Sunday, January 21, 2018

Self help

Self-help is a $20 billion industry between books, apps and products. But is it causing more problems than it solves, so asks the Jan. 15 issue of the New Yorker.

A question is why do we need to spend so much time, money and energy fixing ourselves to a point of constant discontent and sense of failure.

Maybe I'll write a book called, Weaning Yourself off Self-Help.

Subtitle, The Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need."

Friday, January 19, 2018


I was in the shower this morning, when it dawned on me, except for paint for our flat that I want to buy. I have enough or more than enough of everything I need or want. Okay there is the exception of books.

I told my husband.

"You're a failure as a consumer," he told me.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I have a friend, a widow, who had many years of a good marriage. She has done a remarkable job building a new life. This year she went skiing for the first time in decades. My reaction was, "I am so proud of her."

One of the definitions of pride is a reasonable or justifiable self-respect.

I shouldn't be proud of her. I had nothing to do with her courage in living.  I wasn't there during her times of self-doubt and often not there when she pushed herself to do something new or difficult. 

When my daughter has some new accomplishment, I may feel a sense of pride on the off chance I did something right in raising her, but deep down I know, she accomplished the things on her own. My part may have been placing things that helped her should she decide to use them, like a good education, but I never conjugated her Latin verbs or passed the accounting exam or wrote her masters thesis. She did that.

Then I came up with a different phrase...I am so proud for the sense that I recognize the accomplishment and want you to know I care and celebrate what you've accomplished.

Hope that is a better phrase.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Not having a dog for more than a decade, I'd forgotten how much a pup adds to one's life.

We wanted a rescue dog, probably an older one. We didn't want to go thru the puppy training. And we thought, because we are older, we'd probably outlive older dog.

That was before Spider, now known as Sherlock, was put in my arms. All preconceptions disappeared in a lick.

What has been fascinating is watching not just his growth (oops he can reach that now, put it higher) and how quick he learns. He mastered "sit" fast if you consider sit is having your butt graze the floor.
A few days later "sit" lasts longer and the treat can stay on the floor until we give the okay -- unless we take too long, that is.

His household accidents have diminished and biting is reduced.

Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, has become my favorite youtube.

Mostly it is the pleasure of watching Sherlock put his toys away in his chosen place, moving his bed and blanket to where he wants it. He has a mind of his own, and is only beginning to realize that Rick is Alpha dog in our pack and I'm Beta. He can be any of the rest of the letters.

In a way, it reminds me of my daughter's early days, where each day there was something new in her development.

We are part of P3 (Puppy PJ Parade) Club in the early morning hours for the first walk. And I find I am talking more to neighbors in French and/or English. My feelings aren't hurt that they greet Sherlock before me.

To say he has altered our lives, is a true statement. As for our hearts, there is a wiggly puppy that has set up his own place there.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Davos demonstrations

The U.S. embassy in Bern has issued an alert to American citizens concerning the World Economic Forum in Davos. They expect major anti-Trump demonstrations.

"Demonstration Alert – U. S. Embassy Bern, Switzerland (January 12, 2018)
"Location:  Bern, Geneva, Zurich, Davos, and possibly other cities in Switzerland – monitor local media for confirmed locations and times.
"Event:  Planned and unplanned demonstrations are expected to take place in a variety of locations in the lead up to the 2018 World Economic Forum which will take place January 23 – 26, 2018 in Davos, Switzerland.
"Actions to Take:
  • Monitor local media for information about specific demonstrations
  • Avoid the areas of the demonstrations
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities at all times
  • Exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests
  • Keep a low profile"
As for the actions to take, I suspect many Americans will be demonstrating not afraid of actions against them during the demonstrations. So many times people have come up to me and asked me to explain Trump. This has included
  • a nurse in the emergency room as she took my blood pressure
  • my dentist
  • my vet
  • strangers on public transportation
  • other diners in restaurants 
  • people on the street

    If I were home in Switzerland, I would be demonstrating too.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Not well traveled

It is not a joke when I say my mother thought if you went two towns away you fell off the edge of the earth. We were on the same street as the country club where we played golf and swam (I waded). The Quanapowitt Players put on three plays a year and the Reading Symphony would satisfy any classical musical urges.

I was not allowed to go on school trips to Boston (12 miles away). I was an adult before I walked the close by Lexington/Concord battlefields, where my country was born. Some of my classmates thought I had a heart condition which prevented me from going on the bus. In reality it was a neurotic mother.

My freshman year of college at Lowell, MA I was under a half hour away. When the boy I was dating wanted to take me to meet his parents in Attleboro, it was forbidden. That would have taken about an hour by car.

A year later to the day, I sailed on the S.S. America to join my new husband (different boy) for his Army stint in Stuttgart, Germany.

I didn't fall off the edge of the earth. I discovered the world I thought was out there really was there. He was in an Army band, a public relations unit, and we played fashings and fests in cities and villages around Germany. Wives were encouraged to go. I need no urging.

My ex wasn't much for travel when we returned to the States, but we did go to Niagara Falls to see his sister, D.C. to meet up with friends and NH.

The year we separated I took a trip alone to London. I tried to visit Europe at least once if not two to three times a year after that. When my daughter was nine she began to go with me at least on some of the trips.

There was a point I realized that she'd been to Europe five times without ever seeing her own capital. We made sure she saw D.C.

Eventually I found a way to live in Europe (about 800 C.V.s mailed across the Atlantic) and between business and pleasure trips, I explored the European countries. I knew life had changed when I HAD TO GO to London on a business trip and I wanted to spend a weekend at home to catch up with laundry. If I could have kicked myself for resenting the trip, when once going to London would have been a miracle, I should have.

Though I've been to Turkey, Iceland and Syria too,  I now know I am not that well-traveled in comparison to many of my friends who talk about their trips to India, China, Japan, Bali, Thailand, Australian, Mauritius, South Africa and most places that one can find on a world map.

Even school children (public and private) get to go on school trips that once were only a fantasy nothing like Lexington and Concord which were down the road from Reading where I grew up. Imagine skiing in the Alps or building a school in Tanzania  or giving a play in Jordan as part of your curriculum .

I am not complaining nor am I jealous. I've come/gone a long way from being that "little girl in Reading" that one of my friend's used as a description when he listened to my adventures. He had never been further than Maine.

I don't take it for granted that I am at home in Paris, comfortable in London, happy in Vienna. I also am proud that it is still an adventure to discover some historical event, a natural phenomena that most people aren't aware of off the usual tourist destinations. No matter where I have been, there is something to delight.

I am happy that when I went more than two towns away, I did not fall off the edge of the earth. I am also happy for my friends who have been able to discover even more than I have.

It's a huge world out there...Carpe diem.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

His face

When the man walked into La Noisette, I did a triple take. His resemblance to my father, when my Dad was younger, was striking, especially the chin, face shape and eyes. His eyebrows were slightly thicker than my Dad's but the baldness was the same.

However, my father died 35 years ago.

Unlike my father, the man at La Noisette did not wear glasses.

Three more times at La Noisette, I saw him. And when I was having a blood test, he was at the lab too. The last time I went up and mentioned how much he looked like my father. He wasn't sure how to respond. I thanked him for the memories.

I just found this photo of my Dad, taken at the surprise party with all the aunts and uncles to announce that he was going to be a grandfather. He was the last of the siblings to have a grandchild and he had teased them so much they all asked me to tell them first when I was pregnant for some loving payback. It was great party with joke gifts.

I still miss my father. Due to family dynamics, I did not know him as a child. When I was at university, he appeared. He had been afraid of rejection, but my wonderful stepmom encouraged him to make contact. We developed a wonderful relationship.

There is one major difference. My father smiled a lot. The man at La Noisette does not. Yet, seeing his look alike, smiley or not, brings back all the good memories.