The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday 30 August 2019

And then there was Steve!

Because I had to hang around the house yesterday morning I missed the Thursday morning market in La Roche. Since I prefer to get my fresh food from the market I decided to go to the Friday market in Bonneville, where I inevitably stop off in the main square for a tonic water before heading home. While I was sitting there my phone rang and I saw that it was from "Southport, UK". And I knew immediately what it was! Steve lives in Southport but this call didn't flash up as "Steve" - just "Southport". Turns out it was Steve's daughter, Josie, who had found my number on her dad's phone, knew we were friends, and called to tell me that Steve had died on Monday evening!

While I say "I knew immediately what was up" I mean that Steve and I usually chatted about once a week at the weekends but he had been letting things slip a little these past couple of months. I sent him a message about six weeks ago to ask what was up as he was very quiet and he told me that he had been back in hospital for four weeks with pneumonia, brought on by his compromised immune system. So we chatted a couple of times and then he went quiet yet again. A couple of times I messaged him and said I hoped he was OK, but, as I said to my sister last weekend, I didn't want to keep hassling the guy if he wasn't feeling well. Turns out he was having difficulty breathing again this weekend so Josie rushed him into hospital where, sadly, he died on Monday night.

So in one way I knew something was up but it was still a shock. I'm so glad she was thoughtful enough to let me know and she apologized for breaking it to me while I was out, but hey, is there ever an easy way to break this kind of news? I was still at the market so what with the noise in the background I couldn't catch everything she was saying, but I did grasp that it wasn't the cancer that killed him in the end, but rather breathing difficulties. I think she mentioned "thrombosis" also but, as I say, I was upset and couldn't keep asking her to repeat herself.

I know we've all got to go sometime but I just couldn't help feeling that Steve was a bon vivant and somebody who really would have enjoyed his retirement. He retired three years ago at age 62 because, as he said, he would have enough money to live on and he had had enough of marching to the beat of somebody else's drum. The first year he retired he travelled all over the world - I think he said he did 12 trips! That makes sense as we actually met on a trip to Machu Picchu six years ago. We hit it off and he came out to me twice (see my post on our magical New Year's eve here) and I spent a week in England with him last year, after meeting up with him in Rhodes a couple of years ago. We were just great friends! Maybe it would have been something more if I had lived in England but it wasn't to be. It didn't change much though because we could certainly yack for England and spent many an hour putting the world to rights and arguing about Brexit - he was pro and I'm against! Doesn't matter much now though does it!

The second year after his retirement he spent doing his house up so that it would be his "forever home" and he was quite happy to just pootle around the UK for that year. That was followed by my going out there in August, which was when he found out he had lymphoma - I went with him to the hospital in Liverpool and sat there all afternoon reading while he was having his tests. He kept the results to himself for a while though as his son was getting married shortly thereafter and he didn't want to put a damper on their day - although apparently they noticed that he wasn't his usual self and suspected something was up. And then year three of his retirement was spent dealing with chemo and a bone marrow transplant to fight lymphoma - and by all accounts it was a success! And yet … he was diagnosed last August and here he is gone just a year later! It just doesn't seem "fair" to me. I know, I know, nothing is fair in life and many people have it much worse, but I can't get over that he only got to enjoy his "freedom" for two years all told. All the more so since he was someone who loved life and lived it to the full. Maybe that kind are just destined to go early - I don't know. My lovely friend, J, was another bon vivant and while her mother lived to be 102 and lived on her own in her own home in central London until the end, J only made it a few years past retirement and didn't get to see 70!

So Steve, my old mate, I'm so sorry your brave fight against cancer wasn't enough. I shall miss our chats and miss looking forward to the time "when I'm well enough to travel again and we can get together". I believe in life after death so send us a sign mate won't you, and I'll know you're all right! Love ya my old buddy!

Tuesday 27 August 2019

This and that!

I had quite a productive day today, moving things along with the big clean-up/declutter. I'm trying to clean out one kitchen cupboard every day, do a bit of gardening and get at least a couple of things out the garage and at the moment I'm on a roll. The young neighbour I ended up giving my ex's fishing stuff to I saw actually loading up his small boat on Sunday heading off to the lake. When I first approached him he said he hadn't been out on the boat for ages so I guess maybe having all this brand new stuff spurred him into action!

This afternoon (I can rarely get my backside into gear in the mornings) I ran down to the tip to drop off some garden rubbish and a few other things when I got stuck behind a guy with a trailer right at the entrance. He was trying to reverse it towards the bins but his bloody trailer was all over the place. I sat there for about 10 minutes (literally) but because of his manoeuvering I couldn't get past to get into the recycling centre. It was quite embarrassing, actually, not only for him but also for me, as he was making such a pig's ear out of reversing this trailer. Eventually he went out the exit and came back in in order to let me pass so I went over to him and asked if he would like my help guiding him towards the bins! Eventually we got it there and he got out his car laughing, saying it was the first time he had driven this trailer, but I just said he was lucky he wasn't behind me trying to reverse that thing or we would still be there!

After that I dropped some more stuff off at the charity store and then went on to another large DIY place to have a look at their flooring. I asked if they had a service that could strip my flooring and reseal it and they gave me the same response as Max did - that it wouldn't look good at all! So I had a wander round and eventually asked for help from the young woman responsible for that section. I showed her pictures of my flooring and told her that I had already seen a couple of things that I might be interested in. I always tend to go for lots of colour so was immediately drawn to a mozaic-style tile that I think would look good in my kitchen, which has a colourful, marble-effect work surface but where all the cupboards are white (or at least they will be when I've finished scrubbing them)! I also picked out a pale tile which I think will  look good in the living room and entryway so the young woman told me to take the samples home with me to check how I feel about it at home. I'm thinking of going with it and when I take the samples back to her on Thursday she can arrange a date to come out and give me a quote. I've had work done by these people on several occasions and have been very happy with them, so depending on the quote I think I'll go with them and just get the darn thing done, rather than diddling around. I have money put away to buy a car in case I need to get one urgently (although not any time soon I hope), and enough money to do one of my bathrooms, so once the other bathroom is done (at which point I will definitely be broke) everything that really needs to be done will be done. The rest (I hope) will just be cosmetic and in need of elbow grease (mine). Well, I'm hoping that'll be the way it works out, of course! I know taste is very subjective, but this is what I'm leaning towards.

I'm thinking of this for the living room and entryway

For the kitchen floor (imagine all white cupboards - otherwise it's a bit "busy")!
In other news, my ex's relative that I mentioned the other day really does seem to have "flipped". He's still posting pretty offensive and/or insulting stuff on FB but the curious thing is he seems to be posting this stuff at about 3 or 4 a.m. Pennsylvania time. That seems to be his "witching hour". Unless someone steps in soon, or unless he goes too far and the authorities "step in", I don't see good things in his future any time soon!

Moving seamlessly on, on Saturday night we have our re-convened board game evening at my place, so I sent round a WhatsApp message asking who would be coming and explaining that while my place was a bit of a tip with all my furniture all over the place, it shouldn't interfere with our evening, if that was ok with everyone. Valérie offered to host at her place and then Jen piped up that they would like to host at their new apartment so we seem to have plenty of venues to choose from. I did ask Jen if she had enough tables/chairs in their new place already and she wasn't sure so it might still end up at my place, which makes more sense at the moment, I think. Maybe they can host the next one! In any case, my oldest and his wife have also said they would like to come (it will be their first time) and since Friday is André's 32nd birthday it would be nice to have them all here. I guess we'll play it by ear as to the venue!

In other news I was pretty disgusted with the comments of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, making crude remarks about the French first lady at the G7. Something to the effect that President Macron should be jealous of him, what with him (Bolsonaro) having a beautiful, much younger wife and Macron's wife being older and ugly!! Say what! Now I'm no fan of Macron or his wife but since when did it become acceptable for public figures to behave so appallingly? I know that "thing" in the White House is no reference when it comes to how to behave, but I was gratified to see that at least Macron knows how to behave in public. His response to the insult to his wife: "He said very disrespectful things about my wife. I have great respect for the Brazilian people and can only hope they soon have a president who is up to the job. What can I say?" What's all the more galling is that Bolsonaro is 27 years older than his wife, while Macron's wife is 25 years older than him. Seems that men like this feel absolutely entitled to disparage women's looks - all the while sporting a big gut, balding pâte and bad teeth! Does anyone else see the irony here?

And finally, Northern Living Allowance (sorry, I don't know your name) posted a recipe for Nanaimo bars so I made them yesterday in order to use Max and his colleagues as guinea pigs! I have to admit they were very sweet - too sweet to my taste - but I'm not sure how I could cut down on that! Oh well, at least I tried a new recipe! Tomorrow I'm going in to work to use the gym and meet up with my friend afterwards for a drink. Gotta get back in the saddle at some point I suppose, and with the weather being slightly cooler now I can't think up a good enough excuse not to go - although it's not for want of trying!

Sunday 25 August 2019

DIY superstar!

I was talking to my neighbour yesterday telling him about my plans to parquet over my downstairs floor. He made what I thought was a valid point that my flooring is actually pretty nice so why didn't I just try cleaning it up! To be honest, the living room/dining room area isn't too bad but due to a dishwasher having leaked all over my kitchen floor some time ago the kitchen looks pretty naff. So this morning I tried scrubbing it with soda crystals, bicarb, bleach, soap - you name it - but nothing  made much difference. An indoor pressure spray hardly made a dent in it either so I think I'm pretty resigned to getting a new floor (eventually). To be honest, what I've seen for the kitchen is (I think) pretty nice anyway but it will involve more expense and more hassle, getting all the stuff downstairs moved out the way. Still, it won't be for quite some time, so with that in mind I looked up the DIY classes that they have on offer at Leroy Merlin (a big DIY place here) and guess what? They do fairly frequent "lay your own parquet flooring courses", so I've signed up for one in October!!! Now I'm not sure I will go ahead and do it myself but who knows. I've also signed up for a course on how to "relook" furniture in September, which could be pretty interesting as I have a few pieces of furniture I wouldn't mind giving a new lease of life to! We'll see how it goes I suppose, but I honestly don't think "Tim the Tool Man" has much to worry about just yet (loved that programme)!

And today, my friend and I decided to go out to our first vide-grenier in a while. She ended up buying a very old wicker sunbed - you know, the kind you can just imagine Hercule Poirot lying on - and we were lucky enough to be able to get it in my car (we don't always think these things through properly)! There was also a chap there with a large table full of second-hand tools for sale, so since I don't have a crowbar and have often thought I could use one I picked up one for €7 and a rather nice hammer for €5 which was just the right weight for me and which I will be able to use to re-set the flower borders in my back garden! As I was putting them in my bag the guy's friend walked over and asked if I was planning to go on a burglary spree! Tee hee, I hadn't thought of that! Cat Burglar Annie here we come!

Friday 23 August 2019

The hip bone's connected to the thigh bone ...

Max (Jordan's mate and former boss) called me the other night to ask if they could deliver my new heating system ready for them to install next week. No problem for me as I can be here pretty much any time, so he reckoned he would be at the house around 8.30 a.m. I tend to slob around in my jim-jams when I get up so I made the effort to get up early and showered and dressed in good time. Nine o'clock, still no sign - they eventually showed up at 9.30! So I asked him if he was working on UK time (his new girlfriend is Welsh) but he said no, it was just "le petit quart d'heure Savoyard" (the little Savoyard quarter of an hour). Basically, that means, you'll see me when you see me! It wasn't a problem anyway as I was pottering around but I remember thinking "you cheeky little bugger". Actually Max has always been a "cheeky little bugger" since I met him when he was 15. He was always the one with the twinkle in his eye and you just knew he was up to no good. He used to come over to my house where "the band" would practice in my basement. Oh my poor eardrums (and oh the poor neighbours). Then I would inevitably end up driving him 30 minutes home because he had no way of getting back or giving him train fare because he didn't have any money! One new year's day when he was about 17 he called my house fairly piddled at around 4 a.m. to say he was in La Roche (our local town) and he didn't know where to go. My kids had already come home and I don't know how he thought he was going to get home so I asked where he was and went down and picked him up. Thankfully I don't like new year's eve and hadn't had a drink but …. Sometimes I could have wrung his neck but you know what, I like the little sod!

Now of course, he isn't so little (nor is he a sod anymore). He's 31 (I think) and he and his brother have taken over their dad's very successful plumbing business. Well, when they showed up my new heating system was a helluva lot bigger than I expected. The water heater unit alone weighed 90 kg and the actual heat pump unit weighed 180 kg!!!! Between the two of them they got the water heater down into my basement but there was no way they could lug the rest down so Max drilled a huge hook into the ceiling of my garage and set up a winch system to get it down there. Very impressed!

The old heating system - 33 years old!

The new water heater
The furnace - which will sit on top of the water heater
I currently heat my house with fuel and my water by electricity. The new system will have both the heating and the water heater running on fuel. I wasn't too keen on having the water heated by fuel but Max said it will save money in the long run, I won't be heating as much water (I don't need 300 litres a day just for myself) and that if it runs down the system will automatically start heating more water. My son had his doubts too but Max just said "you know what your trouble is, the B family (that would be us) are just so damn intent on keeping useless stuff" - to which I replied that that wasn't fair as he knew damn well I had divorced my husband 10 years ago! He just laughed as he knew my ex well (though not always with fond memories)!

Anyway, they worked all day setting it up and taking the old furnace away and will come back on Monday to start working on the radiators. In the meantime my house looks like a bomb has hit it as I have piled everything that was once in front of a radiator into the middle of each room to give them access (and will be leaving it that way until they have finished). But of course, that makes you look at the curtains (oh my God, when was the last time I washed them?). And then you look at the curtain rods, and the state of the windows! Everywhere I look something needs updating or painting. In fact I took all my curtains down and washed them and then I ran out today to buy new rods for downstairs - which I will install when he has finished with the radiators. It's like painting the Forth Bridge - a never-ending project - but at the moment I am quite enjoying it! In fact, when I was buying the curtain rods I spotted some rather nice floor covering, with a lovely sort of Arab-looking floor tile that I think would look nice in the kitchen. I had asked Max what I could use to strip my tiled floor downstairs and repaint it and he told me the end result wouldn't be even if I stripped and re-sealed it and it would probably be easier just to recover it (and he knew someone who would do it for me for the right price!!!). Now I respect Max's opinion because he bought an old farmhouse and renovated it himself after work and at weekends (with Jordan helping pretty much every weekend) and it is beautiful. Not bad for a young man of just 30-ish to have a beautiful home and a very small mortgage (actually, I'm hoping Jordan will be able to do the same thing once he gets better established). So there you go, idea after idea - I'm actually quite excited about it, although the new floor won't be happening just yet. Or at least, not until I can get all the other work done (and the money tree has started to bloom)!

The clean up/declutter in the kitchen is moving slowly on - I've emptied and "bleached" about half of the kitchen cupboards so I'm hoping I'll be able to paint it sometime soon, although trying to get the garden sorted and putting the garage back in order is also taking quite a bit of time. Like I say though, I don't mind and am actually quite enjoying it!

On the weight front, I'm pretty happy to be down 11 lbs since I retired and it seems to be staying off! Yay me! I used to go down and then up 4-5 lbs pretty much overnight but at the moment it's looking good! Not that it's moving much lower right at the moment but I'll keep hoping!

Oh and I see that they published the final jokes that were judged to be the best at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. I kinda like this one. "Some bastard managed to run off with my anti-depressants. I HOPE HE'S VERY HAPPY!" It just tickled me for some reason! The one that was voted the most popular was "I keep yelling out cauliflower, broccoli! Apparently I have florets"! So I decided to send them to my lovely chappie in New York with whom (see that - "posh English") I play words with friends on Facebook. While I was playing a game with him, though, FB "suggested" I might know S, whose sister, D, I actually worked with and who I see occasionally for lunch. No, I don't want to become friends with S as it happens, but by golly what a sight! She is probably knocking 80 (because her sister is 75) and she's all hair piece, false eyelashes, false nails and a shed load of make-up. In fact, she had posted a photo of herself next to a photo of a young Elizabeth Taylor!!!! Err sorry! Not! She's not the only one I know who posts photos "showing" how much she looks like a beautiful film star though - I just don't get it! To be honest, she looked more like Ru Paul than Liz Taylor but that might be just my opinion!

Ru Paul
I might post a picture of me next to Danny de Vito - see if anyone spots the resemblance!

Love Danny!
And talking of FB, another "friend" suggestion was the soon-to-be-ex husband of a cousin of my ex. I didn't really know this couple too well (although they did come out to France and stay with my ex a few years back) but they seemed nice enough. Last time I spoke to my ex-mother-in-law she said that the husband had "flipped" and seemed to be hell bent on drinking himself to death, so his wife had left him (I suspect there was more to it than just the booze, though, to be honest). Anyway, FB now suggested I might want to befriend J, the husband, so I had a look at his page to see what he was up to and my God, talk about putting it all out there! He is vehemently anti-Trump (nothing wrong with that in my eyes) but seems to be angry at the world and his mother. In half the videos he's posted he appears to be drunk or hungover, and he even posted something today claiming that the first President Bush was a paedophile and a Satanist!!!  Say what!!!! Even if I sincerely believed this stuff to be true, the hell if I'd post it on FB! In another post he ranted how three of the cousins had testified against him last year and had him sectioned!! Now knowing these three cousins I don't think there is a spiteful bone in their bodies so if they felt he needed psychiatric help I would believe them! Then there was a foul-mouthed rant calling one of the servers at the family restaurant every vile name under the sun and threatening her and her family. And today he posts a copy of a court summons ordering him to go and be finger-printed in connection with 11 accusations of stalking and harassment! And just when you think he can't keep going, he posts a photo of his hand with stitches in it because he had had to "break into his own, locked home!" After that (yes, it just keeps going), there was an article in the local paper about him and the complaints filed against him. Two people posted comments on that, one saying that he and his family were a bunch of stuck-up losers who thought they were better than everyone else even way back in high school, and the other saying that "in the interests of getting the true facts out there", why didn't he share that he had been kicked out of a church and asked not to go back, as well as quite a few other places where he was persona non grata! Lordy, lordy, it looks like J is in full "self-destruct" mode, but I can't for the life of me understand why he keeps posting all this stuff and airing all his dirty laundry in public! I hope he gets the help he so obviously needs, but in the meantime, I don't think I'll be FB "friending" him any time soon!

Tuesday 20 August 2019


Things have been pretty quiet these last few weeks. The wedding is over, I have no holiday plans and my autumn classes haven't started up yet so I've just been enjoying a bit of "down" time. The temperatures have dropped too, although Sunday was in the 30s with a glorious breeze - the perfect weather - even if it didn't last long. Still, I'm not complaining, as I can't bear the heat!

So what's new? Well the kids picked up the keys to their new apartment on Saturday and Jen called to ask if I could take a couple of empty trunks over to them so they can start packing. They have already taken two trunks so I threw another three in my car and headed out to their new place. Now I know pretty much where St. Jeoire is but if I hadn't put my GPS on I would definitely have taken the "scenic" (i.e. "wrong") route over a mountain pass! In fact I didn't have to go over the mountain pass at all so it turned out to be a very pleasant 30 minute/27 km trip. I threw some snacks, trash bags, a bucket, scraper and sponge in too, plus a spare T-shirt because I knew they were talking about stripping the wallpaper off the two bedrooms so I thought I may as well go over and give them a hand. Jen's friend, Julian, was also there, so Jordan set to and removed the radiators and between the four of us we got two bedrooms completely stripped in three hours!! Pretty good going I thought.

A bunch of "strippers"!

Crikey, was it hot though! It did prove, however, that St. Jeoire is a pretty quiet place to live despite their being a large-ish road nearby, so that's a definite plus! Talking of Julian, he is an identical twin and he and his brother are a hairdresser (at a top Paris salon) and a garage mechanic. I was joking with him before the wedding and asked if he would do my hair for me - so he said "sure, but you do realize that I'm the mechanic don't you"? Damn! Foiled again! On the Sunday they went back to the apartment and put an undercoat of paint on both bedrooms so they are getting well ahead of the game. They have paid the rent on their current place until 6 September so that gives them a fair amount of time to move in at their leisure. With this in mind, and since they haven't had a honeymoon or even a vacation so far this year, they're heading off to Eurodisney, Paris, next weekend for a few days. Jordan, certainly, has been there quite a few times but I know I never get tired of the place! In fact, whenever we had to renew their US passports we went up to Paris on what is a long weekend here in Geneva so that we could do all the necessary paperwork at the consulate on the first day and then enjoy Paris and Eurodisney thereafter. Good memories indeed!


In other news, last Thursday France celebrated Assumption which is, generally, a public holiday, although not everywhere closes. Thursday is market day in my local town so as I wasn't sure if the market would be on I decided to give it a miss and go to the Friday market in Bonneville for a change. As I was buying my fruit and veg the lady seller complimented me on my pretty woven basket (actually, I get quite a few compliments on it - as I have made a point of telling the lady who sells them at my regular Saturday market). Anyway, this lady also complimented me on bringing my own mesh bags and said she wished everyone would do the same as providing the plastic bags was a big expense for them. She explained that the small, flimsy bags that you might put your tomatoes in cost 4 cents each and the bigger, more solid bags that you might use for potatoes, or heavier items, cost 14 cents a piece!! Crikey, I have to admit I had never given it much thought, except to say that I love using my basket and have had the mesh bags for about 15 years now. Such a small effort yet such big savings all round!

On a totally different subject, I saw in the news that the small town of Porthcawl in Wales was planning to install "anti-sex" toilets in the town centre! Basically, they are the kind of toilets that get hosed down after every use but these toilets were designed to monitor if there is more than one set of feet in there, if the weight exceeds the expected weight of a single adult and if that person "took too long" in there!!! It was not only designed to discourage sexual encounters but also to prevent people gathering there to take drugs or rough sleepers. Well apparently it caused much consternation because, as one guy pointed out, "I weigh easily as much as two slim teenagers, what about a mother taking a young child to the toilet, or an older, disabled adult or an elderly person who needed help?" Anyway, I think Porthcawl have had to have a re-think - but it makes you wonder how much ££££ and thought went into this project to begin with! They have these kinds of toilets in town and at the market too and I really don't like them. I'm always worried that something will go wrong and I will end up getting my veggie basket and myself "hosed down" through accidentally getting locked in or staying in there too long!

Oh, and do you remember an old post of mine about my first love, Nacer, who I met when I was attending Montpellier University when I was 19? Well Naç sent me a message last week asking for advice. His son is going to be attending Geneva University to study pharmacy and Naç had "left it a bit late (!!!)" to start looking for accommodation for him, so he was asking for my help. Now there's no way I will be taking in lodgers because firstly I'm not interested and in any case I live too far out (hence the reason I retired early - the God-awful commute), but I was able to give him the names of good neighbourhoods for his son to live in which wouldn't require a lengthy commute and I started looking on FB marketplace for reasonable accommodation in suitable areas. He had thought a place called Ferney-Voltaire (in neighbouring France) might be ok as it is only about 5-6 km from the uni, but I told him to forget it because even on public transport it would take 60-90 minutes one way (on a good day - and there aren't too many of them, traffic-wise, in Geneva lately)! So he was going to come over with his son to see what they could find through the university housing facility (he was on a waiting list) and I said maybe we could meet up if and when he gets his son sorted out. Small world isn't it!

Anyway, as I said at the beginning of my post, things are pretty quiet here at the moment, so I've been taking advantage of that to spend about an hour a day in my garden and the same again taking my kitchen to pieces, emptying all the cupboards and scrubbing the place from top to bottom, as I want to paint it. It isn't finished yet but lordy can you see the difference between the places I have scrubbed and those that I haven't, although having had my hands dunked in bleach for the last week there's no way I would ever make a "hand model"! I remember doing this in my tv room when I moved a picture and thought I would just wipe down the white wood behind it - I ended up scrubbing the whole place from top to bottom as it was stained a horrible gharish yellow from my ex's cigarette smoke, which wasn't so obvious until I started cleaning one little spot! Yuck! I guess the trick is not to start right! That being said, I've still had a few hours a day to either potter around cooking and/or reading and am ploughing through books at the rate of knots at the moment! I just finished Minette Walters' "The Breaker" in two days and am now on a Ruth Rendall book. It's bliss getting my reading "groove" back, especially since I have so many books waiting to be read! That might go by the way for a little while, though, as Max (Jordan's friend/former boss) is coming by tomorrow with a view to installing my new heating system. I know he has ordered the new heating unit and he said it will take about a week to get it all hooked up to the radiators, but it needs to be done and it will be good to get that out the way before it gets cold.

And finally, I haven't been too interested in booking an autumn holiday this year as I've had too much going on, but just yesterday I started to get "itchy feet" about booking something for next spring - my annual "explore" holiday, if you like, just like my Sri Lanka trip in March. So far I've looked at Mexico and Thailand but it's not limited to those two places - although they are both high up on my list. Time to put my thinking cap on that one I guess!

Wednesday 14 August 2019

This and that!

I got a lot done today and I love that feeling. I must be on a roll, I guess, but then again, the different classes I want to take in the autumn haven't started up yet so we'll see how long it lasts once I don't have so much free time! I spent another hour in the garden and cut back a buddleia tree pretty hard. It's lovely but starting to encroach on my driveway so better to cut it back while I still have the strength to cut those suckers as the branches grow really strong really quickly! So I took a trip out to Emmaus, the big charity store here, and then back to the recycling to dump some more stuff. There's a satisfying "thwack" when another load of stuff that isn't re-usable hits that bin don't you think! But, after having had one unfortunate experience, I finally learned that when you empty your grass clippings into the "mulch" bin, you don't have your car keys in your hand! Yep, I did that once, threw my car keys in with the grass and a very "nice" man who worked there had to climb in and get them for me! Yikes, how embarrassing! Funnily enough, turns out two of my neighbours did more or less the same "recycling/charity shop circuit" today, with us all ending up at Emmaus at the same time. I told 'em next time we should bring a picnic and a couple of deckchairs and have a little party! Oh, and I offered my ex' fishing gear to one of my neighbours and he jumped at it, so job done!

In other news, I read yesterday about a near-tragedy in Porthleven, Cornwall, where a young child was swept out to sea on his airbed. The RNLI were called out (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and they had to scramble a helicopter, with a rescuer being dropped into the sea to rescue the child. Now the RNLI is a charity staffed by volunteers which, I believe, refuses Government funding because they want to retain complete control of the way they run things. They are a wonderful institution! Anyway, a few days after the rescue, the child's parents sent the RNLI a bill for £7 because they hadn't brought the kid's airbed back!!! One of the rescuers said "if they feel like sending us the £7,000 to cover the cost of scrambling the chopper we'll send 'em the £7!" Funnily enough, I remember some years ago a case where firefighters rescued a young child from a burning building and one of the parents gave them some "lip" because they had torn his coat!  Can you believe the nerve of some people!

Also in the news quite a bit lately are stories of older women (usually) getting taken to the cleaners by "dashing suitors" they meet over the internet. We all know the stories, and people inevitably comment what idiots these women are. Well maybe, but my feeling is that these scammers are very good at what they do and prey on vulnerable people. Just as an example, about eight years ago I met a young Nigerian lad who was studying here in Geneva at the American University. I can't remember how we met (maybe since I worked with these schools as part of my job), but it definitely wasn't over the internet - I'm pretty sure I wasn't looking for "romance" with a 25 year old Nigerian!!! Anyway, I actually knew him and once gave him a ride back to the uni since it was on my way home. A couple of times we had a coffee while I was hanging around waiting for someone and I also went to his graduation ceremony as he had no-one from his family who could be there for him. Anyway, he "fell in love with me" (yeah, right, I know - don't laugh). I was 51 at the time and my oldest was the same age as him. Now, I'm not daft and wasn't the slightest bit interested in a Nigerian toy boy, but he became very persistent. And I mean, really persistent! He started calling me up, telling me he loved me, he told a couple of students in front of me that he intended to marry me! Oh boy! In the end I got fed up of his whitterings and told him point blank to sod off and maaan did that little viper turn! He went back to Nigeria after he got his degree and a couple of months later I got this "panicked" call from him at work saying that his dad had thrown him out and he had nowhere to go and nothing to eat. Now, my Nigerian friend, Stan - remember him, the café owner - told me that was a crock of sh*t and that you would never be allowed to starve to death in Nigeria. Although, to be honest, I didn't need Stan to tell me that! But he kept pestering me, I had to marry him because he was in love blah, blah, blah and in the end he asked me for 5,000 Swiss francs (that's $5,000) to "tide him over". At which point I told him I had two words for him and the second one was "off"! But my point is, he was very persistent and after months of pestering someone vulnerable over the internet, I can kinda understand how these ladies can get taken in! Played for a sucker and then humiliated! I should have asked him if his uncle had $3 million he needed me to place in my foreign bank account!

Anyway, on another note, a woman I worked with and quite liked retired about eight years ago and went back to live in Cornwall with her American husband, G. G was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago and has been going backwards and forwards with treatment for ages. I only met G a couple of times so don't claim to know him at all but from what I have seen on FB he has borne his "up and down" treatment with amazing grace and humour. I don't keep in touch with them but today I spotted a post on FB where he said he was being "chauffeur-driven" (i.e. pushed by a hospital porter) in his wheelchair down an empty hospital corridor having completed his final radiotherapy! On the way out he passed "the bell" that patients get to ring when they have had their final treatment, so G asked his "chauffeur" to stop and allow him to ring the bell three times in the empty corridor - at which point a bunch of doctors, nurses and technicians who were in nearby offices cames out and they all clapped! How lovely! Well done G, you've been very brave!

And finally, I stopped in at the whole foods shop yesterday as I really fancied some good quality, wholegrain sliced bread. When I got there they only had one loaf left so I took that, but it was so heavy and didn't look that appetising. Anyway, this morning I thought I'd have a couple of slices for breakfast but when I went to slice it it was - how do you put this - well, it felt like trying to cut soft soap with goat's droppings in it (sorry for the visual, but I couldn't think of a better way of describing it)! Moreover, the taste was beeerrrrkkkkk so I threw it out for the birds. But then I had a thought, so I fished the plastic wrap (yeah, plastic wrap at the organic store) out of the bin and saw that I should have put it in the oven for XXX minutes at 180°! Crikey, no wonder it tasted bloody awful! Actually, I think I saw a couple of magpies with very poorly tummies flying past my back window just now (they're probably intending to leave a little "gift" on my car), although judging by some of their offerings lately I can only thank the good Lord that cows can't fly!

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Back in the land of the living!

I've been pretty much offline for a few weeks as I suddenly felt so tired that I wasn't up to doing much of anything at all, what with the heat and the after-effects of all the excitement I suppose. But, I have started taking time to sit and read and I'm delighted as it was something I had missed since giving up work. I have so many books sitting begging to be read so I'm really glad that has kicked in again. It's been really hot too, so slobbing around reading was probably one of the few things I was capable of, to be honest!

So what's new? We still haven't received the website for the wedding photos but it can't be too long now! I can't wait! Oh and I'm thinking the kids will be able to pick up the keys to their new apartment any day now - they must be so excited - I know I am! To that end, I have been slogging away trying to empty so many of the trunks my ex had down in the basement so the kids can take them for the move. So far I have emptied seven huge trunks - and I think I probably have another four or five to go! What the heck my ex thought he needed all those trunks for is beyond me! We didn't need more storage, we needed less stuff! I have a pretty large basement so it was easy to just keep stuffing things down there, forever to be forgotten - or until I ended up going through it all. Just a case in point, a couple of years ago I bought an above-ground inflatable pool because when it gets hot here it gets hot! But I didn't see the point in having an in-ground pool in a place like this. Too much snow and too much work. So I was talking to my neighbour about measuring up the best spot to locate this pool in future (I'm thinking on my terrace rather than on the grass), but when we opened up the huge box that I thought my pool was in I found a shedload of fishing stuff! There was so much stuff, I tell ya, we cudda bought a fishmonger's store with the value of that stuff (and I don't ever recall him catching a single fish)! Still, I guess as long as he got pleasure out of it it was ok, but now I'm left with reels, boxes of bait, the stools and the bloody fishing jacket! I have been slowly going through it all, throwing the rubbish and will take the rest to the charity store if I can't find somebody locally who would like it. But have you any idea how many bloody pockets there are in a fisherman's jacket! What a pain in the butt it has been emptying all that stuff and getting it sorted!

I'm trying to get myself into some kind of routine now where I get some decluttering/ cleaning/scrubbing done every day, work in the garden for a while, maybe some sewing and also trying new recipes. My house has always been "clean enough" but now that I have the time I want to go through it from top to bottom once and for all, starting with my kitchen. It's not much fun to do but so satisfying when it's done, isn't it! All this industry means that for once in my life I have a very slight tan on my arms and my legs are no longer lily white - more like very, milky coffee-coloured - since I live in shorts and t-shirts (all nicely offset by the mozzie bites at the moment, sadly)! Not sure I've seen a bra or a pair of shoes in quite some time either (TMI?) and it's bliss. However, all this energetic output is somewhat dependent on getting a decent night's sleep - which isn't happening too much at the moment. Some bloody dogs from way over the other side of the field shown in my header picture barked all damn night last night! I know all about "living in the country and accepting the noise". I have no problem with that, but this wasn't the farmer's dogs - I know where he lives (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and it's further away - so I'm pretty certain it was in the houses beyond the field. I'm surprised somebody didn't shoot the bloody things (I can see the farmer doing it), but I'm pretty sure someone will have complained because it goes on all night, most nights and they are big dogs with a loud bark! Anyway, other than that, I'm enjoying trying out new recipes and getting the house and garden into some sort of order, although it's early days as yet. I especially love my beautiful hibiscus bush at the moment, but by god do they drop all over the place!

Actually, right now I'm watching "Escape to the Château", which some of the Brits might know. I love Dick and Angel Strawbridge! He can do anything and she doesn't have an uncreative bone in her body! What's more they work so well together and seem so nice! It's a programme I really love, showing the hard work the Brits who move to France and renovate old homes/châteaux have to put in, but I'm sure their (amazing) experience isn't true for most!

And finally, last Friday I was invited to lunch chez J and M with other former colleagues. I shared an office with J when I first came to Geneva and she and her husband are lovely, she is a fabulous cook and he is a wonderful host. All of us (except her hubbie) having worked at the same place, we naturally talked shop most of the afternoon, but M took it in good stead! When the subject of Brexit inevitably came up, a couple of them teased the cr*p out of those of us who are British only, saying we were gonna get kicked out (we won't!)! But, what was more interesting to me was one of the guys saying that yes, there will probably be a trade deal between the US and the UK, but no it isn't gonna be an easy deal because, in his opinion, the US will insist on three things being included. Maybe not immediately, but included ultimately. And those three things were access to the NHS (the National Health Service) - say what!!!!!!! That has always supposedly been non-negotiable (or at least until it becomes "negotiable", I guess). Two, the US would insist on being able to export "bleach washed poultry" (or whatever you call it), and three, they would also insist on including the exporting of GM food to the UK, which isn't allowed under EU regulations!!!! It's scary stuff but I will be very  interested to see if he proves right!