One of the reasons I've been absent lately is that this summer has turned into Home Makeover : GreenTuna edition. For those of you who do not own stock in Home Depot, I'm sorry. We've dropped so much coin there, every time we walk through the door, some orange aproned lackey gets their wings.
This wasn't necessarily the plan for Summer, 2008, but if you took a look at the 1953 house that seemed to be painted by blind orangutangs whose color choices were either on-sale dingy drab, or on-sale off-dingy drab, you wouldn't be surprised. Add to the fact that we're fairly certain nobody ever took the time to actually prepare the the walls or ceilings to do it correctly has meant we've been staring at some butt-ugly paint-chippy plaster-cracking messes for far, far too long.
So a scant 3 days after returning from vacation after walking into my kitchen and discovering a new crack in the ceiling accompanied by more than a few outdoor type creatures in search of a picnic basket, I decided that was it. It had to be fixed, NOW. There was none of my customary hemming or hawing or pondering or debating. In fact, the decision was so immediate, I instantly started emptying cupboards and shelves, in part so I wouldn't be able to change my mind. It was the home improvement equivalent of "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
So we started the process of removing furniture and cupboard doors, light plate switches and curtains and all the billions of things that accumulate in a kitchen so we could begin phase two: scraping, chipping, more chipping and redirecting the ant party into the trash courtesy of a large can of Raid. Once the toxic fumes cleared, it was time for wall and ceiling repair, which is always a party. That you never want to be invited to.
And then came the cleaning and washing of the walls...
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to each and every one of you who has ever been to my house. It was bad enough that the wall color was on-sale off-dingy drab. However, the amount of great big gobs of greasy grimy non-gopher gunk that had accumulated was GROSS. It was grosser than gross. We changed the water and changed the water and changed the water and changed it some more. I think I had a 4-hour nonstop Mince Pie Face. It. Was. SICK. But once done, at least the on-sale off-dingy drab walls were at least cleaner.
I haven't had enough therapy to discuss the kingdom behind, to the side, and underneath the stove. Ditto the refrigerator. On the positive side, however, we found approximately 58 cat toys. They were thrilled in that cat sort of way, meaning they opened one eye as if to say, "Oh, THAT'S where they were" before rolling over and sleeping for another 17 hours.
Finally we made it to primer. And the first coat? Didn't cover. But it was better. The second coat? Looked beautiful. It was such an improvement that I could have lived with just primer for the next twenty years. But TeenTuna and I had picked out a very pretty light aqua blueish color, and on day 6 we finally got color.
Once it was done, I cannot tell you what a difference it made. Once dark, dingy, grimy and cracking, now it's crisp and clean, light and airy. The ceiling hasn't looked this good EVER and down the line (a bit of a long line, but it's still in the plans) there will be new cupboards and appliances. TeenTuna did quite a turn-around in this whole process as well, and went from being rather incredulous that we had to be our own handyman army to being quite proud of the fact that she helped pick the color, wash the walls, and learned to effectively wield a paint-roller. I consider it Life Skills 101.
It took another week to put the kitchen back together again and get everything in place. Since that time we've also repainted GramTuna's bedroom (a lovely restful herbal green) and my bathroom (a very fun art deco kind of purple), which just had the painters tape removed yesterday. The rest of the house is still the holding ground for our destruction, but hopefully soon things will start to find their way back to where they belong.
I can't say what possessed me to go at all this home improvement with such abandon. But there has been a great deal of satisfaction in fixing all those cracks and holes that I've lived with for all these years. Given all the recent personal and professional upheaval of the past several months, it's been a bit therapeutic to patch the cracks, fill in the holes, smooth out the rough places, and start all over with a fresh clean coat of paint. After a lot of sweat, tears and exhausted trips to the Depot (guess where I'm going during lunch today?), things are starting to shape up nicely.
When it's all said and done, it's still the same four walls. But now they are clean and fresh and new. Everything seems to radiate optimism and possibilities.
That may be the biggest home improvement of all.