Monday, March 19, 2018

has been

When I was pregnant it seemed like everyone was interested in my health, weight and general well- being.

Then Llara was born, and like Jack Kennedy who said he was "the man who brought Jackie Kennedy to Paris," I was the woman who brought this chubby-cheeked baby into the world.

People who never visited me, came to see the baby, including parents of my friends who never visited before.

I could live with being a has-been among my friends and their folks, for I was in love with the baby.

Rick and I talked about getting a dog for five years or so. We wanted a rescue dog, a female, older too.

When we went to the rescue center, one of the workers put a 12-week old male mongrel (Yorkie, griffon and many other things) into my arms. It was love at first lick.

We are spending the winter in a centuries-old French village with narrow streets, where it is almost impossible to walk without greeting neighbors and chatting.
Sherlock quickly replaced the normal questions or comments with "Il est très mignon" and other exclamations on his cuteness. I wasn't jealous. He was overdosing on cute. It never bothered me that he received about 98% of the attention and my attention, the remaining 2%, was more about how he was doing. I could report a good pee and poop report, how he sat on command etc.

However, now when I walk down the street when I'm heading to do some errands that would take too long with Sherlock, I don't hear, "Ca va?" "Bonjour" or any of the other French chit chat.

My neighbors spy me and the first question is "Oú est Sherlock?"

Like a few decades ago, I can live with being a has-been to an adorable five kilos of wiggles and fur.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Several times a week on Facebook I post what made me happy that day or at least the last couple of days.

Yesterday there was so much happiness that it was much too much for a post.

The day started with breakfast at Mille et Une, who added a fruit plate: apple, mango, kiwi and tangerine.

Our Swedish friends joined us and told us of the vernissage at the Salle Marianne where they had bought a sculpture before it opened and suggested we join them for the real exhibition.

 I was entranced with a sculpture by the Burkina Fasso artist, Kossi Traoré, who was exhibiting of a mother holding up a child which showed the joy of both.

Rick bought it for me. It meets two of the three criteria for me to own anything: beautiful and a memory.

We went to the Short Film Festival in a nearby town. The festival had selected 38 shorts from the 800 submitted from 78 countries. We watched 13 and scored them on the form given us. What fascinated me was, with one exception, our scoring was very different. The reasons were a pleasure to share adding another depth to the showing.

We also discovered a cultural center and exhibits that we hadn't know existed. Something else to explore.

Then home to a quiet night with Sherlock.

Each moment of the day was a tickle to the senses, an experience. But the best part was I with someone I love and someone who stimulates my imagination, makes me think, laugh.


My husband really should appreciate me. I am easy to please, although sometimes he doesn't believe when I ask for something, I'm serious.

We go back and forth a lot between Southern France and Geneva, taking anywhere from six to eight hours with stops. I travel light, one small suitcase (the kind that fits in the overhead) and my computer. In fact that was all I needed for a month in Edinburgh, but that's another story.

He loads the car full with his stuff. During the trip, we add food wrappers, empty water bottles, and all kinds of stuff.

Even on small day trips it seems the bad trash fairy fills the car.

Since we first started making the trips by car (pre-Rick I only trained it) I wanted a trash can (for the poubelle) so all the detritus was in one place.

He thought I was joking when I kept saying, we had to get a mini-trash can for our poubelle. Since he does 95% of all our shopping and the stores in Argeles didn't carry small poubelle cans, the discussion went on, not as a nag, but as sidebar so to speak.

Then this week he bought me my desired gift...see photo above.

Some women want expensive jewelry, diamonds, rubies or pearls. Some want furs. He made me ecstatic with a trash can for under 10 Euros. However he did mention my desire for a $45 million plane. A Falcon 6X might do nicely for our many trips between the south of France and Geneva as long as it has a can for the poubelle.

He has a dueling blog at

Thursday, March 15, 2018

History unfolded

Sometimes there are books that are irreplaceable. I originally bought The Complete Works of the Mayflower Pilgrim by Caleb H. Johnson to do research for my novel Murder in Caleb's Landing. It was a limited edition and back in the 90s I paid $125 for it. Similar books by Johnson are now available at Amazon.

I've kept the book, not for cozy bedtime reading, but it is fun to open to any page for an insight into another time every now and then.

"I understand from Mr. Prence, who had it from an Indian of good esteem amongst them, that the Narraganansetts (sic) prepare for war, that the Mohawks have promised to aid them with a thousand men in the spring." William Bradford

"They lay a false charge upon the churches in affirming 'that Christian vigilance is now may exercised towards such as are not in church fellowship.'" Edward Winslow

"These people are not (as some have thought) a dull of slender-witted people, but very ingenious and very subtle." Thomas Morton about Indians.

"It pleased God to take away, by death, Mr. William Paddy, who was a precious servant of Christ." Nathaniel Morton.

There is a section of the wills with inventories.

Mary Ring left to her son "all my brass and pewter." She also left him her bed and two white blankets.

Samuell Eaton of Middleberry left:
  • 3 cows
  • 2 two-yeer (sic)old heiffer and one, one-yeer old.
  • 2 colts
  • 2 mare
  • a horse
  • undisclosed number of swine
He also elaborated on his tools, ground Indian corn. He must have been wealthy for his day. His debts were a fraction of the value of what he left behind, although by today's standards he would be poor.

Matthew Slade wrote to Sir Dudley Carleton about a missing William Brewster.

And then there is "A PARTICULAR ANSWER TO THE Manifold Slanderers and Abominable Falsehoods contained in an article called Simplicities defense against Seven-headed Policy: Wherein Samuel Gorton, desperately dangerous to his Countrymen the English in New England and notorious slanderous in what he he hath Printed of them. This is not a catchy title but probably a 1600s version of fake news concerns pre-Internet.

As a modern writer, I want to edit, edit, edit, the flowery language and standardize the spelling.

The respect I have for Johnson in bringing together all this material has no limit.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Snow day

As a kid growing up in New England, waking to snow meant staying in bed and listening to the no school announcements. Because they were read alphabetically, and I lived in Reading, it was a long wait to be able to snuggle back under the covers with a non-school required book.

Then later in the day my brother and I would build snow forts. My grandmother would heat maple syrup and pour it on the dish of snow that we'd scooped up and given to her. It hardened into a great candy.

My mother would set up jigsaw puzzles in front of the fire. We had to do the border before we could do the insides. Sometimes there was a story log, where stories were told or read while a log burned.

My daughter had a much-reduced waiting time to learn Latin would not open. We lived in B for Boston. Read after the Actons, Arlingtons, Belmonts...

Now school closings are on line.

Although Switzerland photos often include snow-covered Alps and people skiing down mountains with a background of chalets, Geneva itself does not often get heavy snow or even snow. I lived here three years before there was even a dusting and that was on Valentine's Day while I was eating in a Japanese restaurant.

A couple of years ago while I was undergoing chemo, there was enough snow and I had enough strength that with my husband we made a snow rabbit on our patio.

Thus yesterday, when our Rick parted the curtains to take Sherlock for his first walk of the day, we were delighted to see a white world compared to the green and brown one visible when we went to bed.

Our original lunch plans with an Egyptian friend had already been cancelled. He wasn't arriving in Geneva until Friday. There was everything we needed to eat in the frigo and cabinets. No need to go out except for the dog.

Thus there was extra reading, some writing and a bit more time to catch up on paperwork. We could watch the Beast from the East, as this storm blanketing much of Europe has been called from the warmth of our home.

Even without forts, maple syrup candy and puzzles, the day was a gift of calm and beauty.

My former housemate who did go out has a blog on a snow day in Geneva a different perspective.

My husband has a different point of view


The warmth of the bus was welcomed after Geneva's icy cold. I sat next to a young woman.

I adore public transportation bus and train. In Geneva with its traffic hangups it is often faster than a car. Sometimes I find the most interesting people and if I don't there's always the window to inspect the scenery city or country.

This young woman was disabled, but worked 35% as a secretary. She confessed to being afraid of tornadoes and dreamed of being a doctor. Having just finished work, she was finding time to visit her granny who had a stroke. "Most people can't understand Granny, but I can." We spoke mainly in French, with a smattering of English. 

She asked me if I were English and accepted my explanation that I was born in America, but was Swiss, and learned French starting at 48 when I moved to Neuchâtel.

We talked about following dreams and even if one never reached their goal, trying was an experience one might never have if they didn't try.

We both descended at Rive and crossed the street. At the French macaroon store, she went right, and I went left to catch the next tram.

I had a single seat the rest of the way, but felt warmer than the weather deserved for a brief friendly encounter, with a person who had dreams and the hope to take some steps toward achieving them while being aware the chances were slim.