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We’re just following ancient history, if I strip for you will you strip for me?

I know, I still have to get through the travelogues, but until then, life goes on, and I don’t want to forget to post what happens in the meantime.

Over dinner on Friday night, Esteban asked me what I wanted to do on Saturday. I responded, “Wake up early, go to the farmer’s market, make chili or maybe baby back ribs, and also strip and sand the back door and maybe also the door to the potting shed.” “How early are you talking?”

“I want to be there at 7:00 am.”

“See, when I hear ‘early’ in the context of Saturday mornings, I think like 9:30 or maybe 10.”

“Nope. Early.”


“Want to go with me?”

“Um’ are you serious about this whole back door thing?”

“Totally serious.”

“If I get up early and go with you to the Farmer’s Market, can you not do it?”



And that’s where we left it. I knew that it was very unlikely that he’d want to get up that early and also his need to maintain the status quo meant that he was going to be potentially hostile toward my continuing plans to eradicate the aging spots that mar our house’s potential. One of those things that has been on the To Do list has been the chipping, peeling paint on the breezeway door and the door to the potting shed. The garage door out to the backyard is likewise a peeling nightmare, but I suspect it is as old as the garage and there’s no saving it, as it is so flimsy and dry rotted that it is merely the suggestion of a door to thwart thieves with no initiative. Although maybe I don’t give it enough credit. After all, it did keep the Evil Rose Bush at bay for the last ten years.

I woke up early, as predicted, and hopped out of bed. Esteban rolled over.
“Early? This early?”

“Yes. It’s 6:30.”

“But that’s really early.”

“Exactly. Do you want to come with me?”

“I will if you snuggle for five minutes.”

Pretty easy trade. We were on the street by 6:50. I was excited because I’ve been pining after a basket of some type to take along to the market, but I have this entire problem with the entire basket oeuvre. There are so many hippies walking around with weird hemp weavings and I just didn’t think the whole weird basket thing was really me. I mean, I’d be halfway through the market and then get this feeling like I was trying to be some portly Little Red Riding Hood or something. And really, I’m so particular about things that get stuck in my head, and I worry that the basket would be too flimsy or have a pinchy handle or be impossible to clean and get funky between seasons. Gah. However, the night before we left for our trip, I made a mad dash out to TJ Maxx because I had decided that I hated my luggage and wanted the kind with wheels that could spin on a dime. While I didn’t find anything to my liking there, I did find the perfect solution to my Farmer’s Market Basket Dilemma. It’s like a very fancy grocery store basket, only with brushed aluminum, a padded handle and a black cloth bag that snaps on. Farmer’s Market Meets Prada. Also, as I discovered on its pilot run, there’s a zipper compartment where I can keep my keys and money. Brilliant and it worked perfectly. Yes, there is intense satisfaction knowing that if you give enough critical thought to something, you will eventually come to the perfect solution.

Some day I’m going to get over myself.

During the drive over, Esteban tried to figure out my reasoning.

“Really, this early? Why this early?”

“Because there’s hardly anyone there and they still have all the best stuff.”

“They have pretty good stuff at 10 am too.”

“Right, but the BEST stuff is gone by 8.”

“But if you didn’t go until 10 am, you wouldn’t know that and you’d be happy with the pretty good stuff, right?”

You can’t argue with that logic, but already we are there. We walk through barely populated aisles and score the best stuff, or rather, hardly anything. I just wasn’t in the mood. Esteban asked me when was my favorite time of year for the farmer’s market, and I said early summer, because there are strawberries and yellow cherries and lots of yummy bright things, while Esteban said that his favorite time was just coming up, when there are pumpkins and corn stalks and squash. We buy a butternut squash, a bag of caramel corn (CRACK COCAINE), and a bouquet of lizanthus flowers for the kitchen. One thing that I love about summer is that I always have a bouquet of flowers, but already, I am bummed that the season for lilies is over, and the sweet peas are no more and the cheery little snap dragons, that for some reason always remind me of penny candy aisle, they are almost extinct. In their place, sunflowers and red fluffy things and a million gladiolas and also these lizanthus, which I love. They look like spring, even though they are a late summer flower, but after many more of these 45 degree nights, they’re going to go to sleep for the season too. We saw the biggest pumpkin that ever was, with what was the porniest stalk I’ve ever seen, complete with circumsized tip. For four bucks, it’s a cheap thrill, but Esteban read my mind. “Ah yes, the season when you buy a giant pumpkin and leave it in the garage to rot?”

“Yes, it is that season again. I want it.”

“I know that you want it, because you are a dirty dirty girl, but the last pumpkin I had to scrape off the garage floor with a shovel.”

I am a bad owner of pumpkins. The problem is that while I am fully committed to displaying gigantic pumpkins, we live too close to a high school, and therefore pumpkins are hunted for sport. My fifty pound whoppers would be irresistible to the local miscreants so I keep them indoors until October and then I start to get sick of rolling them out during the day and then rolling them back in at night. It’s like owning a very corpulent dog with no legs and a weak bladder. So then the rotting and the shoveling.

I didn’t get the pumpkin. But seriously, that stalk. It must have been a VERY proud pumpkin.

I suggested some apples, to make applesauce, but Esteban countered that it didn’t feel like an applesauce day quite yet. I had to agree with him. Even though fall is my favorite time of year in Wisconsin, I hate to hasten its arrival. We will have months of the stuff, fall will be coming out our ears very soon and the kitchen will smell like nutmeg and ginger and I’ll make applesauce and roast pork loin with sauerkraut and dumplings. But there is a time for that. And that time starts in a few weeks. Not now.

After the market, we set our booty between us on the truck’s seat and went to breakfast. Due to a weird condition I have and my extremely low cholesterol (which is apparently just as bad as having high cholesterol, but for different reasons), I’ve been trying a new approach to eating, with varying success. It involves eating way more protein and fat than I would normally, and is taking a bit of time to get used to it. I just don’t like meat all that much, and would much rather sit down for a plate of toast and jam than a plate of bacon and eggs. However, breakfast is one of the easy meals for me to nail a bunch of protein right away, so Esteban has been encouraging me to eat eggs and since I need to earn the carbs for my morning mocha, I am usually happy to do so.

After breakfast, we hit the Starbucks drive thru. Esteban was already in a squirrely mood, so we were just getting my promised morning caffeine. When the barista came on the speaker and asked for our order, Esteban leaned out the window and said, “This is a race. Are you ready?”

The barista said “Yup.”

“Are you sure?”


“On your mark, get set, go! Ventivanillanonfatnowhipmocha.”

We heard laughter on the other end. “Um’ I got the mocha’ I think venti’ something else? Can I get another shot?”

“A do over? Well, ok. Ventivanillanonfatnowhipmocha!” He had done it twice as fast the second time.

“IS THIS FOR WEETABIX?” Someone laughed in the background.

Then we burst out laughing. “I’m not ordering it! It’s my husband!” I shouted over him, apologetically.

“But it’s for you! That’s all he had to say!” It was the Miss Prindle barista. Now that Unsurly Girl is working the store near my office, I think Miss Prindle is one of the managers. When we got up to the window, we chatted with her. She asked what we were up to and then admired the flowers between us. The drive through barista with the headset came over and jokingly chastised Esteban for trying to throw her off her game, and then they gave us the venti for the price of a tall, due to a register “accident”. We just dumped all the change from a five into their tip jar. It was a good morning.

Then we did a drive by on some car lots. I have come to the weird realization that I am not really happy with any car that’s on the market right now. I sort of wish that I could just reverse time on my 300M and set it back about 80000 miles, because aside from not having steering wheel controls for the radio, I’m really happy with it. It’s comfy, zippy and is a nice ride. Sure, I’d like one with air-conditioned seats and a heated steering wheel, but I am just not in the mood right now. It seems so pointless. We’ve again tabled it until I have the wherewithal to devote another day to car shopping. If I were a wagering type, I’d say around November.

We had made a preemptive strike by going to Home Depot for door stripping supplies the night before, and I didn’t get the painting supplies then because a) I knew that we’d make at least another trip to the Depot before I was ready to paint and b) it was supposed to rain in the afternoon.

Esteban took the door off the hinges, set it on our sawhorses and then looked at it skeptically before saying “Would you like some help with this?” I had specifically NOT tried to involve him in the project because the man already tries to filibuster all of my attempts at home improvement. I think he figures that if he throws enough rhetoric in the air, eventually it’s going to snow and I’ll lose interest. I can’t really figure out his primary motivation for this. He claims it’s because he doesn’t like to do this stuff, but once he gets involved in a project, he goes from reluctant to military sergeant and suddenly we’re taking steps that needn’t be taken and involving spectators and usually there’s a parade involving our dress uniforms. I can understand his trepidation when it comes to half-finished projects, of which there are definitely a few showstoppers around our house, but with rare exception, those projects are usually his projects, not mine. Witness the fact that the kitchen was half finished for three years and still lacks outlet covers and switchplates.

Anyway, it’s not like we could exactly postpone finishing the breezeway door, since its absence means that the house and garage are, save for a screen door, open game.

The door is the original on the breezeway, which means that it’s at least forty years old, solid pine with two panels on the bottom and a plate window on the top. I actually like the door, preferring it to those beige steel types that completely lack character, and even if it weren’t an odd size, I would be in the Repaint It camp. One side is varnished a rich amber, but the other side had been varnished but was then painted the dusty charcoal grey trim color that we’ve been working to eradicate slowly throughout our occupancy. We’ve obliterated 90% of it, with only three minor doors remaining: the breezeway door, the back garage door and the door to the potting shed. Since the previous owners hadn’t bothered to strip or sand the underlying varnish, the grey had bubbled and flaked all over the door. I didn’t anticipate too much trouble getting the paint off the flat parts, and figured that I’d just rough up the varnished areas with a few runs of sand paper.

Esteban, however, had other ideas. He felt that not only did the paint have to come off, but we had to essentially strip it to bare wood. I went to work with a sandpaper flap wheel on our drills while Esteban worked a hand sander. Sanding wasn’t too bad with the drill, but I just had to be careful not to nick or gouge the old wood, but Esteban was having a hell of a time with the hand sanding. Plus, the heat from the friction of the flap wheel was melting the old paint, so I’d strip a section and then smudge some paint onto the wood, meaning that it had to be sanded again. Well, “had” is up for debate, but once Herr Esteban gets his head into something, it’s stuck. We ended up going back to the Hundred Dollar store again, this time for another pair of flap wheels (they were getting gummed up with paint), a sheet sander (as opposed to an orbital sander, which are apparently different), and a detail sander (which was complete and utter crap). We also needed glue and wood putty to fix an area where it looked like someone broke the door jam. The entire venture fell completely into my rule of thumb where any household project attempted will cost four times the expected budget. It goes without saying, so I don’t know why I’m always surprised that it goes down that way. I hadn’t even bought the paint yet, and already, it would have been cheaper to buy a new door. One that came with a sheet sander, perhaps.

At that point, Esteban pulled up a chair and began work on the two panels, which had grooves and notches and raised sections, all of which spelled Pain In The Ass when it comes to sanding and whatnot. When I finished the entire frame, I tried to help with the other panel, and he kept correcting my form and warning me to be careful and then finally asked me not to do it because it was bugging him. On a normal day, I would have been irritated by his micromanaging, but I was pretty pleased with the progress made so far and also sort of turned on by all of the power tools. I think he was still under the impression that we’d be able to paint, but I knew that there was no way. You don’t paint bare wood when it’s raining. It’s just asking for trouble. Sure enough, by noon, it had started to darken, and the rain started shortly after I returned home with lunch from High Maintenance Hamburgers, which we ate in the garage while listening to the 80’s radio channel. We declared it well and truly stripped by 2 pm. We fixed the cracks and broken crackled door jam and then had to wait for everything to dry before we could move forward, so we went back to Home Depot to look for possible replacement doors for the back door to the garage. My feeling was that I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t be able to find a stock door for the back to the garage and since it will likely have to wait until spring, why don’t I just strip it and paint it anyway? Esteban was adamant, in his weird “Nothing Should Change, No New Projects!” way, which was annoying. Granted, I have a personal stock in this, because it is the primary thing I see when I look out of my office window when sitting in my desk, and maybe a pretty red door would be cheery during the dismal that is winter? No, it doesn’t matter, proclaimed the edicts from on high. No stripping the door. No painting the door. The door shall remain untouched. June, who stopped by because she sensed domestic industry from all the way in the suburbs, was completely on my side and called him unreasonable. But apparently when faced with the fearsome combined force of both his mother and his wife, Esteban will do nothing but dig a foxhole. Whatever, dude. When we returned, the breezeway door still wasn’t dry enough to sand, and we talked about whether or not to start on the potting shed door, but decided to save that for the following weekend, since we were both beat. I went in the house, watched some shows on TiVo while reading the latest issue of Readymade, then took a four hour nap, which was really incredibly gratifying.

We both slept almost twelve hours that night and woke up late, went out for brunch, then came back home to read the paper, drink coffee and watch football. When Esteban left for his Dorkathalon, I went to the paint store, bought WAY too much paint and supplies, then proceeded to spend the day alternately working on writing and freelance, and applying coats of primer and paint to the door. As of this writing, we’re on the sixth coat of Real Red and I think one more should do it. And it looks goooooood.

Oh, and I accidentally slipped with the drill and might have stripped most of the lose paint off the back door to the garage. And also, I might have held the drill up like a gun and said to no one “Let’s strip some bitches.” Or I might not have. But when I mentioned to Esteban that I bought an entire gallon of paint, even though we only had three doors to paint (I plan on repainting the front door to match the rest’ it needs a fresh coat anyway), he replied “Oh, well maybe we should paint the garage door too, huh?” At least he accepts that there are sometimes higher forces at work and his is not to question why.




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