lundi 7 septembre 2009

The brick pillars reach the top

My mock-up

The top part, the capitol, as it were, isn't cemented yet. We neared the top, and the wish I had to use a detail one often sees in brick pillars in Normandy gnawed at me a little more. I hesitated to ask; they have already been fairly clear that what they are producing for me far exceeds what they thought they were in for, as nice as (they admit) it is. It's just that nice costs time, which equals money. Eroded profits.

It's just that I thought we were on the same page from the beginning. But, that's mostly in the past now.

I asked. Jose looked a little doubtful about what I was proposing. They work more in stone than in brick. I climbed up onto the ingenious system of scaffolding they had concocted out of found materials.

"Madame, attention à vous -- vous allez peut-être tomber -- vous avez besoin d'un escabo?" I hoisted myself up with my arms, pushing off with my feet from the guardrail along the street.

"Non, merci. Ca va très bien." I set to work showing them how to lay the brick, Georges cutting bricks in half and then cutting them down a little more. Jose started in on the second side, gingerly, the bricks in the wrong angle. Just as gingerly, I said "Non, pas comme ça, mais," and I turned the brick to 90°, "comme ça." He nodded and picked up another brick, began to mark it into a wedge shape, like a camembert. I watched. It wasn't going to work, but he wasn't going to understand that until he saw it. This time, Georges had gotten it first.

All the way around, we placed whole bricks at the corners, at 45° to the center axis, and trimmed half-bricks at 90°, two each side. I picked up whole bricks to weigh them down at the center and began placing the next course all the way around.

"Je vois!" said Georges, breaking into a big smile, "Elle sait ce qu'elle fait," She knows what she doing, he told Jose. I had scored some points.

I finished and set down the bricks he was handing me into the last course, set somewhat back inside again. "Je vois. J'ai vu ça avant, près de Vernon." He had seen the detail, too, he realized now that I had it in place. It's really very typical in the region just to the north of us, only some 15 minutes away, where the architecture begins to employ more brick and less stone. It's a detail that speaks of a slightly more important home in a village, which ours, as small as it is, set apart from the others, is. He stepped back and looked up at the column and the house behind it.

"Les motifs sont vraiment bien comme ça maintenant, hein?" I nodded and answered, the dark bands of the fake timber in natural stucco did look even better with the brick pillars in place. They'll look better still once they have been darkened with the pigmented, natural stucco based stain.

"Si je peux vous le demander, vous avez quel age, Madame Sisyphe?" I laughed. You may ask, Georges. I am not particular about that. In fact, I am rather proud to give my age, able as I still am to scramble up onto a scaffolding and lay a few bricks, my lipstick fresh and my new t-shirt dusted with brick dust.

"J'ai 47 ans, 48 dans 2 semaines." Feeling good, too, especially now that I can finally go to the gym again with my toe healed at last from the second melanoma surgery.

The samples for the brick for the entry court, the walk and patio near the petite maison arrives tomorrow or the next day. Moving along, but I can't be absent a day.

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