Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Ultimate Bedache

I hate clutter. You wouldn't know by seeing the interior of my home, as a liberal collection of it is visible at almost any time. Part of this is from the lack of meaningful storage in American houses. As a result, I look for furniture that takes advantage of the space it uses by providing storage. As an example, my living room coffee table is actually a chest that is also my horizontal filing cabinet.

Several years ago I saw an advertisement for The Ultimate Bed. WOW!! It showed what is essentially two 6-drawer chests of drawers with a platform bed on top. Talk about hitting multiple hot-buttons with me!!! In addition to hating clutter, I hate box springs, so this product was calling my name. The fact that it is made in the USA set the hook firmly in my jaw. All that remained was to reel in this fish. Of course, the downside is that it was not inexpensive and other things were higher on the list, like paying off the house.

Fast forward to 2010. Money saved up, bed selected and careful delivery plans were flawlessly executed by the manufacturer and Federal Express. Kudos all around.

The day after Thanksgiving we disassembled the old bed and made room to set up the new. When I read that the bed came in several cartons, my vision was that the chests of drawers were each in their own carton, the headboard in another, the platform in several pieces, etc.. Oh contraire! The cartons were small and flat. This gave me pause. No sweat. We were two mechanically-inclined adults with Makita power tools. We could easily wrestle this bed into submission.

By the end of day 1, I could barely walk -- my back was shot. My husband was whipped. The two dressers and drawers came together after only about 6 hours AND we only had minor issues that required dis- and re- assembly. My husband estimated that we had installed at least 200 screws by day's end. We slept on the fold-out in the living room that night.

Day two was equally full and saw the manifestation of the platform and headboard. Of course, I wanted the mission-style. Surprise!! Each slat of the design (there are 29 slats) required placement on their specific spot and installation of two screws. The good news is that the top and bottom rails have spacing tape already on them to make the slat placement easier -- no need to measure and mark off the spacing yourself. However, it would have been nice if the directions stated to put the slats on the BLACK lines. We counted slats and counted black spaces and decided they were meant to go on the WHITE lines. Oops, we miscounted and had one slat left over. So, unscrew, reposition on black, and reattach.

By dinnertime, approximately 15 hours elapsed time after opening the first carton and reading the directions, we were able to replace the mattress on the new bed and start filling the drawers. My dear husband's back was on fire -- a rare occurrence. The projects I had planned for the long weekend had not been touched -- other than the bed.

The good news is that the bed is very nice. The drawers are a bit smaller than I had expected -- about half the size of my old dresser drawers. That part is OK, as the excess clothing will go to a good cause. We moved two dressers from the bedroom, leaving our nightstands and a comfy chair. The headboard has reading lamps so we now have less clutter on our nightstands as well.

The bad news is that it is Tuesday morning and despite pain meds, my back is only starting to return to normal. I ended up taking today off from work to recover. I know that a year from now I will have forgotten the discomfort -- like forgetting the pain of childbirth by the baby's first birthday. I love my new bed, but I am still recovering from my Ultimate Bedache!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Old Year's Resolution

Twice in two days I have been really irritated by the concept of waiting in a long line to give a merchant my money. I work hard for my pay and the concept that the merchant does not want to add one more $7.50 per hour checker to handle the crowd makes me crazy. Yesterday, I resolved not to put up with this form of tyranny. Oh, before then I might occasionally abandon a cart-o-stuff if the management was not paying attention to the queues, but now it is a crusade.

Yesterday, I was polite about it when I found 7 people in line and 1 checker out of 9 aisles. I mentioned nicely that I'd like to leave my money in their store (Hastings Books), but if they didn't open a register soon, I'd just leave without their merchandise. It worked, and by the time we got to the cashier, there were 3 aisles open and people still standing in lines 3 deep.

Queuing theory is not lost on me. Yes, lines wax and wane throughout the day, blah, blah, blah. A sharp manager will know when to open a line so that people don't leave their stuff. That was the story today -- not the sharp manager part. I left my cart of selected stuff and walked out.

Sure, I spent 30 minutes picking it out, but I wasn't about to waste 30 minutes waiting for a chance to pay for it. Either a merchant wants my business, or they don't. Making me wait more than 5 minutes to leave my money is unacceptable to me. Why 5 minutes? Because that's about how long it will take for me to find the same things and pay for them on line. When I buy on line I do not need to wait in line -- on-line, not in-line -- catchy, eh?

News Flash for Mr or Ms Store Manager: not opening the other cashier is false economy. When I leave my cart-o-stuff, it actually costs you MORE than having the checker open. Someone will need to handle, think about where it goes and reshelve every item. A cashier could have checked me out in 3 minutes. Reshelving will take 8 to 10 minutes, because my stuff was from all over the store -- and you won't have the $50 I would have spent, so that's a net loss to you, Ross dress-for-less!

WHEW. I feel better now. Perhaps good enough to go back for the same stuff tomorrow and use my Senior discount. Now that's adding insult to injury for the store's bottom line!

So anyone else have a shopping pet peeve?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Preparing for two holidays at once

I'm starting to confuse myself! Which is the Thanksgiving list and which is the Christmas list?? This year we are trying to shop frugally and thoughtfully for Christmas. I won't have time to make everyone's gift, and my talents aren't that strong so buying enters the picture.

One gift I've given before that is really easy to make are nice bread boards. Most of the ones for sale are made of strips of scrap wood from China glued together. They tend to split into kindling in my kitchen. In years past, I went to Home Depot and bought a 5/8th inch thick, maple or oak board, 6 to 8 inches wide. My husband was kind enough to cut them to 10 inch lengths on the table saw. A couple of pieces of sand paper and a bottle of mineral oil, combines with a few hours of sitting in the evening and POOF, you have sturdy breadboards. I really abuse mine and only one has split, probably because it was a foot square, which is too wide for a board that gets wet and dried often.

My brother is easy. He loves a type of German Chocolate that he can't get in Boise, so that's his 'big present'. Everyone gets a bottle of dried rosemary from my garden. My sister usually has a list and assigns us a gift. No surprises, but at least you know she won't be returning it. Two lucky winners will get breadboards with nice but small breadknives I found on sale. Maybe only one, if I can't stand to part with the other one...

People at work get this year's wonderful Penzey's spice collection (Total bargain: 4 bottles of either baking or BBQ spices for $8) and a locally made tree ornament. My boss will get a coveted bottle of black currant preserves from my garden, not because I want to impress him, but because he is a good Christian man who works hard for the good of his organization AND he loves black currant jam.

That leaves about 6 people and I'm clueless about them. Three are over 80 and in moderately good health. I'm thinking edibles, but low cal. The others are in their 30's and I'm lost. If anyone out there has a suggestion about this age group, not too expensive, I'd love to hear some ideas. I usually keep gifts under $25 for a lot of reasons, and the recipients are relative conservative people (if that helps). Thanks for any ideas you may send my way!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dog People

My husband and I are dog people. We like having a companion who is smart, but not surly like cats are. Why have a pet if they are not here for your companionship and vice versa? We have had several dogs in the years we have been together. The first, Dusty, was a terrier mix who looked like a fox terrier had mixed itup with a basenji. Nice enough dog who came into my life when she was 9 or 10 years old, but was raised by cats so had some interesting traits. Once she figured out that if she calmed down she could be a house dog, all went well.

Our next dog was THE dog of my life. She was the result of a dog-sitting accident between a golden retriever and an english cocker spaniel. From the first day, she was cute beyond belief. She looked like stuffed bear, so we named her Teddy, of course. We bonded while she was a puppy and she was our little girl for many years. When she was about 6 weeks old, she sat inthe middleof the kitchen floor, threw back her head and let our a little puppy howl "ROOoooooo!" It was one of her many vocalizations and we loved it. She learned to hunt birds from Dusty -- the dog raised by cats. One day I watched her and she was like clockwork -- flush the birds to the east, switch back, wait and catch them when they turned to avoid the north fenceline after avoiding the east fenceline. Dang, she was doing some serious planning and the bird went right into her mouth -- never saw it coming.

She was also a fierce watchdog. She went from cute to protective in nothing flat. It always startled and amazed me, but it was her job and she took it very seriously.

A few weeks after she was in heat, she started nesting. She had several favorite babies and moved them religiously around the house as she went about her daily routine. She would have been a good mom, but had bad hips, so it was not to be. It was still incredibly cute to see her nurture her little squeeky toys for a few days before getting back to being herself.

The tough part about being dog people is the bargain. For all the joy and love, our companions,
their lives are too short. It has been a year since she went on to puppy heaven and I miss her. I hope some day to go to puppy heaven too so I can hang out with her again. She was a good one.