Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Xmas Letter 2011

What did we do in 2011? We moved and then moved again. In January we sold the village house that we had been living in for 15 years and decided move into a larger town where we could be within walking distance to everything we wanted or needed.

In January 2009 a violent wind storm swept through the Minervois and thousands of roofs were damaged. My neighbour and I were victims and our roof tiles were damaged, there was a hole in the roof and my chimney blew down. Luckily my neighbour is a stone mason and with him I climbed up onto the roof to help him repair the damage. Having just passed my 80th birthday in December this was not a good idea. While taking the debris down three flights to the basement my back felt a stabbing pain. Within a few months my mobility was reduced to a few painful steps so it was off to the hospital in Toulouse for a spinal operation.  It was my first time ever in a hospital. I can only say that the medical practice here is outstanding both in terms of the professional attention I received, the promptness of the services and the politeness and cheerfulness of the doctors, nurses and technical staff that I had to deal with. All costs were paid for. I can only say that US citizens are insane for rejecting the quality of these services (a mix of private and public services) that cost less than half  what they must pay.
In a hospital, of course you are just a side of beef and when I came to after the operation I looked around and discovered that I was in a recovery room with about a dozen others all seemingly in a comatose state  partially covered or not covered with sheets. Modesty is an unknown word in a hospital. A day later in my hospital room a matronly woman arrived and brusquely announced that I had to be bathed and ordered me to remove my nightie. Then three of her friends arrived at the foot of the bed to watch which I found somewhat unsettling.  Fortunately they seemed to be bored and preoccupied with a conversation that I couldn't overhear.

The day after the operation my pain was gone and I was back on my feet. Despite a gradual recovery it was clear that the I wasn't going to be digging in my vegetable garden anymore or climbing my fruit trees for plums and figs. I made one last attempt at it and while pruning my olive tree my back stabbed me again so my farming career came to an end.  That is the main reason for moving into a larger town although Irene always felt that we should stay a step ahead in the game of aging and was glad that I finally agreed.

We finally found a charming 19th century Hausmann apartment in Narbonne with high ceilings and ample space and then went into a construction mode with contractors to replace all the floors and upgrade and paint the walls. We settled in and then our neighbour left to return to Paris and their two story apartment with more space became available. In September we returned to a renovation mode  and with a son and daughter with a family totalling seven people with us for the Xmas season our renovations are again nearing. completion. Irene has enjoyed every minute of this saga. 
During this construction period we have spent time with many family and friends, attended jazz and classical concerts, and I've found time to rant about