Having likened recently the finishing of the house to a weary uphill struggle, I sat on our bed Saturday morning under the premise of drying my hair, with notepad, not hairdryer, in hand. By committing jobs to paper….I rationalised….I might be able to clear my head enough to see wood for trees making that uphill path at least more visible if not any easier to ascend. We are after all, nearly finished. Its just that nearly is taking a long time…
‘M’s Get Us Finished Plan’ I scrawled accompanied by a determinedly stabbed full stop.
Clear hallway so painter can get access
Buy paint for woodwork
Put up coffee sack pictures (within 24 hours they had fallen down and now lie along with every other picture in our house awaiting a meeting with a drill. “S**t bloody Ikea frames” had been S’s weary reaction)
Put up factory lights
Track down the electrician to fit extractor
Beg C to work speedily for a change and finish hallway floor, snug cupboard, sanding of snug floor and bedroom plastering in one…oh ok two….days.
Put up pictures in O’s room
Remove glass from bookshelf in O’s room…
Buy chair for O’s room
Buy millions of chairs in fact….we need some for the snug and the kitchen sofa soon-to-be-chair corner…
…and so it continued.
Returning downstairs, hair now dried and make up on, I presented my list to a husband who right now really needs his weekends. He reached for it warily. The cricket, needless to say, wasn’t on it.
“It’s my plan” I said somewhat over-egging what was essentially an exhaustive list.
“Ok” he said as he scanned. Eventually he looked up.
“Pet. I’m not moving those boxes of books downstairs for them only to be moved again. They can go in the office.”
I looked back surprised. If that item was all he picked fault with we were onto a good thing.
“Agreed.” I said. “As long as I can still get in to the office as Im having to work in there….”
He nodded and returned his attention to the paper in hand before silently making his way upstairs to don work clothes.
Upon his descent I threw him a curve ball. My plans for the day didn’t actually involve the list….. I’d made arrangements to meet a friend at the farm.
“Would you like to come?” I asked S hopefully.
He eyed me uncertainly, somewhat confused by my very female issuing of two wildly contrasting hints.
“I think I had better get on here” he replied eventually.
“Painting.” O announced, the word he has come to associate with any form of DIY.
“Yes son” came the sighed reply. “Daddy will be painting”
And with a kiss I departed, O bundled in his pushchair, feeling simultaneously guilty for leaving my tired husband behind to work…and yet grateful that he was. I am woman, after all. It’s complex.
I know I’ve rambled many a time about the feelings of anxiety S and I both hold within us, a by-product of our recent turbulent emotional journey over these past months and exaborated, rather than caused by, the house (I think). So I apologise for mentioning it again but its in some kind of explanation….. As we try to calm the external space around us so we can, in turn, calm our internal selves we come up against moments…triggers…where the pain cocooned within us… up until that point having simmered silently and harmlessly away….suddenly bubbles over with messy results. Like the over-flowing pasta pan catching you unawares as you rummage, head deep in the fridge, for onions for the sauce. An odd analogy but my point being the trigger need not be significant.
On Saturday a trigger came my way. Not a disaster. Not a crisis. Just the despairing frustration at not being able to find the farm …made almost worse by the fact I had a fairly uselessly high tech GPS-featured iPhone in hand. Or perhaps I should say…a fairly useless person was holding said phone. Punishment, perhaps, for leaving a loved one at home.
“How are you getting on?” probed my friend politely as she waited patiently at our agreed destination.
“I have no idea where I am” came the texted reply as I wobblingly navigated the pushchair one handed, working, as I did, to suppress irrational tears. “I can’t even see a road…..”
The area has, I believe recently, had all roads botoxed away like unwanted wrinkles to become smooth pedestrianised walkways looping their way around towering newbuild blocks and retail outlets. Pigs and sheep were nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile I circled pointlessly like a malfunctioning toy as the lazily flashing curser on my phone zinged away suddenly from the blue-ribboned route alerting me to yet another wrong turn. Singing a tensely pitched version of Miss Polly Had a Dolly on a loop – a new technique used to contain emotion when life’s little challenges threaten to spill it – about as many times as I’d physically taken the same hopelessly circular route, I arrived over an hour late in desperate need of coffee and hug. The chocolate brownie helped. Sod the bloody goats.
Meanwhile S was cracking on productively.
“One bag of dust found!” came the text. Good news indeed as this meant C need make less of it. On our return the news got better. Following a day of back breaking work our snug was, once again (as this process had been executed by S before….then C arrived….worryingly he is due again Saturday…) clear.
S had removed the offcuts, the tarp, the old paint pots, the tools and the tat to reveal the bare bones of what can imminently be transformed into a room.
“Oh. My. God.” I exclaimed excitedly. “To look through from the kitchen and not see a ladder……”
I continued to stare in wonder.
Buy paint I mentally added to the list.
With our painter due to start Monday I figured I did indeed have an excuse to make the well-trodden trip to Fired Earth ….but the turquoise ‘Marram’ wasn’t the only thing on my shopping list. Bearing both a sample of hallway tiling, stair and landing carpet and a picture, I had a plan up my sleeve…
“I’m after this look” I said as I swiped through images in search of the monochromed window frame. “Our hallway is white and the lounge and dining room both painted in …well….confident colours which makes our hallway look a bit like we’ve forgotten to decorate. I thought this idea…painting the architrave….might …well frame the view of the other rooms so to speak and provide a bit of structure.”
The staff at Fired Earth seemed excited. Pulling samples off the wall and moving into the light we picked our colour and I got out my card ready to pay.
“Not in stock” said the assistant. “I can get it for you by Tuesday?”
“He starts Monday” I sighed “and I work until Thursday so couldn’t get it to him early enough. Ok. Not to worry. I’ll try something else.” and feeling my confidence to go bold dissolve as disappointment engulfed me I left the shop.
It was Sunday. My choices were limited. B&Q for oil based paint…something we are trying to avoid…or Farrow and Ball. I headed to F&B.
Repeating my introduction almost off pat ….” so I thought this might frame the view so to speak, of the other rooms and provide a bit of structure…..” I noticed how doubtful the face looked peering back at me.
“Hmmm” said the assistant curling a lip “well these are our blacks. If you like that monochrome look…”
“It’s just paint….” I interjected quickly, more to convince myself. “If we hate it its a few door frames…right?”
She spread her hands in the recognised gesture of “if you must you must” and left me to my pondering.
Propping my tile up on a shelf installed, I imagined gratefully, for this very purpose I lined the painted boards up next to it. Black blue….too blue. Off Black….too blue again. Pitch black. Too, well, inky. Customers came and went, politely moving their way around the human statue frozen in thinking pose.
Eventually, with satisfied customers having departed, the assistant felt it might be time to nudge me along my way. Placing the sunny yellow Babouche next to my vignette she raised an eyebrow quizzically.
“What about this?” she advocated. Like the devil.
I stared back at her in disbelief.
“My husband would divorce me.”
Shrugging she tossed it aside. “This?” She lined a pale grey against the tile. It looked pretty and I was momentarily tempted before my resolve started to crumble. Seconds from leaving the shop empty handed another assistant, who had been flicking through inspirational tomes on the countertop, chipped in.
I looked over despairingly.
“You came in here for a dark colour. If you leave with that pale grey you aren’t really doing what you set out to do. Look at this. This is what you want” and splaying the book she pushed it towards me.
“Go with it. Go for Down Pipe. It will give you the definite look you were after.”
“Yes. You’re right. I will.” and with that it was bought.
Its only paint….right?