A potting table for the potting shed

Wow. I didn’t post once in February. That’s new.

It’s been a crazy month. Thank god it was the shortest month of the year. We did a Caribbean cruise and a few days at Disney World at the end of January, then two weeks later did a six-day trip to Birmingham, England (Stonehenge, Warwick Castle, The Roman baths at Bath, and a monkey forest!).

I built it in the basement over the course of a weekend
and a couple weeknights.

And two days later my mom died. There was that.

She’s spent the last six-plus months in a group home for Alzheimer’s patients. Quite honestly, her quality of life was not great.

Back a month or more ago, when she was still aware of what was going on around her,  she was under constant stress and anxious (in addition to confused and paranoid with no short- or long-term memory). Last time I saw her, in January, she knew who I was, but wasn’t so clear on who my wife and daughter were.
Last time I talked to her, I could tell she didn’t know who I was, and she only spoke in garbled sentences.

The morning of her last day, the folks at the group home couldn’t rouse her. Her last hours were spent, uncommunicative, in the hospital with the three people that saw her through the the horrible decline that is Alzheimer’s – my sister and brother-in-law, and her sister-in-law (my aunt). I did get to speak to her on the phone and I’m told that she reacted with moving eyebrows and a change in breathing, so I feel good that I did get to “talk” to her.

The hardie backer cement board, mastic,
slate tile, grout, and sealant were all left over
from tiling the base of the shed.

Between two vacations, funeral arrangements one week, and a memorial service the next week (in Binghamton, a three-and-a-half hour drive from Buffalo), and a brief presentation I made at an advertising industry awards show, it’s been hectic.

But I seem to have, without thinking much about it, thrown myself into more projects. It keeps my hands busy, and my mind occupied. So I built a slate-tiled potting bench for the outside of the new shed, installed new lights above my kitchen island, repaired three ceilings that had water damaged/water stains on them from years ago, had a new water heater installed, regrouted the kitchen island tile, and finished painting up my bench made from a bed headboard. Oh, and my daughter got accepted into two colleges and got her driver’s license. Busy hands make happy hearts I’m told.

I still have a few more projects I’d like to tackle before spring hits in full. But we’re going on yet another vacation next week! I don’t know how I get anything done. Oh yeah, I’m an active member of two boards and run my own business.

This is why I need so many vacations.

Catching that diamond-shaped theme?
My mom would have loved this shed. She was crafty and creative and reveled in my DIY projects.
Can’t wait to start using it!
These are not its “forever” legs. I plan on visiting our local re-use store to find some used newel posts
at a good price. What are the chances I can find two identical ones? (View from the kitchen window.)
I also took out some track lighting and added these light from Ikea. It took some digging in the ceiling
to re-run wires for both. Then I had to repair and repaint the (entire) ceiling.
We love the lights though. Very exploding Deathstar.
The bench from a bed headboard got a few more coats of paint too.
Now I’m just waiting for some good weather to take it outside.

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

11 comments on “A potting table for the potting shed

  1. You DID have a busy February! Accept my condolences re. the loss of your mother. (Mine has been in a Care Unit for over 2 years now. Dementia is a cruel condition.)I shall look forward to seeing the final “legs” on the potting table. I like the way you're incorporating the diamond shape into so much of your design!


  2. Sorry to hear of your mother and her final passing time, but it is obvious her creative energies have been channeled down to you! Love the death star lights and their impact on your room! You have such a good eye for color. I was just thinking the legs on the potting shelf needed to be stained a grey purple when I got to the text about them being temporary. Be sure you upload pictures when you find the right pair!


  3. Thanks Rebecca. Dementia sucks. My MIL has dementia, and is in a nursing home, but at least she's still pleasant and affable. Alzheimer's robs you of your personality and sucks the soul out of you slowly. There are diamonds throughout teh entire garden, not just the shed. I may try to get kids being dragged out on our garden tour to start counting diamonds where ever they find them. At this point, there're hundreds and hundreds!


  4. Thanks Rachelle. My mom used to visit us here in Buffalo, and then we would visit her and find that she'd tried to emulate carpets we'd bought, curtains we had, or creative things we'd done around the house. We considered it a compliment. As far as the legs for the bench go, I'm a leg man, so I am discerning.


  5. I am sorry for your loss, which I know happened even before your mother passed away. My MIL also died after a few years of dementia difficulties and my dad after several strokes left him in similar shape. Your garden projects are, as always, fantastic!


  6. Thanks Leslie. Dementia and Alzheimer's take family by inches. It's horrible to experience on either end.


  7. Anonymous

    I, too, send condolences in the loss of your mother. I lost mine to Alzheimer's complications 7 years ago. In the end, when I visited her, she would talk on and on about her daughter (me) having absolutely NO idea that I was that daughter. It was bittersweet…hearing how much I meant to her, and knowing she had no idea I was that daughter!Your projects are absolutely fantastic! My daughter just purchased 2 homes on 3 acres of blank slate property…she will be so excited to view your landscaping and projects and to “steal” ideas!


  8. Sorry for your loss too. I think one of the worst things about Alzheimer's (for family anyway) is that it is so wrought with heartache, confusion, and sadness, that it overwhelms the memories of the good times. My mom had 70+ great years and just under 7 years that were not good at all. It's hard to get over those last few years to remember all the great years she had. Have your daughter steal any ideas she can. God knows I stole them all from others!


  9. I love all these projects!! Very fabulous and artsy. I'm so sorry about your mom. Alzheimer's is such a nasty thief. 😦


  10. The table is a fine addition to the shed and you never know what will pop up in the ReStore. I too lost my mother to Alzheimer's four years ago, and your story mirrors my experience. She was in Johnson City, I in Virginia. She was the gardener in the family, so I like to think I am carrying on her tradition.Ray


  11. Pingback: A garden post post

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