Rendered Fat Content


Paula Rego: Geppetto Washing Pinocchio (1996)
"It will be a wonder if we're ever finished."

We tend to insure against big events, even though small occurrences seem to be the more likely to do us in. Through this Grand Refurbish, I've kept my eye on our paint inventory, understanding that availability could stall our forward progress. If anything, I've over-bought paint, figuring that I could always use any extra. Just yesterday, while recounting what I imagined to be our inventory of ceiling paint, I caught myself over-estimating remaining stocks. I immediately called the paint store and ordered two more gallons. Better to have too much than to discover that we have none when we need it. The whole affair seems in delicate and unlikely balance. We never sat down and imagined together what might be coming. We adopted instead the hunter/gatherer's ethic, which more resembles the old and often surprisingly reliable hunt and peck method. We've successfully poked at progress so far.

But small things have been our bane, or at least mine.
I'm less resilient—not really knowing what I've been doing—than the professionals we've hired to help. As a novice, I imprint upon a single solution and stick to that, which leaves me Stalled when I encounter a barrier. Further, I hold a limited notion of available alternatives. I'm unaware of the latitude of my potential choices. I don't know about substitutions. I stick to a solution even after it's proven unworkable, and I frustrate myself into minor depressions, feeling especially cursed sometimes. And so it was with remounting doors. I was careful to note along the top or bottom the origin of each. I figured that even if they were originally essentially all the same, their more than a century since original installation might well have resulted in some variation between them. I wanted to take no chances, so I took careful notes. The new lock sets are of the highest quality and I figured that they would be much less likely to bedevil me than might cheaper imitations. They were different than what they replaced, and the difference dictated some additional preparation work. Our Carpenter Joel had to drill broader holes for them to fit, and even then, the lock plate didn't quite cover the larger circular hole where the old lockset sat. A thin crescent of daylight shone through around one edge on each side.

Putty has been my enduring friend through this Grand Refurbish. Kurt Our Painter introduced me to a whole different class of fillers, ones which didn't shrink, dried quickly, and remained both strong and sandable. I'd liberally painted door faces with the stuff and marveled at how well it resolved old wounds, so my mind immediately turned toward the black plastic container of putty when considering how to eliminate that tell-tale crescent of daylight beside my lock plates. I liberally filled, figuring I could sand away any excess and produce a perfectly flat result. The first patch failed, as did the second. Each attempt left me stalled as I waited overnight for the putty to thoroughly cure only to find that it hadn't. I found that I couldn't quite focus upon any other aspect of the effort while my serial experiments in fixing this trivial shortcoming continued. I'd fiddle for five whole minutes then leave the mess to cure while I retired from the field. Kurt continued painting. Joel continued carpentering. I laid on the couch imagining what I might do next after I completed this fix. I'd have another nine or ten door fronts to treat once I figure out how to fix the difficulty. That next attempt also failed me.

I called Joel into emergency conference with the disappointing door face before us. We would consider alternatives, including filling in and redrilling all the holes in the door face. After months of preparation, to be thwarted by an eighth inch crescent of a daylight imperfection called into question my whole contribution. My refurbishing might not have been perfect, but it was also, apparently, not even perfect enough. Joel mentioned an epoxy putty which he claimed to have used with great success in similar situations. It sets in fifteen minutes, remains sandable and paintable, and holds in place forever. The Muse and I headed for The Despot to score a sample. She finally found it disguised as something different. I'll try it later this morning.

It was a trivial thing, really, a tiny sliver of an imperfection that stretched that first lockset installation into nine days so far. If this tactic doesn't resolve it, I'll remain stalled and embarrassed. I remember reading about The Lewis and Clark Expedition and how that crew ran out of shoes after their first month or so. They were on the move so they couldn't rest while fresh shoe leather cured, so they continued barefoot in earnest, even hiking across Eastern Montana cactus flats indifferent to the thorns piercing their feet every step of their way. I'm not anything like an intrepid explorer. I'm more the guy who loses the war for the lack of a horseshoe nail. I lose my thread then lose my shirt then just feel Stalled. I become like a lost little boy then, in need of a friendly hand, a handy solution I would never imagine on my own. It's inevitably some small thing, never a catastrophe, not even something worth noticing until it halts forward progress. I become a coward and cower in response. I burn daylight with careless abandon. I feel like much less than half a man until some insight resolves the problem. It will be a wonder if we're ever finished.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver