The Tom Sawyer Approach to Renovations

Haggle, bicker, nag and bribe...none of these traditional  methods of getting something done around here was being particularly effective this past month. The screened side porch was in dire need of paint and a polish, and  most definitely new screens. The bugs didn't have to bash  and bruise their tiny probisci to come for dinner. Uh uh. They just made a bee line for one of several holes that had appeared over the past decade.

Something had to be done, and early one Saturday morning in mid-June, after a fortifying cuppa coffee, I did it. While my prince lay resting his weary bones, I tore a strip of screen off one panel,  and then another...and that was that. Gaping holes in the porch wall where now anything ...bugs, bees, bears, and anyone...could amble in and join us for breakfast. The gauntlet had been dropped and the project was on!

I was pretty sure that this would be a quick little job, as they so often are...so set about emptying the porch of all furniture, washing the floor, and preparing a list of stuff that we needed to finish the job by supper time: floor paint, brushes, rollers, screening, paint for uprights, and beer.

When  John arose, we were off to the races, or at least to Home Hardware for the necessary supplies...and back home, ready to go by oh, about 2:00 pm. First the floor...a quick fresh coat of butter yellow so it looks like the  sun is always shining...I barely got started, when John began telling me to go parallel to the wall.

"Hmm, "  I wondered to myself, "which of the three walls might he be meaning?" So I picked the left wall and began the long w-shaped roller strokes.
"No, No", he promptly said, as he sipped his coffee, " not that wall, the other one."

So I switched directions, and chose the other one. Oops! Wrong again!  And two wrongs made me realize that Tom Sawyer was absolutely right! During the course of painting his fence he  had "discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain."  That (a perfectly painted floor) seemed to be happening right at my finger tips! So I handed the roller to my friendly critic and suggested he give it try to show me how, while I 'd go in and  see about rustling up some late lunch.

Perfectly painted porch floor was glistening as we sat down to a quick bite to eat half an hour later. And on we bungled. First removing the rest of the screening, then getting ready to paint all the battons, and naturally discovering a host of little "problems" that had cropped up over the intervening years...like wood rot and 2 x 4's that would need to be replaced. Ah well. As my dad always said, (and yours too, I  bet) " If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right." So we worked 'til the light left us, and said okay, tomorrow we'll get at it bright and squirrely. Which we did actually. I awoke at dawn to the sounds of cat meeting squirrel on the deck, as squirrel was interrupted trying to have a little breakfast of sunflower seed I'd inadvertly left in the porch overnght. No fur flew, but it was time for day 2.

Problem with day 2 was the weather...I mean who wants to paint in the pouring rain? So we waited 'til it cleared up, then slowly got assembled, and started the tedious task of putting the porch back together again. My brother and his lovely wife were arriving the next day , so it would be really nice to have this wee project done!

But, alas...it wasn't. It was partially done, as in some of the posts were painted, some of the screen was up, some wasn't down yet, none of the battons were back up...and then arrived the brother. And the second Tom Sawyer truth along with him."Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."

Well, my brother did not consider fixing the porch work at all! And neither did my sister in law! Holy get the job done right! They were totally into making this porch a master piece. Battons? Ha!! Battons, molding, mitre cuts, measuring for gawd sakes! These two saw a project, knew John and I were pretty much incompetent DIYers, and they just took over! The Taj Mahal Porch is something we never envisioned, and had we emphatically stated that it wasn't necessary to go to all this trouble. "You're on holidays you two! Relax!We don't need to do this while you're here " was met with deaf ears, and Tom Sawyer noted that, "To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing."

What can I say! Total time to finish the job? Seven days! But the final result looks great, my brother got to practice his finishing carpentry skills, my sister-in-law had something to do besides listen to the men natter about men stuff, and my prince got to watch a job well done, er, done well!
And me? Well, I got exactly what I wanted too!