Sunday, May 30, 2010


things that made me happy before 10 a.m. today.

Waking to the smell of spring rain through my open bedroom window.

The delicate pink roses on my desk for their beauty and for their celebration of the remission for a person much loved by this household.

My vitamins whose colour match my bedspread.

The cool sweet taste of cantaloupe.

Munchkin's purr which seemed amplified by a rock band's equipment.

I can hardly wait for the next hour.

And in the next hour I realistic the eidting of the galleys of Caleb's Landing are almost done and Murder in Argeles is within finishing distance of a final proofing.

And my friend Rose sent me the most incredible photos of three baby robins from eggs to flight taken from her window. The mother robin had her nest near flowers making the photos works of art on top of nature's art.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The ultimate luxury

Washing the floor with champagne. Okay, we meant to have a celebration feast of salmon, shrimp and champagne, and okay, so a glass spilled and that meant the floor had to be washed but there is something wonderfully decadent thinking the kitchen floor was washed with champagne n'est pas?????

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Feeling smug

Feeling smug...

The best cities to live in list is out and Geneva, Zurich and Bern all are in the top ten.

The first US city on the list is number 31 Honolulu, and the city of my roots Boston, is 37. I will admit when I left it some five years ago after a holiday and with my daughter planning to move, I had doubts if I would ever wander across the Common, gaze at Paul Revere's statue, wander the red brick Freedom Trail, haunt the halls of the Boston Public Library again. But it is and always will be part of me and I will never watch a Boston Legal or an Ally McBeal when I see a shot of the Longfellow bridge, that I don't go ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A can of dreams

I know this looks like an ordinary tin can...but inside you will find Euros and Swiss francs. They look like ordinary money, but they are more. They are dreams.

Years ago, my step mom and dad played a lot of gin rummy. Both were card sharks that if they wanted to could go on a professional card playing circuit, but they were happy as a salesman and school secretary. The loser had to put 10 cents in a kitty. The games paid for holidays in Hawaii, California and a bunch of other things.

When I told my housemate this, we decided to start a kitty using this can. Instead of winnings, I threw in two CHF whenever I didn't go to a restaurant for lunch. Her contribution was when she didn't go out for coffee. We added money in dispute. Usually those discussions are like this...

I owe you...
No you don't.
Yes I do for...
No you don't.
Yes I do, don't you remember?
Put it in the can

At first we used it for special meals, until we hit on the idea of taking it for our get-away trips. The first time we used it was in Iceland so once the tickets were paid for it seemed as if everything else on the trip was free. Thus the can has emptied and filled emptied and filled and fed us well in various other places

Right now it is filling for our October trip to Northern Germany. I can taste the hot potato salad now...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On the first day I went to the outdoor café set out in front of the town hall, enjoyed the fountains, the warm air, and my first diabolo frais of the season. I corrected the galleys of Murder in Caleb's Landing and felt very Hemingwayish and Fitzgeraldish.

The commune of Puteaux, which touches La Defense has these signs showing local sights. The Mayor goes out of her way to make the place beautiful. Heavily populated with a mixed population including many Arabic people, it has not suffered the same problems as some other areas with similar populations. Small businesses thrive, there are many activities for all. The name comes from the word for quagmire and the commune was first settled in the 1100s.

In the commune where my friend lives, Zoe and her friend Artur stand on each side of the crossing walks in front of the schools, a visual reminder that it might not be a good idea to squish a student with a car.

We went to the antique flea market in Porte de Clingancourt. It was set up much like the souks in Damascus. At lunch all the vendors sat down and tables and had a pot luck lunch (they would have called it a Canadian meal). It would have been rude, although tempting to ask for a sample. The puce has been around since the late 1800s.

Over night all the cars were banned from the Champs Elysée and farmers had turned the busy road into a garden. Trees replaced cars. Perhaps all of Paris turned out. Since the city has an estimated population of 11 million and Switzerland has a population of seven million, it did seem a bit more crowded there than home. Still I am glad I saw what I could over shoulders, through arms, etc.

The toilet stalls at Orly have painted doors. Trust the French to make the mundane beautiful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Multi lingual

I love living in a multi-lingual world. M. is in her bedroom in Paris talking on the phone in Arabic. I am writing in English and The-ou-Cafe is in the TV in French.

I can understand two unless M. limits her vocabulary to Mahaba,Shukren, Awfon, chai,and habibi.

Life is good.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

what goes rip rip giggle

As I read in bed this morning I heard from my housemate's room

rip rip giggle rip rip rip guffaw rip giggle, rip rip rip giggle rip rip laugh rip rip laugh rip snicker rip giggle...

It had to be her catching up her Maxine calendar.

After my foray to the drugstore, I came home to find one Maxine joke on each of the stairs, through the hall leading to my room and up to my desk. A sampling.

Maybe the green eggs in my fridge have been dyed. Feel lucky?

Know why I like chess. The queen kicks butt all over the board while the king hides in the corner.

At my age having Uncle Sam put his hands in my pockets is about the only action I get.

I don't know if I'd mind having my identity stolen. Hack, let the bill collectors talk to somebody else for a change.

Recycling is just common sense, which is why most people don't do it.

Drugs helped me smell the new grass

I opened my new 60-tablet prescription that keeps E. Sophie Gus under control to discover there were only 30 in tablets in the package. I caught the bus to the next village grumbling this was NOT what I wanted to do this morning. As I always do I mentally ran over my French, making sure my verbs and genders were ok in my head to make sure I would be as clear and correct as possible.

No problem with the language. The pharmacist happily replaced the box.

I decided to walk back home despite the wind. The sky was blue, the mountains and lake gleaming, the vineyards are pushing up their vines and then I smelled the first fresh cut grass of the season, a seasonal variation of stopping to smell the roses.

And I gratefully owe the experience all to drugs...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It was sooooooooooooo easy

I'm a change saver...

Change put me through grad school. Change takes me on holidays. Change means I save a couple of thousand or more each year.

Change also gives me headaches when I take it to out OCDered postman. He needs to check, recheck, check his checking. I would not be surprised if he bit each coin to test its mettle. Once he called me on the telephone because after yet another check he found me 10 centimes over.

Today I had about 300 CHF in change to deposit. As much as I want to support my local PO, I couldn't face it. I took it to the PO in Vesernaz. The woman smiled, slapped each roll on the scale, found one packet had 10 centimes too much, gave it back to me, wham bam the money was in my account.

Equally fast she slapped stamps on two envelopes without checking my handwriting and pushed through a payment for tickets for a play I want to go to next month. The entire thing took less than three minutes.

No sighs, no pained expressions at the idea something might be terribly wrong and bring down the entire Swiss postal system.

Bonne journée, she said. It was.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

There are tears for many reasons

I found tears washing my cheeks last night, not out of sadness but of pride and joy, watching N. do her solo Indian dance. The flawless performance had all the magic of the classical form of dance that I have come to love over the years, but seeing this talented young woman, whom I've watched grow from te age of six was truly a delight.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tapas Surprise

It was going to be a night in, until my housemate decided to drive No. 2 son back into the city.

Her "Wanta come?" led to me being in the car in minutes. The spring night was extra beautiful even if the sunglasses-qualifying rapeseed fields are now green. There are enough flowering trees to emotionally feast on.

When we approached the Jet d'Eau, the sunlight was behind it and in front were the masts of boats sticking up like the spikes of a marching medieval army.

In another block a tree in full leaf replaced the spikes. The Jet d'Eau still shimmered. No way could we stop for a photo, having to be satisfied by sealing the moment in our memories.

The evening was too beautiful to just drop No. 2 son off, so a walk and an apero in the old town seemed a much better solution. After last week's cold, people, probably tired of huddling houses, were out in cafés. The fountains were gurgling. Even the cobblestones appeared to be happy. The top of St. Pierre, Calvin's church towered over the century-old houses.

At the Demi Lune the next logical step was a plate of tapas to go with the apero.

Why is it that nothing special can be so very special????

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Homecoming and more

The day started with a chai latté...the opening salvo on a wonderful, wonderful day full of gifts that cannot be touched but exist in my heart.

For over a year I had not been at the Geneva Writers Group. With all the Florida ups and downs, sitting still for a workshop was more than I could take. The GWG has nurtured my writing for over 17 years. I once had a boss, who ended up in a psychiatric ward, when asked if he wanted to go to a workshop in his field, said, "I already know everything there is to know." I don't care how many books I publish, I can always learn a bit more about my craft.

Never, ever have I done one of the GWG workshops that I have not come out inspired. This one was no exception.

Walking into the Press Club where the group meets, I saw so many faces of people I like and respect have spent time with but haven't over the past few months as I sort out this and that and that and this and and and.

There were not just the traditional kiss-kiss-kisses on alternate cheeks (one cheek gets it twice) but hugs then the wonderful phrase "X is here." Another writer with whom I've shared writing with and is now living in another country, was standing in the outer room, surrounded by people as delighted as I was to see him. One of the problems in Geneva is that people you like move (are you listening Mighty Mom?) but then the good friends turn up in an email, on the phone and best of all in front of you.

The morning was just one series of gifts.

Lunch at the Café du Soleil, the oldest brasserie in Geneva: my daughter insists we eat there immediately after she's landed in Geneva and even wants me to make reservations when she has ordered her airline ticket even though the flight might me six months in the future.. She says she isn't in Switzerland until she's been there. After the cold of the past week, eating outside, talking with other writers, and having my usual demi salade de lentilles tiede avec roquefort...ahhhh. More gifts.

Was it my imagination? What were people in Catalan hats draped in Catalan flags doing in front of the Three-legged chair at the UN? I had to ask.
"For independence."
"Ah, I said. I understand. I live part time in Argelès."
Immediately I was taken to an official from Perpignan. We talked about the thousands and thousands of refugees that found themselves on the beaches in 1939.
"You should have been here earlier. The plaza was filled. Now we are just cleaning up."
I walked on to the library and had to stop for at a the glacier for a cornet avec deux boules, pistache et café.

At the library I ran into another writer I had not seen for too long. Although the exchange was brief, it was still just another reason to be happy.

It had been a wonderful day.