One bad piece of planning for the Cottage Tour was when I asked two of my neighbors if they would be willing to put their adorably and recently renovated cottages on the tour. Frannie and Amanda said yes in a cheerful way, which was great.
The bad-planning part is that my shed is directly across the street from their cottages. Which means that hundreds of people are going to be coming down Maple Avenue next Friday and having to pass by a structure that isn’t really shabby chic, isn’t quaint, isn’t cute. It’s just . . . shiftless.
I knew when the season started that I was going to have to do something about the shed. Actually, as it is with so many problems, I’ve known that for about five years now.
The previous owner called this collection of tar paper and boards a “carriage house,” which is just hilarious given that it was built in the 1940s and housed, for decades, a World War II-vintage Jeep. (The Jeep now lives down the street at another cottage. The shed now houses bicycles, a clawfoot bathtub, a really old propane tank, and probably six thousand brown recluses.) I saw a photo of our cottage in the Assembly archives last week that showed that the shed used to be white, as did our cottage. So I guess it hasn’t been painted in at least a couple of decades.
I guess you can tell that by looking at it.
At any rate, I’ve had in my head an inky color. Our babysitter Hannah painted the barn on her farm a superdeep eggplant color a while ago, so I have coveted that for a while. But it took my friend Annis’s exhortation and nudging to get me to buy the three gallons of Deep Mulberry that would take this shed to a new destiny.
Five years of dread and four hours of painting later, with the able hands of Annis and sister Buffy . . .
Painting the side required moving a half-composted pile of old wood away from the side of the shed. I think it was this woodpile that had kept me from dealing with this shed all these years. It was the snakiest, creepiest pile of wood I’d ever seen.
But once I had my pitchfork and the Gloves of Invincibility, I chucked the slugs and the crawlies and the boards into a pile, with Annis yelling “snake” to her great amusement, and I finally hit grade level.
Painting the side, down low, reminded me of trying to finish knitting something when you think you’re running out of yarn. If you knit faster, the yarn lasts longer.
Here, the faster I painted, the less likely the totally rotted wood would disintegrate. It was a race against decay. And I kept in mind the wisdom of Buddy the paint guy at Greeter’s Hardware: “Yeah, paint’s kind of like glue sometimes.”
Sister Buffy was stalwart. Annis just covered herself up in paint. We agreed on a fairly relaxed level of prep. The rule was that if something had been painted before, it needed to be Deep Mulberried. Any board that was so warped that it poked out should be painted on all visible sides. If anything was loose, don’t yank on it.
I found it really satisfying to paint something where any effort was going to make an improvement. And overcoming dread? InTOXicating!
It’s fun to watch the color shift from black to purple, depending on the light.
So if you come to the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly Woman’s Association Cottage Tour and Bazaar next Friday (details here), you can see the shed in its newfound glory. Unless, of course, the weight of all this new paint is the final straw, and the whole thing falls down.