dimanche 3 mai 2009

Black mold, Moosesucks tea

Preparing the blue room for painting

Yeah, I'm still here. I've just been a little busy.

In the midst of a major clean-up of the pool side of the lower lawn, I got it in my head that I needed to paint the guest rooms in the petite maison. Right away. It was like a bad itch.

It wasn't going to be enough to clean thoroughly, having evicted the absent workers' belongings and remnants of their occasional work from them, discarded cigarette packs and unraveling sweaters, sacks of chaux mix and plastic containers of pigment, boxes of screws and packages of sandpaper. The detritus of the work that was supposed to have been finished last November.

No, it was necessary to recover them completely, restore perfect order and make them fresh and sanitary. Of course, one thing leads to another, and now I am dans le proverbial po-po.

I only meant to paint the two rooms. You know, New York City house cleaning. Seal another generation or two of Daddy Long-legs and their webs, along with the balls of dust clinging to the rough "plaster" work, between the wall and the primer (well, yes, I do use primer, actually; it's kind of a high-end NYC cleaning-up-after-the-old-tenant job). That sort of thing. But, they didn't have any primer left at Leroy Merlin. I didn't even have time to ask how that could possibly be -- I mean, how stupid! -- before it occurred to me that it didn't really matter. I had another problem to deal with first. The previous owner -- ahem -- had a fascination with "special effects" paint with lots of texture; I had lissage to do before I got anywhere near a primer coat.

"C'est bien, Madame," dit le conseilleur, "Ca nous donnera le temps de tout mettre en rayon, pour mercredi je dirais." I can, in other words, expect to be able to purchase primer to seal the plaster on Wednesday. I'd hate for them to have to stock their shelves just for me.

I came home with 236 euros of paint, roller, brushes and enduit de lissage and got to work, heading first to the attic for the plastic tubs in which I mix the plaster, only to find a half bag of the mix. It figures, I chided myself, That's what you get for not looking to see what you had before going to the store. Ha! It took all of an hour or so to finish that bag and head for scissors to open the new one, a 5 kg + 1 kg free bag. By then, Audouin had been in and out several times, amused and perplexed by my sudden activity in the Blue Room.

"Tu vas faire les quatre murs?" he asked. Hm. Did he see an option I had missed?

"Oui. Les deux pièces." All four wall, both rooms. He looked around the small room.

"Tu as la cote," he said, taking note of the three animals filling what was left of the space and all available surfaces. I followed his eyes as he pointed their presence out to me, one by one, "Wisp est là, sur la table, et les deux chiennes sont là et là." It was true. They were all there, keeping me company, until they got bored and wandered off a few minutes later. I wasn't going to do anything very interesting, and I needed the heat turned up unreasonably hot to dry the plaster mix on the walls between applications and sanding.

"C'est bien que tu fasses ça," dit-il. "Je n'ai jamais aimé ce mur là." He meant the one I think of as blue, although it is really a watery sort of green with a deep blue paint on the wood trim. That's probably why I think of the room as being blue. "J'étais furieux quand elle a fait ça."

He meant his ex and the very roughly textured stuff she put on the wall and then stained the watery green.

"Je me suis donné un mal de chien pour bien lisser les joints dans le Placoplâtre pour que ça soit parfaitement lisse, et elle a mis ça."

I could feel his pain. I would have needed a drip of morphine. To live with her, too.

"Tu n'aurais pas eu besoin d'être si soigneux si tu l'avais su."

"Elle n'a pas vraiment refléchi au problème."

No, she didn't really think about it, and she made all his work superflu.

"Tu as besoin d'aide?" he asked.

He has no patience for this sort of thing. I declined in the nicest possible way, which is exactly what he was hoping I would do. He smiled, shook his head and went back to the house, while I trowled plaster onto the bumpy walls with great alacrity, satisfaction and zest. Some hours later, as the last light was fading in the evening sky, I had to turn on the overhead light, and I was only 2/3 done with two of the walls in the blue room, I started to wonder if he weren't right.

I am now working on the 15 or so kg bag I picked up at Monsieur Bricolage Sunday morning and off to the store again tomorrow. I'm also thinking that I really, really should have used the plaster mix for filling holes and cracks on that blue-green wall, that's how deep the relief is. You could hurt yourself if you tripped and fell against it wearing anything other than body armor.

Stay focused on the end result. Breathe, only not too deeply nor too rapidly.

Of course, I was ignoring one small thing, which is that I was going to an awful lot of trouble for two rooms that don't merit it. And, the black mold. The leak problem, you know, from the roof covered in flat ceramic tiles which is of far too shallow a pitch to permit anything but a metal roof or -- what I am going to do -- a toiture végetalisée. I have been watching the mold spread for some years now, thinking You're going to have to do something about that, and here I am, painstakingly plastering the walls for the paint, when we're going to have to rip the entire ceiling out once we fix the roof.

One little letter and we could be moving to Beverly Hills. As it is, we'll be going to la Salpêtrière! All puns intended (chemical, historical and anything else you can find).

So, do you think that is enough to stop me? Oh no. I want the rooms painted, and I am going to do that, even if I have to do it all over again.

As for the pool, well, that electric wire? The one that came out the side of the house and ran down the wall and then under the paving of the entry courtyard? The one I had the workers cut? Well, it turns out that it wasn't the one for the gazebo that doesn't work.

It was the one for the pool pump.

We're calling electricians to see who can get here fast, not rip us off and not claim we never said there was no electricity coming from the severed cable. Hey, that will be extra. Meanwhile, the pool is a lovely swamp.

It's always something.

Makes me think of Roseanne Roseanadanna.

"Well it just goes to show you, it's always something, you either got a toenail in your hamburger or toilet paper clinging to your shoe."
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