Long time coming part 2 (Mom’s little desk)

Last week I wrote about putting my Mom’s old desk, handmade by her grandfather in the 30′s, back together again. I’d had to make a few new pieces to replace parts of the desk that had been lost or were too warped to use, but I left off last week with the desk back in one piece, primed and ready to paint.

Usually, for me, painting furniture is a super easy and fun job. I have MANY cans of paint in the basement and can usually find a color I want without a trip to the store… or I’ll sometimes mix my own color from the odds and ends in my paint “stash”. (Other people have yarn or fabric stashes, I hoard paint!) But this project was harder… I wanted it to be just right, to “respect” the history of that sweet little desk, and my great-grandfather who built it.

Which meant I couldn’t decide on a color…

An antique white? Maybe more black? Another color entirely?

While I was thinking about it I decided to give the drawer front a quick sanding… It was the only part of the desk that had not been stripped down to bare wood…  and it had glossy white paint on it that I knew would have to be roughed up a little before painting.

I was lazy and used my little power sander, and within five minutes I knew I couldn’t paint the drawer front.

The sander had revealed at least a half dozen different colors of paint…

I saw red, black, brown, tan, white, green, and yellow paint peaking out here and there from the places I’d sanded… most of the colors chosen and painted by my grandmother decades ago.

The sanded drawer front gave me the idea for how I needed to paint the desk…

I decided to leave the drawer front just as it is and match the desk to it. This involved taking the drawer front down to Home Depot and getting a sample pot of paint matched to the green color my sanding revealed. The green seemed to be the most prominent color, and is also the color from my childhood… the color I remember the desk being “originally” (my earliest memories of it).

I painted the entire desk with the green paint, then painted “highlights” on some of the edges with some chocolate brown paint (leftover from this project) hoping that some of it would show through and mimic the brown paint my sanding had exposed. Finally I pulled out my collection of white paints and mixed pure white with an off white I had until I matched, as closely as possible, the color of the drawer front. I painted the entire desk (except the drawer of course) with two coats of the newly mixed white paint.

Then I started sanding… I used the little power sander again, and took off enough white paint for the green and brown to peak through here and there.

I love the way the legs turned out…

It’s a rougher finish, more distressed, than most of my furniture paint projects… but I thought it needed to be. It wouldn’t have looked right with a lovely perfect paint finish…

I finished the project by making a knob for the drawer out of a piece of scrap wood and staining it dark (to match the inside of the drawer and the tiny stained knob on the little inner drawer).

Here it is… all finished. I love how it turned out… (Note to sibs: I was going to replace the cubbies that used to be under the shelf, but decided not to… at least for now, because it’s more functional without them.)

I’m using it as a nightstand, and it feels so good to have it “part of the family” and useful again.

our not quite spring weather (and an update)

Yesterday’s snow is almost gone already… We went from having an icy wonderland outside the window in the morning, to sticky mud everywhere by afternoon, to, in the evening, the ground already starting to dry out.  We lost no branches during the storm, but the fruit trees were just starting to bud and I’m hoping the hard freeze didn’t finish off my harvest (again!) this year. (We didn’t get a single apple off the trees last year thanks to a late freeze…)

The pastures are greening up, Murphy and Tucker are losing their winter coats, and I’ve planted pansies in the little trough/planter out front…but I’m pretty sure winter isn’t quite done with us yet.

It didn’t look too spring-y the other day when I took this picture of R, in snowshoes a neighbor lent her, making her way across the front yard.

I didn’t intend to be cryptic when I wrote in last week’s daybook about the results of M’s CT scan. Unfortunately, the results of the scan are confusing to me… I can’t seem to track down enough information (that I can understand!) to feel like I have a good picture of what’s going on.  So I didn’t post anything about the results, hoping to have a better understanding first.

They only scanned his lower back, so the CT didn’t give any new information about the mild scoliosis in his upper back found on the x-ray. The results of the CT scan show something called “focal sclerosis” at his L3 and L4 vertebrae (this is instead of the spondylolysis, not in addition to it). This type of sclerosis apparently causes an abnormal hardening of the bone. I don’t know what impact that hardening has on his spine, the long term prognosis, etc.. I haven’t been able to find much of anything about this problem, especially in a young man, online.

I emailed his PCP on Friday asking her to clarify the results… but haven’t heard back. M has an appointment Thursday with the orthopedist who did his second hip operation… hopefully I’ll get more information then (and probably a referral to the UCHSC Spine Clinic).

So that’s the latest… hopefully I’ll know more by the end of the week.


Happy Monday!


Crazy Casa K


What makes me happy?

Colorado weather.

Two days ago we were sweating in the hot sun working outside…

Yesterday it snowed all day.

I woke up this morning to the sun shining on the wind sculpted snow…

… all the “edges” softened by the beautiful, fresh whiteness.







Outside my window… the sun is up, the sky is crystal blue without a single cloud to be seen. It’s a beautiful spring day…

I am thinking… about how to stop thinking about the results (not great) of M’s recent CT scan.

I am thankful… for the blessing of an ordinary day.

In the kitchen… the produce at Sprouts looked so good yesterday I planned our dinner around it. I bought a lovely fresh loaf of French bread and some spring mix, tomato, cucumber, red pepper, and a bit of smoked turkey at the deli. Dinner was sub sandwiches… think salad in bread with a little turkey! Mmmm… it was good.

I am creating… a huge mess where my pumpkin patch used to be, this is definitely a “looks worse before it looks better” kind of project!

I am going… to E’s tonight to help with a homeschool group co-op class she’s doing. She asked me to do this months ago, but she’s sure I’m going to forget (because I have at least once or twice already!), so my showing up will probably be a surprise to her. ;)

I am hoping… I can find M’s orthopedist’s number and can get him in quickly for an appointment.

I am looking forward to… the snow that’s forecast for Sunday. The kids and I already have a “date” for a movie and popcorn filled afternoon. We’re were talking about H.G. Well’s books the other day and I think we’re going to watch the 1960 “The Time Machine” movie.

In the garden… the kitchen garden is turned, raked and ready to go. The rhubarb is already growing like gangbusters, some of the herbs are up and growing, and I’ve planted carrots and a couple different types of lettuce. I should probably get the onions in soon too…

I am pondering… what M’s doctor told me yesterday about his CT scan results…it’s confusing though, I need more information from her… I hope she replies to my question filled email soon.

A few plans for the rest of the week… we’ll be working in the pumpkin patch today, moving paving stones from the (former) border, and getting it ready to mark for the post holes. I need to replant the iris’ that had been along the pumpkin patch fence as well. They never did very well there, and they have to be moved to make way for the fence so… I’ve dug them up, separated them, and am replanting them elsewhere. Tomorrow will be more outside work, and Sunday we’ll be snuggled inside while the cold and maybe snow rolls through.

A favorite photo…

(K and the grandkids during her recent visit…)


Visit Peggy’s blog for more about The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Long time coming… (Mom’s little desk)

I’ve had a furniture project hanging over my head for… oh… about 15 years now.

About a week ago, I finally started working on it. I would have started earlier, but I didn’t know where to begin and didn’t feel like I had the skills to do it.

I still may not have the skills, but I just had to try…

It’s my Mom’s old desk. She gave me the desk years ago… probably when I was a very small girl. (I can never remember not having it!) And she gave me a sweet story that went with it… The desk had been made for her when she was a child (during the Depression, she was born in 1925), by her Grandfather (I think?) out of old scrap wood… apple crates, etc. In the bottom of one drawer you can still see, stamped into the wood, “Grown in USA”.

The desk is small with delicate hand carved legs and had a narrow shelf on the back of the desktop with little cubbies underneath. The drawer (always the coolest part!) was small, but made with secret compartments in the back where Mom, and later I, kept our tiny childhood treasures. (I can still remember my wonder when Mom first pulled out the drawer and showed me the tiny hiding places in the back!)

When I was a child I could still see where, back when she was a little girl, my Mom had written her name on the unpainted underneath of the drawer… but it has since faded away.

The desk has probably always been painted. My Grandmother used to like to paint furniture and Mom told stories of how her mother would paint the furniture to redecorate the house (and match her mood) sometimes bright red or shiny black to look exotic. I later found at least a half dozen different colors of paint on the drawer front… My first memory of the desk it was a light(ish) green. As an adult I painted it black and then white.

And then, back in about 1999, I told Joe I wanted to refinish it. He stripped off the old finish but that revealed wood that was warped, poorly fitted here and there, and full of tiny holes and gouges from decades of use. He took it apart as he stripped it (I’m not sure why…), but stopped half way through the project, saying the desk too messed up to continue. I was heartbroken… I had known the wood was warped and had countless dents and dings, but hadn’t cared… the desk was part of our family history. But this was during the hardest years with M, and there was no way I could finish the desk myself so it sat… it pieces… in the garage.

And I felt bad every time I looked at it.

When we moved here… it moved with us. I know Joe wondered why I kept it.

A few weeks ago I gathered the desk pieces from the garage, brought them into the house and started pondering how to put it back together.  The curved pieces that had been supporting either side of the little shelf had been lost, the cubbies were gone (they had been only heavily painted cardboard…), and the top of the shelf was seriously warped and cracked. But I just knew it was all salvageable…

I started by gluing the desktop back together again. As I gently pulled the pieces apart a little more to get the glue into the joint I saw that it was held together with pegs… How cool is that?




Here the top is back on the desk, and I’ve carefully attached the back of the cubby area (the little shelf will be on top).


Next, I created from memory a pattern for the missing side pieces… I found a bit of scrap wood and cut the new sides out, trimmed and sanded them, then attached them to the desktop.

In fixing the desk I used as much of the original wood as I could, so the back of the little cubby area is the old, slightly warped, wood. The side pieces are new wood though…

After a lot of agonizing I finally decided to make a new shelf top as well. The old shelf top was incredibly warped, and had a large crack on the underneath side, and I was afraid it would just break in two when I tried to attach it to the supports. The only piece of scrap wood I had was too wide, so my neighbor (who has a table saw) ripped it to the right width for me, and I cut it to size, gave it a good sanding and attached it to the shelf supports.

(I hadn’t yet sanded down the wood putty that hid the nails that hold the top in place, or primed the top in this photo.)

By this time it was starting to look like the desk I remembered it being… I was so pleased to see it coming back “from the ashes” so to speak. It’s like an old friend had suddenly reappeared…

Then it was just a matter of painting it…. but it seems like this post is getting very long,  so I think I’ll save the painting and finished product until next time…

(Very brief update: M had his CT scan yesterday… all went well but no results yet.)

never a dull moment…

I had plans to work outside yesterday… the weather was perfect and I’ve been so ready to clear the last of winter out of the garden to make way for spring growth.

I did work outside in the morning, and got soil in the kitchen garden turned, and cleaned up a bit in our little “remembrance” garden. But then my outside plans were derailed with a trip to the ER for M.

He’s ok… His foot slipped going down a step yesterday and he came down hard (on his feet) and his back pain went way up. He could hardly move for awhile, it hurt to sit, or stand… he couldn’t bend over… and he was panicky from the pain. (He said later he was worried he’d broken his back!) I called his doc’s office and they were less than helpful… She (M’s doc) was off yesterday and the people I talked to didn’t know him at all. Since he already has a CT scan of his back scheduled for today, they said if he was just having an increase in his “normal” back pain to wait for the CT scan, but if it’s new back pain, take him to the ER.

I wondered why they just couldn’t see him in the office (there are a whole bunch of docs in the practice, surely someone else could have seen him?), but finally decided… after M was still in a lot of pain several hours after slipping… to take him to the ER.

Unfortunately it was a busy day in the Children’s Hospital satellite we go to and we were there for hours…

The good news is, after another x-ray we know he doesn’t have a stress fracture in his back (a concern when we first went in), the bad news is he might have herniated a disk. We won’t know though until after today’s CT scan.

So we’ll be spending this morning at yet another Children’s Hospital satellite site, getting the CT scan done…

And this afternoon I’m working outside.  I’m planting carrots and lettuce in the newly turned kitchen garden and I’m going to start measuring and marking for the pumpkin patch fence. It will be my reward for all the medical stuff I’ve been doing lately… ;)

(the kitchen garden… almost ready for some early spring seeds)


Oh yeah…

This is the forecast I’ve been waiting for…

Last week’s snow was beautiful.. and we always appreciate more moisture, but I’ve been itching to get outside and get started working in the garden.

For years now I’ve thought about replacing the fence around the pumpkin patch with something a little nicer. It’s been a not-too-pretty, but serviceable, mix of t-posts and field fencing recycled from our old goat pen. It kept the deer out but was a bit of an eyesore. So last fall I pulled down the old fencing… knowing that would force me to stop thinking about replacing the fence and actually DO it this spring before I could plant.

My pumpkin patch isn’t this big, but I love this fence… and I think the kids and I could build it with minimal help.

I love the pickets at the bottom, which are designed to keep rabbits, etc. out (not a huge goal of mine) but, for me, would serve the purpose of keeping the pumpkins in… since anything that grows outside the pumpkin patch fence is eaten… quickly.. by the deer.

Here’s where we’re starting…

The new gate will be in roughly the same place, but will be wider (3′),  the landscape timbers will be taken out, but the fence will basically follow the old fence line. It will be 6′ high (5′ seems to keep the deer out, but if we try to build the fence in the picture (which is 10′!) I think it will look funny if it’s too short.

We look the last of the chain link down over the weekend (it formed the east side of the pumpkin patch fence, and was left over from when the pasture was entirely fenced with chain link). Hopefully I can freecycle it…

(Ignore the alpaca manure pile please… it will be turned into the pumpkin patch soon… although probably not until after we’ve started the new fence.)

I’ve got a guy coming next week to drill all the post holes, so I’ll need to have it all marked and ready to go by then…

I can’t wait to get to work!

~Happy Monday~ (and thanks)

Thanks everyone for the kind comments about M’s most recent medical problems… I’m SO glad he doesn’t have diabetes, I can’t imagine trying to manage both it and gastroparesis! Unfortunately, he’s having a lot of back pain… which is such a difficult kind of pain to manage… I hope we can get in for the CT scan soon. And Angela, thank you so much for the info. about the book. I don’t have it… but I will as soon as Amazon gets it here!


Crazy Casa K


What makes me happy?

The first robin of spring!

(this picture was taken a few days ago… all the snow we got in last week’s storm has melted)



waiting for the phone to ring…

M saw the doctor yesterday… He’s been such a complicated kid medically, and unfortunately he doesn’t seem to changing as he reaches adulthood.

The biggest concern I had, and the reason I made the appointment, was more weight loss. From what I understand weight loss isn’t uncommon with gastroparesis (which he has had since about 2009)… M has a good healthy diet, but it must be low fat, and he has to avoid foods that slow digestion. Increasing portion sizes or fat will trigger the severe vomiting spells he gets… which can cause tears in his esophagus and weight loss instead of gain. So it’s become a sort of a catch 22. To gain weight he should eat more, or richer foods… both of which trigger the vomiting spells. The last time we were in to the see his PCP… when he’d lost 10 lbs over the previous year, she was concerned and wanted me to let her know if the weight loss continued.

I thought he might have lost a little… but as K (dd#3) was getting ready to head back to Ghana, and was weighing her bags M got on the scale… and I was shocked to see he’d lost almost 10 lbs more. So he’s down more than 20 lbs in less than two years.

It might be the gastroparesis… but it might also be diabetes. Diabetes is always tough, but on top of what M already has going on… it sounds impossibly difficult. The doctor ordered a bunch of labs yesterday, hopefully we’ll get most of the results back today.

I startled awake last night from a sound sleep… heart pounding from a bad dream. The dream? The doctor calling to say that M has diabetes.

M’s also been having back pain. I hadn’t worried too much about it at first, he tends to get aches and pains… possibly because he’s always kind of off-balance since his right side is so much weaker than his left side. (Something that’s become more pronounced as he’s gotten older.) But he’s been complaining more about his back lately rather than less so I asked his doc about it too.

She examined him and says it seems to be skeletal… not muscular (alarm bells started going off at this point, after all his hips problems the LAST thing he needs are more orthopedic issues!) and she’s concerned his vertebrae might be somehow compressing together. She ordered a bunch of x-rays and depending on what they show he might need an MRI too. Again, we’ll know more later today after she’s had a chance to see the films.

So today will be spent waiting for the doctor to call.

Poor M… he’s such a trooper, has so much going on and yet he’s always sunny and happy. He never complains about all that he has to deal with… he never asks “why me”.

I’ll be saying lots of prayers today that the results from both the blood work and the x-rays is good… best case, rather than worse case, scenario.

Edited to add:

I heard back from the doctor… all the labs are good, no diabetes! She wants us to look into a stomach “pacer” (like a pacemaker for his stomach) because she thinks the weight loss is all from his gastroparesis. The pacer seems to be something that is brand new, and so we’ll have to think about for awhile. The news about his back isn’t as good… he has a slight curve in his spine fairly high on his back (scoliosis), which can cause pain, but he also has something called spondyloysis (a defect in the connection between the bones that make up the spinal column) at his L5 vertebrae… a CT scan is next to see the extent of what’s going on and figure out what to do next.

spring snow

I woke up this morning to a beautiful spring snow…

I love Colorado weather.

Just a few days ago I was out in the garden turning the soil, and this morning winter has reappeared…


I don’t mind a little more winter, the snow is so beautiful…and when it melts it will turn our pastures green.



I hope it snows all day.