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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Painting the Town Green....

Painting the Town Green

In the continuing saga of home ownership, it becomes obvious from time to time that certain menial tasks are necessary for maintenance and often such tasks are not worth the time and expense of hiring a professional. Such was the case with my patio furniture and me recently. 

Over the past several years, Iíve watched the furniture slowly depreciate, putting the inevitable in the back of my mind. Finally, I could no longer deny the obvious Ė the wrought iron furniture was desperately in need of a coat of paint, AND it was a do-it-yourself type project.

"Maybe we could just throw it away and get new?" suggested my partner when I brought up the subject.

"Why? Itís perfectly good!" I replied.

That wrought iron stuff is indestructible. It lasts forever. It has survived three children and years of major abuse. It has moved with me from one end of the country to another several times. It is like part of the family. How can I even speak of throwing it away? Besides, it is so old that it is back in style again. Iíve been seeing practically the very same thing down at the fancy garden and patio shop. Painted green and antiqued with black like the high-priced stuff, it will look great!

I donít know why Iíve procrastinated so long. One short morning of manual labor and it will be over. I already have a large selection of slightly used brushes; some of them even have bristles. Down at Discount Depot, I select the paint carefully: Gloss or semi-gloss? Latex versus oil based? One quart will do the job - I know from years of experience. 

Iím in danger of being thrown out of the store for fondling the paint cans by the time the perfect shade is finally selected, hunter green in latex semi-gloss. 

Clean up for latex paint is with soap and water, no mess versus the turpentine or paint thinner required with an oil base paint. You can see that I am very knowledgeable in these things, practically having a degree in the study of paint charts since the time I repainted the interior of the house.

This furniture has been painted so many times in the past that I scarcely remember the original color. It has gone back and fourth, black to white to black. Green is a totally new experience Ė a venture into sheer decorating madness. The first coat goes on as smooth as water and covers about that well. "A second coat wonít take long," I think, barely able to wait the 30 minutes for the first one to dry. T

hree coats, four coats, and I wonder, "How many coats do I need anyhow?" I donít know if it is the choice of latex for painting metal or just cheap paint, but hours later I am still painting. Afraid of vapor lock if I stop for even a few minutes, I send my honey back to the store to buy more paint for me.

How is it that some people paint and never spill a drop? I try to avoid stepping the green drips, but it is impossible. Paint is on my hands, my clothes, and my hair. The plastic drip cloth sticks to the bottom of my feet. Iíve given up even trying to stay clean and am beginning to look like I stirred the paint with my elbow. If the Jolly Green Giant comes by, I could easily be selected as a suitable mate. On second thought, he could never see me with all this camouflage.

After the fifth coat, the paint is starting to dry up in the bucket. Iím afraid to close my eyes as I remember what happens when you paint around windows and forget to break the seal. I finally decide the furniture looks good enough. The bumps and drips are hardly noticeable from a distance. 

Move over Picasso and make room for another masterpiece. With all those coats of paint, Iím no longer sure if there is furniture inside at all, or whether it has disintegrated into rust and we are using a hundred layers of twisted and hardened paint.

In every do-it-yourself experience there is a lesson learned. Lesson this time: "It isnít easy being green." I found out that latex does not wash off with soap and water if it dries long enough on the skin. 

Soaking in the bathtub and scrubbing myself with a Teflon pot scrubber and a can of powdered cleanser, I know I will never, ever have a second career as a professional painter. Those dudes earn every penny they make. 

The thing that really worries me, however, is that today I noticed some rusty spots were starting to develop on the garage door.

Copyright 2000 Sheila Moss

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