Monthly Archives: February 2012

Night Of The Big, Scary, Black Bug

Last week Tinki, for some odd reason, got up at 4:30am and went down to the kitchen. Apparently on her way there she spotted a big bug that scared her so much that she rushed over to our room, threw open the door in a flurry and yelled out very loudly, “Mom! There is a HUGE, black, scary bug and I can’t get back to my room! He flies, too! Hurry, hurry he’s really scary and you have to get him right now!”

The main thing that is wrong with this situation is that Tinki says the words “mom” and “scary bug” in the same sentence. She and everyone else who knows me, knows that I don’t get the bugs in the house. No way, Jose, that’s the man’s job. I don’t even like bugs unless they have the word “lady” or “pill (aka rolly-polly)” in front of them. So her waking me up instead of going directly to dad was just ludicrous, I tell ya!

Secondly, you all know what it’s like to get woken up suddenly from a dead sleep. You’re all discombobulated and don’t even know where you are for a second. Well, a second is about how much time it took me to hit Dude to wake him up and also for me to say, “Dude, wake up! Tinki says there is a huge, black, scary bug. Go get it!” Then of course Dude has to take a few seconds to even get what’s going on (and I don’t even understand why cuz how could he not have heard Tinki burst into the room and scream out at us about the bug in the first place!) Then he would have already been awake like I was. I don’t think guys hear their own kids, ever, when they get up in the middle of the night no matter how old the kid is!

So Dude gets up all moaning about having to get this giant bug that he probably believes to be pretty small and Tinki is blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Once he leaves to go investigate, I promptly try and go back to sleep cuz I don’t want anything to do with it!

Unfortunately, sleep was not in the cards for me cuz I kept hearing all this ruckus coming from the kitchen with those guys talking and Tinki giving out a little scream every once in a while. Then all of a sudden, I hear this mad dash and doors slamming and then Tinki cracking up! At this point, I have to get out of bed to go and investigate to see what the heck these guys are doing. It’s a bug, for goodness sakes, guys should just know how to get those things!

I finally make it into the hallway were Dude has the door to the kitchen cracked open and he’s looking around to see where this big, scary bug went and Tinki is looking right around him to see if she can spot it. I inquire as to what the heck they are doing and Tinki starts cracking up saying that I should have seen dad a minute ago run for his life cuz he was all scared when the bug was flying around.

At this point Dude is in the bathroom trying to find a large piece of cardboard to squish the thing with and when I look over at him to get his side of the story all he says is, “It’s really a huge bug! I gotta find something big to get him with!” To this my only response was, “How the heck did he get in since we’ve been on lock down for weeks with the terrible weather? I wanna know so I can fix this from happening again.” Maybe there is some secret hole in the house somewhere that bugs can come through and I would need to send him off to find it so we don’t get anymore scary surprises. Well he says, “I don’t know! It’s a bug. They just have ways of getting in the house.” Unfortunately that wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear.

So off we go to the kitchen to seek this thing out. We carefully opened the door to the kitchen and looked around. All was quiet so we ventured in. We took a look around in all the nooks and crannies and finally Tinki spotted the thing resting on the ceiling light fixture, then she high-tailed it outta there. I guess she figured her job in this whole matter was done. It was even so big that it’s back leg could be seen holding on to the light fixture around the back side!

I took a look at him and it was a definite yes on the big and scary cuz this guy was yucky. I looked at Dude with that piece of cardboard in his hand and was like, no way, you aren’t going to be able to get him with that while he is on the light. Right at that moment he says that he can’t see the thing. How the heck can he miss it, it’s huge and black! Then he reminds me that he doesn’t have his contacts in so he can’t see anything. Great, the blind man who has the guts to do the job and the sighted woman who doesn’t. Boy, we sure make a good pair!

So Dude says he is going to get the vacuum and suck him up. Great idea and I headed off to go get the shop vac with the giant hose. Well, he decides that the household vacuum would work just fine and goes into the living room to get it. As he comes back into the kitchen, vacuum cleaner on and hose stretched out to suck up the bug he says to me, “Okay, I’m ready. Where is it?” What!!!!! He is going to try to get that hose next to it and try to suck it up when he can’t see it and then the bug is going to get wise and fly away and start chasing all of us cuz now its mad and then we will be knocking each other over trying to save ourselves! Oh yes, I could see it all playing out.

So I point to the bug and move the hose over a bit so he can just move in and get the bug and all the while he is saying, “Where is it? Am I close to it?” and me going, “No, you have to move closer but don’t scare it!” Then he is saying, “Okay, how about now?” Then I said, “Better, but I think that the opening to the vacuum cleaner is too small!”

All of a sudden he says, “Too small! I don’t think the bug is THAT big.” This from a man who can’t see it. I reiterate that I think the end of the hose is too small and he should get the shop vac. In the end he said no to that and moved in closer to where he thought the big, black, scary bug was and ‘SWOOP’ was the sound we heard as that thing got sucked right up. I think it might have hit its head on the way down the tube cuz it was a pretty big sound when that happened. It was so loud that we all just started cracking up and then for a couple seconds all of us were saying, ‘SWOOP, SWOOP’!

So with that, Dude saved the day and Tinki could go back to bed. Amazingly it was 5:00am when the whole thing was over. We had been after this bug for 30 minutes!

I didn’t really sleep too good for the rest of the night since seeing a bug like that kind of grosses me out. Also being woken up and made to stay awake at that hour tends to make my body believe that it should be time to get up for good.

I told Dude that he needed to check the vacuum in the morning to be sure it was still in there and had died. He just looked at me and said, “SWOOP, honey nothing could live after that!”

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ATP Tennis Open 13 – Marseille

The company I work for mostly uses FedEx to receive our inbound packages and to ship our products out. Now, I definitely have had my share of the not-so-great experiences (I even wrote about one here and here) with FedEx, but for the most part we’ve had a pretty great relationship and due to the amount of packages we send out every week, I’d say their track record is really good.

I’ve meet with our account representative several times and we get along really great. She has sent me some very nice personal emails and we’ve chatted a good deal about our families.

Apparently she likes me cuz last week I got a personal invitation from her to see the ATP Tennis match that was being held in Marseille. She let me know that she had two tickets available for Friday, 24 February and if I would like to go. The tickets were the super awesome VIP kind which meant that we would get to have lunch with her and some of the other account reps and a few other invitees and we would get to sit in the VIP seats of the FedEx box right down in front next to the court.

Well, me being a huge tennis fan, took no time in responding to her with a resounding “Oui, avec plaisir!”  All Dude and I had to do was show up at the appropriate time and show our ID and we were in like Flynn.

When Friday came around Dude and I hit the highway about 9:30am since it takes a while to get to Marseille from our house. Amazingly, I took the day off of work and told everyone that I would not be available by phone or email. This was the first time I have ever done this since working for this company! In the whole time I’ve been there, I’ve never taken a day off of work and put my out of office assistant on. I did work on the house during the summer months for a couple of days during the week, but I always had my computer on and my email constantly streaming so I was always available to work. Believe it or not, I am bit nervous about people not being able to get in touch with me when it comes to work. I’m sort of a work-a-holic and a day off or vacation days seems a bit stressful cuz I’m always worried that inevitably something will go wrong that ONE or several days that I’m gone.

This time around I just said “screw it”, I would be at the match and there wasn’t anything I could do about someone trying to get a hold of me and I would just answer all my emails in the evening! For a little bit of the morning I was stressed, but I got over it by the time we arrived at the courts. I just kept telling myself that it was Friday and no one in Europe works on a Friday 🙂

Once Dude and I arrived at the Palais des Sports in Marseille and parked the car, we proceeded to the entry that said VIP and went to the desk to get our tickets. We followed the runway into the underground area where the ATP Tennis association had spruced it all up with a restaurant, bars, France Bleu Provence radio station area, and all sorts of stands for goodies. I was even able to watch a guy string a new racket for one of the guest. That was fascinating since I had never seen that in person before.

Lunch was at noon and Dude and I arrived about 30 minutes before that so we just took a tour around the facility. I was amazed at all the old wooden tennis rackets they had on display and the wall paper they had made of photos of old tennis magazines. It brought back memories of my childhood when my mom would watch the tennis matches on television of the great players of decades ago. They had photos of Billy Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Arthur Ashe, and Bjorn Borg among others. My mom was a fantastic tennis player in her youth. She played on a team and was the proud owner of many trophies. As a result of her love of tennis it became a very intricate part of my childhood. I didn’t appreciate it growing up, but as I became a teenager I remember practicing with my wooden racket hitting the ball against our wooden garage door. I had forgotten about that until I saw those old wooden rackets and those memories all flooded back to me. Especially the ones where my friend Carmen and I would tell her little sister Melanie to run across the front of the garage while we hit the ball! Bad kids 🙂 Just so you know, she never really got hurt badly….well, maybe once or twice.

Around noon my account rep, Joelle, turned up with Audrey a co-worker who came down from Lyon for the day to enjoy the match. Here is a photo of me and Joelle.

We were also greeted by Benjamin who is another co-worker of Joelle’s. While we were waiting for the other guests to arrive Dude and I conversed with the FedEx people and got to know them a bit better. Benjamin was hilarious and at one point he was telling us about this cool game he had on his IPhone where you do a shoot-out. He demonstrated how you take your phone out of your pocket and whip it out in front of you mimicking a gun and then you point and shoot your opponent. He showed us a couple of times how it worked and in the process actually whipped the phone out and it literally flew out of its case, twirled a couple of times in mid air as it flew across the table and almost landed in the bowl of ice. It was completely hysterical and all of us started cracking up. I asked him if he had spare phones cuz of this game and he said “Yes, 3 of them!” Apparently this app from IPhone can be a bit expensive to play!

Once the other guest arrived our lunch was served. Audrey, who happened to sit next to me, explained to me what everything was. I asked her to do so since I don’t like fish and wanted to avoid anything of that nature.

The first course was a crème brulee with foie gras. This was very tasty and it actually enhanced the flavor when I dipped my bread into it and used it as more of a spread then just eating it straight out of the bowl like everyone else.

Next up we were served a red pepper cut and stuffed with fish placed on a disk of olives with some ratatouille. I loved the olives and the ratatouille but left the fish, of course. For some reason this part of the meal was of particular interest to Benjamin as he got on the subject of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He didn’t know the word for dwarf so he, Joelle, and Audrey proceeded to ask me what we called very small people in English. Mind you, before they asked the question, I was not aware of why they were asking it so you can imagine the look of confusion on my face when it came up! It seems that Benjamin thought that the cut pepper stuffed with fish resembled the hat that the dwarfs wore in the movie and he wanted to make this point but didn’t know how to tell me in English since he didn’t know what the word was. Once I knew where he was going with this, I was able to tell him (although none of them could say the word cuz I guess it’s one of the more difficult words for the French to say). Later on Dude told me that he was super uncomfortable with the conversation cuz it just so happened that Audrey was extremely tiny. In fact, she is probably one of the tiniest French people I’ve met. This being the case Dude didn’t really want to talk about small people in front of her. Although see didn’t seem to mind very much when she brought up the fact that she hated those little garden gnomes cuz they scared her! It was by far the strangest conversation that lasted about 10 minutes all because of what this particular item of food looked like!

Next up was the main course. This happened to be some more fish (which I politely left on my plate) along with some delicious vegetables. All this was served with a wonderful red wine, a 2009 Bouches-du-Rhone 45. I’m not really a wine drinker, but I gave it a go and to my surprise it was excellent. I made sure I ate heartily since I’m a bit of a light weight. I wouldn’t want to be sliding out of my seat during the game!

Last, but not least, was the delicious dessert. It was a lemon and coconut cake served with a side of sorbet. Dude couldn’t even finish it cuz he said it was too sugary. I soooo didn’t have a problem with that!

Lunch was concluded around 2pm and the match was due to begin so off we went to our VIP box seats. I was totally delighted when I saw that our seats were right down in front and we were going to have a terrific view of the game.

The first match was between two Frenchmen, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. I was not familiar Roger-Vasselin, but I had seen Tsonga play before so I was rooting for him. The game turned out to be pretty exciting with Roger-Vasselin being a fair opponent. I was able to get some good shots of both players while they were serving and also in between games. In the end Tsonga beat out Roger-Vasselin  2-0.

This particular tennis tournament was using the scoring of best two out of three sets to determine the winner of the match. I prefer that type of scoring as oppose to best three out of five. Then you’re able to stick around for a possible second match given that the first match will usually last anywhere from 1 and ½ to 2 hours.

There was about a 30 minutes intermission between the first match and the second. Right before the second match began we were all treated to a disco sort of show. They turned down the lights, turned on the strobes, blared music and had a pretty groovy television screen show of multi-colors and advertisements for the tournament. It was all in good fun and woke us all up after sitting around for so long eating, drinking and watching the first match. Towards the end of this little “1/2 time” show they introduced the next two players who were going to be in the second match, they both happened to be French, as well.

I shot a little video of the “half time” show. It was really more exciting than what the video shows, though.

I had never heard of Michael Llodra or Albano Olivetti, but these two players sure did put on a good match for us. It was Olivetti’s first appearance at this match and I tell you this guy has got a serve that would knock you out. He was hitting some top speeds for someone who was there for the first time and he even took out a referee during one of his serves! It got to the point that the audience would cringe as the ball came hurling towards them during his service and they all were hoping that Llodra would be able to return the shot! This guy’s serves almost took out some of the ball boys and girls, too. They were darting around like it was dodge ball. It was actually quite humorous and the camera men started to put up instant replays of the cringing audience after Olivetti served! In the end, though, it was Llodra that won two sets out of three and took the match. Though Olivetti was great at serving he seemed to fall short on returns and didn’t have too much stamina. I will be watching him closely as he is only around 22 and could have a good career ahead of him.

After this match a little boy of about 11 years of age from the local tennis club was invited to play against Llodra. This kid was great! He had Llodra running around the court a couple of times and really played well. After about 10 minutes of fun he was rewarded with an interview and his picture taken for the news. It was really delightful to see this young boy make some terrific plays on the guy who just won the match!

Once concluded that was the end for Dude and I. We were escorted out since the next game was for new ticket holders. I thanked Joelle for inviting Dude and I and let her know we had a really terrific time. I would sure like to be able to go again some time. This was a first for me and Dude and it’s nice to enjoy a little “perk from work” every now and then.

Since it was about 5:45pm and high traffic time on the freeways leaving Marseille, Dude and I headed over to one of our favorite and very missed spots, Starbucks at the Vieux Port. We hung out for a while, chatted and relaxed with a snack and REAL BIG coffee and waited for the traffic to die down. We headed home around 8pm (since that’s when Starbucks closes and they kick you out). Totally lame, I know! Who goes home at 8pm on a Friday night! Starbucks seriously needs to get their priorities straight!

Off we went happy that we had a super fun day and great experience at the tennis match and totally buzzed out on Starbucks coffee! Friday was definitely and excellent day in my book 🙂

The Roof is Finally Done!

Yippey! Our roof is finally finished! It’s been months in the making (as all of you who are faithful readers of my ramblings know), but now I am happy to report that the workers completed the job today and it looks terrific. Now I am proud to say I have one of the newest and best looking roofs in my village 🙂

This morning the workers came to put on the finishing touches and to do all the clean up. They are in the process of picking up all the junk in my garden and taking all the trash to one of my favorite places, the dump. All the materials are slowly being moved out of the way or taken away.

They moved some of the things to the front part of our garden.

I’m not sure if the mixer will be used for the façade or not, but the other materials should be hauled away in the next day or two. The scaffolding is still up. Sometime this week, hopefully tomorrow, they should be taking it down and repositioning it around the back and east facing side of the house to start the work on the façade.

Thankfully through this whole process, we only had a few small things happen, but nothing too extreme. One was the snow day when the workers showed up for about 30 minutes and then left cuz there was no way they were gonna be able to work in the snow and cold, the second thing was when it was super windy one day and they didn’t get as much work done as they could have and they left early and the third thing was the rain that we had on Monday.

For Monday’s rain, Dude had to go up all by himself at 5:30am in the morning and put a giant tarp on the roof because when the workers left on Friday there was no real threat of rain so they left the water vapor barrier and wood all exposed on the east side. Dude was really worried that we might get a heavy rain after viewing the weather report late Sunday night so we set our alarm and he went up and covered everything. This was also in case the workers didn’t show up due to heavy rain. Then we could feel comfortable knowing that at least we weren’t going to have any leaks.

While he was up there it did start to sprinkle and there was a bit of wind that kicked in so he used the surrounding tuiles to hold the tarp down. Since he was by himself the whole thing took a little over an hour, but he was successful.

About 8:30am the workers showed up. Right about then it really started to rain pretty hard but they decided to keep working and they kept the tarp on in certain areas to protect the roof, too. We took off for work and had hopes that the rain wouldn’t get any worse and happily it only last for a little bit so the workers were able to continue.

On Tuesday, the main guys said they would most likely be finished that day and they were just going to finish cementing the outer edges and the flashing around the old chimneys and our new window.

I am really happy that we actually had workers show up each and every day and stay the whole day, too! They even only took a 1 hour lunch break!

I really wanted Dude to go up on the roof and take some super duper pictures of it, but he is not too keen on walking on the new tiles. I can understand that given that it cost us an arm and a leg each for the work. So I just peaked my head out of our new roof window and took a couple of shots of the east facing side.

Then Dude decided that he was willing to climb the scaffolding to take some shots of the west facing side. I was ever so happy about this cuz his photos are better than mine. They actually show how nice our tuiles look on a large scale!

Even though my roof looks great and it’s new, Dude and I won’t be totally impressed until we get another really good rain and no leaks happen. That will be the real test!

About 9 and ¾

Well, I don’t have too much on the roof update to report about. We’ve been lucky that every day the workers have actually shown up and put in a full day’s work (maybe Peter Mayle should have contracted with these guys)! The only day this past week that there seemed to be a rough patch was on Wednesday when it got super windy and the guys left about an hour earlier than usual. The funny thing is that I wish they would have left sooner! I was really worried about them working so high up in such strong winds and gusts, especially cuz they don’t wear any safety harnesses. They muddled through, but I think that day set them back a bit cuz they weren’t able to work as fast as usual.

The rest of the week went well, though, and they are now about half way done with the east side of the roof.

We happen to have a window in the roof on the east side and Dude and I very much needed to change the existing one. So after the workers left on Friday, Dude climbed up on the roof and tore out the old window. It was a spaceship looking dome kind of thing and was actually kind of cool cuz it had this bubble hatch that was really easy to open and gave great access to the roof. It had a holder on it and you could prop the hatch open either a little or a lot depending on how much air flow you wanted that day. It was really a neat design, but it was old and leaking and just needed to be taken out.

The roof window happens to be in the bathroom so once it was removed we had to put in the new window right away.  Here is the hole that was left when we removed the old one.

Fortunately for us, we found a window that happened to be the perfect fit at Point P. It isn’t the top of the line or anything, but it is double-paned (the only double-paned window in the house) and since we bought it right off the shelf at the store it was fairly inexpensive. Unfortunately all the other windows in the house are single-paned and were custom made so we are just going to leave them for now.

Dude managed to chisel out a bit of the roof and ceiling, cut some wood to fit around the chassis of the window and screw that into the roof and place the window in pretty quickly. Now when the workers come back on Monday they can just tile around it and we should be all good. This new window actually gives us some really great light. We hadn’t realized how dark the bathroom was when the other window was in. This window makes everything all light and bright. It’s a big improvement!

The other thing Dude did is cut a hole in the ceiling of the closet on the third story so we can put in a whole house ventilation system. We bought the tuile (the one that looks like it has a little house on top) a week ago in anticipation of getting the system set up. It was easier to have the tuile for the ventilation put on at the same time the rest of the tuiles are going in so we took the opportunity to give it to the workers to set it in place.

We decided to put in a ventilation system since we live in an area that has about 78% or higher humidity for at least 8 months of the year. The second and first story of the house has fairly good air circulation, but the third story is awful and that is where the mildew problems are the worst. This is the main reason why the façade is being done, as well. Right now the outside of the house on the back and east facing side has never been stucco’d. It is just rock and it soaks up the water when it rains and it permeates through the walls causing mold and mildew. That along with no proper ventilation has been really bad. When the façade and new ventilation system are both done, it should be a big help to combat this problem.

It seems that the workers have at least two more days before the roof is finished. It could be three, but in any case, if the weather remains good then they should be totally finished before the week is out. Every day gets us a day closer to getting her done.  We might be a little farther away than 9 and 3/4, but I like the way that sounds (being a Harry Potter fan and all). Plus, I figure I should go with the power of positive thinking 🙂

Taxi Ride, Provence Style

For the record, I try to avoid taxi rides here in Provence. Reason numero uno, the drivers in this region of France are absolutely crazy and reason numero dos, the TAXI drivers in this region of France are absolutely crazier than the drivers in this region of France. Now all you guys who live in Provence know exactly what I’m talking about. The drivers here go WAY to fast, ride up on your butt and stay there (as if there is somewhere they’re gonna go in traffic!), lane change constantly going at light speed and pass on blind spots. I’m sure they do other “interdit” maneuvers, but those are at the top of my most well known list.

Well, yesterday I had to do something that I’m not really fond of (actually two things). Go to Marseille during morning traffic hours AND take a taxi there. I had an appointment in the morning and was warned that a parking space would never be found close to the building and that the public parking structure was a bit far from my appointment. So instead of me driving to Marseille in my car and stressing out about it, I took a taxi ride and stressed out about it.

When the taxi arrived, I was at least smart enough to get in the back seat instead of the front seat.  I knew that the drive was going to be a bit scary but I had no idea it was going to be an E-ticket ride! At 8am in the morning, with some light traffic on the first auto route we took, the taxi driver was seriously barreling down the high way faster than the legal limit and making swift lane changes without signaling. I couldn’t even look straight ahead because each time I tried I would just see an ocean of cars in front of me with their break lights on and my taxi driver not slowing down but doing a quick lane changes instead! Right away I figured I would just play games on my cell phone so I could avoid looking out the front window (that didn’t last too long, I got a bit carsick). Then I moved on to looking out the side window and sort of up at the sky. That seemed to help.

Before arriving to the interchange, I started to experience a great deal of speeding up and slamming on the breaks syndrome. For some odd reason all the drivers here just love to accelerate when up a head of them they have no where they can possible go and then just suddenly break at the very last moment only when they absolutely have to, thus giving everyone in their car a bunch of mini whip-lashes throughout the duration of the trip.

Things got a bit better when we transitioned onto the second auto route towards Marseille. That’s because the cars all came to a slow roll and there was pretty much heavy traffic.  About five minutes after being on this highway we came upon an accident. On the right-hand shoulder, a car had gone about half way over the railing (its back tires were actually hugging the railing and keeping it from falling all the way over on the other side) and there was a woman lying on the highway shoulder off to the side of the car! I’ve seen after-math accidents before, but never have I seen a person just lying on the side of the road! It was quite shocking to see and she appeared not to be moving. The paramedics hadn’t arrived yet and there were three other people standing next her. After we very slowly passed the scene of the accident, I looked over at the driver of the taxi and we both raised our eyebrows at each other in a bit of a shocked look. I felt like saying to him, “See, that’s why you shouldn’t drive like a freakin’ idiot!”

The rest of the way to Marseille was still heavy traffic and so we just rolled along with the taxi driver sending text messages to his buddies the whole way and constantly looking back and forth between his phone and the road. Hmmmm, I think that might be “interdit” here, as well. He did have to slam on his breaks a couple of times to avoid his own small fender bender. Did he already forget the accident we just saw cuz I didn’t?!

Once off the auto route and in Marseille, he still drove like a crazy person. We were weaving in and out of the lanes for regular cars and then the lanes for buses. There were even times when our lane was blocked by another car who had stopped and put their hazard lights on and the taxi driver would speed up to be able to cut into oncoming traffic to go around them even if there was barely any time or space to do so before the oncoming car was upon us!  At those few times I know I shut my eyes tight (a small scream might have even escaped my lips)!

I did manage to get to my destination before my appointment time, but I was a bit twitchy after the ride to say the least.  As I left the taxi, the driver gave me his card and said to call him when I was finished and he would pick me up. Oookay????? Well, what’s it gonna hurt to give him call? It’s not like there would be a chance I’d get another taxi driver who would drive slower. With my luck it would probably be the complete opposite and my ride home would be worse!

After my appointment I called the taxi driver and he was there in about 15 minutes (big surprise given the speed of his driving).

I strapped in and was ready for the ride which happened to be much faster than my morning ride given that the traffic was all but gone and we were now leaving Marseille. Again I just looked out the side window the whole way. This time around he was able to get up to pretty high speeds and weave in and out of traffic with more ease. I was really quite scared the whole way home more so than the ride to Marseille. A few times when we were in what some would consider the fast land on the auto route (every lane could have been called the fast lane with this guy) he would come upon a car that was “in his way” and he wasn’t able to change lanes cuz there was a car already there, so he would get so close to the car in front of him that the bumpers of the cars were practically touching!!! Then he would break, speed up, break and speed up, until the car in front of him would speed up and go into the next lane to move out of the way!  This happened on several occasions going home.  What happened to respecting a two car length space between cars!?? This sort of driving is so dangerous that I can’t believe anyone would even consider doing it, yet there my driver was all cool and calm about it.

I felt like I was on Space Mountain and I should put my hands up and scream!

Thankfully, I made it back to my home base all safe and sound. Once there, as I was paying the cab fee, the driver asked me when I was leaving to go to the airport cuz he would drive me there. I gave him a big smile and told him that I lived here so no other taxi ride was necessary! Then he told me to please keep his business card in case I ever needed a ride anywhere or if I had friends who needed a ride.

Even though he was super sweet, I’m not sure I would subject my friends to a crazy taxi ride. The friends I have I would like to keep!

I would caution any of you who are faint at heart to maybe forget about the taxi rides in Provence. For those of you who have the predisposition to get your heart racing just for the fun of it, a taxi ride in Provence on the auto route would be right up your alley. Go for it, but you might look like this when you exit the cab!

 

Happy Next Day After Valentine’s Day (aka Why I Forgot This Day Yesterday)

I totally and completely missed Valentine’s Day. Yup, I forgot all about it! How unwomanly like of me. I bet all you guys out there wished your significant other would forget about that day, too, once in a while! It didn’t even occur to me that this day had arrived until I started reading the posts of fellow bloggers and what they were doing on this particular day to celebrate. By that point, it was already later in the evening at the day was almost over.

I’m not surprised by my faux pas, though. See, Dude and I have never really celebrated Valentine’s Day. We do, however, usually remember the day, tell each other “Happy Valentine’s Day” and move on. It was just this year I did an extra special faux pas.

Now before you all start getting on me about how the heck I could forget this day. I have a very, very good explanation for it. Actually, I have two very, very good explanations for it, but the first one is the best and totally justified.

So here goes:

Firstly, I’m not really into Valentine’s Day because I personally feel I am special each and every day of the year and not just the one day that the scores of marketers and advertisers tell me that I am.  I expect tender lovin’ care all 365 days a year! There is no way I’m letting Dude off that easy and he had better treat me right each and every day just cuz. No excuses any other day of the year by telling me that on Valentine’s Day he did such and such for me and treated me right. No way Jose! I know it’s a tough thing for poor Dude to live up to, but after all these years of marriage and 4 kids, I guess he must be doing something right. Voila, best reason ever.

Secondly, my birthday falls just 5 days after Valentine’s Day, our wedding anniversary is just 3 weeks before Valentine’s Day and Christmas is 1 month before our wedding anniversary which means every year if we chose to give presents and wine and dine each other on each of these days, we get nailed with spending money constantly within about a 7 week period. What I would rather do is a one lump sum of a vacation each year and say it was for all 4 days. This year we plan on taking a little trip to Italy in the spring and I’d say that was a great Christmas, anniversary, Valentine’s Day and birthday present all in one, so it all evens out.

I’d like to note though, that I do usually take the day off of work on my birthday if it happens to fall on a work day (this year it doesn’t, dang it) and do a little day trip (no presents or specials meals) just to make it a little special on my day, which happens to be my favorite day of the year. Yes folks, no matter how old I get, my birthday is always a big deal to me and I just love that day more than any other, which reminds me of a comment my kids made to me a few years back when I woke up all singing and cheerful on my birthday. They all looked at me as I danced into the kitchen and they said, “Why are you dancing and singing and being so cheerful this morning? (Like I said in another post, I’m not a morning person so they knew I was a bit off that day). I said it was because today was my favorite day of the whole year and today I was queen for the whole day. They all looked at each other confused and then, as if in unison said, “What’s the big deal about that, mom? Your queen every day!!” So true, so true and it proves they also know whose boss.

Anyway, that’s just how it is which brings me back to not celebrating Valentine’s Day. If I’m queen every day then voila why would celebrating Valentine’s Day matter? See, my way of thinking totally makes sense 🙂

The Roof Is About Half Done

Well, today marks the halfway point of our new roof being completed (that is what we’ve been told anyway). Since the bad weather episode on Friday we’ve been quite lucky and the workers have showed up to continue the saga. We had a bit of a scare this weekend when Dude figured out that the company wasn’t going to put a vapor barrier on top of the insulation to keep it from getting wet when it rained.

Since the main roof of the house is very high and we live in an area of excessively high winds that blow 1/3 of the year, we’ve had issues when it rains and the wind is blowing at the same time. The water has a tendency to get blown underneath the tuiles and soaks the insulation and this has been the main cause of leaks onto the ceiling. When the workers began to put the insulation down, they were just going to put the beams across it and then nail/glue the tuiles onto those beams. When Dude found out he was like, “no bueno”, they have to put a vapor barrier in. So began the weekend email-fest with the supervisor of the job.

It was a bit difficult trying to get our point across to him so we threw in a few PDFs to show the “proper” way to do it. Finally after a ton of emails and a phone call, the supervisor got our point and he said he would make it so and that on Monday morning when the workers showed up the vapor barrier would be there. I had to tell him that I was sorry for being such a pest, but what else were me and Dude supposed to do?? We have to protect our interest in the house. Why the heck pay for a new roof if it isn’t going to be done right!

Since I am not privy to any of this construction stuff, it has been up to Dude to tell me how it is (since he knows all about these kinds of things) and I’m the messenger to everyone. I feel like those ladies in the olden days who were the phone operators and you’d call them to hook you up to the party you wanted to talk to. I’m the person to hook us up with what Dude says is the right thing to do. I’m not a very good messenger, but I do try and we got our vapor barrier.

Dude is still not too happy with the roof situation and would like some other things to be done for insurance against any issues in the future, but we shall see. The owner of the company keeps assuring us that for the type of roof we have, the height of it and the fact that it is constantly exposed to high winds, that it’s being done right. I guess he will find out if we give him a call one day since we have a guaranty on the roof and if anything goes wrong his workers have to come back out for free and fix the whole dang thing.

So the last two days the team has been working on tearing off and replacing the west facing part of the roof. They said they would do the west side first and then the east side so that if it were to snow or rain we would be protected. On Monday they tore off the fiberglass covering and the old beams that we had, then they put in the new insulation and the vapor barrier. Today they are putting in the wood beams across the vapor barrier.

News to us was that the fiberglass covering that was on our roof being used as the vapor barrier for the old roof was made of asbestos.  None of this was disclosed to us when we bought the house and the company who is doing the work was not prepared for that and neither were the workers. That was so not cool. Today when the owner of the company came by I asked him for documentation on all of this and I am sending it off to the notaire. This will come in handy if we need to get a lawyer involved in this situation. This is just one other thing that was not revealed to us when we bought the house. According to French law that is a big no-no and it should have been told to us. So I have to consult with someone we know to see what can be done about this.

That whole situation could have shut down our job for a bit. Luckily the company who is doing the work got a handle on it and all is good and the job continued on, but we are going to incur fee that we didn’t know about for taking it to a special hazardous materials dump.  Not really feelin’ it when I have bad surprises like that.

Today the workers should finish the west side of the roof and tomorrow they should be moving onto the east side with repeating the same thing they have been doing the last two days.

The owner told me today that the whole roof should be done by Friday. That would be awesome if it’s true and I will definitely be giving an update on that. You all know what happens with best laid plans!

Here are some photos of the roof and the work that was done over the last couple of days.

New tuiles!!!

 

I have to say that I like the color of the tiles and we will have one of the newest roofs in town!

It will be so nice when it’s done cuz with the fiberglass and tiles pulled off it’s mighty cold on the third story of our house. There’s not really anything but a small layer on the ceiling to protect us against the cold outside. In order to keep our one room that we live in a bit warmer, Dude made a paper cover/door across the access of the stairway that leads from the kitchen to the upstairs. This way we don’t get a super cold, crazy, down draft from the third story. It’s working like a charm and our kitchen is even warmer than usual.  We even get to benefit form psychedelic colors in the afternoon!

Seems like we’ve managed to keep rolling along. That’s keeping me in a good mood, which is a big plus for my family 🙂

So Random

Today was just strange and full of surprises. Some times that happens around here (well, like all the time) but today random and strange stuff happened more often than usual.

It started out when I overslept this morning and missed the call from the workers who showed up to continue working on our roof. I had left my phone in another part of the house and didn’t hear their first 3 calls to me. Yes, that’s right, 3! The other mornings I’ve been up and ready and have gone outside to open the gate early for them so they can just drive right in and start to work. Well, this morning they got stuck standing outside in the cold for a bit until I woke up and remembered I didn’t have my phone. I went to the kitchen and felt super bad when it showed that I had missed their 3 calls. So guess what?? I had to go outside in my pj’s, messed up bed head and no make-up (oh the horror of it all) and go open the gate for them.  Boy, did I feel bad and ridiculous! By the way I looked, the workers totally knew that I had overslept and there was no way I could play that one off.  Now I gotta face those guys knowing they know the scariness of what I look like first thing in the morning!

Well after scaring the workers, I went upstairs to make coffee and breakfast and settle in to start work before heading to the office. About 30 minutes after their arrival I heard a knock on the front door. Worker number one said they were packing it in for the day cuz it was too cold and it was also forecasted to snow. He also said the roof was a bit icy and due to the weather they didn’t want to take the roof off and leave us in a bad predicament for the weekend. Then he said they would be back on Monday and off they went. All right then. So basically I got up and showed them my scary morning self for nothing.

Then while getting ready this morning I had to do a new make shift ironing area. Dude did a bit of “remodeling” in the kitchen and now the top of the washer, which used to double as my ironing board (cuz I don’t have a real one, yet) is now being used to hold the microwave. So now I have an ironing table made out of a box placed on the floor in the bathroom. System-D.

After I got ready for work, and to make me feel better after my bad start of a day, I took a walk over to La Poste. Yesterday I received a notice that I had a package waiting for me. Boy, was I thrilled to find out that it was the new 70% off shoes I had purchased online from www.zalando.fr.  I just discovered this company (I’m a bit behind the times) and now I know how these French people stay in style for cheap.

I had ordered a couple of pairs of boots and never did I think that when the box showed up it was going to be half as big as me! I had to carry this thing on my head through town all the way home cuz some of our streets are so tiny that it wouldn’t work any other way. Lucky for me there was no one out (cuz it was so dang cold) to see my stupid self doing this.

The first thing Dude said to me when I walked into the house with this huge box was if I had bought out the whole store. I simply said it was my early birthday present (cuz he won’t argue that) and went on my merry way to try on my new shoes.

So here’s what I got:

I ended up wearing the brown ones to work today and later on in this writing you’ll see that they came in mighty handy so apparently their purchase and arrival was on target.

Fast forward to me being at work.

Right around 4pm it started to snow. Right around 4pm I was not happy. I love the snow, but I love it when I am home. The problem was that if the snow continued I wasn’t going to make it home. Every few minutes I kept looking out the window and it was becoming increasingly apparent that I wasn’t going to make it back to my house any time soon. Dude and I were gonna be stuck camping at the office….on a Friday night….dang it.

Off we went to Carrefour before the snow started accumulating on the road too much, to pick up some groceries for a winter picnic (since we were camping why not picnic, too). We ended up with chicken, rice, croissants and éclairs. Not too shabby.

While I was shopping to pick out the best possible éclairs I could find, some little girl (probably around 4 years old) comes skipping up right beside me and gives me the biggest grin ever. As I smiled back at her she proceeds to grab one of the largest cakes in the bakery section, the kind in a plastic container (that just happened to be right at eye level for her, stupid merchandising layout Carrefour) with both her forearms so that her little gloved hands can still wave at people I guess, and turns around to walk off with it! As I am watching this scene play out, I know my mouth just dropped wide open cuz I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I couldn’t say anything to the kid, either, cuz she wasn’t mine and how the heck was I to know if her parents said she could do that?!

Well, as she gets a few shaky steps away, I just so happen to look up and see her dad flying down the aisle towards her with that terrified look all parents make when their kid is doing something that could possibly turn into a tragedy. You guys know that feeling. Well, this poor guy already had one hand full of about 5 items and he proceeds to try to pry the cake out of his kid’s hands with his other hand before it spills on the floor. I swear I started to feel like I was watching one of those start-stop action movies when things slow down really slow for a minute and then the film speeds up for a really cool action effect. It was like the kid was in slow mo while picking up and carrying the cake, then the scene speed up really fast when the dad ran over to grab it from her. Of course, I was just standing there being the entertained spectator and totally happy that it wasn’t my kid.

The dad finally succeeds to take the cake and put it back after several attempts of nice pleading and then several attempts of threats. After that, you could hear this kid any where you were in the store. She was the one being dragged around by her dad while she continued to cry about her lost cake. It was awesome 🙂

When we left the market Dude and I discovered that it was starting to snow more so we loaded up the car and took off back to my office.

As the snow kept falling down at a faster and faster rate, Dude and I decided to bundle up and go outside to make a snowman. I was super excited cuz this was the first snowman I had ever made (remember a few writings back about me and not seeing snow fall from the sky until I was 27). So we borrowed a shovel from the underground parking lot (don’t tell) and off we went to go play in the snow (this is where my new boots came in handy cuz I normally wear tennis shoes every day and that would not have been cool for playing in the snow) and viola… here is our little dude 🙂

Isn’t he cute! I hope he stays until Monday so he can welcome to work all the people in my building.

I hope the snow stays on the trees as well, cuz I don’t think I’ve ever seen a palm tree with snow on it!

Well, time to break out those sleeping bags and blow up mattresses. I sure hope I make it home tomorrow. It won’t be much of a weekend if I have to stay held up in my office (I guess we’ll be making a little dudette snow girl if we are).

What a totally random day.

Successful Day Two

Today was day number two in the new roofing chapter of our lives (does anybody hear a soap opera tune playing in the background and are you seeing an hourglass? Hmm-Maybe that’s just me). The team that showed up yesterday showed up again today and brought a friend with them. Yessss! I like helpers!

This morning when they showed up, they brought with them some more equipment, a cement mixer, some large orange tubes, tools, etc. After unloading everything, they proceeded to do some more drilling. At this point Dude started getting antsy cuz he thought they were drilling more holes in the house to put up more scaffolding. So what does he do? He says to ME, “Go outside and see what they’re doing! I don’t want more holes in my house!” So, I went to investigate and it turns out that those plastic orange tubes they brought were for making a long tube to throw the tuiles down off the roof. They were drilling holes in them to clamp them together to make the chute. All was good. Maybe he would be able to relax now.

I pretty much thought that once they were done with getting the rest of the stuff set up, they would be done for the day since the roofing materials had not appeared, yet. See, I hadn’t taken my car out of the garage this morning in order to leave for work since yesterday one of the guys told me that it would be no problem to do so. They had put up the scaffolding in such a way that we were able to make a clean exit if need be.

So, taking that into account and the fact that no materials were still in my yard this morning, I figured that once they dropped off the rest of their equipment, I could make a clean get-a-way. Wrong, while two of the guys finished the work here, one of the guys went off down the street to get some of the roofing materials, so I was still stuck.

When worker bee number three came back, they parked the truck right in front of my garage to unload all the materials.

Then, just when I thought they were again done for the day, they proceeded to put up the chute.

Remember the orange tubes for the tuile chute? They attached the top part to the scaffolding and the bottom part to the bed of their truck. Do we have something like this in The States? I’m sure I’ve seen a regular chute made for this kind of work, but one made out of orange tubes?! I don’t think I’ve seen this before.

Here what it looks like:

Now, do you wanna guess where their truck is?? Yup, that’s right, parked in front of my garage. Since they had everything all tied down I didn’t want to tell them that I needed to leave so I just let it go and continued to work from home today. I’ve made a mental note to get my butt outta bed super early tomorrow and get my car out of the garage so I can make it to work!

After a bit of time it suspiciously got quiet outside so I thought maybe they had left and maybe the bucket tie down was just to be sure it was going to work and they had already untied it and drove away. Nope, they were just taking a lunch break. Once that break was over, wow, the racket that they made was ridiculous! Workers number one and two were up on the roof getting all the tuiles then handing them over to worker number three who was throwing them down the chute and into the bed of his truck. The sound of the tuiles hitting the truck was so loud that a few times it caused me to jump (the echo through the town must have been awesome for our neighbors). This noise continued on for about 3 hours until they finally knocked on the door and said that they were finished for the day and would be back tomorrow. They were heading to one of my favorite places, the local dump, to get rid of the old roofing material.

Once they left I took some shots of what was still remaining on the roof. As you can see, they did leave the tuiles on the ridge and the ones just below so that if it were to rain we would be protected. These are holding down the plastic cuz this is the area that leaks the most. They also left the tuiles around the side of the roof. I suppose this is to hold the fiberglass material down. What you see in the pictures is what’s left of the old cement, which is pretty much sand now, and the stuff that it’s resting on is the old fiberglass roofing material.

At least we have something up there since they said it might snow tonight. I totally can’t believe that cuz today we actually hit a high of 10C!  Wow, sun was shining AND work is commencing. Day number two was pretty much a success. I really would like to keep this ball rollin’!

By the way, does scaffolding held up by three, small, stacked pieces of wood seem safe?

 

Fuel and Scaffolding All In Three Days

We finally have fuel back in our boiler tank. It was definitely a very cold weekend without heat. After huddling in the kitchen and memorizing all the lines in the Harry Potter series and then the Star Wars trilogy due to my weekend movie marathon, I was glad when the fuel guy arrived on Monday morning. He was late, big surprise, but he did show up on the expected delivery date so I guess I can forgive him the lateness (plus he had the most gorgeous Paul Newman blue eyes ever).

He had to park his truck outside our property because it was too big to fit through the gate (same problem as the material delivery truck fiasco). No big deal for the fuel truck, though, as he had a hose that was around 40 meters in length. He was able to run the hose through our garden and into the garage and all the way back to our tank.

It only took about 5-10 minutes to give us the 1000 liters we ordered. We didn’t even have to move the car or any of our stuff out of the way! It was simple, easy and expensive. This is how I feel about the simple and easy part 🙂  This is how I feel about the expensive part 😦 This summer we will be working on ways to improve the efficiency of our home so that next winter we will be more prepared and try to use less fuel and be more energy efficient. I think we can do it so I’m not too worried. Even thought the fuel costs an arm and a leg, I still love my heating system! The fuel guy seemed to like it too and kept raving about our tank. He thought it was super cool. He has good taste in fuel tanks!

After the fill up, away he went with my money and away we went with turning the system back on. Heat at last, that’s always a good thing in weather like this.

That same evening while I was at work, I got a call from Mr. Right Hand Man who said that they were ready to come to my house and put up the scaffolding. He wanted to know if Tuesday morning would work. Unfortunately, ce n’etait pas bon for me and I had to tell him no, but that Wednesday would be good. I was in luck because Wednesday happened to be an okay day for him and his team, too.  Yippey, cuz Monday was the day I hit the jackpot.

This morning I got up early in anticipation for the 8:30ish arrival. Well 8:30 came and went and so did 9:00. Around 9:30 I called Mr. Right Hand Man to ask him what was happening. He didn’t answer so I left a message to please call me back and verify that the team was really showing up today.

Around 9:45 the team of two guys showed up with the scaffolding. They took a look around and then talked to my neighbor (whose garden will be hosting the scaffolding while the façade is done). They finally came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to put up the scaffolding in our yard for the first week of work to do the roof and then once that is done they will take the scaffolding down and reset it up in our neighbor’s yard for the work on the façade. This way they (and we) won’t have to bother our neighbors with having this big contraption in their yards for a long duration. For our neighbors, this cuts the time in half that the scaffolding will be in their yard. I thought that was a great idea (cuz living in a village house you really don’t want to piss of and bother your neighbors to much, close quarters and all).

Well, to work these guys went and they put up the scaffolding in about 3 hours. During this time Mr. Right Hand Man decided to call me back. That was nice. I let him know that his little helpers had arrived and were busy getting their work done outside in the freezing cold.

Now our house looks like this and believe me, I love it!

Finally, we have some positive progress to our renovation nightmare. The only thing Dude was really worried about is that they had to drill holes in the side of the house to anchor the scaffolding. That’s all we need is more holes in this place! I’m not too worried. When they take the scaffolding down, they should be able to fill those in. After all, they’ll already have the colored stucco for the façade ready to go, what’s a few more dabbles on this old place. I’m sure it will be no problem for them.

When the guys left they said that they were going to check on when the materials will be delivered and they are hoping that all will be ready for tomorrow. I guess I won’t know until tomorrow, though. One of the guys said that until all the roofing material is here, they can’t start the work because they don’t want to risk taking off the old roof and not having anything to cover it with (for who knows how long) cuz if the weather turns bad again we will be screwed. I like his logic.

So for now, all we have is a fashion accessory to our house and we have to wait and see when the progress will continue. Forward march!

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