Friday, December 9, 2011

One way to have a white Christmas

Anyone who pays attention knows that one job often spawns another—or, more typically, a Duggar-sized family of nagging little tasks. That’s what we learned when we tried to fit back into the basement, following our springtime waterproofing, most of what had been there before. And to get rid of items ruined in our past floods, such as unused paint. It surely had us longing for the past.

No, not the past of pet rocks, invisible dogs and mood rings. I mean the days when you could leave unneeded paint cans, even full, at the curb with your garbage. The truck would come once a week. And the cans would go away…somewhere.

By contrast, our little town has issued very specific instructions for disposing of all these cans. First, we have to dry out the paint in those cans on our own. (Our green-minded county wants the poisonous paint fumes to go away…somewhere.) They suggest kitty litter, preferably unused, to dry out the liquid portion of the paint. Once solid, the paint can go out in the garbage bags; the empty cans, alongside the garbage.

Sounds easy, right? Not when you have twelve full cans holding court in the garage. No matter how much you stir it, kitty litter tends to solidify the paint in the upper half of a full can, meaning lots of splashing paint when you crack the top layer apart. There has to be a better way, I thought…which was when I came up with my scheme. I could get a few pieces of scrap wood and paint them repeatedly, two or three times a day on weekends. Once I’m all done, I can throw away the scrap wood with the empty cans.

Who, again, was that idiot who just said one job spawns another? I learned quickly that since I have a house, not a wood shop, there just isn’t much scrap wood around. And at this rate, I’d never get the car back into the garage.

It was time to explore my possibilities. Surely there was something else that needed to be another color! Elena quickly took the house off the list; for some reason, she didn’t want a coating of multi-colored paint laden with rust specks. Ditto for the deck, cars and driveway. The lawn, too. So, like any dutiful husband, I blame her for what ensued.

I was considering my very options when a Greenpeace activist came to the door to talk about fracking. Sorry, yes, I admit: It is indeed inappropriate to sign a petition with a paint roller. The young lady left our doorstep a Beigepeace activist. Didn’t her mother teach her not to talk to strangers?

Next, I walked into the backyard to have a talk with the neighbors’ dogs. I reasoned that the mongrels would better hear their masters’ voice if they had, um, a communications upgrade. It took a few minutes, but I now live next door to the world’s first Bluetooth-enabled Chihuahua. Especially after the four-legged doofus got the bright idea to run off with a brush dripping with Cobalt Blue paint in his mouth.

Apparently, during that exchange I’d also painted over the glass of my moral compass—which, considering the circumstances, pointed me in just the right direction. It was high time for a drive. I loaded up the car with all eight cans and an armful of brushes.

The Redbox DVD-rental kiosk, at least in our local supermarket, is now Graybox. Some kids outside who were wearing Red Sox hats are now White-Sox fans—not that it’s an improvement. The nearest White Castle burger joint is now Olive-Green Castle. (It matches the hue of the customers’ faces.) And although I realized I had the wrong colors to paint the town red, I could do wonders across the river in Orange County.

My plans were going fine till I had too close a brush with the boys in blue—er, marigold. I’d now had only a half-gallon left, though I realized it would now take some doing to paint anything with handcuffs on. A big van pulled up, and some fellows in white walked toward me. Hmmm, they’d look much better in—

I’ve solved our problem, but in the process spawned another. It’s now my turn to go away…somewhere. I’ve already been told the walls are soothing pastels. They like them just fine.


  1. Ed! Did you paint the neighborhood Chihuahua blue? And what's up with GrassBGreen (the link for painting the lawn)? The product info says it's non-toxic but doesn't list what's in the paint. Just know it's safe because they say so!

    Enjoy your padded, pastel room - sounds like a nice place to spend the holiday season...

  2. Thanks for reading, Sharon! Oh, I tried; Chihuahuas are quick! That's when he ran away with the brush. And that lawn painting? I can't be any unsafe than painting an activist. Poor girl.

    My room is very nice, though its colors leave something to be desired. I have put in a request for a small box of crayons, say, of the 4,096-crayon variety. I've not yet heard back.