Thursday, June 30, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 554: Windows into the sea

We now have an underwater observation station in Le Catamaran. I have one porthole more to install--the great big huge bronze one. That will go in the living room.

I ran errands in the morning and had a rehearsal mid-afternoon for a wedding this Saturday. One of my affected fingertips is my first finger on my violin hand. I didn't realize how bad it was until I tried playing. As soon as the raw, open spot hit the string, my hand involuntarily flinched backwards and I yelped out loud.

I managed to make it through the rehearsal with a combination of shifting all over the place to avoid using my first finger (nearly impossible) and by flattening my finger to avoid the sore spot. This only worked some of the time.

Afterwards I talked with the woman in charge and she told me that she could find a replacement if needed. I took her up on the offer because I don't think my finger will be healed in two days.

Such a tiny little wound with huge consequences!

I also got my IUD replaced today. Yay and ugh. At least I don't have to think about it for another 7+ years...I went 9 years with my last Mirena after consulting with a few OBs about the evidence on how long I could reasonably go past the officially approved 5 years. And then I stretched that a bit further because of Covid and, you know, life.

Today just wore me out, and that was without doing any renovating except to hang up the portholes.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 552: More lime and sore fingers

7,155 steps

At the end of the day, I had several fingertips that had rubbed raw, despite wearing thick waterproof gloves. Ouch!

We're now 75% done with the mortar. You can see the new mortar from today, which is much darker. Yesterday's mortar has already lightened significantly. One more day of lime and then on to the next project!

That was my day until 6 pm. Inga is at a sleepover and no one has school tomorrow. So the kids get to help out. Despite their groaning, I think they will be good sports. I'll likely set them to work painting.
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Monday, June 27, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 551: Je fais la chaux quant il fait chaud

8,383 steps

My title is a little play on words ("I'm working with lime when it's hot.") It doesn't work in English but in French "fais" sounds identical to "fait", as do "chaux" and "chaud."

Anyway...this means it was time to do the lime mortar on the stone wall. It's a job that, once started, has to be finished. You can't just stop and say, "Eh, I'll stop for today and do the rest tomorrow." You've got to finish the entire batch of mortar and then came back and brush all the joints once it has started to firm but it not completely hardened.

The mortar will lighten significantly as it dries over the next few days and will end up a nice cream color (the same as the rock wall in Le Catamaran).

I mixed a big batch and got started. Zari helped by scooping up all the mortar that fell on the ground and putting it back into my bucket. In between that, she sat on a folding chair and read a book.

Eric took over at 1:30 pm when I had to get ready for a meeting. By time I was done, he was just about finished applying the mortar. And it was just ready for the brushing, which I did both afternoon & evening.

We've got two more full days of lime and then the stone wall will be done!

I took Ivy and a friend to the beach after school, but the sea was infested by jellyfish. Eric was spearfishing and said the jellyfish were everywhere--he wouldn't have dared go in the water without a wetsuit. I was SO dusty and sweaty and was very sad that I couldn't cool off in the sea. We went to the miroir d'eau (splash pad). I got wet, but not very cool as the water was warm.

Dinner was Asian stir-fry and lasagna. Then I went back downstairs to finish the brushing.

Dio's last day of school is tomorrow. Soccer practice is done for the season, meaning Wednesday will be totally free. I think we will put the kids to work!
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Sunday, June 26, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 550: Windy Sunday

12,508 steps

Sun and strong wind all day. Even though the temperatures were hot, it didn't feel uncomfortable because the wind kept our apartment well-ventilated.

Our guest walked with me and Ivy this morning up to Cimiez. He walked the entire Camino de Santiago this spring as part of a semester abroad.

Inga went to a birthday party, first at the chateau and then at the beach. Her group of friend met up with us at the beach. The water was clear and free of currents, so all of the waves were due entirely to the wind. Ivy played on a bodyboard lent to us by a nearby cafe owner. Most of her efforts involved trying to stand up on it and falling off.

I'm still waking up very early. It's a summer affliction. It would be less problematic if I could go to bed earlier.
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Saturday, June 25, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 549: Packing and deep cleaning

5,014 steps

Eric, Inga, and Ivy were gone on a marathon soccer day. I brought Inga to her soccer club early this morning; we had to leave by 7:05 am. Eric left with Ivy soon after I got back, and then after Ivy's game they drove over to Inga's tournament. They got back around 7 pm!

I roped Zari and Dio into helping me pack and clean the attic. We got all of the kids' toys and treasure boxes packed away and much of the room deep cleaned. We also put another 10 or so bags of winter clothes and craft supplies away in the attic storage room.

I also worked on cleaning the books and bookshelves in our living room. We've gone almost 20 months without a deep clean and it shows! Normally we're leaving every half-year so our entire apartment gets scrubbed top to bottom whenever we go.

Today we had "ukulele lady" serenading us. She plays at the Irish pub on the corner every summer. I know most of her sets at this point.

Dio went to a skatepark with his friend all afternoon. It's fun to be able to send him off and give him some autonomy. I asked him how it was to be independent: "Okay" in his usual monotone.

I took a quick swim late this afternoon. I couldn't convince Zari to come--she was stressing about a project she has to get done.

Dinner was Thai yellow curry with chicken, 3 kinds of bell peppers, mushrooms, potatoes over basmati rice. Yum.

Eric went for a treasure hunting swim after he got back. He came home with two pairs of men's underwear and 30 Euros. Not bad. He was shivering uncontrollably and even after a hot shower couldn't get warm. Inga and Ivy got him snuggled under a huge pile of blankets and pillows.

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Friday, June 24, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 548: Street sounds

I had a brief afternoon pause and noticed all of the interesting sounds coming into our apartment:
- cello player practicing somewhere on our street
- Eric sanding downstairs
- people talking as they walk past or sit in a nearby cafe
- airplane flying overhead, on its way to land in the airport

I love how this captures life here so well. Notice the lack of any car noises!

I got the sanding done this morning and then started on touching up little holes and dents. When I went back in the afternoon, I had entirely lost my motivation and stood there for a while, feeling overwhelmed. There's still so much to do and not very much time left until we leave.

Zari is officially getting her braces off next week. Just in time. She'll have a retainer for the next year or so.

I took Ivy and her friend to the beach after school, but the waves were way too big. Parts of the beach were marked "drapeau rouge" (red flag), which means you aren't supposed to swim. So as an alternative, we went to the splash pad. I got wet since I already had my swimming suit on.
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Thursday, June 23, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 547: Lungs, olympics, jellyfish

11,977 steps

I brought Zari to an appointment with a pulmonologist. I expected it would be in a private office (very common here in France), but the doctor was housed in a hospital. Lucky for us, since she had all the equipment to test Zari's lung functions.

Zari went into an airtight glass cabinet and breathed into a special device, first fast and shallow and then long and deep.

Good news: she's perfectly healthy with perfect lung fuction. Based on her symptoms, the doctor agreed that her issue is likely exercise-induced bronchospasms and prescribed an inhaler to be used prior to intense exercise.

The doctor said, "I wish all of my patients were like you. I would make my job so much easier."

I asked, "So has Covid changed the things you see in your practice?"

"Yes, it's been a catastrophe."

The clinic was next to the Russian Orthodox church, so we took a quick trip to look inside. Zari has never been there before. She remarked that there are so many varieties of Christianity in the world that it's hard to even call them the same religion.

Our walk to these places took place in a light rain. I enjoyed it because it's so warm that getting wet felt good.

Inga and Ivy's school had a big sports day to celebrate the 2024 Olympics coming to Paris. They ran 2,024 meters up at the chateau. Both of them requested Ada Hegerberg hairstyles.

I took lost of doll & pelvis pictures this morning for breech simulation flash cards. Ivy's Cavigal jacket doubled as a cervix trapping an aftercoming head.

The new sander inferace pad arrived, so I could finally sand the walls today. I almost finished; there's probably 30 minutes of sanding left tomorrow. Then a few little touchups...and then we can PAINT!

I very much needed a swim after all of the walking and renovating. Oh, I got stung by a jellyfish for the first time in my life. I was even keeping an eye out and never saw it, even after it stung me.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 546: Teeth and a time warp

9,474 steps

Ivy and I went to a different dentist this morning, someone who had a last-minute opening. It was in the big fancy dental clinic with 3 floors of offices. Very different than our normal dentist, where it's just her and her assistant who helps with cleaning the tools. The assistant doesn't do hygenist stuff at all, or receptionist stuff. That's all done by the dentist herself.

Anyway, good news is Ivy doesn't have an abcessed tooth. Instead, one of her baby molars has been keeping one of the adult molars from coming down all the way, creating a little pocket of space where food can get trapped. The baby molar won't last much longer; we could see most of the roots had already disappeared in the x-ray. They cleaned out the food that had gotten stuck in that pocket and advised Ivy to keep that area clean. Worst case they can pull that baby tooth if it keeps happening again. It's already a bit loose. But I don't think we'll need that.

We enjoyed our walk there and back; it started raining, just enough to wet the sidewalks but not enough to get us wet. Ivy is a chatterbox and I love listening to what she has to say.

I worked most of the day on putting together clinical breech scenarios, pulled directly from actual births. These will get turned into fancy laminated flash cards that we'll use during our simulation training.

We have a guest staying in Le Catamaran for a week. He's the oldest son of some good friends of ours; we used to babysit him when he was a wild and crazy 2-year-old back when we were young grad students. Now he's in his early 20s. When did that happen?!? He and Eric played soccer this evening and had a great time.

Zari and I had a long talk about existential things like truth and religion and how to reconcile the good things that can come from religion without excusing the bad things (manipulation, abuse, lying, etc). She's a good kid and is wrestling with issues I mostly didn't think about until my 30s. Well, the feminist issues were always at a forefront but other things weren't until much later.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 545: Turn the music down!

It's Fete de la Musique tonight--celebrated every year on the Summer Solstice--and we're holed up with our windows closed and it's still TOO LOUD. Ugh. It would be better if it were actually good music, but it's the doof-doof-doof electronic music. It's so loud it hurts to hear it. Grumble grumble.

I was SO determined to get the walls all sanded today. However, my power sander didn't want to cooperate. AFter a while, the velcro pad lost its grip. The sandpaper would just fly off! Each new sandpaper lasted shorter and shorter until the newest one was on for all of 5 seconds.

It's annoying because I just replaced the velcro pad a few weeks ago. This shouldn't be happening.

So then I was at a bit of a loss for what to do. I shifted gears and framed in the French doors in Le Catamaran, then caulked and primed everything. I also painted the final coat in the 2 little windows in Le Catamaran.

Eric came down in the afternoon and did some little touch-ups with drywall compound.

We think Ivy has an abcessed tooth/gum. It's been hurting her for a few days. Our regular dentist is out of town this week so it's been tricky to find someone to take her. I finally made an appointment with someone who had an opening tomorrow morning. Poor girl. I'm just glad it's happening here and not in the US (where we have no dental insurance).

Dio skipped school to spend the day with his friend (this is normal the last week or two of middle school; they stop counting grades and only about half the students show up). They went to the beach in the morning and played games in the afternoon. He's going to skip again tomorrow and then we told him he does need to go to class the last 2 days this week.
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Monday, June 20, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 544: Smoothing, sanding, and swimming

5,539 steps

I finished applying wall smoothing compound by this afternoon! I surprised myself at getting it done today. I thought for sure that it would take at least one more full day.

The next big step is sanding it all down so it looks flat and smooth. It won't ever look like new drywall, but it will be vast improvement on what was there before.

Eric started sanding in the late afternoon. Even with the vacuum attached to the power sander, it generated a lot of dust. I taped plastic over all of the interior staircase windows so we don't have to worry about dust getting into the common areas.

Zari helped me after lunch: she hooked up all 14 spot lights in the kitchen, entry hall, and downstairs WC. And they all worked! It's exciting, and a bit nervewracking, to flip the switch for the first time. Will they turn on?

Eric was hoping to change our car's glowplugs today, but we need an extra-long 10mm ratchet. What...we don't have the right tool? How is that possible?

I was super sweaty and dusty and covered with dried-up bits of smoothing compound. An after-school swim was perfect. Ivy came with her friend, and eventually Zari joined us just in time for me to go home for a meeting. Eric went treasure hunting but only found garbage.
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Sunday, June 19, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 543: Rest & swim

12,722 steps

Ivy came on my usual walk this morning up to Cimiez. It was hot already! We sprayed water on ourselves most of the way up.

We had nice lazy afternoon (naptime for me and Eric, kids doing whatever) and then we all went for a swim in the late afternoon to cool off. I had to "force" Dio to come but he ended up swimming (I insisted) and I think he actually liked it even though he wouldn't say so. My deal was everyone had to come and swim and then they could go back home once they were done.

We've been hosting a world-famous pianist and author in Le Catamaran; she's been attending the James Baldwin conference. We had her over for dinner this evening and enjoyed hearing more about her life and her thoughts on the conference.
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Saturday, June 18, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 542: Walking through a heat wave

24,486 steps

We're in a "canicule" (heat wave). Fortunately our area of the country has a micro-climate that keeps things a bit more reasonable. Our high today was 31° C (88° F). Still, that's hot when there's humidity and most places don't have AC. I admit--I turned it on in the living room today and in the bedrooms this evening. It's not cooling off much tonight.

But today was a great day despite the heat. I started off early and took a run before it got too hot. And, my favorite part: a post-run dip in the sea! There's nothing better.

Most everyone was still asleep when I got back. Eric was already gone to the James Baldwin conference. It's the last day and he is still gone (after 10 pm now). I'm sure he'll come home exhausted with all sorts of stories to unload.

I set to work packing up winter clothes. I had the kids go through all of their clothes and make 3 piles: give away, keep in France, bring back to the US. That brought us to lunch time.

I walked Dio to a birthday party, about 30 minutes away. We loaded up with water and he brought his scooter, since part of the party involved going to the skatepark. On the way home, I stopped by my favorite consignment store to see if there was anything new furniture for the Communist apartment.

Inga and Ivy got invited to go to a special archeology activity up at the chateau. They made pottery, drilled holes in seashells, and got themselves wet several times to cool off.

Meanwhile Zari and I took a walk back to that consignment store to look for birthday gifts for her friend. We found a marble dolphin and a wooden giraffe (her friends loves animal sculptures).

I had a "surprise basket" to pick up from a bakery. This one was disappointing; I definitely didn't feel it was worth the advertised value.

And then my evening finished off with a Breech Without Borders planning meeting.

I don't know how I got that many steps in today! It sounds busy but it felt pretty laid-back overall, despite the packing and walking and errand-running.
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Friday, June 17, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 541: Chaperoning & IUDs

14,962 steps

I chaperoned Inga's class to the community swimming pool, an arduous 4-block trek through the Old Town. Chaperones weren't allowed to stay during the swim lesson, so I ran some errands and came back an hour later.

I got Inga enrolled in middle school and by then it was time to pick the girls up for lunch. Normally Eric does this, but he was gone all day at the James Baldwin conference.

I took them to the park after lunch. All of the benches in the shade were taken, so I stood up and read a book while they played. It was hot today. I was very much looking forward to our after-school swim.

I had an appointment after lunch to change my IUD--what fun. I already had the first appointment/consult last month. But I showed up today and learned that I'm supposed to buy the IUD beforehand at the pharmacy and bring it with me! Oops. I apologized and rescheduled, prescription in hand.

And that after-school swim was as lovely as I had imagined. Ivy and Inga came. Dio was at a friend's house and Zari was at soccer practice. She has an enormous blood blister underneath one of her big toes. I've never seen one before.

Eric came home around 7 pm totally exhausted. He went for a pick-me-up swim and felt much better after.
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Thursday, June 16, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 540: Fewer bumps on the walls

I dedicated today to applying wall smoothing compound (besides, you know, also doing the changeover for 2 sets of Catamaran guests and cooking dinner and occasionally paying attention to my children). I've nearly done one of the great big walls!

Zari helped me rip a few long boards this morning. She still is very intimidated by power tools but I think I'm acclimatizing her. Maybe by time she's an adult she'll take a liking to can hope. But honestly, I hadn't used a table saw more than sporadically until we started this renovation project. Miter saws, all the time. But table saws, less so.

Eric was busy most of the day with the James Baldwin conference. Guests are now registered and socialized and the conference sessions start tomorrow. He'll be in absentia for the next two days.

Ivy was adamant that we not swim this afternoon, despite gorgeous weather, because her friend told her there were jellyfish. I told her I'd go myself, and she begged and pleaded for me to not go. "No mama, I don't want you to get stung by a jellyfish! Don't go!" I assured her that I was an adult and that I'd be okay. And guess what? Not a single jellyfish in sight, and the water was completely clear. Too bad for her.

Zari helped me chop ingredients for Tuscan butter gnocchi. Dio is trying to decide whether to go to school next week--it's optional starting Monday and a big part of the class doesn't come. I told him that if he chose to stay home, he'd have to work with me at least half of every day. I'd actually love his company but I am not sure that he will want to be my work assistant :)
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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 539: The Energizer Bunny has dead batteries

8,360 steps

I have colleauges who call me the Energizer Bunny. But tonight, I lost my charge completely. I ate dinner and started feeling completely kaput and nauseated within a few minutes. So I've mostly been lying down on the couch this evening.

Before that, my day was busy comme d'habitude.

The first thing in the morning: a visit from yet another AC installer, this one recommended by the attorney. (We have been waiting for 6 weeks for the estimate from the last installer who came!) He was good and also properly horrified to see some of the poorly done things. I really, really want to get all of this sorted out quickly.

I mixed up 2 more batches of wall smoothing compound. It's not quite the same as pre-mixed, but at 1/3 the price I'm okay with that. Once it dries, we'll sand it with a power sander hooked up to a vaccum. Some people can get it perfectly smooth with their blades but I've never been able to do that. So I accept that there will be slight ridges and bumps because they'll sand out.

I also taped, caulked, and primed the new framing in the little Catamaran windows. I also started doing the exterior finish framing on the French doors. And then, since we have a guest arriving tonight, I did a final cleanup.

And in the middle of all that, the usual soccer & grocery shopping.

Eric will be very busy the next few days helping out at a big James Baldwin conference. He's been way too stressed about it and sleeping poorly the last few weeks. Let's hope that changes after this weekend.

I happened upon the 3 girls this morning, all reading quietly. Dio would probably have joined them, but he was at school.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 538: Meet Zari, my electrical apprentice

6,984 steps

Zari helped me most of the morning. I started her off applying wall smoothing compound, but she struggled to apply it. (HOnestly I thought she did pretty well, given it was her first time.) So I switched her to an easier job: electricity! She trimmed conduits, stripped wires, and put Wago connectors on all of the lights underneath the mezzanine (mostly spots). I applied the smoothing compound.

I sent her upstairs once she had finished all of the wires. It was fun to have a work companion. Then I started finish framing the two small windows in the closet in Le Catamaran. I know you'll never see them, since there's a storage shelf that mostly covers them up...but I hate to leave something undone. By the end of the day, I had all of the trim pieces in place.

I also re-set the kitchen sink. The silicone failed to adhere the first time, so I used super-duper-strong floor glue in the inner part and then silicone for waterproofing along the edge. It should hold.

We had a huissier de justice come to our building to verify all of the issues with the AC installation; they will then file some kind of official legal document attesting to all of the discrepancies between the estimate and the actual installation.

I was very excited when it was school pickup time...because that means swimming time! I joined Eric, Ivy, and her friend at the beach. We can't have more perfect weather: highs right around 27°C/80°F, lows around 21°C/70°F. The water is refreshing. Not cold at all, but not so warm that you feel like you're swimming in a lukewarm bathtub.
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Monday, June 13, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 537: Bikes and lawyers

4,408 steps but many km on the bike

I had to keep quiet this morning because, after I started vacuuming in the Communist apartment, one of our neighbors yelled from across the street that her son was ill and couldn't sleep. I had the windows closed but they are very thin and one of the panes is missing and covered with a tarp.

So I did more electrical hookups (outlets) and other quiet tasks.

I took Inga and Ivy to the coulee verte after they ate lunch. I hadn't eaten yet, and then I had to drop them off and get things ready for an afternoon meeting with an attorney we are hiring. It was on the other side of the Baie des Anges, right by the airport. We decided to bike as it was just as fast on bike as on the tram. It was fun to be out in the sun and wind.

The attorney was great--very friendly, very knowledgeable and efficient. She kept making shocked exclamations about how messed up our AC installation was. She's going to do some investigations, gather more information, and then propose a plan of action on Friday.

Meanwhile we have to go to a "huissier de justice" tomorrow to make a "constat" about some of the major problems with the install (noteably the discrepancy between the brand quoted on the estimate vs. the brand installed).

We got home at 3:45 pm, at which point I finally got to eat for the first time today. I do intermittent fasting every day anyway, but this was longer than I usually go. No big deal, though. Hunger comes in waves so it was probably just as intense at 1 pm as when I got home.

I cooked steamed cauliflower, roasted potatoes, and cassoulet for dinner, with quick mango ice cream for dessert (frozen mangoes blended with cream and a tiny bit of sugar).

Piano lessons finished off our evening.
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Sunday, June 12, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 536: Memories

7,096 steps

Inga wasn't feeling well this morning, so I stayed home with her. It might have been her sunburn from yesterday, or maybe that she was exhausted from an all-day tournament in the heat, plus she had a runny nose. She got to watch the movie that the other kids watched yesterday. I had to keep explaining what was happening, but she really liked it.

I'm nearly done with my Amish breech manual. Phew. I'm ready to get that sent off to the printers and on to the next project. I photographed and edited doll & pelvis photos for the manual. We're usually standing in front of a camera or a live audience so I had to recreate the things we demonstrate.

We had a fun discussion at dinner about the kids' earliest memories in general and earliest memories in France.
  • Zari (age 2.5): getting lost in Alberta during a family reunion, climbing up the Eiffel Tower. Going to Disneyworld right before she turned 3.
  • Dio (just over 2): the horse hitching posts at our old brick house, the little one we lived in until just after Inga was born
  • Inga (just over 2): splitting her head open and getting stitches back in the USA, her nursing cake at age 2
  • Ivy (just over 2): going to Corsica (the ferry boat, the pool in the hotel next door, the spider crab that Eric caught) and Burgundy (going on a bike ride; she was on my back in an Ergo)

Eric, Ivy, and I went for a swim this afternoon. The water was clear and deliciously refreshing. Yet again we couldn't convince the others to come. Their loss...

We watched Waterman tonight. Good movie.

I didn't realize this until I was giving Zari a back massage tonight, but she's done with school! The last few weeks are for the older students taking their big exams. I think Dio will get out a week or two early as well.
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Saturday, June 11, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 535: Supercharged Saturday

8,937 steps

I woke up before everyone else before 6 am. So much for sleeping in on Saturday. I was worried that I had missed the alarm for Eric and Inga; they had a 7 am departure for a soccer tournament. But no, I still had a while before I had to wake them up.

Zari also was up at 6:30 because she was taking part in a ceremony to honor 5 students from Nice who were killed during WWII. They held the ceremony at the place where they were killed, about 2 hours away. She got to read a tribute that she had written in their honor.

That left me with Ivy and Dio. I let them take their time eating breakfast while I did some breech work, and then Ivy and I went downstairs to keep stripping the finish off the Renaissance desk. I was going to ask Dio to help, but I noticed he was reading a book and I let him keep reading. (He's not been much of a reader, much to the great consternation of Zari.) Ivy worked like a champ. It's ready enough that I can now apply woodworm treatment.

Inga's team played against all boy teams. They came in 5th, which at least wasn't dead last. Eric took a picture of her in the little town they were playing in, Besse-sur-Issole.

After lunch I took the 2 kids on a walk/scooter ride to the marine supply store on the far side of the yacht. I have a brass porthole mirror that's missing the hinge pin. They were able find hardware the worked. It was HOT! We kept pouring water on ourselves.

We relaxed and cool off back home and watched a movie: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I wanted to take a quick trip to the beach, but I ran out of time. I had to make dinner before a 6 pm breech live session.

Zari came back halfway through the movie, and Eric and Inga came home near the end of the live session.

A busy day for all of us! I was able to lie on the couch and read The Pull of the Stars, a novel set in a Dublin maternity ward during the Spanish Flu pandemic.
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Friday, June 10, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 534: Prehistoric jewelry and pizza on the beach

14,836 steps

This morning was a nice change of pace. I accompanied Ivy's class on a field trip to Terra Amata, a museum of prehistoric hominid settlements here in Nice. It's built on an excavation site right near the port. It's a small museum and we visited just a few of the exhibition rooms.

Then we got to the fun part--making jewelry with prehistoric tools! We learned how to rub seashells against rocks in the right spot to pierce holes. I've always wondered how they did it...

It's funny how doing something so non-exerting makes me so tired. My body decided that it was naptime right in the middle of when our guide was explaining about prehistoric art (which was very interesting). But no...interesting or not, my body did not agree.

After lunch we made another trip to the dechetterie. I think that will be our last trip until the very very end. I hope. The only big thing that will generate some waste will be installing the wooden ceiling. And I suppose we'll have a few wood scraps from putting in the wood floors.

We also ordered windows (thanks to Comrade, who gave us his wholesale discount). We only had time for an hour of work before school pickup. I did some sanding and lots of vacuuming. We have loads of dust and at some point it all needs to go. Ideally before we start painting.

Ivy and I went to the beach after school. At Eric's urging, we ordered pizza for dinner although ironically only 2 of the 6 of us were there. Dio and Inga were with friends, Eric was spearfishing, and Zari had soccer practice. Eventually we all made it back home.

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Thursday, June 09, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 533: Submerged

3,986 steps

Well, I'm essentially writing a very long book on vaginal breech birth. That wasn't my intent but that's the result. I'm trying to keep it informal and not overly technical. I want people to *enjoy* reading the lessons, after all!

I've been immersed in getting this project done so we can send it off to be printed and mailed to our Amish students. I feel like I'm underwater and only surface for meals and bathroom breaks.

I did take some "breaks" to go work in the Communist apartment. Not really a break but at least a change of pace. I did more wall prep, vacuuming, tidying, etc in preparation for applying the wall smoothing compound. I also measured the window openings so we can get the windows ordered.

I took a quick break at the beach after school with Inga and Eric. I hadn't showered yet so it was time to get in the water. Ivy was too scared of getting stung by a jellyfish, so she went to the park with a friend. Dio went to a friend's house and Zari had soccer practice.

Oh, and I woke up at 5:30 this morning (not on purpose). Of course I did.
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Wednesday, June 08, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 532: La bataille des lettres

6,316 steps

I spent all of my free time working on the Amish breech birth manual. Lots of sitting and typing and clicking.

I brought Ivy to the beach for a quick swim right before dinner. Within a few minutes of going in, she got stung by a jellyfish and came out shrieking. The water was very cloudy today and we couldn't see well enough to spot jellyfish. So that cut her swimming short. I was just about to get in when she got stung so I missed out on swimming too.

A few days ago, we got a letter in the mail (with a hand-drawn stamp) from "Miss Inga." It said:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. FREEZE,

Your child (Ivy Freeze) has been a really bad student the last couple of weeks. She has gotten punished SO many times. She has not been working when we need to work, been talking when she is NOT supposed to. THIS IS A VERY BIG PROBLEM!!!

Please talk to your child *as soon as possible.* This is very important.

Yours sincerely,
Miss Inga


Then today, we got another letter in the mail from "Madame Musi" in what looked suspiciously like Ivy's handwriting.

This letter said (spelling errors are original):

Cher parent d'Ivy,

Ivy a une très mauvaise comportement. Elle est très agité tout le temps. Elle se lève. Elle ne travaille jamais. Elle parle et tape les autres, elle m'a frapé plusieurs fois. S'il vous plait, repondait tout de suite. Elle ne veut pas être gentille avec une seule personne. Elle a la tète en guère, elle s'occupe toujours de ses cartes Pokémon, de sa trousse, de jamais faire ce que on la dit.

Mme Musi

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Tuesday, June 07, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 531: Lots of work, little to show

7,679 steps

Do you ever have days where you work hard but nothing looks different at the end of the day? That was my day. We did lots of cleanup (so I suppose "less dust" is one net change), sanding, wall vacuuming, and miscellaneous wall patching. I was a dusty, sandy, sweaty mess by the end of the day.

I thought about showering, but it was at school pickup time. So instead, I went swimming in the sea! Much more fun than a regular shower. Ivy spotted two jellyfish and was very reluctant to swim. She and I went in for a little while, but she wouldn't let me swim on my own without her to spot the jellyfish. She was so concerned for me. I kept telling her, "Don't worry. I'm an adult! I'll watch out for jellyfish."

I'm creating a version of our breech training program for the Amish (all print materials, no videos). We've had a number of Amish students who watched our courses at an "English" friend's house. However, some are in strict enough groups that even this is not allowed. So we're finding workarounds 🙂 Not as ideal as seeing the videos but it's better than no training at all.

Comrade helped us find a lawyer for our AC situation, someone he was worked with several times in the past. I have to assemble our dossier for our meeting next Monday. What fun...

Oh, and a complication with our visas. We are renewing our 1-year visitor's visa, which we've done most years without any issue. We submitted the same documents for both of our applications. My renewal was approved and Eric's was denied! I had to spend several hours updating all of his documents and resubmitting. Argh. This makes no sense at all.

Zari is having some buyer's remorse about the 3 main subjects she had to choose for French high school next year. Frankly, I think she'd be feeling this no matter which 3 she chose. I keep reminding her that she will have plenty of options available to her in the US school system and in whatever university she chooses to go to. It's not permanent. It's just 3 specialities that she'll be focusing on for the next 2 years.
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Monday, June 06, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 530: Having a blast

6,148 steps

We did sandblasting again, and hopefully for the last time. We had several large crown molding pieces salvaged from when we tore the false ceiling off. They were originally part of the wooden ceiling and had been cut and repurposed to support the false ceiling. (Why did they do this?!?) We selected the 3 best pieces and sandblasted the old finish off. Then I stripped them with denatured alcohol and steel wool, finishing off with 180 grit sandpaper.

Why all this work? Well, I hate to throw away a beautiful piece of history and I think we can re-use these pieces along the top edge of the mezzanine.

Before the sandblasting, I sprayed the rest of the moldings that we'll be using to rebuild the original wooden ceiling. Then I jackhammered some final parts on the ceiling (where cement had leaked through and then solidified where it didn't belong). Our goal is to finish things that will raise a lot of dust, because the next big step is to put on the wall smoothing compound and then paint the walls! And also to do the lime mortar on the stone wall.

Inga spent the day up in the mountains behind Nice with her friend, her friend's grandma, and her friend's cousins. Inga was in heaven because there were a) dogs and b) a pool. They also explored a fallen tree where her friend had built a little "cabane" a while back.

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Sunday, June 05, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 529: Zari is back!

15,799 steps

Zari made it home on the TGV with no problems, other than a phone with an almost-dead battery since there were no charging ports on this train. I picked her up in the early afternoon and we had a nice walk home while talking about her trip.

She only had 5 or 6 hours of sleep last night so, predictably, she crashed in the late afternoon.

We had a lazy afternoon. I finally got hot and sticky enough that I declared, "I am going for a quick swim. Who will come with me?" Ivy immediately put her swimming suit on, but the other kids didn't want to come.

We have yet another school holiday tomorrow.
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Saturday, June 04, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 528: Rain for Zari, sun & heat for us

10,636 steps

Eric and Inga had to wake up at 5 am for a long drive to Cavaillon in Provence and a full day soccer tournament. They came back 15 hours later, a bit disappointed that they only made 3rd place.

Eric's (totally unbiased!) opinion is that Inga's team should have won; in one of the games that would have made the difference, the opposing team scored a goal that was clearly offsides but the referee didn't notice it. Then just a few minutes later, Inga scored a goal that got called offsides but that likely was not; it was so close that they would have needed a video to make the vinal call.

I spent a few more hours with the Spanish midwife this morning watching breech birth videos. Then we started talking about our own births and sharing our own birth videos with each other. It turns out that she had seen Inga's birth video years ago (where I resuscitated her) and didn't realize until now that it was me! Small world...

After lunch I got Dio and Ivy out the door for some exercise. I went running 3 miles (5 km) while Dio rode his scooter and Ivy rollerbladed. It was HOT and I had to pour water on myself several times.

Here's my sister's report for the day in Paris:

"Today it RAINED like crazy. Paris Opera, Picasso Museum, walking tour of Montmarte, Sacre Coeur.

"Pain au chocolat, more chocolate, now onion soup and salmon (for Zari) for dinner. Lots of time on public transit.

"Zari has never had so much fun in her life!

"Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. But we did have a good day."

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Friday, June 03, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 527: A day with Sophie and Ivory and a rainy day in Paris

5,851 steps

I spent much of the day talking about and demonstrating breech birth with a midwife from Spain. I think she was the most prepared student I've ever taught!

The day started off rainy but ended with sun, so Eric, Ivy, and I went for a quick swim after school.

Zari is having a great time in Paris. Today she did a open-air bus tour (in the rain!), a walking tour, took pictures near the Eiffel Tower, visited Sainte Chapelle, got as close to Notre Dame as she could, tried to see the Opera Garnier, saw the Arc de Triomphe, and ate way too much delicious food and chocolate.

My sister tried to take her clothes shopping, makeup shopping, perfume shopping, all the 15-year-old-teenage-girl things shopping. It did not work. I laughed when I heard that.
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Thursday, June 02, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 526: Telephone purgatory and a BIG DAY for Zari

I have been on hold for at least 2 hours today trying to do a wire transfer from my US bank. Why is it so hard?!?

So the big news about Zari: she took the high-speed train to Paris *by herself* to meet up with my sister! She was both excited and apprehensive. I would be, too, if I were 15 and heading across the country by myself. I saw her onto the train, hugged her goodbye, and then walked away. Phew.

The train had wifi--we are spoiled nowadays--so she was able to send me updates along her way. She loved going fast. 320 km/hr to be exact!

We had a few minutes of figuring out how to help my sister locate Zari in the enormous train station in Paris, but it all worked out.

They visited the Musée d'Orsay and probably had a delicious dinner somewhere.

Ivy took over Zari's bedroom and then Inga wanted to sleep there, too. We negotiated that they would take turns.

I worked until mid-afternoon on a twin home birth paper. Then I did something very unpleasant: suited up in full protective gear (covered head to toe, wrists and ankles, gloves, plus a Darth Vader style respirator) and sprayed woodworm treatment on all the wood we will be using to rebuild the Renaissance ceiling. I was 80% done when it was school pickup time.

I hoped to go to the beach but then I got stuck in telephone purgatory. It's after 10 pm and I'm on hold AGAIN.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 525: Too late

It's after midnight so this will be brief. Some light renovating work in the morning, the usual soccer/grocery shopping in the afternoon, quick trip to the beach right before dinner.

Zari is doing something Big And A Little Bit Scary tomorrow. More details later but I think she'll enjoy herself once she gets over the nervousness.
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