August 3, 2016
All at once
I have a long list of things I want to see and places I want to go - all within an hour’s drive of our house near Aix-en-Provence. I’m putting most explorations on hold. Our house and getting settled in is proving to be a true feat. We have 45 projects going all at once: painting the house, unpacking boxes, new furniture to sand and restore/move into proper place, power washing/staining the outdoor furniture, ripping out old closet structures/setting up the new, installing a watering system for the yard, new kitchen cabinets, removing parts of the walls in our bedroom (our bed won’t fit into the ‘bed alcove’ - common feature of 17th c. design), ripping out carpet in one small section of the house - refinishing the floors (we will eventually put the customary tiles of this region there), installing a fence around the pool (Romy!), repainting the shutters on the house, preventing Romy from squeezing the kittens too hard, working with an architect (Xavier’s fantastic cousin who lives 15 min from us - we love him and his family) on finishing a back portion of our house for airbnb and guests, deciding what goes where (!), working with the mayor of the town to get a number on our house, the list goes on and on. I don’t believe I have ever felt quite so inundated with things to accomplish. I also feel really excited about the prospect of seeing these projects completed. Xavier remains dauntless. Not an ounce of hesitation. He wakes up and announces what he will begin - dives in and doesn’t come back up for air until about midnight.
The view out one of the windows on the top floor of the house. A field of Provence sunflowers.
Appreciating the details in the house while unpacking boxes this morning.
Fabrizio, the Italian painter, hard at work. Admired by two little ones.
I have stopped to admire the sky. Over and over. When the stars come out at night, we see the whole thing. Like a huge dark bowl above our heads, glazed with stars. After putting the girls to bed, sometimes I float in the pool with my ears under the water, rim of water just around my face, gazing up. Sensory therapy.
Colette and Romy feel as intense as everything else. Colette - daunted by the whole thing. We were driving to a little farm the other day and she told me, “Mom, I really like New York better than this place - even if we didn’t have a pool.” I was tempted to push back and list the reasons Provence is so great. Instead, I just gulped and said, “I understand, Colette. I miss New York too. What do you miss most?” She had a good list (Claire was at the top).
She is still feeling the influence of Our Lady Of Lourdes catholic school. She was pensive this morning and said, “Jesus and God are in our heart. I really want Jesus to come out. I want to see him. Maybe he is stuck in my heart forever.”
Colette thinks about safety quite a bit (thankfully, since the topic never seems to cross her little sister’s mind). “How many numbers strong is this house?” and “What is kidnapping?” (almost in the same breath). Oh, Colette.
Romy wants to be helpful. In fact, if you let her ‘help’ she will happily do your job for an hour or more. The trick is your work is unraveling in the process. She looks up and says, “I good jobbing. See?” Indeed.
We have lots of little lizards around - Romy is very impressed. She gets as close as she can and says, “I want to hold him. So sweet!” Moving her shoulders and arms in a cradling motion. They inevitably scurry away. “I miss him. He is gone.” The lizards are lucky she can’t get a hold of them. The kittens have a different story. She pulls their tails and squeezes much too hard. We are constantly steering her to be gentle…they protect themselves - they scratch and bite her. She is undeterred. There are moments she is overcome by their cuteness. She is shaking while petting them, placing her head on their body to ‘caress’ their fur. They paw at her wild hair, thinking it is a little creature itself.
We miss Marguerite terribly. Excited that she will come every other weekend and lots of her vacation time - more time with her is a total treat for everyone.
All in all, this feels like a mammoth affair. Mustering all the grit I have to keep up.
Xavier, a great papa (the candy bracelets are a nice touch). He pauses to play with the girls and the kittens - that is about it.
Art study in the front yard.
Meeting new friends at our house.
Even Colette's shadow is getting accustomed to the new place.
Trips to the market - lots of fun. This pic sums up each of the girls personalities.
Provence bounty - feels like such a luxury to have all of this at a market just down the street.