Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween to all!

Halloween happens to be my favorite holiday of the whole year so I am kind of let down by the fact that France just doesn’t get it the way we Americans do.

During the month of October I just loved seeing all the decorations in the stores and at neighbors’ houses. We ourselves were big into decorating when the kids were young. I also miss passing out candy and seeing everyone dressed up. It’s such a huge deal in The States that now I am finally feeling a bit of culture shock!

A few weeks ago I found out that our town was going to put on a Halloween party and got all excited and told Tinki about it. We were gonna be in like Flynn. Then we found out that it was only for kids 3-12??!! What the heck? This holiday is for everyone and I’m crying foul. These guys don’t understand how much fun this holiday is for big people, too and I tell you when they do figure it out, look out!

So for the month of October, this picture was about as Halloweeny as it got for me. I vow right at this moment, that next year I am dressing up in full force and gonna show these Frenchies how it’s done. I might scare my co-workers, but then again, that is all part of the fun:) Muaha ha ha!!!

I ended up finding a picture of me taken 2 years ago. I was Laura Croft Tomb Raider. Look out Angie, your competition is in town!

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A Day in the Bathroom

Nope-the title is not what you think, although it would have been appropriate due to my run in with the flu last week! Which brings me to say a great big thanks for thinking of me to all who sent me well wishes! You can’t imagine how great it was to receive all your emails and comments while I was feeling a bit under the weather. I feel much better, but am still feeling two residual effects. The first is the bouts of nausea I still get whenever my stomach starts to feel a bit empty, but I do have an infinite amount of crackers and biscuits at my side to help with this. The second is the fatigue that I am still feeling. I can’t quite make it through the day without tiring easier than usual. I am hopeful by the end of the week that both will be gone for good. Again, thank you all for the “get wells”, it is much appreciated.

So… the title? It is in fact synonymous for the day Dude and I spent working on the tear out of the master bathroom.  The old owners decided that large squares of cork on the wall must have been a la mode in their day and they dove right in. The entire bathroom, all walls, was covered with this stuff.

Fortunately for us, it came off easier than the stupid wall paper they put up, but unfortunately guess what was behind it?? If you guessed glue, you win the prize and apparently have been paying attention to my ramblings 🙂

Every wall was covered with this thick, yellow glue and how! The good thing about this room is Dude said that we would only have to scrape off one wall! Yippey. I’m down with that. Since two of the walls are outside walls we are going to just put up new dry wall to make the wall nice and straight and also insulate it, so no scraping necessary, and the other wall is an inside wall that he said we can just smooth coat. This made my day, cuz ya all know how I feel about glue.

While I got busy scraping my one wall, Dude put on his thinking cap. He was trying to decide if he wanted to keep the tub or not. It’s a great tub made of cast iron (which we found out is hard to come by here on a budget like ours), but it is old and showing signs of rust and wear. In the end, Dude made the decision to chuck it.

In order to do this he had to get his mallet because the old owners had encased the tub in red brick, some weird type of plaster, glue and cork. This was on two sides of the tub while the side near the outside wall was encased in a layer of brick and plaster. This apparently was because the wall was not straight and it was easier to do this than just make the wall straight. Huh??!

So away he went. Boy, these guys never bothered to throw away all their left over construction material cuz we found it all shoved underneath the tub! All the broken pieces of bricks, plaster and dirt were there. It was unreal! It took tons of bags and cardboard boxes to get rid of the stuff.

What they also did was put all the electrical, water and heating runs under the tub and also encased them in brick and plaster.

Then Dude found a big hole in the bottom of the floor, just under the tub that opens up into the garage. Neat! Boy, I feel some real fun coming on!

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the tub out of the bathroom that night cuz it was getting so late. Since I got sick and the subsequent revelation of the leaky roof, it happens to still be there. For now we have put the bathroom work on hold and started to work on the roof. If the weather happens to turn bad were are in deep trouble…..

 

Road to Recovery

Well, after 3 days of the flu and being out of commission, I’m finally feeling somewhat better.

This thing came on like a hurricane. I was feeling completely fine on Tuesday night when I went to bed and then around 4am it began. After about 14 hours of throwing up everything I ate over the last two weeks, I finally started to feel a bit better tummy wise, but I ended up sleeping away the last 2 and ½ days. I’m still really fatigued and don’t want to eat much, but I’m on the road to recovery at least.

It’s a good thing too cuz since I’ve been out of it, all work on the house has come to a screeching halt. Unfortunately for us, we decided to completely tear out the first story bathroom two days before I got sick and now that job is on hold. I will have pictures and the story of the work coming soon.

Also, while away at work on Monday we found out by Tinki that we have some leaks in our roof thanks to the rain. On the second story the ceiling has some water damage and we need to take care of that asap or it will ruin the drywall and finish work that we have already done. Also, the living room has 3 major leaks that we know of and there were some serious puddles all over the floor. There is always something with this house!

So it’s been quite a week. It looks like I will still need to take it easy this weekend unless a miracle happens and I all of a sudden feel a ton better. Right now I just don’t see that happening. Chicken soup, crackers and 7-up make you feel better but it doesn’t exactly give you the muscles and strength you need like a bowl full of Wheaties does. I wish I was able to eat those!

I really hope Dude and Tinki don’t come down with what I had. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Missing Spring Time

With the change in the weather and the coming of the rain I suddenly miss spring time. Don’t get me wrong, I really do like fall and Halloween is my favorite holiday, but for some reason this year I just wasn’t ready for the colder and wetter weather and the fact that darkness falls upon us so early. I absolutely hate changing the time back to standard time and seeing the sun go to sleep just before 5pm.

I am already dreading the fact that we have to turn back our clocks this weekend. Dude keeps telling me to stop reminding him of that fact. I guess I probably say something about it everyday!

This evening while on an errand (to the hardware store, of course) it suddenly felt like the fall season was here. The rain was coming down, the wind was starting to blow and the temperature is now well below what it was about 2 weeks ago.

Upon my return, I decided to look through some of my photos that I had taken this past spring/ summer for a cheer-me-up on this rainy day. Flowers and grapes usually do the trick since you always know spring is here when you see them starting to appear. Here is a few that brightened my day.

In couple of days the fall season will really start to take hold for me and I will be quite content with it. But for today, I just had to take one more look at the beauty of spring and say my good-byes until next year.

 

 

 

Saturday Kind Of Sucked

Yesterday we went looking for a new bathroom window. As usual it took practically all afternoon just to try to accomplish one thing. I swear France is the only country this happens in and I know I’m not making it up since I hear complaints about this ALL the time!

It started out with trying to visit a window and shutter store. I had seen the store off the auto route one day and logged it away for future reference. Since we have an old house, Dude and I are pretty much thinking that it might be hard to get a standard size window off the shelf from LeRoy’s or Castorama so I had wanted a backup just in case.

First thing in the morning we just dawdled around when getting ready (we tend to do that on Saturday just to feel like we got some relaxation time in, plus we are a bit burned out). Then we took off for the store. I had tried to look it up before we left, but couldn’t find it online. Since I knew exactly where it was we took off anyway. We made it there only to discover that the store isn’t open on Saturdays. What the heck is with France and their idea of goods and services. There we were right in front of this enormous store (and I mean it was huge) and it was closed…..on a Saturday. N’importe quoi!! How the heck is anybody supposed to get stuff done around here when nothing is ever open and when it is, they close so dang early that you can’t get enough time in after work?! Therefore, you got to go to the few places that are open on Saturday and you end up being there forever and a day cuz everyone else in France is there too trying to get something accomplished since they have the same problem of never being able to get something done. Yes, that’s another gripe.

Well, Dude and I headed off towards LeRoy’s to see if we could get some idea of how we were going to get this window. The one window we are most concerned about right now is on the first storey. The existing one has a round vent in it that broke a long time ago and now is stuck in the open position. As a result it is sucking in the cold air from the outside and causing the house to be really trapping the cold air.

We still only have one small portable heating unit and it’s in one room so we are trying to keep the house as “air tight” and warm as possible. This particular window is contributing to the issue of us loosing heat all the time. Right now, Dude has covered it up with tin foil and a band to hold it on, but that is not too ascetically pleasing.

The issue with this particular window, though, is that when you measure the window frame from the inside it is 80cm, but when you measure the window on the outside it is 73cm. This is due to the way they stuccoed the house. So it’s sort of an issue in trying to find the best size to put in the space.

Also, we have kind of decided that since we have not yet painted or put the floors in, it might be a good idea to redo this one bathroom and get all the dirty work out of the way before we move forward with the finish work. This way we aren’t ripping the bathroom apart and working around newly painted walls and tiled floors.

Once we made it to LeRoy, we were greeted with the other bazillion people trying to get something done on a Saturday. We headed over to the windows and Dude took some measurements, but nothing was the right fit. We then head to the customer service counter and we did have some luck in the fact that we found someone who spoke really good English to explain our little window issue. He was very helpful and asked us all kinds of questions and Dude was able to tell him what the situation was. Unfortunately, they said the window would have to be special ordered to the tune of nearly 400 Euros. Just one window at 400 Euros! Who the heck in France has the money for this outrageous prices they charge! On top of the fact that it would take 5-6 weeks to get it (of course it will, this is France). So we told the guy there that we needed to go back and really verify the measurements cuz if we did end up ordering this thing and it didn’t  work, then we would have waited 5-6 weeks for nothing and spent 400 Euros for nothing and be right back to square one. Also this is going to hold up our bathroom job and now our house is still going to be left in the unfinished mode. All because of one stupid window! Dude is going to go back to the drawing board and double check everything (but in theory he does that anyway so I know his measurements are most likely spot on). Then we will make another stab at it.

After LeRoy’s we headed over to IKEA (yes-I broke down and went, but just for a looksee). I was pleasantly surprised that they had some free standing items that we could consider for the kitchen. They were actually made of real wood and had a more classique/traditional look which is what I would really like. We took measurements of everything we liked and tried to see if we could somehow mix and match to get things to fit. Unfortunately, nothing they had would fit into the spaces we have. The big issue with our kitchen is that the whole thing is a shell with the exception of the sink. The old owners put in a sink (that is quite big and rather nice), but they built it into the kitchen with a specially made cabinet and some concrete. We are trying very hard to work around this because if not, we have to do more tear-out. I really don’t want to do this cuz then we just have to go back and repair and this is continuously putting us behind in the remodel process. Another thing is that there are all these doors in the kitchen to protect the house against the cold. Working around these has been a bit of a pain, as well. It limits what you can put where.

So basically we ran around all day trying to get to the next step and came home with nothing except two light bulbs. This doesn’t really make for a fun time.

I have to be honest and say that Dude and I have hit a wall of depression on this. Not because of the house itself, but because in France it’s so difficult to get anything done and what you can manage to do just costs too much. Inflating prices (for crappy materials) and the fact that you just can’t get stuff you need to work is really taking its toll on us. I am starting to think that we will be in just one room for a long time. The problem with our one room is that it’s the only one in the house not insulated against the cold.

Lil’ Man Purse

You all know how much I LOVE the man purse. Well, the other day I snapped a shot of this little guy and his lil’ man purse. Boy, his mom is starting him out early!

 

How cute is this??! I really wish my son was little again so I could make him wear one and there wouldn’t be anything he could do about it. Now that he’s grown he’d only argue about it with me, just like Dude does.

I guess when this kid grows up he can sport his man purse with this T-shirt, cuz it says it all.

 

Some Of My Favorite Entryways

 

In my little travels around Provence, I generally find a doorway/entryway or two the makes an impression upon me.

Here are some of the ones that I particularly like the most.

Evenos

Gassin

Gassin

Le Castellet

Les Baux de Provence

Ramatuelle

 

Ahhhh, Warmth At Last

Around 6pm tonight Dude says to me, “Let’s find the closest Castorama and check it out”. Up until now, we’ve been going to LeRoy-Merlin and it was high time that we checked out the competition.

We got lucky again today because we found a Castorama only 25 minutes from us. Off we went to see if we could find some more items we needed for the house.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Castorama near us was a new store and it was HUGE. Way bigger than “King Merlin” and so well stocked with tons and tons of stuff that we could never find at the competition. The other thing that was terrific is they had a lot of people working at the store and we got awesome customer service!

Well the minute I got there I bee-lined it to the heater section cuz I’m really tired of living in a house that has no heat! I am freezing my butt off every day and night and just plain sick of it, so I was not going to be leaving that store without the goods (even if Dude calls me a big sissy). We scoped out the merchandise and found a good one that you have to fill with petrol. When we couldn’t find the fuel I went over to ask one of the workers and he told me that he didn’t work in that particular department, but showed me who did. That person happened to be helping out another customer so I just waited my turn (and very patiently I might add cuz that’s just me). The first I guy I ask came back around 3 minutes into the waiting and noticed that I hadn’t been helped yet. He got on the phone and asked his coworker to come and help me. Well within 1 minute the guy shows up and he helps me out with all the info I need to pick out my fuel and points me in the right direction to go get it. Bada Bing, Bada Bam, done!

Then I start to mosey around the store just to check things out for future reference. Dude goes off to look at tools (big surprise) and I found the toilet seats. I didn’t need one I just ended up in that aisle. Don’t judge. Guess what I found?? A toilet seat with a TV in it! See, here it is!

They were playing a movie in the top of the seat about how this particular toilet seat worked (I never thought there was really anything more to one than up and down) and I got completely engrossed in the demonstration movie. So there I was standing all by myself in the toilet seat aisle watching a show that was playing ON a toilet seat! After the little show was over I realized that I must have looked really stupid to people passing by the aisle that could only see me looking intensely at the seats, but they weren’t able to see what I was staring at!

I also found the best bathtub I could ever want in my dreams. This thing had lights, jets, a head rest and a place for your drink and IPod! What the heck! After gazing longingly at it for some time, I went to find Dude (cuz the store was closing) and I told him that for now we were going to keep the tub that is currently in the master bathroom cuz I needed to save up for the most fanstastical (again is that a word?) tub and it was going to take me a year. There was no way I was going to waste my money now on something else and risk not having the great one! He just looked at me like I was a complete idiot and wanted to know what the heck I need that for. It was only a bath.

WARNING: Do not ever say that to a woman! Only a bath! Please! Hot water, bubbles, a drink, chocolate, music, a book and jets all in one is what every woman craves (especially when they’ve had kids-you’all know what I’m talking about –Calgon take me away).

So I tried to get this point across, but it just wasn’t working. Why did he half to pick this moment to not have the “chick” part of him come out?!

I gave up the cause and we headed towards the cash register. Besides my beloved heater, Dude also found some more of his accessories for the new electrical work. Good to go.

Off we headed toward home and it was looking pretty good until we missed our exit off of the freeway. Wouldn’t you know it?? It was the last exit for the next 10 kilometers and just before the next exit we had to get one of those stupid toll booth tickets! Dang it! When we finally paid to get off the dumb auto route, it costs us 2, 20 Euro and we were about another 10 kilometers from home and had no idea what town we had landed in.

So we put on the GPS and headed towards home. Then that stupid GPS lady got us lost and we ended up way in the hills on a windy road, somewhere south of our home and in the middle of nowhere. Normally I would be okay with “taking the tour”, but it was getting late, I was hungry, we were wasting money and gas and since it was dark already I couldn’t even enjoy the scenery.

In the end it took us more than an hour to get home (when it only took us 25 minutes to get to the store)! All because we missed one freakin’ exit!

When we finally made it home, I had Dude on heater duty faster than anything. Now, we finally have heat in this place (even if it is in only one room) . I happened to be standing in front of it right now and just so you know,that’s where my cold self will be for quite some time.

You never appreciate something until you have to do without it. Thank you to whoever invented these wonderful systems. You’re a lifesaver.

 

Some Luck Comes Our Way

We finally had some more luck come our way today. Yippey!

There’s this electrical store just down the street from where I work and at lunch time (well a bit after that since you can’t interrupt the sacred lunch hour) Dude and I went to scope it out. He was looking for tracking and wire channel so he can get our ancient electrical system all up to modern day acceptability. (If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the way our electrical is run in the house, I will just tell you that it was done in the time of Roman rule).

Right now we still have all kinds of flex tubing that Dude recently put in, hanging down in the garage. There is also an old panel on the garage wall that he’s changing out. Dude needed to have some way to hold the flex going across the top of the garage and down the side walls for our new electrical runs and make it all neat and tidy and have it go into the new panel. Believe you me, running new electrical in a 300 year old house is not an easy task. Although, I just get to watch and supervise, Dude has to do all the work. There are some things I will help with and some I won’t and the electrical stuff falls into the “won’t” department. I’m a big chicken with that kind of stuff.

So back to the store part. Before going to this electrical store we tried our old stomping ground of LeRoy-Merlin. They had some of what we needed but they didn’t have the accessories to go with it. How ya supposed to complete the job without the rest of the goods, I ask you?

So today at this electrical store he was able to find the goods. He even found a guy there to help him and who spoke some English (score three points for that one). There was one down side, though (I guess that means we have to take away a point), the enormous costs of the stuff. The one thing that’s always a big shocker to us is the price. We thought the stuff we found at LeRoy-Merlin was fairly decent in price, but sheesh! This electrical store was outrageous. If you learn one thing about Dude in all of this, make it the fact that he doesn’t like getting jacked around! It seems that there is just no way to get around saving money on certain materials here. He always feels like he is getting jacked around on prices for tools and materials. This stuff isn’t even the cream of the crop so even though we came away with what we needed, it still leaves you a bit unfulfilled when you hear the money getting sucked out of your account!

On a lighter and even happier note, I am also happy to report that Sara, over in Le Petit Village, passed on her Happy Accident to us because right next store to the electrical place we found this guy who makes all great things out of metal (gates, tables, décor, etc.). Dude had this great idea to pop on over to see if we could find our elusive UPN for the side of the house (you know the one that the guys at Point P had no clue about and we’ve been trying to hunt down for a weeks). Guess what?? This guy had a piece! Well it was an IPN not a UPN, but that was good enough for us cuz it’ll work. The man at the store was really nice and patient with us as we mangled the French language trying to explain what it was that we needed. He eventually went into his back room workshop and rummaged through all his scrap pieces and voila, he found one! He was even nice enough to cut it in half for us and it was only 36 Euros. Mais oui, I would say that was a happy accident that we had today. Thanks for the good karma Sara 🙂

So now we get to drive all the way home (one hour) with this stuff sticking several feet out of the trunk of Benoit. The electrical stuff is too big for us to close the back hatch so this should be fun. I hope it doesn’t rain (it sure looks like it’s going to) and I hope that everything that’s in the back of the car ends up at home with us and not littering the road or someone else will have a Happy Accident (well maybe not). I guess that would all depend on if they find it or hit it!

PS-I forgot to tell you that today is our 1 year anniversary of landing in La France! What a crazy year it has been!

Solliès-Pont Chateau

While out and about one day we happened upon a chateau in the village of Solliès-Pont which is located near Toulon.

This chateau is actually easy to miss if your happen to not be looking out your side window (as I was) while driving by. In this modern day it’s surrounded by commerce, apartments and houses.

I love to go chateau hunting. It happens to fill me with the greatest excitement ever. It’s history happening right before my eyes and all other things around me just disappear. When I find a chateau or the ruins of one, I study everything about it. I love to walk around and touch the walls and feel every part of it. I will literally close my eyes and image what it was like to be there when it was in all its glory hundreds of years ago. I can visualize the people, the furnishings, the surrounding area and I marvel that such a thing could still be present even if it’s just the remains that are left.

On this day and with this chateau, I was able to see it as it almost was when it was built in the 16th century by the Forbin family. People like Charles IX, Catherine de Medicis and Louis XIV (who I am quite fascinated with) graced their presents here. Granted the chateau is not in the exact state it was when it was built. It had to be rebuilt after local citizens and others from Marseille set fire to it in 1792. After that, it was left in a state of disrepair. Of course today the chateau one sees has been modernized and is constantly maintained.

Nevertheless, it has stood the test of time and has its stories to tell. Whenever I have the chance to visit sites like this I really do wish walls could talk so they would tell me all that they have seen and the history that has transpired.

In April 1998, the community of Solliès-Pont purchased the chateau and park. Nowadays the chateau is host to the Office of Tourism, the police station and an art exhibition gallery amongst other things. During the month of July it is host to many outdoor concerts as it is situated on a beautiful park of several hectares. There is also a nice pond towards the back of the park that you can leisurely stroll around.

If you happen to be in the area, stop by for a visit. There is a terrific spot at the backside of the chateau to have an afternoon picnic on the lawn. This is by far the best view as you get to see the chateau, the park full of beautiful trees and the pond.

It’s a great way to spend the afternoon with family and friends and to show off the fact that you get to live in a country that has something like this!

If you want to see more photos of the Solliès-Pont Chateau they appear on Flickr. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Photos on Flickr.

 

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