I’ve been waiting on a trio of rings in the tumbler (all good things come in three’s, right?) and outside it’s been raining like we’re back in California. So today, I worked on the house.
The current project we’re tackling is painting the old pine-clad walls. Though truthfully, when I say “painting” what I really mean is prepping for painting. And we’ve been prepping for weeks and weeks and weeks.
Stage one was spackle. We carefully filled the knots and dings and holes in the walls, one by one, and at first it was fun - like spreading frosting. But then the sheer number of holes dawned on us and we realized we had to just grit our teeth to get it done.
Every now and then we’d come across what we lovingly called a “shit board” - a board so porous and pitted that it’d end up almost completely covered in spackle. The shit boards were the worst. But, working a couple hours in the morning and a couple in the evening, even the most pockmarked boards got filled.
Stage two was sanding. My dad lent us a couple of orbital sanders and we spent a whole weekend in dust masks, eye glasses and earmuffs (I am militant about that health and safety) removing all the extra spackle and the finish from the faces of the boards. The cats hid in our bedroom, Storm going so far as to bury himself under all of the blankets on our bed, and my arms were jelly by the end.
Last week we went through and hand sanded each and every one of the low spots between boards to remove any spackle the sanders missed. When all the sanding was done, and we were through celebrating, the walls were vacuumed, wiped down with a microfiber cloth, and then washed down with warm water just to be sure all remnants of our dusty escapades were behind us. And the walls - they ended up buttery soft and ridiculously smooth, with all sorts of interesting patterns highlighted by the spackle. It'll almost be a shame to cover them up. Almost.
I’m sure everyone around here is tired of me saying this, but after the sanding the smell of the house changed. I know every family and every house (especially the old ones) have their own particular smell, and that in moving into this house it would take awhile for it all to smell like us - that is to smell, to my nose anyways, like nothing at all. But taking the surface off of the wood walls took away the old house smell. It took away the different family smell. It’s like the wood was holding onto 60 years of smells - and in stripping that surface we’ve started afresh. A little gross to think about, but there’s the truth of it.
This week’s project, and the final stage before we prime and paint (yahoo!), has been filling the holes where boards meet the trim with foam backer rod and then caulking over them - as well as caulking all remaining cracks and joints in the walls. This is the slowest job as there is a crack between every board and holes on each end, PLUS holes where the ceiling boards meet the trim. It is the dark before the painting dawn. It’s as tedious as can be. But honestly, even though I’d been dreading this part, I’ve been loving it.
I have this sense that, from here on out, this house will never be the same. My hands have touched, and changed, EVERY board on these walls. My pointer finger smooths every line, shapes every meeting of walls and trim. As long as the pine adorns these walls, be it a year or ten or fifty - I’ve made my mark. And that’s special.
I think it may have stopped raining for a minute (could it be? Is that a patch of blue sky outside the window?) so I must take the cats out for a quick jaunt around the yard, if I want to sleep tonight that is! Then it’s a quick bowl of red lentil soup and, caulk gun in hand, back to work!!