Sunday, June 29, 2014

I love you

The temperature had dropped from Saturday's 34° to the low 20s on Sunday.

I went out to get food for lunch which included a stop at the Boucherie. About four locals came into the shop after me.

I didn't see the chicken I wanted, so I asked. All the conversation was in French.

He showed me those in the rotisserie which smelled wonderful. I told him I wasn't lazy and wanted to cook my own. He laughed and led me to the other end of the counter.

He reached for a full chicken.

It was going to be a slow pot recipe and I didn't need a complete chicken. I used the wrong word and asked for a jambe not cuisse but he understood that I wanted a leg.

By now everyone was listening. He was flirting. I was playing along.

He reached for the chicken legs at the same time I spied the turkey leg.

I pointed to it and said, "the big one."

"Dinde," he said.

"I know I said, I changed my mind."

"Women do that all the time," he said.

At that point there were a few giggles from our audience.

"You speak very good French," he said.

"No where as good as I want."

"All I can say in English is "I love you." I love you was the first English in the conversation.

"I love you, too," I said in English.

More giggles behind me.

He wrapped the turkey leg and I paid for it.

"Au revoir," he said. "I love you."

"Au revoir, mon amant." I said to the applause of those in the shop.

Supermarket shopping just isn't as much fun as this.

The escargot caper

We have this one little stone dish on the terrace.  I suggested Rick find some coloured rocks. He hasn't, not because he didn't want to, but he was legitimately tied up with other things.

At the marché yesterday I saw a bag of snail shells. I know the French often keep the shells and buy a can of snails and then stuff them in the shell. I once loved them with garlic and oil, but they must have the same chemicals as clams and oysters and they don't like me.

Wonderful, I thought, I said looking at the bag. They will look great in the dish. From the photo you may think I was right.

We had extra so I spread under the rosebush outside the snore room/office. We need stones on the dirt to keep the neighbourhood cats from thinking that this is an attractive toilet.

Rick called to me on his way to the grocery.

A snail was making his or her way up the window far quicker than the phrase snail's pace would have one believe.

Then we realised. 

The snail wasn't alone.

Those empty shells weren't empty. We have snails all over the place.

"What did you do?" he asked with emphasis on you and do.

I did apologize. It was a good idea gone bad.  

We did ask our landlady if she wanted them to serve to her guests. She didn't. After lunch we'll take them down to the river.

I suppose they are lucky. Had someone else bought them, they would be an appetizer for Sunday lunch.

Now they had another chance at life.

As for poor Rick, he's still shaking his head.

As I write this blog, Rick is writing his. Check it out

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Aging and ways to slow it down.

People tell me I look younger than I am. They act surprised when I reveal my age.

Who in their right mind would tell me or anyone that they look old?

I don't feel my age. It isn't just being a bride and being madly in love that is the reason. Nor it is my writing or a dozen other non-age appropriate things in my life.

There are things in my age that I don't like. The less taunt skin is one, although good DNA and not having spent hours in the son have kept most wrinkles at bay. I have to fight to keep weight off, where once I had to fight to keep it on.

However, there is one way I'm retaining my teenage look...


I always had a few even through my adult years. The only times my skin was totally clear was when I was pregnant or on the pill. Continued pregnancies for clear skin had unwanted consequences of becoming the old woman who lived in a shoe with so many children she didn't know what to do.

My system didn't react well to the pill.

Only in my 40s did I discover the source of my skin problems-- those lovely oranges that I ate every day.

And there were the oranges my father and stepmom sent from Florida every Christmas. They were the size of grapefruits and my skin problems were worse for the holidays.

I did not make the connection until there was a period I had no oranges and finally had the complexion of a model. Eating oranges again, the skin problems returned.

Once I did discover the connection, I looked for substitutes. The fresh local fruit in Argelès is wonderful. Cherries, apricots, strawberries, strawberries, (cultivated and from the forests), nectarines, kiwis, kakis. 

All lead to pimply skin.

I adore them all, but I can guarantee after eating them pop, pop, pop the pimples appear.

Apples, bananas and melons do not create the problem. Blueberries are safe.

Still teenage acne does not become a woman of my years.  I once joked with my daughter that I would be the only person in the old age home using Clearisil. 

Maybe it isn't a joke, because I can't imagine never having another cherry, apricots, strawberries, strawberry, (cultivated and from the forests), kiwi, nectarine, or kaki. Thus I will give in and savour any of them knowing the consequences.

An advantage of aging is knowing that pleasure is not to be postponed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

It's intrusive

This is a game I enjoy playing on the internet. I play it too much, but what the hell?
This is a book cover about Scottish history. I've been looking up various books about Scottish history and poetry for my next book, Murder in Edinburgh on Amazon.

Ads for books on Scotland have been coming up beside my Letter Garden Game as of yesterday.

I blog. I tweet (for the business, I Facebook. I do buy some things on line, very few, usually books. 

I do a lot of research on line mostly, read tons of newspapers from different countries, listen to misc. programs.

I'm not sure if my computer is one of those that the NSA can watch me through the webcam. If so, I just waved to them. Hi NSA.

They'll have trouble keeping track of me by phone because it's usually in a drawer. The drawer is next to the computer, so maybe the think I live in the drawer. The fact that one can be followed by phone everywhere is just one more reason NOT to have smart phone.

However, the feeling that so many people are aware of everything I do, is not comfortable. I am being spied on as I do ordinary things. So are you.

I am tempted to take the computer into the bedroom and point them at the bed. Maybe they'll be surprized that a woman my age does more than play computer games.

Relationship metaphor

 The cross is not a religious symbol. If you look closely you'll see cracks in the window.

Sunday we gave our first barbecue. When it was over a crack in our sliding glass door that hadn't been there before the party. We decided it was the heat from the barbecue.

Rick put duct tape on it to keep it from cracking more. The window can be replaced, but the original glass that was in the window will be lost forever.

It struck me as a metaphor for relationships.

They can't afford heat any more than that glass could. By heat, I mean game playing, blaming, nasty remarks, power struggles, dishonesty and and all plus other negativeness.

In Egyptian times glass was more precious than gold. Good relationships are precious. Keeping them from breaking is important and not easy to keep them from the "heat" sometimes. Accidental heat is probably better than deliberate but the result can be the same.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This message brought to you by the letter R

Rick has a certain look that he gives me when he doesn't understand what I said, but he's sure things will be clarified.

He'd heard "I stopped to chat with the Yan woman."

He hadn't met any Chinese in Argelès.

It became clear when I'd added, "I used to see her every week when I was knitting a baby sweater a week." (Don't ask why I gave into a craze to create new baby sweater after new baby sweater--I don't know why either and it passed).

He translated Boston "yan" into normal English "yarn" and the uncertain look was replaced with his I get it now look.

By now he should know that even former Bostonians don't do the letter "R".

My New England accent is definitely still there. 

With apologies to Sesame Street, this message is brought to you by the letter R or rather the missing letter R.

A bit from Murder in Geneva read by the lake

From the video of me reading from my novel Murder in Geneva on a cool spring day. A very important clue is discovered.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Body clocks

Rick and I are on different body clocks.

He will often write into the early morning hours long after holding my eyes open is an impossible exercise.

I've been up since 5 a.m. writing.

He tends to stay at his desk then tumble into bed, while I am now in bed with my laptop in the snore room/office having left the marital bed so as not to disturb him. He is sleeping soundly.

The birds outside are singing. One has a specially sweet tweet. I hope he is as happy as I feel.

The smell of baking bread from one of the boulangeries is drifting into the window.

I hear the garbage truck making their daily rounds.

Someone is either coming from or going to the train station. I can hear the wheels of their suitcase against the pavement.

The church bell has just rung once signalling it's quarter past the hour. 

We will meet up later in the morning, go to the marché, sit in a café, talk with friends. Misc. chores will be accomplished. We are going to the opening of a new café tonight at the port.

It is good that there are hours when our body time mechanisms are aligned and we make the most of them.

It should be another good day in a long list of good days.

The remaining Catalans

My street is the most beautiful in the village. That's not my opinion, everyone says that including the tour guide Jean-Marc as he marches tourists around town.

I bought my nest on my 45th birthday. I will 72 next month. The people on the street have changed. I bought into a Catalan village.

Now on this short street are other Swiss, Swedes, English, Danes, Germans, Dutch, Czech, French (not from Catalonia but from other parts of France) and an American.

One purely Catalan family remains. 

They are old. 

They are unhealthy. 

She needs dialysis several times a week. He often walks around town with oxygen and more than once the ambulance has taken him out on a stretcher.

Both are short, my height, and that's short.

They've been great neighbors. I put two blue pots on the street, flanking my building's entrance, and filled them with flowers. She watered them with far more love than I gave them when I wasn't there--and sometimes when I was taking pity on them for their derelict mistress.

When the plants died she replaced them with pansies.

They had a family tragedy: their son killed himself in their living room. For a couple of years, although we talked regularly, her smile had been stolen by pain.

Now she's smiling again. We chat repeating, repeating, repeating until we work through my Anglo accent and her Catalan accent.

He burst into laughter when he caught Rick and I kissing at the corner. 

She tells me my husband is "beau."

Last Thanksgiving I gave her flowers telling her that it was the day of giving Thanks and I was thankful she was my neighbour. She gave me chocolates for Christmas.

We did have one misunderstanding. My garbage can had disappeared. I asked him if I could use theirs and he said no. I chocked it up to some Catalan not wanting to share garbage thingie.

The next day she was sitting with other mamies, the old Catalan women, friends from childhood who meet on benches in the villages and share wisdom, recipes, gossip. 

She saw me and called "coucou" the French word for getting attention. "What did you ask my husband?"

I told her.

She laughed, "Stupid man. He didn't understand so he thought he'd better say no. Of course you can use our garbage can."

Later he apologized. 

I responded as I always do. "C'est ma faute. Mon accent est horrible."

Each time I return to Argelès I am relieved that they are still there. They are one of those "gifts" good caring neighbours.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


 See this Train.
See the track that takes the TGV to Strasbourg.

I wasn't at/on either Sunday night.

For months I'd been planning to meet up with a college friend. For three years we were intellectual companions, often studying for exams together. 

As a francophone she helped me through a French IV course, modern French Drama, despite my earlier French classes with a professor who somehow managed to cover 10 pages in a year, but boy did we learn about his private life.

At Lowell University, English majors took most of their courses together. She married another classmate.

We both produced daughters about the same time but then life happened and we drifted apart.

Thanks to the internet we found each other and began emailing to find that our interests converged. Because the couple were travelling in France, Rick and I were to join them in Strasbourg.

I was really looking forward to it.

Not so fast. France had one of their train strikes. Each day we hoped it would end and it is ending, but the train we would have taken is still not running.

 Rick waits in line for a refund.
Although it is blurred it shows our train is supprime...cancelled...sigh.

We'll have another chance in September when I'm in the Boston area. 

I suppose the only good thing, I won't have to reveal my terrible French accent to her -- yet.

Lunch with Tweety Bird

Neither of us wanted to cook and it was too late to book at Bartevelle and calamar at La Noisette left Rick very unimpressed. We decided to try the restaurant across from the train station (now closed because of the grève).

Thus for the first time we had lunch with Tweety...He didn't see any puddy cats during our meal.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice


It’s the summer solstice when the planet tilts on its semi-axis in both hemispheres. Its maximum axial tilt toward the sun is 23° 26'. This happens twice each year, at which times the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or the south pole.

It is the longest day and the start of summer.

Festivals abound and have throughout time.

St. John is celebrated between the 21 and June 25 including in Argelès when a torch will be brought down from the top of Mount Canagau and will be used to light a bonfire.

In Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia, Midsummer's Eve is the second greatest festival of the year,.

Pagan celebrations including scaring away dragons.

In Köln in the 1300s women washed their hands and arms in the Rhine.

The Wicca holiday of Litha was mention in Bede’s Reckoning of Time (De Temporum Ratione, 7th century), which preserves a list of the (then-obsolete) Anglo-Saxon names for the twelve months.

Celebrate it or not, the sun revolves around the earth, but is time to welcome the lushness of summer.