Sunday, July 29, 2007

(My) Reasons/Excuses for All Those Unfinished Projects

How many times have you felt that you have so much stuff to do that you can't get anything done? I find myself starting a project and, sometimes before I have even gotten to the middle of of it, find myself in the throes of yet another task. What's really bad is, it's not even my fault. (Listen for the large booms of thunder) Okay, so it's mostly my fault. But things do happen. You know, the phone rings or someone is at the door or the dryer buzzer goes off or the shopaholic down the street is having a yard sale. A number of similar emergencies will get me sidetracked. Then something else happens - as I start to return to my project, I see yet other things that need my attention. C'mon, fess up. How many of you can relate? (Whoa, look at all those hands! It looks like a cornfield out there.)
Last night I was looking at all my projects-in-waiting (pregnant projects, if you will), projects in process and projects on hold (I addressed projects on hold in my last blog entry) and thought I would share more of those pics with you.
I'll start with one of my most recent. The more I looked at this bench, the more that blank canvas of a back stared at me. So I decided that it wasn't done, after all and painted some flowering vines in colors that match the broken plate pieces in the middle of the mosaic. In typical "me" fashion I am now looking at the picture wondering if I should continue those vines to crawl across the support at the bottom. Hmm.
I also showed you the little carousel horse that needed a lot of work. (What I didn't tell you was how long ago I bought it with intentions of fixing it up right away) The wood base was dryer than a desert mirage. I reinforced the base, treated it with some linseed oil and then decided to cover it with brown paper and give it a leather faux finish. Here's a picture of the base as it looks right now. I'm not finished with the faux finish. Once it's complete and dried I'll add protective felt to the bottom.
The horse body itself has some major problems, two of them being huge holes in the saddle area and the belly where the carousel pole is supposed to neatly impail it. I've applied a plaster bandage (of sorts) to its belly and it is now on its back, legs reaching upward, on the bed in our spare bedroom. I do have to admit it's a rather comical sight to see a horse in such a position (any position, probably) on a bed. Anyway, once it's completely dried I'll sand it and do similar work on its other saddle sores before sanding it, giving it a new paint job and ramming it back onto the pole once again.
So, what do I do as I'm waiting for it to dry? Go on to another project, naturally...
...Which brings us back to that old chair my DH picked up during one of his curbside shopping expeditions.
Remember that I decided to separate the back from the seat? Well, after looking at it for awhile (yet another reason for delaying or not finishing a project - the thing sometimes must be carefully watched for awhile before deciding what to do with it), I decided it would make a cute curio shelf. Same thing with all those cast off drawers that we had (the ones we picked up because of the hardware on them). I mean, hey, the fronts of them made such a cute flower pot bench that surely they would also make great shelves.
I cleaned the dirt and cobwebs off and proceeded to attach them together. That's when the charge faded on my cordless drill AND my DH came home from work, tired and needing a sympathetic ear. It's downstairs in my shop as I click away on the keyboard.
But wait! I actually had an easy project, a total no-brainer! And it's finished! Check this out - a wall mantle I got at a sale! The wood was totally dried out. Other than dirt dusty spider sacs, nothing else was wrong with it.
A good cleaning and a heavy coating of water sealer with natural oils and VOILA!
The inside frame on both sides is a little rough where someone must have tried to make it fit over or behind something - probably a fireplace. I decided to leave that roughness alone and put it in one of our shops. Whoever buys it may want to give it even more of a trim. If not, well if not, that person can give it a light sanding and they have a beautiful show piece. Here's the "before" of yet another pregnant project. Others include an 1800's fainting couch, a wicker rocker and lots of table spindles. They'll all be fun with absolutely no frustrations. (Uh-huh, right!)
There are a few dozen more but if I show them to you, you'll see what an absolute mess our shops and property are right now. I'm not ready for that embarrassment yet.
Besides, it's dry outside (a real change from all the recent storms we've had) and still cool enough to do some gardening...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gardening While Stupid and other Afflictions

If you've previously visited this blog you've seen not just pictures of my gardens but pictures of them in various stages of development and growth. Lots of 'em, in fact. Perhaps too many of them if you're not a gardener.
You may remember that, earlier in the season, I thought birds had graciously planted a couple grapevines for me. After all, my neighbor has a grape arbor. Made sense to me that a few seeds had found their way over to one of my gardens.
I hoisted the vines over trellises, groomed around them, even found a couple old wooden ladders that I thought would make wonderful makeshift arbors. But the more I looked at them the more I had to wonder why the vines hadn't yet yielded even one tiny bunch of grapes when there were so many perfectly round, luscious-looking bunches dangling from my neighbors' tidy arbor.
This afternoon, as I was mindlessly painting an old chair and pondering whether to post my question on one of HGTV's garden forums, Barbara (my neighbor) suddenly appeared bearing a goodly start of wisteria and an equally healthy rooting from a golden trumpet vine. (Let me insert here, by the way, that she was not an innocent party in identifying my grapevines.)
I excitedly accepted the plants as I do anything that has roots and is legal, plantlover that I am.
Just as she was walking away and was a few safe paces out of my reach she paused, half-turned and commented over her shoulder, "Oh, I almost forgot to tell you - when I was out walking yesterday, I saw some of those vines that we thought were grapevines. They were growing wild on Dick and Kathy's fence and he was out spraying weedkiller on them. I'd take them up if I were you."
I'm in the process of reworking those now bare areas of the garden.
Other projects... Looks pretty good in the top picture, huh? Take a closer look and you'll see this massive hole in the saddle and an even massive-r hole (this from an English major) under the belly. There are small holes in the body of the horse, the pole is rusty and the wood stand is extremely dry. It's a project for (much) later and will probably end up in one of our shops when finished.
My husband found this old chair atop a trash heap. I let it sit for several days before deciding to turn it into two projects. The back got sawed off, as you see in the first photo. Then I decided to saw off the seat part (not shown in these photos). The legs were missing a couple support spindles so I fit some dowel rods in those places. I cut a piece of plywood to fit into an old picture frame and attached it to the bottom spindles where the seat used to be. It now has a fresh coat of paint and is waiting for me to mosaic the top. It should make a cute little side table. I'll decide what to do with the seat and the spindled back later. (Have you noticed that I have quite a few projects saved for "later"?)
Here's one that I started, then put on "hold". I do that sometimes, start a project then get either distracted or decide that I need to re-think it before continuing. This is a dresser that once belonged to my mother-in-law. It has an attached mirror that is in another part of the workshop, safely wrapped in a heavy moving blanket.
I thought it would be an easy task, that it just needed some basic cleaning and painting. But the damage to the top is more extensive than I thought. I sanded it, thinking it would smooth right out but the veneer (I hadn't realized it even had a veneer top) started to peel. I applied some wood putty to it and attempted to smooth-sand it but I don't like the way it's looking. So it's on hold while I re-think it.
Here's a little bench I made from the remains of an old kitchen bench and the fronts of two dresser drawers. I fastened the drawer fronts to the base, painted the whole thing and mosaic'd the seat.
I thought was finished but I've since decided it needs a design on the back. I'll either stencil something or draw something freehand.
The seat is narrow, just large enough for a child or to hold some potted plants. Okay, so an adult with a rear end smaller than mine could probably sit comfortably here, too.
It's almost 11:00PM here in East Tennessee; the time has gotten away from me again and I still have tools to put away. Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back again and with more pictures!

It's been a really busy last few weeks! Unfortunately, it's not the "good" kind of busy of gardening, refinishing furniture, repurposing items and generally hanging out with my husband when he's not at work.
Parts of today's posting may sound depressing and downbeat but I really don't mean for it to be taken that way because things are now so much better.
First let me explain that my hubby's youngest son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 14. It's a terrible illness and people who have it must live through terrible, frightful experiences. Those experiences are not "real" as you and I may determine. But they are true and very real to the schizophrenic. If you've ever had a horrifying bad dream that, as you are dreaming it, feels like reality then you may have an idea of how life is to a schizophrenic. Yes, there are medications to help and yes, my stepson (who is now 26 years old) is on heavy doses of Clozaril. But there are times that, for various reasons, the patient will "crash" (a term used when the meds become no longer effective or when the patient stops taking the meds, causing the person to hallucinate and hear voices).
Long story short, my stepson has been "crashing". When this happens he stays with us so we can make sure he is taking his medications properly, eating properly, etc. If his condition worsens he has to be hospitalized. He has been staying with us now for three weeks. Keeping constant watch on him to make sure he doesn't become more paranoid or delusional is neither a fun nor an easy task.
His meds have now been increased and though it will take a couple more weeks for him to mellow out, he is now somewhat aware of his paranoia. Trust me, being "somewhat aware" is better than having absolutely no awareness of it at all. Case in point: He no longer believes that his Dad, myself and his neighbors are plotting against him to kill him.
Additionally, a very good friend and neighbor of ours died a few days ago. Two days before he died we were blessed to be able to tell him we love him and how much we've appreciated knowing him the past several years. He was 65 and shared my love of nature and gardening. He was also an avid hunter and fisherman and literally never sat still. He loved his family and friends and loved doing things for other people. I thank God that his suffering from cancer was short and that he was chair or bedridden for only five or six weeks.
Okay, now that all the above has been said, I'd like to share more of my garden shots as well as some pictures of furniture that we have brought back to life and some miscellaneous projects that I've done in the past.
Let's start with something really sweet.

Okay, now, is there really anything cuter than baby animals? These two baby wrens shared the nest with another sibling and when I took one of my (many) daily walks through my garden, noticed that they were gone. (*Sigh*) They grow up so quickly.

My gardens have finally recovered from that late frost we had! I was beginning to think that none of them were going to have any blooms this year! But, as you can see, my lillies are growing and blowing and my gladiolas are coming into full color. I love how our big garden angel stands in the midst of these day lillies and am so glad I decided to plant the ones my mother-in-law gave me around her!

Remember my garden path? Would you believe I still haven't finished it? But wait! Don't yell at me yet - I ran out of bricks (I was using the discarded bricks from my MIL's old fireplace)! And, although I was mixing some stones and river rocks with the bricks on the pathway, I won't take responsibility for the short fireplace. Okay, okay, so it's not a real good excuse. But it's the only one I could come up with at such short notice. And, speaking of my MIL...This old birdhouse has always delighted me. She gave it to me several years before she died; however, it stayed at the old homestead until my SIL moved out.

Nobody knows who made it or when. All I know is, it's very old and I need to re-attach the tiny barrel and bucket that are supposed to sit on the front porch.

Looks like something from Little House on the Prairie, doesn't it? I can almost envision that a miniature Laura Ingalls will come bouncing out of the door at any moment.

I haven't noticed any bird families checking it out but I don't really care. It's one of those things I love for no particular reason.

Oh! Here's one I almost forgot to show you!

Okay, she's not much of a re-do as it didn't take a lot of brain cells to figure out what to do with her. But she's still a re-do and I really like how she looks in my garden.

She started life as a wall hanging. I know this because there was a toothy-type hanger on back of her when I bought her for 25 cents at Sally Ann's (our acronym for Salvation Army). Except for a bit of reddish nylon doll-hair hanging from the nape of her neck, she was bald-headed. So I threaded a ribbon through a tiny straw hat and glued and stapled it to her head. Ouch! She seems okay, tho - look how serene she looks! Of course, I removed the hook from her back, put a silk flower in her hand, attached a dowel rod and plunged it into the ground.

Amazing, some of the things you can do with the plywood bottoms of discarded drawers!

No, I didn't cut this cow from the bottom of a drawer but wouldn't that have made it more interesting? Hmmm. At least it's something to give myself to think about. I actually made it from some discarded plywood my hubby and I found at a building site. The ears are scraps of "pleather" - a supposedly fancier term for plastic fabric created to look like leather (it doesn't). I painted it with acrylics and weather-protected it with about seven coats of varnish. I probably overkilled it on the varnish but look how well it's withstood the elements.

This little phone seat was seat-less when I found it. I scrubbed the filth off it (why does discarded furniture always have to be so darned dirty???), painted it, recovered a seat and you're looking at the results. It's for sale in one of the shops. The two primitive dolls on it were made by me.

This 1800's chest was an absolute MESS when we bought it! Someone had given it a sloppy black and white paint job over green paint, over blue paint, over all the previous colors. Some of the drawers were broken, the pulls were either missing or broken and the wood had deep gashes in it. All this, and a child's crayon artwork on the back and in some of the drawers. It was made using dowel rods for nails. The wood was in such bad shape that my hubby decided to paint it black after he repaired it, and he added these sweet pull knobs to the lower drawers.

If you want to see more photos of the items we have in Shop Around the Corner, click here:

'Till next time...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Muses, Musings and Lessons Learned

There will be no particular flow to this post as I am feeling disorganized and somewhat brain-abandoned today. There's no particular reason to this, just one of those days. My birthday isn't until the 26th of this month but, for some reason, my thoughts have been drifting to various lessons, musings and/or observations I have come across in my soon-to-be 59 years on this earth. Omigosh, I wish I hadn't written that out. It reads much older than it sounds.
I've been taking more pictures of my large garden, too. I'm not planning on talking about it at this time but will be posting pictures. Why? Because I can and because posts look much more interesting with photos. And, digressing back to my first paragraph, the things I will disclose will be in no particular order. None. No order of importance nor time in my life that it was learned.

Number 1: (Remember, no particular order...!): Sharing one of your past experiences with a young person will not teach that young person the same lesson.

Number 1A: Repeating that same story to the same young person will STILL not teach that young person the same lesson. It will only sound like a lecture and who wants to listen to those?

Number 2: Regardless of a person's education, intelligence or life experiences, you can learn something from every other individual. My son actually verbalized this to me when he was just a young boy around eleven or twelve years old. I guess I already knew that but I was impressed with his insight.

Number 3: Different people bring out different traits in you. Example: If you have three equally good friends, you will provide something different to each of them in terms of your friendship or relationship.

Number 4: Being opinionated isn't necessarily a bad thing. Spoken by an opinionated person.

Number 5: I don't care what anyone says, I think severely rich people are happier than severely poor people.

Number 6: There is no such thing as loving your child too much.

Number 7: Everyone is born with some kind of skill or talent.

Number 8: Being educated doesn't make a person smart.

Number 8A: Being uneducated doesn't make a person less smart than an educated person.

Number 9: It is important for parents to earn respect of their young children. If a child doesn't respect you at age 6, don't expect him/her to respect you when they turn 16.

Number 10: It is not a humorous situation if it makes someone else cry.

Number 11: Some people truly are totally obnoxious.

Number 12: Flower bulbs are great examples of rebirth.

Number 13: Weeds have a lot in common with old people. It's easy for both to spread if not watched carefully. (I'm thinking of my hips, not the number of old people)

There are, of course, more but it is getting late and I'm getting tired. Feel free to share your lessons and musings with me. 'Night.