Tuesday, August 9, 2022

To Buy or Not to Buy…

A day trip to Durtal.

When we prepared for our move to France, we chose to eliminate almost all of our possessions. The process was literally mind-numbing. We had to decide whether to keep, sell, consign, donate, recycle, give, or pitch. 

Every. Single. Time.

Often, things we wanted to keep were too big, heavy or the wrong voltage for Europe. (Vitamix, KitchenAid, welder, Miata.) Papers, photos, and files we had to keep, so that meant hours and hours of scanning and then shredding. 

We kept a few things folks might consider odd. I kept a set of spatulas we received as a wedding gift 40 years ago. They are thin and are made of nylon and steel and work better than anything I have purchased to replace them. Cooking with something that feels familiar, immediately brought comfort and a sense of home.

I read everywhere to bring measuring cups and spoons because items in Europe were only available in metric measurements. So wrong! I have found measuring cups and spoons everywhere. I was told to bring antiperspirant as they only have deodorant. Wrong. I found antiperspirant. I could have used that space or weight for a roll of Kirkland parchment paper (far superior quality) or celery seeds or cinnamon. Cinnamon is expensive and celery seeds are not available here. To buy celery in the supermarché is expensive and you just break off a stalk or two. The whole bunch would be about $5.

When you buy produce in most grocery stores, you bag it and take it to a scale, input the item and the scale prints out a barcode that you place on the bag. There is always a line at the scale and if you forget, when you get to the register you either give up the item or hold up the entire line (because there is always a line) and run to print out the label. So of course, you choose to finish checking out, then go back and print a label, and then get back in line for that one item.

But I digress.

As we begin the process of re-acquiring possessions, the thought process is just as mind-numbing as it was to purge, only it sends us down a deeper rabbit hole. 

Go to the store, hunt for the item, what is it called in French? Which store carries it? Find the item. Not really the best quality and kind of expensive. Do we really need it? What else will work? Will it fit in our backpack or shopping bag? Can we carry it on the bus? Can we skip the bus and just carry it all the way home? Can it wait till we are in our permanent home? Should we to move to an apartment that is cheaper to rent? Could we stand living in an apartment? Can we rent a house? Should we buy a house again? Will the dollar ever be this strong again? What if they don’t renew our visa? If we buy a house, will we need a car? Can we get a driver’s license in France? Do we want to pay $2000 EACH for the auto-école (privately run enterprises that are pretty much required to pass the driver exams)? 

Every. Single. Time.

Quite often, we decide we just don’t need whatever it is we were looking for. It really is freeing to not have all of that stuff and the thought of reacquiring feels burdensome. 

The one item we refer to as “unobtainium” is true 18/10 stainless steel daily flatware. Here, tableware is 18/0 and a magnet will stick to them. When touching a fork or spoon to my tongue, I get a weird tingling sensation like sticking my tongue on the terminals of a 9v battery. (John is immune. Lucky guy!) If we import them from the US, they will cost as much in import tax as the actual items. 

So my one piece of advice is, if your tongue can detect cheap silverware and you plan to move to France, keep your flatware! 

Best spatulas ever!

Le Bout du MONDE - the end of the world.
In Durtal with a fun, new friend.

The chateau is owned by a young couple who just had a baby. Tours were given by the mother-in-law as schedules permitted. Often, one owns a chateau because it was an inheritance. This can be referred to as a “cadeau empoisonné” or a gift of poison. Think of repairs, maintenance, upgraded building codes to meet and taxes. Oh la la!

Tuning a Steinway in a small former church that has been turned into a music school.
We attended a “Master Class” for a select few piano prodigies from around the world. 
Their talent was astounding.

Our local swan babies are growing up!

The Maine-et-Loire region is experiencing a terrible drought, heatwaves, and now fires. We are about to experience our fourth heatwave or “la canicule” meaning “dog days.” Water use is very restricted. Food gardens may be watered from 8 pm to 8 am. No other watering is allowed. No car washing at home. The wooded areas of parks are off limits from 1 pm to 10 pm due to increased fire danger. On a recent walk, we learned how farmers are efficiently providing water to cows.
Here is a link to see (and hear) this watering system in action:

Smoke makes for dramatic sunsets.

A very sad update.

 Our surrogate pup passed away suddenly from heart failure.

His bouncy arrival multiple times a day made us tremendously happy 
and we fell head over heels for him.

We are crushed and miss him terribly.

Always in our hearts.


  1. Omg Kirkland is the best. Hands down
    I was thinking about you both with these awful fires. Glad you’re ok
    I think that chateau was featured on Escape to the Chateau DIY. Beautiful place. Hope to see more posts. Love living France through you ❤️

  2. "Unobtainium," I love it (the word that is.) I'm glad you found your spatulas (I remember you looking for them before you left.) It's the little things, eh? Anywho, more wonderful observations and photos! Loving it.

  3. Your bike rides sound heavenly. Brought a tear to my eye to read about how healing it was for you guys. Again, loving the pics... especially the pup and the beetle. That music though! Wow! Thanks for sharing that. I may need to listen to that on a regular basis. Very serene and healing.