Now you all know how I’m takin’ with the toilets in France. There is just something fundamentally funny to me about the stuff I’ve seen here, that I’ve never seen in The States. So far, all the blog posts I’ve written that has to do with something about a toilet or toilet seat in France have yet to be found in my home country. For some odd and demented reason, I am fascinated by what I can buy or find here in the way of these products and I can’t resist taking a photo and writing about it. It just boggles my mind (I have to let you in on a secret…..see…I’m simple minded). Now does it make sense to you? I just happen to be one of those people who get a kick out of simple and crazy or dumb things. I know you all know someone personally like me so no judging.
I think this must help me somehow psychologically. How?? I’m not exactly sure, but it gives me a chuckle and everyone knows that laugher is the best medicine when you’re feeling down. So I guess that must be it. Yup-it’s quite possible.
You see, when I’ve been in Castorama or LeRoy-Merlin or some other store for house renovation materials and I am going on hour number 4 (in the same store) looking at all the same stuff I looked at last week and hoping that this week something new has come in and then finding out it hasn’t, and then suddenly I find something that takes my mind off the hardship of non-acquirement (is that a word?), then I just gotta snap the shot. (I think that might have been my longest sentence, yet). For some odd reason, this has been in the area of the toilets.
I swear that this stuff can’t be found in The States. If it exists there, then no one has come forward to let me know.
Well, my latest find is, ta…da..
The toilet where you can wash your hands with the tank water!
This is pure genius. Not only is it a space saver but it’s also double usage for toilet water!! What could be better? I’m thinking about buying stock in the company who is producing this. I have a feeling it’s going to be really big someday. I can totally see it in dorm rooms across America.
Now, I’m betting this hasn’t gotten to The States, yet, and the reason I think this is because my daughter was in a dorm and had a very (I mean microscopic) bathroom and she still had a tub, toilet and separate sink! This could be the wave of the future for dorm kids. Guess what?? It can even triple as a drinking fountain if you pick the right faucet! I’m sold. Done.
I’m thinking about buying one and shipping it to my son for his birthday. Then he will be the toast of the town and all his friends will want one. Then I can make a deal with the company who sells it and be rich, rich, rich….. mauhaha….!
Wow, okay…getting a little ahead of myself.
But seriously, is this a great idea or what? If anyone in The States has come across this fantastic item, either in a store (or better yet, installed in a home or office) please send me a photo or tell me about it. I’m dying to know if I’m behind the times on this or there is still hope to corner uncharted territory in the USA!
I wanted to let all of you know who have been faithful in reading all of my rants that a change might be coming.
As you all know, over the last few months we have been renovating our house and that is what the majority of my writings have been about. It has been really hard, but most of the time I’ve been able to find humor in the hardship, but that’s cuz the majority of the time it wasn’t affecting our quality of life. Now it is and in a major way.
Two weeks ago our region received far more rain than usual and it was at that point that Dude and I started to endure hardship that was never ending.
Still today, it has not gotten any better. In fact, it is the opposite. It has become worse and much worse than we ever thought.
We still do not have a roof because the first thing we need to take care of is the plumbing. It has now been 11 days since my daughter and I have been able to take a shower and 11 days since any of us have been able to use the toilet. Tinki and I have to give up our showers so Dude can take a 5 minute one to get all the sewage off since he is in it more than me. Any longer than 5 minutes and the overflow moves into the bedroom. The plumbing can’t seem to be fixed and over this past week new information has come to light.
Before I give you this info, though, I have to tell you that over the past 11 days we have tried to contact many plumbers many times (even our real estate agent and the lady next door tried to get them to come). We needed someone with real equipment to fix our drain. Meanwhile, while we waited for them to call us back and come help (no one ever did) sewage continued to spill over into the bathroom and bedroom when it rained. We never even got a call from any of the plumbers.
Our neighbor had a friend who showed up and said he had a great plumbing snake, but the only way we could get to the area we needed to snake was to take off the toilet. Dude tried but it was frozen and stuck so bad to the wall that he couldn’t get it off. He had to break it. It turns out the guy didn’t even have a great plumbing snake and it didn’t work at all. Now, with no toilet, the sewage was spilling over even faster than before because the hole was now floor level. The toilet was at least giving us time before it spilled over, now it’s instantaneous.
Dude proceeded to dig up the entire yard and start looking for the pipes and drainage. He ended up finding the whole run after many days and we found that a lot of the pipes had a ton of roots in them. He was able to get the roots out, but we still could not get the pipe to drain. The main problem, unfortunately, was under the house where we couldn’t reach. For days we tried everything. Flushing it out, more snaking, chemicals. All for nothing. I tried to continue to get a plumber out to the house, but to no avail. I also tried everywhere to find a power snake which pretty much is non-existent here. I truly hate to say this, but if I were back in the states, a plumber would have showed up and fixed it right away since he would have had all the right tools or I could have just run myself down to the nearest Home Depot and bought one in 10 minutes. But in France, OH NO, they don’t have such a thing cuz the French don’t have clogged drains! I do have to say I am now sick of substandard materials and equipment and non-existent stuff that every other country would have.
So Dude and I decided that the only thing we could do is redo the main plumbing and run new lines. We discovered that by uncovering the old lines, the old owners had trouble in the past cuz there were even older pipes in the ground that were broken and there was even one pipe that they had drilled a hole in to snake something out and then fixed it by putting cement all over the hole. The fact that they had problems in the past was never told to us. By law they should have revealed this info.
I also found out that the apartment bathroom that is having all the problems was an illegal addition. When I went to the agency to get a plot map, what is shown on the map is not the same as our house. The bathroom area shows that it was a garden. They ended up making it a bathroom and didn’t say anything. This was also not revealed to us so our plot map is wrong.
After many days and hours and driving all over the place, I was finally able to find an electric snake to rent. I got it home and Dude said it was the most ancient, dumb thing he ever saw. It only partially worked and the motor was so bad that it was stripping and after some point it wouldn’t even turn the snake. Then it got worse. He turned off the motor and pulled out the snake and it turned out that 3 meters of the snake plus the tool on the end broke off in the pipe so now we had that stuck in there. So Dude had to fish the snake down the pipe and turn it by hand to try and recoup the broken part. By this time it was 10pm and freezing outside and we were making a terrible racket and I was worried about the neighbor’s (who have working plumbing) complain. I don’t need that right now especially after standing in sewage for days.
Dude did end up getting the broke pieces and snaking the drain, but there is still a major problem. Due to the fact the bathroom was an illegal addition they did not put the drains right and the flow is bad. The bathroom pipe sits lower that than bedroom pipe which leads outside, therefore water just sits there and backs up. So even though we could snake the pipe, now we can’t use that pipe anymore and we have to make a whole new drain.
We thought about exiting the new pipe out the side wall of the bathroom and running it down the wall 12 feet then re-entering into the garden and in the ground to give it the proper flow. There is a major issue with that and it is the fact that once the pipe exits it does so in our neighbor’s yard. We told her that we would cover it by construction a new wall of cement that would only come out about 13 centimeters. She flat out said no, so now we have nowhere to run new pipe and are still without a bathroom as I write. I don’t know how much longer we can do that.
In all of this, we haven’t been able to fix the roof so we have plastic and loose tiles still there. This will be more of a problem when it rains again and/or the winds start to blow. There is nothing keeping the tiles down on the roof. We also found that all the rain ruined the living room wall and it now has more cracks in which the water just pours through when it rains. Now that entire wall has to be knocked down and redone.
I have already contacted the insurance company but they will only pay for some of the damage, not the replacement of the pipes or roof. Both of these issues were not told to us by the previous owners. We now will have to possibly take them to court since they should have told us these major issues. Unfortunately to recoup anything will take years and we might not ever get anywhere except more depressed and frustrated.
Also, Dude got hurt really bad while doing all this work and now he can’t work for a while. Men don’t cry, they just don’t, but today he was really crying because he was hurt so bad. Now we are at a standstill and can’t do anything for a while. He thinks he will get better in a few days, but I don’t and he refuses to go to the doctor cuz he says he is tired of being let down by people here.
Now we are living in a substandard house with no way to fix it. When we bought the house we based our fix it costs on what was revealed to us. We weren’t ready to reconstruct the whole house and we, in fact, don’t have the money to do it. Financially it has been devastating to us. We are both miserable and depressed all the time. I can’t remember the last time I smiled or laughed. We are always tired and can hardly eat, mostly cuz we start to work early on the house after breakfast but we never finish before midnight and during that time, we can’t go up to eat anything cuz we have no water to wash the sewage off. So we end up working 15 hours or so with no food or water.
Dude and I fight all the time now. He hates being here and wishes he would have never bought this house. Even though this situation is depressing and horrible for me, I love France, I just hate what’s happen to us.
I feel terrible for our daughter. We told her this move would be great, that we would travel and see France and Europe. That hasn’t happened. In the last 13 months that we’ve been here we have only seen about 6 or 7 towns some of which we had already been to before. She is homeschooled and her schooling is suffering cuz I don’t have time to help. She never sees us since I am always at work or working on the house. Life sucks for all of us, but for her I feel worse.
Every day we go home to a shell that we have to work on. There is no day that passes that we have any peace. I have used nearly all my vacation time here (and that is a lot in France) to work on the house and I’ve never even taken a vacation. The last real vacation I had was in the year 2000. Since school and work, I’ve never even taken a break.
My family needs to have quiet and relaxation, but it is nowhere in sight. We keep asking ourselves why God hates us. We don’t understand why every day this house situation gets worse. Now it is getting colder and darker earlier and we still have no heat except for a tiny space heater in the room with no insulation. We keep waiting for the next bad thing to happen with this house to sink us even more.
We have pretty much run out of energy and are done pushing ourselves. Financially we could possibly lose everything due to this house. At our age we can’t afford to lose our savings and retirement (what little we have) to this house. I don’t have time to recover the loss from something like that and make the money back.
Now for the big change, I won’t be writing any more post for a long time and quite possibly never again if we are forced leave cuz then Provence wouldn’t be my backyard any more. As for now, I just don’t have it in me. I am so tired and frustrated and feel no hope. This situation is weighing like a ton of bricks on both Dude and I and neither one of us wants to even get out of bed in the morning. The one thing that makes me is the fact that I have to go to work, but once there I always have to apologize for the state I’m in and the way I look and say how thankful I am that France is the perfume capital of the world.
I wanted to personally thank Toni and her husband. Last week she offered for her and her husband to come help us for free, but they live 5 hours round trip from us and how could I accept when I have never met her and when they got to my house I wouldn’t have a bathroom for them to use or food for them to eat (since I don’t have a kitchen either). I was just too much to accept that sort kindness from someone I had never met.
I will continue to read, when I can, the comments people leave me and try to comment back. For the moment our new cable box still hasn’t arrived so it has been nearly a week and a half with no internet, tv or phone. Who knows if that will ever show up. I will do my best though.
Maybe in the future you will hear from me. I’m just not sure but I didn’t want to leave you without saying anything. If I do end up posting again it will be because a ray of hope has appeared. That will be about the only thing that will cheer me up and make me want to tell you about it. I really loved writing my stories and I will miss it even though I don’t have the energy or will for it at the moment.
I wish each and every one of you happiness and thanks for all your support and comments and for reading my stories. I loved hearing from you. My site will remain up even though it isn’t in use right now. There is a lot in here that are good memories for me.
Here are my latest photos.
God bless to all.
Nope-the title is not what you think, although it would have been appropriate due to my run in with the flu last week! Which brings me to say a great big thanks for thinking of me to all who sent me well wishes! You can’t imagine how great it was to receive all your emails and comments while I was feeling a bit under the weather. I feel much better, but am still feeling two residual effects. The first is the bouts of nausea I still get whenever my stomach starts to feel a bit empty, but I do have an infinite amount of crackers and biscuits at my side to help with this. The second is the fatigue that I am still feeling. I can’t quite make it through the day without tiring easier than usual. I am hopeful by the end of the week that both will be gone for good. Again, thank you all for the “get wells”, it is much appreciated.
So… the title? It is in fact synonymous for the day Dude and I spent working on the tear out of the master bathroom. The old owners decided that large squares of cork on the wall must have been a la mode in their day and they dove right in. The entire bathroom, all walls, was covered with this stuff.
Fortunately for us, it came off easier than the stupid wall paper they put up, but unfortunately guess what was behind it?? If you guessed glue, you win the prize and apparently have been paying attention to my ramblings 🙂
Every wall was covered with this thick, yellow glue and how! The good thing about this room is Dude said that we would only have to scrape off one wall! Yippey. I’m down with that. Since two of the walls are outside walls we are going to just put up new dry wall to make the wall nice and straight and also insulate it, so no scraping necessary, and the other wall is an inside wall that he said we can just smooth coat. This made my day, cuz ya all know how I feel about glue.
While I got busy scraping my one wall, Dude put on his thinking cap. He was trying to decide if he wanted to keep the tub or not. It’s a great tub made of cast iron (which we found out is hard to come by here on a budget like ours), but it is old and showing signs of rust and wear. In the end, Dude made the decision to chuck it.
In order to do this he had to get his mallet because the old owners had encased the tub in red brick, some weird type of plaster, glue and cork. This was on two sides of the tub while the side near the outside wall was encased in a layer of brick and plaster. This apparently was because the wall was not straight and it was easier to do this than just make the wall straight. Huh??!
So away he went. Boy, these guys never bothered to throw away all their left over construction material cuz we found it all shoved underneath the tub! All the broken pieces of bricks, plaster and dirt were there. It was unreal! It took tons of bags and cardboard boxes to get rid of the stuff.
What they also did was put all the electrical, water and heating runs under the tub and also encased them in brick and plaster.
Then Dude found a big hole in the bottom of the floor, just under the tub that opens up into the garage. Neat! Boy, I feel some real fun coming on!
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the tub out of the bathroom that night cuz it was getting so late. Since I got sick and the subsequent revelation of the leaky roof, it happens to still be there. For now we have put the bathroom work on hold and started to work on the roof. If the weather happens to turn bad were are in deep trouble…..
Yesterday we went looking for a new bathroom window. As usual it took practically all afternoon just to try to accomplish one thing. I swear France is the only country this happens in and I know I’m not making it up since I hear complaints about this ALL the time!
It started out with trying to visit a window and shutter store. I had seen the store off the auto route one day and logged it away for future reference. Since we have an old house, Dude and I are pretty much thinking that it might be hard to get a standard size window off the shelf from LeRoy’s or Castorama so I had wanted a backup just in case.
First thing in the morning we just dawdled around when getting ready (we tend to do that on Saturday just to feel like we got some relaxation time in, plus we are a bit burned out). Then we took off for the store. I had tried to look it up before we left, but couldn’t find it online. Since I knew exactly where it was we took off anyway. We made it there only to discover that the store isn’t open on Saturdays. What the heck is with France and their idea of goods and services. There we were right in front of this enormous store (and I mean it was huge) and it was closed…..on a Saturday. N’importe quoi!! How the heck is anybody supposed to get stuff done around here when nothing is ever open and when it is, they close so dang early that you can’t get enough time in after work?! Therefore, you got to go to the few places that are open on Saturday and you end up being there forever and a day cuz everyone else in France is there too trying to get something accomplished since they have the same problem of never being able to get something done. Yes, that’s another gripe.
Well, Dude and I headed off towards LeRoy’s to see if we could get some idea of how we were going to get this window. The one window we are most concerned about right now is on the first storey. The existing one has a round vent in it that broke a long time ago and now is stuck in the open position. As a result it is sucking in the cold air from the outside and causing the house to be really trapping the cold air.
We still only have one small portable heating unit and it’s in one room so we are trying to keep the house as “air tight” and warm as possible. This particular window is contributing to the issue of us loosing heat all the time. Right now, Dude has covered it up with tin foil and a band to hold it on, but that is not too ascetically pleasing.
The issue with this particular window, though, is that when you measure the window frame from the inside it is 80cm, but when you measure the window on the outside it is 73cm. This is due to the way they stuccoed the house. So it’s sort of an issue in trying to find the best size to put in the space.
Also, we have kind of decided that since we have not yet painted or put the floors in, it might be a good idea to redo this one bathroom and get all the dirty work out of the way before we move forward with the finish work. This way we aren’t ripping the bathroom apart and working around newly painted walls and tiled floors.
Once we made it to LeRoy, we were greeted with the other bazillion people trying to get something done on a Saturday. We headed over to the windows and Dude took some measurements, but nothing was the right fit. We then head to the customer service counter and we did have some luck in the fact that we found someone who spoke really good English to explain our little window issue. He was very helpful and asked us all kinds of questions and Dude was able to tell him what the situation was. Unfortunately, they said the window would have to be special ordered to the tune of nearly 400 Euros. Just one window at 400 Euros! Who the heck in France has the money for this outrageous prices they charge! On top of the fact that it would take 5-6 weeks to get it (of course it will, this is France). So we told the guy there that we needed to go back and really verify the measurements cuz if we did end up ordering this thing and it didn’t work, then we would have waited 5-6 weeks for nothing and spent 400 Euros for nothing and be right back to square one. Also this is going to hold up our bathroom job and now our house is still going to be left in the unfinished mode. All because of one stupid window! Dude is going to go back to the drawing board and double check everything (but in theory he does that anyway so I know his measurements are most likely spot on). Then we will make another stab at it.
After LeRoy’s we headed over to IKEA (yes-I broke down and went, but just for a looksee). I was pleasantly surprised that they had some free standing items that we could consider for the kitchen. They were actually made of real wood and had a more classique/traditional look which is what I would really like. We took measurements of everything we liked and tried to see if we could somehow mix and match to get things to fit. Unfortunately, nothing they had would fit into the spaces we have. The big issue with our kitchen is that the whole thing is a shell with the exception of the sink. The old owners put in a sink (that is quite big and rather nice), but they built it into the kitchen with a specially made cabinet and some concrete. We are trying very hard to work around this because if not, we have to do more tear-out. I really don’t want to do this cuz then we just have to go back and repair and this is continuously putting us behind in the remodel process. Another thing is that there are all these doors in the kitchen to protect the house against the cold. Working around these has been a bit of a pain, as well. It limits what you can put where.
So basically we ran around all day trying to get to the next step and came home with nothing except two light bulbs. This doesn’t really make for a fun time.
I have to be honest and say that Dude and I have hit a wall of depression on this. Not because of the house itself, but because in France it’s so difficult to get anything done and what you can manage to do just costs too much. Inflating prices (for crappy materials) and the fact that you just can’t get stuff you need to work is really taking its toll on us. I am starting to think that we will be in just one room for a long time. The problem with our one room is that it’s the only one in the house not insulated against the cold.
We have these bathrooms at work that everyone on the floor has to share. It’s not so bad since there are only 4 offices per floor, so I can’t complain about them ever being crowded.
The thing is, there is supposedly one bathroom for the Monsieurs and one for the Dames. Check out the pictures I took of each door.
Now, I realize on one of the doors there is Monsieur and on the other door there is a Dames so you can distinguish which bathroom is for which gender. The problem I had when I first arrived here, is that there is a small sign underneath each of those that has both a Monsieur and a Dame and says Toilettes. Me being in France, assumed that if one bathroom was full, you could just go ahead and use the other. Cuz the sign underneath appears everywhere here when it is one bathroom for both genders.
Logical! Cuz privies are everywhere here so why not at the office, too. This IS France, for goodness sake. That’s how they roll. I really did think this. Totally not making it up!
So for about two months, that is what I did. If one bathroom was full, I would just go ahead and use the other one. No problem, right?? Well time moved on and I never had an issue. One day, the bathroom with the Dames on the door was full so I went to the one with the Monsieur on it. Great, no one in there!
As I go to leave the stall there is a guy doing his thing at the urinal and, I kid you not, my eyes about popped out of my head! His take on the whole situation was about like mine. We both had the “deer in the headlights” look. I was so confused that I just said “Bonjour” and ran outta there like I was training for the Olympics!
I get back to my office and I said to the girls, “That is so not cool to leave the bathroom stall and see some guy standing there peeing!” The girl in my office was like, “WHAT! There is a guy in the bathroom”! She then proceeds to get up like she’s gonna go kick his butt. I’m all, “Yaah! He was standing at the urinal when I left the stall and it really freaked me out! I’m not really feeling it!”
Then she just starts cracking up and says, “You were in the GUYS bathroom!”
I gave her that super confused looked and said, “GUYS bathroom?? What are you talking about? You can use both, right?” By now both girls in my office are about on the floor dying of laughter. There like, “NO, one is for the Dames and the other is for the Monsieurs! You CAN’T use both!”
So I said, “What the heck is with the confusing sign on the door with a dude and a lady that’s telling ME either or??”
They said, “That’s just to let you know that it is the bathroom.”
So I said, “That’s just dumb. Anyone could tell that from the giant Monsieur and giant Dames on the door. What they need two signs for?? They could have just put the word ‘Toilettes’ under the giant people and that would have been sufficient.”
Then I realized it was put there on purpose for the stupid American (me) so everyone in my office could get a good laugh.
Thanks for that!
Oh! And sorry to the guy who I scared to death in the bathroom. For the record, I haven’t seen him since….