While I take a break visiting family, step back with me in time to 3 years ago, when we were homeless, to the beginning of this project…. And all of our frustrations:
I have read that major house restoration projects can cause permanent rifts in an, otherwise stable, relationship.
Divorce, in other words.
I now understand how this happens.
Last Thursday we went to Bordeaux (a bit over an hour's drive) to look at cook tops, ovens and stoves. Whilst there, we glanced at tiles for floors, walls and counters.
They have lots of D.I.Y. stores in and around Bordeaux plus multiples of the same stores.
Mon mari bought a new nail gun.
He was happy.
Last Saturday we drove to Bordeaux to order the cook top (more on that later) and seriously look at tile for the floors, kitchen counters and bathroom.
We found lots of tiles, sinks, faucets, vanities, that we both liked.
We had a nice lunch.
All is good.
Last Tuesday we drove to Bordeaux to buy the tiles.
Everything I liked, everything I looked at, was out of stock and/or discontinued. I discovered, well into the third day of looking, that mon mari was not happy with my choice of color for the bathroom tiles, (too subtle for his taste).
I had not looked at other colors.
Please, someone, anyone, explain to me why I am told to buy whatever I like, then, once the selection is made, I'm told that he really doesn't like that color/style/whatever.
We left without tiles; but mon mari bought new scaffolding.
He was happy.
But things were getting tense.
We are trying, you see, to get all the 'running around' done before the closing so that after the closing (next Wed.) we can actually get to serious work.
Last Thursday we drove to Bordeaux, determined to buy the tiles come hell or high water!
We would get this done. There are lots and lots of stores. Surely we would find something we both liked, or found tolerable.
We established a plan of attack and off we went, with great purpose.
At the first store I found the kitchen tiles. I bought everything they had, which, unfortunately, was not enough.
They had wall tiles I loved for the bathroom, but not the floor. Mon mari did not like the floor tiles I chose.
We left with the kitchen tiles and went off to another location of the same store.
They had more kitchen tiles, but not enough…. so we ordered the rest. They had the bathroom tile, but not in the right color.
We went to another store.
Lots and lots of pretty tiles…. Expensive pretty tiles.
We had lunch.
We went to more stores.
Lots and lots of pretty tiles – especially in the colors I had originally wanted. But no wall tiles that I liked as well as the first for anywhere near the same price.
Finally, late in the afternoon, mon mari said, in a quiet, gentle voice: "Just pick something…. Anything!"
I calmly yanked out a panel of brilliant purple tiles with bright red flowers…. "This one!" I said, in a soft, subservient manner. "Floor to ceiling. 25 square meters. Order it."
And calmly, with great dignity, I walked out of the store.
He joined me in the car several minutes later.
We sat, not speaking (a good thing), for about 5 minutes.
He was ready to go home.
I knew we had to get it done and I couldn't face another whole day of it.
I told him to take me back to the first store; I would go in and handle it. He could stay in the car.
He decided, in the end, to come in with me. (Smart man.)
I went directly to the desk and asked to order tiles. I was then helped by the nicest, most industrious, willing, salesperson I have met in France.
Not only did she order the tiles, she understood what I wanted for the floor – not just technically understood, but grasped the effect I was looking for, ran around the store and found the perfect tile, buried somewhere, but with just enough in stock.
She double-checked my measurements, looked at the drawing, made sure we had the right glue, etc.
Explained why we should buy a 'Fidelity Card' for 9 euros which gave us 5% off of everything that we had bought that day at both stores…. Even on the stuff we ordered but hadn't paid for yet.
The icing on the cake? There was a guy selling hot churros just outside the door. We bought some to munch on whilst sitting in rush hour traffic getting out of Bordeaux. Nothing like hot, sugary, fatty dough to boost the spirits.
To top it off: THERE WAS NO RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC!!!!!
We're still married….. No one was injured.
But I'll be a lot more understanding the next time I hear about someone else's restoration debacle.
Why, you might wonder, is mon mari with me whilst selecting tiles? Stupid reason…. I can't back up the trailer…. that follows behind us wherever we go these days, to haul stuff…. like tiles….
Plus, he does live in the house; and if he's present, at least in body, when I choose something, he's not allowed to complain – ever.
Potato Gratin with Sage
2 medium potatoes, 10oz
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 oz Chedder or Gruyère,
10 large fresh sage leaves or lots of small ones
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan
Slice potatoes as thinly as possible with a sharp knife. Put 1/3 of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of small baking dish – just big enough to hold everything. Put 1/2 of the sage and 1/3 of the cheese on potatoes. Repeat layers once. Top with a layer of potatoes and final layer of cheese. Pour stock over all, cover and bake (400F, 200C) for 40 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
The sage continues …
Pray for us….