A Banana Cream pie to the face

IMG_0301After a couple of short-term, but painful, financial set-backs, my other half and I came to the realization that we would have to put off a few planned home improvements.

First off the list – repainting the house, which has as a side benefit the fact that we do not now have to paint the house. (No, I do NOT think that’s cheating; I think it’s prudence.)

I cannot, however, ignore the few areas that need a touch-up, which sent me to the paint store toting a can of paint in an ancient hue in hopes they could swing me a few more gallons.

I set the rusty can on the counter.

“Oh, no!” said the young woman behind the desk, rolling her eyes, “Banana Cream!”

Two more clerks came to the desk. “Not Banana Cream,” one of them muttered.

Now, I know that picking out paint colors is not a core competence of mine, but I like the color of my house. Liked it when we painted it, and like it now. So I was a little disgruntled.

“There’s nothing wrong with Banana Cream,” the young woman said, noting my quizzical expression (“quizzical” being a generous descriptor of the expression I wore). “It’s just that this is one of the few colors we mix that requires a light yellow base, and we almost never carry it. I’m not sure we’ll be able to mix this color for you.”

“I’ll check,” she added, heading to the back while I felt the hours of gained productivity and refound dollars ebbing away from me.

The crashing, banging, and gasping that ensued sounded like the offstage racket in a Three Stooges movie.

“Look at this!” She shouted to her co-workers, “I found a gallon. No, two gallons! And one that will almost work. That’s three whole gallons!”

I waited for the confetti. The marching band. The celebratory handshake. Nothing.

“You must be the luckiest person on the face of the earth,” she said, returning to the desk.

Well, I don’t feel that lucky. Particularly in light of the set-backs I mentioned earlier. But I’ll take what luck I can get.

Oh, and I also bought a gallon of deck stain. Watch me go.

Twice as much or twice as long?

IMG_0590Because I am a small, aging woman, it falls upon me to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the chores around the house. (See why here.) Thus it was I found myself power washing the deck on a beautiful afternoon in a last-gasp attempt to refinish it before the snow flies.

In some Minnesota households, this is like a hobby. You spend the period from May to October scanning the weather forecast for three nice, warm, consecutive days. When the planets align, you put your plan into action:

  • Day #1: Power wash deck
  • Day #2: Let it dry thoroughly and prep it for stain
  • Day #3: Watch unexpected storm cover deck with dirt and debris
  • Repeat

You get the idea. If you’re lucky, you finish the project in time to host an outdoor party that requires only a light jacket, and not a parka.

My companion in this task is a well with a pump that pre-dates the Mad Men era. The pump’s a plucky old gal whose primary attribute (providing free outdoor water) outweighs the fact that she’s a little arthritic, and requires frequent breaks to recharge herself.

When you’re lazily watering a garden plot this is no obstacle. The water trickles to a halt, you pull a few weeds, and when it hisses back on you continue. But it’s not so tolerable when you’re washing a large deck whose condition I’ve likened in previous posts to a shipwreck that someone pulled up from the bottom of a freshwater lake and deposited on our lawn, barnacles and all.  While some around these parts are fanatical about keeping a clean deck, I’m pretty sure ours hasn’t been washed since our youngest was still eating his Cheerios in front of Elmo’s World (he’s 10).

So this large, filthy endeavor was made worse by my unreliable partner. The old gal would work diligently for a few minutes, then stop to catch her breath, and after a brief set-down, would get going again. (Lest there be confusion, the old gal in this instance is the pump, not me.)

I tried to make the most of the interruptions. I made myself a snack. I had a cup of coffee. I had another cup of coffee. But how much coffee does one really need? I’m not a patient person, and wasting all this time was getting on my nerves. The caffeine was not helpful.

So I decided to do what any reasonable person would do when faced with too many chores and too few nice days – weed in between washing. My garden’s a disaster, and the weeds, at this point, were mocking my efforts, so I decided to dispose of a few of the little suckers just to make myself feel better.

And so it went. Power wash for 2-3 minutes. Hear water sputter off. Set hose down. Descend deck stairs. Weed for 5 minutes. Hear water sputter back on. Climb deck stairs. Restart washer. Continue ad nauseum.

I grew frustrated. And my glutes were getting a little sore. The work was taking twice as long as it should have. But then, again, I was doing two tasks simultaneously. So maybe it was taking half the time. Or maybe I was doing twice as much work in the same time. Or maybe none of this was true.

It made my head hurt.

So I gave up the reasonable person’s plan, and instead opted for what an unreasonable person would do. I decided to blog about washing the deck in my downtime. In fits and starts. 2 to 3 minutes at a time. All afternoon.

Anything for a little time to write.