Thursday, December 27, 2018

The last brownie

The last picture show
The last song
The last word with Lawrence O'Donnell
The last of the Mohicans
And the last of the brownies.

We've had Julia's brownies, the best in the world, a highly valued Christmas gift, which we've been rationing. We were also given a chocolate and nut candy made by a Spanish friend. Beyond wonderful. Same little bites to make it last longer.

Both Rick and I want the other to have the last bite, so the remainders get smaller and smaller and smaller. 

The crumbs will be memories, wonderful Christmas 2018 memories.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Falcon 6X

Ever since I was inside a Falcon private plane, I have kidded my husband I want their new Falcon 6X.

I imagine myself calling my pilot and saying, we'll meet you at Perpignan for a flight to Geneva this afternoon.

Then I imagine myself in the interior ala Criminal Minds on the way to a crime flying over Grenoble on the way home rather than taking the train or the long drive. Perhaps we will be able to make a snack in the kitchen. To be frugal, we didn't buy one with a shower.

I have to remind myself that for over 20 years I didn't even want a car. And the two cars we have owned were both used costing far less than the 6X would.

Well my husband gave me the Falcon 6X, a great feat considering it is still being built. This is a model. A big one as models go. Now all I would have to do to enter it would be to shrink myself down to the size of a Lego woman to enter.

I suspect that this is the only 6X I will have. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


According to one travel guide, Zurich has been James Joyce free since 1941. Joyce died there.

I have had a love/hate relationship with Joyce. Loved the Dubliners, started to fight my way through Portrait Artist as a Young Man as a university literature major and ended up treasuring it.

However, Ulysses and I have never been friends. Over the years I've tried to read it several times and by page 47, I give up saying life is too short. The last time I tried was over a decade ago after going through his home in Dublin.

I have joked that my tombstone should read "She never read Ulysesses."

I should have known something was up by the twinkle in my husband's eye as I opened one of my Christmas gifts. It was obviously a book, one of several that were my gifts. Our plan was to spend Christmas Eve reading our gift books like they do in Iceland.

Egad! Ulysses. It was a used copy bought at the English Library Sale.

My husband has a great sense of humor and I think I will try to get to page 48 this time. Maybe next year page 49 and 2020 50...

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Our dog, our baby

If BBC's supervet Neil Fitzpatrick can call the owners of the animals he treats, Mummy and Daddy or Father and Mother, than Rick and I can call Sherlock, our four-footed baby and each other Daddy and Mufti (corruption of the German Mutti).

In the year we've had this pup, he's changed out lives, usually for the better. We walk more. I would say we laugh more, but we laughed a lot before, the woman at the Spa (animal shelter) put this wiggly ball of fur with a kissing tongue in my arms. Any memories of asking for an older female disappeared.

We've been through potty training, command training (with still some left to go), learning how to sleep in a bed when 7 kilos of pup takes up 80%+ of the mattress.

We've learned his many sounds which means anything from I want to go for a walk to play with me and many words in between.

We get a whole new pleasure in going to the beach or a field and have him run zoomies, a crazy circle. We've also learned to take him there to wear him out.

He must sometimes think his name is No or Stop It.

At our age, Rick and I will never have real children, but Sherlock works well as a substitute. And we don't have to worry about college tuition.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Take 6

This is Rick's and my sixth Christmas together.

Tonight is the winter solstice and we have our solstice bush (tomorrow it will be a Christmas tree) decorated.

Because we were in Geneva, we were afraid of not getting a small enough tree, Galdric, our local florist, saved one for us that turned out to be perfect.

The tree has the wooden decorations that my daughter and I painted when she was three. Hers still have to be on the tree. Staying in the lines isn't important when you're three and maybe at other ages too. Also there is a sheep made by my former assistant's daughter, and an ornament offered by an eight-year old twin who came to our tree decorating party last year.

And there are the stockings Llara lovingly embroidered for Rick and I. Years ago when she made mine, this one was originally suppose to be hers, but after my Japanese Chin Albert peed on it, she washed the yarn and gave it to me.

Rick and I have been adding our own decorations. My favorite is Santa in a kilt bought during our month in Edinburgh.  I look at him and I can almost hear the bagpipes.

We don't put lights on the tree. I don't put live candles either, although many Swiss do. When I got my Swiss nationality, there were some traditions that did not automatically become part of my DNA, and that is one. Working for the National Fire Protection Association a few decades back seeps through on it is a bit too dangerous.

The Christmas carols playing the fire in the chimera on the patio right outside the window all made the evening special. With Rick, however, many things that might be considered by others as ordinary are special for no other reason than we share them.

Some years I've hosted a big meal. Some years we've eaten at others' homes. Some years we've gone to a restaurant, but this year we are doing something different.

Christmas Eve will be raclette, champagne and present opening. We decided to follow the Icelandic tradition of giving a book, then going to bed and reading it. Since Rick and I often share what it is written as examples of good, bad, funny, sad writing it will be a nice together night.

Christmas day we are going to Sigean, a drive-thru African park. I've been there before and am looking forward to sharing it with him. The restaurant is open. If for any reason we can't get a meal that satisfies us, we'll have a chicken ready at home as back up.

Boxing Day we've been invited to a buffet lunch with friends.

Then the days will begin to grow longer, the new year will begin. Life is good.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Rick and I are trying to use less plastic.

It ain't easy.

We can switch from plastic soda bottles to canned only to have six packs wrapped in plastic.

Finding bottle juice is often more expensive, although when locally produced healthier, I suspect.

We wanted bamboo toothbrushes to find recyclable ones at the bio store.

We did find bar shampoo (see photo of what looks like a do-nut above), but not the conditioner. YET! I tried it today and my hair is clean. I've always felt by shampoo is like shopping in the fruit section of the grocery store and much of the publicity is just hype.

Detergent comes in powder and boxes.

We already do not use plastic containers but mason jars and beewax wrapping paper. I never liked or used cling film if I could help it.

I doubt if the oceans will automatically empty of plastic just because I use less, but maybe others will be doing the same. No matter what we will be producing less trash to carry out.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple Stupid

My lovely husband bought me a food processor for Geneva. We have one for Argelès. Only it didn't work.

Today we took it back to exchange it.



The client service woman was probably in her mid twenties, long black hair and very attractive. "Pas de problème," she said.

She took out a pamphlet with a number to call to get a code. Once we had the code we could either exchange the food processor or get a refund.

Rick's mobile wouldn't connect.

She tried her phone.

No answer.

She explained if it wasn't broken, we could have exchanged it. I admired the way she kept her cool. I wasn't going to harass her.

"Forget," we said. "I know it isn't your fault, it's the process dur," the phrase the French use to explain the many steps one has to go through to accomplish even the simplest task.

"I know it isn't your fault," I said. "Please tell your manager, you've lost a customer forever because of the process dur.

The food processor is back home with us.We will probably just throw it out.

Friday, December 14, 2018


EMC has nothing to do with Einstein. It stands for Early Morning Cuddle.

When my daughter was little mornings could be stressful, but there were those mornings when we danced to "The Candy Man" didn't argue about what to wear and were out of the house in a non-stress way.

Those mornings were made for EMCs. My roommate and I would be on each side of my daughter and we'd give her big hmmmmmmmmmmmm kisses. I don't know if she remembers them or not, but it meant chatting on the way to day care and her rushing off to join her friends with nary a wave.

Fast forward almost a half a decade.

Rick and I enjoy tea, a book, and cuddle before starting our day. Since getting Sherlock we will wake to find him with his head on the pillow, his body under the covers. We read less, cuddle less but he gets EMCs from both of us, rubbing his proffered tummy and telling him what a good boy he is.

Like my daughter, he eats up the affection.

I only wish he could learn to read.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Best Beggar

I've met the best beggar ever.

Place: Rive, downtown Geneva.

A young man with short hair, well-trimmed beard, clean clothes came up and asked if I spoke English or Spanish?


"I'm from Barcelona," he said.

"Catalan?" I asked.

"I don't believe in borders. I'm traveling the world. So far I've been to 46 countries." He handed me his card (photo) above.

He explained he got by with the help of others. Sometimes for a meal, a bed. Something always comes through.

"You would like some money?"


I looked in my wallet. "Are Euros okay?"

"Whatever you want to do."

I wish I'd had more time. I would have bought him coffee and maybe a sandwich. But I didn't.

Maybe it was a sham. There was a woman in Boston who begged with the story that her car broke down and she had to get back to Connecticut with her kids." The first time I gave her money. Over the years, she approached me at least a half a dozen times. I would remind her, and we'd laughed. One time I gave her money just because she was such a good actress.

"You are the best beggar, I've ever met," I told him.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

No divorce

Rick and I won't be getting a divorce despite going grocery shopping together. For those of you know how well we get along doing almost everything, you will be surprised to know grocery shopping isn't anywhere on the list.

In Geneva we can't avoid the supermarkets. Gone are the friendly chats with the green grocery, the teasing about my accent, a recipe from the butcher, catching up on local news, the smell of bread fresh from the oven at the bakery. In its place are aisles and aisles of stuff, stuff we don't need.

He and I have very different methods when we go into a supermarket. He wanders up and down the aisles in case we might need something not on the list. It has a practicality to it.

I have my list and go straight to the item and feel a failure if I buy much other than what is on the list.

There is one exception -- an Italian grocery store on Long Island where each aisle is more glorious than the previous one. Unfortunately, I am never there long enough to sample all the goodies.

Today we crossed the border to shop in France. Because we are heading south on Sunday, Gilets Jaunes permitting, we were buying not a great deal, but more stuff to have when we come back.

We are also trying not to buy stuff in plastic, which is a challenge.

It wasn't all bad. No arguments over how soft the toilet paper should be.

He accepted I didn't mean to hit him when I pointed at the shampoo aisle. I didn't mean to. Honest.

He didn't mention that I needed a lesson on how to pack groceries to carry them to car (maybe when I pointed out the time he did, that I'd been packing groceries well over a half a century without the lesson he knew it was better not to mention it a second time). I let him pack.

I am grateful that Rick does most of the grocery store shopping. He is grateful I don't go with him.

We left smiling and went into the beautiful clear air. The snow-covered mountains were a reward for having to have shopped. However, most times, we will go individually. For the sake of our marriage.

Monday, December 10, 2018


One year ago today, we were at the Perpignan Spa looking for a rescue dog named Mila. We were planning to offer her to our favorite homeless man who had just lost his beloved dog. The dog wasn't there.

"But we have other dogs," the pony-tailed worker said. She went behind the counter and pulled out one wiggly multi-breed three month old puppy and put him in my arms. As the French say, "It was a coup de foudre.

The past year has been full of laughter, loves and licks, snuggles and silliness, sometimes frustration and joy as this bundle of fur was growing.

I didn't mind so much the sox chewed, the shoes found in his horde, Kleenex ripped apart. I did mind when he chewed the quilt my grandmother gave me (photo above).

Like all puppies he took a lot of time and work repeating commands, teaching limits. He's almost there. His heeling is non existent and his down means a look that says, "You don't really mean that, do you?"

Overall it has been a wonderful year. And our homeless man has found a new dog, too.

Happy Anniversary Sherlock. We will treat you to a special meal today!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

The perfect pen

I am not a shopper. I don't want more than one of anything with an exception of pens, which I collect, but only when I find an exceptional one. Thus I have a silver pen with a green plume and an all-glass pen. And of course, there is the special fountain pen given to us by the village of Corsier when we married.

I only use fountain pens, all special.

We were at a Christmas Market in Ferney-Voltaire, France just across from Geneva. One of the vendors had hand-made fountain pens. Since I didn't have the money with me, I took the people's card and web information intending to order one as soon as I was home.

Instead, my wonderful husband, decided it would be an early Christmas present. The pen maker added a small piece of the stone from which the pen was made.

It writes beautifully, although I won't use it until after Christmas. And it fits all of my three criteria before I bring anything into my home.

1. It is useful.
2. It is beautiful
3. It has a memory of being with people I love and don't see often enough, a memory of the Christmas market, and another memory of the generosity of the man I adore.

Friday, December 07, 2018


I admit it. I am growing older.

Before I had chemo and had red hair, I was never offered a seat on the bus. My hair grew back white. Almost always some young man stands up and gives me his seat now.

I take it.

There has to be an advantage to age among the disadvantages.

I like to think it is my gray hair. My skin is relatively unwrinkled which may be more do to genetics than age.

There's another sign of aging. Suddenly, I'm surrounded by youngsters.

I met with my dental surgeon today. When he came into the surgery,  I thought he was a kid, a cute, sandy-haired kid.

It didn't help that he brought up the wrong patient X-ray and couldn't understand why I was missing a tooth on the wrong side of my mouth. The explanation was simple. I was early, the patient he thought I was was late rather than he didn't do his kindergarten homework.

From there on he mumbled like an embarrassed teenager what the procedure would be. Since my regular dentist, who looks like he is just out of high school, is fantastic.

However, when I do get my implant, I may bring some toy trucks or Legos for the surgeon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Gender equality

You win some, you lose some.

When I moved to Switzerland in the early 90s, if I had been married I would have had to ask my husband's permission to open a bank account. As much as I love this country, as a card-carrying member of NOW, this did not sit well.

I wasn't married then. I am now.

For almost 20 years I filed my taxes under my number, my name. Being married, we have to file jointly and it is under his name and number, although my contributions count. How to be erased.

There have been other examples. A company didn't give a new department head the office of her predecessor because the powers-that-be felt the men that reported to her would resent her for having more space than they did.

Help wanted ads could still use words describing the looks of a female candidate.

On the positive side, the Swiss parliament just passed 99 to 88 a requirement that businesses with 100+ employees have to regularly examine pay equity between the sexes.

It is still a man's world.