Rendered Fat Content

Learning How

We've been learning how to repaint the house. 'Though we each had some experience with house painting before, this one's different. Really different.

The house has been the primary teacher. It winces when we do something naive. It seems to swell with something like a teacher's pride when we figure out how to do something just right.

The experience has reminded me that I am a reluctant student. I somehow never seem to be able to envision myself succeeding until I succeed -- or until just after I've succeeded. And, as I've long thought, doing well isn't the same as feeling good about the result.

I am learning on several levels. I'm getting a lot of reinforcement about just how eccentric I am in work. Amy's son, who (unlike me) is a mechanical savant, can barely bear to watch me figure stuff out. He's more amazed than I am when it turns out.

I certainly don't often feel very masterly. The windows taught me how to remove them. To strip a hundred years of layered care and neglect to find the original workmanship intact. To chisel out the old glazing putty around the glass without breaking the window. (Sometimes.) And how to replace the window when it broke. How to layer the paint to create a thirty year finish. And how to re-cord the sashes to last.

Half the work is slight of hand stuff. The misdirection intended to fool the eye. A shredded board can be made to look like new with sanding, putty, epoxy, and paint.

The primary muscle groups engaged are not between the ears. The adductors. The pull muscles on the insides of my arms ache with the deep reminder that I've done something intended to last.

I will never be the same.

The pace is agonizing, but it is the necessary pace. A day of drying between every layer. Work sandwiched between wait. Wait sandwiched between work. No rushing, no matter what the weather promises.

I have not been writing much. I have been reading while waiting and listening to books on tape while working. Curiously, painting a house is an extremely literary activity.

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