Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Wish I Had a Camera During My Dreams

Sometimes when I dream, I remember detail after I wake up. Most of the time I only remember a hazy outline, or nothing at all except that I think I had a dream.

Last night I wish I'd had a video camera with me to record what I was dreaming.

Donna-Lane and I were someplace in Scotland or maybe Ireland. It seemed we were looking at B&B places to stay but maybe we were also looking at potential places to live. (No, we have no plans to leave Argeles-sur-mer.)

I had gotten separated from her, and I came across a house that was in a somewhat remote area. It didn't look like much from the road, and had obviously not been inhabited for awhile judging from the outward condition.

As I meandered around to the side of the cottage, I stumbled upon an inlet area from a lake which I didn't realize was on the other side. There was even a sort of homemade stone patio where I imagined D-L and I sitting having tea, enjoying a sunset (I don't usually do sunrises). Then, in my dream, I realized if this were Scotland, it would probably be too cold most of them time to sit out on the patio (I don't do cold very much either).

As I was working my way around the back of the cottage and realizing how large the lake was behind (it was somewhat hidden by bullrushes), Donna-Lane showed up with the realtor-type person who I guess had been showing us properties. They must have been down the road at another property when I wandered off (as I tend to do when not leashed).

I wanted to see the inside of the cottage, and we all went in an entrance on the "high side," as the place was set into a bit of a hillside.

The inside was deplorably filthy. It looked like no one had lived in it for several years. Dust and cobwebs everywhere. But there was still some furniture and some furnishings, all covered with dust.

There was a window which appeared to overlook the lake but it was covered with a bamboo-type covering, not a blind but deliberately stuck on the window like it was boarded up. I tried to move a corner of the covering to see the lake, but couldn't get it out enough for more than a glimpse.

We were about to write the place off as an option, despite the lovely lakeside setting, but we worked our way around to the other side, near the patio, where there was a "lower" entrance.  Inside this area it was much more spacious, much less dusty, and had some of the signs of what had once probably been a cosy abode for someone. A rocking chair, cups and saucers on the shelf, pictures on the walls. Still rather dusty, but not nearly so much as the upstairs, which now seems to have been more a storage area than living quarters.

We were starting to see possibilities of the place being cleaned up and fixed up.

About that point I woke up.

I have no idea what the dream means, but what I will remember is the pleasant little cottage that someone once called home. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tightrope Backstory

Okay, here's the backstory behind D-L's blogpost: http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ie/2015/01/reason-1985.html.

After I had rigged the red blanket into a slide for Scooby Two, Hunny Bunny, and Herr Hare (photo below), I wondered what I might ever do to top it. Since I had safety-pinned the blanket over the drapery bar, I thought what else I might "suspend" from on high, and immediately thought of a high-wire tightrope.

But such an involved scheme would require some time, so I had to wait for an opportunity when Donna-Lane would be out of the Warren for maybe an hour.

My chance came this morning when she went to the hairdresser.

I raced around the apartment, trying to locate the string, twine and duct tape I remembered having. I needed the tape for the second end of the twine because there was no bar on the side of the room opposite the draperies. I taped it to the closet door runner.

Once the twine tightrope was hung, I tried to balance SD2 on the single strand but he wouldn't stay in place. So I tied his paws as if he were hanging from the twine. Did the same for the rabbits except with white string to blend in with their fur. And of course Hunny Bunny had to be different and hang from one foot.

Finally, wanted to show Scoob's mother, Petite Cougar, trying to talk them down (or maybe she wanted to join in the fun for a change?), so I built her the highest possible platform with blankets and pillows.

What I go through to make D-L smile - which gives me great, great pleasure. Half the fun is the scheming, and half is her reaction.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Steps of Life

Sunday evening, we walked about 60 steps from our front door to the church which defines the centre of centreville in Argeles-sur-mer. We were there to enjoy one of the monthly Les Musicales concerts sponsored by the village, this one featuring cellists from the region and an amazing soprano opera singer from Paris.

Two days earlier, we took 60 steps in the other direction to the Cinema Jaures, our one-screen theatre, which was holding an international film festival - including appearances by some of the film's directors. They've had winners of the Cannes Film Festival and others who have later gone on to acclaim.

In the summer, there's a huge music festival with big-name acts at the Valmy estate on the edge of town. This year's lineup includes Santana and Lenny Kravitz.
Opposite the entrance to the church, so about 50 steps from our home, is La Noisette, where on any given morning or afternoon we're likely to run into a couple or several of our friends, both permanent village residents and second-home residents from the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, etc. No need to request honey in my tea; they know us here.
On the same street and around the corner, they hold an open air market - a marche - on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Fresh, locally farmed meats and vegetables, hand-crafted jewelry, wonderful pastries under the British "brownie lady's" orange umbrella, flowers of every hue, reasonably priced clothing, even mattresses and blankets.
A bit further afield but still walkable - maybe 6000 steps - is Argeles Port, where you can take a diving or fishing excursion out on the Med. Or, as we do, relax in one of the many one-of-a-kind restaurants.
The main attraction for many, about a 15-20 minute walk from our Warren, is the marvelous Argeles Plage with the Pyrenees as a backdrop. Plenty of excellent restaurants there as well, and a lovely beachside promenade lined with palm trees.


Pretty amazing for a village of fewer than 10,000 regular residents, at least two hours from any major population centre. http://www.argeles-sur-mer-tourisme.com/

Friday, January 9, 2015

Turning a House Into a Home

Bit by bit, picture by appliance by piece of furniture, we've been turning the Warren from a place we rent/occupy into the place we live and love.

Even though we don't own it, we've been adding our own touches. At first it was a few paintings from artist friends, one by one adding to or in some cases replacing the wonderful art our landlady had installed for the benefit of her short-term vacation tenants. We could always take small artwork with us if we moved somewhere else, right?

Then we came across some good second-hand (or third- or fourth-hand, who knows) furniture: a desk and chair for D-L to write her murder mysteries (www.donnalanenelson.com), blogs (http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/), short stories, etc.; a dining table for four with a built-in extender for six; wooden tables and chairs for the open-air patio/garden and the kitchen; an assortment of ceramic pots for the patio which required a fun trip to Spain; a new firmer mattress for the master bedroom. Still, all transportable to another place if necessary (though definitely not our desire).

More recently, we've added a few things of more permanence. A pair of beautiful and thick custom drapes (sewn by our late friend Barbara) over the patio doors to keep the heat in during winter. And, when a fluorescent light tube broke, it seemed a good excuse to replace both light fixtures in the den and my desk area with something more attractive.

D-L was a bit conflicted. First, she doesn't like to replace something that works - even though it might be ugly. Second, she was concerned new light fixtures might not provide as much luminence as the industrial-style fluorescents. But third, she hates, hates, hates to shop and didn't want to take the time for an expedition to the DIY store.

So I went - but with some trepidation. Gotta get strong enough lights. Something that is reasonably attractive. Oh, we also needed a small wall light to replace the one that had rusted out in the dining area. And all three fixtures needed to fit the wiring that was already in place.

Ended up with the small spotlights you see in the photo. They remind me of movie/TV/theatre lights, and that reminds me of my actor grandson (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sawyer-Bell/438742856181469) and actor granddaughter (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Georgia-Rose-Bell/371196039694101). So, good on the design appeal. And, it turns out, good on the lumen power. In fact, we probably need a dimmer to dial them back a bit.

Perhaps the best result is Donna-Lane didn't need to go shopping.

Next project - painting the walls in the dining and den area. (And the ceiling because the fluourescents left dark areas.) D-L will probably move up to the Nest for the duration of that one.

One of these days, I hope to replace the fluorescent lights in the master bedroom and her office / snore room ... but, shhhhh, don't tell Donna-Lane.