Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Miracle

The house we're renting was built in 1928, impressively old by Miami standards.  Some months back, Becky and I decided we should remove the decades of accumulated paint before we chose our own pallet.

Okay, it was my brilliant idea.  Blame me 100%.  But the windowsills are flaking without our help, and previous peeling has obviously been painted over.  None of the doors close because of the accumulated layers.  The crown molding has no detail, and the corners sag with frozen drips.  Apart from the floors - oak in the front rooms, pine in the bedrooms - the house's wood energy is suffocating beneath years of latex and lead.

Little did I know how difficult it would be to remove.  

Five days of work spread over several months later...
Work is nothing without a deadline, so we invited Becky's family for Christmas brunch at our place.  Dylan stayed with his Abuelo and Abuela.  Becky and I could work all night if we wanted.

"So we'll be tired," I said, "so what?"

Well paint-scraping tired is not writing tired, or internet-surfing tired, or drinks-with-friends tired.  It is where-did-that-cut-come-from, aches-in-muscles-and-tendons-you-never-knew-you-had, making-a-fist-hurts-like-hell strung out exhausted, especially after a few hellish weeks of holiday retail.

This hurts.
We worked until three AM Thursday night then popped up at eight Friday morning.  We scraped until we physically and emotionally could scrape no more, until no amount of willpower would force our muscles to obey.  One cabinet is better than nothing.

We hit one cabinet with chalkboard in a can and painted the walls Chianti (Behr S-H-150).  The other cabinet, baseboards, and trim will wait for another day.

Through dividing and conquering, we managed to get the dining room not just presentable but lovely, while picking up paychecks, cleaning, and grocery shopping for the brunch.  We also learned that even exhausted at three am, we're a great team.
Oddly enough, the red is so rich that it makes the last few layers of paint to be scraped look like a deliberate attempt to be distressed and antique-looking.  We were praised to heaven for the look.  It's a nice thought but I doubt we'll go with it, particularly when only one more day of work will give us a finished room.  Well, maybe two days.

Either way, we can't let the paint win.


  1. Last year I had the great idea to paint the exterior of the house as a family proyect...Ha, ha, ha...Thank God for my 21 year-old cousin, if not we would had not finished. I wish you and Becky a Happy New Year...You guys are awesome! Felicidades from Cristina.

  2. I don't know if ya'll are insane or inspirational. Maybe both.

    "Jew bagels"... totally racist.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Cristina, it's like the Tar Baby. You stick your hand in to fix something and it ends up sucking everything into it. Felicidades!

    Kim, I figured someone would pick up on Jew Bagels. The Jewish deli by the Quiroga's house has supplied them with fresh bagels on Christmas since Becky was a child. I actually expected the place to be called "Jew Bagels," but no. They say it to distinguish it from other bagel places which aren't quite up to par.

    Yet every time I hear it, something inside me cringes.

    Same with French Toast.

  4. I think it's the distinction between Jew and JewISH. Jew isn't often used in anything other than a derogatory way. But hey, they DO make great bagels!

  5. Well I know a Jew who doesn't mind, so that makes it okay.