Living In Provence: Paradise in Provence?

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at Bonjour Paris? Here is a rare glimpse of an e-mail, reproduced in its entirety, sent by BP author Patricia Fieldsteel in response to BP Director General Sarah Gilbert Fox’s query (also by e-mail) about how someone lucky enough to live in that Paradise called Provence could have had a bad day. My lousy day, you ask 1. Emily (dog) ate cat vomit and then had diarrhea all over the library rug (woven). 2. Tiny Tim (one of my NYC cats) disappeared and I was sure I would never see him again. (I found him around 11 PM last night in the parking lot by the river.) 3. My bank in NYC suddenly started charging enormous fees every time I use the ATM and I discovered yesterday that I have almost no money for the rest of the month because I’ve paid over $200 in ATM fees for the privilege of using my own money (this in addition to the devalued dollar, which we won’t even get into). My banker is trying to work something out to permanently waive the fees, otherwise I will have to switch banks. And that may not work as this appears to be a new national policy insisted upon by Mastercard/Visa to punish those of us smart enough to get out. Don’t ask! 4. I’m fat, ugly and stupid and a terrible person–nothing new there! 5. I got yet another phone bill (money taken directly out of my French bank account) from France-Telecom even though I discontinued with them in March and now use Neuf Telecom. I have been paying double phone bills for months and each carrier blames the other. Spent half the day on the phone (a considerable portion on hold listening to a recording thanking me for being a patient customer–ha!) trying to straighten this out and got nowhere, plus I don’t understand a word of French telephone jargonese. 6. The lavabo (sink) in my bedroom was stopped up. I took apart all the pipes underneath to try to clear the blockage and discovered 300 years’ (age of my house) worth of foul-smelling crap in there. Removed buckets of it only to realize I would have to buy a plumbing snake. Went down to Roux (hardware store in Nyons) and bought said snake which put me back 19 euros and 90 centimes. Used said snake to clear pipes and snake got caught in the pipe which then detached itself from the wall. Ran back down to Roux in the middle of a thunderstorm–they were closing in 5 minutes–with said snake stuck in said large pipe–all smelling foul beyond belief, as did I by this point. Sales guy in Roux told me I needed to call a plumber. Explained the whole reason I do my own plumbing is because I can’t afford a plumber. Begged and pleaded, would he please disengage said snake from said pipe.   After a torrent of French which I didn’t understand, he agreed to disengage snake from pipe, thereby spraying both of us with foul-smelling black slime. He then pointed out (as if I hadn’t noticed) that the part of the pipe that had come off the wall was broken. I suggested I buy a new pipe. The pipe he tried to sell me was six feet long; I pointed out that I needed approximately three feet of pipe–this was all done in meters which I have never figured out–and he said I would have to cut the pipe myself, that’s how it’s sold. Pointed out I had nothing with which to cut said pipe, could he maybe do it for me. He responded he was not a bricoleur. Could he try?Enormous torrent again of technical French I didn’t understand. Bought new pipe, came back home, discovered pipe in wall filled with smelly black/brown slime. Stuck newly liberated snake into wall to disengage slime. Snake got stuck in wall. Could not take side of house with stuck snake down to Roux, plus they were closed. Realized new pipe wouldn’t  fit anyway, even if there were no snake in the wall. Accepted fact I would have to call plumber. Placed call. He is on vacation for month of August. Snake remains in wall. Foul smell permeating the bedroom. Can’t  use lavabo unless I leave a large bucket underneath. 7. Went up to roof terrace to retrieve laundry which was getting wet and dirty from rain. On the way, discovered cat vomit on library rug.
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