Win some, lose some (paint some, replace some)

Oh my goodness, it’s been a week. Or two weeks. I’m not even sure. It all starts to blend together, you know?

When last we spoke, I was enthusiastically embarking upon Project Rainbow, or—more specifically—the “simple” task of repainting the rockers from our front porch with some actual rainbows, and although it was slow going I knew I would triumph and be pleased. Well. At this point in time I definitely AM pleased, and one out of two isn’t bad, right? I mean, look, they came out pretty okay:

rainbow rocking chairs

(That’s not the front porch, by the way. That’s the back porch, where I spent one gazillion hours painting.) All’s well that ends well, but let’s just say that the beginning was joyful and the end perhaps equally so, but the middle was, uh, rather profanity-filled. I got the base coat of white done and then I taped all around various edges and corners and started with the color and was feeling pretty badass and then I took the tape off and discovered alllllllll the things which needed touching up, and those touch-ups necessitated OTHER touch-ups and finally I realized that I could easily stay on that particular merry-go-round forever, so at some point I said OKAY NOW THEY ARE PAINTED and got out my can of gloss topcoat sealer only to discover that:
1) “Easy spray” buttons/nozzles are just slightly fancier versions of regular ones which get clogged every three seconds.
2) “Superior even coating” = LIES.
3) One can of topcoat—even assuming it had worked as advertised—was not nearly enough. Huh. Okay, back to the hardware store.

There I was at the hardware store, talking to the Paint Guy, trying to explain what I was doing and how the one spray can was awful, and so of course I got treated to a nice lecture about how I should’ve come to talk to him BEFORE buying that can of useless garbage, and yes I needed to PAINT ON my topcoat, and actually, he did not recommend polyurethane (as I thought he would) because that can yellow over time, but he suggested I grab a can of Minwax Polycrylic, instead, because it’s so easy to work with and never yellows and it mows your lawn and folds your laundry, besides. (I might be paraphrasing just a little.) And then, of course, I also needed a new, much-higher-qualify paintbrush than what I’d been using, too.

So basically I was ALMOST DONE with my “little project” and after 10 minutes at the store to get the LAST THING I was suddenly spending twice as much as I’d spent in the first place, but no matter! Because RAINBOWS!

If you don’t feel like reading up on polycrylic, allow me to summarize the directions for you: Stir, do not shake. Stir well, and frequently, but don’t make bubbles! Apply in light, even strokes and do not overbrush but also do not underbrush. Allow to dry for at least four hours. Sand with fine grit sandpaper because you definitely have not yet spent enough time on this, clean off the dust, and do it all again. Do this at least three times but preferably at least six or more because we would like you to buy more of our product, but if you’re seriously considering killing yourself, please stop.

I’m sure this is going to come as a huge shock, but I read and followed the directions, and my first sanding attempt immediately started removing the colored paint, which naturally freaked me out and led me down a rabbit hole of Googling. It turns out that basically the entire Internet has a love/hate relationship with polycrylic, and although polyurethane will not adhere well to a slick surface (hence the need to sand), polycrylic is, essentially, acrylic paint and sanding is not necessary. SURE DO WISH I’D KNOWN THAT FIRST. Anyway! I touched up the color (again). I resumed applying coats of polycrylic. No matter how long I waited between coats, topcoat over the colored parts lifted color, every time, which meant that my long, laborious process was made EVEN LONGER with frequent brush-cleaning and painting tiny sections at a time.

Finally, everything was done except for the VERY BOTTOMS of everything (the underside of the table top, the bottom of the rocking chairs’ rockers), so I set everything in the sun out back to dry for a couple of days before flipping everything over on a drop cloth to seal just those tiny little bottom bits and be DONE.

The day I went out to flip the furniture right-side-up again and declare it Really Truly Completely Done For Real This time, I discovered that… left outside in the heat, all surfaces touching the drop cloth had softened and stuck. Yep. That’s right. Got everything flipped back over and… had to touch up the entire tabletop and a few key points on the chairs. RAAAAAAAGE.

But they’re all done now and they’re out front and I love them and if you come over just, uh, don’t look super closely at them. They’re attractive from a distance! Much like the artist!

Riding the high of the Rainbow Rocking Chair Project being done, we headed into Familyversary/Mother’s Day weekend, and all four of us went to Atlanta to celebrate with Michelle Obama. That part was amazing (#foreverFLOTUS!), dampened only slightly by the fact that this was the longest we’d left the dogs alone in a loooong time, so we closed them in my office (picking up all the rugs, leaving them only easy-clean laminate floor and a couple of pee pads down by the door) because 1) it seemed like too long to leave them crated but 2) Duncan is getting pretty old and cannot necessarily hold things as long as he used to. So we had this incredible experience and got home around midnight and Duncan had, indeed, pooped right on the pee pad I left by the back door. Yay! WHAT A GOOD DOG!

But, uh, he also pooped under my desk. And peed right NEXT to the pee pad. (Oh, Duncan. You tried, buddy.) At least, we assume that was all Duncan. Licorice seemed mortified.

My office is super clean now, by the way. Nothing like an old dog to really make you start a love affair with all your cleaning supplies.

[Side note: Otto and I have now been married for a dozen years. I sure do like that guy a lot, and not just because he cooked me an incredibly dinner on Mother’s Day when it appeared no one else was planning to do anything for me. One of these days I am truly going to get him a trophy that says STILL MY VERY MOST FAVORITE HUSBAND.]

Coming down off of that excitement, given that 2018 was the year of multiple catastrophic appliance failures, with another one in February, I don’t even know why I was surprised when Otto came and woke me up on Monday morning with, “I have some bad news.” Wanna guess? No? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you! Because it’s SO GREAT! Our refrigerator temperature display thingie (technical term) was claiming that the freezer was perfectly cold but the fridge was at 50 degrees. Otto, of course, had Important Work Things to do, so he left and I started trying to reach a repair person who could come immediately if not sooner. I finally got someone to come that afternoon, and he rattled around and declared the main control board to be “dying.” Needs a new board, okay. How much is a new board? Well, he would have to look it up.

By that time, Otto was back home again, and we had a brief conversation about the price point at which we should just buy a new fridge. The repair guy came back and quoted us a number which caused my blood pressure to rise slightly but not high enough to necessitate buying a new fridge, so we said sure, yes, please install a new board. Well, he would have to order the board. Because of course he would. He’d be back in two days. Or maybe one. Possibly.

By this point, we’d dragged a couple of coolers into the kitchen and loaded them with ice and various items from the fridge, and my left eyelid had developed a twitch. But we’d have everything working again soon, right? Right.

To my relief, the repair guy called back at 4:00 on Tuesday to say he had the new board and he could come over right then if that was okay. It was okay! It was GREAT! Please come over. He arrived and I let him in, then returned to my office. I heard him rummaging around in the kitchen with his tools. I heard him pull the fridge out from the wall. And then I heard him say, “Ummmm. I need you to come look at this.”

Guess what! No, don’t guess. You’ll never guess. I WILL TELL YOU. The entire back panel of the fridge was rusted, including a giant perforated line down from where the water line connects. Now, I’m standing there agog, thinking OH WELL OF COURSE but also HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS PANEL, ANYWAY, really? Apparently it’s important. It’s so important, the repair guy refused to install the new board, because he seems to think refrigerators need back panels and we should buy a new one. But at least we had to pay him for the service call and the shipping for the panel!

I called Otto to explain the situation (“What do you mean the fridge is rusted through?” “DO I STUTTER?”) and then I spent three hours Googling refrigerators and reviews and picking out a potential new fridge. Then Otto came home and measured and reminded me that I’d forgotten our fridge is “counter depth” which is something that is both harder to find and more expensive (because of course it is), and THEN he tried to convince me that it would be JUST FINE to get a regular-depth fridge because we would get used to it.

Listen, Otto and I have, like, maybe one real argument a year (if that). We don’t fight much at all. But this particular discussion became… spirited. I may have asked him if he hit his head on the way home. I tried to explain that just because there is actual ROOM for a fridge to jut out doesn’t mean it won’t look SUPER WEIRD AND DUMB if it does. I reminded him that he can spot a crooked picture frame from three rooms away. Eventually, he saw it my way. Or gave in because he wanted me to shut up. Hard to know.

We settled on an agreeable model after another hour of me shrieking things like “NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS? DOES IT COOK FOR YOU, TOO??” and went over to the Big Box Store to look at it in person and order it. They didn’t have it in stock (surprise!) but we were able to look at a similar one. We placed our order. Then they told us it was out of stock. Then they said wait, maybe not. There were some phone calls, and a second sales associate, and finally they verified that no, it was fine, it was ordered, it’s coming. They told us the fridge will be here next week, or maybe the week after. I tried not to cry.

There are still two coolers in the kitchen, mostly full of water. Otto plugged in Chickie’s old dorm fridge behind the kitchen table, so we now have relatively easy access to milk and sandwich stuff and cream for our coffee. I moved most of the frozen stuff to our garage freezer, and I’ve stopped even attempting to plan meals or cook. Last night Otto and Monkey had pizza for dinner and I had a frozen spinach soufflé thing and some gluten-free pretzels.

In case you’re keeping track (surely you are, because my kitchen appliances are important to you), of the Supposedly Super Awesome Free Appliances we received not quite 10 years ago, right now the only ones still working are the dryer (which, listen, has NEVER worked properly, so “working” is a stretch) and the microwave. So that… went well.

Wait. WAIT. It just came to me. Do you think I could just polycrylic the back of the fridge?? No? Well, it was worth a shot….


  1. Alicia

    So we bought a house two years ago wherein the updated kitchen was all shiny stainless except the 90s yellowish tanish (you know the color) fridge. We couldn’t figure out why and, since we had other concessions, figured we will just buy one we like anyhow.

    We learned pretty damn quickly why they didn’t! Custom cabinets made a fridge hole (technical terms) exactly 70” tall and 36” wide. Guess what most fridges are now????? Bigger.
    2 weeks in every place that sold fridges to measure every single damn on on the floor so we could get one that had room for more than a jug of milk. I still haven’t gotten over that drama.

  2. Becky

    They are VERY pretty chairs. One would never guess how much suffering went into making them so, which is really a hallmark of crafted perfection.

  3. Virginia L

    Those rockers are excellent! You did a great job and I am impressed.

  4. Cran

    The rockers do indeed rock!! Fantastic results.

  5. dad

    I think there may be a historic, artistic connection to your childhood dresser.

  6. Arnebya

    The side of my fridge facing the wall has rusted. The internal thermometer keeps adjusting on its own, in a perilously upward temperature. And yet there has been no replacement. I fear I am the person who waits until everything spoils and the doors fall off before I replace it. I’d like a fridge replacement fairy to assist me. THE CHAIRS ARE AWESOME.

  7. Jeanie

    You have way more patience than I do. Those rockers would have become firewood long before completion if I was doing the painting. They do look awesome, though. Sorry about the fridge. Always something, huh?

  8. gracie

    This post had me crying in laughter. Having recently replaced four appliances in a kitchen renovation, including a counter depth refrigerator, I could relate to your words. And it got me thinking that I should start a college sized savings fund for appliance replacements. The average life of a refrigerator is now 8 years. Are these built by the same people who are trying to make our planet greener? Oy. And oh…cute chairs!

  9. Meri

    Omg. Freaking appliances.

    When we got our fridge 2 years ago, we had to take the trim off the living room doorway because, despite my measuring everything, it didn’t fit. We had a living room fridge for a week until my dad could come over because I’m not skilled enough to deal with that.

    Then, well, to sum up a long story short, they forgot to take out a plastic baffle between the freezer and fridge so the fridge temperature was just weird for several months, then too warm when the plastic slipped. That thoroughly baffled the repair guy. Argh!

  10. Daisy

    The chairs are lovely. When everything else around you is falling apart, the chairs are lovely.

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