The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Thursday 30 July 2020

Damn it's hot!

It hit 40°C here today (104F). It can and does get up to 45 - not for long, admittedly, but damn it's miserable! Yesterday I drove over to see my friend. I had a second birthday gift that arrived after his birthday so we arranged to meet up and have lunch together. After that, since I'm on a "walking" drive, I suggested we went out walking. Now he lives at the foot of the Jura mountains, which are absolutely beautiful. They are totally different to the alps - more brooding whereas the alps are more majestic, in my opinion - but he never goes up there to walk. He walks much more than I do but not in the mountains. While we were walking he commented that "this is uphill" - er nah, it was the equivalent of one step up - but then he's 13 years older than me so I guess whatever works for him. That being said, after about 30 minutes he took one look at my face (remember "puce") and said "let's go back, you look dreadful"! So we made our way back to his place where I stripped off and had an ice cold shower. I told you I looked bad when I walk. That being said, for a couple of months it is really miserable here. The heat is appalling and we generally don't have AC so we put up with it. I've had a couple of cold showers already today so we'll see how it goes tonight. I also made the mistake of telling him I'd like to lose 17 kg (40lbs) by Christmas so I'm guessing he's gonna hold my feet to the fire!

In other news, I don't know if it's due to covid or just in general but by golly there are a lot of bees and butterflies around at the moment. I have a buddleia (arbre à papillons - a butterfly tree) by my front door and it is heaving with butterflies and bees right now - just so lovely. I asked my friend if he had noticed and he agreed there really were a lot more butterflies, at least, now than previously.

In my bid to switch to a more vegetarian/vegan lifestyle I ordered two bottles of vitamins (mainly B12) off Amazon the other day, as I understand B12 is one of the main vitamins likely to be missing if you switch to a vegan diet. Trouble is, when I opened my mailbox the Amazon parcel was in very poor shape and there was only one bottle in the package. So I contacted Amazon to explain my problem and I have to say their customer service was excellent. I explained that it was a "packing" problem as far as I could see, but the young woman got back to me and told me to keep the one bottle I had but that they would credit me the entire amount! I replied that I had indeed received one bottle but she said not to worry, and bingo they credited me back the entire amount. Now say what you like about big business (and I'm all for supporting small businesses) but their customer service is excellent. Well done Amazon!

And I mentioned my ex's FB page yesterday - well guess what? Today I got a "friend request" from what would appear to be a newly-created FB page by my ex. I have no idea what he's doing (he was probably three sheets to the wind when he created it anyway), but he got his date of birth right except that he put that he was born in 1992 - the year our second son was born. I just deleted it. I don't think it's a scam but I do wonder why he is creating a second FB page in the first place. Hmmmmm! Maybe all isn't well in schmoopieland!

Then just a few minutes ago I got a call from Jen asking if I would like to have lunch with them all on Saturday (of course I would) and André asked if I would go through his divorce paperwork with him to see that he hadn't missed anything. No problem there for me - I read everything before I sign it anyway - and so should he!

And finally, I may be a bit late to the party but I just discovered Jordan Rabjohn on Youtube. I tried posting a video on here but it doesn't seem to work. Anyway, if you can be bothered, look up this young man. He is a talented singer and musician - but his mother's voice is out of this world - something he readily admits! Try listening to "Rise up" by Jordan Rabjohn. They seem to have a lovely relationship. He definitely has the gift of the gab and she seems like so much fun. Damn, I wish I had a talent or a passion like that!

Tuesday 28 July 2020

The road not taken!

My ex and I can still see each other's FB posts but to be honest neither of us post that much. It's just a way, for me at least, to keep in touch with friends and family. I post once in a while - just things that interest me or maybe shots of the kids so that my family can see what's going on in our lives. He tends not to post for a while and then maybe 3-4 posts in one night. And sometimes I just shake my head at what he posts! Not so long ago he did the "ooo-raa marine corps" thing praising a bunch of female US soldiers. Trouble was, even I could see that they weren't American soldiers - they were Israelis. There's no way the US would have allowed the pony tails and scruffy appearance on these ladies (who were probably doing their military service), and somebody pointed that out to him. Then yesterday he posted another "drively" post about 18 year olds - then and now. Then (during WWII) 18 year olds (and younger) went off to war. Now 18 year olds - the snowflake generation (dixit my ex) - would always seem to be mortally wounded if someone stares at them the wrong way. So the post said something like "During WWII this 18 year old would have landed at Normandy, while today's 18 year old will probably have a nervous breakdown if his iphone won't work". Not totally word-for-word but you get the gist of it. I had to laugh when someone commented on his post saying that he doubted very much that the then 18 year old ever saw Normandy because it was a Russian soldier!!! Oh dear, I do wish he wouldn't post such drivel - or at least think about it beforehand! Still, it's not my problem if he looks a fool is it. I also hate the FB posts where people post something "sensitive" and then say "share if you dare" or "I bet you won't share this". Well they got that right because I never share those posts. Like how we're supposedly no longer allowed to say "merry Christmas" but will be obliged to say "happy holidays" in future. It's all a bunch of crap but so many people quote this stuff as if it's the Bible! I remember reading once about how the EU had supposedly invoked health and safety concerns in order to oblige "all trapeze artists to wear a crash helmet", by law. It was all a crock of ... made up by a bunch of drunken journalists in a bar in Brussels! Moral of this story? Don't believe, or better yet, don't repost all the crap you read on FB!

Anyway, on to other things. Despite my best intentions I yet again did not get up at the crack of dawn to go walking (no surprise there then). On Sunday the kids went to a place called the lac de Passy, which is probably 20-30 minutes down the road from Jordan and Jen. It's really lovely apparently and since I reckon I've never been there I decided that would be the destination for my walk today. Trouble is, I must have typed too many "ass"es into my GPS so instead of ending up at the lac de Passy I ended up at the Plâteau d'Assy! Nothing seriously wrong with that but it really wasn't where I was heading. If memory serves me right I last went up to the Plâteau d'Assy about 10 years ago in my camper van. My ex took our camper in the divorce (I got the kids) and so I bought myself a second-hand one for my own use. It ended up being a waste of money actually because my heart was no longer in it and in any case going camping on my own wasn't really my idea of fun. Nevertheless I did spend a couple of nights up at the plâteau and it was just fabulous to wake up to such a wonderful view, even if I had no-one to share it with! From there you get a full on view of the Mont Blanc and it is just breath taking!

You can't see it because of the cloud, but the Mont Blanc is
behind the darker mountain to the right!

The Mont Blanc stands at 4,810 metres
(pity you can't see it - you can just see it's snow "apron")!

I had packed a small backpack with water, sunscreen and so on but when I got out the car I realized that I had once again left my hiking boots by the front door! Bloody hell! Here I was all ready to go and all I had on my feet was a pair of flipflops! So what do you do? I knew that there was a pretty little lake just a little further down the road so I figured I'd take the risk of looking like a tourist and toddle down there for a stroll, but sticking to the roads as I didn't dare risk my flipflops on the proper hiking trail. It was actually pretty busy down at the lake oddly enough, but with most of the cars being registered out of state!

Le Lac Vert - the green lake

As it had been threatening storms all afternoon I decided I had better head back up to the plâteau and oddly enough I found it easier going back uphill than going downhill - my footwear might have had something to do with that! Again, as usual, the first 10 minutes are hard and then I get into the swing of it - I just wish I didn't go quite so puce in the face though. You know how people with fair skin get that bright red thing going, well what with that and the sweat pouring off me I had the look of an electrified tomato by the time I got to the top, despite not feeling bad at all! I just looked like I was going to have a coronary!

On the way back up!

When I was almost at the top I noticed this car with Dutch licence plates. I'd noticed the "tent on top of the car" on the way down but on the way back I realized that there really was a fully set up tent on the roof of the car with a ladder leading to the top for them to climb in! I say "them" but in fact it turned out to be just one Dutch lady (as I deduced by the fact that there was only one bike and one bike rack) so she must have been travelling around on her own. I don't know if I'd ever be mad enough to do something like that (I like to think I would), but hats off to her anyway. Then I had all the "where does she wash if she isn't in a camp site" thing going on, but I'm sure she's got all that covered - the Dutch usually do!

Yep, her sleeping quarters are actually on top of the car!

Anyway, as a reward for my endeavours I sat and had a glass of wine while admiring the view and reading my book. A French lady about the same age as me, or maybe a little younger, sat at the table next to me and also had a glass of wine while reading her book. Sadly that's where the similarities ended because she had all the right hiking gear (anti-sweat, anti-rain, anti-just about everything), she wasn't puce in the face and her hair just looked "casually windswept"! I said au revoir to her as I got up to leave, desperately hoping she wouldn't notice my sweaty back and that my flipflops wouldn't make the same farting noise they'd made all the way back up the road! No such luck! God, sometimes I hate the French!

Monday 27 July 2020

Hot, hot, hot!

No surprise there but it's bloody hot. Yesterday I thought I'd finally better get in my "pool" (ha, ha) in order to clean the bottom of it. I've kept up with the chlorine and ran the filter but there were still a few leaves and things that needed scraping off the bottom so in I went - and very pleasant it was too. Pleasant, if not pretty! That being said, it was hot and I can definitely feel the heat on my skin now, even though I was only in there about 30 minutes. When I got out I sat on my sunbed (in the shade) to read (more like nod off actually) when all of a sudden I heard a whoosh and a small bird had fallen into the pool. He was struggling to get out so I very gently reached in, lifted him out and sat him down under a bush - and the frickin' black and white cat that I bloody hate screeched in and ripped his head off! Bloody thing - I hate that cat! I don't hate all cats, in fact next door's adopted feral cat is gorgeous, but there's something about this one that I didn't like from the beginning, and ripping that poor bird's head off did nothing to endear him to me!

As for the rest of this post, it's just a mish-mash of thoughts because that's the way my brain is working at the moment! I see the troll/bots are out and about again. Just in case, no I do not want to join the illuminati and as for Mr. "Die Boomers Die" - just piss off you inadequate little twat. I've said before I imagine him to be a 40 year old virgin sitting in his underpants in mommy's basement spewing his venom as and when. It won't get through anyway but keep on truckin' sunshine!

In other news, did anyone else see the lovely news item about the female teacher in a slum area of Brazil who was going round visiting/checking up on her students and bringing them bags of candy? What a lovely lady, but you know, when you see how these children live and what children in wealthier parts have without necessarily being any happier, it puts things in perspective somewhat doesn't it!

I was reading on CNN the other day about the horrific murder of three friends out fishing in Florida. I guess it caught my eye because it was in Polk County and that was where our home was located. It's hard to imagine the cruelty of the three perpetrators isn't it, but when you consider that the 26 year old ringleader already has 260 felony offences against him maybe it's not so hard to imagine after all!

The local bus company I have done so many trips with seems to be up and running again and organizing outings, but so far most of the trips are places I've already been and/or am happy to drive to anyway. I'm looking forward to booking a vacation at some point in the future but don't particularly want to do it just yet as (a) it's lovely here in summer and relatively uncrowded, and (b) I'd rather give this pandemic "thingy" time to calm down, so maybe next spring. Who knows! And talking of this "pandemic thingy", I'm currently reading a book called Eating Animals by Jonathan Saran Foer which was written in 2009. I'm not sure if he's a vegan or a vegetarian but it's a very well-researched book making the case against factory farming (of course) and for going meat-free - which is something that interests me more and more. Check out this one sentence which, as I say, was written in 2009:

"The second public health concern is the more particular one: humans are setting the conditions for the creation of the superpathogen of all superpathogens, a hybrid virus that could cause a repeat, more or less, of the Spanish flu of 1918."

More and more I'm becoming convinced that going meat-free is the way to go, both from a health point of view, an anti-cruelty point of view and in order to help heal the environment (as much as that can be achieved at this point). I'm not ready to go vegan yet but I'm very interested in and somewhat convinced by the arguments for it so who knows. So to that end, for the last 10 days I've been eating 100% vegetarian. I've done it before on a couple of occasions many years ago and felt so good that I wonder why I ever went back to eating meat. More to the point, I feel like meat today - even organic meat - tastes like nothing unless jizzed up with sauces, because of the crap that is pumped into the animal and the stress caused due to the inhumane conditions in which so many of them live. I love fruit, veg and pulses anyway so skipping the meat hasn't been difficult, although I've gone off the idea of making my own "burgers" out of black beans and what have you. All that combining stuff just ends up looking like different coloured mush to me, so every day I've been making a different vegetarian dish and just adding it to the fridge downstairs. Black bean and garlic tofu, sweet and sour braised aubergine (really good), dry potato curry, garlic mushrooms. It's working out quite well at the moment, although there's quite a preponderance of garlic so it's probably just as well I live alone right? I'm not going to be really strict about whether, or for how long, I continue eating like this, but I'm certainly having no difficulties at the moment so we'll see!

The lady at the Mairie was as good as her word and hand-delivered both André and my attestations of residence the other day so that's one more thing crossed off André's list. He dropped his car off at Ford on Friday because it's going to need some work for it to pass the contrôle technique (roadworthiness certificate) so he asked to borrow my car to go into Geneva on Friday night. I tell ya, I was so glad when my kids moved out because I finally got to sleep properly without having one ear out for them coming home. Not that he slept at my place of course, but since he was out in my car I didn't turn my phone to "do not disturb" that night just in case!! I know, how daft is that? He moved out 10 years ago and I haven't worried about him since, but once a mother always a mother I guess!

In other news I'm dead impressed with my medical insurance. I submitted my gynae and dentist bills, plus a bill for prescription medication on Wednesday morning via phone app and by Thursday morning I'd received the reimbursement in my bank account! Gosh that's efficient!

I'd also like to do a shout out to Cheapchick and Ms Moon, both of whom are going through health difficulties at the moment. Sending you both good vibes ladies!

And finally, on checking my walking log for 2020 I've actually gone over 1,000 km walked in 2020 so far despite the lockdown. Now 1,000 km is not 1,000 miles of course (I need to add another 600 km to get there) but I'm quite proud all the same considering I didn't go out walking at all during lockdown. Today I decided to take a drive over to see André at Jordan's place as I had made a 7-layer salad that they all like and then planned to go up to a place called les Brasses. But, it was 37°C (98°F) when I left André so decided it would be pretty stupid to head up to the mountains and almost certain sunstroke in that heat. Instead I drove up to a pretty little lake nearby called lac de la Tour and walked round that instead as half of it is in the shade. After about an hour's walk I got back to the parking lot and spotted a little drinks stand so decided to sit there for a while. So over a glass of white wine I sat and read my book or watched the people playing crazy golf or boules. It's a lovely little spot because it's out of the way and not exactly touristy. So I'm pleased to say I got 12,000 steps in today towards my next 600 km all the while feeling like I was actually on vacation. Who knows, maybe I'll have a shot at going on a different walk every day this week to try to make up for missed opportunities!

Playing boules off to the left

Lac de la Tour

Thursday 23 July 2020

Keep on truckin'!

There's not a lot going on here at the moment. It's hot (in the 30s/90s) but at least it's not humid like in Geneva, and if I sit upstairs in my TV room I can get a through breeze going by opening my windows which is quite pleasant (so far). Still, I tend to lose my oomph in this weather so there's a lot of reading in the back garden going on too. At least in this weather I put my washing out this morning and by the time I was showered and ready to go grocery shopping everything was bone dry. It's a definite plus!

I stopped in at the Fresh store in Bonneville first thing and man do I love that store. As the name suggests, they only sell fresh items, so no canned goods, washing powder or stuff like that, but all their goods are reasonably priced and absolutely beautiful. After picking up a few other things in my regular store I stopped down at the Thursday morning market in town for a wander and then walked up to the home of my former neighbours to drop off a gift for their new baby. A couple of years ago they moved into central La Roche, just a five minute walk from the train station which, in retrospect was a very smart move. When I first visited their house I didn't really like it from the outside. In fact, seeing only the outside I wouldn't even have bothered to set up a viewing as it looks really drab. However, once you get inside the house it is spread out over three floors, with really quiet, spacious and airy rooms and the back garden has a lovely view of the River Foron and the mountains behind my house - and I'm really impressed. It just goes to show I guess, that you really can't tell a book by its cover. Sylvie and Pierre have two older children (currently staying with grandparents) and the latest little one who is just 12 days old and a real little peanut. Very pretty but so tiny! So I asked Pierre how it was working out for him catching the train into Geneva every day and was blown away when he said that at the moment he's cycling in!!!! Say what??? It's 30 km from home to work and he says it takes him about 75 minutes in the morning and around 90 in the evening, the advantage of where they live being that if he is tired he can always catch the train back in the evening. It's so weird because I was telling him that I was getting fairly frequent dreams (well nightmares actually) for a while wherein I had cycled in to work in the morning (ha, as if) and then was really struggling to ride home! If there's a significance to those dreams I haven't figured it out yet. Anyway, Pierre was telling me that he had bought himself a new, lightweight bike to take advantage of the offer being made by the town of a €400 credit to all locals in order to encourage them to cycle. Now I had read vaguely that La Roche was offering a credit to all taxpayers (which includes me) on any new bike bought at one of three local cycle shops, but I hadn't given it much thought. Who knows - maybe I will look it up. This year, cycling from my village to the next (about 5 km) and next year - who knows - Tour de France here I come!

On Tuesday we were forewarned that the mains water was going to be turned off as they were replacing all our water meters. I was told that they would be coming to my place at 2.15 p.m. so I was rather glad that I had got up and showered early as they knocked on my door at 8.30 a.m. I was also glad I had filled up a few bottles of water the night before, as well as a bucket to flush the toilet with as I was without water until 4 p.m. It only took 10 minutes to change my meter but the young man that did mine realized I was a Brit and wanted to practice speaking English so off we went. Now his English was pretty good and he was really sweet, but maybe his English wasn't quite as good as I thought because going on for 4 p.m. I mentioned to my neighbour that it was taking a long time to put the water back on and she said "it's been on since mid-day" - he hadn't quite got the message across that after they'd turned the mains back on I had to go down to my basement and turn it back on myself!

Then last night I actually got round to watching the final episode of The Sopranos. I enjoyed the series although my goodness it was violent and their treatment of the women in their lives - whether it be the strippers, their mistresses or their wives - was truly appalling. I suspect that was the way it really was - and maybe still is. Who knows! But apart from the violence I enjoyed it for the most part and while Tony Soprano was a sociopathic monster James Gandolfini managed to portray a more vulnerable side to him as well. But the point of mentioning all this is that in the very last episode they are in the middle of all-out gang warfare and Tony Soprano is just waiting for them to come for him. In the last scene the Soprano family are meeting up to eat in a diner and Tony Soprano finally gets killed - or maybe he doesn't! You don't know because they leave you on a cliffhanger. Quite by chance I happened to see a couple of Youtube clips explaining what this last scene was all about and it was really interesting. They pointed out that every time a new person walked into the diner the bell over the door rang - and Tony looked up because he was on edge. When one young man walked in, he walked full-on into the camera, that being the way (apparently) that the director shows the importance of that particular character. Then they changed camera angles and showed where Tony's daughter should have been sitting - and indeed would have been sitting if she hadn't had trouble parking her car, and the fact that she was delayed left any would-be killer with a free shot at Tony. I guess I had always just kinda thought "oh you point the camera and the director shouts action", but the way they explained all these Hitchcock-esque manipulations and how they lead the viewer down one line of thinking or another was really interesting. I suppose I hadn't given it much thought before but I never realized just how much goes into making a good movie!

And finally, a US blogger whose blog I really enjoy has started putting out Hallowe'en decorations (!!!) and said that she had already received her first Hallowe'en catalogues in the mail! Say what??? I can't believe it - surely not. Here's me sweating cobs in rural France and now I'm being reminded it's only how many days to Christmas?

Monday 20 July 2020


Yesterday I decided it was going to be a day for doing not much at all. My idea of heaven is to spend a day reading and I think I'm finally getting there. I had made a few dishes a couple of days before while experimenting so I didn't even have to think about cooking - so it was bum on seat and off you go. I swear I spent four hours reading on Sunday, all the while knowing I didn't have to be anywhere or do anything - and it was lovely, although I still have that "guilty" thingy going on for some reason!

While I was reading my neighbour wandered over and said that her daughter, Mathilde, had invited me down for an apéro and if I was interested they would be going down to her house at around 4 pm. To put this in perspective, when I had my second son this neighbour, Marylène, approached me and asked if I would be interested in having her look after him when I went back to work. Now I would have given my right arm to stay home with my kids but it wasn't to be since I earned more than my ex-husband and it was me that had all the expat benefits. So I jumped at the chance. Initially I thought I would be jealous but when I saw how happy he was with her and her family and how much he was loved all that jealousy vaporized. Now she and her husband had two children who were 12 and 14 when Jordan was born - Mathilde (12) and Seb (14) so Jordan grew up with them as older brothers and sisters. And so did André actually, since when I was at work during the summer holidays they looked after both kids. So both my kids grew up knowing and loving this family!

Anyway, in January of this year Mathilde married an Englishman, Ben, who she met at work in Switzerland, so when they got married Ben had to go through the whole "post-Brexit" shenanigans of moving from Switzerland to France to move into the home he and Mathilde had bought together. So the other day André was saying to me how complicated it was importing his car into France from Switzerland so I told him to give Ben a call. He was just a couple of months ahead of André and could tell him what he had had to do to get his car and belongings into France. So long story short, Mathilde and Ben invited Jordan, Jen and André for lunch on Sunday. The house that they had bought had a swimming pool so when we got there the atmosphere was fairly popping!

Now Ben's dad, Chris, has lived in France for about 20 years I guess, further south, in a lovely area near Montpellier where I studied when I was 19. Ben's mom died last year of lung cancer so Chris has spent more time "further north" with Ben to overcome his loneliness. Anyway, when I got there Chris and André were in full throttle talking about UK/US politics and Chris was absolutely cracked up laughing. I had forgotten how funny André could be, to be honest. Well both of them. André and Jordan are great mimics and very politically minded so if you think "Talking Heads", you've got a rough idea of what they're like!

Anyway, I sat with Chris for a while as we discussed the merits (none) of Brexit for us Brits in France and then I asked him how he was doing. He told me ok, but that he missed something. So I said, "I bet that's human touch isn't it?" and he said "what made you say that?" So I said, "that's what my brother said after losing his wife of 51 years"! So he and I got to talking and he ended up crying laughing when I told him my stories of internet dating. Now, it's different for me, I'm divorced and was very happy to be so, but he was widowed so not the same thing. So I told him that I had a very good experience of internet dating, meeting maybe eight guys for dinner or just a coffee, with just one weirdo. So we ended up composing an internet dating profile for him and he just cracked up. I don't know if he will use it but it certainly felt good to make him laugh again!

So today I decided to take a trip down to Annecy to go shopping. The other day, at our AGM, I learned that our former neighbours had had a new baby that very day (he's French, she's German) so I wanted to get a gift for them and thought Annecy would be the place to go. Actually, while Geneva is beautiful, I still think Annecy is more stunning. Trouble is, while it is stunning, it also gets very crowded along the lake so when the lockdown was lifted the Mayor of Annecy very wisely (in my opinion) decided to delay lifting lockdown around the lake until it could be determined how the virus was evolving. OK, whether people went into the mountains or not was outside his remit, but the lake definitely was. And so the lake was beautiful - but abandoned for the time being. But now, it's open to everyone so off I went for a wander and God it's beautiful!

Lake Annecy

The "pointy" building is the old prison, first mentioned
in 1325!

Château de Menthon Saint Bernard, above lake Annecy

So after a wander round central Annecy I headed off to the hypermarket there to get a few things I can't get locally. I do this maybe a couple of times a year but I don't think I would bother more often. I know my local supermarkets/markets and can't see me heading down to Annecy to go grocery shopping in order to save a couple of euros.

When I arrived there there was a big sign saying that masks were mandatory. Apparently they have become mandatory since today (20 July) but since I don't have French TV I didn't realize. Anyway, not to worry, as I had a couple of masks in my bag. Again, what I hadn't realized until I looked it up, is that now it is mandatory to wear masks in enclosed public spaces, otherwise the fines start at €135 a pop. Good on them, I don't have a problem with that. My only problem is that since I don't have French TV I might have missed it. Oh well!

As I was driving back home I realized how relaxed I was, and how much I appreciate not having to rush anywhere any more - one of the great joys of being retired I guess. So then I sat out in my garden reading and I realized how much I had missed the buzzing of the bees and the amazing butterflies that are now coming round my back terrace. Maybe due to the lockdown and no more pollution - who knows!

Saturday 18 July 2020

Feral People!

Last night we held our latest board game evening up at Valérie's house, which is in the shadow of the Môle mountain. Her house is at 1,200 metres altitude so we knew it would be chillier up there, but although the sky was cloudy the peaceful bucolic atmosphere was just lovely. Her partner, Marc, had taken himself off hiking and was intending to camp overnight further up the mountain (they are both avid walkers/hikers) so it was just Valérie and one of her daughters - Marianne - who, it turns out, was an absolute blast!

Isabelle and I were asking Valérie how long it took to hike up the Môle and she said she could make it up to the Petit Môle in about 30 minutes, and the Grand Môle in about an hour - so you can probably double that for me then! Jordan and Jen live in St. Jeoire, which is on the other side of the Môle, and while it's not a particularly high mountain it's not the easiest of hikes, so if I'm thinking of going up there I'll need to get some practice in I should think. Anyway, once again there was waayyy too much food but we had a lovely evening, getting home at around 2 a.m. and with me getting to bed at 3 a.m.!

The Môle

I guess it's just as well we only do this occasionally, as I still had to be up this morning in order for me and André to go to the Mairie in my village to register him as living in France before the "Brexit" deadline expires on 31 December. Anyway, I made it to the Mairie on very little sleep and explained André's situation to her - that he was getting divorced and moving back in to France and we needed to register my home as his new place of residence for the time being. She was very nice and said she would do us both an attestation - my last one is now about six months old - but she would need a photocopy of André's ID. So he whips out his US passport! When I asked where his British passport was he said he thought he must have forgotten it at Jordan and Jen's!!! So the upshot was she asked him to email her a copy of his British passport and she would prepare the attestations and drop them in my mailbox since it was on her way home! Isn't that nice - it's definitely one of the benefits of living in a small village!

So we came back to my place for lunch and I went through his budget with him so he could get a better handle on how things will work out financially both before and after he gets his own place. It's not that he's stupid but he always left "all that" to Lily - which is always a big mistake, I think, for only one person to know what's going on with the finances. Then he was rummaging though the mess of papers in his backpack while we were writing out a list of "next moves" and he pulled out a photocopy of his British passport saying he'd have to give that to the Mairie in Switzerland when he informed them he was moving out! So I said "oh the British passport you didn't have one hour ago to give to the lady at the French Mairie"? and he went "oh crap" and dashed back off there just in time to give her a copy before closing! Kids!!! Still, at that point I'd already put together a folder for him with different tabs so he should find it easier to work his way through all this now that his papers are in order. I don't actually think he's thick - I think it's just that he's finding it a bit overwhelming at the moment. Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

In other news, my friend and her sister are off to Spain on Monday house-hunting. Her sister had been married to an American (now divorced) and living in New Hampshire these past 20-odd years. Having just been made redundant (as a Spanish teacher) and with her last child now enlisted in the US Air Force, she decided now was the time to move back to Europe as she had always wanted to go back to Spain to live. Then of course, Brexit intervened, followed by bloody covid, so instead of flying out to Spain in March she has been stuck here in France with my friend for the last seven months. Anyway, as they are heading to Spain on Monday so that she can establish residence before 31 December, I went over to pick up my friend's house keys as our local commune is replacing all our water meters on Tuesday. Can you believe it, her sister brought her beloved labrador dog over with her from the States, he survived the flight and has been having a whale of a time walking in the mountains while they've been blocked here. But, three days ago the dog became really lethargic and suddenly developed lumps on his haunches so they took him to the vet in town and it turns out pup had a cancerous tumour on his spleen which had burst, and they could give him no hope! Bloody hell, he was only seven so I think it has come as a tremendous shock for them both having to have the dog put down two days ago - especially after all he'd just been through!

And I don't know if you remember one (or several) of my previous posts about my going walking and there being a nasty dog further up the mountain on one of my walks that had me really spooked. He wasn't fenced in so I always assumed there was an electric collar involved, but either way I did not like that dog and indeed stopped walking round that area. Well anyway, my Jehovah's Witness neighbours with the arthritic old dog that used to crap in my garden - remember them? - well while I dislike shit-shovelling in my back garden for someone else's dog, the dog was actually quite sweet. It turns out that the husband was walking this dog up at the back of our houses and the nasty dog must have found a way past the electric wiring (or his collar became "uncharged"), because it came charging at my neighbour and savaged the elderly arthritic dog so badly that she also had to be put down, despite the best attempts of my neighbour to fend the other dog off. He and his wife were obviously distraught and when the husband went back to speak to the "evil" dog's owner he told him to get the f... off his land or the dog would kill him too!!!!! I don't know what happened after that but "evil dog" has disappeared (most likely put down) but seriously??? I know it's not usually the dogs that are evil, it's the owners, but some people are just unbelievable, all the more so when you see the picture of that poor little lad who got mauled in the States recently defending his sister against another out-of-control dog! Just like some people shouldn't be allowed to breed, some people shouldn't be allowed to keep dogs don't you think!

Brave six-year-old Bridger Walker

Friday 17 July 2020

The Latte Factor!

I'm not quite sure where this week went as it seems I was running somewhere or other every day for the past 10 days. I had my annual doctor's appointment in Geneva on Wednesday and what a nightmare it is to drive in there now. I know they're trying to have the tram network meet up with the new trans-border express train, but at the moment it's hell. Then, since I was going to see my friend (his birthday was 14th) I had to cross town and arriving down by the lake I only just managed to slam my brakes on as an idiot reversed out of a parking space into two lanes of traffic. At least this time I found the car horn (I usually hit the wipers which does absolutely nothing to vent my frustration) but damn it was close. It was all the more stupid since those two lanes are actually controlled by traffic lights so if he had just waited until we hit a red light he wouldn't have had everyone giving him the finger. Then of course I had forgotten that Wednesday is market day in central Geneva so all the traffic is diverted into little side roads, thus creating more chaos. I tell ya, now I know why I quit work - even assuming I didn't before!

Then the next day I had the dentist for a check-up and it was brought home to me just what a dangerous profession that is right now. Oh she had her usual mask and gloves on but when you think they're spraying water into your mouth and it's then splashing back up at them - crikey - I would say that's really one of the more fraught professions at the moment. She did give me a disinfectant drink which I had to hold in my mouth for 30 seconds (before spitting out - my name's not Trump) but that was the only difference over the usual scenario. Still, at least now it's done and I walked out of there not needing any treatment but with my lips sticking to my newly-scoured teeth and the resultant ever-so-flattering gopher smile!

He does look like he could do with a good cleaning though doesn't he!

As I'd got some time to kill before meeting up with my friend I decided to throw all caution to the wind and get a Starbucks to go! I haven't been to Starbucks (or any kind of coffee house) for about three/four years so just this one wouldn't break the bank. But man oh man I can see why they tell you to quit the latte factor if you're trying to save money. I ordered just a regular iced coffee, which was basically one shot of coffee, a bucket full of water and a ton of ice. It was crap - and all that for the hair-curling price of SF7 ($7)!!! Bloody hell, I can see why people go broke drinking this stuff! When I was at the doctor's the previous day he had given me a prescription for some routine meds so I stopped in at the pharmacy next door to his surgery to try and get the prescription filled. Unfortunately they didn't have them in stock and since I wasn't going to drive back in to Geneva to pick them up later I decided to try to get the equivalent in France. They had them in stock and I paid €5.8 for a month's supply (that's near enough $6). So out of curiosity I looked up what I had paid for them the last time but when I had bought them in Switzerland - and they were SF 18.50 for a month's supply! Bloody hell!

I think André is seeing the difference in prices too after so many years living in Switzerland. While we were waiting for Jordan and Jen the other day we were looking in the realtor's window and I think he's now quite keen to buy in France. He's already seen a few places he likes but of course he has to save up some $$$$$ first. He and I have done some running around together this week while he's been off work, so every time we thought of another thing he had to do I would write it down while he would be setting up accounts with me noting his passwords/reference numbers. One thing I remembered from when I moved into France over 30 years ago was that the Swiss customs require an attestation de non-poursuite before they let you leave the country. That's basically an attestation to prove that you don't have an outstanding debt/judgment against you in county court. That paper, at least, was pretty simple to do as so much of this stuff is online now, but it all adds to the stuff you have to get for your papers to be in order. He had his car in at Ford today being checked over before he runs it through the contrôle technique (not sure what that would be in the States - in the UK it would be the MOT - the test that proves your car is roadworthy). So bit by bit it's all getting done!

During the week he went over to his and Lily's apartment to get the last of his stuff and said he bumped into one of Lily's friends who she had asked to go over and pick something up for her. I hadn't realized but she's on leave this week also (they had put in to take the week off together before André got blindsided). Anyway, André said it was awkward for Kenji (Lily's friend), who told him that he was sorry about what was happening but hoped they could remain friends. I think André would like to see Kenji again but not if it means seeing Lily! He also thinks that she might well be in England at the moment, having flown out to see Pete (the wedding photographer)!!!! Talk about not wasting any time. Then he laughed when he told me that Jordan and Jen are trying to fix him up with a friend of Jen's called Heidi. He showed me her picture and she is very cute. He knows her and says she is nice so who knows, although to be honest he wants to get the divorce done and dusted before even thinking about dating!

And finally, I was channel-flipping last night and saw that The First Wives' Club was on so I thought I'd rewatch it to see "what all the fuss was about". I hadn't particularly liked it the first time I saw it and over 20 years later I can't say I thought much of it the second time either. Oh sure, if your husband dumps you for a much younger woman I can understand the hurt and the blow it must be to your pride. My husband's skank was 13 years younger than me but frankly since she looked like the north end of a camel going south I can't say she ever actually bothered me - and he knew it! Ha! Anyway, nope, I can't say the film did anything for me this time either. I honestly don't know what anyone sees in Diane Keaton. She seems to have as much acting skills as a plank of wood (a bit like how I'm feeling now about Nicole Kidman, but that might just be a case of too much botox). Even when she was starring with the appalling Woody Allen in Annie Hall to me it just looked like two planks of wood in one movie instead of just one (mind you don't get a splinter there)! And sadly, I didn't think much of Goldie Hawn either. She may or may not be able to act but it strikes me she has only ever played the ditzy blond roles and I find it all way too contrived. In the end all I can say is thank god for the wonderful Bette Midler, who saved what could be saved of an appalling movie. Sadly, if Bette couldn't save it I doubt anyone could have!

And on that note, I'm off out to our latest board game evening, so I will love you and leave you until the next time!

Sunday 12 July 2020

Making a start!

I went shopping on Thursday and decided to go to LIDL for a change as I hadn't been for ages. Crikey is it cheaper than where I normally go! I can't get everything I want there of course but it's definitely worth stopping in first I think, especially as I'm now picking up stuff for André every week too as well as the food bank. During lockdown I noticed seedless grapes were up to €5.50/500g as opposed to €4/500g previously, so I left those well alone - I don't want grapes that much. Now I see they're back down to €3.50/500g and so are back on the menu, but I have to say that even taking into account seasonal variations, prices have been all over the shop!

On Friday night we had our annual AGM of the homeowners' association in the middle of the island in front of our houses. The President and the Secretary (Philippe and Pierre) are a bit like Cheech and Chong and basically said they hadn't got anything to talk about but since we had to have a meeting at least once a year would now be a good time to get the wine out? And of course it was! Somehow I ended up volunteering to become Treasurer as the previous lady has moved, but since that seemingly involves writing maybe one cheque a year I don't think I'll be too stressed - and of course it shows willing doesn't it!

I had a good long chat with a neighbour I don't really have much to do with and he was telling me what he is going through with his wife. She's pretty much housebound and totally dependent on him for everything. It sounds suspiciously like Alzheimer's but he says it's not that, even though she has many of the same symptoms - no recent or even older memories, doesn't recognize her children and keeps expecting her mom to walk in any time now (mom's been dead for many years). As I say, I really don't know this chap very well but my admiration for him and for what he does for his wife just keeps growing!

On Saturday André met me at the bank so that we could get his French account re-activated and start the ball rolling on getting his car imported and insured in France. He only worked a few months in France before leaving to join Lily in Korea and then finally moving into Switzerland with her, so he doesn't have much of a "track record" in France. Well actually that's not true. He left his motorbike insured in France and then stopped putting any money into that account so more than once I got a phone call from the bank looking for him because he was overdrawn!!! In the end I think they got fed up of him and cancelled his bank card. I told him he was a bloody idiot because if he transferred just SF 100 per month into France he would always be covered and he wouldn't miss such a small amount of money anyway. Eventually I guess I got through to him that that was the way to go as I reckon he stopped overdrawing that account about eight years ago - thankfully right? Anyway, he's now set up with an active bank account and new card, and we've been through his finances together and he has a good idea of where he stands financially. He won't be buying anywhere for at least a year I reckon but that at least gives him time to save some money and get a feel for where he wants to live!

After the bank we met up with Jordan and Jen in town for lunch. It's a relatively new restaurant with excellent food and I have to admit I'm thoroughly enjoying seeing more of them all. While we were chatting I remarked on a scar André has just above his right eye and he was recounting for Jen the story of when he was in a car wreck in Verbier when he was 18. I've mentioned before that my kids went to an international school because I was lucky enough to receive a grant from my employer to cover some of the cost. Even with the grant it was extremely expensive but since we wanted our kids educated in English that was the only solution. Now the kids at these schools were either kids like mine - with parents receiving a grant - or kids from very wealthy families. Rich Russians and Arabs for the most part while my kids were there. And I have to say that while these kids lived on a whole other planet to us many of them were pretty nice - surprisingly so, in fact. Anyway, one of the mothers rented an apartment in the ski resort of Verbier for six of them (God knows how much that cost) and the lads were pretty good about moving everything that could be broken into cupboards so that they didn't damage stuff. Anyway, one night André and a friend had walked down to a nightclub and on the way back one of their rich friends passed them in some swanky Audi something-or-other and offered them a lift home. Trouble is, D (the friend) had actually taken the car keys out of the kitchen of his friend, R's, home and it was R's mother's car that he had effectively stolen (although André didn't know this of course). Anyway, I'm sure you can imagine what came next. He was showing off, hit a patch of black ice and rolled the car down an embankment. André was in the back and actually ejected from the car. He came to with blood streaming from his head and no shoes on. The other lads were able to climb out and believe it or not they all managed to limp back to the apartment. André was bleeding so badly though that they had to take him to hospital, from where I got a phone call at 4 a.m. asking me to guarantee his bill!!!! He was covered of course but he told me he had fallen and to cover for D they said they had gotten into a fight over a girl. Next morning there was a hammering on the door when the police showed up and D was marched off to the police station. The car was wrecked and D ended up with a SF120,000 ($120,000) bill to replace it, plus an SF 80,000 fine. And he (or more likely his parents) paid it! Thankfully, apart from being injured, André had nothing to do with it and actually got a letter from the courts in Switzerland asking if he wanted to press charges against D - which he didn't!

Another time I was chatting with a friend at work and he was telling me about the time his daughter was invited to spend a week in Paris with her friend's parents and when he started asking about what she should pack and pocket money and so on his daughter mentioned they were "staying in a place called the Georges V - or something like that"! Only one of the most expensive hotels in Paris!

The Georges V

Ha, when we took our kids' mates on holiday with us we went camping! Not that I care. I kinda think being filthy rich is pretty sad because I'm not sure they actually appreciate anything and I certainly don't envy them, but I would say, again, that some of these kids were pretty nice and my sons have stayed friends with quite a few of them, although in all honesty their mates are now mainly in France and more "normal"!

I love reading "social commentary" books - I've read Nickel and Dimed, Around About A Pound A Week and so on, and I'm currently about half way through Affluenza at the moment. Not to oversimplify (or maybe yes, I am oversimplifying) but Affluenza seems to shine a light on how people's never-ending consumerism pushes them to have to work harder and longer to pay for it all and yet their happiness seems to be in inverse proportion to the amount of "stuff" they manage to acquire. It's very interesting to me as I feel our throwaway society and its inequalities are just so wrong - but I don't know what the solution is. Obviously we all enjoy certain comforts and everyone has their own idea of what that comfort looks like, but I'm more and more convinced that acquiring "stuff" doesn't bring happiness. Quite the opposite in fact, we just seem to want more and more and then have to work longer and longer to pay for it. At least that's my take on the book so far. In the end, if we have everything we need and most of what we want are we not truly rich?

And finally, I just wanted to send huge hugs to our blogging friend in Canada after learning her shocking medical news today. Hang in here hon, your blogging buddies are sending you so many positive vibes. You've got this!

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Putting one foot in front of the other!

I got a notification yesterday from the UK passport office to say that Jordan's new passport was on its way back to him (I used my email as I know he never checks his). So that was pretty good service actually - less than two weeks from my sending it off to the new one wending its way back, and this despite the fact that when I was filling in the form online the "computer sez no", as it didn't like his photo and despite the fact that I wasn't able to include a complete copy of every page of his US passport with the application as instructed since I didn't have it. I just sent the main page. Either way, it's gone through so that's one less thing to worry about with Brexit because his old passport was due to expire on 27 July. But, as I suspected, the website that was supposed to be up and running for us Brits to apply for our residency as from 1 July is indeed not up and running because it's not ready, and has now been rolled back to 1 October. Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age but who couldn't have seen that coming! Still, from what I can gather, it shouldn't be a difficult process as any Brit registered as living here before 31 December has the automatic right to remain. Which is just was well actually because I got a phone call from André this afternoon and he's decided that he is indeed going to move back into France rather than stay in Switzerland!

Actually, his first words were "mom, can I ask you a favour" ... to which I replied "do you mind if I store my stuff in your basement until ...." and he just laughed and said "well since you mention it ..."! Anyway, he has next week off and is going to go back to their apartment in Geneva to get all his stuff out. I told him that except for Tuesday I can help, but I think he won't have that much anyway (famous last words right?). He's going to leave all the furniture and so on for Lily and just take his personal stuff so I don't think the move will be too onerous. He and I are going to the Mairie in my village on Saturday morning where he will declare his residence with me and then we have an appointment with the bank at 10.45 to set him up there. He already has a French bank account and tax ID because he worked briefly in France when he was still living at home so there's quite a bit of stuff that can just be reactivated. In the meantime I told him to go to the Swiss bank and get his ebanking codes so that we can set set up various transfers automatically and then he will start sending the majority of his salary into France to both start accumulating some savings and showing the bank that he's a good "bet" (for when he tries to get a mortgage later). I think he's quite stoked actually. We can stop off at the border next week and fill out the forms for importing his car, requesting a French grey card can be done online and getting car insurance can be done through the bank on Saturday. When I mentioned about having to exchange his Swiss driving licence for a French one he said it wasn't a problem because when he moved into Switzerland the Swiss just gave him a Swiss licence and didn't take his French one off him, so that's one less thing to sort out!

It'll be a pain in the butt for a while I suppose but once we started talking "numbers" I think he was pretty excited. It's fairly easy to do loan calculations online and for around the same amount as he was contributing to his Swiss rent he can easily afford to buy a place in France, so I think that will help keep morale up. My thoughts were that he should (eventually) start looking for a place near la Roche (near me) in order to be able to catch the train to Geneva, but he said he kinda likes Marcellaz, where Jordan and Jen used to live, so that's where he wants to start looking. It will mean the horrible commute but then as my neighbour said on Sunday, she has been doing it for 15 years and can still tolerate it, whereas I'd had over 30 years of it when I came to the end of my rope. Either way, it's stuff that can be looked into as and when, as he's nowhere near ready to buy anything yet anyway!

I've got a doctor's appointment in Geneva tomorrow, which will be only the second time I've driven in since lockdown was lifted. After that I'm going to have lunch with my friend and try to get back before the traffic starts picking up again. André told me all the lanes round town are being revamped to make everything more "bike friendly" so I'll have to watch out for that I guess, but hopefully it won't be too difficult!

In other news, the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, resigned last week which I'm thinking may be a prelude to him standing against Macron in the next presidential elections. He is pretty popular and unlike Macron has come out of this pandemic situation pretty well. Considering that France and the UK have roughly similar populations and that both countries' death tolls were at around the 29,000 mark at the same time, it's quite telling that the UK's death toll is now over 44,000 and France's is still in the 29,000 range so again I'm inclined to think they got it as right as any country could! And I see that the other covidiot in Brazil has actually contracted coronavirus, despite declaring "it's just a little flu"! Again, who couldn't have seen that coming! I hate to think what Brazil's figures will eventually end up at given their high population density and an idiot like that in charge. Then watching CNN today and seeing the US figures starting to skyrocket is just so sad because I don't think they've even started to break the back of this damn virus and all the dire predictions look to be starting to come true. I certainly hope not but ...! I think we're probably all ready for 2020 to be over and done with don't you!

Sunday 5 July 2020

This and that!

It's been a quiet weekend and I have to say I've really appreciated it, after having the roofing guys here all week. They've finished laying the insulation but one guy is coming back tomorrow to finish up the sealant on the part of my roof that they missed. It was an easy mistake to make as they thought it was part of my neighbour's roof, so tomorrow, hopefully, will be their last day here. While I was chatting to them I mentioned that in amongst the old insulation that they were stripping off I saw what looked like little clusters of yellow grapes. Yellow because they were covered in insulation, but small clusters the size of grapes or olives. They told me it was bats and they come across them quite often! Eeek! I had a wasps' nest removed from my roof many years ago and I personally set a burgeoning hornets' nest on fire more than once, but I never thought of bats, although why not? There are plenty round here in the evenings.

My friend drove over on Friday and it was so good to see him. It's the first time I've seen him since around February/March. We went to eat at the one-and-only restaurant (one-and-only anything to be honest) in the village and had a really nice time together. I love that restaurant because the view over the mountains from their terrace is just fabulous and it brings back lovely memories of going skiing with our neighbours when the kids were little and then stopping in at La Fertire for a fondue afterwards! They were happy days!

Later that evening there was a knock at my door and my neighbour handed me a piece of paper saying that they had decided to hold our homeowners' association AGM in the middle of the island on Friday night. Philippe is the President of our association (because no-one else wanted to do it) but I'm not sure he was ever up to it from a technology stand point because he'd printed off his convening email and was walking round handing out paper copies of it! I know they're looking for a new treasurer as the lady who has had that responsibility is selling up so I might volunteer, just to show willing. I doubt there's actually anything to do as we're not an active association and I'm not exactly over-worked as it is!

And can you believe it was a year on 4 July since Jordan and Jen had their wedding do! Crikey, hasn't time flown!

Jordan and Jen

I wasn't able to get over and see André this past week as I've been busy with workmen, but I sent him a message and asked how things were going. He told me that he and Lily had been to see an advisor who can guide them through a do-it-yourself divorce since there is no common property and no children. So, as sad as I am for them, it looks like the divorce is going ahead. I went into town yesterday as I wanted to pick up a couple of things and while I was there I thought "why don't I start putting together a start-up package for him for when he moves into his own place"? You know, things like cleaning materials, washing powder and stuff like that. I pick up extras for the food bank every week anyway so starting up another store for André won't change much for me. I'm not talking about furniture because obviously André will want to chose that for himself. I had my own place in Geneva when I met my husband and when we married and moved back to the States I remember spending an absolute fortune just on stuff to get us set up in our own home. My furniture was shipped from Switzerland but just setting ourselves up with the basics was extremely costly!

Eat your heart out Dave because the Tour de France is actually coming to this area starting next week and should be in our local town on 16 July, if I remember right. I'm sure it'll be heaving so I'll try to wander down on foot and get some pictures for you!

This is at the Plâteau de Glières, just up the road from here.
"74" is this region of France - Haute Savoie

I'm invited over to my neighbour's later this evening for an apéro so I'd better start thinking about getting cleaned up. But talking of "cleaning up", I've just spent quite some time going through my blog "favourites" and deleting as many as possible - people whose blogs I meant to read and never got round to it. People who've stopped blogging or maybe just people whose blogs I've moved on from. One thing I did notice though is that the bloody advertising on some of those blogs drives me insane. If you have to click on three different adverts just to be able to read someone's post well I guess that's no longer a blog for me!

And finally, whichever way the US elections go in November I'm sure my American friends out there will be delighted to learn that Kanye West has "decided to throw his hat in the ring" for 2024! Can you image Kanye as POTUS and Kimmie as FLOTUS - and they said it could never get worse than Trump!

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Day two!

The roofing guys told me on Monday that they would be back today to start laying the insulation and since they showed up on Monday at 9 a.m. I was expecting pretty much the same today - traffic permitting. So I was up, ready and "doing" bang on nine! They didn't show up then so I started reading and pottering and reading and pottering, with them eventually showing up at 10.30 a.m.! I didn't mind the delay as such, but every time I heard a car go past I was up and down stairs like a bloody yoyo to see if it was them. You see, I have a living room/dining room on the ground floor, but the previous owners turned one of the double bedrooms upstairs into a TV room. We knocked an internal balcony out and made the TV room even bigger, so it's quite comfortable with two sofas, the TV and room for my computer. So unless I'm in the kitchen doing something I actually spend most of my time on the first floor of my home - hence I was constantly going up and down like a bride's nighty this morning checking the front door! I think it was then that I realized one of the reasons I was so comfortable during lockdown was because I knew no-one would be knocking at my door and I wouldn't have that constant up-down. Well maybe that's only one of the reasons - maybe I'm just naturally antisocial too. So then I thought, why not see that as a positive, you know, going up and down all those stairs all the time is keeping you fit and clocking up the km! And it's true! What with storing perishables in my basement at the moment because of the heat and having a top bedroom on a third floor I really am up and down four sets of stairs on a regular basis! Crikey, I hadn't thought of it like that! Maybe it's actually a good thing having all these stairs! 

When I was growing up we had a four-bedroomed house on two floors and in 1992 my dad inherited a little money from his brother and they were able to sell up and move to a bungalow in Dorset - which had always been their dream. But, with them moving away from the stairs in the first house I realized that in addition to getting older, every time I saw them they were probably significantly less fit than maybe they would have been otherwise - and I put that down to the stairs! My mom wouldn't have had it any other way in any case, but I guess looking at things from this angle is one way to "turn that frown upside down" isn't it!

I had to go out grocery shopping this morning so I left the two young men to get on with their work since they didn't need access to the house. When I got back though they were on top of my sloping roof and it was scorching! I felt so sorry for them as it was 32°C (90°F) and there wasn't a cloud in the sky! I had told them where my hose was and left the garage door open and they had been spraying each other down with cold water, but even so it was hot. So then I was running in and out with iced water and coke for them but even so, I just don't know how they do it! They had made good progress on the one side of the roof and I just assumed they'd go off to get something to eat but they said that they wanted to get that side totally finished before packing up and heading off. They eventually finished up at 4 p.m. and left for the day. The one young lad told me that the previous day they had put in a 14-hour day to get a job finished. You've got to be young, is all I can say!

On a slightly morbid note, I read somewhere yesterday about a file you can buy called Life in Motion! Basically, it's a rather jolly name for a file I would probably rename "here's a list of everything I own, all my passwords and who gets what when I snuff it"! Slightly less poetic but more fitting I think! Basically it's a file with eight tabs in it that you put together to "ease" things somewhat for your loved ones when you pass. To me that goes along with the whole "decluttering now so that they don't have to do it afterwards" kinda thing. I've been pretty good at filing my stuff and I've always told my boys that when I pop my clogs the first place they should looks is in a file called "important stuff", as that contains the most important papers they will need immediately. Anyway, this Life in Motion file, which I believe is available from Amazon, cost $50! Fifty dollars for a file/binder with eight tabs in it? No thanks. I have everything I need so I thought why not sit down every Friday when I'm doing my banking and just type up one thing for the file - which is what I did today!

The tabs that they supply are! (1) documents/emergency plan; (2) medical and insurance info; (3) property info - house/car/keys etc.; (4) banking info; (5) final wishes/funeral arrangements; (6) end-of-life decisions; (7) estate settlement/will; and (8) where to find important documents. Frankly I will add a (9) miscellaneous/info about my blog? - as I don't believe everything will fit neatly under 1-8! So since I got paid today and was transferring money/paying bills, I decided to type up a number (4) and put the details of my UBS bank account down on paper. I have four bank accounts, which might make me sound like Rockerfeller but is pretty easily explained. I have my former salary account (UBS) in Switzerland where my pension is now paid. We have a Swiss franc-denominated pension fund and I have my pension paid in Swissies because - well because I'm not stupid! I also have a savings account at the United Nations Credit Union. I kept this simply because it's more difficult for me to access money there so I throw a little in it every month in order to save for whatever. Then I have an account in the UK (HSBC) which I've had since I was 18 and if I close it they won't let me open another one, so I send SF 100 there every month and that gives me my pocket money whenever I go to England. And finally I have an account in France because that's where I live and most of my bills come out of that in euros. So you can imagine my boys would probably find all this pretty intimidating if and when!

So today it took me maybe 10 minutes to type up the UBS stuff. "This is the account number, this is where the bank is located, this is my password for e-banking" and so on, and it was really easy. As I say, I have everything all in one place but it struck me as making so much more sense to have a divider for each one and include all the passwords too. Morbid stuff maybe but I am more concerned with making my kids' lives easy as and when rather than worrying that if I write about my death it's gonna happen. It is - but not just yet hopefully!

I got my "one hour" of work in again today and I realize that by the time I look at my timer for the first time 45 minutes have usually gone by so it really is easy. While I was "doing" in the garden my neighbour wandered over for something or other. He's going in to hospital tomorrow for a fourth (or fifth?) operation to put stents into the veins in his legs as they are clogging up. Wouldn't you think with him finding walking more and more strenuous and this being yet another hospital stay he would give up smoking like the doctors have asked him to do? But nope, his wife gave up (after 50 years of smoking?) when she got the fright or her life and ended up in hospital with pneumonia last year and even now has a hard time breathing. Anyway, his wife is also making her own world smaller and smaller as she ages (she's 67) because she "can't drive in the dark (OK), is too afraid to drive down to Annecy (30 minutes away), won't drive on the motorway (OK) and can't drive him to the hospital because "she's never driven on that road before". I love her to bits but remember telling her ages ago that if she wasn't careful she would slowly wall herself in with all these perceived "inabilities" she has - and she was maybe 45 at the time! Well his daughter is going to drive him in tomorrow but has to be back at work on Friday for the first time since lockdown lifted so she can't pick him up. So I offered. It's no biggie to me but it brought home to me how much his wife's world is shrinking - and how stupid smoking really is!

And finally, I got one over on my friend today. He sent me a chatty message asking when we could get together (this weekend probably, for the first time since March). So anyway he tells me that all this walking he's being doing (a lot) seems to have paid off and he's pretty sure he's lost weight, but he couldn't say how much because he doesn't have any scales. Next thing I know he sends me a picture of himself in his underpants and yes, it would seem that he has lost quite a bit of weight. So then we go flirting back and forth and I'm saying "I think I'll need to see a bit more in order to be sure" - but that's just our usual kind of banter. So at this point I decided to tell him about the time last year, just before Christmas, when out of the blue he sent me a rather more raunchy picture. I've no idea why and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I mean, it's not like I haven't seen it all before right - we dated for about five years! Anyway, what I had forgotten was that when someone sends you a picture it automatically gets saved onto your pictures (on iPhone at least). So last year, just after he had sent the picture, I was at my patchwork lesson when I was telling one of the ladies about a Christmassy-themed project I would like to attempt. I had seen it at a patchwork exhibition and liked it so I took a picture of it. So she said "oh can I see", so I handed my phone over to her! And that was when I realized his other pictures was probably saved onto my phone. Now I'm the kind that looks at someone's pictures and often swipes left to look at the next one, so I was hoping to god she wouldn't do the same and almost threw myself at her to get my phone back. Which I managed but seriously? When I told him this I was roaring laughing and he was horrified - as I reminded him this morning when he sent me his "I'm losing weight" photo! Moral of the story? Be careful who you send your raunchy pictures to!