The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Spring seems to have been cancelled due to lack of interest!

I'm not sure what happened but mother nature seems to have just skipped over spring this year and jumped straight from winter to summer! Shame really, as spring is my favourite season! I mean, we went from non-stop rain and around 15°C (59°F) to dry as a bone and 31°C (88°F) - and I'm wilting already. Well actually I'm ok as long as I stick around the house because the ground floor stays fairly cool and I can usually get a through breeze going, but of course I can't stay inside for two months can I! Thankfully my basement remains at a fairly constant temperature all year round and is a good place to store fruit and veg, either out on the work surfaces or in the fridge down there. (One thing ya gotta love about winter is you can always keep your wine cold right?)! So the other day I took the bull by the horns and finally got round to pressure-spraying my back terrace. It's a faff to set it all up but it's pretty satisfying to see all that crud coming off all the same. André works in the living room which gives on to the back terrace so I asked him if it would bother him if I ran the Kärcher and he said "as long as you're not doing it in the living room" (smart arse) and then, after I'd finished up, he had the nerve to say he couldn't see much difference! I tell ya, the urge to pressure spray his back teeth right there and then was pretty strong, so I'd say he got off lightly! Then while I was out the gardener came by and cut my grass after almost a month of non-stop rain, so all-in-all everything's looking pretty hunky dory right now!

As I finally got around to preparing Jordan's US taxes on Tuesday I called Jen to ask if I could stop over and leave them for him to sign. I have to wait until they've prepared their French taxes so I can get his final figure for 2020 and then convert it to $$$ for the US filing. What a faff that is for so little income! Still, it has to be done. Actually that's one of the reasons I gave up my green card in 1992. At the time, we were now a family of four living back in Europe, and in order for me to keep my green card I had to visit the US at least once a year. Well with two young kids and a new mortgage there was no way I could have afforded that trip every year so I handed it back. I think the rules have changed since but at least after that I never had to file US taxes again - which is good because I had a decent salary and when the dollar dropped through the floor against the Swiss franc I would definitely have owed! Anyway, Jen said she wanted to run into town to pick up a few things and did I want to come with her. Well I had forgotten how much stuff you have to lug around when you've got a baby in tow! The car seat, the stroller, the diaper bag, the spare bottles. You name it, I reckon a Himalayan expedition has got nothing on a shopping trip with a baby! That being said, Jen's very organized and he was a doll so everything worked out fine, but crikey, there's no such thing as just "nipping out to get a baguette" is there! Still, if you don't prepare you will inevitably get caught out won't you. I remember when André was first born I had a diaper bag for him but decided to leave it in the car while I nipped into the bank in D.C. I realized that was a mistake when a very kind lady pointed out that I'd got "green stuff" running all down my arm! Oh happy days!

Then on Friday I decided to sit in the garden and read for a while but André's US taxes were bugging me so I told him to give me his figures and in about 20 minutes I'd got his return prepared also, so that's a big thing knocked off the list. Just gotta get his French taxes sorted and we'll be home and dry. Oh and it's weird to think that all being well in just over a month he'll be moving into his own place! I was just saying to him the other day that this time last year he was still happily married (or so he thought), and now he's divorced, moved into France, got his residence permit sorted and is moving into his own bachelor pad in a few weeks! Stll, he's happy and I get to see both my kids more than ever before. Lucky me!

Last week Jen's grandparents made the trip down from northern France to see the baby so yesterday we all went out to lunch together on the terrace of the small restaurant near their home and it was really nice. While I can't say the lockdowns have bothered me as much as some, it was a really pleasant change to be sitting outside eating lunch again after all the restrictions and the bloody rain. Yesterday morning Jen and I decided to go to a vide-grenier (a mix of car boot/garage sale organized by the local villages) which was specifically aimed at baby stuff and where all the profits went to a foundation associated with a disease I'd never heard of, nor, I'm ashamed to say, can I remember the name now. But it was really well organized, everything was clearly priced and while the stuff wasn't maybe as cheap as you could get in a regular vide-grenier, it was still a good deal. Jen picked up a whole bunch of clothes for when Charlie is a year old (or more likely, what will fit him at around nine months), a bunch of toys and books and so on. I got a few things too and while everything appeared to be clean anyway, of course we'll both wash it all and put it away until needed. What I really wanted was a baby bouncy seat to keep at my house but I was out of luck, so tomorrow I will head out to the big charity shop near here to have a shufty, failing which I'll just go and buy a new one (but that seems a bit silly as they are in them for such a short time). The vide-grenier was in a village called Contamine-sur-Arve and boy was it pretty. I've drive through it on the main road loads of times, but higher up the mountain and back in amongst the woods were the prettiest rural hideaways you can imagine. I would have loved it years ago but I think as I get older I need to be closer to other people and the size of my house needs to decrease in inverse proportion to my age, rather than the other way around. Still, it was just lovely!



On Wednesday night I went to my first Italian lesson in over a year. and there were only two of us, so it was pretty much a private lesson. Heck, there are only four of us when we're all present so I wasn't worried about going back to "in person" classes. Then my lovely Dutchman came over today and we headed out to the Lac Bleu to go walking. Well that was where we intended to go but we were yacking so much I took a wrong turn and we ended up back at the lake at Thyez and walked along the river Arve into Cluses instead - which was fine in the end because I think that's really his favourite spot anyway. Stopping at Cluses we sat on a terrace and had a drink before heading back along the shaded side of the river, so all in all I got in nine miles today and about 18,000 steps total. As he was about to leave I asked him to take a picture of my feet. When he asked why I told him my yoga class starts back up again tomorrow and the first time she says "place your right hand on your left foot" I'm going to be lost because I reckon I haven't seen my feet in over a year. He just looked at me like I was mad!

And finally, since the rain has eased up my ongoing battle with the slugs devastating my "crops" seems to have abated somewhat. Thank God for that as I hate the buggers. In fact, it seems to be too hot for the snails too, so I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't like the heat. Still, if that's what it takes to get rid of the buggers I can live with it!



Sunday, 6 June 2021

Having a rethink!

As from this Wednesday France will be opening up a little more, with our curfew being pushed back from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., and all restrictions being scheduled to cease by end-June. Covid numbers are up slightly with the opening up a few weeks ago, but not dramatically so. There was one death in Haute Savoie in the past 24 hours and the R number is 0.83, so things are still going in the right direction thankfully. To be honest, unless that changes dramatically for the worse I don't see them being able to impose more lockdowns/restrictions because people's livelihoods are being destroyed - but that's just my opinion and what would I know! That being said, my Italian evening class has started back up (there are only four of us in the class anyway) and yoga will restart and my gym will open as from 9th June. Pilates also starts up again on Thursday but I've been thinking about it and I think I'm going to drop out. My life has been pretty "programmed" since I retired and what with starting to look after the Munchkin once a week I don't want to have a commitment every day and not have free time to plan hikes or meet up with friends. The pilates teacher was good and I felt great afterwards but I never actually enjoyed it so I think I'll give it a miss from now on. I mean, if I want more exercise I can go walking, down to the gym or take another yoga class, so decision made then! The only exercise I've been getting these past couple of weeks is my twice-daily slug-flinging and I can already feel the muscles in my right arm starting to develop! If they introduce slug-flinging as an Olympic event, you've got Team GB right here. We've had so much rain that the buggers are everywhere! They've ruined my courgette and chili pepper plants and are desperately trying to get at my lettuce plants - hence the daily arm exercises. I'm going to run round to my neighbour and beg some coffee grounds off her (I only drink capsule coffee but apparently slugs don't like the smell of coffee grounds), and I'm also going to save eggshells and crush those up to put around my plants to see if it helps as I don't want to use chemicals. I pulled up a lettuce to have with our dinner tonight and you have to be very careful how you clean them. I left all the outer leaves in the compost and then basically pressure sprayed what was left. Can't have too much protein in your diet can you!

I also want more free time available because, as I mentioned some time ago, this year I joined Pays Rochois en Transition, which is a local group dedicated to zero waste, recycling, community gardens, etc. They also run a Repair Café twice a month and have just set up a seed exchange for anyone interested in gardening. I'm thinking I would like to get involved with them, but don't know how much time I will be able to offer. They do a lot more than that, of course, but this is what interests me the most and you can't be everywhere can you. Heck if I could be everywhere I'd get around to cleaning my windows as they are embarrassing they're so dirty. Another disadvantage of the sunshine - you can see all the muck! I also learned from the local Magazine de Saint Sixt that a project is underway to build what I hope is a small kinda grocery store/café behind the Mairie, which pleases me no end because goodness knows we need something to replace Stan's café!

André went into Geneva Friday afternoon to go swimming in the lake with some friends, then they had band practice and he called me to say that Max had invited him to stay over (curfew, you see). I said it must feel weird to be 33 and letting your mom know you'd been invited for a sleepover so he asked if he could have 10 euros "to buy some sweeties"! Then today Max suggested they drive up to Chamonix for lunch and André said it was glorious. I'm glad to see he's finally getting to have a social life again after all this time (I guess there's still hope for me then)! I've talked about Max before. He's a friend of both my kids (and is also Jordan's boss) and André was telling me that he's in the process of putting in a €20,000 stair lift for his girlfriend, Elise, since she is wheelchair-bound following a car accident with a wild boar a few years ago (which brings home to me how lightly I escaped after my own encounter with a wild boar that time)! When I asked how they met André told me that Max had been out to dinner with his parents when he spotted Elise having dinner with her friends and chatted with her briefly. He was apparently so smitten with her that he raced back into the restaurant and asked if they would give him the contact phone number for the person that had made their reservation - which, of course, they wouldn't! So knowing roughly the area she had said she lived, he went door to door asking if anyone knew a beautiful young girl in a wheelchair. Someone did, and the rest, as they say, is history! Damn, I didn't know Max was such a romantic! I've always liked him but heaven knows there were times I would have liked to strangle him too, not least of all about 15 years ago when he must have been out partying on New Year's Eve, had too much to drink, and called me around four in the morning asking me to pick him up - but he didn't know where he was! Luckily for him I hadn't had a single drink that evening (I don't like NYE and I was on my own anyway), so I set off looking for him in town at 4 a.m. and brought him back here to sleep it off! Who would have thought that little divil would turn into the rather nice young man he is now!

Yesterday we were invited over to Jordan and Jen's to belatedly celebrate Jordan's birthday and give him the symbols for his drum set (he was dead pleased). Babe was a bit cranky as he'd had his first vaccinations so I got to hold him and walk with him and tell him silly stories - and then he was all smiles afterwards, probably wondering what all that gobblydigook was about. André was imploring him to say tonton (uncle) and he just smiled so André asked me what I thought his first words would be. I told him my feelings are "would ya get your ugly mush out of my face for once" because, seriously, every time he opens his eyes he's got André's mush right there two inches from his face. I tittered, but André didn't think that was funny for some reason!

But tonight André was obviously finding something funny because I'm sitting downstairs and I can hear him roaring laughing up in his bedroom. So I asked him what he was watching and he said Impractical Jokers. In this sketch they have one of the guys pretending to be in space and giving a talk to a bunch of young school kids about what it's like to be in space (the teacher's in on it, of course). The "non-astronauts" are feeding lines to the "astronaut" about what he should do and say. Have to say I had a bit of a giggle too!

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Been offline for a while!

I hadn't planned it but the other day I was feeling pretty bleh and decided that I was spending way too much time online - so I decided to take a few days' break! I tend to be on the computer more than watching the television anyway and just for a while I wanted to not think about politics, wars, covid, how long you have to isolate if you go from place A to place B, and even FB and my favourite blogs. My apologies for not commenting but I see from some blogs that I'm not the only one feeling this way at the moment. I also saw that a couple of my favourite blogs have gone private so I just wanted to say I hope you're both ok and will check in with us occasionally to let us know how you're doing. In the meantime, enjoy your privacy!

I can't say things have been bad here, it's just this constant rain and cold-ish weather that's beginning to get even me down. Today, however, was hot and sunny but with the ever present threat of rain it was muggy too - which I guess reminds me of how much I dislike summer. That being said there was the prettiest rainbow tonight as I was shutting all the windows ahead of the latest thunderstorm to head our way!


I see from the local Geneva news that there will be major renovations carried out on the Mont Blanc bridge for the next three months. It's the main bridge across the lake and while they will keep a lane open it's going to be hell for anyone trying to get to work (so what's new, right?)! Add to that Biden and Putin will be meeting in Geneva on 16 June and I'm so, so glad I don't have to try to navigate all that! Which brings to mind a story from just before my husband and I got married. He was a marine stationed at the US Mission and George Bush Sr. was coming to town as the then Vice-President. My now-ex was at my house but as it was only a short distance to the Mission from my place it was an easy walk for him to get there to assume duty. Trouble was, while he made it there in plenty of time, the gates to the Mission had already been locked and he couldn't get in! So the idiot thought it would be a good idea to go round the back of the Mission, throw his briefcase over the railings and then try to climb over - with some very twitchy-fingered Swiss police up on the roof! Thankfully for him the marine on duty recognized him and got him inside the compound, but damn, he nearly made the news that day! Can you imagine the infamy of being the marine having his picture taken hanging over the compound railings!!!! Oh and busted too! The other funny story (well not so funny for the marine concerned) was that the Gunnery Sergeant (who was a really good guy), travelled from the airport in the van that was transporting the VP's luggage, and when it was time to offload he couldn't get out!!! I have no idea what happened but he was locked in the back of the van! I don't know if they broke the lock or what in the end but he eventually did get out and the rest of the visit was "uneventful", I believe! Just as well really, I suppose!

In other news it was Mother's Day here in France on Sunday so I had the kids over for lunch (not dinner as we're still under curfew). It was very nice and I made Jen a card from Charlie and cut some roses from the garden. The next day, 31st, was Jordan's 29th birthday (he was actually born on Mother's Day), so I also made him a card and got him a bottle of good wine, but we and a few friends have all chipped together to get him new symbols for his drum set (he's the drummer in their band and he beats the hell out of them, apparently). Jen's having us over for lunch on Saturday to celebrate his birthday so I'll get to see the little 'un again then! So you see there's no reason I should have been feeling down at all, but I guess this pandemic is wearing on everyone right! Oh, and I finally checked into getting vaccinated but as I suspected I am not eligible for it in France because I'm not covered by the French sécurité sociale (the French health service), so I will have to go into Switzerland, where I am covered with my private medical insurance. As far as I can tell it'll be the Moderna shot - although I'm not really sure - and I have a first appointment in July! Now it's on to getting the nose to the grindstone and off the sofa to get a few things done around here!





Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Finally!

Well it looks like spring is finally poking its nose round the corner after what must be one of the wettest months of May in recent history. Not only wet, but pretty darn cold for the time of year. Not that that bothers me too much, but it's quite something that I've only just turned the heating off today and it's 26 May!!! We've had tons of rain and I reckon that must have translated into snow at the higher altitudes (along with avalanche warnings). I mean just look at the picture I took out my bedroom window this morning. Yep, that's snow on them thar hills!

Still, as I say, it looks like we might be turning a corner here now. I heard a very loud cuckoo in the back garden this morning and had a lovely woodpecker chipping away at the plum tree this evening. So now that the good weather is on the way, André offered to take my car into town and wash it for me! Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way a slob. I wash it regularly, I actually vacuumed it last week and I never throw stuff on the floor! It's just that it would seem my rims have been bugging him for ages so he took it into town and did a pretty good job cleaning it up. What with that and the neighbour's daughter offering to do the inside for me it is positively gleaming! Anaëlle (the daughter) does a really meticulous job cleaning cars and since she wants to earn a little pocket money why not! I had to stifle a giggle though because André had cleaned his car (his pride and joy) first before taking my car into town, and when he got back a bird had left a massive "gift" on his windscreen! Man was he pissed! And then again tonight, more bird poop on the hood of his car - which was when I realized that he parks closest to the house and just under the eaves I have a bird's nest, so I guess he'll need to keep a rag and bucket handy for a while!

He went in to Geneva to stay at a friend's on Friday night and then Saturday had a birthday lunch with another friend. He hadn't planned to stay over but ended up calling me just before 9 p.m. to say he wouldn't make it home before curfew so was going to sleep over on Alexi's couch. When he got home the next day he looked rough, saying they'd stayed up half the night chatting and when he'd finally laid down to go to sleep Alexi's cat spent half the night playing with his toes like he was some kind of new toy, so he got no sleep. Not that he was too bothered though as he loves cats and wants to get at least one when he moves into his own place. He and Lily had two cats but, of course, he had to leave them behind when they divorced, so he's looking forward to getting one of his own!

My lovely Dutchman and I had planned to "play it by ear" (i.e. wait for the good weather) before we go out walking again, and I had asked if he would be up for trying to hike up to La Bourgeoise near Samoëns, or if he fancied catching the cable car up to the Plâteau de Beauregard near la Clusaz in order to do the three-four hour walk back down. Well I think we'd decided on la Clusaz and the cable car - and then the dreadful cable car accident happened in northern Italy, killing (I think) 14 people, with one young boy being the only survivor! I had a brief "flicker" of maybe giving the cable car a miss but I know, in reality, I would still take one tomorrow! Same as flying. I hate flying but if not flying means I can't travel to the places I want to visit, well then I'm just going to fly and deal with it - usually by imbibing the in-flight white wine and trying to sleep through it!

The cable car accident this week in Piedmont, northern Italy!

Off on a totally different tangent, a few months ago my neighbour mentioned the Yuka app to me, which is an app that you can use to scan the bar code on an item of food or beauty products, for instance, and it will tell you what's in it and give the item a "safety" rating. Well last week I finally cracked and went to the hairdresser's to get this mushroom cloud on the top of my head brought into submission. When I mentioned that I'd been finding my hair to be a bit oily lately she suggested a particular shampoo and it seems to be a good fit, for the moment. It's a really attractive looking shampoo, but just out of curiosity I scanned it with the Yuka app. Well, it may be pretty but it wouldn't appear to be highly rated due to its high phenoxyethanol content (you can look the "benefits" of that up on google if you're interested). So on a whim I scanned a few more items and the results were interesting, to say the least. Now I know you can't live in a sterile bubble (nor would you want to I suspect) because it would be fundamentally impossible and every time you did come into contact with something "unsuitable" you would probably have a violent reaction to it but, as I say, the results were interesting!

The Yuka app!

Yves Rocher face cream

Face cream from the local supermarket -
about the same price as the Yves Rocher cream,
neither of which are expensive

Brut deodorant


The shampoo I bought from the hairdresser!

Now that all shops are open again I went out the other day looking for a travel bed for when the Munchkin is here. In the end I bought a larger playpen which will serve as a bed for when I'm babysitting him in July. It's now set up in prime location near the stairs in the living room and my house is starting to look like a day care centre - not that I mind, of course. Heck we had Jordan's first drum set in that exact same location for goodness knows how many years, plus the high chair, plus the toy box, plus ....! Jen has a physio appointment tomorrow afternoon and asked me to go over to babysit Charlie for a few hours, so that will be nice (for me at least - I'm not sure he could care less at this point)!

And finally, I've taken a few more bags of clothes to the charity bin and started going through some very old issues of the BBC's Good Food Guide. I've been tearing out interesting recipes to try and throwing the rest of the magazine out, and the other day I found a recipe for aubergine, garlic and feta salad which was delicious (I was maybe a bit heavy-handed with the raw garlic but what the heck, it keeps the vampires away)! Then today I tried out fatoosh, which is a recipe I picked up from a Palestinian blogger and boy was it a big success with both of us. Mind you, all those fresh herbs and sumac (luckily I had some in the cupboard) are bound to be a recipe for success, right? So I've now been officially invited by André to come over and "cook in his new place any time I want"! Ah thanks babe, can't wait to take you up on that!

Fatoosh salad - it's delicious!


Sunday, 23 May 2021

Neighbours!

It's been a pretty meh week this week, with just one day of decent-ish weather and the rest being wet and cool, so a crappy May all in all! My lovely Dutchman came over on Thursday (the only decent day) and we drove out to the lake at Thyez and then walked on into Cluses - which he seems to really like for some reason. The restrictions on café terraces have just been lifted so we were able to sit outside and have a drink once we got there and it was so nice to see people outside having lunch and a chat after so many months of restrictions. I think we've got about another three weeks (not sure of the date) before we'll be allowed to eat indoors but hopefully by then the weather will be hot and no-one will want to eat indoors anyway. Goodness knows the cafés and restaurants could do with a break right? On the way back I realized that Cluses' market is an all-day market so we had a quick wander round there and again it was really nice. There's quite a large North African community in Cluses so there were lots of lovely spices, dates, olives, almonds and cakes on sale and the smell was just wonderful. Maybe not as strong as the souks in Istanbul or Marrakech, but lovely all the same! All that and I clocked up another 14 km, which is just as well because I haven't done much else this week!



I also got a message from my friend this week to say that she'd finally been granted French citizenship, and I'm delighted for her. She jumped on it as soon as the Brexit vote went down so she's at least a couple of years ahead of me. So while it takes ages, I guess the wheels of bureaucracy finally get there in the end don't they. I'm not really expecting anything for another two/three years anyway, but in two years time I will be 65 (yikes) and then having been in France over 25 years (nearer 35 at that point) and having a French grandchild I will be able to apply by ascendency so half this stuff I've been studying up on will no longer be necessary! It'll happen in the end, I suppose, and that time will go by whether or not I've started the process anyway, won't it!

I was feeling a bit lethargic this weekend so finally gave myself a metaphorical kick up the butt and started sorting a few clothes out to put in the charity bin. When I tried some of them on I can only think "what on earth was I thinking????" so I quickly bundled them up and dropped them off immediately before I changed my mind! So just another - oh I don't know - 10,000 hours of sorting and I'll be good then! 

André has worked from home all week this week as there are major roadworks going on in Geneva, so I think he's getting a bit restless. That being said, he showed me a Youtube video of some guy having facial and nasal hair waxed which was pretty funny - well at least, the friend sitting in the background seemed to think it was hilarious as he was doubled up! I don't know which country they were in but the scream that this guy lets out when they yank his nasal hair out is quite something - not that we'll have an awful lot of sympathy for him, eh ladies?

Eewww yuck!

As I said, we've had so much rain this past week I realized I'd have to do something about my little greenhouse as the sheer weight of the accumulated rain was making the top sag. I've managed to wedge a few cross-poles up to the roof to hopefully keep it at a slope and help the rain to drain off it before it tears it. Note to self, "when you go out in the morning to push the roof up with a broom and, hopefully, clear the rain water do it from the inside if you don't want to get a shower!" I've actually taken to leaving an old spoon up by my raised beds too in order to do a bit of "slug-flinging" as the buggers keep getting into my lettuce beds! Well that and having a dedicated bucket and trowel for shit-shovelling deposits left by neighbours' dogs!!!! I've mentioned before that my back garden is open so my lawn seems to be fair game for quite a few dogs to come and "relieve themselves", including a dog belonging to one family who would go absolutely ballistic if someone else's dog left them a gift on their lawn! Still, I guess you have to take the good with the bad and on balance I'd say the "good" far outweighs the bad as far as my neighbours are concerned!

The other day, just as I was on my way out, my immediate neighbour rang the doorbell and asked if she could come in for a coffee. She was wound up tighter than a coil so I put my plans to one side and sat with her for about half an hour. It was the usual, how much she hates her husband, if she had any money she'd leave him and how he treats her with utter contempt. Thing is, she won't (or probably can't) leave him at this point (she's nearly 70 and has no money) so it's a question of "putting up" I guess. That being said, I asked her to come out walking with me when the weather picks up as surely he is more than capable of making himself a sandwich right? We'll see how that works but if she's never said no to him in the past it will be difficult to start doing so now won't it. But there's an awful lot of truth to the saying that they treat you as bad as you allow yourself to be treated too isn't there!

After that the doorbell went again and I'm already starting to do my Mutley impersonation ("sazzafrazzarazza") because I tend to live upstairs - and it was another neighbour who wanted to know if I had any harissa (I did) as she'd made couscous for 10 and had forgotten the harissa!


Then a few minutes later, another doorbell! Thankfully I didn't yank the door open like an ungracious clod because it was another neighbour whose husband had been picking Lily of the Valley in the woods and she'd brought some round for me - shortly to be followed by yet another neighbour who'd been given some expensive tea by a salesman and she wanted to give it to me as she knows I'm a tea drinker! Add to that the fact that André stayed in Geneva last night at a friend's and then came crashing home around mid-day, took a shower and dashed back out to another friend's for a birthday lunch - it's been like Grand Central Station here! I shouldn't complain though because in all honesty I'll take the noise and the bustle over silence and solitude any day, I guess!

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Busy doing nothing!

Actually that's not true at all. I've been so busy this past week it's been great. I think I'm starting to see a pattern here. I get sudden bursts of energy when I get so much done and then a complete slump a few days later. Maybe it's the fact that I now actually allow myself to spend a day doing not much at all that's helping. I've kinda always been someone who felt I couldn't "take a day off" and envied those that could. Hell, my ex had no such problem! But now, well I guess I'm doing it to myself aren't I as I don't owe anyone anything! That being said, I made a cup of tea the other day and walked into the living room to hand one to André - who promptly told me he was busy "landing a 747" (on his phone of course) and he "bet most pilots weren't handed a cup of tea as they were landing"! Ha, and here's me thinking he was working! I have no idea why the thought popped into my head at that point - maybe it was the cup of tea business - but I remember a few years ago reading about a woman whose little boy had just been to see Santa at the store and as they were leaving he said "guess what mommy, I know what Santa's name is, it's Sid. Sid Claus!" When she asked how he knew that he said that some woman had popped her head round the back of the curtain behind Santa and said "Sid, there's a cup of tea here for you when you're ready"! Ha, ha, that still tickles me even now, all these years later!

I was watching a new episode of Our Yorkshire Farm the other night and was absolutely taken with it, as always. For those that don't know it, Amanda Owen is a shepherdess who lives on a remote farm in the Yorkshire dales with her husband, Clive, and their nine children. Now Amanda is a smart cookie and being not only a shepherdess, but an over-six-foot-tall photogenic blond she/they have made their way onto British television giving an insight into the tough life of farmers in the dales! And why not! Farming is a hard and risky business at the best of times and if they can make an income through other means good for them. That being said, they're a hard working and very down-to-earth family and the kids are adorable. Anyway, in this episode eight of the nine kids were roped in to act as "bait" (probably not the most appropriate word) for the North Yorkshire Mountain Rescue team. The kids had a 30 minute head start and were free to go anywhere they wanted on their 2,000 acre farm. The idea was for them to hide and avoid detection for at least two hours, thereby giving the rescue teams an opportunity to put their and their dogs' skills to the test. In the end only the oldest boy, Ruben, managed to evade capture but it was a great programme to watch as the kids - knowing the farm like the back of their hands - really put the rescue teams through their paces!

Amanda and Clive Owen and their family!

And talking of "knowing something like the back of your hand", when I was in junior school (so from ages 6-10) there were no black children in the school at all - which was surprising actually because this was inner-city Birmingham. Still, that was the case until Dale joined our class in our last year. One day our English teacher commented about the expression "to know something like the back of your hand" and what a silly expression that was. "I mean, who in this class could see a picture of the back of their hand and recognize it as their own"? At which point Dale put his hand up and said "I think I might, Sir" and we all cracked up! While it can't have been easy being the first and only (at the time) black kid in the school, Dale fit right in from day one, as you can imagine with a sense of humour like that!

The other day I went grocery shopping and stopped in at my favourite store, Fresh, and boy was it busy! People were lined up with their carts waiting to pay all the way to the back of the shop, but the two women on check-out were absolutely nailing it, running two cash registers each at the same time, having one customer unload their goods while they were ringing up the second person. They absolutely rocked. I did wonder why the place was so busy but then realized that Ascension is a public holiday in Switzerland and all those extra shoppers were coming over from Geneva. This was borne out when I went on to the next supermarket and the scene was the same there too. Still, I was in no hurry and if the stores can make good money because of it then I'm all for it!

On Facebook I follow a few sites relating to local news and the other day I saw a post to say that the outdoor swimming pool, les Marquisats, in Annecy would be closed for renovations until September 2023??? Now I'm sure there's a good reason for this but it seems strange to me that the pool has been closed over a year so far because of covid and now is the time they start renovations? Still, ours is not to reason why, I guess!

Les Marquisats pool!

Another thing I've been following on FB is that as we Brits are now no longer in the EU, if family or friends want to come over and stay with us we will have to apply for an attestation d'accueil for them at least 30 days before they travel. Basically what that means is that as now third-country-nationals (TCN - i.e. non-EU citizens), if a Brit wants to come to France and stay in a hotel, no problem - the hotel will do the paperwork. But, if a Brit wants to come over and stay with family or friends, the family (me in this case) has to provide a whole range of paperwork, basically guaranteeing to cover their expenses while they are over here, that I have a place to put them up and that I am here legally - and all this has to be approved by the Mairie at least 30 days in advance! There's been much too-ing and fro-ing about this with some saying that while the clause about TCNs does exist it isn't always applied. So by that logic when my ex comes over in September to see Charlie, André will have to do the necessary to get him an attestation. Oh, and it costs €30 a pop too! I guess this is the way other nationalities (or certain other nationalities) have always been treated but I'll be curious to see how it works in practice. I know when my in-laws came over years ago we never did this - or even when my ex's cousins came over, so who knows what's gonna happen. And of course if France starts applying this to the Brits, then logically the UK will start reciprocating. What a bloody cock up - just another one of the joys of Brexit!

I spent about five hours working in the garden the other day, digging up some more of my veggie patch and trying to get the plants I'd bought planted before they die (a speciality of mine). I also spent a very frustrating hour or so trying to put together my little plastic greenhouse with the God-awful instructions. You'd think "attach parts 1 and 2 to joints A and B" would be easy wouldn't you, but I took that thing apart three times before I figured it out on my own as the instructions were that bad! I also had the joys of trying to get the cover over the bloody thing while holding it together at the same time (André was in the office) and every so often a gust of wind would pick the damn thing up leaving me in danger of flying off inside it like some kind of French Mary bloody Poppins. Still, it's up now and so far so good! I've also passed the 500 mile mark in my walking and while it could definitely be better, signing up for the "Walk 1,000 Miles" challenge again really has pushed me to do more than I otherwise would!

And finally, Charlie is coming along in leaps and bounds now he's more settled. André spent the night at Jordan and Jen's last night as they wanted to play some guitar and Jen sent me a video of Charlie lying on his play mat in between his dad and his uncle playing guitar and him cooing away and (seemingly) thoroughly enjoying himself. Aaahhhh!!

Charlie at seven weeks! Be still my
beating heart!







Monday, 10 May 2021

This and that!

We've had bloody awful weather this past week. Solid rain every day - that is, until the weekend, which turned out nice and sunny thankfully. Now here we're back to Monday morning and it's forecast rain all week again. A typical May I guess. Usually rain doesn't bother me too much because I'm so used to it of course, but I feel sorry for people like my neighbour as it really brings her mood down and she finds it so hard to tolerate!

I went out last week though and bought a few more veggie plants (oh how I love wandering round the big garden centres) and got the last plastic greenhouse-thingy in stock. Well, it's more of a shelter for the tomato plants really, but now I'm wondering if it will stand up to the winds we sometimes get round here. I always plant my tomatoes up against the living room window - where they do well as it's a sheltered, sunny spot up against a white wall. Trouble is, I keep running out of space, so hence I wanted the greenhouse. I took out my little rototiller and gouged out a spot at the top of the garden right next to my raised beds, so we'll see how my various veggies make out up there. I have no doubt they will thrive as it's a really sunny spot, but given the howling wind we had last night I'm a bit worried that I might wake up one morning and find my veggies scattered across the farmer's field being eaten by the donkeys. Time will tell I guess!

In other news I think my kettle is on the blink as now when I turn it on we get loud whistling sounds like some opera singer warming up. Since André has the same whacky sense of humour as I do I mentioned the Florence Foster Jenkins film to him as my kettle sounds just like Meryl the Diva in that movie. So André pulled up the trailer for the film on his phone - and I swear if I hear that bloody thing one more time I think I'll brain him! It is funny, of course, but he keeps playing it over and over to the point that I want to punch him in the throat. Luckily he went in to work twice last week so I did get some respite. On the way home on Wednesday, as he was driving through Geneva he sent Lily's grandma a message to ask if she wanted company - which she did, and I'm so glad he still makes the effort to see her as she's a lovely lady! Her grandkids always called her Abuela, even though she's not Spanish, and when André and Lily divorced she told him that he was still family to her and to keep in touch - and he has! Good on him! Later - and I don't know how we got on the subject  - but he was telling me about a recurring nightmare he has about him being chased round the airport by a dinosaur???? Anyone wanna take a shot at that one?

On Friday I stopped over to see the Munchkin and Jen left him with his dad and me for about three hours while she went out shopping. He is doing so much better, putting on weight and is much more relaxed now that his feeding is getting sorted. He's also just starting to react and smile (a little), so I spent a good 15 minutes telling him the story of how Mr. Donkey and Mr. Horsey in the field behind me decided to have a race, and since Mr. Horsey let Mr. Donkey win, they are now big friends and can't wait to meet Charlie next time he comes over! Rubbish I know but my dad was always babbling away like that to the grands. Jordan just rolled his eyes but Charlie smiled - or it might have been gas, but I'll take it as a smile! Jordan was telling me that they have so much work lined up he'll never be unemployed. So much so that they are looking to take on another qualified plumber and an apprentice but they can't find anyone??? Wow, I would have thought they'd have their pick, what with the crappy economic situation right now. There are three qualified plumbers (Max and his brother - the owners of the company - and Jordan) and one older man in his 40s who is retraining, having worked in the food industry for many years. He was also telling me that they have another big contract in Chamonix (where the Mont Blanc is) and for six months of the year, when access to the mountain refuges is on foot only, they will get taken up there by helicopter! Not bad huh - well it beats sitting on the number 25 bus for 90 minutes every day doesn't it!

Chamonix and the Mont Blanc

We had sad news from work this week when we were informed that a colleague had died (of cancer, I believe) at the age of 58. Many moons ago P had lived opposite me for about a year so my kids knew him. Well, more so André than Jordan, as Jordan was just a toddler. About 25 years ago he was lucky enough to win around $1.5 million (or the equivalent in Swiss francs), and yet within a few years it was all gone and he had nothing to show for it. All of a sudden he had "friends" crawling out of the woodwork who wanted to open a bar and so on, and so yep, just a few years later it was all gone and he had nothing. He didn't even own his own home and was living in a rented apartment when he died. He may have been a fool to lose all that money but he wasn't a nasty guy - in fact, he was pretty kind and decent - if gullible, I suppose. Poor guy, worked all those years and never got to enjoy retirement! It's sobering isn't it!

Then the other day my neighbour came round and asked me if I would keep an eye on their place as they were having to dash off to the west coast of France as Mamie (his mom) is going downhill fast. Well she's 102 so I suppose it was to be expected, but I have to say I was a bit surprised at his reaction. When he got the phone call his eyes filled with tears - and yet he never called her, if she would call him he, himself, told me he would put the phone down and walk off leaving her chattering away to herself, and as far as I could see there was no love lost on his part. For her, on the other hand, he was the Boy King who could do no wrong - and yet it was her daughters who took care of her and did everything for her, not him. She even told me one time how lucky I was to have two boys. I found that quite insulting actually so just said I would have been equally lucky to have two girls as all children were a blessing. I'm not sure she appreciated that though! A couple of days after they left I felt sure I could hear something in their basement, and sure enough there was 10 cm of water down there (again). Our other neighbour came round with a heavy duty drill and was trying to create an evacuation spot to allow the water to escape (presumably with their go ahead), and from what I can see it's ok for the time being - but it's still raining of course! Damn I'm glad my basement has been spared (so far)! 

The other day I got a very sweet message from a former colleague saying that she'd heard I had a new grandson and sending me her congratulations. She's in her early 40s and was saying she's desperate to get vaccinated as she can't wait to get out of here because she's "sick to death of mountains and lakes"! That made me laugh actually, but as she's half Spanish I get that she wants to head down to Spain - it was just a funny way to say it. I mean, who the heck can be "sick of mountains and lakes"? Not me, that's for sure. Talking of which, Marysette (from the sewing club) and I went off walking on Saturday at a new-to-me spot about 30 minutes down the road from here. I'd often seen the signpost for the Lac Bleu but never went down there, and boy was I missing something! It was hot and pretty uncrowded when we got there and somehow, over a period of about five hours, we managed to clock up 18 km! Oh we stopped and had a picnic, then stopped again for a coffee, but still, we put the km in (and I got a rather fetching sunburn on my right arm and a V-shape burn on my neck - again. Will I ever learn?

The Lac Bleu, although "green lake" seems
more fitting than "blue lake" to be honest!

Samoëns!