own choosing. I liked it that way. Still for several Fridays dutifully I was dropped off and made my way through the thicket of things.

Edith was clever, and in retrospect I suspect she was a real artist, and she showed me how to make pink rosebuds from crepe paper. Hers looked real even close up. Mine looked unreal even from a distance.

After a number of Fridays, I rebelled. My grandmother pleaded saying how much the lessons pleased her friend. I won and I don’t know what excuse my grandmother made, but I am sure it was tactful.

Years later, freshly back from Germany with my new husband, we rented the upper story apartment as my parents had done when they were newly married. Only the paint had changed. The gas stove even in the sixties was from another the depression era, black with white oblong ceramic handles. The bathtub had claw feet. Because the rent was low we stayed there two years.

By this point Edith was convinced the previous tenant was breaking into her house and stealing things. The stacks from my childhood had grown, and both my husband and I were sure she lost things in the morass. He often helped her look, sometimes finding what was missing, more often not.

I avoided the apartment as much as I could. To save money, for I was still a university student, we used her telephone, and the passageway to reach her telephone was through a cavern of possessions. Even going in made me claustrophobic. Yet, I heard from my grandmother how pleased she was to have us (and our German Shepherd Kimm) there.

Finally, tired of her constant fears that assaulted us each time we came home, we moved. Once again, I suspect that my grandmother soothed the waters, for we did not want to hurt her feelings.

I am curious if today anyone but myself remembers this woman, a combination of eccentricities and kindness mixed with artistic talent. It is like when my brother and I are both dead no one will remember my grandfather, my Uncle Gordon. People live their lives on this planet and die, then disappear after the last person who knew them is also gone. But for a few minutes more anyone who reads this will know of a strange woman named Edith Hall who reused her Christmas cards.


November 6th. I will take my oath and become a Suissesse and a Genevoise for your canton is considered almost as important as the country. It will be three years and eight months since I filed my application and will be the second most important day of my life. The first is the birth of my daughter.

I look at Geneva in a new way. I am not a visitor, an ex-pat or even a re-pat. This country, this cantonm, this city now feels like it is mine. Today was a medley of the beauties of this ancient city.

The Hotel de Ville (City Hall not part of a chain of hotels like I thought before I learned French) is in a building from the middle ages marked with Romeo and Juliet type balconys around a cobblestone courtyard. There are no stairs between floors, but ramps pebbled with small stones and as you walk up you see patterns including a large heart. I peeked into the special hall where the ceremony will be held.

Later, waiting for the bus to take me to lunch at WIPO with my former neighbour, the early autumn sun warmed my face. The buildings around the stop were a mixture of new, old, ancient. Underneath the bridge where the number 5 stops the Rhone swirled Coke bottle green and its clean water smell mingled with that of the roasting chestnuts coming from the stand next to the stop.

A woman played the saxophone, My Way, which unlike most believe was not written by Paul Anka by Claude François. If you don’t believe me listen to an interview with François in English

The notes faded away just as the bus arrived but the feeling of contentment rode with me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Don’t tell me the sale price of peaches.
Tell me if you bought them at the green grocers
where the woman chats about recipes
while her fingers dance on cash register keys?
Or were they stacked high between
apples and apricots at the supermarket?

Had you been searching for peaches or
were you looking for carrots
when peaches caught your eye?
Did you fight temptation
thinking yourself weak to give in?

Tell me about their perfume
I want to know if fuzz tickled your hand
when you dropped them into a plastic bag.
Did the first one taste sweet
when you bit into it,
or was it tasteless,
over engineered,
travelling well and
looking pretty in a bowl,
but never meant to impress taste buds?

And when you finished,
did you want another?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Muzzle Law

The Swiss are usually an obedient people, but the new Geneva muzzle law on all dogs in most public spaces went into affect on the 2nd of October. Fines start at about $80. I have yet to see a dog muzzled. The reason behind the ruling was the usually pitbull and dangerous dog attacks, but the number of people put in hospital by a Yorkie or Westie still has to reach above 0. Dog owners, the newspapers, say they are refusing to do it. On the other hand stores sold out of muzzles. Maybe the people bought them for the politicians that came up with this law. I am sure there will be a referendum vote fairly quickly.

Memoire of a divorcée

I was divorced in January 1971, almost 26 years ago. Both my ex and I have gone on to live the lives we were meant to live. I would have hated to stay trapped in Reading, he would have hated living in Europe. Although the divorce wasn’t my idea, I am grateful to him for giving me the freedom that I didn’t know I wanted until after I had it.

Still the day of my divorce and those painful months came back with a whap when once again I had to produce my divorce papers for the Swiss authorities. Now I understand they need to know my marital status for various official things because it affects what they do and have to pay or not pay, who might be entitled to live in the country.

And it was not a reliving of pain that happens each time I bring the papers out, but the memory of pain, which is far different combined with more than a dollop of gratitude that it is over. Someone once said, you truly never divorce. They are right. My ex was a major part of my life for 12 years, we have a daughter. I don’t want to erase those years and I am happy to have had them as a learning tool to that led me into the next stages of my life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Seeing Sami Again

He stood, wearing an apron, in the doorway of the Lebanese coffee house.

“Sami?” I asked. He was the Sami who used to bring the morning brioche, croissants and pain de chocolate with the good black chocolate to my old company. In chatting he was surprised I had visited his home town of Homs in Syria. Soon I would learn a greeting in Arabic from my Syrian neighbour to greet him as I bought my breakfast, then he would teach me a new word to take back to her.

Our exchanges were simple, but enough to astonish a co-worker, who said, “I didn’t know you could speak Arabic too.” Sami lied and said I spoke it quite well. The co-worker who had been unimpressed told others I spoke Arabic. Fortunately no one else at the company did and Sami and I guarded the secret of my limited vocabulary although unlike French, I am told I do pronounce it well.

He disappeared, falling out with his boss, who replaced him. His boss’s relation to personal hygiene was shaky at best and my Arabic exchanges came to an end.

“I spent the last two years in Canada,” he told me. He is now trying to increase business in the café by serving hummous, taboulli, kibbeh…foods I love and have eaten so often with my forner Syrian neighbor. I made a mental note to eat at the coffee house soon.

Marhaba, Qui Fac, Shukren, Afwan. Hello, how are you, thank you and you are welcome. It comes back.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Geneva October

No more evening walks
in sunshine
nor sitting on the balcony
eating cold cucumber soup
while mountains
smile a pink goodnight

Now dark steals day
before work is done.
I cram fingers into gloves,
walk home.
Sharp air knives my cheeks
as yellowed leaves
attack my ankles
then rush to other victims.

Shutters clatter shut,
seal my flat.
A hot bath bastes my bones.
The kettle gurgles,
a tea cup waits.
Far away
Mountains sleep white.

And one of those ice thingies...

My baked bean and cassoulet friend (a woman who has shared both a New England childhood and a French adulthood), gave me a DVD about map making and perspective by
Dr. Bob Abramms of

It’s a challenge of the different perspectives that maps create and it brought back memories from about five Christmases ago, that is a healthy reminder that even what we think is 100%, there can be totally different points of view that can also be 100% correct. I checked my files for something I had written a good five years ago, a variation on the same topic.


“Five continents? There are seven,” my best friend of thirty years said. We were sitting in her Boston bedroom. Although I’ve lived in Europe for over a dozen years, we’ve been able to maintain a close friendship. Nevertheless, from time to time we bump heads on our different experiences and our different chosen cultures, each of us digging into stances that waste both our times and energies.

Oops, here’s another landmine, I thought. Still, I went on. “In Europe they teach five,” I said.

She looked at me. “Name them.”

“Er, the Americas, Eurasia...” My assurance vaporized with the steam of the tea we were drinking. How did others classify the continents? I had no idea.

“In Germany they teach five,” my daughter said. She’d done five years of university in Mannheim, Germany.

“That’s only one country’s point of view,” my friend snapped.

Before taking too strong a stance, I decided to take a survey by emailing my friends, colleagues and neighbors back in Geneva. One of the advantages of working for a small international organization with coworkers representing 47 different nationalities is that it is easy to check out different perspectives. The next morning I ran to my email to see if anyone had answered. My inbox was full.

“Goooooooodmoooooooorningamerriiiiikkaaaa,” my Romanian colleague wrote. “Europe, Asia, South America, North America, Australia. The others are ice thingies.”

Okay, I thought. I was wrong about the Americas being grouped as a single continent. I then opened the email from my Ukrainian coworker. “Six,” he said. He grouped North and South America as one, but added one of my Romanian friend’s “ice thingies” -- Antarctica. When I was first living in Europe, he had taught me to look beyond my beliefs. An ardent Democrat, I resisted going for his jugular when he claimed that “Reagan was one of America’s greatest presidents.” Only after he explained, that he felt that it was Reagan’s Star Wars that helped break up the Soviet Union giving sovereignty to his country, did I look at that particular president from my co-worker’s point of view. The ability to see the other side, I still haven’t mastered, but am closer, thanks to him.

“Five,” my Syrian neighbor, who works for the World Council of Churches, wrote. “Of course,” she added, “with all the new countries what I learned in geography has changed. What about subcontinents like India?” I’d never thought of India being a subcontinent and I didn’t want to get into it either.

“FIVE,” was the opinion of my Swiss German colleague. The” naturally” was implied by the capital letters.

My Swiss French colleague, who is the secretary to our secretary general, showed her normal political acumen that our boss so appreciates. “I learned five,” and then she cited the source. However, detail person that she is, she checked another source that claimed seven.

My Brit buddy, a person with a degree in psychology, came up with her usual response. “You need to define your terms. Is a continent an unbroken landmass…?” Then with her usual sense of humor she added, “We got rid of your continent and all those gum chewers centuries ago.” She never named a number.

Suddenly, I saw the silliness in the situation. Puny mankind could count and define these land masses as they want. It changes nothing. I then imagined how we creatures, who live for only a few decades, try to control by naming and counting what has existed for millions and millions of years. I pictured two Alps talking. “What’s your name now?” one mountain would ask the Matterhorn.

“Some call me the Matterhorn, some Zermatt, among other things, ” the Alp would reply.

I closed my email. My friend and I are meeting my daughter for lunch, three friends, despite differences in age, chosen life styles, professions, or belief in number of continents. We will order good food, share memories, plan the upcoming holiday, which is why I am in the States. The rest is detail, unimportant in our lives.