Saturday, September 3, 2011

BACKYARD CHRONICLES: FEET

Still finding new things in the backyard.  Things like feet.


SCRIMP VS. SPLURGE

I need a bed.


I haven't slept on a normal bed-- like a really bed-y, bed-like bed?-- for a few years.  Mattress/box spring on the floor?  Yes.  Air mattress on the floor?  Yep.  Couch?  Indeed.  In fact, in the absence of a real bed-like bed, 'couch' is the option I've been going with for the last couple of weeks.

sweet dreams are made of this


I've gone so long without a real bed-like bed mostly because I'm lazy.  I suppose I should have gotten around to this a couple of years ago?  But, you  know, I...didn't.  Also, I can sort of sleep anywhere (and really, any time) so I didn't feel terribly compelled to figure it out.  Plus-- hey-- real beds?  Those are expensive!


But now, I think the time has come.  I own a house; my house should contain a bed.  A real, bed-y, bed-like bed.  Because I am an old lady, I want an adjustable bed.  I also want a memory foam mattress.  You know what though-- those are *expensive!*


I've gone to 4 different mattress stores now, trying to comparison shop, to wheel, to deal.  It is Labor Day weekend, so there are sales to be explored.  But I think I no matter what, it's going to be expensive.  Essentially, the options on the table are:
1.  expensive
2. *expensive*
3.  *EXPENSIVE!*


My instinct, of course, is split.  I find myself in this kind of situation frequently lately.  For example, do I hire a more expensive handyperson, on the assumption that they will do a better job?  Or is there really no consistent correlation between the rate per hour and the skill of the person?  Similarly, do I go with nicer carpets, since I will have to look at them every day?  Or really, are they just carpets?


With the three bed options, #3 is easy to rule out.  I am, after all, a middle class girl at heart.  Having been raised at the midpoint of the median in the middle of the economic road, I can't even fathom Option #3.  In discussing Option #3 with a salesman (and they are ALL men, in these mattress places), I found out it would cost me $280/month for 18 months.


Me: $280/month?  That's a car payment.  No.
Salesman:  Well, these last even longer than cars!  You let me know where your car is in 10 years!
Me: No YOU shut up.


OK, I didn't tell him to shut up.  But -- he should shut up.  My car in 10 years.  haaaaarumph.  That is not the point.


(Is it?)


I had a different salesman who quoted me a too-high price over the phone also pitch a bit of a fit when I balked at the total.


Me:  OK, well thank you for that information, I appreciate it.  Should I call this number if I decide to go ahead with this?
Salesjerk: Wait, so what's stopping you from going ahead with this?
Me:  I don't want to.  Not right now?  I need to visit a couple of actual stores before I make my decision.
Salesjerk: Come on, you know you're not going to find a lower price than what I'm giving you, Cristina.
Me: Um...actually, I think that's the point-- I don't know that, not yet.
Salesjerk:  Are you not really committed to buying an adjustable bed?
Me:  [......?]
Salesjerk: Well, maybe you're not really committed to buying an adjustable bed.  I'm just trying to help you get what you want, Cristina.
Me:  Um...y-yeahhh, well.  I...[does he have to keep saying my name?]
Salesjerk:  Are you on drugs?  You sound like you're on drugs.
Me:  [hangs up]


The point for me is that I can't afford anything approaching option #3, however long it lasts or however much I want it.


So, I am trying to put together something along the lines of Option #1.  This will involve creative use of Macy's for the adjustable frame, Overstock for the memory foam mattress, and a self-assembeled Ikea frame to wrap it all up.  This will save me about $800-$900 over Option #2.  Given what I've learned about this type of bed and mattress, I think what I've picked should work.


But then, Paranoia Alert starts to sound its alarms, and I think-- BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN'T?  WHAT IF IT DOES NOT WORK, AND THEN I AM A FOOL WHO HAS TRIED TO SAVE MONEY WHEN SHE SHOULD HAVE SPENT IT?  WHAT IF I AM ZIGGING WHEN I SHOULD ZAG, SCRIMPING WHEN I SHOULD SPLURGE?  Because, I mean-- what if I should just pay the extra, and end up with a frame and mattress that I have actually tried out and that are made to go together?  Isn't that better than taking a somewhat educated guess on the internets, especially since this is a bed?


But then again- $900.  This is ridiculous.  Maybe my creatively-sourced bed will not be the most amaaaazing thing ever to exist, but it'll be fine.  It'll be nice, definitely nicer than what I've had in a while. Creatively sourcing it just makes it a Frankenbed.  And then, I'll have $900 to put towards something else in the house.  Doors, maybe-- doors for the closets.  That would be good.  I want this bed to be nice, but it's far from the only big bucks event at the Frankenhouse.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.


I worried about a lot of things before signing my life away for the Frankenstein House.  One thing I  didn't pay much attention to was the front door.  I noticed that it existed, and that it opened, and that it closed with some difficulty.  But with everything else going on, that was the end of my door thoughts. 

Doors.  Who cares?  

I'm just a door, in the world.

Just to be on the safe side, before I moved in, I looked up doors online at Home Depot.  The ones I liked  cost a couple hundred bucks.  Great!  I thought.  I'll deal with that later if I have to, and it'll be no big deal.

So, as with a variety of other things, I was wrong about that.  

Not long after I moved in, of course, I started to notice things about the front door.  Frankenthings, if you will.  I am not an inordinately tall person, but the doorknob was at my lower hip.  The door also didn't fit in the doorway very well; I had to pull the door to the left, and then shove it hard to get it to close all the way.  When I did that, the front windows rattled their displeasure at being disturbed.  The door's white color turned out to be paint, which had the feel of plastic coating, and started to peel off and reveal shards of bright red underneath.

But, I kind of thought-- oh well.  That's what I get for not paying attention to that, I guess.  That'll just have to be what it is for a while.  I can live with it.

Then, the bottom of the door fell off.
  

something is missing...


oh, it's the thing that goes at the bottom of a door,
that thing that keeps outdoor things from walking in.

The door had been eaten by termites, and so the wood could no longer support the screws that held the bottom thing in place.  I know that bottom thing has a name.  Sweeper?  Not that.  But you know what I mean.  The door was wood, and even though the sellers had paid for termite fumigation as part of the terms of the sale, it hadn't been done soon enough to prevent the door from being someone's tasty last meal.  


The fear of bug incursions motivated me to quick action.  I went immediately to Home Depot, expecting to spend that couple hundred bucks.  I was sure it couldn't be much more than that to have a door installed.


So, as you perhaps expected, I was wrong about that.


I couldn't get a standard size door off the shelf at Home Depot-- or rather, I could if I wanted to, but I'd have to find a way to make it fit the non-standard doorway dimensions of the Frankenhouse.  The other option was to have a custom door installed.


I figured-- well, this is not the time for DIY.  I could see that the sellers, in a laudable attempt to save money, had DIYed (DITed?) the door, and that had resulted in the door's less-than-charming array of Frankenthings.  So, I decided to go ahead and jump in for my first major house purchase: a much-more-expensive-than-anticipated new door.  I located my nearest bullet, bit it hard, and consoled myself with the fact that I really liked the new door design.


When the installers came, a father and son team, I was working from home and was watching their every move.  I'd been told to be suspicious of Home Depot and its contracting ways, and so I was on High Paranoia Alert.  I noticed that they hadn't put up any bags to catch flying debris, as they should, per EPA regulations given the age of my house.  Surreptitiously, from my dining table perch, I photographed them as they worked.  Let's take a minute for that to sink in-- I took pictures of them.  I did that.  Who does that?


When the project coordinator called to see how everything was going, I yelled: 


I WAS TOLD YOUR INSTALLERS WOULD TAKE PROPER PRECAUTIONS AND THEY HAVE NOT DONE SO AND I WILL NOT SIGN THAT I AM SATISFIED UNLESS YOU GET ME AN EXPLANATION.  ARE YOU GOING TO PAY MY HOSPITAL BILLS WHEN I HAVE LEAD PAINT POISONING OR MESOLTHELIOMA?  I MEAN, NOT TO BE TOO DRAMATIC, BUT THIS IS AN OLD, LETHAL HOUSE!  IT *WILL* KILL ME.  DO YOU UNDERSTAND?


The project manager said she would call me back, and hung up quickly.


Before the installers left, I asked them why they hadn't put up any protective bagging around the door as they worked.

Well, the Father of the pair said, looking startled-- we didn't really cut anything.  We made one cut to the wood on each side of the doorway, and we vacuumed the debris from that.  Other than that, all we had to cut was nails.  It didn't make sense to put up a plastic bag to make 2 cuts.  Sometimes, the EPA goes too far.

I had seen the nails, sticking out every which way in the guts of the doorway, and I could see why he would have had to cut them.  But I also felt like -- I have no idea whether it makes sense or not to put up a plastic bag to make 2 cuts.  When someone tells me they think the EPA goes too far, that triggers the first alarms of Paranoia Alert.  And even though I was taking pictures, I have no idea how many times they actually cut into the wood of the door frame.


I felt like all I had to go on was what this Father was telling me.  He seemed genuinely surprised that I was worried that he hadn't put up a plastic bag around the doorway.  

The High Paranoia Alert died down.  I signed the papers.  I felt silly for the surreptitious photography.  The Father and Son went on their way.  I called the project manager and explained what I had been worried about.  She still sounded like she was little a bit afraid of me.  


And there is so much to fear!  So much to fear, potentially and actually, in owning any house, and particularly in owning this house.  Things you didn't even expect to be dealing with or thinking much about can become opportunities for yelly paranoia.


But!  After all of that, the front door:

fake leaded glass, like these windows.
yes, the light switch next to it is crooked.
pretend you don't notice.  thanks.

I can shut it now!  Without having to reach down six inches and pull to the left and heave, without window rattling, without leftover paint and misplaced colors.  I like it!  And of all the things to be afraid of, I am no longer afraid of bug incursions, or of the door being eaten away.  This door is fiberglass.  Fiberglass is nobody's snack.


But...fiberglass is basically plastic, right?  Doesn't plastic cause cancer?  And if I start to show signs of lead poisioning...maybe I should start saving now to cover all the hospital bills?  


Oh well.  In the meantime, I have to say, I'm very much enjoying shutting (and opening!) my lovely new front door.