Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A day has passed and so has the danger of my blog going « all cake, all the time ». I think.

At any rate, it’s more than time that I get around to telling you what, exactly, went wrong when we renovated the twin’s bedroom and how it all turned out . (Don’t worry- it has a happy ending.)

When Cristian the Romanian Handyman showed up last month, he immediately started in on the downstairs hallway, as seen in this blogpost. With a bit of help from me and my girls, the wallpaper went up, woodwork got painted and everything was looking nice.

But Cristian, ever the perfectionist, had decided that the telephone wires stuck to the outside edge of the doorframe were just NOT working for the décor. So, he started fussing around with them, finally encasing them in a plastic housing. He wanted it to look nice. And he was so intent on his work as he fixed the final little plastic box to the wall, that he slammed his head into the big iron radiator that hangs in the hall, so I’m told. I wasn’t there at the time. I was in the kitchen making lunch . All I heard was a dull thump, followed by a short, emphatic phrase that I now believe must have been a potent curse in Romanian.
This was followed by a tentative « Umm…Beth? »
I went into the hall to find him standing there with blood running down into his right eye from a gash in his forehead . Kind of alarming for everyone involved.
I ran for the compresses and disinfectant while he clamped a paper towel over the wound as he repeated things like: « It’s nothing » and « No problem ».
It’s true that the cut was quite small in length, but it seemed quite deep. Luckily, I’m not squeamish. Life in Africa cured me of any trace of that. I was the first aid specialist, not only for my kids, but for all the people that worked for us and the women and children at the paper project. So, I’ve seen my share of gore, despite not actually having a degree in nursing.

I was all for taking CtRH to the doctor for a stitch to close it up. And If he was one of my kids, my husband or my African staff, I would have just bundled him into the car. But he had his own ideas on the matter.
« It’s nothing. »
« You’re going to have a scar. » I warned him.
But he didn’t care. No immediate plans to enter a Romanian handyman beauty pageant, I guess. So I put a butterfly bandage on it to close it up and hoped for the best.
He had a headache for the rest of the day (duh) and things went slowly. No surprise there.

But the next day he felt fine and the wound looked good, so he got to work upstairs in the twins’ room, stripping off the old wallpaper. I left him to it and headed off to the superrmarché. JP would be back the next day and the four kids were home all day because of the school holiday. That meant three meals a day for seven people for the rest of the week. A grocery run was definitely in order.

I got home a couple of hours later, only to find CtRH and the twins scraping away at the walls with energy, but looking decidedly dejected.
« It’s not coming OFF ! » the girls lamented.
CtRH had to concur.
« This paper is very old and strange. Kind of like cardboard. And the glue… »
Just my luck to have ancient mutant wallpaper in my home.
What we needed was a wallpaper remover. - one of those machines that steams it all off with blasts of smelly vapour. And we needed it fast if we were to have any hope of getting the room done by the weekend. And I wanted it done by the weekend, wanted it bad. I was already completely fed up with living in the mess that was building up.

So, I jumped back in the car and headed to my favorite/least favorite (depends on the day) DIY store. I found out that I could rent one of these magic machines for just 10 euros a day…if they had one in stock.
Which they didn’t.
Of course.
After the woman at the counter informed me that I should have reserved it ahead of time (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) she actually did helpfully mention that there was another place to find such machines.
So, I found out exactly where that place was and drove over. At Kiloutou (strange name, but it’s funny in French and says « Who rents everything » if you say it out loud) they did indeed have a steamer for me…at twice the price. But I was in no position to be picky. I grabbed the thing and got out of there.
Once I got home, the wallpaper came off pretty quickly. But what we found there was no cause for celebration.
There was mildew:

And there were cracks with the mildew. Grand Canyon-quality cracks:

And there was crumbing plaster falling out in chunks that made blue cheese look like an appropriate building material:

In short, this was NOT just going to be a matter of slapping on an undercoat and a bit of cheerful wallpaper.

To be continued...


oreneta said...

Gads, that looks terrible. Glad you told us there was a happy ending before you set off......

Beth said...

If anything, it was WORSE than how it looks in the pictures. Can you imagine?