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


January 30, 1939 almost 100,000 people arrived in the tiny village of Argelès-sur-mer. They were freeing Franco and the Spanish Civil War. More would come. They were herded into concentration camps on the freezing beach and reinforcements were called in.

The people of the region continue to think of themselves as Catalan on both sides of the French-Spanish border. I wouldn't dare call any of the oldsters in my village, French. They are Catalan.

To show their pride in their heritage, all the street signs are slowly becoming double: One in French and one with the ancient Catalan name and the Catalan flag.

Barcelona wants to hold a referendum to become a separate country, free of Spain. The Madrid government does not want to lose the richest part of their country and has taken draconian measures to stop it including arrests.

It could turn ugly quickly...Syria's civil war started with a few demonstrations. Cracking down only brought more and more resistence.

Polls have showed if there were a referendum, the separation movement would lose by a small measure, but with the reaction of Madrid, I can see more people who were against separation changing their minds.

Stay tuned. The worse has yet to come.


Saturday, September 23, 2017


"Ridiculous," Daphne said.

 It was early evening and we were sitting at Coté Place with fresh-fruit-chocked sangria and Mattieu's homemade tapenade. Our husbands were with us.

The square was rather quiet. Melinda, the hotel cat, was checking out what other creatures were around, before finding a perch just inside the door on the counter.

"What is?" I asked.

"Every morning when we get up we ask 'How did you sleep?'" She sighed. "We never did that when we were young."

Discussing snoring, number of trips to the toilet in the night, comfort of temperature certainly isn't romantic.

Most morning, Rick and I discuss our sleeping. Thank goodness we also discuss plans for the day, what we are reading--any number of topics. But I really want to know if he did sleep well. If that makes me old, so be it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

golf, etc.

We're spending a month in Scotland. I came for the writers, the history and the feel of this wonderful country.

Rick came for the golf. This is not a complaint.Today is the day he is to play, the first rounds of many I hope.

When we woke the rain was slathering down. I could still see the giant tree out of the window, that I had thought was a small hill.

"I like playing in the rain, he said. "It keeps the people off the course." In realty, he said women not people, but if I wrote that he would sound like a male chauvinist pig, which he definitely is NOT!

We still had time for our gentle-into-morning routine of books, tea and biscuits. Just as I was about to sip my tea, I read Bill Bryson mentioning tea and biscuits. Although the book was written in 1991, he also wrote of Donald Trump.

Rick went happily off to his golf game, I am happily using the rainy day to write.

Life is good!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

musical houses

Move one house to the right when the music stops. Or so it seems.

Two years ago we were planning a house sit with a cat, Allison and her husband in one of my favorite cities-Edinburgh. It turned into a house swap with our place in Argelès-sur-mer...but then I was diagnosed with cancer. No need for them to cancel, since my treatment would be in Geneva and the Southern France apartment, which we call The Warren, would be free.

I would have preferred Edinburgh to the chemo rooms at the hospital, but the chemo worked.

Since then, whenever they went away they told us we could use their place. Finally the dates matched and we arrived Sunday night to their extremely homey house. They are in the States but their charming son met us, and showed us where things were. We are planning on four weeks here.

Meanwhile we had thought about getting a dog and asked our friends Barbara and Don, who house sit all over the world if they would sit for us. They had planned to be in Argelès anyway. We didn't get the dog, but suggested they house sit anyway, which worked out well because the mink (red blanket) we ordered a lifetime ago and had given up on-to a point we had the credit card company back off payment-arrived.

However, Don and Barbara were coming slightly earlier, so we suggested they stay in The Nest. The studio, two doors down which I had planned for retirement. As a single person, its fine but is too small for a couple long term...fine for a romantic week or so.

They arrived, settled in The Nest for a few days then moved down to The Warren, the two bedroom flat where we live about half the year, the morning we left.

Meanwhile a friend from high school, Lee, who has been planning to visit for years said she finally had the time. It would be while we were away. She had combined a multi-week stop as part of another trip. She was slated into The Nest while we were gone. Mega disappointment because I would have loved to spend time with her.
Our house sitters  to the rescue. I have no worries that they will all get along famously. Since they've sit cats, dogs, chickens and horses, a friend sit would be easy. Lee doesn't need to be walked and fed is optional. She cleans up after herself.

After Lee leaves and we get back, Don and Barbara will go back to The Nest until they move on to their next house sit.

Hopefully we will all live happily ever after.

There will be a quiz on who is where when.

Monday, September 18, 2017


I was starved. We entered the Lowdown coffee. It was small, just a few table with a good selection of calorie-ladened cakes, croissants, pain au chocolate and pain au raisins.

Two people were working.

The man was carefully putting coffee beans into silver cups and then sealing them.

My mother and my father would talk to anyone. As a child I never knew if I should know them or not.

I had to ask why.

He explained it was a quality control so each cup would have the same strength.

I picked up on his accent. Yes, he was from Paris and we spoke in French for a bit. He knew of Argelès and had been working there for two weeks having moved from London.

Meanwhile Rick was chatting with the waitress.

It made petit déjeuner much more interesting than just a good pastry and cup of tea.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Powerful words

The words were powerful. It was the launch of the 14th edition of Offshoots, the writings of the Geneva Writers Group. Both the literary magazine and the group were the brainchild of Susan Tiberghien (photo above) started in 1993.

It grew to almost 250 members and many published authors came out of it. I attribute the boost to my writing career to the inspiration of the workshops, master classes and conferences as well as the encouragement of other writers.

The readings from Offshoots last night often brought tears to my eyes. The theme was fragility and because we have many members who write in English as a second language and who have stories of war and being refugees the ability to shape essays, poems and short stories grabbed my heart.

It is an honor to have been part of the group and to associate with so much talent.
Contributor to Offshoots.

Friday, September 15, 2017


The first mink (no not an animal and not made of animal) was on Wigglesworth Street in Boston. The thick blanket was owned by my former housemate, a gift a cousin had brought her from was the ultimate in warm and cozy.

When my roommate moved  to New Jersey, she gave it to my daughter (much better than inheriting it from said roommate's death). When we visited my daughter in Boston, Rick fell in love with it.

My Syrian friend who lives in Paris has one, although we did not use it when we were there during the heatwave.

When we got back to Argelès, Rick went on-line and ordered one. We waited and waited and waited and waited and...

Calls produced nothing.

A check of the Better Business Bureau produced a "Oh Oh" and we called our credit card company to back off the payment.

We are now in our Geneva home. People staying in our Argèles flat Facebooked us to say it had arrived.

When Barbara wrote and said how heavy it was I responded, "I am looking for a crane with a remote to pull it off us in the morning."

She responded, "You may need it. Don suggested ropes and pulleys."

Time to reactivate the payment and wait for our chilly winter nights.

No animals were harmed in the making of the blanket.