The Washerwoman’s Genes

March 20, 2006

Two Thin Coats

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 8:43 am

My dad taught me how to paint a room. Brush it on, even, stroking in all directions. Soak it into the cracks with a tamping motion. Not much to it: decent tools, taking care, a bit of technique. As with all these supposedly manual tasks, the quality of attention matters most.

Roller technique’s pretty much the same. Go all ways, not just up and down. I can still hear the roller on wallboard, the sound of stickiness, a tacky whoosh as the paint laid on, and the small echo from behind the wall.

He said: Don’t slop it on thick. Do two thin coats, covers better that way.

I think of Cornelius, now, too, when I work: a stone mason. There came his daughter and a granddaughter between my dad and him, not so much distance at all. He worked with his hands: a man who had technique, tools, know-how. He built his house; my dad built ours. When his house needed painting, he did it. When I do these ordinary tasks, I think of them, the ancestors, who did them too.


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