Friday, 7 January

The 6th of January seems a date destined to mark important moments in our lives. Fortunately, in the private sphere, it has more positive connotations than in the public, where it may yet go down in the history books as the day democracy in America received a blow from which it did not recover.

Chez nous, it is Tasha the dog's birthday, or the day thus designated upon her arrival at the SPA animal shelter in Tilloy-les-Mofflaines five years ago. Yesterday she turned seven, the age of reason. Or so they say of people, though one can wonder these days if the ability to think rationally doesn't elude some at any age.

Tasha's seven dog years would make her 49 on the human scale, but the maxim still fits. Only recently has she decided to come when called most of the time. When the call of the wild does still lead her astray (like on her birthday morning walk), she returns to the house after 45 minutes, rather than the three to six hours of agonised waiting she used to put us through. From my angle, it makes our perambulations much more pleasant, even relaxing.

At home she remains vociferous but much less fierce with visitors.

Claire talks gardening, while Tasha sings Happy Birthday to herself

Now, January 6th also marks the day we reclaimed our house.  

You may recall that the renovation works in the Perche were way behind schedule in December. Fortunately, we’d planned to celebrate Christmas in Paris. The whole family, my sister too, was supposed to come; Omicron caused almost everyone to cancel. We nevertheless managed to become Covid contact cases and thus spent seven days of the holiday period self-isolating, fortunately at Deux Champs, where the architects had assured us that although some painting, woodwork and ironmongery still needed to be done, the old house was now habitable.  

They were correct, but the house still seemed to belong to someone else. Someone - and I know this sounds odd coming from a 64-year old - who was very grown-up and fancy. The elegant beauty appeared too cool and aloof for the likes of me.

Despite my feelings of unsuitability, we put our self-isolation to good use and started moving back everything we could carry. The schlepping also helped keep Covid fears at bay.

Some carpets and small chairs in the living room...

...some basics for my office, so it could begin to develop its feng shui…

We spent a lot of time transferring kitchen-dining room stuff, everything from plates and glasses to pasta and breakfast cereal, chairs and a small table...

Bed? Where's my bed? 

...and since the temporary space was at the diametric opposite of the house (not just the other end but also upstairs), our exercise was cut out for us.

We began to use the rooms, but there was still a feeling of perching rather than settling.

Angst management

Yesterday the movers came to relocate the big stuff. FYI, even this mini-move put us - yes, also my unflappable husband - in a tense, almost paralysed, state. Displacement of possessions, however near or far, must trigger some primordial distress signal deep in our core.

Sofas, chairs, the dining room table, the refrigerator, the washing machine were moved. David directed and I cleaned in their wake.

Carl unhinged

It was when Carl the piano was unscrewed and upended, wrapped in plastic and rolled back to the old house that I felt a tug at my heart strings. I'd always sensed he wasn't happy in the former barn, squeezed in between the stairs and the bookshelves. He didn't like the floor heating under his belly or David's Zoom calls right over his head (it's fair to say the old barn was just as happy to see him go):

Breathing room

Once Carl was back on his pegs in his old corner, it was as if he had come home. When I sat down to play, his notes resonated roundly, contentedly on the new stone floor.

Carl's place

Filled up with our belongings, the house appeared to emerge from a coma. By evening, in front of our first fire since last February, you could practically feel the heartbeat growing stronger.  

Home fires

By renovating this old place, we wanted to restore some of its life force, and I hope the above photos convince you too that we have succeeded. In any case, yesterday was a big birthday for Tasha and a (Covid-free, thank you booster!) milestone for us.

Happy 2022.