Sunday, May 2, 2010

Taking it One Step at a Time

I like to take on a new 'house project' each spring -- a 'legislative assignment,' if you will.

This year, I'm refinishing my staircase...actually it's not fancy enough to be called a 'staircase.' It's just a tired old stairway that leads to the second floor of this 100-year-old house. I know it's tired because it complains OUT LOUD with squeaks and wails whenever someone walks up or down its 13 steps.

I started the assignment weeks ago and I've done six steps...that's it...SIX! (Why is it that every assignment I tackle is way harder and much more complicated than it seems at the start?)

I'm just guessing here, but I'd say this stairway was stained and varnished by the builder and remained that way for, say 40 years. Then, someone came along and decided to glue down some rubber treads and call it good for another 40 years.

Then came the 'carpet days.' Anderson (only people with the name 'Anderson' have lived in this house) pieced together some old carpet pieces on top of the rubber treads, stapled the pieces down and added a tad of glue just to make sure the 500 staples on each step would hold forever!

Then, years later, another Anderson ripped up the carpet pieces with great anticipation, hoping to find beautiful hardwood steps shining underneath. Instead, that Anderson found rubber treads and a hard layer of glue on top of them...and underneath them. Enthusiasm may have dimmed as she pulled out hundreds of staples from each step and attemped to scrape the rubber treads and the glue layers that were completely fused to the wood. Overwhelmed, she tacked down some rubber-backed carpet treads on the steps to mask the hideous layers underneath and things were good for a few more years.

ENTER: one more Anderson, volunteering to be the 'committee chairperson' for the assignment. (That's me!)

I tried a number of different strategies: an electric sander, putty knives, steel wool, steel brushes, liquid stripper......and lots of elbow grease!

Now that I've done six steps, I have it down to a routine. It involves all the above mentioned tools plus a hammer for pounding in the nails and staples I can't pull out with my needle-nose pliers, two more electric sanders, each with a different purpose and a vacuum cleaner.
Each step takes about 4 hours.

Last week I 'unalloted' the assignment....or maybe it would be better to say that I 'tabled' it.

But today is a new day...I have made a motion to take the assignment off the table and move forward with vigor!

All in favor of the motion say "aye." Opposed "nay."