Essays

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Home improvement. What a phrase that is. Here I sit, tired and worn out after two days of trying to do a little upgrade to our house. Whew. I was, I have discovered, not made to be a painter. And what’s more, I don’t have the nerve to be an electrician, though today, I tried my hand at both of those things.

There are three phases when attempting to do an upgrade to your house. First, you decide on the concept. You picture it… complete, flawless, and stunning. Next, you shop for supplies. You wander around to 10 different stores looking for the right paint color, the right light fixtures, and just the right tools too put that paint on and affix those fixtures. Then… you’re ready… You think.

The man at Hippo Hardware, a really great first and second hand parts hardware store, said that we had everything we needed in the little baggie he handed us. It wasn’t exactly what we went in for, but it was what we came out with. Seems that they don’t just make ready made light fixtures like we needed. It wouldn’t be as easy as that. Noooooo. We had been to a couple of hardware stores before Hippo, always asking the same question, “You mean they don’t come like this?”. They didn’t. The man who’d had this house before us was quite the woodworker. He made all of these custom little wood details, all of which we loved, of course, when we bought the house. Trouble is, when you want to replace just part of something, you can never get the whole part. We didn’t know before Hippo Hardware, but we certainly knew it when we came out of there. So there we were, with our little baggie of parts, and the really nice men who were helping us said, “Oh, you’ll love doing this. You’ll want to do it all the time when you’re finished with this project.” We were not so certain. And… we were right. Ok, so what he didn’t tell us was that we had to figure out which wires attached to which parts of the socket, how the socket then fit into the fixture, and then we had to figure out how to feed the wires through a curvy piece of brass. A tip for all of you home improvement types out there… tweezers can be an invaluable tool when working on electrical projects.

Ok, so we made it through the electrical maze. And, we did it without raising our voices at each other. There were only a couple of seconds of a partial tense moment, but it passed as soon as the wire slipped through the little hole. We won’t know for sure until we put them up, but we think they’ll work. And if not, at least they look good.

After our electrical endeavors, we moved on to painting. The room isn’t that big. After all, it’s just a small bathroom. We got out our supplies… brushes of various sizes, a stir stick, a flat head screwdriver to open the can of paint, drop cloths, rags to wipe up errant spills, tape to put on the crown molding and around the doors, etc., old towels because it seems when you’re doing home improvement, of any kind, you need lots of old towels, a step stool, and a paint pad with handle. We finished, after only a few mishaps, in a couple of hours. During the process though, we realized it probably would’ve gone a lot faster with a roller. And besides that, we were trying to cover up old wallboard that still had the design of the wallpaper that had been covering it for years imbedded in it. Rolling paint on tends to cover that stuff up a bit better, in my vast painting experience… wait, I have to pause here to laugh. Whew… OK, got that out of my system. Anyway… my better half went to the store and bought a roller. We waited the appropriate amount of time to allow for proper drying and went in again, to apply the second coat. It took us about an hour. So… here’s another tip for all of you amateur painters out there… A paint roller can, possibly, cut your painting time in half.

All of this, in the last couple of days, plus… we also purchased a new bookcase, my better half stained it, and we put it in our family room.

Now… I am off to scrub some of this green paint off my elbow, which I somehow missed when I was washing up. I know I also have paint on my backside, because at one point I backed into a wall, and I also, most likely, have paint in my hair. No worries about that though, it comes out over time. At least, the white paint did, after a couple of weeks or so, from the time we did our last home improvement project. I’m sure, looking myself over later, I’ll have green, sage to be exact, in places I’m surprised about. It’s just a part of the adventure called home improvement.

It’s a good thing spring is just around the corner… lucky us, we’ve got some home improvement projects planned for our yard, flower beds, and walkways. I can’t wait….

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