Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thrifting Thursday (antique postcard)

We worked at the thrift store today. We really are there to work, not shop, but it's impossible not to be tempted, at least a little, to "rescue" a few little things here and there.

Today I rescued an antique postcard that was destined to be "passed along". (ie: donated to Goodwill, which is what happens to items that aren't nice enough to sell at our store...) The postcard was tied on, with a scrap of ribbon, to the arm of a hideous stuffed rabbit. The rabbit looked like a cross between a rag doll and a bunny, made of flowery fabric, and dressed in a frilly dress. Interestingly, it appeared to have a beard made of some tufts of fluffy faux fur attached just below it's mouth. Glued onto one of it's arm was a tiny basket filled with teeny tiny Christmas ornaments, the postcard was tied onto the other arm.

It's really impossible to accurately describe the strangeness of this stuffed rabbit... it looked like some kind of disturbed mix of Christmas and Easter.

Except for the postcard, which was charming.

The strange rabbit was headed for Goodwill, so I asked for the postcard.... it really seemed to need rescuing.

It has the sweetest verse on the front...

... and an equally nice little note on the back.

It's darkened a bit with age, and has a bit of water damage on one corner, but those things just add to it's character... and, of course, it also has a hole punched in one side where it was tied onto the hideous bunny.

It's dated December, 15, 1926...

... and it's a lovely addition to our postcard collection.

Speaking of postcards, the kids and I are still having a great time with Postcrossing... We've sent out, and received just over 100 postcards since we joined back in the fall of 2013. You can read about our Postcrossing adventures here and here.

Edited to add: Just for fun I looked up the address the postcard was sent to and found this little bungalow:

It was a fairly new home when that card was sent...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

temporarily unplugged... (and a project update)

.... that's the short story of last week.

My computer ended up with a virus, which left it virtually unusable...

And then I broke my (new!) cell phone.

It felt odd not to have either one of them working.

But I did take that time to keep working on my bathroom, and I have to say I'm really happy with how it's turning out.

I spent most of the week working on adding shutters to the bathroom windows. I started out with these two sets of old bi-fold shutters that came off the basement windows in daughter E's house... She didn't need them, but they were too good to just throw away...

I liked the chippy paint, and wanted more privacy for the big windows in my bathroom...

My plan was to somehow adapt and recycle these old shutters to fit the bathroom windows. The height of the shutters was perfect, but unfortunately, the bathroom windows are MUCH wider than the little basement windows the shutters came off of... so I had to get creative.

I finally decided to take the shutters apart, and use two louvers shutter sections, and two newly made solid sections for each of the three windows. Using them that way would give me enough width to span the window, and hopefully look intentional.

I bought some of the better grade pine at Home Depot, and had one piece ripped to size there, because of the strange widths of my windows, and then started taking the shutters apart, and cutting the wood to fit, and then putting them back together again and mounting them on the windows.

I mounted vertical supports between each of the three windows for mounting, so I wouldn't have too many holes in the windows frames... (Just in case this turned out to be a huge fail! I was planning ahead...) Here's a picture of one of the vertical support pieces... i'st just held on with a couple of finishing nails.

I'd already started hanging the shutters in that photo... a looong process that involved hanging a couple of the sections twice to get them as straight and level as possible on a window that, like the rest of the house, isn't as square as you would expect a window to be!

Lots of wood putty and paint later... here's the finished product..

I do love how they turned out.

Plenty of light when I want light, but plenty of privacy too. It was kind of a long, too-much-math-for-me project, but I'm so glad I did it. Just a little more baseboard work and the bathroom is DONE. Pictures soon... (unless my computer crashes again!)

Friday, January 16, 2015

blue sky bathroom...

I've been working this week in my bathroom... I started working on adapting the shutters E gave me for the bathroom windows, and then kind of shifted gears. I'd needed to make another trip to Home Depot to buy a bit more wood for the shutters before I could go any further... but M gets so unsettled there... and we'd already been there several times lately... and I woke up Wednesday morning knowing just how I wanted to paint the bathroom... AND I had the paint I needed (leftover from other projects) already in my paint stash.

So... I started painting... a job which includes replacing the baseboard... which was really door moulding. (The previous owners must have gotten a very good deal on a lot of cheap door moulding... they used it everywhere!)

The painting is going well (I decided to do something different, at least for me)... I'm painting the ceiling and top of the walls sky blue, the rest of the walls white, and adding a decorative wood moulding to cover the transition between colors.

Here's a little sneak peak:

I thought that replacing the baseboards was going to be the easy part of the bathroom update... I've already replaced most of the baseboards in the house and none have given me any trouble. (Some of them weren't even attached to the wall... just set in place!) The baseboards in my bathroom had to be different though... I had a bear of a time getting them off.

They hung on so tightly to that wall that, despite scoring it before prying it off, I ended up with spots like this;

Grumble, grumble...

The good part was. by the time I was done pulling the old baseboards off, so many had broken, and it had been so pieced together, that the pieces were small enough to fit into the trash can!

The plan for today (besides spending time outside enjoying the beautiful weather we're supposed to have!) is putting up the new baseboards and painting all the trim, and then it's time to start back on the shutter project that got me started in this bathroom in the first place!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

here comes the sun....

I never get tired of watching the sunrise...

It's supposed to be a beautiful spring-like day here, and I can't wait for the sun to warm things up after days upon days of it being cloudy and cold.

It will be heaven to have a bit of shirt sleeve weather...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

let the fun begin...

The past few years I've gotten into the habit of spending the first few months of the year working on fix-up projects around the house. With a minimum of outside work needing to be done, no major holidays to plan, and snow and cold keeping us close to home, it seems like the perfect time to tackle some of the larger, inside jobs.... like the jobs I've done in past years... replacing the baseboards and door moldings, painting the kid's rooms, replacing the living room carpet with wood, painting the kitchen island, etc.

This year's agenda is, I think, pretty do-able... hopefully I'll get it done before the weather warms up and it's time to start working outside again.

I want to repaint the main bathroom...


I painted it twice last year, trying to get the right color to match the old (but still good) tub/shower surround. I finally had to stop painting it because we were having company and that bathroom needed to be available... but I've hated the color for a year. Three test pots of paint later, I think I've found the right color. Hopefully I'll get that done later this week...

Shutters in my bathroom. E gave me some old shutters that came off her basement windows. They are old, but cool, with plenty of chippy paint.

At first I tried to use them in "crafty" sorts of ways (Christmas card holder, for example) but then got the idea to try to modify them to fit my three big bathroom windows.

 I was going to make some "prairie shutters" for those windows this year anyway, but the shutters E gave me have louvers... a plus... and they are about the right height... another plus. But there are only two sets (of four shutter pieces) and I have three windows. I have a plan though, for adapting them to make it work, and made some vertical support pieces yesterday and added them to the window (for the hinges to attach to). I'll let you know how the project turns out, I'm hoping to have it done by next week sometime.

Two bigger projects I'm hoping to get to are adding a sliding "barn door" to our basement room, and adding beadboard (also leftover from E's house) to my kitchen island and upgrading it a little in the process.

The "barn door" is a must-do... when we had the basement finished I thought an open doorway, between the back room and the mudroom, would look best. It's a very small basement, and I didn't want it to feel too cut up. But... I've found that sometimes I want or need to close that room off (it's visible from the living room when the basement door is open) and it's frustrating that I can't.

Joe even got me a Kreg jig for Christmas just so I could build that door. (I have to build the door because the opening isn't a standard size.) I was playing with my new jig the other day, figuring out how to use it, and made this tiny chalkboard out of some old wood I had laying around... I think building the door will be fun!


I also have a few smaller projects I'm hoping to get to; painting my bathroom and replacing those baseboards and door moldings (they didn't get done when I did the rest), and replacing a few overhead lights... I'm looking forward to the next few months and excited to get started on the projects I've been thinking about since last spring!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

The "Six Word Story" K left on the board in the kitchen before she left for Ghana...

"there's still no place like home"

I talked to her yesterday and she's in Accra and sounds good... I think she's heading back to her village in the next day or two.

I'm so happy that she loves her Peace Corps work...

Friday, January 9, 2015

Life is never boring (an update on M's back)

M had his long awaited appointment at the Colorado Comprehensive Spine Institute on Monday and it was not exactly what I was expecting... (or even close!)

I've already written a letter to the CCSI about our experiences, so rather than write about it again I'll just cut and paste the letter (yes, I am that lazy!).

It's a long letter so (just in case you don't want to read the whole thing) the condensed version is the appointment was a waste of time, we'll won't be going back there, and I have an overwhelming urge to send a thank you note to Dr L, M's regular spine doc at UCSHC.

Get comfortable... here's the letter:

January 8, 2015

To: Colorado Comprehensive Spine Institute Administration

Re: January 5, 2015 appointment with Dr Kuklo

This is to follow up my phone call to CCSI on 1-8-15 regarding my concerns about my son, M K’s,  1-5-15 appointment with Dr Kuklo. 

Due to my son’s disabilities I am his legal guardian. When I called to make his appointment I explained that my son is both developmentally delayed and has schizophrenia, and needs to see a physician who would be sensitive to his unique needs…he is not a typical 22 year old. I was assured that Dr Kuklo saw many of the CCSI pediatric patients, and was very good with individuals with special needs. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case. By the end of my his appointment with Dr Kuklo M felt hopeless about his back problems (an L5 pars fracture), confused and upset… Dr Kuklo told him several times that his back would never heal, giving the explanation that it would not heal because the fracture was on the “compression side”… M was not able to understand the explanation, he understood only the message that his back would “never heal“ (in M's mind, “never get better, pain forever“). 

Dr Kuklo gave the impression that M’s back problem is so common as to be unimportant, saying that 5% of the population has pars fractures… He seemed to have no interest in the impact this injury and the associated pain has had on M’s life. I understand that, as back problems go, a pars fracture is a common issue and not an emergency… However, the fracture has impacted M’s life significantly for over a year and is not a common issue for us. It would have been nice if Dr Kuklo had treated M’s experience with a bit more sensitivity and respect…

Dr Kuklo spoke disparagingly about other treatment options that have been suggested by other spine physicians M has seen and was so outspoken about his poor opinion of surgery for M’s problem, and it’s slight chance for success, that if M does need that type of surgery in the future, it’s likely to be very difficult to get him past the anxiety triggered by Dr Kuklo’s overzealous and overbearing sharing of his negative opinions. 

As the parent of two children (now young adults) with special needs it’s easy for me to recognize people who are sensitive to, and understanding of, those with disabilities. Dr Kuklo was neither… I have no idea why M was scheduled with him. Dr Kuklo’s words and the attitude in which he said them were confusing and hurtful to my son… 

During the appointment Dr Kuklo came across as arrogant and patronizing towards me as well, at one point telling me that M has a pars fracture, then asking “Do you know what that means?” in a tone of voice that left no doubt in my mind that he believed I was an uneducated, clueless, parent and could not possibly understand the big words he was using. Had he taken the time to read through the medical records I provided, he would have seen that M has been in treatment for the pars fracture for almost a year… Does he really think I would not know what the doctors have been treating all this time?  M has been seeing highly educated and experienced physicians for his entire life, I have gotten used to being treated with respect and as a partner in his care by the many specialists he sees (orthopedists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, just to name a few…) Does Dr Kuklo really have such a low opinion of parents who take on the job of caring for their seriously disabled adult children? 

Our appointment ended up taking almost two hours… only about 15 minutes of that time was actually spent with Dr Kuklo. Part of those two hours was spent on an x-ray, but most of that time was spent sitting in the waiting room while Michael’s anxiety went up, he wandered restlessly, and those who came in after us were called back. That kind of a wait is extremely difficult for someone who is developmentally delayed, mentally ill, and anxious about the appointment before we even walked in the door… 

We waited two months for our appointment with Dr Kuklo… two months during which M’s back treatment was on hold and he struggled with the pain and all it brings with it (pain causes stress, stress causes an increase in psychiatric symptoms, including psychosis). We made the decision to do this because I’d heard good things about the CCSI, and I hoped the orthopedist we saw would help us clarify the next step in M’s treatment. Instead we ended up with an unnecessary x-ray and 15 minutes with an arrogant, opinionated, and insensitive, doctor. The appointment was a complete waste of our time. 

Imagine my surprise the next day when I decided to leave feedback about our appointment online, googled Dr Kuklo’s name and found his past checkered with various professional/ethical issues. Why would you schedule my son… who is so vulnerable and nothing but complicated medically, developmentally, and psychiatrically with a physician with Dr Kuklo’s very poor bedside manner, and questionable history? 

I am extremely thankful that we do not have to see Dr Kuklo again, and that M still has good treatment options available to him (not through CCSI, obviously)…  but angry about the lack of caring about the patient we experienced. I had much higher hopes for your clinic and your doctors… 

(I'll let you know what kind of response I get, if any....)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thrifting Thursday (WWII era game set)

I found rescued this little game set a few weeks ago, but never shared it and decided it's too cool to keep to myself.

It came from a thrift store up in Denver, where I found it sitting on a shelf in the toy aisle, partially open, with playing cards spilling out of it.

I could tell the little case was old, but looked inside just briefly before putting it in my cart. I wasn't really even thinking about buying it at that point, but I knew it was old, and wasn't a toy, so I put it in my cart to look at later to try and figure out just what it was.

But then I forgot about it, got to the checkout to pay, and found it again... I saw the price was only $2.00 so I bought it. I figured the little antique suitcase alone was worth that...

When I got home and explored my purchase, I realized I'd found a little gem... I found a short handwritten tucked away in the case telling it's history. Here's what it says:


Hope you like this - it's not new, it's about 40 years old. (Pearl Harbor days) - It belonged to a good friend of mine - his wife owns the local antique store - (Dolly's Antiques-) Her husband is ill and was disposing of all his things he had during his younger days. Dolly said Bill had this when he was in the Navy during WWII. I thought you would like to have it - take care and pass it down to your sons - !

Happy Christmas - and hope the Bunny Business picks up! 

                             Love Gran and Grandad xxx

So the letter dates from the 1980's, and the case holds a bit of WWII history... and a sad story of that bit of history somehow ending up on a thrift store toy shelf.

It's a game set made my Rott Games, and dates (as close as I can figure out) from 1939-1940ish.

It includes checkers, backgammon, dominoes, cribbage, dice, a horse race game, two decks of playing cards (one newer, not original), poker chips, and two playing mats... a felt one for the horse race game, and the other... made from an interesting oil-cloth kind of material... for checkers/chess and backgammon.

I'm so glad I rescued it, and I wonder about the man (boy?) who carried this little case with him during his time of service during the horrific WWII years... I think about the games he played with his buddies (cribbage might have been the most popular, the cribbage set is pretty worn) and the stories the case could tell if it could talk.

I do love stumbling upon little bits of history like this...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

lunar love

As I left the house early yesterday morning, heading to the barn to feed, I was literally stopped in my tracks by the beauty... the brilliance... of the full moon over the barn.

It seemed to be hanging over the horizon... playing peek a boo through the drifting clouds. So, of course, I had to run back inside the house for the camera... to try and catch even a bit of it's beauty before it dropped below the hill and was gone.

I so love the moon.. especially a full moon. It's only since moving away from the city that I've really appreciated it though... in the city, it was just another light in the sky, competing with street lights, headlights, and signs advertising everything from the grocery store on the corner to the church up on the hill.

Here it's the big show... and I love it's soft, magical light each month.

None of my pictures truly capture the brillance of that moon... but I'll keep trying... and there is nothing better than starting the day being stopped in my tracks by it's beauty.

This has always been one of my most comforting saying ~

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

mid-winter settling in...

The holidays are over...

The tree has been taken down, ornaments packed away for another year, the tree itself waiting to be turned into mulch.

We celebrated Christmas three times in two weeks, and celebrated Thanksgiving once during that same time.

We're kind of all celebrated out...

It was a lovely Christmas though... our daughter K was home from the Peace Corps for two weeks (which is why we celebrated Thanksgiving on New Year's Day... she's missed the last two Thanksgivings and really wanted a Thanksgiving dinner with all of us), and it was so good to see her and have the whole family together.

Besides the many Christmas celebrations, and our January 1st "fakesgiving", we all went to see the new Annie movie together, and K and R ice skated afterwards while M and I watched and enjoyed...

We also went out to eat TOO much, had a great time shopping (and introduced K to "Freddy's"... she's a fan now) and spent a lot of time just hanging out, being together. The visit seemed to go quickly...K left on Saturday for Ghana and the house has been pretty quiet since then.

It has been good though to have all the Christmas ornaments and other decorations packed away for another year. I always enjoy the mid-winter calm after the holidays... after the busy-ness of December, I always feel rich with time in January. (I'm already happily planning this year's house projects!)

One last picture... our whole family... Joe and I on the left, with three of our grandchildren sitting around the table (our oldest granddaughter is behind her brother next to R), and our kids, including our son-in-law standing behind.

Happy New Year!