Well, I'm in one of those befuddled moods again. We had trial earlier this week; coming off a trial always creates a sort of let down. Things get very intense and hectic leading up to the thing, and then it's over, and everyone around here spends the next few days sifting through every little detail (incessantly, I might add) until I want to dive head first off a building. We won, by the way, but the post mortem is still a bore, bore, bore.
Then, there's the house. That blasted house. The Curious Reader was meant to be a bookish place; but, my hours are held captive by that house, and yet all I yearn to do is read. To be honest, I admit I brought this upon myself. I started stripping the wallpaper from the breakfast room and kitchen two weeks ago and have been living in chaos ever since. It has clung to those walls for twenty years and apparently has made up its mind that it will only go kicking and screaming.
One of my favorite haunts on Saturday morning is the Ace Hardware Store that opened (with great fanfare and flourish) on our island a little over a year ago. It's a very friendly place and almost everyone knows me there by now; I bump into a lot of my neighbors at the Ace as well. We kibbutz about rakes, and paint, and charcoal chimney starters. I ran into the guy who lives across the street a couple of weeks ago and was able to give him some advice about applying the grout he was getting (seeing as I am dead clever about grout, having just re-grouted one of my bathrooms. "You learn by doing," Shorty says.) I seem to have wandered off my story. What was I talking about? Oh, yes. The wallpaper. So, I'm in Ace Hardware and Ben, one of the Ace guys, walks up to me and asks if he can be of help. "Ben, I'm trying to remove some very stubborn wallpaper without doing too much damage to the drywall." He had just the ticket, and I walked out with two spray bottles of very expensive blue gel-like liquid, a shiny scraper, and a paper tiger to make holes in the wallpaper so the gel could work. The gel did not work...$20 down that rat hole. But brilliance always shines through. White vinegar can be used for just about anything...itchy bug bites? White vinegar! Calcium build-up in your coffee pot? White vinegar! Water marks on Great Aunt Jane's heirloom cherry coffee table? White vinegar! So, I grabbed the store brand bottle of white vinegar (cost: 56 cents for a quart) from the pantry, put it in a spray bottle with an equal amount of water and Eureka! The entire house smells like a salad, but it is working. Nevertheless, it remains a messy, sticky job, and I see no end in sight...whirr, whirr with the paper tiger, spritz spritz, scrape scrape, up the ladder, down the ladder.
As I'm going through this dance, my mind wanders to the day I picked out this paper. We were building our dream house...well, my dream anyway. I spent so many hours with our builder, going over the blueprints, changing this, moving that. They were happy hours, those nest building hours. The sales person for the builder was a delightful southern belle whose husband was a former Secret Service agent. He was in the motorcade riding with (then) Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson in Dallas, TX on November 22, 1963, just in front of President Kennedy's car. He covered Johnson's body with his own when the shots rang out, and wrote a book about it several years later. Well, getting back to the southern belle, she was a hoot. "Come ovah hea, dah-h-lin'" she drawled, "and pick out yo' wa-wa pay-pah." "I get wallpaper??!!" "Oh, dah-h-h-lin'" she oozed, looking very shocked, "We wouldn't let you move inta yo' house without wa-wa pay-pah!" I felt like a heathen, like I just admitted I wasn't wearing any knickers. She may have muttered, "Transplanted Yankee!" under her breath, but of that I cannot be certain.
The paper I selected was a thinly-striped beige, blue, and a tiny hint of cranberry. The matching border paper was a floral blue. Then there was the joy of picking the carpet, the floor tile, the counter tops, the wa-wa paper for bathrooms, and dining room, the lighting, the paint, the trim, the shelving. As the building progressed, I tried to visit the work site as often as possible without getting on the workmen's nerves. The trim man's name was Boise, and he was decidedly unfriendly, but he was a master craftsman. Since I was to live with his double crown molding, and judge's paneling, and chair railing, and bookshelves, day in and day out for years - maybe a lifetime -I wanted him to like me, thinking he would be spurred on to do his best and most artistic work. I tried my best. I was as sweet as pie, and always referred to him as "MR. Boise." I even started bringing freshly baked cookies, hoping they would have a salubrious effect on old Boise's disposition. They never did...Boise showed zero signs of liking me. The trim work turned out, and remains, gorgeous notwithstanding. When I walked into that finished house for the first time, I really could not believe I lived there. I wanted to wrap the whole thing up in my arms and kiss it full on the lips.
So here I am, twenty years later, undoing things. Looking at the house with a jaundiced eye. The dream did not last, dreams being the ephemeral creatures they are. Well...no need to travel down that path I guess. Sigh. I loved that wallpaper once. Now, I can't get rid of it soon enough. Love is fickle, is it not?