Thursday, March 23, 2017

Friendship bonds

Friendships build slowly with shared experiences and sometimes with misunderstandings.

There is a friendship I treasure, albeit an unlikely one. In politics my views are blacker than coal and hers whiter than Clorox bleached linen. Strangely we share the same basic values, it is the paths to reach those destinations that differ. We are good enough friends that we can express our differences, probably each hoping to sway the other as we know there's not a snowball's chance in a very, very, very hot place of doing so.

It doesn't matter.

Our friendship spans two continents and coming up to two decades. We only met because of a business connection and a dinner. We finished the business quickly and went on to do what women do best--bond.

Over the years there have been visits to each other's homes and more memory blocks laid.

Only on our last visit did I learn how a misunderstanding could have put an end to our budding friendship instead of being a building block

She was staying in my nest in the south of France. It's a tiny studio.

My friend was taking a shower. "Don't touch anything in the fridge," I called as I ran out.

She wondered if she done anything wrong? Did I think she would steal food?

All was clear to her when I returned with croissants fresh from the oven from the bakery around the corner and some local fruit for breakfast. I hadn't wanted her to eat when a local feast awaited.

The degree of the misunderstanding was revealed years later and we laughed. Just another building block in a friendship.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Confetti is forever

Two years ago we rode the little yellow bus/train in the Argel├Ęs Carnival where we gaily threw confetti at the crowds and was thrown at in equal numbers.

Our hair was multi colored as we walked home and although we divested ourselves of what we thought was all of the confetti for the next year we would find bits and pieces in pockets, gloves, etc.

Some of it even went to Switzerland with us.

This year we again went on the little yellow bus/train and again came home covered. Even the animals were not exempt.

And every day since we have find a piece or two of confetti somewhere in the flat.

Also, we have found a bit of confetti in a wall. We will keep checking it to see how long it will stay.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Single mom

My goal was to raise my daughter in a normal family with a mother and father.

It was not to be and I found myself with an infant of a few weeks--a single mom.

In high school, my world history teacher said that children of single moms would be delinquents. Although a quiet student, I told him I was not a delinquent and my mother was a single mom. For all the problems I had with my mom, lack of love and guidance were not two of them.

Unlike many single moms I knew my father and stepmom were there if I needed them.

I ended up living for many years with a man and a woman who became as much family as if they were blood relatives.

They provided a balance.

My daughter was known to say, "Don't you think you should check with Bill and Susie to see if you are being too strict?" She never thought I wasn't strict enough.

Sometimes Llara felt overwhelmed by "the committee" which also include Susie's parents.

From my point of view however, since parenting is the ultimate on-the-job training, they were there for me to double check when I was unsure. And it gave her more people to love and be loved by.
I was also lucky that as a professional and having three salaries thanks to the co-living arrangement, I did not struggle as much financially as many single mom did.

But mostly it was the emotional support and the fun we had together.

If my world history professor were still alive I would show him the strong, independent, socially responsible loving woman my daughter became--no where near a delinquent.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

budget cruelty

When my beloved step mom was younger than I am now, I asked her to come and live with me in Switzerland. She refused, because she didn't want to leave her home and friends to live in a strange county. She understood that I could not care for her in her old age in the same way from a different continent.

As the years passed her body stayed strong but her mind did not. I could not move to Florida to be with her but even with limited resources (not everyone in Switzerland is rich)  a part time caretaker was arranged until we could find a place for her in a Veterans home. She had served in the navy in WWII.

Thru out her life she was a good citizen, working as a school secretary, voting, paying taxes, participating in her community. Never were the children from her husband's (my father) marriage "his" but we were "ours" along with her two. I was the only surviving child.

On days the caretaker couldn't come, my mom had meals on wheels. It served not only to provide food, but a check she was alive.

There are those elderly that do not have even the limited backup my step mom did. Meals on wheels is a lifeline.

It is hard to believe that any administration that would want to cut this service to its citizens but there is.

Cruelty is the only word I can think of.

Norma Boudreau
She was an exceptional woman who benefited from meals-on-wheels.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

FATCA again

The bank service rep was apologetic as she tried to explain FATCA to us and was relieved when I told her how involved I was in fighting it.

Rick and I have two accounts. We had already signed forms: he was American and was tax compliant: I was not American and had no US tax obligations.

Never the less, under FATCA my financial information, which should be personal, will be transferred to the US. The choice would be not to have a joint account with my husband which does not meet other financial needs we have.

Despite that, the bank needed verification. AGAIN!

The service rep was young, beautiful and charming. She explained how she'd spent hundreds of hours learning about FATCA, she said, in courses and thru e-learning. I think of all the banks in the world that have had to train their people and the huge productive waste that only cost banks money which were passed onto their clients that have nothing to do with the US.

The IRS assumes all expats are rich tax cheats. Rick and I are neither Rich nor tax cheats.

FATCA, the alleged solution, is an agreement signed with the majority of countries that all banks have to report all US citizen accounts to the IRS. Failure can result in a 30% of asset penalty and being shut out of the international financial market. The US is bully that can carry out the threat. Reciprocity, which is part of most of the agreements, is not happening.

Although I am not a big fan of the big banks, I feel sorry for them as well as sorry that as group they did not tell where the US to go.

This is the third time I've had to verify my US non-connection. The first was to explain why I sent $300 to my daughter in the States. The second was to preserve my life insurance. The implied threat was to be dropped as a client.

When I renounced I felt I had a choice between being American and having a normal financial life. I did not think my birth nationality would continue to make my life difficult.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Death by Facebook

"Oh, no. Jules died." Rick said. We were both writing at our desks.

It was as if I'd been hit in the stomach although I never met her or her husband Stuart.

I knew her and her husband only thru Facebook. We are on With Flying Colours, a Facebook photographic group which posts photos with a different color theme each week.

He has a weird sense of humor in his postings and in his comments. He also posted regular updates on his wife's cancer treatments.

She was diagnosed in 2011. The couple has been fighting this disease for six years when the doctors predicted only three. In his blog, Stuart wrote, 'Jules said to me “Look…, the one thing about all of this is that we won’t be able to live long and enjoy our old age together.” So we decided to have our old age together NOW !!'

We saw thru his Facebook postings when things were terrible and when there were glimmers of hope. We saw when he lost it posting the word "cancer" over and over.

The one thing that came thru was the couple's love.

In another series of Facebook postings from Australia, earlier this year Kai died of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) cancer. He was just a few weeks short of his fourth birthday. His mother posted each step of the family's trauma, when hope was raised and when it was dashed. Pictures of this beautiful little boy were heart wrenching.

She did it to raise awareness for disease research and received support in messages from all over the world.

Local Australian papers picked up the story.

Kai was taken home to die in his parents arms.

I never met this family either, but I cried too when his death was posted. As a mother, I cannot  imagine what it would be like to lose my child.

Some might say that these things should stay private. I say not if it helps the survivors, not if wishes from strangers helps give them strength to do what needs to be done.

From losing people I love and have known personally, I know no matter what, there is that terrible moment when after all that has to be done is done, the loneliness and the realization that one can never hear the voice, feel their arms, share a laugh again. One only has the memories to bring us thru the pain.

To Stuart and to Kai's mom, I can do nothing but wish them strength and courage to carry on.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Dear NSA, CIA...

I haven't written for a long time because I figure you can monitor me thru my laptop. Why should I take the trouble to tell you what you already know.

You must have missed me for about 12 days because I left my laptop at home while I was traveling. I only have a dumb phone which I usually can't find and didn't take with me either although that wouldn't have been much help to you.

When I came back from holiday, I discovered from the news that CIA can watch me thru the TV. There was the rumor about microwaves being able to monitor me, but I don't believe that.

By now you know that we are awaiting a new decoder for our TV. Maybe you assumed that was why there was no activity when we were away.

Once the TV is plugged in again, I think my husband and I will make love. We hope that a couple of wrinklies doing it on the couch in front of the TV will gross you out.

Best wishes,
D-L Nelson

P.S. NSA---how do you like my hair now that it has grown out?

La La Land

The night after the Oscars, we walked the 76 steps to our local movie theatre to see La La Land in version originale.

We were a few minutes late and ironically Moonlight was on the screen. It was only a trailer.

Sometimes when so many people rave about a movie it is impossible not to be disappointed. Expectations are too high to be realized and this was the case.

The opening dance scene was intriguing but gratuitous. I wanted to know how they filmed it and how motorists disturbed by the filming felt.

I remember none of the songs.

If I could come up with one word for the movie's acting, singing, dancing and plotting it would be "adequate" and am happy I paid 5 Euros and no more.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Intermittent postings

I will be traveling until March 12 and not sure how much posting time I will be doing. Please, please check in with me in mid March.