Sunday, 13 November 2011

Stripping Vs. Dentistry

It had originally been my intention to write about my travels and interesting incidences whilst living in the Caribbean.  However, my life has changed dramatically since moving from BC to Ontario and renovating our 1879 house and so; I can’t help but write about my new non-paid, Exciting job of Stripping Paint.  Does this sound dull?  Yes, I suppose it does, but I’ve actually found the job to be quite thought provoking and inspirational.  Weird, I know.

As I began the mammoth task of stripping a glorious but damaged staircase coated in years of sticky 50’s to 70’s fashion, I decided to literally take one step at a time so the task of unearthing the beast would not be so daunting.  Strangely the staircase transformed for me, into an uncomplaining living thing waiting in hibernation to be liberated.

On good days I felt like a Paleontologist, uncovering a rare fossil from Prehistoric times, but on days when the grimy substance would not budge, and the layers turned into gummy goo, I was then a Dentist, scraping plaque from the rotten teeth of an unhygienic decaying old man, whose breath is an appalling chemically smell.  Each molar had years of tartar, red wine, cavities and dirt. But then I realized how privileged I was compared to a Dentist.  I swore out loud and often and I could apply brute force and ignorance without having to placate my patient or worry that I was causing pain. 

My tools of the trade were also similar to a Dentist, various sizes of scrapers, and a heat gun for removal of plague as opposed to the high whining of the water pic thingy.  My patient was so still and quiet, despite the grinding and scraping and I could take my time, not worrying about my patient’s molar and if there was still a piece of root left behind. Sure a Dentist or Hygienist is well paid, whereas I am not, yet the stress of their job would be too much for me.  Oh, and by the way, when they vacuum up all that saliva, blood and god knows what else from a person’s mouth, where does it go?  Has anyone ever asked that question?  Whereas my waste/scrapings fell to the floor as hot bendy twists that later hardened into interesting arty designs that I gathered up in my dustpan, I had no fear of touching them without latex gloves whilst I slowly examined their shapes, wondering if I could make a picture.

The worst aspect I encountered was having a hot paint chip fly up and land on my lip, giving me a wee burn, but I was able to unleash another round of swearing, a privilege of working alone. Also, I learned that wearing flip flops was not the ideal footwear.
But the absolute wonderment of my stripping task is that I actually made a Super Duper unique discovery; under layers of yellowy white, green and a dreadful shade of purple, that this someone (whom I now hate with a passion) had actually painted over the most remarkable Art Deco design!! A swirling motif stained in on the side of each twelve steps, what a crime to have painted over this!  To me, all this stripping was so worthwhile and exciting!
 Now what Dentist can say he’s found treasure in his patient’s mouth?, unless he’s planning on digging out a gold filling?  I thought this must be how an Archeologist feels when they make a discovery such as the possibility of hidden Roman Ruins!  My excitement was growing to euphoric proportions as I carefully uncovered one by one all the motifs, I can sense the beast groaning in ecstasy as he awakens from his long sleep, it breathes deep at last free of the smothering layers and trembles beneath me.  
What?  I lay down my tools as I begin to realize that I’m inhaling way too many paint fumes as the world begins to swirl and I feel as if I’m taking flight.  I suppose my patient’s breath is a little toxic.  Do you think I should be wearing a mask, like my Dentist friend?
Time for dinner, a glass of wine and to marvel at the serene, clean and almost completed work of art, my friend, my beautiful living staircase.  Peanut Tai Chicken anyone?

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