Perfection (aka Grandma’s Smile)

My wife and I have been married for almost eight years. In that time, we have survived many household projects; some major, some minor, and some discussed and yet to be finished. Indeed, as an architect by trade, all of the projects start out with perfection in mind. My wife is even more of a perfectionist than I. After all, we desire to live our lives in the best space possible.

The Deck

As with all designs, there are regularly unforeseen conditions. With the deck project, it took over a week and a half to auger the holes for the foundation tubes and dig the pits for the support piers. Getting the foundation level enough allowing for only a few shims took another couple of weekends beyond the week I took off work to do the whole project. Perfection proved difficult and a time-suck.

As the one week project became a summer-long project, my wife became increasingly irritated. When I started to cut corners, she would swoop in and pull the quality card. Frustration came with words. But, we survived and are stronger for it.

The Bench

The Bench

A year later, we took on the next backyard endeavor. The design extended the patio a bit with a bench backed by a high planter and trellis with two, modern, plant boxes as bookends. I built the ends out of concrete block, facing them with a stone veneer.

Ultimately, we couldn’t find a stone cap for the concrete block to match the veneer that worked or that didn’t cost a fortune. So, I built the caps out of wood countersinking bolts into the concrete voids of the cinder block. The large wood caps had mitered corners held together with biscuit joints.

I felt gratified with the results. Perfection? No. But, it was close. That is until the weather changed.  Weather does funny things with wood. No, my near perfect mitered joints have pulled apart showing a bit of gap. And, some of the caps have warped and cracked with time.

The Island Table

We have a counter height, island table in the middle of the kitchen. It is made of wood and is the central piece of furniture in the kitchen.

I cook with my wife’s, grandmother’s dutch oven often. A few months or so ago, I stupidly grabbed the hot lid without a hot pat and hastily placed it on the island table while I attended to my burned fingers and the next element of the recipe process. When I put the cover back on the dutch oven, I saw a newly burned arch left by the hot lid.

The perfectly sanded wood top now had a scar. My wife was not upset, but she wasn’t happy about it, either.

Perfection (aka Grandma’s Smile)

All those projects and missteps have a happy ending, though. The deck has held up just beautifully and level = perfection in the long run. The bench is now a weekly, if not daily, part of our lives. The cracks are there, and one day we will have to replace the wood again anyway. And, I was able to make my wife laugh when calling the arched burn mark Grandma’s Smile. I like to think that to be the truth from above.

Every once in a while, I take the time to stroll through the house to look at all the projects accomplished over the years. We have coped with a couple of squeaky boards from cork flooring I installed. The baseboards have a realignment issue in places. The tile in our kitchen backsplash shows a few hints that rookies were at hand. And, there are some paint flaws if you look close enough.

A friend of mine was standing in the kitchen the other day and traced Grandma’s smile with his finger, “I have a good sander you can borrow to get that out.”

I shook my head. “No, I hope it lasts a long time. It’s the imperfections that I have come to treasure the most.”

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