What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

hesitation (or: goodbye hole, hello plain)

on August 26, 2014

Some days, shedding is light-hearted and care-free. Other days, it’s hard work for head and heart. This one was tough. I began this entry over a week ago, and I’m wryly amused that it’s taken me days to finish drafting a post named “hesitation.”

Without hesitating any longer, allow me to introduce to you the Plain:

No "purple mountain majesties" here ... though there is a spot of cat urph (sigh)....

No “purple mountain majesties” here … though there is a spot of cat urph (sigh)….

The Plain is the welcome successor to the Hole. The Hole was the consequence of the Hill, which was a lump, some three feet in diameter, that a year ago ominously rose in the middle of our sitting room floor. When we pulled up the 25-year-old carpet, we found a section of particleboard underlayment that wasn’t properly fastened to the joists beneath the subfloor. Humidity during a damp summer made it swell. Demolition was the final answer: I cut out the Hill, which left us with the Hole to fill with a plywood patch. But as often occurs in repair work, the new plywood wasn’t quite as thick as the old surrounding particleboard, by about 3/32”.

First I tried to disguise the stepped edge with automotive plastic body filler. It’s strong, and would have worked, but I quickly realized my materials cost would have been enormous. So then I turned to a premixed latex flexible floor patching compound. It wasn’t a technically bad choice, either, but after I’d gone through most of a gallon and could still detect the transition underfoot, I realized creating a slope wasn’t going to work, no matter how gradual. I was going to have to fill in the entire Hole.

Rats. That meant using self-leveling cement. It’s a quite remarkable product that fills in low places on floors, usually before installing a finish floor covering. It isn’t all that “self-leveling,” however … it has to be mixed to a thick batter, troweled on, and screed to level. If I’ve lost you with technical lingo, well, that’s cement work: its own little world. And I hate doing it. I don’t feel I have the eye nor the touch. And once water hits that powder, the timer’s counting down the twenty minutes before it turns to unforgiving stone.

It is good to hesitate before doing something stupid. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” folk wisdom advises. Occasionally in that moment I have decided to do differently. But prudence is a distant cousin, several times removed, from perfectionism. More often when I hesitate, it’s before trying something new or starting something with uncomfortably uncertain outcomes, which include outright failure.

So finally I quit hesitating, got my tools in order, measured out the water, and poured the powder into the bucket. Everything else followed.

Clearly I’m not going to be able to give up hesitating before starting a new effort just because I’ve said I’ll shed it. Yet I believe declaring an intention helps me act upon it. So I’m glad I shed this instance of hesitation. I have a flatter floor to show for it.

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … before what hoped-for but uncertain end might you be hesitating?

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One response to “hesitation (or: goodbye hole, hello plain)

  1. […] don’t like doing masonry work or cement jobs. I’m not confident I’ll get them right, and it doesn’t help that my mistakes […]

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