jeudi 12 novembre 2009

Looking for my motivation

It was sunny when I woke up. But, as they say, if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.

Paris is off in the distance behind the hills on the other side of the trees and the Seine. I know because I remember it and how to get there. The map tells me that it is about 70 km to the southwest. I could follow the Seine, but that would add many kilometers with it's meanderings. The highway is faster. There is also a train. I have taken it before. Or my motorcycle, but it's battery keeps dying.

Come to think of it, my motorcycle and I share a similar energy level, only I can take it to the garage and hopefully it will get better right away. I don't know what it will take for me.

It's been almost two months since I have gone into the city. I used to walk all over it and love doing that, stopping at a café. I feel I am too busy now. Now I zoom in and out, accomplishing my objective and leaving that fast. It's a good thing that I need to get my hair cut again soon. Maybe I will stop by MORA and see if cast iron skillets for Tarte Tatin count as baking supplies.

Too busy? Too busy as I sit here and don't do everything I'd be so delighted to have done? No. It's not too busy. It's not too busy at all. It's too under the influence of the effect of isolation and the the continuously gray skies that find it in themselves to pour water down upon us every day for a period of time between moments of diffuse light cutting across the landscape, making the leaves glow for a brief instant. I need to rake and mow the scruffy lawn -- or what's left of it since the workers criss-crossed it with scaffolding and wheelbarrows of stucco and cement for months on end --, but I know that I will hear chuckling as soon as I have my rubber boots on, and my gloved hands hold the rake: the rain will begin to fall again. It's much harder to rake and burn sodden leaves. This has not been crisp fall weather. For once, the summer crisped everything.

I got one coat of sealer on the balcony planks on an afternoon when it didn't rain long enough to go from one end to the other, not having to squeegee the puddles first. I worried the planks were too damp, and since the bottoms are not treated, I hoped that the humidity could escape from the bottom. However, under the beaded up water are saturation marks in the planks. I need to do another coat, fast.

There are the windows I have not yet done. They depress me.

Three is also the little problem of the Paris Bercy Masters 1000. It's day 4.

Now I know, anyway, why they hold the Blues festival in Mantes, Blues sur Seine, in November.

I have, however, looked into getting a wood stove installed in the cold, unused fireplace, and to my credit, I have nearly finished my end of the work. Dispatched that in a couple of afternoons.

It was relatively easy. I knew what models interested me, and I knew the constraints of our fireplace and conduit.

"Madame, auriez-vous la possibilité de venir visiter notre showroom?" Yes, I replied, I would have the possibility of coming to visit your "showroom", but only after I have determined that any of the some 400 models you carry will work in my home. I prefer to do this by Internet. I can see what they look like perfectly well, merci, and I know how they work. I just need to know which, if any, will work here.

That's when I launch into my architect routine. I tell them that our house dates from 1865 (I always hear an indrawn breath of the dawning of comprehension) and that the fireplace does not work, has not, in fact, ever worked to our knowledge. Without drawing breath, I explain that I stuck my head into the grate, lying on my back, and saw two 150 mm metal pipes leading up through the bearing wall. The fireplace, I go on, was an afterthought, the consequence of a flight of imagination from -- most probably -- the cinema producer, who is said to have bought the house to spend his weekends in the countryside (he couldn't have been very successful, I always think, looking around me at this small house), and who preferred something more dramatique et imposant than the sort of insert common in the 19th century, such as can be seen at the house of Monet and the salle at L'Hôtel Baudy in Giverny.


"C'est un décor de scène," I finish with a flourish, leaving my interlocuteur impressed with my understanding of the situation. I know they are nodding their heads in agreement.

"Oui, oui, Madame. C'est sur. Les maisons du 19ème ne sont pas de tout adaptées aux normes d'aujourd'hui." I can feel their great sympathy with my plight.

"Mais, il y a quelque chose qu'on peut faire installer, non?" Here I explain that someone else, a vague someone else who might very well be their competition, told me that there are smaller poêles with conduits that can work in the hollow space in the wall.

"Ah, oui!" I am assured. They have one. It's exactly not what would work, but I have to have the information to get the information, or talk to exactly the right person first by great good fortune because I have had several different, contradictory, replies to that question. I decided I trusted most the guy -- the first guy -- who told me that he would not want to sell me the Shaker at more than 3,000 euros (plus conduit and installation), but one that cost 1,000 euros less, the Morso, the only one in their line of Danish design wood stoves with the smaller 120 mm conduit.

"Il y a les normes d'aujourd'hui et je suis responsable comme installateur -- comprenez?" Yes, I understood. I want someone who respects the current building standards. I want my wood stove to work and my house to remain standing.

There was the guy, very nice and from Brittany, Douarnenez to be as specific as he was, who told me, "Mais, Madame! On peut toujours réduire tous nos poêles!" I didn't like the sound of that, although my husband thought it made sense when I told him. I explained that another guy was happier to lose the profit on an extra 1,000 in sales rather than propose such a thing, and he seemed pretty convinced by that. Then I showed him the picture.

"J'aime bien celui-là. C'est bien."

"Laisse-moi te montrer celui que j'ai beaucoup aimé." I scrolled and clicked and the picture of the Shaker came up, "C'est ça, mais sans le banc."

"Je préfère l'autre. Celui-là fait un peu," he hesitated, "araignée." It was "arachnid". I could see his point. I was a little worried about its longish Shaker-style legs inside our fireplace, too. The fire might look like a robot with his head on fire, staring helplessly out of the fireplace at us. Besides, we have some city friends who are terrified of spiders, but they come out here anyway, expecting us to rid the premises of everything with eight legs, especially the ones with thick and hairy legs and bodies. I am referring to the spiders, of course. Those are the really impressive ones.

If we order the poêle by the 15th of the month, we can still work out a way to benefit from the 40% tax credit for the wood stove and conduit, significantly reducing its cost to us. I might try one other dealer to see if they can quote us a lower installation price.

By January, we should be enjoying the radiant warmth and atmosphere provided by a wood stove in our hearth.
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