jeudi 27 mai 2010

We're not in Connecticut anymore, Shadow

Little window,
Big headache

Why does everything seem so simple -- ingeniously, deceptively simple -- until you sit down to actually figure it out?

I have spent the morning avoiding my latest solution in waiting (a problem, in other words), wandering around the garden, lost in contemplation of Nature's unceasing wonder and beauty, which I have been sufficiently intelligent to invite into my environs by planting English roses, clematis, and caring for what was already there, the peonies, the wisteria, the tea roses and the irises, and various other things that delight, however, I am now forced to sit down and figure it out.

It is the source of my husband's abundant frustration and ill humor these last days, surpassed only by the abundance of blooms in the garden.

Thank God for small favors.

It refers to the method of attaching the wood jambs for the windows and doors, and their associated trim, in the petit salon. It has been hell. We have tried cutting angles. The guy at Point P said, "Tout le monde utilise de la colle pour fixer le bois au métal." Everyone uses glue to attach the wood trim to metal angles? Sans blague?

"Vraiment?" He nodded. He was flirting with me. I knew it. He knew I knew. Even my stepdaughter had to know.

"Vraiment." I wasn't so sure, and even if I accepted that this is true, some things just feel unacceptable. But, I have come here to live. Sisyphe is not in Connecticut anymore. Maybe, I thought, it is time to accept a change of methods. I bought the glue and the metal shears to cut up the lightweight framing into the angles we needed. We'd attach them to the walls and the metal framing, and then -- uh -- glue the jambs to them.

It was only later that I had suffered my nervous breakdown, sitting on the floor of Leroy Merlin, sketching how we do things back home in Connecticut, and everywhere else in the US, Canada and the UK, while my husband took in the significance of this to me and several bemused shoppers looked on. I was preparing to abandon the metal angles I had cut, ripping the ones we had already installed out of the wall, and toss the idea neither of us liked of gluing anything to them.

I leaned back against a column, covered with the little plastic bags you can fill with your selection of screws, nails, or molly bolts, and stared at my husband, my sketch on the back of a receipt between us. It showed wood studs, beautiful wood studs, spaced 16" on center, coming up to a door. The studs doubled at the door to provide structural soundness and a lovely nailing surface for the jambs.

"Je vois," said my husband. He saw. He reflected, or pretended to, while I stared forlornly at my sketch. "Mais, comment fixera-t-on le bois au mur?"

I could feel someone trying to get at the little plastic bags just above my head.

"Excusez-moi," I turned and saw a man grinning at me. "Je suis en train de faire une crise nerveuse."

"Mais il n'y a pas de problème," he said. I looked back at my husband. A hint of a smile lingered around the corners of his lips, thinner and paler than usual from the stress of this solution-waiting-to-happen.

"Comme tu as fixé les lambourds à la dalle. Avec des chevilles à frapper." He nodded and we began filling the largest sized plastic zipper lock sac with nylon anchors.

It felt cooperative for the first time in days. Warm and almost fuzzy.

We returned home with our supply of nylon anchors, and he set to work, constructing a framework to receive the door jambs, while I deliberately did other things, like prune the gazebo terrace. I advanced to opening the pool for the season when he got to the window on Monday, a holiday here, and the swearing could be heard from the second terrace.

It didn't help that he had had fewer than 3 hours sleep on duty the night before.

Tuesday, he redid Monday's work.

Wednesday, under extreme psychological and emotional pressure, I sat down to make some millwork detail drawings and get enough down on paper to take to the wood shop to work out a solution. He hit terribly close to the mark the previous evening when he said, "Tu ne me montres pas ce qu'on fait et je ne peux rien comprendre."

The trouble was, I didn't believe he'd pay attention to what I drew.

"La prochaine fois, tu me laisseras tout décider car c'est moi qui le fais." Les mots qui tuent... Next time, you let me decide how we are going to do things because I am the one who has to do it.

But it isn't just the words, it's the look that goes along with them. And the tone. It is -- accusatory. Even worse, it was somewhat justified; whether I think he is going to pay attention or not, I owe him a workable method of proceeding.

At 5:35 pm, I pulled up at the wood shop. At 6:05 pm, I drove away with a solution, essentially the same one we had discussed the first time that involves building the "box" of the jambs, sill and top of the window trim and fixing it to the wall with -- metal angles. By the time I got home, those metal angles had morphed into a wood structure around the finished "box" that would take into account the lightweight framing members anchored to the wall and prevent his having to tear down his work.

At 7:40 pm, he walked in the door, kissed me hello and said, "J'ai eu une réunion informatique ce soir. J'aurais voulu aller chez Leroy Merlin trouver une solution pour le --" I interrupted him.

"Non, je suis allée voir monsieur au Comptoir des Bois. C'est bon. On a une solution. C'est la même chose que nous avons discuté la première fois, et c'est essentiellement ton idée de faire le "cadre" et le fixer au mur, sauf que au lieu de faire un cadre structurel et clouer le bois de finition là-dessus, on va fixer le cadre fini en place avec soit des équerres soit une structure en bois anchré au mur. Vide ton esprit. Ne te préoccupe pas. On aura ce qu'il faut vendredi soir." Just in time for the weekend's work.

"Je ne sais pas si je comprends, mais --"

"Si, tu comprends parce que c'est à la base ton idée, mais tu ne vois pas. C'est ton idée de faire la boite en bois, mais n'y pense plus. Tu verras." He seemed happy not to have to understand and went an settled himself on the sofa in front of Roland Garros, where Gaël Monfils was playing a playground level match against the number 92 ranked player Fabio Fognini.

Essentially, I will make a detailed drawing of the window frame and the lightweight framing in place, draw the finish wood desired to trim out the window and then add a system in wood with cut-outs around the metal framing that we can attach to the finished trim "box" and bolt to the wall. To address my concern that it will sound hollow -- why I had broken down in the screw, nail and nylon anchor aisle at Leroy Merlin in the first place --, they will make it out of 20 or 22 mm wood. Nice and sturdy.

You can tap all you like, and it should sound solid.

He wants me to use medium because it is cheap and you can't tell it from pine, beech or anything else once it is painted, but that's another hurdle for me to jump.
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