Monday, December 18, 2017

Under the bed

Our new puppy, Sherlock, was in heaven. There were tons of goodies stored under the bed.

For those that don't know me, I'm a minimalist. I see no sense in keeping anything that we might use some day. Experience taught me that if I haven't used something in a year, if I do need it, I won't remember I have it. And as for keeping things in case I have guests, well if they like me enough to come, they can use the everyday things.

The items under the bed were my beloved husband's, including suitcases. (I have only used one small carry-on size suitcase and a computer case for the past decade for trips that have included up to a month's stay. I do admit long trips in multi climates present a challenge.) My husband has begun to realize that much of what he keeps isn't necessary unless one considers making a puppy happy a reason to hang onto something.

As for the found golf glove in the lower right corner of the photo, the two of them can hassle that one out between them.

And for the things we got rid of, thank you Sherlock.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Who cares

I get so tired of people who get their knickers in a twist about saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

There are many religions and many of them  celebrate holidays at this time of year. 

I have decided on my Facebook page, I will wish my many friends who are of a different nationalities and religions the appropriate greeting in their own languages.

  • I will wish those whose religion I don’t know happy holidays (this includes my Arabic friends who will have time off during the period and will use it as a holiday—so many businesses close in Switzerland between Christmas eve and Jan. 2 and it is not part of the minimum 4 week guaranteed vacation).  
  • I will say Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends 
  • Joyeux Noël will be sent to my French friends
  •  Feliz Navidad is for my Spanish friends
  •  Frohe Weihnachten works for my German friends
  • Veselé Vánoce to my Czech, although each year they laugh at my pronunciation. 
  • And Merry Christmas of course to my Christian friends 
  • To my pagan friends I'll send Samhain, Yule and Solstice greetings. Most societies have some celebration around this time of year and the Christians borrowed from the pagan tradition for Christmas.
  • Etc.
The point is to share good wishes and to come together rather than build walls. How narrow my life would be without so many people from so many places in my life. And whatever people say to me that brings good cheer, thank you, shukran, danke, merci, gracias and and and...

Friday, December 15, 2017


I have come to the conclusion that the U.S. government is not of or by the people but against it.

Our multi-year battle against FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) both in the courts and in Congress has been useless so far.

For those that don't know what FATCA is legislation based on the goal to catch money stashed off shore to escape taxes, not a bad cause in and of itself. However, the government bullied governments all over the world to sign agreements where they must under threat of draconian fines to report every American account.

 While many of the sought of tax dodgers live in the U.S., nine million American expats do not. What the government calls "foreign" banks are their local bank down the street.

Afraid of fines that could put them out of business, banks around the world have spent millions ferreting out American customers, closing their accounts, calling their mortgages, forbidding them to invest, cancelling their credit cards--in other words making it impossible for them to have ordinary financial lives. Even insurance companies were cancelling policies. Employers were not hiring Americans who might have fiduciary responsibilities and who could not participate in the company pension plan, merely for being American.

Congress has referred to expats as tax dodgers, slave traders, drug dealers. Maybe a few are. Most are ordinary people leaving ordinary lives until they were indirectly attacked by their own government.

It is not just expats. The alleged tax reform bill will make life more difficult for ordinary people in the States.

The government sends its youth to phony wars allegedly to protect the homeland, where people are not safe from bad water, oil spills, crumbling roads and bridges, health issues, guns, food, etc. The items on the list is more apt to kill them than any terrorist, just not as directly.

Net neutrality elimination is the latest attack against ordinary Americans.

There is little doubt that congress is bought and paid for by the corporations where the bottom line overrides almost every criteria of human decency.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


"I know what breed Sherlock is," my husband said.

We were told at the rescue center his mother was a Yorkie, his father a Griffon and many other things.

"He's a Homing Terrier?"

"A Homing Terrier?"

"I take him out to do his business, carry him around the corner and he heads straight for home."

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Rick and I have been talking about getting a dog since we got together almost five years ago.

There were many reasons to delay including our travel. We thought we might this summer and even arranged for friends to dog sit for the almost five weeks we were in Edinburgh during autumn. They ended up with an easy sit, just the flat.

Rick has been looking at rescue sites.

Then a homeless man who has an old, old dog, with him all the time whom we give a biscuit to when we give the old man a coin, was dogless.

I asked almost afraid.

"C'est la fin," he said.

I assumed he meant the dog died.

"Do you think we should get him a dog?" Rick asked. He started looking at rescue sites which he had been looking for us all along. Later that day we saw him with the dog totally wrapped in a blanket against the Tramantane blowing at full force.

Rick kept looking at rescue sites: We found one, Mila who met all our criteria:
  • Female
  • 12-20 pounds
  • Older
  • Housebroken
We were open to many breeds, but Mila was a Griffon. Why not? We headed to the animal shelter near the airport. Despite a map we traveled up and down streets finding nothing, finally stopping at a restaurant.

"We don't have a Mila," the young woman told us.

Of course, they didn't. Mila was at a different rescue center.

"We have other small dogs," she said and mentioned a Jack Russell. I love Jack Russells for their intelligence but their energy level was more than we wanted.

"And there's Spider." She put this bundle of part Yorkie, part Griffon and part question mark in my arms.

Okay so the dog was:
  • Male
  • About six pounds 
  • Eight weeks old
  • Not housebroken
I knew it, I knew it. I knew it. It was what the French call a coupe de foudre, love at first sight. It was going to happen.

Spider was renamed Sherlock, because I have a good friend who is afraid of spiders and I don't want her uncomfortable around him if and when we are together, is now asleep right outside my office door having:
  • Eaten
  • Investigated the flat and seemed to approve
  • Drunk water
  • Played with a toy
  • Taken a nap on my husband's lap
My husband has a dueling blog at

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Johnny Halladay died last night a little after 1:00.

President Macron issued a statement about an hour later.

The rocker was 74 and had sold over 110 million records. In France you only needed to say Johnny and everyone knew who you were talking about.

Most of the major stations preempted broadcasts with the story of his life and music.

It has been suggested that there be a national day of mourning, although I doubt that will happen.

The next issue of Paris Match will be filled with photos past/present.

And the type of headlines that dramatize death that the French love so much said "France has been left an orphan by Johnny." It doesn't quite have the same emotion for a non-French, American born me as the one that said, "Arthur Miller has joined his Marilyn."

At the same time writer Jean d'Ormesson died at 90. His death was eclipsed by Johnny, although France treats many of its writers with reverence. They even have TV shows about books.

In England Christine Keeler died at 75. She was the mistress of a British Secretary of War John Profumo and caused a massive scandal. She was an icon of another kind. The British stations rehashed her life.

Neither D'Ormesson or Keeler will get the shock and tears that Halliday will get.

I wish I could think of something profound to write about the different levels of reactions to icons or near icons or even well knowns. I can't. Like all of us, they will have walked thru their lives and others and like every living creature will end their time on earth marked by various degrees of sorrow.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Airline meals

Flying today is no pleasure, especially the long hauls. The security lines are long and frustrating as we take things out of our suitcase to push them thru the conveyor belt and then shove them back in. Once getting patted down in Frankfort, the security guard grabbed my crotch and her name wasn't Lauer, Weinstein, etc.

Of the hundreds to trips, there are a few bright moments.

I was amused the time, security told me to take of my jacket, only to stop me when he realized I had nothing on under it except my bra.

And I wonder if the Swiss security guard ever made the American apple pie recipe I gave him when he questioned my can of Crisco being taken to Scotland because my daughter was making a typical Thanksgiving dinner for her friends.

Mostly getting onto and seated is a necessary pain if I want to get to my destination.

The pushing and shoving to get on board (what if they called all window seat holders board first, then the middle, then the aisle?) means I will step on or be stepped on, hit by or hit someone with my carryon,

When my company paid for it, I sometime had first and business class seats but no way would I pay for them myself. If I find the seats in economy tight at 5 foot one, I wonder what taller people suffer.

The one thing I love about flying is the meals. Granted they do not match a gourmet restaurant, but they are as good as anything we get in many food courts or chains. I start looking forward to them when we arrive at the airport. When I'm standing at line at security or customs, I am wondering with anticipation what the meal will be.

The attendant puts the tray in front of me. Many little dishes are tinfoil covered. If the airline does not give the menu in advance (a thrill to see), it is like opening Christmas gifts. Even if I know what the main course is, I don't know what kind of roll, salted or sweet butter, what kind of cheese, etc. Because I am a grown up, I can take a bite of the dessert before I finish my meal, even if I'm an adult or maybe because I am an adult.

The low cost, short haul airlines don't provide meals, but you can buy a sandwich, which is not that interesting. But going from Toulouse to London, Geneva to Prague is a few chapters in a book or barely a nap. I can grab a snack before boarding.

Going intercontinental is when those marvelous, silver gift trays come out with the surprises inside. It doesn't quite balance the inconveniences and the discomfort, but it helps.

Sunday, December 03, 2017


Autumn may be my favorite season, but December is my favorite month.

The sun arrives later and the bed hugs me closer in the morning. At night the sun quits the sky earlier and we turn on the lights in the house and live in their glow. PJs, the fuzzier the better, are put on and we curl up with a book or a DVD. Sometimes we go early into our pre-warrmed bed.

The year is drawing to a close. It has been a good year filled with adventures. The dark allows me to reflect on what we've done and felt. 

Store windows and village centers are decorated.

Tea takes on a whole new meaning.

Even in the South of France the wind can create rosy cheeks. In Geneva there can be snow but not often. The snow falls up the mountains, creating a reality postcard.

Today we drove home from the South of France to Geneva, worried that the snow might hamper us and we would need to spend a night in a hotel somewhere. Instead the snow only decorated the forests and mountains leaving the roads clear. The drive is always spectacular, but this trip the countryside was decorated for the holiday in white.

Geneva was warmer than France, although warm is not the word.

Each day the days are a little darker until the solstice when I will bring in our Christmas tree, always a real one.

This year we are inviting friends to an open house to help us decorate the tree. We'll serve vin chaud, muscat de Noël and nibblies as they help us decorate. Many were made by my daughter and me when she was little, but Rick and I have added a few of our own. We will hang the stockings my daughter made for me years ago and for Rick when he joined the family.

Hopefully some of our other friends from the UK and Switzerland will come down.

And then, little by little, the days will grow a bit longer promising a new year. And after the dark rest, I will be ready.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Simple living

I admit it -- I'm a minimalist.

Here is my cup and glass closet.

We have:
  • 6 champagne glasses bought as a going out of business sale from a friend
  • One French coffee press--we don't drink much coffee. The press works for guests.
  • One tea pot
  • One set of espresso cups, saucers and pot bought at a vide grenier for 10 euros
  • A water pitcher with five matching glasses bought at a vide grenier for 15 Euros
  • Four of six cups made by our local potter. Easy to replace if dropped.
  • Heart sugar and creamer
Not shown 10 wine glasses left by the last owner and plates.

What do you do if you have a lot of guests, you may ask.

We prefer to entertain no more than three people at a time. We have had one large get together in four years.  We are planning a second event, a Solstice celebration/tree decorating open house later this month which will have more people than our dish/glass stock.

We are planning vin chaud and nibblies and I will get paper products. We've been here about 1,460 days. I see no reason to be bogged down with extra stuff for two of those days.

The things in the closet all fill one or more of my three criteria for owning anything:
  1. Useful
  2. Beautiful
  3. Has a memory
I don't need more and I certainly don't want more stuff cluttering up my life. 

Looking forward to the Solstice Celebration.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkey Sandwiches

"What is your favorite food at Thanksgiving," Financial Iconoclast Max Keizer asked Stacey Herbert, his wife, producer and co-presenter Stacy Herbert on his program The Keizer Report.

I understood.

Although Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Europe, we often do anyway, most often finding a restaurant that offers an American Thanksgiving. European restaurants don't do doggy bags for leftovers so no turkey sandwiches the next day are possible.

About 20 + years ago my friends came from Boston for Thanksgiving. My daughter brought the turkey from Germany where she was studying, thanks to a friend with PX Army privileges. She brought the friend too.

We were at the home of my then partner, a lovely Swiss businessman. The next day we got up all having dreamed of hot turkey sandwiches. My partner couldn't believe that we would eat sandwiches for lunch and insisted on making a "real" meal which he did and which he alone ate as we munched down the sandwiches. He would not try the sandwiches. No anger just a shrug on cultural differences.

About three years ago I produced a typical Thanksgiving for a Moroccan couple who had treated me to couscous, a culinary cultural exchange. I was dreaming of hot turkey sandwiches and left over apple pie the next day. My husband lovingly cleaned up everything including packaging all the leftovers for our guests to take home.

No turkey sandwiches.

This Thanksgiving was probably the easiest. I ordered the turkey from the local butcher. A good friend came from Geneva to produce the stuffing. I had been to the American store in Collogny to buy cranberry sauce.

I made apple tarts and cooked the turkey. Our guests brought sweet potato and the best green beans I've ever eaten. We sat down at the table and ate and laughed and laughed and ate happy that good friends could be together.
This morning I woke up knowing that everything needed for turkey sandwiches was in the frigo. And at lunch, I had my long-awaited turkey sandwich.

Life is good!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Black Friday and Other Christmas Thoughts

Sadly, the idea of Black Friday is spreading to Europe even without Thanksgiving.

For me it doesn't matter. Christmas shopping is done. Rick's presents arrived today. Thank you UPS. Other people's have long been bought, found over the course of the year. I won't have to go into a store until after the holidays.

Even if I hadn't finished, nothing, nothing, nothing would drag me into a store on Black Friday. If I have no choice but to shop, I try and do it when as few people as possible are there. If a store is crowded, I can see no point in entering at all.

My method when I do go in, especially to a chain...go directly to the item wanted. Do not look right or left, buy it and get out as fast as possible and go do something I enjoy.

Malls are the worse with the chain stores. If I find a small shop, preferably with a single owner that won't leave me depressed it can be a little different. These are almost never in the malls. Often it is possible to chat with the owner making the transaction personable and memorable.

Years ago a good friend convinced me to go into a shop in a village in France with beautiful handmade sweaters. I still have the one I bought there and treasure it and the memory.
Another reason I want to avoid Black Friday is that I want to give thoughtful and original gifts. My husband knows not to buy me something that corporations have manipulated him into buying to clutter my home. Although he says, I am hard to buy for, he has been beyond clever in finding things I love like a special book or a Japanese chin sweatshirt neither of which he could never have found in Black Friday chaos.

It still amazes me that people go further into debt for Christmas. Even with a great Black Friday price, if it is put on a charge card, interest charges soon eat up any price savings. Years ago, people had Christmas clubs where they put a few dollars so when Christmas came around, they knew their budget and didn't have to dread bills in January and beyond.

Christmas stockings can still be special, though. My daughter has embroidered ours, including a new one for my husband to say welcome to the family. In the past we've stuffed them with anything from the silly to the delicious. Although I don't need it this year, hard to get Crest toothpaste has always been a special stocking stuffer.

I am looking forward to Christmas. We are planning a tree-decorating-celebrate-the-solstice open house where we can share just being with friends. This year we most likely go to Amadeus for Christmas dinner. Amadeus, the restaurant, not my late dog's grave.

I already have everything I could possible want in life and more--I don't need Black Friday.

Monday, November 20, 2017

White hair

My grandfather had white hair that I loved. I thought of white cotton candy.

Then in Germany I had a friend who also had white hair despite being in her twenties. She bleached it, but her own hair was so light that her roots never showed. She was also drop-dead beautiful. I was jealous.

I was sort of a dirty blond but for years I dyed my hair red at the suggestion of my white-haired friend.

It worked, but I really wanted white hair.

I tried to grow it out, but I hate roots and always rushed back to the dye.

Nature and lots of chemo solved the roots problem. When it grew back, glory, glory it was white and instead of looking older as people said I would, I looked younger.

Seems I am in style. I've been reading articles about how many women are going naturally white and then France2 did a program on women going gray.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Less is more

As writers we are told "Less is More" and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is a perfect example. He gave the speech on this day in history 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Friday, November 17, 2017


My late friend Barbara, used to say couples shouldn't live in each other's pockets. I agreed with her.

Having been single for 41 years, I was amazed that by marrying my soul mate, we were in each other's pockets almost all the time. Even more amazing -- it was fine!

We are both writers with desks about 12 feet apart although in separate rooms. Much of our days can be spent at our computers.

We do other things, from exploring the area, photo safaris, movies, restaurants, etc. almost everything together, although recently he has returned to what he loves as much (or more) than me (see photo). I am thrilled for him.
I may wander to the baker or butcher, he might amble to the neighborhood grocer by ourselves. And I still take time to visit with women friends. But mostly we are together 24/7.

According to Barbara we should be at each other's throats, but we are not. Maybe because we've developed the ability to be alone together.

Now he is on a two-week trip to Dallas, Johnson City, Orlando. I was curious how it would be to be alone.

Alone in Argelès is a limited term. One just has to go to either of the two cafés at the end of the street and someone shows up for a chat. All our food shopping is with owner-operated stores, so a chat about kids with Elisabeth while buying veggies, or philosophy with another shop owner, is the norm.

Although nothing stops me from doing what I want while in the pocket, I often don't.  I've discovered that:
  • I am watching more French television in place of English.
  • Missing our DVD/cuddle time
  • Not eating meat
  • Reveling in beets, artichokes and other foods that I am too lazy to prepare in addition to whatever day I am cooking. Rick and I alternate days.
  • Having less laundry
  • Having less trash not by 50% but by 80%
  • Missing being handed a brownie or hearing the machine popcorn
  • Sleeping diagonally in the bed
  • Missing reading in bed in the morning and sharing what I am reading. I can do the first half with pleasure
I am happy to report that I can still love being alone, although it would be my second choice. I do not want to lose the ability.

So, I am looking forward to the rest of Rick's away time, but not as much as I am looking forward to his being back. I've decided that being in a pocket with someone is more than okay depending on the person and the pocket. One of the few times my friend Barbara was wrong.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hope Chest

I doubt if any American girl today has a hope chest. In my era they were just going out of fashion.

The idea went back thru time when women would gather linens, household goods and clothes for their trousseaus. Some linens were lovingly embroidered and were expected to last. Most were cedar to protect the contents.

The biggest manufacturer was the Lane Company, begun by John and Ed Lane in 1912. After a hostile take over in 1987 they went bankrupt in 1992 but continued making hope chests until summer in 2001. It is now known as the Lane Furniture Company.

The chests came in many designs. Samples can be seen on Ebay with bids starting at $39 and going up into the high three figures.

Some 12 million chests were made.

Some of my friends had hope chests. I never did, although I've ever been without hope. Today my hopes aren't about linens but are more about
  • World Peace (I sound like a beauty queen contestant)
  • Health for me and those I love and like
  • Good friendships
  • As much time as possible in the places I love
  • A dog
  • My husband's happiness
  • Laughter

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


As a kid I hated bedtime. No sooner did the door close and I was up and I resumed playing. What bothered me was that my mother took my shoes, and I had to explain to whatever imaginary people I was playing with that I had the latest style shoes that looks like feet. Periodically my mother would come in and tell me to get back in bed.

As an adult going to bed is wonderful, especially now with the cold, dark evenings. I may be watching TV or a DVD and my eyes droop. Or I may crawl into the pre-heated bed under the red and white mink and read. Or as my daughter says, pretend to read, because I often fall asleep with the book on my chest.

Likewise mornings are different. I don't have to jump out of bed to take the dogs (although I do miss them) for a walk and then rush to work. I can listen to the church bells, read, and gentle myself into the day.

In between morning and night, life goes on as usual. The only difference now, bed is no longer dreaded but a beacon, another joy in a day filled with pleasures.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

black and white

"Shit" I thought, when I saw someone in our Facebook group, Flying Colours, nominated me to do seven days of black and white photos. At first I thought of just not doing it. Time to go out and look for black and white possibilities.

Then I wondered about turning my colored photos to black and white.


Suddenly, I saw things in the photos that I hadn't seen before. What I thought would be a chore became fun.

In high school, I had a wonderful teacher who kept saying, "There is no black and white, only shades of gray."

Thanks K. for helping to keep my mind open.

Friday, November 10, 2017


“And the cardboard toy theatre and the case of curiosities had been removed as has the ivory table.”  The Great complication  by Allen Kurkweil was the trigger for this piece of flash fiction done in a ten-minute free write along with another writer.

It wasn’t until she dropped her car keys in the hold-all drawer that she realised something was different. The cardboard toy theatre and the case of curiosities had been removed as has the ivory table.

Megan bombed thru the library to the kitchen.

“Son of bitch!” Had Thomas still been living there he would have told her to lower her voice.
That he was the guilty party for the missing items was without alternative. He loved those items as much as she had when they first acquired them. Funny how the same thing could trigger such diverse memories.

They’d bought the theatre at a flea market on a grey November day arguing the seller down to $5 from ten. When they came home they drank hot tea in bed before making love. Only on the next Monday had she learned he was sleeping with Clare.

The curiosity case had been put out on the sidewalk in front of a brownstone apartment building and was under a lilac tree in full bloom. It was down the street from her best frenemy Angela who was another in the Thomas string of lovers.

The ivory table was bought in New Delhi, a second honeymoon or a last attempt to save the marriage. They had held hands as they wandered the bizarre and never  tired of the curries and other food. It might have worked had Thomas not kept going out to call Rene.

She should have changed the locks. 


As she moved a red leather chair into the hole left by the case she vowed that whatever she found to replace the missing items would carry only good memories.

Monday, November 06, 2017


Too long ago today, I was in the shower. Rick, my husband knocked at the door.

"Babette is here." Why, I wondered, would the green grocer on the corner come to see me in the early evening.

I threw clothes on, wrapped my hair in a towel.

"Barbara est morte." Babette said.

She couldn't be. Rick had taken her lunch. We often shared our leftovers.

She had walked down the street just a short time before chatting with people she passed.

She had had a doctor's appointment. She had told him a joke, lowered her head and died.

Babette, who had keys to Barb's house, handed me her agenda that she had retrieved. Not speaking English she thought I would be better contacting her family, whom I knew well.

I knew what I had to do. Call Wendy her daughter. Rick cautioned me to make she wasn't driving.

The village was in shock. She was part of the gospel choir, a store owner selling English books, African art and clothes. Everyone knew her, loved her. There was a long write up in the local paper about the village's loss.

She and I had been neighbors in three places. First in Boston. We watched she and her then husband move in carrying boxes and boxes of books. I knew anyone with that many books, I wanted to know. Later we owned condos in the same building in another part of Boston.

She and her husband had been anthropology professors. We all became friends.

Barbara went to Africa to continue her research in Lobi music and culture. Her marriage didn't survive it but the friendships did.

Eventually we ended up in France with a short walk of each other.

It takes more than a blog, but an encyclopedia to describe our friendship. Her wisdom gave me the courage to be better than I thought I was capable of being. Often the wisdom was condensed into a few short sentences or less, causing clicks of realization.

Nothing about her was ordinary. She was a big woman, who with three children, decided to go to junior college which led her finally to her doctorate. More than anything she wanted to help the poor women of Africa and accomplished more than any human could expect, but fell short of her own goals.

Alain Martin, leader of the gospel choir, sang What a Wonderful World at the crowded memorial captured her spirit with his beautiful voice. People came from the US and other places in France. She did make my world wonderful.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

I will survive

Our next door neighbors are part-time residents. They had one planter with a green leafy  plant. I don't know names. We would water it for them, although they didn't ask us too. We just liked how pretty it looked.

During the summer the planter was under a swallow's nest. As you can guess, the leaves were soon white with baby bird poop.

Combined with the neighborhood cat population saying "Wow, a toilet," the leaves gave up.

An empty planter isn't pretty so we bought a pretty pink flowering plant and put pine cones around it to discourage the use of the planter as a kitty toilet.

The flowers were happy.

Suddenly the green-leaf plant decided to resurrect itself.  

Start playing Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

Saturday, November 04, 2017


It should have been easy answer to Rick's question, "What do you want for Christmas?"

The problem is, I have everything I want. I go through each day, awash in contentment. 

This year we celebrated a mini Christmas with my daughter in Edinburgh. We played Christmas carols and exchanged presents.

It was October. Part of it was practical. Our presents tend to be simple, often inexpensive, things we can't get where one of us lives but exists where the other does. Therefore, a special Kleenix can cost 10x more to ship across the Atlantic than the original price. It isn't begrudged at all but so much nicer to slip something into a suitcase to be given when we can see the faces of the receiver and use the money not spent on delivery for a meal together in a restaurant.

Time together can not be boxed, wrapped and tied with a ribbon.

I still love Christmas. The music, the decorations, the markets with its chalets. Seeing friends. Hanging our stockings. My daughter embroidered mine when she was still in high school. She worked her needle magic on Rick's a welcome to the family after our commitment ceremony.

My daughter brought one of Rick's stocking presents with her to Scotland (shipping benefit) that I want  to give him. I've ordered his main present. He too can be hard to buy for. I listen to what he says and hope for clues.

There is one thing I want, the same thing he has given me for the last two years.

I read it almost cover to cover--sometimes the restaurant reviews make me too hungry. He reads it then we give it to a friend who gives it to a friend.

So what do I want? I have enough clothes. I have enough jewelry. I even have enough Crest toothpaste, which has made a great gift in the past. I revel in my home.

Poor man, I wish I could help him. He's stuck with a contented wife.

Friday, November 03, 2017


I am a lucky woman.

The main area of disagreement in my marriage is the Oxford comma and a pizza cutter.

My husband loves the comma.

I will use it only when it is confusing not to, which is often.

I was taught that comma is like the word and...thus if you use , and you are really saying and and. We always point out anything that backs up our opinion.

And my husband loves his pizza cutter. I see it as taking up room in the drawer, and find scissors much easier.

Considering all the fights some couples have we live a harmonious life even as we edit each other's work as we eat pizza.

Thursday, November 02, 2017


When people think I have a glamorous life, I remind them, I still have to put out the garbage (unless Rick does it first).

In some ways it is glamorous, once the garbage is put out. In Geneva, we can walk to the lake as we admire the Alps.

We've hopped over to the UK for this or that, Paris for the Air Show.

We had a month in Edinburgh, explored an abbey in the Loire Valley, slept in a bubble in Austria and looked out our hotel window in Liechtenstein to see the royal family castle.

But coming HOME to our flat in Southern France has been the best part of it all. Our apartment is on the ground floor between two streets. All the houses nearby are at least 400 years old, many older.

I love our stone walls, my kitchen, our art work. I love walking out the door to get fresh baked bread

and running into any number of people I know for a chat.

I love having everything I need at my fingertips (well almost).

I can watch the neighborhood cats jockey for position.

I love going to Elisabeth's for the fresh local veggies and fruit and the seeing young the Muslim couple as we chat about what to do with whatever meat I buy.

As much as I loved the discovery of new places and the changes day to day, I love the routine of waking and having tea in bed and reading before I start my day.

Poor Rick has two trips coming up. Technically I could have gone with them, but friends are coming for Thanksgiving (no it is not a French holiday, but we can celebrate just the same.) He can take his shoes off at security, unload his electronics and hope he makes his connections.

As a kid we never went anywhere. I dreamed of packing a suitcase, indeed having a suitcase. Now I dream of putting my suitcase in the closet. Next year I'll be ready to go exploring, but right now, I am so content just being HOME.