08 April 2006


Oh man, am I ever a sucker for a nice, rainy Saturday. Especially in April. Rainy Saturdays in November are full of stark reminders of the winter to come, that-which-must-be-endured. Our eyes are still getting used to the lack of leaves on those blackened overgrown sticks we thought all summer were trees, and we wonder if we should get the chimney swept this year, buy batteries and water for storms, dry clean our sweaters.

But in April the buds are just staring to poke out through the knotty black skin of the beach roses, if you're as lucky as I am you have crocuses and daffodils wandering aimlessly across the yard, and the birds and squirrels are doing little rumbas of joy in the driveway.

These last couple of weeks have been frenzied in their springiness -- there have been bright and warm jacket-free days and there have been freakish snow squalls. I have had to start thinking gardeny thoughts again, and once more turn my attention toward finding some reliable soul to paint the trim on my house. It's all been a little overwhelming, and I am taking today's soft grey overcoat as a sign of truce.

I know I need a day to just chill, just relax and keep myself to myself. Of course I have some things that need doing for work today, but they are fun things that do not bother me or make me feel the least bit persecuted. I can carry my mental rainy day quilt around on my shoulders all day long until it is time to return home and wrap a real quilt around my lap, fold the edges underneath me like an invalid, and hum wordless tunes of private melody to myself.


Yesterday I went to pay Dad for my continued residence in this house. He doesn't like to call it rent, because he doesn't like to think of himself as a landlord. He has also, I suspect, begun to think of this house as my house, with the minor technicality of putting it in my name a mere bagatelle to be resolved at some future date convenient to us all. Not that I am in any rush to have to worry about things like property taxes and homeowners insurance. No, no, not that at all.

But I told him that I was looking for someone to paint the trim, since I had asked him to do so for the last two years, and so far the trim has remained virginally untouched, pure in its raveled decrepitude, and now the wood is laid most immodestly bare in some places. I think Dad had asked a couple of old guys he knows who used to paint houses to "come over and take a look," in that adorably low-key, non-committal way of his. What he seems to have failed to realize is that all those guys he knows who used to paint houses are just as old as he is, and they no longer do much of anything but rumble around their houses making vague bodily noises. Just like Dad.

Sometimes Dad's adorableness is just plain ineffectuality, so I am taking the matter in my own hands, and I told him so. He raised his shoulders eloquently at me with a half smile and turned back to making us some tea. After a few moments he reminisced about the time his father needed to paint this house, but by that time Grandpa was a bit too enthusiastically overweight and drunk to undertake such a project himself. So, dad tells me fondly, he hired a bunch of good looking college girls to do the job, set up his la-z-boy chair in the front yard, and sat there, drinking and watching them contentedly.

I seem to recall being similarly lecherous about the fine young things who put our new roof on a couple of years ago, slender, shirtless, and spry as they ascended and descended the ladders outside my windows all day. But at least I had the modesty to stay inside.

Oh, creepy old Grandpa, I will be thinking of you as I seek out house painters in my turn, although I will use different criteria than you did, and I will not choose the depressing kelley green that you did, a shade that any honest man knows should only be seen on boat hulls, and beneath the water line, at that. Only the door from the porch to the kitchen retains this charming shade. I will ask the painters to use a more muted, less industrial shade of pale, pale green. And I will hire them based on reliability and price and estimated time of completion.

And if they should be handsome, and spry, and prone to the occasional bout of shirtlessness, who am I to judge?

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