Sunday, November 11, 2018


 My daughter and I were visiting my stepmom in Florida. A Glenn Miller song played  on the radio. "This is the music of your life," the announcer said.

"Not my life," my daughter, who was 14 at the time, said.

Glenn Miller was my parents' time.

I don't have a music period. Dating and marrying a musician who was into jazz and classic meant that I missed some of the contemporary music of my teen years. He was also in an Army Band in Germany, with top notch musicians...many went on to leading orchestras and bands.

Later, after my divorce, I caught up with the music of my teenage years. When I moved to Europe, I started listening to French music as well.

The music of my life is truly the music of my life and of other lives as well.

Thus when Rick suggested going to a concert by an orchestra that played Glenn Miller, I was all for it, even if I had done it maybe a decade before. Another couple joined us. One word says it.


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Writer's Block and Abortion

After finishing Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles, a look at the history of abortion before Roe v. Wade,  including information about:
  • The first abortion trial in the US in the 1700s
  • Stories of women who had abortions
  • Stories of people who lost loved ones because of botched abortions
  • Good abortionists
  • Bad abortionists
  • Fighters for birth control
  • Fighters for legalizing abortion
  • People and groups that helped women get safe abortions
  • Legal cases
  • Interviews
  • Documentaries  
  • A 12 page time table 
I spent the next few months unable to write anything but blogs and emails. I joked that I was really named Donna Quixote in my crusade to show that abortion will never be stopped just like prohibition was a failure to stop the production and drinking of alcohol.

With the help of my daughter, we sent the book to those who would want to overturn the right of abortion. We will continue to do so.

However, after living with this project for almost a year, I was totally drained. I tried rereading a newsletter/blog I had written years ago on Writer's Block 

It didn't help.

My supportive husband pointed out that we had a very active social life during the summer. It was hot. Still, it was the first time in decades that words were not waiting to flow out of my brain into the computer for stories. The people who peppered my imagination all seemed to be away on holiday and didn't even send postcards.

I might start something, but quickly switched to Facebook, emails, games.

Then it came back. A talk with publisher may have been the trigger or not.

My first goal was to bring out an unpublished work Triple Deckers, about a Boston Irish Catholic family whose life is turned upside down by the Iraq War. I had written it many years ago. Going over it, I saw where it needed to be polished, rewritten or left alone.

It was like the pump in my grandfather's garden. To get it to flow, we had to prime it with a cup of water.

I gave it to Rick to read. He can be a hard critic, but he told me it was the best thing I've written. He also mentioned there were still typos.

I am into a new novel, Day Care about four single but very different women whose daughters are all at the same day care and the support they give each other.

Words are once again waking me up, challenging me to remember them as I walk down the street, and most importantly going from my fingers onto the keyboard.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Not buying it

 The Nest.

When I worked for the Digital Credit Union, I drove an old Ford Escort. Living in Boston, having an expensive car was stupid both from theft and dent potential. My fellow staff members chided me, and once my boss asked if he gave me a raise, would I buy a "decent" car. I said no, but he could give me the raise.

He didn't.

Not just because I was a single mother, did I refuse to participate in consumerism. I like nice things. I like pretty things. But there's a limit. I didn't want any debt.

We were spending a few days in my Nest. Thirty-one years ago, I paid $18,000 cash or a small studio/loft to retire in. It was my 45th birthday and I wasn't sure what retirement I'd have. (Later because I did not need a car for 20 years, I was able to pay cash for a second studio as income rental from the savings.)

With the help of a French friend, I found my retirement studio loft in a French village on the Med. I lovingly furnished it making sure I had everything I needed. Nothing went into it that wasn't useful, beautiful and/or had a memory.

I could live there for $600 a month. I still could today. Fortunately, I don't have to.

My office in the Warren where I live with my wonderful husband.

Marrying five years ago, the studio was too small, so we rented a flat two doors down. We furnished from depot-ventes and recycle places at low prices but everything in it we love.

My husband, an American, still has the, I want to replace the this or that. My response is always NO! We have one that works. He mentioned today getting a different fridge for the Nest. Small fridges have bad freezers. We don't need the freezer. I buy food from the local merchants daily. They are a few minutes walk away. There is a good freezer in our other flat, but often we put stuff in it and leave it too long to use. Throwing out edible food bothers me. We could do without a freezer, I think, except for ice cream and his loving of frosty glasses.

I have everything I need and more. What I want is to have no debt (I do), peace of mind, time to do the things I love with people I love and none of those have anything to do with buying anything. Like a nice bowl of ice cream while snuggling with my husband and watching something interesting without a worry in the world about our finances.

Sunday, November 04, 2018


As a Swiss, I am proud of our train system, which has beautiful cars, a good on-time record and the possibility of being able to get anywhere in the country almost hourly.

Today, we went to Figueras for a four-hour train trip to Madrid. The seats were some of the most comfortable I've seen on any train, bus or plane. The leg room exceeded airline economy and some airline business class. There was so much, I had a bit of trouble reaching the foot rest.

We no longer settled in our seats and a hostess wanted to know if we wanted coffee and offered a newspaper with apologies it was only in Spanish.

A movie, a Japanese Manga, played on the overhead screen.

We left on time, we arrived on time.

At the Figueres train station, they did put our baggage through an x-ray machine. Our shoes and belts stayed on our bodies.

Had we flown, which would have been more costly, we would have had to arrive at the airport two hours early. The flight would first have taken us to Paris which is the wrong direction. We would have missed the scenery.

Probably one of the most enjoyable train rides ever.

I still love Swiss trains, too.

Thursday, November 01, 2018


There is a saying, "There but for the grace of God, go I."

Every time I think of the Caravan heading to the US, the refugees fleeing war in too many countries, the people where bombs fall all too often, where water is miles away and may not be clean, where food is never enough if any at all, I know how lucky I am.
  • By accident of birth, I was safe in the US during WWII.
  • I grew up at a time when myriad opportunities were open to women.
  • I received an excellent education thru to a masters in US and the UK.
  • My daughter was born healthy and what problems she did have were curable because of affordable health insurance and availability.
  • I fulfilled my dream of living in Europe.
  • I became the writer I always wanted to be.
  • I've been able to travel to most of the places I've wanted to go. 
  • Some jobs were fulfilling.
  • I had a chance to run my own business.
  • I am not rich, but I have enough. 
  • Top quality medical care has always been there when I've needed it.
  • Late in life, I found my soul mate.
  • Switzerland accepted me as a citizen.
This does not mean I haven't had problems: 
  • As an army wife, there was food insecurity at the end of the month BUT it was always temporary by days at the most.
  • A divorce was painful.
  • Some jobs only put money in the bank to survive and caused stress.
  • I've had cancer twice.
My problems are first world problems. I have to remember when dirty dishes in the sink annoy me, or a piece of furniture has clutter on it, I am safe, warm, well-fed, well loved. I am not walking hundreds of miles or crossing the sea in a make-shift boat to an unknown future that I hope is better than the fear and deprivation I've been living under but may mean different but equally bad challenges. 

I am unbelievably lucky, but more by an accident of birth than anything I've done. Had I been born elsewhere in a different time, I too, could be one of the desperate ones. I only wish that all the refugees, all the people fighting to get to safety, have a chance, too.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Red Sox

 The photo is a statue in Boston, recreating the Mallard family from 
Make Way for Ducklings.  Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack 
are obviously fans and have decked themselves to show their Sox support.

I am one of the least sporty people ever for either watching or playing. Gym was something to be endured.

In single sports I never cared if I won or lost. Team sports, I would give my all for the sake of the team, but was always happy when it was over.

As a kid I did spend a lot of time ice skating. I liked the cold on my face, the joy of moving over the ice while I made up stories in my head.

I had to take golf lessons as a kid coming from a fanatic golfing family. It interfered with Saturday morning cartoons. The lessons, however, would be useful later in life when I married a man who was passionate about the sport. We even played together once in Andorra and might again one day. I love and admire his enjoyment of sports.

Attending high school football games taught me about the sport, but that was more social. Basketball, hockey, nahhhh... There were other things to do.

As a cub reporter I was assigned to take a picture of Boston Celtics star player Jim Luscutoff. I asked how he spelled his name. He was polite and I apologized that I didn't know much about baseball.

There were times when Boston teams were in finals. Sports became a bit more interesting. Watching the Pats in a Superbowl with the snacks and my friends hollering encouragement was fun.

And there was the NBA championship Celtics-Lakers games where someone had given me tickets and I was close enough to the players to see Larry Bird's sweat. The office had been playing the Celtics Pride Song all day. Now that was exciting even if Jack Nicholson was in the audience shouting insults.

However, baseball never interested me. Again, as a cub reporter one of my beats was to report on Little League games. I learned about the sport and it was better than writing about bridal gowns with seed pearls. But it wasn't as interesting as attending Selectmen meetings, and trying to report on the politics of the town.

My lovely husband wanted to get me tickets for a Boston Red Sox game when we visited Boston. He is always doing things like that. 99% of the time he thrills me with what he chooses.  His getting me tickets to see Roger play in London was one of those times.

I debated grinning and bearing it, but we have a no pussyfooting rule in our marriage so I had to confess, I didn't want to spend any of the precious time visiting my home city at Fenway Park. "Don't make me go." I pleaded.

Now saying all this, I love hearing about the success of Boston Teams: Bruins, Pats and Sox. You can take the girl out of Boston, but not Boston out of the girl...okay, it was cliché. Sorry.

The Sox just won the World Series. We did track the score of the final game into the night. Rick was writing, I was half sleeping and reading.

I wish my dad and my friends, Sam and Bob, avid Sox fans, would be thrilled. Sadly, they are no longer with us.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Waking on Saturday morning to:
  • See my husband and dog safely next to me
  • Reading in bed
  • Drinking tea in bed
  • Listening to the rain on the skylight
  • A hot, hot shower
  • Eating the first kaki of the season
  • Watching Thé ou Café
  • Doing our language cards (French for him, German for me)
  • Playing with Sherlock
  • Watching my husband decide to read to not disturb Sherlock who settled on his lap.

Granted nothing is spectacular but it is the type of morning that is peaceful reminding me of how lucky I am.