Thursday, January 31, 2019


My husband and the craftsman who would make his hickory stick golf clubs were animated as they talked about the order.

We had driven from one end of Switzerland to almost the other to meet the supplier.

Information about wood, lifts, shapes, metals fell from their lips along with how they had come to love the hickories more than the modern metal.

For Rick it was when he played Musselburgh in Edinburgh where he first encountered the clubs. Mary Queen of Scots had played there.

The craftsman went into the spirit of the game in yesteryear brought forward to today. He talked of the dress code of plus fours or plus twos, shirt, tie, better a bow tie. Long ties could hamper a swing, the craftsman said.

His face was radiant when he explained how he'd set up the business, finding the right wood, working around his regular profession, the techniques he used. He didn't consider any of it work. He even said often his wife would suggest he go work on an order. It wasn't about the money at all, it was about the creation.

Although I had to take golf lessons as a kid, as an unsporty person, golf is not my passion, although I learned a lot as I listened. Mostly I watched and enjoyed how much passion showed on their faces. To love how you spend time is a gift.

Some wives don't want their husbands spending so much time on the golf course--golf widows they are called. I support my husband's plans to try some hickory tournaments in different countries over the next few months, especially Scotland where I will go too. It makes him happy.

He supports my passions too. When I told him I didn't want a 75th birthday party but wanted to visit the tomb of Eleanor of Aquitaine, he arranged a tour of the abbey where her coffin rests along with Henry II's, one of her husbands, and her son's Richard the Lionhearted.

He smiled when I was thrilled to stand on the spot where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in Stirling Castle in Scotland. As almost new born, it would be years before she too developed a passion for golf.

He will listen and learn about what I've discovered. In turn, I am grateful for my early golf training so I can share his excitement/pain when he tells me about bunkers, slices, rough, birdies and more.

It may be good that we have different passions. By listening to one another, we expand our awareness of things outside our normal vision range.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

One Ad Three Lives

The help wanted ad in the International Herald-Tribune in June 1990 wanted sales people who
  • Spoke German
  • Spoke French
  • Knew Digital Equipment Corporation
The last line read "We will get working papers." The job was in Switzerland.

In Leiden, Netherlands, a man in his 20s had just bought a copier. He chose the Help Wanted section to copy. He wanted a job in Switzerland. He spoke German, English, Dutch and limited French. He knew that Digital produced computers. He didn't need working papers. He was Swiss.

He applied.

In the States, a young German woman, a recent university graduate, saw the ad. A U.S. Air Force brat, she spoke, read and wrote English, French, German fluently. Digital knowledge--not so much.

She applied.

In Boston, a 47-year old woman who desperately wanted to live and work in Europe saw the ad from the IHT she had bought in Cambridge at the Out of Town Newsstand. She had worked with Digital for eight years. Her German was very rusty, her French minimal. She had been mass mailing CVs to France. Thinking it was impossible to get working papers, she'd never tried Switzerland.

She applied.

All three were hired and started working together in Peseux, Switzerland in September 1990. They shared the company apartment peacefully despite differences in ages and interests until each moved on to other living spaces.

Fast forward to 2019.

The young man quickly moved from the job he was hired for to being a very successful computer contractor. Some weekends, he went to the South of France with the older woman, where he met and married his wife. They have a son at university. He "officiated" at the older woman's wedding in 2013 as she did at his. She describes him as the brother she always wanted.

The college graduate continued in the same line of work, ending up as a partner in another company. She has married, has a beautiful and frighteningly intelligent daughter and lives in a beautiful home in the German section of Switzerland. From time to time they manage to get together for a meal, weekend or a bit more.

The older woman changed jobs and published 11 novels, one of which uses the graduate's home in a description and the village in the title. In 2006  she became Swiss. She remarried in her 70s to her soul mate.

These three are in contact in varying degrees. The older woman (me) spent the weekend with the college graduate and is hoping to see the not-so-young man within the next couple of weekends.

That one ad drastically changed three lives, created friendships, something the man who placed the ad had no idea would happen. He wanted three sales people. The three people had totally different lives than they would have if they'd never picked up the International Herald Tribune.

Life happens.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


 The Argeles beach

No one, I repeat no one, will feel sorry for us because we live in Switzerland and have a second home in the South of France, which we will leave tomorrow for Geneva.

 Lake Léman-five minutes walk from our Geneva home.

Many people will think we are rich (isn't everyone who lives in Switzerland). We definitely missed the rich part if you refer to money. We are rich in terms of love, friends, beauty -- not us -- but the mountains, water and forests that surround us. Rich in the sense we can indulge in our passions of art, music, books, theatre, movies, etc. Rich that we can walk down the street and discover all kinds of things that make our eyes, hearts and souls happy.

Thus when our flat in France is in chaos as we prepare for the transition north where we'll spend several months, I have to remember how lucky I am to live the life I do. I do. I do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Why I love BD

I knew about him for years before I met him. His father, a sometimes lunch buddy, bragged about his artist son.

A couple of decades later, the son called me in Europe to tell me my lunch buddy had died. "I'm sorry you lost your dad," I said.

"I'm sorry you lost your friend," he said.

He visited in Argelès more than once, including Rick's and my commitment ceremony. On one trip be painted a mural on a restaurant owner's wall. Doing murals was something he did, including a nursing home where a friend of his ended her life. I heard that he residents told him things they wanted in the painting.

I've visited him more than once in Massachusetts where I marvel at his work.

I even marvel at his creativity in the way he lives his life.

Even more I marvel at his kindness, in doing things like taking flowers not sold in supermarkets to nursing homes. He has a whole series of friendships that anyone would be lucky to list and he deserves them.

Thus when I saw a gofund me for a homeless man he had befriended
I ran for my credit card.

BD wrote "Many of us in Maynard have seen Scotty or met him. I saw him often on the Veterans Park bench last Spring and went over to meet him. We spoke for a while and I liked him immediately. After a half hour I asked him what he might need and he was hungry so I gave him some money and told him to stay in touch and since then we have stayed in touch.

Last Thursday when it was starting to get bitter cold at nights I wondered where he was and if he had found shelter inside. When I ran into him on Saturday he told me he was still sleeping outside and  he said it was bearable "except for the wind".  I felt it was a moral imperative to get him out of the cold and offered him nights at my shop on a couch with pillows, sleeping bags, etc. Steps away from a bathroom and a shower. It is pretty industrial and basic but beats sleeping over-layered and shivering, waiting for 5AM and a coffee at McDonalds. 

Later that day I saw the thread on Maynard Friends and Families FB group where it was clear that his pleasant manner and situation had impacted a lot of folks. 

I worked out a plan with him to bridge a transition to end his homeless status, starting with housing, food and work. Scotty was raised in Maynard and loves it here. I am asking the good people of Maynard to assist in the plan. 

I will administer the funds approximately like so: 

• A 90-day housing plan to get him through to warm weather. The intent is a room above The Blue Coyote (or similar) $550 a month plus $150 security deposit for February, March and April. $1800

• $15 per day for 90 days for food.  This will be in the form of cards or certificates for local restaurants. $1,350

• Assistance in finding him employment in our village through our networks. Today he helped me and my crew build a storage shed.

Thanks in advance for your consideration and contributions. I know Scotty's gratitude will be deep and genuine"

How many of us walk by the homeless? How many of us don't do anything to help? How many of us could find ourselves in need? 

I love BD for his creativity in everyday living, for his kindness. If we could clone him, the world would be a better place.

Monday, January 21, 2019

50 years ago today

At two in the afternoon while sitting on my couch, I felt my first labor pain.

Thank goodness, it wasn't the day before. My gynie had gone to D.C. for Nixon's inauguration. He was back.

There were still unpacked boxes from our move into our newly purchased house the day after Thanksgiving. We paid $13,000 for its two-bedrooms, old fashioned kitchen, and screened porch off what would be the nursery. It sat on a double house lot, the second lot accessible by three stairs.

The nursery had been painted yellow. I had decorated with a jungle theme, including fuzzy tiger curtains to help keep-in heat in winter and out in summer.

I was weak. The month before I had nearly died from the flu. When I called my doctor to tell him I had kept nothing down for several days, he paused and said, "I'm sending an ambulance." At the hospital I refused to let them take her because I wasn't sure she would survive.

I spent a week. The woman in the next bed died of a heart attack. After that the bed remained empty.

A month later I hadn't regained my strength so settling in to the new home was slowed.

My husband said I looked like our dogs when left at the Vets as they wheeled me off to the delivery ward. They did not have husbands in the delivery room in those days, and I doubt my ex would have survived it.

I was fitted with elastic stockings, which identified me as a patient of my Hungarian doctor. He believed the veins needed support.

They say you forget the pain. They are right, but I remember my reaction. I had had no birthing classes and not sure they were even available. My doctor had said relaxing was the best thing to do. I bet he never had a labor pain.

The woman in the next room screamed and screamed. I tried one scream. It hurt more.

Midnight came and went. Nurses peeked in to measure me.

I am not sure of the time that they wheeled me into the delivery room. I recognized my doctor's beautiful eyes (most of his patients spoke about them) but I was more than grateful he was there.

As planned, I was given a spinal. The needle looked as if it would penetrate my entire body. A few minutes later, there was no pain and I touched my hip. No sensation there, but my hand felt as if I'd touched a pillow.

My hands were strapped, my legs placed in stirrups after being given a spinal. All the pain disappeared. "Don't lift you head, it will mean you will have a horrible headache," one of the nurses warned me.

The nurses and doctors were talking about the inauguration. The conversation drifted to one of the doctor's new Mercedes.

The anesthesiologist held my hand sometimes resting it against his penis. I wasn't sure what to do. If it happened now I would have squeezed hard and asked why he was doing that. I was young and sweeter than. I didn't want to embarrass him.

"What are we working on, boy of girl?" my doctor asked in his Hungarian accent. They didn't do sonar in the olden days.

"It has to be a boy. My husband wants a boy."

The doctor pulled the baby out. My daughter was born a few minutes shy of the date and time my ex-husband was born.

"It's a girl, I'm sorry."

I heard her cry, the most beautiful sound in the world.

"Wonderful," I said.

"I thought you said you wanted a boy," the doctor said.

"My husband wanted a boy. I wanted a girl." It was true, I never, never, never wanted a son. I was glad that it was his chromosome that determined the sex.

Someone described her as looking like "an inverted gourd." My daughter has turned into a beautiful woman, inside and out.

She has enriched my life. There is a Bob Franke line "It wasn't the thing I did best, but raising her was the best thing I did."

Friday, January 18, 2019

Sally Pierce Price

This is the third "interview" with one of my four main characters for my novel Day Care. I am using the interviews as a tool to get to know the women better.

I found Sally Pierce Price in her classroom at the Parker Junior High where she teaches math to seventh and eighth graders.

At 33, Sally looks younger, more like a college student. Her hair was in a pony tail, but tendrils hung around her face. I suspected they had escaped rather than being a style statement.

She was shoveling blue books into her brief case, which surprised me. I thought blue books were used just for written tests. I asked her.

SPP: It's easier to keep track of them than sheets of paper. Between my daughter and my cat, my desk is never quite safe.

Me: Can you tell me where you grew up, please.

SPP: A small town in Maine and in a small-thinking family.

Me: (I looked confused.)

SPP: My father was an evangelical pastor where anything beautiful or fun was considered sinful. They home schooled me to keep me from spiritual danger until I revolted.

Me: And then?

SPP: A teacher helped me get a scholarship to a private school in Lowell. From there I went to Salem State and majored in math, which I love. I love teaching. I love my daughter.

Me: Tell me about her, please.

SPP: Grace is four and the center of my life. (She takes out her phone and shows me photos of a little girl on a swing, in her PJs looking at a book, patting a goat.)

Me:Adorable. Are you in touch with your folks.

SPP: Thank you. I've tried. My father hangs up on me. I think my mother would talk to me, even though I lived in sin with Grace's father.

Me: Are you in touch with your folks.

SPP: I've tried. My father hangs up on me. I think my mother would talk to me, even though I lived in sin with Grace's father.

Me: You didn't marry him then?

SPP: No. We were planning on it but he ran up $10,000 on my credit card and didn't pay the bills I thought he was paying. It took me two years to dig myself out.

Me: And?

SPP: I threw him out. If you excuse me, I need to pick up Grace at Day Care. I'll be happy to talk to you more if you need more information for your book.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Maura D'Orlando

Maura O'Connor D'Orlando is my second character in Day Care, the story of four single moms who form a support team to make life easier. For the interview, we find her in the emergency room of a hospital where her daughter has been brought because she could not stop throwing up.

Me: How is your daughter.

MOCDO: They've stopped the vomiting. As usual she'll have to stay until she's no longer dehydrated.

Me: That's good. What causes it?

MOCDO: I don't know. I just wish I could get them to make it more seriously. I mean, this happens every few weeks. The last attack was only two weeks ago.

Me: Isn't it hard to work when she's in the hospital so often?

MOCDO: I suppose I am lucky that my boss is understanding. Probably because he had a kid that had cancer once. Thank God his son has been clean for six years now.

Me: Where do you work?

MOCDO: At a real estate agency, only job I've ever had. We couldn't afford for me to go to college. My dream was be a photographer, but that wasn't practical. I'm trying to get my real estate license to make more money. That's practical.

Me: What about your husband?

MOCDO: Ex-husband. He left me for another woman. Not even one younger. Can you imagine? She's three years older than he is.

Me: That's tough.

MOCDO: At least he's almost good with support payments. He doesn't see Violet much and I suspect he does see her at all because his mother, a good Italian mama, would kill him if he didn't.
Me: How did you meet him?

MOCDO: He was two years ahead of me in high school. Teenage hormones and all that. I should have listened to my family when they said he wasn't good husband material.

Me: What does he do?

MOCDO: He's a hairdresser. Has his own salon. It does okay.

Me: What about your family?

MOCDO: My Mom and Dad are great. Good Irish Catholics. They help me financially when they can, but I don't like to ask too often because they've scraped for everything they have. My sister and brother resent them helping me, but they are doing so much better financially than I am.

Me: What do you think about. . .

Before Maura can answer, the doctor comes out of Violet's room and says she can go back in.  I thank her for her time and wish her luck. She smiles, but it is a tired smile. I want to hug her and wish her courage but that would slow her getting back to her daughter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Anne-Marie De Ruvo

I am in the process of writing Day Care, a novel about four single moms whose daughters go to the same day care. The women, although from very different backgrounds support each other through a variety of daily problems and crises.

To develop my characters, I am about to interview them one by one.

Anne-Marie De Ruvo will go first. She is an attractive woman with dark hair cut into a Dutch Boy. She wears jeans and a sweater. Around her neck is a scarf tied in a way I couldn't figure out. So French.

Me: Anne-Marie you moved from France to Massachusetts. Why?

AMDR: My husband is the CEO of a company that wanted an American presence. He set up a Boston office. He went to Harvard Business School and loved the area.

Me: Was the transition hard for you?

AMDR: My father was in the French diplomatic corp and we had several postings in different countries like Japan and South Africa, so going into a new culture wasn't that difficult. I found a job teaching French literature at Brandeis. It's my passion.

Me: You have two children?

AMDR: Twin girls, almost four. My husband thought I should be a femme de foyer, a stay-at-home mom after they were born. I worked too hard to get my diploma at the Sorbonne. Also, I hate being dependent. The idea of asking Jean-Marc for money to buy him a present is just, how do you say, degrading. Besides, I like working, the research, the lectures--Also I love what I do so much that it isn't working, n'est pas?

Me: Yet you asked your husband for a divorce.

AMDR: I did. Jean-Marc was a good husband in the sense that he provided for us well. We had a McMansion in Reading. He never was nasty. It was just . . . just . . . It was like I was part of the furniture. My wants, needs, loves didn't matter. I guess it is his being part of the aristocracy, although he's the second son. Lucas, his older brother, will inherit everything.

Me: But that isn't the reason to ask . . .

AMDR: For a divorce. No. I'm not very proud of it, but I feel in love with an Irish prof. We talk about everything that Jean-Marc has no interest in. There's a problem, though.

Me: And that is?

AMDR: He's married. It was over a year ago, he asked me to marry him. We would break up with our spouses. I asked for a divorce the same day, but Jean-Marc wanted to work things out until he didn't. When we separated, Jean-Marc moved back to Paris. However, Sean still hasn't spoken to Allison, that's his wife.

Me: I nod.

AMDR: I am also afraid if Jean-Marc finds out I'm having an affair with a married man he'll want custody of the girls. I know the French are suppose to understand these things, but he is very possessive. He is always pressuring me to return to Paris. He complains that the girls are not getting enough French, even though I only speak to them in French, when we are alone. Otherwise it has to be English.

Me: Are you worried that Sean won't leave his wife?

AMDR: (Plays with the left end of her scarf). Sometimes. (She glances at her watch.) I'd love to talk more, but I am late picking up the twins. She kisses me on each cheek, puts on her coat and is out the door.

The next interview will be with Maura O'Connor D'Orlando, a divorce. Her daughter Violet has many medical problems.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019


I stopped at Chez Elisabeth for my daily dose of fresh veggies and fruit. At the counter was a woman wearing a Hijab. I heard my name mentioned and joined their conversation.

This led into a 20 minute discussion, three women concerned about the world. The woman was born in Carcassonne, but was of Algerian descent. Her two-year old son was with her and patiently waited for his mom to finish. The upshot of the conversation is that we will have coffee sometime in the near future to build on the meeting.
La Noisette is at the end of the street. We've been through three owners, but it still consider it an extension of our flat a few houses away. It could be for breakfast, tea or lunch. It is a meeting place.

A writer friend and I used it for a free-write session. Since she is now very occupied, I've started to got here mornings for a short writing session, a prime-the-pump for my day's writing.

The only problem is how many people we know.

Today, Eric, the former chef was there. Then there was the couple with the lab who knows I have and will give biscuits to him.

The mamie (old woman of the village) and I had photos for her which ended up with me treating her to coffee.

There is something very, very special about an ordinary errand to stopping for a cup of tea into  something social. I enjoy the warmth of good human relations.

It makes ordinary transactions personal.

At one time I worried I would be isolated in this village. Silly, silly me.

Monday, January 14, 2019


1 unreasonably or perversely unyielding : mulish
2 justifiably unyielding : resolute

I am a published writer because I am stubborn.

Stubbornly, I kept at it, before work, after work, hours spent at the computer (and earlier IBM Selectric).

Stubborn because I took courses, attended conferences and workshops to polish my craft

Stubborn because I joined a writers' circle, which gave me hope.

Stubborn because I kept submitting stories to contests and every now and then I won one. It gave me hope. Then I had a story read on BBC radio giving me more hope. It rewarded stubborn.

I remember reading Jim Davis, cartoonist of Garfield saying to aspiring cartoonists. Don't give up. What if you're rejected 17 times and you give up, but the 18th would have been a yes and you'd have missed it if you gave up. That is not an exact quote, but it kept me sending my first and second novels out and out and out and...

Chickpea Lover: Not a Cookbook, won first prize in a literary contest. The prize was having it submitted to a publisher who kept it two years and rejected it.

Here's where stubborn kicked in.

Not caring that publishers said they didn't want multiple submissions, I mass mailed it. Rejections poured in. There were at least 40 before I received an email that Five Star in Maine that wanted to publish it.

This will help me get an agent, I thought. I mass mailed to over 30 agents saying I had an offer for my novel, I needed an agent. Few replied. In the negative.

I found an agent, but only because I met her personally at a conference.

The novel was published in Russia because my agent deliberately left a copy on the nightstand  of the Russian literary agent who was visiting.

Eleven novels, a non-fiction book, a short-story collaboration with writers from all over the world and a blog collection later, I'm still writing.

My stubbornness is the reason that I am living in Europe. As a new bride, my husband, an Army musician, was stationed in Stuttgart Germany. I wanted to stay. He did not. Because I also wanted a degree (another example of my stubbornness as I fought my way through despite marital disapproval) going back was not totally awful.

Once single, I plotted ways to move abroad.

At one point I'd sold everything I owned and moved only to have my mother develop cancer. I went back to Boston until she died.

I set myself a goal. If I couldn't find a job in 2,000 CVs (resumes), it wasn't meant to be. I flew to France to get help wanted papers (pre-Internet days) I used directories of French companies and my membership in the International Association of Business Communicators.

I carried piles of applications to the post.

About the 800th resume, I saw an ad in the International Herald Tribune: The wants were:
  • Knows Digital Equipment Corporation
  • Speaks English, German, French
I knew DEC. I'd helped set up their credit union earlier.

My German was rusty, my French almost non existent.

It wasn't France, but Switzerland, which I'd never tried because getting working permission was next to impossible. The last line of the ad read, "We'll get working papers."

I faxed a resume and within minutes there was a response. That was July. In September, I was seated at my desk in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Stubborn to work for the things I want? Oh yes!

But I have a theory--I will do whatever I can to make something happen and then let fate decide.

Fate has been good to me. But that would be another blog.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Writer's thinking

When I was working on Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles, my first non-fiction book about abortion I was obsessed. I read books, dug deeply into the web, Youtubes, sought out people to interview. I wrote and rewrote, arranged and rearranged.

After it was finished and published, my daughter started sending the book to legislatures, judges, and pro-life people.

Then it was time to return to my fiction writing.

I couldn't. The only thing I could write were blogs.

Until this point in my life, my head was full of words. I would see a mother and child walking down the street and I would not only write in my head a description but if I were alone, there would be an entire story about their conversation.

In a restaurant, store, home in my head I was writing descriptions.

Before CHAKN, when I was with people I would be noting what they were wearing, what they looked like.

During the summer we had an active social life, but the words about who we saw, where we were and what we did weren't there.

At first I thought it might be because my publisher had decided to only publish westerns, something I didn't want to write. The hopes of new publisher became a possibility, which helped about 20%.

I reworked Murder in Edinburgh and sent it off to the new publisher.

I thought the block it might be because although I lived with Annie, my mystery character, so long that it was time for her to move on. I saw her become comfortable with her self as she grew to appreciate her Third Culture Kid upbringing, get married and have a daughter. There were other books I wanted to write.

Years before I me Annie in my firt TC book, I had written Triple Decker, about an Irish Catholic Bostonian family touched by the loss of a son in Afghanistan. With hopes of publication either with a publisher or Indie, I reworked it.

My husband read it, proclaimed it the best thing I ever wrote. He can be a tough critic, so I know his review wasn't out of love. One way or another it will be published by the end of the year.

I've started Day Care, about four single mothers, with their daughters in day care (DUH!) and how they support themselves. I find it hard to concentrate although like my other books, the characters have become real to me. They can sit on my couch, share a cup of tea and tell me what they are willing and not willing to do.

But still the constant writing in my head was hiding.

Until yesterday.

I took my journaling book (last entry 2017) and the handmade fountain pen that my husband gave me for Christmas to La Noisette, ordered a hot chocolate and a croissant. The words flowed. Details, I hadn't seen jumped up and down in front of my eyes.

Three pages later I went to the pharmacy. Words were in my head on the walk. As I sat waiting for my number to be called, words about the posters, the products, the clients were in my head.

When I got home, working on Day Care wasn't a slog. Ashley, the lawyer in my book, sat on the bed behind the desk, and told me it was about time I got back to work and she was happy for me.

Sherlock the dog also jumped up on the bed and didn't notice Ashley. He wanted to play, so interruptions will still be part of my life.

I just hope the words keep running through my head.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Government Shutdown

The power to end the government shutdown is not with Trump, Pelosi, Schumer or Congress.

The power is with the Air Traffic Controllers who are not being paid. Some are already calling in sick. Others are said to be quitting. The Air Traffic Controllers' Union is already suing Trump as of 11 January.

That is enough.

All controllers need to give a 24-hour announcement that they will no longer work without pay. That is time time needed to make sure the airways are cleared both in the US and flights to the US.

With all air traffic non existent, business would scream so loudly never mind the people who need and want to travel, that the government would have to respond and reopen the government.

Yes it would be costly, but so is the stupid shutdown.

Thursday, January 10, 2019


My Foibles

Sometimes I feel sorry for my poor husband who has to put up with my foibles. Looking at the definition above I prefer when it refers to an idiosyncrasy, quirk or eccentricity than to weakness, failing etc. Some might say it is borderline OCD (Obsessive/Compulsive/Disorder).

One foible is apparent in the sentence above. No Oxford comma, one of the main areas of dispute in our marriage. Another is my love of the word albeit.

I'm a neat freak, but my definition of neat. 
  • Neat means clear surfaces and if there is sculpture or a decoration there, just that, nothing else. 
  • I shudder at dishes in the sink unless soaking. If you put it down in the sink it is just as easy to put it in the dishwasher, one step instead of two or worse leaving it for someone else. This does not apply to Geneva. Don't ask me why. I don't know. I haven't claimed rational.
  • I love color coded coat hangers (red me, purple him, white for things to be ironed, BUT its okay to have closets that are stuffed in any order.) I would love to have everything arranged in rainbow order on the racks and all things neatly folded. I often arrange things that way, but keeping it is hard. No, make it impossible.
  • We have wonderful steak knives bought when we went through the knife-making village in France. I always take the far right one(s) and rotate the rest up so none will be used more than another.
I believe I am not 100% OCD because although I like the bath towels hung with the rough edges to the left and the patterns matching and overlapping, I can survive when they don't end up that way.

I need systems. Every centime I spend, goes into an Excel spread sheet. I usually plan what I am going to wear the night before or two nights or more. The same with meals when it is my day to cook.

A foible is not wanting to shop if there is an alternative and to spend minimal time in a shopping mall. My idea to go directly to the store needed, don't look left or right, get what I need and escape as fast as possible. He is more than welcome to browse all he wants. I'll wait in the car with a book.

I also never, ever want to buy a replacement for anything that still works nor to have two of anything when one will do or three of something when two will do, etc. 

I know my husband loves me because he keeps his eye rolling to a minimum.

At the same time I am OCD that he has a warm robe and towel, his pjs are preheated in the winter and that he plays golf whenever he wants. I want him to feel free to tell me what he did wrong (as I do him when I've blown something) and that he can talk to me about anything. I want him to be able to follow whatever passions he has. He can be free to tease me about my foibles. 

In the bigger picture my foibles are not so important to me, that I can't laugh at myself for them.

Excuse me now, I have to go check out the bathroom towels.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019


This is not a doughnut. It is shampoo, part of our attempt to cut down on the use of plastic. It's not easy.

I can eliminate detergent plastic bottles with powder BUT when I opened the box, the powder was in plastic bags. Still it is an improvement.

Liquid soap can be replaced with the bar soap. My favorite is Dove.

Juices and soft drinks can come in recyclable cans and bottles, but cranberry juice is only sold in plastic bottles. I wrote them, as an exercise in feeling better about it. I don't expect a response. No more cranberry juice. Milk is sold only in plastic. Since milk makes me gag, I tend to use it only in cooking. The ocean will not be clogged with my milk purchases.

I almost never use cling film or aluminum foil preferring the beeswax wraps. I never used plastic containers because I didn't want my food touching plastic any more than I would cook with teflon because of the chemicals. We have mason jars for storage.

I still need to find bar hair conditioner.

I doubt if we will be able to find non-plastic mouth wash and considering my ability to drop things, a glass container in the bathroom might lead to increased use of bandaids.

On cleaning products I never got into the hype that I needed thousands of different products. My dish washing liquid was used for everything. Dental tablets worked great on the toilet.

I am underwhelmed with the bar shampoo, and I know there are other brands available. When I use it, I remember that once every housewife would make her own soap out of fats and ashes.

We will never be a plastic-free household. Our small lack of contribution to the sea of plastic filling our dumps and oceans, is infinitesimal. Maybe when I talk about it, someone else will start to cut back and they will motivate someone else and it will spread.

The other problem I have with my shampoo, is every time I use it, I imagine going into Dunkin' Donuts and getting a doughnut straight from the oven or a crispy cruller. I can almost smell them baking.


Monday, January 07, 2019


It definitely was the year of the dog, as Sherlock wormed his way deeper and deeper into our hearts. By the end of the year, he was truly housebroken and obeyed commands like stay and come, sit and Machons sung like the French National Anthem. Heel isn't quite there yet. I don't want to count the number of balls thrown or stuffed animals shaken.

Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles was sent to almost 100 people including Supreme Court Justices, anti-abortion legislators and leaders with the help of my daughter. The writing of it left me drained and for the first time I felt unable to write anything but blogs. Fortunately, this passed and I reworked Murder in Edinburgh (probably my last Third Kid Culture Mystery) and Triple Decker for publication in 2019. I also began Day Care, about four single moms who help each other out.

Rick traveled more than I did, but I loved being in Stuttgart where I once lived. We lucked out in Madrid at Picasso's Guernica. Just as we arrived, there was a guide beginning an in-depth explanation of the painting.
Probably the most beautiful hotel room I've ever stayed in was Hotel Seehof du Lac in Wegis when we were doing research on the of Swiss air transportation history in Lucerne. A stop at the Payerne air museum on the way back resulted in my "flying" another simulator.

A reunion of Interskill in Neuchatel, the company that brought me to Switzerland, was fun. There were the jokes about how my reference when asked if he could say anything bad about me, got the reply, "Well, she's not very tall." Even the employees who came after me and I never met, knew the story.


Since we were so close to Môtiers, the village of 600 people and 6000 cows where I first lived in Switzerland, we had to visit and stock up on champagne from the cave in an old monastery.

A trip to Annecy and Chamonix was fun for two reasons. Both are beautiful and we met up with two of my college friends.

During the summer in Argelès we attended over 100 social events from coffees to full dinners with friends from 20 different countries.

The fall brought us back to Geneva where the fall colors, fondue, seeing friends and just enjoying life.

We were trying to do tourist Tuesdays but didn't always make it when writing slowed us down. Our favorite stop was the Charlie Chaplain museum

At Christmas we headed back to France. We thought our summer friends wouldn't make their annual Christmas trip to Argelès. We were wrong. Almost all changed their plans. Not wanting to do a traditional Christmas day we visited Sigean, the African park. We still had our traditional tree with ornaments Llara and I made well over 40 years ago, the ones, Rick and I collected and the stockings Llara made for us.

Although we did do some wonderful things, what counted most was just being together, the quiet mornings with tea and books (or iPads) in bed. It was seeing DVDs together, or watching the dog do zoomies on the beach. It was a hug, sharing a piece of chocolate, or all the little things that make up our very good life.

Every day, I am aware of how much good has been given to me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Another failure (but closer)

Rick and I often entertain by making breakfasts for friends. I had the brilliant idea to make decorative fried eggs and bought a rabbit and owl mold.

The object?

Serve the animals on the plate along with homemade bagels.

After repeated tries, I still have not mastered the eggs but I am getting closer.

Here's what works so far (and doesn't).

You need the mold, eggs, butter, fry pan, spatula, eggs. Two should do it if nothing goes wrong but better to have extra for when the yolks break.

Take the mold and rub all inner surfaces with butter or oil. Heat butter or oil in the pan, place the mold in the pan and press down. The idea is so no egg white will escape. Doesn't always work.

Separate yolks and white and pour the whites in every part of the mold including the eyes. Some will leak out around the mold.

Drop the full yolk into the eye holes and let cook.

Cut the whites that seeped out from the yolks away from the yolk.

 Transfer the eggs with the mold to a plate. Here I thought I had won. But it wasn't to be.
I almost had the mold off when I realized that the right eye was leaking and the left had torn away from the eyebrow area.

Disaster. It looked like the bunny had been attacked by a predator. I am now thinking I should cover the pan and let the egg yolk cook until the egg hardened.

Meanwhile we may invite people to breakfast but Rick makes a mean scrambled egg with no mishaps.