Monday, February 27, 2006

No, this isn't the replacement picture, but a placeholder.

My friend Shannon, a professional photographer and the master of all things photographic, had this to say about it when I asked his opinion.

It's an interesting shot and I like the neutral expression of your face. It's
most definitely preferable to the last pic you had but the light on your cheek
makes your cheek look fuller than it is. It's not the most flattering shot
you've ever had.

I agree with him. However, I was sick of the old one and didn't have the time nor will to look for a better one.

I spent the entire weekend hunting for upholstery. The fabric on my couch has reached the point of no return, with years of exposure to sunlight, the cats, three moves and usage. It's a gorgeous couch that deserves a facelift to bring it back to its original beauty. It was my first real furniture purchase almost ten years ago, and was very expensive. I knew I'd have it forever, so I shopped about six months until I found it. Then, I waited another three to get it while it was built.

As far as the fabric shopping, the reason why it took the entire weekend is because it consisted of two long drives to discount fabric places and I'm incredibly picky. Because of our extremely helpful neighborhood bulletin board, I learned about a wonderful place that teaches women upholstery and visited it on Thursday. The women are underemployed or getting back on their feet from a life of hardship I could probably never imagine, and they are mentored by two master upholsterers. I went there and was not only impressed by the craftmanship, but impressed by the pride that these women took in their work and their trade. I walked in and was greeted with smiles and friendliness as the director, also named Anne, but without the "e" led me around and showed me the program. I wondered about all the women's' backgrounds. Where they had come from and the pain and hardship they had experienced. But something inside them knew that they had it in themselves to not give up. And now, here they were proud, greeting me with genuine smiles and very welcoming. I was humbled, and their positive attitude was infectious. I was very moved by it. Honestly, it would be an honor to have these women work on my couch. Good for them for picking themselves up and believing that they were destined for better. We all have it within ourselves the ability to fly, and they had discovered their wings.

This weekend, I set out on the fabric quest. Once on a mission, I'm unstoppable. My first trek took me to the rolling hills of Thurmont, Maryland, a drive that was a little over an hour and beautiful. Once I exited the Baltimore metropolitan area, I was out in the expansive territory of the Maryland countryside. Majestic hawks surfed the air with outstretched wings, rolling hills covered in tall leafless trees and grassy fields sighed and heaved, horses, sheep, and cows wandered in prairies. It gave me wanderlust, and I fought the urge to drive even more to see what beauty unfolded in front of me.

When I arrived at the out of the way fabric store, I saw a farmhouse across the street where two black and white calves were leashed to what I can only describe as cowhouses. Three young girls stood outside with the cows, along with a yellow lab that went from smelling the calves to touching noses with the babies that already dwarfed him. It was a scene I couldn't pass up, so I crossed the street and walked up the driveway toward the girls. As I approached, the lab spotted me and trotted toward me in that curious, trusting way that only a dog brought up in the country could do. I posed no danger to him because he hadn't experienced anything to make him think that I might. He stuck his nose under my hand and I petted him and talked to him, then approached the three girls and their bovine friends.

I greeted them and said I hoped they didn't mind me coming over to take a look at the cows, because they were just too cute. Like the dog, the girls weren't wary of the stranger who had come on their property. I asked them if the living inspirations for Gateway boxes were theirs, and they said they were their aunt and uncle's cows and that they were just visiting from a mile away. I asked them if they'd been brought up around cows, and they had. They were very sweet girls who possessed a sense of humor and appreciated mine, even though they were more interested in talking to each other than to me. I stayed there for a few minutes and touched one of the noses of the cows, so pink and soft. For babies, they were bigger and stronger than I'd imagined.

I bid everyone goodbye and crossed back into Discount Fabrics USA. It was really just a gigantic warehouse with tons of fabric at unbelievable prices. It was really amazing, the prices they were going for. I walked around for a couple hours, taking everything in and touching the different kinds of upholstery. I entered my own world and just let myself experience the colors, texture, and patterns.

Oh, the possibilities! One of the aisles of fabric.

I finally chose a possibility for one of two chairs that need a new skin. At $6.00 a yard for such great fabric, I couldn't leave it there. And, if I go with something else, one can never have enough decorative pillows. The fabric is a pretty burnished gold, dark green, and green thin striped design. I sound so unbelievably girly on this post, but well, though I try to hide it, I am.

When I got outside, the three little girls were gone and the two cows were sitting inside their houses, looking like oversized dogs.

The next day, I drove to G Street Fabrics, which was recommended to me by a coworker. That was a much shorter drive to Rockville, MD and housed in a strange area on Rockville Pike. I say strange because the buildings were a clash of the decades and placed in such a way that starkly illustrated that it was an area going through growing pains. The fabric store was in an eighties style mall and stood next to apartment buildings from the 90's and 70's. It was striking, the thick lines and dark tinted glass of the 80's architecture against the thin airy lines of the later designs. Two black monoliths across the street were probably built the same time as the mall, with dirtied tinted black glass wobbling in the gale force winds we were experiencing. The scary thing was that I remembered when malls like the decrepit eighties one looked so new and exciting to me. Same with the all glass buildings. I remembered pulling up in the parking lot, driven by parents and being so excited about the big mall. My guess was that this one had sported fancier stores that moved out to fancier malls, and the outlets moved in. Fine with me. It's where I got my beautiful, gorgeous fabric.

This is the fabric that I bought for my couch. The photo does it no justice, and even less being on a computer screen. The green is the couch color, and the tapestry will be for the accent pillows. I love it and it was already 25% off, plus an internet coupon that gave me another 15%. I wanted it to look comfortable, not stuffy, but classic, timeless and romantic.

This is the couch as it appears now. Like I said, it was in dire need of a facelift. This is a crummy picture that I took really quickly to show to the upholstery people, but it gives an idea of the beauty that it will be brought to. It's just a gorgeous couch. When I brought up the tapestry to be cut, a woman loved it, and on the way out offered to buy it from me. It was funny. I needed the two and a half yards that were on the roll, but more can always be ordered. I told her so. She just loved it. I can see why. It's stunning in person. The upholstery people will pick up the couch on March 16th, and it will take 6-8 weeks to do. This includes any structural repairs as well.

I'll be so excited to see it finished.

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