Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Woman's Prerogative

They say it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind. I'm glad, because I seem to do that a lot when it comes to the farmhouse remodel. Changing my mind means more work, and it usually means more money. Therefore, one might come to the conclusion that it is not a good thing to do. But in the end, I'm almost always glad I went with my gut instinct, even with the extra expenditure of time, effort, and finance.

Once renovations on the farmhouse began in earnest, there were several instances of changing my mind in the nick of time. There had never been a bathroom upstairs, so we took part of a bedroom to create one. After the framing and the initial plumbing pipes were done, I decided the room was too small. That meant tearing out and moving the studs on one side and moving the pipes for the sink and toilet drains. When I told my husband that I wanted to move the wall, his reaction was considerably less than enthusiastic. Once the change was made, however, he saw the wisdom of my plan.

I've also changed my mind about the placement of a window and door in the downstairs bath/laundry area, and I've gone from almond-colored switches and outlets for the whole house to brown ones for the kitchen and white ones for the bath, laundry, and dining room. Never mind that it meant cutting a new door and filling in the old door with a window. Never mind that the almond outlets and switches had to be removed and the brown or white ones installed. Never mind that all that took time, and when a contractor is working, time is money...lots of money.

My latest change of mind transpired in the past couple of weeks. Way back last summer, when I thought I would be getting all the painting done before school started (silly me!), I labored over choosing just the right shade of yellow for the dining room. I had a dozen or more paint cards from the store, which I took to the farmhouse at different times of day. I propped them up around the room and after much deliberation, decided on "Warm Summer." Last weekend, after I finished all the priming, I opened the yellow paint and put a few brushstrokes on the wall, just to make sure it was still the right color after all these months. Wouldn't you know - it was definitely NOT the right color. In fact, it looked rather like neon yellow, not the rich earthy tone I wanted. I learned, with the kitchen ceiling (click here to read that post) that paint colors can sometimes be changed, so I didn't despair too much. On my way home from Dad's last Monday, I swung by Lowe's in Lewisburg to make the switch. Once I'd made my new choice - Yellow Frost - the very helpful paint clerk informed the that he could not change my gallon of Warm Summer to Yellow Frost, carefully explaining that he could add to a certain color in the mix, but could not take any out, which was what was needed to achieve my desired result. Once again, my change of mind cost me in time and money, since I spent close to an hour in Lowe's and ended up buying two new gallons of paint.

Can you see the too-bright yellow?
It's just to the right of the correct yellow along the door.

This past weekend has been one of very visible progress (read about invisible progress here). I got the first coat of Yellow Frost on the dining room walls, and I am pleased. Very pleased. And so glad I changed my mind. It's a sweet prerogative of being a woman, you know!

First, "cutting in" all the edges...

...and then rolling on all the color!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Poetry Illustrated

When I was in the ninth grade, my English teacher gave the class a daunting assignment. It sounded simple at first: find pictures to go with the things mentioned in a short essay by "Anonymous." It didn't involve a lot of thinking and there was no writing other than to copy the essay lines beneath our pictures. No problem, right? Wrong! For starters, this short essay had the potential of 40 pictures to illustrate that man does not live by bread alone. And if man doesn't live by bread alone, just what does he live by? Things like truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, aspiration, and "the sublimity of a softly lighted cathedral." Good grief! What does truth look like? How do you find a picture of goodness? Even the specific ones were a challenge to find, like the softly lighted cathedral and the rustle of wind in the trees. And let's see, this assignment was made about 1974, long before the days of the Internet, Google, and the digital camera. My classmates and I embarked upon the ultimate scavenger hunt, turning through hundreds of magazines, pilfering old greeting cards and calendars, and begging from neighbors and relatives. Everywhere we went, the conversation always came to, "Do you have any old magazines?" and "I still need pictures of...." I was doing pretty well in my quest until someone swiped some of my best and hardest to find. Eventually, though, I finished, and the booklet I produced is one of the few samples of my school work that I still possess. It might be considered "vintage" by now, with it's un-laminated construction paper cover, stencil lettering, dry and crackly glue, and handwritten text. But I remember how much effort I put into it, which made the grade I received that much sweeter.

Recently I took some photos of the six-year-old granddaughter of friends. It was her first visit to our farm and she loved the horses and chickens. One of the photos brought to mind a line from the poem "Barter" by Sara Teasdale. And that made me think of my ninth grade "Not By Bread Alone" assignment, which then inspired me to find the poem and illustrate it with my own photographs. Thankfully, I did not need 40, only eight or ten. It took a while to round them up, and I had to shoot a few new ones, but here is what I came up with. I'm glad I don't have to worry about a grade, but still I wonder: what would Miss Ratliff think??

by Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,

Blue waves whitened on a cliff,

Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children's faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like the curve of gold,

Scent of pine trees in the rain,

Eyes that love you, arms that hold,

And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;

For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,

And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

Barter by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933); photographs by Nancy Vance.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Few Changes

I've been exploring settings, options, and such that are available on this blog service. I've made a few changes to my blog...have you noticed them? You'll find some links to help you navigate within the blog, and you can now see two of my books in their entirety right here on the computer. There's a new page: the Reading Corner. Join me in reading and sharing good books! I've also tried to make sure it is easy for you to leave comments by clicking on the "comment" link at the bottom of each post and page. I don't think you have to be a follower to leave a comment. If you're having trouble with that, please let me know! Have fun exploring! And let me hear from you so I'll know you're there. :)

Kirsten Rides a Pony

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Pony dreams come true for a special little girl. Enjoy! If you like, you can leave a comment below.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Birds At My Feeder

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And Still I Paint

It's been four months since I wrote about a close relationship with my paintbrush. (Click here to read Me and My Paintbrush.) Back then, I was thrilled to have finished the kitchen ceiling at the farmhouse, and that was a great accomplishment. But it's been four months. One would think I would have that entire painting project finished by now. One would be wrong.

It's not because I haven't been working at it. I've been painting most every weekend since Labor Day, sometimes on Sunday too. It has become quite obvious that I am a slow painter. Or rather, a slow surface preparer. It's not usually the painting that takes so long, but rather getting ready to paint: filling holes, sanding, cleaning, taping. Once all that is done, the actual painting goes along fairly quickly. Sometimes. Bead board would be an exception to that rule. I haven't found a way to speed up painting bead board.

For ever so long, I was in the stage of invisible progress. I've found in house construction there are some things you don't normally notice when they are all done, things like window and door trim, baseboards, and such. However, when they are not finished, or not even there, you notice right away. You wouldn't think painting would fit into that category, but for the better part of a month, it did. In the bath and laundry, sanding the bead board, the doors, and trim work, and then applying the final coat of white paint took all of the paint time I could muster in November.

Bath & Laundry: Paint is finally finished!
In the pantry, priming the drywall above the bead board was visible progress at last, but the two coats of white paint weren't near as obvious. Putting multiple coats of bright white on the original door and the trim around it and the window took forever without showing much. Priming the bead board made a big difference, but sanding it didn't show at all. What fun it was to put on the first coat of green! But the second coat didn't make much difference unless you looked closely.

Pantry: bare bead board.

Pantry: bead board with primer.

Pantry: The only thing left is to sand, stain, and finish the floor.
At last I'm working in the dining room, and getting all that drywall primed was a big, showy step forward. "Laying down the color," as they say on those TV commercials, will be even better. Putting three or four coats of white on five door frames, a window frame, baseboards, and the mantle, however, will slow me down considerably.

Dining Room: Before drywall, trim, and a new door.

Same corner of the dining room today.

Kitchen (above & below): Before anything except the new window.

Kitchen (above & below):  with painted walls and cabinets (our old ones).

And don't forget the ceiling, complete with light/fan!
I've spent a good portion of my Christmas vacation painting, and the carpenter has been at work too. We've made some great and visible progress in the past week. There is still a lot to do, though. In addition to all the painting in the dining room, we have to move the stove and refrigerator from our old kitchen (they've been waiting on our screen porch for over a year now), get the water hooked up and install kitchen and bath fixtures. And then, there will be all the cleaning to do. But for now...I still paint. But I'm gaining on it, and one sweet day it will all be done. That is, until we start on another room.