Welcome home. I left that note at the bottom of the stairs that lead up from the basement apartment where we live now to the main level of he house. The note was sitting on our rolling island counter over which I had artfully draped a curtain and placed a plate of snow peas and grapes beside a Waterford crystal glass with 25 year old scotch in it. It had an arrow pointing up. It was the midpoint of my grand gesture.
My spouse had been in Great Falls working and I had worked on the house all weekend. He left early Friday and I spent that day working on banking papers. It was a long, hard day. Exhausted by the massive amount of paperwork I had done as well as the two long conference calls, I ate a bowl of soup and fell asleep on the couch only to wake up at 1:30 am.
Sleep was not on the horizon given that I had just slept five hours crunched up on our little couch that barely fits in the living room of our tiny basement apartment where we are living while we finish the house above that is to replace the house that the wildfire ate. If you think you are ever bored, just come over here. There is always something to do. At 1:30 am the prudent thing would be to transfer myself to the bed to the rest of a rather lackluster book I have been plowing through. I thought about eating. I thought better of that and grabbed a paintbrush. I thought I would toss a little paint into the nook turned closet turned back to nookish-closet so that it would look a little less like a closet and more like a nook.
In this house tossing a little paint on a wall in the middle of the night is not as outlandish as it sounds. We have so much to paint we have brushes, pans, paint, shop towels, paint scrapers and paint can openers neatly stationed all over the house. I have learned that many paint jobs that seem overwhelming only take 15 or 30 minutes as long as you don’t have to haul all over the house to find the stuff to accomplish the task. The whole mid-night painting thing has been going on for months. In early February we got caught running behind the construction crew when we were painting this tiny apartment so we painted into the wee hours to catch up. Over the past few months, we have gotten caught with weekend tasks that just won’t fit between Friday evening and Monday morning. Paint and stain lead that pack. There are only so many hours in a weekend and inevitably if you optimize the paint-to-drying ratio, there will be at least on coat that occurs at some obscene hour like 4 am.
I picked up a clean brush from its drying place in the bathroom and wandered out my apartment french doors into the garage to select a blue from the eight or nine shades we have in this house. I decided on Babbling Creek since we had part of a can and one whole extra can. It would make a nice contrast to the white ceiling and to the lighter blue, Atmospheric Pressure, on the walls outside of the nook. The nook is that size where roller or brush is a toss up. Brush won. I taped my ceiling and went to work. About 30 minutes later the nook walls were blue. I was not sleepy. About 30 minutes later the fire-rated entry door from the garage was blue. Another 30 minutes and the french doors leading into the apartment were blue and in another 30 minutes the fire-rated entry door from the garage into the house where the nook and the french doors are was blue. And I was finally sleepy, sleepy enough that cleaning up was a pain.
Saturday morning I woke up eager (not early) to see how my blues looked. I flipped on the coffee pot and went out the french doors to admire my work and to let Sophie do her morning business. My blues looked heavenly. The In the light of day, I decided that Babbling Creek was too dark on the nook walls and would need to be replaced with Atmospheric Pressure but otherwise everything was wonderful. I grasped the Atmospheric Pressure and went to the nook walls. I grabbed the Babbling Creek for the second coat on the french door and the interior of the fire rated-door. Somewhere along the line I forgot I was using Babbling Creek precisely because I had so much of it and thought I was at the end of the can. In fact, I was at the end of the can but I forgot there was an additional can. Musing on what I could put on the garage entry side of the fire-rated door, I thought of the Madonna Blue I had left from the kitchen cabinets. Upstairs I traipsed half gallon of Madonna Blue. It makes a fine color for the entry door from the garage.
The fresh paint made the unpainted trim look worse than it looked before which was pretty bad. The major marching through the entry hall off of the garage has been done so I took a chance and put one coat of white paint on the trim with the second coat to come later.
My initial blue wall and door painting was this house’s equivalent to watching a little late night TV. I did not set out to have a painting weekend. Once down the road to blue, I determined I might as well make the grand gesture and paint the garage.
We had a nearly full 5 gallon bucket of Open Road primer we used for the bedroom that is painted Open Road. I had been thinking for days that the Open Road primer would be perfect for the garage. Who would not be thrilled to drive into a garage the color of a Wendy’s frosty? It looks great on the bedroom walls. With firm resolve and total lack of grasp of the obvious I set to work pulling things away from the walls so I could paint the entire garage. It took hours of rolling yesterday and cutting today but I am quite pleased.
I wanted to have it done and cleaned up before my spouse came home. To stall for time both in his arrival and my need to cook, I told my spouse to pick dinner up in town. He texted saying he had picked up food and would be home soon. It takes about 15 minutes to get here from town. I gently tossed Sophie on the deck off the main floor knowing she would set up a might roar when my spouse drove into the drive way. While she was upstairs not knowing what she was waiting for I was scurrying around making the semi-colon to the grand gesture followed by the exclamation point upstairs.
I tossed the great pile of muddy boots to the corner of the garage and quickly swept the entry from the garage into the house. I closed the outside door to the garage so he would have to make a specific transition to come in. I then carefully closed the Madonna blue on the outside Babbling Creek blue on the inside fire-rated door from the garage into the entry that leads to the apartment and the stairs. There I placed the curtain covered appetizer table with the 25 year old scotch and the note pointing upstairs.
Most of the living room has been covered by saw horses and plywood for the past three months, as it was when my spouse left. The horses left on Friday. Under them I found floor I had never meet. I decided dinner upstairs was the exclamation point to the grand gesture. I dragged up from our apartment bedroom a small rug. Using our plastic yard table with a curtain tablecloth and two folding chairs, I set a formal dinner table with real china and fake flowers. No candle light, we don’t have any candle sticks or candles for that matter. I did grab one of the floor lamps we have used for painting light. No more romantic light could exist under the circumstances. I put real cloth napkins and a bottle of wine out. I made a flagon of tea and took that on a tray to the new kitchen that is not quite a kitchen. I knew I must be running out of time.
The dog alarm went off. Off I went like a shot for the last two trips to make the dinner setting perfect. By the time he made it up the long driveway still gasping from the effort, I appeared to be on the front deck with the dog sipping a libation watching him get out of the car. I did not want the grand gesture to go unnoticed so I kept the dog with me so she could not wiz down to meet him thereby focusing his attention on his loyal and loving dog rather than on newly painted doors and garage walls.
I waited attentively to hear what he might do. I heard muffled noises of amazement. I was giddy. I heard tromp, tromp, tromp and at the top of the stairs arrived my spouse with a load of groceries in hand and a wide O for a mouth.
Welcome home. We ate our first meal in the real house. It was a meal of grocery store fried chicken, baked beans and potato salad accompanied by a fine scotch and a sunset from our living room that was the grandest gesture of all.