* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Saturday, October 22, 2016

When work is joy

Work is joy 1Last month, we participated in the annual fall clean-up at the children's camp we volunteer helping keep in shape.  Over the years, we've all managed to take this property that was falling apart from lack of attention and turn it into a space of beauty and relaxation, although getting and keeping it there hasn't been so relaxing!

We now pretty much do the same things every year, so it would be boring to keep showing you the same activities.  But I like to honor the various people who dedicate their time to this endeavor each year, plus give a bit of a progress report on how everything continues to improve.

I'll start off with my own pride and joy, the pretty fire pit I brought back from a horrible mess several years ago, and now just takes a bit of annual weeding.

Work is joy 2
Climbing high to fix the door spring
Work is joy 3
The guys shaving the door bottom

There are always small repair jobs that need to be taken care of involving the chalet.

But fortunately, there are always a few guys who are able to handle it all. 

Doc Leo and a few others always take up huge personal kits of tools, and they always turn out to be quite handy. 

Work is joy 4
Cleaning the shower room
Work is joy 5
Keeping things fresh

Of course, there is always deep cleaning to be done, which is never much fun or very rewarding. 

But these women come as often as they can and stay as long as they can, managing to get the most unpleasant jobs taken care of, leaving some of the rest of us time to pursue other more attractive jobs.

Work is joy 6
Working the sewing machine
Our resident Swede is the chief menu planner, and it's always exciting to see what she has planned for us each meal.  She also does all the mending of the various linens.

Work is joy 7
Keeping the kitchen equipment shiny

Even the association president's wife gets down and dirty, coming down from Paris each time to do whatever is needed! 

Cleaning the grates of the big kitchen oven requires going outside.  I have a feeling she didn't cart this out there all by herself!

Work is joy 8
Oh, that fresh mountain air!

As usual, if there are enough others to do the cleaning, I try to avoid as much as possible, preferring to find outdoor projects nobody else wants to do. 

However, several years ago I took over the laundry job, my concession to interior work.  That does free up others from having to pay attention to the wash cycles, while it allows me a fair amount of free time for whatever exterior project I've come up.

Sometimes the weather is not very cooperative for either of my activities, but we had some fairly pleasant days this year, as you can see.

Work is joy 9
Trimming the grounds one more time
Work is joy 10
Removing excess brush and limbs
After a few years of regular attention, the grounds are now starting to look quite nice by the time the crew gets finished. 

Work is joy 11
Filling in the ruts

Some years, mountain storms manage to erode various areas during the year.  This year, we discovered major pits in the driveway, erosion having washed away too much gravel. 

As with everything else, replacing the gravel was a manual job after getting a delivery.  But a few strong arms were able to make short work of that big pile.

Fortunately, the heavy loads went downhill, leaving empty wheelbarrows to come back up.

Work is joy 12
I'll shovel down this side . . .
Work is joy 13
. . . and I'll shovel from this side

Work is joy 14
The slopey slope

I started a new project this year, part of continuing a different one I did earlier. 

My goal, now that the general grounds are under control, is to create a nicer environment, a bit more user friendly for the campers, and using more of the property that's kind of forgotten.

Work is joy 15
Marking out the project (while hanging the wash)
The idea is to smooth out the base of a small hillside, which will both give a bit more flat area, plus provide some extra dirt that's needed to fill in holes and build up areas elsewhere.  I'm also hoping that will make it easier to transition between mowing the sports field and debrushing the hillside.

You can see the guideline marking my plan of attack.

Work is joy 16
A flatter, larger path around the corner
I started at the corner of the chalet, where the ground had been eroding from around the steps, while the hillside has narrowed the passageway quite a bit.  At least I didn't have to take that dirt very far, just raking it across to fill in the low spots.

Work is joy 17
Wielding that pickaxe yet another year
As I got around the corner, I had to start loading the wheelbarrow with the excess dirt I was digging up.  Sometimes I had help, sometimes not.

Work is joy 18
Creating more room
Work is joy 19
The promise of a finished project (next year?)
I didn't get as far as I'd expected, but at least this was a start, and it will be easier to get the tools around the corner of the building now, as they are stored under the steps.

I used a lot of the weeds I dug up to cover the bare dirt against winter erosion.

Work is joy 20
Enlarging an eroded corner

My last project involved trying to fix up an area the wild boar had torn up.  I ended up repositioning a lot of that dirt to make two bigger flat areas rather than an unusable slope, but I ran out of dirt. 

You can see here where I've built up more of this particular corner slope with the dirt from the other side of the field.  Last time those two smaller rocks were just sitting on the surface as an erosion control help.

Work is joy 21
One day this will look more refined and usable

Here is an overall view of where I was working.  I've raked clean a lot of the slope, hoping that at least green weeds might cover it.

I've collected a lot of little rocks in the ground, which might help in building a little base wall when I get it all finished.

You can see I didn't get real far, but at least it's a start for next time.  And the ground all around the fire pit has really filled in nicely, I think!

Work is joy 22
Taking a break
Work is joy 23
Ready for coffee, anyone?

There is more to life than hard work, and we had some play time, too. 

Good friends take a moment to just enjoy each other's company, while the president makes morning coffee for break time.

Work is joy 24
We are so happy to work hard to earn our meals

We all enjoy gathering together for meal time, of course. 

This particular day, a group of young women came up and did a whirlwind cleaning job in the bedrooms, while part of the early team had already gone back home.

Work is joy 25
Too pretty to eat!
I will leave you with a beautiful plate of fruit that me, myself, and I arranged in a moment of a creative burst away from laundry and landscaping.  As this is not usually an area where I excel, I was quite pleased with the end result!


  1. Hard work but great results. Must be very satisfying.

  2. A lot of work, but satisfying. And nice to see old friends.

  3. As always, your labors leave it much nicer than you found it. Thou good and faithful servant comes to mind. Looks like you had really nice weather.


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