Thursday, October 30, 2008

A visitor

I've just seen the Eurasian Jay again. He was sat on the wall when I went into the kitchen, so I sneaked up to the window and stood very still. He hopped down to where I leave out crumbs for the sparrows and had a ltttle explore. His colours in real life are really lovely, much better than all the photos and paintings I've seen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tempus fugit

On Saturday evening the telephone line went off so we lost our internet connection with it. Rob went into town twice on Sunday to put the postcards I had prepared onto ebay and to deal with inquiries etc. from customers. I did feel cut off from the world.

Yesterday morning my annual check up with the Swedish chef*. As I was undressing he popped out to his receptionist and collected his post. A parcel from England! He asked me it I minded him opening his parcel. A book on the anatomy of the brain. He was as pleased as punch and before I left showed me some of the pages he’d been send via the internet; Oh yes, everything is tickety boo – I find it quite amusing that Rob pays for another man to tell me I’ve got impeccable breasts! (for my age)

After that, across to the other side of town to collect Dom from the station. She was waiting for me and half of the very busy, too small car park was closed off for resurfacing. Dom is fine and she was very tired. She’s got a job in the university library when she goes back. 7 hours a week. She’s decided that she is going to open a bookshop. I’ve passed her my notes from the Chamber of Commerce about setting up a business. Working 7 hours a week she is going to take a while to save up enough to start a business, but at least she has ideas. Olivier is panicking a bit, I think, about what to do next. In the immediate future I’m pleased to say that Dom has taken up drawing again. She was always very good and I was disappointed she didn’t pursue it more. I am now minus all of my watercolour equipment and would I look for a tin to keep the tubes of paint in?

Olivier looks less like a Hamster now but is in pain still. He’s eating more solid food and is as hungry as ever – he’s making up for last Wednesday when he didn’t eat anything.

Me? Busy doing the washing, of course.

*Rob had his wisdom teeth out the day before I saw the Swedish Chef for the first time!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hamsters, hedgehogs and yoghut

Still continuing with the mushy food. I visited lots of sites giving advice on what to or not to eat. As usual advice varies from country to country, culture to culture. He still looks like a giant hamster….

Did you know that if you come to my house with a yoghurt you have to store it at a temperature one degree centigrade lower than if you visited Zoe’s house with the same yoghurt?

This evening Rob and I were putting the car away when I heard the sound of rustling leaves. From underneath came out an adorable young hedgehog. He took no notice of us at all and came right up to us looking at us as if to say ‘What are you doing here?’. He snuffled back into the leaves and went on his way again.

Don’t forget to put your clocks back. It’s the last weekend of October already!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A little bit of wisdom - not

I took Olivier into the clinic this morning to have his wisdom teeth out. He makes a bad patient, he was grumpy, tired and hungry. Matters weren’t helped when we all had to wait in a room with vending machines full of chocolate. Not the best place for people who haven’t eaten for 12 hours. About half an hour ago the clinic phoned to tell me that everything had gone okay. We are picking him up this evening at 6.30. He was sure he was going to be one of those people who are awake during their operation, I’ll be interested to see how he got on if that was the case.

He’ll be off school till the weekend when the holidays start

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Computers and Postcards

We had no internet for most of yesterday afternoon. There were so many ‘things to do’. Now I’ve discovered the new widget where blogs that are updated come to the top I’d like to put everyone onto that and show the top five. I’d keep the ordinary blogroll too. On my other blogs I’d do the same with the blogs that were relevant to them.

We’ve been digging through our ‘put to one side’ stock. Rob had the idea of selling lots of 50 postcards. So far we’ve come up with two good lots. We’ve also found some gems which we overlooked in the past because of lack of experience. That gave me something to do away from the computer.

Someone is selling a lot of 100,000 postcards on eBay (yes, one hundred thousand). We’d love to have them, the starting price is only 14,000€. It is, in fact, a bargain at only 14 cents a card. It's fortunate that we can’t afford them as we haven’t got the space to store them. I think we’ve got around 20,000 postcards at the moment, which is just about manageable.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just village life

Our mayor is being taken to court by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Before he retired he was the inspector of inspectors in the Ministry of Education and his mission was to research the various sects in France. He wrote something in his report that the witnesses did not like, something to do with education. He’s a good man and has done a lot for our village, particularly the schools which were neglected under the previous mayor. BTW: Our schools are named The Rose (maternelle or nursery) and The Fox (primary) after ‘The Little Prince’ because Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s great uncle was Mayor of L’Houmeau (Now I'll have to go and find out the years).

There are even more road works. We seem to have had roads closed all over the village since the turn of the century (I’ve always wanted to use the phrase ‘the turn of the century’). The cars are being diverted through our quiet little road. We live on the corner and it’s quite noisy at times as drivers are in a hurry. I’m waiting for someone to miss the corner.

There is a plant in our post office. It’s grown very big over the years and occasionally has rose like flowers though I think it’s more of a Begonia* type bush thingy. The post office lady, who has been there longer than us (more than 22 years), can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there. This morning she was sweeping up leaves. The poor plant looks really sad and is losing its foliage. She’s tried feeding it but it seems not to even want watering at the moment. This year it had more flowers than usual, I suggested that perhaps it was tired.

*Begonias are named after Michel Bégon who was steward of La Rochelle 1694-1710.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The weekend draws to a close

Some times the world seems turned upside down. I had an email from Dom. Last weekend she went to Paris to stay with a friend. The visited the Louvre. They get special treatment because they have a friend who is studying there. Can you imagine studying at the Louvre???? Dom’s great discovery was that you can have pancakes there. (This is my arty, historical, intellectual daughter speaking.)

Olivier arrived home two hours earlier than expected and there was only fish in mustard sauce and broccoli and cauliflower to eat – dreadful! Anyway I quickly made him some pasta so he didn’t die from vegetable contamination. I think he was a little disappointed with his weekend. It was quiet. The students all seem to have gone home for the weekend. He says would have liked a tour of Nantes and he only saw the river Loire from the train. They ordered a salmon pizza last night and it was awful. He told me he was glad to be home. (Isn’t that nice to know).

While Rob and I were out for a walk this afternoon we met a couple we knew years ago. Rob taught all three of their sons English. There were all lovely boys. They are all grown up now and one even lives in Canada, installs computers and stuff into control towers, all in English thanks to Rob’s influence. It was lovely to catch up. We like to know how the youngsters we saw in the past have got on in life.

A good weekend

This has been a strange weekend altogether. Olivier went off to Nantes on Friday evening for the weekend to visit a friend who is at university there. I made spinach tart for lunch yesterday and chicken and bean casserole in the evening and there was no one to complain! I lay awake for a while during the night wondering if he’d been beaten up and thrown into or perhaps fallen into the River Loire in a drunken state.

The weather has been magnificent, 25°C yesterday and no wind. This afternoon I went out and cleaned out the gutters which was easy as the leaves were dry and just needed brushing out. I don’t mind going up a ladder but I don’t like coming down. Managed to get my foot tangled up in some rosemary on the way down once, but I only panicked a little bit.

I think I’ve seen more butterflies this weekend than I have all summer. Yesterday two gendarmes were mating on the kitchen windowsill. They are very quick and both run off in opposite directions afterwards. Once out in the garden I did a little tidying up cutting and pruning, I’d forgotten to look out for these (don’t look if you don’t like spiders). They weave magnificent webs and have very plump bodies. Fortunately, I didn’t find one in my hair.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eyebrows and charcoal sticks

About 4 months ago In May I wrote that my eyebrows were dropping out. I looked as if I’d had an argument with the tweezers. On my next visit to the doctors I asked to have my thyroid medication increased. My eyebrows still aren’t what they used to be but the hairs are growing longer and stronger. I feel better too.

The man across the road set fire to a tree in his garden a year ago and since then we have had a giant stick of charcoal to look at from the kitchen window. He finally cut it down yesterday.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blogrolling anyone?

My Blogroll seems to have disappeared. When I went to look so has the Blogrolling site. Does anyone know what's going on? I'm sat here all alone without my friends...


Last year at this time I was writing about the benefits of spreading dung on your field. This year I’ve come up with something a little more romantic. When Christian was 6 he had a poem to learn about autumn. It caught my imagination and I’ve often wondered what it was and who wrote it. This morning I Googled it. It was by a Belgian poet called Maurice Careme (1899-1978). He had been a teacher for some of his life and wrote many of his poems for children. In France you will find 5 schools named after him. Don’t worry – the poem is short and I’ve dared to translated it.

Autumn in the corner of the woods,
Plays harmonica.
What fun for the leaves!
They waltz in the arms
Of the wind that carries them.
They say they are dead
But no one believes it.
Autumn in the corner of the woods,
Plays harmonica.

Maurice Careme

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


You must go and read Worldman's farewell to Darfur post. He has been working there for the past four years looking after the refugees.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Good News

I haven’t heard from my friend Willow in Norway for so long. Today I saw that her blog had been updated at long last with some very good news!

Willow, I hope that you and Tito will be very happy together.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

You might not believe this

This afternoon I received a chain email from an old friend, Malcolm. It was a prayer from Saint Theresa whose fête was yesterday. It told me that if I forwarded the letter to 11 people something nice would happen; so I sent it off to 11 people and one back to Malcolm, except that the e mail was empty. (I’m really sorry about that) Cassie very kindly let me know so I sent it out again.

When Rob got home he opened two letters from the tax office. When he read the first one he couldn’t decide whether we owed them some money or they owed us. He opened up the second letter and there was a cheque worth having. Really.

Here is the prayer:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
Dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

In which I don't do the homework

My big burly 17 year old son asked me last night if I’d colour his homework map in for him. He’s learning about the major canals and waterways of the world at the moment. The map had to be coloured mainly orange for some reason. I told him that I’ve coloured maps and filled in enough density of populations dots for one life time thank you.

In France they have to ‘do’ philosophy in their last year. Most pupils hate it because they just don’t get it. Olivier is one of them. Dom has taken it as an extra two years running at university she loves it so much. Any way I thought of telling Olivier he will just have to be philosophical about it, but I don’t think he’ll appreciate the joke…

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why didn't I find this last week?

You must try this. It tells you everything you need to know about your birthdate.