I’ve always had this secret desire to play piano, paint some kind of masterpiece, build tree houses or rock gardens in such a way that would make my Pinterest friends cry with disbelief and admiration. Alas, that is not who I am! For one, I am too impatient, so decorating a cake doesn’t get any better than slapping some Betty Crocker chocolate frosting over a cake. Quite frequently I will frost a cake when it’s too warm and wind up making a pile of mush. My second character flaw is that I don’t have the talent, and my rock gardens become rock piles and my drawings look a bit like stick-figures. I am however, extremely persistent.
Nothing could have really demonstrated my lack of artistic ability and creativity more than my Swedish project. I am married to a wonderful, hard-working, kind man from Sweden. I have some great friends and a very supportive family living in Sweden. It’s very customary that during the summer, Swedes embark on projects. They build cottages, work on their woodwork, patch their roofs and find things to build, construct or tear down. Did you every watch Fraggle Rock? That’s how Swedes look to me during the summer. My Swedish family? They are tough, they build, they tear down, they construct and they are never idle. They are a tough crowd to run with!
So it was with gusto and brevity that I embraced my summer project one year. I, Lorraine Lundqvist, would paint and decorate old, decrepit, wooden chairs! They would be white with delicate artistic tulips painted oh so creatively on the arms of those chairs! I made my trip to the local hardware store. The staff there knows who I am, after all, there are not many Americans traipsing into this arctic northern town. Dressed in pink boots from Target, and speaking English so quickly it makes the local wonder “what is she saying now,” I walked into the hardware store. The kind woman who helped me recommended some kind of outdoorsy paint. I didn’t care what it was, I just wanted the color white. She cautioned me that the weather in Sweden, being so harsh, required some serious strong paint. Yeah yeah yeah, I thought. I purchased the paint and went along my merry way, eager to start my Swedish project.
I mistakenly thought that I could paint the chairs white, that it would rub off of my skin quite easily and I could wash the paint brushes in water with my bare hands. That is not what happened. My husband, ever so supportive and laughing just a tad bit, had me place my hands in a grocery bag and drove me over to his father’s house. Once there, I was deposited inside his garage where some serious turpentine-type substance was scrubbed into my skin.
The next day I returned to the hardware store where I was met with confusion. Why was I looking for white paint again? Embarrassed I had to tell the nice hardware store lady my story, and requested some water-soluble white paint that would never last in Swedish weather. Chuckling, she led me to the wimpy section (my words not hers) and warned me that the chairs would have to be taken in during the hard winter months. My poor in-laws, I am always furthering our reputation when I visit during the summer! I drove away happy once again and finished my project.
This is a story that makes me quite happy. Every time I go to Sweden and visit my chairs I am able to laugh at myself and marvel at my Picasso-like abilities. The chairs are doing quite well, I am happy to say, because we bring them inside the shed every year. I have not yet figured out what my next project is, but it is safe to say that it will be something quite impressive!
Watch out Sweden, here I come!