Paul Hemmett did know what he was doing when he crashed through the three foot thick stone wall. But I couldn’t watch. Too scary! Now the new renovation and the original cottage were one. Something the locals call a longere (or long house).
Paul created a beautiful pine door and a ramp (the two halves of our Longere weren’t quite compatible) rather than steps in the little hall between what would become our bedroom and the kitchen/dining room. If you look closely you can see our grand fireplace Paul also created behind Mike in the kitchen. Reg now had his balcony office above the kitchen (where a great company called Carredec had installed a gorgeous oak paneled kitchen) and I had a nice corner of the bedroom for my computer, a quiet place to write my fiction.
So maybe this is a good place to pause and consider again the title to this piece “Living French Is Easy.” In all likelihood, you haven’t seen much evidence of how easy everything has been. I guess it’s one of those ‘you had to be there’ things. Yes, we sometimes wondered if it would all work out… and it did. Yes, we made many decisions about the construction of our dream home… and they worked. Yes, we practically lived in the DIY stores looking for just the right accessories (took forever to find the light fixtures for the kitchen but Mr. Bricolage -that’s Mr. Do-It-Yourself – had the perfect pair.) And we found our appliances in Gitem, a super appliance store in nearby Callac,
But, truth be told, we wouldn’t have had it any other way. We were meeting all kinds of nice French folks and learning the language as we went along. And we were absorbing the French “attitude” as well. To sum it up: “What’s the big hurry? Why don’t we have a little wine and think about this?” And so we did.
Also, we were now taking French lessons with our wonderful French teacher Claudine Herve who is patience personified. And also a mighty fine French teacher. Happily we and another English couple took lessons together at Claudine’s family’s lovely home. And thus we met Claudine’s delightful parents, Marie-Therese and Yves Herve. You see how it works? It’s like a grape vine where you make connections.
Gradually our old American habits were being replaced by the easy-going French way. And we were also learning a culture somewhat different to our own. Before long we no longer prefaced every sentence in French with an apology for our poor pronunciation (BTW, that’s a French word! Most English words ending in ‘tion’ are actually French.). We simply dove in for better or worse.
By summer of 2005 we were finished. It was time to plan a party for our neighbors who had put up with cement trucks and Mount Crowder for almost two years! And, of course, the crew who had done the work.
Invitations were hand delivered and received gratefully! When the date arrived, so did the French with flowers and chocolate! (The French would NEVER bring a bottle of wine to your party. They wouldn’t want you to think your wine cellar wasn’t adequate!)
You gotta love the French – for all their casual life-style, they are always sensitive to the feelings of others!