Friday, November 30, 2007

Family pix

I don't know if this is going to work very well, but I'm going to try to include a few of our family pictures in the left side panel that will change automatically every time you refresh the page. Could be nice ... if it works and looks nice maybe I'll change it the first week of every month to show you last month's pictures.

For now, to start, here are some old pictures from my cell phone. I recently upgraded my old Motorola V500 to a newer W510 (if you know the models, or care) for the price of 1 Euro. Since my old one was starting to give me problems I thought I shouldn't wait. In course of the changeover I removed all the pictures off the camera -- most of which I had never seen up close. So it's a nice surprise for everyone. They're only VGA but that's good enough to get the picture!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"French Youths” Riot, Again

Picked this up by a guy named Gary Bauer and thought it pretty well hit the nail on the head. In this crazy world we must not say what we all know to be true.

The French apparently have a youth problem. I know this to be true because Big Media told me so.

“Dozens of youths clashed with police… in a working and lower class suburb north of Paris.”
New York Times
“…Angry youths set ablaze a police station,
a McDonald’s restaurant, two garages, a gasoline pump and several shops…”
Washington Post
“Nearly 80 French police officers have been injured,
six seriously, during a second night of riots by youths…”
British Broadcasting Company
“Riots in French suburb for second night after two teens killed in police crash.”

Youth. Teens. Rioters. Anyone reading these stories would think that young men named Pierre and François were rebelling against their country. Perhaps the French need to initiate “Midnight Basketball,” the famous Clinton proposal to deal with youth crime.

But of course the rioters aren’t just “youths.” They are Muslims, overwhelmingly from North Africa, who reject French society and values. When they rioted in 2005, these same youths were very clear about what they wanted—an Islamic France. Some wore t-shirts with the number 2020 on them—the year Muslims could become the majority in France if current immigration and birth trends continue.

Of course none of this information was deemed worthy for us to know by the Big Media reporters who brought us the stories of youth rioting in Paris. “Nothing to see here folks—keep on moving” was the theme for the day.

Meanwhile, Islam is re-conquering Europe one baby at a time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Letter to family

Greetings to you all,

I am amiss in waiting so long before communicating with you all; please forgive me. Time seems to be the one thing I never have enough of, but perhaps this just shows a lack of organizational skills.

Be that as it may, I want to bring you up-to-date a little on your cousin, my aunt, Ruth. You must all have heard by now that she is not well. Well, she is better but I fear we will never see her as free and autonomous as she was even a couple of years ago. In case you missed any details, her present woes began a little over a year ago with a nasty fall in her bathroom in the middle of the night. This resulted in a fractured hip and broken arm. Since that time there have been other operations, more falls, infections, another break to the same arm, periods of hospitalization, and more falls. Once she slipped and fell out of bed and gashed her head. Though this was not a serious injury it topped a long list of events that have discouraged her greatly and gone a long way to destroying her feeling of independence.

She, who had always preplanned everything hadn't foreseen such a year as this last one has been. Her paperwork, always so neat and orderly, has been thrown into disarray and confusion from sheer lack of upkeep. A lot of bills come in the space of one year and while I've been trying to deal with things as best I can it has not always been easy. I have been over to see her and help do what I can every few weeks of this year -- probably once a month, on average. I brought my girls over a couple of times to stay with her for a week to help keep things tidy and do the shopping. My weekly phone calls turned into two- or three-a-week calls several months ago and now, since my last visit at the end of October, I promised her I'd call every day. She has grown to depend on it.

Several months ago it became obvious that she could no longer live alone at home and I started trying to persuade her to find a caring accommodation nearby. This summer she was admitted into the Retired Nurses National Home in Bournemouth for respite care following complications from yet another fall and resultant operation on her arm. I became convinced that that was where she ought to be and started trying to talk her into the move. To shorten the story I would just say that the decision has now been made, and the move fully done. There are a thousand things to be done but at least she is now in full-time care 24/7 surrounded by people who are very good to her. She now has a very pleasant south-facing bedsit, quite large, with two bay windows in it and an en-suite bathroom with shower.

There is no point sending anything further to Baring Road as we are trying to put the house on the market. This became necessary, unfortunately, because of some clause in an equity loan that she took out some years ago against her home. We haven't got very far yet but Northern Rock has asked that we put it up for sale within six months of her moving out. A couple of months ago Ruth engaged a woman she knew of from her church, an accountant by trade, to act as her Power of Attorney. This has meant that I am working with her to plan what needs to be done. Apparently my cousin Joy also has such a PoA but of course she is a very long way away now it is needed.

I've just gotten of the phone with Ruth. She slept well last night (not always a given) and sounds pretty good today. She is also sounding a little less confused this past little while. Some say that may be a side-effect of her medication. Her doctor of twenty years is passing by to see her on Monday and she feels good about seeing him. She walks very slowly with the help of a zimmer -- I should probably use the word "moves" rather than "walks". I alway take her out for lunch or for a drive when I am there, using her collapsible wheelchair but last time she was just too weak and tired even to attempt the adventure.

She mentioned to me that she lately received a card from her cousin John to which she has not been able to reply and she feels bad about this. I said I was writing you and would ask if any of you have a way of contacting him with her news to please do so. She would appreciate this a lot.

This note may have raised more questions than it answers -- if so, don't hesitate to get in touch with me. In the meantime she would love to hear from any of you who could write or call. Her mailing address is now: [snipped for posting to the blog -- if you want it, please just ask] and her phone number (a permanent land line into her new room that I had transferred from Baring Road) is [also snipped, but freely available on request].

As for the rest of us here in France, we are doing well, all thanks to God. It is winter and days are short and rather overcast a lot of the time, though yesterday was a royal exception with bright sun ever since breakfast. I pray you are all well.



Friday, November 23, 2007

The birthdays

One is 29 today and the other is 49. It's that time of the year again. This afternoon I said to Becky in the car that Mummy and I were going to take the "birthday children" out for dinner tonight. I meant to say Camille so Becky took ages going through people we know trying to figure out if Loren was coming over for dinner or was Flora coming down tonight to see us, etc. Quite funny at the time since we have four 23/11s listed on our "birthday board" today.

Anyway, the four of us went out to Le Tanger in Château du Loir and had a very nice Moroccan meal of couscous and tangine and other assorted delights. We were back by ten having had a good time talking and sharing about events.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I seldom pick so boring a title but I'm at a loss this morning.

We all united for devotions this morning. Christopher made a nice fire and John got some logs to put on it. Raph brought out a book I'd bought some time ago but not read yet on the resurrection. It's a Crown Rights reprint from the mid-nineteenth century. Claire set up her spinning wheel and did some spinning while I read. We only read the first chapter this morning, due to a late start, but it sounds interesting and put us all in a good humor. I'll let you know how far we get.

Yesterday I called Aunty late (around nine) because I'd forgotten earlier. But it wasn't too late and she was glad I'd called. She said Mrs Stevens had come over that morning and said she was going to email me the results of her visit but this morning I still haven't heard from her; I surely will during the day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A letter to Grandma's children

I'm sorry I have been amiss at keeping you all informed about Grandma. The best I can say is, No news is good news. She is doing just fine since she got over the hectic time of hospitalization a few months ago. Her paperwork is progressing and she's got her resident permit renewed, as expected. A few weeks ago we got another complete checkup done on her with full blood test and everything: the results looked like a page from the answer sheet! You could all wish for such perfect analysis!

Unfortunately her Alzheimer's has continued its inroads into her little world but she stays happy and this makes things easier. She is living in her new bedroom that we had built for her with her own toilet/bathroom/shower area and that makes things a lot easier for everyone. She is happy and putters about the house sometimes grabbing a broom and sweeping the floor, sometimes stocking the woodpile with some sticks from outside. What she most seems to like is to sit with the women in the kitchen when there's some work to be done
on peeling vegetables or some such thing. She wants her cutting board and paring knife and sets herself down at the end of the table where she's given her part of the "work".

Here's a picture you may not have seen of the wedding party in front of the town hall last September when Elisabeth married Michel. Grandma happily took her place between Michel and his father! Rebecca is next to his father on the far right an
d Jonathan is on the far left, next to Peggy and Christopher is between her and Elisabeth. You might recognize Nathalie standing just behind Grandma, Claire (holding Susanne, Raph & Camille's littlest one) in front of Peggy, Christine (R & C's eldest) next to Claire, Olivier (nearly 7 now) just in front of Michel, and Raphael almost hidden by Michel's father. I took the photo so you don't get a picture of me. :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Selling the house

I've started to try to get in touch with estate agents in Bournemouth to see if I can get some kind of an evaluation on Aunty's house.

First I called her former neighbor who she was keen on involving in the sale of the house but I haven't been able to track him down yet and can find no business in his name.

I did find a couple of others, though, and after leaving full details at a Clearwater Real Estate Ltd (they're going to have a look and get back to me via email) I tried another business in the area but only got an answerphone, so I left a message.

The first fellow seemed very helpful and said they'd have a look from the outside and give me some sort of ball-park figure of what it is worth. We'll see what happens. I can see this is going to take some time!


I just got back after a full day on the road with Becky. To get to William's plane in time at Roissy we had to get up at 2:15am. I had Becky as my copilot and we got ourselves together and were at the hotel, as I promised William, at exactly 3 am where we picked him up, as well as Debbie's mother, Ruth, and her sister Anna who needed to be at Beauvais for their flight this morning.

The trip went well and without incident and we dropped William off at Terminal 3 at exactly six, as he'd wanted. Then it was off to Beauvais for the next flight and by 7 there was only Becky and myself to make our way homeward.

After an hour of driving we were back in the outskirts of Paris and I was feeling very tired and looking for a rest. We spent half an hour looking for a coffee shop and a quiet place to park but not finding it, we headed toward the autoroute that would take us home.

We'd originally thought we'd be home by noon but around ten thirty we stopped at a service station for a coffee and a nap and I didn't stir until past eleven thirty so we phoned home to tell them not to wait for us.

Half an hour later Becky and I stopped for lunch at a new autoroute restaurant and had a nice meal before setting off again -- we got home just after three and Becky went straight to bed and I checked in at the office.

At four this afternoon after answering another email from Mrs Stevens I called Aunty again but she was not being clear and I had to repeat my name three times before she knew who was on the phone.

I am at the point of really not knowing what to do for her now. Sarah called the home about Aunty's clothes that she was concerned with yesterday and they mentioned that Social Services had called about all the equipment they'd lent Aunty so I just called them back now to say that half of it was at the home and the rest was still at Baring Road. The person handling her file is a Jacky Clarke who was not there when I called but who is supposed to call me back tomorrow.

This is not real news for most of you reading this but I'm trying to keep track of events so that I can reconstitute events in the future in the order that things happened.

I got nice letters about Aunty's situation from Marian and Wendy but haven't heard from anyone else yet. They'd like to help but they are a long way away so I guess it is up to me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tuseday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the UK

Another three days with Aunty are now over, trying to get her set up and comfortable. She is in good hands and is reasonably happy but all is not well yet.

I called ahead and found that she was still in the Poole hospital on Tuesday morning when we got there so we went directly to the RNNH and left our stuff in the Cottage and said we'd be back a little later. When we got to Poole we found Aunty very frustrated and seemingly not able to get much attention for herself as well as not knowing what was going on with her nor what time she could expect to go home.

I scouted around and found someone who promised they'd call me by three if we went out for lunch. We got some pub food and sure enough they called just after three to tell us that she was being released to go home the same afternoon.

Next we went to Baring Road to pick up some stuff and then to visit with her back at home -- she was so glad to be back! But all is not well and I'm concerned about her situation.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Last week

Well, yesterday was a busy day but it's over now.

After leaving Don & Jan in Paris (I drove up there with Becky as a companion) and dropping them off at the Gare du nord we went and found a place to get a coffee and a croissant for breakfast since we left them by eight-thirty.

The idea was to get across Paris to the British Embassy and pick up my renewed passport which was supposed to be ready for me. But I called Nat who said they needed another half hour so we started out to get there about nine, which should have been easy. Suffice to say, it wasn't, because of heavy traffic and after much "site-seeing" we finally got there just after eleven thirty, I got my passport, and we headed home.

We got back in the middle of the afternoon and I took a little rest before leaving for England with Sarah around six-thirty. It was a nice easy trip that I know well by now and we were at the boat in plenty of time to board the midnight sailing from Caen. More on that trip a bit later...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How I'm doing

Well, I'm back with just a little update -- though I ought to be telling you all about the conference; that will have to wait right now.

Ever since the incident the other night I have been feeling perfectly well in every way and I thank God for each new day.

Thursday, of course, was a bank holiday so everything was on hold. Bright and early Friday morning I was down at the lab to get a blood test, as requested. That only took a few minutes out of my day but it was done.

Yesterday morning we got the results from the lab in the post and I went to have the Doppler scan done in town around ten. I described my problem and what brought me here and at first the technician could find nothing. But he said that hard masses don't just appear and disappear and that as far as he was concerned I was having a recurrence of my former hernia.

Then he tried a different position and finally got the pictures he wanted and expected, confirming his initial diagnosis: a hernia waiting to happen.

I went the the doctor's but he was closed by the time I got there and I didn't figure I had big enough news to tear him away from his wife and children so I left planning to go see him with my scan and lab results next week. He'll give me some advice on how to live. As I understand it, there is not much one can do but be careful lifting or straining oneself.

Today we're back to the hotel to finish up a wonderful conference. Tomorrow I'm driving Don and Jan to Paris to catch the Eurostar to London. Then I have to swing by the embassy and pick up my renewed passport which should be done by then. Sarah and I plan to leave for England tomorrow night to spend three days with Aunty -- more news on that later.

Thanks for your notes and calls and good wishes, girls. I appreciate your kind thoughts. I hope this is a good way of spreading our news to you -- but don't let yourself get tempted into worrying; that solves nothing. Prayer is what changes things and remember what the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplished, all right?

Much love to you both. Keep us in your prayers. All is well. I will try to write more later on this afternoon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My health

If you know me at all, you know how much I hate talking about my health, or how I feel or, God forbid, my operations. I have even less patience with others who are that way inclined. But today I want to do just that, so you are forewarned: if, like me, the whole subject bores you, just skip this post.

In my life, I have suffered from three incidents that required help from a surgeon, and the first was in my 50th year, 1999, when I suddenly had a hernia occlusion that was excruciatingly painful. The only remedy was surgery to set things right. A year or so later I was taken with acute appendicitis with peritonitis and we're very fortunate to have caught it in time because I was told that it was not a pretty sight and the infection was starting to spread. But here, too, a masterful surgeon cleaned things up and removed the offending member.

The only other incident was during the Christmas holiday a few years ago that we had decided to go to Rome and only got as far as Riom -- no pun intended, whatsoever. But it was indeed in that city's hospital that I was admitted late one night with intense back pains and vomiting. While the others waited at the hotel I was examined by a kindly Martiniquaine who said that the only way out of my woes was l'ablation du vessie. After being discharged next morning, I well remember the lovely sunny drive Sarah and I had back toward Le Mans and home and the memorable Christmas dinner was ate at the Auberge du cheval blanc at the end of the autoroute. All the others followed in the Jumper as best they could and thus ended our trip to see Titus's Arch in the eternal city.

Anyway, this is history and my intention was to recount what is happening to me now.

For the past little while I've had an uncomfortable feeling come over me that is slowly starting to leave the realms of disagreeable to be qualified more as painful. I seem get it once or twice a week and my whole lower abdomen is affected leaving me feeling as if I had just left the table after an uncomfortably heavy meal -- even at times when I have hardly eaten.

This happened to me last Saturday while we were all working in the garden. Though I was barely doing anything that could be considered "work" I suddenly felt this pressure that made me want to loosen my belt to provide relief. I went into the studio and lay down for perhaps an hour, almost dozing off a couple of times. When I first laid down I could barely find a comfortable position but after an hour the feelings had subsided and I felt much better and well enough to get back with the others.

Last night while we were sitting at the table it came again, pressuring, hurting, rendering my whole lower abdomen tender and restricted. I excused myself and went to bed, knowing a bed as providing the most efficient relief I knew. But last night I could get no relief and it was getting downright painful. I felt a large, hard mass that I knew was not normal. I had noticed it before but it seemed smaller and in any event I assumed it to be scar tissue. But after an hour of tossing I decided to get up and go to the emergency ward of the hospital. This must have been around ten because I had retired well before nine.

By this time we were leaning heavily toward the thesis of the reappearance of a hernia, half hoping that is all it would prove to be. But apparently it is not. The young doctor listened patiently then examined me fairly thoroughly before saying it was not a hernia, but that he didn't know what that lump was.

He prescribed a Doppler scan and a blood test, to be done, if possible, tomorrow, followed by a visit to Dr Pérol as soon as possible next week.

I know that some of you will find this of some interest. Check back in a day or so.