There's not a lot going on here at the moment. Well I am actually pretty busy at work but it's all routine stuff. There's not a lot of interesting stuff going on, is what I suppose I mean. I had another bloody awful few days' commute though. On Friday (12 October) I again took three hours to get to work. There was an accident on the motorway (turns out it was a four-car accident) which I saw ahead of time so decided to take the back road. Problem was, everyone and his dog decided to do the same thing so I ended up crawling to work yet again, getting in at 10 a.m. after leaving home at 7 a.m.!!! Aaargh! What is especially frustrating though is that although there were four cars involved in the accident, it was (seemingly) just a prang and no-one was hurt (thankfully) and so it was cleared pretty quickly. Had I stayed on the motorway I probably would have been in at least an hour earlier but who can know that in advance eh! Then on the following Monday and Tuesday central Geneva was blocked by a construction workers' strike, yet again causing me (and thousands of others this time) to be late for work. Double aaaarrggghhh!! Now I actually have some sympathy for them because the gist of what I can understand of their complaints is that when they get to 55 on a regular contract they then acquire the right (assuming certain conditions are met) to retire at 60, so what happens is that many, many construction companies effectively fire them at age 55 and take them back on as temporary staff, thus screwing them out of their guaranteed retirement rights. It isn't right or fair of course and I understand their frustration because goodness knows any long-time construction worker who makes it to 60 in that kind of hard, physical job, in my opinion, deserves to retire. That being said, this constant drip, drip, drip of commuting delays is doing my head in. Yet again, I am sooooo grateful to have put my notice in you wouldn't believe it, as I don't really see the traffic situation improving any time soon!
On another note, I got my latest electric bill plan for the upcoming year and it has gone down by €10 per month so that can't be bad given that EDF (the French electric company) have just put their prices up! Which got me to thinking, when my ex was still living with me, our electricity bill was €344 per month!!!! Yes, you read that right! About $400 or £300 per month!!!! I found out after he had gone that he had fixed the water heater to be on 24/7 and routinely left heaters running all day and night even when we were not home (and despite the fact that we have oil central heating)!!!! So my new bill works out at €80/month! Not bad really for this area and given the size of my house. Then there was the home telephone bill. €266/month ($300/£236/month)!!!! Yep great! I think I mentioned before that when I called the telephone company they explained to me that he had set up a contract for unlimited calls to the U.S. for €150/month plus €70/month to Canal+ (the French cable TV company) "just in case there were any good concerts on"!!! For Pete' sake, we could have afforded to fly all over the world to different concerts for that amount of money, and in any case he only called his parents about once every two months to the tune of about €30! I now have my house phone bill (plus Wifi) down to about €25/month so just by cutting those two bills down I was saving around €500/month! Of course, that's without his mobile phone bills, his car insurance (drink drivers pay horrendous insurance bills - that's if they can even get insurance afterwards). Yep, one time after we had separated our finances he had a mobile phone bill of €1,200/month and a home phone bill of about €800/month (in the same month). Add in the car insurance of €500/month as a "high risk" driver and I'm sure you can imagine how much I saved just by having him leave me!!!!
Actually, I called his mom last night as it was her birthday last week and I wanted to wish her a happy birthday. I was pretty fond of my in-laws and I occasionally call her just for a chat. Well we were on the phone for about 1 1/2 hours but I don't mind that at all (and in any case it doesn't cost €266 does it!). I never ask about him but I do get to hear how the rest of the family is doing, and occasionally to hear about him as she tells me some stuff - like the fact that he just bought himself a new, top of the range phone (so nothing's changed there then) and was pissed off when she didn't want his old one. She was then talking about her other son who is on invalidity and how she gets him to come up and help her with her garden (for which she pays him!!!!! - she is 83!!!!) but she has to be very careful what she says to him because "his eyes go black and he explodes into a fury"! So just like his brother then! The brother hasn't worked for years, lives with a woman who has had three kids by three different men and whose 25 year old daughter also lives with them and doesn't work either. In fact, they all live with her granddad (who is 94) and basically sponge off him, although what will happen to them when he pops off this mortal coil God only knows. So no-one works, no-one cooks, no-one cleans and the washing machine is broken and there's no replacement in sight because granddad won't buy a new one. What a lovely picture that paints. To be honest though, my ex is retired and why he can't go up and take care of his mother's lawn (they have a riding lawn mower) is beyond me, but then why would he treat her any better than he treated me. He never cut our lawn either - my neighbour always did it - and I did everything else!!!!! Uuuuurggghhh, I'm so glad I'm divorced. She was also telling me about a cousin of his who (seemingly) had a good marriage but then the husband took to drinking, lost his job and was rolling in at all hours of the night drunk, and (I'm guessing) aggressive since the cousin has now left and moved in with her mother!!! So I just said, "yeah, I know that feeling too, dreading the sound of that key in the lock". Now I don't really mean to pile it on but I think she deserves to know what kind of sons she produced. I have no idea how, actually, since my in-laws were decent, hard-working, church-going people and definitely did not raise their boys to be like that. Buuuuut, they all had those stinking tempers and I guess alcohol never did any of them any favours in that department as the sons are both evil drunks (even though mom didn't drink and dad only rarely)!
So eventually I got around to telling her about my decision to retire at Christmas, despite losing quite a bit of money by taking a lump sum to pay off my mortgage. So she asked "what mortgage - didn't P give you the house in the divorce?" HA! So that's what he's been telling them all Stateside then - what an evil, money-grabbing bitch I am I suppose. Oh man, oh man! Anyway, like I say, I was very fond of my in-laws and am happy to chat with her occasionally, but some of the stuff she comes out with never ceases to surprise me!
Other than that, the weather is glorious here, warm and not a spot of rain. We actually have a hosepipe ban in place - not that anybody would be watering their plants I guess, but no washing of cars and so on. Since I have come back from Sicily it has rained briefly one time and other than that I would say it hasn't rained for about three months! It's not good for the crops and our water levels are running really low, but for the moment I am enjoying this glorious Indian summer!
And finally, yesterday a friend and I went to town for the now-annual "Creative Hobbies Fair". We walked there and back, thereby getting in a good 90 minutes of walking, and yet again it was lovely, although I resisted the urge to spend on all the beautiful items they had for crafting, particularly since I haven't even started the embroidery projects I bought there last year!!! They had put the entrance price up to €7.50, which I thought was a bit expensive for a small, small-town fair, but luckily I had received two free tickets so I was well pleased. They had also increased the parking to €2.50 from €2 (although, like I said, we walked) and the drinks and refreshments prices were also pretty steep, but all in all it was a pleasant way to kill a few hours, and the quilt display at the entrance was, as always, pretty impressive. That'll be me some day!