What's Not to Laugh?

Almost everything about aging–except grave illness and death–can be funny as well as disturbing. I try to find the funny and help us all get through it!

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

So much stuff, so little time

As I lamented in my last post, choosing new colors for your interior walls is hard. But that’s nothing compared to the two cruelties of preparing the house for painting and living in the house while it’s being painted.

First, about the prep. (When I see that word, I instinctively think: colonoscopy; that’s a topic for another post—or never.)

When you have numerous paintings hanging on the walls and probably too many ceramic pieces, among other decorative items, it means you have to spend hours (days?) putting them somewhere else. When practically your whole house is being painted, “somewhere else” isn’t easy to find. Fortunately, we have a finished basement whose paint job is relatively new, so that area wasn’t part of this project. We brought all the artwork downstairs.

Then there was the master closet. My husband and I share a fairly large closet, but both sides were pretty full of all sorts of clothing and shoes (and in my case purses). Both of us also have spill-over in other bedroom closets. Really…who needs all those clothes? And lest you think we’re clothes hoarders, we have made several treks to Goodwill over the past few years. But as I made trip after trip down two flights of stairs carrying hangers full of blouses, pants, jackets… I wondered why I was holding onto things that I liked but that (a) were not flattering or (b) didn’t fit anymore.

And the shoes. If I had determined that a certain pair of shoes hurt when I walked in them—or even stood for a while—why was I keeping them? If every time I had reached for an old pair of sandals I took them off because they looked “dorky,” why were they still on the shoe rack? I filled up the closet in the basement and then started laying piles of clothes on the floor, next to the artwork. I must have put one too many items on that closet rod because it suddenly crashed to the floor, along with my clothes and the brackets. My wonderful husband good-naturedly re-installed the rod, although he was exhausted from his portion of the prep (about ten times my efforts) and suffering from a cold. His only admonishment to me when he finished was a gentle, “Take it easy this time, okay?”

After every item was out of the master closet, the Elfa shelving and drawers had to be removed, and stored somewhere. Somewhere was the second bedroom, which is my husband’s office and was not being painted. It got to the point that you could enter that room only at your own risk.

On Monday, the painting began on the second floor. We realized when the painters were through for the day that we would not be able to sleep in our bed. Not only was it under a plastic dropcloth in the center of the room, but the paint smell was pretty strong. I thanked goodness we had built a bedroom in the basement, and we moved our essentials downstairs.

Have you ever spent a night or two in your own guest quarters? It brings home what you need to improve about the space. I learned that it’s impossible to read by the lamp on the bedside table because it was too low. I learned that the mattress on the bed wasn’t as comfortable to sleep on as we thought it was when we sprawled across it in the showroom. I learned that if you turned on the water in the bathroom sink too quickly, you ended up with puddles on the back of the vanity. And I learned that it wasn’t easy to sleep through the night when the nearby furnace turned on and off very noisily. But we spent two nights down there and lived (quite nicely) to tell about it.

When the upstairs rooms were done, we moved back in and started to reassemble our closet. I sorted through my clothing and was very honest with myself about what I really intended to wear again. The result will fill up three Goodwill boxes. Soon I’ll have to go through my bookshelves and ask myself if I’m ever going to re-read the novels I’m storing or if I’m ever going to read for the first time some of the books I bought at charity sales and now have no interest in opening.

But we’re done. We have a beautiful, sparkling clean, and colorful home—just in time for Thanksgiving. My family won’t mind that none of the pictures are back up on the walls yet. And if anyone dares to say anything, I can always hand them a hammer and nails and point out where I want them to start.

Have a happy holiday!


Color me blue or gold or taupe…or confused

Have you had your interior walls painted lately? Have you decided it was time to put some color into your décor besides bright throw pillows and muti-hued tchotchkes? Maybe you found selecting the right colors easy. Maybe you have a natural talent for differentiating what will look amazing from what will cause you to weep every time you enter the room.

First, understand that I’m married to a graphic designer/artist. He knows color. But his fear of my unhappiness keeps him from being decisive about a palette that would look fabulous on the first floor’s outer walls, inner walls, and moldings. Then there are the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs. Decisions, decisions.

Our painter gave us a Sherwin Williams color strip book. We quickly zoned in on a few colors that, when held up against our fireplace tile, our sofas, our kitchen cabinets, and whatever else it might surround, looked great.

At our age, we know better than to just pick colors from the book and give the painter the okay to buy the paint. So we bought small samples of these selections to see how they look on our walls as actual paint, not little paper chips.

I came home from work the other day to find that my diligent spouse had put swatches of paint on several walls. The color we sampled for the first floor walls (Versatile Gray)looked awful in our living room. Instead of the nice warm taupe we thought we liked, it was a gloomy gray. And since depression season (better known as winter) is almost here, this color would require at least five 10,000-lumen SAD lights to keep a smile on my face.

Then I went upstairs to see how “Rainwashed” looked on the master bedroom and bath walls. “It’s powder blue!” I yelled, not too kindly.  “It’s green, just like you wanted,” was his reply. (I don’t care what the artist thinks. It looks like blue to me, and I don’t like it.)

So we went back to the color strip book (and did you ever try to gracefully manipulate the rest of those skinny pages in one hand while holding the strip of choice up to the wall?). This time I chose Ivoire for the main walls, Blonde as an accent color. For the bedrooms, I chose Sea Salt. Not quite as blue, not quite as dark, and much more soothing. My husband went back to the paint store and bought the new samples.

I liked all the second set of colors, even though I was getting a little bleary-eyed squinting and imagining them coloring whole rooms. But the two colors (main and accent) that were supposed to be next to each other on certain walls looked awful together. At least that’s what my daughter and son-in-law told us. In fact, son-in-law said, somewhat lovingly, “That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.” I doubt that, but I got his point. Looking at the two colors together with the curtains open and sunlight streaming in, I had to agree. So, back to the drawing board (a.k.a. color strip book).

We had made the mistake of choosing two colors next to each other on one strip. Even our painter had told us this was a no-no. We went one down for the accent walls (Restrained Gold) and, for extra insurance, decided we wouldn’t have the two colors meet on any walls. At last, a plan!

On Thursday, we emailed our color choices, indicated on a copy of our floor plan, to the painter. He’s starting on Monday, so this is our final decision. But still, I was awake last night wondering if I’d be able to find bed linens and towels that complemented Sea Salt. And this morning, with the first light of day beaming into our family room and kitchen, I looked at the sample of Restrained Gold on the accent wall and thought, “Can I really live, day in and day out, with that color?” 

We won’t know until it’s over, and then, we’ll get used to it or make the best of it or save up for repainting or, and this is most important, quit our bellyaching about small stuff and think about how grateful we are to live in the midwest, where “Nor’easter” is a foreign word.

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