The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday, 20 January 2023

Crikey!

It's all go again here and boy has it been a weird few days. I went to sewing on Monday evening and we were all chatting (some of us do more chatting than sewing - that would be me) and I commented to Patricia that she didn't look too well (she's the lady whose son is now disabled after falling downstairs and landing on his head)! She's been off work quite some time with an arm/shoulder injury and as she works in a factory and does sewing on the side, I imagine there might be a few financial worries there too! Well she sat down and kinda burst out that she was going to ask her doctor to test her for Alzheimer's! Yikes, I wasn't expecting that! She's 58 and told me that not only is she becoming extremely forgetful but that sometimes she can be driving and have to stop because she doesn't know where she is - and that's on familiar roads! Wow, what can you say to that? I think we've all gone upstairs and then couldn't remember why we'd gone there, but to be driving on familiar roads and suddenly not know where you are would be more frightening! I hope for her sake it's the stress of her current situation rather than anything more serious. Heck I remember once mentioning to my doctor at work that I was starting to worry about that too, but since she knew my home situation she told me that stress and lack of sleep are extremely toxic to your mental health. Turns out she was right!

I mentioned in my last post the very heavy snow fall we've had here the past few days and "how much fun it is" digging out. Well I can see my friend's driveway from my front door and I noticed on Monday that she hadn't dug out. Nothing wrong with that if she wasn't intending to go anywhere. Then on Tuesday the same thing - again, no problem - but I did notice that there was a very large dump of snow directly in front of her car, as though it had melted off the hood and was starting to build up. Then the following day the same thing, so when I got home that evening I sent her a FB message calling her a lazy bugger! No response. I sent her a text message. Again, no response, so I called but ended up getting her voice mail! As it was nearly 11 pm already I sent a message to her sister in Spain and asked her if she had spoken to her lately. About an hour later she replied that she'd spoken to her the day before so she was probably all right. My friend didn't respond until the next morning when she told me she'd turned her phone off so I told her next time to at least check it before she went to bed because she'd almost had a couple of French gendarmes rappelling in through her bedroom window that night!

My brother-in-law was in hospital on Monday for a hip replacement and I could hardly believe it when he was up and walking in the afternoon and home the next day! He's still in quite a bit of pain, which was to be expected, but crikey, isn't it amazing what they can do today!

Then on Thursday there was a general strike in France with about two million people protesting (mainly in Paris) against Macron's reform of the pension system and anti-Macron generally. This strike was planned ages ago but Macron, the Interior Minister, the Minister for the Economy and the Transport Minister went to Spain for the ever-so-important "Friendship Treaty" between the two countries! Given that the biggest sector affected by the strikes was the transport sector, makes you wonder if the choice of the French delegation to Spain wasn't just a little bit suspect! Anyway, some schools were closed and since Charlie's daycare was closed Jen asked me if I'd have him for the day!

It was -9°C (15°F) when I scraped god knows how many inches of ice off my car at 8 a.m. and gingerly drove through the village to get to our local town. Once I hit town though it really wasn't bad going. In town I stopped to let a young lad on a driving lesson pull out. It must have been one of his first lessons because he took the traffic island almost as wide as I was taking bends when I had shrunk five inches last week! But poor bugger, first lesson and you're driving in town in 10 inches of snow! Which reminds me of André's first lesson when the young instructor took him into the mountains in the snow! André was a cocky bugger (aren't they all at that age) and he said it was great, so no harm done!

So I had the babe all day and we had an absolute blast. After his nap "we" decided to play hide-and-seek and then we had to jump out and scare each other. Well of course he always hid in the same place - behind his bedroom door - but he must have been having a "bit of a wind problem" because he kept farting up a storm and saying "oh pardon" ("oh excuse me") every time. Needless to say he found me more often than I found him but at one point we were laughing so hard we were crying! God love him!

On the good news side, I mentioned before that Jordan had been working with a group of Romanian plumbers who went home for three weeks over Christmas. Turns out the company has a contract with a Romanian company to bring these guys over and find and pay for their accommodation to do plumbing work. Well I guess the ski resort where they were working (and staying) needs the accommodation during the ski season, so the Romanians are now staying further down the mountain in a place called Cluses. So Jordan's boss asked him if he would volunteer to be a driver, and when he said yes (it's only five minutes out of his way), the boss rented a 9-seater bus and Jordan is now getting an extra €400 a month for picking them up and getting them up to the ski resort!

I drove home (gingerly) after looking after the babe, but the roads weren't too bad considering it never made it above freezing all day. So feeling proud of myself I parked the car, got out - and went "arse over tit" on the ice! I wasn't hurt (except for my pride, I guess) but even I thought it must have looked pretty funny (if anyone had been around) as I kinda did a "running on the spot" thing before my pratfall!

And finally, around 8 a.m. this morning I heard the most humongous bang and instantly thought my solar panels had come off the roof. When I went outside to check I found half the neighbourhood doing the same thing but nobody knew what it was. I kinda thought it might have been an earth tremor but turns out a tanker carrying propane had caught fire and exploded just 10 km from here! It was lifted into the air and debris crushed a car one kilometre away! Thankfully the driver was able to get out and there was just one person injured (although seriously, I believe). The explosion happened in the village where Jordan and Jen lived before they moved to St. Jeoire, but still only about five km from both their and André's places. Considering this is on a major access road for those travelling into Geneva and it was rush hour, it's a miracle there weren't more injuries - or even deaths!

For the time being the snow has stopped and the sun is shining and everything is absolutely beautiful! So I thought I'd share a couple of photos published on FB by the Département de la Haute Savoie (the State of Haute Savoie) yesterday, although the first two photos are mine (spot the difference between an iPhone and a real photographer!

The view from my place!

The view from Jordan's balcony!

The rest are from the Département de la Haute Savoie!







Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Quite the workout!

I was offline again for most of last week because yet again I felt like I needed to break the online habit in order to get more done around here. Trouble with that was I still don't seem to be able to pace myself and suddenly think I'm going to declutter the whole house, get out walking every day, take care of Charlie and a million other things all in one week. Well that didn't quite work out as planned, so I "crashed" for a few days and did pretty much bugger all! Oh I'd been working really well before that and did get a lot done but I really hate that I still don't seem to be able to pace myself better - or maybe it's just that I'm no longer 25 (probably that, right?)!

Oh and before I forget, since I was again offline for a while, Sam I was glad to read that you had a wonderful time with your kids, even if your son's flying "adventures" weren't optimal!

Anyway I took some time out and tried to stay away from the computer for a while, although what with all the gardening videos starting to pop up on Youtube I wasn't always successful. I did get round to reading a book I must have had hanging around for ages, but it seemed quite appropriate (even if it's somewhat dated) to read it in January!

I think I must have gotten rid of about 40 books last week, most of which were beautiful but I finally had to admit that I was never going to get round to reading them. Five of them were on the Normandy landings which I guess my ex bought when we were in Normandy about 20 years ago and as it felt kinda "shameful" not to read them I decided to keep just one and donate the others, my reasoning being I'm not here to curate any more of his stuff! I think it's a bit like not being able to get rid of a bible, with the guilt factor being pretty strong even though I'm not religious!

I watched a few new-to-me Youtube videos today and have discovered a couple of UK news programmes where they talk about current events but can be so funny and irreverant at times! They were talking about various space exploration programmes and one item I hadn't heard of was how the UK Government seemingly "convinced" taxpayers to fund a Virgin mission to Mars (and how ridiculous that is given these very difficult times), but when the one commentator said "I think it made it as far as Brighton" I just cracked up!

The guys came and installed my solar panels last Tuesday so that might have contributed to my fatigue levels, but they were very efficient and in about six hours they were done. All three were Kosovan and told me they travel all over France installing panels. Then the other night I heard a couple of terrific bangs and realized there was a massive thunder storm coming down the valley - and praying the solar guys had done a really good job fixing those things to the roof - seemingly they had. And I was saying to them that it was starting to get serious in the resorts, what with the lack of snow and how I felt sorry for them! Mind you, this cartoon did make me laugh!

And then of course Monday night happened and we got about eight inches of snow dumped on us, followed by about another four inches today, so guess who got to get a real workout and shovel about 10 inches of snow off three driveways!!!! My two sets of immediate neighbours are pretty good about whoever gets out there first just does the three driveways or we do it together - there's not an awful lot to do to be honest - but today that stuff was heavy! My immediate neighbour didn't look very well to me last time I saw him and I was pretty sure the others were away but thought I'd just do the whole lot and get it over with. Mind you, by the time I'd finished even I didn't want to be downwind of myself! And of course it's started snowing again this evening!

After I'd taken a shower and sat down to recuperate a bit I received a rather nice text from my ex telling me that he and his mom loved the photo albums of Charlie I'd made for them and that it was very thoughtful of me! I guess I really wasn't expecting that but maybe it's more than just the snow that's finally starting to thaw!


Wednesday, 4 January 2023

They're just tiles, right? Well no they're not, as it turns out!

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, however you chose to celebrate! For me, I stayed home alone because frankly I don't like new year's celebrations and would rather be off the roads in any case. I did contemplate opening a bottle of wine to celebrate but then thought "nah, why bother", so I got to spend new year's eve reading and enjoying the silence until midnight. Local fireworks were probably more intense than usual but they only lasted a few minutes. I mean, who can afford a 15 minute firework display anyway! The odd thing lately, though, is that I'm finding I could sleep for Britain if it were an Olympic event. I mean, I went to bed around 1.30 a.m. on New Year's Day (which is a pretty usual bedtime for me) and woke up around 11 a.m. - and there was no booze involved! For a couple of days now I've slept till around 10 a.m., which is just unheard of for me! I guess I'm turning into a marmotte (like Charlie) then! Still, with life starting to pick back up again, I suppose it'll soon sort itself out!

Talking of "home alone", the other day I received a bank letter for André as he obviously hasn't gotten round to changing his address for some things. He asked me to open it and turns out it was his new Swiss bank card so I told him I'd drop it off at his place next time I was in the area. Well I stopped off on the way to look after Charlie on Wednesday and let myself in to leave it on the table, rather than in his mail box. He was in Geneva and told me "not to mind the state of his place", but in reality it was fine except he'd had a few mates over the prevous night so I knew what I'd find ready for the recycling bin! With that in mind I'd prepared a little something at home, which I left taped in the kitchen on the way out!

I promise you, this is nothing
compared to what I was expecting
to find!

Talking of André, he was telling me that he has been tasked with setting up a meeting for his unit in Istanbul in February. I'm not sure what all it entails but I told him he'd better get very precise terms of reference and find out exactly what he will be responsible for beforehand, as well as a name of someone he can coordinate with in Istanbul. He is very junior so frankly it doesn't make sense to me to have him responsible for this, but I guess he'll find out more in due course. Heck we had a huge conference task force which was responsible for booking flights/visas, setting up conference facilities, recruiting interpreters and so on, so I'm thinking there's got to be more than just him for this event, even if it is a relatively small meeting. I'd love to go with him "to help out" as I love Istanbul, but then when you go on these things you're there to work, not sightsee!

Jumping from the rooster to the donkey (as they say over here), it's now been a year since I turned my television on and I haven't missed it at all! The computer - now that's another matter altogether and in fact one of my "resolutions" (most likely the only one) is to not get bogged down on the computer as soon as I get up. I get so much more done if I limit my time online in the morning that I really want to pull the plug on that bad habit. In the evening it doesn't really bother me, but to waste so much time in the mornings when there is so much I could be doing is just silly!

That being said, the other day I spotted a Jimmy Kimmel clip on Youtube which I thought was hilarious! I have never liked these one man monologue guest shows and the few that I have watched have confirmed that they just don't appeal to me! But in these clips I see that Jimmy and his cousin Sal are forever pranking his elderly Aunt Chippy (who is now over 80 years old)! And she is a hoot! Oh, she's feisty as hell and has a mouth like a dockworker but the other night I must have sat for over an hour watching the various ways they've pranked her over time. One time they had her house painted lime green while she was out. Another time he brought her a brand new car and had it put in her living room! Then shortly after all covid restrictions were lifted he invited her to watch one of his shows in Las Vegas, but beforehand she "had to have a medical, just in case"! How the actors kept a straight face I don't know but boy was she hot when she realized what was going on! But so far the best I've seen was when he "tricked her" into zip-lining off the 12-storey building where his show was taking place - and she would have been almost 80 at the time! The affection that their family seem to have for each other is just lovely, and Aunt Chippy is a hoot - if you don't mind bad language! And now I want to be Aunt Chippy when I grow up!
Jimmy with Aunt Chippy and Guillermo!

The other day I was giving André a ride home and as we went round the bend to pull into his parking lot he blithely commented that I could "get a Mack truck between me and the kerb", I took it so wide! Well yeah, I know that, but as I explained to him, all of a sudden I felt like I couldn't see the right hand side of my car and didn't want to bounce off the kerb! So when we parked he took one look at my seat and suggested I "move it up out of the reclining position" so that I didn't have to drive lying down! What?? While I know we shrink with age, I thought it weird that I seemed to have shrunk about five inches in six months and to be honest it was starting to bother me. Turns out one of my kids must have driven my car, and while I'd pulled the seat forward again afterwards I hadn't set the back in the upright position so no wonder I couldn't see the bloody right wing of my car! Huh, and here's me thinking I'd started shrinking faster than Aunt Chippy!

Talking of cars, it kinda tickled me (though not really) to read that there was huge disruption in parts of the UK over Christmas with people taking their electric cars to travel long distances to visit family and then getting stuck waiting as much as three hours at charging points to recharge their batteries! I guess that's what you get when they try to push "eco-vehicles" onto the public when the infrastructure isn't ready!

And again in the UK, I saw that the UK border force went on strike for whatever reason - pay I imagine - so the military were called in to take over. Well apparently they did a fantastic job with people singing their praises, particularly at airports, saying how efficient they'd been. I guess the moral there is before you decide to go on strike you'd better make damn sure you're indispensable first!

I think I mentioned in my last post that we'd lost one of Jen's Christmas presents. Well I searched high and low this week and decided to take down my Christmas decorations and pull out drawers and move furniture to try and get this place cleaned up at the same time as looking for the envelope (it turned up). And I've been doing really well, spending maybe an hour or sometimes two every day in a concerted effort to clean and/or declutter - and it's been great. So great in fact that I took a car full of stuff to the charity shop today - and yet there's still loads more that can go when I've got the time to sort it! I'm flitting from one room to the other, as is my want, but it's amazing how much better everywhere already looks just by spending a few hours at a time. I also submitted another medical bill to my insurance company via phone app on Sunday and just 45 minutes later I got a message back to say I'd been reimbursed! Apart from providing excellent coverage, I can't sing the praises of this company enough. Talk about efficient!

Oh and thank you to all the ladies who sent me Christmas cards via Anne's card swap. And Jan (in Santa Ana), yes I've been to the States. I actually lived in the States for four years (D.C. and Pittsburgh) as my ex is American, but when I was offered a job back in Switzerland in 1989 we both jumped at the chance to move back!

Talkng of new year's resolutions, while I think not wasting my mornings on the computer has got to be number one, I have indeed signed back up for the Walk 1,000 Miles Challenge as I'm hoping it will push me to get out walking more than I did last year. That being said, I also logged back into Myfitnesspal - a site I've used in the past for recipes and inspiration. Oh, I doubt very much I will be counting calories as I just don't have that kind of discipline, but when I logged back in the other day for the first time in about a year, I see that I'm actually down nine pounds as compared to this time last year! So I guess the trick is to ignore all dietary advice and just keep doing whatever I feel like!

And finally, wouldn't you know they're coming to install my solar panels on Tuesday - the same day as I've booked my car in for its contrôle technique (the MOT or vehicle safety check). Still, I'm sure they can work without me being home for about an hour. I mean, it's not like I'll be getting up on the roof or anything, is it! Then yesterday I went with Jordan to order all the fittings to redo my two bathrooms. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted anyway, but I really valued the sales lady's help (she obviously knew her stuff) and I'm so glad Jordan was with me to talk the "plumbing" talk! My French is good, obviously, but half this stuff I don't know in English, let alone French. One thing I finally got through my thick skull though is TILES! Tiles are tiles right? Well not in French they're not. Oh I know that roof tiles are tuiles, and floor tiles are carrelage but I could never get through my brain what faïence were. Turns out faïence are wall tiles and on many occasion I've mixed things up a bit so thankfully Jordan was there to explain to the nice (confused) lady that no, I didn't in fact want the pretty mosaic tiles I'd picked out for the roof, they are going on the floor because they are carrelage! I tell ya, I came out of there almost €10,000 lighter and totally exhausted - but not as knackered as that poor sales lady must have been. Still, at least she'll be making good commission!


Monday, 26 December 2022

And so time moves on!

Greetings earthlings (which is what I'm told Santa's elves say). I've been offline again for a few days so missed some of your recent posts (but am hopefully all caught up now)! I'm glad everyone seems to have had a good Christmas and is looking forward to the new year. Oh and I wanted to say to Ms Moon - I'm so glad Mr. M's latest ER escapade turned out ok (I had missed that post while offline)! I also want to mention that I spotted a few comments in my spam folder the other day so I apologize if anyone thought I was ignoring them - well anyone except "Rehana" who seems to be trolling his/her away round blog world again!

As for me, I guess not much is new although the past few weeks have treated me kindly! I bumped into the newest member of our sewing club at the market just before Christmas and she was rhapsodizing about how happy she is to have found our group. She's an older lady and a novice at sewing but is so enthusiastic and told me that she had never met such a friendly group and was having such fun. It's nice to hear, isn't it - and I get exactly what she means about our group. We all seem to have found "our gang" and are indeed very, very friendly and welcoming!

On the good news side I got word from the French authorities that they will reimburse me €2,000 (of the €4,500 cost) when I get my fire insert installed on 16 March. They do this in order to encourage people to get rid of their open chimneys, so while I won't have to demolish my fireplace (I wouldn't have anyway as I like it), by getting the insert it effectively puts the open chimney out of commission. That's surely better than a poke in the eye with a wet fish, right?

On the not so good news side, I haven't done nearly as well with my walking this year and don't really know why. Maybe I just lost my oomph, but I know the excruciatingly hot summer didn't help. Anyway, I've pretty much limped my way to around 900 miles for 2022. I really want to do better in 2023 so I'm going to sign back up to the FB group in order to keep my mind focussed!

This next I mention for no particular reason, but I've yet again been getting quite a few "hallo dearest, I'm the dying widow of ..... and would like to leave you $10 million in my will" or "this is UPS Wisconsin and we're having trouble delivering your parcel" (not surprising really, considering where I live!) and I inevitably respond by telling them to "go shove it where the sun don't shine" and then block. Well the other day I got a strange message from new-to-me email address "movasin" and was just ready to do the same when I took a closer look and it turned out to be the bill from my gynae (whose name is Sina Movarekhi). Damn, I'm glad I didn't have an attack of trigger finger on that one!

Then last week I went to our retirees' association lunch and was delighted to end up sitting next to a few of my favourite retirees (there are some everyone tries to avoid like the plague, of course)! Anyway, I ended up sitting next to Tony - who I was supposed to be going to André Rieu's Zurich concert with pre-pandemic ("for a dirty weekend" (not), as we put it) and we talked about looking up his latest dates now that he's touring again. Well it turns out Zurich is sold out already so it doesn't look like it will be this year for us, but for some reason I also spotted that my favourite comedian, Peter Kay, is back touring after taking a few years away "for personal reasons" and I'm delighted! All of his gigs so far are in the UK (although I know he'd sell out Geneva), so I'm debating asking my sister if she wants to book a date on his new tour to go see him together. I watched 18 minutes of him on Youtube this morning and he had me in stiches as his insight into life in Britain is absolutely spot on!

Peter Kay!

On the Christmas front, Papa Noël again visited our village earlier this week, but I guess Rudolph was having a rest pre-Christmas because yet again his arrival was somewhat unconventional!

I also bumped into Stan and his wife for the first time in ages and was pleased to see him looking well, even though his wife quietly told me that his health was still very much up and down!

With Stan and his wife, Martine!

On Christmas Eve we were invited up to Jordan and Jen's but Jen told us to wear something warm as we were "going somewhere first" - well that is if the landslide she had heard about hadn't blocked our route! Turns out we ended up at the ski resort of Samoëns, which is one of my favourite little towns,(I've written about it a few times already - Samoëns), so that was a nice surprise. We were there to see Papa Noël coming through (again), but this time his sleigh was being drawn by a rather beautiful shire horse. Everyone complied with the request to stay away from the horse and parents were very good at standing back and letting all the little kids go to the front. But wouldn't you know it, I held up my phone to start taking photos and the bloody battery died! Damn! But at least we got to see him for real, although to be honest Charlie was pretty non-plussed (he's still little as yet). After that they let off fireworks in the Botanic Gardens, and while the display was short it was very, very good! I heard an awful lot of English spoken - not sure if they were tourists here for the skiing or imports like me - and even a bit of Welsh so that was nice!

Samoëns (just before my phone died on me)!

Christmas Day was at my place, with Jen's mom making a wonderful sauerkraut lunch - a speciality of her region. I think we all hit it out of the ball park with our gifts this year - me especially with Jordan's self-heating coat. He was thrilled and couldn't wait to get the battery charged to try it, although he was a bit concerned that Jen might steal it from him (no chance) as he knew she would love it too, even if it was too big for her! I bought several gifts for everyone but at one point Jen was scrambling about looking for an envelope I had given her (a gift voucher to a craft shop), which seemed to have gotten lost in the fray - and which actually made me think of this quote from Very British Problems!


At one point Charlie was bouncing along one of the couches and Jen's mom smacked the sofa hard while playing with him. Well I'm ashamed to say a dust cloud flew off that thing and when Charlie emerged from it he looked like something out of The Hound of The Baskervilles! Talk about embarrassing! So this evening I have had my very heavy couches pulled out, scrubbed down and vacuumed thoroughly and yet I still didn't find Jen's voucher. As I moved the heaviest couch out I noticed a plug socket on the back of it??? Say what? Since when has my couch had a plug socket? Well it turns out it doesn't but it had been pushed up so hard against that wall that an old, unused socket cover had stuck to the back of it (I guess it really was time for a good clean then, right?)! Then I spent the next 30 minutes trying to put it all back together again but I now seemingly have one large cushion too many! Ha, so now I'm trying to find a picture of my couches to find out how they go back together. How dumb is that!

Both my kids are pretty funny and while I'm used to them, they often have Jen's mom in stitches. Anyway, André came out with this one last evening and we all burst out laughing!

"What are the three things an American can just never say?

"I'M SORRY"

"YOU WERE RIGHT" AND 




...... "WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE!"

While the first two are obviously not true, the last one is pretty spot on, in my opinion! So after my epic ramblings (you can see why I don't post often, can't you), I hope you have a lovely New Year's Eve and that 2023 is kind to all of us! Meilleurs Voeux - or Namaste from France!



 

Monday, 12 December 2022

How bloody sad!

It's been a strange sort of week this past week. After the big snow dump the other day I spent some time outside shovelling. Not a lot, to be honest, but it's so much easier to get it cleared when it's fresh rather than wait until it's frozen solid! When I'd finished I closed up the garage, walked through the front door and "poof" - no bloody electricity! I knew immediately that it wasn't anything to do with my house because you get that "pop" sound when a fuse blows. No, I reckon this was a local problem, most likely heavy snow bringing down some cables. Who knows! It was already getting dark and if you remember I posted recently about buying six magnetic LED lights and installing them at various spots around my home. So I went round and flicked four of them on and viola (as no-one here in France says), let there be light! Damn I felt invincible, a bit like a cross between Bear Grylls and Ray Mears! I'd even made a point on the first of the month to ensure they were fully charged! How's that for smug. I knew I'd be ok as my stove top is gas rather than electric, but I figured bread and cheese would do for dinner anyway. 

The roads were clear this morning
but we're expecting more snow starting tonight!

So I was bundled up reading on my sofa with a magnetic light behind me when my sister called to thank me for their anniversary card. She and my BIL celebrated 50 years of marriage on 9 December and went away to Dublin for four days as a treat. She said Dublin was bitterly cold and wet (I'm not sure that ever really bothers the Brits) but they had a wonderful time anyway. A wonderful time, that is except for the Albanian illegals! Their taxi driver was telling them that they fly in to Dublin, dump their passports and any other ID and then take off running. Parts of Dublin are now practically overrun and particularly dangerous because of knife crime and just generally filthy. I see what's going on on the south east coast of England with the illegals coming over from France by dinghy (though not all are Albanians), but hadn't realized they were actually flying into Ireland and doing the same over there. Albania is not in the EU and so while they have every right to enter EU countries they are not supposed to stay more than three months. Well good luck with that! I see the new Swedish government has just informed Brussels that (a) they will no longer be spending the EU-required percentage of GDP on foreign aid, and (b) they will automatically refuse asylum requests from anyone found to be Albanian on the grounds that Albania is not at war! Damn, talk about importing more problems!

As I was finishing up snow clearing my neighbours pulled in and as fate would have it, they also just "celebrated" their 50th wedding anniversary, having gotten married the exact same day and year as my sister and BIL. As she got out the car I wished her a happy anniversary and she "shushed me" and told me not to mention it! He's pretty deaf anyway but she told me later that, as she knew would happen, he hadn't wished her a happy anniversary and, in fact, hadn't spoken to her all day! How sad is that!

In other news, I'm still making (admittedly very slow) progress on sorting and getting rid of stuff. The other day I came across a bunch of cards and going through them I found a birthday card from Steve (who died about three years ago) and Brian (who I met in Turkey and I'm guessing died about the same time), from my brother and his wife (both also now dead) and my friend H, who died in Australia almost a year ago now! I finally felt able to get rid of most of the cards but have hung onto those few cards for the time being until I might feel able to get rid of them too!

I also showed a bit more enthusiasm in the kitchen this week and made "chocolate crinkle cookies" (a complete disaster, they would make better frisbees) and a very unusual parnsip and apple soup (from "Oh Crumbs!" blog) which was surprisingly good! Then last night I was at a bit of a loss so decided to flick through Netflix to see if anything good was on. Turns out there wasn't so I ended up watching a Norwegian film called Troll and my goodness, I don't know if it was meant to be a comedy or what, but it was bloody awful, even if the special effects were halfway decent! When I see something like that I often wonder if the actors - assuming they become famous later- are embarrassed by it or if that's just par for the course! Heck I believe Courtney Cox advertised tampax before finding fame on Friends!

Troll!

Yesterday I had some running around to do so decided to stop in at the local library to drop off my books. I wondered about the road up to the library, what with all the snow, but it was ok getting up there. However getting out of there was another matter altogether! The two main routes out of the old town are cobbled stone and steep so as the one had been blocked off I followed the car in front of me over to the other exit. However, I hadn't seen the "diversion" signs and he and I ended up blocked on a little back street in the old town with seemingly no way to get out! In the end we decided to take a one way street the wrong way - well it was about 10 metres the wrong way - and we were able to get out that way and follow a few other cars down through the fields back into town! Yikes, I don't think I'll do that again and it certainly put paid to any quaint idea I might have about moving into the old town!

Where Jordan and Jen live there are three young families on their floor, each with a young child. The youngest is Charlie and the oldest is Tia, who is a year older, and the three families often get together for pizza and play dates. Anyway, dad next door is a volunteer firefighter so the three Munchkins got to sit in a fire truck the other day before going up the mountain to go sledding! Jen said they had a blast!


On the bad news side, I was sad to hear Céline Dion's dreadful news that she has been diagnosed with "stiff person syndrome", an incurable auto-immune disease with a dreadful prognosis! I'd heard of it before but ....! It must be awful to be diagnosed with any kind of illness, especially since she has young children, but how sad and frightening for her. And to think I almost got to see her in Nice a few years ago, except my ex did his usual and staggered home sh*t-faced at 4 a.m. and it was too late for us to leave for Nice! She's bravely talking about being excited to get back to singing again but honestly, I don't see it myself! I wish her luck though, as goodness knows she's going to need it!

And finally, my nephew sent me the press release about the six little kids that had fallen into the water at Babbs Mill lake in Birmingham. At the time of writing, three had died (8, 10 and 12 I believe), a six year old is in critical condition in hospital, and two more are missing! Bloody hell! I have written briefly about Babbs Mill before (here). It's about 200 yards away from where I grew up and we used to play down there all the time, although it wasn't so much a lake back then as just the filthy River Cole. Apparently adults were calling out to the kids not to go near the water but somehow they all ended up on the ice and then disaster struck. It's sad any time, of course, but so near Christmas - I don't know how anyone could ever get over such a tragedy! My heart breaks for all the families involved!

My house was where the red flag is -
48 Dunton Road. As you can imagine, we kids
would always be either playing in the woods
or down at the lake!



Thursday, 8 December 2022

Bugger!

As so often seems to happen, I ran out of steam last weekend so ended up taking a couple of days off from being Bizzy Lizzie! It wasn't too bad though as I still got a lot done! On Friday I picked Jen and Charlie up from the Ford garage and they spent the day here while her car was being worked on. Since she loves putting Christmas decorations up and I hate it, we traded - I cooked and played with Charlie and she got my tree decorated, so we're all happy! I made a rather good split pea and ham soup for lunch - which was a darn sight better than the butternut squash soup I made the other day - or maybe the problem is that I just don't actually like butternut squash! I guess that begs the question "why buy it", right? Don't know really, but I do keep trying!

That's the nice thing about autumn and winter though, isn't it. There's not much that can't be improved by making "bottom of the fridge" soup or quiche! That being said, it's so mild here it's unbelievable. Facebook keeps reminding me that "on this day xxx years ago" the back garden was covered in snow, and while the snow line is creeping ever closer, so far we've mainly just had sunshine and what I would consider above average temperatures! Long may it last!

EDITED TO ADD: WE GOT EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW LAST NIGHT AND IT'S STILL COMING DOWN. I GUESS SNOW-SHOVELLING IS GOOD FOR THE BINGO WINGS TOO!

Jordan is still working up at Flaine (altitude 1,600 metres) and was saying that they have to put snow chains on every morning and evening. Sooner him than me! I remember one time years ago it had snowed overnight and as I was going grocery shopping my friend asked if she could come with me. So the two of us spent the best part of an hour farting around trying to get snow chains on my car - and this despite the fact that the bird in the adverts manages it in about 10 minutes in a pink cashmere sweater and with immaculate false nails (my eye!!!). So we rolled about in the snow for an hour and finally got the bloody chains in place, turned right out of our little subdivision and about 30 metres down the road the snow had all melted!!!! Anyway, all that to say that Jen was talking about Jordan wanting to buy a Milwaukee self-heating jacket. I'd never heard of them but seemingly you insert a battery (shaped like a stick of dynamite) into the jacket and it heats the entire thing up for xxx number of hours! How neat is that! So of course I went online and two days later both the jacket and the rechargeable batteries had arrived! I'd already got all my Christmas shopping done but what the heck!

At yoga on Monday we worked on the "salute the moon" set of exercises (as opposed to "salute the sun") and boy did I feel like I'd been hit by a truck afterwards! Since I was on a roll I also went to the gym for a short-ish workout on the old bingo wings and now I'm discovering aches in places I didn't even know I had places!

Then on Tuesday evening I went to a course at the library in a neighbouring village on how to make your own cleaning products. While it was good, as Jen said, it seemed to call for quite a lot of different items. So the next day I went online and found a recipe for homemade fabric softener - which cost me about 40 centimes to make and gives my laundry a pretty nice smell too!

While I was at sewing club the other week the Mayor of the village that gives us the use of their village hall (and gives us a small subsidy) stopped by to say hallo as he was coming from a meeting in the same building. I got chatting to him and what a nice guy he is. One of the ladies mentioned that I'd just driven to Thonon to pick up a new serger and he told me to "remember to put in for my mileage". Huh? I had no intention of asking for petrol money but he said they actually had money in the accounts and to make sure I put in for it. When I checked out the mileage, turns out I was owed almost €40, so I'm glad he was kind enough to mention it! I was all the more glad I put in for it yesterday, though, when I received a speeding ticket for €45 related to my trip to Thonon! I don't use that road often and had forgotten that there are radars all along it, and while I was only 8 km over the limit I still got done! Don't suppose the accounts would run to covering that huh - nah, didn't think so! Oh well, no good deed goes unpunished, as they say!

Then on Monday afternoon I had another appointment at the gynae's. I'm having to go every three months at the moment but it's nothing he nor I are particularly worried about - just something he wants to keep an eye on for a year! As I was about to leave I mentioned my recent mammogram (I go every two years) and he asked when I'd had it done as he hadn't received anything. When I said about six-eight weeks ago he was steaming mad, saying that he didn't know what was going on with that clinic but mine wasn't the first mamo that he hadn't received and that it was unacceptable! I told him the doctor had told me that everything was fine, but as he rightly said, if things hadn't been fine we had just wasted two months when he could have been following up on it. He was right of course, but then - rather strangely, I thought - he said he didn't know about me, but he was finding that in his profession at the moment the "I don't give a shit" attitude was becoming all too prevalent! The weird thing is I had to agree with him! Not because I'd been on the receiving end of poor treatment myself - not at all - but I've been seeing more and more people commenting about poor attitudes and service in the medical field! How funny that he should say that! Anyway, his office is in the centre of Geneva and I always park in the underground car park that serves the hospital and I hate it! This time half the lights were turned off and even if it was with a view to saving on electricity, I felt very uncomfortable down five floors in the dark on my own! Then, I hate pulling out of that car park because I find the winding exit ramp so tight! And I'm sure I'm not the only one because while Europeans generally tend to drive smaller cars due to our petrol prices, not everyone drives a mini either! And wouldn't you know it, as I was pulling out, for the first time ever I heard a screeching sound of concrete against metal! Bugger! When I got home I took at look at my car and it doesn't appear too bad. It seems I didn't hit the wall as much as scrape my low-slung Ford along the sidewalk leading out of the parking lot! But again, "damn and bugger it"!

On a more positive note, I received the annual cost-of-living adjustment notice from our Pension Fund and while it's a measly 3.3%, I guess that's better than a poke in the eye with a wet fish! The 3.3% represents the cost-of-living increase (average, I guess) in Switzerland because even though I live in France I take my pension in Swiss francs. Interestingly, I saw that had I been taking my pension in euros I would have gotten around 8.5% (France), with the highest quoted being Germany at nearly 10%!!!!! But the swings and roundabouts part of it is that the Swiss franc is so strong compared to the euro at the moment it all more or less evens out in the end!

And again on a positive note, my friend sent me a message to say that GAL Voyages (who we've travelled with a lot) sent her a notice to say that the trip to Holland to see the tulips was back on for April and would we like to pre-book (since that was the trip we had to cancel due to the pandemic), so we're going in to town tomorrow to reserve. From memory we'll be driving up to Belgium and then over to Amsterdam for a few days, on to Keukenhof to see the tulips and then on a cruise for a few days before heading back home! We've always been very happy with this company and I'm about ready for a vacation after three years without! Now if they put the Corsica trip on again this year as well I think I'll be in heaven!

Keukenhof

And finally, a thank you to Bobi in Maryland for my Christmas card (in Anne's Christmas card exchange). It came today!


Sunday, 27 November 2022

Had a good week this week!

I have no idea why but for some reason this week has felt like a really good one! I got a lot done that has been hanging over my head for ages but it hasn't felt like a chore. I don't know, maybe I just paced myself a bit better. I know what really helped, though, is getting back to yoga on Monday morning! I've missed a couple of weeks, what with having fuel delivered one week and then my car breaking down, but if there's one thing that sets me up for the week it's yoga - and that despite the fact that I have to force myself to go there! This week there was a new-to-me older lady in our group and I had a hard time trying to figure out what was going on with her. She was a tiny little dot of a woman who has obviously done yoga before, but I'm not sure if she'd maybe had a stroke or had dementia because while she could do the exercises easily, she seemed somewhat confused and was difficult to understand. That being said, our teacher was patience personnified and from what I gathered from the lady herself, she intends to continue - and good for her!

On Tuesday my car was back in the garage (a planned appointment) for new brakes, so after dropping it off I caught the little bone-shaker mini bus back home. By car it takes 10 minutes, on foot I could probably do it in about 50 minutes, but for €1.50 I got a 30-minute scenic ride round some of the local hamlets before being dropped off at the church in my village. With nowhere to go I felt in the mood to do some baking, so since I get on well with Thiery at Ford, I made peppermint brownies to take with me when I went to pick my car up later that evening. To be honest I was lazy and took the bus back down to town even though I could easily have walked, but as it looked like rain I decided to give walking a miss this time. I got chatting to the driver who, it turned out, was the same age as me and also retired (but still driving for the bus company?). Anyway, he was asking me if I liked walking in the mountains, so I said I did but hadn't done nearly enough of it this year, and I was probably pretty foolish for going on my own. He commented that if I didn't have health issues it shouldn't be a problem, but when I pointed out that anyone could twist an ankle or fall he ended up agreeing with me that it probably wasn't a good idea to go solo - and would I like to go walking with him one day??? Say what? I'm not sure what I said, exactly, and in any case, since we already have snow in the mountains, now would not be a good time to start. Anyway he said he regularly drives this mini bus and if I change my mind to get in touch!

About 15 mintues into the journey, "Jessica" got on the bus! I know her name was Jessica because she was on her phone constantly (and very loudly) the entire journey. Turns out Jessica needs new glasses and has an appointment mid-December. Then she wasn't sure what to make for dinner and seemingly balled her mom out for not walking the dog yet! It beats me why people have to have these kinds of conversations in confined spaces and at such volume! Oh I understand if the phone rings and you get caught out, or if it's an emergency, but I will never understand why people can't keep these conversations for when they are alone so that the rest of the world doesn't have to know the intimate details of their lives! When I was still working you would occasionally get someone like that on the bus to the border and the entire bus got to know their business, but to be fair it wasn't very often! I guess there's nowt so queer as folk, is there!

On Wednesday I managed to talk myself into going to the gym for the first time in about six weeks! Oh I was desperately trying to think of an excuse for why I shouldn't go but as I couldn't come up with anything, off I trotted and again I like it very much once I'm there. There were only three of us in the entire upper floor weight room so it's not like you actually have to wait to use any of the machines. Well that's maybe not strictly true because shortly after I arrived a man came upstairs and sat on one of the machines - and then proceeded to look at his phone for the next hour! He never moved once, and then just as I was about to leave, he picked up his towel and left! That must have been quite the work-out!

And remember I mentioned that I was going to make up a photo album of old photos for my sister? Well I got that done this week and sent it off for processing - and then 24 hours later my album was sitting in my mail box when I got home! Talk about efficient! It's not the greatest album because, as I say, it was made up mainly of very old black and white photos, but I'm delighted with it and I'm pretty sure my sister will be too. One of the oldest photos was of my great-grandmother on my mom's side holding my brother Phil - which I guess was taken around 1943 and which has come out reasonably well, so I'm pleased with that!


Phil, mom, granddad and great-grandma!

When I was at sewing club the other week, Chantal mentioned that she thought Patricia (our sewing teacher) wasn't doing too well at the moment and what did I think about stopping out to see her? This is the lady whose son fell down the stairs, landed on his head and who is now mentally disabled as a result. Patricia works in a factory during the day but depends on her sewing in the evenings to make up her salary - except that she currently has problems with her shoulder and arm and despite being on sick leave she can't even take advantage of the time off to catch up with her sewing. So Chantal asked if a couple of us would like to drive down to Patricia's under false pretext on Thurdsday just to stop in for a chat. And that's what we did. I bought flowers, Bernadette baked a couple of cakes and Chantal brought a bottle of wine and we spent a couple of hours helping Patricia with a few odd jobs before cracking open that bottle! You know how occasionally you meet someone who is just nice - well I reckon that's Chantal. She's very thoughtful and always one of the first to pitch in and help out, and I know Patricia was very touched by our visit!

Then on Friday I had to drive out to Thonon to pick up a serger (a fancy sewing machine, for the uninitiated) for our club and while Thonon is beautiful I hate driving out there because it's 50 km of small, traffic-filled roads and bottlenecks. And to think my neighbour drove beyond Thonon to Evian (where the bottled water comes from) every day for over 10 years for his job! I'm not surprised he was thrilled to be able to retire early - leaving home at 4.30 a.m. for years has got to get old very quickly! I gave myself plenty of time as the sewing machine guy - while nice - is chronically late and I still ended up sitting on a wall outside his shop for half an hour waiting for him to show up. Still, it's all sorted now and I drove back via St. Jeoire so I got to see Charlie for a couple of hours afterwards, thus making the hassle all worthwhile!

Thonon

And finally, I've gotten such a lot done this week I'm really happy with it. I've been trying to set myself an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to work in the house and either in the garden or the garage and it's been really productive. I guess I might be panicking slightly at the thought of 41 square metres of tiling plus fittings being dumped in my garage sometime soon in order for them to start work on my bathrooms! Still, through slogging away just a little bit every day I've got my bedroom completely sorted (eeew, the dust bunnies when I moved the bed) and a whole load of stuff taken to the charity shop! Where on earth does it all come from though? And then tonight I spent an hour "putting the garden to bed", and while I was doing that a paraglider drifted out from under the clouds on the mountain and landed in the field at the back of my house! How cool is that? I guess that's one way to avoid the traffic jams isn't it!

He landed a couple of seconds
after I took this picture!