Saturday, February 9, 2013

Doctor Doolittle's other problem
“The last thing I need is an old infected cock.” I let out a deep breath and started walking to the Kitchen where Cindy happened to be.

          This started yesterday, well to be more precise it started the day we bought Petit Clos. The latest chapter, I guess started yesterday.  I had returned from driving my future retirement plan, Caleigh, to school.  All was good in the world. I arrived back to the farm house and went into the Kitchen and made myself another cup of Coffee. I chatted with Cindy about my plans for the day, and then changed them to what she wanted me to focus on. At about quarter to lunch time I returned to the kitchen and was preparing myself a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was reaching down into the pullout cabinet drawer for some chips when I saw my neighbor pull into the long driveway.

          I stopped what I was doing and proceeded to watch in awe as he pulled into the space in front of one of our open barns.

“Hmmm, we’re going a little fast today my friend….shit!”  I watched as he slid in the mud and smacked our new metal driveway gates. The large truck then backed up a few feet and he proceeded to get out. I was walking down the driveway as he rounded the back of his company’s truck.

“I can’t believe you hit that fucking gate, what an idiot.” This was said in English as I was too pissed to translate.

He looks at me and mutters something about slipping on the brakes.

“Bullshit, that was dumb. “ Then I say in French. “I’m tired of these things; maybe we don’t have to park there anymore.”

“My feet slipped on the frozen brake pedal.” He looks like he is as usual the victim. I look at him and restrain myself, say “Bon appetit” and leave.  

After his two hour lunch he proceeds to return to his work site. I watched as he left and made my way to the gate. I guess I overreacted. Then I tried closing the gate. Nope, the hinge on the bottom was bent and wouldn’t allow the gate to close. I went to my work room and got a couple vise grips and my six foot level. An hour later I had the gates trued and back to functioning properly.
 This morning I was again in the kitchen and watched as he came out and sprayed some de-icer on one of his many cars. One of his collections of fine automobiles as seen on”Sanford and Sons.” He glances at the gate contemptuously.

“Hmmm! Really?"  I go straight into Hank prick mode. So I amble out as though headed for one of the barns.

“Oh morning neighbor, do you have a second.” I say in French.

“Morning  Henri’” He replies, as I walk down to where he is and approach eying him with more contempt than necessary.

“Do me a favor, I realigned the gate you hit, so whatever you do don’t touch it.” Then I continued , being the supreme frustrated passive aggressive dick that I am. “You see metal is actually a fragile material. See the bottom hinge you bent. Yesterday I took the gate down and realigned the hinges with the adjustment nuts. You see neighbor... steel; as a for instance,... take the metal you use with concrete (Rebar- I don’t know the French word for it.) You can bend it once that’s fine, but if you bend it a second or third time the strength is worthless.” He nodded agreement.  I continued. “Don’t surprise me by trying to help and by straightening out your carelessness. If it happens again; I will take the gate down and have the fabricator cut off the metal tab and weld on a new one. Thanks, so please be careful.” Then I smiled at him and spun around 180 degrees and walked off like the little bitch that I am on occasion.

Gee Hank I pity anyone that has to share the same house as you, or city for that matter.

In actual fact he is the type of person that would not have said anything, had I not confronted him. He would have waited a week and mentioned that the gate looked as though someone had hit it. He probably would think this approach would absolve him as a suspect, as why would the guilty party bring it up. Then in passing he would gently mention that possibly the man with the horses probably accidently hit it with the tractor he has parked there. It was probably an honest mistake; he probably didn’t even know he hit it. How unfortunate. Then he would give me the tried and true look of sympathy.  Hey Whatcha gonna do?

I was working on breaking down part of the cinder block wall between Caleighs room and the new first floor bathroom, for a door. Then I heard our dog Skye starting to go off, barking loudly. He does this whenever Cindy starts talking French. He’s not being critical of her accent, or lack of one. Moreover it usually means someone is at the door. I stop my work and listen. Yep it’s the neighbor

I don’t come to the aid of Cindy to help with translation; instead I choose the insipid approach. I literally watch through the front door keyhole. I hear Cindy conversing, quite well; I was impressed as she repeatedly turned down his gift.
Then he walks down the driveway and I see he is carrying a live old roster, upside down by its feet.



Friday, February 1, 2013

The Cuckoo’s Nest
French Gothic - 2009

We are two months from completing this old French country farmhouse. What started out for us as a visionary’s nightmare has morphed into a source of pride for Cindy and I. The renovation was total in scope. The biggest ticket item on the menu was the complete mechanical system. What started as the original wiring for the Cabinet of Dr. Cagliari in 1897 has been transformed into the bridge of the Enterprise (Star Trek not the WW2 aircraft carrier, pay attention for Christ’s sake.).

 There is now city, well more like village water in addition to the existing well water. We literally experienced the well running dry. Then there is Cindy and Caleighs favorite, the heating system. The new boiler is finishing up installation on Saturday.  Hopefully it will thaw out the Artic corridor (First floor hall, skating rink) into a more tropical setting.

So two years and three months later we will have a completely renovated, beautifully built stone house from 1900. Even though it appears that the family that lived in the house never performed any maintenance for over a hundred years, she was a survivor.  We have poured blood, sweat, and tears into the old girl and she’s ready for the dance. Her threadbare smock has been transformed into more formal attire. Once we have finished the final punch list and final cleaning it will be odd walking around this dapper old house.

The Original first floor bath with what we lovingly (?) called the dog bath now has been razed and doubled in size and two small sheik bathrooms have been added upstairs.  There is now wifi cascading through the house invisibly connecting us to the innerwebs, and more importantly to the world out there. The Kitchen which was our first main project has settled into its new job as heart of the house, it has performed flawlessly. Although Cindy, on occasion shrieks when the smallest lodger pays a visit. Usually it is a stowaway in the pullout compost container, next to the recyclable and trash container.

I wasn’t sure about including the brief, never-ending experience with a contractor we ….worked…?.... with?

He installed the pool, and most of the pool stuff, nebulous enough for you?

He ah…he ah…supplied the cast iron wood stoves I installed.

He quoted us for the new wood burning boiler, solar panel aided radiator hot water heater system. We paid for it and the six week estimate turned into sixteen weeks. Then (I kid you not) on week sixteen he informed us, on a Sunday via e-mail, that he would not be able to install the system until May.  So that was stressful, the local vineyards thanked us for the added quantity of red wine we used for interior heating fluid. It was the most stressful time that Cindy and I shared, although I think shared is the worst word to use.  

Would I recommend renovating a French farm house, and all the romantic wonderment it contains?

Would I recommend a root canal without a heaping amount of Novocain?

 Would I recommend preforming your own appendicitis’s?

Better believe it, whole heartily.

 One cannot truly appreciate the good without experiencing the bad.
(I have learned how to format now, so reading this .....stuff should be at least easier on the eyes. Although still headache making).