Thursday, June 30, 2016


Knives have been used for 2.5 million years according to Wikipedia. They are a necessity for many daily tasks.

They are so useful, it is hard to think of them as an art form, but yesterday at Bartavelle, one of our all-time favorite restaurants, not just in Argelès but in the world, we saw truly artistic knives.

They are handmade, perfectly balanced and decorated with a variety of woods.

The designer added the name of the restaurant and his own as shown in the photo.

Beauty can be found even in the most ordinary of things.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

morning bliss

I woke at five and continued reading The Women's Room, which is more a socialistic study of the 50s and 60s than a novel. Sometimes I could picture my mother's friends' faces on the characters. Uncle Harry was my Uncle Archer raging about Kikes and Koons. In some cases it is predictive of today's time especially with the numbers of people in prisons. This could have been my life, but I escaped the bad, but not the good.

Listening to two gulls having a conversation. Brexit? Frexit? Another bird had his wake up call of an ha hah ah ah ha hah. Somewhere there is a soft coo.

Loved watching Rick sleep, then stagger into the bathroom, bed hair and stagger back. He was back asleep so fast (I'm jealous of his ability to fall asleep in nano seconds) and I enjoy watching him sleep. His facial skin is so soft, his eyelashes long, and he is so substantial. After 41 years of providing my own safety, knowing he is there, gives me a back-up security but I love him for what we share and how we back each other up, his creativity, his humor, his generosity, his kindness and and and...

Eating my breakfast on the patio while Rick was still asleep and realizing every thing I was using had a memory. The glass, cup and plate were all vide grenier treasures and held the memory of Rick and I walking among the tables, holding hands, spying them and saying, "What do you think?" The tray was from Bayeux and the pleasure of Rick discovering the original tapestry. Even the melon from Chez Elizabeth with her cooing, "Reeeeeek and my belle Donna" are memory-laced.

The bougainvillea is finally blossoming and the jasmine is budding.

I am swept away in a tsunami of happiness.

Monday, June 27, 2016

New Yorker

Whenever I visited my friend CB, I used to love reading her New Yorkers in the down time when it was polite to leave my hostess alone to get on with it.

Last Christmas I asked my husband for my own subscription, the paper kind. He obliged.

Because it is delivered to Argelès-sur-mer and we spent months in Geneva, they piled up.

I tried reading them in order but now I read oldest-newest, except when I just grab at one. So much for system. In any case, at two a week I'm getting caught up.

Some go in the bathroom, which as a reading room can be christened "The New Yorker Room." We tend to leave the magazine open to which article each of us is reading. At the moment I think Rick is on Niki de Saint Phalle and I am on the Civil War in Spain in the 1930s. We will ask each other, "Did you see the article on ..."

While I tend to read cover-to-cover, he tends to pick and chose.

When we are done, they go to our friend Lydia, who says the magazines are slowing her book reading. I have the same problem, because some of the magazines are next to my bed which I will pick up in place of a book.  She then passes them on to another friend.

By fall, when we go traveling and back to Geneva, they will pile up again. I'll come back to treasure trove around Christmas.

Yes, I could read them on line, and I do use a Kindle to read books. But I want the gloss of the paper, the crinkle of turning the page, the ability to fold a page over, and look at the pile of unread material knowing there are delights to come.

Great Christmas present it was...2017 is coming, hint, hint, hint Rick.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


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We must have ghosts in the house, playful ones. Things are disappearing and in a two bedroom flat there is limited places where they can hide things.

Among the list of missing things are:
  • The car radio
  • My red watch
  • A computer cord
  • My magnifying mirror
There are things that go missing that make sense because we put them down in different places, but the magnifying mirror especially is only used in one place.

I am almost willing to carry Julia on my back from Geneva to Argelès as a search committee. If she can't find something it doesn't exist. And she's not afraid of ghosts,

Saturday, June 25, 2016


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Lascaux cave painting

Humans have expressed themselves with paintings from caveman times. But what if my biography was written as a series of paintings?

Childhood would have pine trees and snow. We had 38 pines in front of our house with the side garden of roses, lilies, iris, violets and lilacs depending on the season.

Like the trees and plants I was nurtured, hugged, read to, encouraged, told I was beautiful and smart. My family played games together, ate wonderful meals prepared by my mother (gourmet) or my grandmother (old-fashioned New England cooking) and we talked around the table at each meal, often about what we would eat at the next meal as well as what we did that day.

It was New England and winters brought snow forts and tobogganing. The snow gave limitations just as my mother's over protectiveness brought limitations on what I could and couldn't do. Convinced the world was waiting to kidnap me, walking to school or even playing outside our 14 acres of yard was impossible.

The upper right hand corner of the painting would be painted black. Not a very big part but it would represent my parents unhappy marriage and perhaps a bit of black paint from that tiny corner would trickle down onto the rest of the canvas.

My marriage would be a split screen. I married a man I adored. Unfortunately he existed only in my mind.

The left hand side would be full of images of the Europe I fell in love with, of cobbled streets, markets done in Picasso type shapes. Somewhere would be a modernistic German shepherd.

German words could be painted in tiny letters and hidden in parts of the painting. 

Europe would not take up the entire left hand side. The other part would be books of many colors. I was at university, in love with learning, trying to absorb the novels, the poetry, the history, the music.

If each minute of the day was occupied with working part time, taking care of a house, trying to live up to the expectations of a conventional marriage in a conventional time when married women were not students, the classes provided the color of each day. This part of the painting would not be abstract. It was my joy, my sanity.

Kazimir Malevich's painting would be perfect for the other half of the painting showing those years. Nothing was ever right enough. Constant trying harder without giving the one thing that I needed most, my education, was exhausting at best.

But there were some good moments. One of those gray lines could be my diploma, my first professional job. And my ex and I did share somethings, albeit only on his terms. Wimpdom was my home country. Where was the person I used to be?  Where was the woman I wanted to be?

A crib would have to be in the next painting, but not a plain one, one painted like a rainbow in a room of sunrises. My daughter saw me thru my divorce and the pain of recovery. This painting should have that black square receding into the back ground.

My real life began as I built a career, friendships, experimented and failed sometimes and picked myself up and went on. I succeeded and learned. Watching my daughter grow into a wonderful woman would be shown in reds, yellows, pinks. And almost every day I was happy to be.

From 30 on my life was full of color and happiness. There might be a splotch of gray as something didn't work. Maybe a hole in the colors should be made to represent losing people I loved.

But mostly I lived the life I wanted, moved to Europe, began to write, perfected my craft, changed nationalities...some of these were firework events that merit their own canvas.

An entire art gallery could not hold all the paintings of my life from 30 on, yet there are still new artwork in pastels, crayons, oils and probably even digital creations with new experiences being added.

How do you paint an ecstatic bride in her 70s? How do you show that life gets better and better with each day? How can you paint a cancer that was in one way a gift as a reminder of how precious life was/is/will be?

My life, my paintings, my gallery...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Names, naming

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We don't get to name much, mostly our kids, our pets.

My daughter fought me when I wanted to name our Japanese chin David. He became Amadeus, which better suited him. (My daughter on the other hand has yet to forgive me for putting a second L in Llara, although I suspect if she hated it all that much, she would have changed it with my blessing. She is lucky my ex, her father put his foot down when I wanted to name her Cloud--okay it was the sixties.)

Being a writer of 10 published novels, one due out in September and three unpublished, I get to name many, many people. 

I am starting a new novel, my first novel since my Murder in...A Third Culture Kid series.

It will involve four women between their late twenties and late thirties. Working title is Day Care

Because it is set in present time there is a need for names that work in time and place. You cannot have an eighty-year old Chinese woman named Madison without a lot of explanation.

I have begun my character cards where I jot relevant but minor details of all characters. That way someone does not shrink from being six foot two to five foot nine unless I give them a double leg amputation.

I have sources for appropriate names:
  • The most popular name lists for (year)
  • Phone books (especially if the setting is outside the US)
  • Grave yards (especially if the setting is outside the US)
  • Friends (first names only)
  • Books
My French woman is Anne-Marie.

The short list for her three friends are Melissa, Victoria, Morgan, Vanessa, Nathalie, Caitlin. I need to decide more about their characters and family background before making a final selection. 

They have daughters born in 2012. The French twins are Sophie and Lydia but I need three American names. I will resist Madison, Savannah and Brooklyn tempting though it maybe. 

Too citified.

I remember when I was doing my creative writing degree at Glamorgan University in Wales, the profs talking about exotic names in romance novels as OTT. I remember thumbing thru one to discover the hero was named Cash Boudreau. The Boudreau I liked because it was my maiden name and the setting was New Orleans, but Cash????

Some short lists for the kids are Harper (my love of To Kill a Mockingbird) and I can make the mother a wantabe writer, Layla, Olivia, Rebecca, Sarah. 

Once I have the main characters, I will add the auxilary characters as they appear. 

The cards are a handy system for when six weeks after the introduction of a character I have to remember some detail. I need to keep consistency.

The cards are the only handwritten part of the novel. Other techniques I've used is to highlight some detail I may want to check in yellow followed by using FIND. Still the cards are easier.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dandelion jelly

 A short time ago I wrote how I loved dandelions.

A friend in Russia read my blog and told me about dandelion jelly, something, I had never heard of. 

It is too late to make it this year, but next spring, not only will I gather the greens for salad but will pick the flowers for the jelly.

I did find several recipes and three are given below.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Although I have not seen Lillian for just under 23 years, I dreamed about her last night.

Lillian read The Boston Globe.

My mother read the Herald.

Lillian wondered how the Kennedys hid their wings and halo.

My mother was sure if as reporter, she dug deep enough she would find their signed copy of their pact with the devil.

She was my mother's good, good friend from secretarial school days in the late 1930s, an unlikely pair agreeing on almost nothing.

My daughter and I found Lillian marching with us at a pro-choice parade.

My mother was pro-life.

Still they loved each other.

My mother was divorced, Lillian a widow waking to find her lifeless body of her husband next to her.

I loved Lillian's visits, because both women would giggle and play "remember when" while creating more memories. She always pronounced my mother's name as Door-a-thee drawing out the last two syllables.

Lillian had what she called "milk bottle legs" and said if she were ever a double amputee she would tell people her legs were more beautiful than Ginger Rogers. 

Even if their sixties they would escape for a girls weekend at the Stage Neck Inn on the Maine Coast.

Lillian traveled far and wide while mother would only travel to places that could be reached without a tunnel or a bridge.

She had us enthralled with her tales of her visit to Ireland. "A man in a pub raved about my hair and asked me to sleep with him, she told us. My mother, who told me that even after marriage, if my husband respected me he wouldn't want to sleep with me very often," gasped.

"Did you?" I asked the question my mother was afraid to.

As she shook her head no, my mother looked relieved. Then Lillian added, "He raved about my hair and I didn't want him to know it was a wig."

I last saw Lillian on a trip to Boston in 1993. Her small apartment was immaculate and filled with touches that made me know it was her home. She produced a tea pot and some cake as we talked about her recent breast surgery which did not seem to upset her all that much. In her eighties breasts just were not all the necessary.

With only nieces whom I never met, no one notified me when she died. It is an assumption that she did.

I can picture Lillian's reunion with Door-a-thee if there' a heaven. They would be giggling over a glass of wine and some new tidbit my mother had just made.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


A month and a half ago we began our quest for a picnic basket. We wanted each item in it to contain a memory. No store bought basket can do that.

Our method was to ferret out all the items at vide greniers (French flea markets). Sunday mornings would find us visiting nearby villages where the vide greniers were taking place.

Our first purchase was extra special at the May1 Argelès vide grenier. They were owned by our good friend May, who had put a table outside her back door. We will think of her every time we use them.

The hardest item was the basket. Some were pretty but not strong enough. And they weren't all that common. Some of our friends offered to look for us when they went vide greniering.

Today we were heading to the vide grenier at Sainte Marie de la Mer. 

As we rounded the corner walking to the parking lot we noticed many too many people for an ordinary Sunday. 

Then we saw all the tables set up.

"Did you see anything about a vide grenier here?" Rick asked.

I hadn't. "Let's check it out." And there it was, the perfect basket. The price was two Euros ($US1.12, £.78).

We still went to Sainte Maire de la Mer where we found the blanket to sit on during our picnics.

If the wind dies down I hope we can do our first picnic later in the week at the pine grove near the beach. Then there is a beautiful lake not far. And on our trips to Geneva we can pack a lunch and stop at the picnic grounds along the autoroute, or off the autoroute if we decide to check out this or that place.

Let the picnics begin.

Rick has a dueling blog

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Species Racism

We were on a walk and had to duck thru a sprinkler. On the other side of the sidewalk was a swarth of weeds being watered.

"I don't understand why they water weeds." my husband said.

"Look closely. They're beautiful," I said. And the flowers were softly colored. The leaves were tiny and delicate.

I love dandelions...They are spectacular yellow. Their leaves make a great salad. I even like their earthy smell, yet people designate them as weeds. Having a lawn full made me happy--not so much my neighbors.

We walked a little further. My husband said, "Species, racism." 

Weeds can be defined as a species of any type that are unwanted. It seem to me an analogy that we demonize one human group over another as well. Whites are better than blacks, weeds are better that flowers, but weeds can be flowers too.

In the plant world, I am sure a weed angry at being called a weed once too often, being pulled up from a lawn, takes a gun and shoots a carrot. 

At least not yet.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Sick to death

I'm sick to death of death.

I am not talking about those I've personally lost: Archer, Maud, Dar, Mother, Jimmy, Norma, Mardy, Eva, Sam, Bill, Pat, Barbara, Dan -- friends and family whom I will always miss. Many of those deaths released them from pain.

I am aware as I age, this will happen more and more. I treasure their memories. I treasure the people still with me.

The deaths that are haunting me are the ones that are blasted all over the television during the past week.

The police chief and his partner gunned down outside his home when he was off duty near Paris. French television showed their caskets, the presentation by President Holland of medals, the police in uniform, the Marseilles being played. 

The victims are not there to hear. is almost ho hum, another day another mass shooting, thoughts and prayers, blah blah blah.

The victims are not there to hear.

Jo Cox in the UK. A good MP, one that was a representative, not a phony leader. We must remember that MPs, Congressmen are representatives not leaders for they don't.

The victim is not there to hear.

The blah blah blah is boring because it accomplishes nothing to prevent the next senseless killing. 

How do you end hate? I wish I knew.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


When I saw this on the web, I thought "isn't that adorable."

For a while I've been thinking about instead of inviting people for lunch or dinner, how about breakfast?  I could do my oatmeal bread or bagels, etc. 

And wouldn't it be wonderful if I could serve eggs that looked like this.

I ordered the molds, and had them sent to my daughter to hand carry them from the US when she visited last month.

"You'd better experiment before asking people over," my husband said.

It was a good thing he did considering the early experiments. It looks like the owl had been hit in the and suffered massive hemorrhages. 

But today, I almost got it right. My owl was almost there. 

The secret?

Fill the mold with white including the eyes and only when it hardens add the yolk eyes.

Will I be able to produce enough to serve guests? I need more practice.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Meaningless words

A friend tried an experiment. Whenever someone said, "Hi, how are you?" she would respond with "I'm dying, thanks and you?" in the most upbeat way possible with a huge smile.

Very few people paid any attention making the question, meaningless, a throwaway phrase.

After every American mass shooting the phrase "thoughts and prayers" are uttered over and over by alleged leaders.

Yet many of them never do anything and often do things that would prevent the next mass shooting.

And you think they get down on their knees and pray for the victims?

Do you think they take the time to find out about the victims: their favorite color, their job, their love, their family. Do they know if among the victims there was:
  • A man who played Little League as a kid and is now a Little League coach
  • A woman, who graduated at the top of her high school class
  • A mother read Dr. Seuss to her three year old at bedtime
Do they visit them and bring them a casserole, send flowers three months after the death to say "you are still in my thoughts" or get down on their knees, night after night to pray?

I suspect the mumble the words in their message that get them some air time and go on to the next meeting, next dinner, next sporting event. They go home to their families who are not about to be buried.

Enough of the thoughts and prayers. If you can't do something meaningful, shut up. 

The playhouse

My grandfather had a garden which he loved more than anything except for my grandmother. It was down a hill from our house, a hill where we sledded in the winter. In the spring it was purple with violets.

His beans, corn, tomatoes, peas, swiss chard, rhubarb, asparagus were in military straight rows while his strawberries grew at one end of the garden in nothing resembling order. A row of grape vines flanked the tool shed. (the photo above is as close as I can find to what it looked like.)

When my grandfather died, there was no one to put out each plant with love or without love.

The strawberries grew each year without our help and were converted into jams and ice cream. The rest of the vegetables we bought at the supermarket or from local farm stands.

His tool shed was emptied. I have no idea what was done with the shovels, rakes and hoes.

I took over the tool shed as a playhouse. I imagined glass in the two windows, curtains, a rug, a comfortable chair, my toy stove and sink set, dishes, a bed with pretty blankets -- a complete home.

My father started to put white ceiling tiles up for me. My decorating plans flourished, although I never shared them. I imagined I could live in it when my parents fought and maybe when they didn't.

My parents separated before my father even finished the ceiling.

Left alone, I was too young to make the tool shed look like the home I wanted it to be.

Perhaps a psychiatrist might say that explains my nesting desires today, the importance of a pretty place to live. Maybe it explains my love of small living quarters.

Or maybe not. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

We have a snail AGAIN

"We have a snail," Rick said.

We have a snail history. A couple of years back I had bought some empty snail shells to decorate these three stone bowls.

Only they weren't empty.

Before we knew it we had forty plus snails crawling up our windows.

In the end we took them down to the river to give them a second chance at life.

Snails have become a family joke.

If this was any relation to one of the original snails, I have no idea. We did put him/her outside where hopefully s/he can lead a normal snail life.

Impromtu picnic

"Bon appétit," I said as I walked by my favorite green grocers. I was on the way to the supermarket to buy things that aren't sold by the local baker, butcher or green grocers. 

It was 1:30. All the French were home eating, the best time to shop when the store is empty of people.

Elisabeth, the owner of the green grocer and her son, who helps his mother between his law school university classes, were sitting next to the cash register eating their lunch.

"Do you like rabbit?" Elisabeth asked. 

I nodded.

Before I knew it, I was sitting next to her handsome son Daniel, munching down rabbit and a roasted and well seasoned aubergine,  chatting away.

Any guilt for interrupting the few quiet moments that they can find, was swept away as I finished my serving.

Out came the the cheese from their case and bread to finish the meal.

I knew Rick was planning a special lunch, but suddenly from behind I received a giant hug. He was walking down to meet me and help me carry what I hadn't bought yet.

Although the rabbit and aubergine were now a memory, he was handed cheese and bread, a crate was pulled up for him to sit on as we continued chatting.

He will cook his special meal tomorrow. He knows minutes like this are to be savored not just for the good food, but for the warmth of people whom we share these times with.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Michel dream

Last night I dreamed about Michel Boudrot.

He's not a movie star, a politician, a lover.

He was my ancestor and we were walking around La Rochelle where he was born in 1601 and sailed from to make his home in Canada.

In the dream all the ice cream, souvenir shops, real estate agents, museums, restaurants had disappeared. So had all the modern yachts.

La Rochelle was more of fishing port and I could smell the fish as I passed by the salting warehouse.

Michel told me about his life.

Too bad research isn't that easy.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Gained day

I woke thinking it was Friday, checked my iPad to find out where we would meet R&E for coffee.


Then I realised that it was Thursday, a whole day where I had no plans with anyone.

My favorite mornings are like today where I enjoy:
  • Tea in bed
  • Reading
  • Snuggling
  • Sharing bits and pieces of what we read
The one day of summer heat has not penetrated the flat. We still need the covers.

There is a pleasure in just looking around the room.

There is a pleasure looking out the bedroom window at the patio and thru to the plants on the stairs leading to the kitchen.

Waking to the delicate flowers painted by our former landlord Cristina. That is usually the first thing I see.

Checking the time on my Annie clock, created by the talented artist Pauline Stonehouse. Annie is the main character in my mystery novel.

Looking upwards at another artwork by Pauline and the stone walls. The flat is over 400 years old, of course modernized. I am sure where I sleep there was once sheep, cows and chickens. The ground floor in most of these old houses once held live stock, especially during the winter. In the summer they were probably left to graze outside the village walls, a few remnants which remain.

Now that I know it isn't Friday my activity list has changed.

1. Mail a letter to my wonderful mother-in-law.

2. Deliver a photo I took of Marco to him.
3. Make Dar's oatmeal bread. I want to photograph the yeast which is cream colored and is a leavener a word starting with the letter L. Our FB photographic group has as a theme every week, and this week it is photos of things that are creamed colored and start with the letter L.

4. Not vac and wash the floors. Tomorrow.

5. Work on Murder in Edinburgh and write a bit more on the new novel Day Care.

6. Buy a melon from Elisabeth.

7. Finish the grapes.

I LOVE MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

tales of two places

When I spent my first summer in Argelès, we often ate at this café. The year was 1979. Every Monday night they had couscous and while there was a street dance in the same square.

Over the years the café has changed hands many times. At one point it was said to be headquarters of a local prostitution ring, but most owners have it as a restaurant or a bar. 

On  ultra hot days it was the coolest place in town and although I am not much of a beer drinker, my friend Barbara and I would take refuge under the trees and sip an icy beer.

This is the back of Hostalet, a lovely hotel. It wasn't always lovely. For years it was run by a couple who took client service lessons from Fawlty Towers.

They sold it to a Danish artist and it became client friendly. The artist later became our landlord when my studio proved to small for my new husband and myself and remains a good friend.

Someone bought it and left it empty for a couple of years and finally Jonathan and Matthieu bought it, renovated the rooms and turned it into a warm and charming place. Last year they opened the back for a couple of hours in the evening serving wine, beer, fruit drinks and if we are lucky a homemade tapenade.

It is a perfect place to relax at the end of a writing day.

In between the two places are flowers and a wall. The wall is pretty not like the one between Mexico and the US, or the old Berlin Wall or the Israeli Wall.

One can cross it without papers or visa. It is possible to have a cold beer at two on a hot day at the one cafe and return for a chat with Jonathan and Matthieu and a cup of tea at five.

During the summer on Sundays many of the local artists set up their easels and paint. Tables will be filled in both places.

And those summer dancers?

We haven't seen the schedule yet, but we'll reserve our places with J&M as soon as it is posted.

Monday, June 06, 2016

My imaginary farmhouse

For decades I've owned an imaginary farmhouse.

A small creek that burbles outside, a vegetable garden and wild strawberries grow next to the house. The back sports an inset flagstone patio with a New England type stone wall that leads to the pine forest behind.

The house is close enough to the village to bike in for fresh baked bread.

Although there is never any problems with electricity or plumbing, if there were the local plumber and electrician would show up within an hour of being called and fix the problem. (This is France and I told you it was imaginary.)

Why do I have an imaginary farmhouse?

I am a minimalist and buy as little as possible and when I do the things must meet one, two or all three conditions.
  • Be useful
  • Be beautiful
  • Hold a memory
However, over the years I have found things I love. I "buy" them in my imagination for my imaginary farmhouse (another advantage is that they never, ever have to be dusted.)

At the vide grenier (empty attic/flea market) I saw two things I loved.

The butter churn is above. It was only 50 Euros and I was tempted to buy it in reality but we have no place for it. I plan to make butter soon, strawberry butter too, but I suspect my food processor will be a lot easier.

Below is a child's hobby horse. It would be perfect for the nursery on the second floor of my imaginary farm house, not that I am planning to have any imaginary children, but if I did, they would come with automatic changing nappies.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Writer thoughts

"It seemed so odd that my ever-successful friend should have a crisis of confidence. The fact interested me, it even cheered me a little."

The quote was from the short story My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan in the 28 March 2016 edition of the New Yorker.

As a writer I loved the story written from the point of view of a barely successful writer who keeps the friendship from university days of a writer more successful than he was. I will not write a spoiler of the twists and turns, just comment on my pleasure in the story.

As a writer who has published ten novels with the eleventh due out this fall, I have a body of work. I should be confident but I've always remembered what my editor said when I was a cub reporter for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. He was a Spencer Tracey wantabe with his growls. "You are only as good as your last story."

Sometime I feel I am only as good as my last paragraph. It doesn't stop me from going back and polishing one more time or maybe 20 more times.

The fact the writer was cheered, but just a little is an interesting balance that he didn't hold any animosity toward his friend for being more successful.

I have started with several writers in the Geneva Writers Group whom I consider much better writers. I don't begrudge them their talent. I would not be cheered by their self doubts, because I believe all writers have those days and if they are lucky, only those days instead of the doubt crippling them for weeks, months or years.

Being a writer is a funny thing. Words and stories roll around in one's head. Some will never escape thru the fingers. Those that do may disappear with a delete key. Others will hide in a desk or a computer hard drive and never be read by anyone.

This I do know. A writer writes. It is impossible not to. The other emotions are just detail.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Blue water bottle

"Do you pay a deposit on the water bottle?" I asked Matt.

We were sitting behind the Hostalet enjoying an apèro with friends. Matt and Jonathan are as much friends as owners of the hotel. It is a place we often end up at the end of a day of writing. Sometimes other friends are there. Sometimes we are alone and they have time to chat.

They often have a wonderful tapenade that they make on the premises.

He nodded.

"If I give you the deposit, may I have the bottle?" I loved its shape and color.

"You may have it."

I took it.

Today I used it as a vase with flowers bought from the marché.

It is just as I imagined it would be when I look up from my laptop.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

I never bathe

"I want to change my room. It has no bath, no shower," the American said to the French hotel manager Daniel, a man whose eyes out-twinkled the best Santa. He was roly-poly  like Santa too.

"Madame, I regret we are full."

"Maybe I can change with someone who has a bathtub."

"Our rooms only have showers," he said. After she'd left he said to me in French, "She has the best room in the hotel."

I have only had one bath in the last 60 years.

No, I don't stink. I shower almost daily and sometimes twice depending.

I adore passionately a shower with hot water streaming down my back, lathering myself with whatever body wash smells wonderful.

My ex-boss and I used to often start conversations with "While I was in the shower..." Both of us used to get ideas during our morning showers. I have always started my writing day while showering sometimes concentrating so long, that my skin pukered.

After seeing a program with someone relaxing in a bath about 15 year ago, I thought I would try. It looked wonderful.

I filled the tub with water and bubbles, lit blue candles to match the tile, put Enya on the CD-player.

This should be wonderful I thought, after a tiring day.

I stepped in.

The heat was warming after being outside in the a cold winter air.

I sank into the water with only my head above the bubbles.

Enya's voice drifted from the other room.

The candles flickered.

I shut my eyes thinking I would relax maybe plan the night's writing.


What I thought was -- I am sitting in my own body dirt. Juices from inside, perhaps a rear end wiped only 99% clean despite best efforts is bringing things I don't want onto the rest of me. Never mind sweat nor the smell of garlic that I cut up when I was cooking and was still on my hands despite washing. Who knows what other bacteria might be swirling around in the water instead of being washed away.


I felt dirty. I jumped up and turned on the shower as the bubbles slipped down the drain.

The water drowned out Enya as I planned what I would write after I dried off.

400 years

"Let's stop in La Rochelle," my husband said. We were about to leave Caen, Normandy and were headed for Argelès-sur-mer for the summer.

I agreed. 

I'd wanted to see the place where sometime in the early 1600s my ancestor Michel BOUDROT/(later changed to BOUDREAU) had left for Nova Scotia although it was known as New France in that period.

I did not expect it to look the same, but he did leave from the Vieux Port where these photos were taken. He must have left in a ship that looked much like the one above and the castle like structures in the background were probably there.
I was told that I could find more information in the library or the Maritime Museum that my husband had already sussed out. Our time, however, was limited.

I doubt that he had any idea that centuries later part of his DNA would be strolling around the same area. Of course, he wouldn't have known about DNA.

What his life would have been prior to making the decision to spend three months on the dangerous seas, I have no idea. The Maritime Musée had a drawing of people working with fish, certainly a logical profession for any village on the sea.

What was his educational level?

Did he know about the history of the region? 

Did he know that the Romans had occupied the area and in the 12th century it had become a major port?

With major conversions to Calvin's Protestantism, the city became known as the Geneva of the West.

Was my ancestor a convert or did he stay Catholic? 

Under Henri IV the Calvinists flourished but religious battles raged in the early 1600s when Michel BOUDROT would have been growing up.

Did he see people dressed as in the photo and costume displayed in the museum or maybe would he have worn this type of clothing himself?

A search on the internet brought forth this information. A Michel (1) BODROT/BOUDREAU was born about 1600 in Cougnes, Diocese de Larochelle, France. He died between sometime between 1688 and 1693 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia.

Is this my ancestor, who became a Lieutenant General in the new world?

This Michel BOUDROT/BOUDREAU was married to Michelle AUCOIN in about 1641 in Cougnes which meant that he would still have been in France during the siege of the city by Cardinal Richelieu. 

If he were Protestant would he have been expelled with 300 other Protestants in 1661? That doesn't seem likely since so many Boudreaus were Catholic down to my father's generation.

And was there another Michel and this wasn't my ancestor at all.

At one time our complete family history was on-line from Michel up to my father's two marriages and my brother and myself. I printed it out but lost the papers in a move. All my cousins were listed and with the correct parentage.

Someday I would like to go back, look at the church records in Cougnes, explore the library.  

Too much time has passed for a diary or papers to be found that would reveal what my ancestor did, how he lived and how he felt.

Instead I may have to be content to trod in the same place he once did.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Touching history

My husband Rick, is touching a stone at the Abbaye aux Hommes in Caen France. It went under construction in 1067,  a project of William the Conqueror or Guillaume le Bâtard in 1067 in penance for marrying his cousin Mathilde. She built the Abbaye aux Dames for the same reason.

William/Guillaume is buried in the Abbaye aux Hommes, or at least his femur is.

In one way looking at this tomb is a bit like a personal introduction. To be near someone who changed the course of English history, someone I've read about off and on over the years, is exciting. 

It is one way of almost touching history.

But there is another aspect. William/Guillaume's life may be well known but what about the stone cutter who shaped the stone that Rick is touching? What about the mason who placed the stone on top of another?
  • What were their lives like? 
  • What did they wear? 
  • What did they eat? 
  • Were they married?
  • Did they have children?
  • How many?
  • What did they do in their free time?
Building a cathedral takes decades if not centuries so the stone workers, cutters, carvers or masons had a job security.

We will never know about these men. But for one minute, Rick's hand was on the stone that someone had touched centuries before, truly touching history.