Lydah (the dog) is doing fabulously. The crate-training works like a charm and she no longer yips through the night. Now she busies herself finding the ONE thing left on the floor that she's not supposed to chew, and, well. Chews it. I think we got ourselves one special dog, because her extrasensory perception about what we DON'T want her to do is pretty amazing.
What? I can't chew the desk either? This place is crazy with the rules.
Anyway, on to other subjects. We're building a screen porch on the back of our house. Want to see it, halfway done? Ok! I'm happy to oblige.
That's what we've got done so far. And by "we", I mean "Cody". And by "got done" I mean "I'm from East Texas, y'aaaaal". All I've done is help hold some boards and caulk. Oh, caulking. It might very well be the bane of my existence. When we built the house, almost all the caulking duties fell to me. I'm not sure if it's because everyone just really hates me, or because I am woefully inadequate in doing...well...anything else. But either way, I had to caulk EVERYTHING. Do you know how much caulk is in your current residence? Do you know how many tedious, excruciating man-hours it takes to GET that much caulk in your current residence? I DO.
So, the screen porch. It falls to me to get the thing caulked. Actually, the day before, I was instructed to make a run to Lowe's and buy the caulk, along with some other items we were running short on. This is never a good plan, sending me to Lowe's with a really non-specific instruction such as "buy some caulk. Make sure it's weatherproof". Have you been to Lowe's and looked at the caulk aisle? The possibilities are endless.
After perusing the caulk aisle for, I don't know, 10 hours? It felt like it - I found some polyurethane caulk. It was in the Specialty Caulk section, and spoke to me in large red print, guaranteeing me that it would be weatherproof, waterproof, stain-proof, tear-proof, crack-proof - basically, the Most Indestructible Caulk Available. I figured there couldn't be anything better (and I am nothing if not a Maximizer), so I bought it.
The next day, after my caulk purchase had been sufficiently praised (read: Cody looked at it and said Geez, I guess we won't have to worry about water coming in through the cracks....of the SCREEN PORCH), I set forth to caulk. I got the caulking gun, prepared myself emotionally as best I could, and squeezed the trigger of the gun. Nothing. Maybe I didn't sufficiently poke through the plastic tip, I thought. A search for longer and pointier things ensued. I found an old sprinkler flag - you know, those extraordinarily dangerous objects you use to mark where your sprinkler heads are? In case you've never seen one of these beauties, they consist of a little 3"x4" plastic flag attached to a 2' long sharp metal stick. It could certainly, as we've all been warned about, poke your eye out. Anyway.
The sprinkler flag worked beautifully. It came out covered with Indestructible Caulk, and I walked back out to the porch. I pulled the trigger again, and NOTHING came out. "Cody, I think the gun's broken," I said. "Here, why don't you try it." This is famous Elise Speak for I don't really have that much interest in this project and on top of that it has presented me with a modicum of difficulty. Why don't I quit and you do it instead. Unfortunately, the longer Cody knows me the less susceptible he is to this tactic. This time was no exception, and all he did was grab the gun from me, pull the trigger, and hand it back to me as shiny white caulk came curling from the tip, saying "Huh, looks fine to me. Here ya go!".
Unhappy with this result, I mustered my strength and tried again. This time I pulled the trigger of the caulking gun as hard as I could, and to my dismay, a tiny, minuscule bit of caulk squeezed out. As I sat back on my heels and surveyed an entire porch's worth of caulking, I began to realize just how fun this project was really going to be. I also had my secretary cancel everything I had on tap for the next 6-8 weeks.
"This caulk is REALLY hard to squeeze," I informed Cody. "I'm not sure what the problem is, but this is going to take FOREVER."
"I think it's because you got that crazy super caulk," Cody replied. "Why did you get that crap? It's like polyurethane or something. Wasn't there anything different?"
Wasn't there anything different indeed. Only about 100 different options, and of course I had to find, with my eagle eye of doom, the one kind that was not only Indestructible, but also Impossible To Work With. Why don't they put THAT on the tube? In big red print?
Well, it was too late for woebegone revelations at that point. I had to soldier on. Two hours later, my hands were 100% covered in polyurethane caulk, about half of the porch was weatherproofed, waterproofed, stain-proofed, etc., etc., ad nauseam, and I was going insane. You might (and with good reason) think I was losing my mind because of the sheer monotony, the insipid tediousness of the caulking project. I admit, the amount of actual caulking accomplished in the two hours I had been working was discouraging, at best. But that is not why I was, in effect, coming unhinged. No, that was because my hands were dry.
Did you get that? My hands were dry.
It is a little-known fact about me that I go absolutely crazy if my hands aren't really, really moisturized, like, ALL THE TIME. When we were building the house, and would spend hours and hours on the worksite dealing with sawdust, and grout, and concrete mix, and bricks, and all sorts of other substances that are, as a rule, incredibly DRY, I would have to have a large bottle of lotion on hand at all times. Otherwise I would slowly spiral downward, out of control, and into a land where licking and spitting upon my own hands seemed a welcome respite. No one wants to see me there, trust me. So by the end of the house project, there were probably no short of 12 bottles of lotion, all dispersed strategically through the house, ready at the moment for me to dash inside, panicking, and pump the sweet, sweet moisture onto my hands. I'm like a really sick crack addict, only with Jergens® Extra Dry®.
Some days I would get really moisture-obsessed, and would spread the most Extreme Lotion Ever, the kind that is made for like, Eskimos and People Afflicted with Cracked and Bleeding Skin, all over my hands and wrists, slap on some work gloves, and happily let my skin marinate all day long. I cannot stand chalk, or chalkboards, or any kind of natural stone or brick that has any kind of dry and dusty feel. I can't handle lumber, or concrete, or dirt or sand....ugh, even writing about these things is making my hands feel like they are curling up into shriveled claws and dying.
But you built a house, you say. You live in the world, you point out, where things like dirt and chalkboards exist. And to that I say, yes, you're right. You're absolutely right. And I have found ways to co-exist with these awful substances, these terrible blights on humanity. I carry at least one bottle or tube of lotion with me at all times. Need hand lotion with SPF? I've got you covered. A little aloe-vera for that sunburn? Let me get my purse!
However (and back to the original story), the polyurethane weatherproof waterproof blah blah caulk that was covering my hands was not allowing ANY moisture through. It had promised me, back in the Specialty Caulks section at Lowe's, that it wouldn't break ranks for water in any form and it wasn't about to lose face now just to pander to my obsessive compulsiveness. I ended up pouring about 2/3 of a can of paint thinner all over my hands in quick, successive sessions, scrubbing my skin with a wire-tipped brush, and screaming for mercy, for someone, please, to have mercy on my tortured soul.
The caulk is gone, but I think I lost a little bit of myself along with it.