Home Renovation, Hopefulness, Uncategorized, Victorian Home

This Old Sink

She’s a beauty

There’s been an old sink in an outbuilding on this property for years, and my cursory research suggests it dates to the 1880s. It’s a wide marble sink with a circle bowl, and the stone and metal faucets are worn. The marble has that yummy dull patina marble gets over time. Veiny and milky grey, and its honed matte finish and etchings tell generations of stories. This old house predates plumbing, so I can only imagine what a luxury a sink must have been with hot and cold water running out of separate faucets–like little magical rivers!

The marble has several rust spots and after trying several rust cleaners, I found it’s even better to create a DIY mixture called a poultice from hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, with enough water to give it the consistency of peanut butter. You apply it only to the rust-colored area and seal it with plastic wrap you’ve taped down. Leave it at least 72 hours and then clean it off and wipe it vigorously with a soft cloth. This worked for me, and the rust seemed to fade slightly. If you are super careful, you can also lightly run sandpaper over it which will eat into the rust layer and lighten it further. It also can scratch the marble, however, so you must take great care to not etch it further. At some point, you realize a slight amount of rust is okay since you’ve been at this for weeks, making various potions and poultices, and perhaps it’s time to move on to the next challenge before you: the faucets. 

Cold faucet on left where hot should be–maybe a brain boost?

The faucets looked dullish green and oxidized, and they weren’t responding to various methods I’d used to clean them. After more research I learned the green corrosion isn’t necessarily a bad thing and found this explanation: 

Although it makes sense to think of the green patina on the exterior of the bronze as a disease or a flaw, it’s a corrosion that protects the material inside. The greenish corrosive layer that coats the surface of a bronze faucet after repeated exposure to air and moisture is a protective shell that prevents the metal alloy from sustaining further damage and rotting or becoming porous. The coating can be seen as a good thing, indicative of this material’s ability to withstand temperature fluctuations and dampness.

Too perfect to carve

Still, I wanted to get under the charming patina and see what came before. Wandering the hardware store yesterday I came upon a product called Brasso, which is designed for cleaning and polishing seven different metals, including bronze. I found a reputable marble cleaner as well, and maybe the most perfect pumpkin I’ve ever seen (and at 30% off!). I felt as if I’d scored big and came away with a renewed energy to roll up my sleeves and get to work, now with a satisfying pride that only comes with commitment and tenacity–and hopefully the right products. 

Samantha has plans

The cat has her own project and is certain she can climb into the kitchen ceiling and maybe even on into the outdoors. For now I’ve nailed up an old sheet, but she remains terribly entertained at the possibilities and the new windows on the world she can now look through.

For my project, I had to liberally tape off these faucets so the surrounding marble wouldn’t be further traumatized by chemicals, and then I set to work. I started with a microfiber cloth and alternated between that and paper towels. After some effort, I saw a little green come off on the towel, but not enough to convince me it was working. I kept at it though because where there’s a little green, surely there is more. For the better part of an hour, I applied copious amounts of Brasso to my cloth and rubbed. And rubbed. And rubbed some more. I began to see light, hope and the loveliest shiny metal coming out. A number of distracting dark specks wouldn’t lift, so I employed my sandpaper trick I’d used on the rust, and they faded into the metal. What I’m left with is gracious and stunning and shiny. I think it must be bronze, but it resembles copper. Shiny like a penny.

How long have these faucets been waiting in the wings for their rebirth? If this house could talk! All along, the green corrosion coating has been protecting them, saving their luster and shine from the elements until someone is curious enough to lure it out of hiding. 

I can’t help but think of our own coatings and hardened shells we wear to protect us from the hardness of the world, yet how much beauty there is within all of us and always has been.

Hopefulness, Taste the Season

State of Suspension

That feeling of dread is returning. It’s more than an upcoming dentist appointment but less than a cancer diagnosis, and it’s moving in fits and spurts–fits from our ex-president who tried to get his way and failed, and who has returned as a regular in the news as the January 6th hearings are underway, an unfortunate yet necessary waste of resources. The replays of his voice, fantasy rhetoric and loop of lies is today as draining as it was the first go-round, and once again, it leaves me simultaneously drawn in, mortified, and depressed. 

The spurts are sprays of bullets still and increasingly killing all manner of good, unsuspecting, and undeserving humans. Seems we’ve evolved into an insecure power-hungry lot, and as the world shakes its head and laughs at us, we are failing at life’s most basic tenet, to protect our own and revere these precious lives we’ve been given. The acts of violence themselves are horrific, but that the call is coming from inside the house only heightens the horror and gives way to a weary disbelief and shame as we ask ourselves, “Is this really who we are now?” I’m encouraged, however, to learn of upcoming changes to gun laws in the works. 

I’m simultaneously drawn in, mortified, and depressed.

XTC’s “Melt the Guns” from 40 years ago rings truer than ever today

It’s no wonder our baseline worry is higher with all this plus a pandemic, inflation, gas prices through the roof, the war in Ukraine, hate crimes, racism, hunger, and the list goes on. I can neither process nor solve it, but I know I won’t look away; the load is too great, a pile that won’t stop growing.

I’m unsettled and distracted, all over the place on most days as it is, but these days are dizzying in their onslaught of bad news. I’m a Type 2 on the Enneagram, a helper who struggles to find limits and prioritize all the helping, someone who can absorb and feel so much from the news and even TV shows, so I’m trying to balance the overwhelm with how much I can do in my own world and beyond. I realize I need to cover my own face with a mask first before helping others.

Summer in the 60’s

As summer settles in, I’m remembering those innocent childhood days running through sprinklers and selling lemonade, and ripe peaches dripping down our chins. It doesn’t much matter if my current mood matches the season’s, Summer 2022 is here, it’s hot and it’s happening, and it will be gone in a blink. There is still much work to do on every front, but I need to take a break from the news, eat a tomato sandwich over the sink, get to a pool and lie out in the sun, and shuck corn for succotash. These rites of summer sometimes feel pointless against this world gone to hell backdrop, but there is a point, and it’s going to take a concerted effort to resuscitate these once effortless traditions, but I think I should.

If summer were a food…

There is a hopeful intentionality to this magic hunt, pausing long enough to climb into the season and feel it on you. Maybe these efforts are contrived or some wistful homage to a sweeter past, but they deliver the power to activate all our senses, trigger our best memories, and deliver new ones. Summer’s sure doing its own part, cranking out magnolia blossoms, sunshine and butterflies, and as with every year, everyone’s invited.  

I can tell I need an anchor, a reminder of something predictable and beautiful that hasn’t been tarnished by our man-made noise and mess, a calm in this topsy-turvy sea. I think it’s been here all along with bunnies munching on the lawn, lightning bugs blinking as the day winds down, ceiling fans spinning at full throttle and fruit flies buzzing around the peaches on my windowsill. There is tremendous reassurance knowing these things are still here, same as they ever were, and that not everything breaks, and I’m on a hunt for more.