The last time I painted exterior doors and the trim around the big front picture window, I did a pretty slapdash job--no prep, no primer, leftover paint from another project. This time I resolved to do it right: Good paint! Good primer! Dropcloths! Paint-scraper and sandpaper for the peeling bits! Garish blue masking tape for all the windows! (Including the windows on the garage doors: three doors with nine tiny window panes per door. Whose brilliant idea was it to install doors with so many window panes?)
My efforts paid off: after a whole day of labor (and some sore muscles), I have doors and windows worth looking at--and the parts that aren't worth looking at are invisible. Mostly. I failed to wear a hat even though I know am constitutionally incapable of painting without getting paint in my hair, so I have white specks in my hair and sunburned cheeks. And I did a pretty good job on dropcloth placement, but I failed to anticipate the paintbrush's ability to flip out of my hand, fly across the porch, and land on the deck with a splat.
But those problems are easy enough to clean up. I'm more concerned about the invisible ones. I wanted to do this job right, but the right thing to do when you scrape chipped paint off a wooden window frame and discover that the wood beneath is wet to the touch is NOT to paint right over it. The right thing to do would be to call an expert on such things, a carpenter or a window installer. (Are they still called glaziers? I hope so. It is the dream of my life to one day excuse myself from an important meeting by saying, "I'll just step out and consult with my glazier.")
The right thing to do about that window would be to pull it out and replace it, but that's not what I did, and that's not what the previous owners did either. They pulled out and replaced every window in the house except the gigantic picture window, and one glimpse at current prices for gigantic picture windows will tell you why. If I'm going to invest that much money in the window, I may as well have the skewed door re-hung and replace the rotten threshold and tear out the cracked cement slab and replace the entire front porch while I'm at it.
But that's a project for another day. Instead, I dabbed on a coat of paint and walked away. I can't seem to stop my house from falling to pieces around me, but at least I can make it look good along the way.