The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Sunday 20 February 2022

More this and that!

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!

Tuesday 15 February 2022


Here's me telling Ms Moon the other day how I routinely save posts regularly so I don't lose them, and blow me but I've just written a whole post, saved it repeatedly as I went along when damn we had a power surge and I lost the whole lot!  That'll teach me to be smug, I guess!

So what was I saying? Hmm, well not much has been going on here to be honest. We had a glorious week last week but this week is looking to be pretty cruddy weather-wise so I guess spring isn't here yet! Jen and her mom took Charlie swimming on Sunday and he absolutely adored it. Then it was back home to prepare a fondue as they had invited us all over for lunch, followed by a board game afternoon. Everyone reckoned Charlie would be out of it after his swimming date, but not a bit of it. He was tearing around "playing football" with his dad and his uncle (I have the sweetest video) until one minute he was there and the next minute he'd crashed! 

While we were chatting Jen mentioned that Samuel had another race in Beijing that afternoon and while we watched out for him, sadly he didn't make it through to the finals. He's still something of a local celebrity over here and very much a winner in all our minds though! Then Jordan mentioned that Daniel, Samuel's younger brother, had switched rugby clubs recently. Jordan and Daniel had played rugby together since they were little but while Jordan dropped out eventually after one broken collarbone too many, Daniel kept going, proved himself to be pretty talented and has played professional rugby for about nine years now! Apparently he recently transferred from Toulon to premier league, Pau, and, would you believe it, their players earn between €25,000 and €45,000 per month! Yes, per month! And I'm delighted for him! I know a rugby career is not long, all the more so if they get injured, but I'm pretty sure Daniel has his head screwed soundly on his shoulders and will manage that money sensibly!

Daniel Ikpefan!

I see Macron was doing his statesman bit last week when he flew to Russia to see Putin - who promptly chewed him up and spat him out, as is his want! By all accounts Macron refused to take the Russian covid test, preferring to take one provided by his own doctor, so there were no handshakes, no photo ops sitting side-by-side, and they ended up "negotiating" over a table that wouldn't have been out of place in Buckingham Palace!

"Would you pass the salt please darling?"

As I'm pretty much a late bird, I've been getting my money's worth out of my Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions lately. The other night I watched The Tinder Swindler, which was a documentary narrated by three rather beautiful young women who were conned out of a lot of money. They never got their money back but the Dutch lady at the end was rather funny and managed to get some small revenge on him, although after spending just a short time in prison for a con committed in Israel, he's now apparently back out running around doing whatever it is con artists do!

After that I watched The Puppet Master which, again, depicted the true life events inflicted by another fraudster on totally innocent (but maybe guillible?) young people. Set in the 1970s in England, he told them he was a British agent who had infiltrated the IRA (Irish Republican Army) but they were on to him so he/they needed to go on the run, holing up in "safe house" after "safe house". Why they felt the need to go on the run when they had done nothing wrong is beyond me, but I guess many of these fraudsters are so good at what they do that people lose all sense of reason! He would have them call family begging for money to "help him escape" and literally robbed them of thousands of ££££ and years of their lives. Sadly, he is also still at liberty, vehemently denying he ever did anything wrong!

Then last night I finally finished the second series of Succession, and I have to say it has grown on me, after a somewhat bumpy start. I had never heard of Brian Cox but he does a sterling job of playing the domineering family patriarch. I have more of a problem with the prodigal son as the camera seems to be forever panning in to him whispering, stuttering or walking round with a face that looks like a melted candle, but I'll stick with it and watch the third series! So you can see, I wasn't lying when I said there truly isn't much going on here right now!

"Kendal Roy" in Succession!

And fnally I reckon I'm in for an expensive few months. I had a guy come in last week about replacing the three velux windows that are going rotten and I know I have to get a couple of new tyres when I take my car back in to get my snow tyres taken off. Then I realized that I might need to think about ordering more heating fuel as I don't like to let the tank get to less than half full. Ouch, 1,300 litres at today's prices - yeah, ouch! I used to order fuel through a cooperative based out of CERN (the European Nuclear Research agency just across the lake from here - you know, home of the Hadron Collider), but they have closed down their office there so now I order direct from the fuel people, but (hopefully) they are still giving me CERN-cooperative prices. They just called to say that they would be delivering tomorrow morning from 7 a.m. onwards - yikes - so I told her I hoped the driver wouldn't mind letting himself in 'cos I'm pretty sure I'll still be in my pjs at that time of the morning! I guess I'm not used to early morning starts any more, what with all the late night TV I'm watching!

Thursday 10 February 2022

This and that!

After a couple of weeks of being lazy as heck, I finally found my "oomph" coming back last week, thank goodness. I hate being lazy but I suppose it is winter and maybe it's not such a bad thing to just "chill" sometimes. I reverted to my old stand-by of setting the timer on my phone for an hour and it really has helped me get back to being somewhat productive. It's amazing what you can get done in an hour - or even 30 minutes - if you just set your mind to it! So I've been moving furniture (eeww, all that dust) and sorting and cleaning, and while there's still tons to do it feels good to see some progress. Or even just to know that there's progress because I cleaned behind that furniture!!!!

Jen told me the other day that she wanted to try and pick her English back up and asked if I would help her. No problem there, although while my grammar is good (our teachers were really strict), sometimes, when it's your native tongue, it's not always easy to explain why you say things a certain way. I also don't have the mind set of a teacher or communicator, but the other day we went through a few exercises and I was able to help her practice. Actually I think she will pick it up more and more as Charlie starts babbling too! She told me that while it can only ever be an advantage for her to speak English, she has been thinking about it more and more because if Macron gets back in and remains hell bent on his "Great Dictator" trajectory, they might start giving serious consideration to leaving France - even though that's not what they want to do! How sad is that! She has a couple of months left on parental leave but last week she met up with her director and a few colleagues for lunch. She took Charlie with her for 15 minutes and then Jordan went and picked him up so she could stay longer and chat. Before her maternity leave the unit was supposed to comprise 12 nurses but they were only eight, so already stretched. Two nurses resigned after the vaccine mandate was introduced and of course Jen went on maternity/parental leave, so they were down to just five. Now with the booster being mandated by 15 February, three more nurses are refusing to take it and a fourth is only considering it - so that leaves one nurse out of unit of 12! I guess if this continues she won't even have a job to go back to as they will have to shut the unit - hence the thoughts about leaving France! The irony is that France suspended 70,000 healthcare workers for refusing the vaccine mandate in a field that was already short staffed. Now many more are refusing the third jab so who knows where this is going! The even greater irony is that her hospital has asked staff who have tested positive for covid but are asymptomatic to come in to work! The world has gone totally mad! I certainly don't want them to leave, of course, but the situation in France at the moment is, I guess, just a question of waiting to see who blinks first! 

On a slightly happier note, both grandmas and AndrĂ© are invited over for a fondue on Sunday, to be followed by a few board games. Jen was telling me that as she is an only child and her mom is an only child, she loves that my family have always been very family-oriented and she wants Charlie to have the same experience (how lovely is that)!

Then I was chatting with my friend the other day about maybe taking a few days to go up to that roller coaster/railway in June when it opens and she is totally up for it. There seems to be a lot to do in that area but when I looked at the prices of hotels nearby - crikey - I had forgotten how expensive Switzerland is!!! Still, I haven't been anywhere for three years so who's counting! My friend then told me that she'd been chatting with another neighbour who said that she'd been in her car leaving the supermarket parking lot the other day when a woman tapped on her window asking for directions. The woman drew her attention for a few minutes and then an accomplice (not sure if it was a man or a woman) opened the passenger door and stole her purse!!!! Now I know this has always happened but I would be in big schtuck if my purse was snatched because - money aside - I usually have my passport and resident's permit in there, as well as credit cards and so on. But ladies, we all do it don't we - handbag plonked down on the passenger seat! Anyway, when I went shopping yesterday I just took a bum-bag with me, but I can't say I like it! I guess some people will do anything rather than work though, right?

In other news, on 6 February Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Platinum Jubilee - i.e. 70 years on the throne - and I saw a news item that really tickled me. Somewhere (in China I guess), a company had been churning out (unofficial) commemorative mugs, but had unfortunately gotten the English wrong, so now they have a whole bunch of mugs for sale with "in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jublee"! Ha, I would love one of those if I can get my hands on one!

And finally, when I was over at Jordan and Jen's the other day Jordan asked if I had spoken to his dad lately. I told him that I don't call him but I call Ammy (grandma) a couple of times a year. My ex has a brother who must be around 53 now. He was recognized as (slightly) mentally disabled many years ago and receives a small disability allowance. I'm not sure how well he can read and I know he has difficulties with money and so on, but many years ago, in his 20s, he had a job cleaning at Walmart, social services found him a small place (that he kept spotlessly clean) and he had a social worker to help him manage his finances and other administrative matters. It was a nice little set-up! Now my ex was hot-headed, but this brother was my ex on steroids, so mom and dad had to back away from trying to "help" him and let social services take over as he was forever cussing them out and could be very intimidating. Oh they saw him every week and he was invited to all the family get-togethers but they had to let social services handle him and that stinking temper of his. Anyway, one day he (yet again) decided that his manager at work "wasn't gonna tell him what to do" and stormed out - and I'm pretty sure he hasn't worked since (so that would be around 20 years now)! Around that time he got together with K (who may or may not have been special needs - I don't know as I never met her), but she had been married and had three grown up kids. Trouble was, M and K can only be described as "bringing the worst out in each other" and they ended up moving in with her grandparents as neither of them were working. Then social services intervened and took grandma out of there as the place was filthy (dixit my ex-MIL), so that left grandpa paying the rent and M and K pretty much living in a doss house, spending half their time at the bar or wherever it was they went each day. Anyway, last week M woke up to find that an apparently healthy K had died in her sleep at the age of 53! To say it was a shock would be an understatement, I guess. I don't know what the upshot of it all was but as they weren't married and he didn't get along with her kids I'm not even sure if he will ever know what happened. Anyway, my ex spent all last weekend ferrying M's stuff out of there and back up to grandma's, and man oh man, that is NOT going to work. They have been talking about having him start job hunting, but both grandma and my ex live out in the boonies and M doesn't drive. Eighty-six year old grandma and M living at home together will be a disaster (she once told me she is actually afraid of him), so where does that leave everybody? They have a sister who lives nearer to the city but I'm pretty sure she's not going to want to have M moving in with her and her family either. What a bloody mess! Years ago my ex told me he was "thinking about having M come over here to France and move in with us so he could 'sort him out'"! What a joke, my ex couldn't sort his own life out let alone M's. I pointed out to my ex that M had no right of abode in France, no skills, would have no income or health insurance and he didn't speak French so what on earth made him think the French would give him a visa! I also told him straight up that if he tried to bring M over here I would take the kids and leave - so that thankfully put paid to that hare-brained scheme! Hell he was in his 20s, had a job, medical insurance and an apartment and we were supposed to take him away from all that in order to "sort him out"???? But again, what a bloody mess! I don't envy any of them trying to deal with him, but I have to admit that I am selfishly so eternally grateful not to have to deal with this new situation!

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Samuel Ikpefan: The skier from a country without snow

Apparently Sam is the entire Nigerian team. I did wonder about funding but he made it happen!

Thursday 3 February 2022

Making plans for the future!

While I came out of my lazy funk for a few days this week and got a lot done (I finally finished painting and did quite a bit of cleaning), I kinda spaced out again today, wasting way too much time on the computer. But I just saw this online and while I originally thought it was a roller coaster, it's actually a mountain railway in a place called Grimselwelt in Switzerland. Man I have got to give this a shot (it's not even that far away)! And while I have a valid "covid pass" for Switzerland, I've just heard that the Swiss are lifting restrictions on 17 February! There are even rumblings that Macron will have to do the same shortly - because ya know - elections coming up in April! Happy days soon (I hope)!

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Fingers crossed!

I'm still plodding on reading the Robert Kennedy Jr. book at the moment - I'd guess I'm about 75% of the way through it. It isn't an easy read and while some chapters kinda blow my mind, others feel like I'm wading through molasses. But, the reason I bring it up here is because - well I don't know if you remember but when I first mentioned that I didn't intend to get the covid vax it was because I had ended up in hospital after having a violent reaction to a Hep B vax in my 20s. It was so long ago that I actually don't remember if I was in any pain but I do remember that my entire face and body were covered in what looked like blood-filled blisters. They released me from hospital after 24 hours because my boyfriend at the time was a doctor and knew what to keep an eye out for, but to say it wasn't a romantic getaway would be an understatement! When I got back home I spoke to my own doctor about what had happened and he said "oh, it was probably a reaction to the adjuvant" (not that I had any idea what an adjuvant was)! Anyway, the upshot of that experience was that I haven't taken a vaccine since. I mention the Kennedy book again here because in the chapter I'm currently reading he mentions that thimerosal (sp?) - which was basically ethylmercury and highly toxic - was used as an adjuvant in the Hep B vaccine (and others) at the time. I read somewhere that it's use was eventually banned in paediatric vaccines in western countries from 1986 (but couldn't find the reference again), and drastically reduced in adult vaccines in the west from 1993. I had my shot in 1983 (as a precursor to my six-month trip around Australia), so I'm now wondering if my reaction was due to mercury intoxication. Huh, makes you wonder right! Either way, it wasn't fun!

In other news, I keep getting pop-ups in my email and on my FB page offering special deals for the kind of solos holidays I used to go on pre-pandemic. After spending the evening in Les Gets the other week I realized how much I had missed getting away, and in particular getting away to the mountains in the winter, so I think I might take a look at what is on offer by way of a skiing holiday locally and possibly treat myself to a few days away. Of course the situation here is so up and down with this bloody pass that nothing might come of it, but it's nice to dream a little and maybe look forward to what I should be able to do when this whole pass situation gets dropped - as it will have to eventually. In fact AndrĂ© sent me a message this morning to say that he had had a zoom meeting with work this morning and his Director (who, given his job, should be in the know), was saying that the Swiss are considering dropping the whole vaccine passport issue maybe as early as mid-February. From his mouth to God's ears (and to Macron's - who just thinks he's God)!

But talking of Youtube or FB making suggestions based on what you've recently looked at (Big Brother really is watching you, ya see), tonight Youtube suggested a post by a French Canadian who went off on the most amazing rant about Justin Trudeau. The rant aside, by god it was something else trying to follow his accent - I just loved it! I guess I'm more used to French African accents than French Canadian accents, but to listen to a full throttle Quebecois rant tickled me to bits - more for the accent than the content!

Then the other night I decided to attack one of my wasgij puzzles (jigsaw puzzle - backwards), so I put on the final series of After Life, for a binge watch. I'm not a particular fan of Ricky Gervais but I kinda enjoyed the first two series. The third (and final) series? I'm not so sure. While I don't mind bad language I just found the crude characters way too vulgar in the last series. That being said, I enjoyed it but think it was right to end it after that! Just my opinion though!

And finally, there was an article in the local newspaper this week about Stan's son, Samuel, who will be representing Nigeria in cross-country skiing at the upcoming winter Olympics. I think he was a possible selection candidate for France a few years ago but sadly fell and broke his shoulder, thus putting paid to any chance of competing for France. So Samuel applied for and was granted Nigerian citizenship (in addition to his French citizenship) and will now quite possibly constitute the entire Nigerian team and flag bearer at the opening ceremony. He is a lovely kid (as are all Stan's children), and oh how I would love to see him make the podium. My fingers and toes are crossed so hard I may well freeze in this position and never walk again. Please, please, please - go Sam!