Terrace in August

Author: fraise

Saturday 9 August 2008, in Gardening, Home improvement, La France, Nice

Terrace in August

First thing this morning, I went and bought some more fine wire to cover the terrace’s remaining hand-sized holes and prevent my inner courtyard neighbor (her part is to the left in this photo) from carrying out her threats to poison my kitten. The entire terrace is now enclosed with wire that has 1cm squares, so unless she takes wire cutters to it, Kanoko (kitty) is much safer now. It’s a huge relief.

In France, the vast majority of stores are only open from 9 or 10am to noon, then from 2pm to 6 or 7pm, and from Mondays to Saturdays. Chain stores generally stay open at lunch time. Almost no stores are open on Sundays (in general it’s best to expect they’re all closed). I’ve come to appreciate it because it’s better for the employees, and it makes you get things done during normal waking hours. The obvious downside is that in an emergency, such as a neighbor threatening to kill your 3-month-old kitten on a Saturday evening after closing time, you have to either take a day off work to go to the store, or wait until the upcoming Saturday to buy what’s needed to keep the neighbor at bay. (I made do until Saturday with leftover wire on a particularly vulnerable part, only letting Kanoko outside after I’d checked the whole perimeter, and then keeping a close eye on him and neighbor-lady. I’m still going to keep a close eye on things.)

I do love the terrace. It’s very quiet and full of light, but stays cool since it faces north. There’s plenty of room for my clothes drying rack too — I photographed the terrace with it on purpose, since lately I’ve heard/read quite a few Americans wondering about alternatives to electric clothes dryers. I’d honestly forgotten how common they are in the US… here in France, and Europe in general, almost no one has an electric dryer. Most everyone uses a clothes rack, which is ecological, free once you’ve paid for the rack (mine cost 18 euros and I’ve had it for two years), and doesn’t damage the fabrics like hot dryers do. No balcony, or rainy weather? Dry clothes indoors, cracking a window open to refresh the air. Racks that fit over bathtubs are quite common here. Cold weather? Ha! When I didn’t have enough room inside, I dried clothes outside on a rack in Finland. Winter temperatures when I was in Helsinki were between -5°C and -15°C (20°F to -10°F). It even got down to -30°C (-25°F) for a week one year. Once they’re folded and put on, the clothes regain suppleness, no matter how concrete-like they may feel from being in the cold. It’s actually kind of fun.

4 responses to “Terrace in August”

  1. nyfrenchie Says:

    I’ve been looking at “colocs” to move into recently, and one actually has an electric clothes dryer. I’ve seen so few of them that I thought “A clothes dryer! What the hell for?”

    My trick is that, even if you have a humid apartment in winter with the windows closed, if you aim a fan at the clothes while they’re hanging, they dry in record time.

  2. Bouks Says:

    I had an electric clothes dryer while on vacation in Marseille (I just got back)…it was the first time I ever used one in France. I felt kind of guilty, but it was nice to have at the same time. I remember hanging out laundry on the terrace in the winter a few years before when we were in a different apartment, and it was like a punishment for me…the skin on my freezing hands drying out, cracking and painful, and the unbearable cold. But that could have had as much to do with our location, circumstances, and my state of health at the time.

  3. fraise Says:

    Great idea for the fan, nyfrenchie! Had never thought of that…

    Bouks ouch! I had skin problems like that in Finland too, below-freezing air is so dry. It was there that for the first time in my life, I started dolloping on moisturizer like there was no tomorrow… it helped my skin so much that I’ve kept up with the habit. (I use “bio” stuff, Weleda and Melvita are heavenly.)

  4. Uncle Pat Says:

    My electric dryer heating element gave out a few years ago. I still use the tumbling action of the dryer for most clothing, it just takes longer. During the winter I just hang shirts and pants from the forced air heater return air duct cover in the hall ceiling. Works great.

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