Saturday, September 8, 2012

What I've Learned About Projects, Paint, Plumbing, and Mental Stability

Behold my ideal painting project site: men in pleated trousers and immaculate white shirt sleeves. No drips, no drop-cloths, no clutter. They're probably listening to Vivaldi, and plan on going for a quiet scotch after they're done.
(U.S. WPA public domain photo of painters producing murals for the 1939 New York World's Fair)
1. Projects 

In a post on this very blog, I said that project plans need a dumb crap margin. It's a built-in allowance for the stuff (yours, somebody else's, or the twisted turns of fate) that make a project take twice as long or cost cost twice as much or both, with the added bonus of making you feel twice as inept as your average baseline. 

2. Paint

With that last sentence in mind, I turn to paint projects. More specifically me, painting my kitchen. You would think as a blog reader reading my posts that paint is going on my kitchen walls at approximately the rate of one-half teaspoon per month, with union-negotiated breaks in between each application. But no. It's just the dumb-crap margin, which seems to be extremely wide on this project. First I had my obsessive compulsive disorder with clean edges, which brought on my experiments with painter's tape. Then there was this little peripheral tragedy: 

Do not believe a thing this label says. Run away!
Now, it is a universal truth everyone knows that You Can NOT Paint Over Silicone Caulk. Experts gravely shake their heads and say so, the nuns in convent schools teach it, grandfathers on their deathbeds whisper this wisdom to their grandchildren. It's even stated in the Prime Directive of the United Federation of Planets (just ask Captain Kirk). But they tempted me away from this Truth of the Ages and Galaxies with a new silicone product that claims to be paintable. Look, look up there at that deceiving label. With a crack down one entire corner of the kitchen and claims that this paintable silicone caulk is "flexible, won't crack with age," I thought I'd found a better, easier, and more permanent solution than messing about with joint compound, sanding, priming, and finally, paint. 

Yes, the paint did go over the caulk. What they don't tell you is that it leaves a wet-looking "shine" or high-gloss look that shows through the paint, regardless of the paint's gloss. An icky tacky shine that darn near glows in the dark like laser beams. So I cussed. Then I tried a coat of blocking primer, and cussed some more. Then I tried sanding the whole thing really well to rough up the surface, and again with the primer, and paint. Still super shiny. At this point I think a putty knife may have been thrown along with the cussing. So I sanded it down again (cussed), redid the corner with joint compound (cussed), sanded again (cussed), primed (too tired to cuss), and painted (heavy sigh). Did I mention the drying times in between? And this was just for one corner.

If all this is beginning to make me sound more anal than a proctologist's office, well, yes. It does. And I'm not normally like that. I like to think I'm a fun gal when I'm not all angered up, using coarse language, and waving a (caulk) gun around. 

3. Plumbing

This week while caulk was gleaming and I was cussing, a drippy shower faucet became a running shower faucet, and the bathroom sink decided to join it because it was feeling left out. I learned that losing gallons of water down the drain every hour was not my idea of a fun way to waste money. I learned that my shower access panel was nailed shut. I learned there was no shut-off at the access. I learned that my main house shut-off valve is more of a completely non-functioning thing than I would care to have a valve which sole purpose is to SHUT OFF WATER TO THE ENTIRE HOUSE, thank you very much. I learned that having a good neighbor who is also a good plumber is a very good thing indeed. I learned very ominous things about galvanic corrosion, and how much I have of it in my house. I learned more about plumbing than I wanted to know. 

4. Mental Stability

While all these dramas were playing out the last two or three days, these arrived: 

Are they not beeeyooootiful? Don't you hear the angels sing? It was just enough excitement of the good kind to balance out all the homeowner angst about caulk and corrosion. I realize I'm placing new appliances under the heading "mental stability" and I don't mean to seem overdramatic or materialistic, but it suddenly made the week's troubles pale in comparison. Yes, their arrival made me feel better. I'm a happy woman when I have a good laundry space, a place to give my children a fresh start every week in the form of laundered skivvies and folded t-shirts. I also see them as proof of balance in the universe. I'm grateful for it, because that balance doesn't always happen when you want it or need it. This week was a little bad, a lot frustrating, a lot good. I'll take that perspective, and keep pushing on.

Do you ever have weeks (or months) when all your projects go a little haywire? A lot haywire? Or times when your chosen project gets sidetracked by unplanned ones that rear their ugly heads?

1 comment:

  1. Yay for new appliances and helpful neighbors! Boo hiss for painting and plumbing problems....