The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Thursday 30 April 2020

Captain Tom celebrates his 100th birthday!

The other day I finally realized that I couldn't think of a single good excuse to put off painting the kitchen any more so decided there was nothing for it but to just get on and do it. Now I don't mind the idea of painting as such but I absolutely hate having to move everything so that I can get into all the nooks and crannies. I tell ya, the temptation to just paint round that bottle of ketchup where it stood was extremely strong, but then that would mean I would have to keep buying the same brand for ever and a day. So in the end there was nothing for it but to just move stuff and get started. I've never been one to work all day like a navvy and get it all done in one go. I've always done a bit here and there and quit when I get fed up of it. My ex used to go nuts as he wanted everything over and done in one fell swoop but then when it was finished he would toddle off to sit in front of the TV while I still had to clean up and make dinner and so on, so now I always stop before I get to the point of being knackered. Anyway I started out painting the ceiling, then one of the walls the next day and so on. To be honest I did such a cack-handed job the first day it felt more like flinging paint at myself and hoping some of it would stick to the walls, but each day I've done a little more and tried not to make so much mess as it just means more cleaning up. I'm not totally sure of the colour though. I had wanted just plain white but this seems to have somewhat of a bluish-greyish tinge to it which looks a bit cold so I'm wondering what exactly the colour "blanc bec" really is in paint terms. Whatever, it's up there now and it's not going anywhere so I'll have to jazz it up a bit if I think it looks too cold. I realized pretty quickly that I don't like using a roller so went to the DIY store and bought a new paintbrush, but would you believe there were hardly any in stock!!! I guess everyone is using lock down to get some DIY done because the shelves were pretty bare. Then despite what it would seem to indicate on the paint pot, I realized last night that I might not have enough to get it all done, so today I played the daring young thing and drove into town for the second time in a week to get another pot of paint. And miracle of miracles they had the exact paint I needed - I got the last pot. Crikey, can you imagine if they didn't have any and I ended up left with one odd coloured wall!

Anyway since I was in town I decided to stop in at the health food shop again as my friend told me she had bought cottage cheese there the other day. Now cottage cheese is not exactly the in thing in France and most people have never heard of it, so it's not easy to find. But I got a couple of tubs of that and a bottle of kombucha and lo and behold, as I went to pay I saw that they were selling hand sanitizer at the cash register, so I got a bottle of that too. You know, I'm beginning to think that if I decided to have another shot at internet dating, just mentioning the fact that I can wield a paintbrush and have a bottle of hand sanitizer I think my stock would trade high, don't you!

As I drove out I looked at the price of petrol and man has it dropped - so far this lock down I reckon I'm getting six weeks to the gallon and counting. So tomorrow I'll go and check my heating fuel and get that ordered while they're virtually giving it away. Every little helps doesn't it. Then I got an email from the tax people to say that "your tax statement is online" and when I checked it it looks like my tax guy has already set up the automatic deduction with my calculations being bang on. I'm so pleased because as I've said before when you've given up a good job based on a set of calculations it would come as a helluva shock to find out you'd totally screwed up and were basically now broke. Phew!

I was watching TV the other night while still trying to get on with my jigsaw puzzle (never again) and I see that they've got a new series of Kirstie Allsopp's crafting programmes on, specifically designed around lock down I guess. I like Kirstie as she's very tongue-in-cheek, but you know how every Christmas you're going to have a totally "hand-crafted Christmas" and it never works out that way - well that's how I feel about this stuff. She's entertaining anyway, even if I never do get round to doing a complete découpage project using an old map of France for the design, although that has actually given me a couple of ideas, truth be told!

Kirstie Allsopp
And finally, today is the 100th birthday of the amazing Captain Tom and the country celebrated with him. At last count his fund has raised over £31 million for the NHS and he has received 150,000 birthday cards from around the world. An eagle-eyed boffin at the Ministry of Defence noticed that he was missing a WWII medal that he was entitled to so they made a special presentation of that medal to him this morning, along with a beautiful cake, a message from the Queen and news that he has been made an honorary Colonel! But the icing on the cake was when the RAF did a fly past of a WWII hurricane and spitfire over his home! Absolutely stunning. I think in difficult times it's lovely for people to get behind a figurehead and he seems to have fulfilled that role. But more importantly, he seems such a humble and decent man and when, at the end of the interview he simply said "it'll be all right again soon you know, it always is", it was just so so special and heartwarming. Warms the cockles of your heart doesn't it!

Tuesday 28 April 2020

More this and that!

While this whole pandemic situation is obviously dreadful with such terrible loss of life and many people's livelihoods going to pot, there are some people who seem to be thriving as a result of it - and I don't mean the TP and hand sanitizer hoarders (who will, hopefully, get the consequences they deserve). No, I was watching the news the other day when they ran a clip about a company using robots in Milton Keynes to deliver groceries and the point of it being on the news was that they were currently delivering free of charge to NHS workers. This scheme has, apparently, been around for a couple of years, but given the current crisis they were working on building more robots and expanding the scheme sooner rather than later - and good luck to them. I hadn't heard of them before but what a neat idea and it's nice to see a company like this benefitting from their ingenuity!

Another positive is that the village shop would also seem to be making a come-back in some more rural areas, given people's difficulty in getting to larger stores, or just their reluctance to go to them. These shops were being slowly squeezed out by the big stores but the presenter of this particular clip was saying that hopefully the village shop will be able to survive and even thrive after the pandemic as not only shops but also the important community hub that they used to represent.

In other news, it started raining on Sunday night for the first time in - oh, I don't know - six weeks maybe. It has been so gloriously warm and sunny that it has been a pleasure to take time out and just potter. That being said, we actually needed the rain so while it's quite a bit cooler it's not unwelcome. The weird thing is, though, that without the rain we have had such a large build up of pollen everywhere and when I was sitting watching TV on Sunday night I looked up and it actually looked like it was raining custard down my window!!! Still, getting some of that washed off should be good for allergy sufferers I guess!

I finally took a trip out today for non-food shopping since I had heard that the Botanic garden centre was now open. I figured that since I hadn't been spending any "fun" money the last six weeks I could afford to treat myself at my favourite garden centre - plus I needed more soil anyway. But oh what a treat it is to walk around that place - I just want to buy everything and even the non-garden/plant stuff is just so pretty - if a little expensive. I bought myself a few veggie seedlings which are further ahead than my own so I'm looking forward to getting those out into the garden as soon as I can. My own tomato, cucumber and courgette plants are doing well this year, probably because I've kept them inside my little greenhouses and not planted them out at the first sign of warm weather, but I added in some chili peppers, aubergines (my word for 2020) and cantaloup melon to the mix to have a shot at growing them too. I just have to remember to properly label them this year as I often have no idea what I'm actually growing by the time it's in the ground! I also made two wigwam trellises using branches that my neighbour had cut off his hazelnut tree. Once they are all bound together they seem to be fairly stable, but it remains to be seen how they hold up under pressure. I've also been following a French site called Rustica, where they give gardening tips relevant to France and our climate and every time I think "oh I must …" they seem to have an article pop up on just that subject. The latest one answered my question on why my lemon bush's leaves were starting to turn brown (answer: it doesn't like to be in direct sunlight when you first put it outside and - get this, a lemon bush doesn't particularly appreciate temperatures of over 10° round here so not to let it get too hot). My next foray into the world of gardening is to attempt to make nettle liquid manure which is apparently very good for a veggie garden. No wonder my neighbours just shake their heads when they see my latest experiments, what with my home-made wigwams and the vision of my backside sticking out from the hedge trying to get at the nettles they must think I'm mad. One year I actually created a vertical garden growing up my cherry tree using plastic bottles and very satisfying (and productive) it was too, but like I say, my neighbours think I'm nuts sometimes!

Since I was a little disappointed in my apple cake the other day I decided to make Mary Berry's lemon drizzle cake yesterday and that was a roaring success. Absolutely delicious. It sank a bit in the middle so I think I'll use a smaller, round pan next time, but having the hole in the middle just gave me the excuse to fill it up with whipped cream and indulge. As you can probably tell, the diet's going great guns (and so easy to follow too)!

And finally, I was talking to my friend the other day and he was complaining about a pain in the left side of his back, under his shoulder blade. The next day he said it was still there so I asked if it was in his arm or in his jaw as I was a little worried, having had a dad who had frequent heart attacks. He said not, but I mentioned he might want to get some aspirin in just in case (I was told to give aspirin to my dad when he had a heart attack when I was 14 and home alone with him. The ambulance came of course but that was when I learned that aspirin can help to bust small clots so I always keep some in the house just in case). Anyway, he said he thought he had just twisted his arm awkwardly and that he thought Voltaren would ease it, the problem being that he had no way of putting it on his own back. So I told him now would seem to be the perfect time to get out and meet the neighbours. "Hallo, you must be my new neighbours. We haven't met. My name's C. Would you think I was awfully forward if I asked if you would mind just rubbing some of this on my back?" I was only trying to help but he didn't think that was very funny for some reason. Can't think why!

Saturday 25 April 2020

Day 40!

There's not much going on here at the OK Corral - like most places I guess, but I'm still doing ok, thank goodness. I couldn't sleep the other night for some reason so got back up again around 12.30 to finish reading a book that had been recommended by a friend. It was called I Know Who You Are and was pretty good, with lots of twists and turns, an easy read, but quite a sting in the tail involving the bad guy getting killed with a pickaxe (don't want to give too much away there right)! After I'd finished it I did manage to drop off but as I'm wont to do on occasion, I had another weird dream. Apparently Prince William had just found out that Kate had been cheating on him and announced that he intended to divorce her. For some even weirder reason I was working there (????) and after a distraught Kate stormed off I went into the study and found an ax (she obviously intended to murder him with it) so the only way I could prevent that was to hide the ax behind the fax machine. I know, I know, I get it's weird to be dreaming about Wills and Kate. The bit about the ax you can probably see where I got that from, but a fax machine????? They went out with wind-up telephones. I used to tell my colleague about my weird dreams and he would "psychoanalyse" me until we roared laughing, but this one really got me stumped - a fax machine? How long ago did they fall off the face of the earth!

At the beginning of the week I had a phone call from the young men who I signed with to get my roof renovated - Technitoit - and they asked if they could come over to finalize some papers and talk about the insulation project that I had also asked them to look into. When they arrived we sat out in the back garden and they commented how lovely my garden is. Not my unmown grass bit, but the beautiful view I guess, so I said I thought there would be a lot of lovely gardens this year, what with people having more time because of the lockdown. They were telling me though that having been off one month it was starting to hurt financially. In fact the one guy was very open and said that he had only picked up €1,000 last month in unemployment and with €800 of basic monthly bills it really hurt so they were more than glad to get back to work. Another thing they mentioned was that quite a few of their clients had had to cancel because many were frontaliers working in Switzerland and when the Swiss started cutting back on staff it was obviously the frontaliers who were the first to be let go! I hadn't thought of it that way and it really brought home to me what a precarious situation so many were now in. Anyway, they were up on my roof taking pictures and, not surprisingly, my insulation is shot to pieces. Well it's 40 years old so probably about as effective as a paper hankie at this point, so I signed up to get it all done - the cleaning and sealing probably starting next week and then 27 cm of new insulation all over, probably in October. It's a lot of money but becoming a necessity. So I was thinking, what with the floor, heating and water heater all done, the roof in the pipelines, as soon as I get the bathrooms done I think I'm good to go. Hopefully the rest will just be cosmetic, as and when. My neighbour did mention that they were having AC put in a couple of rooms as the summers are becoming unbearable here, so I may think about that too. I'll wait to speak to the guy that does theirs before I tackle that one, although I suspect in any case it's already too late for this year!

In other news I continue to potter around getting things done here as the weather is still lovely. The really weird thing, though, is that I am consistently getting over 10,000 steps a day despite the fact that I never go out walking! I'm making a conscious effort to sort the basement and in and out the garden all the time but I was really surprised at how much I'm now moving as compared to previously. Long may it last, but I suspect it will slow down when the really hot weather gets here as I hate it!

I ended up with both neighbours having a coffee in my back yard again today, which is nice as it gives us a chance to have a chat and them a chance to speak to someone other than their husbands. I was saying to D how much I loved the poppies in her garden and she offered me a root, which I gladly accepted. So then she goes on to say that she offered a root to her other neighbours, the M family, and he refused "because they make opium out of poppies"!! Say what! Now the M family are Jehovah's Witnesses, and while I am not the slightest bit interested in their religion they are very, very nice people. In fact it's their arthritic old dog that dodders down to my back garden for a crap most days but I don't say anything - just shit shovel - because, as I say, they are elderly (80 and 86) and they have been good to me. But even I was surprised at his response to the offer of a poppy root. I think my mouth must have dropped open because D then went on to say that years ago their 14 year old son had been killed when he climbed on a bunch of pallets, which then collapsed and crushed him (this I already knew). But when they got to the hospital the mother ran in and said "no transfusions" and the doctors, apparently, couldn't hide their disgust. Their son was dead on arrival sadly but to rush in to an emergency room and insist on that is more than I could do, religion or no religion. Each to his own I know, but nope, I'd be lining up with my sleeve rolled up!

I also finally managed to get my "pixie door" put up today. I screwed that thing into my plum tree and while it might just kill it, I think it looks rather pretty!

In other news I see that the UK has started clinical trials of a potential vaccine on healthy adults this week. Fingers crossed. And Captain Tom, whose 100th birthday is on 30 April, has apparently received over 40,000 birthday cards already, so much so that the Royal Mail is having to set up a special room just to cope with it.

John over at Going Gently posted a picture of beautiful Conwy castle all lit up the other day and I wanted to repost it here as I have such fond memories of the place. My brother lived about half a mile behind the castle (on Castle View Estate) and my aunt lived about 300 metres down the road, on Castle Street (they're not very imaginative with street names as you can tell). I have such lovely memories of the place where I spent so many summers that I just wanted to have a keepsake here on this blog.

Diolch - thank you!
I think everything that can be said has been said about the Donald's suggestion to think about taking bleach internally hasn't it, but the one positive side effect seems to have been that his self-aggrandizing daily briefings have now been cut short and he's taking no questions from reporters, so that's a plus. I'm just wondering how long it will be before they announce that some idiot gave it a try though as, sadly, while that seems so unthinkable I honestly believe someone will do it!

And finally, Kylie over at Eclectica had been asked by another blogger about "weird" things in your house that you don't even notice. Well I no longer have it in my house but when I was married I used to like to read in bed. My bedside lamp was fine but the one on my husband's side was way too bright, so one night I asked him if he could do something about it - thinking maybe he'd change the light bulb. But nooooo his solution (always the path of least resistance) was to take a pair of underpants out of his drawer and pull them down over the lamp shade. That bloody thing looked like a white faced alien for so long, the "eyes" being where the leg holes were. To be honest I was so beaten down that his bedside lamp/underpants were the last thing on my mind and I never noticed them. But about a year after he had moved out (taking the bed with him - I guess the girlfriend liked it), I was going to get the floor redone before buying a new bedroom suite. Well my neighbour came round to help me take the carpet up and said "Anna, don't you think it's time for the underpants to go?" and then we just roared laughing. It's kinda embarrassing to have your neighbour draw it to your attention though isn't it!

Thursday 23 April 2020

Ha ha!

I mentioned in my previous post that I was watching Philadelphia Story and really enjoying it, so Dave asked me which version - the Katherine Hepburn version or the Grace Kelly version - both were funny! I thought "damn, they must have really rewritten that thing to put Tom Hanks in the leading rôle and turn it into such a tearjerker"! Don't get old, as they say!

Where's St. George when you need him?

The last couple of days have been slightly more productive for me, as I was just getting tired of all the things I could/should do and not doing them. But I was thinking about it today and maybe there's nothing wrong if this becomes my new normal. For the most part I don't have to dance to anyone else's tune any more and while I enjoy my courses BC (before coronavirus) I'm doing just fine without them, too. In the six weeks we've been in lockdown I haven't gone out walking even once, only because I can't be arsed to figure out an exact one kilometre circuit near my house (there probably isn't one) and I was afraid of getting a fine 1,100 metres from my front door from some jobsworth having a bad day. So the highlight of my week every week has been grocery shopping - well that and taking the bin out twice! I went shopping on Thursday and was stopped for the first time by the police asking for my attestation and they were very polite, so maybe my "jobsworth" comment is unfair! There were no lines at the supermarket and while the shelves were only about three-quarters full I got everything I wanted. The good news, apparently, is that La Roche's outdoor market is going to slowly start up again, with maybe five or six stands being allowed to set-up out of the usual 40 or so, although how they figure out which stallholders are allowed to sell and when I have no idea!

In other news, I saw on British TV the other day an interview with an American team in New York which had produced one of two studies on the death rates for CO19. It's early days yet of course but they had looked at statistics for over 5,000 deaths in hospital and studied the aggravating factors. I'm not phrasing this very well but basically both studies were coming to the conclusion that age and obesity seemed to be the two most aggravating factors linked to death. Now I would have thought compromised lung function, heart problems etc. were bigger issues than obesity but while they were indeed factors, obesity seemed to be a bigger factor! Then they interviewed a British researcher doing the same kind of study in London and he confirmed that their findings, so far, were agreeing with the statistics coming out of the UK! Wow!

A few years ago I started having an annual check-up with a dermatologist due to a "weird thingy" on my leg when I came back from St. Lucia. It turned out to be nothing but he did remove a couple of other "weird thingies" as they were suspicious and advised me to get checked out every year because of my pale skin. Well Dr. Twinkly Eyes went into semi-retirement, giving up his surgery and moving to a large clinic in Geneva on a part-time basis. I was looking to book an appointment with him recently, but obviously that wasn't possible - until yesterday when I got an email from the clinic to say that as from Monday the clinic would be open for business, "including for cosmetic procedures"! I was stunned. I knew they did cosmetic surgery but I was stunned that they would be opening up for such selective procedures at this time! When I mentioned this to my friend he said he agreed but people/businesses were in dire straits and people didn't know how best to handle it. I'll be darned if I know the answer, but given the two studies mentioned above I wonder how much a bit of liposuction would cost?

Anyway, back to lesser things, today has been really productive because I decided I wanted to knock a few things off my to do list. I spent over an hour getting online bills paid and sorting out paperwork etc. Then I received a posting from Un Jardin au Paradis (A Garden in Paradise), which is an organic farm near here where I wanted to do a one-day course on sustainable agriculture (which I will definitely book as soon as I can). Anyway, they sent me an article on "cardboard potato growing" and I was intrigued. Now I know you can plonk cardboard down over grass/weeds and a few weeks later, hey presto, half the grass/weeds are gone. The way they grow potatoes, you plonk down the cardboard (on top of my grass in my case), layer it up with grass clippings, cut an "X" into the cardboard, poke your sprouting potatoes through it, re-cover with more clippings and wait for a miracle. So I did it - well my form of it. I have to admit I'm pretty slapdash so I will be quite surprised if it works for me (remember my home-made kombucha experiment), but we can only try these things right!

All the above pictures by Un Jardin au Paradis
After that I did some more gardening, took a shower and decided I needed give myself a second "lockdown haircut". At this point I'm working on top of my previous lockdown haircut, so while I tried to make it as even as I could on both sides, I have no idea what it looks like at the back. Then again, I don't really care what impression I make on people as I'm leaving anyway!

Then I decided I wanted to try a new recipe so as I had a few apples hanging around I made The Hairy Bikers Spiced Apple Cake. Now I'm very picky about cakes and while it was ok I wouldn't rave about it. Just as I was pulling it out of the oven my other neighbours walked over with a jar of homemade orange jam, and then my favourite neighbours wandered over so we all had a distanced coffee and a good chat. Both the ladies were saying that they were having a tough time, with Mrs. S saying that she thought she was heading into a depression, and my favourite neighbour saying that she had spoken to her mom and then spent the afternoon crying! Crikey, they are both lovely ladies and I felt so bad for them but what can you do in a situation like that except be there to listen? Anyway, after they left I had time to make a couple more masks while the cake was cooling and then took cake over to Mrs. S and to the other neighbours. Her husband was in the garden and when I saw that she wasn't in the kitchen I just left it on her table. Well about 30 minutes later I was in the garden reading when all of a sudden I heard her in the garden saying "oh my God, I think I'm going to be sick"!!! Say what???? About 10 minutes later she came over to thank me for the cake so I told her to just throw it if she hated it. She said "no, I came over to get the recipe", and when I explained to her that I thought I had almost poisoned her she burst out laughing and said she was reading an absolutely gripping, but horrifying book on WWI and that was what made her feel sick. So I guess I cheered her up at least!

Right now I'm actually watching Philadelphia Story for the first time, can you believe, and am loving it, but I couldn't close without saying that today is St. George's Day. In 1350 he was chosen by King Edward III to be the Patron Saint of England because "he was admired for his bravery in the face of terrible suffering". So while I guess he may not have actually slayed a dragon planet earth could sure use some help right now if he's listening!

Tuesday 21 April 2020

This and that!

I had another couple of "down" days this weekend. No enthusiasm or energy for anything. Feeling sorry for myself I guess when I have absolutely no right to. Still I now just accept these moments for what they are and decide that if I want to do nothing but read for an entire weekend then that's just fine isn't it. Right now on TV I'm watching A Very British Lockdown and am really enjoying it. Just showing ordinary people and how they are coping with it. One lady has cystic fibrosis so her husband is living outside in their caravan for 12 weeks. Another woman is trying to work from home with two very young children and ready to pull her hair out. Another couple run a small grocery store opposite a huge, but closed campsite their business absolutely depends on for its lifeline. They're arguing a lot of course, but then I suppose that's no surprise. In fact my neighbour was whispering to me in the garden this weekend that her husband is driving her nuts (but then, when doesn't he?). She was on skype to her mom on the west coast of France when her husband walked in from the garden dragging mud all over her newly-washed floor. When she asked him if it was too much effort to kick his shoes off outside he took them off and threw them at her - and all witnessed by her mom and the care home assistant! So maybe it's not so bad being on my own after all! I called my friend too today and he was out for a walk as he was going stir crazy. When I said if we had thought he could have come over to my place he just said we'd be at each other's throats. Not true, I probably would have knifed him already (but at least we can laugh about it)!

What else is new? Oh, in what is obviously a huge disappointment in France, the Tour de France has now been postponed to September. They had been scheduled to spend the night in La Roche on 17 July. Well now that's pushed back to 17 September, assuming France has opened up by then! And in totally unrelated news, what about Trump suspending the US contribution to WHO during a pandemic!!!! That just blows my mind, it's so unbelievable. Every time I keep thinking he can't do anything more outrageous he "excels" himself!! Or how about Bishop Gerald Glen of Virginia who refused to stop holding church services because "God is larger than the virus"! Well guess who just died of it (and I wonder how many more of his congregation are now sick)!

In a totally other world, I had a "zoom" appointment with my tax guy today to get my 2019 taxes sorted. This was the guy who told me that the other "expert" that I had consulted last year about taxes on my lump sum basically didn't know his arse from a hole in the ground, although he was somewhat more diplomatic than that of course. The first guy told me that apart from the tax on my pension, I would pay an additional €21,000-ish in a tax called CGI. So my second guy said that was BS since (a) my pension is not derived from France and (b) I'm not entitled to sécurité sociale, which is basically French medical coverage and unemployment, so the CGI tax is not payable!!!! Phew, that took my tax down on just the lump sum from €21,000 to €9,100 - I'll take that any day. And while it obviously still has an ouch factor, I'd put the money away anyway so it is there just waiting to be paid out. On a personal note, I have thought more than once that if I was still married my husband would have found a way to spend that money, that's an absolute certainty!

And I suppose any Brits out there have seen the story of Captain Tom right? The 99 year old WWII veteran who volunteered to attempt 100 circuits of his garden (with his walker) to try to raise £1,000 for the NHS. Well he reached his target and just decided to keep going, and as it stands right now he has so far raised £27 million (and still climbing) and was invited to open the newly-built NHS Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate (from the safety of his own home of course). Well done Captain Tom - I think a knighthood should be in the offing there don't you! The wonderful thing about the NHS is that not one single patient will walk out of any hospital with a bill (so Mr. Trump can shove that where the sun don't shine next time he says the NHS will be on the table in any Anglo-American trade deal). After all that's going on right now any government who even thought of selling out the NHS would be committing political hari kari!

Captain Tom - a real hero!
And finally, I saw the firemen from La Roche decided to pay their own tribute to our local hospital, the CHAL. I thought the sign at the end just said it all!

Tuesday 14 April 2020


The other night I decided it was probably about time to turn my heating off. We've been having lovely weather and the heating kicking in first thing in the morning and last thing at night was becoming uncomfortable, so I decided to take the bull by the horns and get the instruction manual out for my new, state-of-the art heating system which was installed just last September. Crikey, that stuff is complicated - which only makes me take my hat off to my youngest son for being able to install and programme the bloody things! It took me a while because the computerized panel kept indicating that the heating was still working, even though I thought I'd turned it off. What was actually happening was the computer thingy showed that yes, it was indeed turned off, but it was still programmed to kick in in the event of the temperature dropping below freezing. I think my fear was trying to make sure it was still programmed to heat my water, so I kept switching from one programme to the other and getting totally confused. I'm pretty sure I've got it figured now though. Max had asked me to let him know what the fuel consumption was like since he had also switched my electric water heater over to the new fuel system. Well I'm pleased to say that it looks like I'm using the same, or maybe even a little less fuel than before, all while additionally heating my water with it rather than by electricity. So I guess Max was right then (he should be, he installed it). My fuel consumption is staying the same and my electricity bill should be all the way down since I am no longer heating 300 litres of water from 11 pm to 6 am. I'll take that!

I spent quite a few hours today potting up seeds and dragging my temporary greenhouses up from the basement to my back terrace. A couple of years ago I had placed the greenhouses along the side of my house in a lovely sunny spot, but what I hadn't thought of was when it's windy the wind howls round that corner and after finding my blossoming greenhouses thrown all over my driveway by the wind one time I kinda gave up after that. But this year I'm going to give them another try on my more sheltered back terrace. I didn't put any of my seedlings in there though as I still feel it might be a bit cold in the mornings for them, so they're still spending their nights in my living room for the time being. Between that and my sewing projects, plus all my books in my TV room I did think I might be starting to look like a hoarder at the moment, but hopefully the seedlings will go outside soon, I'm going to put away a bunch of fabric tomorrow and my books … well what can I say? They're not going anywhere in all honesty! Oh well, thankfully I live alone!

In the spirit of keeping in touch with friends I called an old neighbour up tonight from when we moved back to Switzerland from the States in 1989 and had a good long chat with her. She is Colombian and our kids were both two when we moved in, so we ended up just leaving our front doors open and letting the kids run back and forward between the houses to play together (and eat together pretty often). Like me she is divorced and now retired, and while I don't get to see her very often (she doesn't drive and it's a long drive for me) it was lovely to have a good long catch-up. She was saying that her little grandson tries to "cook" for her when she looks after him, and she laughed when I told her that when I was young - too young to get a Saturday job at least - I used to have my mom's lunch ready for her when she got home from work on a Saturday. I would guess that for 50 out of 52 weeks of the first year that I did that my poor old mom got my home-made cheese soufflé and salad, because that was the only thing I could make! The soufflé was pretty good even at that young age, but she must have got pretty fed up of it after a while!

And did anyone see Trump's meltdown at his last press briefing! Good Lord, it's not going to end well. I sat through the "video of justification of just how wonderful he is", with clips of different people saying how he'd "got everything right" about this pandemic, but when one of the reporters asked what he was doing about the pandemic during the month of February, which had been conveniently missed out of the video clip, he pretty much lost it. I mean, from standing over to the side all puffed up like a turkey cock during the video, to throwing all his toys out the pram when the reporter kept repeating her question it was actually embarrassing. As the figures can only get worse in the States before they get better I can see a full-blown public meltdown on the horizon. If it wasn't so serious it would be funny, but sadly it is so serious!

And talking of "consequences", I just read today that the Dutch threw away 140 million tulips this past month (their biggest earner) since they were not able to sell them during the pandemic. Damn! Something like €25 million worth! How sad, and just another indication of the dire economic consequences of this lockdown!

Again talking about consequences, I read in the local Geneva newspaper this morning that since the beginning of lockdown the French have refused re-entry into our region for 3,400 false frontaliers. A frontalier is someone who lives in France and crosses the border every day to Switzerland for work. The cost of renting or buying property in Geneva is horrendous. For instance my son and his wife pay SF 2,000 ($2,000) to rent a one-bedroomed apartment. My neighbours' son and his wife pay SF 3,000 to rent a two-bedroomed apartment, and to buy a small house you're looking at about a million. So many Swiss buy "secondary residences" in France and actually live in them full-time, while declaring an address in Switzerland as their permanent address. Of course since they "live in Switzerland" they have Swiss licence plates, so the French have been turning them back at the border in the evenings because the borders are closed to all non-residents. Practically speaking, taxes are lower in Switzerland, VAT is lower and inheritance taxes are much, much lower, hence these people don't want to "officially" live in France. So now, those that can't go home to their "secondary residences" in France after work in the evenings are stuck! So far they've had 50 requests to "regularize" their situation but, off the top of my head, that will involve paying around 12% import duty/VAT on their cars in order to import them into France, since the duty in Switzerland is 8% as compared to 20% in France, plus around triple that amount in fines. I don't know what the price of some fancy Mercedes or Audi is but I imagine that will sting. Then of course, if any of them inherited property in Switzerland the French would be looking to come after them for inheritance tax, and there would probably be a hefty fine from the tax man too. Part of the tax that is paid in Switzerland by French residents is passed back to the commune where that person resides to pay for schools and so on, so these people claiming to be non-residents have been getting away with murder for ages. Now the "haters" in Geneva (not all by any means) complain that the French come over the border and "steal our jobs" and the "haters" in France rant about the Swiss doing all this complaining while doing their grocery shopping in France and buying up the real estate, thereby pushing the prices up, so it's either a win-win or a lose-lose situation, depending which way you look at it. I know I would never have tried to get away with something like that because apart from the fact that it's just wrong, I even got antsy the very few times I belted up the bus lane because I was late for work. Either way, I suspect a few people have some stinking non-pandemic-induced headaches right now!

Monday 13 April 2020

Half way there?

Well President Macron addressed the nation tonight to let people know the "state of play", or what is and isn't happening regarding the coronavirus situation in France. For starters, what isn't happening is any relaxation of the lockdown. In fact, he more or less said "forget about it until 11 May and we'll talk again then", although I may be paraphrasing somewhat! So while there has been a slight easing in that some garden centres and one DIY place (that I know of) are opening for kerbside pick-up, nothing will change for me at least until 11 May. On that date, all being well, younger children will be going back to school/nursery, although older students facing exams won't be going back until later. He then said that it is now "our turn to help" nations just starting out on this journey, specifically mentioning that France would be doing its best to help African nations and forgiveness of their debt as a way to help. I'm not sure what he means by that exactly but I suspect my taxes are going to be going up either way. Not that I'm complaining, but I reckon higher taxes will be on the horizon for all of us when this is over! He also said that "European borders" would remain closed until further notice. Now whether he meant intra-EU, or including extra-EU I have no idea, but at this point it's a moot point as I'm stuck within 1 km of my home anyway. And now that makes Italy seem so close - and yet so far! It's an odd thing though to see the way that the French President speaks during these TV addresses, ending with vive la France and all that, while the Brits' nightly addresses usually end with a kinda cheerio now or toodle pip! Vive la différence, I guess!

And talking of Italy, I only caught the tail end of Andrea Bocelli's solo performance last night at Milan's Il Duomo cathedral but it was just haunting. I'm a big fan of Andrea anyway, and his performance last night just seemed all the more poignant somehow in these difficult times!

Andrea Bocelli in front of Il Duomo

Other than that I think I'm getting the hang of this doing nothing business. Seriously, I have lots to do but I'm realizing that it's all right to work a bit, sit in the garden and read for an hour, work a bit more, read some more. Stuff is getting done but I'm finally learning to switch from permanent fifth gear to something approaching second/third gear, and I think this lockdown may well have something to do with it! As an aside, while this pandemic is awful I hope some good will come out of it - like people learning to slow down and realizing what is really important. Well that and, as I was saying to my friend today, maybe this enforced kindness to our environment could give us a kick-start into really doing something about climate change and pollution once this is all over, rather than just paying lip service to saving our planet!

I've also been taking the time to catch up with friends, so yesterday I chatted for ninety minutes with an American former neighbour of mine, now living in Ireland, and had a great time catching up with all her news - all the more so as I get the feeling that she managed to get a lot off her chest during that chat. I hope so at least. Her son had planned his wedding in Spain in June and I had been invited. When I told her I didn't know what to do as I wasn't sure what the travel situation would be at that time, she said not to worry as it turns out that since so many people will be having problems (the bride is from the Czech Republic), her son and his gf have postponed their wedding until July 2021! Shame isn't it, but there doesn't seem to be an alternative right now. Then today, in addition to chatting with Jordan and Jen and my friend, I also called my long-time friend - you know, the one I had shared an apartment with when I first arrived in Geneva. Well she was out on her daily walk so we didn't get to chat for too long, but she was saying that, like me, she's strangely ok with this lockdown for the most part, with just the occasional wobble. I asked her if she thought we were weird because neither of us were having too much difficulty coping with the present situation, but she just laughed and said nah, we're just self-contained. And maybe she's right, I really am handling this solitude pretty well, although I suppose the next four weeks could really test that "self-reliance" I guess!

Other than that, I realized that Saturday was the 18th birthday of Alexandre, the son of our neighbours who always join in with our board game evenings. Poor bugger, not able to have a party with his mates. Well I didn't have a card of course, so I made my own and took it over there and he was tickled pink!

I call him "The Emperor" because he always beats me at our quiz games!
Then tonight I had a phone call from my gardener asking if he could come over tomorrow. I was surprised as I had assumed he wasn't allowed to be out working, but I explained that although I had cut my grass myself on Saturday he was welcome to start up again in a couple of weeks' time (phew, that's one man I'm glad to keep in employment)!

And can you believe it's almost a year since the bombings in Sri Lanka? What with all the coronavirus news the bombings weren't mentioned on Easter Sunday, although I'm assuming there will be some mention of it on 21st April, the actual one-year anniversary. It seems unreal and so long ago to me now!

Anyway, to wrap this up, with another month of lockdown I wonder what the chances are of my starting (and sticking to) an exercise routine and losing some weight during the four week period between now and 11 May? Not high I guess, based on previous experience, but it could be an interesting starting point I suppose. Then again, if I can't get to the hairdresser for another month and have to keep resorting to the "home cut", I might need to lose weight in order to take people's attention away from my dreadful haircut!

Don't leave your Easter bunny out in the sun if you don't want to make him cross!

Saturday 11 April 2020

Catching up with friends!

Pre-pandemic, a group of us former colleagues used to get together on a Wednesday evening opposite work for a drink. Maybe six or seven of us if we were all there. Anyway last Wednesday P set up a zoom meeting for a virtual drink and chinwag and it was nice to chat with everyone again after so long and catch up. One friend's daughter had her second baby a week ago in California and her mom would have been out there with her to help out if circumstances had permitted. Another's daughter is working as a doctor in London during the pandemic, while another's daughter is teaching young children in Kenya - remotely at the moment I would imagine. My son helped organize a meeting with 700 participants all done through zoom - quite the achievement when you consider these people would normally be flying in to Geneva from all over the world. I found out that at last count there were 50 cases of infection at work, I believe, although thankfully none serious as yet. It's a strange old world we live in isn't it, when some are doing so much and then others (the likes of me) have to sit and wait it out, just pottering and trying to keep busy/sane!

A totally non-stressed cat in my neighbours' driveway!
And then you've got the cases of people dying who "shouldn't" be dying - young, apparently healthy people, and older people who supposedly have no resistance making it out the other side, like the 99 year old WWII veteran in the UK this week. He will be 100 in July and I hope they have a huge party for him to celebrate. The gent below is 92 (I think) but isn't it gratifying to see the doctors and nurses celebrating their every victory.

I went to my regular store for shopping this week as I can't get everything I need in the "Fresh" store. People were very restrained, some wearing masks and others not, but at least the store provided disinfectant for you to wipe your cart down at the entrance, although I'd already done mine in the parking lot. There was the guy I now recognize as "prowler", who wanders up and down the aisles at speed, going completely against the normal flow of traffic and constantly yelling into his phone - unless he is actually remote controlled and that's the only way his wife can get her shopping done. I had to laugh though as I did see a couple of people wearing coffee filter masks, but hey, why not! Then there was the cop that my kids always used to call Robocop out and about in town trying for all the world to look like Schwarzenegger. I always thought he was a bit weird, all muscles, crew cut and swagger - and then my kids told me he is actually a municipal cop who only directs traffic and is, I suppose, now on the prowl to hand out fines for people without the appropriate paperwork. I don't know how they know him (do I wanna know?) but they don't like him, which is weird because they apparently also know his wife and said she's as nice as he is unpleasant!

They actually had disposable plastic gloves at the store but when I saw that they were asking €10.50 for a box of 100 I put them back, because I was pretty sure I had a box at home, if I could just find them. Well anyway I did find them, and while my packet is probably a couple of years old they actually cost 1.30 Swiss francs for 100!!!! Can you believe that! The dollar, the Swiss franc and the euro are all pretty much on par at the moment and the store wanted over €10 for the same thing I bought not so very long ago for SF 1.30!!!!

In other news, I'm still keeping track of my walking although with the lockdown it's no longer "boots on" (intentional walking) but just keeping track of my daily steps with my pedometre. In a fit of pique I decided to cut the grass again today, but without bagging it this time as it just gets too heavy. In any case I have nowhere to dump the grass with the tip being closed right now, but not bagging made it so much easier. Anyway I actually clocked up six miles today just "puttering", so I'm quite pleased with that, and it takes my yearly total up to 340 miles so far. When I decided to take my rubbish up to the collective bins a bit later, a distance of about 100 metres, it ended up taking me about 30 minutes as I got stopped by three different sets of neighbours for a chat! I was asking one neighbour how her husband was finding it working from home (I used to see him regularly on my commute) and I was a bit surprised when she said how much he hated it! She said he was so used to being on the move and always got a lot of exercise in in his down time that he was now climbing the walls! Add to that, she, like me, believes that when this lockdown is eased a little we will still have to wear masks if we leave our homes and she was complaining that she couldn't find them anywhere. When I told her I'd been making a few and would gladly make washable masks for her and her family you'd have thought I'd just given her a winning lottery ticket! I reckon I'll have them done by tomorrow, although my first attempt today was my usual botch job somehow (cut it out wrong again) so I'm now looking for a kid with a pin-sized head and huge ears to palm it off on!

A couple of the local garden centres are being allowed to open up as of next week "as long as they have been open throughout the lockdown by virtue of the fact that they also sell primary necessities"! So the big store that I particularly like will be open as from Tuesday because they also have an organic shop on site. Not that I'll be able to go there though as it is not local to me and I would get clobbered if I got caught out that way. I think there is one in town that is now open because they also sell a few bottles of olive oil and honey and so on, but it seems kinda unfair to me that the one in the next village is not allowed to open because they only sell plants. I really feel for some of these people who have put so much into their businesses and now cannot sell to the public! If they're still around when this thing ends I'll make sure to support them as much as possible!

Other than that there's not much new here obviously. Doing some sewing this afternoon set off my "trigger finger" and I ended up lopping about two inches of hair off the top of my head, but since I do that on a regular basis I'm glad to have an excuse this time. And finally last night I wasn't particularly tired so when I saw that Absolutely Fabulous - The Movie was on I thought I would stay up and watch it. Well, that's 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back! Talk about a load of rubbish. But you know, I kinda like some of the stuff Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley have done in the series before. It's totally over the top but some of it tickled me. And I have to admit that however unbelievable the so-called plot was, I think I've got a bit of a girl crush on Joanna Lumley (I've always liked her anyway), particularly when she was "disguised" as a man in order to get the world's richest woman to marry her. She makes a fine looking man as far as I'm concerned, although would that be justification for staying up so late and watching the movie again? Nah, never in a million years!

Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous!

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Just plodding along!

Day 21 and things are still plodding along, as they are wont to do in lockdown I suppose. We received a notification from the retirees' association of another retiree death, but as this lady was 100 years old and one day, I doubt very much that covid19 had much to do with her passing. She was a right old tartar from what I can remember, so maybe that's how she came to last quite so long! And then I see dear Boris is now in intensive care. While I don't particularly care for the man as I feel he's basically just so much hot air, I hope he gets better quickly - and of course if he does he'll be bloody unstoppable. I must admit when they had the "applause for the NHS" last Thursday night he didn't look well at all so I guess things went downhill very quickly for him. But I do genuinely hope he gets through this!

I see in related news that certain European countries are starting to think about relaxing the lockdown - specifically Denmark, Austria and the Czech Republic at the moment. I doubt France will be among them any time soon though as by all accounts we haven't hit the peak yet. A common feature of any relaxation of the rules seems to be compulsory wearing of a mask at all times when out in public. I was talking to my neighbour about this and she said she is panicking a little as they don't have any masks (neither do I but I'm not so worried about it). She, however, smoked for I would guess getting on for nearly 50 years (she's 67) until she gave up 15 months ago after hospitalization for severe pneumonia in January last year. Her husband still smokes and one of her grandchildren has Downs Syndrome and is medically fragile, so she was saying how they will need to be very careful when they are allowed out and about and she would need to get hold of masks pretty fast. So I went on Youtube and found what turned out to be a very simple tutorial on how to make your own masks. They recommend three thicknesses of material so I messed around with some of the fabrics that I have, including putting patchwork wadding in. The first mask I used thicker fabric throughout but it was very difficult to sew. The one with the wadding in was also a bit tough to sew, so I think I will stick with the three layers of close-weave cotton - also the easiest to sew. As I say, I have tons of fabric anyway and they were pretty easy to complete in about 15 minutes. My only problem was finding elastic for the sides but then I stumbled upon an old stash and off I went. The first three prototypes I gave to my neighbour (along with a bunch of fabric and wadding) and I've since made three more in case we do, indeed, have to wear them all the time when we are released from purgatory. I took a picture of all the different versions I'd made but when I realized they looked like a bunch of 1960s sanitary towels I thought "nah, maybe not"!

Ready for the operating theatre!

Other than that I've been pottering around getting things done and quite enjoying myself. I've taped up the walls ready for washing and painting the kitchen this week, been potting up some seeds in preparation for planting outside in May and trying to get 30 minutes yoga in every day, although I don't always succeed. My bloody 1,000 jigsaw puzzle is driving me slightly nuts though as it is slow going! Honestly, at this rate I reckon I'll be 76 and three-quarters by the time I get it completed. I also signed up as a local government volunteer and while at the moment there doesn't seem to be anything local enough for me, I'm sure something will come up.

Other than that, the weather is beautiful - shorts and T-shirt weather during the day - so I make sure to spend at least an hour outside reading each day. What has struck me though is that with the relative silence that now envelops our little village I'm so much more aware of the chirping of the birds and the buzzing of the bees in this our new normal. As I was sitting on the back terrace the other night I looked up at the late afternoon sun on the mountains and managed to snap a fairly decent couple of shots of birds on the bird feeders with my phone. I was thinking the other day that yes I still have a lot of travelling left in my blood when this is all over, but until then I'm just so content to be where I am and happy with my lot!

Sunday 5 April 2020

An interesting social experiment!

Lockdown day 20 looks pretty much like every other day in lockdown so far, except for the exciting bit where I get to chose the day I go grocery shopping. I like to change it up a bit so sometimes I go on a Thursday and other times on a Friday - you know, just to keep things real!! Anyway this week I went on Friday and timed it to leave home about noon because I knew there would be hardly anyone at the shops. One thing that still holds true is if you want to invade France you do it at lunchtime! And again things really aren't bad at all, I got everything I wanted and people are still very much respecting the social distancing, probably because the police are out and about and the fines will hurt! That being said, quite a few people have masks on (the store provides plastic gloves) but I don't have one - unless I can find the one I bought ages ago when I intended to paint the kitchen (before my new floor was laid - remember those lofty aims)? Failing that when I "inherited" all my ex-husband's stuff when I ended up emptying his rental after his move back to the States, I did find an unopened pack of Fruit of the Loom undies so I'm wondering if I can just put a pair of those over my head and brazen it out! I did think about taking a photo and sending it to my kids but then thought the better of it because with social media nowadays who knows where that photo could end up!

In Sweden they have still not gone into lockdown and are relying on people's common sense (which may or may not be all that common) to do the right thing and not behave like idiots. So bars, restaurants, schools and so on are still open, with their chief epidemiologist stating that they believe relying on "herd immunity" is the only way to beat this thing. He then went on to criticize the UK's handling of the crisis because they "switched tracks" mid-way though, starting off going with the "herd immunity" plan and then switching to lockdown. In his opinion the UK were going to get the worst of all worlds by doing that. I think he might be right actually but either way I guess someone will be proved right and someone will come up short, but only time will tell which is which!

A friend set up a zoom chat between a few of us retired colleagues on Friday and it was pretty nice, although my computer did keep freezing quite a bit. Either way it was nice to chat with them all. Then Jordan sent me a video of their cat on their lovely balcony (a godsend for them at the moment) being taunted by the birds. He told me that as from tomorrow he is on chômage technique, which is basically being laid off because of the pandemic even though they've got tons of work. They've done all the outside work they can do so they have to lay him off until lockdown is lifted. He told me he should still get 80% of his salary though, so that's a relief. I didn't say anything but in the UK people have to have been on board with the company on 28 February in order to qualify for this kind of payment and that's exactly when Jordan switched jobs. Apparently that doesn't apply in France so I'm relieved for them, although I can always help out if they are hurting. I told him now would be a good time to learn to cook but he said he and a neighbour are thinking of building a permanent BBQ in the park at the back of their house. When I queried how they were going to do this he said they can easily keep their distance and the park is actually private property belonging to their apartments so they can do this with no worries. Then I told him that it was a shame he couldn't come over here as I had a dripping shower and quite a bit of work I could give him. He told me that as a plumber, if the leak was serious and damaging structure, he was allowed to come out, but I told him I'd wait and see how it develops as I don't want to risk him getting into trouble since it's really not that serious (as yet).

Other than that I'm easily keeping myself occupied (or not, depending on the mood). I started doing the wasgij puzzle and it's going to take me forever but I'm quite enjoying it. My Italian teacher sent me more homework and I could always get back to reading about the French revolution in case there is ever a chance of something moving forward on my request for French citizenship. I'm ridiculously excited to see the seedlings I planted are going rampant and am going to go repot some of them already as the weather is so glorious right now. And I'm absolutely loving the Carl Hiassen book I mentioned previously. Frankly any man who can get the phrase "Apparently I murdered a man with a frozen lizard" into a narrative gets my vote hands down. So with that I'll love you and leave you. Off to shower (so as not to frighten the natives) and then attack that bloody whirlygig with a pair of underpants on my head!

Friday 3 April 2020

Odds and sods!

Well I guess like most people, there isn't an awful lot going on chez moi! There's only so much you can do within the confines of four walls anyway isn't there. But on day 18 of total lockdown I'm still ok. Feeling a bit sorry for myself yesterday but nah, that'll soon pass. And we are so, so lucky that the weather is beautiful. I can open all the windows and dry my washing outside, although having just pulled the whirlygig clothes dryer out and tried to get that thing sorted may just be what does me in. Those things are evil! Or maybe I really am just losing it because I can't get it sorted right now so maybe the best solution is to walk away right. I have been putting my washing out on my balcony and you get almost the same wonderful fresh air smell as being on a washing line. Then I decided to hang my bed linen over the balcony pending getting the whirlygig sorted, so it really does look a bit like a street in Naples at the moment but who cares. I was thinking the other day although I have a dryer I doubt that I use it once a year - round here people just don't use dryers. The washing gets hung on drying racks or out on the whirlygig thingy but not bunged in the dryer, and you know what, it's lovely that way. Everything just smells so fresh. Add to that the sunflower seeds I planted the other week are starting to come through and a few lettuce seeds and all almost feels good with the world!

As for local news, the Swiss have clamped down their borders even more, so I couldn't go into Switzerland now even if I wanted to. My oldest has to go back in to the office as from next week but as they live in Switzerland he will have no problem. Jordan and Jen are both still working and that's a good thing I think, Jen because she's a nurse and Jordan, as a plumber can work throughout and I believe they'll be relatively safe if they follow the right protocol. Jordan told me that they are mostly just his company working on huge projects and mostly outside so fingers crossed. There's going to be a sad day of financial reckoning at some point anyway isn't there, in addition to the horrendous physical toll but hopefully that can all be dealt with appropriately at a later date!

In French news I was reading the other day that so far the French have issued over 360,000 fines to people being out and about without the appropriate paperwork so at a rough estimate of €135 per fine that, hopefully, will pump almost €48 million back into the economy. As for life "in real time", I just went out shopping today and everything was fine. A little bit busier at the Fresh store maybe but still fine thankfully. I was looking at the UK news the other day and already there is a significant increase in incidents of domestic violence. Here in France too I imagine because the other day I received a message to say that if I needed to I could dial 114 "under any circumstances" and there would be a response from the gendarmerie. Sad isn't it, but I think we all knew that was coming!

And I see that the NHS Nightingale hospital has just been opened in London. Built in just two weeks with four thousand critical care beds it's a great tribute to just what can be done isn't it.

My nephew got in touch with me yesterday to see how I was. I image it's "look after the old biddy" syndrome but given that he is only six years younger than me I may be being unkind. He was saying that he was working from home and it was non-stop, and while he had tons of time available to him and loads of projects that needed doing he couldn't do any of them because the stores were shut. So I told him to put aside his socialist ideals and order stuff from Amazon (or wherever) and he admitted he hadn't actually thought of that! Hey, if I can support local businesses so much the better but if, in the meantime, I need to use Amazon I don't have a problem with that - it surely keeps someone in a job, however crappy that job might be.

And talking of Amazon I decided to give my (former) mother-in-law a call the other night to see how she was doing. She's 84 and not in the best of health so you can imagine how the conversation went but while we've had our moments I've always been very fond of my MIL (and pap too, although he died nine years ago). She was telling me how wonderful it was to see Jordan again after nine years, and to meet his wife "in the flesh", and while they couldn't always communicate directly it was lovely. Jordan told me she kept saying "I love ya honey" over and over again, and that makes it all worthwhile doesn't it. Then she mentioned that did I remember McLaren farm, just up over the ridge from her (no, not really) but apparently it had been bought out by Amazon and they were going to build a huge warehouse up there (right near Pittsburgh airport) and were taking out the forests in the meantime. And then a neighbour had wandered over to her place and said that he had seen a bear down at the bottom of her property, and a couple of days later two other bears running across the road, no doubt displaced by the tree-felling to build the new warehouse. So "can you imagine, he's seen three bears in two days". When I asked her if any of them had a bowl of porridge in their paws she just cracked up laughing. We always did get along and I ended up with a 90 minute phone call which was well worth it for her to get (I think) a lot of things off her chest and a good laugh to boot! She had told me that she was pretty bored as she couldn't go out so I went on Amazon and ordered her a copy of a book I had heard was pretty good (although I haven't read it myself yet, even though I have it) and a jigsaw puzzle also. Just anything to kill time I guess. 

In other news I got my grass cut the other day. Took me an hour to get the bloody lawnmower started and just 45 minutes for me to fly across that thing and do the deed. But at least now I know why I don't want to do it myself anymore. I don't have a lot of land but the land that I have isn't flat and if I can pay someone to do that crap then so be it. And then when I saw on the British news that the wild goats up on the Orme in north Wales had started coming down into Llandudno and eating away at people's private gardens it just tickled me. We didn't get to go up the Great Orme when I was home for my brother's funeral but I will definitely get to it at some time.

Then yesterday I received a notification from FB regarding a request for people to volunteer to sew scrubs for the local hospital so I forwarded that to my sewing club and hopefully we'll be churning those out soon enough.

But finally, did anyone see the latest press conference from the White House. The Kushner BS??? Seriously??? I actually can't bear to listen to any of the tangerine buffoon's speeches any more but then to have him delegate contractual purchasing of masks and other protective equipment to Jared??? But the worst part was Jared then gave a speech (as much as I could bear to listen to it) and vomited out words to the effect that "people need to think, when they are electing their mayors, governors, president, etc. who will be the best person to deal with this in the event of a crisis"! Damn, since when did Kushner do stand up comedy?