Thursday, October 21, 2010

Painting Windowsills

Our house is old. A hundred years old last April. Fortunately it has good bones and has stood up under years of neglect and remuddling - including ours. There isn't a windowsill in the house that hasn't needed touching up for the last ten years.

When I first quit the soul-sucking day job, the plan was that I would start with cleaning and organizing and work my way up to doing the kinds of odd jobs that are simple enough even I am up for them. This was interrupted by Health Crap, for quite awhile, and now that I'm feeling better most of the time, I'm finding it hard to get my head back into the game. I can get myself to clean, and sew, and run errands in the afternoon; but the big jobs around the house remain untackled. I felt as if sickness had turned me lazy. This is not part of my self image.

So yesterday I decided that I would paint some windowsills. Nothing ambitious. Just the two in the kitchen. We had sandpaper, white paint left over from the porch, brushes, paint thinner, old sheets to put down, masking tape, face masks; and if I were fussy, I wouldn't have put up with big bare patches on my windowsills for ten years, would I?

But it soon became evident that my head wasn't in it; that I simply wasn't prepared to take a long Len-like look at every problem that arose and figure out how to solve it, however long that took, whatever I had to do about it. Yesterday I sanded but didn't prime the window on the stairs that's so handy for the cats (they don't have to jump - just walk from stair to window to countertop to sink and demand their runny water) and the result is barely noticeable. So today I sanded, and primed, and stirred the paint better when I did the window over the sink.

But I didn't do what was necessary to deal with the big peeling parts at the top of the window that I'd need to stand on the twelve-foot ladder and lean over the sink to work on. I never figured out a way around my inability to open this window because I can't get leverage on it the width of the sink away. And I couldn't find the scraper, wasn't prepared to do a really thorough sanding without a power sander, and realized I'm really lousy at cleaning brushes. So really all you can say about the result is that the wood is less badly protected than it was before. It doesn't actually look that much better.

So I did a half-assed job. It's not precisely true that I didn't care; but I didn't care enough about the result to go all out for it, and I got the result I earned. As I feel better and better, I'll get my head in the place where I can do this stuff right, or - I won't, and we'll have to spend money. After we pay off the work on the back porch which presently looms. If my husband, the only other person with a real right to care, doesn't find this state of affairs acceptable, he's as capable of getting his head into that space as I am, and more capable of doing the work (hey, he can at least open that window).

I'm certainly not going to gripe to people who have their heads in that space and are handy around the house about how hard painting windows is, or how they should give me a break, or ask them to admire half-assed work.

A lot of people approach writing like I approach windowsills, and that's cool. As long as they know they're doing it, and accept it about themselves, and don't clutter up the slushpile with it giving the rest of us unagented authors a bad name.

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