Friday, January 27, 2012

Maison temporaire

As I lay about recuperating after 4 hellacious nights of coughing, night sweats and headaches, instead of having the strength to be able to develop our final "master plan" and schedule the finishing of the house over the next two months, I find myself instead fixating on all the little unfinished details in every room I find myself recuperating in. I'm sure that Hank wishes that I would just stay put in one room.

Doorknobs are a big one. We've got ancient doorknobs that do not close easily, doorknobs that inexplicably lock us out of a room, or my favorite, my very own bedroom doorknob - that truly and literally consists of said "knob" - that comes off in my hand about half the time if I'm lucky enough to catch it (that, or Ella the kitty finds it and you can hear it going back and forth over the stone tiles down the hallway in the middle of the night).

I've also found myself focusing on our ancient french windows and doors and I'm seriously wondering about our wisdom in keeping them as they all need attention as well. Most need new panes or at the very least, putty applied to make sure the existing panes do not fall out when you open them. All have special instructions like "do not open this one," "cannot lock that one," "if you open this one, don't expect to be able to close it." Right about now I want big-ass, strong, double-pane, weather proof windows. I guess this explains why we have found people throwing beautiful, authentic and original french doors and windows away at the dump (which I of course made Hank go in and retrieve for the gites).

We have house rules for everything. How many showers can we fit in per day under our current water heater and not to use the water when someone is taking their allocated shower to avoid scalding each other. How many flushes we can make before the septic system needs to be pumped? I cannot think of a more fun guessing game, especially when expecting guests.  What time in the middle-of-the-night should I program the washer to do laundry or should I run the dish washer instead tonight? Cannot seem to do both, so I have to decide.  Many of these rules will of course be lifted once we install the new water heater and septic system, but both require time and money, something that is still in short supply here.

Sometimes, I just find myself longing for a non-ancient, non-stone, fully insulated, even,  modern home that I now look at longingly when we're running one of our errands through the countryside. A house  without drafts. One with wall-to-wall carpeting sounds really tempting right now. Who really needs gorgeous hardwood or original tile floors? They're frickin' cold!  I also want one of those fluffy toilet seat covers so I don't have to sit on my hands when I have to skip to the loo in the middle of the night. Does anyone know if they still make those? Mom, can you knit me one? I want; I mean, what I really would like right now is a house that is no longer a, "maison temporaire" I think to myself after a year of living here. Rather than carrying a portable electric heater from room to room, I'd like to feel heat throughout the house rather than sound like Darth Vader when forced to have to make the run down the Arctic hallway in order to get to the toilet. Not sure why I sound like Darth Vader, but I just do. Maybe the heavy breathing out is my lamaze method of keeping warm.

I know it's the dead of winter and I've been sick so am obviously in a funk right now which of course will pass. In fact, I think I had a post like this last winter just to keep myself in check as in, "are we really sure about this?" which of course, we still are.  But, I decided to record this anyway so we do not overly romanticize any of this and that we always remember what it was really like this winter. Also, if anyone else happens to be going through the winter doldrums like I just was and imagines that living in southwest france would be a dream come true (I cannot tell you how often I did this as I stared out my office window), maybe after reading this, you will think again and just appreciate where you are today and how nice modern conveniences really are.

p.s. oh, we did not pass the written part of the driving test last week, but we actually did pretty well and just missed a few more than we could to pass, so we'll take it again in March. In the meantime, we just try to avoid the gendarmerie or "flics" as they say here.

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