I refer to the painting of the utility room floor and the obnoxious fumes it gives off for hours afterward. It was Wednesday 14 th and soon after breakfast at three-thirty I was down in the cellar with my overalls and protective face mask on brush in hand and on my knees painting the floor. Whilst carrying out the work and wearing the mask of course, I cannot smell a thing. It is only a short time later and when upstairs can the smell be noticed and it is quite strong. If I open windows and doors it does dissipate but then the house gets too cold. If I keep the windows and doors shut it lessens the circulation and it takes ages for the smell to go. It’s sort of catch twenty-two situation so what I do is open the windows and doors for brief periods which seems to work. It is basically the chlorine in the paint which is the main source of the smell. So when I had completed the floor I was hoping for it to be the last time, at least in that room. I may consider painting the cellar hallway floor next year but if I do I know the fumes will be far easier to get rid of for I can open the door to the garden and a window at the top of the cellar steps and get through ventilation. I did the same when painting the gym floor. So the rest of the day I rested from work though there was still some to do, the room’s door, the inspection hatch and the kick boards. I would need to be down in the cellar to do any of them which was out of the question of course. It had taken me around four weeks to reach this stage but not really all that time in actual working hours. A little bit here and a little bit there soon eats away at any task.
Or…for my American friends and some others….a wrench in the works. Somehow ‘wrench’ doesn’t seem to express it as well as spanner but I suppose that is due to my living in the UK. I would prefer to say England rather than the United Kingdom because I am English, I was born here. I do have Scottish ancestry though on my father’s side of the family but I was born in England. Now we say ‘spanner in the works’ to express a condition whereby a planned activity has been forced to a stop by an outside influence or objection. Well it seems that E has thrown such a spanner in the works having raised tentative objections to my planned garden project. I think however she would prefer something slightly different from my proposals though not entirely different. At the moment therefore the plans are on hold until we can agree on what to do. I suspect that won’t take long and I’ll soon be making inroads but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime I can rest up though with me that will be difficult. This morning, that is September 1 st I had to water the garden again because we’ve had little rain lately and one or two of the plants were beginning to wilt a little. I had watered the garden on Friday evening and the plants were looking healthy afterward but a second watering was needed to ensure the soil was moistened through. For today and the following few days the weather forecast says it will remain dry. Anyway I did that and on the way back upstairs I glanced at the pit in which the cross-trainer stands and noticed a small amount of paint flaking off in one corner. When I first constructed the pit a few months earlier I had used paint we had in storage but was never really satisfied with the colour after painting the walls in the room white. The paint in the pit was more creamy looking. Having painted the floor red it magnified the differences between the wall and pit colours. I decided to scrape off the flaking paint and redo the whole pit in a gloss white though I couldn’t of course paint beneath the cross-trainer itself.
It didn’t take long to do, about twenty minutes but now it looks much better for it. Later in the day it was time for more garden maintenance, sweeping up leaves and mowing the lawn.
I could have been a surgeon……but I didn’t have the patience (patients). Okay and old joke I admit but then again well let’s say I’m over thirty-nine! Actually the medical profession was the last thing I would have considered as a career. Apart from the thought of all those years of study followed by a very long subsequent learning curve I don’t think I had the aptitude. Even in the career I chose as an electrician and electrical engineer I had four years of study and an apprenticeship followed by years of learning experiences. I had in fact begun a higher level of education after obtaining the relevant qualifications but a year into the course I gave up the idea. You see I didn’t want years of studying, I wanted to use my skills hands-on. The rest is history, in fact everything is history isn’t it? I will lay claim to having a steady pair of hands and am dexterous. As a surgeon that would be essential of course. Having a steady hand has been an advantage especially when the work demands it. Most of the things I do now naturally involve the use of my hands (even typing this). My current little project is nearly coming to an end and it totally requires the use of my hands, painting the gym floor though I will admit my steady hands didn’t prevent me from applying paint where it shouldn’t be! That though is mostly due to the uneven edges between the floor and the walls. One area involved painting alongside an existing white line.
Most folk would use masking tape and simply remove it once the paint had dried to leave a straight line. It doesn’t always work especially if the surfaces are not smooth as the paint can leak under the tiniest of spaces. I decided to have a go at doing it free-hand…It isn’t perfect but is pretty close! As for the ‘splashes’ of red paint on the white walls, they will be far easier to cover with the emulsion paint because emulsion can be wiped off with water if it gets where it isn’t wanted. The chlorinated rubber floor paint however is more difficult to remove and more so considering its red colour. On Friday morning (10 th) I had almost completed the painting of the floor though half of the floor was yet to receive the second coat.
As I had cemented in the cracks where the treadmill had stood temporarily I couldn’t paint that small area on the day.
If I was being pedantic I would say six hours and twenty minutes but if I was being extra pedantic I would be honest and say well okay it was more like five. What is she talking about? My early morning activities of course what else? It was Wednesday morning and the promised rain hadn’t fallen through the night. I was up.before two o’clock, which accounts for the twenty minutes and downstairs before two-thirty. I checked to see if we had rain and discovering we hadn’t I went into the garden to give the plants a drink. At this time of year it is important not to let the plants die for lack of water. Next it was breakfast followed by a half-hour of catch-up tv. and checking my emails. I was about ready for another walk which used up two hours. On my return home I would be doing some painting in the cellar again. I was about half-way through my walk when I happened upon a guy in a wheelchair who darted out of a hotel lobby a couple of hundred metres ahead of me and going in the same direction. We had both reached the far end of the Promenade before I caught up with him and I hadn’t been walking slowly. I bid him good morning and we chatted a while as we went along. I mentioned that I was impressed with his speedy exercise and he told me the chair was brand new and he was ‘putting it through its paces’. ‘Much better than the previous one’ he said. He was staying for three weeks at the specialist respite care home at the far end of the Promenade after leaving the spinal treatment unit at the hospital. I assumed he meant at Southport. He told me he had an operation which hadn’t gone well and it had left him unable to walk. He was very philosophical about it but I thought how sad for him. I asked him where he lived and he told me North Wales. North Wales can be seen across Liverpool bay from Southport on a clear day. Soon we were at his destination and we parted ways. As I walked along the seafront I could see the heavy rain clouds dumping their load over Ainsdale about four miles down the coast. As I got nearer home it began to rain there too. It had just about stopped raining as I entered the front door. So what next? I put on my overalls and painted over the area I had been working on a couple of days earlier giving it its second and final coat. I also painted the step leading into the room and a little more elsewhere.
At the time of writing there remains the area around that step and the small area beneath the up-righted treadmill to be worked on and of course the bare section in the picture. The other half of the floor also needs its second coat of paint. None of that will take long to do. The floor repairs and painting will then be finished but at some point I will need to touch-up the white walls where I have accidentally touched them here and there with the red paint.
Rest over, time to get back to work. Typical routine for me these days. I am not happy unless I am working but the strange thing is that I like getting away from it after a while. Even stranger is that I can’t wait to get back to it after a short time! I am a hopeless case I suppose but I’d rather be doing something constructive than just doing something which isn’t or not doing anything at all. That said, it was Monday morning again, the first of the month and there was a feeling in the air that things were beginning to change in the weather, it was getting perceptively cooler. I was up very early again and ready for a walk after the weekend break but at two o’clock? No way, that was far too early so I busied myself doing other things until I finally left the house at five o’clock. This time I was wearing my waterproof jacket though with only lightweight clothing beneath. I was glad I did for the wind had increased and it felt very cool. Without the jacket I would have felt uncomfortable and probably would have returned to collect it. On my return home I thought I would get some work done but unfortunately there was little I could do. I wanted to use up the remaining floor paint to do as much as I could with it but wanted to wait until it was brighter outside. If you remember I mentioned that having the door open when it was still dark outside would attract flying insects, especially moths and I didn’t want a cellar full of them! However it was ten o’clock before I got around to doing the work as other things got in the way.
You can see from the picture above how far I was able to go with the remaining paint. The area I covered was all that behind the makeshift barrier. It wasn’t quite enough to cover the whole area as you can see. The next can of paint was on its way from Ireland and I would probably receive it on Tuesday or Wednesday. There was nothing further I could do on that project. The first thing I would do then would be to give the same area another coat of paint so that a couple of days later I could return the treadmill to its original position. That would allow me to repair the small area where it had been standing and I could then go on to finish the painting. Later I would be giving the whole room another coat of paint, except the area under the treadmill which would already have been coated twice. That was the plan anyway, let’s see if it went that way.
Due to one thing or another my gym floor project had taken a back seat and the work wasn’t getting done. I always maintained that there was no rush to finish my work but there comes a point where it begins to annoy me if it isn’t! The previous owner of our property ran a business and one or two of the cellar rooms were used to store goods. The rooms were never decorated but they did lay linoleum on the floor. Many may not know what linoleum is but it is a bitumen-based product which comes decorated with many different designs printed on it. It is supplied in rolls and is very simple to lay. I am not sure if it is very popular these days and doubt it is actually available now. Being a bitumen (tar) based product it burns easily so I would think that makes it a fire hazard. When we moved here thirty years ago we weren’t that bothered about removing floor coverings in the cellar except for one of the rooms where we had a concrete screed laid because it was so uneven. Over the years we have changed things around down there though there is much more we could do if we were inclined. The last two projects in the cellar were the gym and the larder rooms which I have written about in the last few months. Having redecorated the gym we decided to do something about the bare fire-clay tiles many of which were broken or cracked. There were also holes in places. My decision was to fill-in the cracks and holes with a cement mixture then over-paint it. As you may have read I am a little over half-way through doing that. One small area still had linoleum firmly fixed to it and had been left that way for years because it was so difficult to remove. Now that the floor was being painted I had to remove it and this is what I did on Friday (3 rd) morning on my return from a walk.
The picture above shows the unfinished area with the treadmill raised to give me access. I had already moved the bench press (just left out of view). Below shows the close-up of the area that had the linoleum on it which is between the brush and the shovel and toward the top of the picture.
I had trouble removing it, first by trying a gas torch which wasn’t successful, then by applying turpentine substitute which proved very successful. Even so it still took much elbow grease with a scraper to lift the very stubborn pieces. No wonder we had left it on the floor! My next task is to fill the gaps with the cement prior to painting. I will have to paint this area twice before replacing the treadmill and bench press and before moving to the final area by the internal door. Having done that I will paint the rest of the floor with its second coat. This is why the project is taking a long time to complete.
It truly is amazing that with a little ventilation things change radically. ‘A breath of fresh air’ is often quoted when someone presents a new perspective or common sense approach to a problem. We sometimes cannot see a problem until somebody reveals it to us by their different approach. Maybe it is the stubborn heart and refusal to accept assistance which keeps us from seeing the solution and that solution is often so simple. Our blinded eyes prevent us from seeing it. A breath of fresh air is usually all it takes to speed things up too. It wipes away the dust and cobwebs and clears away the dross. Ventilation is needed for many reasons in life, not least of all to keep us alive! Working in hostile environments and situations hazardous to our health requires ventilation to make things safe for us to be there. A fine example in point was when I was painting the floor in the new pantry or larder I had been constructing a couple of months ago at home. The paint was hazardous to use unless the area was well-ventilated but alas being in the middle of the cellar it had no access to fresh air. I had purchased a suitable mask with appropriate filters in order to use the paint safely. In recent days I have been working on the repairs to another room in the cellar, the new gym, which fortunately does have access to fresh air. I have been cementing in the cracks and joints in the floor before painting it with the same paint. Despite the ventilation it was still necessary to wear the mask of course. On Wednesday (25 th) morning I painted the area I had already filled-in and had the door to the garden open to give that ventilation. I finished that work and packed everything away. About a half-hour after I had finished the paint was dry!
Previously it had taken many hours to dry in the room which had no ventilation. It is amazing what a little ventilation can do. All I have to do now is the rest of the floor!
I was determined to go for an early morning walk on Saturday (12) and put aside for a while the things which have been taking up much of my time. It had been around a week since my last walk as I hadn’t the time to spare. This is where having something to exercise on at home is handy, you still get some exercise even if you can’t do it outdoors. I had spent Friday morning doing just that because of a tight schedule. Anyway the day was beautiful on Saturday, nice and sunny with a slight breeze and comfortable in the not so hot temperatures. Although I had the time for a long walk I chose to walk only four and a half miles. On my return home I came across the postman delivering mail close to my house and he stopped me saying that he had mail for me. I took the two small packages and a letter from him as he delivered next-door’s mail. On going inside I gave the smaller package and letter to E and opened the larger package which was addressed to me. Finally the mask I had ordered had arrived so I put on my overalls and the new mask and asked E to take a photo…
Very becoming don’t you think? At last I could finish painting the cellar storage room floor and less than an hour later it looked like this…
I don’t know why the walls seem to be different colours but I suppose it is just the way the light is hitting them. The upper of the two pictures reflects more accurately the colour in the room. Now all I need to do is touch-up the walls here and there and put a threshold across the entrance. That won’t take long and I can then say the project is complete.
For one reason or another lately I have been engaged on a spending spree. Today, May 3rd, I bought a gas mask online. Now what do you suppose I needed that for? A kinky party (never been to one)? Well if you remember I purchased some floor paint and it arrived today. Having taken off the lid of one of the cans and painting a sample corner of the cellar storage room I thought it would be best if a mask was worn when painting the whole floor. Indeed it is necessary for the paint fumes are strong and the room cannot easily be ventilated. The paint itself is a chlorinated rubber composition and even after painting such a small amount it sent fumes throughout the basement and the first floor. I hastened to close the room door to minimise the fume distribution but even so I had to keep a few doors and windows open to disperse them. As I hadn’t a suitable mask I had to make the purchase. A few days ago I purchased some clothing for myself and for E and yesterday I purchased the item of gym equipment I was looking to have to go along with the treadmill and elliptical cross-trainer we already have. This time it was an exercise bike, bike machine or whatever you choose to call them.The picture shows the exact model we chose. It looks a though I will be installing an extra power point in the gym soon! So although I have been spending out a lot recently it isn’t a regular habit, I simply couldn’t afford to be spending all the time. Now, for the month ahead at least, I have to curb my spending. Well maybe. Now that I have the paint I can finish off the storage room though it will have to wait now until I receive the mask. I will have to use the mask again when I paint the gym floor but at this moment in time I have still to fill in the holes with cement. I would have had it done by now had I not been looking after E while she has been incapacitated. Today for instance I had to do the weekly shopping once more, something which seems to becoming a regular thing lately. I don’t mind of course, it’s a change from what I usually get up to!
I actually got to stay in bed a little longer than I had been able to for the last few days. Oh it wasn’t that I couldn’t have a lie-in, it had been my intention to arise early so that I could do the work I wanted to do. Even so I was up eating breakfast at eight before continuing the work in the cellar on Saturday (9th). E joined with me after an hour and she began filling in holes where necessary in preparation for the painting she wanted to do. Unfortunately she didn’t get around to the painting as she had that work and other work to do. Meanwhile I had been painting the ceiling, walls and pipes. The ceiling in that part of the room would require two and perhaps three coats of paint for it was black and dirty-looking having not seen a lick of paint for years. It would take me hours to decorate over a couple of days.
The area at top left was actually cleaner-looking than the rest shown in the picture above which had just received its first coat of paint. Anyway I plodded on and completed the walls in the same area…..
When E had left the room I began clearing out the area under the window and continued doing that after lunch. Some items were thrown out but much of them I moved to the greenhouses where they were supposed to be and tidying up the large greenhouse in the process. I returned indoors and fitted a piece of wood over the top of the window frame to allow E to paint the frame later.There are cables clipped along the wall at the top above the window and the wood was placed there to separate them from the frame which would be painted a different colour. You probably cannot see the piece of wood in the picture above because the gas pipe supplying the boiler runs just beneath it. You will however be able to see that the area beneath the window is now clear of the junk which had been stored there together with the garden furniture. Whilst in the room I discovered two more jobs (aside from the cupboard) which I plan to do during the weeks ahead, well when the painting is finished. I will show them in forthcoming posts.