Tuesday Night In The Haut Marne

The heat has finally subsided, I think we are back to about 75 degrees, about 23 degrees for those of you who feel Celsius is a better measure.  I never could with hold degrees and one third or on fourth degrees, give me Fahrenheit any day of the week, metric sucks when it comes to weather.  Now using meters for woodworking or metalworking makes sense, the finer the scale the more accurate the measurement.   Liquid measures, eh, so-so.  Onl really matters if I am playing chemist.  Got nothing against kilograms, easy to convert to pounds and ounces.  I mean it is a question of whether I would prefer to weight 100 kilos or 212 pounds, know what I mean?  But meanwhile the fan blows the air around and as the daylight fade the night air becomes cooler and sleeping will be easier.  Tomorrow will not be quite so nice, suppose to be in the mid 90s during the day and mid 70s at night.

Since I repointed a section of the wall in the sitting room, actually the bedroom and sitting room are separated only by the chimney, I had to clean both areas very well.  There was quite a bit of dust and it is finally, almost gone from the this floor.  I am enjoying a little wine tonight, opened a bottle of 2008 Les Fiefs de Lagrange. not quite sure what the name means.  The wine is from the Saint Julian commune and is mostly cabernet sauvignon with some merlot and petite verdot.  Petite verdot is not used as much as it once was, in its place one may find cabernet franc or the occasional malbec.  Bordeaux is a very large area and the communes have staked out their territories according to the soil.  Since grape vines can and do grow to a depth of 80 feet or more, that soil all the way down matters.  But here I bore you with facts.  Come, sip the wine and admire the suppleness with which it embraces your palette.

Normally I would have written in the morning but while there must be a dozen ideas to write about, there was nothing I considered pressing.  Yes, the Supreme Court issued rulings and I am sure that the end of the world is coming.  Greece is in default if one considers that the loans given by the IMF are not going to be repaid anytime soon.  The IMF likes to say that the payments are just tardy and nothing more.  Well, if the banks would feel the same way about credit card and mortgage payments then we all would have perfect credit scores.  I guess that would mean that we could borrow more and payback even less.  Works for me, but I’m not sure about the banking system.  So now I spend a little time putting fingers to keyboard, that doesn’t sound as wonderful as putting pen to paper, does it?  Of course I do have some fountain pens, the kind one fills with ink, and some nice bond paper, the kind of quality stationary (how many of you young one even know what the word means) one use to use to pen letters that were sent by the US Postal Service to the recipients.  I have not written a real letter for many months, I do miss that experience.  My cursive writing was never that good.  We were taught the Palmer method and I deviated a bit from it.  Graphologists believe they can determine an individual’s character from a handwriting sample but rigorous experimentation has proven that claim to be spurious.  Still, one should take some care to improve one’s cursive writing.  I tend to write mostly by block printing, all capitals.  But my fingers deliver a very small font (the size of the letters) and I can print at an 8 or even a 7, use narrow lined paper for two lines per marked line.  That is called fine muscle motor control.  My how the world revolves.  When one is a nine year old one’s handwriting seems to scrawl about the page with no particular relationship to line and space.

Well, as I was saying, I’ve done my work for the day, chiseled the old mortar out of over two square meters of stone wall and brushed it down.  Now I need to take my sprayer and wet the wall down, let the dust and loose dirt run down and get the stone wet so that it holds the mortar better.  Of course one always starts at the top of the wall and works down, you don’t want to dirty that nice clean mortar.  And then I shall divide 25 kilograms of ready mix mortar, the type with lime.  Why lime mortar?  Ah, easy as pie.  When lime is added to cement and sand (that is what mortar is, by the way, the lime makes the mixture a little more plastic.  It doesn’t pull away from the stone like ordinary mortar will.  Go look at any brick wall where the ordinary mortar was used and in ten years time the mortar has pulled away from the brick on one side.  Now once I get the buckets weighing evenly then I shall be ready to mix the mortar and start stuffing it into the grooves and crevices.  The wall I am working on has not been repointed for possible a hundred years and it shows the damage.  But once I put the new mortar in the wall will look sensational.  June 21 2015 France 009June 21 2015 France 013 Yes, quite the difference even on a small scale.

True, this is a bit of hard work and one must learn how to let one’s fingers caress the wall, as a mason might describe the technique.  But if I hired a professional I would have to pay some forty of fifty euros per square meter (slightly larger than a square yard).  So I have been busy today, got a bit dirty.  Had my dinner and then took my shower.  Time to relax, read a bit, maybe watch an old movie on You Tube.  I saw a great one the other night, Holy Matrimony with Monty Woolley.  Great old comedy.  Well, this is how we make our living spaces so habitable.  I’ve always felt that a man, or a woman, for that matter, sorry if my particular perspective is more gender oriented, should always be adept at working with his hands and his mind.  I take pride in both aspect of my working life.  But I was fortunate to learn a craft befor I earned a degree or two or three.  If we provided a method for our sons and daughters to learn a craft before then went to the university I think we would have a better class of scholars.  Learning a craft teaches one so much about life.  Spend five years learning and doing, understanding that pride comes from mastering the doing of that craft,  One can’t cheat on quality for it will always out, either to best of it of its lack.  That is one of life’s most valuable lessons.  Quality tells and there is no substitute.

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