Archive for December, 2008

Bear. . . . .

December 30, 2008

Yes, Bear was really pleasant for most of this week.

But the strain got to him.

Yesterday he behaved well for Whale’s burthday, and even joined us for a meal – so something had to give.

He blew his top this morning because he said I wasn’t letting him ‘do things’ and then this afternoon I saw him fiddling about with the TV.  It’s true we can’t record any English programmes because as soon as the recorder is switched on it cuts out the satellite receiver. Last time he played with it, he managed to lose reception altogether and it took me ages to get it working again.  I thought he’d given up on the idea of being able to record with his new (cheapo) DVD recorder.

After a while I went through and, as tactfully as I could, reminded him that we had already tried to get it working but to no avail.

“I know what I’m doing” he growled, “leave me alone. Whose is this anyway?”

He threw the ‘zapper’ to the floor and started pouring out all the old invective.

“We’re not a married couple anymore.  You never talk to me. I hate it here. You’re making my life a misery. You don’t understand and you don’t care. All your friends, (that’s if you’ve got any left) agree with me. . . . . .” etc.

“OK, it’s all yours,” I said, and left him to it.

A bit later he ‘apologised’ for his outburst but that led to yet another round of bitter criticism of my selfishness in making his life so unbearable.

He went back for another go at  fiddling with the TV and I heard French programmes blaring out at full volume.

“I bet he’s lost sound on the digibox,” I thought to myself.

Sure enough, when I switched on to watch the News there was only a faint whisper on English telly but the French channels were coming through at full blast.

“You have to turn the volume up full to hear it.” said Bear, stating the obvious.

“Yes, That’s what happened last time you played with it. Now, can you remember which scarts you swapped?”

“I didn’t touch anything. I just looked at it.” Bear lied.

“No, seriously, can you tell me whether you changed anything please?”

“I told you, I didn’t touch anything.” he claimed.

Just in case he was telling the truth I checked that all the scart plugs were well pushed in but it made no diference.

After surveyng the mangle of wires conncting the TV to the digibox and DVD recorder I hazarded a guess and changed the scart on the box to the other socket.

Bingo! There was sound again.

Bear said nothing and I decided not to make any comment either.

UPDATE  31st Decemember

It’s true, I’ll never fathom Bear’s moods. This morning he asked Jay to buy a hot water bottle for Whale as a ‘belated birthday present’. If this sounds strange it’s because  Bear received one for Christmas from one of his daughters and Whale said he wished he had one. It was an unexpected act of kindness but much appreciated.

So that was Christmas

December 29, 2008

It’s true, I couldn’t really get into the excitement and anticipation of Christmas this year and now it’s all done and dusted.
In actual fact, we had a very pleasant time. CC invited a friend to stay but we were still able to enjoy a laid-back, relaxed family time.
Jay and CC did the cooking and planned a rather unconventional meal of:

 smoked trout,

sprout soup,

 trou Normande,

turkey and/or nut roast with carrots, roast potatoes and parsnips,

chocolate buche.

We ate quite late and I needed several doses of Gaviscon afterwards but it was well worth it.

We all had a nice pile of pressies to unwrap and my favourite was a poster of Steinlen cats which CC and Jay had found in Paris and carefully framed themselves. poster2

It looks great above the piano where there was a large space just asking for something interesting to look at.

Bear behaved pretty well throughout the day and even deigned to eat the meal Jay had  prepared. He even said he enjoyed it!!

However, the effort of being so good was bound to lead to an explosion sooner or later. . . . .

Willow’s First Christmas

December 29, 2008

willow-treeIt started with the tree.

As soon as it was put in its container and before we could start to decorate it, young Willow had climbed haflway up it and was hanging on for dear life in the middle of all the prickly branches.

Of course, she thought the whole thing was there for her amusement and delighted in playing with all the hangings. Despite CC’s attempt to keep breakables out of her reach she managed to smash five glass baubles and was always chasing plastic balls or wooden objects all over the floor.

At mealtimes she wanted to join in as well. willowsplace1If anyone left the table she was on their chair in a flash, peeping hopefully over the the plate as if asking for her share. Of course, they were all spoiled with titbits but she is by far the cheekiest of the seven cats.

When the crackers were opened she pinched any of the ‘presents’ left unattended for half a second and patted them round under the table. She was fascinated by paper hats and after the meal she had found one of her own to wear


on her bottom!

Needless to say, she took a huge interest in the presents (which we had kept out of the way until Christmas Day) and played for ages with the wrapping paper and empty boxes. willowpressies

We didn’t buy any presents for the cats this year as last year their reaction to a ‘catplayground and scratching post’ was to wee on it –  and worse!

However. I think Willow had a pretty good time.

The other cats more or less left her to enjoy all the excitement and only showed an interest when there was food involved. No doubt she’ll be the same next year.

Bear blows his top

December 23, 2008

Just when I was thinking how calm Bear has been lately he reverted to his usual form today.

On the way to the doctor’s he started:

“Whale has been staring at me today. I hate him. He’s ruining my life. . And you don’t understand. I hate Christmas. I hate the kids. etc etc.”

When we arrived at the surgery his face was black as thunder, and he sat down in the waiting area, arms folded, exuding unpleasant vibes. The two ladies already there gave me sympathetic looks.

He didn’t even feel inclined to ‘play the clown’  as our doctor puts it and I explained his mood as best I could.

Once home, we found that CC was playing a CD of piano music. Bear immediately turned it off and put the TV on – Jeremy Kyle (bleugh) and then ‘railway journeys’ – boring.

CC and I made mince pies  and Bear fell asleep. We turned off the TV sound and put the CD back on.

On the plus side, may I say that Bear has been arm-twisted into buying me a pressie this year. He always sends cash to his daughters, grand-daughters and ex-wife  so that they can choose their presents. But when it comes to me, he doesn’t usually buy anything or offer me a choice.  But he always appears apologetic when he has unwrapped all his gifts on Christmas day and there’s nothing from him to me.

Last year he ‘got the message’ somehow, that I needed a new pressure cooker but the one he bought was a great disappointment. It was the old-fashioned type – the sort that scare me rigid – and so I’ve never used it, apart from as a large capacity saucepan for soup. (I saw them after Christmas, ‘on offer’  (30 euros) at a  cheap store he likes to look round.) 

Anyway, while shopping with CC and Jay I saw some pretty little ‘verrines’ (small glasses for starters etc.) in town.

When we got home I told him I had found a present he could buy me. He coughed up the 29 euros and Jay bought them when he went to Charleville.

Bear said he would rather book into a hotel than spend Christmas  with us.

If only. . . . .


December 20, 2008

It’s some time since I moaned about either of my ‘patients’ but I’d like to share a few of Whale’s annoying little habits with you.

On the relatively rare occasions when i can sit down for a coffee with a visitor, Whale invariably has to chip in with something that he needs. It might be another bottle of milk or water – but nothing urgent.

For example: yesterday when I was chatting earnestly with my neighbour about her husband’s forthcoming bypass operation there was a quiet “Sandy” from Whale.

I pretended not to hear.

“Sandy” a bit louder this time, but I still didn’t respond.

Finally, an urgent shout, “Sandeeeee”.

OK, perhaps it really was something serious.

“Yes, what is it?”

“Do you know where Jay has gone?”

I replied, testily that I didn’t even know he’d gone out.


A few days ago CC, Jay and I were busy preparing a meal. Whale can see and hear what’s going on because his room opens onto the kitchen.

Suddenly he piped up,

“Do you think you could check my blood pressure?”

Before I could speak, both CC and Jay chorused,

“Not NOW dad!!”


Since the new stove has been in operation the whole of the open plan  groundfloor has been as warm as toast. However, Whale wants to keep his radiator on fairly high.

Today, while we were cooking he suddenly complained that his radiator wasn’t hot.

“But you can’t be cold, dad” said CC. “or you’d put a jumper on.”

“But I’ve just taken it off because I was too hot.” he replied.


You have to laugh, otherwise you’d go completely mad, but that’s what it’s like living in our house. . . . . . . .

Not in the Mood!

December 17, 2008

For the last few weeks I admit to being a bit down but wouldn’t go as far as to say depressed. However, I’m finding it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit.

Several kind readers emailed or left comments to see how I was so I decided to come back and write a post only to find that wordpress has changed and definitely become more complicated to use.
Oh well, I suppose I’ll just have to get used to it. Everyone else seems to have managed.

This year our village council decided not to offer trees to everyone. tree2Instead they have tied some to lamp-posts and decorated them with coloured paper. They look a bit bedraggled and reflect my miserable feelings.

On the other hand, it’s one less bit of decorating to do. CC and Jay bought and trimmed our ‘indoor’ tree but we haven’t done much else – yet.

There have been two Christmas meals for the oldies; one on December 7th, provided by the village and another this Tuesday for the Club des Anciens. This time we had to pay but it was well worth the 18 euros a head.

Champagne and nibbles

Coquilles St Jacques

Trou Normande

Magret de Canard with Dauphinoise potatoes, bundle of green beans wrapped in bacon and stuffed tomato

Cheese kebab and salad

Chocolate or coffee eclair (with more champagne)

Coffee with more cake


The entertainment was a chap who played soprano sax, mouthorgan and saw – but not all at the same time. He was good and we even bought a CD of his music.

The little box you click to add photos seems to have disappeared so. unless I can find out how to do it, this post is plain and unadorned. Sorry folks.

What have they done to wordpress?

December 16, 2008

Don’t know why they have changed worpress but I don’t like it. latest post is on my old blog – can’t even do an insert now!!!