Drinking Coffee

Thank you, dear ones, for the sympathy on the last post, both here and on Instagram. I’m happily out the other side of disaster today, or at least out the other side of spectacular disaster and back to the regular Christmas kind, which suddenly seems like no big deal.

When last we saw our heroine, she was walking down over the stairs in her underpants, through what was practically a wading pool of paint, trying to figure out where you even start with something like that. As I tracked paint inevitably through the house, making things worse by the second, I came up with a plan. I am ridiculously proud of this. Considering how big that disaster was, I came back from the edge really, really quickly. There was four minutes of violent swearing, three minutes of crying, and then… then I got it together.  Step one, I scraped off as much of the paint as I could, and got the clothing, coats, etc that had been spattered into the wash. (This did not work, but it turns out that rubbing alcohol removes paint – sort of, so there were hours of scrubbing later, but I managed to rescue my ski jacket and Joe’s sweater. My jeans and the handknit socks I was wearing didn’t make it.) I used a piece of cardboard to get what I could off the stairs, and then wiped off anything else I could.  Then I left it to dry.

The next morning, things still looked pretty bad, but at least I knew where to go with it.  I painted one side of the stairs –

and then 24 hours later, the other, so that I could still go up and down them, while I tried to do all the other million things I do before the gingerbread party. (Like make Gingerbread.) In between I wrapped presents, cooked for 50, finished the cleaning and scrubbed clothing with rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush.  The day of the party, the stairs looked like this.

We still have to repaint – they’ve only got one coat on them and look terrible in real life, and while I repainted the trim and touched up the walls, that needs proper handling too. All I really managed to do was take it from shocking to bad, and that’s enough for this time of year, I think, especially since it’s only light for a few hours a day, and the rest of the time… well, everything looks better by candlelight.

In the meantime, the Christmas crafting rolled to a virtual stop. I got a little bit done each day, but the morning of the party the pile looked like this-

I’m farther on one of the socks, the sweater is the same,  I fixed the mittens but have two pairs to go… I’d show you what it looked like after the party, but I let this happen to the table.

I spent yesterday chipping all that icing off of every surface of the house (briefly astonished that there was even icing on the stairs, haven’t they been through enough?) and last night I packed up to go. Joe and I are on a plane as I write this, about to take off for BC. We’ll visit friends and family for a few days, and then head back home. The next few days are prime knitting days, and I have brought with me all of the stuff I need to finish two pairs of socks, begin and finish two pairs of mittens, and knit the sleeves and yoke of a small sweater. In my heart, I believe that in four days, I am coming home with all of this done, ready to apply myself to the few remaining Christmas tasks.*

This is, of course, not possible – not really. In reality, it’s going to be a miracle if I finish any of those things now that I’ve spent days mopping up paint, but hope springs eternal, and there is a long flight in my future, and that makes this amount of knitting a terrible and tantalizing thing. It makes it almost possible, and that… that I can’t give up on.

*Through the miracle of caffeine, the shopping and wrapping is all done. I have no idea how I managed it.

77 thoughts on “Drinking Coffee

  1. I’m glad you pulled that out. I was leaning towards leaving it. Paint splattered stairs would have been the start of sharing a lot of hilarious holiday mishap stories.

  2. Wow, that was a really fast and impressive recovery! I’m amazed you just buckled down and repainted – brilliant! Those cookies are so gorgeous, colorful, fun, unique – I’ve never seen such beautiful gingerbread. Almost makes me want to bake. Good on you! Have a fun trip!

  3. Taking a cross country plane is pretty drastic to find some knitting time. But it’s beautiful here in Chilliwack BC and my stairs are carpeted, so nothing but dog hair to clean.
    My constant devotion to you for your encouragement and humour. Making the knitting world better one blog post and one talk at a time.

  4. Well, you have learned a couple of important lessons for next Christmas season: 1) Cover the table with a disposable plastic dropcloth for the next gingerbread party; and 2) Stay away from paint between November and January. (It might also be a good idea to avoid wood stain, whitewash, nail polish, etc.)

    As for the knitting, you MIGHT have a chance IF you knit at warp factor 4! (Joe, she might need several gallons of espresso…)

  5. Your resilience is amazing. You didn’t mention details of the party but from the pictures it looks like it was pretty lively. I really like the color combos on the cookies. I hope you have a safe and happy trip.

  6. The lucky recipient of those gloves should be so excited to makeup for any not completed projects! This time of the year is so busy but I’m glad you are getting away with Joe. That is what you will remember – and the epic paint spill.

  7. I’m grateful that you did not hurt yourself during the paint catastrophe. When I was reading that, about how time slowed down for you, it reminded me of a fall I took last summer while running. You did not fall down the stairs or slip in the paint, which would have been much, much worse!

  8. Great recovery! Enjoy the Holidays and you will always have this year to compare future disasters against. Have a great time with Joe and the BC area.

  9. Bravo!! I can’t believe you handled the paint disaster AND went on with your other Christmas tasks. You’re a tougher woman than I am!!

  10. Oh, dearest, try to SLEEP on the plane!! Copy a reasonable facsimile of the promised knitted item from one of your thousands of knitting books, and give that to them with a $10 gift card to a coffee shop (I like Starbucks) so they can have a peppermint mocha and think of how nice those mittens will feel in February!

  11. Wouldn’t that be two long plane rides…there and back?

    So there will be staircase painting in the future? And you are “ahead” on that chore…sorta?

    Enjoy your trip and visit.

  12. I have resisted yelling at my 19 year old for being so tall… or making him try the sweater on every 3 rows to see if it’s long enough yet (it isn’t even close to being long enough.)
    This is the 9th sweater since August 1. 2 of those are for my granddaughters, one of whom is now a “ladies medium” so doesn’t count as a “kids” sweater. I’ve also done 2 hats and a scarf because I don’t want to knit the additional 100 rows of round and round plain stocking stitch.
    I still have some ends to weave in, then it’s a round of washing, blocking, and wrapping then all the damned sweaters are done for this year and I swear I’m going to work on a very fine, fancy, complicated lace shawl… or some fancy mittens from my book one of my kids brought me from Estonia. Something that isn’t a mile of plain stocking stitch round and round.

  13. Congratulations on your recovery! When I saw photos on Instagram, I thought you had managed to completely clean the paint from the steps (and wondered why you did half of each stair – more blog fodder?) – and now I see you re-painted them brown. Ah. So much simpler – and the reason for half the step at a time makes more sense! You are an amazingly resourceful woman! I hope your plane rides and visiting gives you all the knitting time to finish the all your projects.

  14. Nicely done. We do a gingerbread party as well. I put large plastic tablecloths down, and when we are done, I grab the four corners, pulling everything into the center, and then throw the whole mess out. Quick and easy cleanup.
    Merry Christmas!

  15. wow! Good for you! I might have bought a carpet, I think.
    But you didn’t tell us what Joe said when he saw it. Inquiring minds want to know!

    As for all that knitting to still happen, I think you can do it. Your friends just have to understand that this is a knitting emergency, and that they can sit and visit while you knit or go off and leave you to do something else. You knit amazingly fast, this is what you have trained for.

  16. Excellent save on the stairs! I’m shocked that I haven’t done something equivalent given how things have been going laterally.

    A gentle suggestion to add to the list for next years party – table cloth. ;). I suspect even a cloth one will work, the sugar icing will resolve out.

  17. I am not going to let the fact that we’re total strangers to one another stop me from being TOTALLY PROUD OF YOU.

    That is some truly masterful pulling up of one’s metaphorical trousers and Getting On With It.

    Wishing you safe travels, happy visits, and all the knitting mojo possible.

  18. Brava Steph! You’ve taken it to the level that was needed for now and Christmas will still be fine. Wishing the wonder to continue for all of you! Many blessings!

  19. Clearly the universe decided you were up to your usual level of pre-Christmas crazy when it introduced the paint disaster! I’m sure that you will finish what you can, and everyone will understand if their gifts are given in yarn or WIP form.

  20. You so need a superhero name! I hope you have a marvellous time, and quiet moments when you need to count stitches.

    Do you remember the year you got Christmas together early? I often think of it around now. Now, when I’m shopped and wrapped, so I think I’m all done. Then I look at the house, and remember I have to do my tax return and that planning party catering isn’t actually the same thing as catering party catering and that, come Friday, I will not be alone again for three weeks.

    (PS painting half the stairs is genius! when I did the stairs I stupidly painted myself upstairs every night for three nights. Then I figured out I could have made the job a hundred times easier by sleeping on the sofa for a few days, and now I see I could have made it a million times easier by doing it by halves. Genius, I tell you. I have carpet now. Be grateful for small mercies)

  21. Have fun in BC!! I hope that you will get your Christmas miracle. Maybe the elves can be bribed with a few of the cookies? (or something savory. Maybe they’d really like something savory for a change).

  22. You’ve gotten through worse, but I must congratulate you for pulling this off. The knitting will get done. Have the best holiday season!

  23. You are amazing. Repainting those stairs and that wall involves having the paint to do it with, and I assume that took a chunk of knitting time out, too. How did you get it to match?

    I still have, years later, a few green specks if you look real close–where I once overdyed a beautifully knit sweater a friend had bought in a color she hated and turned it into one she loved so her kid had to try it on even though it was fresh out of the dyepot, barely cooled down.

    She twirled that thing over her shoulders and the droplets of green dye did an Oscar-worthy Cat In The Hat Comes Back impression.

    I have no idea how to match the original paint on the walls so what green I couldn’t get off is small enough that hopefully nobody notices. Right there in my front entryway.

  24. I so agree! Or give the mittens as a New Years’ Eve gift so they go into 2020 with warm hands. That gives you an extra week. Stay warm and smell the pine during the holidays…and enjoy BC.

  25. Well, that’s put all my whingeing over trying to find the time to finish (one thumb left to go) my 4th consecutive set of fingerless gloves, which I’ve never attempted in 50yrs of knitting (so it’s been … interesting) into perspective!

    Feliz Navidades!!!

  26. Such grace in the face of disaster is more than I can hope to achieve in the rush to the holidays. But at least you have given me a target.

  27. A miracle indeed. I’m running around in my usual pre-Christmas Oh God how is it here already, mostly saved through the magic/evil of Amazon. I FINALLY wised up and put a calendar note to start planning Christmas 2020. In September.

  28. Stephanie,

    No doubt about it. You will always be known in your family as the Fun House. Good luck with the rest of your holidays.’

    A west coast Yankee

  29. Is it just me, or does anyone else hear the “old Stephanie’s” voice here? Gamely taking life as it comes, and coping with grace and humor.
    As an earlier commenter said, even though you and I have never met, I hope you are indeed feeling more like yourself.

  30. GREAT JOB ON THE STAIRS! I needed to shout that! I was so stunned at the paint on the stairs picture that I showed it to my husband. We both were so so sorry about the mess. But you got through it. You survived. You are my hero!!!! And the knitting is lovely, sure like those brown and black gloves.

  31. Oh, well done! Whenever I think about refinishing my stairs I think of the cats, so my question is: did your cat know enough to walk up and down the correct side of the steps??

  32. My jaw literally dropped as I gave a low moan.
    Paint?!! PAINT?!!
    I was SO hoping this was the year of the holiday miracle at your house and there were no obstacles, no tragedies, no surprise starving traveling circus troupes showing up at your door at dinner time. At least you didn’t have to peel and steam wallpaper. Or buy and move into a new house.
    I love how you slipped “cooked for 50” in there ever nonchalantly. I suppose after everything that happened it really was barely noteworthy in comparison. It is still impressive that you make a thousand gingerbread cookies, cook for the masses, keep the house presentable, and not run around like a mad person with their hair on fire.
    YOU should be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
    Paint?!! Sigh. Yes, there are truly worse things. And if they need to happen, forget Stephanie’s address.

  33. If anyone can get through that and finish on time it is YOU. My list is less daunting and I know I will not finish, but I am okay with that. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  34. So glad the rubbing alcohol sort of worked for you. IT does take a lot to get the paint off. But after a few applications and soaking the paint does peel off even if years pass between attempts.

    I hope you enjoy your time in BC. Cookies look like more fun was had. Next year maybe some mailing paper on table top first for the messy ones? I think it is still sold.

    I have a sweater OTN atm and will be knitting that most of the winter. I continue to be amazed at your speed knitting.

  35. I’m impressed with your stair change, which will help with visual differentiation (possibly needed more with only 2 hours of daily daylight.

  36. Oh, I feel for you! Taking off the lid and walking up the stairs as the voice in the back of your head advises not to do so just invites Murphey’s Law to the party. Mopping up paint, touching up paint, saving what you can…somehow I believe the knitting will persevere. However, like my son who may end up with a hat with needles still holding the stitches, we shall see how far you get. My best guess is finished or as close to it as possible! Merry Christmas! Enjoy the holidays and the joy they bring!

  37. I swear I would not have thought to only paint half the stairs. That was bloody brilliant woman.

    A suggestion for next year’s gingerbread party: buy an old fitted sheet at a thrift store. When the party is over, let it all dry and shake out then toss in the washer. Easy.

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