Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trot and Slipcovers

I could wax philosophical on this Thanksgiving Day 2010.  But, if you follow my blog, you already know how thankful I am for God's saving grace, His healing power, and His presence in my life and the lives of my husband and children.

I awoke this morning with an incredible sense of gratitude for living in a country of freedom where we can do whatever we want to today, including watching an annual parade spectacle (a tradition in our family),

sending Hudson, Todd, and Hudson off with numbers on their chests to participate in Dallas’s annual Turkey Trot 5k run/walk, 

eating our favorite Thanksgiving food ALL DAY LONG starting with breakfast casserole and a little boy tasting his first ever real whipped cream straight from the beater,

watching football games cuddled on sofas (or in the bed) in front of a real wood fire because it’s turned cold here,

and texting and ichatting with our families, including our sweet Walker who has moved to Colorado to work and ski and won’t be with us this year. 

I am so thankful for the young men and women who defend our country and help other countries experience the same freedom we enjoy.  For all our warts, this is a great country in which we live!

And, today, I am thankful for some beautiful slipcovers…slipcovers that have been in the making for almost two years.  I have been encouraged to post this story for a while, but I refused to even consider writing about them until they were safely wrapped around these chairs.

Beautiful chairs in their own right; but, my client/friend (uh, I think she’s still my friend after this endless saga of screw-ups!) wanted them to be even more beautiful with white, monogrammed slipcovers.  And, so we began.

We found beautiful white fabric at Calico Corners.  Perfect for our project.  I work with an amazing upholsterer who can do anything and do it more beautifully than anyone else.  He makes beautiful custom slipcovers, but he HATES making them.  (Note for the uneducated: slipcovers are more labor intensive, require more fabric, and are just as costly, or more so, than upholstering.  So, unless you need to uncover that furniture, don’t choose a slipcover.)

So, after weeks of brow-beating my upholsterer to finish the slipcovers, they arrived fall 2009.  I whisked them away to the monogrammer, carefully choosing the design and pattern.  That part was done in a few days, and they are delivered to a joyous client.  They did need pressing, however, so she delivered them to her dry cleaners to be “pressed only.”  NO NO NO!  They washed them.  Not just pressed or even dry- cleaned.  WASHED.  They came back smaller…shrunken…not fitting…too short.  After a come-to-Jesus meeting with the cleaners, they ponied up and paid for the slipcovers.

Round 2!  Our original fabric was back-ordered, so I found an alternative, more expensive, Kravet fabric.  They eventually gave me a price break because they felt sorry for me.  We arranged for the fabric to be shipped to my upholsterer.  He received the fabric.  More brow-beating ensued because he was making them a second time.  Finally, they were completed AGAIN.  I met him at the client’s house because I was there finishing another project.  I eagerly got to his delivery van to receive the beautiful pieces so I could take them to be monogrammed. As I gazed into the van, I saw slipcovers that were not WHITE but ECRU, well practically yellow!  I gasped, whisked them into my vehicle before my pregnant, emotional client could see the horror of what I was witnessing.  The upholsterer gasped, too, because he was fast-forwarding into the future when we would have to make these things for a third time. 

Kravet had shipped the wrong color-way.  It took a few weeks, but they admitted their mistake and reimbursed me for their error.  But, now that fabric was back-ordered.

Round 3!  By now, this project has a code name – The Slipcovers from Hell! 

Our beautiful Calico Corners fabric was available, ordered, and arrived.  I visually approved the color and got it to my hero---my upholsterer, whom I had bribed, begged, and promised eternal love and gratitude if he would just make them one final time and please HURRY.  He came through with flying colors, delivered them to me early Monday morning.  I took them straight to be monogrammed, and they were ready by Tuesday afternoon.  I had promised my client that the slipcovers would be delivered by Thanksgiving, and I delivered them yesterday.  I lovingly caressed and pressed each of the eight slipcovers and installed them.  Beautiful! 

You don’t always hear about design projects gone bad or, as I call them SNAKE BIT!  You know what I mean.  No matter how hard you try or what you do, it just keeps getting worse.  Remember, I have learned to never say never!  But, Lord be willing, it will be a long time before I do another slipcover project.  I am so thankful that this one has come to an end.

Now, I do have eight slipcovers in my storage building just like these except they are ECRU.  I can make you a really good deal if you are interested.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oh, Joy!

Joy!  I am beginning to see this word crop everywhere. It's written on all sorts of things for the upcoming holidays...mugs, picture frames, ornaments, greeting cards, etc.  Is it an overused or misused word? What is real joy? Do you have it?

Naturally, my thoughts turn to the origin of joy:

"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
– Luke 2:10-12

And, I remember that my sweet Blue-eyed Bride memorized the first fourteen verses of Luke 2  in second grade, which she recited as she, her little brother and older cousins put on a Christmas pageant for her grandparents.  My mother cried, as did I. Lots of joy going around.  

Now, I watch as that heritage is passed to little Hudson. The words "Jesus" and "Bible" are already in his growing seventeen-month-old vocabulary as a result of songs being sung to him. He brings us a lot of joy. I started praying before he was born for an awesome youth minister for his teenage years. Parents need all the help they can get to keep the joy in their lives as children grow up.

A few weeks ago, I observed two very different life stories on my trip to M.D. Anderson for my follow-up scans. (It's redundant, but I must say that this is the most AMAZING place--full of organized, caring, competent professionals. I would love going there if I wasn't going there for melanoma. I'm very thankful that it exists.) 

We arrived early Friday morning and made our way to the lab for blood work. Right away we ran into an elderly couple that we would see, again, as the day went on. She was the patient and in a wheel chair being pushed by her husband. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably was just having a bad day or woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I don't, however, think that was the case. I think that it's more likely that, in the words of Ouiser Boudreaux, he had "just been in a bad mood for forty years." He was grouchy, impatient, mad because his wife was cold and needed a blanket, and LOUD. All of the women in the room were being held back from getting up and smacking him. I wanted him to have cancer (just for a little while) so he might be more understanding. I was sad for her and thought there must not be much joy in her life.

Then, we met a couple from east Texas. A state representative and his wife, who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The story they portrayed could not have been more opposite from the first couple. He was loving and attentive. She, daughter of a former pastor, exhibited a calm faith. In the midst of all that the uncertainty, there was joy. I wanted to know them better.

And, there beside me was the rock of my earthly existence. My own calm, patient, Godly husband, supporting me, laughing at me and with me, working on his laptop as our day of blood tests, PET scans, ultrasounds, and doctor appointments went on. What joy he brings to me!  An extra measure of patience was required because of a little piece of gum. I had not eaten since 8:00 p.m. the night before AND I forgot my toothbrush. So, I thought I should chew a piece of sugar-free gum to freshen my breath. My PET scan was scheduled for 9:30, right after my blood work. As the needle was inserted into my left arm to receive the radioactive dye, the questions came:

"Anything to eat in the last six hours?"  
"Anything to drink?"
"Any mints, gum?"
"Uh. I had a piece of gum. I didn't know about the mints and gum."

Put on the brakes; everything stops. Verdict:  go rearrange your appointments and come back in six hours.  So, I juggled the ultrasound, read a book, sat around and observed humanity, and tried to not bend the arm with the needle inserted or think of food.  As a result, my doctor didn't have the Pet scan results at the end of the day when I saw him.  It was Friday, so I didn't get the results until the following Tuesday. But, the results were good!  All my scans were clear. They were encouraged by the development of my vitiligo, and I don't have to go back for four months. There's some joy!

I just completed this book, and among the many memorable quotes that will stay with me is this one:

"I have found truly joyful Christians only in the Bible, 
in the Underground church, and in prison."
 --Richard Wurmbrand

I want to have that joy all the time!