A Thing I Learned About Painting

For those who’ve left comments, I offer apologies for not responding. I am still getting the hang of this; the links, menus, widgets and submenus…

Recently I saw a show on PBS about ‘changing the brain to change your life’. I tuned in, partly because PBS shows tend to have fewer commercial breaks.

The host suggested that we have the ability to improve the health of our brains, which in turn improves the quality of our lives. To do this there are 7 principles to follow. I watched for a while, because I was curious for myself …and Sidney Crosby. Here is some of what was suggested:

  1. Use food as medicine. And eat like a gorilla, i.e. plenty of seeds, nuts and greens and low fat proteins. I’m not sure the gorillas eat low fat proteins…I’ll have to check.
  2. Wear a helmet to protect the head. Yes.
  3. Exercise the body: walk, run, lift weights. Blood flow…oxygen, you know…
  4. Exercise the brain. This requires stimulating each of the four quadrants on a regular basis. So if you think you’re warding off Alzheimer’s by doing daily crossword puzzles…time to rethink. The host equated this behaviour with going to the gym, doing right arm curls, leaving the gym, and thinking you’ve had a workout. I’ll call the brain quadrants a, b, c and d.

a)      True, crossword puzzling will stimulate this quadrant, but a steady diet of ‘same old’ is rarely good; so’ mix it up’, he said. See how many words you can make using the letters in ‘narcissist’. Do a math problem.… ‘If a train leaves Station A travelling west at 120 kph, what time will it intersect with an eastbound train leaving Moose Jaw at 9:00 am EST….’ ( for the record, he didn’t give that particular example. I made it up)

b)      Do hand-eye coordination exercises… juggling is good or learning new dance steps. Mennonites should stick to juggling.

c)      Learn something new. Every day.

d)      I can’t remember ‘d’.

Six years ago I learned something about painting. We had just bought this house. The exterior needed to be painted and since neither of us is fond of ladders, my husband went in search of qualified painters. He started by asking for recommendations at the various local paint and hardware stores. After one crew received several ‘thumbs up’, he sought them out by going to the house they were currently painting.

At first the paint-speckled lead guy pretty much ignored him. But my husband is persistent and continued chatting. So the guy said, ‘Yay-yah…, maybe we kin git to you fellas in Octoba…,’ (It was June).  But my husband chatted on and happened to use the word ‘cash’.

Later that day a white van pulled into our driveway and two of the painters emerged to ‘look the job over’.

The following evening we arrived home to a see buckets and hoses strewn about the deck and four guys washing/prepping the house. ‘Wow,’ we said to each other, ‘this is good’. Friday evening, they were back. They scraped. Early Saturday morning they arrived with brushes and paint. They painted.

‘How long will the job take?’ I asked during one break.

“We’ll be here (pronounced ‘hee-yah) tomorrow…then next weekend…maybe we’ll git done next Sundi,” one of them said.

Sunday morning, a large pot of coffee was on… but no white van appeared. It was 8, then 8:30, then 9, then 9:30. I decided to phone the head guy. This was the gist of our conversation:

Him:  Hello

Me:  Hello, it is Mary calling. From Port Mouton…I am wondering…are you painting today?

Him: The boys didn’t pick me up this mornin’.

(Silence on both ends.)

Me:  Are you coming later today?

Him: The boys….they was out partying (pronounced like ‘pottying’) last night. They didn’t come to get me this mornin’.

Me:  Will they be coming to get you later?

He says: The boys was out partying last night. They ain’t comin’ to get me. (Pauses) They’ve been partying.

Me: So you aren’t painting today.

Him: No we ain’t there (pronounced ‘they-ya’).

Me: You aren’t coming today.

Him sounding a wee bit impatient: We ain’t there. When we’re there… we do the painting. When we ain’t there, we ain’t painting. (Pause) We ain’t there.

I get it.

When they are here, they are painting. If they ain’t here, they ain’t painting.


Pretty Fancy Dog House

Five and a half years ago my husband and I moved across the country, mostly to be closer to Robert’s mother, who today is 92 years old. We left what I consider a large home; ‘large’ being relative. So for clarity, I shall say it was around 2600 sq.ft. with a full basement that at night housed our two large (by any standard) dogs. One, a St.Bernard/Lab mix, in the 120-130 lb. range. The rest of the time, the dogs were loose outside. We lived on three acres with woods and creeks, so the dogs were easily entertained with various squirrels, snakes, etc.

This house, the one I am presently sitting in is not quite 1000 feet. With a basement accessible by stairs that bring to mind a ladder, so steep I’ve become adept at going up and down like Charlie Chaplin, and only one bathroom. So, there was an adjustment period…

* If you are asking why would we choose such a small house…see beside to the right…link to ‘our cottage for rent…click on, and go to photo gallery, beaches….this all a five minute walk from here, that’s pretty much why.

One of our first considerations, in our new small house was…. where do the dogs sleep?

Plan A. The basement. I shan’t delve into that for too long. Strange sounds emitting from the well-water softening/treatment system, steep stairs. Suffice it to say, that was a complete disaster.

Plan B. The kitchen floor with a ‘baby gate’ barricade of sorts to keep them from wandering too much into our now ‘smallish’ living space. Our kitchen floor space, when shared with two dogs and mats then becomes more dogs/mats than visible/accessible floor. Frying eggs becomes a problem.

Plan C: Build a dog house. Let’s say a 8′ by 6′ building. That should be big enough. Pricing such a project, since the dog house requires electricity, for light and heat, and some windows, and a wee porch… turns into a rather not so funny joke. My initial reaction upon hearing an estimate, was a stupified, ‘Are you out of your mind??’

Plan D: Build a larger ‘dog house’.  Because if we’re going to spend that much, we might as well end up with something that later can serve as extra sleeping space for people…or something along those lines.

And so it is built. A 10 by 12 foot building and rather lovely I might add, tho’ finished with ‘dog taste’ in mind, i.e. plainish/neutral/soothing paint tones and economical ‘dog’ quality linoleum flooring, for easy sweeping and mopping since they get muddy and wet…and apparently, somewhere in our neighborhood is being touted as a ‘Pretty fancy dog house’.

Dogs move into fancy new dog house.  Abbreviated version:

Night one. There is a hoot owl or two, hooting nearby.( I think it is owl mating season) The dogs scuffle in their fancy new dog house, perhaps reminiscent of their former life; chasing smaller furry/feathery things. They wrestle and squirm… we listen to sounds from our open bedroom window thinking, ‘They’ll adjust’. Next morning when we let the dogs out, we notice scratches on the drywall by the entrance. Oh well.

Night two. More hooting, scuffling, ect. ‘Surely, they’ll adjust’ we say to each other. Next morning, deeper scratches in drywall, and scratch marks on fancy new door. Oh dear. Oh well.

Night three, more hooting, jostling…etc. In the morning, more varied scratch marks on walls and door as well as actual teeth mark punctures in the fancy ‘faux’ brass door knob. Yes actual holes. Not pretty. Need to rethink.

Resort back to plan B: Dogs move back into kitchen. On the plus side, my flexibility has improved, even without yoga. And the fancy new dog house becomes a fancy storage hut.

Fast forward 8 or 9 months (and just how daft can I be?): I awake in a hot sweaty flash at 2:38 am…zapped with the realization…there is a cabin…a rather nice one…just steps away…meanwhile I’ve been sharing our limited table space with my husband for the past months, negotiating over whose turn it is…

FYI …further commentary will NOT be so heavily ‘dog’ oriented. The fancy dog house bit leads to another story…but I have gone on long enough for now. Stay tuned.