Sunday, April 8, 2012

An Easter âne (donkey that is)

Well, something had to help break the unintentional silence on my blog. And if waking up on Easter morning and being greeted by a wet and mangy donkey standing in our front entrance hee-hawing did not do it, I don't know what would.

Fortunately, this did the trick for me. But, why the inability to update recently? I think that our 'to list' had just grown to insane proportions, with everything overlapping and going in completely opposite directions that it was becoming impossible to prioritize. And the more I kept cracking the whip and pushing us harder (because how else were we going to finish in time?), the worse I felt. Just the thought of writing about what was creating so much stress put me in a mini panic. Not writing about did also...It probably did not help that my evening glass of wine was often going beyond the American Medical Association's recommendation for one glass of red per day, so I knew something had to give or I was going to be escorted to the looney bin soon. So, I took the day off. No computer, no email, no phone. I gardened for pleasure and planted some sunflower seeds rather than stressing about getting my potager (vegetable garden) in the ground in time for the upcoming rain. I sewed the dog beds that I'd been wanting to do rather than rushing to make pillows, sachets, purses or aprons in preparation for our gift line. I watched an hysterical movie, "OSS 117 Le Caire nid d'espions" with Jean Dujardin (Hank & I give it 2 thumbs up). This was the first movie I had seen in probably over a year and was a recommendation I found on one of my favorite French language websites:  All these things did help and forced me to remember why we are here in the first place. It had something to do with a better quality of life and I'm pretty sure we were not supposed to kill ourselves in the process.

If you're terribly bored or morbidly curious, following is a copy of last month's 'to do' list and it hardly scratches the surface:

Review and revise Topanga house sales contract
Meet at Notaires to sign Patrick's Commodat (sort of a farmer's rental agreement although we do not get paid or risk our land being taken by said farmer!
Get third septic repair estimate for Topanga house
Study every day for the french driving test
Request Bank of Carlyle loan to pay for Topanga repairs
Schedule structural engineer for Topanga to review crack in foundation
Fine tune renovation finish budget
Meeting at Notaire's to review farming documents
Meeting with Caleigh's teacher to discuss difficulties in history/geography
Get estimate for new fosse septic at Petit Clos
Meeting at Notaire's to sign Acte de Vente (land sale agreement)
Get estimate for gate installation
Attend volunteer 'comite de fete' (summer event) meeting at Mairie's office
Go to Lycee (high school for next year) open house in Villenueve-sur-lot
Buy metal paint for gate and paint
Prep and rototil garden
Send in Lycee application to Magendie (Bordeaux)
Meet with savon d'argan salesman to purchase mini soaps for rooms
Get estimate for pool
Print, sign, scan and return 40+ pages of Topanga contract
Go to Lycee open house in St. Foy la Grande
Get estimate for new central heating (solar and woodburning unit)
Contact tourist office regarding Chambre d'hotes web ad
Go to maire's office to follow up on meeting with Prefet (government administrative office) regarding status on our residency card modification so I can legally work
Follow-up on overpayment reimbursement with Tresor's office
Update Airbnb site to add new listing, coordinate calendar, additional copy in description
Shop for home insurance in LA after State Farm informs us they will not renew our policy
Set up PayPal account for business with french bank account information
Follow up on U.S. tax preparation
Respond to IRS regarding mistake in 2010 filing to avoid $32,000 fine and back taxes
Install bathroom subfloor
Meet with financial consultant regarding french inheritance laws
Cut and stack fallen trees in pastures
Fail the french driver's test after learning that we have been studying off the wrong version of 30 practice tests containing over 1200 questions that we have translated, studied and learned. Apparently they do not use the questions from the latest 2011 version
Pick up Caleigh's scooter license plate
Pour shower concrete base
Revise renovation budget (again)
Burning pile
Initiate book keeping program for business
Install steel studs and drywall in bathroom
Schedule orthodontist appointment for wire repair
Shop and order clawfoot tub shower curtain rod
Move rooms back downstairs
Study french: review workbook and translate books, correspondence and emails
Cut concrete, dig trenches and install underground plumbing
Emergency meeting with financial consultant regarding registering as farmers so we do not lose the valuable 'prime' (similar to a subsidy for farmers)
Find JoJo (horse) new home
Update main website: trouble shoot how to import google map, link to a booking calendar, update copy and pictures, add a special events page
Cancel appoint to sell land until farming issue is sorted out
Sell/Give furniture stored in Topanga. Coordinate moving it.
Swap out winter/summer clothes
Finalize brochure and business card content and send to creative guru and friend, Megan (
Find ornery, filthy donkey on doorstep and try to figure out who he belongs to

So, it's sort of been like that lately.
Our house in Topanga finally sold thankfully and we quickly received and spent our first option payment lickity-split a on a new septic system at Petit Clos (yes, that is 2 new septic systems that we have paid for in less than a month for both houses), gate installation and my personal favorite; final removal of old electrical and plumbing conversion to the new system. I'm really not sure why this stuff doesn't excite me the same way it does Hank and I have a very hard time parting with our money on it. I want the nice, shiny new bathroom or a bedroom remodel to mask the war-torn look of our current one instead.

Some day though. Or, as Hank loves to say to just about anyone we meet, "une petite une petite, l'oiseau fait son nid."  It means, little by little, the bird build its nest."

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