Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Rainy day catching up

It’s cold and rainy. We’ve already had more rain this July than in four of the previous five years (yes I have an Excel spreadsheet with all our rainfall on it since we bought our first rain gauge in May 2003). It is conducive to staying in bed and doing nothing except that there is a lot to be done. I have been planning for days to take photos of the outside of the house to post here but rain has slowed this down. I really don’t want to traipse through the mud around the house, crawl under a barbed wire fence, then slog through knee high wet grass to get a good shot. Where is my dedication?

Yesterday I had a houseful of children, even more than usual with school friends over on a rainy day. Their mother was suitably impressed with the paintwork on the outside of the house but was struck by the contrast with the inside, which is very much a worksite/work in progress. The living room has trestles and saw set up and piles of trim (architraves, skirting boards, wall trim) leaning against walls. Wall and ceiling sheeting lean against another wall. The compressor occupies a corner. The bedroom is the tidiest but still has piles of wood and spare tongue and groove (vjs) leaning in one corner. The old kitchen is our tool and everything-we-don’t-want-elsewhere repository. One old kitchen wall cabinet is piled high with sharp and poisonous things out of the reach of small ones. The toilet and laundry are swathed in drop sheets and semi-painted. I spent about 16 hours over the weekend painting or preparing to paint and I have the aches and bruises to prove it.

Scrape, sand, sugar soap, undercoat and seal, topcoat twice. Doesn’t sound like so much does it? Imagine doing it up a ladder stretching for the 3 metre ceiling. I’ve learnt a few lessons (you can infer for yourselves how I might have learnt them):

1. A small paintpot with a handle works better up a ladder than trying to balance an old icecream container.
2. You need two brushes to paint vj. A skinny one for the grooves and a wide one for the flat bits.
3. Never write on a wall even a bare wooden one in ballpoint pen. We now have a beautifully illustrated builder’s diagram on one wall that is perfectly legible through five coats of paint.
4. Don’t listen to salsa music on your iPod when you are on top of a slightly wobbly ladder.
5. Don’t paint at night with the window open unless there is no other time to do it. The newly painted walls become graveyards of flying insects. Moths are the worst as they stumble and leave wing fluff across broad expanses of previously impeccable antique white.
6. Make sure that you are on the bottom rung of the ladder when you step off it.
7. Pay someone else to do your painting.

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