Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy New Year To All

I want to wish each and every one of you a happy and prosperous New Year.

Have a wonderful time celebrating the ringing in of the new and out with the old.

Of course, in France, this time of year gives way to such a wonderful excuse to dip into all that lovely wine that is out on the store shelves.  By look of the store aisles this week, I guess everyone was thinking that. Even the nuns that were in front of Dude and me at the checkout counter were going to be partying it up this weekend. They sure were loading a bunch of spirits onto the conveyer belt. Dude said that he was feeling a bit guilty about the one beer he was buying until he saw their cart!

I had my camera all ready to snap a shot of them and their purchase, but every time I tried to take a photo one of the nuns would look straight at me. I swear, it must have happened 3 or 4 times and I just couldn’t get the shot without being totally obvious so I had to abandon ship. I do suppose that I could have just asked them if I could take a picture of them holding their wine, but I really didn’t want to get scolded by nuns.

As for me, I would love to dig into this lovely bottle for my own celebrating, but alas, I don’t drink. It’s suddenly occurred to me, while looking at this bottle, that it’s a shame I don’t partake (5 whole litters in one shot).  If anything, this past year would warrant the drinking of this whole bottle.

On second thought, that might be a bad idea. I might have the tendency to start drinking on a daily basis if this house situation keeps going as it has!

Oh well, I guess I will ring in the new year sober just like all the other years. Who knows this year might be the best one I’ve ever had and it would be a shame to mess up the first day of it 🙂

Bonne fetes to all!

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The Most Awesome Toilet Seat EVER!!

France has this thing with toilet seats. I’m not sure what it is, but it totally cracks me up. I had written a post a while back about the time I was in Castorama and I found a toilet seat with a TV in it. It was fascinating, I tell you. Well, the other day I found the mother of all toilet seats. This one is the tops and takes the whole kit n’ caboodle!

Viola! A toilet seat with a remote control!

This thing is awesome. Check out that buttons. One says “Woman”. What the heck does that even mean? Can you push a combination of buttons at the same time cuz I want to know what “Woman” plus “massage” means?! Ha ha! That’s hilarious! I was all kinds of ready to climb up on the display and try that puppy out 🙂

I did try the remote while I was at the store, but apparently there weren’t any batteries in it. That was just killing me. I was playing around with the remote trying so hard to see what I could get this thing to do! I really want to see it in action. Next time I’m at the store I’m bringing batteries with me just in case the thing still doesn’t work.

I want to find out how many things I can get it to do all at once. Can you program it? How about for something like “woman”, “high water pressure”, “nozzle move to front”, “wash”. I am assuming “wash” means the person and not the seat cuz the drawing on the button looks like a curvy bum. I will be sorely disappointed if that’s not true.

Man, the things these French people are into. If I ever go to some one’s house here and see this, I’m gonna laugh myself silly (after I try it out, that is)!

If anyone has this seat, I wanna know if it’s as cool as it seems to be. If you do have it, and it isn’t as cool as I think, don’t spoil my fun. Just tell me it’s the best use of a remote you’ve ever seen 🙂

Demolition Man (Oh and Woman)

Since Dude and I are still in the process of waiting to get the roof redone and new stucco put on the exterior walls, we decided to go outside and demo the shed. Now, I was kind of into this little shed when we bought the house. I figured it might be nice to put gardening tools, wood for a fire, or maybe a place for an extra car.

As time has gone on, Dude and I made the decision to get rid of it. This is mostly because it has been in the way when we try to pull the car out of the garage or into the garage. The back part of the shed had a pillar that is just a tad far out which makes getting the car in or out somewhat difficult.  I still had my doubts about getting rid of it but after a great deal of thought we went with my uncle’s old stand-by term “When it doubt, throw it out”.

This decision was made in the beginning of November so I waltzed myself over to the town Maire to put in a request to have “les montres” pick-up at my house. Les monstres are for the huge items that you can’t set out with normal everyday trash so you have to go and ask for a special pick up and then the city comes by and takes it away for you. Since we have this service in The States I figured we were all good.

So in the beginning of November I made my request. The lady at the Maire said that the pick up only happens once a month and she told me that the next pick-up was schedule for the beginning of December. I gave her a list of what we were going to set out and was on my way.

Since we had sometime before the pick-up, Dude and I didn’t destroy the shed right away. We figured we would do it the weekend before and that would avoid us having a bunch of crap lying around our yard. By crap I mean, roof tiles, wood, cardboard, rebar, cement, and a bunch of rocks and other junk.

Here is a picture of what the shed used to look like.

Now you will have to sing the “Jeopardy” theme song in your head while mimicking the wait we had for the following three weeks until pick-up……..all good? All done singing??

Okay.

Now we come to the beginning of December. Dude and I got down to business and made Mince meat outta that shed. It did take the better part of the weekend, but that’s because Dude wanted to start the project later in the day and go into the evening. Folks, it gets cold here when the sun goes down in the winter and the weekend we decided to do this, it was also windy. Cold provincial wind. Not really feelin’ the love about 6pm at night!

So right around that time, I bailed on him cuz I was just too plain cold. I went inside to cook dinner and sit right next to the heater. With only one man on the job it took a bit longer, but that’s life.

The next day we were able to finish it up and made some piles around the yard to get ready to take everything out to the drive way by mid-week for the pick-up.

Even even dug up some old bones. Cool, huh?

Here is what our yard looked like by the end of the second day.

The area where the shed once stood actually looks pretty good, and now it even seems that we have a bigger yard. Still haven’t decided on what to do with this area now, but I guess that will be a spring/summer project.

The next day I went over to the Maire to be sure that the special pick-up was really going to take place before I threw all our junk out onto the street the night before. When I got there I spoke to a different lady (of course) and she assured me that the pick-up was on schedule for this week and my request was put in. I reiterated to her exactly what I needed to have picked-up (and what was also written down on my request form). Well no sooner had I started telling her my items then she started shaking her head NO. I was like, “Excuse me?? I came here a month ago and the lady behind the counter wrote my request and items down and she didn’t have a problem then”. Well this lady tells me that the lady I dealt with was a substitute for the day and she should have had me come back instead of taking my application because they only come and pick up things from inside your house like beds, refrigerators, couches (you get the picture). Really?? And how is that my fault??

Of course, the Maire is not going to budge on this issue so I went home totally pissed cuz now I had all this crap in my yard ready to be hauled away and no one was coming to get it! Lucky for me I checked before setting it all out or I would have had a real big surprise on the day of pick-up and all that stuff would have still been there. I would have had to haul it all back into my yard!

Now the whole reason for this special pick-up is because Dude and I don’t have a truck or a trailer to go and do it ourselves (right now all we have is Benoit and he’s no good for stuff like that) so this was the next best thing and it was FREE!!!. There was no way I was gonna pas up free in this country.

So now Dude and I had to go waste 100€ on a rental truck and do it ourselves. Sheesh if I would have known that, we could have done this month’s ago when we had rented a truck to haul away a bunch of trash and did it all at the same time to save money! Gosh, the French bureaucracy sure pisses me off sometimes.

So, Dude and I start trying to find rental deals online and we found a Europcar near us that had a big truck to rent. Their site said that if you book your reservation online you get an “online deal” so we thought what the hay, go for it, even though they don’t tell you what kind of deal you’re actually getting.

The day to pick up the rental came and off we went. We had stipulated that we wanted the car at 10am so we could be sure to make several trips to the dump that day. No, I didn’t tell Europcar about the dump, I’m just telling you guys. Heck no would I say that to them, they’d probably charge me double. They just thought we were moving furniture.

We got to the rental place at 10am on the dot and guess what?? There was a sign on the door that said that they had left on an errand and wouldn’t be back until 11:45!!! Are you kidding me?? I swear these people will do anything to mess up your day. What! Does, like, only one person work in the stupid office! Well we weren’t about to go home so we looked around and saw that there was a Renault dealership across the round-about and decided to see if we could get an oil change on the car. The Renault shop said “Minute Renault” with no appointment necessary so maybe we could get her done. I left my business card on the Europcar office door with a note to have someone call cuz we had a reservation and they weren’t there. I really did write that.

Then we drove on over to Renault and after telling the guy across the counter that I only wanted an oil change and new filter and NOTHING more, he proceeds to tell me that it would be 109€. For an oil change?? You have got to be kidding me! What the heck is wrong with these people??!! A dang oil change and filter should be, like, 35€, MAX! What a rip off. How do these French people afford this kind of stuff? Where the heck is Jiffy Lube when you need them? I told the guy to forget it and that price was just too expensive. Then we left.

Lucky for us, right about then Europcar calls and says they’re back. Well, that was sure nice of them. I want to know why when we arrived back at their office there were two girls there. What’s up with both of them leaving to do the errand and close the office? Lame.

The next thing was even more fun for me. See, we found out that because we had rented the truck online and on a weekday that we saved a whole 11€ from the last time we rented which was on a weekend with no reservation. Now, I ask you, how is that supposed to get me to dance the jig?? A freakin’ whole 11€??!! I can’t even get a McDo meal for two with that. Here we go again trying to save money in this country and not ever able to! Just so you know Dude and I are looking into buying an old beat up truck or a trailer. We’re done with this ridiculous game playing they got going on here. Stupid 11€ discount. What the heck?! If I went right back over to Renault to have them change the oil now I could feel soooo much better knowing that I just save 11€ over at Europcar! Sheesh! There’s a whole lot of stupid going on in this here place.

After getting all our ducks in a row on the rental and feeling really ripped of for the day, we headed home to go load up on junk and make our rounds to the local dump. It was now almost 12:30pm and we had been at the rental car place 10am. Ahhh! Two and one half hours wasted on nothing. I actually got more pissed than that, but I’m a bit over it now.

The good part of the day came at this point. Dude and I actually got rid of all of our stuff in just three trips! That was pretty cool.

Trip #1

Trip#2

Trip#3

It did take the rest of the day and we slid in the gate of the dump on our third trip just before closing, but we did it and we were successful. The only funny thing that happened to us at the dump was that the guys that work there came up to us on our last trip to see if we were a company or not. I guess the same Europcar van showing up three times in one day is kind of a tip off. I told them no, we were not a business but that I had bought a nearly 300 year old house and was renovating. He gave me that look like, oh-I get it, and let us go on with our merry selves. I think if you are a business maybe they make you pay to dump your stuff. Not sure.

Home we went and finally happy that our crappy start to the day didn’t end up the same way. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I actually like going to the dump here. It isn’t icky like in The States. The one we have by us is all for recycled stuff and they have it all laid out nice and neat and it’s new. Also, it’s something you can just go and do yourself.

Well, one of our many projects has been completed. It sure does feels good when you can finally say that.

Christmas Rush

Friday night (2 days before Christmas), I made the mistake of wanting to go to Carrefour to pick up some groceries. No Christmas shopping mind you, just groceries to make it through the next few days.

Apparently, the French are no different than Americans when it comes to Christmas shopping. I guess these guys like to wait until the very last minute to “get her done” like we do. I swear everyone and their mother and grandmother was shopping that night at Carrefour. My gosh, you should have seen the parking lot! Now, the French do have something going for them that Americans do not. There was no pushing, shoving, total impatience, grabbing things out of other peoples hand or trampling your fellow Frenchman.

Here is what shopping in America looks like and I gotta tell you this time of year makes me pretty embarrassed that I’m American.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNnM24FVVAQ&feature=related

The French on the other hand were pretty civilized; it was just that the store was fuller and more crowded than I had ever seen it before.

When Dude and I drove into the parking lot, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. You see, Dude has this thing about his car. He thinks more of Benoit (and is more protective of him) than he is of me! Every five seconds while we were trying to find a place to park he kept saying “Oh my God, the car is going to get wrecked here, we have no chance!” Seriously, folks, that’s all I heard from him the whole time. You know what I was doing? Rolling my eyes. He has to be the biggest drama queen when it comes to this car. Now, it’s not that I don’t agree with him, I’m just not as obsessed with it as he is and for goodness sake it’s a freakin’ Renault “everyone has the same exact car” Megane! It’s not the cream of the crop or anything. Also, I constantly have to remind him that we live in France and to look around at all the cars here. There all banged up and falling apart cuz the drivers in Provence are completely nuts. If he didn’t want to be worried about dings and dents then we should have bought an old piece of junk and called it a day!

But, since we didn’t, I gotta keep listening to his OCD on Benoit and at this time of year (and summer vacation) it’s the worst.

Finally we found a spot and as his luck was good that night, the spot next to us was available too and just as another driver was coming around the corner to take the spot next to us do you know what Dude did? He parked diagonally taking up both spots so he could protect the car! Then we had to quickly exit the car and get as far away as possible from it so that no other driver would scream and yell at us for taking up two spaces at this busy time of year!

Once, in the store we were hit with a massive amount of shoppers all trying to load up on goodies and last minute presents. Then all of a sudden we hear this voice over some load speaker that sounds like a game show host. Guess what? That’s exactly what it was! There was this guy in a 3 piece suit walking around Carrefour with a microphone making all these announcements about specials and goodies you could win. I seriously felt like I was transported back in time to my childhood of the good ol’ days. This is something that you would have found in the 70’s in The States! Dude kept saying he felt like he was at a Telethon! Ha Ha. That’s exactly what it was, a freakin’ Carrefour Telethon. We passed this guy several times while shopping and he was in his own little world walking around with his microphone and announcing crazy specials of the day! It was a bit weird.

The other fun exciting thing was the meat and fish market. Those guys behind the counter were haggling and yelling out their prices and specials of the day (and I mean YELLING!). You could hear each of them trying to yell over the next guy about what they had to offer. I admit that part was pretty interesting, but at first I thought it was a fight that was occurring in the store. I could only hear the yelling but couldn’t see where it was coming from. Then when we finally made it over to that area of the store, we could see it was just market antics going on!

As we made our way down the store to put the few things we needed into the cart, we stopped by the gift card section. Now I know I said we weren’t there for any gift shopping, but I figured while we were at this section I would pick up a 50€ ITunes card for Tinki to add to her stocking. That’s seriously the best gift to give a teenager. Right about this time Dude starts stressing about the car. I kid you not, he’s telling me that we gotta go cuz he is worried about the car looking like it had been in a serious accident by the time we saw it again! So I grabbed the ITunes card then headed toward the check out.

I told Dude to go stand in line and wait cuz I wanted to use the bathroom. Now the reason I’m telling you this is because the bathroom that used to be in the store wasn’t there anymore! Gone. Completely and utterly gone and I mean even the built out area where it use to be! There wasn’t even a sign to tell you that they moved it or that it was going to be redone. It was just gone. Great, holiday shopping in a major store and no bathroom for the customers! Viola!

I rejoined Dude in line and let him know about the nonexistent bathroom and he just gives me that “typical” look. So we get up to the register and the cashier starts scanning our items. Then she gets to the ITunes card and it won’t scan. She tries it a couple of times and then says to me that it doesn’t work like I’m suppose to do something about it. I take off to go get another one and she tries to scan that one and it doesn’t work, either! She tells me again that it won’t scan and gives me a look like she just wants me to forget it and leave. Then a lady that is two clients behind me finds another one. The cashier tries that one and, you got it, the thing won’t scan. So now I’m 0 for 3 and this lady doesn’t even bother calling someone over to fix the issue, cuz it clearly is her issue and not mine, and the line behind me is starting to get longer.

So I decided to go and get 2 ITunes cards at 25€ each and maybe that would work. The first card scans, but guess what?? The second one doesn’t! Can you believe it?! At this point I am now starting to feel bad for all the customers behind me even though it isn’t my fault and I said to the cashier that I would just take the one card and call it a day. I really wanted to tell her that maybe, in the future, in order to sell their ITunes that it would be a good idea to have someone program the bar code into the system before putting the cards out. Then maybe they could sell some! Lame.

When we get to the car, Dude has to give it the once over just to be sure his baby is fine and good for him, it was. Mission accomplished minus an ITunes. Next hurtle was the exiting traffic. This particular Carrefour has everyone merging into one lane and then takes you on a tour of the parking lot, then the adjacent parking lot before allowing you to exit. It sort of feels like Autopia at Disneyland only not fun since no one ever allows anyone else to merge into the exit line!

I can’t believe I actually wanted to go to the store 2 days before Christmas and all for only a baguette, some cheese, some fruits and veggies, chicken and ½ of an ITunes present that wasn’t even on my list. Next year I’ll rethink going just before the holidays.

Christmas Lunch

Today was my company’s annual Christmas party and I gotta tell ya, it was quite nice. We went to a small restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean and it just so happened that today we had the nicest weather we’ve had in about a week.

It has been super windy, cold and dreary for the past week and yesterday I started to get a bit worried that the weather was going to damper the party. To my utmost surprise I woke this morning to a blue sky, no wind and one of the warmest days we’ve had in a while.

The restaurant had a gorgeous view and the tables were very nicely decorated. I had the most superb egg and truffle appetizer, beef entree covered in a delicious, mouth watering sauce and a dessert of chocolate that was to die for. The atmosphere was wonderful and calm and we had such a relaxing time. I do believe I should do this more often!

Note to self: When house is finished, hire cook to feed me meals like this to make me feel better.

 

Let’s Hear It For A New Roof and Façade

All the bids are in and Dude and I have painstakingly gone over them. Since they are all in French and include some very technical words and products we don’t understand, Dude has been doing all sorts of research. The whole process has taken nearly 4 weeks. This is from the time I called all the companies/people to make appointments with them until the last bid came through. Thank goodness I called a good number of contractors since we ended up getting such a variety of prices. I was warned by several people to call at least 5 different places and to not say that we are American. On the first point I succeeded but on the second point the accents gave us away so we couldn’t do much there.

I guess the word on the street is that all Americans are super rich and have money to burn. Therefore, the contractors will jack up the bids on us to make some extra cash. This inside scoop came from a Frenchman and it isn’t the first time we’ve heard it. Well, those of us from The States will definitely say that NOT all Americans are rich. I happen to be on the other end of the spectrum, hence Dude and I trying  to do all the work and finding the cheap materials ourselves. In light of some of the crazy bids we got, I’m now starting to think that the rumor of high bids to Americans must be true.

After Dude and I shared a few laughs on the extremely outrageous bids we got down to business on just what each company/person was willing to do for the money. Apparently each person has their own idea of how a roof and façade should be done. In this region there doesn’t seem to be any hard fast rule on the style or material used. It’s whatever the company thinks is suitable for your house. This makes it really difficult to decide on whom to use. You can’t really do a good comparison if your bids are for completely different materials and ideas. Due to this and the fact that money is our biggest obstacle, we had to go with the bid that was the cheapest. The other major factor in who we chose was that some of these bids were for doing a roof and façade that should be on a house in San Tropez. Some of these companies totally wanted to go overboard and it isn’t necessary. We just need a basic roof and façade that will keep out the rain and insulate us from the weather, not put us on the cover of Home and Garden Magazine!

People, we live in the country (ie; the middle of nowhere) and in a small town that no one has ever even heard of! What the heck do we need to get all fancy for? Dude said that these guys were off their rocker and most of them didn’t even know how to bid or what the average going price point was. When you have one company bidding at 150 Euros per meter square and then another company bidding at 54 Euros per meter square, you clearly have an issue!

After carefully looking over the best priced bid and feeling comfortable that this company was at least honest on price, we called the guy back out to our house to go over ever line item in detail to be sure we were all on the same wave length.

He came out last Friday and told us line for line what we were getting. We even went online with him to look and materials and ask questions. We mentioned to him that Dude wanted to put in a ventilating system since we don’t have enough airflow through the house. This is particularly bad on the third story and is one of the reasons why we are having problems in the house. The area of France in which we live has particularly high levels of humidity and along with needing our stone walls to breathe, we need to be sure our house is well ventilated and air can easily circulate throughout the day. This guy said that if we purchased the system we wanted that his men would help get the beginning stages of it put in at no extra charge. He also gave us a color scheme for the façade so we could choose the exterior stucco color we wanted. He said that the price also included him doing all the leg work with the Maire (talking to the Urbanisme and pulling permits if necessary). That is a big help to me since I wouldn’t know where to begin.

We shook hands on it and I told him that I needed to speak to the bank. Dude and I have to get a home improvement loan to get the work done. We don’t have the money handy in our back pockets and we sure as heck are going to touch what little retirement we have socked away for this work.

This past Wednesday we went to the same lady at the bank who gave us our home loan. She said no problem for this loan and we signed our life away. I don’t know about any of you guys out there, but for some reason getting loans in France is a piece of cake compared to The States. For us it has only been, ask and ye shall receive. Seems strange, but hey, I’m not complaining especially if it gets me the roof and façade we so desperately need.

The work is supposed to be done in a 14 day period depending on the weather. All the bids we got said that the payments go as such: 40% down on signing the contract (for reserving the workers and the dates and for getting all the materials and behind the scenes things done), 30% after the first week’s worth of work is done to our satisfaction and 30% when the work is completed.

We asked the bank lady who was going to protect Dude and I if we gave this company the 40% and they just took a hike and never came to do the work. Do you know what she said?! She said, “No one protects you. That’s just the chance you take in France”. That’s a load of hog wash and Dude and I weren’t too well pleased about it. She said that it was for that reason she looked up the company’s working license to check them out and to see if they had any bad ratings. She told us that they had been in business for 3 years and looked fine. If they didn’t she wouldn’t have given us the loan and would have told us to go find another company to use. I’ve also been doing research on them and I can’t find anything or anybody who has said something bad about them.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed since Dude and I don’t need any more surprises and issues. We have another appointment at the end of next week with these guys to hand over our life to them and then after that we wait. For now the work is schedule to start on 15 January and be done at the end of that month. In the meantime, we have to alert our neighbors since the scaffolding will be in their yards. We have a village house and unfortunately the two exterior walls that are being redone happen to be the ones that are on the property line between us and the neighbors! Oh boy, this is going to be so much fun! Not.

They better not give me any trouble since I’ve already reached my limit. I will be going to the Maire next week to see what I have to do to alert them. One person said I have to write them a letter and send it by post of the dates of the work and what materials will be used since the workers will technically be in their yards on the scaffolding. I am not sure if this person was correct or not so I have to go and get the official word at the Maire.

Well, in about one month’s time, we should know if we got ripped off or not. Of course, as always, I will let you know!

 

Sunrise

I have to confess that I have almost never seen a sunrise. For most of you that might be surprising, but I am more of a sunset kind of person. Not because I think sunsets are more beautiful but because I am a self professed night owl and hate to get up early in the morning. Anything before 8am is considered just way too early to me. On weekends I have even been known to sleep until after 10am!

Due to this, I have almost never captured a glimpse of a sunrise. As luck would have it, in Provence during this time of year, the sun rises at pretty close to 8am. On the day I took this photo it happened to be a night that I camp out at my office which over looks the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. I jumped at the chance to snap a couple of shots knowing that this was a rare experience for me. It was a gorgeous morning and I stood and watched the sun rise for as long as possible. That means until I felt I was going blind. I’ll make sure I leave that part out at my next eye check-up when my doctor asks me if I ever look at the sun for long periods of time 🙂

Update Chez Moi

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write and give everyone the low down on what’s been happening chez moi. I did promise I would do that when I had some good news to give. We’ve had some accomplishments on a few things, but in others none.

The good news first is always the best so I’ll start with that.

Right about the time that Dude and I hit what we thought was the lowest point possible, an EXTREMELY nice and giving couple offered to come and help us out with our plumbing issues. Toni and Patrick live around a 5 hour round trip drive from their house to ours, yet they were most generous and wonderful to make the trek down and help us out. I can’t tell you what a lifesaver this couple was to Dude and I.

Patrick had a truck with all the handy dandy tools and the no-how needed to get the job done. He and Toni came down on a Friday afternoon and by that evening we were up and running with a full fledge shower and working toilets to match.

When they arrived, Patrick was able assess what was needed and how to help Dude put in an all new drainage system for us. He was even able to fix the blockage in about 5 minutes (something no other plumber was able to do!) Once that was done, he and Dude headed off to a store not far from us that specializes in drainage pipes and plumbing. They found everything they needed in one shot and some of the stuff Patrick already had on his truck (like fast drying glue for the pipes that really worked).

While the boys were at the store, Toni and I visited and got to know each other. We both had a great time talking about where we grew up, moving to France and our lives since we landed here. It was nice to talk to someone other than Dude and Tinki! Even though I love them both, sometimes it’s nice to just visit with someone else.

During this time, I also met with two women who came to measure the windows in the house. We have 4 windows that should be changed since they are single paned. I wanted to see what they would charge to change the windows. Dude and I had already been looking at stores ourselves, but each of the windows is a custom size and we just can’t seem to find anything that worked. I decided to give these gals a shot since they were there. It turns out that new, double-pained windows are a small fortune here if they are custom sizes. When these girls gave me the total price for just 4 windows, I know my eyes must have bugged out of my head! There was just no way I was gonna pay that price. I took the measurements they made for me and showed them the way out. Thanks anyway, girls!

In the meantime the boys returned with all their supplies and got to work in the yard. They actually got it done really quickly and tested it out and “voila” running water and bathrooms that work! They even ran a “future” so that at some point we could put the house on a separate system than the apartment. We are having trouble with our neighbor on that idea so that is another story in the near future to tell you guys.

Here is just a couple of shots. Drainage pipe is not too exciting so I only snapped two shots.

It doesn’t look like a lot of work, but in actuality it was. To dig the trenches and get rid of the old pipe and all the tree roots took a while and Dude had already done most of that work before Patrick arrived. It also had to have a slope so gravity could take everything out to the street. Definitely more complicated than I thought it would be. Now, all is good!

The inside of the house (downstairs bathroom and bedroom) still looks terrible. The damage has not yet been cleaned up and we are awaiting the insurance company to see if we can recoup some of the damages done to the bathroom walls, floors and to the furniture that was ruined. No word yet.

After fixing the plumbing, Patrick and Dude checked out our heating system.  Patrick had already checked it out when he and Toni came to the house a few days before to meet us, but this time around it was a more thorough check. We have the type of heating that is a boiler system. There is a room in the garage that houses the boiler and just outside of that room is a large fuel tank. We have the old fashion radiators in the house where the hot water runs through them and heats the house. We had never used it since we weren’t sure if it actually worked or if there needed to be anything replaced on it. It turns out that Patrick knows all about these and he showed Dude how to check it and use it. He also told us that the pump was no good and we needed a new one, but everything else on the unit was in pretty good shape. I don’t think the original owners ever really used it. That’s surprising cuz since Patrick told Dude all about it, he started to do some research on them (mostly cuz we needed a new pump) and he found out that these systems are fairly expensive. We were able to turn it on that night and get it running and even with the pump not working it warmed up the first level of the house pretty good. The heat couldn’t really get to the second level, though without the pump.

So, in one day’s time, those terrific guys fixed our drain and figured out the heating system. We were starting to feel a great deal better (mostly cuz I was finally able to take a nice, long, hot shower and have a warm house).

That night I made “Lydia’s homemade chicken noodle soup” (so named for a friend who taught me how to make it) for our guest. Toni went to the local pit stop in our town and bought some wine and dessert and we had a lovely dinner. We were even treated to Patrick’s wonderful guitar playing and singing! It was so awesome! He sang and played a combination of Spanish and Gypsy music. He’s a great singer and guitar player. Even Tinki was impressed and I tell you, it’s hard to impress teenagers these days!

Toni and Patrick spent the night at our house and in the morning the boys went over what Dude should do with the new bathroom shower that we need to put in. Patrick said that he would be willing to come back in January to help Dude install it. What a terrific man! Then we all went down the street, Toni and I walked and the boys drove, to the little market. I had mentioned to Toni that Dr. Pepper was my favorite drink in the whole, wide world and she loves it, too. She said Patrick loved it and I just cracked up on that cuz a French guy who loves Dr. Pepper is the best ever! When Toni told Patrick about it, his eyes lit up and he wanted to go get some. It turns out the boys made it to the store before Toni and I and Patrick had bought out the entire store’s worth of it. It was great!

When we had said our good-byes we promised to meet up again and just hang out instead of it being a “come on down and work at my house” weekend. Dude and I are truly grateful and awed at the fact that people we had never met would go WAY out of their way and busy schedule to help someone in need. I am so thankful for that cuz without them we would still be trying to conquer that situation.

As for the roof and the façade, we are still working on that, but no progress yet. We have had several appointments with contractors for both and have just received all the bids so are now going over them with a fine-tooth comb. It looks like we might have a winner and we will be meeting him on Wednesday for verification of everything. I will keep you posted on that one.

The big eye opener for roofing and façade has been the prices. Dude and I are appalled, as usual, with pricing. If I’m not mistaken, I showed all the contractors the same roof and the same two exterior walls that needed to be done, but by golly did the prices range from the decent to insane! I swear to you, the lowest bid was 30 000€ LESS than the highest bid! What the heck is with that? The variance is so outrageous. I want something simple. I don’t want to by these contractors a new BWM for Christmas, sheesh!

I will keep you all posted on the continuing saga…..

 

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