Thursday, February 22, 2018

Has been

I am a has been.

In my village we can walk everywhere including to buy fresh baked bread, meat, sit in a café, go to the doctor.

Sometimes progress is slow, because neighbors and friends stop to talk.

Those days are gone.

Most of the time I walk with Sherlock our new mixed-breed puppy. The greetings, usually start with Sherlock being called, patted and cooed over. After a time they will remember like Jack Kennedy brought Jackie to Paris, I am the one who brought Sherlock to the street and greet me with Bonjour or Bonsoir depending on the time of day and I will be asked about his progress.

However, it is getting worse. I was out yesterday and left him home. I saw my neighbor who came up to me and instead of her usual "Bonjour" it was "Ou est Sherlock?"

I told her he was at home.

I'm not jealous. The dog is too cute. Let him have his day in the sun. I am okay with being a has been.




Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Mimosa



Mimosa -- One of the joys of spring is mimosa. The trees in full bloom look as if the sun dropped from the sky.

I also love mimosa in my house. The scent is delicate a small whiff of happiness.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pentagon Papers

THEN

At 16 I was a cub reporter for the Lawrence-Eagle Tribune. I was fascinated by the process and loved to watch the the type being set, the presses running. I loved covering my hometown of Reading. I remember breaking a story about something the Selectmen did wrong and the next time I was at a meeting, one of them yelled at me.

I started to cry. One of the other Selectmen, said, "Go easy on her. She's just a kid." I was embarrassed because I cried even though I was proud of telling the truth about officials doing something wrong, no matter how small it was.

THEN AND NOW

Rick and I went to see the Pentagon Papers, the French name for The Post. The scenes of the press room crowded with reporters typing out stories, linotype and presses running were like flashbacks.

The story of the Pentagon Papers was also a flashback because I had followed it eagerly in the news. It was the end of my innocence when I realized how much many governments, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson  had lied, how many people had died Americans and even more, Vietnamese.

The Americans who died thought they were defending their country. They weren't. They were defending politicians who didn't want to be humiliated by losing a war.

The revelation that the U.S. injected itself into the 1954 Vietnamese election, just reaffirms what I've been saying that if Russia interfered with the 2016 election, it was no different from the U.S. interfering in other countries' elections.

The coziness of people in Washington between press and leaders seems the same.

The Washington Post risked everything to bring the truth to the American public. Tom Hanks at one point in the film said the purpose of the press is to serve the governed not the government (the idea not the exact quote).

Not much has changed. The government is still lying to the public. Young men and now young women are going off to fight wars based on lies. The U.S. is still interfering in other countries' governments sometimes behind the scenes sometimes with bombs.

As the folk song "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" says, "When will they ever learn?"

Rick has a dueling blog at http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/






Monday, February 19, 2018

RIP

It was a good 15 years ago and I was shopping at Co-op, a Swiss grocery during my lunch hour. The store carried household stuff, too and I as I headed for the cash register, I saw a fitted sheet, of red terry cloth. There were no other colors, but I thought it might be warm in winter and cool in summer.

I was right.

As a minimalist I try to have as little possible, so that sheet was used almost nightly UNTIL . . .

. . . Sherlock.

This was the male puppy we ended up out of pure love at first sight instead of an older female dog we were looking for. One should never go into a rescue center with exact expectations.

Although he had his own bed, Sherlock decided that sleeping between my husband and myself was a good idea. In the cold room he buried under the blankets.

Puppies chew.

The sheet ended up with holes. Although I mended them, it happened again.

I have said goodbye to my sheet. A new one is on the bed, but it is not terry cloth.

Sigh. RIP and thanks for all the lovely nights.f

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ironing

I am not domestic.

I do not necessarily love ironing.

At the same time I want my home to be neat and welcoming and I like the feel of my PJs, t-shirts and sheets ironed more than wrinkled. I do Rick's too because I want him to have the same pleasure.

Thus I clean, neaten and iron.

Our flat came with an ironing board.

Sort of.

It was narrow and wobbly.

My cheap heart never wants to replace something that works.

However, once we got Sherlock, I was afraid he'd bump into the board and be seriously hurt if the iron fell on him.

My solution was to wait till he slept or was out for a walk with Rick to iron.

My husband had a different solution. He bought a new ironing board, one color-coordinated with the flat. It included the rest, which makes it safer. It is also is wider making ironing easier.

I was raving about it to my husband not just to let him know that I appreciated his thoughtfulness. I felt like I was doing some kind of advert as I listed the board's merits, and a bit silly. 

But when I went to bed last night on clean, ironed sheets in clean iron pjs, life was good.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers
Thoughts and prayers


The mealy-mouthed politicians mumble those words after every shooting. Or take a few seconds to tap them into a tweet. Thoughts and prayers were promised for 9 school shooting alone this year.

So what are in those thoughts?
  • Can they imagine the mother finding a dress with which to bury her dead daughter?
  • What are the father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles doing?
  • Do they even know the names of the dead?
  • Their hopes?
  • Their strengths?
  • Their weaknesses?
And how much do they pray? Will they go to the denomination of each victim and pray? Light candles? Kneel by their bed at night? Make donations?

Without action, their words are meaningless, so much drivel. The next time the same words and the same results...nothing.

I wish everyone would send a politician who uses this meaningless phrase and then do nothing send them a check for a campaign contribution in the amount of THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Oops!

Goal 1: To take the little yellow train, Le Train Jaune, up the mountain to Fort Romeu

Goal 2: To introduce Sherlock to snow

Method: To be up at 5 to leave by 6 to arrive at 8 and catch the 8:30 that arrives around 11. Spend and hour and go home.

Reality: Woke at 5 and drove out of Argelès by 5:48.
  • Arrived at 7. It didn't take two hours.
  • Found a bakery and wandered the walled city that has existed sine the 1098.
  • Went back to train station.
  • Bought tickets.
  • Waited for train.
  • It didn't come.
  • Went back into the station. 
  • Girl pointed out on schedule 8:30 train only starts in April.
  • Next train would get us home too late.
 Decided to drive up to Fort Romeu to enjoy the beautiful scenery from the car.

Stopped about half way up and let Sherlock play in the snow after he was car sick. He appeared to enjoy it.

Turned around and came home still enjoying the snow-covered mountains.

Stopped for sushi (me) and hamburger (Rick).

Had a wonderful time.

Rick has a dueling blog at  http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.fr/







Wednesday, February 14, 2018

food joy

If my husband had given me a $10,000 diamond necklace, it would not have meant as much to me as having lunch at Bartavelle, the excellent restaurant around the corner from where we live.

It was a fixed valentine's menu with lots of fish, something he is neutral about to disliking, even if Bartavelle's preparation of things he usually wouldn't touch takes him to neutral to almost liking. 

But the last course was lobster, my favorite food of all time. As a New Englander living in Geneva and Southern France, lobster is a rare treat. Knowing that he was happy to treat me.

Some of the courses included things I can't eat such as scallops. The owners know that and, without us asking, made substitutions.

As for the lobster itself, I devoured it.

The desert shown at the top of the blog was a work of art. The outside was a type of donut paste and the flavor was pineapple. Even if it looked like a work of art and even if I was full, I was able to consume the whole thing.

This was a gift of caring, far better than any diamond from a diamond of a husband.




Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Travel Fatigue

Rick went to Milan last month on assignment followed by an assignment in Paris the following week. To someone, who might, if they are lucky, will get to Paris or Milan once in their life time, it sounds exciting.

I could have gone, but stayed at home.

When I was growing up in Reading, MA with a mother who felt going two towns away put me in danger of falling off the edge of the earth, I had to laugh at myself when I was living in Switzerland in the 90s. I had been traveling on business and I was really looking forward to a couple of days at home. Doing the laundry seemed like the most wonderful thing in the world. It also meant I could stop buying clean underwear because I didn't have time to wash my clothes.

I was living in Motiers, Switzerland at the time and then I had to go to the UK on business over the weekend. Long gone were the days as a teen, I wished that I had need for a suitcase. Long gone was dreaming over maps.

Business travel is not exciting. I still remember a conference I covered in Warsaw. If you give me colored pencils I can probably recreate the rug at the Marriott because that was all I saw. Lovely rose flowers on green.

Fun travel is a bit different. We've been hither and yon the last five years including:
  • Rick fulfilled his dream to play St. Andrews.
  • Three weeks in Westport Ireland
  • I "met" Eleanor of Aquitaine.
  • We've slept in a bubble in Austria. 
  • I showed Rick where I lived as a bride in Stuttgart.
  • We stayed on a canal boat in Amsterdam. 
  • There was a whole month in my second most loved city, Edinburgh allowing us to wander around Scotland, a beautiful, beautiful country filled with great people and history.
I loved every minute of  it.

On the other hand, sleeping in the same bed for weeks at a time, being able to say yes to a dinner invitation next week knowing I would be home and having a routine is also wonderful.

Some readers may shake their heads and think I'm whinging. I'm not really. I love what I've done, where I've been.

And it doesn't mean I want to stop traveling. Elton John is playing Montreux during the summer 2019. Rick hasn't seen Vienna. There are friends I want to visit in Copenhagen.

Although I've probably spent six plus months in Paris over the years, I have family of choice there and hopefully the Seine's flood will not wash it away. There are still museums to visit and cafes to sit in. Just walking the streets pretending I'm part of the Hemingway crowd has never gone stale. And if Rick covers a conference in Stuttgart, I will want to go and walk in the gardens by the Altes Shloss and maybe feed the swans like I used to do.


Once when my daughter was a student at Mannheim University and was in the UK at the same time I was doing a distant learning in Wales we discovered we were in the same country for an overlap of a few hours. We met for lunch.
A Massachusetts friend said, "You lead such a glamorous life."

I didn't tell him our lunch was not at some quaint pub but at Burger King in Paddington Station.

But between a new puppy and love of my home, traveling less is high on my bucket list...but then a chance comes up to go to (fill in the blank) and I get my teddy bear suitcase packed and am headed for the car, train or plane.



Sunday, February 11, 2018

Brownie woes and joys

My former housemate makes the world's best brownies. What a joy to be writing away and have the smell of baking chocolate waft up the stairs. She often made them as gifts, but left enough for the house. Sometimes, when I came back from a trip, I would find brownies on my desk.

The second best are made by Catherine, the Brownie Lady, who sells her wares at the Argelès marché on Saturdays. She also bakes other goodies, minced pies, different fruit pies, savory tarts. In the winter her husband's homemade vin chaud is beyond yummy as guests at our Tree Decorating Open House attested.

We would buy four and ration them out during the week usually while watching a DVD. Ice cream, chocolate sauce was optional.

The last couple of weeks the weather had been too bad for Catherine to set up her stand.

We are going through serious brownie withdrawal.

Thank goodness Rick found a package of brownie mix bought at the American store in Collogny. It was Ghardilli. He will make them today.

Hopefully, they will be able to tide us over until Saturday's marché.

Friday, February 09, 2018

FATCA damage



I am in the process of putting together testimonies of people who have been hurt by FATCA in anyway from denied employment to losing banking access, a marriage breakup, renunciation, etc. The stories will be collected and I intend to self publish it and send it to every congress member.

I want to make sure they at least have the story of the damage they are doing to their fellow countrymen in their offices.

You can remain anonymous if you wish.

Email me at donna-lane.nelson@wanadoo.fr





Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Sherlock 0, Pigeon 5

Sherlock went into crouch position. His back legs trembled much like a cat waiting to attack a mouse. Sherlock had seen his mortal enemy, the white pigeon.

The bird would taunt him, walking back and forth in front of the glass door to our house while Sherlock would bark and scratch at the glass.

Now we were out on the street and there was no glass between him and her. It was early, early, early morning. The sun was still waking up.

Alain was setting up his sausage stand for the day's marché. The egg-onion-garlic-herb lady was already set up on the other side of the narrow street. No one else had ventured out into the cold.

Sherlock lunged. The pigeon flew a few feet out of reach. Sherlock lunged again. The pigeon put just enough space between her and the pup to frustrate him. 

He returned to crouch position. The pigeon continued to strut. It was if she had measured his leash and the distance between them and added a meter.

"Il n'a pas de chance," I said to both vendors who were laughing at my puppy.

"Mais il a de l'espoir," the woman said.

The pigeon continued the game three more times then flew onto a nearby ledge. Sherlock sat his eyes following the bird.

I was right -- he had no chance. So was the woman -- he had high hopes.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Assange

This is the worse case of "shoot the messenger" ever.


Sunday, February 04, 2018


"There's an R in Paw?" Rick asked after I mentioned Sherlock's paw. "Is that where they go?"

Okay, more teasing about my Boston accent. We have had some real misunderstandings about it. Like when I said I was going to the yarn store and he thought we had a Chinese store with the name Yan.

And then when I was with college friends, he said they had a problem understanding them. I said, they talked like I did. 

His response, "I know."

When on a tour with many Bostonians or at least people who lived in the area, he said he knew we were in the right part of the breakfast room, because all he heard was my twang, although I don't call Beantown's accent a twang.

He suspects that somewhere there is a trunk filled with the letter R left over from all the cahs, Hahvard, wohlds, wohds, etc. spoken that I bring out for insertion into words that never were intended to have an R sound.

That's wicked cute.


Friday, February 02, 2018

Driverless cars

Rick's printer threw a temper tantrum. It refused to print word documents but would print the test page.

"That is why I won't ride in a driverless car," I said.

He looked at me. 

I went on to explain.

All the things that don't work now with too great a regularity:
  • SFR and Bluewin TV transmissions
  • A switching device on a train track that doesn't switch (UK accident)
  • Glitches in regular computer programs
  • Phones where we can't get a signal
  • Car recalls for all kinds of problems--why should I believe they would take better care of a driverless car.
  • Lying -- such as VW's standards fraud
I am not a Luddite. I love technology that makes my life simpler. But more often it adds to the complications.

Then I think of all the conditions that could bring down the car's system.
  • Hurricanes (more often these days)
  • Power failures (The US electrical grid is in rough shape)
  • Fires 
  • Tornadoes
  • Earthquakes
  • Regular thunderstorms
  • Hacking
  • Human mistake (attack alert in Hawaii?)
  • Updates when going 95 MPH on a highway
It is ingenious how they have made traffic lights signal to the driverless cars. Even if the electrical grid is working well, all it takes is one kid with a stone to put one of those lights out of commission leading to chaos.

Cars do have some great new stuff, such as letting a driver know when something or someone is too close. But the driver should be in control if he's not reading, talking on his phone, or had too much to drink etc., all of which a driverless car would not do. One driver can create a bad accident, but imagine if the driverless system goes berserk for any of the reasons above and all the cars are out of control. Or the system shuts down. Or the software that runs the car pulls a temper tantrum as Rick's printer did.

Nope. No driverless cars for me.






Thursday, February 01, 2018

Red Flannel Hash

As a child growing up I was always excited when we had a New England boiled dinner, not because I loved it so much (although I did) but because it was followed by red flannel hash.

I am enough of a New England Yankee to pine for some of the childhood foods: New England Boston baked beans, Brown bread, clam bake (without the clams but with the lobster, corn,) Indian pudding, etc. All were made with love by my grandmother.

I've never been able to get the corned beef in Europe. It may exist but I haven't found it.

For those that don't know, a New England boiled dinner the meat is boiled with potatoes, turnips, onions, cabbage and carrots. Beets are cooked separately.

Although there is usually enough for two to three more meals as is, the leftovers in our family were always turned into red flannel hash.

However, my husband discovered canned corned beef hash, Although he is beet phobic, on his day to cook, he divided the hash into two and loving chopped the beets and to add to mine.