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COLUMN: A working stiff at heart

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By Jay Cason

After a two-month hiatus, I returned to The Anderson News on Monday.

As is frequently the case when one takes an extended break from work, several colleagues couldn't wait to rib me about returning to the daily grind.

"Are you surviving your first day back?" asked one colleague at about noon. "Did you have a hard time getting up this morning?" queried another.

I responded that rolling out of bed at 5:30 a.m. was easy, as I am glad, maybe even ecstatic, to be back at work. Colleagues appeared skeptical. They probably thought I was simply jerking them around. But that's not the case. I am delighted to be back on the job.

The first five weeks of leave passed quickly as I plodded up and down mountains. While the going was tough, it was also enjoyable. But during the last three weeks, while sitting at home, I came to realize that at age 62, I'm not ready to be on permanent vacation. It's just too demanding.

I am not very good at sitting around doing nothing. So after two days of relative inactivity, I started working on the endless improvement projects provided within our 45-year-old Lexington home.

First came refurbishing the dining room.

Before applying a coat of primer and two coats of finish paint, I had to peel off several layers of wallpaper. I was hoping to avoid having to paint the woodwork and heat vents, but next to the freshly painted walls they appeared pretty dingy.

My home improvement projects seldom go as planned.

As I prepared to slap paint on the woodwork, I discovered that our house's previous inhabitants had routinely applied latex paint over oil-base enamel. The end result was that some of the latex had started to peel off, especially on doors. By the time I scraped the doors and applied a coat of good quality primer to them, as well as to the window frame and all of the woodwork, and hung new curtain rods and drapes in both the living room and dining room, a two-day project had taken a week.

Projectaholic that I am, the master bedroom was next on the list, and true to form, it was more difficult than anticipated.

Even though the walls were covered with just a single layer of wallpaper, whoever did the papering must have used super glue. After working three hours to scrape off about a two-foot square, I headed to Home Depot and rented a steamer. The steamer worked great on three walls, but on the fourth wall, which was part of a later renovation, a fair amount of plaster came off with the wallpaper.

Ah, the joys of owning an older home.

When I finally finished with the bedroom walls, I once again had to scrape, sand and prime all the wooden surfaces, which also had latex painted over oil-base enamel. And as I prepared to fix the louvered double-fold closet doors, I found that their wooden base was splitting and the doors needed to be replaced.

After another quick trip to Home Depot, I prepared to hang a new set of doors only to discover that one of the new pairs was damaged. When I got home with another set, I found they were also damaged. Finally, a third pair proved to be the charm.

I finished the bedroom Sunday. That project, which I thought would take a few days, took about a week and a half.

Man, am I happy to be back at my desk. The time off was working me to death.