Monday, December 31, 2007

Old postcards to end the year

Last Friday I mentioned some old postcards of our house that Gérard had brought over for us to scan. I thought maybe I'd make that the subject of this last post of 2007.

Here is a picture of what they called (in the 1920s) the "meeting room" of the dairy. Today we call it the dining room.

See the very same stairs we use to go up to Raph & Camille's apartment? And the very same curtains on Camille's windows! :) If anyone could recognize that car, I believe it's the only clue as to the real date on the photo.

Now here's a pic of some children (who I doubt are still alive today) playing around what was to become our letter-box. Notice the driveway in exactly the same slope leading to the Microtec offices and the studio. It evidently used to be the offices.

Now the last one for tonight will have to be this "vue générale" in which is clearly seen the studio, the kitchen, Raph & Camille's apartment, and the Microtec offices. You've got to admit, though, that our color scheme today is slightly more alluring. :)

Good night to you all, and a happy new year to everyone. We don't learn much from our mistakes, do we? But may we learn to do it better this time. Hope springs eternal in the human breast ... all you're being asked to do is love one another!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Email to siblings and cousins

Hello everyone!

What a coincidence you wrote!. I have just returned this morning from my latest trip over there -- and I left the very same day you called -- so we're on the same wave-length. I was just sitting here wanting to give you an update on how things are going with Aunty and I saw your email waiting for me. So here's the story as it stands now:

I left Thursday night with Peggy and took the night boat, like we always do, and met Aunty for breakfast Friday morning. She told me you'd called but the line was bad and she is starting to have a hard time on the phone. Later on we had afternoon lunch with her (they eat at 5pm at that place) and I took a shot of her at the table. Here it is:

We got to work and spent the entire two days packing up her stuff, sorting through things and bringing her stuff. It was very tiring work and we were beat by the end of our stay. But it's got to be done.

While there I stopped at Denisons, the estate agents who are handling the sale of her house. I picked up a leaflet and checked on how things were going with them. They are quite optimistic that it will sell easily and soon; they have their first showing tomorrow and two more lined up. He said the inside condition of the house was not really an issue: so many people would be buying just for the property location, which he said is highly sought-after. I took the papers back to Aunty who was very glad to see them.

Before we left yesterday we had completely finished Grandad's room and most of the spare room. Her bedroom was done first months ago and the living room only has a couple of pieces of big furniture in it yet. So we started on the attic and brought down her old boxes, suitcases, and even a tea chest and started filling them with things. It is a big job. Next trip I've pretty much decided I'll have to rent a U-haul moving van and go on up there just for the day with the boys. I think if I play my cards right we might be able to get everything in one haul. Peggy and I half filled the living room with boxes that are ready to go. Apart from that, there is only (very old) furniture. I would say everything in the whole house falls into one of these categories:

1. 5% intrinsic value (real value furnishings -- I'm being generous here)
2. 15% utilitarian value (used things that could still theoretically be used again)
3. 30% sentimental value (papers, letters, photos, diaries, etc who would only be valued by us because of what they represent)
4. 40% completely valueless (old, dirty, broken, tacky, kitchen appliances, or crockery, or cleaning items -- not worth even putting in storage for her)
5. 10% pure waste paper and trash (carloads of waste paper, used envelopes, every card she's ever received, every shopping bag she's ever used, etc)

Are you starting to get the picture? I'm sure at some time or other you've all gone through similar situations; this is my first. It is quite amazing the things that she has accumulated over the decades.

What's her future? I wish I knew, and so does she. He main problem, as she always says, is her arm. She got an infection in it months ago and they can't seem to get rid of it. The district nurse stops by almost daily to drain the pus and clean it and re-dress it. The swelling has gone down but it is still very red and obviously infected and no one seems to know why. I'm calling her doctor myself tomorrow because I'm finding it hard to believe all the stories. Seems to me, they must know more than they are telling her. Anyway, I'll let you know if I find out something.

My point of view is that if that issue were resolved she could perhaps gain strength and confidence and could start to enjoy life in a limited way again. She will never be the old Aunty you once knew again. She will never drive again. She will never go for a walk again; it is painful enough to watch her cross the room on her zimmer. (These are all 2007 victories because she hadn't admitted any of them a year ago, though they were just as true then as they are today.) Despite it all, she remains fairly coherent and sensible and "her old self", thank the Lord. She just has a very hard time admitting where she is at, at any given moment. Just yesterday she asked me (all full of enthusiasm) to come and take her photograph so she could get her bus pass. She will never ride a bus. I take her out for drives or for lunch in my car but it is a monumental task that triples the time of any event since she can't go out without a wheelchair, then gets into the car with great difficulty, they I have to dismantle and fold up the wheelchair, put it in the trunk, and when we get where we're going, do it all again in reverse. The last time I took her to Stewart's she was whacked after about an hour and the trip was cut short.

I don't want to sound negative nor give you undue cause for concern. She is as happy as she can be expected to be for the moment. Her arm gives her constant pain and so is a right hassle and brings her down a bit, understandably. It also saps her strength over time. She often gets short of breath and you all know her heart is weak. But these things are all being watched by professionals and we are all hoping she can clear this infection one way or another very soon. If so, she could pass the rest of her days in relative peace and happiness since every physical comfort is currently provided by the home where she is. Here, maybe this shot will cheer you up. Yesterday she had just gotten her hair done and was sitting there like a queen, so I said, You're looking rather regal today, Aunty! I'm going to take your picture! Here it is (she looks a bit grumpy, but she wasn't. She broke into a big smile when she saw the picture):

So what else can I tell you? I think she'd be happier if she'd be more resigned to her condition, like it or not. She's had a good life and now it is time to slow down and let others do what she can no longer do.

About your trip, Wendy... I already told her about it long ago, when you first told me that you were coming and she'll be glad to see you, of course. She understands. No problem with seeing me, I reckon -- for the moment I'd be hard to miss; I'm over every month. I've just had a try to juggle things and work out a rhythm and it seems like every four weeks keeps things getting done. There is so much to do while I'm there, and she has grown rather used to seeing me often. I call her every day and after a week or two of calls rehashing what we last did together we start preparing what we're going to do on my next visit. :-)

Well, I'm tired and I can't think of what more to say. Please ask if things aren't clear.

Love to you all,


Friday, December 21, 2007


Here is my diary log for yesterday, to bring you all up to date with goings on here.

A few days ago Camille got an email to the surprise and delight of everyone saying that Denise was coming back on Thursday! This time she was flying direct from Valletta (private joke) and said she'd be at Orly by 11 am.

Camille wanted to bring David as well as Susanne, so we got ready and were gone by half past eight. It's still bitter cold here -- unusually low temperatures -- and by the time we left it was showing minus five. We were thankful there was no wind.

I'm especially careful on the roads in conditions like this but we made Orly without incident by ten past eleven (Josephine had told us 2 hours, 20 minutes and, as always, she was correct to the minute).

Denise came by Air France and there was some go-slow action by ground crew that meant a slight delay in meeting her but she was out by half twelve and glad to see us all. We went upstairs to a self-service type of restaurant for lunch. Denise wouldn't let me pay but wanted this one to be on her, which was a kind thing to do.

I ate light so as not to be sleepy on the way back and had a great salad. By the time we got home (five o'clock) the two children -- who'd been good as gold all day -- had had quite enough of traveling and sitting still and were letting it be known. We're always so eager to be with our children that we sometimes forget how boring for them trips must be.

Later on, Gérard brought over some old postcards (from the 1920s) with pictures of the town and several of our house, both inside and out. He borrowed them from an elderly lady in the town and promised to bring them back to her Friday. I plan to scan them properly today and will post one for you to see later on.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A week later...

I know it's been a week since I last found time to write to you; sorry about that, I hope you remember the old saying that 'no news is good news'.

Right now I'm listening to some Yvon Gendron music in my office. Did I ever tell you about his stuff? It is so beautiful! I'd like to let you hear some of it. Right now it's Dans le desert aride.

I wanted to note for my own future reference that I've been measuring the level of water down by the hotel this week since we had a lot of rain lately and it seemed high to me so I want to try and learn from it. I went down on Monday and it was about 10 bricks under the strut of the bridge and moving fast. Tuesday, it was moving very slowly but still at the same level. Yesterday, Wednesday, it was a bit higher at 9 and a half brick and still very sluggish. The Loir was still moving quickly, though. After no rain since Sunday, today it is down to 12 bricks and moving quite nicely so it is no longer looking like flooding this year.

I need to get back here and fill you in on some more details of events. Over and out for tonight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A very good article -- take a minute to read it!

Dealing with Christian Zionists in Our Own Churches and Families

Charles E. Carlson

A long time friend named John wrote in frustration about a reply he received from his pastor in response to his letter about the church's lack of concern for the ongoing slaughter in Iraq. John sought an answer to two scriptural references, and to his frustration the pastor's reply was entirely secular. This big church pastor ignored the questions involving Jesus and the Apostle Paul's words. Instead, John was told how evil Saddam Hussein was; that Islam must be stopped, and that the State of Israel is an example of why all wars are not evil.

Secular and even bloodthirsty replies from religious leaders are not the exception. They usually ignore scripture, especially the New Testament. As an extreme example, John Hagee has held "Night To Honor Israel" programs where Jesus' name has never been mentioned. War-favoring, war-excusing, and war-enabling church leaders avoid New Testament scripture because in it there is no justification for killing anyone. Your friends and family who are under Judeo-Christian influence do not realize this until they are shown, which is our self-appointed job.

We Hold These Truths and Project Strait Gate can share what we have learned from uncounted conversations at vigils in front of about 50 of the biggest Judeo-Christian churches in America. We have come to view those who have strong feelings about their faith and who profess to be Christians in two general camps, Judeo-Christians and Christ followers, the first being a large camp and the latter a very small one, which we call the Strait Gate.

It should be obvious that many do not fit in either of the above camps, are either ambivalent or confused, but for reasons of their own they go to church. Some who read this will say they have, at times, been in all three camps.

Christ followers, by our label, generally believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of biblical prophesies, mostly fulfilled in the first century AD when Jesus came, taught, set up his earthy discipleship, was crucified under the will of the Pharisees, and arose from the dead. They think Jesus told His followers about His heavenly kingdom so they would seek it, a state of spiritual reward; but not without a judgment that would be visited upon each when we exit physical life.

By contrast, Judeo-Christians may believe all or part of what Christ followers believe, but they have an added layer superimposed over the top, like frosting on a cake, that holds to the notion that the physical, political State of Israel is the fulfillment of God's Old Testament prophesies. In order to make room for Israel as sort of an extra deity, most Judeo-Christians accept the explanation that Jesus left unfinished worldly business behind that will require His return to manage an earthly kingdom for 1000 years.

It is not your writer's place to decide if Jesus will return to earth again, as there is some Biblical evidence both ways and Jesus did not firmly say. I do not see how this question mattered to Paul or the Apostles because they all died 1,950 years ago without seeing this rapture and millennium kingdom, yet surely they have met Christ and been judged. The same is true of about 100 generations of good and bad people that have come and gone since Paul and the disciples were on earth. It did not matter to them that they died without seeing Armageddon and 'the rapture,' so why should it matter to me? I would like to think He never left.

Certainly the odds are also against this writer witnessing the "rapture." However as a consolation, D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell both missed it too. But Jesus promised that either we are faithful and will receive Christ's promise, or we are faithless and will be shunned by Jesus in His Kingdom. Either way, rapture or a millennial reign is not likely to be important to me, and I find no reason I have to know or debate the issue. This is the position WHTT Christian Zionism Blog will take until someone convinces us otherwise.

Unfortunately most pastors, even those in traditional churches, have been influenced by the opulent worldly success of the Judeo-Christian churches. Many cannot identify with a poor and humble Jesus and penniless apostles, and have compromised. I visited a church on Sunday that may be a case in point, a part of the Evangelical Covenant church where I once was a member.

Covenant churches are rightly considered "mainline Protestant," with a home in Chicago, IL, the Evangelical Covenant Church tends to be traditional, and describes itself as such. But this one taught, at least on this day, a mixture of Judeo-Christianity veneered onto following Christ.

Fred, as I will call the lead pastor, is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, and calls himself a 'Christ Follower.' I like that term, it's what we call ourselves, and Pastor Fred began with a moving account of Isaiah 9 which I also liked. The story is poetic and it furnishes an important chorus to George Frideric Handel's Messiah: 'And His name shall be called Wonderful, Marvelous, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.'

This is the prophesy of Jesus' first coming to earth as the Messiah to the Gentiles (that's us). Pastor Fred stressed that Jesus was the peacemaker in a time of terrible war and evil conflict, and he went on to suggest to the audience that most of us have had enough wars. The audience responded positively, Pastor Fred is clearly not promoting more war from the pulpit. So far so good, right out of scripture... the traditional view of Jesus, who could be more traditional than George Frideric Handel?

Pastor Fred almost had me won over, starting off on the right foot as he did, but then came a disappointment. He made a simple statement, given as fact, that Jesus was indeed coming again to set up the system of Justice and Peace promised in Isaiah 9, 'and the government shall be upon his shoulders,' meaning he said, Jesus will be very much in charge! The pastor did not say when he expects Jesus to come again, nor did he explain why He did not set up his kingdom when he came the first time.

Until Judeo-Christianity came along in the 19th Century, Isaiah 9 was accepted by almost everyone as a prophecy of Jesus' first coming two thousand years ago. It is a stretch to consider it is talking about a future coming, ignoring that all who call themselves Christians believe this is history. But Pastor Fred confused this in all our minds. He superimposed a thin, but a very hard veneer of Judeo-Christianity over following Christ.

It is basic that we who call ourselves by Jesus' name are supposed to be following the living Christ day-to-day on this earth, our testing ground. Jesus' kingdom is "not of this earth" as he told Pilate, but is a spiritual one. Pastor Fred did not say where or when Jesus' next 'coming' would take place, and he did not mention a 'rapture,' or a millennial kingdom' where Jesus would rule, nor did he project when this event would take place, but he certainly asserted it was coming in our future. Except for this one Judeo-Christian admission Pastor Fred appears to be a traditional Christ follower. It is our job to seek a dialogue with those like him and talk about the layer of Judeo-Christianity that is spoiling the whole cake .

What is the damage in believing Jesus will come back to earth for a 1000 year reign of goodness and justice? First Jesus does not say this; it is implied by some aggressive assumptions. If we expect another coming it removes from us the need to do our part to maintain His Kingdom on earth. This is exactly what He told us we must do in His book, the New Testament. If indeed Jesus came, finished His work, and left as planned, then we had best be very serious about doing our work and following His commands on earth if we are to have our own personal "second coming." Jesus told us to love our brother, even love our enemy and hate and revile no one. If this is indeed His last word to us, until we face Him in some distant year at the doorway of His kingdom, we must be diligent, constantly on guard and never slacking from our work. If we are indeed followers and don't want anyone else to do our task or carry our cross for us.

Judeo-Christianity is a great mega-church builder because it relieves us of the burden Christ placed on us of following regardless of the cost of inconvenience. To all the Disciples that meant death. Judeo-Christianity shifts the burden back to God. Judeo-Christians have only to confess that they believe in Judeo-Christianity (not simply Jesus), an apostate concept. Are we to give up the chance to walk in Jesus' footsteps for a lie?

If there are wars and slaughters, even natural disasters, do not be too concerned, these must be God-ordained acts for his ordained reasons, or so goes the Judeo-Christians' logic. They will invariably testify: 'You do not have to do a thing to be saved; Jesus did it all for you. You have but to believe.' These are the implications of Pastor Fred's disappointing words.

The illogical conclusion of Judeo-Christianity is that we must tell lots of people about Jesus and his impending next coming, and to stay out of the thankless grind of trying to make the world we live in a better place to live. It is indeed fortunate that most Judeo-Christians are good people who are not ambivalent, and who do a lot of work in spite of all the coordinated efforts to teach them they need not do it.

Jesus never told us He planned to fail in His first try on earth, and that He would have to try it a second time when conditions were more conducive to His Kingdom. But this is what Judeo-Christians rely upon. The 'government' and all earthy matters are to be settled by Jesus at his return, so following him becomes quite irrelevant. After all, if Jesus is coming again, and 'the Government shall be upon his shoulders' why even vote? We have only to believe, but in what? This is the result of the Judeo-Christian heresy and it is why our country is at war all the time and has many other ills...everyone in politics knows that the Judeo-Christians are the key to his or her political success. We Hold These Truths believes this will soon change.

WHTT Christian Zionism Blogs
Project Strait Gate

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Back from England

Thursday morning and I'm back. I took three hours, as usual, from the boat and that's including my obligatory 15-minute coffee break at Pierrefitte. True to time I was here just past ten-thirty and being greeted by Olly, 'Tine, and Davy who ran over from the fishmonger's truck on the parking lot to see me. It's good to be back!

Besides the family, what do I miss the most when I'm in the UK? Driving (road infrastructure, condition, and just plain driving on the right side of the road), decent food (I mean good food, and washing my face without having to plug the sink and waste five litres of hot water and another five of cold water! The great French melangeur has yet to cross the Channel and makes washing your hands throughout the day a real chore. :)

OK, my pet peeves are over. I see there have been over two hundred people looking over these lines. I can't help but think they must wonder what they stumbled across, but still, I'd like to use my time and energy wisely because there is always much to be said.

I only spent two full days this time -- Tuesday and Wednesday -- but got a lot done. Aunty was happy to see me and she persuaded me to take her back to Baring Road one last time. My condition for taking her was that it would be her last trip. I don't think it can be good and healthy for her to continually live in the past. She needs to come to grips with the fact that the house is gone.

I saw Mrs Stevens on Tuesday and told her I was thinking of going with Denisons and she agreed they were the company that looked the best. So I went to see Steve at the Tuckton office who I'd already spoken to on the phone. I like their setup and think they can be trusted. We agreed on going for private tender for offers in excess of 320K and put a cut-off date of the 29th of February 2008.

I signed that contract and then took it to Aunty for her signature as well and she agreed they would be best. I then got a call from the firm they deal with for convalescing and I paid the three hundred pounds they needed to do the new "HIP" (Home Information Package) that I have to supply to any prospective buyer.

Yesterday I found the front right wheel completely flat to had to get a couple of new tires -- it was very convenient to find a Citroen dealer right next door to Denisons' office. I went back to the house and loaded the car (with the back seats down) with momentoes, keepsakes, and books -- but mostly books.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Mennonites are talking about us

My attention was drawn to an article by Robert Rhodes in the Mennonite Weekly Review that mentions Rocky Cape and Courtiron. I thought it might be nice to reproduce it here for you so here it is:

An inter-Mennonite newspaper, putting the Mennonite world together every week since 1923

December 4, 2007

Communal churches still carry appeal

Many churches in today’s disconnected world preach a gospel of “building community” or of functioning as a “true community of believers.” What this really means varies as widely as the people in those churches, all of whom bring their individual needs and concerns to that effort to come together. Some churches have discovered deep spiritual streams flowing among them in this way. Ultimately, however, the members of most of these churches return to their own homes and jobs at the end of the Sunday service, re-establishing the disconnection they have been trying to combat.

Still, throughout the history of the church, starting with the body of original believers in Jerusalem, communities of faith that truly are communal — sharing everything and living and working together on a committed basis — have persevered in one form or another. This is a trend that can be seen in communities emerging even today, including two in places as far-flung as France and Tasmania.

According to its Web site, the Community of Courtiron Anabaptists (, near the village of Marçon, France, about 150 miles southwest of Paris, stands for a very traditional approach to Christian communalism, similar in many ways to the 500-year-old Hutterian Brethren. But where the Hutterites — once communalists of a particularly radical bent — have mostly forsaken mission work today, Courtiron places a special emphasis on outreach.

“Life is not a mad race for money, pleasure or success,” the community, which has about 20 members, declares online. “Life has a meaning that is far above these things. The meaning of life lies in relationships: love for God and love for each other. Each generation has to learn that truth and thus find the secret of happiness.” Though claiming to know the secret of happiness might be presumptuous, the people of Courtiron say they take this mutual love as a fundamental article of their faith. Showing this love to others is one of the community’s basic goals.

“To those who do not call themselves Christians, we want to bring the Word of God in all its purity and truth, that they will find the same solace, liberty, morality and comfort that we see on every page,” according to the Web site. “To our Christian friends, we must exhort, encourage and share what we have lived, encouraging by word and deed, the life of godliness in all.”

Meanwhile, a hemisphere away in Tasmania, the Rocky Cape Christian Community ( espouses these same goals and also identifies with the greater Anabaptist movement. Established on the grounds of a former Bible camp by conservative Mennonite author Peter Hoover and several families from the Elmendorf Hutterite Colony at Mountain Lake, Minn., Rocky Cape also includes a number of newcomers — believers for whom the way of community is still relatively fresh, perhaps even a little uncertain.

“While we have close and direct links to other Anabaptist communities like ours, we seek fellowship with all serious believers — regardless of their background or credentials — that know Christ and follow him,” according to the Rocky Cape Web site.

While both of these communities work from a mostly rural, agrarian model, urban church communities also are thriving. These often take the communal lifestyle in new and unexpected directions, frequently with a focus on social justice and public activism. Because they see themselves as offering a radical departure from materialism and self-pursuit, many of these communities also identify with the Anabaptist movement, or at least its heritage.

Though living communally can be rife with just as much error and tension as any other group of people in close quarters — in some, an insular “ghetto mentality” can pervade like a crippling smell — it also can be a life of many blessings.

Though no community can rightly claim to be Utopian or even remotely perfect, those who live in this way typically feel a deep personal calling to share with others not only their faith but their material goods. This calling is an old one and, despite the persistent human drive for isolation and wealth, it is still being heard. — Robert Rhodes

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Still playing with pictures

Here are a few more random shots from that three-year period when I had my "old" phone, now retired. Every time the page reloads, you get three different shots at random. Have fun! (I don't have to tell you that if you click on any image you get taken to the flickr account where you can see it close up. Coming soon ... more recent pictures. :)