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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers

Check One Off The List, Part I

Good news late last week! Art called from the Holly Acres service department. The work to repair the water damage on our retirement-home-on-wheels is almost done (thank you Ira!), and it didn't cost as much as expected--YAY! Soon, we'll be able to get back in there and finish up our living room/kitchen, and move on to the bed and bath.

Meanwhile, however, there's another project that I've put off for far too long: painting the chairs to my parents' dining room set.

My daughter and I refinished the table a couple of years ago, but the chairs all needed to be reglued and then painted ... only they were with my daughter, two and a half hours away. Last fall, we finally retrieved them and took them to an upholstery shop for gluing (there are some things I'm not ready to tackle). I could have bought new ones for what that cost, but the sentimental value ... priceless. These were the chairs we sat in whenever we went to the grandparents' house, where we celebrated holidays and birthdays. Where, after 10 years of hardship in her native country, this daughter (along with three others) found a forever family, abiding love and great joy. She never asks for much, but she asked for that dining room set. However, dark cherry Queen Anne is not furniture for a Millennial, so we decided to take the table down to bare cherry and polyurethane it, then paint the chairs a fun color (on the blue side of teal) and reupholster them in a brighter fabric to give them a second chance.

Problem is ... me. I procrastinate. I get overwhelmed. Life keeps interfering. I have too many projects.

One of those projects was editing and laying out a book for my husband's nephew Ivan. Like I had time right before Christmas ... But it was fun and stretched my brain to work again! Once it was done, despite my protestations, Ivan and his wife, Susan, sent me an Amazon gift card in thanks. With my chair project taking up my entire dining room, I decided to spend some of that to help get the project done. After a little research, I bought myself a Critter Siphon Gun paint sprayer and a Homeright Spray Shelter.

As soon as they arrived, I spent a several hours clearing space in the mudroom (which has never really served as a mudroom, just storage). Several bags of trash and a few moved boxes later, I was ready to assemble my spray tent. Unfortunately, I was ready when Len and our one at-home son were away for several hours. But I was on a roll, and how hard could it be?

Now, close your eyes and envision Lucy putting together a nine-by-six-foot tent in an eight-and-a-half-by-ten-foot room that also has a dresser, two generators, three stairs, three doors and a refrigerator. By herself. No Ricky, no Fred, no Ethel. Just Lucy, the tent and the stuff (because the storage room behind the mudroom was now FULL).

That was me. It really is sad that Len wasn't there to take pictures, because it was pretty funny and Lucy definitely came to mind, but I'm afraid you'll have to use your imagination.

First, I had to put the two supports together--sections of pole connected with elastic that lock into each other to form poles about 18 feet long. Okay, but I had to leave a couple of breaks in each because I was in an eight-and-a-half-by-ten-foot room, and the tent has to go across the short way because of the door to inside and the refrigerator ... It was cramped. Once the poles were sort of assembled, I threaded the first one through the sleeve across the top front of the tent, popping the sections of pole together as I went to form a long bow. I secured one end of the pole with the hook at the far corner of the front, then hooked the other end. Meanwhile, the whole tent was flopping forward and backward. Something wasn't making sense ... I finally braced it against the refrigerator to get a look.

Oops. The pole was VERY bowed. Like almost a circle. Well, that can't be right.

Soooo, I went back inside and read the instructions, which I just glanced at earlier, because how hard can it be when you've put together lots of tents before?

AH! Of course! Instead of crossing over the top like EVERY OTHER TENT I'VE EVER ASSEMBLED, these poles cross on the SIDES!

Okay, so I disengaged the front pole and moved the ends to the back corners of the tent (while it flopped drunkenly back and forth). Bingo! Much better. Then I threaded the second pole through the second sleeve and secured the ends at the front corners, while trying to keep the entire structure upright (still flailing a bit). This was awkward, because the tent is just a smidgen wider than the room.

Then I squeeeeezed in along the sides (climbing over poles, because the tent stretches ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE ROOM, to tie the tent to the Xs where the poles cross and attach the hooks along the sides to the poles.

Finally, the structure was standing on its own. Okay, it was all twisted and warped because it had to fit around the generators and other stuff, and because the room is narrower than the tent is wide. Still, it was up.

Then I realized that IT HAS NO FLOOR ... And I didn't put down a drop cloth first ...

At that point, I gave up and poured a glass of wine to salve my spirit. Fortified, I put a cardboard box (that one of the generators came in (don't ask me why we still have it) at the back to hold back the wavy rear of the tent.

Finally, I went out to the porch (where I last spray painted) to retrieve a rotating platform my dad had improvised from the base of an office chair and a piece of plywood from the porch.

Okay, ready to paint!

Just as soon as I finish sanding, and cleaning the chairs ... oh, and buy another drop cloth!

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