When a Nonna Wants a Rocking Chair . . .

I wanted an old rocker. A rocker that had already put generations of babies to sleep. I had one many years ago – my grandmother’s, in fact. But our family will always have at least one female chocolate lab and our first, Millie, ate everything. Her preference was loafers with tassels, and she didn’t care if there were feet in them or not. Her second choice, though, was wood. She preferred it nicely painted or stained. The runners on a rocking chair were a snout-level snack when we were all away during the day *sigh*.

Anyway, I had my first grand-baby flying in from Austin (oh, and her parents) and I was by-God going to have a rocker here when they arrived. So I’d been stalking rockers on my fave online estate sale auction site, Everything But The House. Just in time I scored an old rocker we picked up about ten minutes from our house. I was glad Michael had insisted on coming with me, because there was no way I could have moved this baby on my own. I couldn’t even lift it!

It was covered in cobwebs and dust, and someone had clearly given it “a lick and a promise” with some leftover white paint about a decade ago.

Ornate curlicues had been knocked off (probably by a basketball that wasn’t supposed to be in the house) and replaced by someone who needed new bifocals.

It has an embossed leather inset seat that had been painted (EEK), has at least three major cracks, and has plain upholstery tacks holding it in place in a completely random pattern. Or perhaps Morse Code. Or by the same person who painted it after a few too many beers. Decide for yourself.

It also has lovely decorative carving on the headrest, and is way comfortable. Since I can’t sit in an ergonomic desk chair for more than fifteen minutes, this is high praise.

The chair, without even a sponge-off, went to the Graduation / Welcome Baby Emma party along with Emma’s great-great-grandparents’ card table. While I was there the rocker was never empty, despite the overstuffed chairs and sofas in abundance.

Cut-throat card games are a traditional activity at all large Ballard family gatherings, and we were packed in there like sardines. I left before the card games started, but Michael and John didn’t get home until nearly midnight. The party started at 2 p.m. – LOL!
So my question, I guess, is where do I even start? Is the embossed leather salvageable? If so, do I need to remove it and restore the wood and leather separately, then replace? The chair is very sturdy, but this section is split.

Fill with sand-able, paint-able wood filler/glue, right? Ideally, I’d like this beauty to be a deep lake blue, about the darkest blue in this upholstery fabric I bought when a local craft store went out of business. I plan to use it to cover the throw pillows on my chocolate brown sofa (matches the dogs)

But I want it distressed all to hell so it doesn’t matter if a little one scratches it with a fork or colors on it with a crayon, or if I get a bit of nail polish on the arm. And I would like brown leather on the seat, with decorative nail heads or something equally pretty and comfy. I have a large number of creative high school grads I can put to work on this project. And it can be done in stages. Emma is hopefully only one of many children to be rocked in that chair – why not leave room for each to add his or her own touch?

Seven College Memories

— 1 —

These memories are only funny because they are from so long ago. I got through it, got my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and never looked back. The dorms I lived in my Freshman and Sophomore years didn’t have AC. There was one window and we put a fan in it. My freshman dorm had a flat asphalt roof and I arranged my 18 credit hours around peak tanning hours so I could take a beach towel up to the roof to study in the sun. No problem when I was tanning my back, but lying on my back trying to hold a five-pound textbook close enough to read but far enough away to not cast a shadow was challenging. And after about an hour my highlighter would start to melt. #freshmanproblems

— 2 —

Roommates. From. Hell. All my friends going to college in our hometown lived at home. Since I lived way out in the country and had a scholarship that included housing I stayed on campus, but always with strangers. My first roommate honestly didn’t understand that our room didn’t come with maid service. She’d sit dirty dishes and half-eaten food outside our door. Yogurt will mold eventually. Dirty clothes (meaning she’d been seen in them once) went to the bottom of our shared closet. When she ran out of clothes she went shopping. She left in shame after our first semester when she couldn’t meet the GPA to be accepted into the sorority she’d pledged.

— 3 —

I thought my second semester was going to be better. Then my new roomie started questioning my religious views. I told her as long as she didn’t kill me, steal my stuff, or throw up in the room I was cool with whatever.  She informed me she was a Fundamentalist Christian and that she handled snakes and spoke in tongues. I asked her not to bring snakes into the dorm and not speak in tongues after midnight since I had 8 a.m. classes every day. It turns out that really wasn’t a problem, since she discovered SEX about two weeks later and I rarely saw her after that. I was seriously worried about that snake thing, y’all.  If she brought a snake in she might think I was having fits and speaking in tongues, but I would actually be cussing like a sailor and doing my best to get out of that room, even if it meant making a new exit. I was thankful for the disinfected-daily communal bathrooms that semester, too. I didn’t want any of the smaller creatures she might be carrying around, either.

— 4 —

My third roommate wasn’t so bad. She adored The Talking Heads and The Andy Griffith Show, and always had both going at the same time.  I was a bit grossed out by the collection of tonsil stones she kept on the counter next to the bathroom we shared with two other girls, but I was a Nursing major. I’d see worse, right? (Oh, yeah) One interesting factoid is she had a very short haircut and a rat-tail down to the middle of her back. If you’re not familiar with this eighties fashion statement this is what it looks like.

— 5 —

In my Junior year we got to interact with actual patients. This was when Nursing majors switched to Accounting in droves. Changing a dressing and having a chunk of bone come out with the bandage will do that for you. So will inspecting a fresh placenta your instructor is really excited about at 7a.m. in the private dining room which also contains the remains of the previous night’s “New Mom and Dad Lobster Dinner”.

— 6 —

Junior year was also the first year year I ever failed a test. OK, I did fail both free throws and dribbling in high school P.E., bringing my grade for the semester down to a B, but I still think that was unfair and my mom should have gone to the school board.

Anyway, I failed a test in my Nursing Pharmacology exam.  My instructor (picture a very old Jabba the Hutt in support hose with a Northern accent) insisted on meeting with me right after class, the exam results fresh in my hand. This was an excellent learning experience, as I found out what it was like to have a panic attack. I literally could not speak and my vision started going dark. She kept rambling about how unfortunate it was that the half of the class I was in never got “graded on a curve” since our half had two women with grown children who had taken all their classes except clinicals and specific nursing courses over the past several years, then taken those alone. So not only did they have decades of life experience we nineteen-year-olds didn’t have, but they were taking 6-8 credit hours a semester and living normal lives while the rest of us were carrying 18-21 credits plus working part-time, living on Ramen noodles and saltines, and putting $2 of gas at a time in our cars and praying to get there. She wanted to “talk about my feelings” on that topic. I got up and walked out, looking forward to Psych the next year. (I managed a B in the class.)

— 7 —

Senior year for our half of the class was Public Health and Psych. We learned to check kids for lice and tried to teach caregivers about Universal Precautions (Wear gloves plus whatever else it takes to keep from coming in contact with anyone’s blood or body fluids). This was 1987 and AIDS was on the upswing, but people still thought they could get it from shaking hands. We got to see where a lot of our tax dollars go when it comes to Medicaid and Welfare. Then we spent time at inpatient psychiatric hospitals. We got the employee discount and could buy a big bowl of soup for a quarter, which is pretty much the only perk of my college career. I spent lots of time in Group Therapy sessions with a dozen or so people who were depressed because they were bored. They were in the hospital for two weeks because they had really good insurance. The psychiatrist who led the sessions was a narcissistic asshole who often laughed in his patients’ faces. I’d wanted to go into Psych since junior high, but this rotation cured me of that. Happily, in May of 1988 with a nasty recession going on and many college grads with no job prospects our entire graduating class had jobs when we graduated. Some were still deciding which of several fabulous offers to take, but everyone had a job, and none of us had ever worn a nursing cap.

Linking up with both Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop and Seven Quick Takes this week! (Even though I really can’t ever make my seven takes quick enough!)

When Your Youngest Graduates

Seven years ago (almost to the day) I wrote a poem about my eldest growing up and being ready to graduate high school at the same time my youngest graduated to middle school. Note to young parents: Do NOT have children seven years apart. It may seem great timing early on, but it also means you will have a teen inhabiting your home for fourteen consecutive years. And they will go through major life events at the same time. This year my eldest and his wife made me a Nonna (Italian for Grandma) in April, and my baby will graduate from High School in May.

I thought my hair would surely turn grey with all the stress of the past eight months or so, but I still have just my few silver strands I’ve had for years. My daughter-in-law has a hematologic genetic issue (MTHFR mutation) that predisposes her to difficulty conceiving and increased chance of miscarriage, and she ended up delivering three weeks early due to uncontrolled pregnancy-induced hypertension. It was terrifying being so far away, but I think it made us all that much more thankful when everyone was confirmed healthy!

My youngest has had two good friends in his Senior class commit suicide this year. One was early in the year, the other was just a few weeks ago. He just wants high school to be over, to never set foot on that campus again. Fortunately, I’ve talked him into going to most of the Senior events. I think he’ll even agree to a graduation celebration as long as it’s while his new niece is there to steal the spotlight. Yes, he performed in a local musical in front of a sold-out crowd of six hundred when he was a kid, but he’s too much like me sometimes. I can speak in front of thousands of people, but am uncomfortable with a hundred people paying attention to me, not what I’m saying.

I got to look at his yearbook last night, and it was an incredible publication! I pulled out my own Senior yearbook for comparison mine was pretty awesome) but was blown away by the creativity these students showed. Yes, there is digital technology available now that wasn’t available in 1984, but there are a lot of things included in both that really define the feeling of the time period. Kudos to all Yearbook staffers everywhere!

John still has Prom, Senior Walk (I think this is a Louisville thing) and Graduation to go. Sadly, Graduation is on a Wednesday at 5:00 pm downtown, making it nearly impossible for extended family and friends to be there even with the huge venue (Freedom Hall). BTW, 1984 Defender yearbook staff, I do want to correct one error in the coverage of our graduation at Rupp Arena. The Assistant Principal who shook our hands was given six hundred pennies, not marbles. Marbles would have been dangerous. I brought and passed out the pennies myself because he wouldn’t let the picture the school-contracted photographer happily took be included in the yearbook.

Check in with Mama Kat for Throwback Thursday this week!

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Anything worth doing can be done in jammies!