Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Light at the End of the 'Tunnel'

Yesterday, D-L had a follow-up visit with the chief ortho maxillary surgeon at HUG to check her progress since last Wednesday's surgery. Glad to report the prognosis is excellent. The swelling is not as bad as they expected. And her healing is more rapid than typical ... which I attribute, at least in part, to her positive and feisty spirit. She simply won't let a few cracked bones get in the way of her life. (She'd already written a couple thousand words of her new novel in the early morning hours!)

The best news: in six weeks, she can blow her nose again!

I told her that on that date - September 10 - all her friends around the world could blow their noses simultaneously with her ... we'll have a 'coming out' party in honor of her cleared sinuses.

They took an x-ray of her skull, but I'll not pre-empt her posting it to her own blog -

Since we had to go downtown to the hospital, we had lunch at Marro, then ran some errands along the way - bank, travel agency, Orange mobile phone store. Determining the bus and tram options was a bit of a challenge since they changed some routes and construction detours made for some unfamiliarity. I still marvel, though, how easy it is to get around Geneva and Europe in general via public transportation.

After we came back to the house, I mowed the lawn and washed the outdoor furniture to prepare for Thursday's Swiss Independence Day party. Topped off the day with a bowl of sherbert and a couple episodes of 'Cheers,' which reminded of some good times in Boston many years ago. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Light and Sound Show

I've always loved to watch storms. Well, with exception of the time I was struck by lightning (which may explain a lot of things about me for some of you).

Last evening, we watched the beginnings of an all-nighter roll in from the southwest over Lac Leman. Shot some video (, from which I was able to capture some flashes of cloud-to-ground lightning.

As you look at the images, trust me, the Jura mountains are beyond the far shore of the lake, totally obscured by the several shades of grey.

Fascinating to watch ... and listen - rolling thunder, chattering birds, a barking dog, cars racing to beat the impending downpour, the rushing wind, the initial raindrops plinking against the glass of the sliding door to the balcony, the windchimes tinkling their song but also thrashing against the fascia.

Even observed an airplane on approach to GVA; surprised they cleared him to land with all the electrical activity close by. And, at the end of the video, you may notice a powerboat on the choppy lake water trying to tow a sail-less boat into Corsier Port.

Of course, I had watered the plants an hour or so earlier. And taken down the patio umbrella and rolled up the various awnings.

We didn't get very wet from the advancing wind I filmed, but by late evening the wind had calmed and the precipitation became heavy and straight down. Was nice to open the attic windows and drift off to sleep listening to the rain on the roof.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Clip Clop

Most mornings at the house in Geneva, sometimes as we're waking, sometimes through the day, we'll hear the clip-clop, clip-clop of horse hooves on the pavement of the road which leads down to Lac Leman. It's a wonderful cadence of the rural-like Corsier Port, even though we're 10 clics or less from the centre of downtown Geneva.

Other sounds are as pleasant - a chorus of birds, from seagulls to doves to crows; the neighbours' dogs, one of them a bit incessant; the gentle lapping of the water on the rocks as you get close to the lake - but the sound of a majestic walking horse is unique, rare, adding a special note to the ambience of this place.

Often when I hear the approaching horse, I'll go to the window of the attic office where I'm working to see it walk past. Often it's the ambassador's steed - the female rider ambles the horse up to the gate, touches in the code, the gate opens, the horse saunters in, and the gate closes behind. Yesterday, a man pushing a baby stroller stopped on the sidewalk to watch; I can only imagine the infant's thoughts as it observed, from about 2 feet off the ground, the 6-foot high 1000-pound four-legged beast looming in front of it.

It's been awhile since I rode a horse, though I've always enjoyed the experience. D-L and I rode horses when we first met in Missouri, and something she said then has always stayed with me because it reflected her positive attitude toward life. As we approached the barn, the aroma was, well, almost overpowering. But rather than focus on the negative of the smell, she remarked, "There must be a pony in here somewhere."

You can get through the challenges of life a whole lot easier with such a positive outlook.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thought my gardening days were over

I have long enjoyed gardening. Perhaps it started with digging holes in the lawn when I was a teenager - 4 and 1/4 inch holes, which were the targets for my wiffle-ball golf course around (and sometimes over) the house.

I've had a large vegetable garden, including tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes grown in old tires, and even pumpkins one year when Alicia wanted to grow our own. Didn't realize that the vines ran everywhere, so I couldn't cut the grass in the 'back 40' until after Halloween.

More recently my focus has been flowers, shrubs, trees, and stone borders. Half-dead double-knockout roses that I rescued from Calloway's as they were clearing room for Christmas trees. Encore azaleas that required their own special bedding but bloomed prolificly in late spring, summer and fall. Crepe myrtles as a screen for the patio. Lovely wisteria that flowered only briefly but with vines that threatened the fence structure.

When I left Texas for Europe and a main domicile in an apartment bordering a narrow macadam street, I figured no more plants in my future.

I figured wrong.

In Argeles, my 'art gallery' office has a decent-size patio outside. The landlady already has a rubber tree, a climbing vine, and some small potted plants on the periphery. But there's also a narrow ledge which would be perfect for some spider plants or something with color.

And outside the door to D-L's studio, I'd love to plant a flowering vine or two that would climb up the building stone, maybe across some of the electrical wires, and add to the color that the neighbors have established - and earned Rue Vermeille designation as the prettiest street in the village.

Then there's J's house in Geneva, where I started by attacking the weeds around the edge of the driveway and garage, but now we're talking about what we can do around the large yard. Today we went to a garden centre and picked up a 2nd large planter, some potting soil and peat moss. We looked at various plants and flowers but could not decide. (I need to get a Neil Sperry-type book on what grows best in Switzerland.)

Regardless, in both places, the plants have to be pretty much self-sufficient. We go back and forth between the two locations, and travel elsewhere with some regularity, so there are long stretches where plants will be neglected. And they have to tolerate extremes of cold and occasional heat. So the choices are somewhat limited.

Always liked a challenge. When the result is pleasant to look at (and sometimes eat), I'm up for that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The New Normal

Time to settle down, settle in.

Donna-Lane came home from the hospital today, and the prognosis is excellent. No temporary double vision as the surgeons suggested might happen. Relatively little discomfort - some swelling which is quickly going down with the ice packs, some numbness, a little bruising under her eye which will probably look worse over the next few days before it gradually disappears. Lacking her usual full-bore energy, but that's to be expected after the past couple of weeks - the fall, the urgence (emergency), the tests, the diagnosis of multiple fractured bones around her right eye and cheek, the recommendation of surgery, the anxiety of anticipating the surgery and self-debate on whether to go through with it, the being ultra-careful not to bump her "broken" face (such as not riding the bus where she would be at elbow height for many people or where a sudden stop and jolt could catapult her into metal bars), then of course the surgery itself and follow-up x-rays.

It turned out to be a very good thing that she went through with the surgery. The doctor found a few bone fragments floating around in her cheek, which could have caused serious complications in the future as they worked their way toward nerves or blood vessels.

By all accounts, in a month, two at the most, no one will be able to tell physically that she went through the ordeal.

Right after the tumble, two weeks ago today, we celebrated publication of her 8th novel, Murder in Paris, with some dear friends at her favorite cafe in Geneva.

The day of her surgery (yesterday), and today for her homecoming, we celebrated her birthday.

Of course, she came through the trauma with typical D-L aplomb. Never lost her sense of humor and make-the-best-of-it positive outlook. Unlike her breast cancer surgery a couple years ago (, though, this time she did not blog on the way to the operating room.

Surprisingly, she is heeding the take-it-easy advice of Dr. Julia and Dr. Rick, at least for the first day. I expect she'll be on email Friday, perhaps post a blog about the experience (, and will probably start outlining her 11th novel by the weekend.

Still no busses for awhile.  After the Swiss Independence celebration on 1 August, we will drive or take the train down to Argeles-sur-mer. We have a few details to take care of before our wedding on the 10th.

Then, in theory, life will become more 'normal' than the past couple months ... the past year, for that matter. As normal as it can be for us.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whirlwind Week

Had a wonderful, whirlwind week with the grandkids in the Dallas area that left me thoroughly whipped. I am amazed at the schedule their family keeps.

We went pretty much non-stop from my arrival Wednesday afternoon til my departure Tuesday morning. Water park, swimming pool (only a minor sunburn – me, not them), Legoland, SeaLife Aquarium, toy shopping, a movie, dance practice, theatre practice, acting auditions for films …

And Molly.
Molly is the newest addition to the Bell household. A Jack Russell Terrier who is little larger than the palm of my hand but is all energy. She moves so quickly we have to shuffle rather than walk, lest she scoot underfoot in between the time we lift and step. Right now she’s a chewer – dog toys, kid toys, sneaker laces, pant legs, carpet, grass … anything she can fit in her curious mouth. I started calling her ‘Air Dog’ because my 5-year-old granddaughter, Georgia, continuously picked the pup up and carried her everywhere. By Monday I was leaning to changing her moniker to ‘Poop Dog’ because she has a penchant for finding a place to hide to do her business. (One thing I had not planned on my visit was crawling under the dining room table to wipe up a juicy stool from the scraped hardware floor.)

When the dog arrived Saturday, I was supplanted as the object of the kiddos’ attention, which was fine because it gave me time to get some work done on a couple of projects. By Monday, though, the newness of the puppy had worn off and they settled into a more normal routine of video games, dog, coloring books, dog, a little Papa-time here and there, and dog.

The final night, unexpectedly, I got to see a bit more of almost-9-year-old Sawyer’s budding acting career. He got a call from his agent that a director wanted him to submit an audition tape for a film project being shot in South Carolina the end of this month. So my daughter Alicia, Sawyer and I rolled down to East Dallas to an in-house studio she had used before and was able to book on last-minute notice. She needed to get the audition shot that night because she herself was getting on a plane the next day for a short business trip. (Told you they have a frenetic schedule.) Even though it was late at night, Sawyer was awesome in learning his lines, the emotions of the character, and taking direction through multiple experimental takes. Kid’s a real professional, and he’s already done 3 or 4 films, some television, a bunch of lead roles in community theatre. I’ve told him he’ll be a one-name superstar like Elvis or Cher: when people say, ‘Sawyer,’ everyone will know it’s him. He’s actually got a kind of Huck Finn / Tom Sawyer grin that fits his name. (His website is

I’m glad my work affords me the opportunity to visit the kiddos from time to time. Not all grandparents have that enjoyment. Of course, we skype too, and they think they’re on camera with the iPad video so they ham it up whenever we talk.

When they get a little older, we look forward to them visiting Europe – great fun and great education in seeing a part of the world that is not flat, hot, auto-driven Dallas.

Glad I went, glad to be back.
Swimming with the jellyfish at SeaLife Aquarium.