Well now I know which question never to ask a writer who is writing a book.
How’s the book coming?
Yeah. Not coming. Not coming along at all, thank you very much for asking.
I can, however, tell you about a number of projects that are coming along well, really well indeed. Ask me, for instance, about my cleaned-out closet and my color-coordinated wardrobe.
Or about the best method for pruning a magnolia tree.
Or how to properly dispose of 26 half-empty cans of latex paint.
Because clearly when you are writing a book the first thing you must do is dispose of the 26 half-empty cans of latex paint that have been sitting in your basement since the Pleistocene era.
Like the cobalt blue we painted Rowan’s room when he was but a wee speck in the womb. And actually, it’s two cans of cobalt blue, one shade slightly lighter than the other, because we did stripes, stripes I tell you. Clearly we were young and inspired and energetic. We dreamed big back then.
And the fire hydrant red I painted Noah’s windowsills and trim two shades ago, the perfect complement to his choo-choo train wallpaper border. (You just had a flashback to Duran Duran and Jordache jeans when you read the words “wallpaper border” didn’t you? What can I say, I’m a child of the ’80s; it took me a couple of decades to move beyond the wallpaper border decorating trend).
And speaking of the ’80s, there’s the it-was-supposed-to-be-a-warm-beige-but-it-turned-out-nylons-nude color I painted Noah’s windowsills and trim one shade ago. (FYI: Five coats of nylons-nude to cover fire-hydrant red = painter PTSD. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
And then there’s the mental-hospital green I lived with on my bedroom walls for six years because my husband gets all “I’m only doing this once” tough-guy when I get the painting urge (which is a lot; e.g. the 26 half-empty paint cans in my basement).
You probably didn’t know that you can chuck half-empty cans of latex paint right into the trash, did you? Yeah, me neither. I assumed it would entail a 12-man hazardous waste disposal team and a 49-step decontamination process, but no. You simply dry out the half-empty cans, first by prying off the rusted lids with one of those metal paint-lid-prier-offer doohickeys, and then by exposing the remaining paint sludge to the open air.
I have cans of paint in my basement that I will never use again and that are nearly full (see nylons-nude above). By my estimate, it will take until the return of the Pleistocene era to dry out these nearly full cans of paint. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t live with my basement looking like this till Pleistocene II:
Friends, it turns out there is a solution to this madness, and it’s called kitty litter. You stir kitty litter into the nearly full cans of paint and voila! it absorbs the extra paint. When the extra paint has dried to an “oatmeal-like consistency” you let it sit a while longer, and then you are allowed to chuck the can into the trash. Brilliant!
I know this now because I am writing a book not at all about how to dry out unused cans of latex paint.
This whole time, you assumed I was getting all sixteenth-century learned, all fancy-pants Martin Luther theological, didn’t you? Yeah, no. Turns out, I’ve been getting my Fly Lady on. No time like the present to solve the half-empty paint can problem, people.
All this to say, if we run into each other in Petco and you see that my cart contains 26 bags of Tidy Cats, please don’t ask me how the book is coming along. Instead, let’s talk about latex paint. Or color-coordinated closets. Or how to prune a magnolia tree.
This public service message is brought to you by Martin and Katharina Luther.