Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Two invasions

It was a sobering weekend wandering in and out of museums dedicated to different aspects of D-Day.

I cried when I saw the faces of those young men in that boat knowing that within a few hours many of them would be dead. Others would die a few days later of injuries.

D-Day was incredible maneuver with a co-operation between nations like no other. Sixteen nations sent troops and equipment. The English created a harbor for the landing within hours. There men died in record numbers too.

Today those beaches are peaceful. The sand is smooth, without blood, without spent shells. Anyone, who didn't know the history of D-Day, might think of it as a vacation spot, a place to spread their blankets and eat a picnic, build sand castles and play in the waves.

Of  many of those that died because of the invasion 9000+ are buried here, their names on each cross or star of David. A few crosses say "they are known only to God."

Each cross represents a devastated family: mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives whose lives were never the same.

As is said, they made the ultimate sacrifice in what was probably the last necessary war.

The same weekend we saw the Bayeux tapestry, an embroidered version of an earlier invasion led by William the Conqueror or Guillaume le Bâtard in French. He invaded England to grab the throne from Harald who had promised it to Guillaume, albeit it under stress.

Over 2000 people on average walk by the 70-meter/230 foot piece of linen. The tapestry was the 1066 version of the nightly news. Toward the end on the bottom panel are bodies with arrows, bodies missing limbs, bodies decapitated. The weapons in 1066 were far less sophisticated than in 1944 but still deadly. Those death blows were received from hand-to-hand combat with hatchets and arrows not powerful guns.

Those soldiers were just as dead, too early in their lives.

Near the harbor that the British built, was this grafetti. What a powerful message after seeing so much destruction of human life.

This is a dueling blog with my husband. http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/2016/05/mans-inclination-to-invade.html

Missing Q

Years ago while traveling thru northern Germany, my then housemate introduced me to a car game. Try and spot all letters of the alphabet in order from passing signs or wherever you can find them, she said.

Usually it takes two people but on long trips I tend to pass the time by playing the game by myself. 

For several trips between Geneva and Argelès, I have used French license plates as a source. The plates are set up to read letter-letter-number-number-number-letter-letter: example DD-901-AV.

I can usually can finish the alphabet in three or four hours in between talking to my husband and napping.

On the trip to Normandy last week, I decided to only look for letters only on trucks or lorries for my Brit friends. I whipped thru the alphabet in only a couple of hours UNTIL I hit Q.

No company names with Q. One would think with so many French words with que I'd stand a chance. It wasn't to be. For the rest of this trip that day no Q appeared, not even on a license plate.

For the next two days we were touring with friends. Still no Q.
Then, as we were two hours into our ten-hour trip from Normandy to Argelès, one truck had Q as the last letter on its license plate.

Next time I will try the alphabet on road signs.


On trips to New Jersey in another lifetime we would play the initial game by taking the first two letters in any sign and then have to name a famous person.

Ex: Automobile Association Sticker on  a car=Arthur Ashe. 

The x,y,z names were the hardest.

If one really wanted to make it hard limit it to famous writers, actors, politicians, people in history.

JC=Julius Cesear or Jesus Christ.


As a kid during the summer we tried to find a license plate from each state. Alaska and Hawaii were almost impossible, although we did see one of each but not in the same summer.

In Europe it could be each country but there are not that many countries.

Rick and I have a list of all the numbers on a plate that reflect the different French departments such as 75 for Paris and 90-95 or 95 for the suburbs. It's 66 where we live, 31 for the Toulouse area. We could look for all the departments. We'd probably need a tally sheet like I had when I was a kid for the States.


This is a game that we played just not trips but when my housemates and I were weeding our Victory Garden in Boston. 

One player starts out, "I took a trip and in my suitcase I packed an apple." The next player say, "I took a trip and in my suitcase I packed an apple and a ball." The next player has to name the apple, ball and something that starts with C and so on down the alphabet.  Somewhere around l-p there would be mmms as memories weakened. 
Fortunately we often finished the weeding before getting to Z.

The games do pass the time on highway trips along with cloud watching, admiring the scenery, chatting, sleeping (I am not driving). 

However, after many, many hours on the road in the last month, spending time in one place will be a treat. Today we walked to the café for breakfast and the green grocer to pick up food for lunch. Tomorrow the marché is around the corner and Sunday there is movie 72 steps from our door. 

With French strikers impeding gas deliveries, there will be little time for car games to pass the time on the road but there will be a next time. 

The license plate above DD? David Duke.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beau rivage to Boston

My passport may be red with a white cross, but part of my DNA and heart will always be Bostonian.

Last night I was at a press conference and dinner at the Beau Rivage in Geneva, the hotel where the dying Emperess Sissi was taken in 1898 after she was shot.

Both cities are steeped in history and in my history as well.

I was introduced to a man.

"Do I detect an American accent?" he asked

"I'm Swiss, but I grew up in the States?"



"Me too. What part?"

"Wigglesworth Street, across from Harvard Medical."

The man had grown up around the corner. There were only about 30 people in the room from all over the world.

At the apèro later the same man approached me with a woman from Milton, just down the road from Boston.

When we went to dinner there were two other women, one from Arlington, MA and the other from Cambridge who had lived on Delle Avenue where I had owned a house in the late 80s.

We made up a Boston table.

Clichés about small worlds abound.

 15 Wigglesworth Street, Mission Hill, Boston

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dear NSA

The Guardian had an interesting article  on whistle blowers today.

It showed how when people follow the prescribed channels to call out government wrong doing their lives were ruined. Losing a career was mild in comparison to jail. The sad part was that the truths they were exposing never really came to light.

The article tells why Snowden succeeded when the others failed although he has paid a heavy price in the upheaval of his life.

'The key to Snowden’s effectiveness, according to Thomas Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), was that he practised “civil disobedience” rather than “lawful” whistle blowing.'

There are some who feel Snowden was a traitor. There are people who think it is okay, that you, Dear NSA, listen to everything they do.

I don't.

I have been tempted to leave the webcam on when my husband and I make love and give you guys a thrill, but then watching two old people go at it, may make you laugh or even vomit...

So just so you know what we are doing today, is I have a yet another doctor's appointment and then we are going to dinner at the Beau Rivage. My dumb phone will be off as it is most of the time and I will put my laptop to sleep.

As I write this Tummy the cat is asleep next to me. I turned the computer around so you can see him. Isn't he huge?

Now NSA, this is more serious. I want to know what the government is doing that is illegal. I want people to be able to call attention to put them potential in harm's way, not of terrorists but in harm's way of you.

Help or Hurt

A serious blog.

I've had several conversations lately with people who are helping others family members and/or friends.

Helping others is something we need more of, but the conversations turned to a point where does helping hurt?

The problems discussed included alcohol, drugs, depression, money, divorce, lack of work, school grades.

I started to think of the times I had to be helped by others.

As an adult child, who was married, I often had to turn to my father for tuition money. My ex was so opposed to my studying that even the $400 semester cost was a challenge after I supplied my part of our couple income.

I no sooner paid it back and I needed it again. My dad was my first credit card. He loaned me money later so I could buy a car to get to work. By the time I needed another, I was able to finance my own.

My father and stepmom also offered to let me live with them when my husband left me and our infant daughter. I saw the relief in his eyes when I said no. My sister had just left home and they were ready to be child-free.

But I knew the backup was there which let me sleep worry-free even when I didn't use it.

My father never put strings on his loans. I didn't have to modify my behavior to qualify for his largess. At the same time, he approved of how I was handling the disarray my life had become as I was rebuilding it.

He figured if I followed his advice or conditions and it all went wrong, I would not accept responsibility for my own actions. In another way, he thought if he told me what to do, he was stealing my life.

Oh, he had his opinions often expressed as "Have you thought of...?"

I never had.

What he asked always happened. Finally, I learned to think of whatever it was he suggested. It saved me a lot of digging out.

I've tried to follow the same principles with my daughter, but it is easy because she either follows the right (my definition and fortunately hers arrived at by herself) course or has the ability to dig herself out of whatever...

But what if she didn't?

What if she were a drug addict would giving her money for drugs be the answer? Put her in rehab? How many times? What right do I have to determine if I am doing more damage by helping? Would I be helping her or would I be stealing her own life?

At what point should a helping line be cut?
  • Where support (not just financial) becomes a crutch that is stopping a person from walking on their own?
  • Where a crutch allows the person to walk to the next place in their life?
  • Where whatever is in the way of the person accomplishing what needs to be done is an outside force that s/he has no control over?
If you are waiting for a wise answer, I don't have one. I wish my dad were still alive and could say "Have you thought of . . .?" and his wisdom would provide the magic wand.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Café du Soleil

There are restaurants and restaurants, bistros and bistros

The Cafe du Soleil has its own category.

I came across it in 1993, although it is the oldest bistro in Geneva spanning a century. The Geneva Writers Group met there one Saturday a month and then ate, usually their famous fondue.

Because it wasn't far from my house, it became a regular stop. When my daughter or RB2 lived with me we might amble over for a cup of tea, a class of wine or a meal after work.

It was a must go to for honored house guests. I even took business people there, but only those I really liked, to show them a touch of Switzerland.

My dogs Albert, Amadeus and Mika were always welcomed.

I would take business clients that I really liked.

When Rick and I reconnected I took him for fondue. We have held a few celebrations there since then.

Each year they put out a special calendar. I always get one for my daughter. One year when I couldn't get there, they were kind enough to mail me one.

Besides their fondue I love their warm lentil salad, their pineapple and basil dessert. RB2 was a fan of their meringues and double cream. They even serve Malakoffs at night, fried cheese balls which were introduced to the canton by a Russian soldier. They are coated fried cheese balls and one is filling.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

I need this

 Writers hunker down during a writing exercise at the GWG workshop.

I had no idea how much I needed today's workshop at the Geneva Writers Group. Sitting in a room with 50+ other writers on a spring day with bird song filtering thru the open doors was a reminder and a re-dedication to my craft.

Although I was surprised, I shouldn't have been.

In the 90s, the GWG workshops were a creative lifeline for my writing. My working days at that time were spent helping engineers find the correct electrical standards while working on other organizational communication projects. I would joke as I left for work, "I'm going to make the world safe for electricity."

Although not difficult, spending so many hours not doing what I really wanted to be doing -- writing -- left me drained making conjuring up the ideas that I had had on the walk to work difficult to capture.

Each monthly GWG workshop revitalized my energy that carried me at least halfway to the next month's session.

The last few months locked me into a chemo-induced stupor. The challenge was not to get words from my brain to the computer but to find the energy to walk across the room.

Now with renewed strength I have been trying to refocus but concentration has escaped me.

Words have pounded in my head as before, but they didn't quite make the keyboard.

Yet sitting with those other writers I found myself describing, defining and directing my thoughts. It was if the energy in the room banished the idea that instead of being a writer, I was an ex-writer.

For that I am once again grateful to the GWG.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Three legged chair

I was shocked to see that the three-legged chair in front of the UN was swathed in scaffolding. I asked the guard.

"It is being renovated," he said.

I wish they were tearing it down. It was put up to memorialize all the people who have been hurt by land mines. Later cluster bombs were added. The goal would be to take it down when all countries have signed the two treaties,

Since 1997 only a few countries have not signed. Thus it means more people will lose limbs and life for this horrible, but profitable war product.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Today was the first anniversary of our legal marriage although we have others including that of when:
  • We met several decades ago
  • We reconnected in Geneva
  • We had our commitment ceremony (to me the most important)
First great part was Rick coming back from his UK trip.

We had lunch at the Café du Soleil, where we ate the night we reconnected. And of course we had to have profiteroles for dessert and the waiter who heard it was our anniversary brought them with candles.

We often joked about licking a plate. Rick took me up on my dare today and was willing to pose. It is just one more reason I adore him.

He is there for good, bad, interesting, boring and silly times. I especially like the silly. We laugh every day thru everything.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I did it

Today was my first excursion on my own.

My helicopter husband is in the UK, however, I appreciate every whir of his blades as I was laid low with chemo which left me so weak, going up even three or four stairs or walking across a room required his assistance, never mind meals, laundry, shopping.

We fantasized when life would be normal again.

My first victory was walking to the bus, something that I didn't have the strength to do even a couple of months ago. I allowed 45 minutes BUT it only took 15. As I reached the bus stop, a bus pulled up meaning I needed to kill an hour until I met my family member of choice, someone I also call my French daughter and love dearly, for lunch at the UN where she has worked since the beginning of the year having transferred from New York..

I decided to take the Carouge Tram and snapped photos of grafetti and some art work.

Then it was time to meet with her. The guards checked me out and then we had a chance to chat in a way that we couldn't for a long time. It has been wonderful visiting with her, but this was the first time in years it has been one on one.

We took a walk thru gardens. Lovely sculptures, but I only snapped one.

Then it was time to walk to the bus. But now, I was really, really tired. I almost considered calling my former housemate to see if she could give me a ride from the bus stop, but it was downhill and I arrived feeling good.

For months I've been dreaming of normal.

Today was normal.

I did it.

Voting in Switzerland

Yes the photo is out of focus.

What is it?

My voting package which I have spent several hours reading and studying. Either they are writing the contents more simply or my understanding of French is improving but it still took a good part of the afternoon.

This is NOT a complaint. I was given Swiss citizenship and I take the right to vote very seriously. That means studying up on the issues. And I was automatically registered as voter the day I took my citizenship oath. A ballot for the next votation was in with my other documentation.

Some of the things we are voting on this time are simplified and combined:
  • A minimum income for everyone
  • Looking at financing of public services
  • Examination of embryos for genetic defects under special circumstances. I need much more study on this to make sure I understand what I think I understood
  • Use of gas taxes
  • Renters rights after five years in case of the owner wanting to sell the flat
  • Changes in the asylum laws
Two booklets are provided one for the Federal and one for the Canton issues
  • A summary
  • The point of view of the group offering the law
  • The government's point of view
  • A list of the 23 parties point of view (there are only about five major ones)
  • What each of the parties wants (scary when the far right and far left agree)
  • What other interested groups want
The envelope please with:
  • The envelope that the material comes in can also be used to mail back my vote
  • There is an envelope for the ballot
  • There is an identification card.
I can either mail my ballot or vote in person on the morning of June 5. There is internet voting allowed in some places.

I have not finished studying the issues.

I still need to look at the different party posters placed all over the country. I will check them out tomorrow.

I need to read various points of view in the Tribune de Genève. Sometimes if I vote too early, I later read or hear additional information that would have changed my vote. There for it is a balancing act between making sure I vote by mail early enough but not too early.

When I vote I hope I will have my point of view in focus.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Back to Stove Stories

For years my mother wrote a column, Stove Stories. She believed that food was more than what was on the plate, it was the mystic around, it the family legend. I still use many of the recipes not just because of the memories but because I love eating them. All the recipes can be found here.

DON'T you just love pickles, jellies, jams, marmalades?

I do and feel the Pennsylvania Dutch deserve a “tip of the tam” for their seven sweets and seven sours approach to meals.

There is, of course, a huge variety of commercial preparations on your supermarket shelves and most of them are excellent, too. But these just don’t have the same appeal as those marked, for example, “From the kitchen of …” where your name shines forth.

Really, unless you’re over run with your own home grown fruits and vegetables, I’d not be apt to go out and buy the fresh ingredients from the local farmers’ market or favorite produce stand. No, I’d opt for the commercially packed with a few exceptions like the recipes included here. (Editors note: her daughter disagrees.) But that’s just my view.

There is nothing, but nothing, of course, as scrumptious as the aroma drifting from a kitchen where canning or preserving is in progress, whether you grew, bought or were given the ingredients.

Whatever your decision in this department, the recipes herein are quite different from any you’ll find either in supermarkets or in those marvelous gourmet shops that seem to be mushrooming around the country. I can spend hours in these, whether it’s the shop devoted to utensils and kitchen aids or the kind that features foodstuffs not available in ordinary markets.  I treasure a knife found in a kitchen shop along with many other items, but that knife remains my favorite above all others. Had never seen it before and haven’t seen it since.

And the crackers, mustards, cheeses, teas, coffees, and on and on, to be found! But back to the subject at hand.

We spent two autumn days a few years ago in my sun-dappled kitchen where many hands made light work. That was the last year we had time to have a garden. What fun we had, laughing and chopping, smiling and slicing, endlessly stirring, skimming, pouring and sealing.

Much of the fruits of our labors went into Christmas baskets for city dwelling friends and relatives after we took care to see that our own pantry shelves were generously stocked.

From that all out autumn effort, you’ll find four pickle relish and just one for jelly – the pepper relish jelly that I always have on hand, even if I have to buy the ingredients despite my feelings on that score.

The other recipes can be made any old time not being at all dependent on the garden’s bounty.

If I had to choose one favorite from this chapter, it would be the pepper relish jelly, (editor's note: will be published here in the next couple of days) but I don’t have to make a choice. They’re all so delicious, so easy to make, and I feel so delightfully domestic during the making, storing and best of all, eating!


Back in my newspaper days I was assigned to do a feature story on Ann Morgan of Gray and Cole Nursery,Inc., and before we got through the interview the talk had turned to cooking.   


Ann is an accomplished hand a growing, freezing, canning and cooking. When she mentioned “zucchini pickles” I was intrigued for that was the year of our last garden and we were overrun with the ubiquitous zucchini.   

Ann very graciously wrote out the recipe for us and it was a top favorite then and now.
  • 3 quarts thinly sliced, unpeeled zucchini squash, (If you want to use up your larger zucchini, slice thinly and halve or quarter, dependent on size).
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced    
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 2 tsps. mustard seed
  • 1/4 cup pickling salts
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 cups vinegar                                             
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard 
  • 2 cups sugar
Combine zucchini and onions. 

Sprinkle with salt, cover with cold water and let stand two hours.   

Drain, rinse with fresh water, drain again.  

Combine remaining ingredients in enamel or stainless steel kettle and bring to boil. Cook two minutes.   

Add zucchini and onions, remove from heat and let stand two hours.  

Bring again to boil and cook five minutes.   

Ladle hot into hot sterilized pint jars and process in boiling water bath for five minutes to ensure a seal.   

Makes about four pints.   

You’ll be asked for this recipe! 


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Food shopping

"You need to learn," Rick said as we packed groceries into the bag.It took a moment. I've been bagging my own groceries for 26 years. I do have to admit his system of 
  • heavy on bottom
  • bottles laying down
  • lighter items on top
was better than my throw it all in as it comes down the conveyor. I realized he had arranged things in order as he removed them from the cart as well.

During the many months of chemo, my wonderful husband had taken over all the household chores including the shopping and cooking, something he became more and more accomplished with.

He refers to the Geneva kitchen as "his kitchen" with me barely being allowed in. Fortunately, the Argelès kitchen is still ours.

This was our first food shopping excursion together, having just arrived back in Geneva, when we will use supermarkets versus the individual green grocers, butchers, bakeries, etc. that we patronize instead of supermarkets in Argelès.

The three major Swiss chains, Migros, Coop and Manor are all within walking distance in Vesenaz, the closest village that has stores. He prefers Coop, which is the one I used mostly because another Coop used to be across the street from my office. 

Also in Switzerland grocery stores tended to only carry one brand. Migros was a Pepsi store, Coop a Coke, for example. I was a Coke person. They have since expanded their offerings.

I looked at our purchases. I think in terms of nutrition and my purchases were
  • Veggies (lots)
  • Fruits (lots)
  • Yogurt
  • Cereal
  • Bio meat balls
He thinks in terms of nibbling and his were
  • Coke
  • Pretzels
  • Chips
  • Cookies
I will adopt his superior bagging system. I am thrilled he even has a system. I tend to be OCD on systems in placement of toilet paper, towels, certain dishes, order of clothes hangars on the drying rack by color, order by size of bottles on a shelf. He humors me.

Next week is our first official wedding anniversary although we had a commitment ceremony in 2013 that I will always consider the more important. I love that we are still learning and adapting to each other usually with humor. 

May our pleasure in simple things continue forever and ever and...

Friday, May 13, 2016


Growing up there was one bakery in Reading, my home town.

When I was six we moved for two years to Bluefield West Virginia. There was a huge billboard

with a poster selling Sunbeam bread. I was an almost blue-eyed blond, and I took that as a reason to convince my mother to buy it.

And I can't forget the Wonder bread the built bodies 8 ways and later 12 ways.

I ate my egg salad, PBJ and bologna sandwiches on Wonder Bread for years. No matter that it had the consistency of cotton batten. I was building my body strong 8 than 12 years. Good Housekeeping proved it.

Of course, my grandmother made bread that was more like dessert it was so good. Oatmeal, Annadama, brown bread (like the kind that came in cans with molasses and raisins.) This was too good for  sandwiches. It didn't even need butter. These breads were treats along with her many kinds of cookies including bird cookies cut with an antique cookie cutter, peanut butter cookies, rice Krispies bars, brownies, pies of many different fruits and cakes. Mostly it was back to Wonder bread and my egg salad, PBJ and bologna sandwiches (not mixed of course).

When I moved to Germany I learned what their regular bread was like. Nothing like I had been used to. It was thick, flavorful, more like my grandmother's bread.

Brötchen for breakfast from the bakery down the street became almost the rule. If I was lucky, they still might be hot from the oven.

Although I  could buy bread from the PX, it did not compare with what was for sale within a few steps of our apartment.
 An assortment of brötchen.

Now I live in a village with five boulangeries and one place that bakes its bread on site, but since the bread is not made on site, it can't be called a boulangerie.

Early in the morning, very early, I can smell the hot yeasty smell of baking bread, especially if the wind is blowing in the right direction it comes in the window.

Gone are the days when there were just baguettes, although there are plenty of those. Now we have a choice of cereal breads, different types of wheat bread, brioche, corn and fruit breads. Also croissants, pain au chocolat called chocolatin never mind a calorie-laden choice of cookies, cakes and tarts each more beautiful than the one before.

We can ask for them to be tranché, sliced. One bakery can never seem to cut it all the way thru, but they have one bread that is so good, with its hard, hard crust that it is worth it to finish cutting. How lazy can one be????

We tend to patronize all boulangeries, depending on who has the day off (they take turns so the French can buy their bread fresh once, twice or three times a day) and how long a line it.

And I can't forget the pastries, for special occasions.

I admit it. I am soooooo, soooo spoiled.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Wind, rain, snow

 Since I was 45 I've been meaning to stop at the fort. This was going to be the weekend. 
Wrong! My daughter will have to come back again to see it, 
but she comes regularly.

I woke this morning to rain battering the skylight, making me wonder if the Edinburgh tattoo was the in the living room. The weather scuttled the trip to Fort at Rivesaltes and replaced it with...
  • Lunch of Welsh Rarebit instead of the Italian restaurant in Perpignan
  • A visit from friends bearing homemade scones combined with great conversation
  • An apero in my nest provided by my visiting daughter who is camped out there, a precious moment
  • Writing
  • Reading
Unlike many, I celebrate bad weather. Wind, rain, snow, sleet, fog all create a special series of activities that have their own merit.

I think of snow days when we crawled back into bed listening to no-school announcements and drinking hot chocolate as just one example.

Fighting the wind driving from Payerne to Geneva on Christmas Day, and the feeling of relief when I parked the car and hauled the presents into the house and headed for the tea pot.

Sitting with a high school friend in Banyuls during a vendage fête on a clear, clear, clear Tramantane day and seeing birds fly backwards.

Feeling the sting of sleet on my cheeks, reminding me how truly alive I am.

Enjoying the misty view of fog reminiscent of a favorite painting.

And there were the daily rainbows for the three weeks we spent in Ireland that although never turned into a pot of gold, was a reward in their delicacy.

As this rainy day went on there were three trips to la Noisette to have coffee with friends (too bad we were 24 hours early, joining my daughter for lunch, and a writing session). Inside it was warm and cozy as we watched the rain outside. Each time coming home (we are talking less than a block), the warmth of the flat was welcoming as Rick was writing on his laptop.

This doesn't mean that I don't like beautiful blue skies and sunny days. I do. But unless I was planning a picnic or some outdoor activity, a gray sky does not bring any feeling of sadness, just a change of plans.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

I wish

 Norma Boudreau

I wish...
  • I could pick up the telephone and call my beautiful stepmom.
  • We were sitting on her couch watching Rachel Ray. She didn't cook but loved to watch cooking shows.
  • We were watching Wheel of Fortune and when I guessed the answer she'd tell me how smart I was.
  • I could hear her tell my dad, that they didn't have his and her children, but "our "children."
  • We were at Olive Garden in Port Charlotte mumphing down salad.
  • We were in Camden, ME visiting places she and my dad once visited with their boat The Grand Slam.
  • When I talked to her at the end of her life she always remembered who I was.

I wish...
  • My mother had been the same kind of mother when I was an adult that she was when I was a child.
  • I had some of the cartoons she drew making me the heroine in a hard situation I was about to face. The gave me courage.
  • I thanked her for all the times she drove me by some boy I liked house.
  • She could buy my clothes. She always picked out something I would love.
  • We could play Scrabble and eat peaches and cream, or marinated mushrooms or crackers with cream and chives. I also wish I won more.
  • She hadn't been so manipulative and controlling when I was an adult.
  • She hadn't tried to annul my marriage.
  • She hadn't tried to get custody of my daughter and thank goodness she failed.
  • She hadn't thought my first novel filthy.

I wish
  • That I have taken the good things from both women.
  • I wish they were still alive and healthy.

I had a dream

But nothing like MLK's.

And so did my husband.

We often stay in bed in the morning with tea and exchange details. Sometimes they are explainable.

Other times?

No Way.


I was talking to a woman at a street crossing and she was beginning a story. She had on a matching blouse and skirt with many swirling colors blue, red, greens almost hiding the white. There was a thin belt of the same fabric.

I started to cross the street but a bus blocked me and many people got off including a friend who will remain nameless. Unlike my friend, she had layers and layers and layers of make up.

I was never able to finish the story the woman started to tell me.

Then I was in my tiny, two-room, wooden tree house. I was sharing it with a man, who I knew in the dream but had no resemblance to anyone I can think of in real life.

At each of the two windows was a small oval table, exactly like the 300-year-old table from my childhood.

A friend, who will also remain nameless, came and asked for one of them back. I asked her what I should do with the air conditioner on the table. I woke before she answered.

Rick posted his on Facebook.

"Had a brief but vivid dream - perhaps Don's Jungian friend can interpret it. We came upon a sprawling, concave swath of open land among the mountains, where a small plane had taken off from a grass airstrip and as it banked near a high bluff it dropped something out the side - a tiny drone. Way below, among some badlands-type rock formations, cowboys on horseback were playing golf, swinging the club one-handed. D-L tried to throw a roll of toilet paper to some people on the bluff above us but she couldn't get it all the way there, so I was going to try. When I looked at the unraveling TP, printed on it were Facebook posts."

Any practicing psychiatrists please do not interpret.

Saturday, May 07, 2016


I am a saver by nature. Sometimes it was big amounts, but also little amounts. It all adds up so I can contend with emergencies or allow myself treats. I won't charge things that can't be paid off in a month.

I have always saved coins. I put myself thru grad school in Wales with Swiss five franc pieces.

Someone gave me a Coke bottle bank bigger than the one in the photo. When  moved to Europe I had about $250 saved and it wasn't as full as the one below.

Periodically I cash the coins in or put them in my savings accounts.

Rick put all my coins together and today we went thru them.

Granted there were still coins from places like the US, Canada, Iceland, Syria and Canada. Mostly there were Euros.

We found enough Swiss in among the French for three menus du jour at Marro, for Rick, J and me. It will seem like a free lunch. And he has enough English coins for a good meal when he is in London later this month.

The French went into the piggy bank, that we were able to buy because we promised the vendor not to smash it. There is an opening.

I wonder when it fills up, how much will be in there. Maybe enough for our flights to Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The joys of village shopping

Let's face it...

Food shopping can be boring!

Unless you live in a village where each purchase is a personal experience with the owners as well as a decision on what we will enjoy eating.

There are several boucheries or meat markets in town. Now I am not a big meat eater but when we do buy meat and each has its advantages. All are within a five-minute walk of the house. No parking, just amble down the street.

This is owned by a young, hard-working couple. They have really good turkey products. Almost impossible to buy a whole turkey here and many ovens aren't big enough.

 For some reason we don't patronize this one, but I like their window displays.
Michel makes the best fresh mayonnaise. He also had couscous if we want to buy our lunch to take home. I used him for the smoked pork when I make New England Baked beans.

The newest Hallal butcher in town, has a lovely young man who owns it. I tend to say mahaba when I enter and shukran for thank you. He also carried bric which I made the other day and Kinder Eggs so Llara can smuggle the toys into the US. (Kids can have guns but not chocolate eggs with toys inside).

I also do business with the other Hallal butcher who has a cousin who shares recipes for what I buy. often there are people in the shop to chat with. We started doing business with him because there was some anti Muslim comments and we wanted him to know there were people in the village who welcomed him.

If I don't want meat, the fish is fresh off the boat each day. Wish Rick liked fish more, but in a restaurant the smell of cooking fish does not linger. And of course, there's the restaurant Bartavelle and Thibaut's incredible fish dishes.


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Bright kids

The kids were nervous as they entered this hall.We were about 30 anglophones, mostly wrinklies, there to help the older kids practice their presentations for their oral part in English for their Bac, the test all French students must pass to be considered the equivalent of a high school graduate.

Many had been studying English for many years and were quite accomplished.

There was also the next group, younger, who were there merely to speak English and because they were rotated every fifteen minutes to give them a chance to deal with a variety of accents.

What fun!

What renewal in hope for the next generation.

Some had firm plans for the future, scientist, obstetrician while others, were uncertain. They did want to travel including places like Australia, US, Japan, Thailand and Korea. One girl had even started to learn Korean.

A pretty, no make that beautiful young girl, said she didn't have a boyfriend and somehow felt it was her fault. I shared with her how many years out of high school. some of my fellow students at the time wanted to ask me out but were afraid of rejection. I told her I bet that was true in her case. She seemed skeptical, but laughed with the line, "Believe an old lady."

I found a Third Culture Kid, French and German who felt French when she was in Germany and German when she was in France. Another hated math and loved history, languages and literature.

Rick has a dueling blog.

Besides the pleasure of working with the kids, Rick had another reward. He found a golf group to play with regularly.