Thursday, September 18, 2014

Before and After

I acquired my dining room chairs from an auction in 1997.  They were bargain-priced and have served us well but over the years, but were never especially comfortable.  Over the years, a few have also grown rather rickety and though T was willing to give a hand toward fixing that, it seemed a rather large chore for chairs that had never really been comfortable.  I few weekends back, we stopped in to a local unfinished furniture store and spotted some lovely replacements; chairs that were sturdy, looked great, and were comfortable.  The investment seems well worth it and we decided to try our hand at staining furniture.  

Rather than start with the chairs, we opted for a small plant stand with plenty of detail work. It started life as a plain wooden item.

We choose a MinWax stain with polyurethane built-in and set to work on Labor Day weekend.  

An hour later, the stand was ready to dry and we were sold on the idea of finishing the chairs ourselves.

We are confident that we can stain the chairs and so now new chairs are in order.  A staining weekend or two is planned for later this fall.  By Halloween, we hope to be sitting in sturdy comfort.  That’s happy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Your Weekly Dogwood: September 17

This week has brought some very cool nights.  Even the warm-blooded Sassafras Family has been forced to pull the windows closed when the temperatures dip to the 40s, as it did on Monday night.  Everywhere I look, the local trees are starting the process of change that signals the arrival of fall.  

It’s a hard summer to let go, but as Mother Nature and her dogwood tree remind me: I’m not in charge.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Real Life Conversations with JT: Relationship Skills edition

The backstory:  JT and I were at the mall to pick something up and we saw a man with a Sephora bag in his hand, headed for his car.

Me:  A dude with a Sephora bag.  You know what that means, don’t you?

JT:  It means he’s not in trouble anymore.

Ladies of the Internet, this boy has been raised right.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Go, Ikea

Apple Computer has nothing on the folks at Ikea.  I admire this Ikea prank.  It's a book book!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Did Not Yell

Though I did think about it when I found out that BOTH retainers needed replacing, to the tune of $520.  The break was an accidental affect of frosh camp, which was apparently otherwise enjoyable. Ouch.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Your Weekly Dogwood...Week 2

Just like that, the double digit days of September have arrived.  Around here, it came with some cool nights; the sort that will mean even more leaves start the process of getting some fall color.  My dogwood is leading the pack.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Room of Our Own

Administrators at my school all teach and last year I taught 6th grade History while also serving as the Middle School Assistant Principal.  I have a lovely office but I taught the 6th grade in 3 different classrooms, none of them my own.  I got to be pretty good at getting the right supplies to the right place, but I missed having my things in just one classroom.   And I also missed the intangibles of one classroom —— the way a space becomes our own and contributes to the quality of the learning.  It’s not that the spaces I borrowed weren’t nice and functional; they were.  But a space of our own is much, much better.  This year, the stars aligned and I have a classroom where all of my 7th grade classes can meet.

The room is right next door to my office, which makes it easy for me to be in two places at once, a requirement of the Assistant Principal who also teaches three classes job that I hold (and love!).  Once I knew this room would be primarily mine, I immediately set to work getting it ready for the 7th graders.  There are new tables and chairs to seat the students.  Windows facing the northwest let in a lot of natural light.  To complement the freshly painted walls and provide some visual interest, among the Apple TV screen and white board,  I hung a poster acquired from the National Women’s History Museum.  On the bulletin board, I hung an assortment of historical photos that I made over the summer.

A picture from a former student and my patriotic pennant add some more interest without being a distraction.

Now we are in business with a great space for learning, thinking, and laughing.  Bring it on, 7th grade!

Monday, September 08, 2014

First Day of School

I’m still working to get my mind around the fact that I have a 9th grader in my house.  He’s been to frosh orientation; he went to camp; he’s running cross country practice every day; he’s gotten his school supplies, books and iPad in order.  His locker is full and awaiting the creation of a mess.  There is no back-to-school chore left to complete.  So today he actually heads to class, ready for all that the day may bring.

As we piled into the car, I realized that this is the last big education tradition that I will drive him too.  The next time he starts a new level of school it will be at college and it might very well be far from home.  Of course, there is plenty of water to get under the bridge before then but, holy cow, where did the years go?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Mercies Received

Since I learned to read on my own, the characters in my favorite books have provided a companionship like no other.  These folks become familiar friends, people whose stories entertain and amuse me, provide company and, just as often, comfort when I need it.  The connections I’ve felt to these characters are powerful because they reveal the universality of the human experience.  

A few weeks ago, I picked up Miss Read’s Thrush Green series to re-read a few of the novels.  I’ve a soft spot for Miss Read’s sense of humor and continued amusement at the foibles of humanity.  Both the Fairacre and Thrush Green series are among my most favorite books of all time and it’s really because they gently spoke to me when I needed it most.

I first read Thrush Green in the summer of 2006, the same year that I became a single parent.  In the first weeks after that breakup, it seemed that evidence of it was everywhere.  As I struggled to re-build my life with a 6 year-old JT, it seemed that reminders of my old existence could not be escaped.  It was painful in a way that sometimes felt unbearable.  Sleep and familiar books, two of my favorite refuges, were no longer the comforts that they had always been.  Between insomnia and the reality that some of my favorite books reminded me of a life that was now shattered, I felt adrift.

Then, in August, I picked up Miss Read’s Thrush Green, the first in a series set in a fictional Cotwolds town populated by quirky characters.  I had never read the book before.  The first novel takes place on May 1st as the residents await the arrival of the popular Curdle Fair.  Much of the story is about Ruth, who is looking after her young nephew Paul while nursing her own broken heart.  For obvious reasons, the book spoke to me and was, finally, a distraction from my own sadness.  I was hooked.  Over the course of the next year and half, I read every novel in the Thrush Green series.

In August, I picked up the Thrush Green series again.  This time, I read the books not for comfort but to spent some time with familiar friends.  As I always do, I remembered those days in 2006 when I picked up those stories and found much-needed comfort and companionship.  At the end of the first novel, Mrs. Curdle, the gypsy matriarch of the fair, looks out over town square and notes that she always feels better after a visit to Thrush Green.  I know exactly how she feels.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

September Front Porch

My goal this year was to update my front porch each month and then make and post pictures of the update.  Some months I made this happen.  But other months I moved slowly, either from lack of time or a desire to leave the porch just the way it was.  Sometimes that was the case because I was enjoying the porch or because it was too cold to be sitting out on the porch.  I liked the way that the porch looked in July and so it spent August dressed in the same decor.  

As September begins, I’m not yet ready to give up on my summer plants and flowers, so I’ve made few changes for the month.  I am mostly holding on to the summer with a blue tablecloth and the addition of some wooden tulips in the plants.

My planter of pink impatiens has loved this summer location and cheerfully greets me each time I walk out on the porch.  I’m not ready to say goodbye to it (or the summer, really) so it stays just where it is.

Later this month, fall will arrive no matter how much I try to hold onto summer.  When we get some cool mornings and sweater weather to go with it, I’ll give up the fight and put out some fall decorations.   But not yet!