Just Trying to Keep These Kids Alive

160628 Painting

For the past few years whenever I photographed the house I could do it at such an angle that it looked pretty good.  The shed had been rebuilt and painted and so had the front.  The gable ends were a different story.  We’d talked about getting a high lift for the job but even in one of those it’s pretty high up there.  Then there is the square footage that needed painting.

We’re not painters.  In our younger years we painted because we had to and I can truly say I didn’t enjoy a single minute of it – especially exterior painting.  We decided to hire a company that works with college kids for the summer.  The kids are local but they have to play by the rules which gets me to the ranting part of this blog today.

By law in Massachusetts if the building where paint is to be removed was built before 1978 it is assumed the paint is lead based.  If you are a contractor doing the work every chip has to be accounted for and if, God forbid, it touches anyone’s skin they could be poisoned.  This law, in my opinion has put these kids at extreme risk in their jobs.  As you can see from the photograph they are wearing hooded coveralls, booties, respirators and goggles.  I should also tell you they began work at 7 A.M. and finished around 4:30 P.M.  It was over 85 degrees and the humidity was over 90%.  The booties they wear have nothing on the bottom of them that prevent slipping so they climb up and down an aluminum ladder that is pretty slick.  One false move at the top of one and we’re talking bad, bad news here.

My first thought when I walked out to see their progress was “I hope to God they have amazing liability insurance.” My second was to make sure they had enough water.  It was so hot.

They scraped all day with the paint landing on the plastic they had carefully laid over the vegetation near the house.  At the end of the day they used a shop vac to pick up anything that was in the grass.  At least they took the hoods off to do that.

They told me over the weekend and yesterday morning that they had estimated 24 man hours to scrape both ends of the house – I laughed.  A little over ambitious was my replay.  All day 4 of them scraped and just about finished one side with the idea being today two of them would prime while two worked on scraping the other side (you must have a lead abatement person present whenever paint is being removed).

It poured rain last night (much, much-needed I might add) and threatened to do so this morning so painting was out.  One of the kids was sick overnight (my guess was heat stroke) and they decided to put it off until tomorrow.  Maybe it’ll cool off and they will have recovered.

Want to know the worst part of this story?  If we had decided to paint it ourselves we do not have to adhere to the MA law, we wouldn’t have to suit up.  Even worse? All of the exterior wood was replaced on the house in 1984- there isn’t any lead paint on it.

Slow and Steady

131016 Moonrise

I arrived late to Rowe on Wednesday to see that the shed was being worked on.  Most of the paint was removed and there was a window in the west wall.  The opening has always been there – there was a screen in that spot in need of repair.  A hinged shutter, a door of sorts, covered the hole year round and has been there as long as I can remember.  It’s always interesting to walk into an interior space where there is light that has never been there before, you feel like you’ve been missing something.

It was still light out as I unloaded my car but fairly clouded over.  I started cooking a little supper on the stove and walked into the living room where the light coming into the east windows was this amazing color, and bright for sunset.  I looked out, grabbed a camera and this is what I saw.  The light reflecting off of the clouds from the west with the moon rising in the east.  It was stunning and there for less that 10 minutes.  Of course Mr. Photobomb was in every shot.

I woke up out of a half sleep Thursday morning to Chester growling – softly (he’s kind of chicken).  I got up to see Mike , my brother-in-law and Jim, his work partner working on the shed wall.  The dogs went out to happily greet them and we took a walk to the back forty.  When I returned Mike and I talked about the condition of the clapboards and where we were going to go with this.  He also told me Jim had found the window at the dump.  Jim works at the dump part-time which gives him access to the good stuff.  He’s always thinking ahead to where he might recycle something.  A bonus for both of us.  I left them to their work and assume that it will look wonderful in the next week or so.  They do really good work.

131017 Paint

Exterior painting is not something Bill and I are interested in doing.  We have done it at the house in Enfield but the house in Rowe is just too tall.  Mike has been painting for years.  When he paints you know he will do whatever he can to get the paint to stay on for years to come.  He repairs, replaces and caulks where needed then primes and paints.  He is meticulous.

We haven’t been able to do more than a side a year because of the size of the job and the expense.  It will be another two years probably before the house it completely painted so for the time being I just photograph the good sides.  They finished the front a few weeks ago and I have to say the house is looking quite beautiful. I am hoping to build a new storm door before winter.  The strap hinges and thumb latch were made at Williamsburg Blacksmith quite some time ago and that aluminum door really needs to go.

131013 Front of House

Of course when you look at the photographs there are more things to add to the to do list.  Antennas and dishes have to be removed, lightning rods reattached.  Every once in a while I look at a photograph like this and in my head just pretend it’s all done.