Saturday, January 30, 2016

Marriage and me

I never played house when I was little. 

My mother’s friends’ lives seemed to have too many limitations. Once they said “I do” they didn’t. I played archaeologist, journalist, cowgirl, Greek and or Roman goddess, etc. Much more interesting. I was going to have adventures not be a wife.

Nevertheless I married at 20 my high school sweetheart despite my mother having me arrested to try and stop it. I adored him. It was not his fault that the man I loved existed only in my mind. He gave me a wonderful daughter.

My late friend Barbara laughed when I told her that in ending my second marriage, I divorced a dead man I had never been married to. How was I to know there was already a wife? And although my mother had heard of his demise, she still let me go thru the divorce procedure as a lesson.

My lesson was my skills in husband-choosing was limited so I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I would never marry again, but that didn't mean there would be no men in my life.

When I was still in Boston there was a decent man. Power games pulled us apart. I refused to even call us a couple. For many years after I moved to Europe there was a lovely Swiss business man that I shared weekends with. Our relationship more or less dribbled away painlessly.

Then for a decade I didn’t even want to date. I was totally emerged in happy singledom until I received an email “I’m in Geneva, want to have a cup of coffee? Rick”

I’d met him in the late 70s at a conference and it was a coupe de foudre. Because of our personal circumstances we stomped on every spark left by the lightning bolt. We stayed in touch professionally until I moved to Europe in 1990.

This time, it was a lightening hurricane. And four years later it is still is. Instead of marriage closing doors he opened even more of them for me and vice versa.

Maybe the difference is that we are both writers with PR and journalistic leanings. Maybe it is open-mindedness. Maturity anyone? Probably not.

Why we are willing to ignore or laugh at each other quirk’s, I’ll never understand. Maybe because we don’t embarrass each other over stupidities. The words “your husband/wife is an idiot,” fall from our lips often usually followed by laughter. How was I to know that the 40 decorative snail shells I brought home still had their occupants hidden inside? It all becomes part of family lore.

I encourage him to play golf. He makes sure he doesn’t become between me and my friends’ quality time together. We read to each other, share our writings, rush to the lake to catch the latest sunset or sometimes sunrise. We learned things we didn’t know, broadening our already wide range of subjects. Sometimes we just share space. It just feels good being together. We can also be alone together.

Until last June all problems were external usually involving a stupid bureaucratic. Then they became internal, at least physically as I had two surgeries and chemo. Even with the most optimistic of prognosis. It was more fun spending a week on a houseboat in Amsterdam than logging hospital waiting room hours.

In neither our commitment ceremony (photo) nor our civil service did the words in sickness and in health play a part. It didn’t matter. He has provided wonderful care. I have been able to accept TEMPORARILY loss of independence.

He offered to shave his head when I shaved mine. Sometimes I cringe at how unromantic all this is. But marriage isn’t just about romance. And it isn’t just about having your partner’s back.

I am still not sure what it is. All I know it became something I couldn’t imagine as a kid and thru most of my adulthood I found. 

Or it found me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Tummy, the landlords' pet is often cat non grata for miscellaneous reasons.

Thus, when we saw paw prints all over their car, we thought we would help him stay in good graces by removing them.

We told our landlady.

"Those are weasel prints," she said.  "They like to eat any rubber parts from a car." 

There is enough wild land around to support wild life.

I remember a writer friend, Mighty Mom on her blog, who was a neighbor in the next village having to have rubber parts replaced on her car many years back.

Maybe they will leave our car alone if we give them a McDo gift certificate.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Not a poet

Although some of my poetry has been published, I don't consider myself a poet. Not even a po...

I don't consider myself an artist either, but for several years I journaled  by doing a sketch and a haiku.

The form requires discipline to fit the thoughts into a 5-7-5 line format.

The Geneva Writers Group had a master class with a real poet, Anthony Anaxagoro. He had us write down 10 nouns then add an adjective. We were then to take our favorites and write a poem. I fell back on haiku.

Here's mine.

The silent pen lay
next to teh waiting paper
Failing to give it life.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Between old fart and too young

I'm vain. 

I admit it. 

At 73 I want to look my best but not as the saying goes by becoming mutton dressed up as lamb.

I know a woman, Bambi. She has long blond hair in a pony tail and bangs/fringe. She dresses as she did when she was a model in the 1960s. She has the body for the mini shirts, halter tops and shorts. Her face reflects her age. It is in the 60s.

Although I am not fat at 57 kilos, mini skirts, shorts etc. I definitely am not a Bambi.

I also have seen women my age dressing like grannies.

Nope. Boring. 

Nor do I don't want to have a stuffy look yet that many Swiss women select. I don't need stockings and gloves to go to town or the grocery.

Although I love my more bohemian puffy pants and layered dresses that I wear in France just wouldn't feel right. They are fun and comfy.

And I love pretty matching lingerie. No one but my husband will see those colors or lacy thingies.  Even when I was single my underwear was important. It makes me feel feminine even on the worst days. I might even strut when I think of it when I'm out of the house.

In both places I accessorize my outfits with a variety of scarves and fun earrings. One of the advantage of the chemo baldness is I have two wigs and I can vary length for the earrings, but I still want my own hair back someday. I also have some very sedate earrings like my gray pearl ones.

I am not mutton. 

I am not lamb.  

There is a song I gotta be me. But not to the point of being ridiculous.

Scoob sulks

The animal story goes back at least from 2003 as part of a game my daughter and I played. 
Rick and J picked up on it and over the years it has grown. This the latest installment.

Scoob 2: I've called this meeting because we have a crisis.

Miel: What?

Scoob 2: My mother had a date. He gave her a brownie. A BROWNIE and TEA.

Honey Bunny: Well why shouldn't she? After all your father deserted her in 2013.

Scoob 2: But if she gets involved with someone, they will never get back together.

Shamrock the trans-gendered Boston lobster: I wasn't there at the time, but from what I've heard, he was a scum bag and hasn't sent one cent.

Scoob 2: But I met him when I went to Boston. He was nice to me.

Herr Hare: Anyone can be nice for an afternoon. Grow up. Let your mom be happy.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The animals again

Petite Cougar has had her first date since her disastrous romance with Scooby that produced the mischievous Scooby II.

Fuzzy cat invited PC for tea and a brownie. Tactfully, PC didn't say the Funky BBQ brownies, although good to math J's.

Another date is planned.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Hungry Writer Review

"Food played a prominent part in my first book, a novel called The Oven House - it symbolized comfort and nurture, attempted to soothe the desolated landscape of lost love through the cherishing intensities of heat and taste. It is sprinkled, literally and metaphorically, through my poetry too: an unsettling chip shop owner, a bare-breasted woman striding past a grocery store, tomatoes, milk, bread, chestnuts, olives, eggs, a single golden apple." The Hungry Writer by Lynne Rees

I wanted to send that paragraph to my Reader at Lancaster University where I dropped out of a doctoral program dashing my plans to become Dr. Donna. 

He thought food did not belong in any serious writing and totally failed to see that choices of what my characters ate SHOWED as much about their attitudes and relationships as being TOLD. 

Showing vs. telling is a lesson that all beginning writers should learn with showing being the stronger. There were other problems, and despite him saying my writing was not publishable, Family Value was published with all food references.

The Hungry Writer is a fascinating combination of the Welsh author's experiences growing up in Wales, living in France, writing prompts for those writers that want to use it as a text book or to trigger their own writing and a cookbook.

As a long-time fan of her poetry, I doubt if many other writers could pull the combination off. She did, although she started it out as a weekly blog. The book feels like a book not a blog demonstrating her skill with not just the written word but with the manipulation of format.

Interwoven are bit and pieces of her life, which intentional or not, can be adapted to the reader's who may never have spent time in Wales or France, but can identify with a mate's accident, doing somethin to remember happily or regret.

This is a perfect book to settle down with on a rainy afternoon, a cup of tea and perhaps with the smell of welsh cakes (recipe page 61) hot from the oven.

Order here UK or here US.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I sleep in the wrong century

I know eight hours sleep is recommended to be healthy and maybe wealthy and wise.

For me, it ain't going to happen and hasn't for years.

Yes, I go to bed at a reasonable hour and "pretend" to read as my daughter says. Rick often removes the book and my glasses from my body. I don't stir. Or we have the telly tuned to Midsummer Murders as we settle in for the night. I seldom stay awake for the discovery of even the first corpse (usually one of three).

And whether or not my bladder calls I am usually awake, bright eyed and bushy tailed by one or two. There are multi ways to treat this.
  • Stay in bed and think of things on my to do lists, plan my next day's writing, etc.
  • Read
  • Check my iPad
  • Worry that I should be asleep
  • All of the above
A couple of hours later my eyelids get tired of blinking and then it is morning.

I am seldom tired the next day although having read articles about the terrible consequences of not getting enough good sleep I wonder what disease awaits me because of my bad sleep pattern.

I was so happy to come across this post to learn that my sleep patterns are perfect for the Middle Ages when they had what they called First and Second Sleep.

First Sleep: Not having things like electric lights or even an abundance of candles, the First Sleep began at dark. In winter, bed would be warmer than sitting around the fire even if the house had invited livestock in to protect them from the weather and act as additional heat units.

Second Sleep: This could vary. Monks would wake for Matin prayers around 2 in the morning. Non religious people would just wake.

Jean Verdon wrote Night in the Middle Ages about sleep patterns way back when. And Roger Ekrich penned At Day's Close Night in Times Past.

From childhood thru university to today, I've been fascinated by the Middle Ages. Maybe I was even reincarnated so in the 20th and 21st centuries, I am sleeping as I did in my earlier lives.

Even if this is the only life I have ever lived I am once again reminded that yesterday's medical advice has been changed and may be changed again.

Once doctors recommended smoking. Eggs are being rehabilitated from not being as bad as they once were thought. Wine and the amount is bad-good-bad-good-bad good depending on the time and study. 

So I'll no longer worry about my middle of the night wakefulness and just make sure good books are next to the bed until I'm ready for the second sleep.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Helicopter husband

My mother could have created the manual for the helicopter mom a half a decade before the term was created. I hated being over protected.

Fast backward to three years ago when Rick and I were getting together. My friends who approved of him and actually thought he might be good for me took him aside and said, "Don't smother her. Give her freedom. She's very independent." The underlining message was "Or you'll be history."

My daughter added another message, "And she'll steal your socks."

He believed both. Some of his socks disappeared. He didn't hover.

Then I developed breast cancer. I made sure he attended all my appointments, although in most there was only French spoken and I had to translate. He had said this is a motivation to speed up his learning process. I wanted him to not feel left out.

We went thru the bad news, the good news, the bad news, the good news. They think they got it all. Chemo and radiation would be preventative.

After surgery, I still was able to maintain my full independence. But with chemo, I was less brave. There have been times walking across the room has left me without energy. Doing chores that should be ordinary were/are exhausting. Unloading a dishwasher shouldn't leave me shaking, but it does on the bad days.

He took over.

"You are a helicopter husband," I've told him as he worried about leaving me alone. For whenever I was weak, his blade rotated at full speed making sure I don't faint on him as I did one day.

He didn't deny it. 

Now chemo is almost at an end. Radiation will be tiring but not like this. In a few months I will regain my strength and we will be back to normal. I've promised him that I will do the cooking for months rather than our alternating under our previous arrangement.

"We'll see," he said. 

I hate being dependent, wanting to do stuff but not having the energy. I have learned that it is okay to ask for help, to not always be 100% strong. I have learned that having a hovering, helicopter husband is a good thing when needed.

Because on my good days, when I do feel normal, he lands his helicopter and shuts off the hover mode, I know our lives will resume.

Meanwhile I need a clean pair of socks, and when he isn't looking I'll check out his drawer. 

Rick has done a dueling blog at

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

coup feu

"Call the coup feu," my landlady said to my complaint that it felt as if my hands were on fire, a reaction to the Taxol chemo treatment.

She wasn't the first. My physio had said the same thing when I had had radiation only none of the burning predicted  happened.

I'd heard that even doctors had recommended a coup feu, a person you telephoned to relieve pain.

After a sleepless night, I did.

She immediately put me thru to her daughter whose English was much worse than my French, but I gave my name, address, birthdate in both languages.

I was handed back to the mother and we spoke French and understood each other without a problem.

She told me to be still.

Nothing but quiet for I don't know how many minutes. I felt my hands cool.

"Call me back if you have more problems," she said.

 When I told my oncologist, she raised her eyebrows. "I don't understand how it works," she says."But I've seen it work in burn units."

I don't understand either. I don't care. My hands are still cool. 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Clowns all

When I look at the debate stage for the candidates in both parties in the US presidential election, I see clowns and puppets spouting lies or stupidities. Facts, reality do not seem to enter into it. Knowledge of things that they would need to deal with as president is lacking. When caught in a lie, they repeat it.

They talk about war and how to be tougher than each other. No one talks about peace.

Meanwhile they create divisions: how to deliver good wishes, the color of a coffee cup, the label of liberal or conservative, becomes more important than the floods devastating parts of the UK and the US, the fracking earthquakes in Oklahoma, the poison water in Flint, Michigan and the millions of deaths created by other clowns with their drones and guns.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Foil vs. bottles

I once watched my beloved step mom arrange her medications in this type of box thinking that she had too many medications. For her it was useful as her dementia increased.

I dislike taking pills and try always to do the natural first, but I failed with my blood pressure. I also have an acid stomach...two pills needed daily.  Then chemo means another pill here and there.

It has been years since I've seen the childproof orange pill bottles in real life that should read adult proof more than child proof. I don't miss the struggle to open them.

I know that other types of containers can be dangerous. Kimm, my German Shepherd, got into an envelope of tranquilizers bought to keep her calm during an international flight.

She lived but that was the most mellow day of her life. My brother once took some of my mother's hormones. She called the doctor. "Don't worry until he starts chasing you around the house," he laughed.

Medicines do need to be kept out of reach of those that don't know any better.

Swiss and French medicine come in tin foil packets. No struggle.

With no children in the house, I have no worries about children getting into medication.

Of course, a child overdosing is no laughing matter, but I am happier with tin foil packets. I'd be happiest still with no medication.

Still, I refuse to go with the weekly box and hopefully never will

Saturday, January 02, 2016

The accidental restaurant lunch

Rick and I had not intended to go to eat in a restaurant. We had been exploring a village, Veigy, in France on New Year's Day for no other reason than because we could.

On the way back as we crossed back into Switzerland we passed the restaurant Café de la Frontière.

We had meant to eat there last week. Marc, the manager had been at Marro, our other restaurant of frequent meals, and we like supporting his adventure not just because we like him but because the food is good and the atmosphere cozy.

Much easier to take a left into the parking lot than go home and cook.

We debated calling my former housemate only to find her already there. My trout and rick's lasagna were good. Rick is trying to find the perfect lasagna in Geneva. Today he came a bit closer

Friday, January 01, 2016

3 New Years

"You're serious?" Rick mumbled.

I'd just woken him to tell him it was 5:56 and ask if he wanted to catch the ball dropping in Times Square.

He rolled over and put on the television. It would be our third celebration of the arrival of the new year.

The first was at my old home. We were  unusual for a Geneva group of six: we were only from two countries: four from the US and two Brits.

Under it's a small world we discovered that Rick had gone to the U of Illinois as had Paul. A special guest was the 94-year old Father, who had come across the channel for the holiday. The number was the only thing old about him.

We mumphed down some great cheeses, foie gras, salmon, aubergine caviar, topped off with champagne. There were even crackers to pull with messages inside. And since none of us are spring chickens, we made 10:30 the official new year and went home.

On Swiss television we watched the New Year come in. RTS2 has a hall full of people dancing in conga line and dancing. Many were in national costumes and reminded me of the many fashings and fests I'd attended in Germany when I had been a bride of an Army musician and his 7th corp band were in demand to perform.

At midnight the count down was flashed on screens across the hall. The only logo was on the top of the screen, left hand side, saying which station we were watching.

Now to New York and this morning. 

Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin exchanged comments, an unknown singer sang and the ball began to drop. It was hard to see because of the logos behind it.

I can safely say after very three different welcomings-in, 2016 is definitely here.

Happy New Year everyone.