Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Men and women are different.

I can't get out of bed until I know what I am going to wear including my underwear, the order I will shower, take my meds, eat breakfast, etc.

This morning it was the pretty black and red patterned top Rick had bought me and the black slacks that needed ironing, which meant, I should iron the blue t-shirt that goes with the patchwork skirt for tomorrow. There is other ironing to do, but I will wait until the laundry from today dries and do it, probably in front of a the Tony Bennett DVD I still have to listen to.

Rick has a different method of deciding what to wear. He writes about it at

Our differences were revealed as we sat at L'Hostalet, drinking strawberry juice from a local merchant, and chatting. We never run out of topics.

Flash fiction

"And the cardboard toy theatre and the case of curiosities had been removed as had 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.

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.  It wasn’t until she dropped her car keys in the hold-all drawer that she realized something was different.

“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 doubt. He loved those items 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. The next Monday she'd 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 Thomas's 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 streets and never  tired of the curries. It might have worked had Thomas not kept going out to call Rene.

She should have changed the locks. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I can say God

It was a professional dinner in Geneva at a table with many different nationalities.

One of the attendees said, "For the first time in years, I'm proud to be American." It was because Trump was president.

I could not fathom this. Since he announced, no matter where we are when people pick up our American accent, we asked about Trump and not in a good way. Even when I was in a Geneva emergency room, one of the nurses asked for an explanation.

I asked the woman at the table why?

"I can say God again."

Why she could not say God during the Obama administration, I have no idea. There is the perceived war against Christianity that seems to exist in the minds of the non-persecuted. Persecution is when you are imprisoned. The US does have separation of church and state, instituted by our wise fore fathers who knew the recent history of religious wars.

I would have loved to talk about economics, US drones killing innocents, the cut back of freedom of speech such as in her home state where protestors can have their assets seized, banks run amuck, climate disasters, corruption, undrinkable Flint water, crumbling roads, women's rights being reduced, voters' rights being reduced and hundreds of other topics.

It was not the time or place. It probably would not have changed her opinion.

She can say God. She's happy as the US descends into a third world country.

Monday, May 29, 2017


This is a story of a 300+ or - old building.
This is a story of three different "recent" owners.
This is the story of success on many levels.

L'Hostalet has been a hotel for the many decades that I've been coming to Argelès. The original owners went to the Fawlty Towers school of customer service. I would stash guests there only as a last resort.

Then it was bought by a Danish artist who ran it along with an artist atelier. She was a one-woman show, and when we heard a whish it was Cristina running by to her next chore. She did not have the funds to restore it nor the wherewithal to do it all herself, so she sold it.

The next owners left it closed for a few years. At one point a young couple wanted to buy it, had the financing or so they thought. The financial crisis caused the bank to rescind the offer.

It remained empty...




Matieu, a child of the Pyrenees, bought it and opened it with Jonathan, a Brit who'd lived and taught university in America at one point.

Little by little there was a new facade, the dingy, 1930s French-spy-film style rooms were replaced by light, airy modern rooms that have a French feel but none of the boring room lack of ambience that chains have.

The stairs were redone until the wood grain was a work of art.

Than the kitchen was replaced.

Breakfast inside in the winter and on the Place de la Republique in the summer have the traditional breads, cheese and jams, but there are home-made mini-mini muffins with tea or coffee.

Last year the two started serving coffee, tea etc. in the morning to those that wander by. It has become a meeting place. And during the summer evenings wine, sangria, local beers, juices are added to the offering. On a lucky night there might some of Matieu's homemade tapenade.Of course, there are tables and drinks available on the nights that the square becomes the scene for different types of concerts and dances,

The hotel is now beautiful. Hard work brought about the transformation, but that's not the whole of the success story. It is the two men that make people feel welcome. It is their smiles. It is that a bit of their heart and souls are invested in each board and brick.

If you plan to come to Argelès, check out and consider staying. If they are complete or you have other accommodations, drop by in the morning or evening whether or not there is a dance or a concert. 

The genuine, warm feeling along with whatever you are served by this multi-lingual duo, is an experience with no price tag. 

That is the real success story.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


For almost 30 years I've been doing the Swiss to Argelès-sur-mer trip or the reverse, always noticing the brown signs along the autoroute telling me what was nearby of interest.

The trip can take between six (quick pee stops) to eight (pee, meal, stretch stops or traffic delays) hours. We are usually in a rush to get to one of the other places.

For almost 30 years, I've said, "someday we should take our time, stop and explore."

This trip, we said. "Not sometime. Next time or the trip after."

I took down the different places that interested us. There are abbeys, châteaux, museums, nature parks.

We have narrowed the list and are looking for good restaurants in our guide books and places to stay. It will take probably three days, or more depending on what we stumble across.

Now the only decision is which direction.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The chair

I used to think flushing had to do with toilets or Meadows and tennis tournaments.

For almost two years I've had a new definition. It is that cute little thing planted in my chest that was used to deliver my chemo in 2015. I loved it because I have veins that run away from needles which meant I could be stuck up to eight times before each treatment. The port-a-cart was a single poke thru numbed skin.

Even though my last treatment was in early 2016 and I am reported to be cancer-free, a state I want to continue, the oncologist recommends keeping it in. It also needs to be "flushed" every six months, a relatively simple procedure of deadening the skin, inserting a needle, drawing blood, inserting sterile water--a few minutes at best.

Some people thought I was crazy when I said chemo was fun--the treatment itself was--not the weakness afterwards.

The wonderful nurses at HUG  (Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève) made each treatment almost like a tea party with terrible tea. It was a group of women sharing recipes and stories.

This week when I went in for my treatment instead of doing it at the nursing station, they took me to the chemo treatment room. They were rushed because the next day was a holiday and they were trying to get everyone in.

I saw my favorite nurse Marie-Odile, a treat.

They sat me in the chair where I had most of my treatments. The view of La Salève out the window was still rocky and beautiful. The room was still cheerful with its decorations. The atmosphere still cozy.

But I didn't want to be there. I wanted that part of my life to be over.

Then I reminded myself, it is over, as long as I do the checks. The women on each side of me still have a lot to face. I just hope it will be as all right for them as it has been for me. There is life after cancer.

I still don't want to sit in that chair, good memories or not.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


It's Sunday in Switzerland.

Let's vote. It sometimes seem like voting happens every Sunday but in reality, it is four times a year when citizens cast their vote for initiatives and referendum.

The Swiss vote on almost everything from dog muzzles to buying airplanes for the air force. They vote to cancel out a parliament vote or they vote to tell parliament what to do.

Sometimes the votes can be as stupid as any parliament. Other times they show great wisdom. Often the Swiss German part of the country over rules Swiss Romand, the French part. They call that that the Rosti Graben, referring to the hash brown-type potato dish popular in the Swiss German section, but in reality eaten in all parts.

This time we were voting on:
1. The future energy policy of the country (Federal yes)
2. Bus rates (Cantonal yes)
3. The house of associations (Cantonal no)

Normally, I get my ballot by mail, study the pros and cons, check out what the many parties think (scares me when the far right and far left agree), and get my ballot into the mail in plenty of time.

I missed the mailing deadline. Thus at 10 a.m. when the church clock struck we were at the voting place doors when they opened. It was in the local primary school.

There was a warm greeting and I was pointed to a long table with several people siting behind it. I was told that only the blue envelope with the ballot was to go into the yellow box. The young man behind my slot checked my identity card and kept my signature card.

I dropped the ballot into the box.

"Have some breakfast," the young man said pointing to a table filled with croissants, cookies, juice, coffee and tea.

I found my husband chatting with the official greeter in French. I chatted with both of them for a few minutes, took  cookie and we left.

So civilized. I may vote in person from now on. That cookie was good.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Roads and toilets

After driving over major NY state highways and roads that should have been repaved decades ago, I really, love the A9 when I go from Geneva to Argelès. And unlike NY where the only usable restroom is a tree, the toilets are lovely whether in one of the frequent well-fitted out stops, or just a parking place with toilet, picnic tables, and play places.

Stops have a variety of restaurants, although often changes where one can get anything from MCDos to a full meal.

There places to play for kids and exercise courts. Some even have historic information.

Cleanliness is encouraged.

Stores offer basic things, souvenirs and local products.

Meanwhile in New York, leaves make good toilet paper.

Monday, May 15, 2017


My way of shopping, is to go in and if I can't buy it in five minutes I am outta of there.

Friends I know, check out several stores, do Consumer reports, weigh each advantage and disadvantage.

I thought they might be right.

Our induction stove top, which always was emotionally challenged at the best of times, decided only two of three burners should work. The one in the Nest* is ceramic.

I decided to do the thoughtful way of shopping even though I thought that the ceramic one in the Nest had the advantage of always turning on and off something the induction one did not. There were moments I believed it wanted some kind of cooking rain dance or magical chant to cook my meal.

I went into where we buy all our appliances. I listened carefully to the clerk explain, less use of electricity and a timer on the induction. A couple of safety features were appealing if and when a small child (never has there been a small child in the flat in four years, but there might be) sounded good.

It wasn't a matter of price. And he threw in an induction stove top Italian coffee pot. Prior to that my old Italian coffee pot was useless except in The Nest's ceramic top.

I bought the induction.

The installer had a hard time with the wiring and space, not the stove top's fault. This is a 400-year-old house, although the wiring is under ten years.

He broke the dishwasher's door under the stove stop which we discovered the next time we opened the dishwasher, which although a new and a top brand name never dried properly.

My perfectly tin-lined copper pot I bought at the vide grenier will not work on the new stove top. It can go to The Nest.

It is NOT the stove top's fault that I misread which on switch button operated which burner.

This morning I discovered my favorite tiny fry pan won't work.

My goal is to have a stove top that you put a pan on with food in it, the food cooks, you shut the burner off and eat the food.

Instead, I am checking the internet to determine which magical dances, chances and herbs will make the new stove top do the same.

I am going back to my old method of shopping: in, I want, you have it, but it I buy it, if you don't I'm outta there in minutes.

It was my mistake and I'll live with it or maybe -- hmmm -- seems like every thing that goes wrong in the US is Russia's fault.

When my stove top annoys me, I will blame Putin.

*The Nest is the 18 sq. meter studio I bought for my retirement home and is perfectly set up for me. However, when I married Rick is was much too small so we rent a flat two doors down and we use the Nest as a guest room.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Martin Luther King and I had a dream.

His were based on a just world.


Not so much.

Last night I dreamed in French, in itself not strange. If I watch a French program, read a book in French or spend the evening more in French than English before going to bed, I will most likely dream in French.

Yesterday was almost totally an Anglo day after a long café sit in the sun with Brit and American friends.

My French had been limited to a quick chat with one of the marché merchants. Then I spent a good part of the day in English working on my new project Coat Hangars and Knitting Needles and reading a American detective story for work breaks. I watched an episode of West Wing, season 1 with my husband.

In my dream three French-speaking males were seated around a table, much like in a police station. Two other men came speaking another language. I did not recognize the language. It did not have the music of Oriental languages, the gutturals of Germanic tongues, but seemed more Slavic.

I woke before figuring anything out.

Maybe subconsciously I speak that strange, unknown language.

Or not.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lunch in two cultures


In my Swiss life, luncheons with friends of my then partner were formal affairs, often planned weeks if not months in advance. We dressed up to at least business casual standards.

Six to eight people were in attendance and each time someone new came in, they shook hands on did the three-cheek lip kiss. People were on time making the shaking and kissing a bit chaotic. Most had been friends since childhood. I was the new kid on the block.

As guests, we would bring wine, chocolates or flowers.

An Apèro was always served in the living with small nibblies.

After an appropriate time we moved to the dining room to a table that would not have been out of place in any life style magazine with linen, crystal and silver. I never went to a luncheon (or dinner) where there wasn't a beautiful knife holder to protect the table cloths.

Never was I served a bad meal. Imaginative courses included:
  • Appropriate wines for each course. Often the bottle was dusty, signifying the bottle had come from the host's wine cellar
  • Salad
  • Main dish and multiple vegetables
  • A minimum of three cheeses, often local
  • Dessert
  • Coffee or tea 
  • Digestive after lunch drink
Conversation  was lively. In the beginning until my French improved, the guests spoke more slowly, but as I became more fluent, the speed increased. In general, thank goodness, the Swiss speak French more slowly than the French. I learned a lot about local politics but any topic was trotted out.

They were often surprised that I was familiar with Swiss/French popular and classical cultures as well. Between being a writer and despite being American, my intellectual level was accepted.

My partner had schooled me on Swiss manners which differed from those my New England grandmother had drilled into me.
  • I waited for everybody to be served before beginning to eat.
  • I murmured "bon appetit" before food grazed my lips as did the others.
  • I waited for my host to offer the toast, chinked my glass with everybody at the table and looked into each person's eyes before drinking.
  • I kept my wrists on the table (a punishable offense as a child), but never my elbows. 
  • My hands were NEVER in my lap.
  • I said, s'il vous plaît and merci.
  • A knife never touched my French bread and I tore it with the best of them. I did not expect butter.
  • I used my left hand for the fork and the right for my knife to push food onto my fork. This I love. It makes it easier to eat.
  • I cut any cheese served as a wheel, cut from the center into slices much like cutting a pie.
  • When I finished, I put my knife and fork parallel to one another on my plate to indicate I was finished. And I never left anything on the plate, taking only what I could eat. Many hosts would keep heaping food on my plate and filling my wine glass, and I needed to be quick to not eat or drink too much and demur politely. See number six with the word, non before it.
We would leave shortly afterward, making sure that I had shaken or cheek-kissed every other guest. Within two day I wrote and mailed a formal thank you note, making sure it was personal by mentioning something special. I needed my French checked.


It is my day to cook and I am just about to stop writing to prepare when Rick says, "Will Facebooked me and wants to have lunch in the sun."

A quick exchange of emails and we amble down the street to meet him and his partner at La Noisette which has a new sign.

We do a double-cheek kiss, although I am now the only Swiss in this anglophone group. "I hope you don't mind," she says, "I included Robin."

Wonderful. I haven't seen her since I returned from our latest trip and I see her hustling down the street.

We are all dressed casually.

Anna, the waitress, takes our orders.

Our conversation has to do with my trip to Congress, Brexit, chairs (Will has almost a museum and is an expert), our writing, tennis, golf.

It is casual and heart-warming and impromptu.

The life styles are so different--not better or worse--just different. I am happy to experience both.

One difference--the food was/is good in both.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The battle continues

FATCA is the agreement that the US has bullied countries into accepting where banks/insurance companies/investment house are required to report American accounts to the US government which fears that people are hiding money. 

Also affected is any business where an American can sign off on a bank account and any organization. If an American is married to a foreigner the non-American spouse's info is also reported to the IRS. 

Failure for the banks/insurance companies/investment house means huge fines and the possibility of being shut out of the international banking system.

Banks and employers have a solution. Don't do business with American expats and that includes accidental Americans (people who had the misfortune to be born in the US and leave as babies/children or those born of an American parent overseas whether or not they have any continuing connection to the US. They are hunted down.) 

This leaves a potential 8.7 million expats with no way to bank, have mortgages, save for retirement. Employers have no way to pay them. Not all the bad things have happened yet, but each day more and more expats are being caught up in this law

Countries have been told to change their privacy law and they've caved.

In Canada a lawsuit was thrown out. The 30th is when a US judge will decide whether to issue an injunction against the end of the month injunction on FATCA, but the US said they will delay the formalities if the countries demand it.

It is a bad law. I am not going to go into the fact that the US and Eritrea are the countries that have Citizen Based Taxation and for CBT the Eritrean ambassador was thrown out of Canada and the UN has condemned the practice for the African country. Well, okay I just did go into.

More important it hurts Americans who live outside the US borders making ordinary financial lives impossible.

Unless something is done, it will get worse before it gets better.


The knock on the door would be gentle. "You awake?"

I would be having a sleepover with my Indian friends. We might have had our own Bollywood Film Festival, a good meal and definitely good conversation.


"May I come in?"


My host, still in his PJs, would open the door. In his hands would be a cup of tea. What a way to gentle myself the day no matter if I had early or late obligations.

Having been single for decades, I reveled in it.

One of my Brit friends told about her start of the day with her husband bringing her tea in bed each morning. Although I was beyond happily single, a modicum of jealousy snuck in. I wanted the morning tea BUT not the husband.

Life is full of surprises.

A man from my past came into my life and made a very happy life even happier than I ever thought possible.

I never mentioned cups of tea, but now, every morning, a cup of tea and often a chocolate covered biscuit appears on my night table. Sometimes, I might still be asleep, or reading a chapter before getting up, but that cup of tea holds the promise of a "wicked" (Bostonian English for wonderful) day ahead.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


I am being punished by the universe for being smug about jet lag.

Two weeks ago we flew from Toulouse to Washington D.C. I hit the ground running without feeling jet lag including:
  • Having dinner with the Anti-FATCA team.
  • Visiting with six congressmen to convince them they should repeal FATCA
  • A congressional hearing on unintended consequences of FATCA
  • A press conference
  • A date with my husband at a German restaurant where the accordionist played Morgan for me
  • Amtrak to Boston
  • An afternoon wandering around Boston with a good friend I see too little of
  • Getting a new cat with my daughter (for her not me)
  • A week of solid work on a new book
  • Getting my nails done
  • Quality time with my beloved daughter
  • Watching Handmaid's Tale 
  • Eating a huge lobster at Legal Seafood
  • Taking an emotional tour of a city that I love but will probably never see again
I had conquered jet lag.

I was all powerful.

I was Wonder Woman.

On Sunday we flew home making our connector flight from Paris with seconds to spare and a two hour+ drive to Argelès where I slept part of the way. Good thing Rick was driving.

Jet lag then hit big time.

Trying to do simple tasks like walk and talk, order from a menu has become a major chore never mind I sleep when I should and stay awake when I should sleep.

I did have a moment of respite when I had a cup of espresso at l'Hostalet. However, I still feel like I'm walking thru the bottom of an aquarium.

And I can't swim.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

First manicure

It may be hard to believe that I never had a manicure in my almost 75 years. I never saw the need, nor did I want to spend the time or money.
Also I never liked nail polish colors.

My bank clerk has flowers, puppy dogs, fireworks and all kinds of designs on her nails that I adore. Makes going to the bank fun. Certainly not the boring normal colors that most people have.

Visiting my daughter in Malden, MA, I walked around her neighborhood and found a nail salon run by four members of a Vietnamese family.

There was my chance. I made an appointment.

The woman who did my nails, was my daughter's age. She used the finest brush I've ever seen, dipping it in to black, white, pink and silver bottles to paint each stroke.

I am thrilled. And it isn't boring.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

You look like

"It's him. You're Michael Moore."

We were on the Rose Kennedy walkway in Boston. The stranger lived in Boston and his sister had just arrived from Puerto Rico. Only, he was talking to my husband, who has newly curly hair. The real Michael Moore was no where around.

We tried to convince him Rick wasn't Michael. Rick is thinner and much cuter.

They wanted their picture taken with Michael.

Why not, if it made them happy.

Rick was unhappy.

"You should be complimented. Michael Moore is one of my heroes." Rick's old time conservative roots reared their clichéd ugly head. It didn't help I called him Mike a few times, mean of me.

I certainly wouldn't mind if Rick was as much of a crusader as Moore, although Rick does fight for important causes. And he definitely is cuter and thinner -- much thinner.

Friday, May 05, 2017


My husband and I are together 22/7. When we first got together, my friends, who decided he was a great guy, warned him. "Don't crowd her. She'll bolt or throw you out."

I'd been single for 41 years and loved. Yes, I had male friends including a Swiss businessman for 14 years, but we lived in separate cities and shared weekends and social events -- a perfect arrangement.

Even going on a date was more than I wanted unless it was Dutch. One man WI had Scrabble dates. He trounced me but that wasn't the reason I didn't want more.

Until Rick came into my life I had three people I could be alone with: Susie, Julia and my daughter. None of them infringed on me time as others did. They were all women.

Then I discovered a could be alone with my husband in the same room.


The independence went after my chemo treatments. I learned it was okay to need help, especially if I wouldn't make it across the room without someone holding me. I would not have eaten if he hadn't cooked.

We don't have to be together. He goes off on errands or plays golf. I go off on errands and visit with my girl friends, but mostly we are together.

If we are not in our own little writing worlds we may be eating (sit down lunchtimes are almost sacrosanct), playing games, watching TV or DVDs, on photo safari, or talking.

We walk a lot, sharing minutia.
  • I saw Jenny when I went for bread
  • The  beige cat is back on the Mamie's lap
  • There's a snail on the patio.

This week I am having a wonderful time at my daughter's near Boston. He is in Florida running a helicopter conference (not learning to be more of a helicopter husband). There are quick FB messages and an email report or two. Not the same thing.

My wonderful time with my daughter precludes that I miss him and will be glad when he are back to normal 22/7.

He's at the airport now. Almost in hugging range.

Thursday, May 04, 2017


Both my former housemate and husband were surprised to find a book in the freezer.

I explained that they had snakes in them. If I left them on or near the bed, it would give me nightmares.

I know snakes don't move when frozen. Thus the freezer.

They nodded in that let's-humor-her way they do.

I am at my daughter's and after three nights up and looked more closely at her needlework.

Oooppps--a snake.

I surmised she wouldn't want it in her freezer.

Choice two was to sleep with the light on to preserve our good relationship.

It worked.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

My Last Duchess

  I always have had trouble following directions, not because I don't understand them, but because there are more interesting ways to go.
    Thus in my senior year of university in Victorian Poetry, when the assignment was to analyze the poem, My Last Duchess, rather than do it in an academic bent, I wrote it as if I were psychiatrist with the Duke as a patient in an insane asylum having murdered his wife.
    Probably, my desire to be a creative writer was rearing out of control. Instead of giving me my paper back, the professor said to see her after class.
    She was a small, gray-haired woman, serious, a medium-interesting lecturer, impassioned by her subject. My paper was on her desk without a grade.
   "I don't know what to do with this. It isn't academic, but you have picked up all the major points."
    She sighed. "And after reading the same thing over and over, this was fun." She folded her hands under her chin, looked at me, looked at the paper, looked at me, looked at the paper. Than she picked up her red pencil.

    A+. "Don't try this in grad school," she said falsely assuming I would be going to grad school. I was considered one of the serious students that could build a place in academia. My ex-husband was still fuming about my being an under-grad. No way would I go on to the next step.  
    I did go on, however to be a professional writer. And I still love the poem. 

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


I've never lived nor will I ever live in my daughter's home. Yet at the same time during my week visit I feel at home despite our very different decorating styles.

Both of us cram memories into the house, some of which are mine also.

The owl candle I gave my mother on one of the times we weren't at war. It went to Europe with me after her death and back again with my daughter many years later. The panther candle was a gift to her from me given sometime in the 90s and bought at the annual candle fair in Grand Saconnex.

The Catalan dancer is so typical of where I live now. Llara's walls are covered with her needlework, a life-long hobby taught to her by my late best friend of 53 years. One piece was in my Riverway condo decades ago, an honor place over a dry sink that I refinished in Swedish style that neither of us have.

A Café du Soleil calendar for 2017, a favorite Geneva haunt of us both. Llara doesn't feel she's in Switzerland until she's had a fondue. Rick and I went there the night we reconnected. The Geneva Writers Group that helped my writing so much met there for years. Each year I send her the new calendar with its original theme.

A photo of her as a child with my Dad hangs in the spare room. It was Christmas, strange to be warm instead of freezing, but then my Dad was living in Florida, his lifelong dream.

A MASH star poster given to us by an artist friend shortly after the series end and his framing showed his imagination. He had happened to drop artwork off as we were watching the last episode and having a MASH party.

It is not the material value of any of the items, but the memories that are buried within. We both feel our homes are sanctuaries. I hear people talking of their home as investments, which they are, but also of trading up. 

Llara's and my homes are investments, but investments in memories that tell of our hearts and souls.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Mixed feelings

Most likely this will be the last time I will be in my birth country. I am trying to eat all the things not easily obtained in Europe if at all.

I did not expect to find apple cider at this time of year. Yes I like the French cider (so good with crepes). My daughter bought English muffins to go with Stouffer's welsh rarebit, but we can't find it.
There's a Dunkin' Donuts around the corner so I know I will be able to get my raisin cinnamon bagels.
And there's the breakfast place also around her corner where we will eat next Saturday as we have each time we are here.

Even if there is corn in the stores, it is not freshly picked. I would love to get some seeds and have a neighbor plant it, but I don't want to risk introducing GMO into the area. That will have to be a memory taste.