Slices of Life

By Jill Perter

Fall is a good time to tackle home improvement projects. My husband and I were recently forced to this conclusion after ignoring the fix-it needs of our house and yard for longer than we’d like to admit.

You may have experienced a situation like ours. It starts with something simple: the paint chips off in a quarter-sized spot on the stair railing. At first, this minor imperfection sticks out like a sore thumb. You vow to get the paint can from the basement and do a little touch up soon. You can’t imagine living with that horrible and ugly eyesore for any length of time.

Before you know it, a month goes by. Then a year. Pretty soon you don’t even see the chipped spot anymore. You look right past it because it’s become part of your backdrop.

As has the mystery stain in the middle of the carpet, the scratches on the end table and the cracked window in the family room.

So far we’ve only touched on the deficiencies to the home’s interior. Let’s not forgot about the backyard where the hedges have expanded to heights and widths never before seen outside the rainforest, weedy vines have grown thick enough to support Tarzan and the bushes are threatening to consume the house.

When unattended, things break down, grow out of control and in general get messy. This happens gradually so you don’t even notice the little by little chaos undermining your neat and tidy life. Until one day you are startled into seeing things with new eyes and realize your backyard has become a jungle.

Usually, this awakening comes from an approaching benchmark like a high school graduation or wedding. You feel an impetus to spruce up your house in preparation for Aunt Tilly and Uncle Fred’s visit.

We didn’t have a looming deadline just an enormous home improvement need. It was a need that required action. My husband and I huddled up and decided to go on the offensive. Like I said, fall is a good time to tackle home improvement projects. This weekend we tackled. I was a virtual linebacker.

Even though our skills have been on sabbatical, my husband and I have a history of being ready and able do-it-yourselfers. Together we’ve hung mini blinds, painted bedrooms and even wallpapered bathrooms without ever getting divorced. That says something about a marriage. One thing we’ve learned is when it comes to completing home improvement projects together, sometimes it’s best to work alone.

That’s why, if you stopped by our place this weekend, you would have found him spraying weed killer outside, while I was spraying window cleaner inside. We were working together apart. This is a highly effective technique and has saved us from countless home improvement squabbles over the years.

Completing projects inside and outside the house can be satisfying except for one teensy problem.

Washing the windows makes them cleaner and brighter, which makes the fading of the curtains more obvious. Replacing the old curtains will accentuate the dinginess of the wallpaper, which leads the eye directly to the chipped paint on the stair rail.

Home improvement begets home improvement. Sigh. After this weekend, I don’t think I’ll ever be done. But, I can go back to where the mess started. First thing tomorrow I’m going to get out the paint and take care of the blasted chipped spot. I can’t imagine living with such an offensive blemish for any length of time.

Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page.Email her atpertmn@qwest.net; or visit her website atmarketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.