Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Finished Another Piece of Furniture

Earlier this year, I finished my very first piece of refinished furniture: a bench from Nicole the Knitter. Just tonight, I have finished my second piece of furniture: a Domestic Sewing Machine cabinet, from a former roommate of Nicole the Knitter.

I got it in late 2013, when her roommate dropped it off at my house. It lived in the garage until tonight. This is what it looked like when I got it. The roommate was getting rid of it because it took up a lot of space in the garage and he didn't have time to refinish it like he wanted to. He actually got this from someone who was going to throw it out.

As I said before, it's mahogany. Once the lid was opened, the polyurethane or clear varnish on it, was flaking off. There may have been water damage at one time, on the top and down the center of the back.

The machine inside was a Domestic Rotary machine, series 153. The piece originated in Cleveland, OH and was built sometime in the 1950's.  It had ALL of the attachments and even the owner's manual. I wasn't interested in the machine, though. I already have my own machine, and I knew I'd be getting my mom's machine at some point.

The plug end of the cord was frayed and it needed to be replaced before I even felt safe in plugging it in. I figured it wouldn't be worth the cost, to me, to get it repaired and tuned up. I had it up for sale on Craigslist and even at a yard sale, but after a month no nibbles, I gave the entire machine, plus the attachments, to a thrift store.

I knew as soon as I saw it, this piece needed to be painted, because I wanted to try something different from the bench, which was a case of re-staining.

I used Behr Marquee in an eggshell finish to paint it. The "outside" (lavender) is Composer's Magic (from the Opulence color line), and the "inside" is Prussian Plum (from the Dynasty color line). Behr advertises the Marquee paints cover in one coat, guaranteed. I didn't find that to be the case, as I needed two coats of each color. However, maybe that's the difference between coverage on drywall and on wood.
Because I wasn't going to keep the machine in place, I measured out the top opening and got some 3/4" thick plywood and a bunch of brackets. I flipped the cabinet upside down, cut the plywood to fit inside the opening (thankfully, this was completely square) and bracketed it in from the bottom. Now, it's solid all the way across. I'm pretty sure I could sit on that part of the cabinet and it would support me!

Yep, that's actually argyle printed Duck Tape on the cabinet. I picked up a couple rolls of it when I worked at AC Moore. I knew I was going to find a way to use it with this project...because really, who doesn't like argyle? It actually is on the top and bottom of the cabinet, on the front, back and sides. I didn't put any on the top front though, because I liked that expanse of lavender when the drawers are closed (see above photo). I actually put 2-3 coats of Minwax clear polyurethane over it, per some advice from my father-in-law. That tape isn't coming off anytime in the near future!

I bribed Nicole the Knitter with supper last night to help me lug this thing upstairs from the garage to my crafting room. I put the drawers in and the top pieces on after we got it up here. I decided to swap out the original drawer pulls with some new Art Deco inspired glass knobs. I did reuse the original hinges and screws on top though. I used spray primer and paint to redo those. For some reason, the handles didn't like that paint and dried very unevenly. I thought that was odd, because I did them all at the same time and at the same temperature.

My supervisor, Orion, approved of the new knobs. She checked them over for me, as I was installing them. In this picture, you almost can't even see the plywood I fit into the opening. I had painted the top  with 1 coat of the Plum, put in the raw plywood, and painted it 2 more times.

Inside the drawers, after they were painted, I sprayed in about 5-6 thin coats of Minwax aerosol clear polyurethane. This was leftover from a previous project (which was also the case of the silver spray paint I used for the hinges). Then they each got an additional two more coats of poly brushed on. I wanted to make sure the inside of the drawers were very well protected.

I realized as I worked on this piece, that with the plywood insert on top, this would make a great little desk for a kid, or even a simple desk for an adult. Or if you worked a little longer with it, you could fit a mirror to it, change the top pieces around, and turn it into a vanity for a girl's bedroom. It's definitely a versatile piece of furniture.

I took my time with this refinishing and I'd wildly proud of how it turned out. There were places I should have gone a little more lightly with the poly, and you can see them if you look closely. But this is a solid piece of furniture that I'll have for a long time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tegucigalpa Tuesday

For some reason, I've been thinking about this photo I took, the more I hear about the missing beauty pageant contestant and her sister, from Honduras.

I took this photo in August 2007 when I went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for work. We were only there for a few days, and at the time, I was working for a children's medical charity.

This little girl was waiting for an appointment with a doctor at the clinic. She had been born with a cleft lip and I think a cleft palate.

I loved this photo. She's just standing there, resting her head on her mother's pregnant tummy. Her mother didn't even notice me standing there, or at the very least, she didn't care about the weird white chick taking their photo.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Visitor To My Backyard Today

I was in our backyard this afternoon. I threw a bunch of stuff into our garbage can and started to mow. I looked over at the garbage can about 10 minutes later and saw this chubby thing climbing out of the garbage can, glaring at me. He hopped up the neighbor's fence and climbed the utility pole. He was panting and weak, and almost fell a couple of times. Shane thinks he was dying.

All I know is that it scared the hell out of me when he came out of the garbage can. I've always heard to not trust a raccoon when it comes out during the day. He finally came down and went into the neighbor's yard a couple hours later, but he didn't look a whole lot better than before. He had his tongue sticking out for a while when he was up there.

Lesson learned: I moved the garbage and recycling cans, and secured both of them with bungee cords. I am thankful that it didn't come popping up out of the garbage can at me when I was right there, throwing stuff in!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Year Later

Today marks one year of my mom passing away. The last several days have been really rough, leading up to today; leading up to this morning, actually. My husband hasn't said anything, but I’m sure he’s realized what an absolute DELIGHT I've been over the last week or so. But I know he wouldn't say anything rude himself, since his own mother is gone too.

But the actual time of her death has come and gone, and for some bizarre reason, I feel a little lighter now, in this instance, than I have lately. I don’t know why, other than the weight of the day hanging over my head the way it has. In a way, it’s much like once we got home from our visit post-Mom visit home when we spread her remains. I came home with bronchitis, and sick as a dog, but I survived that trip. I have survived today, as well.

I can’t call it an anniversary, because to me, an anniversary invokes celebrating something good, not marking the worst day of your life. I try to remind myself of something Mom used to say, when we found out the cancer was terminal: the cancer was winning, but once she died, she would be the winner. When she died, it meant the cancer wouldn't be able to continue to try to take over her body.

I still don’t know if I believe that. The last time she said that to me, we were in the living room back home. I was sitting on the floor. She was laying on the couch. I told her that was a pretty shitty way to win. She agreed and then said, “It is what it is.”

Jesus Christ, I will forever fucking HATE that phrase: “It is what it is.” I know she said it because she was helpless with her health and she did accept everything that was happening to her, but I will forever hate that phrase.

My smile for today, and I’ll probably cry as I write this, is the story of my mom trying to take care of my father’s old computer. This story makes my friends scream with laughter when I tell it to them for the first time.

Several years ago, maybe 6-7 years, my father decided it was time to replace his first computer with a newer model. Keep in mind, he had his first computer for 4-5 years and knows NOTHING about how to really use it. If there was a computer that would take you only to YouTube and Gmail, I think that’s the kind of computer he’d need. So, he brings the new computer home, moves the old one into the laundry room and sets it on the floor (with it’s great big ol’CRT monitor), sets up the new one on his desk, and goes to work. That evening, my mom calls me.

“I want to know what to do with the old computer,” Mom says. “How do I take care of it?”

“What do you mean, Mom? Take care of it how?” I ask her. It’s a weird request, coming from her. Over the years, she sent me exactly ONE email from my father’s account. She just didn’t enjoy it. She’d rather talk on the phone.

“He doesn't need the old computer anymore, so I want to know what to do with it so I can toss it out in the garbage and no one can get any info off of it.” Ah ha! Now she’s making sense. Never mind the fact my father has NOTHING personal on his hard drive: no financial stuff, no banking or bill info. Only his email address book.

“Oh, that’s easy Mom. Just call Josh and tell him the next time he’s there, to remove the hard drive from the tower. He can either keep it as a back up, or Shane will take it.” Josh is my brother-in-law and my father’s go-to local computer repair guy.

“So I don’t have to break it?”

“What? Break what, Mom?” This is getting weird again.

“The monitor. That’s where all the information and stuff lives, right?” When she said this, I had a vision all of a sudden: my mother had the monitor downstairs in the laundry room, sitting on top of spread out newspapers. The screen would be facing up, and she’s kneeled in front of it, a hammer in her cocked back arm, getting ready to swing down and break the screen into a million little pieces, so no one can access the information that doesn't exist and wouldn't live in there, even if it did exist.

“Holy shit, NO! Don’t break the monitor, Mom! You’ll just make a mess! Nothing lives in the monitor. It’s like a TV.”

“So what do I need to do then?”

“Leave it alone and let Josh take care of it. He’ll know what to do.”

Then things start getting even more hysterical, but she’s dead ass serious. “So I don’t have to break the monitor?”

“No. Put the hammer away.”

“What about the speakers? Do I need to break them?”

“No, the speakers can go straight into the garbage, and so can the keyboard and the mouse.” I remember I’ve got to break this down simple for her, because when it comes to computers, I look like a genius compared to my mom. And compared to my husband when it comes to computers, I look like a moron.

“So where does the information live then?” She sounds like she doesn't believe me.

“Okay, you see the tall beige/grey thing that used to sit on his desk next to the monitor? That’s called the tower. THAT’S where everything lives. Let Josh open that up and take out the hard drive. He’ll know what to do with it.”

“I don’t need to break that?” I swear, I think she just wanted to break something that night.

“No, and don’t even try to open it. There are a bunch of little parts inside of it and Josh only needs to remove one of them. I wouldn't even be able to describe it to you well enough for you to be able to find it anyway.”

“Okay, I’ll just leave it alone until Josh comes home with your sister next.” She actually sounded a little bummed out at this point.

So that was the story of my mom trying to prep an old computer to be tossed out for the garbage men to pick up. It makes me smile every time I think about it. I’m sure that right now, if she’s able, she knows I’m writing about that night and she’s all put out and little offended that I would find that conversation funny. She’d say something like, “Hey now, don’t make fun of me! I didn't know any better!” And then she’d probably try to go for the sympathy/pity effect: “You should be ashamed of yourself, making fun of your poor old mother with cancer!” We heard that a few times over the years. It’s weird that we (me, my sister and Mom) could actually make cancer jokes and she’d be the target. I don’t think me and my sister would be able to do those jokes anymore, because they just wouldn't be funny.

One year down. It just can’t be. Didn't I just talk to her on the phone last week? Didn't I just see her the week before that?

I still miss you Mom, just as much as I did when it happened. I don’t know that this year has made it any easier to deal with a life in which you’re not a part of anymore.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Tennessee Titans Blanket

The blanket continues again! It's kind of a shitty picture tonight because off to the left side is Cujo, and he's making me share the couch with him. Working up towards the ear holes in the helmet and the on-going face mask. I haven't taken any measurements of it just yet.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Weird Song Idea Ran Through My Head

The days of the 11-12 hour workday have ended, now that Homerama is over, thankfully. In one of my days off, I managed to get in a little bit of Hotel Transylvania, a terribly cute/sweet/good movie that came out in 2012.

I've seen it before, but I had forgotten who did the voice of Wayne the Wolf until I saw the end credits: Steve Buscemi. I was surprised that the animators didn't give Wayne those same baggy blue eyes that Steve has in real life. And since then, this song parody has been running through my head, and I figured I better get it written down and out of my brain to make some room for new, weirder shit.

Imagine it being sung to the tune of "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes...that's right...we're going old school 80's parody today!!! And I just want to officially state...I am not bashing Steve Buscemi or his appearance. He is a great actor, and his eyes just happen to be his most distinct feature. His eyes are as prominent as Sylvester Stallone's mouth, or Clint Eastwood's grimace.

His hair is Brooklyn brown, his teeth a dental surprise
His hands are never cold, he's got Steve Buscemi eyes
He'll turn to sleaze on you, you won't have to think twice
He's pure as the Fargo snow, he got Steve Buscemi eyes

And he'll tease you, he'll unease you
All the better just to creep you
He's ferocious
And he knows what it takes to make a movie crush
He gets Quentin Tarantino sighs, he's got Steve Buscemi eyes

He'll let you take him work, it whets his appetite
He'll play the biggest jerk, he got Steve Buscemi eyes
He'll never take a fall for you, roll over like he's got a price
Until Oscar's in his queue, he's got Steve Buscemi eyes

He'll direct you, when he needs you
Hope you'll feed with the crumbs he leaves you
He's anything but atrocious
And he knows what it takes to make a movie crush
He's not John Waters in disguise, he's got Steve Buscemi eyes

And he'll tease you, he'll unease you
All the better just to creep you
He's ferocious
And he knows what it takes to make a movie crush
The Coen Brothers think he's a prize, he's got Steve Buscemi eyes

And he'll tease you, he'll unease you
And he can even please you, he's got Steve Buscemi eyes
He'll expose you when he knows you
He knows you, he's got Steve Buscemi eyes