Week 11 (13–19 March 2023)
A bit late on this one! I'll be quick to make sure this gets published on Monday (I aim for Sundays, but yesterday I was busy throwing buckets of spring water out of a well).
This week I helped out in the garden—season is starting and there's a lot to do!
- planted potatoes with F (the potatoes had grown huge germs in the cellar, let's see if they survive in soil)
- prepped the greenhouse1: weeding (painful, knowing that the weeds were basically all edible), watering the soil (very dry in there), breaking up the earth using a grelinette and mixing it with manure that we picked up at a neighbor's
- planted salads with F in the greenhouse! Got salad seedlings at the Les Vans market last Saturday. Unfortunately they all died over the week. We're not sure if the seedlings were not great, if it was still too early for planting (the greenhouse still gets quite cold at night), or if there was eaten by some bug/slug/salad-loving-thing (it wasn't me)
- drained a well2 with P who thankfully knew what he was doing. P and his team are going to waterproof the well thing, so it had to be empty. It was full of water and mud and tadpoles and baby salamanders (!) that we tried to save. Besides the age-old water bucket method (my shoulders are in pain) we made an actual siphon with a really long tube, probably my first time seeing this applied out of a classroom (never has to empty a car tank)
Looking for a car
We obviously3 need a car (thankfully not urgently, since we can share F's, but the sooner the better).
This week we met A who took us to Aubenas for a tour of used car dealerships. It was great to go with someone who knows about cars, because I don't. We took a bunch of pics and notes and listened to salesmen try to sell cars (they're convincing! I could never work in sales).
Back home, we spent hours going through the websites of these dealerships, where they list cars on offer. This helped us form an idea of what we're looking for without the pressure of a convincing salesman standing right there. C made a spreadsheet where we sorted through and compared them (some key criteria: trunk size big enough to put a bouldering crashpad, engine powerful enough for the Monts d'Ardèche hills, white if possible because black cars get really hot in the summer, in good enough shape so we don't have to bring it to the auto repair too much).
Our top choice is a 2019 Toyota Yaris and if everything goes to plan, we'll drive back to the dealership this week for a test drive in the hills. Fingers crossed!
But wait! That's not all! (I wish.) Owning a car also means subscribing to car insurance, which I never had to do before, since I only ever drove my parents' car and rentals. And no car insurance history means that insurance is pricey. Initially I wanted to go for Matmut, a more responsible insurance co-op that F uses and swears by4. But the Matmut lady said that I was looking at roughly 220 €/mo, so instead I'll probably subscribe to L'Olivier, an online insurance (is "neoinsurance" a thing?) operated by a large and British insurance group.
- Force Majeure (2014) and The Square (2017) by Ruben Östlund. Wow! I loved Triangle of Sadness when it came out in cinemas last year, but I hadn't thought of checking what else the director had done. Turns out he'd already won a Palme d'Or (for The Square). I loved both films, they're exactly my type I think (black comedy satires). Force Majeure is about masculinity and family on the backdrop of a Swedish family's holiday in the French Alps (I wrote something about it). The Square is a satire of the (modern) art world and includes two monkeys, one real and one imitated. Both highly recommended (and both on MUBI FR for a week or so, referral link).
- The Humans (2021) by Stephen Karam. Intense! With an amazing Beanie Feldstein (saw her when we started the What We Do In The Shadows US series5 and in Booksmart) and Steven Yeun (Minari, Nope, ...) and the rest of the ensemble cast, really. Loved the huis clos setting (is there an English term for this) (huis clos films are always good) and almost-counts-as-horror vibes. Anything produced by A24 is worth a watch.
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) by James Cameron. Rewatch and second feature of the franchise, after my rewatch of The Terminator last week. As promised, I tried to read up on how pioneering this was back in the late 1980s, and I've read articles6 that credit Cameron with giving birth to the sci-fi-action genre. Until then, there were sci-fi films, and there were action films (martial arts, James Bond), but not really both at once. Also how the original film came out is interesting: Cameron worked as a special effects artist before becoming a director (explains a lot) and when he made The Terminator, studios thought it would just be another B-movie for grindhouse theaters. There must have been something different (the plot? the sci-fi? the naked square-jawed bodybuilder with a German accent?), because it was an instant success and launched Cameron's directing career.
- Shorts! One that stood out was Tuesday (2015) by Charlotte Wells. There is definitely a resemblance to her debut feature Aftersun (2022), both thematic and in the short's sensitivity/subtlety. If you liked Aftersun you'll like Tuesday (and vice versa).
In other news: Everything Everywhere All At Once was clearly the big winner at this year's Academy Awards (7 oscars!). Truly deserved, in my opinion, but I wish that less hyped-up films (hello Aftersun, Triangle of Sadness etc.) had also had a few wins.
A graphic novel: Le poids des héros by David Sala. (I might have read this last week and forgot to mention it.) Through the eyes of himself as a child, the author tells the story of his grandfathers, both part of the French resistance during WW2. Touching plus beautifully illustrated.
Short stories: L'exil et le royaume by Camus. F already re-read this after our sieste littéraire a couple weeks ago (where we heard L'hôte) and now it's my turn. I just started it (read the first story, La femme adultère) and man, this Camus guy is pretty good at this. Not a heated one, basically just plastic sheets over a bit of the garden, still temp went up to 45 degrees when I weeded for the first time in February (yes Celcius, no I don't know what this is in F) ↩ How is this called? Since we're on a slope the hole in the ground is horiontal instead of vertical, but it collects groundwater just like a well (or is it just surface groundwater?) ↩ With the closest shop being 1h+ walk away and all ↩ Just like we're opening a bank account at a more responsible bank. (This is still not finished, by the way. We received, by mail, a copy of our joint account opening request. This is basically the equivalent of "contact form submitted".) ↩ ...which we quickly abandoned because it disappointed in contrast to the NZ feature-length original. Might watch again. ↩
Not a heated one, basically just plastic sheets over a bit of the garden, still temp went up to 45 degrees when I weeded for the first time in February (yes Celcius, no I don't know what this is in F) ↩
How is this called? Since we're on a slope the hole in the ground is horiontal instead of vertical, but it collects groundwater just like a well (or is it just surface groundwater?) ↩
With the closest shop being 1h+ walk away and all ↩
Just like we're opening a bank account at a more responsible bank. (This is still not finished, by the way. We received, by mail, a copy of our joint account opening request. This is basically the equivalent of "contact form submitted".) ↩
...which we quickly abandoned because it disappointed in contrast to the NZ feature-length original. Might watch again. ↩