mercredi 5 mai 2010

When mistakes are not lovely

Nap time in the Peaceable Kingdom
(That isn't always so peaceable. Ask the dogs about the cats.)


Yesterday afternoon, I was kneeling on the just fine grain sanded stained oak floor applying floor wax and carefully massaging it into the heart of the wood (I love that expression), when I heard the Fiat pull into the space between the old school (now three apartments, recently completed for rental) and Christian's house, just across from the window.

"Hi, Mom," he said from the sidewalk just outside the open window. I jumped, even though I knew he would look in and speak to me. I was waiting for him, even. Still, somehow I had managed to forget in the space of a massage stroke.

"Hi, Sam!" I said, as though I were completely surprised to see him, despite the fact that you can hear the Fiat's diesel engine coming from an eighth of a mile away. "How are you?"

"Okay. That color looks nice. It looks like it belongs in the house. That other color," the oak's natural color he meant, "looked cheap."

My mind flew to a blog post I had come across about dark stained floors and light walls, and how it made the floors look "sumptuous". I guess it was right, even though I already knew that. I have loved the combination for years, particularly after after having a home in Sweden published somewhere I have long since forgotten. We admired the floor together for a moment, and I could see the whole room, right in that instant, all done. The desk with its soaring bookshelves and tidy drawers for files, the shallow closet space behind the wood panels that are actually doors, and how cleverly they would store my ironing board and cleaning supplies, maybe some linen folded very tightly, the refinished leather club chairs and my gleaming blond mahogany piano, a kilim on the floor and lamps casting a soft glow on it all.

My little heaven on earth, my haven, outside the garden in bloom, and my husband's arms, of course.

"Well, I'm coming inside," he said, breaking my reverie. I returned to massaging wax into the floorboards.

This morning, I came downstairs to bask in the delight of my floor and buff it to a soft sheen, and I saw the very apparent marks of where the strokes of my brush overlapped when I applied the last coat of stain, or maybe the second to last. I was appalled.

It ruined my day. I sunk into a deep funk.

"Why could I not see this the evening before," I asked myself?

Myself shrugged and appeared nonplussed.

"How can you not care?" I demanded.

Well, what are you going to do about it? Start over? Sand the whole thing down and do it right this time? Get a professional to do it like every source says you should unless you are actually experienced at it? I didn't like her attitude. I counted to 10.

"Be quiet," I snapped, anyway. "Maybe it will look better once I have buffed."

Suit yourself, said myself. We both knew. I didn't want to let on, though. I didn't want to give myself the satisfaction of admitting that I hadn't done such a bang up job, after all, despite my glow from the previous evening.

"Mom?" Sam called from the living room. He was home to finish a project he should have begun months ago, or at least over the spring vacation that just finished.

"Oh, Sam!" I wailed, "Come see what I did. I messed it up when I stained the wood." He came up behind me in the small space cluttered with tools and looked over my shoulder at the floor with me. "See? Do you see how you can see where the brush strokes overlap? It's darker?" I motioned to an especially egregious area, where the overlaps looked like the arcs of the wave that has justed crashed down on the beach, those little arcs that reach the farthest up the beach and drag sand, pebbles and hermit crabs back down to the waterline.

"Yeah?" It didn't seem to shock him.

"It looks terrible. You can tell it's stained."

"What are you going to do, do it over?" He sounded like myself. Pas de question!

"No! I can't do that," I moaned, "that would be way too much work, and I'd have to rent the sander all over again."

"It makes it look authentic, Mom." He said "authentic" the way you'd say "vintage", with the same appreciation. I nodded. I'd take that. Authentic.

"Well, it will get covered, mostly, with a rug, so I guess it won't be obvious," I said to his parting back.

If that's true, though, why did I feel so badly all day long?


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