The Parisian Parasite




Here is a picture of a souvenir my husband brought home from France.  No, it is not a beautiful silk scarf, but a laboratory slide of the parasite cryptosporidium,which rendered him weak and miserable, unable to walk more than the few steps from bed to bathroom.

If you’ve seen my other posts you know I’m not the eager traveler my husband is. I like to say that he is the dragger, I am the draggee –  a hard sell, preferring to spend my time with family and friends right here in the good old USA, where we can be reasonably sure that the water is drinkable, the food is safe, and hand-washing is advised for all restaurant workers. I say reasonably, of course. Food poisoning, unclean produce, and poor hygiene exist here too.  This six syllable scourge is a water -borne organism, and we have no idea how it came to lodge in my husband’s gut, only that it came to him in France.

This was not our first encounter with traveler’s troubles.  Our first mishap occurred in Tibet, and we blamed it on a visit to an orphanage. We were offered momos, a kind of ravioli made with ground meat.  Foolishly we accepted, not liking to be impolite, and, although we managed to visit the Jokhang Temple, below, within hours we needed a  doctor.  Our tour guide translated as the doctor inserted a make-shift IV.  As all the medications prescribed were written in Chinese, we do not know what was given, only that they worked very quickly. For about $75 – a cure.

In Lhasa Tibet - post momo

I  was cured too – of ever wanting to travel anywhere ever again.  I was sure the universe was telling us to stay put, but my intrepid spouse didn’t agree. Soon he was back on the computer, tap- tapping away on Turkey.  Yes, I was dragged, but I loved it.  Hagia Sophia was magnificent, as was all of Istanbul – a fabulous cosmopolitan city.  The blue mosque, (see me there below, in headscarf) was gorgeous.

J inside blue mosque

Worth the trip – almost. We had a local guide, who took us to restaurants and ate with us, ate the very same food. Apparently his immunity was established and ours was not.  Soon we were both in a Turkish hospital, unable to keep anything inside our bodies.  Once again a doctor prescribed medication, charged us each about $75, and we were able to get home – thanks to a certain pink peppermint liquid and luck.

At this point I said no more.  This time I meant it. But . . . I am half French, and am a fan of all things French.  My husband dangled the lure of Paris, city of light, before me and I succumbed.   He promised only high end dinners starred by Michelin, where you had to pay a king’s ransom for water, bottled of course. And so we went.  We feasted each night like kings, as he’d promised.  But that was dinner. During the day there was breakfast and lunch. Did the workers in our hotel and in sidewalk cafes wash their hands?   Were all the vegetables carefully cleaned? Perhaps not.  Or perhaps some other water source propelled the horrible cryptosporidium into my poor husband.

Fortunately, my husband’s immune system has been working hard, and he is much better. But he will never recover this August.  After the ecstasy of fabulous Paris, the agony of the Parisian parasite. . . a month of recurrent flares, of bland food and limited activity.

A word to  would be travelers, even in first world countries: eat neither fruit nor uncooked veggies, drink only bottled beverages and keep your immune system fired up and ready to roar. Better yet, stay home!




























Writer’s and Illustrators’s Blog Tour

Hi everyone!  I’m up next on a Blog Tour for Writers and Illustrators, invited by Nan Mutnick, a novelist, essayist, and yoga teacher extraordinaire. What every writer needs is a cheerleader, someone to praise, encourage, and give that necessary nudge.  For me, that person is Nan, my Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute buddy and Cheerleader in Chief. Thank you, Nan. Find her at


Specialities of the House

I need a lot of prodding.  I am a quintessential stick in the mud, married to a man who wants us to see the world together. He’s the dragger. I’m the draggee.  Above I am posing in a purple scarf, purchased from a market day kiosk in France.  Below I’m in China, looking forward to dumplings for dinner. In my new (thanks again Nan) blog,  I’ll offer my take on Paris, Pompeii, Tibet and Turkey, as well as my life as an ex- Bronx teacher and current scribbler.

jackie in china 1


We’ve just returned from the Perigord, a region in southwest France where foie gras rules and castles abound.  I’m a few chapters into a romance novel set in a haunted chateau. Working title: Haunted by Happiness.   Start with an Irish American girl, add an impoverished French count, insert them in the picture below, and voila!



Writing had always been what I loved, but who had time, as a teacher, as a mom, as a wife? How to start? What to write about?  What have I learned?  I once read that if we could see into another person’s life, then we would forgive them. Certainly not an original insight, but one which resonates with me.  But I don’t write to preach. I write to release something unknown that bubbles up from within. Whether wounded or joyful, frightened or furious, I send forth torrents of words, the dam broken, from the place where writing starts.


The beginning is like hearing another voice in my head. Driving, folding laundry, doing all the ordinary physical things that have to get done, words come to me. Eventually images follow, and I sit down to write. Fear not! I am not certifiable, and I haven’t spent much time thinking about Joan of Arc, despite my French vacation.  But words arrive, unbidden, sometimes in the form of song lyrics, or lines of the poetry I used to teach, or something someone once said. And characters begin to live in my imagination.


I’d like to say that my writing is uncommon clever, literate, engaging, and so forth, and so I will!  I write about women who are both smart and stupid, and the men who complement them.  Most unique and individual is a little bite in my voice, inviting you to join me in a shared joke about my characters and about myself.

Thanks again to Nan  Mutnick for inviting me on this tour. Look her up at

Next up  are two talented classmates from the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute. Both are prolific, energetic, animal loving, and awesome. Both are terrific writers. You’ll find them at:

Rebecca Marx:

Jessica Rao:


Links to the Blog Tour Author/Illustrators –

Marcela Staudenmaier:

Judith Moffatt:

Susan Novich:

Meg Sadano:

Anne Wert:

Sarita Rich:

Susie Slosberg:

Nan Mutnick:

Jackie Goldstein:


The Liver Pate Connection

Specialities of the House

As the third generation descendent of two French grandparents, my food choices were different from those of my peers. As a child I loved liver pate. No, we didn’t make it at home, with force-fed goose liver. The heritage cuisine downgraded over time and the stuff I was served came in a can. Salty, milder than liverwurst, but still tasty, it was one of my favorite lunch treats. Until the day I brought it to school between two slices of bread. Ew! Ugh! What is that?  Kids at the lunch table thought it was disgusting. I stoutly defended it, but decided not to bring it again. Ham and turkey were the new “normal”  cold cuts of choice. But my old passion returned once I started touring in France and got a taste of the real thing. Other Americans said Ew! Ugh!  But moi? I savored every delicious bite.  Liver Pate. Try it sometime. Bon Chance!

Do you have any taste of home treats that others just don’t get?

Absent Yet Present

It begins with hearing another voice in my head. When I’m driving, folding laundry, doing all the ordinary things that have to get done, words come to me. Eventually images follow and I sit down and write. When I’m not writing I really try to pay attention, to be present in the now, but soon my disobedient mind is wandering far away. Imagine a computer with three windows, past, present, and future, like Ebenezer’s Christmas spirits. I have perfected looking a person in the eye, giving that nod to show I am listening, interjecting a quiet word like really! Or yes! To pretend I am following. But I am not. Instead I am remembering an overheard conversation, or imagining my character’s next scene. I can’t seem to keep my brain where it needs to be, the present. Restless, roaming, looking for the right word or the almost right word, as Mark Twain would say, I let the pasta boil too long, the chops turn into char-b-Q, the marinara run over the pot in rivulets like the red sea. When I want to be writing I find it hard to pay attention, to fix this mind of mine on what is happening right now. When the right word strikes I hurry to the computer, forgetting to turn off the stove.