French Country

My life in France is not what I expected.


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Kitchen light question


Okay, let Brexit go for a bit. I have a real emergency here.

This is the light over my kitchen island. I bought it at a great shop right in the center of Melle, in case you ever get out this way. I’ve forgotten the name but you can’t miss it. The place is hugely successful and it’s easy to see why. I can’t wait to go back.

This is the emergency. Do you see that little chunk of cheesy metal, stuck between the rosette and the fixture? I guess it is there to hide power cords. It could be uglier, I know, but could it be better? Are there better choices? Could I get away with nothing in that spot?

My electrician will return tomorrow. If I want him to take the fixture down and try again, I should let him know right away.


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Small but mighty

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I guess I should be showing you my pretty new Lacanche cooker. Two ovens, built – in grille. It’s nice. The thing is, for me this is the exciting bit. This is where my electrician has spent the day, laying on the stone floor, getting this puppy wired.

We don’t have natural gas here and I didn’t want to hassle with propane refills, so I opted for an induction cooktop. No electricity,  no dinner. As you can see, I now have electricity to my stove.

The end of this endless project is near.


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They did what?

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This is me in Dubrovnik, doing some accompanying. Weird news this morning, this Brexit thing. I have a fair number of British expat friends who have been putting down roots in France. Suddenly all the rules have changed — not for me so much as for them. Good luck, you guys. I hope things sort themselves out in your favor.


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Friday evening on the Metro

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We were invited to dinner across town, so we hopped in the Metro and look what we found.

You may have been reading about the chaos that is Paris, these days.  Strikes and demonstrations by cab drivers,  farmers, transportation workers, miscellaneous disgruntled people,  you name it. Add to that the shootings and now, this soccer thing, really, it’s bad.

Behind me are lager louts, lager cans in hand, shouting at the top of their lungs. Before me you see ordinary folks who just want to get home for dinner, realizing that for the next month,  this is their life.

The Parti Socialiste, who run Paris, and everyone who thought importing tens of thousands of drunken budget travelers,  all at one time, would be a great idea, should now and forever lose their rights to limos and motorcades. There is much to love about this city but they seem hell-bent on destroying it. Not long after this soccer thing ends a major cross – town transportation artery will be closed. The mayor’s own environmental impact reports say this will create utter chaos. But of course she will have a motorcade. She will never have to deal with it.

It is good to have a house in the country.


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Life in its current condition

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This sort of thing, I kid you not, is roughly what I had in mind when I moved to France. Clean, simple, a little elegant, a little unexpected-but-nice. That was it. I’d get my photographic technical chops down. I’d always have my camera handy when I wanted it — not like now, when I am in Paris and the camera is hundreds of miles away, thus forcing my to break out the mobile phone or take no photo at all. No, I’d have it together.

I was going to be an amateur still life photographer. I’d have my pretty house in the countryside. It would have a garden and a potager from which I would select lovely items to present in a pristine fashion, then photograph. If that ever felt a little small, I’d vary the routine with some landscape shots. Maybe I would learn to play the piano. What a great life. If only.

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This was yesterday and is actually a little more like my life right now. No one is hurt. I think they’ll even save the wheel. But hitting a nail on the motorway was not fun. By the time I was towed to the garage all I could think was, it could be worse. The motorway wasn’t flooded, for example, nor was my house; a lot of people in France right now would happily trade places with me. I ground to a halt at the side of a busy road but I did not flip over. I did that once, a long time ago. I do not recommend it.

And the house? Well, like a snake, it is shedding its skin. Down at the far end they are popping a doorway through a wall, so my imaginary potager will have an imaginary potting shed to go with it. Soon enough I will be able to show you how it looks all shiny and new. Well, more of a matte finish and new to the 19th century. Some day. You might even find a piano inside.

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The move-in begins




Yes, the contractors are relinquishing a few spaces. Just a few around the edges, but even that is heaven. My handyman, Julien, and his wife Valerie are helping me move things around, set things up, all that.

If you have been reading for a long, long time you will remember when I bought the Hangitalls. I like them because I find them to be attractive, practical and a pleasant reminder of my life in Los Angeles. As you can see, I definitely need two.

Bit by bit, the house is wrapping up. It’s time to start thinking about the garden.