The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Friday, November 16, 2007

Um... This Is Up To Code, Right?

You want slice-of-life? You want everyday routine? Well, you got it pal--here's 14 paragraphs dedicated to a building renovation. A couple of posts below I mentioned the work that's being done in our building; they've been at it since September and should have things wrapped up by the end of the year.

I happened to have the camera with me the other day as I passed through, after the workmen had gone home for the day, and I took a few snaps.

[photo: scaffolding on the stairs; take one bad step off that platform and it's six storeys straight down through the center of the staircase spiral. Unless you grabbed the electrical cable and slid down it with lightbulbs popping off, like Jackie Chan in Police Story (very end of this clip)]

The worst of the damage appears to be over now; for a couple of weeks all of the old electrical wiring was being ripped out of the walls, leaving huge piles of plaster and dusting everything with a layer of plaster dust, which of course got tracked into our apartment and into everything, just like beach sand.

In order to tear out the wiring, they had to pull off all the old wallcovering, which you can see in this picture I took last year (along with cool old gas socket covering, now missing; it seems to have migrated into our apartment and onto a mantelpiece, probably carried in by plaster dust). I was a little bummed by this, as I kind of liked the old wallcovering and wasn't impressed with the plain white paint going up, but it appears now that they aren't done and are in fact putting up some sort of textured-paint rag-rolled treatment that looks pretty nice.

As the old wiring is being replaced, a very makeshift-looking spiderweb of cables is currently (ha!) carrying the load (zing!), and when they finally put in the new cables I won't put up any resistance (OK, had to reach for that one).

[Yes, I know that first picture is of phone wires... don't get hung up on it (Pow!)]

The old yellow paint you see in these photos is gone now--waiting to see what will come next.

This picture shows the new videophone thingy that is being installed in the entry. The digicode pad at the bottom has been there all along, but to date we have had no way to see or talk to anyone entering downstairs--in other words, we had to give our sooper-sekrit code number to any visitors, whether our friends or the plumber or the meter reader or Jean-François the moped driver at Speed Rabbit Pizza Delivery's (sic).

[photo: note the ATM-style buttons that let you scroll through the list of residents' names. Not sure how I feel about having random-drunk-on-the-street-at-3AM being able to buzz up and call me by name]

This next photo shows the old tile floor of the entry partially covered by the new and entirely boring tile floor. It's awfully dirty in this picture, covered by floor adhesive, construction schmutz and the aforementioned plaster dust, but the old tile had style, and I wish they had simply cleaned it up and left it. I suppose in France, 19th-century tile is the equivalent of 70's burnt-orange carpet: Not old enough to be antique, merely dated and tacky.

This harmless-looking gas feeder pipe [last photo] was the culprit in our little gas-and-chaudiere-outage adventure last week. Do you see where the gas was turned off? Take a look; I'll wait.

About halfway up the pipe, dead-center of the photo, there's a little metal doohickey shaped like a baseball diamond. If you look closely [click to embiggen] you'll see the letters "O" and "F", for ouvert and fermée. The whole diamond pivots around the pitcher's mound to turn the gas on or off.

When I went home for lunch today to get a nice hot bowl of gumbo (it's 30 degrees F today), there was a group of men framing up some sort of shed structure in the building's small courtyard, where our garbage and recycling bins usually live. Please please please let it be a bike rack so I don't have to haul my bike up in our tiny elevator standing on one wheel and haul it through the bedroom out onto the balcony where I have to park it...


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