Painting the Front Porch

I am not one of those people who segregates work based on chromosomes and X’s and Y’s.  If a job needs to be done, then let’s get it done.  But when it involves tools more complex than my hammer, screw driver, or socket wrench, I’m generally at a bit of a loss.  I’m willing to learn.  But my teacher needs to realize/understand that I am not always the fastest of learners.  In addition, I am horribly directionally challenged.

“Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” is a frustrating thing for me.  Because in my stupid brain, I can turn my screwdriver left and be convinced that I’m tightening the screw.  I’m serious.  Pat tells me all the time to imagine looking down from above so I can see the direction I’m turning.

That doesn’t help.

Our front porch was neglected for years.  I can give you the long list of excuses and justifications, but most of them are complete and utter bogus because, in the end, I had plenty of time and could have done the work.  But I didn’t because I was afraid.

Afraid you might ask?

Of spiders under the deck?

Nope.

Snakes?

Nope.

Closed in spaces, the dark, falling, getting hurt?

Nope, nope, and nope.

I was afraid of making a mistake and screwing (no pun intended) everything up.

I hate failure.  I hate the look of sick disappointment on a person’s face when they see the mistakes I made and I can hear their thoughts:  You had one job…. or How in the world did you screw up such a simple job?  or How did you do this?  That is never supposed to happen.

Well, if a screw-up (no pun intended, really) does happen, it’s because I am a jinx who is Murphy’s daughter.

So, anyhow, back to the front porch….

It was neglected.  Pat replaced all the wood.  The wood hasn’t been sealed and will rot if we don’t seal it.  Last week, we were going to seal it. But we kept on getting rain and then we did this weird thing called celebrating out anniversary which precluded us from taking care of the would-be-neglected deck if we didn’t plan on sealing it today.

I promised Pat and I would help him today.  He was off work.  I have a few more days of summer vacation.  Whee!  Front porch family time!  And then, life happened once more.  On Monday, Pat was diagnosed with a lovely case of shingles.  Tuesday, our son had braces put on his teeth.  Today, our daughter went to the beach with friends.

Front porch still needed to be cared for.  So, I grab the sander and got to work.

I roughly know how to use a sander.  It’s a pretty straight-forward piece of equipment.  I was told that I should “go slow” but “be thorough” and that I wouldn’t have to sand for more than “30 minutes.”  Ummm…90 minutes later, I finished the first section of sanding, about 40% of the porch, and I had yet to start painting.

Did I mention that I am a slow worker, but I do my best to try and get the job done to the best of my ability? Of course, when my ability is pretty negligible because I don’t use tools other than the three mentioned earlier, than my pace is uber slow.

Pat even wondered about my speed (no, he wasn’t being a jerk) and I showed him how I was carefully going over everything and being slow and thorough.  I don’t know if he was impressed, but he at least complimented me on the porch.  Score.

After lunch, the Boy and I went outside to start cleaning the porch and then begin painting.  While the Boy swept away the dust, I started prepping the paint and the sprayer.

That’s when the problem arose.

The sprayer had something about thinning the paint and how I should add water but then it started talking about seconds in ratio to the type of paint being used.  Okay.  I get water.  Makes sense.  But what the heck is the stuff about seconds?  So, I go and talk to Pat…who is  grumpy because his body is hurting and nothing can be done to truly ease his misery.

“What do the directions say?” he asks (sarcastically in my humble opinion).

I read the directions from the sprayer.

“No, what do the directions say?” he asks, indicating the paint can.

Now, if I am trying to use the sprayer, why am I going to read the directions on the paint can?  By the way, I had already read the paint can because I needed to determine the type of paint I was going to use so I could see the water to seconds to paint ratio (what is it with those stupid seconds?).

First of all, the paint type on the can is not latex or stain or bug killer (yup, that was listed on the sprayer instructions).  It was a sealant with a something else.  And the directions on the can had nothing to do with a sprayer.

So, the sprayer that was going to save me all this time was put to the side and I dug out the brushes and the roller and prepared for a longer afternoon than what I was expecting.

Open the paint and it looks like someone poured rubber cement on top of paint.  Oh God.  Stir.  Stir.  Stir.  Stir.  Pop some shoulder muscles because the stirring is a lot harder than I was expecting.

Pour the stuff that has finally stirred and coagulated into some form of “white paint” and I have this viscous pudding in a paint tray.  Dip the brush.  Swipe it across the sanded decking.  And I swear I was painting with Elmer’s School Glue that had some thickening agent added to it.

I was supposed to put down two coats of this stuff.  Pat swore it was going to be white.

Guess what.  It didn’t dry white.  It dried clear.  So I applied a bit more.  And that dried clear too.  Plus, it felt like it had dried into sand paper.  Because the Boy who was cleaning up the dust didn’t quite clean it up well enough.  Or, there was some really weird grit in the paint (which Pat said might just be there but I think he’s nuts).

Back to Pat, more questions….answers that didn’t really answer my questions and made me realize that maybe I just need to trust my instincts a little more…because, sure enough, he eventually came outside to check on everything and realized that I had barely moved.  Because painting with thick glue is not easy.

Eventually, he picked up a brush and started trying to paint.  And, shockingly enough, the first thing he said was, “This stuff really is thick!”

Yup.  You’re right, beloved.

I had asked him if thought I should go over the boards with a wet rag because it was clear that sweeping was not working.  “Nope,” he said.  Later, he admitted that maybe I had a good idea.

Okay…so for the next three hours, we worked.  All three of us were on our sections of the porch sanding or painting.  I got jabbed in the butt by my azalea bush so I took revenge and cut back the offending branches.  Pat, bless him, laid on his belly where he currently is breaking out with his shingles rash, and painted and painted and painted some more.

And, by the end, I took just another step in my choice to strip away all the silly insecurities that I have lived with for too many years.  I created my own logical progression for completing the work and refused to be stymied by my anxiety with using a tool I hadn’t used in almost a decade.  In addition, I decided that being worried about failure and disappointing someone was more stupid than any mistake I might make.

I’m not perfect and will never aspire to perfection.  But I know that I can at least get over the silliness which has held me back over the years.  And even if it is nothing more than painting my front porch (I still have to put another coat on the 40% that is done….and then two-coat the other 60%….this is going to take forever), then I will love sitting on my porch swing on the front porch by the end of next week.  I am not afraid.  I have no reason to be.

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