I've been on a bit of a roll this past week, getting stuff sorted and out of here and it's been great! I'd guess it's got more to do with the cooler temperatures than any "come to Jesus" moment on my part, but either way it's felt good to make some progress around here. Last Wednesday I looked after the babe while Jordan and Jen were getting André's stuff out of their garage (now André can deal with it at his own place)! After they'd finished Jen mentioned an old dresser that my ex and I had had in our bedroom (he took the bedroom furniture when he left) so I asked how they were going to get it out of there as it was heavy. She said she was going to put a load of stuff on FB Marketplace for a few €€€€€ to try to get rid of it - unless I wanted it back! Ha, I didn't like it when we bought it so I really didn't want it back 36 years later with water damage to the top! Frankly, I didn't think she would be able to sell it but within about 20 minutes she'd had offers on that, one of the night stands that went with it and a few other things that I would have just dropped off at the recycling centre! Who wudda guessed that people would actually pay money for that stuff. Not me, that's for sure. So then I mentioned that I had a whole bunch of stuff at home that I was planning to take to the charity shop and if she had the time and patience to post it on FB she was welcome to keep the money. For instance, my sister pushed me to buy a sterilizer when the babe was born but new moms don't sterilize bottles these days (true apparently) so I have a brand new sterilizer and bottle warmer that she can try to get rid of. Plus maybe eight copper pans in the basement that my ex bought and I didn't know what to do with. They seem to be quite sought after so anything she can make on the side will be money in their pockets! Which is just as well really because she is working this week, then taking the rest of September off on leave she has to take or she will lose it - and then from 1 October she goes on parental leave for six months to which she is entitled under French law for a first baby under the age of one year! She won't get paid for it (this is where my financial help will kick in) but at least it will get her away from this business of hospital staff having to be vaccinated and will give them six months to decide where to take it from there. I guess Jordan could look for work in Switzerland (and quite easily double his salary), Jen can retrain or she can see where her job situation stands at the end of six months. One thing I had thought though is that she might use these six months to take courses in small business management/accountability since I reckon the way forward for them would be for Jordan to set himself up as a small business owner and easily triple the salary that he is making now. You know, doing the small plumbing jobs that you can't get a bigger business to take on for love nor money around here. To me that's the way it would make sense for them to head - I'll have to bring it up with them next time I see them. And to be honest, I would be happy to take the same course at the Chamber of Commerce too as it wouldn't do any harm would it. Talking of Jen's job (as a psychiatric nurse in an out-patient hospital), I've mentioned before that they are supposed to be 12 nurses when they've only been eight for the past couple of years. Now Jen is taking parental leave and at least one nurse has just resigned so where does that leave the unit? Up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle, I would guess! Jen was telling me that the Director of the hospital where she works has asked all staff to provide information on their vaccination status, and out of around 500 staff, only 125 have so far complied!
What a bloody mess! Since firefighters and first responders also face mandatory vaccination or be put on unpaid leave as from 15 September, one of their firefighter friends was telling Jen that all of the volunteer firefighers at the local firehouse have resigned, and since around 75% of the firefighters are volunteers, well they're in a bloody mess there too. Apparently in the small area they cover, they have lost three people to heart attacks in the last few weeks because they didn't have enough first responder teams to get to them in time! He said they are devastated, of course, but I suspect we're going to hear this more and more as time goes on and the stand-off continues. Conversely they were called out to a person taken ill in a residential home the other week and when the crew got there the lady director of the home asked the fireman for his pass (vaccine passport). When he told her he didn't have one and in any case didn't have to provide one until 15 September she refused to let him in!!! So they ended up in a stand-off, with the director calling his supervisor who, thankfully, stood up for the fireman, and who was eventually allowed in and was able to save that person's life!
I also managed to get my backside into gear and go walking with my friend at the lake in Passy last week and it was just beautiful. I was telling her that I'd ordered a new wifi box and phone (both of which are now on their last legs), but that I hated setting this stuff up and activating sim cards and whatnot but needs must, I suppose. And then I laughed because there was a group of young kids walking behind us and I'm sure if they had understood English they would have roared laughing at the two old biddies in front of them who "didn't know how to set up a wifi network and activate a phone"! You know, just the way we laughed at our parents when they couldn't "get the hang of all this new-fangled stuff"! Heck, when my sister married a Dane and they were packing her stuff to move to Denmark, my mom told her to buy a TV in England before she left, and when my sister asked why, my mom told her that then she'd be able to get the BBC in Denmark!
|The lake at Passy last week!|
We usually do one circuit of the lake and then stop for a drink at the little outdoor cabana there. Well this time we needed the pass, of course, and since my friend has been vaccinated she went up and ordered two take-out drinks. When the girl called us to say that our drinks were ready I went up to pay and she told me to tell my friend that she couldn't sit at that outdoor table if she didn't have the pass (she did, but this young woman didn't know that)! So my friend was sitting at an outdoor table under the trees, with no other table being occupied and about 30 metres away from anyone and she couldn't sit there! Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the restaurant. They have to do what they have to do, but we ended up going from the sublime to the ridiculous, with my friend sitting on the bench and me sitting on the grass next to her!! She came over and sat with me in the grass "in solidarity" but might have regretted it as we both ended up looking like beached whales when we tried to get up!
So this got me to thinking about how this vaccine is so polarizing in, say, the States, and yet not at all over here, and then I realized it's a matter of numbers. From what I see in the States the situation is horrendous but here? Nope, can't see it at all. I've mentioned before that I check the government statistics every day for Haute Savoie (this département - State, if you like) and there have only been 10 deaths attributed to covid in the past 10 weeks! And current bed occupation in ICUs in this State is only at 37%, including all medically sick, not just covid patients. In fact, the hospital statistics are for the State of Haute Savoie and the State of l'Ain, because Ain doesn't have any hospitals and anyone getting sick there either goes into Geneva (if they are covered in Switzerland) or comes into Haute Savoie. In fact, one of the ladies from my sewing club called me yesterday re sewing and when does it start up again and so on. She's a nurse in the second-largest hospital in Haute Savoie and was saying that while they have had a few covid patients on the wards (not in ICU), it's mostly been a case of "a bad cold" (her words, not mine) and they have been able to release them after a few days in hospital. So you see, we're not seeing a pandemic - at least not round here - and so whether or not you're vaccinated is not dividing society and pitting people against each other!
Another thing that is not only not dividing people - in fact it's uniting them, if anything - is this bloody vaccine pass, which I don't think is working out the way the government were hoping. Since it was introduced, all shopping centres larger than 20,000 square metres (so shopping malls, basically) are off limits to anyone without a pass. Except, lawyers have been filing complaints against this (so far four have been overturned), supported by the malls themselves, (of course €€€€ talk), who have seen their revenue go down by between 15 and 40%! Over here, if you want to use a shopping cart you have to insert either a coin or a token and it frees your cart from the storage bay (that ensures that you take your own cart back and they don't have to pay anyone to round up stray carts). Well protesters near Marseilles recently rounded up all the shopping carts in the parking lot and strung them together across the entrance to the mall, thus blocking access to anyone and everyone! Then you have the ridiculous situation where you can get on the Paris metro (the underground train line) without a pass but you can't sit on a café terrace and have a cup of coffee, so in Reims recently, protesters staged a sit-in picnic in the pedestrian area in front of the cafés and restaurants where they would normally be spending their money!
|A protest picnic in Reims!|
Goodness knows the French could have an argument in an empty room, but it has been surprising even to me how much people are sticking together and boycotting the places that require the pass. Masks are still mandatory in any indoor public places and I have never seen anyone kick off about that, but the pass? It seems to be a big "no thanks" all round!
Then on Monday night I attended an emergency meeting at the Mairie where we have our sewing club, the point of which being to inform all the different associations/clubs about the situation regarding the vaccine pass. One of the ladies had been the President of the entire Association for many, many years, and had taught theatre to adolescents (on a voluntary basis) for over 30 years. Well Catherine let rip a rant which was worthy of a balcony in Buenos Aires, all the while being vaccinated herself. She was so lit up, saying that the whole point of this pass was to divide the nation (it hasn't) and how ridiculous it was that you could go to Sunday services at church without a pass, but you couldn't attend the same church in the afternoon to listen to a recital! She went on and on as she was so angry about the whole thing and when she'd finished I started clapping - and everyone joined in! And she's right! There is no coherence at all to this damn pass and everyone knows it. Like I've said before, firemen have to get vaccinated but not police officers, gendarmes have to get it but not politicians (who can number 500 people when the National Assembly is in full session)! Damn, it makes your head spin! So Catherine's response was that she would not be checking anyone's pass if they want to attend her workshop, the yoga lady said the same thing and that she would suspend activities in solidarity. I told them that I intended to resign rather than check passes for a club that I was not allowed to attend and on and on it went! The MJC (where I used to take pilates classes) has seen its membership drop through the floor, the MJC where I take my Italian lessons is off limits to me without the pass, so Italian has gone out the window, and I've just learned that the Tuesday afternoon yoga class is "mandatory pass" too, so that's off limits to me too (actually I suspect no-one will re-enrol). But you know what, I can live without all of this stuff but how are these associations going to survive if this keeps on? They're probably not, right! In theory the pass is mandated until 15 November and is legal under the Constitution as an "urgent, temporary measure". I guess it remains to be seen if they will try to extend it beyond 15 November and/or if they have the stomach to watch so many of these small businesses go under as a result!
In other news, I managed to get another six bags of stuff out of the garage and dropped off at the charity shop the other day, as well as tearing the top bedroom apart and getting it scrubbed from top to bottom now that André has moved out. While he was here I flicked the vaccuum around on occasion but nothing more than that. Since he's moved out I've managed to pull all the furniture away from the walls and get in every nook and cranny to clean and boy does it look better up there (but eeewww, behind the wardrobe)!
All 12 of the apartments in André's building are apparently sold but so far only six people have moved in, so the other day he had an apéritif and invited all the neighbours as a "get to know you" kinda thing. It seems that they are mostly young people so it could turn out well for him. He'd already met Priscilla, his immediate neighbour, but when he had some friends round last week he invited her also. At around 11 p.m. she said she was leaving as she had to work the next morning but they stayed up until 5 a.m. chatting. So at 5 a.m. she sent him a text message, words to the effect "you dirty stop-out, staying up all night and here's me getting up to start work", so he went round to her apartment with a coffee for her and rang the doorbell - and she burst out laughing! Hmmm, she's single and cute so .... (or is it just me adding two and two together and getting five)?
And finally, on Tuesday night I was invited to dinner at my friend's house in Switzerland. He was the person I worked most closely with during my last five years at work. It was only when I got there, though, that I found out I was the only woman. Oh well, not a problem, I knew everyone, except one new colleague anyway. So we ended up being the new guy (a very nice Bolivian), a Chinese colleague, a Pakistani, my Uruguayan friend and me! They were already on the G &Ts when I got there but I turned that down in favour of a glass of wine. It was all right for them as they all lived in Geneva and were taxiing home but nope, not for me. I had two small glasses of wine over a five-hour period and then switched to water as I had a long drive home! But - and I don't know if it's age or what - the wine seemed to give me a stinking headache almost immediately so maybe I can no longer tolerate the histamines/sulfites(?) in white wine either. Damn, I may well end up teetotal before I know it! In any case, C cooked us a lovely meal and I had great fun meeting back up with these guys. Ali, the Pakistani, is a real hoot and can tell story after story! He was the guy who staggered into my office on my last day bearing wine and snacks because he wasn't letting me go without a party. If you remember I was so pissed off at my director that I decided I was leaving (after 35 years) without giving a drink. Well Ali had other ideas and soon everyone was crowding into my office and I ended up having what I reckon was the best leaving do ever! So yep, I had a great evening and it was so lovely to see them again amid all this doom and gloom. C will be helping his father retire back to Uruguay (from Belgium) soon, helping his Romanian grandma move back to Australia and will have his mom moving in with him as she doesn't want to go to Romania, Australia or Uruguay, so Geneva it is! Not sure when I'll get to meet up with him again but I'm sure it'll be great fun living with his mom (NOT!). He says he's moving in with me when that happens so I guess it's just as well I've managed to clean the skeletons out from behind the wardrobe in André's room. Oh happy days - poor guy! That'll be something for him to look forward to, I guess!