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Gettin’ Back to Work

Dude and I have been taking a bit of a break when it comes to the renovation of our house. We wanted to enjoy the spring weather, save a bit of money and plus, we were just plain sick of working on the house!

It’s been a nice couple of months and we would have taken a few more weeks off but this past weekend we were forced by nature to start up the work again.

Last weekend it decided to rain every evening in our village for four evenings straight. I’m not talking a few raindrops here and there, I’m talking a torrential downpour for about 45 minutes and then it would clear out like it never happened. Then the next morning we would wake to a beautiful blue sky and sunny day. Come 7pm though, look out, the storm would show up again. It was crazy! There would be thunder, lightning and we even had hail one evening!

After the third day of this, guess what??! Our brand new roof that we just had done in February started to leak around the roof window and the leak was running down to the far edge of the house and water was seeping through one of the bedroom walls! We called out the company who did the roof and they came out on Tuesday morning to assess the damage. They are suppose to come back sometime in June to fix the leak. Good thing we didn’t paint the top floor, yet!

Another big surprise was this.

 

Now, I didn’t buy a house with a pool, but voila, I now had one in my yard over the weekend. Dude and I took the photos to the Maire and they are sending someone out to the house because even though part of the problem is that our lot is flat with no proper drainage, the other problem we encountered is that even if we did have proper drainage, all the water would pool high at the front gate because the city never put in a brow ditch or drainage system in the street.

So, sometime next week the service technique of our town is going to show up so they can survey the street and put in a drainage system and fix the street since it is at a higher level than our terrain. This is also a contributing factor in the water pooling. In the meantime, Dude and I are digging some trenches in the yard to put in proper drainage. That’s a job! Confession time-he is doing most of the work, I am only the helper.

Tomorrow we are off to the store to go buy drainage pipe to lie in the trenches and at least start getting the drainage system in place before the service technique shows up. The Maire said we had to show that we were in the process of fixing the area within our property line before the city will do their part.

The other thing we did on Wednesday morning was to go and visit a rock query that is near our village. Once the drainage system is in place we are going to re-gravel the garden and entire entry way to our property. We found some red marble rock and ordered 3 tons of that for the garden area and then ordered some cheaper gravel for the entry way. In all we have 10 tons of gravel coming to our house next Wednesday!

So between trench digging, laying drainage pipe and re-graveling our terrain, it’s going to be a busy week.

This evening we met our new neighbor who bought the house to us on the right. She happened to drive up as we were trench digging and I wanted to let her know that a truck was coming next week to drop the 10 tons of gravel and it was going to block her gate for a day or two. It turns out she speaks English! Apparently she was married to an Englishman so she speaks it very well. Dude and I ended up chatting with her for about an hour. She just got the keys to her house yesterday and came by to drop stuff off. She gave us the tour of the house and guess what??!! She has a crumbling fixer-upper like us! Big surprise!!! We will both be crying on each other’s shoulders throughout all the work 🙂

She also happens to be an artist and showed us a few of her paintings. She has some gorgeous ones of the region with villages off in the distance and surrounded by lavender fields. Dude and I were very impressed.

After show and tell of her house, we showed and telled ours and guess what??!! She said she almost bought our house when it was for sale! Yup! Can you believe it!! Her kids told her it was too big for one person so she declined, but she did say that she had loved it when she first saw it. 🙂

Seeing that she got her own fixer upper (one half the size) with a large garden, she made out and she can see our garden from some of her windows so she seemed happy. We told her she could come and visit any time.

Dude was super happy cuz he kept thinking that some developer would buy that house and make a huge ugly group of apartments and then we would up and die. Seems that our lives have been spared and we now have a nice neighbor, which is always a plus.

Well, time to hit the hay. I have to get to some ditch digging manana!

 

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!

Flooded

With all the rain that has been happening in our region, we have had severe flooding and there have been families who have lost some of their belongings and even some of their animals. The Maire in our town sent out an email to everyone urging those who have had catastrophic losses to come by and make an application for assistance.

I firmly believe that within the next few weeks many more people will pass by the town Maire to make their applications.

I took some photos of what our town and the surrounding area looks like. By the way, the house with the flooded front yard is not ours, thank goodness. It is, however, just down the street from where our house is located. Also, I had to take the photos while driving since there was really no way to stop (it wouldn’t stop raining long enough and I didn’t want one of these crazy south of France drivers to run up on us cuz he was going 130 in the rain and could break fast enough!)

It doesn’t seem like we are out of the woods, yet. I saw today on line that the next four days we have no rain, but starting next Tuesday we are set to have another week’s worth.

So far, Dude and I have not been able to fix our roof or the plumbing so we are now going on more than a week with a leaky roof and by Friday it will have been a week since we have been able to use the bathroom. In order to get any work done we need a week or two of dry weather. Dude and I can only work so fast.

I have, yet, to hear from the insurance company. Someone was supposed to come and survey the damage by now. I suppose they have had a run on clients due to the weather. Also, the agent who sold us the house called a plumber to come out (2x), but we never heard from him. Typical customer service in France I would say. I know that plumbers in our region will be getting a ton of calls and we have to get in line, but sheesh I would have liked to at least gotten a call as acknowledgement.

In other news, last Monday, I attempted to call SFR to replace my Neufbox (cable box for those of you who aren’t in France and don’t know what a Neufbox is). So I was on the line for 1 hour with this tech guy who attempted to solve the problem when all I really needed is a new one cuz this thing was fried, I tell you. I was going around in circles with him cuz he kept trying to solve the unsolvable issue. Then after the ridiculous hour all he could tell me was that someone else would call me in 2 days. Thanks buddy.

On Wednesday when I hadn’t heard from SFR, I called them again. This time I got a guy who listened to me explain the issue then he said, “That’s not normal and SFR will give you a new cable box”. Yippey! That was all I had wanted in the first place. He said it should come straight to my house in about 5 working days. I hope he is right.

Even though I’m thrilled that I might be back in the real world soon with my new Neufbox, it still leaves us without phone, tv and internet until next week.

Tomorrow is a holiday in France so Dude and I will be working on the house, of course. We will attempt to do whatever we can. Not really feelin’ it, though. More unfinished projects is not what I really need right now. I am not sure if we can start on the plumbing issue ourselves or not and the roof is definitely out since there is not enough dry days and we can’t risk leaving it exposed.

I really hope that we do at least get some dry days. Aside from the havoc the rain has caused it also wears on the psyche not seeing the sun and blue sky for days. That only increases the depression you feel.

Well, I guess I better strap my work boots on and make the most of the next couple of days off.

Depression Has Taken Over in the Worst Way

I haven’t been able to write for a while and with good reason. Dude and I are at our breaking point after this past week. It has been devastating to us. The house situation has turned from bad to worse.

Here is how it has been:

On Wednesday (remember rushing home in the rain to fix the roof)once we were able to get the plastic on the house, the damage to the 3rd story stopped, but there is still damage non-the-less to the work we have already spent countless days and weeks on. The ceiling in the hallway and one of the bedrooms has water damage now and that is something new that we are going to have to repair in addition to everything else.  To top it off, the torrential storms that we have been having has caused a lot more damage to date. Now the window in Tinki’s room is leaking and we just made a new wall there, so that will have to be redone.

On Thursday morning we awoke to water being everywhere in large pools on the floor in the one room that we are living in. It’s coming from the second story roof (which we have no access to) and we can’t cover it at all. As a result, we have towels and buckets everywhere to catch the water. It is also coming through a large crack in the side wall of this room and pretty much the whole wall is soaked with water. The back part of this room, which is connected to our bedroom wall, is leaking also which means all the work we did in there will be destroyed, as well. That room took weeks upon weeks to fix in the first place. It has also been dripping on two old and heavy pieces of furniture that are impossible to move so we have just put a bucket on top of them. We are now going to have to knock down the main wall that is leaking and rebuild it.

On Friday evening we went downstairs in the apartment, which is housing every belonging we own while the main house is being remodeled (it has boxes and furniture from floor to ceiling) and found that due to all the rain, the toilet had been backing up for a while and there was sewage and water all over the bathroom floor and in the bedroom. As a result of this, some of our furniture was damaged and so are the walls and bathroom floor and because the whole house is connected on one line, we have not been able to use any of the bathrooms in the main house. This means that we haven’t been able to use any sink, toilet or shower since Friday night. We’ve had to be very inventive on going to the bathroom since we can’t flush and on getting clean since we can’t use the shower. Dude and I have tried to snake the drains and use chemicals but nothing has worked. We even went outside and dug up some of the pipe in the yard and drilled holes in it to see if we could find the issue and snake it. Were we could dig up the pipe, we found that the issue wasn’t there which means that it runs along the house under our nice concrete slab or under the ground in our neighbor’s yard. Due to the severity of the problem and where the problem potentially lies, we haven’t been able to fix the issue so we are still without a bathroom as I am writing.

The other unfortunate thing was that on Friday night when I went to get the pipe snake and chemicals, it was raining very hard. When I got home Dude needed my help quickly and when I drove up to the gate he had me roll down the window so he could tell me where he wanted me to park the car so we could work on the drain. It was pouring and in my haste to help I left the car window down. Five hours later when I went to move the car into the driveway and then the garage, I found the inside of the car to be flooded with water.

We had to get what little towels we had left (since most are on the floor upstairs where the leaks are) and dry out the car as much as possible and then we left the doors open and the windows down and a fan blowing directly on it to dry it out as fast as possible. Before going to bed that night I found that the back window didn’t roll up any longer cuz the motor for it was soaked. The next morning when I went down to try it, though, it had dried out and was working. Wow, one thing gone right, at least.

This morning we had the agent who sold us the house come over and we showed him the problem. He is having a plumber come out, but I haven’t been able to find out when that will be. Dude and I are worried that it could be a really big issue and we might have to redo the main line which will cost a ton of money that we don’t have.

Then Saturday morning came around and we had some severe electrical storms in the area. A lightning bolt hit a line not far from us and we lost power for a bit. It ended up blowing the breaker. When we were able to get power back we found that it fried our cable box and since Saturday we have had no television, no phones and no internet (hence no posts).

Our area has had substantial flooding and some of it is in our yard. We can’t seem to get the water flowing away from the house so as not to cause more damage. We have been out in the rain for days just trenching the yard to get the water to move out into the street. There were a few times that the lightning was so bad that I ran back in the house because it was just too close. There are also many roads that have been closed and it looks like the surrounding valleys are giant pools.

So our weekend has done Dude and me in. We just sat around in the dark, with no phone, no internet, no television, no bathroom and leaks dripping everywhere around us.

Normally I have something sarcastic or funny to insert, but this time, I don’t. This has really taken its toll on us and to be quite honest it’s hard to get up in the morning and yet, I have to cuz I have to go to work. We feel overwhelmed and just can’t seem to get done any project on this house. We still have no floors and no kitchen and are so far from ever accomplishing that part of the whole remodel that I fear it will never happen.

I am not mad about buying the house (Dude has terrible regrets now). I am, however, angry at the old owners because we asked them to be upfront about the work that needed to be done so we could budget for it and make sure we did it in the right order. If they would have been honest with us about the severity of the roof, we would have done that first off. After all, we acquired the house at the end of July and we weren’t even living in it for the whole month of August not to mention that September and October were gorgeous here. We would have had plenty of time to fix the roof and not be worried about making it through the winter and how we are going to fix it when it won’t stop raining long enough to do so (it seems that we have several more days of lightning storms, high winds, and rain in our area). We also wouldn’t be pissed about all the work we have done so far getting ruined and it costing us more time and money.

Every day we are afraid that something else terrible will happen and we just don’t have the money or energy to fix it. Both of us are really depressed. This is really wearing on us mentally and emotionally.

Tonight we are spending the night at my office. Even thought we have to camp on the floor, it’s at least dry and warm and we have a bathroom and internet.

I tried to call SFR tonight get my new cable box and after being on the phone with them for 1 hour, I accomplished nothing. The guy said someone would call me back within 48 hours and for what, I don’t know. I explained to him that it was fried and just to send me a new one, but no, he had to give me the run around as usual. Now it will probably be another 2 to 3 weeks before we can have our phone, internet and television back.

To top it off, the French administration told me on Thursday that I have to redo all my immigration paperwork simply because I moved to a new department. Whatever. I didn’t even have the energy to argue with her.

I am afraid to see what this week has in store for us.

 

Now We Are Roofers

On Saturday, Dude and I took a mini trip over to Point P. I still wasn’t feeling good so he promised to keep it short and simple. We needed some tiles to go on the very top of our roof. You know that part that comes up at a peak like the angle of a triangle, yup, that’s the one. That is where our leak is originating so we need to hurry up and take care of it lickity-split before the next storm.

Since this is the first time Dude and I have done roofing here, we weren’t sure how to go about this the best way. We definitely want to make it look good and keep the rain out, but we also live in the region of the Mistrals and need to be sure we get them on good so they don’t blow off one day during a horrendous wind storm and fall into the neighbor’s yard and kill them while they are trying to rake up their leaves or something. Goodness knows I don’t need that on my conscience!

So at Point P, we took a look around and found that there are a bunch of types of tiles you can use around here. Who knew?? We finally found one that we thought might work, but needed to verify this. We ended up just buying one tile, taking it home and trying it out, and then running all the way back to the store 15 minutes before they closed to buy 17 more and a bunch of tile glue. I really didn’t want to spend my hard earn money on glue. I figured we could just melt the stuff we’ve been scraping off the walls and then just use that to help keep them down.

Since Dude bought 4 tubes of tile glue, I figured my idea was a no-go. He said we were also going to cement them down.

That was pretty much all I could handle for the day, so we took off for home.

On Sunday, Dude proceeded to climb up on the roof (pretty much 4 stories high) and clear off all the old tiles that have been causing us issues with leaking and then throwing all the junk away. It took a lot longer than we thought because Dude also discovered that the whole entire roof (that was originally concreted down probably 30 years ago) was now coming apart. In a sense, the cement that has been holding the tiles down has all turned to sand and now our entire roof isn’t really stuck on, it’s just staying in place due to the weight of each of the tiles on each other.

Another bad discovery was that the original ridge beam was way too low so now he had to fix that problem or else we didn’t have a place to set the tiles. So all day Dude cleaned up the roof by removing the old tiles, the old cement and sand, and trying to figure out how he was going to fix the ridge beam problem so we could make the roof normal and function right.

At the end of the day, we had a ton of roof crap in our yard for the trash man.

On Monday we headed over bright and early to Point P to pick up some more roof tiles since we were now going to have to have some regular ones (under/overs) to put in just below the new tiles we bought for the peak. They were going to go on both sides of the roof. Dude estimated that we needed 100 of them. We were able to get 50 into the car and while I paid bill Dude drove them home, unloaded them, and then came back for the other 50. We had to make a third trip for more cement and then off to work I went.

That evening we made a stopover at LeRoy-Merlin to pick up some wood so we could fix the ridge beam. We had to buy two pieces of wood that were the same size in order to put the added beam in. Dude also found some brackets to use to help hold it in place. They aren’t exactly what we were looking for, but when in France sometimes you just got to System D it.

On Tuesday I got lucky cuz here in France it was a holiday which means instead of going to work at the office I got to go to work at home. That just means one thing. It’s not really a holiday!

First off was putting in the new ridge beam (which really just went on top of the existing wood that was there). This was mainly Dude’s job as I was scared to death to go out on the roof, being that it is slanted and you are around 4 stories up. Listen people, I’m the bread winner in this family so that mean extra precaution.

That day my middle name was pretty much “can you go find” or “can you go get”. That’s right. I was the gopher girl. I actually like that job unless I can’t find it then I just get pissed off and have a meltdown. Just kidding. Well about the meltdown part, not the pissed off part J

After Dude finished putting in the first piece of wood, he found out that he actually needed my help because doing it all by himself wasn’t working. It was too hard to make it straight. So guess what?? I actually had to go out on top of the roof! I was so scared that I was actually shaking in my boots and it took me a bit of time before I could drum up the courage. Finally I climbed out. We have this little hatch on the roof of the top story and it kind of reminds me of a submarine hatch. That is how we access our roof. So up through the hatch I went and straight to the peak I crawled. Yes-you got it, I was on the roof crawling cuz there was no way in heck I was gonna stand up.

When I finally made it up, I was able to help Dude with holding the wood and checking to see if it was straight. Then we put in the second piece of wood. It took forever to get this done cuz the first beam down inside had termite damage and it was hard to screw down the brackets to it, plus to get both pieces of wood straight was just a nightmare. In the end, it turned out okay, but one of the pieces of wood we couldn’t actually ever get really straight. It’s good enough though.

I was then able to crawl back down the hatch to safety. It actually wasn’t too bad up there. I kind of got use to it after a while, but I was never able to stand up. It has a great view!

Once that was done, it was time to put the tiles on the roof. Tinki, Dude and I had an assembly line going so we could get this done. Night was approaching and the tiles needed to be laid out in order to make sure all would fit together nicely. They did look good, but a problem came up that will transpire in the future when we go to redo the rest of the tiles. Since this is the very top part we are redoing, once they are cemented down it will be impossible to move them to lay the other tiles under them. Still not sure what we will do there.

Today I had to go back to work and the roof is not done. The weather report said no rain until Thursday but guess what?? It’s raining. So I think we are in trouble.

Tonight when leaving work we made another quick pit stop at LeRoy-Merlin to pick up some plastic so we could put it down on the roof under the tiles to keep the rain from coming in. Once on our way back home we found ourselves in the midst of a torrential downpour and getting more worried by the minute. We were super worried about the state of the house and how we were going to get the plastic on the roof in complete darkness and rain.

When we finally made it home, Dude went straight up to the roof. Luckily there was a break in the rain so he was able to put on the plastic and fix all the tiles. The roof was too slippery so I didn’t go out on it.

I was the one helping out and breaking some rules. I am not by nature a rule breaker. I like to play things by the book. This way no one gets hurt and no one gets in trouble. My motto since I was a kid. Well there I was standing on the top part of the ladder (where it says not to stand or you risk falling) with my whole self out the top hatch, holding an electrical light so Dude could see, and hoping it wouldn’t rain so that I was safe from being electrocuted and falling of the top of the ladder. Along with a prayer for the rain to stay away for a bit, I was also praying that I wouldn’t see lightening. A crispy critter is not exactly what I aspire to be.

Well our luck held and Dude stayed out there for a little more than an hour getting everything squared away with only a few drops hitting us. It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes that the rain started to come down harder.

Tonight we’ll see if it holds. I hear it’s going to be windy tomorrow. Hopefully our tiles will still belong to us and not our neighbors!

Summer Storm = Stinky Me

Yesterday we had a terrific lightning and thunderstorm. Early in the morning hours I woke to a torrential downpour, blinding lightning and deafening thunder. It was so cool! I love that stuff. For the better part of the morning and afternoon this beautiful display of nature continued. Since it was pretty intense Dude decided to turn off the some of the breakers in the house just as an extra precaution in case we got nailed by lightning during the day.

Ok, by me.

In the evening, when we returned home, we switched back on the breakers for the oven, washing machine, TV, etc…, etc…, etc… I love The King and I, sue me. Everything worked fine and we were confidant no problems would arise since the storm had passed and we now had blue sky.

Towards midnight, off to bed we went.

The next morning I awoke and was ready to shower before my day at work. To my surprise there was no hot water. I mean none, zippo, zilch! I went and woke up Dude to ask him what the heck was going on. We turned on the breakers so why was the water ice cold?

He just looked at me like “Why the heck are you waking me up for that? Just take a cold shower prima donna!” Well there was no way that was gonna happen. Cool, swimming pool water is one thing, but an ice cold shower is another and I wasn’t having any of it.

So I went to check the breakers. Sure enough, the breaker to the hot water tank had not been switched back on. Boy, was I pissed! I switched it on, but it was never going to be ready in time (especially since it is not an “instant hot” one like some people have).

Guess what? I elected to NOT take a shower this morning. Yup, you heard me. No shower. It has been 24 hours since my last one and, believe you me, that is a long time in my mind!

I simply just got dressed and put my day-old, dirty hair in a pony and said “good enough”.

Unfortunately, I had to hit the hardware store and the rental car place before work. Sorry to all you people I passed by in those two stores. I really hope we don’t meet again because I don’t want you to remember me on a day like this.

To Dude, I am not sorry that you had to live with me all day. That’s your fault for the look you gave me this morning when I woke you up.

Luckily, at the office, there are not too many of us and no one sits next to me! If perfume was not invented it would be now, thanks to me.

Towards the end of the day, I had a visitor in the office. I tried to stay on one side of my desk while she explained her little gimmick to me on the other side. The whole 20 minutes she was there I kept thinking how I wish I would have had a shower that morning! Gosh, I didn’t even know she was coming. Touche to her, though, cuz she smelled like smoke so I guess we cancelled each other out.

Man, I can’t wait until I get home. First thing I’m doing, even before any food is served (I don’t want people’s appetites to turn and run), is I’m taking a nice, hot, long shower.

Boy, I can’t wait. Sheesh! The crazy things you take for granted when all of a sudden they’re not there anymore.

I, for one, would not make it in the middle ages. No way. Showers would have had to be invented or death would be swift and sudden. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again. I just might have to boil some water on the stove and go for it, if it does!

 

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