Yesterday was an at-home day. Except for the 3 hours in the morning that the entire quarter was without electricity. Nobody knows why and nobody was notified in advance but we assume it was because of the work being done down the street. When I left the dark apartment to go to the market, all the merchants were standing outside their similarly dark stores, smoking cigarettes and shooting the breeze, occasionally glancing up the street for any clues as to the problem, and then shrugging their shoulders while continuing their extended coffee break (without the coffee because nobody could make it). Nobody seemed too worked up about it.
I caught these two next door, outside their dim apartment doing much the same thing.
During those dark hours, I took off for the market to purchase the finishing touches for the summer terrace. It is finished, I am content and apero will be served tonight at 7.
But while working around the apartment today, I had time to notice some odd things in my building. I don't know its age, I just know this building is old. At least old in American terms. I've tried to do research on the street and my building in particular but I can't seem to find much. I have found references to the street, called Rue du Puits Neuf (Street of the New Well) as far back as the 14th century and I've been told that the shutters in my bedroom are at least 400 years old. So at it's youngest, this places my building's birth somewhere before the founding of Jamestown in Virginia.
The apartments in my building are situated around a very tiny court that I pass by to get in and out. I pay little attention to it because it's dark, damp, and sometimes very...stinky.
Once in awhile, Arthur-the-cat likes to escape the apartment, run down the stairs and gallivant around the court as if it's his own personal playpen. Yesterday, he made his move and I found him over in the corner, using some sort of stone basin for a litter box. As I chased him out, I took a closer look at the basin.
I'd never seen it before because it's hidden by the bike that nobody EVER uses. It looked very similar to basins I've seen near ancient, public water sources so I checked out the fenced area behind it. I had always thought it to be some sort of platform or planter. But, in fact, it is a well . Yes, an open well! I don't know about you, but I find this fascinating. I didn't realize that old buildings had their very own wells. Unless....unless...this is The Puits Neuf of medieval times and the building was actually built around it later. I'm just making this all up but it IS a possibility and I really must find out. Of course, in the states, a pit of danger like this would have been filled in and covered long ago.
And while we're on the subject of plumbing...sort of....I want you to check out my bathroom. At least the outside of it. This is how it looks across the court from my kitchen window.
The bathroom is, of course, a tiny bit bigger than that but this little triangle holds the toilet. And yes, with that pipe running out the bottom of it, everyone in the building is aware when I'm using it. Now this could possibly be an addition to the building, because, of course, there was generally no indoor plumbing at the time it was built. But on closer inspection yesterday, I could see that the beams that support it are original. So perhaps it was some sort of version of the first toilet which actually was invented at that time and used more in France than other countries. Probably not, but this is my story.
That being said, yesterday as I was staring at the bathroom from my kitchen window I noticed something. Something which is a little worrisome.
Can you see that big crack on the side? The one that seems to have been repaired over and over? Yeah, that one. There's another one on the other side...and another BIG one inside the bathroom. All I can say is, if I eat any more French cheese, there is a strong chance that one day they're going to find me, pants around my ankles, at the bottom of that deep dark well. Tell me, how does one take precautions against this particular disaster?
I just hope it doesn't happen today. Because it's Friday. And that apero on the terrace starts in 2 hours.
Bon week-end à tous,
P.S. I really am interested in finding out more about my neighborhood and my building. It's probably more interesting than making up my own stories. If anybody can point me in the right direction, I'd appreciate it.