M. Giant's
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006  

Baking and Painting

I've written before about Trash's annual Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza with Blaine. It's a veritable explosion of domestic industry, producing treats in greater numbers and variety than should be possible from a residential kitchen in one weekend. It's an unstoppable juggernaut, and you stand in its way at your peril.

So it was a good thing that all the painting we had to do this weekend was taking place on an entirely different floor.

The mudding, taping and sanding was supposed to be finished in time for us to get all the painting upstairs finished the weekend before last. We even had CorpKitten in from out of town to help us out. And I suppose we could have painted anyway, if we hadn't minded our walls looking like relief maps under the satin latex for the next however many years. So we put it off until this weekend. Which happened to be this year's baking weekend, which couldn't be put off, because hey, look at the date at the top of this entry.

The whole upstairs was supposed to be prepped to paint by this past weekend, but you know how that goes. Maybe it was for the best that only our two bedrooms were completely sanded and ready to go.

After I got home from my sister DeBitch the Elder's surprise birthday party on Friday night, Trash and I went upstairs to try to clean up some of the dust. And you don't know dust until you've dealt with joint compound dust. The magic of joint compound is that you can sand it until it's as smooth as glass. The downer of joint compound is that all that sanding scrapes it off in, like, individual atoms that then float around for hours until they settle on every available surface, including ceilings, until I go upstairs and kick it all back into the atmosphere from whence it then goes into my lungs and kills me.

I wasn’t about to breathe weaponized drywall compound without protection, so I swallowed my doubts and “borrowed” one of the dust masks that the guy had left behind. “Hey, where’d you get that mask?” Trash asked. I answered both this question and the implied “Why didn’t you get me one, too?” by saying the guy had left it behind after apparently using it that day. She kind of lost interest in it after that. Too bad, because she still had gypsum-breath two days later.

So here’s how you clean up plaster dust. First you sweep the walls and the ceiling. Then you sweep the floors. Then you sweep the piles into several dustpan-loads, 75% of which you dump into some makeshift trash receptacle while the other 25% billows back out into the room and coats the walls and floor again. Repeat until dead, either of asphyxiation or old age.

We couldn’t even vacuum Friday night, because the kid was asleep downstairs and my 90s-vintage shop-vac is louder than a NASCAR race at which the PA is broadcasting the output of a megaphone that’s being held up to a jet engine that contains the Who. After ten minutes, both of our glasses looked like we’d just come in from the cold and we decided, “Screw it, we’ll start tomorrow.”

So Saturday comes. Where do you put a two-year old on a day like this? Upstairs, surrounded by open cans and pans of paint and irresistibly sticky and colorful brushes and rollers? The main floor, where he just has to find out for himself why everyone seems so very interested in the oven today? Or the basement, with several thousand gross of fresh-baked cookies? Hey,. How about my parents’ house? There’s a plan. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Also, thanks for the giant tureen of tasty wild rice soup that kept everybody fed all day. Big hit, that.

The whole weekend was a veritable laundry-mangle of activity, with people going in and out. In addition to Trash and Blaine in the kitchen, they had Bitter, Trash’s sister Lisa, and my almost five-year-old niece Deniece. In addition to me and Blaine’s S.O. Batman upstairs painting, we had Zen Viking, Deniece’s dad in the early afternoon, Deniece’s mom in the late afternoon, and Deniece again (she’s very energetic). We also had visits from at least three of Trash’s former coworkers (and one of their S.O.s) on Sunday, helping out with M. Small after he came home from his G-rents'.

We couldn’t have done it without any of them, but at the end of the weekend we had two completely painted bedrooms upstairs and 35 different kinds of cookies all binned up. I don't even know how many containers they made. If you’re reading this, you’re probably getting cookies, is what I’m saying.

The drywall dude said he would be back to finish on Monday, but he was only half right. We got home and went upstairs to find great, heaping drifts of plaster dust, with streamers of the stuff blowing off the peaks like in an Antarctica movie. Obviously no painting was going to happen that night. But then on Tuesday the guy had not only finished, but cleaned up, to an extent. All his stuff was gone (including, regrettably, the work light we’ve been using) and there were fresh broom tracks in the sediment on the floor. Any piles had been discreetly disposed of. Judging from the air quality, he’d been gone for hours.

So I did some vacuuming and sweeping and commenced to slapping primer up on the walls of the new bathroom. After M. Small went to bed, Trash came up and helped me in the hallway until we ran out of primer. Tonight I put the first coat of paint on the bathroom ceiling, and then I primed more of the hallway while Trash did the nightmare of close quarters and acute angles that is M. Small's new playroom. She didn't get much paint in her hair, and it's not like we have to go to work until eight tomorrow morning.

All this rush is so that we can have all the painting finished by the time the crew comes back next Monday to do the floors. They're telling us that it should be ready to move into by next Friday. Yes, the last business day before Christmas. Just in time.

It's been a long, occasionally frustrating process, but it's going to be all worth it. Heck, it was almost all worth it last night when M. Small came upstairs, stood in the middle of his future bedroom (with its walls painted two shades of his favorite color, blue) and spun around on the bare, dusty particle-board floor with his arms spread wide, announcing, "This is my…BEDROOM!"

"Do you love your new bedroom?" I asked.

"Yeah," he declared, and dashed over to tour his new closet.

Anyway, it's coming together. I'd put up pictures for you but I'm too tired right now.

posted by M. Giant 10:13 PM 2 comments


I'll be watching the mailbox for my cookies! Are they covered in a fine film of dust, too? Mmmmm....yummy!

By Blogger shallahb, at December 14, 2006 at 6:52 AM  

Our house is 53 years old, and the walls have lots of cracks from the inevitable settling of the foundation in the clay soil we have here. I've patched them once already but some have reappeared. What has kept me from doing it again is all of that nasty dust from the joint compound. We coughed that stuff up for days. My father bought some thingamajig that uses a vacuum to suck the dust from the sanding into a vat of water, thereby (supposedly) rendering the experience dust-free. I am hopeful, but skeptical... Glad to hear your remodeling is coming to an end finally--congratulations to M. Small on his new digs!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 14, 2006 at 6:53 AM  

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