Archive for March, 2010

Counting down

March 21, 2010

The excitement is mounting as March 30th approaches because that’s the day Jay and I are going to meet one of my ‘new’ sisters at the railway station in Brussels and bring her home to stay with us for over a week.

We have been emailing on an almost daily basis and and speaking to each other for a good hour at a time on the phone. Despite this I’m sure we’ll still have loads to tell each other when we finally meet up in person.

Rosemary has sent me plenty of photos of the family I didn’t know, including several of our dad. It’s a great shame he died before I could see him but as he didn’t want to talk about my mum or me to his daughters perhaps it would have been difficult if I’d turned up in his life again. All the same, it is good to know that he had a very happy family life with his second wife and the girls.

Yesterday I had yet more good news when my other new sister rang to say that she, too, would like to come and meet me. It is very difficult for her to organise time off to coincide with her partner but they hope to have a long weekend in the middle of April when they can drive over and stay a few days.

Now I wonder when it will be possible to meet all my new cousins . . . . . . . . .

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Problems for the Postlady

March 19, 2010

Last week our postlady came to our house looking rather shaken because the man who lives opposite had accosted her verbally for no good reason.

She asked if Jay had heard what he was saying as he had been outside at the time.  He said he had understood the word “menteuse” (liar) but apart from the fact that there were angry words he didn’t know what it was all about. However, he agreed to be a witness if necessary as, it seems, this behaviour has been going on for a while now and the postlady was going to inform her boss.

Today, there was another fracas in the street. Jay called me to come quickly and there was the poor postlady trying to remain calm before our aggressive neighbour who had come up to her van shouting and gesticulating.

Another neighbour remained at his door, watching and listening, and Jay stood by incase intervention was required but I thought poor Chantal had had enough.

“Personne ne vous aime” (nobody likes you) he was shouting so I went up to her, put my arm round her, did the customary kisses and invited her to come and sit down in our house.

She was trembling but used our phone to call her boss and then had a cup of tea. It seems her boss had told her not to deliver registered letters or parcels to that particular house but to leave a notice in his letter box so that he’d have to collect them himself. If he hadn’t been informed of this directive I suppose one can understand his anger at not being given his mail but there was certainly no excuse for his violent behaviour.

About fifteen minutes later another post office van turned up with a police car close behind.

Chantal went out to see them and soon there was a little group of neighbours chatting with the Gendarme and the Post Office official.

We decided to keep out of it as there were plenty of witnesses who understood what was said.

I can’t see an easy solution for the Postlady as the chap opposite is a surly sort of character who is not the type to back down or apologise.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Hospital Appointment for Bear

March 12, 2010

Since Bear had concussion a couple of years ago (falling out of a makeshift bed!)  he has had an annual check up in in the geriatric unit at the hospital.

As you can imagine,  going to ‘geriatrie’  doesn’t please him and doing a series of tests with a young man puts him in a very bad mood. He tends to play the fool and mess about like a naughty child.

This year the ‘test’ appointment was the day after the storm which damaged our roof and to Bear’s relief, I  had to cancel the trip to the hospital so that I would be at home for the roofman.

However, the secretary rang back to say that the doctor would still like to see him as arranged on the 11th March.

We duly turned up at 2 o’clock yesterday and, as usual, the doctor kept us waiting for nearly half an hour  for no apparent reason.

She was a bit stern because she thought  Bear simply didn’t want to do the tests but I explained that the roof repair was important – especially bearing in mind how much it rains here.

She softened but when she asked if Bear would like to do a few tests with her he got stroppy and started saying things like “I don’t want to do those stupid tests. They don’t mean anything.  How can they show me Chinese patterns and expect me to remember them. It’s daft.  Anyway, anyone can set themselves up as a shrink without any qualifications . . . . . . . . ”

The doctor looked at me and expected me to tell her what he was saying.

I paraphrased my translation to mean something more polite but I  think she understood more than she let on.

She told Bear that he had memory problems over and above the expected level for his age and they were only trying to look after him. If he was going to be difficult then she wouldn’t see him any more unless or until he or our GP decided to make an appointment.

I passed on her lecture and his face fell.

“Well tell her I could remember what she looked like and I only came so that I could see her again” he simpered.

Isn’t it strange how some men think they can win you over by this kind of behaviour.

I translated but she wasn’t taken in.

Then Bear tried the tack that I was the one who needed my head read considering the mad ideas I had about greenhouses and chickens.

It was time to drag him away and I got up and put my coat on.

At the door the doctor looked him in the eye and said he should look after me because he was lucky I was taking care of him.

The greenhouse

March 8, 2010

Ever since I had visions of growing vegetables I’ve longed for a greenhouse and this year I found a really good offer – a 10×8 foot ‘serre’  – at half price, end of line.

I ordered it and a couple of weeks later the courrier phoned to arrange delivery for March 4th. We put the package in Claudine’s garage to wait until Guy, another neighbour who had agreed to put it up, could come and unwrap it.

He turned up on Friday afternoon and among the packageing was the book of instructions stating that 2 people could assemble it in 2 or 3 hours.

But when I saw the heap of metal bars and sheets of corrugated plastic, not to mention hundreds of screws, I had my doubts.

And so did Guy.

He set to work with the help of Claudine’s son, Francois but after three hours all they had done was fix together the base and the metal corners  and attach two panels.

Guy was patient and methodical but did use the word “chiant” (shitty) a few times. It seems the main problem was that the screws and their holes would not line up.

They gave up at about 6 o’clock when it began to get dark and came back on Saturday morning.  After seven or eight hours grind most of the panels were in place but there was still a long way to go.

They spent all day Sunday on it – albeit with a prolonged lunch break – but it still isn’t quite finished.

Guy is there now, completing the roof and, hopefully will manage to put the doors in before  night sets in.

There must have been a misprint or mistranslation on the leaflet. Not 2 or 3 ‘heures’ but more like 2 or 3 ‘journees.’