Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Business travel

Champagne, lobster salad, jazz at the Jardin Nelson, Vieux Port Montreal. I don't remember business travel being this good before.

A list

The things I have enjoyed on this trip

Corn on the cob...so good I don't care that it is GMO
The variety of BnBs,city, country and in between
Raisin cinnamon bagels
Ro's cooking
The fall colors, especially the Reds
Time with my kid
Seeing other friends that I have missed on other visits
My hometown with gratitude for having a privileged childhood
Victorian houses
Harvard square
A whistling tea kettle
Meeting my laws
Flying in a simulator
One donut
Baked stuffed lobster
Boston common
Boston gardens
My husband
Getting in and out of the US
The coop with all its English books
TheScooby-Scooby II meeting
Seeing where Rick grew up
showing Rick and LLara where I grewup

Life is so, so good

Monday, September 29, 2014

Three conversations


Rick: (after leaving some of my friends) I had trouble understanding them sometimes.

Me: But they have the same Boston accent, I do.

Rick: Sometimes I can't understand you.


This shows our different interests.  We said this at the same time.

Rick: Look, there's a golf course.

Me: Look, there's a forensics center.


At a gas station with a kid whose hair is growing out from a Mohawk. We are just outsider Montreal.

Me: ou est la toilette.

Lui: Droit, droit, fhju hydro Huron barre humusq

After several attempts I learned that he was trying to tell me that if itwere closed someone was in there and a key was unnecessary. Barre is used more than fermer.

Garbage cans and corn

In Argelés, the garbage truck acts as an alarm, usually earlier than we want to get up, but there is the pleasure of rolling over for a bit more sleep. The trucks are small because the houses were built when cows and carts were the mode of transportation not big cars. The width would not allow an SUV to pass comfortably, a cause for rejoicing.

This morning we woke to the sound of a much bigger garbage truck. We are on the 15th floor in the centre of Montreal. It made us feel at home.

Last night as soon as we arrived we boiled our New England corn. European corn is like a fifth cousin at best. It evokes the memory of buying freshly picked corn from a farm stand, rushing home to shuck it as water bubbled on the stove.

Granted the corn had travelled but it had retained most of its flavored.

I chewed slowly because in this world of everything available, I would be surprised if I will be back to buy it.

I will be back in Argelés to hear the garbage trucks.

Sensations of home come from so many different sources.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

BnB with a surprise.

We've been using www.airbnb for out travels, preferring the personal over the sterile corporate of the chains.

In the UK and France they have a contest between BnB owners. I love watching, them seek out a speck of dirt, a too-hard towel. However, we like looking at the good parts.

So far each one has been an adventure.

Here's what we've found.

Arans, Andorra

A two bedroom flat, stone walls beautiful decorations in a converted farm house. It was so lovely we want to go back for two weeks of writing and mountain walks in the spring.

Collonge,  Switzerland

Why did we stay in this Swiss BnB near the lake a few minutes from my address? My housemate's sons were home occupying spare rooms. We were only there for one nigh, but the charming hostess and I will have filet des perches, when, I am back. 

Cambridge, MA

A loft in an architect's home on a street with Victorian houses and brick sidewalks. There was amazing artwork. It might be hard to read, but this poster had license plates from the states in alpha order. The words on them make up the opening of the Declaration of Independence.

Acton, MA

From city to country, with a one bedroom, living room and kitchen next to a brook.

Montreal, Canada

We saved the best for last...a  condo on the fifteenth floor in the heart of the city.

After a drive through magnificent color, and about thirty kilometers of traffic jam, we opened the door to flat 1501. We were told it would be unlocked.

Instead of a spotless place there were dishes in the sink, dirty clothes on the floor and a slightly frightened medical student studying for her exam the next day.

A quick discussion, a check of our reservation, we apologized and went to 1510. The day before we left we brought her a bouquet of yellow flowers as an apology for scaring her. I hope from now on she locks the door. She did pass her exam.

Rick and I are so suited to each other. We both have the ability to do this type of stuff.

He has dueling blogs at http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/2014/09/whos-that-woman-in-our-bed.html and http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/2014/09/10-lessons-learned.html


My dreams are usually vivid and detail-filled. They have color,  sounds and sometimes even smells.

Last night in this BnB with the brook outside I had two.

Dream one

I was in Paris with BV, an artist I had worked with for years and had lunch within Thursday in Inman Square, where we had often eaten in the seventies and eighties. He was driving. The other passenger in the car was the long dead Jacques Brel.

The roads were narrow, cobbled stones with buildings so close the car almost scraped them. Brel asked if we wanted to go back. We did not.

We turned a corner and the road became a red carpeted, steep hill.  At the bottom were barriers like the kind at a movie theatre, with gold posts and velvet ropes. Well dressed people welcomed us to NY.

No customs.

Later as we drove along Storrow Drive in Cambridge, I worried about getting back to Europe.

Dream two.

I took the baby doll someone had given me to the centre place in Argeles. I fell asleep on the sand. When I woke there was lightning in the sky. People were packing up to leave.

The doll was face down in the water. I did not want to get my feet wet, but I rescued it anyway and squeezed the water out of it.

On the walk back to the village the rain soaked my clothes. I ducked into an old age home,although I real life there is none on that row.

The beard

The men at the table kitty corner to us were chattering and laughing not unlike a group of girlfriends.

The breakfast and lunch restaurant had a yesteryear feel not because it had been deliberately designed, but left over from yesteryear.

Waitresses in jeans scuttled about bringing cholesterol-soaked meals.

Rick and I had chosen it as part of our-support-the locals philosophy rather than the chain Dunking ' Donuts across the street. I'd already indulged my love of their raisin cinnamon bagels and fallen in love with their pumpkin spice latte, but we wanted real not chain.

We were not disappointed with the old-fashioned menu of things like corned beef hash and potato pancakes.

Back to the men.

One wore a scarf on his head, pirate style. He must have been pushing a good 300 pounds of what looked like muscle. The others could have been getting ready for a day's work on the construction crew.

The man at the end of the table perhaps in his forties had a graying beard, neatly trimmed EXCEPT for the middle, which he had grown and braided. It reached past his chest.

They left.

We finished our meal and left too. Along with our happy tummies and taste buds we chocked up another good memory of our adventure.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Nostalgia personified

My last night in the US, maybe forever. I am not sure I'll ever be back. An emergency with my daughter would be a good reason to come back, although an emergency is anything but good.

I've captured some hodgepodge photos of new and old memories of our I'll show you my childhood, if you show me yours trip.

It has been wonderful to see people that I would never see otherwise. There were many others I wanted to see but there was no time. I tended to see those that will not visit me in Europe or can meet up some place in Europe.

Meeting Rick's family was wonderful and seeing where he grew up brought visuals to his stories.

Today was my turn to show him my hometown. Llara was with us. 

This was the cottage where she was conceived. We had wonderful Italian landlords and my daughter's middle name, Kay, comes from my landlady. So many nights when I came home from work, Kay would call, tell me not to cook. Rick I if he wasn't working and I, or me alone would go over to the best Italian food imaginable.

Llara spent only her first year in Reading.

We passed the house where I grew up, at 200 Grove Street. Many of the pine trees have been cut down, but the huge rocks I played on were still there. There is still a Robert Frost stone wall surrounding the property. We had 14 acres of land with apple trees, blueberry patches, and a garden. All the land has been broken up into house lots now.

Rick would have loved to play golf at Meadow Brook Golf Club. As a kid I took lessons there and not always willingly. Saturday mornign cartoons were much more interesting.

My daughter made us a Texmex meal and I met my grand kitty. Scooby II met his dad, but that's another blog.

As we drove around the area Rick noticed that there is a dearth of Street signs...not as bad as Barcelona, however.

Walking and talking with a high school friend, we saw a rainbow in the sprinkler, a good symbol of the trip. It was like a pot of gold.

And we couldn't figure out why there was no arrivals board at South Station where we went to meet up with my old boss.

Red leaves thrilled me. I admire Rick for not saying "enough all ready" as I oohed and ahed over each patch of red. As pretty as the autumns in Switzerland are, they can't match the reds and oranges of New England peeking through the yellows. The drive north to Montreal was like living in a rainbow.


We bought more corn on the cob and fresh cider at Russell Farms, where we used to get fresh veggies. It was also where my brother and I would argue over which pumpkin would make the best jack-o'lantern. My mother would toast the seeds for an after school snack.

The Boston State House has special meaning for me, not just because I lobbied there for the Equal Rights Amendment. My grandfather had done some of the structural engineering work when it was being renovated.

Walking through Harvard Yard, we spotted a dig, looking into some of the Indian College artifacts. Harvard Square was where my housemates, Llara and I went to dinner many Saturday nights with coins for the street musicians. We'd load up at the bookstores for our reading matter during the coming week.

It is impossible to recapture several decades of living in a few days. It is possible to say good bye and be at peace with the decision.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Plain vanilla

My blogs have been plain vanilla while we are traveling. I miss posting photos and playing with colors.

Oh well!

When I get home I'll get back to the pistachio, coffee, cream brûlée flavoured blogs

Thursday, September 25, 2014


If I had closed my eyes, I could imagine the man answering a question in history class or the woman talking us thru an exam on the Norton Anthology book II for a final.  For three years, six semesters we'd shared at least three required courses.

After graduation we lost track. As so often happens, couples don't mesh as individual friends do.

Rick and I were sitting on their patio, surrounded by their garden and a bunny or two which were totally ignored by their lab and Yorkie.

We ate baked stuffed lobster, as we kinda caught up on the past 44 years. More of the conversation was about today and the future, our mutual interests which are as many as there were in the distant past.

The visit ended much too soon. The only downside of this trip is time constraints. I'd love to spend days and days with those many people who have so enriched my life.

As we were leaving, the man made a confession. He said he never really liked my ex, Rick I. Rick II was much, much better. I agreed.

Harvard Square and stepping into rivers


A lifetime ago my two housemates and my daughter would head to Harvard Square for family night. It was a chance to catch up on the week's activities. Between night classes, working, having my daughter home from where she went to school, and demanding jobs there was always a lot to talk about. We would plan the weekend, which often involved the latest project on the house we were renovating.

I once worked in the Square, and often met my high School friend Mardy at the Blue Parrot. the Casablanca tea room and Passim's

Last night while searching for a parking place, most of what I knew was gone. It was reassuring to see Bartley's burgers and Charlie's kitchen in place. The children's bookstore Curious George remains in business.

Caudillos, a fancy grocery store had scaffolding. I have bought tiny chocolate cups there that I would fill with a chocolate liquor and float in coffee making a fancy moccha drink. The idea of taking some home crossed my mind, but I expect they would be crushed on the trip. It didn't matter. They no longer sell them.

I told Rick about the night we saw a streaker, then another and another, their din dongs barely dangling in the night air. It had to be fraternity stunt.

The Square was plagued with kamikaze bicycles. Few had lights or even reflectors. He commented he thought there should have been rules. I do not try to make sense of a country that allows kids to play with guns but forbids toys in the chocolate Kindereggs as too dangerous.

The T fares are different. They have Charlie cards, a take off of the Kingston trio song from the fifties where Charlie was doomed forever to ride between the streets of Boston.

The Coop beckoned and the only difference was the books on display.

They say you cannot not step into a river twice in the same place. The same is true of a geographical location.

Today we went back in the daylight and roamed the red brick sidewalks, read Kennedy's words at the park near the school, walked to the river and watched the crews practice. We strolled through Harvard yard where students were preparing a dig to look for relics from the Indian College.

New memories.

I worked on Rick's speech. He does a good Bostonian: "I pahk my day in Hahvahd Yahd." Maybe because we were standing surrounded by the ivy-covered, brick buildings.

I may have dipped my toe in a new river but it was a lovely, lovely river.

The skin of our teeth

The ferry company had said to keep our reservation we had to be there 15 minutes early.

We were enjoying the drive to the tip of Long Island: The weathered-shingled houses, the farm stands with bright orange pumpkins, a McDos in a house that looked like a doctor's home and no sign, just a large metal m on the front door.

We'd left early enough or so we thought. A look at the map and the dashboard clock put the comfort zone away.

We were behind a Mercedes which kept trying to overtake a slow-moving truck to no luck on the narrow road.

"I bet he's going to the ferry, too,"Rick said.

The minutes seem to be deliberately not taking their full 60 seconds.

Then Dock Street appeared.

The Mercedes turned and heading for the loading ramp. We were right behind, the last car to arrive.

As the ferry pulled out into the calm water we knew we'd made it by the skin of our teeth. Neither of us could guess why the expression had evolved. After all, teeth don't have skin.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The pledge

The pledge of allegiance.

Some bemoan it is not required to be said each day in school, and when I disagree they frown.

The idea of reciting words without understanding what they mean always bothered me.

If we examine the wording, no one is pledging loyalty to the country, but to a piece of cloth. No one would pledge anything say to a Laura Ashley sheet no matter how beautiful. And yes there are the words about the republic for which it stands.

I remember when under God was not a part of the pledge, so does that mean that atheists cannot be loyal citizens?

A recent survey should how few students know much about the government. Even simple things like how Congress is set up.

How they can they pledge anything when they don't know what it is they are pledging themselves to?

They seem to know less about the history of their country. Another survey showed that a frightening percentage could not answer a majority of the questions required to acquire citizenship.

Better that more time be spent on educating people on the history, with both the good and bad things the country has done, how to be a good responsible citizen, how things work in reality as well as the dream of the wonderful theory, then maybe, just maybe, there might be liberty and justice for all.

Then the pledge would no longer be a meaningless mantra.

On the road again.

We are on the road again.

Destination daughter.

We were bad planners because of all the people we missed and those we have seen it is much too fast to really share as I want to.

I shouldn't be surprised. When I was first living in Switzerland and went back to Boston, my attempts to see everyone were insane. I even met one friend at the dentist. She could talk but my responses were more of the ahhhh variety because my dentist's fingers were in my mouth.

This is the reason I love having people come to me where we can have long chats over tea or coffee maybe still in pjs, maybe on the way to see some site.

It is also a reminder that time with loved ones and liked ones is precious and I must never, ever take it for granted.

Monday, September 22, 2014

"Can you climb in that skirt?"

Rick might say I look nice when I am dressed for any occasion. This time I was in a suit for a business meeting, but I did not think anything about his rather strange question.

Thus when we arrived at the client I was merely thrilled that I could see inside the flight training simulator.

Toby, the instructor, greeted me.

I stepped back to let Rick sit in the co-pilot seat. After all, it would be his story to write.

"You are flying,"  Rick said. Now his early question made sense as I tried to climb into the seat.

A flight training simulator has graphics so real that it is difficult to believe that one is in a globe. The globe moves in a way that it is impossible to tell the difference between it and being in a real plane. The controls are identical to a specific model.  This one was a Falcon, a corporate jet.

Toby let me take off on our flight to Long Island. We made it night. We created a storm.  We stalled it and started the plane and finally I landed the plane.

"Congratulations," Toby said. "You've landed in Hampton. Unfortunately, your car is back in New Jersey."

For a second I wondered about renting a car to drive back, before remembering I had never left New Jersey...the entire flight was simulated.

I do not think my half hour flight qualifies me to apply for a pilot post, but I do know I can put a sequence with a pilot at the controls and have it accurate.

I do know that my husband gave me a thrilling experience that I would never have thought possible to have.

The remote

We are still in the hotel room and Rick has the remote. Each ... Equals a click

Nine five...chocolate cake...foundation...paid announcement...we're going to explain...tired of living in pain...disappeared...amazing turnout.

Combined with the visual just as I wonder what the next word is the screen changes along with the words.

As a writer I wonder if I could turn it into a story.

At nine five the police made an announcement, but not a paid one. A chocolate cake had been stolen from a foundation dedicated to helping people who were tired of living I pain. Help from an amazing turn out of people who searched for the cake that disappeared. Many brown crumbs were found on the plate where the cake was last seen.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

On the road again

Everyone has heard of the saying, "If it is Tuesday, it must be Belgium."  Now that we are leaving a visit where I was able to meet with Rick's wonderful family, we are more in a situation where we could say, "If  it's lunch, it must be Belgium."

There are so many people that I would like to see but with Rick's appointments I will miss several people I'd like not just to see but to spend a lot of time with.  Instead this trip is a study in logistics with the beginning of red fall leaves and corn on the cob thrown in as we hurl ourselves from destination to destination.

I miss you

Dear laptop

I was wrong. I should have taken you on holiday. I can picture you all alone on my desk next to the mousepad with the three Japanese chins.  I see my pig sticking out of  the USB port trying to comfort you, and reminding you that he too was left behind.

It's not your fault that you are so much heavier then my new iPad. Both of you have a certain beauty. The aqua iPad has an in your face color. Your silver tone with the swirls engraved is a classic look. You are the Grace Kelly and the iPad is more a Lady Gaga.

But I miss you. For what I want to do you are the one and only in my heart.

Love DL

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rock, paper, scissors

As kids my brother and I would solve disputes with the game rock, paper scissors.

On the count of three we would shake out our hand.

Two fingers extended were scissors.

A flat hand is paper.

A fist is rock.

Rock breaks scissors.

Scissors cut paper.

Paper covers rock.

Rick is  very considerate and is always wanting to carry my things but when he is loaded down it is not fair. Until now we would argue slightly...please let me, no, please let me,no please let...

At the airport he had four things to tote or roll. I had two. We did the usual let me no let me conversation then I hit upon the old rock, scissors, paper game.  Three tries later my paper covered his rock,I picked up my backpack and went up the escalator without worry or guilt he was shouldering too much.

Friday, September 19, 2014


A Chinese woman, small and smiley, got on the elevator at La Maternité, part of HUG (Les Hôpitaux universitaires de Genève).

I was there for my regular check up after my breast surgery. This wonderful health system keeps tabs on me even three years later.

Rick has put my blogs written into that time into a Kindle book available here.

All profits go to the group that funds mammograms for women. If you're a woman reading this, please get mammograms. I wrote the blogs to make sure no matter what the outcome I would give the experience meaning. Fortunately, I didn't have to write too much because we caught that naughty little tumour in time.

However, that isn't the subject of this blog.

We all got off on the wrong floor after saying the polite au revoirs. Then we got back on and laughed about getting off on the wrong floor.

When we wished her a good day, she told us it already was. She'd had a kidney transplant, and a young one, from a 15 year old girl. That they found one for her at all is a miracle. Not enough people donate organs. I did wonder about the donor's parents. Are they grateful that part of their daughter is giving someone else life?

We talked about preserving our childlikeness.

We went our separate ways, all of us deeply grateful for the gift of life.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I kept my promise

Over a month ago Rick and I were heading back to France on the train. Because of track work, the first leg of the journey was by bus. We'd be on the bus at least a half hour.

As always we arrived well in advance. But then I had to pee. I mean PEE.  PEE!

It was too long to get to the train station's pay toilet. The bus was due at any minute. I ran to the hotel Montbrilliant directly behind the station.

"Our toilets are for our clients," the waiter told me. It was early and the staff were preparing the tables for lunch

I garbled out things like bus, no time, desperation, couldn't not wet my pants before Bellgarde, where the bus would take us. My French becoming less and less understandable.

Finally the man behind the bar told me to go ahead and waved his hand toward the stairs leading to the blessed toilet.


Coming back up the stairs, I told him, "I promise when I'm back in Geneva, I'll eat here."

Yesterday I kept the promise.

Rick pronounced the menu du jour of ham some of the best he'd ever eaten. He even liked the green beans and the snowpea pods. He wolfed down the potato au gratin.

I kept my promise. It wasn't hard.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Herr Hare, Honey Bunny and Scooby II hug at their reunion in Geneva. They were even happier to learn that Rick and DL would take them on their trip, although Honey Bunny was worried that Petite Cougar would be upset at being left behind in Argelès.

Let's face it women are always more sensitive to these kinds of dynamics.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Covering Banderas with guacamole

I am 72 and a writer

Isabelle Allende is 71 and a writer.

This video is a very funny presentation but the sentiment of living life to the fullest is right on.

If you know her story as well as her books, you know she has had great pain in her life, yet she embraces life with a passion.

And her secret erotic passion. To put Banderas on a Tortilla slather him with guacamole and eat him.

Not sure about Banderas as a snack but to live with passion is certainly on my daily to do list.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Le Train Bleu morphs into the Montreux Jazz Cafe

When people fly into Geneva, we tell them to meet us at the Montreux Jazz Cafe on the arrivals floor, where the acts from different festivals are constantly playing on the screens.

When I used to leave Paris early in the morning from the Gare du Lyon I'd always eat petit déjeuner at the brasserie for Le Train Bleu with its wall paintings from La Belle Epoque and its long-aproned waiters.

Thus when Rick and I were to meet up Wednesday at the Gare du Lyon he was arriving earlier. I suggested he wait at Le Train Bleu and if we didn't meet on the quai, I'd go there. 

He was at the quai and told me that Le Train Bleu had morphed into the Montreux jazz cafe.

I was horrified. I love the Jazz cafe which is owned by a watch company Parmigiani Fleurier in the Vals de Travers where I lived 1990-1993 but Le Train Bleu was something special.

However the brasserie was only part. Up a staircase was the main restaurant which has been in existence since 1901. It has appeared in a number of movies.
Thus when leaving Paris to go back to Geneva, we ate at the Jazz Cafe and listened to the musicals on the screen from the 2013 festival where once had been wonderful murals.

I stayed with the luggage and sent Rick upstairs to admire the main restaurant.

This is for you Doug

It was well over 10 years ago when my beloved cousins Doug and Ellen visited me in Geneva. At one point, Doug who didn't expect to come back to Europe expressed his regret he'd never see the Eiffel Tower.

"No problem," I said. "We'll go Saturday." He was unaware that the TGV takes about 3.5 hours city to city.

We arrived in the city of light, ate in the Latin Quarter, went out to see the Eiffel tower and then went back to Gare du Lyon to catch the train back to Geneva.


Our train was cancelled because of a strike, giving my cousins a true French experience. And in true French form the next train was running.

I changed our reservations and dropped my tickets into my backpack, but when I wanted to give Doug and Ellen theirs, they had dropped to the bottom of my backpack. I knelt down on the floor and started digging through the backpack much like a dog searching for his buried bone.

Doug knelt in front of me and started digging exactly the same way.

Although it wasn't that funny, we started giggling then laughing and we couldn't stop. And couldn't stop and couldn't stop, and couldn't stop. One of us would get control for a second and the other would dig.

Poor Ellen was helpless as she watched.

We did get control.

We did get back to Geneva.

The next day my muscles were sore from the laughter.

It's a good reason to have sore muscles.

Today I was at the Gare du Lyon. I found the spot where we did and took this photo for Doug.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The bunnies at Montmarte

Honey Bunny: I can't believe we're here in Paris. And Montmartre with all the artists.

Herr Hare: Petite Cougar will be so upset. I'm sorry she's not with us.

Honey Bunny: Me too. I love the salad.

Herr Hare: But not the Croque Madame.

Honey Bunny: So tomorrow, it's back to Geneva.

Herr Hare: So I hear. 

Honey Bunny: I wonder what our next adventure will be.

A CNN poll makes me feel ill

Granted this is not a scientific poll. 14 years ago on Thursday the US was attacked. Yet Americans are willing to attack other countries. Don't they think that people in those countries are as afraid as they were on 9/11?

Does a bomb landing on a person in the US feel any worse than a bomb landing on a person in Syria, Pakistan, Yemen or any other country that the US is bombing?

What military action of the US has worked out well in the last 20 years?

How many groups have the US armed only to end up fighting them a few years later?

When the US was attacked, it only made people angry, seeking revenge. Why don't Americans think that their attacking other countries will only increase the desire for revenge and perpetuate war?

The willingness to cause misery to other people sickens me. 

Poor Petite Cougar...

All alone in Argelès. Scooby II hid in D-L's suitcase because he wants to go to the US and meet his father.

Rick took Honey Bunny and Herr Hare with him to run the camera while he proposed.


Shower thinking

When I worked for IEC, my boss and I would start many conversations with "I was in the shower this morning and..."

What followed was what ever idea that had come into our minds.

As a child we didn't have a shower, but an old fashioned footed tub.

I was bathed with my kid brother UNTIL he deliberately peed in the water.

I went on a life-long not-bathing-with-him strike.

As an adult and I discovered showers in Germany, I went decades without taking a bath until I was in a hotel in Poland that only had baths.

Okay, I thought. I'll try a bath at home with candles and Enya in the background.

Did I like it?

Nah, I still felt dirty when I got out of a bath even though my brother is nowhere in sight and hasn't been for years. We aren't even on the same continent.

I love showers. They heat my bones in cold weather and cool me off in summer's heat. 

I write mentally in the shower and sometimes words are dancing in my head to a point I almost forget where I am.

And this blog?

Created in the shower.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear NSA--about bar codes

Dear NSA...

Rick and I were on the Champs-Elysèe yesterday and we saw this poster with the stripes on the roof and striped side-view mirrors, which I love.

But I have a question. I've read that all cars are going to have tracking systems which means the police or you guys can find a car anytime, anyplace.

I know there are ways to track cars because I used one in Murder in Ely which will be out in April. And there are companies that sell the products that allow it on the Internet. But every car automatically? Is it true?

But when I looked at the stripes on the roof, it looked like bar coding so maybe that's how you'll do it.


The boy beggar

We were buying our metro tickets at La Defense...

A skinny little boy stood next to the machine trying to tell us how do it with a few words of broken English. He had a cup in his hand.

For some reason Rick's debit card didn't work, although it was fine the rest of the day. He used another and the tickets came out.

The boy and I pumped "Yeses." 

I gave him two Euros.

I walked away feeling badly that a child that young was a beggar. He could have been a gypsy child, the child of very poor parents, but he was a child with big brown eyes that was leading a very hard life.

I went back and asked him how old he was.


"Merci," I said, knowing I could do nothing to change his life.

He put his hands together and bowed and I walked away.

The proposal

My husband is a romantic.

He originally had planned to propose at the top of the Tour Eiffel. However, things didn't work out, but he didn't give up.

No matter, that we had our ceremony Aug. 10, 2013.

Back in Paris this week, we headed for the Tower.

Here I feel badly, because he wanted to go the top. I'm terrified of heights. Thus, he good naturedly revamped his plans. (I feel badly, still, that I'm a chicken)

Wanting to capture the moment on video (we're a family that tapes, blogs, Facebooks and photographs our lives). I watched him pull Herr Hare and Honey Bunny out of his manbag.

He also had brought the box my engagement ring had come in. Then he proposed again.

With tears in my eyes I said, "YES!"

(Note: A number of husbands of friends are saying he's making them look bad.)

Onion Soup in Paris X2

The onion soup advertised in the restaurant along the Champs-Elysée seemed tempting. Enough to starve off his hunger and not enough to stuff me so soon after I'd eaten breakfast. 

We wanted to save room as well for the Syrian food from our hostess that evening.

I was reminded of the time I took Llara to Paris at age nine. It was time for her to learn more about the world than just the East Coast US.

We walking down the Champs-Elysée. The day before she wanted to eat at McDonald's. I'd given in only so she could see the differences. That day was my choice. 

She ordered the onion soup. When it arrived, she commented that our housemate Bill's was better. She was right.

However, the soup Rick and I had was almost as good as his.

Here's his recipe.

4 large white onions
olive oil
1 quart of beef bouillon
thin sliced french bread toasted or made into croutons

Saute the onions in olive oil until transparent, sprinkle with flour and ginger, add the bouillon and simmer for a half and hour. Serve in bowls with croutons and the shredded mozzarella.

There are more elaborate methods but this is quick and easy.


Comedy of errors in Paris

My hostess carefully explained the alarm system.  I wrote it on a post-it and put it by the door. The next morning was gone, but I remembered how to set the alarm.

Outside, I realized I'd forgotten my dark glasses.

I also had forgotten what to push to deactivate the alarm.

Boy was it loud.

I needed to call my hostess which meant...

Finding the telephone...

Finding glasses to read the telephone number.

Just then the landline rang.

"What's going on?" My hostess asked. "The alarm company called."

She added that she'd told the company to shut off the alarm.

"It's happened before," she told me later.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Screwing around

The screw came out of the glasses that I use for working on the computer.

Because I'm leaving for Paris in the morning, I mentally added in time to go to the optician on my way to the train station. 

I'd forgotten how competent my housemate is. AND ORGANIZED!!!

She brought out her eye repair kit with the screws and tiny screwdriver, put a facecloth over the drain in the sink and went to work.

There was the time I found her in the Japanese restaurant Mikadoo taking a drain apart to retrieve her missing contact. Normally she does the facecloth trick to prevent losing her contacts down our drain, but she wasn't at home when she had to remove her contact thus no facecloth that day.

Good thing we did it this time, because we kept dropping the tiny screw from the repair kit.

Why do it over the sink?

Best lighting. Easier to find the screw in the sink than on the floor.

I wish I'd counted the failures. It didn't help that we began to giggle (probably had nothing to do with the champagne and popcorn consumed earlier).

We'd get the two parts lined up, but the screw was so tiny that any movement (giggle=movement) meant it fell. Even a tiny screw makes a cute click on ceramic. It makes no sound on a washcloth.

I finally cupped my hands under the glasses as she worked  with the screw in a Oliver Twist "More, Sir, Please" position to save finding the screw in the washcloth threads.

We wished we counted the tries. I couldn't see well enough without my glasses to be much help. She improved her own eye-finger co-ordination after removing her contacts.

Mission accomplished.

As she put the remainder of the eye repair kit away she discovered it came with a magnifying glass.

My housemate did her version of our screwing around late at night http://viewsfromeverywhere.blogspot.ch/http://viewsfromeverywhere.blogspot.ch/

This is not a complaint

It is a statement of fact not a complaint.

I'm frustrated.


I've too much to do, some of it my fault.

1. A newsletter to finish.

2. Another to mark up. Because I won't be working on my upcoming trip I need to make sure my clients receive something. I drive myself too hard for I am issues ahead of the promised number.

3. Murder in Schwyz, needs a final check to get off to my publisher.

4. I want to get back to writing Murder in Edinburgh. That's where I'm frustrated. I can't seem to get to the novel.

5. I want to finish my mother's recipe blogs.

6. I want to play more computer games.

7. I want to check more news sites.

8. I want to watch DVDs with my housemate.

9. I want to Skype with my husband.

We've got some great travel coming up which will slow up the novel writing.

What's the problem?


I try and cram too much into anyone day.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The world's biggest caper

Being too lazy too cook, but not too lazy to go to Marro (Marronier in Collonge-Bellerive) for lunch, I walked to the next village through the late, lush summer country side. The trees and grapevines are all ladened with fruit.

Manager Antonio gave me his usual warm greeting.

My starter had what I think could compete for the world's biggest caper. I  enjoyed two bites not the usual one. The rabbit was falling-off-the-bone tender. The chef told me the rice had coriander, mint, ginger and several other herbs and spices explaining why it was so luscious.

As always, when I go to a restaurant alone, I had a book with me, but that doesn't stop me from observing the activity.

An Italian grandmother and grandson were at the table in front of me. The chef chatted with her in Italian and when the little boy's pizza arrived it had two extra pieces, rabbit ears and there were two olive eyes.

Then as the grandmother was paying the bill, the little boy dived under the table. The waitress, Cecile, whom I've not seen before, automatically put her hand on the corner of the table so he wouldn't hit his head when he emerged.

Love that restaurant because treatment is so personal, not just for those that are there often, but for the new customers as well.

On the walk back, I took a different route. There are just enough fallen leaves to perfume the air with the spirit of autumn.

I'm so, so happy.

The cover for my next novel

My publisher just sent the cover for my next novel due out in April. The cover, as have all my covers been, were designed by the talented Deirdre Wait using the photo taken by my equally talented housemate/photographer Julia.

The pair have done wonderful work on my last few covers. To see others the others check out my website.

I am so lucky to have my writing enhanced by these wonderful women.

Dear NSA

8 Sept. 2014

Dear NSA...

I don't know if you can help. Today I had to call the US Consulate in Bern and they have one of those answering machines that says if you want this press that, and that press this.

I pressed, pressed, pressed, pressed, pressed, pressed. Finally got to the information I wanted. They gave a web address. The only problem they gave it much too fast to take it down. I can just imagine if it were  French person listening where the letter i is pronounced e, e is i, j is g and g is j.

And they don't repeat it, so a caller has to go back to 0 with the press, press, press, press, press.

I'm not sure how much influence you have, but if you do have time, give them a buzz, please and tell them you had this suggestion.

Also if they give the information more slowly and longer, you'll have more time to clean information about the caller, so it's a win-win.

Have a lovely afternoon,


When clowns are sad

The clown stood in front of the UBS at Eaux Vives, saying "Bonjour, bonjour," to passers-by as they went in to withdraw money from the ATM machines and pay their bills on the Multimat (Switzerland gave up cheques decades ago).

There were only a few coins in his hat.

I didn't ask to take his photo, although I wanted to.

I did add to his coin collection.

The bank clown was missing a couple of teeth. The cartoon clown above is far more jolly. Despite the clown's cheery tone, he had an aura of desperation.

I couldn't help but wonder what brought him to a stage in life where he dressed as a clown and stood outside a bank hoping for lose change. Yet at the same time he still was "earning" his living by offering himself as entertainment rather than just begging.

Perhaps that gave him a sense of pride. I hope so.

Why the animals

Regular readers, whom I know, have asked, "Why the animals?"

It goes back to when my daughter was in high school. Whenever she didn't do something, she blamed it on the trauma of NOT having a stuffed Scooby. At the time none were available.

Fast forward several years. I hear from a friend that they are selling Scooby's at Quincy market and I ask him to buy one, give it to Llara and I'll send him a check. 

He did. 

I did.

Fast forward a few more years. Llara and Scooby are living with me in Geneva. Whenever she goes out I do something silly with Scooby. He sits in the bidet, he irons, he reads a book, etc.

Llara spends a lot of time wondering if she is the adult in the mother-daughter relationship.

Fast forward still more years. Julia and I visit Llara's dorm in Scotland where she's studying for a masters. We see Scooby. We do something with him that I no longer remember.

Fast forward, just a bit more. Llara and Scooby are back with me in Geneva. Rick is there too. He learns about it. His creative mind goes to work and Scooby goes to restaurants, helps him cook beef stew, suns himself at the lake, etc.

My housemate J, also with a great creative mind gets caught up in the game. Scooby travels to the mountains with and recounts his adventures. She even makes up a wonderful, wonderful book of the combined blogs of the three of us about Scooby and gives them to Llara and I for Christmas.

The story evolves. Scooby has an affair with my Petite Cougar (a gift from Rick because I'm older than he is.)

He loves her and leaves her and then Scooby II is born.

Two stuffed rabbits, Honey Bunny and Herr Hare appear in the house (I think Rick got them at a conference). Rick and I are now spending time in Argelès.

When there are two writers in a house, the possibilities just keep coming. They help Petite Cougar take care of the baby who is always getting into trouble. Of course this is documented in blogs and on Facebook. Scooby II's trip to St. Petersburg still has to appear in a blog (hint, hint, hint Rick).

The adventure continues. I believe Scooby II will do anything to visit with his father when we travel to the States.He's already hidden himself in my suitcase when I came back to Geneva and we'll be leaving from Geneva.

My daughter is still shaking her head while Julia, Rick and I all believe being adult is vastly overrated.