The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday, 17 March 2023


I've had a very productive few days - which thrills me no end! If only I could get it through my brain that it's completely normal not to be uber-productive every day I might not feel so guilty on the lazy days. But hey ho, whaddaya gonna do! I had a vague notion of trying to get to bed by midnight every night but that's been a total fail so far (2 a.m. last night!!)! I guess I may as well knock that one on the head because I don't see it happening, and in any case I'm usually up by 8 a.m. so there seems not much point trying to fight how Mother Nature intended things to run in this house!

I managed to get a couple of walks in this week, probably because as I was just talking myself out of going for a walk an email popped into my inbox from Country Walking Magazine - which I subscribed to a couple of years ago yet never read! Oh it's a lovely magazine but it's UK based so while the articles are indeed interesting it's not very relevant to me! I got a walk in down at the lake at Passy and then the next day I did the easy local circuit - the one we used to do during lockdown when we could only leave home for a maximum of an hour a day. Well that is everyone except politicians had to stick to the one hour limit. Rules never have and never will apply to them you see! Anyway I went past the local allotments and stopped for a nose at two men working there but speaking a language I couldn't make out. On the way back I passed a garden where a young lad was playing a competitive game of football all by himself and rattling away non-stop. It tickled me no end! I wonder who won!

When I got back I noticed that the celery base that I had stuck in a bowl of water a week ago had started to root, so I planted it and am now pathetically delighted to have a new head of celery growing in my living room! I guess that could be a handy side gig - selling celery at the local market (as long as no-one needed more than one head of celery every three months)! I also got round to dismanteling a little greenhouse that I bought, intending to use it on the balcony (high winds permitting) because every time I tried to move it it fell apart! So then I had the bright idea of glueing the parts together, except I had it on it's side to squirt the glue into the holes when I realized I might well have ended up glueing it to the balcony on its side!!!! Luckily I got it upright and now have it at the end of my balcony, up against my bedroom wall and hopefully secure enough to withstand high winds through the good graces of a couple of bungy straps! I also spent a couple of hours in my (very small) veggie plot today cleaning it up - it feels so good to be working outside again!

In other news, I've mentioned before a very large website that I began following (still do occasionally) when my husband left. It talks about dealing with infidelity and in many cases with narcissistic personalities. I'm not on there so much any more as I feel it was there when I needed it and it's time to move on, but I was asked last week if I'd become one of the moderators on their FB group! I told her I'd give it some thought but in the end I had to be honest with her and say that I often snoozed the group for a while as I don't want to get dragged into thinking about "that time" any more. She was very nice about it, but I'm glad I made the decision that I did! I don't need the extra responsibility (or aggravation)!

I had a lovely surprise message from a close colleague of mine last week where she told me that she'd resigned (she must be early 40s - if that) as she has been offered a very good job at the Asian Central Bank in the Philippines! I knew she'd been frustrated for quite some time. Frankly she was probably too intelligent for our HR department so during her time with me she learned our HR rules and regs pretty much inside out and studied HR law in her spare time - although there can't have been much spare time as a married mom of two young kids. So hats off to her - I'm delighted for her! On a slightly less spectacular but equally happy-making note, Jen told me that her boss had mentioned to her the other week that they might (just might) be able to take her on permanently in September. She always knew the job was just temporary but she likes them very much, says they are very human and it's so darn convenient time and distance-wise. Fingers crossed there then! And then just today Jordan called her to say that the company he is working for through the temporary agency would like to take him on too! He's going in Monday to talk to them and is in a pretty good negotiating position because (a) the temping agency obviously costs them a lot of money and (b) you can't get plumbers here for love nor money - hence he's working with 20 Romanian plumbers! Again, fingers crossed! Jordan and Jen were married four years yesterday so as of today he can apply for French citizenship and it is more or less automatic - he just has to submit his paperwork! I'm going over there tomorrow to go shopping with Jen and since I now have two beautifully sorted freezers (plus a complete list of contents) I decided on the spur of the moment to make a batch of hummus and flat breads to take over, plus a chicken and mushroom pie. I tell ya, I'm so pleased with my nice clean freezers I feel like putting a sofa down in the basement (it's unfinished) and next time someone comes over just casually opening and shutting the doors to see if they notice! I know, little things please little minds, right!

Annnndddd the ongoing uproar over Macron's proposed pension reform bill has, I think, reached its pinnacle! I watched a programme on it last night and it is much more complicated than just raising the pension age - which is something he would prefer to do rather than, say, increase taxes on big earners/companies! Anyway, the bill went through the National Assembly and on to the Senate - which voted for it but with some amendments, one of which was the abolition of most of the 42 special pension regimes, although oddly enough not the special regime which allows Senators themselves to maintain the current more favourable conditions! Macron's party do not have an absolute majority and would therefore most likely lose the vote when this reform goes back to the National Assembly, so they have yet again (for the eleventh time????) invoked Article 49.3 - which allows the government to pass a reform/bill/amendment without a vote! Eleven times since Elisabeth Borne was nominated Prime Minister in May last year, that is! So the country is in uproar and a vote of no confidence has been put forward today - which will be voted on on Monday - and if passed the pension reform bill will be dropped and I believe the Government has to resign! I don't know what will happen (what deals will be made behind closed doors), but this is to my mind one of the most contentious situations I have seen in France in over 30 years of living here - and there've been a few!

And finally, WAY TO GO THE DUTCH FARMERS! The Rutte Government has been pushing "net zero" policies for some time now, one of which was to drastically reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers in Dutch farming (Netherlands is the world's second biggest exporter of food apparently). So 3,000 Dutch farmers were going to be offered XXX amount for their land, and if they refused their farms would be expropriated! So a land grab on the pretext of "saving the world from death by cow farts"! Well the Dutch farmers have been protesting for months now and in yesterday's provincial elections, the BBB Party (the farmers' party) won a landslide victory and are now the Netherlands' biggest party! Of course, as I said above, deals are often made by minority parties behind closed doors, but this news is fantastic. Well done the Dutch farmers, and well done the Dutch people who supported them!

The Dutch farmers' protest!

Edited to add: after I published this I just saw Neil McCoy-Ward's video and he talks about the situations in France and the Netherlands for the first ten minutes, if you're interested (here)!

Friday, 3 March 2023

Better late than never!

I had an ok week this week - not exactly over-productive but not bad either. I did manage a walk from Thyez to Cluses with my friend, stopping in Cluses for lunch - so that probably negated any calorie burn-off but it was nice just to be out in the sunshine. One thing that surprised me yet again, though, is that at the restaurant we had to pull up the menu via the QR code on the table!!!!! That's the second time in two weeks that that has happened. I don't know if this is the norm now or maybe it's just that I don't get out so much. I guess in a way it's a saving for the restaurant, but at least they did have physical menus too. Still, I'm finding all this new-fangled stuff very strange! I also made it to yoga and the gym (which is still very namby-pamby) so hopefully I will start getting into more of a rhythm soon!

I still haven't finished painting my bathrooms - I can't be arsed to be honest - but there's not much left to do so I'm aiming to get the walls and the radiators finished this week. Still no word on when the bathroom fittings will arrive, although hopefully it won't be too much longer (not that I'm looking forward to the mess though)! 

I mentioned in a previous post that I'd gone out and bought quite a bit of stuff from the freezer place, only to have to face up to what a hideous state my two upright freezers in the basement were in. So over a period of about five hours with scraper and hairdryer I've managed to get both freezers defrosted and - I'm ashamed to say - threw out five 30 litre trash bags of very old stuff! It's shameful actually because (a) I should never have let them get into that state and (b) throwing away food is just bad, but at least they're done now! Still, I'm finally getting to use up all those old, tatty clothes that I always kept for "someday when I'm going to be doing some serious painting/sorting"!

Last Thursday I drove into Geneva to have dinner with a former colleague, and while it's always lovely to see him, gosh I really don't miss that commute, even if going on former experience, traffic was just "normal"!

Jordan and Jen took a few days off and drove with Jen's mom up to see grandma and grandpap in Lorraine (northern France). They were thrilled to see Charlie, of course, but Jen said he's started with the terrible twos (he'll be two on 28 March) and his favourite answer seems to be "non" at the moment! When they got back we had our latest board game evening at Jen's mom's and while we weren't very many, we played a couple of games that I really enjoyed (not too French oriented) and I actually won one (yay me)!

André is off to Thailand for work on Sunday and, as I mentioned before, he's flying business class with Emirates (jammy bugger). Or, as he puts it, "free champagne and a full length bed"! He seems to be looking at about a six hour flight to Abu Dhabi, a few hours layover, then around another six hour flight to Bangkok, so I'm betting he'll sleep most of the way. Both my kids (and Charlie) could sleep for Britain so I'm sure it'll be no hardship. He's going to take a few extra days after the conference to explore Bangkok and sit by the swimming pool, so maybe if he gets to start travelling for work a little he might feel more settled and less inclined to "chuck it all in and live on a sail boat" which - never having sailed before in his life (although he's planning to learn this summer) - doesn't sound like the best thought out plan to me, but who am I to say! Just thinking about Thailand though is giving me itchy feet to travel somewhere more long haul next spring! Time to give that some thought, I think!

And finally, last night five of us got to use the Christmas present I bought for everyone - a ticket to the theatre in Geneva to see The Lion King! It was a bit hit and miss at the beginning because Jordan and Jen were coming straight from work and I think Jordan got a shock at just how bad rush hour traffic in Geneva is. My friend and I drove to the border and caught the bus and André, being André, went to work, stopped in at the pub after work and then had to run down to the theatre to get here before the performance started but only after I'd called him telling him he'd better not be late! Before the performance started I thought I'd better go to the loo so put my ticket in my coat pocket, came out of the ladies' - and couldn't find my bloody ticket! As I dashed back into the ladies' room a young girl asked me if I was looking for my ticket because she'd picked it up in the corrider! Phew - and here's me telling André not to make us late! Then when I saw the stage I realized that it wasn't - as I had thought - the Broadway stage performance, but rather the Elton John/Hans Zimmer musical performance. I was disappointed, and a little worried that the others would be too, but what could I do? And then the artists walked on stage and started singing in German and I thought "oh sh*t, this is going to be a disaster"! But it turns out they only sang a few tidbits in German and then the rest was either in English or whatever African language the rest of the songs were in - and they were brilliant! There was a huge animated screen behind the orchestra, the music was loud and full of energy, Jen was bopping around, the boys were mesmerized by the orchestra (the drummer in particular - Jordan's a drummer) and my friend and I were singing along like a pair of right old Derby and Joans! The conductor was Stephen Ellery and he was bouncing all over the stage, obviously enjoying himself tremendously, and after picking up a sax played along to Can You Feel The Love Tonight!

Stephen Ellery

We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and, having watched a little of the Broadway show, I think I actually preferred this version. It always amazes me how many talented people there are out there! As we left I reminded Jordan of the time when as a young kid he'd looked at me and said how lucky I was to have such beautiful hair. Huh??? And then he said "yeah, you look just like Simba in The Lion King! Hey, I'll take compliments where I can get them! And then André and Jen got into arguing about when the film was originally released (1994 if you're wondering) and André got it right because he remembers when I picked him up from school one day and held out a video (or DVD - who knows) of the film and he ran over and hugged me, he was so happy. I don't remember that at all, but it's good to know isn't it!

Anyhow, with the years my hair seems to be getting darker oddly enough so I no longer look like Simba, but those aforementioned itchy feet of mine have got me thinking about maybe Thailand, or Mexico - or how about Botswana in the spring? A wimba wap, a wimba wap, in the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight ....!

Elton John/Hans Zimmer's The Lion King!

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Artificial intelligence!

I've been trying to stay away from the news again these past few days (it's been over a year since I turned my TV on), but still dreadful current events make their way through. There was another earthquake in the Turkey/Syria region the other day (those poor people), the devastating cyclone on New Zealand's North Island, and then the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, where the powers that be decided to blow up the deadly chemical spill from about 50 carriages and then told the locals it was "safe to return to their homes and even drink the water" only three days later! Yeah, sure, if my neighbourhood looked liks this I'm sure I'd be dashing back!

East Palestine, Ohio

This picture was taken by a passenger in
a plane that happened to be flying overhead
at that moment (can you even begin to
imagine how scary that must have been)!

Whenever I see a news event like this I google it to see where it is and realized that East Palestine is only 45 miles away from my MIL's home just outside Pittsburgh! So yeah, I don't care what the Governor is saying, I'm pretty sure I'd be drinking bottled water (at the very least) from now on!

In more upbeat news (for me, at least), yoga started back up on Monday and I learned that we would be doing exercises to "encourage spring's rising energy", including breathing exercises which would help anyone who suffers from allergies! The physical exercises were tough but good (I sense she's upping the ante a little), but those breathing exercises!!! Crikey! I've always been a bit of a sceptic but my bloody nose ran like a dripping tap all day after leaving class! I also managed to get in another walk down at the lake at Passy and while it was better than the last time, the far, shaded side of the lake was still icy and slushy so I came back feeling great but looking like I'd just done a tough mudder! And remember I mentioned previously that on a whim I'd bought Japanese foot patches that "detoxify the body", well since I'm still finding them absolutely great and really good for relieving aching feet, I gave some to my neighbour today when she was complaining about pains in her feet. I'll be curious to see if they work for her too, but either way, I'll definitely be buying more!

I also decided to bite the bullet and have booked a trip to Mallorca (Spain) for September - which will be the first time I've been away since my brother's death in January 2019. Well that's not strictly true as we're going to Holland in April, but I'm definitely looking forward to Mallorca! My friend and I are also off to pay for another day trip to Turin's market in June and I offered my (unhappy) neighbour to come with us as a way of getting away from her husband for a bit. I'm still working on that and trying to get her to join our Monday night sewing club as I know she would really enjoy it. I fear she'll be a hard nut to crack but I can but try!

In other news (and any gents out there you might want to skip this bit), I decided that it was about time I bought mself some new underwear (bras, specifically) but had no idea what my size is. So I went onto the Triumph site and was somewhat intrigued to see that using "artificial intelligence" you can scan their QR code, do something resembling the highland fling and in theory it will then tell you what your bra size is!!!!!! Soooooo, the site has you strip down to your bra, turn your camera on (sounds kinky doesn't it but it was definitely not a pretty sight) and then position your entire body between two specific lines - though why the AI needs to be able to also see your feet in order to estimate your boob size is beyond me. I mean, I've heard people claim that foot size can be an indicator of the size of another appendage (though not a female one), but boobs???? So I'm standing there (in my underwear and praying the neighbour wouldn't walk through my back garden right now) and the mechanical voice has you raise your arms and then turn slowly through 360° - looking something like this, only nowhere near as cute!

Then you have to wait while it whirrs and caclulates - and apparently I need to buy a size "xy16-41z"! Yeah, that sounds about right! Would you believe I did the highland fling five times and still didn't know what size to buy so ended up deciding the best thing would be to go into town and try a few on! Artificial intelligence - pfft!

Mind you, the other day I decided I needed to make up some home-made washing liquid and fabric softener, and while the fabric softener works wonderfully, every time I've tried making the washing liquid I end up with something akin to a solid brick of soap. I finally went through the instructions one last time and realized when I converted X cups through to X ounces and on to X grams I'd managed to quadruple the amount of savon de Marseille (soap flakes) so it's no wonder I couldn't pour the bloody stuff out of the bottle! So now I'm starting to rethink which is worse - artificial intelligence or mine!

Going off on another tangent, the past couple of weeks I've been watching Clarkson's Farm on Amazon Prime (see series 1 here), and tonight I finished series 2 (here) and have absolutely loved it. He's a straight-talking, no-nonsense, absolute non-farmer - sometimes controversial - but the show was a hoot and in a relatively short period of time he has been able to highlight some of the many difficulties facing British farmers (and also what a bunch of jobsworths East Oxfordshire District Council are)! There's apparently going to be a series 3 next year and I'll definitely be watching that!

Anyway, what with all the painting, decluttering, yoga-ing and walking, the other day I decided that I would give cooking a miss for a while and just buy a bunch of fairly (al)ready meals from a wonderful frozen food place near here. And of course I went slightly nuts because although what I bought is pretty good, I don't have space in the freezer for it!!!! Yeah, I know, it's like when you go to IKEA and buy an entire bedroom set expecting to get it in the back of your Mini Cooper! So add "empty freezers" to my task list, just ahead of finish painting the bathrooms before the plumbers get here and take a carload of stuff to the charity shop. Again, artificial intelligence or mine? The jury's out on that one!

And finally, talking of IKEA, I saw this the other day and somehow I just knew where they were coming from!

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Plodding along!

The weather these past few days has yet again been lovely - in my opinion at least. Cold, of course, but sunny and that's when I start thinking about spring and all the seeds I'm going to be planting (and killing) in my garden shortly. I was in LIDL last week and stopped to look at the veggie/flower seeds on display and got chatting to an older gent, who was doing the same and telling me how much he was looking forward to getting back out in the garden! I laughed and said that I was too but in reality I think I spend way too much money and time to get those "free" veggies and plants from my garden. Ain't that the truth! We chatted for a little while and he told me to pick up a couple of packets of zinnias as they seem to do really well in this climate! I tend to plant most of my veg in a few raised beds at the top of my garden and don't actually have much decent soil for flowers, but I'll give it a shot and see if they actually do turn out well under my regime of total neglect!

On Saturday Jen arranged for a few of us to meet up for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant in Cluses. As I was about to get into my car I heard a cracking sound and dived back under my porch just in time for a fair sized dump of snow to fall off the roof right where I was standing. My first thought was that it would have been quite funny if I had gotten clobbered but when I saw the solid sheets of ice that fell, I'd say I had a lucky escape as they would have hit like razor blades!

I was chatting with André over dinner and he was telling me that his work trip to Istanbul has been cancelled (although it was cancelled before the earthquakes) and he would now be going to Bangkok in March instead. He leaves on the Sunday and the conference finishes on the Friday, so he's going to ask for a week's leave in order to spend some time in Thailand. He's been before and loves it, and the jammy devil is flying business class with Emirates so I think he's really looking forward to it! He also told me he'd met a young woman who, it turns out, is Portuguese and works at the UN. They've been out for drinks a few times and he really likes her, but she doesn't like the UN so who knows what - if anything - will happen there! Still I'm glad for him that he's met someone he likes after the bitter blow that was his very much unexpected and unwanted divorce!

The neighbours a few doors up are in the process of moving out as the young woman who owns the house is selling it. When we first moved in that house was owned by M. Lesoeur, a divorcé with two teenage kids called Diane and Vincent. Vincent was 17 and as soon as he turned 18 he got his driving licence, bought a motorbike - and was killed a week later in a motorbike accident! Dad moved out and Diane has been renting the place out ever since - well until now, that is! The neighbours seem to have overlapped leaving this place with moving into their next place as they are taking their time to move (and seem to have loads of friends helping), but seeing all that work yet again makes me determined to keep getting rid of as much stuff as I can!

I've actually been on a roll again this week, spending every day painting in the bathrooms before the plumbers/tiler come (in early March, all being well) and I've also been either down in the basement sorting stuff for the tip or pulling kitchen cupboards out and throwing anything that's way out of date! I suppose I'll crash and burn in a couple of days, as that would seem to be my pattern, but even though there is loads more to do, I actually feel like I'm starting just slightly to break the back of this stuff!

In other news I would guess there is unbridled panic in some quarters where now bankrupt FTX (Sam Bankman-Fried) are demanding the return of donations made by Bankman-Fried to "numerous political figures and action groups" prior to FTX's bankruptcy in November last year (see here). Then tonight I started watching the Netflix series on Bernie Madoff. I'd always heard he ran a massive ponzi scheme but didn't know much more about it than that, so I'm interested to learn more about the whole fiasco! While I know many of the Madoff victims were smaller investors who were scammed out of relatively modest nest-eggs, boy am I glad I don't move in those kinds of circles!

And finally, seeing the horrific pictures coming out of Turkey and Syria after yesterday's devastating earthquakes, it hammers home just what is important in this life, and it sure as heck isn't the Bernie Madoffs and the Bankman-Frieds of this world. (And T'Pol, I really hope that by now you've gotten word of your family and that they are safe)!

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

You vill eat zee bugs!

This week has been pretty nice - cold of course, but lovely sunshine (and no more snow, for the time being). There were 12 of us at my place on Saturday night for our latest board game evening and as ever, I'm still pretty surprised that we're still going. I thought it would fizzle out before now to be honest, but nope, it seems everyone is just as keen to keep going! We played a game a bit reminiscent of a visual "Chinese Whispers" (although in French it's the "Arab telephone"), where you would be given a word to draw, then the next person had to describe it in words, and the next person had to draw something based on that description. It was pretty easy to play but it gave us quite a few laughs - although not as many laughs as we had with my new Amazon candles!

I mentioned before that one corner of my living room is quite dark because the plug sockets in that corner are naff so I don't have a light there. So with that in mind I bought three battery-operated candles from Amazon that I could leave on the coffee table if ever we are sitting down there. They also gave me a chance to play with Charlie by showing him how to blow on the candles and they would light up or turn off (all depending on where I held the remote control of course)! Well he was pretty taken with it for a while, and then a little later I saw Jen's friend, Julien, over there repeatedly blowing on the candles. I assumed he was playing with Charlie but when I realized the babe was behind me, I went over and asked him what he was doing and he told me he was trying to figure them out. At that point I burst out laughing and showed him the remote control! He was pretty embarrassed .... that is until we were all sitting at the table and I put one of the candles in front of Charlie again to keep him occupied. And that was when Isabelle picked it up and started blowing on it - and then her daughter did the same and they couldn't figure it out either! Isabelle's husband was cracking up laughing because he could see me messing with the remote, and when they finally cottoned on she started laughing and couldn't stop. She has a very infectious laugh and I think it's been a long time since we've all lost it like that, so I can highly recommend those candles (if your friends are maybe a bit slow on the uptake and/or alcohol might be involved)!

They were something like this!

Jordan is still working up at Flaine where it is -18°C during the day (-4°F). He says while it's not too bad, it'll be a lot better when they put the windows in the hotel - I'll bet! He's still enjoying it though and what with the extra money they're paying him to pick up the Romanian plumbers in town he told me he's now doubling the salary he was making when he worked with Max. Add to that the fact that he's not paying for petrol and I'd guess he can count another €400/month just for that, so I'm really pleased for him!

I'm still plodding on with my decluttering and cleaning (always easier when you've pitched a load of stuff), but while I was vacuuming in the end bedroom the other day it brought to mind a story a colleague told me when I first arrived in Geneva. At the time she was dating a young physicist who was working at CERN (the European nuclear research place - think Hadron Collider) and Manfried, being basically lazy, told her that he reckoned he'd figured out a way to "zap" the dust out of his apartment without dusting! So he ran a wire over most of the surfaces with the intention of running an electric current through it - which would then, theoretically, attract all the dust away from his furniture and onto the wire. It ended up leaving wire-shaped burn marks all over his furniture. They broke up not long after that (and thankfully I think he had nothing to do with the Hadron Collider)! 

I got quite a big job sorted in the kitchen too the other day when I pulled all my herbs and spices out. Man oh man, do I have a lot. I guess every time I was looking for ground cumin and couldn't find it I went out and bought another packet from the Chinese store! I ended up covered in all kinds of exotic spices and smelling like a curry house but at least that is done and sorted!

On Monday I had my last yoga lesson for two weeks as the yoga teacher's kids are on mid-term (ski) break until 20 February. Two weeks ago we did a class that centred around balance and boy did I hate it. While I know balance is extremely important, particularly as we get older, I was hopping round that place like a drunken pirate with a wooden leg! Yesterday's class worked on the lower back - which was great - but crikey you realize just how easy it isn't when you try to do some of that stuff. And talking of balance, I decided to take myself off to the lake at Passy for a walk today, but what I hadn't realized is that the path around the lake is still extremely icy so after walking up to the "beach" I decided to turn round and go back as I really don't want to go flying again and maybe break something. It was very cold but still stunning, all the same!

And what do you think about the EU's latest "offering" where certain crushed up bugs/insects have now been approved for inclusion in food products!!!!! I first read about it here and if I remember right, it was going into effect on 24 January. Since then at least a few other media outlets have picked it up and several of the better MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) are also raising the issue (thank you the wonderful Virginie Joron). There are a few really good MEPs (Christine Anderson of Germany, Cristian Terhes of Romania) and a few others whose names I can't remember and thank goodness for them, because otherwise we'd be left with people like the Greek MEP who had hundreds of thousands of euros in cash in a carrier bag in her apartment and can't for the life of her think how it got there (she's now in jail I believe)! Anyway, it would seem that certain bugs (crickets, mealworms etc.) have now been approved for grinding up into a kind of flour and included in food products. They're mainly destined for junk food like cookies, crisps, frozen pizza and ready meals, etc. but will also be included in certain pasta and bread producs under their latin names, of course! I'm off shopping tomorrow so I'll definitely be taking my glasses with me and using my Yuka app (I'll be curious to see if it picks up "ground crickets"). I'll let you know, but bloody hell, what on earth will they come up with next!

Yuka app!

And finally, for no other reason than I just discovered them (better late than never), I've included a video by an Irish trio called Foil, Arms and Hog who I think are hilarious! Take away "mammy's" Irish accent and give her a Welsh one and you've got me and my mom going out clothes shopping - which thankfully didn't happen too often!

Friday, 20 January 2023


It's all go again here and boy has it been a weird few days. I went to sewing on Monday evening and we were all chatting (some of us do more chatting than sewing - that would be me) and I commented to Patricia that she didn't look too well (she's the lady whose son is now disabled after falling downstairs and landing on his head)! She's been off work quite some time with an arm/shoulder injury and as she works in a factory and does sewing on the side, I imagine there might be a few financial worries there too! Well she sat down and kinda burst out that she was going to ask her doctor to test her for Alzheimer's! Yikes, I wasn't expecting that! She's 58 and told me that not only is she becoming extremely forgetful but that sometimes she can be driving and have to stop because she doesn't know where she is - and that's on familiar roads! Wow, what can you say to that? I think we've all gone upstairs and then couldn't remember why we'd gone there, but to be driving on familiar roads and suddenly not know where you are would be more frightening! I hope for her sake it's the stress of her current situation rather than anything more serious. Heck I remember once mentioning to my doctor at work that I was starting to worry about that too, but since she knew my home situation she told me that stress and lack of sleep are extremely toxic to your mental health. Turns out she was right!

I mentioned in my last post the very heavy snow fall we've had here the past few days and "how much fun it is" digging out. Well I can see my friend's driveway from my front door and I noticed on Monday that she hadn't dug out. Nothing wrong with that if she wasn't intending to go anywhere. Then on Tuesday the same thing - again, no problem - but I did notice that there was a very large dump of snow directly in front of her car, as though it had melted off the hood and was starting to build up. Then the following day the same thing, so when I got home that evening I sent her a FB message calling her a lazy bugger! No response. I sent her a text message. Again, no response, so I called but ended up getting her voice mail! As it was nearly 11 pm already I sent a message to her sister in Spain and asked her if she had spoken to her lately. About an hour later she replied that she'd spoken to her the day before so she was probably all right. My friend didn't respond until the next morning when she told me she'd turned her phone off so I told her next time to at least check it before she went to bed because she'd almost had a couple of French gendarmes rappelling in through her bedroom window that night!

My brother-in-law was in hospital on Monday for a hip replacement and I could hardly believe it when he was up and walking in the afternoon and home the next day! He's still in quite a bit of pain, which was to be expected, but crikey, isn't it amazing what they can do today!

Then on Thursday there was a general strike in France with about two million people protesting (mainly in Paris) against Macron's reform of the pension system and anti-Macron generally. This strike was planned ages ago but Macron, the Interior Minister, the Minister for the Economy and the Transport Minister went to Spain for the ever-so-important "Friendship Treaty" between the two countries! Given that the biggest sector affected by the strikes was the transport sector, makes you wonder if the choice of the French delegation to Spain wasn't just a little bit suspect! Anyway, some schools were closed and since Charlie's daycare was closed Jen asked me if I'd have him for the day!

It was -9°C (15°F) when I scraped god knows how many inches of ice off my car at 8 a.m. and gingerly drove through the village to get to our local town. Once I hit town though it really wasn't bad going. In town I stopped to let a young lad on a driving lesson pull out. It must have been one of his first lessons because he took the traffic island almost as wide as I was taking bends when I had shrunk five inches last week! But poor bugger, first lesson and you're driving in town in 10 inches of snow! Which reminds me of André's first lesson when the young instructor took him into the mountains in the snow! André was a cocky bugger (aren't they all at that age) and he said it was great, so no harm done!

So I had the babe all day and we had an absolute blast. After his nap "we" decided to play hide-and-seek and then we had to jump out and scare each other. Well of course he always hid in the same place - behind his bedroom door - but he must have been having a "bit of a wind problem" because he kept farting up a storm and saying "oh pardon" ("oh excuse me") every time. Needless to say he found me more often than I found him but at one point we were laughing so hard we were crying! God love him!

On the good news side, I mentioned before that Jordan had been working with a group of Romanian plumbers who went home for three weeks over Christmas. Turns out the company has a contract with a Romanian company to bring these guys over and find and pay for their accommodation to do plumbing work. Well I guess the ski resort where they were working (and staying) needs the accommodation during the ski season, so the Romanians are now staying further down the mountain in a place called Cluses. So Jordan's boss asked him if he would volunteer to be a driver, and when he said yes (it's only five minutes out of his way), the boss rented a 9-seater bus and Jordan is now getting an extra €400 a month for picking them up and getting them up to the ski resort!

I drove home (gingerly) after looking after the babe, but the roads weren't too bad considering it never made it above freezing all day. So feeling proud of myself I parked the car, got out - and went "arse over tit" on the ice! I wasn't hurt (except for my pride, I guess) but even I thought it must have looked pretty funny (if anyone had been around) as I kinda did a "running on the spot" thing before my pratfall!

And finally, around 8 a.m. this morning I heard the most humongous bang and instantly thought my solar panels had come off the roof. When I went outside to check I found half the neighbourhood doing the same thing but nobody knew what it was. I kinda thought it might have been an earth tremor but turns out a tanker carrying propane had caught fire and exploded just 10 km from here! It was lifted into the air and debris crushed a car one kilometre away! Thankfully the driver was able to get out and there was just one person injured (although seriously, I believe). The explosion happened in the village where Jordan and Jen lived before they moved to St. Jeoire, but still only about five km from both their and André's places. Considering this is on a major access road for those travelling into Geneva and it was rush hour, it's a miracle there weren't more injuries - or even deaths!

For the time being the snow has stopped and the sun is shining and everything is absolutely beautiful! So I thought I'd share a couple of photos published on FB by the Département de la Haute Savoie (the State of Haute Savoie) yesterday, although the first two photos are mine (spot the difference between an iPhone and a real photographer!

The view from my place!

The view from Jordan's balcony!

The rest are from the Département de la Haute Savoie!

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Quite the workout!

I was offline again for most of last week because yet again I felt like I needed to break the online habit in order to get more done around here. Trouble with that was I still don't seem to be able to pace myself and suddenly think I'm going to declutter the whole house, get out walking every day, take care of Charlie and a million other things all in one week. Well that didn't quite work out as planned, so I "crashed" for a few days and did pretty much bugger all! Oh I'd been working really well before that and did get a lot done but I really hate that I still don't seem to be able to pace myself better - or maybe it's just that I'm no longer 25 (probably that, right?)!

Oh and before I forget, since I was again offline for a while, Sam I was glad to read that you had a wonderful time with your kids, even if your son's flying "adventures" weren't optimal!

Anyway I took some time out and tried to stay away from the computer for a while, although what with all the gardening videos starting to pop up on Youtube I wasn't always successful. I did get round to reading a book I must have had hanging around for ages, but it seemed quite appropriate (even if it's somewhat dated) to read it in January!

I think I must have gotten rid of about 40 books last week, most of which were beautiful but I finally had to admit that I was never going to get round to reading them. Five of them were on the Normandy landings which I guess my ex bought when we were in Normandy about 20 years ago and as it felt kinda "shameful" not to read them I decided to keep just one and donate the others, my reasoning being I'm not here to curate any more of his stuff! I think it's a bit like not being able to get rid of a bible, with the guilt factor being pretty strong even though I'm not religious!

I watched a few new-to-me Youtube videos today and have discovered a couple of UK news programmes where they talk about current events but can be so funny and irreverant at times! They were talking about various space exploration programmes and one item I hadn't heard of was how the UK Government seemingly "convinced" taxpayers to fund a Virgin mission to Mars (and how ridiculous that is given these very difficult times), but when the one commentator said "I think it made it as far as Brighton" I just cracked up!

The guys came and installed my solar panels last Tuesday so that might have contributed to my fatigue levels, but they were very efficient and in about six hours they were done. All three were Kosovan and told me they travel all over France installing panels. Then the other night I heard a couple of terrific bangs and realized there was a massive thunder storm coming down the valley - and praying the solar guys had done a really good job fixing those things to the roof - seemingly they had. And I was saying to them that it was starting to get serious in the resorts, what with the lack of snow and how I felt sorry for them! Mind you, this cartoon did make me laugh!

And then of course Monday night happened and we got about eight inches of snow dumped on us, followed by about another four inches today, so guess who got to get a real workout and shovel about 10 inches of snow off three driveways!!!! My two sets of immediate neighbours are pretty good about whoever gets out there first just does the three driveways or we do it together - there's not an awful lot to do to be honest - but today that stuff was heavy! My immediate neighbour didn't look very well to me last time I saw him and I was pretty sure the others were away but thought I'd just do the whole lot and get it over with. Mind you, by the time I'd finished even I didn't want to be downwind of myself! And of course it's started snowing again this evening!

After I'd taken a shower and sat down to recuperate a bit I received a rather nice text from my ex telling me that he and his mom loved the photo albums of Charlie I'd made for them and that it was very thoughtful of me! I guess I really wasn't expecting that but maybe it's more than just the snow that's finally starting to thaw!

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

They're just tiles, right? Well no they're not, as it turns out!

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, however you chose to celebrate! For me, I stayed home alone because frankly I don't like new year's celebrations and would rather be off the roads in any case. I did contemplate opening a bottle of wine to celebrate but then thought "nah, why bother", so I got to spend new year's eve reading and enjoying the silence until midnight. Local fireworks were probably more intense than usual but they only lasted a few minutes. I mean, who can afford a 15 minute firework display anyway! The odd thing lately, though, is that I'm finding I could sleep for Britain if it were an Olympic event. I mean, I went to bed around 1.30 a.m. on New Year's Day (which is a pretty usual bedtime for me) and woke up around 11 a.m. - and there was no booze involved! For a couple of days now I've slept till around 10 a.m., which is just unheard of for me! I guess I'm turning into a marmotte (like Charlie) then! Still, with life starting to pick back up again, I suppose it'll soon sort itself out!

Talking of "home alone", the other day I received a bank letter for André as he obviously hasn't gotten round to changing his address for some things. He asked me to open it and turns out it was his new Swiss bank card so I told him I'd drop it off at his place next time I was in the area. Well I stopped off on the way to look after Charlie on Wednesday and let myself in to leave it on the table, rather than in his mail box. He was in Geneva and told me "not to mind the state of his place", but in reality it was fine except he'd had a few mates over the prevous night so I knew what I'd find ready for the recycling bin! With that in mind I'd prepared a little something at home, which I left taped in the kitchen on the way out!

I promise you, this is nothing
compared to what I was expecting
to find!

Talking of André, he was telling me that he has been tasked with setting up a meeting for his unit in Istanbul in February. I'm not sure what all it entails but I told him he'd better get very precise terms of reference and find out exactly what he will be responsible for beforehand, as well as a name of someone he can coordinate with in Istanbul. He is very junior so frankly it doesn't make sense to me to have him responsible for this, but I guess he'll find out more in due course. Heck we had a huge conference task force which was responsible for booking flights/visas, setting up conference facilities, recruiting interpreters and so on, so I'm thinking there's got to be more than just him for this event, even if it is a relatively small meeting. I'd love to go with him "to help out" as I love Istanbul, but then when you go on these things you're there to work, not sightsee!

Jumping from the rooster to the donkey (as they say over here), it's now been a year since I turned my television on and I haven't missed it at all! The computer - now that's another matter altogether and in fact one of my "resolutions" (most likely the only one) is to not get bogged down on the computer as soon as I get up. I get so much more done if I limit my time online in the morning that I really want to pull the plug on that bad habit. In the evening it doesn't really bother me, but to waste so much time in the mornings when there is so much I could be doing is just silly!

That being said, the other day I spotted a Jimmy Kimmel clip on Youtube which I thought was hilarious! I have never liked these one man monologue guest shows and the few that I have watched have confirmed that they just don't appeal to me! But in these clips I see that Jimmy and his cousin Sal are forever pranking his elderly Aunt Chippy (who is now over 80 years old)! And she is a hoot! Oh, she's feisty as hell and has a mouth like a dockworker but the other night I must have sat for over an hour watching the various ways they've pranked her over time. One time they had her house painted lime green while she was out. Another time he brought her a brand new car and had it put in her living room! Then shortly after all covid restrictions were lifted he invited her to watch one of his shows in Las Vegas, but beforehand she "had to have a medical, just in case"! How the actors kept a straight face I don't know but boy was she hot when she realized what was going on! But so far the best I've seen was when he "tricked her" into zip-lining off the 12-storey building where his show was taking place - and she would have been almost 80 at the time! The affection that their family seem to have for each other is just lovely, and Aunt Chippy is a hoot - if you don't mind bad language! And now I want to be Aunt Chippy when I grow up!
Jimmy with Aunt Chippy and Guillermo!

The other day I was giving André a ride home and as we went round the bend to pull into his parking lot he blithely commented that I could "get a Mack truck between me and the kerb", I took it so wide! Well yeah, I know that, but as I explained to him, all of a sudden I felt like I couldn't see the right hand side of my car and didn't want to bounce off the kerb! So when we parked he took one look at my seat and suggested I "move it up out of the reclining position" so that I didn't have to drive lying down! What?? While I know we shrink with age, I thought it weird that I seemed to have shrunk about five inches in six months and to be honest it was starting to bother me. Turns out one of my kids must have driven my car, and while I'd pulled the seat forward again afterwards I hadn't set the back in the upright position so no wonder I couldn't see the bloody right wing of my car! Huh, and here's me thinking I'd started shrinking faster than Aunt Chippy!

Talking of cars, it kinda tickled me (though not really) to read that there was huge disruption in parts of the UK over Christmas with people taking their electric cars to travel long distances to visit family and then getting stuck waiting as much as three hours at charging points to recharge their batteries! I guess that's what you get when they try to push "eco-vehicles" onto the public when the infrastructure isn't ready!

And again in the UK, I saw that the UK border force went on strike for whatever reason - pay I imagine - so the military were called in to take over. Well apparently they did a fantastic job with people singing their praises, particularly at airports, saying how efficient they'd been. I guess the moral there is before you decide to go on strike you'd better make damn sure you're indispensable first!

I think I mentioned in my last post that we'd lost one of Jen's Christmas presents. Well I searched high and low this week and decided to take down my Christmas decorations and pull out drawers and move furniture to try and get this place cleaned up at the same time as looking for the envelope (it turned up). And I've been doing really well, spending maybe an hour or sometimes two every day in a concerted effort to clean and/or declutter - and it's been great. So great in fact that I took a car full of stuff to the charity shop today - and yet there's still loads more that can go when I've got the time to sort it! I'm flitting from one room to the other, as is my want, but it's amazing how much better everywhere already looks just by spending a few hours at a time. I also submitted another medical bill to my insurance company via phone app on Sunday and just 45 minutes later I got a message back to say I'd been reimbursed! Apart from providing excellent coverage, I can't sing the praises of this company enough. Talk about efficient!

Oh and thank you to all the ladies who sent me Christmas cards via Anne's card swap. And Jan (in Santa Ana), yes I've been to the States. I actually lived in the States for four years (D.C. and Pittsburgh) as my ex is American, but when I was offered a job back in Switzerland in 1989 we both jumped at the chance to move back!

Talkng of new year's resolutions, while I think not wasting my mornings on the computer has got to be number one, I have indeed signed back up for the Walk 1,000 Miles Challenge as I'm hoping it will push me to get out walking more than I did last year. That being said, I also logged back into Myfitnesspal - a site I've used in the past for recipes and inspiration. Oh, I doubt very much I will be counting calories as I just don't have that kind of discipline, but when I logged back in the other day for the first time in about a year, I see that I'm actually down nine pounds as compared to this time last year! So I guess the trick is to ignore all dietary advice and just keep doing whatever I feel like!

And finally, wouldn't you know they're coming to install my solar panels on Tuesday - the same day as I've booked my car in for its contrôle technique (the MOT or vehicle safety check). Still, I'm sure they can work without me being home for about an hour. I mean, it's not like I'll be getting up on the roof or anything, is it! Then yesterday I went with Jordan to order all the fittings to redo my two bathrooms. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted anyway, but I really valued the sales lady's help (she obviously knew her stuff) and I'm so glad Jordan was with me to talk the "plumbing" talk! My French is good, obviously, but half this stuff I don't know in English, let alone French. One thing I finally got through my thick skull though is TILES! Tiles are tiles right? Well not in French they're not. Oh I know that roof tiles are tuiles, and floor tiles are carrelage but I could never get through my brain what faïence were. Turns out faïence are wall tiles and on many occasion I've mixed things up a bit so thankfully Jordan was there to explain to the nice (confused) lady that no, I didn't in fact want the pretty mosaic tiles I'd picked out for the roof, they are going on the floor because they are carrelage! I tell ya, I came out of there almost €10,000 lighter and totally exhausted - but not as knackered as that poor sales lady must have been. Still, at least she'll be making good commission!