Thursday, January 11, 2018

home(t)raveling: weeks 27 and 28

Last call for plasterers! It was early January, the year was young and fresh - not to say freakin' cold and wet. 'Happy new yearrrr', rrrrang our phone one morning!
mixer, hose, buckets and wheelbarrow: the backyard in state of emergency again.
Apparently (judging by they urge to get back to work) Magic T. and Supa' K., our two skilled masons, had enjoyed their holidays but badly needed to get some stuff done. Or did they pity us and our precarious conditions so much they felt compelled to help improve them? Who knows? The post-Xmas is also a tough time of the year and a little money might have come handy... Anyway, they called to proudly announce, on a 3-day notice and with no room for negotiation, that they'd come and do the sand-n-lime finish on the livingroom's hemp-n-lime plaster. Which sure was great news. Honestly. Only that, prior to their visit we needed to take out the bed, the desk, computer and other everyday utilities. Which meant we'd have to spend a few days and nights away from the stove! But even more importantly, prior to their visit we needed to mount small wooden frames around the doors and windows, so they could come do the final wall buttering smooth and even. Which meant cutting long thin slats from our pile of old oak pieces. Then sand it all, oil it all twice and finally nail it all into position. Three days! Better get out of bed dude, and get to work at once!

Suddenly, they were here. They parked their van in the garden as agreed: at 08:00 sharp. Well, actually it was more like 09:15. No no no, we even had a second coffee while waiting for them: around 09:45. Not even this early: the mixer was broken and the sand too heavy. At 10:25: suddenly, they were here! The backyard changed in an instant and (again) tarps and plastic sheets unfolded all over the place. The huge mixer started grumbling. Swallowing buckets of water, bags of lime, shovelfuls of sand, it sounded like a hungry blackhole* and wouldn't stop in two days.

the finish frames: on the tuned kitchen window (w. double-glaze), on the door to the hall, on the still-to-be-tuned living-room window.
As they did during their first visit, K. and T. worked fast, very fast. Like very scary fast. Almost fast and furious, only that they weren't furious at anybody, only furious to get the job done. So fast, actually, that K. was gone before we even knew it: the sun was shining, he had his own house to build and apparently considered it a priority on top of everything else. So, shortly after 12, he wasn't here anymore, leaving T. alone to his art. Even though he was a bit pissed, he kept smiling as usual, got to work on the first wall, the north one - and managed to get a nice piece done over the afternoon. They came and started to work early-ish the next day, as fast as always, like the world was going to collapse soon or they expected a surprise inspection anytime...

the North wall, as finished by T. on the fisrt evening: smoooooth!
They also were reluctant to stop, pause, eat or even wait for us to think, make decisions and answer their questions! Very very soon, it all was over: they were packing and ready to leave. The job was done. Well, done-ish. Beautifully done, but done-ish. There were still a few minor problems here and there, mostly around the sockets and switches. "There's plenty of mix left in a bucket" - they said from the garden while loading the van. "Seal it with plastic film and when the electrician comes, tell him to work around the sockets before rewiring" - they said from the van while starting the engine. "He's used to it" - they shouted over the coughing engine while exiting the garden. "By the way, you absolutely can't turn the stove on during the next week, or it'll crack badly!" - they yelled from the street while turning round the corner. And gone they were, again.

Only that this time, it looked like it'd be the last. We sang (when your builder leaves you all alone - what else would we sing?) and dealt with it (what else could we do?). The next few days and nights were tough. Impossible to turn the stove on. No way to heat the whole place. Advised to keep the windows opened downstairs 24 hours a day, to help a "natural, slow and smooth drying", we were de facto forced to sleep upstairs***. And, of course, still with not one but two giant holes in the bathroom ceiling, to make sure not even this tiny little space and tiny little moment of our days would become warm upon showering... Tough. Our mental strengh was challenged, we argued and made silly plans to abandon the place for some tropical destination, we went to visit friends and family (including a short trip to Barcelona and another one to Clermont-Ferrand). And were finally relieved to leave to our beloved Basque country.

the West wall getting dry: kitchen on the left, main door in the center, living-room on the right ; selected details of the sand-and-lime finish.

And yes: that was all - and more than enough - for the winter, folks!** We'll see you in spring for more adventures and a brand new season of home(t)raveling!

Take care
and keep warm!Love to all,
F & W


* Ah, of course (and thanks for asking!): "What would be the sound of a hungry blackhole in the vacuum of outerspace?" Well, you'll see, this blog never claimed to be scientifically accurate and should never be considered, under no circumstance, to be a reference in Astrophysics. Voilà!

** to be absolutely honest and accurate: we'd need to mention a 5-day visit back home at the end of February, as a way to take a short break from our vet assignements and to come check whether the house was still there and the roof hadn't collapsed under the weight of the snow. We got there on a Tuesday and by Thursday were both struck by a deadly flu. Not man's flu. Not a flu-ish cold. Rather the Spanish flu, the Grandmaster Killa' Flu , the "high fever + mortal headache + pain in the bones + fire and ice" flu.The flu. Good Lord! We're getting old enough to get our vaccine every autumn...

*** in case you were wondering: "sleeping upstairs" means that: a huge and super cold "two-rooms-without-a-wall" space, a tent and our "office". and while it's really easy to heats downstairs with the wood stove, any calory of heat that we allowed up so far, has gone straight to the 2nd floor and through the roof, which is not insulated at all. Should be better once we finish the rooms here, fit some double-glaze on the windows and insulate both the wall to the barn and the roof on the second floor. Hopefully, it'll happen some time this year and we should be much more prepared to face the next/our second winter!

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