Saturday, January 31, 2015

Two sides to every story (or more)


A man and a woman are in a car. He runs over their cat.

Man's side of the story: The cat ran in front of the car.

Woman's side of the story: If you were driving slowly, you wouldn't have hit the cat.

Cat's side: I knew I had a painful cancer, so decided to commit suicide by running in front of the car.


When I was teaching communications at Webster, I had the students do a role play. There was an HR person, a supervisor and an employee that was causing a problem. Those not involved had to write up a written warning.

Each person in the role play had the details of the problem which I created. They could embellish or ignore but they couldn't lie about the basics.

At the end we read what the observers had to say. Interestingly enough many missed the main facts of the situation based partially on what was said and wasn't said.

Mainstream media and RT

I've heard several mainstream politicians including Clinton and Kerry attack RT. As Rick says, RT must pose a threat to attack it so frequently. It is true, RT does not tote the US party line. It has dissident voices that would never be heard on US mainstream media. It does not have paid ex-generals working for defense companies telling the audience why was is good.

US Broadcasting Board of Governors Andrew Lack told The New York Times that RT posed a considerable challenge to US state media, comparing it to terrorist organizations like ISIS and Boko Haram. Notice the term "state media" and think censorship.

I personally like RT (along with the media for several other countries for a different perspectives). Fact checking when I can they seem to be telling the truth. I distrust them a little less of the Ukraine/Russia crises.

I have a certain amount of faith in Al Jazeera. Both my Arab friends and the CIA think they are too biased for the opposite side, which is why I have faith in them.

As a former journalist I know that news can be slanted not just in the choice of words, but also in the quotes used and the stories that are emphasized and ignored.

I believe that all news should be regarded as a search for a hidden agenda.

With the world in the turmoil that it is in, unless people educate themselves on what is happening we will all descend into the Neo-Medieval Age with a few rich and the rest of the world's on a damaged planet as serfs and slaves.

Note: CNN went off our cable network in the warren. It still is on in the nest, so if I need to know each minute detail of an air crash I can go up and watch.

Turkey solutions

I adore my housemate's creativity.

Yesterday I blogged about the butcher misunderstanding and instead of giving me a complete turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner I'm holding (yes I know it's not November--all is explained in the blog) it was turkey slices. I asked for ideas on how to rescue the meal.

You can read her blog here but this is the jist. I know she won't mind my copying her work.

Who would have thought to tell the butcher that you wanted a "whole" bird!
So here are my thoughts on how to turn it into a proper Thanksgiving turkey:
  • Slip it into something that won't burn onto it during the process (pantyhose came to mind, but I reckon they couldn't take the heat, which leads me to other – thoughts as to heat and panty hose…),
  • Get a good pair of iron clamps...
  • Take a needle and some good thick black thread and sew the bits together....
  • Take a picture of a properly roasted turkey and paste to skin once done...
  • Lots of string and tie it back together?

Or, as you are a writer and have plenty of imagination, make up a story/poem/sonnet as to how a whole bird became parts, parts that will magically become whole again as they eat. Here are some models.
She even enclosed a photo for me. I  don't see the pantyhose.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cross cultural culinary glitch

I have two great Muslim friends who made an incredible meal for me in November complete with couscous and other Mid Eastern delicacies. I promised them a typical American meal. Sunday will be the day.

Texmex wouldn't do it, so my next thought was to do a Thanksgiving meal. 

They are devout so I made sure I ordered a turkey from the Halal butcher and today I went to pick it up.

It was a complete turkey, nicely sliced into escallops. I had not said a whole turkey still together, something that isn't common here.

Too late to order another bird.

This will take some creative cooking. Anyone with any ideas on how to cook slices and slices of turkey and make them seem like roast turkey, let me know, please, please, please.

In any case, I'll let you know how it turns out.

In any case it will make great mealtime conversation.

Hitchcockian pig

My savings bank pig had a starring role in my dreams last night. Like Alfred Hitchcock's quick appearance in all his films, my pig was on every TV show Rick and I were watching. We would watch BBC news and the pig would pop in the Ukraine, he was in the bottom left hand corner of an Agatha Christie mystery. It didn't matter if it was a BBC or an ITV production, there was my busy, busy pig.

This morning, he doesn't look the least bit tired after all his dream hopping last night.

I shook him. He still has the same amount of change as he did before his acting career began.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mice marketing

Ever hear the cliché when the cat's away the mice will play?

Or the over written version -- when a feline leaves the abode that he or she calls home for any amount of time than small rodents cease the opportunity to amuse themselves in various forms of entertainment.

La Noisette is closed for a week's holiday. (Since I consider this place an extension of my home, it will be a long week).

One of the marché merchants thought this was a great way to extend her sales space.

She doesn't squeak, but because she's French, I expect that she loves cheese.

I threw away a book

We have limited shelf space and we are heavy readers and yes we have a Kindle.

Prior to Barbara's death her bookshop was a constant supply of books from junk to literary reading.

They were also a place to take read books.

That no longer exists. Some books are easy to dispose of because I know who else will read them, but some will only collect dust on my shelf for all time. Thus...the trash.

In Geneva, I use the worry about storage except for a few I really want to keep (not library books but those I have purchased.)

My grandfather had a reverence for books. New books were opened page by page with him running his finger down the inner spine, page by page. Bookmarks only. Thou shall not mark thy place by turning a corner of page was his 11th commandment.

Once when he hurt my feelings, my revenge was to tear a page out of one of his books (read) and then put it back on the shelf. He never found out unless in some celestial library he's reading this blog.

The trash isn't picked up until tomorrow morning. I've about 21 hours to change my mind and retrieve the book.

Note: I wrote the above yesterday. Rick found he books and pulled them out. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I discovered that...

I'm claustrophobic, not badly, but if I'm in the window seat of an airplane, or the middle of the row in a movie theater, I'm not at ease. I want a clear path to walk.

I will panic if one of our doors are locked and there's no key nearby but not to the point that I will break the glass.

I'm almost afraid to write this because the drug companies will decide to make it a real disease with expensive drugs but I've had at least three female friends describe the same thing in various degrees within a 24-hour period. Big pharma is always looking for new diseases to create medicines and up their profits.

Meanwhile, I don't want to give in to claustrophobia too much, but will continue to opt for aisle seats and a getaway path.

How can I not love a man

How can I not love a man, whose main fault is leaving dishes on the counter rather than putting them directly into the dishwasher?

How can I not love a man who puts up with my neurotic wanting everything in its place except when it is being used?

How can I not love a man who teases me about my neurosis when I so deserve them.

The answer...

I love him for putting up with me and all his other qualities of kindness, warmth, sharing, sense of humor, intelligence, intellectual curiosity, creativity, etc., etc., etc., etc. etc., etc. etc., etc..............

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Multi national news -- a plea

I've long maintained anyone who does not seek news from many countries doesn't know what is happening in the world. If a cable station doesn't carry other international news sources, at least it can be found on the Internet. Most major international outlets have English varieties.

This morning, check various sources I found the lead stories varied from country to country. Here's the lead list:
  • North East US blizzard
  • President of Venezuela firing her intelligence service after murder
  • Boko Haram
  • 70th Anniversary of Auschwictz
  • Justice department spying on millions of US drivers
  • Greek election
  • Euro drop
  • Ukraine attacks
It proves my point that any one news station or paper does not tell a complete story. To be an informed citizen it is necessary to work hard.

Why bother?

Because it is the future of our children, grandchildren and the planet as we head into the Neo Medieval period.

Note: CNN has been moved on our cable and we can't find it, but we look at it for plane crash news. I do check the CNN national and international websites.

Monday, January 26, 2015

two by two maybe maybe not

Thoughts on marriage

I was single for some 40 years and loved it. I'd see an unhappy married couple, and think, "Thank God, that isn't me."

I'd see a happy couple and think, "Thank God, that isn't me."

Many of my friends who are single, including those who have been happily married and are now widowed or those whose good marriages turned underwonderful and ended in divorce say, like I used to say, "I don't want a man in my life." Others would like a man on a limited basis but not underfoot 24/7.

I also realised that so many of my single friends from the last 40 years have married recently. I recently reviewed a book Holding out for a Hero about marriage after 40 by Lesley Lawson Boetz for those that see marriage as a goal. It was never one of mine.

I'll admit I adored my first husband, who existed in my imagination. We married because living together wasn't an option partially because of the time, and partially because my mother would have killed me. She wasn't too happy that I married him either, but that's another story.

Marriage in Europe has nothing to do with religion. The only legal marriage is sanctioned by the state and has to do with rights and responsibilities. A church wedding can be held if a couple wants to put a spiritual spin on the relationship. That is why I don't have a problem with gay marriage. It's basically a business deal which can help or hinder depending on the circumstances. I used to joke gays had a right to be as unhappily married as straight people. I'd see a bride and think, "another girl gone bad."

I guess I'm not a romantic when it comes to marriage.

When I worked in the US, I dreaded when any of my staff became engaged. That diamond did something to a woman's brain taking her from an efficient staff member into a creature obsessed with flowers, shoe colors of bridesmaid dressers, music and menus. The only medication to stop this brain illness was the wedding ring when the woman returned to her normal self.

Rick did change some of that -- to the shock of many of my friends and to my shock. I'm not sure on the shock meter who registered higher them or me.

He took my wonderful, wonderful single life and made it even better. Don't know how he did it, but he did.

So if there's another Noah's Ark, I guess he and I can walk hand in hand up to the deck, but I also hope every one I know who is still single can find a place on the boat too.

Please send me

Here's a list of personal documents I'd like everyone who thinks if they have nothing to hideand it is okay for the government to snoop to send me. If you don't care if the government looks at it, you shouldn't care if I look at all aspects of your life.

1. All your bank statements for the last ten years
2. All your tax forms for the last ten years, state and federal
3. A recording of every conversation on your telephone (mobile and land)
4. A copy of all your Skype transmissions addresses and exchanges
5. A copy of all your texts
6. Movies of you moving around your home in range of the webcam of your computer
7. A copy of every search you did on any search engine
8. A copy of all your job reviews
9. A list of everything you bought on your credit card
10. A copy of all your pay stubs including overtime and bonuses.

Please attach a tracker to your car so I will be able to tell where you are every minute.

It might give me some ideas for a novel.

Thanking you in advance...

Degrees of beautiful

I thought my street, rue Vermeille was beautiful. It has been named the most beautiful street in Argelès and rightfully so...




My friend KB sent me photos of 15 of the most beautiful streets in the world

What magic to look on them on a chilly morning. 

Most beautiful isn't a contest but a pleasure.

Multi tasking

I was sitting in the doctor's office and there was a delivery of 48 rolls of toilet paper. Now that's real security against sitting on the John (we've renamed it Jim) that we'll never be without. Of course, I wasn't about to steal the toilet paper.

What was I doing in the doctor's office? Waiting for my writing pal, the one I meet regularly to free write on some mutually agreed up on trigger.

She had hurt her hand and the local system is to show up in the office/surgery (to my Brit friends) and wait. We had scheduled the same time for writing.

Thus we sat in the waiting room and wrote for ten minutes starting with the line, "Ruby and I knew about Frankie's basement." Then she was called.

I would say it was multi-tasking except the receptionist in the same time handled at least 15 phone calls while signing in 6  patients. That's real multi-tasking.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Scooby II caught his father on television as I was flipping channels. He jumped up to give him a kiss, even though he knew that it was only a film image.

In the other room I could hear Scooby II's mother complaining about unpaid puppy support to Herr Hare and Honey Bunny.

Robert Burns goes international

It wasn't my first Burns night dinner, but it was one of the best. 

The reason?

A celebration of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns' (1759-1796) birthday. 

As a literature major I knew his work, but I learned a bit more about his life including his politics (like mine) his love for Jean, but also his ability to father children with gay (old sense of the word) abandon, although many did not survive into adulthood.

Of course, Burns was never at the restaurant in Villelongue dels Monts, France where the celebration was held, although with his love of France's trends in his time, I'm sure he would have approved.

We were greeted by the music for "Red Rose" and a single Red rose and baby breath on the bar (photo above).

The host and hostess dressed in proper kilt and tartan skirt respectively, plus the decorations including the special place cards left no doubt of the theme for the evening.

The haggis (a savoury pudding containing sheep parts mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, stock and simmered in an animals stomach or now a sausage casing) was brought forth with all due respect for the traditional dish.

Nary a morsel was left when toasts were given, poems were read and songs were sung.

And why was it so international? Besides the true Scots in attendance there were:
  • Americans
  • Belgians
  • Brits
  • Danes
  • Swedish
  • Swiss
The evening ended with the Burn's song "Auld Lang Syne".
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

It was more than a cup of kindness, and like old acquaintances the evening will not be forgotten.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The search for SII

Herr Hare and Honey Bunny keep a look out for Scooby II who has disappeared. I think Petite Cougar needs glasses because there's a lump under the bed spread that is distinctly bad puppy shape.
A single bloom falls
On our cold patio floor
Where does it come from?

It's a WHAT????

"It's made from a firehose," my friend said when her pocketbook (purse)* was admired.

She then told us the story of Elvis and Kresse who discovered that old firehoses after years of service saving lives ended up as landfill. 

The couple rescued them and working with designers gave this heroic piece of equipment new life as fashion and home accessories.

I love the idea of recycling. I love the idea of having something that I take for granted that has probably hundreds of stories to tell if only it was more verbal.

Their story is best told in their video but here's  photos.

*What I've called a pocketbook for years, Rick informed me is purse. A quick survey showed me that my vocabulary is sometimes stuck in old fashioned New Englandese.

The beauty of parts of buildings

I love the decorations on some of the buildings in Perpignan. The city was once described as the "armpit of France" but certainly has improved over the last couple of decades. Amazing what happens when infrastructure receives funding.

Friday, January 23, 2015


We saw Mr. Turner, the beautifully filmed and acted Mike Leigh movie about the eccentric English painter William Turner (1775–1851).

Although the story was true to Turner's life including his dying words, I found it needed grounding. Locales changed. We weren't sure what city of even what country we were in. I still want to know why the housekeeper had skin problems. Why did Turner lie so much about things like his name and having children?

There's a brilliant piece of body acting. Turner learns about the death of his daughter. Turner has his hands clasped behind his back and his fingers show his agitation, although he says nothing.

Turner also had the habit of grunting when someone said something to him.

When we got home I said to Rick, "Don't start to grunt."

"Get out of my mind," he replied. Still he couldn't resist. This morning, there was a clear "Grunt" as good as anything Turner did in the movie.

Two can play at the game.

Walking through the marché he asked me something.

My reply?


Less is more

Writing courses encourage the concept of less is more. But few people simplify finding the best one word rather than a raft of words. Here's some overwritten sentences with the simple version below.

 1. When a tear appears in clothing you have two choices: fix it immediately or let it go longer which means that you probably will have to do much more work with your thread and needle.

2. Having enough sleep by retiring into one's sleeping spot does much to improve one's health and gives them the fortitude to think better.

3. The genetic make up of a paternal person is often replicated in the male offspring.

4. If you want an example not to follow, think of a feline who is hungry and can see a fish, which would solve his hunger, but prefers for reasons of comfort to not dip his paw into the liquid where the fish is swimming.

5. You never know what will happen when you meet someone new. It is possible, given time and concurrent interests that a mutually beneficial relationship might happen.

6. I don't require a lot from someone who cared deeply for me, but if you really do care, you will have a similar affection for my canine companion.

Now the simple version.

1. A stitch in time saves nine.

2. Early to bed, early to wise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

3. Like father like son.

4. Do not be like the cat who wanted a fish but was afraid to get his paws wet.

5. Strangers are just friends waiting to happen. 

6. Love me, love my dog.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mamie update

I've written before about my favorite many of the old Catalan women in the village she has never travelled, walks around in an apron and could be part of a Peter Mayle book (my complaint with his A year in Provence, is that it makes fun of the natives who have their own dignity.)

I don't feel superior at all to this Mamie. She writes, she takes photos, knits and crochets. She tries to make beauty wherever she goes with as little as she has. She cares, as evidenced by her excitement that on Thursdays at 10:30 I could attend an English Mass. I did spread the word to my Catholic anglo friends, and may even go once so she will not worry about my soul.

This is her front door.

Today I was walking by and I heard her singing through an open window "Kombucha my Lord, Kombucha."

She has a lovely voice too.

That airplane is going so slow

We were driving away from the Perpignan airport when Rick noticed the plane. It looked suspended in the air.

Finally it angled itself to land on the runway.

"It's  Beluga Airbus." Rick was excited. As an airline journalist, he's like a little boy with anything having to do with planes.

The plane is a version of the A300-600 modified to carry over-sized cargo. Originally named the Super Transporter the name Beluga, because of its resemblance to the whale became popular. Bending to its popularity, the company made it the official name.

We saw our attorney and coming out there was a second.

By the time we reached Perpignan there was a third.

We parked the car, and there was a fourth.

We aren't sure if there were 4 separate planes or if Airbus, which is based in nearby Toulouse was using Perpignan as a training ground.
I found it cute, even if Airbus didn't hire me years ago.

You can't park there

The man at the Perpignan airport opened the window at the FedEx office. "You have to park at the airport."

Rick had taken Llara's suitcase out of the car. She had not been allowed to take it with her when she was deported from Spain. My daughter admits she doesn't know how to pack light. My suitcase for over a month was about half the size of hers for a week, although Christmas  presents were involved.

We had checked out prices on shipping it back and FedEx was the best choice.

"But we are clients."

"You still need to go to the airport."

"But was want to ship something today," I said.

He apologized.

Not so fast.

They won't accept a suitcase.

They didn't have a box big enough to put the suitcase. Llara never travels light and we'd added the Christmas presents we didn't get a chance to give her.

"Can we put it in other boxes?"

The man smiled. "Bien sûre."

Only FedEx has no boxes.

We felt we needed to go on a carton search. Then walking home from La Noisette after a writing session with Lydia, a man stepped out of his front door, the perfect carton in hand.

My life has always been like this, when I need something it seems to appear.

We can take the suitcase to Montreal when we meet up in the fall.


It's a chicken and egg thingie.
  • I make lots of typos
  • I am a terrible proof reader

So I can type a mistake, not see it, and reread it and not see the error and proof it and not see it and maybe do a bit of a rewrite and not see the original typo or the new one.

But I'm kind to anmials er animals. Kind to chickens too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Petite Cougar finds a solution

Petite Cougar has found a solution to keep bad boy Scoob II from running away by taking matters into her own paws.. She's tied his paw to hers.

The neo medieval age

"We are entering the neo medieval age," Rick said.

I put my porridge spoon back into my dish without eating. "I don't understand."

"Think about it. During medieval times there were a few really rich people who lived in castles with minions to protect them."

"Now 1% of the population of the earth own more than the 99%. They have protected mansions and gated communities."

I was unfaithful

No, I wasn't unfaithful to Rick, but to Jean-Pierre, my hair dresser, the only professional stylist who has touched my hair in 15 years.

When he styles, he cuts almost hair by hair, dry, wet, dry. His head massages are enough to relax me for the week.

When it grows out it keeps its shape long after anyone would imagine possible.

He has clients who come from Holland, Japan, Austria and the US (the last one being my daughter).

However, my roots were growing. I know I'm not a natural redhead, but I hate even two centimeters of roots showing. It makes me feel slovenly and slutty at best and the worst goes from there.

I was out of hair colour.

I knew I wouldn't have time to have my hair cut before I go to Geneva, Einseideln and Basel next month and probably wouldn't even have time to take care of those roots.

Thus I booked into an Argelès hair salon recommended by a Swiss friend who waits to come to Argelès to have her hair done.

I chose the color very close to my own, but the mixture was pumpkin orange. I know color darkens, but it was a worrisome short period. The color came out wonderfully.

I also had my hair trimmed leaving more than enough for Jean-Pierre to correct. She cut in about 25% of the time than he takes. It looks fine.

My heart still belongs to Jean-Pierre, but it is nice to know I have a hair backup.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reason 1,985

Reason 1,985 why I adore Rick.

He can create such fun in bed making, never mind his imagination with our animals.

I doubt if he can top this, but he doesn't have to.

His dueling blog on how he did it is at

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'll probably never see a live flash mob

Because I'd rather be drawn and quartered than spend time in a shopping mall, I'll never see a live flash mob.


Thank goodness for youtube where I can watch these delightful kids without ever going near a store. And I can do it over and over.

Now that's a win-win.

Listen here.

Hair frustration through the ages

When I cook I often have a youtube program on. Lately it has been BBC documentaries about the Vikings.

As I made lamb strew today, they were talking about a monk's writing and the attack on Lindisfarne (photo) monastery in Scotland by the Vikings in 793 A.D.

As I sliced carrots, one of the writings read by the narrator deplored that people were beginning to copy the hair styles of the pagan Vikings and his consternation that anyone would want to do that.

Nothing changes does it?

Hair can be political, rebellious, enticing . . .

Putting up one's hair was considered a rite of passage into womanhood for many centuries.

Bobbed hair was shocking for women in 1920.

My grandmother considered any woman with dyed hair nothing better than a street walker.

DAs and the Elvis look sent parents into spasms of horror in the 1950s.

By the 1960s parents hated their children's (especially the boys) shoulder length tresses. Those same people as parents are upset at their own children shorn heads.

Nor is it limited to parents.

My first day on a military barracks in Germany, I heard a colonel say he needed to get a hair cut before the general saw him. It looked too short to me, but I like longish hair on men.

We won't even go into Samson's tresses or religions who consider that hair, especially women's hair, should be hidden. Catholics used to insist that women's hair be covered in a church, and a nun's habit doesn't strike me that different from the Muslim coverings.

Hair style worries seem to be confined to the human species, but it is only human hair that can grow to long lengths.

Anyone having a bad hair day today?

You have company through the ages.

The Chase

J and I watch The Brit version of The Chase regularly, well aware we can't do well on any national trivia show because we are missing parts of general knowledge because we've changed countries, but we had a special treat when one of our friends appeared on it.

The show aired Friday although it was filmed last March. She couldn't tell us what happened. She did give us some info on the technical side.

Her team lost (I suspected as much because she didn't suddenly become rich) but she survived.

Good on her...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Buying meat is more than buying meat

Argelès has three butchers...the newest is owned by an Arab. There is some prejudice in town, although over all there is an "our Arabs" are better than those other Arabs who cause all the trouble. It is easy to hate a group than someone you pass on the street everyday.

Before Rick, I bought almost no meat, thus I never developed a favorite butcher. However, now I go to him, because I would like him to succeed.

Today I asked for 300 grams for lamb for stew.

"I make a wonderful Moroccan lamb stew." He gave me step-by-step directions. "Make sure it is fresh parsley, and don't use coriander," he said.

This will be tomorrow's lunch.

He wished me a pleasant Sunday.

"Shukran," I said. Thank you, as I left.

10:30 mass

Lydia and I were doing our free writing at La Noisette when my favorite Mamie* came up and started talking.

This Catalan woman is deceptive. Despite never being much outside of this tiny village and usually dressed in an apron, she writes and takes photos. Outside her dilapidated house are plants with homemade decorations. And she maintains a garden outside the old town that feeds her throughout the year.

I love talking with her although sometimes it can be rough going between her Catalan and my American accents.

What she said this time I didn't understand, nor did Lydia who is a francophone.

The Mamie disappeared across the street to the 13th century church and came back with a list of masses.

She pointed to the one 10:30 Thursday...English. I tell her I will share it with my Catholic anglophone friends.

Having taken care of my soul, she left us to write.

10:25 Thursday and I'm in bed having written from 4-8:30 a.m.

A knock on the door.

The Mamie tells Rick to remind me about the mass.

He says I'm asleep.

About ten people did attend, she told me later. I told her I've passed the word. She'll give me a chance next week to go again. Maybe I will for her sake.

*The old Catalan women of the village whose families have lived here for generations.