Dave said we needed to repaint the house two years ago, and planned to do it last summer, so this summer he really meant it. He’d been worrying about it ever since the paint dried fourteen years ago; he got agitated if I planted something too close to the house that would just need to be trimmed back later. He is a pre-emptive fretter anyway, believing that early worrying gets you in shape for massive anxiety down the road, and so he was well-prepared for a personal breakdown by the time he got the ball rolling. He set up an impressive array of scaffolding to contend with our tower, all by himself, because he is a fit and strong sixty-year-old man with a hell of a work ethic. Unfortunately a strong sixty-year-old is still weaker than a strong 46-year-old, and that fact coupled with the weight of all the responsibility that he takes on led him to approach the job like a man walking to the gallows. He was deeply unhappy. And I know what that leads to. That leads to me being deeply unhappy.
Then a friend listened to Dave’s concerns and said: “you know, that’s what money is for.” A light went on for Dave. For the first time it occurred to him that he needn’t be responsible for everything that got done in the house. He hired the job out. Within a week the painting fairies showed up in profusion. They made themselves at home, even peeing behind the shed just like Dave used to before the raccoon incident. They crawled all over the house with scrapers and sprayers and a boom box set on Country 98.7, and within days things were shining up and I realized I could probably write a hit country-western song every day before breakfast, and twice on Sundays.
I am immensely proud of Dave. This took a complete change of perspective and humans are not wired for that. He had to change from a man who takes care of everything, particularly me, to one who is willing to relinquish control. He also had to veer away from the idea that this was evidence of his own deterioration, and he did. “I’m painting my house!” he exclaimed, while pulling up crab rings on Nehalem Bay. “I’m painting my house!” he exulted, hiking among wildflowers on Silver Star Mountain. He was painting his house, and he was providing local jobs, miraculously without receiving a tax cut first.
The emotional transformation did not go without a hitch. While home, he peered at the progress overmuch, noticing a bit of overspray here, a lack of industry there. I tried to demonstrate serenity by my reactions to the tromping of my garden. The fothergilla I’d been nursing for years was stomped at its roots. “It wasn’t doing too well there anyway,” I said. The whole south side was draped in plastic on a hot day, instantly frying all the foliage. “I meant to re-do that part of the garden anyway,” I said.
This is something I’m pretty good at. When things go sideways, I adjust my attitude. It comes naturally. I have a strong aversion to despair, and I will totally make shit up if I have to. If my sandwich falls jelly-side down, I figure I’m gaining some fiber. If I have something amputated, I’ll say I dropped a few pounds. I can even look at the state of the world and note that at least it’s good for the handbasket industry.
Then I came home to find the offending killer plastic stretched over my boxwood topiary salamander and blew a gasket. This was an outrage. This was a cocker spaniel puppy locked in a car on a hot day. This would not stand.
I guess it’s not the worst thing, after all, that Dave still cares how well something gets done, even if he doesn’t do it himself. I guess I need to look at the big picture, too. Dave no longer feels compelled to take responsibility for everything that happens in the house. And that’s a good thing. As long as this philosophy doesn’t extend to cooking, that’s a good thing.
Love it. Did Dave's cosmic shift in attitude require medication? If so, send some this way. Attitude shifts needed desperately. And I grieve for your salamander. A thing of beauty which hopefully will recover.
My favorite line: "just like Dave used to before the raccoon incident." Just right, evoking a vivid image without hitting me over the head with it. Thanks for brightening my morning!
Oh…that poor salamander. Can it be saved? When we had our house painted a few years ago, I feared for the health of a large rhododendron that had to be pulled back and tied down during the process. The damned thing has since taken over the back corner of the lot—I think it established a whole new set of roots where it touched the ground for three days.
Great pictures of Dave painting his house amongst the flowers! I also hope your beautiful salamander will survive the damage! And hopefully you won't be needing to lose a few pounds any time soon. 🙂
Oh Yes, the state of the world and the handbasket industry. Reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw: "Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?"
Looks like a nice hike on that mountain meadow. But, what goes on in that tower?
I do hope Dave peed on a raccoon. They are nasty,disease-bearing, vermin-infested thugs!
The salamander will heal. The guys could, with justification, claim they thought salamanders were heat-proof.
As someone pointed out to me when I broke my wrist moving furniture, "It would have been a lot cheaper to hire someone young to do that for you." Wise choice, Dave!!
Oh, I am sorry about the topiary salamander, and I hope it heals up quick. But you know, this is the best epithalamion since Spenser.
That's just what I was going for, there, the best epithalamion since Spenser. If you'll excuse me, I need to go look something up. Didn't I spray that on my aphids?
Ah, good for Dave. With that attitude, retirement should go well.
Oh, right on!
For the file on this subject, something I said to my handy guy when he was working on a particularly impossible kitchen thing: "I'm really glad you are doing this, because I am completely capable of forgiving you if you screw it up, but if I screwed it up, I would never forgive myself."
Bully for Dave. But double gold star to you for not losing your sanity in the c&w onslaught.(And please don't write a hit-song-everyday-and-twice-fer-gawd's-sake-on-Sunday!)
(OK, technically a wedding song. But I meant a celebration of married love.)
Well the house looks faboo. But oh your poor salamander…I would have had a meltdown about that too. In fact, I think you're handling it much better than I ever could have. There might have been blood spilled.
I wish these little comments had the thumbs up icon after them. Sometimes I just need to say, "Yes!"
That salamander was fried in about fifteen minutes. It didn't take long at all. Of course amphibians do not care for heat.
Well, maybe toads.
Rose from Chrysalis says:
I do so enjoy your articles!
If I had money, I would definitely pay someone to do the repairs on my home–taking out carpet in one room and putting in the laminate wood flooring that has been in the garage for 6 years; fix the hole in the wall hidden by a buffet in the dining room where husband fell; paint the house inside where son "helped" to clean dirty spots using a Mr Clean sponge (never use on walls!); fix the 3 dining chairs husband fell on and broke; replace broken kitchen tiles on counter top and on tiles fireplace…list grows each day. No money, no repairs. Maybe one day….but I definitely believe in paying those who know what to do!
It looks like the guy up that terribly long ladder is one of the hired guys so then I started wondering if they even used Dave's scaffolding. I should think it wouldn't be too difficult to change one's attitude when it comes to painting a 2-story house. I guess 3-stories with the tower. Hiking is much better for the soul.
I persuaded my husband to hire someone to spend the morning pruning our trees. It's just too scary watching him climbing the trunk in his lineman's boots, attaching himself to the tree by a belt, and wielding the chain saw. Which he did last year.
Now, though, he's 68. Perhaps he's thinking about safety, real safety – as in someone else doing it.
Why do they do contractors stomp all over everything. I never know whether to groan or cheer when Cowboy Fan hires a project out. I'm thrilled to have chores that have been waiting 3 years to be finished, but dread the collateral damage. Perhaps your new salamander can now have it's well-deserved crown.
Ah, nothing like country music whistling in the morning… Is it done?
Ohhhhh the salamander topiary. It defies understanding that anyone could drape plastic over a living plant on a hot day and not know that terrific heat builds up instantly, frying said plant. Better to splatter paint all over it, for crying out loud. I'm flashing back to the moronic deck sealing guy who power-washed the deck with a bleach solution, and despite my explicit warning to tarp and protect the little Japanese maple beneath, washed that, too, killing it in a day. "Oh, a little bleach won't hurt it," he said, and I wanted to spray HIM with undiluted bleach. We are currently talking about getting our tower painted, at least the scary parts, and I am sending this link to a certain would-be scaffold-builder.
My dwarf boxwoods are not carved into anything other than puffballs, and they have come back from some pretty terrible holes and yellowings. Prayers for yours. And a big !@##$@#$%#$%#$%#!!!! to those painters and their damn country music.
Uh. Yeah. What Zick said.
Yes, changing one's spots is not an easy thing. Shame it had to lead to workmen, who I despise universally. Still. Job done!
And thank you for your photo, I just used it in a blog post!
Abdicating 'manliness' for 'common senseness' actually works.
What a fun blog! So glad you stopped by my BBQ so I could find you. I love how he kept saying "I'm painting my house!" while out hiking and having fun. "That's what money is for" LOL. Great post, looking forward to more!
Oh, I'm still laughing…sort of. This was pretty close to home. Being a control type person, I can so relate. I must work on my atttitude.
I'm popping in from the BBQ – and I'm stayin' for a while!
So great your hubby was able to change his perspective and now the house is painted (beautiful home btw!) Nice to 'meet' you! New follower here from KarenG's BBQ
Now I think he's just made a huge leap and a wise one. Love the colour! Who cooks at you place??
Never…NEVER…would have guessed, when I started reading this post, that they'd screw up the salamander. That's not right. Hell, that's not even wrong!
popping over from karen's bbq… hope im not too late! brought some JD and steak! great blog–following!
PS: i would not go up on that ladder! lol
Hi Murr .. thanks for calling in to meet up for the BBQ – no worries re the bag of crisps – I can see you're busy!
Dave sounds like one special hubby – especially as he's featuring rather often .. ?! Lice too .. and cleanliness before godliness I see!
Hope you had a good Labour Day yesterday .. cheers Hilary
Good for your hubby . . . and good for YOU! Isn't it wonderfully liberating to realize it's perfectly okay to hire someone to do the jobs we've always done ourselves? Getting old isn't for sissies, but letting go of some of the responsibilities of youth is awesome!
Thanks for visiting my blog, dear lady. Nice to meetcha through Karen's BBQ. Please count me in as your newest follower.
If it were (was?) me you were referring to, I think I actually said, "That's why God invented money!"
I'm having trouble relinquishing my home handyman roll as well. I hired a guy to run a gas line to the new range after I pondered my 62 y/o body under the house trying to wrangle 10' lengths of pipe.
The new house has two stories for the first time in my life – picturing how much safety equipment I would need and having sold my parachute several years back, I hired a guy to put in two roof vents.
I didn't even have to deliberate about hiring a guy to come in and cut the granite counter top.
But I did take on changing the old toilet seat. I just need to keep my hand in the game while I can.
Some things my husband still tackles, but I'm happy when he hires someone else!
I'll never forget the first time I figured out the implications of that saying 'Time is money', and that you could actually pay to get things done well instead of honorably mucking them up yourself, ostensibly for free. Kudos to your mate for going along with this. And I am in awe of your topiary salamander.
I used to be able to do everything around the house…in Canada. Here we hire everything done. Cheaper and better. Loved "I'm painting the house". Right on, Dave!