It’s autumn, and once again I am watching men try to keep our house from disintegrating. Windowsills are spongy and members of the fungal dry-rot community are bullish and gearing up for what they believe will be another stellar season. Not much is required of me; in fact, the process puts me in a meditative state. I just stand by and watch, periodically flipping over a hundred-dollar bill from a stack.
This October, as the sun slid closer to the southern horizon, I got the bright notion that I could spend a portion of our last sunny days being proactive. I’m hoping to put off house-painting for another few years. The porch railings and posts have lost paint here and there and look a little poxed. It wouldn’t be a big deal to sand them up and throw a little primer on and caulk and repaint before it starts raining for the next eight months. Maybe I’ll have a look at some of the 115-year-old windowsills while I’m at it. That’s what a responsible adult would do. I‘m not one of those, but I got right on it anyway.
I hauled out my scraper. My porch railings surrendered their paint a little too willingly, in great galloping strips. The joints needed caulk. Here and there I ran into some more spongy bits I could sink a screwdriver into. I started digging. The sun continued to tip south. My sand-and-paint project was developing dramatically. Excavation! Wood hardener! Bondo! Actually, the posts should probably be replaced. Oh look! Birds!
I checked the miracle weather app. The weather app is utterly remarkable. It can tell you that rain is going to begin a week from next Tuesday at three pm, and at three pm a week from next Tuesday, sure enough, plink. Plink plink. Plup plup plup. You can time a soufflé with that thing.
According to the app, there are plenty of sunny days left. This is doable. Except then the sunny days started out dewy and never quite heated up enough to dry out all the wood I had exposed. Maybe tomorrow? After the requisite three trips to the hardware store—trips to the hardware store are like potato chips–I had the materials to do a really fine job, but not the confidence or the climate.
There was a sunny day coming up but the temperature was dipping into don’t-paint territory. And now I had a house dimpled with divots I made myself, all ready to turn into ponds you could host a tadpole in.
Can’t paint until I prime. Can’t prime until I scrape. Can’t caulk until I prime. Can’t fill holes until I watch a video about mixing two-part wood epoxy. Can’t mix two-part wood epoxy until I drench the holes with wood hardener. Things were spinning out of control and the calendar was careening toward November like a drunk driver heading for a bridge abutment.
And then, miracle! One morning dawned in the low fifties, on its way to a mid-fifties high, with no dew! I checked my miracle app. It wasn’t going to begin raining until 2pm! My wood looked dry! At least I could slap on some primer! Primer is dry to the touch in 30 minutes, paintable in an hour! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
I changed into grubbies and got out my brush and primer and commenced slapping at 11am.
It is said that people complain about the weather but nobody does anything about it. Maybe they think you can’t do anything about it. I am here to say Yes, yes you can. A hurricane-producing butterfly flapping its wings has nothing on a girl with an open can of primer.
11:05 sharp, plink. Plink plink. Plup plup plup.
New plan: get out the plastic and duct tape, half-ass everything just well enough to make it through the winter, then do it all properly in the spring, when there will be plenty of time, and the days will warm up, and nothing will stop me. Oh look! Birds!