Friday, November 15, 2002

15/11/02 Apostilles and other religious artifacts


November has come blustering in as usual: rainy and cold. Luckily we had the chimney swept a couple of weeks ago and I got the wood delivered and stacked a while back, so the poele in the kitchen is now doing its job. One thing that has to go into the list of things to be done in the not too distant future is getting a proper pipe stuck up from top to bottom of the old brick chimney and coming straight down into the kitchen where the poele can be hooked up to it: the current arrangement, which we inherited when we bought the place, involving twisty bits of tubing in the kitchen coming up into the bottom of the fireplace upstairs, is illegal, impractical, and unsafe. The problem is that the smoke, instead of heading up into the atmosphere and doing its job of polluting somewhere else and generally contributing to global warming, gets slowed down in the bendy bits and all the tar in it condenses on the inside of the tubing and chimney, where it sits as a chimney fire waiting to happen. Our chimnery-sweep (who used to be a fireman in Paris) has thus given me instructions to take the tubing down every two weeks during the winter and clean it out properly, which is a right pain but I'd rather do that than call the fire brigade.

Tess the cat walked out the front door on a Sunday afternoon a month ago and never came back: sad for all of us, and especially the kids. So now we've a replacement, a little black and white kitten called Mischief who likes to live on shoulders and terrorise the dog (in so far as it's possible for something about the size - and weight - of a box of tissues to terrorise a small hairy pony with the brain of a cockroach). She arrived a week ago, returning with Margo, kids & dog from Halloween at Pesselière.

Speaking of which reminds me that I really shall have to borrow Jacques (or at least his little van) for the next time I head up to Pesselière (probably Christmas) so as to be able to take up our old stove and its (never-been-used) range hood, to replace the centenarian gas range that's there now. 'Cos I got a new oven not so long ago, a great big stainless steel monster of a semi-professional stove that is my friend. Jeremy thinks it's a bit ugly and would like to paint it pretty colours. No comment.

Unconfirmed reports have it that our attic renovations have been pencilled in by the builder for January/February 2003. I just hope that we'll get a few weeks official notice so that we can pack away stuff on the first floor before they start doing electrical things there: and, incidentally, order the radiators that we'll need for the attic. And tell the bank that we want their money NOW.

Speaking of banks reminds me that our bank has once again managed to "mislay" a bank transfer: only 5000€ this time, I suppose I should be grateful. Six weeks after it should have come through I rang the bank and insisted that they check and lo! there it was: "waiting on written confirmation". You may well ask what is the use of electronic transfers if they have to wait for some scribe at the counterparty bank to carve a confirming note on a stone tablet to be delivered by monthly pony express before it's validated ... This time they've gone too far, the transfer was credited the day after my call (odd, that) but effective at that date, rather than six weeks earlier. They evidently take me for an idiot, but this particular idiot is changing banks.

And last Monday, with my client from the SNCF turning up on the Wednesday, was of course the day my office machine chose to wipe out the C drive. No great harm done, apart from the loss of all the e-mail for the past three months (that being when I started using Outlook instead of Outlook Express, and Outlook of course sticks everything - address books, calendar, mail and the kitchen sink - into one enormous file that it puts where it pleases, rather than where I thought I'd asked it to) and two or three days spent reinstalling NT and all the various programs I depend on. And at that I managed to get it wrong: by installing service pack 6 BEFORE installing networking (a note on the Microsoft CDs tells me this is not good) I've a system where I can neither remove the service pack (because IE 5.x, which is no longer present, depends on it) nor reinstall it (because it doesn't want to: my encryption settings are too high, at, variously, 36, 58 and 128 bits). Everything works except e-mail, so I can see I may well wind up (deliberately, this time) reformatting the C drive and trying to reinstall everything in the right order. Either that or I give up and migrate to W2K, which might fix my problems with e-mail (or then again, it might refuse to install, citing inappropriate encryption levels) but would leave me without an NT4 development system. Poohs.

On top of that, yet another registered letter arrived from the Ministry of Employment, Solidarity and Immigration, asking this time that I: return the enclosed birth certificates "revetus d'une apostille"; supply a marriage certificate established by the authorities in the place where the ceremony took place, in the language of the country, specifying our respective origins (and furnished with an apostille as well); supply all possible details on my father's birth, death and marriage (failing which it's the High Court at Nantes that gets called to do the necessary).

I rather feel that I shall contact the embassy, find out what an apostille is (Renaud thought it was some sort of hat, but I think it's either a female apostle or some sort of wax seal) and how much it costs, then write a courteous letter back to the effect that we don't do things that way in NZ and they'll have to be content with our official marriage certificate as it stands, and that by the way all the papers concerning my father were destroyed in the Napier earthquake. Don't know if it'll work, but it might buy a couple of months' silence.

Apart from all that, life's going not too badly. Malyon has a boyfriend (or had, last time anyone bothered to keep me up to date with such things) and yer usual adolescent problems (apart from acne, but maybe that'll come) which mainly seem to involve parents who don't understand anything. Quite right too: no-one actually pays me to understand other peoples' problems. Jeremy still seems to be enjoying rugby (gather that NZ lost against the UK this weekend?) as it's a great excuse for sliding around in mud, and he still wants to learn to play the bagpipes. According to Margo he's getting a chanter for Christmas, so I may have to spend more time in the garden.

Just in case any of you were wondering, the dog has not gotten any more intelligent.

Trevor & Margo

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