The view from my window
Friday, 20 May 2022
Thursday, 19 May 2022
I took a trip out to our large, local charity shop last week to drop of some stuff (not enough - I need to do better) and have a look around. As I was almost there a cyclist came belting round a bend, down a hill and on the wrong side of the road! He wasn't a lycra fettishist, just an old fart on a bike, but thank God I spotted him before he got to me. The guy behind me wasn't quite so lucky though as he had to swerve like crazy to miss the idiot! Damn, do some people have a death wish or what? This charity store isn't much cop, to be honest, but they don't do too badly for baby items and I was able to pick up a lightweight, collapsible stroller to keep at my house for just €10 - whereas they run anywhere from €80-€100! So score there then!
On the way home I stopped back off at the garden centre to pick up a couple more of the 7' wooden stakes and a couple of tomato plants. The old guy behind me at the check-out made me laugh though when he said "hon, you've got some high hopes for those tomato plants, haven't you"? Although actually no I don't. My "build my own greenhouse" idea is a roaring flop so that will all have to be taken down, I guess. In all honesty, given the amount I've spent on my "organic gardening" idea so far, I'd probably just be better off buying it all from the health food shop and to hell with it! Still, every spring I get this madcap idea how "this year it's going to be better" and then it mostly goes tits up (if you'll forgive the expression)!
Jen had an interview today for the director position at another local crèche (she was upfront with her current employers about it). I don't know how she did as yet, but if she was lucky enough to get it it would basically just mean a transfer from her nursing job at the psychiatric hospital (where she worked before she had Charlie), on the same pay grade and with all her time in grade respected, so fingers crossed!
Then last week I got a reminder email from the people who prepare my French taxes asking where my paperwork was. I told them I'd been waiting for them to send me the link to the Legal Pilot that we used last time but nope, this time they were using Swisstransfer - and what a wonderful system it is. I'd already prepared my paperwork anyway, but using Swisstransfer it literally took me two minutes to upload everything, type in their email and they'd received it. The difference is that once the document is sent, other than my own copy the email/file then disappears permanently. Clever huh! I would guess these people handle some pretty big tax declarations and can't take the risk of having people's personal tax information possibly being hacked!
On another positive note I recently received my latest water bill so I yet again sent André a message saying "thank you for moving out", because my water bill is now only about a third of what it used to be! And then, I got a phone call on my mobile from "Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes" - which is this region - and while I don't normally pick up on numbers I don't recognize, this time I did and it was my bank/insurance company wanting to review my various insurances. My first thought, of course, was "here we go", but nope he suggested that as my car is now 11 years old I probably didn't need fully comp (I had no idea it was still on fully comp), the insurance amount for renewal of home contents was waayyyy overvalued so all in all I've knocked about €60 off my monthly bill for that, in addition to the €40 a month that I was being charged by my telephone provider for a wifi box I no longer owned. The one place I wouldn't go was my accident/sickness insurance because I have excellent worldwide coverage through my former employer, but all in all I did pretty well from that phone call! Add to that the euro is dropping like crazy at the moment so that gives my Swiss franc denominated pension more bang for my buck, so I'm well pleased!
And finally, the windows guys showed up today to install the three velux windows I'd ordered a couple of months back and man did they work hard. It was scorching hot and they were up and down my stairs and had those babies installed in just five hours. The only thing missing is the blackout screen for the large velux in my TV room, which is on back order, but I'm so pleased with the rest as those rotting windows were starting to get on my nerves. Now if I can just get my bathrooms started .....! But I think I'm going to have to go with someone other than Jordan as he is working all hours God sends at the moment so he's fine with my looking for someone else - although goodness knows I won't be looking forward to the mess when they start that! I think it's time to do some serious decluttering before even thinking about all that!
Wednesday, 11 May 2022
Monday, 2 May 2022
I've been offline completely for a few days again as I felt I needed to take a break for a little while - I find it does me a lot of good. In fact I've actually just realized that I unplugged the TV about three months ago when the guy came to look at replacing my windows and I haven't plugged it back in since, so I guess I might not need that either!
I did watch a brief Youtube video recently though where a Canadian immigrant (from Tanzania, I think) filmed around his local area pointing out how no-one was outside and saying that in his country everyone was always outside chatting and so on. Of course a huge part of that is if you live in a cold country you're hardly gonna be sitting on your doorstep chatting are you, but I got the point he was trying to make. When I was very young, before the council demolished our homes and moved us into new homes, I vaguely remember the women sitting outside chatting while the kids played "in the square". That happened also to a certain extent in our new home too, but much of that seems to have gone now, and I think it's a darn shame because you lose that sense of community! Oh I get it that nowadays most families have both parents working outside the home so who has the time to sit outside and chat, right? But it was brought home to me today when I bumped into a neighbour at the mailbox (she lives a little way away from me) and we had quite a bit of catching up to do. She asked if I thought we'd be having our neighbourhood clean-up/shindig this year and I told her I'd already spoken to the Chairman of our Homeowners' Association and yep, we'd be doing it. Of course winter and covid put the knackers on so much so I think we're all looking forward to meeting up again and having a chat and a drink on the little island in front of our homes. She also told me that the people at number five had moved out and I was quite shocked as I hadn't known. Now to be fair they had always been a very discreet couple but over the years the wife had gotten sicker and sicker (diabetes, I think, but at the time I had thought it was dementia) and so many years ago refused to leave her home at all, which meant that the husband had to do everything, including taking care of her. I barely knew him but had heard a little of what he was going through and my respect for him was enormous. So to hear the wife has now been moved into a care home in a village not far from here and he has found a small apartment nearby makes me so happy for him, as it can't have been easy these past few years, even if their two children visited regularly!
In other news, I decided to take a run out today as I wanted to drop off my recycling and get a baguette from our little local bakery, but I got quite a shock when I pulled into the next village to find that the bakery has gone out of business!!! They've been there the 30+ years that I've lived here and the place was absolutely picture-perfect. In fact I remember when Steve visited a few years ago he commented that it looked absolutely how he had pictured it in his mind! It saddens me to think of the two local corner stores that have also gone out of business recently due to the arrival of a much larger chain store a couple of years ago, but it is a conundrum because I guess we all like the efficiency and pricing of places like Amazon (and Walmart, I'm led to believe) and yet we know that they are putting small mom and pop stores out of business and, from what I hear, don't treat their staff particularly well either! How can the little people ever hope to compete?
Charlie looks to be as fit as a fiddle again now, after his bout with conjunctivis/an ear infection/roseola and chickenpox! But when the roseola didn't seem to be going away a couple of weeks ago they ended up at the emergency room on the Sunday night and it turns out the poor little thing is actually allergic to the antibiotics the doctor had given him for the ear infection!!! Still, I suppose you have to find out one way or another and it's good to know, right!
My sister headed off to their house in Spain 10 days ago and after she'd arrived safely I found out they'd actually had an accident on the way to the port in England. Apparently a motorbike had come belting up the line of traffic crawling it's way to the port, spotted an oncoming vehicle and screeched back into his lane taking half the backside of my sister's car with it. My sister and the man in the car behind started directing traffic, while my BIL tended to the motorcyclist. The ambulance arrived pretty quickly and as he was apparently not badly injured they were able to continue their journey in their smashed up car and made it in time to catch the ferry. Thankfully the car behind them had a dashcam so it will all be taken care of by the motorcyclist's insurance, but since then I've been thinking it might be a good idea to get front and back dashcams too, because if you're ever unfortunate enough to have a need for them they must be a godsend!
I had yoga Monday morning and while we were waiting for a few more people to arrive our teacher was saying that after two months with her Ukranian guests, she really was looking forward to having them leave while they could still part on good terms! One couple had found jobs and gotten an apartment and the other three were moving into a large house that had been provided by the local commune. Frankly I think our teacher is a saint but she said it was even enough to try her patience as they got up late, started cooking lunch around 4 p.m., were noisy and went to bed very late. She also said that nobody took any notice of the fact that a household that size could only run if everyone pitched in and helped with the housework, so, as I say, she will be very glad when they move out! One man fell off his bike last week and was going to have his shoulder operated on the following day so she was already thanking her lucky stars that she had gotten his medical coverage sorted out immediately upon arrival! I have another friend who had taken in three Ukranians and when I asked him how it was going he just said "tricky", so I left it at that. Two of the ladies at our sewing club said the same thing, so while I think it was very altruistic to have done what they did, it hasn't been the roaring success that so many imagined, going by what people are saying!
The other Sunday Jen and I took Charlie up to a vide-grenier in a local town, although I think calling it a town is a bit of a misnomer because it's more like just one street! Still, it was warm and sunny and we had a nice few hours out. At one point Jen stopped to buy churros but when she spotted that they were €6 for 10 she walked away. Apparently they used to be around €2/€2.5 so I guess the price of the frying oil has really gone through the roof! They had a few fair-type things for the kids and an oompa loompa band which fascinated Charlie, so it turned out to be a nice way to get out of the house for a few hours!
And finally, I got this hairbrained idea into my head that I was going to build my own makeshift greenhouse! I know, mad right! So I went out to the garden centre and bought myself two pointed stakes about 4' long and two more about 7' long (I looked like I was going pole vaulting when I carried them to the car). So here's me thinking I can just "tap" them into my rock solid garden with a lump hammer! Well of course that didn't work, so I got the sack of cement out that I just happened to have handy and gently dabbed a little cement around the base of each stake. After leaving it to set for a few hours I went back out to check on them and the bloody things had fallen over (I guess one of the neighbours sneezed) because I'd cemented them to the grass!!! So there was nothing to do for it but to start digging four holes, load them back up with cement and pray. It's not ideal but it's definitely an improvement. Then I placed cardboard down inside the confines and have started fixing ("fixing" being another loose term for what it actually looks like) chicken wire around the outside. I've yet to finish it but the whole thing looks so saggy even I have to laugh. In my mind's eye I knew exactly what I wanted but apparently my mind's eye might need new glasses! If I ever get it finished I'll take a photo of it - I'm pretty sure it'll give you a good laugh!
Saturday, 23 April 2022
|Before - God I can't believe I put up|
with that for so long!
|After - I'm rather pleased with this!|
|Pervert-in-chief, Jimmy Savile!|
Monday, 18 April 2022
I see it's over two weeks since I posted but even though I've been somewhat busy, things haven't been that exciting so I guess there was not much to report really! I fell into a bit of a slump for a few days the other week and got very little done, but I've come to realize if I allow myself that slump it only takes a short while for the energy to get going again. I've always known I'm a tortoise rather than a hare, so I guess it's best to go with your natural flow, isn't it!
So what's new, apart from the fact that my ex has been and gone. As I said previously I didn't think he looked very well when he arrived, but that could initially have been put down to jet leg. As time went on however (he was here three weeks), I thought that he looked less and less well, and on his last day here I thought he looked terrible! That being said, things between us were fine, there were a few run-ins with my sons, but at least he has now met Charlie and seen his boys for the first time in three years. There's a whole other back story too, which I may or may not write about in time, but when I was talking to my sister this weekend and I went on a breathless rant for what seemed like about 30 minutes (but probably wasn't), I realized I haven't done that since we split up! I guess it goes to show where my stress came from, right?
Jen's grandparents had come down for Charlie's birthday so one day we all took a trip into Geneva to visit the Natural History Museum (something Jen's grandparents enjoy very much, apparently). We spent a couple of hours in there, but to be honest when you see some of those sea creatures wouldn't it make you wonder why on earth you ever set foot in the ocean again! There was one exhibit which I can only describe as looking like a huge, fat squid and boy if I ever came across that in the ocean I think I would faint (although I expect the squid might feel the same way looking at me in a swimsuit)!
On my ex's last day we met up over at Jordan and Jen's place for lunch and then sat in the little park belonging to their apartment building waiting for Jordan to finish work. The babe explored his new surroundings, André played guitar and my ex pretty much slept for about three hours lying in the grass. Jen and I each had a bottle of Tourtel lemonade and at one point I looked over at Charlie only to see him playing with an empty bottle. What on earth the neighbours thought seeing us giving "beer" to him goodness only knows!
Other than that I've been pottering around and it's been quite satisfying to be slowly moving things forward in chunks of about a couple of hours work a day. André had given me a €100 gift card for a large garden centre near here so I headed out there one afternoon, fretting slightly because what if I didn't spend the whole €100? Would they give me a credit for the difference? Ha! What a joke! Since when could I not spend €100 in that place? I felt a bit daft at one point, though, because I've been looking for a watering can with a "daisy-thingy" spout for ages but could never find one. I mean, ages and yet while I was in the garden centre I picked up a whole bunch, looked inside one of them and there was the detachable head! Well of course, they put them inside the watering can so as not to lose them! I swear if I had half a brain I'd be dangerous!
|Picture of a watering can - just in case!|
I was also delighted to see that our village is going to hold its first village fête in four years this year. They were doing some rebuilding work at the community hall for the first two years and then of course covid intervened, but I can only imagine how everyone will be looking forward to it this year. It is very rural, something akin to la France profonde, very sociable and it remains one of the most popular village fêtes around!
My friend and I went out to our first vide-grenier last week-end, both of us dreading buying more junk that we didn't need (we didn't), but it was so lovely to be out and about again after so long. It was gloriously sunny but by golly the wind was fierce on that plâteau so we stayed just long enough to have a wander and then hightailed it back to the warmth of the car!
When I got back I was sitting watching my latest Netflix goodie (Anatomy of a Scandal) when the bloody phone went at 11.15 p.m.! I'm getting more and more of these telemarketers and I know it's randomized computer dialing, but do they really think they're going to get any money out of me at that time of night? I don't answer, of course, and they never leave a message, but still, time to unplug the landline at night, methinks!
And finally, I talked briefly over Easter with a friend who is going through a very unpleasant divorce. So unpleasant, in fact, that she found out he had placed what seems to be voice-activated recorders in her home - which is her home that she bought before marriage! Man oh man, there are so many ways you can be spied upon it's unreal. But that brings to mind a story on a site that I follow where one lady discovered that her soon-to-be-ex had placed a GPS tracking device in her car, after he'd run off with his mistress but before their divorce was finalized. So she got her own back on him (and probably drove him mad in the process) by getting her neighbour to place it in his car until the divorce was final. He was a travelling salesman!
Saturday, 2 April 2022
Someone on FB traffic alerts posted a meme to the effect "ha ha to those that took their snow tyres off last week" - and boy was it appropriate! It started snowing yesterday evening, snowing all night and day to leave about an eight inch dump on my car by yesterday morning. The roads didn't look too bad but since I didn't have to go out I thought I may as well stay home. Then this morning I set off to meet up with Jen to go to a bourse for children's stuff as she was looking for a child gate and me - well I just wanted to play with Charlie and drive him nuts (it worked)! I pushed all the snow off my car with a large broom and the roads were pretty much ok - or at least until I got almost to their place and my rear end (the car, not me) spun out on a sheet of black ice as I was going round a traffic island. It shook me up a bit but all was hunky dory in the end when I got the car straightened up, so no harm done. When I got to Jordan and Jen's place I mentioned that I would stop up at André's place afterwards as I had received another letter from the bank for him, and that was when Jordan mentioned that dad hadn't made it to Portugal on Friday as planned and that things were maybe a little "tense" up there! Oh dear, so a leopard doesn't change it's spots then. I might write more about it tomorrow but again, did I ever mention how glad I am to be divorced?
|Out my window when the snow started yesterday evening!|
|About 30 minutes up the road from here, in the ski resort|
of La Clusaz!
Thursday, 31 March 2022
Maybe it's because there's a hint of spring in the air but I finally got a burst of energy again this week and got so much done that had been bugging me for ages! Do you know what I mean by the "eternal invisible to-do list"? The things you need/want to get around to doing but just never seem to get there? Well I decided to start putting the list down on paper and trying to knock a couple of them out every day. I mean, seriously, most of them only take a few minutes anyway, right? So I've been quite a busy bee this week and it feels pretty good. (At this point I was going to post an audio of Arthur Askey singing Busy Bee but thought the better of it - although I'm definitely showing my age with that one)!
My mobile phone bill has been bugging me for quite some time because when I signed up for a new contract (and got my iPhone 11 for €9) about nine months ago, the contract I agreed to was for around €40/month, which was pretty much what I was paying before. But, every month that damn bill would come in and I would be out over €80!!!, and while I'm not obsessive about it I make sure any extra-EU calls (to the UK or the US) are always made via wifi so I couldn't understand why I was still clocking up an €80+ monthly phone bill! Eventually I pulled up my contract online and saw that I was being billed the €40 for my current contract and then another €40 for a different mobile line. So I promptly called them up, sat through God-knows how many "press 1 for ...., press 2 for ...., para español marque el número ...." and finally got through to a real person! I explained my problem to her and asked what that other mobile number was and she said it was the additional number that was linked to my previous 4G wifi contract (as opposed to my new ADSL line wifi)! Say what? I mailed that box back to them about nine months ago (which she acknowledged), but apparently since I hadn't actually asked for them to cancel the contract, I was still paying the extra €40/month, even though I didn't have the equipment! Lordy, lordy, while she was very helpful and cancelled the contract there and then, I do feel it's just another hoop you have to jump through so that they can keep billing you. Not that €40 is that much money, but it sure was bugging the hell out of me!
I also got a bit of varnishing done in my large bathroom as I was finding that my paint job on the made-to-measure unit chipped rather easily. So now I'm having to empty everything yet again and go over the paint job with varnish I luckily just happened to have in my basement. I'm not doing such a great job but I've come to realize that I really am a "good enough" kinda person, so I guess perfectionism really isn't going to be the death of me!
Then I got a load of veggie seeds planted and "housed" behind the sofa in my very sunny living room and man those things are going wild - they look like triffids at this point! I'm praying I haven't jumped the gun and planted them too early since we really shouldn't plant out here before mid-May because of the risk of frost, so if you don't hear from me ever again it will probably be because I have been murdered by a triffid making it's way upstairs and strangling me in my sleep!
|In it's day (1962), that was a pretty good film!|
Then it was time to get the pressure sprayer out, and while I enjoy the actual washing bit, I just hate setting the darn thing up and moving everything out the way, although I have to admit my back terrace looks so much better now - or at least until we get the next sand dump from the Sahara! I also finally got myself booked onto a vegan cookery course at the vegan restaurant up the road. While I doubt I would ever go vegan (vegetarian possibly), the food at this place is just wonderful so I'm thinking it can't hurt to learn how to make some of their dishes, even if they only turn out half as good as in the restaurant!
On the exercise front I went to the gym twice last week and added in two machines that I have always liked and cut out one machine which I think is too hard on my knees. And again, the place is virtually empty every time I go so I will definitely sign back up when my contract expires shortly. At yoga lately she has been teaching us the "Five Tibetans" postures. While I frankly don't understand much about the theory, they are movements designed to stimulate energy (just as the sap in plants/trees begins to rise again in the spring), and while they haven't been my favourite exercises, I can definitely feel a difference compared to the previous postures we have been working on! But isn't it great when you've go so much to learn that everything is a novel experience!
|The "Five Tibetans" postures |
(I don't look anything like this)!
I also finally got off my backside and took myself down to the lake at Passy for a walk earlier this week - which was just as well because it's piddling down here now and I think they've even forecast snow in the next couple of days!
|The Mont Blanc!|
Then on Tuesday night I dropped my car off at Ford for them to take off my winter tyres (ha, ha, there's snow forecast this weekend) and put new summer tyres on. I was bloody lazy though because I could have walked back home in about an hour, but as it was all uphill I chickened out and caught the bone-rattling minibus service back home, on the pretext of figuring out exactly which villages it stops at! When I got there Thiery (the Ford guy) was telling me how busy they are (I thought he looked tired) but they couldn't order any new cars for stock at the moment because most of their steering wheels come from Ukraine! I guess you don't realize how interdependent we all are until something like this happens! On a positive note, I at least managed the one hour walk back down there on Wednesday to pick my car up!
My ex arrived from the States on Sunday in time for Charlie's first birthday. He was due in to Geneva at 7.30 a.m. (I bet that pleased André, who definitely likes his sleep), but the flight was delayed and he only arrived at 10 a.m. Still, he got to meet Charlie later that day and he's just as dotty about him as I imagined he would be. Monday was Charlie's birthday (I know, where oh where has the year gone?), so we were all invited over to Jordan and Jen's for a fondue. I stopped in at Maison Janin to buy a couple of desserts and man is that place a gold mine. It was heaving with so many people buying bread, sandwiches, coffee and desserts, I can't even begin to imagine how much money they must rake in in a day!
Wednesday, 23 March 2022
Progress on all the stuff I want to tackle round here is very slow but at least it is making some forward momentum. Jordan had to come back to my place to replace the piping underneath the sinks in the large bathroom as he wasn't happy with it. As he was doing whatever it is he does, he asked what kind of screwdrivers I had because he needed to poke a hole in the one piece of piping, so I suggested he might prefer to use my soldering iron instead! "You have a soldering iron"? Ha, yes I do, I bought it the other week because I'm starting in on my annual "let's grow fruit and vegetables in weird containers" kick, so I bought it to poke drainage holes in the large plastic jugs/buckets etc. that I'm hoping to use once we can plant outside. Actually I've already got one bucket out in the garden with peas in (I read they're fine to plant out already) and so far they're going great guns. Jordan was actually late getting here because traffic was all backed up on his way through Marignier - which was how he came to tell me that they are laying huge underground piping which will link Marignier to Cluses (about 10 km) in preparation for hooking it up to a kind of power station that will be used to burn trash and supply heat using the generated steam. That's a round about way of saying that they've started an ambitious project to turn our trash into energy, and I think that's great!
I've always been interested in "alternative technology" and different ways of doing things (hence growing lettuces up my cherry tree in plastic bottles a few years ago (the neighbours brought their friends round to have a look)! Many moons ago, when I was pregnant with André, we went to see family in North Wales and my cousin took us to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth - I found it fascinating. I've just looked up their website and they've obviously made great strides over the last 35 years since my visit so I would love to go again!
|Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth!|
|Nazanin and Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter!|
|Chevreuil - a doe!|
|Ecureuil - a squirrel!|
Wednesday, 16 March 2022
Monday, 14 March 2022
I took a short break from the news/social media this week and I have to admit it did me the world of good. I can never stay away too long but a fews days' break seems to do me so much good. Not that the horrid stuff goes away, of course, but it gives my mind a rest to turn it all off, however briefly!
The French elections are getting ever closer and I just saw tonight that two of the more prominent candidates have announced an agreement between their parties to try to oust Napoleon. The French have this weird (to my mind) election process where in order to even stand for election you have to have confirmed support from X number of French mayors. Florian Philippot has been out campaigning solidly for about a year now and I like him very much, but he didn't get enough mayoral support and cannot stand. So he has gotten together with Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (who will be running) to forge an alliance based on five campaign promises and they announced it in a large press conference tonight. Of course the other candidates don't get anywhere near the air time that Macron gets, so while I'm afraid it is almost a done deal that Macron will get back in (he has backers with deep pockets), I would love to see Dupont-Aignan make it through to the second round and maybe people would see that there is an alternative to Macron and vote him in! I don't go in for political debates much but those two working together would be my idea of a pretty darn good team!
On Thursday I drove André back down to Valence to pick up his new car and he is thrilled with it. It's definitely very nippy and everyone is suitably impressed, but when I filled my car back up with petrol when I got back - ouch! It's now at almost $10/gallon so I would think anyone that doesn't have to do the km will definitely avoid it. I just pity those that can't avoid it, although there is (and has been for some time) a big push to get people car-pooling so maybe some good will come out of this price hike!
I finished watching the Netflix series Inventing Anna last week and yet again it kinda blows my mind how seemingly easily some people can fool others! It's the true story (although embellished I would guess) of Anna Sorokin who claimed she was a German heiress and convinced not only friends and acquaintances to fund her lavish lifestyle but also big-name banks. She was 26 when she started her antics in the US and to be honest I didn't feel that the actress pulled it off as she just came across as a rather silly young girl who thought prancing around in a short skirt would make people fall for her lies. Well more fool me, I guess, because that seems to be exactly what happened. Then the other day I watched an interview with the real Anna Sorokin and boy did she come over as an extremely arrogant, smug young woman - you know, with a face you'd just like to punch. More surprising to me is that she was no great looker either. I mean, if she had been some stunning beauty I could maybe have understood the appeal but I guess it just goes to show that if you have the self-confidence or chutzpah to try it, you might just pull it off!
Oh and I almost forgot to mention, Jen asked me the other day if she could throw a surprise 30th birthday party for Jordan at my place on 4 June. Of course I said yes, only to find out afterwards that I'll be hosting about 50 people if they all come!!!! Yikes, pray for good weather won't you! She and her friends will organize it all but will need my house and garden to host everyone. So the first thing I did was get myself a child gate to put across the back garage door - which is right next to the rather nasty cellar steps! There will potentially be five or six very young children at the party and those cellar steps have always given me nightmares whenever young children are around. That being said, Jordan and Jen came over on Saturday for Jordan to install my new bathroom sinks. In the meantime I spent my time on my hands and knees chasing Charlie (he's still not walking) and both grandma and Munchkin were exhausted at the end of the day. On the plus side, Jen had Charlie climb down my internal stairs for the first time very slowly on his belly, to a great round of applause when he finally got to the bottom. Judging by the smile on his face you'd think he'd just carried out a moon landing!
Saturday, 5 March 2022
Wednesday, 2 March 2022
André's car finally died a death last week. His dad had actually bought it new in 2009 and André bought it off him when dad moved back to the States in 2015. He loved that car but as he'd put quite a bit of money into it in 2021 I guess even he knew this latest breakdown was one too many. I think it's a 2009 Ford Mondeo Break but I'm not totally sure, and I don't really know the km on it because it had to have a totally new engine about seven years ago because his dad seemingly didn't believe in putting oil in it! Oh well, at least André got pleasure out of it for a few years. He called me middle of last week to say that he'd seen a car that he fancied on France's central database and what did I think of the price? Ha, as if I know anything about what constitutes a good deal! The only thing I told him is not to buy new because I reckon they depreciate about 10% as soon as you drive them off the lot! He told me that he had a zoom meeting with the bank on Friday to see about a loan and in the meantime I pulled up the bank's web page (we use the same bank), and without logging in I used their loan calculator to get a rough idea of how much he could expect to pay. Just to reiterate, I didn't log on to their site, I just used their calculator - as that's relevant to what happened a couple of days later. Anyway, the car he was interested in was in Valence (about 250 km from here) so I told him I would be happy to drive him down there on Saturday if he set an appointment up with the dealer. As the bank approved his loan on the Friday already, he needed to go there on Saturday morning to sign, so we agreed that I would pick him up and we'd head out straight after the bank. I got to his place around 9.30 a.m. and called to say I was outside. So he goes "so am I". Me: "no you're not, I'm by the entrance". Him: "yes I am and no you're not"! Say what? Turns out he'd sent me a text message (to which I'd replied "ok") saying that he'd come over to my place on his motorbike and we could leave from here. Ha, I was just about to get in the shower when he sent that message and didn't have my glasses on so I replied "ok" to us going together, but hadn't seen or been able to decipher the bit about him coming over here! Oh well, it worked out in the end, he signed the loan paperwork and by 10.30 we were heading out of my village. We'd only gone about 100 metres when my mobile went and although I don't usually answer to numbers I don't recognize, for some reason I stopped and picked this one up, and it was the bank saying that they'd seen I'd been looking at loan calculations yesterday and could they help? Say what? I hadn't logged on to their site and yet they still knew I'd been using their loan calculator! I've always known Big Brother is watching but I really never thought it was that bad! Seriously?
Traffic wasn't too bad considering it was a Saturday, and change-over day for the skiers, so when we got to within 50 km of Valence we pulled off at a motorway rest stop to get something to eat and boy was it crowded. André said he reckoned the restaurant should have asked for our vaccine passports but that place was heaving and they wouldn't have had a snowflake's chance in hell of scanning anyone's pass even if they'd wanted too - but nobody tried anyway! We must have been about 50 people lined up one on top of the other waiting to order, and maybe 200 people in there all in all - so much for social distancing right? Anyway, all's well that ends well, André fell in love with the car right there and then and in a few days we will be driving back down there to pick it up. So when I say he's just like me, I mean that we both make our minds up pretty much instantly. Heck he bought his apartment without even seeing it as it wasn't built yet - he just knew he liked the area and the floor plan, and look how well that worked out. And I'm the same, I knew instantly that I liked the house I'm in now, I can pick out shoes/clothes/glasses in about five seconds flat and pretty much tend to always go for the first thing that catches my eye anyway. Actually since I will hopefully be getting my bathrooms started soon (more on that in another post), I've been looking at tiling for the floor and walls and think I know what I'm going to buy already, after looking online for about 30 minutes!
What's more we had a really good time driving down there, yacking non-stop about anything and everything and it was great. I felt like I had lost my son to a certain extent at the end of my marriage because although it was my husband laying into me (hell, André would be the one dragging him off me most of the time), I think the fact that his dad would later burst into tears did a number on André and that was where I lost him. He told me once "you're strong and dad isn't" and while that's true, I felt it also cost me my relationship with my son as he felt he needed to "be there" for his dad. Thankfully that ended when my ex moved back to the States in 2015. Now, though, we have a great relationship and I'm really happy about that!
In fact just yesterday he called me to ask where I bought my tea bags as he had run out (the good quality ones we get in the UK, not the crappy Lipton stuff they drink over here). I told him where I buy them but also said he should be careful because if the Brits found out he'd let his stock of tea bags run out they might have to take his citizenship away! You can never be too careful these days! I usually buy them at the Chinese store up the road (they sell everything) and just pick them up when I see them (they're not always available), so I told him I would bring him some over on my way to the gym later. Well, when I got there, the weather was glorious and we ended up sitting on his balcony having a beer and putting the world to rights - as you do - so guess who didn't make it to the gym after all - yeah, me!
Talking of unwanted phone calls, I had a call on my mobile today from a Paris number. Like an idiot I picked it up and it was someone trying to get me to set up a monthly donation of €40 to Douleurs Sans Frontières (Pain Without Borders). I guess they're a bit like Doctors Without Borders but I'd never heard of them. Sadly I won't have anything to do with Doctors Without Borders since the day many years ago the then top guy (Bernard Kouchner) crashed his DWB-provided porsche!!!! He may well have co-founded a wonderful organisation, but I didn't like him much to begin with because he was forever falling to his knees "in distress" (great photo op) at some of the awful sites he visited and I just found him to be way too theatrical! Shame really, as I'm sure they do wonderful work! Anyway, I digress! As this bird was pushing very hard to get me to set up a monthly donation I told her that as I was sitting in front of my computer I was just going to look up how much their CEO's salary was and I would let her know. I didn't find it out, as it happens, but I told her I have my own preferred local charities (true) and was able to get her off the line eventually! Then tonight I got yet another bloody phone call on my landline at 8.45 p.m.!!! It's a number that routinely calls me without leaving a message, but seriously? They are calling at 8.45 p.m. and think they're going to get a good reaction?
And finally, poor Charlie has been sick again. Man oh man has that little boy been hammered during his first year! I know, of course, it's because of the day care but he really does seem to have been through the wringer. Jen managed to get an appointment with an out-of-hours doctor as she thought he had chickenpox, but it turned out to be hand, foot and mouth disease again! Say what? This was what he had when he was about five months old and was seriously miserable - much, much worse than covid, which he just sailed through. And we all thought it was a "one and done" but apparently not. Seeing where he got those blisters though (hands, feet, chin and mouth), it was quite obviously hand, foot and mouth again! I went over to help Jen out as the poor little guy was just miserable and wanted to be in someone's arms as much as possible - and then, two days later, he was over it again! The little boy next door also had it (same day care) so the neighbour was going through the same thing at the same time. Still, he's good now and as Tuesday was Carnaval (Mardi Gras) they asked the parents to dress the kids up. You know the character Where's Wally (in the UK), or Where's Waldo (in the US)? Well in France it's Where's Charlie so Jen's choice of outfit for the babe was a no-brainer! Not that he probably could care less, but I'm so glad he was well enough to go back to the crèche on Tuesday as they had a "special surprise" for all the children. And since we're all getting together as a family again on Sunday at Jordan and Jen's place for lunch and a board game afternoon, I'm sure there will be plenty of willing arms to spoil him rotten!
Sunday, 20 February 2022
I got a call from the fuel people last week to say that they would be delivering on Wednesday morning "somewhere between 7 and 10 a.m.", so I rolled out of bed at 6 a.m. to get showered and dressed so he wouldn't catch me in my jimjams if I was the first delivery that morning! Damn was it cold! When I went outside to move my car so he could pull his truck onto my driveway, it was pitch black and freezing and once again it brought home to me how eternally grateful I am not to have to do that any more to go to work!!!! I always get a quote on the price per litre before they deliver and since fuel is what I would call a "miscellaneous" expense (rather than a monthly recurring expense) I keep track of those kinds of bills to know where I stand. But get this, I just so happened to order 1,300 litres of fuel back in June and again ordered 1,300 litres this time. In June my bill was €998 and this latest bill for the same quantity was €1,506!!!! Now I know there's always a price difference when ordering in summer as opposed to in winter but damn, that's a 50% price increase whichever way you look at it!
In other news, I had offered to Jordan to start getting the paperwork together for Charlie's US citizenship, since I know Jordan hates this kind of thing and in any case I have the time. When I looked on the US government website how to go about registering him, as I had a question I shot an email off to the consulate in Strasbourg. About a week later I got a response relative to a "US citizen child who routinely lives outside of the US" and directing me to a completely different link. I don't think it should be too difficult but they are asking for more information about my ex, as the American citizen grandparent. Well he's supposed to be coming over in March to meet Charlie so I gave Jordan a list of papers to ask his dad to scan before he heads over here. I have a scan of his passport (and maybe also his birth certificate) but as they also ask for proof of periods spent residing in the US I told him to ask his dad to either scan his latest tax returns or go to a notary and get some kind of attestation. My heart always sinks a little when I have to count on my ex to do something because so many times he would screw up and not do it "because he forgot" or because .... well who knows why! I used to refer to myself as his chaos janitor (but no more thank God), so I hope he doesn't let us down on this! And talking of family State-side, Jordan was telling me that things are not working out well at all now that the brother, M, has moved back in with grandma. That's no surprise to me, as I mentioned before, but I genuinely feel so, so sorry for her to be dealing with M and having to be his chaos janitor at her advanced age!
I must have been on something of a roll because after that I started trying to upload more paperwork onto the new site in connection with my request for French citizenship - and that was a collosal fail! My resident's permit has three different numbers on it and when I try to create an account it doesn't accept any of the numbers. Then when I try to go back into the old system (as they told me I could), I couldn't get any further than where I left off 18 months ago. So I contacted the Prefecture responsible for naturalisation requests and at first they tried to tell me it was because "my personal situation must have changed in the last 18 months". When I told them that I had divorced 10 years ago but other than that the only change to my status was that I had to apply for my resident's permit after Brexit, so I didn't really know what else to try. In the end they got back to me and said it was a "bug" they were aware of and were working on. I hope that's true because I'm getting nowhere fast right now!
On a positive note, Switzerland lifted 99% of covid restrictions on 17 February, the only remaining restrictions still in force being a requirement to wear a mask on public transport and in medical facilities. No problem there! No more having to show a pass to go to the cinema, the restaurant, to a hotel - nowhere! Thank God! France are tiptoeing around possibly lifting a few restrictions on 15 March, but I think the pressure is on now as more and more countries in Europe are doing away with the restrictions altogether. And of course we have elections coming up mid-April so I reckon he will have no choice but to declare that he's personally beaten covid and could we all just go and vote him back into office next month please!
Saturday morning I went to the market in St. Pierre as I wanted to try to catch the lady who makes the wicker baskets. As luck would have it she was there so I bought myself a new "I'm off to the farmers' market" basket, my current one being 12 years old and starting to show some wear and tear. We got chatting and she was telling me how hard things have been for her during the pandemic as she was not allowed to work for three straight months, so she is another person who will be more than glad when all these restrictions are lifted. After that I met Jen at a vide-grenier (jumble sale) where we picked up a few next-size-up clothes for Charlie for next to nothing. When I got home I decided to walk back into the village to try out our one and only restaurant, which is under new ownership. It used to be called La Fertire, but the (brave) new owners spent a couple of months renovating it, putting in a whole new menu and changed the name to The Variant (!!). Good luck to them. I'm not sure I would want to sink money into a restaurant venture in the current climate. The food was good I have to say and nobody asked me for my pass (although they should have), but I think I prefer the more traditional local cuisine rather than the fancier stuff they are offering. Either way the place was full yesterday lunchtime and I hope it works out for them!
Jen's mom drove up north last week to pick up her dad (grandpap) as she had work she wanted doing in her new apartment and, from what Jen told me, grandpap and grandma need "some time apart" as they have been getting under each other's skin recently! Grandpap is a pretty sociable chap (unlike grandma, who is - shall we say - "difficult") and he very kindly invited us to a restaurant for lunch today so we could all meet up. Despite being way past his nap time, Charlie was an absolute sweetheart, flirting outrageously with a much older lady at the next table and has grandpap absolutely smitten. I tell ya, when the little ones are good it is an absolute pleasure!
And finally, I got "smart" this week and instead of wasting hours sitting watching stuff on my computer first thing in the morning, I picked out a longer video every day and decided to do some yoga while watching it. I have never been one for "meditation" - indeed I usually end up making my shopping list when our teacher tries to get us to "concentrate", so it really didn't bother me to do the exercises while watching/listening to a programme. I felt so good after each session that on Thursday I decided to go back to the gym after goodness knows how many months. It must be nearly a year, since first the gyms were all closed during the various lockdowns and then, not having the pass, I wasn't allowed to go anyway. So with some trepidation I went and I loved it. There was just one man downstairs and another man in the weight room upstairs so I virtually had the place to myself. I took my time and started back up with the programme my trainer had set up for me many moons ago. And it was wonderful! I thought I would pay for it the next day but it really was pretty much ok. Oh I had a few aches in the ol' bingo wings, but other than that, nope, nothing, nada! Maybe it's the fact that spring is just around the corner, but I'm hoping/planning to go back again tomorrow and to start going twice a week thereafter. I'm sure it'll do me the world of good after so long. Who knows, maybe I'll be looking like Miss Ernestine by Christmas (but I wouldn't put money on it)!
|Ernestine Shepherd, aged 85!|