July – she will fly… not too fast, I hope

I am in the middle of edits for my forthcoming book – my publisher has sent me a list of titles to consider – they are:






My editor says they prefer A REMEDY IN TIME – what do you think? I’m partial to A TWIST IN TIME, but I’m also wondering if A TIGER IN TIME wouldn’t be better? After all – there is a smilodon (the working title was Year of the Smilodon).

Any opinions would be welcome!

You can go here to vote – https://fast-poll.com/poll/66ea9866 thanks!

A funeral, a party, a smoking grill…

I am sorry about my sporadic posts – it’s not like I don’t have a lot to say – I do; words pour out of my head and fill the air around me like a flock of sparrows or swarms of bees – depending on my mood. I have been reading some, writing a little, and working a lot. Since we’ve gone back to work, I find I’m insomniac again, whereas during the lockdown I slept well and woke up early. Now I toss and turn – it’s too hot or too cold, there is too much noise, what will happen tomorrow? I wake up tired, I go to work tired, and come home exhausted – and still I can’t sleep.

Here at the apartment complex, things are busy. Our downstairs neighbors’ father died, and there was a three day funeral. Just before that there had been a big birthday bash on a Sunday nigh.. What happened was on Sunday, smoke started pouring in our window. I looked outside, and our neigbors had lit a charcoal grill. It smoked so badly all the people in the building had to shut their windows on a very nice, sunny, hot day. Being a member of the building syndicat, I got a ton of angry emails. The emails became incandescent when more and more people showed up and loud music started blasting from the apartment. Sunday evening 1 am, I finally knocked on the door to ask them to keep it down. Three people came to the door. I said, ‘could you please keep it down it’s after 10 pm and people have to work tomorrow.” Instead of saying ‘yes, we’re sorry‘, I got ‘it’s my neice’s birthay party’, to which I answered, ‘I don’t care’. That started a row about my not being respectful and my retort that respect had nothing to do with asking people to turn down the noise, and maybe respect could go both ways? The music did get turned down, although the neighbors to the left and right of them still complained. I went upstairs, put earplugs in, and went to sleep.

So when the music and barbecue started up again the next Friday, I knocked on their door to tell them to keep it down after ten pm and not to use the charcoal grill on their patio because it made everyone above them miserable. I asked whose birthday it was this time. I was not going to make the same mistake of saying ‘I don’t care’.

They informed me their father had died. (Insert a few seconds of embarrassed silence on my part). I gave my condolences. It was too late to stop the barbecue but they were very cool about keeping the noise level down (with 50 people crammed in their apartment it must not have been easy). The funeral went on for three days, but there was no more late night music blasting from the ground floor. The barbecue was put away. (I told them they could get an electric grill for the terrace).

Then the next day I got news that the code for the doors had changed, and I discovered no one but the owners had been given the new codes, so I went around knocking on doors and giving the codes to the renters in the building. It was a busy weekend – Auguste and I got to meet some of our new neighbors, and so far everyone seems to have the codes (no one has broken down the door yet, although someone did prop it open with a big rock yesterday).

I love my apartment, and I like most of my neighbors. We got to know each other better during lockdown, chatting with each other from our balconies – and we now stop and chat more easily. I think eveyone has some shyness in them that makes it hard to talk to strangers, even when you see them from across the courtyard for years.

On other news, my book “A Crown In Time” is on sale for $0.99 – so go grab a copy for your kindle and leave a review – I somehow need to get to 50 reviews. That would be great.

A Crown in Time: She must rewrite history, or be erased from Time forever... (The Tempus U Time Travel series) by [Jennifer Macaire]


Claire Ptak’s Banana ice-cream

Banana ice-cream

Banana “ice-cream” made only with frozen blitzed bananas and a little honey and salt. Finished with the best olive oil you can afford, the simple banana becomes something else entirely. Hallelujah.

Serves 2-4
3 medium bananas
A pinch of fine sea salt
2 tbsp honey
Extra virgin olive oil, to finish
Flaky sea salt, to finish

1 Slice the bananas and freeze them in a container for at least 1 hour. Remove them from the freezer and immediately blitz them in a food processor until smooth. Add the salt and honey, and blitz to mix. Decant the mixture into an airtight container and freeze again for at least two hours.

2 Serve with a drizzle of your best olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Dear White People, This is What We Want You to Do

Inside The Kandi Dish

I don’t want to hear “I can’t believe this.”

I want you to read upon the history you’ve had the privilege to ignore.

I don’t want your opinions or thoughts.

I want you to listen to the Black experiences you’ve chosen to forget.

I don’t want your #BLM Instagram story reposts.

I want screenshots of your bail out money donations and patronage of Black labor/art/knowledge.

I don’t want your passive Twitter likes.

I want you to follow Black tragedies as much as you follow Black trends.

I don’t want to vindicate your white guilt. It’s yours to reconcile.

I want you to check your racist parents and call out your apathetic white friends (especially when there are no people of color there) without expecting a pat on the back.

I don’t want your tears. I have plenty of those.

I want…

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Maya vs The Corona Virus

While in quarantine, I was approached by two talented sisters to translate their book, “Maya vs The Corona Virus’ – So that is what I’ve been up to lately, that and overseeing a French translation of my book, La Promesse, of which I will say more at a later date!

But this is a wonderful book for children – don’t hesitate to share the link – the book is free online here: Maya vs the Corona Virus 

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April 24th and we’re still here

Spring is in full swing, and the air is full of pollen. The poppies are in full bloom. The golden forsythia are green leaves and the iris have withered. The last of the lilac brown in the sun. Grass grows tall near the train tracks, and sitting on the balcony between noon and 3 pm is impossible now, unless we want heatstroke.

There really isn’t much to write about. I walk the dog, I read a lot, I watch TV, I cook. Stef is taking care of his mother, (my husband is the best) she is doing better now that we have changed her diet somewhat and gotten more help in to care for her. She tries to get out of taking her bath or eating well, so Stef has to go make sure everything gets done.  She refuses to leave her apartment – we’ve been trying for years to get her to move closer to us, but she won’t, so Stef has to drive in to Paris almost every day. I think he probably likes to get out, although going to look after his mother is not high on his favorite things to do.

So it goes – the quarantine drags on, and one of our neighbors’ children has a particularly peircing scream. (The little girl on the ground floor – but she is such a cutie – her smiles are a mile wide – when she isn’t screaming.) Another neighbor has a baby boy, and we think he’ll be an opera singer one day. He doesn’t cry, he howls, and it’s hard to imagine such a big, deep voice coming from such a tiny tot. He also has one of the most delightful laughs – when you hear it you can’t help but grin. The other children in the building are older.  Two brothers sometimes go out to play soccer in the evenings in the courtyard. A teenage girl takes a blanket and lies out in the sun with her schoolbooks. Another family has a girl and a boy who race each other back and forth on the balcony, they take their skateboards to the sidewalk outside in the evening. It must be so hard taking care of kids in a small apartment, with the quarantine. 

It’s also the first day of the holy month of ramadan, so many of our neighbors will be fasting (for a while at least – it’s a tradition, so many will start, but most, after a week, stop, I noticed. Plus many have told me they do it for a few days but find it out-dated). But it is a time of rest, of meditation, and of prayer. And of eating after sunset. One of my favorite salads is part of a traditional ramadan dinner feast – here is the recipe:

  • 3 tomatoes, finely diced
  • Cucumber
  • 1 diced sweet onion
  • 1 green or red pepper
  • 1 cup of freshly chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp of freshly extracted lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • Pinch of salt

Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper and onion into small peiced. Toss with the cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. Let the flavors meld for a while, and enjoy!

And here is a great recipe for flat bread – (parathy -can also be made and then frozen)




April, come she will…

From my newsletter this month

April has come, just like in the song, and it’s still lockdown. There isn’t much to tell – my world has shrunk to the size of my apartment and balcony. Thanks to the dog, we walk a little every day, but Auguste is old and cranky, and won’t go very far. We go to the store once a week, but it’s a dash in and out – and some days we go to the bakery around the corner. So for some good cheer, here is a funny story from my past and some books I’ve read this past month:


The day I met a drummer

I’m not very good with faces. My husband will tell you I hardly recognize my own children. That’s a lie – but it’s true that I’ve got a problem with identifying people.

When my husband and I were engaged, we were invited to a tour of English military bases to play polo as part of the American team. My husband is French, but he was engaged to an American (me) – he was already in Europe – he played polo – so he was asked to replace an American player who broke his arm. We received a long letter with the schedule, what clothes to bring (nearly every stop had a black-tie dinner organized), and there were various official functions we’d been attending, which meant suits and ties for Stephane, evening dresses for me, along with his polo gear and casual clothes for touring the cities and travel.

When we arrived in England, the first stop was at Tidworth, home of the British Army Polo association, where we were invited to lunch. I was seated by a tall blond man, who, to my surprise, was not English but American. We started chatting, I learned his name was Stewart, and I asked him what he did besides play polo.

“I’m a drummer,” he said.

“A musician! That’s terrific.” I nodded sagely. “It’s so hard to get a break in that business – I have friend who has been trying for years to make a living with his music,” I continued. “I wish you the best of luck.”

“Thank you,” he said gravely, and we switched to another subject – (I didn’t want to make him feel bad about his chosen profession.)

After lunch, we watched a polo game, then said our goodbyes. In the bus, heading back to London, everyone wanted to know what Stewart had said to me.

“Why? Who is he?” I asked.

A collective gasp. “Stewart Copeland? You don’t know who Stewart Copeland is?”

I admitted I hadn’t recognized him and was teased mercilessly for the rest of the trip.

A few months later we met in Palm Beach. He saw us first and came up to greet Stephane and me – (and I recognized him this time). I grinned up at him and said, “I’m glad to see you’re doing so well with your music.”

He said with a laugh, “I have to admit, it was the first time someone was worried about me getting a break.


News from the Lockdown:

I have been spending every sunny day outside on the balcony. Stef has taped white lines on the rug and practices his chips and putts – I read, paint, nap, think of what to make for dinner that won’t add kilos – I’ve already gained one since lockdown started, and that is despite doing my exercises and cadio workouts, so I really have to stop snacking every time I get bored. (Update on the balcony putting green: every night a bird comes and takes a strip of tape. Somewhere nearby there is a nest with twigs held together with white electrical tape.)

Books I’ve read and enjoyed lately:

Felicity at the Cross Hotel by Helena Fairfax

An Uncomplicated Man by Colette McCormick

Rise of the Petrol Queen by Jon Hartless

Mid-life follies by R J Gould

The Writing on the Wall

When the twins were eleven months old, we flew from hot and sticky Buenos Aires to icy, wintry Albany, New York (via Rio de Janeiro and NYC) for the holidays. We stayed with my mother in her tiny house in Kinderhook. The twins had their cribs in an upstairs bedroom, pushed against one wall. Almost from the first day, a mysterious thing happened – scrawling scribbles in what looked to be pencil appeared on the wall by Sebi’s crib. Now, the twins were, at that time, eleven months old. They didn’t walk or talk yet, so we couldn’t ask what was going on. I looked everywhere for a pencil. We took Sebi’s bed apart. We took his mattress off, we shook out his covers. We looked in nooks and crannies in the crib and found nothing – but every morning there were more scribbles.

We washed the wall. Searched again. A pencil in the hand of an eleven month old could be dangerous. We took the bed apart, again. The next morning – more scribbles. This happened for over a week. We could Not understand where Sebi got the pencil. Where was it? How? And then one day, as we were washing the wall and again, searching for the pencil, my mother moved Sebi’s stuffed bunny out of the way, and felt something hard in it. Carefully looking, we found a tiny hole, and poked into the hole, was the stub of a pencil. Sebi had been taking it out, scribbling on the wall at night, and pushing it back into the stuffed animal when he was done.

The mystery cleared up, we could stop worrying about ghosts handing out pencils to wakeful babies at night. And then we went to Florida for the polo season. There, we rented an apartment with pristine white walls. And there, one day, Sebi (or Alex – I’ll never know) found a pen and scribbled all over the wall behind the couch. My husband had been gone all morning and I’d been watching the twins. When he came home, I was busy scrubbing the wall. Obviously, I’d failed in my duty – the blue markings on the wall proved it. “How could you let him do that?” My husband said. “How hard can it be to watch two toddlers for an hour?” 

Well, the next day I went shopping and an hour later I came back to find my husband, red-faced, scrubbing the wall. While I’d been gone, and while he’d been watching one twin, the other had found a pen and had scribbled all over the wall again. I was far too virtuous to say “I told you so.” But one day, I promised, I’d write the story down. And so I have.


Day 28 of lockdown – Polo Life Stories

I had twin sons, Sebi and Alex (January 1986), then eight years later, along came a daughter, Julia (August 1994). Anyone with kids knows that kids are half goodness and light and half demons from darkness. Mine were no different. What made my relationship with them slightly different was that the twins were “extreme preemies”, born at only 6 months and very fragile, and the fact that my husband played polo, and so we travelled all over the world, never staying more than a month or two in the same place, going from guestroom to hotel – sometimes staying in rented houses or apartments. We travelled alone or with the polo team. Sometimes there were forty horses, eight grooms, four players and their wives and children along with us – sometimes it was just us, going from tournament to tournament.

Arriving at the airport, we had our suitcases, golf clubs, polo sticks, the “polo bag” with my husbands gear in it, the stroller, the carry-on bags full of food and bottles for the twins and their stuffed animals. Our car looked like a gypsy caravan, especially the time we spent a month in Deauville, and we had the dog and a hamster cage in the car as well. (Of course we couldn’t leave the hamster behind!) Just to say that the twins were with me all day, every day, and they were used to a certain type of organization in life that bordered on complete mayhem.

It was impossible to keep any kind of schedule when you cross six or seven timelines every month, where you go from the tropics to an English springtime complete with snow and freezing rain then back again. We stayed in such a wide variety of housing that the twins were constantly adapting to different beds, sometimes no beds, sometimes fold-out cots, matresses on floors, canopy beds, double beds, beds in front of fireplaces in houses with no electricity…And they were troopers.

Their first trip was made from West Palm Beach, where they were born, to England. They had just spent two months in the NICU, they weighed four pounds each, and they shared the same baby cot in the plane they were so tiny. With our reguar luggage were their heart monitors that the hospital had lent us – we had to send the back when a doctor in England would give permission, and until then, they slept with little webbed bands around their tiny chests which held (more or less in place) the electrodes that measured their heartbeats and breathing. When those little electrodes slipped and the alarms went off, (usually in the midle of the night) Stef and I would peel ourselves off the ceiling and rush to the boys’ room – thank goodness it was never anything other than a false alarm. We didn’t get much sleep those first months.

That summer, we spent April to August in England, then we went to France (Paris, Deauville, & Bordeaux) and stayed until November, with just a short jaunt to the south of France. After we went to Argentina, where we stayed until December, and then we got in a plane and flew to New York for the Christmas holidays. Then it was down to Palm Beach for the winter season. So by the time the twins were a year old, they’d already been across the globe, had changed stollers twice. (The first one got broken when it traveled with the horses, so I bought a new one in France, but somehow the second one got left behind in the airport and so I got stroller number three in New York.)

For their first birthday, we were back in Palm Beach. Their heart moniters were back in the hospital where they belonged. The twins had graduated from eight bottles a day to a more manageable five and were now crawling around and getting into everything. Alex was just about ready to walk, Sebi, who had been very ill just as we arrived (January 1987) in Florida, was still sickly and cranky. Stef and I spent a week in Jamaica playing polo – the twins stayed in Florida with friends and family – the polo community is a very tight-knit one when it comes to family and children (they will cut your throat for a job though), and so, after a year of being with the twins constantly, Stef and I actually had six, full nights of uninterrupted sleep. Thank you, Sophie, Jean & Lou, Angelica, Theresa, and everyone else who chipped in to babysit the twins.

When we got back, I organized a big birthday party for the twins. I invited everyone, I ordered a huge cake, and we went to the park on the corner of the street. Of course, a cold front had moved in and as soon as we got to the park it poured. There was a mad rush back to the apartment, carrying the cake, the candy, the kids, and the drinks. Inside the small apartment there were now ten toddlers, twelve children under twelve, fifteen mothers, nannies, neighbors, dogs (Someone brought their three dogs plus my sister-in-law’s dachshund), all crammed in the house for the twins’ birthday party. Now, the doctors will tell you, with premature babies you must avoid over-stimulation. The advice we got, when the twins were in the hospital, was to keep them warm, fed, and in a very calm environment. That never really happened, but Sebi always was hypersensitive, so he wailed and sobbed all through the party, with the result being that as soon as the cake was cut and devoured, everyone grabbed their kids, dogs, coats, and umbrellas and fled. The silence was deafening. Sebi stopped screaming. Alex (who could sleep through anything), woke up and started to howl for his lunch/tea/dinner/anything he could eat). A dog crawled out from under the couch and begain to howl as well. Someone knocked at the door. “Sorry, forgot my dog,” said the neighbor.