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Manual labor and cookies

Mercury conjoined Pluto today, and together they squared my natal Mars in Virgo. Doesn’t that sound dreadful? But it wasn’t; rather, I tackled an epic scraping-and-painting renovation project I’ve been putting off forever. How’s that for Mercury/Virgo (dexterity and detail), Mars/Pluto (hard work, bringing something back to its bare essence)?

The backstory: A few years ago, we bought two old kitchen cabinets from an architectural salvage store, planning to convert them to built-in bookshelves to flank our living room fireplace. Unfortunately, they were covered with layers and layers of vile paint, and we got sidetracked by renovation torture; so our cabinets spent a couple of years cluttering up the garage before, finally, we tackled them. We stripped them, Jonny cut them down to fit under the windows, and we painted and installed them. Gorgeous. Perfect. Except… somehow, we never got around to finishing one set of doors, so for the past couple of years or so the bookcases have had a weird, lopsided look.

But today, galvanized by a party/house concert we’re having here next weekend, I tackled those suckers. Out came the sawhorses, the silent paint remover ( a kind of infrared heating gadget we saw on This Old House that actually works like a charm), the scraper, the primer, the paint brush. For about four hours I meditatively scraped away out on the patio, absentmindedly listening to (the annoying) Rachel Ray on the Food Network, (the sublime) Terry Gross on NPR, (the ridiculously overplayed) “Love Actually” on HBO. And at the end of it all, the doors are all ready for a top coat tomorrow, ready to be installed in time for the party. Because Venus was sextiling my Mars as well, and because I felt so pleased with myself, I ended the afternoon by baking some celebratory chocolate chip cookies.

Martha Stewart’s in jail, folks. Someone’s gotta fill the void.