Sunday, December 10, 2017


Rick and I have been talking about getting a dog since we got together almost five years ago.

There were many reasons to delay including our travel. We thought we might this summer and even arranged for friends to dog sit for the almost five weeks we were in Edinburgh during autumn. They ended up with an easy sit, just the flat.

Rick has been looking at rescue sites.

Then a homeless man who has an old, old dog, with him all the time whom we give a biscuit to when we give the old man a coin, was dogless.

I asked almost afraid.

"C'est la fin," he said.

I assumed he meant the dog died.

"Do you think we should get him a dog?" Rick asked. He started looking at rescue sites which he had been looking for us all along. Later that day we saw him with the dog totally wrapped in a blanket against the Tramantane blowing at full force.

Rick kept looking at rescue sites: We found one, Mila who met all our criteria:
  • Female
  • 12-20 pounds
  • Older
  • Housebroken
We were open to many breeds, but Mila was a Griffon. Why not? We headed to the animal shelter near the airport. Despite a map we traveled up and down streets finding nothing, finally stopping at a restaurant.

"We don't have a Mila," the young woman told us.

Of course, they didn't. Mila was at a different rescue center.

"We have other small dogs," she said and mentioned a Jack Russell. I love Jack Russells for their intelligence but their energy level was more than we wanted.

"And there's Spider." She put this bundle of part Yorkie, part Griffon and part question mark in my arms.

Okay so the dog was:
  • Male
  • About six pounds 
  • Eight weeks old
  • Not housebroken
I knew it, I knew it. I knew it. It was what the French call a coupe de foudre, love at first sight. It was going to happen.

Spider was renamed Sherlock, because I have a good friend who is afraid of spiders and I don't want her uncomfortable around him if and when we are together, is now asleep right outside my office door having:
  • Eaten
  • Investigated the flat and seemed to approve
  • Drunk water
  • Played with a toy
  • Taken a nap on my husband's lap
My husband has a dueling blog at

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Johnny Halladay died last night a little after 1:00.

President Macron issued a statement about an hour later.

The rocker was 74 and had sold over 110 million records. In France you only needed to say Johnny and everyone knew who you were talking about.

Most of the major stations preempted broadcasts with the story of his life and music.

It has been suggested that there be a national day of mourning, although I doubt that will happen.

The next issue of Paris Match will be filled with photos past/present.

And the type of headlines that dramatize death that the French love so much said "France has been left an orphan by Johnny." It doesn't quite have the same emotion for a non-French, American born me as the one that said, "Arthur Miller has joined his Marilyn."

At the same time writer Jean d'Ormesson died at 90. His death was eclipsed by Johnny, although France treats many of its writers with reverence. They even have TV shows about books.

In England Christine Keeler died at 75. She was the mistress of a British Secretary of War John Profumo and caused a massive scandal. She was an icon of another kind. The British stations rehashed her life.

Neither D'Ormesson or Keeler will get the shock and tears that Halliday will get.

I wish I could think of something profound to write about the different levels of reactions to icons or near icons or even well knowns. I can't. Like all of us, they will have walked thru their lives and others and like every living creature will end their time on earth marked by various degrees of sorrow.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Airline meals

Flying today is no pleasure, especially the long hauls. The security lines are long and frustrating as we take things out of our suitcase to push them thru the conveyor belt and then shove them back in. Once getting patted down in Frankfort, the security guard grabbed my crotch and her name wasn't Lauer, Weinstein, etc.

Of the hundreds to trips, there are a few bright moments.

I was amused the time, security told me to take of my jacket, only to stop me when he realized I had nothing on under it except my bra.

And I wonder if the Swiss security guard ever made the American apple pie recipe I gave him when he questioned my can of Crisco being taken to Scotland because my daughter was making a typical Thanksgiving dinner for her friends.

Mostly getting onto and seated is a necessary pain if I want to get to my destination.

The pushing and shoving to get on board (what if they called all window seat holders board first, then the middle, then the aisle?) means I will step on or be stepped on, hit by or hit someone with my carryon,

When my company paid for it, I sometime had first and business class seats but no way would I pay for them myself. If I find the seats in economy tight at 5 foot one, I wonder what taller people suffer.

The one thing I love about flying is the meals. Granted they do not match a gourmet restaurant, but they are as good as anything we get in many food courts or chains. I start looking forward to them when we arrive at the airport. When I'm standing at line at security or customs, I am wondering with anticipation what the meal will be.

The attendant puts the tray in front of me. Many little dishes are tinfoil covered. If the airline does not give the menu in advance (a thrill to see), it is like opening Christmas gifts. Even if I know what the main course is, I don't know what kind of roll, salted or sweet butter, what kind of cheese, etc. Because I am a grown up, I can take a bite of the dessert before I finish my meal, even if I'm an adult or maybe because I am an adult.

The low cost, short haul airlines don't provide meals, but you can buy a sandwich, which is not that interesting. But going from Toulouse to London, Geneva to Prague is a few chapters in a book or barely a nap. I can grab a snack before boarding.

Going intercontinental is when those marvelous, silver gift trays come out with the surprises inside. It doesn't quite balance the inconveniences and the discomfort, but it helps.

Sunday, December 03, 2017


Autumn may be my favorite season, but December is my favorite month.

The sun arrives later and the bed hugs me closer in the morning. At night the sun quits the sky earlier and we turn on the lights in the house and live in their glow. PJs, the fuzzier the better, are put on and we curl up with a book or a DVD. Sometimes we go early into our pre-warrmed bed.

The year is drawing to a close. It has been a good year filled with adventures. The dark allows me to reflect on what we've done and felt. 

Store windows and village centers are decorated.

Tea takes on a whole new meaning.

Even in the South of France the wind can create rosy cheeks. In Geneva there can be snow but not often. The snow falls up the mountains, creating a reality postcard.

Today we drove home from the South of France to Geneva, worried that the snow might hamper us and we would need to spend a night in a hotel somewhere. Instead the snow only decorated the forests and mountains leaving the roads clear. The drive is always spectacular, but this trip the countryside was decorated for the holiday in white.

Geneva was warmer than France, although warm is not the word.

Each day the days are a little darker until the solstice when I will bring in our Christmas tree, always a real one.

This year we are inviting friends to an open house to help us decorate the tree. We'll serve vin chaud, muscat de Noël and nibblies as they help us decorate. Many were made by my daughter and me when she was little, but Rick and I have added a few of our own. We will hang the stockings my daughter made for me years ago and for Rick when he joined the family.

Hopefully some of our other friends from the UK and Switzerland will come down.

And then, little by little, the days will grow a bit longer promising a new year. And after the dark rest, I will be ready.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Simple living

I admit it -- I'm a minimalist.

Here is my cup and glass closet.

We have:
  • 6 champagne glasses bought as a going out of business sale from a friend
  • One French coffee press--we don't drink much coffee. The press works for guests.
  • One tea pot
  • One set of espresso cups, saucers and pot bought at a vide grenier for 10 euros
  • A water pitcher with five matching glasses bought at a vide grenier for 15 Euros
  • Four of six cups made by our local potter. Easy to replace if dropped.
  • Heart sugar and creamer
Not shown 10 wine glasses left by the last owner and plates.

What do you do if you have a lot of guests, you may ask.

We prefer to entertain no more than three people at a time. We have had one large get together in four years.  We are planning a second event, a Solstice celebration/tree decorating open house later this month which will have more people than our dish/glass stock.

We are planning vin chaud and nibblies and I will get paper products. We've been here about 1,460 days. I see no reason to be bogged down with extra stuff for two of those days.

The things in the closet all fill one or more of my three criteria for owning anything:
  1. Useful
  2. Beautiful
  3. Has a memory
I don't need more and I certainly don't want more stuff cluttering up my life. 

Looking forward to the Solstice Celebration.