There. I've just summarized the situation. C has decided to sell her late parents' house here in Saint-Aignan, where she has been living since her father died more than 20 years ago. She's moving to Bordeaux to be closer to her daughter and granddaughter, who live down there.
This is our neighbor C's house. More about it tomorrow...
Another of her motivations, I'm sure, is to move out of a huge old two-story house and into a smaller house with no stairs (she's the same age as me, so I understand) — one that will be easier and less expensive to heat as well. The house here is very big for just one person. C's daughter B moved out several years ago to go to college. Then she entered the work world in Bordeaux, and now she has a two-year-old daughter. Besides, C's mother passed away nearly a decade ago. She was a 92-year-old widow.
For us, one of the bad things about C's decision is the cat issue I mentioned above. This phase of our relationship with C began nearly five years ago, when Walt and I got tired of not being able to travel together, to spend nights away from home, because we have both a cat and a dog. The cat, Bertie, is one that we "rescued" nearly 10 years ago when the people he lived with decided to move back to England. Nobody wanted Bertie — not even the SPA (the local animal shelter) — so we took him in. C has always had cats, and she faced the same issue about traveling and worrying about her cat.
Walt and I went on short trips to the Champagne region and to lower Normandy in 2011, after we adopted Bertie in 2010. Three or four days was as long as we felt comfortable leaving him alone. He slept in the garage back then, and we would leave a lot of kibble and water for him in several bowls down in the utility room. The weather wasn't cold.
In early 2012 we had an English friend who came and house-, dog-, and cat-sat while we went and spent two weeks in Upstate New York. That's when we got married. That friend moved back to England later in 2012. In 2014, we wanted to go spend four days in Burgundy. Friends from Australia were staying in the region that year, and they volunteered to come over and make sure Bertie was fine while we were gone. On the shorter car trips, we would take the dog (Callie) with us. Quite a few gîtes ruraux will let people bring their dog with them when they come to stay.
Here's an aerial view of our "hamlet" (neighborhood). C's house is part of a cluster of three old farmhouses.
At some point, in late 2014 or early 2015, our neighbor C asked us if we would be able to take care of her cat while she went on a trip down to the Bordeaux area. We said that wouldn't be a problem. The idea was to go over to her house every morning, feed her cat, and then let her out for the day. Late in the afternoon, one of us would go back over there, let the cat back in for the night, and feed her again. Walt ended up being the actual cat-sitter. It all went smoothly.
A month or so later, we bought a new car (the second-hand Citroën) and I decided that I wanted to go spend my birthday (March 5) over in the Allier département in northern Auvergne. I asked C if she would return the favor we had done for her and look in on Bertie the Black Cat while we were gone. She would be fine with that, she said. I ought to say that C and Bertie had had a difficult relationship for about five years. He was aggressive toward her and her cat. She was actually afraid of Bert. But C admitted in 2015 that she had started feeding Bertie in the evening (we feed him in the morning) and that he was spending a lot of time in her yard and getting along better with her cat. Those were the days when our border collie, Callie, wouldn't let Bertie spend much time in our house. She saw him as a rival, or an intruder.
Several times since 2015 Walt and I taken car trips for a few days or even a whole week (to the Vendée over on the Atlantic coast, and to Le Puy-en-Velay in Auvergne) and C has taken care of Bertie. We gave her keys to our house, as she had given us keys to hers. Walt and I were more comfortable traveling together (with the dog) because we knew that Bert was being looked after. We'll be taking care of C's cat, Shana (or is it Chat-Na?), this coming week, and she had agreed to take care of Bertie when we go up to the Baie de Somme area in April. Now we'll have to find another solution. Toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin — "All good things must come to an end."
P.S. It's raining this morning, and so far no signs of a leak over the wooden staircase. Holding my breath...