The Devil Holds a Paintbrush


Since the demise of Drippy, God rest his feline soul, we’ve been meaning to spruce up the mudroom, ie, banish memories of that cat’s gastrointestinal indiscretions.

It’s time for a major makeover and what good news: I’m an excellent painter. (Sounds “Rainman,” doesn’t it? But I am an excellent painter.) Not that it’s rocket science, mind you. It’s just that certain others living under this roof paint wily-nily — dripping and spattering paint everywhere before abandoning said project to watch Star Trek. I, on the other hand, am been blessed with patience to paint.

My subject awaits:
What a pigsty.


Day 1, late April: Road trip to the hardware store. Yellow’s always been my go-to color, but I randomly reach for a blue chip among sea of samples. Purchase paint & brushes. $148. Ouch.

Day 2: Prep time. I pull the guts out of the mudroom and onto the deck. Orange cones, deflated football, work boot, bug spray, gloves, grilling utensils…. How did we fit so much crap into such a small space? I corral crap into an orderly pile.

A little later: Prep walls. With broom attack 8 years of dead bugs, dog/cat hair, mud, muck and dust trapped in nooks and crevices.

15 minutes later: New strategy: paint over hair, bugs and dust bunnies.

Day 3: Friday, stunning day. Radio blaring, dog dozing. Life is good. Clapboard walls soak up paint but it looks good, aside from lumps where hair/bugs are captured by paint brush and entombed permanently on the wall. Paint can becomes chunky with bugs.

3 hours later: This is torture. I’m not even once around the room…not to mention trim for 4 windows and 2 doors. Weekend project, was I crazy?

Day 4: Saturday night. Normal people are dining and partying. I’m dripping sweat, tottering on a ladder, slathering paint on wall. Didn’t think about a drop cloth so floor is starting to look Dalmation-like.
Martin observes snail-pace progress “Is that flat paint?” I stare dumbly in response. “You should use glossy, it looks better and is easier to clean.” I consider bludgeoning Martin with paintbrush, then concede he’s right.

Midnight: it’s pouring rain. On all the crap I left on the deck.

A Monday, 2 weeks later: Recovering from painting burn-out with new outlook: I imagine I’m in prison and have no choice but to paint or face beating by warden and assault by other inmates. Somehow this is comforting.

Wednesday: Walls complete. Time to start ceiling says warden in my head. Dog mocks me by sunbathing while I toil away.

Thursday: Ceiling paint goes on like glue and tires out my right arm. Attempt to use left hand but it behaves spasmotically; uncontrollably paints electrical outlet and window.

Goodbye dingy yellow…

Week 4: Radio is making me lose will to live with continuous loop of repetitive ads. Mervis ships its diamonds from factory to finger and passes the savings along to YOU!… Are you looking to improve your computer skills?… Want to own your own house for $20k? There’s deals in foreclosure homes! … Have you ever wanted to be bigger? To last longer?…

Week 5: Walls and ceiling done. On to trim. Hmm, can see why previous owners painted everything the same color. Consider the Mr. Bean style of painting:

Week 6: Aside from prison scenario, pass time thinking up jobs worse than painting. Let see… Toll booth operator in the truck lane. Quality control tester for laxative products. Elmo character in costume at DisneyWorld during summer. Tour manager for Barry Manilow. No — scratch that — tour manager for Air Supply.

Memorial Day: Deadline for project completion has come and gone for umpteenth time. Did I ever think this would be fun?

June 1rst: I’m in the final stretch — just bench tops. Planned to use accent color but didn’t account for my lack of taste. Strike one, clash city:

Strike 2, just hideous:


June 3rd: Phew! Finally a color I can work with!

I am officially done with my 3-day-turned-6-week project. Behold:


I’ve thrown off my painting shackles — Free at last, free at last!!

Actually, I’m a little sad to pack up the ladder and brushes. Looking back on it, that project wasn’t so bad…

Farewell, old friend. You served me well…