Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Communication Centrale Upgrade

Getting the old whiteboard off the frigo wall was a challenge, but with solvent and prying it made room for the new whiteboard, which has become the new communication centre of the household.
The normal, “so and so called” are on there, but so are drawings, feelings, jokes, explanations and anything else anyone might imagine.
The new board is bigger and ready to serve its low-tech purpose in this high-tech house where all residents are apt to be on their own computers anywhere the wifi signal reaches. The new whiteboard serves to inform, to amuse and to share beyond mere words.
I may even have to check for multi colour markers despite my no-buy year. That would make one purchase for July…and I could leave rainbow messages on the whiteboard to my housemates.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Grapes ripening on the vine

Just like it takes many grapes to make a good wine, it took many people to turn me into the person I am today, not that I am comparing myself to a rich Bordeaux or a Châteauneuf du Pape, although if I were a wine, because of my hair colour I would be red. More likely I am a regular gamay or côte de rhone.
While walking through the lush countryside this morning, I stared thinking about all the people who had great influence on me emotionally, intellectually, professionally. (click on the photo to see the grapes)
Here’s my list:

Florence Stockbridge Sargent (grandmother)
From The Women in My Life Published in The Circle Continues
No one, least of all me, knows why I called my grandmother “Dar,” but soon
the world followed, even her friends from childhood.
She never minded being renamed in her fifties.
When she baked a cake, she used all the batter,
but gave me the spoon to lick.
She read me The Bobbsey Twins and made mudpies that looked good enough to eat.
A high school drop out she prodded me through algebra, tested my Latin verbs,
knew more history than the substitute teacher.
She was a New England Yankee:
right was right,
wrong was wrong.
When she had eye surgery, she didn’t tell the doctor
The anesthesia hadn’t worked,
Thinking it should hurt.
And when she lost two children, she bore that hurt too.
My ethics and strength come from her, and when I am scared or not sure what to do I draw her memory to me.

Dr. Helen Zimmermann (teacher)
For three years I sat in her biology, chemistry and anatomy class and although I don’t remember her teaching when I got to college biology I aced the course without studying. Somewhere in between the stories she magically imparted knowledge. She spoke of saving the environment and over population before it was ever thought of. At some level I picked up that it was okay to go your own way and to become the best you can to be.
I toyed with being a nurse, but the pull of working with words was too strong along with the fact that I couldn’t clean up cat vomit without getting sick myself.

Leonard D’Orlando (teacher)
Besides increasing my already existing love of reading, he taught be critical analysis skills. “Nothing is black or white, only shades of grey,” and that I had better know why something was good or bad.

Fred Cole (editor)
He was my first editor when I wrote for the Lawrence Daily Eagle at 16. He was a Spencer Tracey wantabe, with a growl and a gold medal grumph. He also defended me. I had taken a photo of the doctor who was to do the annual Paul Revere ride. The doctor than phoned the paper complaining of being too busy to show up for a kid with a Brownie camera. When the photo appeared front page, the doctor wanted a copy. Fred carefully put it in an envelope, addressed it, put a stamp on it and mailed it—in the waste paper basket. He taught me how to write a news story.

Mardy Willson (friend)
This year we will celebrate 50 years of friendship without an angry word, brought together by a boy who dated both of us. We decided we liked each other better than him. Wherever he may be we are grateful.
We shared so much.
From her I learned to laugh more, but as we bungled our way through life the biggest lesson I learned from her was that as we made our mistakes and often didn’t agree with the actions the other took, that was opinion NEVER judgment of the person making them.
I’ve said that she held the glue pot as I pieced myself together after my divorce.
Her father stood in for my father whenever necessary, her mother’s corn chowder was the WASP answer to Jewish chicken soup, and one of my greatest joys now is her happiness.

Si Gardner (friend)
My marriage would not have survived our tour of duty in Germany had it not been for Si. My ex I were too immature and not able to communicate. I’d imagined an intellectual life, him as musician me as writer, loving and laughing—he pictured a wife who cooked and cleaned and my ineptness stood out from the time I sewed on his new won stripes on his Army uniform upside down. It should have been funny, but it was a crisis followed by many others. Si used to inspect my flat to make sure it was clean enough to satisfy my ex, (okay it was pre feminist days) warn me of bad days at the base. But in our friendship, he taught me more of the world, than growing up in a sheltered New England environment ever could have.

Dr. Patricia Goler (history teacher)
She was a lame, skinny African-American who took over a substitute class and lectured for an hour without a note or a pause. She ran a program every Christmas where students bought presents for a poor family. Even though most of us were struggling financially, she taught it was important to share what we have.
Her intellectual rigour set a standard. If nothing else, she taught me to consider the source, which is probably what makes me such a sceptic and news junkie today. It is her training that led me to search out the news from non-American sources before coming to a conclusion.

Dr. Ralph Golding (psychologist)
Okay, I’ve been shrunk. I had failed at two marriages. Of the second I say I divorced a dead man I was never married to in the first place. I realised I needed to get my life under control.
Ralph’s method was not to go into toilet training but more pragmatic, almost a Neuro-Linguistic Programming. That was yesterday, what did you do about before, what would you do the same or differently… Mostly he taught me it was okay to be myself, for if I pretended to be someone else for acceptance, it was the fake person, not the real one that was accepted.

Walter Masson (professional father)
He was quiet, loved gardening, never understood why I wanted a career rather than to be a wife and mother, but as long as I did he would teach me everything he knew, and he did. But his method of teaching was to let me experiment myself. Once he had been in charge of the Sears Roebuck catalogue. When I went to work for him, I had no idea of office politics, and in between testing lists and headlines, I learned to manoeuvre my way through the quagmire of the organization. And he taught me how to do it without sacrificing my ethics.

Mike Welch (professional, friend)
We started writing when a conference his organization was running that I wanted to attend was in state that hadn’t ratified the ERA. I complained and still went and am glad I did. It began a long association. When his career changed, I wrote for his paper, something I considered an honour to be able to do, and when I was developing his suggestions were invaluable. His slogan “CU Executives Too Busy to Read Read CU Newswire” is on all our printed materials. His comment my headlines could be better is right on, and is still my weak point, but I every now and then I think, “Mike would like this,” although more often, “he would say I could do better.”
We exchange ideas on subjects too numerous to mention, but he has only reinforced my belief you can lead an ethical life and be successful.

Llara (daughter, friend)
Usually we think the parent teaches the child, but the child also teaches the parent. When she was born I was armed with lessons from Haim Ginnott and Kahil Gibran’s
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Those words I put up on her nursery wall and have tried, not always successfully to practice them.
I thought I was giving her the stable two-parent home, I didn’t have. WRONG.
Within weeks of her birth my marriage had ended making normal post partum depression seem like a trip to Disneyland.
Somehow Dar’s force fought its way through my pain, and gave me strength. But Llara helped reawaken the joy I once felt and learned I could feel again.
It might be as simple as looking at toads on our tour of the neighbourhood. The toads fascinated her, and it was required stop, even before she could talk. She would sit and stare at them and I would see things I never saw before. Those toads are a symbol for all the things I have seen through her eyes that I never would have seen had she not come into her life.
Because she existed I had to work harder at being a better person.
Now that she is an adult, a separate person, a person who must live her life with her choices, she still teaches me things.
Of course there are many, many others to have been part of my life that have influenced me, an entire vineyard, enough to provide wine for the rest of my life.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What I want to conquer in my 66th year

Today's my birthday and here's what I want to see:
I want to sell Triple Deckers or one of my other unpublished novels.
I want my novel Running from the Puppet Master to have good sales.
I want to tame E. Sophie Gus
I want to see Habeas Corpus Restored
I want to build even further
I want the war to end.
I want to learn how to animate my avatar. This is how she should be moving but suspect my avatar has a lazy streak.
and at the risk of sounding like all Miss America contestants I want world peace.
Now I'm armed and ready to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Greatest Gift

I once dated a lovely man, who believed that gifts should be expensive, ususally gold jewelry. He was always baffled when I got so excited about some of the gifts my daughter gave me: hard to get Oreo cookies, a Larry Bird T-shirt, penguin salt and pepper shakers and other things of that ilk. Of course I thanked my friend, but the difference was my daughter gave me something that was special to me and to my interests and price tag had nothing to do with it.
Thus for my birthday, my housemate produced WONDERFUL gifts: crackers, spaghetti, cookies.
And why were they so wonderful?
As part of my diet to keep E. Sophie Gus happy anything with gluten is a no-no and all these wonderful gifts are gluten free. I can enjoy my pasta, spread peanut butter on something that crunches and have a sweet nibbly bisquit with my afternoon tea break.
In this case it is more than the thought that counts, it is the reality of the thoughtfulness.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

For some great photos

The sunflowers at the top are just a short walk from where I live, I love the dog and hampster, together, etc.

The joke goes like this...

You know you’ve been in Switzerland too long when you think it is normal to only have one brand of items in the supermarket. It’s true. You buy Coke at Co-op and Pepsi at Migros.

When I discovered a copy of the Xenophobe’s Guide to the Swiss, written by a naturalized Brit, Paul Bilton, I realised that what I once I took as different is now normal.

No, you don’t shower after 10 p.m. if you live in an apartment building, everyone has a bomb shelter in their basement, yes you greet everyone when you enter a gathering or office and again when you leave at the end, you meet everyone’s eyes as you toast no matter how many are at the table. I know about “rubbish tourism” where citizens of a community without paid marked disposable garbage bags necessary for pick up, will drive their garbage to a nearby community.

His examples were given as an explanation and with fond humour. I appreciated his comment about the buses being so on-time that if they are two minutes later, people check the time schedule.

My Swiss friends think I am very American, my international friends sometimes chide me for becoming too Swiss, whatever that is. However, after living in four countries, I find I’m at home many places while being an outsider at the same time.

As I was thinking about the book waiting for the 14:02 bus, the clock said 14:03. For a minute I fought the temptation to stand up and check the schedule, then gave in as the bus came around the corner.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Creativity Strike Geneva

As much as I love Switzerland and am really proud that it is my country, I have never thought of it as a creative place. It is, overall a society, that does not encourages individuals to stand out. Thus when I see something like how they have painted all the public electricity boxes with original works showing scenes from the neighbourhoods where they stand, I am thrilled. A red passport does not make me want to suppress my own creativity either, but somehow in this country, I was able to find my voice as a writer.


Lush summer

I think of summer as a short season, mainly July and August with autumn being September, October and November, winter as December, January, February and some of March, and spring filling in the rest. Although autumn is my favourite season, there is something about the lushness of a Geneva summer. It was a good thing I took the summer wheat field last week, because today only stalks remain. The good part has all been taken away to be made into bread and other good things.
As for the cornfields, it is still not as high as an elephant's eye but doing its parts to feed the cows come winter. Corn for humans is still relatively new here and nothing, I repeat nothing tastes like corn that is picked in New England as the water is boiling. Add a beefsteak tomato that never hit a grocery store and it is the perfect summer.
The temperature is perfect and all the colours at this lush time of the year look like diamonds have been added. Or as the title of the blog says, lush...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Have a chocolate

"Have a chocolate," my GYN said. It was my first time in his office. I used to see him at the permanence, 24-hour low-equipped emergency rooms, where doctors also see regular patients. He is a Serbo-Croatian.
Only after offering the second chocolate did he ask about my latest diabetes check, and I teased him about the order, half in revenge for his lecture on the length of time from my last visit.
I also told him about my problems with E.Sophie Gus, and asked if he knew of a good nutritionist.
"Wait here," he said. A few minutes he returned with another doctor somewhere in his late 30s.
The new doctor delayed lunch to talk to me.
I am constantly amazed how many times I find what I need by accident.
I am in love.
This is a doctor who knows how corrupt the FDA is, how modern medicine often creates more problems, wants to make sure you have the right balance of minerals in your system, and will prescribe a medicine only after natural remedies are exhausted and then he has read the studies on what he prescribes.
Most doctors can not answer three simple questions about a medicine:
1. What were the results of the studies done?
2. Who paid for the studies?
3. What were the parameters.
He can and then can weigh the risks against the advantages.
He examined me and told me pretty close to percentages exactly what my diet was. How? muscle tone, hair, skin, etc.
He then gave me a diet to follow, not unlike the one I had read would be good for my problem, but more precise: red meat (yuck), fish, lots of vegetables, brown rice, fruits with the exception of melons and oranges. No vinegar, alcohol, grains, bread, pizza, etc. There goes my eggplant and basil pizza.
He has a regular M.D. and is a licensed internist, but he also has a speciality in quality of life for the aging (aren't we all), and natural medicine.
He said if we can keep Sophie happy, we might even get rid of my blood pressure medicine later on, since that could well be contributing to my esophagus problems.
He needs a mineral reading, wants to see my last blood work up, and will see me after I have been on the diet for a month or so.
As I said, I am in love, even if he didn't give me a chocolate.

Today in Switzerland...

It was announced that 74,500 babies were born last year, less than the replacement number but good for world population.

They are still not sure if the UDC (far right party) referendrum that would prohibit the construction of minarets can go on the ballot because of international law. There are three in Switzerland for about 300,000 Muslims, a minority in a country of seven million.

Also on the referendrum will be a vote to ban all 4x4 vehicles. I still haven't seen the wording, but I am told that the legislature will have some freedom in selecting how it is implemented. I would love to see, and it is not impossible to imagine that it will happen, only cars with mileage of 30 m.p.g. or more allowed to be sold. Switzerland is considered one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the industrialized world. I saw the study, but didn't see who put it out.

In Canton Vaud there will be a vote on establishing a minimum wage of 3500 CHF per month. The CHF and $ are almost equal these days. That would mean the lowest salary anyone could earn would be $42,000. And many companies give 13 months salary with the final payment at the end of the year.

Whether the referendums pass or not is not as important as having a democracy where we can vote on these things.

A perfect summer day

(Click on the photos for a better view.)My baked bean and cassoulet friend took me out to lunch as an early birthday celebration. Since we had only emailed for the past few months, we had lots catch up on. The bird decided to sample my left over rasperry tart, but added nothing to our conversation.
We left the restaurant, which is part of a park with a château, walking trails, a diplomatic school, and a sense of peace for a good walk.

The trails through the park have a view of the lake with sail boats, the mountains and clouds. They lead through forests and it is easy to forget how close a major city is. I used to bring my boys (Amadeus and Mika) here, although Mika would get tired and lift his paws and asked to be carried. As my bb/c friend and I sat on a bench, a man came by with his chubby Cavalier King Charles. We chatted. He had spent almost a quarter of a century in Japan and is now retired. As we chatted about life lived in different countries, the dog tried to stare him down, not wanting him to share his attention with anyone but her. He did not know that his breed of dog was developed by Charles II of England from two Japanese chins (Amadeus and Mika) after the Emperor of Japan gave chins to the king. He told of a woman living near the park who had two chins and was amazed when he could identify them.
The days where the so many things converge, temperature, sun, view, food, conversation and time, are rare indeed, but today was one of them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A crazy dream...

I’ve always had very vivid, detailed dreams. My ex-husband used to love to hear me tell them when we both awoke, or often when I woke him because I was talking in my sleep. I guess he saw it as a mini advantage of being disturbed.

Not that the dreams happen every night, but this morning when I woke from a dream, it seemed so real that I still felt I was in the crowd near the bridge and it was only the noises in the house that brought me back to reality.

I do hope by blogging it, no one I know will want to commit me.

I was walking with a woman I had lunch with earlier in the week. Her children were not yet born but my daughter was about nine and was bouncing around in a cow girl outfit. Yet my walking partner and I were both the ages we are now. It was cool enough that we needed our jeans jackets over light sweaters, and although it was early fall, all the trees and bushes were a rich almost sparkly green.

We picked up a turtle, the small green back kind which were sold in Woolworth’s when I was a child yet I noted it didn’t have the red floral decal that was often stuck on the backs of the turtles by the store. We examined its underside (which was a beige-yellow) thoroughly while we worried that we must be gentle because we did not want to emotionally upset the turtle. When we put it down it scuttled at a pace no turtle had ever managed toward a hedge, but we were able to just retrieve it before it disappeared and put it back in the house where the turtle lived.

We continued on our walk and came to a walkway over a short stretch of water. It was made of white planks about eight inches wide and six feet long and a wooden fence that had two rows of brown wood (2x4s) to keep people from falling into the water. On the other side was a dark tan two-storey building with a pointed roof and dark doors.

“Let’s walk across to England,” my friend said so we did and came right back. It took only about five minutes. We were so excited we could walk to England.

When we got back I pulled out my camera. “Take a picture of me for my blog,” I said. In only wanted my back showing, and she kept moving my feet so they would be in certain places and look as if she caught me in the act of walking. I wanted to make sure she got the building on the other side. When I looked down through the slats, I saw white cattle mulling around at the water’s edge. Looking down made me uncomfortable.

Two small boys ran by pell mell and jumped off the bridge as if they were doing an Olympian long jump and I envied their agility.

“I’m sorry,” my friend said handing me back the camera. Although I was almost alone on the bridge when the photo was taken, it was full of people, banners and balloons, and it was hard to make out where I was.

“It’s okay,” I said. I didn’t want to feel bad and after I thought about it I realised the colour would much better on the blog than the picture taken which I told her.

My daughter bounced up to us. “Do you want to walk to England?” I asked.

No, she didn’t. I accepted her decision, although I felt she was missing out on something that few people got a chance to do.

(Since I only dreamed the photo, alas, I will not be able to post it with this blog.)

O beautiful

for spacious skies
for amber waves of grain

for purple mountains majesties
above the fruited plane

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hanging out

I spent this sometimes rainy and non-summerlike July weekend with former neighbours on the other side of the lake.

We watched a couple of movies, an unbelievable film on the HD screen about insects (see photo), ate well, caught up on our creative activities, friends and daughters. Theirs was about to land in her home country and everyone breathed a collective sigh when the sms came in “landed” from her. When my own daughter flies although she is about to leave her 30s, I am mentally in the cockpit with the pilot making sure he keeps his mind on his job, and I was willing to mentally help the pilot land with this teenager as a passenger.
I remember their daughter from the time when we wondered if her two top teeth would ever replace her baby ones. Many a times we made cookies in my flat. Hollowing out a jack o'lantern she chose that we would make a two-faced pumpkin. with a happy and a sad face rather than decide on one. She would invite her friends in to see my penguin collection. Many nights we would watch The Missing Link with the "mean teacher" and vote of the contestants ourselves. One of my favourite memories was when she and her friend appeared on a Sunday morning and we “shot” each other with rainbows from my grandmother’s prism. I am told she is now taller than her mother, having experienced another growth spurt since I saw her a couple of months ago.

Her parents are also the source of good memories, nice discussions and sharing. A lazy Sunday morning, a good breakfast and I read as they did a chore or two, more chatting.

Not that we did anything special, but that is what made it very, very special.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Great Ticket Safari

We had the tickets for the Celine Dion concert for over a year and had talked about it as a future highlight in a long summer of planned highlights. Thus when my housemate said she couldn't find the tickets, I wasn't worried. She is one of the most organized people I know. Afterall, the worse that could happen was that we would miss the concert, although disappointing compared to the vote on the telecoms immunity bill, the lack of habeas corpus, the growing threats against Iran, is nothing. Then began a search of all the obvious places, unobvious, a cruise through old emails to see if there were a clue (none but some nice exchanges revisited).

I went back to working on my newsletter when she called upstairs telling me she contacted the ticket company and they were sending an email giving us entry. She then went to pick up someone at the airport as pre-arranged.

When she called to say the plane was delayed two hours she asked me to check her email. No email from the ticket company.

I then called worked my way through the long German message of if you want this press that etc. to get to French and a human who said she would send another email. Lunch, a shower, some writing and the email was there.

We printed it out, hoping it would be accepted at the entrance. It was without question making us realise that if were cheating people we could duplicate the procedure for any concert, but we won't.

Had I been the one to order the tickets, I would have kept the tickets and none of the paperwork that had the order and seat numbers on the confirming fax that allowed my well-organized housemate to solve the problem.

And the tickets? I am sure they will turn up. Or there's the possibility that with so many people in and out of the house they got caught up and thrown away. It doesn't matter. The concert was great.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Smile

A smile was almost the normal expression on the waiter’s face as he bustled around the Le Train Bleu Brasserie at Gare du Lyon. It flowed from his chin to his forehead and he appeared to be unable to stop it. Except for his smile, his face was quite ordinary, neither good or bad looking. He switched easily from French to English to Spanish to German depending on the accent of his clients, but always with that smile.

Because I was having a big meal with my returning housemate that night, I only ordered an entrée rather than the main course, asparagus wrapped in salmon with a poached egg enough to tide me over on the Paris-Geneve TGV ride.

I was seated in my favourite spot near the painting of the station in the early 1900s filled with people saying good-bye including a mother bending over to kiss her young son. Baskets and suitcases were scattered among the passengers.

When the waiter helped a woman into her seat next to me by moving out a table, I ordered a tea, which would kill the required time to board the train. However, the words on the plastic covering of the tea bag saying, “OPEN HERE” lied. I manipulated, I bit, I twisted. Nothing. The woman at the next table tried. She could not do it. Good grief, I didn’t think I was that old and feeble.

The waiter came to the rescue.

“Couldn’t you have struggled a bit?” I asked.

He did a good acting job tearing the rest of the covering with difficulty.

When he brought the check, he’d written on the back in English: “Thank you, have a nice day, Eric” the only time that has happened in the dozens and dozens of times I have eaten there.
Eric should go far in life.

A working class town

Puteaux, where my girlfriend lives, is a working class town with a large Arab population and a right woman mayor. It is also low crime, many of the Arabs own butcher and vegetable shops, the orientals own restaurants and the second generation of immigrants seem to have the internet cafés. Perhaps it is so low crime because there is so much effort made to beautify it and to fill it with activities such as free concerts, welcome dinners to new comers, celebrations of different faith holidays. The is the town hall.
Of course, there is politics. During the marché they were gathering signatures against the new Lisbon treaty. The French do not take any of their liberties casually and fight even the thought that maybe, just maybe, on the off chance someone is considering thinking about reducing their rights and benefits. This may be why they have such excellent health care and child care.

The old lamp posts in themselves are beautiful carved iron with decorative lamp shades but that is not enough. Flower baskets are hung on them as well.

And although the normal blue signs are on the corners of the buildings, decorative street signs are in the shopping area.

Even the school menus that are posted are decorative. Last year the school system featured different national cuisines.

This the newest in a series of playgrounds scattered around the town. Children and parents fill them during good weather and sometimes not so good weather.

The green and red walk and don't walk men peek throught the flowers in one of the many, many bakeries.

My Paris

I don't like the traditional shots of Paris. And although seeing the Camille Claudel exhibition and revisiting my favourites works of hers like La Vague and the Gossips, is wonderful, it is the side streets, the flower boxes, the iron works, a carving in an unusual place, that makes Paris magic for me. A view of Paris from the roof top of a friend's apartment building.
The publicity in the Paris metro has always been interesting. I also noticed there are new seats in this station.

My favorite part of Paris will always be Le Marais.

A picnic at Tuilleries while watching children play. One little girl sat to the side and slowly made her way over to join the others not sure if she would be accepted, but she was.

The hallway of the Olympia is filled with posters of people I would love to see perform there, especially Florent Pagny singing Brel.

Flies, honey, vinegar

The train from the border to Argeles didn't come: a greve de surprise...I missed my connection to Paris, but the next train came but I needed to change in Montpellier and get a new reservation. Two other women were in the same situation. At the ticket counter in Montpellier they raged at the men behind the counter. When it was my turn, I said I was sorry they were having a rough time and that it wasn't their fault that there was a surprise strike. The two women got second class seats. I ended up in first class. Something about flies, honey and vinegar comes to mind, although why anyone would want flies, I don't know.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I did it I did it I did it!

I have my own Avatar

thank you Mighty Mom.

Calling through the window

This morning A. called from the window across the street (about a car width and a bit more).

I waved and we mimed that he would go swimming. He is here on holiday as he has been for the past few years.

The first time I heard him I was writing and he was throwing a mega tantrum below my window. I wondered why his mother couldn't control him. Later I learned. He was brain damaged at birth. Motor co-ordination problems, temper tantrums, were the rules of the day. I still carry the guilt for my unkind thoughts, and hold his mother in awe in what she has done to help her son.

Over the years he has turned into a teenager. The tantrums are almost gone. Two summers ago he picked up a bike and rode it as we looked on with tears in our eyes. Now he rides throughout the village. He has made great progress in school.

He and I have a ritutal where he calls goodnight and good morning through the window and try and communicate with our hands. I try to be home for these times. When we are on the street we use a Danish/English speaker to translate for us.

Usually I am here during his entire visit, but I am heading for Paris to spend time with another friend during her holiday, bad planning on one hand, great on another. It is a choice between too many good things, but there is a sadness at not being in Argelès when the village overflows with life from a group of talented, funny and amusing Danes...

His mother has told him that tomorrow is the last morning we will be able to wave of this holiday. A nodded his understanding, but I feel a loss. Next summer I will schedule differently Inshallah.