The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Tuesday 28 June 2022

How not to resign!

Monday was the last day of sewing club for the year and as you know, even though I was the president I couldn't go for many months because of the passe sanitaire! All's good now (for how long?) but in any case, since I've lost the enjoyment of sewing (even though I like the group very much), I went in last week with the intention of telling them that they would have to find someone to take over. One lady mentioned that she was taking in a clafoutis (a kind of tart), so I took in a bottle of red and thought I'd stop and have a chat with them. Then Cynthia showed up with her five month old grandson so no-one actually got any sewing done anyway, and I ended up walking out of there still being the president for next year! That didn't go quite as planned did it! Unlike when Jordan resigned the other week - done and dusted in a couple of minutes!

Last week there were quite a few things that I wanted at our local supermarket that they seemed to be out of (computer paper being one of them) so I was curious to see if it was just this supermarket or more generalized. I ended up going to a much smaller and nicer supermarket in the next village to mine and they had everything I wanted. A bonus point is that whenever I go to this place they are never crowded, even on a Saturday, so I think it might be worth switching - although I'm so used to the other supermarket that it might take some adjustment. After that I thought "to hell with it" and took a drive down to Annecy to the big hypermarket there, where I always treat myself to lunch, and of course they were fully stocked, so I'm thinking it might be just this one particular chain. That morning we had a power cut which started at around 6 a.m. and when I got back from Annecy at 4 p.m. the electric had only just come back on - so a 10 hour power cut!!!! Yikes, wouldn't want that in the winter!

Which brings me to my next question. This afternoon a rather handsome young man came knocking on our doors trying to sell heat pumps (not interested, I just got a new heating system) and solar panels. I know they're not cheap and you take a few years to get your money back but my sister in England loves theirs and we get so much more sun than they do, of course. In fact I'm very lucky with the positioning of my house because I get the sun all day long, so I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts, particularly given the fact that apparently all energy costs are going to go up and up and up? I have the money to pay cash as I won't take out credit for this, but would be curious to hear if you have any thoughts?

On a totally different note, I went to my dentist's for a check-up the other week and when I got my bill I submitted it to my insurance at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon via the app on my phone. At 9 p.m. I got a message from them to say I'd been reimbursed!!! Talk about efficient huh! Then last week I went for a long overdue eye check up. I think the last one I had was in Switzerland near my work about five years ago and I'm pretty sure she's retired, so I got an appointment at the same place Jordan and Jen went just down the road from here. In Switzerland I paid about CHF 240 and here I've just paid €41 for the same thing, and given that the Swiss franc and the euro are pretty much 1:1 at the moment I was stunned! I'll be keeping my gynae and my dentist in Switzerland because I've been with them for years and I like them, but I think if I need anything else I'll look around in France in future! I'm sure the insurance company would be grateful too!

And finally, getting back to the subject of resigning, Jordan finished work on Friday but even though he was off on Monday he asked if I'd have Charlie on Monday for a few hours (he is only in the crèche Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays) so he could run around. No problem of course. Then this morning he had to stop back in at work to sign some more papers and pick up his pay cheque, and then just before lunch stopped in at an employment agency to sign up for temporary work. About an hour later he sent me a voice mail he received from them to say he starts work tomorrow and she will have long term contracts for him any time he wants! I'm delighted for him because, as he admitted himself, it boosted his confidence no end. He even told me that he went into plumbing because if he lost his job he wanted to know that the work would come to him rather than him having to go out looking for it! Smart move! He then had a follow-up appointment with the employment agency lady this afternoon and I was pretty impressed with the complete dossier he had put together for her. He didn't know how much the salary would be but in any case they are obliged to pay more than he was earning with Max because there is no job security of course! So great news, he knows he can get work any time he needs it. In fact he wants to work in France for the next month and then in August they will be taking a couple of weeks off, and after that he's going to start seriously looking in Geneva. Either way, if he will be making more than with Max they're set, but I'm so, so pleased for them both - their relief is palpable, even though we all knew he could do it!

Sunday 12 June 2022

Busy again, but damn I'm tired!

Damn, I was tired last week, I guess things started catching up to me. I know so much of it was to do with getting over the birthday party I had here and putting everything back to rights, but I guess I also have to admit that I am 63 and have to start realizing that I don't have the energy I had when I was younger, right? That doesn't stop me half the time but ...! For instance, the day before the party when I was trying to get everything set up, I took one look at the back lawn and thought "oh no, I can't let it go like that"! My gardener usually stops by approximately every two weeks - it very much depends on his schedule and the weather, of course. But my lawn looked terrible so I took a deep breath and wandered over to my neighbour's to ask if I could borrow the new, battery-operated lawnmower that their son had bought them for Christmas. I still have a very good lawnmower in my garage but I haven't used it for a couple of years and that thing is heavy! Well their lawnmower was a delight, pretty lightweight and I got the lawn cut in about 45 minutes. The downside was that the battery only lasts about 15 minutes so I had to use three batteries just to get my piddly little lawn cut! I think if I ever had to go back to cutting my own grass for some ungodly reason I'd get one of those things, though I really have no intention of ever going there! And then, of course, I noticed that the peonies - while beautiful when in full bloom - were making a real mess now that they were wilting, so out came the secateurs and I got those and the rose bushes done too! So I guess there's a reason I was tired, right?

What I hadn't really given much thought to last week was that this Saturday I had volunteered to host our monthly boardgame evening, so here we go again. This time it was easier, of course, because we were only 10 and we've now gotten it down to a pretty fine art, but still, while it was a lovely evening I was really tired today too. I had set up Charlie's birthday present (twin tents with an interconnecting tunnel filled with 100 plastic balls!), but when we went to let him get into it we discovered that there were wasps and creepy-crawlies inside, making that an absolute no-go. So then I had the fun task of picking up 100 plastic balls (seriously, why does any kid need one hundred of those things?) and realized he'd probably be just as happy with about 10 balls in a plastic tub - and he was. Well no, in fact, he was even happier, singing to himself and then turning round to make sure we were all watching as he "made his cake"! He really was enjoying himself!

Someone noticed the veggie plants on my balcony and pointed out that there was now a rather nice looking courgette hanging from the balcony where the plant had wound itself back round the railings, so I ran upstairs and "harvested" my first courgette. But seriously, can you imagine sitting on someone's terrace having a nice glass of wine and getting hit on the bonce by a courgette???? We started off having an apéro and eating outside, but by around 9 p.m. some were getting chilly so we moved indoors where we played a few games, with the intention of having Charlie sleep until it was time to go home - but he was having none of it! He slept maybe 30 minutes and that was it - he wanted to be with us! So I spent most of the evening quite happily playing with him while they played their games but I don't quite know how he managed to stay up till 1 a.m. on so little sleep. He's got me beat, I can tell you!

Everyone helped clean up before they left, but of course there's always stuff to do the next day, isn't there. I paced myself better today and worked a bit, then sat and read for a while, then worked a bit, and so on, and in the end it got done. In fact, Isabelle (my neighbour) sat on my tatty old sunbed yesterday and said she could absolutely see why I spend so much time sitting on the terrace as it's just perfect. It has the house's best view and sitting on the sunbed under the balcony out of the sun is just heaven. I swear if we'd gone quiet for a few minutes she would have fallen asleep! I mentioned to her that if she would like a couple of lettuces I had growing on my terrace in my plant pots to come over and get them because I couldn't eat them all, even taking into account that the slugs and snails had had their fill. When she said she'd be over in about 15 minutes I thought "right, that's it, let's get those bloody mattresses into the car before she comes"! You see I'd been to IKEA the week before and bought two new mattresses for my bed and still had the old ones to get rid of. They weren't terrible but every so often I like to get new ones to freshen everything up. Having wandered round (been trapped in?) IKEA for a couple of hours I was amazed at the price of some of that stuff. I don't have any problem sleeping (except when my mind is whirring) so don't need special mattresses or pillows, but crikey, the price of some of that stuff!!!!! My bed takes two 80cm x 200 cm mattresses so that's what I needed to get into my car in 15 minutes to take to the recycling tomorrow. So being nothing if not innovative, I decided to throw the buggers out my bathroom window rather than try to lug them down the stairs! Worked a treat and I now have them both in my car ready for tomorrow - and about a six inch nose space between my seat and the windscreen!

Jordan and Jen mentioned that they were going out with their neighbours today, either to Les Lindarets (the goat village I've written about before), or to the Parc de Merlet (which I don't know), so I might take myself off this week to visit the Merlet in the hopes of discovering somewhere new!

Charlie at Les Lindarets. He wasn't the least
bit scared (which was good, as they can be
quite aggressive)!

Then today the Critérium du Dauphiné (bike race) came through this area, cycling up to the Plâteau de Solaison and my only thought was "oh my God"! I've written about hiking at the Plâteau de Solaison before and that climb is nasty! I don't know how they do it (but then I guess they're not 63 either, are they)?

So all in all, it's been nice having a quieter day today. As I was sat in the back garden I heard a birthday party at the neighbours, with lots of kids squealing and playing in an above-ground pool. That's a real treat and will never bother me - it's what kids do!

Oh, and the big news is ... Jordan's been having a hard time with Max (but more particularly his brother, Arnaud) for some time. The other day Arnaud complained that a radiator Jordan had installed under a window was off by one centimetre. Jordan explained to him that he'd had to follow the plans rather than the positioning of the window because that's where the relevant piping was. Then an electrician who was also working on the site walked over and pointed out to Arnaud that the last four radiators he (Arnaud) had installed were the same because he, also, had had to follow the plans, and in any case, who could spot a 1 cm difference? Basically Arnaud told the electrician to f..... off because "Jordan was just a waste of money"! I've been hearing some of the stuff that has been going on over the months and it has really been getting to Jordan, so this week was the last straw. Even more disgusting though are the so-called "jokes" about Charlie's parentage!!!! and Jordan has had enough. So he's drafted his letter and when he gets to work tomorrow he'll be giving them the requisite two weeks' notice and handing in his resignation! Let's see how many "squared up" radiators you get done all on your own then, shall we Arnaud? He's got nothing to go to but there should be plenty of temporary work (have you ever met an unemployed plumber? Plumbers are like hen's teeth!) and since's André's neighbour came back to him again to say to get Jordan to give him his cv (done) as he's got people asking in Switzerland, it looks like things could be all change in the next few weeks! I'll let you know more as and when!

Wednesday 8 June 2022


I didn't get to watch all of the platinum jubilee celebrations but what I did see was wonderful - and even the ubiquitous British weather cooperated. I can only think Adam Lambert has nerves of steel to pull off a performance in front of that crowd (and the guy didn't even win American Idol????)! Still, it's a once in a lifetime event - or not even that since she was only 26 when she ascended to the throne. Not likely to happen again is it. Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years so now they've got 70 years to beat. Just a shame Freddy M didn't live to see it!

Sunday 5 June 2022

I'm so lucky, lucky, lucky!

So we had Jordan's surprise 30th birthday at my house yesterday, but damn were we lucky! The weather this week has been so up and down and on Friday it rained and right now it's pouring down hail storms!!! But yesterday the gods smiled on us and it was wonderful. No rain and about 30°C all day! What more could I ask for?

At a guess I think we were 30 to eat and maybe 50 dropping in for a drink. I'd done all my shopping by Thursday and Jen and her mom came over the day before to help set up, with Jen lying to Jordan about going to work, and four hours later we'd pretty much got it all done. I have to admit I stress over this stuff but everyone showed up and hid behind my neighbours' hedges until he arrived (said neighbours who had been wonderful about lending me chairs/tables etc.) and it all worked out great!

Max showed up with his girlfriend, Elise, who is quadraplegic (following an accident with wild boars), and then had a problem with the wheelchair ramp on his van. I sent André out to help but seriously??? You send out a guy who doesn't know the top end of a screwdriver from the bottom? But we got it sorted and everyone was hidden out behind the neighbours' hedges when Jordan arrived. He thought we were heading out to the village restaurant but nope, we had about 30 people à table and maybe another 20 stopping by for an apéro! And yes I'm knackered but dammit, I'm so so happy that I have all the people that I love so close to me!

Wednesday 1 June 2022

A busy week!

Sunday was Mother's Day here in France and Jordan and Jen had both us grandmas over for lunch followed by board games, which was a really nice way to spend a couple of hours together. Then Tuesday was Jordan's 30th birthday so Jen invited a few friends round for a suprise get together and then he thinks we're all going to lunch in the restaurant in my village on Saturday as my birthday gift. Well that's not quite true because Saturday is the day I'm hosting about 30 of his friends at my place for a surprise get together. I think we're on track to have everything ready so all I can do at this point is pray for good weather. Earlier this week they were forecasting a 90% chance of rain on Saturday but as the week is going on that percentage is going down and down so I'm desperately hoping it drops right down to zero rain because with those kinds of numbers we really need to be outside. Still, if it rains, it rains and I guess we'll just have to make the best of it. At least it's forecast to be warm, so that's a positive!

Teaching Charlie to play guitar on his 30th birthday!

On Wednesday night on his way home from work Jordan was passing a truck on the motorway when his car lost all power. Luckily he was just able to pull it over onto the hard shoulder before losing power completely. The upshot of a very long evening saw him getting towed to the Ford garage and me heading out to pick him up at 10 p.m., with a subsequent call from Ford the next day to say that his car was a complete goner - a nice birthday present right! So this week we've been playing musical cars with them either taking my car or me running one or the other of them around, until this coming Monday when Jen's mom will (hopefully) get her new car and they will be buying her old car off her! All good fun, right?

The past week has seen glorious weather here with perfect-ish temperatures (for me at least) in the region of 25-30°C. I had to laugh though because while we've been getting 30°C (86°F) my sister has been getting 40°C (104°F) in Spain (yuck), while my brother in England said he was getting 13°C (55°F) and rain! I reckon that's not "climate change" though - it seems to me to be pretty much par for the course as far as I can see! Still my peonies and roses have come up a treat with this perfect weather!

In other news, last week someone in our retirees' group sent round an email asking people resident in France who had taken a lump sum where they stood for tax purposes in regards to the lump sum. I knew exactly what she was getting at because if you remember I had a big kurfuffle when I retired around whether or not I had to pay an extra 7.5% tax on my lump sum to pay into the French health care system (sécurité sociale). Thankfully in the end it all worked out for me and I didn't have to pay the additional tax because never having worked in France, I'm not covered under the sécurité sociale. But I was just waiting for my former colleague-from-hell to answer the email throwing my name out there as the "expert" on this matter. You may remember that when she was going back and forth with the tax people on this issue a couple of years ago she forwarded my tax information to them by way of example. Anyway, so far so good, but I'm keeping an eagle eye out on that email thread just in case!

With all the noise recently about how many subscribers Netflix have been losing, I have to say I'm still getting my money's worth out of them (Amazon Prime, not so much) and have just finished watching The Lincoln Lawyer, which I enjoyed very much. When I'm watching a particular series I tend to look up the cast to find out who the actors are and I was somewhat surprised to see that Matthew McConaughey played the lead role because the actor looked nothing like him. Now I've never actually seen Matthew McConaughey in anything so just thought I was probably thinking of the wrong person, but as the series went on, while the actor's English was perfect, I realized that he also had a slight Spanish accent. This confused me because I was pretty sure McConaughey is American born and bred, so I looked it up again and found that McConaughey had played the lead role in the movie, whereas Mexican actor, Manuel García-Rulfo played the main role in the series. As I say, I enjoyed it very much, so much so that I've downloaded the book, although I admit García-Rulfo being very easy on the eye may have had a bearing on my enjoyment of the series (I obviously have a type)!

Manuel García-Rulfo

And did anyone see the push-back that the WHO got just last week after the attempt to introduce a Treaty on Pandemic Response? Wow! If not, in a nutshell, in January 2022 the Biden Administration introduced a motion to basically have WHO member states cede their sovereign powers to the WHO in the event of another pandemic (monkeypox, Marburg??). As it currently stands, WHO can only make recommendations in connection with a pandemic, but these amendments would give WHO authority re future pandemics and the way to deal with them, and their instructions would basically be binding on all signatory countries!!! I'm obviously paraphrasing here, but I can't understand why any sovereign nation would want to hand over such powers to unelected bureaucrats? Well there was such strong push back that the U.S. submitted watered down proposals, which should not even be discussed at WHO (yet) because under WHO's own rules, any such proposals have to be tabled at least four months before the meeting. Anyway, Botswana got up and made a statement on behalf of 47 African nations pushing back on these proposals, followed by similar statements by Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Iran and Malaysia. The upshot is that these countries, in response to huge public pressure, have demanded that negotiations be pushed back to at least 2024, by which time countries will hopefully have had time to adequately debate such proposals! Thank God for public pressure eh!

In other news, earlier this week I got a message from Amazon basically saying my kindle is so old that as from August Amazon will no longer be supporting this version of kindle. I was pissed off because I don't really want to have to buy another kindle just because of planned obsolescence, but nor do I want to start reading on my phone because it wears the battery down. In the end, since I still want to have a kindle available for when I travel, I went online and picked out a cheap kindle, put it in my Amazon basket - and then left it there. Sure enough, two days later I went back online and the price had dropped by €20 (???) so I went ahead and ordered it, although it still sticks in my craw having to replace a perfectly good (in my opinion) kindle!

And finally, another group of unelecteds met in Davos last week at the meeting of the World Economic Forum. I watched some of the shorter clips about what was going on there but I find the whole thing more than irritating. Klaus Schwab set up the WEF about 40 years ago and WEF have been training "young global leaders" ever since (Merkel, Gates, Putin, Blair, Macron, Trudeau, Ardern). The clip below was filmed in 2017 but it gives you an idea of the reach that WEF has!

One clip I did see, although I can't remember who it was and can't be arsed to look it up, was someone talking about how his company was close to perfecting an app that would allow you to "calculate your carbon footprint". So if, say, you drive your car instead of taking the bus it would calculate your foot print, but if you walked instead of taking the bus, it would show a more "acceptable" carbon footprint. There was even talk about how it could track your eating habits and "notify" you of any bad habits and your need to improve them!!!!! It's all very 1984-ish, isn't it! But I wonder how many of the Davos clique were calculating their carbon footprints as they sped away in their motorcades back to the private jets waiting to whisk them back home! Not many, I suspect!