Rendered Fat Content


circle of Jean Bourdichon: Leaf from a Book of Hours: King David (c. 1500)

" … if not precisely wiped clean, at least a shade tidier …"

I'm not so much repainting The Villa Vatta Schmaltz as I am performing Penance for past mistakes. When The Muse and I bought this place, I was then a naive homeowner. Indeed, I doubt that I would have agreed to purchase this house had I been even half as experienced in home ownership as I am now, for I was a reluctant student of the dark arts of home ownership and I remain a wary graduate of innumerable hard knock lessons. Not that I'm complaining, for I doubt that I could have even hoped to be half the man I am today had this old place not put me through my paces, serially, often cruelly. I hold no grudges. I count most of those lessons as blessings, several still in considerable disguise. A few, I continue to hold genuine contrition for having committed, though a couple of those sins were clearly more incurred by omission than any personal action I might have taken.

Life collects its toll. Some mistakes cannot be undone and hang around and haunt one. Others, must be atoned for if one ever expects to stare into that overly familiar mug in the mirror every morning. No action will reset any infraction back to zero, but good faith effort seems appropriate if not always entirely welcome. Undoing any past can amount to a lot of work, and fixing pasts prove tricky. Of course the past stands beyond our reach, though we always have the power to change our stories about what happened. Much more than half of most salvation comes from clever storytelling. Some of the rest, though, seems to demand some counterbalancing action, scraping paint and reapplying. Properly done, such refurbishments might manage to best even a first time around properly completed job. It seems essential, though, whether reframing the story or scraping paint, Penance work demands an underlying penitence, genuine contrition, a certain gravitas.

So I might characterize my repainting work as an extended meditation. I last week painted over the site of one of my more original sins. I'd been working too hard then, I realize now that I had been actually punishing myself. Our business was failing and I felt genuinely impotent to revive it. I undertook that repainting effort to compensate for the absence of my real work on my plate. It was an overly emotional investment, sometimes tinged with angry frustration. Fortunately, I had the forebear owner who'd thoughtlessly smeared silicon caulking all over the siding. I didn't need to take any lord's name in vain as long as I had that son-of-a-bitch's legacy to curse. And curse him I did, plenty. That whole effort became a wrestling match with myself. I eventually prevailed but perhaps for the wrong reasons. The vibes one holds when engaging in work tend to stay around as the permanent top coat once it's finished. Depending, that attitude might tarnish.

I've been moving slowly through this effort, understanding that unless my head's properly screwed on when I take to the scaffold, I'm better off, and those siding boards are better off, if I take that day off until I'm shooting more positive vibes out the ends of my weary fingers and through my gloves. It's been concomitant for me to make up a better story than I mustered that first time through, such that it will need no future reframing, such that I might finally put that other story to rest. I want the next naive homeowner who follows my scaffold to be impressed and to even feel blessed with the effort I imprinted on this place. I'm still learning. I pray when recovering from another exhausting day, and sitting in the corner of the garage as the day wanes, that I will not be committing any of the more glaring sins on this final pass through. I plan to retire from house painting after completing this Penance, slate if not precisely wiped clean, at least a shade tidier than I left it before.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver