Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chair Part Two

The next step after removing all the old upholstery and batting was to replace the underpinning fabric. I decided to encase all the padding in unbleached muslin in order to hold everything in place. The cushions were then stapled back on the chair, and on the seat base, they had to be hand sewn with a fish-hook like needle. 

Then for the fun part: cutting out the new fabric! I chose this linen because it tied the color of the walls and rug together well. 

The back has been covered here and the base is being sewn together and applied.

Everything finished but the cushion. Turns out I saved the most difficult piece for last. After several attempts at a zipper it's finally finished- thank goodness the zipper is in the back, where nobody can see it!

I wonder what my grandmother would think of her chair now? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chair Affair

Anyone familiar with the children's story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie will understand why, now that the living room has been painted, it is necessary to change the curtains, artwork and also the upholstery on my grandmother's chair. Once one thing changes it's like a domino effect; everything else looks drab and dull in comparison and on it goes. The curtains were easy and I'm sure we have enough pictures around the house that we can shuffle them around and find some that complement our new decor.

My grandmother's chair was the biggest hurdle. Not wanting to pay several hundred dollars (or wait a month) to have a professional re-upholster it, I decided to give it a try. From what I'd read it's a pain in the neck but with a little elbow grease, some sewing skills and ingenuity along with a screwdriver, staple gun and new fabric shouldn't be something I can't can't handle.

First, the undressing of the chair frame:

Cushion removed to show the base of the chair.
Gracie getting one last scratch on the old fabric.

Evidence of a few other scratches, but nobody was willing to claim responsibility. We won't be having any more of that on the new chair, girls!

*insert striptease music here*

I wanted to take a lot of photos during the removal process so I'd remember in what order to put things back together. I had to be careful taking off the old upholstery so I didn't rip it because I was going to use pieces as templates from which to cut the new fabric.

The demolition only took one afternoon. There were about 10,000 tacks holding all the batting and fabric in place, but finally they were all out. Now the fun begins!

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Would You Do?

A friend of my parents was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A perfectly healthy guy, only in his early 50s. Then suddenly this diagnosis, with a grim prognosis. There is a new treatment which can be life-extending. Who wouldn't want to buy more time in light of being given a death sentence?

Although it's not something I dwell on, the events of the past 18 months as well as having lost several close friends has made me think. What would I do? Would I grasp at that straw, no matter how fragile, to have more time? Or simply enjoy what time was there, to the fullest extent? My theoretical mind tells me I'd prefer not quantity, but quality. Extension of life comes with its drawbacks: procedures, treatments and many unpleasant complications. Is that life? Does the act of simply drawing breath, regardless of negative side effects, make it all worthwhile? At this point it's easy to say "no, I wouldn't want to live longer if I was suffering" but as my friend Paul would say "there are no atheists in a foxhole". I don't think it's possible to truly know what you would do until you are in that situation.

So rather than dwell on the "what ifs" why not think about how I would like to spend my life if given, say, 6 months to live. Exotic travel? Doing all the things I've saved for 'someday', throwing caution to the wind? Buying a boat, sailing off into the sunset? Drawing up a bucket list and crossing things off?

After quite a bit of soul-searching I came to the conclusion that I am already living the life I would lead if I knew my time was very limited. I'd enjoy being at my home. Spend time with Joe, eating good food, cooking, taking walks, enjoying a movie. Spending an afternoon with Wilson. Quality time with friends, one-on-one, with the ability to talk, listen and laugh. Tending the garden, taking care of the house, hanging out the laundry. Being able to take a moment to notice the sunlight on the dewy grass or to watch a goldfinch delicately eating seeds from the echinacea.

This is life. These are the little moments that make it up and the things that make me happy and fulfilled. Of course, they are different for everybody and each person must figure out what makes them happy. I'll always want to learn and try new things but if I was to be hit by that proverbial bus tomorrow I don't believe I'd have any regrets for things I haven't done. And that, I believe, is a life very well lived indeed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Labor of Love

In my empty-nest-burst-of-painting-enthusiasm this year I've painted only 2 closet interiors in the 14 days since Wilson moved back to school. 'Til now. We have tackled the largest, most daunting project to date: the living room. Wallpaper with at least 2 coats of paint on it. Not quite the Everest of painting projects, but certainly our biggest one yet.

Surprisingly, the wallpaper, even though painted at least twice, came off pretty easily. What was left behind was a turquoise-colored wall with lots of holes, some badly patched, some not at all. First on the list was to patch the holes and spackle the uneven spots. Then, paint the ceiling, do a bit of hole-filling on the oak trim, sand and urethane. Next comes sanding the walls, priming them and finally, painting. About a weeks worth of work with both of us laboring on it.

One end of the room is taken up entirely by oak bookshelves and the fireplace; no painting needed there, only a bit of light sanding and urethane.

I painted the radiators a few weeks ago while I was doing the trim in the closets. The wall has a few paint samples in addition to a lot of pockmarks from all the spackling.

Today Joe will be sanding the walls one last time. Tomorrow: priming and then the final 2 coats of paint. Once this is completed, a quick coat of fresh paint in the kitchen and the entire house will be finished. What on earth will I do then?

Gracie and Millie will be very happy to have things put back together.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Feline Assistant

Anyone who has ever lived with a cat knows that they have minds of their own and don't take orders well. Gracie, who will jump off the couch from a deep sleep when a human dares to sit next to her, loves to keep me company while I'm trying to sew. No sooner do I get the quilt spread out and the machine ready than she is in position, preparing to flop down on it when the moment is right. Her expression says it all: "don't even think about moving me".
Of course, I reinforce this behavior by NOT moving her.

How can I when she is so darned cute? I hope the recipients of this baby quilt don't mind a little fur on it. Gracie likes to add a little something to a gift; she's thoughtful like that.

Friday, September 2, 2011

By Any Other Name

The weather has finally turned cooler for a stretch with crystal clear nights and warm sunny days. If I was in charge of heaven I'd arrange for this climate- cool enough so that the nights are chilly but the days only need a light tshirt and shorts.

Even the garden seems relieved to be rid of the hot, humid weather; the rose has produced a single, red, perfect blossom as if thanking mother nature for the reprieve. Even Irene couldn't discourage this bloom, which is all the sweeter for it being the only one.