lundi 27 juillet 2009

Not living with it



Read the post below before this one to make sense of it.


There was a knock at the door, next to where I was working on the terrace plans on the dining room table. My office at present.

"Madame?"

"Oui, Georges. Entrez." I said "come in", but he stuck his head in the door.

"Vous avez deux minutes? Même pas?"

"Même pas, mais j'arrive."

"Vous avez vu les volets?" I crossed my arms across my chest and decided to tell the truth.

"Oui. Ils sont très bien faits, mais ils ne sont pas la bonne couleur."

"Non?" His eyes scanned the shutters laying about the yard, leaning up against the trees and the house.

"Non. Ils étaient sensés d'être cette couleur," I touched the dark eggplant paint on the French door to my left. His eyes followed. "Mais ils sont beaucoup plus rouge bordeaux." I looked over at the several shutters leaning against the house, gleaming in that 5 minutes of afternoon sun. His eyes followed. He nodded.

"C'est pas pareil," he agreed, "mais, c'est tout ce qu'ils ont eu. J'ai du choisir des échantillons des couleurs qu'ils utilisent, et c'était la plus proche."

"Ils n'ont pas utilisé la couleur que Joaquim a préparé? Mais pourquoi pas?" He explained that they didn't have it. I explained that I understood that, but that they can make a custom color. Anyone can make a custom color, or, if they won't, then I needed to know that so that I could decide what to do. "Bon, le problème est que ceci introduit une troisième couleur, et même Joaquim disait tout au début, quand on a commencé ce projet, que ça c'est à éviter. C'est trop. Ca change tout." He nodded again. "Ecoutez, c'est très, très bien fait. C'est exactement ce que nous avons voulu au niveau de finison, mais la couleur change tout qu'on a fait jusqu'à présent."

"Vous auriez du me prevenir, pour quoi vous me l'avez pas dit?," I wasn't expecting a reply to the question, "Why didn't you tell me?" It was rhetorical. He didn't reply. He looked at me, a little helplessly. Same old same old, since the beginning of the story. He looked at the shutters leaning against the house, wine red against the ochre stucco and the dark gray bands that are supposed to get much darker, dark chocolate brown, and nodded.

"On peut les peindres ici. Joaquim connait la couleur, et on peut rajouter une couche ici."

"Avec un système de projection, pas une brosse?"

"Oui, avec un -- ", here he made a spraying sound. I repeated it.

"Vous pouvez le faire."

"Oui. C'est bien fait, quand même. Ils ont traité les volets avec une oxidation --"

"Contre la rouille? C'est très bien. Je vois que c'est bien fait."

"Mais c'était la couleur la plus proche. Je peux vous le montrer. J'ai toutes les couleurs dans le camion."

And, indeed, it was the closest to the color Joaquim had made in response to my description of what I wanted. Joaquim, who seemed a color magician at the time. But, I explained, the sunlight changes everything.

"Je n'ai même pas remarqué tout de suite," I consoled him, pointing to the ones leaning up against the linden tree in the shade. "Quand on regarde ceux-là, ils ont l'aire bien; c'est la lumière qui change tout." It's why, I explained, we ask for samples on the same material, so that we can see them in place and confirm that what you see is what you get. That's the way you have to work when you are an architect and an artisan. You'd love working in the States, I added, where everyone is demanding and everything is possible and that's normal.

I suggested that to avoid further difficulties, we take care of the final color of the house first. They are to add a chaux-based patina to the banding and the ochre to darken it and make it match all the way around the house, more here, less there, "Comme ça, on peut être sur que ce qu'on fait avec la peinture ira avec la couleur qu'on obtenir pour les motifs." The "motifs" being the dark bands.

"J'en parlerai avec Joaquim ce soir. C'est la meilleure chose à faire," he said, nodding. The best thing, I added, to avoid losing any time and effort. "Et le portail, ça va --"

"Le portail!" I laughed. I had completely forgotten to mention it. George's brilliant solution to keep the gate and be able to lock it after the demolition of the pillars to either side. "Mon mari m'a chargé de vous dire qu'il trouve ça brillant. Moi aussi."

"Il fallait une solution pour pouvoir fermer le portail," he smiled.

"Vous l'avez trouvé. Et les fenêtres, quand est-ce qu'on les attaque?" Audouin keeps asking me when they are going to do the windows, the replacements for the ones in bad shape.

"Il faut qu'ils fassent gaffe," he says, "parce que leurs gars vont fermer pour les vacances." He had a point. Everyone closes for vacation in August.

"Il y a un petit problème, Madame," admitted Georges, lowering his gaze.

"Un problème? Un petit?"

"Un petit, mais peut-être un grand pour vous." I was starting to get worried, and then I saw where we were going.

"Ils ferment pour les vacances?" I suggested. He looked relieved not to have to say it himself.

"Oui. C'est fou. Tout ferme ici." He just discovered that? Georges, who goes to Portugal every August for the month, until this year?

"Et ça voudrait dire qu'il faut qu'on attende jusqu'à novembre?" He had said that they couldn't do the additional paving work until then because of their schedule. They have promised things for September and October.

"Ah, non! Septembre. On continue ici jusqu'à ce que le travail soit fait." At least the part in the present contract.

That's the state of the renovation, until we have another problem.

"Madame, je peut entrer mesurer?" Georges just knocked again. Of course he could come in and measure. "En plus, ils ont tout mélangé, les salouds."

Of course the bastards mixed the shutters all up. They expect them to be tagged.
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