Saturday, May 10, 2014


A couple years ago I decided we needed to stain our front porch and back deck, for practical reasons like protection from rain and snow and to keep the wood from rotting, but mostly just because I thought it would look pretty.  Like all homeowners, however, we have a Home Upkeep List two miles long that is more or less constantly scrolling, so every time you take care of whatever's on top, something new gets added to the bottom.  Then there are line cutters, like burst pipes on Christmas Eve or bats who see you have no animals and decide they would make excellent pets for your family.

Outdoor staining has been knocked to the back of the line several times now, but this spring, we finally decided it was time.  I borrowed a power washer from some lovely friends, somehow started it, used it for right about three minutes before a mechanically-minded neighbor decided he just couldn't take it anymore and marched over to fiddle with something magic on the side of the machine, yelling to me over the noise something about too much gas or something.  I don't think his cigarette ever left his mouth, which Derek later pointed out was a teensy bit dangerous- something about gasoline and fires.  Still, the engine went from sputtering and providing a weak stream of water to roaring and blasting dirt every which way.  Step 1: Power washing front porch and back deck- complete.  (And yes, I know they tell you not to power wash but to instead use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush on your fragile, easily offended outdoor wood.  Or something.  Rules, shmules.)

Before I lost my mind

Next came the fun part: Staining the front deck!  I went out and got a gallon of stain (because surely a gallon would be more than enough, right?  I mean, our front porch isn't that big), then came home and waited for it to stop raining.  I set aside Monday afternoon for the job.  I was so excited.

8 o'clock Monday night found me still staining the railings of the porch.  Do you know how many spindles we have on there?  EIGHTY.  80 fancy spindles that each sucked in noxious liquid like a Hollywood starlet just getting out of her court-appointed rehab.  I felt like I was in that movie Groundhog Day, except instead of reliving the same day over and over I was reliving the same two minutes and Bill Murray was nowhere in sight for some much-needed comic relief.

Tuesday I got to finish the spindles, although not before some pretty specific fantasies about taking an axe to all 80 of them.  I was afraid if I did that, though, their resultant spindle-splinters would come to life and pour buckets of water all over me 'til I drowned (no, the fumes were not getting to me; I just watched The Sorceror's Apprentice so many times during my childhood that I have very strong feelings about axes and broomsticks).

Wednesday I finally got to do the floorboards.  Wednesday is also the day I began to lose my mind.  I chose a reddish-brownish-colored stain for the porch, and while it dried just about the color advertised, when it went on, it looked pretty red.  I began to wonder if passersby thought I was perhaps painting our front porch with blood.  I wondered if they argued amongst themselves, "It can't be blood, it's not bright enough," "Well, it's obviously not arterial blood, Charlie; she probably picked a couple gallons up from the blood bank in Ames."  Except instead of wondering these things in my head, it turns out I was muttering these imaginary conversations aloud as I was painting with not-blood, so perhaps our neighbors weren't discussing the paint so much as the painter.

Wednesday afternoon, though, I was finally done.

After: The deck is stained and my mind is gone

It took one more gallon of stain, two more days of work, and 99% more of my sanity than I had anticipated.  So just about right for a home improvement project.

Next up:  The back deck.

I am unable to look at this photo without whimpering.  Oy.


  1. Oh, yes. Spindles and railings. It's agony painting those.

    I think the color looks lovely.

    I think you should give yourself an award. And you should have an award ceremony, followed by a party involving something good to eat and drink.

  2. Beautiful! Well worth losing your mind. Easy for me to say a couple states away. Your family might argue otherwise.

  3. This looks like a fun connection group project! grill out, play some games, stain the deck......of course we're super busy this summer but would love to have been able to help (hee hee) (we really would help)

  4. oh, and it looks great! Love the chicken! :)

  5. I, for one, have been to your house a couple of times since "the stain project" and think that your house looks beautiful. I think that a connections group party to do the back deck is a wonderful idea! Mrs. Z


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