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.