Monday, February 7, 2011


Take down the wallpaper. This was something that I knew I could do for the ‘new’ house project. Not physically challenging and very mindless. Little did I know how wrong I was.

The first day was lots of fun. With the excitement of a new project,  a gang of friends fell to dampening walls and scraping off the paper. The room quickly roiled with steam from the handy dandy steamer. So much moisture that the ceiling paper, yes ceiling paper, just about peeled off on its own. In no time the tiny pink flowers were off the walls of what is to become our dining room.

Early the next morning, still on a high from the previous days rambunctious affair, I headed over to the house. There was some chance that friends would join me or maybe not. I like to get things done early; yesterday’s group likes to do things late. And so I found myself all by myself hour upon hour, with the steamer in one hand, a scraper in the other and lots of time to think. And the only thing I could think about was this: how could I be insensitive to taking this wallpaper down? What about all the time, effort and great joy that had gone into selecting and putting it up.  It felt very sad to be taking down what had been a part of a family’s life for so many years. They had created a warm and elegant ambiance.

The problem was that tastes have changed, Some small rip and tears were here and there, the fireplace had left a bit of smoke smudges, and the dampness had seeped into some corners. All of this was way too much to have swirling in my head all alone. Which naturally led me to think of how this was an analogy for life: a little tattered, a few stains, and some formerly firm surfaces that were now a little soft.  Does it sound like I’ve passed 50?

In the past I have found that when I need to let go of something that has had some importance for me in my life, I pretend to kiss it and say goodbye and let it go. Sending whatever on with best wishes and a positive heart. I tell you those bags and bags of wallpaper had a lot of kisses blown over them. I hope some of those kisses reach the cheeks of the creative family that has passed this precious place into our loving hands.

I have stripped all the rooms. I love the glow of the walls, white with fresh plaster. I know that everyone understands that one has to surround oneself with your own presence. Someday some young whipper-snappers will move in here and say, “Wonder what the old bat was thinking having such bright rooms. Let’s cozy things up and put up some intimate warm wallpaper.”


Anonymous said...

I spy Lucy! KmH

susan vieth said...

Doesn't she look like she's up to something....?!