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Catching up, scrambling about, Mondaying, and oh yes, let me do a little ranting while I’m here

Oy veh.

Such a Monday. The sun is shining so I really can’t complain. And thank heaven the sun is shining, because a 10 x 14′ section of my roof has been open to the weather (and the birds and the raccoons) for days and for a while there it looked as if it was going to stay that way!

Last week that section needed something of an emergency repair. On Friday and Saturday morning, a handyman peeled all the layers off and took it down to 1 x 6s. And took out some of the 1 x 6s because of rot.

And there he left it. Late Saturday when I inquired as to when he was planning to return from his afternoon break, he informed me his knee was giving him trouble and he’d just have to let me know when he could come back.


I knew by yesterday afternoon that I was in trouble but I was reluctant to call anybody on Sunday — especially to ask them to come fix some other handyguy’s now abruptly much more urgent emergency. A friend I mentioned this to pulled out her cell and called someone she identified as a expert roofer and a really great guy, but out of work and in desperate need of a job.

He said he’d be out either yesterday or first thing this morning to have a look.


When you hear about somebody who’s really, really good but just happens to be out of work, you have to ask yourself certain questions.

Those questions were answered when he didn’t show or call.

Then just at the moment the anxiety was pouring out my ears in the form of steam, another handyman — the one I was never going to use again — just happens to call. About something completely unrelated.

I say, “Mike. I screwed up. My fault. But now I really need a rescue and I know this is the worst possible time of year to expect a contractor to drop everything and help me. I know you wouldn’t want to do this yourself, but could you recommend somebody?”

Within an hour — an hour! at the busiest time of year — he was here doing the one tricky bit and had rounded up two young men to do the rest. And this despite the fact that I know he’s booked up for weeks. He got a client’s permission to delay a job for a day so he could get my project started before turning it over to his “kids.”


The original handyman, to his credit, emailed me last night to say he’d be here this morning to put in at least an hour or two.

I emailed him right back: “No, don’t. It makes more sense for me to hire somebody else than to risk your knee and my kitchen ceiling by trying to get this job done a few hours at a time.”

He apparently didn’t get my email and showed up, anyway. I paid him for what he’d already done but sent him away.

What frosted me was that he then claimed I’d told him he could take all the time he wanted to do the work — weeks, if he wanted — and that I’d never said there was any hurry. Which is (as you can well imagine) the very opposite of what I’d actually told him. Repeatedly told him. Told him as recently as Saturday.

I have no doubt his knee is actually hurting. But it’s just been one thing after another with this guy. He’s absolutely the best in some ways, which is why I’ve given him about 10 second chances (which normally I don’t do). But if it’s not his knee, then he can’t work because he has out-of-town company. Or his son is graduating from high school. Or he has a doctor’s appointment. Or he has to do a favor for a friend. Or he absolutely swears I didn’t tell him I needed him. Or he just forgets. Or he didn’t think it was important.

Knowing all this, I had stressed that on this project he’d absolutely have to commit to work at least five or six hours a day, straight through without a day off, until it was done. He agreed. And agreed again. Until he suddenly “remembered” the opposite this morning. No, the knee is not his fault. But if he hadn’t come up with a bum knee, he’d have come up with something else. Sigh.

Now there’s the guy I’m never going to use again. Mike — today’s knight in shining armor — has earned himself my undying gratitude — and lots more work from me.


Anyhow, when not blowing steam out my ears, I progressed this weekend on my poor little foundling end table.

Verrry, verrry nearly finished now.

And of course, it continued to go its own way despite my intentions. I had to give up on all those funky dots I was so sure I wanted. Those cool tin do-dads you guys helped me identify, also.

This is the direction it took me in.



Side (again not a very good shot):


As before it’s a combo of painted surfaces and Chinese joss papers. Its multiple coats of varnish include some where I colored the polycoat slightly with paint. So the blue is made more subtle by faint scumbles of orange and some of the golds are dulled slightly with hints of blue. Lots of subtle stuff going on, up close. Even a few of my happy little dots survived, though strictly as background texture showing through the translucent papers.

I still need to wrap the bottoms of the legs with wood or coconut shell heishi beads to disguise the fact that the legs and their base don’t fit together well.

But then I’m done.

Well, for now. At a garage sale yesterday I happened upon this. Definitely 1950s vintage, if not older. And it gave me ideas:


I’m sure it will have ideas of its own before I’m done.


I always see all those listings on eBay or Etsy saying that this or that is from a “pet-free home.” I’m afraid if I ever sell any of my painted works I’m going to have to advertise “the pet hair is free.”

Ever try keeping hair and dust out of wet, sticky surfaces when you and your entire house (no matter how much you work at sweeping, dusting, and vacuuming) are basically nothing but repositories for spare cat and dog fur?



  1. Pat
    Pat July 28, 2014 1:29 pm

    I REALLY LIKE the edges and border on that table top. And how the colors blend together. The top looks like a doorway to the sun, and the lighting makes it _all_ shine like gold. Who’d a thunk that old brown table could look so good…

    Photoshop the table top, and hang it on the wall.

  2. naturegirl
    naturegirl July 28, 2014 1:42 pm

    Your table is just all kinds of fun to look at! Great color combo-blending going on too.

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty July 28, 2014 1:52 pm

    Oh yeah… pet hair. The only thing that makes me grumble a tiny bit, and only usually when I have company, is the endless supply of dog hair. I knew corgies shed, but this summer has been truly amazing. I have vacuumed up enough dog hair to make at least one other dog… That’s ok… I bought a new vacuum for that purpose. Maybe if I vacuum a little more often, I won’t find a corgi hair in the butter again. sigh

    Love your table! I have a whole bedroom set of “unfinished” pine. Have used it totally unfinished now for about 25 years, and it’s starting to look bad. I had thought of just painting it white, but now I’m going to give some thought to how it might be much more interesting painted bright colors instead. One of the knobs vanished years ago, so I have to think about what I’ll do to replace it. All new knobs or pulls would be expensive, but might be well worth it.

  4. Karen
    Karen July 28, 2014 2:12 pm

    Love the table!

    Isn’t dog/cat hair considered a necessary condiment for food and a complement to the decor?

    I’m sure the contractor on the roof job honestly thought you’d be fine with leaving your home without roof and open to the weather indefinitely -NOT! Maybe that’s what’s bothering Robie. Heaven knows that monsters could sneak in thru that gaping hole.

  5. Claire
    Claire July 28, 2014 2:56 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who considers pet hair “a necessary condiment for food and a complement to the decor”! (Or just a pervasive nuisance that nothing, nothing, nothing can ever really get rid of.)

    I like to keep a fairly decent house, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to warn guests that they might just find little bits of Ava or Kitsu-the-cat in their dinners. Dog fur in the butter. Sigh, I can definitely identify.

    Thanks for sharing my happiness about how the table’s turning out. It’s been fun transforming it and sharing the transformation.

    And Pat! You’ve just given it a name — “Doorway to the Sun” is perfect.

  6. Claire
    Claire July 28, 2014 2:58 pm

    “Maybe that’s what’s bothering Robie. Heaven knows that monsters could sneak in thru that gaping hole.”

    I shall be sure to tell Robbie that the door to the monsters has been sealed shut. By the end of the day, that roof will be completely sheathed and covered with tarpaper. By tomorrow … done. After all the hassling around and the lame (pardon the expression) excuses, it’s refreshing to watch professionals at work.

  7. zelda
    zelda July 28, 2014 6:01 pm

    There’s an Old Masters painting forger who was so good he got caught only because his paintings had cat hair in them, and the original Old Masters didn’t own cats or have hairs in their paintings. Hope you sign and date your table and add its name. It is an art work. You never know in the eons to come who will look and wonder and research who you are. And it would do well I think on Pintrest or ebay, especially signed by the artist!!!!

  8. Joel
    Joel July 28, 2014 7:53 pm

    Contractors can be amazing creatures. Any rational being would just go ahead and assume that a 10X14 hole in the ceiling – in the Pacific Northwet yet – immediately voids any talk about ‘taking all the time you need.’ Even if the customer actually said that, which no customer in the history of home repair ever has.

    Yet I have also had similar conversations.

  9. Claire
    Claire July 28, 2014 7:54 pm

    Oh, zelda — that’s hysterical. (And remind me never to go into the art forgery business.)

    Signing, dating, and titling the table … yeah. I should do that. I doubt that capital-P Posterity will ever really care. Eons? Um … not too likely. But maybe after I die, one of my friends will want the table to remember me by. So yeah, I’ll do that.

  10. Pat
    Pat July 29, 2014 8:08 am

    I doubt if anyone needs a table to remember you, Claire. (But I’d like to put in a bid for it, if you ever decide to get rid of it.)

    Would you consider making prints/posters of “Doorway to the Sun” and selling them? It is a very bright and positive piece of art to hang on the wall. You might also put it on coaster tiles, and would make lovely plates with vari-colored rims such as you have on the table edges. (You referred me to Zazzle ― I refer you back to it for sales.)

  11. naturegirl
    naturegirl July 29, 2014 12:39 pm

    Pat just reminded me of – There’s an artist I found via Twitter who has her stuff on pillows, shower curtains, scarves, phone cases (and the usual stationary and posters). Your table is also a potential awesome pillow and/or phone case, seriously.

    That artist is Robin Maria Pedrero over in Orlando, FL. I never have asked her with who or how she gets her stuff made, but I’m assuming it’s done in the USA.

  12. Claire
    Claire July 29, 2014 1:04 pm

    I just looked her up ( I love her stuff!

    Unfortunately, I get the giggles trying to picture myself saying things like this:

    “I use a symbolic visual language exploring both the visible and invisible creating a commentary on relationships and thoughts. As I work the images can be unexpected flowing from gathered memories. …”

    Fine artists are always expected to talk like that and it just cracks me up. I’d be more like, “Hey, heresa picture. You like it? Take it — and oh yeah, pay me!”

    Okay, so I’m avoiding the subject of actually doing something usefully commercial with my work. So far, I’ve simply assumed I’m not that good and I really hate the thought of having to promote myself. But I’m thinking about it. And you guys have definitely implanted some productive ideas.

  13. LarryA
    LarryA July 29, 2014 5:39 pm

    Remember the conversation about county fairs? See if there’s a category for Doorway.

  14. naturegirl
    naturegirl July 29, 2014 5:39 pm

    I hear ya on the snobs in Fine Arts. I won’t fit in there either. But all have Etsy sites, and you’ve already been thru that so it shouldn’t be so strange. I am a bigger fan of Artfire (like Etsy only better) if you decide Etsy isn’t it any more. Avoid Zibbet. And yes, unfortunately it’s more about marketing now a days than it is actual creating artwork – and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon either…..people have been spoiled by the interaction more than the falling in love with a specific art object. But social media/promoting like a maniac has also allowed some people to make a living and not fall through the cracks waiting for the old ways of discovery. (and that includes bad art being financially successful, too)

    What has always worked so well for you up to this point, still is important if you open up your art career – be yourself and it’ll be ok. As for who decides if you are good or not, you know it’s always the buying customer. Ultimately they decide your “worth” with their wallets. Us artists always think we suck, or something looks horrible – and it always turns out being the first thing to sell LOL. We are the worst judges of our talent 🙂 We are our worst critics. We have to learn to ignore all that and just go for it and see what happens.

    Actually, Robin only has a couple of things I like. I mentioned her mostly because I have to give her credit for thinking outside the art world box and going for items most may not have considered, or thought to be to “commercial” or whatever you want to call it. She’s an fine art person who went for putting her stuff everywhere she can think of and it’s paid off for her.

    And this depends on how you create….if it just comes to you when the inspiration strikes then it may turn into being a chore to keep an art biz going on some kind of routine/schedule…..And if you still do jewelry, then you should set something up where you have the variety of things to offer and take some of the pressure off just one category.

    I just watched this guy go from virtually unknown a year or two ago to mega-dom just by the sheer force of this: . I don’t know how he keeps up with all of it, and I don’t know if I’d want to have all that to do too LOL. But it’s proof it works.

  15. Sam
    Sam July 30, 2014 7:21 pm

    “Knowing all this, I had stressed that on this project he’d absolutely have to commit to work at least five or six hours a day, straight through without a day off, until it was done. He agreed. And agreed again. Until he suddenly “remembered” the opposite this morning.”
    As I drummed into my kids, ALWAYS get it in writing. A professional will have no problem with signing off on a written agreement. If they get huffy about putting the job requirements in writing, that is a HUGE red flag and you should respond accordingly.

  16. Ellendra
    Ellendra July 30, 2014 9:08 pm

    I’m echoing Sam’s advice. Written agreements protect both parties, anyone who balks at the request should be avoided.

    I’ve seen this from both sides. Handymen who never kept their promises and only showed up if they felt like it, and customers who decided after the job was done that it was an act of charity on the part of the handyman and thus they shouldn’t have to pay.

    I’m very fond of written contracts.

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