“Was there ever a cause too lost, ever a cause that was lost too long…” – Robert Frost
Hey. You people. Do any of you know anything about wicker furniture? I need a wicker-knower to riddle me this: Is there a point at which a piece of wicker/rattan furniture is a lost cause?
Last week I was driving home and saw a chair in someone’s garbage. Something about the lines of the chair, all swoopy and swerved, made my brain go, “POING!” I needed that chair. In a fit of courage, I drove up the person’s driveway, knocked on their door, and asked if I could have their Garbage Chair.
“It’s broken,” the man said. “It’s garbage.”
“That’s okay!” I burbled. “I can totally fix it. I know all about wicker and fixing things and junk. I’m really super handy.” (<– LIE.)
So with his permission, I tossed his Garbage Chair into the boot of my car (<– I’m British!) and drove off, super happy and dreaming Big Dreams of Chair Makeover Madness.
Then I got the thing home and looked at it. Like, REALLY looked at it. It is gray and dry and brittle and the reeds that tie the pieces together are snapped and unraveling. There are nails. And cracks. And old flaky paint because someone painted that sucker an eon ago. There’s a piece missing.
Suddenly Garbage Chair actually looked like garbage.
I got on the Internet and researched how to repair wicker and it looks straightforward, though time-consuming. I could buy new reed and tie the thing all up with fancy knots and upholstery tacks. I could apply linseed oil to (in theory) make it less brittle. I could pray over it. But is it worth it? Oh, ye wicker-knower out there in the great webosphere of knowledge and lore, tell me if Garbage Chair is worth saving.
Here she is, in the back of my dirty car. The photo makes her look better than she actually is. Putting aside her busted up state, you have to admit that she’s swoop-tastically lovely. If I determine that she’s structurally sound, I think I may paint her Super Bright White and use neon plastic wicker to re-do all of her ties. Rattan Garbage Chair + white paint + neon = AWESOME.
P.S. This is what the chair would like it if it had been taken care of. These are the Garbage Chair, all supple and loved.
“An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.” – Albert Einstein
News flash: Albert Einstein was a genius. An empty stomach is a horrible adviser, and not just of politics. There is, after all, a very good reason we invented the word “hangry.” But since I’m neither political nor hungry, and am instead empty-headed and inundated with home improvement projects, I would like to say instead that, “An empty brain is not a good companion for home improvement.”
Sadly, I don’t have a snazzy portmanteau word like “hangry” to describe my confuddled state of mind.
I have a running list of home improvement projects but I cannot for the life of me fathom how to start them. Knowledge is the problem. As in, I have none. I fear that some time in my 36 years (my birthday is next week… GAH!) the contents of my brain oozed out of my ears and dripped quietly on the floor. If I once knew something, I know it no longer. This includes geography, the words to Eleanor Rigby, all card games, the basic structure of our government, and math.
Last night I sat on my driveway, contemplating my neighbor’s pretty planter boxes. I want to create similar boxes along the side of my house. I looked and looked at the boxes, noting how the tops were perfectly level. I stared at the base of each box, seeing the rows of wood stretch uniformly until they met the sloped ground.
Did my neighbor do math to make those boxes?
Did he determine the rise of the hill, the height and length of each wood plank, and then calculate how to cut and lay the wood to make the perfectly leveled boxes before me? Or did he just put a piece of wood on the hill, eyeball it, cut it, add another, eyeball that and cut it, and so on?
I don’t pitch my tent in the “measure twice cut once” camp, but I don’t think eyeballing this kind of lunacy is going to work. I am not Einstein. I cannot prove the existence of molecules, or explain the nature of space and time, and I certainly can’t figure out how to build a straight box on a slope. So people, my good Internet people, please tell me: HOW THE HELL DO YOU MAKE STRAIGHT THINGS ON NOT STRAIGHT OTHER THINGS?
Seriously, I need help. Or better yet, I should marry a landscape architect. Or a chiropractor. Or a chiropractor/landscape architect. Yeah, a chiropractor/landscape architect. Oh! And a chef. A chiropractor/landscape architect/chef that likes to clean and is handy with DIY projects around the house. That’s what I need.
“Life is made up of marble and mud.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Several months ago, my sister came to me with the idea of registering for one of those mud runs. You know, the kind where people muck endless miles through festering mud pools, jump into pits of liquid dirt, and eventually die from dehydration or being trampled upon. “It will be great!” she enthused. “We’ll put together a team and make a whole weekend out of it!” I must have been high at the time because I somehow agreed to that ridiculousness.
If you know me at all, you know that I hate running. I hate it so much that if my very life depended on me running, I would sooner roll over like a stink bug and let Death come to me. This flaming ball of hatred makes my decision to participate in the Mudderella* somewhat mystifying. Like I said, I must have been high.
But despite all that, I made epic Plans and Resolutions when I got my registration confirmation. I was going to train. I’d download apps and do push-ups and eat protein like the In Shape and Muscled do. I was going to turn myself into someone completely Other and I would ultimately kick the Mudderella’s ass.
None of that happened.
In fact, the only thing I did to prepare for the mud run was worry about it. When worrying stopped being effective, I began planning the things I WOULDN’T do during the run. I wouldn’t climb walls. I wouldn’t go in tunnels. I wouldn’t do any challenge that required people to touch me, which meant the wheelbarrow and piggyback were out. In fact, I told my teammates, I would just go AROUND the challenges. Also, I was walking that damn thing. Because, you know. RUNNING. Eww.
As race day approached, my stressed-out heartbeat took up residence in my ears and all I heard was, “Mud mud… mud mud… mud mud…” I thought my stress level couldn’t go any higher, but then I read The Waiver.
“The Mudderella event is meant to be an extreme test of toughness, strength, stamina, camaraderie, and mental grit that takes place in one place in one day. It is not a race against other contestants, but rather a competition with oneself and the course. The object is to complete the course. Venues are part of the challenge and usually involve hostile environments that might include extreme heat or cold, snow, fire, mud, extreme changes in elevation, and water. Some of the activities include runs, military style obstacles, going through pipes, traversing cargo nets, climbing walls, encountering electric voltage, swimming in cold water, throwing or carrying or getting hit with heavy objects, and traversing muddy areas. In summation, the Mudderella event is a hazardous activity that presents the ultimate physical and mental challenge to participants.”
I officially panicked at “electric voltage.”
The Waiver went on to detail the various injuries one could sustain during the event, neatly categorized by Minor, Serious, and Catastrophic. The mildest of injuries was “scrapes.” The most severe was “death.” “Multiple organ failure,” “broken bones,” and “hypothermia” rounded out the impressive list, making it one of the most terrifying documents I have ever signed.
“It’s a challenge,” my sister said, when I mentioned the electric voltage. “No, it’s the HUNGER GAMES,” I replied.
The day of the run came and went and… I didn’t die. In fact, I surprised the hell out of myself. I abandoned all of my planning and actually went into the muddy tunnels. I tried to climb the walls (but failed). I clambered over cargo nets, slid over berms, and crawled through pits. I even ran a bit. I went five miles through the toughest terrain I have ever experienced and I lived to tell the tale.
My sister has already mentioned registering for our next run. I am considering it.
Seriously, I must be high.
*That’s what the event was called. It’s the girl-only version of the Tough Mudder.
“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” – Edward R. Murrow
I have lived in my house for 164 days and in that time I have done the following things:
- Unpacked 3 boxes
- Created a pile of “tool-like things” in the corner of my kitchen and then left it there
- Started a lint bin for my dryer lint that I have yet to empty
- Got my arm stuck behind the couch and then freaked the hell out
- Got super depressed over the emotional and physical well-being of my birdies
- Lost my ever-lovin’ shit when The Cat started peeing on the basement wall
- Almost (but not really) burned myself to a crisp when the breaker decided to melt
- Froze my tookus off from countless drafts and faulty windows
- Wondered why my heat pump sucks so much and blows so little
- Shoveled a metric ton of snow
- Planned innumerable home improvement projects
- Started zero home improvement projects
- And instead borrowed a friend’s PS3 and played 74 hours of my favorite game, Fallout: New Vegas
I will cut myself a little slack on the non-improvement status of my home improvement projects by saying that several of those projects require professional help. Like replacing my windows. I need a certified window-replacer to do that, even though my father insists that it’s super easy and we can bust it out in over three beers and under an hour.
My other major project is replacing the flooring. Right now there is this horrible low quality carpeting that mats down when you walk on it and perfectly hides bird poop. One might think that hiding bird poop is a good thing when one owns birds who like to poop on the floor, but I am here to assure you that IT IS NOT. There is nothing worse than stepping barefoot in a warm puddle of poo that camouflaged expertly into the mottled browns of the carpet.
I want to replace the floors, but there are other things I need to do first because those things will affect where the floor is laid. For example, I eventually want to replace the vanity in the main floor bathroom with one that has legs (not the traditional cabinet style), which means that the new flooring will have to extend beneath it. Therefore, I must first remove the existing vanity so that I can lay the floor and then put the new vanity on top of it.
Similarly, I want to figure out WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING WITH MY STAIRS, and I believe that will affect the flooring as well.
My stairs. They have… something weird going on with them. There are the stairs, and then running up the right side of the stair (where the banister should be) is a 6″ board that my nephews like to slide down, and then next to that is a knee wall. I don’t understand the purpose of the 6″ board and in fact believe that it serves no purpose at all and therefore I want to get rid of it.
Only that presents a problem with the knee wall.
Okay, knock down the knee wall. I want to put in traditional banisters anyway.
Only the knee wall meets up with a regular wall and that regular wall extends up the stairwell to the ceiling. If I knock down the wall and put in a banister, I’m going to have a weird sticky-out piece of wall and ceiling where the stairs turn at the landing. Um… Ooooooookay. I could, um, build out the existing second floor wall so that it meets the new banister line so that there aren’t weird sticky-out pieces, but something about that doesn’t look right in my head.
This is suspiciously looking like math and physics and I do not like either of those things.
The more I contemplate this problem of banister-wall-ceiling-WTF, the more confused I get. I can’t get the pieces to line up and it’s boggling the hell out of my brain. I want to call in some sort of construction expert to tell me what to do, but my self-respect insists that I can do this on my own if I just sketch it out. Or spend more than 20 seconds at a time thinking about it.
Still, it’s annoying. A lot like the game Flux that Mr. Mystery used to try and make me play, a game in which the rules would change just as you achieved a winning hand. Just when I think I have this stair-wall-banister thing figured out, everything goes floopy and I find that the Milk and Cookies card isn’t going to end the insanity and make everything line up the way I want.
If you’re confused by that last sentence, then welcome. You’re my kind of non-Flux-playing people. And if you’re not confused? I hate you and your never-ending card game.
I also hate math and physics and my stupid stairwell and its stupid 6″ board of no purpose.