We are having the house painted. Condensed in those six words is a 5000 word essay, which anyone who has ever had a house painted could write. It’s pretty much what life is all about for a week or ten days, depending on the size and complexity of the house. This house excels in both size and complexity.

The whole time this is going on this thought is rumbling around in my head: I wonder how long until this has to be done again? It is, after all, a kind of domestic cosmetology. The house won’t be more comfortable, roomy or livable, but it will look better – – for a while.

The minute we left the cave for freestanding houses we had to consider what the outside would be and what it would look like. It was more or less dependent on what was there. Stone was good and available in some areas and you can see some of those walls still standing after as much as a thousand years! There is straw or thatch and even mud that is in use today in some places in the world. My neighbor built a white cedar log house that won’t have to be painted and it looks great. Metal or plastic siding that looks like clapboard is popular and does not need refinishing every few years.

I have to admit it: I like paint. Painting something is a hands-on activity that yields immediate results that you can see. It gives a level of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment that few activities do. I’m talking about a shelf or small table or bench. If it involves a ladder I call someone. There are ladders all over this place as I write.

I recently visited the Olsen House out at Cushing. There is no evidence that paint or stain has ever been applied to that structure. It has that farmhouse kind of character. It looks weathered but beautiful in it’s own way. It’s a deep kind of beauty. No paint but beautiful? I can think of dozens of applications where that principle could be used, and I’m not just talking about houses.

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