Gosh it's foggy out there today! This morning, instead of doing my usual "slob around in my jimjams while having breakfast and reading the news until about 10.30", I decided to get up and get moving as I wanted to stop in at the Mairie in our village before they closed at noon. So I bounded out of bed like the decoy hare in the starter trap at the dog races, jumped into the shower and drove the short distance to the Mairie. The young woman there is very nice and she remembered doing me an attestation sometime ago to the effect that I have lived in the village since April 1990, but I told her with Brexit looming I suspect "they" would want a more recent attestation. I also asked her if she could do the same for my son, to prove that he had lived in the village from birth (1992) until October 2015, when he moved in with Jen. She said she will have them both ready for me if I want to stop by next week. Other than that, I'm not sure what is acceptable to the French authorities as proof of over five years of residence, given that we haven't needed permits to live in France for many years - and Jordan has never needed one! Yearly tax declarations I suppose, but I suspect an attestation from the Mairie will be easier!
As I was on my way out I saw a group of around 30 young men in hiking gear with huge backpacks, so I reckon they were heading up the mountain at the back of my house to camp/watch the fireworks. I reckon it would probably be a 4-5 hour hike up there but good luck to 'em in this miserable weather! Still, a bit of fog is a million times preferable to the horrendous bushfires in Australia at the moment! I see today that 4,000 people are trapped on a beach just waiting for the orders to "jump into the ocean" if the fires get any closer! God I hope it doesn't come to that and that Australia (in particular) and California can get a good dousing by some of the rain we've been having here, and that in Europe the rain will dry up long enough for some of the flooding to recede. I can't even begin to think how exhausted the wonderful emergency services must be!
After the Mairie I decided to head on down to Cluses, about 30 minutes away, as I will be starting my next round of once-a-month patchwork lessons and the lady asked us to stop by and choose the supplies we will need for our next project before our first lesson on Tuesday evening. Since it's new year's eve the shop was quiet so I got her all to myself, helping me pick out binding for the baby quilt I'm making, as well as advice on making a tote bag Jen would like me to make for her! This lady has wonderful taste (thankfully, as she's in the business) and I just find it so confusing picking out coordinating fabrics and so on. I guess you've either got it or you haven't and I definitely haven't - hence I'm so glad of her help! I was also explaining to her the difficulty I had had trying to quilt my baby quilt so she showed me a proper quilting foot for my machine and it does make a helluva difference. I was also asking her about quilting motifs on borders and she showed me where I had been going wrong there - but I think I'll leave buying that equipment for later. I'm a very slow learner as far as quilting is concerned, so I reckon a few months before buying the next round of accessories for my machine won't hurt. I had a bit of an "ouch" moment when I realized how much I'd spent but in the end I reckon it's one of my few hobbies and I generally budget for this kind of stuff so I'm good with it really!
When I was in the grocery store the other day I picked up one of those freebie magazines that tells you what's going on in the local area. For some reason I looked at my horoscope (I never read that rubbish), but this one said "as a Libran you need to get outside more into the fresh air"! Ha, so I was right the other day then! Actually I also managed to get a walk in yesterday too, up behind the houses where I met the farmer in February. And while it's still not easy going uphill it's nowhere near as difficult as I used to find it, although coming back down through the fields I found the going a bit slippery so I think I'll take my walking stick next time!
I also spent maybe a half hour the other night going through all the blogs on my favourites bar and deleting as many as I could. Some bloggers have stopped blogging. Some I found interesting and "wanted to read them from the beginning" but never got around to it. For some my taste has just changed, so I think it's good to clean it all up a bit as I wasn't reading them anyway. Just hope I didn't delete any of my real favourites by accident! And talking of blogs, I happened to look at the stats for my blog on Christmas eve (which is something I never do), and I saw that I had 99,998 hits on my blog! I suppose two things spring to mind. How was I going to get two more hits to get to the magic 100,000 mark? And I can't even begin to fathom that people actually read my blog! I started it because I wanted to write down my stories for my boys and never really expected anyone else to read it, but wow! Now if I can just get two more people to read it between now and midnight!!!!!
Then on Saturday I used my phone app to submit about €600 worth of medical bills to my insurance provider. Once my 300 Swiss franc annual deductible is met I'm reimbursed 90% of most of the remaining costs, so it was quite a shock when my phone "pinged" 24 hours later indicating that they had already reimbursed me and the money was in my bank account! Talk about efficient! I told my former mother-in-law about this the other night when I was chatting with her and she couldn't believe how easy and efficient it was - no quibbling, no hassle! And I have to admit she's right. I pay 174 Swiss francs a month (that's about $174) towards my premium and get 90% reimbursement of pretty much everything after the 300 Swiss franc deductible is met! And the coverage is excellent. Believe me, I know how lucky I am!
As I mentioned previously, one of my aims this year is to try out at least one new recipe a week. Well I tried out one which called for slow roasted pork with a garlic and sugar coating - and god it was awful! I managed to save the pork of course but that dressing was just yuck! Anyway, one of my big things lately is to find new ways to cook aubergine (eggplant). Not because I particularly like it but because I find aubergine "challenging"! I mean, what do you do to make something that looks like a big black rubbery goose egg taste good (apart from the ubiquitous eggplant parmesan)? Well, as I've been taking my books back downstairs to my bookcase I've made a point of flicking through at least one cookbook a night to see if I should keep it or donate it. Then last night I found a Sicilian recipe for aubergine salad, and since I have all the ingredients I'm going to give it a try later!
I'm also making a point of reading in bed for around 30 minutes before I go to sleep and last night, from inside the book I was reading, I pulled out three stapled A4 pages on which I had been making pension estimates and mortgage pay-off calculations since 2014 (I guess I was already that desperate to retire even then)! It made quite fun reading actually because even though I was paranoid in case I had missed something, my calculations worked out bang on and I even ended up retiring two years earlier than I thought possible. To think that I'd finally "done it" made re-reading those pages so satisfying!
So, back to my word for 2020. I was giving this some thought and again the words "eggplant" and "challenging" sprung to mind. So there you have it. My word for the year: "EGGPLANT"! As you can see, I'm not that deep!
Anyway, I'm staying in tonight. Don't want to be out in the fog or on the roads with the crazies, so I'll wish you all a safe and happy new year's eve and all the best for 2020!