Not the Ideal Painting Day, but Whatever


I sat looking out at the sunrise, waiting for it get light. Yesterday afternoon my daughter moved everything out of her room and we prepped it for painting. It was cold out, in the teens. But she really wanted to paint her room this weekend. She asked plenty of time ahead, and was willing to put in the effort. How could I say no?

She had a couple of friends over yesterday and we got to it–taping and cleaning and then painting. The problem is that it was really too cold to open the windows and air the place out. Thankfully, we had gotten low emission paint from the hardware store. This was intentional, due to the season, and it worked like a charm. It smelled a bit paint-ish but was not all that bad. We cracked a window and ran a fan and it cleared right out.

Her room was a mess last night, of course so she spent the night at one of those friend’s houses. All three of them did. The plan was to head back home and paint together in the morning. I, however, as an adult with some time management skills, as well as some experience with teenagers, knew that that was an unrealistic plan. There was no way they could get up in time to paint a second coat and put the whole room back together in time for bed tonight. So I painted the second coat myself before I picked them up.

I admit I like to get it done right. It is an excellent learning experience, however, to let your children take on a painting project. It is a good skill of itself and it is empowering. My daughter can now look at those walls and say “I painted that.” That feels pretty good. My dilemma is that I prefer, if possible, to avoid paint on the beams and the rug and the windows. The second coat was a little more thorough and tidy, but the first coat was more powerful, despite the messiness.

So I sipped coffee until the light rose. Then I put on old clothes and got the job done. I picked up the three girls late in the morning. They painted a dresser themselves, and then I helped them get started on reassembling the room–bed returned to the corner, clothes back in the closet and so on. They took care of the rest.

No, it wasn’t the best time of year to paint. We had to suck in some paint fumes (although not too many) and clean up with less room to work. They had to paint the dresser in the basement rather than on the porch or in the garage, but easy enough. And it is one more project not to be done in the summer. If my daughter had not insisted I would not have done it that way, but it got done, and I got to watch the sunrise, and she is happy. I guess that last one was the priority.

Messy Eater


My daughter romped about in the woods the other day. She got her boots muddy. She left them on the porch overnight. She left them there to dry. She also left them there to avoid cleaning off the mud.

In the morning they looked like this. I just recently hung the bird feeders. I filled a couple of them with sunflower seeds. Someone else did not want to clean up their mess. A squirrel? A chickadee? A mouse? I’m guessing a chickadee was flying back and forth from the feeder to the trellis over these boots. It ate the centers and left the hulls.

I cleaned up after the messy eater. I left the boots for my daughter. I am glad the chickadee wears no boots. I am glad my daughter has some skill with a napkin.

Another Season Up


The other day I sat on the couch with my daughter, laughing. She had grabbed the wool beanie cap from my head and popped it onto her own head. She took a bunch of selfies and cracked herself right up. And it cracked me right up. And we laughed about it.

She isn’t small anymore. That happens, of course. All those trite things other parents say are true after all. “They grow up so fast!” and all that crap isn’t wrong even if it is hackneyed. That moment laughing over the silliness of a hat was a gift. I’ll be sticking that one in my wallet to carry around.

The sun rose in the east today. Exactly in the east. No northeast or southeast about it. Spring rolls around, even if if feels like winter. At least the sun is higher and stronger. The blackbirds seem to notice that. Every day is just a little bit different, sweeping through the seasons. Day to day I find it hard to notice the difference, but I keep looking. That is the way with all of us. My daughter changes but not enough from yesterday to notice. I change too. That is why marking the moments, like the equinox or laughing on the couch, is important.

Tucked in the corner of the yard, under the big spruce, old toys lie scattered. Those toys were once a world. Now they are forgotten, not even seen they have been there so long. The sun bleaches them and the grass grows around them. What day did they get left there? What story was created just before they were left there for the last time? How many days, how many seasons, have passed since that world was real?

Frost melts in the new spring sun. Green shoots push aside last year’s dried stalks. My children will be taller today than they were yesterday. Those toys will fade just a little more. One day I will pick them up and find a place for them. One day my daughter will head off into her own Spring. I should pay attention. I should notice the days. I should hold onto the stories so they do not fade. I should enjoy this glorious day, today. The sun is high already.

Shelf Project Underway but Not Finished

Lower Shelf Installed, Upper Shelf Waiting

Lower Shelf Installed, Upper Shelf Waiting

While this will not be a surprise to anyone in the Champlain Valley, it was raining again this morning, with showers forecast all day.  So much for painting the house.  It would be, however, a good day to work on the shelves I wanted to build in the garage.  I was stymied a couple of weeks ago by my missing level.  I did finally find it, hiding behind the paint cans.  How it got there, I can’t say.  I found it when I took a trip to basement with the children to see what paint we had that might be acceptable to paint their rooms.  Another project.

I am glad I had the level.  Someone made a comment on my earlier post that I could just measure from the floor.  I was tempted.  The level was key with the imperfect lumber I had, however.  I was determined to use the lumber I had on hand and not to buy any.  So far so good.

I would have finished both the upper and lower shelves, but I had to take my daughter to the doctor.  She got a cut on her hand a couple of weeks ago and today it was clearly infected.  She and her parents tried to clean it and bandage it but it got the nasties anyway.  She was afraid to go to the doctor.  She didn’t want anyone to poke it and she was afraid the doctor would want to look at her throat.  She hates that.  I’m not a fan myself.  She had no throat inspection, however, just a confirmation that it is infected, a recommendation to come back in a few days to make sure it doesn’t need to be lanced, and a prescription for Amoxicillin.

By the time we got home it was a little late to keep plugging on the shelves.  We had to stop to get the prescription filled (they didn’t have what we needed in stock so had to find a substitute) and shop for a few things to go camping at a state part tomorrow.  I agreed to take the advice of a store employee and use the self-checkout.  That was a bad idea.  I have not had much luck with that approach.  There seem to always be issues.  The system doesn’t like when people bring their own bags, and the slightest shift on the scale sends it into a fit over the fear that one might be heisting some chewing gum.

We paid for the gum.  I am chewing some now.  The shelves wait for me.  Maybe I’ll get to them after our little camping adventure.  Or maybe I’ll just paint.

Walking to the Mailbox

It was a good moment to share.  The clouds were steel gray, surrounded by a pink sky.  They stood out, high contrast, as the sun slowly dropped.  The leaves are close to their peak fall foliage and the low light perked them up further.

I walked with my daughter.  We watched a jet, silent from our driveway so far below, head toward the moon.  The plane was glowing as the sun hit it directly.  It seemed to be on a collision course with the bright half of the earth’s satellite.  Luckily, the jet passed just beneath it.

We gloried in the beauty of it all.  We laughed as we spun around.  My daughter jumped the puddles from the day’s showers.  The wind blew the smell of fermenting leaves and the sound of crickets over the field.  We spun and laughed until I was dizzy and fell on the damp grass.

The world was right.  I was content.  It was a fine way to end a fall day.