Monday, December 31, 2012

I decided to make an NYRL for 2013

Usually, I don't get caught up in this sort of thing, but all/most of the blogs I follow, people are producing amazing, well thought out lists of changes they hope to make in the new year.  I may fail at most of the items on the list, but one, I will succeed at if all the others are bust.  It's the old "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" business.  Learning late, but learning.

New Year's Resolutions List

  1. Eat Healthy-drink tea without sugar (I shouldn't have started off with a loser!)
  2. Have more life balance, ie. do something FUN.
  3. Finish things I start. (UGHHH someone please chain me to my tasks).
  4. Do Nothing.
  5. Take a course. Learn something new. (Last year, it was wood working and have yet to assemble the table I made.  See #3)
  6. Volunteer.  Anywhere.  Lots of places in need. (Maybe prison ministry or back to hospice).
  7. Say and write thank you's.
  8. Make an organization chart.  Jobs I hate I will work on only 15 minutes a day. (Got that from my friend, Sue, the list maker).
  9. Live the Serenity Prayer.
  10. Find something joyful or funny or something new to be grateful for every day.
  11. Listen to more books on tape.
  12. SING.
  13. If you come in contact with someone _____________, tell them you are praying for them.
This is the best list I ever made.

As ever,
La Verne

PS The bell ringing at midnight will be me!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Busy sawing, painting and sewing....

Nothing finished to show you yet, so thought I would share some recent past projects with you.  This was a sewing machine table, circa 1930's (maybe 40's). The electronics were not anything that jives with current
day electricity. [BEFORE]

This is the AFTER look.  This piece has found a new home.  I was very pleased with the results.  


The little people's table here, had roughly SEVEN different colors of paint on it when I found it. Really odd colors, and time consuming to remove.

Now it looks like this, and is Emilia's new place to eat and play.


Below are some of the pulleys I got from my friend David's barn. I wish I would have taken a before photo. A recipe I found in one of the blogs I follow, made them turn out awesome.  It is equal parts vinegar, turpentine and linseed oil. If you only need a little, mix it in small container, or ask me for some.  When you shake the jar, it looks like 'melted butter'.  The smell takes me back to being in a hardware store with my dad as a kid in northern Minnesota.  Nothing like it.  The mixture really soaks into the wood and preserves it.  The sheen is rich and warm.


These next little bags are actually sleeves from old tee shirts.  Letters are cut off other tees and stitched on in a personalized fashion.  They are great for stashing your cell phone and cash while at the beach.  They make good on-the-go make-up bags, first aid kits, or car treat bags. The cording is made from stretched strips of tee shirting.  Fast, easy, recycled.  I'm working on 20 of them for an event on Thursday.

This particular bag I made for a man I met at Metro, when I had a series of appointments. Harry never spoke much, just clutched his paper bag lunch to his chest and kept his eyes down.  I left this bag with the nurse to hand to him next time he came in.  Later, she told me that he was so excited about it that he smiled and showed it to everyone he met.  Just a small gesture.....


I'm half-heartedly working on a list of goals for 2013.  I didn't do very well with my 2012 list. In fact, I don't
recall doing one thing on it. In retrospect, it was serendipity-going out looking for something that you think you want, and finding something far greater in the long run.  I wish for all of you out there-a serendipitous 2013!

As ever,
La Verne

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Family Heritage Flag Project

A couple months ago, I set out to make a 4'x8' American flag out of free wood I picked up on Craigslist and planned to mount on the fence next to the playhouse; which the kids were refurbishing. Howard originally built the playhouse in 1972, when one day after attending the Home and Flower show and seeing a tree house, we dreamed that would be a great thing to have for the kids, but on the ground, so they wouldn't get hurt in a fall.  I took that as permission, and the next day drew up a design and went to Cashway Lumber in search of supplies.  Howard spied the wood pile as he got home from work and asked what it was for?  I said, "Remember how we talked about what a great idea it would be to have a tree house minus the height for the kids?  Well here it is.  These are the plans.  Be careful. I'll see you when I get off work." And off I went to my restaurant job. Many hours later, I returned, the kids were in bed and Howard was still in the backyard working under lights putting together the frame of the heavy duty playhouse, that remains today despite being moved several times. [that is another day's story]  Here is the look of it from my cellphone on a non-snowy day.

The long of it is that I didn't make the US flag because I have a short attention span, and to make 50 identical stars already had me yawning and thinking, "we could do without Alaska, and who ever even goes to Arkansas unless it's a storm chaser and there is a tornado coming."  The more states I was eliminating in my mind, pretty soon all I had was the original 10 colonies.  [Just seeing if you were paying attention]  I knew I still wanted to make a flag, just not of that proportion.  Pretty soon sister, Cheryl, was talking about her farm in West By God, and how she wanted to make a "barn quilt" to hang on her out buildings.  The plan was launched.  I would make small wooden nationality flags for each of the grandchildren for Christmas, and their parents-as time permitted.  Well, as far as I they are!






Great Britain






Pennant of State of Ohio





As far as I know, we don't have Mexican ancestry, but sometimes, if your best friend is Dora, the Explorer, you adopt as needed (and as requested).

When I talk about short attention span, it is not entirely accurate.  The hours I spent working on these flags, uninterrupted (except to change the radio station if the Christmas music got a little stale) shows that I could never be diagnosed with ADHD. These flags were such a pleasure to create.  Some are made out of old plaster lath board, shipping crates, Habitat castoffs, street finds and beadboard. Most of the paints were donated by friends.  I said prayers for each of the kids as I made their flag.  Hopefully, they will treasure them in the years to come, as something made with love by their grandmother; grateful that their ancestors, adventured to a new world in search of a better future for their children.

Someday I will make the 4'x8' American flag and hang it on the fence next to the playhouse where it belongs.  I still may omit Alaska though.

Grateful that my family landed here,
La Verne
Family Heritage Flag Project (copyrighted)

Flags available by request

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have yourself a peaceful, little Christmas!

Many thanks to all our family, friends and neighbors, benefactors, and all who have helped us during this eventful year.  Continued blessings to you and yours.  Merry Christmas.

With love,
La Verne and crew

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Often cops get a bad rap for doing their jobs.  And, for not doing their jobs. Could we live without them?  They take on the messy work that we hope to avoid; telling the neighbor to muzzle their dog that is still outside barking at squirrels at 2 AM, stopping the speeder who recklessly almost hit your child riding his bike in front of your house, hunkering down in SWAT mode outside a house where ill or malevolent people have taken their family hostage...and on, and on.

I am privileged to know some GREAT cops, some related, and some, friends enough to be so. I found this example of a police chief on line and wanted to share it.  It is how we envision our police force to be.


Also, as it is the time to evaluate our gratitude for God's special blessings, I am ever thankful for my sons who served and still serve in the military to keep our country safe. Thank you Andrew and Neil.



The Heritage Family Flag Project on December 26.  Here is a preview:

Be back soon.....

As ever,
La Verne

Monday, December 17, 2012

Just the right time to hug babies

We had a mega busy weekend with the soap making party and an all day cookie bake. Plenty of kids underfoot, waaaaaay too many cooks for some kitchens, but not nearly enough for ours.  On cookie day, we  never bake less than a thousand cookies and often times into the several k's. The fun thing about grandma's house are the two staircases, the costume closet, and the unlimited hiding places in this nearly 200 year old house. The rocking horses, rocking airplanes, rocking cars, matchbox, army, racing and any other type of cars make difficult walking for the older folks trying to shuttle trays from the ovens to the cooling counters.  Every year we say we are going to have some tables reserved for just decorating with frosting, and every year it is catch as catch can. This was the perfect year to grab hold of any of the 4 babies under 18 months and just hug. No TV's were running in the background.  No movies-just family time.  No drama-except for the grade school and tweens acting out the latest talent show and theatre production. My favorite time of the year. I ate one cookie. Truly.

Some of the bakers at the start-before the mess!

Four Kitchen Aids and a Hamilton Beach

Underage driver

Some of the theatre troupe



Soap making on Friday night was more of a gab session and a melt and pour, rather than a cold process, which requires more time.  We used some home made molds which worked out quite well and some store bought ones.  We added lavender and calendula, essential oils and colors.  Already we are planning a longer session in January. Here is a little look at what was leftover.  Who knew yogurt cups, drink boxes and pop bottles would have such a professional look.


I got this toilet paper flower in the mail the other day from someone very dear to my heart.  It is the most beautiful and meaningful posey that I ever received.

I think I'm back now-recovered from all the anniversaries, and world events. When in doubt-do the next right thing.

As ever, La Verne

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Dear Howard,

Almost made it to the cemetery today.  Instead, the girls came over and helped me clean and decorate for the soap party on Friday. I may stop out on Sunday-you are with me always anyway.

I remember the night I first met you, Thanksgiving night, you came across the hall to borrow ice. A likely excuse-was it equivalent to borrowing sugar?  You had the kindest eyes. Welcoming. I was smitten. It was a good life.  You would be so absolutely proud of our kids. They are fun-loving and kind and generous and smart.  And good parents.  I like the people they chose to marry. We miss you, (especially when a pipe breaks or a gas line goes).  Alisa took a chain saw to an errant Christmas tree in her living room the other day and cried, "Where's my dad?"  You will always be the hole in our hearts.

Another Thanksgiving night stands out in my mind.  Your last.  I came in that night after I took the kids home from the hospital and was chattering about everything the kids were up to.  I told you how I was going to break you out of that place-rent a crane, swing your bed down and whisk you home.  You chuckled.  Then I asked you what you did in there all day long.  I didn't expect you to answer-you had been intubated so many times. You said, "I think about you all the time."  Those are the words I carry with me every day in everything I do. It makes all I struggle with, make sense.

So, if you asked me what I've been doing all these many years since you've been gone.... I'd have to answer,
"I think about you all the time."

Love, La Verne

...last driver's license picture

Visit from some of the troops


Telephone Bench:

I finally finished the telephone bench tonight (from my scout, Ken). Here is a before picture so you can get the real scope of it.  No one probably uses a telephone bench any longer now that there are few land-line phones in homes.  It was a beautiful mahogany wood, but had horribly mismatched fabrics.  I wanted to keep the red undertones and shopped for a warm paisley fabric to bring it out. I finished the back also so it can be used as a room divider. It is done in Glidden Dark Olive with Red Sienna Glaze.  Dimensions are 30"w x 33"h x 19"d. Thanks to Bethy for taking these.

Paisley Upholstered Telephone Bench is no longer available.


Just a glimpse of our little Christmas Tree. It came from Salvation Army a few years back for $10.00 and was pre-lit.  The Nativity, my brother Byron built for me two years ago, out of hundred year old wood from David's barn.  I love that he worked with Paddy to create it.  Many years ago that was a skill that my father had, making a Christmas Creche for every family according to their house style. The blue spruce boughs are courtesy of Alisa's chainsaw, by way of Hurricane Sandy. God Bless Everyone this 12-12-12.

Angels on your pillow,
La Verne 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Tina!

My bonus daughter Tina has a birthday today in San Bernardino.  Hope you had a grand day.  Here is a picture with her family and Neil in March. A happy group. I wish we could sit on our grass in March!


As ever, but with a bad headache,
La Verne

Sunday, December 9, 2012

If chairs could talk

Alisa's friend, Cyndi, asked me to find and refinish some dining room chairs for her in a white, shabby chic finish, with blueish, greyish and black undertones.She chose a subtle, slate blue matelasse fabric. I also recovered an ornate bedroom chair. Sort of.  The 4 dining room chairs went easily enough, other than cutting new under boards for two of them. It was the ornate chair that got interesting.  It seemed like there wasn't much padding, and as I got all the tacks out, I realized there was another layer of fabric. And another. And another.  And another. And another!  All tacked individually. The six totally different fabrics seemed to tell the history of the piece.  The top layer was a slate blue tweedy corded piece, that wasn't in bad shape, but could use some freshening, and if I had enough out of the fabric measured for the 4 chairs, had planned to recover it too.  For sure, it needed some foam and I sprinkled some lavender between the layers to give it a waft of French countryside. In order, the layers were: a pink floral pillow case, army fatigues, emerald quilted shantung, a merlot and teal geometric, and a green matelasse. So many personalities for one phenomenal chair.  Unfortunately, there was not enough of the new fabric, so the tweed went into the washing machine and the dryer and came out like new. See photo.  Can you tell the difference? I enjoyed working on them. Thanks Cyndi! If you find more of the new fabric, I'll replace the tweed for you, if you load the staple gun.


This afternoon I saw the flutter of angel wings.  Several, but one stayed in character the whole tableau.  Granddaughter, Kennedy, couldn't have been more proud wearing her angel dress made by both grandmas and mom. In a former life it may have been a Judo uniform. All she would have needed was a little pixie dust, and she would have been aloft.  The program had all the elements of good theatre.  It was short, funny, dear, nicely choreographed, and I saw only smiling faces and photo flashes.

Other angels, Claire and Gabrielle accompanied me, then helped me move furniture, wood, and paint.  I have the best grandkids.  Truly.


There are several new pieces that will be posted in the next few days.  Each item needs ONE thing to finish.

As ever,
La Verne

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Remembering Mama

Eleven years ago today my mother died.  I was with her. Many medical people were also, trying to force tubes down her throat to prolong her life. The desk attendant had Therese on the phone trying to determine if those were her wishes, as she had gone in for an outpatient procedure days before to have a hernia repair that turned into pneumonia, and the DNR papers that normally accompanied her were no where to be found.  I had gotten home from work that day and listened to a voice message from T and grabbed clothes and Paddy and left for Maryland immediately.  We went straight to the hospital and, Mom said that now that La Verne was here, Cheryl and Therese could leave. In retrospect, it reminded me of Jesus in the Temple, her dismissing of them, because she had to be about her Father's business. She knew that when it came to letting go, as I had with Howard, I would be able to cry, pray and send her to heaven, to join my dad.

During the night, her breathing changed, slower, long gaps, very dry throat, all the indicators that I had known from working in hospice, that signaled the end was near.  To be sure, I asked if she wanted some water? "Just wet my tongue."  "What if we pray, Mom?"  Nodding.  I'm not sure what my words were, asking for strength to heal, something like that.  "Pray the other way."  Those were my marching orders.  I then asked my father to welcome my mother into paradise. I kissed her good-bye, soon knowing that it would be the last time she knew it was me.  I told her I was sorry for all the times I failed her, and that I loved her as did all her children. She was leaving.  Her demeanor changed-more peaceful-no struggling to breathe.  Content. She was finished with her labor and soon she would see the fruits of it.

The fact that Mom died on St. Nicholas Day is no small thing.  A favorite family tradition was leaving our shoes out the night before to see what St. Nick would bring. And, they were polished. To this day, it is probably the only day I polish my shoes.

You are still the voice in my head when it comes to frugal or practical or traditional matters.  I miss you. I love you.

La Verne

Fay Loyola Aylward Rundquist
February 16, 1918 - December 6, 2001 (St. Nicholas Day)