The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

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!


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!

Wednesday 12 October 2022

A mishmash!

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results! So I guess on those grounds I'm probably certifiable!!! If only I could learn to pace myself I wouldn't have the "crash and burn for a week" followed by the blahs because I overdid it again. As I've said before, I only have myself to blame but until I get it through my thick skull that everything doesn't have to be done today, I guess I'm doomed!

I was chatting to André at his place the other day and he was watching a vlog about a US family who had sold up completely in Texas and had been living on their catamaran (with their young kids) for the past few years. And he was telling me that he and his friend Matthias were thinking (more like day-dreaming) of doing the same thing - which actually made me laugh because (a) he doesn't know how to sail and (b) he gets motion sick just driving up the mountain! Buuuuuttttt, while I would push him to think long and hard about it, I would never be the one to try to talk him out of it. What right would I have anyway? I mean, I left a good-ish job and lovely boyfriend in England when I was 21 to move to Switzerland (definitely a great move). Then I resigned in 1983 to spend six months backpacking round Bali and Australia (again, another great move). The downside of that move, however, was then having to go back to work (again in Switzerland) in January 1984! Oh don't get me wrong, I was very grateful that my employer took me back but it was very hard to get back to the daily grind after all that freedom! Anyway he told me that he and Matthias were going to take sailing lessons on Lake Geneva to get their initial permits and was dumbounded when I told him I got mine in 1980. Yeah, in the five years that I lived as a single girl in Geneva I never spent even one single evening at home - I was always out! Not that I was always out partying, of course, but one of the things I did was take sailing lessons and I loved it! Oh I doubt that my permit would still be valid after all these years and I'm pretty sure I would never want to live full-time on a sail boat anyway but yep, I got the same thrill out of sailing as I did when I first took downhill skiing lessons! I'm a crap skier too, BTW, but the enthusiasm was always there!

I'm just thinking that now might be the best time to prepare and look into all this but not to do it, given the crazy situation the entire world seems to find itself in right now. On the other hand, isn't it often better to have given it a shot than to live with regrets? A lady at my sewing club finally came back to club last week after four months of hospitalisation and convalescence for a brain tumour they discovered (in May, I think). Then there's my sewing teacher's son who had just gotten his own apartment at the age of 26 (I think he's 35 now) when he was dashing down the stairs, fell and landed on his head, pushing part of his skull into his brain. She managed to keep him at home until very recently but was telling me the other night at dinner that they had had to place him in a secure institution for all their safety, given his unpredictability and furious rages! Then today I bumped into my other neighbours who I hadn't seen for a while. I knew they were off to Morocco at some point so hadn't really noticed their absence, but she was telling me that they had both been really ill with covid two weeks ago and were having a hard time recuperating - and this after both having four shots! They honestly can't say where they think they got it! I wish they'd reached out to me for any help they might need because I'm at home and could have pitched in. That being said, they have two adult children locally so I guess they didn't really need me did they! So yep, it's strange times we're going through and in any case no-one knows what tomorrow may hold, so who am I to try to discourage André?

I got both my water and electric bills this week and both have gone down again, so I'm pleased with that. Add to that that "the guy" is coming tomorrow to see if it would be possible to install a fire insert into my fireplace (fingers crossed) and then the solar panels should be fitted within the next month, it's all go again at the moment. To add to the current energy crises everyone seems to be going through at the moment, here in France we've got strikes blocking oil refineries so people are having to queue up at petrol stations - that is if they are fortunate enough to find one that has petrol! But again, we're so lucky to be just 25 minutes from Switzerland so at least we can make a trip over the border if needs be! So yep, things are tough at the moment. I was in LIDL last week and a rather handsome young man was working the cash register and I started thinking "I really hope you're only doing this as a stop-gap to make a bit of money" because to my mind LIDL shouldn't be his final destination. Not that I'm knocking shop-workers of course - hell I did it myself for five years while I was studying - but it is so mind-numbingly boring! As I watched him I realized I kinda expected him to be sullen because of that, but not a bit of it. He was chatty and friendly to everyone. And then I realized how many delivery drivers we have stopping round here every day - you know, Amazon, UPS, whoever. Boy do those guys work hard, but again are invariably polite and friendly, even if they probably don't feel like it!

Then the other day I stopped in at the very small library in Amancy to join up, even though I already have so many of my own books to read I'll probably never get them all read in my lifetime - I just wanted to support their efforts. So out of a total of - oh, I don't know - a whopping five books in English, you can imagine how thrilled I was to pick up a copy of The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson, whose writing I love! I saw the film version of his book A Walk in the Woods and didn't like it at all, but his writing I find just lovely. So I'm thinking I will also go into town and join the much bigger library (i.e. about the size of four cupboards instead of two) to have a wander round there and sit and enjoy the view. Maybe even walk there and back a few times as I really need to buck up my walking. I've written about this library before - it has the most spectacular view from the reading room, so would be well worth joining!

The view from the reading room!

I was looking after Charlie again on Friday and managed to get a great video of the two of us cracking up laughing. He now says papa and mama so I'm pushing him to say nana! In actual fact I think he was trying to say banana, because that's his favourite fruit, but I'll take that as a win for me! Anyway we were both laughing away so I showed him the video of "the little boy laughing" and he was pressing the buttons and so on - and somehow he's buggered up the apps on my phone. I guess that'll teach me to let him get too close to my phone, right?

My American friend here in France sent me a message from London the other day to say that her daughter had just given birth and included proud nana photos! Mom is American and French, and dad is Pakistani and Colombian, and since the baby was born in London he's also entitled to British citizenship. Heck he'll need a backpack to carry all those passports around with him! They had a scare a couple of days after they took him home though as the baby started "frothing at the mouth" (that's how she described it to me). As he was so little they called the emergency services, who were there within five minutes, and everything was fine in the end, thank goodness. But talk about "jammy" (as we used to say in England) - look at the view from her daughter's hospital room. Yep, the Houses of Parliament!

So while life is very much up and down for most people, I have nothing to complain about and I know it! I worked outside for an hour in the garden and if there's one way to make your house feel "too hot" (it's definitely not), then that would be to get outside for a while. It certainly chases away those blahs!