A Mistake

I saw this lovely old chest for sale in one of the local antique markets around here. And around here,  “antique ” means good old wood  stuff that some Etsy wannabe has ruined with chalk paint and then stenciled a sea shell on top. But this was different – it wasn’t chalk paint it was old fashioned oil based paint, lovingly worn away at the touch points instead of assaulted with 100 grit sand paper to look distressed*. The description in the local ad called this dresser “a lovely old gal” and she sure is. Even the modest floral design is hand-painted freehand and is exactly right.

ugh I did not buy this

But in person it was hideous. It’s hulking presence was enormous – the top was almost at my chin. The green and yellow hues which looked so appealing  in the photo were soiled with decades of cigarette smoke. It was just wrong.  And the price tag was an unacceptable $329.00.

But I was looking for a small dresser to put into the guestroom to hold bed linens and to be another surface for guests to lay out their stuff. At the same store, I found this sort of cottage-y thing at the right price ($50.00) and unfortunately wearing a coat of pale aqua chalk paint. It did have the original hardware which mercifully was unmolested. My intention was to paint it in the same color scheme as the lovely old gal and adorn it with a modest amount of tasteful floral decals.

ugh I did buy this

It might appear to be another hulking specimen but it’s really quite petite – only 36″ tall and 18″ x 29″. It sat for a week or two in the guest room while I thought things over, and then I bought two sample paint pots from Lowes. Today I applied spots of paint in various combinations to determine if it was going to be green on yellow or yellow on green. And while I was up close and personal with it, I made a discovery about this little dresser.

This is the point in my story where I apologize to the chalk paint. Because the chalk paint is the only thing holding it together. The person who sold it must have found the chopped up pieces in a wood pile somewhere and reassembled it. It’s that much of a mess. So instead of a simple independent painting project this has turned into a wood glue wood filler extensive sanding that then painting project that now depends on Sami . Who probably will conclude that he has a say in the finished appearance. Correction: … will erroneously conclude …

I’ve lost heart for it. I’m going to go through with the rehab just to get it out of my system and then I’ll sell it. I made a mistake bringing this home with me and I don’t want to be reminded of that.

*Distressed is exactly the right term for this treatment. I am EXTREMELY distressed by how many salvageable wood pieces have been sacrificed to appease the chalk paint gods.

My Name Is Sue! How Do You Do? Now You’re Gonna Die!

The One Where Suzette Pays $25 For A Single Day Lily  … and then wakes up to find that her husband has helpfully pulled a weed except no actual weeds got pulled in fact nothing else at all got pulled only the  single $25 day lily. bella-lugosiHe’s done this before and every time I have escalated the intensity of the shit fit I throw to be sure he understands that he must not do it ever again. Last summer, when he did this to a 5 foot tall sun flowerish perennial covered with flower buds about to open, it was a mighty scene let me tell you. I though it made a lasting impression on him, but me and Bela Lugosi are here to tell you that apparently, it did not. I went out to that area early this morning to pull some actual weeds in preparation for the lavender I was planning to put in today. I saw a hole where the centerpiece of my new bed used to be. This bed is 98% plain dirt and this plant was sticking up, bright green growth about 4″ tall, near the driveway border. I should have known better, but I sent him on a mission that put him in near proximity of the bed. I asked him to measure it so that I could plot out my plantings on graph paper before I went out to buy what I needed. Like sending an alcoholic into a bar. He could not resist. He did however manage to resist the few scant weeds in that bed and also a common wild day lily coming up 12″ away from the Bela Lugosi. It’s like he’s got a detector for which green growing thing would I miss the most if it was gone. And you know, when I saw the hole, I had a feeling he was responsible so I walked over to check my garbage can to see if it was in there. But it wasn’t and also the neighbor’s trash can was tipped over so I thought okay maybe it was a raccoon. So I came in the house and I couldn’t sit down so I went back out with the measuring tape to see for myself and there it was on the driveway, next to almost under a stack of mulch he brought home yesterday. The leaves were pulled off of the tuber so it must have given him a fight, but still he persisted until he got it out. Well, what’s done is done. Can’t change the past. Here’s my recovery plan:

  • replant the tuber and hope for the best
  • remain calm, maybe take a relaxing bath
  • wait until he gets out of bed
  • grab an axe and bash his brains out

 UPDATE:  He got up. We had a discussion.He is not dead. I insisted that he take an oath that this will never happen again, but frankly I know that must live out the rest of my days dreading that it will. Over and over again. Anyway, here’s what I have planned for that little bed. p.s. I just ordered two new Bela Lugosi’s. Take that, Sami.

plant legend in size order from tallest to shortest



Sami was able to patch the tusk.


There was this blue elephant, see? I wrecked it and I am feeling very, very bad about it.

It was harvested from a curbside trashpile many years ago and spent most of its time in the garage, ignored and buried under our own junk. The top has a deep depression in it so it’s probably a planter. Maybe a base for a glass topped-end table. It came into the living room last year so we could look at it and ponder if it (a) could benefit from a spray paint makeover or (b) should go back to the trash. Believe me, nobody ever wanted to trash it. It has great detail in terms of elephant wrinkles, toenails and tassels that hang from the howdah and the deep aqua glaze that stuck in those details and made it all the more compelling.

Finally its day in the sun came and it was decided that it would go Glossy Ivory and move to Philadelphia where my daughter, the curbside harvester herself, would incorporate it into the decor of the apartment she’s moving into this weekend. This morning I picked it up to test how heavy it was and if I could carry it out to the deck myself or if I had to wait for Sami to do it. It was surprisingly light and manageable. I thought all along that it was concrete but it turns out to be made of plaster. I walked it through the kitchen on the way out to the deck but I misjudged how wide it was as I carried it.

You know, when I was getting near the kitchen table, I thought maybe I should put it down and regroup for the rest of the trip. But I was so pleased with how I was managing and proud that I didn’t need any help to do this so I kept on going. So funny how life changes in a flash because right then is when  I crashed it into the side of a chair as i passed it.


Severe tusk damage. Sad face sad face sad face. SAD FACE!  I tried gluing it back together and it will probably be okay if I just find that one last piece. Maybe Sami can patch it up. He’s pretty good with holes in drywall maybe he can fill this. He thinks he can.

My daughter took the news very well. “It’s ok. At the end of the day it came from the garbage, right?” she texted back to me. I offered to spray paint the faded garden gnome hoisting a foaming beer mug for her but she declined. She’s really not upset about it but I feel terrible. I was the guardian of the blue elephant and I failed.


UPDATE! Sami was able to patch the tusk and also an area on the butt that we didn’t see before. Apparently, the plaster body has a slip coat over it and that is where the glaze was applied. That slip coat is no thicker and no stronger than the hard candy shell on an M&M. The elephant’s butt had an irregularly shaped 2″x 2″ section where the glazed shell fell off. Sami patched that too.

I sprayed a light test coat of Krylon Gloss Ivory on one side this morning and at the first pass, it became obvious that the entire shell is crazed. But I’m moving ahead anyway. It is my destiny to prop up imperfect things that are temporary and preserve them and share them as long as I can.  Vintage redwood patio furniture that rots and crumbles, mid-century dinnerware that chips and smashes, even The Painted Deer which seemed indestructible but was felled by a hurricane.

There’s a lesson in all this I guess. Something about how all things are transient, or don’t get too attached to material things. Or maybe just you are a weirdo stop wasting your time. But how can I stop? And why should I? This thing is going to be magnificent. For as long as it lasts.

RIGHT? Maybe if I use enough spray paint it will strengthen the crazed shell and prolong the life of the elephant. Maybe.


There will be no blogging today due to my extreme grief caused by a clueless  husband on the loose with a hedge clipper in his hand who thought he was doing the world a favor by stepping over the little border fence at the edge of my flower bed trampling the iris leaves to hack down a giant cluster of perennial sunflowers that i have been cultivating for 12 years and  it was just about the only thing that was thriving in this stupid summer of copious rain alternating with blazing heat and not just hacking it down but digging it out by the roots and claiming that he thought it was an enormous weed with yellow buds about to open on it even though he is completely unbothered by any actual weeds around here and this isn’t even the first time his superpower to misidentify a highly valued plant as a weed and annihilate it has rendered me inconsolable.


The Saga of the Volunteer Tomato – Preface

The Saga of the Volunteer Tomato – Fini

The Leader Of the So Far Still Free World


I wonder who had the job of waking him up for the Boston bomber press conference last night?

Does anyone else think he was wearing his pajamas under that suit?

Did you ever see a more mournful expresssion on a  US President making a statement of national interest ever? Ever?

  • Harry Truman tells America about the bombing of Hiroshma:
They have been repaid many fold.
  • FDR declaring war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor:
Roosevelt Declares War
A date which will live in infamy.
  • LBJ and a dozen other mourners after the Kennedy assassination:
HIstoric Images From The Amercan 20th Century
I do solemnly swear …
  • Barry Sotero pulled out of bed and forced to compliment the (stupid) Boston police during a pitch-perfect speech that he obviously had nothing to do with creating:
To paraphrase Uncle Ruslan: “Being loser!”