Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I survived summer

Even if it is still hot, there is a smell of autumn in the morning air.

Here in Argelès-sur-mer we will never see the red and yellow colored leaves of New England or the yellow leaves of the Alps here but there are other symbols of the changing of the seasons.
Family by family, people are heading home to the UK, Ireland, Northern France, Germany, Holland, Denmark. 

Children are wearing backpacks as they start school. 

The streets of the marché are no longer back-to-back people.

The tourists who are arriving are older or have non-school age children.

Tuesday was the last street dance of the season.

We too will head out for some of the autumn--home to Geneva, but we also have trips planned for Boston, Montreal, Up State NY, Long Island, Paris, Strasbourg, Berlin, Prague and maybe Vienna.

Autumn is my favorite season. I love that I may need to grab a light sweater when I go out in the evening. I'm dreaming of heavier clothes, hot chocolate, Geneva Writer Group workshops,
seeing my Swiss friends.

I survived summer.

Beetle blessings

Our bathroom beetle met his end the other night "accidentally" under Rick foot.

I will miss him scuttling into hiding. Were he a cockroach, his demise would have been under my foot and not accidentally or "accidentally." Cockroaches bring too many friends.

Reading up on beetles many are revered in other cultures. Some are kept as pets. Here's some of the qualities and symbols of beetledom in different cultures.
  • Time
  • Strength
  • Structure
  • Creativity
  • Recycling
  • Cleanliness
  • Adaptation
  • Community
  • Uniqueness
  • Metamorphosis
  • Transformation
  • Resourcefulness
Sadly our bathroom beetle cannot represent any of these things anymore.

Maybe I should have named our beetle Franz Kafka.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Poetic death

Once again the Francophone media has waxed lyrical about the death of a celebrity. Marilyn Monroe didn't die, she went to join her beloved Arthur. Lions ceased their roar when a well known lion tamer died. And so on.

The latest poetic death is Sonia Rykiel.

She has gone to design clothes for the angels.

I hope they like their new styles and their wings do not create too much of a design problem.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A typical market day meeting with friends at Coté Place for coffee, tea, juice or whatever and much conversation as the marché buzzed around us.

One of the regular group had just come back from the UK where she had stayed with others whom she knows because they have second homes here. It was much like Rick and I did recently with a couple we adore and they are now ensconced in our nest, there own home having an overflow of people.

We talked about how Argelès was different in the summer with the tourists than in the winter but it had its own magic all year round.

Magic is the right word. People arrive tired and spent and the quick turn around time to relaxation is seen on their faces. 

We are from several countries.

Friends gather and share with those that live here all year round. There is an undertone of caring and support for the bad times and a joyful acceptance of the good.

We know each other's children and cares. We try and help one another if not in person at least in moral support. 

My personal experience thru my recent cancer challenges (over hopefully) was I had a cheering team from this group.

In a way the relationships are like the spider web on the wall behind the table where we were sitting. Unlike the spider web, the network keeps growing.

They are delicate and beautiful friendships, but more lasting than the spider spins because we build them that way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


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Back in my pre-menopause days, I never suffered any pain. What did happen a couple of days before was overwhelming energy. I would use the energy for mega projects. In fact I kept lists for things to do during those periods.

This morning, I woke up with a similar attack of domesticity. I woke early. Before lunch I had...
  • Cleaned the fridge
  • Ironed (yes I iron normally because I prefer the feel of the clothes)
  • Mended clothes
  • Made raspberry muffins (recipe below*)
  • Delivered muffins to friends
  • Misc. cleaning chores
Hopefully the attack will pass and not happen in the near future.

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup minimum fresh raspberries

Sift dry ingredients including sugar. Beat eggs, milk and add oil and add to dry ingredients. Fill greased muffin tins or paper muffin cups and bake at 350/190° for about 20 mins. 


Monday, August 22, 2016


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Dum, da, di, dum, da, di, dum, di, dum, di dum. 

I'm humming the proper funeral dirge as I carry my loyal food processor which helped me for over 13 years, chop, mix, slice food. Mashed potatoes, soups, meatloaves, puddings, meals too numerous to list passed under its blades in part or in whole. It was always my most valuable kitchen tool.

Today I killed it.

I was making a vegetable curry and I swear I don't know how a small spoon slipped in with the yogurt, mint and cucumber chunks that would accompany the main dish.

The death knell was loud and heart breaking.

I'm carrying it in full pomp and circumstance to its next to final resting place. It will wait there until our next trip to the decheterie where it will join other appliances for whatever eternity and rebirth awaits.

I am sure the authorities will consider it involuntary appliance slaughter.

Dum, da, di, dum, da, di, dum, di, dum, di dum.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Found in translation

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Last night we walked the 135 steps to the movie theatre. It would have been 70 had we used the front door.

The movie was L'aigle et l'enfant, almost a documentary of a young boy in the Austrian Alps trying to save a young eagle, deal with a suffering father and being encouraged by a helpful ranger (Jean Reno). The scenery was breath taking, the plot touching.
It reminded me of a film I saw many years ago, L'Enfant et le renard, only with a girl and the Jura mountains, equally beautiful.

As soon as I was home I looked up the film on and they said it was in English and narrated by Jean Reno.

Hmmm -- sure sounded like French to me and there was conversation more than narration.

Then I realized. In the Anglo world the title had been translated to Brothers in the Wind.

Changes in titles from country to county is nothing new for me. 
The first time it happened was in the 80s. Llara was living in Germany and raved about a film Out of Rosenheim. "You have to find it Mutti," she said phoning me in Boston from Munich.

A few months later, I saw Baghdad Café and told her in another overseas call (expensive then) that she had to see it.

As we discussed the obese German woman in a dessert town that changed both her as she changed the ambience of the place and those that lived in it, we discovered it was the same film.

A few years later and living in Geneva, Switzerland, I loved a new medical TV show, Urgence, about an American hospital emergency room. Appreciated one of the handsome actors, too.

Only after about six months, when I was reading about new hit American TV shows, did I realize that Urgence and ER were the same program. Even in reruns I think of it as Urgence not ER.

In other words, a lot has been found in translation.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Art clothes

 I admit it!

I'm prejudice of the work of Eva Rödseth, a renown Swedish artist living in Argelès-sur-mer, France.

I am lucky enough to have one of her works on my wall.
When she told me she was going into a new phase where her art work would appear on clothing, I could hardly wait to see some of the first examples. I haven't been disappointed.

There is also a beautiful scarf that I have my eye on (hint, hint, hint Rick-Christmas is coming. Maybe a Christmas gift or two as well.)
The idea of wearing the work of an artist rather than corporate clothing thrills me.

Now, I'm guilty of encouraging others to look into her work as well both at the store where you could buy an item or read about the artist herself at

Thursday, August 18, 2016


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The Burkini being forbidden on some French beaches is the latest stupid religious brouhaha.

Women's clothing has been and can be used as a wedge issue. It wasn't that long ago in human history that this was the only acceptable woman's swimming costume on a beach.

And although I don't like the dress limitations for women in public, it is not my religion.

If men can't control themselves if a bit of a woman shows, than it is the man's problem, but that is a western feminist point of view. I have no right to dictate what my sisters believe. Although it is many years since I've received unwanted wolf whistles or sexual comments while walking down the street, the protection of being hidden does have an advantage.

And except for full face covering for security issues it seems to be the Muslim coverings aren't that different from Catholic nuns a few years back.

I am much concerned about the refugees made homeless by the manipulation of the western world against the Middle East. I care more about those who tomorrow, next week, or next month will be killed by a western drone.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016


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"You have to see this,"  I said to Rick, waking him up. It was 3 in the morning and he needed his sleep for his golf game in the morning.

The neighbor's cat yawned at us from "her bed" on my mother-in-law's beautiful, handmade quilt. I could almost hear her say, "Put out the light, I need my beauty sleep."

She's been a regular visitor since we returned from Geneva. She had been locked in when our friend had watered the plants and didn't realize the cat was there. When we opened our door, she greeted us and was in no hurry to leave.

The door to the snore room has an iron gate to keep out thieves, but a narrow passage way for skinny cats.

At least daily she decides to visit. She has a home with a cat door to come and go as she wishes chez elle.

"Let's go out baby," Rick says each time as he leads her to the door. She goes. He stays.

I decided to get into the same bed and read myself back to sleep.

This annoyed her and she left, but she was back the next morning, did her inspection of the flat, flopped on the rug in front of the patio door for a caress and then left the same way she came.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Keeping it

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"You need a new basket," Daniel told me. I was at the green grocers. His mother Elisabeth said the same thing a couple of days before. Alain, our neighbor, pointed at the same frayed handle when I had my basket full of carrots, salad, asparagus, cheeses, etc.

Yes the handle is frayed but it is still strong enough to hold all my shopping, the laundry, books, or whatever needs to be carried.

I can't remember when I bought it -- maybe eight to ten years at a marchè for 10 euros. Since then it has been with me on all my errands. 

It has memories.

I love its color. 

It makes me happy to carry it.

I wouldn't turn in an old dog that still had life in it for a new puppy. And I don't give up my basket until it is no longer usable.

Goodie dessert

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My mother, Dorothy Sargent Boureau, wrote a cookbook, Stove Stories. She believed that food and family histories went together.


And melt in your mouth, they do. A recipe from Betty of Nebraska and chicken-fried steak fame. Her daughters insists on these of the holidays and gets them too.
  • 1 cup (2sticks) butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Powdered sugar for coating
Melt butter in small pan.

Remove from heat. 

Stir in 1/4 cup powdered sugar, water and vanilla. 

Gradually blend in flour, then pecans to make pastry-like dough. 

Pinch off dough a teaspoon at a time. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. 

Bake in slow oven 300° for 20 minutes of until delicately golden. 

Remove from cookie sheet, dust with powdered sugar while warm

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tight rope

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We'd finished our picnic and PB said he needed to find two trees.

The lake is surrounded by trees and ducks. We walked and walked with PB leading the way. I trusted him.
He and J started hugging and wrapping a tree with a cord. They stuck towels in between the bark and the cord for protection.

Then it became clear.

I was a sure I couldn't do it, but as the song says with a little help from my friends...I did.

I am writing to Knie circus. Maybe they have a position for an aging tight rope walker.

Or not.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


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recipes, writing, TCKs, and whatever hits my fancy.

"I don't know her," Rick said when our doorbell ran. He was still in his night clothes, so I answered.

"Forgive me for  bothering you," the woman said. "What nationality is that flag?"

She was referring to the Geneva Canton flag, a gift from our Swiss landlady to remember Geneva whenever we were away. Rick had hung it and the Catalan flag a couple of days before.
"Geneva," I said.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm Swiss, I live there when I'm not here."

"I was born in Geneva, but I don't remember it."

We chatted a bit longer about Switzerland.

Later, this morning walking back from buying stuff for our picnic today, we saw another woman staring at the flags than at the names on the mailbox as if that would give her a clue. I told her it was the flag from Geneva.

The story behind the Catalan flag is that back in the middle ages it was just yellow. A count was killed and his son avenged his death. The son dipped his hand into the blood of his father's killer and put four streaks of blood onto the flag. I have no idea if it is true or something made up by the tourist office.

Our idea was to fly the two flags whenever we were in residence, much like Queen Elizabeth does when she's at Buckingham, Windsor or Balmoral Palaces.

I never thought it would give us a chance to meet more of our neighbors.

Friday, August 12, 2016

3 in a bed

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from a writer living in Europe.

Ashley slept with Rick and I last night.

No, she's not a dog or cat.

No, it was not a ménage-à-trois.

Ashley is the third protagonist in the new novel, Daycare, that I am working on. Even though the temperature was perfect for sleeping and Rick wasn't snoring, sleep evaded me as Ashley made more and more demands on my mind.

She is older than the other three, a widow, a lawyer practicing family law. During her time in our bed, she went from being a blond to a brunette. Her hair grew, but not too long. Her involvement in helping battered women became an issue that she made sure she wanted

Rick shifted in bed as Ashley argued with me about her name. She isn't sure it fits her character, but she didn't come up with any good alternative.

About 6 in the morning, I gave up trying to sleep. Better to get on to the computer.

Shopping basket

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"Your skirt matches your shopping basket," my favorite Mamie* said as I was talking to another friend.

She is never without her apron and fashion is no where in her vocabulary. At the same time she has the soul of an artist as a knitter, writer and singer.

I hadn't thought about the match when I'd dressed that morning. I was more interested on what the green grocer had to offer.

Just a few minutes before Elisabeth told me I needed a new basket as she put the tomatoes, melon and onions I'd bought into the basket.

The handle is unraveling, on that she is right. But it is still strong enough to hold the fresh veggies and fruit that I put in daily.

The basket must be at least ten years old and has held uncountable number of meals. With all those memories, and this new one of color co-ordination, I will keep it until it is no longer usable but I won't necessarily match my clothing to it.

* of the old women of the village, most who have a wisdom and spirit that is inspiring.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

2 or 3

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Living in both Southern France and Switzerland brings up a mini cross-culture problem. 

How many cheek kisses in each country...

In Switzerland its three.

In our village in SouternFrance it is two.

But what do we do with our Swiss neighbors when they are in France?

There's also the transition where I go to do the third kiss in France or stop too soon in Switzerland. Either way I am puckered too long or depuckered too soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


 Thank you for visiting. Please come again to read a cornucopia of topics, from life in Europe, FATCA, TCKs, writing,  recipes, politics and whatever else has hit my interest at the moment. If you've time, please visit my website which features my 11 novels. And sign up to be notified of new blogs by checking the top right of this blog. Wishing you a wonderful day.

Our most important anniversary is today.

We have many:
  • When we met in 1978 at the Lake of the Ozark. Thank you Mike for running that conference.
  • The day we reconnected in May 2012
  • August 10th where before 40 friends from 7 countries we pledged our love for life.
  • May 17, 2015 in Corsier, Switzerland where we legally married at the Marie
For me, the real date was and is August 10th. It was there I fully committed myself to him.

My Pledge
Rick …
I cannot give you my heart today for you already have it. 

You came back into my life when it was full and you made it even fuller.

I know you’ve made tremendous changes so we can blend out lives and 
every day in every way I promise that I will make you glad you did.

I want to encourage you in your great strengths: your kindness, 
your lovingness, your creativity, your warmth.

I will be there for you when dark clouds cross our horizons and 
together we will find the sun even on the blackest days.

I loved you, I love you, I will love you.

Rick's Pledge
Donna-Lane ...

You are my soul mate, my life partner. I believe have loved you from the day I met you. 

We have been given a unique second chance to be together. And I intend to devote the rest of my life to making you happy.

You did not need me in your life. You have an abundance of people who love you, and whom you love.

You have welcomed me into that very special circle and I will do everything I can to be worthy of your trust.

I want to bring you joy and laughter.

I want brush away tears, to comfort you in sorrow. I promise to support you in your aspirations, challenge you to be the person you want to be, and to honor and respect your individuality with my whole heart and soul.

Je t’aime ma chérie, je t’aime.

We have had mental challenges, as he calls them, tests as I call them: FATCA/Banking, residency and health issues among the joys of sunrises on the beach and investigating the world from many countries or just cuddling while watching a DVD.

 If possible, I love him even more today than that day.  We've been tested. We passed.

Happy Anniversary mon cher.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Ask now

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In searching family histories we can find names as well as birth, marriage and death dates. We learn the names of children for future research.

What we can't find out is the daily events both ordinary and major of their lives.

Once I tried to get my Aunt Evelyn, for whom the name Drama Queen had to be coined, about the Boudreaus. At 80+ she was a great story teller but not willing to try a new fangled tape recorder.

Thus I will never know:
  • Why she and Aunt Bert were still fighting abut Aunt Bert's prom dress
  • Why the family moved from Arashat, Nova Scotia to Medford, MA
  • What it was like being an immigrant
  • How hard was it to learn English
  • More about Aunt Lillie's affair with her boss
Going much more deeper into history I would love to discover why Michel Boudrot left La Rochelle in the 1740s to sail to Nova Scotia and: 
  • What was the name of the ship?
  • What was the crossing like?
  • What was it like to live where Calvinism was at odds with Catholicism?
  • Were the Calvinist responsible?
  • What was life like when he first arrived?
  • Where did he live?
  • How did he become a general?
  • What did they eat?
  • What was it like to have so many children?
And on my mother's side I wish I'd asked my grandmother why her father Charles Archer Stockbridge left her mother Medora Young Stockbridge. What were my grandmother's grandparents like.

I had ancestors that fought in the American Revolution. Why? How long? What did it feel like to come home after the war? What did the new country feel like.

I wish I knew where my cousins Joanie and Cynthia were.

That is just the start.

As a kid I tuned out older relatives when they talked about the past. It seemed boring. As an adult, I see  hundreds of stories.

Moral: Ask your living relatives today.

Monday, August 08, 2016

I'm tired

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My friends say I'm the most optimistic, happy person they know. In many ways, they're right. I can find joy in the simplest things.

But I'm tired. I'm of the world. I'm tired of:
  • The election with candidates I describe as Mr. Arsenic (crazy) and Ms Cyanide (corrupt)
  • The pundits talking opposite "facts"
  • The media slanting news (also in UK, France, etc.)
  • Fracking where new fields are being proposed although it is impossible for them to be profitable at current prices
  • People pushing growth which in the long term is unsustainable
  • Religion used as an excuse to hate and destroy
  • Ignorance
  • FATCA and the persecution of American expats directly and indirectly by the US
  • US drones killing people in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Africa
  • Saudi killing people in Yemen with US drones
  • Bad cops getting away with murder
  • Good cops being maligned
  • Soldiers being lied to on how they are saving their country
  • Veterans who served their country in good faith being mistreated
  • GMOs
  • Poisons in the food and environment
  • Too expensive education making it impossible for kids to either go to university or saddling with debt that reduces teir future
  • Big gas guzzling cars
  • Phony issues such as the color of a Starbucks cup
  • Palestine's occupation
  • All wars
  • Money for death and destruction but not for people 
And the list goes on and on and on...

When I look at it, all the things I am tired of, all are thrust on me by the societies (yes it is plural) I live in. Macro things

On FB I list the things that make me happy and I realize that the things that make me happy are personal generated from friends and people who do sweet, funny, good things. I am made happy by creativity and generosity. Good food, Micro things.

I will continue to concentrate on the micro. I can do little about the macro. I don't want to be tired.

Saturday, August 06, 2016


Thank you for visiting. Please come again to read a cornucopia of topics, from life in Europe, FATCA, TCKs, writing,  recipes, politics and whatever else has hit my interest at the moment. If you've time, please visit my website which features my 11 novels. And sign up to be notified of new blogs by checking the top right of this blog. Wishing you a wonderful day.

My husband has more than one face, but that does not mean he's two-faced. He's not.

When he is writing, his face literally changes. He doesn't turn into George Clooney or Shrek or anything like that. He stays his handsome self, but his concentration is such that barely a muscle moves sealing his face in a single pose. 

Oh, do I wish I could concentrate like that.

Nothing I say really penetrates when he writes. If I were bitchy and if we didn't have a no pussyfooting rule, I might claim he agreed to something I wanted and wasn't sure that he would. When he would say, "I don't remember," I could say, "oh yes, you did when you were writing the article for ..."

I also can often tell his mood by his face (and a bit by his body language).

I think I read other faces fairly really well. When a neighbor whose wife was in the hospital told me he wasn't really worried, his face said me not only was he worried, he was terrified. He was never a person to show emotion, but a couple of years later he admitted how frightened he'd been.

Another husband, whose wife had an almost day-and-night-long operation, was the center of attention, looked sad. I guessed correctly that he felt left out. He didn't mind his wife being the center of attention at all, but he had lived thru his own personal hell while waiting for news during those waiting hours. I went over to him and we quietly talked about his emotions.

Some faces are easy.
  • A little girl at the street dance radiated joy as she twirled to the music.
  • People who smile with their mouths but that smile never reaches their eyes, tells me that the smile is fake.
  • A person at a party listening and trying to care about the conversation.
  • The words "I'm fine" when the tension in the cheeks says the opposite.
  • A look left and down before meeting my eyes makes me doubt the truth-
  • etc.
As a person who believes actions yell, where words whisper or disappear into non-reality, faces give me a tool to better communicate with the world.

Friends, who read this, please don't wear a mask next time we meet even a pretty one.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Woman talk

Okay I'm a long-time feminist, but that does not mean I'm anti-male.

I do find that if I meet ten women, I will be able to form some kind of friendship bond with nine. With ten men it will be maybe one or two but that bond will be as deep or deeper than the female ones.

The last two days I've been lucky enough to connect deeply with three women (four if you consider Cordelia, the dog).

Yesterday it was a luncheon with a fellow writer (and Cordelia) and my former housemate at a tea and lunch room.

Rick later asked what we talked about for almost three hours.
  • Friendship
  • Marriage
  • Creativity
  • Writing
  • Human nature
  • Trust
  • Honesty
The discussion covered theory and personal. What was left unspoken was the warmth, the openness and the complete trust we had in our confidences.

The second was this morning. My former neighbor from Syria, now a doctor in Paris, and her husband are visiting. We slipped away to the village tea room to catch up not on just our lives, but those of friends and family whom we've shared with one another over the years. We consider each other family of choice. Our originally, our apartments shared a wall where we would tap out messages a symbol of all the other things we shared, a list far too long for a blog.

The walk back to the house with the view of clouds, mountains, lake and vineyards might also be a symbol for the richness of our friendship.

Blessed are women friends.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Junk food

My husband had a twinkle in his eye. "One good thing about junk food..." he started.

I had just told him I had figured out the difference in OUR food bill and MY food bill.

I always had a set amount I would spend making sure what meals I would be eating at home. I would buy maybe one box or cookies or one of some treat. Part of the reason was budget and part was if it were in the house it would end up first in my mouth and then on my waist. Each day I could look forward to bit of a treat.

Also I wanted to make sure that everything I bought had a good vitamin and mineral balance.

He, and we when I am with him, wanders up and down the aisles throwing stuff in that hits his fancy. even today if I go in with a list of three things I come out with three. With the same list it could be ten, twenty or more if he is in charge of the cart.

I do enjoy the ice cream, chips etc. As for chocolate, that is salad because it comes from a plant. The magnesium in chocolate is good for you.

We'd also been talking about waste and using up what we bought. In ASM we shop almost daily because the best fruits and veggies are within a few seconds walk. I also like the idea of preparing two meals. It worked well when I was single.
  • Monday Meal A
  • Tuesday Meal B
  • Wednesday Meal A leftovers
  • Thursday Meal B leftovers
Since Rick and I alternate on the days we cook and since we often end up being invited out or making a last minute decision to eat out, it doesn't work as well as a couple.

I will say that this summer I've been better about finding uses for leftovers.As I was saying I wanted to be more careful on what we spent financially and health wise and what we used, his eyes continued to twinkle.

"One good thing about junk food..." he continued, "It doesn't spoil."

I love that man. As the Irish say, he can take the mickey out of me and it leaves me laughing.