Sunday, June 5, 2016

For the love of lath

A few years ago when I was making the six week, daily trip to the hospital for radiation, I found out about a house in Cleveland Heights that was scheduled for the wrecker's ball in few days. The builder, needed to gut the mansion in a short time and build a much larger house on that and the neighboring lot.

People don't have large families any-more (except us), so why they would need a house larger than 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, with marble sinks and claw-foot tubs, a dumb-waiter, several formal rooms and a library, an oak paneled office, crystal chandeliers, a sweeping 3 story staircase and balcony, a mammoth kitchen with a butler's pantry, and wrap around sitting porches, was foreign to me. [In defense of the builder; he contacted several architectural salvage places who wanted him to pay for the removal of items that they in turn would sell for profit (?)]

I had only an afternoon in 87 degree temperature to salvage as much as I could, get it down 3 flights of stairs and into my van. While limping. From a meniscus tear. If I had a good video camera the scene could have made a great Survivor audition tape.

[Cleaned wood lath photo-borrowed from the internet. For my purposes, I clean as I go]

Among the items I salvaged were about a hundred board feet of wide, yellow pine baseboard and door trim, oak paneling, leaded windows, old brass hardware, hand built cabinets, curving handrails, and a mother-lode of plaster lath boards. People that are on game shows like Supermarket Grab would certainly question my strategy in choosing the items I did. I could almost hear ghost voices screaming, "head for the meat aisle". But I was only one, tired, charred, overheated woman, sans the proper tools that would make this adventure profitable.

In the end, I used a razor-blade to cut a continuous bias roping out of an old t-shirt, and tied all the lath into a bundle and lowered it down the center opening of the staircase. Even though the stairs would be in splinters in two days, I would not be the one to mar them by rolling it down. I collapsed in my van seat and poured sun heated water over my head and shirt and turned on my air-conditioning praying for an hour's worth of freon.

My body was too wounded to return for a final run the next day. I had to savor
my one-day winnings, knowing that my booty would be used sparingly. That old discarded wood meant more to me than a drawer full of sparkly things or shiny new wheels. I was in Wood Heaven.


Some of my recent projects: A gift, on a rainy day, from a sister of a friend of a friend. 

A little paint, some sanding, foam padding and some herringbone tweed fabric...

(awful lighting)

Now, two of the most comfortable seats in the house.


This almost Jacobean table was part of the rainy day plunder. I came home with beds and tables and chairs and so much more. It felt as though I were swimming in chocolate and my mouth was already full. But, when there's chocolate.... take it and eat; and like a squirrel, store the rest for later. This table has since taken up residence at niece Meredith's house. 


This is about the 6th table I've redone with this symmetry. I hesitated to buy it although it is specifically what I went to the Craigslist ad house for. There were toddlers in saggy diapers and I hoped that the funds would go for some replacements.

[Let me just say right here that the spell check program I am using contradicts my every other word choice. It wants me to spell neighbor as neighbour, savor as savour, color as colour. I fully expected it to encourage the use of nappies instead of diapers which it did not recognize at all. Perhaps it is the Canadian version.]

What a difference, the top photo was taken with a camera.  [note that is not just regular dust on the floor, but sawdust!] In the crummy cell phone photo, the dust barely shows but focus, tone and resolution are non-existent.

I love the blending of colors to get the right ageing effect. 



This wishing well is in process. I don't know what to do with it. It would be useful for a wedding or event, but seems over-large as to occupy a spot on a gift table. Even with the added wood lath, it is not improved.


No before photo. Just know it was peeling dark wood and missing wood trim. It is gussied up and awaiting a kids bedroom.


This tiny table has no before shot either. It just begged to come home with me, was light enough to carry, and forgiving of every color I added.


Which brings me to more lath. This piece was missing the glass top, so I cut some Habitat wood and bolstered the bottom, then sanded, painted and poly'd painted lath boards to make it the perfect accoutrement to a beach themed room.

I know. Too much. But you have to go where your heart is.


Update on our tiny niece Josie, who was born 3 years ago this August weighing 1# 9oz., and 8.5" long. Holding her here is brother, Luke.

And, NOW, Miss Josie is the rugged, poster girl for a healthy child. We are shouting out and celebrating all of our answered prayers! Josie is Meredith's niece.


I've loaded up on books on tape from the library. My saws are sharpened and batteries plugged in. Tomorrow starts my marathon "get back on the horse" mode. See you next week.

As ever,
La Verne

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Blessings out the wazoo

This past year has been pretty eventful-families moving back home, 4 babies were born, new careers started and others in limbo, and 2 off to college. The only place I've blogged is in my mind. It is finally time to plant some words and paste some pictures of where we've been and where we're headed.

The most joyous revelation has been the addition of our little peeps. A year ago Little Master Zayden entered the picture with his blue, blue eyes. 

Miss Lucy followed with blue eyes and dimples.

Then, the Presidential family added a Brown-eyed-girl, Miss McKinley.

This Mother's Day, 6 weeks early, Miss Lauren Grace appeared. When she opens her eyes we'll know which camp she's in. 

I was never a star-mathlete, but in the last 5 years we've upped our grandchildren number by 10. Not 10 in all, 10 more. All are treasured and welcomed.  I think for a while, we are going to rest on our Laurens!


A few days after Christmas, our good friend and Lucy's Grandpa John, left us suddenly to join her other Grandpa Howard on Grandchild-Skywatch duty. He is missed here terribly. 


Our Tommy just finished his first year in Ohio at the company store of education, Tri C, where all of us started our college. Thank God for community colleges everywhere that allow us to get our feet wet in higher learning and not break the bank.

Liam just prom-ed with Gina, and in a few months is off to Ashland University with a soccer scholarship. I still remember his October game where it snowed buckets (hopeandsalvage And the boys played on)

All of the other grandkids are excelling in their school-work and sport interests. Will show them in their spotlight as events occur.

Had to include this photo of Miss Kate, who in honor of her new cousin, dressed as President McKinley for a class narration. Those aren't woolybear caterpillars, they are yarn eyebrows.


[Disclosure: All of these photos are STOLEN from relatives cameras and FB posts. My newish non-flip phone takes crappy pictures (sorry, K&C) and I don't have a hook-up to download from Bethy's old camera, so have to use what is available/purloined]

Amidst the move-ins and move-outs I have done some furniture repurposing. I don't get how the dictionary does not recognize "repurposing" as a word yet. Here are a few samples....

My youngest son LOVES Volkswagens. LOVES....loves. I was given two of these side tables and turned one of them into a brand name night stand. A little detail with tape and a paintbrush produced this result.


My friend Ken found this little carved mirror on a curb and passed it on to me. It now looks like this. This photo was taken by my cell phone and I told you the resolution was crappy. The best camera I ever had was a Samsung so when I chose a phone I thought it would have the same resolution. BUT nooooo.


Initially looking at this Ken-find bench one would question..."Okay, dump or backyard potting bench?"

After a little TLC it found its way to my kitchen. You just have to remember NOT to sit on the edge. It has a teeter-totter effect.


My friend Mike discovered this piece in a hoarder's house. The top door was warped it had a musty smell to it. I first gave it a Clorox shower with a scrub brush and then sanded and cinnamonized the drawers. A coat of poly finished off the interior. I exposed some of the hidden color for a more industrial look.

Note: Before I hear from all the watchdogs out there who say "You already posted this a few months ago," I answer, "So what, I'm old and I like it."


My friend Bob discovered this buffet along with a matching ornate dining table, on the curb of a house where he went to service a refrigerator. If anyone is looking for a truly magnificent matching duo, contact me and I will perform some magic on them.


This is my brother Brian. In several states he is known as Byron. That is his birth name, and that is what I have always called him. Oh, and Uncle B, Uncle Bonneran, (not Uncle Buck). He is my 10 year younger. When a person is described as generous and would give you the shirt off their backs-this is a person that would give you his entire outfit AND pocket money to buy new underwear. He might ask that you find him a fig leaf until he gets himself a blanket though. His birthday is May 27th. He will be.....I'm not telling you that-then you will know how old I am. Have a great day B. [When he fishes, he even gives them back their life.]

It feels good to be back. Pray for the young ones having trouble finding their way. Too many funerals in the past week.

As ever,
La Verne

Friday, September 25, 2015

Life on a tilt

Does the dust ever quit? Sawdust I mean. It's everywhere. My sister just parted with my dad's old industrial finish sander. It's the same one I used on her beach dining room table last year. It sands in less than half the time, and creates twice the dust. I can only use it every other day as it is so heavy my hands need a day to recover from lifting it.

This past Christmas I handcrafted these little sailboat ornaments in lieu of actual presents. Most everyone I know is aware that bucks are always in short supply here and scrap wood and creative ideas are plentiful. Each one had the name of the recipient painted on the stern and their birth date on the sail.

I wish I would have taken a money shot of a finished one, but this is all I've got.


Friend Bob surprised his son Jake with this headboard I painted with the Union Jack for him.

This was a heavy dark pine headboard from the '70's that fellow artist Ken gave me.

As an afterthought I stenciled and hand painted a Def Leppard sign to go above his bed as he is a FAN.


I needed more dressers when the relatives moved in so pulled this paint storage chest in from the coat room. It was a ReStore buy for $15.00.

G'daughter Rachel chose the colors and helped me paint this colorful piece. It now lodges in her bedroom full of Arizona clothes. Wait til we get a real temperature drop and some folks are going to have to go clothes shopping.

I love this dresser. I had planned to do something outrageous with it but no time. Rachel decided there were too many scratches on the top, so.....

Downstairs it came for a re-do. This only shows the subtle difference, but that same girl stripped this piece and restored it. By herself. 


When I got this little chair with the broken caning I thought if I watched enough You Tube videos I could bring it back to life and pick up another life skill. Truth is getting shorter and there is not enough time to learn that many new things.

I rebuilt the seat with wood and padded it. Tune in next week to see how I distressed and upholstered it.


Kat's brother Mike found this vintage green cabinet in a hoarder's house that he was restoring and asked if I could refurbish it. No problem. It ended up looking better but still had no personality.

I removed all the hardware and wire-brushed it, planed the bottom of the door and mostly stripped the drawer fronts. Now it looks like this.....

I sanded down until I exposed a deep green and some of the old pine, but leaving some of the chippy-ness of the sage color.


This desk was another $15.00 find at ReStore. I cleaned, painted, and stenciled it for a new look.  One of the teenagers took it over. Yes, sawdust on the top.


Mike gave me this old oak dresser that was left behind in another house he was working on. I refinished the top and drawer fronts and painted the rest of it a dark linen color that was a combination of Oop's colors. There were not enough matching handles so I went through my stash and miss-matched for an eclectic look.


This next one was a fun piece. If you remember last year I took apart a curb-find oak dresser and was going to use it for firewood but my daughter stopped me.

 I cut the top off the dresser and it became the new vanity for Craigslist friend Gina. We headed down to ReStore and found these old radiator parts and I fashioned them into THIS. I got some angle iron from HD and added a lower shelf of old pine flooring.

Gina's dad mounted a vessel sink on top for an industrial look. Here are a couple of finished pics.

I hope she is enjoying her mega sweet new bathroom.


Lastly, this little ragged piece was begging to return to whatever decade it dropped in from.

Alas, Tommy needed a hanging cabinet to keep his manscaping equipment in so I re-fashioned it. I cut off the top and bottom and snagged a bamboo side to use as a top for it. I still hope to add some black pipe with elbows underneath for a towel hanger. Thanks Ken for the many surprises you always send my way.

My most favorite and dreaded amusement park ride as a kid was the Tilt-a-Whirl. I was thrilled at the prospect of riding on it, yet wanted to throw up at the same time.  It gave me a headache and threw me off kilter. Such is my world at present; exciting yet roaring out of control. If only I had a corn dog.

As ever,
La Verne

PS I still have a plethora of projects that I worked on (on my year away). Now that I have a computer resource in residence I should get back to a regular schedule of posting. You know I'm kidding, there is no regular about me.