(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

almost did it all my damn self.

 this is a year of living single here in la belle francy pants.  as such, I have been able to occupy myself with various and sundry projects, within my capacity or just outside thereof. thus far, I have ... (although single, still with a little help from my friends)

- put in a garden terasse where for five years there have been various piles of building debris, sand, tall weeds, short weeds, mown weeds, ongoing nettle infestation.  my son was here for a time and managed to clear all the debris and weeds out and bring it back to a pile of sand, with a stone border/short wall.

that there to the left is another little path my son made alongside the little succulent/cacti garden he planted for me...

I continued levelling it and covering it first with layers of recycled cardboard boxes (now who's the packrat?!) ... followed by framing it out with some leftover beams and wood that's been laying about for all the years I've been here. I went down and ordered a square meter of calcaire which is crushed limestone.  It was delivered on the back of a flatbed with a crane to lower the huge square sack on a pallet.

I spent about a week laying out the weed blocking fabric attached to the ground with big staple looking things.  (technical term).  After that, I shoveled a multitude of wheelbarrowfulls (technical term) of crushed limestone from the front of my building, through the boutique and out the back door and up to the terasse space.  I put in a layer about 3 inches or so (technical measurement) thick.  I also did a big space (technical measurement) out the back door of the boutique into the garden and a pathway to my back door from the kitchen.  I proceeded to dampen and tamp, dampen and tamp (technical techniques) and voila! I have a new terasse instead a shitpile that has been discussed ad nauseum as a great place for a terasse.  go me.

- I hand dug through thick sod grass from hell (t.t.) to create a space of about 30' x 20' for a kitchen garden. I did this in winter, doing about a meter or 2 a day. I had to do this twice to get down deep enough and break up the clumps of grass/soil.  Winter never got as cold as it should in order to kill off the grass clods in order to do a 3rd dig/clean but fortunately, Ian and Jean Yves came around and rototilled it in early spring.  They also helped plant (actually mostly planted) all the seeds I had chosen and even brought my requested out-of-the ordinary design to fruition incorporating some old iron bits and bobs and flowers and such.  It has been a joy even though the shit summer cockblocked my yield. yeah. i said it.

- I relocated 3 fruit trees and planted an olive tree (help from son also!)

- I removed all the old putty/glazing from a beautiful paned picture window in my soon to be sitting room that everyone insisted I should just replace as the window is too old, the insulation is bad, etc.  Not wanting a new window, not having the money to have a replica built or to pay someone else to repair the window - I set about carefully removing all of the old putty from the 16 panes. Finally, 6 had to be removed but that left 10 beautiful old hand blown wavy panes for gazing through and dreamily dreaming.  Just about the time to reputty and replace the panes, who shows up but Jean Yves who volunteers to help me.  Being JY, he also didn't mock or argue when I told him I wanted to relocate all the wavy panes to the lower level so I could look out them when I sit by the window.  We spent a day placing the glass just so and then I puttied, he smoothed/finished.  I left that to sit for nearly 2 weeks, to dry out and ready for painting.  I painted the window frame in a pretty soft grey that I blended and was very pleased with the color. But not so pleased because the mastic wasn't dry enought and the linseed oil has spotted through the paint after 2 coats.  I've left it for the moment while I sort out what to do next. In the meantime, I have painted all the window frames of the front windows of the house and repainted the shutters with another coat of white. oh and the front door too.

- we had several big rain/thunder/hailstorms in May which broke through a crappy broken skylight window and created a leak. no money for new roof so climbed up there and crab-crawled on hands and knees on the roman tiles for a few hours removing tiles, positioning a tarp, replacing tiles.  hope it holds up and makes the black and blue knees worth it. no pictures, so I guess that never happened. (i wish.)

so there. a short list of stuff I almost did my damn self so far this year. more to come.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

oh hello little blog.  wonderful space that used to excite and inspire me.  my virtual kitchen table where I could sip on coffee and blather on and to my faithful (but probably somewhat bemused) followers.  Or load you all in the car to go with me on adventures in the french countryside and marvel along with me at the absolute improbability that I was actually HERE.  Doing this!

After all the ups and thrills and chills, I didn't have the heart to drag you through the bad and sad and dark and scary times.

But I am still here and things are better! and more upbeat ... I am doing new work and lucky to have it.  My boutique is still a part of my life and has evolved and grown. Oh how I love it most days, it is a pretty and colorful and sweet smelling place to pass some hours during the week. My customers have been faithful (like a few of my readers) and what a pleasure to have them enter and tell me how pretty they find it .. or fun .. or unique .. :-)

I have completed a few house projects - mostly documented on Facebook but I think I can and should also share them here.  That was something you all used to love ... I went through a period of being worn down by my worn out house ... but I am back at, doing the best I can with what I have and finding ways to make it more functional and cosier if not new and perfect. My next biggest worry is my roof and all fingers and toes are crossed that soon I will find a way to repair it before it caves in ! I try and focus on what I can do and not what I can't since it is out of my control anyway ...

a lot has happened ... my daughter went and got herself married! my son went and fell in love!

my dear buddy Louis lou lou left me last fall.

so yeah - some blows and some grows.  but all in all, I am still head over heels with France.  and hoping soon to share with you some convincing stories and arguments as to why.

I don't say it often enough little blog, but I do love you and what you gave to me... and readers, I owe you some tall tales so gonna get crackin' xx kimberlee