By the hair of my chinny chin chin

“You’re a machine,” said Pete, clearly in awe of my latest interior decorating project.
Yes, I am.
I’d just come down off a 17-day stint on a stepladder with my hand wrapped around a paintbrush. I had transformed a bedroom into a family room (with help from a certain “Queen B”), painted ceilings, a bathroom, and a hallway, and best of all, created a drop-dead gorgeous living space free of television and full of Tuscan flair.
That was my summer holiday adventure and yes, folks, I kept notes. In fact, I carried a piece of paper and pencil around in the back pocket of my shorts just in case I felt a story comin’ on.
And before the first coat of paint was dry, I’d amassed a colourful collection of excerpts from the diary of “Beth Caldwell’s Painted Ladder.”
I’d started my holidays by removing my watch, rings, bracelets, and earrings, and took the “no makeup and bra” oath. It’s a ritual with me when holidays come to my neck of the woods. I leave fashion and appearance behind, and let the “sisters” off the hook.
Then I went to work.
I donned my painter’s cap and picked up my paintbrush. The world around me evaporated. Because I am a machine, the usual affairs of the family circus went to the bottom of the list.
Awry and amuck went all as I shifted my headquarters from the “Beth of Both Worlds” (mother and wife) to “Decorating Dynamo.” Nobody got fed and even I forgot to eat.
However, Pete didn’t feel spurned. He had his own project at hand—building a “getaway” shack for men on the east end of our property. In the last two weeks, we have become akin to the HGTV program “Design Rivals” (the two of us in jestful banter over whose project will be most smashing).
He’ll win that one. Smashing in the sense of the ever-changing construction area that looks like the Bobcat had a scrap with Mother Earth and lost.
Daughter #3 said it best when excavation for “Pete’s Place” began. “I don’t know why it would cost so much money and look so bad.”
Oh, there really isn’t that much disorder. I just don’t have what it takes to appreciate the necessary stages of an outdoor construction site (or maybe it’s because I wasn’t the boss at said locale).
Indoors was another story, wherein I had full reign over the placement of dropsheets and ever-shifting piles of furniture.
Sure I made mistakes. In some places, my ceiling-to-wall edge stinks, I forgot to sand some of the plastered nail holes before painting over them, and managed to misjudge measurements by nearly five feet when purchasing a chunk of new carpet for said family room.
But hey, I’m a writer. I used my imagination and a little creativity to smooth out the “oopsies.”
However, my labour-intensive project did result in some radical changes to my appearance—some beneficial, some shocking.
Most of the time being short is a hindrance to me. But travelling up and down a ladder umpteen times a day jump-started fitness in my piano legs.
Thanks to painting every which way but upside down, I now can contort painlessly into positions seen only on yoga television (quit smiling, Pete).
However, seeing the picture my husband took of me wearing goggles whilst painting the ceiling is grounds for sabotage of rivalled outdoor project.
And because I was a machine when it came to my focus on home improvement, my looks really did take a trip into the wild side.
No word of a lie, I morphed into a “Hobbit.” Think “Castaway” and you’ll get the picture. But who needs a mirror anyway? My family loves me no matter what I look like, right?
I took that position until a chance glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror some eight days into the project revealed a long, black hair growing out of my chin—and several overgrown ones sprouting out from under and between my eyebrows.
Thank heaven Pete is far-sighted.

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