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Faint outlines of Australia and New Zealand remained on the downstairs wall after I wrote the painter his check and sighed with relief as he closed the front door. I called my son in for a second opinion, and he swore he couldn’t see them – at least from where he was standing. I tried to convince myself I could only make them out because I knew they had been there, sort of like the amputee who can still feel the severed limb. But I knew I’d backed the wrong horse and hired a less than competent painter. I supposed he thought I wouldn’t notice that of the three cabinet doors on the upstairs vanity, he painted only two. Didn’t he realize the chipped paint on the third was a dead giveaway?

Misjudgments are interesting. I have, at times, deemed someone incompetent who turned out to be quite an expert. Those are the good mistakes because I would rather think well of someone whenever possible. But, then, there are the days like this one when I’ve had to admit I’ve made the wrong choice. I could send this painter back a hundred times to eliminate the spots, but I would only become increasingly frustrated because if he’s known how to get rid of them in the first place, they wouldn’t still be there. Moral of story: better to cut my losses, tell myself no one else will notice Australia and New Zealand, and remember not to look up very often until I decide to hire a new and better painter. Of course, this is Time Number Three to paint that ceiling, so Time Number Four is entirely likely. Something in my karma attracts water damage to that spot in my house. Sigh.

But for now, I am reveling in having my stuff back in place. I am, without doubt, a “stuff” person. I love little nicknacks and the mini tableaux I can create with them on shelves and in unexpected corners of the house. A visually interesting environment is far more important to me than a Feng Shuied one.

I used to wonder if this were yet another character flaw that I might be duty bound to stamp out. But then I discovered http://www.theselby.com. Todd Selby goes about photographing creative people and creative spaces. And if you check his website, you will see artists are “stuff” people who love to create visual groupings with small objects. According to The Selby, I am not only a “stuff” person, I an an artist! Oh, joy. An excuse to avoid the Spartan environment of Feng Shui!

So I reveled tonight in putting back the fairy village that inhabits the top of my livingroom book shelves. I brought all the magic dragons out of hiding and made them lords of their respective kingdoms once more. I rehung the baskets my grandfather began to weave when he was in his 80’s and made throughout his 90’s (all autographed and signed). I snuggled the Big Bashful Bunny, the Medium Bashful Bunny, and the small Bashful Bunny back into their corner of the sofa. (They were inspired by a sofa in Anthropologie full of a similar bunny family at Easter a couple of year back.) Finally, I brought the mini-Teddies happily back to their house.

To celebrate, I poured myself a big glass of wine and sat down on the sofa to appreciate my world. Either an artist or a big grownup child lives here. Fine by me. And I reveled in the knowledge that I don’t have to be dressed and on my mark at nine o’clock in the morning to let anyone into the house to deal with Australia and New Zealand. I’ve gotten my house and my routine back, and I’m in un-Feng Shuied Stuff Heaven once more. Ordeal by Leaking Sink and Painter is finally over.

Leprechaun in the Fairy Village

Leprechaun in the Fairy Village

More Fairy Village

More Fairy Village

Happy Sheep

Happy Sheep

The Teddies are Home

The Teddies are Home

Magic Dragons Happy to Be  Back

Magic Dragons Happy to Be Back

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I’ve had the uncomfortable feeling all week that I’m fighting the painter for possession of my house. Perhaps I’m reaping the other end of my current karma – although I haven’t squashed anything lately including ants. But since fixing the leaking sink and drying out the downstairs ceiling went so smoothly a couple of weeks ago , perhaps hitting a snag in the fixing process was inevitable.

The first hurdle was finding a painter at all. I called five or six on the first round and got zero callbacks. Hmm, I thought, perhaps I should give up law and fiction and learn painting. Although standing on high ladders is not my forte.

By and by a slick corporate outfit gave me an estimate, and a wiry little self-employed Irishman from Dublin bid on the job. Same price, both of them. Now I should explain I actually have two ceilings to paint. A month before the sink hit an iceberg, a strange, dark H shape appeared on my bedroom ceiling which is upstairs, just above the ceiling the sink would souse a few weeks later. I convinced myself it was a shadow for about two days, and then gave in and called the insurance company. The adjuster (and her rather cute boyfriend) diagnosed a leak in the circa 1978 skylight which sits high atop my roof. My buddy with the cute boyfriend sent me a check for painting the ceiling minus my deductible and left me to fend for myself with the dreaded Homeowners Association, who had jurisdiction over the skylight. Normally the HOA would rather die than move quickly but since it was about to rain, for once they acted promptly and fixed the leak. Whew! I thought I was home free, until the sink did its thing, and I wound up with two damaged ceilings. (Louise Hay has all kinds of wisdom about avoiding the thoughts that attract illness, but she says nothing about what kinds of thoughts attract wet ceilings. If I knew, I’d never have those thoughts again!)

Anyway, now flush with insurance company cash to paint both ceilings (within two dollars of the bids, can you believe it), I set out to hire a painter to do the downstairs ceiling which had two brown spots about the shape and size of Australia and New Zealand and the upstairs ceiling thoughtfully monogrammed with my last initial. (Or the beginnings of Helter Skelter, take your pick.)

You guessed it I picked the Irish painter. Three reasons. First, I am self-employed, and I try to hire other self-employed people. Second, the slick corporate guy also owned a day spa called “Coconuts,” and he kept talking about the “girls” who worked there. Did that make me a “girl lawyer” I wondered but didn’t dare ask. Third, I spent some time in Dublin when I was working on the Ph.D. that became a J.D., and I hadn’t heard anyone say “tink” and “mudder” for years. And, then, the Irish are born storytellers, and I love a good story.

But now it is Thursday night, I’m tired of stories, and my house has been a mess since Monday. Worse than that, the job was supposed to be finished today, and while the H has disappeared (thankfully) upstairs, Australia and New Zealand are still plainly visible downstairs. He’s turned them white, but he hasn’t made them go away. I have a bad feeling he doesn’t know how to. Just in case, I have developed a backup plan. If I’m still looking at albino continents this time tomorrow night, I’ll hire an artist to paint a full color world map on the ceiling. Might as well go with the flow.

Australia and New Zealand ceiling art to be

Australia and New Zealand ceiling art to be

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