A House in Provence Chapter 10


A week or so ago, I drug my husband out of bed at 6 AM so I could get photos of the Senaque Abbey in good sunlight before the lavender was all gone. It is one of the most famous places in Provence as fields of lavender run up to the old abbey providing wonderful photos. So we get there and darn if the abbey isn’t in a valley with a big hill blocking the sun. I took photos anyway and we hung around for 45 minutes and still the sun wasn’t on the abbey or the lavender. It was very peaceful and still there and we were the only ones around and got to hear the bell in the tower chime for an early morning mass. I had to photoshop the heck out of the photo to get any color. I will try again next year for a photo and not bother getting up early.

Water
Chapter 10

November is a rainy month in Provence. It rained so much last year in November that the laying of our foundation was delayed for months and, once again this year, November was proving to be wet. Every morning we woke up to gray skies and pouring rain. I understand this is one of the reasons vineyards do so well here with the combination of heavy autumn rains and hot dry summers with the sun baking the roots under the rocky soil, leading to juciy grapes and the famous wine. There was a lot of flooding in the south of France with Montpellier getting more rain in two days than it usually did in two months. Marseille had massive flooding as well with loss of lives.
At least, being situtated on a hill, we didn’t have to worry about water flowing into the house as I had seen on TV. We were elevated enough that most water should just flow under us and around us. We had several worries, however. Our neighbor above us had just installed one of those prefabricated swimming pools and with all of the rain I could picture it sliding down into our yard if the soil and large rocks didn’t hold it. Maybe we wouldn’t have to build our own swimming pool after all-we could just use theirs and landscape around it. But, in the end, it held.
We badly need rain gutters which aren’t allowed in our area. I suppose they ruin that “Luberon look”. When we opened or closed the shutters every morning and evening the water fell from the roof to our heads. Also, water made its way into our garage, even with a newly built water drainage system around our house. A small lake formed in front of our house, but at least we could now get into our garage so we didn’t have to trudge through the mud to enter the front door. We had a river of water running down one side of our house going where the swimming pool would eventually be. I could foresee a lot of work needing to be done to redirect the water flow and I was sure it wouldn’t be cheap.
I started noticing that the toilet wasn’t flushing well. Finally, one morning, it didn’t flush at all, but dumped water on the floor. The plumber came out later in the day, removed the toilet, tinkered around and then said he would have to come back the next day with a roto-rooter type device. It had been pouring all day and he had tracked large amounts of mud and rocks into the house. He had also gone into our bathroom and done some work under the sink. The place was a mess. We did a minimal clean up and had to brush our teeth in the kitchen sink. Luckily, the toilet upstairs seemed to be working fine. Maurice was really upset that this was happening but I told him that, in my experience anyway, there were often some sort of debris in the plumbing pipes dropped there during work on the house. I’d had to have plumbers out to a new house in the States as well. Luckily, we weren’t able to see into our plumbing future at this time or we would have been plunged into a dark depression.
The plumber returned the next day and did his thing with the rotto-rooter, making a huge mess once again. I hadn’t done the acid wash needed on the bathroom floor tiles yet as I had just finished painting the bathroom and was really glad as I think I would have had to have done it all over again. I still needed to one more coat of paint in the water closet and was glad that hadn’t been done either when I saw his black handprints on the wall. He was really a slob. He told my husband that we should have elevated our house more-that that was one of the problems with the toilet. I guess he meant that we needed more gravity for it all to work well. The toilet seems to work alright after he left, but I had a feeling the problem wasn’t really taken care of. He told us that if what he did didn’t work, he would have to pull up some of the tile, maybe the shower and tub, and dig some holes to get to the pipes. Now that’s depressing.
The next morning, after the plumber’s visit, I could see the toilet having the same problem it did before any work was done. At night I can hear a double glurging sound, glurg-glurg, and I imagine some sort of underground, snake-like animal slowly dying, emiting it’s death rales. We called the plumber, as well as the house supervisor, to try and get someone out to solve the problem but were told he was fully booked for the entire week. I wondered if they knew what is going to be involved, knew that it would be expensive and don’t want to bother. I imagined that we would have to get a plumber on our own to take care of the problem.
If I could only flush the toilet without praying it was going to work, I would be one happy woman.