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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 🙂

The Maire Comes Through-The Prefecture Doesn’t

I had the most unexpected surprise happen to me today. Absolutely thrilling, no less.

See, today was the day for me to go and make a visit to our local Maire to see what the heck was taking so long in getting our permit to have the roof and façade done. We’ve been sitting here for a while now just waiting on them to tell us it was ok to fix our major issues which has resulted in numerous days of wind-blown tuiles and water leaking through the roof into the third story area of the house when it rains.

I had heard from my contractor last week that he had submitted all the necessary paperwork to them in the beginning of December and that he had not heard back. So this morning I spent time preparing for the worst and what I was going to say to them if the worst happened.

To my utmost and most pleasant surprise when I went to see them, the lady who takes care of the permits said that it was issued yesterday and all was good. The work could begin when the contractor was ready. She even happily took me over to the large book in the office where all the recorded permits are kept and showed me my lovely document all stamped, signed and approved by the Mayor with the beautiful city coat of arms proudly displayed on it. She explained to me everything it said (the thing was only two pages) and even made a photo copy for me to take home.

I should frame the dang thing since it’s pretty much the first French Administration paperwork that has come back with no hassles. I tell you, that is a monumental thing. These guys didn’t ask for stupid stuff, they didn’t require endless pages of meaningless words with a signature on each page of everyone and their mother, and the best part is that the permits are FREE!!! Yup, you got it. I didn’t have to pay a centime for it. Thanks goodness for small miracles.

Seems like we are one very important step closer to getting’ her done.

Now, for the “real” French Administration news. Before leaving the building I was stopped by the lady (who I happen to really like cause she’s just plain nice) who is taking care of the renewals of my family’s titre de sejour cards. Mine doesn’t need to be renewed really. It’s good for 3 years, but Dude’s is only good for one year and Tinki never got hers cuz the prefecture in Marseille lost all her paperwork.

Anyway, the nice lady said that Dude’s paperwork was ok and that the issue was with mine. Now mind you, I only went in originally to change my address, nothing more. See when you live in France and you have some sort of resident or work visa and you move, you have to inform the French Administration within 8 days of the move, so that would have been sometime in early September that we did the informing. Yes, folks, still waiting. There seems to be one issue after another that we just keep getting called back for. So guess what it was this time??!! I swear none of you guys are even going to believe it… I swear!

Drum roll please… dum da dum…. They said that they didn’t like that I was smiling in my picture and they refused it! Now I have to go and take another picture to submit to them and I can’t be smiling in it!

I told you that you wouldn’t believe it! What the heck?? Really, they didn’t like that I had a smile on my face when taking a picture! I swear, you guys, I couldn’t even make this one up if I tried. Even the nice lady had a look on her face like, “Yaaaaah….I don’t really get it”. I seriously think that this was the first time she had even heard of this excuse!

So now off to the Cabine de Photo for another round of pictures so we can finish this thing. I told the nice lady I would be back on Friday with the new pictures of me making a mad face and maybe the French Administration would finally get that this whole thing has not been amusing.

So I guess it was pretty much a 50-50 day which is better than a 100% crappy day so I can live with it.

As for now, I will stare lovingly at my permit and feel all warm and glowing tonight while I relish in the fact that something actually got accomplished in a timely manner.


The Tuiles Are Flying

Before letting you know how my tuiles came to be flying, I will give you some background on why I am even using that word.

See, the word tuile in French, means tiles as in roof tiles. Since starting this crazy renovation project I have come to learn construction words in French that I had either rarely used or never used in English. The result of this has been the extreme use of Franglish in our household when dealing with anything of the construction mind. I admit, it is now getting a bit ridiculous. It seems that the sentences that Dude and I form while speaking about what we are going to be doing with the house, or where we will be going for the day to get les materiaux has turned into this hodge-podge of mixed-up, messed-up and made up language. We are now even to the point where we don’t say any construction words in English! We just interject the French words into our English sentences. It seems that Franglish has become a living language to us.

Now the words “roof tiles” were definitely know to me, but I was born and raised in Southern California and I swear I could have used the words “roof tiles” all of two times in my entire life. See, nobody in SOCAL has roof tiles. We don’t use tiles for our roofs there (well maybe the occasional person would, but they would be few and far between-also those people would be rich cuz tuiles in the states are significantly more expensive than here). Score one point for France on that.

Also, I’ve never done a construction project in my life so I would have no use for the words anyway. Here, however, I swear I use the word tuile every single day especially since we are having our roof redone and in the meantime have had to buy replacement tuiles for the broken or loose fitting ones to hold us over. Dude and I have shopped ‘til we dropped for all things roof wise over the past several months, hence my new word.

I suppose this has been a good way to learn new vocabulary, but it has posed one issue for me. I have found that I now know only the French word for some of this construction stuff and I never knew the English word for it. This leads me to say to myself, or Dude, “What the heck is this in English?” when shopping at stores. Oh wait, I just thought of another issue. I’ve used the French construction words here so much, that I’ve forgotten what the word was in English, too. Yup, that’s really happened and it’s becoming more apparent, too.

So back to my story of losing my tuiles. Well, as I posted a while back, we are having our roof redone. Dude and I found an artisan who we liked and the price was right so we took the plunge. We gave the artisan all he needed so that he could pull the permit at the Maire. Right around mid-December he sent in his little application to them, well guess what?? In typical French fashion, the permit is not ready, yet. In the meantime our house has temporary tuiles on the roof. By temporary I mean that they are just hanging around up there just loose lying so the plastic on the roof will stay down in case of rain. Apparently lose lying tuiles are the norm here. I’ve been told that when they are overlaid the weight helps to keep them down. Yah…..right. Well ours are overlaid, but that isn’t working too well.

So far on the windy days that have passed here in Provence, we’ve been ok. This means that the tuiles have either stayed in place on the roof or one or two have moved out of position and Dude has had to go up on the roof and put them back. Well, this past week we ran into issues. The wind has been very strong on some days (up to 95+ km/hr). Before this week, the tuiles had been put to the test in about 80+ km/hr winds and they had moved a bit, but no big deal. Well, two nights ago we had the strongest gusts that we have ever had since moving here and all our tuiles got blown everywhere. As Dude and I were watching “The Karate Kid” (that’s a good movie by the way, just so you know) we heard and felt the most ferocious gust of wind ever. Then at that moment we heard all this racket up on the roof. Kind of like…maybe… ceramique tuiles breaking and getting tossed around like a rag doll? Yup-I think that was the sound.

So we jumped up and Dude grabbed his flashlight so we could open the roof window to see the damage. Sure enough, no tuile on the ridge was left in place. Some of them had even blown more than half way down the roof. The problem for us was that Dude couldn’t go out and fix them at that moment. One, it was pitch, black dark and two, the gusts were just too dangerously strong for him to be 12-14 meters up in the air. We were just going to have to hope for the best. That night, all-night long, and yesterday the wind blew really strong and we kept hearing noise on the roof. Yesterday afternoon, I looked out our second story bathroom window and one of the tuiles had been blown off the roof and it landed in our neighbor’s garden and shattered into little pieces.

Normally I wouldn’t be too worried, but now that the wind has been this strong, it poses a danger. What would have happened if someone was in the yard at the time and got hit? It could very well have killed the person. I have gone to the Maire and told them to please hurry up with this permit since not only are the tuiles a danger, but if it rains really hard the water will enter our house and continue to ruin the interior walls and ceiling. We have been working on getting the roof and façade done for a couple of months and it continues to be an issue to make it happen. There should have been no reason why the same day the artisan gave all the info to the Maire that they just couldn’t issue a permit then. Wow, way too simple for France!

So now, with the broken tuiles I have to go back to the Maire and let them know again that this is really urgent and can they please hurry it up. It’s not like I live in a large town will thousands upon thousands of people trying to pull construction permits. How many of these permits could they be giving out? There’s a whole section in our Maire called Urbanisme which is dedicated to just this sort of thing. They need to get busy cuz vacation is now over.

For now, the wind has finally stopped after 5 days of madness so Dude will be on the roof again sometime during the day putting back all the tuiles. I think we might have to go to the store and buy one or two for the ones we lost. We need to be ready for the next high winds. So far the meteo report says it will be slightly windy but no gusts, although these days, the reports change daily.

We will continue to be a bit nervous until the work is done and it makes me more anxious since I don’t have a concrete date from anyone, yet. Just having that would make me feel like we are continuing to head in the right direction.

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