Joco Diversions

Call it home maintenance — or DI-Why

Finding the perfect music or podcast is essential to DIY painting projects.
Finding the perfect music or podcast is essential to DIY painting projects.

I have no idea what to do with a broken toilet flapper.

For me, peering at anything under that porcelain tank lid is like diving into a horror movie. The same holds true when dealing with tasks requiring hammers or screwdrivers, unless the screwdriver is used to open a can of Sherwin Williams enamel latex.

Interior painting is the one “D.I. WHY” I can do. I’ve been wielding Purdy brushes and wearing FrogTape bracelets long before YouTube existed. How I learned to transform a room with a bucket of paint and a little grit is a mysterious eggshell finish black hole in my life skills resume.

“I’ve been buying spackle since before you were born, kid.”

This know-how is good and bad, as I was reminded last week. Or should I say lost week? I sanded and painted nine (nine!) window frames. Six of them were on the large side. More than half were crank out windows, which meant I had to time the drying phase against the elements and mosquito brigades.

Why would I take on such a project? The short answer is the home ownership domino effect. It seems you can’t feed the money pit with one project without having to first do something else to accommodate the new thing.

In this case, my husband and I decided to switch out window treatments. The original overpriced bamboo Roman shades we purchased years ago were a functional disaster from the moment the warranty expired. I think this is how the term “bamboozled” originated.

Our blinds would partially collapse or not stay up at all, leaving us spending a good five minutes every day trying to adjust the cords to see outside. Every day we felt like puppeteers of an evil force. Many times we settled for catawampus views of our backyard. A total feng shui fail.

So after years of hitting our heads with a hammer (the only way I know how to use one), we pitched the shady shades and ordered some hopefully sturdy wood blinds. This forced me to examine the window frames and sills. They looked distressed, no thanks to trapped moisture, sun and time. The sanding and painting dominoes fell. Right on me.

I suppose I could have hired a professional to handle the project, but it was imperative to have the windows ready in case the new blinds arrived early. A likely possibility, I was told, wink wink! I did not want to schedule pro painter estimate conga lines, and worse, add lots more to the cost of our window treatment do-over.

The savings landed on the good column. Also positive: having the opportunity to catch up on hours and hours (and hours) of podcasts as I slugged through the prep work, the sanding, the step-stool acrobatics, the actual painting, the clean-up.

On the bad column, in addition to stiff muscles, I accidentally listened to gloomy podcasts. Maybe it’s just how my brain works — I have this crazy spatial-memory thing, because now there’s one window that reminds me of medical disasters.

Fortunately, I switched the tone early. Other sills conjure comedians’ hilarious observations, and the rest remind me of Charlotte Bronte. (Shout out to the History Chicks podcast.) Yes, Charlotte and her sisters had some bad luck, but they also lived lives of brilliance. Now when I look out certain windows, I’ll imagine I’m gazing at a sweeping moor instead of a suburban lawn needing a good mowing.

This all sounds crazy, but trust me, before undertaking any home maintenance drudgery, I recommend first tuning into upbeat music/educational stuff. That’s the big takeaway here. Why not absorb positivity while your hardwood floor is absorbing a latex blob that just missed the drop-cloth?

So now I’m done and relieved and anticipating the blinds, which apparently won’t arrive early after all. The wait feels like watching paint dry.

Reach Denise Snodell at or on Twitter @DeniseSnodell