12 June 2006

Three years and counting

We had arrived in France on June 3, 2003, and we had spent days cleaning up our new house and garden. It was June 12, and we decided we couldn't wait any longer. We had no furniture, and no kitchen appliances except a coffee maker and a microwave. We were staying in a place we had rented, a little gîte rural on the other side of the river. The rental ran through to Saturday, but on Thursday we told the owners that we were moving on.

The empty living room on June 12, 2003, after considerable cleaning.

The full living room this morning, June 12, 2006.

To prepare for the move-in, we had bought a set of patio furniture (vinyl table and chairs), two air mattresses and four pillows. We had sheets and towels that we had borrowed from friends. The weather was very hot, so we didn't need blankets. We bought a few knives, forks, plates, and microwave-safe dishes at the supermarket so that we could feed ourselves.

Delivery of a refrigerator, stove, and washing machine was scheduled for the following week. But what the heck. It would be like a camping trip, but with electricity, a TV, a private shower, and hot and cold running water. Compared to sleeping in a tent, it was very luxurious — our own roof over our own heads.

View of the yard from a bedroom window in June 2003.
Grass grows fast in the spring, we learned.

The same view this morning, June 12, 2006.

The closing (by proxy) on our house had taken place in late April, and the previous owner had of course let the gardener go. We were on the road in the U.S., homeless there, driving from California to the East Coast, staying with friends and family, waiting for our visas to come through. The visas came and we flew from Washington DC to Paris at the beginning of June.

On arrival in Saint-Aignan a few days later, we were surprised when we saw how much the grass had grown up. It was at least knee-high, and waist-high in areas. So our first major purchases were a weed-eater and lawn mower.

While Walt worked to get the yard under control, I scrubbed the kitchen and bathrooms. I mopped floors. I swept up dead insects and knocked down big spider webs. We started cleaning junk out of the house, garage, and garden shed. The place had been closed up tight for several years.

We were both suffering in the hot weather. It would turn out to be the summer of the great heat wave in France, and we had just arrived from chilly San Francisco. Our bodies were in shock.

Walt and Collette taking a break from yard work in June 2003.

The same view today, June 12, 2006. You can't see it well in this shot,
but the high weeds out back have given way to a big vegetable garden.

Our furniture and other belongings would finally arrive from California about a month later. But that first month in the house in 2003 was very exciting and very satisfying. We got to know our neighbors. We experienced the great canicule (dog days) of 2003. We started making the place ours, making an old house into a new home.


  1. Just recently found your blog - I also moved here in the summer of 2003. It looks like you have a beautiful home/yard!

  2. Hi Samantha, do you live in the city or in the country? Or in between?

  3. Hi Ken... What a beautiful job you and Walt have done! Hard to believe it's been that long since you left us sighing over our fog-enshrouded tomatoes here in the Bay Area...

  4. "We started making the place ours, making an old house into a new home."

    Et vous avez superbement réussi ! Encore bravo pour toutes ces transformations ! Quel courage, les Gars ;-) Bises. Marie


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