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Bartolomeo Cavarozzi: Virgin And Child With Angels (circa 1620)
" … wrong crown, its Crowning achievement."

When the future asks after the Crowning achievement of Our Grand Refurbish, I'll retell this story, for it stands as at least emblematic of the entire venture. The Muse had insisted from our earliest conversations that we would finish the three main downstairs rooms with period-appropriate crown moulding. I was fine with leaving the crowns as they were but she was adamant. I know when to avoid doing battle, so I quickly conceded. Period-appropriate crown moulding it would be, then. We torn down the existing stuff and I donated it to the recycled house parts operation out at the old airbase. The replacement proved inconvenient to deal with since it came in sixteen foot lengths, so long that our carpenter had to fetch his other truck with the long overhead rack to transport it. We painted it before cutting and mounting it, but it was too long to store anywhere, so we had to work quickly. Kurt Our Painter spray painted the first batch, but that proved to be a big hassle. Two hours of prep and clean up for about three minutes of painting. It used a lot of paint, too, so we rolled then brushed the rest of the stuff, ending up inside after the weather turned, boards stretching between the two living rooms and creating a serious navigational hazard.

The lumber yard didn't quite know how to handle crown.
They stored at least two differently shaped styles in the same place and one needed to be more careful than our carpenter turned out to be to find four pieces that matched. Twice, we discovered after painting the latest batch of crown that we'd painted the wrong profile. We returned that first wrong batch for replacements of the correct stuff, but we discovered the second error on the morning of the scheduled last day of work. In frustration, I hopped into The Schooner and drove over to the supplier to see if I could get to the bottom of The Crown Moulding Controversy. I found what I'd expected, inventory out of control and a clueless if sympathetic clerk. Our carpenter had been told the crown he'd ordered had come in, but it hadn't. He'd just grabbed what they'd said was what he'd ordered and probably should have double checked. Such oversights happen. It was nobody's fault, really, except that there was no way to secure the crown moulding we'd desired. It was just not available, so we were faced with the choice of installing the wrong crown or nothing. The lumberyard threw in two additional pieces of the wrong crown to mollify us. We saw that we'd encountered another opportunity to practice radical acceptance, the most important skill we practiced through Our Grand Refurbish.

Kurt's primary concern, being the finish guy, centered around the fact that we had something less than a quart of the special paint we'd been using for painting crowns. It was his idea to paint the ceilings flat and the crowns a touch shinier than that, with an eggshell finish in the same color, to frame the ceilings with a brighter border. We'd managed to paint crown in six rooms on that original gallon, but it was a definite question if he could stretch that batch to finish the final ceiling. We'd stayed late the evening before to paint the wrong crown. Had we managed to exchange that for the right stuff, we would have been heading for the paint store before we could hang it. We'd probably have lost a day and further delayed our finish. No need to worry, once we accepted that we would hang the wrong moulding and set about taking down the one piece of the right stuff we'd left hanging when we finished the adjacent living room's ceiling. The finish work just fell into place.

We could have insisted upon getting our way, of satisfying our original intentions, and waited until next Easter for delivery, if then. Or, we could accept how the universe was playing this hand and proceed with Our Grand Refurbish, over which we were never really in charge. As he packed up his equipment, two van loads and counting of stuff, Our Carpenter Joel quietly thanked me for inviting him to play with us. He doesn't get much opportunity to exhibit creativity. He's mostly a slave to plans someone else has made, with little say in what he delivers. With us, The Muse provided general instructions and I'd fill in the details, usually by inviting him to use his good judgement. Why hire a skilled craftsman then hobble him with over-instruction? He produced consistent trims. He conceived the clever shims that allowed plumb replacements to congruently exist within The Villa's crookedness. I thanked him in return. He will be back for some more refurbishing once we recover from this five month fling.

The Crowning achievement, then, of Our Grand Refurbish, was acceptance, not design or even execution. We early on discovered that it would not be perfect, just perfect enough, then we accepted that fact, which resolved much before it could sidetrack us. Of course the whole affair cost more and took longer than we'd originally planned, but we knew our plans were nothing other than justification to get started. Our destination was unknown and we knew it. We did know for certain from the outset, though, that the three downstairs rooms would be finished in period-appropriate crown moulding, though we had no idea that we'd have to hang the wrong crown to accomplish that end. The rest manifested around that single certainty. Once hung, that wrong crown moulding disappeared. It performed its magic by lowering that overly high ceiling and leaving that room infinitely more cozy. We needn't have worried that anyone might notice that the library features the wrong crown. The whole refurbish was wrong from the beginning, wrong but continually correcting itself by accepting just what it could accomplish. It left more than we could have imagined before we started, that wrong crown, its Crowning achievement.


I suppose I could without too much concern for falsehood, claim each Friday as a crowning achievement, its primary qualification being its position as the latest and therefore the crown, the greatest by simple position. Then, it's just a matter of sticking to my story when skeptics rejoinder. Such controversies never matter, for bests are always eventually bettered and subject to the qualifying question, Best for whom? Best for you might not be best for me and crowning achievements seem terribly context sensitive. You just have to be there to understand, and even then, you would have had to be paying closer attention than most experiences really warrant. It's humbling to concede that at least for that last moment, that last sentence was my crowning achievement as a writer. Fridays get me reflecting.

I began my writing week by focusing upon
Phinishing Our Grand Refurbish. "It's future will be as statuary, not the productive activity it's grown to know itself to be, so Phinishing's a state change and should spark a serious identity crisis."

I then reported on my preferred process for fixing things with
TheSecondOrderSolution. "It entails absolutely no knowledge of how to actually fix anything and entirely relies upon acceptance, often the radical kind, for it resolves by simply accepting the way things have become. While some might call the thing broken, TheSecondOrderSolution considers it evolved, as if entropy really were in charge."

I next resorted to simple observation to highlight what might describe a universal with
ThePaintPotPrinciple. "A student tends to notice his teacher's paradoxes, for the student tends to first imagine their teacher a master, an elevated being, and only begrudgingly acknowledges their feet of clay."

I mentioned how I seem to avoid easy accomplishments but that I don't know why I avoid them in
TinySignificances. "We might find significances too rich a diet to reliably nourish us. We might need gruel work."

I then dabbled in fiction with
Plumb. "If we look too closely, the whole universe would collapse around our shoulders. We thrive upon our fictions and likely would not long survive without them."

My obligatory political screed for the week focused upon what appears to be a universal human preference for
Muddling. " … we are what we ain't. We ain't the type to read the instructions. We ain't the type terribly concerned about our own self-destruction."

I ended this writing week
Tractoring, moving as if powered by a tractor transmission on the way to finishing Our Grand Refurbish. "The final coat of paint goes on in Jovian gravity, heavy and dense."

This week was, indeed, all about Phinishing up, which as usual involved much accepting things as they are. I might most successfully characterize Homemade anything as comprised of what this week brought: one part SecondOrderSolution, two parts PaintPotPrinciple, a smidge of TinySignificances, and an extended fictional Plumb with Muddling for motivation and ultimately, some reliable old Tractoring pulling stuff across finish lines. I'm hanging up this Homemade series during the upcoming week. It has almost been three months since I started off on this investigation like a kid wobbly on a new bicycle. A bike that turned into a tractor. A jaunt that turned into a journey. A Refurbish that insisted upon become grand before it finished. Thank you for following along with me here.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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