Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Petit Clos Grande Opening (pas)

The trouble with committing to such a large undertaking like moving to a new country, renovating a 100-year-old farmhouse and turning 250-year-old barns into gites, managing a 50-acre farm, and trying to start both a chambres d'hotes and gift business at the same time,  is that it's really difficult to stay focused and what you had hoped would have been achieved by a certain date does not happen as scheduled. But, I guess that's life for all of us. Take, for instance, our planned "grand opening"of the chambre d'hotes on July 1. As we speak, Hank is on day five of digging a 100 meter trench so we can hook up to city water now that our well has completely dried up. He's gone through 2 mini pelles in the process as the first one we rented was just too small and he hardly made a dent after four days. Now he's upgraded and will hopefully be finished in 2-3 days digging 10-12 hours straight per day.

The good thing to come out of this unexpected diversion was that I learned how to tile a bathroom and I must say, did a pretty damn good job, if you don't count the fact that I had to do an entire section of wall over again because I didn't realize you had to match those suckers up at the corners. I was so tempted to say, "Ah, it's not that bad, is it?" But it was. See for yourself:

So, begrudgingly, I chipped the entire wall off, tortured my hands further mixing another batch of mortar and retiled. Voila!

Now we just have to hook up the plumbing for the clawfoot tub (ooh, i cannot wait!!!! - my first bath in over 6 months...well I mean, first bath in a tub other the thing we currently use and call the dog bath). That is, until I have to relinquish it to our first guest.

Back to staying focused or rather, not staying focused as I'm sure is becoming quite evident now, we really felt the need to do a project that gave us an actual visual reward (unless you can call repairing the stinky septic tank, pulling new electrical conduits or installing yet more drywall attractive). So a few weeks ago, Hank and Caleigh's petit ami, Theo, tore down the cinder block garage that used to block our beautiful view of the prairie from our front entrance (and cute little window from our kitchen). This job took another few days of Hank's valuable renovation time, but it was so worth it.

Unfortunately, our neighbors down the road rarely park in their own driveway since they have enjoyed using ours as a parking lot and turnabout for all the years our house stood vacant and no sooner had Hank opened up our beautiful view, were we "viewing" their and their friend's not-so-beautiful cars. Luckily, there is a solution for this and will just require putting up a nice wood fence up our driveway once the trench is covered and installing an gate (#12 on "to do" list) and thus, keeping the peace with our neighbors.

Another thing that came out of the garage demo was the discovery of some large concrete slabs, perfect for the base of a patio. One recent morning Hank used the tractor to move them to the front of our house and in doing so, he had to pull the wire fence aside and realized that there were some great old stones under the ground. So, he yanked them out and put together a semi-finished patio which just awaits for pebbles or gravel that we'll have delivered once we're ready to do the driveway.

Which brings me to the garden. I have really, really tried to keep it alive, but with the water issues and nonstop heat (it got to 110 degrees a week ago), it has really been a challenge. It doesn't help when Patrick stops by and reminds me that the plants need l'eau. "Je comprend, je sais vraiment," but there was a month or two when I was actually hand watering (i.e. lugging a 45-lb bucket that I had filled from a cistern) and that's not easy. Somehow I did manage to keep it alive and we've had nonstop lettuce, zucchini, basil, and just recently green beans and soon shallots and tomatoes. A little something I learned about the green beans though. I guess you don't let them grow until you can actually see the seeds popping through and they only have a short, 2-week harvest. "Shit, I mean, dang, why don't I know these things?" And what added insult to injury was at first I was so proud of my beans and took a bag over to Colette only for her to let me know that I'd left them on the vine too long. After lugging all that water for months, I was crushed, but according to Colette, I could still use them for some sort of mushy, soupy dish, or probably feed them to the animals, but I think I'll pass and pay more attention next year.

So, we're a bit delayed with our opening, but our upstairs rooms are ready to let out once the second bathroom is finished. Our dear friend and creative guru, Megan - http://www.springcreative.biz/ (hey, techie wizard that I am,  learned how to include links recently and why not plug a friend to my 15 followers I say) was out last month and has designed what I think is an incredible logo for Petit Clos. She also designed our brochure which I love, except for the fact that I'd like to swap out better pictures as more work is done. let me know what you think:

I'm still playing with our website and the same restrictions apply (waiting for a finished product and subsequent photos) as well as not really knowing what the hell I'm doing, but feel free to check out: petitclos.com (why not plug myself?). It is not finished so keep any expectations low and feel free to offer any suggestions.

Well, I'm heading off to a sewing machine repair shop with Colette to hopefully fix some problems with my Elna so I can continue sewing and participating at vide greniers and markets because at the rate we're currently going, we won't be open for business until August and there still is that nagging little issue about making a living. Hey, I've got an idea, how about taking a little visit to France soon my friends? 


  1. Every looks amazing from here (Catalina.) Keep up the good work---looks like you are totally on schedule.

  2. thanks for the support and how I miss being in Catalina this summer! can't wait for you to visit when we're finished.

  3. You have been doing so much work and such a superb work!!!You are amazing and the result so far is breathtaking.