Wednesday, January 30, 2013



I'm breathing again. Over the past few months, something I'd attributed to a lingering chest cold and cough had made me breathe harder and harder. Going up stairs left me almost panting.

On my regular cancer check, I mentioned it to the doctor. She suggested perhaps it was asthma?


Other people have asthma. I don't.

She ignored me and prescribed an inhaler.

I followed the directions, turn right, turn left, wait for the click, exhale, inhale, rinse mouth.

I felt nothing, tasted nothing. I tried again. Nothing.

We finally called No. 2 Son who uses the same inhaler and he explained it to me.

This morning I went back to the pharmacy. In Switzerland the pharmacist can do a lot more than American pharmacists. They give all kinds of info.

One of the young women behind the counter gave me the same directions as I was given yesterday.

"But I didn't feel anything or taste anything?" I said.

The other woman said, "You won't. I use the same thing, but trust me, it works."

I did, went home and twisted, clicked, exhaled, inhaled, rinsed.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm...for the first time in months I'm breathing normally. I barely coughed all day.

We may have something here.

I read up on asthma and they did say there might be a connection to an esophagus problem the same problem with which I've scared my friends from time to time as I writhe in pain.

So maybe the doctor was right...asthma...

I want to tell my body to behave itself. Be good lungs Stop with these tricks, okay?


My spam used to be all about Viagra, university degrees, cheap mortgage loans, and a chance to bank money from some African who had inherited but needed a temporary place for his loot to rest, etc. 

When empty my spam box these days, I noticed I've been upgraded and getting spam from Jennifer Anniston, Oprah, Anne Hathaway.

Didn't open those spam either. if Anniston, Oprah or Hathaway want to talk to me, let them drop by the house. I'll give them tea and cookies.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Wolf Moon

"Come see the moon," My housemate said. She was in her bedroom getting dressed this morning. I walked across the hall.

This is a wolf moon, the first full moon of the year. I watched it drop into the Jura and the sky slowly lose its pink glow.

Was there were a better way to start the day? I doubt it, and even if there were, I'm happy with this one.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The second key has been handed out

To get new house keys, my house mate wanted recipients to do something creative. Son No. 1 earned his key with this submission.

Key Short Story:

This is the story of a honkey tonkey boy from Kentuckey who was very keyne on visiting the Florida Keys.

To this effect he purchased a donkey, some turkey jerkey, and chocolate chip cookeys that were chunkey for his journey.

When the boy finally arrived he met the keyper of the everglades whose name was Joe and Joe was living by a den of crankey alligators.

This curious boy asked Joe: Is it true that alligators are stickey?

Joe answered: Malarkey! Go down to the den, keyp calm, don’t get into any monkey business with the alligators and see for yourself.

Even though it was riskey and somewhat trickey, the boy went down to the den to touch an alligator. The boy was a little shakey, friskey and not to cockey but in the end he was luckey because the alligator let him keyp all his pinkeys.

The boy thought to himself : okey dokey, that wasn’t stickey, maybe a little ickey but definitely not stickey.

After that experience Joe took the boy out to water skey and brought him to Disney where they met Mickey. The boy was very happy and a little weary after a long day so they went back to Joe’s house to watch a game of hockey with two keytties on their laps. The boy ate a keylo of keywis and Joe drank a shitload of Whiskey!

The endJ

Shopping phobic

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm shopping phobic. Every second in a store, is stolen from my life where I could be doing a million other things.

However, today I passed a shoe store and I do need a pair of chocolate brown flats. In under 7 mins. I was in and out of that store with the flats.

Then at Manora I had several missions:
  • Buy red hair colour to maintain my  er "natural" colour
  • Pick up a surprise gife for housemate
  • Find the fabric for the Aug. 10 commitment ceremony.

Did it all in under 27 mins and that include three lines at the cash register.

Hopefully won't need to do any more shopping in the near future.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Down with A companies

Amazon and American Express.

I wanted to order the Wizard of Oz from Amazon UK. I used my American Express.

A message came back that the card was declined.

Two days later I get my AMex bill by email showing the charge for the Wizard of Oz.

I write Amazon. They say they have no record of me under the email I gave them, the same email I've used for all my orders in the UK and the US for over a decade.

I answer. After all if they are trying to solve a problem, there should be someone to pick up the customer's response right?


I get an automatic reply telling me where to click next.

I click and fill in the form.

They say they have no record of any contact with me at all.

A stands for other words as well A--h--e

Fill in the blanks. Or maybe it is me for trying to do business with them. Meanwhile I've printed out the email saying that the American Express charge was declined by Amazon and mailed it with my AMex bill.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Skeletons and typos

I finished the final proofing of my novel Murder in Paris due out in April this morning at 6:38. This has been the ninth proofing by five people. I still found six errors, albeit some small such as " marks before a non quote.

Another was a little worse. One character had two names in the same chapter. How did everyone, including myself, miss that? Or did someone else pick it up and I miss their correction?

I'm in love with the cover, especially the skeleton under the Paris street (no story spoiler of why) but that photo is the work of my talented housemate. The skeleton was one of many found, along with others, under the under-under-floor of the the 13th century church in our little commune.

Archeologists guess it was a seventh-century cemetery. What intrigued me about this skeleton, was that it was huge, probably almost seven-feet tall. That person lived in the days when people were small and basketball players did not exist. Because of the size, I assume it was a man just like the small skeleton with a baby found at the same time was a mother and child. I also wondered how sad the people were who laid that person to rest sometime in the 600s.

When walking around Corsier, I realise that I'm only the latest of centuries of people to enjoy the views of the Alps, Jura and lake. Others lived, laughed, cried and died here long before and if we don't destroy ourselves, long after me. Most probably never worried about typos.

You can take the girl out of Scotland

But you can't take Scotland out of the girl.

Thus when my daughter moved from Edinburgh Scotland to Geneva last week she came with vegetable and meat Haggis (those round things on the table) and informed us we were having Robert Burns night.

Despite my English university major I didn't remember much about the poet, but thanks to Wikipedia my memory was tweaked. We each read a Burn poem.

I chose Address to a Haggis, my daughter A Winter's Night. My housemate searched desperately for a poem she had read at another Robert Burns night long ago on her iPad. Finally she located one, but in English translation. Guess which one was understood?

Expats will understand

those who have never lived in another country, might think it a bit weird when at Christmas everyone gave everyone else Crest original formula toothpaste. The recipients were thrilled.


Crest original formula is next to impossible to find in Switzerland. Usually it is necessary to ask a US-based visitor or a US traveller to bring it back, something with weight restrictions, one doesn't like to do often.

Since we all like Crest, the thoughtfullness was appreciated. But we all had a good giggle as we opened the identical presents.

Having just squeezed the last from my old precious tube, I'm ready to start in on my Crest cache...

Friday, January 25, 2013

ho ho ho and a happy birthday

Last night was our last Christmas celebration to share the season with the stragglers that weren't at the other Christmas events as well as celebrating my daughter's and No. 2 son's girlfriend birthday.

Loved the candles.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Red roseI love the bank where my business account is. There is one teller, a heavy-set woman with a huge smile. She has her nails done in designs, and today's were miniature roses.

We always exchange more than greetings, and when I told her I was engaged, her smile made the indoor lighting unnecessary.

Interestingly enough I had the same reaction from many at the Geneva Writers Group. Disbelief, more because of the fact that I was so happily single, then who-would-want-her reactions.

Some women have said I give them hope where I assume they mean they too might day find their soul mate. I may be generous, but I've no desired to share mine since it took us so many decades to come together.

If my happiness makes others happy, that's just another plus.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Career choices

Now that my daughter is in Geneva to continue her job search having finished her job along with her UK Visa, I had an idea.

A scientist is looking for a woman to carry a Neanderthal clone.

I saw great potential in books, movie rights, etc.

She was not impressed.

Kids just don't have any imagination these days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


As a person who did marketing and PR for years and still do in a way with CU Newswire, I appreciate the need to survey to help make wise decisions.

However, I loved this survey method found in the toilet at Cointrin airport in Geneva. When you dry your hands you can push one of three buttons to indicated your satisfaction, neutrality or dissatisfaction with the toilet.

I've done a lot of surveying in my day...this is the best one I've seen.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ashes contain memories

Munchkin’s ashes are in an ivory-coloured box with a small green label. The box is on the forest green cloth on the large table in the winter garden about where she used to lie in sunbeams. This is not their final destination, but will do until a decision is reached.

Yesterday, I touched the box although she is not there any more than she was not there after the final shot and she lay on the vet’s table.

Her presence is still in the house. I find myself not putting clothes on the laundry room floor because she had a nasty habit, expecting to see her dash down the street when she knows I’m coming home and it is time to come in. Her photo comes up on my laptop peeking in the window, and I wish so much I could watch the tree shake as she makes her way down it to rush into the house and look at food dish and walk away.

Animals die. People die. 

I remember my mother’s ashes. My mother was my enemy much of my adult life, although when I was a child she did much right. I remember a friend saying when I complained about her, “She didn’t’ ruin your life and you’re stronger either because or in spite of her.” She was right. Years after her death I was able to let the good memories in, but a poem Scattering her Ashes was the start of the healing.

Clumps of sodden earth
cling to our boots.
The forest whispers,
A brook, too full
falling over itself.
A bird
trills a prayer for
no more rain.

My brother, carrying the
cardboard carton,
goes first.
As he pushed through brush
he forgets to hold a branch.
It hits me like another
forty years ago
in a different wood.

We come to a meadow
with last year’s grass
engraved in mud.
He lays the carton
on the ground.

Inside, a plastic bag.
We each take a corner.
The wind catches the powder,
lifts and plays creating
a mini cloud
too close to earth.

I think
how much power
that ash once held,
how little power now.
we walk back
in our ancient silences.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Playing with snow

Two Asian-looking men, probably in their mid to late thirties, were standing at the Intercontinental No. 5 Bus stop, which has a shelter.

Both were inside, but they kept sticking out their ungloved hands to catch the snow flakes oohing and aahhing over their size, shape, coldness.

They did not miss the 45-50°C degrees in their home country and bemoaned the fact that Australia has become so hot this year that it was necessary to add another color to register temperature for over 50° -- purple.

"Too much purple," one said, as the other let a flake land on him. "This is the biggest yet."

The other admired the flake.

I'm not sure if they had more pleasure in the act than I had in watching their little.boy joy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Chaucer prof, Argelès neighbour and research

In researching Anglo Saxon times for my next novel, I've had to dig deeper than usual. Unlike other historical periods awash with information, I had to forage. Those damned Anglo Saxons just didn't leave as many records as were left from other periods.

My Argelès neighbour who lives in Ely, the site of the novel, showed me a book that her husband had given her. She was the one who encouraged me to make my next novel Murder In Ely.

Prime the trumpets of joy.

I had names that led me to more information which led to more. I had a place to look for personalities, battles, marriages, etc. which also led to photos of masks and sketches of houses that were thought to be representative of the times.

Youtube had some documentaries on the period giving me a bit more.

Then when I got back to Geneva there was a box of books from the US waiting for me.

Backstory coming up...

At university I had a Chaucer professor, a man from Glasgow, who when he read Chaucer aloud it was so beautiful I could have cried. Many years later in a Washington D.C. restaurant this time with his wife and my daughter I encouraged him to quote some lines in Middle English, and my daughter later said that I hadn't exaggerated about the beauty of the sound of his voice rippling over the words written so long ago in the seed of our current tongue. (She also told me after her pediatrician told her the facts of life "You did know what you were talking about" and maybe now that she's in her 40s she'll realize that maybe mom knew a bit about a few things.)

Although my prof's period was later, I asked him for help.

The box of books were from him. Each one had something in it I can use on things like kinship, the effects of religion, etc.

Although I'm dealing with a real character and some of her life turned up in Bede and other documents, to write a fiction work I needed more details of daily life, relationships, etc. Most of my readers won't know if I'm inaccurate unless I do something really dumb like have an Anglo Saxon check his GPS on the way to battle. However, I'll know.

I have enough to start writing this section of my mystery.

I did get a good grade in my Chaucer course. I'm glad the Chaucer prof is still in my life, because he's a fascinating human being in so many ways beyond books to the rescue...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The mundane hasn't got to be

Granted it is no fun to be robbed. It is less fun to have to replace locks. However, one of the reasons I love my life in Geneva that things that the mundane and the-not-so-nice can be made fun.

Sent to me, number 1 and 2 sons and No. 2 son's girlfriend upon the creation of a new lock and key for the damaged front door.

Object : To all writers and wanna-be writers

Or even those who could care less...

Attached is a precious object: to recuperate one, you need to write me something witty!


Can you believe - at this moment I am the ONLY one to be able to enter 15, chemin du Port! I am the Queen of the pile, the Princess of the Pea.

Roomie, Friend, Mom

I wanted a key so I answered with a haiku
Key, donkey, monkey
keyhole, key message, lost keys
Can I have one please?????
It worked because housemate answered with

A house on a road, 
A door in the house 
A keyhole in the door 

I am in generous mode 
You are better than a mouse 
Yes, you may, have a key to the door

Robert Frost, Wadsworth, Longfellow may not be worrying about their reputations in poet heaven from our attempts, but as I put the new key on my keyring, it was a lot more fun that someone saying.."and here's your new key."

The others haven't "earned" their keys yet. 

The orange was late

During almost every train ride I take, someone peels and eats an orange. The smell fills the car. It is wonderful.

This time no orange in the eight hour journey.

But when I caught the trolley someone was peeling an orange.



To save 30 Euros, I found myself at the Argelès train station at 6 a.m. to exchange my wonderful life in Argelès for my wonderful life in Geneva and promptly fell asleep only to wake in Narbonne and find a snow-covered world.

I love snow, something my father thought was a curse God sent him with each flake. Guess in that I didn't get his DNA.

The ride up is always wonderful as the flat south changes for the mountain countryside as we get closer to the Swiss border.
In Lyon when I exchanged trains  I bought a mortagnard sandwich (smoked meat and cheese on wonderful bread) and a tarlette au chocolat. It was also breakfast.

Than back to Geneva...sigh...happiness is...all of it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


In April I will visit my friend and former colleague in Schwyz along with her husband and daughter. In her last email she said she had a friend who lived in Reading on Forrest Street. Did I know it.

Know it?

It was around the corner from my Grove Street home.

On a visit back a couple of years ago I had ridden down both streets. The houses were the same.

Mable Fairclough's, my grandmother's friend, still perched on the hill. Her husband used to leave nails pointed up on boards to stop the cat from jumping on the windowsills. She died in a car crash after surviving another.

And Daisy Hodges with the huge bust and sweat smell, her house was still there. Her husband Ben took the photograph I still have of myself sitting on a piano bench covered with a red tapestry. My shoes are red with straps, although the photo is black and white.

There's Jeff Smith's house, one of a series of Cape Cods built after WWII. He sometimes went with me when I took photos in my job as a cub reporter for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune.

Maisie Tucker was a recluse who lived next door. She was a recluse, but the house two years ago looked like it could be a design magazine.

The Horne's house was the first one built on land we sold. I dated their son, just back from Germany. He took me to see an Army buddy, whose wife warned me as she changed diapers not to marry young. My life would be over.

Or the Bronk house. Their son Bunky was born on my birthdate on year later. We once wore yellow brother and sister outfits at a shared birthday party.

My house is gone, although the Robert Frost stone wall and the pine grove are still there, along with the boulders where I used to play.

No one who lives in those houses now have any idea of the lives lived before them. All the people I mentioned led full lives. Some may still be alive. I don't know. Their grandchildren or maybe even great grandchildren are now living lives in different houses.

When I was growing up I wanted nothing more than to escape Reading. I wanted to be what I am today, a writer, journalist living in Europe. It took a long time to escape, but as the email from my friend in Schwyz jogged my memory, I realised, I haven't escaped at all. That healthy childhood stayed with me. It was Reading that escaped me.

Bizarre Dream

Richard Quest invited me to share his room in a 7 star hotel in Dubai. It was huge. First we had a wonderful meal and looked out the windows onto the city. Of course we had separate beds.

In the morning when I went to take my shower there were two women in their,  both hotel employees, one to hand me my towel, and one to give me toilet paper when I finished each operation.

I wore a red paisley address bought in Massachusetts years ago.

While we eating breakfast at a long table with Richard and someone he knew up against the wall, the two men started discussing a business deal, but they didn't want CNN to know. So they got up and left. Richard said he'd see me back at the hotel at dinner time.

I started talking to the woman next to me who had short blond hair and was from Boston area. She said nasty things about my old area of Boston and I realised she was from one of the more snobby suburbs.

As I left planning to go to the room, I realised not only did not have a key I didn't know the room number. I sat in the lobby wondering how I would ever convince anyone to give me a key to a room where I wasn't registered with no identification. I'd left everything in the room.

The worst part was that I had no book to read and without any money, I was going to have to spend the entire day in the lobby.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Cat on a cold tile roof

With apologies to Tennessee Williams.

This is my view when I'm writing in Argelès. For years, I've watched birds land and hop over the tiles. Often it is just pigeons, but other species arrive.

Now this cat patrols the roof daily. I've no idea how s/he gets up there, but I know, since I've seen the cat on the street that it is not trapped.

Funny the birds no longer land there.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


The new year has gotten off to a wonderful start. After three years of trying, my stepmom will finally have a place in the Veteran's Home. She was a Navy Wave in WWII.

Knowing she'll be safe, that she won't our live her money makes for a happier new year than anyone can imagine who hasn't been in the position of being far away from a loved one who needs constant supervision and one cannot provide it.

Doing the best you can only removes half the guilt.