The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday 28 June 2019

Gonna be offline for a few days!

With son number two's wedding celebration next Thursday and family arriving on Tuesday I guess I will be offline for a few days. I'm really looking forward to it but I wish this heat would go away. Apparently it hit 45°C (113°C) in France today and the French have been pulling out all the stops to try to make sure the very young and the very old are getting the help they need, since the last time we hit these kinds of temperatures 15,000 French people died. I've had three cold showers today already as it's unbearable!

It was just a little cooler on Sunday when we had our annual clean-up of the neighbourhood (followed by an hours-long pot luck, which was again very good). One of our neighbours is moving out in August so invited the new, young owners to come and meet everyone, with several former neighbours also stopping by! It was very good as usual but I imagine there were a few sore heads the next day (and a few emails sent around saying "has anybody seen my …." - you know the different pots and dishes that kept getting misplaced).

Jen came over today as she had asked me to translate her vows into English and then practice them with me. As Jordan says "she puts "h" in all over the place where they aren't needed" but it's cute and as long as she speaks slowly enough we will all understand her. She'll probably burst out crying anyway as she is emotional so it could be a feat to get through it.

Then the other day, "the mates" showed up at Jordan's work to take him out for his stag night. They had him all dressed up and made-up (in front of his boss, who took it in great sport), and then dragged him out to the village fète in their little village. Said they had a great time! After that a bit of bar hopping, a restaurant and a night club, so again a few sore heads the next day I guess but they had two designated drivers and André texted Jen at 4 a.m. to let her know that they were sleeping it off at a mate's house and all was good!

Jen said there had been a bit of friction about some of the last minute wedding arrangements and I pretty much nailed it that most of it was caused by my ex being his usual d****head self. He is insisting that "someone" pick them up from the airport and then run them around, and it looks like being my oldest, who has a lot of running around too himself with friends coming from Zurich and the photographer coming out from England and staying with them. I already have two trips to Geneva airport that day and I'll be buggered if I'm picking him up anyway. Why the hell doesn't he rent a car? It's never been a problem for him before! And then it occurred to me he just might not have a driving licence any more (that was a bit of a speciality of his over here)! He and the kids are going out to dinner on the Wednesday night but then "he will need to see his mates at Ghys Bar in town" - at which point the wives said "no way José". Jen doesn't drink anyway and with my ex it has never been a question of "just one drink" - it was usually an all night bender and none of the kids are interested in that. Plus it's a scuzzy bar anyway, why would you want to even go there? Oh and that's where he met the barroom skank he left me for in 2010 (not the latest gf), so I can understand that the kids have better things to do than that. But yet again, it is my selfish ex thinking everything revolves around him! Could be interesting (but I damn well hope it isn't)!

And finally, did anyone (in the UK I guess) see the Piers Morgan programme called Psychopath last night? Wow! Now I can't stand Morgan but this young man's "reading" on the psychopath scale is apparently off the barometer - and he looks it. Since I had an absolute psycho of a boss some years ago I actually became fascinated by them - they are so interesting (and scary), so I've read up a lot about them because they are just so unfathomable! This young lad, Paris Bennett, manipulated the baby sitter into leaving the house and then stabbed his four year old sister 18 times "in order to see his mom suffer". He was just 13 years old at the time and as a minor he will indeed be eligible for parole in a few years. His amazing mother has stood by him as far as she can, but since in the meantime she has had another child and pretty much expects him to come after her and her new son if and when he gets out, she knows for her own safety and that of her young son she will have to "disappear off the face of the earth" if and when parole is granted! Wow, she was an amazing lady who had suffered so much but has still tried to "be there" for her son as much as she can. But I have to admit I have never seen such cold, deadly, emotionless shark eyes in my life! Scary indeed!

Paris Bennett

Saturday 22 June 2019

I was nobbled!

The first week after I retired I was back in work using the gym when I bumped into an old HR colleague who had retired five years earlier. After chatting for a while she said "why don't you join us on the committee of the retirees' association - having been in HR you know the pension fund and sickness insurance plan inside out"! I told her I had only just retired and wanted to have some time to get used to that fact and see just how committed I would be to taking on any new responsibilites. Then, as I was walking down the corridor to get to the gym I bumped into another retired colleague who was coming from a meeting on the sickness insurance plan and she said "oh why don't you join us on the committe, we need fresh blood"! Same response. A couple of weeks later I get an email from P, the former head of HR who I worked with for years, asking the same thing! Again I gave the same answer. I'm not against getting involved in this kind of thing but I really felt I need some time to just "be" retired! Anyway, last week I attended my first annual general meeting of the retirees' association and it was actually pretty interesting. The number two boss of the whole organization gave us an update on what was going on within the organization, how it had become increasingly more politicized and the difficulties they were having trying to get trade disputes resolved amid some of the tactics being used by certain Members! He told us of a recent incident where the Ambassador of a Latin American country took the floor and several Ambassadors walked out on the pretext that they did not recognize this Ambassador as the legitimate representative of his country! Wow, firey stuff! (If you picture the UN, you'll get the idea, although it isn't a UN organization).

Anyway, the meeting was well chaired by my friend, with the exception of the fact that he kept forgetting to turn his mike on when speaking so the interpreters couldn't hear him!!! It was quite funny actually as everyone started laughing each time he went to speak and realized he hadn't turned the mike on again. The retirees reps on the various committees then gave a summary of the goings on in each committee and we were pretty much wrapped up after a couple of hours until a miserable sodding French Canadian decided that he was, yet again, thoroughly unhappy with life and everything in it (this was a permanent feature of Mr. Complainypants) and went on a pretty rude rant about how everything was badly done (why don't you get involved yourself then you miserable git?) and kept taking the floor to add to his litany of complaints! This was then followed up by a thoroughly miserable Chilean (we used to refer to him as "Happy H") who more or less did the same thing and tried to spring a major change on the representative to the pension committee at the last minute! No forewarning at all! Now we're not talking self-important members of the village hall committee here. We are talking about a pension fund with millions of Swiss francs in assets - said pension fund being now 20 years old after having been set up when we pulled out of the UN $-denominated pension fund in 1998.  So the sh*t hits the proverbial fan a couple of times before my friend managed to get it calmed down, but some people!!!! I guess we all know people like them. Nothing is ever right, they are permanently dissatisfied and permanently miserable, and if they can make everyone else's life miserable then so much the better! Didn't work this time though I have no doubt they will keep trying!

Oddly enough they both look a bit like this!
After the meeting closed most of us went out to lunch and it was really good to see everyone - and how well they looked. One lady had recruited me in 1980 and here she was at the lunch, 93 years old and looking great. Snow white hair, bright red lipstick and still a very attractive lady. S was there also - the lady I replaced when I moved to HR on her retirement in 1994. She is 84, has a kinda buzz cut hair do and looks wonderful. Now either retirement agrees with most of these people or the ones not doing so well couldn't be bothered to come to the meeting! But, I did get nobbled at the end of the meeting when P came over and again asked me to join the executive committee of the retirees' association and I caved!!!! For the most part we are former HR staff members because we knew the subjects dealt with inside out but I really had been hoping to hang fire for a bit - it was not to be apparently!

It was funny too because as I went back to the gym there was, yet again, another red carpet laid out for important visitors (not me obviously!). This time I saw the Prime Minister of Jamaica getting out of his official car and the King of Swaziland (now called Eswatini). When I asked a colleague why these visitors were here it turned out that it was the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the International Labour Organization, said organization having initially been housed in our building. So quite a few dignitaries had also stopped in to our (listed) lakeside building to see how it had been renovated. Eventually the ILO moved out and on to bigger premises so we had the great good fortune of being the only international organization actually located on Lake Geneva!

Again on the subject of joining the executive committee, I suppose I really should give something back and participate in some of these committees because we really do have very good benefits as both active and retired staff, in particular our medical insurance plan, which was negotiated by B, my former boss! In fact he drafted the rules and regulations of the new pension plan too (which meant I got to type them about a million times), as well as the Headquarters Agreement, whereby we left the UN common system and the Swiss handed the above building over to the organization for free!  So yep I do know quite a bit about the various agreements, not because I was particularly smart but because I typed the darn things over and over and over again!

Anyway, as I said our medical insurance is wonderful. It was cheaper than my ex-husband's (who worked for the UN) but with much better, worldwide coverage and an annual deductible of only 300 Swiss francs! It was bought home to me how good it is when I went to the dermatologist in Geneva last week. Medical settings in Geneva are so luxurious compared to France, but then they cost about four times the price. My lovely dermatologist (Dr. Twinkly Eyes) had broken his foot so I got a young female doctor, young enough to be my daughter (ouch) but she was very thorough and had her assistant laser something off my leg "just in case" since "your skin really doesn't like the sun does it!". You can say that again! Now Doctor Twinkly Eyes used to freeze anything off with his pot of "steam" (which made him look like something out of Harry Potter) but this time she lasered it - ouch! That hurt! Anyway, she then gave me a prescription for an antibiotic cream just in case, so I tootled over the road to the pharmacy and again I was amazed at how luxurious it all is. There were armchairs for people waiting to be served and then the pharmacist asked if I would like a coffee while I waited!!!! Again, I know all this has to be paid for but wow - talk about service!

Then yesterday I again drove in to Geneva to have lunch with friends. We do this about once a month and another group of former colleagues meet every Friday afternoon for coffee (although I don't go to that - it means hitting rush hour traffic to get back). Very nice it was too. But when I was walking back to my car I spotted a lady I used to occasionally see on the bus - the lady with identical baby triplet girls! Now this lady was amazing, the epitome of calm and seemed to sail through getting round Geneva with those babies like it was "no big deal". Well the triplets would seem to be about six by now (beautiful little kiddies too) and this lady had a newborn strapped to her chest in a baby carrier! Say what! This baby must have been one or two months old but really!!! She's braver than I am. If I had had triplets I don't think there was any way I would have had another one, but they certainly made a beautiful family!

Oh, and on the subject of nothing in particular - get this. I read somewhere recently that it is really easy to grow your own celery. The lady mentioned cutting the stalks off the celery and "replanting it". Now I wondered how those stalks were going to re-grow (I'm a bit dim sometimes) but then I realized that you replant the root and guess what, it works (but then why wouldn't it!). In just a couple of days my celery started growing through. Fascinating stuff (but then I'm easily fascinated)!

And finally, I saw on FB that the motorway near my house had been closed again because of a car going the wrong way! This was the second time in 10 days, and my first thought was "another hold-up in Geneva". And sure enough, thugs tend to come to Geneva from around the Lyon area of France (rich pickin's) and then hare back off over the border to get away, oftentimes going the wrong way down the motorway so that the police won't chase them. Now I'm not sure if that is what happened this time but I later learned that there had, indeed, been another hold-up at the petrol station right next to the border in Geneva so who knows. Thankfully nobody was hurt but really??? I hope if they do wreck (which they will eventually) they are the only people who get hurt/killed!

Sunday 16 June 2019

More this and that!...

Things have been relatively quiet here the last few days but the weather is still all over the place. A couple of days of nice weather and then "bam" - we get hammered. Last night we had a helluva storm and when I went outside this morning I see that it had ripped my rose trellis off the wall! Now that thing was solid but I suppose I'll  have to cut it all back and put another trellis back up. Then things in the back garden had been hurled all over the place. I did think twice about going out to our planned board game evening last night but by the time I left it had calmed right down again. Weird huh! Below is a video taken inside one of the parking lots in central Geneva. Crikey! It really was that bad!

Anyway, last night we had our latest board game evening, held at Valérie and Marc's house, which is high up the Môle mountain near here. They used to live in our little housing plan but decided that they wanted to be in a more isolated location to have more land and more solitude. Valérie's son, Hugo, was one of the kids killed in a horrific car crash that happened eight years ago involving four kids from our little village. Her home here held too many memories for her so they decided to move - much to our loss but I can understand of course. Hell, I still miss Hugo and his cheeky grin when I go out my front door and used to see him pottering around fixing some kind of engine or other!

So my neighbours, Philippe and Isabelle, gave me a lift up to Valérie and Marc's. Their kids (14 and 17) also still join in so as you can see it's a very inclusive get together including young and not so young. Valérie and Marc had both been married before but their 17 year old daughter, Chloé, showed up with her boyfriend to play with us so, again, it's lovely to have the youngsters playing with us. And Chloé's boyfriend, Léo, fit right in! Actually I don't think he knew what hit him but …. good for you buddy for joining in! We had tons of food, swapped recipes and then played a few silly games until about 1 a.m. when we all headed back home. Next time is in August at my place, so let's hope the weather picks up between now and then. In fact, I just ordered a game off Amazon called "Pass the Bomb" (I think it's time limited rather than terrorist inspired) so I'm hoping that gets here in time for the wedding so we can have a game to play between the anglophones.

Philippe reading out the clues!

Then on Thursday I had an appointment for the chimney sweep to come by at 10 a.m.  Here in France your home insurance is not valid if you don't have an up-to-date chimney sweep's certificate (if you have a chimney, obviously)! Anyway, for once in my (retired) life I got up and jumped straight in the shower at 8 a.m., only to get a knock on the door 20 minutes later - it was the chimney sweep! When I pointed out that he was almost two hours early and had almost caught me in my PJs he just laughed and said he had been up for hours! Crikey! That'll teach me not to slob around in future!

And finally, happy Father's Day to all those wonderful dads, past and present, who were there for their families. Pretty much anyone can father a child but it takes a real man to raise one. Gentlemen, I salute you!

My lovely dad!

Thursday 13 June 2019


Finally it has stopped raining and (I hope) the good weather is well and truly here. I don't mind rain at all but even I was thinking about calling Hertz to see if I could rent an ark, we got that much rain! Anyway, today was just glorious, not particularly hot - around 25 degrees C - so it was a real pleasure to be out and about without the galoshes!  So what's new? Let me see.

Oh yes, the other week I finally got around to buying a stand for a hammock I must have bought 10 years ago. On the rare occasion I used it I strung it up between the cherry tree and the plum tree but when the trees were laden with fruit it/I kept getting crapped on by greedy birds gorged with ripe fruit. It tell ya, it got so bad I had to admit I'm so glad cows can't fly! So I rolled up my hammock and put it away in the basement, never to be seen again! Well that is, until I bought a stand the other week. The stand was pretty easy to assemble and I thought I'd got the height of the hammock sorted - well that is until I sat on it and just ended up sitting on my bum on the floor on top of my brightly coloured hammock. I guess that says as much about my weight as it does about my knot-tying ability right! Still, I think I've got it sorted now, just in time to drag it out into the back garden with all the other sunbeds when my family arrive here for the wedding in a couple of weeks!

What else? Oh, get this, I mentioned before that I play Words With Friends on FB against a few friends and one or two people I don't know. It's a pleasant way to spend 10 minutes first thing in the morning. But I also play once a day against "botts", or computers. I quite like these games because they are instantaneous, just five moves each, and they are over in less than five minutes. Well yesterday I got my best score ever against a bott - 175 points!!!! It was for the word "breezed" but it had a couple of "triples" in there so I was well pleased! Oh, and the creepy guy in Texas who wanted me to give him my email so we could "get to know each other better" - never heard from him again, so I guess we know what that was all about don't we!

Moving on, I was saddened to learn today that the NYT (I think it's them), is no longer going to have political cartoonists on staff. Finished, because of a political cartoon (which I admit I haven't seen) about Netanyahu which wasn't even produced by their cartoonists! Wow! I guess I'm not totally surprised that events are moving in this direction but it really will be a sad day when political cartoonists can no longer weave their magic won't it!

And finally, I mentioned previously that I had sent birthday wishes to my former BF on 28 May. He called me shortly thereafter and said let's have lunch when he could fit it around his schedule. He's a surgeon and I'm retired so I guess we go with his flow, right! Anyway, we agreed to meet up near his surgery and ended up having lunch in the inner courtyard of Geneva's natural history museum (I love natural history). The food was excellent and even though we go back 40 years he and I still hit it off like a house on fire. He was good company and although I'm fatter and he's balder you wouldn't think it had been 35 years since we dated! When he realized my family were coming out for the wedding he asked if we could all get together for a drink as he really liked my family (and they him)! Although we didn't end up together isn't it nice that we have remained friends to this day!

The natural history museum
Two "relics" having lunch in amongst the relics!

The Russian Orthodox Church next door!

Sunday 9 June 2019

A productive day - and a misogynistic troll!

The weather is just unbelievable here. We get a few days of sunshine and then it's back to piddling down rain. I can't really say we have even had a spring, it's so weird. Buuuuttt the weather was glorious yesterday when our local town of La Roche held its annual (or is that semi-annual?) vide grenier! I routinely refer to a "vide grenier" - "attic emptier" in English - but for those that don't understand, they are not car boot sales as such, nor are they garage sales. They don't really have either here. Vide greniers are organized by the local village, commune or town where people can indeed set up stalls/tables and try to sell their unwanted items. You have to reserve and pay for your spot and all the stalls are centrally located. There is always food and drink available, sometimes a bouncy castle and sometimes even music! It's a very sociable event and also a great way to pick up a few items cheaply. Anyhoo, La Roche had theirs yesterday and were lucky enough to have the most glorious weather! I'm on a bit of a roll with the decluttering so I wanted to take a trip down to the recycling centre first (one of my "foibles" is that I have to get the stuff out of my house now if possible so I don't change my mind), and so I arranged to meet my friend in town. We had a merguez sandwich (a spicy North African sausage) as we wandered round but nothing seemed to catch our eye - or maybe we've just wise up to the fact that we don't always have to buy things - so we decided to go sit on the terrace of a lovely local restaurant and have a drink. The place was heaving so we had to wait ages, but we didn't mind actually as we were sat in the shade trying to decipher the latest missive from the UK Government on the "driving licence position" after Brexit! Great fun. We had quite a giggle because this shit makes the US constitution look like kindergarten reading! My friend's problem is that she never swapped her British driving licence for a French one when she moved into France (I did) because she didn't have to. Now she has sent off her licence to the French to get it swapped and they are either sending them back saying "not necessary" (as yet) or, as in her case, have just hung on to it. From what we can decipher, it may well come to the point that she will have to retake her test (including the highway code) at the age of 62!!!! What a bloody mess! I'm so glad I went ahead and swapped mine. It was like trying to read a Harry Potter novel in one sitting so we were really glad when the drinks came, I can tell ya!

The church in La Roche. My husband used to hang out in the skuzzie bar opposite! "Fond" memories!
A local drum band formed the only entertainment, as far as I could tell. Very loud, very inclusive (all ages) and actually great. They made you picture Rob Roy and the "marauding" clans swarming over the mountain top (or that could have been the wine)! But seriously they added a great (and unusual) atmosphere!

When I got back I ended up spending an hour tidying up my front garden - which is a joke actually because it is about the size of a postage stamp, but at least I trimmed back the wisteria and the rose bushes as (a) I don't want the wisteria growing up into the eaves and (b) trimming back the roses allows me to open and close my shutters more easily!

I stayed up late again (!!) because I saw that "Mrs. Brown, Da Movie" was on so I thought I would watch that. It's daft really because I bought it when it came out and I wasn't overly impressed (even though I love Mrs. Brown's Boys) but last night I either just "got it", or my taste has changed. Either way it tickled me this time!

On to today (and most likely the rest of the week), and the weather has been crap! I wasn't too bothered about it though as I decided today would be the day to "get things done" - and I actually did! Now I've had my hair cut I decided to colour it - I don't have any grey (thank you dad - he never went grey) but I get a bit bored with the colour so occasionally decide to colour it to "jizz" things up a bit. Now this I can do, though that being said, many moons ago, when I was living in the States, I picked up the wrong colour dye and came out with jet black hair. I have pale skin and that hair colour would have put Morticia Addams to shame, so I have finally learned to be really careful to pick up the right box!

With that needing 20 minutes to fix I set to and started working on my middle bedroom (the junk room) and got quite a bit done in 20 minutes, sorting sewing fabric and putting it into proper storage boxes (as opposed to in bags on the floor). After that it was a pedicure (ahhh bliss!) and I decided I was adamant that two bags of decluttering were also going to leave the house that afternoon. I managed to pick out five or six (can't remember) handbags, so that filled one trash bag, and then set to working on my sweaters (I mean, how many does one person need?) and fairly easily filled a second bag! Too much stuff!!!! So I hopped in the car right away and off I went to get it out the house immediately. It really is true what they say, you feel instantly "lighter" when something - anything - goes out that door (actually my divorce had the same effect)! So just another million bags to go then!

Then, since I was on a roll, I decided to use up the odds and ends in the fridge to make lunch (and dinner as it turns out), so I put the Gypsy Kings on at full blast and worked my way through the "leftovers" compartment of my fridge, deciding to throw it all into a quiche. Lovely!

I finalized the translation of the order of service for the wedding yesterday and sent that to Jen (it sounds less "translated" now), and because I must have been on speed or something, I decided I really had to sit down and get Jordan's US taxes done. So I pulled out his US tax paperwork and got started. Now he earns a pittance and in any case is entitled to over $100,000 "foreign earned income exclusion", but you still  have to do the paperwork to prove that he is fiscally resident here. Anyway, the forms have changed and even though much of it doesn't apply to him I took my time and waded through it nicely on the pdf form (bearing in mind that he left one job, was unemployed for a month, did one day's temporary work in a factory and then got another job - oh and filed French taxes) - and the first time I went to save it the bloody thing crashed. Damn, blast and sod it! So with much gnashing of teeth I did it all again, saved it and when I went to print it I was "told" that to use the fill-in pdf form I had to pay! Of course they offered a 30-day free trial but even with that they wanted my credit card number. NOOOOOO WAY JOSE!!! So I ended up going onto the IRS site proper (lesson learned) and did it yet again. Even then, when I went to print the various forms (1040, 2555-EZ and Schedule 6) many of the boxes that I had filled in didn't print. Some did - like his name and address - but not his social security number, so while it is correct online it didn't print properly! I had to go back through and hand fill-in the missing info! I seriously hopes he appreciates all my effort. Yeah, all that sodding effort for a filing where he owes diddly squat!

[And by the way, I'm having problems with the space bar on my computer so if you see words that looklikethisitsnotmespeakingGermanitsthebloodyspacebar!]

And speaking of misogynistic trolls (I was at one time wasn't I?) I have spotted comments on a few ladies' blogs by an absolute dickhead of a troll, with a link to his bile-spewing blog (I had a look)! He obviously hates women - ok; he particularly hates white women - again ok; and he seemingly hates white American women more than anything else in the world! Wow! Just wow! I mean, they can be writing a post about kittens and he spews his bile! You see, all women over the age of 25 should just shrivel up and die because they are no longer beautiful and they offend his sensibilities. And did you know the ideal biological age for a woman to reproduce is between 18 and 23! Now having reproduced at, say, 23, I wonder who this dickhead thinks is going to raise these poor little orphans - their nubile mothers having had to shrivel up and die once they hit 25!!!! He rants about white women with black men, with Arabs - you name it, his loathing of women, and white women in particular is quite spectacular. One British lady whose blog he infested just wrote "oh dear, he must be"! But I've seen  him on more than one blog (not mine as yet but he won't get through anyway). Now either this troll is a joker just trying to drive traffic to his vile blog, or he is deadly serious - and that's kinda scary in a "who's gonna be the next mass shooter" kinda way! I hope I'm wrong. For me I just picture a sad virgin with short, fat hairy legs, a bald pate and bad breath sitting behind his computer in his underpants in mommy's basement waging war on all those evil white bitches! So ladies, be warned!

Friday 7 June 2019

Made it!

After four days of pretty crappy sleep I think things are starting to settle down a little. This kind of thing happens every so often - terrible sleep and nightmares - lasts about four days and then things go back to normal. I've no idea why but I know there seems to be a cycle, and I'm trying to break it with yoga and better habits. One of the "habits" I'm starting to get away from is blog reading in the morning. When I get up I have my breakfast and read the news online. But if I start blog reading I can be online for hours and end up pretty much wasting the whole day, so I'm trying (and so far succeeding) to keep my blog reading for the evenings. Anyway, this morning I was up and out and off to another market in a town called Bonneville and I think I just might make this my local market - well for a time at least.

I wouldn't want to live in Bonneville as the traffic is horrendous. Whichever way you come at it it is just two-lane, nose to tail traffic. I know people at work who live in Bonneville and you struggle to make it to the motorway exit and end up with just a couple of kilometres to go - and it can end up taking you another 45 minutes! So nope, there's no way I would want to live there. Buut, I have to say it was a great little market, probably just a little bigger than my town's, with little bars and cafés all around. So I had a shufty, bought a couple of things and then decided to enjoy the sunshine and sit and have a drink before heading back.

On the way back to my car I stopped to admire what looked like allotments but were most likely private gardens. Very, very long and pretty wide and full to the brim with beautiful flowers and veg. These were older homes and today you would never get a garden like that round here, so those people are very lucky - but they are certainly making the most of them! I follow a site on FB called Un Jardin au Paradis - which is a local small-holding pretty much built from scratch and given over to sustainable and organic farming. They are offering one-day courses on 14 and 16 June so I think I might go on one - not that I have that much land anyway - but it is a subject that really interests me. A friend went on one of their courses and loved it. Which makes me think I must go up and visit her. She has quite a bit of land (she used to keep donkeys) and I am keen to see if she has put any of their ideas into practice. A propos of nothing, she is also a vegan, yoga teacher, having completely turned her life around from being a pretty hard drinking, pot grower! She's still great fun either way!

On my way home I stopped off for a hair appointment. I had taken the scissors to my hair a couple of weeks ago when it got on my nerves. I routinely do this, but eventually have to go and get Christelle to clean up my messes! I mean, fancy hacking at your own hair three weeks before your son's wedding! Must be nuts right! Anyway, while she was peering in disgust at the bird's nest that passed as my hair she asked what I had studied at university. When I said "languages" she just said "right, well leave your bloody hair alone"! I've known her for years so I wasn't the least bit insulted - and she was right anyway!

When I got home the wind started to pick up. I guess we might be getting the tail end of the dreadful storm that has hit the west coast of France. Just my bloody luck as my roses and peonies are finally started to bloom. There probably won't be a head left on them by tomorrow morning!

I had a quick snack of one of my newly-minted organic peaches smothered in Greek yoghurt and honey which was to die for! Seriously, if I ever got the death sentence, say, for murdering someone in Texas or dropping litter in Switzerland, I swear that would have to be my last meal! Then I settled down in my back garden to translate the order of ceremony for the wedding into English. I kept putting this off but realized I had to set to at some point. It took me about two hours and tomorrow I want to spend another hour on it de-franglicizing it with fresh eyes, just in case. Other than that I'm on track, but there is stuff in there that Jen asked me to keep secret from Jordan as she has some hush-hushh stuff going on! My lips are sealed!

And finally, we were informed through the retirees' association yesterday of the recent death of a colleague. Sylvain was only 62 and it hit pretty near to home I can tell you! I know "of" him as I would have input his file into the computer when I worked in HR. I also knew him personally, although not well at all. I have no idea how he died but 62???? Seriously! And I'll say it again, I'm so glad I made the decision to retire when I did. Just have to step up the work on the healthy lifestyle now!

Thursday 6 June 2019

Well that didn't work!

I think I mentioned a couple of days ago that I wanted to start going to bed earlier (than 1-2 a.m.) in order to get up earlier, so last night I duly forced myself to go to bed at 11 p.m. with the idea of reading for a little while and switching the lights off. At 1 a.m. I got back up again as I couldn't bloody sleep! I figured it wouldn't be easy for a few days but I could feel that there was no way sleep was coming any time soon. My doctor had given me tablets before my Sri Lanka trip to help me relax/sleep on the plane so I decided to take one of those, although I doubt I take even 3-4 a year! Anyway, I had a fairly decent night's sleep and was raring to go when I woke up - at 10.50 a.m.!!!! Bloody hell! So much for getting an early start! But I have also decided that I want to try to do some form of exercise every day if I can (but not during the mid-day sun) so I duly set to and did a few yoga exercises our wonderful young teacher had taught us. And you know what? Even just doing 20 or so minutes was so worth it as I felt so good afterwards!

Anyway, "getting up with the larks" (not) meant that I missed our local town's Thursday market! Damn and dratt, but I guess I'll go to another one in Bonneville tomorrow. By the time I did trot into town I was in time to stop in at the notary's to pick up the attestation they had prepared for me. It took a month and cost me €50 but they had done a search of the local property registers and were able to give me an attestation to the effect that I actually own my own home. So that's one thing crossed of my list towards my French naturalisation request. I think my birth certificate and mom and dad's marriage certificate etc. should also be here by next week (in French), so that's another check mark. My next project is to fill out a form called "cerfa" but crikey it's detailed. I have to give all the details of my brothers and sisters and all my previous addresses! The "addresses" bit took some thinking about as I have moved about a bit but I think I've got them all down. The Pittsburgh address was actually the most difficult to pin down as I no longer have our US tax returns (my ex took those) but with a bit of help from google maps I managed to find our little street!

After that I planned to go grocery shopping. Now just down from the supermarket is a sportswear shop (they're big around here obviously) and there used to be a kind of paper/diary/music/book shop which I thought was very nice but it went out of business. I had heard that a burger joint was going to replace it (yuck - I mean there's a McDonald's 30 minutes away, we don't need another one). Buuuut, it turns out it was replaced with a health food/vegan/vegetarian/bio (organic) shop so that's good news. I didn't need much in the way of groceries anyway so thought I would have a look round. Very nice it is too, but obviously it's pretty pricey. Organic food (they call it "bio" here) is more expensive than the non-organic stuff but I realised while I don't spend a fortune I am still buying/cooking too much for one person so I am still wasting food. I guess the "bright" idea then is to buy and cook less so while I don't think I'll do all my shopping there (our other store sells bio stuff also) I might give it a shot. I do wonder, though, if it will work out as there is another similar store about 500 metres away and yet another, much smaller, store right in the centre of town. I hope it works though. And I really hope going back to organic is something that will be feasible in the future. After all, it used to be the only way older generations ate didn't it - I mean, it was normal! I don't think it will be possible for everyone as producing food for the masses just isn't possible that way, but you can only do what's possible for you can't you!

Wednesday 5 June 2019

How to cause a revolution!

I almost fell off my seat when the Donald gave a speech the other day with Theresa May about how he was going to negotiate the "biggest trade deal ever between our two countries - but that also includes the NHS being on the table …". I'm paraphrasing here as my eyes were glued on Theresa May - whose own eyeballs almost popped out of her head! The British people had always been assured that the NHS (the National Health Service) was never going to be "up for grabs" so I think any party that tried to put that on the table would be kicked out of power before they had ever gotten their bums off their seats!

Thankfully the Donald did a complete reversal (surprise, surprise) in very short order as people were instantly up in arms! Bloody hell, with all due respect, the last thing we need in the UK is a US-style health system! That's not to say that some facets of it couldn't be incorporated into it and I believe many medications are indeed bought from the US, but to (eventually) switch to an insurance-style health system would, I feel, be catastrophic for the country and for any party who tried to introduce it! I know we already have a dual system which includes private medical insurance (for some) but free treatment at the point of delivery should be inscribed into our (unwritten) constitution! I have no idea what Steve's recent treatment (chemo and bone marrow transplant) cost, including almost five weeks in hospital. Then my brother was in hospital for one month before he died. My dad had two bypasses 20 years apart. And the list goes on. No bills! In fact, I think I was the only one in my family lucky enough to never have to go into hospital when I lived in the UK. While the NHS desperately needs a revamp, and support for our wonderful doctors and nurses, importing foreign management will never be the way to do it!

Still, the look on Theresa May's face (and others') was almost worth it!

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Time to get a grip!

Having done pretty much bugger all all day I realize I have to get a grip on this retirement thingy. I have always been a late bird but going to bed at 1 a.m. (or even 2 a.m.) most nights probably isn't the best way to go about it. It means I tend to get up around 8.30 a.m., so not horrendous but I think I really need to get into a better routine. All the more so since the good weather is on its way and I can't take the mid-day heat! I know, I know, here I am already whinging about the heat when they have had 500 tornadoes in one month in the US mid-west! But I really can't take the heat - hence I need to start getting up earlier. Otherwise, lately, I just seem to be wasting my days. Not that I minded looking at the scenery and with the peonies just starting to bud it was a pleasure but I don't want too many days like that, to be honest!

For once I don't even want to be on that plane!
What wasn't a waste though was my Tuesday afternoon yoga lesson. I love it. But, the young teacher is into yoga all the way and occasionally brings in a harmonium for anyone who wants 10 minutes of "mantra chanting" in Sanskrit at the end of the lesson. Maybe it'll grow on me but so far I can't say it's my thing. To make matters worse, you know how when you go to your kids' Christmas concert and the kid who is completely tone deaf is the one with the loudest voice. Well we've got one of them in our group. All I could hear was her off-key screeching and it made me just want to giggle. I didn't want to be rude so just closed my eyes and tried to keep myself in check - it wasn't easy though! But, like I say, this young teacher is excellent - and it turns out she isn't as young as she looks! I had her pegged at early 30s but when she realized I was English she told me she had been engaged to a Brummie (someone from Birmingham, England) about 20 years ago, so easily making her in her 40s. Well I'm a Brummie and with apologies to any other Brummies out there - seriously we have the worst accents you can imagine. If you have ever watched Peeky Blinders you'll get it! She said there was no way she could understand his mother and had to try to just wing it. I laughed when I described the look of absolute horror on my Algerian boyfriend's face when he met my family. His English wasn't very good anyway, and while my family really took to him - he just couldn't understand them!

And talking of Karim, as I was marking off the day on my wall calendar on 28 May I realized it was his birthday. We had got back in touch again when I found out he did an emergency operation one Easter Sunday on a friend's son and her husband recognized him from way back when. Anyway, I sent him a "happy birthday" message and he called me back about 10 minutes later and we are going to get together for lunch sometime soon - and he said he will show me around his surgery. Did well for himself, I guess, but then I always knew he would!

Then on Wednesday I met up with my friend for a drink after I had used the gym. He was in a bit of a "pissy" mood because he had started smoking again and felt rough. So he told me he was going to have just "one more" then give the packet to me to dispose of. Well I just threw them in my bag (although why I don't know because I have never smoked). Traffic on the way home was bloody awful for both of us. I got stuck near the airport at a complete standstill for about 40 minutes and it took me 90 minutes to get all the way home. Again! I tell ya, I don't miss that at all. In fact, one day last week someone posted a travel advisory to "watch out" at a particular spot just after the border because sheep had broken loose from their paddock and were on the motorway. It just keeps getting better doesn't it!

So when I was at a standstill (engine off) I texted C to say that I "felt like a ciggie" - just to annoy him really - so found the cigarette lighter, lit one up and sent him a photo of me "enjoying that ciggie". Yuck! Then of course because I had never smoked I didn't have the right "wrist flick" action to get the ash off that thing. Started panicking looking for the ashtray (which I have never used either) but finally figure out how to open it before I burned my car seats! I guess that'll teach me to play smart ass huh!

And finally, I see the Donald is bestowing his presence on the UK again (and his four adult kids - what's with that?) Not to worry, Queenie can handle him. But while I have never liked him, I have to admit Melania can pull it off in the fashion stakes! I know, lots of money and stylists help but she is definitely a credit to the (mainly US) designers whose gowns she wears! I could have all those advantages and still end up looking like something the dog threw up! Oh well, I guess we all have different vocations in life don't we!