The Queen Bee

We’ve had a beehive of activity going on at the farm this week. List checking, and the like.

The gutter boys arrived. Yes, that’s what they’re called here. Except none of the men who arrived are actually still classified as ‘boys’. In the midst of monsoon rains, these men put gutters on our house. And it was quite the endeavor. We have two turret-like structures that cling to the side of our house. One holds the staircase. The other my painting area surrounded by windows. Neither of these round outcroppings are easy to hang with gutters.

We wanted gutters on the house because it rains a lot here. Jeff battled water issues the entire time we lived in a house clinging to the side of a ravine in the Cascade mountains east of Seattle. When it would rain, he would look outside worried. We had french drains put in. Paved many surfaces, including our half-mile long driveway. He had solar powered pumps installed. Steel re-enforced retaining walls with buttresses. He battled Mother Nature and she battled back. The number of times I saw him suited up in his beloved bright yellow Carhartt rain gear in a deluge are too numerous to count. Climate change will take that house out and wash it into the creek one of these days. I wonder if the house we almost bought on the coast of Portugal might suffer a similar fate.

Finding this flat piece of property made Jeff very happy. The people who built our house in Galicia had a slate patio installed that encircles the foundation. If you saw it you might be forgiven for believing gutters are unnecessary. But, over the decades, this white house began to resemble a teenager who had walked through deep mud in her prom dress. The rain fell, flowing unabated off the roof and hit the patio, promptly splashing up onto the white house carrying whatever dirt had collected on it’s surface over the years. I don’t believe, based on the amount of moss, that it had ever been pressure washed before the roofers did it a few weeks ago. The first 2+ feet of our house was covered in gritty, sandy black sludge. Something needed to give. Enter the gutter boys.

They did an amazing job. The turret gutters alone took one guy a whole day for each one. I am very happy with the results. Back in the US, when we had our cement shingled roof cleaned, painted and sealed, the contractor said we should look at our house as a person. The roof is the hat. The gutters are the eyebrows, and the windows are the eyes. So, for our house I chose black gutters. White eyebrows would have gotten lost on the house.

While they were doing the gutters, I have been painting the interior of the house. The first floor is complete and I’m starting to head up the stairs. Over the years, I have painted every house we have ever owned. Yes, I have hired others to do the job when I’ve been too busy. But, I have done a ton of painting. The last time Jeff and I painted a room together was the night Obama Care passed in Congress. We listened to the vote as we painted well past midnight, celebrating that more people would enjoy health coverage and I got a freshly painted loft in the bargain. This time it was me 99% and Jeff 1%. He had to reach the places I couldn’t.

I do have a Pro Tip. If you’re not the person painting, don’t come down from your lofty perch of a home office and silently stare, cock your head to one side, frown, then offer ‘Might I make a suggestion?’ It won’t go well for you after that. Much like my lawn mowing, there is a method to my madness. And it’s been honed after years of painting rooms with different types of paint. My first paint job was in college when I painted my parents living room and staircase one Spring Break. Just for fun. I’ve become more experienced from there. But this is a different type of paint.

We went to the Bricomart in Santiago to purchase paint and supplies. Think Home Depot. The paint guy there was very knowledgeable and he spoke Ingles. He asked more questions than I have ever been asked, in total, when purchasing paint in the past 25 years. After discussing our home, the wall composition, the age of the house, the weather, humidity, etc., he walked over and recommended a thermal paint. I wanted natural paint with less off-gassing but in Galicia mold can be a problem. We had a problem with it because of the formerly leaking roof in the stairwell. ‘In an apartment you can go natural. On a house, here, no.’ So we decided to go with his recommendation. This paint is insulating paint. Never heard of that before. It will make a difference in both winter and summer by 3-5 degrees. The paint guy was adamant that this is the right paint. But there was a hitch.

All the paint at Bricomart could be professionally tinted by them at the store. Except the thermal paint. We would have to tint it ourselves. We bought the giant buckets of paint. A mixing drill bit. And a small thing of black tint (I wanted dove grey), and we took it home. Then it sat there while we both ignored it, playing a game of chicken on who would attempt to tint the paint first. The stakes were high. Too much and the whole lot of expensive thermal paint would be ruined.

Finally, I went out to the barn and got all the stuff and brought it onto the front porch. I pushed aside Jeff’s suggestion we mix it in the barn. I’m a painter ‘The light matters.’ He hooked up the drill. I got a piece of paper to count the drops. In case we needed the second bucket of paint and I have to conjure up the same color. And a white piece of cardboard I’d saved from recycling to match to my paint sample. The gutter boys watched us.

‘It will only take a few drops to get it to be light grey.’ Jeff warned me. ‘Be careful,’

Eye-roll. I put three drops into the five gallon bucket, marked it on my sheet, while he mixed. Then, I put in three more drops, recorded the hash marks, as Jeff uttered the same warning. Rinse and repeat. No kidding, 145 drops of tint later, duly cautioned, I had the light grey I wanted. And it looks great on the walls. No more yellow.

I’ve learned over the years to select colors based on what it will look like in several lights. Summer, gloomy winter. How it will show off wall art. And the versatility with changing tastes in furniture trends. Importantly, what it will look like when the Christmas decorations are up. This seems like the right paint color for this house. I even got a nod from one of the gutter boys. ‘It looks good.’ 👍

The gutter boys finished up this morning, and it looks marvelous. I told them so and they took photos to show other clients. Already, the sound of dripping water off the roof is contained to gurgling out the downspouts. But I have a new pair of XL Tall Carhartt rain gear coming for Jeff in Emilie’s suitcase. And I’m putting the living room back together today. So far so good. Surprise! It seems, this busy little 🐝 knew what she was doing after all.

4 thoughts on “The Queen Bee

  • Mold, mildew and condensation are a huge problem here. I find it in places that I didn’t think possible, like my sofa! We do everything possible to eliminate it in winter including air circulation, open windows, dehumidifier, the good paint but, there it is creeping around on the corner of the ceilings. I have learned to live with it after 7 years and clean it with a Bleach solution every week and repaint those places in Spring. You are doing everything right so I hope you have better luck than us. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  • I admire your gumption. I am frozen when it comes to paint color. Absolutely frozen. I’ve looked at so many houses over the year, looking for the right color for our house. I’ve bought paint swatches and hubby has slapped them on the house – to see them in different light. Inevitably I get a color with too much yellow in it. Over 3 years ago we hired our son to scrape the wood siding of our 110 year old ‘working class’ Craftsman. It is still unpainted and now it is just a bunch of pealing paint and it’s just embarrassing. Argh. Now we have to paint just to sell it so I guess I’ll go neutral and suck it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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