Monday, February 27, 2012

Our village cow

Someone took pity on our village cow in the cold and gave her a scarf.

Our OCD Postman strikes again

Switzerland has priority and non priority stamps.

I had a letter to go to the Mairie. Since the office was closed, I decided to mail it, deciding to buy the cheaper non priority stamp.

I had thought of dropping it into the Mairie's postal box C which is only a couple of rows from my postal box 16, but I knew it would upset our OCD postmaster.

He put the stamp on the letter. "It will be delivered Wednesday," he said.

Box 3 was no more than 40 steps from the window where we were both standing. "But their box is across the room," I said.

"He pointed to two boxes. One is A, one is for B," he said. "I will send out the B tomorrow, which means I'll put it in the their box Wednesday morning."

I knew it was useless to say anything more. It wasn't important.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Not in the closet, but under the 14th century church in Corsier. Maybe one of the photos of the dig and/or skeletons will work for the cover of Murder in Paris.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Emancipation Certificate

Paid my $450 for my Emancipation Certificate (my name) today. It finally came back from the State Department. As soon as they get the money, they'll send it to me, then I can go to the banks and bank normally. I was at the bank today and the clerk who was behind the counter said how sorry she was about the necessity to do what I did do to lead a normal financial life abroad.

I alternate emotions: great sadness, relief, a huge lifting of the burden of shame that I've carried so long.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The price of caring

The painting of a woman walking in the old part of Damascus was a gift from my former Syrian neighbour, and my good, good, good friend, who is as close to family as someone can be without sharing DNA. The painting rests on the corner of my desk so I could look at it and feel warm about all my wonderful memories of trips to that city.

Oh yes, the monuments, mosques, museums were wonderful reflecting the country's rich history.

There was nothing to develop a sense of continuity with the past, like standing in the seed shop, surrounded by bags and bags of different seeds/nuts and realizing I was on Straight Street, the same Straight Street written on the pages in the Bible.

But my best memories are of the welcome of my friend's family and friends: memories of sitting around drinking cardamon-flavoured matte through silver straws and nibbling seeds and sharing lives; memories making cookies in a courtyard as the family turtle crawled by; memories of seeing their children larger with each visit.

It is those people, I see in the painting when I glance up from my writing, but now I am swamped with helplessness and worry and a bit of guilt that I am not in an environment where tanks and shooting can be a part of daily life.

It is the price of caring about those in another culture brought home by the daily news. National events have personal consequences and currently the price is much too high for those that are living there, not in a painting, but in a country where the future is violent.

May they all be safe.

living in fireplaces

When something goes wrong with equipment, I usually deal with it by trying to fix it, failing and crying. Then I call for help.

My housemate, however, has a different method. She works at it and until it is fine. Thus when the damper in the chimney fell down, there she was in plastic covering putting it back. It took a little time, but she did it.

I'm impressed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tollund Man

I thought I knew the man on the bus. He wore a cap, had a beaked nose, a stubbly beard and high cheek bones. At the same time his dress and manner were not indicative of someone I would run into socially.

Then it hit me. In the 1950s National Geographic wrote about the Tollund Man, a male so well preserved that at first when his body was discovered, police thought they had a recent murder. He had been hung. Tollund Man has been carbon dated between 200-300 BC. The man on the bus, could have been the Tollund Man's identical twin.

As a child for weeks after reading the article, I had nightmares about the peatman coming to get me, but as a child, I was also convinced that King Kong was hovering outside my window ready to carry me to New York. It didn't take much for me to be scared in the dark.

Maybe I'll leave the night light on tonight just in case, Tollund Man comes back around 3 a.m.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


One of the Geneva hotels has a wonderful brunch. I treated my housemate as a thank you for all she does for me. This is what I can remember was available and I'm sure I've forgotten half.

three kinds of salmon
three kinds of white fish
two kinds of shrimp
green beans
carrot salad
cabbage salad
misc. greens
misc. pates (meat and veggie)
potato salad
red caviar
black caviar
olives (different kinds)
chacuterie (ham, beef, etc.)
eggs scrambled
roast beef
steak tartar
salmon tartar
roasted potatoes

All kinds of little cakes
A fountain with melted chocolate and mangoes, grapefruit, pineapple and melon for dipping. The waiter caught us playing making it flow in different ways when we held our fruit in it too long.

It was breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maybe even for tomorrow.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Between the below freezing temperatures and the bise throwing the water out of the lake the ice in places is nearly a foot thick. I love winter...

A new meaning for throne

In our family we used to refer to the toilet as the throne. My ex considered the toilet the reading room and would often respond "one more chapter" if I knocked on the door as he used the throne.

Thus at a friend's (who will remain anonymous) I found this most throne-like throne. The friend explained when they bought the house, they found a gold toilet, sink and bathtub, that was so over the top, so kitsch, that they couldn't replace it.


Even the fixtures on the sink were OTT.

If I bought a house with a golden throne, I too would keep them. Only, I would try and find some kind of crown to give to guests when they used the facilities. It makes answering nature's call an experience rather than a function.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Vienna trip

Cold, cold, cold, but wonderful. My writing mate and my housemate braved it all to visit museums, coffee houses and just talk.

We attended a concert put on by the Chinese embassy.

Our overnight train ride was complete with complimentary wine, kiwi, multi-course breakfast.

One of the Hundertwasser houses.

Hot chocolate with amaretto and chocolate truffe torte

A sign at the Hundertwasser café

Sandwich buffet. Each one cost a euro with a tiny, tiny stein of beer

The little house where we stayed.