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When I was a kid, I watched The Three Stooges whenever I got the chance. Slapstick is fun. I saw the classic Stooge episode where they were trying to work as decorators to get some money together, and they lose a battle with the wallpaper and end up having a paint fight and busting holes through the walls of the flat they’re supposed to be refurbishing. Anyway, during the wallpapering scene, they are wallpapering the ceiling. and the paper keeps falling down and sticking to their heads, and they paste their hands to the walls and the ladder. I thought the papering of the ceiling was part of the gag; I thought they were putting wallpaper on the ceiling because they didn’t know any better, that it was part of their ineptitude. Well, it shows what I know to move into a house with wallpapered ceilings. It’s not just a vehicle for slapstick. At some point in home decor’s checkered past, it was considered perfectly acceptable, nay fashionable and in the best of taste, to wallpaper one’s ceiling with something that “co-ordinated” with the paper on the walls and the trim, if any was to be had. Thus, due to the vagaries of the fashions of the past, I am faced with the prospect of removing wallpaper from the ceilings in the living room and the dining room, wallpaper that has resided there since goodness only knows when, with several generations of paint having been put over it. This is going to be a messy, neck-cricking, goopy, tedious project. Ungh.

A popular topic of conversation between my mom and me is home-improvement projects. Ever since they bought their place back in the 1970s, it seems to have been under minor construction of one sort or another, pretty much continually. I seem to have picked up that torch and continued the run, as months after we moved into our house, I have begun tearing down old wallpaper, patching holes, and painting, and planning for future projects. When we get on the topic of primers, glaze effects, and color schemes, I get to thinking of a great parody commercial–an advert for paint, but done in the style of those obnoxious “feminine hygeine” ads that make families scatter from the TV like quail before a spaniel. Soft-focus camera, diffused lighting, tinkly, subtle music. “Does your latex semigloss ever get that not-so-fresh feeling?”

I have an extensive wish-list for future projects: rebuilding the garage, finishing the basement to an extent, finishing out the attic, building a nice shelving unit in the living room, making the back wall of the breakfast nook into a bench/windowseat, and converting the mudroom off the kitchen into a tiny greenhouse. Then there are the less labor intensive projects that will be done as time and money permit–painting, getting some furniture as needed, making curtains, cushions, and assorted soft-furnishings accessories, doing detail work.

At our current rate of income and free time, we’ll have the house paid off before we make a dent in the to-do list, but it’s cool. We won’t be this broke forever, I can only hope. And most of the project aren’t that critical, though the garage is about to be, and we’ll want the attic finished before out theoretical children are very old. Luckily, we have no children as yet, and by then we’ll at least have the car paid off and a bigger amount of the home loan paid off, so we should be able to take a loan for that project, then, perhaps, roll it into the regular mortgage. We’ll jump that stream when we get to it.

In the meantime, I need to put one last layer of yellow paint on the breakfast nook walls and see what it is going to take to get the doors off the kitchen cupboards.

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