Country Life Report

Here you go, faithful readers. Do I sit around all day reading the essays of Montaigne and sipping rosé? I do not. Well okay, sometimes, but today I’m chipping crepi from the barn wall. How cool is that?

Crepi is like stucco, except it’s thick and spread over stone instead of chicken wire. Every so often it starts to fall apart and should be replaced. But not here. The plan is to leave the stone exposed.

The money from the sale of the rental house has come in. Eight months to close the sale and about eight minutes to spend the proceeds. I have shutters that are being held in place with bungee cords: time for new shutters. I have this truly hideous hole in the wall, see above, that will become a larger and more sightly opening, maybe even with a garage door. The apartment roof is going green, in its own way, sprouting all manner of growth on the tiles: time for a new roof. And did I mention that the guy who took away my handrails never brought them back? So, new handrails at the stairs. A hefty tax payment. My summer kitchen. Trees in the front garden. Gravel drive and pathways. I do believe that’s all the money and then some.

The good news is, this work is cosmetic, basically all finishes and furnishings. Longer-suffering blog buddies surely remember the five-figure sums that were buried in walls and under floors. This time, you’ll see it. Or I’ll see it. You guys will be thinking yeah, so, a room with a pizza oven. Oh, well. I take my pleasure where I can.

While I was wandering around trying to figure out how to finance my ambitious to-do list, I noticed that the crepi was starting to fall off, all on its own. So, why not, I spent a couple of hours helping it, chipping off bits here and there. I could do more of that. It’s kind of fun. In the end I’ll have to hire someone to get the upper walls, but that’s later.

The good news is, summer may have arrived. It took its sweet time and this sad little bunch of grapes is an example of how my produce production has taken a hit. That said, grapes, the first from vines I planted maybe two or three years ago. The cherries are gone. I may have to adjust my expectations, just think of them as bird food. By way of thanks, maybe, they are now hopping around on the ground; I hope that means they are munching bugs. They ate every single cherry, there being nothing else available to them. So, okay….

The tomatoes are happily throwing out leaves, which Julien is dutifully chopping off. I might have half a dozen tiny tomatoes on two dozen plants. At this point everything else in the kitchen garden is just leaves. We shall see.

Fortunately birds don’t like apples, at least not so far. I also have just the beginnings of other fruit: peaches and plums, mainly. No apricots, figs or persimmons. The pomegranate? I don’t know, yet. Lots of pretty flowers, though.

And that’s the news.

18 thoughts on “Country Life Report

  1. For the cherries, try hanging CDs in the branches, and as ripening starts try a portable radio to put off the marauding hordes.
    I remember chipping off crepi….so satisfying when a whole chunk of it slithers to the ground.
    I have a theory that to do up one house requires another to be sold so that the proceeds can be immediately liquidated….

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    1. I’ll try the CDs. They work in the potager but those are big trees and those guys do like their cherries. Maybe if I just keep a corner for me?

      OMG, the crepi. You work a loose section, then go do another. Then somehow, when you work your way back to the first section, it’s come loose and you can do another round. I had no idea it was so easy. I’ll do as much as I can, up to where my ladders don’t reach.

      This place could probably eat the proceeds from two houses. Immediately. I didn’t even mention the work that is not being done.

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      1. A neighbour kept guinea fowl and used to put a few of them in cages underneath his cherry trees….he reckoned that it worked.
        Just think…something else to start up…breeding guinea fowl! Unless you can borrow some….
        You are going to enlarge that doorway…and then you are going to point the stonework?
        I was fine with the crepi up to what I could reach, but not so happy up a ladder leaning back to bash it with a mallet to loosen stubborn stuff.
        I do look back with pleasure at our time doing houses…but am equally glad to have retired from it!


        1. I keep thinking I’ve retired from it. Then a shutter slumps to uselessness or a wooden door cracks or or or… At some point I’ll just let it go, but not yet. One thing for sure, as sure as anything in my life is, I’m done with new projects. This one has drained my ambition right to the bottom of the tank.

          But yeah, that concrete goes, to be replaced by a regulation-width double-car opening, properly detailed and repointed. Don’t know about birds, though. I thought about quail for a while, but between Jacques and the cats — both super-resourceful when it comes to chasing little moving objects — I don’t know how long they’d last.

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          1. Thinking of the glass of rose and Montaigne, the idea of all this is to be able to relax and enjoy it all…so follow the advice of Ronsard
            Boivons, le jour n’est pas long que le doy
            Je perds, amy, mes soucis, quand je boy
            Donne moi viste un jambon sous ta treille
            Et la bouteille grosse a merveille
            Glou-gloute aupres de moy
            Aveq la tasse et la rose vermeille,
            Il faut chasser l’emoy.

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          2. Ronsard, my kind of guy. I have found a couple of less literary versions of him who were still alive, though not for as long as I would have liked. If you should find another, with a few years ahead of him and, well, preferably not deaf and definitely not a monk, send him my way.

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  2. I relate to this post because I am always being called “decrepit.” Come to think of it, the verb for the removal of that sorta-stucco should be “decrepit,” as in Lynn went out and started to decrepit the garage. OK, enough of that foolishness. You probably expect me to mock your gardening. Of course I will but in deference to the sensitive nerve endings exposed by having whipped out your wallet so often, I shall mock privately. There was no mention of the yuzu tree – I hope it’s thriving. My grapes (2) have yet to show fruit so you are ahead of me there. Our summer continues much hotter than usual but fortunately the evenings and mornings are cool enough that veggies bloom, pollinate nd produce well, especially the cucumbers, tomatoes and most recently the Japanese eggplants. I was tasked with building an extension of the veggie cages to house an additional run of eggplant. I have no idea what we will do with all the produce but the neighbors have been super friendly of late. I’m not entirely sure what you have against Montaigne and rosé but I think I’ll take that over chipping the crépi. Well, OK, I can see avoiding the rosé but you could switch to nice red. As always, in awe of your courage, commitment and energy. Significant scratches for Jacques.


  3. Well, Google Translate tells me that if I “decrepit” a building I disappoint it — an interesting, rather shamanic interpretation, I think, but there you have it. Plus I doubt it. That stuff is like an old, ratty coat that doesn’t fit any more and doesn’t keep the building warm, anyway. I’m sure my thank-you note is in the mail. Or the ether, to arrive during my next shamanic journey. Either way is fine.

    I gave up on the yuzu tree, or maybe it gave up on me. Same with the mandarine orange. Citrus is just not an option here — though, in a few years, global warming may change that. I replaced it with the pomegranate, which is happy to take its place. The persimmon is taking hold, though I well believe your assertion that I’ll see my centennial year before I see any fruit it produces.

    Montaigne is good. He lived in the countryside, you know. That’s how he had time to write all those essays. Vauban did, too. When Louis XIV ordered him to move to Versailles, he refused — and got away with it! That’s how good a military architect he was. George Sand lived in the countryside. Everybody thinks Paris is the place to be, but the more I look, the more I find people like me, who may spend time in Paris, but who know that a cracker box apartment is no place to live, much less be productive, and who pretty much stay away. The life out here is pretty good.

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  4. Thank goodness for crepi! Can you believe there are still people arguing about racism “over there”?
    The birds here leave fruits alone except for the figs. The blackbirds adore figs. They pick at them on and off the tree.

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  5. So, the figs are bird food, too. That’s bad news.

    Yes, I believe it. Though actually it’s not racism, it’s overzealous political correctness on one side and overzealous fear mongering on the other. The Fox wackos picked up this crazy term that they must have known no one would understand, so they could define it in whatever scary way they wanted. So now if you’re somewhere in the middle, politically, everybody hates you and figures you’re some kind of evil from the other side. Things are pretty polarized and good sense is clearly not prevailing. You and I are finding the truth in the old Chinese saying, “To live happy, live hidden.” The French countryside has long been a good place to be, but especially so, now.

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