Friday, August 23, 2013


Remember this forlorn little step stool from yesterday?  Alex has been sharing a bench with her siblings while this chair has been out of commission.  For a week, I just walked past it and studied it. What the heck was I going to need to fix it? Where to even start?

Photos first, so I could put it back together.  I got the WD-40 and hit every screw, nut and bolt.

I heard some wild laughter coming from the stool.  "You are not even going to budge us with Naval Jelly!"

Maybe the rust was holding it together.

I probably should have saved the vinyl to use as a template.

I was determined to strip it.

I was so confident of my abilities, I photo'd the bottom, so no one would think I switched it out for another chair.

I hoped I would find something to replace the missing hardware.

And the missing feet.

I researched everything that would remove rust and bought it. The big gallon from Harbor Freight was worthless.  The Krud Kutter was semi useful.  I threw in vinegar and potatoes in my foray into MacGyver territory.  I ended up cutting t-shirts into strips and wrapping it around every piece of metal, then pouring the chemicals on it while it soaked for days in a giant plastic bag in the sun.  I forgot to wear my protective glasses and mask when I opened it, expecting some combustion.  All I got was 'bad smell'. Think decomp. You know, the potatoes.  What was I thinking?

After I scrubbed it clean, I started working in earnest, strippers and putty knives, wire-brushing, sanding with a drill and wire brushes, using emery cloth and this is how it looked.  Still not good enough for a little 4 year old to sit on and eat her meals. So many rust spots that wouldn't budge.

 See the empty screw holes?

Back to the internet.  What kind of paint to use as a rust inhibitor that could also pass for chrome.  I used Rustoleum Hammered Silver and painted it on with a brush. And painted it on with a brush. And painted it on with a brush.  Soooooo many orifices. I replaced all the missing screws and bolts. 

The hammered paint has a nice texture with a bit of black in it that does not show the brush strokes.  It finally had a uniform look and the oil base mean't it would not chip off. [I REALLY like water wash up though.] The blue was gone.  Their kitchen is cranberry, but the fabric store only had maroon in a strong vinyl or a cRaPpY cranberry. Plan B: Play up the Chrome and think Stainless Steel. 

The texture of the naugahyde feels like the rubber on a basket ball and will be invincible during food fights.  This chair will be around for another 50 years. Or more.

I added 8 new rubber tips and padded the seat and back. The only cranberry in this photo is on my working garage door!  Have a happy life, little stool.


It's a good thing I didn't look this up until I was finished with it. [I had just clicked over from Wikipedia and donated $3. to keeping information free. Please do.] I looked up Cosco expecting to see that these step stools are no longer made and now are going for great amounts of money on e-Bay.  Not what I found. Here they are at Target online for $53.99 in white, yellow, red, and black.  Ohhhh, I have to so start paying attention to my smart head.

Cosco Retro Chair with Step Stool - Red

The person who was my 3rd and 4th hand on putting this stool back together, is my neighbor Wally. He also cuts my grass and plows my drive, lends me tools and never complains about how bad my yard looks.  Or garage, when it has a tarp covering it for a month. A person could not ask for better neighbors than Wally and Jill. Another thing to be grateful for on my gratitude list.

Here is a picture (from years ago) of Wally holding the sleeping Paddy, who fell asleep while "helping" him cut the grass. Most people would have passed off the sleeping boy.  Not Wally, he cut almost the whole rural lot while cradling my boy. Bless you.

As ever, back in my smart head
La Verne

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Expect a Miracle

This past week has been a 'week of miracles'. Something like in the game of Go Fish-"get what you asked for, get to pick again." And if you are asking, you might as well "ask BIG". By definition a miracle is "a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency."

I am always expecting miracles. If you throw it out there with a wide enough voice, and the faith that it will be fulfilled, maybe that isn't a miracle at all.  Maybe, it's about the noisy wheel.  I'd like that on my tombstone, "she was an insanely, noisy wheel!"

If I were counting on my fingers, there was the garage door miracle, The Josie Miracle [NEW: KEEP SENDING YOUR FAITH FILLED PRAYERS. JOSIE WILL BE HEADING OVER TO JOHNS HOPKINS FOR HEART SURGERY TO CLOSE UP A HOLE, AND THEN HOPEFULLY BACK TO ST. AGNES-Thank You!], the St. Joseph medal miracle, the step stool miracle, and the computer miracle. That's 5!  Sorry for hogging, but many thanks.


You already know about the garage door and Josie (she is still thriving, but is on the up and down of her journey).  Then yesterday, Therese called in search of a St. Joseph medal.  How hard should that be to find? He's the right hand guy, the foster father of Jesus; should be right next to the Crosses in a Christian book store.  Nope. Therese had called a bunch of places in Baltimore, and I called a bunch more.  Then went online in Cleveland and on the phone. Nothing. Finally, Abba, at St. John Neumann said they had ONE, with a 24" chain. I said I would be there in 20 minutes.  She said, ""We close in 15." I said, "This is for the dad of a new baby, named Josephine, who was born at 25 weeks. He has to go back to work and can't be with her at the hospital during the day, so the medal will be like keeping her close.  I'm grabbing my keys now, I will see you in 15."

The church/store is really 25 minutes away.  I know, because I used to sing in their Praise and Worship choir and pushed it to get there on time every Sunday, and that was when there was no traffic. School started the other day in North Royalton and Strongsville, and I was going through both cities at bus time. Plus, the usual huge shopping complex stop lights that are a waste of time for those that never buy things 'new'.

I got there at 3:00, exactly, and I didn't speed. I just prayed for green lights. The CLOSED sign was already up, but the door was unlocked. She was happy to sell me the medal and chain and said it worked out good for both of us, because she said it was a slow day.  She said normally she has to leave right at 3 for doctor's appointments, but none was scheduled for yesterday. [Get what you asked for, get to pick again.]

For several weeks now I have been working on a step stool junior chair for a little girl, named Alex.  When I first saw it I thought it was hopeless.  It was about 50 years old and rusty, and missing screws, and leg caps, and held together with duct tape. I said I would make it look new, but my smart thinking head, the one that always wonders why I can't say "no", was thinking, "it would be convenient for you to die now, so you don't let this little girl down, because there is "NO WAY" this stool will ever look new." Well, miracle #4 is almost completed. I just got home from the fabric store, and as soon as the paint is dry, I will be upholstering the seat and back.  I will show you pictures and tell the 'rest of the story' in tomorrow's post, but I'll give you a teaser photo today, so you know the dilemma my smart thinking head was in.


You already know what Miracle #5 is, if you just looked at the above pictures!  My computer is working! I have tried to boot the thing 10 times in the past week. I texted and called Pete.  He's not due here anytime soon.  I am not a technical person. Seriously. At all. But here I was, typing away on my auxiliary computer, the one with no sound, no mouse, no copy and paste, hardly any screen, and more negatives that I can't complain about too loudly or it won't want to be my back-up any more, when I wistfully looked my real computer, and it started.  IT STARTED.  I wasn't even touching it-just looking at it.  Sometimes it will fire up when I do touch it, but within minutes, before Google Chrome even appears, it goes back to its comatose state.  This is hours later, I've left the house and come back, I put another coat of poly on a bench I'm working on and, still, it's working. Miracles are probably really about gratitude. And I am.  Gratitudinous.

I will be posting like crazy the next few days, so don't think it's a repeat if hope&salvage shows up in your inbox.  I have so much to show you.  Feel free to comment (to me) if you have a thought about something I'm working on.  I hope this blog is a mutual communication, not just me being the 'noisy wheel'.

As gratitudinous as ever,
La Verne

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bryan's note on Josie

       "Hi Aunt La Verne,

        Thank you for praying for Josie. I saw the Hope site and we appreciate the love.

        We have faith Josie will be strong.  She was 30 cm or 11.8", not 8.5";-) [guestimate from T]

        Josie is small, but is very tough and beautiful  Looks just like her daddy.

        She has a vent to help her breathe while her lungs develop. She has medicine to keep her BP  
        stable. She is doing well given the situation. She has a lot of growing to do and she's hanging
        in there. Jess and I are hanging in there too.

        Please keep us in your prayers.

        Love, Bryan"


Therese called last night with an update.  Josie had her eye patches removed.  She did not have any brain bleeds and does not have brain damage.  She is a great kicker!  God willing, her "Welcome Home" party will be in November.


I am writing this on Pete's auxiliary computer, as mine, with all my photos, appears to be in limbo.  I will post my completed projects, with pictures, when it comes out of its coma.

As ever,
La Verne-ever-grateful-for-your-immediate-and-bountiful-prayers

Post Script

An ANGEL came and fixed my garage door.  The tarp that covered it is put away, and my shield and portion will now be snow-free when the snow flies.  I sincerely thank this person who wishes to remain anonymous for their generosity and love.

     "The Lord has promised good to me.
       His word my hope secures,
       He will my shield and portion be,
       As long as life endures." 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

UPDATE: Pray for Baby Josie Kelly

JOSEPHINE REESE KELLY was born at 11:37 am this morning.  JOSIE is bigger than expected at #1 9 oz, and 8.5 " long.  I understand she has a little pug nose and you know the only place she can get that is from me.  It was a fast delivery, not a C, and she has the best care at the hospital where her mother, brother, aunt and uncle were born.  8-16-13

Keep up the fight little Josie.


She is in JEOPARDY.  Not due til Thanksgiving, may be born today due to medical emergency.

This is my nephew Bryan, and his wife Jessica's child. Little sister to Luke, and granddaughter of Jack and Therese, and Joan and Howard.

Today is the Feast of the Assumption.  Asking for a miracle here.........

With love,
Great Aunt La Verne
with great HOPE for a SAVE here


Update from Jack Thursday evening:  Things have settled down. Dr. will do sonogram in morning and evaluate. Jess will stay in the hospital until the baby is born, whenever that may be.

Thank you for all continued prayers and mass intentions.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


If you are looking for pictures in this post-there probably won't be any. Okay, maybe one. But, don't expect it.

A couple years ago, I took a couple of family members on vacation to Ocean City, in one of my favorite vehicles of all time. It was a 1999 GMC Safari Van. Silver. When I bought it, it was replacing a similarly loved van. I only drive vans. It was without a doubt, the crammed full, 'holdingist' vehicle I ever saw.  One time I borrowed 150 resin chairs for a backyard Italian rehearsal dinner, and for a luau a month later. With the seats taken out, I could get 90 chairs in at one time. Ninety. If I found a banquet of curb-finds while driving along, no need to come back later, or just graze on the appetizer chairs-I could fit it ALL in. The only van better for packing was my 1978 Dodge Sportsman SE, that one time Neil packed with 6 people, 4 bikes, coolers, camping gear and bags, and with no obstructed back view. But that is a post for another time, called "Read the Tide Schedule, you damn tourist".

This particular trip was say, July, 2008. The van had over 200k miles on it and was 9 years old. I'm not sure how many years you should get out of an American vehicle, but when I left the driveway, I was expecting to come home with it. I didn't.

When we go to the ocean, we take the kitchen sick, no sense packing light. I think there were 8 people in the van, but right now I can't totally account for all of them. A couple of adults, but mostly kids under 14. Long about I 70 heading south in Maryland, the van blew up. As in LOUD BANG, smoke coming out of the engine and gliding/careening to a stop on the berm. Right before a blockade that said Road Construction Ahead. No human casualties. The engine would not start and the kids that had been paying attention said that something fell off the van a-ways back.  I checked my phone. Two bars. I could never own a vehicle and not have Triple A, so naturally my first call was to them-they were always helpful in the past. Then, today came along. The person who answered was a woman, no discern-able accent. Although, asking where she was located may have shortcutted the process. Hindsight. Her first question was, "Where are you, where is your nearest mile marker?" That's where the trouble started.

"I'm heading south on I 70, in Maryland. I am adjacent to a giant stone structure that on one side says, 'Washington County Welcomes You', and on the other side says, 'Frederick County Welcomes You.'  It is a divided road, there is Road Construction ahead, and in my rear view mirror, I can see a huge covered walkway that says, 'Appalachian Trail'".

"But, what is your Mile Marker?" the nice woman replied.

"I don't know. I am on the I 70, in Maryland, heading south, I am adjacent to a giant stone structure that on one side says, 'Washington County Welcomes You', and on the other side says, 'Frederick County Welcomes You.'  It is a divided road, there is Road Construction ahead, and in my rear view mirror, I can see a huge covered walkway that says, 'Appalachian Trail'.  The speed limit is 65, cars are going 85, the temperature is 95, and I have a bunch of kids in my car under 15, that I cannot possibly let wander down the highway seeking this information."

"But, what is your Mile Marker?" the irritating woman asked again, not sensing the ire in my voice.

"Apparently, you are not understanding, My van just BLEW UP.  I am on the I 70, in Maryland, heading south and I am right friggen' next to a giant stone structure that on one side says, 'Washington County Welcomes You', and on the other side says, 'Frederick County Welcomes You.'  It is a divided road. The sign says there is Road Construction ahead, and in my rear view mirror, I can see a huge covered walkway that says, 'Appalachian Trail'.  The speed limit is 65, cars are going 85, the temperature is pushing a hundred, and I have a bunch of kids in my car under 15, that if I let wander down the highway seeking this information, I will be put in jail for child abuse/neglect."

"In order to help you, I must know which mile marker you are nearest!"

"I am telling you, in the plainest of terms, where I am. Please listen. My silver, 1999 GMC Safari Van, with Dutch back doors, has died in front of a Road Construction Ahead sign, on the berm of the road, on the I, SEVEN ZERO, in Maryland, heading south. If the giant stone structure that on one side says, 'Washington County Welcomes You', and on the other side says, 'Frederick County Welcomes You.' were any closer, it would be IN MY VEHICLE!  The road is divided, in fact, there is a turn-around next to it that would be very convenient for the tow truck driver. As I look in my rear view mirror, I can see high over the roadway, a covered walkway that says, 'Appalachian Trail'.  I know of NO OTHER LOCATION IN THE COUNTRY THAT IS AS I DESCRIBE. Cars and trucks are whizzing past me at 85, so much so that the van is shaking, the temperature is pushing a hundred,and inside, it is beyond that, because, as my car has died, I am unable to roll down the windows, and, because I am talking to an idiot, and positively steaming, PLUS, I have a BUNCH OF SCREAMING KIDS IN MY VEHICLE UNDER 15. NO ONE is available to wander down the highway and get this information."


I could go on for pages re-creating this conversation which is forever etched in my head.  It lasted 45 minutes, until my brother-in-law, Jack, (always my savior), reached on the only other cell phone in the van, could empty his van and drive to meet us. Incidentally, I was still talking to the AAA woman when he pulled up, and he drove to get her mile marker information.  When telling him directions on how to find us, I simply said, "We were on the I 70, heading south, adjacent to the stone structure that on one side reads, 'Washington County Welcomes You, and on the other, read, "Frederick County Welcomes You". In my rear view mirror, I can see the overhead walkway for the 'Appalachian Trail'."


The reason I post this today is not because Bethany (the other adult in the van with a cell phone) is on a vacation in OC without me, it is because daily, this conversation is repeated in a million other ways by people who don't, or choose not, to C O M M U N I C A T E.

My college major was Communications. Certainly not a good choice if one expects to earn a living, but the side benefits are that you can read people, understand their nuances, and in turn, let them know what you are thinking. No one could ever describe me as 'subtle'. I am as subtle as the 'H' bomb. So when I verbalize something, there are 'no surprises'.  Even in my absence of words, my meaning is CLEAR.

This past week, there have been some instances where miss-communication reigned. I am not big on that, because, frankly, I think I'm closer to dying at my Dad's age, (66), than my Mom's at 83.  As Bonnie Raitt says, "Life is more precious, when there's less of it to waste." And, I want to be heard!

I have discovered about myself that perhaps I am impatient. I want folks to grasp concepts that are probably beyond their pay grade and comprehension. I no longer find it fun to color with crayons, within the lines. When neighbor kids throw rocks at my house, and ring the door bell and run away-I don't see the entertainment in that; and I holler back. Maybe, I have always been the "Holler-back Girl". After I'm gone, my kids will find essays, or letters I've sent, searching for explanations, or remedies; offering mine, and being ignored. Today, it bothers me, maybe tomorrow it won't.


I said I wasn't going to include a photo in today's post. Technically, this should have been yesterday's post. At least this part of it.  Yesterday, was daughter, Alisa's birthday. Her sister, Bethany, thanked me for having her. I thank God everyday for the same thing. She is a marvelous creature. She is smart, beautiful, way funnier than I could ever hope to be. She is a great mother and friend. She gives people chances way beyond their power to earn them.  Her job is healing the sick.  And, making you believe that wellness is a matter of mind..."Get busy living, or get busy dying." She runs for health, and cooks and pedals for causes.  Anyhow, Alisa, sorry to have been in such a funk.  Hope you had a grand and beautiful day. I love you, Mom

As ever,
La Verne

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm not trying for 31 in a row.....

...but am posting another one today.  This is really a continuation of  The Charlie Story, but I wanted to slip something in-between.

My friend (St.) Laura, called me yesterday in sort of a quandary.  She was giving a retreat today at the Jesuit Retreat House on Faith and needed eggs.  Not grocery store eggs.  Not Easter eggs. Story book eggs. Apparently, at the retreat, she would be telling the story of how: snakes eat rats and chickens need to be shown where to lay eggs (on a nest) or they lay them just 'any old place'.  According to the tale, the lazy rat snake preferred to eat the "egg" the farmer had placed in the nest to teach the chickens where to lay, instead of chasing after the "edible" rat. Unfortunately for the snake, the egg was made of wood and now stuck inside the snake, moving neither hither nor yon. Surely, the snake would die without an intervention.  The farmer had compassion and brought the snake to the vet for "eggs-traction" and, with a little "snip-snip" and "sew-sew", all ended well. This literary story is based on true events. Not ever having been that close to a rat snake, I'm not totally sure I would have had the same reaction. Seeing a slithering, winding being with only 1 bulge, might bring me to the conclusion that perhaps, it too, had, had a mastectomy. [This is PC BC humor and feel free to laugh.]

Back to the quandary. Laura thought in the telling of the story, it might be a nice visual to pass out some type of artificial egg, actually 36, but not the colorful kind, and, by today at noon.  I almost leapt out of my chair with enthusiasm. Ooooooo, oooooooo, I know the answer, and I'll do it!

I called around to the craft stores and one had 'eggs-actly' 36 papier mache eggs, so I journeyed to Hobby Lobby and got them. Hand painting 36 ovals is a bit of a time consumer, but I had music to listen to, and movies to watch. I finally 'eggquiesced' to spraying on the final 2 white coats and a spray-on poly (both sides).

Here's hoping they turned out the way she wanted and story was received well. Not so much here. While writing this post, I burned my home-made Michael Symon recipe for Pierogies. Some of them.  Still cooking for the 25 mythical people that I think still live here.

Anyhow, thanks Laura, for the challenge, the trust, and the friendship.


Earlier, I posted about the "Charlie boxes/chests". Now, I am writing about the table they were sitting on for his son, Matt.  Well, really, wife, Andrea. This table had been in her family and needed some mending, as most furniture, {and some families} do. 

When she brought it to me it had some joint issues.  If only they were all so easy to fix.  (Speaking here of human ones.) I really need to put some  l o n g  wood clamps on my wish list. I use a lot of different types of wood glues and this needed the special healing of The Chair Doctor, by Veritas.  Some of the wood was split, and some had just slipped its joint.


A very, versatile table

All that old furniture was made with such precision.

I thought at first this was a veneer and I would be in deep trouble sanding so deep, but no issues.

The first sanding took out almost all the grooves and scratches, but one, that was too embedded.

Andrea wanted a deep red.

I top coated it with a dark stain and poly.  

The red is actually darker than this.

If you tilt your head sideways-this will appear upright.

The wood finished off with a rich, deep finish.  Hope they like it. This piece will be across the room from the fish tank stand. And, around the corner from The Charlie Chest.


Not to take anything away from Michael, and his genius at cooking, and being positive about Cleveland, but, the subsequent batches of pierogies that did not burn, did not taste as good as the recipe I got from the ladies at St. Vladimer's Ukrainian Church. I think I will eggstract his recipe from my Rolodex. Just sayin'.

As ever,
La Verne

The Charlie Story

My friend Sue has been in my life for decades. Many. Decades. We have more things in common than not. We both live in century homes, were Girl Scout leaders together, have kids the same age; well then, I went and had 5 more. Our boys were in Boy Scouts together, and we went family camping. Our love for saving old things is almost competitive, and, on the 'couldn't save' front, our husbands, Charlie and Howard, died a year apart from each other.

For years Sue has thrown me life preservers, not actual, more in the form of life-lines when I was in crisis. When I was out of work, she suddenly needed her house cleaned every two weeks. When one of the kids terminated a car because of a rash move by Bambi, she lent me the money to get another. Periodically, she parted with items that belonged to her parents for me to sell on Craigslist, when my cash flow became constipated.

A few weeks ago, she brought over a bunch of wooden boxes, a manual key-maker, some old tools and cookie cutters, to do with as I liked. She also dropped off Charlie's father's tool box that he used at the steel mill for me to restore. His name was also Charles, but at work they called him 'Chuck' and that was the name stamped on the front of the chest.  Most of the items found new homes (taxes were due), but I especially liked working on the boxes. This is a photo taken on the day they came.

The top box looked like this in the interim, and eventually became The Miss Lucarelli Box 
(no finished photo available)

                         The second box was painted khaki and embellished with First Aid markings and sold at the show. The third box I will show you at the end.

The Yale manual key maker in its dusty glory, eventually looked like the photo below and was gobbled up at the show.

The soldering torch is decorating my garage.  It does have a very nice patina with my secret sauce, and would look very nice at your house. 

This is the "Chuck" chest when it first arrived.  If only this blog had "smellovision". Think old factory on the olfactory. 

I first cleaned the chest with several series of bleach washes with a scrub brush to get out the oil stains and unhealthy microbes because if its "eventual destination".

Note the side ledges that once held a tool tray.

Although I cannot be confused with a carpenter, I made a little tray with finger holes so little great-grandson, Charlie, can use this as a chest for Matchbox cars, Skylander games, and other important stuff.

                                          The finger hole tray was cut from an old factory pallet.

And so, a keepsake gathering dust in a basement becomes a treasure for its namesake.

Which brings me to the Third Box......

Usually, when I put my hand on an old piece of furniture, something comes to mind immediately.  It is as though the wood were speaking to me, and telling me what it wants to become.  No such happening in this case.  I knew the box could be an important addition to the Antique Show as it was more than 60 years old, but nothing was coming to me.  I NEVER just start sanding a piece without some clear inkling of a finish, but I did, start, sanding, and finding, WORDS. Names. A name. Charles Putnam. Charlie. It was Charlie's Boy Scout box. More words.  I called Sue and asked if she was busy. Of course she was.  Could she stop over when she got a minute?  Half an hour later she walked in the door.

Charles Putnam, Troop 70

B.S.A. Camp Zeke, Cleveland, O.

11800 Miles Ave.

Once held camping gear.

I told Sue that I could not sell the box. It was hers to take back and use for her house or grand-kids. I would refinish it as best I could to preserve the stenciling.


The 'Charlie' that this 'Legacy' is about, was a good man. By some standards, a great man.  He served his country in Vietnam. He named his son for a comrade who did not make it home. The war cost him more than just a friend, it gave him the illness that eventually took his life. Agent Orange was supposed to defoliate cover for the Viet Cong, but collaterally damaged everyone in the range for which it was used. When Charlie came home, he became a police officer in the poorest of neighborhoods, a profession taken up by his son, Matt. Charlie was a family guy, loyal, committed and grounded.  He's not a guy that would understand the fuss about finding something that he owned as a kid and having it restored. Just a simple man. Working a hard job so his family, and the world, would be a peaceful place.

Sometimes, steering a seemingly "one-parent" family is overwhelming, as we both know. But, it is the "what went before" that laid the groundwork for how we raise, and how we love.  Charlie, you may be no longer visible, but, you are in everything we know and touch. And, is nice to find a tangible surprise from you, once in a while, as a reminder.

As ever with love,
La Verne