A saint for all seasons

If you’re not Catholic, you might not realize that we have a saint for everything. As americancatholic.org explains:

Certain Catholic saints are associated with certain life situations. These patron saints intercede to God for us. We can take our special needs to them and know they will listen to our prayers, and pray to God with us.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cashed in on that ticket in my life…along with devotion to Mary, which, in my opinion, is the best thing about being Catholic (or being raised Catholic in my case, as I don’t practice anymore. Long story. But, if you are Catholic and remember your catechism, you know that every sacrament, from Baptism to First Communion to Confirmation to the other four leaves an indelible mark on your soul — a holy tattoo so to speak — so basically, you’re Catholic for life.) 

But I digress.

Since becoming a homeowner, and particularly over the last few years of living in fixer-upperhood, my saint of choice has become St. Joseph. (Not to mention having to sell 5 houses over the years. I never buried him in the yard, but I sure did pray a lot.) He was a carpenter, you know, so in my book, that means he was a supreme DIYer and, of course, an expert. So what if they didn’t have electricity or plumbing and he didn’t have anything to do with concrete or garage door installation or clik-lok floors. He’s my go-to guy when we’re doing any sort of home-improvement project that’s particularly difficult or frustrating or dangerous or tedious or just short of impossible — so, pretty much all of them.

This past weekend he heard from me a lot. For the past three years, I’ve been besieged by an ugly spot in the hardest possible place — on the upstairs hall ceiling above the stairs. jaggededgeOur hallway has layers of paint over wallpaper, and when I painted after we moved in, the tape I used to get a clean edge at the ceiling tore the wallpaper, leaving ugly brown underpaper exposed. I daubed some white paint on most areas to disguise them, but I just couldn’t reach that 2-foot scar over the stairway. Every day it taunted me, “You’re a loser. Martha wouldn’t tolerate me. Everyone sees me. I’m ugly. Ha. Ha. Ha.”  Kind of like the talking stain in the Tide-to-Go commercials.

Last year sometime (yeah, I know, it was on sale) we bought crown mold to completely cover the bad edge. Finally, this past weekend was “the one,” given that it was too cold to work outside on the porch. With the best of intentions, we cleared the space, assembled our ladders (one purchased months ago just for the occasion and still in its wrapping), and got to work.

Within 10 seconds, it got difficult.

Thinking it would make the job a breeze, we had bought those corner moldings that keep you from having to miter the corners — a nightmare task anytime but particularly in an old house where walls and corners are never true and square. Well, duh, if they’re not true and square, the corner blocks don’t fit right either. And Mike didn’t like them anyway, saying they were too Victorian and our other rooms with crown mold didn’t have them.

That left us (by us I mean Mike) with a lot of complex figuring and endless trial and error to cut those damn corners. As he perched on a ladder on the landing holding an 8-ft piece of molding over his head, and I perched on a ladder along the side wall next to the stairs, holding a 12-ft piece of molding, I prayed a lot. Over and over.

As always, it worked (rather, Mike and St. Joseph made it work). They persevered, long after I abandoned the effort to put up Christmas decorations, and got that blasted molding installed, including some complicated piecing. And without the nice nailgun we had bought for the job as well (but have used for numerous other projects in the meantime) because even the longest nails it holds were just too short. All that remains is a bit more caulking, and then painting.

Of course, it looks beautiful. I’ll share a few photos when it’s all done. In the meantime, I have some pretty serious “Thank you dear St. Joseph”-ing to attend to. Always appropriate, but especially at this time of year.

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when,
whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees. 
                                                                       ~ Victor Hugo


  1. kevie said,

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 11:49 am

    that spot on the ceiling taunted me more than once! it would be all robbie and i could talk about on our way home from a visit. what a potty mouth! glad to hear that scar is sealed forever ….”we like mike whats not to like he is the kind of guy who can hang crown molding, rebuild a porch…..”

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    You’ll have to let me know if you can still hear faint mumbling from beneath the crown…I have my suspicions. And you wouldn’t believe the ruckus emanating from the demolished to-be powder room….

  3. pawsinsd said,

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Hey there, thanks for checking in from time to time. I’m checking in with you, lapsed Catholic that I am. Check out Mincemeat. My brother couldn’t find it in NYC so looked online and found… me. Serves him right for not reading my blog! Merry Christmas to you. cookingwithdee.net, Dee

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Ha — funny about the mincemeat! (I still have two of my $0.99 bargain jars left! Surely one must go for Christmas.) Enjoy the holiday!

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