The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Had a good week this week!

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

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

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

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

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


Phil, mom, granddad and great-grandma!

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

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

Thonon

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

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


Saturday, 19 November 2022

The tortoise and the hare!

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

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

Lunch was apparently also included!

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


Sunday, 13 November 2022

Is it just me or is the world going crazy?

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

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

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

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



A few photographs - if anyone cares!

King

Prime Minister

Deputy PM

Home Office

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

Until recently - Health

Finances - until October 2022

Mayor of London

Former PM and
Chief Buffoon!

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

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

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