The Guest Rooms

Looks pretty bleak, doesn’t it, like maybe the only guest is that crazy aunt you’ve heard rumors about. Fortunately this is a before shot.

Here is the same or a similar window from the inside. Note mildew, lambris ceiling and walls that never did look very nice. When they could afford a maid, she lived here.

I have to apologize for the haphazard nature of this post. I’m upgrading and changing computers and frankly, it is a nightmare. The new operating system has taken over. All my tidy files are trashed in favor of date shot date uploaded or who knows what, but it’s like Catalina decided to play 52 Card Pickup with my pictures. If I find better shots than these I will update the post. For now, I’ll have a full house at Christmas, so I’d better show you the guest rooms while they are more or less tidy.

There are two of these rooms, almost mirror images of one another. Some time after the main house was built, wings were added. The room in the top photo was a maid’s room and was given paneling at the windows. The room just above was never used and never detailed. A you can see, once we removed the ceiling covering we decided to stay with the exposed beams. Frankly I think the workers would have refused to cover them up.

The photo above shows the outside wall. The one below shows the wall facing back into the house. I don’t have a photo of the nasty peeling linoleum that the guys removed. Those floor boards are original to the house; I don’t know why they were ever covered.

The landing toward a guest room.
From the landing toward the other guest room, during construction.
The same spot, now.

So from the landing — seen here but I’ll also upload a floor plan, if I can find one — you would enter either a bedroom or, as you see below, a bathroom. Then beyond, for no apparent reason, there would be a door to a little tacked-on room. I could have retained the bigger bedroom and used the wings as bathrooms. However I didn’t like the idea of chewing up one wall with circulation, plus putting the bedroom at the end gave it more privacy. Plus I thought it made sense of the space, removed the tacked-on vibe. Maybe I would choose differently now but, too late.

The former pink bathroom, with a new sink and Jacques communing with the local fauna.
Former bedroom, which became the bathroom you see below. The drop in ceiling height was made to accommodate wiring and plumbing in the attic. This room became the bathroom you see below, plus a small laundry/utility room. Each floor has a backstage space.

Here is a progress shot of the other new bathroom. Toilets: before there was one, in the utility room. Even that was a step up from the outhouse with its wooden seats — yeah, family style — and huge stinky collection pit. To the left will be/now is a shower. The sink is on the opposite wall.

One guest room now — the curved window above. Below is a small apartment in what were the porcherie offices.
One room, with a mix of things inherited, bought and won at auction.
The other room, functional but not at all finished.
And the view, which I liked too much to relegate it to a bathroom and which, to my mind, is not as well framed by the larger windows.

Jacques Report

Yes, Jacques has been digging. It’s okay: the mice have found the kitchen garden. This is war!

In general the garden is doing pretty well. We are eating all the tomatoes we can stand and reducing the rest to sauce, which we are freezing for winter.
Sometimes things grow where I wish they wouldn’t. You see morning glories burying my nonblooming jasmine. I hope when it clears out I will find the anemones I planted this spring.
To get back to my little wild man, I was prowling the potager, wishing Julien had taken maybe twice as many tomatoes home with him when, underneath the plastic sheeting, I could hear the pitter patter of little feet. I had noticed that something was actually eating a tomato — not a bird or a worm or snail, no, actually eating it. And now here, on the opposite side of the garden, was an actual culprit. No no no: I’ll share, but this was getting out of control. I had no choice but to say the magic words: “Jacques, come here!”

Now, Jacques comes when he figures there is something in it for him. The rest of the time, forget it. Maybe he heard the scratching too. He was there in a flash, pouncing on the little moving bump. Yes!, though I think the bump got away. Since then Jacques has been on permanent mouse patrol. He actually goes through the plants, nudging leaves aside so he can sniff and peer through the foliage.

Sometimes he digs. Yesterday I decided to harvest some potatoes. The tomatoes and squash are fighting for space and the potatoes were looking a little peaked anyway, so why not pull them out. It turns out those little shit rodents were eating the potatoes, too, but only from one plant. Go figure. So of the half dozen plants I pulled out, with a little canine assistance, only that one hole held any real interest for him. I’d pull up a plant, he’d sniff, then look at me. “So why are we here?” Then he’d return to this spot, where he spent a good hour, pretty much the way you see him.

I think he wore himself out. He’s been pretty sedentary for the last 12 hours or so. But I’ll head back out there this afternoon, it being tomato time. I’m sure he’ll be right there with me.

Jacques Loves Summer

He does. Who can blame him? He is sitting on a picnic-blanket-sized towel made by an old friend, who is reviving the handwoven towel craft in rural Turkey. I took this on the terrace the other day — our first sunny day in quite a while. And if you find Jennifer’s Hamam (jenifershamam — If your Instagram feed is a full as mine, you’ll want to find it, look at all her photos, and like mine. Vote early and vote often!) on Instagram and vote for this picture, I just might win a few towels to help us all enjoy our summers a little more. No pressure. He’s so cute, I might win anyway.

Jacques Report

Bonus points if you figured out right away that that’s not Jacques. It’s his fault the little guy is there, though.

It being nearly April, everything around here is popping. Jacques had me up at 4:30 this morning — he fooled me into thinking he had a tummy ache — which is how I discovered the meaning of the expression “up with the birds.” It was at that point when you can just tell that the sun will soon appear. The birds are going nuts. You never hear that much from them in daylight.

I determined that Jacques was faking me out — he took off running the second the door was opened — and went in to make coffee. Then I had to go out again. Jacques had cornered the fluffy white psychopath from across the street. Unlike the little sport killer, Jacques thinks the thing to do with prey is bark at them. So he barked and barked until the psychokiller found an escape route. It made Jacques’ morning, but I wanted to go back to bed. I left the front door open. Jacques likes to hang out at the entrance, keeping watch over his domain.

Thus the bird. He found his way clear up to the top of the house and into my bathroom, the most remote corner at the top of the house. There he perched and probably pooped until he flew out the skylight that I opened for him. At least Jacques didn’t bark.

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Jacques Report

Messy Jacques
As there is absolutely nothing going on at the house, I will give you an update on Jacques.
He is six months old now and is making his move into adulthood. In a couple of days we’ll be cutting that short, so to speak. Still, I expect him to keep busy in his newly self-appointed role of house guardian. He does his best to be where he can keep an eye on both me and the door. At night he generally chooses the door. Basically he walks on me until I let him move downstairs.
You can see what’s going on outside. He is perpetually covered in burrs. He smells from rolling in dubious substances. He patrols the yard, keeping the ducks out of his pond and the leaves on his trees absolutely still. He flattens molehills; I can’t wait to see what will happen if he actually finds a mole. The other day he had a great time with our pond rat, almost caught him, too.
He gets tougher by the day but still is devoted to me and to Hortense, his big drink of water on the other side of town.

Jacques Report

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So here he is today. I think he has doubled in size since I brought him home, what, a couple of weeks ago? Notice how he’s not holding still? That’s typical. I believe I got this shot just as he was about to jump up and check out the iPhone. I am making chicken soup for dinner; he may have thought a bit of that lovely poulet noir was attached.

The word for this dog is “mignon.” Fashionably dressed young women leave their shops to run out onto the sidewalk to tell me how cute he is. “Il est si mignon!” It’s one of my new standard phrases, along with “Quel age a-t-il?” Okay, I knew that one, but I didn’t have “how old is he” on the tip of my tongue. Jacques is teaching me French.

If you move to France you have to give up on the idea that your life will function in an efficient manner. You could run into a strike or a demonstration. It could be Sunday or some part of your local merchant’s day or lunchtime off. Or, well, you could have a French puppy. Jacques thinks every moment is another opportunity to play. Today at the flower shop I stood in line and tried to hold my purchases as Jacques tried to consume the nearby tulips. I tried to sweep the floor as Jacques tried to eat the broom; when Moses arrives in June we’ll see about posting video of that. If I were holding Jacques in my lap right now, he’d be walking on the keyboard. He is great fun. He is teaching me to be more French.