Friday, November 28, 2008

Back in Clermont

Saturday's entertainment is driving an hour to St. Etienne to buy an armoire for my bedroom. Closets are still a modern curiosity for the French. It'll be nice to be able to hand my clothes in my room at last, like a normal person.
It does in fact take the whole day. Vacation-speed getting going, the long drive, lunch among the screaming kids (Ikea is apparently a Weekend Destination for families), picking out my modular components, discovering that there is No Way they will all fit in our teeny Renault 107, arranging delivery, and getting home. The 107 is black, making it of the Bandersnatch Kind, and as we know, Bandersnatch is quite capable of amazing amounts of intake, so why not the car??
The Logistics Guy really really wants to rent me a van. But at 18€ an hour, figure 4 hours paperwork to paperwork, gas, freeway tolls, and all, and I save about 20 for my pains. Forget that. Really forget it when it comes out that I'm not having everything delivered (the baggies of hardware and the half-dozen rats we can handle), and I come out ahead.
Only, I won't be home next week. This week, ok. But they can't get it to me that fast. Next week is their week, and the delivery company guarantees delivery in 2 weeks or less. I'd be making them break their promise.
But I want week 3. Week 3 is golden.
Non, non, week 2 is a promesse.
You know week 2 doesn't work for me. But wait, the delivery people are going to call me to set up a date, aren't they? They don't just show up at random in the 2-week window, do they? So if it's in the first week, great, if it's in the second I'll just not be answering the phone. They'll have no choice but to go for week 3. They can't just keep the stuff.
Finally somebody with a little more authority steps in, and we all agree that I will be called on Dec 1st to arrange delivery. Sheesh! an hour for that!
It would have been so cool to spend the evening putting it together. And then moving my stuff in. Hanging my shirts. Sweaters on the shelves. Sigh. Some day soon.

Sunday: Murol castle
Another dark grey, cold day. There's snow above 500 meters, though not a lot. That's just the way it is in November this year. On a few hillsides the birch trees still have golden leaves, making glowing bright spots among the dark pines and brown oaks if ever the sun comes out.
Taking the small roads we arrive just at noon. Murol is open all year round; I checked before leaving, but now that November 12 is passed, only after 2pm.
Hey look - an open restaurant. How convenient.
Good country food, too, and cider. Our bottle of cider looks like it has spent a good long time in a cellar, but it's good stuff.
Murol was your classic medieval wreck when I moved to Clermont 12 years ago. Today it's most of the way through the planned restoration. Most of the structural work is done; now they're on to some of the interior and part of the roof. Without much yet in the way of decoration, they too concentrate on the combative aspects of the time. There are a few other touches: spinning and knitting in a bedroom, pots and implements in the kitchen, skins on the floor. It's a nice visit.

I have to work during the week, which actually works out pretty well. Darrell gets lots of rest while I stay busy. He gets his fill of cat petting and lounging around; I'm not driven crazy with idleness.

We eat in (bread of the day, salad, shredded duck, cheese) or out (my favorite Indian and Italian), and once we decide to make rabbit. I leave Darrell a note for the butcher: 1/2 lapin, coupé. At the first butcher shop, the guy reads the note, says no followed by a long string of French. No is enough, so D takes his note back and goes on. The second guy just takes the note, takes a dressed rabbit over to the butcher's bandsaw, and cuts it lengthwise before chopping 8 parts with a cleaver. 1/2 lapin, coupé. Bone splinters everywhere.

At home we decide the head and giblets are catfood, and marinate the rest in herbs and red wine. Excellent rabbit for all, to be eaten cautiously.

It's a quiet week enjoying each other's company and watching season 2 of "24" on dvd. Jack Bauer is God. Obviously.

For extra entertainment, we pose the collection of rats and decorate the ficus with them. Christmas ornaments and tinsel are so ordinary. Another evening we visit the hardware store and their collection of locks and fun keys. Darrell emptied my box of 46 house keys and could not find locks for them all. However, he lusts after one old padlock on the door to the under-the-house. Would I trade him for a new one?


So I come home the next day and my short screwdriver is all bent and sad. That lock had been there for some years undisturbed, but he got the better of it.

Preparing our return to Paris I arrange with Marc to feed the cats daily. Usually I set up the anticatescape device just as I'm leaving, but it seems like a good idea to set it up early, the night before, while the cats are not yet desperate to get out or aware that there is any kind of imminent departure. That way, when Natalie insists on a 6 am sortie I can open the door and she'll rush out into the vestibule, but her escape route from there will be blocked by the cardboard. Ha ha! She might paw at the door, but the bedroom is far enough away not to notice. Then I'll let her in at 8.

Sure enough, at 6 Natalie really really really wants out. And at 8 here she comes in again - wriggling her way through the gap where she bent the sturdy cardboard out of her way.


Well, I'll not tell Marc about this little flaw in the anticatescape device. I'll just reinforce it here with these bricks and rely on the presence of a bulky stranger to intimidate Natalie long enough to shoo her back indoors.

Cats all in, fed, watered, litter sifted. Luggage in the car, umbrella out. Tank filled, car returned, and to the station with 40 minutes for croissants and more coffee. We are capable of endless coffee. Next stop Paris.


haitham said...

Shredded duck sounds amazing! I wish I could cook at all--I'm subsisting on udon and chicken breast night after night

sciencegirl said...

The shredded duck is actually a jar of rillettes de canard. Not anything I cooked myself! Darrell is a good cook, but I don't usually go beyond pasta and salad.