Sunday, March 4, 2012

Skill Sets

We have been living in limbo for the past few months (oh, who am I kidding, one year, 2 months and 4 days to be exact) waiting on a small land sale to go through, negotiating terms for our LA house sale, and gathering estimates for a new heating system to be installed, new septic (at both Petit Clos AND Topanga) and hopefully, some day please, something fun like a swimming pool. And because of all these pending matters, we have sort have been forced to put our final home renovations on hold, mainly due to budget. We knew that we needed to make use of this down time though and began with the pruning of our Sauvignon Blanc vines early last month which was sure romantic for about the first hour and a half.

"Ah, the life in southwest France working on our very own vineyard!" we exclaimed, smiling at each other as we analyzed the vines, counted the buds and clipped them one-by-one. And it really did feel like a dream-come-true until it began getting really cold. "Are there really 2995 plants to go?" I wondered to myself after about two hours and my fingers felt like they were frostbitten. Now, Hank was in heaven and could not get enough of it, but he could tell that I was fading from the chill and kept saying that maybe we should focus on each of our "skill sets" instead. I believe that may have been code for, "you're kind of lagging in the pruning department. Perhaps there's somewhere else on the farm you could better utilize your talents." I'm just guessing.

Well, even I had to admit that he was probably right and since there is so much to do everywhere you look around here, I decided to go in search of my special skill set. Voila! It did not take long. I just had to walk into one of the 4-5 barns and outbuildings, including Hank's workshop - where you could not locate a hammer or screw driver if you needed one - to decide my next project. Don't get me wrong, he's an amazing designer and builder, but he moves like a tornado from project to project with little regard to the aftermath of a demolition so everything - tools, conduits, pipes and small mountains of trash and debris are left strewn about the entire compound.  Since I'm a tad compulsive about tidiness, I guess I had just discovered my skill set.

I started small organizing his tools and all of our inventory of renovation materials. Then, got bolder and began bagging and hauling the trash that would have to be deposited at the local dump. I was getting so into it, I even cleaned the chicken coop and old bunny cages. Both Hank and I continued in our respective skills for about a week until the deep freeze arrived and we were forced to switch gears and focus on keeping ourselves alive (Hank began each day thawing frozen pipes with a hair dryer and continued hauling in wood for our fires which we kept going almost 24/7). Friend and neighbor, Dominique checked in regularly to make sure we were okay. As uncomfortable as our living conditions were for two weeks, we were able to stay warm and toasty - in quite beautifully appointed rooms I must add - upstairs and with little we could do outside for the time being, including taking Caleigh to her school which was closed for the week, I was able to spend some quality time with her by watching some of MTV's finest reality shows. Yep, I'm now a Snooki follower.

The thaw came about two weeks later and we kicked into high gear with Hank finishing the vine pruning and then moved onto hauling all the trash and debris to either the dump or burning pile. With this pre-spring cleaning out of the way, we're now ready to go back into the house and finish it up in time for opening the Chambres d'hotes in May.

Which brings us to advertising and publicity for the Bed and Breakfast. We're on two sites so far and even received our first scam or arnaque as it is called here, over a 2-month booking. We were just fortunate that had not given our deposit information to our potential "guest"and his family before our dear friend Arlette thought something sounding fishy about his email.  She was right. And soon after, we learned that these scams are fairly common and have now been advised on what to look for. Who knew? What the inquiry did though, was force us to prepare a thorough and professional booking form with the help of our dear friends, Andrew and Arlette. The way we look at it is we learned a valuable lesson, were fortunate enough not lose any money and now there is one less thing on our to do list.

Check us out:

So, this week we return to the house. Try to finalize some things on the Colina sale which has been a bit problematic with some necessary repairs. We're apparently being considered by the Prefet for a modification on our residency which was wonderful news. Caleigh is doing great and has made some new friends which has really lifted her spirits. Spring is truly around the corner as the temperatures rose into the 80's last week and I'm already planning this year's vegetable and herb garden and hopefully some nice landscaping in the front of the house. Now, back to paperwork, my curse and apparent strongest skill set.