It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Holiday, Day 1

Yesterday was the first real day of my holiday. Real as in the rest of the city is back at work after the long weekend. And I’m not, nyah, nyah!

My big excitement? Went to Home Hardware and bought the necessaries for stripping the dining room table. Got all started: paint-stripping gel smeared all over. Tip: Do NOT use one of those foam applicators when applying stripper. The more I smeared, the droopier and softer the applicator became, flopping over limp and spreading wildly on the table. Clearly it, too, was being dissolved. God knows what excess toxic fumes I was breathing. I began to fear for the budgie: poor little sap, the canary in the mines of home improvements. I kept an eye on him. When he fell off his perch, that’d be the time to grab the children and run. However, he continued to chirrup happily, and I continued to smear goo.

Waited the proscribed time, then went to town with the scraper. Got lots of vile dark crud off the table. When I’d rinsed it down afterward, I was thrilled with the sight of my lovely clean pine table. Pale yellow, and much duller than before. This is good. Now I can start sanding, right?

Eight minutes of sweaty struggle later, I get the sandpaper attached to the palm sander. Why do they make it so damned precise? One mm too far on one side, and it won’t snap in the other. Next time I cut the sheet bigger than instructed. Nyah.

And awaaay we go!! Except, geez, this thing isn’t nearly as powerful as I’d expected. I’d been warned about applying even pressure, not stopping in one spot lest it make a divot and spoil the table. Ha! Nothing like that is remotely possible with my little Black and Decker, but with patience, I get a lovely clean stripe down the table. Clean, pale, white. White? Hmmm… Damn.

This means, of course, I’ve removed only about half the varnish. Sweat is dripping into my eyes. It’s time to make dinner. So I quit. We ate dinner on a table that looks like it has leprosy.

This project is going to take longer than I expected…

August 3, 2005 - Posted by | crafts, holidays


  1. And you call this a holiday, way too much exertion for your standard holiday 🙂


    Comment by Daily Commuter | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  2. Rule #1 about home improvement:

    The project will ALWAYS take longer than you imagined.

    Rule #2 is a corollary of rule #1:

    The project will always COST more than you imagined.

    Comment by Matthew | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  3. Ah…A home improvement holida…you’er my type of gal. Last year I refinished Owen’s bureau, made 2 swags and a valance for his window, stripped and sanded my coffee table and my dining table. This year, Aidan needs curtains and I think I am going to attempt recovering the cushions on a chair. Have fun!! A circular sander is better I’ve heard. Did you take before and after pics?

    Comment by Heather | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  4. I can only imagine how darling your leprosy table will look after you’ve put some blood, sweat, and tears into it.

    You crack me up, Mary. I’m so glad that the budgie wasn’t a casualty of your household coal mining experiment. 🙂

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  5. Does Emma know you were using her Budgie as a test subject?

    That table has long needed refinishing. Just think of how beautiful it will be when you’re done!

    Comment by Haley | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  6. Si: Given how much I’ve sweated over that table in the last 36 hours, I figure this will be better than a trip to the spa! And I tend to forget to eat when I’m engrossed by a project. Plus the extra trip to the hardware this morning, which I opted to walk. I should just be melting away! Wahoo!

    Matthew: you’re right. I’ve experienced rule number one already, and, as noted above, had to make a second trip to the hardware store for a better scraper and a coarser grit of sandpaper. Only $11.52 more, but the principle holds!

    Crayonz: thanks! No blood yet, though I did give my thighs a near miss with the sander not too long ago. Lots of sweat, and only groans of exasperation, no actual tears. Yet.

    Haley: No, Emma does not know (she’s at a friend’s cottage) and you’re not to tell her, thanks. I’m done with the toxic bit now, thankfully, and am onto the brute force bit. Phew. It looks, unfinished as it is, 100% better than before. And I’m not done, so it’ll only get better, right? Right?

    Comment by Mary P. | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  7. Si: p.s. Nice picture. Was it taken recently?

    Comment by Mary P. | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  8. Heather: Oops! I skipped you somehow. Sorry! I’m impressed by your list. How long did it take you to accomplish all that?

    My projects fall into two categories: home improvement – this table and painting Emma’s new bedroom which is under construction even as we speak; and organizational stuff – the back porch and the basement are horrific and need to be taken sternly in hand. I had wanted to make skirts for Emma and myself, but of course there’s nothing in the stores but winter fabrics now, it being August 2 and 31 degrees…

    Comment by Mary P. | August 3, 2005 | Reply

  9. Matthew is absolutely right!!!

    Hopefully, you will do something frivolous and girlie on your vacation too!

    Comment by Misfit Hausfrau | August 4, 2005 | Reply

  10. It took me about three weeks. I’ll start everything at the same time, and then follow through on one until its done. Good luck!!

    Comment by Heather | August 4, 2005 | Reply

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