lundi 5 octobre 2009

The wrong window

Our bedroom window

But would it be as much
if they got something

I have been absent of late. I suppose I know why, but that goes beyond this blog to talk much about such things. I like to think that I have been careful to maintain a certain separation between all that is very personal and the public, while being truthful and speaking from what is real and important to me.

That's a little bit the problem. It is becoming unsatisfying because it is too careful, too superficial, unproductive.

It started when I began to take pictures in the garden of the work I was doing there to try to resurrect it, and then inserting them into wordprocessed documents to attach to a list of friends and family so that they could see what I was doing, otherwise, they couldn't see. What did it matter if they could, actually? If they wanted to, they could come, but I ask my sister for pictures of their work to make a patio so that I can see, so. Sometimes we're interested.

I didn't like doing this, though. I was never sure if everyone was interested, so I asked, and they said they were. Sometimes someone would write and ask why they hadn't had an update recently. This helped, but it didn't completely reassure me that I wasn't violating some rule of self-promotion and wandering into narcissism. I detest narcissism, as much as I dislike rivalry.

Then, my other sister suggested a blog. It would be, she told me, so much easier. The obvious thing to do to communicate with everyone about my garden and send news. I didn't do it right away -- I was afraid I wouldn't be as good as Julie Powell's The Julie/Julia Project, which my other sister, the first one, gave me for a birthday, and the proof that I am not: no book or movie contract yet --, and when I did, she said, "Oh! That's so 2005."

Oh. Late and unoriginal, as usual.

I couldn't even master's blog software. That's how I ended up on Blogspot, finally.

And still, my garden and my life didn't rise to Frances Mayes' memoir Under the Tuscan Sun, or Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. (Perhaps the problem is my last name?) I got sidetracked in politics, which my meager readership has steadfastly preferred, although the intimates are only interested in the house and garden, with one having a declared interest in the frogs only. (I also have a weakness for the frogs and the toads).

In short, it became a hodge-podge. A scrapbook. A place to take perspective on my own life and make it bearable in a distillation, where it had been a little too consuming and searing without the benefit of this process.

Then, in truth, politics became an obsession replacing my other obsessions. The garden went to seed. The work on the house began and went from great excitement and hope to greater frustration and fizzle as the workers proved themselves many things, except professional, competent and upstanding. I suppose I care greatly still because I feel so much like I don't anymore, and I can still throw a major fit. Like Saturday afternoon.

The latest is the bill for the rest of what is owed them, plus extras -- which we slashed, some being included explicitly in a contract that only one of them can't read, but which they both signed, saying they didn't need to read, they trusted that it was what we discussed, which it was, faithfully -- and therein is an even worse problem and suffering --, before the work is finished, woefully past when it was due and still incomplete.

Thursday, the windows were to be delivered. The one for our room and the children's room at the other end of the small house. It was getting cold at night. We kept each other warm in place of more than a closed, slatted metal shutter against the early fall chill. The children slept in sleeping bags under the covers when they were here. We haven't turned the furnace back onto the winter cycle. I resent burning oil to heat the house when we aren't really that cold, and it goes without saying that it is not only pointless but downright shameful to heat a room without windows. This is how we live. I admit it.

Thursday came and went without a sign of Georges. So did Friday. He arrived, as he has been doing of late, on Saturday morning, full of apologies. The windows weren't ready on time, as the window guy had promised when he was here with him -- another surprise -- last Saturday. My suspicion? Of course the windows were ready on time, but they are working on another job during the week, so it costs them less to bring them on Saturday and blame the window guy.

They looked nice. They were, this time, in oak. They were, the two of them, 3,000 euros. Georges let that slip. Of course. We'll see if we get a bill for another extra for oak. I pointed out what he and the window guy didn't bother to read in the notes section on my drawing, "The windows shall be in oak or pine." The other windows on the bedroom level are made of pine. The garden level windows are oak.

"Ah, mais j'aurais pu les faire en pin de la Carolinie de Nord, mais c'est trop tard maintenant. Tout est déjà débité," said the window guy. He had already explained how the common pine today in Europe is from the Ukraine, but Chernobyl has ruined it, causing anything made of it to rot in three years.

They should have read the drawings.

Then, later, I looked more carefully. I hadn't actually seen them, even though I looked at them, when they first arrived. I was aggravated. Another surprise: the window in our room was wrong! He hadn't even followed my drawings. I had written, drawn and said explicitly that it was to be identical to the window it replaced, and which had been taken to his shop. The other French door for the children's room was to add a vertical muntin to make 6 lites in each panel since the panels were much wider than in our room. What did he do? Make ours a narrower version of that one, so that no two windows on the bedroom floor are the same.

I called and left a message. A callback I didn't hear, but no message. Time to go call again. After I get back from picking Sam up. His scooter, which was vandalized a couple of weeks ago, won't be fixed until after tomorrow.

I'll decide the fate of this blog later.
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