Okay, here's a photo of mon mari's clean and tidy barn.
It's been like this all of one day and it won't last. but we have a photo record of it.
The toilet is not an integral part – it will be installed in the upstairs bathroom (soon, I hope).
We did not tread an easy path to getting our Titre de Sejour / Carte de Sejour Temporaire…. You can read all the sordid details here:
The Saga of the Titre de Sejour – French Paperwork in Four Parts: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII,
But we have had it now for 5 years (well, 7 official years…. that's part of the saga).
After 5 years one can apply for the Titre de Sejour / Cart de Resident.
The Carte de Sejour Temporaire has to be renewed every year, with all of the incumbent paperwork so beloved by the French, a two-month process.
The Carte de Resident only has to renewed every 10 years.
One can understand the benefits….
Last December, when I started the renewal process at our local mairie (mayor's office) I asked if we could apply for the 10-year there or if we had to go to the Prefecture (2 steps up the government ladder). Our maire (mayor) assured me he could handle it.
And nothing more was said.
I left, thinking he must not have understood me, but didn't really know how to press the issue politley.
There aren't alot of us 'etrangers' here, that need a Titre de Sejour. Other European Union members don't and we are a small community.
Anyway, I went home thinking I would try again next year.
The maire called in January and asked me to write a letter stating why we wanted to live in France.
In French, of course.
Then I took it to my (British, but French-speaking) neighbor to help get the words right. We worked it over for a bit, I finalized it and took it to the maire.
He read it, kind of chuckled and thanked me.
(I later took it to my French class and they ripped it to shreds – but agreed it was better to have my words and my mistakes than to have had it professionally translated. They said it wasn't too terrible and I didn't insult anyone. Sigh….)
Our renewal date was Feb. 17. I went to the mairie on the 20th and asked if our new cards had arrived.
The maire said, no, but not to worry. Have patience.
I went back on March 17; it was now a month past due.
The maire said he hadn't heard anything, but don't worry. Have patience.
I went back in April, explaining that we were going to Italy and we no longer had legal French status…. Could he find out the status of our renewal, please.
He said we just needed to wait, these things take time and not to worry. If I ran into problems, call his office. Have patience.
My neighbor, who is a good friend of the maire, told me he likely was just working within the system the French way.
My way, the American (and British) way, is to rattle cages until the task is accomplished…. Squeaky wheel and all that.
The French way is to let it take its course and be patient. It is 'en cours' - in the system, being handled…. Everyone understands that and accepts it.
I decided I could no longer 'nag' the maire…. I started looking for other reasons to go to his office, any trivial question that I could legitimately ask him for advice on.
Then, while I was there, I would casually ask if he'd heard.
He's laugh and say 'non'.
Finally I got the request for our health coverage renewal.
We couldn't renew it without legal standing – or a letter from the maire saying it was 'en cours'.
I went back to the mairie with the documents request from CPAM.
That triggered action.
One arm of the government needed documents that another arm had to produce.
Now he could talk to people on my behalf with a true purpose.
Phone calls were made.
Of course, this was now August when half the country is on holiday and the other half wants to be.
Still, the pressure was on…. My CPAM deadline was Sept. 15.
And we still had no idea if we were going to get the one-year or the 10-year.
I got the call this afternoon.
We drove to the mairie, wondering if I was going to have to start the renewal process in 3 months….. Or 9 years and 3 months.
It's 9 years and 3 months.
We have our 10-year Carte de Residence.
We are most happy.
A little celebratory dinner is in order, I think.
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Mozzarella and Basil
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1/2 fresh mozzarella ball
8 large fresh basil leaves
4 tbs ketchup
2 tbs sherry
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
1 tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Chicken: With a sharp knife make a long slit in the edge of the chicken breast – cutting horizontally and being careful not to cut through the other side. Make the cut on the 'straight' edge of the breast. You should have a pocket the shape of the breast with 1/2 inch of 'uncut' chicken around 3 sides. Slice the mozzarella as thinly as possible, divide and fit into each pocket. Place the basil on top of the cheese, folding it in to fit. Wrap entire breast with kitchen string to hold it together.Grill on barbecue for 5 – 8 minutes per side or until done or bake in oven for 25 minutes at 400F or until done, basting frequently with barbecue sauce.
Barbecue sauce: Put all ingredients for sauce in a bowl and whisk well to combine.
I can put that 3 inch thick folder away for almost 10 years…..
Think of all the paper and ink I'm going to save!
Excuse while I do the Happy Dance again….