Tuesday, October 31, 2017


There is the saying that the U.S. and England are separated by a single language.

We know the familiar ones "Hood/Bonnet, Fall/Autumn, etc.

There are the ones less known in the U.S. like gobsmacked and peckish.

Some are half known like tea can be a complete meal and pudding is any dessert.

Many of the English language books I get are from the U.K. What I notice you don't see much of is a period after abbreviations like Dr, Mr, Mrs, etc.

I was taught that the period meant there was more to come, which is silly because a period is often called a full stop in the U.K.

When Ms was introduced years ago, there was to be no period after it because it wasn't an abbreviation. Now I see it does have a period.


Monday, October 30, 2017


Despite the Tramantane blowing the marché was open as vendors of food, clothes, jewelry and household goods set up.

Our first stop was Mille et une for breakfast. They had just remodeled allowing for more local jams, honey, cookies products to be displayed on the shelves. A cookie/biscuit table was in the middle, with gloves and bags to pick and choose. It reminded me of the special shop in the walled city of Carcassonne.

The new arrangement of chairs will make for comfy conversations with friends over tea, coffee or hot chocolate, because now is the hot chocolate season.

Rick and I were discussing the word cocoa in comparison to hot chocolate or chocolate chaud. Somehow to us cocoa seems the most appealing even if they are made identically.

We ordered our demi pullet, roasted on a spit next to La Noisette. The smell of roasting chicken carries all the way to our flat a block away.

Swiss chard, tomatoes were on our shopping list as we passed the tables.

Although we stopped at the brownie lady, we still had some from last week, but two pieces of apple tart were destined for our afternoon tea.

Our final destination was a café sit with friends who will be leaving all too soon. Other friends drifted in both locals and from Ireland for the school holiday and we talked about Catalan independence among other varied topics. L’Hostalet is a bit of weather miracle. In the summer heat, it can be the coolest place in the village yet on a day like today it was sheltered from the wind.
 There were new singers to entertain us.

The church bells rang at noon. The bangs and scrapes of the vendors closing down echoed across the square.

We said goodbyes and headed home to eat our chicken and veggies grateful that we have an alternative to cold impersonal supermarkets.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Today is my favorite day: the day I get the hour back that was stolen from me in the spring.

Okay, okay... I understand that it isn't really stolen or returned.

Our days are filled: chores like cooking, washing, cleaning.

We see friends, chat in cafés.

We buy bread still warm at the bakery, meat from our local butcher.

We read, write, watch news or a DVD.

We even pay bills and take care of paperwork.

Almost every day we look at the clock and think...It's five o'clock or seventeen hours. Where did they day go?

Most people change their clocks before going to bed--or those that remember the change is today. I wait until 5 (17h) and think...NOW! I am given another hour.

I realize that clocks and time measurement is a man-made invention. Before anything walked the planet, the earth turned. Days grew longer or shorter all on its own.

Years of working and juggling life, child raising and modern life made me almost a slave to time.

But today, today I can look at the clocks still in summer time, and stick my tongue out. I have another hour.

Friday, October 27, 2017


The first time I was aware of men as attackers was when I was 11.

I was at the dentist, always an unhappy experience. He did not believe in Novocaine.

He began to dry his non-wet hands on future breasts, his fingers closing and opening on the towel covering my blouse. When I told my mother, we changed dentists. Strangely, my mother, who was overprotective to the point of absurdity, said the same thing happened to her. Why she sent me to that dentist I will never understand.

One of my first professional jobs in the 70s, the head of accounting was known to hire assistants for their breast sizes. They put up with it, until one woman went screaming to HR. He was fired, something that amazed the rest of the staff.

A another firm "watch out for the CEO" was part of the introduction to the company for all pretty young women.

There have been bosses who delight in telling dirty jokes and expect laughter. Most weren't funny.

My experiences are minor compared to many but there are too many then and now. Will it get better or will the issue die away as most news stories?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Ladder

My writing mate Lydia and I are back meeting, seeing someone, than writing for ten minutes using that person as an "object," "trigger" or "victim." Today an early morning rain stopped and we went to L'Hostalet and drank tea while we wrote.

Today's  "trigger was a man walking across La Place de Republique carrying a ladder. Here is my draft.


"Damn ladder," he muttered as he walked across La Place de Republique carrying a ladder.

He stepped in a puddle. "I should have put on shoes instead of these stupid sandals. Stupid weather. Rainy one minute, sunny the next."

He changed hands and when he grabbed the wooden step, he felt a prick. He put the ladder against a green light pole. A splinter, too small to be removed by his fingers mocked him. He would have to wait until he delivered the damned ladder to his bitchy sister-in-law before he could go home and get the tweezers. He wasn't going to ask that bitch for anything.

Why couldn't she buy her own stupid ladder

Two little girls ran by him laughing. Noisy brats. Where were their parents letting them run wild.

Laughter came from the café across the Place. They never should let it open, he thought. Disturbs us all.

His sister-in-law's house was painted sandy pink with baby blue shutters. She had flowers on the balconies of the second and third floors and big pots of flowers on each side of her door, which Maria opened.

When she hugged him, he shuddered. Cheek kisses were bad enough.

"You're so kind to me," she said.


"Give my love to my sister," she said aloud and under her breath added, "being married to you, she needs it."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Traveling light

We've just spent a month in Edinburgh, a wonderful city.

I try and travel with as little as possible. I survived a month on...
  • One skirt
  • Two pairs of jeans
  • Two turtle neck shirts
  • Two sweaters
  • Two bras
  • Two books (bought and read five others thanks to the charity shops)
  • Five pairs of under pants
  • Three pairs of socks
  • Two pairs of boots
  • One nightdress (which I now hate)
  • Kindle
  • Laptop
  • Mouse
  • Mousepad
  • Telephone (forgot the cord)
  • Meds
  • Makeup
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Coat (had to buy gloves and hat)
On the way back, Rick took the overflow of books bought and he combined all the electronics. If I'd been traveling alone I'd have had my tiny suitcase and my laptop case.

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. http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.ch/

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.