The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Busy, busy, busy!

Crikey, it's a feast or a famine sometimes isn't it! One week I'm sitting here doing nothing at all and then the next week I'm running around like a "blue-arsed fly" (one of my dad's quaint expressions)!

Monday morning as usual was my weekly yoga class, and on Monday evening the ladies from the sewing club had planned for us all to have dinner together before sewing starts up as we hadn't been able to make the end-of-year get together. You know how sometimes you go to these things but kinda wished you didn't have to - well that was me Monday evening. But I'm so glad I went as the food and service were excellent and I had a really great time! They are nice bunch, very friendly and we had a good laugh - which is something of a miracle considering what some of those ladies have been going through lately! One lady who I went walking with pre-covid lost her husband suddenly in his sleep last year at the age of 53 to a suspected heart attack. They were estranged and living apart, but were friendly enough. I met him and he was a handsome man and apparently in good health until ....! So you can imagine what a shock it was for her and her boys. As a result of his death his two sons received a small pay-out from a life insurance policy of around €40,000 each, but she started telling me what living hell she has been going through with her youngest son because of it! She was leaving for a long weekend in New York (she's there now) and her sister-in-law, who had organised everything, asked her for a small amount of money (less than €500) towards part of the payment. When she went to her bank her cash withdrawal was refused because - as she found out when she went inside - over 17,000 Swiss francs had been taken from her bank account in the last few weeks! I think she told me this was a disbursement from her Swiss pension and she hadn't looked at that account for a while, so she was more than stunned to find that the money had been taken - and more importantly that it had been taken by her younger son! It turns out that when they were clearing out his dad's house, the son had asked for her bank card to put petrol in his car, must have memorized her pin number and then stole her card at a later date! What didn't make sense though was that he had just received €40,000 from his dad, but when she mentioned that he had just met a young Romanian woman online everything clicked right into place (just like my former BIL who got milked out of every penny by a Russian woman he met online a few years ago)! Oh the Romanian and her son had definitely met up, as she discovered when she found out that he had gone to a fancy nightclub in Geneva and paid SF 1,200 for a bottle of champagne, SF 600 for a bottle of whiskey, and spent a small fortune on a night in a swanky Geneva hotel! And of course, as soon as his money evaporated so did the Romanian girl - who couldn't have seen that coming! What's worrying my friend though, is that the sale of dad's house is due to go through this week and sonny and his brother are due to inherit around €100,000 each from the sale of the land (which belonged to his dad's family) and the three of them will then also inherit from the sale of the house! She's desperate to slow down the sale until they can get his money put into something secure like a small apartment for him, but since he turned 21 last week there's not much she can do if he decides to blow through the whole lot yet again! Geez, what a nightmare - I feel so sorry for her!

On Tuesday I decided it was time to start walking again now that the weather has cooled down, so took myself off to the lake at Passy to do a couple of circuits and it was lovely! At the beach end I stopped and chatted to an older lady who was sitting in a deckchair in her swimsuit debating whether to go in for a swim. I told her I was going to do another circuit and would check up on her on the second round - and yep, there she was swimming. Ha, I thought I was brave just walking so I can't imagine what it would take to actually get into that water!

The lake at Passy - beautiful but freezing!

Then on Wednesday night the retirees' association organised our first cocktail in over two years and again it was really nice to see some of the old familiar faces. And so many of them haven't aged at all!!! When I first joined my organization in 1980 I had an appointment with Hugo G, who explained to me all about the pension plan. He retired in 1992 at age 60, which would make him 90 now - and he hasn't changed a bit! I guess there's a lot to be said for retirement then!

On Thursday I dashed around to get my grocery shopping done because I've yet again signed up for something else - a card game afternoon from 2 pm to 6 pm! I was glad I'd looked at some of the grocery flyers because I'm now on a hair-brained scheme to try out planting potatoes, garlic, onions etc. over winter in plastic laundry baskets, since I don't have enough raised beds! Anyway, LIDL were selling them for €4 so I picked up four of them, and then when I went on to my usual supermarket (LIDL doesn't sell everything I want, obviously), the very same baskets were selling for €10!!!! Anyway, I have two planted up already so I will be curious to see how (if?) they work out. Oh and isn't it lovely to see the clementines/tangerines on sale in the farmers' markets - a real sign that autumn has well and truly arrived! As I was heading home I spotted a cyclist and was trying to figure out which side of my car he was going to cycle on so gave him a wide berth just in case. After I'd passed him he caught up with me a little way along and stopped and tapped on my passenger-side window. Now I'm ready to read him the riot act about how I'd left him plenty of room, when he leaned in through the window with a big grin and said "hi Anna"! Turns out it was Stan's son, Sam - you know, the young man who competed in this year's winter Olympics! He'd recognized my car so boy, am I glad I didn't run my mouth off!

Later that afternoon I made my way to the new-to-me card game club because I've always wanted to get back into playing belote and tarot (I haven't played in 40 years). There were about 20 people there and I would guess the average age was around 80, so I felt like a spring chick when someone called me a "young 'un"! They were a nice crowd and I've always liked older people anyway, so age wasn't a problem for me. The old guy I was sitting next to playing tarot shouted at me quite early on for playing the wrong card, but then I realized he was a bit shouty with everyone so I explained to him that I was trying to pick the game back up after so many years and could he help me? After that he was as nice as pie! Turns out it was his birthday and he had brought in wine and cake for their break, but I have to admit I got quite a shock when they all stood up to go over to the drinks table and saw how many of them couldn't stand up straight! We called it dowager's hump in my day and I think it can be caused by osteoporosis (and many other things, most likely), but it made me realize just how difficult life can be for those that are afflicted by it! So with that in mind I also stopped off at the gym for my first weight session in about six months! It was a bit namby-pamby but I guess you have to start somewhere, don't you!

My kids told me that one of my ex-husband's cousins and her husband were in Paris for her 60th birthday and were coming down to Haute Savoie for the week-end to meet up and would I like to get together with them? Well of course I would. I didn't know Pam particularly well but I always liked her. She was what I would consider somewhat reserved so it was a surprise to meet her outgoing, uber-friendly husband, John! He was originally from Brazil but had spent most of his life in the U.S., so I guess the Brazilian blood explains some of his party-animal side! On Saturday night the kids invited us all over for raclette to celebrate my birthday (64 - yikes) and I liked Pam and John instantly. Then on Sunday morning we went to the farmers' market in Annecy - which was still beautiful despite the drizzly weather (they loved it), and then off up the mountains to the lake at Les Confins (again, they were enthralled by the cowbells), and then a quick walk around La Clusaz before heading back to Jordan and Jen's for pizza. Charlie was on fine form and they both obviously like kids so he got to enjoy showing off for everyone. They left back for Paris on Monday morning, where John has booked dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge for Pam's 60th birthday tomorrow! They were so taken with France (and Haute Savoie in particular) that I feel sure we'll be seeing more of them (and with pleasure - they were great fun)!

Pam and John in Annecy!

And finally, I've mentioned before that I follow a blog about narcissism - less so now than before, but I still sometimes check to see what's going on there. Anyway, one of the ladies wrote how, at 64 and after 42 years of marriage, her husband had left her for a "bright young thang" and that while she initially had a hard time recovering from the shock, she was beginning to rebuild a life for herself. This is what she wrote that tickled me no end as it's so evocative!

"But in an attempt to work around those limitations I recently joined a gospel choir. And by gospel choir I mean eight elderly white people singing rather dull 1970s middle-of-the-road pop songs slightly off-key in a damp Welsh church, led by a pianist with delusional aspirations towards Britain's Got Talent, who makes his endless disappointment in us very evident đŸ€Ł It's good fun though, and I'm making new friends there."

And the Brits on that site all chimed in "Vicar of Dibley"! How very true to form we are!

Sunday 18 September 2022

This and that!

It looks like autumn is well and truly on it's way. The weather is still gorgeous but considerably cooler and nippy in the mornings, so much so that I decided to put a duvet back on my bed today when I changed the sheets, rather than sleeping with just a sheet. And you know what, I welcome it! I find summer so draining that spring and autumn are definite favourites. Even winter is doable (just as well really right?) - anything rather than that dreadful heat! Blogger Sam in Minnesota mentioned the other day that she was going to try to refrain from putting her heating on until November!!! A fine aim indeed and one that it would be nice to replicate over here, but in all honesty I don't really see being able to hang on that long but hey, why not give it a shot!

Talking of heating the house, when I was dropping garden cuttings off at the recycling centre the other day I noticed that there was a fireplace/wood burning stove place right next door to it that I'd never noticed before. Now if you remember I'd been to two places about getting a wood burner inserted into my fireplace since open fireplaces are now illegal here. To be honest I've only used the fireplace once in 12 years anyway (when we had a power cut), but I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to look into it just in case. On both occasions they told me they were unable to help me, something to do with the width of the opening at the top of my chimney, so I just dropped the idea since, as I say, I don't really use the thing. But on the off chance, I dropped into this new place the other day, explained my problem and she said "well why don't you just get an insert rather than a stove"? and I was flabbergasted. If it's really that easy (and that's a big "if"), why didn't the other people mention this to me? I guess I shouldn't count my chickens until they're hatched but they are sending someone out to take a look mid-October so fingers crossed it'll work out this time! I thought my friend was smart when she had her wood-burner installed in that it is purely a wood-burner and not electric powered because, as my other neighbour was saying, if we get long power cuts her own wood burner will be down because it also uses electricity. In the event of a long power cut I would use my fireplace anyway (and to hell with the law, but don't tell anyone)! So we'll see what they have to say, but if I can get that done it'll be another positive in my book!

On the entertainment side of things, I finally got round to watching The Dallas Buyers' Club the other day and boy was it good. I don't know why I never bothered watching it when it first came out, but I have to say Matthew McConaughey was excellent (as was Jared Leto), but it's stunning what he (they?) did to their bodies in order to be able to play HIV/AIDS-infected patients! I've never seen him in anything else so it was a pleasure to realize that he's not just a pretty face! I also finished reading a book by Joanne Harris called Blackberry Wine and enjoyed that too, so I guess I'm on a roll at the moment. I like Joanne Harris' books (Chocolat probably being her most famous), which tend to be set in a fictitious town in France and always include some kind of magic or spells - they are an unusual read!

I don't know what was going on the other day but while I was sitting reading a helicopter was flying overhead constantly for about 30 minutes non-stop. I don't think it was search and rescue because (I believe) their helictopters are red, but who knows!

You might just be able to make it out
(badly circled in blue) just above the white house!

And remember I was saying in a recent post how I was trying to stop wasting so much time on social media, well I don't know what happened in the last week but I am getting absolutely bombarded on FB with "suggestions for you", it's really weird. Things like a post by Radio Humberside, something about an obscure football club somewhere, a vintage car club ... you name it, it's being suggested as something I might like. I was so p....d off that I managed to bash out a message to FB asking what the heck was going on. Oh I doubt they'll do anything about it, but after deleting 20 such consecutive "suggestions" in a row (and still counting) I decided that as soon as I saw a "suggestions for you" post I would log out of FB - and viola (as they don't say over here), I don't waste nearly as much time on FB anymore, so thank you FB!

Yoga started back up last Monday and while I never actually want to make the effort to go I positively floated out of there after an 8-10 week break, so much so that I drove straight to the gym where I was enrolled pre-covid and have paid back up for a year's membership! Now I just have to start motivating myself to go again, but I'm sure it'll pick back up once I get in the swing of things! Then the other day I got a phone call from the company my friend and I did quite a few trips with pre-covid saying that they had had two cancellations for their upcoming trip to Corsica and would we like to sign up? Damn, my friend will still be away in Spain over those dates so I guess we'll have to give it a miss this time around. But it did get me to thinking I might wait until Christmas and book a "solos" trip somewhere for around March/April, depending on the situation then. I'm thinking maybe South Africa or Mexico but who knows where (and even if) I'll end up. Still, it's nice to be thinking about travelling again after so long! I don't enjoy travelling on my own, but am perfectly fine travelling with a group of people I don't know. My friend, however, loves to travel on her own and has been posting pictures of her trip to the South of France recently and it looks beautiful. She is also a very talented, creative person and posted a picture of some painting on silk that she had just done! I'm green with envy at her talent!

Isn't she talented!

And talking of talent, the community association of Amancy (where our sewing club is) had their open day on Saturday morning to showcase the various classes/clubs that are available. As president of the sewing club I set up our stand and some of the ladies brought in their creations so that we could display them as a backdrop. To be honest the Mairie had really done a poor job advertising this event so there was very little attendance - but at least for our sewing club that wasn't such a problem as we are pretty much full anyway (lack of space). We just felt we needed to show up in support of the Mairie which makes the premises available to us free of charge and gives us a small sum towards running the club!

We got one or two potential new members but I ended up enrolling in a Thursday afternoon "leisure time" club where the 20-30 members play card games, principally belote or tarot, so yay me! I played both these games in my mid-twenties when I was with my ex-boyfriend and we and friends of his would sometimes pull an all-nighter in order to finish a game. In fact it was in order to get back into these card games that I first went to the gaming evening in town about five years ago. The problem was though that they were already pretty well-established groups, so that was how my neighbour and I decided to set up our own board game evenings - which have surprised me by the fact that we are still going and that we have more people asking to join! In fact we had our lastest board game evening at ValĂ©rie's house just this Saturday. She lives at 1,200 metres (almost 4,000 feet) and it was cold up there Saturday night - but it is such a beautiful spot. We played one game which I thought was going to be a bit naff but ended up being a real hit with everyone so you never know what you're going to get. Next time will be at Jordan and Jen's place (so they can put Charlie to bed) and we've all been asked to dress up for Hallowe'en!

Valérie sent round a message beforehand asking if anyone was interested in buying half a lamb as her neighbours are small-holders and were selling organic lamb raised in the pasture behind them. I was the only one interested but in the end it was just too much meat (and too little freezer space). Valérie already had extra lamb in her freezer so she sold me the most beautiful leg of lamb from her own order which I cooked today. It was hellish expensive but good quality, and in any case I'm happy to support local producers as and when I can. There's way too much meat on that leg for me but I was thinking I'll make a rogan josh (lamb curry) to take over to the kids when I keep Charlie on Friday and put any leftovers in the freezer!

When I signed up to get solar panels, I was told that they were hoping to install them sometime in October so I thought I would request a transfer of the balance I will owe from my credit union in order to have it ready as and when. I have to say I was pretty surprised, though, when I got an automated form to fill in to indicate what I wanted this money for!!! What the flip???? My first reaction was to tell them to mind their own business but soon thought the better of that - but how long has this been going on? When I was still working and paying off my mortgage, once a year I would request 33,000 Swiss francs in order to put down extra on my mortgage and they never asked what that money was for. But now I request SF8,400 and I'm supposed to tell them what it's for??? Geez Louise, you'd think it was their money! Oh I got the money within 24 hours but really???

And finally, the Queen's funeral is tomorrow, which frankly is a good thing in my opinion as it's time to move on. Heads of State have been arriving from all over the world so I can't even begin to imagine what security will be like tomorrow. There's been an outpouring from the majority of the British public, mainly I think out of respect for how devoted to duty and stoic she was. As for Charles, well, we'll see - to my mind the jury's out on that one as yet. But - and this is a big "but" - not everyone has felt that way about the Queen's death or indeed about the monarchy in general and that is absolutely their prerogative. They have every right to their opinions of course, but one lady - a fish and chip shop owner in Scotland - took it a step further and posted a celebratory video of herself with champagne basically crowing that the Queen had finally died. Again, as I say, she has every right to her opinion - free country and all that - but given that many of the locals did not agree with the way she behaved and that the woman had to be escorted from her premises for her own safety, I have to say I'm wondering where exactly was her brain when she embarked on her new business model. As one bright spark commented - "she'll never sell another chip again, I reckon"!

Saturday 10 September 2022

Been offline again!

I took a few days away from the computer again last week so I apologize for my lack of comments on your blogs recently. Yet again I realize I'm spending way too much time online and while for the most part I don't have anywhere to be, I'm aware what a time suck it is. Heck, I unplugged the television in January and haven't plugged it back in since so I obviously haven't missed that, and while I don't want to get off social media/reading online news permanently, I really want to cut it right back, so apologies again for my lack of commenting!

After deciding I was going to "go offline", the other day I ordered some seeds that I wanted from a well-known gardening catalogue here in France and then added to my basket a small greenhouse for either the balcony or my upstairs bedroom (yes, I might put a greenhouse up there as it's a sun trap). But then I had the bright idea of looking up the same greenhouse on other websites and bloomin' hell, the one from the seed catalogue was €50 and the exact same thing at the local DIY store was €26!!! So as you can imagine, I'm going to be doing a bit more shopping around if I decide to buy anything else like that! This was the same DIY store where I bought my generator a few months ago, and while it was already assembled, of course, the handles and wheels needed to be put on it, so I got Jordan to do that for me this weekend while he was over! So I'm ready to go if (when) we get any power cuts. Actually we always get power cuts anyway (a 23-hour power cut just before Jordan's wedding springs to mind), but who knows what the situation will be like this winter, so I'm glad that's sorted!

Last weekend was a busy one for me so I was pretty tired this week - guess I need to pace myself better, but then you can't always choose can you. Heck if I was still married, 29th August would have been my husband's 60th birthday, 30th August was André's 35th birthday, and 31st August would have been my 37th wedding anniversary, so thank God I only had one event to deal with! As it was I kept Charlie on Friday as usual, but the kids had asked me if I could keep him in the evening too as they had booked dinner at a really fancy restaurant. Actually this was the caterer that did their wedding, and in order to get a reservation at his restaurant they reserved it three years ago - at the time of their wedding! I knew it was going to be a long evening! Charlie was as good as gold all day but of course he's a human dynamo too so it's always tiring. I got him down to sleep easily (it's not just me he wears out, obviously), but around midnight he started coughing and crying and I thought he was going to choke so I went in and picked him up. And that was that until mom and dad came home at 1.30 a.m. when they found him sitting on my lap wide awake reading a book! Still he wasn't difficult to put down again and I got home around 2.30 a.m., although I must admit I'm starting to get more uneasy about driving around at night, (a) because of the wild animals and (b) because the Eastern European licenced cars that always seem to "break down" in deserted spots and try to flag you down are back again - if they ever left! I know many of the places where these Mercedes "break down" so try to avoid them, but whichever way I go home from Jordan and Jen's place, I always have to go through isolated areas. The unfortunate thing is, these cars are always licenced in either Bulgaria or Romania - which does nothing to help with feelings of animosity towards perfectly innocent people from these countries, as you might imagine!

Then on Saturday I had people over for André's 35th birthday. It was a lovely evening, I made way too much food, of course, and my fridge is now bursting at the seams with leftovers that I have to figure out what to do with. I bought a ton of cheese for the cheese platter and since I don't really eat cheese I think I might drive over to the kids tomorrow and drop that off at least!

André with his favourite

Jordan and Jen stayed overnight because the next day we had our neighbourhood clean-up, where everyone spends about an hour tidying up our little island, which is then an excuse to all get together for a knees-up! It's always good fun and particularly appreciated this year after so long being kept apart!

But since I've had a few quieter days to rest, I really must get back to cleaning/decluttering this place. For some time now I've noticed a smell which I haven't been able to pin down. I've always got the windows and doors open in this weather but as soon as I closed up for the evening the smell would come back. Well I finally figured it out yesterday when I looked on the shelf just above my kitchen sink and realized the smell was coming from the two whole heads of garlic nestled up there. Thank God for that - at least it's my garage that stinks now and not the house!

Oh and just because ... I spotted this picture of Annecy the other day, taken I think from the Haute Savoie Tourism website, so decided to post it because it's just pretty. Actually Annecy is so beautiful it's difficult to take a bad picture of it, but here goes anyway!

Taken from the Pont des Amours
(Lovers' Bridge) in Annecy!

And I see Bojo used his final days in office to give the British people the benefit of his wisdom on how to make it through what are undoubtedly going to be some very difficult times financially. You see, assuming you have an old electric kettle that gets caked up with limescale, if you spend £20 on a new kettle you can knock a whopping great £10 a year off your electric bill!!! Wow, thank God he pointed that out! So with electric bills going up to potentially £7,000, using Bojo's tried and tested money-saving tip, next year's electric bill will only be £6,990! The man's a genius with his finger on the pulse of the lives of the British people - I don't know why on earth we don't keep him!

On a more positive note, the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has already said she will be introducing measures to cap energy bills (or is that just electric bills?) at £2,500 I believe, so that's a start. Whether she'll be any better than Bojo remains to be seen but at least she doesn't come over as a condescending dipshit!

And finally I'm so glad that Liz Truss was able to meet the Queen in Balmoral and be officially invited to form a government - just a day or so before the Queen died! I see people using the word "shocked" to hear of the Queen's death but I can't help thinking there's got to be a better word than "shocked" to describe your feelings about the death of a 96 year old woman! I guess so many people thought she was invincible and would always be here because she always has been here, or at least as far as I'm concerned anyway. She was a class act and I think Charles will have his work cut out to follow that - although he has already promised to keep his nose out of politics, so that's a start! Apart from the many lovely tributes to her though, I thought it was nice to hear all the stories about her wonderful sense of humour. This one particularly tickled me and happened when she was out walking in the highlands near Balmoral with only her long-time security officer to accompany her. What a lovely memory for him!