Friday, June 27, 2008

What I didn't buy this month

This month I didn't buy anything at all, and th only temptations were these two paintings. I loved the Cock and the feathers included from the model, according to the artist. The painting to the right is three dimensional. The two together would have been 650 Euros, affordable, but then again I don't really have the wall space and I can look at the photos whenever I want.
As far my no-buy year is going, I know if I eliminated restaurant meals and tickets for travel or concerts, then I would feel deprived. However concerts and tickets don't need to be stored or dusted.

Taking the train

Most of the time I walk to and from the beach, about a half hour at stroll pace, BUT, because I needed to get back I took the little train which makes 42 trips back and forth.

And within minutes the route is into the country side and we pass cows, not a novelty for me, a Swiss citizen.

And it is just a pretty ride with the mountains.


As part of my eating lunch at restaurants each day during my holiday I just found the bottle that my water was delivered was just pretty. The scene was taken at the beach on the street of boutiques.

Guess what this is

An ugly monkey?
Something from out of space?
A mutant?
No, it is a close up of a palm tree and believe it or not, for the first time I realise that the bark often looks like the fur my daughter collects from her cat, the Lady Guinevere. As a writer I should have noticed a looooooooong time ago, but I didn't.

The Long Blue Line

The walk to the beach for years features a sidewalk that any tightrope walker could use for practice. Cars rushing along left the pedestrian jumping for his or her life. This winter they redesigned the sidewalk and added barricades, and I love the red and blue colours.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Correfoc ushers in summer

The flame had been brought down from the summit of Mt. Canigou to light the bonfire. The two, two-storey statues of St. Jean have circled the arena bowing and turning as they do. The 1000+ attendees of the Fête de St. Jean have been given a glass of Muscat and a biscuit all to mark the start of summer and celebrate the solstice, a gift to the attendees from the village.
Then it is the time for the Correfocs, a Catalan tradition, to arrive. Dressed as witches and devils, they are not evil, but sprites here to play with the people. And play they do. Some run and jump as they hold the fire pinwheels in their hands. Others dance with flame, while some shoot fireworks off their backs and heads. The youngest Correfoc can’t be much more than nine, and in watching them prepare I saw a gray hair or two.
The dragon enters the ring and as he does one of the pinwheels approaches and he too starts spouting fireworks from his wings, tail, nostrils and ears. He is a polite dragon, bowing to the crowds and gathering in their applause.
The air is gray with smoke until the last round of the fireworks is muted. The last flame is extinguished, the drums continue, the orchestra picks up the music and the crowds behind the barricades join the dancing.
Summer has begun.

I could not film it, but I did find two youtubes that show the Correfocs performing in Barcelona. It gives you perhaps 30% of the feeling of being there.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Correfoc photos

Dancing in the center of the crowd. Anywhere from 5 to 20 fire-runners are shooting fireworks off their bodies at all times during the 40-minute performance.

The drumming starts before the fire. It beats and beats and beats and will last at least 40 minutes. Here the costumed fire-runners (dancers) arrive in front of a wall of fireworks.

The fire-runners put on their headresses loaded with fireworks that will shoot from their heads as they dance. There is enough firepower to make it at least twice around the circle before they have to reload.

The dragon will be the centre of a dance and will circle and be circled by all of the fire-runners to the beat of the drums.

The fire-runners will pick up these windmills and circle the arena as they shoot the fireworks in a 20 foot radius. At least ten will be twirling to the beat of the drums. One macho man, wore only his fire pants leaving his chest exposed. Most have fireproof protection and wear scarves on their heads. When the final firework is extinguished the crowd joins the performers to dance to the beat of the drums.

Some of the Correfoc equipment. Dancers as they circle the group

Number 8 Who'd have thunk it?

DISCLAIMER : I have several British women friends and acquaintances who are intelligent, witty, clever, creative, warm-hearted, good conversationalists and none of them have ever done anything like described below.

I am on holiday half a day every day until next week when I go to Paris to be on holiday. I won’t be back in Argelès until mid August, so I decided to play tourist starting this morning with an early morning walk to the beach, a wade and about a half hour of gathering Vitamin D rays followed by a trip to the traiteur for my evening meal anchovies and roasted red peppers in olive oils and several olives. Before you make a face these aren’t like the anchovies in a can, but much more like miniscule filet de perch, sweet and delicate. I bought crispy chestnut flower bread to go with it.

My plans for the week also include only eating in restaurants for lunch (I ate at Cayou and their fixed menu was cold beet soup, rabbit and polenta garnished with a balsamic vinegar and basil dressing, and whipped white cheese and apricot sorbet with mint) but that came later and gets me away from the point of the story.

I am not a beach bum but at least seven times when I have gone over the last few years no matter where I place myself, I end up next to a British woman with a non-stop mouth. With my eyes closed, the sun warming my skin, the quiet babble of French voices and the waves lapping against the shore, I thought I was safe.


Number eight was about to happen.

Along comes a Brit with two toddlers and proceeds to go into minute description about how they all could have been there earlier if they hadn’t dawdled. Simon could have taken the red pail, he didn’t have to hunt for the orange. Phoebe had spent much too much time buttoning her blouse and her croissant was in the basket to finish before she could go into the water. I then listened to a lecture on sand castle building that would have done an obsessive compulsive architect proud. If the woman had time to breathe between instructions and comments, I couldn’t have given testimony to the fact. The children seemed immune. I am not even sure they had voices.

Over the years these run-on conversations have discussed how much the children really do like rosemary on the lamb chops even though she isn’t sure about the French quality of meat, how to open a biscuit box, although biscuits can’t be eaten for another five minutes complete with countdown and a ticking clock, the best way to hold a shovel, a lecture on broken shells, and a constant wondering “Where is your father, he’s always wandering off. I can’t stand it when he…” I resisted telling her why he might have escaped.

I don’t know if it is a class, gender, national, regional or combination thingie, because I do know British mums who hold give and take conversations with their children not 24-hour diatribes. Maybe the tourist office hands out tape recordings that these mothers are lip synching to. Maybe it is only been my bad luck that the few times I have been to the beach, the motor-mouth mom is trekked out to confound the Suissesse who speaks with an American accent. Whatever it is, chances are way out of the expected percentages.

On the other hand, as I listened, that it made me feel as I really was on holiday, and couldn’t help smiling.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Winning the lottery...

The Mediterranean glistened as if the stars at dawn decided not to fade away and descended to the top of the water to play from Argelès to Africa. As I lay on my beach towel, the sun leaching the cold winter from my bones, I thought of something someone said at Tim Russert’s service: He woke every day as if he had just won the lottery.

That was how I felt as I arranged this day, a trip to the beach to pick up a DVD and a chance to relax. My Geneva housemate and I were talking about our lives via email, happy that our respective children are all in various states of contentment with the things they are doing, our friends enrich us, we do so much that we love.

My big decisions today were

1. Whether to have a magret de canard brochette or a gambas brochette at Komodo, a restaurant next to the beach. The canard won, and it came with satay, aioli, Indian and yoghurt and chive sauces to dip. I ate under the canopy with the pine grove between me and the water.

2. Take a siesta or a shower first when I got home. The siesta won.

Now I am getting down to my writing, both my newsletter and novel, some of the words mapped out on the walk to the beach.

I feel as if I just won the lottery too, almost every day when I get out of bed, not the lottery that pays money, the lottery of living well and happily and loving everything around me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


My hands trembled as I called the Englewood, FL Sheriff’s office for the second time today. Since Saturday I had been trying to reach my mom. I wanted to ask about Connie’s funeral, talk about her hot water heater, mention Tim Russert’s death.

I called all hours. The answering machine wasn’t on. I thought she could be in the shower, at coffee hour, church, picking up the mail, asleep and can’t hear the phone. But not the number of times I called.

I tried to suppress the worry: did a blog, wrote on the novel, did the world round up section of my newsletter, went out and had conversation and espresso with Rosella the potter, made lunch, skyped with my kid.

And periodically I called my mom. I used voipcheap, I used the land line. Nothing.
Finally I asked the police to check.

They took down the normal information, asked about her car. I could tell them is was a blue convertible with the license plate 49T, a family tradition. They took my number but told me to call back.

I tried to think the best way to get to the States fast, Barcelona, Paris, Geneva. Where were their transportation strikes and blockades because of fuel prices? Where would it be best to go back to? Was Willie still running his service from Tampa to Englewood or should I crash at a hotel there and rent a car the next day when I wouldn’t be too tired to drive. In my daughter’s and my Skype I told her I wish she was here with me so she could share my pacing or make a cup of tea. Or I was there with her. She agreed. When I had first said how worried I was she thought having the police check was a good idea.

I did. They said she was fine. I had been pacing with the telephone. I fell onto the couch barely able to stand.

“She says she’ll be home all day.”

“Thank-you, thank-you,” I said to the girl on the phone. “I felt so helpless over here.”

“I know. I was in Australia when a hurricane hit Florida, and I couldn’t reach my parents. I was frantic.

Frantic was a good word.

I called my mom again. No answer. There is probably a problem with her phone, but she’s okay.

Polly put the kettle on--we'll all have tea

My lunch guests offered this electric tea kettle to my other guest, but she did not need it.

“I’ll take it,” I said.

When I was in Geneva, I had a wonderful translucent blue tea kettle that gave up just as I was moving. Colour wise it would have been wonderful in my kitchen.

Because of space I had been reluctant to buy a kettle, although I had considered it off and on. Since I almost am never in a store, I had not been tempted even in my non no buy years.

This morning I got up and filled the kettle. I had forgotten how satisfying that little click is when an electric kettle goes on and then when it goes off.

Certain tiny things of daily life give me conscious pleasure: the bluebirds on my china lined up because of the concentration of colour, sinking my hands into hot sudsy-sudsy dishwater on a cold day, closing out the dark with my quilt-lined curtains on a cold winter night—well you get the idea.

I think of all the British TV shows I’ve watched and books I’ve read and for almost any situation someone says, “I’ll put the kettle on” or maybe ‘I’ll put the kettle on’ if the book is published in the UK.

Now I can put the kettle on. So much better than a pan of water on the stove.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A poster to make me think

Having grown up watching my mother glued to the television set to watch Senator McCarthy save us from Communism, or counter spy Philbrick in the TV series, I lead Three Lives, having been expected to take a loyalty oath if I wanted to teach (I mouthed Twinkle, twinkle little star because we took the oath as a group and I knew it was meaningless), I don't know if I am amused or saddened when I see the legal French Communist Party put up posters asking people to rejoin for today and tomorrow.

I often wonder what the Communists could have accomplished if they weren't embroiled in the Cold War.

A former editor asked me if I were a Communist as we talked about co-operative principles. I am a democrat small d though and through. I am not a capitalist with its winner take all no matter what principles, if the word principle could be applied. More and more democracy seems to be confused with capitalism.

Co-operatives work far more democratically and involve people far more equally.

Oh Happy Days

When the residents of Villeneuve de la Raho in the 1200s carried stones and mixed mortar to build the Romanesque St. Julien chapel, even the most imaginative could not have foreseen a white gospel choir singing negro spirituals.

Mailbox series continued

God granted him an interview

11:30 Friday night, I did one last news check to learn Tim Russert had died. Were he in France I am sure the announcement would be Meet the Press to be broadcast from St. Peter’s office or the one in the title of this blog above.

He had been part of my Sundays (nights in Europe, mornings the few times I were in the States) and if I missed the broadcast, I would read the transcripts or pick up the videos on the internet.

The rest of the night I watched CNN talking about him. Although I felt like I knew him because of his mentions of Big Russ, his books, his “Go Bills” or his smile, I learned he was a lawyer and headed up the NBC news team, how many people had been the beneficiaries of his kindness that is beyond normal in this crazy world, how devout he was. That he never forgot his roots showed. Politicians said how deep he probed during an interview.

Wait a minute. What about all those Sundays I screamed at the TV to ask the next question (my daughter said if I kicked in the set, she would use my charge card to buy a giant plasma screen which saved the set), the transcripts I sent back to NBC with additional questions marked, knowing at least one person would see it.

I sent emails asking him to broaden the discourse. If the Cindy Sheehans, Robert Fisks, Robert Schreers, Howard Zinns, Taraq Alis, the winter soldiers, Jim Hightowers, and Scott Ritter s(to name a few) had been on as often as the Robert Doles (63 appearances), the social discourse of the United States might have widened beyond the narrow range we see.

Those politicians who thought he gave a hard interview obviously never faced Stephan Sacher or Tim Sebestian from the BBC.

Still, he was the closest thing the US had to a news interviewer (sorry Keith Olbermann, you do other broadcasts and please continue) who at least asked more than soft questions and a voice the US can ill afford to lose.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Are we ever too old?

Are we ever too old to play? I hope not.

I realised as I was preparing tea for a writer friend that it was like the tea parties I set out for my dolls, when I was a child. I loved doing it even though I spent more time playing
archaeologist, Greek gods and goddesses, detective and reporter than mommy. But I also loved setting up a table with dishes especially in my playhouse which had once been a tool shed for my grandfather’s garden. In setting up a homey space there was a corner to write in next to the window which looked out on fruit-laddened grape vines.

It was only after I started putting out the dishes and the tea set for my writer friend who is coming over and as I was taking pleasure in the pretty pastry box tied with yellow and orange-stripped ribbon, did I realise I was doing what I had done as a child.

Back then the tea would be Coke and pasties might be cupcakes either made by my grandmother or tiny little vanilla things frosted strawberry, coffee and chocolate and bought from the Cushman baker who came twice a week.

Now I will put out an apricot tart, a raspberry tart and a bit of chocolate indecency called a frou-frou not knowing what will tempt my friend.

My tea set is an antique rather than plastic of yesteryear. The conversation will certainly be of greater depth than when I was nine, but the pleasure of today was heightened by the remembered pleasures of my childhood.

And then there was one

My friend Yoly emailed me and messaged me, “Call Norma.” She does not have email and uses my friend as a conduit when she wants to get to me quickly.

My step mom wanted to tell me Connie had died, my father’s cousin. I had last seen Connie almost two Christmases ago when we ate dinner at a club together. As always she was elegant, interested in everything and full of laughter. Until recently she was active in visiting “old people” who can't get around, forgetting she was getting close to 90 herself. Suddenly, she started talking to her husband, who had been dead for a decade or two and that was followed by a physical decline. My mom kept me posted on her condition.

I wanted to hug my mom but my arms do not reach across the ocean. Instead I let her talk through yet another loss in a short period of time. I realised, but did not point out, she is the only one left of my father’s generation, a whole parcel of in-laws with whom they used to play cards, go on trips, spend long summer days on my dad's boat and share holidays and parties with. All of them took her to their hearts.

She also recently lost the man she had “kept company” with for 16 years after my dad died.
Worse, her daughter, my step-sister died a year ago -- loss after loss, until almost no one shares her memories.

I wish she had agreed to come to Switzerland to live with me, when I proposed it, but she wanted to stay where she was, something she had the right to do.

All I can do is hug her with my voice and let her know the next generation loves her to pieces.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

You don't need expensive toys to have fun

You do need imagination.

The four Arab kids, who live in the house across the street, are all on the street playing. The family does not have a lot of money, nor do the kids all under 11 have many toys.

They are also required to get good grades, be polite to neighbours and each other, etc. It is seldom I hear the mother yelling at them. The youngest is Downs Syndrome and the older three look out for her like she is a treasure.

The houses on each side of the street are almost in hand-shake distance so the street is their playground. When the houses were built in between 1400 and 1700 there weren't large cars to worry about. The kids are bilingual, Arabic and French and their English is improving. I doubt if they have any real understanding of the word deprived in any of the languages.

I imagine if you put all their gifts for their entire four lifetimes together it would not match one middle's class child's Christmas gifts.

Their latest game involves an old rug which is magic carpet and they sit on it and go places in the imaginations. The rug has also served as their own version of Twister, a bed when they play house, a table for picnics, etc.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Perceptions of writers

As a writer in Argelés like this piece of marble among ordinary stones in the wall, I sometimes stand out and I find it ever so strange.
Being a writer in Geneva is no big thing. A large number of people I hang out with are writers. I have lunch with them, spend time with their kids, eat at their houses, go to lunch with them, visit museums, go to film festivals, take writing classes, talk on Skype, exchange work. My non writing friends consider my writing as normal as any other profession.
I don't know how it started but in Argelés I am often treated as an almost celebrity. I can be in a café and some will try not to point and say in French or English, "that's the writer." I heard a new neighbour moved in and another neighbour said that the woman would love to meet me but was afraid it would be an intrusion because I was a writer. I received a phone call from a man I sometimes have morning tea with...he was paving the way for a friend who is just starting out to write but was afraid to approach me. I was chatting with one woman and she said in French "Elisabeth said you were a writer." Elisabeth is one of the green grocers.
I know France appreciates its writers. My favourite Saturday/Sunday morning program Thé ou Café interviews a wide variety of writers along with politicians, philosophers, dancers, artists and other people that add to the cultural level of France. Last weekend they interviewed the French philosopher/feminist/writer Elisabeth Badinter and the mystery writers Danielle Thierry and Mary Higgins Clark. My limited publication success does NOT put me in danger of being invited onto the program.
One of my favourite Canadian writers and acquaintances, Lauren B. Davies said when she was first published and made the Canadian best seller list, other writers either tore her down or sucked up to her. She was living in Paris at the time and that writing community is very different from the supportive one in Geneva.
Last week I was at the café and one of my French friends introduced me to her visitor also French. We chatted for a while, not about writing, just ordinary things. Later my friend told me her visitor remarked that I was so normal. I am not sure what she expected me to do...
The stangest part I never identified myself as a writer to people but in a small village you end up with descriptions: Rosella, the potter, Nathalie, the jeweller, Barbara, the book seller, Annie, the framer, although people don't point them out and say, "That's Rosella, the potter."
Not that I mind any of this, but I do find it strange. Being a writer, like any of the parts of living in Europe does not change the inner me, or for that matter being a writer does not negate having to wash the floor, take out the garbage, etc. My identity as a writer is personal, and people laughed when I said, I didn't feel like a REAL writer until I had the contract on my third book signed despite the amount of hours I spend at it. What is amusing that those who point me out as a writer, most have never or never will read my books.

Spices, soap and sponges

The marché today was my chance to load up on my Indian spices. The same vendor sold sponge and soap, although I buy my soap from the young woman who makes such unusually shapes. It is nice to know the manufacturer of your everyday products. The local strawberries were dark red and the flavour exploded in my mouth. The man who sold eggs only had petite. He said his hens were lazy this week. They were almost still warm from the nest.
The marché was full of people to café sit with, drink tea and catch up on the news.


This butterfly this morning decided to fly along side me on my morning walk, but needed a rest break or two...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Even before the crash I knew the vase was a gonner…I had caught it with my sleeve and nothing ceramic that hits a tile floor has a chance of survival. As I picked up the shards, I was picking up my history.

I saw the vase in the small, multi-framed window of Weston’s Greenhouse in Reading. We went to the weathered shingled florist’s building whenever we bought flowers for the family grave, as gifts or plants for the house.

I loved its egg shape with the ragged, guilt-edge, and the design that was atypical for New England in the 1950s. I wanted to give it to my mother.

To pay for it I saved up my milk money, which was not a sacrifice. Milk was delivered to the school each morning in eight-ounce glass bottles. A small paper lid with a lip sealed in the milk. Now before anyone thinks, what a sacrifice, I should say despite putting ice on the milk bottles in the hall between the first and second grade classrooms didn't keep it cold or even cool. By the time we had to drink the milk it was warm and even more repulsive than if it were cold. If I had either a chocolate swirl cookie or wafer rectangle cookie, I could choke down some of the milk. In saving my milk money, I never went without the cookies.

My mother loved the vase and saved it even when we had our troublesome moments. After she died I reclaimed it and took it first to Switzerland then to Argelés where it rested in a place of honour. Each morning it was one of the first things I saw.

I swept up the vase and was about to throw it out. Instead I put it in a bag. Maybe someday I will be able to find someone to restore it. Or maybe Joseph and Rosella could recreate, which might not be the same. Maybe not but I am not ready to part with it.

Voting with my pocketbook

It is no secret that I love the co-operative model for business. Credit unions are better than banks, etc. The most productive region in Europe with the least social unrest and the least variation between rich and poor is Emiglia. There are some 8000 co-operatives and two out of three people work for a co-operative. If I have a choice between doing business with a co-op or a capitalistic company, I’ll choose the co-op, because whether we admit it or not, every centime/cent/pence we spend is a political statement.
These photos are from our local wine co-operative, but I’ll buy their wine mainly because I love the paintings on the building…A regular old warehouse can be turned into something beautiful, which is just one more reason to vote with my pocketbook.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Morning walk I

Although the Tramantane was still blowing and the temperature was still in the mid-teens, I sat out for a good walk. As I came back into the village, I was surrounded by bikers of all ages ready to do a 12 or 30 kilometre ride. Even three of my Brit friends were participating, pleased that this was a good step in integration. Like so many of the couples who have a secondary home, one wants to be here all the time, one wants only to visit. I think this is a variation that it is a rule with couples that a minimalist marries pack rat, etc.

Morning walk II

The artwork may not be of museum quality, but the expression on the dog makes me smile everytime I walk by this old stable in the heart of the old town. The stable is now deserted and isn't even used as a garage.

Morning walk III

Few dryers exist in homes in the old town partially for space reasons. Laundry is hung out side from windows and sometimes I feel as if I am going through a laundry tunnel as I walk down the narrow streets. Still it is good for the environment. However, that wasn't why I snapped this picture. The laundry looked so delicate drying inside against the vibrant colours of the house and sky, that I had to capture it. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Morning walk IV

No one would guess that this was a grocery store where I stopped to buy dry onion soup mix. I am having neighbours in for an apero tonight and although everyone in the 50s, 6os, 70, 80s and maybe nineties in the US served onion soup mix and sour cream as a dip, I have discovered here people oh and ah and think how clever I am. What information I don't share causes no one any trouble.
The store is running an Indiana Jones contest.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Joys of TV

I don't watch TV in Geneva. I do in Argelès. My television service changed, and I lost BBC Prime, but then they recycle so many programs, it may not be a great loss, but I do miss the antique show.
HOWEVER, I got Channel Jimmy back, which I haven't had since 1992. It shows a number of good series. AND I get a sport channel that will show the Celtics and Lakers games. I don't care how long I've been out of Boston, I will always have a warm spot in my heart for the Celtics and remember sitting at one Lakers and Celtics championship game so close to Larry Bird I could see his sweat.

The local cherries are in

And I leave them on the table to nibble. Usually when I buy cherries at this time of year I am in summer frocks or light weight slacks, not sweater(s), jeans and socks. The temperature shows 18° with the Tramantane slapping my giant-sized towel dry on the laundry line. They say it is 30° in Sweden. Did the world turn upside down when I wasn't looking? I will eat another cherry and think about it.

Jazz at dusk

I call it a religious road, one car width and no shoulder and a plunge off the edge of the mountain.
Even as a pagan, even with a good driver behind the wheel, I pray, but it was worth it to hear the local musicians and the jazz singer from New Orleans perform at this tiny bar/restaurant. To the right were the rugged Pyrenees, greener than I have ever seen them. Behind the band was the Mediterranean and the village of Collioure.

Although only about 80 people, we knew several, including K., a thalomide baby, beautiful and flamboyant with her red curls and rust skirt and shawl. She has just finished producing her first short film. In between sets we chatted and sipped wine and nibbled on eggplant Catalan and a chickpea salad.

The singer's two little boys, 5 and 7 did what little boys do, ran, hopped, rolled, jumped and pushed but not enough to disturb their mother's performance. Being still just wasn't in their skill sets.

We will go back, but not for the next two weeks. The singer has nodules on her vocal cords and she must balance her time during the season before undergoing surgery.

The musicians instruments wait the end of their break in a jazz at dusk evening.

Forty years ago...

on an the anniversary of Chaucer's birth my daughter was conceived. Almost in the middle the phone rang and it was my best friend since high school. "I'll call you back, we're making a baby," I said. And what a baby we made.

Forty years ago today I feel back asleep after the clock radio alarm went off and I had a nightmare that Bobby Kennedy was shot. When I woke the nightmare continued. I thought about using the Clergy Council to go to Canada to get an abortion rather than bring a child into the world that shot great men like King and Kennedy while we fought a cruel war in Vietnam. I didn't believe the world get worse.

Today, I know it could get worse, much worse.

As for the abortion, I didn't go and I am grateful that the thought passed, for raising that child into womanhood was the most frutiful experience of my life. I say, it is not the thing I did best, but it is the best thing I did.

The politics around us have gone up and down and now down, down, down, down...but as for my daughter...she had had forty years of being make that adored, painful experiences and joyous ones. She has won some of her battles and lost some. We have had many more days where we've been in agreement then in disagreement. In other words she has had a life, and I hope she doubles her years, something that Kennedy and King did not get a chance to do.

I am grateful I didn't get that abortion, because not only did I get the opportunity to raise a wonderful daughter, I learned that there is a difference in the tragedy of the world around and the love of people close.

I am still learning things from my daughter, but she began teaching me in the womb, forty years ago today.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A good enough reason

This is up there for no other reason then I was walking home enjoying the sun, something that has been such a rarity the brightness almost has to be defined, and I just was struck by the beauty of the colours of the houses and flowers.


"Be careful," the old man said as I stepped into the street to take the photo of the painting of the Catalan dancer drinking his muscat. The painting had just been repainted as it had several times in the twenty odd years I've walked by it on my way to the beach. The latest date was 2006 and was signed as always, Emile
The old man could have been a stereotype for a photo of French peasant, blue work pants, plaid shirt, suspenders and beret.
"Do you like it?" he asked.
"I do," I said.
"I'm Emile. I paint it. I like to watch the tourists stop and take pictures of it."
On the way back from the beach, he was still there, talking to other old man, all dressed the same and sharing his bench.
As I walked by he winked at me.

There's a Syrian on my Roof

“There’s a Syrian on my roof,” I said to my girlfriend who wondered why I was late.
“And you can’t get him down?”
I knew the old joke about the man who left his cat with his brother and when he called to check on the feline, he was told, “The cat died.”
“That’s a terrible way to tell me,” the man complained.
“Well how should I do it?” the bad cat sitter asked.
“Well when I called, tell me that cat is on the roof and you are having trouble getting her down. Then tell me she fell, and then in a couple of days tell me the vet couldn’t save her. By the way, how is mother?”
“Mother is on the roof and we can’t get her down.”
Actually the Syrian was adjusting my satellite. He was amazed to discover that I loved his country, could say a few words of Arabic. We chatted about my experiences until he was almost misty-eyed.
I no longer have BBC Prime but I do have Sky News, one more new channel without losing AlJazerra in English, BBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg, and CNN. France 24 is only in French, but that’s not a problem and I still have the French equivalent to C-span.
Oh, and we did get the Syrian down off my roof and safely on his way to Toulouse.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Music in the air

Imagine running out to buy corriander before the stores close for the noon break and running into toe tapping gypsy music. The group clowned for the camera, but this was the best of the lot.

Why I love France

Fish are still coming in, but with the fishermen irregularly blocking the ports to protest high fuel prices, which are running about $9 gallon, one is never sure what will be available.
The French strike if someone is thinking about thinking about considering maybe thinking about one of their rights might be taken away. I suspect even Sarkozy has a dream about reducing a right, a strike will be organized.
Perhaps if more Americans protested that they didn't have health care (the BBC did a program on a Brit that is bringing free medical aid into the poor in the South..American is getting foreign aid from Brits and Chavez) and the destruction of the Constitution, the country would be in better shape. Habeas Corpus might even be restored.
As for oil prices, sadly, we all need to stop driving as much as we do, buy only the most fuel efficient cars possible and demand public transportation, use bikes and walk. I still consider every time a car is turned, the planet dies just a bit more and yes, I do participate in planet killing.
Meanwhile, on the 40th anniversary of May 1968 the spirit of saying no to policies that hurt the people is alive and well and my local fishmonger still has fish to sell and give a way a recipe or two along with local gossip

Monday, June 02, 2008

Planning meals

Years ago when I worked with Polaroid our Secretary Nancy who was pregnant and the other girls would start talking about what we were having for lunch at dinner over morning coffee. I often think about my meals while still in bed between reading and getting up: I also plan what to wear and the days activities, all which can be modified as needed. On today's menu:
The last of the raspberry/cinanmon/oatmeal/linseed pancakes and melon. A bowl of tea
Gaspacho made with tomatoes, carrots, celeric, pepper, cukes, corriander (if it stays rainy and cold I will add beans and macaroni and call it minestrone)
Artichoke and sweat potato
Banana, figs
Everything except the bananas is locally grown. Scarlett O'Hara I'll think about it tomorrow.


Because it still isn't tourist season, most of the stores are closed all day Monday, but one of the green grocers is open, enough to buy the makings of a taco salad, guacamole and tomorrow gaspacho. There's also local melon, figs and peaches for desserts. Half way through unloading my cloth bag, I realised that the bowl just looked pretty. And I am also looking forward to the sweet potato and artichoke dipped in vingerette...
If I ever stop enjoy these simple pleasures, please someone kick me.

The prettiest street in the village

It is not me who says my nest is on the prettiest street in the village, but I hear it from passers by as well. Especially now when all the flowers are in bloom, it is a delight. This view is from my window. Too bad I don't know how to get rid of the wires, but then again isn't it better to concentrate on the flowers? The photo is far prettier if you click on it to enlarge it.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Another Sunday Another Vote

I love my new country. We just had a new votation and the UDC, the far right party wanted to make getting a passport harder. As it is people have to live here 12 years, speak at least one of the four official languages and be integrated. Filling out a mortgage application is less detailed and there are interviews as well. It took me three years, eight months and three days after filing to take my oath.

The UDC wanted to restore secret ballots at the commune level with no appeals, processes that were ruled illegal by the Supreme Court several years back. The poster makes it clear they are worried about the black hands. The motion was defeated.
The sheep poster was an earlier attempt by the UDC to kick out certain individuals usually with dark skin. It gave rise to a number of other posters including a black and white sheep kissing and a series of sheep all with different wool, plaid, stripped, flowered.
At least my countrymen and women had the good sense not to give into xenophobic racism. It helps we have about seven major parties and a number of smaller ones varying from far left to far right.
They also voted down a new health care plan that would give more power to the insurance companies. My American side screamed NO NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO, although I was only allowed to vote once.
The right to vote on issues that make a difference in our lives is one of the things that make the proudest about being a Swiss.

Really? June is today?

I am sitting at my computer in jeans and sweatshirt. The red tiles of the roof across the street are glistening. If I shut off the strains of the song Le Temps des Cathedrales from the CD Player, I can hear the rain on my own red tiles. It can patter, tap dance, pound. When it pounds it slathers my windows on each side of my desk and slithers down my skylight.
Yesterday, I spent the morning at La Noisette sitting in the sun with different friends. I had gone out to buy two apples. Although the distance is less than three city blocks I was gone three hours thanks to conversations and the joy of café sitting, but even then I was content to wear a sweater.
The summer clothes I took to Geneva last week stayed in my suitcase.
It feels like March. Still, it is lovely to be in my nest, writing, eating my raspberry/cinnamon/oatmeal pancakes, writing, listening to music and just revelling in the day seasonal or not.