Monday, October 12, 2015

September Whirlwind/Reunion

We have known since early spring that we would be hosting a reunion of Jim's family in the autumn.
This gave impetus to our house renovations, although we were assured that no one was coming 
'to see the house.'
By the second week of September we were feeling the push of numerous tasks still unfinished.
Jim decided to 'texture' the walls of the main room which wraps around the center stairwell creating both a living area and front and back open hallways.
I had been thinking painted 'beadboard' wainscoating to define the lower walls, but Jim decided that trying to retro-fit beadboard without removing window and door trim would be a nightmare.
Plan 'B' called for a narrow chair rail in a clear finish with darker paint below and a carefully chosen off-white above.
I bought the fabric for the living area curtains in Tennessee over a 2014 Thanksgiving visit to our niece--a great buy on a fine decorator cotton--16+ yards.
The fabric appears to be khaki or beige at first glance.  As I unrolled it from the bolt I realized it had a light golden olive tint.
I made the first pair of curtains late in May, then put the fabric away as other tasks claimed my attention.  I couldn't find my scribbled notes re measurements when I returned to the task in September, thought I recalled what I had been doing and --without measuring the finished pair--cut the remainder of the material, a very elementary recipe for mistakes!
When it came to hemming, I discovered I had cut all the lengths 3 inches too short.
I had to face the hems with matching fabric--invisible from the right side and neat enough on the back, but twice as time-consuming.

With no table large enough to spread the curtain lengths, I mopped a section of the kitchen floor and creaked down onto my knees to measure and pin the hems.
Teasel has always taken an interest in my stitchery projects and having fabric and the lovely long tape measure near to hand meant I had a great deal of assistance.
I pondered over nearly 2 dozen paint sample cards before making my selections; the resulting harmony of the paint and curtains is bringing me pleasure.

Jim started to tile the upstairs shower, then perhaps having become impatient with a long summer of house renovation [he is working on the lower house as well] he up and rented a machine to rearrange the creek bed which went out of bounds last spring and swept away the edges of the corn field.

The rental agreement for the machine specified a certain price for a 'week'--the rental company's conception of a 'week' turned out to be 32 hours.
I walked down several times to view the earth moving project.

Perfect weather for working outdoors.

Walking at the edge of the corn ground we found a length of crimped wire half buried in the sod.

The tangle of cosmos at the edge of the sadly neglected garden have continued to delight me with their colors. Soon it will be time to gather the seeds to dry for another season.

The family were scheduled to arrive from north, south and west on October 1.
The weather for about 10 days had been nearly perfect--blue skies, sunshine after cool and misty mornings.
I decided to refinish several small pieces of furniture--a quilt rack purchased at a consignment shop in January, a small side table which had spent several seasons on the front porch at the yellow house.
Rather than work in Jim's shop, I collected the electric sander, paper for hand sanding and my paint and brushes to work in the Amish 'washroom' off the kitchen.
These are projects I enjoy, although I've found I need to 'take a break' rather than push through for hours at a time.
With paint curing, guest rooms dusted and beds made up with the nicest linens and quilts, I turned again to curtains.
On the Sunday before the gathering I cleared the kitchen island, placed the ironing board behind it and aligned several cutting mats to give me the space needed for measuring.
This novel arrangement appealed to Nellie-Cat who wanted to be part of the project.
The threat of whiskers or tail being trimmed by the rotary cutter, or his paws steamed as I pressed up hems, did not deter him.

Our niece, Susan, arrived late on Monday to assist in preparing meals for the crowd.
Susan is expert at determining how much food to purchase and prepare.
She had been baking and freezing goodies at home in Alabama and a loaded cooler was 
part of her luggage.
Susan is also an accomplished seamstress.
When I came downstairs at 6 on Tuesday morning, Susan, already showered, dressed and in her right mind, was at the sewing machine efficiently running up curtain hems.
Rain bucketed down outside, keeping Jim inside to work on the shower stall.

While rain streamed down beyond the porch and yellow leaves whirled before the wind, the house took on the smells of meatballs simmering in tomato sauce, bread in the oven, molasses cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cooling on the counter.

Susan coaxed Jim to hang the pictures I had unpacked; 
We hung the freshly ironed curtains and suddenly the simple bedrooms looked cozy and welcoming.
It continued to rain until Sunday, but our guests were game to walk or visit the nearby Mennonite shops, and of course we ate!

A second batch of bread cooling and a sponge cake waiting for strawberries and cream.

Layered salad.

Part of a buffet meal.

Susan's trifle.

Visitors in the rain.

Sunday afternoon at the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.

The six siblings--impossible to have everyone smiling their best on the count of three!

Departures began on the Monday, the last of our guests said goodbye and started their homeward journeys on Tuesday morning.
Willing hands had made light work of collecting towels and bed linens; I spent the day in pegging sheets on the line, tidying. Chairs and tables which had been arranged for family meals were put back in place.
The more timid of the cats crept from under the bed and prowled through the suddenly quiet rooms.
We have consumed the leftovers, Jim has finished the shower and returned to work on the 
lower house.
I have sanded a vintage rocking chair, applied a second coat of paint to the front door.
Jim needs to sort his workshop and get the wood stove set up.
I need to sort and unpack still more boxes and bins, take more items to the charity shop.
I need to dig a place in the garden for the plants I have grown on the front porch.
I look forward to settling into this home we have refurbished, coming to know it better 
as the seasons change.
Slowly a new 'normal' will unfold.


  1. It sounds as though you had a good weekend with family and accomplished a lot in your house as well.

  2. Phew, I need a lie down after living your hectic time with you. I did chuckle tho, when I read "showered, dressed and in her right mind" because I know exactly what you mean, I am like a zombie when I first wake up lol
    I did enjoy your account of your preparations for the visitors and I'm pleased it was such a success, they sound like a lovely family.

  3. What a busy life you lead Sharon, and a what happy reunion. I have also cut curtains too short, and cursed myself for not reading my notes. The food looks delicious by the way.

  4. Gosh, you've both been busy. I've done that with curtains before and Keith always tells me measure twice, cut once! Grrrrr! I was hoping to see a photo of the finished room and curtains - it sounds a very peaceful colourway. Is there a harmonious quilt to go with the curtain fabric? I bet you were so glad to see Susan sewing your curtains : )

    All that food looked amazing - but you did have lots of folks to entertain and keep fed. I am sure it was a wonderful visit. We rarely have family visiting here, they tend to stick to their own patches, especially Keith's brother who only leaves Essex on holidays abroad.

  5. Busy, busy, busy! I've never found cats to be of much assistance with practical tasks but Susan can visit me with one of those trifles any time she wants!

  6. Whew! I'm exhausted just reading about what you two have done! I think I need a "Susan". The curtains sound lovely. Can't wait for pictures! And that looks like a wonderful spread. You're guest must have been thrilled.


  7. I always enjoy your posts full of your life and critters.

    You two have been so busy. I hope this winter will find you snuggly in your new home, relaxing more in your new normal.


  8. Sounds like you had a near perfect gathering of family! Made doubly delightful when then are many hands willing to contribute to the festivities and the cleanup
    afterwards. Most years my DH's family gathers in one spot or another for Thanksgiving Day and the weekend following. Everyone signs up to bring contributions to all the meals and a wonderful time is had by all. Sadly this years gathering just isn't to be.

  9. How wonderful to have your family gathering at your new home. I always say there's nothing like having guests to get me motivated to get jobs done. Your food looks amazing!!!

  10. The food all looks so wonderful - freshly baked bread always looks the best to me. Interested to hear about the trip to Shaker Village. We visited there often 20 years or so ago, but it's been ages since I've been back. Such a lovely place for out-of-town visitors to go.