Sunday, January 29, 2023

French apartment renovations, Days 607-608: Hikes, prickles, swims

I laid down on my bed last evening to read...not really intending to go to sleep. And then I fell asleep.

We had a fun afternoon yesterday doing an urban hike to the Park du Vinagrier, a big terraced area above Nice that used to be a major agricultural and dairy site. Zari was at a soccer game in Hyeres, Eric was spearfishing, and Dio and Inga were in Marseille at an activity. So it was me, Ivy, and my parents.




This afternoon Ivy came with me and my parents to pick prickly pear cactus fruit. Despite our best efforts, we still got some of those pesky hairs on us! We have a big bowl of fruit that my mom is making jam with.

After we got home from harvesting fruit, we met Eric at the beach for some Vitamin D therapy. Ivy wore her swimsuit and jumped in at the very end.



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Friday, January 27, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 606: Ceiling, volunteer help, and a trip to the home improvement store

6,732 steps

I need a fitness tracker that counts how many times I pounded on a chisel with a hammer. Today was another productive day, including transforming 3 warped beams into (mostly) straight beams. They needed to be straightened out because the decorative molding attaches to them. We found a good solution using a reciprocating saw to score lines every 6 cm to the correct depth, then chiseling it out until the beam was straight.



We had some helping this afternoon from two young men, one from the US and one from Scotland. They sanded down the old beams, removing a powdery layer of some sort of centuries-old finish. It's not paint and it comes off fairly easily. When they finished, they looked like coal miners emerging from a hard day's labor.

My dad and I dropped Dio off at soccer this evening, then made a quick trip to Leroy Merlin, the huge home improvement store. I have never seen it so empty! It's normally Black Friday every day, but tonight it was calm and quiet. Who knew that Friday nights are the best time to get renovating supplies?

We had several large, long boards that we barely managed to stuff into the car. They completely blocked my line of sight to the passenger side of the car, so my dad had to be my navigator/side view mirror.

My mom has been working on her baguette technique. Today's were particularly lovely.



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Thursday, January 26, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 605: A mummy in my ceiling

9,511 steps

I found a mummified mouse in one of the rim joists. I carefully placed it on a scrap of wood so I could show the kids.


We got two more squares completely finished and started boxing in the last big beam. It's really happening!




I ordered 6 paint samples in various shades of green. Here, the paint stores can't just mix up the samples right then. No, that would be too simple. You have to walk to the paint store, order the samples, then they call you several days later when they are ready so you can walk back to the store and pick them up.

I made a stencil pattern based off the Renaissance desk we purchased a while back. I did a rubbing of the wood inlay, traced it, scanned it, and then converted it via Photoshop into a black & white graphic. Then for fun a did a mockup of the colors we would like on our ceiling.



The stencil itself will be more elongated, with a fancy design in the center, then long parallel lines with lots of "empty" space in the middle, and the final design with the fleur de lys at the end. (See, for example, a historic ceiling done in red & white or another historic ceiling in pale blue-green and gold.)

There was a big event at Cavigal that Eric and the girls all went to--and it turned out to be chaotic and not very interesting for the kids. Inga came home stressed about a test she hadn't yet studied for. I finally sent her to bed and told her we'd get up a few minutes early to finish studying.

My breech books (EU edition) arrived this morning! I now have 100 books that I have to store (60) or ship (40). I hope to sell lots more because there's not a lot of space in the apartment!
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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 604: Baseboards, soccer, books

6,950 steps

We got all but one piece of trim up in the middle squares (of the first type of trim, which we are calling "baseboards" because they resemble a baseboard profile). Not bad for a half day of work.

The afternoon was soccer as usual. Ivy stayed at home with my dad after her practice was done, and my mom came with the rest of us. After we had dropped everyone off, we went to the two big used furniture stores that I visit every week. We didn't find anything in particular this time, but it's always fun to look.

My dad gets his new tooth installed tomorrow. I'm going to purchase 4 or 5 sample pots of paint for the ceiling. Oh, and the EU edition of "A Guide to Physiological Breech Birth" will be arriving here tomorrow!
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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 603: Beams and toes

6,389 steps

Another big workday with good progress. We boxed in the smaller side and central beams and put the first trim pieces in one of the squares. It's a bit slower now that one of us has to be on the scaffolding, but also faster because we have done it all before and have less of a learning curve.


While my dad and I were doing carpentry, Eric was sanding down all of the old original beams. They actually look quite lovely once you sand off the outer black layer. I'm so sad that the original ceiling was torn out in the first place! WHY??!!??

Inga has a broken toenail that has been bothering her, so I took her to a "Pédicure Podologue", aka a podiatrist. She gave some helpful suggestions, reassured Inga that children's nails do break more easily, and filed down the broken parts so they wouldn't get caught on things. We also got a prescription for a hardening treatment. So interesting to see how things get done over here.

I then had a lot of breech work to catch up on and I'm still not done! But it's almost 11 pm and I need to stop working.
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Monday, January 23, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 602: Flooring, beam boxes, fatigue

4,094 steps

The flooring for the downstairs part of the apartment (kitchen, living room, dining room, WC) arrived this morning. This time the delivery truck had a pallet loader so they were able to drop the pallet off right at our front door.


From there we carried it up in two stages: first into the entry hall, and then later up 2 flights of stairs (with a lot of help from two young men who kindly helped out).

We got the next big beam all boxed in by the end of the day, including the writing for the two chandelier lights. Exactly what we were hoping to accomplish!


I had a 2-hour long breech meeting right after dinner and then a few hours of breech-related work and emails.

I also couldn't get to sleep last night until well after 3 am, so I'm REALLY tired. I'm still feeling a bit unwell. I can't point to anything specific but definitely feel off.

Can I express yet again how thankful I am to have my parents here? My mom has been taking care of shopping and cooking and my dad works alongside me every day. I cooked dinner tonight (with some chopping help from my mom) and of course she got all the ingredients from the grocery store. It has freed up so much time for us to focus on getting this apartment done. We ate Tuscan Butter Gnocchi, a regular favorite, with leftover Streusel Kuchen for dessert.
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Sunday, January 22, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 601: Slow Sunday

663 steps

I took it easy today and I think I'll be back to normal tomorrow. It was very cold (for Nice) today and none of us wanted to go outside in the afternoon. We read books, played games, watched another episode of Poldark, and ate delicious food (Peruvian chicken soup and Streusel Kuchen). That's about it!

Eric found ski boots for Dio--one less thing to think about.
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Saturday, January 21, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 600: Skis, soccer, & sickness

9,154 steps

I went running this morning and then something hit me by mid-afternoon. I headed out the door to watch Zari's and Ivy's soccer games...and as soon as I got out the door, I realized I was not feeling well at all. I turned around, went back home, and tucked in with a hot water bottle and a blanket.

I just need to be in form by Monday! That's my goal.

Zari's game was 0-0, Ivy's was 7-0.

My dad found ski equipment, but my mom and Dio are still looking for theirs. Eric took them to a sports store that has a big secondhand section.

Yet another Poldark episode to finish off the evening.
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Friday, January 20, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 599: Crown moldings done in boxes #1 & 2

3,917 steps

We finished all of the decorative 2-part moldings in the first two boxes (of six total). So exciting to see it coming together! I got most of it caulked, too. There are a few parts left that have big gaps that still need to be back-filled with spray foam, then caulked.



I printed out a crown molding miter table, as well as a diagram of left- and right-side cuts, which was extremely helpful.


At the end of the day, I sprayed the next set of beams with Xylophene (wood worm treatment). It's really stinky so I had everyone else clear out. I suited up and covered myself head to toe: long sleeve shirt, another long sleeve shirt, bandanna, goggles, cartridge respirator, rubber gloves. As soon as I was done, I stripped everything off and washed anything that could go in a washing machine.

Eric and my dad loaded up all the old windows and a huge pile of wood scraps and took them to the garbage station (déchetterie). It's so satisfying to start cleaning things out!

Our wood flooring arrives on Monday. We decided to buy more of the same merbau that we installed in Le Catamaran. Not quite the intricate Versailles parquet that we were hoping for, but this was a good compromise. Amazing quality, beautiful, good price, and we've already installed it once before so there's no learning curve.

As soon as I got out of the shower, I had to bring Dio to soccer practice because Eric had a meeting. I went to that consignment store but alas, both rugs were already sold! I'm so mad at myself that I didn't buy them when I saw them. Then, I discovered another amazing furniture consignment store that's even better--a bit more selective. Prices are still quite reasonable for comparable items but there's a lot less junk to wade through.

Every time I bring Dio to soccer, I'll swing by those two stores (less than 2 km from his soccer field) to keep an eye on what's new. I chatted with the store owner for a long time and showed him pictures of our renovations, including the moldings that we had installed today. His daughter mostly runs the store as well as an attached bead shop, which has an amazing selection.

As soon as I came home, Eric left to play soccer. It's cold out! The rest of us finished off the tiramisu, played card games, and watched another episode of Poldark.
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Thursday, January 19, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 598: Carpentry

We worked on cutting and installing moldings (piece #1 of 2) that make up an elaborate crown molding inside each square of the ceiling. The entire room is divided into 6 squares (2 wide and 3 deep).

It will make a lot more sense once I show pictures, trust me!

Not much else to report today. There's a huge strike all over France to protest raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. Our kids had several teachers missing, no "cantine" for Ivy, no trams or busses. Zari rode her bike to soccer practice. I was going to go with her, but we couldn't get our bike pump to work because the ball needle adapter snapped off when still inside the pump tube.

Ivy is helping my mom with French lessons. It's so cute to hear her be the teacher.

I should have gone running but was too eager to get renovating and a bit wimpy due to the cooler temperatures. It was 2C (37 F) this morning and that's cold for my running gear (capris, t-shirt, and a very light jacket). Honestly, that's more of an excuse than anything else because I'm sure I would warm up once I got going!
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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 597: Moldings, carpets, and of course soccer

We put up the first piece of decorative molding today! Only one, because we were still waiting for our angle gauge to arrive and this was the only angle in the whole room that was actually 90°!


The decorative molding will be 2 pieces put together to look like one big piece; they are copies (with slight modifications) of the few existing pieces we found on the ceiling.

This afternoon was our normal soccer marathon. After I dropped Dio off, I went to the big furniture consignment store and found two gorgous carpets, one to replace ours that had been burned by our last tenants and the other to replace the small carpet in Zari's bedroom (an old, shabby carpet we got for almost nothing 9 years ago with a big rip).

I also saw two other huge, gorgeous wool rugs and I might go back tomorrow and buy them before they disappear.


My mom made fajitas tonight, which is no small feat in France. Mexican ingredients aren't easy to find, but she succeeded. As usual, the kids were over-the-top enthusiastic about her cooking. I made tiramisu, to be eaten tomorrow night.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 596: So many errands

>16,000 steps before my battery died

Besides working on the Communist apartment, I had lots of errands to run today.

1) Dentist appointment with my dad (to take an impression and prep his tooth for the new crown)
2) Paint store (where the person gave me advice that conflicted 100% with the person at another paint store)
3) Police station (to testify regarding a crime I witnessed recently)
4) Book store (to help Inga choose a new journal)

So much coming and going! Tomorrow will be another partial work day due to our soccer afternoon. I am so eager to get stuff done and I think about it all the time when I'm not working on it.

My mom made a delicious Moroccan dish with chickpeas, squash, spinach. It was spicy and hot and sour and bursting with flavor. We had enough time to watch one episode of "Poldark," complete with running commentary from the entire Freeze family.
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French apartment renovations, Day 595: Leroy Merlin, doors that fell through, more beam boxes

7,110 steps

We didn't get quite as much done as we were hoping, but what we did get done worked out well. Eric and I had errands to run most of the afternoon, so that also shortened our workday. By the end of the day, Eric had cut all of the remaining angled pieces that were missing. My dad and I had boxed in 2/3 of the big beam over the mezzanine.



We had two appointments to look at various doors today, but none of them worked out. Ah well...that is the downside of using online classifieds. We also had to take another trip to the home improvement store (primer, caulk, screws, etc) and to pick up an order of tile.

Right before dinner we had a breech Zoom meeting. Eric joined this one since he's hoping to help our organization as a grant writer.

We have big waves crashing onto the shore today. For Ivy's sake, I hope the sea calms down tomorrow, otherwise she won't be able to do her sailing class.
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Sunday, January 15, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 594: Sick Sunday, dreaming of doors

5,285 steps

I stayed home with Inga today. She wasn't puking any more, but she had a fever and looked very pale. I got honey-lemon tea and chicken broth into her later in the morning. She's looking a bit better this evening.

We've been trying to figure out what to do for the front door and lower WC door in the Communist apartment. Both of the openings are non-standard sizes, so we can't just go out and buy something. (Plus what's the fun in that?)

We have a temporary front door installed, but it's a cheap hollow core that we bought used, and we had to trim almost 20 cm off the bottom, which both weakened it and made it look funny.

So our options were:
a) have something custom made ($$$$)
b) make something ourselves, or
c) buy something used and modify it

But what style? What kind of wood? hmmm...

Well, yesterday I was browsing some wrought iron supply sites, looking for balcony railings, when I saw these hand-forged iron nails mounted on a simple door. "That's it!"



Eric loved it too, so now we're on the hunt for a used solid wood door with simple paneling, either vertical or horizontal. If we can find something the right sizes, we can cut them to size, install new hinges and hardware, strip or paint depending on what's on the door, and then decorate it with these hand-forged nails.

And today, on FB marketplace, I found two doors from the same seller, exactly what we were looking for! One is smaller and would fit the WC opening and the other is plenty big for our front door. We're going to take a look at them tomorrow evening.

(These pictures are from the wrought iron website. The doors we're looking at tomorrow aren't very pretty right now but they have great potential.)

We've had a relaxing day at home. We watched two more episodes of Poldark, ate ham-cheese-egg crepes for dinner, and played card games afterwards.
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Saturday, January 14, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 593: Le gastro vs. soccer

7,283 steps

Eric and I slept in this morning until 9 am. Such luxury! I remember hearing Ivy up with my Dad but it wasn't quite enough to wake me up and get me out of bed. I had a nice run this morning. I couldn't convince Zari to come with me but she did go out later and run to the Negresco and back.

We had the morning together and then the big soccer marathan started. Ivy had a game near Cannes, which my parents went to along with Eric. They got home and then Eric, Inga, and my dad left right away for her game (local). Inga's stomach was hurting so badly during the game that she wasn't able to play much. She came home looking very despondent.

I made Thai curry for dinner tonight with chicken, bell peppers, cauliflower, and green beans.

I had 2 1/2 hours of breech meetings: first a live session and then a consultation. During that time, Dio left for an activity with some friends. When I came out from my meetings, the rest of the family was watching a new series: "Poldark." Pretty fun. We watched the first two episodes.

Inga's stomach was hurting more and more, and finally she said, "I need a puke bowl!!!!" I ran and got one. Soon after, the vomiting began. Lots and lots. Poor girl. She's going to sleep on the daybed in the living room since she's still spitting and gagging. "Le gastro" is the phrase for a stomach bug.
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Friday, January 13, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 592: Lumberjacking at 11 pm

5,491 steps

We've been hearing chainsaws, jackhammers, and drills going all evening, right outside our windows. It's 11 pm and still going strongly. I finally stuck my head outside to see what was going on. There are several work trucks parked right below us, and workers all over the scaffolding on the building next door.

Someone was cutting huge sheets of plywood with a chainsaw and handing them up to the workers on the scaffolding.



But at 11 at night? What's going on? I saw someone on the scaffolding at our level and asked him. "On ferme les fenêtres. Il y avait des squats." (We're closing the windows. There were squatters.)

Therere were police earlier in the day, so I'm guessing they evicted all the squatters and called over an emergency night crew to close everything up. The building has been closed and locked, but somehow people were still getting in.

We had an excellent work day today, with me, my dad, and Eric. My dad and I boxed in the first beam, the one that goes over the shower, WC, and bedroom wall. We're rebuilding what was originally there when the apartment was built 500 or so years ago. We will box in all the big beams, then create a series of shallower boxes going perpendicularly, one in the middle and ones along each side. Then we install two different kinds of molding and voila! We have recreated the orignal wooden ceiling.

Everything worked out wonderfully, and we were able to get things fitted exactly as they should be. Whenever we were aiming to get things level or plumb, they were spot on with less than a millimeter of variation. So satisfying!

During this time, Eric was up on the scaffolding putting in all of the missing pieces of wood (everything that is light is what he's put back from pieces that had been taken out at some point; everything that is dark is original).



After dinner, we went out to the coulée verte to try out these new LED helicopters that my mom bought. You launch them with a slingshot. Lots of fun. Then we watched Ocean's 8.


My mom made bolani for lunch (stuffed flatbread from Afghanistan). It was amazing! For dinner, I made spicy crab sushi. I made close to 20 rolls and it was all gone except for 2 rolls, which we set aside for Eric. (He's off playing soccer tonight.)



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Thursday, January 12, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 590: A very expensive baguette

13,314 steps

The air was crisp this morning. I kept my light jacket on during my entire run. It usually comes off at some point and I am left in just a t-shirt.

Lots more great progress today on the Communist apartment. Now that Eric's new textbook is submitted to the publisher, he can help us out! We worked on the ceiling most of the day, putting up missing pieces of woodwork, filling in the rim joists with spray foam, and doing lots of other odds and ends. I'm feeling confident that we'll actually get this ceiling rebuilt and restored!


When my dad was eating lunch today, he built himself a delicious baguette sandwich. He bit down....and broke off an entire tooth! My dentist is closed today, so we brought him to a big detail office on Jean Medecin that does urgent care dentistry as well as all of the normal stuff. He will need a crown for the tooth (still relatively expensive even here in France, but less than in the US).

He was impressed by the speed of our visit, by the quality of the machinery and equipment, and the low price for the consultation (2 x-rays and a visit with a dentist = 23 Euros).

Eric and I were able to go on a walk this evening. Zari is at a soccer practice and Dio is finishing up a virtual class. I'm excited to get back to renovation work tomorrow!
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Wednesday, January 11, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 589: Ivy meets Brigitte Macron, mayor Christian Estrosi, and Didier Deschamps

4,428 steps

Ivy's soccer team got invited to a big event in Nice today. The main guest/speaker was Didier Deschamps. Also present were Nice's mayor Christian Estrosi and the president's wife, Brigitte Macron.


Ivy was RIGHT next to all three of them! No big deal, just hanging out with the president's wife, the mayor, and a super famous French soccer coach. She didn't even realize who Brigitte was until after it was done.






The other kids were jealous that they weren't invited!

My dad and I installed the other three windows this morning, one in the kitchen and two in the bedroom (on the mezzanine). I applied the spray foam and then had to call it a day since I had some breech work to catch up on before our busy soccer afternoon.






Here's how our afternoons work: first, Ivy and Eric go to practice, which starts at noon. As soon as they come back, we load up into the car. I drop Eric and the girls off at Cavigal and continue on to Dio's club, about 10 minutes further from Cavigal. I wait 2 hours until Dio has finished practice, then drive back to Cavigal and pick everyone up.

Because my parents are here, Ivy didn't have to come with me. While I was waiting for Dio, I went to a big furniture consignment store. Then I sat in the car and read a book ("Disloyal" by Michael Cohen) and found myself nodding off a few times.

My mom made goulash for dinner. Yum!
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Tuesday, January 10, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 588: This & that

15,234 steps

The sea was calm this morning when I went running. That was good news for Ivy, who has sailing class on Tuesdays. Two of her classmates fell into the water when they were getting off their boats at the end of the class. She wished she had fallen in--she would have loved to have a swim!

My dad and I worked on lots of little projects today. I got the window openings primed and painted so we can put the last three windows in tomorrow morning. My dad did a big cleanup and organization, getting things ready for pouring cement in the peripheral areas of the floor. We're not quite ready to start but at least it's cleaner now. I applied spray foam around the two big windows, let it cure, and trimmed it down. I also painted the second coat of waterproofing membrane in the shower and painted a few more areas that needed shellac sealing.

We've had a dehumidifer that has been leaking intermittently, from somewhere inside the compressor. My dad took it apart today, couldn't find anything visible. Finally, he had the idea to put a straw into the little hole where the water is supposed to come out. He sucked...and out came a wad of lint! That was the culprit.

I had to run to the big Carrefour to buy more school notebooks.

I showed my parents my favorite French renovating Youtube channel (Les Jeromes) and we watched two episodes.
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Monday, January 09, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 587: Windows!!

4,070 steps and SO MUCH sawdust

Our windows arrived this morning. Eric's friend, who is a window installer, helped arrange the delivery with two of his guys, and then Eric's friend stayed and helped us put the two big ones in. We were very glad to have his help, since they were enormous.



While Eric was helping them pick up and deliver the windows from the factory, my dad and I took the old windows off and then framed in both openings until everything was square and flush.

I tied the shutters closed in two different places to ensure no one fell out the windows.

Eric's friend finished before noon. I stayed on to frame and square the two bedroom windows. We are down to small scraps of wood now, so I couldn't find anything the right size. I finally had to use our last big salvaged beam (about 8x11 cm and 250 cm long) and rip it into useable lumber. Which means...loads of sawdust. I forgot to hook up the shop vac until I was halfway through the project.

Even this old worm eaten beam, which looked terrible on the outside, was gorgeous once it was cut open. It's too bad we won't see any of the wood!

My mom made a delicious lemon chicken Greek soup. She also went grocery shopping to several different stores. My dad helped me all day. I think I have worn my parents out!
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Sunday, January 08, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 586: Rain means snow so it's good

6,514 steps

I did my usual walk to Cimiez in a light rain, but by time I was going to head back, it was a steady, heavy rain. I opted to catch a ride home with everyone else. It's been raining all day, which we are 100% on board with as that means snow up in the Alps. Snow = skiing!

We played board games, read books, talked about watching a movie but never settled on one, looked at light fixtures online, did homework, napped (my parents), had dinner (brandade de morue, green beans, tarte au chocolat), and generally had a quiet day.

Our windows arrive tomorrow morning so we have several things to prep first thing. Very excited to finally close off the apartment and keep the noise and dust our of our building's staircase.
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Saturday, January 07, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 585: Grandparents' grand arrival

They are finally here, after 4 days of traveling. Last night was a bit crazy because the kids and Eric didn't get back until after 1 am, and it took me a while to fall back asleep. Then we got woken up again from some loud noises in our staircase, so then I was up for a while (reading) until I could fall back asleep.

Inga had a soccer game in the arly afternoon, but unfortunately it didn't go very well. My parents arrived around 1 pm. We had lunch and then showed them our progress on the Communist apartment. Last time they were there, we had just installed the mezzanine structure and not done much else.

I was called away unexpectedly most of the afternoon and evening so the kids took my parents out for a nice long walk along the sea. It was warm and sunny, which my parents greatly appreciated, coming from snow-bound Minnesota.

We watched Oblivion tonight and had a fun time with our running commentary, MST3K style. Another late bedtime for the kids tonight.
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Friday, January 06, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 584: Groundhog day in the airport

4,078 steps

Yet again, my parent's flight is delayed and changed. They were re-booked to go through Paris, but then their flight was delayed so much that they would have missed the connection. Last I heard they were re-re-booked to go through London Heathrow. But my mom said, "We did get warm cookies at the Hilton."

Warm cookies > missing your flight 2 days in a row?

I spent all morning stripping paint. After at least 4 coats of paint stripper, I got sevearl layers off, but thelast layer didn't soften even the smallest bit. So I've decided that the doors will have to be painted...but at least most of the paint is gone and all of the paint is cleaned out of the moldings and intricate parts.

The doors got a good cleaning and stripping with white spirit and steel wool, then a thorough sanding.

I sanded the cracks of the door frame with an angle sander.

I stripped the small section of tomettes (hexagonal tiles) left in the alcove.

I stripped 3 elaborate pieces of molding left over from the old wood ceiling. They had already been stripped with denatured alcohol and then sandblasted, but I was hoping to get them a bit lighter with paint stripper. Nope--not any difference! They will be dark.

Anyway that was my morning through 1 pm. Very messy and stinky.. Somehow a big glob of paint stripper landed on the top of my shoe, worked its way through the shoe and then through the sock, and then started burning the top of my foot. It was slow and gradual and then bam! It was really burning. I hopped in the shower but the skin was already damaged. I spread numbing cream on it and after sevearl hours the sting has lessened.

I worked on breech stuff all afternoon, ending with a debrief at dinnertime.

Zari, Dio, and Inga are at an activity (raclette + movie night) so they won't be home until close to midnight. Ivy and I watched a few more episodes of Les Jeromes, a renovation vlog that makes us feel lazy in comparison. They are two friends redoing an entire chateau themselves.
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Thursday, January 05, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 583: Paint stripping, snowstorms, and flight delays

14,781 steps

Well, my parents didn't arrive today. In fact, they are still stuck in Minnesota! They got on the plane yesterday...and waited...and finally had to deplane. The plane never took off due to a snowstorm. They stayed the night in the Twin Cities and went back to the airport today to find a flight.

With an entire flight being cancelled the day before, everything today is now oversold. My parents were offered the possibilty of staying overnight one more night and flying out tomorrow with some nice incentives. They're still waiting for final word on whether they'll be leaving today or tomorrow.

I spent most of the day stripping paint. Ugh. The first few layers came off easily, bubbling up within about 20 minutes. But then the last layers were something completely resistant to the caustic, smelly paint stripper! I've never seen anything like it. I waited hours and hours, and still the paint would only come off just a little bit.

4 coats of stripper and 4 passes with the electric sander later, the doorframe is stripped. I need to do one more pass with 180 grit and get into the corners and cracks with an angle sander.


But the doors...they are still in their "bath" of paint stripper and I'll see how things look tomorrow.


I went running in the morning despite being very tired. I'm glad I went. Then we had a nice walk this evening.
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Wednesday, January 04, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 582: Painting complete (for now)

Everything that can be painted, is now painted with all coats applied. I was going to run after painting, but it took me all the way up until soccer. I ended up playing taxi and--gasp!--driving the car.

I almost never drive over here and am happy with that arrangement. But it looks like I may be driving more on Wednesdays because Dio has a new soccer club that is outside of Nice.

On the up side, Cavigal is right on the way so I can drop off everyone else and then pick them up at the end of all of the practices, saving a good amount on tram tickets.

Dio said his first practice/tryout went well, so for now he's on the team and we hope it stays that way.

Ivy had already finished her practice, so she and I went grocery shopping once everyone was dropped off.

Eric had a meeting at Cavigal after the practice, so I took everyone else home and even found a parking spot. No small feat here in Old Nice. I'm right next to a small digger that has a spot reserved for itself. My parents arrive tomorrow!

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Tuesday, January 03, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 581: Back to school, back to Leroy Merlin

11,782 steps

I love going to home improvement stores--in the US. In France, we have to prepare mentally for the zombie apocalypse every time we go. But it was necessary. On top of the normal hassle of driivng to the far edge of Nice and paying the freeway tolls, the entire parking lot was ripped up and barred off and all the entrances were difficult to access.

But, it was a productive trip this afternoon. We selected and ordered tile for both WCs as well as the shower. We bought paint stripper, primer, paint, sand, gravel, tile mortar, spray foam, and epoxy grout.

Eric is still deep in book chapter writing and editing.

Tomorrow is soccer practice for all the kids. Dio is trying out for a new team, while the girls are all staying at Cavigal. My priorities for tomorrow: go running, get some painting done, and get some breech work done.
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Monday, January 02, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 580: Rusty paint

11,265 steps

Nice run this morning, although it was hard to wake up at 8 am. Tomorrow's 7 am alarm is going to be hard on all of us!

I opened a mostly-full 20 liter bucket of satin wall paint that we used in Le Catamaran. I started painting but soon discovered that the can had started rusting and staining the paint! I rolled quite a bit but as I used up more paint, the rust streaks became more prevalant. I finally gave up. I will have to buy an entirely new bucket of paint. So frustrating as it's only a year old or so and not useable!

Ivy had to do a swimming test today in preparation for sailing, which her school class does once a week. She passed, of course, and then spent another 20 minutes swimming for fun.

I had a long breech debrief this evening. The kids all had homework to finish up. Eric is deep in book writing and revising.

My parents arrive on Thursday. They'll be staying almost 3 months and my dad and I will be doing a lot of renovating together! We're very excited to have them stay for so long. I put a spare twin mattress up in the attic for Zari, since my parents will be staying in her bedroom.
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Sunday, January 01, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 579: A 300-year-old piece of history

10,672 steps

I spotted an amazing "porte manteau" (coat hanger) on the classifieds and picked it up today. It was made in 1734 and is full of fantastical carvings. We gave it a good cleaning and then set it aside to be installed in the front Communist apartment once it's done. Pictures coming tomorrow since the light isn't good at night.

We had a laid-back afternoon and then watched Glass Onion together after dinner. We have one more day of holidays and then resume our usual schedule on Tuesday.

Dinner was Thai coconut chicken soup: coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, Thai chili sauce, ginger, lemongrass, chicken, & mushrooms. So good!
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Saturday, December 31, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 578: More painting, Avatar, and the end of 2022

14,264 steps

Wow, I slept in until 9 am! Almost unheard of for me. I went running and then painted the 4th coat (3rd finish coat) on the mezzanine ceiling. I hope this coat finally looks uniform. If not, I'll have to swtich brands of paint and do 2 more coats. Please NOOOOO!

We all went to the coulee verte in the afternoon. It's been a very temperate winter so far. Daytime highs are often around 15C (60F), which is so pleasant. The kids played badminton and soccer.

We had a quick dinner of moules frites (mussels & fries) before heading to see the second Avatar. We went to a new theater that was 4 tram stops away. We decided to walk there and would have taken the tram home...but the next tram would have been such a long wait that it was faster to walk home, too!

I enjoyed the walk. Ivy and Inga were babbling nonstop about Avatar and the streets were lively. It's New Year's Eve, after all.
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Friday, December 30, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 577: Painting & winter carnival

8,131 steps

More painting! I got the 2nd finish coat on the ceiling...but it might need a 3rd coat because I had to swtich brands of paint between the first and second coats. Both were flat white paint but they are slightly different, enough that the ceiling still looks patchy. Argh. I also edged the walls with the first finish coat.

The kids went out exercising while I was painting.

I had a Zoom meeting later in the afternoon, and then I went with the kids to a winter carnival. Inga was invited by a friend, and they had an extra pass. But the kids couldn't decide who got to go with Inga, so finally Eric decided that they could all go and I would buy tickets for the other two.

However, when we got there, Zari and Dio quickly decided they weren't interested. It was a typical carnival--bright lights, noise everywhere, crowds of people, churros and cotton candy. Half was outdoors and half was inside a truly gargantuan arena--bit enough for the enormous rides. So in the end if was just Inga and one sibling!

I treated Zari and Dio to a pastry of their choice on the way home. Dio chose a vanilla eclair, Zari a mini buche de noel, and me a pain au chocolat.

Eric had a pickup soccer game this evening, which was really fun. The kids got to bed about an hour later than usual, but , hey, "it's vuh-cation!" as Ivy always says.
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Thursday, December 29, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 576: More painting, grocery shopping

I went running this morning, a bit late getting started but sleep is good, right? Then I painted the whole first coat on the mezzaine ceiling. It will need a second coat; there are some slight variations in sheen after primiping + 1 coat.

That brought me to 2 pm. Inga came back from her sleepover right as I was finishing up. I don't even want to know how late she stayed up. "But we slept until almost noon so I actually got enough sleep!" she said. Time for a late lunch and then grocery shopping with Eric.

Dio went biking with a friend, and they ended up going all the way to the airport and back.

Inga caught up on an episode of Boba Fett, and then we all finished off the season together by watching the last two episodes. Zari said, "I just want to see more baby Yoda."
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Wednesday, December 28, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 575: Painting, so much painting

We all slept in today--I was up maybe by 8:30 with most of the kids, Eric by 9, and Zari I had to wake up close to 9:30! Eric hasn't been sleeping well lately so he was so happy to feel well-rested today.

I went straight downstairs to work on the Communist apartment, not even showering first because I knew I would get dirty. I started with sanding, then did tons of painting, and ended the day with some spot caulking. The entire space (underneath the mezzanine and the two big bay windows) is primed. 2 more coats to go!

I had a little break in the afternoon after eating lunch and showering. I needed more paint stripper (décapant) but the place I usually buy it at no longer stocks it! Oh well...it was nice to get outside. I got my painting clothes back on and finished in time for dinner.

While I was working in the afternoon, Eric took all of the kids out to the coulée verte for a lively soccer match.

Inga is at a sleepover today. We watched two more episodes of The Book of Boba Fett.

Eric cooked tonight (paella) and we got to eat the crème brûlée that I mixed up last night. Yum.

I wish I had pictures but I haven't been recording my renovation work lately. I should remedy that...anyway it's just painting things white so it's not super exciting.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 574: Painting & parks

I got all the kids to come help in the morning. I didn't have quite enough tools for everyone, so Dio did about 5 minnutes of work and Zari went back up. Ivy and Inga helped prime the walls (Inga with a paintbrush, Ivy with a roller). After about an hour of helping, I sent them up and spent the rest of the morning painting solo.


We all went to the chateau after lunch for some sunshine and fresh air. Eric and Dio napped, Ivy and Inga both had friends with them. I read a book.



I prepared dinner (roasted sausages & fennel with red wine & mustard sauce) and went down to paint for another hour. I came back spattered. So much painting to do...and we're just doing everything underneath the mezzanine for now. No point in painting the rest of the walls until we have the wood ceiling restored and painted.

We watched two episodes of Boba Fett after dinner.
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Monday, December 26, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 573: Boxing Day (which is totally irrelevant over here)

My Boxing Day was not full of gift-buying. It's not really a thing over here as it is in Canada. I went running in the morning, then walked to Ciffreo Bona to buy a 25 kg bag of MAP, which I then had to carry home in our shopping cart.

We told all of the kids they had to exercise today. Zari chose to go running, while the other 3 kids did PE With Joe.

I spent the afternoon working in the communist apartment, sanding down the bay windows and spreading joint compound in a few areas that needed touchups. Next, I spread paint stripper on two cupboard doors. While that was working--very stinky!--I did some touch-up sanding on the walls. Then the stripper was ready. It only ate through the first layers of dark brown paint, leaving a few more layers to go. I need to buy more paint stripper.

I had a Zoom meeting around dinnertime to talk about a paper I'm co-authoring with Stuart Fischbein.

Eric was tied up all day working on his video game writing book. The kids were begging one of us to go out with them, but we told them they needed to go themselves today. (I hope that I can get enough work done tomorrow morning that I can go out with them after lunch.) They decided to go to the chateau. Inga practiced with her new bow & arrow set and Zari made a short video.


We finished the evening watching the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett.
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Sunday, December 25, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 572: Christmas!

I heard some kids stirring about half past 7. Not bad! I got out of bed at 8 am and even Zari was up soon after.

Eric always writes down a list of everyone's presents. The big hit his year were these origamic magnetic cubes that morph into all sorts of shapes. Inga is playing with one at the end of the video.



Some stress mid-day when Eric crunched the front of our car into a barrier that hadn't lowered completely...also some quiet time basking in the sun at the beach. None of the kids wanted to come so we just went all by ourselves. They were having too much fun playing with presents.


We had a Freeze family zoom gathering/trivia night. Fun but it kept our kids up way too late.

Dinner was mousse au canard, green beans, sourdough rolls, and Beef Wellington.



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Saturday, December 24, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 571: Christmas Eve!

No renovations today--it's Christmas Eve! Eric and I spent the morning running errants, from Cannes to Saint Laurent du Var to Nice Nord. Some were renovation-related, some were Christmas-present related.

Eric had a few more trips in the afternoon to buy a few last presents and to purchase food for dinner...all seafood!


We walked around Old Nice to see the nativity and the Christmas decorations in the coulee verte. Then we ate dinner and watched an old Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story." (My family never watched these types of movies, but Eric's did. So our kids are getting a cultural experience, as am I.)


The kids have instructions not to wake anyone before 8 am. I'll probably be up but Zari said, "I will DEFINITELY not be awake at 8!" She groaned when I told her that 8 am was fair game.
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Friday, December 23, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 569-570

Last night I went in bed early to read and ended up not getting back out again. I sanded down the walls yesterday except a few parts that weren't quite dry.

Today was Christmas prep day. Zari and I headed to the butcher shop in the morning to buy a filet mignon (for Beef Wellington) plus meat for a few other meals. We got a jovial butcher who, after I had ordered the filet, asked how I was preparing it. I gave him a quick summary of how it's put together. Then he said,

"What time are you eating?"

"Sunday afternoon."

"Good, that works for me! I'd love to come eat it with you!"

We got a good laugh at that.

I sent Zari home with a heavy bag: filet mignon, 6 chicken thighs, and 3 kg of ground pork (for larb, which we ate tonight). I continued on to Lidl to stock up for the next few days.

After lunch, Zari and I went shopping because she still needed to find a present for Dio. We found something and a few little things for the girls. So she is now done! The 3 other kids finished their soccer camp this afternoon. Lots of pictures from this past week! Dio was a hit with the other kids--they all called him "Haaland." 




















We watched a Christmas movie tonight, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Zari was not impressed with humor from the 1980s.
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