06 March 2010

Exhausted, but can't stop now

That's me. Crevé. What with the week that was, and all. Luckily, the weather is beautiful, if chilly. But the yard needs a thorough clean-up. It's time to start tilling up the garden plots. And the building contractor is kind of pressing us to give him the go-ahead to start the attic work.

I've been really lax about answering all your comments and acknowledging your birthday wishes. Thank you all for your good thoughts and feedback. A group thank-you is all I can manage right now. Vous comprendrez, je crois.

Wild cyclamens and broken branches out in the yard

As you can imagine, between making do without electricity for 4 days, and then getting Walt in and out of the clinic in Blois for his test, we haven't really been focused on the attic conversion. While Walt's body was being probed and photographed, I went and had lunch with our friends in Blois. That included visiting B. at the hospital, where he is recovering from a hip replacement.

Why does everything always happen at once? The new problem is that Jacques the builder is going out of town from 12 to 19 March, and I'll be in America from 18 March until 2 April. So we could easily lose three weeks out of the schedule if we don't get started now. A lot needs to be decided and done next week.

Before all hell broke loose, I had been out gathering
snowdrops in the woods. They're in pots for now, but
soon the bulbs will get planted in the yard.

The first thing we have to do is go to Tours and pick out a stairway, so that Jacques will know the dimensions and be able to cut the trémie — you learn a lot of new words when you get involved in a project like this. The dictionary translates « trémie » as "stair cavity." It's the big hole, maybe 6 feet square, that he has to cut in the ceiling above the existing staircase to accommodate the new one.

A guinea hen trussed and ready for the stock pot

For my birthday, by the way, we made a batch of cornmeal/pecan waffles as a kind of brunch before noon. Then I poached a guinea fowl and made some mashed potatoes and peas & carrots to go with it. We also had a nice bottle of Côtes du Rhône red wine that was aged in oak barrels. It was delicious, and a change from the local wines we usually drink. The birthday dinner was a 6:00, when the latest commotion had died down.

After poaching, brush the cooked bird with olive oil or melted butter and put it in a hot oven until it is golden brown.

What commotion? Well, we are having our water heater replaced. We're putting in a 300-liter model and getting rid of the 17-year-old 200-liter ballon. That's what this kind of water heater is called in French — un ballon d'eau chaude. That work will be done next Wednesday. Then Thursday, off to Tours to look at staircases.

So the plumber/electrician was here for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. He'll be putting in the water heater, and then he'll be doing the electrics and plumbing (for radiators) upstairs when the time comes. We were climbing the ladder up into the attic, answering questions, making plans and decisions. Meanwhile, dinner was cooking on the stove.

Peas and carrots — nice colors

What's ahead? Now, before I leave for the U.S. on 18 March, we'll have to remove all the furniture from our ground-floor room. That includes my computer and all that's attached to it, my desk, a filing cabinet, a single bed, a gigantic old TV set, several plants, and other odd pieces of furniture. All of that will have to be stored in the garage for a few weeks or months.

Oh, and that means we need to get serious about cleaning out the garage to make room in there. A lot of stuff needs to go to the dump over in Noyers, across the river. Did I point out that the ceiling hole will be cut out just above my head, from where I am sitting as I type this.

Barrel-aged wines are a treat, because here in Touraine
very few of the local wines are aged in oak.

Between moving my computer out of dust's way and then spending two weeks in North Carolina, my blogging may become sporadic for a while. I have some posts backed up, but not many — I'm a last-minute kind of blogger. There will certainly be photos of the building works, but I'm not sure how many.

Damn, I just realized we not only need to clean up the yard, but we need to clean out the attic too. For some reason, big sheets of cardboard cover the floor up there, and they along with a lot of big dust bunnies, various pieces of junk, and a lot of spiders and their webs will have to go. And it just occurred to me that we also need to clean out the area in the utility room where the new water heater will go. I'd better get busy.


  1. Good luck for all the work you have ahead of you.
    The storm was traumatic for many of us, but I'm glad you both came through safe and sound.
    Happy belated birthday!

  2. All go, this retirement, isn't it? Congratulations on surviving all that life's throwing your way for another year!

  3. A storm raged over Melbourne today. Unlike yours, ours was wet. Melbourne's streets in some areas were knee deep in water. Its officially autumn but still in the high 20s yet we had hail. The rest of our labour day long weekend looks the same.
    Mind you, we can do with the rain so we are not complaining.
    Have a great trip - sorry we will miss you on our visit late this month.

  4. I'm a bit crevé from that small glimpse of your to do list.

    I do think the snow drops will be a nice addition to your yard. This time next year you may see them as you type to us from your new cozy spot at the top of a handsome oak staircase. It will be worth the trouble.

  5. You are going to be very busy; all your plans sound wonderful.

  6. Thank you for the 2 new French words: Creve and Tremie. Doubt I'll have much opportunity to use the latter, but you never know.

    I'm always amazed by the cyclamen growing in the wild.

  7. Think of how good you'll feel when it's all over and done with! In the meantime, good luck and stay strong (wine helps).

  8. Côtes du Rhône is one of our favorite wines.

  9. It will all get done and happily so. The food and wine are always excellent. I so enjoy your descriptions of dinner. Like the word creve. This is my first comment. Your blog is wonderful.

  10. Hello Elizabeth, thanks for the comment and the encouragement.

    Leon and Sue, have you dried out yet. Strange weather all around in 2010 so far. They are having a big snowstorm in the south of France today. Here it is sunny but frigid.

  11. You'll have that nice long transatlantic flight to catch up on your sleep. Just keep reminding yourself of how wonderful the space will be when it's finished.



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