My Last Writing

I wanted to let all of you know who have been faithful in reading all of my rants that a change might be coming.

As you all know, over the last few months we have been renovating our house and that is what the majority of my writings have been about. It has been really hard, but most of the time I’ve been able to find humor in the hardship, but that’s cuz the majority of the time it wasn’t affecting our quality of life. Now it is and in a major way.

Two weeks ago our region received far more rain than usual and it was at that point that Dude and I started to endure hardship that was never ending.

Still today, it has not gotten any better. In fact, it is the opposite. It has become worse and much worse than we ever thought.

We still do not have a roof because the first thing we need to take care of is the plumbing. It has now been 11 days since my daughter and I have been able to take a shower and 11 days since any of us have been able to use the toilet. Tinki and I have to give up our showers so Dude can take a 5 minute one to get all the sewage off since he is in it more than me. Any longer than 5 minutes and the overflow moves into the bedroom. The plumbing can’t seem to be fixed and over this past week new information has come to light.

Before I give you this info, though, I have to tell you that over the past 11 days we have tried to contact many plumbers many times (even our real estate agent and the lady next door tried to get them to come). We needed someone with real equipment to fix our drain. Meanwhile, while we waited for them to call us back and come help (no one ever did) sewage continued to spill over into the bathroom and bedroom when it rained. We never even got a call from any of the plumbers.

Our neighbor had a friend who showed up and said he had a great plumbing snake, but the only way we could get to the area we needed to snake was to take off the toilet. Dude tried but it was frozen and stuck so bad to the wall that he couldn’t get it off. He had to break it. It turns out the guy didn’t even have a great plumbing snake and it didn’t work at all. Now, with no toilet, the sewage was spilling over even faster than before because the hole was now floor level. The toilet was at least giving us time before it spilled over, now it’s instantaneous.

Dude proceeded to dig up the entire yard and start looking for the pipes and drainage. He ended up finding the whole run after many days and we found that a lot of the pipes had a ton of roots in them. He was able to get the roots out, but we still could not get the pipe to drain. The main problem, unfortunately, was under the house where we couldn’t reach. For days we tried everything. Flushing it out, more snaking, chemicals. All for nothing. I tried to continue to get a plumber out to the house, but to no avail. I also tried everywhere to find a power snake which pretty much is non-existent here. I truly hate to say this, but if I were back in the states, a plumber would have showed up and fixed it right away since he would have had all the right tools or I could have just run myself down to the nearest Home Depot and bought one in 10 minutes. But in France, OH NO, they don’t have such a thing cuz the French don’t have clogged drains! I do have to say I am now sick of substandard materials and equipment and non-existent stuff that every other country would have.

So Dude and I decided that the only thing we could do is redo the main plumbing and run new lines. We discovered that by uncovering the old lines, the old owners had trouble in the past cuz there were even older pipes in the ground that were broken and there was even one pipe that they had drilled a hole in to snake something out and then fixed it by putting cement all over the hole. The fact that they had problems in the past was never told to us. By law they should have revealed this info.

I also found out that the apartment bathroom that is having all the problems was an illegal addition. When I went to the agency to get a plot map, what is shown on the map is not the same as our house. The bathroom area shows that it was a garden. They ended up making it a bathroom and didn’t say anything. This was also not revealed to us so our plot map is wrong.

After many days and hours and driving all over the place, I was finally able to find an electric snake to rent. I got it home and Dude said it was the most ancient, dumb thing he ever saw. It only partially worked and the motor was so bad that it was stripping and after some point it wouldn’t even turn the snake. Then it got worse. He turned off the motor and pulled out the snake and it turned out that 3 meters of the snake plus the tool on the end broke off in the pipe so now we had that stuck in there. So Dude had to fish the snake down the pipe and turn it by hand to try and recoup the broken part. By this time it was 10pm and freezing outside and we were making a terrible racket and I was worried about the neighbor’s (who have working plumbing) complain. I don’t need that right now especially after standing in sewage for days.

Dude did end up getting the broke pieces and snaking the drain, but there is still a major problem. Due to the fact the bathroom was an illegal addition they did not put the drains right and the flow is bad. The bathroom pipe sits lower that than bedroom pipe which leads outside, therefore water just sits there and backs up. So even though we could snake the pipe, now we can’t use that pipe anymore and we have to make a whole new drain.

We thought about exiting the new pipe out the side wall of the bathroom and running it down the wall 12 feet then re-entering into the garden and in the ground to give it the proper flow. There is a major issue with that and it is the fact that once the pipe exits it does so in our neighbor’s yard. We told her that we would cover it by construction a new wall of cement that would only come out about 13 centimeters. She flat out said no, so now we have nowhere to run new pipe and are still without a bathroom as I write. I don’t know how much longer we can do that.

In all of this, we haven’t been able to fix the roof so we have plastic and loose tiles still there. This will be more of a problem when it rains again and/or the winds start to blow. There is nothing keeping the tiles down on the roof. We also found that all the rain ruined the living room wall and it now has more cracks in which the water just pours through when it rains. Now that entire wall has to be knocked down and redone.

I have already contacted the insurance company but they will only pay for some of the damage, not the replacement of the pipes or roof. Both of these issues were not told to us by the previous owners. We now will have to possibly take them to court since they should have told us these major issues. Unfortunately to recoup anything will take years and we might not ever get anywhere except more depressed and frustrated.

Also, Dude got hurt really bad while doing all this work and now he can’t work for a while. Men don’t cry, they just don’t, but today he was really crying because he was hurt so bad. Now we are at a standstill and can’t do anything for a while. He thinks he will get better in a few days, but I don’t and he refuses to go to the doctor cuz he says he is tired of being let down by people here.

Now we are living in a substandard house with no way to fix it. When we bought the house we based our fix it costs on what was revealed to us. We weren’t ready to reconstruct the whole house and we, in fact, don’t have the money to do it. Financially it has been devastating to us. We are both miserable and depressed all the time. I can’t remember the last time I smiled or laughed. We are always tired and can hardly eat, mostly cuz we start to work early on the house after breakfast but we never finish before midnight and during that time, we can’t go up to eat anything cuz we have no water to wash the sewage off. So we end up working 15 hours or so with no food or water.

Dude and I fight all the time now. He hates being here and wishes he would have never bought this house. Even though this situation is depressing and horrible for me, I love France, I just hate what’s happen to us.

I feel terrible for our daughter. We told her this move would be great, that we would travel and see France and Europe. That hasn’t happened. In the last 13 months that we’ve been here we have only seen about 6 or 7 towns some of which we had already been to before. She is homeschooled and her schooling is suffering cuz I don’t have time to help. She never sees us since I am always at work or working on the house. Life sucks for all of us, but for her I feel worse.

Every day we go home to a shell that we have to work on. There is no day that passes that we have any peace. I have used nearly all my vacation time here (and that is a lot in France) to work on the house and I’ve never even taken a vacation. The last real vacation I had was in the year 2000. Since school and work, I’ve never even taken a break.

My family needs to have quiet and relaxation, but it is nowhere in sight. We keep asking ourselves why God hates us. We don’t understand why every day this house situation gets worse. Now it is getting colder and darker earlier and we still have no heat except for a tiny space heater in the room with no insulation. We keep waiting for the next bad thing to happen with this house to sink us even more.

We have pretty much run out of energy and are done pushing ourselves. Financially we could possibly lose everything due to this house. At our age we can’t afford to lose our savings and retirement (what little we have) to this house. I don’t have time to recover the loss from something like that and make the money back.

Now for the big change, I won’t be writing any more post for a long time and quite possibly never again if we are forced leave cuz then Provence wouldn’t be my backyard any more. As for now, I just don’t have it in me. I am so tired and frustrated and feel no hope. This situation is weighing like a ton of bricks on both Dude and I and neither one of us wants to even get out of bed in the morning. The one thing that makes me is the fact that I have to go to work, but once there I always have to apologize for the state I’m in and the way I look and say how thankful I am that France is the perfume capital of the world.

I wanted to personally thank Toni and her husband. Last week she offered for her and her husband to come help us for free, but they live 5 hours round trip from us and how could I accept when I have never met her and when they got to my house I wouldn’t have a bathroom for them to use or food for them to eat (since I don’t have a kitchen either).  I was just too much to accept that sort kindness from someone I had never met.

I will continue to read, when I can, the comments people leave me and try to comment back. For the moment our new cable box still hasn’t arrived so it has been nearly a week and a half with no internet, tv or phone. Who knows if that will ever show up. I will do my best though.

Maybe in the future you will hear from me. I’m just not sure but I didn’t want to leave you without saying anything. If I do end up posting again it will be because a ray of hope has appeared. That will be about the only thing that will cheer me up and make me want to tell you about it. I really loved writing my stories and I will miss it even though I don’t have the energy or will for it at the moment.

I wish each and every one of you happiness and thanks for all your support and comments and for reading my stories. I loved hearing from you. My site will remain up even though it isn’t in use right now. There is a lot in here that are good memories for me.

Here are my latest photos.

God bless to all.

About backyardprovence

I was finally able to realized my dream of living in France when I moved here in 2010. I love to read,I love history and road trips. I want to be doing anything outside in the fresh air. I want to have an entire room devoted to a personal library.

Posted on November 15, 2011, in The House of the Farmer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I won’t pretend to have some magical comment that’ll make you feel better… but know that even as a relatively new follower I’ve enjoyed this blog and your personality throughout, and I really hope things will turn around for you guys. I don’t blame you at all for stopping writing; in fact you’re a trooper for going this far with it after all you’ve endured. Take as much of a break as you need and I’ll keep my subscription active just in case 🙂

    Consider yourself virtual-hugged. Best of luck.

    • Hello Corey,

      Thank you for your virtual hug and your good luck wishes. They are always appreciated. I do have an update that I will try to get around to writing by this weekend. We are still plodding along.

  2. Hi Ashley,

    I am writing this with tears in my eyes. All I can say is good luck to you and your family. I hope that you eventually realize your dream. I am really feeling for you. God bless.


  3. That town is cursed. The house we rented (thank god it was just a rental) had horrible plumbing problems and the septic tank back up twice inside the house in the 9 months we were there. The owners blamed it on us…I think to try and get us to pay for major fix-it charges they didn’t want to pay.

    I am so sad for you and your family. I hope you find a way out or a way to fix it without losing too much money.

  4. I too have enjoyed reading your posts and will miss you. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you in the hope things turn around and you get back on your feet. I can’t even begin to imagine what life must be like for you all at the moment, but you have my good wishes and virtual hugs coming your way. Take care, Jacqui

    • Hello Jacqui,

      Thanks so much. I will let you know what happens. I also wanted to tell you thanks for the tip on the Cantal cheese. I found some the other week at the store and they were even running a special on it so I pick some up. It’s terrific! You are absolutely right about the taste. It is really close to cheddar. Thanks for the great alternative 🙂

  5. I am so sorry to read that your house horrors have still not been resolved. I pray that you are able to end this nightmare without killing yourselves or your finances. I can only imagine the exhaustion and disappointment you are experiencing. I can’t imagine living like that. I hope this nightmare will be resolved soon. I wish you and Dude and your daughter all the best. I look forward to your next post whenever that comes as I know that will mean there is some good news for you to share.

  6. OMGosh, Ashley! I just had a chance to read your post!!! I was thinking the same thing as I read – I’ll send my husband over to help Dude ASAP! What are you going to do? Have you tried asking Corey or Julie who they use for plumbing issue . . .I am sure you probably have:( This is not the sequence the dream was supposed to follow, remember, I’m still in the process of that 19 year reno that has ended up eating all our money – and, we haven’t started the kitchen again. (wait, wait, wait, more $$$$) So all these years, unsettled, never wanting guests to come over, making excuses for my never ending construction messes. Frankly, I’m surprised my husband and I are still married – might not be if we don’t get the kitchen done. I will never, never do this again, but I can tell you this reno thing is in my blood. I see properties all the time, old properties, that I would love to start again on. Problem is it takes deep pockets – something we don’t have, and never will. I wish I had an answer for you, and I will miss reading your blog. You reached out to me and made my day with your emails. Hey, if I win the lottery, I’ll be sure to send a bank wire!! May I contact you through your email at some point? I hope one day we can grab lunch or coffee either in DC/France, and look back at our reno stories and laugh. Hopefully, at that point our housing problems will only be a vague memory. Thinking of you & God bless, Debra

    • Hi Debra,

      Did you win the lottery, yet! He He-just kidding. We are still plodding along and I will be updating you soon. It’s still really rough but thanks so some terrific friends who found us, a major problem has been conquered. I will keep you posted.

  7. Ashley, have you been to the Mairie in your local town? That really is where you need to go now and get help for you all.
    Are you a member of any of the French forums here? You can seek advice from many of the people on then (and sadly there’ll also be some very unhelpful advice).
    Is there someone you can borrow a caravan from? You really need to be living in dry and hygienic conditions for the winter.

    Bon courage and please start getting help.


    • Hello Kathy,

      Yes- we have been many times to the local Maire and also to the real estate agency that we bought the house from. Neither have been any help to us. The just give us dumb looks or responses that do us no good. We do have a bit of good news thanks to really caring strangers that took time out of their busy schedule to help. I will be writing about the experience first chance I get.

  8. Wow, you’ve really been to hell and back recently. I do really feel for you and all you’ve been going through and I hope that things can truly only get better. This country is an easy one to get depressed in for all the hoops for jumping through with no rewards at the end, but hang in there and don’t let everything beat you. You’ve hit the low point and the only way is up. I’m crossing my fingers for you!

    • Thanks Wendy-I hope your right. This was not what I expected when coming to live in the south of France! I hope the really hard stuff is over and done with soon. We had a bit of good luck this weekend with some kind (and new found) friends who helped us out.

  9. Hello

    The Anglo American Group of Provence have an e-mail distribution list which we can use to see if anyone needs a house-sitter over the winter months – it would get you out of the house for a break and give you some space to sort it out. Do reply to me if you want me to do this.

    Best wishes to you all

    • Hi Lynne,

      Thank you so much for your comment. My family would love to get away, but it would be at vacation time rather than now. We have been able to fix our drainage problem with the help of some new found friends and we are, at the moment, having appointments with contractors for the roofing and facade work that desperately needs to be done. The work needs to being soon and will last around 3 weeks and we need to be at the house during the work. Maybe we could do some “house-sitting” after the new year and all the work is done and then we could feel like we could take a vacation with out worrying about babysitting the house. I will keep in touch with you for that. Thanks for the idea and comment!

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