Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Turn Ons and Turn Offs

The other day, I noticed the coolest image. I had been on a conference call for awhile, so the screen on my Samsung Galaxy smartphone had gone dark. It was sitting flat on the desk so I could be hands-free to take notes, and the dark screen served as sort of a mirror. High overhead, a bird flew by the skylight above the desk, and his silhouette reflected in the phone as he glided past. (Perhaps you had to be there to appreciate the imagery.)

But the point of this story is really the skylight. At times, when the sun is in a certain position, it's either difficult to see the keyboard on my laptop or the sun is right in my eyes as it sets in the evening. I even planned to get a piece of fabric and push-pin it to the sloped ceiling to mute the rays.

This morning I glanced up, and there's a screen partially covering the skylight. I have no idea how that happened. And I cannot find a switch or button or lever anywhere to retract the screen. (Perhaps J or L will come to my rescue since they are more familiar with the room.)

I know, I should stop complaining. At least it's partially covered. Though I suspect the uncovered part of the window is the area that will continue to give me eyestrain in the afternoon.

Part of getting accustomed to living in Europe is the differences in how things open and close, turn on and off. Here, the lights have small rectangular push buttons (not back-and-forth switch tabs as in the States). In Argeles, D-L's studio has medium and large push buttons.

In the three places we occupy most, her studio, my office in Argeles, and the house in Geneva, there are three different mechanisms for flushing the toilet - a square lever you push straight down, a round knob you pull up, and a round button with two different areas to push in (depending on how much water you need).

Some windows do have to be lifted straight up from the bottom, as in the U.S. But in Europe many of the windows open from the side with a lever that can be turned with one hand. More efficient for opening and closing, but requiring clear space for the window to swing.

Donna-Lane has a switch as well. She switches into work mode. The change in demeanor is readily evident. For a retiree, she's quite disciplined with her time. She mentally divides her day into 20-minute segments of what she wants to get done when. That's why she's able to publish a weekly financial newsletter, write at least one novel every year, and still find time to switch off and thoroughly enjoy time with friends. If I knew where her switch was, I would not turn it off - her work and the satisfaction from it are part of who she is. And because of her discipline, there seems to be plenty of time available to play. 

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