Sunday, August 28, 2011

A French Marriage

Unlike in the US a church wedding has no legal status whatsoever. Love and promises to God have no bearing on the couple at all in the eyes of the state.

Yesterday I attended the wedding of M and D at the Mairie in Argelès.

The Salle de Marriage, is a pretty room with plants, paintings and a photo of Sarkozy along the wall. (I half expected that many of those in attendance would ask to have that covered, but no one did). Chairs are arranged before a table. The bride and groom have two throne like chairs.

The bride wore a simple white sheath along with a white flower in her hair.

The stand in for the mayor had well-pressed jeans, a starched white shirt and wore the red/white/blue ribbon of office draped from his shoulder to his waist.

Before starting he invited people to take photos.

The ceremony included reading the law including numbers and dates of approval on the rights and responsibilities of marriage including those of future children. The bride and groom shook their heads on that one.

Then they agreed to the terms, signed the document and they were married.

More photos.

The assistant mayor gave them copies of the document they had signed, their livret de familie, the booklet that all families have showing all relevant information with many pages for children and a present from the village. He took his droit de seigneur and kissed the bride.

And it was done.


It's normal to wish the best for friends and family.

It's normal to worry when things go wrong or that they are facing some difficult task. Until my daughter got her acceptance at Napier University in Scotland, I didn't so much as worry, but the wonder of what would happen was always in the back of my mind, and sometimes the front.

But since the beginning of 2011, worry has taken on new dimensions.

First my writer friend M, whose work I respect and whose company has always been a pleasure, was in Egypt, his home country, during the uprising. Emails flowed back and forth between those who share my feeling and finally from his wife and finally from him. All was well.

Then there was Josh and his family in Japan. His bulletins were as good as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, or RT. They are now resettled in the US.

And although not directly involved, there are all those people I love in Syria, people who opened their homes to me, women with whom I've shared matei, nuts, seeds and stories. People who've been in my home in Geneva. What will happen to their country, with its rich, rich history and centuries of upheavals?

The earthquake on the East Coast was only a minor concern for those that I care about there.

Now there's this weekend with Betty in Ocean Grove next door to Asbury Park, where NJ Governor Christie told people, "Get off the beach. Get off the Beach in Asbury Park." And there's Fanny in NY and Bill, Susie, Llara in Boston. Irene is bearing down on them all, and although I know they are taking all precautions, I worry.

So come on earth...enough is enough is enough.

Can we stay out of disaster zones and get back to just normal problems.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Greedy greedy greedy

I am greedy.

I live two lives in one.

During the last week in either life, I sadly let go one as I reve up for the other with excitement.

This week I'm saying goodbye to the street parties, the café sits, the walks among the gardens and up towards the mountains, the local fruits and veggies, the knowing of almost everyone I see from the moment I leave the house until I come back. Leaving is sad.

I look forward to my rose room, the messages from the basement where my housemate is working to my computer where I'm working on the 1st floor European, second floor American for lunch at Marro, Miko, or Manana or or or. I look forward to DVD nights with champagne and shrimp or veggies and dip or old fashioned popcorn.

I look forward to seeing my writing friends.

I look forward to wandering into my housemate's room and out on her balcony to see the lake and Jura.

I look forward to a stroll in the now the should be lush.

This trip I won't be spending much time in CH with trips to Germany and Canada planned, I'm looking forward to that too.

And I realise how greedy I am to want it all all the time. I must remember to be so grateful that I do have it all over and over and over.

It's been a wonderful summer. Coming up...a wonderful autumn.


I went to the bank to pick up my new checkbook.

"You have to see a counselor," the teller told me.

Panic, panic, panic. I had changed the nationality on my account to Swiss, but my Winchester MA birthplace hadn't changed. Would it be like in Switzerland and many other countries because of the new US legislation many banks are refusing to do business with Americans? I thought I would plead the usual, that I've an appointment to renounce my nationality in 2013, the earliest I could get and beg to keep the account open.

M. Clerc told we could speak English. His mother was an English teacher and he loves using it.

The problem was the money transfer to pay for the flat I bought last year. They needed a bit more paperwork to prove it wasn't money laundering.

I happily signed with a sigh of relief.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

travel schedule

I have thought my housemate has itchy feet with her travelling but ignoring clichés about pots, kettles and the colour black here's mine...Inshallah

Aug. 30 Geneva
Sept.5-12 Hamburg and Islet Poehl--research trip
Sept.18-22 Regina SK to give a talk and attend conference
Sept.22-? Geneva regular life
Sept ?-Sept 30 Paris visiting friends
Sept 30-Nov ? Argeles regular life Argeles plus visits from friends
Early Nov.-mid Nov. Geneva regular life
Mid Nov 4 days Edinburgh Scotland check out daughter's lair
Mid Nov. Late Nov. Geneva regular life
Late Nov. Early De. Vienna Austria spend time with writing mate
Back to Geneva until after Christmas then on verra.

Am I tired yet?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flo is the pup in front and has come to watch her owner, Gerard tile the front hall. She met with an accident and one of her rear paws is in a cast. Gerard tenderly carries her every where include the several blocks from his house to mine with his tools slung over his shoulder.

Rossi is the pup in the back and is thrilled to have Flo as his friend. He has to reminded to be gentle.

Together the pups accept all the pats by passers by. They believe, based on their owners, that the world is there to adore them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Early morning walks and talks

Because the temperature was supposed to hit the mid-thirties, and because I did not want to spend the entire day locked into my air conditioned nest, I took an early morning walk through the vegetable gardens that are so lush with tomatoes, beans, etc.
A grey-haired man straddled the brook across from the garden. He was trying to pull up the metal gate that allows the water to flow freely. He responded to my smile and we held a conversation in French.
“Are you looking for the beach?” he asked.
“No, just out for a walk.”
“You’re English?”
“You will find it hard to believe, but I’m Swiss.” I love doing that. It may be mean to enjoy people’s expressions so much when I say I’m Swiss. “But I grew up in America which explains the accent. Your ears were right.”
He smiled. He then explained how he wanted to get the water flowing, showing me where algae were growing and once the water flowed, it would stop.
We wished each other a pleasant day.
I passed the garden where a man sells his produce until 11 in the morning. Ahead on the path were a grandfather and his tins granddaughter. She had Shirley Temple curls and wore a green sundress.
He carried an old wicker basket with leeks and other greens sticking out. The scene could have taken place anytime in the last hundred years EXCEPT he was talking on a cell phone. It reminded me of the gaucho on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat over his ponytail and a long flowing sleeved shirt. We were searching in the Spanish forest for a house that had been occupied by deserters from both sides during the Civil War. The gaucho was talking on a mobile too.
As I headed back into the village, Emil was out on his bench next to the gate he’d painted of a Catalan dancer. His voice is now weak. Even with his cane he can no longer wander even the short distance to the bench in the village where “the senators” meet. They are old men and old friend and every morning after they finish their coffee they sit and solve the world’s problems.
Back in the air-conditioning, I think how much I love my life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I drove I drove

Okay, that should be nothing special for a woman of my age and intelligence, but driving is something I did rarely for years. In fact once months went by and I didn't even get in a car. I could walk to work and buses and trains took me anywhere I wanted to go.

However, for the last two years, I haven't driven because I couldn't see. The eye surgery changed that.

Need, want and opportunity changed. I needed a new electric kettle and I wanted to shop at the bio store. Both are a long walk which is possible but not practical with the heat and carrying what I wanted to buy.

I used my friend's car. I did all five gears, hill stops, roundabouts just like I had driven yesterday. I even used power steering--mine...Anyone who steers that car on a long term basis will never have flabby upper arms.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Authors without borders

Monday, August 08, 2011

49T and counting

My daughter loves bumper stickers, many of which were a statement against the beliefs of the company she worked for, but they accepted her anyway.

She took this photo before taking them off the first car she ever owned. It has done her well for a number of years. Like me, a car is to get you from place A to place B, C, D, etc. She took good care of it.

The car will be sold prior to her move to Scotland. Y E S ! ! ! !

The license plate is family tradition. My father had the original 49T given to him in the 50s by Governor's Volpe's administration. When he moved to Florida in the early 70s, the license plate was passed on to me. In Florida he got a Florida plate with the same number. He always drove a huge car. I drove a compact. When the two were parked side by side with the same number (different state) plates, we looked like a boat and its dinghy.

Llara was able to get a 49T plate when she moved to Virginia. I doubt she will get a car in Edinburgh and even if she did, I'm sure that a 49T would not be possible, a small sacrifice.

Do love that kid.

Monday, August 01, 2011

There's a new mural

On the wall opposite the church.

Remember Spike?

Spike was the kitten with the outsized personality that cried so piteously on a cold October day, that I invited him inside. He promptly surveyed the place and made himself at home. I found the owner.

Spike has now grown into this beautiful fuzzball and he still oozes personality, a willingness to let you love him as he tries to control who and what goes up and down the street.