April 14, 2017

BACK TO BLOG! And turning 70.

About time!
In January I turned 70, had a party, gave a speech.
I dislike pomp in most forms, and don't have much occasion to speak to more than a few people at a time. Here I allowed myself the luxury of a Talk. 
I hammered it out the day of the party, and there it was: politics. Not my fave rave, but couldn't help it. It's the flavor of the year, and not a good one.

70th birthday party
January 21st 2017

I feel so happy having you all here and being able, with huge help from John, to feed and water and entertain you. I want you to kick back and enjoy yourselves, talk, dance, meditate, enjoy the wonderful music of the evening, enjoy the ‘whine’ corner if you want to complain about politics (a good pun suggested by Karin), try a game of chess, whatever.

My blog book from Bicontinental Boomer is on the counter on a string – take a look at it! Had it printed up last week for fun—there are only two copies! It’s unedited, unadulterated and pretty much in the order it was written. My random ramblings, essays, protests, musings, etc. If there’s any demand I may have a second printing, with smaller font and at lower cost. I’m not a regular on my own blog, but it’s still there in the blogosphere waiting for my rants on Trump and nationalism.

Family and friends from be-Trumped America – Kira, Pete and Nora, Jeff and Mel – dear International School friends from pre-EU and post-Brexit United Kingdom, the Netherlands via Slovenia, dear old friends who made the harrowing drive all the way from the Canton de Vaud, other school friends, work friends, old Petit Jardin Day Care friends, Tuesday Pote friends, Saturday market friends, Sunday Ladies friends, Shakespeare friends, music friends, and dear friends who defy categorization– thank you sooo much for coming here tonight!

And other close ones who could not be here, here in spirit, some with the heavy burden of ill health.

Some things are harder to put aside. The ‘unreal reality show’ as Gowri put it, of the Trump presidency. And as our son Adam says about it – ‘it’s all a reality show’. And it is, and I guess the sooner we acknowledge this new reality and reckon with its consequences the better.

This morning I went with some friends to the women’s solidarity march which went from the Jardin Anglais.
I think of a demonstration as a last resort, a form of despair that gets your legs moving – that drives collective protest– when people feel unheard, when injustice is not addressed, when people have been cheated or lied to, oppressed, impoverished.

I’m not much of a marcher, though I have close friends who are.
I marched against the war in Vietnam in the sixties and in the seventies, and each time felt it was a cry . The jury’s still out on that one – whether these protests made a real difference – auditory and visual drives to change directed at  a complex and cagey government.

Now I’m marching because things are angling out of control and a deep and dangerous populism is emerging --riddled with prejudice, frustration, incomprehension and fatigue with what government was apparently unable to do.

I wonder how much we can ask of any government, any group, and when things begin to veer out of control.

But we must be vigilant for signs of incipient fascism, a term I have never used to refer to any American or western European country since Spain under Franco, with question marks for Stalin, who was still alive when I’d  learned how to read, Hoxha and  Ceaucescu, who dictated under other flags…..as a very fortunate American of Jewish descent living in a free Europe…...
The strange rhetoric we are hearing from politicians, and now from a US President, of all people, of all countries…..very troubling. 
What at first seemed amusing, a gamey game show of a wealthy manipulative man, now a man who cannot help lying and whose moral compass has no point and spins with his whims and winds up pointing nowhere but in his own ego.

Surely, we think, he will show compassion, understanding, build bridges.
But listening, after the fact, to his inaugural speech, every statement that could be construed as positive has a troubling undertone, something subversive, unsavory.  Change there will be, and just you wait, he tells us.
I don’t think we can----it is terrible to see it unravel, undone, stripped of its sense of good, of equality, of justice.

Even if a government never lives up to its lofty ideals, people must carry on striving to live up to them.

Not just another birthday. A big one, and you’re celebrating with me. It’s a real honor you’ve come here – and I hope you eat, drink, make merry and are happy tonight, and we can forget the troubles of a troubled world and the troubles of our smaller worlds.

February 16, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Marie Kondo --- backing out of chaos at what price?

It's a new religion, and I dig it -- deliverance from our material insanity, our cumulative and accumulative manias, deep-seated DNA memories of poverty and deprivation that have us crying more! More is good!

I read her book (the first one - there's a sequel) and yes, with help from my son cleared the living-room-dining-room of books, trinkets, plus a bunch of stuff I didn't love and everything stored on the floor (months of back issues of the NY Review of Books and the Courrier International, books, papers, DVDs, charity letters, cartoon clippings, Christmas cards...)

I saw the light!

Now I can chill in the living-room and read a single book I've culled from a book-shelf (not in the living-room) and read a current article and feel, what--more objective? more intellectually fresh? undistracted? All of the above.

Now I love my living-room. I love reading in my living-room.
Thing is---there's a very small space allotted to books. Most of them are downstairs in the 'book room' which is books surrounded by wood panelling, keeping company with boots and  shoes and a stack of rolled rugs.
Needless to say I haven't yet brought Kondo downstairs in the bookroom.
How to I handle it? When it comes to books.....what do you do?
Kondo wants us touch it, feel the vibe, feel the love - do you love it? do you get a buzz? Is your life enriched by this object, er sorry, book?

What do you do with Brainfood?

Here's an eloquent article I tripped over.


There's still magic in them thar' books.
Maybe we need to inhabit our caves of chaos until the end.
Our mental riches, the heritage of our own lived and vicariously lived lives.

In retirement, I'm beginning to double back to odd tomes of yesteryear -- Love's Body by N.O.Brown, Give Sorrow Words by Maryse Holder, feminist works of the '70s, The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman...

So when it comes time to Kondo-izing the book room, I think I'll be standing at the door, gazing lovingly over dusty, long-neglected volumes and thinking:

An old book.
Yes, I could get back to that book.
I could hold it in my carpal-tunneled, freckled hands and see how it speaks to me fifty years after I first opened it.

February 7, 2016


I'm not fanatic about checking weather reports, but as there's an open house today at the new, temporary Opera des Nations, I had quick look at meteo.ch on my computer, with the German translated into English automatically -- thank you Robot! I copied part of the report directly from the wabsite.
One of those things that adds spice to multi-linguality.

German-Speaking Switzerland, northern and central Grisons:

On Sunday morning, the hairdryer achieved in the northern Alpine valleys its maximum with wind gusts between 100 and 120 km / h.He brings again temperatures around 15 degrees and can be felt to Lake Constance and Lake Zurich. A cold front reached the morning the Jura. Here it starts to rain strongly. The rain zone comes to lunch ahead to Reuss and achieved afternoon eastern Switzerland. The hair comes to an end, followed by stormy winds from the west. Behind the front there are still some showers with snow to about 800 meters. Towards evening calmed the weather.

Rereading this I just noticed the rain zone coming to lunch and the hair coming to an end.

This is the link, but when I checked 15 minutes later, the above paragraph was.....gone!
Oh well. I swear this is an exact copy!!


French and German for " a hot southerly wind on the northern slopes of the Alpes"  = foehn or föhn, which is also the term for a hairdryer.

Hair =  er.....air???

Rain zone comes to lunch = well at least it's not the Iceman cometh.....

And while we're on weather, I always loved this symbol used by météo -- they hedge their bets....and their butts. 
Just as we told you. 
Don't blame us, it's part of the picture. 
Got it covered.

February 5, 2016


After a long break like this one, got to get back on that horse!
Not that I exactly fell off the horse....I sort of slipped slowly off it into blog silence, all the while brewing verbal decoctions that I never served up.
Metaphor alert: horses, tisanes.

Since April so many events:  horrifying terrorist attacks, storms, floods, continued rise of ISIS, populations on the move, with still mounting refugee and humanitarian crises, lead-up to US election time and the waltz of the candidates, the devastating Zika virus, to name a few.
Not to mention fibrillations of everyday life - illness, also death of close ones.

Still, I celebrate by flogging the dead metaphor and then applying a new look from the pre-programmed rack on blogger.com - a change from the vaguely Greek ruins of recent years.
Not too hard on the eyes but not too artistic either.
Books with no titles you say? To be written? To be en-titled?

Anyway...simple can be good.
So here's simple!

April 5, 2015

ABAS ESNE GLEY AZOTH and the power of WORD

This isn't an abstruse prayer or some incantation from a wizard's manual.

These are considered words by Words With Friends, my not-so-secret addiction. Except for guff (and I had the wrong definition) and perhaps oasts and one or two others, I didn't recognize the following concantenations of vowels and consonants.
There must be a handful of word maniacs out there who know these are words and who might even know some definitions. Not I, said the cat. Meanwhile, we others can merely gawk:  

odyle waur
quelea coteau ono braxy hheze
oxo utevoera tooner qanat olla
skirr coloni tophes buhl
jora sike dedal feus
guff exon cexil litten vid
edg minify dawt gooral  botel
ratite naoi euoid nide
neuk reid tical adown
ryokan frag
guyot redd thacks
deash leu jarl nipa mun elhi
panne latu sones alular sozin mem
leu jurels hao azon dorr jun upo moai
Mako dhuti resh
lustra hod edg zamias
oasts pein
exon dawen roband oidia azine
eme cains
aa nonelite
gumutis exon
veejay urodele
disme mho fano mured rya
edh torc ghaut hacek ghaut keir
tuque avion linga snath biota yetts
teud yar nurl odyl ceil pules alvine
garget terbic tigon eyra

March 30, 2015

FASHIONASTY - a brief rant

Are we back to the 'fifties? As in nineteen fifties, with those imprisoning latex girdles, cashmere sweaters, tight frocks with short sleeves? Occasionally. We're seeing some dresses that look like they were lifted from an Imelda Marcos's closet. Tight repressive lines and form-fitting by materials that don't deserve to mold a female body.

Fifties clothes were a kind of repression on steroids.

Late sixties rebellious stripes and minidresses are being referenced.

Designers are over all over the map in fashion.
It's back to the sixties in fifties pink.
Minidress + trimmings.
Note the eighties-inspired broad-shouldered jacket.
From Olympia Le Tan's Spring-Summer 2015 collection:

Below? Balmain -- surprise me! Spring 2015 Paris Fashion Week--pops us back to Mondrian, stripes, Pop Art and elephant pants, but you have to admit, 21st century Balmain class.

Still and all (a lovely connector phrase my friend Janice used to use), there is flattery in imitation, and there's a whole lot of that flattery these days.
There are exceptions:  the pink jacket below makes this model's hips look pregnant, with a blocky torso effect.  Instead of the boring old tailored jackets of the past, let's have a jacket that cancels out all a woman's best features like waist, breasts, curves!

Below left a late fifties/early sixties party dress.
Right, contemporary prints, skirts in all lengths

A Lonely Heart from Sgt. Pepper?