A few weeks ago, in discussing our painting adventures, Sarah mused:
Hopefully we won’t be slowed down too much by our need to sand down their bright red Venetian plaster so we can paint over it.
In as much as my mother can be slowed down by anything, this fear was well-placed. At some point in the painting process, it occurred to us that we were going to need to sand down the hallway before painting it. When I asked out loud, “But where will we get an electric sander?”, my mother replied, “I’ve got one!” And when I asked out loud, “But who shall spend the time sanding down this entire bloody hallway?”, my mother replied, “I will!”
Armed with an electric sander, a face mask and an iron will, my mother spent more five hours that Thursday gleefully attacking the Venetian plaster that decorated the front part of our hallway. When the plaster proved to be tougher than initially expected, my mom fought back with greater force. She was a machine. She made that plaster her bitch.
We had been warned by our home decorating expert friend Rachel, as well as by my mother, that the dust generated by this sanding experiment would get over everything. Yeah, yeah, we said. No, they said, EVERYTHING. You’ve gotta seal off the hallway with plastic, turn it into a scene from Outbreak, before you can even think about starting to sand. And even then, you need to leave it up for a few hours while the Brownian motion does its magic, and the dust settles. I still was dubious of this doomsday scenario, so I halfheartedly followed their advice—the plastic went up, but when it fell halfway through, I didn’t bother to fix it.
Boy did I learn my lesson. That shit got over everything: floors, walls, window sills, doorknobs, blinds, eyelashes, etc. At the entrance to the living room, there was a solid layer of dust upon the walls—a layer that faded to the actual color of the wall as you walked farther in. There were parts of the house that, as you walked across them barefoot, would keep a dusty red impression of your visit. My mom’s white poodle had the good sense to lounge about in the hall during the project, and came out of it with a distinctly rosy hue.
We did our best to sweep it all up, but a couple weeks later, we were still finding reminders of our journey to Mars. I think one of the window screens still has red dust attached to it, but I say I think because you can only see it from the outside, and it’s not often that I stand outside my house and stare in through my living room windows. But strangers and passers-by do, and I can’t imagine what they’re all thinking caused such a strange sight.
In the end, it was worth it, because it make painting the hallway SO MUCH easier. And now we have a pleasantly white-ish hallway, intead of an unpleasantly brick-reddish hallway, to greet us when we arrive home every evening. It’s very nice. Once in a while, when we’re feeling particularly wistful, we’ll think back on this little adventure and wonder, “Gee, I hope this doesn’t give us cancer!”