The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Famous Last Words

There are many famous last words; I however, upon moving into this house, felt compelled to utter a last MONOLOGUE. It began innocently enough with "You know, I really don't care for the wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom" (in my defense here, it was covered with teeny, tiny, little flowers in bright red and bright blue that actually made me slightly dizzy). It proceeded with no small amount of hubris through vague statements about "changing the bathroom" and "taking down that dreadful paper" and so forth, and ended quite ominously with "I'll do it. I mean, how hard could it be?" Yeah, I actually said that. Wouldn't you think that after 41 years of living I would understand that, to the fates, the above italicized phrase is code for "I do not currently have what it takes to slam my hand repeatedly in the car door, but am just bursting to have an equivalent experience. What do you recommend?" It might also mean "Please take away any and all knitting time I might have, as I have no interest in pursuing said hobby." Well.

I did not realize my mistake immediately. I went and rented the steamer and actually had a mental picture of running the instrument easily over the offending paper, which would then peel off neatly in my hands. Go ahead. Take a moment to roll on the floor laughing. I'll wait.

Reality was more like two hours in a Turkish bath, an all-over wallpaper glue skin treatment, and paper that came off in stubborn little chunks, randomly taking strips of the top layer of wallboard with it. The car door was starting to look good. I went to Hubby with my problems; he was kind and soothing. He told me that this was no problem at all. We could fix the wallboard. This was going to be a piece of cake. (I've since realized that Hubby was almost certainly terrorized in his youth by an aggressive, knife-wielding piece of cake--but I was innocent of this at the time. I was comforted.) The next step, he advised, was for me to take a single edged razor (yeah, I know--me with a sharp thing. It worried me, too, but no blood was shed.) and cut away the ragged paper around the tears. Then I would spray them with vile smelling stuff so that the exposed board wouldn't absorb the next layer of stuff. (Naturally, I've impressed you with all of my technical terminology.)

It was at this point that Hubby decided since we're working on the bathroom anyway (I tell you, no good can come of a statement like this), he would remove the toilet and light bar and we would replace these items. Now we could add a rather nasty hole in the floor around which to work (although I admit it made taking the last of the wallpaper down much easier). The next step, according to Hubby, was the application of some drywall. We did this, and it was thoroughly gloppy and nasty--but still, I was not concerned. Then, the next day came the four, innocent sounding words: "Now you sand it." That sounded so easy. It didn't sound a bit like standing in a cloud of choking dust for hours while rubbing a sanding block over a increasingly larger and larger wall until my arms ached.

Which is what it was.

I worked on that wall for two days. I was covered in so much dust that I looked like a powdered donut, which may be why I've been craving one. If I gain 50 pounds doing this project, I'm blaming the former home owner. (Yes, I know that's a stretch....but go with me on this.) I showed Hubby my work, and thus began THE RITUAL. All marriages have little rituals; ours goes like this:

Me: "Well, what do you think?"
Hubby: "It looks great, Honey. It's perfect."
Hubby: (picks up sand block and begins to sand "perfect" wall)
Me: "?"
Me: "I thought you said it was perfect."
Hubby: "Oh, it is. I just want to get this one spot."
Multiply this out by about a dozen of these "one spot" things. It is proof positive that pride, while it may or may not goeth before a fall, can nevertheless make a person stupid. Because for three days I didn't just let Hubby indulge his perfectionism while curling up with a good book. No, I demanded that he show me the spots in question and then spent several more hours on them. Repeatedly.

Finally, Hubby deemed the walls suitable. Hooray, thought I. And I began to imagine the lovely, pale-sand-colored paint I had purchased, and how lovely it would look with the beautiful, chocolate brown shower curtain I'd seen--the one with little amber beads dangling from the top. I was ecstatic. Then Hubby informed me that we were ready for the next layer of drywall. Things are a bit vague at this point. I know I developed a bit of a tic in my eye. I suspect that my voice became slightly shrill, and I think I recall saying something rather hysterical about how the wall could not POSSIBLY become smooth enough if he kept putting more glop on it. Thankfully, Hubby is used to me. And actually, the second layer of drywall was much better than the angry slice of cake and even the sanding went more quickly (read: I let Hubby get it as perfect as he wanted it.). Yay, thought I. The paint, the shower curtain, the tiny, countertop fountain burbling happily Not so much. Now the primer. Apparently the drywall needs to be made READY for the paint. Apparently just telling it to brace itself is not enough--who knew drywall was so sensitive?

All of which is a longwinded way of saying that I have spent the morning up a ladder with a bucket of primer, painting white on white and inventing new swear words. If there is a more frustrating home improvement task than painting white on white and trying to get it even, I don't think I want to know about it. I mean, I think it's probably easier to sleep when blissfully ignorant of such nastiness in the world.

But, I will offer this photo of Gracie (a non step cat) who is clearly having more fun this morning than I am:

Tomorrow, I hope to have some serious knitting progress to show you.....after all, I do have to let the primer dry.....don't I?


  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger Kim said…

    Ohhhh, noooo. I do feel your pain, having had nearly the identical experience earlier this year. Well, identical up to the point where you realized you were pulling bits of actual wall away along with the wallpaper. At that point, my husband (not being as handy as yours, sadly) said, "Let's call a plasterer."
    That was in April. The bathroom walls still look like the surface of the moon, with random pink and blue flowers we still haven't scraped off. I'm so embarrassed. Just rejoice that you've gotten past the sanding and soon you will have a lovely, beautiful, new bathroom!

  • At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    You are a very funny woman, thank you so much, I *know* about it not being funny while it's happening...I, in a past life, created special finishes and unfortunately at times would happen across a job that required stripping off wallpaper and prepping the walls, hated that...but sadly for them (they coulda gotten someone else to do this but nooooo) they ended up paying through the nose,and honestly? I didn't feel bad at all.
    Now to finish up and get back to your knitting woman!
    I'm a snake also....I've just got 12 years on you.


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