July 29, 2016
Yesterday our things arrived from New York. We were all crazed to receive this delivery. We've been camping in the house for about two weeks now and living out of bags for six. The girls especially are very excited about seeing their toys and beds again.
The container - because that is what we were waiting for, a shipping container - was placed on a truck and driven up to Aix from Marseille. The crew arrived in the area and couldn't find our little street (persistent issue - Xavier has befriended the mailman to grease the wheels of the pony express a bit already - old fashioned problem solving). Once they managed to locate a street that doesn't register on a GPS, they attempted to turn and maneuver through the sycamore trees lining the connecting street. Impossible. After a few failed attempts, they gave up. They brought in a smaller "navette" truck to do trips back and forth with all the furniture and boxes.
At the same time, we had two masons out back working on some tiling around the pool, which needs repair. Aly, the principal mason, is a jolly sort of French guy. In good humor despite the heat or other circumstances. Calls me Madame and bows his head slightly - makes me a bit embarrassed. Brings his own umbrella with him to create shade wherever he is stationed. He started earlier this week and from the very first morning, we've found a bag of croissants "pour les filles" (for the girls) sitting on the table - waiting for us when we wake up. The girls and I always walk over to the pool after we've had our morning treat to thank him. His thick southern accent makes his warm gesture - his insistence that the girls start their day with a good croissant - even warmer.
Another character in this cast is the Italian painter, Fabrizio. We are revamping the paint on the main level of the house, which was trimmed with green and red - the moldings and doors and some built-in furniture. We want a fresh start with white and a bit of gray/blue. Simple and beautiful, we hope. The house is replete with some flourishes. We want to tone it down a bit. Fabrizio is an artist. Paintbrush behind one ear, he stands gazing at the color swatch he has placed along the base of the walls - wondering. He whistles the same few stanzas of a Bach Minuet repeatedly. He has opened all the cracks and fissures in the ceilings - gotten into to their depths. I didn't even know there were cracks in the ceiling before he did that. Now they are filled with a bonding substance and have been patched. He is almost ready to actually begin painting...he is meticulous (maybe to a fault - we shall see).
So there was Fabrizio and Aly and the five movers - scurrying around improbably with heavy loads. And all of our stuff. The girls have been opening boxes wearing Christmas-morning-expressions. Every toy like new again - Mr. Potato Head, dress-up gowns, winter boots. Hilarious concoctions. We are about up to our noses in cardboard and wishing we had fewer things. In general. Feels like endless chaos. If I know Xavier though, he is going to be tearing through this and we will be "established" within a week. The girls are also delighted by the piles of paper and boxes - they have created a paper pit for jumping.
A good example of Xavier’s efficiency while managing all of this at once: while unpacking boxes of tools yesterday, he realized that he will need a proper tool table - a big one. He pulled out his phone and did a quick search for such a table on the equivalent of a local French ebay. I heard him on the phone shortly thereafter negotiating. An hour later I heard another truck pulling up, then Xavier was helping a guy unload the exact table he was looking for. Paid the guy in cash and chatted amiably about the merits of the region and the best brocantes (antique sellers). He is incredible. Never overwhelmed.
The girls strolling down the little lane that leads to our house.
A summer read (The Life of Helen Keller - so sweet) - her senses full in the olive trees.