Saturday, June 17, 2006

Paint, Paint Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink

June 17th: Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

When we moved to East-Central Illinois for graduate school, we wanted to buy a house. We knew that I would be in graduate school for a number of years. We wanted to havekids and a yard for them to run in. We also wanted to leave here with some money to put into a house when I get a real job. Paying rent in an apartment accomplishes approximately none of those goals, so we got a short term apartment, and found a house to buy by the end of my second semester. To put it charitably, we found a fixer-upper. I won't list all of the problems the house had, but when we started looking for someone to fix the roof, someone came to give us an estimate, looked at the living room and asked me when we were moving in. We'd lived there for two months, I think, by then.

The biggest hassle early on in the renovation process was getting carpet installed in the living room. It was quite a struggle. Over a two month span, tears were shed, store managers were threatened, hair was lost.
Eventually, we received a pale sand coloured, cut Berber, with multi-coloured flecks to help hide the eventual stains. Since we plan on leaving here someday, and making a good profit in the house, keeping the carpet nice is somewhat of a life-mission of Riley's. The Garage-Sale Scene is hopping here, and one of her best finds has been a twice-used Carpet Cleaner for $20.

Unfortunately, it seems like whenever we lend it to someone, we need it for some emergency. I think the last time, we lent it to my Home-Teaching Companion, and that night my three-year-old, the Maestro, got sick and threw up chocolate milk just inside the doorway to the living-room. Stuff like this happens. Riley lent it to a friend of hers who lives in the next town over. The friend ended up not using it, choosing to buy her own instead. She said she would return it Wednesday when she was in town, but she apparently forgot.

Thursday night, Riley put our one-year-old daughter, Hildr, to bed, and went out to do some errands. She was going to return some things off she had borrowed, drop off library books go to the hardware store to pick up paint and shoe-molding, and go to the grocery store. I certainly didn't expect her back before 11:00. The paint and shoe-molding are for our wreck-room, the poorly-converted garage that is the last stage in the multi-year process of making our house something Riley will let people see. She had just finished priming the walls, with what I thought was all of two gallons of primer.

The Maestro and I were in the wreck-room after she left. He had found the empty cans of primer, and placed them atop two 5 gallon food-storage buckets. He was giving a bongo concert, playing along with Great Big Sea. It was hot, because the air-conditioner hadn't been on in that room, so I asked The Maestro if he wanted to go in the house, where it was cooler. He thought that was a great idea, because he could play bongos along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas DVD. "The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy" features the Steel Drums, and THE BONGOS!!! I took the food storage buckets, and he carried the empty paint cans. He told me that he was using his strong muscles to lift them. I said good for him.

We set up his bongos in the living room, in front of the computer, so he could watch the DVD. I was going to start cleaning the kitchen, but hadn't yet, when he came screaming past me yelling "I SPILLED!!!" I looked over and saw the empty paint can lying on its side, with probably 1/3 to 1/2 of a gallon oozing out, down the side of the drum stand bucket, and into our pale sand-coloured, cut Berber, with multi-coloured flecks in it to hide the eventual stains. I would say that "I saw, to my horror..." but horror doesn't begin to describe what was going on in the depths of my gut. I'm not sure how to describe how I felt. I don't think it was my life flashing before my eyes, at the thought of Riley coming home and seeing what I had helped The Maestro to do to our living room. I think it was more my death flashing before my eyes, at the thought of Riley coming home to see this.

So then The Maestro started to yell louder "Clean me!" and I realized that he has run and taken refuge in his favourite chair, the burgundy reclining Wing-back, and that he and now it are both covered in white odor and stain-blocking primer. As I hauled him, hopefully not dripping, down the hallway to put him in the tub, I remembered our carpet-cleaner was out of town, I don't have a car, and I am going to die. Then I thought of the nearest carpet-cleaner, which belongs to another of Riley's friends. I put The Maestro in the tub, turned on the water, and told him to wash himself off. I called and gave the friend the synopsis -- I have paint all over my living room, no car, no cleaner -- Can she help me. She agreed to deliver the cleaner to my house immediately, if I would come out and lift it out of the trunk.

I cleaned The Maestro off, mostly, and set him watching Bob the Builder, while I spread water around in a mostly vain effort to keep things from drying, until the carpet-cleaner arrived. A few things to keep in mind for what comes next: The Maestro likes watching Bob the Builder very much; It was probably his bed-time by now, which means his ability to adapt to change patiently was greatly diminished; The Maestro has auditory- defensiveness, which means that he doesn't cope well with loud things like vacuums and carpet-cleaners, especially when he is tired. So when I turned off his video, told him to go to his room, and turned on the loud machine, he reacted like you might expect a three-year-old to react. He stood in his doorway, screaming, and pounding on the wall with a drum-stick. This woke-up Hildr, who started screaming, which made three of us, and I couldn't do anything to calm any of us down until the paint stopped oozing into the carpet.

By the time Riley got home, I had the carpet cleaned, and the kids back to bed. I was laying, not quite in the fetal-position, on the floor, with my emotional stability wrung out to the last drop. She didn't kill me.

To sum up: I got the paint out of the carpet, where it spilled; off the piano, where it splashed; off the kitchen cabinet, where it dribbled when I put the still dripping empty paint can in the sink. The Wingback was completely ruined, and the area rug that was dribbled on on the way to the sink still needs to be shaved, and the clothes The Maestro and I were wearing will probably testify of this experience for the rest of their lives. The Maestro still likes to play the drums, Riley still loves me, and the Garage-Sale Scene, which is hopping here, provided us with another living room chair this morning.

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