Archive for October, 2008

Margie the Neighbor

We finally met the very elderly woman who lives in the bungalow to our north.  I raked her leaves (since I know how much I hate to do it, and I’m a reasonably-fit 29 year-old).  I thought it would be neighborly, and I turned out to be right.  I’ll see if I can surreptitiously take a picture of her house later, but when she came out to thank me, I asked how long she’d lived in the neighborhood.

79 years.

How old do you think Margie is?


That’s right – her parents built the bungalow next to our house in 1929, and Margie’s spent her entire life in the house she was born in.  In fact, since most of the houses I can see from our porch are bungalows, I think all of them were probably built around the same era.

Which means they’re all on our farmland.

Update: I never fail to deliver – here’s Margie’s bungalow

And a bonus – here’s the giant pumpkin Missy and Josie will be carving later.  I have not been told into what – only that “jack-o-lanterns are lame”.


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Our Seating Multiplies

On the spectrum of decor, Missy and I are different shades of black.  We’re not at each other’s throats or clamoring about the other’s foolishness – it’s not bootcut versus straight-leg jeans, in other words.  Missy likes the clean lines, visible functionality and simplicity of midcentury modern design, while I’m drawn to the clean lines, visible functionality and simplicity of the craftsman movement.  Different strokes, but when push comes to shove, we’re basically the same folks.  Neither one of us, for example, likes ornate, frilly details (except as an occasional fabric pattern).

It’s only fair, then, that our second chair project this week falls closer to Missy’s end of that spectrum.  We went to ReStore to price 6×6 posts for a short fence (no dice – lumber was very scant this week), and found this 50s-era office chair for a princely $10.  Even I, who usually appreciates modernity from a safe distance, could admire its “form”, to use some furniture-nerd lingo.

30 this afternoon

Ugly, but solid - 2:30 this afternoon

It's for the office now, for Missy's studio later, but not going anywhere in this condition

It’s a chair with internal tension – its shape makes it squat and sturdy and the metal gives it an industrial vibe, but at the same time, there’s a whole lot of open space and the metal legs are pretty spindly.  Even better, I think we ratcheted up both ends of that tension with $3 of fabric from JoAnn and a $6 hunk of white oak from Menard’s.

In progress (I was this close to taking the back off, just so I could say we completely stripped it)

In progress (I was this close to taking the back off, just so I could say we completely stripped it)

Missy reupholstered the seat with a black & white floral fabric (leaving the black leather on the backrest), while I swapped out the 1×1.5″ maple armrests for much beefier 1×3″ oak.  I also lengthened the arms by 2.5″ (1/2″ off the back and 2″ off the front) to give them more substance.   One small detail that no one but a wood geek would notice – both arms are rift-sawn oak, but I oriented them so the ray-flakes are visible on the outer edges.*  The finish is two applications of Provincial stain by Minwax (leftover from refinishing the floor in the entry, so I didn’t even have to buy it).

Total cost: nineteen simoleans.

Laying out the new arms

Laying out the new arms

The new arms go on

The new wings go on

Daughter approves

The daughter approves

The shape and arms remind me a lot of a Stickley prairie-box chair, one of my favorites

Ray flakes on the edges of the wings

Ray flakes on the edges of the wings

There's more that unites them than divides them

There's more that unites them than divides them

*If I had access to some, I would have bought a 1×3 of quarter-sawn white oak, which would have the ray-flakes on the broad sides instead of the edges.  Alas – we lack a good lumber store.

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We Rock

We picked up this rocker for a song on Saturday evening (thanks to a dude named Craig who keeps a list), and with a little elbow grease and $30 at JoAnn Fabric, I think it’s a really nice addition to our home.  Over the course of a couple hours Saturday night and one last night, here’s what we did:

  • Thoroughly scrubbed wood with mineral spirits
  • Glued and tightened loose joints
  • Trashed two layers of old fabric – one circa 1983, one circa 1967 (no sign of original cover)
  • Put on Haz-mat suit and threw away the old yellow bath towel (!) and disgusting foam that had been covering springs
  • Removed approximately 700 billion upholstery tacks from the springbed frame
  • Finished wood with two coats of tung oil
  • Tied springs and re-covered the springbed with thick canvas
  • Cut 3″ high-density foam to size
  • Re-upholstered using canvas-weight cotton fabric

Our other rocker project – the very old chair from my Grandfather (see here and here) – is still awaiting stripper and stain, but I’m hoping to finish that project up soon.  It’s too beautiful a chair to be languishing unfinished and un-sat-in!




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Fall Extravaganza

All these leaves, and the four maple trees around our house haven't even turned yet!

There are things I hate about autumn – mostly that it’s the harbinger of winter, and winter means I have to scoop and bundle up like a doofus to ride my bike to work – but man, you just can’t beat the leaves turning in northern Wisconsin.   I finally finished painting the porch columns, and did my best to hide the porch panels (but they’re going to be replaced by open, slatted panels next spring, so I’m not all that invested in the way they look for the moment).  In a spur of activity that’s, frankly, unlike our regular plodding pace, we raked the whole yard, swept the driveway, pulled out all the flowers between the house and garage, squared up the flagstones, cut down the fugly thorn bush from the back corner, and hauled the whole mess to the yardwaste dump.  What a spectacular day for all of it – I’d work my butt off on a 70-degree mid-October afternoon all winter long if God would just cut me some slack on the snow front.

I don't know what these flowers were called, but now they're called yard waste

Flagstones in a diamond pattern offend my delicate sensibilities

The ugliest bush on the block? Now it's yard waste too!

Josie and her mother are slightly concerned with my chainsawing acumen

Josie and her mother are slightly concerned with my chainsawing acumen

All squared up and mulched using wood from the city's chipper-pile

Too little to jump, not too little to enjoy it anyway

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