Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two women

You know those mother-in-law jokes????

They can be a lie.

I have had not one but two wonderful mothers-in-law.

Grams was a pleasure to be with. A hard worker, no-nonsense person who never interfered. The only tension we ever had was one morning when I was living with her and waiting for my first husband, her son, to return from Germany.

She was upset to find my clothes on the front stairs. A picture of me undressing outside late at night was not welcomed, until her nose confirmed my story that while visiting my grandmother my German Shepherd Kimm, had an encounter with a skunk. By the time Kimm was deodorized my clothing was totally saturated with the smell.

When my marriage disintegrated I broke away from his family.  He needed their support. I had little contact with him either and his child visitations were thru the baby sitter.

Then when my daughter was two and in the hospital, I had to call Grams to tell my ex. Her first words to me, "You are still my daughter." From then on we continued to have visits and cheered me on both for my child raising and the way I was living my life.

Although I had no intention of remarrying I had even less expectation of finding a second wonderful mother-in-law.

I was wrong on both counts.

When my new husband and I traveled to New York from Europe on a voyage to visit each other's childhoods, her first word to me was "Bonjour" said with a twinkle in her eyes.

I discovered a woman in her 90s, warm with a great sense of humor, and totally accepting of me.

She had raised five rambunctious boys, four her own. According to stories my husband told me, she levied the right level of strictness combined with enough leniency for them to develop as individuals.
And although not a helicopter parent by any means of the word, woe to the person who hurt her offsprings if her interference was needed.

She is an artist in cloth and I am the proud owner of three of her quilts, each a treasure for their beauty and knowing that each stitch is perfect.

Geography does not allow for drop-in visits but phone calls and letter build a new relationship.

So keep your mother-in-law jokes and I will keep my mothers-in law in my heart.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Capers and me

I had my first caper the day after I bought my nest. The aunt of my French friend who had helped me buy the studio made a very tasty salmon and caper pizza. 

Lovely woman, but she did ask my friend if it was American table manners to keep one's hand in their lap. I had followed French table manners and used a fork and knife on the pizza.

I was hooked but didn't get a chance to eat them that much until I moved to Europe in 1990. 

Jars of tiny capers are easily available, but J, with whom I shared a house for 11 years, often had the giant capers for our celebrations or even our DVD nights. They are extra good.

I had found some tiny ones for a meal I made the other day. But not the big ones.

Then on Facebook someone had posted a photo of a meal that a friend had made and there were BIG CAPERS on one of the dishes. We messaged. She had bought them on one of her forays into Spain. Okay, I thought next time I go down to Spain.

Then when we had our regular marché meetup, the same friend who cooked with the big capers was there. Out of her bag of goodies she produced a small container with a red top and insider were...

Trumpets and drum rolls...


They were lucky to survive to have their picture taken.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dolly Birds and history

When I moved to Switzerland in 1990 to take up a long-searched-for job in Europe, my first stop was the UK branch.

I was met at the airport by the UK manager, a chain-smoking ex-air force colonel, who getting up to meet a 5 a.m. plane did nothing to improve his disposition.

His opinion of the women on the staff was that they were all "dolly birds" too into make-up and men without a surplus of brains, if I translate the Brit English to American English correctly.

Well the two "dolly birds" in the Swiss office were pretty, young women, who liked clothes, make-up and men, but they were also incredibly good saleswomen and smart, smart, smart.

I was a good twenty years older than they were and despite his tough exterior, he was too polite to call me a dolly bird although I too liked make-up, men and clothes.

What made me worse than any dolly bird in his eyes was that I was an American and his opinion of my countrymen and women were they were all ignoramuses. About the only good thing that ever came out of the States, in his opinion, was the television show Mash.

I would need his help in my first assignment to set up a booth for a trade fair and in the beginning he did sabotage me.

What turned him around?

My love of English history.

I named all the kings and queens going back to William the Conqueror in order and some of the things of each reign. (Don't ask me to do it now--I've forgotten).

For subsequent trips, he made sure to book me into historic places, told me historic stories about local individuals, introduced me to his wife (a lovely woman, who deserves a halo for staying married to him) and made sure we went to typical English restaurants that tourists (read dumb Americans) would never discover.

I doubt if he ever changed his opinion of dolly birds or Americans in general. But he did accept that one aging dolly bird had a brain.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Peanut butter cookies

My daughter loves to bake. I never discouraged her.

My former housemate J, loves to bake. I never discouraged her either and luxuriated in the wonderful smells coming up the stairs.

In both cases eating their products was the best part of their passion.

I do bake, but not with much passion. Christmas cookies, yes, teaching my young neighbor how to make brownies (J. could have done it better). I use to make an annual apple pie for my late neighbor with a family bird cookie cutter, going back several generations, decorating the pie. And I made a pumpkin pie for our Swedish friends who were curious. It was a success.

I thought I'd make peanut butter cookies to welcome Rick home from his business trip.

My oven is strange. The temperature seemed to vary. What was on the dial was different from the thermometer. At one point the temperature went up and up producing burned cookies without me touching it. I like well done cookies, however, this was OTT.

I did succeed in getting enough for Rick when he comes. And the well done ones, I will eat. As for
 the batch that turned black? They can be saved and used for charcoal  in our BBQ.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Looking at money...

Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt, two women I greatly admire, will appear on American bills.

How wonderful that the US money will no longer be ruled by white men, no matter how worthy and worthy and politician can be but isn't always an oxymoron.

But wouldn't it be wonderful if we also celebrated the arts with our bills.

I always loved the 50 Franc note before the Euro was born. Le Petit Prince, the wise little boy immortalized by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who appears on the other side of the bill. When they were no longer in circulation, I kept one for its beauty and my love of the little prince.

And then in Switzerland, there are sculptures by Alberto Giacometti with his portrait on the other side. Switzerland is once again redesigning its money to make the bills safer. When this 100 CHF bill goes out of circulation, although it is beautiful, it is more money than I prefer to frame.

Money can reflect the soul of a nation. Arts reflect the soul as well. Maybe the next move will be to put artists and writers on American bills.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A different earth day

It was Earth Day 1990.

I picked up my mother's ashes then picked up my friend, who was waiting on the front steps of her Boston townhouse. Like me, she was dressed in jeans and sneakers.

"I tried to find out from Emily Post what to wear on an illegal ash scattering of a woman I didn't like. I couldn't find anything."

My mother had often been my enemy. Besides trying to have my marriage annulled and reporting me to child welfare for abusing my daughter (I hadn't and was exonerated thanks to my daughter's teachers, father and many others).

Still I had been my mother's caretaker during her final cancer having returned from Europe to do so. More for me knowing I needed to put certain things to rest or face years of psychiatry than daughterly devotion.

I did find a solution -- that there was no solution, we were too far apart but trying brought me a peace that might otherwise have escaped me. Still it took about ten years for good memories to sneak in.

The weather was beautiful as only a New England spring can be when it makes up its mind.

I had my two Japanese chins, Albert and Amadeus, with us. We stopped at McDonald's dividing a big Mac between "the boys" as well eating our own.

My brother met me near the forest where my mother wanted as her final resting place. Although it was against the law, we would honor her wishes. Certainly she was sanitary after the high heat that reduced her body.

We tramped thru the woods. My brother almost forgot to hold a branch and remembered to grab it just before it hit me.

I saw a lady slipper, illegal to pick, but my grandfather would pick one for my grandmother every spring. He would pick it on his own property. Maybe lawlessness ran in the family.

We found a spot that we thought would work. We remembered what the funeral director said about wind direction and not wanting to wear her ashes.

We opened the cardboard box.

My mother looked like kitty litter.

Some of the smaller pieces were caught by the wind. As I watched them swirl, I thought of all the power I had given her, the fear I had to stand up to her and I had given it to ashes. Maybe if I had been sronger, the relationship would have been different.

Maybe not.

We didn't say any prayers. She had had a memorial service and none of us were really religious.

We were silent as we walked back to our cars.

From that day on anyone who gives me problems I picture them as kitty litter blowing in the wind.

It was a final gift from a rocky relationship.


As beautiful as the French language is, I have not found a word that encompasses the semantic meaning of home.

A la maison always seems simply a report on one's location and chez moi at my place (rough translations)just doesn't do it.

Home, for me, is as much an emotional state as physical. It can be a tiny house or a mansion.

For me it means where I feel safe. Where I can be totally myself.

Where there is room to laugh, cry, be silly, have good food, have a sense of peace and thousands of other positive words.

Whether I live alone or with someone, doesn't change the feeling unless my co-inhabitor disturbs my sense of well being. That doesn't mean there isn't room for difference of opinion, but they are handled with the idea of solutions, not manipulation or power games. Co-inhabitors want to maximize what everyone wants within the boundaries that always exist to some degree so we can get on with the good things in life, be it sharing a book, going to a movie or taking a walk.

I prefer my home to be color co-ordinated be it my 18 sq. mt. nest or the two-bedroom flat my husband and I share. 

Home is where I can find an ahhhhhhhhhh feeling no matter how long I am there. I may enjoy going away, but coming back is where the ahhhhhhhhhhhh kicks into being.

For the past week plus my husband has been on a business trip. Although I miss him, I am also enjoying my home alone, a healthy thing, but also healthy for our marriage that as good as it is without him, it is much, much better with him. Today I am preparing to welcome him back because I want him to feel that ahhhhhhhhhhh feeling when he walks thru the door.

Our apartment may be our physical home, but I want our marriage to be an emotional home for both of us. 

I don't even want to try and translate that concept into French.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The language of love

In the 1980s when I was looking for a motivational speaker for a meeting, I ran across the late Leo Buscaglia and not only did he solve my problem for the meeting, he changed my attitude in life. 

Years later I saw him in person at an IABC meeting. Prior to his speaking, everyone was doing the one upmanship of managers who want to impress others. Afterwards, the barriers came down. The spirit changed.

His message then is even more important today.

Love is not just the question but the answer.

We need more people practicing what he proposes.
 There are many videos on youtube. This is just one

Monday, April 18, 2016

More than one way

For the last week I have had an urge for an Italian submarine sandwich like I used to buy when I was a kid and worked for a newspaper in Lawrence. The paper was half way between the paper and Reading where I lived. Many nights on the way home, I stopped for the sub.

Then I realised I could make my own sub.

I bought the cold cuts from the sausage dealer on the marché, cheese and tomatoes from the green grocer and of course bread still warm from the oven at the boulangerie. I already had the pickles.

I try and eat healthily. I try and eat at least five veggies and fruits a day and over the course of a week I want to make sure I sample all vitamins and minerals that exist. Not hard, I love veggies, fruits and grains.

For years I was a cocalcoholic guzzling down at least 2 liters a day. I gave it and dropped 25 pounds. 

My husband likes Coke Zero and although I can resist it, I have been known to take a zip from his glass. He also eats other junk which I prefer to stay away from.

However, this substitute sub called, no make that screamed for, chips/crisps for my Brit friends, and a Coke. 

Rick had left a few chips/crisps and a bottle of Zero in the Frigo before leaving for TX/FL.

I cracked.

Only I couldn't open the bottle. At the best of times my hands have not been strong, but chemo has left the fingers numb.

I struggled and struggled. I thought I had an opener/nutcracker but couldn't locate it. It must be hiding with mortar and pestle, I thought, which I haven't been able to locate.

Finally I gave up, grabbed the bottle and headed for the tea room La Noisette down the street to ask them to open it. Since it is my home away from home, I wasn't shy.

On the way I passed a young couple. I explained my problem. The girl opened the bottle. I will save help from La Noisette for a different time.

Back home, when I looked for the cheese slicer, the bottle open was under it.

The mortar and pestle are still missing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Really old bread

In my recent move I found the recipe for oatmeal bread that has been in our family since the beginning of the 19th century. 

In France, where bread is wonderful, I don't often make bread but this can't be purchased. I did make bread regularly when I lived in Boston. Kneading was a great way to take out frustrations. Even though I have no frustrations I still enjoy the sensation of kneading.

Scald one cup of oats with two cups of boiling water. add 1 teaspoon of shortening. When cool add 1/2 cup of molasses. Add one yeast cake dissolved in luke warm water. Mix well.

 Slowly add 4-5 cups flour.
 Knead the dough on a floured board for at least ten minutes. You will feel the change in its consistency. Make into a ball. Put into a well greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm spot to let rise to double its size.
Punch down and put into a rectangular pan about 3/4's full. Let rise until double. Bake in a pre-heated oven 375°F/190°C for 30-40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap on the middle of the loaf.
We always put some dough aside to fry in a small amount of oil and then eat with maple syrup or honey.

If we were really good, my grandmother would make teddy bears with raisins for eyes.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Colette's mother and my cactus

Over two years ago we bought this cactus arrangement and miracle of miracles it is still alive.

On our return from Geneva, we found an orange flower for the first time.

I was reminded of the story about the French writer Colette's mother, Sido.

She had been invited to visit with her daughter but she wrote that she couldn't. She had a special plant that only bloomed every two years and it was due to bloom during the time of the invitation.

I do not know if Sido visited after the plant bloomed. I do know Colette was inconsiderate of her mother for many years after but I doubt there is a connection.

Still I understand Sido's pleasure at a flower that appears rarely and her not wanting to miss its blooming.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Drinks from Stove Stories

My mother Dorothy Sargent Boudreau was a journalist. After she retired she kept a newspaper column in the Lawrence Daily Eagle called Stove Stories. She believed that food and memories went together.

Later she put the recipes together in a cookbook that she never had published.

All her recipes can be found at


This chapter is not for teetotalers, although even the most conservative may well have an occasion to serve an alcoholic beverage, or two or there. Take a daughter's wedding for example.

Indeed, the beatific beverages are geared to those who like the unusual--just about anyone can make a decent martini, or Manhattan or whiskey sour, can't they?

Almost anyone can make a passing-good Bloody Mary, but the recipe for that drink herein contained, far surpasses any I've ever had. And there have been many imbibers at my brunches who agree and tote the recipe home. So it's not an unusual drink, but one that is superior.

Now about cocktail parties, did you ever think of substituting a really superb Richmond punch and come right out and call it a punch party? The first time I did this, there were 75 people gathered, and it was absolutely the best party we ever had. The guests were given to song backed by a talented guest with a large repertoire at our small electric organ. It was a mellow group that arrived a bit late at the club dance.

Another time, my former husband volunteered me for making this libation for the wedding of a good friend's daughter. My kitchen reeked for fumes, for I made 10 batches--it was a large wedding. The friend rewarded me with a sand wedge, which helped by golf game no end. Fair enough, I thought!

Again, I volunteered to make umpteen batches for our class reunion. We kept looking younger and younger after each trip to the punch bowl! A smashing success, that reunion.

Actually every recipe is worthy of your efforts when the occasion demands. I've just emphasized punch as an attractive alternative to the martini/Manhattan routine.

There are, as you know, hot and cold weather drinks. Can't you see yourself swinging lazily in a hammock on a hot summer day, book in hand, and a frosty pitcher of Sangria at the ready. Or take a snowy, gusty cold winter's night, a blazing fir and a hot buttered rum right next to the backgammon table? That's what I mean by seasonal drinks.

So let's start with a summer drink . . .  Sangria!


If you've been buying bottled Sangria, try this recipe. You'll think you've discovered a new drink. It's
fruitier, zingier and infinitely more refreshing. It's big at barbecues, just to name one place it shines. I'd tell you where it comes from, if I could remember, which I can't.

Combine 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup water in sauce pan and bring to a boil over moderately low heat, stirring and washing down any sugar crystals that cling to the sides of the pan. A brush dipped in cold water is helpful and keep at it until all the sugar is dissolved.

Remove the pan from the heat and add thinly sliced 2 oranges, 1 lemon, 1 lime and 3 cloves. Let the fruit macerate in the syrup for 12 hours.

At your leisure, pour the fruit mixture into a large picture, add 2 bottles of dry red wine and chill for at least four hours.

When ready to serve, stir the mixture well and pour into 8-ounce highball glasses, each partially filled with ice cubes. Be sure there is a slice or two of fruit in each glass. Yields about two quarts.


Maybe this should have gone in the SWEET TOOTH chapter because it's actually a dessert, but then again, is has more scotch whiskey in it than you'd put in a glass on the rocks. I don't even like scotch but consumed this with gusto when it was first served to me. The hostess said it was a contest winner somewhat deservedly so. She also said you could could make it with rum or brandy just as well. And you can!
  • 1/2 cup scotch whiskey, rum or brandy
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup honey
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated
  • Sliced almonds
Beat the heavy cream at high speed until it holds firm peaks. In a second bowl combine the honey with your choice of liquor. Fold this mixture into the whip cream and beat it together on low speed. Blend well. Divide among 8 glasses (sherbet, wine or whiskey sour). Cover and refrigerate several hours at a minimum. When ready to serve, sprinkle with nutmeg and scatter sliced almonds on top. Serves 6 to 8. And a spoon is required.


I love Kahlua. I love Black Russians, which you can't have without Kahlua. But I often balk at the price. My son alternated between calling me "chintzy" and "extravagant" dependent on my mood I'm in, because obviously I can't be both at the same time. "It's all a matter of priorities," I sniff whenever such a discussion occurs. Come be "chintzy" with me . . . it's delicious!
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 12 tsp. instant coffee
  • 2-3 cups vodka ( I use 3)
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
Bring water to boil, add sugar and instant coffee. Mix well and simmer for two hours. When cold, add vodka and vanilla. This can be used immediately (and often is) but the flavor improves with age. I
make two batches at a time -- one for sampling, one for aging!


This is a cold weather punch to warm one's innards. I think it originated in Maine and I could be wrong, but I first had it in Massachusetts and that's for sure. It's grand for the holiday season and perks up Open Houses in the merriest way! I altered the recipe as given to me by increasing the butter and the lemon and orange juice. Otherwise it is the same.

IMPORTANT to choose a metal punch bowl for the hot water could shatter one made of glass. So let's get on . . .

Pour two/fifth black rum into the metal punch bowl, add the juice of one lemon and one orange. Put one pound of honey and one quarter pound of butter in a sauce pan and simmer until the butter is melted. Add to the punch bowl, add one quart of boiling water and mix well. Taste and add more water if desired. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg and serve. You're on your own in devising a way to keep if pleasantly warm. I use Sterno under a stand that holds the punch bowl. Found it in a garage sale. But the better stores will have the proper punch warming equipment.


I've said more than enough about this punch already but one last word--it's really special, smooth as velvet and potent. But you can control the latter by increasing the amount of soda you add. Taste if first before tampering with the recipe tho.
  • 1 qt. strong Oolong tea
  • 1 qt. Jamaican dark rum
  • 1 qt. port wine
  • 1 qt. brandy
  • 1/2 pint orange Curacao or triple sec
  • Juice of 12 medium-size lemons
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
To the tea while it is hot add sugar and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly and strain through a cotton cloth. When cool, add brandy, rum, port, and Curacao. Pour into empty liquor bottles. When ready to serve, pour in punch bowl and add one quarter soda or carbonated water for each quart of punch. Serve in a large bowl with a block of ice. Orange slices stuck with cloves are a nice garnish.


For cold weather and frosty autumn evenings through frigid winter nights. Use this in the Apple Velvet
cocktail (next). Call it double duty cider.

In a heavy sauce pan mix together two quarts apple cider, 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add to this a spice bag containing 1 tsp. each of whole allspice, whole cloves, and a cracked cinnamon stick. Now simmer the mixture for 20 minutes. Remove the spice bag, bottle, cool and refrigerate. Delicious hot of cold or add to Apple Velvet Cocktail.


Combine 1 1/2 oz. of applejack with three oz. of your cold mulled cider, a teaspoon of unbeaten egg white and a generous pinch of nutmeg. Crack and add two ice cubes, shake vigorously and strain into a whiskey sour glass. Serves one. Better make more. You'll be glad you did!


There's a little country inn on the North Shore which doesn't have a liquor license, but which had no
objection to totting your own. In fact, they'll be delighted to serve you the fixings for a Bloody Mary and state so on their menu.

Well, Lillian I, you must remember her by now, love to go there for Sunday brunch.

She's is a marvelous story teller and regales her Boston friends with tales of brunching away while reaching into a paper bag for the bottle of Bloody Marys.

About the Inn. Fish so fresh it stopped only minutes on its way from sea to skillet.

This is the Bloody Mary we especially enjoy!

For each drink, half fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and pour over it 1 jigger of vodka, 2 jiggers tomato juice, 1/3 jigger lemon juice, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of celery salt and salt and pepper to taste. Shake the mixture well and strain into a glass.

This makes only one drink, of course. We make much more for the paper bag brunch!

P.S. I add two drops of Tabasco. Lillian doesn't. She doesn't know I do either.


Dolores, a former co-worker (those were my days in advertising) came bubbling in one day to tell of a delightful party and a delicious punch. Come to think of it, there was much talk about food and recipes in the office. Simplicity itself and totally different from the many of the less inspired punches encountered at parties, This is a lighter potion than many versions and very pretty too.
  • 1 large can of Hawaiian fruit punch (chilled)
  • 1 large can of sweetened pineapple juice
  • Vodka to suit the taste
  • Vanilla ice cream
Assemble all ingredients in a chilled punch bowl, hopefully with an ice ring in which you've embedded a pretty fruit design) and mix well. At the last minute float scoops of vanilla ice cream in the punch,which, by the way, comes out a heavenly pink color, studded with the white ice cream scoops. Allow three four-oz. serving per guest at the very minimum and order your ingredients in quantities so determined. Better plan more because this is delicious. Refrigerate any leftover punch, which is an unlikely eventuality.


Hot buttered rum for cold wintry nights! And this recipe is a winner. More time consuming than many but absolutely superb. Came from some restaurant somewhere, according to Olive, who first introduced me to this extra special version of an old favorite. This is the cup that cheers. And cheers and cheer!

Make a rum butter by creaming together two cups of  soft butter 4 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups honey 1/4 rum extract (I use real room not extract), 2 tbsp. grated nutmeg, 2 tsps. cinnamon, i tsp. ground cloves. You should have approximately 1 quart.

Scald a 10 oz. mug and for each drink stir in 1/4 cup of rum butter and 1/4 cup boiling water until the butter is melted. Now stir in 1 1/2 oz. dark rum and fill the mug with boiling water. Sip and enjoy!

vide grenier

I adore vide greniers (flea markets) which are in plentiful supply in neighboring French villages. They are especially great on a Sunday when the temperature is 22°C and the vide grenier is held along a working port. Blue skies, the sea, boats, what could be more perfect?

One of my goals is to build a picnic basket with everything found at vide greniers
  • baskets
  • dishes
  • cutlery
  • containers
  • table cloth
  • napkins
It will be more than a picnic basket that could be bought any where, but a memory basket first in its acquisition and second for the picnics to be savored.

There are lovely lakes near here and the pine forest near the la plage has tables. I am looking forward to adding local wines, cheeses, olives, fruits, veggies and other delights to the basket.

We saw some almost-possible baskets. However, May 1 Argelès becomes a giant vide grenier. I am sure we will find some of the things we're looking for.

I passed a violin at one of the tables. As a fourth grader I took three lessons and the professor told my mother he was wasting his money.

Over the last few years I've been tempted to try again. 

Putting the instrument under my chin felt good. Stroking the strings...well...the professor who is probably long dead, might be looking down from heaven thinking, "I told her mother she was wasting her money." I might have bought the violin but 150 Euros for something I might never do???? Nope.

Better to see if the music school has teachers and rent an instrument.

We did make one purchase, the magazine rack above for 10 Euros for the Reading Room (aka toilet).

Stopping for a cup of tea and croissant just added to the joy of the day.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Ambulance, helicopters...arghhh

"Don't put this on Facebook," I said to Rick as I was being transferred from the ambulance to the helicopter for a ride to the hospital in Perpignan. He was filming the transfer.

I knew immediately which two of the the 13 medics in attendance spoke English by which ones laughed.

I had not wanted to go to the hospital. Since I was 27 I've had a chronic problem with severe chest pains every few months. Various theories of esophagus spasms or gall bladder problems have not been proven but heart problems have been ruled out with the attacks.

Most people close to me have the here-we-go-again philosophy as I moan in pain. However, the fear that sometime it might be a heart attack makes me want it checked out if and when the attack is severe.

I was happy enough to have the pompiers (fire fighters) say I was okay, but one of them said that the helicopter was landing in the sports stadium.

"Cest une blague?" a joke, I asked.

"Pas de blague."

By this point the attack had passed, but the medics insisted on blood tests and surveillance. Off we went in the ambulance.

At first the medics thought my reluctance was fear of helicopters. Rick, who is about to work at a helicopter conference in the US, assured me that it was a good helicopter.  I've ridden in helicopters lots of times when I worked for Digital. It wasn't fear. I felt the whole procedure was overkill.

No one agreed with me. Thus up we went. I decided to enjoy the trip. I had a beautiful view of the sea, the mountains. I wish Rick could have seen it.

About seven hours at the hospital proved that my heart was strong and any minor lung problems were chemo related and normal for what I'd been thru. However, with Rick going on a business and a family trip to the States, he was reassured about leaving me.

As for the film on Facebook, after I saw it, I decided it was okay.

He has a dueling blog at with video.

Friday, April 08, 2016


Poor Tummy...

He is a Geneva neighbor cat, but every morning as soon as we raise the blinds he is at the door.

We let him in, he jumps up on the bed and makes himself comfortable.

Unfortunately we were leaving and we had returned the bed to couch-status.

We raised the blinds.

He cried at the door.

We let him in.

He literally did a double take when he saw the couch.

He walked over to me and let out a "MEOW!"

Wasn't sure what it meant, but contentment words aren't on the list.

When we go back into residence I wonder if he will have forgiven us. Meanwhile a friend keeps telling us about a stray cat that would like a home.

Thursday, April 07, 2016


My favorite Mamie (one of the old women in the French village where we have our second home) stopped me on the street.

Although I have been in Geneva for he past 10 months being treated for cancer, we stayed in contact with notes and cards.

One of the photos I sent her was when I bought my wig...not the one in the photo, which I had tried on for fun.

"I prayed for you every day," she told me. "I took your photo with me. The one with the old-fashioned wig."

She smiled. "I was praying one day for you and dropped the photo."  She stopped to smile. "The priest picked it up and asked about it. I told him."

I was wondering what the priest was thinking.

"He prayed for you with me."

"It worked," I told her. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Carpe diem

I am part of a fun Facebook group called With Flying Colors.  

Started by a woman someone described as a Fruit Loop in a bowl of Cheerios, it came out from her posting pictures with the same color scheme for many days.

Later it was opened to a larger group until we are 112 members who live in many different countries.

Every Saturday one person selects the next week theme. Sometimes shapes are added. Having gone thru most of the colors and combination, we are trying color plus letters such a blue items and the letter a, peach and the letter B and this week purple and the color C.

Hmmm. That has sent us scurrying to our cameras and digging into our imaginations.

This was a submission the first week of the letter-color combination, a beautiful blue agate.

Sadly, after taking the shot, the photographer dropped it shattering it into thousands of shards.

Fortunately, we have its beauty preserved. 

What a reminder to enjoy all that is good and beautiful while we have it.

Carpe diem...all over the place.

Monday, April 04, 2016


I came back to ASM to find a plethora of New Yorkers.

It is a magazine I've always loved for it's in depth articles and its fiction (even if they have rejected mine--tomorrow is another day).

Whenever I visited CB, I delved into her stack as much as politeness would allow. Good thing I was there for a couple of days and sometimes I had been there to dog sit so I could catch up while she worked which was even better.

Dumb of me not to think to subscribe. When Rick asked what I wanted for Christmas a subscription hopped to mine. Not on line, in paper.

The pile is by my bed and makes my nighttime reading.

And the best part...I have a friend here in ASM who happily takes the read copies

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Medieval shopping

People who know me, understand that I think shop is four letter obscenity.

When I do buy something I want it to at least one of three things and two or three are even better.

1. Beautiful
2. Useful
3. Have a memory.

We found all three on our way south.

Rick had decided to try a different route to Argelès with a stop in Thiers. His research showed that the town had been the center of knife (kitchen and pocket) for the last six centuries.

We arrived and followed the signs to Chazeau Honoré.

The young man who was behind the counter gave us the history of the firm which goes back to the 1800s and his family have always been the owners. He gave us a bit of the history of the area as well.

Thiers's seven factories, all artisinal, make 70% of the knives sold in France.

We had little use for the swords with deer or the boar heads, thus he showed us steak knives. Since our knives are almost useless against any meat, it was a no brainer. The purchase meet my three criteria. So much more pleasant than going into a store to buy something. 

I thought of it dipping into Medieval shopping.

Saturday, April 02, 2016


We were beginning to think there was a conspiracy to keep us in Geneva.

First the lock on the car trunk/boot didn't work the day before we were planning an early get away. Rick fixed it.

Then my doctor prescribed a medication that no pharmacy seemed to have. My regular pharmacy said they would order and it would be ready at 8:30 the next morning, a little later than our planned departure, but still okay...

Rick had an article that had to be finished for a deadline and stayed up late putting the final polishes on it. Not good for a long drive.

We were up later than planned, raring to go home to Argelès. We arrived at the pharmacy and the prescription hadn't been delivered with their other orders.

"We can have this afternoon or tomorrow," the pharmacist said.

"We are leaving for six weeks," I said.



Poor woman. She looked more upset than I felt about a delayed departure. She called the supplier, gave us directions and we were able to pick it up.

We did get on the road despite traffic that seemed to slow our departure. I love Geneva. I love Switzerland. I love living there but after being there since September it was time to get away to the other place I love. 

No one will sorry for me that I can spend time in two great places.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Peace that failed

If you read a novel about the League of Nations, you don't have to imagine what the building looked like. This is it in Geneva.

Founded in 1920 after WWI, it was the first international organization founded for the purpose of peace.

Sadly it was ineffective against the Axis powers. Had it been, WWII would not have happened.

The idea is good. The actions of it and other international peace keeping organizations is never enough.