Sippican Cottage

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This Is How I Go When I Go Like This: Painting The House

So it’s 10:00 AM, Saturday morning. About 65 degrees; sunny; not much wind. I was up at 5, but didn’t have the heart to roust the teen early. We have plenty of time. We’re going to paint one side of our 1901 Victorian. 
We have a three-year plan to fix up the house. We’re one year in and holding our own. The order of things is skewed. We have next-to-no money, so we have to concentrate on labor-intensive things, not material-intensive things first. We don’t have a lot of time, either, but that’s an excuse to go fast, not to avoid things. 
One of our lovely neighbors recently vinyl-sided their house, and told us about it. Vinyl siding is common here. Vinyl siding is sold as a curative, but it’s a palliative. It’s the medical marijuana of home improvement. You still have cancer but you don’t care as much. The neighbor told us the first estimate to side their house, which is smaller than our house, was $19,000. Since I purchased my house for $24,000, this seemed less than a value. They ended up hiring a local man who charged them $11,000. If I had $11k and few months, I could renovate the entire inside and outside of my home and quadruple its value. Back when I still painted stranger’s houses, I could have painted their house eight times with $19k. That’s thirty-five to forty years of fresh paint on your house for the same money. A plastic winding sheet for your house seems more appetizing to the average American now, for reasons that escape me. 
It’s been a while since I bought housepaint. I was astonished to find the price had roughly doubled. It was almost fifty bucks a gallon for Ben Moore Moorgard latex flat; so painting one side of my house would cost about a hunnerd, and take a day. We painted the front last year. The back needs more repairs first, the other side needs… I dunno, prayers or a missile strike or something first. I’ll get to it.

There’s the side we’re doing. It’s two-and-a-half stories on a wild slope inside some trees, guarded by legions of mosquitoes. I execrate everything the former owners did to the place, and the nasty blue color the place was schmeared with is right at the top of the list; right up there with the cedar shingles they wallpapered our bedroom with.

I used to build gas stations, and we’d occasionally be hired to decommission a gas station. We removed the storage tanks and dispensers and so forth, then all the signage. Then we were instructed to paint the entire place, every last surface, with a non-descript, blah, nasty blue color that would throw off any person trying to divine what kind of gasoline used to be served there by any color scheme left showing. The color was deliberately chosen to be ugly.  Our house was painted that blue color, and it drove me around the bend, every square inch of it, every time I looked at it. It’s like therapy, not work, to cover it up

I’m in a hurry and must be efficient. I start at the hardest, highest spot, and do everything while I’m there. I palm sand the entire thing, caulk the seams, putty any holes, and paint the siding and the trim at the same time. You’ve been told by a middle-aged woman wearing too much makeup wearing an orange vest in a big warehouse that sells powerwashers that you want to powerwash your house first. No you don’t.

The paint might cost fitty a gallon, but it covers in one shot, so it’s worth the dough. Between all the gathering of stuff and so forth, this is all we had done by noon. LUNCH!

Momo le chat offered to fix lunch for us, but we don’t have a working grill yet, so we had to settle for food my wife made instead. We spent a quiet moment in the back yard, enjoying the sunshine. Winter beats on you like a LaMotta every year, so every nice day is like a sunny Christmas:

I read the Intertunnel, and am instructed constantly that children are nothing but rude, useless drains on one’s pocketbook, and pointless leeches on society and Mother Nature. I bet yours are, if you write things like that — or would be, if you’d managed to have any children instead of playing World of Warcraft in your mom’s basement until you’re old enough to retire on Social Security. Mine are endlessly useful and productive and amusing.

After finishing the moles and sandwiches, we’ve got to get on our horse and ride. Here is a rare sighting of the author in his native habitat. Don’t approach him too closely; he spooks easily and lashes out when startled:

The siding is “Providence Olive.” The trim is “Montgomery White,” which my son the wag calls monkey white. The accent color seen later is “Mayflower Red.”

Here you can look in our bedroom windows, you pervert:

That’s my office on the right. It has huge windows on the four faceted sides of it, the largest of which is five feet square. It’s a fantastic place to write. I wish I knew how to write; then life would be perfect:

Here I am again. I’m desperately handsome, and poorly dressed, which is my signature look:

We decided to press on through before eating dinner, and worked until we finished at 6:30. My heir painted the masonry “Tudor Brown,” and a lot of the lowest boards on the siding, which are called a water table. I’m the only person you know that knows what the lowest boards on your siding are called; so I have that going for me.

Some deranged persons have removed 9 or 10 windows from my house, and put plywood over the openings. I am not a violent man, but I’m willing to learn if I meet these people. I imagine they thought they were saving money on heat, but since the majority of the windows they removed faced south, southeast, or southwest, they ended up losing all the solar gain of the windows instead. Then they put tacky ceiling fans in every room with the money they “saved.”  I’ll put the windows back some day when we’re rich.

The ceiling fans went to the dump on day one.

Day: June 7, 2011

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