I spent a long day yesterday on my knees, hunched over, painting all of the "white-work" in the main hallway of our house. It has been since before Child Number Three was born that I last gave it the works. For the past several years, three young children have been bashing into the wainscotting and baseboards with various toys, and casually wiping grubby little hands down the walls as they have walked by... Yeah. The place has been gradually becoming a bit dingy. This was alarmingly brought to my attention when we first walked in the door after returning home from our vacation last month. You know that horrible sensation you feel when you've been away for awhile, and have become less "conditioned" to the condition of your home? Well, let's just say, between the sight of immense snowdrifts piled up against the OUTSIDE of my house, and the rawther shockingly shabby state I discovered on the INSIDE... Well, I was hoping that the taxi had actually delivered us to the wrong house, quite frankly.
But, alas, that was not the case, and so this week I ventured back to one of my most favourite places in the whole-wide-world, our local Benjamin Moore Paint Store.
I am a confessed paint-a-holic. But, the way I justify my obsession is to say this: The winters are LONG here. Long, and COLD. Gardening season only lasts four or five months out of twelve... And so, what the heck else is there to do around here during those long winter months?? Without doing MAJOR DAMAGE, that is??? (My husband came up with that stipulation a few years ago, when he discovered me at the end of one looooong winter's day, weilding an enormous sledge hammer and threatening to "re-model" a very ugly brick fireplace. Actually, come to think of it, winter wasn't the only reason I came up with a mass-destruction-as-distraction-project that day... I'm pretty sure hormones must have had something to do with it, too...)
But I digress.
To say that they know me well at the paint store would be an understatement. I have been known to bring my own lunch on forays into that place, when I have had a difficult colour scheme to dream up. The bonus of getting to know the owners well has been that they provide me with exceptional customer service... There is one gentleman there who is so good at the art of colour-mixing, he once made me up a tin of paint that was the EXACT colour I pointed out to him... the reference I gave him was a small dot in a Wedgewood china pattern, on the side of an egg cup I had purchased at an antique show the week before. I don't actually collect antique egg cups. I just liked the blue dot, and knew I'd probably never be able to find anything in that exactly perfect shade again.
Needless to say, I developed a reputation in that place pretty quickly. I think it was the "happy dance" I performed, when they handed me that pail of egg-cup-coloured paint, all those years ago... And now, those wonderful people go the extra mile me. I have bought so many cans of paint over the years, they give me the "designer rate". Not only that, they will take my orders over the phone. They are SO GOOD, if I happen to make a mistake with the paint numbers, THEY CALL ME ON IT. One day, I had reversed two numbers in a particular paint code by accident, and rather than just mix up the erroneous colour and try to sell it to me, they said, "This is an unusual colour choice for you... Are you SURE it will "go" in your house???" EGAD!! And they crisis was averted.
Best of all, however, the Benjamin Moore people DELIVER. PAINT. TO. MY. DOOR.
I just make a phonecall, and within about a half hour, the paint arrives on my doorstep.
They are fuelling a serious sickness. They know it, and I know it.
And my husband knows it, because as well as seeing the bills, he regularly comes home to rooms he barely recognizes, not to mention a wife and three children covered in mysterious coloured splodges.
Oh, the painting of walls is BIG FUN, and more than slightly obsessive.
The white-work, however? Not so much.
Boring, yes. Pain-staking, certainly. Mind-numbing, absolutely.
But yesterday? Ab-so-lute-ly and un-doubtedly necessary. Because the brilliant shine of a glossy white sets off all of the other colours I have lovingly and enthusiastically applied around it, and makes them "pop" (to use a term I loathe, but can't think of anything that describes the effect better).
I crawled around on the hardwood floor, brushes in hand and an enormous can of "Decorator White" in a nice, shiny semi-gloss latex... from eight in the morning, till five in the afternoon. With only one coffee break in-between.
At five thirty, as I was finally extracting myself from the long, hot shower I was rewarding myself with before dinner, Child Number Two came bursting into the bathroom waving a small, shiny package.
Child Number Two: (excitedly) Mama!! MAMA!! Daddy just took us to the corner store, and LOOK what I brought back for YOU!!
It was a Pep chocolate bar... a delicacy that many of you American readers may not know... It is a large, round disk of chocolate, filled with the most divine, slightly crisp white mint filling... It is one of the only candy bars that I will pay good money for, because unlike so much of the other commercial chocolate out there, it is rich and delicious and NOT filled with all those waxes and chemicals that prolong shelf life, but considerably compromise taste.
Child Number Two: (proudly) I knew it was your favourite. I bought it with my OWN MONEY, because of the nice job of painting you did today, and for all your hard work.
(Insert sound of my heart swelling here... Because greater love hath no child, than to spend her hard-earned allowance on chocolate for her mother.)
Mother: (grateful beyond words) Sweetiepie. Thank-you. I appreciate it so much. But you know, you don't have to do that. Just the fact that you thought of me, and brought it home for me is enough. You worked hard for your allowance this week. Let me pay you back, okay?
Child Number Two: (eagerly) OKAY!!
Mother: (locating her purse in the closet) How much was it?
Child Number Two: (eyes rolling towards the ceiling) Ummmm... it was... TWO DOLLARS.
Mother: (turning around and attempting to look her fibbing child in the eye) TWO dollars?
Child Number Two: (still gazing upwards) Ummmm... yeah. I'm PRETTY sure... Yeah.
I located a toonie in my wallet, and handed it to her. She hugged me 'round the knees, and scooted off in the direction of her piggybank.
I know what you're all thinking.
My child just made a 100% profit on the chocolate bar she bought for me, supposedly out of LOVE.
But you know what else?
THIS is the child who will be able to afford to put me in a NICE retirement home someday.