Friday, May 6, 2011


Wonderful things kept happening this past week, great to be on a good luck streak! The new car, the œufs blancs, and now on our stroll through Jardin LeCoq we saved about two dozen tulip bulbs (they were about to be discarded!)! It has been a long time since I last attended Garfield Park Conservatory’s TulipMania, a fabulous way to stock a garden; every year the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District plant thousands of tulips, and once they have finished blooming, the GPC gives them away for free. As of now a date hasn’t been scheduled, but it is usually on a Saturday in May, so check the website for a date and more info.
I’ll admit that although the two dozen free bulbs to tuck into pots for our porch next spring is a wonderful thing, this is not the biggest news that has me jumping for joy.

Many have listened and been incredibly sympathetic and helpful concerning our soap opera of finding and waiting out the renovations on our apartment in Clermont-Ferrand. Upon arrival last November, it was a tough time of year to be searching because no one was moving due to the Christmas vacation approaching. We were concentrating in centre ville on apartments with an elevator and just enough space for guests. Right when it seemed we would not find anything before our trip back to the States for Christmas, we found a great apartment; very central, with a grocery store close by, an open living area conducive to playtime, with bedrooms that could accommodate an American king size bed. A great view as well, Puy de Dôme and Place de Jaude were visible from the balcony. There were renovations ongoing to convert it from a travel bureau to a private dwelling, and we were promised a move in date of January 3.

The view west
Well, we returned from the States with bad news; the apartment would not be available until March 15th due to hold-ups with the renovations. We debated whether to wait, and eventually decided that another couple of months would be hard, but the apartment was just so much better than anything else we had looked at. When inquiring about signing a contract we originally had been told by our agent that this is not necessary, but now we pressed the issue again.

At some point in February/March we were told that we would not be able to have the apartment after all, and so we started looking anew. But every apartment we looked at stood in the shadow of the apartment. So when we were told that we could have it after all, but it would be April 15th before we could move in, we reevaluated the situation again. Having waited this long, we felt one more month would be worth it, but we decided to continue our search in the meantime. Then finally came a point when we were able to negotiate a contract signing, but about 15 minutes before the meeting they informed us that the price of the apartment had been increased… At this point the increase was not the problem, it was the principle of the matter; we had waited so long only to have another gauntlet to run! But we judged the additional renovations worth the increase and we signed, and the delivery of our shipment was again rescheduled.

The week before we were supposed to move in we toured the apartment. And I think I cried. The kitchen and bathroom were finished, but where they had done electrical work to remove the fifty electrical outlets for office computers the wallpaper was torn and filthy. The painting wasn’t finished, and in one bedroom a pipe had burst and the carpet was still wet! There was no way we were moving in a few days later… We were promised everything would be ready in one week, but the movers weren’t able to reschedule.  So we settled on the second of May, a Tuesday.

The weeks before the move we closely monitored the situation; we visited the apartment almost every day to watch the progress, with calls to agents to stay on top of things. But yet again we were met with a delay in getting the keys as discussed. This seemed to be the final straw and we scheduled a meeting at the apartment Monday to ascertain the situation. By this time we were starting to feel pressure to move out from our temporary apartment so another expatriated family could move in, after all it had been six months!

The first piece of good news in this whole final push came Monday, when the agent saw the wallpaper was mostly finished and declared that we could move our things in Tuesday after all. First thing in the morning the movers unloaded all of our belongings that we had not seen since October and by we were alone in an apartment overflowing with boxes

The view east

The one bedroom is still not ready; the pipe has been removed but not replaced (we are taking bets on what  will come out of the pipe before they fix it), the carpet is not installed, the wallpaper is not finished, but the rest of the apartment is ours. Yesterday was spent cleaning, we've started the unpacking, and the process continues each day anew. Once again the Latvian proverb labs nāk ar gaidīšanu or “good comes with a wait” proved to be true; despite the slight, lingering odor of paint and the boxes in every corner, we can see how beautiful it is, how comfortable we will be living there and how happy our family will be for the remainder of our time in France.


  1. What great news!!!! I can't wait to see your new apartment. AND it is very close to us. :)
    ps- the countdown is on, less than one month and Jacob will be 6mths (aka old enough to go to the baby swim classes on Wednesdays). Tell Lauris to get his baby speedo ready!!!!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS! You must be beyond thrilled to be in your new home. Best of luck settling in :-)

  3. Thanks Kim & Sara- we are very happy to see all our stuff! Still haven't unpacked the baby speedo...


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