Wednesday, October 18, 2017

10 Things

Rick and I are doing dueling blogs on the things we loved about our month in Edinburgh. His are here.

1. Time with Llara, Nandita, Chitra, Marianne. Meeting Sofia. Meeting Stuart, his mom and friends.

2. Touching the area where Mary was crowned Queen of Scots.

3. All the English books in the charity shops.

4. The literary walking tour.

5. The village of South Queensferry.

6. Rosslyn Chapel, which I knew off before The DiVinci Code. The walk to and from the castle.

7. The great public transportation.

8. The way the city glorifies its writers and history.

9. The beautiful buildings creating such a good feeling.

10. The happiness that Rick had at playing St. Andrews

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Men's health


Women Politicians to Solve Men's Health Issues

Washington, D.C.-- Women politicians from both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate to study prostrate problems in men.

Only women will be on the committee, because as the chairman said, "We can best determine what men will need."

Testifying will be oncologists Dr. Ruth Ainsworth and  Dr. Ainsley Sampson and urologists Dr. Gina Masterson and Dr. Ann Sanderson.

They will discuss how a bad prostrates feels, prostrate problems and sex, pee pee problems from the male point of view.

Questions (from women only) can be sent directly to the committee chairman via their government office address.


Cutline: Men meet in a committee on woman's maternity health. The new committee is in response to only men dealing with women's problems.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Safety pins

Thursday's Household Adventure

For at least 20 years I've kept a pin in my sock and pin the pair together when I throw them into a wash.

A former housemate did it hso the washing machine wouldn't steal the sock. I do it because I'm too lazy to match them up.

This morning for the first time, I had a problem. The dryer had somehow twisted over the pin to hide it in a mass of material.

I struggled with it. Granted since chemo my hands function at less than 100%, but after I gave up and Rick tried, he too struggled.

Finally he was able to cut the little bit of metal and with more twisting and turning, freed my sock.

Final Score: Us 1 Safety Pin 0 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

travellingflying fear

The man came up to the bus stop where we were waiting to go into Edinburgh.

We smiled, he smiled.

We began chatting.

He confessed next month he was going to fly for the first -- to Rome -- and he was scared.

Most men in their fifties don't admit fear to strangers.

We reassured him it would be short.

We didn't tell him about security. Probably he would never make Rome if we did.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Criminals will always get guns.

I need a gun to feel safe.

Let's take these two arguments separately. Yes, criminals will always get guns, but they will have to work harder. Other countries who have strict gun laws also have criminals who sometimes get guns, but no where in the same proportion as in the US.

One reason to feel safe to have a gun, is that too many other people have them and carry them. If they didn't have them, no one needs one to feel safe?

How safe?

Someone breaks into a home. The owner says "Wait a minute, I have to run upstairs and get my gun and load it. Don't take anything until I get back."

A robber holds a gun in my stomach. I say, "Wait a minute let me get the gun from my purse."

I believe that people should be allowed to have guns after a course in guns, qualifying on a shooting range, and can take one apart and put it together. They have  to pass a written test not that much different from getting a drivers license. Each type of gun needs a separate license. All guns must be insured--the insurance companies would love that.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


My daughter's last night in Edinburgh. My husband walks in with two farewell cans of Irn Bru.

When she was a grad student in Edinburgh, she loved the drink. We've stocked it for her during her visit.

When we visit her, she makes sure our favorite drinks, cookies and magazines are in her house.

It's a way of saying, "I care" small considerations that cost almost nothing.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Loving it

"Where are you from?" He was movie-star handsome with his black hair, close-cropped beard and dark blue eyes. His kilted outfit was impeccable.

We were from Switzerland, Maine, Connecticut and Copenhagen and we were about to take his guided tour of Stirling castle. He said he liked to know where people are from because he didn't travel. He had everything he wanted "right here."

 His voice was so strong it was like he had a mike--but he didn't. He explained in depth without being boring, an hour-long story hour that left us wishing for more.

When he finished he said, "Thank you for visiting MY castle."

I was taken back a couple of decades to Gstaad, Switzerland when I was wrapped in furry blankets keeping me cozy as a horse-drawn sleigh carried me across the snow. Despite language challenges: the driver spoke with a Swiss German accent. My rusty German was barely related, but even with my bad French accent we communicated.

He talked about his work and joy played through his words as he said, "It is my life." He turned when he said it with a smile that was as warm as the furry blankets.

How wonderful that people can find joy in their work, not necessarily high-paying jobs, but those that make them happy to got to work. They can't chase the expensive car, the McMansion or the next promotion but they have found something far more important.


Friday, October 06, 2017

Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles

 I am writing a book called Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles that I will self publish and send to every judge, legislator or campaigner against abortion. It is not that I think abortion is a good thing, but millions of women died from back alley abortions prior to Roe v. Wade. A woman who wants an abortion will get one. The rich will go to where it is legal. The poor will do it to themselves or submit to dangerous solutions. The only question: how many women will die along with fetus?

From 27 August-10 October 2017
Because abortion is closely related to birth control, I realized that I needed at least a chapter if not two on the history of the Comstock Laws and Margaret Sanger. The Comstock laws prohibited birth control, abortion, information about either. Margaret Sanger spend much of her life fighting for women to be able to get birth control, reducing the need for abortion or having children they did not want and could not support.
I’d already planned a chapter on Bill Baird. If he had not successfully challenged the law, unmarried people would still not be able to get contraception information. Placement is still unsure whether to put him with Comstock/Sanger section or with legal cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade. I am leaning to the later with maybe a mention in the Sanger chapter and a (see Chapter 0).
In my research some things seemed as relevant today as it was a century of more in the past such as hypocrisy. Tom Murphy, who has fought against abortion in the House of Representatives and was a member of the Pro-Life Caucus, wanted his pregnant mistress to get an abortion, has resigned.
If he truly thought abortion was killing, would he have been willing to kill his own child? If his mistress went through with it, would he have wanted her to go to a medical facility that was clean and safe, or would he have been happy to have her go to a back alley, perhaps lie down on newspaper and have a knitting needle stuck up her vagina hoping to hit the right spot?
What about painting her vaginal area with a chemical that would turn the area black and melt some of her internal organs as the baby was expelled?
If this sounds gross, it is just a few of the methods used before Roe v. Wade and are used by women where the nearest abortion clinic is so far away that they have to resort to local measures.
There was a judge in the early 1900s who ruled that women did not have the right to pleasure in sex without the worry about conceiving a child. Not his phrasing but the substance of what he said. I guess he thought one had to pay for pleasure with worry.
The idea of shipping a diaphragm thru the U.S. mails could have meant the person would end up in jail. Even writing about it and then mailing it could lead to jail time.
The story of a woman in the 1920s who mailed materials and was sent to a workhouse as punishment and force fed while there is horrible.
The material on Anthony Comstock was easy to find. As tempting as it would be to play psychiatrist on what made him care so much about other people’s sex lives, I do not have the credentials or the knowledge to do so.
Sanger was harder to write because of dating of the material I could gather. Good thing I enjoy editing and rewriting.
I’ve also decided to have an explanation between sections in italic, a short paragraph.
There is much polishing to do, but I am beginning to standardize the format.
I’ve been surprised, even though we are in Edinburgh for a month, and my daughter is with us, how much I’ve been able to get done while enjoying this fantastic city.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The visitor

The Visitor

My writing mate and I met back at LaNoisette to do our writing exercises. The opening line was from Fanny Flagg's "Welcome to the World Baby Girl" that was the trigger for this piece of flash fiction.
"She stood and watched the man pull away."

She stood and watched the man pull away.

Her mother was at work as usual. As much as her mother tried to be home early each night, her work as a paralegal often kept her late at the office.

Lana saw the wind blow the first red leaves of autumn in swirls in the driveway after the departing car.

He'd rung the side doorbell, which was the first few notes of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". Her mother had wanted to be a classical pianist, but Lana's birth had put an end to those hopes.

Sometimes Lana worried, she'd destroyed her mother's life, but her mother always said that Lana was the best thing that had happened to her.

Lana knew her mother would be unhappy that she'd opened the door to a stranger, but she was expecting her friend Jessica, who was coming to study for a history test. And besides only friends came to the side door.

Instead it was that man standing there. He was about her mother's age, although she wasn't that good at guessing grown-ups' ages. He was dressed in good jeans, an Irish knit sweater and expensive looking boots.

"Lana Friedman?"


"Your mother is Diana Friedman?"


Then he looked down at his boots, looked at his car and said, "I shouldn't have come." He ran to his car, turned and came back. "Give your mother this." It was his business card. He was a software engineer in another city. There were tears in his eyes. "Tell her there's no obligation to call me."

Then he went back to the driveway, calling over his shoulder in a shaky voice, "Tell your mom she did a great job in raising you and I'm so, so sorry."

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


A character in Joanne Harris's Blue-eyed Boy plunged her hands into a button box. Memories of my grandmother's button box came flooding back. On rainy days, it could provide hours of amusement, arranging the buttons into designs: shapes, things, people, adventures.

She also cut the design linings out of envelopes and with scissors and paste I could make collages or clothes for my paper dolls. I loved the swirls of color and patterns.

I tried keeping a button box as an adult, cutting them off clothing that was too old to give to the Salvation Army. The problem was when I needed  a button I never found enough to look the way I wanted things to look. I would go out and buy more buttons, consigning the rejects to the box.

So much for Yankee frugality.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Time warp

 As often as possible another writer and I get together to free write using a trigger. Our trigger is a random line taken from a book. This was written Jan. 21.  “They are rather difficult to get on the older radios,” is the line we were working with.

Entering the shop was like entering into another world or at least another time. Instead of long spacious aisles with lights that would outdo the sun, the shop was dark and crowded. An antique dealer, who specialized in old radios, telephones and televisions, would think he’d cornered the market. 
Or maybe this man had cornered the market in this type of thing, which certainly wasn’t Andrea’s.
Andrea was all into the latest gadget. She didn’t quite line up to buy the latest iPhone the morning they went on dale, but she would be in the Apple store within the week.
The man behind the counter should also be out of time with gray hair and a pot belly but this man was probably around her age and she guessed under his Harvard sweatshirt he had a great body. He certainly had a great smile.
Andrea put her grandfather’s radio on the pristine counter top. Somehow it seemed the shop should be dusty but it wasn’t.
“Just a tube,” she said. “My grandfather would love to be able to listen to this radio again.”
She’d snuck the radio out of the nursing home when he was away having medical tests. Even when it stopped working, he kept it by his bedside. His wife, who had died five years before, had given it to him. When he was told he could bring five personal things to the nursing home, that was the first thing he had chosen.
The man took down a similar radio, switched tube after tube, stopping each time to turn the radio on.
“Traffic is heavy over the Southeast Expressway,” the radio blared and the young man lowered the volume. That will be $5.75.
Andrea took the radio and knew how happy her grandfather would be and returned to the current day world.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bitter & Twisted

Love this beer both for the taste and label. The back label says its a description of the brewer's wife. Maybe not nice but certainly original.

I better enjoy it now. It's only sold in Scotland. Maybe someday it will become like Sam Adams that once was only sold in Massachusetts.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Plushed animal jokes

"I'm sorry, I can't because you never bought me a Scooby Dog," my teenage daughter said to explain why she hadn't taken out the garbage. It became a family joke and an excuse for almost anything.

Years later when we lived on different continents, one of her friends called to say he knew the Scooby joke. He had just seen a Scooby in Quincy Market.

"Buy it," I said not knowing that my daughter had been next to him when he called me.

He bought it.

As an adult, she still took scoob everywhere including when she moved in with me in Switzerland having completed her degree.

She ran with the Hash Harriers once a week. While she was out I would take Scoob and place him in bed, ironing, in the bidet, cooking, anything I could think of.

Fast forward a decade plus. My daughter was once again living with me in Switzerland after finishing another degree, this one in Scotland.

We told my husband. He started taking Scoob around on bus rides, to restaurants, historical sites.

My former housemate took him to her chalet with lots of photos on the way.

We came up with a scenario. My husband had bought me a stuffed plush cougar. I am older than he is. We created an affair. Petite Cougar (PC) ended up pregnant. Scooby left her and we added a smaller Scooby, a real handful. Lots of adventures.

Then other animals crept into our menagerie:
  • Honey Bunny
  • Herr Hare
  • Thé Noir
  • Miel
  • Shamrock, the transgender lobster from Boston
  • Sanders, the Bern Bear
  • Slap, the Canadian Beaver
We continued to take photos of them in various adventures. Giggles was added when a reunion between PC and Scooby Senior failed. Giggles was born.

But Slap and PC fell in love and we held a wedding on the church steps with human guests coming back to the house for wedding cake and champagne.

The adventures continued.

Then the friend who waters our plants while we are away got into the act. When ever we come back the animals are hiding in closets and/or up to mischief.

Now we are in Scotland and our house sitters sent photos of Honey and Herr looking out the window. The sitters said they had to show them our Facebook pages to convince them we were really okay.

What is fascinating is how people get involved from the lady watching Scoob get an ATM withdrawal and asked "Do you want to tell me about it" to the waiter at the restaurant that took Shamrock and returned him on a plate with a lemon slice and a bit of parsley.

Yes, it is childish, but there's is nothing wrong in keeping a bit of fun in life. May we never grow up.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


If I did not come from a fanatic golfing family I would swear my husband Rick was bonkers.

I understand why he wanted to play the Old Course at Saint Andrews, the home of golf starting from the 15th century. At least it was until 1457 when James II banned it because young men were ignoring their archery for the sport. Once he was captivated by the sport, he lifted the ban.

Our month in Edinburgh was going to be the best way to fulfill his dream.

Problem. There were no free slots on the course and never any for a single, BUT we learned that by waiting in line any free space would be given out.

Rick booked us into the Old Course Hotel overlooking the course. After a quick meal he was off for a walking tour.

When he came back he gave me his own tour. Still the question remained...Would he be able to play?

At 11:30 he put on leggings, slacks, rain slacks, two pairs of socks, a shirt, another shirt, another shirt at which point I stopped watching.

He kissed me goodbye and left to make sure he would be first in line standing outside in the cold and sometimes rain.

At 7 the next morning he was back, a smile that could have replaced the electrical lights in the entire second floor.

His tee-time was 12:20. I went up to the bar where I could get a lunch, drink lots of tea and watch for him to play by.

I wasn't sure if this was him or not, but I thought I saw his hat, his beard, and a bit of his hair sticking out.

It was. His dream has been preserved on the internet for ever.

Do I think he was bonkers to spend all night in the cold and rain.

Yes. I love him for it. Following a dream is the best way to live life.

He has a dueling blog at

Supreme Court

The 6th District Court rejected the appeal on the FATCA suit. Our next move will be to go to the Supreme Court and we must file by December 25.

What a great Christmas present it would be to take the final step to free 9 million Americans outside the US from financial terror.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


21 August 2017-26 September
Finally! The book, Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles, is coming together—in my mind anyway. I see an end to the chapter subjects I want to write.

When it is done I want to send it to every Supreme Court Justice and legislator that wants to outlaw abortion and reduce women's health choices.

It is not that abortion is a good thing. It is one of a group of bad choices a pregnant woman faces, but from the beginning of recorded history, there have been abortions, many through horrible methods leading to death.

Laws won't stop it. My wish would be that methods to stop pregnancy would be available to everyone and when a child is born there will be support for the mother as it is in other countries such as early child care, allowances, mothers (or fathers) able to stay home from work because of a sick child, good health care and affordable education.

I concentrated on Jane, the group that helped women get safe abortions in the Chicago area pre-Roe v. Wade. One of the founders is still alive and continues her work as social activist. I wrote her to ask for clarifications on certain points. Different articles which I read said different things. She answered immediately with new information as well. 

I wonder how many other groups like this existed but disappeared after Roe v. Wade. If abortion is made illegal I am sure the same thing will happen. Groups to save women’s lives will spring up underground. 

I also worked on the Dr. Curtis Boyd chapter. He worked with the Clergy Consultation Service (CSS) and at 80+ is still working. I thought of contacting him but he is in so many documentaries and videos that I have his direct quotes, more than I can use. 

I went on to Dr. Grimes chapter who reinforced the number of beds where hospitals kept treating women whose abortions had gone wrong. He talked about a hospital that had two separate private rooms for women who were dying—they allowed them to have time with their families during their last moments.  He has international credentials.
I joined an abortion support group on Facebook. It is clear that women’s emotions before and after their abortions vary. Because women are looking for support emotionally and for physical information none of the simple sayings by either the pro-life or pro-choice are 100% valid. 

  • Some women feel only relief
  • Some feel sadness
  • Some feel both and everything in between
It is clear that any unwanted pregnancy leads to a selection of choices, none of which will ever be undone. Few have happily ever afters including those women who give birth.

 If I could wave a magic wand I would make sure only women who wanted to get pregnant did so, all babies would be wanted and healthy