Sunday, September 19, 1999

19/09/99 Rotting grapes ...

Yes folks, it's that time of year again when Frog-people go out by the thousands into vineyards on ridiculous slopes and harvest wasp-infested bunches of grapes which they're planning on turning into wine. For the next few weeks the village is going to be clogged with tractors towing enormous trailers, and the place will smell like a brewery.

By this shall we know that autumn is approaching, if it hasn't already sneaked up on us unawares, and the colour of the leaves shall change, and lo! it shall start to get cold at night. Which pisses me off, as I am still waiting for the quote for the central heating. Never mind. At least today, after an unpromising start, it turned out fine and sunny and even hot, which is good as I'm planning a BBQ for tomorrow lunch, doubtless the last of the year.

At least it was almost a pleasure mowing the lawn this afternoon: not too hot, and with the dry spell we've had the stuff hadn't grown too much anyway.

Tomorrow now ... well, the BBQ got cancelled: it's been grey and overcast all day, and the temperature has plummetted to 25°, not really ideal weather for it. So we've just mucked around all day: I got the house cleaned and even plan on doing some ironing sometime Real Soon Now - like when Jeremy needs some clothes to wear to school.

Went around to see our friends Hervé & Jocelyn (she's the New York lawyer) and Hervé reminded me of something: our good friend DSK (that's Dominique Strauss-Kahn to you, the French finance minister) has just put through a budget lowering TVA/GST on house building and alterations to 5%, from its current 20.6%. Which means that when we get it done, the central heating will be about 15% cheaper! Whoopie! Just have to get it done now (resigned sigh).

As some of you will already have noticed, Margo and Malyon made it safely to NZ and are even now lurking in your midst. As far as I know all is going well. The highlight of their departure (apart from peeling Jeremy off Margo's left leg so that she could make it into the departure lounge) was seeing a typical Swiss farmer on the autoroute as we went to the airport: we passed a beaten up old Renault 4L with the farmer driving in the front seat and a sheep sitting in the back seat. Not something you see every day: Swiss agriculture in action.

Jeremy has been excessively good: almost overnight he's turned into an angel, or something closely approximating one. Before, when it came time to tidy the playroom, Malyon would do the heavy work and Jeremy would pick up one piece of Lego, put it in the box, and cry out that he was tired and his arms were hurting him: now he tidies up without being told and calls me up to let me share the surprise. He goes downstairs in the mornings and gets his own breakfast (OK, I have to get a plate down for him) and when he's finished he puts away the milk and cereal and puts his bowl in the sink all by himself (trap for parents - in the evening the porridge has congealed and I have to get out the electric drill and wire brush to get it off) and then goes off and dresses himself. Then in the evenings he gets into the shower by himself and into pyjamas ready for dinner: I am really impressed. No doubt when Margo gets back it'll go back to what it was before, but for the moment I'm really enjoying it.

He's also taken to his Junior Meccano: we got him a box for his birthday and it's turned out to be extremely popular. He still has to call me in for some of the tricky bits, but he manages about 90% of it himself and is already on model n° 9 out of 13. That and Lego keep him happy.

Oh, just in case it interests anyone, I saw my first ever woodpecker today. Saw this sort of bright flash fly across the paddock and when I got the binoculars out and trained on the fence-post where it had landed spotted a red-headed, green-and-gold feathered beast with a big solid beak. Looks very exotic and colourful when it flies, as the underside of its wings are yellow-gold. What with that and the badgers (geting diarrheoa from eating too many grapes at the moment), the squirrels (little red ones) and godnose what else, there's quite a bit of wild-life infesting the garden at the moment. Without counting the odd visiting fox (one wanders down the path occasionally). The swallows have all left though: in enormous flights, about two or three weeks ago. Off to Morocco for the winter.

That's about it for now: goodbye!

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