the arrival

Saturday Evening, November 13th

The first couple of days I vowed to not do too much cleaning, or rather none at all. I would have 16 days to get to everything done and I wanted time to visit my gramma as well as focus on my looming midterm. I chose to tackle my math test right away so it wouldn’t interfere with my “process”.  However when I arrived and did a walk thru to assess the damage of Hurricane Chrystol, I realized that might not be so easy. One gander in the kitchen and I knew there would be some problems…

I am not the haughty taughty snooty type that is demanding or particularly picky about what or where I eat. Heck, as a kid I used to pick stuff up off the ground and eat it just cause my mom never gave us candy or treats! I like to camp out and eat in the woods, at the river, in the mountains or pretty much anywhere. It’s not uncommon when we camp to find ourselves eating from a half cleaned plate that was rinsed off in lake water, so a dirty kitchen doesn’t make me faint – but this was nothing I cared to spend any amount of time trying to avoid.

Things were piled up on every inch of counter space, I hardly had room to put a plate down let alone fix a meal in there! So I immediately started in the easiest place and dumped about two grocery bags full of cans that were stacked up next to the sink. They had no use or reason for sitting there shucked, rinsed and stacked other than, no one had placed them in the recycle can. Check. Then I started throwing out the several glasses full of straws and chopsticks that were being saved from all the trips to McDonald’s, the various Chinese buffets, and every other fast food joint you can imagine. Yes I said several…small collections sitting so far back on the counter the rest of the mess covered them up.

There are only two women living in this house so why there should be 100 of these items baffles me, so in the trash *grin*. Check. I filled up the dishwasher. Check. Threw out the small collection of used paper plates that were being “saved” in a unusual effort to save money perhaps? In the trash. Check. Once I could see counter space I started scrubbing wildly to remove the food, grease and ants *frown*. And as I got more space available the more I realized I needed a chisel to remove some of the caked on stuff. And the stove, oh my word…that was in desperate need of some scouring! I took the stove apart. Piece by piece and in wonderment that no grease fires had risen from that holy mess! I don’t think anyone in 19 or so years has ever removed the metal dish that sits under the electric disk. It literally had ash sitting in it. Stove. Check.

Since gramma was napping, I took several hours to try to conquer the kitchen Saturday night, and I’m still not entirely done. I wasn’t able to clean all of the cupboard doors and drawerfronts, or the floor *ewwh*. But I will get in there again in a couple of days and chip away at it. I also plan to go through all the cupboards and consolidate and reorganize the many items so that everyone can get to things more easily. I’m fairly nimble, my gramma is not, so I know she must get flustered trying to move about in those cabinets.

Once the project was done I felt good about cooking some nice meals for gram, and every time she goes in there she comments about how pretty it is. It makes me sad to know that when I leave here in two weeks, and my mom returns…it won’t stay that way for long.  Sometimes our captors are not the dark cloaked creepy backstreet wandering weirdos we see in the movies…sometimes, and most often, it’s someone much closer.

Aloma

Relax. Breathe. Focus.

Tomorrow….the living rooooom! *music drum roll please* 

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Repurposed Antique Oak Buffet

Once I got the refinishing itch, I wanted to revamp some stuff for my house and I went hunting, all the time…even when I didn’t realize I was hunting! And one rainy Saturday afternoon I was heading down to my consignment booth to unload some trinkets I had come across and I stopped in at the local Salvation Army to peruse all the furniture and kitchen ware. My eye immediately fell upon a cute little white dresser looking thing that had an open space on the bottom. Because of the configuration I was thinking it would be a cute TV stand for my living room. There was an older gentleman standing there looking at the same piece and he mumbled something about how tragic it was that this wonderful oak piece was sabotaged by a bad paint job. Upon closer inspection I realized he was right, there were a few areas where the paint had been gouged off to reveal an interesting oak pattern underneath. I immediately grabbed a sales person and convinced I needed it, I gave him that “how much is the doggy in the window look?” He discounted the piece for me and we hauled it out to my truck, in the pouring rain! Lucky for me I just happened to have a tarp to cover it up. However, he placed it back side down and the whole time I was driving I just knew it was going to get ruined by all of the rain collecting in that open space. So I pulled over under some trees and in the torrential rain I managed to upright it and recover it for the rest of the journey home. By the time I got to my antique mall I was soaked to the bone but quite happy with my new treasure.

Now typically the b.friend knows I have an eye for certain finds but he took one look at this pitiful little dresser and asked me “HOW MUCH did you spend on that thing?!?” (I think it was $40-something but I don’t recall now). As I began to reallly look at it I realized it was an old buffet that was missing the bottom doors and that whoever had the piece previously had painted the whole thing white. And when I say they painted the whole thing, I mean the W H O L E thing. Inside, outside, back, bottom, front, top, inside the drawers, under the drawers, behind the drawers, etc. Every inch was covered in paint. In some areas it had been spray painted black and THEN painted white. I had no idea what I was in for with this little guy. I did know that this would be a strip job for sure! So out came the gloves and chemicals…I think this is when I realized how truly important it is to have good ventilation, gloves and a mask!

I started with the easy parts, the top and the sides. Then I proceeded to the drawer fronts. There was so much paint everywhere though I got overwhelmed and I would have to take many breaks during this project. I kinda felt like I needed to finish a project, ANY project – so there were several others pieces worked around this one. And once I had used the chemical stripper to get most of the top layers of paint off I had to begin the sanding process…it seemed nothing would take it all off! I sanded, and sanded, and sanded, and sanded…and I sanded this thing for months! And I hadn’t even touched the inside yet! You’ll notice in the early pictures a gray sludge look on the wood, that was a friend “helping” me remove the paint by thinning it out with paint thinner – one word of advice – NO! This is incredibly difficult to clean up and it sucks the life out of the wood. Not to mention it set me back a bit. Lesson learned and I moved on.

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I did literally work on this piece for nearly three months intermittently. I had to pick wood filler out of the keyholes and all the ridges along the platter and in a few other places too. I had a drawer in need of repair but it cleaned up so well you’d never know it was there.  Finding hardware was again a challenge but this time because I had no idea what I wanted! Once I got it stain ready I pretty much just grabbed what I could find that would fit the holes and ran it home as fast as my little truck would go! I am very pleased with the finish although I got so tired of looking at it sitting in the workshop, I never put a polycoat on it and I have yet to order the key escutcheon. But I will … eventually …