Life doesn’t always follow a plan. More specifically, life rarely follows our plans. That being said, life’s plans are always the best ones. Planning has never been my strong suit. Not surprisingly, it is one of my biggest challenges during my WorkAway year on the road.

My 6 days in Meslay, staying with Kristi and Karl in their 400 year old farmhouse, was a pleasant way to be surprised. My plans had not included staying here, but when I suddenly had to bridge a week between hosts, they were quick to offer me a place to stay. I fear that 6 days was not quite long enough to really settle into any real work routine, but I was able to lend a hand with a few projects Karl had going. Together we re-built or modified some old wooden shutters so that they fit the current window and door openings.

When asked if I was interested in plastering a wall, I jumped at the chance. Working with lime plaster was a new experience, but after a few tries, I got the hang of it. Karl was also pleased with my results. I continued plastering until the bag of lime was finished and the wall was practically covered. The first half of the wall looked really great, while the second half had a number of spots which needed more attention. For the moment however, the plaster was still too wet to allow any finishing touches. In order to achieve the desired effect with this plaster, a certain technique is required and along with that technique, the proper timing. After initial application and smoothing, the plaster needs time to set. If you return to it too quickly, you run the chance of opening up big gaps in the surface. If you wait too long and the plaster has begun to set, you can no longer achieve the smooth sanded texture you are aiming for.

This day my timing was off. I made the mistake of walking away too soon and not communicating this to Karl. When I returned later, I found that the wall had already set, making it impossible to make any more corrections to the surface. Karl was clearly (and understandably) disappointed. Most likely, my negligence meant that the entire wall would have to be done a second time, and seeing as I was leaving the next day, it would be Karl doing the plastering. So while I had learned some new skills in the process, the less than perfect result ultimately resulted in extra work for Karl.

That certainly wasn’t the plan! But Karl was gracious in his critique, and I learned a valuable lesson: Stay with the job until it is done…and when in doubt, ask!