bread dough

I was raised in a series of kitchens

the first small

where the wall color would change

on whim and boredom

with a screen door pushed through

by a bird dog’s head

who would whine for leavings

at the babies table

the second

within tang of the paper mill

and fragrant of biscuits

vinegar beans and ham

where coffee was strong but mellowed by cream

and heaping spoonfuls of sugar

the third

tall ceilinged and linoleumed

holding sweating green glass jars filled with crescent melon moons

with a pantry bearing big reds

and red ants

that poured from the cereal box

fourth a kitchen

of koolaid and party fare

where the liquor cabinet was well stocked

and well used

and the floor, cork and scuffed

hard by mary janes and chasing dogs


open and old

where a chicken would lay

her egg on the window sill

and peck her greeting each morning

and the floored rolled down hill


a kitchen made of sticks

gathered from a pack rats horde

painted hunter green

with windows where the lame doe

would peer nightly

big eyed


a kitchen of wandering light

and walls of pear and faded aquamarine

where at last

it is the last

to see dough rise in the morning

with the sun

and joy with the moon rise

at night

The Last Really Good Shack #35

The Last Really Good Shack - porch

In the previous post, Mom and I had wallpapered the dining room and I described the paint color for the trim as a dark black green. Well, I loved the color – not in your face green, but a good solid dark dark green.
And since Mom and I were in the updating mood, it only made sense to paint the kitchen cabinets.
Now our cabinets were a mismatched mish mash of beautiful oak cabinets of different styles and sizes. We had been the grateful recipients of discarded cabinets from a remodeling job in Texas done by my uncle and Bob had driven down to Dallas to pick them up. We had worked out the arrangement and were happy with the outcome.
But they needed to have a unifying look and what better way than paint!
Mom and I called my brother for advice since he had been a remodeling contractor for several years. He proceded to explain that we would need to sand all the finish off until we were down to the wood, then we would need to fill all the holes, sand again and then paint at least three coats for the paint to look good.
We then ignored all his wonderful advice!
After removing the cabinet doors, we did take the old hardware off and filled holes with wood filler. And we did sand each door – kind of. It became really boring after doing several doors. So the first ones were done really well and then it tapered off as we decided -‘oh, this is good enough’! We at least took the shiny top layer off. And after cleaning all the cabinet boxes, we were ready to paint.
I began by painting the boxes and that was the easiest part of the job. By the time I had one coat around the room, it was dry enough to paint the second coat. Then the third coat and it looked wonderful!
Mom, on the other hand, began painting the doors. It seemed as if they were multiplying – a never ending line of doors to be painted. And then there was the problem of where to lean them when done – cabinet doors began to spread across the house. Mom and I painted all day – got up and painted all the next day – got up and decided whatever wasn’t perfect – was just fine!
The cabinets were hung with their new hardware – all matching – and looked – PERFECT!
The color unified the kitchen and even though there were three different styles, the cabinets came together into a warm, beautiful space. It was one of my favorite spots – sitting at the little kitchen table, on a stool built by my grandfather – and looking up the ridge to the horizon far above the house. This was the window where our local deer would sometimes spy on us.
I am grateful to have this special memory of working with my mom. She lives with us now and wishes she could do all those fun projects. But she still supervises any painting I do!
Well – until next time…..

The Last Really Good Shack #34

The Last Really Good Shack by Carol Allen

My mom and I were never afraid to tackle any kind of project. We would strip paint, (using that horrible stripper that would take the meat off your bones and most of the paint you were trying to get off of what ever object you were working on) sand and re-paint or stain anything we felt like needed a little sprucing up. We did chairs, tables, book shelves and old china cabinets. If we found an old wooden piece of furniture, we would go at it without a thought.
Bob could find things along the road – cast offs, drop offs or just junk – bring them home and Mom and I would start a new project. Anything looks better with a new coat of paint!
My family also has a long history with wallpaper. Now I realize that some may scoff at the idea of wallpaper, but I personally have loved it all my life. I can still remember my Mamaw re-papering her Waco, Texas dining room with the wildest bird print – that may have been the start of my love affair! We also have a saying in my family that if you can do a wall paper project with your spouse and remain married, it is a true test of the marriages longevity.
So as with all things ‘shack’, there were many projects calling out for my mom and me. We decided to wallpaper the dining room.
Now if you recall, the dining room was the first room we entered upon discovering the shack. The door faced the south and fell in when touched. It was there Bob fell in love at first sight. It was a small room, the door opened to your left and against that left wall were the hall tree with an old foxed mirror from Bob’s familys home in North Carolina and a small pine china cabinet Bob and I found at a flea market in Springdale AR. To your right was the table -a large harvest table we found in Neosha, MO with lots of mismatched chairs. Windows at a little higher than chair rail height were along the south and western wall. Bob had cut a pass thru into the kitchen next to the kitchen doorway where you would take a step up from the dining room level.
The walls were not square or plumb and the ceiling had a strange slope to it, but not consistant across the small room. A perfect candicate for wallpaper!
Mom and I scoured the wallpaper books filled with wonderful samples of exotic papers. Any color of the rainbow- stripes and patterns, birds and animals, foiled and flocked! After much consideration, we found an open vining pattern with a white background, vines of deep green punctuated by the occasional pear, plum or peach. Just fresh and charming for a little country dining room. I then choose a deep green almost black paint for the wood trim around the windows and doors.
Mom stayed in the guest room the night before our project began. And after sending Bob off that morning, we got underway. We believe in lots of wallpaper paste, so we mixed a bucket full, figured our starting point and where our pattern match would fall and made our first cut. Now Mom and I are not that precise, but she is really good with the razor and straight edge. It just became more and more apparent that straight would not be a big consideration with this project. Each piece was a different length and the pattern match was becoming more and more a guessing game. We did take down several pieces and started over a couple of times. And there was plenty of wallpaper paste on the paper, walls, on our clothes and in our hair!
But by the end of the day, the paper was up – and stayed up! The only place the pattern was mismatched was in the western corner where the window frame camouflaged the mistake. A great success in our book!
And this little dining room saw many happy meals with friends and family. Laughter and love also papered these walls each time we sat together at the table.
Until next time….