Monday, March 31, 2014

Transformation in Corsier

The full Cosier Port post office is no more. Gone is our OCD postmaster to other locations. In its place is a new mini-grocery and coffee shop.

They held an open house complete with a welcome from the Mayor. Outside people served wine, juice, and sodas.

Inside where mail was once sorted was they had nibblies. My favourite was and always will be the Pain Surprise. Bakers take a round loaf of bread, hollow it out and make three or four layers of different type of sandwiches and put it back together.

In one corner is there's a weighing and stamp machine. Outside the private postal boxes remain...all that's left of the post office.

Good luck to the young couple who will occupy the new space. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Good Wife Festival

36 hours being off the computer for J and me.

Impossible those who know would say.

We had a complete season of The Good Wife in hand and decided to turn Saturday night and all day Sunday into The Good Wife Festival. We knew if the computers went on...the festival would be out the window. The as many episodes as possible back-to-back.

But every festival needs good food.

Saturday night brought nibbles and champagne.

Sunday morning we had bagel, lox and cream cheese which is an almost unheard of treat in Switzerland. Only thing missing The Boston Globe in hard copy.

Sunday lunch was lasagne made by friend.

Desert was profiteroles and tea for me, coffee for J.

How many episodes?


And the computer?

Off from 7:30 Saturday night to 6:30 Monday morning for me. I'm writing this at 7 a.m. J. is still asleep.

Note added later in the afternoon.

(J's blog on the same subject. It is always interesting to see how two people look at the same thing.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Clock change? No.

I know it is hard to read, but the clock next to my bed reads 17:13. It is 16:13. Tonight the time moves ahead one hour, but not this clock, because at the end of October, it was never changed. The change mechanism doesn't quite work, so year round it is on Daylight Savings Time.

I could buy a new clock radio but I won't.

I love for six months of the year or at least the part I'm in my Geneva bed, I wake up, look at the clock and it might say 7:00 the hour I knew I should rise. 

He he he.

I go back to sleep for an hour feeling ever so good.

Now, when I wake up and the clock say 7:00, I can't go back to sleep. As the French say (accompanied by a sigh)...dommage.

October will put it all right or wrong again.


A walk from Marro

Sitting at a computer all day is NOT good. However, not wanting to cook lunch sent J and I to our favourite restaurant in the next village. She gave into a hamburger, I had the salmon with capers and olives. My misc. vegetables were all sliced spaghetti thin...

However, knowing I would spend the next few hours at the computer I decided to walk back, about 20 minutes. Nothing like gazing at the fields, lake, Jura and Alps on a chilly spring day to keep one happy. When one walks they see things they would have missed if they were in a car or even on a bike.

If you look closely in the middle of the photo there is a very fat bird on a branch. As I continued the walk I thought up a haiku.

A bird in the tree
Watching the new construction
Wishing for the field.

The yellow forsythia against the dark green pine and the blue sky was only more beautiful because of the smell of fresh pine.

Life is wonderful.

Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm sorry, General


I love Skype.  I can talk to my daughter in Boston. I get to meet my new grand kitty and I can see her flat.

I can talk to Rick when we're separated and sometimes when we are in the same room if he wants to send me something.

My housemate and I use Skype when she's working in the basement and I'm working in my room two flights up.

I've used Skype for interviews. 

However, I have no desire to add General Wesley Clark or David Petraeus to my list of people I connect to on Skype. Nor any of the other generals sending me regular invitations.

As a pacifist, I'm not interested in any general. Nor can I think of any reasons on this planet, no make that this universe, why they would want to talk to me.

And I'm curious why when I get a civilian stranger (yes, I get them too) they always claim to be from Florida or Texas.

Yesterday I got a request from another high ranker in Afghanistan and he went into a bit of detail about life there...however whoever is running these scams was sloppy. The return address was Ghana.

Click Decline
Click Report as Spam

Flowers are necessary

Corsier is a tiny village with a population of 1,995 people. It touches the lake. However, as small as it is, we are never short of the beauty flowers provide.

I wanted to capture the flowers against blue, blue sky but the weather forecast says "Not so fast, rethink yellow flowers against gray sky." 

And so I did.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Graffiti with attitude

When I first lived in Switzerland in the tiny village of Môtiers, which known existence went back to 1150, my neighbour took me to a village meeting where they were discussing the increasing delinquency of the young. Coming from Boston this meant, robbery, rape, gangs, drugs, guns and arson.

What delinquency that would ruin its bucolic beauty?

One example (small) of a graffiti on the school wall was what was worrying the residents.

I'm no fan of graffiti usually but there are exceptions.

 In Harvard Square there was a café under the Brattle Street Theatre called Casablanca. Sadly, it closed in 2012 after 50 years. I loved watching the chess players at the nearby tables as I drank hot almond-chocolate.

I also loved the ladies room graffiti. Nothing as mundane as "Jason loves Sally" or "Peter is a pig." 

Instead there was things like "Virginia Woolf loves Vita-Sackville West." 

I always felt good whenever I knew all the literary and historical references by the time I flushed.

Thus, when I saw this rather philosophical graffiti on the wall by the bus stop I had to smile. "There is no absolute truth" is the translation.

Between the backdrop, the outlined letters, the small flowers it must have taken some time to create, but I don't know that as an absolute truth. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ladies who lunch

It all started when S wanted a guinea pig when she tested a new recipe. It became a tradition with S, J and myself. We would prepare a meal, but one of the dishes had to be something we had never tried before. Our tables are well set, sometimes with place cards, sometimes with printed menus. Except for my exact following of a Master Chef recipe, all have been wonderful. But experiments tend to be just that -- experiments.

Above is my cream of tomato soup with fresh basil.

I will always adore the British place mats.

S that day served a tomato tart with an Eton Mess for dessert. It's crumbled meringue, strawberries and cream and comes from the tradition of a dessert served at an Eton-Harrow game. No game was played, but every bite disappeared.

Monday was J's turn. and her baked Camembert (in the black, round dish) started was followed by a chicken and spring onion dish followed by her version of Eton mess. I love the trick of the napkin between two glass dishes.

My turn is next. Time to start scouring recipes for my May offering.


Some people can walk into a wreck of a house and see it finished as a mansion. Others can take a troubled kid and turn him around.

As a writer I can massage bad writing into better writing.

Others see only the wreck, the bad kid or the terrible writing.

On my walk from the village to the house, I saw that all the vineyards have been cut back to a height that doesn't reach my knees. They are twisted and ugly.

However, by October they will be taller than I am ladened with lush purple grapes ready to be hand picked and turned into the good wine I may sip with lunch at any local restaurant.

It comes down to potential looking not just what one sees on the outside, but what is hidden inside.

Sometimes I'm dumb

My Plan A had been to wake early, read a bit and then go up to the village with my housemate to shoot the yellow flowers and walk back down the hill. The walk with the view of the vineyards, lake and Jura is always a pleasure. The day was too gray to get the colour I wanted. And the gray was hiding the Jura.

My Plan B was to get straight to work. I've a letter to write about insurance, two interviews to prepare for, my own writing, a bit of client billing, and a new newsletter to start.

Downstairs I saw that my housemate had left a magazine that she'd be taking to coffee (a Tuesday ritual of years) with a good friend. They exchange women's magazines.

This one had a story about a missing sister, a mother who developed Alzheimer's at 29, some recipes. As I poured water over my tea, I thought what a shame...I wouldn't have a chance to read it.


I'm retired (Llara, stop laughing).
  • Yes, the letter should be done because it is need for my visa to travel in late May. 
  • Yes, the interviews have to be prepared for but I have until 15:00. 
  • Yes, I eventually I need to bill my clients if I want money to come in.
  • Yes, I want to write
But none of it had to be done immediately. Instead of taking my porridge and tea upstairs, I ate in the kitchen, admired the yellow tulips in the centre of the table and read the magazine cover to cover.

One should always take time to smell the tulips. Are you listening self??????

Monday, March 24, 2014


I realized today as I typed a date into a client database card it was my grandfather's birthday. He was in his sixties when he died in 1946.  I was four.

I remember he had white hair, was a semi invalid with a heart condition and was a grump with everyone but not with me.

He would be Freddie to my Flossie when I played Bobbsey Twins. Nan and Bert had to be make believe. Afterall Flossie had blond curly hair and Nan's was dark.

Mine was blond and curly with help just as today it's red with help.

I called him Puppy.

He was an engineer and worked on the projects for the Massachusetts State House and the Christian Science Monitor. When he took the qualifying exam the results said that he failed he asked to see his exam which was marked 0. There was an error--he'd answered every question right.

The day he died, I heard my grandmother screaming and my mother making me stand by the back door for what seemed like a long time. They didn't tell me he died. They told me he was in the hospital and later they said that a certain hour, I remember it as 10, he would be dead. I remember looking at the clock when it struck 10. I could count fairly well to 10 and even today my math ability seems limited to single and double digit numbers. I thought, Puppy is dead.

Probably only about three or four people remember him today: my brother, myself and a cousin whose grandfather was Puppy's half brother.

Someone once said as long as a person is remembered, that person is never truly gone. So at least for today Puppy lives on at least in my memory.

No monsters allowed

The two little boys, 5 and 3, were adorable. As brothers they looked nothing alike. One had red hair, the other brown, almost black.

Both have faces of angels.

The were real little boys, full of energy but well mannered. Fights over property were limited by the rule if the toy was in the living room, it was available to both, but if it was in either bedroom, it was off limits to the other brother.

As all French children, although they had food preferences there was no whining about not liking this or that. Their table manners were excellent.

They do not have a television.

The little one created a double decker plane with a Lego-like block set. It looked as if it could take off at any small airport. The older one draws far ahead of his years.

However, like children all over the world, they did have monster fears.

Their mama found a solution. By posting a no monster allowed sign on the front door, the monsters were kept at bay. And just in case one slipped through without reading the sign, another note was under the bed.

The children went to bed with hugs from their parents and no complaints, no begging to stay up. And no fear of monsters. They aren't allowed in the apartment.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The hair contest.

The first time I met my housemate her hair was short. When I met her a few years later it was almost down to her waist, thick, blond and beautiful. Most of the time she wore it up.

Then when she came down for my ceremony with Rick, she reached up and let her hair down and it tumbled


It was still thick, blond and beautiful.

Just for once I wanted my hair to be longer than hers. For some strange reason my hair has gone from straight to wavy. Had I had chemo I would have understood the change.

Finally, when we met up in Toulouse after she'd had hers trimmed, mine was longer.

I've an appointment to have it cut next week.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

For you to play A vous de jouer

Entering the Toulouse train station my goal was to buy sandwiches and to take pictures in the photomat for my Russian visa before our train left for Geneva. Rick had done his when we'd arrived.

We heard beautiful piano playing and we saw an older man in a beige suit. He was bald. A crowd each holding onto their different-coloured luggage gathered and were listening. Little by little the crowd grew. The pianist's back was to those watching him so he had no idea of the reaction.

With a final flourish he finished and as he stood to leave everyone applauded.

The piano is there for anyone who wants to play.

We, too, moved on.

When I passed the piano next, a little boy was playing. No one stopped to listen, but when he stopped, he clapped for himself.

Our train was due as much as I would have loved to see who else accepted the invitation to play.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Toulouse continued

Raymond IV is an old fashioned hotel with old fashioned keys.

We ran into the Carnival pour les Lycées. We were surrounded by happy kids in costumes.

A lunch that started off with a wonderful paté...

And ended with a café gourmand. Coffee and wonderful little treats. I had been tempted to order a fruit salad, but had I watched the others eat these goodies, I would have turned green. More important was the reunion with Alexandrine who is here to participate in and arts festival.

She used an old film then did a second film that had the noises from modern times to synchronize with the old film. She was calm as she fought to get the two working together. It was so good to see her again.

I admit I'm superstitious that I walked around the ladder on my way to the Metro Jeanne D'Arc. As I did it I fell stupid. I did it anyway.

I spent a good part of today with my Sister sans Frontier. This woman, an artist who rescues old books and turns them into works of art. When I lived in Toulouse in the late 1980s she was a neighbour. My French was as limited as her English but there was a spirit of sharing that helped me through a difficult period.

Her daughter visited me in Môtiers CH and her son visited me in Boston. She made a loved recipe as a gift for a friend of me as if it were a medieval parchment. I still use a notebook cover she made me.

So after too long a time, I took the metro that didn't exist before to where she lived. We stopped at her son's successful business. He makes frames for everything from individual to museums. The space he has set up is beautiful. He has his mother's artistic eye.

Then she showed me her daughter's home.

Unlike before we could communicate thanks to my increased use of French.

We had lunch and it was too soon that I had to leave. Only this time I want to see her and hers more often. Sisters sans frontiers are to precious to not share more with.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cheese and conversation

I'm Swiss, I live part time in France, of course I like cheese, I told Raphaël. Silly question.

We were trying to decide the best way to meet up while I was in Toulouse where he lives.

I've known him since he was a bump and now he's a gray-haired husband with two adorable and well-behaved little boys. I don't get to see him all that often. He and his wife both work so anything easy was fine with me.

This wonderful cheese plate with the cheeses numbered mild to strong, their milk origin was a wonderful way to spend the evening catching up. A phone call from his sister, the person whom I call my French daughter who works for the UN in NY, and the fact that Raphaël's mother, also a friend was there, made the evening a perfect reunion night.

And each cheese was better than the one before.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Toulouse is not to loose

I love Toulouse. I spent a year there. Although it was one of the lesser happy times in my life, it had nothing to do with this red brick city.

Today I'm here to say goodbye as Rick flies to the states for a couple of weeks, meet up with old friends, attend a vernasage and just enjoy. My housemate is coming down later today to go to the vernasage also and we'll return to Geneva together.

It was good to walk the streets again on a sunny, sunny day.

If you look closely at the statues of Jeanne d'Arc, the horse has a flower wreath. Underneath a flower seller had spread his wares
The statue of a mother and child that was near to the merry-go-round that Rick and I rode on our last trip. When it comes to rides, merry-go-rounds are about as adventurous as I will get. I don't remember the statue from before. No date was on it.

Later I talked to a man who was born in Algeria but has spent the last 41 years in France. When asked where he identified, he told be he was a citizen of the human race. Would that we all hold humanity first and other labels second.
 The marché that I used to enjoy on Wednesdays. I'd bought penguin earrings there years ago and it was one of the places I shared with Llara when she visited me. I took my first French lessons in the area.

 This is the capital building. By the time we reached it we were starving having read menus from every restaurant en route.

Last time I was in Toulouse we ate at Les Tenors. When we saw it we decided to eat again. Then I'd ordered a hurger made with Jack Daniels. Now I'm not a big burger fan, but the burger stayed in my good food memory bank.

The same burger was on the menu and as you can seeI left practically nothing. Did love how they served the frites in their own little basket and they'd left the skins on. The waiter brought both mayonnaise and ketchup.

Heclaimed he remembered us from last time, which is unlikely, except that we did have an in-depth conversation with him. I'm like my mother and father. I talk to anyone about anything.

Rick is catching that bug as well.
I love the painted ceiling under the arches.

I always loved Toulouse's iron work. I noticed many of the building fronts have had their stones cleaned and the iron decorations painted cheerful colours.

A metal representation of Raymond IV (1041 or 1042 – 1105) former Count of Toulouse and Duke of Narbonne. He was deeply religious. I once had a similar metal suit of armour that I painted green to represent Sir. Gawain and the Green Knight. Llara hated it and kept trying to give it away.  She also decorated it for holidays. Wish I still had it. I'm sure she doesn't.

It's good to be back here. I plan to enjoy the next couple of days.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I don't know why

Rick worked well after 4 am to make a deadline.

After he came to bed I had one of those indepth dreams which includes smells, sounds, colours and a mixture of things from now, the past and never.

I was living on Pratt Street in Reading. Llara was about 10 (although we left the house when she was under two).

I woke up in my second story bedroom (it was a one story house) to discover the front door. There were teenagers in the house.

I made it out onto the street screaming but no one woke up. I knocked on Dick Chesley's door. (in reality it was the neighbour's next door house Chesley had lived across the street. He used to let his dog roam. She'd come up to our house and our German Shepherd and she would go at it through the glass, and I'd come home to a broken pane and Dick would change it for me. Neither dog was in the dream.)

I apologized for waking him, explained, and asked to call the police. He had a rotary stand-up (like Julia's mother) but I had to use an ear bud, which kept disconnecting from the phone.

(I can't remember what Chesley looked like in reality.) In the dream he was about 50, thin, balding.)

I'd brought with me three small boys whom I'd also found in the house. They were aged 5,7 and 9. Tow heads. One fell asleep. I knew I need to give them to the authorities, because little boys that age shouldn't be out breaking into houses. They wouldn't tell me anything about their parents.

I called the Reading Police and told them I was the ex-wife of a cop. The female dispatcher kept asking me questions including what kind of birth control I used. I grew more and more frustrated.

Dick, who was wearing a beige tattered bathrobe asked me if I wanted coffee. The house was very messy and very crowded with furniture some of it dark green and there were a lot of newspapers around. The photo gives the feeling, just change the colour of the furniture.

Only one light was on, a rather large table lamp. He went to make me coffee.

The phone disconnected and I redialed. I couldn't be sure what the police number but for a second I thought it was 944-0188 which was my childhood number. (I'm bad at remembering phone numbers including current ones but I remember that number and my old Boston one 731-1130.

This time I connected with the fire department and a man named Sam (not the Sam I knew) was the dispatcher. His questions were more to the point, but no one seemed in any hurry to do anything about either the kids in my house or the three little boys.

I've no idea whatsoever where the dream came from or why.