Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And the winner is...

Practically all the online news services or newspapers are strangling viewers with the words, 2013 Year in Review. Not enough daily news that the old stuff has to be regurgitated? Who cares? Life is way too short for a read-over, unless it's Too Kill a Mockingbird, or the 10th reading of "How to install and lock-in the bench seat in a Grand Caravan." I'll have no year in review of my blog. Not the highlights, low-lights or hind-sights. I will however, dabble in what I think should be the 2014 Word/s of the Year for me.

The words in competition so far, are: Simple, Patience, Follow-through, Forgiveness, Heal, and Hope.

  • Let's get Patience out of the way first. I prayed for that at a Renewal once, and got a pie-in-the-face; from a priest! 
  • Forgiveness....another overrated virtue. The forgiver does all the work, and the forgiven goes about their business unknowing, and for sure uncaring that the event has taken place.
  • Simple is an excellent choice for uncomplicated folks, but for those of us whose brain is not even on hiatus while we sleep, it's like asking winter not to snow in your driveway. 
  • Follow-through, now there is a contender. Start a project-finish a project! Too predictable, and kind of a sing-song'y mantra. But, noble. 
  • That darn word, Heal, plants its face in my head every day, but, that requires collaboration from doctors, specifically anyone in the bone and joint-fixing spectrum. That's a not very likely.
  • Which leaves Hope.

These past two weeks I've been doing some thinking about Jesus and Lazarus, two guys who have had documentation on showing up back from the dead. I was close, but then you need people to certify that you actually were dead and came back, not that you just felt like you were dead. I must have been though, because no painting was done, no saws or drills fired up, no furniture carried in or out, and I never even checked to see that my drill batteries were plugged in. I did, however, cough-a-lot, sleep-a-lot, drink-a-lot, make fires, sit in front of a heater, stay in my jammies and hardly leave the house. It was wonderful and terrible. The wonderful part was that nobody bothered me. The terrible part was that nobody bothered me.

I humbly wish all of you a better year than last, but not so good that you don't look forward to the future. We have to keep remembering that for all our good fortune, this isn't heaven.

And the winner is...

La Verne

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Christmas Rose...

Alaina Rose. Born this wintry morning of the 17th, weighing in at 6# 15oz, at 6:16 AM. To keep the full house theme going, I am going to say she was 18" long! [Plus 2]

Here is mom, Jen at the Cookie Bake on Saturday, probably the last photo of Alaina incognito.

She is precious (my nose), brown hair, nice disposition, long fingers and close cropped ears. See for yourself. This isn't the official photo, just a good unwrapped version with the nurse.


Jake getting a first look at his sister, said, "Is that Baby Hayes?" That is his new baby cousin, and just reinforces the old adage that all babies look alike. [well, our babies kinda do]

A nice shot of  'Our Holy Family'.

Now who's the big kid?

After the long ordeal, Jen needs a major nap. What a trooper. Andrew too. Lovely children and all are healthy. Congrats!


I remember as a child in the Schola Cantorum at Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in St. Paul, Minnesota, singing a song we called, The Christmas Rose, better known as Gesu Bambino. I thought it fitting today in honor of our little Christmas Rose, Alaina.

As ever,
proud Mom and Grandma La Verne

Monday, December 16, 2013

Life's a Beach and then it snows

While shopping for my birthday bounty at the ReStore, I found a beat up coffee table, marked, "FREE". I snagged it and knew it would make a wonderful beach table. The candidate I had in mind for it was my niece, Mer, who lived and worked in Ocean City. Although a family crisis has caused her to move closer to family, her heart will always have a special place for the beach. Here is what her table looked like in April:

The glass was gone, the joints needed to be glued and tightened, and the only connection it had to the beach was that it was the color of sand..

The bottom shelf had sort of a bead board effect that would look good glazed.

The side detail would show up better once it had some color definition.

Easy transition to new life.

After it was painted in June, it was left to languish underfoot until last night.

Two coats of a watered down white gifted by my friend Lynn, and then some heavy sanding.

I cut some luan to fit and reinforced it from the bottom with screws, to give it a platform to affix the reclaimed lath and pallet boards.

I randomly cut boards and wedged them in place.

Mer is a blue person so that would be the predominant color.

I later added some greens and pale yellows to balance the blue.

If a piece of furniture spends any length of time in my workshop, it becomes a workhorse....bench...paint holder...clamping table, etc.

This weekend was the Cookie Bake, (more later on that) so Therese and Mer were in town. This morning, when the table left for Baltimore, it looked like this:

Mer's Beach Coffee Table.

During the night I would wake up and give it more coats of poly, and reinforced the bottom with wood cleats in case some little gremlins tried to cross the room without touching the floor.

Instead of Christmas in July, it was the beach at Christmas!

And Mer was very, very happy!


I will be posting tomorrow with some great news, so check back.

As ever, 
La Verne

Monday, December 9, 2013

Food For All

Tonight, I spent time with my granddaughter at her Parish School of Religion class. We traced our hands on green paper, cut them out and placed a red heart on which we had signed our name to the middle. They were then all attached to a classroom Advent Wreath. In bunches, the paper hands became the greenery encircling the four Advent candles. Afterward, we processed to church for a small service. Each was given a small prayer card and asked that wherever we are tomorrow at 12 noon, we were to recite the prayer in hopes of ending world hunger. Pope Francis and Caritas International are the starters of this "spiritual wave". It is only 7 sentences long, plus an AMEN.  I invite you to say this prayer at whatever your 'noon' might be. Ask a friend or co-worker to say it with you.

There is probably more of this campaign than I know, but a single prayer with a million echos, sounds like an awfully good start in the hope of ending world hunger. Hunger is something I have never known. Even in times when bills were behind, a job was out the door and no prospects in sight, there was always a meal. Tonight it is pretty cold in Northeast Ohio. Although it is 27 degrees, the winds are 25 miles an hour, and it will snow overnight and be in the teens tomorrow. Some people are in the elements with no shelter, and no food.  In years past, I have worked in a hospice for the dying poor, handed out meals at hunger centers, and piled shelves at the Food Bank, all while having food in my own pantry and refrigerator. I remember a time setting up a serving line at the West Side Community Center with service groups from various churches. We were told that after we were done serving we were to each take a plate and sit wherever there was an empty seat, and converse with our guests for the rest of the meal. One of the parents of a school group stated that they were here "only to serve the meal, not eat with the patrons". The director again stated the protocol to follow for the evening. The parent also again stressed that they were only here to 'serve', not to 'mingle'. The director politely thanked them for coming but that they could leave now, because the rest of us "had to be about our Father's business".  I always thought that was harsh, but also the right thing to do. Not any of us know what tomorrow's dawn will bring us. Or, the rest of our human family. Please join us at noon on December 10th......

One Human Family Food For All Campaign Prayer - Pope Francis and Caritas International

"O God, you entrusted to us the fruits of all creation so that we might care for the earth and be nourished with its bounty.

You sent us your Son to share our very flesh and blood and to teach us you Law of Love.  Through His death and resurrection, we have been formed into one human family.

Jesus showed great concern for those who had no food - even transforming five loaves and two fish into a banquet that served five thousand and many more.

We come before you, O God, conscious of our faults and failures, but full of hope, to share food with all members in this global family.

Through your wisdom, inspire leaders of government and of business, as well as all the world's citizens, to find just, and charitable solutions to end hunger by assuring that all people enjoy the right to food.

Thus we pray, O God, that when we present ourselves for Divine Judgment, we can proclaim ourselves as "One Human Family" with "Food For All".  AMEN.

As ever,
La Verne

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just a mini-miracle

So, Alisa borrows Bethy's camera and takes it across the globe. Hungary and the Czech Republic.  I have a small assignment. Get the camera from Alisa at Saturday's birthday party, and give it to Bethy on Sunday when we put together the awesome gift baskets. Simple job, involves 20 miles MAX.

At Liam's district finals Saturday night, I LOSE THE CAMERA. It was cold, rainy, almost snowy, and I was dressed in my typical bag lady attire, accompanied by my cart filled with blankets, rain-wear, extra socks, gloves, plastic and hot chocolate. And, I thought, the camera that I stuffed in my purse.

At picture time, NO CAMERA. Looked under the bleachers with a flashlight. No camera. Back at the van. Nothing. The next day, scoured the house [Disclaimer: The area between the door and everywhere I would have walked]. Nada. Short of vacuum cleaning, searched every inch of the van. Nil.

I drove to Bay Village Stadium and pondered how I could break in. The gate was locked, but there was a bike and a trash can. If I climbed onto the bike and pushed myself up to the trash can-in one lunge I might make it over the top of the fence....or, be impaled on it. How exactly would a 911 call go? "Hi 911, I might need some help. When you drive through the Bay Stadium and see the Irish Green Sweater Blimp, that is not a dirigible, that would be me, looking for my daughter's camera. SOS (sweater)."

I heard some boys practicing on the soccer field and got their attention. "Hey boys, I wonder if you could help me? I'm looking for my daughter's camera!"  One boy immediately hollered back, " Was it RED?" "YES!" "My mom found it in the parking lot next to the handicapped space last night. I'll call her and have her bring it up." In less than 10 minutes, I was holding Bethy's camera again. Thank you to Bay Rocket's player's mom, Chris Myers, and the son she raised really well. [Bay won 2-0]

As ever, grateful
La Verne

Saturday, October 26, 2013

There was an old woman who lived in a...

...century house. She had so many grandchildren, she needed a more economic way of tending to their birthdays, than going to Target. [Oh, you thought this was a nursery rhyme?] Who really eats broth, whips their children, and doesn't serve bread with a meal? This is the old woman in real life.

Here are some 'round-the-clock' projects destined for grandkid's birthdays this weekend.

The first, was a child's kitchen that my friend, Ken, scooped off a curb. All working doors and drawers, the little right hand bin needed a hinge underneath. The two bottom cupboard doors had rubber band closures. Genius. First, I peeled off old wallpaper and scraped tar-paper off the counter. Then, set about cleaning and painting.

I sponged painted the top cupboards, installed beadboard for the back splash and cut some maple for a counter top. I still need to tone down the top. Too blue. I was thinking of giving it a little more height, so tomorrow, I may build some legs onto it.

I put in an LED tap light so Little Toots could have some surface light, and rigged up a light switch to operate the "burner". 

I re-built the bin and found the right hinge. It works perfect. I know it is sideways. Tomorrow is another day for fixing things.

I was going to recess the bowl for a sink and install a faucet but NO ROOM.


The next project was for a grandson who loves super heroes. His little chair kept breaking at dinner on Sunday, so a trip to Salvation Army the next day produced this sturdy little work horse. I painted it all red and made a stencil of the Superman logo. I printed off the logo from the internet and glued it to contact paper. Then used a razor and followed the lines. As each color dried, I would attach the next color and paint that. Finally, I sanded, glazed, outlined the logo, and poly'd it several times.

The "G" Man should like having meals in his Super Chair.


This next present probably does not look like a 'gift'. It is actually an old, well made drawer from the turn of the century, that was formerly part of a built-in dining room cabinet. I got it at ReStore for $2. 

This the grandson who just turned "1", and what he likes to do most of sit in any kind of box, basket or container. The drawer will be a 'toy box reading center', and maybe, even a good napping place.

I first put casters on and sanded the drawer well. I stripped the front and used a checkerboard stencil using all the colors of the fabric. After distressing and glazing, I gave it 3 coats of poly. The rest of the exterior, I painted my favorite go-to color. It matched the fabric I got for the lining. I used a 3M adhesive to adhere it and then cut foam which I blanketed in batting before sewing a casing for it. The fabric has old fashioned teddy bears.

The checkerboard lost something in the translation. Close-up, it is more appealing. The lining is a soft velour corduroy, great for diving in and rolling across the living room floor. 


The next 'gift' is a huge school cork board. [Another Ken find] This is for the Presidential family who just had a series of birthdays (and a bunch of promises from me). Mom-Meg is an elementary school teacher on leave with a new born, and Ryan remodeled their basement to look like a classroom. The item missing is a bulletin board.  Here it is fresh from the curb:

And, after some clean-up and a little color and stain:

I already put it to use.


My week in review:


These cute pumpkins I made from old fence posts which I cut, sanded, painted, sanded again, glazed and poly'd. I drilled a hole on top and hot glued a branch from a willow tree. It should have some corn stalk foliage on it, but.... They were easy to make. I should attribute it, but just know I saw it on a blog, (forgot who) and immediately set out to copy it. 

This was a really industrious week. READ: BUSY. I don't 'do' stairs, but somehow, I managed several sets of them this week. They take their toll. There is a saying, "The forwarder I go, the behinder I get." Right now, I am going to get my behinder in bed!

'night all
La Verne