Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Sick Room and the Floor Painting

I have spent the last several days pretty much alone. It has been the best way to manage my various fears and upsets. Alice has been sick, leaving me to fend for myself. It's been difficult because of my worrying about Lytton. He seems fine now, but I took him to the vet in Perry on Friday because he seemed to be still in pain. Dr. Newcomb gave me a prescripton for a pain killer, which helped considerably right away. At the same time he told me about the possible consequences of a back injury, including paralysis. Ben Joe, my first Lhasa Apso, had back trouble and it ended with euthenasia when he was eleven. This, plus Lytton's new bladder stones, kept me very subdued and somewhat teary, foreseeing his death in various degrees of detail. I've spent a lot of time sitting with him on the couch, talking to him, petting him, wrapping him in blankets against the cold house. I watched every move he made, looking for signs of discomfort. He became so used to his favored place in the household that he curled his lip at the other dogs every time they tried to come near me. Last night a fight broke out between all three of them. I was petrified that Lytton would get hurt and dove into the fray, taking a mean bite from Benny that was meant for dog flesh. When the other dogs were subdued, my golden boy flopped triumphantly down in my lap, gazing up at me with a wounded expression. You could almost see him sticking out his tongue at the other dogs.

Today I ventured out with all three dogs for a walk. Again I was thinking of Lytton's happiness. He loves his walks so much, I didn't want to deprive him of his outings, no matter how much I felt like staying inside. Otherwise, I spent time painting a border on the floor of the dining room. I have had plans to do this for quite a while and had bought the paint well over a week ago. I had chosen a pattern in a book I have about such things, and felt optimistic that I could accomplish the job. It involved making four different stamps out of foam core squares with rubber glued to them. Since I had no rubber and didn't know where to get it, I substituted kitchen sponges. I cut them into 3/4" squares and glued them with Elmer's into the required patterns (obnoxious and time-consuming). I painted the border on the floor with the off-white paint on which I was to stamp the design. All went well with my measuring and taping. The base coat looked good.

Anxious to see how it would look, I decided to test the small stamp on a piece of paper. It was fine. Then I took one of the big stamps shaped like a cross, and rolled red paint on it. With great anticipation I placed it on the floor, pushed down lightly, and pulled it back off. Because I had used sponges, each little sqaure did not fill in, but I liked the look, so I readied the second stamp. When I pulled that one off the floor, one of the little sponge squares fell off. Well, I thought, I can do that one square by hand. I stamped the cross again, then placed the defective stamp down beside it. This time two more squares fell off. By the time I had used it two more times, too many squares had fallen off. I had to abandon the project while I made another stamp. Meanwhile I discovered that it was impossible to get the same pressure every time, as well as the same amount of paint. Some of the designs were light and not completely filled in, while the paint splattered out around the sponge pieces in others, fusing the squares together into rectangles or blotches. Oh, well, I figured. If I wanted perfection, I'd have bought tiles.

Because of the trouble I had, I thought I had better leave the new stamp under a pile of heavy books while the glue dried overnight. My resolve lasted about an hour before I was at it again. This time most of the sponge squares stayed put and I finished the border, albeit somewhat sloppily. When it was done, I stood back to admire it, trying to convince myself that it looked good. I went into the living room to watch TV, occasionally going into the hall to take a look from there. Eventually I had to face the fact that it looked like a tacky Christmas garland with its bright red, green, and white motif. Something had to be done. My solution was to mix some raw sienna acrylic paint with water and brush it over the entire border. It was transformed immediately into something altogether different and I loved it.

I have enjoyed my solitude. I got out my Christmas CD collection and have been listening to Handel's Messiah. It's almost enough to make you believe in God when you think of the enormous inspiration behind religious music. Posted by Picasa