Janet Combs

Janet Combs

Nature is unrelenting in its assault on coastal structures. Rain frequently comes at us sideways in the South, seeping in the slimmest of apertures to weaken our wooden siding. The wind follows up by grabbing hold of any protruding splinter from a fissure and ripping it off, further eroding the exterior. On sunny days, the high humidity and salt air don’t improve matters at all, causing everything to remain damp and swell. The weather pattern repeats, deteriorating and degrading your entire home’s façade unless you have learned and mastered, young grasshopper, the power of…

Caulk.

I’ve been doing some exterior caulking and it’s a magical thing. Caulk fills in the cracks and blends with the siding, and my freakishly long fingers—which never quite lived up to their potential on the piano keys—are killing it in the caulking department. I think this is the first project on which I’ve worked side-by-side with my husband and received unsolicited compliments.

“That looks great,” he announced yesterday, as I crouched to fill a large seam between the siding and deck boards.

I turned and glanced behind me, assuming he was talking to someone else.

Naturally, I have more to learn, but I am comfortable enough with the caulking process to do it on my own, without supervision. I’m so glowingly confident, I might do a tutorial on YouTube with this engaging narration!

STEP ONE: Firmly and consistently squeeze the trigger on the caulking gun while moving the tip smoothly along the area that needs filling. STEP TWO: Put the gun down, and wet your index finger to pass it along the seam to remove excess caulk. OH DANG, DO THIS BEFORE STEP TWO: Press down hard on this sharpish metal tab on the caulking gun that releases the pressure and shuts the trigger off, otherwise you will have caulk spiraling out the tip of the tube into a huge wasteful wad wherever you happened to set the gun down, making a holy mess you’ll have to clean up quickly but not before STEP FOUR: Complete the final, gentle pass over your seam with the same finger wrapped in a damp piece of old tee-shirt, then move on to the next area that needs attention.

Kind of like bread dough, caulking can be overworked—you have to know when to leave well enough alone. You also have to know when to stop because it’s easy to get carried away, sealing miniscule cracks until nightfall. Caulking is a particularly addicting home improvement job because it provides instant, satisfying results.

Which brings me to the philosophical portion of this column, wherein I relate some of the marginally insightful things that occur to me while caulking.

Life is relentlessly harsh on people, throwing difficult individuals into our families or workplaces and frequently piling aggravating situations upon us, such as sudden loss, illness or financial distress. As a result, we all have cracks in our facades—and you can easily spot the folks who have given up and are rapidly falling apart as they continue to face the rigors of living.

But Planet Janet Personal Caulk can prevent this devastating personal erosion! Available to readers of this column today only, absolutely free, you can smear it all over yourself or others on an as-needed basis.

Planet Janet Personal Caulk comes in many forms: a sincere compliment, a loan of your vehicle, a thank-you or sympathy card, an hour of your time helping someone, a hot meal, a good night’s sleep, an uplifting book or film, a walk on the beach, a quiet moment spent holding someone’s hands.

Each application of Planet Janet Personal Caulk has lasting effects—just the memory of the balm provides a boost for months afterward to the self or individual in need of sealing against life’s severest elements. So, keep a supply in the trunk of your car, your wallet, or your desk drawer. I guarantee you’ll weather longer, and better.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Her column is published regularly in the Georgetown Times. Contact her at https://janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.