Painting your porch ceiling blue—it’s quite the southern thing to do. Some say the blue ceiling keeps bugs away. Years ago when milk paint was common, it likely did. Milk paint contains lye. Bugs hate lye—it’s a repellant. I learned this listening to NPR. It’s not like I know a single thing about milk paint other than nobody uses it anymore.
I like to think that bugs are less attracted to a blue ceiling as it might seem to the not-so-smart insect that ceiling = sky = no place for a bug to land. Off to the neighbor’s porch you go, bugs.
There’s a story behind blue ceilings. Coined in the low country of South Carolina, “Haint Blue” came about because shades of blue were thought to ward off evil spirits. Traditionally, the porch ceiling, window and door frames, and even the columns of a porch were painted blue to keep evil spirits from entering the house. I like a good story but this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. But since I have a rip-roaring imagination, I like to think that if I believed in such a thing I’d put a fence around my house and paint it haint blue.
Haint blue varies from aqua to cornflower to baby blue to darker shades of blue. Let’s be real. Anything goes regarding haint blue, which makes it my new favorite color. Personally, I’ve landed on a shade of blue and how I landed there is quite funny.
Here’s my account of this haint blue fiasco:
I meet Brad at the house with three shades of blue for the porch ceiling.
We paint a piece of beadboard with the three shades of blue. All the while we are being tormented by a neighboring dog who is barking his brains out—this is testing the good contractor’s nerves and I cannot work under these conditions so I say, “Let’s move to the front of the house.” We take the blue to the front porch, hold it up in the air and agree there is a clear winner: Mountain Air. Yes. Mountain Air. That’s the one. Our work here is done.
I leave Brad on the porch and waltz around to the side, satisfied with a decision made. I am packing it up and just as I pick up the second sample the bottom falls out—literally.
A: OMG. (I say OMG aloud to myself and that yapping dog because we are the only two who know this has happened.) I am totally stunned. Sort of like the time I fell in the air vent except I’m not bleeding and this will not require stitches. Immediately I think, there is no way I can clean this up before he comes around the corner. No way. And really, how does one go about cleaning this up?
A: Brad… My tone is not quite let’s-go-to-urgent-care but it is not my hey-brad-what’s-up tone either.
Rounding the corner at his usual quick pace, I watch him as he sees me and the mess. I liken it to watching someone who drives past a wreck and sees more damage than they expect. It was funny. I’m standing there with 85% of the paint at my feet, 10% percent on my clothing and at least 5% on my face, which made it into my hair.
B: How did you do that?
Good question, b. My guess is he was curious as to how I pulled this off because there was paint on both the ground and my face. I mean, look at the picture. Puddle of paint on the ground, stripe of paint across my face—”how did you do that” is the only question to ask.
A: I can’t believe this happened.
And I am still thinking, No way. The paint just jumped on me.
B: What did you do?
He is trying not to laugh in my face. But he is laughing. And, I start to laugh in my own face because this is the funniest thing that’s happened yet.
A: Brad. I picked up the paint. The lid wasn’t closed. The paint fell down and I swear some of it jumped up and hit me in the face when the can hit the ground.
Paint runs down my neck and drips from my chin onto my sweater. Not exaggerating. My hair mats to the paint. I air dry.
On the bright side, I suppose that big glob of paint will keep the evil spirits off my driveway.