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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.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Inching Forward with the Impending Renovation

After much searching, pleading with anyone and everyone I knew, and multiple phone calls, finally I had found my plumber. Not only that, he spoke a very little English (about on par with my French) and he had an electrician he could recommend.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monsieur, are you thinking of me?

I have been astonished at how time consuming it has proved to not only get names of plumbers and electricians that locals actually feel confident recommending but how difficult it is to actually get quotations. Had I known four months ago that I'd only just be finalizing this now, I think I would have given up.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wildlife Here in the Brenne, in the Land of the Lakes

I thought I'd take a welcome break from coughing up stone dust (kicked up by these admittedly minor renovations as some of these houses go), and share a few nature photographs taken by Peter Street

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

And We're Off...

The much anticipated (and arguably equally dreaded) renovation work has begun.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

No Water Shortage Here

Going back to when I first returned home from Portugal, it was two days before my birthday.

No sooner than I had gotten in the door and turned the water back on, I discovered that my neighbors hadn't exaggerated when they said we'd had an extraordinary, truly unheard of cold spell during my absence, several straight weeks of temps getting down to -17C/2F.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Day in the Life of...

Well, it's easily three months since I bid adieu to Portugal (and apparently my good intentions to update this blog weekly.) But it has been a relatively busy three months.

Several people have asked me over the past months (okay, it might be past years) to describe what a typical day is for me here in France. I've hesitate simply because when you work from home like I do, it's not terribly exciting. I mean, the work can be exciting for me but hardly bears up in the telling.

But just before I'd left for Portugal this past January, I'd sent what was intended to be a quick synopsis to a friend here on evening who'd asked how my day had gone:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Adeus a Portugal; Bonjour encore, la France

Our six weeks in the western end of the Algarve in Portugal just flew by, one glorious day after another where I more often than not sat inside working instead of enjoying the sun but was still happy to be there. We did take the occasional walks together on the beach, my friend and I and our brother-and-sister dogs. The promised heated pool never materialized, sadly, as there had been a cold spell when we first arrived and they just couldn’t get it up to temperature fast enough to make it cost-effective—we were only paying to heat it once it got up to the promised temp, which it never did, despite trying for about 10 days. Still, that didn't stop us from sitting around it, soaking up the sun during the warm afternoons.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bienvenue à Portugal

God has a sense of humor. Or at least He has a way of drawing contrasts in order to amplify our appreciation of certain creature comforts that we may have been taking for granted.

Saturday morning, my friend and I packed the car with our suitcases and the dogs and began our seven-week sojourn with a four-day amble down to the southwest corner of the Algarve in Portugal, spending our first two nights at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, by Biarritz, followed by another overnight seven or so hours south of that, before arriving here in Lagos yesterday evening.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

La Nouvelle Année the French Way

This year I received what I've been told is an inordinate honor — an invitation to spend New Year's Eve at the home of a French family over dinner. Even to be invited for simple aperitifs on any given day is an honor if you're a foreigner (or ex-pat, as the Brits prefer to refer to themselves) but a formal holiday?