Another Valentine’s Is Here

Good morning! Well, it’s *that* day once more:

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a red rose.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a red rose.

As a man, you suppose you face expectations. What to do? More, importantly, what does she expect? Above all, how do you show her how much you care?:

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Recovery Mode

Over dinner last night here in London, without warning my mother-in-law observed that she believes the week over in France helped me a lot. She remarked that she felt all I’d gone through with my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths in October and the weeks after in the U.S. trying to cope with the aftermath, particularly with my dad’s grief over Mom, had naturally tired me out. She believed that stress had been showing on my face (in a weariness), but felt I now looked better than I’d had in months.

Naturally only others really know what I “look like,” but, yes, I said, I’d loved last week; that I like France goes without saying, but that visit had been a true distraction. It had been fun, restful, and taken my mind largely off the sadness on the other side of the Atlantic. Relaxing lunches like this certainly played a part:

A French pizza. A lunch last week. [Photo by me, 2016.]
A French pizza. A lunch last week. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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“A Frenchwoman in a car….”

During our La Clusaz chalet stay last week, my wife told me she had had a pre-ski chat with a Frenchwoman in the boot room. When my wife’s French finally proved unequal to the Frenchwoman’s, she admitted it. The woman broke into English and continued the conversation. Eventually I came up when the woman (who had seen us together at meals) asked, “Where is your husband?”

“He’s writing,” my wife said she’d explained. “He’s a writer and gets inspiration here.”

Yet “inspiration” sometimes appears from the strangest of directions. A couple of days later after we checked out, we were sort of surprised to find the driver waiting to take us back to Geneva Airport was not the limo guy who’d dropped us. Instead, it was a woman of about 40.

Screen capture: La Clusaz to Geneva.
Screen capture: La Clusaz to Geneva.

As we headed off in her immaculate, small SUV, softly spoken she too revealed she spoke English well. She became easily the chattiest airport driver we’d ever recalled having in France. Soon she was on about the region, the weather, the lack of snow, the scenery….

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Memo To Romance Authors: Nazis Are NOT “Leading Men”

[WARNING: This post contains an upsetting photograph.]

Our imaginations and personal interests will invariably take us down our own writing paths. It’s any author’s right to invent what he/she wishes to invent. Our creativity means everything.

So I’m not one usually to hit out at other authors’ chosen fictional subject matter. Yet there are times you feel you have to make clear where you stand as a matter of fundamental moral principle. Thankfully only very occasionally are there those tales that make you, frankly, gasp and shudder:

A story of an SS officer, his Jewish wife and their fight against the Reich

After gasping and shuddering at that cover blurb, I could only shake my head in disbelief. I’m sure if you want to, you can find that indie novel; but I won’t name it here. (I think it’s a 2015 publication.) I had never heard of it before, nor of its author, until I first saw its full cover pop up on my Google+ the other day.

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“I’m having a few and wishin’ that you were here….”

You may recall that post I wrote last summer about Frank Sinatra’s Strangers In The Night song. I enjoy settling back now and then to his music. Last night, pre-dinner, I was listening courtesy of my iPad to a Christmas present that had come, uh, my way….

Screen capture of part of my iPad music collection.
Screen capture of part of my iPad music collection.

If you don’t understand what all the “fuss” is about regarding Frank Sinatra and would like to, I recommend that Ultimate Sinatra. The 4 CDs version has a helpful background booklet on his life and career. The compliation includes just about everything that marked him out as a distinctive artist.

This post came to mind this morning because our chalet owner here in La Clusaz has had a habit of putting his iPod on the bar and playing Sinatra – even in a room populated mostly by other first-language French speakers. That’s not a shock, though. Sinatra has always been popular here in France:

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“So who would you live with if I died tomorrow?”

My octogenarian in-laws have been thinking more than ever about what happens after one of them dies. After dinner last night, around the table a discussion arose among the four of us about their London house, and where would the survivor live, etc. My father now living without my mother in the same house they had bought together in Pennsylvania, and what he is going through as a widower, was the main immediate conversational catalyst.

However, my father-in-law insisted several times on taking matters too lightly for my mother-in-law’s taste. At one point, she put him on the spot: “Don’t joke,” she admonished him as he chuckled. “What will happen to you if I go first like Robert’s mum? You’re useless. You can’t do anything for yourself. You couldn’t live alone….”

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The Joys Of Locating That Out Of Print Book

It’s satisfying when you get hold of “that book” you’ve been trying to find when it doesn’t exist as an e-book and, worst of all, is long out of print. It arrived yesterday – and a week earlier than I’d expected it to turn up, a copy that had been termed “used,” but is actually like new. I wanted one for research for the new novel and I’d found it (appropriately) over in France:

From the third party seller receipt. [Photo by me 2016.]
From the third party seller receipt. [Photo by me 2016.]

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Semi-Random Thoughts For This Morning

Good morning! The mind can sometimes be all over the place on a Monday morning. So this post is something of a mishmash. :-)

* * *

“Hello” new followers!

I see my tongue-in-cheek “letter” I’d written in 18th century English was something some of you found amusing.

Warning: I’m not always that amusing!

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The Habits Of Sundays

A lazy Sunday morning here near Bristol. It caused me to recall what “todays” were while growing up on the other side. Memories of years long past.

Everyone’s home life is distinctive. Back on Long Island, Sundays were special in our house. My mother maintained her routine long after I’d moved out and away, and even in her last years after she and my dad had relocated to Pennsylvania.

It was “the day of rest” centered around lunch/dinner. As a teen, I’d probably have mowed the lawn on Saturday. My grandmother – my Mom’s mother – would sometimes have slept over Saturday night.

But one habit my mother eventually came to avoid and never demanded of us….

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Letter To 230 Years Ago

Outside of Bristol England 22nd January 2016

DEAR SIR

I write to you in the 18th century thinking I might dispatch this to you in Nantes post restrante, but we don’t do that commonly in our time & consigning it to the English mail is not what I wished to do either not because it will be opened and read by some scoundrel as in your time but because now the price of a letter has become so great as to cause one to need to secure a bank loan first & you are long dead anyway. I have decided it is best placed on our inter-net which is easily found & we accept our governments to-day read every thing we write on there. Centuries passing have not changed everything.

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