Sunday, October 31, 2010

On the road again

I've changed lives again going from Argelès to Geneva once more. And immediately we set off for the mountains via a lunch time stop in Montreux (sans Jazz festival) for a lunch of spaghetti with black truffles. Granted we did not know that would be the menu. A walk along the lake with its gardens, wind chimes, statues, mountain view. Life does not get much better.

the trees were hung with wind chimes that played melodies in the wind.

The poor woman must have a tremendous back ache by now.

Broom decorations for Halloween.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Strikes again

France's retirement age was last set in 1983. Since then, GDP per person has increased by 45%. The increase in life expectancy is very small by comparison. The number of workers per retiree declined from 4.4 in 1983 to 3.5 in 2010, but the growth of national income was vastly more than enough to compensate for the demographic changes, including the change in life expectancy.

Once again I am in France and don't know about getting back to Geneva. There is a plan B. If I can make the border, I can train to Barcelona and make it to the airport and fly back, an expensive alternative that I didn't have last time. We expect no more volcanoes to stop flights. Meanwhile I have met only one person here who is not on the side of the strikers.

I keep hearing we can't afford it from governments. I like the ideas expressed in a Guardian editorial today written by Weisbrot.

"The situation is similar going forward: the growth in national income over the next 30 or 40 years will be much more than sufficient to pay for the increases in pension costs due to demographic changes, while still allowing future generations to enjoy considerably higher living standards than people today. It is simply a social choice as to how many years people want to live in retirement and how they want to pay for it.

"If the French want to keep the retirement age as is, there are plenty of ways to finance future pension costs without necessarily raising the retirement age. One of them, which has support among the French left (and which Sarkozy claims to support at the international level), would be a tax on financial transactions. Such a "speculation tax" could raise billions of dollars of revenue – as it currently does in the UK – while simultaneously discouraging speculative trading in financial assets and derivatives. The French unions and protesters are demanding that the government considers some of these more progressive alternatives."

Reitrement is not mandatory at 60. Full pensions do not kick in until 65.

Will Sarkozy give in. I doubt it.

He suffers from PMS (Petit Man Syndrome)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Killing time in Collioure

I had two hours to kill before the Argelès Gospel Singers' concert in Notre Dame des Anges church in Collioure. It struck me as a wonderful time to wander with my camera. This town, the anchovy capital of France with its ancient streets, château and church, its pebbly beach is so much nicer off season when there are only a few weekenders out to enjoy the last of the warm days.

The bright day despite the Tramantane that made me think if I flapped my arms, I could be blown half way home to Geneva with no worries about train strikes produced sunlight and made for wonderful colours and shadows even on the side streets.

Almost all the hotels are closed. Some restaurants are opened and stay open all year long. And there's more to buy than just pizza. One of the restaurants, Les Templiers, has walls covered with painting from the Impressionists including some famous ones, who at the time were too poor to pay for their meal and offered a painting in place of coins.

Few galleries are still open such as Joce's. She has transferred one of her paintings to an umbrella that was absolutely drop dead beautiful, but 120 Euros was much too much to pay when I know it might end up on the E bus in Geneva, a train, a store or restaurant. This is not one of her works, however.

I had stopped at the cookie shop, which will remain open on weekends until Toussaint, and then I found a spot on the bench to sit in the sunshine and read and/or people watch where the wind couldn't touch me.However, dried leaves, clattered along the cobbled dock.

As I walked through the town I had seen a bridal party walking to the church after their city hall wedding (the only one that is legal). As I sat in the sun, the couple and the photographer arrived to take a picture with the château which has existed in some form since Roman days.

About a half hour later it was time to go to the church for the concert.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Forming a syndicate

Today I met with my co-owners to form a syndicate. One women slightly younger than myself who will live in the building, a young man who will live there, a man from Nice who will it use for holidays and when he has business in Perpignan and the man who owns the garage (probably the most valuable property considering the narrow streets and the necessity to park by the river or at one of the few communal lots.

No problems at all to come to the conclusions that will benefit all.

Than the man who renovated the once huge mansion, who was in charge of getting the syndicate up and running prior to resigning as his last step in the project, brought out the champagne, the cheeses and the local chacuterie.

I like this touch. Along with the nice fluted glasses, it was a class act all the way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

He's not staying

But he was meow-ling pitifully a good part of the morning. The wind is blowing and the rain comes and goes.

I brought him in, borrowed kitty litter and cat food from my friend who has called the Cat Assistance people.

Meanwhile he is at least warm tonight and fed. Now he is asleep on my printer after being told my computer keyboard was out of bounds.

He is not staying. I won't name him. He is not staying because I don't stay here myself.
He's not staying...

Anyone want a kitten?

Seasonal fruit

I love eating things that belong to the season. And this is the first kaki fruit of the year. No matter that it makes me break out. Each bite is worth every bump.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

a comment on the times

When I was a child Three Musketeer bars were sold with an add that you could share with two of your friends. I just saw an ad for the candy on the web and a friend reaches to take one from a friend who says, "Don't even think about it."

I was sickened by the people who said the TN fire department was right not to put out the fire on a man's house because he hadn't paid his $75 fee. Probably they wouldn't share their candy bar either.

What have we become?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

It was a surprise

to be sitting in the notaire's office signing a purchase agreement on my new studio flat.

Six weeks ago I had gone for a walk before the heat of the day made it unbearable and happened by the real estate office near the gare. A picture of a studio within my price range (read very, very, small) was in the window.

Hmmm I thought and wandered on, but after lunch I went back. Jean-Charles, the agent showed it to me. The building had been renovated top to bottom with only the best materials. The studio itself, although tiny, was also renovated with only the best materials. I could have started cooking in the kitchen immediately.

I do know the prices in Argelès having helped anglophones look for places. No, I decided, I won't buy it.

The next morning I went back and made an offer, and in the afternoon, the seller and I signed the purchase and sales agreement. Back in Geneva, I transferred the money (raising questions from the Crèdit Agricole was I laundering money, a terrorist or a Mafiosa--the answer was no).

Thus today, I found myself seated with Jean-Charles and another young man in the notaire's office signing my name or initials on page after page after page until my hand hurt, but not too much to accept the three set of keys for the outside door, the inside door and the letter box.

Tomorrow I will sign the contract with Jean-Charles to manage the rental and care of the flat.

When I used to play Monopoly -- which I never really liked because even then money bored me -- I always tried to get the two cheapy properties as a solid base. I guess I am still doing that.

A friend commented when I told her what I'd done, "I know you hate shopping, but when you shop, you really shop!"

I am still surprised that I did this...surprised but content.

This is the living area.

I can't get a good shot of the kitchen but it is beautiful. take my word for it, the cabinets are a beautiful ruby red.

The flat is in the bottom corner and the house is kitty corner to the one owned by friends Pat, Jeff, Tony and Carol.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Squash festival

The Corsier Port fête de la courge (squash or pumpkin festival) features cotton candy (barbe de papa r papa's beard in French), merry-go-rounds, food stands, crafts, veggies and music. Kids run around in the fresh, clear autumn air, teenagers scope out their friends and dogs hope for a dropped sausage or two. I lvoe it I lvoe it I love it.

And there were a bagfuls of fresh fall vegetables made up of leeks, potatoes, squash, etc. for sale in pretty reusable bags for 28.50 CHF. If I weren't going to Argelès tomorrow and if the frigo wasn't already stuffed with food it would have been too tempting to resist.

A jazz band kept our toes tapping.

And there were stands with crafts to buy.

It was hard to chose from all the food stands, but we selected raclette on potatoes with thyroid conditions they were so big and the traditional dried meat, onions and cornichons and the not-so-Swiss Coke Zero.

Whoever was responsible for circulating with one of the trash bins took a break. The bin was near the restrooms, so it is easy to conjecture where he might have gone.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The new kitchen

For those that knew the old kitchen, this is very different. Ideally we will be able to keep it almost pristine as we build new memories of brownies, meals, brownies, conversations, brownies, reading at breakfast, brownies...

Our clear table.

A view of a nicely clear counter top. We hope to keep it stuff free.

The next to last rose from the garden is on the new counter by the sink. I had to figure out how to turn the faucet on.

Long Island Memories

When we lived in Germany the Armed Forces Radio Station told stories of people came through Grand Central Station. Here I am in the middle of the station but I doubt if I will be the subject for a radio show.

We took a boat tour of the wetlands

A general store still in operation fromthe 1800s

A good luck praying mantis was a great sign for my friend's new business. He jumped from her car and then ran to her. He did not stop for a reiki treatment

NE Memories

This is the first house I ever owned only when I lived there was only one storey.

This is soooooooooo New England that my host braked do I could take it.

He doesn't think he can jump over this gate nor does his brother who is at least five times bigger.