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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The History of Humankind

Throughout our time on earth, ours has been the stories of mass migrations and social upheaval. By now it should have taught us that not only is migration inevitable, it is necessary for our ultimate survival.

Building fences or walls, sending armed marshalls or guards only foments hatred, dissent and fear among all the peoples affected and separates us from each other in ways that can take centuries to overcome. And all to no avail because one way or another migratory change is going to happen.

So why then are we all not taking positive steps to help incorporate new societies into the fabric of our own and stop wasting time and resources in preventing what is impossible to prevent.

Of course there are moral issues. We are watching scenes of  devastating  poignancy daily on our television screens and we are being threatened with dire consequences if we don't stem the tide of the masses that will overwhelm us. And so we convince our inner souls that it is right and necessary  to turn our backs on those who so desperately seek our help.

What is very disturbing to me is the dissention and, indeed, vitriol within our own society, within families and among friends -- nevermind Internet colleagues -- that is now rife. Personally, i come from a nation of immigrants and cannot forget that heritage. We are in fact all products of ages of immigration and migration and it is at our peril to forget that.

Friday, August 21, 2015

and All Is as It Should Be -- More or Less





So when I last wrote we were about to be beseiged by guests, had no television and the Internet had failed. Oh and we were in the midst of filling the new pool that was replacing the one the  mice had eaten...

For two days we filled the pool with  the garden  hose. The Man  was taking a well-deserved nap and I had come to the terrace with a cup of.  tea and a slice of cake. "Oh my" I  thought to myself, " that pool seems to be bulging out a bit. I will call Him when I  finish  my  tea?" Suddenly mid-bite I heard the sound of a wave breaking a few yards away from my back!

I screamed loudly for the Man that the wall of the pool had collapsed. Indeed, I thought the thing would be empty by the time He arrived. It wasn't but had lost more than half the water! Using brooms and logs as wedging/support devices we have been able to secure the wall enough to fill the pool with about 20 inches of water -- far short of the 4 feet it is  supposed to hold, but enough to entertain the three girls when they were here and to cool off ourselves on some very hot days.
This all because The Man did not adequately level off the ground when setting up to fill. We know for next year, provided something doesn't eat it!

Our guests arrived and brought with them a new satellite  box. And I  am happy  to  report that we are now able to receive our daily injections of British television. The problem seems to have been that our television is not HD and so the signal came through all mangled looking and pixelated. The new box has two selections for each channel -- one HD and the other not. So that problem was gratefully and rather easily solved!

The Internet, is more or less working. I contacted 03 and explained that their roaming card did not work on my mobile router. After many hours on the phone they said they would continue to  have their  engineers working on it and would be back in touch with me. It had been necessary for them to make a few changes to the settings on my account, which I thought had been made before I left the UK. The problem I now have is with the connection in this part of rural France not being totally dependable except for  the  wee hours of the morning and now and then the rest of  the  time. So for example I will be able to publish this fairly easily as long as I don't try to publish pictures. (Thank goodness for friends with a splendid Internet  connection!)

My last annoyance came shortly after our guests arrived on the 19th of July. I was seated in the blue chair above. It is very low on the ground and when I  tried to get up I felt  an excruciating pain along the outside of my thigh. It is now the 21st of  August and this week for the first time all symptoms of pain and discomfort have gone! I can now climb up and down stairs, get out of bed, get out of chairs, in and out of the car and even up off the ground -- and it is painless!

And now I have real problems to think about -- such as family in South Korea with that thug in the North threatening war. And I really do worry about the thousands of refugees trying so hard to escape murder and mayhem with their families and nowhere to find a safe harbour. If only my little worries and annoyances were all anyone had to cope with...

Sunday, August 02, 2015

France Profond and All Is as It Should Be -- finally!

It is a very long drive from Southport to the Lot. We left on July 8th and arrived here on the 10th. The house was in its usual state -- lots of dust and spiders. Nothing unusual -- that is until there was a 'bang' of sorts and the electricity went off. After a short investigation The Man got us re connected and we are still nome the wiser as to what happened..

The result of this scare, however were frayed tempers resulting in The Broad storming out in 38C heat to walk to the village shop to by tomatoes-- which I had forgotten to by earlier.

The next day all was much calmer and necessary apologies were made or I would have stayed on my high horse and time was not to be wasted ...

Alors ... time could not be wasted because we had a family of five coming to stay for 4 days in less than a weeks time. Fortunately, the grass had been  cut  and the terrace had been successfully treated to stay clean so all The Man had to do was get the swimming pool up and filled with water.

Ha! We arrived on Friday. The Man had set aside Sunday to set up the pool. Sunday came and with great anticipation he began the task. From the terrace I heard a sudden anguished "OH, NO"!!!  Upon opening out the pool he discovered to his absolute horror that mice had ingested much of the bottom with giant Swiss cheese effect...

Ho, hum... the discovery on Sunday in La France Profond meant that  a replacement pool woul have to wait until the next day. Fortunately, we found another pool the next day. It was even bigger that the one the mice ate. 18 feet across instead of 15 and 4 feet deep instead of 3.5.but of course that presented us with problems we hadn't anticipated...

In the meantime I was fighting  my yearly battle to get some kind of
Internet connection. Before we left England for France I  learned that I mcould get a pay-as-you-go connection with Three -- 10 gigabytes for £15 per month and that I would pay the same amount while in France. I have a little mobile router that enables me to do this,  but when I got here I could not get connected! Needless to say I was not very happy about that.

Then we tried to get the TV up and running. A good friend was coming to watch the Wimbleton Final. The reception kept breaking up. In fact it was just impossible to watch. Then we discovered that we could not receive any of the BBC channels! We know that we are on the edge of the 'foot print' but last year we were fine.

Anyway we were not fine now and The Man had two theories. The first being that the decoding box was old and had been playing up for some time. To that end he had our son get us a new satellite box and give it to the family coming to stay with us in a few days time. His second theory was that we needed to invest in a larger satellite dish...

In the meantime back at the pool, which was hour after hour after even more hours filling with water. This pool took a lot more than the mouse-ingested pool! And we were about to discover that having the groung absolutely level is very very important. .

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Occupied

At breakfast our 1st morning
My birthday  surprise was revealed  to  be  two weeks in Kyrenia in Northern  Cyprus!  The man had spent 3 very happy years ar RAF Aquatieri 50 years ago! Except for a 2 week sojourn in 1974 he has not been back. You could say a lot has happened in the interim.

Cyprus is a very popular  destination for many British people and over my years in England  i have heard a lot about it, but this is my first trip. For the past few  years  we have heard from many that the Greek south of Cyprus has been spoiled by over commercialization and beaches that have been  ruined by tall buildings and sprawling hotels. We were advised
That to experience the 'old Cyprus' we should go to the Turk.ish north. And infeed here we are in a beautiful little hotel in Kyrenia right by the  sea.

we arrived late on the night of the 10th of June. Our travel rep had sent a car to meet us in Larnaca in the south of the island so we had to cross the line dividing the country and show passports to gain admittance. It wasn't until a few days later when we were driving around that we saw the irrefutable evidence of Turkish presence. Time and as we drive from one place to another we come upon wire fences with signs warning all not to take pictures and saying that it is a military zone. Several times The Man has been thwarted  when attempting to find some place that he had known long ago only to find the way blocked.

The Cypriots that we have spoken to have all said that they are hoping  that  their small country will be reunited in the next couple of years. But I see many signs that this may be wishful thinking. Everywhere are Turkish monuments to their presence. These monuments are to be seen in the towns and atop cliffs and embellished in grand public work schemes -- as if to announce tonthe world that "Here we are and here we mean to stay".


Sunday, May 31, 2015

"In My Day"

I suppose it's because there is a big birthday coming up in just under three weeks that has me thinking about being one of the elderly -- a 'senior' -- an old fart -- etc. ad nauseum. Some friends of mine tell me that being around the grandchildren makes them feel young -- not me -- it wears me out and brings on serious bouts of impatience and grumpiness.

More and more I am using expressions that I remember my grandparents and aunties using, like 'in my day' or 'when I was a girl' or even 'back in the 60's' or worse, 'back in the 60's when I was young...'
When I was a young woman, it wasn't a problem finding a job -- there were always loads in the paper ...
In my day, I had no trouble getting an apartment that I could afford on my own ...
It was all so Happy Days and comedy sit-com-land! Can you tell I come from white middle class America? Indeed!

I used to love comedy programs -- now I can't appreciate the comedians my children find hilarious. Most movies do not interest me at all and when I go The Man doesn't want to go with me because the sound is so loud it hurts his ears. We are both old codgers and there is no going back...

We are going away for two weeks for my birthday to a warm Mediterranean location. I have not been told exactly where -- which is fine with me as I do like surprises. And old codger that I am I do still enjoy travelling -- although the long haul trips do take their toll on me when I get back home. And my back aches a lot -- well everything aches first thing in the morning.

The weatherman said this morning that for the next couple of days it will feel more like the end of October and early November than the 1st of June. Needless to say, he got that right. I am off now for my slippers and very cozy dressing gown  before settling down with a hot drink and  the next installment of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell...

Cheers!

Monday, May 18, 2015

In or Out, It's a Referendum They Shout!

In my last post Rosaria Williams asked in her comment, what the disadvantages were for Britain not being in the EU. That is a question that will be dominating UK politics from now until the promised referendum is held -- by 2017 at the latest.

I fervently hope that this country decides to stay part of the European Union. But I can understand why more and more people now have a negative attitude to our membership. First there were the annoying rules from Brussels that seem to most of us to be ridiculous -- from the curves in bananas and cucumbers to how food must be labelled. Why were certain countries allowed to become members when they did not meet the financial criteria that were supposedly required for membership. (France did not meet the financial criteria and it was one of the original members!)

When a country joins the EU they join as an equal member -- with the same rights and privileges as every other member state. And part of the equality is that its citizens are allowed to travel and settle in any other member state. Many people in Britain and in other of the wealthier countries are very unhappy with number of immigrants that are now here quite legally -- because there is work and because there have been very generous benefits given by the State.

The Man and I have several Polish friends who have very freely admitted that the reason they have come to Britain is because "of the benefits"! But now that they are losing many of those benefits, they are busy getting themselves second and third jobs -- jobs that are all low paying -- wives are no longer staying at home, teenagers are finding work after school and on weekends. Every foreign worker that I have met is contributing to the economy, many with jobs that no Brit can be found to do.

Two of my sons have had jobs in the EU -- one now in Italy and the other a few summers ago, in France. The Man and I can visit our vacation home in France as often and for as long as we like. We can travel throughout the EU freely, buy goods and bring them home pretty much without restriction. We even have a medical card which gives us the right to receive the same care as each state provides its own citizens.

But the most important disadvantage to Britain not being in the EU is 'commitment' to Europe. By being part of the Union we are giving substance to the belief that we are part of Europe and that we can find ways of working together to solve problems and find solutions -- both economic and social. Seventy years ago we began the process of ending our mutual history of being one of many warring European nations. The EU has been part of that process and Britain was slow to become part of it. To quit now seems to me a backward step and one made out of fear -- to the detriment not only to Europe, but especially to this country.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Home Again, Home Again, Windblown and Fit

Well, the election is over, my visit to the States is over and now life gets back to its more or less ordinariness.

Since my political leanings are more to the left of Centre, I am not exactly thrilled with the outcome -- but satisfied at least the we have one of only 8 Liberal Democrat MPs. I am now in the midst of filling out my citizenship application so that next time, God willing, I shall be allowed to cast my ballot and not feel 'left out' of the proceedings!

I sincerely hope that by the time of the next election the UK will still be a member of the European Union -- that will be the next big fight. And the Conservatives will probably be doing most of it amongst themselves! Apparently, One of the first bills to be put through by the new Government will be the Abolition of the Human Rights Act. Sounds ominous to me -- doesn't quite have the same 'ring' to it as say the Abolition of Slavery...

It is good to be home, though it would be nice to suffer from a bit more warmth in the air. The winds are up, but the sun is out. The cherry blossom lasted all of two days -- one of which was all but lost on me due to jet-lag. And speaking of the 'lagged-jet'!

Our arrival back to Britain was delayed by 10 hours, which means that we are each receiving compensation from the airline to the tune of 600 Euros! The Man remembered reading that EU passengers have the right to compensation for delays over 4 hours and so he duly wrote to the airline and was rewarded with a prompt and positive reply.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

everything went well until the text on the way to the airport

Despite the sadness that caused our visit to the US we have had a very happy trip. I will write more about that another day.

It has been a lovely New England Spring day in Boston. We left my niece and her family at 4.00 to be sure of ample time for returning the car and getting booked in. En route to the airport I received a text that our flight to Paris would be delayed from  20.45 to 00.35! If there is one thing to drive The Man around the bend it is to have to wait for just about anything for even 5 minutes. Instead of arriving at Manchester Airport at 13.30 we
Will now arrive at 21.30!!!

The staff claim the delay is caused by technical problems in Paris. However, i don't believe them. I believe the flight was cancelled because they didn't have enough passengers  to come close to filling the huge Airbus 380 originally scheduled  to fly. Saying it is technical means they don't have to fork out compensation.

Ho-hum! And Logan Airport  only offers 45 minutes of complementary wifi so I better publish while I still  can!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A New Toy for The Broad

As part of my regimen for staving off the fall into dementia, I quite regularly challenge my ability to cope with new techie challenges. In fact I find it quite a challenge just keeping up-to-date with all the new gadgets and challenges on offer!

So with a few excuses to myself I have recently acquired a new toy. To be precise a 'Wireless Mobile Phone Monopod'.

"What's that?" asked all three of my boys, to my bemusement. When I told them, each one of them in turn laughed out loud  at me and shook his head. On thinking about it for a few minutes, the eldest of my children -- who is in his 40's decided that perhaps it wasn't such a bad idea after all. But his children, the eldest of whom is Sam age 14, laughed...

The monopod was just challenging enough for me to deal with and feel a sense of achievement at mastering its technology. I learned how to assemble it and how to turn it on and re-remembered how bluetooth works. After initially failing to successfully operate it when I pushed the handy button, I discovered once again how important it is to read the directions. Actually, to be fair to myself, I had a bit of bother finding the directions -- but that was just a momentary lapse on the learning curve! I wish I had had it in Korea. However, it will be very useful on my upcoming trip to the States when all the family will be together. Though I can understand why it is banned in several high profile places!

Yes, fellow bloggers, I am now the proud, if laughed at, owner of what is generally known as a 'selfie stick'! Click!

Monday, March 16, 2015

From Not Writing, to travelling, to Mary

The great urge to write, to communicate never really left me as much as I left it! At least I think that is what happened. Maybe it is all part of coming to terms with grief. Partly that, I expect. I am uncomfortable writing about how things make me feel when the feelings are deeply felt. Overall, life really does go on and I don't want to dwell on matters of 'what might have been' or 'if only' -- so I don't.

I am so glad that winter is finally coming to an end. I have been busy making arrangements for The Man and me to go to the States in April. We leave the  Wednesday after Easter and return to the UK three weeks later. The joint memorial service for my brother and my mother will be on the 18th. Throughout the 3 weeks of our stay we will be seeing close family and friends and travelling from Boston to Vermont, to Connecticut, then to Washington, DC before returning north to Cape Cod and then again to Boston to fly back. The Man will do most of the driving!

The trip to DC will be a nostalgic visit. It is where I went to University, where I lived for 17 years and where I met The Man. I haven't been back there since the 1980s. I have not blogged much, if at all, about my life in the Nation's Capital. It was there I did most of my growing up, had my hippy days, made foolish mistakes, had wonderful times and met wonderful people.

Yesterday was Mothering Sunday/Mother's Day here in the UK. I learned something in church that in light of current affairs and our concerns with things ethnic, in particular, I found very interesting. The service yesterday included children in the Parish and the scouts. The vicar asked them how many times they thought Mary, the mother of Jesus, had been  mentioned in the New Testament. The children guessed figures from 'zero' to a thousand, but the one who came closest said '14'. My guess would have been '10'. The correct answer is '12'. Then the Vicar asked how many times Mary had been mentioned in the Koran. Nobody got that right! The answer is '36'! Not only is she mentioned three times as often in the Koran as in the New Testament, there is even a chapter in the Koran (Chapter 19) called 'Mary'. Food for thought...