Thursday, September 30, 2010


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Munson outdid himself today collecting burs around the farm. I was tempted to let him put up with them for a few days, but the longer they sit on his coat, the further they work themselves down into the undercoat or tail. It took me over an hour to remove all these, lacerating my wrists with the abrasions from the bur spines.

Bouquet of old electrical plugs

I’ve been helping Mark,our electrician, on his last day here until his return in November. At the conclusion of his work I got my own flushing toilet and hot and cold water supply. There was also quite a bit of work running power sockets to various rooms and repairing switches so they’d be safe the children. The main house is so big and echo-y: I heard Munson exploring upstairs and it sounded just like a grown man walking around. On the other hand Mark’s “singing” at the other end of the house has removed any curiosity I might have had about what Neil Diamond songs might sound like if covered by Bob Dylan: Hmmm.

Brent and Jean arrived with all the kids today for their first night on the farm. Tomorrow they’ll be introducing them at local schools with Monday being the first proper school day.

My carte-grise (vehicle registration papers) has finally arrived after about eight weeks of valiant struggle. The online service had been sitting on my application form for weeks until my landlady Anna called them on my behalf. For some reason they found it impossible to express in email  that they needed me to send an additional document from the garage where I’d purchased the car. I have one more step now, which is to get new plates for the car as the ministry who issue the carte-grise have changed the registration number. This was something that you had to just “know” as the correspondence accompanying the new document doesn’t mention the change or the statutory requirements that ensue.

It’s a bit surprising that in a country that demands so much paperwork from clients for every transaction, that there is so little useful explanatory information provided in advance. It’s as if you are required to fail the first one or two times you attempt something instead of streamlining the process to waste less time and resources. There’s no moral lesson to be learnt from these failures except the hollow victory gained by some fonctionnaire telling you that you have done the wrong thing (again). I’ve been having conversations with Brent about educating his kids, and providing the right mix of inspiration and incentive for self-motivated learning. No child would learn well in an environment where they follow directions perfectly but are failed repeatedly because the rules provided are not the rules in force.

Recently there has been a spate of major national strikes or grèves over the French government’s intention to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. It occurred to me that if the bureaucratic messes here were sorted out, then everyone could get their working lives over in at least two less years…. But there are burs in every system….

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