Rescue Mission!!

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague posted an urgent message on our Language school WhatsApp group, asking if anyone knew of anyone who wanted to adopt a kitten – due to be drowned by its heartless owner that day.

Mobilisation: Operation Kitten Rescue .

Immediately a flurry of messages – Simona had a friend who wanted a kitten. She’d contact her immediately. I put a message on our Church WhatsApp group – someone thought their friend might be interested. Others sympathised and said how terrible that the kitten might be killed. I then posted on FaceBook too.

A friend in Roanne (which is where the kitten was living what could have been its last day) messaged me – did I have photos? So I went back to WhatsApp to ask if there were any… The only one available was a rather unclear one of the little black mite, with his already adopted (by my colleague’s sister-in-law) sister.

Meanwhile my phone was pinging with messages from Simona, saying that her friend had already adopted one, from my colleague keeping us updated on other lines of enquiry, from Church people saying it was terrible… Then my friend asked if she could contact the person with the kitten. We didn’t have the number, but here was the number of the sister in law.

The next thing I knew I had a FaceBook message

  • ça y est;
  • on garde
  • on adopte
  • merci
  • thank you very much

YAY! The kitten is saved!!

Beyhan, my friend, keeps an “English Bakery” called Shakespeare’s in the centre of Roanne. A few days later she posted this photo,

with the comment :

Notre futur bébé d’amour Othello avec sa maman et sa petite sœur 😻😻😻 Hâte de lui visiter la semaine prochaine ❤❤❤ (Our future love baby Othello with his mom and little sister. Can’t wait to visit him next week)

I love the name Othello for this little all black sweetheart!

Iremembered that I wanted to write a post about this when I was outside the vets today. We were waiting in a queue to go in: one rather hefty, macho man waiting for his wife who was inside with a Polish sheepdog (like Sophie )and there was another big bloke there with his 20 year old cat, and me. The two mean were talking about how they knew someone who had drowned the 4 puppies of his female dog, in front of her eyes. I felt quite disgusted, but rather assumed that these guys would have taken it as normal – which, unfortunately, is often the case here in France – but no. One of them said something along the lines of “That makes me sick”, and the other said “When people do that it makes me want to – (rude gesture) them! You don’t have pets to do that to them!”

These two tough guys were as loving to their animals as I am. I felt suitably chastened about my preconceptions – but still terribly sad for the mother dog.

   ***However we can be happy that the little black kitten, Othello, has been saved, and will be going to a loving home in July, when he is big ebough to leave his mama.

 

Post Isolation Fantasies…

This is from Kezzie’s choices over here, but I’m afraid these are not terribly interesting!! I think it’s indicative of how unexciting my life is normally, that I haven’t been fantasising about getting back to “normal life” through the Confinement!!

But here you are:

1. Restaurant you would go out to: Probably the Hotel de la Poste round the corner. We have a voucher, which Friends Alison & Gerome gave us for our birthdays. It was supposed to be used within 6 months, but that came and went during March, when we were confined.

We have been doing quite well for food though, as the restaurant next door is doing takeaways to keep afloat. I had a delicious pizza yesterday.

2. Friend you would meet up with first: Probably Friend Alison, for a real apero, not a virtual one. We have been chatting from time to time, keeping 2m away from each other if I pass by her house and she’s outside. Also Louis and Odette, who are good friends too.

3. Place you would go:Back to work?! I’m not sure where I’ve missed…I suppose it’s the freedom to go anywhere that I’ve missed, rather than somewhere in particular. So possibly just for a walk that’s more than 1 km from the house!

4. Shop you would go to: Noz!! And Lidl…Our shopping has been expensive because we’re using the little Carrefour Extra in the village, which isn’t as cheap as Lidl, or the bigger supermarkets.

5. Food item you would buy/eat: We haven’t really missed anything too much. It’s been harder getting fresh fruit and vegetables, including my favourite Pink Lady apples, so that would be nice. We have missed a few ingredients that the little supermarket doesn’t stock, but nothing springs to mind!

6. Cake you would eat: Again, not missing cake, as we can buy stuff quite easily. And the restaurant next door does the odd “Dessert du Jour” which is very nice! Lemon tart yesterday!

7. Show you would go to see/Concert you will go watch: We hadn’t planned any concerts/ shows – there’s not many that come to our corner of France that we want to see. I think Mr FD is planning a Big Big Train concert, but I’m not sure where that is.

8. Relative you will hug first: Apart from Mr FD (and we’ve shared a good amount of hugs during confinement) it will be whichever of my relatives I see first!

9. Holiday you would go on: Possibly the one that we should have been going on at the end of May! We’ve deferred it till September, and we were supposed to be going with my MiL, my mum and my brother. We don’t know what restrictions will be still in place in September for elderly people in the UK, so we’re waiting-and-seeing. It was to a lovely looking place in the Cantal area.

10. Other activity? Going to Church. It will be lovely to see people face to face again! I actually think that being apart has brought us closer together as a congregation. It’s been lovely that people who have left and live elsewhere have been able to join us – that’s been an unexpected bonus of this lockdown – but I look forward enormously to taking communion again. And we will be much closer to finding out about a new Priest in Charge…the closing date for applications is coming up at the end of May, I think.

11. Thing you would do at work: While I have been enormously grateful for the fact I’ve been able to work from home, by phone or by computer, it’s not been the same! Face to face teaching is easier, and more rewarding. But, much as I’m looking forward to going back to work, I won’t be first out of the door on 11th May…I definitely want to wait at least another 2 weeks, in order to (hopefully) avoid a second wave of the virus.

12. Item you would buy: There’s nothing I really want now – before yesterday it would have been plants for the balcony, but the little local garden centre is now opening just in the morning, so I was able to buy a rather random selection of plants. The balcony is looking less bare now! So just the chance to have a browse around the shops…for nothing in particular!

 

Do let me & Kezzie know if you take part!

Poems IV

Here’s the other of the two that I have received so far: I don’t know if I’ll get any more. If I do, I’ll share them with you.

When I received this, I groaned inwardly, and thought “Couldn’t she have been more original…?” but actually, I don’t think I have ever read the poem all the way through, and when I did, I found myself taking back my thoughts, as it is extremely apt for these strange times when we are confined to our homes, and unable to travel more than 1 km away from our front door without very good reason. (I drove 16 km from my front door to get some pills for Pomme, as she’d run out. Even though I knew it was perfectly OK and I would see only the vet, I felt very guilty!!)

So, taking back all my critical thoughts, here it is:

DAFFODILS

by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

Various bits of art…

The verse from Proverbs that kicked off 40 Acts:

On Sunday I enjoyed playing with tissue paper and glue, creating this piece. I was planning to calligraph the words, but felt that this was a more harmonious way of adding them to the piece. I’m quite pleased with it.

This is a card I made for someone in Mr FD’s office. It was her birthday and Mr FD wanted to arrange something special for her. The “C” is because her name starts with a C, not for any random reason to do with crocodiles. I was a bit annoyed to find that my expensive white calligraphy felt pen had been left open, and so had dried up. The “Joyeux Anniversaire” is on a little blackboard, but unfortunately the writing was horrid, due to the aforementioned dried up state of the pen. So I had to do something different…

This is a piece I drew for friends from church who are going back to the States. Tom & Sheryl have been utter stalwarts and have really demonstrated Christianity in action. They will be surely missed. I wanted to give them something that was “of” Clermont Ferrand, and there is nothing more iconic of the area than Puy de Dome, the mountain that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

So that’s what I drew.

40 ACTS :: 5&6

Hey ho! I seem to be writing about the Acts in pairs…and I’m not doing very well with them either. I like the prompts I’m being given, but this year I’m not feeling the same excitement about fulfilling the challenges. Perhaps it’s because they seem very familiar after a few years of following 40 Acts, and so there’s not the same anticipation.

But then, sometimes this Christian life is just a bit of a slog: it’s pulling up your Big Girls’ Knickers and getting on with it. Not every day is going to be shiny and happy and full of the Joys of Spring. It’s just Doing It.

ACT 5: Shop Double

Instead of trolley dashing through the aisles to get your supermarket shop done as quickly as possible, consider shopping for someone else too. Offering to get supplies for a friend whose car is off the road, or for someone you know who is unwell or elderly, could be an absolute life-line. As the slogan says, every little helps.

Green: Pop a few extra items into your trolley for others or to add to the charity box on your way out.

Amber: Phone or call in on an elderly or unwell friend, neighbour or family member and ask if you can do their shopping along with yours.

Red: Bless someone by not only collecting their shopping for them but paying for it as well.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10 NIV)

It is the annual Restos du Coeur collection this coming Friday – collecting at the big supermarkets for the local food banks. I’m afraid I have ducked out of helping with the collection, as the Church slot is early evening, and I used the excuse of living an hours drive away. Yes, I know it was an excuse, and yes, I know I should have volunteered…But I didn’t.

But I am going to call in at the supermarket on my way home and buy some items to go to the collection point. So yesterday’s Green task is being postponed until Friday…

Act 6: Best Day…

Lewis Carroll first coined the phrase ‘unbirthday’. Why wait until it’s someone’s official special day? Make plans to spoil someone, either spontaneously today or in the near future. Surprise them if you know that’s what they like, or pre-warn them if that would make it easier for them to accept your invitation.

Green: Send someone a message to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Amber: Offer to babysit for a couple who don’t manage to get out much. Tell them to be as late back as they like!

Red: Casually ask the person you have in mind what their idea of a special day would be, then do your best to create it for them – even if it’s not your thing.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matthew 22: 37–39 NIV)

Spoiling someone starts to sound expensive – and that worries me, as I am still trying to do these Acts on a budget (which sounds stupid after we’ve just bought a new car…but that was necessity rather than choice – and is, in fact, why I’m trying to do these Acts on a budget!!)

But the Green act isn’t expensive, in terms of money, at least. I haven’t seen our friend Monique for quite a while – she lost her husband just over a year ago, and found it a real struggle. We supported her through the first months, but then rather tailed off, I’m ashamed to admit.

I recently made some cards, so I shall write one to her, and drop it off as I leave for work, reminding her that we are thinking of her. I’ll also try to get across to see her at the weekend.

Work Experience

Every year, the young people who are in troisième – the last year before they go to Lycée – have to do a stage, which is basically a week of work experience, in a shop, a business, an office, or wherever they can find. Most schools have them doing this round about the same time, so you can imagine that it’s sometimes quite hard to find somebody who is willing to take on a stagiaire, who hasn’t been already metaphorically reserved by someone else!

A few year’s ago, my friend’s son, Flynn, (bi-lingual) was able to go to the UK (his parents paid for flights, obviously!) to spend a week with his uncle, who is a plumber. He then did his oral report (which counts as part of the Brevet – GCSE equivalent) in French & English. He got 100% in his grade. The hope was that his sister, India, would be able to do the same, but to follow her Aunt, who works in sales. Unfortunately, due to business trips & prior engagements, this didn’t work out, so she asked if she could follow me instead. I agreed, and so it was all planned. Last week, she was “my” stagiaire, and this was the planned timetable:

MONDAY 5 hours
 
09.00 – 12.00 Group lesson

(Bonjour World)

12.15-12.45 Yves (BW)
12.45-13;30 LUNCH!!
13.30-14.00 Olivier (BW)
14.00-16.00 PAUSE
16.00 – 17.00 Paul (BW)
TUESDAY 5.5 hours
 
09.00-10.30 Jean Luc (BW)
10.30-12.00 Cedric (BW)
12.00 – 13.30 PAUSE
13.30-15.00 Roman (MF)
16.00_17.00 Pascal (BW)
WEDNESDAY 7 hours
 
10.15 – 11.45 Yvalda
11.45-12.30 PAUSE
12.30- 13.15 Valentin
13.20-14.20 Adam
14.20-15.20 Yannis
15.20- 16.35 PAUSE
16.35-17.20 Maelan
17.30- 18.30 Lilou
THURSDAY 4 hours
 
10.00-11.00 Charlene (BW)
11.00 – 14.00 PAUSE
14.00-15.30 Audrey (MF)
15.30- 17.30 PAUSE
17.30 – 19.00 Aicha (MF)
FRIDAY 5.5 hours (or 4.5)
8.30 – 10.00 Rachele (MF)
10.00- 11.30 Sylvain (MF)
11.30-12.15 PAUSE
12.15 – 13.15 Conversation Class (MF)
13.15- 14.45 Lionel (MF)

It all started quite well… She would see how an English teacher worked and how I buzzed about to different companies for my lessons.

Monday was fine, as the pause gave her a chance to ask me questions, and to have a look round Bonjour World.It started to fall apart on Tuesday – we had the two lessons in the morning, but the student at 13.30 wasn’t starting until the following week, so we had a 4 hour gap to fill! We visited the Metaform main office, so she could compare the two, and we ate our lunch there…Then what to do? Finally we went to Noz, and wandered round as slowly as we could, then we sat in the car park and watched half of the movie “Ghostbusters” on Indie’s phone   until it was 16h and time for the next lesson. We arrived in the company, only to find the student had forgotten the lesson (or couldn’t be bothered cancelling it) and was out on business…We’d hung around aimlessly for 4 hours, when we could have gone home. OK, I’m getting paid for the 1.5 hours of lesson, but not for the four hours of wasted time.

On Wednesday, I had two students cancel too – in good time, so there’s no penalty for them – so again, we had 3 hours to kill. So my stagiaire on “work experience” came to Lidl with me to do the shopping, then we went to the hospital to make my appointment for a check up, and then to McDonald’s for an ice cream!!

The day did have its compensations though, as India was rather taken with one of the young men I teach! I think he rather liked her too, as there was some mutual blushing going on!! As India is trying to decide which Lycée to go to, I think that Adam may be a draw to one in particular!!

On Thursday plans went awry too – the afternoon student had to cancel (in good time) for an important meeting, so we were left with 6.5 hours to kill. So I took her for lunch…

Burgers in the Garden Ice Café (which were very delicious!) and then we went shopping…

By 16h we were both flagging so we went to the Metaform Centre Ville office, where my next lesson was, and relaxed on a sofa with a cup of tea and a book. India fell asleep, but I failed to get a photo of that! My student arrived promptly, so we had the lesson and then went home.

Friday went according to plan (save for no Conversation Class) and as we had finished by 14.45 we decided to go to the pictures! We went to see Jojo Rabbit, which we both really enjoyed. Mark Kermode, whose opinion I trust, was, however, less of a fan. In my opinion, his description of the imaginary Hitler as “more like a petulant schoolboy than a murderous dictator” misses the point; I think the Imaginary Hitler was voicing Jojo’s thoughts and so when Imaginary Hitler was questioning Jojo’s reasos for doing something (in a petulant manner) it was Jojo himself questioning his own motives. And when Jojo finaly turned on Imaginary Hitler, he was turning on his own Nazi beliefs… But maybe I’m wrong. I found it balanced the tragic with the comic well, and made us sympathise with the young boys and girls brainwashed by the Nazi propaganda. I’d recommend it.

The film had just finished, and the credits were rolling, as I turned my phone on – immediately I got a call. It was one of India’s teachers calling to see how her stage had gone. I almost answered by saying “Excuse me, we’re in the cinema…” but luckily didn’t! I answered the questions with a good report – after all, she had done well, helping with games and answering/asking questions, so there was nothing negative to say.

I finished the week popping into see India’s mum for a glass of wine!

 

Who let the dogs out?

A few months ago, Julie, one of my Dear Readers, asked me if I could draw a zentangle of her mum’s dog as a gift for said mother. I agreed (not knowing what kind of dog it was) and Julie sent me a photo of the dog.

I can’t find it now, but it was a terrier of some kind (Sorry, Julie! I can’t remember what breed now!)  I think it might have been a Border Terrier

the most famous of which is Eccles, from “Coronation Street” as pictured above

Anyway, I searched t’Internet and found a drawing of said terrier breed. And I started my Zentangle….But it was difficult. I was worried I was getting too much Zentangle and not enough dog (if you see what I mean…) So, discouraged, I put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Then last week, I was looking through my old blog posts for something, and came across my offer to draw a zentangle for anyone, and Julie’s request for a dog for her mum. So, rather guiltily, I dug out the half finished drawing and searched t’Internet for some inspiration…which I found in this Zentangle Shih Tzu

So off I went, Zentangling mojo back, and I finished the terrier in a matter of days. Julie has it, and will be giving it to her mum, so I can show you the finished article (click on the picture to biggify it):

Finally I was pleased with how he turned out. I hope Julie’s mum likes him too!

If I’ve promised anyone else a Zentangle please do remind me in the comments…Or if you’d like one doing. Please say – I seem to be ready to do another…

Hello!

I’m here! I’m fine! But just uninspired about what to post about!

But I’m fine.

Here’s a recipe I’m going to try this weekend – Mr FD is trying to lose weight but is missing biscuits and sweet treats a bit. This sounded like a reasonable substitute…

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 175g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g light muscovado sugar 
  • 420g tin apricot halves in juice, puréed in a blender
  • 30g low-fat spread
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 125g wholemeal flour
  • 125g self-raising flour

METHOD:

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the apricots, sugar, apricot purée and low-fat spread in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Set aside to cool.
  3. Add all the dry ingredients to the cooled apricot mixture, spoon into the tin and bake for 40–50 min until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 min, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

PICTURE:

We will see. I also have to re-boil (and maybe add pectin to) my Tomato and Chilli jam. It’s more like tomato and chilli gloopy liquid at the moment.

And if you are of the praying nature, please remember a “virtual” friend of mine, who goes by the moniker Piglet. Her husband suffered a stroke after surgery for bowel cancer, and has died. Another person who a fortnight before was reasonably fit and healthy, but who succumbed quickly to cancer and its related evils. May D rest in peace and rise in glory, and may God hold Piglet in the palm of his hand.

 

The cards you never want to make…

Last week we heard on Tuesday that the wife of one of Mr FD’s oldest friends had been diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer. On Thursday evening we heard that she had died. What can one say or do in a situation like that?

We had only re-made contact with H – the friend – a few years back, and so had only met T a handful of times, but she was lovely: down to earth, fun, and kind hearted. We had loked forward to getting to know her better, but it was not to be.

On Saturday I made two condolence cards (as always, click on the photos to get a better view). This was my first effort:

I quite like this one – although the gel glue I used wasn’t my usual brand, and it didn’t stick as well, leaving some bumps and marks. The flowered paper was from the front of a free magazine (which I snaffled purely for the front cover!) and the butterfly was die-cut from some shiny blue wrapping paper. But I wasn’t happy with it. Partly because of the glue, but partly because it seemed a bit “meh”. And T wasn’t “meh”.

So I tried again

I chose daffodils, as both T and H are Welsh. I much preferred this one – using paper from a co-ordinated paper pad (from Noz) and yellow ribbon (Noz) The stick-on gold is also from either Noz or another discount store! I also used my usual glue, so there was no glue-related complaints!

As you can see, I used the same sentiment in both – I found it on t’internet and thought it was eminently suitable.

Although Mr FD iniatially chose the first card, when I pointed out the daffodils (he’s not always that observant about fine details) he changed his mind!

While I wonder if the second is a bit too brightly coloured, I still prefer it. What do you think?