Household calamities can catch you unaware. A recent near miss involved a new table and chairs with off-white fabric cushions, purchased for our downstairs family room.

Prior to buying the new set, our pine dinosaur with two leaves dominated the room — a table we fell in love with at Otto and Company 45 years ago, just after we were married.

Poor old thing. Only two of its captain chairs were still serviceable, early American clunkers that were all the rage when Harvey Wallbangers were the cocktail of the day, and cloth diapers were preferred over paper ones just being introduced.

There were lots of meals served around that table and board games played. The pine was soft and the girls each had a go at practicing the alphabet and printing their names — efforts that left deep impressions in the wood — as did the happy faces they drew. That table became a permanent display for their endeavors.

Ready for a New Table?

For quite a few years, Spark and I had contemplated sacking the old table, but we drug our feet, just couldn’t decide if the time was right to relegate it to the unfinished area to gather dust and become one more thing we ought to get rid of.

Besides a new table would cost a lot and our grandkids were still young. We didn’t want to be on them all the time to be careful with the furniture.

The pine table also was perfect when Miles and Reed built their Lego creations, and was sturdy enough for Miles to sit on when he was deep into a project. It was handy when our granddaughters colored and drew too, and we didn’t give a hank of hair if their artwork left impressions like their mothers’ had years before.

A visit to Union Furniture to look at a couch sealed our fate. We found a dark wood high table, with tall chairs and a bench we couldn’t pass up. It was so comfy with its cushioned seats. No worries about the tabletop — we’d order a pad to protect it when the grandkids came to visit.

We had our table and our bases covered. So we thought. Until the day Spark gave the boys Bing cherries to eat during Lego play, not realizing their little sister Phoebe ate around the seeds. In minutes she had red juice running down her chin and onto the cushion of one of the chairs. Thank goodness she came right upstairs to tell me.

Grateful for Google

I was frying chicken, and my legs got rubbery with her confession. I remain proud that I didn’t pitch a fit like I did ions ago when our toddler daughter Katie took a permanent magic marker to the new hand-quilted bedspread I’d just had made.

I learned back then that rushing to get a spot out isn’t the best course of action.

Instead I thought for a minute and then Googled, “How to get cherry juice out of fabric.” Martha Stewart to the rescue. She suggested soaking the stain in lemon juice. Much to my dismay, the spot only got bigger and darker the more I rubbed. I admitted defeat, setting the chair off to the side to dry and telling myself if it was ruined I’d just have to buy fabric and have our son-in-law reupholster the cushions.

The next morning, I went downstairs, approaching the chair with trepidation, and prayer. Wonder of wonders, the lemon juice had worked. The skies of joy opened and my sourpuss attitude lifted.

Lesson learned — Bing cherries at the kitchen bar only, green grapes downstairs.