vendredi 24 octobre 2008

The work today, bonding

The north-facing street elevation, above
and the east-facing entry court elevation, below right
unfinished -- courtyard elements are missing

with the larger glassed-entry porch

(I am sitting behind that window, on street level, in the newer part of the house)

Things did not go they way I expected today.

Yesterday, Joaquim left saying Georges and José would be here, with him, to lay out the half-timber motif on the street side, "Tu auras les côtes pour la fenêtre, oui? Tu les auras?"

"Oui. Oui, je les aurai." I will have the dimensions for the new window ready. I promised. We needed them to be able to determine the spacing between the vertical members on the second floor.

"Okay, et je ferai les chiffres pour la fenêtre et la verrière."


"Okay! Salut! A demain!"

Sometime this morning, I hear Baccarat do her greeting bark from the living room. It means Joaquim has arrived. He smells like her pal Bandit.

It was late. Late-ish.

"Allo? Tu es là?" The door opened.

"Je suis là, dans le bureau," I called, muttering to myself. I feel like he lives here now, too.

"Tu es disponible? Je peux venir?" Available and even dressed, albeit in the same t-shirts and awful sweatpants as yesterday, with my old alpalca winter coat to keep me warm. Quite the sight. No one can accuse me of vanity.

Nor of pride.

What followed was a breathless 2-hour conversation about kids, ADD, Ritalin, parenting, his ex-wife, and finally a word or two about the project as he was leaving. I say breathless because he not only talks, he acts. His speech is physical. I kept thinking of Daniel Auteuil doing Molière. Images of Puck sprang to mind. Where others would let the words convey their meaning, Joaquim uses his hands, his face, his body, movement. His conversation is staged; chaque conversation, chaque échange un vértitable mise en scène.

He already speaks clearly and provocatively. Alors, imaginez un peu.

"Vous-êtes venu seul?" Yes, he had come alone. Georges and José were finally on another job for the day, to bring in some more money, but, he promised, it's all a question of organization and timing; our job would take a huge step forward next week. I reminded him that I have to face my husband and explain their absences. I explained explicitly; je fus explicite.

I handed him the dimensions for the half-timber motifs and the new window, "Donc finie la semaine prochaine, la façade rue."

"Promis." As you are my witnesses.

So far, minun aviomies hasn't asked what they did today. Ouf! I paried by saying that Joaquim said today that the street façade, the old part of the house, would be finished by the end of the week and the scaffolding would come down. That leaves the newer part of the house, but we are merely covering it with the chaux, and it is much smaller. It will be for later.

"Et le balcon?" Funny he should ask that, for I just happened to ask Joaquim the same myself.

"Bientôt." I had forgotten the answer. Soon. "Tu sais, ce fut beaucoup plus cher que prévu. Joaquim bouffe le coût additionnel."

"Combien?" How much.



"Deux fois le devis, mais je pense que le gar exaggère. A mon avis ce fut entre les deux, et il va juste prendre moins dessus." Which means, for the non francophone, that the balcony came to twice the estimate, but I think the carpenter is exaggerating his price, and will take less profit on it, while Joqauim will do the same. It's also a way to show me that he is making efforts for me.

Shadow theater.

Like yesterday. It turned out that the replacement of a major window was not included, as far as he was concerned. I was devastated. It had been unclear all along, with the involvement of an acquaintance who presented himself as the head of the business, but appears to have no relationship. Les choses furent compliqués entre Joaquim et lui, and I haven't heard the end of Joaquim's displeasure and disappointment in him. One day, I will do a real character study of Joaquim. He is fascinating.

I told him that if that window were not included, he could attend my divorce proceedings. I laid out how I had gone out on a limb to get him on board to do this project and not someone else who would tell my husband that he knew better than I did what was possible, while I knew we weren't what we wanted, and what we could have, "pour le même prix ou plus," rajouta Joaquim.

"C'est exacte."

He needs to feel appreciated, valued and respected, and then he works with pleasure and pride. It might sound trite, but it is true. I will explain one day, but think of the value system of a pre-industrial system, before business was based on greed, and you can better understand Joaquim.

You can also better understand me.

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