Wednesday, December 27, 2017

26 December, Pantry Renovation Continues

A grey morning with temps hovering at freezing.  The Rose of Sharon/hibiscus growing at the edge of the side porch wore a few icicles.  I wonder if it caught water dripping from the porch roof.

Charlie and Willow sharing opposite ends of a toppled tree trunk in the scrubby woods
 bordering the drive.

Willis picking his way across the frosted side lawn.

The first shelf installed on the long wall of the pantry.
 There were two in place at the end of the work day.  
The pantry renovation got off to a slightly bumpy start this morning.  We went early to a hardware store in Liberty to buy a tub of wallpaper adhesive.  Back at home, I found a large plastic wash pan, carefully stirred a little water into a dollop of adhesive per instructions on the label, spread out the first strip of wallpaper and proceeded to brush on adhesive.

[This followed an argument/discussion with Jim who insisted the adhesive should 
be applied to the wall.] 
 We maneuvered the floppy length of paper into position and began the process of adjusting and smoothing.  As soon as we pressed down the edges they popped up and tried to curl. I attempted to smooth out wrinkles working from the bottom up--Jim who was fussing at the top of the strip seemed to be pressing in more wrinkles.  The strip of wallpaper was having trouble adhering to the carefully primed wall, so I peeled it back while Jim brushed more adhesive behind it.

After 10 minutes of struggling, noting Jim's mounting exasperation, I reluctantly decided to abandon the plan of papering that wall.
I've done a fair amount of successful wallpapering in the past, don't know why this attempt wasn't working.  I do know I couldn't summon the patience or the energy to cope with a process that wasn't promising satisfactory results.
I pulled the strip of paper off the wall and bundled it out to the woodstove.

Jim thumped off to the workshop and I was left to sponge slimy adhesive residue from the wall.
Faced now with an extra space to paint I assessed my remaining Antique White paint and knew it wouldn't stretch to cover two walls.
There is always a plan B.
I had about 3 quarts of satin paint in a soft apricot/beige color called 'Sugared Almond' [paint names are so fanciful] which we used in the downstairs bath.
Stirring this into the remaining Antique White gave me nearly a gallon of paint in a warm sandy color.  It covered the long wall--finally obscuring any hint of blue--as well as the short wall behind the door [the one destined originally for wallpaper] and around the window wall. The final wall can't be tackled until the shelving in progress is finished.  

While my vision for the pantry had to be jettisoned, I wasn't willing to make the 30 mile round trip on the chance that Wal Mart had a gallon of premixed Antique White on hand--the local store isn't consistent  in its paint stock.

So--the project is moving along.  I think we've gotten past what looked like complications.  I've adjusted my thinking, we're working to make the best of the existing conditions; I've been frugal in making do with the paint on hand.
Tomorrow should see the back wall shelves completed and [hopefully] most of the clutter sorted and back in place.

 Nellie is not happy that the arrangement of crockery prevents him from settling in front of the window.  The cats are displeased with the disruption of the kitchen. 
I reassure them--and myself--that the end results will be worth the muddle.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Day in the Morning [and Afternoon--and Evening]

Not having posted since Thursday, I need to back up a bit.
Friday, 22nd December, was our son Howard's birthday.  He and his wife Dawn planned to be with us by early afternoon, returning home to Tennessee on Sunday.
I needed to make the desserts for our special meal together, as well as do some last minute tidying.

Jim decided to bring in the big black cupboard. He didn't announce his intentions--I glanced out the kitchen window and saw the cupboard being trundled round to the back door on the furniture dolly, so rushed to be helpful.
We were quickly in agreement that the Hoosier cabinet needed to move to the space vacated by the little hutch; the black cupboard fits perfectly between the two windows that look out to the front porch.  Not wanting to leave it empty I scrounged up several vintage items and set them on top. 

Howard and Dawn [and the dogs] roared in about 1 o'clock, having  driven through rain much of the way. The day here was dark, but only an intermittent mist coming down.
Jim whisked Howard off on one of those mysterious  errands which are best described as 'going to see a man about a horse   a truck!'
Dawn tied on an apron and stirred up a batch of her famous pumpkin bread.
Various of our cats pretended they had never seen the dogs, Katie and Dixie, and went into hiding.

We had invited dear friends to share the meal and had all set out buffet style by the time they arrived at 6. By then Chester-cat--who suffers from various anxieties--had attached himself to Howard.

Rain pounded down in torrents all of Friday night, drumming on the roof.
By morning the brook bed was full of foaming brown water,  pastures were sodden. 
It was still raining in desultory fashion when Howard and Dawn loaded up to leave just after noon on Sunday.  We had exchanged gifts, sending them off with their choice of two of the shelves we made and a lovely basket made by a local Amish family.
Dawn had chosen treasures for me, including a huge amaryllis bulb in a tall glass planter.  You'll be seeing more of that.

The house always seems a bit too quiet, a little forlorn, when beloved guests leave for home.
I took sheets and towels downstairs to the laundry, pottered around a bit, then made myself a snack: several slices of pumpkin bread with cinnamon butter, Earl Grey tea, and a new magazine to enjoy while I ate.

Christmas with our daughter and her family has to be postponed a few days--
Gina has worked a long stretch of overtime which has included this holiday weekend.
With Christmas church participation accomplished,  celebrating early with Howard and Dawn, we had nothing special planned for today.
After a run of wet and gloomy days, we woke to a cold [24 F] and frosty morning and the marvel of sunshine.

Smoke was billowing from the chimney at the lower house when I stepped onto our front porch with kibble for the outdoor cats.

As the sun rose higher in a brilliantly blue sky I went out with my camera.
Bobby Mac was ready to come inside and warm his paws after a morning foray. 
[This photo shows how the lower loop of the drive runs between the back of the house and the workshop.]

I love the view from the upstairs windows--the glint of ice in the brook, the billy goats in their pasture.

The cats were finding comfy places to nap and I was contemplating a book, tea, my rocking chair by the fire.

While I was considering my options, Jim wandered into the pantry--just stood there.
We had eaten a hearty breakfast--he couldn't be looking for a snack.
After a moment of observing his strange behavior I asked, " Are you looking for something?'
'No,' he replied, 'But you need to take everything off the pantry shelves.'
I wasn't sure I understood.
'You mean--move things out into the kitchen? Now?' 
'Yes, now. That shelf is about to collapse!'

I have grumbled about the pantry for three years. 
The Amish of the neighborhood are skilled craftsmen--known for their fine work in leather--the houses they have built are sturdy, stoutly constructed. But--the interior finishing leaves much to be desired. The pantry shelving was haphazardly cobbled together--pieces of door trim nailed up as supports, the shelves not quite level.  When I returned my big canisters of flour and sugar to the pantry after my recent baking marathon I noticed that the shelf seemed wonkier than usual.

Howard, from his vantage point in the rocking chair, cat on lap, had remarked, 'Those shelves are going to collapse one of these days.'
[Howard has even less patience than his father with shoddy construction!]

The day for a pantry renovation having arrived as a Christmas special, I lost no time in emptying the shelves. Jim did stipulate that we would tackle one wall of shelves at a time.

I cleared my sewing table of sewing machine, tools and oddments and began bringing out crocks and glass containers.

Jim dragged in an old table from the shop and begin gathering tools.

The kitchen rapidly took on the appearance of an untidy jumble sale.
It is rather astonishing to think that all this collection was housed on one side of the pantry.
I am determined that it will not all be returned there!
Jim tore out the old shelving with a great wrenching of nails, took measurements, headed to the shop.
  I asked if we would be buying laminated shelving at Lowes.
'Not l ikely!  I have plenty of lumber, why would I use laminated stuff?'

This not being a day when one could shop for paint, I began collecting buckets of leftover paint, hoping we had enough of something suitable for the walls. 
I mixed two shades of off white flat for the ceiling.
Jim remembered some paint was left from work at the lower house, so I trudged down in the sparkling cold to ask my neighbor if she had seen it.
I came back with about 2/3 of a gallon of 'Antique White' in satin finish.
Ideally I should have primed the walls to cover the ubiquitous blue with which Amish women paint all the rooms of a house.

 I had less than a quart of primer, so went at the walls with my finish paint hoping for the best.  Two light coats of paint have made for reasonable coverage, though not quite as good a 'hide' as I hoped.
I decided to do the end wall in a vintage wallpaper I've harbored for years.
It was 9 o'clock  this evening when I decided that the 'pre-pasted' feature hadn't endured through 20 years of storage.
Tomorrow is another day, the hardware store will be open and hopefully carries wallpaper adhesive. 
Coming downstairs in the morning to bedlam in the kitchen won't be inspiring, but I've never lived through a renovation/building project where things didn't look worse before starting to improve.

I'm content with the way our Christmas Day has been spent--not your ordinary holiday, but we did pause for a decent dinner: tossed salad, baked potato and venison steak--the venison a gift from our grandson. 
Christmas Day--done and dusted for another year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice

Sunshine was brief on this shortest day of the year.
I didn't note the time when the sun crawled over the eastern ridge, casting a red-gold warmth against the opposite ridge.  
The woods beyond the tractor shed were still in shadow when we caught sight of five deer flowing down the steep hill to cross the dry brook bed and vault up the facing ridge.
The deers' coats have thickened in preparation for colder weather, fading from the warm tawny hue of spring to a somber dusty dun-color which allows them to blend into the winter landscape.

Jim left on an errand before 9;  I gathered sheets and towels for laundry, puttered about at the usual morning tasks of tidying bedroom and bathrooms.
I pegged sheets on the clothesline, although by that time the sun had been blotted out by a canopy of pearl grey cloud.

I walked down the lane with an offering of apple peels, carrot and celery trimmings--appreciated by the four billy goats who are sharing a pasture now that the breeding season has passed.

I stopped at the stable to visit with my neighbor while she milked the goats.
The barn cats purred around my ankles, but I had brought no treat for them. I spoke to each one by name, patted their heads. 
They are all plump, sleek in what Dylan Thomas called their winter 'fur-abouts.'

The two Pyrenees guard dogs in their respective enclosures let forth a volley of barking as the mailman trundled up the road in his noisy old vehicle.
I waited in the stable doorway until he had turned around at the end of the road and returned to poke mail into our box at the end of the lane. 
I collected the mail--an inviting magazine to put aside for after the holiday--and headed toward home.  I walked along the flower borders, wishing I had time for some pruning and tidying on this mild misty day. 

Predictably, I've not been as efficient today as yesterday. Laundry dealt with; clean sheets on the bed; a quick trip to the Beachy Amish produce farm and an enjoyable chat with the oldest daughter there who was minding the shop.
Jim turned up moments after my return.
We worked together to finish our wood projects--worked without kindling a fire in the shop. When we came out Jim remarked that it was warmer outside in late afternoon than it had been in the building.

This evening I cleared my belongings out of the vintage maple hutch which our son will be taking, with its matching drop leaf table, to his sister-in-law. 
Such a task is frustrating--what to do with the oddments that collect on shelves and in drawers and seem to have no logical new place to land. 
I stand dithering--hands full of assorted clobber--one thing hinges upon another--where do I put the spools of thread I had ranged along the shelves--folders and papers stored underneath are in a big box--the box dragged into the sun room with a designation of 'I'll deal with that later!'

Edward insisted that the newly cleared space was an ideal spot for him to spend the evening.

I wanted to bring in the big cupboard tonight--Jim was not so inclined. 
We have measured and discovered that either the big [now black] cupboard can fit the space that will be vacated by the hutch--or--my vintage Hoosier cupboard can go there.  I am considering how best to position the edited collection of furniture--and suspect that morning will bring a bedlam of things shoved here and there, and a bit of bickering over the final arrangement.
Jim has a better sense of spaces than I do--but my sense of aesthetics is superior.
We shall see!
And, in the meantime, having unwittingly lost my 'things to do' lists, I am granted absolution if not all is accomplished!

Expectations, Reality, Focus

I looked towards the woods once this morning and saw blue sky above the trees.  When I looked again the sky had reverted to the shades of grey which have been with us for a week or more.

Snowstorms of significance are rare in south/central Kentucky. 
Unless the sun brightens the day, the landscape is subdued--quiet colors.

My carefully plotted list of things which should be done this week did not include an outing.
Still, when Jim announced on Tuesday morning that he needed to convey a truck engine to a mechanic two hours away, I packed up and went along.
It is my turn to present the lesson study at church this week and since I can read while riding, I managed to do my look-ups and make notes during our journey, needing only an hour in the evening to edit and type.
I've been working on some music--learning an accompaniment from youtube and getting the melody line written down. At some point I would like to 'play' with one of the computer programs that can create a score, transpose, etc.
So, what with music running through my head, sorting the lesson helps and being given breakfast at a decent cafe, the day was well spent.

I managed to tidy [somewhat] the kitchen counters this morning before launching into a marathon of cooking/baking for the weekend.
Tomorrow is a cleaning day.
I am more or less on track with what I need to do--but my expectations always exceed the reality of  my stamina. 
There was a time when I could multi-task fairly well.  Now I get distracted, disorganized.
I have to remind myself to focus my energies, not to waste time.

I made a large kettle of soup this morning; preparing the ingredients for a hearty soup is a calming task: beef cut in small pieces to brown with onion while carrots. potatoes and celery are diced fine, broth added, bay leaf, barley, thyme, minced garlic---the homey smell of it as the whole mixture comes to a gentle simmer.
It has been cooled and stored in the spare fridge in the garage.

I nipped out to the workshop this morning for a few minutes, ran a piece of 600 grit sandpaper over our shelves as a final smoothing.
Jim brought in his finished rustic shelf and proceeded to become exasperated while hanging it.
The Amish carpenters who built the house apparently [according to Jim] were unable to set the wall studs at a consistent 16 inches on center--which limits how things can be safely hung.
We are both pleased with the shelf.

Most of the items displayed belonged to my Grampa Mac. Jim found the vintage scribing tool [on the shelf] in Wyoming along with the cowbell and the smaller torch.  I rescued the vandalized horse weather vane from behind a garage in Vermont.  The old branding iron came from the farm we owned in Vermont--a "G" for the Goodrich family who had been there for several generations.
Jim is trying to learn more about the use of brands in early New England.

I had to push myself to make pastry after supper. Flopping into my rocking chair was a strong temptation. I had intended making pastry shells and putting them in the freezer to be brought out this weekend.  Jim suggested he peel apples for a pie to be baked immediately.
These are some of the Northern Spies brought 'home' from Vermont last month by Matt and Gina.

It has been sampled and I can attest that it is a delicious pie!
Jim's favorite molasses cookies are in the jar, a casserole is in the freezer.
The casserole presented the only hitch in my plans.
I opened two recently purchased packages of lasagna noodles [expiration date August, 2018] and discovered that the noodles were infested with horrid little bugs.

I didn't want them in the house overnight!  It was dark as a pocket outside when I rushed out holding the boxes of noodles at arm's length.  I decided I didn't need to risk colliding with one of Jim's tractors on my way to the compost heap beyond the stable, nor to trip over a wandering possum or otherwise come to grief.
I pitched the noodles over the wall, came inside to thrust the cardboard packages into the fire.
Since moving to the 'south' I've kept all my pantry staples in glass containers with screw tops or rubber seals.  Hopefully nothing on the pantry shelves was vulnerable to these creatures which came in with the groceries.
The casserole became rigatoni layered with the sauce and cheese meant for lasagna.

Not a riveting or thoughtful post tonight, merely a rambling account of my run-up to the holidays.
I have lost my 'to do' lists; how will I know if I get 'it' all done?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday's Progress Report

The weather didn't improve today, other than being slightly warmer.
The lower farmhouse was nearly lost in damp mist early this morning.

The boy cats went outside, came back with moisture sparkling in their long fur.
Each time I scurried between the lower back door and the workshop my glasses were spotted with mist.

Jim had a fire warming the shop by 10, a cozy place to get on with our woodworking.
I think he's caught a vision--designing some rustic shelves.

The 'blue' cupboard in its red phase. I was tempted to leave it like this.
My method of layering colors may not be according to standard procedure, but I like the results.
The cupboard is now wearing another coat of Cannonball Black with a hint of the dark red showing through. 

Jim's  finished creation of a rustic shelf, ready for a brushing of satin poly.
He made the pegs from a slender cedar branch--pruned from one of the cedars that appear at the left side of my morning photos.
The wood is red oak, our own harvest.

This is the unique board that Jim discovered in his lumber stack yesterday. 
The shadings are more defined than is visible in my photo.

This beautifully marked board has been fashioned into a hanging rack for a quilt. 
We aren't sure what variety of tree this came from; possibly the unusual coloration indicates that the center of the tree was diseased. I'm pleased that it is having a useful and decorative second life. 

Final coats of paint/poly were applied to several racks which are awaiting installation of hooks. 
I'm down to an odd assortment--not enough left of any one style to complete a project. 

Meanwhile, the house looks disheveled, although I hurried through the usual tidying of bedroom and bathrooms, washed, dried and folded laundry.
I am not a competent multi-tasker!

Done-- And To Be Done

The bedroom was dark at 6 o'clock this Sunday morning, murky grey, shapes blurred, no hint of color. The only spill of light was the glow of the nightlight in the hall which outlined the half-open door. I was comfortable, the cats were not yet stirring, so I lay quietly, watchful--expecting the quilt on the rack to warm into familiar muted shades of red, gold, brown and russet, pictures on the wall to assume their familiar identity.
Five minutes, fifteen minutes; 6:20 and the room still a cavern of mid-winter gloom.
I levered myself upright, dislodging a cat or two, felt for my slippers, plodded downstairs. 
The boy cats clamored, wanting out, still they hesitated warily when I trudged through the garage and opened the side door. 
The 'barn cats' milled about as I tipped kibble into their bowls on the front porch.

Sally-cat, having put the boys in their place, escorted me to the side porch steps.
A plume of smoke was ascending straight up from our renter's chimney, a reminder that I needed to deal with my own fire.
I raked glowing coals into a heap, fed in slivers of scrap wood from the bin near the black range.
There is a sense of ritual to rekindling the fire each morning: slender lengths of kindling stand ready in a bucket, the rack behind the stove is stocked with large chunks on the top shelf for easy handling; the bottom tier holds 'limb wood' and finer split pieces.
Satisfied that the fire is burning brightly I pull on an assortment of warm clothes [not exactly 'dressed for the day!'] 
I take down Jim's stainless steel percolator, measure water and coffee, give Teasel-cat her pinch of dried catnip, turn on my PC.
When Jim comes downstairs [he is dressed for his day!] he will immediately check the fire--poke at the burning wood, add a big chunk, fiddle with the way I have set the drafts.
This morning he reminded me that by another weekend we will have reached the turning point, the solstice, and can watch as, nearly imperceptibly at first, the days lengthen.

Cold mornings call for hearty comfort food; Jim likes French toast with maple syrup. During the  week we've enjoyed oatmeal porridge, scrambled eggs, grapefruit.
Do you see a cat on the table?
I do not encourage cats on the table!  
Bobby Mac decided to become Jim's special friend, ingratiating himself, offering his companionship after the death of elderly Siamese Raisin in September, 2015.
Unlike Raisin, Bobby Mac is soft-spoken, but his body language is eloquent.

Bobby doesn't 'steal' food, but he does accept tidbits if something is to his liking.
For the squeamish, I offer the assurance that the table is wiped down before and after each meal!

This morning's breakfast was blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, turkey sausage patties, fruit.
While I tidied the kitchen, Jim pulled up the doplar weather map and announced that our day was not likely to become any brighter.
I reminded him that I have been waiting [not really patiently] for his assistance with my wood-working projects, some intended as Christmas gifts.

The 'big blue cupboard' with a base coat of "Canonball Black." 
As of this evening it now sports a second paint coat--"Aged Bordeaux."

We have, together, achieved a gratifying amount of production in the workshop today!
I didn't take my camera with me to the shop, so documentation must wait for tomorrow.
I carried out the latest batch of painted 'racks' that were awaiting the installation of hooks. 
I requested a hanging rack with shelf, which Jim constructed from oak, selecting a board from his stash to plane and trim to length.
He reminded me that the oak had been harvested during our first winter here.  That day came vividly to my memory--a bit of snow on the ground, sunshine, the whine of Jim's chainsaw, the scent of the forest clinging to each length of firewood that I tossed into the bed of the truck.
The heavy tree trunk was dragged up the road to our Amish neighbor's mill and the resulting 
rough-sawn boards have cured in neat stacks on the workshop porch.

While I hand sanded the newly crafted shelf, Jim brought in another board to run through the planer. 
The wood is beautifully streaked with shades of green and purple/brown. 
I pounced on it, my imagination fired by the thought of a hanging shelf/rack for displaying a quilt. 

We haggled over the design. [I have ideas, but lack the practical skills to build them!]
As the pieces for the rack were cut, I hovered, sure that it was going together the wrong way. I can't visualize the end product correctly when the components are turned over to be nailed or fastened from a different angle.
When I sensed that Jim was becoming a bit aggravated by my lack of comprehension, it seemed prudent to let him continue construction while I served the cats their 'afternoon tea' and put sweet potatoes in the oven to bake.

We went back into the shop after supper. 
Jim tided up his tools while I applied a coat of paint to my big cupboard. 
When he went to the house [mere steps from the workshop] there was only the gentle crackle of the ebbing fire for company as I brushed clear satin poly onto the two new shelves.

A decorative cutting board repurposed to  keep potholders near the cooktop.

I've sat this evening making lists, prioritizing the things I must do to be ready for the weekend: menu for a birthday supper; plan the 'do-ahead' food, shop for the few food items not already in pantry or fridge;  schedule time [when in my right mind] to prepare for my participation in the church Christmas program; finish the projects in the workshop; hoover up cat hair [repeat as needed.] 

Remember to sit in my rocking chair at intervals--with tea, with Teasel-cat.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Sighting At Dusk

One of the deer visiting on a Sunday in October

The doe moved, a dainty side-stepping, at the moment I lifted my eyes to the window.  My hands stilled, the slicing of tomatoes and a yellow pepper halted as I scanned the rapidly darkening woods beyond the stable, expecting to see several other deer move gracefully down the steep hill. 

The little band of deer, usually a group of four or five, are a familiar presence, often seen crossing through the scrubby saplings beyond the retaining wall or picking their way along the dry stream bed behind the workshop. 
The doe seemed to be on her own, an indistinct wraith of a creature, her grey-brown coat blending with the quiet hues of tree trunks, melting into a surround of fallen leaves the color of old pennies.

As I watched, with a sense that she was aware of my serveillance, she flagged her white tail, and with a glance over her shoulder strolled past the half-dead sycamore and disappeared behind a brush pile. 
I resumed preparation of the salad, fretting aloud to Jim that the doe was alone.  He suggested, reasonably enough, that others of the family group may have passed through ahead of the doe or might be making their way through the woods out of sight.

Our lane meanders past the lower farmhouse and barn, dividing where the ground rises to the house on one side, the workshop on the other.  The shallow valley narrows, wooded ridges rear steeply to east and west.  Trees and underbrush close in beyond the stable that once sheltered an Amish buggy and the stall for a horse.  In summer the ranks of trees create a green darkness; on a sunny day in mid-winter branches are etched in elegant tracery against a blue sky.  
For each time that we notice the deer making their light-footed way down the hillside, there are doubtless many more when their quiet visitation is unseen.

With the doe out of sight we got on with supper, switching on lights in the kitchen as the sun disappeared behind the western ridge.

I was not thinking of deer 40 minutes later when, hastily pulling on a jacket, I went out with the veg peelings to be tossed on the compost pile. The sky to the north was a deep inky blue; looking southward it was a swirl of grey, faintly lavender streaked, touching the darkness where Spruce Pine Creek flows beyond the meadow.
Above the bare treetops contrails had brushed a wide and fraying "X." A thinner line of fading white unraveled above the eastern ridge.  The colors of Jim's tractors, parked in the former stable, were barely discernible in the gloaming, red, green, blue.  Sally, the contrary barn cat, was a blurred shape crouched on the wall. 
I was startled when the doe bolted past me on the other side of the board fence, a faint warning snuffle, a rustling of small hooves in damp grass. 
I crunched across the dooryard gravel, shook the contents of the compost bucket in the general direction of the refuse heap where they would likely make an evening meal for one of the omnipresent possums that trundle about on the edge of darkness.

The wind was picking up, a soft but definite riffle through the long-dried stems of goldenrod and frost asters. The scent of wood smoke mingled with the smell of cold earth. From somewhere up the ridge an owl called, a response floated back in mournful cadence from deeper in the woods.

I shivered, hurried through the garage and opened the back door to the lingering essence of an afternoon's baking--the homey aroma of fresh bread, of coconut and maple, of vanilla and spice.
A glance out the window as I moved toward the warmth of the wood stove, confirmed that in the space of a few moments twilight had deepened, erasing colors, blotting out the lines of stable and workshop, enveloping deer, owls, possums and barn cats in the soft dark cloak of a winter night.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Projects Update/Aprons and Paint

The refinishing of the vintage blue cupboard has loomed over me as the last [?] of my large painting projects.  I bought it in the mid 1980's when we lived in Vermont.  A neighbor with New Jersey connections made frequent trips there to purchase antiques.  He offered me the cupboard with the option of choosing the paint color. I decided on 'Cupboard Blue' from the Old Village line of oil-based paints.  The cupboard fit well in our small log cabin home, where I used it for the storage of china and glassware.
During the Wyoming years the cupboard moved with us from house to house serving various functions.

Our first Kentucky house was small; when Jim renovated half of the basement as a sewing and craft area, the blue cupboard lived in that space, the shelves holding part of my fabric stash.
In an ill-considered moment I decided to paint the cupboard green.  It wasn't a wise move.
A local shop carried the paints in 'historic' colors, but oil-based was no longer available. 
To shorten the tale of woe, I can testify that 'milk paint' over oil-based isn't a reliable bond.

The cupboard doors were made of tongue and groove, the fit not precise.
I've wondered if the doors were a later addition to this rather primitive piece.  Removing the hardware to lift off the doors proved a daunting task which required Jim to use a chisel and hammer to loosen the elderly hinges. 
I've set the doors aside for later consideration--I may not reinstall them.

I began work on the cupboard where it has been sitting since our move here nearly three years ago--in the basement room which leads out to the back porch.
I went at the thing rather grimly with the power sander, sought advice regarding primer, applied a coat of Zinsser oil-based which son Howard assured me would prevent any possibility of 'issues' from the residue of the old paint.
The change in weather made the basement too chilly for happy painting, so this afternoon Jim trundled the cupboard across the graveled space and into his shop where the wood stove made for a friendlier work space.
The cupboard is now wearing a base coat of Valspar Cannonball Black in  satin finish.
The shelves don't need repainting.
The final coats of paint shouldn't present much challenge.

I took advantage of the warm shop to paint the frame of a small bench, as well as some other small pieces.
Painting 'rungs' and avoiding drips or runs is challenging.

When not painting I've been sewing--yet more aprons!
I've wished I could sell a few of these--they go for fancy prices in online shops, but I lack a proper venue locally, although the little store and cafe on the corner is happy to display them along with the work of other area artists and crafters.
I sent a few away on consignment months ago, but that venture seems to have faded out.

The aprons have been appreciated as gifts and I enjoy sourcing the materials through ebay or etsy, but it may be time to quit making them.

While rummaging through bins of fabric I located the remnants of a favorite bed sheet-- strips salvaged when the center of the sheet became worn.
The cotton is silky, washed to a pleasant softness.
I use a king size pillow--Jim has a smaller one, so a regular set of pillowcases doesn't suit.
An hour's work and we have matching pillowslips in the designated sizes--and I can give a nod to my heritage of 'Yankee' thrift. 
I finished up that rainy afternoon by patching the elbows of several work shirts which Jim refuses to consign to the ragbag. 
If you've patched shirt elbows lately you know its a job destined to leave one feeling cantankerous!

At least my sewing table is cleared and I can see the end of the big cupboard renovation.
Tomorrow should bring a day of reckoning with the dust kittens that have accumulated in corners;  Jim ate the last slices of homemade bread with warmed over spaghetti for supper, so baking heads the list of 'things to do!'