Archive for May, 2007


Bedroom Status Report 2

Looks like I have a deadline for finishing the bedroom. June 6. Our friend Scott is coming to town for a conference and he’ll need the guest suite, so it will need to be free of the furniture from our bedroom placed there temporarily while we work.

For the sake of scheduling ease (our lives are too complicated to work around someone else at the moment), we’ve decided to do the painting ourselves. Know that I will say at least fifty times as we are painting, “we totally should have hired someone.” John will ignore me, as he should in such cases.

BTW, I like Benjamin Moore paints (also Sherwin Williams, Porter and even Behr-I can’t afford Farrow and Ball), but something it took me awhile to realize is that not all paint stores are alike. Their mixing skills vary. So either get all of the paint you need on one trip or find a good paint store because if you run out, you may well end up bringing back a slightly different color or finish the second time.  That happened to me once, and it annoys me everytime I see the result in our kitchen.

We’ll be using:

Palladian Blue (HC-144 – Eggshell)
from Rollie Williams Paint Spot
5292 E 65th St
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 842-6772

Rollie’s is a Benjamin Moore dealer here in town that I’ve used before with good luck.

Dave, who is in the residential leasing biz, says a cleaning service could do wonders for our carpet and that we really don’t have to replace it. So that should save some trouble and a little money. If I can get him to provide the company’s name I’ll call them and post their info here as a resource for Indy folks.

John is on vacation next week, so we’ll hit the ground running with painting next Tuesday when we get back from Batesville.

I still need to:

Call and order paint
Measure for, then order matchstick blinds and window hardware
Pick up the reupholstered wingback
Take two other chairs to be reupholstered

Keep your fingers crossed and pray for John. As much as I try to be good, I get antsy in the middle of weeks long projects. And I can get kind of sullen towards the end when it seems like the details will never come together.


Blusche and Eggplant

For some reason I love the color combination of this blusche Peony against the eggplant color (color: True Value Harware – River Mud) on our kitchen walls. If I could, I would paint a library with eggplant walls and have blusche colored drapes made from billowy silk (lined) for the tall windows. I think these two colors both look good with a little sparkly gold, so I would use antique brass details and light fixtures.  Crystal would work, too, I think.

Blusche and Eggplant 2

Blusche and Eggplant 3


My House is Never Clean

I don’t keep our house that clean. There are no beer cans or pizza boxes under the sofa or anything, but unless company is coming (and often even as they are walking through the door) the hard surfaces of our case goods typically are softened by a thin, gauzy layer of dust. And Claire sheds enough hair each week to fill a mattress. Who can keep up? A lot of folks could.  But so far, not me.

It’s not my mom’s fault. I grew up in a spotless home. When mom got too busy to clean it herself she hired the best people in town to do it for her. My mom is much beloved wherever she goes, but she is known for her exacting standards when it comes to cleaning, to the point that one woman left a note after her morning’s work that said, “I obviously can’t please you, so I won’t be back next week.” My mom read the note to me remarking with a sigh as she threw it in the trash can, “I don’t know how someone who won’t remove a cobweb big enough to strangle an elephant ever expects to make a living cleaning houses.” My mother exaggerated. Spiders spun webs from the tops of trees in Batesville to avoid her brooms. I doubt an inch of thread left an arachnid behind in our house before the offending spider was pummeled into its next plane of existence.

Mom eventually found a winner in Shirley. She was my favorite of the women who cleaned our house. Wiry, short and kind of loud, Shirley wore hot pink or baby blue velour jogging suits to clean in. She had hair like Liza Manelli’s only a little longer. It was actually a fe-mullet.

Mom left a pot of strong coffee on for Shirley to drink on the mornings she cleaned. She would always put whatever knick knack she inevitably broke as she rocketed around the house on the bar with a sweet and apologetic note, “Katy, so sorry!!”

Destructive as Shirley was, she cleaned a mean house and my mom knew that a few broken object d’arts was a small price to pay to keep her on. Accidents aside, Shirley took a lot of pride in her work. And she cleaned for every house in our neighborhood. Except for one. One day mom got a frantic phone call from Donna Ruth Arnold, the construction contractor who lived down the street from us.

“Katy, have you seen Shirley?”

“No, why?”

“Well, she just beat the hell out of Susie Cato.”

I never got Susie’s side of the story. Talk was that she was one of Shirley’s customers until Susie made a snide and disparaging remark about her work, with which Shirley evidently disagreed. So right there in Susie’s doorway Shirley let her fists do the talking.

I found Shirley to be completely friendly and supportive. Once my name was in our local paper because I participated in a mock trial at high school, sort of a theatrical civics lesson. In the story, my character was picked up for school by another guy who had drugs under his seat. Pulled over for speeding, my friend was arrested for possession. My guilt by association was questioned in the trial.

The paper made clear that the trial was fake, but this fact was still lost on Shirley. So when I came downstairs one morning on one of her cleaning days not long after the article appeared, she said,

“Well, I read in the paper you got into a little trouble.”

I realized she was referring to the mock trial. I thought she was just having some fun. “Yeah, kind of embarrassing to be on trial in front of the whole school,” I said.

“We all make mistakes. Was your momma and daddy mad?” It occurred to me that she didn’t realize the trial was staged.

“You know, Shirley, that was a fake trial.”

“I know, sometime it’s like they’re cut and dried. The important thing is that you learned from what ya done.”

“No, it was a pretend trial to show the school what a real trial is like.”

“We don’t have to talk about it. But, listen, if you ever need anything, you let me know. Don’t be afraid to call me. I know you’re a good kid. You’re momma and daddy raised you right. You gotta watch who you hang out with though.”

Finally, I just said,“Ok. Thanks.”

Where is Shirley now that I need her?


Upholstery Lessons Learned


 Though I watch HGTV I hate that it dooms real life interior designers by creating the impression that an entire room can be properly redesigned over a weekend.   I do believe a weekend redo can happen IF:


  • The clients agree to disappear and chuck their opinions.

  • You live in a place like LA where quality materials stores are on every street corner.  And they have a million selections, all of which are in stock. 

  • You have a traveling troupe of carpenters, painters and upholsterers following you waiting for something to do.

   But for us schmoes living in the Midwest trying to do it ourselves or with a single professional who has several other projects on the table it takes much longer. 

  And here is a perfect example of how it happens for the DIY’er like me. 

I’m trying to redesign our bedroom on a budget, actually on almost no budget—2,000.00. (The 500.00 you see on Design on a Dime never takes into account labor costs.  How does that sweet Joan Stephan sleep at night?). 

  I’d hoped to use fabrics leftover from other projects for the three chairs I’m having upholstered. 

The two fabrics above will go on the front and back of a rocker and a Victorian arm chair (large print on the front) I have. 

  John’s mom gave me a perfect wingback auction find from her garage.  It’s beautiful and this is the fabric I was GOING to use.  It’s a light gold matlasse. 

Fabrics 2


   Here’s the snag I ran into: Not enough of the gold fabric.  4.5 yards is all I had.  I forgot I originally bought it to cover an ottoman I was going to have made. 

  Learn from Troy’s Mistakes Tip 1:  When having a custom piece made, have the piece finished or at least ordered before you buy fabric for it.   If you are not at that stage, you may not be committed to the project, and obviously I wasn’t.  So I still don’t have that ottoman, but I do have fabric I can’t use.  


  Learn from Troy’s Mistakes Tip 2:  Know how much yardage you need.  My upholster says it will take them 7 yards of a small print or 9 yards of a large print to finish a wingback chair.  Don’t think I won’t be filing this away for future reference.


  So in addition to the 250.00 it will cost to reupholster the chair.  I will spend probably another 110.00 (conservative estimate) for 7 yards of a small print fabric. 

Some of you may be asking, “Troy, at  $360.00 (before tax), why not just buy a new chair?“  Good question and one I always ask myself before I pay to recover something. 

  To match the quality of the chair Linda is giving me I would probably have to spend a minimum of $1,200.00 (upholstery included).  The construction and form of the auction chair are that good.  It isn’t fancy, but a good, classic chair costs that much.  

  So there you have it.  Now I have to find time to go fabric shopping, something I love to do, but not something I have a lot of time for right now.  Oh well, Calico Corner, here I come. 



Pink Hawaiian Peonies

(The Peony border my friend Kris recommended we plant.) 

My mom’s first cousin Gary made a tidy bundle selling what I call truckstop ephemera- things like shot glasses and mesh hats with front panels that say things like “Old Fart” and “Official Hiney Inspector.”   

Pink Hawaiian Peony

(Peony, Pink Hawaiian)

Of course, he sold literature like “The Official Hillbilly Cookbook” and “How to Talk Southern”, too.  The latter is where the blog title above comes from (Flares– “Ooowee shug, them flares yur bruther sent you sho’ is perty.”)  Like a fool I’ve let my copy disappear.  I’d ask my cousin Gary to help me find a new one, but I’m not so inclined since two family reunions ago he made a point of standing up in the middle of lunch to declare his undying love for George Bush and his most ardent opposition to gay marriage.  This even though he has a gay son, Matt, who–irony alert!– spends his days riding the highways of America with his gay truckdriver partner.  I’ve never met my cousin’s partner.  I’d like to.  I’ve often wondered what his hat might say.    

Pink Hawaiian Peony

These days Gary couldn’t hook me up with the book anyway, since he has retired from the retail humor business and made the move to travel humor.  In addition to his talent for laying flat a family event, he also does a mean Gomer Pyle imitation that knocks folks old enough to remember the plucky private on their behinds.  (“Mean” here refers to quality, not bitterness.  Bitter Gomer would actually be funny.)  Frequent impromptu impersonations on airlines eventually landed him a gig doing his bit on a regular paid basis.  Where?  On a cruise ship, a place guaranteed to be chocked full of people old enough to remember Gomer.  Now that, folks, is a salesman.  


(Allium and Siberian Iris)

Mom tells me that Matt sometimes travels with his dad to catch his cruise act.  Despite his bravura pronouncements, I believe Gary is on the path to a better understanding and acceptance of who his son and I are.  I think he took the first steps down that path not on the day that his son came out, but on the day of the reunion when my mom threatened to walk out of her cousin’s home and not come back if he didn’t put a sock in it.  As I believe hope springs eternal, it is in honor of Gary that I post these flares from the spring garden of his happily hitched cousin.   

White Iris

(Iris, “Butter and Eggs” [I think])