Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sudden Life

I've decided to develop a 25-year plan for my life, our life. The things we'd like to do, people to spend time with, places to see, tomes to write.

Yes, such a long-term plan is audacious. Especially at nearly 68 years of age. The plan would take me to age 93 in the year 2044. (For that matter, maybe a 31-year plan to 2050 and age 99. Why not. My mother is nearly 96 and going relatively strong.)

Truth is, none of us knows if we'll have even 25 more minutes on this slowly spinning orb.

A few days ago, someone I have known many years had a stroke. In almost an instant, they went from a normally functioning person to losing motor skills and even a sense of who they are or where. They may be confined to a wheelchair for whatever is left of their life, relying on someone else to take care of them.

Living of itself is not necessarily a goal. Quality of life is important. Having a reason to crawl out of bed in the morning. Making a contribution to the societies you live in.

I am not sure I would want to have someone burdened with taking care of me daily, hourly, if I had a stroke or Alzheimer's or something equally as mentally debilitating. I might tolerate having to roll around in a wheelchair if I still had the mental faculties to be somewhat productive. Maybe even learn to play golf on wheels.

We just simply do not know whether life will continue as we know it, or take a radical turn.

When my mother was a nine-year-old girl, her Uncle, my Great Uncle, pioneering aviator Richard Bennett, was preparing to leave for an air race in Niagara Falls. He wanted a kiss good-bye, but she was too shy. He died in the race when his plane's engine exploded. When my brothers and I were growing up, my mother insisted that whenever we left the house, we gave her a kiss.

Kiss and hold the ones you love. Today. And everyday you have them.


The transition time between the two wonderful places where we live has its share of challenges. (I know, first-world problem, right?) Which clothes to take, based on anticipated ranges of weather, including any travel while in the "other" place - for example, winter in Switzerland with perhaps a trip to Florida or Texas. Which papers to take, ie notes for writing projects, and in this timeframe bank statements, receipts, etc. for tax preparation (including a third country, the US). I know, I should scan everything and not haul paper over the mountains. Which electronics, and cords, and adapters. And don't forget the autoroute tolltag device.

Perhaps the trickiest challenge is eating up whatever's left in the refrigerator … because we turn it off when we're not going to be around for several weeks. It can lead to some creative menus. Donna-Lane used up some leftover chicken by combining it with fruits and nuts in a tasty salad (which would work well without the chicken). She also cooked a delicious soup with a gourd/pumpkin, which we had happened to transport from Geneva because we hadn't used it there.

This morning, we had no bacon for my traditional Sunday morning breakfast of bacon and eggs. "How about corned beef hash instead?" "No, that's reserved for lunch." Oops, also forgot to get crème fraiche for the scrambled eggs (itself a substitute discovery one time when I had no milk) … so I used some of the remaining whipped cream. Sweet. Oh, and tossed in some leftover cheddar cheese.

What we don't eat in the next couple of days, especially frozen potatoes, cheese, etc., we'll give to a friend in the village.

When we get to the other end of the trip, we'll start all over stocking the other frigo. And at the end of the sojourn there, repeat the process.

At one point, we almost were going to live in three places, the third being Oxford in the UK. Never quite got there. Disappointed not to have ready access to the Bodelian Library at Oxford University, but relieved we don't need a third set of clothes, papers and refrigerator.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Three in a Bed

New York. Paris a couple of times. Orlando twice. Texas. Stuttgart, Strasbourg and Neuchatel. Madrid. Lucerne. Annecy and Chamonix. We slowed down a bit on the travel in 2018; Sherlock complicates the logistics, requiring sitters, but he's worth hanging around home with. He's all energy during the day, and he's maturing enough to let him off the leash when we're well away from cars. Love the sight of him running back and forth at full speed, doing "zoomies."

The best news of the year - no major health problems for either of us. Yes, lots of aches and pains, and going back into the house 2-3 times to retrieve whatever we forgot before we go somewhere (but that's not age - always been like that).

Donna-Lane published her first non-fiction book, and it's a significant work of research. "Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles" chronicles the tragedies of abortion before Roe v Wade, and we've sent it to all the members of the Supreme Court and many Senators and Congressmen/women to remind them that making abortion illegal again will only kill women; it will no more stop it than prohibition stopped the consumption of alcohol. The timeline and bibliography alone will be great sources for students and others who explore the topic.

At the moment, we're putting the finishing touches on her "Triple Decker" novel, which is about an extended family in Boston and the impact of a grandson's death in a Middle East war. She's found a new publisher, who may also produce her new "Murder in Edinburgh" (probably the last in the Annie / Third Culture Kid series) and maybe even some of her earlier novels which have gone out of print.

I played less golf during the year, but was surprisingly more productive. Our team won the IITSEC tournament, first time ever I think, though we've won the WATS scramble 3-4 times on the same course. And our team won the Scottish Cup, staged on a mountain course in the French Alps. My next quest is to buy a set of hickory-shafted clubs and begin playing in hickory tournaments around Europe, including perhaps the World Hickory Open in Edinburgh.

The Lucerne trip was to research a book I'm writing on the history of aviation in Switzerland. Long-term project, and I hope to have it translated into French and German. As far as I can tell, no one has covered the topic comprehensively, certainly not in English. The inspiration was a small monument down the road from our house outside Geneva, honouring the Dufaux Brothers, the first to fly across Lac Leman and pioneers of the tilt-rotor concept:

We bought a new (to us) car, a silver Renault Modus, and covered it with butterfly stickers, which makes it easier to spot in a parking lot. More important, it has four doors - easier for friends to get in and out of. And air conditioning - the last trip to Geneva in the old Peugot, with no AC, we drove late at night so as not to overheat Sherlock … and at 3 am, got stopped and breathalyzed by the gendarmes (we were about the only car on the autoroute); my Coke Zero blood level was quite high. 

Had the apartment in Argèles sur Mer painted and added a wood-burning cheminee to the patio for cool spring and fall evenings.

Now it's really getting mundane.

A wonderfully unexciting year, just the three of us and the ebb and flow of hundreds of friends.

Oh, and there was the wild boar and the TGV.

Wishing you an interesting, healthy, happy 2019.