Saturday, October 31, 2009

Middle of the Night Musings

My housemate was in the mountains for the night. Her number 1 son was in his own flat in Geneva and number 2 son and I had shared some cheese and conversation before he left with good byes and remarks there was a good chance that he wouldn’t be back before he went to Venice for a week and he was leaving on Tuesday.

In the middle of the night after going to the bathroom, I heard noises in the house. It is a big house with its share of creaks, but these were moving around noises. Sometimes I can hear people nextdoor but that is when they are hammering or drilling, something they never do in the middle of the night.

Maybe the robbers, seeing there was no car in the garage, had come back. They weren’t very good robbers, taking my five franc pieces but not the bills next to it. They rejected my ring watch which had been in the middle of the dish with the five franc pieces.

My writers’ imagination pictured headlines like “Writer slain in foiled robbery”. I saw chalk marks around where I had been slain and yellow police tape. I realized I could lock myself in the bathroom and scream and scream out the window. Meanwhile Munchkin, the cat purred away on the foot of my bed. She is definitely not a watch cat.

Then I smelled toast.


I called out number 2 son’s name.

“Sorry to wake you,” he called upstairs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I am chuffed

That's my kid crossing the finish line of the Dublin Marathon. From the day she was born, my daughter was always stubborn. When she set a goal she did everthing she could to meet it without being ruthless. Thus she has faced hardships and come out the other side. The marathon is a metaphor for her character and I am so mega proud of her not just for finishing the marathon but for being the woman she is.

On retourning to Geneve

1. How wonderful to have my housemate greet me then serve champagne, shrimp and other goodies as we caught up on the news.

2. The leaves are almost as beautiful as in New England this year, many more reds. Even though it was foggy.

3. Got through the pile of paperwork in the morning, although there are two more projects that need to be done that will take a little more time. sighhhhhhhhhhh... Since housemate has headed for the hills until tomorrow afternoon, there are no real distractions.

4. I can't find my 501 French Verbs and exercise book. I can't imagine the robbers would take them. They weren't very good robbers. They got my 5 CHF pieces but left some bigger bills that were next to the change. And they rejected my ring watch.

5. I know people think I am a bit nuts on colour co-ordination, BUT and I swear it was an accident, the vitamins and calcium pills I bought in the US I just opened and one matches the roses in my duvet cover, the other the leaves. Still makes me want to leave a bunch out as a decorating touch.

Kittens in a tree

My neighbour in Argeles cracked for two orphan kittens and brought them home until she could find a home for them. She named them Chip and Chap (which is the Danish version of Disney's Chip and Dale).
The kittens are two black and white puff balls that tumble over each other, will sit in the kitchen and make comments that dinner is not forthcoming, at a speed they approve and fall asleep on her red velvet chair with nary a complaint from her. Watching them play is better than any television show that I can think of.
It would be worth starting a pool to see if she decides to keep them herself or goes along with the original plan to find a home for them, EXCEPT all the odds are on her keeping them and no one will bet on her giving them away.

Monday, October 26, 2009

my Heart is in Ireland today

What is it doing there?

Running in the Dublin marathon.

There are so9 many times I'm proud of my kid.

This is one of them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Argeles Gospel Singers

Who'd have thunk it, as my mother used to say. A great gospel choir in the middle of a Catalan village, but this group has performed internationally under the direction of Alain Martin, who has a voice that can portray the pain of a slave on a Georgia plantation. When he sings, I want to cry. My friend, Barbara had a solo and was called out as the doyenne of the group. The reminder we are in France comes from some very strange prounnciations of English, but considering my bad French accent, I really shouldn't criticize.
The concert was free, the end of a week long celebration of the elderly. As one of the politicians who spoke said, nretirement homes are all public. Money should not be made on them. It is part of being a civilized society that cares for one another. (loose translation).

When I was a young, naïve bride

living in Stuttgart, I had this fantasy, that my husband and I would stay in Europe and he would continue to be a musician and I would be a writer, and we would support each other in our work.

It was just that--a fantasy. We left Europe and support became a one-way street.

Yet last night I saw my fantasy in action, not in my couple, long since broken, but in a Swiss writer and her husband cellist, who have a house down the street from me. She read from her novel as he played the cello.

I had always enjoyed her writing (we exchange our latest publications), but I never heard the music of her words until spoken. With his music the world disappeared and it was only the two of them together, a magical moment. Only afterwards, did they confess he had forgotten the sheet music he had prepared and was totally improvising.

And if I could not live the fantasy, there is something reassuring knowing that such fantasties can become real life and can be shared.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rainy Days and Wednesdays

Do not get me down. I woke to rain slithering over the skylight. The orange tile roofs are shimmering wet. The tea is hot. The writing is going well. I revel in my last days in Argelès.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Days are Here Again

Kaki fruit is in the market again for its short season. So are green figs. Although Switzerland has good fruit and vegetables, I'll miss the local fruits and veggies, when I go back to Switzerland on the 29th.

Walking in the Tramantane

The Tramantane is blowing, but it didn't stop me walking on the Ancien Chemin de Collioure. Touching was this elderly couple, he with cane walking hand in hand and chatting as old friends.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Maybe this is too simple

Okay... we're giving $7.5 billion to Pakistan. They seemed unhappy we want to tell them how to use it. There was nary a whimper in Congress about how are we going to pay for it. There were no angry town halls and I didn't see a tea bag anywhere.

Meanwhile back at home, people are being thrown out of their homes, some 1800 uninsured people showed up for a free health clinic in Texas, while teachers and fire fighters are being fired because of lack of funds. We won't even discuss the lack of public transportation, crumbling roads and bridges, etc.

We are already trillions in debt.

Somehow, it seems to me, if we are going to borrow money we should use it on our own people.

Sorta like a family who is behind on its mortgage, hasn't got a car, can't afford health insurance, is eating a lot of pasta takes a loan out to buy a car for a family in the next town.

Anyone who knows me as a socialist might be surprised I am writing this. I am not against helping others and I have Pakistani friends and neighbours whom I really like, but as on an airplane they say if oxygen masks descends cover your own face first then the children's.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cover part II

Cover elements tweaked a bit and I like it better. I've signed off on it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The cover for my new book

My publisher sent me the draft of the cover for my new novel due out in February and asked if it had the spirit of the story. It sure does...
The ghosted house looks like the one I had imagined for a Cambridge Street and the discovery of the old diary in the basement is the turning point of the story.
I had been baffled when asked by the art department for ideas and had thrown out a list of words and the designer did more than I could ever have dreamed.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Grape + paparazzi=grapaparazzi

K. walked up and down the rows of grape vines, camera in hand looking for the lush vine, but like a celebrity, the sun was playing hide and seek and only the B-list grapes were out in number. He is a first class professional photographer with world-wide credits. He also immortalized my blond-haired, blue eyed daughter in a German language textbook.

I stood with his wife, who is also my cousin, S. waiting. Our job was to stay out of the way. We’d been searching for the right shorts, turning him into a Grape Paparazzi, I quipped.

I’ve shared Christmases and jazz in Garmish, fondues in Switzerland, vendages in Beaujolais country, and meals and good conversation in the North End of Boston for several decades with them. Thus when I heard they were going to be in France I hotfooted myself to the train station to join them in Bordeaux. Even a train strike couldn’t keep me away, I just added a day to the trip.

And I wasn’t disappointed as we drove through wine country, poked a bit around Bordeaux, ate great food and stopped whenever there was a good shot. Stopping for any possible good photo, is part of the pleasure of spending time with them as is the great conversation.

They say you chose your family, not your friends, but I am happy to put a check under both categories. Now if I could just convince them that they need to live on this continent again…

Snaps from Bordeaux

The French idea of Rickshaws???
A window that shares my politics.

I took it because it was just pretty. K. Suggested a much better perspective then my first shot. (see above)

Monday, October 05, 2009

This year's adventure

Each year when R&R (former Geneva neighbours and owner of a place at the Port), we go along with my gal pal B on an adventure exploring some yet undiscovered spot in the area. Even after 22 years we still have not begun to tap all there is to see in the region. Our goal this time, the southern most village in France. Once an iron mining centre, the houses all are marked with red from the iron in the clay of the locally made bricks.
And walking near the village we were bonked by chestnuts. Those on the ground were gathered up for later roasing.

A stream bubbled and gurgled at the base of the village

There was the ritual lunch, this time at a restaurant rather than one of our many picnics. The calamar, duck, fish soup were all excellent.

Then onto the factory that makes the Catalan cloth. The machines were old and clattered and clanked. At the factory store I found a runner for my table for all of 3 Euros.

And the same town made the espradilles, half by hand as has been done for centuries. No self respecting Sardane dancer would be caught dead without his or her espadrilles. I suspect the metal one would be uncomfortable.

In the same village, there was an antique gas pump. The customer dialled the number of litres he wanted.

We dipped into Spain for a picturesque mountain drive home. And next year we'll go to..........

Friday, October 02, 2009

Follow that hat

Doing my errands this morning I saw the back of a tall man with a big hat.

"It couldn't be," I said but followed the hat.

It was. The Danes, I&K, P&M are here for a long weekend thanks to Easy Jet cheap prices.

Hugs and news exchanges followed..and they had good news. Once again they have been nominated for an Emmy, make that two nominations. Bad news, K has a broken bone in her arm and her husband clucked, clucked that she didn't stop working. Of course, I told her that she should, but admitted I wouldn't in the same situation.

One of the lovely things about this village is the people who move in and out of our lives, sharing bits and pieces of other worlds.