Tuesday, November 30, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 343: Organizing and so much walking

19,285 steps

We organized the front apartment and put almost everything up onto the mezzanine. We have a pile of stuff to give away before next Tuesday--wood scraps, iron grates, leftover bags of mortar and wall smoothing compound and sand, etc. I hope we can find takers for it all! 

I had tons of errands to run this afternoon, enough that I got blisters on the bottom of my feet. But I found a nice mirror for Le Catamaran, a silk rug for the front apartment, and got other important errands taken care of. 

Right before bed, Inga helped me mark where to drill pilot holes for the catamaran net installation. She is so excited to keep working on it. We might have it up by Thursday! I'm not sure who filmed this little video of me marking the spots. Either my dad or Inga. 

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Monday, November 29, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 342: Shower & shelves

4,768 steps

We finished the mezzanine flooring in the morning. I did some caulking in various location in Le Catamaran. Then it was time to tackle the shower door, which should have been easy and ended up taking the whole day. It woudln't slide all the way into its aluminum wall bracket. We tried everything to get it to go in. Finally we just gave up and left it in where it was; ideally it should have gone in another centimeter or more. 

Also we had to cut a little channel in our ceiling because it was just a bit too low in one spot! 

Ivy and Inga were hoping that we'd start on the catamaran net today, but we'll probably but that off until tomorrow or later. Lots of other things to do. 

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Sunday, November 28, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 340 & 341: Out of jail

I got put into Facebook jail for 24 hours because I posted a birth video. The computer bots auto-flagged it and got me into trouble. I'm waiting for a real person to review the case because it clearly doesn't violate their community standards. (I go through this often when I post birth videos.) 

Anyway, that's the reason for yesterday's radio silence. 

So, yesterday was a nice day at home, with just Ivy having a soccer match in the morning, which Eric and my dad attended. I sewed our couch & chair cushions much of the day, enjoying the kids as they did their activities around me. 

In the afternoon we bought another "new" door that will be the front door to the front apartment. This one comes with the original frame/casing, so we shouldn't need to mortise out new hinges. Yay! We have several weeks' work before we'll be able to install it. 

Today I finished the fourth seat cushion. So exciting! So now I have the back cushions to sew and then the decorative pillows. It's coming together. 

We went out in the afternoon to enjoy the sun and the beach. It was windy and cold--as cold as it typically gets here in the winter, which is around 11-12 C (53-55 F). But the sun felt great, and we were somewhat sheltered by the tall rock wall. 
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Friday, November 26, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 339: We have a mezzanine!

 3,631 steps

Amazing progress today: we got the entire mezzanine structure up and 2/3 of the subfloor laid. We also carried our steel door down to a local metalworking artist. He cut it down to size for just 10 Euros.

The beams weren't too heavy to lift into place. I thought we'd have to use pulleys and a few more adults but it was totally doable with just us 3. 


I started sewing the first cushion cover today. My mom has made slow but steady progress taking the old upholstery on the dining chair seats. There are hundreds of staples in each one, many of them deeply embedded. Ivy and Inga took turns helping her. 

Dio is not feeling well today. So we have a 2nd round of something making its way through our family. 

Dinner: turkey noodle soup. We have just a small container of turkey left. Yum! 

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 337: Windows, joist hangers, & upholstery

 5,054 steps

Another momentous day. I started off the morning by cutting out the fabric for the first bottom chair cushion, with Ivy helping. Then we had a RDV at the window factory with Comrade; he brought his little delivery van to help us transport the windows home. We were very impressed with the quality and sturdiness of the windows. 

Oh, and our car battery might need replacing. We put our flashers on for about 15 minutes while loading the windows. Our battery was nearly dead when we tried to start the car. We've been having issues with the battery going dead quickly for the past few weeks, enough that we recently bought a portable battery charger. It's brilliant--so much easier than jump-starting. Comrade was impressed. 

With the windows dropped off back home and deposited in Le Catamaran, Eric had to leave for soccer practice. My dad and I got all of the joist hangers installed--another huge step forward. My mom started taking apart our dining room chair seats for reupholstering. 3 of the 6 now have no seat bottom, so we are sitting on small pieces of plywood. She also helped with the usual soccer dropoff/pickup and grocery shopping on the way home. 

Once Eric came home, we installed all 3 windows. One of them has a fixed pane that we had to put in place after the frame was installed, and we can't figure out how to snap in the trim pieces that hold the glass in place. So for now it's wedged in with some small strips of wood until we figure it out. But otherwise, we have WINDOWS!!!! 


I got ready to sew the first cushion this evening, but I realized I needed to take a break. I just got Zari to bed--with a nice long back massage and back scratch--and it's already 10:30 pm. My first down time of the day. I know I should maybe stop work a bit sooner, but it's so satisfying to see significant progress. 

Tomorrow we're having Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. I'm making sourdough and my mom will make something with brussels sprouts. This will be fun! And we get a day off from renovating. 

On Friday's to-do list: 
- Take off the steel door on the front apartment and have the top 30 cm cut off (it will be in the way of the mezzanine). This will be a temporary door until we put a new wood one in
- Install the joists! 

My parents leave in 2 weeks. It's been going way too fast. 

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 336: Saved by the Italians!

12,289 steps

Wow, today was so momentous I feel like I need to write a novel to fit it all in. 

It started with me going on a run--it's been far too long!

Then I came back and started helping my dad install the shower door (really more of a wall) while Eric sanded and painted shelves. We got holes marked, drilled, and anchored. I also installed little shelf brackets for the shoe shelves, to the left of the electrical cupboard. 

Then we got a call after lunch: the joists were arriving! Eveyrthing else paused. This was a big deal: 10 5.6 meter joists that someohow had to get into Old Nice and up 2 stories to the front apartment. The driver was fast and fearless: he didn't hesitate to drive right into the narrow streets here. 

Getting them dropped off onto the street took lots of careful maneuvering. Then the real fun began: how will we get them up inside the apartment. My original plan was to use 1 rope & pulley above and 1 guide rope from below. But when we saw how massive these joists were (4" thick and 16" high), we realized we needed 2 ropes and 2 pulleys, plus a 3rd guide rope. 

Our first try was a bust. We got it lifted vertical, but then were was too much friction against the windowsill. It would go no further despite 2 adults putting all of their weight into. I moved the pulleys one beam over so they were right above the window. Still didn't quite work. 

While we were head-scratching, two Italians wandered over from across the street and asked if they could help. I heard Eric starting to politely decline--thanks, we're fine, we'll figure it out--but finally we brought them up and gave it a try. They brought one beam up with just the two of them. "It's the technique," they kept saying. (I should mention that they spoke hardly any French and of course I don't speak Italian at all, except musical terms.)

After the first one was up, they made some adjustments and then we were on a roll. 10 beams lifted in about an hour! Wow. I seriously thought we'd have to buy lots more equipment and wait several days before we'd get them upstairs. 

We finished right as school got out. We gave each of the Italians 20 Euros as a thank-you, and I exchanged phone numbers with one of them. I think they're both looking for work and honestly they were amazing. 

While Eric picked up the kids, my dad and I went to finish the shower door. We were frustrated to discover that BOTH of our caulk guns were broken, including the super fancy expensive one. So we couldn't install anything more until we could apply silicone. 

Anyway, we had dinner (salad, masaman curry with basmati rice, yogurt) and watched some fun random videos together. I worked on a lifesize pattern for the couch cushions. And it's nearly midnight and I definitely need to get to bed! 

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Monday, November 22, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 335: Shower, sink, doors, & more!

11,750 steps

Ack, I wrote a super long post about our adventures and FB just flashed an error message and lost the whole thing.

Short version of what I wrote: we did tons of stuff, we have hot & cold running water in the sink and shower, we have a water heater turned on, we have a new front door. Also my mom went to the doctor and got the full French cultural experience and is now a convert to socialized medicine.

I'm sorry that you only get the short version because the long one was way more entertaining.

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Sunday, November 21, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 334: Flash and dinner

11,409 steps

We had truly lazy afternoon with nothing scheduled. We ate lunch and watched two episodes of The Flash. Then we had last-minute dinner guests with just an hour to prepare. We got the house all clean in a half-hour so that wasn't too bad!

Our dinner guests were a German couple with the cutest baby ever. She's almost 1 year old, just starting to walk, and soooooo happy and energetic. Ivy and Inga adore her.
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Saturday, November 20, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 333: Front door & Mont Boron

17,664 steps

We found a "new" old front door for Le Catamaran. It's solid wood and beautiful--and only 40 Euros! We'll install in shortly.

Zari had a soccer game all afternoon. The rest of us hiked to Mont Boron, about 3.5 hours round-trip. It was an idyllic day. The sea was glassy smooth and clear. Full sun, no wind, high of 17C.

I love this hike because a) you don't have to go in a car, bus, or train to start and b) once you're up above the houses, you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. You'd never guess there's a major city just down the mountain!

During the hike, we foraged for prickly pears. I still got tons of spines in my fingers despite my best efforts!

My mom made fajitas, which is a big underaking. You can't find Mexican ingredients here, which means you have to make everything yourself, tortillas included. Yum. We didn't have time to make a proper salsa so they were pretty tame. But still delicious.
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Friday, November 19, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 332: We have a shower!

11,697 steps

We were hoping to see the lunar eclipse this morning. We knew it would be tight, since the moonset and the eclipse would be happening at about the same time. Ivy and Zari got up with me at 7 am, and we hurried out to the beach. Surprise surprise, my dad was already there! We had just missed moonset, but the eclipse still hadn't started. Unless we were standing on a mountaintop, we couldn't have seen it.

But it was fun anyway to be walking around at dawn. My dad bought several pastries on the way home to share with everyone: pain au chocolate, briche au sucre, brioche framboise, and triangle aux amandes.

We grouted the rest of the shower in the morning. I experimented with piping the epoxy grout in with a pastry bag. It worked well but was so taxing! In the end we spread the rest with the normal grout float and a putty knife.

My dad and I had another walk to the hardware store in town. We needed finish nails and some plywood (for reupholstering our own dining room chairs--a project my mom has volunteered to do). I told him, "Next year, I'm going to send you all on your own!" We go there often enough.

In the evening we came back and cleaned off the epoxy residue with a special chemical. We also got the electrical door trim painted, cut, and installed.

Dio was more than an hour late coming home from soccer. I was busy putting kids to bed and catching up on work, and then I had a moment of panic: "Where is Dio?! Did he ever come home?" I called his coach and he had just been dropped off a few minutes previously.

Eric went spearfishing today--only 1 fish. He's now playing a late night soccer match.
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Thursday, November 18, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 331: Grout, lime, and errands

11,381 steps

We grouted the shower today, or rather we applied half of the grout today. I find epoxy grout tricky to work with, so I wanted to let this first batch dry and then do the rest tomorrow. Most of the pebble mosaics are grouted; tomorrow will be mainly the thin lines between the tiles.

I have this *brilliant* idea to pipe the grout in with a pastry bag--you know, the DIY version of a caulk gun--to avoid the mess of spreading the grout everywhere with a float. Will it work? We'll see!

My dad helped me mix up a small batch of lime mortar to fill in the gap between the wood floors and the stone wall. We packed it in and then beveled the mortar 45° so it slopes downward and meets the edge of the floor. My dad was surprised at how simple it was: "You can make mortar with just sand and lime?!?"

We also got the door to the electrical panel installed and painted. Tomorrow I'll install the little latch plate for skeleton key and clean up the mirror (which got some paint on it). It looks great! I also did some other odd painting jobs.

This evening we rearranged the furniture so the bed is now in the kitchen. And finally...we put the rug in Le Catamaran and arranged the living room furniture in the proper places! This felt like a significant milestone. Pictures tomorrow, I hope, since my parents are already in bed.

My mom and I ran errands in the afternoon to the post office, fabric store (thread and zippers for the reupholstery), and ,ocal home improvement store.

What else? Dinner was brussels sprouts, salad, roast chicken, potatoes, and pomegranates for dessert. The kids loved how the juice looked just like blood, so Inga posed for this silly photo. (*No children were harmed in the taking of this photo.*)

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 330: Work soccer walk

11,507 steps

Today felt very sedentary, even though I was working most of the day and went on a walk in the evening. I definitely need to do more proper exercise. I miss the endorphins.

We did little putzy things: mortised and hung one door to see if it fit (it did!), installed the WC door (it locks!), installed the WC lights (they work!), and painted the door frame. We also ripped and cut the wood for the bookshelves. The AC guys came to finish the install, but our upstairs neighbor wasn't home and they couldn't get up to the compressors.

Dio was so tired and begged not to go to soccer practice. "There's no way I can run; I'm way too tired." They had a race during practice from one side of the field to the other. Guess who won by a large margin, even though all of the other boys are a year older than him? Yes, Dio!

Zari has a big math test tomorrow. I helped her study as much as I could, given that I never learned formal mathematical proofs. In the States, we just learned how to solve the problems. As long as you have the right answer, how you get there doesn't matter. Here, you have to write the proofs correctly, line by line, otherwise you'll lose points.

My dad gave Ivy a lesson about body organs and systems this evening. A few days ago he did a lesson about the blind spot in our eyes. The kids really liked that one.

I drafted a mini pattern for the bottom couch cushions this evening. These cushions have a number of curves on both the front and side faces. Very tricky. I think I got everything down to a few millimeters' accuracy. The new cushions (for the backs) are rectilinear and will be much easier to draft and sew.

I went on a walk with my dad after Ivy and Inga were in bed. He is constantly astonished by the beauty here, in particular the sea. I love being able to share this place with others. (Hint: if you a friend or family member, PLEASE come visit us.)
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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 329: Tiling is done!

2,439 steps

The shower is all tiled. We'll let the mortar harden tomorrow and apply epoxy grout on Thursday. Today was a bit of a battle, since we installed the marble pebble mosaic tiles and then the last big pieces, each of which had very complicated cuts. I love how the mosaic reminds me of the rocks on the beaches here in Nice.

Mosaic tiles are tricky because the mortar tends to squish out between the tiles and then you have to clean it out piece by piece with a toothpick. Despite our best efforts, this happened to us. C'est la vie.

But it's done and it looks great. For the shower to be entirely finished, we have a few more steps:
1. Grout
2. Seal the marble & grout
3. Install the glass shower door
4. Install the shower valve and shower head

We did a few more odds & ends: mortised 3 sets of hinges into the door that will hide the electrical cupboard, finished the "floor" and "ceiling" in middle of the bookshelf area, and painted the WC ceiling where we cut holes for the spots. We have more of the same on our to-do list tomorrow as we wait for the mortar to dry.

We got two large packages today: the new foam cuhions and the fabric! I have SO much sewing to do now.

On non-renovating news, we baked sourdough bread and got lots of advice from my mom's friend, who makes it professionally. I've always bought T45 flour (all-purpose) because it's what is available at Lidl and Aldi. But I'm going to try T65 (a higher protein flour more suitable for bread) and see if it makes a difference. My mom's friend also suggested that I increase the amount of starter in my recipe.

We had quiche lorraine today (made by me), plus salad and green peas. I was going to make tiramisu for tomorrow's dessert but I ran out of time.

The kids have been practicing every day and making amazing progress. It helps to have a live-in music teacher who ensures that the kids practice every day and do everything they're supposed to! Inga has been working on a series of Spanish songs and loves to play them. They're very catchy; maybe I'll film her playing one of them. Ivy told us tonight, "I don't practice because somebody makes me or because I'll get in trouble if I don't. I practice because I like it!"
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Monday, November 15, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 328: Tiling!

7,310 steps

A week later than anticipated, we started tiling the shower. We got all the way up to where the decorative tiles will go (little marble pebbles, reminiscent of the beaches here). We back-mortared that section because the tiles are slightly thinner.

This is the first time I've used a tile leveling system and it's a game-changer. Wow. I would never tile again without it.

We had strong winds and pouring rain today. The parks and beaches were closed due to the weather!

I made purple risotto today, and my mom cooked flat beats (long, flat, and about a foot long) plus apple crumble. Yum.
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Sunday, November 14, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 327: Rest, beach, eat

2,503 steps

I took it easy this morning, physically, becuase I was feeling a bit icky. Since I had benched myself, I decided to get more breech-related work done on the computer.

We had a relaxing afternoon. Ivy went to a birthday party. Zari, Dio, and Inga read books and did origami and worked on homework. The adults went to the beach to read and bask in the sun. It was quite blustery out, and little dust tornados would occasionally blow in our faces. The sun was mostly out, but big menacing clouds were piling up in the hills behind Nice. I'm re-reading Dune; the last time I read it, I was probably in my 20s.

I had a breech live session during dinner. I got salmon fennel soup 3/4 prepped, but then I had to go.

We watched The Flash after dinner. Zari treats The Flash like a sports fanatic. She's always yelling at the screen and giving the characters advice.
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Saturday, November 13, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 326: Soccer and beaches and book clubs

14,982 steps

I'm healed! My mom is feeling a lot worse today, though. I brought her to the pharmacy for some decongestant and she got the full cultural experience. Here, if you want decongestant, you get the full package deal: 3 medications at once. Nope, you can't just buy decongestant! You have to buy a pill that combines Tylenol, pseuephedrine, and some sort of antihistamine. And then you also buy a saline nasal spray at the same time, highly recommended by the pharmacist.

While Eric was at a soccer match with Ivy, the rest of us went on a walk/scooter ride to Coco Beach. And Zari was NOT wanting to go. So much teenage drama and grumpiness and feet-dragging. (Was I like that? My memory is terrible so honestly I can't say.)

But once she was out the door, she had a good time. I let her and Dio head back as soon as we reached Coco Beach because she had a soccer match to get ready for. The rest of us (my parents and Inga) stayed and enjoyed the beach for a while. We had sun on the coast while the back country was overcast.

After lunch we headed to the coulee verte and met up with a German family who have the most adorable baby, almost 1 year old. Ivy and Inga love playing with her. Also: were my kids that energetic at that age? This little girl moves constantly. My mom says yes but again I just can't remember the specifics!

Eric, Inga, and my dad left for Inga's soccer match. We gave the Germany family a tour of our two renovation projects. It's fun to show off the (almost) "after" alongside the "before."

I worked on my DIY birth simulator. I have now drafted a printable template, a tool/parts list, and checked the template against the real thing to be sure it was scaled appropriately. I am SO excited about this project!

Zari came back quite happy from her match, which took place in Juan-les-Pins. She scored 1 of the 2 goals, helping her team win 2-1. Inga scored 3 or her team's 7 goals, winning 7-1. Ivy's team one one, tied one, and lost 3.

Dio was the only one not at a soccer match today; he invited a friend over for the afternoon.

After dinner Eric had a book club discussion via Zoom about his most recent book French Dive. I joined in with my parents; a lot of the attendees were people I knew back when I lived in Minnesota. Fun times.

Well, I hope to get to bed a bit earlier tonight. Eric didn't get home from his soccer match last night until almost 1 am...which means I didn't get to bed until 1 am either!
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Friday, November 12, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 325: On the mend

10,391 steps

I finally feel better, rather than worse! It's a miracle! I can actually walk more than 10 steps without feeling like I'm going to fall over. Still a bit weak but improving throughout the day.

I helped my dad with several projects in the morning. We were going to tile the shower today, until we realized we were missing parts of the self-leveling kit. Time for another trip to the home improvement store.

Instead we organized our workspace and hung most of our miscellaneous hand tools on hooks or nails, rather than having them be all piled up in a constant jumble. We also planed down two doors, checked their fit, and sanded the planed edges down.

Eric had a tenure review for a colleague, so he was tied up until mid-afternoon. And then we had the *joy* of going to Leroy Merlin. My dad came along for the cultural experience. He certainly will appreciate how calm, empty, and relaxing home improvement stores are in the States, compared to here in France.

It turned into a fairly big trip: we bought wood for the bookshelves, lots of assorted hardware, wood and parts for my DIY birth simulator, doorknobs, epoxy grout. We tried to buy two big pieces of wood for the staircase, but the outdoor lumberyard was literally empty, except for a tiny handful of very damaged pieces.

It was like the zombie apocalypse had descended, but only on Aisle 11 in the wood section. So bizarre. If you were wanting to build anything out of wood or OSB, turn around and go back home. Don't even try.

I called up the sawmill that is making our web joists and asked if they had the dimensions we were looking for. Yes, they did! So they'll add it in to our order and we'll get it in a week or 2.

I was feeling well enought that, on top of braving Leroy Merlin, I prepared dinner AND walked Dio to his soccer carpool spot AND stopped by a store on the way home AND went on a walk to the beach after dinner with Ivy, Inga, and my dad. Most of the beach is rocky, but the girls found the volleyball area and played in the leftover sand. My dad loves watching the waves; he's lived in landlocked places most of his life. He often goes out on walks by himself to enjoy the ocean.

When we were walking down the stairs at the beach, three big fat rats jumped out of the trashcans and scuttled past us. It was a Ratatouille moment.
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Thursday, November 11, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 324: Sick day 4, ugh

670 steps

I am still confined to the bed or couch: low fever, achy body, and super woozy if I'm up for more than a few minutes. It's so frustrating! Whatever this thing is that's been making the rounds of the family (not Covid, if we can trust the first person's test), I have it the longest. Most everyone else is recovered.

Today was Armistice Day, a national holiday, so everyone was off of school. Eric took Inga and Dio out for a very belated birthday lunch to one of our favorite restaurants, L'Eau de Vie. I wanted to come but definitely was not well enough to walk there, let alone spread my germs.

We commemorated the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald yesterday; my mom gave the kids a history lesson and played them the hit 1976 song written about the disaster. (We are from Minnesota so this is important regional history.) https://youtu.be/9vST6hVRj2A

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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 323: Sick day 3

1,694 steps

Another day of mostly being on the couch feeling useless. On the up side, I've gotten a lot of breech-related work done.

Oh, my dad and I made a DIY Birth Simulator 1.0 today. Baby is chilling in it right now--the photo is not really anatomically accurate! It's just a rough prototype to get the angles and dimensions right.

Sim 1.0 is an adjustable stand that clamps onto a table and holds a cloth or bony pelvis. It will allow birth workers to practice by themselves without needing someone else to hold the pelvis. It can be adjusted into 3 birth positions (standing, hands & knees, and supine).

Our goal is to make it simple: as few tools as possible with parts available at any hardware store.

It's been so nice having my parents here. They have helped out with cooking (especially while I've been sick) and grocery shopping and picking kids up, not to mention renovating. Our long-term plan, once the Communist apartments are finished, is to have them come 3 months per year Jan-March (a good time to avoid Minnesota winters).

Also all friends and family are invited to come stay!
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Monday, November 08, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 321: Sick leave

9,022 steps

Whatever cold is going around the family, I definitely have it. I made it through the morning but then had to put myself in bed for the rest of the day.

I was hoping to tile the shower today. My dad and I got the shower area prepped before I had to call it quits. There's always tomorrow...

In the morning we visited two kitchen design stores (Leroy Merlin and Ikea). I liked the cupboards more at Leroy Merlin, but they had limited choice for the sizes I needed on the upper cabinets. Ikea had all the sizes I needed, but I didn't like any of the cupboard styles! What to do?

We'll also explore other options, such as custom-made cabinets at local woodworking shops, but I fear that will be far too expensive.

I rested in bed but didn't really rest--instead, I did lots of breech work that needed my attention. That counts as rest, right? (I would say "no" to anyone else who asked me!)

In the afternoon we got an estimate from a contractor to dig up the tomettes and about 15 cm of lime & packed earth from our floors. We'll go down to the tops of the original solives (cross-beams or joists) and then re-level from there. This will take off tons of weight from the floors (literally tons; I'm guessing around 4-6 tons). Then we'll make the floors level, since there is a significant sag in the center from where the big beams settled over the centuries. We should also gain about 10-15 cm of extra head room.

This contractor was from some other country--I couldn't place the accent. I'm very curious, and a bit scared, to see what it will cost. He said it would take a team of 4-5 men two days to dig it all up. We *could* do this ourselves but it would probably take us weeks. We have another person coming tomorrow to do an estimate.

My mom made homeade falafel sandwiches. Everything was homemade, from the hummus (me) to the falafel, pita bread, and various sauces (my mom). My kids were moaning with delight as they bit into their sandwiches. We are so spoiled. We eat well, but I don't usually choose time-intensive things like that. I simply can't with all that I have going on! Ivy carefully arranged all of the toppings and made the table look perfect.

Dio had two tryouts at Cavigal and, sadly, they have too many people on the team already and can't take him. Why did the coach invite him to come when he knew they were too full already? Dio is really sad because he was exicted about Cavigal and now we are back to the coach he doesn't like.
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Sunday, November 07, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 320: Zee couch

12,816 steps

I haven't taken many pictures recently. But to assuage your curiosity here are pictures of "zee couch." It also has 2 matching chairs.

The original cushions are horrendously ugly. The back cushion actually had a 2nd cushion on top that went way over my head! I'm getting rid of the back cushions entirely and ordering a ones that goe just underneath the wood back and that aren't so rounded looking.

The next picture shows the fabrics that we chose for reupholstering: dark olive green faux leather for the cushions and then 3 really fun fabrics for decorative pillows: peacock velour, apple green canvas, and striped teal velour.

Yay me--I get to reupholster a couch and 2 chairs! Yet another job on my to-do list.

Today was nice and relaxing. My mom brought Ivy and Eric geocaching. Inga, Zari, and Dio all had homework to catch up on for "la rentrée" tomorrow.

Right now 3 of the 4 kids are in bed and Zari is learning electricity from my dad. She missed the electricity unit last year when we were in the States and is feeling totally lost. But now she's catching up, thanks to having a grandpa who is an electrical engineer.
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Saturday, November 06, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 319: Sentier Littoral du Cap d'Antibes

Today's "hike" was more of a 4-mile pleasant stroll along the rocky coastline south of Antibes. It was gorgeous out and my parents loved it. A big change from Minnesota, where snow and ice predominate.

The kids were griping about going, but it was mostly due to inertia. Once we were there, they had a great time. It's always better being outdoors! I wish I didn't have to force them out the door, though.

Zari is watching Dune with three friends. I want to see it! Maybe some time this next week.
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Friday, November 05, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 318: Wrapping up another week

We are looking forward to a day off tomorrow. The forecast is gorgous: 18C and full sun. We're going hiking and exploring in the area.

So, what did we do today on Le Catamaran?
  • Installed 3 more fixed-pane windows, which involved way too much work getting the windows ready. Most of the openings were just a wee bit off square and thus needed to be planed larger in situ.
  • Planed and primed the WC door
  • Oiled the beams (1st coat) that will support the catamaran net
  • Signed the estimate and paid the deposit on the web joists
  • Ordered fabric for reupholstering a couch, 2 chairs, and 6 dining room chairs (the latter is for our own apartment, not for Le Catamaran), plus fabric for lots of decorative cushions. Total was 21 meters of fabric and 8 zippers.
  • Ordered custom foam cushions for the couch & 2 chairs

We also got Culture tonight thanks to my mom. She bought tickets to a candlelight piano concert for the whole family, featuring arrangements of famous film compositions (The Godfather; The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly; The Mission; Cinema Paradiso, La Dolce Vita, and more). Zari was gone at soccer practice so Inga got to invite a friend.
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Thursday, November 04, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 317: Nous sommes bricoleurs

8,431 steps

Joists are ordered! The first window is installed! The plumbing is (mostly) done! My parents have a working toilet!

Our four fixed-pane windows arrived last night, so we got the first one installed today. But of course we had to do last-minute painting and prepping before we were totally ready. It's amazing to finally see a window in what used to be an open void.

The toilet and shower base are installed, but the plumber needs one more part in order to install the sink. He'll be back early next week for that. But we are ready to tile the shower now.

What else? Oh, Dio did a tryout at Cavigal today because he has really been disliking his current coach (plus it's really far out of town). One of his friends from school--someone he has known since kindergarten--was on the team! Dio was a nervous wreck all day but once he actually got there, he had a good time. I hope this new team will work out, and it would be great to have all 4 kids at the same club.

While my mom and I were watching Dio, Eric went to the Café Simone to do a book reading and discussion. Inga and my dad came along. It was supposed to be in both French and English, but nearly everyone was French so Eric ended up speaking in French the whole time for their benefit.

Ivy is at a sleepover tonight and the house feels way too quiet.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 316: Like father like daughter

15,465 steps

Well, my dad and I had a great workday. First thing in the morning, Eric and I put felt pads under all of the furniture and then moved it into Le Catamaran. We have a dining table and 4 chairs, a couch and 2 matching chairs, a side table, and a bed. Next week once the floors have cured, we'll add the rug.

The plumber comes tomorrow morning, so we'll get the toilet, sink, and shower base installed.

Eric and the girls headed off to soccer, with my mom playing chauffeur mid-afternoon. My dad and I stayed home to work: we took out the big window in the front apartment that will be bisected by the mezzanine, then covered the opening with bubble wrap. Then I cut wall channels for the electricity that will be passing under/through the ledger boards.

And then FINALLY we installed the ledger boards for the mezzanine. This is a big steps because it allows us to order the web joists that will support the entire mezzanine structure.

After we got both boards attached on each end, we needed more threaded rods. We walked to the first home improvement store and they didn't have big enough ones. So we had to walk to another home improvement store in a different part of town. And it was ranining the whole time! Still it was fun to walk all around with my dad.

And OF COURSE we chose the harder path: instead of buying pre-cut rods (for 6 Euros each), we bought 1-meter lengths and cut our own (0.75 Euros each). I just couldn't handle paying 8x more for the pre-cut items. We saved at least 80 Euros becuase we needed 18 rods.

We'll cinch in the boards tomorrow morning and then send the measurements off to the sawmill (scierie) that makes Easi-Joists.
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Tuesday, November 02, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 315: Halloween round 2

11,555 steps

We had our rescheduled Halloween party this afternoon at the chateau. We had a good crowd of friends and their families. The homemade pinata was a success and took many, many rounds of beatings to break. Other games included eating cookies on a string and make-a-mummy.

In the morning I went shopping for furniture felt pads and party snacks. I stopped by the foam store but the foam specialist wasn't in.

The floors in Le Catamaran are dry and absolutely gorgeous. We walked around in our socks to enjoy our handiwork.
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