"Bread and water will do for now."

I would have willingly sold my soul for a pair of pliers, or gladly forfeited my kingdom, or so I swore. The contractor doesn't work weekends, no matter how close to the end we stand, which means we have only the tools I thought to bring before the job began. Next time, I swear, I'm bringing my own pliers and screwdrivers. The Muse and I arrive at more or less our usual time because we're the owners and ownership doesn't come with days off. The neighbors head off to church but we're strictly secular this Sunday, focused upon painting interior windows and trim. We'd come by on the rainy Saturday before to get started, her priming, me putting finish coats on frame exteriors. This sunny Sunday should allow us space to prep a window frame and finish coat all the windows so the contractor can reinstall them Monday morning.

The Muse works on the new window, a futuristic job with "easily" removable panes. (Easily if you know the trick, which I don't and likely never will.)
It replaced a perennially-sweating, formerly-futuristic sealed double-paned job some past owner installed during the misbegotten seventies makeover, the one current efforts have pretty much erased from the face this Earth. I'm working with the original-to-the-house double hungs, ones I've wrestled with before. She's working with fresh, previously unpainted wood. I'm working with wood that still carries the kitchen's original yellow, hidden beneath a half dozen worse colors, some behaving like rubber cement beneath the sander's oscillating spin. I've leaned through these panes before and accidentally dropped tools through the saw horse-mounted frames. I'm no rookie with these anymore and I find myself extremely self-conscious. I move with the shaky caution of a door-to-door nitroglycerine salesman, understanding that one false move could betray us both.

I'd saved one frame a decade ago, when it had turned squishy from Internal Sweat Disorder, caused by too-tightly sealing it within its slides. I'd nursed it back to solidity with epoxy and love, and I'm delighted to see that it's become the most solid of the four I prep this day. I re-experience the naive enthusiasm fueling our first encounter. This one's an old friend now. We're short on space and we dedicate the floor between half-installed cabinets to lay the window frames on their backs to prevent top coat droop. It's awkward setting them down upon the plastic we laid down to protect our precious new floor. I stumble with one and catch myself laying one hand and about half my off-balance weight squarely in the middle of that old friend's glass. Nothing cracks, Thank God, a sure sign that even offering to sell my soul for a pair of pliers on a sunny Sunday morning hasn't cursed me in the eyes of God yet. That's a huge yet.

I figure there must be a near infinite number of ways to worship, and a nearly infinite number of Gods from which to choose for worshiping purposes, and that's without even resorting to adoring the many varieties of mammon and base vanity. The neighbors have always trundled off to church on Sunday mornings, leaving me puttering in the yard, feeling slightly soiled. Would it kill me to put on a suit and tie for the purposes of fellowship with others? Does my pruning and puttering qualify as devotion enough to some power superior to my own more meager sort? Does saving a dew-rotted window frame qualify as good enough works or must I publicly demonstrate my life-long inability to sight read hymns? How does one simultaneously decipher the always unremembered third verse, the one hidden near the middle of the stack of six, far enough removed from the musical notation to require a man with two brains and two sets of eyes to real-time interpret? Maybe the willingness to stand and at least pretend to sing along amounts to adequate mustard seed demonstration of that mysterious faith. I don't know.

I'm not lounging around in my kitty pajamas, but wearing my nearly worn out work jeans. Legs streaked with paint, thighs threadbare from repeatedly wiping those gritty little chips scraped from freshly painted surfaces with my 5-In-1. My gloves are losing their fingertips again, the second pair this long month. By mid-afternoon, I move like a devotional zombie between our hastily purpose-built stations of a curious cross, checking dryness like a genuflecting monk, whispering a private mantra, an old Rogers and Hart tune ear worming its way near the very back of my consciousness. "A fine romance, with no kisses …" A brisk breeze and bright almost Spring sun convincingly dries each coat almost before I've finished applying it, but I wait a reverent hour between coats anyway, focusing my fluid attention between a hazy half dozen objects of varying adoration. I forgot to eat lunch again. Bread and water will do for now.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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