Monthly Archives: September 2011

No Reimbursements, Honey

Today when I got up, I wasn’t sure what I would be working on. I asked Dude and he said that he wanted to do some more touch ups with the dry wall (no thanks) and finish. Two of the walls that we drywalled are getting really close to being finished and ready for primer. The problem is that those same two walls developed a crack in one of the seams and now Dude had to go scrape them out, put more dry wall tape on it and re-drywall. No he’s going to have to go back over it a few more times before it’s ready. A small but painful set back, none the less. He also said he wanted to paint the wood in the garage.

Each day we start on the house Dude proceeds to tell me what he wants to accomplish for the day. Mind you, this is a list that could be done lickity-split if we were in The States, only we’re not. We’re in France. Nothing runs like clockwork here and you would have thought we would have gotten that by now. In the back of our minds we know it, we just don’t want to accept it. So each “work on the house” day that comes our way, he tries to make a list of what he wants to accomplish and then we see at the end of the day how much of it DIDN’T get done. At first we were really disappointed, but now we’re just use to it. Even so, the frustration level in our house is getting really high.

Well today was another, “we tried, but failed” day.

Dude said that while he was fixing the drywall, I needed to go to Point P to get some paint for the garage. It’s all cleaned up now and the little buggies are gone, dead, or whatever happens to them when they get sprayed. Dude said we needed to paint the beams for added protection. They were never even coated with sealer or anything to protect them. Since he was doing all this work to get things right, we might as well go that extra mile.

So he sent me off to Point P with two instructions: 1) get paint that is brown 2) get about 2 gallons. Now I like Point P for some things. Really big material things. The problem with the small stuff is that they don’t have enough and they are super, ridiculous on their prices. I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap, but I figured that since he was calculating and always talking about prices (he knows them really well now) that he was just biting the bullet on this one cuz he wanted it done now and cuz Point P is the only DIYer store within miles of us.

I set off to the store. When I got there I made a bee line for paint (because every time I go in there I’m the only woman in that dang place and there’s always a bunch of construction guys hanging around). Talk about uncomfortable!  So I went over to the paint and even though they didn’t have much to choose from, I was thoroughly confused. I stood there looking at what they had and eventually decided on one that was for wood and was called “Bruin”. If I’m not mistaken that’s pretty much brown, which Dude wanted, and the color on the top of the can looked all right to me. The problem was that they only had two cans and I needed a bit more. Dude said that about 3,8L was close to a gallon and their stupid cans were only 2,5L and there were only 2 of them! That’s the other thing I hate about getting materials here, the stupid “outta stocks”. These guys should be shot. A store should never be outta stock of anything. Dummies. Since all I could get was two containers, that’s what I did. I figured I would just come back another day since the project wouldn’t be finished today any way (if we were keeping to the norm).

So, I paid my exorbitant, ridiculous, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious price for it and left. When I got home I put the two cans in the garage and went upstairs to make some lunch. Just as my food was about ready, Dude comes up and asked if everything was fine and if they had water-based paint. What the heck?? Where did this water-based paint stuff come in at?? I was told 2 gallons and brown, baby.

I said I didn’t know if it was water based on not and that when he sent me off it wasn’t part of the criteria. Dude said that was what he needed. So downstairs I went to grab one of the containers. He took a look at it and said that it was oil based cuz you had to clean the brushes with white spirit. What the heck is white spirit? He was like, it’s a chemical to clean your brushes with. If it was water based then you would just clean your brushes with water. Well, I had never heard of white spirit or the fact that I had to get water based paint. Now he tells me!? I got acetone and paint thinner upstairs. Wouldn’t that do?

He also said he wanted water based cuz he just sprayed/injected the beams with a water based insecticide. Good grief. I wish he would have told me this before I went. I am not a construction guru. Then we had to argue about it for like 30 minutes.

I said I would take the paint back, get my money back and go elsewhere for what we needed and for the amount we needed. I grabbed the containers and the receipt and off I went to Point P.

When I got to the store the same guy was there that rang me up an hour before that. I told him that the paint I bought wasn’t what we needed and I wanted to return it and get my money back. He looked at his computer and then proceeded to tell me that he could not reimburse me my money. I was not in good mood before this and I certainly wasn’t arriving at a better one right about then. I ask him why not and he said that if you spend over a certain amount, the computer doesn’t allow for reimbursements. I would just have to go and get the product I wanted. I told him that I wanted to speak the manager cuz this was ridiculous! I was just here 1 hour ago and paid cash for it! His manager came over and said it was a “no go” that I had to go get another product. Great. Now I have to add another store to my list of “I am not going there anymore”. I was disappointed since all the other times I was at Point P they were so helpful. They’re always helpful when taking your money. Forget it when they gotta give it back.

I told the guy to show me the same thing I bought but in water base. He took me over to the products and gave me what I wanted. Guess what?? They only had 2 containers of that, as well! Is that like the going number or something?! I asked him when there were going to get more in and if it would be this year (I really did say that cuz by now my hormones had taken over). He said they would have more next week.

Sure they would. I didn’t believe it for one minute.

They guy at the desk did the exchange and since the new paint I bought was a bit cheaper (not by much and certainly nothing to write home about), I was entitled to an ‘avoir’ which in French means a credit. I didn’t want a credit cuz that meant that I had to come back to this stupid place and use it! “That’s all we can do, Madame”, is what I got as I left. Yeah, bite me buddy and thanks for rien de tout!

I took my two itty, bitty, expensive cans of water-based, brown paint home to Dude and told him what happened. He just looked at me with that, “Why does everything have to be such a hassle in France” look. I said, “Cuz it’s France, that’s why”. That seems to be the only explanation I can give. If I find a new one, I’ll be sure to tell him.

Lastly, for the icing on the cake, he says to me as he is painting the garage, “This isn’t really brown. This is ugly. It looks stupid”. Ahhhhh! Just paint, Dude!

For the record, the paint looks just fine. I actually like it. Besides, he’s going to re stucco the garage and he can use a nice tint to complement the color. I think it’s fine so he’s just going to have to live with it. Period.

Oh yeah, we had to argue about that one for another 30 minutes.

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The Brangelina Stalkers

Remember back when I posted about the fresh fruit stand and I mentioned that we found it whilst on our way to stalking Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?

Well, I seem to remember promising a story and here it is.

First off, I claim to have absolutely nothing to do with this stalking stuff, it was ALL Dude’s idea. Even though I’m in absolute love with Hugh Jackman and Anthony Hopkins and I’ve put Celine Dion in a category that no one else can ever get near, I will 100% guarantee that I have never stalked them! It’s not really my thing! So, on this particular outing it was complete guilt by association. Will that hold up in court?

It all started one day while reading the online news, Dude found out that Brad and Angie (yes-we’re on a first name basis) live within a distance of about 20 minutes from us (give or take). The day following this most awesome discovery in his opinion, happened to be a Saturday. Since Saturdays are our family road trip days (until we started the house renovation) he decided that it was going to be the day to find them and maybe get that all-so-much-coveted photo. You know, for bragging rights.

That morning he got up and started mapping out the day on how we were going to find their new chateau they happened to be leasing in the south of France for the next three years. Once he found that out, it was time to plug the coordinates into the GPS. We packed a lunch and were off.

We found the town closest to where they were located, but he was having a terrible time pin-pointing exactly where their place was. Could it be because it was surrounded by hills and trees and an electric fence?! He put in the GPS of where we were and it said we were getting close. Now all we had to do was fine the correct road (there were 3 potential ones) to take. Then, to our dismay, it started to drizzle. Oh great, now we were really gonna get noticed especially if we wanted to get out of the car and hunt around. All we had with us were bright green and blue umbrellas! Warning: Don’t call us to be your private detectives.

The first road we took led us farther away from their place according to the GPS so we turned around and headed back. The next road seemed to get us closer but it always looked like their place was way off the beaten path, which makes total sense. Why would they rent a chateau that just anyone could walk up to and knock on the front door? Duh!!

As we got closer (per the GPS) we started to drive slower so we could look over fences and gaze down long driveways and tree lined streets. I swear this really happened. A few times we even pulled over and double checked the GPS, got out of the car and took a look around. We just couldn’t find it.

By this time Tinki was even getting a bit interested so she Googled the info on the chateau and it seemed we were headed in the right direction so we just kept going. Since the road was a bit windy, the GPS would show us closer then farther away, then closer again. By this time I was about ready to say forget it since I was figuring the dang chateau was going to be under some crazy locked down security and not even visible by the street. Dude kept say, “Oh come on. We’re so close and maybe we’ll get to see them!” So we continued on.

Low and behold, we made it to a gate with a guard station and said to ourselves, “That’s it”! We pulled over to the side of the road. We took a look at the GPS and from where the guard station was situated and the angle of the road leading into the hills it was a perfect match.

Dude decided to turn the car around and what does he do?! He turns it around in the entrance before the guard gate! I never saw a gate keeper jump up so fast to see what was going on. At that moment, I so wanted to get out of the car and ask the guard, “I’m looking for Fight Club. Do you know where it is?” Then I remembered that the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club, so I let it go.

By the look on the guard’s face as we were pulling up next to the gate, I got a bit worried and didn’t want to get arrested. Spending time in French prison for stalking stars is not something I really want to experience. We hightailed it outta there while Tinki waved ‘bye’ to the guard. Dude was like, “We totally found it. That’s it! I just know it!”

The funny part about this is that in the course of our day (we did travel around to see some sights) we ended up on the back side of Brad and Angie’s chateau and found a little dirt road that leads to another entrance. It just so happens that work is being done on it and the contractors had all kinds of signs up to tell the world about it. So much for keeping your celebrity existence quiet around these parts. So what does Dude end up doing? Stopping the car to check his GPS and by gosh we were right smack on the other side of the hill from where we were before near the guard gate. The reason you can’t see the dang place is because it is completely surrounded by hills, trees and vineyards. I believe that Brad and Angie chose an excellent location away from prying eyes and peeping Dudes.

Even though Dude didn’t get to see Brangelina, he seemed satisfied with the fact that he had actually scoped out their place and knew where it was. I also think he’s super proud of the fact that we live so close to them, too, cuz for a while after this he kept telling every body.

Excerpt from Conversations:

Inquiring Minds: “So where do you guys live?”

Dude: “In the south of France. In Provence.”

Inquiring Minds: “Really? That’s so cool! Where at?”

Dude: “Not far from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Yup-they live, like, 20 minutes from us!”

I do admit that I think it is kind of cool and that Dude thinks so, too. I never would have guessed that he would have thought it was cool enough to go and try to find them, but whatever! After all these years of being married to the guy he still surprises me. Since that day, we haven’t been back to see if they’re home and if we might borrow some sugar or something.  I think Dude was content enough to know he had found it. Although, every once in a while we see this crazy looking helicopter flying around our area and Dude always says, “Hey look! It’s Brad and Angie. They must be coming home”.

I’d like to put it out there that if Brad and Angie are reading this, please don’t call the cops on us, we really are harmless. Also, please don’t come after us yourselves, I’ve seen Tomb Raider and I know Angie can handle a gun real well and I’m not about to piss her off. Another thing, I did mention Fight Club so, yeah, I don’t want Brad after me, either. In case you two are feeling your normal giving selves, though, we would love for you guys to come on over with all your kids.  You see we have this remodel we’re doing and we could use all the help we could get. With 6 kids, I think we could get it finished in no time!

Feel free to drop me a line either of you. Like I said, I’ve seen your movies and I know you two got moves and that’s exactly what we need to get our place in tip top shape 🙂

More Scary Stuff

Today was so wonderful in Provence (weather wise) that I just had to rush home and do some house clean up outside. I mean it, too. I was so excited that the weather has been just gorgeous here that I wanted to be outside instead of inside. I made up my mind that this evening I was going to clean up the garden. I felt like I had just done this, but with fall approaching (someday soon) they leaves in the garden are beginning to pile up and it was a good excuse to be outside, but still feel like I was contributing to working on the house.

Dude decided to give up on drywall mud and finish (I suspect he needed a break from the same ol’ same ol’) and he started some much needed work in the garage. We both have been feeling like we are in the movie “Groundhog Day” since every day we work on the house and it’s always the same. So today we felt change was good.

My evening started off with opening our mail box and finding a large, black cat inside. I kid you not there he was all hunched up and looking really scared in my mail box! It seems that Dude forgot to turn the key to lock it and the cat decided it was a great place to nap. Well, you should have seen the look on the cat’s face when I opened the door. His eyes were as big as saucers and he just looked at me all dazed and scared (probably because my eyes were as big as saucers at the sight of him and probably because I screamed rather loudly when I opened the mail box). Fast as lightening, he jumped out of the box, hit the stone wall straight on and fell on the ground. Then he tried to run away, but he couldn’t get any tread (I suppose it’s because he was now brain damaged) and he just kept trying so he could get out of the yard. Finally he was able to get his footing back and off he went. By that time, I was totally cracking up at what had just happened. Never in a million years would I think to have found a cat in my mailbox! I told Dude what happened and he looked at me for a second like I was making it up then he just started laughing cuz he said he was picturing the sight of this cat not getting any tread to run off. I told Dude to please be sure that he locks the mail box next time. There’s no telling what I might find in there, if not.

After that, garden work went superbly. The evening was just wonderful and it felt so good to be outside after months of either being cooped up in the office or at the house. All the leaves and weeds were bagged up in no time and I was even impressed to find no food in the yard from my neighbors. Maybe they read my post on their bad behavior…

I then went to help Dude in the garage. He had managed to clean it out really well and started to work on getting rid of the old electrical and phone lines that had been run ages ago, like when the dinosaurs ruled the Earth. We made some new electrical and water pipe discoveries which continuously have us dumbfounded on how this house even manages to give us power and water.

 

 

He started taking some things apart and investigating it some more and found that the main power to the house is also hooked to a piece of wood (just like our other lovely piece of “I don’t know what it is” electrical that I mentioned in another blurb of mine).

Then we took a look inside the plastic box just below it and found a hodge podge of confusion. He said he doesn’t know what the heck he is going to do with.

We also haven’t managed to find how the hot water tank it hooked up, yet. He really needs to run a new panel and get this place up to speed and out of the realm of fire hazard. I don’t want to have to pull this handle which tells me to do so in case of fire. Someone in this house sure thought some thing wasn’t quite right or I am sure this wouldn’t exist!

Another reason why he had to clean out the garage is that we discovered that we have these nasty little things called wormwoods and they are eating our wooden beams in the garage. This could potentially be dangerous since those beams are holding up the second story floor of the house. A couple of weeks ago he purchased this heavy duty woodworm killer liquid stuff. Today was the day he was going to conquer those pesty buggers. So right now, as I am writing, he is down there with his professional sprayer getting every inch of wooden beams possible. Now the company we bought this junk from is in the UK and they promise that if you do it right, you will be wormwood free. They had better be right. I don’t want to wake up one morning and find that my kitchen is now in the garage.

Oh, the joys of owning an old French house. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something else pops up. I had never heard of woodworms before buying this place. I could do without the extra education. Sometimes learning new stuff is not always the best.

Hopefully I will be woodworm free in the morning. I had better go down and see how Dude is doing and possibly prepare for a short bug funeral.

Pretty In Pink

Well, it’s that time again, time for another episode of French Fashion Faux pas. I’m actually am a bit fond of this one cuz you know what it tells me? Is tells me that this guy is comfortable with himself and I like that in a man.

He’s ALL about pink, now isn’t he?! I don’t know about you, but not even my daughters would wear shorts that shade of pink.

He has a ton going on, too.

Let’s break it down now, shall we? First and secondly, that pink bandana and pink shorts. These are like, baby girl, pink, too. A color a mom would bring her first newborn daughter home in from the hospital after she had 5 boys! I know that I personally have never owned anything that shade before. I believe it’s even too feminine for me!

Now, let’s take a look at that bag he’s holding. What’s going on with that?! It looks like there may be a tad bit of pink going on there, as well, and maybe even a bit of purple. I see he likes to live dangerously.

Of course, he’s got my personal favorite, the man purse. We all know how much I love that accessory for men! He went all out on that, too since it’s as big as my purse. I’m just disappointed that is isn’t some other shade of pink 😦

Then to top it off, he’s wearing a white, wife beater shirt! That’s hil-air-ious! Nothing says manly like a wife beater. Love it! I guess that’s the reason why he feels comfortable in his pinkness, no one messes with a guy wearing a wife beater no matter what else he’s sporting!

I can hear him now, “I’m feeling a bit feminine today, I’d better throw in some masculinity for balance!”

In all honesty, folks, I really do love this stuff because these European guys will wear anything and not care. Most guys in the states (not all-mind you) are too caught up in their masculinity and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing pink (unless they live in Frisco 🙂 ). I like a man with a touch of femininity to him (personally that’s one of the reasons I married Dude, cuz he’s a Dude but with a chick mix to him).

So you know what I say about men and pink?  I say “Go for it”, especially if you want to be featured on my blog!

Putting Some Finishing Touches On – Well, Sort Of

Today I had wanted to have an outing. I didn’t have any particular place in mind that I wanted to go. I just wanted a day away from renovation before the weather really turns nasty.

Unfortunately, I woke to the dreariness of dark clouds and looming rain. I took a quick look at the weather online and it told me in no uncertain terms that it was going to rain all afternoon. Dang. Why does it have to be on the weekend?! I could care less about nasty weather days when I have to go to work, but please, the weekend? Someone up there needs to get his priorities straight!

So instead of my sight-seeing trip I took the opportunity to make a quick run to the market. For some odd reason, Casino has decided that they are now going to be open on Sundays until noon. That doesn’t seem very French of them, but it’s convenient. I normally don’t go to the market on Sundays. With all stores open in the states every day of the week I’m actually the rare person who likes the fact that on Sundays everything is closed. It seems “traditional”.

Today, I did bend the rules and headed out for a couple of items. It seems that the French are totally excited about the fact that they can actually shop for a few hours on Sundays, cuz this store was packed! I swear it was near impossible to find a parking spot. Who would have thought?

So I headed in, fought my way around to find my 12 items and then proceeded to find the shortest line possible to get outta there. You know, on a Sunday morning with limited time, the French tend to drive their shopping carts like they do their cars. They run into you, cut in front of you and park the cart right smack in the middle of the aisle and don’t even bother to move when they see that you’re coming and need to get through. Maybe this idea of shopping on a Sunday morning wasn’t such a brilliant idea.

I finally made it out of the store and back home. Since my day was ruined by the weather, Dude and I just decided to continue on with the renovation. For me I was limited, though, which is another reason why I needed a day out. See, the other day while continuing to scrape the glue off of the floor (no Adrian and George the scraper blades for the Milwaukee saw didn’t work, but thanks for sending them our way it was worth a shot), I ended up doing something to my arm just near the elbow and now I have only limited use of it until it heals. I have no idea what I did, but it was enough to keep me up most of the night in pain and I’ve been having trouble picking up and holding anything that has even a small amount of weight like a full glass of water. I just can’t do it. So now I’m sort of outta commission which made my day kind of boring.

We are still fooling around with dry wall mud and finish and are on like our 6th coat for the second story. Well, Dude said we needed to put another coat on in the hallway, kitchen and the downstairs walls. So guess what my job was today??? I got to hold the stupid spot light (with my good arm) like I was a human Statue of Liberty or something. Yup, folks, all day I just stood around and held this light so Dude could put the finish coat on the walls. I’m talking hours people. The plus side is I found another job that I really wouldn’t do for a living. I hope my arm heals soon cuz to be quite honest I didn’t really have any fun. The day just trudged by. I think I would rather have gone back to the market and fought with the French over a cheese wheel instead of being lamp girl all day.

On the bright side, the master bedroom is now ready for primer paint. Yippey! Now all we need to do is get the hallway, stairwells, kitchen and 3rd bedrooms ready for primer. Okay so we still have far to go, but at least getting the master bedroom done is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully my arm will heal before the next round so I can feel a little more productive than I did today. I also hope the weather is nicer next weekend (the weather site said it was, so they better be right) cuz I’m getting closer and closer to losing it. We’ve been doing the same exact thing in this house for months now and it’s time to move on in my book, even if it’s just putting on primer I would be jumping for joy. Also, the smell of drywall mud is starting to get to me.

Well, next on the list, more finish work. Unfortunately, that stuff smells just as bad as dry wall mud!

The Ancient Cemetery of Tourves

The village of Tourves happens to be one of my favorites in this region. We’ve been there several times during this past year (the last time was for the Bouchon de Tourves which I wrote about last month).

This time around, I went to visit the ancient cemetery. If you don’t know it’s there it’s difficult to find. There are no signs to it and you can’t spot it from the center of town. The first time we went, my family happened upon it quite by accident. You see, when we go to a town for a bit of sight-seeing, I’m famous for just wandering off on any path, dirt road or steps I can find no matter how overgrown or obscure they are. My line is always, “Dude! Look! I wonder were that goes. Let’s find out”. Then off I go. I admit that this has gotten me into some trouble a few times by wondering onto private property or down roads that take us nowhere and then we have to turn around and go back, much to the dismay of Tinki who is not as adventurous as I am.  It’s all worth it, though, for those wonderful, hidden treasures that I have found on many occasions. Then I’m in heaven, no doubt about it.

This day in Tourves was such an occasion since we had gone there just to wander around the town. Not to see anything in particular. The cemetery is located just above a small parking area in the center of town. As you leave the parking area and head towards the center, you have to walk through a small park. Just as you exit the park and are about to enter the town, there is a stairway to the left just at the edge of the park. It looks like it goes nowhere really, like it might be just a way to get to some village houses. Me, being the curious one, ventured to go take a look that day. Right as we reached the top of the stairs the vision of an old church was upon us. I know that I did a tremendous gasped when I saw it because nothing pleases me more than the site of ancient ruins and beautiful, long-forgotten buildings and churches. I relish at the site of them, for that is why I came to France.

I do not know when this church was constructed or how long it had been abandoned. It is not a large church, either, but built very simply. There are no signs to tell you the history of it and there are no plaques stating that it is an historical monument. In fact, there’s nothing to tell the visitors to the town that it even exists at all (which is a total shame in my opinion).

The church and its surrounding land have not been taken care of for some time. The main entrance to the church is locked and there used to be a side entrance which has fallen into ruin. There is a gated area which is locked up, as well, and you can’t pass through. It’s a part of the cemetery you aren’t able to explore.

The part that I was most interested in was the left side area of the church. This was also a cemetery and something out of a Hollywood film. The tombstones had fallen into disrepair. Many were covered with overgrown plants and trees, others had fallen over and broken, and still others stood as they always had, but what was written on them could no longer be made out due to the rain and weather over time wearing all traces away. There were, however, a hand full which you could still make out the names and dates and still others that were made with intricate care and so different from the normal headstones of solid cement one usually sees.

I was in heaven. I don’t know how much time had passed as we walked from headstone to headstone trying to make out any information we could. I was completely fascinated and kept venturing further back onto the grounds for more discoveries. Some of the areas were so overgrown that headstones were lost and we really had to dig around for them. We had to be careful in some areas not to trip on the ones that had fallen over. Still others had been fabricated directly into the side of the church wall or the wall of the surrounding courtyard. These held the most fascination for me since I had never seen anything like that before.

I was at crossroads on whether or not I was sad about the state of this wonderful find, or if I felt is should be this way because the site of it was simply amazing.  If it were to be all cleaned up and proper, it might not hold the same fascination for me.

I longed to go behind the gate that was locked up tight to see the other tombstones, but to no avail. I had to simply be satisfied with the photographs I had taken.

The church sits near a large area of rocks on which a statue has been placed. She overlooks the church and cemetery and is near impossible to climb to. Dude did try and he got up there pretty close, but I was content to have my feet firmly planted. The climb didn’t look to safe.

I could have stayed in this place for hours wondering around and reading and rereading the headstones. It was so peaceful, but we had other sites in the town to see so we took our leave. I assure you the next time I am in Tourves I will revisit this place. Things like this never get old for me. After all, like I said, that’s why I’m here.

If you want to see more photos of The Ancient Cemetery of Tourves they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.

Share and Share Alike

Well, I have to give a big, giganto shout out to Keith Eckstein. Today my blog was mentioned on his site (and boy was it a HUGE mention) and I am totally thrilled and consider myself fortunate that my babblings for therapy were noticed. I couldn’t belived all that Keith wrote about me and my snippets. I think he put more words and energy into writing about me and my blog than I do myself! I better get with it! I truly feel loved an appreciated and just plain happy. Thanks so much Keith you made my year and I sincerely mean that 🙂

Keith’s site is called A Taste of Garlic and to quote in his own words, “I review, share and promote other people’s Life in France experiences as described in their own blogs and websites”.

Keith has been blogging for a couple of years now and I have to say I have gotten a wealth of information and a whole list of blogs that I love to read thanks to his site which is filled to the brim with more “anything and everything French” than you can possible imagine. He site has achieved the popularity that would make all bloggers jealous and rightly so. It is tout simplement, amazing.

His reviews of blogs and sites also extends to French Books that are a must read, links to French Market Days, French Public Holidays (very important to know), French Saints Days (in case you were wondering what to name that new baby of yours) and the best Gites in Brittany, amongst other things.

Also, in honor of the fact that Keith and I both have an affinity to that wonderful car called the 2CV, I have posted a new picture of one that I took the other day while flying down the autoroute. Here’s to you Keith, thanks for the mention.

Please check out A Taste of Garlic. Warning: you could be there for hours due to ridiculous amount of info and fun you will have. You can also find it in my blogroll, if you choose to go that route.

Happy reading and I hope you have as much fun as I do and maybe you’ll even find a few blogs that will tickle your fancy!

Wasting Time In Marseille Is Never Fun

Well today was another fun day in Marseille, NOT. The family had to go to the prefecture to change the address on our Titre de Sejour (our pass to live in France). It’s the law.

First of all, the prefecture is not a fun place to be. If any of you have gone, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t had to experience it let me tell you I would rather clean my neighbor’s bathroom than go there.

Second of all, now that we moved the Marseille prefecture is really far away (that’s a good point, as well). When we first moved to France we lived in department 13, the Bouches-du-Rhône. For our department and area we were obliged to go to Marseille in order to get our legal status taken care of. We’ve had to go several times with all kinds of paperwork and a million copies of everything before we were finally given the golden (or rather pink) pass to be here legally.

The last time we went was to pick up our Titre de Sejour. It was finally ready after many, many month of being here. At that time we knew we were going to move and we also knew that we were moving out of the Bouches-du-Rhône, so I asked the lady who gave us our Titre de Sejour if we needed to come back to change our address on our “passes” and I also let her know where we were moving to. She told me that we absolutely had to come back when we moved it was the law. I also told her that my daughter had not yet received her legal paperwork. She then said to come back anytime after July and to bring tax stamps with us and her paperwork would be ready.

Well, today was the big day. I had all my bazillion copies and all the originals. We got up early and we took of for Marseille. When we got there we had to first wait outside in a line. See, you have to make it to door #1 before you can try for door #2. The lady asked for our “justification de domcile” and our current Titre de Sejour.

I had them all ready, handed them to her and said, “Check it”. Cuz I figure I’m cool like that.

She then gave us three numbers (why a whole family can’t share one number is beyond me and lame, I might add). Then she said to go upstairs and we would be called. Onward and upward towards door #2.

The good thing is that we didn’t have to wait too long today. For some odd reason it wasn’t as crowded as it usually is. When they called us in to the “special room” we were greeted by a very nice guy. He already had our paperwork in his hands and was ready to give it back to us immediately. He explained to us that now we had to go to the prefecture in our own department. He couldn’t help us. I told him that I specifically asked the lady who helped us before about this situation and changing addresses and all and she told us to come back to Marseille. He felt bad, of course, and I did believe him. He really did try to help and explain to us exactly what we had to do, but I was upset that I had tried to get the straight answer ahead of time and it didn’t work.

To make matters worse, we tried to get Tinki’s legal paperwork (remember it was supposed to be ready after July) and the guy couldn’t find her file and paperwork anywhere. He took her passport and went looking in several places to find it. Didn’t happen. I told him that we’ve been here for almost a year and she has no legal paperwork. Then he proceeds to tell me that as long as she stays in France she will be fine.

Problem. We’re American. Our whole family lives in America. She has plans to go visit them at Christmas. If she doesn’t have her paperwork she can definitely go to the states for her visit, but I wouldn’t be able to get her back. I see this as a major issue, which I told the man, very politely. (Really I did, it was nothing against him). I told him that I really would like to have her back and this just wasn’t acceptable.

He said that he would try one more time to check in a few other places and again walked off with her passport. Dude and I just sat there thinking about what a big waste of time this was.

The guy came back a few minutes later saying he couldn’t find anything, no record what-so-ever! How could this be when we all turned in our paperwork at the same time! He gave us a document and said that we would have to fill it out on her behalf and when we go to our proper department’s prefecture we will have to turn it in and explain to them the situation. He was confident that she would receive her legal status a couple of weeks later. I hope he’s right cuz I have no faith in it.

Stuff like this is why the French always roll their eyes when you mention anything you’ve had to do involving the French administration. The eye rolling along with the, “Ooh La La” really makes you confident doesn’t it?

Well, that was my big wasted morning/early afternoon. I could have busted out a few clean neighbors’ bathrooms in the time I spent there. At least I would have felt that I had done something worth my time.

Living Dangerously

Well looky what we have here!

What in the world was the electrician thinking when he put this in? What were the people in this house thinking when they said, “Here you go, Mr. Electrician. Your bill is paid. Thanks it looks great!”

 

OMG! The guy who wired this put the electrical on a piece of wood! A PIECE OF WOOD! Wood burns, people! Electrical stuff catches fire, people. What the heck! Look how this was put together. Dude and I just marveled at this for a long time. He was really stumped and wanted to figure out how this thing actually made it this far without being fried.

Oh wait, I have to back it up, because the whole reason we found this little gem is due to a new hot water tank that we had to buy (the existing one was super tiny and ancient). So the story here is that we couldn’t ever get hot water while we were working on the house (before we moved in). No matter what, we couldn’t get the old tank to work, so Dude and I went out and bought a new one a few days before moving in cuz there was no way in heck that I was going without hot water (I already did that and wrote about it, too).

Well, the day before the big move we were here trying to hook it up. It’s located in the garage, of all places. Dude was such a professional and the thing was ready to go in no time. Then the directions said to wait for the blinking green light to work and that’s when you know it’s good to go. Ok-Check. Then the directions said that it could take around 4 to 6 hours before hot water would miraculously appear. Ok-off we went to do some more work.

Around 5 hours later I decided to do the big test and went to the kitchen to turn on the hot water. I let that thing run for 10 minutes with no hot water to be found. So I did what I always do when something doesn’t work right, I called Dude and told him to fix it.

Back into the garage we went. Dude looked at it and said that the green light was blinking and the bottom of the tank was hot so it must be working. Really? Cuz I thought that meant hot water would come out of the tap! Yes, folks, I’m a smart ass, I admit it.

Dude took the cover off of the bottom of the tank and discovered that in the short time span of 5 hours, one of the wires touched the heating element on the bottom of the tank and shorted it out. What kind of idiots make a hot water tank that doesn’t put any protection on the wires and has it sitting snug next to the heating element? Give me a break! New hot water tank already busted.

Well, he managed to fix it and got the thing going again with the green blinking light. So now we had to wait a few more hours. It’s a good thing we had stuff to do.

I gave it around 2 more hours and went back to the kitchen to see if we now had hot water. Guess what??? It was a big “NOPE”. Ahhhh! This was super frustrating and all the while I’m looking at Dude to get this thing taken care of cuz I’m not doing without the comfort of a hot shower (especially when I just purchased a new hot water tank to ensure that).

That’s when we found the little gem that I mentioned a bit ago. Dude said that he didn’t think anything was wrong with the tank and that it must be something with the electrical. So we hunted around for the source and found our little piece of “junk on wood”. You should have seen the look on Dude’s face when he saw that. He was like, “What the hell is this?!” Then he proceeds to take of the cover to investigate (while the thing was live, I might add) and see if the problem lied there. I finally told him to shut the power down cuz I was freaking out.

So he gets on this kick about checking this piece of junk out and we kind of lost sight of why we were even investigating it. We were that dumbfounded. Dude kept talking about how this would be so illegal in the states and only an idiot would put a man-made electrical gadget like this on a piece of wood and to just look at the foam coming out of the top and the way the wires were (they had a black wire and a brown wire, but no blue wire which is a neutral). He just couldn’t stop going on and on about it. Luckily we were kind of laughing about it, too. It helped relieve the tension of the fact that we still didn’t have hot water and didn’t know why.

Finally after a full investigation, which included Dude getting out his tester to make sure it worked, he decided that all was well and it was working properly. He also came to the brilliant conclusion that he was going to have to change this Mickey Mouse set up that we had going. Like I’ve said before, it’s a good thing we have a house made of stone.

Finally after some more detective work, he followed some pipe around the garage to a valve. On a hunch he turned the valve on and voila, it magically gave us some hot water. Now this is not scalding hot water like I want, but it was hot none the less. I decided it was good enough for us to move in. It’s a good thing to cuz the next day we had to leave our rented apartment.

Dude still tells me he has no idea what the heck that contraption is on the wall. All he says it that it’s called, “Major Code Violation”. I guess the original owners were never investigated on the electrical in this place (either that or it was the owner’s brother who did the work and he didn’t care about lighting up his kin and passed it off as great).

In any case, that scary thing is still in the garage and we still have semi-hot water (I’m still waiting for scalding level). One of these days he’ll get to fixing it and I can be proud to boast a real professional job was done. For now, I’m just glad that we haven’t heard a pop and sizzle, cuz that would mean our “Major Code Violation” went bad. That in turn would mean no hot water for me and that in turn would be a major nightmare for Dude……

Prend Une Pause, Pourquoi Pas?

In the building where I work, there are quite a few offices. It just so happens that the office next to mine is full of women and, like, two guys. I have absolutely no idea what this company does. They have a name plate on their door that’s the size of a postage stamp and it gives no indication as to what kind of work these people actually do, if any.

Now before you start in about the French and work, I’ll have you know that the girls in my office (who happen to both be French) are hard workers. They hardly ever leave for lunch, never take breaks and they show up on time. One even stays late occasionally, so I’m sure the following is not a “nationality” thing (it’s more like a national past time thing).

So, back to my story. The reason I’m commenting on this is because I’ve watched the people in the office next door since I started working here. Their schedule cracks me up. I don’t know how many people are actually in this office (that does whatever they do), but every single day, without fail, they take structured, routine, habitual breaks.

I’m talking “on the dime time”, too. They always arrive at 8:00am and every day, without missing a beat, three girls and one guy (always the same ones) leave at exactly 10am to go on a break outside and snack and/or smoke. They stay out there until exactly 10:15am. I swear! I did an experiment and watched them for awhile. I couldn’t help myself, cuz I was so amazed by this.

Then, like clockwork, at 12:00 on the dot, the same four people leave and go to lunch and they don’t return until exactly 2:00pm. Every day!!! I’ve seen it, I swear!

Then, come 3:30pm they’re on break again until 3:45pm. I’m astounded at this. The same foursome all head for the stairs and out they go for another snack (how the heck they can be hungry after a two hour lunch is beyond me) and/or smoke break.

When 5pm rolls around they’re outta here and moving the fastest I’ve ever seen anyone leave work.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but that doesn’t add up to the traditional French 7 hour work day. That’s more like 6 ½ hours of work in a day. What does this company know that I’m missing? You wanna know what else?? These people actually take off for the month of August, as well! Yup-I’m talking office is closed down, locked tight and dust is collecting on the floor.

After watching this take place, I swear I better never hear anyone of them complaining about their work or the schedule they keep (while they are outside my window snacking and /or smoking away). If that ever happens, I’m talking WWF smack down right there!

I know that everyone needs a break now and then, but really?? Like clockwork?? They got this French schedule down to a science. I’m jealous, but I also want to know how anyone over there ever gets their work done? They’re always on break!

Before today, I hadn’t seen anyone else take breaks as often as these guys (granted I’m not running around the building being the hall monitor or anything), but today, I saw something else that just cracked me up. It was a beautiful day out, so I decided to make a trash run. I could use some fresh air and get a bit of exercise so I cleaned up some of the office and went to take the trash out. About half way to the trash cans there were two girls out front of the building next to me taking a break and having a smoke. Okay, no big deal. When I was done tossing the trash, I decided to have a seat out front for a few minutes and enjoy the sun. I went inside before they did so their break must have been a good one.

Later that day (around 4 hours later), I still had some clean up to do and so I made another run to the trash cans outside. Low and behold, those same two girls were standing out front of their building having another smoking break! Good grief, whatever is going around sure is catchy…

Again, after getting rid of the trash I took a seat to enjoy some sun shine and again I went inside before they did. I tell you, folks, I got to get the inside scoop on this. I’ve never seen anything like it especially coming from the states where you feel totally guilty for just leaving your desk to go to the bathroom! I’m not kidding, everyone makes you feel bad if you stop working for 5 minutes (all you people in the states know exactly what I’m talking about, too). Heaven forbid if your boss sees you leave for even 30 seconds, dang, heads will roll!

Well, I can tell you that these girls and the people next store do not have guilt written on them anywhere. No way.You wanna know what look they have? It’s the “my God given right to take a damn break” look is what that is. There’s not one ounce of guilt on these people’s faces when you see them taking off for their daily “prend une pause”. Sheesh. I’m not sure I can get to level.

I’ll be here my whole life and still feel guilty about leaving for 5 minutes. I’m putting it out there that I am totally jealous that these guys can take their long lunches and numerous breaks and not feel guilty. I admit it. I can’t bring myself to act on my jealousness and jump in and join them, but the jealousy is there none the less.

Well, all I got to say is, “Vive la France (et prend une pause!)” cuz they’re gonna do it anyway.

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