Sunday, October 21, 2012

Painter last week.

Grrr...Painters!  Last week a new painter arrived.  Smiling and seemingly more competent than the diffident smoking threesome who first came seven weeks ago.   A colleague joined him who told us the paint was bad.  Whatever, the addition wall is streaky with last week's coat of paint.  The same area where the door's hinges are needs painting.  I've pointed it out several times for weeks to anyone from the building company who seemed to be listening.   Nobody was.  Or rather, they finally did this past week, but first did only half, made a botch of it, then repainted it sloppily.  Is symbolic of the whole painting process which started in mid September.  

It has become increasingly intolerable looking from the outside through scaffolding bars.  Feels like we're in jail.  Or worse.

Looking west early morning from my office through the scaffolding bars.  The long roof  extending from the left of the picture belongs to a 17th century farmhouse, one of the oldest houses in our "village".  You can see on the white house in the foreground the shadow of the scaffolding. 

I told our building company last Friday,  I just want the scaffolding, which has been up for weeks, DOWN even though there are still many mistakes to correct.  I am beginning to feel it's my death shroud, that I'm buried alive with all my worldly goods in my sarcophagus  house.  Maybe those Ancients were on to something - why bother to sort out belongings of the dead? Just pack it all up in a house for the life beyond with food for the journey along with the corpse.  Maybe that has been the problem all along. I've been having a life after death experience and didn't know it.

 Scaffolding was used also for the execution of criminals.  What a sinister word.

When we are free from our scaffolding prison, we shall sing and dance with our new lease on life.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Couple of Weeks Ago

Tuesday of the fourth week of getting our house painted or not depending on your point of view.  The first 2 1/2 weeks with two lots of paint which left smudges due to the incomplete chemical mix of the color and lime.  Now we have a silicate based paint which doesn't smudge, but seems to streak.

The two tones our building company used on our trim last year the director of the company tried to attribute to the sun last week.  Today the color man came with his book of paint shades.  I picked a shade similar to the cream of our front door for the trim.  Seems my idea all the trim needs painting has taken hold.

House with curved addition 
Although I told the director's assistant several times the winter garden needed to be painted too as it was the original outside wall, the painters last week had not a clue about it.  Those painters were the same ones we've had all September whom my husband and I swear we've never seen before.  Painting didn't seem to be their calling.  The painters who arrived today are our old friends from when we were in the blitz of demolition and reconstruction.

We will have lived in our house for a year in November.  Peter let out a yelp of joy this morning. Finally, after 4 months our eco-garbage - grass clippings, pruning debris was emptied.  Slowly we are taking root in this place.  More to do.  Our bedroom has wires on the ceiling and beside our bed where lights should be.  We have no curtains and I have to skulk lower than the window sill when I dress or undress in our bedroom.  Still boxes to unpack.  And a garden to plant.

Slowly our roots are settling into this old house and garden.  I sometimes wonder what the original family who lived here would have thought of what we have now.

Never Never Land

Never Never Land is the walls and trim of the outside of our house.  This is the 7th week of our builders trying to paint our house making it worse each time than when they started.

September 2010 renovation started on our house, built in 1824.  It was what is called a "Vineyard House" because the manager of the Strahov Monastery Vineyards lived here with his family,  pigs, chickens, presumably horse and cart to cart the grapes to be processed into wine and  wife who filled the house with the smell of cooked cabbage.  Perhaps they had numerous children who played in the vineyards between the 850 year old Strahov Monastery with its gold flected towers to the East and the  onion dome of 1,000 year old Brevnov Monastery in the West.

Today,  on what used to be acres of South facing vineyards, turn of the last century buildings obstruct the view of Strahov.  However,  the tips of the spires of the St. Vitus Cathedral  ( three quarters finished in the 1300s and the rest completedin the 1920s ) on the Castle Hill several hundred meters further East from Strahov peek between early 20th century structures.  We can see them  only from our East facing attic window. The Gothic spires poke up with the dawn light behind them shooting their holy messages into the awakening Prague sky.    

Late 19th,  early 20th century and Communist era buildings hide all of Brevnov except for its Baroque onion tower.  Late afternoon light that pours through the West facing attic window of my study gives more definition to what looks like an upside down top.  At night it is lit like a beacon to guide whatever faithful may be left in this mostly atheist country through the long dark struggles of their lives.

The medallion of Jan Hus, the 15th century Chancellor of Charles University who was against the corruption of the Catholic Church especially indulgences lies embedded in the plaster above our front door.   In 1415 the Church burned Hus at the stake at Lake Constance for the sin of trying to make the church a better place.  A restorer of antique church art repaired the much damaged medallion. He said he thought it was made in the 1920s, but was not sure.  Most likely the "heretic" was not on the house when it was part of the heavily Catholic Austrian Hungarian Empire.  It was probably put on after World War I when the State of Czechoslovakia  was made from the old Czech lands of the Empire: Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia.  Jan Hus was a defiant symbol for many in the new Czechoslovakia of standing up to the oppressor of Empire, religious or secular.

I have to keep in mind the joy of owning and living in our house which itself lived through dramatic moments of the 19th and 20th centuries.  I love its stone walls. Unfortunately obscured by scaffolding. I love the sunlight that fills our house on bright days.  Through the bars and planks of the scaffolding.  Yes, I am frustrated by the builder's lack of competence in completing a simple job which should have been finished in a week.  But this too is part of this country's history.  The Empire and Russia patronized the Czechs so long there is a saying: the right way, the wrong way and the Czech way.  Which is Kafkaesque i.e. in Never Never Land.