Earlier in the day, I had picked up my girlfriend and neighbor, Patricia, who had offered to introduce me to the Maire's winery so I could buy a nice bottle of sparkling wine for our newlyweds arriving this coming weekend. Not only did she help me with this, but she also ended up gaving me 5 fresh trout from their lake AND an offer to help register me in an upcoming "vide grenier" (french village flea market) while she has her hair done this Saturday at the local coiffure. It just goes on and on with the kindness of our friends and neighbors and even though we have had some tough weeks with either bad news regarding water, insurance or an astronomical french electric bill, the good we have experienced far outweighs the bad.
Again, with barely a budget, we have been cranking on the house and finished the kitchen, living room, my office, and one of the bedrooms upstairs (did this while mom and Gary were in Italy). In the midst of all this, I've been trying to keep my vegetable garden alive with the help of a cistern that Patrick filled up with the mucky, animal water from another part of our property (unfortunately not potable or able to fill our well). It's great but requires physically filling bucket by bucket and hauling them 50-100 feet to the plants which can be physically exhausting. But, the results have been great, having fresh lettuce, basil, tomatoes, green beans, pommes de terre, etc.
Our latest challenge is the 2nd bedroom and brand new bathroom upstairs that we're trying to get ready for our first guests due to arrive this weekend. Thankfully, they are practically family and understand our work-in-progress setting, but still, I want everything to be as nice as possible. Mom and Gary have been prepping, spackling, grouting and painting, not to mention, mom going crazy over every brocante or vide grenier we hit. She's got a little hole in her pocket devoted to decorating and furnishing some rooms and with her taste and creative flair, who am I to stop her?
The film crew came out for their third and final shoot last week which was terribly draining as we were asked to reverse some of our progress so they could capture the renovation in sequence. Nothing better than recreating something that was finished weeks ago rather than actually try to finish a house that we hope to fill by next month. Luckily the crew were all very professional and kind and we had a great wrap party on the last night that I think we all really needed.
We keep getting asked why and how are we doing this and I can really only answer the why question right now because how we're doing this, I really cannot explain. We're doing this because we wake up every morning with a renewed energy and know that every ounce of effort we put into the renovation will pay more than just the rates we hope to receive when the rooms and gites are available to be rented.
We're doing this because Caleigh is blossoming here. Although it has not been an easy transition, she now has a strong grasp of the language and is making new friends as well as thinking about her future. We also get to look forward to two of her close friends from LA visiting us this summer.
We're doing it because we absolutely love France and the people and lifestyle and want to do our best to share this incredible culture with other Americans (and anyone else of course), as well as eventually offer French travelers a unique vacation spent with an American family in their own backyard (hopefully when we finally grasp their language). Maybe I'll make Connie's incredible homemade salsa and serve tacos for them or have a barbeque and watch a western movie under the stars :)
As we're rounding the corner of finishing Phase I, it finally feels like our initial dream has the potential to turn into a reality.