Friday, December 31, 2021

French apartment renovations, Days 373-374: The end of the year...

1,116 steps

Well that was fun. I'm mostly back to normal now, just a bit weak. I was in bed last night and just about to turn the lights off, when I realized I hadn't written in my journal. I shrugged and went to sleep.

I was able to help Eric cut the shelves for the bottom bookshelf. I had lots of end-of-year breech work (mostly financial, to get all of the accounts balanced) as well as writing a "2021 In Review" for Breech Without Borders.

Once Ivy and Inga went to bed, we spent a while looking at old photos with Zari and Dio. I think we're going to do more of that tomorrow with our photos and videos. I also want to take a family picture with us all lined up in a row. It's been way too long since the last one.

I'm going through my phone and finding a lot of random things on it from the past several days. Enjoy!
- a drawing by Inga
- Iny winning a tropy at her soccer camp last week
- our afternoon at the beach yesterday 
- trying to weigh Zari's hair...a bit tricky since it's attached to her head
- the kids using features on my new phone to look like The Flash

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 372: Still sick

Well, I am down around 4 kg (8 lbs) from 3 days of a) hardly eating and b) GI issues. Not fun. I still have no appetite but forced myself to eat a little bit. Still feel nauseated all the time.

And to add to the fun, I went to bed last night and was wide awake until about 6 am. For no reason I can figure out. I didn't nap at all yesterday either.

Ok, enough complianing. I know it's not interesting to anyone else but "it's my party, and I'll cry if I want to" is running through my head.

Everyone had soccer practice today and I managed to drop Zari and Inga off and bring Ivy home. That and some light housework tapped me out.

We were hoping to go skiing tomorrow but with rapidly warming temperatures this week, it looks like the overnight low at the top of the mountain will be 7 or 8 C, and the high tomorrow at the base will be 14! So we're still waiting to decide. I won't be going short of a miracle but Eric might take the kids for a half-day.

I'm more of the mind to wait until the conditions are better. It's still along drive and money to factor in, just to ski in slush.

Ivy's journal has been missing for several days now. We're not exactly sure how many but some time around Christmas we couldn't find it. We've been turning the house inside-out trying to find it. Ivy has been crying because it has over a year of her entries and it was a leather journal that I hand-made years ago. We've run out of places to look and I'm not sure what else to do.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Catamaran net installation

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French apartment renovations, Days 370-371: Sick

712 steps

Ugh, I've been super sick for the last 48 hours. So much that I could barely move yesterday. After about 16 visits to the porcelain throne, my GI bug settled down but I still am feeling nauseated and feverish and weak.

Anyway that's it for updates.
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Sunday, December 26, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 369: Walks and runs (not the good kind)

~16k steps

Zari wasn't feeling well this morning and spent most of the day on the couch. Headache, fever, chills, body ache. Then this evening something hit me hard and fast and now I have the runs (the GI type, yay).

But before that I was feeling great. I walked to/from Cimiez as usual. Inga walked home with me and slid down every possible railing. 

After lunch I brought Ivy and her friend rollerblading. Ivy had been begging for rollerblades, so it was an easy choice for her Christmas present. I approve of gifts that are useful and get kids outdoors!

I'm currently encoding our catamaran net installation video. I'll probably have it ready tomorrow...but in the meantime here are a few pictures of Le Catamaran in its (almost) finished state. I am not showing the kitchen since it's not done.

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Saturday, December 25, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 368: Christmas!

It's been a wonderful happy lazy day (except for the hours spent cooking brunch and dinner). The kids were all thrilled with their presents. I like having the siblings buy presents for each other. They come up with some good ideas!

I didn't even take any pictures today. Just spent time with the family, ate delicious food, and did some video editing (mostly while sitting at the table with Ivy and Inga as they put together laser-cut wood constructions).

This year's Beef Wellington was even better than last year's, Eric declared. I upgraded the mushroom duxelle and made a new sauce. The brown butter & creme fraiche mashed potatoes were amazing even by themselves. Usually potatoes are just a bland vehicle for the sauce. But not these ones.

Each child got a box of 16 Ferrero Rochers. Dio announced that he had eaten FIFTEEN today. "It averages out to one every 45 minutes," he told me. As if that was a good thing?!
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Friday, December 24, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 367: Naked oyster boyfriends

We had a delicious seafood dinner: langoustines, giant shrimp, smoked salmon with capers, and oysters. Last time we had oysters (2 years ago in Chamonix), Zari couldn't eat them and still has memories of gagging on them. But she wanted to try again.

And somehow over the course of dinner, this evolved into a joke about "naked oyster boyfriends." Much hilarity ensued over something that was so nonsensical I couldn't explain how it came to be in the first place.

Eric is wrapping the last present. The house is reasonably clean. The chairs are draped with several wet sheets because one of our laundry lines snapped this evening. Fortunately the clothespins held everything in place. I hauled all of the clothes up and decided that tomorrow is clothesline replacement day.

Dio, Eric, and I went to the big Carrefour at lunchtime to buy things for dinner. I don't remember the last time the two of us were together with just Dio. With 4 kids, that doesn't happen often.

I went out the door first thing in the morning, hoping I could beat the lines at the butcher shop. Nope! I still had to wait in line for 30 minutes. But I came home with a "filet de boeuf" and many Euros lighter. It's worth it, though, to make a delicious Beef Wellington.

Eric drove our friends to the airport this morning. Maybe this will motivate us to visit La Réunion some day? I can't imagine moving that far overseas, and then back again just a year later.
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Thursday, December 23, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 366: Après-midi bricolage

10,158 steps

I braved the grocery stores this morning to buy food for Christmas, all except the butcher. The lines were outrageously long so I'll try first thing tomorrow morning as early as I can.

I prepped the mushroom duxelle (morelles, ceps, & button mushrooms) and a "Grand Veneur" sauce today. Tomorrow I will sear the beef filet, make the crepes, and assemble the whole thing (beef / mustard / duxelles / crepes) except for the puff pastry.

Eric went spearfishing but saw hardly any fish. He came home with just a few sea urchins, which we'll eat tomorrow.

The dad of the family staying in Le Catamaran is a big DIYer, and he offered to help with any renovation projects today. So after lunch we installed all of the base cabinets in the kitchen. Maybe Eric and I will do the upper cabinets tomorrow.

Ivy and her friend went out with her family for one last tour de Nice, including a stop at the Christmas village to jump on the big bungee trampolines. Then we had a pizza dinner with 6 kinds of pizza: Turkish, Norwegian, seafood, Reine, Alsacian, & vegetarian.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 365: 1 year of renovating and no work today

I did something I haven't done for a long time: took an entire day off of renovating. I read a book in the morning and did some breech work in the afternoon.

We're 1 year into our renovation project. I'm not sure if we're ahead or behind schedule at this point. Our goal was to finish both apartments before July. I suspect the 2nd apartment won't be entirely done by then. But all we can do is keep going.

We finished our Christmas shopping with a combination of local purchases and online orders. Now I need to start thinking about Christmas breakfast (probably homemade waffles) and dinner (Beef Wellington). Eric will do Christmas Eve dinner (seafood).

We have one more day with our friends before they leave on Friday morning. We've been eating lunch and dinner together up here. It's nice to have people to share meals with. Tonight they cooked: quiche, tomato tart, and apple crumble. I steamed some green beans because our family always eats so much.

By the way, the tomato tart was amazing and so simple. He made a quick olive oil crust but any savory crust will do. Spread a generous amount of Dijon mustard ("fine et forte," if possible), then a generous amount of Emmental or Gruyere, then a layer of sliced tomatoes with salt, pepper, & thyme. That's it! Bake until golden brown.

I'm working on our catamaran net video. So far I've cut over 2.5 hours of footage to less than 9 minutes. Whew.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 364: It's beginning to feel a little like Christmas

For me, the Christmas season feels real when I make Lebkuchen, a German spice cookie that my German grandmother always made and that we made growing up. I mixed up a batch last night and this afternoon the kids helped roll out, bake, and decorate the entire batch. No small feat given how big the recipe is!

We've put off Christmas shopping until this week and are now trying to catch up. We're giving each child one gift & one stocking stuffer, more or less. Then we give each child some money to buy presents for their 3 siblings.

I went to one of the flea market thrift stores and found a lamp made out of sea glass and wire. Perfect for the bedside table in Le Catamaran! (And I know, you haven't even seen the bed yet...or the curtains...or the finished staircase...I'll take pictures as soon as our guests are gone.)

After dinner, Ivy went to see a movie with her friend who is staying in Le Catamaran and her older sister (Zari's age). She might be a bit tired tomorrow morning.

I made French onion soup for dinner for us & our guests. It took me at least 6 hours since I was slow caramelizing the onions in the oven. They needed to be stirred every half-hour. After dinner, I was beat. So I did something that felt way too transgressive: I went into bed and read a book for the rest of the evening!
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Monday, December 20, 2021

French apartment renovations, Days 362 & 363: Getting ready for guests

So many steps...

No, I wasn't in Facebook jail yesterday. But I was up late helping Zari finish a big assignment, and then I decided to spend time with Eric instead of writing in my journal. Priorities. 

Yesterday I worked on Le Catamaran, getting it ready for our friends who are staying for a few days before moving to La Réunion. So many little things left to do. My short-term memory is so bad that I can't exactly recall much of yesterday! 

Today was much of the same, mostly dedicated to getting curtain rods installed and the last few curtains sewn. Our friends dropped off their suitcases in the morning and then came back late afternoon. Ivy and Inga disappeared and, surprise, they were in Le Catamaran playing with their younger daughter, who is one of Ivy's best friends. 

I went to two Lidl stores hoping to buy a vacuum that came to stores today. Despite going first thing in the morning, they had none left in either store! 

We ate dinner together (since there is no kitchen in Le Catamaran): she made a delicious dish with authentic smoked Réunionnaise sausages (shipped by her mom). I made rice to go with it. While we were chatting after dinner, I mixed a batch of Lebkuchen. We'll bake it tomorrow or Wednesday. 

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 361: Slave labor, 1800 kg, & a party

21,984 steps

We left first thing this morning to pick up supplies for leveling the floor (Fermacell dry leveling system, called a "chape sèche"). The store had enough of the fiber cement boards, but not nearly enough bags of granules. We bought everything they had and will do as much as we can and I guess wait for the rest (which won't be here until some time in January).

This was way too much for our own car to hold. Remember way back when I bought the cement mixer from a random guy and got into his delivery van? His name is Yann and he looks a lot like Daniel Craig. Well anyway he gave me his card and said to call if we ever need things delivered. So I called him up this week and he said he'd do it for 50 Euros. He met us there and we loaded up the bulk of the supplies into his van. We put 10 bags (350 kg) of sand into our own car.

The fun part started when we had to first unload everything from his van into the hallway of the apartment building. We called all the kids down and got it unloaded as quickly as possible to avoid blocking traffic and taking too much of Yann's time. Then we had to carry all 1800 kg of materials up 2 flights of stairs.

The kids were chipper at first and then lost motivation midway through. "This is the first day of vacation! It's like we're your slaves!" Dio helped with one board and declared he was done. I declared that no one was done until it was all done. "We're a family and we're all working together."

We had everything upstairs by 1:45 pm. I vacuumed the entire staircase & entry hall and then had to run off to look at a mirror. It was a half-hour walk away and I did it in just over 20 minutes. I can walk fast :)

The mirror was amazing--the perfect thing to put above the bathroom sink in Le Catamaran. Excatly the right size and shape with amazing Art Deco detailing, and only 10 Euros.

While I was gone, Ivy went to a friend's house and Dio and Eric went off to his soccer game. I came home, dropped off the mirror, and went out again with Inga to do some Christmas shopping. We didn't buy any presents but at least we got some good ideas. We went to the big shopping mall in central Nice, called Nice Etoile, and I insisted that we ride the glass elevators while we were there. Inga talked me into buying us a pain au chocolat to share.

Then, soon after we got home, Eric and Dio came back from teh soccer game and we left immediately to go to a Christmas party at our church. They had presents, games, and a movie for the kids and game tables set up for adults. I was already feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from our busy day and after a while I had to escape to a quiet place. Introvert life. My sciatic nerve is also bothering me and after a while I was desperate to just go home and not be sitting or standing.

Oh, when Inga and I were walking home, we saw a marching drum squad dressed like Santa and his elves.

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Friday, December 17, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 360: Lime day & vacation!

We are getting very close to 365 days of renovations. Still not done with the first apartment! But at least we're close. 

I worked all day patching up the floor with lime mortar. Most of the floors have a layer of lime mortar about 1-2" thick on top of (and inbetween) the floor joists. But in a few areas, that layer of lime was crumbling or removed entirely during the big floor removal. To give the floors a bit more stability before we put the dry leveling system on, I'm patching all of those areas with lime. I worked until I ran out of ingredients (3 cement mixers full). I still have lots more areas to do but that will have to wait until we buy supplies. 

Later in the afternoon, Eric came down to help. We started cleaning up Le Catamaran and getting little finishing things done: curtain rods & curtains, toilet paper holder, shelf brackets. We need to enlist the kids to wash & dust all of the walls and floors. Ivy helped me put up the first set of shelf supports in the lower bookshelf area.

Zari is stressing about choosing her 3 areas of specialty. She has to choose fairly soon. 

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 359: 2/3 cm per meter

9,324 steps

The main floor area of our front apartment will slope at a rate of 2/3 centimeter per meter. I spent most of the day mortaring in metal rails at that exact slope to make a guide edge. And then I realized that the last rail was only 1/3 cm per meter so I had to rip it out. Gah. 

We have guests coming to stay on Monday (they're moving back to La Reunion and need a place to stay for 4 days once they leave their apartment). We won't have the kitchen in, but we're trying to get everything else done. Today's focus was curtians & curtain rods. We're mostly done. We need to do a deep cleaning and devise some sort of curtain for the shower since it's a family and the parents might not want to shower naked in front of the kids :) 

Dio's Spanish teacher announced a huge homework project & test for tomorrow. He was supposed to put the assignment up at 6 pm. It was big enough that Dio cancelled his soccer training so he could get it done. And then we waited...and waited...the teacher never posted it! Finally at 9:30 pm, Dio gave up and went to bed. 

Time for bed. One more day of school before Christmas break! 

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 358: A dusty day

8,123 steps

I had a solitary work day while Eric was busy with soccer nearly the entire day. Most of my day was spent moving the laser level to various heights to figure out how we're actually going to make a flat floor out of something that now looks like a series of hills and valleys. 

Over the 7.5 meters that the room spans lengthwise, we're going to put a gradual slope of 5 cm total. This will allows us to keep from having to build a step up into the apartment (all due to two high spots near the front windows). Then we'll have a step down into the kitchen area. 

Most of my day was spent shaving off high spots verrrrrry carefully. Sometimes I used just a hammer & chisel if the lime was soft enough; other times I had to score the lime multple directions with the rainureuse and then chisel it away one square at a time. 

I also wired 6 temporary work lights onto the ceilings. It's amazing to have good lighting! Why didn't I do this in the back apartment? 

Inga's ankle started hurting yesterday, and she's been hobbling on it all day. She tried to play during practice but had to stop after a few scrimmages. Then Ivy started complaining about her thigh hurting this evening. So now we've got two girls limping and hobbling dramatically.

We got Zari an appointment with a kinesiologist (a speciality that's a cross between massage therapy and physical therapy and a dash of chiropractic). He says it just feels like muscle tension. He gave Zari a series of stretches to do every day and told her to check back in after Christmas vacation. His daughter used to be one of Dio's closest friends about 3-4 years ago. And he didn't even charge us for this first visit! 

I'm still in Facebook jail. Yay?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 357: Grownup toys

10,309 steps

We picked up the first part of our kitchen order, which was mainly the flat-pack cupboards and the dishwasher. We had fun assembling them. I'm not super impressed with the quality, but nearly everything is made out of chipboard & melamine these days. Oh well. We even went to a local carpenter and cabinetmaker, and even he makes pretty much all custom kitchens out of chipboard covered in melamine (at least the frames & bases). 

I tell you, this makes me want to make my own cupboards out of better quality materials. But that's one thing I'll have to give up for now. At least our door & drawer fronts are real wood. 

Dio and I tightened the net ropes again. There isn't much room left to tighten; the net is very close to the anchors after this last tightening. I hope we can keep it taut enough! 

I made a batch of fire cider tonight. Who knows if the health claims are accurate, but it looks delicious! I've got to wait a month for it to be ready. 

I'm going to get working on the front apartment floors tomorrow. First thing: building & anchoring the frame for the step down into the kitchen area. Then reinforcing some of the weaker areas. Then anchoring the perimeter frames where we need to pour a bit of self-leveling cement. If I can get that all done by Friday, we'll be in good shape. 

Dinner was salad, then duck breast with shallots, balsamic, & honey. 

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Monday, December 13, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 356: Floors, appliances

10,967 steps

Eric had some (academic) work to do, so I mostly puttered around by myself in the front apartment. It's going to be very interesting getting these floors level and flat. There is a 17 cm difference from the highest spots to the lowest dip! Because the lowest area is in the kitchen, we're going to make a step down in the kitchen area, keeping more overhead room in at least that part under the mezzanine. I think with the right finishing details it could look really cool. 

I patched up some of the holes in the floor with MAP, then put MAP around the bottoms of the walls where there were cracks. That took most of the day. 

Tomorrow we pick up part 1 of our kitchen--most of the cabinets minus the doors & drawer fronts. 

After dinner, I went to Darty and bought all of our kitchen appliances: fridge, induction cooktop, oven, 2-in-1 washer/dryer, and range hood. We already bought the dishwasher when we ordered the kitchen. 

Zari is working on a report about Tempete Alex, a huge storm in October 2020 that destroyed many villages in the mountains behind Nice. Some areas got as much as 22" (571 mm) of rain in 24 hours. 

I helped Dio learn the song Ameno for his music class. He was okay on the normal verses but the rhythms in the chorus kept tripping him up. 

Oh, and I am banned from Facebook again for uploading a birth video. I haven't found any way to appeal it, and I requested a review but they never reviewed it. So now I look like a creepy serial offender posting "nudity/sexual content". Ironically, I invited someone whose FB page is dedicated to birth videos to post the video in question, and she was able to put it up with no problems. 

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Sunday, December 12, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 355: Sunny Sunday

17,279 steps

I finished the last dining chair upholstery! By the 3rd one, I was getting quite good at hammering in the upholstery tacks straight and evenly spaced. Not sure when I'll do this again...but now I have all the tools! (Hmm, a key theme in my life right now.)

Besides my usual walk to/from Cimiez, Eric and I also took a walk with Ivy in the afternoon along the Promenade des Anglais. Of course we ran into several sets of friends because that's life in Old Nice.

Inga went rollerblading with a friend. Zari and Dio couldn't be convinced to go outside. It was gorgeous and sunny.

Now that she has a new journal, Zari has been writing pages and pages to catch up for the several days she missed. I'm glad she likes writing so much, but sometimes I want to make her put it down and go to bed.

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Saturday, December 11, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 354: Supercharged Saturday

6,015 steps

Let's not repeat today. Way too busy. All 4 kids had soccer games today in various cities around the region. Eric had to bring them all to their games and watch (that's the fun part for him).

I would have helped out, but I was playing my violin at a nursing home and I was gone from lunch until after dinner. I still don't know how Eric managed to get everyone in the right place at the right time.

I came home from playing violin and had a breech live session 10 minutes later! By time I got done, it was bedtime for Ivy and Inga.

In the morning, I brought Zari to buy a new journal. She had the hardest time deciding, but when I said, "Okay, how about I choose for you?" she didn't like that either! She finally settled on a plain turquoise hardcover.

Our downstairs neighbors messaged me this morning that there were problems in their ceiling. I was thinking, "Oh no! We've caused parts of their ceiling to come loose!" but it wasn't quite so bad. I went down to see what was happening: some of the corner drywall tape had detached.

I called the contractor who took up our floors, and he said it was likely due to the 4 tons of weight being taken off the load-bearing beams, causing them to flex upwards slightly. That makes sense, since the areas where it happened were places that had been mostly undisturbed. Still, you never want to hear that you have caused issues to your downstairs neighbors! Too much stress.

Anyway the contractor recommended waiting to repair the tape until we've put all of our subfloors on, since we're adding some weight back (although very little in comparison to what we took off). So we'll have a bit more of expenses but hopefully no more unpleasant surprises.
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Friday, December 10, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 353: Floors and covers

8,118 steps

Our floors in the front apartment are all dug up. It looks way worse than before, but that's life with home renovations over here. Too busy for pictures or videos.

I ended up doing tons of sewing today. The bed in Le Catamaran needed a comforter and duvet cover. I had one of each, but they were both too big and both different sizes. So I decided to customize both to fit the bed exactly. This necessitated a trip to the fabric store since I was out of several colors of thread and velcro.

I rescued the duvet cover from the garbage several months ago (people often leave things there to give away). It turned out to be 100% linen in a color that matches the lime mortar exactly. And I had enough left over after resizing the duvet cover to make 4 pillowcases!

I also put 2 coats of finish on the staircase treads. I was going to do the final coat this evening but it was too busy with all of the other things going on. I'll do that in the morning and then the staircase will be useable starting on Sunday.

Dio and Zari both had evening soccer practices, and Eric is gone to a late night soccer match.
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Thursday, December 09, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 352: Playing violin in luxury villas

12,093 steps

Being a musician opens doors--figurative and literal--to worlds I would otherwise never have access to. This afternoon I had a rehearsal with 3 other musicians in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. One of the violinists is a housekeeper/property manager for a luxury villa.

The family has houses all over the world, and they haven't been to this one since the summer. They thought it was great that their housekeeper wanted to rehearse there: "You're welcome to bring a whole orchestra!" they told her.

This was an ultra-modern house that felt more like a modern art museum than someone's home. All raw concrete and steel and huge sliding walls that could open huge parts of the house to the exterior.

So for two hours we played a mix of Christmas music and crowd-pleasers. (It's for a nursing home...need to make it fun!)

Other news: we ordered our kitchen this morning: cabinets, counterop, & dishwasher. The other appliances we need to buy separately.

The floor is all dug up and 3/4 of the rubble is gone. They'll finish up tomorrow morning and then we have the pleasure of figuring out how to make the floor flat again. We're both feeling back to normal again after the booster shots.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 351: Goodbyes & immune responses

My parents left this morning...but not before helping with one final thing: moving the bed up onto the mezzanine. Wow, the furniture is finally all in place!

Both Eric and I have been feeling progressively worse today (post-Moderna booster shot). I've been wrapped up on the couch with a hot water bottle since this afternoon. For me, this is similar to when I got the Pfizer shots.
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Floor plans!

Some of you have asked to see the floor plans of Le Catamaran and the other apartment (called "The Front Apartment" for now until we find a better name for it). So here you go!

Obviously we still have to install the kitchen in Le Catamaran.

There's an open-air staircase in the middle of the building. The two entry doors are on either side of the landing.

The Front Apartment has 2 big windows that look over our street.

Le Catamaran's windows all open into the staircase. The tiny window in the kitchen opens another small open-air courtyard that is part of the adjoining building. Not much light but at least some ventilation.
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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 350: Last day--stairs & excavations

12,662 steps

We got the staircase installed this morning--yay! This evening we removed all of the tape, rope, & weights. Then we countersunk the screw holes and attached everything with heavy-duty screws.

The two side beams and the undersides of the steps are already finished, but the tops of each step are still raw wood. So we have to sand and finish those, as well as the plugs covering the screw holes. But it's nearly done!

While we were working, a 2-man team started excavating in the front apartment. They removed the old tomette floors, as well as 15+ cm of earth and lime. They estimate they will pull up 4 metric tons of rubble. Then we begin the laborious process of leveling the floors, or at least making them flat if not perfectly level. There's a 10-15 cm difference between the center and the periphery of the room.

By the end of the day they had 75% of the floors removed and bagged. We'll go with them tomorrow to the dechetterie (dump) since it will go onto our account.

After dinner we took a walk to the Christmas market in the Place Massena. It's a market-carnival-street food event. We went just to look but Inga and Ivy were begging to go on the rides. So we had grumpy children on the way home since we didn't have our wallets with us.

My parents leave tomorrow morning. We will go through grandparent withdrawal.
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Monday, December 06, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 349: Burning the (almost) midnight oil

7,792 steps

Wow, with only 1 more full day left, my parents have been pushing to finish the projects we started. My mom finished upholstering the chair seats and moved on to the chair backs. One is done, one is in progress, 4 more to go. Inga helped my mom put on the upholstery tacks. 

And my dad and I powered through the staircase project. He built a template for the router, which we tested on a scrap of wood (perfect!). Then we routed all of the channels for the treads to fit into, 9 on each side. We had to re-build the template for the other side since it couldn't just flip over. Eric then worked on sanding all of the treads and the two boards.

Because we have people coming tomorrow morning to dig up the old tiles and about 15 cm of lime and earth, we wanted to get all of the coats of finish on. And we did it! We sanded, raised the grain, sanded, primer, sanded, 1st coat, sanded, 2nd 10:30 pm.

Eric made salmon caper quiche and quiche lorraine tonight, plus green beans.

I think that's all the news for the day. Oh, our German friends with the uber cute baby stopped by and got to try out the catamaran net. Baby approved! 

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Sunday, December 05, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 348: Sunbathing for lunch

13,594 steps

We had a potluck picnic lunch at the beach for a family who's moving back to La Réunion. The sun was out, which means the sunbathers were also out en masse. It was warm enough, especially being sheltered against a tall rock wall, that I stripped down to my tank top. Ahhhhh. 14 C / 57 F never felt so good.

I sewed the two back cushions for the chairs, so now I have just one more cushion to sew: the back of the couch. It's cut out and ready to put together tomorrow. The couch and chairs look amazing! I need to take a picture with all of the decorative pillows in place.

A picture after Inga's soccer tournament yesterday.

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Saturday, December 04, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 347: Head wounds and hard work

Too much excitement today! My dad and I were building the staircase for Le Catamaran, and we had the two side planks cut to size and in place. We were lining them up with the laser level when one of them fell and hit my dad on the head. These are heavy pieces of wood, 5 cm thick, 15 cm wide, and almost 3 m long. Luckily the edge of the board just brushed his head, breaking the top layer of skin but not really hitting him full-on.

But it was a head wound, so it bled prolifically for the first 5 minutes. I ran and got him a few washclothes to press on his head. He was pretty cheerful about it, joking to Ivy and Inga: "Look, I have red hair now!" I called the Medecin de Garde (on-call doctors who will come to your house) but they don't do stitches at home. So then I got on the phone with the French equivalent of 911, because you can ask to speak to the on-call doctor.

By that point he had washed his head off and I had a better look at the cut. It was about 2" long but the skin was not separated at all. It was just a really long, deep scratch. We got confirmation from the doctor that if it wasn't "profond" (deep) and if he hadn't fallen or lost consciousness (he hadn't), then we should disinfect and let it heal on its own. 

My dad said, "It's too bad I don't have my first aid kit with me. I have a do-it-yourself staple kit in there. You could just staple me up." He was serious. He totally would do that on himself. 

Head wounds aside, it was a great day. Really busy because my parents leave in just a few days and they're trying to get as much done as possible. My mom finished reupholstering all 6 chair seats and is now working on the chair backs. I sewed 8 decorative pillows for the couch and chairs in Le Catamaran. I also made a pattern for the back cushions and cut the first one out. Inga had a soccer match in the afternoon and did very well, scoring several goals. 

A friend came by to pick up 7 full sheets of insulated drywall, several large scraps, and piles of wood. We're getting ready for the big floor demolition on Tuesday. 

I helped my dad cut the stair treads, using leftover merbau wood flooring. We ripped off the outside tongue and groove and then he rounded over the front edge. We'll put two pieces of flooring together to make an 18 cm wide tread.

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Friday, December 03, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 346: Nets and stairs

We got our big planer out again to smooth the sipo wood we bought yesterday. We flipped the blades over to the other side: good as new! The wood is gorgeous and should go well with the merbau we're using for the treads. 

We got the boards measured and cut an old floorboard to the correct angles, to check before cutting the real boards. And then...our circular saw gave up. Huge clouds of smoke, blade not cutting. We couldn't change the blade despite doing everything recommended and some things not recommended.

A friend came to the rescue with his own circular saw. We have one board cut and the other to do tomorrow. 

Oh, and we also got the first two boat lights up on the ceiling. Pictures later as I forgot to take them today. 

But the most fun thing, for the kids, was the net. We laced up the 2nd set of ropes. It's done, except for needing occasional tightening. Ivy had friends over after school; they did homework and drawings on the net. Inga read up there for a while too.

Other news: my mom reupholstered 4 of 6 chair seats. I cut out fabric for the decorative cushions.  

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Thursday, December 02, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 345: The net!

 4,405 steps

Lots going on today...but the most exciting thing, by far, was putting up the catamaran net! We fastened all of the "pontets" this morning and laced the net in place after school. We still have to add the second set of lacing tomorrow. The kids all helped stretch the net out, which you will see in the video.

This is just a little sneak preview because we are going to make a fabulous video of the entire net installation.

Eric and I had an adventure this afternoon. We needed two long thick pieces of wood to build the staircase. The biggest home improvement store, Leroy Merlin, didn't have anything. We got recommendations for two lumber yards. After visiting both, we decided on rough-sawn sipo, an exotic hardwood that looks a lot like the merbau we used for the floors. We will have to plane and sand the boards, but that's a small thing compared to the beams that we sliced, diced, and planed already. 

Oh, when I picked Ivy up from soccer practice yesterday, guess who was featured on the poster for winter soccer camp? Inga!!

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 344: Too much homework

6,302 steps

Busy day, Zari and Dio are up way past their bedtime doing homework (it's almost 11 pm!). I am so tired that I need them to leave so I can relax.

My dad and I got all of the holes marked for the catamaran net supports. They are installed every 15 cm (6") with two holes per support. Lots of holes! Tomorrow we'll drill the pilot holes, attach the supports, and then FINALLY put up the net. The kids really want to help, so we'll try to get everything ready by time they are back from school.

It's been cold (for Nice). Time for warm coats and gloves.
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