It's 2023 and I am realizing that we have way too much going on for me to be able to document it all as fast as I would like to so I am going to try to only commit to monthly written summaries (but I am posting weekly wrap up videos to YouTube if you want more week to week details.)
Since finally getting the keys to the house in Nov 2022, we've pretty much only been tearing up the house and surrounding yard...It's definitely a bit overwhelming and depressing at times but we're just chipping away at the to-do list with help from local craftspeople.
What have we accomplished to this point? - at the house:
1. Removed several eye sores around the yard including the wood foundation to something that was on the north side, the incredibly disgusting "cat house" that was adjacent to the well on the north side, a giant juniper that was growing in the east side (front) garden, the concrete foundation to the former carport that the previous property owners took with them, the tall juniper growing on the south side, and a bunch of misc yard clear out and clean up.
2. Gutted the back of the house which includes removing the back wall of the main room, bringing the bathroom back to stone walls (basically), and tearing up the floors in the hall, bathroom, and toilet room. We have also removed the back 1/3 of the ceiling in the main room to open up the upstairs/mezzanine space.
3. Reopened doors in/from the salon. Since we are restructuring the bathroom and closing off the door from the original hall to "my room," we needed to open a "new" entry to my room which we ended up putting in the salon, adjacent to the fireplace. While breaking through that wall, we actually discovered there was and old passageway in that exact location so we'll be restoring that as part of our renovations. There was also evidence (in the barn) of an old door from the salon into the barn so we decided to reopen that passageway as well to make it possible for Francis to access his workshop from the house.
4. We started making the barn more functional by adding the passage into the house, a window on the south side, and a back door on the west side. We've also poured a full reinforced concrete pad which will be better suited for all of the workshop equipment.
5. Started work in the kitchen which is basically just removing the wall that went to the utility room and the ceiling in that area so we can see what we're dealing with. Originally, we weren't planning to do much to the kitchen but... yeah... Once Francis mapped out a digital rendering of the house, it became painfully obvious that the kitchen was too small relative to the rest of the house. In choosing to lose the hallway and make the bathroom larger, we resolved the claustrophobic bathroom. Similarly, we quickly decided to tear down the existing wall between the utility room and the kitchen and push that wall back so the door to the carport on that side will now go into the kitchen and there will be another door just to the right of that which will go into a much smaller pantry/laundry area. There was also a double basin sink in the former utility room which we have decided to replace and will be installing a deeper utility sink/tub in the carport, just to the right of the door into the kitchen.
What else is new?
1. We've both received health care coverage! This is huge and was much easier for Francis than for me but I am happy to report that we are now BOTH covered health-wise. The system here is VERY different than the US but I am not complaining because it is mostly FREE - the way I feel basic health care *should* be. My diabetes also falls under their list of 100% covered diseases so anything related to that will be fully covered (after I see a diabetologist which, unfortunately, can't happen until July!) For comparison, with my employer sponsored health insurance, I had to pay about $1,000 for my insulin pump and probably around $200-300 per month for insulin and supplies *after* my insurance paid what they would cover!
2. I was laid off and his employer announced global layoffs... I was laid off in the middle of November while on an extended leave of absence. This was not a big surprise but still hurt. Francis' employer just announced global layoffs in January and they've already been completed in the US but international employment laws are different and we have yet to see if Francis will be impacted. We're hoping for the best.
Basically more of the same... we've decided to gut the toilet room downstairs. We'll reuse the toilet and sink in the upstairs toilet room that will be added but we'll get new things for the main one downstairs. We're gutting the kitchen and the rest of the utility room. This will give us an opportunity to add insulation to the exterior walls in that space and improve our energy efficiency. We have an electrician, a wood worker, a tile worker, and someone coming to start looking at the septic situation. We would also like to reinforce the barn walls a bit more and better isolate that space from the elements/pests. We need to add/improve the drainage/water run off around the house and, of course, start creating our potager!! My other major task (to start asap) is training for my French drivers license - because, yes, I have to redo it from scratch here since California is one of the states that DO NOT have an agreement with France (Thanks Cali!) and it needs to be done in French AND in a manual car (unless I want to be restricted to driving automatics only.) So...yeah...that should be fun... Cherry on top is that it costs about 1,000!! Yay me... OH! yeah...AND, finally, we need to get married!
Again, for WEEKLY wrap ups, check out my YouTube Channel. It's faster to voice record and put together short video updates than wordsmith what I want to say on a regular basis. As stated, I will try to post a similar summary on a monthly basis for those who prefer reading something.
Thanks for reading and I'll catch you up next month!
I was born at Stanford Hospital and have always lived within about 30 miles of there. This is where I'm documenting my move from CA, USA to the South West of France.