Friday, January 31, 2014

The L A Z Y pallet top dresser

In September of 2012, I was looking at free Craigslist ads and spotted one for a not-gently used dresser in Cleveland. It was missing a drawer, had no handles, and had a pressed board top. If you don't hop on these gifts right away, they have a way of escaping into quicker hands. It was night-time, and I had no slaves children to help me pick it up. I would have to wrestle it off a porch with a hand dolly by myself. Fortunately, the giver and his son helped me load it in the van.

I wish you could see the richness of this color. It is called Antique Tin. I think the other is just a Van Dyke Brown.

 Unfortunately, I could not find the original pictures before I did anything to it. This picture was taken after I had already started painting, and had removed the old top. The coloring is different because here it is in the garage, and in natural light. 

What I love about Craigslist, is you see people over and over again. Last summer I put some items free on C'list and this former owner came and got a leather tool belt from me. I should dig up his email address and send him this posting of his old dresser.

These pallet boards I  acquired from a young boy in Parma who recycles them from a parts factory where he works. He uses these savings to pay for college. I first made a base of 1/4" luan and glued and nailed the pallet boards on. Very rustic. 

I framed out the inside where the drawer was missing, and built an interior box out of old ReStore wood. I sealed any spaces with Bondo, sanded and painted. The drawer handles were new and came from Habitat's ReStore. I added a new panel to the back.

A good sized basket would make this alcove an excellent place for socks, belts, coin dishes, or a clock radio. You could even park a TV on top, drill out the back and put a DVD player inside. 

This piece is no longer available.


Remember my "Culling the Herd" post about burning an oak dresser for wood stove fuel? Well, I had a change of heart as the saw was in my hand. It survives to live another life. The drawers are gone, but the unveiling of the transformed piece is about 3 weeks away. I'm thinking 'little girl' and 'doors'. 


Happy Birthday Andrew, Neil and Paddy. Life is soooooo good. 

As ever,
The Mom

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Culling the herd

While many women consider jewelry to be their best friend, or shoes, or Prada purses, my choice runs to furniture. Curb furniture, specifically. Years ago, as we ran for our lives when our house caught fire, I thought not of the keys to my van, my credit cards, or even baby photos, I wanted to save my kitchen table. Let me say it is not just any table, it came from a distant relative, one, Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was 42" round, made of oak with a single pedestal and missing its leaves. I had refinished it many times. I often thought my cousin/aunt/whatever might have penned Uncle Tom's Cabin while sitting at it. But alas, there were children to save and it was just a momentary thought. How it came into my possession may be considered something of a "steal". When our family first moved to Cleveland it was considered the trendy thing, to own a Formica table with chrome legs. Grey or pink or tan, with speckles preferably. Matching chairs with uncomfortable seats completed the set nicely. The Harriet Beecher Stowe table was relegated to the basement. I let it be known to my parents that when they died, I wanted the table. I think I even said it to their faces. Many times.

Fast forward four years to high school graduation. They would be moving to DC, and I would be staying behind. The Cleveland that I didn't like became the place I couldn't leave. I would be getting an apartment down the street with my younger sister, Michelle. [Notice to Folks:] "I can't wait till you die, I'm taking the table NOW!"

Adam and the "All you need is love Harriet Beecher Stowe table"

The table was one of the few (less than 25) items that survived the fire. It needed a do-over but was intact. When it left my possession a few years ago to take up residence at son and new daughter-in-law's house in Columbus, the caveat must stay in the family! Within a week, I combed Craigslist for another one. Sure, it wouldn't have the same lineage, but I needed my feet under a table with history. The table I found came from Brecksville. It was the last vestige of a restaurant that the owner's mother had opened with hard earned savings of $1200.00 during the Depression, which she invested in near the steel mills. I needed a bib to keep the drool from running down my chin, but plunked over the pittance he asked for. I restored it in two days.

The Steel Mill reclaimed table

Scuttlebutt is that HBS is coming back home, and the Columbus people are itching for a newer, rectangular table, one of which I happen to have in my 'stash'. That would make the 'steel mill' table up for grabs to the right family. No worries, I have 3 round oak tables waiting for some 'love' in the garage. Which brings me to this post.....

This past month has been rather calamitous, not like having your child diagnosed with a terrible illness, but would certainly register on the Life Stress scale. There were the several weeks of flu/pneumonia/bronchitis (that still seems to be visiting). Two-day-a-week physical therapy with a TENS unit plus 14 do-it-yourself sessions. Right now PT is the band-aid for knee replacement. When I try to do an analogy in my head, I envision The Black Knight from The Life of Brian referring to his missing limbs as "merely a flesh wound". Then there were the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that poured out of my newly thawed pipes, the search for the leaks, daily traversing open joists to get to the shower, many dehumidifiers, two air movers, and a frozen partridge in a crawl space. The utility bills for gas, electric and water are starting to dribble in; think a teensy bit less than the national debt. Oh, and the topper, today house taxes were due. And, paid, thanks to all who subsidized that effort by availing themselves of my refurbishings even though a house was meant to have walking space in addition to furnishings (Bethany).

If you are all thinking....."will she get to the POINT!" I will. Nobody that I know and love died this week, although I know people who had that experience. While I was pinched for cash to make that deposit yesterday, I had pennies to roll and cans to recycle, and a last minute sale came through on Craigslist which made me flush (what an awful word-seriously, when I didn't have water a few weeks ago, I wished I could FLUSH). Faith and prayers are answered daily, and my resources are abundant. So what does that have to do with culling the herd?

The Sacrifice (with Phoenix in waiting)

Today, I prepared to burn an oak dresser for fuel for my wood stove. Who'd a thunk it? It was a free Craigslist find that I scrubbed the living mold off of. It was missing a wooden caster and would in the future require some major life support to be 'functionable' (new word, add it to your dictionary.)  It felt like Sophie's Choice. I surveyed my garage for the most accessible piece, yet with the least emotional attachment. It was the right decision. All the hardware was removed for future use. I saved the drawer fronts, top, sides and some of the slats for sign making. The back would be transplanted to a dresser in waiting. And, I'm warm! What is is that worth? I can hear the furniture talking amongst themselves already. The piano knows his name has been bandied about as 'next' and he is in the closest proximity to the stove, cannot keep a tune, has p l e n t y of nice maple hardwood and parts that can be re-purposed, and takes up some mighty valuable real estate in my living room. I'm feeling a might like Dr. Zhivago.

What do people do who can't afford heat, water, groceries, gas, mortgage payments, taxes, college repayments debt, car notes, health insurance, or even have a contingency plan. I am so grateful for even the 'grey' days that habit my life. Sometimes, when I compare myself to Job, I realize I'm not even in the same pasture.

Be well, stay warm
La Verne

PS:  In case while reading this, you think I gave short shrift to the fact that our house was on fire and some of my children and myself were within, let me share what daughter, Alisa said in summing up... It occurred a few days after Christmas, and there were many house fires that winter; many had fatalities. She said: "We had a fire, not a funeral." Perspective.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Same time next year

A year ago today I had come back from my cousin Rick's Congressional Swearing-In in DC. Due to economy, I heat my house with a wood stove. I do have hot water baseboard heat that I consider auxiliary, and is temperamental as to whether it chooses to work or not. It failed me then and, being consistent, failed me now. Saturday night, I heard the familiar....."SSSPPPPEEEWWWWWEEERRRT". By the time I heard it, there was three inches of water in the computer room (misnomer: really the paint storage, wood keeper, coat closet, catch-all room). Last year, the carpet went, plus half its contents. This year, no loss. I shut the water off and turned on heaters and fans, and proceeded to resort to pioneer status. I wondered how long I could keep it up before I would tell the kids.

I pulled water jugs from the basement to use for tea and washing dishes. I heated snow for flushing toilets. I washed my hair in cold water. I think excepting for a statewide calamity, 24 hours was going to be my limit. Bethy got on the "Children of La Verne Emergency hotline" and immediately calls came back with offers of help. Andrew and Larry came over and removed room contents, tore out the split copper and replaced with new copper and compression fittings. Andrew then staple gunned Visqueen to the back of the house. There is an immediate difference.  I have water. I have heat. I have a warm place to go to the bathroom.;-) Thank you my loves.  Those that were unable (or told not to come (;-) will trek over in the next few weeks to make their mother's life more bearable.  Maybe even comfortable.

 Last year's fix.....

This year's fix. Same spot.

Last year's telling of the story.

All of the Ohio Grands are off school for another day or two due to the impending weather. Be safe. Stay warm.

As ever
La Verne