Homework without pay

I spent Tuesday working harder than  really wanted to (and yet not so hard as I let Janet believe I had). And I didnʼt get paid a cent for it. Again. Worse, soon I will be spending a solid day really making an effort, as I (uh, “we,” but thatʼll be the day, Buddy Holly) repaint our kitchen. Again.

Yes, Janetʼs in the revamping-the-home mode, not a feeling I often get. I figure we make our house the way we want it, once, and then live in it. Not so my lovely wife, nor her sister, nor her mother. I guess weʼre not really fulfilling our personal/social obligations if we arenʼt always on some binge of home renovation or another. My family tends another way. We would each be happy just to dwell in our abodes and read. A lot. All the time, as a matter of fact. Even cleaning up is an apparently unnecessary chore among the Burrows.

Donʼt believe me? Just ask Janet. She has a very clear point of view on all of this. (And sheʼs right. Cleaning up is a necessary evil. I once wrote a poem on the subject, a lovelorn poem if you can believe it. Maybe one of these days… Cleaning up is even worth paying for; we do, twice a month, which is why I was in Dedalan/Bloomian exile yesterday — and available to have lunch with my taskmistress beloved. Itʼs embarrassing to be so upper-class about oneʼs homeʼs cleanliness, yet making that choice may have saved our marriage at one point.)

On Tuesday I did do a little preliminary cleaning to be ready for the bimonthly visit, scouring the soapscum, grit and brown from our shower in the basement bathroom, a job I do better than anyone else, having been well trained and experienced for our whole lives in this house. And I believe that I do significantly better than our hired helper, so I was hoping if I did most of the job, sheʼd see what was left as a very do-able chore…

WRONG color

But the shower was only about an hour out of the day. What kept me busy was more dramatic (and the theme on which we started) — home renovation. Janet wants to redo our kitchen. Not the cupboards and all that: we had that done at great expense and no little disruption to our lives about a decade ago (although the way it turned out, itʼs not impossible that she wouldnʼt mind doing it over; at least we didnʼt go for some of the now-dated then-fashionable stupid ideas we/she saw on television).

She really just wants to repaint, having already selected and purchased a creamy shade of paint just darker than the white thatʼs already on the walls. Itʼs the painting that I know will absorb a day very soon. That day, unbeknownst to me, was supposed to be this week, in anticipation of a visit from her sister this weekend. But Diane will have to accept disappointment and a partial disaster in our kitchen because a preliminary job (the one that filled Tuesday for me) wasnʼt nearly as straightforward or simple as Janet had planned.

You see, several years ago, while I was still teaching and before I had resigned the extracurricular speech part of the job (some of which I added back my last year, last year), Janet had decided to renovate the kitchenʼs by then (for her) stale appearance with some tiny little tiles, which after months of searching and debate she purchased in copy-paper-sized sheets (roughly, maybe eight inches by eight inches) on plastic webbing — presumably to be actually used as they were bought and grouted between. But she removed the little inch-square tiles and glued them in a line along the top of our countertop backsplash. She did it all in one day, while I was away at speech contest (thus the detail in the recollection of the time above).

And it looked very nice (I thought; I donʼt think she was ever quite pleased with the effect, but then decorating is kind of like eating food you prepared yourself — someone elseʼs cooking always seems to taste better, at least to me). However, as the years went by (not all that many years, either — probably just five), too many programs on HGTV (known to us, thanks to Dianeʼs husband, Steve, as “How Gay TV”) and the DIY channel convinced and inspired her to make a change. Now the little tiles had to go.

But they didnʼt really want to go (to personify small ceramic squares). That was the unstraightforward fly in the ointment of Janetʼs plans for this week. While I sat on my wellpadded behind in my Captain Kirk recliner (more on that subject another day) in the basement living room watching television one evening, she was upstairs attempting (more or less unsuccessfully) to remove those tiles. It went very badly, although she did shatteringly (descriptive of the tiles) get about five off the wall. Thatʼs when she called me upstairs and told me that over last weekend my computer job (she really does not like me being on the computer ordinarily, so it gets shut down the moment she arrives home in the evening) was to investigate how to remove glued-on (caulked-on?) tiles from painted drywall.

I did my investigation, and the best we could learn was that heat helped. On Sunday we tried using her blow dryer to warm the glue and attempted together to remove more tiles. She avoucehd that it did indeed seem easier when the tiles/wall/backsplash had been heated. It didnʼt seem easy at all to my inexperienced self. However, I volunteered to give it a shot on Monday or Tuesday and get the little tiles removed, if she so desired. (With five — now nine — of them gone already, it was a done decision that the rest must also leave the walls.)

So thatʼs how I spent my Tuesday morning, removing tiles.

However, since we approach almost exactly to a thousand words, more on that subject will have to wait until, perhaps, tomorrow…

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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