(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Friday, December 18, 2009

friday drifts in...

like the snowflakes in the air. another week has passed. not extremely eventful my week, following our 3 day expo last week-end ... I kind of exhaled all day Monday.

while trying not to inhale too deeply as I began the task of refinishing a substantial piece of furniture that a customer purchased, but wanted redone. not long after starting I realize I have grossly undercharged for this service. There are repairs needed on the piece (undetected earlier) ... it is a lovely sideboard ... carved and from the 20s or 30s. to be had for a song in junk shops, this style is unappreciated by most French and regarded as dèclassé. Not old enough to be antique nor new enough to be stylish. It is handmade with initials worked into the wood veneer in a different shade of wood. It is brown wood ... with some relief carving on the doors. Oak, with a veneer top (part of the damage). It would go off like firecrackers in the states and for a very high price. Here it was marked at the equivalent of $150 (in my shop, not what I paid for it). It started higher and sat and sat so finally I lowered the price a bit. I thought of repainting it first but decided to wait and see what a client might think.

It must be thoroughly sanded, damage repaired (not major but time consuming) ... and then they have requested a 'pickling' technique. Slop on paint, wait a few minutes, wipe off. allow to dry. resand. 2 coats of varnish. It is about 4 ft long, 3 ft high, a foot or so deep, with shelves, a drawer, a door. all to be attended to.

I charged 50 euros. what on earth was I thinking?! lol. well, the couple bought 2 pieces of furniture and, depending on this one, is ruminating on a 3rd. very nice folks and who knows, they may have friends. who hopefully won't be expecting their own 50 euro refurbishing project! as this will be the first and last.
(almost completely sanded ... 1st step)

So far this week I have spent about 8-10 hours in and repairs. another 2 hours in paint application. I've yet to do the final hand-sanding and varnish. I've promised them the piece by the 20th.

le sigh.

so I've been working on it in the mornings, gobbling a lunch, hosing myself off and pinning up my wild nest of hair (washing only to return to sanding tomorrow? why no....) and skarpering off to the boutique. which is slow as molasses this week (so much for a busy week before Christmas ... oh wait, maybe that will be NEXT week?!) well, this is my learning year and based on it I will decide what will occur année prochaine.

normally I've been open a full day on Fridays. But today I awoke to a garden blanketed (yes Owen) in snow and instead donned boots and such, grabbed the camera and did a walk down to Brantôme to see my picture postcard village in snow. and also to see which hardy farmers would arrive, if any), for market day. I doubted a line of disappointed clients would be amassing outside the boutique gates.

I'll share some photos in a bit. suffice it to say, for now, that it Currier & Ives would be licking their figurative chops. The backdrop of the hills and trees delicately etched in white, our little island with a foot or so of white, the old architecture and rooftops resplendent in their new winter jackets.

Maybe half a dozen stands braved the cold. Let's see, we had the slipper vendor. The fishmonger. the saucisson man. the rabbit girls side by side the cheese girls, as usual. One larger veg distributor. One local farm with an abbreviated version of products (just his meats, chickens and rabbits...no veggies). The roasted chicken and potatoes people. A local fellow with his apples prettily laid out. The gentleman (an acquaintance of Jean-Yves') who sells little fish patés and smoked fishes that make nice apero accompaniments ... and he starts his aperos every Market day morning, bringing his glass across the aisle to the wine man. Lastly, my favorite stand ... a Brantômaise woman ... crusty exterior that was hard to break but who now greets me ... all her wares are grown in her home garden. Today she offered mache, knobby carrots, turnips, beetroot, leeks, purple potatoes, garlic, celeriac, some stalks of great looking kale. oh and some bits and bobs of duck parts. All fairly priced. I spent about 8 euros and got 10 carrots, an armful of kale, a big bag of mache, a dozen potatoes, 4 leeks, a duck carcass and a big portion of duck (thigh and leg).

(brave market vendors)

happy to buy such lovely items, fresh and local. She was happy to see me and threw in a big handful of herbs. gratuit.

(this is a glimpse at the Xmas trees throughout the village, each by a merchant's door ).

returned home and applied the paint finish (as described above), hand-rubbing in the stain. sanded a little but realized it needs to be more dry. heated up the last of my big pot of fish curry ... all market or garden derived ingredients except the rice. big glass of wine. nice hot soak in my little tub. pinned up my bird's nest hairdo again! fired up the coal stove and turned on the 2 convector heaters. installed myself next to one in front of my amazing atelier windows and am now visiting with you and watching the snowflakes descend. kind of fun as I have my own handmade snowflakes suspended in front of the window as part of my holiday decorations.

gipsy kings rocking away in the background. not a soul here yet ... but oh well.

on the agenda for this evening? ladies night with my french women friends ... potluck nibbles, wine, laughs and a free language lesson for me!

bon vendredi à tous!

(my house and shop, dusted with sugary snow!)


The Pliers said...

A wonderful post and I especially like your assertion that this was your "learning year." For me, that's a very healthy and encouraging approach to life. I do believe that I will be stealing that line from you to apply to the life that will commence for me in a Texas-sized hexagonal country east of the Mississippi in the very near future:

2010 The Learning Year

Just rolls right off the tongue.


Randal Graves said...

Is it made of gingerbread?