Sunday, August 31, 2014

To blog or not to blog










 blog, therefore I am...


Sorry Descartes and Shakespeare for misquoting you.

My husband (H1) blogs. http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/

My housemate (H2) blogs. http://viewsfromeverywhere.blogspot.ch/

I read lots of blogs of friends and some strangers who might be friends if we should meet. There are blogs I read from people I've never met like those on the Facebook page Blogging for Blogging's sake.

www.madamegilflurt.com feeds my love of history each day for example and http://thefranco-americanflophouse.blogspot.fr/ keeps me updated on FATCA as well as another person who lives cross culturally.

Other blogs I read are of friends like this friend and talented writer whom I will do a workshop with next weekend. www.katiehayoz.com

H1, H2 and I were talking about the limitations of blogs. There are things too personal to blog.

There are experiences we might want to share, but can't because we don't want to hurt people's feelings. I will often ask permission before I blog a subject that might make a friend uncomfortable.

There is no Emily Post of blogging politeness. Maybe there should be.

Polite does not mean saccharine.

We might not want to mention we are away in case a thief happens on our blogs and thinks "aha an empty house."

If most of my blogs are cheerful it is because my life about 98% of the time is wonderful and 2% has the normal problems everyone has. Years ago when my life wasn't good and I was seeing a shrink, he talked about acting not reacting. I can't control the bad things in life. I can control what I do about them. His advice has done me good for a half a century.
Sometimes I might blog something painful to me. It's cheaper than a shrink. My giving up my nationality was one of those times. Losing my stepmom was another.

I'm also aware most of my problems are things like a computer working too slowly. Even illness like the cancer is a time to make new friends and have interesting experiences, although I never would have chosen it and still consider myself lucky at the outcome. No one is bombing me, beating me up, etc. Often I can turn these mini-annoyances into a blog that hopefully is amusing.

I have enough or too much to eat. I can take a shower, which is more than many people in Detroit were able to do. 

I might blog about a meal. I wouldn't blog about my shower no matter how much I love it.

I have enough...I am blessed. I blog blessings.

The same with photos. We don't want to embarrass anyone I know or don't know so either I ask permission to use a photo on a blog, or sigh, put the photo in my personal file.

As for strangers, I try not to use any photos of people that are identifiable without permission.

On the other hand when I'm with either H1 or H2 (numbers were assigned arbitrarily) we are all quick to say, "You're going to blog that?" We've been known to blog on the same subject coming up with different perspectives. 

Blogging often stimulates my other writing, a bit like priming a pump.

I blog, therefore I am.



 




A walk

We decided to take walk for no reason other than we could. Our first stop was the end of our street to once again admire the work of our artist friend as well as his beautiful flowers.

Ptah II was asleep in another friend's window. He's not for sale.

Around the corner there's another café (not La Noisette, my home away from home) where no matter how hot it is, there's a breeze. We found another friend and we had coffee together. She told us a wonderful story about giving roller skates to a lovely little boy who didn't have any but she saw him watching other little boys who did, but she asked him to water her flowers in return. Skates and a value lesson all in one. Kids love her as well they should.

At this point we met up with my housemate who is here for a few days. She walked with us. A treat.

Then onto check on the allotments to see how the veggies are doing in late summer. Lush and well.

A peek at the "river" through my favourite bridge. Discussion on bull rushes and cat n' nine tails, what do you call them. Moses's basket was no where around. Think whatever you want to call them, they would look lovely in a tall, tall vase. We didn't pick any.

T

The gatepost lion reminded me of the pair I bought from Cape Cod and flanked our dining room fireplace on Wigglesworth Street. Still love the sound of that address. (Named for a doctor of dermatology at Harvard Medical, which was across the street from the house.)

Met a Swedish friend and chatted.

Quartet of birds soon to be replaced by at least 50 swooping back and forth. Alfred Hitchcock was no where around, thank goodness.

Stop at A 10 Bal, to pick up window washing stuff plus security toilet paper for our security toilet paper (always good to have lots on hand) and paper towels for Rick's window-washing method. 

BRII (before Rick II) it would take me years to go through a roll of paper towels. I used one or two sheets for the few times I cooked bacon never for where a sponge or a cloth would work.

However, if Rick is washing windows he can decide on the method. I suspect he bought the squeegee to humour me, but that's okay. The windows will be clean and I won't have done it.

Then back to the computers and to prepare for tonight's dinner party with friends of said housemate who are visiting from the UK, the friends, not the housemate.

Life is good.












Saturday, August 30, 2014

$2,350

That is now what it costs to renounce your American citizenship up from $450. If you have over $2 million it's a major percentage of your assets.

Meanwhile expats who live permanently overseas (or temporarily on assignments) are being trapped by their bank accounts being closed in their resident country and then not being allowed to have bank accounts in the US.

Huge fines are being levied for failure to fill out this or that form, sometimes into six figures.

The cost of getting someone to do American taxes for an expat can exceed the amount of tax owed.

Personally on about $50,000 in income I paid four figures to accountants for my US taxes while only paying $700 to the government. Certainly better than the fines that could occur if I don't know about a new form being required. We won't discuss being double taxed on two social securities and pensions.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says a human has the right to change nationality...nothing is mentioned about buying one's freedom.

The problem hits accidental Americans, people born in the US because their parents were there at the time and never spent any time there afterward. Every cent, centime, pence, etc. that they earn all their lives will be taxable in the US and in their real home country.

Single nationality Americans have rough choices, such as give up lives they've built overseas or try and exist under these conditions.

Duals at least have the choice of giving up their American nationality or going back to the States and giving up their current life.

I believe in taxes. It is my dues to living in a civilized taxes. I don't believe in paying taxes in countries where I don't live.






Whatever happened to...



I have many white nights where I don't sleep and my mind jumps all over the place... Okay, part of that is not true. I can sleep really well the first three hours, but then I wake up and it is then that my mind starts jumping.

Sometimes they are productive thoughts, like an idea for the next chapter of my book.

Other times I think of things that need to be done such as, don't forget to pack the leather braided belt for Geneva.

And last night it was WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO...

So many stories are followed by the media then dropped. Two pounded around in my head last night.

Susan Brown

In 1994 she drove her two little sons into a lake and let them drown. She was sentenced to life in prison. I wonder what her life is like now.

Unknown

Somewhere in the 1990s Dateline showed the story of a little girl who lived with a foster family. They wanted to adopt her. Her mother wanted her back. After a custody battle, the last short was the child screaming and kicking being driven away in a car with her mother and the foster parents looking totally devastated.


I always wonder why people can't share the child in these circumstances. There should be enough love to go around.

Did this child become a troubled teen? Is she a mother herself? Did she ever as an adult contact her loved foster family?





Miracle toothpaste

As an expat or in my case a repat, there are always things missed from the home country. When I first arrived in Switzerland in 1990, I wanted Oreos so badly that I dreamed about them.

It didn't matter that I almost never, ever ate them in Boston.

Now they are available everywhere and I seldom buy them.


Stouffer's Welsh Rarebit is unavailable here. The times I'm in the States I will eat it several days running on English muffins (something else hard to find). If it's asparagus season so much the better.

Although you can get corn on the cob here now (it used to be only cow food) nothing was as good as the New England corn, picked as the water was boiling. Now I've heard it's all GMO corn so I'm less sad.




Which brings me to the reason for this blog--my miracle toothpaste.

Crest original formula has always been my favorite toothpaste. (There was a couple of years I used a special French one no longer on the market).

However, for all the products that are being sold internationally, Crest isn't one of them. Sometimes the American store has one in Geneva.

It struck home when in one Christmas everyone gave everyone else a tube of original formula Crest.

Now I'm almost to the end of the tube pictured above and have been for past three weeks. I've pressed from the bottom up and pressed and pressed. Each time I thought it was impossible to get any more out with a little pressure the baby blue paste pops out.

Maybe Rick is adding paste every night when I'm not looking. Or it's a miracle. I like the miracle idea better.






Friday, August 29, 2014

What is it about taxes






What is it about taxes?

I now only pay taxes in two countries. I once paid them in three.

I didn’t renounce my American citizenship to avoid taxes, although admittedly I did resent being taxed double on things like SS and my pensions. And I resented paying several times more than I owed to an accountant to make sure I wasn’t hit with fines that could have wiped me out financially.

My choice was basically between being an American and moving back to the States or living abroad and being allowed to have a bank account.

I don’t mind paying taxes. They are my dues to living in a civilized society. I am well educated because my parents paid taxes. Now as a taxpayer because of taxes:
  • ·         I drive on good roads
  • ·         I cross safe bridges.
  •       Another generation who will be my co-citizens are being educated
  • ·         There are flowers all over my Corsier village
  • ·         My drinking water is safe
  • ·         My food is safe
  • ·         The commons are well looked after
But you have companies that pay no taxes in the US and even get rebates. (I won’t even go into the fact they are called persons, but aren’t subject to FATCA which is the reason two-legged persons can’t get bank accounts. That’s another blog.)

There is the burden of taxes on the middle class that is disproportionate with those the wealthy are paying.  

Companies like Burger King, who grew thanks to the commons in the US providing them with the necessary environment so they could grow, now want to get out of American taxes by buying Tim Horton’s in Canada.

From their Facebook page, many customers aren’t pleased. I like the letter from the man wrote asking Senator Nelson (no relation) that all Burger Kings be removed from US bases. Why should they only take and not give back? Especially since their workers earn so little they need to be subsidized with food stamps and other benefits.

If you have a comment about Burger King, add it to their Facebook page.

Almost magic

Four women all of the same generation

Two nationalities

One cup of green tea

Café american

Espresso

Café

One dog (then three then none as son and daughter-in-law arrived and took all for a walk in the woods)

The scene--La Noisette

Other people stopped to say hello

The conversation? All over the place

A few rain drops

All in all an almost magic moment just because it felt so good.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

I blame

98% of the time time I accept blame for my faults.

I don't accept blame for not being able to swim.

I blame my mother, who when we were at the beach, acted at any moment if I got near the water, a tidal wave would sweep me off to Europe. I wanted to go to Europe but not by wave--plane or boat would have been and are still preferred.

I blame my ex-husband, Rick I. He said, "If someone throws you in the water, you'll swim."

He did.

I didn't.

In the 1970s I made a deal with a friend--she learn to drive, I would learn to swim. She got her license. After 12 weeks of private lessons, I still couldn't put my head under water, and one foot was always on the bottom of the pool. The instructor told me, I was wasting his time and my money, albeit (take that Rick and Julia) he said it laughingly. Except for failure and terror, we'd had an amusing time.

Thus I decided in my lifetime that it would be alright if I
  • Never read Ulysses
  • Never learned to swim
This year I found myself in a pool twice once in:
  • Malta with Julia
  • Andorra with Rick II (who didn't throw me in the pool)
After confessing I couldn't swim over coffee with my former French teacher come friend, she offered to teach me.

Today was the day. 

Dum da de dum da de dum de dum de dum (imagine funeral dirge)... Off to St. Cyprien plage.

Marina first had me wade, then get wet and sit down. She gentled me into taking my feet off the seabed. My face got wet (until this week, I wouldn't even get my face wet in the shower.) She was far less successful getting me to lay back in the water.

It was more than I've ever been able to do. There will be no Olympic swimming gold medals in my future but maybe I'll be able to be in the water without being really scared.

Two more things...


  1. I still don't plan to read Ulysses
  2. She never corrected my French pronunciation.

Framed


From the sneer on Annie's face, I could tell she didn't like the blue matting. We'd taken three paintings in to have them framed.

1. Chris Floyd's water colour was the design he would use as the mural on my studio's hall's entry. The water colour in itself was a piece of art.

2 and 3 were Bruce Davidson's birch trees and a wedding present. The Massachusetts artist is a very creative and talented person.

When we married we were blessed that so many of our gifts were hand made by our talented friends or items that weren't mass manufactured. Their imagination adds texture to our friendship.

The first time we were in the shop with the paintings several customers chose that minute to look at Annie's great selection of cards, art work and prints. We told her we'd back.

As always she helped us find exactly the right combination of matting and frames. 

The sneer disappeared.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's raining flowers



Rick and I were returning a DVD to a friend by pushing it through a mail slot. We were discussing the flowers.

Looking up I saw a hand deadheading the red geraniums.

We commented. Then a geranium came floating down and then another and another.

I like having friends who make it rain flowers.




We forget if we ever knew

Rick and I were having an idealic lunch on our patio. We were also discussing "Love and War in the Pyrenees," by Rosemary Bailey 

The book described the Retirada, when 0ver 100,000 refuges from Franco Spain fled into Argelès and ended up in concentration camps.

Rick was obviously moved by the realization of what happened here not that long ago and wrote about it in his blog http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/2014/08/the-inhumanity-of-refugeedom.html

I won't repeat here what he wrote. It is a moving comment on a past incident that unfortunately is being replayed in too many places in the world today.

Once again I'm reminded my problems are simple...will I make a writing deadline, what should I take on a Paris trip, did I leave the leftover chicken in the frigo too long?

I have never had to worry about walking hundreds of miles in the hope of finding safety, ducking bullets, listening to bombs go off in front of my house nor having my wall disappear with a bomb.

Fate has been kind to us...would that it be as kind to all the refugees in the world. Even better would that there be no more refugees because man became smarter and kinder.

 



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The unexpected bric of a meal




Okay lunch wasn't totally unexpected. We eat every day.

Where was.

I'd expected to pick up Polish guumpies made by a friend. Food is often exchanged from house to house when we don't have time to entertain one another. We are also quick to share leftovers. She's a great cook.

However, we had two errands close to lunch so when Rick suggested we find a restaurant rather than rush home and make veggies to go with the gummpies, I agreed. That will be tomorrow's lunch.

We decided to try some place new.

"What about that Pepper and Salt place you like?" He meant Poivre et Sel at the beach. I've eaten there and he hadn't. Who was I to argue?



It was good to be back in the Tunisian decor with the beautiful plates and friendly family staff.

"They have bric," I said.

"What?" Rick said. He thought I'd said Rick..
The first time I had bric it was made by the father for a friend who spent years in Tunisia. In Boston I'd found a way to make it, but since I've been in Europe I've had to rely on Tunisian restaurants.

Fillings can vary. The first I had was parsley, eggs, onion. Today's was potato, capers and egg.

The next time we need to take the guumpie maker who loves the restaurant as much as I do.

Here's Jamie Oliver's version.


"Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Wash the sweet potatoes and bake them, in their skins, in the preheated oven until cooked and soft. Allow to cool (leaving the oven on), then peel and mash them.

Bash up 1 teaspoon of the coriander seeds and the chillies in a pestle and mortar. Stir with the cinnamon into the mashed sweet potato and season well. Fold the spring onions and beaten egg into the mashed potato.

Gently melt the butter in a pan. Bash up the remaining coriander seeds. Brush a sheet of filo with some melted butter and sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon and a little of the ground coriander. Cover with the second sheet, and brush and sprinkle as before. Repeat for the third sheet. With a sharp knife, cut the stacked filo sheets into two 15cm squares.

Working quickly to prevent the pastry from drying, do the same with the remaining filo sheets. You should now have four squares of filo. Place a generous tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture in the centre of each square and spread out slightly. Brush the edges of each square with water and fold in half, corner to corner, to make a triangle. Press down at the edges to seal. Brush both sides of each triangle with the rest of the melted butter, place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven until light brown - this will take about 10 minutes.

Mix the red onion with the watercress, mint and parsley. Mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice, a lug of olive oil and the cumin. Dress the salad with the yoghurt dressing and serve with the hot filo briks and the lemon halves."


Another step done

I should be soooo, sooooo grateful that I can produce a manuscript on a computer and not by hand like the monks of medieval times. Imagine discovering a mistake in the middle and having to start over including preparing the parchment, ink and pens.

I am soooo grateful I've finished the round of corrections done by my lovely husband and lovely housemate. No heavy manuscript to lug back to Geneva.

Now to make it ready for the publisher:
  • Another polish
  • Add title page
  • Add family treet
  • Add acknowledgements
  • Add bio
  • Add info sheets that must accompany manuscript.
Touch every piece of wood that they accept it.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Stealing flowers

This is the window outside the snore room/office. During the day I can see out, but people can't see in. At night they can when the lights are on so I draw the drapes.

Today at mid-afternoon, I looked up to see a young teenage girl picking my flowers.

I opened the door.

"You know, it's polite to ask if you can pick those flowers," I said.

You could see her battle between embarrassment and thinking of a fresh remark.

"It's polite to ask," I said. "If you had, I would have said yes."

She looked at the ground. "I'm sorry." The tone was sincere. I don't know if she was or not. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's almost over



Summer is definitely drawing to an end.

Although there are still tourists, there are less children as they return to their home countries to start school. Tourists are more often older people with grown children.

One cool night we smelled smoke from a fire--against the chill, I presume.

No longer can we walk in sunshine well after 21H.

It's been a great summer...lots of friends have come and gone...some have come again.

And there was the surprise yesterday to be grabbed by our Romanian-Canadian friend who is here for two weeks with eight relatives.

We've had great meals.

We've had great trips--Andorra, Geneva, Einsiedeln plus meanderings around the area.

The amount of unbearable heat has been limited.

We done some good writing.

We did some strategic people watching at cafés.

Although we didn't get to the beach as much as we planned, and we still haven't bought bikes, and Rick didn't play golf as he would have liked, it still was a wonderful summer.

Now we are going into travel mode: Canada, the northeast US, Paris, Stuttgart, Amsterdam and a smallish village in Ireland await us. And lovely, lovely home-based Geneva, of course.







NOT under my skin



LAST night we walked the 65 steps to the cinema to see Under The Skin.

Before the movie was over, we walked another 65 steps back (in reality we took a longer walk laughing that it was one of the worst movies we'd ever have seen. -- It was only the second movie I've ever walked out on). We were followed almost immediately by another couple. Because it was in English and it was being shown during the dinner hour the audience was small.

The best description I can come up with movie maker masturbation. The director was fascinated with long drawn out visuals, much like the writer who is so fascinated with his own words that he forgets the purpose is to tell a story.

Back home we looked the movie up on IMDB and startpage.com. It should have been a clue to NOT go had we read about it earlier.

Yes, it did get some good reviews, probably by the same type of reviewer who would stand in front of a blank canvas spouting drivel such as how "The artist has captured the infinite in her simplicity of color." 

Rick review is at http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/2014/08/worst-movie-ive-ever-seen.html (Note: we do have different tastes in types films but not when it comes to technique, acting, writing, etc.)





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Page 212 and still pushing on




I'm a lucky, lucky, lucky writer.

I have Julia of the 20 pages to edit my manuscripts.

I have my husband to edit them as well

Interestingly they come up with different things, although there are some overlaps. Those pesky missing or extra quotation marks when no character has uttered a word are a Julia specialty.She does wonderful verb tense corrections, removes prepositions from the end of sentences and knows where a missing that belongs.

Her eagle-eye spotted a mistake with a recipe and also something in the text that referred to a recipe.

Rick gets about half of them but questions more content. If something isn't clear or there's a continuity question his track change button works overtime.

My book will be much better because of either of them but that's why I say I'm a lucky, lucky, lucky writer--I have both of them. They are wonderful editors.

I'm on page 212 of 288 pages trying to get all their edits in before going back to Geneva so I won't have to carry the paper edit back. Rick used track changes, which makes it easy for me to look at his edits and suggestions and then add Julia's.

That doesn't mean the ms is finished. I'll need to reread and rewrite one last time, do a family history, acknowledgements and all the paperwork needed to go with the submission.

Frankly at this point, I'm sick of the book. It always happens at this point. I've about 20,000 words on the next one and would love to get back to it.

Other things are getting in the way such as a weekly newsletter to write or entering my mother's recipes in a blog, or learning more about Paper53 or my iPAD or just having time to read more, take more walks with Rick, cook.

Our heavy travel schedule in the fall will make writing difficult, although I'm really excited about the travels which includes Il Divo in Stuttgart (we found out after buying the tickets, they were playing in Geneva).

If only the days could be stretched to do all the wonderful things that there are to do.

Meanwhile page 213 awaits.

Friday, August 22, 2014

reason 136,782 why I love Argelès...


I can be sitting and having a coffee with my husband and 
a donkey walks by.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Buttons




A few years back I had an uncontrollable urge to knit baby sweaters. I didn't even KNOW anyone who was pregnant. I graduated to little kids sweaters. The designs I made up had dinosaurs, penguins, a school house, flowers, patchwork, etc. I was turning one out every few days the entire summer. 

Needles clicked furiously while I watched television. I watched more television than normal just so I could finish a sleeve, a back...

What fascinated me most were the buttons from the yarn store in Argelès. I've never seen as many original designs. My favourite packet had back to school items: a ruler, apple, notebook, etc.

The knitting frenzy passed, but I still love the buttons.

Taking this photo was a challenge. The owner of the shop and I still chat, and she encouraged me to take the photos.

However there was a client in the shop at the time looking at the buttons. She went through the racks once, twice, three times. She touched each packet, looked behind all packets.

Five, ten minutes passed. The woman was still fingering the buttons multiple times. Rick went outside to people watch not lady-fingering-buttons watch.

At 15 minutes I gave up.

We had tea at La Noisette. I came back. The lady was gone. I caught the photos. I wanted to ask my friend if the woman bought any, but resisted.

Oh...and all those sweaters? I finally found people with children, plus the local charity shop to give them to.




    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    We found it


    My mother, Dorothy Sargent Boudreau, as I was growing up did many things right. When I was an adult she did more things wrong, making me feel I had to protect myself from her.

     The subjects we disagreed on are far too many to list, but some of the areas we could agree on were Scrabble, how wonderful my daughter was, clothes and -- food.  We both loved food.

    My mother had many careers: secretary, designer/owner of a stuffed animal direct mail business, cosmetic saleswoman, owner of a dress business on a party plan and finally a reporter.

    She was a great writer first as a straight journalist for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune and the Boston Herald. After retirement, she wrote columns for the LET until her death in 1990. One was about people watching, the other was Stove Stories which included the history of the recipes.

    Food was more than food for her. It contained memories of friends, funny or sad incidents, conversations had.

    She created a cookbook, but it was never published. The manuscript came with me to Switzerland. About three months ago I thought, I could blog the manuscript.

    Only I couldn't find it.

    Admittedly my filing system, had little to do with system. Rick pressured me to look through all my folders in the nest. Voilà there it was. Granted the paper had strange brown spots, like it had been exposed to a burning cigarette and some of the pages were frayed.

    I've set up the blog, Stove Stories. I've started to transcribe the recipes. I will not publish any until I get them all up.

    Stove Stories will see the light of day. I think my mother would have been pleased.


    I never thought of it that way

    I was walking with an artist friend.

    "Creativity is spirituality in action," she said.

    So, so true, but I'd never thought of it.

    One good reason to have artists as friends.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    A corking good time

    THE SCENE

    The Restaurant d'Eveque (Bishop) in the medieval city of Carcassonne.

    Through the trees we could see the stained-glass window of St. Nazaire.

    We were with new friends. All of us ordered duck. One was in salad. The other three's was roasted with figs in a sweet and sour sauce.

    I slipped a cork into my pocket and explained to the waitress that we were collecting them. When we had enough we would put them together for a cork board in Rick's office. (The concept came from an English couple).

    It's a slow process. Rick and I tend to open a bottle of wine only when we have company. We drink it too slowly when it is just us, not that we don't appreciate how a good glass of wine marries with a meal.

    She returned with all the corks she could find, saying she didn't bother with the plastic.

    When we have enough, we'll not only have a cork board, we'll have one embedded in memories, something that doesn't happen when you just buy something in a store.



    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Oh no

    You're eating bunny?

    How many ( ) needed to change a light bulb

    In both the nest and the warren we have many types of lamps. I don't think any two (except for the bedside lamps) take the same kind of light bulbs. They all have different sizes of the screw in part.

    There are two stores in the village that sell light bulbs. Sometimes they don't carry what I need and it is necessary to go out to the industrial area (yuck).

    How many stores are needed to change a light bulb

    What is wrong with standardization?????*

    *Said by the woman who worked for two standardization organizations NFPA and IEC.


    Sunday, August 17, 2014

    Friendship gardens



    "Baguettes and beverages" the invitation read. What an understatement--and not just in the many good things to eat and drink. The hosting couple had created a magic garden that brought home how wonderful the warmth of friendship flows through the village.

    There are the all year-rounders, the summer people, the people who use every excuse to come to Argelès from all over the world.

    Some friends are retired while some are still working. The list of professions includes anything on a career counselor's list: anthropologist, film maker, midwife, secretary, artist, writer, journalist, book seller, engineer, teacher... There are no class barriers, no my house is better than your house, no my car is newer than you car.

    Pretensions don't exist. Kindness does.

    Some were friends from other places and from other periods of life. Some are new and welcomed into the circle which is not marked by a solid but a dotted line to let people slip in and out.

    We don't always meet in a large gatherings in a lovingly-cultivated garden. In Argelès it is hard not to bump into people as you walk through the village shopping for the days' supply of bread, meat, veggies.

    Passing La Noisette, it is a rare day that there isn't someone there to share a cup of tea with. There are smaller dinner parties or street dances where a table is shared as people listen to the music and test our their sense of rhythm. Sometimes tables are placed on the street itself in front of the house. People may play tennis, go the beach, take a sail or visit a historic site in various combinations. Those that speak French will help those that don't.

    And sometimes it is a lift to and from the airport or a printer that is called for. A sick friend may need help. That is there too. As one woman who was doing the long drive from the UK said, she had four dinner invitations to eat on the night she arrived with her husband and two dogs (one of which she was bringing to someone else) arrived.

    Friendships like gardens are cultivated. They bring with them their own beauty, a beauty to be treasured.






    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    It wasn't me after all

    I've tried to bake a number of things: cookies, shortcakes, etc. in our oven. French ovens have an automatic timer that shuts off the oven automatically, but even after converting from Fahrenheit to Centigrade or vice versa, things always needed more time or they burned-- lots and lots more time.

    My lovely housemate, when told of this problem, gave me an oven thermometer.

    AHA!!!!

    I set the temperature at 220/448°. It never got beyond 175/347° That's C to F and explains the problem.

    It wasn't me...

    A new oven is on the list.

    Dragons Part II video

     What a night with the dragon, elephant, giant insect, and devil dance. There's a video.






    If it's too long fast forward to make sure you get all the monsters and the devil dance at the end.

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    When a stone is more than a stone





    When Rick and I were walking in Andorra, I saw a palette shaped rock. I love unusual rocks. I have one where the gradations look like the mountains going toward the sea, for example. I have a stone from Collette's grave to bring me good writing karma. We brought back Andorran gray stone to put in our outdoor flower pots to convince the local feline population that the pots are not WCs.
     
    Miloud, one of my favourite local artists, frames and sells his palettes. We'd debated buying one, but instead I took the rock into him and asked whenever he was painting could he dab some paint onto the stone. He agreed and this was the result. 

    I've a paper weight that contains memories of my honeymoon and my friendship with an artist friend.

    In the eye of the dragon

    It is all very hush, hush tonight's festivities for the holiday.

    However, in the Carrefour parking lot there is a huge dragon sleeping. There are rumours of a parade to the port and beach where this dragon will meet up with other dragons and an oversized elephant.


    I asked the police guarding him if I could get closer to take a photo.

    Fortuantely, the dragon didn't wake. Maybe it is a good idea to let sleeping dragons lay/lie.

     



    The cupboard was bare

    ON Marché days, Wednesday and Saturday, we make it a point to go to La Noisette for breakfast be it a simple croissants or one of their English breakfasts. Often we run into friends. 

    During the summer the streets are crowded. Laurent, the La Noisette owner, serves lunches, said that the Saturday before last instead of his normal 15 meals, he served 84. 


    We watch people stroll by as they look at the clothing, flowers, veggies, sausages, roasting chickens, cheeses, olives, books, shoes, games, etc. 

    We also make some purchases: Catherine, The Brownie Lady, is a must stop. She also has great savory tarts. I used to buy more olives, but Rick isn't an olive fan, which shouldn't stop me. I still chat with Joël, the olive seller, who usually kisses my hand. With Rick there and his girl friend there, he flirts less, but that doesn't stop a wink or to.

    Rainy days, the marché doesn't open, but Saturday, after all the merchants were set up, the sunshine gave way to thunder claps followed by a mini shower.

    The vendors rushed to cover their wares. The rain lasted less than five minutes.


    The traffic picked up as we bought all the things we needed: broccoli, green beans, onions, melon, bananas, tomatoes, pepper, eggs. Having been in Geneva the cupboard was bare