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Thursday, November 19, 2009

We like the view

Winter seems fairly well set in, and the juncos are patrolling the feeder outside the dining room window, mornings. We have been watching them every winter; they are part of the coffee ritual, and we never get tired of looking out at them, come sun, rain, or snow. We like the view.

Eighteen years a-gone, Former Self and Company, eighteen years younger and spryer than we are now, faced the grim prospect of pulling up a dining roomful of worn-out, cracked, speckled-gray-pattern linoleum floor tiles and starting over -- but with no money. Something certainly had to be done. The ceiling had been allowed, by the previous owners, to pour cold rainwater on the floor, with resultant swelling and disintegration of chipboard subflooring in several places, creating hazards to navigation. An idea was advanced to try leveling up the entire floor with filler, roller-painting it white, and then, painting by hand, create the illusion of a ceramic tile floor using brick-red paint, a four-inch brush, patience, and a lot of Mozart. This was adopted.

The project, which took about three days, worked reasonably, well, and the resulting trompe l'oile floor lasted almost fifteen years without much maintenance, thanks to the miracle of polyurethane. The last three years, not so well. Some kinds of filler (we had used up a variety of things found in the garage) had more staying power than others, and we at last found ourselves patching and re-patching. Since there is still not much money around (we haven't been especially able to attract the stuff), it's time to attempt a repeat of the original miracle.

The new cracks have been filled with plastic "wood." I'm renewing the "grout" with white latex on a sturdy round artist's brush, and the "tiles" with a three inch flat brush with medium bristles. One uses the lines between the original tiles as a guide, or a pencil line where the filler has obscured them. It's quite slow, and a little bit nerve-wracking, as it seems the best-looking results, as before, are obtained by painting free-hand rather than with a template.

I have found, somewhere, a nice thick pad of polyethylene foam board, which is neither mooshy like foam rubber nor crumbly like styrofoam, and it makes an ideal kneeling platform. Still, I'm finding myself getting up more frequently, and ver-r-r-r-y slowly, with much creaking, then wandering around whining, and procrastinating about getting back to it much more than Former Self did.

Former Self is amused and rather heartless about the whole thing.

"Hey! Get cracking."

"Easy for you to say."

"What's your problem, old lady?"

"It's a long way down there."

"My heart bleeds for you. First we're young, then we're old. If you didn't want to go to Memphis, why did you stay on the train? Mmnh?"

Well ... I guess I must have liked the view.


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