mardi 15 juillet 2008

Day 1: Scaffolding and homeless bees

On the ground.

"Why haven't you returned my calls?" was the first thing Joachim said to me, when they arrived in the garden around 11:30 this morning. I figured as much.

"You have to call the home number. My cell phone doesn't receive signal here." Oh. Enough said, never mind, say no more, say no more.

All is forgiven, there is only joy to see three men and know there was a truck outside.

Joachim. Georges. José. Since they are Portuguese, you pronounce the "J" in José "Zho". Georges just adopted the French equivalent. They seem like pleasant people to have around for the next half year.

What's that? You thought it was going to be three months, two for the exterior and one for the interior? Oh, well no, actually. A job done right takes time, you know.
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Bees

So, down came the little shelter for the no longer existing water softening system (much needed, still!) in the entry courtyard on the kitchen wall. When I returned from taking a paper to the mairie that is needed for our approval (remember that we have the mayor's approbation to start ahead of official approval from the authority that approves projects in the historical zone of the Château de la Roche- Guyon), I saw Georges looking as pale as I have ever seen him (since late this morning).

He pointed to the wreck of the bump on the house and said, barely audibly, "Bees."

I tried my best to make light of it, assuring them that the bees are disturbed because, clearly, they had their nest there (I wondered from where the tens of bees in the lavender come, and now I guess I have my answer) and told them that as long as they kept to their business, the bees would keep to their own, which was trying to figure out where their home had gone. I think they wanted me to spray them to oblivion, but I told them I couldn't anyway because bees are a protected species. Were I to call the firemen to come and get rid of them, they would have to refuse. Politely, but firmly.

"Really, there are tons of them in the lavender and never has any one of us been stung. Ever." He looked very doubtful, considering the bees buzzing around the debris.

"There are at least 20. There were only 8 or so before," he peeped. I smiled brightly and encouragingly and limped back to the house.
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The politics of the corner evergreen

For the evergreen at the corner of the house, they are making an effort to remove only as much as necessary to be able to do the work. They think it should just go. Audouin agrees that it should be cut to just under the balcony, but he would like to save it because it screens the view into the garden from the gate. Personally, it wouldn't make me sad to see it go because it isn't very attractive and it traps moisture.

One evening, Audouin and I went to get the crystal wine glasses my mother gave us -- those that happen to be stored in the cupboard on the inside of the wall behind the evergreen -- for a dinner party we were hosting, and we discovered that the cardboard boxes were covered in mold from the humidity. It took me a little while to realize that the evergreen was responsible.

I am convinced we can replace it with something more attractive that allows better air circulation, all while offering us the privacy to which we are accustomed, and Joachim understands now that it is better to proceed judiciously and politically, with patience, petit à petit, pas par pas, bringing Audouin to the conclusion for himself.

Tomorrow, I am off to get my hair cut, at long last. Audouin seconded the motion as soon as I brought it up. I am just sick of coloring my hair already, and I know I will cave in and do it again and continue in the vicious circle of color - love it - regret it - color - love it - regret it - color... ad infinitum.
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