Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Interior Painting Project Part 7

Fixing a hole (apologies to Paul McCartney):

I'm painting my room in the colourful way
And when my mind is wandering
There I will go
Ooh ooh ooh ah ah
Hey, hey, hey, hey

This Sunday my younger son and I rested from our painting labors.  I did some minor preparation for painting the living room this week by removing four antiquated television antenna outlets and ethernet outlets and patching their holes in the wallboard.  This was one more step toward my goal of making my townhouse look less like a outdated playground for a 1980s electronics nerd. 

My patching approach began by inserting skinny pieces of plywood in the holes as backing for the patching compound.  The hole on the right already has its backing screwed in place.

The next step was to apply patching compound with a putty knife.  Unfortunately, I got excited and inadvertently applied some light-weight spackle designed for shallow repairs instead of the appropriate patching compound my younger son had bought.

At this point it's too soon to tell whether I have filled the holes with something that will take forever to dry, something that will resemble thick pudding for days to come.  No doubt this will trouble my dreams tonight.

The Interior Painting Project Part 6

Finishing the living room ceiling

Today my younger son and I finished the living room ceiling by adding a second coat of paint.  As usual, my son did most of the work; but he briefly turned over the roller to me so that I could try my hand at painting an area of the ceiling that didn't get much direct light.

Our equipment consisted of a roller fastened to a four-foot pole, a 5 gallon bucket filled with about three inches of paint, and a roller screen.

(picture stolen from the excellent website

He handed me the pole and I proceeded to make a succession of novice paint rolling errors:

Error 1:  I didn't load the roller with paint evenly. 

I had watched painting videos and knew to dip the roller into the paint at the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket and run the roller up and down the roller screen.  Despite my efforts, the side of the roller that got dipped remained soaked with paint; the other side remained relatively dry.  The result was that the roller laid down a corrugated pattern: heavy-light-heavy-light.  My son immediately spotted this error and showed me how to correctly use the roller screen.  With this error out of the way, I was ready to commit Error 2.

Error 2: I pressed the roller too hard on the ceiling. 

The result was that whenever I started a stroke, I squeezed out a drippy blob of paint.  My son told me to use a lighter touch when beginning.  So far, so good.  On to Error 3.

Error 3:  I didn't keep the roller perfectly horizontal on the ceiling. 

I tended to lean a bit to the right.  The result was that the roller stroke would be heavier on right and thinner on the left.  My son noticed that I was laying down a striped pattern and cautioned me to keep the roller level.

Error 4:  Instead of laying down parallel lines of paint with the roller, my lines tended to wiggle about. 

This error bothered my son the most, because I was corrupting the straight lines he had painted earlier.  He ended up spending more time fixing this error than I spent committing it.

Happily, when my son finally called it quits, the ceiling looked fine.  Here is a picture of the freshly painted ceiling.  We used a paint that is light purple when first applied and then dries to Ultra White.  A faint purple is still visible.

Tomorrow we start preparing the walls for painting.  Preparation involves cleaning, patching, texturing, and priming.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Interior Painting Project Part 5

Ceiling texture and paint

Today was the day to fix bare spots in the texture of the living room ceiling.  I searched the internet for ways to repair texture and settled on the Homax ceiling texture spray can.

The can's directions advised making a practice try on a scrap board or a piece of cardboard.  I took the can and a cardboard box to the garage.  I set the box up on an overhead rack. so that the bottom of the box simulated my living room ceiling.

I cautiously pushed the button.  A watery spray spat out of the can.  The result was a gloppy mess dripping from the box onto the garage floor.

My younger son stood in the doorway silently watching me.  He said, "Try again, but this time keep the can farther away from the box, don't let up on the trigger, and keep the spray moving."  (In his typical polite way, he was telling me to step up and spray like a man.)

I applied his advice on my next attempt.  A smooth pattern of texture dots appeared on the bottom of the box.  Success!  I went to the living room and made short work of fixing all the bare spots on the ceiling.

Leaving the texture repairs to dry, we ran off to do errands all afternoon.  Then, after a home-made Sichuan meal of spicy tofu and broccoli over Japanese-seasoned rice, my son and I returned to the living room to tackle painting the first coat on the ceiling.

My son volunteered for the skill work of applying the paint with a roller.  As the roller cannot apply paint any closer to the wall than the roller radius, this radius distance must be "cut in" using a brush.  My job was to cut in this border so that my son would have a wet edge to work with when he came along with the roller.

We made good progress but ran out of paint about two thirds of the way through the first coat.

Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Interior Painting Project Part 4

Selection of living room paint

My younger son has finally come forward with his recommendation for paint colors on the living room walls.  The colors are Valspar Brioche (orange) and Valspar Black Evergreen (pretty much black).  The scrap board shown leaning against the living room wall is painted with test samples of these two paints.

The orange will be the predominant color of the living room and should brighten things up nicely.  The black will be an accent color.

Given my son's aptitude for design -- the ability to assemble pieces into a harmonious whole -- I have no doubt that his color choices will yield a pleasing result.  My only concern is that he has chosen the team colors for the Cincinnati Bengals.

With this color scheme, my townhouse may be unmarketable to rabid Denver Broncos fans.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Interior Painting Project Part 3

Choosing the paint color

My younger son and I went to Lowe's hardware store to chose paint for the living room walls.  I knew what I wanted: paint that was dark enough to contrast with the fireplace mantel and that had a yellow hue to blend with the laminate flooring.  I knew what I didn't want: the same drab shade of mustard yellow currently on the living room walls.

I fidgeted for an hour in front of the racks of paint samples deliberating on the color choice.  I oscillated between various shades of yellow, brown, and tan.  My younger son stood patiently by and offered no opinions of his own.  Finally, I forced myself to pick a color and asked the paint clerk to make me a 6 oz. test sample.

When we got home, my son dipped his finger in the test sample and smeared it on the wall where the old thermostat once resided.

I couldn't have picked any color at Lowe's that more closely matched the current mustard yellow color on my walls.  A chromatic blunder!

This blunder came as no surprise to my son, who described my process of paint selection as "The Stockholm Syndrome" of interior design.   I lean toward whatever is familiar, no matter how aesthetically poor it is.

The Interior Painting Project Part 2

I chose a paint sample called Valspar Birchwood White from Lowe's hardware store.

The Lowe's expert, a retired painter, urged me to buy one can of Birchwood White and conduct an experiment.  He suggested that I paint a scrap board and then carry the board from room to room to see the paint's color in all kinds of light and in proximity to the other colored surfaces in the townhouse (e.g., kitchen cabinets, the laminate flooring, the ceilings).  Better to check for weird color clashes before I commit to purchasing many cans of paint.

Here is the freshly painted test board at 10:00 p.m. tonight, as viewed by lamp light.  The color appears to be a cheerful off-white.  But how will it look during the daytime?

I am off work for 18 days during this Christmas break and am looking forward to this painting adventure.  I don't recall any previous time in my adult life where I had 18 straight days when I wasn't being told what to do by some professor or boss.  This will be an interesting and instructive foretaste of retirement.

[Updates from 12/17/2015:

To be completely accurate, I had two months off in 1984 when nobody was telling me what to do.  This was the period when I was laid off during the first oil shale boom. 

The Valspar Birchwood White color mentioned above had a bit of red in it and made the fireplace mantel appear a sickly pale green by contrast.  I was fortunate to evaluate the paint sample before making a major paint buy.  More paint research is needed.]

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Interior Painting Project Begins

Right in the middle of The Great Bicycle Build, I have injected another project: The Interior Painting Project.  You gasp in astonishment.  Two concurrent projects, really?  Yes, it's madness!

I feel the need to make changes in my life.  The first step in this change process will be to rid my townhouse of the familiar mustard-colored interior paint in favor of some sprightly off-white with a hint of red.  (It's obvious that I approach life changes very slowly and cautiously.  If Christopher Columbus had my disposition, he would have stopped at the Canary Islands, shrugged his shoulders, and called it good enough.)

Here are two views of my living room as it currently appears.  The first view was from the back.  The second view was taken from the entry way as I leaned over the partition.  

 My younger son and I are making preparations to paint the ceiling a fresher shade of white (a whiter shade of pale?).  Next week we will start on the walls.

My son has an urge to add some dramatic color to the fireplace.  I, however, am comfortable with its current bland look and am skeptical of fireplace drama.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ashley Sterne Look Before You Leap

This short sketch was published on 15 May 1920 in The Journal (Adelaide, SA). 

There is an artful use of the subjunctive in the paragraph below that begins “Of course, you will think this a very drastic measure to take…” Read slowly and savor it.

The word “parti” in the final paragraph sent me scurrying for the dictionary.  The word, chiefly used in England, means an excellent match.


[By Ashley Sterne]

I always get frightened when leap year comes round. I feel as if I want somebody to hold my hand, ply me periodically with sal-volatile, old liqueur brandy, Milton, Stilton, or other, approved stimulants and whisper, "Courage, mon brave" (or the same thing in English would do) into my ear at intervals.

This year I am more frightened than ever before: frightened, I must explain, not that damsels will refrain from proposing to me, but frightened that they may. In fact, I feel sure that already more than one maiden has her eye on me, especially a certain one whom I encountered at a dance the other night.

When I was first introduced to her, just after I had got my elbow entangled in her back hair during a fox trot, I thought I was being introduced to a set of freckles, but subsequent investigation showed that she really had got a face concealed behind them. I asked her if she'd ever tried rub them out with pumice-stone, and thinking doubtless that I really took an interest in her facial structure, my remark apparently gave her an excuse to get intimate with me.

Among other things I gathered that she had worked very hard at an engagement all last summer, but that the victim had escaped by being taken back into the army on compassionate grounds. It isn't every man, you know, who can thoroughly understand freckles and appreciate them at their face value.

I carried her shoes home for her after the dance, and next morning she called round to express the hope that I was not too fatigued after my exertions of the previous evening, though whether she was referring to the labour of carrying a pair of size nines for a mile and a half, or to my frantic struggles at the buffet with men much older and bigger than me in order to procure the 17 meringues she consumed during the evening, is a moot point.

My next move is to call and see her parents and demand to know what their daughter's intentions are, for if they are matrimonial I am going to leave the neighbourhood secretly, on tiptoe, with muffled oars, the very next dark night.

Of course, you will think this a very drastic measure to take merely to avoid a proposal. You will probably wonder why I don't let the proposal buzz along in due course, and then just turn it down with kindly courtesy and promise the wench to be a brother to her, a second cousin german, a step-uncle, a solicitor — anything else she likes, in fact. But you have probably forgotten the fact that if a lady propose in leap year and be rejected it is a point of honour with the gentleman to present his disappointed suitress with a silk dress.

Now this silk dress business is going to be a costly affair with prices at their present high level and a 42-hour week for silk worms, and I am not at all sure that it wouldn't work out cheaper in the long run to accept the proposal and have the lady for keeps. A husband is not legally bound to clothe his wife in silk.

However, I think I shall be able to protect myself against any serious financial loss with the aid of my widowed housekeeper, Mrs. Danks. A man who is already engaged is certainly at liberty to refuse other proposals without forfeit, and I have therefore decided to procure a legally drawn-up agreement with Mrs. Danks to the effect that for a small monetary consideration she shall be betrothed to me for the year 1920 only.

And this device will, of course, not only protect me from the assaults of the freckled damsel, but from those of other adventuresses who may have already marked me down as a desirable parti. it is pretty well known in my neighbourhood that I have a whole War Savings Certificate, which has only three more years to l run before I come in for One Pound Sterling, and there is a persistent rumour that I have got several lumps of sugar saved up. I shall not long remain unsought after.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ashley Sterne Too Long!

Today I had a trying day at work.  Fortunately, I have just found refreshment with this comic sketch by Ashley Sterne.  The sketch was published in The Journal (Adelaide, SA) on 17 July 1920.


[By Ashley Sterne]

In my opinion it was a very good story; and I ought to know because I wrote it. It had a "strong love interest” — my hero had already committed bigamy and was contemplating committing trigonometry with my heroine, who was engaged to four gentlemen simultaneously. You couldn't have a much stronger love interest than that. The plot, too, had "plenty of incident." On the very first page there was a panic on the Stock Exchange and a water-spout; on the second there was an eruption of Vesuvius and an epidemic of mumps; while on the following pages there was a gas explosion, a blizzard, a railway accident, a runaway steamroller, and a chess tournament. I don't suppose there ever was a story which had quite so much incident in it.

*          *         *

So I showed it to an editor. He liked my story; he liked my handwriting; he liked the paper it was written on; he liked the ink I used; he liked the strong love interest; he fairly gloated over the wealth of incident. But it was too long. If I would cut out a couple of thousand words. . .  Accordingly I took my story away and cut out the hero's second wife, one of the heroine's fiances, the waterspout, and then carried it back. Meantime the editor had died. They turned me over to the new editor. He, too. liked my story and the paper and the ink, and the remains of the love interest, and the incidents. But it was too long. If I would cut out a couple of thousand words. . .   So I went home and cut out the hero's first wife, took away another fiance from the heroine, and did away with the blizzard, and several of the mumps. Then I took it back to the editor's office. It was closed. The magazine had "shut down." Served them right. If the editor had only taken my story when he had the chance that magazine might have lived happily ever afterwards.

*         *         *

There was no help for it but to take it to another editor. I did. He liked my story almost better than the other editors did. There was only one thing against it — it was a trifle too long, and he was already late for his third lunch. Would I therefore cut out a few words, say a couple of thousand? Then he would be delighted to accept it. Once again I set to work, and made the hero a widower, and gave the heroine no fiances at all. I also took out the eruption of Vesuvius, and the chess tournament. Then I took it back. The editor was still alive and the magazine had not "shut down." Yet my story never got taken. No. The magazine had "changed its policy."' It had ceased to be a magazine of fiction, and had become an organ for propaganda on bimetallism. In vain I offered to make my hero an unmitigated bimetallist and introduce an "incident" on Wall Street where frantic stockbrokers bid six dollars for an English sovereign. They said the idea expressed the true spirit of bimetallism, but it wasn't exactly propaganda. I found another editor hiding behind his desk. He had heard me trying to find him. However, he read my story, and liked it even better than all the other editors put together. He wanted to take it and read it to the proprietors then and there, only — “

"I know," I said. "It's too long. I’ll take out a couple of thousand words — “

"Exactly," he said. "Then it will do capitally."

I took out two thousand words. I dispensed with the hero and heroine entirely, and cut out all the remaining incidents. And then — well, there really wasn't enough story left to take back to the editor. I didn't feel I ought to bother him with only eleven words.

But they appeared in print all the same.

All that was left of my story was published last Christmas, and had a tremendous circulation. People actually struggled with one another to get hold of it. It made its appearance as a motto in a Christmas cracker.