Painting the Porch

This summer we are finally getting our house painted. We’ve been trying to do this for awhile, now, and even hired a painter last year, but it’s finally to the point where he could start working. New regulations on certifying workers who disturb paint on houses older than 1980, which might have lead paint (ours does still have some), caused part of the delay.

We’ve chosen our colors and painted one small wall to test them. That was the easy part. We also decided to paint the porch rails, spindles, columns, etc. ourselves to save a little money. We may regret that decision when it’s all said and done, though our painter doesn’t seem to mind. It’s slow work! I’ve been scraping them for the past three days and getting near the point where I can paint, though there are a few patches I want to go back to this morning, and there are a few repairs I need to make before I paint too much, so we’ll see if I beat the rain that’s forecast for this afternoon.

Painting the porch is good from the perspective that it gives me more appreciation for what our painter is doing. We talk quite a bit while working not too far from each other. He gives a lot of advice on painting and prepping, and he has lots of stories. I’ve heard about half the houses in our neighborhood, and about his college experience at Concordia in Moorhead, where coincidentally, I know the athletic director, a friend of my sister. How an African American guy from Mississippi ended up there in the 1970’s, I’m not entirely sure, though I may find out. But I won’t give away all of John the Painter’s stories.

What I learn is that he knows a lot about what he does, and that he chose this profession, or fell into it, after being educated in another field. Maybe it fit his lifestyle better than his other career. Nothing wrong with that, and we’re glad to have a good professional painter to work with. From working on the porch myself, I’m reminded of all the work that goes into painting an old house. It’s not just slapping on paint, which I’d be perfectly capable of (though I might not like climbing the tall ladders to reach the gables and I would have to rent scaffolding to do much of the work). It’s not just painting, but getting to know your house.

Just like when we’ve painted the interior, when painting and prepping the exterior, you run into things that need a little work, and as our carpenter said: ‘now’s the time to do it.’ So I’ve been re-gluing the spindles that were sagging a bit, and fixing cracked pieces of the scrollwork below. There are a few boards that have been cracked and need to be replaced here and there. So I’ve made a few trips to the hardware store, as well. Nothing is too serious (so far), but the issues need to be addressed. All of that slows me down a bit, but it’s worth it.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: