Thursday, October 17, 2019

Quiz Night

"The theme is torture that should be given to those who cheat on quizzes," Mark, the bulky quiz master said. "That will be the name of your team." We decided our team of two would be Exile.

We were at the pub around the corner, The Inverleith, from where we are staying in Edinburgh for the second time. It was Rick's first pub quiz.

It was rather crowded but we found a seat. We knew we were at a disadvantage because larger teams would have more knowledge, especially of things like local sports and music. As for TV we have seen enough British TV to have a fighting chance, except that category never came up. Nor did sports. Whew.

The first ten questions were about movies. Easy Peasy the first three questions. Then it got a little more difficult. Our results were acceptable.

Then came music -- 10 for 10 -- blank.

Science as slightly better and thank goodness for Art and Literature.

All in all it could be worse. We came in second, from last.

But we had lots of fun. We'll do it again sometime, some where.

Rick did a dueling blog

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

American wish

Llara, Rick and I were at Carcassonne airport waiting for our flight to Edinburgh. I took my daughter's passport and started thumbing through, checking her border stamps. At the top of each page was a sentence.

They were what I USED TO BELIEVE my birth country stood for.

"The principle of free government adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains." Daniel Webster

"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair." George Washington

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
U.S Constitution

"We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God that America will be true to her dream." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Let every nation know,whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,,support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." John F. Kennedy.

"This is a new nation, based on a mighty continent of boundless possibilities." Theodore Roosevelt

"Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the word must first come to pass in the heart of America." Dwight D. Eisenhower

"For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest of sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We say, 'Farewell?'Is a new world coming? We welcome it -- and we will bend it to the hopes of man." Lyndon B. Johnson

"May God continue the unity of our country as the railroad unites the two great oceans of the world."
Golden Spike, Promontory Point 1869

"We send thanks to all the Animal Life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are glad they are still here and we hope it will always be so." Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version.

"The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party of a class -- it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity." Anna Julia Cooper.

I hope it gets back to living those ideals.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Genetic talking

"How do you know them?" As a preteen decades ago, I had stood by and listened to either my mother or father talk-talk-talk with someone on the street, in a store, at an event, anywhere.

"I don't know them," they would reply. "It doesn't matter." They didn't say they knew them a little bit after the conversations.

This morning with my husband in London, it was my duty to walk Sherlock, who graciously waited until six.

Outside, the smells of baking bread and roasting chicken made getting out of bed worthwhile.

Vendors were beginning to set up their tables and stalls for the Saturday marché.

One vendor, a woman, looked at my pup and said in French, "He's so cute."

"Dis merci," I told Sherlock than wished her a good sales day when his tail wag was the closest thing to a thank you he could find.

After many pee-mails and sniffs around the village we passed the vendor again. "It's a lot of work setting up and taking the stuff down," I said in French.

"Yes, but I love it. I've been doing it 30 years."

We then chatted about how work can be satisfying compared to doing nothing, their freedoms as a self-employed despite the uncertainty... a week of rain can mean no marchés and if the veggies are already bought a double loss. She asked about me and I shared my checkered nationalities, my writing, my husband, where we lived here and in Geneva.

I talk to strangers regularly if they are open to it and most are. I kinda look for those that will be open. I have discovered fascinating snippets of peoples' lives which in turn have enriched my life.

I can't help myself. It's in my genetic makeup.

Monday, October 07, 2019

A proud wrinkly

I first heard the term wrinkly before I was one.

My friend (a man whom I call the brother I always wanted) and I were about to go to a Barclay James Harvest concert at the then Noga Hilton Theatre in Geneva. He had introduced me to the group when I was first in Switzerland.

At the time he was 29 and I was 47. Not wrinklies by any means. They were playing in Lausanne and I loved them.

We were then in our 50s and 60s. They were doing a reunion concert.  His wife didn't want to go saying, there would be "too many wrinklies."

Thanks to good genes, my skin has been slow to wrinkle. Strangely my left cheek has a few more lines than my right. I've been told that I look younger than my years, but who in their right mind would tell someone they looked older than their years.

Still, the term wrinkly fits for those of us who are aging. I don't mind it although others may.

Years ago, when still in my early 40s I read an essay by a woman who claimed she never lied about her age. She asked that if she lied, which year of her life would be eliminated and went on to name important events, good and bad. Those years made her who she was that moment.

My hair is white. I wanted to stop dyeing it for years but hated having to see roots as it grew out. Chemo helped by removing all the old red number 666 (yes that was the number on the box). I've read that more and more women are preferring to go gray. It looks more natural.

Even when I am shocked at how many years I've lived, I am equally happy at how well I've lived. Not because I'm rich in money, but rich in all the things that count and especially in love both received and given.

So call me a wrinkly. I've earned every little crevice...

Sunday, October 06, 2019

A special gift

It was a simple gift, but a very special one, a book: Images of America Reading. I grew up and spent about a third of my life in that Massachusetts town which was founded in 1639.

My roots, even as a Swiss and an ex-American will always be New England Yankee, right down to my great grandmother’s bean pot.

Many of the photos I recognized, some I did not. Words like Torre, Willis Drug Store, Harrow’s chicken pot pie, Red Farms, sent warm wriggles through me.

I noticed how many small businesses were in existence and not just stores. It represented a different economy, a local economy. Only a few days before being given the book, I’d talked to my husband about Ace Corners, those little triangles we used to fasten photos into albums.

I’ve been back to Reading in the last ten years and it was different while being the same. It was like almost remembering where things were. Unlike many towns, it has not been deserted with boarded up storefronts abounding.

The book is one of a series about towns in the US. Each has a personal history as important to preserve as the big events. It’s like lots of pennies make up a dollar. Lots of stories about people make up a country.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Marché musings

There are so many reasons that marché shopping is so rewarding rather than just going to a supermarket. Yuck

A Catalan lady had pumpkins. Unlike in the US, they aren't everywhere. We noticed next to the pumpkins and gourds, a green veggie that we didn't know what it we asked. Not only did she give us the name (which I can't spell) she told me to boil it, peel it, and then mash it adding olive oil (preferred), butter and maybe parsley. It can also be roasted, she said. Then she asked where Sherlock was. She agreed the marché with all those ankles and feet is not a good place for him. I  will try it Monday.

When I got them home, I added  a couple of googly eyes. Maybe I should have done a third.

Going back out we ran into our friend/builder and discussed the project for the Nest: minor repairs and painting.

We gave empty cartons to the egg lady as we bought her eggs. She has lots of chickens but we always recycle our cartons. Another woman came by with empty cartons. The egg lady says she either has none or a surplus. Surplus is better.

We met two friends from Provincetown, MA who are visiting. They were buying marché clothes for their winter in Mexico.

A quick stop at the art gallery to see the latest exhibition. The curator (also a friend) explained why the paintings were so dark. The artist lost all his family in the Holocaust. She applauded that I likened them in style to Rembrandt who was an influence.

At the librarie (bookstore) the owner pointed out that they had another writer who also had English Translations  and she was signing. She is a dual citizen and we had a long chat and I hope we can get together when we can arrange it.

We stopped by Les Gourmandise de Pauline. We'd seen on Facebook that she had made oreo cheesecake and we bought two for our afternoon tea. In chatting with Pauline, a lovely and hard working young woman, she talked about visiting her brother in Lake Havasu City. I told her I had worked for them in Boston. At the time sales people working from leads decided who might be a perspective buyer and then sent them on their private planes to see property. Mondays when the sales results were in was always exciting. Getting people on the flight didn't count. Getting buyers on the planes did.

We looked at scarves from one of the stands and told a couple of buyers how there are youtubes to show all the ways to tie scarves.

We stopped at L'Hostalet, the hotel/café near us. Hot chocolate for Rick, tea for me and their special mini cakes was great.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019


I don't understand.

Why do those who have so much begrudge others who have so little.

Take Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world. Yes, he build a tremendous empire often on the backs of others.

Why then would he refuse medical insurance to his part time workers. It would only cost him a couple hours of his pay, if that.

It is not just Bezos. U.S Congressmen who have great health care and pensions want to reduce or eliminate both to those that live ordinary lives. Most are millionaires.

This is just two examples of too many.

Years ago my roommate and my three-year old daughter were on the way to the swimming pool. My roommate picked up the ball.

My daughter grabbed the ball. "Mine."

My roommate said nothing until my daughter reached for the towel. "Mine,"  my roommate said. She repeated the same thing to everything my daughter touched. My daughter got the message.

We are all better when we share some of our surplus. I don't understand why others don't think this way.




Tuesday, October 01, 2019


Imagine voting for you government without craziness.

I just did.

My Swiss landlady mailed me my ballot package to where I am on vacation. It came with an instruction booklet in my language of choice, two ballots and two envelopes to put the ballots in. The envelope used to send it to me, also can be used to return it. If I were home in Switzerland, there would be no postage due.

If I would be in Switzerland I could vote in person. In my commune we are given croissants and coffee.

We are voting for the upper and lower house members in Parliament, which is set up like the U.S. Congress. Out of this group comes the seven heads of departments and each year one of them become president.

No hysteria, no months of years of wondering who is going to do what and how with talking heads ad pollsters ranting.

Yes, sometimes we do have scandals. Not all the people serving are wonderful but some are. Of course if the people don't like what these leaders do, a petition will guarantee that the decision will go to the people for a vote.

Let's say the government works more than it doesn't, but mostly it lacks hysteria.

There is another advantage. Rick can use the instruction booklet when he works with his French tutor and to learn more about the Swiss system of government.

Sunday, September 29, 2019


Add caption
Give us this day our daily bread or Donnez nous notre pain quotidien. The wooden plate, a vide grenier treasure, plus a loaf of home-made fig bread was the gift from a friend. You will notice I could not wait to take a photo before biting off an end. It has been disappearing quickly.

When I was six living in Bluefield, West Virginia, a bill board featured the Sunbeam Bread girl, whom I thought was the epitome of sophistication. Never mind the bread had the texture of cotton.

My grandmother used to make wonderful bread including Anadama Bread with cornmeal, a family oatmeal bread, johnny cakes,, and plain white bread.  Before putting the loaves in the oven, she would fry small pieces that we would eat with maple syrup.

I never really knew what good store bought bread was until I moved to Europe. Even Randall's bakery in Reading had bread that was cottony.

When I lived in Stuttgart, a bakery was on the ground floor. German brotchen and dark breads were my first discoveries.

Now that I live in Southern France part time when I walk the dog in the early hours, fresh bread cooking smells are considered normal perfume. It makes me forgive the pup for getting me out of bed.

When we buy our bread it is often still warm. Sometimes we have them slice it, other times we prefer it thicker and slice it ourselves. Once it was mainly baguettes available, but now there's many choices, pave, cereal, chestnut flour. Some have hard crusts and are holey. Others are thick. The loaves come round shaped, squares, in baskets, baguettes and twists. All are good with butter, olive oil, honey, jam, cheese or just plain.

When we are home in Switzerland we head for our  favorite boulangerie with a cow out front. They are open seven days a week, 12 hours a day so we never fear not being able to buy their many choices. They also have wonderful fruit tartes and cakes.

So give me my daily bread, fresh from the oven. Every now and then, I will make my grandmother's recipes...when I am really, really lucky, a friend will bring me a loaf of her fig bread.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


September has been bittersweet or maybe sweet bitter.

Friends from all over the world have been visiting and our days and evenings are filled with conversations and activities. We can't go for a loaf of bread or an ice cream without running into people we care about.

Now, one by one, they are returning to their countries: Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, US, UK, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, etc.

Most farewells are temporary. Inshallah, they will be back during the next year or so. One is leaving us to return to her roots after a couple of decades in our midst.

Living near the UN alphabet agencies in Geneva, most of my neighbors were there for some years. I had a choice of getting to know them, knowing they would move on. Many locals decided the pain of loss wasn't worth it. I felt that 1-5 years of pleasure was worth the loss. In some cases there is no loss. We remain friends who see each other, not as often. That is - see one another in person. Many are in contact daily, weekly or monthly over Facebook. The format of contact is different, but it is there.

We carry our conversations, laughter, stories, memories with us long after they depart...that is sweet making the bitter forgettable.

Within the next week Rick's and my daughters will be here, albeit for shorter periods than we would like, but time with our children is always sweet. We, ourselves, will head for Edinburgh, a favorite spot and then back to Geneva. Leaving Argelès is bitter, going to Scotland and Switzerland is sweet.

Some of our friends shared as farewell lunch at Château. 
Great food with the vineyards and Med in the background.

Friday, September 27, 2019


The world is a mess.

America has as a head someone mentally incompetent and Britain's PM is buffoon. Israel hasn't been able to form a government and Venezuela and Brazil have major problems. Never mind problems in Poland, Turkey and Philippines. Hong Kong demonstrations make the gillets jaunes in France look mild.

Forest fires, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes (many from fracking) abound.

Flint, MI still has poison water. Much of the earth's drinking water is bad never mind the oil being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mass shootings are much too regular.

Kids are in cages, Yemen kids are starving and the best spokesman for climate action is a an articulate 16 year old Swedish girl who has a better command of English than some Anglophones.

Just scanning the news is depressing.

Trying to sane and to live a life worth living is hard against this backdrop.

I am one of the blessed ones that are not suffering any of the ills, not through any action on my part but by being born in the right place at the right time and making some good decisions by accident.

I can wake next to my husband and dog. We can cuddle and read (not the dog, he chews on a toy), drink tea.

I can wander down the street for bread still warm from the oven and whatever fresh fruit and veggies. I will pass cafés where I might see friends from France, Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and even the US and stop and share a cuppa and conversation.

I will be able to spend the day reading, writing, (no 'rithmetic unless paying bills which I have the money for), being entertained in a variety of ways. Household chores may about the only personal downtime. Oh darn, the dishwasher needs emptying.

When we go home to Geneva, I walk out our door and look at the Jura and Lake Leman. I turn the corner to see the Alps.

In both places the world problems are the same.

I do care about the ills of the world. I've taken on some causes and kid that I should be renamed Donna Quixote. I will never meet the little Swedish girl standard. I try and be a kind neighbor. We share what we can.

The secret is to try and find inner peace and gratitude for all that I have while not doing a ostrich-sand thingie. This balance can be hard to locate. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Not just thread, matching thread.

Sherlock has many toys. He shakes and chews them until there are holes.

I put them into stuffed animal surgery.

I know, he doesn't really care if I heal their wounds with correctly matched thread, but I do.

Monday, September 23, 2019


For years Monday morning meant jumping out of bed, walking the dogs, eating, showering and getting to work. Sometimes it was a bus commute, an hour drive from Boston to the country or a walk down the street.

My attitude might vary. Some jobs I really enjoyed and although I might miss the relaxation of the weekend, I was looking forward to whatever project I was involved in.

One job I began dreading Monday on Thursday. It hung over me all weekend. I did the only sensible thing. I quit. That job was the benchmark against all others for unbearable.

Now in "retirement"* Monday came about six. It included tea in bed, reading next to my husband and cuddling our pup. I did shower and walked down the street to get bread still warm from the wood-fired oven. On the way back, (we are talking a couple of blocks) I stopped for fresh strawberries, potatoes and onions.

On the way I saw my Danish friend who is coming home today and passed mothers and fathers walking their kids to school. Most were chatting animatedly.

My day includes coffee with former neighbors and writing. I will make corn chowder and fruit salad for lunch.

Will go with my husband to his doctor's appointment and then stop at the garden store for a couple of things for the patio.

In between everything I will take reading and/or tea breaks or chat with my husband.

Mondays are great.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Retirada woman

In January 1939 over 100,000 refugees from Spain arrived in Argelès-sur-mer France. The tiny village didn't know what to do with the influx and set up concentration camps on the beach. No one talked about it until about a decade ago when oral histories, photos and stories began to emerge. This history has been captured in a museum and memorials throughout the area, thank goodness.

Fast forward to today. There is a man in Argelès that looks like my dad's twin. When I first mentioned it to him, he put up barriers, but little by little we are now smiley-chatty people. It helped when I showed him a photo of my dad and also when my daughter picked him out of a crowd as looking like her grandfather.

He is usually with a woman that seemed a good deal older. As a cougar myself I thought it might be his wife but it could be his mother. It was nothing I would ask, of course.

Then in a conversation the other day, she revealed she had come up from Spain in February 1939, in the second wave of refugees. That would make her somewhere in her late 70s or early 80s. She would have been too young to talk about the freezing walk over the mountains.

Growing up in America I read about history in many eras, but living here I've met people who experienced it first hand. Llara's German host who lived through the U.S. Bombing of Nürnberg, a co-worker whose mother was grabbed by the Nazis as they walked down the street in Evian are just two examples. The woman was destined for Auschwitz but the war ended before her deportation. I am waiting to be introduced to a man who fought alongside of Dany Cohn-Bendit in 1968 in Paris. That makes history real.

When I can stand in front of the tombs of William the Conqueror, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I, the place where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned, the battle field of Bull Run, the events of the past transcend time.

History should be real to us. As they say those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Justin in Brownface

Justin Trudeau did a dumb thing. The Canadian press is having a field day. Racism does exist in Canada as it does everywhere, but overall the Canadians are not as bad as their southern neighbors. It's a low bar.

Some American politicians wore blackface in their youth. Usually, they were from the south where racism prompted songs like Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday, about black men hung for being black. That is racism to the nth degree.

In the 50s in small town Massachusetts we had minstrel shows. Our racism was not so much as white men and women in black face as not allowing black Celtics star Bill Russell to join town organizations. He was welcomed at the White House but not the local country club.

Maybe it can be argued that little racist actions can morph into major racist actions. Maybe, maybe not. Inconsideration, insensitivity is far different from exclusion or worse murder.

I decry racism in all forms. But I also decry how the press goes on major attacks against politicians for some infringement not just of racism but some stupid thing. Howard Dean's scream was an example. Or Lyndon Johnson pulling his dog's ears. Mention it, yes, but let's deal with more important issues based on actions that actually can help or hurt people. Don't let the smaller issues, however real, drown up the major issues affecting our world.

It's okay to look at the strokes in a painting up close, but step back and look at the painting as a whole.

Friday, September 20, 2019


I do not like boring, computer backs, telephones, etc.

Our gray car has butterflies on it. So easy to spot among the thousands of other gray cars.

My laptop has snowflakes.

My first mobile phone case was a fuzzy Dalmatian dog. It's head, legs and tails stuck out. I try not to use a mobile if I can help it, but I did love walking down the street talking to a stuffed dog.

When I was in high school and everyone had white bucks that tied. Mine were the only pair that zipped.

For years socks were boring. Last year we found some unusual ones. I love the popcorn design (second from left above). Not shown is my Eleanor of Aquitaine socks. Not everyone can wear socks that pays tribute to a powerful Middle Ages Queen, wife and mother of kings, and influential in her own right. I like to think when I wear them, I am more powerful, a bit like a magic cape.

I needed new low boots. On the internet I found a company that made all kinds of non-boring boots. I had wanted an unusual pair since a good friend had found some spectacular non-boring boots in Freiburg when we were on an adventure in Germany.

It isn't because I want to stand out. I want to be able to look at things and think it is pretty or interesting not boring same-old, same-old.

Thursday, September 19, 2019



I much prefer women friends to men friends overall.

If I meet ten women, nine will have the potential of being real friends.

It is different with men. If I meet ten men, one will have the potential to become a real friend, but their friendship could be stronger and more reliable than at least eight of the women friends.

Men and women don't have the same purpose as friends. A masculine point of view is not that of the women and vice versa. There is nothing wrong with that. 

Not to get all Sally met Harry about it, but adding sex to a friendship carries a price usually not worth being paid. It is possible to have friends of the opposite sex without a sexual relationship. Oh, I may look and think a male friend is anywhere from cute to drop dead handsome, but that does

Of course, as a happily married woman that possibility is off the table. And prior to being married, married men were not eligible sexual partners. Many reasons:
  1. I did not want to do to another woman what was done to me...sisterhood
  2. I want to be the main woman, not second best
  3. My good male friends respected the boundaries of the relationship
  4. The faithfulness of my married male friends was one of the attributes I respected.
Woman and men friends are different. The topics discussed may be different too. 

I realized that when I worked with a group of women and one man, I considered him a friend. He got really good at discussing women's topics. Then one day a man was in the office and the subject turned to the Boston Celtics. He grabbed onto that as a drowning man might grab a branch offered from shore. 

Friendship isn't just topics talked about. It is loyalty and consideration.

I just lost one of my good friends although because of distance we haven't seen much of each other. That does not negate the decades of sharing and support. Another is described as the brother I always wanted.

My husband is also a friend with whom I can discuss almost anything. But that doesn't mean we don't deal with friends of our own sex differently. He is the married man that I will sleep with, make love with a reasonable exception to the no married men rule.

An anthropologist friend once said it is not reasonable to expect your spouse to meet all your needs. She added that is what women friend's are for. I think that is true in cross-gender friendship. No one person meets all our needs. Too much pressure. As long as the loyalty, consideration and the cheering of well being is there...we are lucky to have friends...male or female.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bill Venter 1937-2019

I inherited the artist Bill Venter from Muffy Wheeler, my predecessor at Polaroid Credit Union. I thought since he'd done good work for her, I should give him a chance. Little did I know, not only would we produce some really good materials, we would have decades of friendship.

I'd walk down to his studio, past the caramel-smelling Necco factory. Often we go to lunch after a hunt for his keys. I bought him a locator, but instead of responding to a clap, it went off to a laugh.

We talked about everything. He coached kids' football. One of his three sons, all of whom he adored, went to Boston Latin with my daughter. His boys. Later he would have granddaughters.

When I changed jobs and was working in Maynard, rather than have him spend a couple of hours in the car, he stopped off with projects on his way home.

There was the night my roommates and I served him a Shepherds Pie, only we forgot the meat. Or the night he dropped artwork off during the last episode of Mash. We'd turned the house into the Mash site. Years later he gave me a poster of the Mash crew that went with me to Europe specially framed and originally matted.

My daughter's cat adored him. Pumpkin wouldn't leave him alone. Sometimes she had to settle curling up in his hat.

There was the night my daughter and I were putting together the new microwave table. He speeded up the process considerably (although there was much discussion) and enjoyed the first cocoa nuked in the new machine.

Whenever I came back to Boston from Europe where I'd moved, we would meet up for lunch and catch up. It was as if we'd seen each other a few days before.

When I met my now husband and told him, he said that he'd have to check him out and give his approval. In Cambridge we shared a meal. Fortunately, he gave Rick the okay, and Rick understood why I valued Bill's friendship so much.

Tonight, Facebook carried the message of his death. As a writer I should be able to do better than the cliché "a punch in the stomach" but that's what it felt like.

We were coming to Boston for Christmas, and I hoped to see him. Now I wish I could tell him, how much his passing hurts. He'd tell me not to hurt.

One of the things about aging, is we lose we people care for. I will never get good at it and yes, I can be grateful for having such wonderful people, wonderful men, like Bill in my life.


Our cleaning lady was upset that she broke one our mugs. I wasn't. I buy them from the potter around the corner and she always has them in stock to counter my frequent breakage. Once I even broke a new mug before I'd walked ten steps from the store.

For a crazy moment I thought, maybe I should buy three for a total of eight. Then I thought why? We've never, ever had to use more than six at a time.

We often entertain for breakfast and when we do, we serve coffee we use the 10 Euro demitasse set found at a vide grenier.

Our champagne glasses are six. I love them.

Those two items would be hard to replace. I handle with extra care.

When we entertain large groups say for a tree-decorating or some other reason just to get together, I find pretty paper dishes and napkins (we use cloth for everyday and under four people for dinner or breakfast.)

I do like pretty entertaining, however, there is no way I would ever want my cupboards stocked with dishes I bring in out infrequently. Give me less.

And as for entertaining it is the company, conversation and food that is important.

Monday, September 16, 2019


Sometimes when one hears a song, it stays and replays in your head.

I loved the folk singer / song writer Bob Franke. In the 70s I listened to him sing at coffee university in Harvard Square. I bought a CD and didn't listen to for a few years. The on the trip from Geneva to the south of France, I played the song.

The URL is for the sign "For Real."

The words kept playing in my mind, but not the melody, but the words on what was said between lines. I started thinking more as a writer than a music lover.

The details of the observations revealed how the widow copes. The writer sees the pain.

Death took the husband of a neighbor of mine, on a highway, with a drunk at the wheel. She told me "Keep your clean hands off the laundry he left, and don't tell me you know how I feel." She had a tape that he'd sent her from a Holiday Inn, and she never played it much in the day, But when I heard him say he loved her through the window at night, I just stayed the hell away. 
The same song talks about his relationship with his father. It is easy to imagine how they disagreed during the childhood. 

My father never put his parachute on in the Pacific back in World War Two; He said he'd rather go down in familiar flames than get lost in that endless blue, And some of that blue got into my eyes, and we never stopped fighting that war, Until first understood about endlessness, and I loved him like never before.

He talks about his current relationship with his wife and daughter. 

It's lucky that my daughter got her mother's nose, and just a little of her father's eyes, And we've got just enough love that when the longing takes me, well, it takes me by surprise, And I remember that longing from my highway days, though I never could give it a name; It's lucky I discovered in the nick of time that the woman and the child aren't to blame

He takes the three stories and then goes into his own feelings both good and bad.

For the hole in the middle of a pretty good life, I only face it 'cause it's here to stay: Not my father, nor my mother, nor my daughter, nor my lover, nor the highway made it go away, And there's too much darkness in an endless night to be ashamed of the way I feel. I'll be kind to my loved ones, not forever, but for real. Some say that God is a lover; some say it's an endless void; Some say both, and some say She's angry, and some say just annoyed, But if God felt a hammer in the palm of His hand, then God knows the way we feel; And love lasts forever, forever and for real. Love lasts forever.

As a writer myself, I often use music to start a writing day when I don't use a writing warm up myself.

I have no idea how long at night when I close my eyes at night will Bob Franke's song go through my mind as I fall asleep. Maybe another song will take its place. Maybe it will be a passage from some book I'm reading.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Memory tastes

My husband could have brought me something back from the states such as a bracelet, a ring, etc.

He brought me something far much more precious. Two ears of FRESH corn on the cob and two raisin cinnamon bagels from Dunkin Donuts. He threw in a couple of muffins too.

My idea of corn on the cob is to have the water boiling as it is being picked. The longer the time between picking and eating reduces the wonderfulness.

In Europe we don't have road side stands selling freshly picked corn: local veggies and fruits yes, but not corn.

The last "REAL" corn I had was the very end of the growing season three years ago when we were in New England. Canned corn is as much like the freshly picked U.S. corn as a Elephant is to a Fly. Most of the time I don't even bother.

As for cinnamon raisin bagels, I can get them at Morrison's in Edinburgh, but Scotland is a long way to go for a bagel. I can make them, but they aren't as good as store bought.

So, keep your blitz and bangles. My husband knows what makes me happy beyond reason.

Saturday, September 14, 2019


I joke that I take enough medicine in the morning to consider it breakfast. It's blood pressure, anti-cancer and anti-acids.  You can also add in vitamins and calcium making a total of six to swallow.

Also, it has been years, make that decades, since I've seen one of those horrible-to-open little orange bottles. We don't have children in the house, but in case one visits, I keep the medicines out of child reach.

I don't miss the bottles at all.

I still would like to live a pill free life.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Dog Walk

 Sherlock had a few disappointments on his two-hour walk this morning.

 The seven o'clock church bells were followed by Sherlock kissing me. Normally, Rick would then get up and take him for a walk. Rick is visiting his mom in New York. I dressed quickly.

Outside the sun was still yawning. Sherlock knew where he wanted to go -- the allotments. I followed.

He loves being loose. However, this morning, as we went to the grassy area, just after the vegetable gardens, where he loves to do zoomies, a big black dog was laying there in wait, not to hurt him but to play with him. The dog's head was the size of Sherlock, and he was afraid. The owner did get his pup, and she was a pup, under control and Sherlock could start his zoomies (running in crazy circles).

Part of his ritual with Rick is that at the end of each loop, he gets a treat. His look at my treatless pat was disbelief.

On the walk home there was a gate he could not enter. Then he wanted to use another path, that I suspect Rick takes him on, but I offered a walk along the river. River is a loose term. It is dry most of the year. Sherlock happily trotted along until the embankment by the boules court, decided he wanted to cross the bridge and up the hill toward home.

He did take a left by the boys (L'Hostalet) where we were surprised to see two friends with their son, who is flying back to the UK. Sherlock accepted his compliments.

Once home, I thought he would be tired, but no...I was presented with a toy. About five minutes of playing, he turned around and went to sleep. So did I.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Around 3 p.m. (15h) every afternoon I would check the news on the Internet. My office, across and down the street from the Geneva UN, looked on a tree with a bird's nest. The fledglings had flown away to make their own lives.

That day, 9/11, CNN reported that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I chocked it up to pilot error until a few minutes later, a second plane went through the second tower.

I worked for an international organization that wrote standards. We had over 30 nationalities on our 97-person staff. There were two other Americans, one a man in the next office. I ran next door. Then I took the elevator to the Secretary General's office where his secretary who was a dual American and Swiss, looked up.

Trying to get through to any news organization on the net became almost impossible. The man next door succeeded with the newspaper El Pais. Information was scanty at best, although it was obvious that it was a terrorist attack.

I ran home less than 20 minutes away from the office,  turned on CNN and called back to the office to let my cohorts know what was happening.

I lived in what I called the international ghetto. The apartment complex was so close to the alphabet international organizations that I had not met a native Swiss for the first few years I lived there. Most neighbors worked for those agencies.

Some neighbors had become close friends, but others were of the Bonjour or Bonsoir greeting level. We had a vague ideal of our nationalities other than to be aware they were from every continent. Over the next few days almost every one of them expressed their condolences to me.

On the bus a few days later when I was talking to a friend, a Muslim woman came up to me, and asked if I were American. I said yes. "I am so, so sorry," she said. There were tears in her eyes. She was not the only Muslim who expressed their condolences to me, one nationality, feeling the pain of another nationality.

My neighbor and good friend, a Syrian, had an American staying with her. She could not get home until the travel ban was lifted. It was strange for me NOT to be able to get home. Always, I thought if my daughter or step-mother needed me, all I had to do was cross the park to the airport and get the next plane to Boston.

That Logan, my airport, had become the airport of choice for a terrorist attack did not compute.

There were the revelations over the next few days that the brother of a coworker was in one of the towers. I learned that a friend who worked in New York was safe. An Israeli writer friend had sent her son to New York a week before because she thought he would be safer there. He lived within blocks of the towers. He, too, was okay.

My relationship to the attack was, at best, as an outsider with inside connections.

So many years later, we go on with our normal lives, but their are families in 62 countries for whom the loss was personal and is personal and will always be personal.  9/11 was not a political event for them. If only the hatred that caused the attacks, all attacks, all war would go away.

Here's the list by country of victims.

  1. United States 2,605
  2. United Kingdom 67
  3. Dominican Republic 47
  4. India 41
  5. South Korea 28
  6. Canada 24
  7. Japan 24
  8. Colombia 18
  9. Jamaica 16
  10. Philippines 16
  11. Mexico 15
  12. Trinidad and Tobago 14
  13. Ecuador 13
  14. Australia 11
  15. Germany 11
  16. Italy 10
  17. Bangladesh 6
  18. Ireland 6
  19. Pakistan 6
  20. Poland 6
  21. Israel 5
  22. Peru 5
  23. Portugal 5
  24. Argentina 4
  25. France 4
  26. Lebanon 4
  27. Romania 4
  28. Brazil 3
  29. Ethiopia 3
  30. Guyana 3
  31. Malaysia 3
  32. Bermuda 2
  33. China 2
  34. D.R. Congo 2
  35. El Salvador 2
  36. FR Yugoslavia 2
  37. Ghana 2
  38. Haiti 2
  39. Hong Kong 2
  40. Jordan 2
  41. New Zealand 2
  42. Paraguay 2
  43. South Africa 2
  44. Sweden 2
  45. Switzerland 2
  46. Belarus 1
  47. Belgium 1
  48. Chile 1
  49. Honduras 1
  50. Indonesia 1
  51. Ivory Coast 1
  52. Kenya 1
  53. Lithuania 1
  54. Moldova 1
  55. Netherlands 1
  56. Nigeria 1
  57. Russia 1
  58. Spain 1
  59. Taiwan 1
  60. Ukraine 1
  61. Uzbekistan 1
  62. Venezuela 1