The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday 29 January 2021

The gift that keeps on giving!

It looks like we're finally in winter right now. Not what I call "February/March winter" of the howling winds and freezing temperatures, but more the "January winter" of the grey skies and constant drizzle. To be honest it isn't always grey skies even if at the moment it's definitely "January winter", with the constant rain, rain, rain! I went over to Jordan and Jen's this afternoon (lasagna and garlic bread for dinner) and driving along the road next to the Giffre river I was amazed to see how fast flowing and how high the water is. It's beautiful fishing and rafting water, of course, but it's kinda frightening how the water levels can rise so quickly!

Le Giffre

As I was setting off out this afternoon I noticed that this little red car is still on the island in the middle of our housing lotissement. It's been parked there for a few days now right next to the sign that says "please don't park on the island"! We keep the grass cut and the island tidy as it's a nice place for everyone to meet up (covid permitting), so parking on the island is discouraged, particularly given that there are plenty of parking spaces available. Still, there's always one isn't there!

The red sign says "please don't park on the island"!

The French aren't known for being great respecters of rules but I have to say I've been pleasantly surprised at how people have been wearing masks and using the hand sanitizers available at the entrance to every shop. There's a UK blogger who I quite like and who is a tad eccentric (which to me is a good thing), but she is of the opinion that this pandemic is more or less an attempt by governments to "control the plebs" (maybe, maybe not) and that the virus is no more serious than the flu (on that I do not agree with her at all based on first-hand testimony from front line staff). She doesn't like wearing a mask and so goes shopping with a paper she downloaded from the government's website to say that wearing a mask causes her distress (which she is perfectly entitled to do)! She posts about this kind of thing occasionally but I'm beginning to suspect she does it to stir things up as while many people agree with her, a few slap back and tell her how selfish she's being. One lady commented that she presumed she wouldn't be getting the vaccine shot then since it was all a hoax and the whole bloody blog blew up into a fair old handbag fight! I didn't comment as I tend to keep my opinions to myself, but needless to say I don't agree with her stance. She wouldn't get away with not wearing a mask in shops here though because I'm pretty sure you've got to have a paper signed by a doctor in order to exempt you from having to wear a mask on health grounds, and again, to be fair, everywhere I go people seem to be following the mask and the curfew rules! I saw in the paper today a short article on how the Chinese might introduce "anal swabs" to better detect the virus - maybe the French follow the rules because they've also read that article. The "anal swab" visual gives pause for thought though doesn't it!

About an hour ago the French Prime Minister addressed the nation and surprisingly they are not ordering another lockdown. He said the curfew seemed to be working, although maybe not as well as they would like, but as from Sunday they are closing the borders to anyone coming from outside the E.U. (I presume that means also the Schengen area is exempt - i.e. Switzerland for us) unless the travel is essential or the person is a cross-border worker (like André). So the same rules apply: continued curfew, wearing of masks, any non-food shopping centres over 2,000 square metres to be closed (so small businesses can stay open), and mandatory covid tests less than 72 hours old for anyone having to enter France under one of the exceptions above. I guess the ski lifts are still closed, as are gyms, restaurants and the like but what can we do - at least we're not back in bloody lockdown! I do miss my gym and yoga sessions though as I'm starting to creak, but I recognize that those are very definitely first world problems!

After I got home tonight I saw on FB that there was yet another traffic jam on the motorway that I used to take to go to work. People were saying that it had taken them 45 minutes to do 1 km and again, I'm so, so glad I no longer have to do that journey on a daily basis! 

In other news André came in the other night and asked me if I had bought a ticket for Saturday's lottery because someone in the local area had won €11 million. Sadly, it wasn't me - well I won €2.20 - but it's nice to see someone local hitting the jackpot isn't it! André has been off this week in order to use up some of his leave and it looks like he might finally have gotten all the paperwork sorted to get his Swiss car plates switched to French. He also made two trips back to the apartment he shared with Lily in Switzerland and emptied out the storage area/bicycle shed, so I leave to your imagination what my basement looks like yet again! In amongst the stuff he brought back was a box of his dad's paperwork that he left on the table when he upped and abandoned his rented farmhouse five years ago. Seriously, he just upped and left everything - even left coffee grounds in the pot and washing in the washer! I know I've mentioned this before but I went over to his place every weekend for two months to empty that and the two-car garage, so yeah, I had a good idea what was in that box as I had packed up and moved most of it! But, what I hadn't seen was some of the crap regarding his last DUI in March 2010. He left me and moved in with someone I affectionately refer to as "the fat-ankled skank with a face like the north end of a camel going south" in January 2010 and in March 2010 he wrecked not only his own car but also the car the garage had lent him while fixing up his car. So two cars in one week! When he had to appear in court he must have got some of his drinking buddies to write "testimonials" for him, saying what a great happy-go-lucky guy he always was, until recently when "he had separated from his wife and appeared very depressed". Well yeah, buddy, maybe the split with your wife had something to do with you shacking up with The Downgrade ("fat-ankled skank with a face like the north end of a camel going south" being way too long to write out every time). But meh, whatever. Well I was meh until I saw The Downgrade's testimonial. She wrote that he was staying with her "as a friend" (a kinda cosy "friendship" in the same bed though don't ya think) and "yes he was depressed by the break-up of his marriage" (not that she had anything to do with it of course, she was just his bar ho/drinking buddy) and "his depression had probably caused him to drink that night, exceptionally" (ha!), "something he very much regretted"! What this didn't explain though were the three or four other DUIs he had before he became "depressed" by the break up of his marriage. But get this, the bitchy cow, she also wrote that he had also "just found out about the high level of "hidden debt" that he and his wife were in, and she (The Downgrade) would like to point out that it was Madame who handled all the finances"! Sub-text, Madame (me) was syphoning off money and hiding debts. Ha!!!!! I wonder whose salary she thought was really paying for all those rounds of drinks in the ho bar, and wasn't it strange that when the assets were documented for the divorce Monsieur was driving a €60,000 car while Madame was driving a car generously valued at €1,000 (not that I cared). Also Madame didn't have 10 guitars and thousands of €€€€ worth of musical equipment lying around, her only "vice" being buying second-hand books off Amazon! Damn, he certainly spun a tale didn't he. Oddly enough, when Madame blocked his access to her salary quite a few of the friends dropped off the horizon as I guess he wasn't buying so many rounds. Indeed The Downgrade didn't last too much longer before she cheated on him! Oh dear, never mind, how sad! It's also telling that his pension is double that of Madame's, but the latest gf has had to get a job after initially thinking she could retire, and Monsieur has been training to become a school bus driver because he wasn't making it on the money he was bringing in! And guess who has a 25 year mortgage aged almost 60 and no money in the bank, and who has no mortgage and a decent amount in savings. Go on, I bet you can't guess! I tell ya I was furious when I read that this afternoon but in the end I just thought who cares, either that's what he was telling them (I know he told them I was violent), or that's what he truly believed in his alcohol-befuddled state. In the end there're no tag backs, I'm no longer his Chaos Manager, nor do I have to adult for a toddler in an adult body! Maybe I should suggest to The Downgrade that she gets her next covid swab in China!

And finally, after this epic rant, Anne in Alabam was saying that she is trying to learn Swedish but was finding it quite difficult as she "keeps getting her words wrong". Nah, learning languages is easy, particularly Swedish. If you don't believe me ...

Wednesday 27 January 2021

The walking wounded!

I stopped in at my neighbour's yesterday to see if she needed any help. Her hand was operated on on Thursday and she has to keep it dry for around six weeks (I think), so life's a bit difficult for her at the moment, all the more so since her husband was taken in to hospital on Sunday. She said at the moment she's all set but might need some help tomorrow so she'd let me know. When I asked about her husband she said his operation had gone well (putting more stents into his groin), but he was apparently being pretty obnoxious to some of the nurses, so I guess he's not going to win any popularity contests. He told her he was cold the first night in hospital and when the nurse found him all dressed up in extra clothing the next morning she asked why he didn't press the call button, to which he replied that they should have thought about that and made sure there were extra blankets in the cupboard. Strangely, for some reason I don't think it's a good idea to be rude to people who are either going to be operating on you or taking care of you post-op, but that could just be one of my little foibles. It's odd really because he has never struck me as someone given to being overtly rude as, superficially at least, he is always charming (narc much?), but maybe he's forgotten that he's no longer the director of a big bank and is now just another retired "nobody" like the rest of us! Anyway, I told her to just give me a call and André and I will be only too willing to help!

Then my friend who lives opposite sent me a message to say that she'd been inspired to get going with the walking again but damn it if she hadn't slipped and fallen on the ice and now has knees like two black and blue basketballs! Luckily for her a passing couple stopped and helped her to get home, but while she says she's ok I think I'll be popping over there too tomorrow morning. I actually like the winter but snow - or more precisely, ice - can be lethal can't it!

Then today I got a weird FB message from my sister (apparently). I figured it was a bit suspicious as "she" just sent a Youtube video with no message and that was it. So I gave her a call and of course she'd been hacked. They must have done a pretty good job of it because they'd apparently managed to post a "boob" photo on her home page - which she took down pretty quickly - and she has now changed all her passwords. Bloody hell! I don't intend to get off FB (well not yet anyway) because it's the way I keep in touch with my family, but it does make you think twice doesn't it. So then she told me that on Sunday my brother also had a fall and while he wasn't injured he got completely soaked because he couldn't get up and was just lying there in the snow until they found him. This brother is autistic and every Sunday he goes to my sister's for lunch and, as she says, you can set your watch by him. He arrives every Sunday at 10.10 a.m. and when it got to 10.20 and there was no sign of him she knew something was wrong. For whatever reason she walked into the bedroom that looks out over the back garden and that is when she saw a pair of legs sticking out from behind the garden fence - and there was my brother lying like a beached whale in the snow! As I say, thankfully he wasn't hurt but he couldn't get up as it was so slippery and if she hadn't gone in to that bedroom when she did goodness knows how long he would have laid there. Actually, not long I suspect because him being a creature of such regular habits I'm sure they would have headed out to their car quite quickly to go off looking for him, so I guess being "predictable" does have it's good side!

On Sunday I again drove down to the lake at Passy just to get a bit of walking in and while it was glorious - freezing cold but sunny - I also started having a few regrets when I got over to the far side of the lake in amongst the trees because the path was treacherous. I did think about doubling back but in the end I waddled on like a pregnant penguin and was so thankful when I finally made it back to "dry land"!

The lake actually froze!

Messing around with my new Peakvisor app!

On a happier note, Jen is doing fine but absolutely respecting the doctor's orders and spending her time lying on the sofa. To save Jordan from having to come home from work and start cooking I've been either taking food over or having André take it when he stops by. Yesterday I sent over sweet and sour pork and today it was lentil soup, followed by chicken curry, naan and raita, with cream cheese cookies for dessert! Don't tell anybody, but I'm thoroughly enjoying myself!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I follow a FB group that I joined when my husband left. It's kinda sad to see people still going through this crap but a sort of solidarity has seemed to evolve amongst long-time members of the group. I know a few have met up in the US and in Australia and there is even talk about having a larger group meet up and maybe even some solos travelling. Now that sounds right up my alley! I mentioned that I have done 12 solos trips since my husband left and so many people were asking who I went with, what was it like and so on so there is obviously a real interest. Who knows, maybe we can form our own international Meetup group. Anyway, later today someone posted a "karma" post about a police chief from a place called Stinnett in Texas whose fiancée found out that he had been cheating on her with another "fiancée" which, as it turns out, was news to his wife and four kids. As far as they know he had two (maybe three) "fiancées" and potentially a couple of girlfriends also, each of whom were busily planning their weddings and buying rings and so on. These ladies became aware of each other because a friend of one of the ladies knew the guy's daughter and let it be known that he was very much still married, despite producing a supposed marriage annulment document to show to one of the fiancées. So these ladies started working together to piece together his lies and began bombarding the Stinnett police department's FB page with comments (there were nearly 500 comments when I looked). I feel so so sorry for his wife and children, and for the ladies he lied to, of course. They didn't ask for any of this. But sorry for police chief Jason Collier of Stinnett, Texas for the hammering he's getting? Nah, not so much!

And finally, President Macron was supposed to speak to the nation tonight to update us on measures regarding the current covid situation. Anyway it now turns out that he will speak "in the coming days" but there are mixed opinions as to what he will say. Maintain the current rules or new lockdown? Who knows, but I think there is seriously little appetite for a further lockdown. God knows the thought of having to download permission slips in order to go out and being confined to within one kilometre of home again fills me with dread but what can I say, que sera right!

Saturday 23 January 2021

Busy doing nothing ...

The weather has been crappy here again today, a perfect day for just sitting around doing nothing. If I'm being really honest I probably could have gotten a walk in this morning before the rain/snow started if I'd put my mind to it but I didn't (put my mind to it) as it turns out, so there's now a bum-like indentation on my sofa from where I've been parked most of the day reading - and I have to admit, it's been rather nice! I've done so much cooking with André being here that I've got tons of leftovers, so while he's gone I'm going to try to eat those up. So no cooking, and not much else of note was achieved today!

We had a bit of a drama earlier in the week though. Tuesday night (or more exactly around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning) Jen started having pretty strong contractions that were coming around five minutes apart. She's only 29 weeks pregnant so now is absolutely not the time for Biboo (as she calls him/her/it) to put in an appearance. It got so bad that Jordan ended up taking her to the emergency room, where they kept her in. They gave her something to try to stop the contractions and also cortisone injections to boost the baby's lungs in case he decided he couldn't wait, but so far so good. She was beside herself with worry, of course, all the more so since if a mother goes into labour earlier than 32 weeks round here they take them to the hospital in Chambéry (about an hour away) as it's better equipped to deal with extreme preemies. She had a good night's sleep but was still having contractions the next day so they ended up keeping her in for four nights. Long story short, the contractions have calmed down now and after doing a scan of her cervix (which is fine), they've allowed her to come home but on complete bed rest. Thank God for that! Actually Jordan asked André if he would move back in with them for the time being since he can work from home and he (Jordan) will be more reassured if someone is with Jen during the day (although "André" and "emergency" are not words that would trip off my tongue easily together). I plan to go over pretty much every day and cook/clean and I'm sure Jen's mom will do the same as she's off on sick leave at the moment, although she is not currently here in Haute Savoie right now. I'm more than happy to help out and I think Jen will be reassured having André around. Ha, I never thought anyone would see the day that they would be spoilt rotten by my kids! Still, all's well that ends well and the longer Biboo decides to "stay in the warm" the better!

It's all go at the moment though. My neighbour was scheduled to have surgery on her hand on Thursday but the same day her husband came home in a panic as he was struggling to walk. He has had several operations to insert stents into the veins in his legs as they keep collapsing. So he ended up going for emergency tests at the hospital which showed a build up of "plaque" in the stents which could cut off blood supply. I offered to take her to hospital on Thursday and pick her up but her daughter did the necessary and I've offered to come in and help her if she needs it because she can't use her right hand. Then he has to go into hospital on Sunday to have his legs operated on again and should be in probably until Wednesday. She can't drive anyway and even without the operation to her hand she can't/won't drive in the dark, nor will she drive to Annemasse. She was telling me that her son would come and take his dad in on Sunday but the French are implementing a ban on all non-essential travel to France as from Sunday (the son lives in Switzerland) and for those having to travel they must now provide a covid test less than 72 hours old! And all that's in addition to the 18h curfew! Actually, even though this region now has an R number of 1.2, it's looking more and more like we might be forced back into lockdown again sometime soon. So it's all go at the moment and I might be seeing more of the inside of a hospital than I've seen in the past 10 years but at least I'm here and I'm free to run her/them around. Hell, it's not like I've got much else to do is it!

On Friday I picked up my mail and saw I had a letter from the "divorce registry" people and was delighted at the prospect of getting the copy of my divorce certificate so quickly. Except yes, they had handled it quickly, but had returned my request because they wanted a copy of my ID! Well why didn't they state that on the bloody form then? It's not like I "misunderstood" the form - they didn't ask for it! Grrr! But talking of "misunderstanding", I was reading a new-to-me blog today and the lady was bemoaning the trials and tribulations of living in a country where you don't speak the language fluently. Well one of the comments was from a lady who had lived in Spain for a while and she was saying that one day she got her "churros" and "burros" mixed up and ended up asking for "donkeys and chocolate"! Ha, that tickled me because we've all been there!



And finally, I saw in the news that President Biden will be attending the G7 to be held in Cornwall in June but they won't be using "The Beast" (the presidential limo) because it can't handle the narrow Cornish roads. I love narrow country lanes. I think the first time I ever saw such tiny roads was in Herefordshire on the way to the village where my brother-in-law grew up. Talk about picturesque! I'm a bit baffled though as to why they are having an in-person G7 to be honest, and holding it in a place like Carbis Bay, which must be a logistical nightmare when so many heads of state will be attending!

Carbis Bay, Cornwall

Church Cottage, Coddington. Built in the 1600s and the house my
brother-in-law grew up in. It was totally "renovated" when his parents moved
out and is now a B&B!

The issue of not being able to use The Beast for the presidential visit reminded me of the time in 2011 when President Obama visited Ireland. As the presidential convoy was leaving the US Embassy The Beast got stuck on a speed bump - and it was hilarious, if embarrassing. I would have loved it if he had gotten out of the vehicle and gone over to greet the crowds but I guess the Secret Service would have none of it! Shame that!

Friday 22 January 2021

Different perspectives!

André's car has been in the garage this past week to have a few things fixed. One of the parts had to be sent away to the Netherlands to see if it could be repaired, failing which that part alone will cost him around €1,100 to replace! In the meantime we've been pottering along using just my car, which hasn't been a problem in and of itself because André has been working from home and I have about two "outings" a week where I need my car - grocery shopping and trotting down to the recycling centre. Yeah, I know, some of us just live the high life don't we. Anyway, he took my car to run into town the other day and when he came back he told me he had spotted his old girlfriend, Annabel, begging at the entrance to the supermarket. Now I didn't know about any girlfriends before Lily as she was the first one he ever introduced to us, but apparently he dated Annabel - who lives(d?) nearby from about the age of 16. He was telling me tonight that she dumped him to get back with her ex the first time, they got back together again and she dumped him a second time, presumably for her ex again, after which he met Lily. Apparently she called sometime later asking to get back together again but he hadn't bothered answering as he'd had enough of her (aaahhh, young love). Well it turns out that she must have gotten into drugs and has gone totally off the rails. I think she must be the young girl I've spotted begging a few times as I've only ever seen her and a man with a dog begging outside that particular store. He said he was shocked and saddened to see her like that but as he was driving out of the car park he didn't stop and speak to her, and in any case he wouldn't have known what to say!

So then we somehow got talking about his childhood and he told me that "it was an absolute dream". I'm so, so pleased to hear him say that because my memories of my kids' childhood is marred by the screaming matches between me and my ex and the physical violence towards me (but not them), so maybe there were good times before all the bad times kicked in. He said how wonderful it was to grow up in an area with so many mates (there were loads of young boys round here) and having access to the woods, the mountains and the lakes was fabulous. At school he had a great crowd of mates too, and when we got home the first thing he would do was look out the window to see who was outside and then dash off to meet them at la branche (their hidey-hole/meeting place). Again, it gives me so much pleasure to hear him say this because, as I say, I guess my guilt complex only allows me to remember the bad times!

So then I started telling him about how it was the same for me. Oh we were poor all right and I grew up in the inner city as opposed to a small rural village, but in the six row houses where I grew up there were 40 kids, believe it or not, so we always had someone to play with and, being in a city, we always had places to go - the swimming baths, the cinema, the ice rink, the huge central library in our city or, in my case, Birmingham's fabulous natural history museum, which I absolutely loved! It reminded me of Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly, saying how he had the most wonderful time growing up in the Glasgow slums because no matter how poor they were, he always had tons of mates!

As I say, I grew up in social housing where large families were the norm but it seemed everyone looked out for each other and there was much more of a community spirit than there is today. Two doors away from us was the Farley family who were the "rough" ones, but even if some of the boys got into trouble with the police on a regular basis (minor stuff usually), they never gave any of the neighbours any hassle. I giggle when I remember that as my bedroom was at the front of the house I was privy to many a night visit by the police to the Farley family looking for one of the boys. One of the best ones, though, was one night the police rang the doorbell at around 1 a.m. and Mrs. F must have answered the door in the nude and all I heard was one of the police officers saying "of for God's sake woman, put some clothes on will you"!

In other news, the weather here has taken a turn for the worse again and we have a storm blowing a right hoolie at the moment, with more snow forecast, so I don't know if I'll get much - if any - walking done this weekend. But damn it wouldn't you know that I totted up my miles walked tonight and I've totalled 99.85 miles so far this year! So close and yet so far! I'll be spending the weekend alone as André is going to stay over at Jordan and Jen's so they can play guitar and hang out for a while. I think it'll do them both good to break up the covid routine a bit. When I got back from dropping André off (at 18.02h so two minutes past curfew - don't tell anyone), I saw that I'd received an email from the French authorities asking me to stop by their offices in Annecy on 9 February, complete with passport and two photos, in order to finalize my request for my resident's permit. So that's not bad timing at all. After that, I should get my 10-year, renewable permit in about two weeks' time! Yay me!

And finally, did anyone see that sweet story in the news this week about the man in Turkey who was hospitalized and his devoted dog waited for him outside the hospital every day for six days? Oh the family kept taking the dog back home with them but every day he escaped and waited outside the hospital doors until his master came back. How sweet is that?

Man's best friend!

Wednesday 20 January 2021

No longer marking time!

After my comment the other day about "marking time" I was somewhat reassured to realize that I'm not the only one that feels this way. I guess it's normal given the horrible times right? So on Monday I decided that if I don't want to stay stuck in a rut I needed to start knocking off some of the stuff on my "to do" list, rather than the just routine stuff of daily living. So I got onto the new website for requesting French citizenship and pulled up the complete list of documents I will require. I knew I had most of them anyway but was missing a copy of my divorce certificate and form P237 from the tax people to prove that I am up-to-date with my income tax. So I downloaded the form from the French government website to request a copy of my divorce certificate, and filled in another form on the tax website requesting said form P237, stating that it was in connection with my request for citizenship - and whadda ya know, the tax people have already gotten back to me with a statement showing my up-to-date tax status for the last three years! Wow, that was fast. The divorce registry will only have received my request today (if I'm lucky) so that will take a little longer, but once I get my carte de séjour (resident's permit) - which hopefully should come soon - I'll be ready to submit my documents for citizenship. I actually prefer doing this stuff online anyway, but it's a shame it set me back 18 months in my timeline. Still, there's not a lot I can do about that and moaning won't change a thing will it!

Yesterday I received my copy of Haute Savoie magazine and was surprised to learn that between 16 and 23 December they had set up 1,300 covid test centres and tested 626,000 people, 29,000 of whom had apparently tested positive!!!! They even organized shuttle buses for rural areas to ensure as many people as possible were tested. Well done whoever was responsible for putting all that together, it can't have been easy!

My neighbour, Isabelle, also seems to be coming out of her "funk" because she's pretty gung-ho about walking at the moment, even though it means trying to fit in a walk during her lunch hour. We're only walking locally during the week because of her work hours, but as the weather has been glorious it's been quite exhilarating and I'm regularly getting in 10-11,000 steps a day!

We spotted this "tiny home" in the woods near La Bénite Fontaine!

Not a very good photo but this is the local day centre for mentally
challenged/disabled adults and someone decided to build a "Knights of the
Round Table" snowman, complete with sword and armour!

I also spent time in my basement and got the old fridge down there cleaned up and one of the two freezers so I'm obviously feeling quite motivated at the moment. Then I downloaded the Peakvisor and Plantsnap apps because I've finally had enough of never knowing the names of the mountains round here. Oh I recognize some of them, but maybe only three or four, so with my new mountain and plant recognition technology I reckon I'll soon be a walking encyclopaedia!

Tonight André was messing around putting salt down on the back terrace and asked if I wanted to have a snowball fight. Yeah right! So I told him not now as I was making dinner but I would be up for it in August if he liked! The upshot of that is that we made a few snowballs and have put them in my newly-cleaned freezer to save for an as yet unspecified date in August when we'll have that fight! I love that my kids both have a great sense of humour. Then he pulled out a few old photo albums and we were having a good laugh at some of their younger photos but now that's added something else to my "to do" list - scan and upload more old photos into Snapfish albums! 

This is a blurry old photo of Jordan, who must have been about 10,
coming down to dinner dressed as "Larry Potter", Harry's younger brother!

When we'd finished scattering salt outside I picked up the bag of salt to put it back in the garage and nearly fell over. I only bought a 12.5 kg bag because I couldn't pick up the 25 kg bags but crikey, considering that's about the amount of weight I'd like to lose it really brings home how much I'm lugging around when I have to lift it in "bag of salt" form! 

Also in the spirit of no longer treading water, I called a bathroom installation company on Monday and the guy came out tonight to get an idea of what I would like to do with my bathrooms and what is feasible for my budget. Turns out he lives about 200 metres from me in the same village. Small world isn't it. I'm under no illusion that this is going to be cheap but as long as it's within a reasonable budget I'm pretty sure I can find something I like (I'm not difficult in that respect). I think I'll probably go for it because once the bathrooms are done all the "big stuff" will be taken care of, and anything else will, hopefully, just be cosmetic!

I watched parts of the inauguration today and was so glad to see that so far it has gone off without a hitch. It was, of necessity, very understated for several reasons of course, but I thought Joe Biden hit the right note with his speech and is now, hopefully, ready to hit the floor running. He and Kamala have a huge job ahead of them!

And just a quick note to thank Judi in Canada for the Christmas card and chatty letter. I don't know when you posted it but I received it yesterday (Tuesday), but thanks so much, it was a lovely surprise!

Finally, my Words With Friend buddy in New York sent me this joke, which kinda tickled me, so I'll leave you with it in the hope it makes you laugh just a little too!

A husband walks into the bedroom to see his wife packing a suitcase so he asks, "What are you doing?"

She answers, "I'm moving to Nevada. I heard that prostitutes there get paid $400.00 for what I'm doing for YOU for FREE!"

Later that night, on her way out, the wife walks into the bedroom and sees her husband packing his suitcase.

When she asks him where he's going, he replies, "I'm coming too. I want to see how you live on $800.00 a year."

Sunday 17 January 2021


In July 2019 I sent off a request for an appointment with the French authorities to submit my dossier for French citizenship. I got an automated response and then nothing else but since I knew the delay would be very long I wasn't too worried. I have pretty much everything ready anyway, but two of my papers have to be less than three months old when the file is submitted so I've had to hang fire before getting them - a notarized copy of my divorce and an attestation from the tax people! Then my friend sent off her request in October last year and in the automated reply they said to re-send the email if it was a second request, putting the word "resubmit" in the heading. This she did and they got straight back to her with an appointment for December 2021! So I sent in a "resubmit" email and got bugger all. Then, yesterday I saw on FB that as of 1 January 2021 all paperwork must now be submitted online and the Prefecture in Annecy will no longer be taking appointments. Damn! I've waited, what, 18 months and now this. I looked up the link on the website and it looks pretty easy actually so hopefully if I get the two missing papers I can get that sent off in the next couple of weeks. Just as well really, I suppose, because the pass on my French language exam is only valid two years and then I have to take it again (I guess you forget how to speak French after two years then right)! And all this just to submit your dossier. The actual interview to see if you're integrated into French society will probably take another 2-3 years (seriously), but I suppose that at least gives me time to brush up on French history!

Things are still pretty quiet round here though. André has had two appointments with kitchen companies to see what he wants/can afford to get installed in his new apartment and is quite stoked. Then yesterday - as I handed him a coffee and a piece of cake - he suggested I might like to move in with him when the apartment is ready??? Yeah, right, buddy, it's either that or you learn how to cook right? Still it's been nice having him here and we really have been getting on very well so it's been a definite positive. I suppose, having someone here during this second lockdown has probably made it easier, I guess!

I see on the news that the NRA is in the process of declaring bankruptcy in New York and setting up again in Texas as a "non-profit". New York's Attorney General, Letitia James, has apparently been quoted as saying "you can't escape me with bankruptcy" so I guess there are fun times ahead! Seeing all the security precautions they're taking in D.C. makes me kinda sad though. Of course they would have to have enhanced security with any inauguration, but seeing all the barriers in front of the White House hit me somewhat. When we got married in 1985, after a short stint in a law firm I got a job at the World Bank, which is located just a few blocks away from the White House. So when I had nothing planned at lunch time I would walk down to the park to have my lunch, feed the ducks and sometimes stroll past the WH and there were none of those horrible security fences you see now. I know times change and security has had to be increased everywhere but... Heck where I worked we went from having a few overweight retired firemen posing as security (they were glorified parking attendants really), to being totally fenced in with a kind of "moat" on the lake side to prevent anyone from breaching the security fences, installing turnstiles we had to badge through and real security guards and ex-ray machines located in the main entrance (we used to get the anti-globalisation protesters whenever there were big trade meetings). Maybe the world has become a safer place for it, but it's a sad reflection on today's society isn't it!

In other news, my neighbour and I had planned to go walking yesterday since she has every second Friday off, but the day was wet and grey so we didn't go. Well that's not strictly true because around 4 p.m. the rain eased a little and I decided to get an hour's walk in along the railway line before our new 6 p.m. curfew (in force as of yesterday). Today, however, was totally different. The rain had stopped and the sun poked its nose through the clouds so she called me and asked if I wanted to go out. Sure! I would have liked to go up to La Clusaz but I saw on FB that there had been a landslide half way up the mountain gorge and the road was closed. So I suggested we go to Sixt Fer à Cheval and she said she was up for anything because - much to her shame - in the 18 years that she's lived here they have never been out exploring. Now I'm divorced and God knows my husband and I were at each other's throats at the end (I didn't like his girlfriend), but in the early days we were both very much up for getting out and discovering all there is to see around here - something which her husband just isn't interested in. So we set out and stopped off in Samoens so we could take a quick walk on one of the bridges above where they do white water rafting. I remember being one week away from giving birth and André (then four) went running off towards the bridge saying "look mommy, big", and when I got there I almost fainted as the drop over the side of the bridge was about 100 feet! He wasn't in any danger as he couldn't climb that high and I was only a few lumbering metres behind him but I got a fright anyway!

You can't really tell from this angle,
but this is a shot taken over the side of the bridge
and the drop is about 100 feet!

We tried to get up to the waterfall called Cascade du Rouget but the road was blocked part way up so maybe we can have shot at it another day by walking up - there just wasn't time today! It was such a pleasure to take Isabelle up there though because she kept saying "thank you so much for bringing me up here, it's fantastic" - and it really is!

When we got to the end of the gorge we parked up and managed to fit in a 90 minute "trudge" through the snow. If you stuck to the main paths it was okay but go slightly off to the side and you sank up to your knees in the snow, so we both agreed that we'd go looking for snow shoes this week so that we can go back and head out further. It was quite fascinating (to me at least) that in places where something had made a hole in the snow it was actually blue inside and so pretty. And "blue" definitely beats "yellow" as in "never eat the yellow snow" (dog pee)! When we got back from our walk we stopped off and had a glass of mulled wine but we really couldn't hang around too long (a) because of the curfew and (b) because when the sun went behind those mountains it got cold and dark really quickly!

Eerily quiet!

Don't go off piste!

On the way back we just had time to stop in at Picard, the nicest frozen food store around here, where we picked up "truffled mashed potatoes" and ice cream to take home. Isabelle kept saying how much she'd enjoyed herself. I think she's frustrated actually because she has a very stressful job (she's the main breadwinner) and would like to get out and do things during her time off but the kids aren't interested and sadly neither is her husband - although he's a really nice guy. Oddly enough as we were walking back to the car we were both saying how we often don't feel like we've achieved anything. We both cook and clean and keep our homes up but rarely feel like we achieve anything other than the mundane stuff. Maybe other people feel like that too, I don't know, but I sometimes get this odd feeling that I'm just "marking time" somehow and I don't like it. Maybe if we keep plugging away at the walking it will help us both!

When I'd made dinner I saw that Shrek was on TV so André and I sat and watched it. Gosh Eddie Murphy was wonderful as Donkey! I remember one time switching the DVD over to Spanish to see how the Spanish Donkey handled it and I have to say he was also brilliant. In any case André and I had a good laugh. After that Bill Nighy was continuing his documentary series on the world's most beautiful railway journeys and in this episode he was in Sri Lanka, and more specifically Kandy. Gosh that brought back some memories. While not being able to travel hasn't bothered me too much, and goodness knows I've saved an absolute fortune because I haven't been able to take any trips, I must admit I'm quite looking forward to when this bloody pandemic is over and I can scratch the itch that is the travel bug once again!

Thursday 14 January 2021

Not much going on here!

The French Prime Minister spoke to the nation tonight to announce an extended curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. throughout the entire country as from Saturday in order to try to bring the covid numbers down further. The situation will be reviewed again in two weeks and there have been rumours of weekend lockdowns being introduced or even another total lockdown if the new variant covid continues to gain ground. André was saying that they are trying to discourage people from socializing for an apéro before the 8 p.m. curfew so that's why they've extended the curfew to 6 p.m!

"Due to the new lockdown, exceptionally 'apéritif' time
has now been brought forward to 9 a.m."!

I told him if they do introduce weekend lockdowns it'll be just me and him and won't it be fun spending time discussing politics together (not - we have very different political views)!

On Tuesday night we got our first real snowfall of the season - about eight inches I would guess - but by the next morning temperatures had risen enough to have thawed most of the snow on the roads, but still leaving great pools of slush! Great fun! I was leaning out my bathroom window watching the snow falling when I noticed paw prints that had me somewhat intrigued, so André and I were trying to think of an animal that has four linear legs that "hops" about half a metre every fifth step! I don't know - the gaps between the sets of prints had me intrigued, or could it just be that covid isolation is getting to me!

I guess maybe I am getting bored since little things seem to amuse me at the moment. My sewing teacher sent our group a picture of a car covered in heavy snow and I commented could you imagine getting home late at night piddled out of your brains and seeing that? No? So I guess it's just me then!

My neighbour told me about a new store that has opened up selling imported Italian produce so I decided to check it out when I went out shopping. It was bloody cold though (-4°C) and when I went to wipe my hands on the disinfectant wipes I keep in my car I opened up a packet of solid ice instead. I guess I'll have to keep them in my purse for the time being! The store was nice and I'll be interested to see if their fruit and veg have the wonderful taste of the stuff we buy in the market in Turin as the season advances. If so, it'll be a definite "yes" from me. After that I went on to my usual produce store - which is also lovely - and yet again I bumped into Chantal - she of the long fur coat and shedload of make-up. This is the third time I've bumped into her while shopping so I might have to change my shopping routine I guess. I don't understand why but yet again she had on six inch stiletto heels and came skidding into the shop through the snow and slush like an Olympic speed skater! Compare that to me with my thick winter boots and newly-acquired Yaktrax! I guess one of us is doing something wrong then! A few years ago we had another colleague who frankly made Chantal look "understated" and she was the same. Weighed about 200 kg and always wore stiletto heels, whatever the weather. Of course one day she fell on the ice and broke her ankle and when the work's doctor gently suggested she lose some weight (and offered to get her help to do so) and wear appropriate footwear for the snow she went ballistic. Then she tried to claim for a cleaning lady on the medical insurance and tried to have leave days recredited to her for Christmas because "everyone else got to enjoy themselves at Christmas and I didn't"! And this despite the fact that no leave days had been debited from her account because we closed over Christmas. There is a mentality amongst certain people that your employer "owes" you so much and these two were the specialists!

Much as I like Sarah Jessica Parker, what this picture doesn't
show are the aides basically carrying her to her car!

To add to the winter experience, my bloody heating started playing up again last week. Oh the heating downstairs is fine but the radiators in the large bathroom and the three bedrooms on the first floor started coming on at 10 at night and going off around 6 a.m., and this despite the fact that the daytime temperatures were below freezing. I hadn't touched the settings at all so I figured we'd better get Max to come back out but would you believe it, as soon as I called him the bloody things started coming on during the day again as programmed. I have no idea what's going on here, but at least the house is warm all over again!

I've been keeping up with the walking even though I haven't been too enthused lately, and Isabelle and I are planning to go out again tomorrow despite snow being forecast. She's quite keen and since she has the day off I'm up for going if she is. Other than that there's not much going on. Oh I'm doing a lot of cooking and André can sure put the food away (hollow legs I think). I told him if he keeps going like this he'll have to get the doors widened in his new apartment to get his belly through! I finally managed to finish sealing all the windows and doors, putting in new sealant strips on every one. To be honest it wasn't a very difficult job but I'd just do one door then forget about it for a while and so on, but at least they're all done now. And I finished my latest 1,000 piece wasgij - you know, "jigsaw" backwards. To be honest, when I first start doing it it's a pain in the butt and very frustrating, but once I've plugged away at it for a few hours and the pieces start slotting into place it ends up very satisfying. Would you believe I got all the way to the end - so 999 pieces fitted in - and one bloody piece was missing! Then I remembered that Jen had knocked a few pieces on the floor so I looked under the sofa where she was sitting and voilà, I found the last piece. Think I'll give it a rest for a while now though!

The picture on the box!

The finished puzzle!

Sunday 10 January 2021


As I mentioned previously, all of France has been under a 20h - 6h curfew for the last few weeks, with 15 département (states/counties) in the east of the country having their curfew extended to 18h - 6h because of the covid situation. I was fairly sure Haute Savoie, where I live, would become subject to the extended curfew when the situation was reviewed this week but somehow we seem to have "slipped through" and get to maintain the later curfew. A curfew is still a curfew of course, but I can live with this one (well I don't have much choice really do I)!

It's probably the time of year but I seem to be really tired at the moment for some reason, although goodness knows I haven't been doing anything exciting to warrant it - apart from nearly burning the house down yesterday! Well not really, but I did manage to start a stupid fire in the garden! Ya see, I'd been working in the basement again yesterday evening and decided that it was finally time to get rid of some of the paperwork concerning the house we owned in Florida. We bought it in 1999 with a view to renting it out and sold it, finally, in 2003 because I was fed up of the work involved in maintaining a rental that was so far away and I didn't want to have to spend every vacation we ever had in that house. So we sold it. Anyway, yesterday I pulled out the files relating to the purchase and sale of the house and while I will obviously keep those papers, I felt it would be ok to get rid of the files relating to the holiday rentals. Rather than lugging them all upstairs and putting everything through the shredder I decided I could just as easily burn it in the composter at the bottom of the garden, thinking that the ash would be a good addition to the compost. So I started putting in a few sheets of paper and over time it took off a little, although why I choose to do this kind of stuff at nine in the evening, in the pitch black and -4°C I have no idea! Still, it was moving along quite nicely until I came out of the garage and suddenly realized that there was a helluva a lot more flame than a few measly sheets of paper would warrant. Well it turns out that the actual composter had started to burn! I know!!! I reckoned with all the rotting veg in there it was quite safe and never thought for a minute that the bloody plastic bin itself would start to give up the ghost but it did! I had a bucket of water in the garage and put the fire out post haste and with it being at the bottom of a frost covered garden there was no real danger that anything would catch fire but still I reckon it'll be fun explaining that to the neighbours next time they go to throw stuff in the compost!

I've been pretty good about keeping up with the walking so far, just missing one day when I got back from shopping so late that it was starting to get dark and I don't like walking in the dark round here because there are no street lights. The other day I took myself off on the longer Tour de Saint Sixt walk and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't as hard going as I imagined it was going to be. I was a bit surprised though when I was trudging up a path through the woods and a deer came hurtling past me because it would seem that I had taken him (or more likely "her") by surprise, rather than the other way around. Considering how much I huff and puff up that path I can only assume that that deer's survival instincts were a bit rusty or she might have needed a new battery for her hearing aid! But while that was a lovely sight it suddenly dawned on me that it might just still be hunting season - which generally runs from September to February-ish and I probably should have had a yellow jacket on even if I was on a public footpath. And then I got to thinking about how lucky I was that it was a deer that had crossed my path and not a wild boar, so I starting scouting out trees to make a possible run for it if a bad tempered boar decided to come running at me. So while everything worked out well and I got a good walk in, it probably wasn't the best thought-out plan I have ever made!

That being said, a better plan was put into action today when my neighbour called to check if I was still up for going out walking with her. We set off to one of my favourite little lakes at Thyez and when we got to the end of my usual one hour circuit I showed her the notice board where four different "fun run" circuits were laid out. It was odd because the maps were actually upside down compared to where we were standing in relation to the river but once we (she) figured that out we decided to do the shortest of the four walks along the river. And it was really nice, I mean, with all that yacking neither of us really noticed how far we had walked nor how cold it was (-3°C). Isabelle had five layers of top clothing on to my three but we were both comfortable and ended up getting in a good eight mile walk all told (plus a bit of messing around on the exercise machines dotted along the river)!

The lake at Thyez

Photographs dotted around some of the  
bridges we had to cross!

Isabelle trying out the exercise machines
just before we got back to the car!

Our route - the shortest one!

Isa is all motivated to keep going (as much as she can while still working) so it'll be nice to have company when she is available. My car has to go in for its contrôle technique (MOT in the UK) on Tuesday and as it's right next door to a sports shop I'm going to go and look for some Yaktrax, which are kinda like snow chains you put over your boots for walking on the snow and ice! There'll be no excuse for not getting out there walking after that will there!


After dinner this evening I saw that there was "30th birthday" tribute for Mr. Bean, since it was 30 years ago that he first appeared on our TV screens. He was/is incredibly silly and funny, particularly at the beginning, but what is so interesting is that the real Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is much better looking in real life, very intelligent (he is a chemical engineer by training) and so very well spoken. So happy birthday Mr. Bean, it's been fun!

Mr. Bean

Rowan Atkinson

Monday 4 January 2021

This and that!

As usual, there's not much going on here for obvious reasons. At the moment I'm listening to Boris on TV announcing a complete lockdown in England again, just a couple of days after the same was done in Scotland. President Macron is going to speak to the nation on Thursday I believe so I guess we'll see what he has to say then! One thought that did cross my mind though is that given that there has been significant activity in and around Prestwick Airport (Scotland), it would appear that Trump might be planning on flying to Scotland ahead of the inauguration. The thing is, Scotland is in complete lockdown for the next month so I wonder if he will still go. Even if he does rock up (poor Scotland) I have no doubt whatsoever that he will disregard lockdown rules anyway (see Mar-a-Lago). Hell, show him a rule and he'll show you how to trample all over it right?

I was talking to my sister in England this weekend and she was saying that despite all the trumpeting about how smoothly the new Brexit situation is running, the truth might be somewhat different. Her daughter works for Brittany Ferries, which has ferry routes all over Europe, but mainly to France. She only deals with freight trucks and was saying that the truck drivers are doing their nut because they have been given conflicting information about what paperwork they now need to enter the EU. Add to that, Kent has now seemingly introduced a £300 congestion charge which they sprung on the truckers at the last minute while they were stacked along the motorways, so they're not only getting hammered by additional paperwork but also additional, unforeseen charges. In Poole, where my niece works, access to the port is through small back streets so they are having to stop the trucks well away from the port in order to verify paperwork. Talk about stressful! Then today I've been reading about Brits resident in the EU who have been denied access to their flights in the UK while trying to get back home because certain airlines have insisted that their proof of residence in their chosen country is no longer valid. This seems to have been more the case with Sweden, Holland and Spain, but I have to say the British Embassy in Paris have been very much on the ball trying to ensure Brits trying to get home to France are able to do so without hassle. "Piss up" and "brewery" does spring to mind though. One thing's for sure, I won't be leaving France for the foreseeable future unless something very major happens!

André was a bit bored on Sunday so took himself for a drive up to La Clusaz - and he said the place was packed. None of the ski lifts are open but people are doing cross country, snow-shoeing or just walking in the mountains, although he did see a few brave souls actually climbing to the top of the slopes in order to at least get one downhill run in (sooner them than me). He also said the restaurants seemed to be doing a roaring trade in mulled wine and take-away snacks (good for them), but since the car park in La Clusaz was actually full he drove further up the mountain to a lovely spot called the Lac des Confins and had a walk up there! It's one of my favourite spots!

Chalet du Lac - picture l'Internaute

Lac des Confins - pictures Carcalons Ensemble

I've been very good about going out walking so far (I'm 4 or 4), even if it is only for an hour locally. As luck would have it, I got talking to my neighbour, Isabelle, the other day and she was moaning about (a) her weight and (b) the fact that her husband and kids never want to go out walking/exploring and she is itching to get out there. So long story short, it looks like I might have found myself a walking buddy. While I'm happy to go out alone, it is nice to have company sometimes too. She is still working so it would only be on occasional Fridays and at the weekend but I'm happy with that. So yesterday I took her down to the lake at Passy and although it was overcast and very cold we managed to get a good couple of hours walking in. It's a shame it wasn't as pretty as it is when the sky is clear but I'm sure we'll go back again! We also had the foresight to take thermos flasks with tea as it was so cold, and by the time we'd gotten back to the car and it had started snowing, we managed to steam up all the windows in my car with the tea. I bet that gave any passing walkers something to talk about!

Me looking like a lephrechaun!

The view towards the beach

The same shot taken in summer!
When we got back Jordan and Jen were at home as Jordan wanted to record some drum tracks with André for their group. They ended up staying for dinner (but had to be home before the 8 p.m. curfew). I had been having a cook-fest the other day so I had tons of leftovers to eat up and it was lovely to spend time with the three of them. Jen was telling Isabelle that after the baby is born she would like to go walking with us and knows loads of places we can walk/hike, so that'll be something for us to look forward to!

And finally, I was sorting more stuff in the basement yesterday (I can actually see some progress now) when I came across packs of pre-stamped envelopes in among my ex's stuff. Actually there were several packs of the smaller 20g envelopes (with 100 in each) and another 100 pack of 50g window envelopes. So today I stopped in at the Post Office and explained that my ex-husband had obviously bought them about 12 years ago and could I still use them or did I have to make up "the difference" (the price of stamps went up again on 1 January) and believe it or not they are still valid as is as there is no "end date" for stamps and I don't have to make up the difference to what the cost would be today! So, by my calculation he left behind around €430 ($530) worth of pre-stamped envelopes, which I have already split into several bundles to share with my kids! Hell, while I'm incredibly grateful I will probably never have to buy stamps again for the rest of my life, just how many letters did he think he was going to write in retirement?

Two packs of 100 (20g) envelopes at €1.08 per stamp

One pack of 100 (50g) envelopes at €2.16 per stamp!