What Was I Thinking?

 This has been a bad week. Most of it had to do with the house. Can you believe that you can have a bad time even when living in Provence? Indeed you can.

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 We are lucky enough to have a swimming pool and the water is always really clear and clean. However, when we had it built we just had the surface plastered, not tiled. In the States you can, and usually do, plaster the pool with no problems but, as I have said here before, the pool guys did an incredibly poor job of it and the surface was rough and Maurice especially hated it. So he decides to have it tiled. He emptied the pool the night before they came-always a risky thing to do in Provence-but they actually did show up. They did part of the job one week-end and returned the next to finish. Maurice wasn’t happy with the job after the first weekend. In fact, he couldn’t sleep he was worrying about it so much and in the middle of the night got up with a flashlight to go and look at it. He slipped and fell and disrupted some of their work and has some scrapes and bruises to show for his midnight adventure. (I slept through the whole thing). So they finish the job, we fill the pool and four little tiles promptly come off. Maurice can’t stand it and he empties the pool again to repair it himself.

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 Meanwhile, there is a cabana that we recently had built that needs painting. It is mostly just large timber supports with a tile roof with those pre fabricated sections in between that you can use to make fences with-just attach them to poles. Anyway, Maurice kept saying it needed painting. He had gone out and done the big wooden parts and they soaked up the paint like a sponge so we had to go buy some special product to paint the wood first with a primer. And, by the way, the paint costs over 60 friggin’ euros a liter! “What is it made of, gold?,” I asked Maurice. No, oil in fact.

(Oh Home Depot, I miss thee! I miss thy broad hallowed aisles, thy cheap paint and brushes, thy hours of being open, thy helpful sales people.)

 So, I get myself out there and start painting the sections that are pre-fabricated. They are made out of really cheap wood and there are all sorts of fiddle-ly parts and it overlaps all over the place and inserts on each end and the darn wood has ridges-you know, like Ruffles Potato Chips-Ruffles have ridges!- only there is about 1000 yards of Ruffles, all flat. I had been out there about an hour when Maurice came out and said, “Oh, you’re painting that?” Excuse me? It turns out that he didn’t think we should paint them, just the other wood so now that I’ve started, I can’t stop. It took me days to just get the primer coat on and the whole time I’m kicking myself for even starting. Maurice is in the pool digging up loose tile and saying, “This is a disaster!” It turns out he is using the same dang guys who did the plastering-what was he thinking? And I am painting Ruffles with, “What was I thinking?” going through my mind. When I am all finished I will post some photos-and when the pool is full too.

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I think this is Don Quixote fighting impossible windmills-taken in Paris.

5 thoughts to “What Was I Thinking?”

  1. Dear Linda,

    I can sympathize. These adventures aren’t always the straigthforward challenge they may seem. As you know, we have just moved to France and the hurdles haven’t been at all about learning French or choosing from the menu, as one expects. In fact, just hours before we boarded the ferry with two cars my husband, Paul, [who as an opera singer is a world traveled person] started losing his memory and ability to speak. By dinnertime on board the boat he couldn’t remember the word for “spoon” and was close to tears. Fortunately, he remembered me and the kids, but seemed vague on much else. He’d start sentences and then just trail off into frustrated silence. Meanwhile, my stomach was upsidedown. I didn’t eat or sleep at all worrying if he might be on the verge of collapse or a stroke. Of course, being a man he refused to see a doctor and just held my hand and squeezed it into a bruise by the time we docked.

    We drove South in our two cars from Belgium, with him following my license plate closely and both of us terrified — for ten hours. I simply didn’t know what to do except to keep going and he kept insisting he would be “fine” and was perfectly safe to drive. All I could think was that if you can forget the word for “spoon” can you forget the word for “stop?” But having no better solution, I didn’t argue and just watched him contantly in the rear view mirror.

    Fortunately I had the kids to read the map since I had no idea how to get where I was going. We were so fortunate that the small hotel where we were staying kept the restaurant open for us until the wee hours. We were four hours later than expected with our problems enroute. They were so kind. It’s people like this that make survival possible in such times! I was thankful to feel someone else had charge of SOMETHING and fell to sleep finally.

    On arrival at our new “home” the next day we looked over the property and it had been left filthy. The real estate agent explained this by saying we’d gotten a good price and the former owners had left disappointed. Well I’ve left places disappointed, but I didn’t leave anybody else a rotten mess because of it! It seemed unnecessary that the inside of the microwave oven was level coated in spaghetti sauce, for instance, and the bathroom toilets scummy. What sort of people do this in their disappointment? It was instructive actually. Standing there, I promised myself I’d at least keep a standard and not let my problems splash all over the rest of the world.

    The two children and I cleaned the house for the two days until the moving van arrived, with my husband following me everywhere unsure what he should be doing. It made me sick to think we’d be living in France now, but he barely knew WHERE he was anyway. At the moment though I had to ignore the problem since he absolutely wouldn’t get medical help and we march onward. My son and I guided the movers through the process of unloading the van into the house. They said we were moving more household goods than they’d ever seen before. Not the first time I’ve heard that one. Viva Americanos!, we love our stuff. Once we got beds set up, I put Paul in one of them.

    It took a week for Paul to nominally regain the use of language, and today, a month later, you’d never know about the “attack” of memory loss and dumbness he had. He’s completely himself again. He never saw a doctor and we have no idea what happened, except that he must have been feeling entirely overwhelmed and in a slight state of shock to be moving here [?]. I’ve suggested if he ever forgets words again he should start with all the bad ones. We laughed. What else can you do?

    Today, we’re starting renovation work on the barns and granaries attached to the main house. Life goes on.

  2. Well, my first reply wasn’t accepted, so I’ll try again! both you and Nancy seem to have your hands full; I feel so boring over here in the US in comparison.

  3. In france , good Craftsmen are very hard to find , particularly in the south .
    I know a lot about it and it makes me sad because I am french .
    I hope you will handdle that.
    mélanie xxx

  4. Some days are harder than others to bloom where one is planted! Oh my gosh, I may be mistaken but isn’t 1 liter of paint at 80 Euros = to 1 quart for $110.00? Talk about sticker shock! Courage! 🙂

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