Saturday, August 26, 2006

Love that smile


Someone is a year older, cuter, smarter, sweeter, funnier, and nicer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pull up a chair


In our family, we like hand-me-downs. It must be some sort of genetic incapability to say no to anything which might be useful, because we all do it, misers and spendthrifts alike.

I've said yes to an eight-foot gold sofa with a knife cut on the side which turned out to be a godsend when we had overnight guests. I've acquired early American tables with that old fake white paint-on antiquing from the '60s, complete with six chairs. I removed the paint from every inch of those suckers, every turned post and carving. I have no idea how I managed the stripper fumes, the incredible mess scraped paint causes and sanding dust everywhere because we were living in our apartment then and didn't have a garage. They turned out to be worth every minute I spent on them since they turned out to be solid rock maple. They grace our dining room with beauty, style and history.

I'm currently painting a really cheap old desk in bright and cheery Mary Englebreit-style colors and patterns. It's turning out really well, but it's taken me seven years and I'm far from done. Something very dirty got scraped across the perfectly painted top during Gram's move. And the ancient veneer chips off every time I move it the least little bit; so it's in a constant state of disrepair. I originally looked at it as just a really big tole-painted piece that I would get rid of once I'd gotten the furniture painting bug out of my system, but I'm pretty impressed with its cheerful look and it may hold my scrapbook supplies someday instead of sitting in a yard sale.

I won't even mention numerous chairs, tables, and bedsteads that I've either pawned off on other relatives or are currently taking up space in our garage. They've taught me about the ease and indestructibility of tung oil, how get a perfect surface using wet/dry sandpaper, the beauty of electric sanders and staplers, how carpet padding makes the perfect cushy seat, and that hope spring eternal, but they have not taught me how to say no.

As my sister, Pooh is not immune to this genetic flaw. She said yes to a dining set that had been re-upholstered in a green-and-gold herculon fabric. I can see how she allowed them into her house--the wood carving is intricate and unique, the table expands exponentially, and the buffet is a treasure. Unfortunately the fabric should never have been allowed to leave Texas. Fortunately, it only took her fifteen years to find the perfect burgundy print to match her wool area rug. (And another year in which to lure us and the electric stapler to her home.) We were up till well after midnight, pulling the fabric taut, stretching the corners into smooth perfection, praying that the stapler would hit the chair not a finger. It was tiring but ultimately extremely satisfying. This before and after photo doesn't even begin to show the extent of the change from poorly padded to comfortable, rough to luxurious and ugly to gorgeous.

We did a good job! If I have nothing else to show for my summer but my sister's chairs, it's okay with me!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And the award goes to...

I'm back!

It's been a very hot summer with more 100 degree plus days than we deserved or wanted. We have no air conditioning and the computer is upstairs which is the last place I've wanted to be. Now that we're back to the moderate 90 degree temps, I've spent more time on the keyboard yesterday than I have all summer, combined.

Summer is winding down and the start of the school year is right around the corner, so it's time to achieve a little something to show for my time off--hence some actual blogging!

After a wonderful summer vacation last year roaming the Southwest and its parks for 2-1/2 weeks, this year summer events came to us. We didn't really contemplate any extensive vacationing with a new puppy anyway, but we had thought of going to visit some of the more far-flung family members who a) couldn't refuse to take the puppy because she is family too and b) are dog-lovers themselves and would understand and tolerate the chaos and ruin that our dogs traditionally bring with them. Fortunately for those relatives, they have come to see us instead.

So we've introduced them to Fanny Bridge, its super-sized trout and the beauty of Lake Tahoe. We've been kayaking and jet-skiing and rafting and rock collecting. They've spared my bottom the punishment of horseback riding and found entertainment in taking pictures of the taxidermied animals at Sportsmans Warehouse. They've helped move soil, dig, and dig some more, sod, build ponds, lug boulders, rearrange a garage and compliment the Gram's new house. We got to celebrate a 25th birthday with our son and exchange delayed gifts with a nephew and a very sweet little girl. And the summer isn't over and we get another short visit from still more relatives soon which we are looking forward to.

I did take one short little trip to visit the world's best sister while my sweetie was in another hemisphere. My nephew entertained Kharma while we attacked a tree root which was lifting her sidewalk and the Gram entertained the nephew while Pooh and I successfully recovered the Sixties-era dining chairs. We came back with the feeling of accomplishment and some black-and-blue salvia (Salvia guarantica) to try in our gardens.

But the best, most wonderful, most enchanting moment of the summer came when the phone rang at 4 pm last Wednesday and my sweetie's voice surprised me. We normally talk everyday he's gone, but cell phones don't work at 13,000 feet in the Andes. A co-worker had just brought along his satellite phone and they were giving it a try. Let me tell you, it was awesome. Crystal clear and no sound delay. I felt like I was right there beside him on the Puna, on a cold winter evening with the meteor showers overhead. I'm still smiling.