The Mushrooming Metal-Chair Collection

Reclaimed metal lawn chairs

With the bees all warmly and happily tucked away for the winter, I’ve been up to this, Reader.

Yes, I’m on a metal-chair buying binge (should I hyphenate all three words? “Metal-chair-buying binge?” I don’t know). I brought another six beauties home in a rented cargo van yesterday.

Eighteen (18!) metal lawn chairs now hang from hooks in our basement. I can’t stop myself. I remain simply delighted by each and every one of them.

Before the weather turned too cold to paint outside, I sanded and prepped and painted my first two chairs…I transformed them. They’re now shiny Ford Red. Their hardware is new and smooth. They’re gorgeous. I love them because they sit so comfortably, and you can still feel the patina in the seat and on the armrests when you settle into them.

I’ve prepped two more chairs for painting. And when I say “prepped,” I mean:

  1. Remove every single bolt and screw (excuse me, but this is a lot of work! It requires grinding rusted bolts to smithereens. You should see the sparks fly.)
  2. Completely dismantle each piece
  3. Send broken parts to my new welder. Who is awesome. I’ll introduce you to him in another post
  4. Sand the flaky paint off
  5. Using an angle grinder with a steel-brush attachment, remove the rust
  6. Wash with soap and water
  7. Set aside for a nice day in which to paint

But I soon realized that I would very quickly bore of spray painting each chair all glossy and clean. I’ve decided to sand my next chair to remove the rust and expose the layers of paint history…then, to protect the exposed metal from the elements, I’ll simply lacquer it. I know you’re dying to see the end results, Reader, but no. Not yet. Not until you can hardly stand it.

Everyone keeps asking me what I plan to do with my crazy collection. I don’t know yet…but if you want an awesome chair created by me, contact me. I’m now in the business.


Poetry Sunday: The Monks of St. John's File in for Prayer

The Monks of St. John’s File in for Prayer


In we shuffle, hooded amplitudes,
scapulared brooms, a stray earring, skin-heads
and flowing locks, blind in one eye,
hooked-nosed, handsome as a prince
(and knows it), a five-thumbed organist,
an acolyte who sings in quarter tones,
one slightly swollen keeper of the bees,
the carpenter minus a finger here and there,
our pre-senile writing deathless verse,
a stranded sailor, a Cassian scholar,
the artist suffering the visually
illiterate and indignities unnamed,
two determined liturgists. In a word,
eager purity and weary virtue.
Last of all, the Lord Abbot, early old
(shepherding the saints is like herding cats).
These chariots and steeds of Israel
make a black progress into church.
A rumble of monks bows low and offers praise
to the High God of Gods who is faithful forever.

Poetry Sunday: What to Do the First Morning the Sun Comes Back

What to Do the First Morning the Sun Comes Back


Find a clean cloth for the kitchen table, the red and blue one
you made that cold winter in Montana. Spread out
your paper and books. Tune the radio to the jazz station.
Look at the bright orange safflowers you found last August—
how well they’ve held their color next to the black-spotted cat.

Make some egg coffee, in honor of all the people
above the Arctic Circle. Give thanks to the Sufis,
who figured out how to brew coffee
from the dark, bitter beans. Remark
on the joyfulness of your dishes: black and yellow stars.

Reminisce with your lover about the history of this kitchen
where, between bites of cashew stir fry,
you first kissed each other on the mouth. Now that you’re hungry,
toast some leftover cornbread, spread it with real butter,
honey from bees that fed on basswood blossoms.

The window is frosted over, but the sun’s casting an eye
over all the books. Open your Spanish book.
The season for sleeping is over.
The pots and pans: quiet now, let them be.

It will be a short day.
Sit in the kitchen as long as you can, reading and writing.
At sundown, rub a smidgen of butter
on the western windowsill
to ask the sun:
Come back again tomorrow.

Patty Grady: She Knows Stuff

You’ll need a Patty Grady, too.

Patty is one of Deb’s high-school friends, and she now works at the Home Depot on Highland Avenue. Sometimes those huge stores can sap the strength and energy from you because they’re so overwhelmingly big. Finding a little nut or bolt or screw in a big place like that can send me into a tailspin, but Patty pulls me right out of it.

Whenever I enter my Home Depot, I go straight to the Pro Desk and find Patty, who leaves her station to walk me all over the store and collect whatever I need. She steers me from bad decisions. She figures solutions. She’s saved me bundles in time and money, and I love following her up and down the aisles because she’s fun. And friendly. She knows everyone in that place. And if she doesn’t, then she’s sure got us all fooled.

Everyone needs a Patty. Especially if you build top-bar hives and restore metal lawn chairs.

Patty Grady at Home Depot


The Metal-Chair Projects Keeping Me Sane

Reader, a team of experts stands behind every reclaimed and transformed metal lawn chair. I want to introduce you to them as I go along.

It has rained incessantly for over a week. During one dry period on Sunday, I painted all the parts of the previously sanded and prepped green metal lawn chairs I introduced you to last week. Of course, at the conclusion of the painting session, it began to sprinkle, and I had to move the entire operation into the garage where I hung parts of chairs from every reachable ceiling joist. The rain stopped the painting, and I decided not to add another coat to the thinly coated places. No, I decided…it’s finished.

Now, one of the two chairs is a gorgeous Ford Red. I painted it with Valspar’s Tractor and Implement Hi Gloss Spray Paint so it would withstand the elements as if it were a tough tractor at work on a farm. That stuff is 2 or 3 times the cost of Rust-Oleum, but I think it’s worth it. And it’s gorgeous.

Chair #1 is now all reassembled with sweet new hardware and sitting in a corner in my kitchen (I’m not yet ready to give it over to the rain). I sit in it. It fits me. I’m short, and I’m not comfortable in most chairs, and this one is perfect. I like the feel of it. I would show you a picture, Reader, but for some reason my iPhone transforms the gorgeous Ford Red into something that resembles Fluorescent Tomato, and I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. I want you to love it as much as I do when you see it. So, we’ll wait for a sunny day. 

I’ll take this opportunity to begin introducing you to the people who make these transformations possible.

First, someone has to agree to sell me her chair. I spotted this busted beauty in a crumpled heap in this woman’s backyard. She didn’t initially want to sell it to me, but she said she couldn’t fix the broken base where the metal had snapped at the bend, she doesn’t “have a man” to fix it for her. As she talked, she decided she could use the money. In this picture, she’s holding the chair upright. It can’t stand on its own until the two parts of its rocker are welded back together.

(What does all of this have to do with bees, you ask? These projects keep this beekeeper sane and productive when the bees aren’t flying.)


Poetry Sunday: Two Old Crows

Two Old Crows


Two old crows sat on a fence rail.
Two old crows sat on a fence rail,
Thinking of effect and cause,
Of weeds and flowers,
And nature’s laws.
One of them muttered, one of them stuttered,
One of them stuttered, one of them muttered.
Each of them thought far more than he uttered.
One crow asked the other crow a riddle.
One crow asked the other crow a riddle:
The muttering crow
Asked the stuttering crow,
“Why does a bee have a sword to his fiddle?
Why does a bee have a sword to his fiddle?”
“Bee-cause,” said the other crow,
B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B-cause.”

Just then a bee flew close to their rail:
“Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz             zzzzzzzzz             zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ZZZZZZZZ.”
And those two black crows
Turned pale,
And away those crows did sail.
B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B-cause.
B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B-cause.
“Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz             zzzzzzzzz             zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ZZZZZZZZ.”

My New Green Metal Lawn Chairs

I’ve been handing out the coolest business cards ever. Seriously. Ever. And they all contain the address that leads to this blog. Which will (honest-to-goodness) eventually be a full-blown website. Jerod and I are working on it. But for now, that web address leads folks right here. So I’d better provide something worth finding once people get here, yes?

Today I want you to meet my new chairs. For some reason I’ve become a little bit obsessed about metal lawn chairs, and I’ve begun to carry cash in my pocket so I can offer people money wherever I find them. (Reader, if you’ve got a metal chair anything like this one…or a metal glider…please let me know. I want it.)

A couple of days ago, I discovered these on a front porch near a local Starbucks. There was a very threatening (for some reason I read it as hyperbolic) note taped to the front door, so I went ahead and knocked. No answer. Knocked again. Nothing. But there was a truck in the side yard (to say it was in a driveway would be overstating it), and this note led me to indicate that whoever lives at this house isn’t planning on answering the *effing* door, so I went around to the side and knocked on a door I found there. Waited. Knocked again. Then, the side door creaked open and a most interesting looking man walked out in his stocking feet. I liked him.

I asked him if I could buy his chairs. He said I could have them. He doesn’t like them. Never has liked them. It was his mother who liked them.

I asked him who painted his house those two shades of blue. He laughed. Said he and a friend did it a few years ago (I’m betting they were high when they did it. I’m betting he was high during our conversation). I told him that whoever chose the paint color for that house would also naturally love those chairs, but he said, no, take the chairs. I paid him $20 for the pair and put them in my car. As I put my beauties in my car, I worried a little bit if it was okay to do business with someone who is high. Then I decided that it’s his business if he does business while he’s high. I thought it was a fair deal. Heck, I don’t even know if that guy lives in that house.

I wish wish wish I’d taken his picture. And a picture of the sign on the front door. It may be worth going back to get the pictures. But, you know, Reader, sometimes you just want to let things be the way they were because they were so good. That’s sort of the way I feel about meeting this guy and getting these chairs.

What does all of this have to do with bees? A lot. Every beekeeper needs a good chair to sit in while she watches her bees fly.