Saturday, January 31, 2009

31/01/09 The mice are committing suicide - we're NOT doomed!

Strange as is may seem, this is true. Third time in a couple of weeks that I've had to fish one of the little buggers out of the dog's water bowl, drowned or frozen as it tried to do a couple of lengths breaststroke. Not house mice either - fieldmice: I can only assume that water's getting a bit scarce, what with the ground being frozen solid (think Arctic permafrost) and of course it's bloody chilly out, and so they come up to get a drink (or a bit of exercise), fall in and drown. Either that or the cat catches them and sticks them in so that she'll have mousie popsicles for later; if that's the case she's doubtless a bit pissed off at me for religiously chucking the things. I'm not sure that the dog actually notices they're there, and I'd rather she didn't sneeze one out of her nose when she's curled up on her cushion.

Today, incidentally, is the 10th, which means I had to deliver Malyon to Geneva airport at midday to catch her flight back to Glasgow. Apart from the vast number of Germanic-style persons heading back home via Switzerland after a week or so on the slopes it all went swimmingly, and the new bit of autoroute from Annecy to Geneva really does cut 20 minutes off the trip time. Much appreciated. Unfortunately, the disruption to my usual schedule meant that by the time I got back to Chambéry and had the usual apéro with Sophie, I had to do the shopping at Carrefour around 15:00. During the ski season. I can now remember just why it is I haven't set foot in a supermarket on an Saturday afternoon for the last fifteen years or so. Luckily I was unarmed, so you're not going to be reading any headlines along the lines of "Deranged Kiwi in Shock-Horror Fruit&Vege Supermarket Massacre" - at least, not because of me.

We're currently enjoying - if that's the word, and in fact it isn't - temperatures that get up to about -5° at the hottest time of day. And just at this moment, we have thick freezing fog as well. This is not good. Even Malyon in Glasgow gets up to 7°, and she's about 1000km north of us, for heaven's sake! What have we done wrong? Perhaps I should go burn some more virgin forest. At least we're better off than the Marseillais, who got 40cm of snow on Wednesday. And I'm not sure that there's a single snow-plough in the entire Bouches-du-Rhone département, so they're apparently having rather a hard time of it. Schools closed an' all, which just doesn't happen around here. Unless there's a major disaster, like the failure of the entire tartiflette crop.

I'm going to assume that your New Year passed without too much incident: ours certainly did. Couldn't be arsed doing anything major so we just had a few friends around, drank unreasonably and then I, for one, headed off to bed around 1am, having come down with a good head cold. Staggered down the next morning, ready to kill anyone who looked at me the wrong way, to find that everyone had slept over, which in hindsight was probably rather reasonable - given that the only ones that would have been classed sober enough to drive don't actually have legs long enough to reach the pedals. Probably a good thing Malyon was in Grenoble with friends: she'd have been disgusted with what her parents get up to. (Funnily enough, it's alright for Karen - she's only 40, and she's not a parent. I suppose that explains it. But I don't want to have to be good. Children are so unforgiving.)

A couple of days later Ricky & Alison Hart, with bratlings in tow, turned up for the weekend which gave us another excuse to eat and drink perhaps more than we should. Not that we really need one. Still, nice to be able to do it in company. Margo took some off skiing at Margeriaz, I took the remainder walking in the mountains. Lovely weather - for once - we really enjoyed it. Although I did feel a bit ashamed looking at the number of wine bottles ready for the recycling bin when they left - emptied them out at night so that no-one could see.

Sordid details ... woke up a week back with a large painful lump under the left armpit. Thinking to myself "Oh dear! This is not good" I rushed off to the quack, who sent me off to have about 5 litres of blood drained from my long-suffering left arm for every test under the sun, and who has now told me it's just cat scratch fever. (No, I am not joking, that's the literal translation. For what it's worth, the latin name is Bartonella Henselae.) So after 6 days of 2000mg of antibiotics per day (which achieved sod-all apart from killing off everything living in my intestinal tract, with results I'm sure you can imagine) I'll have to go through another week or so of other antibiotics, as the bacteria responsible apparently sneers at penicillin and waves its rude bottom parts at other varieties. And if that doesn't work they can always slice me up and cut the sucker out, the alternative being to live with it until it buggers off of its own accord in six months or so. Personally, I think I'd rather go with the alternative, but that may be unadvisable. Apparently.

Malyon has started getting the results from her mid-year exams: so far, so good. Biology and chemistry both As, still waiting on the psychology. She's also trying to get out of the halls of residence: it is quite expensive, one of her good friends there is also wanting to get out, and she's had enough of the yoof. So she's hoping to find a flat to share - perhaps not as convenient (at least, she'll have to pay for her own ADSL connection), but should be cheaper and at least she knows how flats work.

Jeremy just sat his "brevet blanc", the trial run for the real brevet exam at the end of the school year. French and History/Geography he found not too bad - easier, he reckons, than the tests they get in class - but maths was a killer. Whatever, we'll have to see. In any case, he still really wants to go off and get a technical qualification (preferably cooking) so that he can go into the restaurant/hospitality trade. Which might not be such a bad idea: he really is a people person, if I may be forgiven the revolting phrase, and restaurant manager would be better than gigolo, which would be another option. And he genuinely enjoys cooking (not, perhaps, too surprising, all things considered) and is not, in fact, too bad at it. He managed a reasonable forêt noir the other day. Whatever, there's a supposedly excellent cooking school at Thonon in Haute Savoie (and it's a state one, yay! no fees), so I'll look into what's required for applications for that. Might also send him up to Geneva for a few days: Jacques' middle son Vincent runs a wine bar/bistro there and should be OK to take Jeremy under his wing for a few days: see what life's like in a rather more up-market joint, go to the market every morning for the shopping ...

The weather is finally getting better: to say "warmer" would be a slight exaggeration, but sunnier - even up around 9° in the afternoon. And no wind - not since last week's horrendous storms down in the south-west. The primevere are starting to come out, only another couple of months and it'll be spring. Yay!

And finally, on a cheerful note, I have to see if I can't get an appointment with the surgeon sometime next week. Bugger.