This old house painter

If you ever want to see how your body changes over time, just paint your house every eight years or so.

I started painting houses in my teens. I went on to work for two summers with College Pro, though it was after college and we weren’t very pro, trust me.

Those were fearless days of climbing and dangling, though at one point, hanging off the rungs of a ladder and stretching a dripping brush into empty air in attempt to reach some obscure bit of soffit or nesbit or shlebit or whatever technical name you call an architectural doodad that no one sees anyway, I remember thinking, “I’m not paid enough for this shlebit.”

Since becoming a homeowner 20 years ago, we have painted our house twice, though the first time took us three years. Those were busy times. Busy and incredibly lazy.

To be fair, that third year was the garage, which we probably could have completed in year two, but the reasoning went something like this: “Hooray! We finally finished the house! Job well done! Now we don’t have to paint again unti-… Oh…” It’s hard to paint when you’ve lost the will to live.

This time around, our goal is to get it all done before school starts. We are delusional, yes, but ever optimistic. We are also already behind.

This may have to do with the fact that I am nearly a decade older than when I painted last. I can still scamper up ladders, no problem, but every bend or stretch is accompanied by a loud “URRUGGH!”

I’m also slightly more cautious, knowing that if I fell, I would shatter into a thousand pieces. I use more protection as well, gloves and masks, especially after I scraped at some orange mould clinging to the underside of the frobisher (or whatever) and watched a million spores drift into the atmosphere and probably my lungs, so it was nice knowing you.

And the scraping tends to continue for hours afterwards, namely the scraping of my joints.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the stupid house is acting like a metaphor: the sagging, the cracking, the soft wood. The house has odd mould, I have odd moles.

“We should move,” Deb says from time to time. She’s probably right. But when I think of buying and selling, the negotiating, the paperwork, not to mention packing and unpacking, I’d rather paint a hundred garages.

Besides, could we really sell this place? Especially after the potential buyer noticed the supporting wooden beam in our basement that a series of cats have been clawing with clear intentions of bringing the damn house down, and given another 40 to 60 years, they will.

There are times when I despair of this old house of ours, just like I despair of this old body.

But then I get up on the roof.

I’m not talking about the top roof of the house. That place is steep and terrifying. I’ve been up there only once, when we needed some work done on our chimney, and the repairman wanted to show me the damage to the fladangle (or whatever; I wasn’t paying attention because death was imminent).

I mean the porch roof. I love getting up on our porch roofs, front and back. It’s not the same as being up on the ladder, where most of the time I’m facing the wall. On the roof, with the surface slanted just enough to throw you off-kilter, just 15 feet up, you’re free standing. You get a new perspective on the neighbourhood. It’s the same view as looking out your second-storey window, sure, but more panoramic, no interior spaces in your periphery. You’re eye-level with the branches. You’re outside. On a roof. You’re outside on a roof! Look at your lawn. Look at the way the driveway greets the street. Look at your neighbour getting dressed.

No, no, that never happened. But people do walk by and they don’t see you on your porch roof, because why would they look up there? They pass by while you stand there, arms akimbo, vigorous, strong, impervious to time, age and cats. King of the house.

It’s at those moments, up on a roof, when the years don’t seem to matter. I feel solid and safe up there, happy in my home and in a life that lets me do and enjoy these silly, small moments.

I can’t stay up there too long, though. It hurts my feet.

Is that a scraper in your hand or...

Is that a scraper in your hand or…

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in It Really Did Happen! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to This old house painter

  1. Nice blog, though I am going to have that Shakin’ Stevens tune in my head for the rest of the day 🙂

  2. ksbeth says:

    and i love the upskirt photo to go along with this post

  3. Paul says:

    Ahhh, youth is wasted on the young. ha! I’ve noticed recently that the young, as I too did, take their physical fitness for granted. When I can get up off the toilet without my knees aching, I’m having a good day. ha! I’m afraid that painting is not a possibility any more. I applaud your voyage to the porch roofs Ross. You are a brave man. I live in an area not far from a university and I watch the young students commuting on skate boards – they might as well be using space ships for all I am able to do.

  4. Ned's Blog says:

    It’s good that you went with blue. It hides the crags and signs of aging. On the house I mean.

  5. Can I get a bid on painting my house? I think my wife expects me to paint our house next summer, I’m already trying to figure out how to avoid it since I am afraid I will also fall and break into a thousand pieces. I’m also too cheap to hire a professional painter. I’ll set up a tent in the backyard and you can pretend you are vacationing on the west coast. (I’m betting this offer is really appealing.)

  6. Well, holy shlebit, this was funny as hell.

  7. “the first time took us three year”

    Deer, moose, sheep, fish, salmon, trout…I think you see where I’m going with this, and it’s not to a delicatessen.

    “impervious to time, age and cats”

    Good luck with that, cats get nine game pieces in Monopoly.

    While you peer down your nose and roof at humanity, remember that we can see right up the crotch of your fashion secrets. Might wanna give all the seams on those “work pants” the once over before slipping them over the red thong. Facebook is forever.

  8. Besides, oh, Rickety One, don’t you have offspring? In the immortal words of Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond: “What’s the point of having a dwarf if he doesn’t do chores?”

  9. Sheila Moss says:

    Oh, you can paint and still write? I’m impressed… Not by your writing but by the fact you can still move and use a keyboard. I would have to stay in bed for a week.. or a month. I thought you were painting the inside until I got to the roof part. The outside? Wow!! You saved yourself about $5000. Does that make your sore muscles feel better?

  10. gavinkeenan says:

    Paint one side per year. Research shows that for the average four sided home, the project will be completed in just four years……………….Then you start all over again. Or as an alternative, you paint two sides every other year, leaving time in the off years for more enjoyable activities like re-sealing the driveway, pumping out the septic tank or weeding the walkway. Or just forget the whole thing and sink into the morass of indifference and sloth. Whatever path you chose…….,follow your muse to the end of time.

  11. Elyse says:

    My body hurts just reading this. Or maybe it hurts because I’m listening to the painters in the next room. My husband has decided to retire and we’re going to sell our house in the fall. God help us all.

  12. pinklightsabre says:

    Killer post. Great pacing and all that, the shlebits too. The photo, the angle of the brush, that’s a bit sophomoric innit (you weasle)? I’m not surprised, but I am delighted. Bill

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Absolutely childish. And why not, given the theme. I’m disappointed no one picked up on the “soft wood” reference. My first erectile dysfunction joke. I regret nothing.

  13. I like the superhero pose. So…sooooo… so very Ross. Nothing rejuvenates like a fresh paint job. Admit it, when you’re done you stand back in deep admiration, don’t you?

    I had fladangle damage, too. But I took his word for it.

  14. calahan says:

    I just want make sure that what you’re using is paint. Does the can say lacquer? If so,… Never mind.

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