03 October 2006

Preparing Chez Nous

[To briefly wrap up that cliff-hanger that I left all of you with in my last post, Rosh Hashana went off without a hitch. It was actually quite easy for me and my, um, limited language abilities and turned out to be an all together pleasant evening. Dinner was the standard Rosh Hashana fare of apples dipped in honey, olives, pickles, fish balls with a side of fish jelly, and matzo ball soup. My vegetarian eating habits proved to be an asset for the first time in France as it allowed me an excuse to politely pass on the fish balls and jelly though Esther enjoyed both in full.]

The past weeks have been very busy and a bit stressful, mainly because of everything required to get our studio prepared for us to move in (something which we have recently done). First we had to wait for the major work in the kitchen and bathroom to be finished by the contractors, Monsieur Milo and Monsier Kovosovic, two Serbian guys, about 50-55 years old, working outside the prying eyes of the French government. It was hard not to combine their two names into Milosovic, something which they may not have appreciated.

As they drew closer to the end of their work and were using the main room less to store their tools and materials, I began my work of painting the entire place. First, of course, Esther and I had to pick colors which was relatively easy, though not free of mistakes. For the main room we wanted something very light so we went with a color that is nearly white, but has a very slight brown tint to it. Trim in that room is a beige-like color (I think it is called 'Sourdough'). The bedroom area (since there is no seperate room, just a little "cove" off of the main room, got a nice golden color called, appropriately, 'Gold Buff' and white trim. The entry way, since it is such a small space anyway and unlikely to have any exciting decorations in it, we decided to go with a light, bright yellowish-orange. It's called 'Japanese Koi' but would more accurately be named 'Kraft Cheese and Macaroni (It's the Cheesiest!).' Or maybe 'Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers.' Basically, it's the color of any fake cheese product from the US. Both Esther and I like it a lot and everyone who walks in has their own reaction. Nothing worse than being boring, right?

So, for a little more than a week I went to the studio every day and painted all day long, all of the walls and the ceilings. It went generally well and the results are quite good. The quality of the paint didn't quite match that of the Behr that I'm used to in the US and, thus, some areas required up to three or four coats to get adequate coverage but in the end it's done. I'm happy not to have to go back to Batkor (the French approximation of Home Depot, where some days they are just out of masking tape) so regularly since it is invariably a 2.5 hour excursion no matter what.

After having finished painting we had a team of guys come in and refinish the floor completely. They did a really amazing job. The wood floor was in terrible shape with deep gouges, water stains, scratches, dirt, dust, and a bit of mold. They must have sanded off quite a bit because all of that is gone. Esther and I decided to go with the high-gloss finish which looks very good, but still shows some brush strokes and drips of the finish. While waiting for the smell of acetone to diminish enough that we could be in the house without our eyes watering and lungs burning we went to Ikea and picked out a bed and some other small things which we needed. These got delivered on Sunday night and we were able to spend our first night in the studio that night.

Which is not to say that the process is finished. We are currently having an electrician install more power outlets since there were originally about 5, old, ungrounded ones in the whole house (kitchen and bath included). We still need to get curtains (Ikea here we come!) and to repair some things in the one big closet. Eventually we will get a compact washing machine, a new couch, and a whole bunch of other little things. I estimate by the end of this weekend it should start to feel more like a house. Once we make the repairs in the closet we can unpack and arrange our things which will go a long way in making things more comfortable here. It doesn't quite feel like home, but I'm sure it will soon.

Once things are more settled I will take a bunch of pictures and maybe string them together into a little movie-tour of the house. Stay tuned, but it might be a few weeks yet.

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