Journal Entry: September 22, 2008

I have this To Do list that I made in Google Documents, and I use it to keep track of little projects I can take care of when I have a spot of free time and am feeling productive (or stuff we need around the house that I can pick up if we have a spot of free money, but that never really happens).

Anyway, the purpose is just for me to jot stuff down as it occurs to me, and I can browse through it from time to time and try to find something that sounds worth doing.

Last week, the “Writing” section kept catching my eye, and you probably saw the results here. I completed a bunch of writing chores last week, and it felt pretty rewarding.

Well, about six months ago I noticed the severely peeling paint on the wood siding above our garage, and it really got to me. It’s been in terrible shape ever since we bought the house, but it’s a relatively small portion of our facade, and high enough up that no one ever really pays it any attention, so it’s gone ignored for two and a half years. When I made up my To Do list, though, I went ahead and put “Scrape and paint exterior woodwork” on there, and ever since it’s been annoying the everloving bawhango out of me. Every time I pulled into the driveway, it irritated me. Every time I glanced through my To Do list, I wanted to mark it off. But the height of that was not only in an incredibly hot (and then abnormally rainy) summer, but also while my body was broken with all that back pain.

So, yeah, last Thursday I found out we would actually be home this weekend, and I checked the weather and found out it would be sunny and windy and dry (and not uncomfortably hot). Then again, I also mentioned here on Thursday that I was feeling sick. I’m not quite sure what happened with that.

Anyway, I moved my Regular Day Off to last Friday, and figured I would either spend the day in bed convalescing, or on a ladder scraping. I ended up doing the ladder.

AH hahaha! That was so worth all the setup.

Bah. No, really. On Thursday night I was still feeling under the weather, so I just watched a movie with T–, and maybe we played some Rock Band. Then I got up relatively early on Friday, felt relatively well, so I went outside to see what I could do. I had gotten a drill bit a while back that said it was for “stripping paint” which, it turns out, is not the same thing as “scraping and prepping a surface for painting.” I seriously damaged some of our exterior woodwork before I came to that conclusion though.

That left me using an old-fashioned metal scraper, and a Mouse power sander. I didn’t get around to the Mouse until Saturday, though.

See, to use the drill, I bit the bullet and got out our Really Long Extension Cord, and completely unwound it. Turned out, that was unnecessary (I could reach the peak of our roof with about a third of it), but I didn’t know that to begin with. So I got out on the ladder, worked on the woodwork until I realized I was doing more harm than good (and would have to scrap, which I hate), and then climbed down and decided to take a little break.

Already having the Really Long Extension Cord unfurled, I decided on a whim to grab the weed eater and edge our lawn for only the second time since we moved in. I ended up doing a pretty thorough job of it (and our drive looks nice now), but there was a lot of newly cut undergrowth all over the driveway at that point. I thought about going to borrow K–‘s leafblower, said something about it to T–, and she pointed out that we had a shopvac we’d bought years ago for a single project, and never used since.

So I vaccuumed my drive. Shut up! It worked really well.

And then at that point I was out of excuses to delay, so I dug out our scraped, got back up on the ladder, and finished the bottom half of the west facing. Only the bottom half, though, because my ladder was too short to do more. It was 5:00 by then, though, and I was supposed to watch AB while T– went to a crop, so I put my stuff away, showered, and called it done for the day.

K– and N– came over to keep me company for the evening, and we went to Mazzio’s for dinner and then came back to the house and watched Baby Mama (which is worth seeing twice, I can attest). Then we played Rock Band until 11-ish, at which point they had to go home, and I ended up playing guitar for another hour and a half until T– got home. It was after 2:00 when we finally went to bed.

Saturday, I had all day to work on the house so I had no intention of getting up early. I turned off the alarm clock before I went to bed, and just slept as long as I wanted to. When I got up, I threw on my work clothes and stumbled out into the living room and T– said, “Oh, I’m sorry! Did we wake you?” And I had no idea what she meant, so I assured her no, and went out to the garage to get started.

I started out mowing the lawn, because it needed it (and I had basically done everything I could on the woodwork without borrowing a taller ladder). Then when I got to the back yard, I couldn’t help noticing how terrible all the edges looked, so I dragged the Really Long Extension Cord back there, and spent a good hour really cleaning up the back yard (focusing mainly on the porch), including another half hour or so of vaccuuming the outdoors. Hey, I said to shut up about that!

Then I put my stuff away, and went inside to find out why T– hadn’t started pestering me about lunch plans yet, and learned that it was barely ten o’clock. I had gotten up at eight. I was horrified.

I showered, and then T– went to grab us some sandwiches and I watched AB. We played some, I made some phone calls to see if anybody wanted to help me work on the house (and learned that all my friends actually schedule productive activities for their weekends, too — who knew?), and made arrangements to swing by B– and E–‘s after lunch to grab a ladder.

When I got there, I kinda tarried. For one, it’s always fun to catch up. For another, I had a really miserable afternoon ahead of me. I did finally leave, though, and when I got home I set up the ladder, climbed up way too high, and finished the scraping. Then I got out the Mouse and sanded the whole surface, top to bottom, which took right around two hours. Meanwhile, T– ran up to Lowes for me and bought the paint — Killz as a primer, white for most of the siding, and a rich blue for the trim.

It was already dusk by the time I finished sanding, but I did a test coat of the primer in one of the lower areas, and it had me feeling pretty good about the project. I put my stuff away, went inside for dinner, and then played Rock Band with T– for a couple hours before watching SNL. It was nearly midnight before we went to bed.

Then I woke up at 7:30 Sunday morning so I could out and put up the primer before church. That was a miserable morning, I’ll tell you what. I was also sore all over from two full days of hard work, but I made myself climb the ladder again and again, and it took me just under two hours to get the entire area primed. Then I had to rush to get ready for church, and we went to worship while my base coat dried.

I kept falling asleep during church, and really dragging when we went to lunch at Subway with K– and N–, but I needed to get two coats of white on, then let it dry completely so I could tape it before I could do the coat of blue. So when I got home from church, instead of crawling into bed, I crawled back up the ladder and did a coat of white in about an hour and fifteen. I let it dry for half an hour, then went back up and did a second coat in just under an hour. At that point, the siding was looking pretty good.

Then I took my nap. I spent an hour and a half sprawled on the bed, then went back out and taped and painted — I didn’t have any room for a tray at the top of the ladder, so I would take the tape up, cover everything I could reach, then go back down for the tray and brush and go back up to paint. All this to do one six-inch-wide trim board, so I was only doing three or four feet in lenght from any given ladder position.

All told, taping and painting took about an hour and a half. Then D– showed up, newly back from Wichita, and asked if I wanted something for dinner. T– and AB were at Small Groups with K– and N– (and eating there), so I said, “Heck yes,” and he ran off to Taco Bell while I climbed back up and did the second coat. Since the tape was already up at that point, the second coat only took about half an hour, and that was significantly more time moving and reconfiguring the ladder than it was painting.

Once again, I finished my handiwork by the glow of our exterior lights, but I got it done and went in to enjoy my soft tacos (and a Diet Dr Pepper with more than a little bit of rum in it).

Before I finished eating T– and AB and K– and N– got back from Small Groups, and we started up the Cowboys / Packers game. It was another wild one, and after a slow start the Cowboys really tore up. That was a pretty pleasant way to end a pretty unpleasant weekend. I went to bed at eleven again, and was up by six this morning to get to work on time.


I did finally count it up, and every step in the process of painting required me to climb the ladder eighteen times. That’s eighteen times to scrape the peeling paint, eighteen times to sand, eighteen to prime, thirty-six to paint two coats of white, eighteen for taping and painting blue, and eighteen more for the second coat of blue. My legs are dying.

I have eighteen more, too. I’ve got to go up and take down the tape, when I get home from work today. I should probably go up with some white and do touch-up (where the blue dripped past the tape, or the ladder damaged the not-perfectly-dried white when I was moving it around), but I doubt I’ll have the energy. It’s so high up, and such a small area, I doubt anyone will care.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

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