Okay, enough of my lighthearted little ramblings about the joie de vie over here. Our living conditions have gotten pretty dismal and I'm not sure how much longer we can get by camping in a construction site in the dead of winter.
For one thing, our water pump started making funny noises late last week that progressed into earth rattling thumping sounds that get so loud that we have no choice other than to turn off the pump every few hours. By doing so, our hot water cools down to the point that we don't have enough for a shower and even if we did, you wouldn't want to bath in the Cote de Duras vintage that's been coming out of the faucet recently (including the residual silt). Sponge baths are the norm and are hardly rewarding so we're close to having to accept our friend's kind requests to come over to take a bath. Fortunately, Caleigh has some sweet friends with equally nice parents who have generously put her up a few nights here and there so at least she gets a nice hot shower and and the luxury of sitting on a comfy sofa in a warm living room once in a while.
The nice moderate weather we had experienced during our first month here took a turn for the worst last week as it dipped to below zero right after Hank took down the kitchen ceiling to expose the beautiful beams underneath (and aid in the rewiring of the electrical). Since there is no insulation under the cold roof tiles right now, you can feel the chill blowing through the sides of the structure (think Chair #16 at Mammoth) and it's not very different from being outside. There's also no longer any light, so once it gets dark, we don't have access to a kitchen sink (after 6pm or so). Because of all of the above, I've been shivering so much that my back begins to ache and lately, the most desirable time of day when it's time for bed in our bunk house shared with Caleigh and the critters, Skye, Holly & Ziggy.
That is, until dawn, when we start fresh again and have a clean (hopeful) slate. Today actually warmed up and Hank began the process of installing our new electricity (with the help of both a retired British man during the weekdays and young French man during some evenings and weekends). They will help with the plumbing as well so at least we are now moving closer to eventual normal living conditions. This has not been an easy task as we have had numerous people over to give us quotes and they have been either way over our nearly nonexistent budget, not available to begin the work for months, or just not-to-be-trusted.
Speaking of hiring the trades, we know that for many locals, we are considered an easy target to try and take advantage of because they assume that most Americans have deep pockets. Oh, if they only knew or I doubt they would waste their time coming up with creative ways to approach us. Just yesterday a stranger from a neighboring village dropped by out of the blue saying he had lost his dog. "Oh, and by the way, I am a mason and here are some photographs of my work."
I still feel that most people we have encountered are good, generous and trustworthy though. Isabelle and Thierry have offered their help at every turn, including helping us unload our container and loaning us their trailer. Our American buddy, Rushi has given us invaluable advise in getting through the French paperwork for foreigners, not to mention, acted as an interpreter at times. Our new friends, Mick and Rachel have offered us their bath (literally - to come over and take a bath) and given us countless great recommendations that have probably saved us a few hundred euros. Rosalind and her daughter are loaning us their horse for Caleigh to use. Patrick who keeps his horses here is a kind man who has shared his trailer and will help in caring and feeding of our horse. Our neighbors, Thierry and Cathy, have kept their eye on things when we were gone and even heated our house to keep the pipes from bursting. Margherite and Patricia in the Maire's office have been instrumental in getting us our residency card and now, proof of permanent residency so we are not taxed on our belongings coming from the U.S. There are many, many more people that I'll have to include another time. But, all of a sudden now, I can't feel my feet, so I guess it's time for me to say, "bonne nuit."