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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time Marches On

May 8th is VE Day here in Europe, marking the day of Germany’s unconditional surrender in WWII, in 1945. It’s a national holiday here in France and what I find most touching is that villages across the nation celebrate those soldiers who gave their lives in the wars.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Need a Vacation!

All too soon the plumber was wrapping up his last day before leaving on vacation for two weeks. In France, vacations are inviolable, and virtually everyone takes at least two weeks in August, sometimes the entire month. I was arguably lucky my guy was only going away for half the month. It took until 8pm that Friday to finish doing what he needed to do to get my shower operable. I was grateful he hadn't insisted on leaving at 5pm.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Perpetual Plumbing Travails

When I last left off concerning my plumbing travails mid-renovation (that was last year and I'm still in mid-renovation — c'est la vie en France!) I had a newly installed shower with running water, however, the plumber had left before I'd realized he'd failed to install the holder for the shower head. Exhaling, I resolved to make the best of the hopefully short-term lack of a showerhead prop. I stripped down, eager to experience my lovely, large walk-in shower for the first time. I dipped my fingers in. Nope, still cold. I waited patiently for several moments for the hot water  and waited, and waited. Odd, I thought. The new hot water heater was just overhead. Ten minutes later, I still had nothing but cold water. I was surprised that the steam coming from my ears wasn’t sufficient to heat the water.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Laissez-faire Nous Lifestyle

It was with considerable trepidation that I returned to my blog to see just how long it’s been since I'd added anything. Although I was relieved to see it hadn’t been an entire year as I’d feared, I was only missing that marker by a matter of weeks. Where does the time go?I

(I know where it goes. I spend so much time on the computer editing other people's books for publication that I can't bear to spend another minute typing, whether on my own manuscript or my blog. It's all I can do sometimes to keep up on e-mails. I resolve to do better...soon.)

Indeed it’s a year to be late, at least here in France. When I’d returned in late March, after having missed a flood-ridden winterit was pretty rainy in the Algarve but nothing like they’d suffered herewe had two glorious weeks of spring followed by about seven weeks of solid rain. It felt more like seven months.

Planting starts earlier here than I’m used to, coming from the NY area, but instead of putting out flowers and veggies in March and April, we were forced to wait until mid-June for seedlings. Only today did my first cherry tomato hint at orange and my squash, although threatening to take over and infiltrate the neighboring garden, have yet to produce a single bloom. I’ve never had good luck with peppers in the States before so I’m delighted to see up to 13 fruits on a single plant at this stage, and about 16 baby eggplants (aubergines, as they’re known here) on my first and only plantin a pot no less. 

The only thing fully harvestable, aside from lettuces (which bolted as soon as they’d started to leaf out, thanks to temps shooting up into practically unheard of 90s once the rain stopped) are the carrots, which look riotously happy in their tiny four-foot-square raised bed. Those at least I got seeded before the rains came and they didn't seem to mind so much. I pulled the first ones today to make a carrot tarragon dish for tomorrow’s picnic.

I remember my first foray into veggie gardening, after having bought my first house in 1996, inspired by my next-door neighbor Janis (whose husband Milt only half-kiddingly complained that she'd given up some edible gardening in favor of flowers, after having seen me go crazy). I bought these wonderful Earth boxes, not being sure how great my soil was, and proudly told Janis I'd planted zucchini. 

"Do you think half a dozen seedlings is enough for one person?" I asked. Janis, to her credit, kept a straight face and just said, "Oh, that should be plenty." I had grated zucchini in the freezer for three years.

I will endeavor shortly to resume the aborted tale of last summer’s renovation, which, in true French style, isn’t anywhere near finished, although thankfully most of what remains is cosmetic, such as replacing missing stones in the walls. However, I have an operational kitchen now, after having waited for three years, and it has proved well worth the wait, as has my new bathroom which is blissfully modern and clean, despite ongoing plumbing problems, the legacy of the disastrous plumber I ended up firing after having paused my blog posting. But that's fodder for another post...soon, I promise. 

In the meantime, the temps have dropped from the 90s to 80, promising to rise again in two days, so the garden is calling...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Plumbing Doldrums

The idea had always been to get the bathroom fully operational so that we could then start dismantling the old bathroom to convert it into a small kitchen. Much like the clutter-bug who starts organizing one corner of the house only to get distracted by messes in other areas to where nothing gets accomplished by the end of the day, a dozen different jobs have begun and nothing’s been finished. This is the way my plumber operates.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Rather Taxing Life in France...

Work was either blessedly or cursedly slow for me in May, June and July, depending on how you look at it. This gave me some anxious moments as, once I'd committed to going forward with the work on the house and realized I would fall perilously low in France-based capital, the social security bureau of France finally got their act together and accepted my application to get into the French medical and pension system and hit me with an estimated assessment for 2010, 2011 and 2012 of €30,000.  

When I regained consciousness several days later,

Monday, August 13, 2012

What the...?

When the plumber arrived, I felt a frisson of excitement—this was really starting to happen!

The garage, as I showed him, was already full of items awaiting their new homes: a new hot water heater, three sinks and faucets (a real luxury when you consider I’ve been living the past five months with just one viable sink, in the kitchen), a new glass shower and shower pan, a dishwasher, oven, sliding closet doors and rails for my first ever closet in this house, and a slew of cabinets from IKEA in varying stages of assembly, including the vanity and medicine chest for the new bath.