Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Slippery Slope
I MUST BE OUT OF MY MIND... I thought as another drip of stripper fell on my foot. What could I possibly be getting out of this? I’m dirty, I smell, I’m tired. I should quit for a while. Just let me finish this one little piece... two hours later I was still standing in the hall, scraping, scraping, scraping. The only sound in the entire house was the scrape of my blade on the wrought iron rails, as I scraped off what felt like one millimeter of paint per millennium. Everybody else was asleep, but I kept my lonely vigil with the stair rail, intent on bringing it back to it's original glory.
It took two whole months, but I finally got all of the white paint off of the wrought iron rails, and started sanding the newel post. This led to removing the carpet off the top step to get all the way to the bottom of the newel post. this led to taking all of the carpet off of the stairs late one September night. when I saw the horror that lay beneath, I put the carpet back on even faster than I took it off. The p.o.'s (previous owners) had used the steps as a paint brush rest. There was so much paint I could barely see the wood. And of course, as always, there were five thousand more staples. So I spent the next month sitting on the stairs removing staples, and nails, and paint, and lots of dirt. Worst of all were those wooden carpet tack strips. I cursed the previous owners on a regular basis. finally I had all the paint removed. Sometimes, though, I would stand at the top of the stairs and doubt my sanity. Was it all going to be worth it? A couple of the treads were cracked, and there were marks that sanding all the way to, well..., you know where..., would not remove. Staining became a test of endurance, because I had to leave myself a way to get upstairs, and this meant avoiding every other step for up to several hours each day. every day I would leave a note at the bottom telling the kids which steps they couldn't use for the day.
I would stain every odd step one day, and every even one the next, and then do it again, the following two days, and then do the same again when I used the polyurethane. Finally one day I stood at the top and looked down at the finished steps, and all the doubts about my sanity vanished. It HAD all been worth it. Of course, while waiting for all the stain, etc, to dry, I had begun attempting to stain the newel post and rail to match the stairs. The problem was, that whatever the wood is, it just will not take a stain evenly, despite using a good wood conditioner on it. I have tried everything, including about four different stain colors, and as a last resort, I even used a tube of oil paint, thinking that would help even out the color. Now the irony of the situation is that after all that work to remove the paint, I'm thinking of painting it white again.
And then there's the story of the upstairs hallway. I was almost finished with the entire stair project, and looking forward to finally being finished with the whole blasted thing, when my husband came home with a new belt sander. I had just finished staining the upstairs hallway the day before, and was getting ready to put the first coat of polyurethane on it, when I heard the belt sander, and felt a cold chill run down my spine. You guessed it, he decided to start with my upstairs hallway. Of course he had never used a belt sander before, and the end result is that I am going to have to re sand the entire upstairs floor in the hall. (I have since realized that it is my destiny to repeat everything I do at least once, if not twice before it is finally finished the RIGHT way.)
One day, while taking a break from the "Hallway to hell" (sorry, parody of an old A/C D/C song) I decided to remove the carpet from my son's room, which adjoins the hallway. This was a really nasty job and revealed, underneath, as always, MORE STAPLES! I'm beginning to think my whole house is held together with staples. Not just any kind of staples, though, they are the kind that break off when you pull them out leaving just enough sticking out to poke your foot on, but not enough to pull out with a pair of pliers, leaving you no choice but to hammer them down into the floor. So after the carpet was all gone, and I stood looking around at his now empty room, I saw, to my dismay that his room was unlevel on one side. Immediately, I saw the correlation between all these months of work, with one thing that led to another, and another, and then another, and the slope on one side of his room. I'm keeping a good attitude about it, though, I just think about how much fun he will have rolling his cars and marbles down the hill in his room.
(Fast forward again, about two years; we had the foundation experts out to estimate how much to fix our sinking house, and ((gulp!)) fourteen THOUSAND dollars, which we don't have at the moment.)