Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My new portrait

Normally I care about what photos of me look like. OK, I admit it--I'm vain. I know I don't look 20 or even 50 but I want to be at my best which means my hair is in place, my face looks thin, etc.

Yesterday, I had my check-up after surgery with my Swiss German surgeon. He could qualify as a McDreamy in any TV doctor show. Add to that a sense of humour and helpfulness.

We did the appointment in English. He has the type of accent that one would wonder what Anglophone country he comes from and if guesses were unlimited, Bern, Switzerland would never, ever show up. Although almost all my cancer treatment two years ago and almost 99% of my medical appointments are in French, being in my mother tongue for this was comforting.

The good news is I'm healing just fine...any tiredness, blood and numbness (no comments please) are normal and if anything the numbness that once covered most of the right side of my face is receding  faster than he would have expected.

I told him I would have loved to watch the surgery on anyone other than myself. He was more than happy to give me details. Thanks to Zimmy, Dr. Helen Zimmerman, my high school anatomy teacher, I didn't need to ask for definitions or deeper explanations.

Between the demonstration skull and my X-Ray above I could count each little screw and see where it anchored the plate to knit my chips and fragments together.  He printed out the X-ray on a Power Point presentation, which Rick has scanned and circled in pink to show up better on this blog.

While making an appointment in September for a final check up the other surgeons I'd chatted with before the surgery, were all standing around the secretary's desk. She is a new bride and bubbly. The chef of surgery said it was too bad that there was no blue to match my dress for Rick's and my ceremony coming up. Dr. Stonefire said there was a little yellow, maybe I could buy a different dress. They all remembered the date.

Surgeons are supposed to have the reputation of being cold and uncaring and all the want to do is cut, cut, cut.

These three forgot to read The Grouchy, Uncaring Surgeon Manual. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Where do butterflies go when it rains

Rick stood outside my bedroom door and asked as I was working on my novel in a burst of energy.

He pointed out how delicate they were. If touching a butterfly wing can fatally damage it what would a sudden rainstorm do?

Some must have survived the violent storms of the last couple of days because they are flitting around the garden.

A new question. What will they do for flower landings after he mows the grass for our Aug. 1 party?


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Scooby goes on holiday

"I never go anywhere," Scooby complained. He takes his job as mascot for Llara very seriously and since she went to Argelès he has had nothing to do. 

"Don't be silly." I reminded him she'd taken him to Mannheim, Washington DC, Boston, Edinbourgh, and Geneva.

He was still pouting. "I only stay home in all those places. BOOOOOOOOOOORRRING."

Then an opportunity came up for him to go on holiday while Llara was away. I packed a small bag for him and he hopped in the car. He had the Tribune de Genève to read, although I doubted he would be bored on route. The scenery is too beautiful.

He didn't ask where he was going. He'll know when he gets there.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What a way to spend a birthday

"Happy birthday to you," the song was sung in full by the anesthetist and his Australian assistant--or I think in full -- as I went under.

The operation they estimated would take 3 hours took 36 minutes. Up until the last strains of "...birthday to you." I was thinking of backing out, but in retrospect since that they found bone chips floating around near my eye, it is a good thing I didn't.

I'm still in love with HUG...

Patrick the first nurse assigned to me up to Angelina the last were wonderful. My 84 year old roommate recovering from cancer and an embolism was an inspiration.

They weren't sure which doctor would operate because of the emergencies but all came to see me before so I would know them. They all told me the same story of what they would do to me, which built confidence. At the end it was the Swiss German of Serbian descent. Dr. Stonefire, the original surgeon scheduled and who'd been operating all night explained he felt too tired to do a good job but wanted to reassure me about the competencies of his colleagues. I wasn't worried about that.

Every time I went from one doctor or nurse to another I had to give my name and birthdate which they checked against my name bracelet and the folders they had. This is good. A guarantee they would not operate on my knee instead of my face.

But then Patrick had put an X on my right cheek. Rick asked if he could draw a complete treasure map.

Anyway, it's over. I'm home but with amazing little energy and also almost no pain. Just looking like a lopsided chipmunk. Maybe Chip and Dale want a friend.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Skeleton thoughts

I've scheduled two book readings in September and this morning I was thumbing through Murder in Paris trying to decide what to read.

When reading from a mystery it is always a challenge to select something that will entice readers to buy the book without spoiling the story.

Rather than make a selection, I couldn't stop looking at the cover. The skeleton photo was taken by my talented housemate. It had been unearthed from our commune church's sub-sub floor during a renovation.

The skeleton had died over 1300 years ago when Corsier was much different...woods and fields. He had been buried almost six centuries before the church was built over him and the other skeletons that were found.

When he died, he could never have imagined what life would have been like in 2013. At that time, he probably couldn't read, although if he were one of the Romans traipsing through the area, maybe he could have.

However, the idea of a mass produced book in pre-printing press times would have been beyond comprehension as would a photograph of his skeleton. There was no way he could have envisioned that the photo of his skeleton would also be available to anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world.

I'd love to know more about him. Was he a Roman soldier, a local farmer, married, father? What did Corsier look like to him? The nearby grave to his with a woman and baby, were they his wife and child? What were his dreams, his hopes?

Of course, I'll never know the answers to these questions just as he'll never know that part of him would be visible to the world centuries after his death.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lush summer lunchtimes

The French country side is so lush. Between the rain and heat every thing is so green. Grapes, corn and other unidentifiable crops are pushing their way up. The major hail storm that destroyed so much in Geneva, didn't make it across the border.

Each village has planted do many flowers that eyes almost get tired looking at all the colours.

Although the original idea was to look at couches in France and afterwards eat at the Chinese buffet, sheer summer laziness and the fact that both my housemate and I were writing so well, gave way to just the idea of going to France for just the buffet.

Compared to my first Chinese buffet in Florida near my stepmom's house, this buffet has about 25% of the offerings. Still there is far more that anyone person can possibly eat. For me the treats are noodles, shrimp, noodles, onion rings, noodles, veggies, noodles, chicken wings, noodles, onion rings, noodles, rice and did I say noodles.

My housemate has a different set of priorities, but we still find room from dessert.

Although it is not Chinese, I always go for île flottante (recipe also known as oeufs à la neige. This time I added a small slice of watermelon. Even after several decades I still remember how upset my mother was when my brother and I shot watermelon seeds and they stuck to the kitchen ceiling. Watermelon was banished from the house for the rest of the summer.

Just another of those lovely days.

The interesting parts of doctors appointments

Outside HUG, there's a solar operated trash disposal. When it is full, it calls its home office and the owner comes and empties it.

Doctor's appointments aren't all that fun, but I have to admit this one in an old mansion with antique furniture and gorgeous art work certainly was interesting. My housemate says either Sophia Loren or Audrey Hepburn lived almost next door. I don't know if they used the same doctors.

 The staircase in this medical building called for me to walk down with a long flowing dress. My jeans just didn't make the same impression.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Surgery as birthday present

cropped images,cropped pictures,healthcare,medical equipment,medical instruments,medicine,PNG,stethoscopes,transparent backgrounds

Not that it would be my first choice to have plates put in my face, but if I have to do it, then let's make it as interesting as possible.

Today I was to see the anesthesiologist. J and I decided the best way to do that was to eat at the Mid Eastern Restaurant before hand. She is determined I'm not taking the bus in case I do myself more damage, and for once in my life, I'll be docile.

The doctor was another one of those handsome men just out of kindergarten. English was his second language and French his third, He just came back from Boston and was raving about the city. He'd also been to New York and Washington DC and we agreed that one could live in the Smithsonian and never get bored.

Granted I did 90% of my cancer treatments in French and it's French with my internist, Franglais with my gynie, but I still prefer English. 

I told him the man who delivered my daughter was Hungarian, his nationality, and that his patients were always identifiable because he always made them wear elastic stockings. 

Then onto to see the surgeon just to make sure that the bleeding was normal. His name translated is stonefire. He remembered my ceremony with Rick is the 10th. 

"Your face will still be blue."

"That's okay, there's blue in my dress. I hope you can get it to match if I bring in a sample."

He said he'd do his best. 

So I'm ready for the surgery on my birthday.

It started with

 Product Details
It started with Grey's Anatomy. J and I had the first season of Grey's Anatomy on DVD and when we shut down our computers we would meet in the living room and follow the adventures of  Dreamy and Steamy. Some nights it would be a single episode, sometimes a double and when one ended in a cliff hanger, we would look at each other and say, "One more" even if we had to fight to stay awake.

Then we moved onto Everwood when I found a used DVD set at the American Library sale.

This has been followed by other series, The Good Wife, Brothers and Sisters, Northern Exposure, How I Met your Mother, Monk, etc.

We've reached into the past for Bewitched (never did understand what Samantha saw in Darren), Mary Tyler Moore and Golden Girls.

The latest series we just started this week is Life Begins another library sale find. I'd always liked Caroline Quentin in Jonathan Creek and the 9 CHF price tag didn't seem all that unreasonable.

We're enjoying it. We'll have to get the next two seasons. British series do not go on as long as US ones.

Fawlty Towers only had 12 wonderful episodes. The Vicar of Dibley could have gone on and on in my book, but then again, Dawn French is wonderful in anything she does.

But it is not just the DVDs that make our evenings so enjoyable. Nor is it the sigh of relaxation after a busy work day.

There's a camaraderie of deciding what snack: shrimp, salmon, fois gras, veggies and hummus, olives, cheese, chips, bread sticks, nuts, popcorn (with or without cheddar), toasts, etc., etc., etc. Would it be a tea, wine or champagne night...the last champagne night we added frozen raspberries...celebrating my broken face...a variation of making lemonade out of lemons.

It is the pleasure of being immersed in Meridith, Carol, Samantha's or Maggie's life for a half hour or a couple of hours that put aside bookkeeping or credit union chores, albeit rewarding in their own right.

Years ago when my daughter was still at Boston Latin and we lived on the Riverway in Boston, we had a Sunday night ritual of Murder she Wrote and slightly burned popcorn. It was an experience we recreated in Washington DC when I visited for a month and she had the DVDs of the program. At some point in almost every show, Jessica would say, "I think I know who did it."

That series has become a family joke. I said back then I wanted to be like Jessica--a mystery writer having adventures around the world.

Llara said, the first real body I ran into, it would be straight into the nursing home. When I asked why, she said, "Because it's usually her relatives that get blamed and I'm your relative." I did mention that when I dedicated one of my novels to Llara...

Maybe it is also the dormitory feeling of girls just doing fun things together, sometimes in PJs and giggling over something funny, oohhing over something beautiful, or wiping away a tear when a favourite character dies. Or most likely it is just good friends enjoying something.

Whatever it is, long may it continue.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Patriotic nails

Aug. 1 is the Swiss national day. We’ve been a democracy more or less since 1291, when the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden united to defend the peace upon the death of Emperor Rudolf I of Habsburg. It makes us the world’s second oldest still existing democracy with Iceland beating us having formed their Althing in about 930. Granted the type of democracy isn’t much like modern day ones, but there were still democratic underpinnings.

I also love my bank teller where I have my business account. She’s always bubbly and helpful and never complains about how archaic it is to still have checks, and taps in the necessary numbers with a smile as we chat. She’s as pleased as I am that more and more of my clients are paying electronically, although that means I have less reason to go in.

My bank teller always has the most interesting nail decorations usually with a theme that includes things like Santa Clauses at Christmas, florals in the spring.

Today, her nails were all related to Switzerland to mark the national holiday. Alps, the flag, chocolate, etc. She happily let me take a photo.

I love my teller. I love my country.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer music

During the winter the chimes my housemate brought back from her late sister's house could not be heard through the thick windows and walls, but now that it is summer, their melody is sweetening the auditory air.

Ok you made your point Mr. Skull

I don't care how adorable the doctor was, and he was on the adorable scale at least a 9.9999. His English, although it was his third language, was as good or maybe even better than mine, as he explained where they are putting the metal plates in my head to seal where the bones are broken. In the photo it is the upper right over the eye, directly under the right eye and along the jaw bone.

The area still feels as if it has Novocaine ejected into it, but that's better than pain, and the swelling and bruising is minimal.

Surgery is slated for my birthday. Because they are going through my mouth, I suspect that it will be sore so if I don't get any cake, at least I'll have ice cream.

I don't know what Scooby will Doo...

When Llara gets back from Schwyz where she's baby sitting a St. Bernard named Einstein and a cat named Newton, Scooby will be bored just hanging around her bedroom. He's had so much fun going hither and yon around Geneva, although he was disappointed that the Jet d'Eau was off the day he was downtown.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Surprise Celebration

While I was in the hospital having my broken face looked at, the official publication date of my new novel was happening. 

Guess which one I preferred?

Friday night Rick arranged a celebration party at the Café du Soleil with my writing mentor Susan Thiberghien (life blood of the Geneva Writers Group -- and her husband, my business partner and his wife, my housemate (whose skeleton photo for the cover, and editing makes her a collaborator in the best sense of the word) and a long-time friend.

The Café holds a special place in my heart. During the beginning years of the GWG we met there monthly. Also it was the first place Rick and I ate when we reconnected. So memories go back 20 years.

Over 400 years old, the café has the best fondue in the city, although none of us chose the renown dish as we ate out under the vines in the courtyard. 

Instead I had the gazpacho (swallow don't chew) and the rest had Malakoffs, which is a fried cheese ball along with a salad. The legend is that a Russian soldier after the Crimean War introduced the dish. It is only a local Geneva/Vaud dish. Dessert was profiteroles. 

My daughter doesn't consider she's in Geneva until she's had her fondue there often nagging me to make a reservation as soon as she has her airline reservation. Any reason, any season is good enough to go there. 

Years ago when my Japanese chins were still alive, we'd meet there at night. The manager would always say, "Bonsoir Albert, Bonsoir Amadeus," a pat on the head to each and then he'd add, "Bonjour Madame Nelson, Bonjour Mademoiselle Nelson" before showing us to our seats. 

For a panorama view

Put creative people together and the conversation was as lively as the food.

Having a broken face doesn't stop me from enjoying life and appreciating my friends and fiancé.