Hanging Wallpaper & the Eternal Optimist


I have been accused of being an optimist more than once, in fact, I’ve been known to say ridiculous things like,”let’s get a train ticket to Portugal and then hitch hike back to Germany,” or on a ski trip, “it’s 10 degrees below zero, how cold can it actually be at the top once the sun comes out?”  Well, it turns out at 10 below it’s really horribly cold at the top, and it takes about a week to hitch hike from Portugal’s Algarve Coast to Nurnberg.

So, I was undaunted when I paid a small fortune for two small rolls of wallpaper for my hallway powder room.  When I told the sweet ladies in the Treasure Trove in Lafayette, that I was going to do the install they exchanged knowing smiles.  I explained that I had hung wallpaper for my mother in her rental properties.  I had done this more times than I care to count, but I had not actually done it well, which is a very different matter.  I remember post-grad papering a large kitchen, and two full baths one week-end while smoking Dunhill cigarettes with my own childhood nanny.  She kept me company telling funny stories of when I was a little girl.    It isn’t all that hard, you wet the paper, and then slide it around on the wall until it matches up with the tea kettles or whatnot, then you cut it at both ends with an X-Acto knife.  If you run out of paper you just run back to the store and buy some more.

My first clue should have been that you can’t buy wallpaper supplies, nor the paper in stores anymore.  The brush needed to smooth out the bubbles can no longer be purchased, and a roll of paper towels is a poor substitute.  Hanging wallpaper from Home Depot is not the same as hanging wallpaper that has been hand screened and took 2 months to arrive from France.

It was also almost impossible to line up the birds and their tails.  The paper had an unpredictable repeat pattern based on ceiling heights in Europe and I was doing an American 1/2 wall.  Seven hours into it, I realized my mistake, that there are times when our optimism works against us, this is also true in life.  However, I persevered, and by midnight the birds began to surrounded me, imperfectly, but better than could be expected.

Sitting there at 1:30 a.m. with four complete walls of blue birds is not unlike the clear view from the mountain top on a very cold day, or watching the sunset on the beach in Sagres, Portugal.  It was irresistible.





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