***************I was painting my daughter's room this morning, thinking about all of the layers of paint that lay beneath. It was like going through our family's own archaeological dig. When we first moved into the house, Joey was three, and the little bedroom was done in pale blue wallpaper, and a chair rail with little ducks -- a cute nursery for its former occupant. I switched out the duckies for little soldiers and with a bright blue quilt on the bed, it was the perfect 'big boy' room for Joe. Then Luke came along, and I put the two boys together in the larger bedroom next door. (It was one of the smartest things I've ever done -- one room to keep picked up, and the boys had all the fun and learning that comes with sharing a bedroom with a sibling. Their friends envied them!) The little bedroom became a guest room, and I stripped the wallpaper, painted the walls a pale yellow and set up my Grandma's four-poster bed. Then Emily came along, and it was once again converted to a nursery. We eventually painted it pink for her 'big girl' room, with a princess wall border. A few years ago, we finished our basement so that Joe had his own room. Luke's room was painted denim blue and gold, with a St. Louis Ram's theme. The little bedroom was done in alternate walls of lime green and sky blue -- Emily's choice, and themed with frogs. As I was painting in there this morning, I wondered if I would have agreed to those colors had I known it would require two coats to cover them with "straw hay". I have no doubt I would have. It's just paint.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Coloring my world
I've been spending most of the weekend painting rooms in our house so that they are (hopefully) more "buyer friendly" colors. Painting is one of those chores that seems so huge. But once all the materials are gathered together, the furniture moved to the center of the room and covered, the prep work completed (clean the baseboards, remove all the light switches, tape all the wood work) I'm eager to dip into a new color and the actual painting is therapeutic. With a country music station playing in the background, I'm quickly lost in thought, kind of like being at the symphony where my mind wanders from one place to another. Inevitably, the stroke of the paint brush takes me back to the summer in college when I worked on the student paint crew. We were a group of 25 or so students, hired to paint the faculty apartments which were three-story Tudor style built in the 1930s. I wonder how many gallons of white and brown paint we went through? There were two paint crews. One was headed up by a younger, rather hefty, chain-smoking guy who claimed most of the young women on the crew and took a few token guys. The other was the older, experienced painter named Carl. He had snow white hair that was neatly combed back, and wore long khaki pants and a long sleeved khaki work shirt, neatly button to the top button. He wasn't very happy that he was required to have at least three female painters on his crew. But he agreed that it might be okay to have some girls to paint the window trim on the ground floor. It was on Carl's crew that my two room mates and I spent the summer. On the first day we were all given white paint hats and brushes that Carl embossed with our initials. He gave us a lesson on how to clean them each day (and this was oil based paint, so it was no easy task). The rest of our uniforms consisted of cut-off jeans, tank tops and white Keds. . . and a big bottle of sunscreen. It was a great summer. Painting with friends during the day and at night going out for all-you-can-eat BBQ and margaritas. Amazingly, Carl never got one drop of paint on his clothing that whole summer. And he worked right beside us. However, each afternoon, the rest of us spent half the clean up time, using mineral spirits and rags to wipe down our arms, legs, and scrub our hands. After a few days, we girls got a bit tired of standing on the ground while the guys had all the fun with the 40-foot extension ladders and "cherry pickers". One day, Carl must have been off checking on the other crew, and we convinced the guys to teach us how to run the cherry picker. By the time Carl got back, we were high up in a basket, and one of us was driving the cherry picker around the building. "Are those girls up there?" he exclaimed. Then he threw up his hands and knew he'd been beat. We dubbed ourselves "Carl's Chicks" and by the end of the summer he admitted that we were some of the best painters he'd ever had.