Thursday, June 28, 2018

home(t)raveling: 12 months are 52 weeks are 365 days are 8760 insane hours!

#1 planet Earth, as seen from "our" little village, on an average summer night.
It took us a whole year to get here, from there: from this crazy (but not un-wellthoughtof) decision to commit to those lovely old stones wrapped in ivy and call them home. One hell of a long, intense, dirty, sweaty, dusty, draining yet overall extremely rewarding and enjoyable year. Mostly a privilege, a gift, a life-treat, a dream come true. But also, although very sporadically, a stamina sucker, an absolute nightmare, a gumption trap: euphemistically speaking, an absolute pain in the a--!

Who would have said just two years ago, running away from Johnny Hallyday* so hard we frenetically got on successive buses, trains and ferries until we eventually hit some Japanese shore? Not us, that's for sure.
Who would have said exactly four years ago, cruising like there were no tomorrows through seemingly endless hemp-and-poppy fields (forever) onboard the TRANSITion? Believe it or not, not us!

But, hey, it's been a wild and beautiful ride. And there's a clear trend that it's only getting better all the time, a little better all the time (not, this one! or you sing it yourselves...). Now let's face it: the summer solstice and this first lap around the home(t)ralendar caught us a bit out of schedule: we "failed to meet the deadline" - as we freelancers hate to hear (or admit) - but we got some shit done! Just have a look below if you need to refresh your memory... And of course, we keep on working harder, better, faster, stronger (yeah!). Because, you know: these two bedrooms and bathroom aren't going to build themselves, are they? Right. And at the same time, it's not a race and it's not about getting anywhere. It was indeed this blog's opening mantra, almost five years ago: "Everyday is a journey and the journey itself is home". Remember (to let it under your skin)? Like everything else, it's about doing it with love.

BEFORE: ladies and gentlemen, please be welcome! come in and take the 'day 1' tour: kitchen, wallpapers, entrance corridor and living-room!
DURING: ladies and gentlemen, put your protective clothing on and get your armpits wet! we'll get to the bones, put some fresh flesh and skin.
AFTER: ladies and gentlemen, Wallis & Futuna are proud to introduce the ground floor, aka the hemp-and-lime salon, aka, the living space.

So, yes: one whole year working, enjoying, suffering and - you know - learning in the making. Even though you have no clue what you're doing. Even though it looks like you're lost. Wisdom passes through you just as water passes through some limestone crack. And eventually, just like calcite crystallizes at the tip of a stalactite, understanding drips and forms new shapes at the tip of your understanding of the world surrounding you. You can't actually resist this slow process of accretion. It is happening, every minute of every day. Even in the darkest cave, with nobody to witness it. You live, you learn. Amazing Alanis Morrissette who said it clear back then in the mid-eighties (and nobobdy seemed to realize). This past friday, for instance, over some random small talk with a perfect stranger at the bakery, we learnt that it was indispensable to specifically waterproof our bathroom walls. The conversation went something like this, transcribed in the spirit of Benjamin Hoff:

the waterproofed shower corner, sink area and floor junctions.

- What? -erproofing? But it's all green 'waterproof' plasterboard we used, we said in sheer worry.
- Green only means it's more expensive, heavier and resists a bit more than regular. Still is paper and plaster. Still dissolves and rots with moist, the random stranger replied.
- But we're tiling with stoneware tiles and waterproof grouting, we tried.
- Tiles and grouting are intrinsically porous. Deal with it, he sentenced.
- But we were told..., we cried.
- Grow up, kids. Stop believing stuff, he yelled.
- B-b-but..., we tuttered.
- Nope, he cut.

At that point, Piglet fainted and Pooh said:
- Oh, I see. We'll have two croissants and one baguette, please, Ma'am.

www (Wu-Wei Wisdom) conclusion: "Drama and paradigm shifts are not worth spoiling one's breakfast."

- The end -

So later that morning, we went to our favourite PointP dealer and asked for the bathroom waterproofing "purple kit". "Purple kit, pu-urple kit", a dude sang in the back. A bunch of construction workers nodded in approbation: you guys know whatchadoin', they silently said closing their eyes slowly and repeatedly, in cat-like motions. Everybody seemed to know exactly what this was all about, what the waterproofing purple kit was and what it was for - but us. That's what happens when you hang around building supplies stores by mid-morning. We bought the stuff, came back home and opened the purple kit. There was evening and there was morning. And on the second day, [we] read the SPC and [we] saw that it was good. We followed the instructions with a brush and soon after that, we had a waterproofed Arch, ready for a purple rain-flood. It (un)fortunately never came. But [we] saw that was good too, indeed, because our saviour and friend S. showed up the day after that to give us a hand with the tiling. Here's how it went until now (needless to say the walls will be tiled or painted depending on their exposure to water**):

the waterprrof-sealed shower corner ; the very-multi-skilled S. at work ; the floor half-tiled and... the floor tout à fait tiled!

In June, just on time to close this opening year, we also got contacted (again) by Monsieur the Maire and his crew. They had this crazy project to expropriate part of the garden in order to build a new car park on it. Apparently (according to them), it was very much needed, as the neighbours regularly passed out, suffered severe cramps or acute dehydration upon walking from their respective car to the door of their respective house. "This village needs an extra car park just as the sow needs the boar", Monsieur the Maire said. And the choir of angels his deputies to sing a cold and a broken Halleluiah. So, we did our best, it wasn't much. We negociated and resisted. We couldn't feel so we tried to touch. And all these things. We ended up with a broken throne, a new hair cut and a fifty-fifty deal: they'd only take a smaller sample of the garden, they'd pay a very symbolic amount of money for it, they'd build a decent 6-spot car park where a beautiful hazelnut tree used to spread its branches and hazelnuts. And around the 15th:

the (roaring) noise and the (cold steel) fury of progress and civilization digging their truth across our garden, courtesy of the Mairie!

At least it went fast and they did it with a firm hand. Our neighbours' cat supervised the whole operation and after a week, we had a new wall with a fancy fence, a very neat 6-park and a pile of super cool salvaged wall-stones in a corner of the garden - for later. Not so bad in the end. We'll plant more (fruit-) trees than they cut, and edible plants, and botanicals, and a couple of ducks. Screw progress, civilization and the people who refuse to walk 100 meters from their houses to their cars... Anyway. Let's conclude on a positive note: this first anniversary also pretty much fell with the summer solstice, that is to say, with our dear U.'s birthday, who had just left his busy and vibrant Barcelona to visit us for a short climbing retreat in the Ariège. And since any reason/excuse to celebrate is a good one, and we could easily come up with several, we decided to throw a merry, multi-purpose and impromptu petite fête. Hurray!

our luxury brewer G. and his astonishing brew-duction ; the subtle and moving sounds of Duo Hïka, for their unofficial debut at the hangar...

A bunch of friends came with yummy food on the evening of the 23rd; we all gathered around the compulsory Saint-Jean bonfire; U. turned older doing what he enjoys most: meeting new people and chatting over a drink; Wallis baked some boníssimes coques catalanes with peppers, garlic and anchoves; J.-M. took the art of BBQ-ing one step further; Mr. G., our very finest brewer, brought a comprehensive sample of the very finest BdQ beers; and Mr. S., our very finest tiling coach (see above), who happens to be an exquisite musician, made us the pleasure and honor to come present a few songs of his new project together with amazing singer Karolina: "Duo Hïka, songs of love, loss and longing". Impossible to dream of a lovelier, nicer, more beautiful conclusion and celebration for this first home(t)raveling year! The live footages we shot are way too shaky (blame it on the genuine emotion and intense goosebumps all over our bodies), so we share this one song with you here. Visit their website, fall in love with them, check their next gigs (in both the Toulouse/Ariège area and Barcelona) and go hear them live!

Alright. We just have enough room left to give a huge and heartfelt "thank you!" to all the friends who came and helped, who gave energy, gave ideas, gave inspiration and gave a hand. Both that night and any other time during this whole intense year, for an hour or for two weeks (i sí, bitxo, aixo ès per tu: gràcies, gràcies i gràcies! T'estimem mil!). Thanks for your time, love and advice, for sharing your skills, craft, knowledge and/or tools. Thanks to you all for your support and for this beautiful Saint-Jean's eve. With our batteries reloaded, we're ready for another year, for a brand new season of home(t)raveling, for a housefull of adventures and surprises. And this is thanks to you all, folks!

We'll be back soon.
with a lot more
and we love you,
F & W


* About Johnny Hallyday (may he R.I.P) in Pamiers: on July, 14th, 2016, the oldest and most famous French song-writer,composer, performer, Harley Davidson rider and rock-and-roller ever, came and gave a live show for the French national bank holiday at the local stadium in Pamiers, Ariège - causing us to run away as far as we possibly could... and look where it took us!

#2 an average summer night, as seen from planet Earth nearby "our" little village.
** to be absolutely honest about the purple waterproof sealing coat: there's quite a bunch of friends, family and acquaintances who visited the would-be-bathroom before the walls got tiled or painted. And a few of them (only the nicest) put a horror face for a second before making up too big a smile and saying too loud something like "Ooooh! That is indeed a nice colour you picked for the bathroom!", "It suits the tiles real well, you guys do have an eye for home design!" or "Waow! It's... really... different. Would have picked the exact same colour myself". After an awkward silence we had the power to make excruciatingly long, we could give 'em some relief  saying "Cut the crap, it's okay, it's getting covered tomorrow"

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