Tuesday, February 28, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 629: One stencil is started, ceiling is painted, walls are primed, flooring is begun

Lots happening today, and all of it making visible progress!

#1: I started stenciling the undersides of the big beams with gilding paint. It worked pretty well. I still haven't figured out if it's best to take the stencil off right after the final coat, or if I should let it dry completely. I have to connect all the "bridges" by hand and connect the middle and end parts by extending the outside lines. It will make more sense once it's done.

I have 5 more of the stencils to do. It's definitely time-consuming.

#2: Eric has completely finished painting the ceiling! He was scraping insides of the paint bucket by the end.

#3: My dad primed all of the walls on the living room side (roller). We have to cut in tomorrow now that the scaffolding is freed up.

#4: We got the flooring started. First we laid two rows of boards across the outer edge of the mezzanine and let the glue set. Then we laid the first two rows of boards perpendicular to the mezzanine and let those dry. (Due to the shape of the mezzanine and placement of the dividing walls, we decided to run the flooring one way and not the other.)

Inga's birthday is in two days. She has a long list of birthday gift ideas. She REALLY wants a dog. If we actually lived in one place all year round, I would love to have a dog.

Oh, I slept much better last night.

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Monday, February 27, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 628: Old moldings

Well, I thoroughly jinxed myself. After mentioning my problems with insomnia that I faced several years ago, I had a terrible night last night. I may have slept about an hour or two at best. Most of the night I was just lying there, sooooo bored and so tired but unable to sleep. Ugh. I don't have bad nights very often anymore, and it's a bit disheartening how all those old doubts and fears can come back so quickly.

I've been feeling dizzy and jittery all day as a result. But I just made myself keep going. I knew that if I sat down, I'd fall asleep and it would make it harder to sleep tonight.

My first task was to buy some 100 cm Spax screws for attaching old molding to the edge of the mezzanine. These were pieces that we had discovered when we tore down the plaster ceiling. They originally were part of the decorative wooden ceiling but had been torn down and repurposed as scrap wood to support the plaster. (What were they thinking?!?) We salvaged about 8 pieces of molding and cleaned up the three best lengths (sandblasting, denatured alcohol strip, and chemical strip, then a polyurethane finish because that's all I had on hand).

These are probably 500+ years old and hand-shaped, so each board is different even through they have the same profile. We couldn't just butt them end-to-end because they don't match up. Our solution was to make decorative spacing blocks out of extra wood from the staircase stringers. We left a gap on the right side of the mezzanine where the staircase stringer will go.

Even though they don't look perfect, I love the history that they bring to the apartment.

Then we started preparing the flooring. We'll start with a line of two planks along the mezzanine edge, with the outermost lip routed and overhanging the old molding. My dad got it all routed in the afternoon.

Eric painted most of the day. We're close to running out of dark green paint. We'll see how far we get tomorrow.

Ivy came up after dinner to see what we'd done. She had fun playing on the mezzanine and managed to lose a pencil somewhere in a crack where it will never be found again until someone demolishes everything 300 years in the future and asks, "What were they thinking?!?"

On other topics, I did lots of breech video editing today when I wasn't working in the communist apartment.
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Sunday, February 26, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 627: A bitter (orange) day

My dad discovered the the best time to forage for fallen bitter oranges is in the morning before the cleaning crews come. He came home with a bag full, which he turned into a lightly sweetened syrup. You mix about 1 part of syrup with 4 parts of water to make a delicious orange-ade. We tried it with sparkling water and it was like drinking homemade Orangina.

I also made a bitter orange pound cake with some of the marmalade my mom had made.

Totally unrelated topic: I recently read the book Blood Orange Nights. Wow. It's about a woman who went through extreme insomnia and then ended up getting addicted to benzodiazepines (unbeknownst to her, since everyone told her they were totally safe to use).

Five years ago, I went through a period of terrible insomnia and was likewise thrown prescriptions for benzos by many providers. They didn't really know how to help me other than offer me benzos! Anyway I could relate to so much in that book--well, the insomnia part, fortunately not the benzo addiction part. It took me almost a year for my sleep to settle into a more-or-less normal pattern, thanks to a fantastic therapist who was dual trained in CBT-I and sleep medicine. Insomnia is terrifying.

What else? It was raining today and we mostly stayed indoors. We ventured out once to see if the Carnaval village was open, but it was closed. That was the extent of today's excitement.
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Saturday, February 25, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 626: Soccer

We had a lazy morning and then an afternoon filled with soccer tournaments. I drove my dad, Inga, and 4 of her teammates to one tournament in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, while Eric took Ivy to a tournament near the airport.

Google maps took us on a crazy circuitous route that added twice as much time. I mostly knew how to get there but set a navigation program to be sure I didn't miss a turn. Instead, we got a crazy long scenic tour. Some of our route has doing loops and crossing back over our path multiple times! I don't know what was happening with the app today. Fortunately, by time we got to the loops, I knew where I was and ignored it the rest of the way.

Inga's team played 3 matches of 30 minutes each. They lost one match 0-1 and won two matches 1-0 and 2-1. Inga scored 2 of the 3 goals! Her legs were really sore from some exercises a few days ago, but she still managed to do well.

Driving with a car full of giggling girls talking full speed over each was hilarious. At one point I hit a speed bump faster than anticipated and set the girls in the back flying.

Ivy's team won all of their games--apparently it wasn't even close. So that's good but they would have liked more evenly matched teams.

Eric went spearfishing this morning and came back with one sea urchin. He barely saw any fish at all and only shot his spear gun once. My dad got his first ever taste of sea urchin.

I started teaching Inga and Ivy the theme song to His Dark Materials on the piano. They learned two measures of the bottom hand and then it was past time to go to bed. Now I have that song running through my head...
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Friday, February 24, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 625: Paint, soccer, funerals

Ivy and Inga had a fun job today: putting on the outlet covers above and below the mezzanine. Outlet covers are a symbol of completion--years of work in this case.

We made good progress with painting (me, up on the scaffold, and then Eric later on). My dad spent much of the day sanding down the two beams that we had planed yesterday. He's also drawn a mock-up of the staircase and taped it to the wall.

Lots more soccer practices today. I've never had a school vacation with soccer every single day! We wanted to go hiking this week but didn't have a single day free.

My mom arrived safely late last night and the funeral took place today. My dad watched the livestream while were getting kids to bed and going on a walk. We caught a few minutes at the beginning and end.

I took a trip to the art supply store with Ivy and Inga to look for a slightly different color of gilding paint. We have classic gold, which is darker than we'd like when stenciled on top of the lighter green paint. I bought a lighter tone (brass) but we're not sure that's perfect either. We may give silver gilding paint a try next.

Then we went to the 2 Euro store and I let each of them come home with one object, since they had completed 2 weeks on their chore charts.

Eric made two kinds of quiche: salmon-caper and quiche Lorraine with mushrooms. My dad has been foraging bitter oranges with Ivy and the past two nights we've had an absolutely delicious orange-ade. It's sour, bitter, and sweet in perfect proportions and very refreshing.
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Thursday, February 23, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 624: Things are never simple

We bought what looked like two straight boards of rough-sawn sipo for the staircase stringers (paillasses). However, upon closer inspection they both had a crown and the crowns were not the same. How we were going to make them straight over 4 meters?

Enter the laser level! I put the laser on each beam and taped a straight edge with masking tape. Then we very carefully freehanded that edge on the table saw, using 3 people because these boards were extremely heavy. Then with one decent side, we flipped it over and ran it through the table saw with a fence, then flipped it over and ran the original side through again with a fence.

Now we had straight sides.

Next, we had to plane the flat faces smooth. This required 5 people: 3 to push and/or pull (the auto-feed mechanism doesn't work with such a heavy, long board) and 2 to stand on the supporting boards and ensure they didn't move. We got a workout from doing this! Each board was sent through at least 6 times total, sometimes more if there were big divots.

See what I mean about things never being simple? But now we have two smooth, straight boards that are ready for a final sanding before we cut the angles and mark the stair treads.

Also accomplished today: final coat of paint on the walls over the mezzanine and starting to paint more of the ceiling in the big living room area!

It was so satisfying to clean and pack up the planer. Now we have to decide whether to give it to a friend on permanent loan (in case we ever get crazy and decide to renovate something else) or sell it. I don't want to sell my precious tools!

I felt really tired today, like I was wading through molasses.

My mom left this morning for the States (to attend two funerals). She is worried that she'll have delays due to the big winter storms. She has a layover in Denver before arriving in Salt Lake City, both areas that risk becoming snow-bound.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 623: Painting driving editing

Zari and my mom are watching tiktok painting videos and distracting me with their laughter.

Lots of painting today: I've finished half of the entire ceiling (the part over the mezzanine) and my dad did the first top coat on the walls. We'll need one more top coat for good overage.

I removed the grout haze from all the tiles...we are ready to install the shower door/faucet and the toilets--as soon as the flooring is laid.

I had some breech videos to edit today and a debrief in the evening. I also chauffeured Dio to soccer mid-day.

Anyway, a fairly unremarkable day.

My mom has to go back to the US for two funerals (her brother-in-law and her cousin's husband). So she's leaving tomorrow for a week. We will miss her and especially her cooking!
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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 622: Lumberyard, grout, and cream puffs

My dad and I dropped off Eric, Inga, and Dio at their respective soccer practices, then we went to the lumberyard far out of town. We needed two pieces of wood to build the staircase. We bought the same species as last time (sipo) but a meter longer and several centimeters wider.

My dad was impressed with the lumberyard. There were massive logs rough sawn into boards, still stacked in their original cutting order.

That took all morning and some of the afternoon. After lunch, Eric finished the last of the ceiling priming and the last of the Zinsser BIN primer--exactly enough and not a drop left over! My dad and I grouted the two toilet rooms and the shower with pale gray epoxy grout.

My mom made a French version of wild rice soup (with red rice from the Camargue) and cream puffs (profiteroles) for dessert. So delicious!

Lots of painting tomorrow. I estimate we'll have a few more days and then all of the painting will be done over the mezzanine, walls included. Then we can start laying flooring while the painting continues on the scaffolding.
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Monday, February 20, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 621: Paint & meetings

Over the course of the day, Ivy, Inga, and Dio all came and helped. The girls painted and Dio vacuumed the walls. My dad primed the walls upstairs and I got the first coat of dark green done. Eric has just about finished the primer on the last part of the ceiling.

I had two breech meetings scheduled but one got cancelled. I didn't mind since it gave me a bit more time in the evening.

We're going to buy the wood for the staircase tomorrow. We're hoping to find the same species (sipo) that we used in Le Catamaran. We need two pieces that are about 4m long, 20 cm wide, and 5 cm thick.
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Sunday, February 19, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 620: Trigonometry with Dad

My dad and I were sitting at the dining room table this evening, working out some trigonometry problems for our staircase build. I definitely got those tendencies from him--we have the same way of problem solving and sketching things out. Ivy came along and got a lesson in 3-4-5 triangles and equilateral triangles.

We will have a staircase with a 40° angle from horizontal. Not quite as shallow as standard US staircases, but still very navigable as a true staircase and not as a ladder.

We had a nice easy day. We took a family walk after lunch around the port and back. It was about 15C and mostly sunny. I love winters in Nice!

We watched two more episodes of "His Dark Materials."

The kids are off school for the next week. I hope we can employ them downstairs. They're good at painting and I would trust them to edge and roll the walls. That's a big compliment since there are not many people I would trust to do that job.
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Saturday, February 18, 2023

Goodbye Chamonix!

Well, the drive that was supposed to take a bit over 5 hours took a few hours longer. We had some misadventures with my parent's rental car (from a company called Liigu). It is all app-based and today the car's app stopped communicating with the car...which meant that every time we stopped the car (for gas, rest stops, etc.), we couldn't get the car started again! We couldn't even lock the car, put it into neutral, or disengage the parking break in order to move it--nothing.

One of the times this happened, we had just filled up the gas tank. We were stuck for 30 minutes trying to get the car started--much of the time on hold with customer service in the UK--with a very angry line of French people behind us cursing us out. They kept coming up to us to tell us to move our car, as if we were stupid people who had no idea they were holding up an entire line at the gas station! I kept telling them that we couldn't turn the car on because it was app-based and ensuring them we were really trying to get it going.

This happened a total of four times and made our journey at least an hour longer than it should have been. Then we had several traffic jams and my mom wouldn't drive over the speed limit in Italy (even though everyone else was). So Eric's group got home a good 90 minutes before we did.

I helped my mom return the car to the airport, so we were gone almost 9 hours start to finish.

It's very cold in our apartment after having the heat turned off. It takes a good day or two to warm it back up. We're huddled over the heaters and under blankets and around hot water bottles.

Anyway, we're all home in one piece and just a bit Freezing. Ha ha!
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Friday, February 17, 2023

Chamonix day 7

We are officially skied out! By 2 pm, my legs felt like lead. Dio, Ivy, and Zari were also tired. We took a break in the sun while Eric and Inga skied. I wanted to go until the end of the day but my legs were not having it.

But overall, it was a good year, despite the poor quality snow. The weather was amazing: sunny, warm, and calm every day.

My parents took the train into Chamonix and had a fun day exploring and hiking. They hiked up to the landing field for the paragliders and watched about 10 landings. They're seriously considering doing it next year (paired with an experienced person, of course). I think they should go for it!

The whole family went to the pool after dinner. Dio, Zari, and Eric joined me in the sauna and then they all swam for a long time afterward.

We have to pack up tomorrow morning and be out by 10 am. I reserved 8 pains au chocolat at the bakery next door for tomorrow morning. A little treat to speed the kids up... Inga just finished reading "The Golden Compass" and now Ivy has started it, after hearing Inga talk about it so much. She highlights words she doesn't know and then I give her little vocabulary lessons.

I call this picture "Darth Dio."

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Thursday, February 16, 2023

Chamonix day 6

A successful day with loads of skiing. Dio was looking a bit less like death warmed over this morning. He almost stayed home, but we convinced him to at least try skiing in the morning. If he didn't feel great, he could leave when my mom was done.

My did 3 runs with us on the middle of the mountain and then had to stop because she had some very painful blisters on her toes. She took the gondola down while we all skied down the long run to the bottom, which gave Dio a decent amount of skiing before he left with my mom. It was close to noon, so we decided to eat lunch while we were at the bottom.

And then, in the afternoon, we skied hard. We stayed on the long runs at the very top. The snow was hard-packed but not quite icy. It wasn't terrible, actually, because at least it was consistent. We went off-run much of the time because the snow was better and it was more fun. And when we were on the runs, we could go fast because there weren't icy moguls or inconsistent surfaces.

We stayed right until closing. I could feel my legs getting tired, so I decided to take the gondola down instead of skiing the long bottom run (which gets terribly icy by the end of the day). Zari and Ivy joined me, while Inga skied down with Eric. We all got down within a minute of each other!

Dinner was roasted sausages and fennel with mustard, thyme, and red wine. Our vegetable dish was a mixed vegetable sautée (eggplant, green beans, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, and few other things) and chocolate & random cookies for dessert.

Inga and Ivy went swimming after dinner and I enjoyed the sauna. We finished watching Ender's Game. Zari was frustrated at the film adaptation. Movies are rarely as good as the books, I agree.

I snapped this picture of Inga and Zari, easily identifiable by their braids.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Chamonix day 5

Poor Dio. He slept poorly last night due to his cough and woke up with a fever. He could hardly get out of bed, let alone ski. He has either been sleeping or resting the whole day and ate just a few bites of food in the evening. He just finished Ender's Game and Zari is SO excited that he read a real book and that she can talk about it with him.

We decided to ski at the nearby resort because we could easily come home during lunch to check up on him. I was feeling a bit out of sorts after my fall yesterday--it did a serious blow to my confidence levels. I can ski nearly anything yet a stupid easy slope did me in!

We had a few hours of decent skiing--some icy runs but we eventually found others with good snow. But at this resort, the struggle is with long lift lines and a lack of chairlifts and too many t-bars.

When we came home for lunch, I decided to stay and give my body a rest for the afternoon. Eric took the 3 girls to our favorite resort about 10 minutes away. They said the snow is getting progressively worse. There hasn't been any snow here for a long time and the temperatures have been rising, creating increasingly icy runs.

We likely will have worsening conditions the next two days. It's disappointing because last year was amazing. We were skiing in fresh powder most of the time.

My parents had a great day exploring Chamonix. They took the cog train up to the glacier at Montenvers (where we hiked almost 7 years ago). They were astounded to see hundreds of people skiing down the entire glacier. It takes the day to ski/climb/hike down and must be done with a guide, a climbing harness, crampons, ropes, and other specialized gear.

My arm is turning lovely shades of purple and green, eliciting horrified and disgusted noises from my children. Nothing hurts unless I bump the bruised part, which is good.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Chamonix day 4

Well, I had a lovely tumble at the very end of the very last run of the day. It was a stupid (no, I mean *incredibly graceful*) fall, because I wasn't going very fast and I have no idea what caught my ski. I bashed the back of my arm, right above the elbow, as well as my butt.

When I showed Eric and the kids at home, they freaked out. There's a huge lump there and it's turning all sorts of interesting colors. But my arm itself is fine--I have full range of motion, full use of everything, no pain when I move my arm. Just pain on the bump itself. I figure it's like a super-sized goose egg. (The photos don't show the bruise very well; it's quite dark.)

My mom skied with us on a 4-hour pass. She did great and decided to end before she had any tumbles. Very smart. I should have done the same thing. I was feeling tired and the last run had gotten incredibly icy by late afternoon.

My dad went hiking today while we were skiing. I'm glad he's enjoying himself despite not skiing with us.

I went to the sauna after skiing. Dio has had a painful cough and sore throat, so I hope I can convince him to go to the sauna tomorrow. It would probably help.
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Monday, February 13, 2023

Chamonix day 3

We are tired! It's been an interesting day. My parents came skiing with us and let's say that we all had some trepidation. They were very skilled skiiers back in the day, but the last time they went was 25 years ago. My mom got her "ski legs" back pretty quickly after figuring out how to ski on shorter parabolic skis. Back when she was growing up. you'd raise your hand as high in the air as possible--and that's how long your skis would be!

My dad was having a tougher time. He has a weak knee that made it difficult to turn in one direction. It doesn't help that the first runs we went down were narrow and had icy patches. After we got down two runs, making our way to the other side of the mountain, he had decided to call it a day. He didn't want to risk getting injured.

My mom did a few more runs with us while he waited. It was warm and sunny, so I think the wait was fairly pleasant. The only problem was that they ended at the other side of the mountain! But fortuanately, they were able to take that gondola down to the bottom and then catch a bus & train back to where we were staying.

We had to make our own way backto the other side of the mountain to get back home for lunch. This meant carrying our skis home, taking off our boots and putting everything into the storage locker, coming back into the apartment to eat...and then at that point everyone was REALLY tired and Eric and Dio even took a short nap. We had to rouse everyone to get them out for a final 2 hours of skiing. My parents came home from the train shortly before we headed out again.

We had time for about 4 more runs before the day ended. At the very end, I took Dio and Ivy home one way because his throat was hurting and he was feeling a bit icky. Irionically we ended skiing just as much as the others because we realized we could ski all the way down the mountain--that last long run had been oepned up in the afternoon. We had to avoid lots of rocks since the snow is fairly thin in the lower elevations.

Ivy and Eric went swimming, but the other kids just wanted to lie down and read books.

Dinner was fajitas. Yum. We finished watching The Abyss and then had hilarious times reading through old journal entries on different random days. This video is one from Dio reading in early 2020. Most of his entries begin with "Today was a great day" or "Today was a boring day" and sometimes "Today was an ok day."

My dad tried to get some kids out for a stargazing walk tonight, but we couldn't persuade them to go. He went by himself. Maybe another night!
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Sunday, February 12, 2023

Chamonix day 2

My parents decided not to ski today, so it was just our own family. We went to Les Grands Montets, which is our favorite place to ski. There hasn't been snow for a while here, unlike last year when we were blessed with fresh powder. Still, conditions were good for the most part.

We did fewer of the long upper and lower runs and stayed most of the day on the shorter middle runs. The snow was best there and the kids had fun going off-run even though it wasn't deep powder anymore.

Most of the years past, Ivy has had major breakdowns on the first day of skiing. This year...not at all! She has already surpassed the level she was at this year.

Inga had a big spill early in the morning and hurt her thumb. Every tumble she took after that--little ones--she kept falling on the same hurt thumb. As a precaution, we got her a brace at a pharmacy at the end of the day. She's much reassured. I don't think it's even sprained because it's not swollen, but it does hurt from repeated falls. Ivy and Inga swam for a good hour after skiing. Zari and Dio were too tired. I joined the girls in the pool for just a few minutes, but the water was too cold for me. I took a hot shower and then watched them for almost an hour. I was having a hard time staying awake.

Eric took over and I checked out the sauna (it wasn't working yesterday, but today it was open). I did two cycles and then came back to the apartment.

What a treat to have a pool and a sauna! And wifi...and a washing machine...and a real bed. Last year's apartment was a 1-bedroom with no wifi, no washing machine, and only 1 real double bed for 6 people.

My parents are coming with us tomorrow. We're literally at the foot of the big gondola--just walk out the door--and there are some nice, big, open runs at this resort. They are both very good skiiers but they haven't skied for about 25 years! So they want to take it easy.
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Saturday, February 11, 2023

Chamonix day 1 !!!!

We made it to Chamonix Mont Blanc by 4:30 pm. We had heaps of ski gear and a week's worth of food for 8 people, but divided between two cars it wasn't too bad.

I went in the car my mom was driving, along with Ivy and my dad. Ivy counted the tunnels (134) but she missed at least a dozen, we suspect. I remember there being over 150 when we counted last time.

I sold the cement mixer before we left this morning!

The place we're staying at has a pool and sauna, so the kids are in heaven. They will all day, come home and swim all evening, and then (hopefully) sleep like the dead. The pool has a lovely view of the mountains.

I had a breech live session soon after we arrived.

We're all writing in journals and then we'll get to bed at a good hour.
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Thursday, February 09, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 619: Concrete

Never a dull day over here. Today we poured concrete on the peripheral regions of the floor that weren't covered by the Fermacell subfloor. We started with a sand & gravel mix and quickly realized that the aggregate was way too big. We were picking out large pebbles and cursing whenever they kept bumping into the trowel.

We sent Eric to the local hardware store for rough sand and it was perfect (0/5, which means the largest bits were <5mm). Now that the concrete is all laid, we are DONE with the cement mixer! I listed it on the online classifieds and hope we can get rid of it soon.

We got out all of our ski clothes and made a quick trip to the sports store for kids who had outgrown everything. We haven't found Zari's ski pants yet. I hope they're somewhere in our attic.

I have a big grocery trip tomorrow; I like to buy the entire week of groceries before we go skiing. I'd rather not spend time grocery shopping once we're there (plus it's lots more expensive). The kids have requested fun flavors of chewing gum and "snacks, lots of snacks."
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Wednesday, February 08, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 618: Brrrr

8,141 steps

It's cold today! We've all be commenting on it. Then I laugh because it's nothing compared to the US.

More painting the morning, plus prepping for pouring concrete tomorrow. Soccer in the afternoon. Lots of homework and studying for tomorrow's exams. (I don't miss that at all!)
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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 617: Painting, tiling, and 20 books

5,732 steps

Another busy day. My dad tiled the two toilet rooms. Wow! I was thinking that would be done waaaay in the future.

We had a bit of a paint crisis this morning when I discovered that one of the colors I had mixed was one shade too light. No matter now much I squinted, it was not the same color at all. And I didn't like it.

But we didn't want to spend a half day going back to the paint store, paying $$$ to have new paint mixed, and coming home only to discover it was the wrong color again. (At the paint store, they assured me it was the right color but they were not correct). So finally I decided to start mixing in some of the darker green until the lighter green reached the right shade. I carefully weighed out 50 g of paint and started adding the darker tone, gram by gram. I mixed 4 different tones and discovered that a 20% mix got it just right.

Then I took a deep breath and mixed the entire 5 liter can of paint with 20% of the darker color. It worked great!

Then I painted the rest of the day. Eric was caulking and priming.

I took a trip to the post office to mail 20 more books mid-afternoon. Then back to more painting.

Then dinner, homework, bedtime, breech work...the usual...
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Monday, February 06, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 616: Priming and prepping

6,642 steps

Half the ceiling is primed, most is caulked, and nearly everything is sanded. I was priming with a mini roller and got a huge splat of paint right in my eye. It hurt like #$%^! It was a shellac-based primer with denatured alcohol as its solvent (Zinsser BIN). It's also almost as runny as water, which is why it was dripping so much.

I hollered for someone to get saline solution while my dad grabbed a water bottle for me to flush my eye out. Never in my life have I gotten paint in my eye before!

After that, I wised up and wore goggles. By the end of the morning, I had paint all over my face, my clothes, my hair, my lips--even on my teeth! But no more in my eyes. My dad started cutting the tiles for behind the two toilets.

I made a big run to the post office and have another big drop-off tomorrow. I also got paint mixed at Leroy Merlin, which was a bit of a (mis)adventure. All the pots of paint turned out the wrong color! One needed to be mixed a bit more and then it looked right. The next one was the right shade after a second mixing, and I thought it was good. But once I came home and looked at the dry sample on the lid, I realized it was still lighter than it should be! And the third pot was a different color altogether. They guys at the paint counter didn't know why and guessed the paint base was mis-labeled.
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Sunday, February 05, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 615: Sunday socializing

14,947 steps

I finally got out for a nice long walk, my usual Sunday routine. After lunch, we brought the family (minus Zari and Dio, who were doing homework) to the chateau. We met up with a friend of mine and her two children. It was lightly overcast and chilly, but still lovely to be outdoors.

Dio has been helping me prepare the EU & UK book shipments of our new breech birth book. I'm paying him a small commission per book in exchange for his help.

Tomorrow will be a big painting day (priming). We'll likely buy the real paint tomorrow evening while Eric is at soccer practice with Dio and Inga. But I also have a meeting during that time. Anyway we'll figure something out as the first two squares will be ready to paint the actual color by the end of tomorrow.
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Saturday, February 04, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 614: Color test, soccer games

6,773 steps

I tested the five small pots of paint we bought yesterday. I think we have found the winners: the first and second greens (1 & 2 on the left). The last green in the middle was way too dark; in person it almost looks black. (The first picture is a bit overexposed and makes the colors slightly lighter than they really are.)

The pair of blues on the right weren't bad either; they look more subtle in person than in the pictures. But the greens are very pleasing and Eric is enthusiastic.

Meanwhile the 5 color samples that I ordered 10 days ago are still in limbo...

Ivy and Inga both had soccer games today: Ivy's was a single game against OGC Nice, while Inga's was a tournament of 4 games. I was able to join my dad at Ivy's. They played very well and dominated the match in terms of ball handling, owndership, and strikes on goal. However, near the very end, OGC Nice scored the only goal. Inga got put on center striker and was on fire: she scored 4 goals in 4 games, more than all of her other teammates combined.

Ivy wanted to make a cake all by herself, something that she could invent. I gave her a pound cake recipe and then let her innovate. She stirred prickly pear cactus fruit syrup into a small amount of the batter and then made a marbled cake. It was delicious, and the flavor of the prickly pear came through very nicely.

I'm still feeling a bit under the weather, just enough that I want to curl up with a hot water bottle and blanket in the evenings.
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Friday, February 03, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 613: Shower is (almost) done + paint samples

4,382 steps

Eric and I didn't sleep very well last night, due to my dad's coughing waking Eric up, and then Eric started coughing, which woke me up. I hope we're all recovered for skiing in 9 days!

My dad and I finished tiling the shower by lunchtime (except for the missing moasic pieces, and a few small bits that broke loose. We had a few tricky cuts and my dad did them brilliantly.

In the afternoon, I did some priming (joined by Inga for the last half hour) and my dad did a big cleanup. Eric has almost finished sanding the beams. (Again, ignore the mint green color of the primer!)

We had an electrical adventure this morning. Our whole building lost power in the middle of the night for a few hours. It came back on around 5 am (I only realized this becaues I heard our home phone beep). I got a message from our renter in Le Catamaran that as soon as the power came back on, her main circuit breaker kept shutting off immediately.

I came down to investigate and sure enough, it was hte main breaker. No matter what we did--turning off some of the apartment circuits, turning off all of the circuits--it would shut off immediately. I message my electrician friend and heard back from him a few hours later. He first advised me to swap breakers (the front Communist apartment has an identical one) and see if our "good" one would work in Le Catamaran.

We did so and lo and behold, they both worked, even the "bad" one now installed in the front apartment that we're working on! It is a total mystery but at least we have power restored.

We had some supplies to buy at Leroy Merlin, so Eric and I took Dio to soccer and then had a "date" at the home improvement store. We bought more tile mortar, caulk, masking tape, an interphone, and five pots of paint to test out. We are so fed up with waiting for the paint samples that I bought more than a week ago that we just bought five small cans. Instant gratification. I am so excited to test them out tomorrow!

We had time to watch one episode of Poldark after dinner (black bean & orzo salad, with bell peppers, corn, cherry tomatoes, olives, feta, & cilantro).
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Thursday, February 02, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 612: Tiling!

There's lots of work to be done on the scaffolding--sanding, caulking, priming--but only one person can work there at a time. Instead of twiddling our thumbs, my dad and I decided to tile the shower while Eric worked on the scaffolding.

We got 3/4 of the shower done! Way more than I thought we'd finish in one day. We ran out of the mosaic tiles with 1/3 of 1 square left. Argh!

We'll do the rest of the tiling above the mosaic tomorrow. We'll have to patch in that last missing part once I can go to the store.

Many of us are coming down with something. Symptoms are varied but include congestion, coughing, mild nausea, and general malaise. Not horrible but enough to make me not want to do anything at the end of the day.

My mom made fajitas for dinner. Yum! Inga wanted to make something with me before bedtime, so we found a recipe that we could make without needing to buy any ingredients: chocolate coconut date balls. It was very simple: pulse coconut, oats, dates, pumpkins seeds, cocoa powder, and a bit of maple syrup together in the blender, then roll into balls.

I had another breech meeting today to go through the twin home birth paper with Dr. Fischbein. Our goal is to submit it in the spring.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2023

French apartment renovations, Day 611: Jelly and traffic jams

My mom made several batches of prickly pear cactus fruit jelly. It's hard to find exact instructions for this type of fruit and then correlate it with the type of pectin they have in France...which means it didn't gel very much. That's fine--we'll thicken it with cornstarch and turn it into syrup. It's a gorgeous pomegrante red color.

This morning, Eric sanded, I caulked, and my dad cleaned and organized our work space.

We had our usual soccer afternoon. There was a major artery out of Nice that was completely closed, which led to enormous traffic jams. It took us an hour to get home, rather than the normal 15 minutes. Good thing I'd done a quick grocery run to Aldi and had some snacks to give Dio!

I had a breech debrief right when I got home, and then I've been working on tabulating statistics for the twin home birth paper in progress.

One week later and I'm still waiting for my paint samples to arrive. The paint store said they take up to 8 business days. That's crazy! And now that we're thinking of doing a 2-toned ceiling, we might need to start all over with the color choices.
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