The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Monday, 26 December 2022

And so time moves on!

Greetings earthlings (which is what I'm told Santa's elves say). I've been offline again for a few days so missed some of your recent posts (but am hopefully all caught up now)! I'm glad everyone seems to have had a good Christmas and is looking forward to the new year. Oh and I wanted to say to Ms Moon - I'm so glad Mr. M's latest ER escapade turned out ok (I had missed that post while offline)! I also want to mention that I spotted a few comments in my spam folder the other day so I apologize if anyone thought I was ignoring them - well anyone except "Rehana" who seems to be trolling his/her away round blog world again!

As for me, I guess not much is new although the past few weeks have treated me kindly! I bumped into the newest member of our sewing club at the market just before Christmas and she was rhapsodizing about how happy she is to have found our group. She's an older lady and a novice at sewing but is so enthusiastic and told me that she had never met such a friendly group and was having such fun. It's nice to hear, isn't it - and I get exactly what she means about our group. We all seem to have found "our gang" and are indeed very, very friendly and welcoming!

On the good news side I got word from the French authorities that they will reimburse me €2,000 (of the €4,500 cost) when I get my fire insert installed on 16 March. They do this in order to encourage people to get rid of their open chimneys, so while I won't have to demolish my fireplace (I wouldn't have anyway as I like it), by getting the insert it effectively puts the open chimney out of commission. That's surely better than a poke in the eye with a wet fish, right?

On the not so good news side, I haven't done nearly as well with my walking this year and don't really know why. Maybe I just lost my oomph, but I know the excruciatingly hot summer didn't help. Anyway, I've pretty much limped my way to around 900 miles for 2022. I really want to do better in 2023 so I'm going to sign back up to the FB group in order to keep my mind focussed!

This next I mention for no particular reason, but I've yet again been getting quite a few "hallo dearest, I'm the dying widow of ..... and would like to leave you $10 million in my will" or "this is UPS Wisconsin and we're having trouble delivering your parcel" (not surprising really, considering where I live!) and I inevitably respond by telling them to "go shove it where the sun don't shine" and then block. Well the other day I got a strange message from new-to-me email address "movasin" and was just ready to do the same when I took a closer look and it turned out to be the bill from my gynae (whose name is Sina Movarekhi). Damn, I'm glad I didn't have an attack of trigger finger on that one!

Then last week I went to our retirees' association lunch and was delighted to end up sitting next to a few of my favourite retirees (there are some everyone tries to avoid like the plague, of course)! Anyway, I ended up sitting next to Tony - who I was supposed to be going to André Rieu's Zurich concert with pre-pandemic ("for a dirty weekend" (not), as we put it) and we talked about looking up his latest dates now that he's touring again. Well it turns out Zurich is sold out already so it doesn't look like it will be this year for us, but for some reason I also spotted that my favourite comedian, Peter Kay, is back touring after taking a few years away "for personal reasons" and I'm delighted! All of his gigs so far are in the UK (although I know he'd sell out Geneva), so I'm debating asking my sister if she wants to book a date on his new tour to go see him together. I watched 18 minutes of him on Youtube this morning and he had me in stiches as his insight into life in Britain is absolutely spot on!

Peter Kay!

On the Christmas front, Papa Noël again visited our village earlier this week, but I guess Rudolph was having a rest pre-Christmas because yet again his arrival was somewhat unconventional!

I also bumped into Stan and his wife for the first time in ages and was pleased to see him looking well, even though his wife quietly told me that his health was still very much up and down!

With Stan and his wife, Martine!

On Christmas Eve we were invited up to Jordan and Jen's but Jen told us to wear something warm as we were "going somewhere first" - well that is if the landslide she had heard about hadn't blocked our route! Turns out we ended up at the ski resort of Samoëns, which is one of my favourite little towns,(I've written about it a few times already - Samoëns), so that was a nice surprise. We were there to see Papa Noël coming through (again), but this time his sleigh was being drawn by a rather beautiful shire horse. Everyone complied with the request to stay away from the horse and parents were very good at standing back and letting all the little kids go to the front. But wouldn't you know it, I held up my phone to start taking photos and the bloody battery died! Damn! But at least we got to see him for real, although to be honest Charlie was pretty non-plussed (he's still little as yet). After that they let off fireworks in the Botanic Gardens, and while the display was short it was very, very good! I heard an awful lot of English spoken - not sure if they were tourists here for the skiing or imports like me - and even a bit of Welsh so that was nice!

Samoëns (just before my phone died on me)!

Christmas Day was at my place, with Jen's mom making a wonderful sauerkraut lunch - a speciality of her region. I think we all hit it out of the ball park with our gifts this year - me especially with Jordan's self-heating coat. He was thrilled and couldn't wait to get the battery charged to try it, although he was a bit concerned that Jen might steal it from him (no chance) as he knew she would love it too, even if it was too big for her! I bought several gifts for everyone but at one point Jen was scrambling about looking for an envelope I had given her (a gift voucher to a craft shop), which seemed to have gotten lost in the fray - and which actually made me think of this quote from Very British Problems!


At one point Charlie was bouncing along one of the couches and Jen's mom smacked the sofa hard while playing with him. Well I'm ashamed to say a dust cloud flew off that thing and when Charlie emerged from it he looked like something out of The Hound of The Baskervilles! Talk about embarrassing! So this evening I have had my very heavy couches pulled out, scrubbed down and vacuumed thoroughly and yet I still didn't find Jen's voucher. As I moved the heaviest couch out I noticed a plug socket on the back of it??? Say what? Since when has my couch had a plug socket? Well it turns out it doesn't but it had been pushed up so hard against that wall that an old, unused socket cover had stuck to the back of it (I guess it really was time for a good clean then, right?)! Then I spent the next 30 minutes trying to put it all back together again but I now seemingly have one large cushion too many! Ha, so now I'm trying to find a picture of my couches to find out how they go back together. How dumb is that!

Both my kids are pretty funny and while I'm used to them, they often have Jen's mom in stitches. Anyway, André came out with this one last evening and we all burst out laughing!

"What are the three things an American can just never say?

"I'M SORRY"

"YOU WERE RIGHT" AND 




...... "WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE!"

While the first two are obviously not true, the last one is pretty spot on, in my opinion! So after my epic ramblings (you can see why I don't post often, can't you), I hope you have a lovely New Year's Eve and that 2023 is kind to all of us! Meilleurs Voeux - or Namaste from France!



 

Monday, 12 December 2022

How bloody sad!

It's been a strange sort of week this past week. After the big snow dump the other day I spent some time outside shovelling. Not a lot, to be honest, but it's so much easier to get it cleared when it's fresh rather than wait until it's frozen solid! When I'd finished I closed up the garage, walked through the front door and "poof" - no bloody electricity! I knew immediately that it wasn't anything to do with my house because you get that "pop" sound when a fuse blows. No, I reckon this was a local problem, most likely heavy snow bringing down some cables. Who knows! It was already getting dark and if you remember I posted recently about buying six magnetic LED lights and installing them at various spots around my home. So I went round and flicked four of them on and viola (as no-one here in France says), let there be light! Damn I felt invincible, a bit like a cross between Bear Grylls and Ray Mears! I'd even made a point on the first of the month to ensure they were fully charged! How's that for smug. I knew I'd be ok as my stove top is gas rather than electric, but I figured bread and cheese would do for dinner anyway. 

The roads were clear this morning
but we're expecting more snow starting tonight!

So I was bundled up reading on my sofa with a magnetic light behind me when my sister called to thank me for their anniversary card. She and my BIL celebrated 50 years of marriage on 9 December and went away to Dublin for four days as a treat. She said Dublin was bitterly cold and wet (I'm not sure that ever really bothers the Brits) but they had a wonderful time anyway. A wonderful time, that is except for the Albanian illegals! Their taxi driver was telling them that they fly in to Dublin, dump their passports and any other ID and then take off running. Parts of Dublin are now practically overrun and particularly dangerous because of knife crime and just generally filthy. I see what's going on on the south east coast of England with the illegals coming over from France by dinghy (though not all are Albanians), but hadn't realized they were actually flying into Ireland and doing the same over there. Albania is not in the EU and so while they have every right to enter EU countries they are not supposed to stay more than three months. Well good luck with that! I see the new Swedish government has just informed Brussels that (a) they will no longer be spending the EU-required percentage of GDP on foreign aid, and (b) they will automatically refuse asylum requests from anyone found to be Albanian on the grounds that Albania is not at war! Damn, talk about importing more problems!

As I was finishing up snow clearing my neighbours pulled in and as fate would have it, they also just "celebrated" their 50th wedding anniversary, having gotten married the exact same day and year as my sister and BIL. As she got out the car I wished her a happy anniversary and she "shushed me" and told me not to mention it! He's pretty deaf anyway but she told me later that, as she knew would happen, he hadn't wished her a happy anniversary and, in fact, hadn't spoken to her all day! How sad is that!

In other news, I'm still making (admittedly very slow) progress on sorting and getting rid of stuff. The other day I came across a bunch of cards and going through them I found a birthday card from Steve (who died about three years ago) and Brian (who I met in Turkey and I'm guessing died about the same time), from my brother and his wife (both also now dead) and my friend H, who died in Australia almost a year ago now! I finally felt able to get rid of most of the cards but have hung onto those few cards for the time being until I might feel able to get rid of them too!

I also showed a bit more enthusiasm in the kitchen this week and made "chocolate crinkle cookies" (a complete disaster, they would make better frisbees) and a very unusual parnsip and apple soup (from "Oh Crumbs!" blog) which was surprisingly good! Then last night I was at a bit of a loss so decided to flick through Netflix to see if anything good was on. Turns out there wasn't so I ended up watching a Norwegian film called Troll and my goodness, I don't know if it was meant to be a comedy or what, but it was bloody awful, even if the special effects were halfway decent! When I see something like that I often wonder if the actors - assuming they become famous later- are embarrassed by it or if that's just par for the course! Heck I believe Courtney Cox advertised tampax before finding fame on Friends!

Troll!

Yesterday I had some running around to do so decided to stop in at the local library to drop off my books. I wondered about the road up to the library, what with all the snow, but it was ok getting up there. However getting out of there was another matter altogether! The two main routes out of the old town are cobbled stone and steep so as the one had been blocked off I followed the car in front of me over to the other exit. However, I hadn't seen the "diversion" signs and he and I ended up blocked on a little back street in the old town with seemingly no way to get out! In the end we decided to take a one way street the wrong way - well it was about 10 metres the wrong way - and we were able to get out that way and follow a few other cars down through the fields back into town! Yikes, I don't think I'll do that again and it certainly put paid to any quaint idea I might have about moving into the old town!

Where Jordan and Jen live there are three young families on their floor, each with a young child. The youngest is Charlie and the oldest is Tia, who is a year older, and the three families often get together for pizza and play dates. Anyway, dad next door is a volunteer firefighter so the three Munchkins got to sit in a fire truck the other day before going up the mountain to go sledding! Jen said they had a blast!


On the bad news side, I was sad to hear Céline Dion's dreadful news that she has been diagnosed with "stiff person syndrome", an incurable auto-immune disease with a dreadful prognosis! I'd heard of it before but ....! It must be awful to be diagnosed with any kind of illness, especially since she has young children, but how sad and frightening for her. And to think I almost got to see her in Nice a few years ago, except my ex did his usual and staggered home sh*t-faced at 4 a.m. and it was too late for us to leave for Nice! She's bravely talking about being excited to get back to singing again but honestly, I don't see it myself! I wish her luck though, as goodness knows she's going to need it!

And finally, my nephew sent me the press release about the six little kids that had fallen into the water at Babbs Mill lake in Birmingham. At the time of writing, three had died (8, 10 and 12 I believe), a six year old is in critical condition in hospital, and two more are missing! Bloody hell! I have written briefly about Babbs Mill before (here). It's about 200 yards away from where I grew up and we used to play down there all the time, although it wasn't so much a lake back then as just the filthy River Cole. Apparently adults were calling out to the kids not to go near the water but somehow they all ended up on the ice and then disaster struck. It's sad any time, of course, but so near Christmas - I don't know how anyone could ever get over such a tragedy! My heart breaks for all the families involved!

My house was where the red flag is -
48 Dunton Road. As you can imagine, we kids
would always be either playing in the woods
or down at the lake!



Thursday, 8 December 2022

Bugger!

As so often seems to happen, I ran out of steam last weekend so ended up taking a couple of days off from being Bizzy Lizzie! It wasn't too bad though as I still got a lot done! On Friday I picked Jen and Charlie up from the Ford garage and they spent the day here while her car was being worked on. Since she loves putting Christmas decorations up and I hate it, we traded - I cooked and played with Charlie and she got my tree decorated, so we're all happy! I made a rather good split pea and ham soup for lunch - which was a darn sight better than the butternut squash soup I made the other day - or maybe the problem is that I just don't actually like butternut squash! I guess that begs the question "why buy it", right? Don't know really, but I do keep trying!

That's the nice thing about autumn and winter though, isn't it. There's not much that can't be improved by making "bottom of the fridge" soup or quiche! That being said, it's so mild here it's unbelievable. Facebook keeps reminding me that "on this day xxx years ago" the back garden was covered in snow, and while the snow line is creeping ever closer, so far we've mainly just had sunshine and what I would consider above average temperatures! Long may it last!

EDITED TO ADD: WE GOT EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW LAST NIGHT AND IT'S STILL COMING DOWN. I GUESS SNOW-SHOVELLING IS GOOD FOR THE BINGO WINGS TOO!

Jordan is still working up at Flaine (altitude 1,600 metres) and was saying that they have to put snow chains on every morning and evening. Sooner him than me! I remember one time years ago it had snowed overnight and as I was going grocery shopping my friend asked if she could come with me. So the two of us spent the best part of an hour farting around trying to get snow chains on my car - and this despite the fact that the bird in the adverts manages it in about 10 minutes in a pink cashmere sweater and with immaculate false nails (my eye!!!). So we rolled about in the snow for an hour and finally got the bloody chains in place, turned right out of our little subdivision and about 30 metres down the road the snow had all melted!!!! Anyway, all that to say that Jen was talking about Jordan wanting to buy a Milwaukee self-heating jacket. I'd never heard of them but seemingly you insert a battery (shaped like a stick of dynamite) into the jacket and it heats the entire thing up for xxx number of hours! How neat is that! So of course I went online and two days later both the jacket and the rechargeable batteries had arrived! I'd already got all my Christmas shopping done but what the heck!

At yoga on Monday we worked on the "salute the moon" set of exercises (as opposed to "salute the sun") and boy did I feel like I'd been hit by a truck afterwards! Since I was on a roll I also went to the gym for a short-ish workout on the old bingo wings and now I'm discovering aches in places I didn't even know I had places!

Then on Tuesday evening I went to a course at the library in a neighbouring village on how to make your own cleaning products. While it was good, as Jen said, it seemed to call for quite a lot of different items. So the next day I went online and found a recipe for homemade fabric softener - which cost me about 40 centimes to make and gives my laundry a pretty nice smell too!

While I was at sewing club the other week the Mayor of the village that gives us the use of their village hall (and gives us a small subsidy) stopped by to say hallo as he was coming from a meeting in the same building. I got chatting to him and what a nice guy he is. One of the ladies mentioned that I'd just driven to Thonon to pick up a new serger and he told me to "remember to put in for my mileage". Huh? I had no intention of asking for petrol money but he said they actually had money in the accounts and to make sure I put in for it. When I checked out the mileage, turns out I was owed almost €40, so I'm glad he was kind enough to mention it! I was all the more glad I put in for it yesterday, though, when I received a speeding ticket for €45 related to my trip to Thonon! I don't use that road often and had forgotten that there are radars all along it, and while I was only 8 km over the limit I still got done! Don't suppose the accounts would run to covering that huh - nah, didn't think so! Oh well, no good deed goes unpunished, as they say!

Then on Monday afternoon I had another appointment at the gynae's. I'm having to go every three months at the moment but it's nothing he nor I are particularly worried about - just something he wants to keep an eye on for a year! As I was about to leave I mentioned my recent mammogram (I go every two years) and he asked when I'd had it done as he hadn't received anything. When I said about six-eight weeks ago he was steaming mad, saying that he didn't know what was going on with that clinic but mine wasn't the first mamo that he hadn't received and that it was unacceptable! I told him the doctor had told me that everything was fine, but as he rightly said, if things hadn't been fine we had just wasted two months when he could have been following up on it. He was right of course, but then - rather strangely, I thought - he said he didn't know about me, but he was finding that in his profession at the moment the "I don't give a shit" attitude was becoming all too prevalent! The weird thing is I had to agree with him! Not because I'd been on the receiving end of poor treatment myself - not at all - but I've been seeing more and more people commenting about poor attitudes and service in the medical field! How funny that he should say that! Anyway, his office is in the centre of Geneva and I always park in the underground car park that serves the hospital and I hate it! This time half the lights were turned off and even if it was with a view to saving on electricity, I felt very uncomfortable down five floors in the dark on my own! Then, I hate pulling out of that car park because I find the winding exit ramp so tight! And I'm sure I'm not the only one because while Europeans generally tend to drive smaller cars due to our petrol prices, not everyone drives a mini either! And wouldn't you know it, as I was pulling out, for the first time ever I heard a screeching sound of concrete against metal! Bugger! When I got home I took at look at my car and it doesn't appear too bad. It seems I didn't hit the wall as much as scrape my low-slung Ford along the sidewalk leading out of the parking lot! But again, "damn and bugger it"!

On a more positive note, I received the annual cost-of-living adjustment notice from our Pension Fund and while it's a measly 3.3%, I guess that's better than a poke in the eye with a wet fish! The 3.3% represents the cost-of-living increase (average, I guess) in Switzerland because even though I live in France I take my pension in Swiss francs. Interestingly, I saw that had I been taking my pension in euros I would have gotten around 8.5% (France), with the highest quoted being Germany at nearly 10%!!!!! But the swings and roundabouts part of it is that the Swiss franc is so strong compared to the euro at the moment it all more or less evens out in the end!

And again on a positive note, my friend sent me a message to say that GAL Voyages (who we've travelled with a lot) sent her a notice to say that the trip to Holland to see the tulips was back on for April and would we like to pre-book (since that was the trip we had to cancel due to the pandemic), so we're going in to town tomorrow to reserve. From memory we'll be driving up to Belgium and then over to Amsterdam for a few days, on to Keukenhof to see the tulips and then on a cruise for a few days before heading back home! We've always been very happy with this company and I'm about ready for a vacation after three years without! Now if they put the Corsica trip on again this year as well I think I'll be in heaven!

Keukenhof

And finally, a thank you to Bobi in Maryland for my Christmas card (in Anne's Christmas card exchange). It came today!


Sunday, 27 November 2022

Had a good week this week!

I have no idea why but for some reason this week has felt like a really good one! I got a lot done that has been hanging over my head for ages but it hasn't felt like a chore. I don't know, maybe I just paced myself a bit better. I know what really helped, though, is getting back to yoga on Monday morning! I've missed a couple of weeks, what with having fuel delivered one week and then my car breaking down, but if there's one thing that sets me up for the week it's yoga - and that despite the fact that I have to force myself to go there! This week there was a new-to-me older lady in our group and I had a hard time trying to figure out what was going on with her. She was a tiny little dot of a woman who has obviously done yoga before, but I'm not sure if she'd maybe had a stroke or had dementia because while she could do the exercises easily, she seemed somewhat confused and was difficult to understand. That being said, our teacher was patience personnified and from what I gathered from the lady herself, she intends to continue - and good for her!

On Tuesday my car was back in the garage (a planned appointment) for new brakes, so after dropping it off I caught the little bone-shaker mini bus back home. By car it takes 10 minutes, on foot I could probably do it in about 50 minutes, but for €1.50 I got a 30-minute scenic ride round some of the local hamlets before being dropped off at the church in my village. With nowhere to go I felt in the mood to do some baking, so since I get on well with Thiery at Ford, I made peppermint brownies to take with me when I went to pick my car up later that evening. To be honest I was lazy and took the bus back down to town even though I could easily have walked, but as it looked like rain I decided to give walking a miss this time. I got chatting to the driver who, it turned out, was the same age as me and also retired (but still driving for the bus company?). Anyway, he was asking me if I liked walking in the mountains, so I said I did but hadn't done nearly enough of it this year, and I was probably pretty foolish for going on my own. He commented that if I didn't have health issues it shouldn't be a problem, but when I pointed out that anyone could twist an ankle or fall he ended up agreeing with me that it probably wasn't a good idea to go solo - and would I like to go walking with him one day??? Say what? I'm not sure what I said, exactly, and in any case, since we already have snow in the mountains, now would not be a good time to start. Anyway he said he regularly drives this mini bus and if I change my mind to get in touch!

About 15 mintues into the journey, "Jessica" got on the bus! I know her name was Jessica because she was on her phone constantly (and very loudly) the entire journey. Turns out Jessica needs new glasses and has an appointment mid-December. Then she wasn't sure what to make for dinner and seemingly balled her mom out for not walking the dog yet! It beats me why people have to have these kinds of conversations in confined spaces and at such volume! Oh I understand if the phone rings and you get caught out, or if it's an emergency, but I will never understand why people can't keep these conversations for when they are alone so that the rest of the world doesn't have to know the intimate details of their lives! When I was still working you would occasionally get someone like that on the bus to the border and the entire bus got to know their business, but to be fair it wasn't very often! I guess there's nowt so queer as folk, is there!

On Wednesday I managed to talk myself into going to the gym for the first time in about six weeks! Oh I was desperately trying to think of an excuse for why I shouldn't go but as I couldn't come up with anything, off I trotted and again I like it very much once I'm there. There were only three of us in the entire upper floor weight room so it's not like you actually have to wait to use any of the machines. Well that's maybe not strictly true because shortly after I arrived a man came upstairs and sat on one of the machines - and then proceeded to look at his phone for the next hour! He never moved once, and then just as I was about to leave, he picked up his towel and left! That must have been quite the work-out!

And remember I mentioned that I was going to make up a photo album of old photos for my sister? Well I got that done this week and sent it off for processing - and then 24 hours later my album was sitting in my mail box when I got home! Talk about efficient! It's not the greatest album because, as I say, it was made up mainly of very old black and white photos, but I'm delighted with it and I'm pretty sure my sister will be too. One of the oldest photos was of my great-grandmother on my mom's side holding my brother Phil - which I guess was taken around 1943 and which has come out reasonably well, so I'm pleased with that!


Phil, mom, granddad and great-grandma!

When I was at sewing club the other week, Chantal mentioned that she thought Patricia (our sewing teacher) wasn't doing too well at the moment and what did I think about stopping out to see her? This is the lady whose son fell down the stairs, landed on his head and who is now mentally disabled as a result. Patricia works in a factory during the day but depends on her sewing in the evenings to make up her salary - except that she currently has problems with her shoulder and arm and despite being on sick leave she can't even take advantage of the time off to catch up with her sewing. So Chantal asked if a couple of us would like to drive down to Patricia's under false pretext on Thurdsday just to stop in for a chat. And that's what we did. I bought flowers, Bernadette baked a couple of cakes and Chantal brought a bottle of wine and we spent a couple of hours helping Patricia with a few odd jobs before cracking open that bottle! You know how occasionally you meet someone who is just nice - well I reckon that's Chantal. She's very thoughtful and always one of the first to pitch in and help out, and I know Patricia was very touched by our visit!

Then on Friday I had to drive out to Thonon to pick up a serger (a fancy sewing machine, for the uninitiated) for our club and while Thonon is beautiful I hate driving out there because it's 50 km of small, traffic-filled roads and bottlenecks. And to think my neighbour drove beyond Thonon to Evian (where the bottled water comes from) every day for over 10 years for his job! I'm not surprised he was thrilled to be able to retire early - leaving home at 4.30 a.m. for years has got to get old very quickly! I gave myself plenty of time as the sewing machine guy - while nice - is chronically late and I still ended up sitting on a wall outside his shop for half an hour waiting for him to show up. Still, it's all sorted now and I drove back via St. Jeoire so I got to see Charlie for a couple of hours afterwards, thus making the hassle all worthwhile!

Thonon

And finally, I've gotten such a lot done this week I'm really happy with it. I've been trying to set myself an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to work in the house and either in the garden or the garage and it's been really productive. I guess I might be panicking slightly at the thought of 41 square metres of tiling plus fittings being dumped in my garage sometime soon in order for them to start work on my bathrooms! Still, through slogging away just a little bit every day I've got my bedroom completely sorted (eeew, the dust bunnies when I moved the bed) and a whole load of stuff taken to the charity shop! Where on earth does it all come from though? And then tonight I spent an hour "putting the garden to bed", and while I was doing that a paraglider drifted out from under the clouds on the mountain and landed in the field at the back of my house! How cool is that? I guess that's one way to avoid the traffic jams isn't it!

He landed a couple of seconds
after I took this picture!


Saturday, 19 November 2022

The tortoise and the hare!

Well I have to say I am dead impressed with the way the breakdown company handled my situation the other day when my car wouldn't start! I was a bit worried, truth be told, because for over 30 years I have kept up my coverage with a Swiss company called TCS and just a few months ago I finally cancelled it because the guy at my French bank told me that I was covered for everything just the same under my French insurance. So only ever having used TCS two times in 30+ years, what happens - I break down pretty much as soon as I cancel them! I tried charging my battery for over 24 hours but nothing gave so on Monday morning I called the number on the French site. I was immediately instructed to press a different key for "is anyone injured", "are you on a motorway", "is it urgent" and I just hate that stuff. But, within about 90 seconds I received a text message with a link to follow in order to set up an appointment to have someone come out. And yet again, in under two minutes I had someone on the phone. I told him it wasn't urgent as I was parked in my driveway so at 1.30 p.m. that afternoon they sent out "the jolly green giant" (except he wasn't green, but was definitely very jolly) and in less than five minutes he had turbo charged my battery with his rocket booster and all was fixed! When I told him my battery was almost seven years old he just laughed and said to think myself lucky as it didn't really owe me anything did it! I was just so glad, though, that I hadn't set off to Jordan and Jen's that night and broken down on some lonely back road in the middle of nowhere. I pointed out to Mr. Giant where the mice had been gnawing away but luckily they hadn't chewed through any wiring - just the rubber tubing!

Looks like they've been making their
nest in the foam under the hood!

Lunch was apparently also included!

Anyway, I had already called Ford that morning and they ordered in a battery for me, so just a few hours later (and several hundred euros lighter), I was set to go! As we were invited over to Jordan and Jen's for dinner on the Saturday night, Jen's mom very kindly picked me up and dropped me back home, and while yes, it was kind of her, I absolutely hate riding with her. She is one of those people who rides the coat tails of the car in front with a "can't you go any faster than that"? and "hey grandad if you can't hack it get off the road"! And I hate it! Even her partner was telling her to chill as we were in no rush but there was nothing doing - that's just the way she drives. She can handle her car, thankfully, because as she was riding "grandpa's" bumper he suddenly put on his left turn signal and she had to slam the brakes on hard to avoid him! I tell ya, I'm so glad to have my own car back, although I suppose in all honesty she would probably go just as nuts having to ride with me, wouldn't she!

I spent a couple of hours the other day catching up on paperwork. I'm usually pretty hot on that stuff as I hate being disorganised, but I guess it got the better of me for a while. I think I mentioned before that the Swiss are very much into QR codes and online banking (naturally, I suppose). Heck they haven't used cheques since 2003 so you'd better be somewhat computer literate if you have a Swiss bank account - as I do where my pension is paid! Just recently my doctor's bills have been arriving with a QR code and you either use that or you type in all the relevant info yet again in order to pay your bill. I don't pay my bills via my phone, simply because I find the screen too small, and I figured the QR code wouldn't work on my computer but whaddayaknow - I held the bill up to the camera on my clunky old computer and it scanned the payment details into my bank account for payment! Talk about impressive! It was certainly a lot easier than typing in 20-digit reference numbers every time! So I guess you can, occasionally, teach old dogs new tricks then! I also spent some time deleting blogs from my favourites list, which has streamlined my reading list quite a bit. Not that I didn't like those blogs, it's just that some had stopped posting, some I had moved on from, and others, well no way in heck was I ever going to be able to go back to the beginning and read their entire blog - even though I obviously liked the blog enough to save it in the first place! That being said I'm still saving a few new ones, but I really don't want my favourites list to get quite as long again!

Heading off on another tangent, since I like the photo album I have made of Charlie, I thought it would be nice to go through the old black and white photos I have of my family and make an album for my sister and me! Years ago when I was home in England I asked my mom if I could take the shoebox full of old photos and she said no problem. I mean, who was ever going to look at them stuffed in a shoebox right? Well my other sister (who lives in Denmark) heard me ask for them and then threw a strop about how "she had always wanted those pictures too" and she was going to take them. I called BS, knowing full well that she only wanted them because I had asked for them. I guess even at that age I was smart enough - or just knew this sister well enough - to keep my mouth shut and see if she "wanted them so badly" that she would remember to take them back to Denmark with her. She didn't of course so I took them and made up several family albums - which pleased my mom and dad no end when they came out here one Christmas. It's been kinda nice selecting and editing (as far as possible) photos of when my parents were young, and now that I've gotten them as sorted as they will ever be, I reckon another hour or so and I can create the old family album as a keepsake. It's odd too that just an hour ago, the daughter of my "English" sister contacted me asking if I had any old photos of her mom and dad as it's their 50th wedding anniversary next month and she wants to make them an album. I had just the one wedding photo and none of my BIL as a child, of course, but she's going to have a rummage in their loft when they fly off to Dublin next week for their anniversary trip! Wise minds think alike, I guess!

Jen's job at the daycare came to an end (she was doing a maternity leave replacement) and she has now gotten a part-time office job with the small company that has been servicing my heating system for the past 32 years. I like this company very much as I find them very professional, and apparently when they found out she was married to Jordan they asked him to come in and speak to them as they would like to employ him. They've "known" him since he was born, in the sense that they've been coming to the house that long and he would always have his nose into what they were doing with the boiler. It would be good money - better than he's making now in fact - but he said he really doesn't want to go back to servicing boilers and would rather be doing real plumbing work. He's also making more money than before so they can apparently still make it financially - even with Jen going part-time - and now Jen gets to spend more time with Charlie and they're both happy!

I took my books back to the library-with-the-beautiful view last week and I have to say I really love that place - not just the library but the whole old town. It's very small but the tower and walls are medieval and have such a great atmosphere. In fact, when you drive out of there you drive through an archway in the town walls that are just about wide enough to get your car through! It's a lovely part of town!



My house is in the distance,
at the foot of those mountains!

And finally, I had another plumbing company come by last Tuesday to give me a quote for my bathrooms, and at the same time Benoit, the mason, stopped in to check whether it would be possible for me to have a wood-burning fire insert installed into my fireplace. It seems that it should be an easy job for him to take out a few of the tiles in order to give extra height for them to install the insert so things are looking good (finally) on that score. When we were down in my basement checking where the fresh air inlet was for the fireplace, he noticed Jordan's old drum set in the corner and asked if "Max" would be willing to sell it to him for his son. Somehow my kids had been invited over to Benoit's place for a BBQ a few years ago and he had got it into his head that "Max" was my son. I told him I would check with Jordan, who said to just give it to him. So Benoit is delighted, I'm going to get the masonry work done for free and I should be able to heat my home this winter once all is said and done, power cut or no power cut! It's been like pulling teeth trying to coordinate masons/plumbers/tilers/fireplace installers, but seems it might just be true - maybe the tortoise does get there in the end!


Sunday, 13 November 2022

Is it just me or is the world going crazy?

I've been offline again for a few days as I have a lot going on here at the moment and felt I needed a bit of a break again, so apologies for not commenting much on your blogs. But is it just me or does the world seem to be going (even more) crazy right now? I mean just recently 150+ poor young people out celebrating Halloween in Korea were crushed to death and then the same day a suspension bridge in India collapsed, again while people were celebrating and around the same number of people were killed over there - and that's not to mention all those who were injured!

Then you've got all those eejits protesting "stop oil" and bringing London's roads to a standstill (thereby preventing essential services from getting through in some cases) or throwing tomato soup at priceless paintings and then glueing their hands to the floor!!!! Or how about the idiot that threw eggs at King Charles "in the name of climate change" and then started a Go-Fund-Me because he is facing a fine of £5,000 pus legal fees and potentially six months in prison (he won't go to prison). But when the Go-Fund-Me people found out what it was for they cancelled it. Tee hee, he might need to get a job stacking shelves somewhere I reckon. But seriously, the guy must have a peanut where his brain should be - I mean, have you seen the price of eggs? 

Conversely, it was quite satisfying to read about another bunch of eejits in Germany who glued their hands to the floor of a car museum adjoining a Volkswagen dealership and what did the Germans do? They turned the lights and the heating off and went home! They did have a security guard doing the rounds though, but it was quite comical to see the protesters complaining that they weren't brought food and water and were not even given a bucket to piss in! Hats off to that Volkswagen dealership, is all I can say. Karma at its finest!

And then we had dear old Trevor Noah sticking his tuppence worth in in a sneering monologue saying how the Brits didn't want Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister "because of the colour of his skin"! Damn, since when did everything have to be about skin colour Trevor? He based his comments on the fact that one man (who actually turned out to be of Indian origin himself) had called in to a radio show to complain about Sunak. Well things blew up and Noah was, I hope, left in no doubt what most Brits think of him. Actually, I'm pretty sure the people complaining about Sunak weren't overly fond of having a second unelected Prime Minister foisted on them in six weeks and might just have wanted the opportunity to vote in a General Election (not that I'm sure the results would be any better but who knows)! While there are undoubtedly racists in the UK just like everywhere else, dammit we have a Christian King, a Hindu Prime Minister, a Jewish Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice, a Buddhist Home Secretary and a Muslim Mayor of London. The only prerequisite for any of those offices would be that they have to be British, but then I guess that makes us all xenophobes, right Trev? I hear Noah was funny once but since he's leaving The Daily Show (did he jump or was he pushed?) to go back to comedy, maybe if he practices real hard he could be funny a second time too! Just sayin'!



A few photographs - if anyone cares!

King

Prime Minister

Deputy PM

Home Office

International Trade - 
and one to watch, I think/hope!

Until recently - Health

Finances - until October 2022

Mayor of London

Former PM and
Chief Buffoon!

Don't people have enough to worry about without this kind of shit-stirring? On a positive note, I was pleased to see that Heinz and Morrisons (a UK supermarket) - along the lines of the organization Grateful Together - have started a scheme, at least during the school holidays, where anyone can go into a Morrisons cafeteria and "ask for Henry" and they will be offered a warm drink and food free of charge, no questions asked! I just hope Morrisons are smart enough not to post someone whose actual name is Henry in the cafeteria for the duration of the scheme. Poor bugger, he would probably be driven nuts!

On a different note, the other night I happened to notice that the film Still Alice was playing on Netflix. I read the book some time ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I have to say that the film almost lived up to the book - which is rare! It's the story of a successful academic (wonderfully played by the lovely Julianne Moore) who learns that she has early onset dementia at the age of 50 and how it affects her and her family's lives! It was very thought-provoking actually because I suppose we all think we've got plenty of time left but in the end none of us actually knows that. I mean, tomorrow is promised to no-one is it! And then I spotted that series five of The Crown has started playing so watched a couple of episodes. I loved the first four series, not so much for the drama but more because so many of the names I heard growing up as a kid I was now able to slot into their places in history. For instance, it was how I learned that British Prime Minister Harold Wilson actually stepped down because he had dementia! As to the latest series, well I'm having a hard time deciding who is more wooden (while aiming for "stoic", I suppose) - Imelda Staunton (so far) as the Queen or Jonny Lee Miller as John Major! That being said, Elizabeth Debicki as Diana does a good job and absolutely nails her voice, which is all the more commendable since she is Australian. Diana was tall but Elizabeth is even taller - 1.9m or 6 ft 2!!! - so I'm guessing many of the male actors weren't too keen to stand next to her when she is wearing heels! There's been a lot of talk about how much of it is fictitious and how they should just drop it (they do put a disclaimer at the beginning), but then if some of the people featured don't like being portrayed badly in parts, maybe they should have behaved better in the first place!

And finally, tomorrow should be another "interesting" day, money-wise. Heck I just paid €1,800 for 1,000 litres of fuel, €600 to have new tyres put on my car (and it has to go back in next week for new brakes) and then yesterday, as I was about to go out, my bloody car wouldn't start. Flat battery (so I thought) but looking under the hood it would seem that a flippin' family of fouine (that's weasels in English but I'm more inclined to think it's field mice, having found two dead ones by my front door) have made a cosy home for themselves in the engine and dined out on a few hoses in there. So I'll have to call my breakdown service first thing and take it from there! I read online that rodents don't like the smell of peppermint, so as I was fiddling about under the hood I dropped peppermint oil everywhere I could think of and then sprayed the whole thing down with peppermint infused water - just as my neighbour came out to find out what was going on and who probably now thinks I'm officially mad! I wish I'd told him it was Chanel No. 5! We'll see what happens tomorrow, I guess!


Saturday, 29 October 2022

More this and that!

I don't know about you but I'm finding the times we're living in very strange and unsettled right now! I mean, in the UK Liz Truss lasted 45 days as Prime Minister before being ousted and Rishi Sunak installed in her place. Anyone taking bets on how long he'll last? Not very long (is my humble, uneducated opinion). I've seen a few comments that the UK might be headed for a general election before Christmas but who knows. I don't think there's much appetite for the Labour Party either so who can guess how well the new Reform Party might do in the current situation. One thing's for sure, with Sunak and his wife jointly being worth around one billion pounds I'm not sure how "in tune" he's going to be with ordinary people. Heck he was previously Chancellor (Finances) under Boris Johnson and I remember him taking a phone-in call from a woman asking how she was supposed to cope in the current financial situation with two children. This dunderhead said something about "understanding" how she felt as he had two children himself - yeah, and a billion pounds in the bank! What's more, it's pretty interesting to note that he also has (had? until recently?) a US green card and his wife is (was?) registered as fiscally resident in India for tax purposes. Makes you wonder how much he'll really have his finger on the pulse of the nation right?

Talking of politics, I haven't been paying attention to the US mid-terms (we've got enough crap of our own going on over here), but I did happen to catch a few minutes of the John Fetterman/Dr. Oz debate in Pennsylvania the other night and it was painful! I've never liked Dr. Oz - found him too smarmy - but I know nothing of either his or John Fetterman's politics. What was so excruciating though was watching Fetterman (who is recovering from a stroke) struggling to even sound coherent! And again, I know he's recovering from a stroke but I'm just wondering if it would even have been possible to forego this debate under the circumstances? I suppose given that the result of the PA race could end up being pretty decisive in the Senate, maybe not, but uuggghhh, that was a train wreck debate to watch!

On Tuesday I drove in to Geneva for my bi-annual mammogram - that's always a pleasure isn't it ladies!!! Actually the exam doesn't bother me at all whereas the parking situation at the clinic is such a pain! It was the clinic where Jordan was born 30 years ago and since then they've expanded it to about twice the size - but did nothing about the parking lot. So you go round and round looking for a parking space and if you do spot one you end up with about two inches either side of your car to get out! I actually had to scoot over to the passenger side and squeeze out there - I would have been so pissed off if I'd had to climb back in through the trunk! I was thinking that next time I'll park at the border and just walk but that would easily be a 45-60 minute walk. We'll have to see, next time, I guess. As I say, the actual exam doesn't bother me but I always have this warped-mind thing going on praying that the fire alarm doesn't go off just when you've got your boob jammed in the waffle-maker! Or, as I said to my sister years ago, you're securely locked in that thing but relieved when the guy with the white coat walks in - and then pulls over a ladder and starts painting the walls! Yeah, I'm weird like that! Anyway, I had another scan after that and got the results straight away (no problem) so that was good. After that I decided to head straight back out to the lake at Passy to take advantage of the glorious weather so the day wasn't a total loss! I received the bill (475 Swiss francs, thank you very much) two days ago so thought I'd take a few minutes this afternoon to submit it to my insurance company via phone app. About 10 minutes after I'd sent it I realized I'd forgotten to include the prescription so clicked back on the app to edit my claim and would you believe it, it had already been settled! Now that's service!

I called my ex-MIL on 19 October for her birthday and chatted with her for about an hour! I mentioned previously that when my former BIL woke up to find his girlfriend dead in bed next to him, he ended up moving back in with MIL. I knew it would be a disaster and frankly didn't think she should be dealing with him at almost 90 years of age, but my ex-SIL wouldn't take him, nor would my ex-husband - which is funny because years ago he talked about "bringing M over to France to 'straighten him out'"! Ha, what a joke - even moreso since the French would never have given him a resident's permit and I would have filed for divorce on the spot. Heck if I thought my husband was bad, this BIL is 10 times worse! Anyway, he was being harrassed from Alabama by his gf's oldest daughter about something - keys to the abandoned rental property and car in Pittsburgh I think. BIL still had the keys and wanted to hand them over to a lawyer but he was getting threatening messages and phone calls from the daughter saying she was going to have someone come over to "sort him out"! Hell, who needs that at 89? So in the end my MIL and BIL went to the local police to file a restraining order. MIL said the cop was really good, picked up the phone and called the daughter in Alabama and told her to have her attorney contact him (the cop) and he would personally hand over the keys to him. Daughter said she would do that within the week - and sure enough six months later they've never heard from her! Yeah, these are the kinds of people my brother-in-law brings into your life! Anyway, BIL can't drive and ended up moving nearer to town (and the local bars) into an unheated, no-AC room with some guy to the tune of $650/month in rent. I told my MIL I hadn't lived in the States for many years but that sounded hellish expensive to me and she agreed - it is! So at least she's got him out of the house but is now left with all his crap in her basement and my ex-husband is bringing stuff over and dumping it in her garage too! Say what? He's got his own house and garage but he's junking up hers now too! I laughed and told her I'd still got quite a bit of his crap from when I had to empty his rental in 2015 so I guess he's just "spreadin' the joy"!

I had the bright idea of making an online photo album of Charlie for Jen for Christmas (they print it and send it to you as a hardback album) so set to and got that done a couple of nights ago. Then I thought Ammy (ex-MIL) would like one too as she's never met Charlie so I ordered a few copies - and then thought "don't be a jerk" and ordered one for my ex-husband too. He's only met Charlie once so even though I was initially not going to get him one I thought that would be mean. They should be here by Tuesday so I'm hoping they'll turn out nice. Then I thought that would be a great way to sort through all my old family photos so as soon as I get myself organized I'm going to try to compile a couple and make a copy for my sister too. It'd be one way of sorting through the photo clutter since I know I would never look at them if they are just online! Genius!

On Thursday my card club had a group lunch (there were 24 of us) before playing cards and it was really nice! I looked round and thought how a comedian could eaves-drop on this lot and it would be comedic gold - not making fun of them, but because they were such a hoot! Oh the average age, seriously, would appear to be nearing 80 but it was so interesting to listen to them talking about this area and where the best hikes were and so on. The bodies might no longer be so willing but their minds sure were with it and I had a really nice time!

After that I went into La Roche and joined the library-with-the-beautiful-view. It's located right next to a medieval tower in the old town and as I was walking up there I was thinking to myself how I would love to live around there. But then again it would be all hills, old buildings and steps, so while it looks beautiful it wouldn't be practical as time marches on!

Tour des Comtes de Genève

Jen's job at the daycare comes to an end on Monday. She knew it was only temporary as it was to cover a maternity leave, so she'll be looking for work next week. I think she's leaning towards having her nursing degree recognized in Switzerland - which will take six months - so in the meantime she'll take anything. They're recruiting at the supermarket about 300 yards away from their place so that looks like it could be a good option (and for the same money as at the daycare)! Jordan is working on a new hotel going up at the ski resort of Flaine which has to be delivered by December 2023. He gets along with the young foreman, who stops by in the compay van and picks him up every day, so if both of them could get away with having no commuting expenses for a few months it would be something to factor into their budget - a definite plus right now!

Flaine ski resort. I think it's ugly - 
a purpose-built resort with no character
but hey, he's not there to ski!

I had Charlie again on Friday and while he was coughing a bit he was a hoot, if an exhausting "hoot"! I took him out for 90 minutes and then we read and played at home for the rest of the day. I had grabbed their big Halloween spider who then went on to "steal" Charlie's doodoo (the nasty piece of rag he carries with him everywhere - a bit like Linus' security blanket). Anyway spider wanted the doodoo so Charlie and I were playing hide and seek when Jen walked in. She was laughing and I told her we'd had a great day but he had worn me out! She looked at me and asked if it really was that way round - just who was exhausting who (or "whom", if you're posh)! She might have a point!

Linus!

And finally, I see Elon Musk has bought Twitter and Facebook/Meta has lost $677 billion so far this year! It's all go isn't it!


Monday, 17 October 2022

What do PayPal and Andy M have in common?

I'm sure everyone has heard by now about PayPal's recent own goal - a bit like Andy M. from Halifax Bank who I wrote about recently (Andy scores an own goal - apparently he was indeed fired)! If you haven't heard, about 10 days ago PayPal apparently issued revised terms and conditions which now included a clause whereby they could fine you $2,500 for "promoting misinformation". The main problem, however, was that PayPal couldn't or wouldn't define "misinformation" - it was going to be left up to them to decide! I don't have a PayPal account. I started to set one up years ago because I thought I might need it one day, but when they asked for my bank details I cancelled the set-up. What struck me though was if PayPal is seemingly just a means of making purchases and payments, what kind of "misinformation" are they expecting to have access to? Anyway, the reaction was almost instantaneous, people were in uproar, and started closing their accounts at such a speed that PayPal must have wondered what hit them!!! In the space of less than a week PayPal lost over $6 billion - and is still dropping like a lead balloon! Panic-stricken, PayPal then started backpedaling as fast as their little legs would allow them and issued a statement to the effect that inserting that clause had "been an accident" (yeah right, - I wonder if they will now pay all their customers $2,500 for their own "misinformation" then). But from what I saw on social media, even though they issued the retraction, people were still closing their accounts because they were so outraged! The latest I saw was that PayPal are now offering people $15 not to close their accounts (as opposed to robbing them of $2,500???) but people are continuing to close their accounts. I wonder which bright spark thought up that marketing strategy - and if he might now be looking for another job - just like Andy!

The guy came the other day to look into the possibility of installing an insert into my fireplace. I wasn't very hopeful because two other companies had already told me my chimney wasn't wide enough to install a wood-burner and I won't be demolishing my fireplace/chimney to install anything. But this young man was actually hopeful that their smallest insert might work. And would you believe it, it was short 1cm needed vertically to accommodate it!!! Bugger!!! But then I had the bright idea of suggesting we take some of the tiles out from the base of the fireplace and maybe that might help - and he thinks it might! So I have a call in to the mason and hopefully he can come over soon and we can work something out. And all this because open fireplaces are no longer legal in France! Mind you, if we get power cuts I'll be using my fireplace regardless! While he was here the doorbell rang and it was two Jehovah's Witnesses, who I always make short work of by telling them up front that I'm not interested. At least they respect that but I have to admit it was one of the few positives of the pandemic that we didn't get the door-to-door JWs for two years! Then the doorbell went again and it was a young man from a real estate agency asking if I knew of anyone who might be selling locally. Good luck with that round here, because there is way more demand than supply! But as he was about to leave he asked me if I was Jordan's mom and when I said yes, he told me that he was Johann T and he and Jordan had played rugby together many moons ago! While I remember the young lad I obviously didn't recognize him because it was almost 20 years later and he was almost completely bald! I guess even though it's entirely normal, I'm still shocked to see young men losing their hair, probably because no men in either my or my ex's family lost their hair. Heck, I'm 64 and haven't got a grey hair in my head either (dad lived to 85 and no grey), so again, I have to admit I was shocked to see such a young lad almost bald. Not that it meant he wasn't a good-looking young man of course, but I guess my kids will eventually be happy to have the genes that they got!

On a completely different tack, I went to my Thursday afternoon card club last week and when I saw the organizer, Janine, I apologized for not coming the previous week saying that as Charlie's daycare was closed I had to take care of him. She said not to worry as people just turned up as and when they could. I ended up playing with her and another, older gent called Marcel who had also been absent the previous week because he'd had to go for a fitting for his false teeth! I started laughing and told him we'd got all stages of life covered with our absences then, me with the daycare problems and him with his false teeth fittings! And that brought to mind a story told to me by a friend many years ago. She had a relative who got her first job working in an old people's home. One of her first tasks was to make sure all their false teeth were cleaned and sterilised so she went round and collected them all up without taking the time to label each set! She said they spent hours trying to reunite 20+ pairs of false teeth with their owners - a mistake she never made twice!

Janine (the lady responsible for the card club) has one of those unfortunate faces that make it look like she's always scowling (rudely called a "resting bitch face", I guess). She has always been pleasant to me so I know that's not the real her - I guess her wrinkles just settled into a scowl over time. Anyway, I'm slowly starting to pick up the game of Tarot again. Oh I still have tons to learn but I'm not quite the absolute beginner I was a couple of weeks ago. Nearing 6 o'clock we'd come to the last game of the afternoon and as I'd been dealt a pretty good hand I thought "what the hell" and decided to take up the challenge to play against the other two (Janine and Marcel) together. I played cautiously at first but as the game went on I have to admit I was playing a blinder. Well that was until they came to their final card and Janine looked at me and said "how come you've still got six cards left"????? Ha, when you take up the attacking challenge you get handed what they call le chien, which is six cards which now belong to you sight-unseen, and against which you have to throw six of your own cards away. Trouble is, I'd obviously forgotten to throw six cards away so it's no wonder I was playing such a blinder. Well Janine and Marcel starting giggling, him with a whistle through the gap in his mouth where his false teeth will shortly be fitted, and Janine - well she was laughing so hard she was crying! Even later as we were putting tables and chairs away, every time she looked at me she burst out laughing. So I guess a "resting bitch face" is a good reason not to judge a book by its cover!

Talking of teeth, I went to the dentist the other day and while I never need any work I explained to her that I was having a hard time flossing around the bridge that I have in my lower teeth so she suggested I buy a waterjet flosser - which I duly went out and did. There are basically only two buttons - one to select the mode (slow, pulse, steady) and then the on/off button. As a flosser it would appear to work very well except I wish I could get it through my head that I need to put the damn thing in my mouth before turning it on! Still, the windows now won't need cleaning for quite some time, I guess!

I spoke to Jordan the other day and he told me he'd finally heard back from the temp agency in Switzerland - who had a ton of work for him but couldn't offer him any because "he's not European"! I thought that might happen actually, so I told him to ask the guy which continent he thought Britain was located on, but nah, he'll pass! He said the guy was really nice but since the right to work agreement had been signed between Switzerland and the European Union, Jordan no longer qualifies through his British passport! He wasn't too bothered actually though because in March they will have been married four years and after four years of marriage he can get French citizenship automatically! Jen seemed to think that their time in a registered civil partnership also counted (I'm not sure about that), but he was saying that he has all the required documents already from when we had to apply for our residents' permits! In any case, he's pretty happy where he is in France at the moment as the latest young boss is much nicer.  He's earning more money than when he worked with Max, and doesn't mind missing out on the commute from hell into Geneva over the winter. So we'll see. He's reassured that the guy told him they had tons of work though and to get back to him as soon as he gets his citizenship!

And finally, when I was looking after Charlie again on Friday he was a bit off colour after having one of his shots. Jen asked me to try to keep him awake as long as possible after his lunch so when he began to wilt I decided to go all ninja and build him a "den" (consisting of two chairs and a large blanket). It was a great success - so much so that I'd give you the specifications for the design but I'm thinking I might try to patent it! Once we'd played hide and seek for a while, I took two cushions off the sofa, put them inside the den - and we were both lying in there pretending to snore when his dad walked in! He'd taken a few hours off to do some running around but I reckon the scene that greeted him has confirmed that he thinks grandma is now officially certifiable!