The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Wednesday 23 June 2021


While the weather remains a bit "iffy" over here, things seem to be slowly returning to some kind of normal. I suppose totally lifting the curfew on Monday helped because even though I rarely go out after 11 pm, just knowing I haven't got to rush back home is very liberating. And if I'm feeling that way I can only imagine how relieved young people feel! André has been out with mates about three times this last week - initially sleeping over at their places because of curfew and then last night he came home at 2 a.m! His fireman friend, Laurent (Zoreille - Ears) invited him to go to a billiard evening in Sevrier on Lake Annecy. I don't think he was expecting to be out so late but since they wanted to stay till the end and Laurent's girlfriend was driving I guess ya just goes with the flow don't ya! But talking of "going with the flow", I think André was regretting mixing his drinks this morning as he had a bit of a sore head. I told him mixing drinks wasn't a good idea, was it. Oh sure, it seemed like a great idea last night, but this morning? Nah, not so much! 

He had a call from the notary this week and will be signing for his apartment on 2 July and getting his keys on19 July, so not long to go now. It's so exciting and we're both looking forward to going out shopping as he needs just about everything! One of the advantages of not having kids at home is that I sleep the sleep of the just, but of course since he's been with me I've stopped putting my phone on "do not disturb" at night when he's out. I won't miss that I can tell you because of course when they don't live with you you have no idea what's going on! Anyway, I got a burst of energy yesterday and spent a few hours working in the garden and then going through one of my linen cupboards trying to get that decluttered. Damn I've got so much stuff, so I started tearing up some old sheets and stuffing them in a bag. When he asked me what I was doing I told him I imagine he'd be needing rags/cloths when he moves into his new place and starts assembling furniture, so I handed him the bag with a "Merry Christmas son"! That's one name crossed off my Christmas list!

Then on Monday I had a dentist's appointment in Geneva and had just got out of there around 3 p.m. when I saw on the local news that a sink hole had opened up just one block from where I'd driven through. It wasn't a major sink hole and no-one was hurt, thankfully, but I imagine traffic was horrendous after that, so that's one more joy to add to the list of no longer having to go into Geneva every day!

Heck that would have done some damage to my suspension
wouldn't it - well the car's, not mine. My bra straps are
designed to withstand an earthquake!

On Sunday France had the first of two rounds of municipal/regional elections and thankfully Marine Le Pen's far right party did worse than last time around - but then again so did Macron's party, so next year's Presidential elections could be interesting!

Last night I finished watching The Serpent on Netflix. It took me ages to get through it because the first five or so episodes had me on the edge of my seat and I didn't honestly know if I wanted to continue. I think the music had something to do with it actually, but it was really gripping stuff, all the more so since it was a true story! Damn, if you ever want a look into a severely deranged mind you could do no better than to watch that series!

And finally the other day I received an email from the bus company my friend and I have taken so many trips with. They were sending out the outings planned for July and August. Trouble is, while I haven't been particularly worried about covid, neither my friend nor I feel up to getting up close and personal with a whole bunch of other people on a bus just yet! Still, looking at where they are planning their outings has given me loads of new ideas of places we could visit on our own, starting in July when most of them open up. I've got about six possibles lined up already, all less than 200 km away from here, so that will give us something to look forward to, even if it's not exactly "holidays" as I might normally have imagined them. Still, no worries, I'm sure they'll be just great as this region of France still continues to pleasantly surprise me!

Wednesday 16 June 2021

A semblance of normality!

So Biden and Putin met in Geneva today and, as would be expected, half of Geneva was closed off and it must have been pretty damn miserable for anyone trying to get to work. I would imagine today would have been the day for people to work from home but of course that's not possible for everyone. I'm sure there was no love lost between the two leaders but by gum doesn't Putin always have a face like there's a bad smell in the room!

André came in yesterday and told me that when he was driving into town he started having trouble with his car seat - it wouldn't stay in the forward position - so he's not sure if he's going to have to make yet another appointment with Ford to get that sorted. He keeps pouring money into the bloody thing and every time we hope that this time that's it, but there always seems to be something new to fix. Admittedly his dad bought it in 2009 so it's not a new car. More to the point, this is the car that his dad went out drunk one Saturday afternoon and spent $60,000 on a brand new car for himself! Man was I pissed off (a) that he was drunk, and (b) that he spent that much money without as much as a "by your leave" to me, even though paying for the damn thing was going to come out of our joint account! At least that was one thing that I insisted he take on in the divorce settlement - reimbursement of his car loan. I mean, it's not like he looked after the damn thing or anything. In fact, about six years ago he had to have a completely new engine put in because he never bothered checking the oil and the engine just blew. So on that basis André bought the car off his dad when he left to go back to the States, and while it hasn't been a bad car as such, it does seem to be constantly haemorrhaging money at the moment. Hell, I told him to just attach a new car to the wing mirror and be done with it but I sense that didn't go down too well! Oh well, not my problem is it!

In other matters, yesterday I took a trip out to the large charity store near here and the first thing I saw as I walked in was a baby bouncy chair - for the grand sum of €6 (brand new they run between €60 and €70)! Talk about lucking out! I've dropped off stuff there before but never actually been in to buy anything. I can't say the place did anything for me, to be honest, but I reckon you could maybe get some halfway decent second-hand furniture if you were just starting out. I don't think I'll be going back again to buy though - I'd rather stick to vide-greniers - but it certainly was worth the trip, once I'd got back home and washed the cover. So now we have somewhere to plonk the babe when he's at my place all for the grand sum of €6!

I see that the British Embassy in Paris is also doing a big push to get expat Brits living in France to hurry up and request their residency permits before the cut off date of 30 June if they have not already done so. Beyond that date, any Brit either living or wanting to live in France will be subject to the more stringent rules that apply to third country nationals. I say hats off to them really because I find it hard to believe that people who live here can be that cut off from the reality of what's required for a Brit after Brexit. I suppose some older people might not be computer-literate, of course, but there have been groups set up to try to help these people do what they need to do in time, the Embassy has addressed letters to Mairies in France to bring this to their attention, and they are also taking out newspaper ads saying "hey, you've got two weeks left to do the necessary"! I suppose some will get caught out but it won't be for lack of trying to reach them!

Now that the good weather has finally arrived my garden has gone nuts. Trouble is, everything seems to flower at once for one magnificent burst of colour in June and then bam it's all gone again. Still, sitting in my garden at this time of year is just glorious!

On the recommendation of a friend I have just finished a book called The Thursday Murder Club, which turned out to be a fun, easy read. It was written by Richard Osman of Pointless fame and it reads just like he speaks. He is, I think, the unintended "star" of the above-mentioned show, a self-deprecating man-giant who reminds me of Brains from Thunderbirds, except that he's probably twice Brains' height. So if you're looking for a simple read, you might like to give it a shot!

Richard Osman (that's him on the right)!!!!

Brains, from Thunderbirds!

Yoga started up on Monday morning and I felt like I weighed 300 lbs and someone had put me in a body cast, that's how supple I was! I wasn't at all worried about covid because although 10 people are enrolled I figured half wouldn't show anyway - which turned out to be true because in the end there were just two of us, so again it was almost a private lesson. Yet again I came out of there feeling wonderful - it's so good to be back. Sylvie, the other yoga lady, told me that the older lady, Cami, from our Tuesday afternoon yoga lesson had died in January. Turns out it wasn't covid but more the fact that she was 90 years old and I guess it was just her time, but crikey, 90 years old and still throwing herself around a yoga mat with gay abandon! Well done Cami, you rocked it to the end girl! Then on Monday night I started up sewing club again. To be honest I could easily drop out of sewing because I'm not enjoying it but since I volunteered to take over as President I feel I need to put a few years in. And again there were only six of us in the large sewing room so no-one seemed to be overly bothered about covid. Then today I determined that I would head back to the gym, which has been closed for eight months and again, don't I know it! Admittedly I went with a bit of a petulant child attitude ("wah, wah, I don't want to do this") but again, I felt so good when I left there. It's a huge hangar-like building on two floors and, as on so many other occasions, there were just three of us upstairs using the weight machines. They also had one side door/wall completely open so there was plenty of air circulating so I wasn't too worried about being around other people. I bumped into Ben, my original trainer, who was the first person I knew that had contracted covid, so I asked him how it was. He said apart from being really tired and sleeping for about a week, it wasn't bad at all, so that's good to hear! I tell you what though, eight months of no or little exercise and those wall-to-wall mirrors do no-one any favours, especially not me! 

And finally, when I got home from my Italian lesson tonight I see that the French Prime Minister has announced the ending of the curfew as from 21 June instead of 30 June because they are so pleased with the way the figures are going here! Wow, that's great! Also, as from Thursday (i.e. tomorrow) masks are no longer required outside for the most part, although they will still be mandatory in certain places, like outdoor markets and so on. Again, wow! I watched an interview with a French epidemiologist who was saying that the figures are so low for May and June as to justify significant easing of restrictions earlier than anticipated but, for the most part, that was down to the weather. He warned that the figures will most likely go back up again in September, in particular with the threat of the so-called Indian variant, but for the time being, it looks like freedom is on the horizon. I'll drink to that!

Sunday 13 June 2021

Spring seems to have been cancelled due to lack of interest!

I'm not sure what happened but mother nature seems to have just skipped over spring this year and jumped straight from winter to summer! Shame really, as spring is my favourite season! I mean, we went from non-stop rain and around 15°C (59°F) to dry as a bone and 31°C (88°F) - and I'm wilting already. Well actually I'm ok as long as I stick around the house because the ground floor stays fairly cool and I can usually get a through breeze going, but of course I can't stay inside for two months can I! Thankfully my basement remains at a fairly constant temperature all year round and is a good place to store fruit and veg, either out on the work surfaces or in the fridge down there. (One thing ya gotta love about winter is you can always keep your wine cold right?)! So the other day I took the bull by the horns and finally got round to pressure-spraying my back terrace. It's a faff to set it all up but it's pretty satisfying to see all that crud coming off all the same. André works in the living room which gives on to the back terrace so I asked him if it would bother him if I ran the Kärcher and he said "as long as you're not doing it in the living room" (smart arse) and then, after I'd finished up, he had the nerve to say he couldn't see much difference! I tell ya, the urge to pressure spray his back teeth right there and then was pretty strong, so I'd say he got off lightly! Then while I was out the gardener came by and cut my grass after almost a month of non-stop rain, so all-in-all everything's looking pretty hunky dory right now!

As I finally got around to preparing Jordan's US taxes on Tuesday I called Jen to ask if I could stop over and leave them for him to sign. I have to wait until they've prepared their French taxes so I can get his final figure for 2020 and then convert it to $$$ for the US filing. What a faff that is for so little income! Still, it has to be done. Actually that's one of the reasons I gave up my green card in 1992. At the time, we were now a family of four living back in Europe, and in order for me to keep my green card I had to visit the US at least once a year. Well with two young kids and a new mortgage there was no way I could have afforded that trip every year so I handed it back. I think the rules have changed since but at least after that I never had to file US taxes again - which is good because I had a decent salary and when the dollar dropped through the floor against the Swiss franc I would definitely have owed! Anyway, Jen said she wanted to run into town to pick up a few things and did I want to come with her. Well I had forgotten how much stuff you have to lug around when you've got a baby in tow! The car seat, the stroller, the diaper bag, the spare bottles. You name it, I reckon a Himalayan expedition has got nothing on a shopping trip with a baby! That being said, Jen's very organized and he was a doll so everything worked out fine, but crikey, there's no such thing as just "nipping out to get a baguette" is there! Still, if you don't prepare you will inevitably get caught out won't you. I remember when André was first born I had a diaper bag for him but decided to leave it in the car while I nipped into the bank in D.C. I realized that was a mistake when a very kind lady pointed out that I'd got "green stuff" running all down my arm! Oh happy days!

Then on Friday I decided to sit in the garden and read for a while but André's US taxes were bugging me so I told him to give me his figures and in about 20 minutes I'd got his return prepared also, so that's a big thing knocked off the list. Just gotta get his French taxes sorted and we'll be home and dry. Oh and it's weird to think that all being well in just over a month he'll be moving into his own place! I was just saying to him the other day that this time last year he was still happily married (or so he thought), and now he's divorced, moved into France, got his residence permit sorted and is moving into his own bachelor pad in a few weeks! Stll, he's happy and I get to see both my kids more than ever before. Lucky me!

Last week Jen's grandparents made the trip down from northern France to see the baby so yesterday we all went out to lunch together on the terrace of the small restaurant near their home and it was really nice. While I can't say the lockdowns have bothered me as much as some, it was a really pleasant change to be sitting outside eating lunch again after all the restrictions and the bloody rain. Yesterday morning Jen and I decided to go to a vide-grenier (a mix of car boot/garage sale organized by the local villages) which was specifically aimed at baby stuff and where all the profits went to a foundation associated with a disease I'd never heard of, nor, I'm ashamed to say, can I remember the name now. But it was really well organized, everything was clearly priced and while the stuff wasn't maybe as cheap as you could get in a regular vide-grenier, it was still a good deal. Jen picked up a whole bunch of clothes for when Charlie is a year old (or more likely, what will fit him at around nine months), a bunch of toys and books and so on. I got a few things too and while everything appeared to be clean anyway, of course we'll both wash it all and put it away until needed. What I really wanted was a baby bouncy seat to keep at my house but I was out of luck, so tomorrow I will head out to the big charity shop near here to have a shufty, failing which I'll just go and buy a new one (but that seems a bit silly as they are in them for such a short time). The vide-grenier was in a village called Contamine-sur-Arve and boy was it pretty. I've driven through it on the main road loads of times, but higher up the mountain and back in amongst the woods were the prettiest rural hideaways you can imagine. I would have loved it years ago but I think as I get older I need to be closer to other people and the size of my house needs to decrease in inverse proportion to my age, rather than the other way around. Still, it was just lovely!

On Wednesday night I went to my first Italian lesson in over a year. and there were only two of us, so it was pretty much a private lesson. Heck, there are only four of us when we're all present so I wasn't worried about going back to "in person" classes. Then my friend came over today and we headed out to the Lac Bleu to go walking. Well that was where we intended to go but we were yacking so much I took a wrong turn and we ended up back at the lake at Thyez and walked along the river Arve into Cluses instead - which was fine in the end because I think that's really his favourite spot anyway. Stopping at Cluses we sat on a terrace and had a drink before heading back along the shaded side of the river, so all in all I got in nine miles today and about 18,000 steps total. As he was about to leave I asked him to take a picture of my feet. When he asked why I told him my yoga class starts back up again tomorrow and the first time she says "place your right hand on your left foot" I'm going to be lost because I reckon I haven't seen my feet in over a year. He just looked at me like I was mad!

And finally, since the rain has eased up my ongoing battle with the slugs devastating my "crops" seems to have abated somewhat. Thank God for that as I hate the buggers. In fact, it seems to be too hot for the snails too, so I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't like the heat. Still, if that's what it takes to get rid of the buggers I can live with it!

Sunday 6 June 2021

Having a rethink!

As from this Wednesday France will be opening up a little more, with our curfew being pushed back from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., and all restrictions being scheduled to cease by end-June. Covid numbers are up slightly with the opening up a few weeks ago, but not dramatically so. There was one death in Haute Savoie in the past 24 hours and the R number is 0.83, so things are still going in the right direction thankfully. To be honest, unless that changes dramatically for the worse I don't see them being able to impose more lockdowns/restrictions because people's livelihoods are being destroyed - but that's just my opinion and what would I know! That being said, my Italian evening class has started back up (there are only four of us in the class anyway) and yoga will restart and my gym will open as from 9th June. Pilates also starts up again on Thursday but I've been thinking about it and I think I'm going to drop out. My life has been pretty "programmed" since I retired and what with starting to look after the Munchkin once a week I don't want to have a commitment every day and not have free time to plan hikes or meet up with friends. The pilates teacher was good and I felt great afterwards but I never actually enjoyed it so I think I'll give it a miss from now on. I mean, if I want more exercise I can go walking, down to the gym or take another yoga class, so decision made then! The only exercise I've been getting these past couple of weeks is my twice-daily slug-flinging and I can already feel the muscles in my right arm starting to develop! If they introduce slug-flinging as an Olympic event, you've got Team GB right here. We've had so much rain that the buggers are everywhere! They've ruined my courgette and chili pepper plants and are desperately trying to get at my lettuce plants - hence the daily arm exercises. I'm going to run round to my neighbour and beg some coffee grounds off her (I only drink capsule coffee but apparently slugs don't like the smell of coffee grounds), and I'm also going to save eggshells and crush those up to put around my plants to see if it helps as I don't want to use chemicals. I pulled up a lettuce to have with our dinner tonight and you have to be very careful how you clean them. I left all the outer leaves in the compost and then basically pressure sprayed what was left. Can't have too much protein in your diet can you!

I also want more free time available because, as I mentioned some time ago, this year I joined Pays Rochois en Transition, which is a local group dedicated to zero waste, recycling, community gardens, etc. They also run a Repair Café twice a month and have just set up a seed exchange for anyone interested in gardening. I'm thinking I would like to get involved with them, but don't know how much time I will be able to offer. They do a lot more than that, of course, but this is what interests me the most and you can't be everywhere can you. Heck if I could be everywhere I'd get around to cleaning my windows as they are embarrassing they're so dirty. Another disadvantage of the sunshine - you can see all the muck! I also learned from the local Magazine de Saint Sixt that a project is underway to build what I hope is a small kinda grocery store/café behind the Mairie, which pleases me no end because goodness knows we need something to replace Stan's café!

André went into Geneva Friday afternoon to go swimming in the lake with some friends, then they had band practice and he called me to say that Max had invited him to stay over (curfew, you see). I said it must feel weird to be 33 and letting your mom know you'd been invited for a sleepover so he asked if he could have 10 euros "to buy some sweeties"! Then today Max suggested they drive up to Chamonix for lunch and André said it was glorious. I'm glad to see he's finally getting to have a social life again after all this time (I guess there's still hope for me then)! I've talked about Max before. He's a friend of both my kids (and is also Jordan's boss) and André was telling me that he's in the process of putting in a €20,000 stair lift for his girlfriend, Elise, since she is wheelchair-bound following a car accident with a wild boar a few years ago (which brings home to me how lightly I escaped after my own encounter with a wild boar that time)! When I asked how they met André told me that Max had been out to dinner with his parents when he spotted Elise having dinner with her friends and chatted with her briefly. He was apparently so smitten with her that he raced back into the restaurant and asked if they would give him the contact phone number for the person that had made their reservation - which, of course, they wouldn't! So knowing roughly the area she had said she lived, he went door to door asking if anyone knew a beautiful young girl in a wheelchair. Someone did, and the rest, as they say, is history! Damn, I didn't know Max was such a romantic! I've always liked him but heaven knows there were times I would have liked to strangle him too, not least of all about 15 years ago when he must have been out partying on New Year's Eve, had too much to drink, and called me around four in the morning asking me to pick him up - but he didn't know where he was! Luckily for him I hadn't had a single drink that evening (I don't like NYE and I was on my own anyway), so I set off looking for him in town at 4 a.m. and brought him back here to sleep it off! Who would have thought that little divil would turn into the rather nice young man he is now!

Yesterday we were invited over to Jordan and Jen's to belatedly celebrate Jordan's birthday and give him the symbols for his drum set (he was dead pleased). Babe was a bit cranky as he'd had his first vaccinations so I got to hold him and walk with him and tell him silly stories - and then he was all smiles afterwards, probably wondering what all that gobblydigook was about. André was imploring him to say tonton (uncle) and he just smiled so André asked me what I thought his first words would be. I told him my feelings are "would ya get your ugly mush out of my face for once" because, seriously, every time he opens his eyes he's got André's mush right there two inches from his face. I tittered, but André didn't think that was funny for some reason!

But tonight André was obviously finding something funny because I'm sitting downstairs and I can hear him roaring laughing up in his bedroom. So I asked him what he was watching and he said Impractical Jokers. In this sketch they have one of the guys pretending to be in space and giving a talk to a bunch of young school kids about what it's like to be in space (the teacher's in on it, of course). The "non-astronauts" are feeding lines to the "astronaut" about what he should do and say. Have to say I had a bit of a giggle too!

Thursday 3 June 2021

Been offline for a while!

I hadn't planned it but the other day I was feeling pretty bleh and decided that I was spending way too much time online - so I decided to take a few days' break! I tend to be on the computer more than watching the television anyway and just for a while I wanted to not think about politics, wars, covid, how long you have to isolate if you go from place A to place B, and even FB and my favourite blogs. My apologies for not commenting but I see from some blogs that I'm not the only one feeling this way at the moment. I also saw that a couple of my favourite blogs have gone private so I just wanted to say I hope you're both ok and will check in with us occasionally to let us know how you're doing. In the meantime, enjoy your privacy!

I can't say things have been bad here, it's just this constant rain and cold-ish weather that's beginning to get even me down. Today, however, was hot and sunny but with the ever present threat of rain it was muggy too - which I guess reminds me of how much I dislike summer. That being said there was the prettiest rainbow tonight as I was shutting all the windows ahead of the latest thunderstorm to head our way!

I see from the local Geneva news that there will be major renovations carried out on the Mont Blanc bridge for the next three months. It's the main bridge across the lake and while they will keep a lane open it's going to be hell for anyone trying to get to work (so what's new, right?)! Add to that Biden and Putin will be meeting in Geneva on 16 June and I'm so, so glad I don't have to try to navigate all that! Which brings to mind a story from just before my husband and I got married. He was a marine stationed at the US Mission and George Bush Sr. was coming to town as the then Vice-President. My now-ex was at my house but as it was only a short distance to the Mission from my place it was an easy walk for him to get there to assume duty. Trouble was, while he made it there in plenty of time, the gates to the Mission had already been locked and he couldn't get in! So the idiot thought it would be a good idea to go round the back of the Mission, throw his briefcase over the railings and then try to climb over - with some very twitchy-fingered Swiss police up on the roof! Thankfully for him the marine on duty recognized him and got him inside the compound, but damn, he nearly made the news that day! Can you imagine the infamy of being the marine having his picture taken hanging over the compound railings!!!! Oh and busted too! The other funny story (well not so funny for the marine concerned) was that the Gunnery Sergeant (who was a really good guy), travelled from the airport in the van that was transporting the VP's luggage, and when it was time to offload he couldn't get out!!! I have no idea what happened but he was locked in the back of the van! I don't know if they broke the lock or what in the end but he eventually did get out and the rest of the visit was "uneventful", I believe! Just as well really, I suppose!

In other news it was Mother's Day here in France on Sunday so I had the kids over for lunch (not dinner as we're still under curfew). It was very nice and I made Jen a card from Charlie and cut some roses from the garden. The next day, 31st, was Jordan's 29th birthday (he was actually born on Mother's Day), so I also made him a card and got him a bottle of good wine, but we and a few friends have all chipped together to get him new symbols for his drum set (he's the drummer in their band and he beats the hell out of them, apparently). Jen's having us over for lunch on Saturday to celebrate his birthday so I'll get to see the little 'un again then! So you see there's no reason I should have been feeling down at all, but I guess this pandemic is wearing on everyone right! Oh, and I finally checked into getting vaccinated but as I suspected I am not eligible for it in France because I'm not covered by the French sécurité sociale (the French health service), so I will have to go into Switzerland, where I am covered with my private medical insurance. As far as I can tell it'll be the Moderna shot - although I'm not really sure - and I have a first appointment in July! Now it's on to getting the nose to the grindstone and off the sofa to get a few things done around here!