Monday, October 29, 2012

A voice for peace

Almost 12 years ago Saudi and Egyptian individuals boarded three planes. Using box cutters they managed to kill about 3,000 people from 82 countries.

In retaliation the US has spent trillions of dollars in attacking countries Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The death toll, theirs and the US’s is unknown but far greater than the original.

The dying goes on. Children are being born mutilated in Iraq likely caused by the uranium depleted bullets.

Soldiers are thanked by a grateful nation.

Congress refused to pass a job bills to help returning veterans showing their gratitude.

The Veterans Administration takes months or years to give veterans the help they need upping the already high suicide rate for returning veterans showing their gratitude.

Americans are told that the terrorists hate the US freedoms, but the government took away Habeas Corpus from Americans in the Patriot Act and the NDAA.

Americans now have no freedom from government spying.

Americans stand to lose things like SS, Medicare etc., but defense continues to grow. The US military budget is the largest in the world and almost larger than the rest of the world combined. The second largest military budget is Australia, obviously a great danger to the US. Maybe they should put those tanks on planes to protect Americans from box cutters.

America continues to kill civilians in drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Maybe the US would be safer if they stopped terrorising others.

Maybe less mothers, sisters, brothers, children, fathers would not mourn the loss of their loved ones if the US worked as hard for peace as it does for death. Maybe the money not spent on killing others might be used to help its own citizens.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fantasy day

When it was hot during the summer, I fantasized today.

We woke to a wind where the trees bent over and the garden furniture took short flights. The lake is dressed in white caps.

I'm dressed in sweat pants and my Napier University sweat shirt, drinking a cup of Maine blueberry tea, a gift from visitors. More tea to come.

Plans include a Sunday brunch of eggs, bacon, roesti and coffee. There are rumours that brownies will be made.

Munchkin asked to go out but backed up when we opened the door and headed for the basement kitty litter muttering.

Fire in the fire place is also on the agenda.

Does it get better than this?


This is also my favourite day of the year when we put the clocks back, although they all read the old time. Around five we will act surprized that today's the day and marvel we've been given an extra hour of life on this wonderful day.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Finder strikes again

I've two pair of bunny/heart pjs. One is pink, the other is lavender. As a colour freak I've matching bed socks and I also try to colour co-ordinate any undershirts worn on cold nights. These pjs are thick flannel, perfect for snuggling under the covers.

Coming back from Edinburgh tired and with a miserable cold, I put on one pair and climbed into my preheated bed. Only in the morning did I discover I had a lavender bottom and pink top. Rainbow meltdown.

When I looked into my closet, which for once was in perfect order having arranged it before leaving for the UK, I couldn't find the match. I checked laundry, undid and redid the closet.

The only thing left to do was to call in ... wait... imagine trumpets


The Finder, aka my housemate, does not wear special tights, capes, masks. Nor does she rush into telephone booths to change (what will Superman do now that mobile phones are doing away with phone boxes?). Her reputation is legend with holding up lost rings, watches, glasses, underwear, even money unable to miss her eagle search light. Dressed in her regular slacks, top and neck scarf, she went to work going through the places I'd searched.

She also has the technique of asking questions that would do a detective proud.

Then she started tearing apart my bed.

Voilà. The missing bottom that I had kicked of when I became too hot in the middle of the night and under my pillow the missing top that I had put there to wear again and had forgotten in the interim of my UK stay.

And the best part of The Finder. She only laughs about it not at me.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Edinburgh cow

No self respecting Swiss cow would ever be in this position.


Damn. There was a white line on my camera. The tour Llara and I took to the Isle of Skye stopped so we could capture the rugged landscape.

I moved the camera and the white line disappeared.

Then I moved it again and it reappeared.

I showed Llara. "A Scottish ghost."

"Nah..." I said. I snapped the photo at the white shape which was no longer a straight line but a soft wavy glow. IT did not appear.

"Weird," I said.

"A ghost," Llara said.

My kid did it

I know it is blurry, but that's my kid walking across the stage at Usher Hall in Edinburgh on her way to pick up her "parchment" that says she has a Master of Science in Human Resources. Me proud. You betcha.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


The see-your breath temperature is a pleasure after the too hot summer as I wait for the pre-dawn bus to take me into the city. When it comes it is filled with a few businessmen trying to beat colleagues into the office and high school kids on their way to the Lycée founded by Jean Calvin 500+ years ago.

The curriculum is modernized from the old Latin, Greek, Bible and Hebrew of Calvin’s time. One sun-bleached blond teenager sits in the aisle, her notebook on her lap finishing her math homework by copying answers from long exercises onto a single sheet. I’m always impressed by the notebook system of French schools and how neat the work is.

The lake is changing colour from dark gray to light gray as the bus passes it. The Jet d’Eau is not on yet.
I’ve allowed time to try a Pumpkin Spice Latté and pumpkin muffin at Starbucks before my appointment. I read the Tribune de Genève, finding the plans to substitute train service in some areas with buses and the story of a robber who dressed as a bank employee complete with badge allowing him code access, interesting.

“24 juillet 1942” I tell the receptionist at La Maternité. I know the drill. I’m a birthdate more than a patient.

“Follow the yellow line, first floor.” She hands me a sheet of labels coded with my medical history.

I don’t have long to wait. 

“Pourquoi six mois?” The technician asks after telling me to strip to the waist.

I tell her that I’m not taking the after-cancer medication, which is why I allow my breasts to be pressed into rectangles twice a year as a compromise. I don’t regret my decision. My joints no longer ache and morning sicknesses at my age was unwelcomed. The survival stats with my type of cancer, my stage, my treatment were not that different for those that followed the plan and those that did not.

The pressing over the doctor tells me I’m clean. Although I had a thermographie last month telling me the same thing, I’m relieved. A routine worry niggles at strange times.

On the way home I get off a couple of stops before mine to walk by the vineyards and watch the pickers with their metal baskets on their backs. The vendage is far from completed with many of the vines still heavy with grapes. A truck heaped to the brim with purple fruit is parked to the side and one of the pickers adds his bounty to the pile.

The lake is now in full colour. The leaves are yellowing, not the brilliant colours of my native New England but beautiful.

It is 10:45 and each moment of my morning has been filled with tiny delights and I’m so grateful for the Swiss medical system. I’m so grateful for being alive and able to be surrounded by so many sensations.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Surprize rainbow

Both my housemate and I had what the French call a white night. She's jet lagged from her flight from California. I slept hard for an hour and woke and couldn't fall back. Thus sleep alluded both of us.

In the morning we staggered into the hall between our rooms to exchange greeting grunts rather than our usual cheery "good mornings".

We did accomplish our usual morning tasks, let the cat out, let the cat in, make breakfast. 

I was starting my writing at my work station in my bedroom and she came back upstairs to get dressed. 

She called me to come quick. I crossed the hall into her bedroom and looked out over the lake. 

The Jura were hidden in gray clouds, but breaking through in the upper left hand of the sky was a 20% piece of a rainbow.

Who needs the pot of gold at the end? 

Not us.

Colour conversation

Her dark long hair and deep brown eyes reminded me of No. 2 son's girl friend as I sat down on the bench beside her to wait for the No. 5 bus.

What I also noticed even more were her beautiful mauve boots. I couldn't help but compliment her on them. Since French was both our second language we switched to English.

"I saw them in a store and it was a done deal," she said. "In Geneva everything is so gray."

We looked around. 95% of the cars were gray or black. Almost everyone had on gray or black clothes.

We spied one little boy in a sky blue sweat shirt and a woman in a hot pink jacket. Those were the only colours on the street.

I told her my theory that Geneva, Genève, Genf, gray, gris, grau all start with "g" for a reason. She nodded.

The number 10 tram came and she hoped on and I watched her mauve boots disappear as the doors closed behind her.

If I'd seen those boots it would have been a done deal too.

Monday, October 01, 2012


I love this newsletter with lots of tips on saving money. I've enjoyed 
my European Christmases with each person trying to give one thoughtful gift.
But I loved this idea.
My Story: Recycled Christmas
contributed by Lorrie
How one family changed their Christmas
Frugal and green living has always been important to me. An
area that used to concern me for both reasons was the
Christmas gift-giving process. The insane obsession of finding
the right gifts (and lots of them) and then watching the huge
pile of discarded Christmas wrapping paper grow made me crazy.
So, a few years back, I decided to offer a new idea to my
grown children (now with little ones of their own). Everyone
agreed to holding our first "Recycled Christmas."
The rules of the "Recycled Christmas" were as follows:
1. All gifts had to be pre-owned or made from
recycled/recyclable materials in some way. It was okay if
someone purchased a new, even unopened item from a yard or
other secondhand sale or store. Items that came from a natural
source, such as honey, jams or jellies made from wild or
homegrown sources, nuts picked from a tree, dried herbs, etc.
were all just fine. They were especially good if they were
packaged in secondhand jars or other containers. Craft items
made from recycled items were also acceptable.
2. Each person was required to submit a list of items that
they would be okay with receiving from pre-used sources. This
list needed to be available sometime before the end of summer
(to allow for yard/garage sale purchases). Like the entire
"Recycled Christmas" idea, gift selection is more time
consuming than the traditional "run into the store and grab
something" method, as it requires really giving thought to the
person you are giving. My feeling on the time investment is
that thinking about my loved one and their interests and likes
is an important part of the process. So, I don't mind
investing a bit of extra time (plus, I love yard sales!). I
also found that I was able to streamline my time expenditure
by using eBay, Etsy, and other such online services.
3. All gifts must be packaged in containers that were made
from recycled materials and/or were recyclable. Gift bags
could be made of any type of recycled fabric (pretty
pillowcases tied at the top with ribbon don't require any
sewing and are great for larger packages). Any type of jar or
tin could be used (I especially like popcorn cans because they
are pretty and stackable for storage). Wrapping paper could be
made out of decorated paper bags, newspaper, or brown packing
paper. Gallon metal cans, decorated with ribbon or paint,
could be turned into buckets and covered with recycled tissue
paper from other gifts. Even kitty litter buckets could be
decorated to serve as great wrappers.
4. During the holiday gift-giving gathering, we would all
share where and how we got great deals on items that were
purchased, traded for, and sometimes even found for free. Now,
I know it is not traditional to reveal such secrets, but this
part of the process helped us to realize how we can be quite
frugal and earth-friendly while still giving great gifts that
people really want. It also  allowed us each to share lots of
creative ideas.
As we set out on our "Recycled Christmas" idea, each family
could set a budget for how much they would spend per person
and then buy gifts accordingly (something anyone on a budget
should do anyway). The other option was to simply try to find
the best deal on a special gift for each person (and maybe
save a little money in the process). For our first "Recycled
Christmas," we all pretty much went with the first idea, which
resulted in us all (there were seven of us at the time)
spending over four hours opening gifts. Everyone got lots of
things they wanted, but it turned out to be a bit
overwhelming. The next year, we opted to go with the second
idea of just looking for a nice gift at the best price
possible. This was more fun and resulted in some really
creative thinking.
Creativity flourished with our "Recycled Christmas." There
have been great buys from yard sales, flea markets,
Craigslist, etc., including CDs and DVDs, an entire set of
depression glass, lots of tools (and toolbox), fishing gear, a
vintage breadbox, great clothing, Wii games and accessories, a
television wall mount, books, and lots of toys. Our families'
crafting skills rendered lovely aprons and dish towels from
recycled fabrics, functional coupon holders (with coupons
including some for free items), homemade beeswax candles in
baby food jars, and Italian-themed artwork. My daughter even
made stockings for each family member that reflected that
persons interests from recycled shirts or sweaters. Some gifts
have been traded for, resulting in no expense whatsoever, such
as an entire set of cast iron cookware (skillets for my
daughter-in-law and a Dutch oven and griddle for me from our
wish lists) for a set of DVDs. This summer, an end of the day
yard sale allowed me to get a huge lot of Thomas the Train
engines, cards, and tracks in a nice Rubbermaid bin for $5.
This allowed for me to prepare a wonderful gift for one of our
grandsons and sell the excess pieces on eBay (to help pay for
this and other gifts). Other freebies have come from "curb
alerts," including a barely used paper shredder and electric
ice cream maker.
Now, I know that this idea isn't for everyone, but if your
family will buy in, it can save everyone money and result in
some really enjoyable holiday experiences for all, while
caring a bit more for our planet.