The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Monday 31 August 2020

I'm so glad we didn't make it!

I think my bloody phone is on the blink and while I'm not exactly a phone fanatic, it does feel a bit like my life support is slowly being turned off, so it looks like I'm going to have to buy a new one. I reckon I've had this one for three years and it galls me to think I've got to replace it already. Somewhere I have a spare battery for it but when I looked up how to change it on Youtube I'm pretty sure I'd mess up the phone anyway.  So I'll be heading out tomorrow to get a new one. I really couldn't give too much of a toss about phones as long as I can call with them, send messages and take a few photos. I don't need to be able to programme my central heating with it so I've been looking at what's available in the cheaper versions. I'm also not sure I want another iPhone to be honest, as I've heard good things about Samsung and they're quite a bit cheaper. I guess I'll see what they suggest at the shop tomorrow!

Also tomorrow I'm planning on heading down to the gym in town to sign up - and you know what, I'm dreading it!  I'm happy to go to the gym as I like the weight machines and going to the work's gym obviously hasn't worked out since covid hit. Actually, it was touch and go before that because I was very aware of the traffic and the weather conditions so hopefully a gym in town will be better for me. My friend signed up there a couple of years ago and she said they were really nice. I get a free one-hour consultation with a fitness professional to walk me through it, but the big thing I don't want to be doing is running on any treadmill. I hate it, so that'll definitely be one thing I'm going to work up to - if at all. Wish me luck! Yoga and pilates then start up again next week so I'm glad the weather is starting to cool off a bit, even though I expect there'll be a few creaky bones to begin with!

I also just realized that today would have been my 35th wedding anniversary. I'd totally missed it until I linked it to André's birthday yesterday. Actually my ex's birthday was 29th, André's is the 30th and our wedding anniversary was 31st August. Being married 26 years at time of the divorce was more than enough and life has been so much better since, so yeah, cheers - here's to our 35th unwedding anniversary. I'm so glad we didn't make it!

Sunday 30 August 2020

White van man!

Damn, I just wrote a whole blog post and new blogger seems to have shot it off into cyberspace somewhere! Oh well, here we go again then! So as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, sometimes I'm really glad we're six hours ahead of eastern U.S. time so that I had no inclination whatsoever to watch any of the RNC. I did manage five minutes of Trump's excruciating monotone monologue before the temptation to throw myself under a bus kicked in, but politics aside, given that there were several hundred unmasked, untested and non-socially distanced spectators I'll be curious to see if "this whole pandemic is a hoax" still holds water in about a week's time! I suspect not!

And what the hell happened in Kenosha? The idea that a 17 year old (or anyone outside the military frankly) can get their hands on a semi-automatic, walk casually down the street and kill someone with it just blows my mind. The sad thing - apart from the deaths and injuries he caused - is I wonder if he has spent half his life playing video games and thinks he finally "got to star in his own video" - you know, the kind where you can just buy a new life and start over if you get killed! Talk about not only destroying several other people's lives but also your own. I just wonder if he sleep-walked through the whole shit show in some kind of make-believe zombie mode! But to the people calling him a "hero", in what kind of alternate perverted universe does killing two people and blowing someone else's arm off make him a "hero"? Sadly, whoever wins in November, I think this kind of rioting and violence is far from over!

In more uplifting news, today was André's birthday and while the weather didn't hold for them to go go-karting, I at least got to eat out with the three of them at a lovely restaurant next to the Lac de la Tour. And the restaurant was heaving, which on the face of it isn't good, but the place was so big that we were, indeed, able to keep our distance from other diners. Not great maybe but I actually feel that as much as possible France needs to start returning to some kind of normality. That being said, Germany and France have again warned today that due to a spike in infections it might be necessary to envisage new lock downs in the future. I guess only time will tell!

Talking of France, I have my rescheduled French test in respect of my citizenship request on Thursday. I haven't been particularly worried about it but did think maybe I should do a couple of trial runs these last few days and I'm glad I did. Oddly enough the questions I'm most likely to fail are the aural comprehension ones - which is stupid because I can understand everything they say. The problem is that as you get further along in the test and on to the more difficult "accents", many of the answers, to my mind, are ambiguous. So "is this conversation discussing women setting up a business in Morocco or does it highlight the difficulties women face in a patriarchal society such as Morocco?" That kind of thing. So today, when I came back from lunch, I did another trial test. When I got to the end and looked at my score I had only got 32 out of 40 - which struck me as very odd because I've never scored that low. But that was when I realized that I had lost my internet connection on question nine and apparently the computer then decided to mark the first eight questions as "unanswered" and therefore wrong! Phew! Still, even with that score it was sufficient to pass the test. I'll be glad when it's over though as I need to get back to learning "all about France" just on the off chance I ever get an interview. Add to that the selfish bastards have changed half their government ministers since the Prime Minister's resignation so I've got to go through and learn the names of the most relevant ministers yet again. Nah, not really. I think from the naturalization point of view there are only three or four "important" ministers, such as who is the Minister for Europe? (Jean-Yves Le Drian, if you're interested)!

I'm also making headway through the pile of books I've had sitting on my coffee table for the last however many decades. The other day I picked up one by Stephen Fry and was only "cautiously optimistic" about it. I eventually gave up on the last book of his I tried reading because while I think Fry is hilarious the book was just way too pompous. This one is called Mrs. Fry's Diaries, supposedly written by the entirely fictitious Mrs. Stephen Fry (given that he's gay and is married to a much younger man) and their supposed family life with six kids on a council estate. And it's actually pretty good, I have to say. There are such gems as how Mrs. Winton "told me all about this new Reiki fortune teller she's just started seeing. First she gives you an intense scalp massage, then she reads your dandruff"! Another one has Mrs. Fry talking about a day out at Aintree (the biggest horse race in the country) where Stephen was pointing out the winners' enclosure "right next to the royal box", and the losers' enclosure "right next to the glue factory"! Fry is very drôle and I can just hear him in my head coming out with this lunacy in his posh, Cambridge-educated voice. Either way, it's easy reading and I'm quite enjoying it!

And finally, white van man. I had an encounter with white van man at the supermarket on Thursday. As I was getting out of my car, white van man came running over to me and asked if I "had any spare coins so that they could get out of here". I'm always a bit surprised by this kind of thing so I just said no. Then when I was leaving the supermarket I saw him leaving the cash register with the lady just having given him change for what looked like a €50 note (or at least he had two twenties in his hand). So I loaded up my car and just as I was about to leave another white van man pulled up diagonally behind me, thus effectively blocking me in as there was a car in front of me and one to my right. He wound the window down and asked if my car was for sale, which is odd as there's nothing special about it - it's just a well-maintained nine year old Ford Mondeo. When I told him no, he nevertheless continued to sit there for a couple of minutes, effectively preventing me from leaving! What the flip??? Eventually he moved off but as I was driving out of the parking lot I noticed the original white van pulled over on the side of the road and when I passed him he also went to pull out and swore rather loudly. Now I've no idea what was going on there. I reckon they were gypsies actually, but a few years ago my friend received 21 speeding tickets in the space of about three months, and this after having lived in France for over 25 years and never having got a ticket. So I'm leery, as you can imagine. In her case she's pretty sure someone with the same make of car had duplicate plates made (although sadly she couldn't prove it). She could prove one time when she was supposed to have been speeding near the border that she was actually on the other side of Geneva at a doctor's appointment, but to be honest the French courts didn't want to know. It was a very stressful time for her so I'm very aware of my gut feeling that these guys were up to no good. I hope I'm wrong but .... One thing's for sure, if I do start getting speeding tickets I will contest every one as and when. My friend didn't do this immediately because she genuinely thought she'd made an honest mistake the first couple of times, but by the time she'd hit 21 tickets it was already too late to contest them. I rather hope I'm wrong and that white van man number one was just a gypo trying to scam money out of me, and white van man number two was maybe looking for spare parts! Actually, that's one of the reasons I wanted to write this post - so I have the "white van man" incident documented on 27 August. I hope it doesn't come to anything other than my perhaps overly fertile imagination though!

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Well that was rather good!

There's not been an awful lot going on here again at the moment. The weather dropped to 28°C today so it was again bearable. I think they're predicting rain later in the week, I guess as a follow-on from the storm currently hammering Britain and Ireland. I can't say it bothers me one way or the other because I can always find things to do, whether it be in the garden or inside. I've worked a few hours in the garden these last few days putting stuff "to bed" so to speak. The veggie plot wasn't that great, although the tomatoes are looking good, and the peach tree is heaving with peaches. I just need them to ripen before the wasps get them all. Once I'd finished for the day I pushed myself to take one of my local walks down to the Bénite Fontaine. It's convenient because I don't have to take the car and I realize, since there's a little bit of climbing, that I need to get back to doing something slightly more strenuous than just walking on the flat. You have to walk down into the dell where the holy water spring is and then climb back out to the church. Nothing much - I mean seriously only about 10 minutes of climbing - but I realize I need to get back to challenging myself a bit more now that it's cooler. When I stopped to fill my water bottle I noticed that a family had brought their cars down into the dell, while another lady was sitting at a picnic table in the shade on her own. I must admit I had never thought of bringing a car down there, but it allowed the family to bring grandma and any number of coolers for a picnic in what is a rather lovely spot!

When I got back I noticed that the little island in front of our houses was all dug up and pretty much shredded over. When I stopped to chat with my neighbours they reckon we've now got a badger problem. I must say he's dug it up pretty thoroughly too. I wonder if I could tempt him in to my veggie plot once I've pulled everything up!

It's André's birthday on Sunday so I had asked the kids if they would like to come over to me for lunch to celebrate. André, however, had other ideas and suggested we all go out to eat at the lac de la Tour near Jordan and Jen's place as he's heard it is pretty good, and then they would like to go off go-karting afterwards. Suits me, as there is some good walking country round there, weather-permitting!

He took the day off today as he and Lily had a meeting with an adjudicator to see if their divorce paperwork is in order - which it is - so they've been given the green light to send it off and they could be divorced sometime in September! That's pretty fast isn't it - and kinda sad! That being said, they went for a coffee together afterwards and Lily asked if Ammie (grandma in the States) would mind if she kept in touch occasionally (not at all) and she told him that her grandma and aunt would also like to keep in touch with him as they were very fond of him. So he said he would stop in and see Abuela (Lily's grandma) as she has really been nice to him, but he told Lily that she has to realize that he won't be seeing them too often all the same. I told him I keep in touch with Ammie myself, although not with any of the rest of his dad's family. I call her maybe three times a year and we chat for about an hour. In the end, it's better to end it civilly isn't it. That being said, Lily asked if they could remain friends and he said that while he wouldn't be upset if he saw her again while out with friends, he didn't want to be around her too much at the beginning as he wanted to move on. That being said, if Pete was on the scene he wouldn't be there at all as Pete has definitely been crossed off the list. Even if nothing happened between Lily and Pete (he has no idea), in his opinion Pete very definitely crossed boundaries within his and Lily's marriage!

Moving on to other things, he then told me that he is loving the "envelope" budgeting system that we set up together as it gives him a tangible insight into what he has available to him to spend and how he is planning his different expenses. Apparently Lily was so impressed that she is now going to do the same - which is ironic because she's Swiss and works in a bank! But still, if it works, it works - I told him Nanny and Ted (my mom and dad) would be so proud if they could see him using "their old fashioned ways" to get a handle on his budget!

And finally, I was pulling stuff out the fridge tonight to see what needed using up because I'm tired of wasting food. I had two red and two yellow peppers so figured I'd find something to stuff them with. Then I pulled out a pre-made quinoa salad with pistachios, a packet of bacon lardons I had forgotten to use, half a bag of grated cheese and half a jar of spaghetti sauce. So I par-cooked the peppers and then stuffed them with a mixture of everything else all mixed together and by golly they were good. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to replicate it but I'll sure give it a try as they were a definite hit!

Monday 24 August 2020

Busy doing nothing!

As I'm trying to keep up the walking momentum in order to get to my 1,000 miles in 2020 (I passed 700 miles walked this week), I talked myself into going for a walk down to the lake at Thyez yesterday - my go-to walk when I can't be bothered to drive too far. And again it was beautiful. The temperature dropped down to about 27°C (around 80°F), with a lovely breeze blowing so it turned out to be the perfect day to walk. Again I think they had forecast possible thunderstorms but we got nothing in the end. Even so, it was strange to see how few people were at the lake considering it was such a beautiful day and a Sunday to boot. There was just one man on the beach and six people playing volleyball. A few fisherman and kids playing in the park. Further back at the picnic tables there were quite a few families out BBQing but if you wanted a table in the shade you would have got one. One lady was struggling to carry stuff towards a group of people setting up their picnics and shouted out "whatever you do don't come and help will you", so I just laughed and took some of her stuff for her. When I dropped it off they offered for me to have a drink with them, but as I wanted to get on with my walking I just thanked them and said I'd be on my way. I'd guess they were either Turkish or North African and probably about 20 of them all told, and it hit me then how I actually miss being part of a large family. We were a family of seven kids (I was number seven) so there was always someone around and we often went fishing/camping with uncles and aunts and cousins. Of course things change as you get older, my brother in Wales is dead, my sister is in Denmark and the others are in England. I'm divorced and while I have no desire to live with anyone ever again it did hit me a little yesterday that I missed "all that". Of course I have my kids but they have their own lives to live. Truth is, I know I like being in the hustle and bustle of lots of people and making plans for picnics and so on, especially now that I have the time. I guess it's just a weird time we're all going through, what with Covid and people having to quarantine if they've been abroad, but yesterday it hit me a little! Never mind, a good walk will soon sort that out!

People out BBQing!

Another thing that struck me was that the picnickers were mostly (but not all) either Turks or North Africans, as I mentioned above. When we came back to Switzerland from the States in 1989 we had a beautiful 3-bedroomed apartment in the vineyards just over the road from Lake Geneva. As André was only two we would take him down to the lake to play and you would likewise always find the Spaniards and Portuguese down there picnicking too. Then someone pointed out that the Swiss would most likely own their own homes (and therefore have gardens), and many of these Spaniards/Portuguese would be migrant workers so they would be in apartments. Never thought of it like that. Either way, they always seemed to be having a lot of fun!

The château in Rolle (Switzerland) - the little town we where we used to live.
(picture by 123RF)

I remember being down on the lake one time and two Spanish families had loaded up a huge table with all their food and drinks when the table started to keel over. It kinda happened in slow motion and my husband burst out laughing (it was funny) but I yelled "run" so we dashed over there and managed to help them hold the table up while the women rescued the food and booze. So they invited us to have a drink with them too! They were happy days!

While our apartment was beautiful and in a lovely spot, at the time, in 1989, we were paying SF 2,300 per month in rent ($2,300) and I knew that was ridiculous. So I pushed and pushed for us to move into France where that kind of money would easily cover a mortgage. I didn't really want to move into France as I loved where I lived but I knew moving was a no-brainer. That being said, I wouldn't move back to Switzerland now so we made the right decision in the end. And it seems André is coming to the same conclusion also, from what I was told today. He keeps saying to his friends "I can't believe it only costs ...... in France whereas in Switzerland it costs ....."! Finally, he's realizing that while Geneva is lovely, the prices? Nah, not so much!

Since I was only 15 minutes from Jordan and Jen's place I stopped by to see them. André had gone into Geneva to see friends so they were having a lazy afternoon to themselves. I mentioned to Jordan again that my heating system was still leaking and he'd better remind Max that I'm still waiting for him to fix it before I post something on Facebook (I wouldn't of course but I did tell him to tell Max that I would soon be French and then the real yelling would start). I mentioned to Jen that I had been cutting back branches on my damson bush and she said she could murder a damson tart right now, so I think I'll make one for her and take it over during the week. It'll be nice to do some baking again!

Then last evening I was invited over to my friend's for an apéro since her cousin was over. We had a great laugh telling stories of our various escapades, the cousin having lived in Colombia for a while, her sister having lived in Spain (and the US for the most part) and my friend and I telling our stories about living in France and Switzerland - you know all the stories of how you can screw up when it isn't your language. I may have had just a little too much to drink but ha, what the heck, the stories get better after a few glasses don't they!

I went to bed "early" by my standards last night but as I was reading around 11 p.m. I heard a "bang, bang, bang" that seemed to go on for ages. I thought it was weird to be lighting fireworks at that time, but then I realized it was probably down in the woods behind the church and they were most likely hunters (better that than serial killers, I guess). That would be where I saw my one-and-only deer one time and where the wild boar were coming from when they hit my car last year. Still, I wouldn't like to be out in the woods at night knowing they're down there hunting!

Anyway, this morning Jordan sent me a message to say that Max would stop over sometime today to take a look at my heating system, so I decided it would be better not to go out walking today. I did pop down to the recycling centre/tip though as I had quite a bit of stuff to get rid of - apparently so did half the town, it turns out. People were lined up waiting to get in and when I finally pulled in I noticed a woman had parked her car across two spots right in front of the "green" bins for the grass/hedge cuttings. Another ignorant driver. By doing that she was taking up two spots and yet people were lining up to get in! So I pulled up on one side of her and another woman pulled up on the other and I thought "I wonder if she'll get it when she has to wait to get out?" but she was still there after I left. Again, another ignorant, entitled sod!

She was in the dark car at the centre, although by this time we had "liberated"
more space around her!

I had to laugh though when I was pulling in - apparently someone was throwing away a horse!

Anyway, Max called me and said he'd come by at 3 o'clock and did indeed show up bang on time. As he walked in he said "see, I'm right on time", so I just said "no, you're three months late" and he laughed. Jordan had been able to tighten one part of the leaking mechanism up but Max confirmed that he would need to order a new part but it was okay as "it was still under the one year guarantee". You're damn right it is buddy! We sat and chatted afterwards and I have to say he's been a great friend to my kids over the years. It was him that offered André a place to stay for as long as he wanted when he and Lily split up. They're all in the same band (he's the bass player, as well as being Jordan's boss) and have been mates for nearly 20 years, so I suspect I'll be seeing a lot more of him in the years to come.

And finally, someone posted the other day (sorry, can't remember who) about making "pot holders" for a family member. And of course that triggered a memory of when I was living in the States. Aunt Kris used to crochet beautiful blankets for all the new babies and one time crocheted me some "pot holders" for Christmas. I was a bit stumped as they looked pretty weird to me, but I didn't want to offend her so I went over to a small plant and put it inside the pot holder. Everyone burst out laughing and she said "you don't know what pot holders are do you"? and I said "I guess not". Turns out they were for getting hot pans out of the oven. Now if she'd have just said "oven gloves" we'd have been on the same wavelength! Divided by a common language, more like!

Saturday 22 August 2020

Brave ladies!

I couldn't get to sleep last night which, while unpleasant, is not the end of the world since it doesn't happen very often. I went to bed about 1 a.m. but ended up reading my book until 4 a.m. - when I finally nodded off - only to wake up at 7.30! If it's only the occasional time I can live with that (well obviously, I just did) but I do feel for people with long-term insomnia, it must be hell! It was raining when I got up and then I remembered I had promised myself I would go out walking today, because if little girls and little old ladies can do it, so can I! I decided I wanted to head out to three small lakes I had visited just before lockdown to see if you can actually walk around all three and how long it would take. There is also a very old bridge nearby that I wanted to visit called le Vieux Pont (the old bridge - not exactly given to hyperbole were they). When I looked it up I see that it was first mentioned in 1225 but it obviously dates quite a bit further back than that.

Le Vieux Pont, Sallanches

On a side note, that takes me off on another tangential "old bridge story" that I remember from many years ago (can't remember exactly when though I remember seeing it on British TV). There was a very old bridge that had reached an important centenary anniversary somewhere in Switzerland - either the Swiss German part or the Italian-speaking part, but I can't remember that either. So they had all the local dignitaries lined up and a massive ribbon tied across it for the Mayor to cut. The band was playing, the Mayor was holding the scissors - and the bloody bridge collapsed!!!! Thankfully no-one was on it at the time, and I later asked my friend's Swiss husband if he remembered it but he couldn't place it! Funny how it always stuck with me though!

Since I was heading out that way, I decided to stop in at the Saturday market in St. Pierre as I'm finding it difficult to store my fresh fruit and veg at the moment. Thinking about it, it might be a good idea to start shopping for it twice a week rather than just once in this heat. Anyway, as I was pulling into the parking lot, the lady just in front of me screeched her car to a halt and parked diagonally across two parking spaces. Now there were plenty of  spaces available where she could have parked well away from other cars if she was worried about her car getting damaged, but nope, she parked directly in between two cars but diagonally! Ignorant cow! I do wonder about people like that though!

So I bought a few things - aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and so on - and decided that since it was a bit cooler I wouldn't take them back home but head straight on out to Sallanches. Trouble is, I took the wrong bloody turn again and ended up back at the lake at Passy where I went a few days ago. Oh well, by this time I was getting hungry so decided to walk round it again since that was the main objective anyway. This time though, there were even fewer people than previously - even though it wasn't busy then. I guess since they had forecast thunder storms people stayed away, but we actually ended up not getting any rain. Obviously for people like me getting the lake almost to myself is great, but for the businesses there it's got to be very hard indeed seeing their August numbers drop so badly, right after such a strict lockdown!

When I pulled into the parking lot I handed over my €2 fee and realized that the young man didn't give me a ticket to display. Hmmmmm! He just waved me on through. So I tried to watch if he handed the next car a ticket (can't be sure) but on walking towards the lake I realized that some cars were displaying tickets and some weren't. That's obviously a nice little number he's got going there then. One for him and one for the boss! Since it was so quiet and I was hungry I decided to stop at the little restaurant there, blow my diet to hell with a Ceasar salad (very good!) and add in a glass of wine just to make sure I would feel like an abject failure. Nah, that didn't work, I thoroughly enjoyed myself! I think there were only five tables occupied on the terrace so I got to sit and watch the kids (and at least one dad) messing around on the "bouncy castle" kind of thingy!

Dad was having to go round each circuit and "bounce" his kids into the air.
He must have been knackered with three kids!

See what I mean, there was nobody on the beach.

Everyone fishing on the south side of the lake got their own little pontoon!

I made it round in 45 minutes this time and it was more pleasant because the temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up - enough to get some good kite-flying in!

You can just about see the kite in this picture!

And talking of kite-flying (here we go again), I remember being in Denmark years ago visiting my sister with my then boyfriend. To give her a break we decided to take her little boy to the park and go fly a kite. It was really windy and the little guy and I were having a hard time of it. So my boyfriend - lovely as he was - then decided to "mansplain" to me exactly where I was going wrong and indicated that he would show me. Somewhere I have a fabulous picture of him all tied up in knots and struggling to get his arms free from the kite! He wasn't exactly easily given to laughing at himself but I almost peed myself when my little nephew took great joy in explaining what happened to my sister in Danish!

By the time I got back I was hot, and as I was taking my walking boots off I remembered my vegetables in the boot of the car. To say that I almost had ready-made ratatouille in my basket would be an understatement!

And finally, I see that Alexei Navalny, a Russian opponent of Vladimir Putin, appears to have been poisoned on a plane in Russia. Yet another poisoning, which makes the campaign of the three ladies who ran against long-time Belarus dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, all the more brave. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya - an English teacher - assisted by two other brave ladies, campaigned for fair and democratic elections. I believe all three of these ladies' husbands were political opponents of Lukashenko and had all been imprisoned. One of the ladies was also taken into custody just before the elections and had had her young children threatened. It came as no surprise to anyone that Lukashenko - who has been in power for 26 years - won! Very wisely these ladies have fled the country and taken their children to safety in Lithuania, although what "safety" means when you are dealing with these kinds of régimes who knows. The EU are already going to impose sanctions against Belarus and I hope Belarus will get to be the next country to indeed be able to hold democratic elections. Either way, the bravery of these three ordinary women is so inspiring!

Friday 21 August 2020

Sometimes I'm just inspired - or maybe not!

I had a few days at the beginning of the week that just knocked me off my feet. It was the heat most likely but I felt inclined to do absolutely nothing - so that's what I did! I pretty much just lay on the sofa and read for two days - which is fine, of course, but then I get so mad at myself because I don't want to become that couch potato. Of course in reality I know (God willing) I never will become that couch potato, but while I'm in that funk I hate it. Maybe the trick is just to learn to accept it for what it is - just my body saying "hey I've had enough of this heat", or maybe "I'm tired so give me a break". Anyway, this is what I felt like:

Still, it only takes a couple of days and I seem to be back up and running, despite the ongoing 36°C (96°F) heat! I suppose I do get more done than I realize because yesterday I did my shopping and then cleaned the entire house (it's not exactly deep cleaning though so don't look too closely). Then I did the washing and changed my bed so yep I guess I do achieve more than I think averaged out over the week. Today I had to go down to the bank to sign for my power of attorney over our Homeowners' Association's accounts, and then I ran to the DIY place as I wanted to pick up "sealant" strips for my windows and doors. It seems everywhere I look I see something that needs to be repaired, and at the moment it's the slightly rotting strips that actually seal my windows and doors. Not surprising really I suppose as I reckon the windows are probably 20 years old! And then of course the TV went on the blink for a couple of days, and while I really can "take it or leave it", I would at least like it to work occasionally. I've finally learned to just "leave it" though when things start getting to me and so a couple of days ago I had a eureka moment and figured out that it was actually the plug to the digibox that had had it. I buy my digibox from the UK so I need a British plug and that had started to go wobbly in the French adaptor. Once I fished out another UK/France adaptor and tried that it was "Bob's your uncle" and now it's all working again. Ya see, we women can do these things!

The computer is really my weakness, so I'm trying to discipline myself to just read the news and my emails in the mornings and not go down the rabbit hole of blogs/Youtube/US elections until the evening. I have to admit I really do get fed up with the US elections (and the UK elections of course) because they drag on so long, so in the past I've maybe watched a little of what's going on and then just left it. But this time, I've been glued to it and I'm sure you can all guess why. Now putting the politics aside (if that's even possible), I can always agree to disagree on matters of politics. Where my eyes are still popping out of my head and jaw hitting the ground is Trump. And not Trump from the point of view of being a Republican president. No, like I said, I can remove myself from that part. It's the spectacle of such an absolute rampant frickin' malignant narcissist that I'm glued to!

I've mentioned before that having had the misfortune to work for an incompetent batshit crazy malignant narc bitch (I think that just about covered all bases), I became fascinated by narcs and subsequently read up so much on them. That being so, Trump still has my eyes popping out on stalks! So I end up going down the rabbit hole of watching The Packman Show, or Trevor Noah, or Jimmy Fallon and staying up half the night. By the way, if anyone is interested, Fallon did the most wonderful Youtube video dressed up as Trump doing a make-up tutorial. It's brilliant! It's almost on a par with the former Italian PM's "somewhat unfortunate" plastic surgery attempts!

Silvio Berlusconi - of course they're his own "natural" good looks!

So trying to leave Trump out of it (because I want to get some sleep), I have to say how absolutely impressed I am by Biden's pick of Kamala Harris for VP. That woman is impressive! I watched her putting questions to Barr, who "couldn't remember if anyone in the White House had asked/suggested/hinted that he might like to make contact with Russia", and Kavanaugh who "couldn't think of a single law currently in existence which allowed women to make decisions over men's bodies"! Like I say, I loved it and will be really keen to see how she gets on - I'm sure she'll more than hold her own! As did Anderson Cooper recently with Mike Lindell of Mypillows fame. Well actually he wiped the floor with him, calling him a "snake oil salesman" on more than one occasion. Damn it was good to watch!

Harris v. Barr

And moving swiftly on to other news, tomorrow I think it's supposed to rain and be a little cooler, so I'm contemplating trying to get some real walking in again if I can be bothered. Well, that's what I was thinking until I saw these two pictures posted on my walking group's FB page. So shame on me if I don't get out there tomorrow!

Mom posted pictures and a video of her sweet four-year-old daughter walking all the way up Pen y Fan mountain in Wales. She got so many comments on FB that she said she was somewhat overwhelmed - and her sweet little girl was delighted!

And then another older lady posted this picture of her and her friend out walking the other day. So like I said, shame on me if I don't get out there!

And finally (God I don't half rattle on don't I - you can tell I live alone can't you), as I was doing some paperwork today it got so hot that I decided to switch the column fan on while I was working. Well that is until I took a closer look at it. Damn, I know no-one has slept in that room for a while but the dust - I swear if I had left it on for long they would have found me rolling around like a tumbleweed somewhere out in the back garden!

In my defence, this was after digging around with
a screwdriver and a toothbrush for a while!

So I was inspired to start doing this out on my balcony where I'd had the foresight to install a table, chair and sun umbrella. Actually why no-one uses their balcony is beyond me but .... So I took out all the screws but even then couldn't get the casing apart so had to go back to digging around with a screwdriver and toothbrush. And then I had the second inspired idea of getting the pressurized air can out - you know, the one you use to clean the dust off your computer keyboard - and all hell let loose!

This is just some of the accumulated dust!

What maybe wasn't such an inspired idea was standing "down wind" while I was doing it, having just got out the shower and applied copious amounts of body lotion. As it was flying out it started sticking to my face and body so I ended up looking like The Amazing Bearded Woman! On a side note, we actually had a bearded woman who lived near us when I was a kid and her name really was Mrs. Skull - but that's a story for another day -  I'm off to get another shower!

Tuesday 11 August 2020


It rained last night bringing with it slightly cooler air for the evening, which was such a relief. Because it was easier to sleep I woke up feeling rested for once, with a lot more energy than usual. So first thing this morning I decided I was going to make a couple of phone calls I had been putting off because ... because who knows why. They were just the kinds of things you're going to get around to doing sometime and then they keep staring up at you from your to-do list as you transfer them from one list to the next. So I made the first phone call and got that issue sorted in about three minutes, and then I decided I wanted to find out what was going on with my French exam - you know the proficiency exam I was scheduled to sit in spring in connection with my request for French citizenship. While I was looking through my emails to find the name of the test centre, up pops an email from them saying they are opening up on 3 September and she had scheduled me for the first day if it was convenient and if I could get back to her within 20 minutes - otherwise they would put someone else in that slot and reschedule me for a later date! Of course I jumped at it and so now I'm just waiting to find out what time. Hopefully that will be one more thing crossed off the list of things-to-do to become French, although at the rate this is going who knows when that will ever happen!

So with that under my belt I decided that I needed to get a few more steps in towards my 1,000 mile goal. Since it was a little cooler I packed a backpack and headed off to the lake at Passy, which was where I was heading a couple of weeks ago and ended up taking the wrong route. Well this time I found it, and it turns out I'd only been 10 minutes away from it the last time I went looking. It's 45 km from home heading in the direction of Italy, and absolutely lovely. While it was quite busy there were loads of parking spaces available and people had plenty of room to spread out and "social distance". If you had young kids it is the perfect spot to keep them amused all day and all for the very reasonable price of €2/day for parking!

Looking towards the Mont Blanc

Sandy beach at the north end of the lake

Fishing is allowed at the south end of the lake

It took me about 90 minutes to walk all the way round the lake and being flat it was an easy walk. I then spent about an hour sitting on a bench reading and watching the world go by, although I must admit these past couple of days I think I need to stay out the sun again because although I don't sunbathe I can feel myself starting to shrivel up (even more) at the moment!

When I got home I found that once again my neighbour was parked in my driveway. I don't know why he does it but it does drive me slightly nuts. They have a single car garage and space for two more cars in front of their house, plus they can easily park six at the back, but I spend half my life waiting for him to move his car off my driveway. I mean, it's not like if they had a house party they would even be stuck for parking spaces because we have plenty of parking in our little housing plan! He used to do it a lot when I was at work and forget to remove it before I got home, but now I'm retired wouldn't you think he would realize I'm unlikely to be gone from my home very long on any given day? The only thing I can think is that his driveway is on a slope and mine is flat - other than that, I've no idea why he does it! Still, if that's the only complaint I have about my neighbours it's not bad really is it, but why he does it I'll never know!

Then when I was unpacking my bag another neighbour rang to give me a letter. He is the Chairman of our Homeowners' Association and the bank had sent him the codes for the internet banking I had requested for our homeowners' account and he wanted me, as the Treasurer, to have them. While I was chatting with him I looked over his shoulder and saw smoke pouring up into the sky between two houses. I couldn't see what was on fire but we could hear the fire brigade almost instantly and within a few minutes we could even see the flames. I can't tell what might have been on fire but I hope it wasn't someone's home. I think maybe not, because while the smoke was still billowing this evening they seemed to have it under control pretty quickly, thankfully!

And finally, I was checking in with my FB walking group this evening, and one lady was saying that she had been pretty disappointed with her walking this year because of the lockdown, and that even though she was wearing her fitbit she hadn't bothered to check it for ages because she didn't feel that she would have accomplished much. However when she did check it she had nevertheless managed to clock up over 700 miles. So she wrote "to those of you who are swithering - don't! Get your boots on and go for it"! Swithering? I had to look that one up, but what a lovely word that is. God I love the English language!

Sunday 9 August 2020

The calm before the storm!

On Friday my friend invited a group of 10 of us over to her place for lunch - a semi-annual tradition it now seems. She is a wonderful cook and she and her husband are gracious hosts. Add to that the fact that their son is a professional pastry chef, I'm sure you can imagine just how good everything was. But boy was it hot! We were in the shade but even so it was still stifling! For the most part we were all retired friends from work, with just two of those present not yet retired - although soon to be doing so. Obviously the chat was (mostly) about work, but we managed to squeeze an awful lot of politics into the afternoon too!

Next morning, however, I had a stonking headache which I put down to the heat 'cos I only had one glass of wine, what with having to drive. So I took a couple of aspirin and almost immediately I had some kind of reaction to it, something I've never had before. All of a sudden someone seemed to have turned the faucet on in my nose and I couldn't stop sneezing or blowing my nose. Seriously, I must have had to blow my nose 100 times in 24 hours, but I guess at least with my red nose there could be a job for me at Christmas. To me I wasn't "ill" in the sense of getting sick, more like an allergy to something (which I get quite frequently) but the bloody thing went on all day and was really tiring!

On Saturday I wanted to go out to buy some sports clothes in the sales because (don't laugh) I really am going to sign up to the local gym come September and my "exercise clothes" really are pretty shabby. Trouble was, while I was in the sports shop I had to keep pulling my mask down every couple of minutes to blow my nose. It must have looked really "weird" to anyone who noticed me, but I tried to take myself away from other people, even though I knew I wasn't "sick" in the sense of covid, but more "sick" in the sense of allergies. Still, I was glad to make my purchase and get out of there pretty quickly!

Anyway, I've signed up for an online exercise coaching programme and in addition to filling out a questionnaire, one of the things they ask you to do is try three simple exercises so they can gauge where to start you off. Ha, I could have told them absolute beginner without going to that trouble, but I did the three tests anyway with predictable results!

The first test was about sitting and rising from a seated position without using your hands or knees! It's harder than it looks and for every hand/knee you use you lose a point, counting down from 10. I managed an eight so not exactly great!

The second test was the stand/sit exercise using a chair. Not at all difficult of course, but depending on your age you should do X number of repetitions in 30 seconds. This one, oddly enough, I sailed through. It's an indication of leg strength (apparently) so I was glad to know one part of me was working fairly well!

The final test was the burpee. I don't think I need to go into any great detail to let you know how I scored on that one. A resounding zero! So as you can see, I'm going to have my work cut out for me. On the plus side, from here on in, the only way truly is up!

The programme starts on 17 August and lasts for 12 weeks so we'll see how that works out - or more precisely, if I can stick to it (for once)!

Having logged my walking this week I've somehow managed to get up to 675 miles in 2020, which is something of a miracle, all things considered. However, seeing the posts on FB from the walking group some of the people in the group are clocking up some amazing distances even now. One man named Richard posted that he had started his walking on 2 January (1 January being his wife's birthday and party time), and in that time he has clocked up 2,000 miles and lost five stone (70 lb)! He posted it on FB so I hope he won't mind my reposting it here. Well done Richard, you're pretty darn inspirational!

Richard in January
Richard in August

All the above notwithstanding, I did bugger all today except lie in my paddling pool reading for about an hour and then spend the rest of the time on the sunbed in the shade. So not many miles achieved today (or for the next few days I imagine). Still, the heat can't go on for ever can it!

Thursday 6 August 2020

He was a good man!

For a few days this week I've had one bloody song going round and round in my head on a permanent loop. Do you ever get that? It's quite a nice song but I won't name it because I don't want to infect you too. Now, finally, it seems to have worn itself out, but just yesterday I read the sad case of a man in Wales who actually committed suicide because of "last song syndrome" - or "earworm", as it's called (I'd never heard of that expression). The poor guy had suffered with this syndrome for years and could no longer take it, so he put his affairs in order, wrote out a list of where everything was with a letter apologizing to his family - and then took his own life! How sad is that! 

In other news, about 10 days ago I learned that a former colleague, Larry, had been taken to hospital after suffering a sudden serious medical event. He was placed in an artificial coma, I believe, and when they realized there was no hope his husband gave permission for the respirator to be switched off and Larry died 24 hours ago! He wasn't a friend but a very dear colleague who I worked closely with when he first joined our organization. He was very likeable, extremely humble and never forgot a name. After I changed jobs I no longer worked so closely with him, that is, until I ended up in HR dealing with the medical insurance and we had more contact again. Ha, I remember one time in a meeting he asked if I could get him a copy of a document so I went and made a photocopy for him. Trouble is, I forgot to put the photocopier on recto-verso so he ended up with a document with only the odd pages included. He pointed it out to me while I was taking the minutes so I just said "apparently Larry will have no comments on pages 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10" - and he burst out laughing!

Our organization was never part of the U.N. system but we applied U.N. common system rules and salary scales and so on, and also used their medical insurance. In 1995 we became a new organization, with a new name but more or less the same tasks so it was decided to leave the common system completely, withdraw from the U.N. pension fund and set up our own rules, regulations, salary scales and medical insurance. Our organization had its headquarters in Geneva and no satellite offices, and since the U.N. system was all $-based it made sense to "go it alone", so to speak!

I'm paraphrasing an awful lot but by virtue of becoming a new organization, the lease with the Swiss authorities for the building where we were located had to be renegotiated. I'm guessing the Swiss assumed that it was a foregone conclusion that we would stay in Geneva - well that is, until the Germans stepped forward and said "hey, our parliament has now left Bonn and moved back to Berlin, so we've got an awful lot of office space and apartments we could make available to you if you wanted to move to Bonn"! Well that put the cat among the pigeons because it wouldn't have just been a question of us moving (we were around 700 staff at that point, I guess), but would have involved many, many country missions dedicated to our organization moving also!!! And that would have been a massive loss for Geneva!

Up until that point, the Swiss did not offer work permits to staff members' spouses, so if you had a couple where both were professional people, there was a big disincentive to coming to Geneva knowing that your spouse would not be entitled to work. The German offer, however, meant that negotiations with the Swiss got opened up and much tougher than they anticipated. The Swiss eventually offered to give the organization the building and accepted to give work permits to spouses of staff members across the board - that meant to all U.N. organizations also. It was quite the victory!

Now my boss ended up doing the bulk of the legwork for drafting the headquarters agreement, the withdrawal from the U.N. pension fund and setting up our own pension fund - and just for good measure, why not let's negotiate with a new medical insurance provider also? He obviously didn't have enough to do! I was on my knees trying to keep up with all the different versions of agreements that were being negotiated with member States, the Swiss authorities, the U.N. pension fund and the call for tender for the medical insurance. When it all started Jordan was three and André was seven and I was working full-time, trying to get the shopping/cleaning and so on done on a Saturday (because God-forbid any stores should be open on Sundays) and then going in to work for a few hours on Sundays to try to catch up. You can do that for only so long and it very nearly did me in. The plus side, though, was that I got to know the details of all these agreements because I'd typed 100s of drafts of each one!

Anyway, just when I thought I could see a light at the end of the tunnel (I didn't realize it was more like a train coming from the opposite direction), Larry brought up the issue of work permits for spouses in same-sex marriages. You see Larry was gay and had been living with his partner for many years. The Swiss, at that time, eventually agreed to recognize common law partners, but only in heterosexual relationships. So Larry and his partner decided to fly off to Canada to get married and then the push was on to have same sex spouses recognized by the Swiss, the pension fund, the medical insurance and the staff rules. So just when I thought I was coming up for air, off we go again. I absolutely agreed with what Larry was trying to do, but I do remember asking him if we could have a Sunday afternoon off from manning the barricades just this once as I was on my knees and he laughed. I also remember him telling me that he didn't realize he was gay until he was 36 so I just said "damn, you were a bit slow weren't you" and he said "yeah, that's what my mom always said". But in the end it all worked out, and he (and many others) were able to get their spouses recognized in the same way as heterosexual spouses were!

I remember one time, when André was probably about five, I had brought him in to work with me after school to wait so I could take him home later. Larry got chatting to him and asking about school, and André said that he had gotten 19/20 on his spelling test, his only mistake being he spelled "chops" as "thops" and Larry cracked up. (As a side note, my kids must both have had problems with spelling words with "ch" in them, because one time when Jordan was little he had to come up with five words with "ch" in them. So I pointed at my chin and he wrote that one down. Then I pointed at a piece of cheese - and he wrote that one down. Then I asked him what a teacher wrote on a blackboard with - so we got number three. Then all of a sudden he went "oh I've got one mommy - chruck")! Anyway a couple of months later I had taken André to his Saturday morning swimming lesson at a pool in Geneva where Larry regularly went swimming. After the lesson I spotted Larry in the cafeteria so I told André to go over to him and say "hi Larry, how are you" - which he did! The look of horror on Larry's face at being approached by a little boy at a swimming pool made me realize immediately what I'd done, so I quickly got up and went and sat at his table. His relief was palpable when he realized it was André!

And so the news of Larry's death has come out and people are sending in tributes because he was universally liked. One guy just wrote in how Larry would often sign his emails "your humble servant" and he commented that wasn't that the truth. He really was a humble - and very likeable - guy. So RIP Larry, you were a good man!

Monday 3 August 2020

What a difference a day makes!

Or what a difference two days make really. Saturday was scorching hot and if I remember right hit 40°. They had forecast storms but we didn't get any - they were saving themselves for Sunday apparently. Even then it was fine during the day, hot enough to sit in the garden and read, and the storms hit late afternoon. It obviously rained during the night although I didn't hear it, but this morning it was so much cooler only reaching 14°C today! So a drop in temperature of 26° in just over 24 hours. I suppose it's no wonder people get sick is it!

It's forecast to head back up again starting tomorrow (I think) and then hit the high temperatures towards the end of the week. It's weird (or maybe not), but as soon as the temperatures start dropping I feel my "oomph" coming back and today was no exception. I made a point of being in bed by midnight so I would be up and running by 8 a.m. I've made a long list of all the things I neglected last week so will be trying to knock at least one of those off each day. I took a trip down to the recycling centre first thing and even though it was raining I then decided to head out to Thyez to get a walk in too. This is my "go to" walk for when I don't want to go up the mountains, and with more storms forecast I definitely didn't want to go up the mountains. So in the space of an hour I got a nice walk along the river bank and around the small lake there to add 10,000 steps to my daily challenge. Except for the fact that my hair turned to frizz it was a lovely walk and definitely the right thing to do, but then do you ever regret going for a walk? Honestly I don't know what to do with my hair because as soon as it gets damp it turns to frizz and I end up looking like a bedraggled rat. I was thinking on the way home that if I really do intend to join a local gym in September I'm going to have to come up with something to do with this mop because I don't want to end up looking like Harpo Marx having a bad hair day!

When I got home I thought "right, that's it, first task on the list - I'm gonna call the IRS". André received his stimulus cheque about two months ago but Jordan hasn't seen hide nor hair of his and has got it into his head that he won't get one now! The only thing we can think of is that he moved in November so potentially it was sent to the wrong address, the French post office didn't forward it and it was returned to the IRS. I tried tracking it through their site using both addresses but each time it comes up as "information not available". So I decided there was nothing for it but to call them. The first couple of times, after going through their spiel, they told me to hold for more information, and after five minutes of total silence I hung up. The third time I did manage to get the "more information" never-ending loop so I decided that come what may I was indeed going to hold and keep holding. In the end I finally got through to a very helpful lady after 20 minutes (so I reckon Jordan will owe me half his stimulus cheque just for that phone call as I believe 800 numbers called from outside the States are not free). But at least I got through!

The lady on the other end was not able to go into specifics so I explained what had happened and what our thinking was. She told me that the stimulus cheques were processed on the basis of 2018 filings (so they would have Jordan's old address), but since he has filed for 2019 already his address should have been updated. Apparently the "information not available" message is just a standard response and I should keep checking until I see a "processing" or "processed" response - but that could take up to Christmas as they still have millions to complete. Failing that I could fill out a form 3911 to trace it but either way it wasn't "lost", as if all else failed he can claim it when he completes his 2020 taxes next year. I know I should leave this stuff to him really but he has no idea about US taxes and I don't mind doing it anyway. Still, it's money neither of the kids were expecting so if/when it does come it will be a bonus!

Today was André's first day back in the office and he said he just sailed through in 45 minutes. I told him not to get too confident as quite a few people were still working from home and it was vacation time for many others anyway, but at least he isn't starting back to work with a nightmare commute immediately. He wants to come over tomorrow night so I can go through his divorce paperwork with him, to see if I can think of anything he has missed. He will also bring his codes for his Swiss ebanking and I will show him how to do that too. It was funny because when we all went out to lunch on Saturday he went into his bedroom and came back out with a few euros from his "spending money" and said he actually likes the envelope system I had him set up because he can see what's what and what he has available to spend. From looking at my French bank on pay day I can see that he has indeed started sending money to his French bank account (hopefully restoring his reputation with them), and putting money into separate savings accounts to save for his own place. Hallelujah, I finally got through to him - I guess the old ways still work then!

My ex called me this morning (mid-day our time, 6 a.m. his time) and I asked him what the heck he was doing up so early. He said he now goes to bed around 9 p.m. (?????) so he gets up early too. That is definitely not the man I was married to, nor is the fact that he has put on 50 lbs since he stopped smoking either, but I guess it's better to have the extra lbs than the tar stained lungs isn't it. In any case, he was so skinny anyway that he actually doesn't look bad with all that extra padding!

Like me he's delighted with Jordan and Jen's news and we chatted for a while about family. Then he told me that he might send André $1,000 "to help him out". So I said, "er I don't really want to butt in here (but I will anyway), but can I make a suggestion and encourage you to split that in two and send $500 to each kid? André on his own makes more than Jordan and Jen together, he's starting to put money into savings and he's living rent-free with Jordan and Jen - who've just told you they're expecting a baby, so don't you think they might be hurt if you send money to André and nothing to them?" He said he hadn't even thought of it that way and indeed that's what he's going to do. Damn I'm glad I caught him before he did something stupid!

And finally, talking of losing weight (we were weren't we), I am indeed going to join a gym in La Roche in September (when it's cooler) because I want to learn how to use the weight machines properly. I can do all that at the work's gym and pretty much have the place to myself but driving into Geneva obviously isn't working out so well so I think it'll have to be La Roche instead. Anyway, having got in a one hour walk today and been careful with what I was preparing for food, I decided to log it into Myfitnesspal to see if I was calculating calories/portion sizes properly (I'm getting better at it, but it's surprising how the "little things" can add up too). Anyway, once I input all my info and hit save, Myfitnesspal indicated that if the next five weeks were like today I would lose eight pounds - so there you have it! Just gotta keep going for the next eight weeks to find out!

Saturday 1 August 2020

En avi eh ay et mami!

Or at least that's what I heard. Jen had called me a couple of days ago to have lunch with them today so I tootled off over to St. Jeoire to be there by 12, which is the time I usually have lunch with André. Turns out they were in the middle of a game of "Big Mouth" so we had time for them to kill before our 12.30 reservation!

Big Mouth!

It's a game we have played before where you put a plastic mouth shield in your mouth and try to say a sentence and your team mates have to guess it. Well André was in full flow when I got there and absolutely doubled up. It was lovely to see actually, given how rotten his life must have seemed to him lately!

Anyway they then decided I had to have a go - which went ok but really - weren't we due at the restaurant soon? Ok soon, but Jordan had to finish up - so I got this!

And what was I supposed to guess from?

"on avi eh a et ami"! So no bloody clue right! I went back and forth and am thinking privately (when are we going to head out for lunch)?

So I get on avi (en avril - in April)

"eh a et ami" (je vais être) and then I couldn't get "ami". We kept going back and forth and I still couldn't get it. It did cross my mind that it was weird that André was filming me when it was Jordan that had the plastic doo-dads in his mouth, but ... what can I say! Eventually I came up with "en avril je vais être mamie" -  which means "in April I will be a grandma"! The buggers. I held it in as best as I could but dammit, I blubbed a little. The funniest thing was it was André who seemed to be the most excited. Well Jen was of course, but Jordan is a worrier so André was all hyped up and Jordan was well, "oh damn what have I done?". But I'm delighted. It's early days yet but I knew it was coming at some point (God willing). But damn, I'm ready to explode I'm so happy!

Because she's so tiny Jen is already starting to show - and is already starting with nausea. Damn I remember that with my first - on the metro in D.C. with a plastic bag in my hand trying not to disgust the yuppie lawyer sat next to me by barfing in his lap. Fingers crossed that all goes well. I'm fit to explode with happiness!

And just to illustrate my happiness, a member of my 1,000 miles in 2020 group posted this photo of him skipping with his granddaughter - a real "Eric and Ernie moment"! "Bring me sunshine ..."!