Monday, January 25, 2010

Buenas Dias, Puerto Vallarta

I haven't been to Mexico since about 1977 but we are going this March. We have traded our house in Leran to a Canadian couple for two weeks. We go to their condo in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and they will spend two weeks at our village house in France. What a deal. We listed our house with an on-line agency. You post some photos of your place and either actively look for places to go, contact the owners and strike a deal, or (and this is what we did) sit back and wait for the offers to roll in.
We have also gotten offers for trades in Holland, Austria, Marseilles, Paris, England, Ireland and places I've forgotten. I am really quite surprised that so many people want to trade for our house, a humble, modest house in a humble and modest village in southern France, but they do. We got an incredible number of offers from Australia, and if we had so desired, we could have made any number to trades and spent an entire season down under. I don't know what the attraction is for Australians, perhaps their dollar is strong right now against the Euro, who knows.
I passed through Puerto Vallarta on a family trip to Manzanillo. We stopped for a few minutes in the central portion of town many years ago. I thought then, and I've heard from others and read that Puerto Vallarta is the most European of Mexican villages. Well, judging by the photo above, it doesn't look like much of a village, more like a city. In any case, it will be good to get out of Dodge for awhile and seek out some warm weather and beach time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We Get Letters

I got an e-mail from Julian asking about the painting over the mantel in the last post. I can oblige. It's a watercolor by Gary Davis, a former Coloradoan, now living in Mesa, Arizona. We made a trade years ago, when we were all poor as church mice. I traded a camera lens for the painting and I'm sure I got the better part of the deal.

The story behind the painting is this: the old truck sat for many years alongside this old building in Crested Butte, Colorado. It was there when I first visited CB in 1966 and it was gone when I was working construction there in 1972. Gary had gotten a photo of it at some point and had done the painting. The truck sat on the east side of the building, or in the photo below, the right side.

The building is now a museum but it was once a hardware store/gasoline station, a Conoco station. I worked for a brief time at the competitive gas station at the edge of town, a Standard Oil.

In this drawing, you can see where the truck would have been sitting, decomposing and rusting away. And in the photo below, you can see the building when it was a gas station. Crested Butte was a coal mining town before it was a ski area. (It still retains some of the old charm, even though skiing eventually ruins everything it touches, speaking in an environmental and historical sense.) The town was populated by old miners from eastern Europe, with Hungarian, Slovakian, Croatian, Czech, Serbian and Polish names. It was always interesting to observe, in the bars, the mixing of the old population with the new, young skiing crowd. I 'm sure its still be interesting to look at the names in the Crested Butte phonebook.

Anyway, that's the backstory of the painting that sits on our mantel. Sometime this summer, Nancy and I will re-visit Crested Butte. It's about 75 miles away from Montrose. Keep checking in.

Monday, January 18, 2010

On to Plan B (What is Plan B?)

Removing wallpaper and painting walls is about the most exciting thing we've been doing lately. I think the results are really nice but we look forward to spring and summer and working outside in the yard. Above is the newly furnished and painted dinning room, and below is the newly furnished and painted living room. Fergus hangs out near the fireplace, which is not a bad idea.
Look, a heating duct between the studs. I guess it should have been expected. But I was surprised.

We have a master plan which includes totally re-modeling the upstairs bathroom. Before we can do that, we have to add a shower to the downstairs bathroom, so that we have someplace to clean up while the upstairs bath is in transition. We had decided we could tuck a small shower under the staircase, and so we ripped into the wall, only to find a heating duct for the bathroom upstairs. Hmm. What to do? Stick with plan A or move on to Plan B. Move the duct or move the shower? We're waiting for a heating and plumbing professional to come and tell us what our options might be. Either way, it's going to be more complicated than we had originally planned.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter in Leran

The Rue du Four with a load of snow looks rather forlorn. Our friend Julian sent us these photos thinking we might be interested to see what Leran looks like under a blanket of snow, and he was right. From my American perspective, I am wondering how a snowplow gets down the street, and the answer is they don't, I guess. Do they have snowplows in southern France? They must. But for the Rue du Four, it must just have to melt off some sunny and warm day. And if a snowplow could get down the street, it would just pile up snow on the doorstep. On the plus side, there is very little sidewalk to shovel. Here, in our new American residence in Montrose, we have, perhaps, around 300 to 400 feet of sidewalk that we are required to shovel after a storm. Fortunately, we haven't had much snow here.
This is Cours St. Jacque and the blue shutters are on the front of l'Impasse du Temple, John and LeeAnn's B&B.

This is the old Mairie, above, and below is the front of our humble residence with what might be a foot of snow sitting on someone's car. It all looks rather cold and gloomy, with the snow and grey, pewter colored sky. All in all, right now, I'm happy to be here in Colorado where the sun shines every day. I know there would be no hope of being toasty warm inside 14 Rue du Four.