Friday, September 16, 2011


Catalogs seem to happen when you become a homeowner.  As homeowners, we're all considered wild shopping animals that will respond to catalog bait.  And I mean-- some of us must respond to these things, right?  Why else would these catalogs be so large, so glossy?  

The catalogs present their bait in different ways; each catalog has its own specific flavor of message to the Homeowning Animal.  The Ikea catalog was thick with syrupy passive-aggressive criticism of You As a Person.  Ikea wants you to know that Well, You're OK, But We Know A Better You Is Within Reach!  Reaching for the Ikea product means reaching for a better you.

This week, the Restoration Hardware catalog came.  Restoration Hardware proffers its bait much more casually, with the studied cool of someone who would use the word "classy" unironically.  This bait is served with wine and a wink.  According to Restoration Hardware, You're Better Than That Swedish Store, and Frankly, We Know That About You and We Congratulate You On Your Discernment.   Reaching for the Restoration Hardware product is reaching for your passport to insta-class.

go towards the light...

"There are pieces that furnish a home. 
And those that define it."
I mean...doesn't most furniture pretty much do both?

Mmmm, yes, furnish vs. define.  Because when you're looking for furniture, you think to yourself: I really want something to define my home.  I don't want this furniture to merely furnish, because obviously that would be a disappointment.

Restoration Hardware's recipe for class bait seems pretty straightforward actually-- there aren't too many ingredients.  In each room in the catalog, you see:
  • No color
  • Enormous light fixtures
  • Gargantuan mirror
The feelings conveyed by these rooms include:
  • Boredom
  • Desire to take a nap
  • Urge to see what's on TV
Watch-- we'll go through a few major rooms in the Restoration Hardware house.

Restoration Living Room

Zero color? Check.
Planet-sized light fixture?  Yep.
Mirror that doubles as portal to the Twilight Zone?  Can't miss it.

What emotion does this evoke for you?  
I feel mighty sleeeeepy...oooh, I'm going to curl up on that couch, just for a minute...I'll be right...

This catalog also gives lavish, detailed descriptions of some of the pieces in the room.  
The detail usually emphasizes the piece's roots in another time, or place, or both.  Before we take a nap on that couch, let's see what the catalog writers want us to know about the tables:

"Originally a pallet used to transport bricks in a
turn-of-the-century brickworks.  Handcrafted wood and steel."

Translation: Old-timey poor people touched this.  $1500.
"Inspired by the voluptuous form of a vintage hayrack,
our one-of-a-kind table is topped with timeworn, reclaimed oak."

Translation: You have no idea what a 'hayrack' is, do you?  Didn't think so.  $900.  

Restoration Bedrooms

Bedroom 1

Hatred of color's freedoms?  Obviously.
Light fixture that people could fit inside?  Yeah.
Mirror the size of a toddler?  Sure enough.

What feeling does this room bring up for you?  I look at this, and I think...I'll go to another room and watch TV, or go outside and see if anything interesting is happening.

But before you run to another room in search of color or life, let's look at the detail 
on the bedframe's design:

"Inspired by a mid-19th century second empire design with
elaborately carved moldings and a distressed finish."

Translation:  Go ahead, throw out 'second empire' in front of your friends!
Enjoy how impressed they will look!
Bedroom 2

So: check, check, check.  Color's been banished to a more interesting catalog.  Arguably, this light fixture is not as big as the others, but it definitely makes an impact.  Even if the light fixture is smaller, the mirror compensates for that with its ongoing expansion!  This mirror is terrifying to me-- it looks like the wall has a disease, and the bad news is: it's spreading.  

What does this room do for you?  For me, it doesn't do much, other than make me want to double check that I'm up to date on all my vaccinations.

Before you call your doctor, some more detail on that mirror:
"Hand-carved wood mirror, inspired by the fanned tail feathers of the peacock,
known as 'the bird with a hundred eyes,' with rows of aged nickel-silver glass."

Translation: I can't translate this one, because all I can think is how I don't want
100 peacock-tail eyes staring down at me in my bedroom.  Also, I think I've developed a mysterious rash.  I need to make a quick call to my GP, I'll be right back...

Restoration Dining Room

Again, color does not get invited to the party-- the only color comes from the pots on the table.  And is that a chair coming down from the ceiling?  Whoops no, that's the enormous light fixture, which is preparing to eat the table.  You see that floor-length mirror of to the right?  So, done done and done.

How do you feel about all this?  Of all the rooms, I think I like this the best.  But still, I just...yaaawn.  I yawn and I wonder...isn't there more to life than this?

Before the waves of existential angst break on our shores, let's read the detail on this page.  You want to guess what the detail on the light fixture is?  I bet you could figure it out.  
Here it is:
"Handcrafted from reclaimed French oak wine barrel staves and hoops."

Translation: We said "French" and "wine," so.  $2200.

How did that Restoration Bait taste?  Do you feel classier having had the Restoration Experience?  Personally, I feel annoyed and angsty. I'll be going shopping at Salvation Army tomorrow, out of spite and in search of meaning.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Before I tell you this, I want you to know that I will do my best to keep this story from gross-gross-EW--EW-GROSS-GROSSING YOU OUT.  This subject matter is disgusting.

It's about a cockroach.

A female cockroach (don't ask me how I know).

A female cockroach sneaking into my house, I think, in a cardboard box.   

[Here's where I was going to have an image of a female cockroach, but I couldn't bring myself to actually save and then upload such an image here.  I will do gross, but that is too far.  Instead, I will use a picture of Shania Twain, for reasons that will become clear...

...see, not a female cockroach.  In fact, she is lovely.]

As I've mentioned, I need a bed.  So, I ordered a memory foam mattress on, and so, as sometimes happens when one orders from the internets, the item was delivered in a cardboard box.  I got home last night and saw the Overstock box on my front porch and thought: yay!  mattress!  Maybe I'll sleep, like a bit more normally in a real bed?

So, I was not really thinking about cockroaches at that point.  Nope, just happy thoughts of wheee, sleep!  Ohhhh, sleep on a mattress!  

I dragged the 70lb. box with the mattress into the house.  This was kind of a fun part, because the box almost did not fit through the larger of my two hallways:

yes, this is the larger of my two hallways.
this one is 29" wide.
this is going to be a fun game of "How Wide Is Your Hallway?"
every time I try to get furniture to my bedroom.

But so, we kept calm and carried on.  We persevered, and at last, the mattress box was hauled into my bedroom.  I opened the box and pulled the mattress out.  I started reading the information that came with the mattress, and after a few minutes, got distracted by my dog.  She was making the kind of fuss she makes when she wants a walk.  Alright, I said.  Let's go for a walk.  I grabbed my iPod, found my Crocs and my keys, and out we went.

It was a nice walk!  No cockroaches.  (At least, not that I saw.) 

We got back to the house, and I still had my headphones in while I refreshed my dog's water and got her a treat.  Dancing along to my iPod, I kicked off my shoes and decided to clean the main bathroom, which is right next to my bedroom.  I walked out of the bathroom and towards the kitchen to get my favorite quick-cleaning implement ever, Lysol wipes.  Thinking nothing but happy Lysol wipes thoughts, I turned the corner and noticed-- huh. That's weird-- my dog seems to think she's playing a game with something...I followed her

...a long-legged, scrambly-confused, 3-inch female cockroach.

I froze.  

My iPod was playing Shania Twain.  "Don't Be Stupid."*

What am I going to doooooo?  I can't kill it.  Trying to kill a cockroach is like...I don't know, like trying to get a Slipknot fan to give that Taylor Swift a try!  Futile.  100% not going to happen.

Don't be stupid, you know I love you.  Don't be ridiculous, you know I need you.  Don't be absurd, you know I want you.  Don't be impossible...fiddlefiddlefiddle-fiddlefiddlefiddle

After the shock, my sensation was mostly exasperation.  I thought: Really?  I have to dance with a scrambly-confused female cockroach in my bare feet?  With Shania Twain?  at 10pm?  on a school night? when all I want to do is sleep on my new mattress?



Well, I need a tool to dance this dance.  I need a dance implement.

My mind flashed on the the toilet plunger in the bathroom.  I reached around the corner and grabbed it (one of the benefits of a small house-- nothing's far from reach).

I covered Lady Legs with the plunger.  I plunged her.  Up and down, up and down.  

Then I thought-- well but, I'm not trying to unclog her. She's...not a toilet.  What is my next move here?

I scooted the plunger toward the back door, and flung the back door and rear security doors open.  For some reason, my dog ran screeeeaming out the door into the yard!  What? But I focused on Lady Legs and the plunger.  I got the plunger to the edge of the back door, and then tried my hardest to, in one motion, fling-scoop Lady Legs into the great dark outdoors.

She ended up parked just on the underside of the back door step.

Good enough.

I called my dog in.  

She wouldn't come.

Don't be, don't be ridiculousssss, no no

I called her again.  And again, with increasing desperation!  Standing in front of the back step, she could see Lady Legs.  Is that why she didn't want to come in?  She didn't want to walk by Lady Legs?  Can my dog be grossed out by cockroaches?  Maybe earlier, she wasn't so much playing with Lady Legs as she was trying to stay away from her?  

Well, too bad-- she needed to get over that-- now.  Desperate, I barked at her to get in the house before Lady Legs beat her to it.  


She came in.  

I slammed the doors.   


For good measure, I grabbed lemon Pledge and sprayed it under the door.  For better measure, I stuffed paper towels in all the cracks between the door and the doorway.

For best measure, I thanked my lucky stars that the pest control guy had just come for a visit four days previous, and had sprayed the front and back yards with all kinds of lethal material.  This fact gives me great hope that, in the event this was a pregnant female attempting to nest in a cozy cardboard box, she and her progeny will soon get facefulls of lethality and die.  Please, please, please let them die.

And thank you, Shania.  I am really trying not to be stupid. 

[*You SHUT UP.  That is a good song, and if you don't sing along with that song when you hear it, you and I might have to reconsider our relationship.  In my head, this is my karaoke song, but I improvise different lines.  Shhhh.  It's an absolutely amazing karaoke routine, in my head.]

Sunday, September 11, 2011


What kind of plant is this?
It's growing in my front yard, but I didn't plant it.
I don't know what it is.

Actually, there are three of these.  Three of these,
three of this plant that I did not plant.
Mary Squared, I believe, planted these three plants.
Man, These Three are some tall plants.

I planted other plants in the box, but
These Three Plants are taking over everything.
The other plants that I planted are kind of like, hey, um... I live here too?

But These Three Plants do not listen to my timid plants' attempts at claim-staking!
These Three Plants are HEALTHY, and they are going to THRIVE, so you just
The stalk of one of These Three Plants is so thick that my finger can't get around it.

These Three Plants are not just HEALTHY out of nowhere, they are also TALL.
The one in the middle is the tallest, and it is about up to my shoulder.
I think these may be beanstalks.
That is the only possible explanation.
So, I'm really looking forward to all the riches I can steal from the land of the giants,
once the beanstalks are tall enough to get me there.


So usually, in a house, you have lights.  In general, illumination is domestically necessary.  Personally though, I have an even greater need than most people for the feel of light in a home.  My relatively small Frankenstein House has approximately 1,287 light fixtures.  This is part of why I liked the house so much.  I need light!  I like an extra-large helping of brightness for all my home activities, including:

  • watching TV
  • talking to my dog about what's on TV
  • staring at the boxes I still haven't unpacked
  • avoiding sweeping the floor

While the effect of all the lights was lovely, the fixtures through which those lights shone were outdated.  Not outdated in the hip-again! sense.  Nope.  Just outdated in the left-behind? sense.  The light fixtures are one of the first things I've tried to change/update/unfrankify about the Frankenstein House.  Mostly because the updating process involves a lot of shopping, and then hiring, and zero DIY.

Previously, the house had a strange assortment of light fixtures that included spit bubbles, ET light fingers, and pointy-bra boobs. Today, I'm happy to say we've gotten almost all the way out with the old and in with the new, thanks to Home Depot, Lamps Plus, my Handy Lady, and BillTed, the Excellent Electrician.

Befores, and afters!

1.  Guest bathroom, before and after:

before: spit bubble
after: not a spit bubble

also, feel free to notice how well
the new sink fixture goes with the light fixture!
they are fixtures of a feather, flocking together.

2.  Main bathroom, before and after:

before: ET's finger
after: deco-ish rectangles.
no phoning home in here.

3.  My bedroom, before, before, and after:

before: would you like a close up of that light?
here it is.

what do you make of this?
I think: rococo rocket launcher.

before: yes, that was really the ceiling.
also really the light.

after: ahhh, now-- no more strangely sad painted ceiling clouds,
no more rococo rocket launcher light.

4.  Hallway and reading nook, before and after:

before: this was the fixture in the hallways,
and in the reading nook at the front of the house

after: hallway now
after: reading nook now

5.  Living room, before, after, and after:

before: boob light 

after: ceiling fan, with boob light hangover
after: ceiling fan, now with barely visible boob light hangover
thank you, Mary Squared, for leaving 
white paint in the basement

6. Dining room, before and after:

after: less red chamber, more me.
feel free to ignore the clutter on the built-in.

before: not altogether terrible,
but in person, the red was REALLY RED RED RED,
and the light brought to mind the word "chamber"

After all that, still two more light fixture changes to go:
7.  Office
8.  Kitchen nook

Those are still in the before stages.  Once I have lights installed for those areas, that'll be it!   The All-the-Way-There Remix, coming soon.