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The Mast-Head: Busy Hand

Wed, 01/12/2022 - 17:34

With the holidays behind us and in the slow part of the year, it suddenly seems time to get to those things that need doing but which we have not had time to take on before. But time doesn’t always cooperate.

Nearly two years ago now, when we all retreated into our own defensive spaces, I claimed the second floor at the Star office as my redoubt. Through the heights of the first and second surges, the few staff members who came in to work stayed one to a room for the most part. Most others remained at home, remotely putting the paper together each week. The newsroom, normally a buzzing place with the sound of typing and conversation, went silent as we moved instead into cyberspace. For me, it seemed the perfect time to get after the chipped paint and cracked plaster.

Decades of pushpins and time’s general weathering had left the newsroom trim in a sorry state. Someone had turned me onto MH Ready Patch, and off I went, filling, sanding, and priming the worst of it. The paint store was able to exactly match the woodsy green on the trim. To say it was satisfying would be an understatement; I had to restrain myself from endlessly pointing out the results to the few people who passed through.

Even though outside obligations were constrained by the pandemic, things of one sort or another have come up, and the trim work is far from complete. Then, too, my attention shifted to the second-floor plaster, which had developed large cracks during a foundation repair a few years ago, and when a friend told me about the pleasures of Durabond 90, I could not resist. Now, with the Omicron variant isolating us again and the cold making outdoor diversions less appealing, I can’t walk past a plaster crack without itching to mix up a batch. 

Few things are as satisfying as a well-done home repair, to me at least. It is the kind of pleasure that makes me rub my hands together with miserly glee. Robin, the Star business manager, calls this tic my “money hands,” as if I pulled a winning row on a slot machine. I suppose there is some of that; lord knows how much it would cost to get a tradesperson in here to do the same work. But signing a check is not nearly as much fun as learning a new skill — and the sense of pride in doing it myself.


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