June 2016

June 2016 letter

The last 3 days of May was continuous rain without breaks. We had no flooding here but others in Europe had record breaking floods. And it rained very often until the last week of June. On the few day when it was not too wet, we mowed like mad to keep the jungle at bay. The last week of June has had lots of sun and just small showers.

Because we are still a little concerned about Harry, we have not tried to continue working on the garage roof but have continued doing stuff with the yard. He seems to have his strength back and no real problems.

One good tomato plant and one little one survived the freezing in May, growing back from the root. So my garden is 3 plants – 2 tomatoes and 1 tarragon – some garden! But we do have a some wild cherries and it looks like there will be walnuts.

So far we have had a little rabbit grazing every morning and a squirrel that visits a tree we can see from the bedroom. There are lots of birds and visiting cats.


Ciara visited from the 14th to the 20th. She found good ways to get across Paris even with the demos. Mme Fournier told her about a better way to get to the station in Nevers. It was so very good to see her. She had intended to do work via email when she was here but the email did work properly. We had a shopping trip to Bourges which was great for me. She is expecting and we are very happy for her and Chris.

The EU referendum result was disappointing. But we now have sun and some warmth and our health is OK so we are not down. We are learning to get along with Harry’s poor eye sight.

This month has: June letter and Ciara photo; The Plow – the one Grandpa used to break prairie; Memory of the first light bulbs – electricity of the farm; Are you worried about us after Brexit? - it is not a panic; A rant about ignoring the future – how people avoid thinking about climate change; Nerdview language – language we can’t understand; Cartoon – a philosophical one; June panel. Enjoy

The Plow

Cousin Bob Barmby has been looking after and repairing old farm equipment as a hobby cum museum volunteer. He recently send this picture to a number of the cousins. “Grandpa broke his homestead in Milestone with this plow and a team of oxen in 1898. Feel free to do anything you like with the picture. I found the plow in Franks junk pile several years ago and he said I could have it. I had my truck so took it home.” I believe the first breaking of the land was done with oxen that Great Uncle Tom Barmby bought in Indian Head and walked back to Milestone. If anyone knows different, please let me know. Grandpa and Tom and a England family half-brother of Grandma Barmby were the original homesteaders in the Milestone area.

Memory of the first light bulbs

Before the famous Saskatchewan Rural Electrification, Dad bought a windmill and generator. It was a small unit - we had electricity, not much but it was great. There were a handfull of electric bulbs installed. One in particular was in the kitchen and in the place where an oil lamp had hung. The lamp had make a soft hissing noise when it was pumped up and lit. I was a small child and found it quite odd to have silent light. Besides the few strategically placed lights, there were some outlets. A new cream separator and water pump that were electric appeared too, but they were used only when the wind was strongish. Later the proper electrical grid came and the farm was wired. The work was done by Mel Quale and I remember following his progress and collecting the little metal circles he punched out of the electrical boxes. I pretended they were coins. Then there were lights and outlets everywhere.

Are you worried about us after brexit?

It is sad to hear that the UK will (might) leave the EU. It is not that terrible for us but adds a little uncertainty. We can live in France because we are EU citizens and that is because we have British passports and Britain is in the EU. This is also involved in our health care coverage as far as the amount that the French government pays. There is little danger that we will have to leave France, but we will have to get a ‘carte de resident’ and that should not be too difficult. The negotiations about the exit will probably have some solution to health care coverage for UK citizens living abroad.

And, of course, it will not happen tomorrow. First the UK has to sort out who are going to be party leaders, whether they need a national election and decide to tell the EU they want to leave. We may be past Christmas before there is any actual negotiation between the UK and EU. There is up to two years to negotiate and so probably two and a half years will be involved.

There is also the possibility that the referendum will not result in leaving the EU. It is not binding and can be over-ridden by parliament, a newly elected government with a strong mandate, or a second referendum.

So if anyone is worried about what will happen to us such as having to leave France immediately, stop worrying.

Also you need not worry about the marshal law, strikes, demonstrations, football hoodigans etc. because we live in a very quite, rural backwater in France. It is quite a boring region really but we like it and are fairly safe from the upheavals.

A little quote to explain how the British press has reported the EU for years: I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. ‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.’ - Anthony Hilton

A rant about ignoring the future

Why are the middle-aged so resistant to change? The young and the old seemed to agree; 7 to 8 out of 10 think that clean energy and technology should be supported even if it costs more and are deeply concerned about climate change. The middle-aged group have lower agreement, a little more than 6 out of 10. The young unlike the middle-aged, are more likely to see economy and environment as not in competition and take a more global view. They are more likely to like regulation and planning. But this is still a disturbing picture for it means that there is a sizable minority 2 to 4 in 10 that really do not seem to see the writing on the wall at all.

If the world cannot deal with finding new homes for half the population of Syria, how are we going to deal with the population of Bangladesh when the delta there is completely flooded. The number of huge cities that are at sea level is frightening. Approximately half the world population lives along coasts. Talk of protecting borders will no longer work. There is an intense stubborn refusal to deal with positive feedback, blow-back, exponential growth, tipping points. There is a refusal to notice that time is running out and drastic measure are needed today not tomorrow and certainly not as far away as a decade.

If the young and the old can see what is happening then there is little reason for the middle-aged to not be aware of it. I seems to me like it is intentional ignorance, making sure that there is little chance of stumbling into some real facts that cannot be ignored. It is said that people who busy with their jobs, house, family, car do not have time to think about other things. I would think they would have some time to worry about their kids future, their jobs future, and what sort of house and transport will work in the future.

Nerdview language

There are signs, warnings and instructions meant for the general public, that are written in language that only real insider would understand. This is ‘nerdview’, ‘deformation professionelle’ in French. There were recently some examples in LanguageLog.

“Any permitted” says a baffling annotation on the return halves of some UK rail tickets. It apparently means “Be careful, because although unrestricted within certain parameters, this ticket is only valid at certain times and on certain routes.” If you buy an off-peak round-trip ticket between Edinburgh and Oxford, and get to Oxford down the East Coast via Newcastle and then across country via Birmingham, your return half may not be valid for a trip northward that starts before 9:30 a.m., or one that goes back from Birmingham up the West Coast via Manchester, Carlisle, and Glasgow. The claim that the ticket can be used on “any permitted” service would be completely clear to a specialist working on route pricing or timetable planning within the railway industry, but it is almost completely useless from the perspective of a naive traveler changing at Birmingham and trying to get to Edinburgh.

“USE BOTH LANES” says a road sign; but of course no individual driver can obey this. It takes the perspective of the road system designer, a perspective that an individual driver cannot be expected to have. “BOTH LANES OK FOR EXIT” would not be subject to the same criticism.

It is my impression that the world is littered with nerdview statements. They only become non-nerdview as we learn what they mean. I find computer language especially full the nerdview statements.


Here is a philosophical laugh.














June panel

And here is the Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry for June.


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About Janet Kwasniak

Retired pensioner, raised in Canada but UK citizen living in France, interested in Science and many other things.

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