Monday, September 28, 2009

Knights and Dishes or a Hodgebodge Blog

The two subjects don't have a lot to do with each other, but since they were things I've thought about in the last 24 hours I'm putting them in the same blog.

The Patrinomy Festival is over. For the past week, people in medieval costumes have been wandering around the village playing music, jousting, putting on plays, serving food, etc. There was a special Musical mass and other fun. At this time of year, the celebration is more for residence than tourists who have gone back to Paris, London, Dusseldorf and Amsterdam, etc.

Passing the antique shop this morning, I noticed a new set of dishes. I love dishes. In my imaginary farm house I change my dishes weekly and set beautiful tables (after all since it is imaginary, cost is unimportant). However with antique dishes, I wonder who ate off them, what was discussed as someone cut into a slice of beef. What was the favourite meal of the family who used the dishes. Did the kids squabble about whose turn it was to wash or did a servant do it?

I'll never know and I know it is time to stop writing the blog and get back to my newsletter. Still I glance over at my own dish set, bought at factory outlet in Maine some 22 years ago and shipped over to my apartment. I've always loved the pattern and I know what meals have been served, the good conversations with guests, or the quiet suppers on a tray in front of the telly.
Someday, maybe someone will wonder who ate off these dishes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It is good to be humble

2008 was my no buy year.

2009 is my French year, when I have worked almost daily to improve my grammar and pronnunciation (the first is working better than the second). Prior to starting I was comfortable reading newspapers and books and listening to movies and television. There were friends I only communicated with in French and that included my former boyfriend of 14 years. He spoke almost no English.

But having learned it hapharzardly there were holes in my knowledge, which is why I have been torturing myself with private lessons, a university course and daily exercises. I wanted to write it more coherently. I wanted my verb tenses to match reality.

I'd felt I'd been making great progress until I bombed into the health food store, a dark place run by Pedro with whom I've danced at street dances and exchanged information about be bop, jitterbugging and other music and dances fromt he 20s, 30s and 40s.

He looked at me strangely when I asked him if he had any airplanes avions. He put his arms out and ran around the store like a small boy. He stopped and picked up a package of oatmeal avoine and cocked his head, one eyebrow raised.

Oui, I said, a word I've never mispronnounced. As an old friend once said when she made her bed for the first time in several weeks, "That's once in a row."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sometimes I wonder

I admit it. I talk back to the news. Sometimes I get so angry I want to kick in the TV, but since i'm too cheap to replace it, I resist.

It's fun talking back. Three women on French television had oversized glasses (something I've always worn). Shows I was with my time, after my time, before my time and with my time. More important, I make my own time. If I like it I don't care if it is in or out.

Saw a list of all US health care insurance company CEO salaries and it came to a couple of billion dollars. Advertising came to several billion dollars. All that money and NONE of it had anything to do with curing an actual person. When they ask where the money will come from, there's two places.

Afghanistan: We are spending billions, allegedly to keep terrorists from a safe haven. Seems like terrorists in the past have held up in apartments and houses all over the world. Even if Afghanistan is the msot peaceful, best democracy in the world, will we wipe out all houses and apartment buildings because terrorists can live in them? Terrorists don't need a country.

There...I feel better. Time to get dressed, take my snazzy elather pants and suede skirt to be hemmed, check out the marché and buy some fruit and veggies. Chicken salad for lunch with lots of crunchies.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thank you Mary Travers

For all the pleasure listening to you sing.

Thank you for fighting for the causes I believe in with a voice that reached more people than I could.

The Congressman and the shoe thrower

I wrote Congressman Rohbabacher today on his remark that Iraqis weren't grateful (see comment below). I also have reprinted the shoe thrower's remarks which best describes why they aren't (from The Guardian) grateful.

9/11 was terrible. The attacks lasted one day and not for even an entire day. America was attacked, NOT BY A NATION WITH A POWERFUL ARMY, but by a few individuals. Iraq suffered under Shock and Awe for weeks, then years of ongoing military action by an occupation force.

Their infrastructure was destroyed. Rebuilding was done by American companies that benefited while the Iraqis went without work. They should be as grateful to us for othe war as we are to the 9/11 terrorists for taking down the World Trade Center.

Rohrabacher to Iraqis: Be More Grateful!
"I have never heard one word of gratitude from the Iraqi people about the 4,300 Americans who lost their lives," the Republican Congressman exclaimed.

The Shoe Thrower talks about his country in war.
I am free. But my country is still a prisoner of war. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: what compelled me to act is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.
Over recent years, more than a million martyrs have fallen by the bullets of the occupation and Iraq is now filled with more than five million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. Many millions are homeless inside and outside the country.
We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade.
Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents.
I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me towards the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Falluja, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.
As soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies, while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the blood that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.
The opportunity came, and I took it.
I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.
I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.
When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.
If I have wronged journalism without intention, because of the professional embarrassment I caused the establishment, I apologise. All that I meant to do was express with a living conscience the feelings of a citizen who sees his homeland desecrated every day. The professionalism mourned by some under the auspices of the occupation should not have a voice louder than the voice of patriotism. And if patriotism needs to speak out, then professionalism should be allied with it.
I didn't do this so my name would enter history or for material gains. All I wanted was to defend my country.

When I left Argelès in July, I did not leave it neurotically neat as I usually do. In fact, not only had I not bothered to clean, I dumped all my shoes on the floor.

The reason?

To force me to do my fall cleaning immediately when I returned.

Wouldn't you know? A charming young couple, to whom I had offered the place a while before took me up on the offer. I warned them about the condition, hoping they wouldn't think that this was the way I lived normally.

When I returned after my stay in Geneva, and walked up the stairs, I saw their arrangement of my shoes in a perfect circle with a lovely gift in the middle. (not to mention helping me get rid of a manifestation of moths that seem to be plaguing the village.)

Thanks, J&K, you're wonderful. I definitely got the better of the deal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I don't dare use the N word...

White caps of the lake during the bise. Taken from the bedroom balcony.

Dinner is a snack plate of local cheeses, sausages and wine after a day of
construction and catch up

Although the photo is dark, The Munch has curled up on No.2 Son's lap
because the last time I used the word ormal (I won't put the N on it) 24 hours later I was in another country.
However, I resisted the temptation to kiss the earth at Cointrin and Cosier when I did get home. I celebrated the bise, ate with my housemates, appreciated the cat, started to get caught up on my work and my writing, ran errands, etc. etc.
Now I am about to switch to Argelès for the next few weeks and hope I can establish a good writing/working routine, see friends down there before heading back to Geneva for the winter.
I am not leaving things to chance or merely touching wood as I pass. I'm rubbing my entire body along it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

So many times what I need is in front of me

I will admit leaving Florida was both a joy and sadness. I could hardly wait to escape the heat and the environment, but I hated leaving my mother. Many of the people I had talked to were nice but from another planet to everything I hold near and dear and enjoy. Watching C-Span had left me feeling down and thinking the US is no longer capable of solving its myriad problems.

I had an aisle seat and crammed into the two seats next to me were two oversized men. One was reading The Bible.

Oh no, a religious righter, I thought.

Okay, once again I was reminded not to prejudge. The three of talked the entire trip. (the other man was on his way North for the funeral of his 97 year old grandmother).

The conversation was the first in depth talk I'd had since I left Switzerland. I refuse to put the term Liberal on the men, because labels are part of the problem, but ethical, caring, intelligent, insightful, knowledgeable and most important hopeful in a realistic way on what can be accomplished at many levels of society.

If there is a god or goddess of healing, he or she placed those two men there for me. I am not sure I brought them anything, but I will try and function the same way to someone else someday.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Channelling Mighty Mom

SO many times in the past two weeks, dealing with an elderly Mom who just didn't understand I kept asking myself "How would Mighty Mom" have handled this. Thus my Mom's house has decorated envelopes, cute lists, etc., baskets to collect stuff that we can go over on future telephone calls.

Also after listening to MM talk to Emma and The Mouse, I think of how I'm going to explain something in not only the right way but the best way.

Thank you Mighty Mom.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Thank you

I cannot begin to thank you all for the phone calls, emails and support that I’ve gotten since I had to go to Florida. Hearing your many voices was especially touching and I know you understand that I can’t go into detail when we talk but we are making progress. Time on the internet is limited to library hours which are in themselves limited.
I count myself blessed that I have so many caring friends who are reaching out to me. Your friendship is giving me more help and strength than any of you can imagine.
I apologize for the group message. I’ll get to you individually as soon as I can.
I am still hoping I can get back to Europe on the 10th. But I suspect I will be adding Florida to my Geneva/Argeles cycle.