Stain of Fools

Hello, friends.

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything, and this post will be slow and laborious because my fingers aren’t working like they used to.  It’s akin to being fairly sedentary in lifestyle and then playing several rigorous games of volleyball at the company picnic.  The next day, in addition to a sunburn that resembles an electric apple, every muscle is brimming with lactic acid and, for three days you hobble around like the Tin Man after going through a car wash.

That’s exactly what my hands are like.  However, interestingly, if you were to place a 4″ paint brush into their stiffened positions, you would find that it fits perfectly.

You see, since my wife and I have owned our house for the last two years, I decided only now, for the first time, to inflict some sort of home improvement on it.  For the last two years, I haven’t been able to shake my renter’s mindset; that being:  “Just don’t touch anything and maybe we’ll get the security deposit back.”  Like the way old Italian ladies will wrap their sofas in cellophane to preserve the fabric regardless of whether or not it was a fabric worth preserving, my motto has been:  “Take only pictures and leave only footprints…and then mop up the footprints.” 

I don’t know from where I got this idea.  When I was a kid, the focal point of our “living room” was my father’s chair that had been set ablaze one night when he passed out with a lit cigarette.  Despite the damage to the maroon crushed velvet, it went on to serve valiantly for several more years.  Our coffee table was a large, wooden spool that had once been wrapped in wire, and proudly bore the stencil:  “Indiana Electric.”  House cats regularly crept into the walls through any number of gaping holes in the plaster, and would mew through the night like the tortured, yet adorable, spirits of erstwhile occupants.

So I don’t know what possessed me to stain the fence that borders our modest property, but I’m pretty sure I now know what it was like to build the intercontinental railroad…or at least painstakingly treat every tie.  You see, while the lot is modest, the cedar fence surrounding it is Herculean.  I’m sure when it was first built, it was a proud and stately picket rampart that made the 880-square foot ranch home look like Tara from Gone With the Wind.  Since that time, rain and U.V. damage have reduced the fence to a dry, grey skeleton.

And painting/staining has always been something I’ve been fairly good at.  This improvement, as opposed to plumbing, roofing or furnace work, which would likely end very, VERY badly.  When I was younger (old enough to work, but too young to know that I was being exploited), I did a lot of painting, so I was confident that I could restore the fence to it’s former beauty. 

Three days later and I’m not yet half way around…and that’s just the outside.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that the “curb appeal” side was only half the battle.  I blame a lack of Saturday morning P.S.A.’s.  And now, I’m also monitoring the weather forecast like I’m planning a Shuttle launch; squinting and searching for an arid window of opportunity whereas before, I could scarcely care less about the weather.  I used to even shut the windows to silence the emergency sirens when they interrupted a Bonanza marathon.  

But I am Captain Ahab and this fence is my Cedar Whale; it may kill me, but years after I’m gone, my story will be required reading for high school sophomores.


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