Saturday, July 23, 2016

Green Grow the Rushes Oh

Our lawn is green! It's about darn time! It has responded to several years of TLC, including fertilizer, aeration, water and mowing.

When we first bought the house the front "lawn" was in reality a thistle field. The thistles were about 4 feet tall. We cut. We sprayed. We dug out plants. (We still fight the thistles... they aren't all gone!)

Because of all of the spraying, our "lawn" was more realistically a dirt field.
With a few patches of weeds and some tufts of grass here and there.

Moving Day
Even the deer passed our lawn by. 
Nothing there worth eating!

After about two years of spraying and digging out thistles, and other obnoxious weeds, I began to concentrate on making the area green. I decided to plant a dryland prairie mix of seeds, so it wouldn't need as much water once it was established. Each year I treated the little patch of lawn to soil conditioners, fertilizer, broadleaf weed preventative and lots of mowing. This year, although it is a lawn of "many colors" being comprised of a variety of native grasses, it is thick and lush and very green. It looks great!

Oh, and did I mention it grows incessantly and requires constant mowing? Perhaps I should have begun a new landscaping trend by leaving the front yard "in dirt"!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Project: Tabled

This project has been in the works, seemingly forever! I saw a table in a local artisan shop on our travels that inspired me. The artist had created designs with a wood burning tool, and then painted, or  more likely stained the table in different colors. The colors were soft, and in my favorite autumn palette. I probably saw that table 3 years ago... maybe more!

I thought about it, 

a lot! 

I decided I wanted to make one, myself! 

I looked around for tables at antique stores, junk emporiums, resale shops and thrift shops. I never found any that appealed to me, at a cost I was willing to pay, knowing that I was going to try doing something to the table that might ruin it. So there I sat, drumming my fingers on the kitchen table. An old table. A cheap table. One we had purchased 30 years ago, paying something like $79 for the table and four chairs. You've all seen them... they had dark green or white legs and a blonde top. The chairs had the natural colored seat and white or green legs and back. 

Yeah, something like this picture from a catalog...

So there I sat, as I said, drumming my fingers, thinking.... and the thought I was thinking was, what's the worst thing that could happen? I could ruin our almost ancient, cheap, scarred, kitchen table. It was already kinda ugly..... why the heck not?!

I sketched a half dozen ideas out on paper. I searched online for other ideas. I finally decided what I wanted and enlarged the design, sketching it out on pieces of sketch paper taped together. Then, I folded it up and put it on a shelf, where it sat for a year or so. I was only a bit intimidated by the next step!

My son gave me a wood-burning tool. He knew that the plan for my table had been sitting on the shelf for months. OK, said I, let's try it. I grabbed some scrap pieces of wood and practiced wood burning. Oh, my. My attempts were horrible! I tried some more. I wasn't pleased. 

Here is one of my experimental boards

I considered other alternatives, but always came back to wood burning. I liked the look. I practiced some more. Slowly, my attempts came close to being acceptable.  I sanded the table. Oh, and I sanded some more. And now have discovered.... I didn't sand enough!! But, this is what the table looked like after hours of sanding.

I used large graphite paper to transfer my design, and I began working with the wood burning tool. My table lived under quilted table cloths,
for months!!

My next step was coloring the leaves. I experimented with colored pencils and water colors on my practice boards. I preferred the shading I could get with water colors, but I was concerned that the color might run when I applied the finish. I tested on my sample boards. It seemed to be OK. But.... I put it off for a few more months. I guess I just didn't want to know what might happen!! 

I ran out of excuses! 
We weren't on the road. The garden is planted. My dad is doing OK. 
It was time to stain the table and apply the finish so my project could be finished!!
It was time to seal the table so I didn't have to worry about 
what might happen if we spilled liquids on it. 
It was time!

I pulled out the wood conditioner and stain and went to work. 

I appealed to Mr. Dreamy, who used to repair furniture for a living.
He helped me apply the top coat. 

Oh, my.....
I LOVE my project!

I can only wonder why it took me this long?!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor...

We have all heard the US Postman's creed: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." And, we probably all know that it isn't really an oath of the US Postal Service, although it is inscribed on the John Farley US Postal building in New York City. But in my mind one could always count on the USPS to get your mail from point A to point B, albeit a bit slower than we like on occasion. But total dereliction of duty?

I received this email notification yesterday morning. Sounds legitimate enough, but why, asked I (with my enquiring mind) was the postman unable to deliver my package?

Was it too large to fit in my mail box?


Was I not home to receive it if the guy wanted to put it in my hands?


Was it something that required special handling?


Curiouser and curiouser.

Mr. Dreamy wandered out to our mailbox to look for the aforementioned notice.  There was no notice in the box. There wasn't a slip of paper in there. Nothing.... except for two stamped letters I had placed in the box the previous morning so they could go on their way to destinations not so far away. The little flag, the one that tells Mr. Postman to stop and pick up outgoing mail, was upright. A silent sentinel keeping vigil over my documents. 

Curiouser and curiouser.

Mr. Dreamy wandered into town to the local Post Office to pick up the missing package, and to enquire as to why the postman was unable to deliver the package, and to enquire as to why the postman did not pick up our outgoing mail. And the reason? 

Are you ready for this?

The carrier quit!! In the middle of his rounds he apparently decided the heck with it, turned his little postal truck around, drove back to the post office, parked the truck in the back yard (still full of mail), walked into the inner sanctums of the office, proffered his keys and announced, 

"I Quit!"

How crazy is that? I hope the poor guy has some other job to fall back on. I am thinking he might not get very good recommendations from his former employer!

The outcome of the story from my point of view is that I did finally get my package, and thanks to the kindness of Mr. Dreamy,  my letters are on their way, and I had something I found to be a bit interesting to post on my blog today!