Rendered Fat Content


Scott Wade: Girl With A Pearl Earring, the famous Vermeer’s painting, rendered in car window dust (circa 2016)
" … one cannot successfully repaint anyplace while suspended within a blizzard of swirling dust."

Refurbishing remains first and foremost a dusty undertaking. The act of buffing up removes tarnish, which I think of as metastasized dust. Removing carpet, as I've previously mentioned, reveals a layer of fine dust more resembling talcum powder than dirt. Further, the whole house gets covered in a fine fresh layer of the stuff, even the HVAC system and its ducts. Countertops gain a slick surface as if lightly oiled, but that's dust lubricating. Even my body carries a fine layer of it. My fingertips slide over my thumb top as if they were teflon coated. We've sworn to just live with it until the project's finished. There never was any point to trying to keep up. The vacuum fills up until its tank weighs as much as a five pound bag of sugar but the floors and walls remain just as slick with it as they were before we began. We tell ourselves that we'll clean from top to bottom as the last act of this project and that might even happen.

Both The Muse and I grew up in places prone to dust storms.
Her Midwest upbringing sometimes featured wind storms that would leave inches of dust behind on window sills and furniture, on and into everything. Mine in the Inland Northwest never experienced anything quite that dramatic, but dust just seemed to be continuously seeping in. One needed to occasionally take down shelf displays and harvest the accumulating dust or else appear indifferent to it. I suppose that even my forebears who lived in dust floored cabins fought endless battles with dust. Opposing dust might be all that civilization ever entails. We fancy ourselves cultured largely because we're opposed to dust. We might be denying our eventual demise with this, as the Anglican Book of Common Prayer reminds us, we're nothing but dust eventually back into dust. The grim reaper more closely resembles Charles Schultz' character Pig Pen, trailing dust, not a skeleton in a tidy black robe.

Joel Our Carpenter rented an edge sander, a little monster designed to sand finishes off floors. He attacked our stairs with it and 20 grit sandpaper, but the vacuum bag that came with it featured a little slit which he could not see while operating it. I, following along behind with a big vacuum cleaner, noticed the haze ahead of me so we stopped and mended that bag with some duct tape when he was sanding the next to last step. Our new entry hall was thereby covered in a freshly fallen layer of its own history, fir steps and ancient shellac turned into dust, maybe also ashes. I fetched my face mask and commenced to frantic vacuuming, a necessary and wholly inadequate activity. My acquiescence to my fate grew a little as I fruitlessly attempted to undo another apparent act of fate. We'll do a thorough cleaning after we're all finished, I promised myself. I'm uncertain if I can be trusted to follow through, though. We'll need an army of cleaners and one of those huge vacuum trucks which will cost us big bucks. By then, we might have even come to terms with this incessant dust and decided to adopt Pig Pen's life style. If I remove my glasses, most of the worst of this infernality just disappears, anyway, or certainly appears to.

It almost seems as if we're approaching some sort of essence as we refurbish this place. We've certainly managed to make its past more explicit and bring it present. My Pop-up Paint Shoppe out in front of the garage labors beneath a thick layer of sanding dust produced when I sanded all the paint off three rooms' baseboards. I want to just hose down the tent and everything in it, but I'll more likely attempt to vacuum and sweep it up. I've been trying to keep up with it, but the tables where I set my tools need to be stripped bare, swept, and those tools wiped down, even the half-empty paint cans need a good thorough cleaning. I've been so focused upon producing dust that I've neglected some of my responsibility for managing it. Once one makes explicit any implicit past, one must expect some emergent ramifications, in this case, enough dust to produce another task on the urgent to-do list: clean up this damned dust before it does us all in.

Kurt Our Painter has remained patient and wise, reflecting that prime coats can always be sanded off before adding final top coats, but one cannot successfully repaint anyplace while suspended within a blizzard of swirling dust, but we're trying. He fled to the Pop-up Paint Shoppe to prime baseboards and trim while Joel sanded stairs and I stood refurbishing another door front in the dust.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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