04:01:12 pm on
Tuesday 28 Sep 2021

A Little Help
AJ Robinson

Just the other day my wife Jo Ann and I worked on a little household project. We’ve been doing some remodelling to our townhome, moving some items around and changing the kitchen. The original layout was rather tight and confining; a 1980s design.

Talk of a tiny pantry.

Oh, and the pantry was practically criminal. Talk of tiny. You could hardly swing a cat in the pantry

We hired a local contractor to do some of the work, the heavy lifting, so to speak. Then we decided to save some money by taking care of some items. One of those tasks was the painting.

A few days ago the contractor told us the kitchen was ready for painting. We spent Saturday and Sunday preparing. We sanded and primed; we put painter’s tape on all the vital edges, as we didn’t want paint on the new granite counters.

Then it was time to start painting. These days painting is much easier than years ago. I can well remember the troubles we had trying to keep the paint well-mixed and pour it into a pan without making a mess, doing the cleanup, keeping the brushes and rollers clean, and so on; just getting the drop cloth to stay put was a major trial.

This time, we had plastic sheeting down. As for pouring, the lids now come with an attachable spout. Talk of convenient.

We filled a couple small cups and a roller pan and set to work. Our differences in height were most helpful. Jo got the places down low, until her back gave out; I did the edging along the ceiling and worked down from there.

We even had a special roller for edging along the ceiling. Talk of awesome. As I worked, I could swear the effort became quite the family affair.

In memories, those that are gone still help.

I heard whispers from the past. My dad was there to remind me to wipe my brush, get that excess off the bristles so I wouldn’t get any drips. He told a couple of his stories about helping his father touch up the eaves on his cottage.

Grandfather was always so good about documentation. He had a little book where he recorded everything he did for the old place: date, work he did, what he used and the cost. I chuckled to think about how cheap some of his supplies all those years ago.

With the painting, grandfather even listed the exact colour. Mind you, these days the paint spectrum has gotten much bigger. It’s downright silly how many shades of every colour you can get.

As for brother Greg, he told me to be sure to get good coverage, watch out for streaks and lines and that a second coat was always best to ensure things looked nice and clean. Brother Steve was there to tell me the right way to hold the brush, how best to sit on the stool and the truly correct method to rinse our brushes. When I told Jo Ann that last bit she laughed; yes, that’s what Steve would always do.

I felt an especially strong surge of pride when I looked the kitchen over on Sunday night. Yes, the walls had some bumps and wrinkles, but that was due to the underlying construction. The paint job was second to none, at least in my humble opinion.

This morning, standing at the stove to cook my scrambled eggs, I smiled to look over the room. Yes, it still needs a lot of work: cabinet doors and flooring. It’s coming along nicely. Though.

Another voice guided me.

Oh, and as I made my breakfast, I heard another soft voice whisper to me. My mom was there to make sure I didn’t burn anything; ate everything on my plate, took my vitamins and cleaned up my mess when I was done. So long as I hear those sweet voices, I know my family is always close. In memories, those that are gone still help. May it always be so.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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