Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Moving Blog to Wordpress

I've decided to move the blog to wordpress.com. All of you who are signed up will need to sign up on that site, sorry. Maybe I'll be encouraged to write more than once a year. I think the key to doing a good blog is to do a little bit, very often. I end up waiting until I have too much to tell, too many photos to post. Hope to do better .....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Back from the USA


I 'm back in the village, after being away since November 23. I returned January 1, so was in the air for New Year's Eve, wherever that occurred. I was on Air France, so got a glass of champagne earlier in the day (complimentary of course). The flight was fine, I slept through a lot of it, in spite of the fact that I had to hold the dog carrier with my new chihuahua (Churro) in it as he became agitated on the floor and tore holes in the carrier. He's the darker one in the photo, the other one is Nacho.

Prior to arriving in the US on Nov. 28, I spent five days in Paris with my friends Jean Pierre and Ellen, enjoying Paris. Did a little shopping, a lot of eating, and one day we went to the new Museum of World War I (http://www.museedelagrandeguerre.eu/ and https://francetoday.com/articles/2011/11/14/meaux_s_new_museum.html). It was fascinating, as it covered the reasons behind the war, what had been going on in Europe, etc.

After arriving in San Diego, I went to Portland to visit my aunt (age 95) and cousins for five days. It was a very good visit, I enjoyed it very much and it went by quickly.

Back in San Diego, at Rob and Mike's to begin with, and later at David and Vykki's "holiday home" on 20th Street, I got busy with work. Darling Nick Taylor loaned me one of his fleet of Mopar products -- the most modern one, his 2000 PT Cruiser, very like the one I used to own. It was a huge contribution to my visit. Dave Caldwell and I (mostly Dave I think) put down a new hardwood floor in my duplex downstairs living and dining rooms. I should have done it when I bought the property 19 years ago, but there were always tenants in it. We did it while the tenants were on vacation over Christmas and New Years. The old floor heater had finally given up as well, so Mike, Rob and Steve (the plumber) put in a new wall heater. Did some other small repairs to the place.

I also got a 4x4x8 crate packed with things to bring to France. I don't foresee leaving any time in the near future, so wanted to get some things over here that I've missed and can't easily replace. That required searching for things in the totally stuffed full duplex garage. Christopher helped me every day, without complaining! Between the searching and the packing I think it took a week to ten days. Chris was there for me all the time, including entertaining me as well as working.

In the evenings I tried to see everyone possible. Played dominoes as often as possible with Chris, Mike and Rob. Spent a lot of time at Mike and Rob's, dinners and just stopping by for short visits. Went to Pat's Christmas Party, with very good food and lots of mutual friends. I had my own party on Christmas Day at the 20th Street house, which David and Vykki kindly consented to -- we were all careful not to trash their place! Had about 20 people there throughout the day.

I also had business to transact, banking etc. and managed to get most of it done. The time went by very quickly, and I took my last day in SD off by going to the back country with Rob and Mike.

There has been a new development regarding my planned parking on a small parcel above my house along the road. I went to the home of the owner of that parcel for an apero at their home last evening. As some of you know, we had discussed the possibility of sharing the cost of building parking on the parcel and sharing the parking. This fall they were able to purchase another parcel along the road and can dig out to create 3 parking spaces. The papers are in the process of signing and once it is a completed deal I can buy "my" parcel from them. The cost of developing parking on this parcel without using part of my existing property would be prohibitively costly, so hopefully this is good news. I can buy the parcel, and develop it for up to 4 cars.

Another interesting developiment is that I've discovered that Roman coins have been found near the tower, and that there is a Roman villa and cemetery on the property of the Claparede domaine (this is the family from whom I buy my wine), a couple of kilometers outside the village. I need to keep digging around here!

I think that's most of the news around here. Still waiting for completion of my "attic suite" which I hope will have happened by the first of May or sooner. Its sunny and about 50 here at the moment (noon). Guess I'll build a fire ....

bon

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall 2011


You've all wondered what ever happened to me, right?
Nothing, actually. I've just been living here, doing the things that one normally does; picking grapes, drinking wine, visiting with friends, working on the house and the grounds, visiting Provence, entertaining visiting friends from the U.S. Impossible to remember everything that has gone on since the last post.

I did discover that my house (or possibly the medieval house beneath it) was built against the outer medieval wall of the village. I've done some digging outside and about 3 feet down discovered large lintel stones and what looks like the beginning of a stairway. Been too busy to keep digging, but will be very interested to see if I can uncover portions of the old village wall.

Spring was very welcome, particularly the Wisteria blooming alongside the Iris. I've posted a photo of an amazing wisteria, which is about 50-70 feet long, very ancient, down near the river. It gets cold enough here for there to be a real spring, with the land springing back to life. I got my vegetable garden by the river planted somewhat late, and did minimal things: courgettes, eggplant, tomatoes (photo). I was very busy with renovations to the house and the garden that the vegetable garden was somewhat neglected. However, the garden surrounding the house looks very good, considering there was nothing there to start with. I had a number of weed trees removed and replanted with well-adapted shrubs like sage and rockrose. I also planted two citrus in a warm corner. I've included a photo of the corner of my entry terrace.

Along came summer, and my new roof. I've enjoyed working with my French contractor (known as a maçon here), and the roof looks great. I've posted a photo of the bridge from the road over to the attic -- many wheelbarrow trips have been made over it I walk over it, but not with a wheelbarrow, as it is ten feet at least above the ground. There is also a photo of me helping unload. The windows are in on the sides, most interesting watching how they remove the stones and prop the walls up during the process. The room will be wonderful when its finished, probably some time next spring. The view is stunning.

I've made a number of new friends with people who have vacation homes here - Dutch, German, Irish, Scottish, English. As in San Diego, I now have keys to several neighbors houses. The Germans and Dutch tend to speak good English, so its easy to get to know them. A new couple arrived from England in the spring, and have rented a house for a year. They have become friends also, so I am not without English-speaking opportunities here. The French people are friendly and generous, and when my French improves I'm sure I will get to know more of them better.

The Caldwell family, Dave, Becki and young Nick, were here in June. Becki and Nick were here for 3 weeks and Dave was able to get away from work for a week toward the end. I'm proud to say that I did not allow Dave to do one single handyman thing! I really enjoyed Nick's view of life here, seeing it through his young eyes. I'm hoping they will make it an annual event.

Pat, who many of you know, was here for a couple of months in the late summer. We made a trip to Provence, but mostly did day things in the area. With work ongoing on the house I didn't want to be away for too long.

The big news is that I'm returning to San Diego for a visit during the month of December. To be honest, I would rather just stay here, but I have business to conduct there. I will, of course, be delighted to see my many friends but would rather see them here. I've grown to love this gorgeous landscape, and its people, and don't see myself leaving here any time soon. I hope to see many of you in December!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Winter 2010-2011

Winter 2010-2011

I just realized that I have not posted for six months! I thought I had posted my winter tales but apparently not. In mid-November it got very cold, and then it got colder. And the heat did not seem to be working properly. Right about then my friends from Paris, Ellen and Jean-Pierre, arrived for a long weekend -- and we froze. In spite of that we really enjoyed ourselves, as expected, and had some great meals. Then Mike and Rob arrived for Christmas and New Years, the best Christmas present one could hope for. We had the minimally useful new heat pump, and numerous plug in heaters, and we were still freezing. The fireplace was disassem
bled in preparation for its renewal as a hearth for a wood burning stove. Open fires are great to look at, but they don't heat well. The fireplace was not done right, as former owners had put in a wood stove, then the owners I bought from had changed it back to a fireplace by just putting some big blocks on the floor and a sheet of steell on top -- I called it campfire on the floor. Not unsafe because everything is masonry, but it didn't look very good or work well without smoking. I've posted a photo of the current fireplace, with a new stone hearth and a new massive mantle made from a 200 year old mantle from a salvage yard. I had an English mason I know do the work, which required cutting big new holes in the wall to support it, and a new joint to connect the corner. Half of the joint was there from its earlier use, and Simon made the other half. It turned out very well, I think.

Back to Mike and Rob's visit. In spite of the cold, we had a wonderful time. We visited Carcassonne, Beziers, the St. Chinian market, the Canal du Midi, Lamalou les Bains and other interesting things in the area. It was too cold for much outdoor sightseeing, but being together was the important part. They cooked many good
dinners for us, and got my little old stove working well. They went through and cleaned and adjusted and I'm quite happy with it. It fits perfectly into my narrow kitchen. I'm including a photo of the salvage sink, black and white marble counter (a dresser top which has lost its dresser), black marble backsplash (another orphan marble top) and antique floor tiles -- all second hand stuff but it looks good in here. We were invited out to the home of friends for New Years Eve dinner. The hosts were Hanni and Frans, a Dutch couple who have retired here, and the other guests were my friends Horst and Daria who I wrote about in the Vendange posting. We had aperitifs, then a meal of many courses, each with a specially selected wine, and twenty year old port at the end. None of us spoke a language in common, but there was french, spanish, english, dutch, german and polish to choose from, so we managed. It was a truly unforgettable evening A very sad note is that in mid-January Daria was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and she died in April. She will be missed terribly by her many friends, and how Horst will cope I don't know. He has not yet returned to Roquebrun from Germany, but is due any day.

Mike and Rob
also got the heat pump working right -- unbelievably I had not thought to clean the filters, and I had been doing very dusty work in the house -- sanding, grinding, etc. The filters were so clogged no heat was coming out to speak out, and once they were cleaned the unit worked much better. Still cold, but nothing like it was before. As if all this was not enough, hey helped me move furniture from a used furniture place in Beziers and carried it down to the house for me. They brought me fuzzy pajamas, a taxidermy frog with a guitar (no, really), a California wine cookbook (no wine cookbooks here?), the ultimate oven thermometer, Sees candy (unavailable here and I love it), other things I’m sure I’ve missed, but best of all themselves.

Finally, an interesting discovery: Under my “cave” which is a cellar, is another cave. The cave of my present house is obviously a former house,
fallen into ruin at some point, and used as the foundation for this house about 1850. One can see where there was a fireplace, under the current one. The floor is slightly higher in the center and I wondered if there was a vaulted cave underneath. As it turns out, the answer is Yes! This is kind of difficult to describe, but back in the old days, animals lived in the cave below the house, and openings were created to drop food scraps down to them. In a vaulted room, there would be a hole with stone blocking on each side to keep the vault from being damaged. The holes were about a foot square. So, there was a large piece of stone, a black stone rather like slate, called Lauze, in the cave as part of the flooring. It measures about 2’ x 3’, and I wanted to use it as a part of the floor in the hearth. So I had the mason bring it up. Underneath there was a small hole. The hole, upon a little digging and enlargement, proved to have sides and is one of those animal food holes. We dropped al ight down, and there is a vaulted cave below, about 15’ x 15’, with a ceiling of 10’ more or less. It appears to be empty.

Mike and Rob left right after New Years, and the weather improved immediately. The sun was out when I left them at the train station. I will continue with an entry for spring!

Sunday, November 7, 2010



The fall here is beautiful. The pattern of vineyards changing color is amazing. The different varieties of grapes turn different colors, and turn at different times, so the view from my living room (and when driving through the countryside) is a patchwork of yellow, orange, and burgundy, with the deep green of the garrigue in the background, and the stunning hill villages sitting above it all. You could not make up a prettier scene if you tried. Today at sunset I was driving back to Roquebrun from a nearby village and the landscape was as I've described with the patchwork of colors, and the hilltop villages were still in the sunlight, and it was unreal. The cluster of buildings, and at the top a spire from the church, and in the countryside, a chateau sticking up out of the garrigue with its surrounding vineyards. Priceless. I've taken and posted a photo of the current view from my living room, but I don't think it does the scene justice. Compare it to the green and sunny summer view that I posted a few months ago.

Lots going on here these days. In the village, basically directly above my house, the tenth century tower is being restored. I'm including photos of the professional climbers going up to attach the things needed to hold the scaffolding that will be going up. The tower cannot be approached by a vehicle, only a small path for walking. The path actually does not go all the way to the tower, which is (as you can see from the photos) built on a rock outcropping. Over the last couple of decades it has lost a lot of rock from the top, and the State of France and Departement de Herault have provided funds to restore it. There are photos and drawings of what it looked like, so it will be easy to get it correct. I don't know if they will use the stones that fell off and are probably at the bottom. The scaffolding and all of the materials for the restoration are being delivered to the riverside, and then being taken to the tower via helicopter! Today, Nov. 5, they took the scaffolding up via helicopter, and I have posted photos. It was an amazing sight, the chopper seemed very close to the tower, it took about 6 trips. All of this action is taking place right above my house, so I have had a front row seat for the climbing and the chopper. I could hear the climbers talking to each other, and even loaned them my electricity the first day to the get the huge generator going -- its the size of a small travel trailer. They drilled into the rock with drills about 6 feet long. The tower itself was a lookout post, and I understand that fires were built on the top to signal other villages about the proximity of enemies. It is not a tower with internal stairs or any rooms, its filled and the access was from the outside. There was once a chateau around it, which is gone except for the vestiges which remain in some of the houses below it. Possibly even this property had part of the chateau on it, as this part of the village is a labyrinth of old collapsed buildings and passages with new buildings on top. There are 7 old vaulted passages and rooms on this property alone.

Work on the house has gone along pretty well. I decided to have it rewired professionally, as the panel was too small and as it turns out drilling through two feet of rock is quite tiresome. I ran across an English electrician I like so I just decided to have it done. All wires are now hidden, everything is safe, and I have plenty of lights and sockets. I bought a do it yourself heat pump and a friend and I installed it, so I have heat. It works well, its called "reversible climatisation", is air conditioning as well as heating, and is what everyone here uses now, as it is efficient and reasonably priced to run. The new kitchen is mostly done, except for the wall finish, fake cabinet to hide wiring and plumbing, and the new door. I'm very happy to have that behind me. When the walls are done I'll post a photo. I also decided to do what's called "pierre apparent" on one wall of the living room (photo included), which is exposing the stones in a wall, then regrouting it to pick out the good stones and hide the rubble. I borrowed the electrician's hand held jackhammer and took off the two inches of plaster and old mortar, then redid the grouting with lime mortar. I haven't got a photo yet of the finished product, coming with the next issue.

About the fireplace: As far as I can tell, there may never have been a real fireplace there. The hood appears to be old, at least its in the old style. However the floor under that part of the house has been concreted, and there's a steel beam in the basement that obviously replaced a wooden one. Remember the basement is a very old house that was used as the foundation for the current house. The grand-daughter of one of the former owners stopped by a few weeks ago because she was visiting in town and had heard the house was sold to an American. She is about my age, and her grandparents (Belgian) owned the house when she was a child. It was their holiday home, and the stove I found in the basement and am using was her grandmother's! She was surprised to see it. She said that her grandpartnets had bought it as a holiday home in the 1950s, and it was almost a ruin. I believe it was they who put in the first bathroom and real kitchen, and the steel beam. She said they had a wood stove in the fireplace. The next owners were the people I bought it from, and they created the fireplace. It was concrete blocks on the tile floor, with a heavy steel plate across them -- sort of a campfire on the floor. It didn't look quite right, and as it is not old, I decided to remove it and investigate further the construction. I took off some plaster at the back of the fireplace, and found it has been covered with a layer of concrete. Along the side you can see in the photo there is no evidence of a fire, or of any construction of a hearth, so I'm thinking at this point that even when the house was new it was a stove, not an open hearth. I prefer an open hearth, as its for looks not for heat, so will rebuild it to a nice design. I know someone who knows how to build fireplaces,and he and I are going to rebuild it in the next couple of weeks.

I've also removed the plaster from most of the living room beams. At the time the house was built, the beams were plastered, they were never left uncovered. In the mid-1800s it was a mark of class and wealth to have the beams plastered, wood beams were for peasants, so it is not unusual for the beams to have never been exposed. However, being your basic peasant, I decided I would rather have the wood. Getting the plaster off is easy, not even too messy. However, going over the beams with the angle grinder and heavy duty wire brush is absolutely filthy. You have to wear goggles and keep your mouth closed, sawdust and splinters everywhere. However, it goes quite fast. It takes less time to do the beams than it does to clean up afterwards. I had plastic up, but it wasn't good enough. I have a little of the beams still to do, on the side of the living room where I had put all the furniture, so I need to move the furniture to the other side and do a really good job of sealing it all up. We still have channels to cut in the plaster for the wiring upstairs on that side of the living room, which also makes a terrible mess, so we will do it all at once, probably next week. I'm very happy with them, it was worth the mess and effort, and will post a photo of the oiled beams next time. I will probably eventually do them in the bedrooms also, but not until the grenier is done and I've moved my sleeping up there.

The village will continue to get more quiet and deserted over the next few months. By December most of the restaurants will have closed entirely for the year; the bar, grocery, and bakery will still be open, but that's about it. There's a new bar/restaurant in town, and they plan to stay open thursday thru sunday, but we'll see if they get enough business to make it worthwhile. This time last year I was in Paris, where there's always something to do. I may get very, very bored here, especially if I don't get the internet and TV installed pretty soon. Planning to get both of those things going in November, which require installing two satellite dishes. Think positive thoughts.

That's it for this edition. hope you're all well and warm.

Friday, October 1, 2010

LA VENDANGE

Yes, the vendange is a girl. La. Today and Wednesday I picked grapes with my friends Horst and Daria, and their friends from Germany. Horst was a medical examiner with the German police department and his PD friends come and assist with the vendange. Interesting, really, picking grapes in France with retired German cops. However, they are around my age, too young to to Nazis (even if their parents were). Also a Dutch couple who were my neighbors when I lived in the gite, who also came for the amusement. Most of these folks speak several languages: dutch, german, english, french,. polish. Its amazing to hear the conversations which switch swiftly from german to french to dutch.; I'm quite envious, as I was the only idiot there who could speak one language fluently, one like a retard, and the third one that no one else knew. You pick the grapes into a bucket, probably about 3 gallon size, then dump them at the end of the row into a comporte, which is a bigger bucket with two handles -- you can see them in th photos. There is an very cleverly designed thingy that looks like a wheelbarrow without the barrow part that you can pick one of them up by the two handles and trundle them to the truck, I failed to get a photo of that. Two people then heave them into the truck, you can see me heaving one -- they are not terribly heavy, about a hundred pounds. I do love picking the grapes, its lovely being out in the vines with a few bees buzzing around, and dropping huge clusters of grapes into your bucket. The weather has been just right for it, in the 70s. When its in the 90s during the vendange it would not be so much fun. Its also a lot easier than I thought it would be, probably because we aren't young kids who are high and trying to go as fast as possible. Horst is seventy-something, and Daria is the youngest at just below 60. Which did not stop her from climbing the walnut tree to shake some down for me. Horst and Daria are pretty old school. They have a number of small vineyards, which are not easily accessible by tractor. So they pick by hand and load into the ancient truck you can see in the photos, and Horst drives them to the Cave Cooperative. I have gotten through both days without cutting myself with the very sharp secateurs, no bites or stings, no backache, and no embarassment. This year there was very little summer rain, so the grapes are small but sweet. I hope that when the pruning is done this winter Horst will show me how its done and let me help. I would like to have a very tiny vineyard of my own, but it probably wouldn't be very practical. Just to say I had one, you know.

A friend and I installed the heating system yesterday, which is reversible climatisation, i.e., a heat pump with an interior outlet, which can be either heating or air conditioning. I don't actually need the aircon, but they are sold here as reversible units, not just the heating. Now I need to clean up the horrendous mess we made doing it.

After the vendange, the south of france shuts up like a clam. The party's over. I believe there is a fete this weekend to mark the end of yet another season, and apres c'est l'hiver and we will all freeze our butts off

The below was written at the end of August, didn't get around to publishing it:

The twilight is long this time of the year in the south of france. Tonight the sky was pale blue for a time then the blue became turqouise and the clouds salmon; finally it was deep turquoise and shimmering orange before the sun went, and the final color is midnight blue with the faint outline of the hills. The sky was empty, then flocks of martinet noir would swirl across. I believe they are making plans for their annual winter vacation in north africa. Finally, when the color is all but gone, the bats arrive. The sound track is a show band performing on the village esplanade by the river. Pretty great. Speaking of bats, I have my own, living in the roof tiles. I discovered them this morning, when I woke up just before dawn hearing the vine tractors crossing the bridge far below me. The vendange is beginning up here, and vine tractors with trailers full of grapes are beginning to impede traffic. I saw the bats flying very close to my window and up, obviously turning in for the day in my roof. I must find out if they migrate elsewhere or if they hibernate in place, as I don't want to disturb them when I have the roof done. It will definitely disturb them if they are hibernating there. I want to be sure to keep them, as they are my favorite wild mammal.

Today I went to Beziers, as I do about once a week. It takes about 40 minutes to get there, but the drive is very pleasant, through villages and vineyards. Its the closest place that has the handyman stores, and I've found the second hand places for amusing myself. Today I bought a guest bed, another iron one similar to the first one I bought. This one is a little bigger, and it cost 35 euros instead of 25 like the last one. Bought a few other small things as well; 12 plates and soup bowls for 4 euro, in a Haviland style with old roses; a turn of the century beveled glass jewel box "Paris 1900" with a half timbered street of houses illustrated on the top (7 euro); a few other little things. Oh yes, an embroidered linen pillow, nothing fabulous but definitely hand embroidered and done well, stuffed with ........ grass. Yeah, grass. It is a 1920's looking thing, and was obviously done by someone who didn't have the funds for proper stuffing; it cost 50 centimes. So, honestly, I'm sort of doing what I always did, digging around in junk stores and dumpsters for stuff.

I can definitely feel fall coming (I think its saturday, Sept. 11). I've decided to install my own heating system, with the help of someone I know who is good at this sort of thing. I can save several thousand dollars by doing it that way, which sounds good. The house itself has turned out to be much nicer than I thought it was. I had planned to add windows and learn to live with certain things, but have discovered I don't need the windows and just removing the nasty partition walls that had been done in the 1960's has turned it into quite a lovely house with great views. The previous owners liked shelving, and built quite a lot of it using a product called beton cellulaire (I love this stuff) and pine boards. It isn't bad looking, but I don't like shelves much as they just attract accumulations of stuff and make it look cluttered and cramped. So I've been removing it, and what a difference. The room I use as a bedroom, on the side of the house facing the river with the great view, had the shelves built in, and since I have no wardrobe or chest of drawers, I used the shelves for my clothing. I've managed to find other places for it and have taken those shelves out, and it changed the room entirely. Strangely, its as if the original builders 150 years ago knew what they were doing. It doesn't seem possible, as this is not an elegant house and was not built by builders or architects. It is definitely a vernacular house, but the windows are placed just right to capture the river views and let in the right amount of light. Quite surprising.

Ran across something on the internet about our 900 AD tower, stating that the chateau and dependances were built below the tower, which was kinda of obvious anyway. In digging out an area for a new door from the kitchen we have run into big stones (a foot across, a foot wide, and 3-4 feet long|) with some kind of hollow space beneath them. I suspect the Templar treasure, but my mason is more inclinded to think outdoor toilet. Some people have no vision, really. So there's some digging to do to expose the entire big rock, which has an area of flat stones near it also underground. Perhaps there will be a terrace. I can't wait to find out. However, my digger is working the vendange for the next three weeks, so I guess I'll have to either wait or dig.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Delights of Upholstery


It came, it finally came. It was on order for over a month. If you order something in July, it cannot arrive before the end of august, even if it is coming from china where presumably they work during that month. Auguist is sacred in France. It is the month of the vacation. No work gets done, no one returns your phone calls, no permits are issued, and no chairs arrive. However, on the 28th of august, my recliner turned up at Conforama in beziers. I am presently sitting in it, writing this short blog entry. I have not had a piece of soft furniture since I left my previous rental, in mid-June, unless you count my bed which is actually not very soft (but pretty, see photo). Its an enormous pleasure to sit in a cushy chair which can be reclined enough to take a nap.

Managing to get a recliner was not easy. I found this chair several months ago, but my new house would not be closing for a month or more, so I didn't try to buy it. When I went back, it wasn't there. Meanwhile I looked at other furniture stores, and on the internet, and there were the most ghastly recliners you could possibly imagine, making the worst of american recliners look positively elegant, beer refrigerators and all. The recliners on offer were also not comfortable. The furniture situation here is pretty dire. New furniture looks like stuff from a 1980's discount outlet, and the old stuff certainly walks by night. There is not much antique furniture from the sofa and chair period, as all of europe suffered greatly from two world wars, and wasn't making much furniture as there was no one to buy it. Nothing was thrown away either, as there was no money to buy more, so upholstered furniture was basically work out. I have been able to buy some nice old handmade wooden furniture, and there is an abundance of marble topped night stands -- I own 5 at the moment, and only one bed. I'm using a nightstand for a desk, the drop down shelf where the chamber pot goes has a nice storage area, just don't think too hard about what used to live in there.

The house is coming along fine. Of course, the mason and the architect took august off, so i'm not much further along with those things, but I've got the kitchen almost ready to install the new sink, and I've partially stripped the front door and some of the painted over floor tiles upstairs -- they are tomettes, very like mexican pavers but quite thick, and about 150 years old. Makes a huge difference to get the red paint off. I discovered that the proper method is first stripper, then hydrochloric acid, and they look very good after sealing with linseed oil and turpentine. Photos of the floor, and the door with the left side done and the right side in progress are included for your viewing pleasure. I've done some work in the garden, its much improved but I could work on it for years. I also figured out that my cave (the basement) will be a fantastic big workshop. It is as large as the house footprint, and has power. The house is built against the hillside, so the cave is not actually underground, only part of it is. Its dry and will be good storage and working area for power tools, etc. It has stone walls and a dirt and stone floor, so it isn't terribly clean, but it can be fixed up a bit. Its actually the living floor of a much older house, I probably mentioned that, and has the outline of the old fireplace and various places where you can see that there were beams supporting sleeping platforms, etc. I don't know how old it actually is, as it may be on top of yet another building. The way the floor is higher in the middle I think there may be another vaulted room underneath. This entire property was at one time covered with houses and buildings, and was probably part of the chateau or the abbey. Must get around to digging for treasure.

Had a bat in my bedroom last week. I had left the light on and gone to another room, and when I came back it was flitting back and forth, no doubt entered chasing a bug. While I stood there trying to figure out what to do, it went back out the window. I should mention that I have no screens. No one does except english people with holiday homes. So stuff comes in. Only once have I had a mosquito (!) which I assume could be partly due to the fact that there are a lot of bats and swallows, but I do belong to the Scorpion A Day Club, which is exactly what it sounds like. Most days I find a scorpion in the house. Some days are special and there are two. I haven't had three yet. I believe in a former blog I explained that they aren't particularly dangerous, like a bad beesting, but I don't plan to get stung. They are very easy to remove and relocate with a glass and a piece of thin cardboard.

I think fall is coming. It was very hot most of august, a week ago it was 43 degrees centigrade, which is around 100 I think, but the last couple of days have been like a typical san diego day, warm with a cool breeze, and in the morning I put on a long sleeve shirt. My vegetable garden by the river has provided many eggplants, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes, and seems to be getting ready to do a second big harvest. When it gets too hot it slows down, but the frig is still full.

The recliner inspires me to find a couple of other soft furnishings, so I may make the trip to Ikea in montpellier for a small sofa and a couple more chairs. They will probably have to be ordered .....