REDECORATING: A SLIPPERY SLOPE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Yep – you can do this in August

As I may have mentioned a time or ten, Arizona is hot in the summer.  I’m really okay with it.  In fact, over the past couple of years I’ve grown to love the empty streets, restaurants and shopping malls.  Against all odds, I’ve actually become a “summer person”.  That said, the only way to keep your sanity when spending so much time indoors is to have projects.  Or alcohol.  But the latter can lead to some disastrous outcomes so the past two summers I’ve focused on getting things done that seem too mundane to work on when the weather is 75 degrees.  In May I  “sparked joy” and organized my pantry and the cabinets in the laundry room.  Then in June we paid to visit to our kids up in Denver and our daughter’s gorgeous home and her talent for decorating inspired me to put a little refresh into our home.  Just a couple of chairs and some new pillows strewn about would do the trick.  That’s how it all started.

Redecorating, it turns out, is almost as fatal as our previous remodels.  Sure, we don’t have sheetrock dust everywhere and fireplaces being torn out, but the concept is the same.  It starts with one little idea and then the next thing you know, whole rooms have been transformed.  Actually, one of my favorite stories from brother Bob involves his friends, the Sagers.  You know them – you recently went on the Italian cruise with them.  Anyway, turns out they are in the middle of remodeling, with rooms and walls being torn out.  Recently, Chuck turned to Bob and said, “Gee, this started because we needed a new garbage disposal”.  Yep – that’s exactly how it happens.  The slippery slope of home projects.

New fabrics and rug. I’m not crazy – sofa and chairs are ivory – these are just accents.

In any event, I started with two chairs and some pillows for the family room.  I was going to keep our current sofa and rug.  But the more I thought about it, the color of the sofa just wasn’t quite right so I went in search of a new one.  The store where I bought our current furniture was having a sale – perfect!  The designer looked up our account and looked at me quizzically.  “You just bought this is 2014.  Most people keep sofas for 20 years.”  When I told her this would be my fourth sofa in 19 years she sidled right up to me – recognizing a pigeon when she saw one.  She came to the house ladened with fabric and leather samples.  Two chairs, one sofa and one ottoman later, she had a sale.  Just as she was closing the deal she mentioned that she thought the new furniture would look better with a more neutral rug.  I’d had my eye on a new hide rug from Ben Soleimani so not five minutes after she left I ordered it.  I was DONE…or so I thought.

Light fixture…not shining on beer bottle stains

The next day brought a new dawn and new redecorating ideas.  The carpet in my knitting room (aka Dash the Wonder Dog’s room) was in need of refreshing. Out came the carpet salesman and as long as he was at the house I decided maybe the master bedroom carpet was looking a bit tired so we’re reviving it too.  While my attention was in Dash’s room I took another look at the glass coffee table.  You know, they say glass is dangerous for senior citizens in case of a fall, so in the interests of safety I bought a new leather one that will provide a lot more cushioning for my klutzy self.  I next turned my eye toward the dining room.  Our beautiful travertine table had been etched over the years.  Mostly it was scarred from the bottom of beer bottles which, embarrassingly, were directly in front of my place at the table.  I was going to buy a new one but instead I consulted my friend, Yelp, and found a travertine refinisher.  He honed, polished and sealed the table and all evidence of beer pong games was magically removed.  He also told me about Rock Doctor Cleaner and Polisher (available at Home Depot or Lowe’s).  I used it on the granite in the kitchen and it’s awesome.  Anyway, now that I didn’t need a new table I decided that it might be time for a new chandelier.  We found a beautiful one that will be delivered some time in September and then I’ll just need to find a new art piece for the table.  Or maybe an interesting table runner.  Or…?

My inner Martha Stewart on display

Finally, I made a trek to our local upholstery fabric store.  Or, as I like to think of it, crack cocaine central.  The upshot?  Four dining chairs in the great room being reupholstered (after all, they have to match the new furniture) plus fabric for pillows.  And here is where I’m saving lots of money – or so I tell my husband.  I am a decent seamstress so I made new pillows for the living room.  Next, I knit a herringbone throw for the living room and I’m working on a more modern one for the new family room décor.  See?  I’m saving money left and right.

I thought we were done but last night my husband said, “As long as you’re in a furniture-buying mood, why don’t you get us some new nightstands?”.  God, surely there has to be a 12-step program for redecorating.

Ducks!

by Bob Sparrow

(Unfortunately these are the kind of stories you get when one is recovering from back surgery.  I’ll be back in action shortly!)

Shoulda ducked!

I most often hear the word “Duck!” when it’s yelled by the rest of my foresome after I hit a golf ball. But when I heard it from my neighbor it was even more scary. He called me when I was in Death Valley this past spring to tell me that a mother duck had just hatched eight little ducklings in my backyard. What?!!! How did they get there? How did you find them? Who can I call? Once I settled down, he said that since he had a mother duck give birth in his backyard a couple of years ago, that he’d be happy to take them off my hands since he was up to speed on the care and feeding of ducklings. Hell yes! I’m thinking, but I said something like, are you sure you want to do that? He said he had experience and was happy to do it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I gleefully accepted his offer.  So, in a effort that he described as akin to ‘herding cats’, he got eight baby ducklings as well as the mother to walk around the fence that separates our yards and created a home for them in his yard and pool instead of mine.

Stay close kiddies!

Once home and thankful that the ducks were no longer on my property, I found that my second-story home office window, which overlooks my neighbors yard and pool, offered me a bird’s eye view of the daily development of ‘our’ ducklings. First, I must say the mother duck was most attentive to her brood, keeping a constant eye on them and protecting them from birds of prey (mostly hawks) who were looking for a duck dinner. The ducklings obviously showed that they could immediately walk (something we humans take up to a year or so to do) and very quickly they were in the neighbor’s pool and the mother was teaching them how to swim. I think one of the lessons she taught them was to make sure that they looked like they were expending no energy at all, but beneath the water’s surface, they’re moving their little webbed feet as fast as they could. “Don’t look like you’re working hard kids”, I could hear her saying. . . or quacking. Swimming came very naturally to these guys – actually I couldn’t tell the guys from the girls, as at this age they all looked the same. It’s only later that the males start looking a little more colorful – in an effort to attract females.

“Kids, make sure you look like you’re not expending any energy”

Day by day, week by week the ducklings grew and the neighbor’s pool grew also, from blue to brownish green. Duck poop will do that! Our neighbor had Googled how long it would take before the ducks would leave – about 51 days. Under the mother’s tutelage, the ducklings would parade around the pool, jump in and swim a few laps, eat something then take a nap. The ducks were strutting proudly as if to say, “Hey, I can now walk pretty good, ok it’s a waddle, but I can swim really good, but how are we going to get out of this place?” Be patient by little duckling, I could hear the mother preaching.  Apparently a mother duck and her brood have some attraction to the opposite sex as both my neighbor and I spent much of our time scaring male suitors out of our pools.

Soon the ducklings started flapping their wings while they skimmed over the pool’s surface, never quite getting out of the water. Then one day, about 51 days into their life on earth, as I was looking out of my office window, I saw one of the ducklings, who was now as big as his mother, frantically flapping its wings, skimming across the pool and like a prop airplane rumbling down the runway gaining speed as the propellers spun frantically and then suddenly he become airborne. I could almost hear the duck say, “Damn, I can walk, I can swim and now I can frickin’ fly!”

“Look Ma, I can almost frickin’ fly!”

Soon all the ducklings and mother, had flown off and with a whole lot of chlorine, the neighbor’s pool returned to normal. While I was most happy that the neighbor took on the task of providing a first home for this brood, I must say I was impressed mostly with the mom, who never left the ducklings alone (our neighbor provided duck food and water for the entire family during their stay – more than the bed and breakfast they would have received at my place) and found it rather interesting to watch the progress of walking, swimming, diving and then flying. Unfortunately, next spring will undoubtedly bring some of the brood back to their old nesting place and will go through the same process with their own family. Ducks Unlimited!

I just hope my neighbor is still willing to take my ducks if they decide to nest here again. I’ll be happy to watch them develop in his yard from my office window.