Friday, September 30, 2005

Thank you
Thanks to blog explosion, I won 75 credits this morning. All I did was surf quietly minding my own business and I won fifty. A couple of blogs later I won 25 more. Just in time to have a couple more chances on this month's blog lottery.
Doing my duty
Yesterday evening was a parents meeting. The first meeting of the year runs like this. We sit in a conference room and are told all about the college and how well the pupils did in last years exams (better than national and local averages), how small the classes are (between 24 and 28), etc., etc. Then we are sent off to the classroom allocated to our child’s class. The teachers come round in turn to tell us about what they will be doing in class and how they feel about discipline and odds and ends. Nine families out of twenty four were represented

First came the biology teacher who is also responsible for the class this year. I used to work with her and she is very enthusiastic about her subject. In fact they will be studying ‘man’ this year, we got a taste too, she concluded by telling us that even rats have a place in the order of things. I understand that, but I think some of the parents think she’s got a screw loose. Bless her.

Olivier’s French teacher reminded me of my last English teacher. ‘The worst class I have ever taught’, ‘They can’t spell’, ‘They can’t construct a sentence’, some of them ‘Can’t read out loud’. He thought that on the whole the class was willing to learn (fortunately). As he was leaving he reassured us that all 14 year olds throughout France were just as bad. Olivier quite likes him. He’s very strict and the classes are ‘calm’, they get on with their work without problems. He gave Olivier a ‘mission’ the other day and handed him a paper to deliver, telling him to hurry up or the paper would self destruct within 45 seconds. I wonder what his favourite series was?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A good read!
Yesterday I finished ‘The Sins of the Mothers’ by Frank Delaney. It’s a good thick book, 509 pages, and every page worth it’s weight. The book is set in Ireland in the mid 1920s. I shall read it again.

Because I’m English I didn’t really learn anything about Ireland until I came to France. I suppose these things were censored, though we were always told when the IRA bombed somewhere! I remember when we had the chance to conduct assembly ourselves on Wednesday’s, one of the boys chose the Irish struggles as his theme. I was shocked to learn that the ‘troubles’ had been going on for several hundred years. In England most of the people I knew were Church of England, but they didn’t practice. The church seemed to be a place where weddings, christenings and funerals took place. Under those conditions it was hard to understand why people would feel strongly about their faith.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A little bit of history
After breakfast on the port we decided to go for a walk along the front at Châtelaillon Plage, a seaside town not far from la Rochelle. In the distant past there was a town there until the 12th century, when it was destroyed. Châtellaillon ‘Plage’ (beach) was constructed in the middle of the 19th century when the railway company decided it would make a good stop between La Rochelle and Saintes. The houses are mainly from this period and when we arrived 20 years ago the town was in quite a dilapidated state, many houses in need of repair. When the tide was in, the beach was limited to a small corner and in winter the town was deserted.

About five years or so ago developers constructed new luxury flats on the front, they had to reconstruct the casino as building activities unsettled the foundations. The beach was ‘resanded’ and the old rocks taken away. Old houses were bought up and restored as the town became fashionable once again and the local council improved roads and planted trees and plants in abundance .

It’s only recently that we discovered that Châtelaillon Plage was a purpose built town. Unfortunately, knowing this has ruined our enjoyment. Everything is squeaky clean and just so now, even the beach doesn’t look real. At least the sun was shining and there was a pleasant breeze.

Monday, September 26, 2005

26th September 1955
I googled the date and discovered:
  • The first episode of ‘The adventures of Robin Hood’ with Richard Greene was screened in the US
  • Eddie Fisher married Debbie Reynolds
  • NY Stock Exchange worst price decline since 1929.

Our local paper gives the deaths of Degas, Bartok and Tino Rossi all happening on Sept 26th and George gershwin was born in 1898.

Happy birthday to me.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Wet and quiet
Not a lot going on here this weekend. It’s raining, which is newsworthy after a summer of drought. Yesterday we were coming back from the post office when we saw a bunch of people hanging about on the corner outside our house. They were the people who are interested in buying the house next door and estate agent (sounds like they want to buy the esate agent too, doesn't it?). They were very apologetic as they’d been into our garden to check a wall which screens the terrace. The wall is leaning out a bit and could fall into our garden. We had a nice chat and I was pleased to see they take it as their responsibility. It also means that they can see there is a problem from their side. The house is being let at the moment and I suppose the tenants didn’t worry about such things so much. If those people do buy the house at least we know we’ll have decent neighbours.

We watched a couple more episodes of Columbo. Janet Liegh was in the first, she was really lovely. The second episode starred the manager of the hotel in Pretty Woman, Hector Elizondo, in Arab robes, tres sexy!

Tomorrow is the big five-oh for me. Rob’s got a day off so we might go off somewhere and have lunch out. Hope it stops raining.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Two Interviews
The first was on Friday at an estate agents. I think the interview went well enough, but the job was not for me; firstly you are paid to work 35 hours on minimum wage, but in fact you are expected to work up to thirty more hours a week. You also need to be ‘pushy’ and able to sort out disputes between clients . I don’t really fit that profile.

Job number two was at the airport. Helping English tourists with queries and questions about where to go, how to do this, that, buy a house etc. I really would have loved to have worked there. Unfortunately, the young lady who has set up the agency has only been there a month, business just starting to really pick up in the last week, so it is too early for her to take on anyone at the moment. We had a very pleasant chat anyway and she asked if I would be available to work the odd hour or so if she needed help, I told her yes as I’m free at the moment. So perhaps there is something there in the future.

I also have a project in hand. To take an examination as an assistant librarian for the state. In France if you have had three children, age and qualifications can be overlooked (my qualifications are from the English system). I have to go to the unemployment agency to see if I can get my studies paid for and what they think of my project. With that examination I would be able to work in school and university libraries, if there aren’t anymore government cuts, that is…
Gone With the Wind
I’ve just finished reading a biography of Vivien Leigh by Anne Edwards and yes, I cried at the end. The thing that touched me the most was the battle with her physical and mental health. She sounds as if she was a lovely person when she was well. She certainly had some very devoted friends to look after her when she was ill. Such a sad story.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Less filling:: flat
  2. Glue::UHU
  3. Surprise me:: hiccups
  4. Model:: make
  5. Fee:: price
  6. Microphone:: noise
  7. Choices:: pick and choose
  8. To the bone:: tired
  9. Run!:: help!
  10. Appeal:: request

Thursday, September 15, 2005

This morning
was the appointment for the scan on my thyroid. I’ve seen the doctor that carried out the scan before, he’s youngish and has a good sense of humor, though it’s the first time he’s seen my thyroid. He started off by announcing to me that my thyroid was as good as dead, has been for ten years. No one has put it quite like that before, in fact my dose of hormones is the dose they give to people who have had their thyroids removed. ‘Anyway’, he said cheerfully, ‘it’s a bit like giving insulin to diabetics.’ He is diabetic so we had a good chat about that, the worse thing for him is that he is a rugby fan and it’s hard to do that without beer.

The good news is, no growths, no cancer.

As I was going back out to the waiting room he started chatting to a very elegant lady who I would have thought was between 60 and 70, he whispered on the way out that she is in her eighties. How come some people inherit all the youth genes?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Have you seen a Leprechaun?
Olivier came home at lunch time as it is a half day today. He’s been studying Ireland in English. They have the address of a website in their books where you can access a webcam which has been placed inside a 600year old oak tree, just to watch out for Leprechauns. I’ve had a look, but I didn’t see one. If you’re interested in folklore go and have a look at the site, it’s fascinating!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ten to go!
As I write I see I only have ten more visitors to go before I hit 20,000. I wonder who it will be?
Talking of sixteen
I’ll get out a diary from my youth, I haven’t done that for a while:

12th September 1986
I was pregnant with Christian so I couldn’t donate blood, but I went along with Rob anyway. The girls at the center were all really friendly so it was as much of a social occasion as anything. After blood doning you can have juice, a sandwich (baguette) and a tea or coffee. No doubt I was fed too! We aren’t allowed to give blood anymore as we go to England most years and there is a risk of transmitting BSE (mad cow disease).
During the afternoon I sorted out the baby things, aaaaaah!

1986 was a diary with papers in it. The invitation to the wedding of my friend in California, First communion cards from two girls I used to teach, Paris metro tickets, a love letter from Rob written on our brand new Apple computer(which we later sold because of static electricity) and three little hearts which must have been slipped in by one of the children years later with the message ‘I love you’. I’m glad I looked in that diary today.

12th September 1990
I was pregnant with Olivier by then. Wednesday was no school and apparently Christian was being a naughty boy. I haven’t put anymore details. There is a summary page at the end of the month. I wrote that Christian was driving me mad with knobs and dials on household equipment, he was probably touching everything he shouldn’t. I’ve just noticed that on the 30th September I wrote at the bottom of the page that I definitely felt baby moving! Oh, happy days…..
I’ve got all the time in the world and nothing to write about.
Dom got her military service letter on Saturday, she should be going in January. They’d addressed it to Monsieur, she’s let them know the mistake, she doesn’t want to have a medical examination with a bunch of boys. Fortunately, it’s for just one day and is supposed to be really boring as it’s pitched at the lowest level. I told her to find out if the army would pay for her studies if she joined up. I’m sure the army uses psychologists. I was surprised that she wasn’t put out by that idea. When I was sixteen we were all very anti-military.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Related:: family
  2. Soothing:: calm
  3. Flashback:: lights
  4. Turmoil:: confusion
  5. Immense::big, very big
  6. Guitar:: romantic music
  7. Nonsense::rubbish
  8. Blame:: scape goat
  9. Childlike:: innocent
  10. Duff:: plum
Mrs. Doubtfire
As we found the DVD at a special price, we couldn’t resist. We always enjoy the bonus section. The best bit for me was Robin Williams’ hairy arms. Have you noticed them?
Just to let you know…
Four years on, we haven’t forgotten.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Julie Covington
was the thin English actress whose name I couldn't remember.
Good girl
I don’t wish to be a bore, but you’ll have to excuse me until the novelty wears off. My glucose reading was normal for two days running. It was up a bit this morning, Olivier and I agreed it was not a good idea to have pizza and quiche on the same day. I had leftover quiche for lunch, well it was homemade spinach, with lots of salad and two slices of pineapple afterwards. My average for seven days is just a whisker over normal.
Music to iron to
Cat Stevens helped me with the ironing this afternoon. He’s still in the kitchen singing to himself at the moment, he’s just got to Peace Train. What’s your favourite ironing music?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Julie:: The thin English actress whose name I can't remember
  2. Emotional::moody
  3. Head of household:: Dad
  4. Diva:: Goddess
  5. Devastation:: storms
  6. Business or pleasure:: pleasure
  7. Crown:: queen
  8. Eastern:: western
  9. Buzzed:: phone
  10. Officer:: gentleman
Back to school
Has gone okay. I woke up on the morning thinking it would be nice if Olivier could have Madame X as his year teacher and he did! She’s really nice though a bit dotty sometimes. I don’t think the class was too impressed when she told them she identified with the pine tree outside the classroom; She’s a biology teacher by the way. At least Olivier didn’t get the bad sports teacher, I was so relieved for him, not that he’s bad at sport.

Dom tells me she has the worst English and German teachers in all the lycée, Everyone else is ‘tolerable’ as far as she’s concerned (Oh to be an intellectual).
Presumed Innocent
By Scott Turow. I am enjoying the book very much. I realized about the thirteenth glass before Rusty did. I bet when they find it they don’t match anyway. I think his wife did it. I’m sure my detective skills have been enhanced because I’ve seen about 30 episodes of Columbo in the last three months.

Talking of Columbo I saw a young couple in an old Peugeot like his, only it wasn’t a convertible. The body work was in excellent condition, but the engine sounded a bit noisy.
For your information
The cashier/check out girl at the supermarket highly recommends Sunsilk for blondes. It makes her hair feel lovely and soft. I told her I didn’t know as Dom keeps running off with it.

There was another piece of useful information I was going to tell you but I’ve forgotten it. As we live in France a lot of products have instructions in several languages, which makes for interesting reading when they get it wrong. I bought a new table cloth this morning and had to laugh when I read: “Iron softly on the backside to avoid folds." Do you think it might work for cellulite?

Friday, September 02, 2005

G/l, mmol/l, mg/dl and all that
The glucose meter arrived from England on Monday. Firstly, I read the instructions from beginning to end. I managed to program the time and date but couldn’t get the coding chip in, so I went online and looked for help there. As the meter was from England I couldn’t use the freephone number. On Mondays our Chemist (pharmacy) doesn’t open till the afternoon, I waited and picked up the prescription for more strips and tried the new coding chip. No luck. It just so happened that I noticed a little yellow card in the box of strips and on it was the FRENCH freephone number. I called the number and explained my problem, the lady on the phone asked me to count the little bars inside where you put the chip; there were 5 instead if 6. That’s why it wouldn’t work. I gave her my name and address and she told me she would put a new meter in the post.

The new meter arrived Thursday morning and the coding chip went in no problem. Now I could take some blood, I couldn’t get a reading because I couldn’t get enough blood from my finger. After a few goes I adjusted the softclix (I love that name, anything to make you think it won’t hurt), to my thickness of skin (actually, it doesn’t hurt).

This morning I only needed two goes to get a reading: 117mg/dl. (or 6.5mmol/l or 1.17g/l)

The meter that came from England measured in mmol/l, the meter from France, mg/dl and the lab gives results in g/l and mmol/l; To convert mmol/l of glucose to mg/dl multiply by 18. To convert mg/dl of glucose to mmol/l divide by 18 or multiply by 0.055. Simple?