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…..


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 December 5, 2011, in The House of the Farmer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Are you sure those two people were not angels in disguise? As you said, it is amazing that two strangers would come down and help you out of the clear blue. I am so thankful for you. I hope this is the start of good things for you, Dude and Tinki. You have put the fear into me relative to the roof though; the lovely lady who looks after our house tells me the macon has told her we will have to replace our roof within two years.

    • Hi Michel,

      Angels in disguise is quite possible! Dude and I have been blessed twice over. Firstly with the great help we received and second with the new friends we have found here. Both have been very uplifting to us. It just goes to show you how a little bit of kindness sure goes along way in the life of someone 🙂 If they person who does our roof turns out to be good, I will give you their name. Their bid was reasonably priced so if we go with it, I will let you know if we got our money’s worth!

  2. Ashley didn’t mention that Toni was tired of talking to French people all day (including her wonderful French husband) and it was cheaper to drive to Chez Ashley & Michael than to fly back to the States for some familiar conversation and one night without cheese as part of the menu!

    After Ashley clued us in to Dr. Pepper and searching the International section of the food stores, this weekend we went to the Geant Casino (that’s a store, not a gambling joint) in Nimes and Patrick bought out all the Dr. Pepper’s there, too! Oh, and they had Dr. Pepper Zero, too. What a treat! And Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix.

    Anyway, glad we helped each other out. Like Ashley, I’m feeling better, too. Patrick may have saved their plumbing; but they may have saved our marriage! Thanks guys for your wonderful hospitality.

    • Well now, I think you are being super Toni on the wonderful hospitality! You had to bring the stars with you to our hotel remember? I’m not sure bringing your own bed and heater is great hospitality nor is having to go all afternoon without a bathroom, but I’m sure glad you guys did! I don’t think your stay will be on the radar for Rick Steves anytime soon, but we sure did enjoy having you.
      Triple yahoo for Geant Casino and the best selection of Dr. Pepper I’ve heard of yet. We don’t have one near us, but if we did, I’m with Patrick on buying up all that good stuff.
      Thanks to you guys the family went off on Sunday for a day of much needed site-seeing. We were finally able to relax for a few hours and not have to think about plumbing!

  3. Yay! Glad for some good news!

  4. I’ve been wondering how you were doing and am so glad the angels found you and that you helped each other…a big ray of sunshine in the deep gloom. Keep us apprised when you can.

    • Hi Lee,

      I sure will. I, too, am glad the angels found me. No matter who you are or where you are, everyone can use angels to help them out! We are not out of the woods, yet, but I do say that warm showers and heat are heavenly 🙂

  5. Welcome back,

    I was beginning to think that you had given up on your dream and moved away. I am pleased to hear that someone has at last come to your aid and given you some help, it always gives you a bit of a lift when you realize that there are still some good people in this world of ours. Please do keep us posted.

    • Hi Stephen-I was pretty much on my way and if Dude wore the pants in the family we would have been out of here. We still have so much to do, but nothing else major will be accomplished until after the new year. We have some odds and ends to work on through the end of the year which is more than enough to keep us busy. Every day is always an adventure here! I still want to have some hope that we are going to make it.

  6. Ashley . . .so glad to hear the good news!!! I kept checking back (this week was full of interviews & a big final exam), and was thrilled to read your post detailing the huge effort made by your new angel friends. Doesn’t it just make you feel so good when others reach out and help like that? I have no doubt that you will play it forward (your uplifting emails certainly helped me). I hope the roof and other issues are resolved soon, and that you have a wonderful holiday!

    • Hi Debra-How did your interviews and exams go? Well I hope. I am still waiting to see if France is on the horizon for you. Make sure you look me up when you get here. Maybe the house will be done by then!

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