Friday, September 25, 2015

Fall and dessert soups

More Stove Stories from my late mother's unpublished cookbook.
When I make the fish chowder I often add corn or make it with corn without the fish.

My mother also loved dessert soups.


This is in no way your traditional New England fish chowder, but it is easy and delicious. I've tried
adding salt pork to the original recipe given me. It seems to make this chowder even better.

Really, I don't remember which aunt contributed this many years ago, but I do know it's a favorite with family and friends.
  • 1/4 lb. at least of salt pork
  • 2 lbs of haddock or cod fillets
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Several  chopped celery leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 dried dill seed
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Vermouth
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups light cream
Bake the fish until flaky.

Add all ingredients to 3-quart sauce pan with 3 cups boiling water.

Simmer until vegetables are done.

Add Vermouth and 3 cups light cream. (Note: there's chopped parsley in the photo)


  • 2 one-pound cans pitted tart cherries
  • Juice from a third can of cherries
  • 1 cherry can of water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 whole gloves
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 two-inch cinnamon stick
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1/2 bottle white wine such as Medoc
In a kettle combine the two 1-pound cans of cherries, the juice from the third can, 1 cherry can water, the sugar, cloves, allspice, sliced lemon, cinnamon and salt.

Bring to a boil.

Blend 1 tbsp. smoothly into the 3 cups light cream and stir the mixture into the cherry combination.

Add the 1/2 bottle white wine and bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and chill thorough.

Serve with 1 tbsp. whipped cream on each serving.

Will keep for 2 weeks refrigerated.

Makes 12 small servings.


I had an uncle with whom I had great rapport although we argued constantly (but without rancor) at
the drop of a word, any word.

Financially very comfortable, he was the ultimate in contradiction. He never buttoned any sweater he ever owned. The elbows might be worn but the buttonholes were as they came from the men's shop.

Three cups of tea from one teabag was his cardinal rule but he'd pay $400 for a postage stamp without blinking an eye. He'd have loved the economical way with leftovers.

Keep a soup "stockpot" in your refrigerator by pouring in a suitable kettle all juice from vegetables, canned, fresh or froze. Also add any leftover bits of meats and vegetables. At the end of the week simmer the stock with either a packet of dry soup mix or add fresh vegetables any kind of cooked pasta or whatever suits your fancy. An easy meal with a salad and French bread of hot rolls.


This must be the most ingenious leftover ever devised. It is always different and always delicious.
Don't tell your family you're serving them the remains of yesterday's salad or that's why those little leftovers have vanished from the refrigerator. If they insist on knowing what it is, tell them it's "Spring Soup."
  • 1 1/2 cups green salad more or less with dressing remaining in bowl
  • Lettuce leaves (5 or 6 large)
  • 1/2 to 2 cups leftover cooked vegetables
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 to3 cans chicken broth or stock
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 drops Tabasco
Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan and add leftover salad and vegetables.

Saute over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until lettuce is wilted.

Pour this mixture into a blender with some of the chicken broth and puree thoroughly. Return to the broth remaining in the sauce pan and bring to moderate boil.

Add, salt, pepper and Tabasco.

Serve with croutons if desired.

The measurements are flexible and dictated by the amount of ingredients you have on hand.


Even people who don't like carrots like this.
  • 1-1/2 cups carrots, cut up, cooked
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Blend carrots, broth, spices. Heat. Add cream and milk and simmer. Do NOT boil.


 Get out the soup kettle and prepare to see your reputation soar to new heights. The first hint of autumn
absolutely dictates this soup, although I actually make it all year round. It's that good.
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (or beef)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 SHARP cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Paprika
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Sauteed mushrooms (optional)
Chop the onion medium fine and saute in butter in a heavy kettle over low heat. Don't let them brown.

Sprinkle with flour, stir in a smooth paste.

Gradually stir in chicken (or beef) broth.

Add milk slowly, stirring  constantly until thickened.

You can use a double boiler to be safer if you'd prefer.

Grate in SHARP cheddar cheese, add dry mustard, stir constantly.

Heat until cheese melts and remove from the stove at once.

Season with salt, pepper, paprika and two or three stops of Worcestershire.

Add sauteed mushrooms if you wish.

Six servings. you'll wish you'd doubled it.


Pretty as a picture, this is a party soup or for romantic dinners for two. Call it a glamorous soup, call it
exotic, call it elegant.
  • 1 pound fresh ripe strawberries
  • 4 cups Port
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp. arrowroot
Hull and wash strawberries and put in a saucepan with 4 cups Port and one cup of water.

Bring to a boil.

Mix the arrowroot with with 1/4 cup water and stir into the hot soup.

Reheat and stir until it thickens.

Serve the soup chilled and topped with a small dollop of whipped cream and/or a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.

Serves six to 10 depending on the role it plays in your menu.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

At last

Fall/Autumn. I don't care if I use the Brit or American term. IT IS HERE!!!!

I thought it would never come after the summer heat where I could barely breathe and had no energy to do anything at all. Heat makes me feel lousy and sometimes even sick.

Even if the colors in Switzerland are not as bright as those in New England, they do put on dresses of yellow instead of red--that is beauty on beauty.

The vineyards are lush with grapes waiting for the vendaage.

The crisp air caresses my cheeks.

Soon the stands that sell hot roasted chestnuts will replace the ice cream stands (I can get ice cream at the store).

When I get to Argelès I will make and apple pie in memory of Barbara and a pumpkin pie as well.

Kaki fruit will appear in the stores. It's a short season.

Marro will have their courge (squash) soup with pumpkin seeds.

Nights come earlier so I can watch DVDs in PJs and not feel slovenly.

Even more excuses for cups of tea. 

I can take long hot showers.

The electric undersheet will prewarm my bed. Ir may seem strange that I look for ways to make myself warm, but it isn't. I can control what parts of me are warm and not have my body and head filled with heat drying up my vital juices.

The village will have their annual fête courge.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

FB good and bad

Facebook is the jungle drums and smoke signals of the modern era.

There's much to love
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family
  • Finding old friends that I thought were lost
  • Friends that were from one part of my life connecting with friends from another. I have people from high school talking with my current writing group for example
  • Groups (photography, writing, blogging)
  • Being caught up with friends with problems
  • Being able to offer support to people with problems quickly although phone and face are the best after the initial Facebook contact
  • News
  • Jokes
  • Political articles I agree with
  • Political articles I don't agree with to make sure I have a complete picture
  • Articles on favorite subjects (medieval history, maps, grammar etc.)
  • Cute animals
  • Quizzes (I don't care if they use it to gather marketing info) They are fun especially when I do well
Things I don't like
  • How when you go to another page getting back to where you were can be a challenge
  • Lists (Americans are great with numbered lists) where you have to click on the next page and the next and the next
  • Photos posted where after five you have to keep changing screens. I don't even when I adore the photographer and yes I'm lazy
  • Ads that pop up in the middle of an article blocking my reading
  • Words that promise I'll love, laugh etc. giving false expectations
  • People who are nasty rather when they disagree and attack personally not the issues

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Public reading

It is never too late to learn to be better. 

Today's Geneva Writers Group workshop featured John Zimmer 
and Jennifer Bew Orr giving tips on how writers can read their work more effectively.

John, a Toastmaster International Winner, travels the world teaching and Jennifer is a trained actress.

The Geneva Writers Group started in 1993 with 11 members and I was one. They now have over 200 and many have been published.

Fascinatingly many of those that are published have been writing in English as a second language.

I doubt that I would have had my novels published if it hadn't been for the support and workshops that helped me hone my craft. (for a list of my novels)

I was unhappy with my last couple of readings, thus hearing how I could be better, was a pleasure. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Woof, woof you can.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wonderful world

Geneva held a street food fair in the old town and what a day for it, just that perfect early fall feel in the air.

People mingled between stands, sat on the benches to eat what they bought. Every type of food was there. 

I chose an oriental meal, Rick went for a bagel with chicken curry and brought back a piece of carrot cake (salad) which allowed us to photograph the animals.

We ambled back to the bus stop, stopping to take photos along the way.

I've been dying for a chai latte and we bought one and a mocca for him. I was about to run with them for the E bus that was waiting, but he said, "Sit, let's enjoy the moment."

And he was right. When we finished there was a G bus that drops us out in the village and that means about a ten-minute walk down the hill facing the lake and the Jura. The left side is a vineyard.

Today it was different. In one of the fields they were setting up tables for tomorrows soap box derby and they were testing the sound system. Dave Brubeck's take "Take Five" was playing and so was Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World."

He took me in his arms and we danced. Louie was so right, it is a wonderful world. 

Stove Stories/Soupes

My late mother, Dorothy Sargent Boudreau, loved food. In our house we would discuss what we were would eat at dinner when we were eating lunch. My mother was more of a gourmet cook, my grandmother a traditional New England Yankee cook.

My mother was also a reporter and after her retirement had a food column in The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. Then she put together a cookbook that was never published.
She always believed that food included memories of who you were with, what you talked about and the traditions around the meal.

Here are some of her soup recipes.

As for tradition, I served the peanut soup to my husband and daughter. I loved it. They were less impressed, but I plan to do it as an entree for a future dinner party but I think I'll increase the amount of peanut butter. I was lucky I had sherry. A friend brought it to me in Southern France from the UK so that recipe builds more memories.


There's something comforting about a hearty soup! And, contrary to some opinions, meatless soups
can be hearty and satisfying. And this one in particular is delicious the first day and what you make it on the second and third days.
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 3 whole mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 small turnip, finely diced
  • 3 or 4 leaves spinach
  • 1 medium zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Few leaves of rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine in a 3 quart sauce pan, cover with water and cook over very low heat until comes to a boil.

Then simmer for 1 1/2 hours and serve piping hot with pumpernickel.

You'll have about 8 cups.

A day or two later use your imagination, maybe add some chick peas, some green beans, rice.

Later in the week, add some more tomatoes, a few peas, broccoli or whatever suits your fancy.

Replenish the stock with chicken broth, or beef, if you'd rather.

What a soup kettle you'll have!


One of my very favorite soups, this is a conversation piece. The flavor is haunting, elusive and
delicious. This recipe will serve four or two if you like it as much as I do.
  • 1 tbsp. butter 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Paprika
Melt butter in heavy soup kettle over low heat, blend in flour and remove from heat.

Blend in peanut butter.

Scald milk (heat to just boiling point) and add gradually, stirring constantly.

Return mixture to low heat, stirring until its steaming hot, but NOT boiling.

Add sherry and salt.

Serve at once, with a dusting of paprika and freshly ground pepper.

Put a few peanuts in each cup.

Love it! Love it!


This is in no way your traditional New England fish chowder, but it is easy and delicious. I've tried
adding salt pork to the original recipe given me. It seems to make this chowder even better.

Really, I don't remember which aunt contributed this many years ago, but I do know it's a favorite with family and friends.
  • 1/4 lb. at least of salt pork
  • 2 lbs of haddock or cod fillets
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Several  chopped celery leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 dried dill seed
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Vermouth
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups light cream
Bake the fish until flaky.

Add all ingredients to 3-quart sauce pan with 3 cups boiling water.

Simmer until vegetables are done.

Add Vermouth and 3 cups light cream. (Note: there's chopped parsley in the photo)

Friday, September 18, 2015

PC writing

My publisher once had me change rusty, "10-year old Toyota" to "10-year rusty car" because they were afraid Toyota would sue despite the fact that any 10-year old car in New England would probably have rust because of the salt on the roads during the winter.

As writers we know is more powerful to be specific in details. Rose is better than flower, cabbage says something different from vegetable, Heartbeak Hotel gives  a clearer image than song, etc.

Fear of law suits and not wanting to offend can weaken our writing. Sadly, it is not just the US facing the problem.

This week in Paris Match there was an interview with very successful writer Jean-Cristophe GRANGE. He was complaining about his editors wanting him to change certain phrases. He was referring to a character who used the word "Les négros."

"Les éditeurs me font souvent retirer ce qui n'est pas politiquement correct Quelle oppression! Mais Morvan ne peut pas s'exprimer comme on écrit. Imagnez que je lui fasse dire 'les personnes de couleur," ça ne collerait pas."

The editors often make me remove what is not politically correct. What oppression! Imagine Morvan can not speak as we write. Imagine I make him say 'persons of color,' it does not stick.

Our written words can be hamstrung by being too careful. 

I don't recommend insulting any group just to insult, but reality should be allowed to creep in. 

If  a very conservative homelander (American living in the US and I'm not sure that term is PC)  described me as a Feminist Socialist, it might be considered a slur in his mind. If it came from Gloria Steinem or Bernie Sanders it could be considered a compliment. But in between those two extremes there is one thing that it is important. IT IS A TRUE description of parts of my character.

If I were writing in the point of view of an angry black woman in one of the Boston ghettos and she said to her brother, "Get your black nigger ass over here" that would be in character but not PC. If I had her say "Would you please come over here, my lovely brother" it wouldn't ring true unless I'd done some serious preliminary work. If I had an upper white woman in the south say"Get your black nigger ass over here" to her black gardener, that wouldn't ring true either unless I had shown her to have a crude streak. 

There are times we need to be raw, crude, insulting as part of our character development in fiction. And although I believe we catch more flies with honey (I never knew why we wanted to catch flies) than with vinegar, we also need vinegar in a good salad dressing. 

Trying to make our writing to PC can make it bland and worse unbelivable. 

As someone once said, if you are totally PC, a mailman would be a personperson who delivers letters.




Thursday, September 17, 2015

Soups from Stove Stories 1


My late mother, also a journalist, wrote a cookbook that was never published. I'm blogging it. 

I ate very, very well as a child. I'll publish more over the next few days.

Autumn is the time for soups.



There are soups and there are soups! I mean there's the old chicken version with rice, with noodles with dumplings. There's tomato and vegetable and mushroom and minestrone and so many more.

But have you noticed the trend to more unusual soups that are gaining steadily in popularity both in restaurants and in home kitchens? Not that they're that new necessarily, but they're finding favor and adding a nice note to menu planning.

I refer to soups like carrot, peanut, cheddar cheese, 4-day, and salad (yes, that's right, salad soup) to list but a few. And that's not mention the "split-personality" soups that can be served hot or cold.

I first had cheddar cheese variety in a small soup and salad place opened by a young couple who were among the first to feature this light but nourishing luncheon menu. They also offered delicious home-made breads along with an informal salad bar while three different kinds of soups or chowder bubbled away in kettles on an old black stove. The place won instant approval and has been enlarged twice since its modest beginning.

When I first made this cheddar soup, my daughter, Donna-Lane, raved about it, took the recipe, went home and made a kettle full. A friend, whose office is in her home, makes it in double batches for an appetizing and easy luncheon. She likes with croutons. I like sauteed mushrooms added and rice crackers to munch with it.

My particular joy is the "salad soup" mentioned earlier. Haven't you found that you had a generous quantity of dressed salad left over and staring at you, the greens turning limp before your eyes, the croutons soggy? This is no reflection on your salad but on you overestimating the quantity needed.

Now in these days of spiraling food costs, I'm reluctant to waste a crumb, never mind a crust, or even worse a lettuce leave. Read on, for a most delicious way to salvage perfectly good and costly ingredients.

Leslie, a one-time neighbor, was a bride and a fine cook. We often exchanged recipes and the results and she was particularly delighted to receive the salad soup.

Carrot soup became a specialty of my cousin Grace and its deliciously different. I had a similar version in a very fine restaurant, but the texture was grainy. Hers is creamy smooth and with a salad and hot rolls it makes a lovely luncheon.

I love peanut soup and loathe pea soup. The latter probably puts me in the minority for a good old fashioned pea soup made with the essence of a ham bone is high on the popularity poll, especially with men. You won't find a recipe for it here, but you'll find directions for the peanut preparation.

If you really want to get exotic there's a pink strawberry soup recipe that I begged from a bare acquaintance. She said it came from a famous restaurant and I believe it! This is served cold only and is sensational on a hot summer day or night.

Saving best for last in my opinion, at least, I simply adore the cold cherry soup. It's from a famous Boston restaurant and was published in a national gourmet magazine some years ago. Again, Cousin Grace was the first to make this and earned plaudits.

So let's proceed with soups, there are more than I've mentioned.

A hot or cold soup entry, it's a pretty soup, appetizing and satisfying!
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup cream
  • pinch of dry mustard
  • 2 drops of Tabasco
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wash and trim the broccoli and put in heavy sauce pan. Add the celery and onion, both finely sliced or diced. Add the 3 cups of chicken broth and simmer until the broccoli is just tender. Put this mixture into blender and blend until smooth. Return to sauce pan, add 1 cup cream. Heat slowly, but do NOT boil. Season.

To serve hot add mushroom slices to each cup or served chilled with sprinklings of finely chopped chervil and chives.


Rick and I were at the American Library in English to change my membership to a family one. (Anyone living in Geneva this is a great resource)
When I gave my name, the woman next to me had a big smile. "You're the writer, I've read your books.")

That made my day.

Then the librarian said, "When is your next book out. We've have people asking."

That made the rest of the week. 

I gave them information on both Insel Poel and Ely. Two more sales coming up.



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wonderful ratings

I may seem Polyannaish to some and once or twice even to myself. I do find myself saying to Rick or J almost every day, "Wasn't it wonderful?"

That includes the time I lacked energy after a chemo...but it was a wonderful day. The blueberries were tasty, Lucky the cat visited, Rick and I cuddled as we watched Grace and Frankie on the laptop.

Of course being able to take a walk thru the woods or by the lake is wonderful with so many bits of beauty, finding more shadow photos, being able to watch a good DVD with  J and/or Rick, hearing from friends via Skype, Facebook, email,  discovering a wonderful written passage in a book, nailing something with my writing...the list goes on.

But the word wonderful applies to little things, big things, group of things.

Maybe we need to number it to show the difference, kinda like software releases like

Wonderful 2.0
Wonderful 3.0
Wonderful 3.5


But no matter what version of wonderful, how could a day that has such beauty and shared with people I love not be wonderful?????

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


 Rick and I go to the lake almost every day. It is only a few minutes walk from the house.  We joke that it is a forced march, but really they are treks of discovery.

Some might think we would get bored, but each time we discover something different. In the photo above there was a little spout where the water hit the rocks.
 And yesterday the was the clearest we've ever seen it. We would make out each rock and its crevises too. The ducks and swans can always provide some amusement with their antics.
 Then there was the row of boats lined up and colorful.

And I'd never noticed the chalet-style house behind the fence.

And just for cute a dog was enjoying a ride with his master.

Or the kayak with ocean in its name. Obvously it has a sense of prowess beyond is size..

Monday, September 14, 2015


When I first moved to Switzerland, every one old me how beautiful fall would be. I waited, and yes there were beautiful yellow trees

But I'm a New Englander and I waited, in vain, for the brilliant reds. Last year as we drove from Boston to Montreal in late September, I began to catch up on the beautiful reds that I had missed out on for a couple of decades.

Driving near the Corsier grassy beach today in the rain, I saw a RED TREE.

"Stop," I yelled and explained why.

"Wouldn't you prefer it on a sunny day."

"The rain creates it own mood."

He turned the car around and I came home and made a hot cup of tea. Perfect ending for finding a red tree.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Politican chit chat

2017 Imaginary conversations

Conversation 1

Scene: A café in Argelès-sur-mer. Jean, the postman and Odile, the postmistress are having a coffee in a café. In the 2004 election Jean had hugged me when he delivered my ballot and learned I would be voting against Bush and Odile said she would drop my ballot the trash if I'd voted for Bush. He was not liked and considered incompetent by almost every European I know.

Jean: What do you think of President Trump?

Odile: Makes me long for Bush.

Conversation 2

Scene: Is is the G8 meeting. Angela Merkel is talking to someone
and President Trump slaps her on the back.

"How is it hanging, baby?" he turns to his aide. Can't see how she gets elected with that face."

Merkel to Holland in French: Can't we fire him?

Putin in Russian: After this meeting, have everyone come to my room and we'll figure out how to deal with the crisis called Trump.

Conversation 3

Scene: It is the day after Bernie Sander's inauguration. He is in the
oval office along with two of the oligarchs.

Oligarch 1: Bernie, we'll say the same thing to you as we did to Obama. You will do as we say.

Bernie: I won't do a bait in switch like Obama. 

Oligarch 2: You're an old man. An untimely death is possible. And then there's your family.

Bernie: Smile. You're on candid camera...this is being televised around the world.


Mouse safari II


"We have a mouse!" Rick said.

I looked up from Frank Underwood manipulating his way through another session of House of Cards to see a very small gray thing scuttle under the desk.

"What do you want me to do?" He must have been thinking of the 40 snails I wanted to save when they turned out to be alive not merely the decorative shells I thought I'd bought.

I suggested the towel-over-the-mouse trick that worked so well when my daughter's cat Pumpkin brought us live mice. We would capture them and put them outside.

The mouse did not want to be caught despite Rick's poking and prodding.

I admitted defeat and we let the cats in.

Babette walked thru the living out the winter garden door with nary a glance. Clea sat in the middle of the living room and ignored everyone and everything.

We decided to continue watching TV hoping Clea would realize that she had a mission. 

She did -- and started watching under the desk moving from one side to another. But she grew bored and resumed he nonchalance relaxation position.

Frank Underwood continued doing nasty stuff.

When Clea decided the couch was more interesting than any mouse, Rick went back to his trying to unseat the mouse using the kitchen broom.

Babette came back in and showed less interest than her sister. 

Maybe the cats have a no-Saturday mousing work in their contract.

We gave up, leaving the cats in the living room with the mouse, went upstairs to bed hoping to find mouse remains in the morning.

Next day nothing. We are not sure what happened.

Rick has a duelling blog at

*Mouse Safari I was years ago when it was Munchkin, J and I. We turned over every piece of furniture in the living room except for the desk and armoire before giving in. I hope J has forgiven me at this point for the hunt and will forgive us for not riding the residence of the creature. We may be on cat duty, but the cats obviously aren't on mouse duty.



Saturday, September 12, 2015

Do it better

Barclay's Bank needs my password to check a problem with my account. The only problem, I don't have an account with them. Another email scam.

I've had so many banks send me these messages. If I had accounts in all of them, I would be rich. If I had accounts in all of them, I would have to provide them with my Certificate of Loss of Nationality because if I were American still, they wouldn't want anything to do with me.

I did almost fall for an EDF (French electricity) scam which said my bank hadn't paid my RIB (automatic payment). I checked with my bank. Of course, they had paid it. They took it from there and warned their other customers.

And there was my friend  who I worked with at the IEC in Geneva. She was in Wales, the email said and her pocketbook was stolen, could I send her some money.

I got two cups of teas and took them to the next office. "I'm sorry your Welsh holiday was ruined by the theft."

She looked up puzzled.

I handed her a print out.

What happened was that her email list had been hacked. We both knew her friends would never believe that she wrote any message with that many grammatical and spelling errors.

Rick has pointed out that even when scammers come up with great websites to fool a trusting person, they often are so badly written that they become unbelievable. On the other hand it must work because they keep on trying and it is trying. Very!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Facebook Friends

A nurse who was about to give me a shot, said she didn't like Facebook. She liked Skype.

It is not an either or. It's great to Skype with my daughter Sundays while drinking an afternoon cup of tea and she is sipping her first cup of coffe. And there was the time that there was a problem with the washer and my housemate was in the US. I used Skype to show her the dials and she told me what to do.

Facebook brings strange connections from all periods of my life that take on an existence of their own. Friends that a high school friend talks with my Chaucer professor. I share stuff with a friend in Wisconsin who is a friend of someone in my Geneva Writers Group. There is an artist whom I've never really remembered how we became friends, but I love his grandson's photos.

Then again there was that wonderful day when I had a message that Gary Smith was looking for me, someone I had hoped to find for over 25 years. We had been friends in Germany in the 60s, met off and on until the 90s when moves on both our parts made us lose contact. He and his wife, also a good friend, Rick and I met up in Nice in April.  I could not have been more thrilled.

I waited for my daughter to friend me because I didn't want to invade her privacy, but she friended me. 

Yesterday when I was about to send her a message I noticed we'd been friends since 2009. In reality our relationship goes back a lot longer to the day the doctor who announced, "It's a girl, Mrs. Nelson."

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A chef's sense of humor

Marro, where we eat at least once a week, was offering a Terrine d'Hommard de Maine. We couldn't resist taking Shamrock, the transgender lobster brought from Boston by my daughter, to show him/her.

Roberto, saw Rick taking a photo of the Lobster touching the menu with the word hommard. I explained Boston and Maine were geographically close, lobster was my favorite food, etc.

He asked to borrow Shamrock to show the chef who brought him/her back like the photo.

Sunday, September 06, 2015


In December 1938 Argelès-sur-mer was a sleepy little coastal down on the Med in Southern France of under 1,000 farmers, olive growers, cork harvesters, fishermen.

By the end of January 1939 it had a population of 100,000 people.

They were refugees, fleeing Franco Spain, no different in the desperation than those fleeing the Middle East and Northern African today.

They had crossed the rugged Pyrenees in the cold and snow clutching their children and what possessions they could. This was not an easy route. Amazingly today, we can whisk across the border on modern roads without a reminder of their suffering.

They thought they would be greeted as heroes and heroines for fighting the Fascist Franco. Instead they were herded into a concentration camp on the beach without protection from the cold. Despite what people think about Southern France, winter does have its brutal moments, especially when the Tramontane blows for days.

Many died of cold, starvation.

For years the locals have ignored their treatment of the refuges but in recent years, they've come to terms with their part in this human tragedy. Oral histories, films capture the events but it can't eliminate the suffering that happened no matter how often people of today ask, "How did they let that happen?" They put up plaques.

Now there is another refugee tragedy happening as people forced from their homes thru war try and find a safe place. In a few decades will the next generation ask, "How did they let that happen?"

Will we never learn?

National Beard Day

According to Al Jazeera, today is National Beard Day, but I didn't see where. It is always national beard day chez nous, because my handsome husband sports one.

When I first met him decades ago he was clean-shaven but life has transformed his corporate uniform hairs into one that better fits a writer/journalist image.

My late anthropologist friend said "clothing is cultural coding." I am sure she would say the same about beards. Wish she was here to ask.

Beards are funny things. I suppose, it means less time shaving each morning. As a secondary sex characteristic it can, in some cultures, denote virility, although there is nor correlation between sperm count and number of hairs on one's face. Others consider it a religious symbol. There are those that like them long and shaggy or well-trimmed into shapes.

As for me. I just like looking at my husband on National Rick Day which is everyday chez moi.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

FATCA update

The case brought by six American expats and Rand Paul under the auspices of the Republicans challenging the FATCA was seen in Dayton District Court. 4th. The judge will have a ruling by Sept. 30.

I am proud to be one of plaintiffs, and the only woman in this procedure.

As an ex-American because of FATCA I am still angry, although I know anger is not a good emotion and action may, I hope, temper it. Because I'm newly married to an American I am still affected by the law because all my financial information will be transferred to the IRS, which still has the right to take huge parts of our money for misfiling or not knowing that yet another form must be filed.

I have still had run-ins with my bank for sending $300 to the States, but I was able to defend this tiny decision and keep my account. I don't blame the bank. Its fines would be so huge for hiding my (and others) puny accounts that like me, they want to protect itself from the US.

Homeland US citizens do not have to jump thru a fraction of the hoops that expats do.

I can only hope that the court issues an injunction.

It is a terrible thing to be terrified that your government can destroy your financial life when you've done nothing wrong.