LEIGH’S POTTING BENCH

My friend Leigh, the working artist, is always making something with wood, saws and hammers. I did a bit of that myself when I lived away from family. I nailed up the slats for a wood privacy fence after paying someone to install the fence posts. Using a Skilsaw, I built a walkway deck. I even installed a bolt lock.  Somewhere along the way, I lost my courage to tackle these kinds of projects.

Leigh avoids the whole issue of gotta-work-up-some-courage by building her projects around standard sizes at the lumber yard. For instance, for the potting bench she just built, she used a 2-foot by 4-foot piece of one-half inch exterior grade plywood and purchased pre-cut 4-foot pieces of trim so that she had to do minimal cutting to fit. When she did need to saw something, she used a sliding compound miter saw or a Japanese Dozuki (a flush cut hand saw).

To save money, she purchased pressure treated porch posts for $13 each at Lowes. This was more economical than buying turned table legs or repurposing table legs from thrift shop furniture. She turned the porch posts upside down rather than having to saw off the slots where the posts were to be affixed to a porch. The back ones were left whole and parts removed from the front legs were added to the back legs to provide a way for the shelves to fit in the spaces.

The two urn-shaped finials were purchased for $2 each at Eco Relics, a local architectural salvage company. Most of the time, their prices are unfavorably high but Leigh found their finials to be better quality and, obviously, a bargain.

Here’s what the pieces looked like before assembly:

Potting bench painted and ready to assemble
Potting bench painted and ready to assemble
Photo by Leigh

 

porch-posts-installed-upside-down-in-potting-bench
Porch posts installed upside down
Photo by Leigh

 

Right side up before finials are installed
Right side up before finials are installed
Photo by Leigh

The finished potting bench is approximately 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep and the table surface is 3-1/2 feet high.

homemade-potting-bench
Completed potting bench
Photo by Leigh

 

MEMORIES OF IRONING

Here’s one for the baby boomers. An old-fashioned sprinkle bottle for ironing.

sprinkle bottle-6012

I found it among Momma’s fabric stash in her craft room closet when we finally got emotionally strong enough to go through her possessions. Priss, being 6 years younger, might not remember the sprinkle bottle but I certainly do.

Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, everyone used a glass soda bottle with a sprinkle top that came from the five and dime store. This bottle is imprinted with DRINK DIXIE BEVERAGES. From my internet searching, I assume Dixie Beverages is now Dixie Riverside Beverage Company who bottles 241 drink products such as A&W Rootbeer, 7Up, Sunkist, and RC Cola. Remember when people would snack on an RC Cola and a Moon Pie?

The sprinkle bottle allowed just the right amount of dampness to saturate the fabric for later ironing. Oh the flood of memories that came with finding the sprinkle bottle. I can remember filling the bottle with tap water, sprinkling my purple dress and placing it in a bag in the refrigerator (to keep the fabric from souring) until I was sufficiently moved to do the actual ironing. This was before spray starch and irons with misting nozzles.

I also remember the clothesline, the clothespin bag and the standing laundry hamper that would fold shut. Even those wire stretchers Momma stuck in each leg of a pair of pants to help dry them with less wrinkles so she didn’t have to press the iron so hard. And how about all those “rules” for hanging your clothes on the line so the neighbors couldn’t peek at your unmentionables?

In the early 80’s, when Poppie and Momma moved to the ancestral property I now live on (the Southern Rural Route) she still had a clothesline. As the shade of water oaks hid it from the sun, it fell into disuse and was eventually taken down. Momma had Poppie fashion a makeshift clothesline stretching across the back porch where she would hang a shirt or rug. I don’t have such a line on my porch and sometimes I wish we still had that old clothesline.

Momma also had a collection of flat irons that had been passed down in the family. The pair you see here were “preserved” with a coat of black paint because Momma had a thing about giving everything “a fresh coat of paint.” I can’t imagine being an old washer woman having to iron all day with these things because they are heavy.

antique iron-6018

I believe this next iron was used for ironing ruffles. Momma really got carried away with that fresh coat of paint when she got hold of this itty bitty iron. She made it cute as punch but ruined the antique value of it.

antique ruffle iron-6019

POPPIE CAN FIX ANYTHING

I have used this lawn chair a handful of times. One of those times was at the Mandarin Garden Club where, when I pried myself out of it, the handle broke. I went to one more function at the garden club with another lawn chair from the Southern Rural Route. The seating angle of that one was all wrong for my back injuries and I ceased to attend garden club functions. I was unwilling to torture my back in one of their fanny flattening folding chairs.

Poppie knew I had broken the chair and indicated he might fix it but had back woes of his own stemming from the tree clean-up after three almost back-to-back hurricanes in 2004. He is scheduled for back surgery later this month.

On one of his good days, after I-can’t-remember-how-many-epidurals-I’ve-driven-him-to-at-the-crack-of-dawn, he fixed my chair.

lawn chair-5991
Too good to throw out
close-up of handle
close-up of handle
underneath the handle
underneath the handle

EXTRA SPECIAL SHOVEL

Tonya bought a new shovel – a drain spade and raved about it on her Facebook page, Seed & Gardening Exchange. I was intrigued as I am not particularly overwhelmed with the regular shovels we have on the Southern Rural Route.

Research tells me that drain spades are used for digging narrow, deep ditches to drain agricultural land; digging post holes for fences; laying pipe; and transplanting small trees and shrubs in tight areas.

A regular shovel’s wide, concave blade is angled to scoop loose material while the blade of a spade extends in a straight line from the handle, designed for digging. The long, narrow drain spade, also called a sharpshooter, has aided farmers and gardeners for more than a century.

It has a short wood handle and a long, narrow metal rectangle at the digging end. While intrigued, I was not convinced I needed one until I got to try one out at the Mandarin Garden Club.  Within moments, I knew I would acquire one for myself. To do so, I had to fork over an unseemly amount of money for what I considered a dwarf shovel.

Drain spade by Ames
Drain spade by Ames
Close-up of the plastic handle
Close-up of the plastic handle

The 16-inch blade on my Ames spade is long and narrow for making four precise cuts in tight spaces.

close-up of the digging end
close-up of the digging end

Called treads or steps, my spade has small platforms on its shoulders for giving it some oomph when digging. On other brands, the tread may be narrow or deep and face forward or back.

shovel drain shoulder close up-2334
close-up of treads

Poppie has even used my drain spade. Having the memory of a rusted sieve, I don’t remember what he was trying to pull from the earth with his bare hands but I do remember saying to him, “Let me get my shovel,” and I returned with the drain spade.

EL CHEAPO GARDEN GLOVES

Last year I purchased a pair of pink gloves in Dollar Tree that seemed to be made out of knit with the palm side having little “grabber dots”. They held up better than your average el cheapo garden glove through spring, summer, fall and winter. One of the gloves did spring a leak where the knit cuff connected to the glove but I always washed them after each gardening adventure to allow the washer and dryer to tighten the threads. Of course, I didn’t yank on that glove, either.

Everything is looking like spring here – the stores are full of new pots, huge seed displays, piles of mulch, and everything else that goes with gardening. Not to mention new spring growth on oak and maple trees. So I made a special trip to Dollar Tree to check on those gloves. This year their “Jersey Garden Gloves” were pink, royal blue, olive green, purple and still only a dollar.

garden gloves-2065

Of course, I had to snap up a purple pair to wear with my purple underwear if I ever get around to shopping for unmentionables. It seemed only right considering the amount of ribbing I have endured about the purple undies.

This reminds me. You won’t want to miss World Naked Gardening Day which has been celebrated internationally on either May 3rd or May 14. I’m not sure which date has been selected for this year. Rest assured that I will not be in my yard wearing only my purple garden gloves because the hootin’, hollerin’ and pointin’ from my neighbors would be bad for my self-esteem.