I Heart Caulk

(Whilst I was in the weeds this week, my seestor was cogitating on the same subject, and thusly smashed one out of the park. Here’s my “also ran”.)

So, I’m caulking and painting the back porch today.

I didn’t begin my day planning to caulk and paint. I started out just cleaning the back porch, and thanks to my HIADD (Home Improvement Attention Deficit Disorder) one thing led to another and next thing I knew, I had a caulking gun in my hand. Caulking and painting the back porch was possibly no higher than the top fifteen on my list of home improvement projects. Probably not in the top ten and, I would seriously guess, not the top five.

But now I don't know...let me think about this.

Top five on the money pit list:

1. Gol-damn wallpaper removal in hallway.

Yeah, I said gol-damn and I mean gol-damn. I’ve been stripping wallpaper and procrastinating on stripping wallpaper for two years now. My pitiful excuse for a front hallway looks... well, “Shabby Chic” would be far too complimentary. Schlubby Chic? Shoddy Chic?

How about “Shitty Chic”?

There you go. Shitty Chic. Get me on the phone to Martha.

Here’s my wallpaper bind.

The former owners of Chez Halushki, perhaps convinced that Avacado! was the last word in 20th century interior design, slapped up a grunge-and-orange floral wallpaper smack dab onto wallboard. No priming, no nothing. Just paper glued on paper. The paper protecting the wallboard, I want to stay; the wallpaper, I want to go. You ever try removing a piece of paper that’s been glued to another piece of paper without ripping one of the papers?

Uh huh. Okay, how about two pieces of paper that have been glued together for thirty five years? Two pieces of paper that were being continually remoistened by thirty-five swamp-humid summers, then perpetually rebaked in the smoke of twelve-thousand cartons of Chesterfields?

Yeah, now you’re with me. Let’s continue...

So, although every idjit knows that the first rule of renovation is “Don’t paint over wallpaper”, I present Exhibit A - my hallway - as the exception to that rule. I’ve tried soaking the wallpaper with hot water, with cold water, with warm water, with holy water; I’ve scored it, sliced it, scraped and diced it; I’ve sprayed it with DIF, with vinegar, fabric softener, lemon, and lemon fabric softener. If someone told me that the surefire solution were for me to stand on my head and pee through a straw, by gum, by golly, by hook and crook, I’d give it a whirl. In fact, wait right here ....

Nope. The wallpaper budged not.

And now I’ve gone and scared the cat.

Anyway, I probably could have saved myself odious hours of scraping nothing but stamp-sized paper parings (a tedium matched only once before when, in fifth grade, Sister Loretta forced us to create 6-foot-tall mosaics of The Little Flower using the medium of individually-glued lentils) - I could have saved myself the frittering and fretting by cutting my loses and simply - yes I’m going to say it and I don’t care if somewhere Bob Vila gets a cold chill down his spine when I do say it - simply splashing a coat of paint over the wallpaper.

Now, instead of a straight-forward if unorthodox paint job, I have a mess. Some wallboard exposed, some paper ripped from the wallboard where now I’ll have to plaster, large sections of wallpaper still hanging on, other sections dripping down like so much technicolor moss. And did I mention that now I need to plaster?

Plaster. Second only in mess-making potential to a group of three-year-olds playing “snow fairies” with toilet paper and glitter. And as long as we’re plastering, why not tar-and-feather a dozen cats, too? I mean, the clean-up process is just about the same.

So yes, I’ve been steering clear of home improvement project number one with every ounce of HIADD in my body. In fact, just thinking about it right now, would you please excuse me as I go count the number of holes it takes to fill Albert Hall?

But first, the rest of my top five to-do-not list:

2. Call plumber to fix shower in Master Bedroom.

It’s downright hilarious that the second bathroom was a selling point for us, yet the shower has been defunct since we moved in. A real chuckle. Why, you should see me: at this very second, I’m laughing so hard that I’ve given myself the hiccups and now have to pour myself a cold beer. Or two. Excuse me...

I’m back again.

Okay, so what’s stopping me from having the shower fixed? Simple. I can’t decide whether to pay a plumber or instead take that money and put myself through plumbing school and then buy a boat with the leftover cash. I’m thinking a 22 foot Grady White Seafarer with optional bow pulpit. Just because.

3. Repaint the dining room.

The dining room is orange. And this time, I’m the one responsible for the major decorating faux pas. Although orange may look like a good idea as presented in the October issue of Elle Decor, let me tell you, it is not the new red and nowhere near being the new beige. I will say that the orange is cheery and energizing when the sun slants through the north windows from about 7:12 AM until 7:23 AM. Any other time of day, it’s like eating a meal inside a traffic pylon.

By the way, I’m thinking of painting the dining room red. I hear it’s the new pink.

4. The lawn.

I’m sorry. I can’t talk about this right now. I don’t have enough beer.

5. The other bathroom.

Here we have a tantalizing salad of projects in search of a dressing. (How was that for a tortured metaphor?) Wallpaper, problematic shower fixtures, mildew (we call it “Fluffy” and like to think of it as a low-maintenance pet), and more peeling caulk.

One word of warning for the uninitiated: there are several acceptable pronunciations of the word caulk depending where you live and the particular idiosyncrasies of your local dialect. Before venturing to Home Despot [sic] to purchase caulk, take some time to familiarize yourself with your own pronunciation. Record yourself saying the word caulk and listen to the playback. If upon listening, you find that you’re suffering from a case of phonological contrast loss (Quick test: Are cot and caught homonyms? If you’ve answered yes, then pay attention...) do yourself a favor and write a little script on 3”x5” index card so that you remember to say

“Please, Dear Orange-Aproned-Chappy, could you kindly point me to the aisle whence lies the silicone sealant?”

and not

“Excuse me, can you tell me where your caulk is?”

or worse

“Hey you, I need some caulk.”

Because, let me tell you from experience, you’ll get more than a raised eyebrow.

Try a hearty round of laughter.

And a few phone numbers.



Anonymous said...

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.

I too have wall paper on plaster, But I have to say the urine yellow color is quite soothing after coming up from the basement. (we have 2 rather larger rivers in our basment)

I feel like the keystone cops of the country. You never would have thought that I came from there. I gave my self poison Ivy and food poisoning all inside of a week. At least I am thourogh-with a full dose of poisoning both inside and out.

Jon without an "h" said...

You really need some pics to make that "pop". Then you can have after pics to show off the marvelous job you did.

anne said...

Amen, Seestor!

One of my favorite - and most juvenile - things to do is stand in the aisle of Very Large Building Supply Store with hubby and have conversations such as...
Me: I really need to get some caulk today.
Him: White caulk?
Me: It doesn't matter - white caulk, black caulk - I just need some caulk!
Him: Do you need the big one?
Me: I don't know...sometimes that's too hard to handle and it just makes a mess all over the crack.

And so on.

We especially have fun with this when other shoppers are close by. It's also a hoot to go to the plumbing department and look for ballcocks.


KK said...

Thanks for adding to my home improvement to do list. After reading #5, I have to figure out how to get a combination of oatmeal and tea out of carpet. Because that combo came spaying out of my mouth upon reading your list.

KK said...

I'm adding that it was because I was LOL, not because the writing made me ill. ;)

I just wonder if you asked for the contraption that you have to put the caulk in, you know in order to make it squirt out the white stuff?

Unknown said...

I don't know what's more funny - your original or the ensuing comments. You make me glad I rent!

josetteplank.com said...

Well, cuz,

At least you know you have poison ivy. I'd never had it before either and when I went to the doc, she diagnosed it as scabies. Did I tell you this already? Anyway...I fired her.

And yes, leave the wallpaper where it is for now. I started removing wallpaper over old horsehair plaster in our Philly home and let me tell you, a trip to Home Despot for repair materials is nothing compared to having to shoot a horse.


Thanks for stopping by (some darn fine reading material on your blog, btw...placed it on my speed rack) and thanks for the pic tip. I'll make sure to fancy up the place on future entries. We take requests here at Chez Halushki.


Why you filthy carpenter girl! You've just given me an idea for a new 900 number: 1-900-BAL-PEEN. “We’ve got big hoes and hardwood studs and can service all your coupling and widespread needs.”

Too much? But of course!

Kimmy K,

Are you talking about a caulk gun? You’re not thinking of pulling a Lorena Bobbit are you? ;-) White stuff...why I outta...

Mr. Cooper,

Glad you’re enjoying and sticking it out for the long haul here at Chez Halushki. My posting is spotty. That should improve once my kids both go to college. In 15 years.


Anonymous said...

Consider a third option: Niece has boyfriend scheduled to graduate from plumbing school in a couple of weeks. Surely he could fix a shower. Surely he needs money. Surely he would charge less than a graduate.

Blog Ping