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Friday, November 5, 2010

Celebrating The Scars

Nothing's perfect.

And certainly in a house that dates back to the year
that President Andrew Jackson handily won
re-election, stomping Henry Clay in the November ballotting,
there are more than a few imperfections.

It's a good thing I'm not a perfectionist.


When Alida was born, Howard and I lived in a big 3rd floor railroad flat in New York City.  I  still remember every inch of that apartment, as I also remember all the nooks and crannies of our last house, a 90-year old Craftsman.  Both of these homes are part of me, woven into my stored  memories, my heart pictures, and I think it's because we painted them.

In painting, you touch and transform every square inch of a room's surfaces.  You don't just see the imperfections, you experience the room in a physical and tactile way, and you become connected.

Or, is that just me?

When we bought That Old House, every room needed painting.  We hired painters who did most of it.
The kitchen and sunroom we left for ourselves.  We are finally tackling that now.

It's a slow process, because Life keeps rearing its ugly head and interfering, but I am getting to know my kitchen in a new way, and I'm seeing its past reflected in its rather battered present.

Some pictures, below.  These are of primed and not yet painted woodwork in our kitchen,
which is in the newer rear part of the house -- probably 1880s.

These are the ghosts of hardware past,
paint jobs past, dings & dents & boo-boos past:

 That's the wallpaper we're putting up in the kitchen, and the woodwork is just clad in primer.

Doesn't everyone have switches that connect to nothing, that have so many
coats of paint on them they are permanently glued to the wall?
We have more than one; this one is near the refrigerator:
Huh!  I just noticed a missing screw on our mystery switch.

 I can't ignore the loose rimlock on the powder room door anymore.
 I've primed around it, and peeked down into its heart.
I think that is bare wood under there, meaning that this rimlock has been on this door for . . .
well, for one heck of a long time, and about 8 coats of paint.
 Note to self: Lose the shiny screws, and if the lock is truly shot,
my Dad says he has a few like it out in the shed at the beach house. 

The corners and details of the old painted woodwork are no longer sharp.
They are worn round by generations of paint, thickly applied.

 In a corner of the butler's pantry, there's a bit of cracked plaster.  
Cracked, but not loose.  Kind of like me.   I'll live with that.

 At the foot of the back stairs into the kitchen, more softly rounded woodwork.

A good painter would strip this woodwork, fill the holes, sand it smooth, make it crisp once more.
I am not a good painter.  I'm an amateur who loves those scars of the past.
I like living with the ghosts of real life, in our old house.

Remember the asparagus ferns that swayed in the breezes on our front porch all summer?
We're getting frosty nights, so the ferns have toddled in and taken refuge in the front hall.  All four of them.

 They are like kids home from college, taking up way too much room.
Love the hair-do on this one:

Not sure where they'll winter.  They are rather large.
 Well, it's Friday and I've set myself a goal for kitchen painting today, so I'd better hop to it.

Have a lovely November weekend!
I bought some bling for our new shed, and I can't wait to see Howard's reaction.
Stay tuned.  -- Cass

Linking to three blog parties . . .

Cindy at My Romantic Home hosts Show & Tell Friday.  Click here!
It's Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage.  Click here!
And at Tootsie Time, it's Fertilizer Friday.  Click here!


  1. Cass,
    I couldn't agree with you more. My daughter bought an old house this past summer and it is in lovely condition. It was built in 1890 and has original mahogany trim everywhere(some of the baseboards are 10 inches high) none of the first floor has ever been painted, a miracle. Even though she prefers painted white trim, there is something wonderful about seeing the original intention. Old houses are treasures and you are a lucky woman to be living amidst such history. Thank you for sharing your photos!

  2. I totally agree with you about the scarring and imperfections... remnants from all the previous families. And we certainly have our fair share of the same here.

    Once again I have to tell you how much I am loving your wallpaper. It is such a great choice for your kitchen. I'm so looking forward to the completion just to see it all finished {I suppose you are, too!!}

    Oh, we brought in all of our ferns and palms at the lakehouse. It looks like a jungle!!


  3. I have never had any luck keeping ferns in the house. Good luck with your painting.
    Have a great weekend.

  4. The wallpaper is very pretty...ughh painting...I don't think it ever house is only 20 years old but I have little paint jobs everywhere!!! Have a lovely weekend Cass!!!

  5. Wow! I never thought of painting the house is the same as getting to know it. I have painted every room in the house at one time or another, and yes, you DO get to know every imperfection that gives it its character.

    Thanks for posting that thought.


  6. HI Dear Cass! Oh, I just loved your post. I feel just like you - I've not completely connected with any house I've had until I've painted almost every room! Don't you wish all the little boo boos could tell you how they arrived? :) I love your house and you just keep making it better and better.
    Thank you so much, Cass, for bidding on the runner. It's really a great way to help our friend Valorie.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  7. Hi Cass!!!

    Your title drew me in. I've got lots of NEW scars on my furniture from our move. I have been able to get to the point of moving on (I really don't like the 'distressed' look that is ever popular these days) and not harboring anger at my mover boys (Fisherhubby, my dad, and our pastor) for NOT padding things enough.

    But I haven't gotten to the point of CELEBRATING the scars yet. I've been too busy trying to HIDE them.

    Now - - - on top of all this unpacking - - - you mean I gotta be working on my mental attitude too?????? Awwwwwwww - - - where's the fun in THAT???


  8. "Doesn't everyone have switches that connect to nothing, and have so many coats of paint on them that they are permanently glued to the wall?" I guess our house is in good company! We also have more than one :)
    Good luck with the painting...I'll be posting about floor sanding tonight. Aren't we busy bees with holiday deadlines!

  9. Okay, bling for a shed. Now I am really getting jealous.
    I do all the painting here and you can always tell where I have been because my roller always slips and leaves some wall color on the ceilings.

  10. Enjoy your painting. I agree, I like all the dings and scars of the woodwork and it gives the house character.

  11. I love the dings and scars, too.. makes the house a real "home". Now I'm interested in seeing what BLING looks like on a shed.

  12. On the best house I ever owned I put 72 gallons (YES 72 gallons) of paint on the woodwork. It was an old historic home and everything took 2 coats as it had not been painted in about 70 or 80 years. She was beautiful when she was done. I soooo get loving that old woodwork. Hugs- Diana

  13. Hey there Cass~ I love all your character in your house! I actually really enjoy some of the quirks in an old house and it really shows that a house was lived in and loved! I wanna see the bling on the shed too!!! Thanks so much for sharing this at Feathered Nest Friday! :)

  14. Oh, to have the energy to tackle the FUN of a project like that! Lots of work, yes, but oh so much fun!

  15. I love the bumps and dents that give character ot any older house.
    Can't wait to see the finished kitchen. The Great Dane should be afraid, very afraid!

  16. Embracing the imperfection is so good for you...otherwise you would go perfectly batty in an old house I know cause I awoke to a squirrel in my bedroom yesterday! ♥O

  17. Your home is beautiful! My neighborhood is a neighborhood of old homes and I could not love it more!:o) Enjoy a beautiful weekend and happy painting to you!



  18. That house is so gorgeous...I am not sure if I said that before or not, but I like the design a lot.

  19. Cass, this post brings back so many memories! The hours of stripping wallpaper, painting, caulking, tiling, etc. really did let me get to know my old house. I love how that happens! Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to think about it), your post also reminds me that I need to get re-acquainted with my old house. There are some maintenance projects I've been putting off... Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

  20. there are switches in my house that don't do a darn thing and it is a new house! lol
    I love the analogy of the college kids taking up too much room...that is priceless!!! I once had an asparagus fern that I had given up on...I took it to the basement and plunked it in the last empty spot under the stairs...a long way away from any window what so ever.
    6 months later I needed something from under there...and went to the area...and to my surprise that fern had such a will to survive that it was all white and spindly...but it was growing around the corner and reaching for the window's light about 50 feet away! Needless to say, I took it straight upstairs and watered it...put it in the window and it lived a nice little life...without giving me much trouble...haha...must have taught it a lesson!
    thanks for linking in and bringing my little memory back...hee hee...I hope to be around more in the coming months...and to see you often!


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