Archive for December, 2008

Work in progress

Posted in Home improvement, La France, Nice at 17:54

Uncovering the living room

This is how I’m spending my Christmas and New Year’s holiday! All of this is the result of “just” three hours of work today. I’m glad that these went much quicker — I should be able to finish a good part of the living room by the end of next week. These are the tools and protection I’m using. Always use face protection when removing tile; I can’t insist enough. No matter how careful you are, the tiles break in unpredictable ways and pieces go flying everywhere. My eye protection and face mask have been hit by flying pieces of tile very often. Along those lines, if you have a pet, either don’t let them near the work area at all, or stop working when they’re nearby. Kanoko rests on his cat tree perch to oversee my work, so he’s been fine. I only worked for three hours because that’s all my arms and legs could take. It’s best to kneel (I used a folded-up blanket as a knee pad), which takes its toll, and it’s tiring to pound and lift all the time.

The thick gray line just above Kanoko’s head is not due to broken tile — that’s originally where the living room wall was. The previous owners took it out and put it further back to create the sofa nook. This is both good and bad: the good part is the tomettes aren’t broken; the bad part is there are no tomettes along that line at all!

While I consider tomettes to be a treasure because of their beauty and soft, silky feel, they are also a treasure in the material sense of the word: since tomettes are no longer made, you can only find vintage ones, and hexagonal tomettes cost from 50 to 70 euros per square meter. My living room and bedroom are 35 square meters in all, multiplied by 60 euros makes for 2,100 euros, or about 3,000 US dollars at the current exchange rate (I use’s currency converter). In comparison, decent-quality modern tiles cost about 20 euros per square meter, or one third of the tomettes’ worth. In short, for 3-4 weeks of tile removal work, I’ll be tripling the value of my floors! (Why did the previous owners tile over these tomettes? Well, since they are “vintage”, there are some French people who don’t like them. I’m assuming that’s what happened, since the previous owners were a young French couple.)


Posted in Cats, Journal at 09:42

Sunday cuteness: Yesterday I made some gluten-free spaghetti, and left the strainer in the sink to dry. When I returned to the kitchen, this is what I found. (I had the hardest time not laughing at the beginning; it took immense willpower to stop for the video.)

I had no idea until today, but 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy.

A quiet Sunday in Nice

Posted in Journal at 15:04

That was interrupted, as usual (as nearly always), by my neighbor. She had started off by yelling “une belle fille bien baisée ! Va te faire foutre, connasse !” at which point I went to get my camera phone, since Kanoko was also being adorable as I cleaned my patio/terrace. This is what followed. Mostly it’s kitty being funny, then at 35 seconds in, you get to hear my neighbor for yourself and witness what I put up with (though on a small scale, since it’s worse than just these few seconds, of course).

As can be seen, I’m merely on my patio, playing with my kitten. I do not engage her; I never engage her. Today is the first time I’ve dared to try and film. She noticed: she yelled “moi aussi je peux filmer !!” and she did, which I don’t mind, because she caught herself on camera calling me “connasse !” while I remained silent, playing with my kitten. Kanoko and I went inside after I’d finished the film, since I figured the neighbor would come outside. Indeed, the neighbor lady then stormed out and sprayed my entire wall, window, door and all, with her garden hose.

I’m getting pretty tired of this. I forwarded the video to a neighbor in the abusive neighbor’s apartment building so that their management can be made aware, again. (I realize I’ll need to be more careful than usual now, since the filming pissed her off and may escalate things. I’m hoping, however, that seeing how bad she can be — and this is average, not her worst — will help handle the problem.)

Buried treasure

Posted in Cats, Home improvement, Journal, La France, Nice at 20:45

Bedroom with parquet removed

This afternoon Kanoko was swatting around a broken piece of ceramic. It was dark red and reminded me very much of traditional Provençal terra cotta tiles, called tomettes. My curiosity was piqued — every so often, you’ll hear a story of someone buying an apartment, pulling up the old floor and discovering tomettes beneath. It even happened to my former landlords, whose floor was gorgeous. Since the parquet in my bedroom was badly laid and I thought I needed to replace it due to the water damage from the adjacent bathroom, I pulled on a corner that was already sticking out.

This is what I found. I jumped; I squealed with joy; I bounded into the kitchen to put on eye protection and returned to the bedroom to pull out as much parquet as I could. It hadn’t been glued, merely laid onto a protective sheet covering the floor. The tomettes are in perfect condition. There’s only one exception: the previous owners broke some tomettes to run… a TV cable. Ugh. (By any chance, do any readers have a few tomettes laying around that I could use to repair this? They’re hard to find. Mine are 11.5cm from point to point; 10cm from side to side.)

Pulling up the parquet brought something else into evidence: the tile elsewhere in my apartment is on top of yet more tomettes!!! Tomorrow I’m going to pull up tile in an out-of-the way corner of my living room to see what’s been done and if it’s recoverable — I certainly hope so. I’m delighted since I had in fact dreamt of redoing my bedroom floor in tomettes, but had to set aside the idea since they’re very expensive. Then today I find that it was already done 60 years ago!

Mystery uncovered

Posted in Home improvement, Journal at 14:38

After removing more plaster

As shown here, my deconstructivist bathroom is coming along nicely. This approach brings to the fore images that evoke universal truths: beneath the persona (paint) and ego (plaster) lie hidden yet vital depths of unconscious communications (pipes) and shadow elements (dark hole in the wall). Cleansing and healing elements also come into play (shower). While modern society would have us believe that humans are two-dimensional, able to be classified and “targeted”, we are reminded of the multitudinous facets in every individual, impossible to contemplate in their whole; impossible to reduce to mere words.

Because my bathroom wall needs to dry before it can be repaired, I decided to tackle paint removal in it today. (I had an extra vacation day that needed to be used, so took today off.) The mold damage before, bubbles after putting on paint remover that made me rather nervous since no such bubbles formed on the same paint when I used the remover in the WC, and the wall after removing the paint but before taking on the plaster.

The photo above shows the bathroom as it is now, with a hole in the corner so that air can get back there and help things dry out.

New drape and fixed kitten

Posted in Cats, Home improvement at 14:52

Drape covering storage

Kanoko turned 6 months old two weeks ago, and is at the veterinarian today, getting neutered and being given an ID tattoo in his ear. (Why you should spay or neuter your pet, et en français, pourquoi faire stériliser son animal.) I weighed him while at the vet’s: 4.5 kilos/10 pounds! That’s a healthy weight for a fully adult cat — normal-sized kittens weigh 3kg/6.5 pounds at 6 months old.

I took the opportunity of a mischief-free apartment to put up the curtain wire over my bedroom storage nook and hang a drape (“before” photo here). The difficulty of this nook is that it’s 2 meters wide, while none of the stores I checked had drapes/curtains wider than 1m60. So I hung a drape sideways! It’s not ideal, but with the tall bed frame bringing things together visually, it works well enough. It will probably look much better once I’ve repainted my bedroom a darkish grey. After considering several color ideas over the last few months, I realized that every time I’d seen a grey room, I’d utterly loved it. It won’t be done for a few months though, since budget priority goes to repairing my bathroom, which will be expensive. It is nice to no longer see the boxes and suitcases, in any case.