Bright ideas and pandemic painting

Kym Seabolt's husband removing window shutters

So … it’s been 2020 for about six years now, right? Corona. Quarantine. Murder hornets.

This is my first pandemic, and I honestly just don’t know what to expect. For most of the quarantine, my hobbies included hiding toilet paper from our cat, Kai.

Kai is 1-year-old, absolutely gorgeous, and terrible. He has no idea about the laws of supply and demand. He cares not one whit for a toilet paper shortage. He prefers to madly shred any toilet tissue that is left within his reach — and some that technically was not.

Whereas I used to just toss the mounds of fluffy white shredded tissue all willy-nilly like some sort of toilet tissue baron, I now carefully pick it up to be used. Toilet paper doesn’t grow on trees people! Or maybe it does? I am actually not entirely certain where TP comes from.

I also spent my time making lists of “Pandemic Projects” that I could complete around the house. If we are going to be holed up at home, we might as well make it comfortable, right?


That inclination is how we wound up with what became known as “the UFO landing on the lawn lighting incident of 2020.” The spotlights that used to light up the front of our house had been failing for quite some time.

To be fair, they were two decades old, and one had been run over by a truck. I am not calling anyone out *cough* BoyWonder when he was learning to drive *cough.*

I finally decided it was time to replace the one remaining light with some upgraded modern amenities. I carefully researched the wattage to LED conversion, and completely failed to note that “daylight white” is an entirely different thing from “warm glow.”

Upon installation that first day, night fell, the lights came on and I knew instantly what it felt like to be under siege. The effect was somewhere between “close encounters” and “federal prison.”

I’m pretty sure people living 50 miles north of us could see our house if they stepped outside. It’s entirely possible that our home could be seen from space.


Not one to let an entire house arrest go by with nothing to show for it, I finally decided it was the year to repaint all the vinyl shutters on the house. They have been installed for 23 years give or take. Substance wise they held up well. Surface-wise the once-vibrant emerald green shutters had faded to a sort of moldy brown over the last year or so.

Still, they were rock solid, and I am nothing if not thrifty. So I fired up the internet, looked up some information about refacing shutters on the cheap, then purchased a few dozen cans of spray paint from our local hardware store. I was buying a half dozen cans at a time like the world’s oldest bridge tagging vandal.

For the record, I had absolutely no idea our house had so many windows when I embarked upon this project. There must be 700 windows here, give or take. That might be a slight exaggeration, but barely.

Our house is also very tall — three stories tall. Those third-floor shutters are not something a ladder can reach.

Accordingly, Mr. Wonderful rented a mechanized lift. As far as he was concerned that alone was reason enough to take on this project. The ability to rent a large piece of equipment that he can play with all day is a wonderful way to entice a man to a project.

He rode up and down, ferrying shutters, and I scrubbed and sprayed and handed them back. With each set, I became convinced that the house had grown taller than I recalled.

Of course, all those bright lights and freshly painted shutters made the siding look filthy. I decided to pressure wash the rest of the house. I do it every spring and delight in washing the winter grime away. It’s also a time to get up close and personal with the nooks and crannies of this 116-year-old beauty.


This year, it was the time to realize that it’s entirely possible that the porch is sinking. Witness Mr. Wonderful and I standing together and peering at what is clearly a low spot under one of the columns.

“Was this always like this?”

“I feel like I would remember if this was always like this?”

“Maybe it was and we just don’t remember?”


“Are you sure?”

“Look again.”

When facing something expensive, messy and time-consuming, it is best to practice denial for as long as humanly possible. So we spent some time nodding at it, and then we walked away. Honestly, there is only so much we can deal with this year. Maybe we’ll catch that on the next pandemic?


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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