Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three Conversations

Little girl at Pont d'Avre tram station.: Stop!!!
The tram stops.
Little girl to Grandmother: I have REAL power!

Dermatologist: Are those Massachusetts or Swiss bites?
Me: Swiss bites. I think it happened as I was getting into a car to go to South Station to go to New York. (He studied in Massachusetts, but I guess he didn't meet the right bugs there)
Dermatologist: I don't know that much about Massachusetts insects, but they look like -----------(I have no idea of the word he said)
Me: I have been thinking of the advantage of amputating my feet, the itching is so bad.
(He decides it is better to give me a cream, but cautions that I will still look like my lower legs have the creeping, crawling crud for another ten days.

Pharmacist: Put in your debit card
(I do several times but it is blocked for not reason that makes any sense)
Me: Can you hold the package for me until tomorrow when I can get to the bank?
Pharmacist: I'll just print you out a bill.
I leave with the medicine that will keep me from cutting off my legs to stop the itching.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Roots are funny things

At my final naturalization interview I was asked about my feelings for both the US and Switzerland. In my analogy I said if I were a plant the roots nearest the plant would always be New England Yankee. However I had been transplanted to Switzerland and put down longer roots. If the original roots were cut off, the plant would die, but the new roots had gone so deep and the plant had grown so much, that the original roots were no longer able to sustain the plant.

Recently I’ve reconnected with my roots in a series of encounters with people whose faces have morphed into new faces that were sometimes recognizable, sometimes not. Their experiences have written on those faces, as on mine. Life has been kind to us, overall, but none have escaped without some pain that have made us stronger and grateful for what we have.

Sunday evening, I found myself on a stone terrace with other friends, younger friends. Had not a man poked his head into my office in October 1971 where I worked in a job that I was not qualified for and not successful at and asked if the rumour were true that I had coffee available I would not have been with this couple. That coffee cup friendship extended into the next generation and proved how one simple act can cross decades.

The sun was fading over the trees, just beginning to turn colour, but the flowers and landscaping were still visible. Clearly the end of summer was at hand. He had built a fire, not in the traditional outdoor fireplace but a huge stone circle one surrounded by a moat. Their Jack Russell was on guard duty against all frogs that hopped in and out of the moat.

Their other dog was quick to find a marshmallow on a stick that had yet to be toasted.

Time with them is always a gift. We’ve shared Indian meals, murals, cries of sleeping policemen, chateaus, olives, laughter, eagles soaring and memories on two continents. I am hopeful for more to come.

Geographically I am closer to my roots than I normally am albeit for only a short-short time. Looking at the land where I grew up, seeing people from the past, were what made me into me.

They say you can never enter a river in the same place twice, but you can enter in many places letting the water nourish your roots.

This is the land where I grew up. The house burned down. Their are only a few of the original 50 pines still standing. The two huge rocks which I turned into western badlands, Greek temples, tea party tables and more are still there.

This dog can jump three feet in the air, but does not think he can get over the gate. His much bigger brother, thinks the same thing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Check this out

For those that like
Nail Polish

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anatomy of a new kitchen

In the almost six years I've lived here it is has become a tradition to sit in the kitchen and plan how to improve it. Planning time is over. We have three weeks to totally do over the old and replace it with the new. I feel a bit if I'm on the old BBC Changing Rooms. Trips have been made to Ikea and other places, materials selected, and the work begun.

The old cabinets wait for the trash men. They had over 30 years of holding this family's dishes, food and a memory or two.

The bare walls look so funny stripped, but the kitchen never looked so large.

We have set up a temporary kitchen on the desk in the living room and the table in the winter garden. The WC sink in the downstairs hall is for utensils and the few dishes not made of paper. We've been quite clever with meals including brownies and a potato casserole dish. I had haystacks for the first time in my life, but it won't the last.

We try and create a tiny space of beauty among the chaos.

Our end goal is to enjoy a glass of wine on the beautiful new glass kitchen table. We won't be discussing what to with the kitchen any longer

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another Review

Murder in Caleb's Landing
D-L Nelson
Five Star, Sep 15 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148972

Thirtyish Annie Young may have been born in the States, but the contract technical writer has lived mostly in Europe with her Swiss based parents. She is a “Third-Culture Kid” not quite comfortable in Europe but totally uncomfortable in America. When her father inherits a home in Caleb's Landing, Massachusetts, the Young family leaves Geneva for New England.

In Massachusetts, Annie dad and his friends persuade her create a CD on the real founding of America. Her program is previewed at the local elementary school. Many townsfolk are irate due to her realistic portrayal of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. In the basement of their new house, father and daughter find skeleton dressed in pre-Civil War rags and a diary written by a runaway slave; her mother’s business partner and Annie intervene to save a woman from her abusive spouse. Then there is Des.

This is a fascinating fast-paced mystery the takes off once the Yong family arrives in Massachusetts and never slows down until the finish. Annie’s problems with poorly adapting to a different society enhances the tale as her actions make her an eccentric and to some a pariah. Her diligent research provides a rounded realistic portrayal of the founding of America, but alienates many who prefer deity filters on the heritage of the country especially the state.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Vingt ans déjà

So many French television variety shows are entitled 20 years already to commemorate the 20th anniversary of some French singer's death.

Sept. 4th is a vingt ans déjà anniversary for me, but a happy occasion. Sept. 4 1990 I arrived in Switzerland to start a new job, a new life. Half of me was utterly terrified, the other half ecstatic that I had achieved an almost life-long ambition, to live and work in Europe.

Overall it has been a wonderful 20 years.

There were ups and downs of course. My first three years of work were a nightmare, something that my new boss had warned me about. He even had me meet with people who used to work with him so I would be fully warned on how difficult he was. They told nightmarish stories. They spoke the truth. It was a sales job, not my strongest point. But I survived.

Switzerland brought me in touch with the Geneva Writers Group which led me to my masters program in creative writing at the University of Glamorgan in Wales and the learning of my craft that has earned me six novel contracts.

Switzerland brought me many new friends of many nationalities: UK, Egypt, Syria, Czech, France, Italy, India, etc.

It gave me a new passport.

We have to celebrate, my housemate said. She treated me to breakfast at the Relais St. Bernard. We ate lunch at the Burger King where I went with CB my first weekend in Switzerland to buy furniture. Tonight we are having fois gras and champagne. We've invited the Gilmore Girls to join us, and we will also celebrate finding the kitchen floor tiles.

I am so grateful for every minute of the last 20 years, already.

Last minute escape

With Kitchen Chaos about to begin (three weeks to totally redo the kitchen), my housemate and I decided to escape to the chalet for a night between tearing down the old cabinets and the arrival of Cousin W. who is going to put the new kitchen together.

We've been spending years sitting in the old kitchen, playing "where should we put the frigo, stove, dishwasher, etc." Now it is fish or cut bait. We've been scouring LeRoy Merlin, Ikea and Obi for tiles, cabinets, etc.

In Martigny we let our artistic sides play out as we went around taking pictures of the beautiful statues.

We fell in love with the Dancing Nuns. We didn't ask them if they had any kitchen suggestions.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Eye surgery on the cheap

The couple I am staying with when I go to my high school reunion generously offered me their car...when I said I wasn't driving until after my eye surgery, the husband said "I will also perform the eye surgery if time permits."

Now that's a good friend for you.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Roberta goes to the mountains

In a recent issue of Smithsonian there was an article about a survey on couples that were composed of robots and humans. The humans didn't like the constant humming and the fact that their partners could not go in the water which affected vacations and the robots were annoyed at humans' need to eat and sleep.

How silly I thought.

Then I saw my housemate's suitcase as she packed for a few days escape into the mountains.

Sitting in the middle was our very own robot.

I hope the robot will be patient as we eat fondue.