June was mainly spent back in the San Francisco Bay Area
What have we accomplished to this point? - at the house:
1. We've started putting up the "fancy fence" around the potager area. I knew I wanted a "cute" potager and when I found this rustic picket fence, it was perfect. I initially ordered 2 rolls because I was only thinking about enclosing the "front" of the garden with it but, after some discussion, we think it'll look nice to enclose the north and east side of the potager with them (since the west and south side have the main wire fencing). We're using reclaimed pallets for the gates and we've found some old hardware that we'll use to make it function and, when it's all said and done, I think it will look pretty awesome.
2. We're finishing up the walls, ceilings, and electrical in the kitchen and utility room. Work on the house is slowing down now that we've entered summer. It's hot and folks are taking vacations. That being said, we have walls in the utility room and in the kitchen and the kitchen even has a ceiling! LOL. It's basically ready for cabinets and I was hoping those would start in June but, no such luck - whomp whomp. In any case, the kitchen also has it's primer paint coat and really is just waiting on cabinets and some lingering electrical.
3. The garden is growing. I was in California for most of June but Francis sent me updates and boy was the garden growing. I was a little concerned because I found the rabbit poops right before I left but they seem to be leaving things alone, at least for now. I returned at the end of June to monster zucchini plants and the tomatoes are finally starting to look decent too. Some of the other plants aren't doing too great but this is my first year and I am learning as I go. Next year's garden will be better - I promise.
4. We have MORE birds in the barn. About 1 week into my vacation, Francis said we had another clutch of birds in the barn. Upon a bit of research, apparently house sparrows will typically lay 2 clutches - live and learn. So, in the first clutch, I think only 1 made it because we found 1 dead one and our contractors also mentioned that they found another one :( With the second clutch, their fledge day was a day when we were there and we started with 3 in the morning. One got stuck on the floor and I was able to get it and put it outside. Another one was coming and going seemingly easily and the third was flying and looking for a way out with the help of the one that was coming and going relatively easily. The next day, there were no signs of anyone so we are assuming (hoping) they all made it outside this time.
5. My aquarium is settling down. When I left for the states, my poor aquarium was *covered* in brown algae. I looked into it and apparently it's a very common "phase" for planted tanks so I decided to just leave and hope it worked itself out. Upon my return, there was significantly less algae AND I was the proud mom of 4 snails! LOL. They must have hitchhiked in on the plants that I had bought online. I don't mind snails at all but some people do consider them pests and try to keep their tanks snail free. Now, there are hundreds of baby snails but, like all ecosystems, their population will equilibrize according to food availability so I'm not too worried and, right now, they are fun to watch.
What else is new?
I spent 3 weeks in the states!!
1. Spent time with friends and family. I left from Biarritz on June 7th, arrived in SFO later on the 7th thanks to time travel going west and was picked up by my son and my ex who brought me to San Jose to stay with them for my 3 week stay. I borrowed my old Mazda back to drive to see friends in Oregon, got to see some former colleagues in the bay, and spent time with my parents, uncle, aunt, and son in the Bay Area. It was a pretty laid back trip since I didn't have much planned so I was able to just bum around and relax a bit.
2. Got my International Driver's Permit. One of my errands was to get an International Driver's Permit. With my CA driver's license, this will permit me to drive in France for 1 year so getting that was important.
3. Got my new ATM card. Before leaving, I realized that my ATM card was expiring and thankfully I have a friend collecting all of my US mail so she had my new card waiting for me. This was important because my ATM card is how I withdraw cash here in France!
4. Google Voice and Google Fi... Many of you may know that I am definitely a Google Girl. I have my Chromebook, my pixel phone, all my online Google stuff and I just like Google - most of the time. Trying to make a long story short, I've had my phone number FOREVER and, at some point while in Cali, I ported my number to Google Fi. When I moved to France, I was able to use it for a little while but, when I stayed in France, I had to make a change because their service isn't technically available here unless you are just visiting/travelling. So, I ended up porting my number to Google Voice and it was great...until I went back to Cali. I spoke with their customer service and was told I could port back to Google Fi while on my trip and back to voice after which is...kinda true. I landed in the Bay and one of the first things I did was request to port my number back to Google Fi. 24 hours later - done, no problem and it was great. Got on the plane, arrived back in France and tried to port it from Fi back to Voice and this is where I hit all kinds of issues. Again, long story short, I was able to port it back to voice BUT ONLY FROM VOICE and I had to pay a $25 fee to do so. There's a lot more to the story but, the bottom line is that, yes - it was feasible, no - it was not easy unless you know how to do it, and maybe - I'll do it again when I go out the next time but I don't know...I'll need to think about it.
1. Continue to learn French with Duolingo. I'm still keeping up with my Duolingo. I'm unsure if I will continue to use the paid version of it though because I'd like to start practicing in other ways, for example, watching YouTube in French or similar. I've cancelled my renewal in December so, we'll see what happens at that time.
2. Continue to work on being able to pass the French driving theory test...in French... Yes, I'm still working on getting a point where I can pass the driving theory exam in French. Did you know that reverse lights are not mandatory on cars out here?? I had no idea! LOL. I am learning a lot while going through all the practice exams and I will say that it seems like French road signs and signals communicate WAY more than in the US...or maybe it's just been so long since I've taken theory that I've forgotten all the "hidden" meanings of things! Obviously, I should compare notes with my son who just got his driving license in California :D
3. Apply for a new passport in my current name. This had to wait until after my travels but since I don't plan to travel again for another year at least, it was time to send my passport away for a new passport in my old (maiden) name. The name conventions in France are VERY different to the US, at least IMHO. Folks always use their birth names for important documents and you can also indicate a usage name if you are married. When I got married in the states, I changed everything to my new, married name. When we split, I kept using that name. When we divorced, I was still using that name. I didn't *have* to return to my birth name. That caused A LOT of confusion here because that, apparently, just doesn't happen. So, now that we've figured that out, I'm getting all of my US stuff changed back to my birth/maiden name starting with my passport.
4. Get an x-ray and ultrasound of my shoulder. Yeah, just before leaving for Cali, I did something to my shoulder. No idea what but I woke up and couldn't put a bra on because my right arm could not go behind my back *at all* let alone bend to the middle of my back to latch my bra. Doing things in front of my body was fine so I opted to go to the states and hope it got better on it's own. Unfortunately, it did not. Upon my return to France, I saw a doc right away who believes that I have tendonitis. He prescribed a round of pain meds and anti inflammatory and, if I didn't see improvement, gave me a referral for imaging. Even though costs are very reasonable here, there is a wait time and I can't get an imaging appointment until the end of July so we'll have to wait to see what's going on there. In the meantime, I'm trying my best to take it easy but I like to be busy so...that's proving difficult.
Again, for WEEKLY wrap ups, check out my YouTube Channel. It's faster to video record with voice and put together short updates than wordsmith what I want to say on a regular basis. As stated last month, 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.