I think they spell it hubris

All week long I’ve been kicking arse and taking names in the Christmas department. Knitters, I am so on it that I’ve impressed even myself. I went the mall, I’ve got the house coming together, the shopping is almost done and I’ve been plowing through the knitting in a way that makes it all seem possible. Sure, the house is kinda trashed, but it’s that kind of trashed that’s like cleaning a closet, things are only this bad because they’re about to be much, much better – or at least that’s what I’m telling myself every time it threatens to overwhelm.  Yes, there’s wrapping paper everywhere, but that’s because so much is wrapped. Sure, there’s knitting on every surface, but that’s because I’m working on so much of it. Agreed, that bedroom looks like Santa’s workshop exploded into an elf rave that went on for days – but… well. I have to clean that up for sure, but really, things are coming together. They really, really are.  That’s what I was telling myself yesterday morning when I made my to-do list for the day and consulted the schedule that has a bow on this Christmas by the time Joe gets off a plane tonight.  (Mostly.) I’ve been motivated by how great it’s going to feel to be relaxed and prepared this holiday, and how effortlessly I’m going to slide from event to event, and how Joe’s to-do list is going to be so short that it’s a gift to him in itself.

To pull this off, you understand, things need to be pretty seamless. There’s not a lot of room for error in this scene, and I need to stay right on track. That’s why it was more than a little gutting yesterday when I realized that yes, I was almost finished a pair of mittens, right on schedule, but that they were both right mittens.

I bounced back. ripping the work back, mentally revising the plan and trying to laugh at myself for such a rookie move. I got the work back on the needles, gave up knitting for the moment, and got the day’s shopping done. Then I went upstairs to clean the bathroom. That went super well, it didn’t need much, and I decided that since I’ll have a whole houseful of guests on Saturday and I had an extra 5 minutes, I’d touch up a place where the paint in the bathroom needs it.  I popped to the basement, got the can of paint I’d bought for just this purpose, fetched a paintbrush, opened the paint and trudged back up the stairs to do a two minute paint job. I believe that as I went up the stairs, I even congratulated myself on finding the time to do an extra credit project, and smiled, thinking about how impressed Joe was going to be. We’ve been talking about fixing that paint for months.

At the top of the stairs… I, I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it. I put my foot on the top step, I remember that. I turned to go into the bathroom, that much is clear… and then…. I let go of the can of paint. It slipped right out of my hand, and the whole world suddenly slowed down, like I was in a movie.  The can hit the floor at the top of the stairs and for a moment I thought it might be okay, I thought it might just land on its bottom, but as I watched it tipped over – not onto the floor, but towards the stairs. I grabbed for it, desperate to prevent disaster, but it was too late. As I watched, the can bounced off the edge and downward into history.

I do not have time to use all the words to explain to you how I felt when it was over. First there was shock, then I became…let’s call it “understandably upset”.  I couldn’t even figure out what to do next. The paint was everywhere.  It was not just on the steps, it was on the floor, the wall, the wall opposite the stairs (?) the newel post, the ballusters, the carpet at the bottom of the stairs, my bike – Elliot’s ball (I guess I should put that away) it spattered the coats hanging on the newel post – my ski jacket, Joe’s favourite old man sweater, it’s all over my knitting bag.  It’s like a crime scene.   I stripped off my pants (paint spattered) and socks (handknit, now ruined) and realized that everything I could possibly use to clean this up (what the hell was I going to use to clean this up?) was downstairs, on the other side of that disaster.  I took that picture (once a blogger always a blogger) and then started to cry as I walked down the stairs through the paint, in my underpants.

Today I’m going to try and bounce back, but boy, was I right. Joe is going to be SO impressed.

218 thoughts on “I think they spell it hubris

  1. Oh. Just Oh … too many things could follow. Oh MY GOD. Oh dear. Oh that’s awful. Oh, I’m so sorry! Oh … I’d volunteer to come with many rolls of paper towels, but I fear I wouldn’t get there in time. I think the only thing to do is paint everything white, then go knit.

    • On second thought, you might get a few other colors of painr and throw them down the stairs. Voila! A Jackson Pollack stairway!

      • That’s what I was thinking – aside from the tragic spillage on everything besides the stairs (that is heart-breaking), if it was me, I would probably find a can of green and a can of red paint and a package of glitter and add a few festive accent splotches, then sprinkle the whole thing with glitter, and claim I had an artistic stroke of genius…

        But wow, I’m sorry this happened to you. No fun at all.

      • I was also thinking that in a way it looked rather fantastic. Though it’s not my staircase, and not my stuff that got ruined. But there is an artistic beauty to the spill for sure. (ducking and running)

        • I like how the stairs look too! And love the idea of getting to rip up the rug and throw out anything paint spattered and keeping the stairs as a bell of reminder that S**t happens and we live through it and no on died. You are a mighty woman and you will know just what to do!!

  2. That photo just leaves me speechless. I’m sure that in years to come, this will be remembered as “that time I spilled paint all the way down the stairs.”

  3. There are no words for the dismay I feel on your behalf. Christmas will still happen, but the peace may be MIA for a while. Wishing you a good recovery from this setback, so you can get back to your knitting.

  4. But just think! Every Christmas from now on when you look at your list and feel hopelessness creeping, you can think to yourself, “At least I haven’t spilled paint down the stairs.” And carry on with confidence and grace.

  5. Once I spattered bright yellow encaustic paint all over my husbands new tool bag. I was mortified.
    Later when I showed it to him he shrugged and said, It looks better this way. Gotta love a man who loves your art.

    • +1. I was not expecting that ending. Just checking, though – you didn’t do that on purpose, just to for blog fodder, right?

      I am so sorry. I’d just call it a design element & go on. I’d wash the clothes, though.

  6. (((Hug))) if we don’t all cry once during this season the time space continuum would implode. I’ve cried enough for at least ten people though, just to keep the world in balance, you know, for those who can not cry this year.

  7. I am picturing Ralphie in A Christmas Story when the screw nuts from the tire he is helping his dad change, accidentally go flying off into the snowy darkness.

  8. Epic mistakes are for high achievers.

    In light of this recent development, I propose a virtual potluck. Everyone’s specialty plus tea and sympathy.

    As Rams would say, “Poor lamb.”

    • EPIC. Yup, that’s definitely the word…I don’t think I’ve ever read a post with my mouth hanging all the way open and not breathing before–laughing until I cry, yes, but…Dude!!!
      They’re right, though: this is a high-water mark that you will (eventually) always be able to look back on, as in “at least THIS year I have not…”
      [Sigh of deep sympathy…]

  9. Looks like new carpet for the stairs is in order! You’ve gotta laugh after you cry. Thanks for sharing. Makes me feel not quite so bad that I haven’t done one single thing for Christmas yet, not even the tree. No gifts, no cards, no cookies, no knitting, so you still are really ahead of the game.

  10. Oh wow.
    I admit, I’d have been tempted to just stay upstairs (cleaning a bedroom?) until the paint was dry, and then pretend it was the look I was going for.

  11. OMG! You poor, poor thing. How horrible!

    But I just have to say that I am so relieved. As I started reading I was sure it was going to be you at the bottom of the stairs with a broken leg. (Though that would be one way of getting out of having to clean up the mess.)

    • As I was reading your post, I thought OMG she is going to tell us she broke a leg…..then I laughed so hard..because of course, it’s not my staircase….but I finished up with tears and a few choice words…hoping your unintended attempt at abstract art is much appreciated….and wishing you and your staircase a speedy recovery,,,,have a wonderful Xmas with the family…and know we value all your sharing!

  12. Sending you hugs. In years to come this will be a hilarious Christmas story and I’m sure it’ll be a chapter in an upcoming book but for now, you just need hugs. Lots of’em

  13. Oh nooo! I’m not even going to try to be funny or cute or anything– that’s just gutting and I’m so, so, so sorry!

    Take care of yourself, hon, and do what YOU need. OK?

  14. Oh ….My ….. God…..Well, it could have been worse. It could have spilled over the Christmas presents, or (horrors) even more of your knitting. Luckily, this is sorta a once in a lifetime thing … at least I hope. You must have been tired. Sit down and have some tea. Or a beer. Or some wine. It can only get better. (knock on wood.)

  15. My first thoughts: OMG! OMG! OMG! Then, I thought of Lucy Neatby. Invite Lucy for Christmas, ASAP! Lucy will know what to do. I have been following her on Instagram as she paints her house and garage.

  16. I am prettty sure the universe felt a bump when you published that and all of your readers took a collective gasp of horror and sympathy and shock. By now you have it under control but all of us were metaphorically crying in our underpants at that scene! I hope you saved the Grandpa sweater.

  17. Oh god, I’m so sorry. That is exactly the kind of thing I would do, so I also know the exact feeling of dread that accompanies such a disaster. Much love. And whiskey.

  18. I was feeling a bit stressed as I am nowhere near ready for Xmas, but I feel ever so much better now!! Except for the near panic attack I had when I saw your photo!! Oh for a time warp that could take you back and make it not happen. Hope things are feeling a bit better now.

  19. Now I can’t look down my own staircase without seeing this.
    There should be a trailer: “No animals or humans were hurt in the making of this disaster.”
    Please let us know how you managed the aftermath. I’d be tempted to call HazMat. But it’s fixable. Keep perspective.

  20. Cleaning up a gallon of paint is a Herculean task. I hope you had help, but suspect you probably took on the challenge by yourself. Either way, you deserve a Screech cocktail. Perhaps this one?
    Dirty Grandmother
    Mixed Drink Recipe from Cocktail Builder
    1 1/2 oz of Kahlua coffee liqueur
    4-6 oz of milk
    1 1/2 oz of newfoundland screech dark rum (or RedRum)

    Pour Newfoundland Screech dark rum and Kahlua coffee liqueur over ice in a cocktail glass. Fill with milk or light cream, stir and serve.

  21. Oh Steph… It’s beautifully awful and awfully brilliant and terribly awesome all at once. The splatter is almost lovely in and of itself if you don’t count the items sacrificed to the beauty (like your socks). I’m so sorry, but so grateful (?) you have us all to commiserate with you!

  22. I’m so sorry Steph! This reminds me of the time my 5 year-old nephew dropped a large, full, open bottle of ketchup from the second floor into my front hall about 2 hours before a New Year’s Eve party. There was ketchup everywhere! My front hall smelled like a McDonald’s for a long time afterward!
    We laugh about it now but it took a while to get there. I hope you get there soon.

    • My mom refuses to buy spaghetti sauce in a glass jar, it had to be plastic. Why? When she was 13 she dropped a glass jar of spaghetti sauce in the kitchen and it went everywhere. Even the ceiling! Even when she thought she was done she would find another spatter or spot.

      • My sad story involved blueberries and a blender…trying to make blueberry sauce…and the heat and the action popped that lid right off.

        No sauce is that good.

          • Mine was tomato soup. In a freshly painted kitchen. With white walls and ceiling. Nearly twenty years ago, and I think I spotted another droplet of soup remnant last night.

            (Heh. The anti spam filter wants me to touch the PANTS. Almost like it read your blog post!)

      • My mother’s pressure cooker exploded shooting tomato sauce everywhere. This happened when I was about 6 and in the intervening 64 years, I’ve not been able to bring myself to use a pressure cooker even though the new ones are better.

        My own version was at a friend’s house right before an afternoon party. The house was spotless, food on the table, etc., when her greyhound got excited and whacked her tail against the corner separating the hall and dining room. Blood spurted everywhere. Nina, the greyhound, was blissfully unaware and ran all over the house before we could stop her and get the tend to the bleeding tail. [She was fine and enjoyed the party even with a bandaged tail.] We had 5 minutes to turn the house back to a welcoming place for an afternoon gathering instead of something that looked like a crime scene!

  23. I had to remember to start breathing again, and I’m not even there. Oh Stephanie. I’m so sorry.

    You know you have an army of knitters that would show up at a moment’s notice to help repaint all the things that should be painted, if that helps any.

    You always wanted lighter steps so you could see where you’re going anyway, right?

  24. My coworker said “eh, she should just leave it there and call it art.”
    I’d be tempted.
    I do not envy this clean up! I’m so sorry. Reminds me of the time I shook a jar of paint in school, and the lid wasn’t on. It went all over me, and everything around me! I was ten. I remember it like it just happened.

  25. Ugh!! I cannot even imagine. Fortunately Christmas comes, family gathers and love rules the day. In years to come this will be a funny story….for now I’m wishing for a quick clean up and time to breathe.

  26. This level of the universe interfering with someone who was so on the holiday game is just cruel! So I have to imagine that somehow, through this event, you have neutralized someone else’s future disaster, and for that we all have to thank you! And also, a heartfelt thank you for your grace and generosity in sharing this story with us. It makes me feel a very much less alone in my “paint down the stairs” moments… (and more likely to share them when they happen!)

  27. This is so epically horrendous. I hope cleanup went better than anticipated. I’m also hoping for an update, no matter how short. Very best wishes for a glorious Christmas to help you over this disaster.

  28. If it was me, I would have fallen and broken my foot, to boot (and yes, this really happened to me, just before Christmas, five years ago….). This time of year, I always hold the handrail, turn on the light, and keep the lid on anything I’m carrying up and down the steps (plus look twice before crossing any street, stay away from sharp objects, etc., etc.). Otherwise, I’m asking for it.

  29. Oh no! I’m so sorry, Steph! Not sure what your stores carry up there, but we’ve got Goof Off and Goo Gone that can remove paint errors. I’ve used them on indoor flooring and on concrete outside. I buy them at the hardware stores. Try to consider it just another “Christmas Story” that you’ll laugh at in years to come even if it isn’t the least bit funny right now. Gentle hugs, dear lady!

    • Yes! Yes! Works wonders on lots of things, it’s my go-to post-disaster aid! Goo Gone — look for it at Canadian Tire (I know they have it there!). And my heart goes out to you, Steph….. so many ‘been there done that’!

  30. This is how Jackson Pollock started. Hopefully now that you’ve had time to have a beverage or three, and put some pants on, you can see how beautiful it is.

  31. Oh no. Oh no. Please tell me it was latex paint and you got it up while it was still wet. Though, that amount is nothing like anything I’ve ever tried to clean before. .. I really think at this point anything that doesn’t get done for Christmas you get a pass on. Holey Mikey… Thanks for putting my Christmas prep in perspective.

  32. Oh I feel faint. So much empathy for you. Years ago I was painting a room in my sister’s house. I was 90% finished when I knocked a nearly full gallon of paint off the ladder. I had to redo the wall, the woodwork, AND buy her new carpeting (much to my husband’s dismay). You may have twitchy nightmares for a while, but you will survive this!

  33. Oh, you poor thing! People will understand late gifts so don’t worry about that. Or you could just add that mess to Joe’s list and keep knitting.

  34. First put everything splattered in soapy water, especially the clothing items. Latex should wash out, at least mostly.

    FWIW, I’m in favor of making the stairway an art installation, even without the glitter, and just letting it dry. A fan or several would speed that up.

    Bags, balls, walls can wait. There’s a product called Goof Off that removes dry latex paint.

    It will all be OK once your adrenaline gets back to normal. Joe will provide hugs, I’m sure.

  35. Put me in the ” add red and green paint, some silver glitter and call it a day” camp. I’d let it be, clean the rest, and deal with it when I had the emotional capacity to do so (which just might be July).

    Hundreds of us would’ve gladly stopped what we are doing to help you clean up. Hopefully many good vibes helped make for lighter work.

  36. Oh good grief – it’s Murphy’s Law and we are all so sympathetic. We’ll keep you in our thoughts and btw, thank goodness you ARE a blogger, since we get to see that we are not alone! Thank you and Truly Happy Holidays – you’ll have them, for SURE!

  37. Oh dear. I’m sorry this happened.

    It doesn’t have to be hubris. Don’t be hard on yourself. Accidents happen to everyone. Plus I’m sure you have the “penance” of cleanup anyway …

  38. I would actually like to sincerely thank you for dropping a can of paint down your stairs because I found out last night that my MIL might have advanced terminal cancer–we don’t know yet–and I keep running into abandoned rooms at work this morning to cry. Now I am subbing the mental image of your paint-splattered everything whenever the thought pops up, and while I am very sorry it happened, I can manage a smile this afternoon.

  39. I am so so SO sorry. I have been there. Did you know they make toilet tanks with rounded tops now? And I found out the very hard way. Do not trust putting open paint on top of a toilet tank is my cautionary tale. I am so so SO sorry.

  40. Use cardboard to scoop up as much of the wet paint as possible and just dump it in a trash bag. Use Fantastik and wet rags to clean what residue remains. As for clothing, wet them down with cold water and treat them with rubbing alcohol. Wash using cold water and repeat, treating with more rubbing ahcohol, as needed. Don’t send anything through the dryer! I work for a paint company and have had more spills and paint on clothing than I care to remember. Good luck with the clean up!!

  41. Wow -that is spectacular, in the true sense of the word. I offer you my mantra for situations like these: No one is vomiting, no one is in pain. No one is vomiting, No one is in pain.
    I’m so sorry this happened ……….

    • My mantra, when my then-teens called me at work to report disaster was, “Is anyone bleeding? Is anything on fire? Is anyone in jail?”
      If the answers all were “no,” and thankfully they were, I’d say, “ Well, then, we can cope,” and we’d work through the issue.

  42. I hope you started with saving the sweater. Also, this same thing happened to me, but–wait for it–in someone else’s house. We used toothpicks to get the paint out of the back of their TV.

  43. I have no words of wisdom for you. I am sorry you are dealing with this right now. When I read your previous post and saw all you were planning to accomplish before Christmas, I was in awe and a bit envious of your stamina. Now, I’m thanking heaven, I’m not in your shoes. Hope you have managed to clean up and calm down. Take care of yourself and stop trying to be super woman.

  44. If it is latex, and since nothing was “prepped” for painting (like being sanded), you can likely peel a lot of it up once it hardens a bit.
    I will admit, your final line: “…but boy, was I right. Joe is going to be SO impressed.” made me laugh!

  45. This is so enormously awful that I can’t find enough words to console you! I will sit in empathy. Just know that when enough time passes, this will become a family legend

  46. OMG. That’s so awful i don’t even have words. Steph, I’m so sorry. If there wasn’t 2 provinces between us I’d come over to help.

    Don’t give up, you never know what miracles you can pull off. A friend of mine kicked over a full can of paint in the middle of his master bedroom carpet. He immediately got in the car and rented a carpet cleaner. He did such a good job cleaning up his wife still does not know.

  47. Actually, Presbytera, when I saw this on Instagram last night, I had to pull out the big guns. (I admit I laughed about the mittens and invoked Uncle Tupper, but that was a separate post.) I had to to invoke my friend Dolores, sewing an optimistic bridesmaid into the too-small dress half a hour after the wedding should have started, looking up and saying “This is gonna tell funnier than it lives.” Might be time to all in the daughters.

    • I’m thinking the ladies would be a big help about now, too. I’m hoping they are available to pick up some of the Christmas magic responsibilities and Steph lets them in on the fact she could use the help.

    • Oh, hey–THAT could maybe be a good thing??! “Nope, you need to take care of that, Hon–remember the last time I opened a can of paint in here??!?”

  48. I’m sorry…and I had to laugh so I ‘m sorry for that too. I think you should just leave it as a reminder that we are not in control no matter how much we think we are.

  49. Spectacular.

    First of all, forget trying to fix the stairs — too much time and it will look funny no matter what you do. so leave it — I vote with the people who recommend adding glitter.

    Get the jacket and sweater and what not into a cleaning solution, wash the baby’s ball, try and soak up what’s on the carpet.

    and leave the rest as a conversation piece.

  50. Oh my God. I am so so so so sorry. Maybe some things like the ball will be easy to clean? I hope the bag can be saved, and everything else, too … (it’s a shame the bathroom is upstairs, maybe you could have marketed it as boheme decoration … if the paint had had enough time to dry …)

  51. As we in the south like to say, “Oh, honey, bless your heart.” It’s in times like these when I take to my bed with a rag on my head.

  52. Oh, wow.

    My cat once walked through a paint tray and then casually around the house, leaving little green footprints everywhere she went, but this… this is something else.

    My tip: do not be afraid to call for backup. Everyday burdens we can shoulder for ourselves, but an Outsize Special Order burden like this calls for more shoulders than one person’s got.

  53. What they all said and this: I am guessing it’s too late for this but if anything like this ever happens, put out on FB and here…. Calling all my fans (in your area It’s Toronto right:), by my wool I need emergency help… put here what happened and what you need…..I am sure they would come running to help! I know I would but I’m 11 hours away…… Big hugs and best of luck with your fancy painted stairs!

  54. Give yourself some perspective. The spatter is actually beautiful and there are people who pay tons of money for that look in high priced art galleries.

  55. I’m sorry for your stress and the work of cleaning it up. But I have to offer praise for the way you often use your blog titles as the punch line. You are smart and witty and I love how you use language.

  56. Whoa.
    I have no words beyond that it truly is spectacular. And yes, in 3 years this will be hysterical. (Actually, with you and your clan, it will be hysterical by tomorrow.)

  57. Well, this is the first time I’ve ever read a blog post, looked at a photo and blurted f*** which is not a word I use often. I was, as you so succinctly put it, “understandably upset” as who wouldn’t be?!!! May the universe now correct its wayward ways and the rest of your holiday season go perfectly and joyfully well. Because really that’s enough what the f*** for several Christmases.

  58. AAK! As soon as I read “paint” and “quick job” I shuddered. Our family has not one, but two similar stories. All these years later I still stay away from paint. I like what the gals said about this being a disaster you can think of later as, “At least that didn’t happen this year.” Please accept my sympathy. All your company will smile sympathetically and think to themselves, “I didn’t do it.”

  59. Something very similar happened to me. Except it was bright pink paint….tipped over on beige carpeting. In the middle. Half a can.

  60. This would be the ideal time to carpet the stairs. Having spilled an entire gallon of oil based paint all over my brand new kitchen cabinets, I can sympathize. That was years ago and I still don’t find it funny. It will be a cause for Christmas cheer for your family, I’m sure. Happiest of holidays to you in spite of everything.

  61. Greet your husband at the door, state, “there was an incident” and hand him a drink.

    Holy Cats. Oh wait, make sure no cat walks through it!

  62. I tend to divide your holiday blogs into the years you took Hank shopping and the years when he grew too old to be taken shopping. Now we have a new divider, before painted staircase and after painted staircase.

    Someone above has good info on cleaning up paint. Put it to use, and the stairs will be a good story around the holiday table.

  63. I have painted umpteen houses inside and out and never had such a disaster. It seems so unfair that this should happen to you, of all people.

    Yes, it’s horrible but what if that had been you, not the paint falling down the stairs? Good luck with getting some professional help for the cleanup… this is going to be some story for your family Christmas in years to come! You are a legend. Happy Christmas, Dear Harlot.

    • Ditto. Falling down stairs can lead to misdiagnosis, pain for 2 years and ruptured disks in your back. If you plan to live in your house for a while just call it an artistic display and call it a day…

  64. Oh my! My heart cried for you. The holidays are stressful under the best of situations. This doesn’t qualify as “the best of situations”. I’m pretty sure! My heart is with you. And Joe.

  65. My dear Mom passed away this morning. And I really needed a story to make me smile. Thank you. And, it will be okay. Merry Christmas

  66. OMG!!!
    Clearly, things were going too well! Things were clearly out of balance, Now they are back to normal. I am so sorry!!!

    How on earth did you ever get it cleaned up? I think I would have repainted the whole area, though I like all the ideas here about adding more colors.

  67. You couldn’t have made this “accent” more beautiful if you’d thought it out with both hands for a week beforehand. That said, your staircase is a thoroughfare, not an art installation, so needs to be addressed. I’m with whoever mentioned the peelability of dry latex from smooth surfaces, though it looks thick enough that you’re probably going to need to use that staircase long before the paint is dry. I don’t know what to tell you about the sweater or socks or other textiles. Sympathy in spades, Steph, and I think it’s likely that the rest of Christmas will be duck soup as karma evens up after a spectacular tilt toward the dark.

  68. I am so very happy it wasn’t YOU that went tumbling. I am sending good thoughts your way that the remainder of your plans go more smoothly.

  69. Believe it or not my first thought was that I was thankful it wasn’t YOU bouncing down the stairs. I bet Joe thought that. As the knight said in Monty Python and the Holy Grail “Just a flesh wound”.

  70. First let me say that this post made me cry. Second, I read all of your best posts to my husband, and he had an alternate title for you to consider: “Pride comes before the fall.”

  71. There’s a David Wilcox song about this, “Leave it Like It Is.”
    “Now when the paint jar tipped off of the table, you watched as it started to fall…” Have a listen once it’s all said and done. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this, at this time of the year. Let us know how it turns out!

  72. Almost the exact same thing happened to me once when I thought I’d do a quick paint touch up while I was home from work on my lunch break. I also experienced the world shifting into extreme slow mode as I watched the full paint can tumble down the stairs. Luckily, mine were basement stairs and I had full spillage but less splatter than you. I quickly grabbed a brush and painted the stairs. No prep, no nothing. Happy to say, the non stair paint held up beautifully for years and I wasn’t late getting back to work! I feel your pain!

  73. I am sorry for your bad luck. But I have to say that the story, and especially the last line, remind me of the children’s (picture) book “Oh, Were They Ever Happy” by Peter Spier. Wonderfully warm and funny book – highly recommended.

  74. I’m afraid I might have called off my life right then and there, as in, “there is no possible way to recover from this incident and still have company, Christmas, or anything else in the plans, so I QUIT.” I f you didn’t quit, then you are Superwoman, made of stronger fabric than I.

  75. Oh! Oh! I am so sorry to read this!



    Latex PAINT has a solvent. Isopropol Alcohol will take paint out of clothes if you were not able to get it all gone with water right away. IT will remove it from the carpet, and any other surface as well. If it is on the surface of an Oil Based Paint it will not remove the oil based paint … Unfortunately if it is on another Latex Painted surface the Isopropol Alcohol will remove that too regardless of how long the paint has been there. You will need to rub the fabric and let the alcohol sit a while and soak. I got paint off of an favorite sweat shirt after the paint had through many washes. Put plastic over the wet alcohol to slow down evaporation.

    Best wishes….

  76. Oh sweetie! I’m so sorry! I was having a day as well … I’m nowhere near as far on the Christmas stuff as you are, but that spill is pretty epic. As much as it’s so horrible and time consuming to deal with now, it’s going to make for such a great story for the ages. I hope you had a few minutes just to sit and breathe and maybe have an enormous drink after your cry. Sending lots of hugs your way.

  77. I can sympathize. I once dropped a 4 litre can of purple paint from a height on my bedroom carpet. My WHITE bedroom carpet. Oh, and it was right in front of my open closet door. You can imagine.
    But carpet can be replaced, and messes aren’t fatal. You WILL look back on this and laugh… someday.

  78. That is big. So very grateful you did not accompany the can down those steps.

    Sorry paint did not STAY on the steps – had to include bike and clothes and walls, ballustrades, etc.,

    My heart is still beating hard and my face hasn’t relaxed yet.

    Grateful, again, you are OK.

    The bar has been set.

  79. I am sorry that you have a mess on your stairs that, at some point, will need to be dealt with.

    If you haven’t already cleaned it up, my vote is with the Jackson Pollock crowd. Further I would get a roll of Kraft paper and run it up the wall…and a few boxes of crayons. Let the clan create a holiday mural.

    And don’t you use candlelight for the family celebrations? Or at least, use it this year.

    I didn’t even think about the paint. I was so sure that you had taken a tumble and broken something essential to completing your plans.

    Paint is fixable (but I think I might move my knitted items from where they are sitting next to stairs).

  80. Husband did that with apple juice with added pectin. We cleaned for hours. Then he said “We should just call the realtor.” I laughed until I cried.

    You can move out, you know!

  81. I knew, when I saw your Instgram post, this would be epic. I can feel your shock and pain in your writing. I hope Joe gave you a big hug when he got home because you surely need one.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  82. Just do not run out of coffee in the cleanup.

    Full strength Australian empathy is the best i can do, otherwise. Excellent advice already offered by many others.

  83. Oh no! I hope the clothes are on way to recovery. I would let the rest dry and some other day have some other person paint the stairs. I can just imagine your horror. One very cold sleety Christmas Eve in Boston my ex husband dropped the only set of car/house keys down a sewer grate in the slush. It was ten pm before we could get a locksmith and .i was decorating the tree at 4 am. Some memories never leave. And I am still not laughing. Sympathy and courage, mon amie.

  84. Noooooooooooooo! Oh I’m so sorry. I have those moments too often where I pay myself on the back about how well something is going just before the penny drops. And that is quite a large penny.

    Thank you for sharing this on your blog. You have a gift for humor that illuminated what it means to be human.

  85. My Dad did a very similar thing when we were kids. He was painting a bedroom upstairs and thought “I’ll touch up the wood work in the dining room while I have the trim paint out.” An extra credit project. Went downstairs painting away holding the can in his hand and then he just let it go. It fell straight down, the paint went straight up and then EVERYWHERE all over the wool carpet that ran through our entire house. He ended up calling insurance and when the adjuster came to look and my Dad explained what happened he looked at the crime scene and said “Yup, that’s exactly what happened.” Silver lining because the carpet was 40 years old and made of pure wool which is a quality they don’t do anymore and ran through the whole first floor up the stairs and in the hallway, the adjuster decided there was no natural break so they replaced it all. So – it turned out it was a nice little extra extra credit project for my mom who had hated that carpet since the day they moved in 15 years earlier. Leave it to wool to save the day!
    And of course the result is a hilarious story we continue to tell to this day. Hubris is hilarious in hindsight. All the best with the clean up.

  86. Quite the visual – going downstairs in your underpants. Note to self – leave the lid on the paint when you go upstairs.

  87. I”m crying. Not laughing crying, crying crying. This is so my life. I’m so very sorry this happened! It’ll be funny in a year maybe, but damn girl. Not the time. Of course we all know it’s “just paint” and “it’ll be okay” sure, that’s true enough. But no. I am just so very sorry <3

  88. Glad the cat wasn’t following you upstairs.
    Glad you didn’t break your leg, arm, back, or neck.
    Glad it wasn’t enamel.
    Glad you did it and not Joe! (Many hard feelings have started with less – mustard across the kitchen ceiling comes to mind).
    Would love to see an after pic!

  89. Oops while extraordinarily frustrating and an excellent opportunity to beat yourself up please keep your perspective. No human or animal was injured. Most of it can be repaired by a redo of the stairs. You can buy the boy another ball – etc. Perspective means no one was injured, no child is in a cage, no family is without basic human needs. In a week or two it will be good story to tell whenever there is another small paint job. Merry Holidays… please blog the solutions !

  90. I was listening to a lecture by David Sedaris and one of his points was “at some point all painful things are funny if you ‘ve got the right attitude.” This is the mantra I’ve been repeating to myself at times.

  91. If it’s an oil-based paint, try using vegetable oil to get it out of clothing. I have done this successfully on a couple of things, mainly overcoats made out of some sort of synthetic, but it worked. And once on a leather jacket, too, and that paint had fully dried. If you get latex while it’s quite wet, you may be able to get most, if not all, of it out with lots & lots of warm water and a bit of dish soap. Good luck!

  92. I know that stunned, did this really happen, kind of feeling. Someone I know spilled a gallon of paint in the back seat of her car…and I thought that was bad.

  93. This is truly astounding. I feel like you single-handedly sucked all the bad knitter karma out of the world in that moment. I figure knitters all over the world have at least three days where we can do no wrong.

    I am so sorry this happened.

    • Nope! I had to rip out a sock last night! I missed a needle and wondered why the stupid thing wouldn’t lay flat…I was at the toe. I’ve been knitting socks for a few years now and have never ever done anything like that before lol

  94. Wow. Holy cow. Holy sheep. The ripple of the shock wave of this event will bounce and ricochet around the world at least a couple of times. I wish I could offer to come and help, but I live too far away. Please let us know that you are breathing again.

  95. I hate to say it, but as soon as you said you popped the top off, I knew (sort of) what was coming.
    I got that same gasp of horror that I did when you showed that lace repair with everything pulled apart.
    Wow. So sorry Steph. Wish I had words of wisdom or solace for you.

  96. Please don’t hate me for laughing. Ideas….couldn’t you just get a paint brush and spread it out and ‘paint’ the stairs with it? Santa better have some extra nice gifts for you this Xmas in compensation.

  97. Whoa. I’m biting back unsolicited advice. All I can say is
    you’ve reminded me to enjoy all the holiday preparations and whatever I do (or don’t do is enough). I’m in the camp to showcase it as an art installation, but then, there’s always a runner option, non-skid, perhaps, for the grandkids’ safety. Many many happy holiday wishes to you and your family.

  98. O.M.G. I am reading this 24 hours later, and sending up a quick prayer for you and Joe and your family. Christmas will happen regardless of preparations because…well…Christmas doesn’t rely on those. It’s not about those. But…I hope you got the mess tidied up — or the stairs repainted. I hope you were able to rescue your knitting. I hope that someday soon, about all this you will laugh. Hugs!

  99. EVERYBODY SLOW DOWN. Things like this happen when you are trying to do too much. One year I was so stressed I didn’t get the family Christmas cards sent out. And you know what??? The world did not come to an end.

  100. Oh, I am so sorry! But when I read the description of where the paint went and that “everything I could possibly use to clean this up was downstairs” to my husband, we both laughed hysterically! I am so glad YOU didn’t go down the stairs and are not hurt. When I was in my twenties I worked as a house painter. One day I moved the ladder I had been working from and the open can of paint sitting on it –Kilz alcohol based stain hider– fell over onto my head and then all over the floor. I had waist length red-brown hair in a pony tail. It was saturated with Kilz. Eventually, it came out. Eventually, we all laughed about it, even my boss. :-)) Good Luck and I hope the rest of your holiday season goes smoothly!

  101. Oh Steph! I am so sorry. At least you didn’t get hurt! All I can do is send healing hugs and love and hope tomorrow is a better day. ❤️

  102. Oh moth! I thought my week had been bad – but I’ve only been in a tough place, not a paint-splattered one.
    I’m surprised the collective intake of breath around the blog world didn’t suction that stuff right up into the air.
    So, so much love and sympathy to you! (Is it too late to artfully adjust the whole thing into a series of snowflakes and call it ‘seasonal decorating’??)

  103. I knew it was going to be bad once you mentioned paint. Paint stories don’t end well.

    I’m glad you’re okay. Now might be a good time to call in the troops for Christmas chores.

  104. Fuck! I am so sorry this happened to you! I know that sometimes everything goes to hell in a handcart and we all feel that we must walk through the Flaming corridors of Hades just to get a cup of tea, but man, that’s unfair. I have every confidence in your ability to deal with it, but I as an amazingly capable woman myself, I know that that burden can be heavy and sometimes it’s necessary to have a flip out and a drink up before you straighten your crown and step up. Again. Hurrah for amazing women (even when they’re out for an eight count!)

  105. As I read of how well things were going, I was ready for a disaster, but this was never crossed my mind. Even when you said carrying paint up the stairs, I was fearing, as were others, that YOU fell down the stairs. I’m glad to be wrong.
    And thanks to your commenters about using isopropyl alcohol, Goof Off, or nail polish remover on fabrics. I’m hoping I’ll never need to remember that.

    How impressed was Joe?

  106. As I was reading this, as soon as I got to the part where you opened the can of paint in the basement, I thought, “Oh no, you didn’t. You didn’t plan to travel more than a few inches holding an open can of paint.” Because I know would happen if I tried that. I’m so sorry.Nice color though!

  107. I’m ashamed to admit I laughed out loud! Sometime before you die (it may take awhile to get over this incident) please let us know, item by item from the last paragraph, how you dealt with this.

  108. Oh, man, this was an unexpected laugh that I sorely needed. (To be clear, it wasn’t a schadenfreude sort of laugh, it was a gasp of astonished laughter because sometimes life is just that wild.)
    Thanks, my dear. And I hope the cleanup wasn’t too painful.

  109. Back when my son was still eating strained peas, I was preparing his lunch the day before I was expecting 10 people for gourmet club night in my brand new home. It still baffles my mind as to how the jar of peas exploded across the kitchen, into the popcorn ceiling, on all the surfaces visible and not. I called my husband at work, crying hysterically into the phone and he came home and helped me clean up. He was my hero that day. So I really feel your pain.

  110. Oh no – you have my outmost sympathy – & right when it looked like you were ahead of the infinite to do list! Hang in there & power through – you can do it! And it’s ok to ask for help!

  111. My husband balanced an extension ladder on a curved pillar to add lovely yellow accents to our dark grey / white home. The ladder slid off the said pillar, he fell off and the can of yellow paint flew across the front of the house. Window, dark grey clapboards, shrubbery. I’m glad he didn’t break his neck.

  112. Ammonia (diluted with some water) is good for getting water-based paints off when they are fairly new. (Egads, I am hoping that that was water-based!) Microfiber towels are also helpful. And will be trashed when you are finished. Godspeed and good luck!

  113. I was thinking of sanding and painting a spot on the dining room wall (just painted this last summer) that the electrician had drilled through when putting in a new outlet for the fridge tomorrow.

    Maybe after Christmas…….

    Good luck with all the parts of the cleanup. I feel for you, being myself a semi-professional klutz.

  114. Ouch. If I was your neighbor, and if you called me from the top of those paint spilled stairs, I would have been there in an instant. We’d figure out how to work both directions to clean up the paint and share a sip of whiskey (or 2-3) to lighten the mood.

  115. I went to IKEA and remembered to take a blue bag. This surely means disaster is going to befall me at the first opportunity! I’m not going near any paint cans.

  116. I can hear the voice of a critical person in my past screeching out “Pride cometh before a fall”! My heart hurts you. I’m glad I saw the post that followed this! Once again you have proven that you can’t hold super woman down!

  117. The minute I read that you took the lid off the paint BEFORE starting up the stairs, I had an ugly feeling about what was coming – but wow! Now that’s spectacular!

    I’m so sorry.

  118. I’m sorry for the mess…and the mitten… but I am relieved you are ok. At first I thought you were going to say you fell and broke bones. Instead of being hurt, you will have a Christmas story that will take first place in your family history.

  119. No need to rip the second left mitten, just make 2 rights and give 2 people mittens. I know because I did that one year. Also buy 6 boxes of really good chocolate (Mrs. See’s is what I use). Any knits not finished get replaced with chocolate ( I know my relatives, they’ll love it. ) Then when the knits get done they turn magically into 2020 birthday pressies. Voila! I’m ahead, not behind. If the gifts magically get done in time, I have chocolate to eat until Easter. Win/win! I’m sure you’ll work it out… You always do.
    Julie in San Diego

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