23 August 2010

Variation on an old theme

So here's a description of our life in Saint-Aignan right now, based on an old description of the workaday life in Paris.

Our routine these days is « Pinceau—Rouleau—Dodo ». That's "BrushRollerSleep." In Paris, the rhythm is, or at least used to be, « Métro—Boulot—Dodo ». Métro is the subway, Boulot is work, your job, and Dodo is sleep. That's life. Ha ha ha. Here, the painting is coming along again.

Last Wednesday we took the day off from pinceaux and rouleaux to go to Châteauroux to buy more supplies. We had sworn to ourselves that we wouldn't get ourselves into the position of having to travel long distances to buy primer or paint, but it happened anyway. Châteauroux (pop. 40,000) is a town located a 60- 90-minute drive, each way, southeast of Saint-Aignan. There's a big BricoDépôt building supply store there.

You see, the primer we bought in Saint-Aignan didn't really do the job, even though it is a well-known brand. The primer we ended up buying at BricoDépôt in Tours, also about a 90-minute drive from Saint-Aignan, seemed to give us much better coverage, and it cost just over half as much. We ran out of it, and we needed more.

Traveling long distances to find a wider variety of specialized products is one of the realities of life in a little town like Saint-Aignan. We have a couple of smaller hardware stores — BricoMarché and Mr. Bricolage — but their prices are relatively high and they don't offer the range of products you find in the real « grandes surfaces » — the "big-box" stores.

We decided to go to Châteauroux instead of Tours this time — it's the same distance — just to « varier les plaisirs », as they say — variety being the spice of life. Blois is slightly closer, but there is no BricoDépôt store there. Anyway, as I suspected, the drive to Châteauroux turned out to be easier, because you don't have to drive through as many villages and little towns to get there. It's a route through open country and farmland. It's pleasant and almost relaxing compared to dealing with the traffic congestion and complicated road network of the Tours metro area.

It would have been a pleasant drive that day, except that Walt was in such pain with his neck and arm. That was another reason for taking that day off. Problem was, I woke up feeling dizzy and unsteady on my feel that morning — don't know why, but I think it was a sinus thing — so W. needed to drive. He didn't enjoy it. I was able to drive back, however, taking the pressure off his arm and neck.

So there you have it. We now have two more big tubs of the good primer. We'll need it to finish off the loft space, where the total wall surface to be painted comes to about 1500 sq. ft. (135 sq. meters), most of it overhead. The room has what is called in both English and French a "cathedral ceiling" — un plafond cathédrale. It's 3.36 meters (11 feet) from the floor up to the peak of the ceiling.

When we finish up there, we will still have to paint the downstairs hallway and stair landing, as well as the walls in the lower stair well and the ground-level entryway room. We haven't measured and calculated the surface area there is to paint in those parts of the house, but we will certainly need the two other tubs of primer.

Who knows when we will ever finish? Especially now that we've learned we need to pace ourselves in order not to end up with neck and back pain. Ah, the joys of getting old! The key is to treat it as a challenge, not a chore — the painting, I mean. We'll feel really good about it and about ourselves when the job is done.

That Wednesday excursion to Châteauroux was followed by two more days of no painting. Walt went to the doctor's on Thursday. I spent Friday wondering where and how to get started again. I did other things instead — processing food from the garden, cooking lunch, and all that.

Then on Saturday we picked up the brushes and rollers again. I decided to paint a couple of walls just to see whether it was going to be necessary to put on just one or — perish the thought — two coats of paint, over the two coats of primer we've already put on. One coat looks like it will do it.

Walt has to go for an x-ray this morning over in Selles-sur-Cher, 10 miles east of us. I have a brush duct-taped to a long pole that I'm using to paint uppper corners, and a roller on a long, extendable pole I can use to paint the flat surfaces up high. That way I don't have to risk falling off the ladder or the scaffolding.

We got a lot done yesterday, and I'll be back at work here in a few minutes. I've promised myself I won't post any more pictures of the loft until it's finished and we've moved furniture up there. It won't be interesting until then. After all, we are just painting the walls white, to maximize the feel of light and space up there.


  1. Ken,

    There is a Bricodepot store on the northern side of Blois on the same complex as Cora - maybe helpful to you for another time. Not as big as Tours but in the main carries the same products. Your new loft area looks really good - we are looking forward to seeing the finished room.

    Regards, Carol

  2. Hi Carol, you're right, I just saw that on the BricoDépôt site. It's in Villebarou, north of Blois. That makes it about the same distance as Châteauroux from us -- at least in driving time. Thanks for telling me.

  3. Having a wider range to choose from is certainly an advantage. And there is of course the added pleasure of getting out of the house, seeing some nice countryside ... which makes a nice chance from painting from dawn till dusk.
    But - just curious, not critizing -does the price difference weigh up to the cost of the petrol? ;)

  4. I'm curious. Would your local stores order the stuff you need, and would they charge a lot more for it?

  5. Ladybird, It's not always the price difference. As I said, the sous-couche we bought here cost nearly twice as much as the sous-couche we got in the bigger stores. And it was half as good. What would you do?

    Starman, you are talking complications! Getting something ordered? Waiting for it to come in? Paying shipping? And how do you know what to order if you haven't tried it before?

  6. Ken, Getting better value for your money certainly justifies the trip. But your post made me think of a woman I used to know who would drive 60 km to buy a (=1)packet of margerine because it was 5 cents cheaper in a big chainstore than in our local supermarket :) Martine

  7. Martine, we're talking about hundreds of euros' worth of primer and paint. It's the quality that matters, not getting the lowest price. Besides, it's a nice drive to Châteauroux. It just takes a little time.


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