June 24, 2022


 Was working on another entry but I've been side-swiped by the news.

We knew the Supreme Court in its present formulation was going to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Of course we knew it. Without quite believing it. So it's no surprise.

But it's a profound shock to the system, our system, our rights, our safety, and the governance over our own bodies. 

Does a woman look forward to an abortion?  Hell NO, but there are times and circumstances when this procedure is necessary: from the quality of life of the mother and to avoid bringing an unwanted child into our fraught world to suffer its indignities. Not to mention forces majeures like rape, incest, underage pregnancies, poverty, too many children, drug addiction, illness.......Is it unfortunate to have to do it? Hell YES. But that doesn't mean a court can give freedom to individual States of the Union to determine what a woman chooses.  

I remember, and so do all of my friends and associates: back in the day women were butchered or butchered themselves and died of infection. Illegal abortions were highly dangerous, clandestine, unprotected. I knew women who travelled from other states to New York, where it was still 'illegal' but relatively easy to obtain and far safer -it was a place of refuge. A terrified, unhappy woman had to make the trip to New York - and it was still not truly legal. It was terrible. I helped one of them on her unhappy journey -- she came over from France in 1967 -- desolate and disoriented.

The court has closed a bracket on Roe vs. Wade --  a bracket that included a better, freer, remarkable period of time: despite horrible attacks on abortion clinics and their staff, it was legal, possible and relatively safe. 

Now it will be over in many states. Will this discourage courageous women from travelling to another state? No, but the poor, who can't afford the trip, and the young and powerless, who don't have the wherewithal, will suffer the most.

This is a shock. Off with the brackets, get back to sanity.

June 18, 2022



Cognitive Reserve

The life raft for fading university graduates?

The buzzword of the year?

The little change purse of tricks to use when a common word eludes you? Like a small federal reserve, all in your head (well, you hope....).

Cognitive Reserve is a sexy topic these (post-Covid) days -- good for Baby Boomers. The Harvard label (branding?) implies Valid Research, Credibility, Academic Backing, Intelligent Perspective, Help For You Who Are Afraid You're Losing It. You can pay for online courses and exercise your flabby brain for hours. Ah, maybe this will do it! Boxes and flow-charts and sequence narration and memory games.

Your private Cognitive Reserve doesn't recall names all on its own. It needs care & feeding, the right diet, supplements in the form of gross pills and gel capsules, extracts and syrups, plenty of exercise, plenty of rest.. the right proportion of work / social life / hobbies / pursuits....i.e. A Meaningful Life. So help me...This is supposed to slow down dementia, which may or may not get you in the end.

It's all vague woo-woo, let's be good to our minds and bodies so maybe the old Alzheimer Witch won't come knocking at your cranium. Being a tad ADD,  'good to our bodies' puts me in mind of those healthy extracted fruit and vegetable juices - what are they called now? Ah yes, Smoothies! a late twentieth century term.

I'm still on the Harvard Health mailing list. I once ordered their booklet on hand injuries and arthritis and how to address them with the appropriate doctor, the right imaging, great rehab exercises. Complete with scientific illustrations and charts. (Or did I get the general arthritis manual?). Harvard Health appeals to hypochondriacs and true sufferers. I haven't yet purchased other wares or signed up for the privilege of asking questions on any medical issue that crosses my mind at 2 am.

Conversations! Famous Whoevers you try to fish out of the murky pool of memory in the course of a relaxed conversation....gone until your Cognitive Reserve kicks in (if you're lucky) and feeds you a hint, a rhyme, a song that will retrieve it. Hearing the song Lili Marlene I suddenly recall the exotic actress and gifted inventor with patents in her own name.....ah  yes, Hedy Lamarr! Music evokes memory. So does relaxation, when the name of that elusive flower comes to you at the end of a nap -- yes! Digitalis!

For now I take in Harvard's kind recommendations without paying for more detailed brochures (which I'd probably mislay) and try to lead a healthier life. I want to love life for whatever it is at the moment.



May 27, 2022


George W.Bush made a Freudian slip of world proportions.

The Russian invasion of Iraq! ......oops, Ukraine.

Iraq was on his mind.

The US in Iraq, Russia in Ukraine and Syria, Russia and the US in Afghanistan, oh how do you keep all these straight?
The larger animal en-gulfs the smaller, merging messily to become a monster mistake of foreign policy.

His excuse? He's seventy-five! Aw shucks!
An excuse for this gaffe, conflating nations and invasions and time frames.

Do I fault the shucks-who-me? man who stumbled into the presidency with scant knowledge, a lot of money, a faux-Texan mouth slouch, charm and simply nothing to lose but his cheerful sobriety?

Hell yes! At 75 I make lots of mistakes, but not on the world scene of (ir)responsibility.
I forget things too, Georgie Porgie, but not vast invasions of truth.

I hope this on-camera boo-boo jolts you into sanity and you go somewhere sane. 
Recognize your colossal mistake.

It ain't dementia, old boy. It's guilt.

January 18, 2022

75 and still dreaming I'm younger and potentially fantastic

Here it is: I'm squarely in my mid-seventies. Today.

Happy Birthday to Me.

Last night I dreamt I was pretending I was some sort of doctor or scientist at a workshop - we all had to participate in the cooking and cleaning up, and although I'd just arrived, I was assigned at the last minute to prepare a gourmet dish. 

People were outperforming each other for culinary speed and virtuosity in the large collective space, and were proving that they were skilled above and beyond their prestigious professional credentials.

I was cooking cauliflower (?brain?) in a tasteless broth, and scrambling for other ingredients to add pizzazz, or at least something. A clever woman with lots of letters after her name was grilling cutlets on her own, not bothering with the collective efforts, and I had to admire her: plus where did she get the personal cutlets? Had she smuggled them in with her running shoes?

And there I was, with the false trappings of a profession I never entered and struggling with a smelly vegetable. Ignominious or what?

So there it is. 

I'm still narrating Dream Tales of the Ego to my subconscious and losing out as an impostor.

What will I be in my dreams when I turn 80?  

A geneticist? A charismatic cult leader? A garden-variety psychic? Simply 80?


Since January 4th I've been totally dry, the day a good friend sent out a gentle challenge to a few of us to try Dry January, and without really thinking about it I said yes, and then downloaded a British app for the occasion. It's an app you use to test how many units of alcohol you are consuming per week, assigning a grade out of 10 (I won't tell), and offers of many 'astuces' as the French would call them for how you handle those moments when a glass of wine seems like the best idea you've come up with all day and it's only 5 pm. And not fall back on the usual Covid excuse?

No, I'm not addicted, I had no physical withdrawal symptoms, and the first days were easy, even heady with how easy it was. 

Second week not so great, as I began to realize how my day gravitated toward an evening rendez-vous with some fairly decent red wine. I was becoming a bit of a connoisseur, comparing grape varietals with interesting names and the flavors that rolled over the tongue and up into the nostrils. And a subject of my online research and offers of good Bordeaux from French wine distributors which arrive in my inbox daily. 1jour1vin, La Grande Cave, Bodeboca.....

Wine porn? Sort of. I invested in some vins primeurs, which should be delivered to me in a couple of years, after they've aged gracefully in a French cave.

Mindfulness, replacing one habit (reflex) with another, being aware of how/where/when you're missing it (the wine fix) and why. There are countless (boring) recommendations of candles, hot baths, naps, chocolate, more chocolate....

These days I'm browsing online for cashmere instead of cabernet, buying ginger ale for the intense tongue-buzz.

Is today's blog a journal of alcohol-free experience? Well yes, sort of - if it helps why not?
I'd been feeling that some neurons were firing more slowly. Brain sludge. Even this week while I was doing the Quick Crossword in the Guardian I didn't get the clue to which the answer was 'filet mignon' - a cut of beef beneath the sirloin...The week before I didn't get 'deuce' in tennis....I mean really!! I want to stay sharp as long as possible.

I gave up my pack and a half smoking addiction years ago,, I can do this.

But does it mean no wine forever or just resetting the......er.. bar?

I think I'll stay dry  for a couple of months and see if I can write the great expat novel.

One can always see....

*"'The Near Future' is the name of a song written by Irving Berlin in 1919. It is better known for the small part of its lyric that took on a life of its own: 'How Dry I Am'.

The term 'Dry' in that time period meant abstinence from alcohol, and support of Prohibition. Those who took the opposite approach and/or view were often called 'Wet'. Prohibition became fact in 1920, in 'the near future' after the song was issued.

This portion of the song...

How dry I am, how dry I am
It's plain to see just why I am
No alcohol in my highball
And that is why so dry I am

...became known for its ironic use, by people getting drunk and singing it, sometimes in harmony, in all manner of popular media, especially Warner Bros. cartoons. That usage necessitated removing the parts that overtly denied drinking, which tended to reduce the song to these two lines:

How dry I am, how dry I am
Nobody knows how dry I am... Hooow dryyy I aaaaaam!"

link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Near_Future

The phrase "how dry I am" had become structured into song and referred specifically to drinking alcohol by at least 1898, as one journal describes a college drinking song that goes:
   'How dry I am, How dry I am!/God only knows How dry I am'

August 5, 2021


Week of August 2nd: Swiss Airlines destinations of the week: Porto, Santorini, Valencia 

On Monday Swiss Airlines wrote to us proposing getaways to mouth-watering destinations that are not in flames or, we hope, too risky. Hit the button and you're in Porto in a quick hour, feet in the water or viewing the Douro river, sipping local port and juggling languages. Easy, so easy. 

Or exotic Santorini, awash in blue and white. 

Or Valencia for a big dose of Spain, dense beauty and history.

The airline dangles these destination-temptations before a surfing clientele fed-up with reading about the variant-du-jour.

Apparently as long as you have your Covid 'passport' you should be able to travel easily, and for under 100 francs why not? A getaway is also an attempted escape from fear. 

Much of France has retired to the coasts, foregoing the habitual intense dedication to administrative work.  More time to discuss our bodies, Covid status, families, politics of course, recent operations, climate change, upcoming operations, births, deaths and other human activities.

We continue to welcome friends (with masks), do a bit of gardening, we're eating at outdoor restaurants and taking dips in Lac LĂ©man.

However there are planetary problems:

Alpha         a torrential rains, flooding summer

Beta            a hot, fiery, devastating summer

Gamma       the continuing tragedy of the world's refugees

Delta           that nasty, international, fast-moving variant     

The devil is in not in the details of smaller concerns, but in the suffering of planet earth and the devastation this suffering brings on.

One continues to seek other frontiers and other messages, but it's our world, and we're still in it.