If you were reading my earlier blog posts on Provence du Jour, you may remember seeing this photo where Corey is holding a large, oval plaster frame. I found it in the old chateau that we visited and without thinking first “How am I going to get this back to the states?,” I just knew it had to go home with me. Never mind that it wouldn’t fit in a suitcase, or even in the large duffel that I packed with the empty toilet box we found in the dumpster to protect my treasures. The graceful detail and the carved relief was too beautiful to leave behind.
So Corey says, “Well, you can just leave it with me and get it when you come back.” How was she so confident at the time to know that it wouldn’t be long before I returned? Hmmm, I think she’s seen the smitten look before. So she graciously has stored it in her house since May, and on this recent trip I had the challenge to figure out how in the hell to get this thing back to Atlanta.
I had two choices — find a professional shipper who would likely charge an exorbitant amount, but at least I might be confident in it making it home in one piece given its fragility. Or if I could pack it up securely enough, maybe, just maybe I could check it as a piece of luggage on the plane home with me? Decided to go with option number two.
I carried the frame with me on to my friend Lisa’s house for the last week of my trip. After determining that we couldn’t find any sturdy enough boxes that would work, she reached out to a friend who might be able to get his hands on one of the boxes in which radiators are shipped in France. So I met Yvan, and we started a daily box drop. He loves to joke around and it was fun to talk with him in my limited French.
Yvan dropped off boxes for a couple of days but each time none of them were big enough. I found a cardboard waste bin down the road and lugged a few home. The day before I was scheduled to leave, Yvan arrived with the biggest box yet and lots of padding material, but it still wasn’t quite large enough. As I was trying to figure out the best way to pad and pack the frame, you could see it in his face that he wanted to get involved and pack it in a much better way than I was attempting. So we started wrapping and wrapping, and then wrapping some more, and then Yvan created a box out of all the cardboard that we had been collecting. When it was time to put tape on to secure an area, he shouted “Scotch!” (Now I know that “Scotch” is a universal word for tape.) We added more cardboard and finally, Yvan was throwing in every piece of styrofoam, paper or plastic that he could find to provide more cushioning than we probably needed. And like any good friend who is supervising the job, Lisa brought out pastis for Yvan and wine for us to make the task more pleasant. I mean really, you cannot be expected to pack a big box without a glass of wine.
Yvan worked for so long and so hard that I just had to offer to compensate him in some way. Yet when I offered to pay him for his help, he simply looked at me as if I was crazy and said “But it wasn’t work. It was something I did from my heart.” Oh, what a different place the world would be if every day we could all say that often to one another, even a stranger. I promised Yvan that if the frame made it back in one piece, I would put a large photo of him behind it and we’d have a party in his honor.
I think I was afraid to learn whether our efforts had been a success or a failure, so it took me a couple of days after returning to open the box. After all that work, the Moment of Truth for whether it was in one piece. But…..drumroll please…..Voila! It was a success, and the frame made it back in its perfect, old condition.
Now that it’s here I’m not exactly sure where I want to use it. Eventually I hope to find a piece of old mirror for it, so in the meantime I decided to take down the painting that was above the fireplace and hang it there. Then I added some pumpkins for fall decor, but it all looked a little…..well, white and blah.
So I suspended this Italian framed mirror inside it for the time being — what do you think? I like the rectangular contrast with the oval frame. In what other ways can you see the frame being used? Would love to hear your ideas, I think there are scores of possibilities.
So, merci, Corey for keeping the frame safe amidst your busy life over the last five months. And to Lisa and Yvan, merci beaucoup for all your help in getting it packaged! This treasure wouldn’t be alive and well in my house now if it weren’t for you both. Especially the self-proclaimed “Bad Boy,” who’s got a photo of honor coming soon to an oval frame in Atlanta.