25 May 2016


Happiness is a Wednesday afternoon with the kids. Yes, Madam!

Wednesdays in French schools is a day off or at least half a day off. So, my grandchildren come for lunch with me every Wednesday. Today we had a small appetizer of "mozzarella di bufala" with some cucumber slices dipped in balsamic vinegar. Quite danty! That Italian cheese is made with bufalo milk. It has a definite taste, not like the usual mozzarella with regular cow milk. For a main dish we had fried potatoes with steak tidbits cooked with shallots, not chives, the real "Èchalottes". For sweets we had a ready made "floating island" that you buy in plastic containers and that kids love, a floating island being a meringue floating on custard... you've got to have imagination in life.

What to do in the afternoon can be a problem at times. But today the weather being favorable for picking fruit outdoors, we drove (in my "sports car" of course) some 20 km to a place where you can pick your own strawberries and pay for what you picked by the weight. We picked some 5 kilograms of big red sweet smelling strawberries. And we drove home.

This is where it becomes interesting. We drove home with the hood down under the sun and in the wind, stuffing our faces with strawberries as it went. Just heavenly. Through the forest on a small country road. With birds singing. And clouds following us above our heads.

At one stage we came across a place with horses and carts and things. We veered in and asked for info. on horse riding etc. The place is called Laleuf, they have a website and are on FaceBook. It looks like a place we will visit again.

After that, we drove on to town. The kids sitting in the back were finding dolphins, dragons and sharks in the clouds! 


I love Wednesdays with the kids. 

21 May 2016

243. Welcome home

"Welcome home" is a phrase you often hear in English. It sounds lovely. It stems from the heart and carries benevolent feelings. In the scriptures, it is what the old man could have said to his prodigal son when he saw him a the end of the path, coming home.

I have two examples in memory when hearing it stirred me to tears: that time in 1997 when we made it to port late at night after three days of howling weather sailing a boat into Auckland harbor. It is what the Customs officers said to the Captain. Welcome home! It was not addressed to me, New Zealand not being my homeland, but it felt real good.

The other memorable occasion is when flying from Europe to the U.S.A. in 1980, it was announced the plane was beginning its approach to the Kennedy airport. Americans in the plane clapped loud and clear. They were delighted to be landing back in their homeland.

I don't want to sound bitter and bickering here. I only want to state how it feels when you are a French expat coming home. There's no phrase equivalent to "welcome home" and Customs officers have no special benevolent feelings for you. A phrase I heard once when arriving from a distant land was: "qu'est-ce que vous êtes allée faire là-bas?" (something like: what on earth did go there for?) You get no special treatment for belonging to your homeland. In Britain back in the 60s there were two queues for people arriving at Customs, one for British citizens and one for "aliens", foreign people for which Britain was not their homeland. Fair enough. I do think that nationals should not be treated just as anyone else. In my view your nationality is a very precious part of yourself. It is not something you can put on or off like a hat. It should be "inaliénable", i.e. hard to get if you are not born into it, indeed very hard to acquire, but "inaliénable", i.e. an inalienable right to belong to a definite nation. Then, that nation is your homeland. The land you regard as your home, where you are welcome wholeheartedly when you return from a long stay away. No matter what.

5 May 2016

242. ART de VIVRE

I often clash with friends and even members of my family about ways and manners of doing things. Specially, being French, about table manners. It is said that the French have a special ART de VIVRE concerning food and eating habits and other things as well. When looking for a translation into English of this particular phrase, I found that people were at a loss with it: "art of living" does not really translate the concept.

Let me explain my views on this. It has to do with esthetics and the epicurean philosophy. As applied to life it means: the manners showing your sense of beauty with which you tackle a given situation or activity. Your "art de vivre" shows you have an ideal for beauty. Linked with epicurian philosophy it shows you have the ability to see beauty in every simple gestures of human activity and you derive pleasure out of it. Your perception of beauty triggers a feeling of pleasure.

For my part I have a highly developed perception of beauty and it triggers in me a strong feeling of pleasure when the level of beauty is achieved. I am not talking of the beauty of ladies as seen by men. I am talking of the harmony, sense of peace and balance, you can find in everything. French culture, as I know it, has developed this need for harmony, balance and peace in every field of life and particularly with anything to do with food and eating habits. The contrary applies when my sense of harmony is aggressed and the peace is destroyed by anyone who has no "art de vivre", I get very depressed.

For example... say I'll have someone for lunch. It will be at the table simply decorated, the plates perhaps matching the color of the tablecloth, a glass above the plate and in the middle of it, cuttlery on each side. The food is served, not out of the pot in the kitchen and then delivered, but in a nice dish at the table so that everyone is free to help themselves for the amount they require. The food is eaten as accompaniement to a pleasure giving conversation, not gulped in a hurry to satisfy mondane needs. The food is eaten completely to show respect for those who prepared it. Harmony, peace and pleasure converge.

When I have teenagers for lunch who nowadays don't have this "art de vivre", destroy the beauty and kill my pleasure, I get quickly angry and depressed.

Can you teach "art de vivre"? or is it innate, inborn, inbred? How did I learn about it? At home? At school? in books? in films?

Will this French "art de vivre" survive my generation or will it disappear within the next decade?

Those manners, not necessarily table manners, showing a definite sense of beauty with which any given situation or activity is tackled, have been developed over the last few thousand years, in France and on continental Europe in general. This age old ideal for beauty shows best in our old cathedrals and in our landscapes. Beauty for its own sake. Linked with the epicurean philosophy throughout the centuries, every little gesture of human activity was made to gain and give pleasure. 

To finish, here's an article in "The Local", France's news in English, entitled: The French eating habits the world should learn from.

3 May 2016

241. Know who you are (2)

We are in 2016 and in the Chinese zodiac we are in the Year of the Monkey. Yay! My year, this year!!! It had better be a good one...

In the effort of getting to know who I am, the Chinese zodiac can also help. We can shrug our shoulders today on what old wisemen in the depth of the past came out with. Who can be sure that the findings of an Albert Einstein will not look ludicrous to people in three or four thousand years from now? So I will not discard getting to know what it says about who I may be. And here it goes, as taken on websites on internet:

The Wu Xing (Five Elements) sign of the Monkey is Metal (Jin), so the animal stands for brilliance and perseverance. According to Chinese zodiac analysis, people born in a Year of the Monkey always have smart, agile and active characteristics. They are endowed with highly adaptable abilities because of their complicated living environment.

People born in the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese zodiac always have enviable abilities and wisdom. Their skills and smart ideas can be seen by others when they are very young. A sharp foresight and a unique perspective promote their development in every aspect. Other people are always amazed at their acute intuition and predictive powers. If there is an established goal, they apply strong actions to achieve it. A strong curiosity causes them to want to bravely try everything interesting. All bark and no bite is not their lifestyle. They win a high popularity among others because of their amicability and kindness. They always try their best to help others in daily life. An upbeat attitude always influences them and everyone around them.

Monkeys are lively and sprightly, which tends to lead to their impatience. When things develop in unexpected ways, they appear to be irascible, fussy and upset. Sometimes they are not willing to listen to othersí advice or ideas.  A stubborn personality influence their original judgments and decisions. They lack enough prudence when something fails. When having some small successes, they are always satisfied with current conditions. Being short of long-range plans, they often get into trouble on their way to success.

Having a strong adaptability to their environment, they can be competent in almost any job. They are naturally persuasive. Superb communication skills, strong logical proposals and high-efficiency working plans get a lot of appreciations from their bosses or group leaders. In their eyes, pleasures are more important than jobs, thus they are likely to give up their current jobs and seek their ideal ones. Fresh and novel work always attracts their eyes. Their enthusiasm and curiosity urge them to finish tasks with high quality.

They have sprightly and energetic personality traits, so jobs related to social intercourse and brain work will be their preferential options. As for group work, they have great potential to be the leader.

Suitable Jobs: diplomatist, journalist, writer, or entertainer

Smartness and flexibility always bring them wealth in their whole life. Saving money and living economically life also accumulate a large amount of money. However, they always feel satisfied with their current achievements. They seldom invest more money in other fields, so they often miss some golden chances in daily life. Their wealth accumulated in their youth is the guarantee of a comfortable life in old age.

People with the Chinese zodiac Monkey sign are amiable and easy to approach. There are always pursuers attracted by their lovely character. Someone of the opposite sex with an honest, easy-going and kindhearted personality will catch their eye easily.

Before confirming a stable love relationship, they are accustomed to considering all aspects, including future marriage life, children and family conditions. Excess consideration often leaves an irresolute and half-hearted impression.

However, if they have decided on a soul mate, started a love life, or gotten married, they will be very faithful. They are attentive to their partners likes, interests and habits, in order to fulfill the perfect role of a husband or wife. They need their partner to be loyal to the love relationship and family as well. These responsible traits make them an ideal sweetheart.

Best Matches: Ox, Rabbit
Bad Matches: Tiger, Pi


An ancient Greek philosopher once said: translated into English "Know who you are", translated into French "Connais-toi toi-même". Having followed the classics at College I was drilled into this way of thinking in my teens in France in the 50s and early 60s. I wrote a diary trying to see through the lines who I was. I sent my handwriting to a graphologist, a would-be science in vogue at the time, in order to hear what they had to say about who I was. And then at 19 I hit the road! There in the action I quickly had to find out who I was. Now in my 70s I think I know. I won't paraphrase another Greek philosopher by saying: I know I don't know. I do know who I am and I can predict my reactions to various situations and people.

According to the European zodiac I come under the Aries sign. Believe or don't believe. I don't regard this as an act of faith. Simply facts you can observe. A theory to be confirmed or not. Take it or leave it. The thing is that the moon has a lot of influence on what happens on the surface of the Blue planet. Why couldn't stars have some influence on human babies at their birth? In any case I recognise myself in the description of the personality of an Aries woman. It goes like this:

"The Aries woman is typically confident, fiery, bold, spontaneous and independent. Very modern and self reliant she is often an inspiration to other women.

Often highly motivated and ambitious this isn't a woman who takes no for an answer, at least not for long! She will typically make a good living, though probably isn't the best at saving the money she makes, instead preferring to enjoy it as it arrives.

In touch with her inner child, on the plus side she tends to be very fun loving and adventurous, and on the negative she can be very sulky if she doesn't get her own way or is ignored. She tends to be very competitive, but unlike some signs also has a strong sense of fair play - she wants to win for herself; to prove to the world she could do it, and isn't interested in deceit or cheating. She hates to be bossed around, or feel trapped.

Aries is a mixture of fearless warrior and undisciplined child, and this is one of the easiest signs to understand. These are action people, extroverted and assertive. They want to be in charge, the boss, the hunter, the instigator. Uncomplicated, bold, aggressive and impulsive. Sometimes they are selfish, insensitive, domineering, blunt, outspoken and impatient. They're never afraid of taking a risk. Lacking in self control they more than compensate in resilience - this is one tough cookie, who will live life to the fullest.

As to relationships, she tends to be either totally into one, or not interested, often there's no middle ground. She's outgoing and can be somewhat flirtatious in a fun and challenging way. The men of other fire signs tend to find this especially hard to resist."

"You are an Aries if you were born between March 21st and April 20th. In a couple of words, the Aries woman personality is energetic and passionate. You will rarely find an Aries woman who is worn out or that has no energy to her.

Aries women live to do things. They wonít want to settle for sitting on the sofa all day. The Aries woman personality traits show she would much rather get up and do something with her day.

The Aries lady is likely to wake up early in the morning in her older years to get her day started. She wants to be productive and get her goals done, and she canít rightly do this if she is sitting around in bed all day.

The Aries woman traits needs her independence if she is to be happy. An Aries woman isnít one to be tied down. If she is committed to anything, itís going to be her career.

While the Aries woman doesnít love the idea of saving money, she will at times because she knows that itís always a good idea to have a financial safety net in place. The Aries female will want a job that she can see herself leading in.

The Aries woman characteristics show she won't want to settle for a simple retail or fast-food job. She would much rather have a job that put her in a position of power. To put it simply, the Aries woman wants to be the boss. This idea is especially attractive to the Aries because when you're the boss you get to make the rules.

She doesnít want to be told what to do by superiors, she wants to be the superior who tells people what to do. Also, a job with a high level of responsibility will pay well. And with a decent paycheck every couple of weeks the Aries woman doesnít need to worry about depending on anyone else for money.

The Aries woman personality traits show she is loyal to her friends and family. Although she may not want to be committed to a romantic relationship, she doesnít mind being committed to her friends and family. Part of the reason that the Aries woman works so hard is to impress the people that she cares about.

While the Aries girl does not need approval to do what she wants, it can still help to boost her self-esteem. The Aries womanís self-esteem is rarely higher than when her family is proud of her.

The Aries woman trait shows she loves her friends, and will do whatever she can to help them, but she will also help to start an exciting adventure or a party. The Aries woman wants to be loved for her skills, as well as her exciting lifestyle.

Since the Aries woman will do whatever it takes to keep herself moving, she is prone to be rather impulsive, even on a daily basis. Her ideas are flowing constantly through her mind.

And when an exceptionally good thought passes through her head she is likely to act on it as soon as possible. This can lead the Aries woman to be more rash than some of the other zodiac signs.

But this also adds to the Aries woman's exciting lifestyle. The Aries woman traits: she is one to take chances. She's not afraid of a little risk in life. In fact, she doesn't see the point of life without a little risk.

The Aries woman personality doesn't want to be with someone who can't match her enthusiasm for life. She will look for a partner who can be as intense and passionate as she is. The Aries woman characteristics shows she is more likely to have flings and one night stands than some of the other star signs.

The Ram lady will want excitement in her life, more than she needs commitment. Anyone who gets into a romantic relationship with an Aries woman should be prepared for a wild ride. The Aries woman is likely to take her partner on adventure-like dates and be wild in the bedroom as well."

(copied from websites on the net)

29 April 2016

239. Dating on a website

Decidedly it is not for me. I'm not the type to fit into the scheme. Not that I don't like the fact that you court through a computer screen. It isn't the media that bothers me. No. It's just the scheme that you have to fit into I can't cope with.

Recently I have tried one American dating site new to me, called OK-something or other. Very friendly. The first approach is very positive, no hassle, no harrassing. A little at a time, if you care for it, you can reply to their hundreds of questions. Your "profile" gets shaped as you fill the questions in. For example: do you consider astrology to be a legitimate science? How important is art in your daily life? Are geeks sexy? Is it possible to love someone you don't even like? Do you believe in an after-life? If you got married would you change your name? Is it generally acceptable to you for a sex partner to initiate foreplay while you are sleeping?

Well, my profile came up as follows: 
indie, sloppy, old-fashioned, conservative, into exercise, optimistic, playful, scientific, wholesome, good natured.
trusting, kinky, rational, giving, love-driven.

Would you date somebody like that? I certainly would not!

But never mind, my photo attracted some potential partners. With one of them it went like this (in French):

- Pardonnez moi pour cette intrusion sur votre pétillant profil que je viens de survoler. Je sais que nous ne nous connaissons pas et que nous n'avons même pas d'amis en commun mais moi je voudrais vous dire que j'aimerais faire votre connaissance et c'est sans vouloir vous importuner que je viens y déposer une petite trace de mon passage.
Peut-être que ces quelques mots ne resterons pas sans réponse, à bientôt! Moi c'est Fred :-)

- ah bon alors vous aimez l'aïoli dans l'Iowa, j'avoue que je n'ai pas encore essayé. Bonjour, moi c'est Bertha, type mafalda qui n'aime pas se faire marcher sur les pieds mais qui n'a pas d'autorité naturelle. J'ai bien bourlingué et j'adore les enfants. Je suis grand-mère de 2 loustics métis. Voilà pour moi! un homme d'affaires, quelles z'affaires? PS je suis bien plus vieille que vous, ça ne marchera pas!

- Pourquoi pensez-vous que ça ne marchera pas, on peut se donner juste une chance et voir où cela nous mènera.

- Vous voulez vraiment avoir l'air de sortir avec votre grand-mère??? je suis sur FaceBook à Bertha Duchenoque.

- Ma devise à moi l'âge la distance la couleur etc n'ont pas d'importance, pour moi l'important c'est la sérénité du coeur et la fidélité ainsi que la confiance dans un premier début de contact avec toi. J'espère qu'on peut se tutoyer!
Mon Facebook c'est Fred Nurke tu  peux peut-être m'envoyer une invitation. Je ne me connectes pas comme ça mais pour toi je vais me connecter si tu veux bien faire ample connaissance avec moi. Je vous ai envoyer l'invitation sur Facebook.

- pour faire plus ample connaissance et si tu ne te connectes pas souvent, on peut correspondre par email: bertha@blabla.com

- Ah OK c'est encore plus pratique. Je t'enverrai un mail à cette adresse de suite, mais j'ai déjà envoyé l'invitation sur Facebook tu pourrais ajouter aussi ça ferait un plus. Alors discutons par mail je vous écrit de suite.

- l'ennui pour FB juste là maintenant, c'est que je crois l'avoir bazardé par erreur car le FB de ma petite fille avait un problème de hacking etc bla bla bla. On va voir!

- OK mais je viens de t'envoyer un mail à ton adresse Bertha. Vous tardez à me répondre par courrier ou vous êtes occupée?
- Non ça y est je l'ai fait
- mais je ne vois toujours rien dans ma boite de réception.

La suite sur email dans le désordre:

- en fait je suis très déçu car je me dis que tu te fies plus aux apparences et ce que les gens disent, apprends plutôt à t'écouter toi même, moi je veux bien te connaitre et entretenir une relation avec toi mais je ne comprends vraiment plus.

- je n'ai pas trop envie de continuer, pour tout dire. J'ai un blog en anglais si ça vous intéresse: blablabla. blogspot. Je ne veux vraiment pas sortir avec quelqu'un de bien plus jeune que moi.

- Vous êtes mariée? des enfants?

- OK je suis rassuré Bertha. Comment s'est déroulée votre journée aujourd'hui?

- oui oui, c'est moi

- Coucou Bertha, c'est Fred du site OKdrag, je vous écrit ici pour me rassuré que c'est bien à vous que je viens de parler sur le site.

- voilà, ça y est, le pot de colle. Merci de me lâcher les baskets. Je veux bien discuter de choses et d'autres, mais PAS DEVENIR TA DULCINEE.

- Alors c'est comme ça que tu voie les choses? Tu trouves que je suis un pot de colle? Moi? Passe une bonne soirée et bonne chance dans ta recherche, sache t'adresser aux gens au moins c'est le minimum des choses, car je vois que le respect que j'ai eu pour toi n'a pas été réciproque.


No Comment.

How does one identify predators on this kind of websites? 

Here, in a few lines and within minutes, I had someone starting with a compliment: "bubbly profile". After I stated that I did not wish to be the grandmother of my lover, the prospective partner stated that age and color did not matter. What really mattered was: "serenity of the heart, faithfulness, and trust in the first contact". After I suggested he could be (I meant "just") a FaceBook friend, he asked I sent him an invitation and added that although he doesn't use FB much, he would do it for me. He quickly then confirmed that HE sent me the invitation to his FB. He seemed in a rush. At that stage I started feeling like a fish a fisherman has just hooked up and is getting nervous at the idea of losing. 

In between I had suggested that since he was not using FB much he could email me and I gave my email address. At this point, the exchange turned very negativelly for me. He wrote within minutes: "I have sent you an email, you are slow in answering, or are you busy?" In order to get out of this uncomfortable exchange I clearly stated that I did not want to persue. I wrote that I did not wish to go on with the exchange but that he could read my blog and I gave the blog's url, adding again that I did not wish to date anyone who could be my grandson. Since he did not seem to understand, I clearly wrote in capital letters that I did not want to be his sweetheart. Explosion of anger: he was disappointed, accused me of only trusting appearances, and listening to what people said, saying in the imperative: "learn how to listen to yourself". He did not understand anymore, he said. By then I lost my temper and wrote in colloquial language to stop being a glue pot, to let go of my shoe laces (French expression!). Finally he gave me a lesson: "know to address yourself to people, at least, it's a minimum, I see the respect I had for you is not shared".

Of course this rendition of my exchange with this fellow is told by me. It could be bias of course. His rendition would certainly be different. I quickly copied the text of the messages exchanged on the website. It was harder to copy the text of the emails as I had deleted them in anger and fear. Yes, fear. I experienced having a relationship once in the 1990s with a narcissist pervert, someone with NPD disorder. I felt the need to run away as fast as I could. Here's a 15 minutes video on how it runs in a couple when one is a pervert. Do take the time to see it to the end. 


4 April 2016

238. SCIENCE FICTION chapter 1


copyrights Frankie Pérussault 2013-2016


Some say that a book is bad when the very first page is not terribly exciting.  I don't agree. A book is to be discovered, it does not give itself stark naked at first contact. 

I invite you here to discover, un-cover this book kindly, slowly, to find out about the various characters and maybe love them.

This story is a fiction although I do use my own experience of life to tell stories. If you find that it is not coherent or in line with astrophysics data and quantic biometry…!..., please put it on account of my mad imagination.

This text is without sugar added and is guaranteed neither morbid nor sordid. I rave about our near future without fear as I believe it will not be as stressing or anguishing as we tend to think. The idea of the future brings no trauma to me, no need for me to introduce rather comical crude violence in it. We step into the future each day by adapting to new things, keeping at the same time habits and ways of the near and far past. This is what gives body to the present.

I would love to live what I am writing here. Would you?


The text for this Science Fiction story is in "pages" under the Header of this blog.

The original French text can be read under WeLoveWords here:

Space Flute Duet from spacevideo on Vimeo.

22 November 2015

237. Wisdom

A whole year now since I posted anything on this blog!

Photo taken from Eilat in Israel in 1963. Aqaba in Jordan can be seen in the distance.

I am currently reading The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence in an attempt to view the background of the current hatred between East and West following the attacks on Paris lately. I borrowed the French version of the book written by Lawrence at the end of the First World War. It may sound odd but I am indeed finding the roots of the problem there.

In any case I greatly enjoy reading this French translation by Eric Chedaille, éditions Phébus 2009. It is fluid and elegant. I am sure that Lawrence would have liked it too!  The English original edition for the translation was as follows:

 T. E. Lawrence. 
Seven Pillars of Wisdom
The complete 1922 "Oxford" text
First published for general circulation by J. and N. Wilson
Fordingbridge, Hampshire, 2004
Project-managed by Book Production Consultants PLC, Cambridge

I find Lawrence full of philosophy and humor.  It also brings me back to my own time in the Middle East when I was 19 and 20. Talking about his ability to speak Arabic, Lawrence writes:

Book IV chapter XLIII

"Au cours de cette longue expédition, lui (Mohammed) et le chérif Nasir ne ménageraient pas leurs efforts pour améliorer mon arabe, me donnant tour à tour des leçons, l'un m'enseignant le parler coloré du désert, l'autre la langue classique de Médine. Parti d'une pratique hésitante des dialectes tribaux du moyen Euphrate (forme non impure), mon arabe était devenu difficilement localisable, un salmigondis, parlé sans peine, qui associait patois du Hedjaz et lyrisme des tribus du Nord, le tout émaillé de tournures littéraires syriennes et truffé d'expressions et vocables familiers empruntés au parler limpide du Nedjed. Cette aisance dans l'expression cachait une absence totale de grammaire qui faisait de mon propos une perpétuelle aventure pour ceux qui l'écoutaient. Les nouveaux venus me supposaient originaire de quelque région inconnue, dépotoir indifférencié des catégories grammaticales, des modes, temps, genres, nombres et cas de l'arabe."

°   °   °   °   °   °   °

I don't know if what I am going to write here proceeds from any wisdom, we'll see. I will tell of my own experience in the Middle East in the years 1963-66 when I was 19 and 20, memories that forbid me to hate Arabs. Or Jews.

I recall being welcome once under their tent in the hills of Galilee by a family of bedouins as if I had been sent by God himself. Sitting there with the smell of green coffee beans being roasted in a rusty frying pan over an open fire I enjoyed their hospitality with sheer wonder. In tiny cups I was offered this strong beverage with a taste of cardamon. Everyone laughed when having put my empty cup down the Arab hostess poured some more in it. I was explained in half arabic half hebrew that by putting your cup down you meant you wanted some more! To this day the smell or taste of cardamon recalls this happy moment in a bedouin's tent.

My first experience of the desert was a trip on board a big and heavy lorry traveling from Beer-Sheva to Eilat across the Neguev through the night, a warm night full of bright stars in an atmosphere of invisible people. The desert is full of invisible people, friends or foes, you don't know!

I lived and worked in a kibbutz, i.e. a collective farm, for a whole year. During the winter we worked under a shed sorting and packing flower bulbs. We were three at the job, an English guy, me and an Arab from the village across the road. The 'boss' was one of the kibbutz founders who had fled Austria in his teens during the second world war. We were all very good friends and worked well together.

Six months later I became the girlfriend of my Arab colleague. When I left the kibbutz to go and work in Eilat, the then pioneer little town facing Aqaba on the Red Sea, my Arab friend took the risk to travel across the desert to come and see me. As an Arab he needed a pass to travel as far as Beer-Sheba. After that he traveled by bus at his own risk. He could speak both Hebrew and Arabic and did not look any different. He made it there and back. Although later, not being jewish or arabic, I chose to leave the country and marry an Australian citizen, I still keep a warm memory of the way his family had welcome me in his village.

Now in 2015, half a century later, wisdom tells me at the back of my brain that these were beautiful people. We have walked a slow path of horrendous hatred, us in the West and them in the Middle East. Why? The reasons may be political or economical. But plain misunderstanding is more likely to be the cause.

As Thomas Edward Lawrence puts it, in the French translation I am reading:

book II chapter XXVI page 194

"Les Wahhabites, hérétiques musulmans fanatiques, avaient imposé leurs règles strictes à la paisible et civilisée al-Qasim. Dans cette ville, on ne pratiquait guère l'hospitalité du café, on priait et on jeûnait beaucoup; pas de tabac, pas de badinage avec les femmes, pas de vêtements de soie, d'ornements, de cordon d'or ou d'argent à son keffieh. Tout n'y était que piété ou puritanisme. Les hommes d'al-Qasim, des marchands qui alliaient goût de la vie et expérience du monde, trouvaient cela ennuyeux; leurs fils, moins patients, s'en allaient courir la fortune et les plaisirs."

26 December 2014


This is the injury I received last June when a German sheperd (not German and not a sheperd) bit me hard on my left ankle and a second time higher behind the knee. 

I was cycling to get back home at about 7.30pm in full daylight in June through the town of Argenton-sur-Creuse, France, to get to St Civran some 20km away. To avoid a heavy traffic road at that time of the day, I took a shortcut I knew through a residential area with little traffic. Wrong choice! To avoid cars I went through DOGS, each bungalow of that area inhabited by 3 dogs each, or just about.

At one stage after cycling some 50 meters past a long hedge, I suddenly saw the head of that dog biting hard into my flesh. I screamed, kicked him in the face, kept on going full speed as I felt in danger if I fell. The dog bit me a second time higher on my left leg and then disappeared. I was wearing long pants so that the first bite was direct into my flesh at ankle level but into the fabric of my pants for the second bite. I screamed at the top of my voice twice but I did not see anybody around. At this time of day people must have been in their houses having dinner. I did not see a soul about and kept cycling like mad, scared as I was that the dog was folowing me.

Checking my left leg now and then I saw that it was red with blood but that the blood was quickly coagulating, so I kept going.

13 January 2014

235. Transparency, honesty, privacy

Shrugging my shoulders at what I disapprove may not be the right attitude. Maybe I should keep writing here what I have in mind. For what purpose? I don't know. For the odd reader like me silently disagreeing.

Those three words in the title - transparency, honesty and privacy - are three different entities as three separate concepts. Yet in the air nowadays they tend to be used one for the other.

Privacy is now seen as a need for hiding, i.e. not hiding away from perving eyes and pathological curiosity, but hiding because you have something bad or evil to steal away from normal curiosity. The wrong doer has changed sides. The bad guy now is the one who wants to hide his private life, his private parts, his private family, his private time and space. Peevish perving curiosity is regarded as normal and healthy...

...because you have to be transparent to be honest. If you have something to hide you must be doing something wrong. It reminds me of something right now. As a young woman in Australia I remember being astonished at the explanation given to me as to why there was no lock on the inside of the toilet in the house. It was to prevent guys in there to masturbate as the door could be opened on them without warning. How clever! how wicked! No privacy thus ensures your honesty.

Transparent. This word started being used to mean the quality of an honest government. If the dealings between our various politicians were not transparent it meant they must be corrupt. Transparency is the opposite of corruption. Every dealing has to be shown in full light as if you could see through it. Again with the same idea that the good guy is the one who wants to see. But... sorry for being naive, but how do you conduct any kind of diplomacy or any war or any serious business for that matter without some amount of privacy?

The word honesty now appears to be meaning the see-through attitude of someone who has 'nothing to hide' and therefore does not need privacy. In the dictionary, however, it still means lack of deceit, a straightforward conduct, integrity, truthfulness and above all: freedom from deceit or fraud. It is linked to a code of religious conduct and thrives within a community showing trust all around.

Now TRUST is another story. But I won't go on!