Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two of a kind

I've had two curio cabinets in my 'studio' awaiting a final decision on color for a few weeks now. One was missing the front glass due to breakage in a move. At first Kathleen was leaning toward a 'greyish charcoal', but my procrastination on not jumping on the first color selection, lead to a S U R P R I S E choice. 

Here is a before of the glassed front cabinet...

...and the glass-less one.

When I don't know what to say, I say, "YOWZA". I would ordinarily think of this as an accent color and not a room anchoring shade, but the client was 'un-convincable' otherwise. This was to be the color! If you write to me and ask, I will tell you what paint company produced this product and its color name.

Heavy distressing and glazing toned down the shade considerably, and she seemed happy with the result. I'm not as sure as I used to be about a person's true reaction, or whether some folks are just good actors. I told her I would repaint if she changed her mind.

A couple of views of the top portion. 

Perhaps once the glass shelves are in and filled with 'curios' it will not be such a landslide of deep pink.

I spruced up the hardware with some steel wool, enough to give it some sheen.

I no longer have a full house, as these two of kind went home Thanksgiving morning.


This has been on the ground for the past week, although neighboring cities had none. There are many things for which I am grateful, and this week, in calling them to mind, I came across a prayer that I wrote for a friend who was in a bad way many years back....

"Thank  you, God, for this warm, comfortable and safe bed, where I can lay my head, and my worries at your feet. I thank you for a strong body and a good mind, steady work and the ability to always land on my feet. Thank you for my children; help them find their way, and be creative and loving and grateful for all they have. And, if they ever are wanting, the courage and humility to find it.  Give me a night of peaceful sleep, and when I wake, a new vision for my future. Take away the gloom that clouds my way and make me thankful for each person that enters my life, either to learn from, or to teach. Help me to start simply in your shadow, and let me feel the rays of hope and a renewed spirit. Amen. Happy will come..."

As ever,
La Verne

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary Hope & Salvage

One year ago today, my son Peter, set up this blog so I could showcase my furniture refinishing talents, and journal not exactly "how to's", but "how I did's" along the way.  In these 12 months I have tested myself way beyond my comfort zone and honed some long dormant skills. This is my 116th post and my website has had 11,260 hits. That alone is mind jarring. I have not sought any sponsors, nor product endorsements.  I haven't twittered or facebooked or etsy'ed my wares.  My followers have been through word of mouth, comments left on other blogs, and all or most of my friends and family. I thank you all.

There are many people responsible for my making it this far and I will try and do justice to remembering them all.  Thank you's first to my kids, Neil and Brigitte, Alisa, Ryan and Meg, Bethany and Larry, Andrew and Jen, Pete and Angie, and Paddy. Plus, all the kid-lings who helped me paint, sand, snag furniture, carry wood, and other miscellaneous jobs. Lynn and Tom and sons, Dan and Tom, who had faith in my talents and were the organizers of my work-spaces, and engineered its existence. And, so much more. The others cross over into many categories of clients, suppliers of furniture, paint, tools, food, and more that would be impossible to itemize.  I hope I have not left anyone out, but please tell me if I have overlooked your name and I will edit to correct later. They are: David, Ed, Ken and Steve, Wally and Jill and Lil, Mike and Lucy and David, Pat T, Kathleen and Stevan, Pat K, Ann, Laura, Donna, The Garage Door Fairy, Lisa, Justin and Stacy, Tracy, Cyndi, Michelle R, Quinn, Jen S, Therese and Jack, Cheryl and Mike, Michelle, Larry and Marge, Bobby, Sue P, Matt and Stacy, Sue C, Aunt Kate, Scott, Gloria, Cheryl K, Karen, Michael, Ali, Melissa, and Drs. Friess, Trey, Stevenson, Greenwood, Magovich (and Shelia).

Again, I humbly thank for your great love and support.

As ever,
La Verne

Monday, November 18, 2013

a matter of life and death

Amid the gale winds, we returned to Cleveland last night, from an awesome weekend in Baltimore of welcoming Josie home from the hospital. Born at 1# 9 oz, 13 weeks ago, she is now a stalwart 5# 14 oz.

Here she is, asleep in the arms of her Grandma Joan. Perfectly angelic, and angelically perfect. A better specimen of God's undertaking and science's assistance there never was.  Her career right now is to sleep and grow, and I would bet money no infant is more compliant. She is without blemish, and beautiful is too common a word to describe her. Thank you, God, for her life and for answering our most heartfelt prayers.

One of the special gifts was a handmade Christening gown, lovingly made by Great Grandma La Verne (the OTHER La Verne-wickedly talented). It was constructed of her Grandma Therese's wedding gown. It has a matching petticoat, hat and booties.[Playing in the background is The Life of Josie video put together by Auntie Meredith (on screen) and our resident family tech, Pete] 

The gown has yet another chapter in its history, but that is a story for another day.

Viva La Josephine!


Yesterday morning, our longtime pastor, Father John Viall, went to heaven. I am sure of it. Bethany was one of the first babies he baptized when he came to St. Albert's 37 years ago. Although there were times I fought with him in my mind, he was a most generous and loving man. At a Christ Renews His Parish weekend, in November of 1976, I remember an exercise we had to do where we wrote our name on a sheet of paper that got passed around the table and each person wrote 2 adjectives that described us. Each of the team members were affirmed by the virtues attributed to us.  On mine, he wrote, "happy and hard working". I have tried to live up to that standard ever since.

The morning after Howard died, he came to our house, telling me that no further tuition was owed. Ever. Although Howard was not Catholic, Fr. Viall always pulled him into action, and he did all the plumbing at the church until he died.  I wanted to have a word with him before the funeral Mass to say, "Don't say anything that will make me break down in front of 500 people." I didn't get the chance and it wasn't necessary. At the homily, the baby was hungry so I headed to the back of church and nursed him. Fr. Viall talked about "this simple man who lived a life of joy just being himself. He offered that Howard, watching down, would say, "Is this all for me?" It was perfect. He held a wonderful repast at the church. Again. No bill. 

Once, in a time of no cell phones, my two oldest children got separated from each other while traveling as teenagers in Europe and I was frantic. One leg of the trip was to stay at his home in Ireland. I called him in the middle of the night asking for advice. He answered, "Who is this? La Verne? You're worried about Neil and Alisa? They're smart kids, they'll figure it out. Now go to sleep." Click!

The week his mother died, Lori (Dessoffy) Geyer and I went to him and asked if we could form a Children's Choir. I think the only question he asked was, "What do you need?" He got us a new piano (coincidentally on November 18th) and whatever music we asked for. Although space to practice was not plentiful, we were given an over-sized closet in the basement of the church for our noontime practices. Our roster was 44 kids.

There are many other events where he intervened in our family's lives, which has made all the difference to our betterment. A favorite homily of his was to strive to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect. I would think that is still his mantra, in heaven in audience with the perfect Father. We never thanked him enough. No one could. 

Rest well, Father John Leonard Viall. If I were to write adjectives next to your name now, they would have to be....Kind and Faithful Shepherd.

Here is Fr. Viall with our Andrew at his First Communion. [photo damaged in house fire]

As ever,
La Verne

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I have the blues

I love it when I can transform a piece of furniture from something that is one step away from a trip to the curb, to a focal point that anchors a room.

Ryan and Meg were hating their bedroom armoire that had been painted many times and had broken hinges from the kids hanging on the doors. A colorful painting in their room was the inspiration for the new color.

I had Lowe's aim their color detector on the bird's head and that was the determiner. A free magazine coupon in the sampler size was all it took. I did dilute it slightly.  Note the old hinges were sort of an 'H' shape and had pulled away so the doors would not close. I do love the deep brown as a base for the new shade. When sanding and distressing, that shortcuts the work to bring that hue through.

I layered a coat of General Finishes Basil Milk Paint, because I had it on hand and wanted another color to come through with the sanding.  

I (Ryan) took the doors off so that I could work on them at home. It was decided that I would do most of the work at their house as the piece is heavy, unwieldy and did heavy damage when it first arrived there.

As I painted the two coats, I did it in two different directions so as I sanded, there would be some interesting cross hatch.

I left the nicks in the wood instead of filling for some extra character.

It has sort of a Tuscan look. Sorry about the background. I left my drop cloths there until the poly was dry.

Ryan is painting the walls a grass cloth color this week. Will upgrade photos as they happen.

The rust tone planter really brings out the distressed brown.

Some advice: Study your hinges before you go to buy new ones. Decide whether you need straight or offset, especially if you are choosing a new design. Although the big box stores are close by, they have little selection. Van Dyke (online) has an awesome selection, but pricey, and have to pay shipping and wait.

This is just a quick post before it got away from me. I can't wait to see the room finished.


Thanks to all the soldiers for their service to the US on this Veteran's Day. I count among them: my father, uncles, brother, brothers-in-law, sons, cousins, nephews and friends. God Bless You.

As ever,
La Verne


Monday, November 4, 2013

Turn on your heart light

I have to tell you about Kat and Stevan's IVF fundraiser yesterday, but first you need to know some background (the heart) of the neighborhood in which our kids grew up and most families still live.

Many years ago at this time of year, my husband Howard was in the hospital, recovering/dying, following heart surgery. The daily phone calls as to his status were wearing, so we had a neighborhood signal. The outdoor lights, our "heart lights" would be on, and if there were an untoward change, the lights would be turned off.

One day, before I left the hospital, I called my friend Cheri, and said I was heading home and could she drop off my 13 month old at the house. I would meet her there. I called another neighbor, Donna, and asked if she would be willing to take over my daughter's babysitting job, as I had to take the kids somewhere. As she arrived at the house in the afternoon, a time that a person would not recognize the color of outdoor lights, she looked at me, looked at the vacant lights and then back at me. I couldn't speak. I just nodded. Her chest sunk. By then, the kids were off the bus and loading into the car. "Mom, are we going to the hospital?" "No, we have to make a couple of stops."  I drove around, not knowing where I was heading, just that children should not be told that their father has died, while they are sitting on the couch in their living room. This would be an indelible memory.

I ended up at a bird sanctuary in the Metroparks where we liked to watch the tranquil scene of ducks feeding and leaves falling, but out of the way of our general pattern of traffic. I hadn't lectured the kids to bring jackets and they didn't. It was cold standing there, shivering on the dock, huddled in a circle hugging each other. Finally, "Why are we here? Are we going to the hospital?" "There is no need....."

Heartlight is a Neil Diamond song, that debuted in the film ET. I never saw it, but it leads my list of movies on order at the library. The tune rings in my head often though, when I'm afraid, anxious, or just unsure of a direction. It's like a comfort, knowing others will have your back.


Cheri and Donna and many friends, family and strangers were all there yesterday, at the fundraiser for one of our own. The 300 cupcakes went quickly.

And, they all had their "heart lights" on. Donna actually won the Union Jack table, which pleased me to no end. Kat and Stevan made great headway on their journey to become parents, and hopefully, in the next several months, good news will be forthcoming about the fruits of this event.

"Turn on your heart light, let it shine wherever you go. Turn on your heart light, now."

As ever,
La Verne, heart light specialist