Monday, October 30, 2017

home(t)raveling: mooooonth 4!

And there was evening and there was morning, one day. It was month four and Wallis and Futuna saw it was good. It felt good indeed, although they (that is us, actually) were so freakin' exhausted they could hardly blink. So they kept working harder, better, fast..., regardless of the lightness of day that had become separate from the darkness of night.

the first layer of hempcrete getting dry (finish will come before xmas, hopefully)
The genesis: no matter how or when, they just kept working plain hard, sweating their ashes off and obviously NOT taking any eighth day off to rest, nor to even sit on a cloud and proudly contemplate the job done. "This ark of ours won't build itself, will it?" said Wallis. "Sure won't!" said Futuna. And there was a silence in heaven for about half an hour, most probably because they'd gone for a coffee break by the hangar... With the hempcrete (our über-cool, chic and natural hemp and lime plaster) slowly getting dry in the living-room (a.k.a. the Noah's ark, a.k.a. the project's phase I base camp), we were now free to set and build all the false-ceilings and to work on the future kitchen's technical wall. "Technical" might sound like a big deal, but that's basically where the stove, oven, sink, fridge and stuff will go, with all power and water running behind. So we first put up those metal frames to receive the plasterboards, then insulated the whole thing with rockwool before passing the wires and pipes, including the fresh air-in for the wood stove and greasy air-out for the kitchen fan. Finally, we screwed these sexy grey (plain), green (waterproof) and pink (allegedly fireproof but it'd later appear they were not) plasterboards all over the place. At these points, it looked like that,                   then like that,                                  then like that:

the kitchen wall before (left, w. the stones and railings), before (center, w. the rockwool, power and pipes) and before (right, w. the "placo").
The reality check: to be fair, almost two weeks of actual, real-time passed between these first and third pictures. For Futuna and Wallis are human beings, they need to eat, sleep, go to the toilet and eventually work for a living in between building stuff and renovating this house of theirs. Not all of that time was invested in eating, sleeping and going to the toilet, though. Some time was dedicated to the one I love the first floor's false ceilings, as the pictures below unambiguously suggest. We/they (this schyzophrenic trick of third-erpson writing is increasingly bothering, should consider getting rid of it...) were extremely lucky that our/their (again!) skilled, friendly and beloved mason, Mr. K, was kind enough to lend his plasterboard lifting trolley, laser level, plasterboard saw and plane, plus a handful more of indispensable tools... Thank you so much again, Mr. K! (this one is a special interlude for the benefit of Mr. K...)

the magic mystery plasterboard lifting cart and the fruit of its work on the 1st floor: false ceilings in the future bathroom and the two bedrooms.
The caterpilar effect: our initial plans* for the first phase of the LaMeunière project (= the renovation of the old house into a functional 90 square meters home) also included that we put up a small bathroom on the first floor, just on top of the (old and decrepit rustic) existing one. And as the soon-to-be-revealed-to-the-world caterpilar theory explains, even the mildest fart of a caterpillar into its cocoon here and now - long before it even gets wings - is likely to unleash long-lasting consequences of unprecedented magnitude in another corner of our round planet... True story. Well, the same happens with home(t)raveling; long story made short, the embodiement of the caterpilar effect: so as to put up a bathroom on the first floor, we first needed to replace the abestos-containing flooring tiles. This caused us to cut off and throw away the wooden slats the abestos tiles were stuck to. We then were ready to remove the old toilet - which was the one and only toilet around! Grin.
the  future toilet, concrete floor removed , in the process of leveling the first tiles. 

And you'll see: we're not angels. We need to go there every now and then. So BEFORE taking the toilet away, we needed to set up a place to put it back in more or less no time at all and ideally in the same gesture. It took us weeks to find a suitable place, but also to do a few round trips to L., home of our dear C., L. and the Loulouttes, to load the 2c15 with a huge pile of old vintage tomettes (terracotta tiles) they wanted out of the girls' room and we thought we could give a second life to. This step included taking them down a ladder to the street, taking out and scratching out all the lime and sand, driving them back home, thoroughly cleaning them and soaking them in white vinegar overnight before preparing the floor to put them back into place on a bed of sand, adding lime and water in the right proportions, then finally placing them levelled and even, jointing them with "lime milk" and waiting for them to get dry. Since we wanted our "buanderie" (a.k.a. utility room) to be cleaner and neater on the long run (we'd like to have an old recycled sink there, as well as the washing-machine plus shelves to store stuff), it made a lot of sense to progressively get rid of the (elevated) concrete flooring and make this actual plumbing spine of the house tidier and drier... For all these reasons, and more romantic ones too, we loved the idea of re-using C. & L.'s tomettes for this area. At the same time, the amount of work required to get the whole floor done at once was simply not compatible with our schedules and with the coming winter cold and bad weather: too much to do in too little time! So, we focused on the incompressible 4 square meters that'd receive the toilet and electric water heater, then left the rest waiting for (*what?*) until (*when?*). *Who knows?* Not me. We never lost control etc. Another absolute classic!

the first pieces in position ; more tiles getting dry , old pipes and water heater still in place ; a little jump in time : toilet and electric heater on.
Another brick (less) in the wall : the last two weeks to complete this fourth month were already quite busy, we were unsure we'd make it to the fatidic date of october 31st AND the imminent change due to the daylight saving time promised to hit severely on our already challenged, over-clocked pituitary glands. That's when we got two news: a bad one and a good one (even though master Oogway knows and teaches there's no such thing as 'good' or 'bad' news). The bad one was the brick wall between the two bedroms upstairs was no longer self-sustaining and should be removed and replaced by a whole new structure. Being 5cm thin and disconnected from the former false ceiling, there was nothing left to garantuee it wouldn't fall on us anyday. The good news was our friend S., a.k.a. Bustins Powers, a.k.a. Glutis D'orus, planned to visit us for the weekend: two extra arms and a super-fit victim to help us get through the unexpected wall incident (and its unscheduled, additional workload). Plus, she's a living promise of tons of fun!

1- we don't need no education ; 2- we don't need no thought control ; 3- no dark sarcasm in the classroom
4- teachers leave the kids alone ; 5- on and on you're just an- ; 6- -other brick in the wall.
With Glutins powers, we worked hard, very hard and even harder than you'd believe. She's tough. Oh yes, she sure is. She cyclotours restlessly, hiked the transpyrenean trail from sea to ocean without fixed ropes nor supplemental oxygen, she's fluent in at least 6 languages (mandarin included) and she kicks asses, all which - borrowing to Guy Ritchie - make her harder than a coffin nail! We got rid of the wall in about a moment, drove all the wreckage and rubble to the déchetterie, prepared the ground floor's ceiling for the jointer who was to come the next day (filling the wall-to-ceiling and board-to-board junctions with adhesive plaster), finished the first floor's ceiling in half an evening and, of course, ate a lot while watching a few (average-to-bad) movies all covered in blankets and down sleeping bags.

drilling a hole on the plaste-e-rboard** ; the [wall] is gone and mamma says it makes one nice big room without it ;
meanwhile, downstairs the jointer has done his job and left his footprint: tiz getting neat in here!

Well, that's pretty much it, but it's not bad at all for somebody who initially came to take a weekend off and was unaware of our plans for her! Ha ha ha! Next thing we know, there was evening and there was morning, the next day. We drove her back to the train station smiling and seemingly happy, enthusiastic about future visits in spring and summer, to... wait for it... work in the garden, in the barn and even on the roof! -we didn't say it, she did!- Thank you for your help and support, Glutins Powers! Take great care and come back to us soon: we still have a good load of (a) unhealthy food in the pantry and (b) crappy movies on the hard drive and it's more fun to (a) eat, (b) mock and delete them with you! [heart][heart][heart]

And that'll be it for now:
more in 2 weeks!
Love to all,
F & W


* whose patient, wise, caring and tailored designs we owe to our beloved Catalonian architect friends M. & A.

** it's been quite a lot of contributions from the Beatles to these columns' soundtrack, so we unilateraly decided to skip this one. If you really wanted/needed to hear it rightnow anyway (and even though it might compromise the whole timing to reading this post), you can still click here at your own risks ; the authors decline all liability in case of surprise and/or disappointment...

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